Football

Yamal continues breaking records; Xavi calls to renew Roberto; Bayer humble Bayern 3-0; Salernitana to sack Inzaghi; Saudi win ACL

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

Lamine Yamal: FC Barcelona wonderkid sets record milestone; becomes youngest to score brace in La Liga

FC Barcelona prodigy Lamine Yamal has etched his name among the history books once again, as he becomes the youngest player to record a brace in Barca’s last night stalemate of 3-3 against Granada CF.

Lamine Yamal: a La Masia magician

La Masia has always been a powerhouse of Spain’s footballing talents. An academy of the Spanish giants FC Barcelona, La Masia has always produced world-class talents who have swooned the football world with their elegance and exuberance, as the list contains several top class stars like Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi. But, as is evident with the plethora of the youngsters Barca is currently fielding in their starting eleven, it seems that the might and caliber of La Masia has not diminished yet.

Adding to the prestigious list of Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Barca’s latest throng of youngsters have already etched their name among the history books, creating and breaking records every single day. Pedri, Gavi, Ansu Fati had already been on the rise, coupled with that, the Catalans have found few new gems this season, in the form of Lamine Yamal, Marc Guiu, Hector Fort and Pau Cubarsi. Lamine has been a regular starter for the club, and his meteoric rise has already impressed fans and critics likewise, thus earning early comparisons with the face of the club, Lionel Messi, owing to their similar playstyle.

Youngest to score a brace in La Liga

Lamine created another record last night when he scored his second goal of the game, when Barca equalized against Granada CF. The defending champions were trailing to relegation strugglers Granada 2-3, when Lamine decided to go all guns blazing in securing the tie. Previously, he had opened the scoring, when a swift assist from Joao Cancelo fell to his feet, only for the youngster to smash the ball in their opponent’s net.

With his swift dribbling skills along the flanks, often coupled with his dazzling pace, Lamine has also been called up for the national team, where he scored his debut, becoming the youngest scorer for the national team, surpassing fellow mate Ansu Fati and Gavi. Last night, when he hit the second goal, he became the youngest player to get his name on 10 goals and assists, with 16 years and 213 days. Although Barca had a frustrating night, faltering against minnows Granada, Lamine’s form would indeed be a silver lining for Xavi’s men in their title race.

Sergi Roberto: FC Barcelona manager Xavi speaks about contract extension of skipper, encourages club board

FC Barcelona manager Xavi has opened up to the club board about a possible contract extension of skipper Sergi Roberto, as the homegrown legend’s contract is slated to be terminated at the end of this season.

Sergi Roberto- the star of famous ‘remontada’

Sergi Roberto has been one of the legendary defenders among the ranks of FC Barcelona. The homegrown star, whose meteoric rise among the Barca hierarchy fetched him a well-earned senior team call-up, was touted to be the best right-backs following the legendary Dani Alves, who had etched his name among the history book owing to his excellence. Roberto has shared the dressing room with some of the greats of the club, which includes Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and others, and is often considered to be a mentor for the youngsters in the club, which include Alejandro Balde, Hector Fort and Pau Cubarsi among others. But, if Roberto makes his name into the record diaries, he would always be remembered for his final minute heroics in Barcelona’s epic comeback against of 6-1 in the UEFA Champions League against PSG.

Barca had lost the first leg away at Parc des Princes 0-4, with Luis Enrique claiming that if any opponent scores four goals, his team has the guts to smash them with six, and few days later, as the second leg commenced, Barca defeated PSG 6-1, thus advancing into the next stages, owing to a 6-5 aggregate goals. Roberto scored the final goal from Neymar’s free-kick, thus sealing the deal for the club, and etching his name among the club’s rich history.

“Renew him”

Xavi has always praised the captaincy and might of Sergi Roberto, and the versatility he brings to the squad, where he was often seen as a midfielder rather than being a proper right-back. Although it was reported that he would be on his way out at the end of this season, Xavi has urged the club board to renew Roberto’s contract, citing his importance.

