The highlight of the German football/soccer Bundesliga may not be until Friday night in Munich but reigning champions Bayern Munich and surprise promoted side and league leaders Hoffenheim are already busy exchanging their share of banter.

The showdown between second-placed Bayern and 1899 Hoffenheim has been the talk of Germany for weeks and Bayern manager Uli Hoeness threw down the gauntlet straight away. “Games are not decided by tactics but by better players. Of course we have better players than Hoffenheim. We have the best,” Hoeness said in the German sports magazine Kicker.

Weeks ago, Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge threw out a joke about Hoffenheim – “1899? I wonder where they have been hiding for the past 100 years.”

Just like all season, Hoffenheim reacted coolly with coach Ralf Rangnick saying: “We are preparing for Munich just like we did for Bielefeld.”

Midfielder Francisco Copado said: “Bayern can gladly finish first after the first half of the season if we are champions at the end.” And midfielder Tobias Weis added: “If anybody can beat Bayern, then it’s us.”

Cannot wait until Friday in Munich.

Another fun battle coming up – this one coming on Saturday – is the Los Angeles cross town college football rivalry between USC and UCLA. Back in July, the coaches Pete Carroll and UCLA’s Rick Neuheisel had talked about restoring the tradition of this match-up since UCLA has struggled over recent years. Well, Carroll is willing to give up a timeout so that his team can wear home red in the game.

In Eurocup basketball Tuesday night, the trio of Spanish sides continued their impressive campaigns with Kalise Gran Canaria beating Lietuvos Rytas by 11 points at home (no surprise since they are 24-2 at home over the past five seasons in the competition), while Pamesa Valencia won on the road at Fortitudo Bologna and Iurbentia Bilbao knocked off KK Buducnost away from home as well.

Pamesa and Bilbao are 2-0 and Gran Canaria is 1-1. The other six undefeated teams are Spirou, Benetton, Unics Kazan, Dynamo Moscow, Turk Telekom and Aris.

Here is a baseball trade that appears just about completed as the Atlanta Braves have acquired righty Javier Vazquez and left-handed reliever Boone Logan from the Chicago White Sox. Among the four players Chicago has chosen apparently are shortstop Brent Lillibridge and minor league catcher Tyler Flowers, who had a great Arizona Fall League games this year.

And one more baseball note. For those Chicago White Sox fans here is an item about your future shortstop Gordon Beckham.

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