Football

Laporta on Xavi; Hazard scores banger in charity match; Toni Kroos announces shock return; Spain coach signs contract extension; Araujo praises Curabasi

Last week the footballing world witnessed some of the biggest stories unfold, however not all of them can be covered, hence here is our hot take on what are the biggest news that brewed last week.

Table of Contents

Joan Laporta: FC Barcelona president opens up about Xavi; speaks about fans and title hopes

FC Barcelona president Joan Laporta have opened up about his club’s title chances at the end of this season, especially after a difficult outing away against Napoli in Italy, where his team has squandered a 1-0 lead to square it up by Victor Osimhen. This result has significantly poised the game in the knockout stages, as Blaugranas would be toiling to get a victory when they welcome their Italian counterparts.

President speaks on title prospects

FC Barcelona have led themselves into a tricky phase, as barring UEFA Champions League, they have little chance to get their hands on a silverware this season. Currently they are trailing heavyweights Real Madrid and surprise package Girona, with a third spot, thus eyeing a difficult road ahead for the defending champions. In Europe’s biggest stage, they have played out a stalemate against Napoli, thus presenting themselves with an uphill task to overcome the Italian job, when they lock horns at Montjuic.

They were knocked out of Copa del Rey and were outclassed by arch rivals Real Madrid in the final of Spanish Super Cup, thus losing opportunities to lift a silverware. To add to their woes, manager Xavi has informed his decision to leave the club at the end of this season, thus leaving club board with options to explore for a next manager.

However, in a recent interview, club President Laporta has opened up about his side’s chances in the remainder of this season, as he said, “We are not throwing in the towel, we will fight for the league and the Champions League. Anything is possible.”

He has urged fans to support their favorite club, as he mentioned, “We have to be closer than ever to our teams, our coaches and players. If the players see that you never give up, neither will they. Here we have to fight to the end, it is part of our competitive essence. We have to stand by our players and our coach.”

“I have the honor”

Speaking about keeping intact the club’s moral identity, Laporta added, “Barça has no one but us Barcelona fans. Our strength comes from our identity, our history, our ownership model, which will always be defended by the board that I have the honor of presiding over. We will ensure that the club is always in the hands of the socios.”

To end his interview, Laporta heaped praise on Xavi, adding that he will always support the legend in each of his future endeavors. He went on to say, “Xavi is a stone-cold Cule who will fight to the end. I give him my full support.”

Barca will be facing Getafe today, as Xavi’s brigade would be looking to earn all three points, which would keep them firmly in the title race.

Eden Hazard: Legendary Chelsea stalwart skins four players before scoring a banger in charity match

Former Chelsea and Real Madrid legend Eden Hazard was seen to take a trip down the memory lane when he skittled out four players at a training schedule ahead of a charity game, “Match of Hope” at Qatar.

Eden Hazard: a Belgian maestro

Eden Hazard has been considered one of the greatest players Belgium have ever produced, A former Chelsea stalwart, Hazard was renowned for his exuberance across the midfield sector. He had joined Real Madrid few years ago, but his career with the Spanish giants have not gone well, which was mostly plagues by injuries and suspensions, eventually forcing him to retire at the end of last year. But, he channeled his inner legacy when he ‘skinned alive’ four players ahead of charity game at Qatar, which also involved former stalwarts like Kaka, Drogba and David Villa.

Ahead of the game, he was observed training with his star teammates, but with a casual Nike Air Force trainers, instead of his football wear, but his weird choice of boots did not stop him from dribbling past four players and scoring.

“No comment”

Hazard, after receiving a chipped pass from his teammate, swiveled around four players to slot the ball into the net. Among his unlucky teammates was streamer Angry Ginge, as he said, “No Comment”. Meanwhile, Hazard’s choice of boots have gone down hilariously well with his fans, as one said, “Not Hazard showing up in Qatar in a pair of Air Force and skinning influencers.”

Others added, “He left Angry Ginge for dead”, while one more wrote, “How am I seeing Eden Hazard take on Angry Ginge in a footy match.” Thus, with his exuberance and caliber, Hazard would be well slated to be a legend in their game amongst influencers. He had previously informed about his free time, as he joked, “It was true, but me, every summer, I was putting on four or five kilos because I was thinking you give so much for ten months. You put your body at the highest level and people kick you, so your time off is your time off.”

