European soccer news: Bayern Munich in crisis

Bayern lose 3 straight Bundesliga matches after defeat to Bochum (2:16)

Bayern Munich lose further ground in the title race after losing 3-2 at VfL Bochum. (2:16)

Another wild weekend of soccer in Europe is in the books, with shock results and drought-breaking goals and, of course, more speculation over Kylian Mbappé's future dominating the headlines.

Sunday's biggest result was surely Bayern Munich's capitulation at VfL Bochum, while a draw for Real Madrid kept things tight at the top of LaLiga. And what of Manchester United's win at Luton Town? You could certainly say that Erik ten Hag's team is heading in one direction.

Meanwhile on Saturday, Bayer Leverkusen clinched a 2-1 win to further their lead at the top of the Bundesliga table, Barcelona edged Celta Vigo with a stoppage-time penalty and Manchester United vs. Arsenal broke the WSL attendance record.

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Here is your look back at yet another roller-coaster weekend in European football.


The lead: Tuchel on the brink as Bayern lose again

Pressure had been mounting for Bayern Munich and their manager Thomas Tuchel after losses to Bayer Leverkusen and Lazio during the previous eight days. Confidence, however, was improving as they travelled to the Ruhrstadion on Sunday to face one of their favourite opponents in VfL Bochum -- the defending Bundesliga champions had achieved three 7-0 wins against Die Blauen in their previous five meetings. It had become a running joke in the Germany that Bayern were always at their best when they played against Bochum.

This time, however, was entirely different. The clash with the tradition-rich club from the Ruhr area ended in a nightmare, as Bayern slipped to a 3-2 defeat.

While the visitors tried to find their groove early on, it quickly became obvious that Bochum were much more than just a sparring partner for Tuchel's beleaguered team. In fact, the hosts looked like they could always go toe-to-toe with Bayern in midfield duels. Erhan Mašović, in particular, displayed a defensive masterclass as he moved from one wing to the other frequently to fend off Jamal Musiala and Thomas Müller.

Even though Bayern scored the go-ahead goal in the 14th minute, they couldn't build any momentum on it as Bochum stayed in the game and looked especially dangerous when Takuma Asano received the ball in the right half-space where he engaged in one-on-ones with defender Kim Min-Jae.

Following a 13-minute break caused by fan protests against a potential deal between the German football league (DFL) and an outside investment firm, Bochum began to move the ball with poise after turnovers, as Asano was found by 37-year-old Anthony Losilla with a beautiful pass to set the Japan international to strike the equaliser past Manuel Neuer. Keven Schlotterbeck then headed the underdogs ahead following a Kevin Stöger corner kick.

In the second half, Bochum held their own for the most part and then capitalized on a mistake by Dayot Upamecano, who hit Schlotterbeck with his elbow in an aerial duel inside the penalty area. Upamecano was punished with his second yellow card of the day and thus was sent off again after seeing a straight red at Lazio on Wednesday. Stöger slotted the penalty past Neuer to take an unassailable 3-1 lead.

It is the first time since May 2015 that Bayern have lost two consecutive away games in the Bundesliga.

"It feels like a horror movie that never ends," Bayern midfielder Leon Goretzka said after the match.

For almost the entire game, Tuchel watched the action with a warming scarf pulled over his mouth. It certainly was rainy and cold in Bochum, but the image was fitting for the 50-year-old manager's difficult situation at Bayern. Zsolt Löw, his assistant, and Joshua Kimmich had a heated exchange of words after the game, and it seemed the two almost got into a fight. Tensions are increasingly high at Bayern, who now trail Leverkusen by eight points. -- Constantin Eckner

Real Madrid held by Rayo Vallecano in 1-1 draw

Raul de Tomas' penalty cancels out Joselu's early goal as Rayo Vallecano hold LaLiga leaders Real Madrid to a draw.

