Category: Sport

Cristiano Ronaldo Deserves To Win Ballon D’Or- Blaise Matuidi

Juventus midfielder Blaise Matuidi believes team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo deserves to win the Ballon d’Or.

Ronaldo, 33, is a contender to win the individual honour for a record sixth time after leading Real Madrid to a third straight Champions League crown earlier this year.

The superstar forward made the move to Juventus in July and team-mate Matuidi backed Ronaldo to win the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

“Cristiano Ronaldo deserves to win it,” he told Sky Sport Italia.

“He always wants to win and that makes the difference.”

With Ronaldo leading the way, Juve have made a strong start to the season, sitting eight points clear atop the Serie A and moving into the Champions League knockout round.

Matuidi is pleased with how Massimiliano Allegri’s men have performed in Europe, aside from their shock loss to Manchester United earlier this month.

“In Champions League we are doing well,” he said.

“We had some good matches and we only stopped against Manchester United because we didn’t score as many goals as we should.”

Juventus’ next outing sees them make the trip to Fiorentina on Saturday.

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FIFA RANKING:SUPER EAGLES RETAIN 44TH POSITION NOW 4TH IN AFRICA

Super-Eagles2-653x365Super Eagles of Nigeria maintained their 44th position but dropped to fourth in Africa in the latest FIFA World Ranking released on Thursday.

The Super Eagles are currently on 1,427 points and will hope to improve on their position when the next FIFA World Ranking is released.

The three-time African Champions  played out a draw in the two matches they played in November which has no doubt impacted on their FIFA Ranking position in the world and continent.They were held to a 1-1 draw by the Bafana Bafana of South Africa in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying fixture at the FNB Stadium, Johannesburg and also played out a 0-0 draw in a friendly fixture against Cranes of Uganda at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba.

The Teranga Lions of Senegal are now ranked the number one team in Africa having displaced Tunisia from the number-one position. Both are ranked 23rd and 26th respectively in the world.

The big climbers in the ranking include the African quintet of Mozambique (117th, up 5), Angola (125th, up 5), Sudan (127th, up 8), Comoros (143rd, up 5) and Gambia (166th, up 7). The rise of Kosovo (131st, up 6) was also notable as it took them to their highest FiFA Ranking position to date.

Belgium remain top in the latest FIFA World Ranking, although the gap between the Red Devils, France (2nd, unchanged) and Brazil (3rd, unchanged) has narrowed over the past month.

The next release of the FIFA World Ranking is scheduled for December 20.

Messi reveals what he really thinks of Ousmane Dembele

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The Catalans edged past the Dutch side with a 2-1 win. Messi and Gerard Pique were both on the score sheet to seal another three points.

Dembele impressed, despite his apparently fractured relationship with Ernesto Valverde.

Speaking after the clash, Messi said:

“He played a great game Ousmane, like the whole team.

“We won and we’re going with the goal accomplished.”

Issues with Dembele escalated over the international break.

His representatives reportedly held talks with Barca bigwigs regarding his ongoing issues in Catalonia.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has been linked with a swoop as uncertainty abounds.

Dembele was drafted in to replace Neymar in 2017 but he’s had a complicated Nou Camp career to date.

Valverde dropped Dembele from his match-day squad for Barca’s recent clash with Real Betis on November 10.

The France star missed training with a stomach bug although reports suggested he had fallen out with Valverde.

Despite rumours of a rift between player and manager, his form has been solid. The attacker has netted six goals and chipped in with two assists in all competitions.

Dembele’s agent – Moussa Sissoko – has emphatically denied claims his client is looking for a move. “There is no doubt about his future at all,” Sissoko said.

“Ousmane continues to work, he is in a big club and Valverde loves him, and he is also in the national team and (Didier) Deschamps continues to trust him.” Messi’s goal made it 106 in the Champions League.

That means he now has one more than arch rival Cristiano Ronaldo. The Argentina international said he was delighted to hit the milestone.

“I am very happy for that statistic and happy for the result we have achieved,” he said.

Lionel Messi sets another record Ronaldo will never break

Lionel Messi reached another career milestone last night as he helped Barcelona beat PSV 2-1 and confirm their place in the UEFA Champions League round of 16.

The Spanish Champions were under heavy pressure by the home side but ‘La Pulga’ stepped up to score a massive goal for Los Blaugranas before Gerard Pique second the second from a Messi assist.

Messi holds all goalscoring records for Barcelona, and this one will surely stand for a long time.

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The Argentine ace gave Barcelona the lead against PSV right after the 60-minute mark, reassuring the team’s position as the best in Group B. What really stands out is that Messi accomplished yet one more record…one that Cristiano Ronaldo will no longer be able to steal away from him.

Messi scored his 106th goal for Barcelona in UEFA Champions League games, becoming the player with the most goals for a single club in tournament history. Cristiano Ronaldo had scored 105 during his time at Real Madrid, giving him the lead before this season began.

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Added to that, Barcelona’s ace is also the top scorer in Group Stage games in this competition, with 66 goals.

Fans of Cristiano Ronaldo may not be happy with the latest feat of Lionel Messi as they will feel he set the new record because he has refused to change clubs and prove himself.

N’Golo Kante has a tendency to roam out of position- Maurizio Sarri

Maurizio_kanteChelsea manager Maurizio Sarri, has turned his sights on to N’Golo Kanté just days after his side’s first defeat of the Premier League season, complaining the World Cup winner roamed out of position too much during Saturday’s 3-1 loss to Spurs.

Sarri’s 18-game unbeaten start to competitive action with Chelsea was ended by Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley and the Italian wants to see a reaction after rebuking Kanté for roaming too much.

Kanté won two Premier League titles, with Leicester City and Chelsea, playing in central midfield, but has been deployed out of position on the right to accommodate Italy playmaker Jorginho in Sarri’s chosen style.

The 27-year-old signed a new five-year contract just last week and was Professional Footballers’ Association and Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year in 2017.

Speaking ahead of Thursday’s Europa League Group L game with Greece’s PAOK, Sarri said: “I want to play as a centre midfielder with a very technical player. For me the centre midfielder is Jorginho or [Cesc] Fabregas.

