Cristiano Ronaldo hands in transfer request to Manchester United
(Football news) Cristiano Ronaldo has asked to leave Manchester United amidst concerns about the club’s ambition to compete for the highest honours. The Portuguese superstar has played in the Champions League for 19 consecutive seasons but will be forced to play in the Europa League should he remain with the Red Devils in the 2022/23 season. Moreover, Manchester United’s lack of transfer activity has convinced Ronaldo that winning trophies next season would be an unrealistic prospect.
As things stand, thirteen players have left Manchester United this summer but the club have not signed a new player yet. While Feyenoord’s Tyler Malacia is currently undergoing a medical at Carrington, the club needs wholesale changes to have a squad capable of competing for the highest honours. Ronaldo, being in the twilight of his career, understandably doesn’t want to wait for a rebuild and is looking for a move elsewhere in order to win trophies. The 37 year old respects Manchester United a lot and is “in love” with the club and it’s fans but is not keen on playing in the Europa League for the first time in his career.
However, Manchester United have reiterated that Ronaldo is not for sale and is contractually tied until the summer of 2023. The six time Ballon d'Or winner has not arrived at Carrington for training today due to “personal family reasons” and the club have accepted his explanation. It’s puzzling for Ronaldo to issue a transfer request now instead of the end of last season, which would not only give his agent Jorge Mendes plenty of time to find potential suitors but also allow Manchester United to look for strikers, a position they are understaffed in, even if Ronaldo decides to stay next season.
For the Manchester United hierarchy, especially the Glazer family, Ronaldo’s departure would be an extremely big blow. It would prove to the fans that the club have lowered expectations and are no longer interested in competing at the highest level. Ronaldo is not just important on the pitch, his commercial appeal makes him a valuable asset to Manchester United’s global reach. The Portuguese superstar was Manchester United’s only ray of light in the 2021/22 season and the club can no longer depend on Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford to deliver the goods in Ronaldo’s absence. The 37 year old’s transfer request may lead Manchester United to accelerate the transfers of Frenkie De Jong, Lisandro Martínez and Antony in order to convince Ronaldo to remain at the club.
Paulo Fonseca becomes the new manager of Lille
(Football news) LOSC Lille have confirmed that they have appointed former AS Roma boss Paulo Fonseca as their new manager on a two year contract. This comes after the club and Jocelyn Gourvennec agreed to part ways two weeks ago, after less than a year since they had appointed him.
Following their 2020/21 Ligue 1 title win under Christophe Galtier, a lot was expected from LOSC Lille this season but due to their financial issues combined with the fact that they had to sell players saw the club really struggle in Ligue 1. Not only that, their title winning coach Galtier left for OGC Nice and his replacement Jocelyn Gourvennec, struggled to keep up with the club’s expectations. So much so, that the defending Ligue 1 champions failed to finish even in the European spots, finishing in tenth place on the table. Off the field issues saw Gourvennec leave the club earlier this month and Lille since then have moved and replaced him with former AS Roma boss Paulo Fonseca. The club confirmed that Fonseca has signed a two year contract with the club and is bringing three new coaches to the club with him.
Fonseca was a former central defender who began his career as a player in his native country, for fourteen years, before hanging up his boots in 2005. Since then, his coaching career has been taken notice of. After starting out coaching the youth team of Estrela Amadora, he managed a number of lesser Portuguese teams. Before that he achieved a marvellous feat during the 2012-2013 season with Pacos Ferreira, finishing 3rd in the Portuguese league ahead of the likes of Sporting and Braga. He subsequently helped his club qualify for the Champions League for the first time in Pacos Ferreira’s history. After a failed coaching stint in Porto, he bounced back with Braga to win the Portuguese Cup.
In 2016, he joined Shakhtar Donetsk and built a squad with many Brazilians which was an added benefit as he is Portuguese. He was a profitable choice for both parties. The Ukrainian club achieved the league and cup double during his three seasons in charge of the team, while he mostly made a name for himself on the European scene at the same time. In Rome, Fonseca had a mixed record as in his first season, the Giallorossi finished in fifth place in the Serie A. The following season (2021) they were eliminated in the semi-finals of the Europa League by Manchester United but he was sacked for a poor finish in the league.
A statement released by the club read “LOSC today formalises the arrival of Paulo Fonseca as head coach. The Portuguese technician (49), who worked for FC Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk and AS Roma, signed a two-year contract today with the Lille club. LOSC are pleased to be able to begin their collaboration with their new coach, who arrives accompanied by Tiago Leal (assistant coach), Paulo Mourão (assistant coach in charge of physical preparation) and António Ferreira (assistant coach in charge of goalkeepers). Already present at the club, Jorge Maciel also composes the staff of Paulo Fonseca, as assistant coach. A new page is being written. We wish it long and full of success.”
Talented Argentine midfielder Enzo Fernandez joins Benfica
(Football news) Benfica officially signed River Plate midfielder Enzo Fernández for €18m. The deal is structured around the acquisition of 75% of the player's economic rights which will cost €10 million and €8 million are the bonuses. Benfica's sporting director Rui Pedro Braz was in Buenos Aires for the deal as a decisive round of negotiations for the 21-year-old Argentine midfielder took place with several other European clubs interested in Enzo.
The deal accelerated since the arrival of Rui Pedro Braz in Buenos Aires and took some initiative in the negotiation. Both the club representatives met in mid-May, as it was the first formal meeting that took place between the Portuguese club and Enzo’s representative as he was satisfied with the project and the possibilities of growth within Europe. Thus, the president Rui Costa, decided to accelerate the Enzo deal after selling Uruguayan striker Darwin Núñez for €100m to Liverpool. Although other clubs such as Wolverhampton and Milan were interested in him, none accepted the money or the conditions that River Plate wanted
After playing 50 games and scoring 12 goals with River Plate, Fernández bids goodbye to South America as he finishes finalizing the details of his contract until 2027 with the Portuguese giants. He will stay back and play the Copa Libertadores final as he hopes to give River Plate fans one more trophy to cheer for. River Plate have already sold Julián Álvarez to City, River Plate in recent times have been producing world class players as Lionel Scaloni summoned Enzo to the Argentine national team for the first time in early November 2021 along with his club teammates Simón, Zeballos and Medina.
After FIFA allowed the World Cup squads to have 26 players, Enzo could well make the final cut to go to Qatar. For years, Argentine have been producing good strikers and defenders at international level but the deficit in their play was mainly due to the midfielders not being capable of interpreting the game, of covering wide spaces, of sweeping an opponent who is carrying the ball and breaking lines to jump on the attack. The lack of midfielders were covered with players such as Rodrigo De Paul and Giovani Lo Celso and now you can add Fernández, who fits into that role perfectly. When Enzo gets on the ball he always supports with assists or shots from medium distance. He is the modern midfielder who meets the historical needs of football as he does the simple things perfectly, he is a kind of player that gives style to a team.
Sporting agree a £17 million fee from Fulham for Joao Palhinha
(Football news) Fulham are wrapping up their business pretty fast this summer transfer window as they agreed a £17 million fee for Sporting Lisbon midfielder Joao Palhinha. The defensive midfielder is wanted by several top European clubs this summer but it looks like that the newly promoted Premier League side are close to securing his signature. However, Palhinha hasn’t agreed any personal terms with the club as interest from Wolves, who already have several Portuguese players on their books,has enticed him a lot. Palhinha is seen as a perfect replacement for the departing Ruben Neves as he is being linked to Manchester United, Arsenal, and Barcelona. Now it will be up to Palhinha to decide where he wants to play next season, keeping in mind he has to get regular playing time before the World Cup in November.
Palhinha played a vital role for Sporting Lisbon club as they secured second spot in the Primeira Liga last season, making 27 appearances and scoring three goals. The 26-year-old also featured in all of Sporting's Champions League games, where they reached the last 16 after a long time before succumbing to Manchester City. Palhinha could become the latest Portugal player to move to the Premier League, with Wolves and Fulham both leading the race for the central defensive midfielder. The Cottagers have agreed a fee of €17m plus add-ons for the midfielder but a similar offer is matched by Wolves.
It is now up to the player to decide which club he would sign for. Interestingly, both teams are coached by Portuguese coaches, with Bruno Lage at Wolves and Marco Silva in charge of Fulham. Palhinha is known for his big presence in the midfield as he is one of the very few midfielders in world football who can currently safeguard the defense by sitting in front of the two central defenders. He is also known for his prescenes during set pieces as he stands at 6ft 3. Many other big clubs like Manchester United, Manchester City and PSG scouted him for a while but if he joins these big clubs he might not get regular playing time, hence, for his career it is good he will move to Fulham or Wolves
Vitinha agrees personal terms with PSG amid Manchester United interest
(Football news) According to Fabrizio Romano, Manchester United midfield target Vitinha has completed a move to Paris Saint Germain as the French giants activated the youngster’s €40m release clause. He won the league with Porto last season and also has some Premier League experience under his belt, having spent the 2020-21 season on loan at Wolverhampton Wanderers. Vitinha played for Wolves on loan but failed to impress at the Molineux, scoring once in only 22 appearances. He impressed for Porto after returning last summer, featuring 47 times across all competitions for the Portuguese side as he helped his side win the Portuguese league title
United last season struggled in the midfield and with several departures this summer, they were looking at Vitinha as a potential replacement. The lure of Champions League football as well as the presence of new football director Luis Campos has seemingly swayed Vitinha to choose Paris as his next destination. Vitinha would have provided Erik ten Hag with vital depth in the midfield area. His experience in the Premier League from his spell on loan at Wolves, could have made him an ideal replacement for someone like Paul Pogba. At just 22 years old, Vitinhas has the intelligence on and off the ball, alongside his range of passing are two of his best assets. Throughout Porto’s title-winning season, Vitinha showed his excellent passing ability and switching of the play from one flank to another.
The Portuguese midfielder is a ball player as he is always looking to get on the ball and keep the play ticking over. When he is playing as a number 8, his ability to link up with teammates and his ability to pick out incisive passes to them in the final third has made the scouts aware of his talents. In PSG, there is going to be a proper midfield overhaul as the likes of Gueye, Herrera and Parades are going to leave, and it looks like Vitinha might just be a one of the replacements for these departing players. The new incoming PSG manager will have the likes of Vitinha and Veratti at his disposal as both the talented players will hope to create a lethal midfield.
FIFA shoots 'special series' with Sunil Chhetri as part of regional content initiative
New Delhi, Jun 17 (Football News) Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri has truly gone global with FIFA shooting a "special series" on him in appreciation of a stellar career for a country for whom a World Cup participation remains a pipedream after years of bombast.
Turning out for a country that is yet to play in the World Cup, Chhetri featuring in a series by the world football governing body is unprecedented by any stretch of imagination.
"Some of the parts have been in shot in Bangalore as he is living there while a bit of shooting also took place in Delhi, where his parents live and where he grew up," a source aware of the development told PTI on Friday.
"It's part of a FIFA's regional content initiative which they have launched. So globally when one talks of Indian football, Sunil, without a doubt, is the contact point. You would go to him, right," an Indian football insider added.
In something that normally doesn't happen, Chhetri also received a congratulatory message from top English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur for equalling Hungarian legend Ferenc Puskas' tally of 84 international goals.
By scoring India's second goal in their final AFC Asian Cup Qualifying game against Afghanistan on Tuesday, Chhetri drew level with Puskas while becoming the fifth-highest international goal scorer of all time.
He now stands just two goals behind Argentine football superstar Lionel Messi's tally of 86 goals.
The 37-year-old Chhetri is the third-highest goal scorer in international football among active players, a list that is led by Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo has so far scored 117 goals for the national team.
In an illustrious career, Chhetri has represented the Indian team in 129 games so far.
When asked about his record after India's qualification to the Asian Cup, the Indian captain had stated, "I genuinely don't care about records and personal milestones. I just want to enjoy myself as I move on to the last moments – just go out and enjoy on the pitch." While this is the first time that India has qualified for back-to-back editions of the top continental tournament, the team has struggled to get its act right in recent years, yet again failing to progress in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.
The team though made amends for the disappointment in the World Cup Qualifiers by entering the Asian Cup with Chhetri leading from the front with four goals.
Impressed by the huge turnout at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata, Chhetri says the side would love to play the AFC Asian Cup on home soil while confessing to "hitting my peak" at a time when many are discussing his retirement from the game.
"The kind of form we are in, we would have loved to play at home. The way the fans are coming up and supporting us in numbers, it would be great to play here," said Chhetri.
Also Read : Calvin Ramsay joins Liverpool from Aberdeen for a fee of £6.5m
News Source : PTI
Fabio Vieira set to join Arsenal for a reported fee of €35m
(Football news) Arsenal are set to sign Porto midfielder Fabio Vieira for 40m euros (£34.2m) plus add ons. The 22-year-old is yet to earn a cap for Portugal but was voted the best player of the tournament at last year's Euro Under-21. A medical is planned for Vieira as he could become Arsenal's third summer signing following USA goalkeeper Matt Turner and teenage Brazilian forward Marquinhos. Vieira this season has provided 14 assists in Primeira Liga which is more than any other player. He has also been capped 21 times by Portugal Under-21s.
Vieira was an integral cog in the Porto squad which won the Portuguese league as he made 39 appearances for them this season, scoring seven goals and providing a record 16 assists in all competitions. His best attribute is that he can feature as a false nine or central midfielder, and has been a regular starter for Portugal Under-21 recently. It is thought that the signing of Vieira was driven by Mikel Arteta, who found his admiration of the playmaker months ago. Vieira, will join a young nucleus of attacking midfielders which includes the likes Martin Odegaard, Emile Smith-Rowe and Saka.
Born in Santa Maria De Feira, on May 30, 2000, Fábio joined the Porto academy at a tender age of eight in 2008. He rose through the ranks before spending the 2015-16 season on loan at Padroense which was an U-17 side in the Portuguese division, before being sent to Porto’s B side in 2017. Things started to look up when he was a teenager in 2018, with Fábio playing for Portugal’s U-18 side and U-19 side while also making an impact at the club level. He played a crucial role in Porto B’s run to the 2019 UEFA Youth League Final, starting all but two games. Fabio scored in the opening 7 minutes in the Final as Porto defeated Chelsea 3-1 in Nyon, Switzerland.
Fábio is a very capable midfielder who can unlock deep blocks with his precise through balls but also switch the ball to the other flank with ease and find the open teammates. He is a capable player who can recognize an overload on one side and rotate the ball to the opposite side of the field. He boasts a 60.5% long pass success rate in the Portuguese League this season. Over the years, Portugal have been blessed with players who can carry the ball forward amid the defensive pressure and create goal scoring chances by inch-perfect through balls. After Deco, Rui Costa, Luís Figo, Bernardo Silva, João Félix and many more, it appears that Fábio Vieira could be the latest player with this unique talent.
Tottenham Hotspur congratulate Sunil Chhetri for equalling Puskas's tally of 84 goals
London, Jun 17 (Football News) In something that normally doesn't happen, Indian football team captain received a congratulatory message from English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur for equalling Hungarian legend Ferenc Puskas' tally of 84 international goals.
By scoring India's second goal in their final AFC Asian Cup Qualifying game against Afghanistan on Tuesday, Chhetri drew level with Puskas while becoming the fifth-highest international goal scorer of all time.
He now stands just two goals behind Argentine football superstar Lionel Messi's tally of 86 goals.
"Congratulations to India's @chetrisunil11 for equalling the great Ferenc Puskas with his tally of 84 international goals! #IndianFootball," Tottenham Hotspur wrote on their Twitter handle.
The North London-based club finished fourth in the 2021-22 EPL season with 71 points. Manchester City were crowned champions.
The 37-year-old Chhetri is the third-highest goal scorer in international football among active players, a list that is led by Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo has so far scored 117 goals for the national team.
In an illustrious career, Chhetri has represented the Indian team in 129 games so far.
When asked about his record, the Indian captain said, "I genuinely don't care about records and personal milestones. I just want to enjoy myself as I move on to the last moments – just go out and enjoy on the pitch." This is the first time that India has qualified for back-to-back editions of the AFC Asia Cup. Overall, it will be India's fifth appearance in the top continental tournament The 2023 edition will feature 24 teams.
Also Read : Stimac one of the best managers I played under: Chhetri
News Source : PTI
Barcelona studying the possibility of tricky Bernardo Silva deal
(Football news) Barcelona despite all their financial troubles have been busy in the market at least from the outside. Strong reports suggest that they have already agreed a deal with Frank Kessie on a free transfer from AC Milan. Marcos Alonso is another player who has agreed a deal with Blaugrana and only negotiations with Chelsea are left. Cesar Azpilicueta is another player they are interested in bringing. The big one is Robert Lewandowski who has already publicly said that he wants to join Barcelona even though Bayern Munich don't want to let him go.
Recently the Catalan club has been linked with Manchester City playmaker Bernardo Silva. The player's super agent Jorge Mendes recently had a meeting with Barcelona to discuss a number of things. When asked about the rumors Pep Guardiola said "They will have a difficult time,". Silva said "Unfortunately, I cannot answer anything. When the season ends, we will see what happens”. City will definitely want to keep hold of the player but if he wishes to leave the club then Manchester City isn't one of the clubs to block transfers. The rumored transfer price of the Portuguese player is €100M.
Barcelona's financial woes are no secret at this moment. The club has a lot of problems to solve in this transfer window. A number of players have taken significant wage cuts so that the club can register new signings. According to reports in Spain, the Blaugrana need to generate €500M to save the club as they have €1.5 billion debt. The club is taking certain serious measures to recover from this position. They made Spotify their jersey sponsor and stadium sponsor meaning that their Stadium will be called the Spotify Camp Nou from July.
The stadium itself is going to be renovated and Barcelona will play the 2023/24 season at the Olympic Stadium. On a small scale they have also started to rent out the Nou Camp for weddings and other events. They have also announced that they will allow fans to play at the stadium for a certain amount of money. It is not as if they have tried to do it silently but the club has been marketing it on their official social media, showing how much they need the money.
The real question is that amidst all this financial woes and rebuilding, how can Barcelona afford to sign a player like Bernardo Silva. The deal with Kessie has been agreed but Barcelona haven't announced the signing yet as they can't register him but the club has assured the player that he will play for them next season. Barcelona needs to cut out a lot of dead wood and even sell a few valuable players. It is said that the only way Barcelona can sign Silva is if they manage to get rid of Fenkie De Jong who is linked with Manchester United.
Back in January Joan Laporta publicly said that Barcelona is back in the market looking for the best players in the world but their financial woes haven't improved. There is a high chance that all these statements and rumors of Bernardo Silva are completely false and done on purpose by Barcelona to make the club look a certain way. The likelihood is that Barcelona don't even try to go for Bernardo Silva. They will also have to pull the strings to register any new signings that come their way.
Also read: Jovic scores again for Serbia to put the transfer market on notice
AS Roma line up a move for out of contract Isco
(Football news) Isco has officially left Real Madrid after 9 years at the club. The Spaniard came to Real Madrid as a golden boy winner who was the hottest property in Spain. He now leaves having been an integral part of one of the clubs most successful eras. Isco's personal best came in the 2017/18 season when Real Madrid won their 33rd La Liga title and their 12th Champions League. Now the 30-year-old playmaker will embark upon a new journey in his career.
Isco hasn't had regular game time for the past 2 seasons at Real Madrid. He has often been criticised for his commitment and fitness even though both his managers Carlo Ancelotti and Zinedine Zidane have denied it. AS Roma has been linked with the player as Jose Mourinho is keen on the signing. Isco isn't a proper Mourinho type player but neither was Mesut Ozil who played well under the Portuguese. Isco's flair and dribbling ability is something which not many players in Europe have. If given regular game time the Spaniard could rediscover his old form.
At the age of 30 he still has a lot of football left in him and ultimately it will all come down to his ambition. Isco is most comfortable in a number 10 role which not many teams play in today's era. He has also played on the wing and as a deep lying playmaker in the past successfully. The one thing Isco will not want at this stage of career is to be a bench player. He will definitely want to be a starter at the club. It is still early doors to predict a move to Roma as several La Liga clubs are also interested. His wage demands are a problem for Spanish teams but they can always be negotiated.
Also read: What's next for Marcelo after 15 years at Real Madrid?
Would Jose Mourinho even consider joining PSG?
(Football news) Reliable reports in France all suggest that there are going to be major changes at PSG. Director Leonardo is going to be replaced by Luis Campos while manager Mauricio Pochettino is also set to be sacked. Kylian Mbappe while signing his new deal was given the right to have his say on important decisions at the club including manager choice and approval of signings. The first manager to be linked with the club was Zinedine Zidane who has reportedly rejected all advances. The deal was always going to be difficult considering Zidane's history with Marseille and Real Madrid.
Antonio Conte was on the list for a long time but he now looks set to continue with Tottenham Hotspur. There are several reports of Jose Mourinho which are quite interesting. Mourinho is a proven winner and given his track record he is definitely the man to take PSG to European glory. His recent success with AS Roma is proof that he still has what it takes to deliver success at the highest level. From PSG's point of view he would be a perfect candidate as he will bring a defined culture in the club. His attitude may cause problems at the club but it won't matter if he is successful.
Mourinho has already stated publicly that he wants to continue at AS Roma and further build the project at the club. That was before the interest from PSG emerged but it will still be difficult for PSG to convince Mourinho. The Portuguese manager will definitely want full control of the decisions. The recent reports of Mbappe having control over club matters is a big indication that Mourinho wouldn't go anywhere near the PSG job. For him to consider the offer he will need certain promises at the club which may be difficult for PSG to execute.
Current Nice manager Christophe Galtier is another candidate for the job. The Frenchman has previously worked with Campos during a successful period at Lille. He isn't a typical big name signing but could do the job in Paris. PSG have gone for big names in the past and they haven't necessarily worked out. Hiring a French manager with league experience could work in their favour. PSG need more than just a good manager to win the UCL. The major change will have to be in the culture of the club.
Ronaldo commits future to Manchester United despite poor season
(Football news) Cristiano Ronaldo has insisted that he is “very happy” at Manchester United despite the club failing to qualify for the Champions League after a very poor season. The Portuguese superstar returned to the club after 12 years from his first stint and scored 24 goals in 38 games in his first season back in the Premier League. Despite a reasonably impressive season for the 37 year old, the team finished sixth and will be playing in the Europa League, a tournament that Ronaldo has never played in throughout his illustrious career.
Ronaldo has played in the Champions League for 19 consecutive seasons and a step down to the Europa League is a big disappointment, especially in the twilight of his magnificent career, which has prompted speculation about his possible departure from Old Trafford. In an interview with the club’s media, Ronaldo said “I was happy, of course, to be back in a club that really raised my career, so it was unbelievable, the feeling when I came back again. It was nice to feel the supporters - the happiness of them was great.
"I was and still am very happy to be here, and what I have to say to the fans is they are amazing. Even when we lost games, they always supported us, they are always with us. The supporters are always in my heart and it's the people that we all should respect because they are always on our side. For me, the most important thing is to try to win the games and try to win some championship or some cup but I believe that Manchester will be where they belong. As I said before, sometimes it takes time but I still believe."
Manchester United’s 2022/22 season has been turbulent to say the least, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer being sacked in November after a series of humiliating results followed by an underwhelming stint by interim manager Ralf Rangnick, who recently left the club to become manager of the Austrian national team despite the initial agreement of staying on as a consultant. The club have appointed Erik ten Hag as their new manager and predictions for the 2022/23 season would largely depend on their transfer activity this summer.
Speaking about Ten Hag, Ronaldo said “I know he did a fantastic job for Ajax and that he's an experienced coach but we need to give him time. Things need to change the way he wants. I hope we have success of course because if you have success all of Manchester are going to have success as well. So I wish him the best. We are happy and excited, not only the players but the supporters as well. I wish him the best and let's believe that next year we're going to win trophies."
It was not all doom and gloom at Old Trafford this season as the club’s Under-18 side won the FA Youth Cup for the first time in 11 years. Ronaldo reiterated the need for youngsters to be given a chance under the new manager by saying “I'm in favour that we should give opportunities to the young generation, of course, because they will be the future. But you have to help them as well to put it in the right spot, because the pressure is a lot to play in the Premier League, which I believe is the most difficult league in the world by far.
“You have to give them time, give them the opportunity, and let them grow in a normal way without pressure, but I think we should give opportunities to the young generation. They understand to achieve success you have to [make] sacrifices, hard work, ethic of work, dedication, but of course if the kids ask my advice I will give my opinion and advice because I want to help."
Paris Saint-Germain sign Nuno Mendes from Sporting CP
(Football news) Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain have signed 19 year old Nuno Mendes from Portuguese club Sporting CP for a fee of £34m on a contract valid till June 2026. Mendes had joined PSG on loan last summer, making 37 appearances and providing two assists for the club and the left-back was one of the four players in the team to make it to the Ligue 1 team of the year. He has also made 13 senior appearances for his national team Portugal, representing the A Seleção in the Euro 2020.
A statement released by PSG read “Paris Saint-Germain has completed the permanent transfer of Nuno Mendes. The Portugal left-back is now tied to the club from the French capital until 30th June 2026.” Mendes played in all eight Champions League matches for PSG last season and featured 27 times in Ligue 1 where he lifted the domestic title.
Paolo Maldini calls Rafael Leao untouchable amid Real Madrid interest
(Football news) AC Milan's technical director Paolo Maldini in a statement said that forward Rafael Leao is untouchable and not for sale. The Portuguese has a release clause of €150 million and Milan have no intentions of selling him despite interest from PSG and Real Madrid. Leao was quoted saying “The rumors about Real Madrid's interest make me happy, but I am keeping my feet firmly on the ground.” It will be difficult for Real Madrid to pull the deal off considering Milan's stance but if there’s one team in the world who can make the impossible happen, it’s the Los Blancos.
The failure to land Kylian Mbappe has linked Real Madrid to every single forward in the world. Leao's release is definitely something Madrid will not spend but Milan may be willing to negotiate despite Maldini's statements. Leao is a complete forward who can play anywhere in the front three. His natural athleticism and technical ability are as good as anyone in the world right now. The only problem from Real Madrid's point of view is that his preferred playing position is left wing just like Vinicius Jr, Rodrygo and Eden Hazard. Los Blancos will preferably like someone who is a natural right winger rather than someone who's ability will be lessened on the right.
Leao currently has two years left on his contract with Milan therefore he won't come cheap. If the player demanded a transfer to play for Real Madrid then Milan isn't one of those clubs who will force him to stay. Real Madrid will still be evaluating other options but Leao is someone who has a lot of potential. At the age of just 22 he has established himself as one of the best forwards in the Serie A. Real Madrid have really gone all in on their youth project with signings of Eder Militao, Ferland Mendy, Eduardo Camavinga, Rodrygo and Vinicius Jr. Leao ticks all the boxes perfectly and moving to Madrid will take his career to the next level.
Also read: Real Madrid take on Liverpool in historical Champions League final
Jose Mourinho's AS Roma win inaugural Europa Conference League
(Football news) AS Roma defeated Feyenoord 1-0 in the final of the Europa Conference League. This was the inaugural edition of the tournament which is the 3rd tier of UEFA's European club football competitions, after the Champions League and the Europa League. Jose Mourinho has delivered in his very first season with AS Roma. This is Roma's first trophy since 2008 and also their first ever success in a major European tournament. Mourinho has now won 5 European trophies and has never lost a European final.
Roma lined up in a 3-4-3 like they have all season while Feyenoord played a 4-3-3 formation. Henrikh Mkhitaryan was rushed back to fitness for the match and had to come off after just 17 minutes. He was replaced by Portuguese midfielder Sergio Oliviera. The only goal of the match came in the 32nd minute when Gianluca Mancini played in a cross which Nicolo Zaniolo controlled with his chest before chipping the goalkeeper. Roma scored with the first big chance of the game to take a crucial early lead. Feyenoord couldn't create any direct chances in the first half because Roma defended really well. The Dutch club started the 2nd half really well as they hit the post and produced a save from Rui Patricio inside 2 minutes of the restart.
Feyenoord was all over Roma in the initial period of the 2nd half. Roma were desperately clinging onto their one goal advantage with some excellent last ditch defending. In the 85th minute, captain Lorenzo Pellegrini had a great chance to seal the game but his shot was saved by Justin Bijlow. After taking the lead Roma played keep ball and didn't take any major risks by committing players forward. The Italian club had only 33 percent possession but were very clinical when they needed to be. Apart from goalscorer Zaniolo and assist provider Mancini; Bryan Cristante and Chris Smalling were incredible throughout the 90 minutes.
Winning a trophy in his first season will be a massive relief for Mourinho and the club. Now their target next year will be to push into the Serie A top 4 next season and potentially aim for Europa League glory. The Portuguese manager was visibly emotional as he won a piece of silverware after 5 years and two tough spells at Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. The competition, despite being the 3rd tier of European competitions, has produced some very entertaining matches and is proving to be a very good platform for the clubs.
