‘I love Leo’ – Maradona denies Messi criticism

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Madrid (AFP) – Diego Maradona says he “loves” Lionel Messi and described as “false” comments attributed to him attacking his Argentine compatriot and Barcelona legend. “Leo is a friend of mine and I’d never speak ill of a friend,” Maradona assured Spanish sports newspaper Marca on Wednesday. Last month Maradona was quoted as telling Fox Sports in Mexico that Messi “is not a leader… It’s useless to try and make a leader out of someone who goes to the bathroom 20 times before a game”. He told Marca that “all that was false”. “All I said was that Leo is a phenomenon. And that there were players who go to the toilet 20 times, but I never made any reference to Leo,” he insisted. Maradona implored his fellow countryman to return to the national side after sitting out three friendlies since Argentina’s group-stage elimination from this summer’s World Cup in Continue reading "‘I love Leo’ – Maradona denies Messi criticism"

Loew to continue squad clear-out for new-look Germany

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Berlin (AFP) – Joachim Loew is set to again give youth a chance in Germany’s last internationals of 2018, against Russia and the Netherlands, as his squad clear-out continues following the World Cup debacle. Having already dropped 2014 World Cup winner Sami Khedira, Loew left Jerome Boateng out of his latest squad and now Thomas Mueller is set to again be benched for Thursday’s friendly against Russia in Leipzig. Germany head coach Loew is without Marco Reus against the Russians as the Borussia Dortmund winger has a bruised foot. After the worst 12 months in the history of the German Football Association (DFB) — Germany have never before suffered six defeats in a calendar year — change is needed, especially given their group-stage World Cup exit in Russia. Loew said the youthful forward line of 22-year-old striker Timo Werner, plus wingers Leroy Sane, 22, and Serge Gnabry, 23, will get Continue reading "Loew to continue squad clear-out for new-look Germany"

Claudio Ranieri’s journey to Fulham and back to the Premier League – video profile

Fulham have appointed Claudio Ranieri as manager in a bid to end an alarming run of form that has seen the club take five points from 12 matches this season.
Best known for leading Leicester City to their first ever Premier League title, Ranieri has been appointed as manager of 17 teams over a career spanning more than two decades.  Continue reading...

Claudio Ranieri fastens in for Premier League homecoming at Fulham | Amy Lawrence

The new manager cannot expect to repeat the success of his Leicester days but will hope his experience helps elicit a quick reaction from the struggling west London sideHi Claudio. Welcome back to a place you loved, and where you were loved. The Ranieri of the Premier League, regarded in different moments as a gentleman, a tinkerman, a caricature joker, a miracle worker, an expert at somehow maintaining composure when form has faltered and the axe has lurked, returns with the words “risk free” ringing around him. Ranieri has seen enough in 32 years of management across five countries to smile wryly at such notions before he gets to work. Preconceptions have followed Ranieri around for long enough – way longer than the infamous reaction to his supposedly leftfield appointment at Leicester City (and we all know how that turned out). A certain amount of optimism from Continue reading "Claudio Ranieri fastens in for Premier League homecoming at Fulham | Amy Lawrence"

US fans respond to European Super League idea: World Soccer Talk Podcast

< !DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> World Soccer Talk is a weekly podcast about watching soccer on TV, online and apps. In the NEW episode, number 98, Christopher Harris and Kartik Krishnaiyer cover a range of topics including: • News about English Championship clubs threatening to break away from the EFL,
• What we thought about Bundesliga’s Der Klassiker,
• You, the readers, share your opinions about the European Super League idea,
• And we have the latest TV ratings of soccer games that aired in the US. Listen to the show via the player above or via this link. Send in your questions, comments and feedback via e-mail web@worldsoccertalk.com, via Twitter (@worldsoccertalk) or Facebook. We’ll read them out on-air in the next episode.

Here are the different ways you can download the World Soccer Talk Podcast stream.