“I don’t want Kanté in this position. Kanté in the last match wanted to solve the match after the first 15 minutes, but in the wrong way. He lost the position, he attacked too much the other box. And I think this one is not one of the best characteristics of Kanté . It was only a reaction to the difficulties.”

Sarri has encouraged Kanté to get forward in matches and his latest comments may appear to be a contradiction.

But Sarri explained there is a time and place for Kanté to attack.

“Kanté has to stay near to Jorginho, especially when the ball is on the other side,” Sarri added.

“It depends on the action. If the ball is on the left, we have [Marcos] Alonso, [Eden] Hazard, [Mateo] Kovacic, [Ross] Barkley, so in that situation he has to stay very close to Jorginho.”

Sarri described Chelsea’s performance against Spurs as “a match without determination”.

He wants to see an immediate reaction to the defeat, against PAOK and in Sunday’s Premier League game with Fulham, after discussing the Spurs performance with his players.

Chelsea are already through to the Europa League last 32 and need a point to win Group L with one match to go.

“I have a meeting of five or 10 minutes with the individuals, individual meetings with the players,” he added. “The targets are very clear in my mind: in the short period, to win something. And in the long period, to become the best team in Europe. I want to see we learned our lessons.”

Hazard is out with an ankle injury sustained against Spurs, but should be back to face Fulham.

Sarri said: “I am worried because 25 days ago he had a back injury. Now an ankle. He has lost a lot of training. It’s normal at the moment he isn’t at the top of his physical condition.”

Striker Olivier Giroud says Chelsea are determined to show their strength against PAOK, who they beat 1-0 in Greece in September.

He added: “The manager was not happy at all with our performance. It’s our first defeat this season, it has been hard to accept it. We want to bounce back tomorrow in the Europa League and after in the game against Fulham.

“We just want to make it right in the next game.”

Tuchel boast to take home advantage on Liverpool

Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel praised Jurgen Klopp for developing his Liverpool “machine”, but he hopes his side can capitalise on their frailties away from home.

The Premier League giants make the trip to the Parc des Princes on Wednesday for what is a crucial clash in Group C of the Champions League.

xherdan-shaqiri-liverpool_qn4nfz0zgij71edicipwn7o1pNapoli (six points) and Liverpool (six) are the top two, but only narrowly ahead of PSG (five) and Red Star Belgrade (four) with two games remaining.

Klopp’s side have endured struggles away in Europe recently – losing four straight matches on the road – and while Tuchel praised his fellow German, he knows his team can make the most of home advantage.


“I’m not surprised by their performance overall. Jurgen does an unbelievable job, he is an unbelievable trainer and you can see his input and his achievement in three and a half years,” Tuchel told a news conference.

“He has lost only one key player I think, [Philippe] Coutinho, and spent an awful lot of money. He did an awfully good job to put this machine on the pitch every three days.


“At the same time we have the feeling that in away games we can get it and it’s proven. I’m pretty sure it will be a different Liverpool side than in Belgrade [when the Reds lost 2-0 earlier this month].

“Not like in terms of who plays, in the mental aspect, maybe it can happen, you feel like five per cent too sure that you’re the better side, and the first shot is in from the other side.img_20181128_100612_5361990676523.jpg

“It can be a dynamic like this but we feel also confident that we have the weapons and we have the talent and we also have the quality and the mentality to get our moments in the game.”

Former Barcelona, Manchester United boss, Louis Van Gaal tags Neymar ‘not good’

neymar-psg-napoli-uefa-champions-league-06112018_1gitqhhpy5m0b1umlam56mf2noThe former Barca boss doesn’t believe the La Liga giants should bring the Brazilian star back into the fold until he becomes a “team player”, as Neymar returning to Barcelona would not be a good move for the La Liga giants because he isn’t a “team player”, according to Louis van Gaal.

As reported earlier this month, the Brazil international could make a shock return to Camp Nou from Paris Saint-Germain.

Ousmane Dembele wanting out of the Spanish club could also help facilitate the 26-year-old’s return to the Catalan giants.

And while Barcelona are keen to bring Neymar back under the right circumstances, former club boss Van Gaal feels re-signing Neymar would be a bad move for the La Liga club.

“I think it’s not good for Barcelona, but that’s my opinion. Neymar is still a young player who can continue to develop. He must first learn to be a team player. Neymar is too individualistic, which is why I think Barcelona should be vigilant before deciding to get him back,” the Dutchman told La Porteria de Beteve.

Neymar scored 105 goals in 186 games for Barca before leaving for PSG for a world-record transfer fee of €222 million (£195m/$260m).

He is now in his second season with the French outfit, having seen his first cut short through injury. The Paris club look set to roll to another Ligue 1 title, having opened up a 15-point gap at the top of the table with Neymar scoring 10 times and adding five assists in 14 league matches so far.

Their Champions League campaign has not gone as smoothly and the French club face a crucial clash with Liverpool on Wednesday as they continue to chase an elusive European title.

Neymar scored a brilliant hat-trick in a 6-1 win over Red Star Belgrade but has been held silent in the club’s three other Champions League outings, a 3-2 loss to Liverpool and two draws with Serie A outfit Napoli.

A win on Wednesday would put PSG in prime position to advance from Group C, but the club sit a point back of both Napoli and Liverpool heading into matchday five.

PSG will return to the friendly confines of league play at the weekend, with a fixture at Bordeaux set to open up their December slate.

Cristiano Ronaldo breaks another Champions League record

Cristiano Ronaldo has become the first player to reach 100 wins in the Champions League, beating old rival Lionel Messi to the landmark.

A 1-0 win for Juventus at home to Valencia on Tuesday saw the Serie A side book their place in the last 16 for the fifth year in a row, setting a club record.

And it was a match to remember for Ronaldo as the Portugal superstar racked up his 100th victory in a competition he has won five times in his career.

Former Manchester United and Real Madrid star Ronaldo won the competition at both clubs, collecting the trophy in each of the last three seasons for the LaLiga giants.

I will push city all the way Shaqiri vows

Xherdan Shaqiri is adamant Liverpool will push Manchester City all the way in a Premier League title challenge this season.