United Kingdom government to approve Chelsea takeover in 24 hours
(Football news) The UK government is expected to approve Todd Boehly-led consortium’s bid for the purchase of Chelsea Football Club in the next 24 hours. They have received legal guarantees that Russian Oligarch Roman Abramovich will not be benefitting from the deal and the approval of the £4.25bn deal is imminent with the proceeds of the sale going into a frozen bank account controlled by the government.
The takeover will end Roman Abramovich’s 19 year reign at Chelsea in which the club won 21 trophies including five Premier League titles and two Champions League trophies. Since Abramovich is also sanctioned by the European Union and holds a Portuguese passport, the sale will also need to be approved by the Portuguese authorities. The new owners, Todd Boehly and consortium member Hansjörg Wyss were present at Stamford Bridge when the Blues won 2-1 over Watford.
Thomas Tuchel and the Chelsea management would be happy to hear that the takeover is imminent as the club currently cannot buy, sell or negotiate contracts with players due to the restrictions imposed by the UK government. Interestingly, Todd Boehly tried to buy Chelsea in 2019 as well, but his £2.2 billion offer was rejected by Abramovich. The consortium led by Boehly have already started working on plans for the redevelopment of Stamford Bridge. As part of the ownership, Boehly will share equal voting rights with Clearlake Capital, a Californian private equity firm who would own the majority shares. The group is being advised by Goldman Sachs and Robey Warshaw.
Man United confirm appointments of McClaren and Mitchell van der Gaag
(Football news) Manchester United have confirmed the appointment of Steve McClaren and Mitchell van der Gaag in the role of assistant managers under Erik ten Hag. McClaren, who previously worked under Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford from 1999 to 2001 and has previously worked alongside Ten Hag when the Dutch manager was his assistant at FC Twente. As for Van Der Gaag, he has been Erik ten Hag’s assistant at Ajax and the manager of the club’s reserve team for the last two years.
Van der Gaag’s appointment is subject to Governing Body Endorsement from the FA and a UK visa. He began his career at PSV Eindhoven and has played for NEC, Sparta Rotterdam and Utrecht as well as Scottish top flight club Motherwell for two years. The 50 year old began his coaching career at Portuguese club Maritimo followed by Belenenses. He has also worked for FC Eindhoven, Excelsior and NAC before joining Ajax in 2019.
As for McClaren, he was part of a huge successful spell at Manchester United from 1999 to 2001 followed by becoming a manager at Middlesbrough where he won the League Cup in 2004 and reached the UEFA Cup final in 2006. He was then appointed the England national team manager in May 2006 and left the role in November 2007. Speaking about Ten Hag, McClaren said “I thought I worked hard until I met Erik. His great strength lies not just in his attention to detail and organisation. He has a clear philosophy of how he wants to play football; the environment he wants to create.”
The Yorkshireman guided FC Twente to their first Eredivisie title in the club’s history, finishing ahead of Ajax by 1 point. The achievement meant McClaren was the first English manager to win a top flight title since Bobby Robson in 1996. He has also managed the likes of Nottingham Forest, Derby County, Newcastle United and Queen’s Park Rangers and was most recently working alongside Wayne Rooney as an advisor at Derby County.
AS Roma reach the Conference League final with win over Leicester
(Football news) Jose Mourinho's AS Roma booked their place in the Europa Conference League final by eliminating Brendon Rodgers' Leicester City. The final aggregate score was 2-1 to AS Roma as they will face Feyenoord in the final. Jose Mourinho had now become the first manager to reach a European final with 4 different clubs i.e Champions League final with Porto and Inter Milan, Europa League final with Manchester United and now the Conference League final with AS Roma.
The first leg at the King Power Stadium ended 1-1 with a goal from Lorenzo Pellegrini and an own goal from Gianluca Mancini. With the tie in balance, the Stadio Olympico was rocking as the home side got an incredible welcome into the stadium. It took Tammy Abraham just 11 minutes to open the scoring and put Roma in front on the night and on aggregate. The English striker jumped highest to hit a bullet header from Pellegrini's corner. Even though the header was dead centre of the goal, the power on the shot left Kasper Schmeichel with absolutely no chance.
After taking the lead Roma went into full Moutinho mode. Leicester City despite having 63% possession could only manage 2 shots on target, both of which were straight at Rui Patricio. Roma had a couple of chances from corners but couldn't hit the target. Brendon Rodgers will be extremely disappointed with his team's performance. It is not just the loss but how they lost which was very frustrating. The away side never looked like scoring and just didn't test Roma enough. Jose Mourinho had tears in his eyes when the final whistle was blown. The Portuguese manager has never lost a European final in his career and he will be keen on keeping his record intact.
Will Bayern Munich be a good move for Cristiano Ronaldo?
(Cricket news) At the start of the season, Cristiano Ronaldo made a fairy tale return to Manchester United. The Portuguese legend left Juventus to join the club where he became one of football's all time greats. That fairy tale has somewhat become a nightmare as the season has progressed. Manchester United are going to be without a piece of silverware for the 5th consecutive season. As things stand the Red Devils need a big miracle to finish in the top 4.
Despite all these hardships, Cristiano Ronaldo has been scoring important goals throughout the season. He has scored 17 league goals, which is far more than any other Manchester United player. He is the 2nd top scorer in the league behind Mohamed Salah who has 22 goals and is equal with Son Heung-min. In the UEFA Champions League, he has scored 6 out of 12 goals scored by United and all 6 of those goals were extremely crucial. If not for Ronaldo's goals, Manchester United wouldn't have made it to the UCL Round of 16. Ronaldo has also been criticised for his lack of pressing which has been unfair more often than not.
Cristiano Ronaldo as a player was never a pressing forward just like the majority of the great strikers such as Ronaldo Nazario, Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Eric Cantona. It's definitely not an age thing as even in his prime, Ronaldo would often save his energy by not pressing. Despite all this in United's 1-1 draw at the Old Trafford, Cristiano Ronaldo ran a lot and had to track back on the left side to stop Reece James. The only issue is that having Ronaldo in the squad means that he will want to start all the games even at the age of 37 which isn't ideal if the club wants to groom a younger striker.
During his entire professional career, Ronaldo has always played in the UCL. Manchester United are likely to play in the Europa League or even worse in the Europa Conference League. Reports suggest that Ronaldo's agent Jorge Mendes is going to hold talks with Manchester United over Ronaldo's future. Bayern Munich are said to have contacted Mendes over Ronaldo's potential transfer. Robert Lewandowski is heavily linked with a move away from Bayern Munich to Barcelona.
Ronaldo will provide a very short term replacement but the fact that he has still scored 17 goals in the Premier League proves that he can still produce the goods for Bayern Munich. The commercial and cultural impact of Ronaldo's signing would be massive for the Bavarian side. The Portuguese talisman has never played in the Bundesliga but has scored tons of goals against German teams in the past. Ronaldo will definitely get more personal and collective success in Bayern Munich but he may have a point to prove at Manchester United which is why he may choose to stay. A lot depends on Erik Ten Hag and what he wants to do when he eventually takes over the club.
West Ham face Frankfurt for their first European final since 1965
(Football news) West Ham take on Eintracht Frankfurt in the 1st leg at the London Stadium as they bid to reach their first European final since 1965. Both the clubs domestic form has deteriorated, the Hammers sit in seventh position in the Premier League standings and Frankfurt find themselves in ninth place in the Bundesliga table. For West Ham, ensuring European football for next season is a must and was the goal at the start of the season and their most realistic chance of making it to the Champions League next season is by winning the Europa League. West Ham's chances have improved significantly now that Barcelona have now been eliminated but face a resurgent and spirited Eintracht Frankfurt side
Given the European experience of their previous opponents in the earlier rounds, West Ham were arguably underdogs to Sevilla and Lyon, although they performed like an established continental outfit in each of those ties. For Frankfurt, Oliver Glasner has not had the desired effect in the Bundesliga as they are currently 12 points adrift of the top five with seven matches remaining but his players have relished their tag of dark horses in the Europa League. Although their previous five matches have ended in draws but are undefeated in 10 matches in the Europa League. Frankfurt are no strangers to making visits to London, they recently lost to Chelsea in a penalty shootout at Stamford Bridge in the 2018-19 semi-finals before ending 2019 with a 2-1 victory over Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
West Ham United possible starting lineup:
Areola; Johnson, Dawson, Cresswell; Coufal, Soucek, Rice, Masuaku; Fornals, Bowen; Antonio
Eintracht Frankfurt possible starting lineup:
Trapp; Tuta, Hinteregger, Hasebe; Knauff, Sow, Rode, Kostic; Kamada, Lindstrom; Borre
The defending Scottish champions take on the German powerhouse RB Leipzig at the Red Bull Arena in the 1st leg. Leipzig are in fourth position in the Bundesliga standings as Rangers are in second place in the Scottish Premiership table behind their arch rivals Celtic. The Glasgow giants needed extra time to defeat the Portuguese side as Braga were eventually reduced to nine men during extra time in the second leg of the quarter-finals. Nevertheless, Rangers head into this match on the back of a terrific run as they are on a four-match winning streak, a run which includes a victory over Celtic in the Scottish Cup also, and subsequently they have scored 12 goals during those fixtures.
The trajectory for RB Leipzig skyrocketed since the appointment of Domenico Tedesco in December. He has won a total of 16 wins and just three defeats coming from 24 games, and they will have the chance of ending the season with two trophies as the other potentially coming in the DFB Pokal. Securing a place in next season's Champions League is the number one priority for this club, however, and they hold just a two-point advantage over fifth-placed Freiburg after their recent defeat to Union Berlin in the Bundesliga. Since dropping out of the Champions league after the group stages, Leipzig have been very impressive, coming through ties against Real Sociedad and Atalanta BC quite comfortably.
RB Leipzig possible starting lineup:
Gulacsi; Mukiele, Klostermann, Gvardiol; Henrichs, Laimer, Adams, Angelino; Olmo; Nkunku, Silva
Rangers possible starting lineup:
McGregor; Tavernier, Goldson, Balogun, Bassey; Kamara, Lundstram, Jack; Aribo, Sakala, Kent
Erik ten Hag's immediate headaches at the Manchester United job
(Football news) Manchester United have officially announced that Erik ten Hag will be their manager next season. The job by no means will be easy for the manager. There will definitely be a rebuild at Manchester United as Paul Pogba, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard are all out of contract at the end of the season. All these players look to be on their way out which means there will be a lot of room for some fresh talent. Nemanja Matic has already announced that he will be leaving the club at the end of the season.
The big question is regarding the future of Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese has one year left on his contract and it will be interesting to see what Ten Hag does with him. Ronaldo has scored 21 goals in all competitions this season. The talisman still gets a lot of criticism for his workrate and lack of pressing. Ten Hag could choose to build a team around him and get the best out of Cristiano Ronaldo. Even at the age of 37 the Portuguese continues to produce goals at crucial moments but the new manager may want to start fresh by getting in a young striker.
Donny Van de Beek who is currently on loan at Everton had a very successful period under Ten Hag at Ajax which is where the world took notice of him. Ten Hag could give the Dutch midfielder a lifeline at Old Trafford by getting him back to his best. The other job Ten Hag has to do is to get the best out of Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane who don't seem to have settled at the club. He may also choose to sell a few players who aren't good enough to play for Manchester United.
Perhaps his biggest challenge is the Harry Maguire situation. The centre back is currently the captain of Manchester United. Maguire's form has been declining rapidly since the start of the season. Ten Hag might strip him off the captaincy so that he can concentrate on his own game. He could also keep things as they are and just try and change the players mentality. The other option would be to sell him which doesn't look likely. Amidst all this the new manager will also have to look at the recruitment side of things which definitely needs to be better. There are rumours that he might bring Antony from Ajax. It will take Erik ten Hag a long time to make Manchester United into title challengers but he has to improve them almost immediately to get the fans on his side.
Also read: Aubameyang goal enough to seal 3 points for Barcelona
Inter thrash AC Milan to enter the Coppa Italia final
(Football news) Inter thrashed AC Milan 3-0 to enter the Coppa Italia Final as a double from Lautaro Martinez sealed their city rivals fate. The first leg was a goalless draw but Inter scored after just four minutes in the return leg when Martinez, starting ahead of Edin Dzeko, smartly turned in Matteo Darmian's inch perfect cross at the near post for his second goal in successive games. Milan almost levelled at the half-hour through Rafael Leao but the Portuguese was denied by an excellent save from Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic. The Slovenian was on fire as he made another smart stop minutes later to keep out Belgian forward Alexis Saelemaekers.
The Rossoneri were left to rue those missed chances as Inter regrouped themselves and doubled their lead five minutes before halftime when Martinez scored again for his second of the night, slotting the ball in the goal after being played in by his Argentine compatriot Joaquin Correa. AC Milan had several half-chances after the break but Ismael Bennacer's 68th-minute goal was ruled out for an offside before substitute Robin Gosens put the final nail in the coffin when he sealed the win for Inter with his first goal for the club as they edged towards a first Coppa Italia title in more than a decade.
"We wanted to win, we didn't achieve that, we were certainly up against a strong opponent," said Milan boss Stefano Pioli.
"I don't think the performance was worthy of a 3-0 but Inter scored at the right times. Naturally going 2-1 down would have created a different match and given us more momentum... we didn't lack effort, intensity or chances but it wasn't our night."
"I am happy because we are playing another final," said Martinez, who has endured a difficult season. "There are things said that I don't like, but I defend this jersey. The club put a lot of faith in me and I try to repay them on the pitch.
Manchester United’s Nemanja Matic to leave club in the summer
(Football news) Manchester United’s midfielder Nemanja Matic revealed on Friday that he will be leaving the Old Trafford outfit at the end of the season, five years after the Serbian joined from Chelsea. The 33 year old is currently under contract until 2023 and has made 26 appearances across all competitions this season.
In an Instagram post, Matic said “I have informed the board, the manager and the players of my decision. It has been a huge honour and a privilege to play for this great club. A big thank you to the fans for their unwavering support. I will now give everything until the end of the season to help my teammates finish as strongly as possible."
Matic joined Manchester United from Chelsea for a fee of around £40 million in 2017 when Jose Mourinho was manager. The Serbian was instrumental in Chelsea’s title winning campaign during the 2014-15 season under the Portuguese manager but leaves Manchester United without winning a single trophy during his five year spell.
Manchester United are at serious risk of missing out on a Champions League spot next season, the club are currently 7th in the league with 51 points, six points behind fourth place Tottenham Hotspur. Matic’s decision to leave the club will add to the headache for the Manchester United hierarchy as the club lacks defensive midfielders. Moreover, the likes of Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Edinson Cavani are already expected to leave, which means that a significant overhaul of the squad will be required.
Ajax manager Erik ten Hag is on the verge of being appointed as permanent manager for the club for the next season and the Dutchman will need significant transfer funds, despite the lack of Champions League in order to make the team competitive again. Moreover, the recruitment and scouting department at the club will need a significant change in order to spend the funds in the right direction based on the style of play the manager wants to implement.
Liverpool reach CL semi-finals with high scoring draw against Benfica
(Football news) Liverpool progressed to the semi-finals of the Champions League after a 6-4 aggregate win over Benfica over the two legs. It was a high-scoring 3-3 draw at Anfield in the 2nd leg but the result wasn’t enough for the Portuguese side to progress into the next round. The Reds will now face Villarreal in the semi-finals on 27th April and could face either Manchester City or Real Madrid in the finals if they go through.
A goal by Ibrahima Konate and a brace by Roberto Firmino sealed a draw for Liverpool while Goncalo Ramos managed to score for Benfica in the first half. Roman Yaremchuk and Darwin Nunez also scored goals for the visitors but the result wasn’t good enough, especially considering that the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Sadio Mane, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andrew Robertson and Mohamed Salah were rested.
Liverpool have an impressive record of winning the last 35 of their matches on aggregate when they have led in the first leg. They opened their scoring from a set piece when Kostas Tsimikas whipped in a corner from the left side and Konate headed the ball into the bottom corner, outfoxing three Benfica defenders. However, the home side’s offside trap was penetrated in the 32nd minute when a deflected block by James Milner sent Goncalo Ramos through on goal and he subsequently finished in the far corner.
Liverpool extinguished any hopes Benfica may have had about getting back into the game by scoring their second goal as Benfica keeper Odysseas Vlachodimos allowed the ball to slip outside his grasp and a poor clearance by Jan Vertonghen allowed Diogo Jota to provide the assist for Firmino to score. The Brazilian grabbed his second goal 10 minutes later with a classy finish from Tsimikas’ delivery. Benfica once again managed to penetrate through Liverpool’s offside trap as Yaremchuk scored in the 73rd minute. Nunez scored the equaliser in the 81st minute after VAR overturned a wrongly given offside decision but it simply wasn’t enough for the visitors to salvage the match.
Liverpool aiming to secure qualification to the semi-finals of the CL
(Football news) Liverpool are in pole position to qualify for the semi-finals of the Champions League, having already defeated Benfica 3-1 in the first leg. The Reds will welcome the Portuguese side for the quarter-final tie on Wednesday night and will hope to get a favourable result to keep their quadruple hopes alive.
It’ll be difficult for Benfica to overturn a two goal deficit, especially at Anfield but the Liverpool defenders will be vary of Nunez, who scored all three goals in his side’s 3-1 win over Belenenses to extend his tally to 31 goals in the season. History is on their side as well, as they are one of only two teams to have beaten Liverpool by at least two goals in a European knockout game, winning 2-0 in the Round of 16 in the 2005/06 season.
However, Benfica’s current form away in the Champions League is less than impressive with only two wins from 12 games although they have managed to keep five clean sheets in six away games this season. In terms of injuries, Jurgen Klopp has a fully fit squad at his disposal but the German is expected to rest some big names considering that they are in pole position to go through.
The likes of Takumi Minamino, Harvey Elliott, Divock Origi and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain did not play against Manchester City and could feature in some capacity while Roberto Firmino and Luis Diaz could feature instead of Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota. Benfica also have an almost fully fit squad except for Lucas Verissimo who is unavailable due to a cruciate ligament injury while Rodrigo Pinho and Rafa Silva will also be unavailable.
After serving his domestic ban, Jan Vertonghen is also available for selection and is expected to feature alongside Nicolas Otamendi. With many players rested for Benfica over the weekend, the likes of Gilberto, Alex Grimaldo, Julian Weigl and Goncalo Ramos are expected to feature in the starting XI this time around.
Should Cristiano Ronaldo remain at Manchester United next season?
(Football news) It was a packed Old Trafford on 11th September 2021 as Manchester United fans celebrated the return of Cristiano Ronaldo at the Theatre of Dreams once again. When he left the club in 2009, Ronaldo had won everything there was to win in England, Europe and around the world but the club he rejoined more than a decade later was a shadow of its former self, a far cry from the glory days of Sir Alex Ferguson. He was meant to be the messiah, a truly world class player who had won it all and could take the club that he has loved back to the summit of world football. Unfortunately, dreams don’t always come true and his first season at Manchester United has been more of a nightmare than a romantic reunion.
Manchester United are currently 7th in the Premier League, three points behind Tottenham and Arsenal but the Gunners have a game in hand and could potentially be six points ahead. The possibility of Champions League qualification remains a distant dream for Ralf Rangnick’s side and Ronaldo has never played in the Europa League in his illustrious career. He may be 37, but a player who has won five Champions League titles surely deserves to play in Europe’s elite club competition doesn’t he? After all, he was one of the biggest reasons Manchester United managed to progress past the Group Stage this season. As things stand, it doesn’t seem likely that we will be hearing the iconic Champions League anthem at Old Trafford next season but a lot can change between now and when the season ends.
More importantly, it’s clear that Edinson Cavani will be departing in the summer while Mason Greenwood is suspended indefinitely and Marcus Rashford has had an abysmal season so far. The 24 year old cannot be counted as a reliable option up front and cannot even get a game over the inexperienced Anthony Elanga at the moment. This leaves Cristiano Ronaldo as the only reliable striker in the team but at 37 years, a club of Manchester United’s stature should not depend on a player who, despite being a credible goal threat, offers little else in other aspects. Getting a young and proven striker will be one of the biggest priorities for Manchester United in the summer, but does that mean that Ronaldo will have to settle for a place on the bench?
Ronaldo has transitioned from being a winger with pace and skills to a lethal striker with incredible movement in the box, an aerial presence and a poachers instinct. However, to make use of these traits, the club needs to have players around him who can provide the service for Ronaldo to capitalise on. Moreover, Ronaldo has been quite wasteful in front of goal, uncharacteristically missing opportunities that would have surely gone into the back of the net years ago. The blame doesn’t sorely lie on his teammates, Ronaldo himself has offered little apart from his goal scoring traits, which means that combined with his poor work rate, he might not be the most reliable option for Manchester United going forward, especially under a new manager who might want to significantly overhaul the team’s structure and tactics.
The club signed Ronaldo on a two year contract in 2021 and unless their intention is to extend that contract, this summer might be their only opportunity to cash in on the four time Ballon d'Or winner. He might be 37, but there will definitely be clubs in Europe who have qualified for the Champions League and would be more than happy to take Ronaldo, especially considering that it could be a very lucrative investment in terms of shirt sales and sponsorships. A return to Sporting CP could also be a possibility as his mother Dolores Aveiro has previously said that her biggest desire is to see her son return to the Portuguese club one last time. What is abundantly clear is that Ronaldo certainly has the talent to compete at the highest level, but there are limitations to his game and his future definitely looks uncertain, especially if the club fails to qualify for the Champions League next season.
Liverpool play away at Benfica in the UCL quarter finals
(Football news) After their 2-0 win against Watford in the Premier League, Liverpool will travel to Portugal to take on Benfica in the UCL quarter finals 1st leg. The Merseyside club won all 6 group stage games and topped their group. They marginally edged Inter Milan 2-1 in the Round of 16. After winning the Carabao cup, Liverpool still have a good chance of winning the FA Cup, the Premier League and the Champions League to complete the legendary quadruple.
Benfica finished 2nd in their group ahead of FC Barcelona before defeating Ajax in the Round of 16. The Portuguese side are not having the best of seasons domestically but in Europe they are enjoying one of their best campaigns ever. Getting the better of Liverpool is by no means an easy task. Benfica definitely need a home win because Anfield is definitely a place they wouldn't want to go without a lead. Striker Darwin Nunez will have to be on top of his game for Benfica to have any chance in the game
Liverpool have a fully fit squad available which gives Jurgen Klopp a very welcome headache of team selection. His biggest call will be the striker as he will have to choose between Roberto Firmino, Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz to partner Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah. Trent Alexander-Arnold is available again at the right time but he may not be fit enough to start after not playing against Watford. Benfica will be without winger Rodrigo Pinho and centre back Lucas Verissimo. Liverpool have a very difficult period coming up with fixtures coming in hard and fast while Benfica only have the UCL to focus on. The match will be fast paced as Liverpool's press will be anything but timid. Benfica may be forced to rely on long balls to beat the gegenpress.
I'd scan my brain if I wake up as Ronaldo: Kohli
Mumbai, Apr 4 (Cricket News) A huge fan of Cristiano Ronaldo, star India batter Virat Kohli says he would do a scan of his brain if he wakes up one day as the Portuguese football icon.
A big fan of Ronaldo's work ethics and fitness regime, Kohli expressed his admiration for the star footballer during a photoshoot for his IPL franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Asked about his favourite athlete and what he would do if he woke up like him one day, Kohli said: "Cristiano Ronaldo!" "I would do a scan of my brain (if I woke up as Ronaldo) and see where all that mental strength comes from," Kohli said in the 'Behind The Scenes' series by RCB.
Kohli also spoke about his heartbreaking and most memorable moments of his life at RCB.
"IPL final 2016 and that same year, 2016 T20 World Cup semifinal at Wankhede against West Indies," Kohli said recalling the heartbreaking moments.
Kohli was in the form of his life in the 2016 season when he smashed 973 runs from 16 matches at an average of 81.08 -- most runs in a single season ever.
On the most memorable moment, he picked their win against Gujarat Lions in the IPL 2016 qualifier 1.
"The last game that we played in 2016 was against Delhi in Raipur. And then the very next qualifier, when AB (de Villiers) played a gun knock and Iqbal was with him at the other end.
"The celebration after that game was the most special that I have ever experienced," Kohli signed off.
The video also featured India pacer Mohammed Siraj and skipper Faf du Plessis who picked Roger Federer as his favourite athlete.
RCB take on Rajasthan Royals in their third match of the season on Tuesday.
Also Read : Sunrisers opt to bowl, Lucknow replace Chameera with Holder
News Source : PTI
Liverpool and City secure three points and Chelsea and Man Utd falter
(Football news) Liverpool defeated Watford 2-0 with Diogo Jota and Fabinho on the scoresheet. Ever since his debut for the Reds, nobody has scored more goals than Jota who scored his seventh header for Liverpool. Joe Gomez provided the perfect measured cross and the Portuguese forward headed it past Ben Foster. Fabinho then doubled the advantage by scoring from the penalty spot, helping his team keep pace with City at the top of the table.
Meanwhile at Turf Moor, reigning champions Manchester City comfortably defeated Burnley 2-0. Kevin De Bruyne gave his side the lead just five minutes from kick off when he latched onto a cushioned pass by Raheem Sterling and blasted a first time shot into the back of the net. Ilkay Gundogan doubled the advantage in the 25th minute with Sterling providing the assist yet again. The result meant that City retained their one point advantage over Liverpool after 30 matches played.
In what can be considered as their best performance of the season, Burnley thrashed Chelsea 4-1 at Stamford Bridge and secured their first North London derby victory in 83 years. Few would have predicted this scoreline when Antonio Rudiger scored a 40 yard screamer in the 48th minute but Vitaly Janelt managed an equaliser just two minutes later. To make matters worse for the hosts, Burnley scored their second when Bryan Mbeumo combined with Christian Eriksen and the Danish midfielder found the back of the net.
At the hour mark, Janelt found the net once again after a brilliant pass from Ivan Toney while substitute Yoane Wissa capitalised on a poor clearance by Rudiger to score the fourth. The result is a massive accomplishment for Burnley, not only because of the quality of their opponents but Burnley are now 11 points clear of the relegation zone and fans will remember this victory for years to come.
Manchester United’s hopes of securing qualification for the Champions League next season were dealt with a major blow as they drew 1-1 against Leicester City at Old Trafford. The Foxes took the lead in the 63rd minute through Kelechi Iheanacho but Fred scored the equaliser just three minutes later. It could have been worse for the hosts as James Maddison was denied a late winner after a VAR review found Iheanacho guilty of a foul on Varane during the build up leading up to the goal. The result means Manchester United are seventh in the Premier League, level on points with West Ham who have played a game more.
Bruno Fernandes’ brace books Portugal's place in 2022 Qatar World Cup
(Football news) Portugal defeated North Macedonia 2-0 in the 2022 Qatar World Cup qualifiers final. It was overall a composed professional performance by the Portuguese team. North Macedonia's dream run is over but reaching the finals in itself was an incredible achievement for them. The good news for football lovers is that Cristiano Ronaldo will be at the World Cup which will most likely be his last.
At the start of the game Portugal really struggled to get hold of the ball due to some rigorous pressing by North Macedonia. Portugal had to depend on long balls and throw ins just to get the ball out of their half. In the 14th minute, Cristiano Ronaldo was through on goal but dragged his shot wide of the far post. 18 minutes later, Bruno Fernandes intercepted a cross field ball by Stefan Ristovsci before playing it to Ronaldo who slipped a nutmeg pass for Fernandes to smash into the back of the net.
The two Manchester United players combined to give Portugal a much needed goal in the first half. Portugal managed to control the game till Diogo Jota set up Fernandes who got his 2nd of the game in the 65th minute. Both the goals by Fernandes were incredible first time shots hit with power and precision. Ronaldo had a decent game where he had a couple of missed chances and quite a few misplaced passes. The win showed that Portugal can win games with Ronaldo underperforming which makes them even more dangerous when he is on his A game which he usually is.
The man of the match without question was Pepe. The Porto man missed the match against Turkey due to Covid but came back for this one and showed no signs of it. He dominated the game with his awareness and power throughout the 90 minutes. He won headers from defensive set pieces and long balls. The centre back even played a few good passes himself. His return was very crucial and Portugal will just be stronger when Ruben Diaz becomes available again.
Cancelo and Pepe set to return as Portugal take on North Macedonia
(Football news) Euro 2016 and Nations League 2019 winners Portugal have still not guaranteed their place in the 2022 Qatar World Cup. After finishing 2nd in their qualification group, Portugal were pitted against Turkey for the play off semi final which they won 3-1. They now have one more barrier in their way which is North Macedonia.
North Macedonia in 2021 played in their first major tournament at the Euros. They managed to finish 2nd in their World Cup qualification group ahead of Romania, Armenia and Iceland. In their playoff semi final, North Macedonia shocked the world by defeating European champions Italy. They are now one step away from creating history by reaching the World Cup finals for the first time in their history.