He further added, “Don’t ask me to do anything. I enjoy being with my family, going to the beach, so don’t ask me to run in those three or four weeks. I can play football on the beach with my kids, no problem, but don’t ask me to run.”

IShowSpeed: Youtuber tackles Brazilian legend Kaka in charity game; draws flak for his reckless behavior

Youtuber IShowSpeed has been slammed for his reckless challenge on Brazilian stalwart Kaka, as the both faced off in “The Match of Hope”. This charity event included several top stars from yesteryear’s football arena along with social media stars like IShowSpeed, and was staged in Qatar’s Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium.

Speed’s reckless tackle on Kaka the talk of the town

IShowSpeed has been a considerable social media star since last few years, and his stellar rise across the internet hierarchy has quite caused a stir. Darren Watkins Junior, as his real name is, showcased his usual antics on the field, which involved shoving legendary Chelsea star Eden Hazard, speaking about their potential position on the field. He was even seen discussing tactics with Arsenal’s managerial metronome Arsene Wenger, which has caused some hilarious reactions to surface across internet, as netizens have spoken about the serious conversation between both.

But, what has caused the internet to slam the Youtuber for his pranks was a reckless challenge on former Brazil and AC Milan sensation Kaka, thus catching flak from fans. It was seen that the social media star flew from the back, hurling his leg across Kaka, eventually wiping out the former Balon D’Or winner.

Hilarious yet slamming responses across netizens

With a video clip which went viral showing Speed tackling Kaka, it was evident that this antic has not gone down well with his fandom. People were seen speaking about his ‘cringe’ behavior, as one said, “He’s actually very cringe, always trying to get a viral moment.” Some others included, “What’s wrong with this guy bruh”, while a separate group mentioned, “Should’ve been a straight red, that’s actually very dangerous.”

Few more added, “Nonsense behavior from IShowSpeed”, which extended to “Who keeps letting this guy run riot around legends”. This match could not get any more ridiculous as he missed an open goal, with fans stirring him up with boos, coming on after kissing Roberto Carlos’ head for good luck. Luckily, Kaka was not hurt, and was able to continue. After the game, he was even seen asking Drogba, if he was Paul Pogba’s father, thus adding further to his frolics.

Toni Kroos: Germany and Real Madrid stalwart announces shock return; confirms his participation in EURO 2024

In another shocker in the football arena, it is reported that Germany and Real Madrid midfield metronome Toni Kroos is set to make a miraculous return to the national squad, as he is eager to play for his national side in the upcoming European Championships which is slated to take place in his country.

Toni Kroos: a legend of the German side

Toni Kroos has etched his name among the history books as one of the greatest midfielders to play for the Germany national team. His exuberance across the field, coupled with his caliber which involves impeccable passes from the defensive sector to scoring bangers in the form of free-kicks, has earned him a legendary status across the ranks of German teams. After a miraculous World Cup glory in 2014 followed by some mishaps with the squad involving shock exit in 2018 World Cup, he had confirmed his decision to be relieved from his National squad, as he wished to continue playing club football.

However, with a surprising social media post, Kroos has mentioned that he would be up and running to play in European Championships which will be held at the end of this season, scheduled in his home country.

“I am in the mood”

Kroos stirred a storm in internet with his comeback news, as he has mentioned in his Instagram post about his plans to don the national jersey. He said, “People, short and painless: I will play for Germany again in March. Why? Because I was asked by the federal coach, I’m in the mood and I’m sure that with the team at the European Championship, much more is possible than most believe right now. Julian contacted me and asked me if I could imagine it, which wasn’t in my mind until then. We agreed I would take the idea with me and see what happens. I’ve thought about the idea: What if so? What if not? With every conversation, without going into too much detail, I became more and more convinced.”

He further added, “That’s why I wanted to decide in good time so as not to keep anyone waiting. I’m very, very happy with my decision. It took me a while to be certain Of course I want to help. But I’m definitely not the savior either. I’m just a cog that meshes with the others to hopefully make it work. I know the boys, I know the players, all of them have great qualities. Now it’s time to show that as a team I still feel good and physically ready to do it without any problems. The fact that I’m needed for the tournament in my country is an incentive.”

His return would act as a boost for Nagelsmann and his side, as they prepare to lift the trophy after a string of poor performances with the National side, especially after another group-stage shock exit at the FIFA World Cup 2022. With the European Championships looming at June, return of Kroos would indeed be a favorable stance for the hosts.