Sunday talking points around the leagues

Madrid's draw breathes life into LaLiga title race

Just when it looked like the LaLiga title race might be all over, leaders Real Madrid's 1-1 draw at Rayo Vallecano on Sunday brought it back to life.

If Madrid's 4-0 win over closest title rivals Girona had made them look invincible, two dropped points in Vallecas were a reminder that this team -- especially after a tiring midweek Champions League trip, and without the injured Jude Bellingham -- is fallible after all.

Madrid were up against a Rayo side instantly improved by new coach Iñigo Perez, Andoni Iraola's former assistant, hoping to repeat the successes of his three years in charge. The result: For the second time this season, Rayo denied Madrid, after a goalless draw at the Bernabeu in November.

Madrid started well, going ahead through Joselu's third-minute goal -- sweeping home Federico Valverde's cross -- but their momentum was halted by Raúl de Tomás' penalty equaliser midway through the first half. Joselu's goal aside, Madrid struggled to create clear chances, ending with an xG (expected goals) of just 1.04.

By the end, their frustration boiled over as Dani Carvajal lost his head, shrugging off Kike Perez with an elbow to earn a red card. Carvajal will be suspended for next week's game with Sevilla, and so will Eduardo Camavinga, banned for picking up his fifth yellow card of the season.

"It's important that if you can't win, you don't lose," coach Carlo Ancelotti said afterwards, hoping to put a positive spin on the result.

But if Girona win at Athletic Club on Monday -- which is far from a given -- Madrid's lead at the top will be cut to three points. And they still have 13 games left, including away trips to Valencia, Osasuna and Real Sociedad, as well as playing Athletic Club, Barcelona and Real Betis at home. The title race hasn't been reignited, exactly. But it's more alive than it was a week ago. -- Alex Kirkland

Lewandowski smashes Barca ahead vs. Celta Vigo

Lamine Yamal sets up Robert Lewandowski for a fine Barcelona goal in LaLiga.

Milan miss golden opportunity on historic night for Monza

Silvio Berlusconi was not there to witness it, but there was something of proper calcio heritage in Monza -- a club owned by Il Cavaliere when he passed away in June 2023 -- beating AC Milan on Sunday. Berlusconi owned Milan for 26 years between 1986 and 2012, yet on Sunday night it was Monza that triumphed in a thrilling 4-2 encounter, their first-ever win against their neighbours.

Milan had the chance to overtake Juventus in second place on the Serie A table with a win but, instead of taking advantage of this opportunity, they let it slip. In a very surprising blunder, Rossoneri boss Stefano Pioli made too many changes to his starting line-up -- Rafael Leão, Christian Pulisic, Olivier Giroud, Simon Kjaer and Tijjani Reijnders all started on the bench -- and, before he knew it, Monza were 2-0 up.

The ever under-pressure manager probably thought that his team had savaged a point after substitutes Giroud (64th minute) and Pulisic (88th minute) brought them back to 2-2 despite being down to 10 men after Luka Jovic's 52nd-minute red card. Yet Monza scored twice more in an incredible finale.

And there was even more calcio heritage when Daniel Maldini, the son of Paolo and grandson of Cesare, two Milan legends, assisted Monza's third goal in the 90th minute.

As a result, Milan stay third, two points behind Juve and 11 behind league leaders Internazionale. This Serie A season is in many ways exceptional week after week. -- Julien Laurens

Sunday's Americans abroad:

Christian Pulisic's drought is over. The 25-year-old hadn't scored in 2024: 725 minutes of action, spread across three competitions, no goals. That changed in the 88th minute of AC Milan's aforementioned loss Monza on Sunday, when he tied the game. Surely Milan boss Pioli won't start Pulisic on the bench again anytime soon?

Meanwhile, the wait goes on for Folarin Balogun, who was held scoreless in 71 minutes as AS Monaco lost 2-1 to Toulouse at home. The last time the Arsenal academy graduate netted against first-division opposition was November.