• Subscribe to the World Soccer Talk Podcast on Stitcher,
• Subscribe to the podcast via Google Continue reading "US fans respond to European Super League idea: World Soccer Talk Podcast"

Rodriguez blow for Bayern as Colombian tears knee ligament

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Berlin (AFP) – Colombia midfielder James Rodriguez is expected to be ruled out for the rest of the year after joining Bayern Munich’s list of casualties with a knee ligament injury suffered in training. Rodriguez is the fourth midfielder at the German champions to be sidelined alongside Thiago Alcantara, Corentin Tolisso, Kingsley Coman and Arjen Robben. “This is obviously bitter news. James is a very important player, in my eyes he’s our best, a creative mind, and we don’t have another one like him,” said Bayern striker Sandro Wagner. The 27-year-old Colombian’s knee will be immobilised for ten days and then undergo physiotherapy and rehabilitation, Bayern confirmed on Wednesday, without giving a return date. It looks unlikely Rodriguez will play again in 2018 with the Bundesliga’s winter break to start on December 23. Rodriguez’s absence will prove a huge blow to a Bayern side struggling for consistency. Niko Kovac’s men Continue reading "Rodriguez blow for Bayern as Colombian tears knee ligament"

The Fiver | A cuddly Italian dilly-dinging and dilly-donging outside Craven Cottage

Sign up now! Sign up now! Sign up now? Sign up now! You have to admire the chutzpah of Shahid Khan. Lest we forget, it is less than a month since Fulham’s owner responded to reports that Slavisa Jokanovic was about to be led towards the door marked Do One by using the club’s programme to criticise “sensational and fictional headlines”, telling supporters not to “believe everything you read” and declaring that he was “equal parts amused, astonished and disappointed”. The biased MSM, it seemed, had been put in its place. Hooray! You tell ‘em, Shahid! There was no way that Fulham were going to sack the man who had led them back into the Premier League! Who was going to believe that rubbish? Eh? Eh? Anyone? Well? Oh. Oh, Shahid! How could you? Continue reading...

Fulham moves on with Claudio Ranieri

Fulham logo The soccer news starts with the first managerial change since the start of the 2018-19 Premier League season. Tim Ream and Luca de la Torre have a new manager at Fulham. The club announced that Claudio Ranieri replaces Slavisa Jokanovic. Fulham is in last place in the Premier League with 5 points from 12 games, two points behind 19th-place Huddersfield and three points and a tiebreaker from getting out of the relegation places. "The objective at Fulham should never be to merely survive in the Premier League," Ranieri said. "We must at all times be a difficult opponent and should expect to succeed. This Fulham squad has exceptional talent that is contrary to its position in the table. I know this team is very capable of better performances, which we will work on straight away as we prepare for Southampton at the Cottage.” Ranieri spent last season with Nantes Continue reading "Fulham moves on with Claudio Ranieri"

Loew urged to keep giving Germany’s youth a chance

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Berlin (AFP) – Joachim Loew is being urged to keep giving youth a chance in Germany’s last internationals of 2018, against Russia and the Netherlands, as his team battle Nations League relegation. “You always need a good mix, but the younger players have shown they have the potential,” admitted Loew, referring to last month’s 2-1 defeat by world champions France when a youthful side lost in Paris to stay bottom of their Nations League group. However, he hinted his senior players may still have a future during his tenure by adding: “The young players are not yet mature enough, they need guidance and seniors there to help them. “We have one year to prepare for Euro 2020 and to integrate young players.” However, Loew, under contract as head coach until 2022, cannot escape the fact that 2018 has been the worst year in the history of the German Football Continue reading "Loew urged to keep giving Germany’s youth a chance"

Christian Pulisic open to Premier League move with Chelsea leading chase

• Borussia Dortmund forward out of contract in 2020
• ‘There is no reason why maybe one day I won’t play here’Christian Pulisic has said he is open to moving to the Premier League, with Chelsea understood to be leading the race to sign the forward from Borussia Dortmund next summer. The USA international is expected to face his clubmate Jadon Sancho at Wembley on Thursday having been left out of the Dortmund side that beat Bayern Munich on Saturday in favour of the 18-year-old Englishman. Continue reading...

The rapid rise of Crystal Palace’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka

< !DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> Last year at this time, very few, if any, Premier League fans had even heard of Aaron Wan-Bissaka. At the time, the Crystal Palace defender had yet to play a senior level match for the south London club and only managed one appearance for the Democratic Republic of the Congo U20 team. Finally, after being with the club for nine years, the 20-year-old right back was able to break into the first team under manager Roy Hodgson back in February. With fellow defenders Martin Kelly, Joel Ward, and Jeffrey Schlupp all nursing injuries at the time, Wan-Bissaka was given his first Premier League start with the team on February 25th. Though Palace fell 1-0 on the day, the youngster was widely praised for his play on the day. Impressive as that appearance may have be, it is even more remarkable considering the rookie was up against a very strong Tottenham
Continue reading "The rapid rise of Crystal Palace’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka"