The former Barca and Al-Sadd player was heard speaking, “I don’t know if it will be his last season. My recommendation to the club is to renew him. I think he’s a very important team player, both in the locker room and on the field.”

Although he is currently on the sidelines nursing an important injury, it is expected that he would be back within few weeks, as Barca look to maintain their hopes in the title race, hosting Granada this weekend.

Bayer Leverkusen 3-0 Bayern Munich: Xabi Alonso masterclass ousts Bayern from title race; etches name in the history books after humongous run

Bayer Leverkusen has thumped fellow title counterparts Bayern Munich 3-0, in a fiery clash which has etched Xabi Alonso’s name among the record books for 31 consecutive unbeaten games. To add to the woes of Bayern Munich, defending champions find themselves five points adrift of record-breaking leaders, with a rather ordinary performance almost deciding the course of the title.

Bayern humbled by Bayer

It was a week of title deciders in European football with two of the top leagues, La Liga and Bundesliga were set to destine their winners along the course. It seems that in the German installment, fans are waiting for a miraculous outcome, which is almost on the verge of breaking Bayern Munich’s consecutive 11-year winning streak, as Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen is on a fairytale run of 31 unbeaten games, adding one more after outclassing fellow title contenders Bayern Munich 3-0, in a night which almost decided the fate of a German winner.

In what was labelled to be a thoroughly deserving victory, Xabi Alonso’s men once again showcased their exuberance and a bit of luck, which has dashed hopes of Bayern’s Harry Kane, who would be looking for a first title in his entire career. With an unbeaten streak of 21 games, Bayer would rather be hopeful of terminating Bayern’s unmatched importance at the top of the table.

A delay at the start, followed by a ramp-up

With the game being delayed by 10 minutes due to fans’ protest, Bayer soon found themselves on the lead within the first 20 minutes. It was on-loan Stanisic who began to inflict the pain on his parent club, as Florian Wirtz, the wonderkid was instrumental once again with his prized possession to create a scathing attack, which left Bayern defense on their knees, thus forcing a corner. From the set-piece, it was Andrich who lashed his shot across the goal, only for Stanisic to find the back post, thus giving his side a lead. After scoring, he refused to celebrate, respecting his loan move to Leverkusen from the defending champions.

After grabbing few more opportunities in the first half, Neuer kept the score line at 1-0 at the break, thus promising to be an enthralling second half, as Bayern were expected to come all guns blazing, bolstering their attacking options. Although the hosts missed some tight chances, it did not came back to haunt them, as they made a perfect start in the second half.

Grimaldo and Frimpong dashes Bavarian dreams

With a 1-0 lead at the break, Xabi Alonso’s men were slated to ramp-up their attack, as they would be happy to see off the game with a win. As a result, Grimaldo and Tella combined to double up their lead, as the former smashed the ball into Bayern’s net, thus nailing the Bavarian dreams of achieving a win. Grimaldo combined his record of scoring in both games, as he had scored a blitzkrieg from the free-kick in the reverse fixture.

Just when Tuchel thought that they would not be considering any more, Frimpong pounced upon their defensive line, thus scoring in an open net, racing forward with his pace, analogous with the title race, as Bayer seems to be running away with the title, five points clear at the top. Harry Kane might be without another major trophy this season, as it gets evident as all is not well on the German front.

Filippo Inzaghi: Salernitana set to sack legendary coach, Gazzetta informs about an official announcement

Italian legend Filippo Inzaghi has once again been under the scanner as an official announcement of his dismissal from Serie A strugglers Salernitana is looming over. This decision is set to be strengthened after his side’s 1-3 defeat in the hands of Empoli, which might have put the final nail in the coffin for the legendary Azzurri.