Luis De La Fuente: Spain coach signs contract extension; to stay at helm since World Cup 2026

Spanish football federation has confirmed an anticipated contract extension of head manager Luis De La Fuente, thus confining him to the football duties. He will be seen till World Cup 2026, which is slated to be held in the Americas.

Luis De La Fuente: a star across the managerial arena

Luis De La Fuente has always been looked upon as one of the rising stars in the coaching arena, as his stellar rise from the Under-23 side has fetched him importance and thrill. He was appointed as the senior men’s coach after departure of Luis Enrique, who had managed the side in a disastrous World Cup 2022 campaign. Being a surprise choice among several heavyweights to replace Enrique, De La Fuente has managed the side rather comfortably. He will be known for handing debut to Spain’s rising star Lamine Yamal, who had a brilliant outing in his first senior game.

Among his notable contributions with the national side, De La Fuente guided them to their first Nations League triumph, where La Roja defeated Croatia in an intense penalty shoot-out. He has also played a pivotal role in overseeing Spain’s qualification in this summer’s European Championship, to be held in Germany.

Official statement from RFEF confirms contract extension

On Thursday, Spanish football federation RFEF has issued an official statement confirming De La Fuente’s contract. They have mentioned about his increased tenure, as they said, “The Managing Commission considers De la Fuente’s renewal to be a necessary step for the national team and for the institution which directs football in Spain, providing the national team with stability in preparation for the European Championship.”

His previous high-profile club management was in charge of Alaves in 2011, when he was at the sidelines at Vitoria for 11 games, before guiding several young teams to their respective titles. In his era, Spain has been molded into a solid if unspectacular approach, thus guiding the Spaniards in eight wins out of ten games, handing debuts to several youngsters like Lamine.

Pau Cubarsi: FC Barcelona skipper Ronald Araujo heaps praise on La Masia youngster; compares him to defensive stalwart Gerard Pique

FC Barcelona skipper Ronald Araujo has taken one step further in comparing La Masia starlet Pau Cubarsi to defensive metronome Gerard Pique, as the youngsters’ exuberance and caliber has been top notch since the day he got into the starting eleven.

Pau Cubarsi: a La Masia starlet

La Masia has always been a powerhouse of young talent, who gradually showcases their meteoric rise across the ranks of the club, eventually representing the club at top level. With a humongous roster involving Lionel Messi, Iniesta and Xavi in the yesteryears to Lamine Yamal, Gavi, Fermin, La Masia has projected its top stars in the world fame, thus etching their name in the history books.

To add to that list, Barca have yet again produced a gem in La Masia, thus unearthing Pau Cubarsi from the academy, who has represented the senior level in last few games. A central defender by playstyle, Cubarsi has been seen complementing Ronald Araujo and Joules Kounde on the defensive sector, with his versatility to play as a holding midfielder adding the briskness to the team.

Shining from the start

Owing to a personnel crisis at the defensive backline for Barca, 17-year old Cubarsi has established himself as a string option, provided the absence of any stalwart. He has earned five starts, garnering widespread appraisal from critics and fans alike, with Xavi labeling him as a prospective superstar, who would go on to represent the club and country in the future.

Barcelona skipper Ronald Araujo has already seen reflections of Barca’s defensive metronome Gerard Pique in Cubarsi. Pique has been a legend of the game, who retired in 2022, and is slated to get back to the club in the future. His exuberance across the defense, coupled with his tactical skills have earned him the respect across the world, with fans calling him by the name of Piquenbauer, resonating with the famous German defender Franz Beckenbauer.

In a light chat with Lays, amidst multiple complements about the squad, Araujo stressed on Cubarsi’s similarity with Pique. He said, “I learned a lot from Pique, especially his intelligence. Geri was not fast, but he was very smart, he was always in the right position. Technically, he always offered a solution. He reminds me a little bit of Pau Cubarsi, because he has something of him, he’s very smart. The truth is that he has unbelievable talent at just 17 years old. I think he should be taken care of, because he will be a talent at the club for many years to come.”

With Napoli game at the Round of 16 of UEFA Champions League lurking around, Xavi would look to bench Cubarsi, as he would be stressing on an experienced defensive backline, comprising Kounde and Araujo, with Cancelo and Christensen covering all bases.

