Marseille suffer second Champions League heartbreak in four days

Marseille had to beat Atlético Madrid in the Europa League final or finish third in Ligue 1 to qualify for the Champions League. They did neither but should still be proud of their season By Adam White and Eric Devin for Get French Football News Marseille’s longest-serving player, Steve Mandanda, started the week by winning his record-breaking fifth goalkeeper of the year award in France. His team-mate, Florian Thauvin, was shortlisted for the player of the year award after scoring 22 goals in Ligue 1 and Luiz Gustavo also capped a fine individual season by featuring in the team of the year. Marseille have made immense progress this season, competing on two fronts despite their severely limited squad, but any mood of jubilation around the club last weekend has been battered by their failure to qualify for the Champions League twice in four days. Their defeat to Atlético Madrid in Continue reading "Marseille suffer second Champions League heartbreak in four days"

Lazio’s late implosion against Inter could haunt the club for years to come | Paolo Bandini

Inter-bound Stefan De Vrij was at the centre of a wild collapse as Lazio surrendered a Champions League place to Inter Stefan De Vrij folded himself up small and hid his face underneath a training top, but he could not stop the cameras from honing in on him as he sat for the final time in Lazio’s home dugout. The curtain was coming down on the 2017-18 Serie A season, and the team whose shirt he was still wearing had just lost its Champions League spot to the one he will play for next year. A messy situation under any circumstances, but even more so for how events unfolded. Lazio had led 2-1 with 12 minutes remaining against Inter, in a game they only needed to draw. That was before De Vrij gave away a penalty, scything down Mauro Icardi. The Argentinian converted, and the Nerazzurri went on to win Continue reading "Lazio’s late implosion against Inter could haunt the club for years to come | Paolo Bandini"

Fernando Torres takes his leave as Atlético Madrid’s historic memory | Sid Lowe

This time it really was the end for The Kid, taking his final bow with Atlético on an emotional evening at the Wanda Defeat hit hard and so did the coach, apportioning blame and pointing the finger; they had let everyone down, he said. It was 2001, Spain had been knocked out of the U17 World Cup, and during the flight home Fernando Torres and Andrés Iniesta, close friends since they had met at 14, decided to put their feelings into words. As they sat on the plane, they wrote a letter outlining everything that had gone wrong. They never posted it but the writing helped and when they touched down back at Barajas airport they swapped shirts, dedicating them to each other. On the shirt Fernando handed to Andrés, it read: “One day you and me will win the World Cup together.” Nine years later, they did. Eight Continue reading "Fernando Torres takes his leave as Atlético Madrid’s historic memory | Sid Lowe"

Napoli head coach Maurizio Sarri hints at exit amid Chelsea link

  • Sarri has been linked with the Chelsea job
  • Napoli finished second in Serie A with 91 points
Maurizio Sarri has dropped a strong hint that his time at Napoli is drawing to a close amid reports suggesting he will leave the Serie A club. The 59-year-old coach has been linked with Premier League side Chelsea, who are managed by his fellow Italian Antonio Conte, and talks over a new contract at Napoli have stalled in recent weeks. Club president Aurelio De Laurentiis said this weekend that “time is up” for the Naples-born tactician to make a decision over his future at the Stadio San Paolo. Continue reading...

Fernando Torres marks Atlético Madrid farewell with two goals against Eibar

• Striker captains Atléti in final game for the club
• Torres departs after 128 goals in 404 matches over two spellsFernando Torres brought the curtain down on his Atlético Madrid career with two goals but it was not to be a victorious farewell as Eibar earned a 2-2 draw. Captaining a second-string Atletico side playing just four days on from their Europa League final success against Marseille in Lyon, Torres soon cancelled out Kike Garcia’s 35th-minute opener just before the break. Continue reading...

John Bostock: ‘You see life differently when you’re that close to death’

The former Crystal Palace prodigy, now playing in Turkey, tells how surviving a horrific crash gave him a broader perspective on his life and careerFootballers enjoy privileges that few can aspire to but for John Bostock the simple pleasure of being alive is enough. Last year when travelling back home in England following a game for his French team Lens, the former Crystal Palace midfielder suffered a head-on crash while driving down the motorway at 3am. The other driver was drunk and going the wrong way at 70mph, resulting in his passenger dying and Bostock’s car being a crumpled heap, but he was miraculously unhurt. “Scientifically, I probably shouldn’t have survived that crash. Two cars hitting each other head-on at 70mph, it made me appreciate life, appreciate family and appreciate the gift that we have to live every day,” Bostock says as we sit in the dugout at his Continue reading "John Bostock: ‘You see life differently when you’re that close to death’"

