Celtic’s Champions League campaign to kick off against Sarajevo


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• Scottish champions at home in first leg; Linfield draw Rosenborg
• Dundalk v Riga; the New Saints face preliminary round winnersCeltic will open their Champions League qualifying campaign against Bosnian side Sarajevo.

Neil Lennon’s side will play a side managed by the former Hearts striker Husref Musemic in the first qualifying round as they seek to reach the group stages for a third time in four years.

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Me, my dad and Spurs: what happened next (spoiler alert – not good) | Max Rushden


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I flew back from Madrid to watch the Champions League final on TV, but other travel plans went awry. See you next season

I recently wrote an article explaining how I’d given up my Champions League final ticket to watch the game with my dad. He gave me a love of Spurs that meant it was the right thing to do. It was well received. Real journalists slid into my DMs to praise me. Ex- pros texted me (well, one ex-pro texted me). What an altruistic gesture. What a moving piece. You should write more they all said. I was a hero.

A cynic might argue that writing an article about liking both your own father and football was likely to resonate with an audience of people – many of whom also have, or had, fathers and also like football.

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Lennart Johansson obituary


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Former Uefa president who pioneered the Champions League

Lennart Johansson, who has died aged 89, was president of Uefa, the European football association, for 17 years, from 1990 to 2007, during which time he oversaw its growth from an organisation with seven employees and a tiny annual turnover into one that employed 200 people and controlled vast riches. He regarded his greatest achievement there as being the transformation of the European Cup – which previously involved just the champions of each European league – into the Champions League, which took in many more of the top teams and generated far greater revenue.

He was also at the helm when Uefa had to deal with the 1995 Bosman ruling, which belatedly brought freedom of contract into football. Widely seen as a man who wanted to keep football close to its grass roots, even though he was responsible for bringing Continue reading “Lennart Johansson obituary”

Virgil van Dijk warns Spurs players of lasting let-down from final defeat


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Lennart Johansson, ‘father of the Champions League’, dies aged 89


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  • Created Champions League in 17-year reign as Uefa president
  • Expanded tournament to allow non-domestic champions entry

Lennart Johansson, who oversaw the introduction of the Champions League during a 17-year reign as president of European soccer’s governing body, has died. He was 89. The Swedish Football Association said the former Uefa president died on Tuesday after a short illness.

“Lennart Johansson was our biggest international football leader of all time, no Swedish has had a similar influence on football in the world,” the Swedish FA’s president, Karl-Erik Nilsson, said on Wednesday. “He was deeply respected as Uefa president and vice president of Fifa, his leadership has aroused admiration worldwide.”

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Premier League and Bundesliga will block European super league, says Rauball


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• German Football League president says new solution needed
• ‘If you make a pyramid like the ECA, we would destroy the clubs’Combined opposition from the Premier League and Bundesliga will block the plans developed by the European Club Association for a new “super league” in 2024, the German Football League president has said.

Speaking as world football’s associations and confederations gathered for Wednesday’s Fifa congress in Paris, Reinhard Rauball, who is also the president of Borussia Dortmund and vice-president of the German Football Association, said that the ECA proposals could “destroy” national leagues. He did acknowledge, however, that some reform may be needed to the Champions League format when the current agreed football calendar concludes in 2024.

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Van Dijk and Wijnaldum given rapturous welcome by Netherlands teammates – video


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Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk and Georginio Wijnaldum were given a rapturous reception by their Netherlands teammates after returning to training as winners of the Champions League.

The Dutch duo, who claimed Europe’s top prize with Liverpool following a 2-0 victory over Tottenham in Madrid on Saturday, are back with their national side preparing for their Nations League semi-final against England on Thursday.

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Liverpool drew on ‘heartache’ of past failures to triumph, says Sturridge


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• Lessons learned from European final defeats, explains Sturridge
• Striker reveals players’ meeting before Champions League finalDaniel Sturridge has described how the “heartache” of past European final defeats proved an invaluable lesson for Liverpool’s Champions League triumph in Madrid.

The Liverpool striker, who will leave as a free agent this summer, has witnessed several cup final defeats and Premier League title near-misses during six and a half years at Anfield. He admits the experiences have left a lasting pain but also helped Liverpool to prepare for Saturday’s final and maintain composure when put under pressure by Tottenham.

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Drab Champions League final continues trend of dismal domestic duels | Richard Williams


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Teams who face each other domestically always struggle to produce the kind of showpiece expected from the most eagerly anticipated night of the season

If you wanted to decrease the level of global interest in the climactic match of a European club competition by, say, 50%, you might very well contrive to ensure that both finalists came from the same national football league. If you wanted to cut the interest by another 50% – in other words, to 25% of the normally expected level – you might arrange for a goal to be scored via a penalty awarded within the opening 30 seconds.

That was the combination of circumstances endured by neutrals on Saturday night, when two teams thoroughly conversant with each other’s make-up and methods met in Madrid and the match was punctured like a cheap ball within a couple of minutes when Mohamed Salah’s spot-kick rather luckily Continue reading “Drab Champions League final continues trend of dismal domestic duels | Richard Williams”

Drab Champions League final continues trend of dismal domestic duels | Richard Williams


This post is by Richard Williams from Football | The Guardian


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Teams who face each other domestically always struggle to produce the kind of showpiece expected from the most eagerly anticipated night of the season

If you wanted to decrease the level of global interest in the climactic match of a European club competition by, say, 50%, you might very well contrive to ensure that both finalists came from the same national football league. If you wanted to cut the interest by another 50% – in other words, to 25% of the normally expected level – you might arrange for a goal to be scored via a penalty awarded within the opening 30 seconds.