Portugal will be boosted by the return of Joao Cancelo who has served his suspension. Pepe has also recovered from Covid and should start in the heart of the defence which means Danilo Pereira can go back in midfield. Manchester United duo Bruno Fernandes and Diogo Dalot are the two players likely to make way for Cancelo and Pepe. As always, all eyes will be on Cristiano Ronaldo to produce something extraordinary as he has done so many times for club and country.
If Portugal do qualify, the 2022 World Cup could be Ronaldo's last and if not he might even hang up his international boots. The bigger picture is that this is one of the strongest Portuguese squads ever and if they still fail to qualify for the World Cup it will be a big disappointment. North Macedonia will be high on confidence after their emphatic win over Italy and will back themselves to get the job done and book their tickets to Qatar.
Fernandes set to sign a new five year contract with Manchester United
(Football news) Manchester United’s Portuguese talisman Bruno Fernandes is on the verge of signing a new and improved five year contract at the club. Talks between the two parties were on hold during the turn of the year but negotiations have resumed after they found a breakthrough. The 27 year old is expected to double his weekly wages and will now earn £240,000 a week, which is the primary objective of this contract extension as the midfielder signed a five and a half year contract with an option to add another 12 months in 2020.
To say that Bruno Fernandes has been an impact at Manchester United would be an understatement. The former Sporting Lisbon player is arguably one of the best signings in the post Ferguson era and was instrumental in changing the club's fortune after his arrival in the January transfer window. However, it might be concerning for the Manchester United hierarchy that he has been unable to replicate his form this season and will really need to step up if he has ambitions of winning trophies at the club he is pledging his future with.
The contract will make Fernandes one of the highest earners at the club alongside the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo (£400,000), David de Gea (£375,000), Paul Pogba, Raphael Varane, Jadon Sancho, Edinson Cavani, Harry Maguire and Marcus Rashford who earn upwards of £200,000. Since his arrival at Old Trafford, Fernandes managed 12 goals and eight assists in his opening 22 games and stepped up his form in his first full season, scoring 18 Premier League goals, and 28 in all competitions along with 18 assists. In comparison, his season has been disappointing this time around with only 9 goals and 13 assists as the team looks to secure Champions League qualification for next season.
The last time Ronaldo and Portugal played a WC qualifier play off
(Football news) Portugal have been a victim of bad luck in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers. About a year ago in Portugal's qualifier game against Serbia, the score was level at 2-2. Ronaldo scored what was a clear stoppage time winner as the ball had crossed the goal line but the linesmen didn't spot it and in the absence of goal-line technology, the goal wasn't given. Ronaldo furiously walked out of the field and threw away his captain's armband.
After that Portugal won all their matches until the 2nd last one against Ireland which ended in a 0-0 draw. In their last game against Serbia, they only needed a draw to achieve direct qualification but Alexander Mitrovic's last minute winner pushed them to 2nd place. Portugal now have a very difficult task of the playoffs where they have to overcome Turkey and one of Italy and North Macedonia for a spot in the Qatar World Cup.
Portugal coach Fernando Santos has said that his team is used to dealing with pressure situations as they have won 2 out of 2 major finals they have played in. Playoffs of the World Cup isn't really a new thing as they had to go through the playoffs to book their place for the Brazil 2014 World Cup. They defeated Zlatan Ibrahimovic's Sweden in a two legged play thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese talisman gave one of the best individual performances on the international stage by scoring a hat-trick for the ages in the 2nd leg. After finishing 2nd behind Russia in their 1st Round group, Portugal were pitted against Sweden.
In the 1st leg at Lisbon, Ronaldo scored a header in the 82nd minute to give Portugal a 1-0 lead. At the return leg in Sweden, the forward once again gave Portugal the lead early on. Zlatan Ibrahimovic then scored twice to bring the tie on level terms at 2-2 with Portugal having the advantage because of the away goal. With Sweden needing another goal, Ronaldo killed their dreams with 2 goals to take Portugal to the World Cup finals. All 3 Ronaldo goals were him sprinting from the halfway line using his blistering pace and incredible finishing.
This time around the format is different and the task is even more difficult. Ronaldo doesn't possess that incredible pace anymore but his finishing has gotten better if anything. Portugal are severely understaffed and any of the two games could be the last time we see Ronaldo in a Portugal shirt. Anybody who has seen him play over the years wouldn't put it past him to do something special once again even if the chances are bleak.
MotoGP: Miguel Oliveira wins rain soaked Indonesian Grand Prix
(Motorsports news) MotoGP returned to Indonesia after 25 years and it certainly did not disappoint. KTM's Miguel Oliveira won a delayed and soaking wet 2022 Indonesian MotoGP at Mandalika, responding perfectly to a late charge by world champion Fabio Quartararo, who started on pole but really couldn’t take advantage in the tough conditions. In Moto 2 Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) became the first Thai rider to win a Grand Prix race. Chantra led from the first corner to the chequered flag and eventually beat World Championship leader Celestino Vietti by 3.2 secs and Aaron Conet. In Moto 3, Dennis Foggia put his Qatar disappointment behind and won the Indonesian Moto3 Grand Prix quite comfortably.
Starting seventh, Oliveira had a brilliant start and wasted no time in passing leaders Quartararo and Jack Miller before easing away in the distance. After struggling early on, pole starter Quartararo finally got the much needed grip in the treacherous conditions and went on the attack, climbing back up to second, even threatening to catch Oliveira. However, the Portuguese saw off the danger and kept his victory margin intact as Johann Zarco completed the podium. It was Oliveira's fourth MotoGP victory but his first podium since Assen 2021. There was plenty of drama in the run-up to the planned start as the rain delayed the start and the race distance being shortened from 27 to 20 laps due to problems with the wet track surface, then Marc Marquez was declared unfit due to a head concussion after his massive crash in the final practice before qualifying, subsequently he’s fine and fit to race in the next Grand Prix.
The riders had experienced damp track conditions on Friday practice and Saturday qualifying, but on Sunday the circuit was flooded. The race eventually started with plumes of spray as the 23 remaining riders charged for turn one, with world champion Quartararo taking an early advantage from Oliveira with Miller climbing to third after a brave start. Quartararo then touched the kerb in the final corner and was passed by both Oliveira and Miller at the start of lap 2, the Australian diving past Oliveira soon after to take the lead.
However, he couldn’t sustain the lead as the tide soon turned in favour of Oliveira. Miller eventually had to settle for fourth ahead of Suzuki riders Alex Rins and Joan Mir, with Franco Morbidelli in seventh. Oliveira's Red Bull KTM team-mate Brad Binder put a pass on younger brother Darryn and finished in eighth but his younger brother really excelled in the tough conditions, as he settled for tenth and best rookie in the race. Yamaha team-mate Andrea Dovizioso had to because of a technical problem. Miller's factory Ducati team-mate and Qatar Grand Prix winner Francesco Bagnaia saved himself from a massive crash but ran off track on his way to 15th place.
Oliveria said "Without this good start the race could have been a bit different for me. I really couldn’t see anything behind the riders. With all the spray and the rain on the visor, it was definitely hard to see the lines and be precise. Also to judge the grip level.
He added "I think by the end of the race I could understand more and how much I could push, but to ride 20 laps in a row in the rain or compared to a practice is quite different. You can explore a bit more the braking points in the practice, or going wide, or cool down the tyres. Fortunately, I made a good start and after that I was following Jack [Miller] a little bit and could understand a bit more. Than it was just about building up the gap and controlling the race. If the race had seven laps more I don’t know (if a win was possible) because Fabio [Quartararo] was coming pretty strong."
What to expect from the UEFA Champions League quarter final fixtures
(Football news) The Round of 16 of the 2021/22 UEFA Champions League did not disappoint as PSG, Manchester United, RB Salzburg, Sporting CP, Inter Milan, Ajax, Juventus and Lille were eliminated. The quarter final draw presented some very interesting fixtures.
Manchester City vs. Atlético Madrid
Atletico Madrid got the better of Manchester United in the last round with a 2-1 aggregate win. Manchester City on the other hand dismantled Sporting CP with a 5-1. The tie will without question be Manchester City's attack vs Atletico Madrid's defence throughout the 180 minutes. If there is any team in the world that can stop Pep Guardiola's Manchester City from scoring, it is Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid. The key for City will be to not allow Atleti to go ahead in the game because as soon as they take the lead, Diego Simeone will shut the shops.
Chelsea vs. Real Madrid
Amidst all the ownership crisis, Chelsea got a comfortable win over Lille in the Round of 16. Real Madrid were 2nd best for the entire 1st leg and the first half of the 2nd leg against PSG but managed to turn it around in the last 45 minutes. The tie will also be the replay of last year's semi final where Chelsea got the better of Los Blancos. This time around is a completely different story as Real Madrid are runaway leaders of La Liga and are playing much better than they were last season while Chelsea at times have struggled this season.
Villarreal vs. Bayern Munich
Unai Emery's Villarreal did the unthinkable by eliminating Juventus by beating them 3-0 at the Allianz stadium in Turin. Bayern Munich on the other hand got a thumping 8-2 win over RB Salzburg. Villarreal will have to defend better than ever if they want to get the better of Bayern Munich. The Bavarian side despite being on top of the Bundesliga table have had quite a few hiccups this season. Villarreal have definitely shown that they belong at this level after winning the Europa League last season but it will take something very special to overcome the mighty Bayern.
Benfica vs. Liverpool
Liverpool narrowly edged Inter Milan in the last round and so did Benfica against Ajax. Jurgen Klopp's men are hunting for a quadruple this season and if Liverpool had a choice they would've picked Benfica. The Portuguese side will need to punch way above their weight to overcome this Liverpool side.
UCL 2021/22 semi finals:
Manchester City/Atletico Madrid vs. Chelsea/ Real Madrid
Villarreal/Bayern Munich vs. Benfica/Liverpool
Atletico Madrid hold out tame Manchester United to make it to the Quarter finals
(Football news) Atletico Madrid defeated Manchester United 1-0 in the 2nd leg to get a 2-1 aggregate victory and reach the Quarter finals. It was a classic Atletico Madrid performance as Diego Simeone's men shut the shop after Renan Lodi scored in the 41st minute. Manchester United never looked like scoring as the entire Atleti team worked their hearts out.
Atletico Madrid finally got the better of Cristiano Ronaldo in the UCL after the Portuguese had a tough night where he barely got any chances. Ralf Rangnick made the bold call of benching Paul Pogba in the game and instead opting to go for Bruno Fernandes, Scott McTominay and Fred in midfield. Atletico Madrid displayed what was a classic 'Park the bus' performance which is what one would've expected from them.
Some of the decisions made by the Referee attracted a lot of questions. The major one was when he didn't stop the play for a foul on Anthony Elanga right before United conceded. The official handed out only 2 yellow cards to Atletico Madrid despite so many needless fouls. There were a lot of decisions that went Atletico Madrid's way when they shouldn't have. The Spanish champions did really well in disrupting the game in the 2nd half and not allowing Manchester United to settle.
Benfica won 1-0 away at Ajax to make it to the UCL quarter finals after the first leg ended 2-2. The game was in the balance before Darwin Nunez scored in the 77th minute to break the deadlock. The game ended Sebastian Haller's incredible goalscoring run in the UCL this season. It will be for the first time since the 2015/16 season that Benfica will play in the UCL quarter finals.
Ajax take on Benfica in a winner takes all match
(Football news) Ajax face Benfica at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam as they look to go into the last eight of the competition for the first time since their remarkable 2018/19 season. The tie is delicately poised after a 2-2 draw in the first leg. The Dutch giants warmed up for this encounter with a 3-2 victory over Cambuur this weekend, while Benfica had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Vizela.
Still refusing to let Manchester United speculation distract him from the task at hand, Ajax manager Erik ten Hag has become accustomed to seeing Sebastien Haller make the net ripple in the Champions League as he has scored in all the matches in which he has played in and has netted 11 goals this season in the UCL. The draw against Benfica somewhat disrupted their perfect campaign as it appeared to hit Ajax hard, they followed up with a shock loss to Go Ahead Eagles, but since that mini dip in form they have managed to win three on the bounce across the Eredivisie and KNVB-Beker scoring eight goals in the process.
The last time Ajax managed to make it out of the group stages in the Champions League they produce a dazzling run to the semi-finals in 2018-19, and home advantage should certainly serve them well in their bid to repeat the same feat with a different team this year. Ten Hag's side head into the second leg having won each of their last seven at home in all competitions and just conceding twice and scoring at least three goals in every home game.
For Benfica, they are unbeaten in seven matches in all competitions and will be confident not to get beaten. Their draw against Vizela came as a shock but it can be viewed positively given Taarabt's early sending off. This also ended their six-match streak of scoring at least two per game as the Portuguese giants have not made it past the last 16 of the Champions League since 2015-16. Benfica have struggled to find the back of the net in an away match in the Champions League as they scored only once in their last 14 away Champions League matches. Furthermore, the 2-2 draw in the first leg stretched Benfica's winless run against Ajax to seven games since their 3-1 success back in 1969.
"We can improve our game on the ball. We did it properly in the first half against Benfica but after the break we let it drop. We can reach an even higher level. We have often shown that.
We will have to make much better choices on the ball, be more accurate and then we can dominate the game much better. Ajax had set themselves the goal of reaching the knockout phase of Europe's premier club competition which they have won four times, but not since 1995” Ten Hag told reporters on Monday.
Ten Hag said."If you just look at our goals, they have already been achieved. But I'm a sportsman and I want to get the most out of this competition. That's why this is a big challenge. We want to get as far as possible, but for that we have to beat Benfica first."
Benzema and Vinicius once again lead Real Madrid to victory
(Football news) There was a time when Cristiano Ronaldo used to always turn up and win games for Real Madrid. Commentator Peter Dury famously once said "It's him again, it's always him" about the Portuguese. Now Real Madrid have that same feeling this time with two players Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr who more often than not link up to score goals for Real Madrid just when they need to. Between the two they have 49 goals and 26 assists in all competitions.
After their historical comeback win over PSG in the UCL, Real Madrid got a regulation 3-0 win away at Mallorca. Carlo Ancelotti rested Luka Modric and Dani Carvajal for the game. The first half was a very cagey affair as Real Madrid failed to break down the home team's defence. The Mallorca players were all over Vinicius Jr who was fouled way too many times in the first half and ended goalless. It was the Brazilian who had the last laugh as he broke the deadlock in the 55th minute after some tireless pressing by Fede Valverde which resulted in Benzema setting up Vinicius.
In the 77th minute the youngster won a penalty which Benzema converted. Five minutes later, Marcelo came on as a substitute, rolled back the years and whipped an inch perfect cross which Benzema headed home for his 2nd of the night. The game ended 3-0 but Real Madrid came out with a few injury concerns. Rodrygo limped off the pitch after a hard tackle while Ferland Mendy was taken off after a muscle overload. Karim Benzema was limping after jumping for the 3rd goal but had to continue because Ancelotti had used all his substitutions. He eventually had to go off without a replacement.
Early reports suggest that none of the injuries are serious and all of them should be fit for the El Clasico on Sunday. It will be the first time in a while when both teams are in such good form. The El Clasico may not affect the title race this time around but it will surely be an exciting one. Even more so as the Santiago Bernabeu is expected to be on fire just like it was in the PSG clash.
Cristiano Ronaldo scores a hat-trick while Liverpool sinks Brighton
(Football news) Manchester United secured much needed three points in the Premier League after a 3-2 victory over Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford. Cristiano Ronaldo proved that form is temporary, class is permanent with a majestic hat-trick, his first since 2008 for the club. However, United’s defensive fragility was there for all to see as Spurs equalised twice thanks to a powerful penalty by Harry Kane and an own goal by Harry Maguire in the second half. The result means that Man United are now on 50 points from 29 games but remain in 5th position while Spurs are 8th with 45 points from 27 games.
Despite recent criticism that Ronaldo may be past his influential best, the Portuguese superstar proved his critics wrong with an absolutely stunning opening goal in the 12th minute. The 37 year old took a shot from well outside the penalty box but the sheer pace and accuracy of the effort meant that Lloris had no chance as Old Trafford erupted. However, Tottenham continued to threaten and Ben Davis had a goal disallowed after being put in by Heung-Min Son while Diogo Dalot made a goal-line clearance to deny Eric Dier an opportunity to equalise. The visitors finally found a breakthrough when Dejan Kulusevski's cross hit Alex Telles’ hand and the referee pointed to the spot. The penalty was duly converted by Kane despite David De Gea diving in the right direction.
Jadon Sancho helped Man United regain their lead when the England international raced in behind the defence and squared the ball to Ronaldo who converted from close range in the 38th minute. Spurs largely dominated the proceedings in the second half while the hosts attacked on the counter and Conte’s team were eventually rewarded when Son passed to Sergio Reguilon whose cross was diverted in United’s goal by Harry Maguire. In the end, it was Ronaldo who came to Manchester United’s rescue as his towering header in the 81st minute not only sealed a hat-trick but also a win.
Meanwhile at the Amex Stadium, Liverpool defeated Brighton & Hove Albion 2-0 and reduced the deficit to first place Manchester City back to three points. Jurgen Klopp’s team took the advantage through Luis Diaz who headed home in the 19th minute but was knocked down by the Brighton goalkeeper in the follow-through. With no serious head injury, the referees and VAR didn’t give a red card and the game resumed with all the players still on the pitch. Despite starting brightly, the hosts faded as the play went on and should have equalised after half-time but Leandro Trossard couldn’t hit the target from close range.
The miss was a costly one for Brighton as Mohamed Salah scored the second goal of the match in the 61st minute from the penalty spot after Yves Bissouma was penalised by referee Mike Dean for a handball. The Egyptian has now scored 20 goals in the Premier League, reaching that milestone in four of his last five seasons at the club. As for Brighton, Graham Potter will be worried by the team’s form as they have only won three of their last 24 matches in all competitions.
City held by Sporting CP but progress into the quarter finals with ease
(Football news) Manchester City have progressed to the quarter finals of the Champions League despite a 0-0 draw against Sporting CP at the Etihad Stadium. Pep Guardiola’s team won the first leg 5-0 and had a relatively comfortable evening against the Portuguese side. In the first half, Raheem Sterling failed to capitalise on a one-on-one opportunity while a goal by Gabriel Jesus was ruled out for offside by the VAR after the break. Sporting were playing for pride and they did a good job by defending resolutely, denying the hosts any opportunity to score.
With a 5-0 lead from the first leg, Pep Guardiola took the opportunity to rotate his squad from the team that defeated Manchester United 4-1. Teenager CJ Egan-Riley was given his Champions League debut at right back while another academy graduate James McAtee displayed an impressive performance after coming off the bench. Back-up goalkeeper Scott Carson made his second Manchester City appearance and was instrumental in denying Paulinho a winning goal with a fine one-on-one save.
In last month’s first leg, City were in prolific goal scoring form and scored four past Sporting CP in the first half. This time around, the hosts didn’t have as much urgency while Sporting defended as a well organised unit. Gabriel Jesus had a penalty appeal denied after he was shoved by a Sporting defender after a set piece while Sterling went close to scoring and narrowly missed a low cross by Jesus at the far post. Sterling also had the best opportunity of the first half when he attempted to chip over Sporting goalkeeper Antonio Adan who denied the goal by standing tall.
Guardiola introduced McAtee and Riyad Mahrez for Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden with the objective of injecting some speed in City’s attack. The choice of substitutions almost paid immediate dividends as Mahrez combined with Jesus but the Brazilian’s strike was disallowed, less than two minutes into the second period. It was the visitors who looked more likely to score as Sporting defender Matheus Reis squandered an opportunity by blasting over while Paulinho was denied by Carson.
City upped the ante in the closing stages as John Stones’ header was narrowly sent over while Sterling’s diagonal shot hit the side netting. Guardiola gave a late cameo to another youngster Luke Mbete when it became evident that City were going through to the quarter finals in the Champions League.
Manchester United held to a frustrating draw against Watford
(Football news) Manchester United’s Champions League hopes for next season suffered a massive setback as the Red Devils were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw against Watford at Old Trafford. Rangnick’s team had the opportunity to move within one point of third place Chelsea and despite a good start, Manchester United’s finishing let them down and the spurned chance after chance.
Ralf Rangnick made four changes to the starting lineup from the team that featured against Atletico Madrid with Anthony Elanga, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Alex Telles and Nemanja Matic playing in the starting XI. Despite a promising start, Cristiano Ronaldo hit the post in the fifth minute followed by Bruno Fernandes being denied by former United goalkeeper Ben Foster. Ronaldo found the back of the net in his second attempt but the goal was disallowed due to the offside rule.
The chances continued to fall for Manchester United as Paul Pogba’s cross found Fernandes one-on-one with Foster once again but the Portuguese midfielder couldn’t hit the target. Fernandes had another opportunity to head the ball into the back of the net from a Ronaldo cross but he couldn’t hit the target once again, despite being unmarked and unchallenged for the ball inside the box. Manchester United appealed for a penalty before the first half when Anthony Elanga was brought down by Craig Cathcart but referee Kevin Friend waved play on.
The second half was more of the same story as Paul Pogba’s volley went wide off target and Watford centre-back Samir’s header didn’t hit the target. Manchester United had another penalty appeal denied when Ronaldo went down after a challenge by Hassane Kamara. Despite a good performance by Anthony Elanga, he also left his scoring boots at home and fired wide after some brilliant build-up play by Manchester United. The 19 year old went on to block Ronaldo’s effort on the goal line as well.
With frustration turning into desperation, Rangnick called up Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Luke Shaw but it made no difference. In fact, Rashford and Shaw seemed to disrupt the attacking momentum Manchester United had built up while Sancho’s efforts proved to be fruitless. Malang Sarr had an opportunity to secure a win for Watford but his shot went inches wide off the target as the two sides shared a point each from the fixture.
Speaking after the match, Ralf Rangnick said "It feels once again like two points dropped that we should have easily won. I think we did everything apart from scoring and had enough chances to win that game. But we didn't. And that's why we drew and dropped two important points in a very important game.
"I think we had enough chances. In the first half we had four clear, clear opportunities that normally are enough to score at least one or two goals. And in the second half it was similar. So yes, in the end, it's as I said about efficiency, about being clinical in front of goal. And this is not for the first time, unfortunately.
"It's difficult to say [why we miss chances]. Our job as coaches and the head coaches is to help the team create enough chances. If we only had two or three opportunities in the game, we could ask ourselves, "Well, what can we do to create even more chances?" But I think the number of clear chances we had today have to be enough to win a game like this."
Ajax draw with Benfica as Sebastien Haller creates Champions League history
(Football news) Ajax drew 2-2 with Benfica after Sebastian Haller became the third player to score in 7 straight games after Cristiano Ronaldo, Robert Lewandowski and Ruud van Nistlrooy who have scored in more consecutive Champions League matches, Ronaldo holds the record to have scored in 11 straight games from 2017 to 2018. Roman Yaremchuk headed home from close range to secure a very hard fought draw for Benfica leaving the tie finely poised for the second leg in Amsterdam.
Yaremchuk rescued the match for the Portuguese team as he reacted quickest after Ajax goalkeeper Remko Pasveer saved a fierce shot from Gonçalo Ramos and the Ukraine international pounced on his mistake to slot the ball in the net, he subsequently received a yellow card for taking his shirt off during his goal celebrations. Yaremchuk was wearing the Ukrainian coat of arms under his Benfica kit and his support in the ongoing dispute. Sebastien Haller on the other hand created Champions league history by scoring in every Champions League game he has played this season but in the first half he put the ball in his own goal and then made up for his mistake and found the net at the right end in a five-minute spell.
Dusan Tadic had scored the opening goal of the game when he fired a fierce volley to put Ajax in front in the first 20 minutes, after playing a brilliant one-two with Noussair Mazraoui, the Serbia international struck a crisp shot into the goal from 12 yards out. Benfica then came out strong after conceding early as they equalised on 25 minutes when Vertonghen’s misjudged shot deflected of Haller who completely misjudged his clearance and put the ball in his own net, but the Ivorian striker put made up for his previous mistake moments later when he easily beat Jan Vertonghen and had drawn a very good save from Odisseas Vlachodimos but he could only parry the ball back to the 27-year-old who just tapped in the rebound from eight yards for his 11 goal in the Champions League. Ajax had a penalty appeal turned down which in turn led to Benfica counter-attack, leading to Yaremchuk's goal.
"We are a bit frustrated. We could and should have done better and we are a bit disappointed to leave here having drawn 2-2," Haller after the match.
Ronaldo set to lead Man Utd against his favourite opponents Atletico Madrid
(Football news) Manchester United are back in the UCL knockouts after a two year hiatus. The Red Devils haven't made it to the semi finals of the competition since 2011 under Sir Alex Ferguson but this time they have the greatest player in Champions League history on their side. Cristiano Ronaldo may not be as good as he was a few years ago but when it comes to the UCL he knows how to deliver the goods. Even this season with Manchester United, he has scored in all the 5 group stage games he has played in. Occasions like these is precisely why Manchester United signed the Portuguese superstar.
Atletico Madrid on the other hand are having a really tough season. They are struggling at 5th place in the La Liga and they barely qualified for UCL knockouts. The Rojiblancos haven't made it to the UCL semi finals since 2017. To make matters worse they will now have to go face to face against Cristiano Ronaldo who is their worst nightmare. Ronaldo has scored 25 goals against Atletico Madrid, making him their 2nd favourite opponents after Sevilla. He has 4 hat-tricks against them 2 in the La Liga and the other 2 in the Champions League.
In the UEFA Champions League specifically, Ronaldo has always hurt Atleti. He first met them in the 2014 final where he scored a penalty in extra time to lead Los Blancos to La Decima. In the following season he set up Javier Hernandez (Chicharito) for the only goal in the quarter final tie between the two Madrid clubs. The rivals once again met in the 2016 final where Ronaldo scored the winning penalty in the shootout after the game ended 1-1. They once again met in the 2017 semi finals where Ronaldo scored a hat-trick in the first leg as Real Madrid won the tie 4-2.
After Cristiano Ronaldo left Real Madrid to join Juventus, the Bianconeri were pitted against Atletico Madrid in the 2019 UCL Round of 16. After losing 2-0 in Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo scored an iconic hat-trick to win the tie for Juventus as Atletico Madrid were once again left with a broken heart. Manchester United fans will be hoping that their beloved number 7 can produce something similar this time around. As a whole both teams are struggling and believe it or not the UCL is the only competition they can win this season.
Manchester United's biggest worry is their defence which is prone to making individual errors. Raphael Varane has played a lot of games against Atletico Madrid and should undoubtedly start the game. Another interesting contest will be set pieces as Manchester United have scored only one goal from corners which was on the weekend against Leeds. Atletico Madrid on the other hand are prone to concede via set pieces which has been their downfall this season.
Diego Simeone will be missing captain Koke who suffered an injury in training. Daniel Wass and Matheus Cunha are still unavailable while Thomas Lemar remains a doubt. Yannick Carrasco is also unavailable due to suspension. On the other hand Edinson Cavani is the only absentee for Manchester United apart from Mason Greenwood who is suspended by the club.
Atletico Madrid Possible Starting XI:
Jan Oblak; Stefan Savic, Felipe, Reinildo; Sime Vrsaljko, Marcos Llorente, Hector Herrera, Geoffrey Kondogbia, Renan Lodi; Angel Correa, Joao Felix
Manchester United Possible Starting XI:
David De Gea; Diogo Dalot, Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw; McTominay, Paul Pogba ; Jadon Sancho, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford; Cristiano Ronaldo
Champions League: Benfica face stern test against free flowing Ajax
(Football news) It might not be the most glamorous of ties in the Champions League Round of 16 but both Benfica and Ajax have a lot to prove when the two sides clash at the Estadio da Luz. Having finished second in Group E, hosts Benfica will face a difficult challenge against Ajax who were rampant at the group stages and didn’t drop a single point. Most would have predicted that FC Barcelona would have qualified behind Bayern Munich in Group E but Benfica managed to secure crucial wins against the Catalan giants and Dynamo Kiev to secure qualification in the knockout stage.
Nelson Verissimo is hoping to guide Benfica to their first quarter finals since the 2015-2016 season but the results overall haven’t been convincing enough. The Portuguese giants have won five of their last ten games under the 44 year old manager and recently drew 2-2 against Boavista. However, Benfica haven’t failed to score a goal at the Estadio da Luz in any competition since October and it’s quite likely that they will be on the scoresheet yet again. However, it remains to be seen if they will concede any goals at their home stadium, especially against a free flowing Ajax team who were one of only three sides to progress past the group stage with a perfect record.