Milan’s Suso: ‘I feel like I am only at 70% of what I can achieve’

The forward talks about the shock of arriving in England as a 16-year-old, having Gennaro Gattuso as his manager and playing for Liverpool again one dayWhen Suso arrived in Italy to sign for Milan, in January 2015, there were no fans or journalists at Malpensa airport to greet him. He was a virtual stranger, a low-key signing for a club that were no longer able to reach the heights of previous decades. The Spaniard cost Milan £1m and arrived in Italy having spent the previous four and a half years at Liverpool, a spell that included 21 first-team appearances and one goal, as well as a loan spell at Almería. Continue reading...

Eintracht Frankfurt deny Bayern Munich the double in DFB-Pokal final

• Game was Eintracht manager’s last before taking over at Bayern
• Real Madrid finish third in La Liga after draw with VillarealNiko Kovac left Eintracht Frankfurt the perfect parting gift with victory against his future employers Bayern Munich in the DFB-Pokal final. Kovac delivered the cup, and with it European football next season, in his final game in charge before replacing Jupp Heynckes as Bayern boss this summer as Frankfurt won 3-1 in Berlin. Ante Rebic scored either side of Robert Lewandowski’s equaliser, with his second goal after 82 minutes surviving a VAR check by the referee after Bayern appealed for a handball in the build-up. That was not the end of the replay drama, however, as Frankfurt survived another review in injury time when the referee decided that Kevin-Prince Boateng’s kick on Javi Martínez was not worthy of a penalty. Continue reading...

Bojan Krkic: ‘I had anxiety attacks but no one wants to talk about that. Football’s not interested’

The forward, who scored 900 goals for Barcelona’s youth teams and was labelled the ‘New Messi’, opens up on how the huge expectations affected him“I have a problem,” Bojan Krkic says, edging forward on the sofa. “I love football, it’s my life.” Outside, through the balcony doors, the sun dips behind Vitoria, northern Spain. His homeland is one of five countries in which he has played; he started at Barcelona, where he became their youngest player to make a league debut, and then had spells at Roma, Milan and Ajax. He joined Stoke in 2014 before loans at Mainz and now Alavés. He has won four league titles and the European Cup twice, been a world champion and played alongside some of the finest footballers of a generation. He has scored in La Liga, Serie A, Eredivisie, the Premier League and the Bundesliga, and he is proud of all that. So it might sound like a Continue reading "Bojan Krkic: ‘I had anxiety attacks but no one wants to talk about that. Football’s not interested’"

Arsenal were close to signing Ronaldo and tried to sign Messi, says Wenger

• Arsène Wenger reflects on how he tried to sign both in 2003
• ‘Ronaldo was very close. Messi didn’t work because of agents’ Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi could have played together at Arsenal had things worked out differently. Arsène Wenger, who took charge of the final game of his 22-year reign on Sunday, has revealed how he tried to sign both in 2003. Instead Ronaldo went to Manchester United before joining Real Madrid, and Wenger was unable to prise Messi from Barcelona. Continue reading...

Gianluigi Buffon to leave Juventus but is considering ‘interesting proposals’

  • Keeper to end 17-year stay after ‘wonderful adventure’
  • Buffon set to defer retirement after Juve departure
Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon is leaving the Italian champions and considering playing elsewhere. Buffon, who is widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers of all time, was expected to announce his retirement at a news conference with Juventus president Andrea Agnelli at Allianz Stadium on Thursday. Continue reading...

Sporting Lisbon players and staff attacked by intruders at training ground

• Forward Bas Dost and manager Jorge Jesus reportedly assaulted
• Around 50 people forced their way into training with faces coveredA group of around 50 people forced their way into Sporting Lisbon’s training centre on Tuesday and assaulted players and staff. Portuguese television channel RTP said that around 50 intruders, who had covered their faces to avoid being identified, interrupted team practice and assaulted a number of players and staff. They also caused damage to a changing room. Continue reading...