The Reds showed great potential at times during 2017-18, playing expansive, entertaining football to please the neutrals, but their defensive shortcomings ultimately contributed to only just scraping a fourth-placed finish.pep-klopp

However, this term they have been far more solid at the back, their five goals conceded the joint-lowest alongside City and six fewer than the next best defence.

A commendable 3-0 win at Watford on Saturday continued their unbeaten start to the season and left them with 33 points, their highest ever tally after 13 matches of a Premier League campaign.1543081023-Man-City-Liverpool-cruise-as-Man-Utd-stumble-once-more-AP

Although they remain two points adrift of City, Shaqiri is convinced Liverpool have what it takes to dethrone the champions.

“We’re going to be there until the end,” the Switzerland international told reporters. “We don’t have to look to Man City, we just have to look to ourselves.

“We just have to go from game to game and not look at where we might be at the end of the season.xherdan-shaqiri-liverpool_qn4nfz0zgij71edicipwn7o1p

“When you win games like this, you feel that you’re going to fight to the end for a lot of things. So, I think we just have to keep going, keep working hard, and keep winning.

“We are very strong at the back. Even when Joe Gomez is not playing we have Dejan Lovren, a very good player who is very good in the air and who can play football.

“We played very well defensively [against Watford] and it’s nice to have this [points] record for the club because it gives you more confidence in the next games.”

How Liverpool is helping Manchester City Guardiola speaks

pep-kloppPep Guardiola believes Manchester City could be spurred to even greater heights by the prospect of Liverpool breathing down their necks all season.

City won the Premier League title with an unprecedented 100 points last season, 19 points clear of their nearest rivals, and have kicked off their title defence with 11 wins and two draws from 13 games, scoring 35 goals and conceding just five.

Liverpool are enjoying their best ever start to a Premier League campaign – they are also unbeaten and have conceded just five goals – but are still two points adrift of the defending champions.940710_1

They kept up the pressure on the leaders with a 2-0 win at Watford as City won 4-0 against West Ham on Saturday, and Guardiola believes that could serve to keep his players on their toes and ward off any complacency that could set-in after their record-breaking season.

The Catalan has been in this position before, when his Barcelona team followed up a treble-winning campaign in 2008-09 by romping to the Primera Division title with 99 points a year later.

Real Madrid, then coached by Manuel Pellegrini, were runners-up that season with 96 points, and Guardiola says his current squad could benefit from Liverpool’s challenge in the same way his former Barca squad reacted to Madrid’s persistence.

“I remember perfectly that season how tough it was, because more than the 96 points [they won], Madrid, with Manuel, played incredibly good. That’s why it was so nice, because we did the 99 points [after] we had won the treble with Barcelona.pep-klopp

“That’s why we maintained that level, 99 points. It was good, we did 99 points because someone from behind pushed us, and we knew that if we drop points Madrid is going to win the title.

“That’s why it helped us. It’s quite similar with (Rafael) Nadal, (Roger)Federer and (Novak) Djokovic, no? We need it as athletes, in sport, they (the players) knew, I didn’t tell them but they knew how strong Liverpool are, and they know that we can’t drop points because if we do then Liverpool is going to win the league.

“We can say Liverpool or Chelsea, or Tottenham and Arsenal as well. To compete we need good opponents close [to us] and of course this season we have it, here and in Europe.”

Guardiola spent pre-season and the first few weeks of the campaign warning his players of the dangers of complacency, having swept all before them on the domestic front last term.

Yet City’s results and performances so far this season have convinced him that that particular pit-fall has not been an issue for his players, so far at least.

The Catalan is keen, however, to ensure standards remain high and that was a running theme of his press conference following Saturday’s game at the London Stadium.

City, for example, lead 3-0 at the break but he insists he told his players that they had plenty of room for improvement in the second half.

“By explaining what was the reality of the first half,” he said when asked how he kept his players motivated.

“When we analyse 0-4, guys I am the happiest guy in the world, no complaints, but we have the duty to analyse how the game was, how we did things well and other things we have to improve. If you don’t, if you think, ‘Ok 0-4 is perfect’, around the corner is a defeat.”

And Guardiola did not hesitate when asked what is the biggest risk that faces his side this season: “The biggest risk is to believe that we cannot do better.

“You can improve, today we saw it because we were lucky in some moments. They had two or three chances in the last four minutes before half-time, we conceded corners more than ever. We were a little bit less stable, I think because of the international break. From my experience, that always happens.”

Yet while Guardiola is willing to blame a less “stable” performance on the international fixtures, his players know they are rarely afforded any excuses.

“Riyad [Mahrez] knows he has to play good or [Raheem] Sterling will play, and Sterling knows has to play good, if not then Riyad plays,” Guardiola said in another response that spilled over into the topic of complacency. “The level is there. It’s the only way to compete after 100 points, if you want to fight for four competitions, or at least be there. When the team behaves in that way, you don’t have regrets.”

And he hammered the point home when discussing Leroy Sane’s return to the team after a difficult start to the season: “When you achieve something, there is always another one in front of the door. That is the reason why we are here, to let them see that because we have more experience. We have lived that situation before. My old manager taught me that when I was a player, like Sane, I felt that and I try to help them. If they get it, they get it. If they don’t, it will be their problem!”

River Plate vs Boca Juniors: Copa Libertadores final postponed AGAIN!

1543085734_964994_1543102618_noticia_normalThe Copa Libertadores final second-leg between Boca Juniors and River Plate was postponed for a second time on Sunday.

South American football’s governing body CONMEBOL made the decision after a request from Boca to delay the game following an attack on their team bus by River fans on Saturday.skysports-copa-final-copa-libertadores_4499601

The game was originally due to take place on Saturday, but CONMEBOL eventually agreed to postpone the game for 24 hours after Boca players, including captain Pablo Perez, were injured in the attack.

However, Boca argued on Sunday that more time was needed before the game could take place, citing the need to play in what they described as equal conditions.boca-juniors-bus_1jqqvibsy3xnw1hvbooe08hme1

CONMEBOL has agreed to Boca’s request, writing on its official Twitter feed: “The President and the Council of CONMEBOL decided on the morning of this Sunday the postponement of the return party of the final of CONMEBOL Libertadores 2018 with the aim of preserving sports equality.”skysports-boca-juniors-pablo-perez_4499554

Fans had already begun filling El Monumental, River’s stadium that was due to host the second leg, when the decision was made to postpone it.