Gennaro Gattuso: Italian World Cup winner sacked by Marseille; club board confirms official decision

Italy World Cup winner Genaro Gattuso has been relieved from his duties on the sidelines by Olympique Marseille, as the Ligue 1 club have communicated their official decision. It comes after a shock loss against Brest, in spite of being one man up since last thirty minutes.

Gattuso- an Italian football stalwart

Gennaro Gattuso has been one of the legends in Italian football. Owing to his ferocious mentality across the defensive backline coupled with his hunger for sturdy defense, Gattuso quickly showcased his meteoric rise while playing for AC Milan, eventually representing Italy in the national level. A punt-sized body on the defense, Gattuso often came up big against top-class strikers, preventing them from scoring.

After switching allegiance to AC Milan from Salernitana, Gattuso’s fame skyrocketed, thus becoming one of the faces of the club eventually. Playing under the reign of Carlo Ancelotti, Gattuso’s prophecy as a ball-winner rose, thus prompting Ancelotti to play Pirlo alongside him in a defensive midfielder position, a role which the metronome played quite briskly, thus showcasing his versatility.

A fierce coach

Gattuso had rather timid experiences on the managerial stint, as his period on the sidelined never lasted long for any club. He arrived into this arena after managing Sion, before vouching for bigger clubs in the form of AC Milan and arch rivals Napoli, before switching his nation in a vast horizon, eyeing Valencia and Marseille as his new destinations. He was removed from Napoli in 2021, before joining Valencia, later joining forces on the French front, with Marseille being his next destination.

After taking over from Marcelino in September 2023, Gattuso had rather mixed fortunes with the Ligue 1 giants. They have been without a victory since January, and have mustered a meagre three points in last five games, as it registered in the history books as one of the worst phases for the club since 1978.

They had not hit a shot on target in three of their last four games, with Gattuso highlighting the team’s poor performance in post-match presentation on Sunday. He was heard saying, “Soul is needed in football, but we lack it. I must be honest and say we do not deserve this jersey. We can’t play with the mentality. I apologize to the fans. We hit rock bottom and it’s impossible to go deeper down.”

Marseille are set to explore Gattuso’s replacement, as they look to appoint former Ivory Coast boss Jean-Louis Gasset with immediate effect.

Kalvin Phillips: Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola apologizes to West Ham star for “overweight” comments

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has showcased his emotional side to the world when he apologized to former City apprentice Kalvin Phillips, after latter’s complaints about the Spaniard calling him “overweight” surfaced last week.

Pep Guardiola- Kalvin Phillips feud reason for West Ham switch?

West Ham midfielder Kalvin Phillips is considered one of the underrated stars in the Premier League, who exuberance and caliber often made to the headlines, given the limited amount of time he has played for Manchester City. Considered a pivotal force during Leeds United’s promotion into the top-tier Premier League from Championship, Kalvin joined English heavyweights Manchester City, with fans hoping to see his class with the Cityzens. But, owing to he talented troika of legends in the midfield for City often prompted him to sit on the bench, rarely being used a substitute, and more scarcely played as a starter. With the hope of increased playing minutes, he joined West Ham on loan this January, with David Moyes’ side exploring options to bolster his midfield.

Recently, in an interview with the Observer, Phillips mentioned about his confidence being banished after Pep complained about his increase of weight after he came back from England’s disappointing World Cup campaign at Qatar. According to him, the Spanish tactician joked about his weight in a press conference, promptly removing him from a Carabao Cup clash squad against Liverpool. He said that his time in City “after the World Cup was probably the toughest, when Pep came out and said I was overweight, I did not disagree with him but obviously I took a big knock on my confidence and how I felt at City.”

“I am sorry”

Pep has offered his apologies about calling out Phillips overweight, as he said. “Yeah, I am sorry”, while asked about it in a press conference. He continued. “Once in eight years is not bad. But I’m so sorry. I apologize to him. I do apologize. I’m sorry.”

Although Pep has mentioned about his camaraderie with Phillips before going public about it, it still rings that Pep might have something to tell about his increased weight, which might have affected his game. He said, “I never, never before I said something here did not speak with the players in that case.”

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager spoke before Tuesday’s high-voltage clash against Brentford at home, as he was asked about his mentality towards players verbally winding him up. He aptly replied, “It depended on my mood! Listen, in my period in Barcelona I am in the history for having the record of the most yellow cards conceded. All the time it was for talk, talk, talk. So it depends, sometimes I controlled (myself), sometimes (I was) being crazy. People say ‘ah, he cannot control’. As a football player I was the same.”

