A fine goal from Thiago Alcantara was the highlight as Bayern Munich cruised to a 3-1 victory away to Mainz, their sixth straight Bundesliga triumph.

Bayern go two points clear at the top ahead of RB Leipzig, who have a chance to return to the summit when they play Borussia Monchengladbach later on Saturday.

The visitors were three up inside 26 minutes at Opel Arena, with Robert Lewandowski's 22nd top-flight goal of the campaign setting them on their way.

For the third straight game, both Thomas Muller and Thiago scored, as Jeremiah St. Juste's first-half header no more than a consolation.

Having reached 58 goals in their first 20 matches, a club record, Hansi Flick's side have huge momentum going into a huge match against Leipzig next week.

Mainz, meanwhile, have lost six of their last seven league matches and sit just three points off the bottom.

They had conceded six times in their last two meetings with Bayern and it only took eight minutes for the German champions to move in front, Lewandowski sending a thumping header past goalkeeper Robin Zentner from eight yards after Benjamin Pavard picked him out with a pinpoint cross from the right.

It was two just six minutes later, as Lewandowski ran in on goal and collided with Zentner, prompting Leon Goretzka to gather the loose ball and square for Muller to convert with a simple finish.

A clever Leandro Barreiro effort struck the post at the other end and Mainz were left to rue that near miss after 26 minutes, when Thiago took a pass from Alphonso Davies 25 yards and embarked on a weaving run past Pierre Kunde, St. Juste and Barreiro, before firing in with a left-footed finish.

St. Juste got one back in the last minute of the first half, heading in Daniel Brosinski's corner via a heavy deflection off Goretzka.

A quiet second period almost had a tense finale only for Thiago to make a decisive challenge as Mainz substitute Adam Szalai bore down on goal, while Lewandowski screwed wide from a late chance to make it four.

What does it mean? Bayern flying ahead of top-of-the-table clash

A key contest against Leipzig awaits next week, where depending on their rivals' result against Gladbach they will either go in top or just one point behind. With six straight wins, in which they have scored 23 times, Bayern are in great shape.

Lethal Lewandowski not slowing down

Lewandowski's impressive early header set the tone and he also created four chances for his team-mates. The clinical 31-year-old frontman has already matched his league goals tally for the whole of last season, though he should have added a late second.

Mainz lacking creativity

Jean-Philippe Mateta did not have his finest outing, substituted after 74 minutes having not had a shot or created a single chance for Mainz. But he did not have much help, with the trio behind him - Robin Quaison Jean-Paul Boetius and Levin Oztunali – not producing a single key pass between them.

What's next? 

In-form Bayern host Hoffenheim in the DFB-Pokal on Wednesday, while Mainz are away to Hertha Berlin next Saturday.

Leon Goretzka and Jerome Boateng's training ground incident has been settled, with Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick hopeful there will be no such further displays of emotion from his squad. 

Goretzka and Boateng were pictured in a bust-up on Wednesday as Bayern prepared for Saturday's Bundesliga trip to Mainz.

Images showed Boateng appearing to slap Goretzka in the face having reportedly been angered by a mistimed challenge from the former Schalke playmaker.

Flick, though, insists the dispute has already been put to bed.

"There were a lot of emotions in training. We played a small tournament, every team wanted to win," Flick told a media conference. 

"This shows that the attitude of this team is correct. What I didn't like was the emotionality. 

"I spoke to both of them on the phone in the evening. I am satisfied that it is in the past.

"I don't want to see this behaviour in the team. We have certain values. These things can be verbally sorted out, that's what I expect from the team.

"I don't think much of punishments. It happened for the first time under me. 

"I do not expect such forms of emotion again."

Bayern are a point behind Bundesliga leaders RB Leipzig in a fascinating title race. They host Leipzig at the Allianz Arena a week on Sunday, but Flick is adamant their focus is entirely on the challenge posed by Mainz.

"It's important for us to play well in Mainz on Saturday," he added.

"The opponent will put us under pressure in certain situations, switch quickly. They have fast and good players on offense who are looking for a goal. 

"We think from game to game, Leipzig is of no interest to us at all."