CONMEBOL has also confirmed a new date for the game will be decided at a meeting between the Boca and River presidents on Tuesday.Soccer-Football-Copa-Libertadores-Final-Second-leg-River-Plate-v-Boca-Juniors

Dembele leaving Barcelona for Neymar’s return

FBL-EUR-C1-BARCELONA-PSVOusmane Dembele has asked Barcelona to allow him to leave the club in the January transfer window, Goal understands, and his exit could help facilitate Neymar’s shock return.

The 21-year-old has struggled to adapt to life at Barca following his €105 million (£93m/$120m) move from Dortmund in 2017 and has now requested the board sanction a sale when the transfer window reopens in the winter.

As reported by Goal in October, the Liga champions were already looking at offloading Dembele and will be open to offers for the forward in January.

Ernesto Valverde’s side are planning to include Dembele in any potential deal for PSG forward Neymar, with the Catalan giants keen to bring back the Brazilian, who wants to push through a return to Camp Nou.

Indeed, preliminary discussions over an offer in the New Year for the 26-year-old that would include Dembele and a substantial cash fee have already taken place.

Premier League clubs are likely to also be interested in the latest developments regarding Dembele’s future, with press reports having linked Liverpool with a move for the World Cup winner.ousmane-dembele-barcelona-2018-19_1cupox6ys55t11sz0dxe1u2rr6

There is, however, no concrete interest from Jurgen Klopp’s side at this stage, with Barca having confirmed that there has been no approach from Anfield for the player.

Dembele has seen his attitude called into question in recent weeks, with Spanish newspaper AS having reported that the Frenchman had missed a training session following an all-night video game session with friends.

His professionalism and diet have also been criticised – a source has previously told Goal about the presence of countless fast food cartons at his house, while he apparently threw away a healthy fish dish that had been prepared for him by his chef.barcelona-v-real-sociedad-la-liga-5b583ee77134f65cd900000e

The forward was omitted from Barca’s matchday squad for the recent 4-3 defeat to Real Betis, although both his agent and club officials claimed that was due to illness, rather than a form of punishment.

Injuries haven’t helped Dembele’s attempts to properly settle into life at Camp Nou, with a serious hamstring problem having hampered his first season at the club.

The France international’s team-mates at Barca have offered their support to the 21-year-old in what is now his second season at the club, and he was even on the scoresheet in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid.FBL-EUR-C1-BARCELONA-PSV

That has not stopped him seeking an exit, however, and it now seems likely that, barring a turnaround in his and the club’s circumstances in the near future, he’ll be moved on in January.

Dembele has made seven starts in La Liga this season, his last coming in the 1-1 draw with Athletic at the end of September, and he has often had to play second fiddle to the likes of Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Philippe Coutinho.

I might leave Chelsea at end of season- Hazard

Chelsea star Eden Hazard admitted it was possible he would leave the club at the end of the season.

Hazard, now in his seventh season at Stamford Bridge, has persistently been linked with a move to LaLiga giants Real Madrid.

The Belgium international, who is contracted until 2020, said he may make a move at the end of the campaign, but he could yet extend his stay at Chelsea.

“For now I’m staying at Chelsea,” Hazard told Canal+ on Sunday.

“I have one year left in June. If I don’t extend, it is possible. I can’t see myself leaving in January. I wouldn’t do that to the club, to the fans.

“Next summer it’s a possibility, but it’s also possible that I spend the rest of my career at Chelsea.”

While Madrid have been strongly linked to Hazard, a move to Paris Saint-Germain has also been mooted previously.

But the former Lille attacker ruled out a move to the Ligue 1 champions, saying: “There has been contact in the past with PSG but I haven’t been tempted.

“If I have to go back to France one day, it would be to Lille. But today, there is no chance that I’ll come back to the French league.”

LaLiga: Atletico to field makeshift defence against Barcelona

Atletico Madrid have been handed mixed news on the injury front ahead of Saturday’s LaLiga clash with Barcelona.

The capital club released an injury update on Friday declaring Lucas Hernandez, Thomas Lemar, Stefan Savic, Koke and Diego Costa were all fit for the visit of Ernesto Valverde’s table-toppers.

Diego Godin and fellow Uruguay international Jose Gimenez, both of whom are carrying injuries, were not mentioned, however, meaning they are likely to miss the game.

Savic and Lucas could line up in central defence and be tasked with keeping out the likes of Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi.

Costa will likely start in attack despite being in appalling form, the former Chelsea man having not scored in 18 LaLiga matches.

Atletico head into the clash as one of three teams a point behind leaders Barcelona.

Sanchez doesn’t want to leave Manchester United – Mourinho

Jose Mourinho insists Alexis Sanchez has not asked to leave Manchester United in January.

The Chile international joined United from Arsenal 10 months ago to much fanfare but has struggled to adapt to life at Old Trafford.

The 29-year-old has scored just once in 11 appearances this season and has often cut a frustrated figure after failing to replicate the form that made him a favourite in north London.

Reports have suggested Sanchez could seek a move abroad when the transfer window opens in the new year but Mourinho is confident the former Barcelona man will tough it out.

“I don’t think so because he never told me that he wants to leave or isn’t happy to stay,” said Mourinho, who claimed he will not stand in the player’s way should that stance change.

“That’s me. That is a personal thing related to my philosophy,” he said.

Like United, Sanchez has struggled for consistency this season, but Mourinho believes he is starting to show signs of life.

He added: “He is improving like the team is improving.

“When he plays he is giving us his personality, his desire to play and to produce for the team and trying to adapt to how we play and vice versa, can he do better? I think we can all do better.

“I can do better and he can do better and all the other players can also do better.”

UCL: Fekir insists he’ll be fit for Manchester City clash

960Nabil Fekir has allayed fears over his fitness and insisted he will be available for Lyon’s Champions League clash against Manchester City on Tuesday.