Despite the speculation linking him to a managerial position at Manchester United, Ajax manager Erik Ten Hag will undoubtedly be fully focused on maintaining his team’s form in Europe’s elite club competition. Sebastien Haller has already scored in every group stage match and is currently the top scorer in the Champions League with 10 goals and will be looking to add to that tally against Benfica. Moreover, Ajax has won each of their last 10 games in all competitions, conceding only one goal and it’s likely that the team could possibly be the dark horses in the Champions League this time around.
A number of Benfica players are walking on thin ice as Julian Weigl, Nicolas Otamendi, Joao Mario, Rafa Silva and Alex Grimaldo could miss the second leg of the match if they pick up a booking. It’s unlikely that a possible suspension could play a part in Nelson Verissimo’s team selection as Haris Seferovic, Rodrigo Pinho and Lucas Verissimo would be unavailable due to injuries. As for Ajax, Brian Brobbey and Maarten Stekelenburg remain unavailable for selection and Ten Hag might go for Andre Onana or rely on 38 year old Remko Pasveer in goal.
Despite Ajax being the in-form team, they will undoubtedly face a challenge against Benfica but the Dutch giants are expected to secure a win from this fixture, even if they don’t keep a clean sheet. Ten Hag will want a healthy lead going into the second leg of the fixture when the two sides meet once again at the Johan Cruijff ArenA.
UCL: Defending champions Chelsea host French champions Lille in the Round of 16
(Football news) Defending champions Chelsea are all set to begin the knockouts to try and regain their title. They will be facing Ligue 1 champions Lille at Stamford Bridge with the return leg scheduled a month later in France. Chelsea enter the tie as firm favourites while Lille will be looking to pull off a major upset.
Chelsea come into the game after winning 5 consecutive matches in all competitions. They also won the FIFA Club World Cup in the process. After a tricky patch Thomas Tuchel has got his side back to winning ways as Chelsea got a narrow 1-0 win against Crystal Palace at the weekend thanks to a late goal by Hakim Ziyech. Lille on the other hand are currently struggling at the 11th position in Ligue 1 as they haven't been able to continue their form from last season. They are playing in the UCL knockouts for the first time since 2007. Lille couldn't score against Metz at the weekend as the game ended 0-0.
Chelsea's major issue is that both their first choice right backs are injured. A lot will be expected out of Romelu Lukaku who has somewhat regained his goalscoring form as he netted a goal each in the Semifinal and final of the Club World Cup. Benjamin Andre and Jonathan David will be the key figures for Lille. The pair will have to play the best football of their lives if Lille are to win this tie. Renato Sanchez returned after a groin injury and played 9 minutes in the goalless draw against Metz as the Portuguese could come off the bench to make an impact.
Both the sides have considerably dropped in form as compared to last season. It is definitely Chelsea's tie to lose as Thomas Tuchel's job could be in danger if they do not progress to the quarter finals. Hakim Ziyech is the man in form and the player to look out for. Along with Ben Chilwell Reece James and Mason Mount are also out of the clash despite returning to team training.
Chelsea possible starting XI: Benjamin Mendy; Andreas Christensen, Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger; Cesar Azpilicueta, Jorginho, Ngolo Kante, Marcos Alonso; Hakim Ziyech, Kai Havertz, Romelu Lukaku.
Lille possible starting XI: Leo; Mehmet Zeki Çelik, Jose Fonte, Sven Botman, Gabriel Gudmundsson; Timothy Weah, Benjamin Andre, Xeka, Jonathan Bamba; Jonathan David, Burak Yilmaz.
Man Utd secure thrilling victory against Leeds to clinch valuable three points
(Football news) With Arsenal and Tottenham already securing three points on Saturday, Manchester United knew that a result at Elland Road was crucial for their top four aspirations. Jesse Lingard made his first Premier League start of the season while Aaron Wan Bissaka and Paul Pogba also featured in the starting lineup. Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa dropped Raphinha on the bench as the Brazilian was replaced by Adam Forshaw. The conditions were atrocious with heavy rain, wind and a ferocious Elland Road atmosphere as an old rivalry had reignited between the two sides.
Manchester United should have taken the lead in the 26th minute when Cristiano Ronaldo’s tap-in failed to go past Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier after Paul Pogba went past Adam Forshaw at the left wing. To everyone’s surprise, the Red Devils opened the scoring from a corner in the 34th minute, finding the back of the net after 139 failed attempts. Skipper Harry Maguire outmuscled Diego Llorente and found the back of the net, much to the relief of the visiting fans. If that wasn’t all, Manchester United doubled their advantage six minutes into stoppage time at the end of the first half as Jadon Sancho’s cross found Bruno Fernandes’ head and the Portuguese midfielder made no mistake in finding the net.
Having already replaced Robin Koch with Junior Firpo due to a head injury in the first half, Marcelo Bielsa used his other two substitutions at the break as Raphinha and Joe Gelhardt replaced Jack Harrison and Llorente. The impact was instantaneous as a left footed cross by Rodrigo somehow went into the back of the net in the 53rd minute and before Manchester United could recover from the setback, Leeds equalised 24 seconds later when Daniel James’ low cross found Raphinha who outwitted Luke Shaw to find the back of the net.
As the game appeared to quickly slip away from Manchester United’s grasp, Ralf Rangnick introduced Fred and Anthony Elanga for Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard. The decision paid dividends as Fred smashed home a shot from Jadon Sancho’s assist in the 70th minute to restore United’s lead once again while Anthony Elanga gave his side a two goal cushion after finding the back of the net in the 89th minute to silence the home crowd. The win resulted in Manchester United moving onto 46 points in the Premier League table while Leeds remained five points above the relegation zone.
Speaking after the match, Ralf Rangnick said “We knew that it was an important win today. It was similar to the one against West Ham. That was similarly emotional at the end with the last-second goal. But today it was more important, not only that we won the game but the way that we reacted after conceding the equaliser. That was the best possible answer the team could give. It was perfect with regard to maturity, unity and the best reply that they could give to some articles last week that there was some disruption in the locker room. I think in a game like this one today you can only win as a team and with the mentality of a team and this was, apart from the three points, the most important thing."
Real Madrid go 6 points clear while Atleti and Barca keep up in the top 4 race
(Football news) La Liga had a goal fest of a weekend as 7 out of 9 fixtures had 3 or more goals in it. The big 3 won by a margin of 3 goals while 2nd placed Sevilla were held by Espanyol away from home. It was Real Madrid's benefit as they are now 6 points clear at the top of the table despite their recent mini crisis.
Atletico Madrid got a massive 3-0 victory away at Osasuna. The Rojiblancos desperately needed this victory to not only keep up with Barcelona in the top 4 race but also to get some momentum for their UCL tie against Manchester United. Joao Felix opened the scoring by tapping the ball into an open goal after just 3 minutes. In the second half the Portuguese cleared a corner straight to Luis Suarez who took a shot from almost the halfway line and scored past Sergio Herera who was way off his line. Atletico managed the game well enough and didn't concede many big chances. Skipper Koke set up Angel Correa in the dying minutes of the game to secure a 3-0 victory.
Real Madrid's front three lead them to a much needed 3-0 win over Deportivo Alaves. The game was not as comfortable as it looked, especially in the first half. Real Madrid didn't have an attacking spark in the first half and never looked like scoring. After the referee called halftime boos and whistles were echoed at the Santiago Bernabeu because of not only the first half performance but the recent performances of the side. The game sprung into action in the 61st minute where Marco Asensio in an attempt to pass the ball back to Thibaut Courtois gave it straight to substitute Pere Pons who couldn't score despite being one on one with the keeper. The Bernabeu loudly whistled the careless mistake by Asensio who redeemed himself by scoring an absolute worldie from outside the box and angrily gestured at the crowd to stop whistling and get behind the team. The game then opened up as Asensio, Fede Valverde and Karim Benzema combined to set up Vinicius Jr in the 80th minute. Rodrygo won a penalty in injury time which Karim Benzema scored.
Barcelona ran riot over Valencia as they won 4-1 away from home. The Blaugrana were leading by 3 goals at half time itself as they scored three beautifully constructed team goals. One was scored by Frenkie De Jong while January signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored two. Carlos Soler had a goal ruled out towards the end of the first half but eventually scored in the 52nd minute. In the 63rd minute, Pedri scored an outrageous goal from outside the box to regain the 3 goal lead for his side. The goal was later awarded to Aubameyang as the ball deflected off him. The Gabonese striker got his first hat-trick in Barcelona colors as the game ended 4-1 with Barcelona keeping their 4th spot.
Premier League’s top clubs look to secure wins in race for top four
(Football news) Arsenal will be looking to boost their chances of a top four finish by securing three points against Brentford at the Emirates Stadium. The Gunners ended their five match winless streak after defeating Wolves 1-0 but find themselves without Takehiro Tomiyasu (calf) and Bernd Leno (COVID-19) for the upcoming match. Emile Smith Rowe or Nicolas Pepe are set to feature in the starting lineup due to Gabriel Martinelli’s suspension alongside Granit Xhaka, Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard, Thomas Partey and Alexandre Lacazette.
As for Brentford, Christian Eriksen remains unlikely to feature, especially in the starting lineup while Tarique Fosu-Henry, Julian Jeanvier and Mathias Jorgensen are injured. Thomas Frank could name an unchanged lineup but it’s also possible that Ivan Toney could start ahead of Yoane Wissa, while Shandon Baptiste and Frank Onyenka will hope to force their way into the starting lineup at the expense of Mathias Jensen and Vitaly Janelt. Arsenal are expected to secure all three points in the fixture but it’s far from a straightforward fixture for the Gunners.
In-form Liverpool are set to face relegation-threatened Norwich City at Anfield, looking to close the gap on league leaders Manchester City. Jurgen Klopp’s team will be without Diogo Jota as the Portuguese international has a swollen ankle. Luiz Diaz, Roberto Firmino and Joel Matip are expected to feature in the starting lineup while Norwich City will be without Tim Krul, Jacob Sorensen and Andrew Omobamidele. Adam Idah, Lukas Rupp and Ozan Kabak are expected to be available for Dean Smith’s team but anything less than three points would be a massive upset for Liverpool and will end their title ambitions.
Also read: Manchester United defeat 10 man Brighton to move into fourth place
Having been crowned champions of the world recently, Chelsea shift their focus back on the Premier League as they face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday. For Tuchel’s team, Reece James is still recovering from a hamstring injury and is expected to be unavailable for the fixture. Ben Chilwell is another long term absentee for the Blues while Mason Mount remains doubtful due to an ankle ligament injury. However, Ruben Loftus-Cheek is expected to feature in the squad alongside Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech.
As for Crystal Palace, their top scorer Conor Gallagher is ineligible to play against his parent club while Nathan Ferguson is a long-term absentee. Cheikhou Kouyate should be available for selection after his involvement in the AFCON alongside Marc Guehi and Michael Olise. Chelsea are expected to get their ninth successive win over Palace at Selhurst Park and remain in sight of league leaders Manchester City.
Reigning champions Manchester City will look to consolidate their lead on top of the table by defeating Tottenham Hotspur at the Etihad Stadium. Pep Guardiola’s team are currently nine points ahead of second place Liverpool while Spurs are eighth and are aiming for a top four finish at the end of the season. Kyle Walker is expected to be back for the Citizens alongside Jack Grealish and Gabriel Jesus while Ilkay Gundogan may also be involved in the starting lineup.
As for Spurs, Eric Dier is expected to feature in the starting lineup but Japhet Tanganga is unavailable and Oliver Skipp remains doubtful. Antonio Conte is expected to feature Emerson Royal and Sergio Reguilon as wing backs while Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Lucas Moura, Son Heung-min and Kane are expected to start. City have a good record against Tottenham, having won six of their last seven games against the London based side and the reigning champions are expected to secure all three points in this fixture as well.
Mbappe magic sinks Real Madrid and Man City thrash Sporting Lisbon
(Football news) Mbappe gave the Real Madrid fans a glimpse of what he’ll bring to the table next season as he scored an exquisite goal at the death to give PSG a 1-0 advantage round of 16 first leg. The match initially was a very cagey affair as both teams were figuring each other out but after only five minutes Mbappe twisted and turned Dani Carvajal down the left wing before rifling a low cross across the face of goal that Angel Di Maria blazed over the bar from close range. On the 18 minute mark, Mbappe got behind Carvajal again to pick up a lofted ball over the top which was provided by Messi but in the end he couldn’t his footing right and scuffed his effort, allowing Thibaut Courtois to save his tame shot.
Five minutes into the second half, Courtois was again called upon to deny Mbappe, the Madrid goalkeeper was on his toes the entire match as Mbappe was causing havoc on the left flank and Dani Carvajal had a torrid time defending him. The decisive moment came in the match when Mbappe was fouled in the penalty area by Carvajal in the 61st minute, allowing Messi a golden opportunity to score from 12 yards but the former Barcelona talisman hit a tame penalty that Courtois saved brilliantly to keep his side in the game. Mauricio Pochettino reacted by introducing Neymar for the final 20 minutes, and in the end it was his backheel that opened up the defence and allowed Mbappe to dance between two defenders and then coolly slide the ball between Courtois legs into the far corner to earn PSG a deserved victory. Madrid finished the game with zero shots on target while PSG had eight with almost 60% of possession.
"It was a great game for us and I'm always ready to help my team, there are no distractions. We have to be humble and the second leg is still open. It will be a hard game but we will have the advantage and are very confident." said Mbappe, who has now scored 13 goals in his past 13 Champions League matches.
"No, I'm always ready to play, to help my team. People talked about me for this game, it's normal, but I'm focused, I'm happy to be a Paris player, and I give 100% for the club,” Mbappe said after the game when asked if he had extra motivation for this tie.
Manchester City have one foot in the Champions League quarter final as they thrashed Sporting Lisbon 5-0. Pep Guardiola's side scored four goals in the first half as Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden and a brace from Bernardo Silva had virtually sealed Sporting’s fate. Raheem Sterling also got on the scoresheet in the second half as the last year’s runners up cruised to an emphatic away win. Man City took the lead just after seven minutes from kick off when Mahrez tapped home from a Kevin de Bruyne cross. The goal was initially ruled offside but after a lengthy VAR check the goal was given. City then doubled their lead 10 minutes later as Bernado Silva scored from a magnificent half volley which went off the crossbar after Sporting failed to clear the corner.
The Premier League champions then just went on rampage mode as they grabbed a third goal after the half an hour mark when Foden bundled home from close range while Silva made it 4-0 before the break. Man City made history as for the first time an English side has scored four goals in the first half of a Champions League knockout game since Manchester United won 7-1 against Roma in 2007. Sterling then went to curl a sublime goal into the top corner to score his 150th goal of his club career. The goal also made sure that City became the 14th team to score 200 goals in the Champions League.
"It's a very good performance. I honestly think in the first half we weren't good enough to be 4-0 up."I'm Portuguese, I'm from the other side of the city. My mum is Sporting, my dad is Benfica. It was special to score here in my hometown.We still have a job to do in Manchester." Silva said
"I don't think the team were nervous, it is just Manchester City are the best in the world, and they killed us every time they came into our box," Sporting coach Ruben Amorim said.
Joao Cancelo extends his Manchester City contract till 2027
(Football news) Manchester City’s star defender this season Joao Cancelo extended his contract at the club by a couple of years. His new contract is now set to run until 2027, which will allow him to complete eight years at the Etihad Stadium. Cancelo has been sensational for City since joining the club in 2019. Since then, he has featured in 106 matches for the club across competitions, besides scoring three goals as well. Cancelo has now scored 16 goals in 311 games, while he has also won a lot of titles with Man City.
This season Joao Cancelo has been the best full back in the league by a country mile, under Pep he has not only improved his attacking side of the game but he's become a hard working footballer by excelling in his defensive abilities. His versatility of playing as a left back and right back gives Pep a lot of options in the wingback positions. Cancelo arrived from Juventus in the summer transfer window of 2019 as a right back, the Portuguese international wasn’t able to showcase his ability in his maiden season but having adapted to the demands of life at both a new club and new country in that important first year, Cancelo really came into his own during the 2020/21 campaign. Cancelo emerged as one of the key pivots in the City side that swept to a third Premier League title in four years as well as lifting what was a fourth successive Carabao Cup and his impact was also recognised by his peers with Joao being included in the PFA’s Premier League team of the season – the ultimate stamp of approval.
Alongside that formidable talent and technique, Cancelo is also blessed with another fundamental and crucial quality which further underpins Guardiola’s City – his amazing stamina and powers of endurance. That longevity and lung-bursting athleticism has become another key weapon in City’s all-round armoury with Cancelo’s consistency and fitness emerging as further vital attributes. He last year helped Guardiola’s side to secure Premier League and League Cup silverware and also reached their first-ever Champions League final in the club's history. Cancelo clocked up 43 appearances in total last season, he is already on the track to overhaul last season's tally. This season Joao has made 30 starts in all competitions. Indeed, such has been Cancelo’s model consistency that in the Premier League the only game he has missed out on was December’s 7-0 rout of Leeds when he was suspended. However, with his new contract now secured, arguably the most exciting facts about Cancelo’s continuing development and City evolution is that he can get even better.
"Manchester City is a fantastic club, so I am incredibly happy to have signed this new agreement. City players have everything they need to reach their full potential, with amazing facilities, world-class teammates and an incredible manager who pushes us every single day. There is nowhere better to play football and it's a pleasure to work here," he said.
"I have so much I want to achieve before my career ends, and Manchester City offers me the best chance of fulfilling my ambitions. This new contract means I now have complete focus on improving my game and winning more trophies with this team," Cancelo was quoted as saying by Manchester City's official website.
City's Director of Football Txiki Begiristain said, "Joao is the ultimate professional. He absolutely loves football and applies himself every single day in a bid to become better. He sets really high standards, and any young player should observe the way Joao applies himself if they want a blueprint for success. He is so versatile. Whether he plays right-back, left-back, or in midfield, he operates at the same high level. That is a dream for a manager. I am really happy he has signed, and I can't wait to see him develop in the role.
Tata Open Maharashtra: Ramkumar, Arjun ousted in opening round
Pune, Feb 1 (Tennis News) India's Ramkumar Ramanathan and Arjun Kadhe were ousted in the opening round of Tata Open Maharashtra tennis tournament here on Tuesday, after hard-fought three-setters against their respective opponents.
While Ramkumar suffered a 6-7 (7-9), 6-4, 3-6 defeat against eight seed Stefano Travaglia, local boy Kadhe lost 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (6-4), 6-2 to Joao Sousa.
The fourth edition of South Asia's only ATP-250 Tour event is organised by the Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association.
Both Ramkumar and Travaglia looked in good touch as they played aggressively in an intense first set.
At 4-4, the Chennai-born player responded well and hit back hard to make it 6-5 before the set went into tie-breaker. Travaglia sealed the set with his big serves.
The top-ranked Indian took control of the second set with a 4-2 lead. He then snatched it quite comfortably in the end with a brilliant serve to level the scores at 1-1.
However, the World No. 93 Travaglia made a strong comeback in the decider to take 5-3 lead. Serving for the match, the Italian didn’t let the momentum slip to pocket the set as well as the match.
Earlier, the 28-year-old Kadhe made former World No. 28 Sousa work hard for each point in the nail-biting first two sets which went into the tie-break.
However, the Indian’s challenge came to an end after the Portuguese took the charge of the game in the final set and completed a win convincingly.
"It was a tough match, he’s (Sousa) a world class player. It was a really close second set, one or two points I could have played better and won that match," Kadhe said after the match.
In other round-of-32 singles matches, sixth-seed Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland outclassed last edition’s semi-finalist Egor Gerasimov in straight sets 6-0, 7-6 (13-11).
The 22-year-old Ruussuvuori later ended the day with one more win to seal a place in the doubles quarter-finals, partnering Italian Gianluca Mager. The pair upstaged the fourth-seeded Australian duo of Marc Polmans and Matt Reid 6-4, 6-4.
Bernabe Zapata Miralles and Aleksandar Vukic also advanced to the second round with contrasting victories in their respective matches.
Spanish player Miralles, who made his Grand Slam debut at the French Open last year, had an easy task against Denis Novak as he secured a 6-4, 6-1 win without breaking a sweat.
However, 25-year-old Australian Vukic recovered well in time after being a set down to complete a thrilling 2-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) victory. Vukic is now set to face second-seed Italian rising star Lorenzo Musetti on Wednesday.
On Monday, India’s Prajnesh Gunneswaran suffered a hard-fought opening round defeat 6-7 (5-7), 2-6 against the fifth seed Daniel Altmaier.
Also Read : Simon and Tsonga record first victories of the season at Montpellier
News Source : PTI
January transfer window recap from the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A
(Football news) With the January transfer window done and dusted, it has brought plenty of drama and eyebrow raising transfers. Let us take a look what the various teams did in this unusual window :
In : Dejan Kulusevski, Rodrigo Bentancur
Out: Dele Alli, Tanguy Ndombele, Bryan Gil, Giovani Lo Ceslo, Dilan Markanday
Tottenham’s transfer window has been all over the place as they missed out on a lot of their first choice targets but ultimately ended up with two very young and talented players, who might excel in Conte’s playing style. One thing coming into the window was certain that Spurs will try to offload a lot of players to cut the massive wage bill that they are paying. The most significant exit happened on deadline day as Tottenham fan favorite Dele Alli joined Everton on an initial loan deal with a view to make it permanent.
In : Chris Wood, Bruno Guimarães, Dan Burn, Kieran Trippier, Matt Target
Out : Rosaire Longelo, Joe White, Freddie Woodman, Matt Bondswell, Elliot Anderson
Newcastle United expected a fairly busy January transfer window and that's exactly what they got. Given the Magpies' league position and the completion of their £305m Saudi-led takeover back in October, Newcastle were going to try and add reinforcements and they have done just that. Although there might be some frustration that Newcastle didn't end up signing another attacker after a proposed deal to sign Hugo Ekiteke from Reims collapsed but all in all Howe will be very pleased with the business they've managed to complete this window. The certain signing of Bruno Guimaraes will certainly act as a catalyst in what has been a lackluster season from the magpies
In: Donny Van De Beek, Dele Alli, Vitaliy Mykolenko, Nathan Patterson, Anwar El Ghazi
Out : Lucas Digne, Ellis Simms
Everton had a mixed transfer window as three players were bought when Rafa Benitez was the manager and two more players were bought on loan after Frank Lampard’s consultation. Frank Lampard bought in two quality players in Alli and Van de Beek and they will not only give them options but also provide the much needed balance they need from midfield. This season Everton are having an abysmal campaign battling relegation, so quality players like Allan, Calvert Lewin, Richarlison need to combine well and strike a partnership with these new players.
In: Lucas Digne, Philippe Coutinho, Callum Chambers, Robin Olsen
Out: Axel Tuanzebe, Wesley, Keinan Davis, Anwar EL Ghazi, Matt Targett, Louie Barry, Caleb Chukwuemeka
It's been a solid January transfer window for Aston Villa with four first-team recruits signed to help bolster Steven Gerrard's squad from now until May. The only thing that the Villa supporters may regret is the fact they didn't sign an out-and-out replacement for the injured Nakamba, with Villa walking away from pursuits to bring in Rodrigo Bentancur and Yves Bissouma, the former joining Tottenham for an initial £17.1million. Coutinho has been a massive coup for Steven Gerrard’s side as he will indirectly try to replace Jack Grealish in the team.
In: Luis Diaz
Out: Nathaniel Phillips, Neco Williams
The Anfield club managed to add to that all-star attack this summer through the arrival of Luis Diaz from FC Porto. Liverpool managed to hijack Tottenham's attempts to sign the Colombian attacker who has 14 goals in 18 Portuguese top-flight games this season. There are long-term benefits to this deal, with Roberto Firmino's time at Anfield appearing to come to an end in the next year or two, while Mo Salah's contract situation has not been resolved yet. Luis Diaz can have the same impact that Diego Jota has over the last two years in the club.
In: Ferran Torres, Adama Traore, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, Dani Alaves
Out: Inaki Pena, Yusuf Demir, Philippe Coutinho
Barcelona started off the transfer window in a positive manner when they purchased Ferran Torres from Man City but eventually lost their way in the market especially when players refused to leave and clear the wage bill. The whole window revolved around the Dembele transfer but ultimately the club couldn’t find a solution for him as not many clubs were interested in taking on his massive wage. The Barca board were desperate for a striker after the sudden retirement of Aguero on the final day and they got their man in Aubameyang.
In: Dennis Zakaria, Dusan Vlahovic
Out: Dejan Kulusevski, Rodrigo Bentancur, Aaron Ramsey
Juventus have probably had the best transfer window as they have signed two very promising youngsters who will certainly help their squad as well as their season a lot. Juve needed a striker and in Vlahovic they’ve got one of the best strikers in Europe. Only Robert Lewandowski has scored more goals in the top five leagues than Vlahovic, and with Juve struggling to score goals this season, Max Allegri needs Vlahovic’s goals now more than ever. In Zakaria, Juve have bought a midfielder the club haven’t had since the days of Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba. The Swiss international possesses dynamism, technique and can go box-to-box, will surely benefit the team moving forward.
Liverpool FC close in on Luis Diaz from Porto for £45m
(Football news) Liverpool FC are in pole position to sign Luis Diaz from Porto for a fee believed to be £45m after the Columbia international reiterated his desire to move to Jurgen Klopp’s side amidst interest from Tottenham Hotspur. Diaz was Klopp’s first choice transfer target in the upcoming summer transfer window but Liverpool have been forced to take action to ward off Tottenham's advances and have tabled an offer of £37m + bonuses depending on Diaz’s performances at the club.
It’s been reported that Liverpool have already sent a team to Argentina with the expectation that Diaz can undergo a medical there with the deal expected to be concluded in the next 72 hours. Due to Diaz’s involvement in the South American World Cup qualifiers, he has featured in Colombia’s match against Peru and will now travel to Argentina for the second qualifier on Tuesday. Tottenham have already been in talks with Porto for Luis Diaz and have tabled an offer of £37.6m up front and £8.4m in performance-related add-ons. However, the deal is now expected to collapse as the player has made it clear his preference is to play for Liverpool.
Spurs have endured a frustrating transfer window so far, having already missed out on Adama Traore to FC Barcelona. If they fail to sign Diaz, it’s expected that they will shift their attention to Morocco midfielder Sofyan Amrabat from Fiorentina on loan, with a €16m buy option. The London based club are also looking to offload Dele Alli, Tanguy Ndombele or/and Giovani Lo Celso. Ndombele has been linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain on loan with an option to buy.
Signing Diaz would be a major coup for Liverpool and seriously bolster their title hopes this season. The 25 year old ranks 1st in goals scored and touches in the opposition box in the Portuguese Primeira Liga in the season so far, 2nd in terms of possessions won in the attacking third, 3rd in dribbles completed and 4th in final third passes completed. He is most effective on the left channels and is able to create chances for his teammates. He will suit Jurgen Klopp’s high press style with his tremendous workrate and ability to reclaim possession high on the pitch.
Vitor Pereira looks like the leading candidate for the Everton managerial job
(Football news) After Rafa Benitez’s sacking it looks like Vitor Pereria could be the leading candidate for the Everton managerial job as he looks most likely to take an interim job position initially before being appointed as the full time coach. Roberto Martínez was their first choice but the Belgian Football Association rejected a proposal for the Spaniard. Along with him Wayne Rooney and the former Monaco coach Niko Kovac are also some candidates for the job, and Frank Lampard has already been interviewed for the vacancy but according to the rumor mill it looks like Farhad Moshiri will look to appoint the Portuguese.
The club's owner Farhad Moshiri is searching for a 'progressive' and 'forward-thinking' manager who can not only help Everton out of their relegation battle but also lead them with a proper and a distinct playing style for the years to come. This is going be his third interview for the Everton job as it may prove to be third time lucky for Pereira who was interviewed by Everton prior to Robert Martinez's appointment in 2013 and again before Carlo Ancelotti arrived in 2019. He was that committed to staying with Shanghai SIPG as he was very close to joining them when Marco Silva had got the sack. He led Shanghai SIPG to the 2018 Chinese Super League title as Pereira has previously also won the Portuguese league with Porto twice and secured the Greek title with Olympiakos. His most recent job was a second stint at Fenerbahce, which ended in the sack last December after less than six months as the club were trailing the league leaders Trabzonspor by 14 points.
In December 2017 Pereira joined 1860 Munich to try to avoid relegation from Germany’s second tier but the club went down in a play-off. Everton are effectively in the same boat as they are in a relegation battle after losing at home to Aston Villa under Duncan Ferguson’s caretaker management. Four points separate them from third-bottom Newcastle who subsequently have gotten stronger with all the winter acquisitions they made, although Everton have a game in hand it still looks like a tough job especially the form that they are currently in. Pereira was also a contender for Arsenal when they sacked Unai Emery and also on Chelsea's shortlist before they opted for club legend Frank Lampard. At that time, the Shanghai SIPG had a £25million release clause on his contract and was deemed too expensive for even Roman Abramovich but with Pereira currently out of work, there shouldn’t be any such issues for Everton to appoint him as their new manager.