Barcelona appear ready to turn to their next coaching target as the LaLiga giants eye Mauricio Pochettino.

Ernesto Valverde is under enormous pressure after the Supercopa de Espana semi-final loss to Atletico Madrid, but Xavi has reportedly turned down the job – for now.

Amid contrasting reports over Barca's next decision, they may be lining up a move for Pochettino.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA CONTACT POCHETTINO OVER COACHING JOB

Barcelona contacted former Tottenham manager Pochettino to be their next boss, according to RAC1.

It comes as widespread reports in Spain say Al Sadd boss and former Barcelona star Xavi turned down the position.

Meanwhile, Catalunya Radio reported Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman also rejected the opportunity.

After a meeting on Sunday, Barca decided to stick with Valverde for now, according to Sport.

ROUND-UP

- Amid reports Manchester United had agreed to terms with Bruno Fernandes, the Mirror says the Premier League club are set to bid £65million (€76.1m) for the Sporting CP midfielder this week.

- Tottenham are set to sign Benfica's Gedson Fernandes as further details about a possible move emerge. Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano reports Spurs will sign the Portugal international on loan with an option to buy for between £42.7m (€50m) and £51.2m (€60m) in 2021.

- Jerome Boateng continues to be linked with a Bayern Munich exit. Milan are ready to challenge Arsenal for the defender, according to Sky Germany.

- Coming out of contract at season's end, it appears Layvin Kurzawa's future is away from Paris Saint-Germain. L'Equipe reports the left-back – who has made just five Ligue 1 starts this campaign – recently rejected Inter but the Serie A club remain hopeful of signing the 27-year-old this month.

- Juventus are looking to the future. CalcioMercato reports the Serie A champions are keeping an eye on teenage Ajax midfielder Ryan Gravenberch and AZ forward Calvin Stengs.

Bayern Munich interim coach Hansi Flick expects Jerome Boateng to remain at the club despite strong links with Arsenal.

Boateng, 31, has been at the club since joining from Manchester City in 2011 and was first-choice at the back for the first few years.

But fitness problems began to have an impact in 2015-16 and he is yet to play more than 20 Bundesliga matches in a single season since.

This term Boateng has featured in nine of a possible 17 league matches and, with Bayern looking more towards young players in most areas of the team and Arsenal in need of defensive reinforcements, the experienced centre-back has been linked with a departure.

Flick has doubts about him leaving, however.

"Jerome is a player of Bayern Munich and I will not concern myself with any rumours, that's what I did the last years," he told reporters.

"Jerome came back to training well-prepared, he prepared himself on holiday. So, I am curious what the next week will bring.

"But I will not concern myself with thoughts if he will leave the club or not. He didn't say anything regarding that and we are constantly in an exchange.

"We have to see how these things develop, but right now I cannot picture it [Boateng leaving]."

Bayern are on their mid-season break and will not return to competitive action until January 19 when they visit Hertha Berlin, with the defending champions trailing leaders Borussia Monchengladbach and RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga title race.

Manchester United have identified James Maddison or Jack Grealish as their top January transfer targets.

With Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay injured, United have concerns in midfield to begin 2020.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said United were looking at "one or two" January additions, and it appears their targets are also Premier League players.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD IDENTIFY MADDISON, GREALISH AS JANUARY TARGETS

Manchester United are prioritising a move for Leicester City's Maddison or Aston Villa's Grealish, according to the Independent.

United are looking to find greater consistency in the second half of the Premier League season, although they sit fifth in the table.

Grealish has provided five assists in the Premier League this campaign, while netting six times. Maddison also has six goals.

ROUND-UP

- Thomas Lemar is attracting interest from Tottenham. AS reports that if the midfielder joins Spurs from Atletico Madrid, the LaLiga club would be able to sign Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani.

- Tottenham may have more pressing concerns in January. Harry Kane could be set for an extended spell on the sidelines due to a hamstring injury as Spurs await the results of a second scan, according to The Telegraph.

- Benfica are prepared to let 20-year-old midfielder Gedson Fernandes leave. A Bola reports the club are ready to negotiate for the Portugal international, who has been linked to Manchester United, Lyon and Milan.