After a 1-1 draw against league strugglers Chelsea, Pep’s side would look to revamp their squad strength, thus forcing on a win which would see them reduce the gap with leaders Liverpool.

Lamine Yamal: Barcelona starlet set for latest milestone; might surpass former club-mate

FC Barcelona wizard Lamine Yamal might be looking forward to etch his name among the history books in Barcelona’s highly anticipated midweek clash against Napoli in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16. He is slated to rewrite fellow academy mate Ansu Fati’s records if he scores in this knockout clash, thus scripting history.

Lamine Yamal: Barca’s next big thing

La Masia has yet again unearthed a gem from the ranks of the club in the form of Lamine Yamal, as the 16-year old winger is already writing records in every game. The youngster, who made his senior team debut last season as the youngest player ever to play for Barca at the age of 15 years, has already etched his name in the history books as the youngest scorer for the club, surpassing former teammate Ansu Fati, who set this milestone few years back. Lamine’s playstyle and exuberance have impressed fans and critics likewise, already earning comparison with the legendary Lionel Messi. He is blessed with sheer pace, as his penetrative runs across the flanks is increasingly becoming a nightmare for opponent defenders.

With a looming fixture against Napoli in the Round of 16 clash, Lamine might get one step further if he gets on the score sheet in that fixture, becoming the youngest Champions League scorer for the Blaugranas, surpassing Ansu Fati once again, as Barca’s number 10 created history when he scored his first UCL goal when the club faced Inter Milan in 2019. It was a brilliant strike from the youngster, as his well-placed strike from outside the box helped the Catalans achieve an outstanding victory against the Italians on the road.

A perfect platform for the youngster to expand his greatness

Lamine has been outstanding since the start of this season, with his debut last season almost ending up in a classy goal from outside the box, eventually thwarted away by opponent keeper. With the Blaugranas coping with successive injuries and suspensions, Lamine has stepped up on every occasion, thus earning the praise from manager Xavi, who has showered the 16-year old wizard with ample affection.

Coincidentally, Barca are travelling to Italy with high hopes vested upon this teenager, as he would be looking to express himself on the biggest stage. As of the current scenario, he has been involved in each of Barca’s last few goals, averaging the highest success rate of dribbles. He has scored five goals and have assisted seven of them, and is yet to make a mark on the score board at UCL, thus being eager to score a goal, rounding up his goal numbers in every other competition.

Barca face Napoli tomorrow, and we are sure Barca fans across the world would hope to see their favorite boy weave his magic wand once again on the biggest stage of Europe.

Frenkie de Jong: FC Barcelona midfield metronome expresses angst in false rumors; lashes at media for fake news

FC Barcelona midfielder Frenkie De Jong went furious of false reports of him claiming an exit from the Catalan side. In Tuesday’s press conference ahead of Barca’s game against Napoli in the Round of 16 of Champions League, Frenkie lashed out at media journalists claiming false rumors of him departing the defending La Liga champions.

Frenkie de Jong: a legend in the midfield region

Frenkie de Jong has been considered as a perfect successor of Xavi-Iniesta combination since his inception at the Barcelona midfield few years back. A former AFC Ajax product, who had led the side to a historic Champions League campaign which lasted till the semifinals of the tournament, Frenkie has aptly made his name among the club’s successful midfielders, with names like Xavi and Iniesta glittering amidst his. As of the current scenario at the Catalan midfield, Frenkie always comes up as the first name in mind while preparing the starting eleven at a game, as he often partners with Pedri and Gundogan.

But, since last few years, his future seems to be a hot topic among the press, as ‘fake’ reports of him leaving the club and eyeing a Premier League move have captured lots of attention. Amidst false transfer rumors, it has also surfaced that his salary has been exceeding and is humongous among current Barca players, thus tempted to cash-in on his services if he is transferred. Other reports have suggested that he is not happy with his life in Barca, thus might request an exit in the next season.

“I am a bit pissed off”

With this speculations and rumors put to De Jong, he rather shoved away rather angrily, citing false reports and claims, which has pissed him off. He was heard saying, “The truth is that I’m a bit pissed off with what you people [the media] write in general. A lot of things are coming out that are not true and it’s irritating me. I can’t understand it. I don’t know how you’re not ashamed to write it.”

