The Rebound: Worldwide - Bundesliga bottle jobs and Olympic diver’s bizarre J-League appearance

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Breaking down the best and strangest action from around the world of football, as Borussia Dortmund bottle it in the Bundesliga.

Welcome once more to The Rebound: Worldwide, where we go over the ups, downs, loop-the-loops and awkward photos-just-before-the-big-drop of another rollercoaster weekend of football outside of the British Isles. And, once more, we simply have to begin in Germany, and a Bundesliga title race where the top two continue to take it in turns to plummet down into oblivion before coming back up for air. One for all the Alton Towers fans, there.

Having finally taken control of the division with a 4-0 tonking of Eintracht Frankfurt last weekend, would Borussia Dortmund really let it slip immediately? Again? Of course they would. Their frustrating 1-1 draw away to VfL Bochum was yet another game where Die Schwarzgelben had much the better of possession and chances, but couldn’t put the matter to bed. That left the door ajar for Bayern Munich to take top spot once more – and this time, Thomas Tuchel’s team didn’t mess it up.

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To be fair, even with their recently wobbly form, Bayern were unlikely to drop points at home to Hertha Berlin. A relatively routine 2-0 win – during which they enjoyed a colossal 81% of possession – sees them retake first place by one point with four games remaining. Hertha, meanwhile, remain rooted to the foot of the table and six points adrift of safety. With so little time left, they finally look likely to tumble back into the second tier having threatened to go down for the past couple of years. Tuchel celebrated the win by bravely deciding to debag Sadio Mané in training, a pretty bold move given the struggling Senegalese’s recently launched second career as a boxer:

Championship leaders making a meal of things was the theme of the weekend in France as well, where Paris Saint-Germain fell to a shock 3-1 home defeat to mid-table Lorient. An early red card for Achraf Hakimi made life difficult but the rather unedifying tactical mess than ensued was surely avoidable – Kylian Mbappé managed an equaliser before the rot really set in but PSG, playing an atypical 4-4-2 in Neymar’s absence, were unable to figure out how to make it all fit together a man down, and spent most of the game gifting swathes of time, space and possession to Lorient, which they made full use of, with Bamba Dieng sealing the three points late on.

The good news for the Parisiens is that they still have a five-point lead over Marseille with five games remaining, so they would have to foul up twice more for this defeat to make any real difference. That looks unlikely given their run-in – their next four games are all against teams who are either effectively relegated (Troyes and AC Ajaccio) or teams in the thick of a tense battle to avoid taking the last of four relegation spots (Auxerre and Strasbourg, who are both fractionally above Nantes and Brest with one point separating the four teams – bottom side Angers are mathematically gone already). Chances are that the title will remain in Paris, albeit in less convincing fashion than one might have expected.

FC Lorient celebrate in front of their fans after their 3-1 win against PSGFC Lorient celebrate in front of their fans after their 3-1 win against PSG
FC Lorient celebrate in front of their fans after their 3-1 win against PSG | AFP via Getty Images

Elsewhere in Paris, some silverware was sorted out – the Coupe de France final took place with embattled Nantes falling 5-1 to Toulouse – remarkably, Les Violets first ever major trophy. Braces from Logan Costa and Thijs Dallinga put the Occitanians 4-0 up after just half an hour, and a comeback was never seriously threatened despite a game which was slightly less one-sided than the scoreline suggests.

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It’s becoming increasingly impossible to go through European football without mentioning the extraordinary six-way battle to join Napoli in the Champions League that’s going on in Italy. With Juventus having been unexpectedly launched back into the fray following the suspension of their points deduction, the Old Lady were promptly installed as one of the frontrunners – and have celebrated by dropping points in back-to-back weeks.

Their 1-1 draw with Bologna means that they are now three points clear of Inter Milan, AC Milan and Roma, all of whom are neck and neck with 57 points – ever-exciting Atalanta are a little behind on 55. With Roma and AC Milan drawing 1-1 in the Stadio Olimpico, that makes Inter the weekend’s big winners thanks to their impressive 3-1 win over second-placed Lazio – impressive largely because they were losing in the San Siro with 13 minutes left to play. That late battering leaves Lazio a little nervy as well – having looked dead certs for top four for months, two successive defeats has dragged them back into the bunfight. They remain in second, however, one point ahead of Juve.

Lautaro Martínez celebrates scoring Inter Milan’s third goal against LazioLautaro Martínez celebrates scoring Inter Milan’s third goal against Lazio
Lautaro Martínez celebrates scoring Inter Milan’s third goal against Lazio | Getty Images

The worst news of the weekend was reserved for Sampdoria – Harry Winks’ Sampdoria, to you and me – who were thrashed 5-0 by Fiorentina, their 17th game without a win. They are now 10 points from safety with six to play and find themselves staring ever more deeply into the abyss. Or Serie B, as it’s otherwise known. Speaking of which, congratulations to Frosinone, who have locked in promotion to the Italian top tier for the third time in the last eight years. Genoa are likely to join them as it stands.

Before we get on to showing off some clips of the best goals from around the globe, a brief mention should be made of the CAF Champions League, which has now whittled the best teams in Africa down to four – two of which have recently been mentioned on this very website. Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa clobbered Algerian champions CR Belouizdad 6-2 on aggregate to set up a semi-final with Wydad Casablanca of Morocco, while legendary Egyptian outfit Al Ahly squeaked past Wydad’s rivals Raja Casablanca to tee up a tie with Espérance Sportive de Tunis. The first legs will be played in ten days’ time before the two-legged final takes place in June.

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Snapshots

For some reason, whenever we scan social media for international screamers and strangeness to share, two countries keep popping up – Japan and Poland. Two very different nations who clearly put something different in the half-time oranges.

Let’s start in Poland, where second division side Arka Gdynia equalised in their game against Puszcza Niepołomice with this glorious, swerving, dipping strike from Sebastian Milewski:

Meanwhile, there was a rather odd start to proceedings in the J-League game between Cerezo Osaka and Sanfrecce Hiroshima, as the two sides were lead out by a grown man clad in nothing more than a pair of speedos:

It turns out that the skimpily-dressed individual in question is a comedian by the name of Yoshio Kojima, who makes a habit of showing up to events dressed for Olympic diving. We presume he had permission, and can only applaud the officials and players for carrying on as if absolutely nothing unusual was happening whatsoever.

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Finally, let’s enjoy another edition of football’s ongoing version of The Dress or that thing where we all heard either ‘Laurel’ or ‘Yani’ – yep, it’s time for a game of ‘brilliant shot or jammy cross’? This one comes from the Argentinian women’s game between El Porvenir and Banfield – and look, we hate to have to give you instructions but we don’t control how videos show up on Twitter so you will have to skip forward to 40 seconds in to watch the goal in question. If it’s intentional, it’s magnificent. But it might just have been a fluke. Either way, it’s fun:

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