Fekir was taken off at half-time of the Ligue 1 derby clash against Saint-Etienne on Friday with an adductor injury, sparking concerns he could miss the midweek Group F game with Pep Guardiola’s City.

But the France international said: “Everything is fine, I’m recovering.

“We had some trouble in the first half but the most important thing is the victory. I’ll be there on Tuesday.”

Lyon won the game 1-0 thanks to a second-half goal from Belgium defender Jason Denayer to move up to second in the table.

Xavi ignores Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi, says France Star should win Ballon d’Or

xavi-1Barcelona Legend Xavi Hernandez has revealed one of the members of the France team should win the Ballon d’Or because they won the World Cup.  Speaking about the current superstars, he was asked about Luka Modric’s candidacy for this year’s Ballon d’Or.”Why not Modric?” he said.”He has won three Champions Leagues in the last three years and was a World Cup finalist.”It’d also be fair.”The fairest decision would be to give it to a French player because the World Cup means a lot.”lionel-messi-cropped_6khnpodnzc3g1s80dva0xuhm0313094635.jpg

We all complained in 2010 because a Spaniard didn’t get it.”We need to be fair now.”The World Cup is the most important thing.If you look at their team then Antoine Griezmann was the star.”People talk about Raphael Varane, but if you look at France then you see Griezmann or Kylian Mbappe.img_20180904_105542_410198836614.jpg

“During the interview, Xavi also spoke about his coaching aspirations.”I like football and the best way to stay a part of it is to become a coach,” he said.”This will be my last year of playing, it’s time to say goodbye.”I’ll need a lot of time working as a coach.”My plan is to start in Qatar to gain experience and to test myself.”Everyone sees me coaching at Barcelona, but I don’t right now.”To train Barcelona is a big thing.”Xavi took part in the interview alongside Gabi, who he claimed is also set to become a coach.

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The former Barcelona midfielder also spoke about his former teammate’s Neymar’s potential, although he dismissed the idea of the Brazilian returning to the Camp Nou. “I can’t see Neymar returning,” Xavi said in an interview with Cadena SER’s ‘El Larguero’ show. “He didn’t leave with everything fine. “In no way can I see it. “I read about it a lot in the press, but I think there is zero chance he returns to Barcelona. “To me, he is a top footballer.ronaldo-mbappe-messi-ydhm1uhe0mjw166kumdzueef5-1532445150685

“If he gets going and matures and works hard then he’ll be close to Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi. “He is a leader on the pitch and is capable of being decisive and relevant, but it depends on him. “He has all the talent, but if he doesn’t have the mentality…”xavi-1

Xavi spoke about another player who he believes can reach the top if he puts his mind to it, in this case Ousmane Dembele.

“Dembele is young,” he said. “He needs to do lots of things well, but we’ve already seen him make a difference. “He needs time. “He is 21 and he is at Barcelona, where a foreigner may need at least a year of adaptation. “He seems to me like he is a footballer with a lot of talent to exploit.”

Frank Lampard pays tribute to retiring ‘monster’ Drogba

Didier Drogba was a “monster in the dressing room” who won countless big games for Chelsea, according to Frank Lampard.

It was announced on Wednesday that Drogba would retire from the game at the age of 40 following a professional career spanning two decades, the peak years of which the Ivorian spent at Stamford Bridge.

In nine seasons across two spells, Drogba won a dozen major honours, including four Premier League titles and a famous Champions League triumph in 2012.

And Lampard, a key figure alongside the striker in the most successful era in Chelsea’s history, paid a glowing tribute to his former team-mate.

“I get asked a lot who are the greatest players you played with. One retired relatively recently in John Terry, and the other is Didier Drogba,” Derby County manager Lampard told a news conference.

“He is the most incredible player. He’s a monster in the dressing room.

“He won Chelsea countless titles, finals, semi-finals. He always turned up on the big occasion. He should be so proud of his career.

“On top of that he is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, men that I have played with. He is a friend, unselfish, humble, tough…I could speak all day about Didier Drogba.”

Barcelona to make African most expensive player in the history of football

Barcelona are desperate to add real quality to the team with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez getting older and Ousmane Dembele and Malcom failing to hit the high standards set by the club and African Superstar, Mohammed Salah is their prime transfer target.

If the Catalan giants want to sign any Liverpool player before 2021, they will have to dig deep into their pockets and pay well above the market rate.

This was reflected in an agreement between the two clubs last winter, when the Catalans closed the deal for the hiring of Philippe Coutinho. The agreement, revealed by Cadena Ser, states that any Liverpool player that Barcelona wants to sign up to 2021 will have a surcharge of 100 million euros added to the figure of a hypothetical transfer agreement.

For example, the operation to take Mohamed Salah to the Camp Nou would prove practically impossible for the Catalans. Taking into account that the market value of the Egyptian attacker is around 150 million euros (according to Transfermarket), his signing would skyrocket to 250 million euros.

A figure that would make him the most expensive signing in history. It is a clearly dissuasive agreement with which the Premier League team wanted to guarantee their peace of mind for at least three years.

Chelsea legend Didier Drogba retires from competitive football

0B765794000005DC-3053764-image-a-77_1429871088889Former Ivory Coast captain, Didier Drogba has confirmed his retirement from football at the age of 40 as the ex-Chelsea striker says he couldn’t be ‘more proud of what I’ve achieved as a player’

The 40-year-old scored 164 goals in 381 appearances over two spells with Chelsea, helping them win the Premier League four times and the Champions League in 2012, as well as four FA Cup triumphs and three League Cup victories.

Drogba had been playing this season in the United States with Phoenix Rising, the second-tier club at which he is a co-owner.

The veteran forward had been expected to hang up his boots following the United Soccer League Cup final defeat by Louisville City earlier this month.

And confirmation arrived on Wednesday evening as Drogba posted a picture of him as a youngster on his social media accounts, accompanied by a farewell message.6495280-6416125-image-a-53_1542844265835

He said: ‘When I think of the last 20 years of my professional career, looking at this picture can’t make me more proud of what I’ve achieved as a player but most importantly how this journey has shaped me as a man.

