Salah Struggling as Liverpool’s Front Three No Longer ‘Well-Drilled’, Says Klopp

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool reacts after the English Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC in Liverpool, Britain, 21 January 2023. (EPA)
Mohamed Salah of Liverpool reacts after the English Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC in Liverpool, Britain, 21 January 2023. (EPA)
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Salah Struggling as Liverpool’s Front Three No Longer ‘Well-Drilled’, Says Klopp

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool reacts after the English Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC in Liverpool, Britain, 21 January 2023. (EPA)
Mohamed Salah of Liverpool reacts after the English Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC in Liverpool, Britain, 21 January 2023. (EPA)

Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah's struggles in front of goal are down to the club no longer having the "well-drilled" front three that terrorized defenses in the past, manager Juergen Klopp said.

Although Salah has scored 17 goals in all competitions at the halfway mark this season, he has scored only seven in the Premier League where he has averaged nearly 24 goals a season during his time with Liverpool.

The Egyptian forward has won three Golden Boots for most goals in a season, but has been far from his best after the summer departure of his strike partner Sadio Mane and injuries to Roberto Firmino, Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz.

"Of course Mo is suffering. It was a well-drilled machine the front three, everything was clear (in) what we were doing. Everybody suffers from that, that's clear," Klopp told reporters.

"It is specific, offensive play that requires a lot of work and lot of information, and not always obvious information. You create a feeling about a lot of these things, about where your team mate is and where to pass the ball without looking."

Mane moved to Bayern Munich in the close season while Jota, Firmino and Diaz have not played since the World Cup, with Liverpool falling to ninth in the standings.

Liverpool reinforced their attack with the mid-season signing of Dutch forward Cody Gakpo who is still adapting to the team, while Darwin Nunez has not been consistent, scoring just one goal in the FA Cup since the season restarted last month.

"In two or three weeks a couple more options will be available and we can mix it up. When Darwin is playing, he is obviously more high up, going in behind," Klopp added.

"We never played with a (number) nine before. Even when Sadio played in the position he was dropping (back) in moments. That's not Darwin's game, he wants to have balls at his feet and he's a real handful there.

"It is all good if they would all be in and we could build something, but we haven't been able to do that yet."



Djokovic Finishes at No. 1 in ATP Rankings for Record-Extending Eighth Time

Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates point against Jannik Sinner of Italy during a Davis Cup semi-final tennis match between Italy and Serbia in Malaga, Spain, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023. (AP)
Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates point against Jannik Sinner of Italy during a Davis Cup semi-final tennis match between Italy and Serbia in Malaga, Spain, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023. (AP)
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Djokovic Finishes at No. 1 in ATP Rankings for Record-Extending Eighth Time

Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates point against Jannik Sinner of Italy during a Davis Cup semi-final tennis match between Italy and Serbia in Malaga, Spain, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023. (AP)
Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates point against Jannik Sinner of Italy during a Davis Cup semi-final tennis match between Italy and Serbia in Malaga, Spain, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023. (AP)

Novak Djokovic earned the year-end No. 1 spot in the ATP rankings for the eighth time on Monday, adding to a record he already held.

Djokovic won three of the four Grand Slam tournaments — the Australian Open in January, French Open in June and US Open in September — to raise his career total to a men's-record 24 and was the runner-up at the other, Wimbledon. He went 56-7 this season while leading the tour with seven titles, including at the ATP Finals last month.

The 36-year-old from Serbia regained the top ranking from Carlos Alcaraz, who edged him in a five-set final at the All England Club in July.

Alcaraz finished 2023 at No. 2 after the two men swapped No. 1 back-and-forth repeatedly this year.

Iga Swiatek claimed the WTA's year-end No. 1 ranking for the second consecutive year by winning the WTA Finals last month. Swiatek, who won her fourth career major championship at the French Open, overtook Aryna Sabalenka, the Australian Open champion and runner-up to Coco Gauff at the US Open. Gauff finished at No. 3, followed by Elena Rybakina at No. 4 and Jessica Pegula at No. 5.

Djokovic eclipsed his own mark for the oldest player to top the ATP at the end of a season; he was 34 in 2021.

His eight year-end No. 1s put him two ahead of previous record-holder Pete Sampras, who did it six times. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal each finished at No. 1 five times, as did Jimmy Connors.

Daniil Medvedev closed 2023 at No. 3, followed by Jannik Sinner at a career-best No. 4, Andrey Rublev at No. 5, Stefanos Tsitsipas at No. 6, Alexander Zverev at No. 7, Holger Rune at No. 8, Hubert Hurkacz at No. 9 and Taylor Fritz at No. 10.