Taylor Booth limped out of FC Utrecht's 1-0 win over FC Twente on Sunday after just 22 minutes. The 22-year-old twice-capped U.S. international from Utah had five goals in his previous two appearances.

In Spain, Johnny Cardoso played the full 90 minutes as Real Betis were held to a 0-0 draw by Alaves. The 22-year-old New Jersey-born, Brazilian raised midfielder has only failed to play a full match once in his six appearances for Betis since joining in January. -- Austin Lindberg

News of the day

  • Carlo Ancelotti has insisted that Real Madrid's players haven't been distracted by talk linking the club with Kylian Mbappé. "When haven't we been focused?" Ancelotti said following Sunday's 1-1 draw at Rayo Vallecano. "I think we've always been [focused]. And today too, when things didn't go so well. Criticising this team this season is difficult."

  • A defiant Thomas Tuchel has claimed that he can fix the issues at Bayern Munich despite seeing his team lose their third consecutive competitive game for the first time since May 2015. "If you ask me, if I firmly still believe me and coaching staff can turn things around -- yes," Tuchel said after the defeat to Bochum. "Growing pressure? That happens after every defeat. But today we never stopped, never stopped trying."

  • Luton Town defender Tom Lockyer said he feared he was dying when his heart stopped and he collapsed during a Premier League game against Bournemouth in December. "I was a bit disorientated," he said. "I couldn't speak, I couldn't move. I was trying to work out what was happening, and I remember thinking: 'I could be dying here.'"

And finally on Sunday...

There's nothing like an away day. Whether you want to watch your team visit its biggest rival, or play in a ground dripping with history, or parade in front of foreign fans in dream destinations, there's nothing quite like following the side on a road trip.

Luton isn't a destination location of many tourists, nor is it the home of Manchester United's great rivals, and Kenilworth Road doesn't boast a particularly rich history, but there is a certain coziness, an authenticity to the 11,500-seater that appeals to an artist's sensibilities. Maybe that's why Harry Styles visited Bedfordshire to see his beloved Red Devils triumph 2-1.

We're not stylish enough to question his fashion sense, or pass judgement on his hair (which, judging by social media, seems to be a thing), but we do appreciate that he wore neutral colours for a trip to an away ground. Smart choice. -- Austin Lindberg


The lead: Leverkusen keep up title charge with yet another win

Following their magnificent win against nearest challengers Bayern Munich last weekend, Bayer Leverkusen kept up their title charge by beating minnows Heidenheim 2-1 on Saturday. The Bundesliga newcomers had remained unbeaten for eight games before hosting Leverkusen on Saturday, and while Heidenheim defended commendably against Leverkusen's onslaught, they eventually had to concede against one of the best teams in Europe currently.

Leverkusen scored their go-ahead goal in first-half stoppage time when Amine Adli, who has been a revelation in recent weeks, assisted Jeremie Frimpong inside Heidenheim's box. Frimpong's shot flew past goalkeeper Kevin Müller thanks to a deflection from Jonas Föhrenbach's body.

After the interval, Xabi Alonso's side had to face a more intense press by the hosts, who were supported by a vociferous 15,000 fans inside the packed Voith-Arena. But despite struggling at times to break that press and create promising goal-scoring opportunities in the early stages of the second half, Leverkusen remained in control with relative ease and were never in danger of giving the win away. Eventually, they put a stamp on the game thanks to an Adli goal nine minutes before the end.

Getting past another tricky challenge means that Leverkusen are, for now, eight points ahead of Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga standings, as Bayern will face VfL Bochum on Sunday. What's more, Leverkusen are unbeaten for 32 games at this point, equalling a record Bayern set between December 2019 and September 2020. It is truly a historic season for Alonso, his players and Leverkusen as a whole.

While there is still a lot of football to be played, the praise for this team cannot be high enough. -- Constantin Eckner

Saturday talking points around the leagues

Lewandowski finds form for Champions League?