DROGBA CHELSEA CV AND CLUB HONOURS6495284-6416125-image-a-49_1542843422573

Premier League (2005, 2006, 2010, 2015)

FA Cup (2007, 2009, 2010, 2015)

League Cup (2005, 2007, 2015)

Community Shield (2005, 2009)

Champions League (2012)

Goals: 164

Games: 382

 

‘If anyone tells you your dreams are too big, just say thank you and work harder and smarter to turn them into reality. #alwaysbelieve. I wanna thank all the players, managers, teams and fans that I have met and made this journey one of a kind!!!

‘Also a huuuuge [sic] thank you and love to my family, my personal team for supporting me all my career during the ups and downs no matter what. Looking forward to the next chapter and hoping God will bless me as much as he did for my football career.’

Drogba played for Le Mans and Guingamp before joining Marseille, who he left for Chelsea in 2004 for a then club-record £24million deal.

He left Chelsea to join Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua in the summer of 2012, but six months later moved on to Galatasaray in Turkey before returning to Stamford Bridge in July 2014.6495280-6416125-image-a-53_1542844265835

DROGBA FULL CV

Le Mans (1998 – 2002): 64 apps, 12 goals

Guingamp (2001 – 2003): 45 apps, 20 goals

Marseille (2003 – 2004): 35 apps, 19 goals

Chelsea (2004 – 2012): 226 apps, 100 goals

Shanghai Shenhua (2012): 11 apps, eight goals

Galatasaray (2012 – 2014): 37 apps, 15 goals

Chelsea (2014 – 2015): 18 apps, four goals

Montreal Impact (2015 – 2016): 33 apps, 21 apps

Phoenix Rising (2017 – 2018): 21 apps, 13 goals

*League goals

 

A move to Major League Soccer franchise Montreal Impact followed, which would later see the Ivory Coast forward stay in the US when taking up an opportunity in Phoenix.

Drogba continues to work with his foundation on projects in his homeland and across Africa, and could yet decide to start a coaching career.

Drogba struck 164 times in 382 appearances across his two spells at Chelsea.16B8753900000514-5080947-image-a-1_1510659610211

‘It’s a difficult moment for me,’ Drogba said when addressing the fans after his final appearance against Sunderland in 2015 after lifting his fourth Premier League title.

‘This one is really special because it’s going to be the last one as a player.

‘Everybody wants to compare the team in 2004-2005 to this team. I want to say to the young players, you might be the best but you have to catch us!

‘Be the best, we’re going to be behind you, you have the best fans in the world behind you. Thank you. I love you guys, I love you.’

Unbelievable! Ronaldo and Messi Ruled Out from Ballon d’Or final list!

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have not made the top three in the Ballon d’Or this season, according to reports in France and Italy. The 30-man shortlist, which was announced last month, was dominated by Champions League winners Real Madrid, who had eight players nominated. Superstars Ronaldo and Messi were both included, but Tuttosport and Corriere della Serareport that neither have made the top three – for the first time in 10 years.

L’Equipe have released a short video for the ceremony, which features Kylian Mbappe, Raphael Varane and Luka Modric as the first three players shown before some of the other candidates are featured. French publication RFI claimed on November 9 that, with half the votes collated at that point, Modric was first, with Varane second and Mbappe third.

Tuttosport have not claimed who has won the award which will be handed out on December 3, but they suggest the top three will consist of Real Madrid duo Modric and Varane, and PSG’s Mbappe. And that will go down well with PSG striker Edinson Cavani, who says there must be a French winner of the prize, following their World Cup glory.

“Varane may well be there, Griezmann, Mbappe… I think a Frenchman should win,” the PSG striker told RMC. “There are other players who could win it, but it should be a Frenchman, they have won the World Cup. Modric has had a great season, but his team-mate Varane won the Champions League and the World Cup. Modric was a finalist and had a great campaign, but Varane deserves it more.”

How Super Eagles Were Caged In Asaba

The expectations were high, the stands were filled to capacity but there were no goals to celebrate.

Fierce rivals Nigeria and Uganda settled for a goalless draw in an entertaining friendly match at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba on Tuesday.

There was a full house at the arena for what was the first –ever international football match in the capital of Delta State, and though the spectators rooted for a win for the three –time African champions, they went home satiated by the endeavour of the Super Eagles and the spirit of competition between both teams.

Both teams had secured their 2019 AFCON tickets on Saturday, and turned up in Asaba with gargantuan enthusiasm.

The visitors were quick off the mark, as the tricky Derick Nsibambi came close from a good move in the 10th minute, but three minutes later, Nigeria also knocked on the door though Captain Ahmed Musa’s pull –out was well read by the Cranes’ defence.

In the 15th minute, Victor Osimhen should have put the Eagles in front when he wrestled the ball from Timothy Awany, only to overplay his showboating and lose the ball.

Oghenekaro Etebo’s free kick came quite close, Osimhen headed wide and another Etebo free kick rose a bit too high, as the Eagles piled on the pressure with youngster Samuel Chukwueze full of creativity on the right wing.

The Villarreal of Spain star danced past Awany and Godfrey Walusimbi in the 33rd minute, but Musa couldn’t get to the the pass to finish up.

In the second half, Samuel Kalu, Mikel Agu, Isaac Success and Moses Simon worked hard at getting a goal, as the crowd demanded for one with their song. But the final touch was lacking.

At the other end, the brilliant Emmanuel Okwi, alongside Denis Iguma, Khalid Aucho and Waiswa Ndhondi threatened the Nigeria goal severally, without any success in breaching it.

A final opportunity presented itself in added time, but Agu headed Kalu’s corner kick narrowly over the bar.

Cristiano Ronaldo set to break new records at Juventus this season

Juventus are thanking their stars for directing Cristiano Ronaldo to Turin and the Portuguese has continued to show awesome quality for the club in his debut season in Italy.

In 12 appearances in Serie A, the Portuguese phenomenon scored 8 goals and assisted another 5. He can also break various records with Juventus and we present you with some of the most notable ones.

If he continues with his goalscoring form, Ronaldo can become the Juventus player with most goals in a single season. The current record holder is Ferenc Hirzer, who scored 35 goals in 26 matches almost a hundred years ago during the 1925-26 season.