‘Seville’s Eurovision’ leaves both teams in Europe and everyone partying | Sid Lowe

The derby, one of the few matches of the penultimate weekend with anything riding on it, didn’t disappoint Betis’s bus made its way through a cloud of green smoke, while Sevilla’s passed the police cordon down the last, short stretch of empty street, turning off palm tree avenue to the Benito Villamarín. It was momentarily quiet outside, just a few stall holders in the sunshine, but inside the bus was different. On the right, a window had been smashed – not there, but four kilometres away, where a Sevilla fan had waved his team off over-enthusiastically – and sitting alongside it was the manager Joaquín Caparrós, exposed and in his element. Someone had put the club anthem on and he was belting it out like a man possessed, the 62-year-old shaking his fists as he sang. In the rows behind, the players banged on the glass. “We’re Sevilla and Continue reading "‘Seville’s Eurovision’ leaves both teams in Europe and everyone partying | Sid Lowe"

Lille have pulled off a miraculous escape from relegation – or have they?

Three straight wins have made Lille mathematically safe but they will be going down if their finances are not up to scratch By Adam White and Eric Devin for Get French Football News
Fan ire over the running of a club is hardly unusual, but the situation at Lille descended from discontent into utter catastrophe earlier this season. During their match against Montpellier in March, infuriated Lille fans vaulted the pitchside advertising boards, attacked their own players and had to be restrained by police while they threatened club owner Gérard Lopez with the chant: “If we go down, we’ll take you down.” Miraculously, the club pulled clear of the bottom three for good this weekend, but their Ligue 1 status remains fragile for financial reasons. For a club that won the title in 2011 and spent €70m on players in the summer – only Monaco and PSG spent more Continue reading "Lille have pulled off a miraculous escape from relegation – or have they?"

Lille have pulled off a miraculous escape from relegation – or have they?

Three straight wins have made Lille mathematically safe but they will be going down if their finances are not up to scratch By Adam White and Eric Devin for Get French Football News
Fan ire over the running of a club is hardly unusual, but the situation at Lille descended from discontent into utter catastrophe earlier this season. During their match against Montpellier in March, infuriated Lille fans vaulted the pitchside advertising boards, attacked their own players and had to be restrained by police while they threatened club owner Gérard Lopez with the chant: “If we go down, we’ll take you down.” Miraculously, the club pulled clear of the bottom three for good this weekend, but their Ligue 1 status remains fragile for financial reasons. For a club that won the title in 2011 and spent €70m on players in the summer – only Monaco and PSG spent more Continue reading "Lille have pulled off a miraculous escape from relegation – or have they?"

Juventus extend ‘My7h’: a success to celebrate or a cause for lament?

The all-conquering Old Lady has no plans to abdicate her throne even with the inevitable summer changes ahead Last May, the commemorative T-shirts celebrated a “Le6end”. This year, Juventus went with “My7h”. Even as players popped champagne corks for the second time in four days at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico, it was tempting to imagine a marketing team somewhere planning the slogans and hashtags for the next round of celebrations in 12 months. Seven consecutive Scudetti. No club had even won six in a row before the Bianconeri embarked on their present run. Across Europe’s top five leagues, only Lyon, at the start of this century, have enjoyed such an uninterrupted spell of domestic dominance. Even then, they did not pair Ligue 1 success with cup triumphs. Juve’s 0-0 draw with Roma on Sunday sealed an unprecedented fourth straight Serie A and Coppa Italia double. Continue reading...

Riotous final day captures the paradoxes of Bundesliga 2017-18 | Andy Brassell

There has been plenty of entertainment but it has been an unusual and not always satisfying season in Germany The clock, since you asked, kept on ticking. As the curtain fell on Hamburger SV’s unbroken presence in top flight since the Bundesliga’s formation in 1963, it was alone in maintaining steady hands (give or take it being digital). With the home side’s winning position futile, as Wolfsburg completed an eventually emphatic victory over Köln 170km to the south, any façade of holding it together began to crack. Pyrotechnics rained down from the ultras in the Nordtribüne and a heavy police presence took over the pitch in lines, with horses and dogs for company. Some of those waiting to see if the famous timepiece – adding every extra second to HSV’s ever-present tenure – would stop must have struggled to see it through thick plumes of black smoke. Continue reading...

European roundup: Barcelona lose unbeaten record after 5-4 Levante defeat

• La Liga champions Barça lose despite Philippe Coutinho hat-trick
• Juventus win seventh consecutive Serie A title with Roma drawBarcelona’s long unbeaten run in La Liga ended in thrilling fashion as the champions suffered a shock 5-4 defeat away to Levante in their 37th game of the campaign after resting Lionel Messi. Levante raced into a remarkable 5-1 lead against the Double winners after 56 minutes and although Barça fought their way back with a hat-trick from Philippe Coutinho and a Luis Suárez penalty they were denied the chance to end the Liga season without losing. Continue reading...