Plan for £5m Scudamore gift shows football no longer the people’s game | Paul Wilson

Giving Richard Scudamore, the outgoing Premier League chief executive, £5m sends out a terrible message to supporters struggling to meet the cost of their season ticketsHere is a handy memo to future historians of the national sport in this country. Note the date of 13 November 2018, because with the announcement of plans for Richard Scudamore’s parting gift of £5m – £250,000 to be volunteered by each Premier League club – it marks the formal end of football’s 140-year life as the people’s game. Not that anyone will necessarily notice the difference. The whole point about modern football, a case in point being Manchester City’s alleged infractions of the Financial Fair Play rules, is that so much money is now involved, with its provenance repeatedly proving difficult if not impossible to track down, that there is little the ordinary guy in a striped scarf or replica shirt can Continue reading "Plan for £5m Scudamore gift shows football no longer the people’s game | Paul Wilson"

PSG face fresh Financial Fair Play allegations

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Paris (AFP) – UEFA said Wednesday that further examination of French giants Paris Saint-Germain’s alleged flaunting of Financial Fair Play rules would have to await a ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. In the latest revelation from Football Leaks, French sports daily L’Equipe said UEFA was considering ordering PSG to amend its accounts to drastically re-assess the value of its sponsorship contract with the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA). The Qatari-owned club originally declared the contract to be worth 100 million euros in the financial years of 2013-2014 and 2014-2015.  L’Equipe said UEFA’s financial oversight body was now insisting that sum be reduced to 58 million euros. The effect of the change would be to plunge the French champions heavily into deficit, meaning they could fall foul of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules. That would leave PSG facing UEFA penalties, including a possible ban from the Champions
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Kante turned down offshore payments from Chelsea: report

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Paris (AFP) – France midfielder N’Golo Kante refused to have part of his Chelsea salary paid under advantageous tax terms in Jersey or to receive offshore payments for his image rights, according to a Football Leaks investigation published on Wednesday. The report by French investigative site Mediapart says that six weeks before Kante left Leicester for Chelsea in 2016, a company called NK Promotions was registered in Jersey, in an apparent attempt to pay 10 percent of the players’ income abroad to avoid tax. Mediapart was unsure whether the company was set up by Chelsea or Kante’s relatives. At first, Kante’s lawyer suggested his client would “approve” the set-up, but last year the 27-year-old insisted through his tax advisor that he refused to take any offshore payments. “N’Golo is inflexible, he simply wants a normal salary,” Kante’s tax advisor said in May 2017 in an email sent to Chelsea executives. Continue reading "Kante turned down offshore payments from Chelsea: report"

Referee suspended over using rock, paper, scissors instead of coin toss in WSL game

• David McNamara suspended for three weeks
• Incident happened before Man City v Reading gameReferee David McNamara has been suspended for three weeks after accepting a charge of “not acting in the best interests of the game” before a Women’s Super League match in which he used a game of rock, paper, scissors instead of the traditional coin toss to decide who should kick off. A Football Association spokesperson confirmed that McNamara will return to duty from 17 December. Continue reading...

Leicester City helicopter crash investigators focus on tail rotor

Aircraft failed to respond to pedal commands before crash, according to black box data The helicopter that crashed outside Leicester City’s football stadium, killing five people including the club’s owner, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, failed to respond to the pilot’s pedal commands in the moments before it started spinning downwards, investigators have found. A special bulletin released by the Air Accident Investigation Board said the immediate focus would be to examine the helicopter’s tail rotor control system – which safety agencies have ordered to be checked in all similar models. Black box data showed the aircraft “yawed to the right” when the pedal should have sent it left. Continue reading...

La Liga could teach the Premier League about being competitive

Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool are disproving the theory that ‘anyone can beat anyone’ in the Premier League By Martin Laurence for WhoScored There are many factors to consider when assessing what makes one league better than another, but over the years the Premier League has been held up as a competition where anyone can beat anyone. That is, of course, true of any league, but it is an increasingly ill-informed assumption when applied to England’s top flight. The notion that the Premier League is more competitive than its competitors is being put to bed this season. There are currently six unbeaten teams in Europe’s big leagues and half of them are from England, with Juventus, Borussia Dortmund and PSG all matching the unbeaten records of Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea. This is the first time in the history of English football that three top-flight sides have made it through Continue reading "La Liga could teach the Premier League about being competitive"