- Arsenal are aiming to strengthen their defence with the signing of Bayern Munich centre-back Jerome Boateng, according to Sky Sports. Calum Chambers is set for a long spell on the sidelines after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament, and Boateng could be set for a return to the Premier League.

- Jean-Clair Todibo is expected to leave Barcelona in January and a surprise potential destination has emerged. Bild reports Schalke are thinking about a loan move for the 20-year-old defender.

- Borussia Dortmund have set their price for forward Paco Alcacer. The Bundesliga club want €40million for the Spaniard, who has been linked with a move to Atletico Madrid.

Hansi Flick says defender Jerome Boateng will have the final say over his own future after falling out of favour at Bayern Munich.

Boateng has started eight of Bayern's 17 Bundesliga matches this term and has been strongly linked with an exit in the January transfer window.

Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain have been tipped to move for the Germany international, while Arsenal are rumoured to have already made an approach.

And stand-in boss Flick will let Boateng, who is out of contract at the end of next season, decide whether he stays on at the Allianz Arena or finds a new challenge elsewhere.

"I get along with him and we talk openly," Flick told German sports magazine Kicker. 

"Against Wolfsburg he came into the side and had some problems, but then he showed he has the quality to play for Bayern. 

"Jerome has to make the decision about his future because it's about his career."

Regardless of Boateng's future, Flick has set his sights on bringing in a new right-back in the coming weeks.

"Benjamin Pavard does well in every position but especially well at centre-back," he said. "Therefore an addition at right-back would be helpful.

"Winter transfers always bring something to a team if they help immediately - and this is difficult to find. I am in exchange with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Hasan Salihamidzic."

Bayern are third in the Bundesliga at the midway stage, four points adrift of leaders RB Leipzig after an indifferent first half to the campaign that saw Flick replace Niko Kovac in November.

Flick has overseen eight wins from 10 games in all competitions and will remain in charge of the German champions until the end of the campaign.

He previously worked as assistant to Germany coach Joachim Low for eight years before linking up with Kovac earlier this year, but that is no longer a role that appeals to him.

"I can imagine a lot of things, but I can't imagine that at the moment," he said.

"It's been a lot of fun, especially working with this coaching team and this squad. 

"We've found a really good team spirit. Bayern Munich is a club with a lot of power, so I really like this job. The idea of always wanting to be successful suits me perfectly.

"I feel a lot of trust. There's nothing to stop us from continuing if we're successful. Let's just assume that our matches and results will remain satisfying. And if not, the club will have plenty of time to look for another coach."

Paul Pogba remains on the sideline but not the outer at Manchester United.

The rumoured Real Madrid target reportedly hopes to leave Old Trafford in January after missing out on a move before the season started.

But it seems the Red Devils will resist all interest in their record signing when the transfer window opens.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED BLOCK POGBA'S EXIT PATH

Five months after Mino Raiola confirmed his client's desire to depart, United remain resolute in their determination to keep star midfielder Pogba.

The 26-year-old failed to engineer a close-season exit and the Red Devils will again stand in the former Juventus star's way if he asks for a move in January, reports the Daily Mail.

Pogba has not played since September due to an ankle injury and will miss Wednesday's EFL Cup quarter-final against Colchester United because of illness.

LaLiga leaders Barcelona and Serie A champions Juve, where he spent four seasons, have been linked with Pogba since his return to United, while Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane is known to admire the World Cup winner.

ROUND-UP

- Mikel Arteta is on the verge of taking charge at Arsenal and plans to appoint fellow Manchester City assistant Rodolfo Borrell as his number two in north London, reports the Mirror.

- Though the Gunners are in talks with Arteta, The Athletic claims Arsenal's former captain, Nice boss Patrick Vieira, remains an outside chance to win the job.

- Has Jerome Boateng played his final game for Bayern Munich? Suddeutsche Zeitung suggests the centre-back's agent Fali Ramadani recently met with Hasan Salihamidzic to discuss a January transfer, though the prospect of a mid-season move is complicated by Bayern's injuries at the back. 