At the same time, Ronaldo could potentially become the player to score most goals in a single Serie A season. The record was set by Gino Rossetti for Torino in 1928-29 (36 goals), while Gonzalo Higuain matched in 2015-16 for Napoli.

Given that he continues with this amazing form and becomes the league’s top scorer, he would become the first player in the history of football to become top scorer in the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A. The Portuguese won the top scorer crown in Spain three times and the Premier League prize once.

Juventus have declared the Champions League trophy as their number one goal this season and if the Bianconeri achieve this goal, this would write down Ronaldo in the history books as well, as it would be his third Champions League title with three teams, becoming European champion with United in 2007-08 and with Real Madrid on four occasions.

The only player to have managed the same was Clarence Seedorf, who won the trophy with AC Milan, Real Madrid and Ajax. And lastly, probably the most simple of them all, as Juventus’ dominance in Serie A is staggering.

If Juventus win the league titles for the 8th time in a row this season, Ronaldo will become the first player in football history to win titles in England (Manchester United), Spain (Real Madrid) and Italy. In short, this could be a record-breaking season for the superstar.

Real Madrid Star Explains Why Belgium Lost To Switzerland

Real Madrid goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois has demanded Belgium learn from their shock loss to Switzerland in the Nations League, as he blamed the loss to overconfidence and claims it was for the bewildering 5-2 capitulation to Switzerland that cost Belgium a place in the Nations League Finals.

Roberto Martinez’s men were cruising towards the point required to top Group 2 in League A after Thorgan Hazard’s brace put them in control in Lucerne. Switzerland, left needing a two-goal victory to advance, conjured a remarkable response to lead 3-2 at half-time, before Nico Elvedi and hat-trick hero Haris Seferovic completed the unthinkable after the interval.

Courtois was powerless to stop the onslaught and diagnosed a premature sense of security as contributing to the Red Devils’ downfall.Belgium Team

“We started well, took the early lead and doubled it also. Then we started to lose duels and gave away a stupid penalty,” Courtois said of the Nacer Chadli foul that handed Switzerland a lifeline. Suddenly the Swiss got hope for more. I think after our 2-0 lead the feeling went into our team that it could not go wrong.

“But this is a high-level competitive match and hopefully not reaching the final four will teach us a lesson for the future.”Eden Hazard

Paris Saint-Germain defender Thomas Meunier agreed with his team-mate’s assessment, describing Belgium’s performance as the worst of his five-year international career.
“This is more than an enormous disappointment,” the wing-back said. “After the 2-0 lead we had everything in our own hands. It was a perfect game for us. We could have scored even more. But then they scored three out of three chances, it was really unbelievable.

“It was just not enough from our side. I think we just thought we reached the final four already. Tonight was the worst match with the Red Devils in my career.”

Griezmann reveals Lionel Messi was the reason why he didn’t move to Barcelona

griezmann-and-messiAtletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann has revealed it was hard to reject Barcelona in the summer but said the support he got from his teammates and the fans were the reasons why he decided to stay put.

The France international was heavily linked with a move to the Camp Nou but revealed he had decided to remain at Atletico by releasing a video on the eve of the World Cup. The 27-year-old had agonised for some time over the decision, with Barca reportedly willing to pay his €100 million (£89m/$116m) release clause to bring him to Catalunya. Now the forward has revealed just how tough the decision was and how persistent Barca were in their pursuit of him.

Image result for griezmann

“Hard to refuse Barca? It’s very difficult,” he told Canal Plus. “You have Barca who want you, who calls you, who sends messages. “But then there is the club where you are, where you are an important player and where they build a project around you. “What tipped the scales? To see my teammates and especially the coach after a game where I was whistled, he came home by surprise to calm me down and talk with me and show that I had his confidence.”griezmann-and-messi

Griezmann suggested being second-choice behind Lionel Messi was also a factor in his decision as well as the support from his Atletico teammates. “Unconsciously, being Messi’s lieutenant may have played a part,” he added. “But my teammates and club people did everything, they came to talk to me, increased my salary. They did everything to show that it was my house and that I shouldn’t leave. “It was really complicated times, especially for my wife where I woke her up at 3am to talk about it”.

After announcing his decision to stay at Atletico, Griezmann went on to score four goals in Russia to help France lift the World Cup for the second time. He was then part of the Atletico team that lifted the UEFA Super Cup after a 4-2 win over Real Madrid. The forward has scored six goals in all competitions so far this campaign, with Atleti currently third on La Liga, one point behind leaders Barcelona.

Harry Kane hits a milestone to Move England to semifinal

Harry Kane sealed a stunning late comeback as England booked their place in the UEFA Nations League semi-finals with a 2-1 victory over Croatia at Wembley.

Image result for england vs croatia

Two goals in the final 12 minutes from Jesse Lingard (78) and captain Kane (85) sparked scenes of wild celebrations as Gareth Southgate’s men relegated their World Cup semi-final conquerors.

England were staring relegation in the face themselves when Andrej Kramaric opened the scoring to punish the Three Lions for a host of missed first-half chances.

But a dramatic late turnaround sees England finish ahead of Spain at the top of Group A4, with a place in the inaugural Nations League finals secured.

Player Ratings

England: Pickford (6), Walker (6), Stones (7), Gomez (7), Chilwell (7), Dier (7), Barkley (6), Delph (7), Sterling (7), Rashford (7), Kane (8).

Subs: Lingard (7), Sancho (6), Alli (6).

Croatia: Kalinic (7), Vida (6), Vrsaljko (4), Lovren (6), Jedvaj (6), Modric (7), Brozovic (6), Vlasic (7), Rebic (6), Perisic (6), Kramaric (7).

Subs: Milic (6), Brekalo (5), Rog (n/a).

Man of the Match: Harry Kane.

England dominated the first half but only after a defensive scare on three minutes. Jordan Pickford was charged down while clearing a Fabian Delph back pass, presenting Ante Rebic with an open goal, but the Croatia forward blazed over from 18 yards.

The spotlight quickly shifted from Pickford to his counterpart Lovre Kalinic, though, who was confronted by an England barrage.

Raheem Sterling’s near post drive was tipped behind by the Croatia goalkeeper on 12 minutes, and, from the resulting corner, John Stones’ flick fell for Kane, but he fired over from three yards.