Filippo Inzaghi: a legend of the game

Italian superstar Filippo Inzaghi has been one of the greatest ever to play for the Azzurris. The former AC Milan striker, who is currently at the helm of Serie A strugglers Salernitana, has been considered to be a legend, whose exuberance and striking efficiency was considered to be an epitome of Italian football. But, as they say, some greatest footballers might not be best at their managerial stints, with Inzaghi’s name right at the top of the list. He took over from Paulo Sousa in mid-October, owing to a string of mediocre results, but has hardly able to turn things right for the club, who are currently reeling on the 20th place, mustering 13 points from 24 outings.

A horrific record

In his short stint of little more than three months, Inzaghi has returned with figures of three wins, four draws and eleven losses in eighteen games he has been on the sidelines, with his charges shifting between Coppa Italia and Serie A. At the end of October, a huge win marked his beginning as his side registered a historic 4-0 victory over Sampdoria in the Cup. But, this huge victory was lopsided when Juventus kicked them out of the coveted Coppa Italia by smashing six goals past them, emerging victorious by 6-1 score line.

Gazzetta dello Sport informs that an official announcement of his sacking is set be published within few hours, as a 1-3 loss against Empoli might be acting as the final blow for the legend. Current frontrunners to replace him are Davide Ballardini and Leo Semplici, both of whom are prepared to take up new jobs after working their time in Cremonese and Spezia, respectively.

Kobbie Mainoo: Manchester United youngster set to sign an important contract with the Red Devils, set for a long term at the Theatre of Dreams

Manchester United prodigy Kobbie Mainoo is set to sign an important deal with the Red Devils, as he has emerged to be an important player for Erik Ten Hag’s side. United fans might not have got much to cheer for this season, owing to their catastrophic performances throughout, but the stellar rise of Mainoo has definitely gave them a reason to support their favorite club.

Kobbie Mainoo: the English prodigy

Kobbie Mainoo is the latest kid on the hierarchy of your footballing talents across the world. The young Manchester United star, who has swooned over at Old Trafford, with his exuberance and composure at just 18 years, is considered to be the next big thing in World Football. He has seamlessly slotted himself into the first squad, with the team reeling with numerous injuries and absentees, and has taken over the Theatre of Dreams with his magic feet. If someone is new to his footballing masterclass, that person should see his blitzkrieg winner against Wolves at the dying minutes, which has perfectly etched his name among the history books, with several former Manchester United legends labelling him as a perfect United player, who can keep the flag of United flying high.

A long-term contract on the cards?

According to football transfer pundit Fabrizio Romano, Manchester United are exploring options to keep the 18-year old superstar on a long-term basis. He is already agreed to a contract till 2027 with his boyhood club, with an option to extend one more year, but the Red Devils would look to put pen-on-paper a lengthier contract, which will confirm his presence as a future of the legendary club.

Romano mentioned in CaughtOffside, ““Kobbie Mainoo is one of the best talents around the world and doing fantastic for Manchester United in the midfield. So much so that Man United are already preparing a new contract proposal.”

He further mentioned, “It’s not an urgent situation so Man United are not forced to do it as soon as possible, but they want to do it this year, in 2024, because the player’s contract is still long. They want Kobbie to be one of the faces of the project for the present and the future. He is a great talent who deserves a salary to match, but it’s just as important to make him feel like an important player for Manchester United.”

With the likes of Garnacho, Mainoo and Hojlund along the ranks of the club, United indeed have a bright future in their hands, as they look to strengthen their core squad, based on the forces of their youngsters.

Al-Hilal 2-0 Al-Nassr: Cristiano Ronaldo returns from injury as their arch rivals Al-Hilal register a thumping victory in Riyadh Season Cup; the Undertaker makes a haunting appearance

Al-Hilal comfortably outclassed their Saudi Pro League rivals Al-Nassr 2-0 in the Riyadh Season Cup, thus fashioning a sweet cup glory, as Portuguese stalwart Cristiano Ronaldo’s return from injury was marred by the defeat. In a contrasting game of emotions, legendary WWE Wrestler The Undertaker was present at the end to unveil the trophy to Al-Hilal, bringing two sports closer on the Arabian soil.