- In brighter news for the Bundesliga giants, Bild says Leroy Sane has decided he wants to join Bayern in January. The Manchester City star was heavily linked with a switch from the Premier League to his native Germany prior to suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

- Diego Simeone wants to strengthen Atletico Madrid's defence with the signing of AC Milan captain Alessio Romagnoli, according to CalcioMercato.

- Chelsea could be left frustrated in their pursuit of Wilfried Zaha. The Daily Mail claims Crystal Palace will not budge on their £80million valuation of the 27-year-old winger.

Jerome Boateng has been handed a two-match ban by the German Football Association (DFB) following his red card in Bayern Munich's 5-1 loss to Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.

Former Germany centre-back Boateng was dismissed in the ninth minute of the Bundesliga match at the Allianz Arena after referee Markus Schmidt consulted VAR over his trip on Goncalo Paciencia as the last man.

The DFB confirmed the suspension will not be appealed, meaning the 31-year-old will miss Bayern's home clash with Borussia Dortmund on Saturday and the trip to Fortuna Dusseldorf after the international break.

Bayern's defeat to Frankfurt was their heaviest Bundesliga loss since going down 5-1 to Wolfsburg in April 2009 and cost head coach Niko Kovac his job.

Interim boss Hansi Flick, who will be assisted by Hermann Gerland, will find himself significantly shorthanded in defence for his first league matches, with Niklas Sule and Lucas Hernandez long-term absentees.

Jose Mourinho, Massimiliano Allegri and Erik ten Hag have all been touted as permanent successors to Kovac, though the Ajax boss on Monday confirmed he will not leave the Eredivisie side before the end of the season.

Bayern Munich failed to recover from an early Jerome Boateng red card as they fell to a 5-1 defeat against Eintracht Frankfurt that will heap more pressure on beleaguered coach Niko Kovac.

The pressure has been building on Kovac and his side shipped five more goals on a day that saw Thomas Muller make his 500th appearance for the club.

Filip Kostic and Djibril Sow scored their first goals of the season to punish the champions after Boateng was sent off inside nine minutes.

Bayern threatened a comeback through Lewandowski's 14th league goal of the season, but David Abraham, Martin Hinteregger and Goncalo Paciencia struck in the second half to make it one league win in four matches for the visitors, who slip to fourth in the table.

Boateng was dismissed for a trip on Paciencia following a VAR check from referee Markus Schmidt, who initially showed a yellow card and awarded a penalty, before amending it to a red and a free-kick.

The hosts made the man advantage count 16 minutes later when Sow's shot struck David Alaba and landed in the path of Kostic for a simple finish from close range.

A bad day for Bayern got even worse just after the half-hour mark as a brilliant passing move culminated in Sow calmly converting Kostic's deflected cross at the back post.

Joshua Kimmich had a goal ruled out for offside but Bayern had one back before the interval, Lewandowski spinning away from three men and converting past Frederik Ronnow.

Any hope of a comeback was killed off by Abraham four minutes into the second half, however, with the Frankfurt skipper stabbing home Danny da Costa's inch-perfect cross.

Abraham's central-defensive team-mate Hinteregger headed in a fourth from a corner after 61 minutes and, after Alphonso Davies clipped the post, Paciencia rounded off the scoring late on following some good play from substitute Andre Silva.

What does it mean? Pressure growing on Kovac

Bayern had won three in a row prior to this match, but they have been leaking goals far too freely and have struggled to dominate matches.

Having already been publicly criticised by club CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge last month, this third loss of the campaign in all competitions - against his former side - could prove the final straw.


Lewandowski maintains scoring streak

Lewandowski became the first player to net in the first nine games of a Bundesliga campaign last weekend and was on the scoresheet again today.

He took his consolation goal superbly and is arguably the best striker in world football right now, boasting 19 goals from 15 appearances in all club competitions this term.


Boateng dismissal proves costly

Bayern started the match in a positive manner, with Serge Gnabry squandering a good chance 87 seconds in.

But a swift counter from Eintracht soon after ended with Paciencia tripping over Boateng's trailing leg and Bayern, despite Kovac's tweaks, went on to ship five goals on a day to forget.


What's next?