Atletico Madrid have signed Daniel Wass and Reinildo Mandava
(Football news) Atletico Madrid this season have been far from their flowing best as they have struggled to find consistency with a talented squad. The club have signed Daniel Wass and Reinildo Mandava in the January transfer window. The Los Rojiblancos lost Kieran Trippier to Newcastle United at the beginning of the month and are keen to bring in a suitable replacement as Wass has been the man to replace him. Reinildo, on the other hand, is viewed as a market opportunity as Atletico need some competition in the left back position. Wass’ contract with Valencia ends at the end of the season and Reinildo is in the same situation with Lille. Both players will join the squad in the upcoming days as a minimal fee is paid so that they can join the team immediately.
Atlético conceded twice more at the weekend despite ultimately beating Valencia at the Wanda Metropolitano. Atleti have let in more goals this season (26) than all of last season (25), when they were league champions. They have not allowed more than 31 goals in any of Simeone’s nine full seasons in charge as their whole game was based on defensive stability but now they leaking plenty of goals. Reinildo’s arrival is particularly important given his defensive strength and he will instantly provide competition for attack-minded Renan Lodi, the only other natural left-back in Atlético’s squad. Šime Vrsaljko has been an adequate replacement since Kieran Trippier’s transfer to Newcastle as now Wass will be considered as the first-choice right-back upon his arrival even though he is a midfielder. With Wass’ arrival it will allow Simeone to ease his team back into a 4-4-2 formation following the struggles with evolving the 3-5-2 system that succeeded in 2020/21.
Reinildo Mandava (Beira, Mozambique, 28 years old), from Lille chosen as the best left-back in the French league after becoming champion last season, Reinildo has been a late-breaking player. At just 20 years old, he was recruited from Mozambican Maputo by Benfica for there although he never made his debut in the Lisbon first team. After several loans to Second Division clubs, he finally made his debut in the Portuguese league with Os Belenenses in the 2018-19 season. With only 19 games in the elite, Lille achieved his transfer in the winter market and ended up paying a transfer of three million euros at the end of that loan. At Lille he won the competition that was generated with Bradaric, more offensive profile, and noted as one of the great promises of Croatian football. In his 81 games with the northern team, Reinildo has not registered a single goal assist and has scored one.
Under the direction of Cristophe Galtier, Reinildo ended up exploding as a winger difficult to beat in speed, with tactical rigor to defend and to choose the moments in which to join the attack. “He is a player who has many legs, a very good physique and is good in the air. He met my expectations with his specificities, he gives security and a good balance on a defensive level”, defined the coach with whom he conquered Ligue 1. “He is a machine on his wing, the best left-back in French football and very difficult to beat for rivals. In addition, he is supportive in covering the central defenders when they take us out of position ”, the veteran Portuguese central defender José Fonte, a teammate at Lille said.
Wass spent most of his childhood with Copenhagen suburb club BK Avarta, but in 2006, he was scouted by Brondby and promptly switched clubs. He joined the first team after a year of playing for the club’s youth teams. Wass made his Danish international debut in 2011 against England. Wass signed a four-year contract with Celta Vigo on June 22, 2015. Wass scored one goal and assisted on another in a 2–2 tie with Real Madrid. Wass was named to Denmark’s preliminary 35-man squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia in May 2018 but he did not make the final 23. Wass, the best part about the Dane is that he can play both as a midfielder and an attacking full-back, he quickly emerged as the man they would turn to. Diego Simeone typically uses a back three with wing-backs, which Wass will fit into perfectly.
Liverpool defeat Arsenal to set up Carabao Cup finals clash against Chelsea
(Football news) The second leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium saw Jurgen Klopp’s team secure a 2-0 victory to book a place at Wembley where they will face Chelsea on Sunday, February 27th in the finals. Mikel Arteta selected Takehiro Tomisayu and Emile Smith Rowe in the starting XI while Thomas Partey was on the bench after his return from the African Cup of Nations. Liverpool started with goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher and Kaiden Gordan with the rest of the team composed of first team regulars.
The Gunners started the match on the bright side as Alexandre Lacazette hit the crossbar from an early free-kick but Liverpool retaliated with Joel Matip by poking home from Fabinho’s header but was ruled offside. The opportunity unsettled the Gunners and eventually led to Diogo Jota taking advantage of Trent Alexander-Arnold’s pass, cutting inside Takehiro Tomiyasu and Ben White and scuffed a finish past Aaron Ramsdale in the 19th minute.
Lacazette had Arsenal’s best chance after the break but the Frenchman failed to hit the target after being clean through on goal. Liverpool doubled their advantage 13 minutes from time through Diogo Jota again from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s assist as the 25 year old Portuguese forward’s precise lofted finish over Ramsdale went into the back of the net. The goal was initially ruled out for off-side but VAR overturned the decision, much to Liverpool fans’ delight.
Diogo Jota has proved to be a fitting addition to the Liverpool squad after joining from Wolverhampton Wanderers in a £45m deal before the start of last season. With the first leg being a goalless draw against a 10 man Arsenal and the absence of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane due to the African Cup of Nations, Jota has compensated for their absences by performing when called upon. He has scored 27 goals in 57 games for Liverpool, 14 in all competitions this season.
Speaking after the match, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said "We're over the moon. It's a difficult game, a difficult time generally, we just have to get through it. We try everything we can, and what the boys did tonight against a really strong Arsenal side was really exceptional.
"We scored two wonderful goals, Jota was on fire, but the passes too. I don't think a lot of people in the stadium saw Diogo in that position for the second goal, but Trent did, which was helpful and he finished it off - absolutely outstanding. We were completely convinced when he arrived he'd help us massively. There's so many things before you sign a player, nowadays you can watch 100 games, we were really confident but since he's been here he's made another step. He's turned into a world-class striker, and that's really helpful for us."
Arsenal's Mikel Arteta said "We're really disappointed not to be in the final - but we played against a top side. We had big moments in the first half, and the second half. When you have those, you have to score.
"The first time they went through our press with a bit of luck they scored. With one pass, they are in front of goal, and when they are there they put the game to bed. We had good moments, we had good situations - but we have to score in those situations. We have to score goals to go through, and we're out."
Only top three finish acceptable for Man Utd says Cristiano Ronaldo
(Football news) The return of Manchester United has not just brought back a feeling of nostalgia amongst the fans but has elevated the standards of the club where a qualification for the Champions League spot isn’t enough when a five time Ballon d’Or winner is in the squad. The 36 year old Portuguese has had an illustrious career to say the least but more importantly, Ronaldo has a winning mentality with a wealth of experience, two important traits that Manchester United desperately need as they struggle to get back to the summit of English football.
For Ronaldo, the Manchester United he left in 2009 is very different from the club he rejoined in 2021. Before his departure to Real Madrid, the Red Devils had won three consecutive Premier League titles, reached two consecutive Champions League finals (winning one of them) and Ronaldo won a plethora of individual accolades amongst which was his very first Ballon d’Or trophy. His homecoming in the summer of 2021 has been less than the fairytale everyone hoped for as the Portuguese superstar has been left frustrated more often than not by the team’s performances which have resulted in the club he loves finding itself seventh in the Premier League table, a position Ronaldo fails to connect to the Manchester United he has known during his first stint at the club.
While Ralf Rangnick has steadied the ship, winning four out of the seven matches in charge, the German hasn’t had an instant impact as the team continues to struggle under the weight of their expectations and adapt to the new tactics and training methods. The gap between Manchester United and their neighbours Manchester City is 22 points after just 19 games and Ronaldo believes that it is “impossible” to close the gap on their top four rivals without the correct mentality.
In a recent interview with Sky Sports, Cristiano Ronaldo said “I don't accept that our mentality is less than being in the top three in the Premier League. I think to build up good things, sometimes you have to destroy a few things. So why not - new year, new life and I hope that Manchester (United) can be the level that the fans want. They deserve that. We are capable of changing things now. I know the way but I'm not going to mention it here because I don't think it's ethical on my part to say that.
"What I can say is we can do better - all of us. Manchester (United) belongs to important things, so we have to change that. I don't want to be here to be in sixth place, or seventh place, or fifth place. I'm here to try to win, to compete. "I think we compete but we are not yet at our best level. But we have a long way to improve and I believe if we change our mind, we can achieve big things.” Speaking of Rangnick, Ronaldo said “Since he arrived five weeks ago he changed many things, But he needs time to put his ideas across to the players. It takes time but I believe that he is going to do a good job. We know we aren't playing the best football but we have many games to improve. Since he arrived I think in some ways we are better, but he needs time. It's not that easy to change the mentality of players and the way they play, the culture, the system like that. I believe that he is going to do a good job."
Ronaldo also spoke about the departures of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Michael Carrick. When asked how he found the last few months, the 36 year old said “Not easy to be honest. We changed Ole, then [Michael] Carrick [caretaker manager], then this new coach. It's difficult when you change so much, it's always tough. It's always sad and tough. Ole used to play with me before and now he was the coach. A fantastic person. When he left everybody was sad, but it's part of football.
"When things don't go the way the club wants, the club has to change. I was disappointed but we have to understand the club. It was difficult but life continues. But I still believe that we are capable of having a good season. We know it's going to take time to make the ideas of the new coach on the pitch. But I'm looking forward to it. We have to work hard, we have to be together as players. We know we are not in the best moment, but I believe with working hard we can achieve important things, even this year."
Yuki Bhambri returns to big stage in style, moves to 2nd round of Aussie Open Qualifiers
Melbourne, Jan 11 (Tennis News) Comeback-man Yuki Bhambri impressed with his match sharpness and attacking net play as the Indian progressed to the second round of Australian Open qualifiers with a comfortable straight set win over Joao Domingues, here on Tuesday.
Bhambri, who returned to the Grand Slam stage after 2018 US Open due to knee injury, beat his 248th ranked Portuguese rival 6-4 6-2 in just 68 minutes.
The 29-year-old Indian's serve looked decent and he played smartly as he charged the net to keep the points short.
He struggled to rein in his unforced errors in the beginning but earned his first breakpoint in the third game with a forehand winner after a long rally. Domigues served a double fault to hand the Indian first break of the match.
Bhambri served the next game at love with an ace to open up a 3-1 lead as Domingues also tried to charge to the net but Bhambri's powerful strokes pushed him back.
Bhambri fought off two break points on his serve in the sixth game. At deuce he pulled off a perfectly placed backhand slice and then dispatched up a half-volley for a 4-2 lead.
After getting one more break on account of his rival's unforced errors, Bhambri came out serving for the set but dropped the serve when his miscued overhead smash went out.
He wasn't in the position to play that shot but went for it, anticipating that lob would land in, behind him near the alley.
The Indian claimed the set when he served again.
In the second set too, it was Bhambri who got the first break as he led 4-2. He then served out the match without any fuss.
Ramkumar Ramanathan and Ankita Raina will also play their first rounds later in the day.
Also Read : Safiullin, Evans among the best players from the 2022 ATP Cup
News Source : PTI
SC East Bengal rope in young Brazilian striker Marcelo on loan
Margao, Jan 10 (Football News) SC East Bengal has secured the services of young Brazilian striker Marcelo Ribeiro dos Santos on loan from Gil Vicente FC till the end of the season subject to clearances, the club announced on Monday.
Marcelo joins the red and gold brigade from PrimeiraLiga in Portugal where he was plying his trade for Gil Vicente FC.
Marcelo made his debut for Gil Vicente FC last year in August. Before he joined Portuguese outfit Gil Vicente FC, the 24-year old played for Spanish clubs Burgos CF and Sanse.
"I am pleased to join SC East Bengal. It is one of the biggest clubs in India and I am really looking forward to joining the team and help them in the league," he said after putting pen to paper for the club.
SC East Bengal held Mumbai City FC to a 0-0 draw in their last outing in ISL.
The Kolkata side announced Spaniard Mario Rivera as their head coach for the remainder of the Indian Super League season at the start of the new year.
The club is at the bottom of the table with six points in 10 games and is scheduled to next face Jamshedpur FC on Tuesday.
Also Read : Real Madrid extend La Liga lead while Barcelona and Atletico Madrid drop points
News Source : PTI
Dakar Rally: Lone Indian in fray Noah finishes 29th, Hero's Rodrigues wins stage 3
Al Qaisumah (Saudi Arabia), Jan 4 (MotorSports) Lone Indian rider in fray, Harith Noah of Sherco TVS Rally Factory team, finished a creditable 29th in stage 3 of the 44th Dakar Rally, which saw Joaquim Rodrigues of Hero MotoSports Team win his maiden stage of the gruelling off-road race.
The steady ride helped the only Indian rider in this year's Dakar to improve his overall ranking to 31st position in RallyGP class, the premier category in the Moto section with an overall timing of 12:29.46s.
Noah successfully completed stage 3 in 2 hours, 49 minutes and 11 seconds.
Portuguese rider Rodriques of Hero MotoSports Team Rally clinched his maiden Dakar stage, clocking 2 hours, 34 minutes and 41 seconds ahead of Australian Toby Price of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, who clocked 2:23.44s and USA's Mason Klein (2:35.55s) of Bas Dakar KTM Racing Team.
Monster Energy Honda Team's Joan Barreda had won the second stage, where Hero MotoSports Team Rally’s riders finished in the top 10 here.
Barreda now holds a tally of 28 Dakar Rally stage wins. His teammate Pablo Quintanilla finished 23rd.
Hero MotoSports' Joaquim Rodrigues and Aaron Mare delivered an impressive run in the long stage 2 with the former finishing in sixth place and Mare ending 10th in the Rally GP class.
Starting on a loop around Al Qaysumah, Noah initially took the 214-km link section of 255-km special but lost a few minutes after the first way point.
However, astride a Sherco 450 SEF rally, he made up many places with steady navigation in the next special sections, and consolidated his position before returning along a 166-km link route for a respectable 29th spot finish.
After three stages, Great Britain's Sam Sunderland of Gasgas Factory Racing is holding the overall lead clocking 11:13.4s, while Frechmen Adrien van Beveren of Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team is second and Austrian Matthias Walkner of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing is third.
Nine more stages will be run with a rest day on January 8.
Noah, a 28-year-old Sports Science graduate from Kerala who made his debut in 2020, is on his third Dakar campaign.
He ended an overall 20th last January.
Also Read : Four things fans should be excited about for the 2022 Formula 1 season
News Source : PTI
Disjointed Manchester United lose to Wolves in another lackluster performance
(Football news) It’s quite telling just how far Manchester United have fallen that the last time Wolves defeated the Red Devils at Old Trafford was back in 1980. Fast forward to 42 years later and Wolves defeated a disjointed Man United 1-0 at Old Trafford and it’s fair to say they were unlucky not to have more goals. The best player for Manchester United, especially in the last few weeks has been David De Gea and the Spaniard was forced to be on top of his game, making two early saves as Wolves dominated the match from get-go. He first turned Podence’s effort around the post before stretching to send Neves’ volley over the crossbar.
Podence had another opportunity which was comfortably saved by De Gea while Manchester United’s best opportunity of the first half came when Mason Greenwood and Aaron Wan Bissaka combined on the right but the English right-back’s cross went over Ronaldo’s head. The 36 year old Portuguese was given the captain’s armband in Harry Maguire’s absence for the first time since he captained the side against Bolton Wanderers in 2008. Ronaldo almost gifted Wolves the opening goal when his poor defensive header found Marcal but Raul Jimenez’s shot went wide. The goal would not have stood even if it found the back of the net as Jimenez was offside.
Substitute Bruno Fernandes had the best chance for his side in the 67th minute when Nemanja Matic’s cross from deep in the left found the Portuguese attacking midfielder but his shot hit the underside of the crossbar before going wide. Manchester United did find the back of the net when Bruno Fernandes’ freekick from the right wing was headed home by Ronaldo but the goal was correctly ruled out for offside. Wolves also hit the woodwork shortly after when Matic received a yellow card for fouling Traore just outside the box. Saiss’s freekick hit the top of the crossbar before going wide but De Gea looked in control of the situation irrespective.
The visitors finally got the breakthrough in the 82nd minute when Traore’s cross was headed away by Phil Jones but was received by Joao Moutinho who took a touch before guiding the ball past De Gea and into the back of the net. Manchester United did have an opportunity to equalize in the dying moments of the game after receiving a freekick in a dangerous position but Bruno Fernandes’ effort was saved by Jose Sa as Bruno Lage’s side got a clean sheet.
Serie A hits and misses for the 2021/22 mid season
(Football news) With the defending Champions Inter leading the Scudetto race after an unbelievable two months after the international break, AC Milan and Napoli will feel undone as they went 11 matches unbeaten without much to show for. Inter have currently got a four point lead over their city rival but with the half of the season remaining anything could happen. Let us take a look at the best manager, best player and best team till now.
Many Inter fans questioned the appointment of Simone Inzaghi and the recruitment policy of the club but in hindsight both the decisions have paid off wonderfully for the defending Champions. So far this season, Inter have shown no signs of struggle within the final third and are currently the best offensive team in the league with 49 goals in 19 games. Inter have also managed to maintain structure and organization under the 3-5-2 formation as the Nerazzurri have only conceded 15 goals in 19 games. In addition to that they have qualified for the round of 16 for the first time since 2010 as they are performing even better than last season. Edin Dezko who came into the club on a free transfer has filled the Romelu Lukaku void with ease as he along with Lautaro Martinez are forming a deadly duo.
Since the start of the season, many football fans have questioned whether or not Dusan Vlahovic was capable of maintaining the bar he has set for himself after last season. As it stands, Vlahovic has proven each and every one of his doubters wrong. The young Serbian striker has managed to obtain 16 goals and 2 assists in 19 games, making himself the leading goal scorer so far within the Serie A. In addition to that the talisman has managed to score 34 Serie A goals within a calendar year, surpassing the 33-goal record set by the Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. There is no doubt that Vlahovic is on course to becoming a world-class striker as the Serbian has managed to become the focal point of Fiorentina’s attack through his excellent composure in front of goal and clinical finishing and arguably been the best individual player in the Serie A till now.
Simone Inzaghi has proven his doubters this season by taking over his predecessor Antonio Conte with ease as he sees his high flying Inter with a four point lead over their city rivals AC Milan. Since his recent arrival, the Italian tactician has drifted away from Conte’s calculated defensive style and has implemented a philosophy that involves free attacking football. As a result of his adjustments, Inzaghi has managed to get his Inter squad playing an exciting, fast-paced possessive style of football and has allowed his players to flourish on the pitch. With Inter currently possessing two more points compared to Conte’s Inter side at the same time last season, Inzaghi is on track to being Inter’s best appointment since the departure of José Mourinho
Misses of the season
Juventus have been the most disappointing team this season, Allegri’s side have been far too inconstient for their liking. This season they have lost five and drawn four matches in the 19 matches that they have played, which subsequently means that they are four points adrift from high flying Atalanta in fourth place. For Juve fans their expectation was of course going to challenge for the Scudetto this season after Pirlo couldn’t guide them to their 8th successive Serie A title. This season another title challenge looks very unlikely and their best bet this season could be the Champions League and coming fourth in the league. With the sudden departure of Cristiano Ronaldo they are missing an out and out goal scorer as they have scored only 27 goals this season which has mostly led to their downfall this season.
Premier League’s top five teams secure vital wins in the busy festive period
(Football news) Reigning Premier League champions Manchester City cemented their place at the top of the table after a 1-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers. A goal by Raheem Sterling, his 100th in the Premier League was enough for Pep Guardiola’s team to secure all three points in the fixture. Despite very little happening in the first half, the game livened up when Raul Jimenez saw a red card after two yellow cards in a space of 31 seconds, the first one was for a foul at the halfway mark and the second for attempting to block the subsequent freekick.
City got their only goal in the 66th minute after a penalty was awarded because Bernardo Silva’s cross hit Joao Moutinho's armpit. Both Jon Moss and the VAR decided that the ball hit enough of his arm to warrant a spot kick which was duly converted by Raheem Sterling who became the 32nd player and the eighth youngest at the age of 27 to score his 100th Premier League goal. With this result, Pep Guardiola’s team won their seventh consecutive game in the league while Wolves have failed to win or score in their last four matches.
Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal got back to winning ways after a 3-0 result at the Emirates Stadium against Southampton. The absence of Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang due to a discipline breach did not deter the hosts who secured a comfortable three points. The Gunners opened the scoring in the 21st minute thanks to Alexandre Lacazette who led the side after Aubameyang’s absence. The hosts doubled their advantage six minutes later with Martin Odegaard scoring his third goal in three matches while Gabriel Magalhaes found the back of the net just after the hour mark. With this result, Arsenal remain within touching distance of the top four, just one point behind Manchester United and two points behind fourth place West Ham.
A late winner by Jorginho sealed a dramatic victory for Chelsea who secured a 3-2 win over a spirited Leeds side at Stamford Bridge. The Blues have struggled defensively of late, having conceded six goals in their last two matches and the trend continued yet again as Raphinha scored from the penalty spot in the 28th minute to give the visitors a lead after Daniel James was fouled by Marcos Alonso. The Blues managed to get an equalizer through Mason Mount just before half-time when the 22 year old found the back of the net from Alonso’s cross. Almost at the hour mark, Jorginho put his side ahead after Raphinha’s challenge on Antonio Rudiger was given a foul by the VAR.
However, just seven minutes from time Leeds levelled the score 2-2 when Joe Gelhardt scored, just 81 seconds after coming off the bench to pile misery on Thomas Tuchel’s side. The European champions had the last laugh before the final whistle as Rudiger was fouled again inside the penalty area deep into injury time by Mateusz Klich and Jorginho once again scored from the spot to ensure Chelsea remain in the title race. With this result, Leeds United are in 15th place on the league table, level on points with Southampton but ahead on goal difference while Chelsea are third, one point behind Liverpool and two behind Manchester City.
Steven Gerrard returned to Anfield as his Aston Villa side took on Liverpool in the Premier League. A goal by Mohamed Salah from the spot was all it took for Jurgen Klopp’s team to secure all three points and remain in the title race and maintain pressure on City. Gerrard set up his Aston Villa side in a manner which would make them difficult to break down and largely succeeded for over an hour with the home side largely being restricted to half chances. However, as it has already happened so many times this season, it was Egyptian maestro Mohamed Salah who broke the deadlock after he was fouled in the box and converted from the spot in the 67th minute. Jurgen Klopp’s team could have scored a few more with Jota and Salah squandering a few opportunities but it was all smiles by the home supporters as Liverpool secured three points at the final whistle.
Ralf Rangnick named an unchanged line up from the team that started against Crystal Palace last week as Manchester United visited Carrow Road to face 20th place Norwich City. For many visiting supporters, the expectation was to see a rejuvenated Man Utd side take on a weak opposition and show their superiority with Rangnick’s coaching but it was far from a scintillating performance with the only opportunity coming from the first half when Alex Telles’ freekick hit the crossbar. It was the home side who dominated the second half as Przemyslaw Placheta, Teemu Pukki and Josh Sargent came close to scoring but De Gea pulled some truly magnificent saves throughout the course of the match to get his 200th clean sheet.
Ronaldo, who had already injured Norwich City’s captain Grant Hanley inflicted further damage on the home side by being awarded a penalty after being brought down by Max Aarons. The Portuguese superstar duly converted from the spot in the 75th minute to ensure Rangnick won his second successive Premier League game and became only the second manager to register two clean sheets in his first two games since Ernest Mangnall in 1903. With this result, the Red Devils are fifth in the Premier League, one point behind West Ham and one point ahead of Arsenal while Norwich City remain at the bottom of the Premier League.
Is Toni Kroos Real Madrid's signing of the century?
(Football news) In a recent interview, Toni Kroos' agent said that Real Madrid president Florentino Perez believed that the German was Real Madrid's signing of the century. Let's roll it back a little to 2014 when Kroos was at Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich.
Toni Kroos who graduated from Bayern's academy had established himself in the first team after an incredibly successful loan spell at Bayer Leverkusen. Bayern had offered Toni Kroos a long term contract. The player was not happy with the financial terms of the renewal but the club's stance was very firm. Pep Guardiola tried his level best to make Kroos stay at the club but to no avail. Kroos decided to leave Bayern and his agent started to hold talks with clubs as several were interested. The German midfielder liked the offer from Manchester United and decided to sign for them. The deal was practically agreed and the only thing missing was Kroos' signature. David Moyes played a very important role in convincing Kroos to come to Manchester.
The deal collapsed in April 2014 when Moyes was sacked. Kroos went on to play for his national team at the 2014 World Cup where he was arguably the best player in the entire tournament as Germany lifted the trophy. Real Madrid secured the signature of Toni Kroos for a transfer fee of just €25m and the rest is history. The German cost Real Madrid 1/3rd of what they bought James Rodriguez for which goes on to show what a steal he was.
Toni Kroos has been at the center of Real Madrid's success over the last 7 years which includes a hat trick of Champions leagues. Now at the age of 31, Kroos has already hung up his international boots to concentrate on Real Madrid. His current Real Madrid deal ends in June 2022. At the time of renewal, Kroos had said that this will be his last long term contract at any club as he doesn't desire to play for much longer after the contract ends.
Current reports suggest that Real Madrid are currently planning to offer him a contract till 2023. Kroos has always said that he would like to retire at Real Madrid and if reports are to be believed he will extend his stay as a player till 2023 and will retire at the age of 35 and continue working with the club in another role.
Real Madrid have had some stellar signings over the years. The signing of Alfredo Di Stefano after Barcelona rejected his services is one of the first ones. Then came the Galatico era where signing Luis Figo directly from Barcelona was a statement. Signings of Ronaldo Nazario, Zinedine Zidane and David Beckham all had a big impact for the club but came at a hefty price.
Real Madrid paid a then record €94 million for Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese is the obvious choice for signing of the century but in terms of minimum input and maximum output it is extremely difficult to look past Toni Kroos. There are signings of Sergio Ramos, Marcelo and Raphael Varane who had an immense impact at Real Madrid and also didn't cost Madrid a lot of money but the three were particularly young when they joined Los Blancos and there is always a certain risk attached to signing youngsters.
Toni Kroos was an established player at one of the biggest clubs in europe. He had just won the World Cup after a fantastic individual tournament. To secure his signing for just €25m is somewhat close to daylight robbery which Bayern would regret to this day.
West Ham defeat Chelsea while Liverpool, City and Manchester United secure three points in the Premier League
(Football news) A thrilling comeback by West Ham shocked Chelsea who lost 3-2 against the hosts at the London Stadium on Saturday. The Blues were heading into the weekend as league leaders and were hoping to increase that lead to four points ahead of second place Manchester City but ended up facing a resilient West Ham side. Thomas Tuchel’s side gained the lead in the 28th minute when Thiago Silva’s header found the back of the net. The lead was nullified 12 minutes later when Manuel Lanzini scored from the spot kick after Jorginho’s poor back pass and some effective pressing by Jarrod Bowen saw Edouard Mendy commit a foul inside the box.
Chelsea’s lead was restored in the 44th minute after a stunning volley by Mason Mount but West Ham levelled the scoring again when Bowen found the back of the net in the 56th minute. It was only the third time in Thomas Tuchel’s 53 games in-charge as Chelsea manager that the Blues conceded more than one goal. Things got bad to worse for the Blues in the 87th minute when Arthur Masuaku’s cross completely outfoxed Mendy and found the back of the net as West Ham cemented their fourth position and won their first match in four games. With this result, Manchester City went on top of the Premier League with 35 points followed by Liverpool on 34 while Chelsea found themselves in the third spot, two points behind the reigning champions.
Premier League top scorers Liverpool faced Wolves at the Molineux Stadium knowing that a win would propel the Reds above Chelsea in the Premier League table. However, it was easier said than done as Jurgen Klopp’s team found it difficult to break a resilient Wolves side, including a goal-line clearance by Diogo Jota from Conor Coady. Just when it looked like the match would end as a draw, Mohamed Salah set up Divock Origi who scored from close range in the 94th minute in what was a massive three points for Liverpool who are now second in the Premier League table.
Premier League champions Manchester City went on top of the league table after a 3-1 win over Watford at Vicarage Road. Raheem Sterling opened the scoring just four minutes into the match with a header as the Englishman scored against the Hornets for the sixth time in a row and Man City’s 14th consecutive time. Jack Grealish combined well with Phil Foden but missed a couple of good chances, however, Bernardo Silva doubled City’s lead in the 31st minute. The Portuguese midfielder scored his second of the evening in the 63rd minute to score his fifth goal in five games while the likes of Foden and Grealish could have extended the lead if they didn’t hit the woodwork.
Watford substitute Cucho Hernandez got a consolation goal in the 74th minute but it was too little too late as the reigning champions made it five wins out of five matches. With this result, Watford remain 17th in the league table, three points above Burnley but Claudio Ranieri can take solace in the fact that his side will have easier fixtures ahead to remain above the relegation zone. Pep Guardiola will look to maintain the momentum ahead of the busy festive period as Manchester City are currently on top of the league table, one point ahead of Liverpool and two ahead of Chelsea.