Al-Hilal shoves away arch rivals Al-Nassr

In a classy game which involved several superstars of football, it was Saudi Pro League leaders Al-Hilal who showcased their class and exuberance in brushing aside bitter rivals Al-Nassr, a team which houses one of football’s greatest, Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese started the game, marking his return from injury which had kept him out of the “Last Dance”, a legendary rendezvous with his generational rival Lionel Messi, when Inter Miami were blanked 0-6 by Al-Nassr in the first game of the Riyadh Season Cup.

As Saudi League resumes next week owing to a break due to the Asian Cup detour, where Saudi Arabia crashed out of the tournament after a penalty shoot-out defeat to South Korea, fans would not be disappointed with the country treated to the presence of football’s finest stars, encompassing Messi, Suarez to Ronaldo, Laporte and Mitrovic. In the final game of Riyadh Season Cup, it was an all-Saudi clash between Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr, with the side in blue winning the fixture, outclassing their opponents.

Two first-half goals diminish Al-Nassr’s chances

Although Al-Hilal might not have been clinical, they were potent enough to capitalize on the chances they got. As the clock struck 17 minutes, Saud Abdulhamid was instrumental in giving the side a lead, when his run along the right paved way for Serbian giant Milinkovic-Savic, who stepped forward to take the shot, calmly slotting it past Al-Nassr custodian Raghed Al-Najjar, whose outstretched hand little to save the ball from going inside.

Former Barcelona star Malcolm was close to double the lead, but his well-placed shot was saved by Al-Najjar, thus keeping the score line at 1-0. But, after 12 minutes, the score was doubled by Al-Dawsari, who was fed by Malcolm just ahead of the goal, as the 2022 World Cup hero against Argentina perfectly chipping the ball over Al-Najjar, thus ending the game in the first half itself. With Al-Nassr imposing firmly with their might, the Saudi Pro League leaders held firm on their defense, thus winning the mid-season cup, with a twist at the end.

A bit of WWE at the end!

Saudi Arabian fans were treated with the presence of the great WWE wrestling legend The Undertaker, who received a huge reception upon his arrival on the ground. In his traditional haunting attire, the 6’10” American beast unveiled the trophy in front of the packed stadium, garnering huge applause from the fans. With his trademark entrance music playing at the back of Kingdom Arena, he unveiled the trophy, thus Riyadh Season Cup signing off, as Saudi Pro League prepares to resume.

Lamine Yamal: FC Barcelona prodigy speaks about playing for the Catalans; strengthens on his capabilities to be in the first team

Lamine Yamal has been one of the heroes of Spanish defending champions FC Barcelona, as the 16-year old La Masia prodigy has taken the field by storm, owing to his exceptional abilities along the flanks, often leading to frantic comparisons with the legend of the club, Lionel Messi, who is currently plying his trade with MLS outfit Inter Miami.

Lamine Yamal- a La Masia metronome

Lamine Yamal- a 16-year old boy from the ranks of Barcelona’s famous academy, La Masia, which has been on the highlights since last decades, owing to the rise of legendary stalwarts like Xavi, Messi, Iniesta and Alba, has once again proved that the future of Spanish football in well on the rise.

Yamal, whose meteoric rise in the academy’s roster has earned him a regular place in the starting line-up for Xavi, was presented with a prestigious award of “Male Athlete with the Greatest Potential”, thus earning the first of many accolades as the youngster would be pumped up with it.

FC Barcelona had struggled this season, with some mediocre and cynical performances and some dazzling performances keeping them on a respectable third position. Lamine’s performance across the wings has been a silver lining for Xavi this season, as his addition in the starting line-up has indeed bolstered the attacking mentality in the team.