Alcaraz and Rune are both 20, marking the first time two men that young both ended a season in the top 10 since 2000, when Marat Safin, 20, was No. 2, and Lleyton Hewitt, 19, was No. 7.

There are three 19-year-olds in the top 100: No. 36 Arthur Fils, No. 71 Luca Van Assche and No. 97 Alex Michelson, an American who jumped up 504 spots after ending last year at No. 601.

The United States is the country with the most men in the top 20, four: Fritz, No. 13 Tommy Paul, No. 16 Frances Tiafoe and No. 17 Ben Shelton.


‘No Plan B' for Paris Opening Ceremony after Knife Attack

This long exposure photograph taken on December 2, 2023, shows a general view of the Eiffel tower in central Paris. (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP)
This long exposure photograph taken on December 2, 2023, shows a general view of the Eiffel tower in central Paris. (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP)
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‘No Plan B' for Paris Opening Ceremony after Knife Attack

This long exposure photograph taken on December 2, 2023, shows a general view of the Eiffel tower in central Paris. (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP)
This long exposure photograph taken on December 2, 2023, shows a general view of the Eiffel tower in central Paris. (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP)

There is no "plan B" for the opening ceremony of the Paris 2024 Olympic Summer Games, the French sports minister said on Monday, after a man armed with a knife and hammer killed a German tourist and left two people wounded near the Eiffel Tower on Saturday.
"We have no plan B, we have a plan in which there are several sub-plans with a certain number of adjustment variables," Amelie Oudea-Castera told France Inter radio.
The 26-year-old suspect, a French national arrested after the attack, had pledged allegiance to ISIS in a video recorded beforehand, anti-terrorism Prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard said on Sunday.
The attack occurred on the Quai de Grenelle - a spot also included in the plans for the opening ceremony.
Asked if the government was mulling a change to its plan to hold the ceremony on the River Seine, with several hundred thousand spectators expected along its banks amid the security threats, the minister said: "This not something we're working with."
"We have the capacity to secure the event", she said, adding that certain details, including the number of additional cultural events surrounding the main spectacle and said the security perimeter would be adjusted closer to the Games.


Boks Rule Again in Season-opening Dubai Sevens

General view of the Burj Khalifa and the downtown skyline in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, September 30, 2021. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem/File Photo
General view of the Burj Khalifa and the downtown skyline in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, September 30, 2021. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem/File Photo
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Boks Rule Again in Season-opening Dubai Sevens

General view of the Burj Khalifa and the downtown skyline in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, September 30, 2021. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem/File Photo
General view of the Burj Khalifa and the downtown skyline in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, September 30, 2021. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem/File Photo

South Africa notched up their fifth consecutive title at the season-opening Dubai sevens tournament with a pulsating victory over Argentina on Sunday.

The Blitzboks beat Los Pumas 12-7 in the final of the first event of the new-look, eight-leg World Rugby SVNS Series.

The series moves on to Cape Town next weekend, with the third leg slated for Perth, Australia, at the end of January, AFP reported.

Action then moves Stateside to legs in Vancouver and Los Angeles before Asian stops in Singapore and Hong Kong ahead of the May 31-June 2 finals in Madrid.

The South African team overcame Australia 24-7 in the quarter-finals and Fiji 14-7 in the semis before taking on Argentina.

Los Pumas came from behind to beat Samoa 21-14 in the quarters and New Zealand 21-19 in a last-four clash to reach their first-ever final in Dubai.

Tries from Impi Visser and Shilton van Wyk, with a Justin Geduld conversion, handed the Boks a 12-0 half-time lead.

Argentina made the most of Ryan Oosthuizen being sent to the sin bin through a try by Matias Osadczuk converted by Santiago Mare.

But the Boks held on for another Dubai title in a season where the ultimate aim will be to dethrone Fiji as Olympic champions at the Paris 2024 Games.

"We had a very good pre-season and the guys showed that they were ready to play six tough matches," South Africa coach Philip Snyman said.

"The way they worked, based on defence, also showed their willingness to work off the ball and cover each other’s backs and that is a wonderful thing for coaches to see."

New Zealand claimed third spot with a victory over Fiji.

The women's title went the way of Australia for a fourth consecutive time.

Teagan Levi touched down either side of halftime as the Australians ended New Zealand’s 41-match winning streak in a 21-14 victory.

Skipper Charlotte Caslick said Levi had been "unbelievable".

"She’s had an amazing pre-season and we’re all getting to see the hard work she’s done this year."

A first-half hat-trick from Yolaine Yengo allied with a Lou Noel try helped France to third place with a 26-5 win over Canada.