A Robert Lewandowski brace, including a twice-taken stoppage-time penalty, helped Barcelona beat Celta Vigo 2-1 on Saturday at Balaídos as they returned to winning ways ahead of Wednesday's crunch Champions League meeting with Napoli.

Lewandowski's 97th-minute spot kick was initially saved by Vicente Guaita, but he was handed another chance when VAR ruled the Celta goalkeeper had advanced off his line too soon. The Polish striker made no mistake with his second chance, earning Barça a confidence-boosting three points after last week's horror show against Granada, when they drew 3-3. Lewandowski had earlier broken the deadlock with a well-taken finish before the break. Iago Aspas drew Celta level early in the second half, but Rafa Benitez's side could not hold on and remains just three points above the relegation zones.

Barça coach Xavi Hernandez insisted the performance represented a "step forward" ahead of the midweek trip to Napoli for their Champions League round of 16 first leg. However, this was another grey display from the Catalans, although Lewandowski's improved numbers do provide some optimism.

How Arsenal held off pressure to keep in touch of Chelsea, Man City

Sophie Lawson breaks down Arsenal's 3-1 victory against Manchester United in front of a Women's Super League record crowd.

He has now scored four goals in his past three appearances and 17 in all competitions this season. His winning goal in Vigo was his 50th for Barça since his 2022 transfer from Bayern Munich, and he appears to be refinding his goal-scoring touch just in time for the return of the Champions League.

"The goals are arriving because he is playing better for the team," Xavi explained. "Positionally he is better. He is not leaving his area so much, he is playing better and the goals are coming. There is no big secret."

Barça, meanwhile, have now taken 10 points from 12 in the league since Xavi announced he will step down in the summer. Saturday's win moves them within two points of second-placed Girona and seven of leaders Real Madrid, with both teams due to play later this weekend. -- Sam Marsden

First-half errors prove costly for United at the Emirates

A Geyse 10th-minute own goal set the tone as Arsenal clashed with Manchester United in front of a record crowd of 60,160 at the Emirates on Saturday.

It was, on balance, a strange game that ended 3-1 to the Gunners. United had started the stronger, but after the own goal, ended up exposed twice more before the break. After Cloe Lacasse had been left unmarked to nod home at the back stick, Kim Little tucked a penalty away after Beth Mead had been fouled by Gemma Evans. Three goals to the good at the break, having had only two shots on target, Arsenal were cruising, but the game had lacked substance, devolving to a bitty, transitional affair.

The second half was more of the same: Arsenal the better team going forward, but rather than enjoying the rub of the green, the hosts consistently found their efforts blocked by a mix of bodies, Mary Earps' gloves and the woodwork. United, to their credit, managed to actually put something on target and even grabbed a stoppage-time consolation goal through Lucía García, but as the game wore on, the visitors looked even less of a cohesive unit.

The game, despite the goals and crowd, was a bit of a non-event, the context of the result to keep Arsenal within three points of the top two, with a seven-point drop to United in fourth the important outcome for the hosts. For United, who had come away with a snatch-and-grab win on their trip to the Emirates (en route to finishing above Arsenal) last season, this match wasn't just a dent in their top-three hopes for this campaign but spoke to a deeper regression and only furthers the pressure on manager Marc Skinner. -- Sophie Lawson

Brenden Aaronson strikes late to win it for Union Berlin

Brenden Aaronson comes off the bench to score the winning goal in Union Berlin's 1-0 win over Hoffenheim.

Mbappé benched then secured another PSG win

Kylian Mbappé was on the bench when PSG kicked off their Ligue 1 game at Nantes on Saturday evening. Four days after telling his club that he will be leaving at the end of the season, this wasn't a punishment, just some rest time given by coach Luis Enrique. The France captain didn't seem happy when he got off the bus before the game, but he came on in the second half, just after Paris' first goal scored by Lucas Hernández after a deflection, with a big smile on his face.