With Dembele triggering his release clause and signing for PSG, and regular starters like Raphinha and Ferran being recuperating from injury, Lamine stepped up to fill in the big shoes, often sighted as providing assists to Lewandowski or Vitor Roque, coupled with his menacing skills across the field, earning him comparisons with the great Lionel Messi.

A next-gen star in the making

Since all forwards reeling with injuries, Lamine had enough work to do to get into the starting eleven, and has rightly proved everyone about his caliber. In the last few weeks, he has already featured in 23 games, got his name etched on the scoresheet, providing two assists, thus completing an all-round performance.

He was heard speaking after receiving the award, as he mentioned, “I am proud to receive this award, I am very happy. I also want to thank Barcelona and my family for always helping me. Playing for Barcelona at the age of 16? I don’t think about it much, because otherwise I would be thinking about it all the time. It’s a dream, and it’s what I have always dreamed of.”

As Raphinha nears recovery, Lamine is set to be given some rest after he has impressed fans with his ability, as fans would dread the condition of Ansu Fati, who had faced the same fate after rigorous game time, eventually being injured for most of the time.

Brentford vs Manchester City: Phil Foden hattrick breaks Brentford jinx, as City back in fray for the title

Manchester City have finally broken the shackles of Brentford as homegrown Phil Foden’s hattrick have taken the Bees to the cleaners, with the Englishman being the hero of the game with his heroic exploits. Although City fans were staring at another defeat to Brentford thanks to a Maupay goal on the 21st minute, it was Pep Guardiola’s side who reigned supreme at the end of the game.

Manchester City brushes past Brentford

In the history of football, there are several clubs which almost find it difficult to get past their specific opponents on multiple occasions. There are some rivalries which always promises to be a thriller every time the sides meet, for instance, El Clasico, Manchester Derby.

For the last two seasons, Manchester City has found it rather difficult in defeating a rather weak team in the Premier League, Brentford, a side which manages to stay in the middle of the table at the season-end.

Pep Guardiola’s men might be the champions of English football, but they have fallen in front of Brentford, as the Bees, with the likes of Ivan Toney and Maupay, seem to get the better of them on each occasions. Last night, it was another performance from them, which almost saw them through, but homegrown Phil Foden of Manchester City decided to go berserk, scored a hattrick, thus breaking the jinx.

Maupay draws first blood, as City braces for another shock

With a strong line-up fielded by both sides, it was promised to be a nailbiter, provided the form these both teams are in. Manchester City were on the third place, and a win could skyrocket their chances into the second place, closely behind Liverpool, as Brentford would have looked to get far away from the relegation zone. Bees’ keeper Mark Flekken proved to be a star, as he assisted Maupay in the first goal, as his long ball was lobbed by the Frenchman, with the Everton loanee cascading the ball into the bottom corner on the 21st minute, helping the home side get a shock lead.

City, on the other hand, quite expectedly held their fort in dominant possession, creating ample opportunities, but Flekken, accompanied by his defensive forces, thwarted off any potential chance. It took a moment of magic from homegrown Phil Foden who took opportunity of the lapse in concentration of Bees’ stoppers, volleying the ball into the Brentford net, just at the stroke of half-time.

Foden masterclass on display

Phil Foden is considered to be one of the finest players in the hierarchy of Manchester City, as the homegrown star proved once again why is he known as a classic magician. With the score tied 1-1 at half-time, the second half had promised to be a blockbuster, with Foden starting the proceedings with his traditional header from a pinpoint cross from Kevin De Bruyne, thus the ball slotted into bottom corner, thus gaining the lead of 2-1.

Rodri showcased his exuberance on the field, when he made a successful block of Norgaard’s shot, thus fans strengthening on the fact about the omnipresence of the Spaniard, as City has won every game which had Rodri in the starting line-up.

Foden broke the defensive line once more when Brentford paid the price of a hapless defense, thus completing his perfect hattrick, leading his side to a much anticipated victory which saw City leapfrog Arsenal into the second place, having a game in hand.