Arab Delegation Visits Riyadh to Oversee Preparations for Arab Road Cycling Championship

The meeting is part of the inspection visit as the date for hosting the Arab Road Cycling Championship 2023 approaches. SPA
The meeting is part of the inspection visit as the date for hosting the Arab Road Cycling Championship 2023 approaches. SPA
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Arab Delegation Visits Riyadh to Oversee Preparations for Arab Road Cycling Championship

The meeting is part of the inspection visit as the date for hosting the Arab Road Cycling Championship 2023 approaches. SPA
The meeting is part of the inspection visit as the date for hosting the Arab Road Cycling Championship 2023 approaches. SPA

President of the Saudi Cycling Federation (SCF) and Vice President of the Arab Cycling Federation (ACF), Abdullah Al-Wathlan, met with a delegation of the ACF, headed by Secretary-General Ismail Al-Hosani.

The meeting is part of the inspection visit as the date for hosting the Arab Road Cycling Championship 2023 approaches.

The championship is scheduled to take place from December 15 to 23 in Riyadh.

During the meeting, Al-Wathlan expressed the SCF’s eagerness for further cooperation with ACF to contribute to organizing an exceptional edition and providing an exemplary experience for more than 300 players representing 13 countries. They will compete in this Arab event, overseen by the International Cycling Union (UCI).

The visit included inspection tours covering the race routes scheduled over seven days, totaling 730 kilometers.
This encompassed the accommodation for delegations, technical and arbitration needs, as well as the final preparations and arrangements to welcome the Arab teams.


Jeddah Gears Up for 2023 FIFA Club World Cup Enthusiasts

Screens under the slogan "Welcome, Fans!" have emerged to greet football enthusiasts supporting the participating clubs. SPA
Screens under the slogan "Welcome, Fans!" have emerged to greet football enthusiasts supporting the participating clubs. SPA
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Jeddah Gears Up for 2023 FIFA Club World Cup Enthusiasts

Screens under the slogan "Welcome, Fans!" have emerged to greet football enthusiasts supporting the participating clubs. SPA
Screens under the slogan "Welcome, Fans!" have emerged to greet football enthusiasts supporting the participating clubs. SPA

Jeddah governorate is gearing up to host the FIFA Club World Cup 2023, organized by Saudi Arabia, set from December 12 to 22 at King Abdullah Sports City and Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal City stadiums.

Across different regions and governorates of the Kingdom, vibrant displays and screens under the slogan "Welcome, Fans!" have emerged to greet football enthusiasts supporting the participating clubs.

The clubs—Al Ittihad (Saudi Arabia), Al Ahly (Egypt), Manchester City (England), Urawa Red Diamonds (Japan), Leon (Mexico), Fluminense (Brazil), and Auckland City (New Zealand)—are all geared up for the tournament.

The organizing committee's second promotional campaign is ongoing until December 9 at Jeddah Corniche, aiming to offer football fans and families the chance to capture photos with the championship's original trophy, previously hoisted by football legends worldwide.

The campaign boasts diverse entertainment, musical performances, face-painting activities for kids, and events catering to various age groups.


Liverpool Score Two Late Goals in 4-3 Win Against Fulham

03 December 2023, United Kingdom, Liverpool: Liverpool's Wataru Endo (C) celebrates scoring his sides third goal of the game during the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Fulham at the Anfield. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire/dpa
03 December 2023, United Kingdom, Liverpool: Liverpool's Wataru Endo (C) celebrates scoring his sides third goal of the game during the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Fulham at the Anfield. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire/dpa
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Liverpool Score Two Late Goals in 4-3 Win Against Fulham

03 December 2023, United Kingdom, Liverpool: Liverpool's Wataru Endo (C) celebrates scoring his sides third goal of the game during the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Fulham at the Anfield. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire/dpa
03 December 2023, United Kingdom, Liverpool: Liverpool's Wataru Endo (C) celebrates scoring his sides third goal of the game during the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Fulham at the Anfield. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire/dpa