The twinkle toes and vision of Delph released Sterling through on goal four minutes later. He was clattered by Kalinic but the ball fell for Kane, who saw a shot cleared off the line by Tin Jedvaj, before Kalinic got back to his feet to block the England captain’s attempted rebound.

Croatia goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic collides with Raheem Sterling Having comfortably saved a shot from Kramaric, the quick thinking of Pickford released Rashford on the counter, only for Jedvaj to recover just before the Manchester United forward could pull the trigger.

Ben Chilwell was next to test Kalinic with a dipping volley from a corner before Ivan Perisic lashed over at the near post, after Kramaric had bundled his way into the area.

Dybala not thinking of leaving Juventus for Manchester united

Juventus forward Paulo Dybala has rejected the notion that he could leave the club next year and has pledged to help the team fight for major trophies.

The Italian champions are on course to retain their crown after just three-and-a-half months of the new season, having already moved six points clear of second-placed Napoli.
Massimilano Allegri’s men are unbeaten in Serie A after 12 matches and are also exerting their dominance on the European stage, sitting top of their Champions League group ahead of Manchester United.
“I’m not thinking about the transfer market,” Dybala said. “Right now I’m really happy at Juventus and the focus is simply winning all the titles here.”
Dybala went on to discuss his relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo, who arrived at the Allianz Stadium during the summer from Real Madrid and has been an instant hit in Italy.
It had been suggested that the Portuguese maestro’s presence might overshadow his own ability to make an impact on the pitch, but the Bianconeri star is adamant that they work well in tandem.

2019 AFCON: South Africa vs Nigeria: 22,000 tickets sold ahead of Saturday’s showdown

South-Africa-Football-World-CupA total of 22,000 tickets have been sold ahead of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between South Africa and Nigeria’s Super Eagles inside the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, organisers have revealed.

The tickets were sold on Thursday by 3pm local time which is still a far cry considering the seating capacity of South Africa’s largest Stadium situated in Soweto. Thursday’s sales is an addition of 14,700 following the 7,300 tickets sold on Tuesday.

According to statistics, the FNB Stadium has a seating capacity of 94,736 and the only time it recorded a huge turnout was on August 1, 2015 when Kaizer Chiefs played fellow rivals, Orlando Pirates. The record attendance was 94,807.

There are fears that the stands at the Stadium maybe dominated by Nigerians living in Johannesburg, according to SowetanLive. South Africa are targeting 20,000 of its fans to cheer the team.

Nigeria has a high presence in Johannesburg and surrounding areas and Bafana will need South Africans to show the same urgency they usually display ahead of matches between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.

Chief Executive of the Stadium Management South Africa (SMSA), Jacques Grobbelaar‏ confirmed the low numbers to SowetanLIVE on Tuesday while at the same time urging South Africans to buy tickets and support the team.

“We have capped the tickets at 41 000 and we hope that there is a sudden surge later in the week because we want South Africans to be there and cheer the boys. “This is an important game for the country.”

“I don’t think it matters if the public at large think that we played well in our last game or we were great when we played Nigeria away or Paraguay (Bafana’s Nelson Mandela Challenge opponents at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Tuesday next week) is an interesting team one coming up.

“This Nigeria game is big‚ the reputation is big and I hope that there will be South Africans who will be there and want Bafana Bafana to win,” he concluded.

AFCON: Eagles won’t miss Ighalo against South Africa-Rohr

gernot-rohr-is-the-next-ta-for-the-super-eagles1779005119.jpgThe Technical Adviser of the Super Eagles Gernot Rohr has declared that the team won’t miss topscorer, Odion Ighalo when they take on South Africa in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on Saturday.

The German tactician is banking on the fitness of the 23 players at his disposal to beat the Bafana Bafana in Johannesburg and qualify for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations holding in Cameron.

The Eagles gaffer is faced with the full compliment of a full squad devoid of injuries and raring to go against the South Africans.

All the department of the team is faced with stiff competition while the players are battling it out among each other to pick the first team shirt for the crucial match against host South Africa.ighalo-1

Rohr is currently faced with the difficulty of picking players since they are all posting good performances in training. However, he stated that he and his assistants would pick the best team that will make Nigeria proud and get the qualification ticket with a match to spare after the Johannesburg encounter.

“The camp is going on well. We made training this afternoon (Wednesday). All the 23 players are fit. We have four (4) strikers who can replace Odion Ighalo and they are Isaac Success, Osimhen, Henry Onyekuru or Kelechi Iheanacho. I can also tell you that the new players are well integrated in the team. So we are good to go”, Rohr disclosed.

Joachim applauds ‘beautiful goals’ from Sane and Gnabry

Germany coach Joachim Low hailed Leroy Sane’s strike in a 3-0 friendly win over Russia as “beautiful” after the Manchester City winger scored his first international goal.

Sane’s opener and his all-action performance made a mockery of Low’s decision to exclude him from Germany’s World Cup squad earlier in the year, while Niklas Sule and Serge Gnabry also scored on a much-needed night of positivity for Die Mannschaft.

Low said he was happy to see his players create goals from deep positions after Sane and Gnabry benefited from some impressive long passes from midfield before scoring.

“We had a good first period, we controlled the game well,” Low told reporters after the match in Leipzig.

“In previous matches we were criticised for not playing from deep. Here we have been able to do it in a few situations.

“We have created a dynamic and built two beautiful goals in this way. In the second period, when we made a lot of changes, we lost some flow, it’s normal. Our occupation of the field was not as good.”

Low praised Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Kai Havertz, who contributed to a dominant team performance on his full Germany debut and provided an assist for Gnabry to score the third goal.

The 19-year-old has netted three times in 11 Bundesliga appearances this season and previously came on as a late substitute in Germany’s 2-1 friendly win over Peru in September.

“He impressed me today,” said Low. “He is very secure on the ball and has good positioning going forward.”

Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov admitted his side had been taken by surprise after Germany’s fast start to the game.

He said: “In the second half we saw that we could play well. In the first period we were not prepared at the rate imposed by Germany.

“They played more aggressively than us.”