“You’re talking a lot about my contract, about my situation, about my salary, it’s a lot of smoke and lies. I’m earning €40m or something? That’s very far from reality. I’m not going to tell you the real figures. They’ve invented a story that is not the truth. I am very happy at Barca, it is the club of my dreams and I hope to continue playing here for many years.”

Asked about who are leaking information and if any portfolio holder is at bay, Frenkie promptly replied, “I can’t say because I don’t know. I hope not. I know that many things are invented because you write things that are not true. You are doing it in general with many players and coaches. I have a feeling this isn’t going to change, but you should, because you can’t write things that aren’t true.”

He further added, “I consider those inside the club as my teammates. The day-to-day people, the staff… it’s great. A 10. I’m enjoying it a lot. If someone things I play badly in the press, that doesn’t matter, because everyone can have their opinion…but the lies, you have to change.”

Thomas Tuchel: FC Bayern Munich boss to depart club at the end of the season; club confirms official decision

In a shocker in German football, FC Bayern Munich has confirmed that manager Thomas Tuchel will leave the club at the end of the season, owing to a string of poor performances, which has pegged them back in the title race.

Thomas Tuchel to leave Bayern

Bayern Munich has been one of the serial winners of Bundesliga, etching their names on record books by winning the domestic title for eleven consecutive years. Last season, they had almost missed out on achieving a record feat, as fellow title rivals Borussia Dortmund were closely following them for the trophy, but owing to a Jamal Musiala brilliance, Bayern lifted the trophy, thus breaking millions of Dortmund hearts. Although Bayern won the title, speculations about Tuchel’s exemplification and caliber were questioned as they had never faced any stiff competition on their way to the summit. If that phase was the beginning of Tuchel’s downfall at Bavaria, 2023-24 season might be the final nail in the coffin for the former Chelsea and PSG manager.

Tuchel took over from Nagelsmann in March 2023, with an initial contract which was slated to run till June 2025. Owing to horrendous performances across this season, which includes consecutive losses at the hands of fellow title rivals Bayer Leverkusen, Lazio and VfL Bochum, Tuchel is finally shown the exit door, thus bringing an abrupt end to his tumultuous tenure.

Faltering performances from players

With securing the services of English front man Harry Kane, Bayern would have hoped for a clean swipe at domestic treble, with the UEFA Champions League victory a bonus to their trophy cabinet. But, as of the current scenario, all is not well on the German front, as Bayern are on the risk of going trophyless this season, as they have already been ousted from all domestic cups, and having a disastrous eight-point gap from first-placed Bayer Leverkusen, who are having a dream run with Xabi Alonso at helm. To add to their woes, the German serial winners find themselves 0-1 down to Italian giants Lazio in the first leg of the Round of 16, thus path to achieving a title looks an uphill task.

Bayern CEO Jan Christian-Wo has informed that both parties have mutually consented on terminating this deal, agreeing to “mutually end our collaboration”, following an “an open, good conversation.”

He further stressed on completing this season on a high, as he added, “Our goal is to carry out a sporting realignment with a new coach for the 2024-25 season. Until then, every individual in the club is expressly challenged to achieve the maximum possible in the Champions League and the Bundesliga. I also explicitly hold the team responsible. Especially in the Champions League, we are convinced after the defeat at Lazio we will advance to the quarter-finals with our fans behind us.”

With an agonizing end to what could have been a blistering tenure, Tuchel confirmed about this decision, thus keen on helping Bayern win a silverware by the end of this season. He was heard saying, “We will leave after this season. Until then, my coaching team and I will continue to do everything we can to ensure maximum success.”

Inter Milan 1-0 Atletico Madrid: Marko Arnautovic goal sends Nerazzuris on top in first leg, excitement awaits in second

Inter Milan has dashed thousands of Atletico de Madrid hopes after substitute Marko Arnautovic scored a banger to help Simone Inzaghi’s men to gain an upper hand in the nail-biting clash in the first leg of UEFA Champions League.

Inter defeats Atletico

It was a battle between two former stalwarts of Lazio, as Diego Simeone and Simone Inzaghi geared up for a high-octane clash at San Siro, as the first leg of Round of 16 clash between Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid took place, with the Italians passing this test with flying colors. With the game between last season’s finalists Inter and seasoned veterans from Spain, it was expected that the match would be a test of utmost patience and caliber, as both Inzaghi and Simeone playing out their strongest elevens.