Liverpool scored two goals in a minute late on to beat Fulham 4-3 in the Premier League on Sunday.
Trailing 3-2 at Anfield, goals from Wataru Endo and Trent Alexander-Arnold in the 87th and 88th minutes secured a comeback win.
Liverpool had twice led in the match, but looked set to lose at home for the first time since February when Bobby De Cordova-Reid put Fulham ahead in the 80th.
That was until Endo sparked the comeback and Alexander-Arnold hit the winner soon after to extend the Merseyside team's 100 percent winning home record this season and moved it to within two points of leader Arsenal.
Liverpool had taken the lead in the 20th through an own goal from Fulham goalkeeper Bernd Leno after Alexander-Arnold's long-range 25-yard free kick.
Fulham evened the score four minutes later when former Liverpool player Harry Wilson squeezed a near-post shot under keeper Caoimhin Kelleher from Antonee Robinson’s cross.
The home team retook the lead in brilliant fashion as Alexis Mac Allister drove a shot into the top corner in the 38th, The Associated Press reported.
Fulham evened the score again in the third minute of first-half stoppage time through Kenny Tete who headed in after Raul Jimenez flicked the ball on from a corner.
Leno denied Salah just before the break and Darwin Nunez smashed a shot against the crossbar in the second half.
Fulham went ahead when substitute De Cordova-Reid out-jumped Kostas Tsimikas at the far post.
Endo had a header saved and Salah fired the rebound over before Liverpool went on to complete its comeback.


Mbappe, Vitinha Score as 10-man PSG Beats Le Havre 2-0

Paris Saint-Germain's French forward #07 Kylian Mbappe runs with the ball during the French L1 football match between Le Havre AC and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) at The Stade Oceane in Le Havre, north-western France, on December 3, 2023. (Photo by DAMIEN MEYER / AFP)
Paris Saint-Germain's French forward #07 Kylian Mbappe runs with the ball during the French L1 football match between Le Havre AC and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) at The Stade Oceane in Le Havre, north-western France, on December 3, 2023. (Photo by DAMIEN MEYER / AFP)
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Mbappe, Vitinha Score as 10-man PSG Beats Le Havre 2-0

Paris Saint-Germain's French forward #07 Kylian Mbappe runs with the ball during the French L1 football match between Le Havre AC and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) at The Stade Oceane in Le Havre, north-western France, on December 3, 2023. (Photo by DAMIEN MEYER / AFP)
Paris Saint-Germain's French forward #07 Kylian Mbappe runs with the ball during the French L1 football match between Le Havre AC and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) at The Stade Oceane in Le Havre, north-western France, on December 3, 2023. (Photo by DAMIEN MEYER / AFP)

Paris Saint-Germain had no problem beating Le Havre 2-0 to extend its lead at the top of the French league standings on Sunday despite playing for more than 80 minutes with 10 men after goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma was sent off for a reckless tackle.
Goals from Kylian Mbappe and Vitinha ensured a seventh consecutive league win for Luis Enrique's team. PSG has a four-point cushion at the top after second-place Nice was handed its first loss this season on Saturday, a 1-0 defeat at Nantes, The Associated Press reported.
Le Havre got off to a strong start with several good moves but lacked accuracy to inflict any damage. The hosts produced 22 shots, but only seven of them were on target.
Donnarumma was sent off following a reckless foul outside his box. The Italy goalkeeper came out of the area as he tried to clear a long ball with a very high tackle, but instead made contact with Le Havre forward Josue Casimir's face.
Referee Bastien Dechepy showed him a red card and Bradley Barcola made way for substitute goalie Arnau Tenas.
PSG broke the deadlock on the break after Lee Kang-in set up Ousmane Dembele down the right side. The winger then crossed the ball for Mbappe, who controlled with his right foot and curled a shot into the net from the edge of the box in the 22nd minute. It was Mbappe's 15th league goal this season.
Vitinha completed PSG's win in the 88th minute from Manuel Ugarte's assist.


Saudi Deputy Sports Minister Crowns Emirates Team New Zealand 'NEOM Cup' Champions

The Saudi Deputy Minister of Sport, Bader bin Abdulrahman Al-Kadi, has crowned the Emirates Team New Zealand. SPA
The Saudi Deputy Minister of Sport, Bader bin Abdulrahman Al-Kadi, has crowned the Emirates Team New Zealand. SPA
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Saudi Deputy Sports Minister Crowns Emirates Team New Zealand 'NEOM Cup' Champions

The Saudi Deputy Minister of Sport, Bader bin Abdulrahman Al-Kadi, has crowned the Emirates Team New Zealand. SPA
The Saudi Deputy Minister of Sport, Bader bin Abdulrahman Al-Kadi, has crowned the Emirates Team New Zealand. SPA

The Saudi Deputy Minister of Sport, Bader bin Abdulrahman Al-Kadi, has crowned the Emirates Team New Zealand with the 37th edition of the America’s Cup Preliminary Regatta Jeddah “NEOM Cup.”

The championship, held for the first time in the Kingdom at the Jeddah Yacht Club and Marina, was organized by the Saudi Sailing Federation in collaboration with the Saudi Ministry of Sports.

Over the course of four days, six teams representing participating countries competed in the waters of the Red Sea.