Manchester United welcomed Crystal Palace at Old Trafford in Ralf Rangnick’s first match in-charge as interim manager. The German went for an unchanged lineup that defeated Arsenal 3-2 midweek but there was a noticeable difference in performance as the Red Devils looked more in control for the majority of the match due to a high press. For Crystal Palace, Patrick Viera made two changes from the defeat against Leeds, Christian Benteke and Nathaniel Clyne replaced Odsonne Edouard and the suspended Joel Ward. The hosts had the lion's share of possession and despite creating chances, failed to find a breakthrough.
It was evident by the hour mark that Manchester United were running out of ideas and began to look tired as Crystal Palace managed to shift the momentum in their favor. However, substitute Mason Greenwood rolled the ball into Fred’s path in the 77th minute and the Brazilian managed to find the back of the net with his weak foot to ensure Rangnick’s debut ended on a happy note. With this result, Manchester United kept their first clean sheet since April against Granada (2-0) and the team went ahead of Arsenal in the Premier League table although the Gunners are yet to face Everton.
Eight football clubs including Portuguese champions Sporting Lisbon sanctioned by UEFA
(Football news) Eight clubs have been sanctioned by UEFA for Financial Fair Play (FFP) breaches with Portuguese champions Sporting Lisbon fined 250,000 euros (£213,694) while rivals Porto have been fined 300,000 euros (£256,462). The other six clubs sanctioned are Spain’s Real Betis, Astana of Kazakhstan, Romania’s CFR Cluj, CSKA Sofia of Bulgaria, Portugal’s Santa Clara and Gibraltar’s Mons Calpe.
The clubs have until 31st January 2022 to pay the overdue amounts and would face a ban from UEFA competitions if they fail to do so. UEFA have said that they were sanctioned due to their “non-compliance with the ‘no overdue payables’ requirement”. A statement released by the governing body said “A conditional exclusion from participating in the next Uefa club competition for which they would otherwise qualify in the next three seasons... unless they can prove by 31 January 2022 that they have paid the outstanding overdue amounts”.
Sporting Lisbon have already qualified for the Champions League knockout stage while Porto need to beat Atletico Madrid in the final group stage match next week to be able to do so. Meanwhile, Greek side AEK Athens have agreed to pay £1.3m after being found guilty of club licensing and FFP requirements and will have 10% of their UEFA prize money withheld for the next competition they qualify for and that amount could further increase if additional discrepancies are found.
Amongst the other six clubs, La Liga side Real Betis have been hit with a €250,000 fine while CSKA Sofia and CD Santa Clara will have to pay €75,000 and Mons Calpe SC have a €15,000 fine. FC Astana and CFR 1907 Cluj will be fined €150,000 and €200,000 but have not been threatened with a ban yet.
Michael Carrick leaves behind a lasting legacy and signals the end of an era at Manchester United
(Football news) It was in the summer of 2006 when a young English midfielder by the name of Michael Carrick was officially unveiled as a Manchester United player from Tottenham Hotspur. He inherited the number 16 jersey famously worn by Roy Keane but as personalities, the two couldn’t have been more different from each other. While Keane was outspoken, temperamental and a natural leader, Carrick had a calm and quiet demeanour, going about his business with little fuss, much like his midfield partner Paul Scholes.
What followed was one of the most successful periods in Manchester United history as the club went on to win three consecutive Premier League titles, reaching two Champions League finals (winning one in 2008) and a FIFA Club World Cup in the next three years. By the end of his 12 year long playing career, he had become one of the most decorated English footballers of all time, having won every single domestic honour in the English game. It says a lot about his playing style and personality that Carrick was woefully under-appreciated during his playing career at Manchester United. While the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie, Ryan Giggs got the admiration and plaudits, Carrick continued to do his job and remained an integral cog in the club’s system.
In January 2018, Carrick took over the role in the club’s first team coaching staff under Jose Mourinho’s management after his retirement as a professional footballer. He outlasted the Portuguese manager and worked under Ole Gunnar Solskjær until the Norwegian left the club on 21st November 2021 after which he took over the role of caretaker manager. In his first match in charge, he sealed Manchester United’s place in the Champions League round of 16 thanks to goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho. In his second match, he managed a 1-1 draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and defeated Arsenal 3-2 in his third and final match as caretaker manager at Manchester United.
In an interview after the match, Carrick said “My time at this great club will always rank as the best years of my career. When I first signed over 15 years ago, I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined winning so many trophies and I will certainly never forget the fantastic memories both as a player and as a member of the coaching team. After a lot of thought and deliberation, I have decided that now is the right time for me to leave. It wasn't easy telling the players, in some ways you feel like you're leaving them in the lurch but sometimes you have to do what's right. I've loved working with them - they are a terrific group of players.
It's not been an easy decision to make but I feel it's the right one, it's 100% my decision. Over the last week I was conscious I respected the club and the manager coming in. I thought it was the right thing to do for the club and for Ralf. I'm quite happy with that.The loyalty to Ole is a little bit of a factor but there were a lot of things that came into my decision. I am, and will always be, a Manchester United fan and will come to as many matches as possible. I would like to wish Ralf, the staff, the players and the fans all the best for the future and I look forward to being in the stands and supporting the boys as a fan.”
John Murtough, Football Director, said: “Michael leaves with the sincerest thanks and best wishes of everyone at Manchester United after 15 years of exceptional service to the club as a player and as a coach. While we are sad to see him go, we respect and understand Michael’s decision. He will always be known as one of the finest midfielders in the history of Manchester United, and, more recently, as an excellent coach who has worked tirelessly under two managers to help develop the strong squad which Ralf will now take charge of. We are grateful for the steady leadership Michael has shown through this period of managerial transition, and, while he is now stepping away from day-to-day involvement, he will always be welcome back as a legend of the club.”
Michael Carrick will leave the club after playing 464 games between 2006 to 2018 and winning five Premier League titles, the FA Cup, two League Cups, the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Europa League and the FIFA Club World Cup.
Karim Benzema overtakes Thierry Henry to become the Frenchman with most club goals
(Football news) Real Madrid on Sunday came from a goal down against Sevilla to win the match and go 4 points clear on the top of the table. After conceding early, Karim Benzema scored the equaliser before Vinicius Jr scored a late goal to secure 3 points. Benzema's equaliser was the goal that grabbed the headlines because of its historical context in the record books.
The goal was Benzema's 361st in club football which made him the highest scoring French player in club football history, surpassing Thierry Henry who had 360. Out of the 361 goals, Benzema scored 295 for Real Madrid and 66 for Olympique Lyon. Thierry Henry scored 228 for Arsenal, 28 for Monaco, 53 for New York Red Bulls, 49 for FC Barcelona and 3 for Juventus. Benzema also has 78 of his goals in the coveted UCL compared to Henry's 50.
Karim Benzema has been Real Madrid's first choice striker for over a decade now, which is not an easy feat at a club of this stature. Benzema spent the majority of his Madrid career playing 2nd fiddle to talisman Cristiano Ronaldo. Since the Portuguese striker's departure, Benzema has taken over the responsibility and lifted his game to another level. This season alone Benzema has scored 16 and assisted 8.
Henry has a legendary status which Benzema doesn't have as of yet but the numbers are heavily in Benzema's favour. The one thing missing from Benzema's cabinet is a World Cup. A couple of years ago it looked like Benzema would never play international football but now things are different. If Benzema wins the World Cup in Qatar then he will arguably be in the same bracket as Henry.
He also finished 4th in the 2021 Ballon d'Or rankings which is his highest finish. Henry is famous for being one of the legendary players who didn't win the Ballon d'Or. Both Real Madrid and Benzema are on the right course to win something significant this season. If Benzema continues his magnificent form then he may still be able to win the prestigious award.
Premier League: Chelsea held to a frustrating draw against Man Utd while Liverpool, Arsenal and City secure three points
(Football news) League leaders Chelsea faced Michael Carrick’s Manchester United at Stamford Bridge, hoping to secure all three points and maintain their lead at the top of the table. With Ronaldo benched, Man United adopted an extremely conservative approach to the fixture with a greater focus on remaining compact and not conceding goals rather than the traditional attacking football that the club is known for. The tactics were so defensive that Manchester United took 21 minutes to touch the ball in the final third and 44 minutes to have a touch inside Chelsea’s box.
The Blues saw Callum Hudson-Odoi’s shot saved by David De Gea while Antonio Rudiger’s curling effort hit the bar. Carrick’s tactics almost worked as Jadon Sancho scored the opening goal out of nowhere, taking advantage of Jorginho’s mistake to run through on goal and finding the back of the net in the 50th minute. However, the Italian redeemed himself by scoring the equalizer in the 69th minute when Aaron Wan Bissaka fouled Thiago Silva in the box. Despite Tuchel’s team doing their utmost to score the winner, the Blues could not find a breakthrough with Rudiger missing a golden opportunity in the 97th minute. Both sides shared a point each as Chelsea’s lead is now reduced to one point ahead of second place Man City while Manchester United are 8th.
Premier League champions Manchester City emerged winners after a difficult test against West Ham at the Etihad Stadium amidst a snowstorm. Ilkay Gundogan opened the scoring in the 33rd minute on a pitch that became virtually impossible to play on at the end of the first half. The ground staff did a commendable job in ensuring the pitch was playable after an extended half-time break and even though the hosts could not play their usual free flowing football due to the weather conditions, they kept David Moyes’ West Ham at bay doubled the lead in the 90th minute when substitute Fernandinho scored from one of his first touches.
City are now just one point behind league leaders Chelsea while West Ham are level on points with Arsenal at the fourth position after enduring back-to-back defeats for the first time since April. Man City boss Pep Guardiola gave credit to the ground staff by saying “I think the groundskeepers, the men who took care of the pitch, were the men of the match. They did an incredible job so we could play the game today."
At the Emirates Stadium, Arsenal enjoyed a comfortable 2-0 victory over Newcastle United with Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli finding the back of the net. Eddie Howe was in the dugout for the first time as Newcastle manager as his side conceded the first goal in the 56th minute through Saka who was substituted due to injury just a few minutes later. Mikel Arteta replaced the goalscorer with Martinelli who also found himself on the scoresheet after being on the pitch for only 93 seconds as he managed to capitalize on a long pass by Takehiro Tomiyasu. The Gunners have now won 18 out of the last 19 matches against Newcastle United.
Liverpool ran riot against Southampton at Anfield as Jurgen Klopp’s team scored four past the Saints to reduce their gap from Chelsea to only two points. Diogo Jota (x2), Thiago and Virgil Van Dijk were on the scoresheet as Liverpool have now scored 39 goals in 13 games, nine more than any other Premier League club. The Reds got their lead just 97 seconds into the match as Diogo Jota scored from Andrew Robertson’s low cross, thereby scoring the fastest goal of the season so far. The Portuguese forward doubled the lead in the 32nd minute with a close range finish and Thiago ensured the game was all but over before the break by scoring Liverpool’s third in the 37th minute.
However, Jurgen Klopp’s team wasn’t done yet as Virgil van Dijk scored his first Premier League goal since the opening day of last season as Liverpool extended their lead to four. This was Liverpool’s consecutive 4-0 victory in the league and are now third on the table, one point behind Manchester City and two points behind Liverpool. The Reds will next face fierce local rivals Everton at Goodison Park on Thursday, 1:45 am IST.
Portugal and Italy drawn in same World Cup playoff with only one set to qualify for Qatar
(Football news) With the 2022 Qatar World Cup just being a year away, Euro 2020 winners Italy and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal will be hoping to qualify for the ultimate stage in international football through the play-offs where only three teams from 12 will earn their ticket to the Middle East. However, as it turns out that only one of the two heavyweight nations will book their place at next year’s World Cup as both the teams have been drawn in the same qualifying playoffs bracket.
The format is such that out of the 12 teams, 10 of which finished as runners up have been split into three teams of four with a semifinal and final played amongst them. The winning team from each path is guaranteed qualification for the World Cup in Qatar which means that either Italy or Portugal will not be eligible for the tournament. The reigning European champions Italy and the 2016 European Champions Portugal will play their home games against North Macedonia and Turkey and if both were to defeat them, they will face each other in the final.
Not being able to qualify for a World Cup would be a disaster for either of the teams as four times World Champions Italy had already failed to qualify for the 2018 iteration in Russia, missing out on the World Cup for the first time in 60 years. Moreover, Roberto Mancini’s team is the current Euro 2020 champions and would undoubtedly be one of the favourites to win if they do qualify. For Portugal, it would probably be Cristiano Ronaldo’s last opportunity to win the World Cup as the Portuguese superstar will be 37 years old by the time the World Cup begins. He will undoubtedly want the ultimate footballing glory at least once in his career before he hangs up his boots.
One thing is for sure, it will be a loss for both fans and the players as one of the European heavyweights will fail to qualify for a tournament as prestigious as the World Cup. Both teams have the potential to win the Jules Rimet Trophy and for many players in the Italy and Portugal squads, it would be their last opportunity to do so. What we do know is if both the sides were to meet in the finals of ‘Path C’, they will give their all to qualify for the World Cup.
Champions League: Carrick’s Man Utd progress into the knockouts while Chelsea thrash Juventus and Barca draw against Benfica
(Football news) After an emotional and turbulent weekend for Manchester United, caretaker manager Michael Carrick and his team travelled to Estadio de la Cerámica to face Villarreal who were level on points (7) with Man Utd after playing four games. A win would assure either side a place in the knockout stage of the competition and Manchester United desperately needed a positive result, especially after the 4-1 humiliation against Watford at Vicarage Road.
Carrick made four changes from Solskjaer’s last match in charge with Donny Van De Beek getting a rare opportunity to feature in the starting XI as well as Jadon Sancho, Anthony Martial and Alex Telles found themselves on the team sheet. The most surprising inclusion was Martial for Bruno Fernandes but the Portuguese midfielder is currently out of form and has failed to replicate last season’s performances so far. Despite the changes, the visitors struggled in the first half and David De Gea ensured his side were still in the match by making some truly breathtaking saves.
Just when a goalless draw looked like the most likely result, Cristiano Ronaldo found the back of the net in the 78th minute to score his sixth Champions League goal of the season and his 10th goal overall in all competitions. If that wasn’t all, Jadon Sancho’s thunderbolt of a strike doubled Manchester United’s lead in the 90th minute to ensure his side secured all three points and progressed to the knockout stage with one game to spare. For Villarreal, they will have to compete against Atalanta for the runners-up position, the Italian side drew 3-3 against Young Boys yesterday and are one point behind Unai Emery’s side in the Group F.
Reigning European champions Chelsea proved exactly why they are the team to beat after an emphatic 4-0 victory against Juventus in the Champions League to secure their place in the knockout stages. The Blues took the lead midway through the first half when Trevoh Chalobah found the back of the net in the 25th minute with a powerful shot that was set up by Antonio Rudiger from Hakim Ziyech’s corner. Despite more opportunities for the home side, Chelsea failed to increase their lead in the first half as Szczesny made some good saves to keep Juventus in the game.
However, the second half proved to be a different story entirely as Reece James doubled Chelsea’s lead in the 55th minute, scoring his fifth goal in all competitions when his powerful right footed shot found the back of the net. If that wasn’t all, Hudson-Odoi became the third homegrown Chelsea player to find himself on the scoresheet just three minutes later with a close range finish in the 58th minute. With three points all but guaranteed for Chelsea, Timo Werner scored the fourth goal in stoppage time (90+5), converting Ziyech’s cross from close range. With Thomas Tuchel playing his full strength side against Juventus and the likes of Ben Chillwell and N’Golo Kante suffering from knee injuries, it will be interesting to see Chelsea’s starting XI in their weekend clash against Manchester United.
Xavi Hernandez’s first Champions League match as Barcelona manager didn’t go as he would have hoped as his side were held to a 0-0 draw against third place Benfica in Group E. The Blaugrana have progressed into the knockout stage in every Champions League for almost two decades but now face a difficult task of defeating Bayern Munich in their final Group stage match. The German side are currently on top of the group, eight points ahead of second place Barcelona, having won all five matches that have been played so far. If Barcelona fail to defeat Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena and Benfica defeat the already eliminated Dynamo Kiev, the Portuguese club would overtake Barca and progress to the knockouts at the Spanish club’s expense.
However, Xavi Hernandez’s team can take solace in the fact that since Bayern Munich have already qualified for the knockout stage, they might feature a weakened team which gives Barcelona a better chance of getting all three points. Visiting the Allianz Arena is never an easy task for even the strongest teams in Europe and Bayern Munich just might go all guns blazing in order to defeat a historic rival and ensure their perfect record remains intact heading into the Champions League quarter-finals.
UCL: Barcelona take on Dynamo Kiev in a crucial encounter as Manchester United travel to Bergamo to face high flying Atalanta
(Football news) With all the league fixtures done all the focus will shift to the midweek Champions League fixtures. Barcelona face a must win match against Dynamo Kiev as nothing more than three points is required for them to qualify for the round of 16, Manchester United will hope to produce a clinical performance against Atalanta.
Manchester United face Atalanta at Bergamo in what is expected to be a humdinger of a match between two attacking sides. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer might have passed his first test but he needs to win his next two games to save his job. United will be hoping that they don’t repeat the same performance they had a few weeks ago against Atalanta at Old Trafford, although United won that match the performance was far from convincing and Atalanta are no strangers picking points against English oppositions. For United getting the victory is very important as only three points separate Manchester United and bottom placed Young Boys, meaning qualification is far from secured at the moment.
Gasperini in his press conference said, “We faced City and Liverpool when they were in a good period, established teams that were well organised for some time with their style of play, United seem to be a team in construction that still has some things to work out. But they have considerable potential. They might be jumping from a defeat to an impressive win, but that does not take anything away from their potential.Tomorrow will be a completely different game compared to our first meeting,”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in his press conference said “The next one is the one that matters and we’ve been working to get consistency and we know that when we get that consistency we will get results and performances, One swallow doesn’t make a summer and it’s important we keep focusing on what we did well in that game and improve on what we didn’t do as well. It is relentless with games every three days and it’s a chance against Atalanta to prove that we can go again”.
Bayern take on Benfica at the Allianz Arena, Julian Nagelsmann’s side will seek to assure a safe passage into the knockout stages with a victory over the Portuguese team. After their 5-0 loss against Monchengladbach, Bayern bounced back in emphatic fashion winning 5-2 against Union Berlin and will hope to continue the same form. Bayern will be without Leon Goretzka, Alphonso Davis and Lucas Hernandez, as for Benfica they will be without Haris Seferovic and Rodrigo Pinho for this all important champions league fixture. Robert Lewandowski will look to score in his fourth successive Champions league match as aims to reach 20 goals in the season already and also become the top scorer of the tournament.
Barcelona face a must win match against bottom placed team Dynamo Kiev, coming off a three-match winless streak in the Spanish league with an interim coach, Barcelona will head to Ukraine to face Dynamo Kyiv without two of their veterans because of health issues. Defender Gerard Piqué is nursing a right calf strain and striker Sergio Aguero is under observation after undergoing heart tests. The team is being coached by interim manager Sergi Barjuán after Ronald Koeman was fired last week. If Barcelona need to win their remaining matches to even stand a chance of qualification into the Knockout phase or else that will have to settle for Europa League.
The other fixtures to look out for are:
- Malmo vs Chelsea
- Wolfsburg vs RB Salzburg
- Villareal vs Young Boys
- Juventus vs Zenit
- Sevilla vs Lille
Tottenham Hotspur sack Nuno Espírito Santo after just 4 months
(Football news) Tottenham Hotspur lost 3-0 at home to Manchester United. The match was branded by football fans as El-Sackico where the manager who lost the game would be sacked. As it turned out Nuno Espírito Santo has been sacked by Tottenham Hotspur after just 4 months incharge of the club.
Ever since Tottenham have played the Champions League final it has been downhill for them. They ended up sacking Mauricio Pochettino the very next season. Their next manager Jose Mourinho was sacked just a week before the Carabao cup final. It is safe to say that Nuno was not Tottenham's first choice by any means. Mauricio Pochettino, Antonio Conte, Gennaro Gattuso and Paolo Fonseca were all in talks with the club way before Nuno.
The Portuguese manager started really well as he defeated Manchester City, Wolves and Watford in the first three games and won the manager of the month award. Then it went from bad to worse as spurs lost 3-0 to Crystal Palace, Chelsea and 3-1 to arch rivals Arsenal. A 1-0 loss to West Ham and 3-0 loss to United was the nail in the coffin. Tottenham have qualified for the Carabao cup Quarter final but find themselves 3rd in their Conference League table with 1 win, 1 loss and 1 draw.
In a statement released by Tottenham Hotspur, Fabio Paratici, Managing Director, Football, said: "I know how much Nuno and his coaching staff wanted to succeed and I regret that we have had to take this decision. Nuno is a true gentleman and will always be welcome here. We should like to thank him and his coaching staff and wish them well for the future.”
Being defensive is the reason Jose Mourinho was sacked. Nuno Espírito Santo has always been a defensive coach, therefore his appointment never made any sense whatsoever. Having a player who wanted to leave the club in Harry Kane has also been an issue as the striker has been a shadow of a player he has been throughout his career.
The big question is what is next for Tottenham Hotspur. There have already been rumours about Antonio Conte being the first choice once again. If it eventually does happen is something that'll be doubtful until it's made official. Spurs play a Conference League game against Vitesse on Thursday before which they will have to appoint an interim manager.
Here's how playing with Edinson Cavani will bring the best out of Cristiano Ronaldo
(Football news) After an embarrassing 5-0 defeat to Liverpool at Old Trafford, Manchester United came back with a comfortable 3-0 win away at Tottenham Hotspur. Although Spurs didn't provide a good challenge, United played very well. Bruno Fernandes provided an assist for Cristiano Ronaldo who scored the first goal. Ronaldo then provided the assist for Edinson Cavani. Marcus Rashford sealed the 3 points with a 3rd goal.
After the return of Raphael Varane, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer changed the system and put Manchester United in the 3-4-1-2 formation. Varane lined up in the center of defence with Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof on either side. Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan Bissaka took up the wing back positions and were given the license to go forward. Solskjaer's tried and trusted midfield of Scott Mctominay and Fred formed the double pivot. Bruno Fernandes played behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani. Fernandes had the freedom to move around in spaces.
Ronaldo throughout his career has played with a strike partner. Very rarely has there been a case where he was the lone man up front. Carlos Tevez, Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov at Manchester United; Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain at Real Madrid; Mario Mandzukic, Higuain, Paulo Dybala and Alvaro Morata at Juventus have all played second fiddle to Ronaldo. His partners usually do the hard work like tracking back and pressing the opposition defenders. If he has someone who is willing to do that bit then he will give you what the team needs to win: goals.
Cavani's impressive ability to press the ball comes in very handy for his side. There has been so much discussion about Ronaldo's lack of pressing which is irrelevant because that is not an age thing as the Portuguese has always been that kind of player. This system works perfectly for Manchester United. The 3 at the back system could also mean that Paul Pogba could be fitted into the double pivot alongside one of Fred, Mctominay and Matic because he will have the insurance of 3 defenders behind him just like he did with France in the Nations League.
There are obviously a few disadvantages. The major one being that it will significantly affect the game time of the other wingers - Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Mason Greenwood. Rashford has been decent since returning. Mason Greenwood has shown glimpses of good football but has clearly not got used to playing with Ronaldo. Sancho has been poor since his move from Dortmund.
Sancho obviously needs time to settle but Solskjaer's current priority will be to win games right now. For instant success, Ronaldo and Cavani have to play alongside each other which means Sancho doesn't get a place in the side. It is safe to say that Donny Van de Beek's Manchester United career is over and it will be in his best interest to find a new club in January. There are fears among Manchester United fans that the same could happen to Sancho.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is yet to win a trophy after 3 years. The Norwegian will have to win a trophy this season which means that he needs to play a side that will win right now and not think about the future too much. If Greenwood, Sancho, Rashford are indeed good enough, they will without a doubt find a way to break into the team. It is pretty clear that Ronaldo and Cavani will not be able to play every game which will give the youngsters a chance and they will have to grab it.
Warner does a Ronaldo, jokingly removes coca cola bottles during press conference
Dubai, Oct 29 (Cricket news) Star Australian opener David Warner did a Cristiano Ronaldo during the ongoing T20 World Cup here as he removed Coca Cola bottles placed in front of him during a press conference for a brief while.
Just before the start of the press conference after he guided Australia to a seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka here on Thursday, Warner grabbed the two soft drink bottles lying in front of him and said with a smile, "Can I remove these? Though I have to put it there." "If it's good enough for Cristiano, it's good enough for me. That's right," he added while putting the two bottles back.
Ronaldo's act of removing the soft drink during a European Championships press conference reportedly cost the global beverage giant a whopping USD 4 billion.
The footage of Warner removing the bottles attracted considerable social media attention but any financial fallout is not known yet.
A well-known fitness enthusiast, Ronaldo set aside two Coca-Cola glass bottles which lay in front of him during a press conference ahead of Portugal''s opening Euro match against Hungary.
The 36-year-old striker picked up a bottle of water saying "Agua!" in Portuguese, seemingly urging people to choose water over aerated drinks.
The 35-year-old Warner, who has gone through a lean patch, was back in his elements on Thursday as his sizzling 42-ball 65, which had 10 fours, made it easy for Australia to chase down the target of 155 in only 17 overs.
It was Australia's second win in as many Super 12 games and they look like a strong contender apart from England in the group to move into the semifinals.
Warner was involved in two solid partnerships, -- 70 in 6.5 overs with skipper Aaron Finch (37 off 23 balls) and another 50 in 6.3 overs with former skipper Steve Smith (28 not out off 26 balls).
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News Source : PTI
Here's why the El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona has always been more than just points
(Football news) The rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona dates back to 1902. The origin of the rivalry was simply because the two cities are the biggest in Spain. Another thing that ignited it further was polar opposite political positions, with Real Madrid viewed as Spanish nationalists and Barcelona viewed as Catalan nationalists.
Over the years the clubs have also had different football ideologies. Real Madrid are known for always spending the big bucks to buy the best players while Barcelona prides itself in producing the big players. The two teams along with Athletic Club Bilbao have never been relegated from the Spanish top flight. In head to head games, Real Madrid have 98 wins compared to Barcelona's 96.
Over the years there have been players who have played for both sides like Samuel Eto'o and Luis Enrique. The big one is without question Luis Figo. The Portuguese winger was the Barcelona captain and Ballon d'Or winner when he decided to cross the divide. The transfer left Barcelona fans heartbroken and angry. In the next El Clasico Luis Figo was subject to some of the loudest boos and jeers in the history of football. There was also the infamous incident when a fan threw a real pig's head towards Figo when he came to take a corner.
Another transfer incident that fuelled the rivalry was in 1952 when both the clubs were fighting for signing a certain Alfredo Di Stefano. The situation was so heated that Fifa had to intervene. Fifa decided to let Di Stéfano play one season each for both the clubs with Real Madrid getting for the first season in 1953/54. Although both the clubs had agreed to the decision of FIFA. Problems within the Barcelona board caused the president to resign and the main reason for the dispute was the way the Di Stefano situation was handled. Blaugrana sold Madrid their half-share, and Di Stéfano moved to the Spanish capital signing a four-year contract. The striker went on to win 5 European cups with Real Madrid and established himself as one of the greatest players in the history of the game.
Another two players that have made the rivalry better are Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. The two players played against each other for 9 years where they ruled world football. Messi is the highest scorer in the history of El Clasico followed by Ronaldo. On Sunday, 24th October, 2021 the two teams meet for the 195th time in a competitive game where as always, the two teams will play for more than just 3 points.
Manchester United travel to Leicester City while Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool face tough away fixtures
(Football news) The International break is finally over and the Premier League is back with matchweek 8. Chelsea and Liverpool are joint top of the table followed by Manchester United and Manchester City at number 3 and 4.
Liverpool play Watford at Vicarage road in what will be Claudio Ranieri's first game in charge of The Hornets. Liverpool will welcome back Trent Alexander Arnold who is fully fit to start again. There are doubts over Diogo Jota who was called up by Portugal for the international break but didn't fully train with the team. The game comes too early for Thiago Alcantara who will not be available. Watford on the other hand will have Joshua King, Christian Kabasele, Francisco Sierralta and Oghenekaro Etebo. Liverpool will have a lot of tired legs with many players playing over 90 minutes in the past week of international duty. They also have an important UCL clash with Atlético Madrid on Tuesday which may force Jurgen Klopp to rest his key players. Ranieri wouldn't think of a better way to start his new job than beating the table toppers.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a very big game to focus on as Manchester United take on Leicester City away from home. Leicester City away in itself is a tricky fixture but it is definitely the easiest fixture United will have for a while. Their next fixtures are Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham in the league and Atalanta twice in the UCL. It's make or break time for Manchester United's season and a good win at the King Power stadium will set the foundation for this tricky period. United have been handed a fresh injury with Raphael Varane set to be out for a couple of weeks in addition to Harry Maguire. Marcus Rashford is on his way back and may feature on the bench. Leicester City will be without Wilfried Ndidi, Wesley Fofana and Nampalys Mendy through injury while Jonny Evans remains a doubt. Manchester United's Portuguese duo Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo have had a very productive international break and will be hoping to carry that form into the club level.