Jordan 2-0 South Korea: 87th-ranked Jordan inflicts more Asian Cup pain on Son Heung-Min’s Korea, advances to finals after remarkable performance

In a quite unexpected but fascinating news, Jordan and South Korea were slated to meet each other in the semifinals of AFC Asian Cup 2023, with 87th-ranked Jordan emerging victorious over heavyweights South Korea, thus completing a shock result, thus proceeding to the finals.

Jordan stuns South Korea

AFC Asian Cup and AFCON, these tournaments has gifted football fans some stunning results in last few weeks, comprising regular results to upsets which have indeed helped football fanatics to stay put on the fact that football is beautiful. Speaking about African Cup of Nations, Mohamed Salah’s side Egypt were knocked out, followed by the departure of Riyad Mahrez’s Algeria.

But last night, it was Asian Cup’s turn to make people believe about the generosity and wildness of the game, as tournament favorites South Korea, comprising the likes of Tottenham skipper Son Heung-Min, Wolves star Hwang-Hee Chan, PSG superstar Lee Kang-In, were bamboozled out of the tournament by rather minnows, Jordan, as they defeated the Koreans in a fashionable score line of 2-0, with no late antics from Son, as they have bounced back from being a goal down in the stoppage time, thus winning the game eventually.

In a game which looked like a potential away-game for the Koreans, owing to the humongous support from Jordan supporters, Korea was inflicted with some strong football defense from their opponents, which eventually led to a comprehensive yet valiant 0-0 score line in the first half, thanks to out-of-the-box plans from Jordan boss, leaving little answers to find for Jurgen Klinsmann’s side.

A second half blitzkrieg

After restart, it seemed like Jordan were pumped up to continue their dream run in the tournament, thus going all guns blazing, and exposing their stylish opponents to some strong thinking. When these sides met in the group stage, the match ended 2-2, with the rise of Jordan evitable in the upcoming games. It was Al-Naimat, who played the role of tormentor-in-chief once again, scoring the opener on the 53rd minute. It was Taamari who exposed the Korean defense by a penetrative pass, with the 24-year old forward chipping over Korean custodian to score his third goal of the tournament.

Later, Taamari took matter in his own hands to put the final nail in the coffin for the Koreans, when his outstanding solo run, comprising some twists and turns, sent their opponent defense into a haywire, thus scoring the second goal in a rather fashionable manner, sending their fans into a frenzy in the stadium. Although Son’s brigade did everything they could to salvage some pride, as they have done in the previous games, but they were not destined to get past the Jordan wall, thus crashing out of the tournament in a rather painful manner.

Jordan’s coach was heard heaping praise on his players, as he said, “The players delivered a heroic performance. The X-factor was we didn’t need to give South Korea more respect than needed. Based on their record in their last few games, they conceded goals and we knew it was possible to score against them, that was the turning point.”

Korean boss Klinsmann has accepted the responsibility of the defeat, as he said, “Obviously we’re disappointed. We had the big goal of playing in the final but Jordan deserves this win, they deserve to play in the final. They played more aggressively, they won almost every one-v-one battle and they got better. I’m not planning to do anything, I will analyze this tournament, go back to Korea with the team and talk with the federation about what was good and not so good in the tournament.”

Deco: FC Barcelona sporting director speaks about Joao Cancelo and Joao Felix, says “we will try to sign both”

FC Barcelona sporting director Deco has mentioned about the possibility of signing two of their favored players this season, Joao Cancelo and Joao Felix, as the Portuguese duo has been swooning over Montjuic since the day they have joined the club.

The importance of two ‘Joaos’

FC Barcelona are slowly returning back to winning ways, rounding off a fruitful week with six points, mustering two wins against Alaves and Osasuna within a span of three days, with Latest recruit, Brazilian wonderkid, Vitor Roque wreaking havoc on the ground, showing glimpse of his finesse. With a staggering announcement by manager Xavi of departing the club at the end of the season after a harrowing 3-5 defeat in the hands of Villarreal, the Blaugranas have clawed their way back in the league, with hefty performances from the entire squad, with an urge to prove something evident from their attitude. 18-year old wonderkid from Brazil, Vitor Roque, who would be looking to fill in the legacy left by his predecessors Neymar and Ronaldinho, has made his mark with instant impact after coming on the field, thus impressing his fans and critics likewise.