The New Zealand team secured a well-deserved victory by achieving 64 points in a thrilling competition against the Italian team that secured the second position, with 49 points.

The Swiss team came in the third position with 35 points, while the American team achieved the fourth position with 28 points. The British team claimed the fifth position with 26 points, and the French team was in the last position with 20 points.


Girona Scores 2 Late Goals to Stun Valencia 2-1 and Regain Lead in Spain

Girona's Uruguayan forward #07 Cristhian Stuani and Girona's Brazilian defender #20 Yan Couto celebrate their team's second goal during the Spanish league football match between Girona FC and Valencia CF at the Montilivi stadium in Girona on December 1, 2023. (AFP)
Girona's Uruguayan forward #07 Cristhian Stuani and Girona's Brazilian defender #20 Yan Couto celebrate their team's second goal during the Spanish league football match between Girona FC and Valencia CF at the Montilivi stadium in Girona on December 1, 2023. (AFP)
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Girona Scores 2 Late Goals to Stun Valencia 2-1 and Regain Lead in Spain

Girona's Uruguayan forward #07 Cristhian Stuani and Girona's Brazilian defender #20 Yan Couto celebrate their team's second goal during the Spanish league football match between Girona FC and Valencia CF at the Montilivi stadium in Girona on December 1, 2023. (AFP)
Girona's Uruguayan forward #07 Cristhian Stuani and Girona's Brazilian defender #20 Yan Couto celebrate their team's second goal during the Spanish league football match between Girona FC and Valencia CF at the Montilivi stadium in Girona on December 1, 2023. (AFP)

Veteran striker Cristhian Stuani came off the bench to rally Girona past Valencia in a 2-1 win that put the season’s surprise package back on top of the Spanish league on Saturday.

The 37-year-old Stuani started the stunning comeback with a goal in the 82nd minute from a cross by fellow substitute Yan Couto.

Girona took the lead in the 88th when another cross by Couto intended for Stuani appeared to be turned into the goal by Valencia defender Cristhian Mosquera, although the league's website credited Stuani with the goal. Stuani himself said that he believed it was an own goal.

Girona moved three points clear of Real Madrid, which holds the head-to-head tiebreaker with Girona, before the powerhouse hosts the relegation-threatened Granada later.

“The team showed its pride in this victory,” Stuani said. “We are living a dream, fighting right up there at the top, and we will give it our all to stay there."

The former Uruguay striker joined Girona from Middlesbrough in 2017. He has since become Girona’s all-time goalscorer and fan favorite after helping it return to the first division in 2022. As he has aged, Stuani has become a valuable weapon off the bench, especially thanks to his knack for scoring from crosses.

“We made a mistake that made the game an uphill battle, but we threw everything we had into the game and it worked thanks to Stuani, who was great,” Girona coach Míchel Sánchez said. “Stu is the smartest player in the area. When we put the ball in the box, he always appears. I am happy for him. He is the most loved player in Girona.”

Ninth-placed Valencia had taken the lead against the flow of play at Girona's Montilivi Stadium when Hugo Duro capitalized on a defensive error in the 56th. Duro broke free when he ran onto a pass that Girona defender David López had unwisely let roll past him before chipping goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga.

Girona is partly owned Manchester City’s Abu Dhabi ownership, but its salary cap for players is only the 13th biggest in the 20-team league with the list topped by Madrid at 727 million euros ($795 million).

Barcelona hosts Atletico Madrid on Sunday with both teams seven points behind Girona. Atletico also has another game in hand.


Bayern Munich’s Game with Union Berlin Called Off Due to Snow Chaos in Southern Germany

A man crosses a road early morning after heavy snow fall in Munich, Germany, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023. (AP)
A man crosses a road early morning after heavy snow fall in Munich, Germany, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023. (AP)
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Bayern Munich’s Game with Union Berlin Called Off Due to Snow Chaos in Southern Germany

A man crosses a road early morning after heavy snow fall in Munich, Germany, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023. (AP)
A man crosses a road early morning after heavy snow fall in Munich, Germany, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023. (AP)

Bayern Munich’s home game against Union Berlin was called off because of heavy snowfall on Saturday.

Cold weather, snowfall and ice have caused transport chaos in Munich and southern Germany.

“It was decided not to play the game because of the security risks for all involved,” Union said in a statement 5½ hours before the Bundesliga game was due to start.

The league added that the Allianz Arena management “has kept the stadium from hosting today’s game due to persistent heavy snowfall.”

News agency DPA reported that flight operations at Munich airport were suspended, and numerous railway lines around Munich had to be closed on Saturday night. Passengers had to spend the night on trains in Ulm and Munich.