A strong first half from both teams paved way for an exciting match in the second half, as hosts Inter went one man down with Marcus Thuram being replaced by Austrian giant Marko Arnautovic. Although he had missed great opportunities in the start, he went on to score the winner, thus giving Inzaghi’s men a significant upper hand, which would help them in next month’s second leg at Metropolitano.

A bit of Austrian flair

With 0-0 score line at half-time, the game was well set for a climactic finish which would see either side win, or a solitary goal, owing to the extreme defensive caliber from both teams, who displayed a fine game involving a blend of attack and defense. Although Morata came as a second-half substitute, he could not make a significant impact with Simeone’s 100th Champions League game as a manager ending in defeat.

Before Arnautovic parried the winner, he had missed several chances, with firing the shot upwards while leaving the goal gaping wide being the disastrous one. Lautaro Martinez rose to the occasion once again but his headers were saved perfectly by Jan Oblak, as the Slovenian giant was in right place at the right time to save his side from further humiliation.

With Martinez’s shot being denied one last time on the 79th minute by Oblak, Atletico custodian parried the ball towards Arnautovic, as the Austrian scored the winner with a tight angle, thus reigning supreme in a game which was poised to be a blinder. Yann Sommer kept another clean sheet, as Inter showcased their class in outpacing the Spanish side, approaching in the next leg with a bit of advantage.

FC Porto 1-0 Arsenal: Superb strike from Galeno sinks Gunners at Estadio Dragao, all to play for in second leg

Porto and Arsenal played out a thrilling encounter at Portugal, with hosts achieving a monstrous win at the last minute, thanks to a superb strike from Galeno, as Mikel Arteta’s men would have looked to end the game on stalemate. It would be interesting to see what happens in the next leg, as Arsenal would be pumped up to knock Porto out when they lock horns again in Emirates Stadium, within few weeks.

Porto brushes past Arsenal

Arsenal and Porto locked horns in the first leg of UEFA Champions League at the Round of 16 stage, a platform which the Premier League heavyweights reached after a long-term hiatus. They had achieved famous victories in the group stage, but were shoved away by Portuguese giants FC Porto at Estadio Dragao, although the game seemed to be an equal flair for both sides. Mikel Arteta, Arsenal boss has backed his side after a heartbreaking defeat which came off from a last-ditch goal by Galeno, as he has stressed on the lack of UCL experience for his boys. This defeat means Gunners need to overcome an one-goal deficit to turn things around at Emirates, which might be an uphill task for them, owing to the experience this Porto side boasts of, with former Real Madrid player Pepe becoming the oldest veteran to play in the knockout stage.

It has been heard that Porto has a good record at home against Arsenal, and were bent upon to disrupt Gunners’ flow and rhythm. The Portuguese giants had better opportunities as they were taking up the counter attack quite presumably while Arsenal had to settle back a bit and then go for the kill. Galeno had previously missed a chance to give his side a well-deserved lead, when his shot agonizingly hit the post.

An agonizing end to an intense clash

With score line at 0-0 at the end of first half, both sides had proceeded with further attacks in the second stage. As the game was approaching the end, it was thought that Arsenal might be a happier team if they go back to London with a stalemate, as it could have given them the advantage to pounce upon their Portuguese opponents at their own den. But, Galeno had other plans as he had saved his energy burst till the fag end of the game, eventually breaking millions of Gunners’ hearts.

On the fourth minute of stoppage time, Arsenal showcased a slack defending which helped Galeno to dispossess them. Along the left channel, he ran through the Arsenal defense, which was caught sleeping, and rolled it over on his right foot, before smashing it across the far corner, leaving little for keeper Raya to save, thus getting a late breakthrough, which would boost their side into the next leg in March. Thus, with this defeat, Arteta’s men blanked for the first time since the turn of the year, after smashing 21 goals in five of their previous games, as Odegaard and brigade needs lots of questions to answer before the second leg commences.

Dani Alves: Former FC Barcelona defender sentenced to prison for four years owing to allegations of physical assault

Brazilian football stalwart Dani Alves is found guilty of physically assaulting a young woman in Spanish nightclub, thus potentially calling for an end in his stellar career, as he is sentenced to jail for four years. Spanish Court has ruled this judgement where Dani is set to be behind bars for four years and six months, including a hefty payment of 1,50,000 euros to the victim.