Deco, who was appointed the Sporting Director of FC Barcelona few months back, has got candid about the signings and the players who have performed well this season. He also spoke about the importance of Barcelona’s ‘Joao-bonding’, as Manchester City loanee Joao Cancelo and Atletico Madrid loanee Joao Felix have been performing on the top-tier since their inclusion in the squad.

He mentioned, “I want to make it clear that this team was never asked to win; what was asked is to compete because when you compete well the chances of winning increase. If you ask me today, I believe that La Liga is not over. Saturday’s victory gives us some hope. The next matches before Napoli will be important, for us and for our rivals.”

About the ‘Joaos’, Deco said, “Cancelo is doing very well. Felix started very well too and he brought us very important points. We will try to sign both of them.”

Speaking about Xavi’s departure

Deco, along with millions of Culers across the world were shook with the fact about the sudden decision by Xavi, which has left the thought of finding his successor lingering in everyone’s mind. He was heard speaking, “I didn’t expect it. I’m with him on a day-to-day basis and we’d been planning arrivals like Vitor Roque for weeks. Or deciding if with Balde’s injury we had access to signings in the winter… There is always speculation, but I never thought about that. We were talking about next season, that’s why he was renewed.”

Speaking about Laporta’s handling of this shock, Deco mentioned, “He always wanted to be with him until the end of his mandate. It was Xavi who from the beginning wanted a shorter contract. He told us: ‘If I don’t win, I don’t think I will continue.”

While he spoke about the transfers, Deco mentioned about the importance of the depth in squad, as he said about the importance of Lewandowski and Raphinha. He mentioned, “But let’s see. If I’m not mistaken, Lewandowski was the top scorer last season. Raphinha was wanted by Chelsea and Arsenal and played more minutes than Dembele scoring goals and assists… I detect too much nostalgia. It’s been 20 years.”

As of the current scenario, Barca would be looking to continue their winning momentum, as Marc Andre Ter Stegen is expected to start in the next game against Granada CF, as the Catalans eye a Champions League knockout victory after years, when they face Napoli.

Inter Milan 1-0 Juventus: Nerazzuris sweep aside fellow title contenders Juventus in an enthralling encounter; go top of the league

Inter Milan and Juventus played out an intense clash as two top-of-the-table teams fought till the end to ensure a proper thriller, as Simone Inzaghi’s men reigned supreme over his counterpart, to race to the top position, drifting further away from second placed Juventus. An unfortunate Federico Gatti own goal led Allegri’s side find themselves within four points of first-placed Inter.

A clash of the titans

Inter Milan and Juventus eked out a thriller at San Siro, with two top teams eyeing the pivotal spot, in one of the fascinating Serie A seasons in last few years. In a game which had several emotions in stake, with fans being treated to an absolute nail-biter, Inter emerged victorious, with a ‘little’ help from Juventus defender Federico Gatti, as the big Italian hit the ball in his own net, thus helping the Nerazzuris to strengthen their position at the top.

With a mouth-watering clash on the cards, both tacticians managed to bring their strongest eleven on the field, with Simone Inzaghi vouching for a 3-5-2 formation, with Thuram and Martinez on the front, followed by a five-throng midfield, comprising a beautiful juxtaposition of youth and experience. Defense comprised the enterprising troika of Pavard, Bastoni and Acerbi.

As for Juventus, Allegri opted for a similar pattern of formation, as his frontline strikers included Vlahovic and Yildiz. With a five-throng midfield comprising the likes of Kostic, Rabiot, Locatelli, Cambiaso and McKennie, Juventus went with a midfield-heavy approach, as defensive duties rested upon the trident of Bremer, Gatti and Danilo, and Szczesny under the sticks.