Mbappé was cheered by the PSG ultras who travelled to Nantes in the first public reaction from the fans after the big announcement. And when he scored his team's second goal, his 21st in the league this season, on a penalty, all the celebrations seemed genuine.

Ousmane Dembélé was also left out of the starting lineup before making his entrance at the same time as Mbappé. Without their two best players, the French champions were once again open defensively, conceding opportunities that Nantes didn't take. The outcome could have been much different had the hosts been more clinical, and now PSG are running away with the title.

They are 14 points clear of Nice in second place and 15 on Lille and Monaco (who have a game in hand). PSG are still unbeaten away from home in Ligue 1 this season and have lost only once, against Nice at the Parc des Princes back on September. -- Julien Laurens

Saturday's Americans abroad: Aaronson scores winner, Sargent on a hot streak

On loan from Leeds United, Brenden Aaronson scored his first Bundesliga goal for Union Berlin after 18 appearances, and what a goal it was. Goalless until the 84th minute, the 23-year-old stepped up to provide a clinical finish in a superb counter-attack against Hoffenheim. Union Berlin now sit in 12th place, and Aaronson will hope it's the first of many goals to stay away from the relegation zone and keep in form ahead of this summer's Copa América.

Josh Sargent's brace for Norwich City against Cardiff takes his goal tally to 10 for the season, his second best across his career in Europe after scoring 13 times last campaign. What's more, the 23-year-old has found the net in four straight games for the Canaries, who sit in seventh place in the Championship table. Will we see the same Sargent for the USMNT this summer?

Elsewhere, both Giovanni Reyna and Matt Turner were left on the bench for Nottingham Forest in their 2-0 win over West Ham. With Turner now the No. 2 goalkeeper and Reyna having made the loan move from Dortmund, both are in need of playing minutes to stay sharp.

News of the day

  • Liverpool suffered a trio of injuries in Saturday's 4-1 victory at Brentford, with Curtis Jones and Diogo Jota facing potentially significant injuries while striker Darwin Núñez was substituted with a "small" issue at half-time. The win cements their place at the top of the Premier League for at least the remainder of the weekend. However, Jurgen Klopp's side must now do without key players Jones and Jota, while Núñez's issue is not yet known. Klopp confirmed that Jones was using crutches after the match. They join an injury list that already included Trent Alexander-Arnold, Thiago Alcantara, Stefan Bajcetic, Ben Doak, Joël Matip, Dominik Szoboszlai and Alisson.

  • The Professional Soccer Referees Association (PSRA), the union that represents officials working in MLS, the NWSL and the USL, rejected a proposed new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) put before it by the union's executive board, and negotiated with the Professional Referees Organization (PRO), the referees' employer. The vote took place over Thursday and Friday, and in response, PRO is now saying it will lock out the referees starting at midnight ET on Saturday and begin the season with replacement officials.

  • Pep Guardiola has insisted Erling Haaland was not to blame for Manchester City dropping points against Chelsea despite having nine shots without scoring. City and Chelsea drew 1-1 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday to slip behind Liverpool and Arsenal -- who both won earlier in the day -- in the Premier League title race. "It's good to have nine shots and next time he's going to score," said Guardiola. "I was a football player for 11 years and scored 11 goals. I'm not a proper man to give advice to strikers. We create the chances, he had the chances and next time he's going to score. I don't blame him. It's football, it's human beings."

And finally on Saturday ...

After netting his first goal of 2024 and 18th for the season, Serhou Guirassy became the first Stuttgart player to score so many goals after 22 matchdays. The last player to be so prolific for the club in a single season was Mario Gómez, who scored 24 in 2008-09. Guirassy is now in second place behind Harry Kane (24) for most goals in the Bundesliga this campaign, and his club trails Bayern Munich by four points. If the 27-year-old Guinean continues to deliver, top clubs across Europe will be clamoring for his signature come the summer transfer window.