Bayern host Olympiacos in the Champions League on Wednesday, while Eintracht travel to Standard Liege the following day in the Europa League. Borussia Dortmund are next up for Kovac's men in the Bundesliga a week today.

With Edinson Cavani's contract set to expire, a move away from the French capital has been mooted.

The Paris Saint-Germain veteran has been linked to David Beckham's incoming MLS expansion franchise Inter Miami.

However, Cavani reportedly wants a return to Serie A and the titleholders stand out.

 

TOP STORY – CAVANI EYES JUVE SWITCH

Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani wants to join Serie A champions Juventus, according to Calciomercato.

Cavani – who has become PSG's all-time leading goalscorer since arriving from Napoli in 2013 – is out of contract at season's end.

With limited progress on a renewal, the 32-year-old's representatives have reportedly reached out to Juve over a return to Italy.

 

ROUND-UP

- According to Sky Sport in Germany, Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng is eyeing a move to Serie A or LaLiga. The 31-year-old was linked with PSG during the last transfer window.

- Former France and PSG head coach Laurent Blanc is keen on a job in the Premier League, reports in France say. Blanc was linked to the Lyon vacancy but the Ligue 1 strugglers have opted for ex-Marseille boss Rudi Garcia.

- Passione Inter claims Crystal Palace are looking to sign Gabriel 'Gabigol' Barbosa. The 23-year-old Brazilian is starring on loan at Flamengo, having struggled to establish himself with Inter.

Inter and AC Milan are both interested in Arsenal outcast Mesut Ozil, Calciomercato says.

- Calciomercato reports Manchester United are competing with Milan for Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic.

Bayern Munich have confirmed David Alaba and Jerome Boateng avoided serious injuries during the 7-2 drubbing of Tottenham in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Austria international Alaba, the target of a wild challenge from Serge Aurier in the early stages, complained of rib pain and had to be withdrawn at half-time in London.

But the Bundesliga champions have revealed the left-back suffered a "heavy bruise" rather than a break, meaning he is not yet out of contention for Saturday's home match against Hoffenheim.

Centre-back Boateng should be available as Niko Kovac's men seek to cement top spot.

The experienced defender was forced off in the 72nd minute against Spurs but the muscle problem he suffered did not prevent him from returning to training on Thursday.

Alaba completed a light gym session, while club-record signing Lucas Hernandez continued his recovery from a knee injury.

David Alaba will miss up to three weeks with the thigh tear he suffered on Saturday, Bayern Munich head coach Niko Kovac has confirmed.

Austria international Alaba was forced to skip the Bundesliga draw against RB Leipzig after injuring his left thigh during the warm-up at the Red Bull Arena.

Kovac's timeline potentially rules the left-back out of action until after the October international break.

He will miss Wednesday's home meeting with Red Star Belgrade and is in doubt for the club's second Champions League encounter, a trip to Tottenham at the start of next month.

"David will be out for two, maximum three weeks," Kovac said.

"Obviously, David is a really important player for us. Unfortunately he's going to be out for a couple of weeks but Lucas Hernandez won the World Cup in that position.

"He has a different interpretation of how to play at left-back than David does but he does a very good job.

"Alphonso [Davies] can play in that position, that's actually why we fielded him against Leipzig. He didn't play as a left-back but we fielded him so that he could work together with Lucas. Tomorrow is a Champions League game, it might be a bit different."

One man who could benefit from Alaba's injury is Jerome Boateng.

The centre-back, routinely linked with a move elsewhere during the transfer window, stepped into the starting XI at late notice against Leipzig and impressed Kovac.

"I keep saying the same thing about Jerome Boateng - he's a part of this team and as a part of this team I treat him like everyone else," the Bayern boss said.

"Everyone has the right to play here. Jerome didn't play a lot in the last couple of weeks, however, on Saturday he had to play from the first moment to the last and it was a class performance. I want to emphasise that.

"Of course, I have a lot of very good players. It was his first game [in the Bundesliga] and he played 90 minutes. That's a different rhythm from someone who plays once or twice a week.

"We'll have to see how he copes. I am happy with him and he will get chances to play, that's all I can say really."