Manchester City will host 18th placed Burnley who have had a terrible start to their season with no wins with 7 games. It's too early to say but this might be the season Sean Dyche's Burnley finally gets relegated. A point at the Etihad might shift their fortunes but at this moment in time it looks very unlikely. Ilkay Gundogan and Oleksandr Zinchenko will not be available for selection for Manchester City while Burnley will be without Maxwel Cornet and Dale Stephens while club captain Ben Mee is also a doubt.
Chelsea travel to Brentford for a tricky away fixture. Chelsea players Reece James, Romelu Lukaku, Antonio Rudiger, N'golo Kante and Christian Pulisic are all in doubt for the fixture due to injury and illness issues. Brentford defender Kristoffer Ajer's involvement is also in doubt. Brentford have already held Liverpool at home this season and will be hoping to get a result against Chelsea as well.
Tottenham Hotspur will be in the loudest stadium in Europe this weekend. Newcastle's St. James' Park will be roaring after the recent turnover in the club. A week ago, Newcastle completed a takeover from the Saudi’s who are 10 times richer than the Manchester City owners. Ever since the move was made official there has been celebrating Geordies all around Newcastle and the game against Spurs will be a festival. The situation will be a hostile one for Tottenham. Spurs will be without Steven Bergwijn while Matt Doherty and Ben Davies remain doubtful. Callum Wilson is back in training and could start the game. Jamal Lascelles and Joe Willock's involvement remains doubtful.
After a disastrous start Arsenal's season looks to be back on track now. They face their very own Patrick Veirra's team Crystal Palace at the Emirates Stadium. Crystal Palace are currently 14th on the league table and would be hoping for at least a point. Anything less than 3 points for Arsenal will be a failure as they are the in-form team. Granit Xhaka is the only absentee for Arsenal while Eberechi Eze and Nathan Ferguson remain long term absentees for Palace.
Who should be Manchester United's designated penalty taker?
(Football news) Ever since Cristiano Ronaldo's return to Old Trafford was announced, there has been a different energy at Manchester United. Although it has been far from a smooth ride so far Ronaldo's presence alone gives fans hope. The question on everyone's mind was now that Ronaldo is here, who takes the penalties?
It looked as if the question was answered when Bruno Fernandes stepped up to take a last minute penalty against Aston Villa when United were 1-0 despite Ronaldo being on the field. The doubt would've gone away had Bruno scored but he blasted his kick over the post, so the question still remains very relevant.
Bruno Fernandes had been the primary spot kick taker ever since his arrival at Manchester United. The midfielder rarely missed a penalty and had an impressive conversion rate of 91.3%. Cristiano Ronaldo on the other hand has been a penalty taker for 16 years. The striker has taken and converted pressure penalties in the Champions League, World Cup and the Euros. His conversion rate is 81.4% which is inferior to that of Bruno Fernandes.
Ronaldo and Fernandes have played for Portugal many times before and not once has Bruno taken the kick when Ronaldo is on the field mainly because Ronaldo is the captain. Talking about the penalties, Bruno said that he would be happy to take them but the decision lies with the captain Harry Maguire, coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and a senior player in Cristiano Ronaldo. Solskjaer also confirmed after the Villa game that the decision about the penalty taker isn't a spontaneous one and the job is delegated before the game.
If we look at the conversion rate Fernandes comfortably edges it, but Ronaldo has taken more pressure penalties and for a longer amount of time. Ronaldo is Portugal's captain which is why he may be in-charge of the decision in the Portuguese camp. Bruno Fernandes is the vice-captain of Manchester United which is why he may have taken the penalty against Aston Villa.
The miss against Aston Villa and the fact that Ronaldo scored 3 penalties in Portugal's recent World Cup qualifier against Luxembourg might tempt Solskjaer to trust Ronaldo with the duties like 99% of managers would do. Another thing Solskjaer could do is ask Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes to take turns, which is what Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos did for Real Madrid
Cristiano Ronaldo scores record breaking 10th international hat-trick to make it 58 hat-tricks in all competitions for club and country
(Football news) Cristiano Ronaldo just doesn't know how to stop being a goal machine. In Portugal's 5-0 World Cup qualifiers win against Luxembourg, Ronaldo netted his 10th hat-trick in Portugal colours. The treble was also his 58th career hat-trick in all competitions for club and country.
In the 8th minute of the game against Hungary, Ronaldo broke the deadlock by converting a penalty won by Bernardo Silva. 5 minutes later he won a spot kick himself which he unsurprisingly scored but had to be retaken because of an encroachment from Pepe. He kept his calm to slot home the next penalty as well.
Cristiano Ronaldo almost completed his hat-trick in the 68th minute when Joao Cancelo whipped a ball in from the right which Ronaldo exquisitely controlled in mid-air to then connect with a spectacular overhead kick which was saved by the keeper. The goal would've arguably been the best goal of the Portuguese icon's career if it had gone in. Ronaldo did get his hat-trick eventually in the 87th with a cool tap in.
Ronaldo broke the record of Sweden's Sven Rydell who had 9 hat-tricks. The striker has scored 58 hat-tricks in his illustrious career. Out of the 58 hat-tricks 1 was for Manchester United, 2 were as a Juventus player, 10 were at the international stage for Portugal and a mammoth 45 were as a Real Madrid player. Ronaldo makes a hat-trick look easy given that he has scored 58 of them. 8 of the 58 have been perfect hat-tricks which is 1 goal with each foot and 1 with the head. A feat which no other player is even close to achieving.
Ronaldo will now get his attention back to Manchester United who have a very difficult period with a challenging run of fixtures and a lean patch before the international break. Ronaldo will be hoping that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will not bench him in any of the upcoming games like he did against Everton.
Is Karim Benzema a serious contender for the Ballon d'Or?
(Football news) Karim Benzema has been at the centre of the Real Madrid side for over a decade now. Every single manager that has been in charge of Real Madrid has always had full faith in the Frenchman. It did take some time for fans to notice his brilliance as when playing with Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, Benzema always adapted according to their style.
Benzema would often play second fiddle to Ronaldo but after the Portuguese left Madrid, he became the main man. This season alone Karim Benzema has 12 goals and 8 assists in all competitions and was unsurprisingly a part of 30-man Ballon d'Or shortlist. There is a high chance that he may end up in the top 3 as well. His biggest rival is Lionel Messi, Robert Lewandowski and Jorginho.
Karim Benzema has 33 goals and 14 assists in 47 games in 2021. The 33 year old almost single handedly carried Real Madrid to the UCL Semi final and also led them to a 2nd place La Liga finish, just 3 points behind Atlético Madrid. Benzema also scored 4 goals with his national team in the Euro 2021 as France were knocked out in the Round of 16.
He then scored another 2 goals in the UEfA Nations League which France won. Benzema has had a massive impact on both France and Real Madrid this year. He has taken up the responsibility as a leader and thrived upon it. The only thing that can stop Benzema from winning the Ballon d'Or is the lack of team trophies. The situation would've been totally different if Real Madrid had won the La Liga.
The Ballon d'Or will be presented on 29th November in Paris and Benzema is definitely a candidate for the award. Whether he wins it or not remains to be seen.
Exploring Jadon Sancho’s teething problems at Manchester United
(Football news) After an endless stream of negotiations, transfer speculation that had become tiresome to say the least, Jadon Sancho was finally announced as a Manchester United player for £73m from Borussia Dortmund, amidst exasperation and relief amongst the fans. The 21 year old is undoubtedly one of Europe’s hottest prospects and it was widely considered a ‘steal’ to pry Sancho away from Dortmund’s clutches for such a bargain price. However, the England international has not had the best of starts in life at the Premier League and we’re here to explore why.
Despite Sancho having played for Manchester City before his move to Borussia Dortmund, the winger did not play in the Premier League. Unlike the Bundesliga where Sancho has developed into one of the best wingers in the world, England’s top flight is a whole different ball game where the game is faster, more physical and more competitive than Germany. One of Sancho’s biggest challenges is a straightforward one, he will have to adapt to the Premier League and hasn’t been given the time to. With a price tag of £73m, many fans and media alike expect instant results, which may not be practically possible. Sancho is a prospect, albeit a very bright one but needs time to develop and adapt his game to suit the challenges of the Premier League. This process requires time and it has only been a few months since the winger has been plying his trade in England.
Secondly, Jadon Sancho is an effective right winger but has been played out of position by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The England international has been switched to the left flank, presumably because his teamwork with Luke Shaw is better than with Aaron Wan Bissaka, but it's fair to say that the left side of midfield is not his natural position which has invariably led to inconsistent performances. Moreover, with the intense competition for places in the starting XI, Sancho has either been coming off the bench or been substituted at the hour mark and needs a consistent run of games to adapt to the Premier League.
For a player like Sancho who is highly technical, creative, relies on trickery to get past opponents with speed and excels at one-on-one situations, making him feel ‘settled’ will be key to getting the best out of him. The presence of Ronaldo in the squad will undoubtedly aid Sancho’s development, as the Portuguese also started his Manchester United career as a player with a similar profile and ended his first stint in England as arguably the best player in the world. Jadon Sancho has the talent to succeed at Manchester United and it’s too early to call the 21 year old a ‘flop’ simply because he hasn’t lit the fireworks with performances so far. Given his age, talent and work ethic, it’s only a matter of time before Manchester United fans see the best of Sancho but patience will be key until then.
Champions League: Messi scores first PSG goal in win against Man City while Real Madrid endure shocking defeat to Sheriff Tiraspol
(Football news) The blockbuster fixture of the night was undoubtedly Paris Saint-Germain vs Manchester City and boy did it not disappoint! Lionel Messi opened his account for the French giants with a second half goal after Idrissa Gueye’s powerful shot gave them a lead early in the first half. Manchester City should have been level on goals when Raheem Sterling’s header hit the post followed by Bernardo Silva hitting the bar three yards away from goal. However, any hopes of making a comeback were extinguished 16 minutes from time when Messi finally struck a trademark left foot shot in the top left corner to record PSG’s first win over Man City.
With this result, Paris Saint-Germain are now top of Group A followed by Club Brugge while Manchester City languish in third position. Pep Guardiola’s team will now have to recover in time for a difficult trip to Anfield as the gear up to face league leaders Liverpool in the Premier League.
Meanwhile at the Santiago Bernabeu, 13 times European Champions Real Madrid were stunned by Sheriff Tiraspol who defeated the Los Blancos 2-1 at the Spanish capital. The Moldovian side have now won both their Champions League matches and are currently on top of Group D with six points from two games. Sheriff got the lead in the 25th minute when Jasur Jakhshibaev’s header found the back of the net but the scores were level in the second half thanks to Karim Benzema who slotted home a penalty following a VAR review. Just when it looked like the match would end in a draw, Sheriff Tiraspol stunned the world when Sebastien Thill scored from 20 yards to snatch all three points for his side.
Liverpool looked at their unstoppable best with an emphatic 5-1 victory over Porto. A brace from Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino as well as a goal from Sadio Mane comprehensively defeated the Portuguese side yet again Estadio do Dragao. Mehdi Taremi scored a consolation goal in the 74th minute with a header but it was too little too late for Porto as their goalkeeper Diogo Costa made two errors leading to goals in the match. With this result, Liverpool went on top of Group B with six points from two games and are likely to qualify into the next round.
Ajax maintained their perfect start in the Champions League with a 2-0 win over Besiktas. Goals from Steven Berghuis and Sebastien Haller were all it took for the Dutch club to snatch 3 points at the Johan Cruyff Arena. Haller has now scored five goals in the Champions League this season, the most by any player in his first two appearances of the competition. At the Signal Iduna Park, Borussia Dortmund climbed on top of Group C with a 1-0 win over Sporting Lisbon when Donyell Malen scored after being set up by talented English midfielder Jude Bellingham.
A stoppage time penalty goal by Luis Suarez helped Atletico Madrid to a 2-1 win over AC Milan at the San Siro in the Champions League. The Italian giants started off well, when Rafael Leao’s goal helped AC Milan take the lead in the 20th minute but things took a turn for the worse nine minutes later when Franck Kessie was sent off from a second yellow card. Antoine Griezmann levelled the scoring six minutes from time, his first goal since his return to Atletico Madrid and Suarez scored a penalty past Mike Maignan to seal all three points.
Cristiano Ronaldo reclaims top spot of the world’s highest paid footballer, overtakes Lionel Messi according to Forbes
(Football news) The words Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are firmly associated with decades of dominance in world football, a bucket load of goals and many Ballon d’Or awards. With the number of records each of these footballers have broken, their achievements both individually and collectively with the team, it’s no wonder that both of them have also been the highest paid athletes in their respective sports for a very long time.
With both these iconic legends moving away from their clubs this summer, as Cristiano Ronaldo rejoined Manchester United and Lionel Messi shocked the sporting world by moving to Paris Saint-Germain from his boyhood club Barcelona, their new deals have also changed the dynamics of who is paid more. According to a report by Forbes, Ronaldo is now the highest paid footballer in the world, earning $125 million before taxes in the 2021/2022 season. Ofcourse, being the world’s most popular athlete with a combined number of followers amounting to nearly half a billion across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter helps, with commercial deals with Nike, Herbalife, Clear and the CR7 brand amounting to nearly $50 million of his revenue.
Only three other active athletes, namely Roger Federer ($90 million), LeBron James ($65 million) and Tiger Woods ($60 million) earn more than the Portuguese superstar commercially. However, Cristiano’s longtime rival Lionel Messi earns about $110 million, nearly $15 million less than the current Manchester United player. This is because Messi’s endorsements with Adidas, Pepsi, watchmaker Jacobs & Co. and Budweiser earn him $35 million, significantly lower than Ronaldo. Paris Saint-Germain currently employs three of the top five earners in world football with Neymar in the third position with an estimated value of $95 million and Kylian Mbappe in the fourth position with $43 million.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the top 10 highest paid footballers will earn an estimated $585 million before tax, about $15 million more than last year with salaries and bonuses amounting to nearly $415 million of the total. These figures are despite the report by Europe’s governing body UEFA, which claimed top flight clubs endured an $8.5 million pandemic related revenue loss.
Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and Everton keep up their unbeaten record on Gameweek 5
(Football news) In Gameweek 5 of the Premier League, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and Everton are unbeaten and joint top of the table.
The North London derby headlines the gameweek as Chelsea visit Tottenham Hotspur. Chelsea are in a hot run of form in Thomas Tuchel's first full season incharge. Romelu Lukaku has completed this Chelsea side to make them world beaters. Tottenham Hotspur had a good start to the season with 3 wins from 3 but then their progress was delayed when Crystal Palace won 3-0 in the last game. A win against Chelsea will be the best possible way to get back on track. The blues held onto a narrow 1-0 win against Zenit at home which may have been a signal that Chelsea can be defeated with the right tactics.
Arsenal got a much needed win against Newcastle to open their account on the Premier League table and next up they face Burnley away from home. Burnley haven't had the best start to the season, managing to get only 1 point in 4 games. Burnley lost their last game against Everton after conceding 3 goals in 6 minutes. The pressure is on Burnley to perform at home and go back to their usual defensive solidity. Arsenal on the other hand need to get momentum before their derby game against Spurs next weekend.
Manchester City host Southampton after their impressive 6-3 win over RB Leipzig in the UCL. Despite scoring 6, Pep Guardiola will not be too happy with the defensive side of things. Southampton are winless in the league so far but have managed to hold onto 3 draws. Having just played a UCL game midweek and there might be quite a few changes in the Manchester City side.
Also read: Bayern Munich dismantle Barcelona, Young Boys stun Manchester United and Chelsea narrowly win against Zenit
Liverpool have a home game against Crystal Palace. Patrick Vieira has got this Crystal Palace side playing attacking and positive football. Their 3-0 win against Spurs last week was a statement of that. Liverpool are just on the back of a thrilling 3-2 victory against AC Milan in the UCL. Virgil Van Dijk was rested for that game which means that he should be fresh for the clash. After scoring 2 goals coming on as a substitute on his debut, Odsonne Edouard is very likely to start the game along with Wilfried Zaha who had a good game himself.
Manchester United travel to West Ham after their disappointing and shock UCL loss against Young Boys. The Red Devils have been in the Cristiano Ronaldo mania and the Portuguese has delivered with 3 goals in his two games but there are other concerns especially in the center of midfield. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has had his fair share of criticism for his substitutions in their UCL loss. Manchester United need to win against West Ham who would be without their talisman Michail Antonio.
Cristiano Ronaldo equals Iker Casillas' record for the most Champions League appearances
(Football news) Manchester United's Champions League opener didn't go as Cristiano Ronaldo had planned. Young Boys pulled off a major upset by beating The Red Devils. Despite his team's failure, Cristiano Ronaldo is on the verge of breaking another impressive record.
Ronaldo equalled the record for most appearances in the UEFA Champions League. The Portuguese is currently tied with his former teammate and captain Iker Casillas at 117. In Manchester United's next game against Villarrea,l Ronaldo should go past the Spanish goalkeeper who hung up his boots two years ago.
Also read: Bayern Munich dismantle Barcelona, Young Boys stun Manchester United and Chelsea narrowly win against Zenit
Ronaldo already has many UCL records to his name including top goalscorer of all time. The striker marked his record equalising game with another goal, taking his tally to 135 goals. The way Ronaldo is playing, he still has at least another two years of football left in him.
Cristiano Ronaldo's legacy in the UCL is unparalleled and is already written in golden letters. His clutch performances in important games for Real Madrid, Manchester United and Juventus have created some iconic moments. Ronaldo will be hoping to score in his record breaking game against Villarreal and more importantly to lead Manchester United to a victory.
Back where it belongs: Cristiano Ronaldo reunited with the iconic number 7 Manchester United jersey
(Football news) Cristiano Ronaldo will be wearing the number 7 jersey at Manchester United, the club have confirmed. The Portuguese superstar wore the iconic jersey in his first spell at Old Trafford, being handed the number 7 jersey by Sir Alex Ferguson after the departure of David Beckham. In the jersey, Ronaldo has made 292 appearances, scoring 118 goals and won nine trophies which includes three Premier League titles, one Champions League, one FA Cup, two League Cups, two Community Shields and a Club World Cup. The number is an integral part of his ‘CR7’ brand and Ronaldo has worn the number at Real Madrid, Portugal’s national team and Juventus.
After confirming that an agreement for Ronaldo had been reached between Manchester United and Juventus last Friday, the club officially announced the five time Ballon d’Or winner's signature the following Monday after a successful medical and personal terms. It seems only fitting that the best replacement for the iconic number 7 jersey since Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure to Real Madrid in 2009 is none other than the man himself.
Players have struggled to live upto the expectation of the jersey since then, with Michael Owen taking up the mantle in 2009 for three seasons followed by Antonio Valencia in 2012 but the Ecuadorian found it too burdensome and reverted back to 25 a season later. Angel Di Maria took over the jersey but left for Paris Saint-Germain after just one season, followed by Memphis Depay and Alexis Sanchez.
However, Edinson Cavani has performed admirably in the jersey previously worn by the likes of George Best, Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona and David Beckham and it seemed that the curse had finally been lifted. The Uruguayan has given his number to Ronaldo on his return to Old Trafford and has chosen the number 21 for himself, recently vacated by Daniel James who has departed for Leeds.
“I wasn’t sure if it would be possible to have the number seven shirt again, so I would like to say a huge thank you to Edi for this incredible gesture” said Cristiano Ronaldo. The player could make his second Manchester United debut after the International break on September 11 against Newcastle United at Old Trafford, where he will undoubtedly receive a tremendous welcome.
Also read: What will Cristiano Ronaldo bring to Manchester United?
Cristiano Ronaldo becomes the all-time record goalscorer in International football
(Football news) Cristiano Ronaldo scored two late goals in the World Cup qualifiers game against Ireland to win the game for Portugal. Ronaldo started the game level with Ali Daei as the highest goalscorer in International football history. His two goals now made him the outright record goalscorer in International football.
The striker was presented with the opportunity to set the record when Bruno Fernandes won a penalty in the 15th minute. Ronaldo's powerful spot kick was saved by the Irish shot stopper who spoiled the party. To make matters worse, Ireland took the lead just on the stroke of half time through John Egan's header. Portugal were chasing the game until the 89th minute when Ronaldo scored a header to break the record but more importantly bring the game back on level terms. He wasn't done then as 7 minutes later with virtually the last kick of the game the Portuguese talisman broke Irish hearts to score the winner. The win means that Portugal are still top of their table and remain unbeaten in the qualifiers.
With 111 goals, Ronaldo holds the record for most International goals, 2 goals more than the previous record holder Ali Daei and 35 more than any other active International player. The amount of goals signify his longevity and quantity but the quality shouldn't be ignored. Ronaldo has been the flag bearer of Portuguese football for over 15 years now. He has carried the hopes of an entire country on his shoulders.
Also read: What will Cristiano Ronaldo bring to Manchester United?
Out of the 111 goals, only 19 have been in International friendlies. Ronaldo's majority contribution has come in the Euro and World Cup qualifiers where he has scored 64 goals. The most memorable being a hat-trick in a must win World Cup qualifiers play off against Sweden. He has scored 28 goals in major tournaments. His 5 at the 2020 Euros earned him the Golden boot award while his 3 in the 2016 edition got him the silver boot.
Ronaldo also has 41 International assists to his name. It is safe to say that with such high numbers, the Nations League and Euro trophy Ronaldo is the best at the International stage. It is only in the past couple of years that Portugal has a great squad that can be compared to the big nations. For the majority of his career, Ronaldo was the lone warrior with maybe two or maximum three other experienced and big league players. Portugal has also never failed to make it to the finals of Euros and the World Cup since Ronaldo's debut which is quite an achievement for a country like Portugal.
At 36 years of age Ronaldo looks to have no intentions of hanging up his international boots at least until the World Cup in Qatar. The Portuguese hero has rejoined Manchester United and the club as well as the fans would have been thrilled with his most recent performance.
Recap of all the transfers deadline activities from the Bundesliga, Serie A and La Liga
With the players away on international duty, the transfer market was in full flow as significant moves were made which will have a direct effect on the league titles. Let us take a look at the major signings in the La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1:
1. Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid)
Atletico Madrid pulled off the coup of the season as they re-signed Antoine Greizmann from Barcelona on an initial loan deal with an option to buy him for 40 million pounds next season. This signing makes Diego Simeone’s side as the outright favourite to win the La Liga crown as he would be forming a lethal striking partnership with Luis Suarez to instill fear in the opposition.
2. Luuk De Jong (FC Barcelona)
In a move which saw Barca desperately try to sign a striker on the final day as they approached Edison Cavani and Joao Felix but ultimately signed the 31 year old Dutch international from Sevilla on an initial loan with an option to buy next year. Barcelona will not pay any loan fee to Seville but will take his wages on board to unite him with his dutch compatriots Depay and Frenkie De Jong.
3. Hector Bellerin (Real Betis)
The former Gunner returns to his homeland after spending 12 years in England to join Real Betis on loan with no buy option in his contract. Arsenal meanwhile signed Takehiro Tomiyasu which in turn paved his exit away from the club. Real Betis were desperate to sign a full back after the departure of Emerson Royal and got their man on deadline day.
4. Eduardo Camavinga (Real Madrid)
The teenage sensation joined Real Madrid from Rennes on a fee of 40 million with add-ons. He signed a long-term contract till June 2027 which will see him act as a natural replacement for the aging Modric and Kroos in the midfield. Perez wasn't expected to sign anyone after PSG rejected their approach for Mbappe but a change of mind prompted them to sign the 18 year old prodigy.
5. Radamel Falcao (Rayo Vallecano)
Rayo Vallecano signed Falcao on a two year free transfer after he left Galatasaray which has seen him return to Spain for the first time since he left Atletico Madrid. Rayo Vallecano were crying out for a proven goalscorer and went with Falcao’s experience and previous records.The move also acts as an added incentive for him to make the Columbia squad for the 2022 World cup.
Also read: Recap of all the transfers that happened on deadline day in the Premier League
6. Florentino Luis (Getafe)
The young Portuguese midfielder joined Getafe on loan from Benfica with a 10 million pounds buy option next season. Luis was one of the most sought after young midfielders in the world but injury last season really hampered his market value and he is going to Getafe with hopes to revive his career.
7. Moise Kean (Juventus)
Juventus have signed Moise Kean on a two year loan from Everton with buy obligation in 2023 following Ronaldo’s departure to Manchester United. Kean, a youth product of the ‘Old Lady’ , comes back to the club where it all started as the move with Everton really didn’t work out for him. He’ll be hoping a fresh start at Juventus will help reinvigorate his career.
8. Yacine Adil (AC Milan)
AC Milan signed the Algerian prospect from Bordeaux for 8 million who signed a contract with them till June 2026, Yacine will subsequently join Bordeaux back on loan for one more year. The PSG youth product is very highly rated in France as he has scored 9 goals in 72 appearances for Bordeaux.
9. Ethan Ampadu (Venezia)
The Welsh prospect from Chelsea will spend a season-long loan in Italy with newly promoted side Venezia. He spent a very productive loan spell in Germany with RB Leipzig and will hopefully continue the same form to keep the club in Serie A for one more season.
10. Junior Messia( AC Milan)
AC Milan signed the Brazilian forward from Crotone for an initial loan fee of 3million with an option to buy him permanently next season for 6 million euros. The former delivery man makes an incredible rise to the top of the game as he is going to play Champions league football with Milan. His versatility is the biggest reason Milan bought him into the club as he can play right winger, attacking midfielder and centre forward.
11. Nuno Mendes (PSG)
PSG signed Nuno Mendes from Sporting Lisbon for an initial loan fee of 7million with an option to buy him for 40million euros. The move completes an amazing transfer window for PSG as they got Lionel Messi and several other players to make them the strongest team in Europe.
12. Pablo Sarabia (Sporting Lisbon)
The Portuguese champions took Pablo Sarabia on loan for a season in a move which saw left back Nuno Mendes move to Paris.Sarabia is a very good signing for Sporting because he would like to elevate his game to make the squad for Spain in the World Cup in 2022.
13. Ilaix Moriba (RB Leipzig)
RB Leipzig have signed the 18 year old from FC Barcelona for 16 million pounds with a 6 million performances bonus on a 5 year contract. One of the most talked-about product of La Masia joins Leipzig to replace their talisman Marcel Sabitzer. Ilaix Moriba didn't want to leave Barca but high wage demands along with Barcelona’s financial problems meant that he had to leave.
14. Marcel Sabitzer ( Bayern Munich)
Bayern Munich signed the Austrian midfielder from Leipzig for 16 million pounds in a move which saw him join his former coach Julian Nagelsmann. Marcel Sabitzer will make the Bayern midfield even stronger as he has scored numerous important goals for RB Leipzig in very important matches.
What will Cristiano Ronaldo bring to Manchester United?
(Football news) The chants of ‘Viva Ronaldo’ were heard at the Molineux Stadium when Manchester United took on Wolves in the last Premier League game before the international break. It was the first match since Cristiano Ronaldo was officially announced as a Manchester United player and the mood amongst the fans has been one of jubilation, pride, nostalgia and hope. For many, Ronaldo represents the peak of Manchester United’s glory years of the 2000’s, a supremely talented footballer who has shaped the childhoods of so many with his dazzling skills, relentless desire and bucketload of goals. Few players in the history of the club have been as adored, even after the Portuguese had left the club in 2009.
The Ronaldo that left Manchester United 12 years ago is not the same one that re-joins the club this summer. He has lost some pace and is better suited to a traditional number 9 position than on the wings. The stepovers and flashy skills have made way for clinical finishing but one thing that has remained the same is his hunger and desire to win. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has reiterated that Ronaldo will be playing as a striker while the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford are expected to provide him with the service he needs.
Ronaldo has never been known for his work rate, and that is expected to continue at Manchester United while the younger players do the running for him. At 36, he is also not expected to start every single game even though he might be fit. Ronaldo will be expected to start in the Champions League fixtures and most Premier League matches but won’t be expected to feature as much in the F.A Cup and the Carabao Cup. He will also be rotated with Edinson Cavani throughout the season to ensure the players remain fit and fresh for the entirety of a long and gruelling season.