Gatti’s blunder causes defeat

As the game started, it was evident from both sides that they wanted to go all guns blazing, as a top spot in the Serie A table and a Scudetto in sight was lurking for both sides. Both teams have had similar number of shots, but it was a horrendous mistake from defender Fede Gatti, which shook the defensive sturdiness of the Bianconeri.

It was Nicolo Barella who had whipped a cross past the right flank, which was blatantly missed by Pavard, who attempted an acrimonious overhead shot, going to Thuram. But the Frenchman had little to do with a diving header, but it bounced off Gatti’s chest, thus giving the home side a much-anticipated lead. As the match progressed, both sides made chances, but it was Inter who prevailed till the end, thus completing a sweet victory, reigning at the top spot.

Jubilant Inzaghi was heard saying at the end of the game, “I liked how the team played tonight, the team was really good, we played very well technically and we were always focused. It’s an important step but absolutely not decisive — as I said before the match — but clearly it’s a great night, in front of our own fans who really helped us right from the moment we got to the stadium.”

On the contrary, Allegri said, “It was a difficult match, we knew it would be, against a team like Inter that deserves its first place in the league. It was an important step in our path of growth. We can improve but it’s been a difficult week, we need to now work calmly to get back to winning ways.”

Aleksander Ceferin: UEFA President confirms his decision of not running for presidency in 2027, hits out at critics

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin has announced his decision to step down from the president portfolio after his current tenure ends, as he hits out at “nonsense projects of Super League”, which might have let his decision to take shape. He has also confirmed that he would not be running for presidency in 2027.

Ceferin announces decision of stepping down

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin might have announced a shock decision to terminate his tenure at the end of the current presidency, which was relayed moments after UEFA Congress passed a green signal which would allow him to stand for another term, in 2027, owing to his incompletion of the full length in his first term, when he took over Platini, who was forced to resign eight years ago, in 2016. During his term, he vowed to reform several rules and had introduced the rule of senior executives spending three terms, but as criticism surfaced with several parties informing about his intentions to run for the presidency once more, the 56-year old has confirmed to step down last summer, citing reasons of not spending enough time with his family.

He said that he had kept the news in private, vouching reasons to unmask several people, as he said that although he can run for the term till 2031, he would not continue that, taking a dig at former Chief of Football Zvonimir Boban, who resigned on January 25.

“I am tired”

After the voting procedures concluded, Ceferin addressed the media, citing his information and details about stepping down. He was heard saying, “I could legally run until 2031, the congress decided to vote in the change and that’s how serious organizations work. The statutes had to be changed or term limits would not exist at all. I am a lawyer, and articles were written about me – it was strange that I didn’t get any questions.”

He continued, “Factually, it’s my decision if I want to run after 2027. Honestly speaking, I am tired of Covid, tired of two wars, nonsense projects of so-called super leagues and self-proclaimed moral authorities who are only moral until it comes to their personal interest. My family knew it first, and then I told just some of my friends and colleagues. I intentionally did not want to disclose my thoughts for two reasons. First, I wanted to see the real face of some people – and I saw it. I saw good and bad parts.”

“I didn’t want to influence the Congress”

Ceferin further relayed, “And, of course, I didn’t want to influence the congress. I wanted them to decide, not knowing what I’m telling you today, because that’s an honest decision. Now, just two sentences about the self-proclaimed moral authority. The person you know I am speaking about, does not deserve a comment from my side. But people who know him and me will make their own opinion.”

Hitting at Boban, he said, “Just one thing about his pathetic cry about morality. He was one of the people who knew I was planning not to run in 2027. The moment he had the information I would disclose this after congress, he went out with his narcissistic letter. He could not wait because after my disclosure, his whining would not make sense any more. Now think – whose personal aspirations are in question, and whose morality is in question?”

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