Lionel Messi will get to decide his Barcelona future, regardless of when the star is contracted until.

Messi, 32, re-signed with the LaLiga champions two years ago, extending his contract until 2021.

But such extensions may not matter when it comes to arguably the world's best player.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI CAN LEAVE BARCELONA AT THE END OF ANY SEASON

Messi can choose to leave Barcelona at the conclusion of any campaign regardless of his contract, according to El Pais.

The Argentina superstar made his debut for the club in late 2004, and his future is seemingly in his own hands.

It remains to be seen when, or if, Messi decides to depart Camp Nou.

ROUND-UP

- Philippe Coutinho eventually left Barcelona for Bayern Munich on loan, but it could have been different for the playmaker. Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola rejected the chance to sign the 27-year-old, according to Marca.

- Left out of Juventus' Champions League squad, Mario Mandzukic is eyeing a January exit, according to Calciomercato.com. The striker was heavily linked with a move to Manchester United during the transfer window.

- Staying in Turin, Juventus could have signed Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng in the close season. Calciomercato.com reports Maurizio Sarri rejected a move for the centre-back.

- Ousmane Dembele was reportedly wanted by Paris Saint-Germain while they were in talks with Barcelona over a move for Neymar. But the attacker refused to leave because he is at his dream club at Barcelona, according to L'Equipe.

- Former Juventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio is reportedly in talks with Monaco, but the 55-time Italy international turned down a move to Scottish giants Rangers, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Left out of the England squad, Manchester City defender Kyle Walker is worried he has no international future under Gareth Southgate, the Daily Star reports.

Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng has been charged with assault after allegedly attacking his former partner, prosecutors in Germany have confirmed.

In a statement seen by Omnisport, the Munich prosecutor's office said it opened proceedings against Boateng relating to "dangerous bodily injury" last year, before filing the charge this February.

Chief prosecutor Anne Leiding said: "The Munich prosecutor has, since the autumn of 2018, had a case against Jerome Boateng because of dangerous bodily injury and filed, after extensive investigation, on February 11, 2019, a charge to the Munich District Court."

Leiding explained the court is yet to open the case but had accepted an accessory prosecution from the alleged victim.

Police are also investigating another instance of alleged personal injury suffered by the same person – referred to only as "S" – two weeks ago.

Former Germany international Boateng remained with Bayern for 2019-20 despite falling out of favour with head coach Niko Kovac.

Club president Uli Hoeness advised the 31-year-old to seek a new challenge in May and he is yet to play in the Bundesliga this season, featuring twice as an unused substitute.

Leroy Sane will not be signed by Bayern Munich this year, the club's chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge says.

The Manchester City winger, who has two years left on his contract, faces an estimated seven months on the sidelines after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in the Community Shield against Liverpool.

Sane is undergoing surgery in Austria this weekend, the Germany international opting to be treated by Professor Christian Fink rather than City's usual specialist, the Barcelona-based Dr Ramon Cugat.

Despite the 23-year-old being likely to miss most of the 2019-20 campaign, reports have suggested Bayern could still continue their chase for Sane even though Ivan Perisic has arrived on loan from Inter and Philippe Coutinho is set to follow from Barcelona.

However, despite the need to replace veterans Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, Rummenigge has ruled out a move for Sane ahead of the Bundesliga's transfer window closing next month.

"No, guys. Everyone knows what a cruciate ligament tear means and what the downtime is," Rummenigge told reporters on Saturday.

Bayern have confirmed a deal in principle is in place for Coutinho to join on loan from Barca for the season, with the deal for the Brazil international including a purchase option.

Rummenigge, meanwhile, would not say whether Bayern intend to keep defender Jerome Boateng at the club.

"I cannot say anything conclusive today about that," he added. "The transfer market is open until September 2. And then we'll see how the whole thing develops."

Boateng was an unused substitute as Bayern opened their title defence with a 2-2 home draw against Hertha Berlin on Friday, when Benjamin Pavard and Niklas Sule started in central defence.

Bayern have also confirmed Javi Martinez, who was not available to face Hertha due to injury, returned to training for Saturday's session.

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