Ronaldo will be a set piece threat and will compete with Bruno Fernandes for freekicks and penalties. His aerial presence will add a new dimension to Manchester United’s attack and his lethal finishing will mean opposition defenses are more compact. More importantly, the players around Ronaldo will have to provide him the opportunities to score, a factor that seems questionable based on the first three Premier League games. Apart from the opening match against Leeds, Man United have failed to create many clear cut chances and seem to lack a game plan against teams employing a low block. This needs to change if Ronaldo is to be as influential as Manchester United hope he will be.
Most importantly, it seems that after a long time Manchester United fans have something to cheer about. Ronaldo’s return has instilled some hope into the club that they are back amongst Europe’s elite and can finally win some silverware this season. It has also uplifted the squad who are now in the presence of arguably one of the greatest footballers in the history of the sport. Ronaldo himself will be eager to improve on his legacy at Old Trafford and write new chapters in the history of this century old football institution.
Also read: The prodigal son returns: Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United are reunited after 12 years
The prodigal son returns: Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United are reunited after 12 years
(Football news) It was in 2009 when Cristiano Ronaldo’s transfer saga to Real Madrid had reached a point of no return. Adored by the Manchester United fans in one of the most successful periods in the club’s history, they wondered why their Portuguese talisman would choose to leave a club on top of world football to join an ‘inferior’ Real Madrid. What Roman Calderon could not achieve, Fiorentino Perez did and Ronaldo secured an £80 million transfer to the Spanish capital, much to the heartbreak of many across the world.
Cristiano Ronaldo joined Manchester United as a boy and left as a man who was well on his way to cement his football legacy for eternity. He won everything in England and sought a new challenge in his boyhood club Real Madrid. At the Spanish capital, the Portuguese stepped up even higher and won four Champions League titles and numerous domestic records. The five time Ballon d’Or winner became not just the best player in the world but arguably one of the best players in the history of the sport.
Manchester United fans looked at Ronaldo’s accomplishments with grudging respect. The club could have achieved new heights if he would have stayed and chants of ‘Viva Ronaldo’ were often heard at Old Trafford. The Portuguese also enjoyed a father-son relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson, a bond that is rarely in modern football where managers are changed every now and again. For football romantics, there was always a hope that Cristiano Ronaldo would return to Manchester United one day and wear the famous red jersey for ‘one last dance’.
The last few days have shown just how crazy the world of football is. Just a few weeks ago, Cristiano Ronaldo took to social media to slam ‘disrespectful’ media reports that claimed to have inside knowledge of the Portuguese’s transfer. Then out of nowhere, the 36 year old was benched for Juventus’ opening game of the season due to a possible move away from Turin. Media reports once again linked him to a host of clubs, particularly Manchester City, much to the heartbreak of the Old Trafford faithful. How could a player who spent his formative years at Manchester United join their rivals? It was disrespectful, disloyal and almost amounting to treason. Surely Ronaldo would want to protect his legacy at Manchester United? His old teammates such as Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand echoed the fans sentiments that a move of this nature was unlikely to materialize.
Also read: Premier League preview: A weekend of blockbuster clashes for domestic supremacy
However, the media reports continued to gain momentum and what was once speculation almost became an inevitable reality. Negotiations were underway until...they weren't. Suddenly, news channels reported that Manchester City had pulled out of the transfer and Manchester United had swooped in for an emotional reunion. Jubilation, excitement, nostalgia and a range of emotions flooded through amongst Manchester United fans as within hours, the club announced an agreement with Juventus for Ronaldo, pending a visa, medical and personal terms.
At 36, many would claim that Ronaldo is a ‘nostalgia’ signing. While the player is not the same as the one who left all those years ago, this version of Ronaldo is a more clinical and direct threat for opposition teams compared to the flashy winger who joined from Sporting Lisbon. His experience, attitude and winning mentality will do wonders for the likes of Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho who should look to learn from one of the greatest players in the history of the sport. More than anything, the feel good factor at Old Trafford has returned and Manchester United are surely a force to be reckoned with for every major trophy this season.
Jorge Mendes offers Manchester City the chance to sign Cristiano Ronaldo
(Football news) In a bizarre turn of events Manchester City have been offered the services of Cristiano Ronaldo. The Juventus talisman has been in the center of the transfer storm and there have been multiple reports that have confirmed Ronaldo’s desire to leave Juventus.
A few weeks ago there were heavy speculations that Carlo Ancelotti wanted to sign Ronaldo. The Real Madrid manager released a short statement on social media which said, “Cristiano is a Real Madrid legend and he has all my love and respect. I have never considered signing him. We look forward.”
Ronaldo himself in an Instagram post slammed the media for being disrespectful to him and the clubs involved in the rumours. The rumours were ignited when he was benched in Juventus' Serie A opening game against Udinese. Ronaldo did come off the bench and seemed to have scored a last minute winner before VAR ruled it out. The forward had himself requested to start on the bench as he was trying to engineer a move away from Turin.
Also read: Pep Guardiola set to leave Manchester City in 2023, aims to get national team job
One of the prominent clubs being linked with Cristiano Ronaldo was Manchester City. Super agent Jorge Mendes offered City the chance to sign the five time Ballon d’Or winner. Pep Guardiola's men were very keen to sign Harry Kane but the Englishman has confirmed that he is going to stay in North London this season. City lost Sergio Aguero to Barcelona and need a proper number 9.
A later report claims that city have rejected the offer as they are not willing to pay Juventus any transfer fee. The Juventus board is confident that Ronaldo will end up staying and will honor his contract that expires next season. Pep Guardiola wants to keep hold of Gabriel Jesus and is currently not involved in the negotiations with Ronaldo.
The transfer is going to be very awkward considering Ronaldo's lucrative history with Manchester United. In his 6 years at Old Trafford, Ronaldo won everything there was to win in terms of both individual and collective accolades. Playing for the other side of Manchester will definitely not go down well with the United faithfuls. It's been over a decade since Carlos Tevez crossed the divide when he signed for City. Manchester United recently returned the favour by signing Jadon Sancho.
Not to forget Ronaldo's battles with Pep Guardiola. The Portuguese maestro has caused Guardiola's Barcelona and Bayern Munich teams some trouble in the past. The two also had heated on field battles in El Clasicos. It will be interesting to see how the whole thing pans out as Ronaldo is not the kind of player Pep Guardiola would usually go for. Ronaldo coming back to England after so many years would be a treat nevertheless.
North West London derby; Nuno Espírito Santo's homecoming and other fixtures that make Gameweek 2 unmissable
(Football news) The Premier League is off to a flying start after an action packed first gameweek. Brentford stunning Arsenal on Premier League return and Tottenham Hotspur's statement win against Manchester City amidst the Harry Kane situation left fans in awe.
The big game of the week is the North West London derby between Chelsea and Arsenal. After a torrid last season at the Emirates, Mikel Arteta started their campaign in the worst possible fashion with a loss against newly promoted Brentford. Chelsea on the other hand stamped their authority on the Premier League with a 3-0 over Crystal Palace. After winning the Champions League last season, Thomas Tuchel has only gone on to strengthen the squad with the arrival of Romelu Lukaku who will be available for selection.
Arsenal will be without Alex Lacazette, Gabriel Magalhães, Eddie Nketiah and Thomas Partey while Willian and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are still doubtful. Ruben Loftus Cheek and Hakim Ziyech will not be available for Chelsea. The Blues are favourites going into the game but Arsenal did manage to do the double over them last season.
Also read: Bundesliga preview: Can anyone stop Bayern Munich from winning the league?
After losing to Tottenham Hotspur last week, Manchester City will host Norwich City. The defending champions will be keen to bounce back straight away after a lackluster performance in North London. After a 1 year absence from the top flight, Norwich City were crushed at home by Liverpool in the opening gameweek. Przemysław Płacheta, Sam Byram are notable absentees while Jordan Hugill, Onel Hernandez, Andrew Omobamidele remain doubtful for Daniel Farke. Pep Guardiola's team will be without England international Phil Foden while Ilkay Gundogan's availability is still unclear.
Liverpool will face Burnley at home after breezing past Norwich City last week. Mohammed Salah looked in fine touch in the first game and Jurgen Klopp will be hoping to see the same again. Burnley gave away a goal advantage against Brighton after conceding twice between the 73rd and 78th minute and ended up losing the game. Sean Dyche will be without Dale Stevens and Kevin Long. Liverpool are still without the injured Andy Robertson and concussed Curtis Jones while Jordan Henderson and Thiago lack match fitness. Liverpool will be eyeing another thumping victory but Burnley who ended Liverpool's 68 game unbeaten run at home could cause an upset once again.
Manchester United travel to Southampton after their dominating 5-1 win against Leeds. Southampton were leading 1-0 in their opening fixture against Everton at half time but conceded 3 second half goals. Ralph Hasenhüttl will have his full squad available for selection while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be without Marcus Rashford and Alex Telles. New signings Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho are likely to be on the bench. It is tough to see Southampton get anything from this game but one never knows in the Premier League.
Nuno Espírito Santo will return to the Molineux Stadium with his new club Tottenham. Wolves under new manager Bruno Lage suffered a narrow loss away at Leicester City. Spurs won against Manchester City at the weekend but suffered a first leg loss in the UEFA Conference League against Portuguese side Paços De Ferreira. Wolves have a long list of absentees with Pedro Neto, Daniel Podence, Jonny, Owen Otasowie, Yerson Mosquera and Hugo Bueno all set to miss the clash. As for Tottenham Hotspur, Ryan Sessegnon is still on the sidelines while Harry Kane and Tanguy Ndombele are doubtful. Wolves away has never been an easy fixture for Spurs but with Santo on their side they should clinch 3 points.
Sport TV Portugal confirms deal with Extreme E for debut season
In motorsports, Extreme E, the world's first electric SUV race series, has signed a new broadcast deal with Sport TV in Portugal. Sport TV, based in Lisbon, is broadcasting the entire Extreme E X Prix, as well as race highlights, on its linear channels in both English and Portuguese. The championship's spectacular race action is also available to watch live on Sport TV's digital platform.
Sport TV, with five premium channels and one sports news channel, is Portugal's main sports-oriented cable and satellite television network. The station's broadcast reach also extends to African countries such as Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, So Tomé and Principe, and Equatorial Guinea, where Portuguese is the official language.
As part of its agreement with the European Commission, Portugal, like many other countries, is under pressure to dramatically reduce harmful carbon emissions. One way it has done this is by expanding access to electric-powered public transportation, a move that has already helped to reduce CO2 levels substantially, primarily in urban areas.
Extreme E aspires to showcase electrification and performance while raising awareness, promoting action, and emphasizing the consequences of climate change through its top-tier broadcast package. By focusing on the environment through racing, consumers are encouraged to choose electric transportation as a way to decrease their personal carbon footprint and contribute to the shortening of the climate emergency.
“Extreme E is happy to be joining Sport TV's existing and wide-ranging sporting line-up in Portugal, as well as the Portuguese-speaking regions of Africa,” said Ali Russell, Chief Marketing Officer at Extreme E.
“Extreme E’s mission to race without trace whilst simultaneously raising awareness of climate issues, means it is vital that our series reaches as many audiences on as many platforms as possible throughout the world. Working with Sport TV not only provides viewers in Portugal and its African regions with a thrilling and innovative motorsport championship, but also helps convey the benefits of electrification through our brilliant and entertaining broadcast package.”
Extreme E is a competition that not only features short, swift, exciting wheel-to-wheel racing, but also has a larger purpose that revolves around the environment, which is regrettably under jeopardy. This year, the series travels to five different locations, all of which are afflicted by environmental challenges such as desertification, ice melting, plastic pollution, and rising carbon emissions.
Extreme E is a sustainable motorsport that uses a number of strategies to lower its carbon footprint, from racing electric SUVs to zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell car charging, but it goes even farther and wants to be net-carbon zero by the end of its inaugural season.
On the 28th and 29th of August, the Arctic X Prix will be held in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland.
Attacking midfielder Rafael Crivellaro extends stay at Chennaiyin FC
Chennai, Jul 16 (Football player) Attacking midfielder Rafael Crivellaro on Friday extended his stay at two-time ISL winners Chennaiyin FC on a multi-year contract.
The 32-year old Brazilian, who captained CFC in 2020-21, was ruled out for almost half the season after suffering an ankle injury during a game against ATK Mohun Bagan.
"I'm very happy to continue with Chennaiyin FC. Ever since I joined the club, I've had a special bond with the fans, the city and the staff. I love Chennai. For me, it always felt like home," he was quoted as saying in a release.
"Last season, injury kept me away, and now I can't wait to get back with the team and give it everything on the field," the Brazilian said on his return to the club for a third straight season.
Chennaiyin FC co-owner Vita Dani said Crivallero has been a key player for the team ever since he joined.
"Rafa has been a key player for us ever since he joined, and the statistics will tell you that. We missed him last season due to injury. We are overjoyed to be able to continue with the best player in the ISL within our setup," she added.
Also read: Harmanjot Khabra signs for Kerala Blasters FC
In his 27 ISL appearances for CFC, Crivellaro has been one of the most consistent performers in the league. With seven goals and eight assists in the 2019-20 season, he was instrumental in the club's runners-up finish.
CFC's recently-appointed coach Bozidar Bandovic hoped the Brazilian would come back stronger and better.
"Rafael Crivellaro is a very good player. He has shown his quality with his performances for the team in the past. We have extended his contract as we believe he will do the same this year as well.
"I'm sure he'll work hard to make a comeback after his injury. I hope he will come back stronger and better and help the team as he did before," he added.
Apart from having played in one of the world's most prestigious club competitions, the Europa League, Crivellaro was also part of Portuguese top-tier side Vitoria Guimaraes, which won Taca de Portugal (Portuguese Cup) in 2012-13.
News source: PTI
Extreme E expands audience reach with National Geographic in Latin America
London: In the latest motorsports news, Extreme E, the electric motorsport series has announced today that National Geographic will broadcast its magazine programmes - ‘How to Build a Race Car’, ‘The Electric Dream´and ‘Climate Changers’ - along with all of its debut season X Prixs on a delayed basis in its region of Latin America. The programmes will be televised in both Spanish and Portuguese.
In its debut season, this very entertaining ‘sport for purpose’ series has already got off to a rocking start with two amazing events – the first in AlUla, Saudi Arabia, in April followed by the most recent in Dakar, Senegal.
Millions of fans around the globe sat glued to their screens as motorsporting stars like Sara Price, Kyle LeDuc, Jamie Chadwick, Mattias Ekström, Molly Taylor and Johan Kristoffersson, took on the championship in their monster ODYSSEY 21 race cars on gravel, rocks and stunning sand dunes – not only with the objective of taking home the prestigious Extreme E trophies, but also with the goal to create awareness regarding the adverse effects of climate change on these fragile locations.
Alongwith the racing, the Extreme E team also implements Legacy Programmes within the areas it visits with a view to bring about positive change.
Ali Russell, Chief Marketing Officer at Extreme E said: “Extreme E is delighted to have secured National Geographic as a broadcaster. The channel is famed for its brilliant and fascinating documentaries on science, adventure, nature and environmental topics, all of which are subjects close to the heart of our championship.
“As well as our great racing, Extreme E is in essence, a ground-breaking adventure for all of us. I believe that the stories behind the series, the people involved, our legacy projects and even the history of our floating centrepiece, the St. Helena, will delight and inspire National Geographic’s audiences. Coupled with our on-going scientific research into the effects of climate change and what can be done to lessen the terrible damage that its causing, makes for a broadcast that is as captivating as it is eye-opening and we want to share this with as many people as possible.”
Following the first two X Prixs in Saudi Arabia (3-4 April) and Senegal (29-30 May), Extreme E now moves on to Greenland (28-29 August) with the last two race venues to be confirmed. By holding races in locations that are suffering due to the environmental crisis, such as deserts and the Arctic, the objective is to increase viewers' interest and awareness in environmental issues.
Top 5 football transfer speculation that you should keep an eye on
It’s that time of the year again when social media is buzzing with transfer news, rumors and leaked deals. If you’re like me and try to keep yourself updated with the latest transfer news, you would know it's a hard task. Every ITK (In the know) social account claims to have inside sources revealing the most high profile transfers, all eyes are on Fabrizio Romano’s twitter handle for that much awaited ‘Here we go!’ and official confirmation of Man City buying their fourth choice full back for another 50 million pounds is an inevitable reality. Some things never change.
A little birdie has given us a heads up about the upcoming transfer deals that could soon become a reality and we thought it’s best for you to know first! Here are the top 5 transfers that could happen this summer.
Jadon Sancho to Manchester United
They say good things happen to those who wait, and Manchester United fans have been really patient in the last few years. The club’s trophy room may be collecting dust, having not one a single piece of silverware since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has taken over but they continue to be linked to every world class player out there. Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund is one of them, who was strongly linked with a move to the English giants last year. While Dortmund stood their ground and refused to budge on their asking price, Manchester United were determined not to overpay for one of the hottest talents in world football. This time however, the move seems more likely with Dortmund reducing their asking price and Man Utd looking to make amends with their fans after the disastrous Super League debacle. Certainly a transfer worth keeping an eye on.
Harry Kane to Manchester City
It’s fair to say that Harry Kane deserves better. As one of the most prolific strikers in the game, Kane has nothing to show for it as Tottenham failed to secure any silverware again this year. At 27 years of age, Kane is in the prime years of his footballing career and deserves to set his ambitions high in a team that can regularly compete for trophies. Manchester City is one such destination, the champions of England have offloaded the club’s best ever goalscorer in Sergio Aguero and certainly have the finances to make a deal of this sort a reality. Tottenham’s chairman Daniel Levy has a reputation for being notoriously difficult to deal with, but if Harry Kane forces a transfer and Manchester City makes an offer that cannot be refused, the deal is very much possible.
Cristiano Ronaldo to PSG/Manchester United
Ronaldo may be 37 years old, but as the popular saying goes “Form is temporary, class is permanent” and it has never been more applicable in this case. As one of the greatest players to have ever played the sport, Ronaldo’s transfer will always generate headlines with the Portuguese being rumored for a romantic return back to Manchester United. Most fans at Old Trafford would welcome the return of their hero with open arms as the player led the club to one of it’s most successful periods in history. It does seem like a long short as the deal would make little financial sense for a player who is already in the twilight of his career. The other possibility is Paris St-Germain which already boasts an attack featuring Neymar and Mbappe, two of the best players in the world. The inclusion of Ronaldo in this star studded lineup will definitely send shivers down the spine of Europe’s elite.
Erling Haaland with any rich club that can afford him
When you’re managed by Mino Raiola, the possibility of a transfer is never far away. The 20 year old is already one of the best strikers in the world, having scored 57 goals in 59 appearances for Borussia Dortmund. There is no football club in the world who does not want the prolific Norweigan but the German club is in no pressure to sell, having tied their prized asset with a contract until 2024. However, Dortmund have the infamous reputation of selling their biggest stars in their prime and the COVID-19 pandemic might force the club to sell Haaland if a sizable offer is made, especially considering a 75 million euro release clause in Haaland’s contract will be activated 12 months later.
Romelu Lukaku to Chelsea
Newly crowned champions of Europe Chelsea have already set their sights on next season and have identified Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku as the ideal replacement for Timo Werner, who has failed to make an impact in his maiden season in England. It’s a well known fact that Inter Milan are struggling financially and the Italian giants could be forced to let Lukaku leave if an irresistible offer is made. Having spent 220 million pounds in last year's transfer window, the London based club could have an even bigger transfer kitty with their recent accomplishments in Europe and could possibly sign a player they let go of back in 2014.
Great infrastructure, qualified coaches and exposure is key for development at the grassroot level
Sports have always played an important role in uniting the community. In a digital era of smartphones and social media, sports at the grassroot level not only provides some much needed physical activity for children but also paves the way for a thriving sports ecosystem for the future.
In an exclusive interview with SPOGO, Arnold Wilson the Business Head of India On Track spoke about what it takes to make India a sporting nation, the challenges faced at the grassroot level, adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic, seeing more Indians compete at the highest level and his future goals.
You have been associated with India on Track for almost 7 years, in your experience what does India as a country need to become a sporting nation?
There are many things that are needed for our nation to be inclined towards sports. For starters, changing the thought process of parents and making them look at sports as an equally important factor as education by emphasizing the effects of sport on a child’s mental well being and overall health. Sports prepare children for the world because it involves discipline, commitment, winning and more importantly it teaches them how to overcome losing. Hence sports should not be considered as an add on or only a hobby class. To make India a sporting nation, multiple factors need to come together simultaneously. One of them is accessible sports infrastructure, second is to have coaches who can train at the grassroot level, academy level and elite level and the third is exposure. Exposure to playing and competing at a very young age by participating in tournaments within your communities to competing at the highest level is extremely important in order to represent India at the global level. In Argentina, kids start participating in football baby leagues before the age of 5 years, so you can imagine how many competitive games they’ve played by the time they represent their country in the Under 17 age category. The most critical part is to create enough and more grassroot opportunities for children. Opportunities for the kids to play, practice and train continuously is fundamental to becoming a sporting nation. It’s a lot of things and it’s difficult to put in one answer.
What are the different types of grassroot training programmes that you have been a part of?
We started with Arsenal Soccer Schools after which we worked with the NBA to create & launch NBA Basketball School in India. The NBA Basketball School philosophy is to share the game of basketball with young athletes across the world by teaching skills, values, and wellness in a positive and fun environment. The holistic approach is intended to strengthen the culture of youth basketball, teach life lessons, and empower young athletes to succeed both on and off the court. We have also worked with Prakash Padukone Badminton Schools and since the last 3 years we’ve been running LaLiga Football Schools across the country. We also have an International Football Development Programme where we partner with a Portuguese top division football club called G.D Estoril Praia and we have been sending talented children to Lisbon to train at the club and become part of the youth academy system. It gives them good exposure to football at the highest level and we also take care of their stay and food along with education from a school in Estoril. We also run an extensive grassroots development programme for Major League Baseball in India. Lastly, we successfully ran the inaugural ISL Children’s League in Kolkata which had 100 schools and clubs participate with an approximate attendance of 4000 students playing in the 4 month league across 4 age groups.
What are the world class training and condition techniques that India on Track implements in their grassroot initiatives?
When we partner with the NBA or LaLiga, the technical delivery is completely led by our global partners since they are market leaders in terms of their understanding of the sport and how these development programs are supposed to run. Both NBA and LaLiga have a large global network running various training programmes in many different geographies. In order to ensure the programme is delivered as per International standards, LaLiga & NBA recommend experienced licensed coaches who are part of the partner’s global network ensuring the technical product is never compromised. All of LaLiga’s coaches are UEFA license holders, these coaching licences are mandated by UEFA, the official governing body of European football. We also have national and regional ‘Train the Trainer’ programmes where coaches learn the training methodologies of LaLiga Football Schools & NBA Basketball School to ensure the quality of the training program is consistent across the country. It’s an extremely strong and robust system in place. As an organization we give utmost priority to the safety, security and comfort of the children and we have a strict code of conduct not just for the coaches but also the children and parents. Our curriculums are designed as age appropriate training, with clearly defined student to coach ratio. Lastly, all team members, coaches and managers go through a safeguarding training workshop before they start working directly with children.
In a cricket crazy country like India, how challenging has it been to promote sports such as football, basketball and badminton at the grassroot level?
Promoting sports in India is challenging for various reasons, but primarily parents want to ensure their children completely focus on education to ensure their future is secured. Sports is often considered as a distraction (especially around the time of examinations) with the exception of cricket because of the strong career path the sport has to offer in India. However, a trend that we have noticed in the past 5 years is that parents are now far more open to sports other than cricket. Some parents have started to look at sports as an important aspect for holistic development, some look at it as a hobby, a way children can enjoy themselves without expecting it to be a career option. These are positive indications of a changing mindset of parents, which is critical for the future of grassroots development in India.
There are several onground issues such as lack of proper training facilities, availability of these facilities, pricing structure, timing & days of the training sessions etc. Every challenge is unique in its own way depending on the partner school, catchment area, city etc hence we have to ensure the solution is customized to that specific challenge because all grassroots programmes are distinctively different from the other. By converting more schools to adopt our grassroots programs, the parents automatically come along. Even though we live in a cricket crazy country, there is enough room for everyone.
How are you/ India on Track adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic to continue the work at the grassroot level?
In mid March last year, 10 days before the government introduced the lockdown, we had already taken a call to shut our centers because safety of the children is of the utmost importance. Before the lockdown, we had 70 centers across 13 states in approximately 17 cities and we were training over 4000 children at the time. Since all programmes were shut, we started online training sessions in a similar format to the on ground sessions. Each batch would have 20 to 25 children with two coaches for a duration of 60 minutes. We came up with session plans by working very closely with our partners such as LaLiga and NBA that were specifically designed for children to train by themselves in a small space available with or without having a ball. The objective is to keep children engaged while also prioritizing their safety. We also created different marketing campaigns and approached more than a thousand schools about the online programs and offered free workshops for the students. Our pricing was very affordable at an average cost of Rs 100 per session; we offered multiple packages that included 4 or 12 group sessions along with 1 on 1 training packages.
Post June - July, the participation numbers started to dip due to the commencement of online schooling so we had to re-innovate and created the India On Track Online Sports Festival. The first edition was held in August and was a week-long calendar of activities with participation from NBA Basketball School, LaLiga Football Schools, Major League Baseball First Pitch and Prakash Padukone Badminton Schools. Special sessions held with the likes of Princepal Singh (NBA Academy graduate) who conducted a masterclass training session followed by an informative session. Similarly we had LaLiga Canada's Technical Director, Diego Gutierrez lead a session on the importance of mental health and nutrition. We had industry experts from different parts of America, Spain, China, UAE, Canana who conducted special informative and engaging sessions for our students. In May this year we will host the 3rd edition of the online sports festival. We also got the parents engaged by hosting special sessions for Father’s day, Mother’s day, Women’s day and even birthday celebrations to keep the spirits up.
Which are the top sporting entities that India on Track have been associated with to redefine sports and philosophy?
We have been associated with the LaLiga, NBA, Major League Baseball, we also partner with Roland Garros, not specifically for work at the grassroot level but we run various digital initiatives for them. We also run the International Football Development Program with G.D. Estoril Praia. Over the last 4 years we’ve worked closely with Star Sports to create and execute various on ground experiences for their global partnerships and Indian properties. Since the inception of the Indian Super League we worked very closely with the Pune franchise running major portfolios for the first 3 years. I ran the grassroots initiatives of FC Pune City which is where I got the opportunity to be part of Premier League’s Premier Skills coaching courses. These are only a few of India On Track’s associations with global sporting entities that I’ve been directly involved with.
What would it take to raise the standard of football and basketball and see more Indian athletes compete at the highest level?
It would be great if we have a structured national basketball league for men and women that has a structured grassroots system integrated as a participation criteria. With regards to football at the highest level, it’s important to figure out the merger between the I-League and Indian Super League but at the grass root level, it’s critical that the teams with a presence at all the levels of the I-League or ISL are ensuring they have a strong grassroots system in place. It’s a pyramid structure where the base being a vast grassroots programme on top of which you can build a youth academy format which feeds into the elite training that eventually contributes to creating the reserve team. This should be the ideal structure that should be followed but implementing this is dependent on the funding and the money behind the league and the teams. It’s easier said than done because ISL teams are struggling financially and the objective is to save money to buy players who can make an immediate impact because survival is the priority. Multiple ISL teams have either changed ownerships and have even changed cities due to financial issues, hence survival will always be a bigger priority than investment in the grassroot. Creating a pyramid structure with a strong grassroots system is critical because without that, clubs will be forced to rely on hotbeds of talent and won’t be able to connect with their own community and develop local footballers.
What is your goal in terms of development at the grassroot level? What do you hope to achieve in the future?
I want to be a part of creating the complete pyramid structure which has a strong grassroots system, youth academy centres and elite training programmes. But purely looking at grassroots development I want to partner with thousands of schools across the country and explain to parents that sports keeps children mentally healthy and prepares them with key life lessons at a very young age. Today, your passion for sports can be turned into a viable career option. There are plenty of opportunities to pursue your dreams and make a living out of it. The messaging has to be very clear to parents, schools and of course children.
Through our existing programmes we’ve managed to now create development centres that basically host the top talented students coming out of the grassroots programmes. Students from these development centres have now started to compete and gain exposure at a local level such as playing in Mumbai District Football Association. Students across our LaLiga Football Schools training programmes get scholarship opportunities to train with a LaLiga club, enabling them to get exposure at an International level. Similarly we hope to create a similar format for students training in the NBA Basketball School programme where they get exposure training in the NBA Academy.
In order to tap into a larger talent pool we want to work closely with schools and governments. We are currently running a 2000 students government project in Tripura out of which 400 talented students will be training at Development Centers. We are excited about the talent we will discover as most of them are tribal kids and are very eager to learn. We hope that more such students progress from one level to another and it’s a model that others can adopt. I also want to be connected with clubs, federations and top academies like Reliance Foundation which is the gold standard of a training academy in India. We are building a network so that talent can move into the space they should be and expand the network Internationally in the longer run.