Dani Alves: a Barcelona defensive metronome

Dani Alves is considered to be one of the greatest fullbacks Barcelona has ever produced, as his exuberance and zeal across the defensive sectors has often earned him a handsome reputation. The Brazilian star, who has plied his trade in several heavyweight clubs like Juventus and PSG, was known for his humongous ability to defend the ball coupling with his penetrative runs across the flanks. A dazzling member of Barca’s golden period few years back, Alves returned to Camp Nou for a second stint, thus etching his name among the history books once again. He was playing for UNAM, and was felicitated during Barca’s pre-season Joan Gamper trophy last season, owing to his contributions across seasons.

Things took an awful and horrific turn when he was accused of physical assault by a young woman in a nightclub at Spain, on the 31st of December, 2022. Although Alves had denied any wrongdoing during that period and maintained his innocence, a three-person panel claimed him guilty and issued an official statement, which said, “The sentence considers that it has been proven that the victim did not consent, and that there is evidence, in addition to the testimony of the plaintiff, to consider the rape proven.”

An ignominy to his decorated career

Alves is considered to be one of the decorated footballer’s in the history of the game, as he averages more than a trophy in every season he has played. With the current standings, it is confirmed that Alves has won 42 titles, including three Champions League silverwares with FC Barcelona, and two Copa America triumphs with Brazil. Having played his third World Cup in Qatar, he became one of the oldest stars to feature in an edition, with his side being eventually knocked out in the quarterfinals by Croatia.

His sentence attracted magnanimous attraction across the sporting fraternity owing to his stellar profile, with gender violation becoming an increasingly dominant issue in Spain. Although it is informed that Alves would appeal against the case, reports have stated that the charge against him is slated to stay, putting an end to a decorated career for the Brazilian.

Thomas Tuchel: FC Barcelona identify Bayern boss as their successor, news comes after German clubs confirms his departure next season

Bayern Munich manager Thomas Tuchel is slated to be identified as the next Barcelona coach, amidst confirmation reports of his departure from the Bavarian club at the end of this season. Owing to a string of poor performance, Tuchel is set to be relieved off his German duties.

Thomas Tuchel- Xavi’s successor?

FC Barcelona might rope in former Chelsea and PSG manager Thomas Tuchel as their next manager, as German giants Bayern Munich has relayed their confirmation of Tuchel departing the club at the end of this season. Coincidentally, Barca’s legendary manager Xavi is also set to be freed at the end of this tenure, as he has confirmed his decision to leave the club after a horrendous 3-5 defeat in the hands of Villarreal. With Bayern announcing on Wednesday about Tuchel’s departure, Barca club board might have been staging a contract offer to the UEFA Champions League winning coach. It has been reported that several top stars at Bayern, including Thomas Mueller, has fallen out with Tuchel, thus creating a possible rift at the dressing room, which might trigger his contract termination.

To add to their woes, Bayern are on a streak of consecutive losses, with two domestic defeats against Bayer Leverkusen and VfL Bochum left them eight points adrift of leaders Leverkusen, with a 0-1 defeat against Italian giants Lazio setting his swansong. With rumors of Xabi Alonso and former Real Madrid boss Zidane being appointed at the helm, it is increasingly getting clear that Bayern might go with the current Leverkusen boss, owing to his fantastic numbers this season.

Reports suggest possible switch from Germany to Spain

According to Sky Germany, Tuchel has been shortlisted as a potential replacements for Xavi, who is slated to leave the club at the end of this season. Xavi has had a rather mediocre season this time, comparing the standards of the Catalans, as they are currently on the third position in La Liga, trailing behind Real Madrid and surprise package Girona.

In the Champions League, they have reached Round of 16 after a hiatus of three years, and have held Napoli in an away clash impressively, with second leg at Camp Nou scheduled next month. They have previously been ousted from Copa Del Rey and Spanish Super Cup, with the latter coming against arch rivals Real Madrid.

Although a contact has always been on the air, an official statement has not issued yet, with the German eyeing a move to Catalonia, taking no break from his managerial stint. It is said that Tuchel has been studying Barca DNA for years, and a potential contract might be on the cards for the former Chelsea and PSG boss. It seems that he would be getting too many options at the end of this season, but a possibility of walking along the Barca sidelines is not ruled out at all.

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