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).
Also Read : I am not racist: Quinton de Kock says fine with taking knee, available to play for SA
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.