That was the combination of circumstances endured by neutrals on Saturday night, when two teams thoroughly conversant with each other’s make-up and methods met in Madrid and the match was punctured like a cheap ball within a couple of minutes when Mohamed Salah’s spot-kick rather luckily Continue reading “Drab Champions League final continues trend of dismal domestic duels | Richard Williams”

Top clubs accused over ‘dangerous’ plans to reshape Champions League


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• European Leagues head says clubs trying to form super league
• Lars-Christer Olsson urges Uefa to reject plans and take actionThe plans drawn up by top clubs to reshape the Champions League after 2024 would create a “super league” motivated by greed that Uefa should firmly reject, the president of Europe’s football leagues’ association said.

Lars-Christer Olsson, who heads the European Leagues, the collective body that includes the Premier League, said Uefa should instead be looking to improve “competitive balance” so that success is not so concentrated among rich clubs. Olsson called for 20% of Champions League revenues to be redistributed outside the participating clubs and for Europe’s leagues to share money more equally.

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Liverpool parade Champions League trophy to ecstatic fans – video


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Thousands of Liverpool fans celebrated in the city centre as their team paraded the Champions League trophy from an open-top bus. Fans set off flares and sang throughout the day as Liverpool was turned red, and fireworks were set off from the top of the city’s famous Royal Liver Building. Coach Jürgen Klopp and star players Mo Salah, Virgil Van Dijk and cup final hero Divock Origi all took part in the raucous celebrations, showing off the trophy won when Liverpool beat fellow English side Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 in Saturday’s final in Madrid.

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Ronaldo beats Messi to best Champion’s League goal of the season


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UEFA released their selection of top ten CL goals of the season.Messi’s free kick against Liverpool got second place. Ronaldo’s brilliant on the run volley against Man Utd was picked as best goal of the season. Also present are goals from Sadio Mane, Raheem Sterling, Kylian Mbappe,Philippe Coutinho.Luis Suarez etc. Watch

Hugo Lloris tells Tottenham: ‘Don’t throw all our work in the bin’


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• Captain intent on keeping the faith as uncertain summer looms
• Jan Vertonghen: ‘Will there be an overhaul? I don’t know’

Hugo Lloris has urged Tottenham to keep the faith in their project and not to “throw everything in the bin” after the Champions League final defeat by Liverpool as attention turned towards a summer of expected transition.

The captain accepted there would be speculation over Mauricio Pochettino, who did not entirely quash it after the match in Madrid, which finished in a 2-0 Liverpool win. It felt a little strange that players were discouraged by club officials from answering questions about the manager’s future.

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Liverpool set to reward Jürgen Klopp with offer of improved contract


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• Manager’s current six-year deal runs until 2022
• Players believe Madrid win can launch golden era

Liverpool want to extend Jürgen Klopp’s contract following the Champions League triumph his players believe heralds the beginning of a glittering era under their charismatic manager.

Klopp has three years remaining on the six-year, £7m per annum contract he signed during his first summer at Liverpool in 2016 but Fenway Sports Group will look to secure the man who has transformed the club’s fortunes and give him a longer deal. The 51-year-old German loves being the Liverpool manager and his family are happy on Merseyside. Rewarding him with an improved contract beyond 2022 is viewed as a priority by FSG as it seeks to build on a position of strength this summer.

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Liverpool bring home Champions League trophy – in pictures


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Fans lined the streets in Liverpool as their heroes brought back the Champions League trophy after winning the biggest prize in European football for the sixth time

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Henderson’s embrace shows the benefit of cherishing the moment | Daniel Taylor


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Moving scenes with a father and Alexander-Arnold playing with his mates provided memories that transcend footballIt was just before Christmas in 2013 when Brian Henderson, a retired police officer from Washington, Tyne and Wear, went to have a cyst removed from his neck only to be told it was cancer and that there was no guarantee, as there never is with that cruel, indiscriminate disease, that he would see it off.

At first he did not want to tell his son, Jordan, because he was worried about how it might affect the performances of a player, then 23, who was already finding it hard enough to prove he was worthy of succeeding Steven Gerrard at Liverpool. Then, when father and son finally had that dreadful, life‑changing conversation, the 59-year-old decided it would be better for Jordan not to see him while he was undergoing treatment.

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Mauricio Pochettino faces task of laying out the road ahead for Tottenham | Barney Ronay


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The Spurs manager has some tough decisions to make over the nature of his team following their defeat by Liverpool in the Champions League finalHindsight is of course always twenty-twenty. Did Mauricio Pochettino make a defining error in selecting Harry Kane to play from the start in the Wanda Metropolitana, Tottenham’s once-in-a-generation shot at European ultimacy?

In outline the tone and texture of that oddly deathly Champions League final might suggest this was the case. Kane had not played for seven weeks, had not scored for Tottenham since early March. A half-fit Kane tends to be a ponderous Kane, with a tendency to spend much of the game grappling with his marker, arms stretched behind him, like a man feeling for the bathroom door in the dark.

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Klopp and Pochettino go back to English basics in final that fails to fire | Jonathan Wilson


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The Champions League final carried echoes of the scrappy showpieces at which English teams triumphed in 70s and 80sFor Liverpool this has been a season of two extraordinary statistics: 11.7mm and 64%. It was the former that denied them a goal (albeit a freakish one via John Stones and Ederson) away to Manchester City in January, and it was with the latter they won the Champions League. Neither makes much sense. That games can be swayed by margins as fine as that defies comprehension. But it feels at least as incredible that Liverpool could win a Champions League final with only 64% pass accuracy.

Liverpool are a team who worry about pass accuracy far less than many sides. Their pass completion rate of 79.9% in the Champions League was only the 21st highest of the 32 teams who reached the group stage and beyond this season. They Continue reading “Klopp and Pochettino go back to English basics in final that fails to fire | Jonathan Wilson”

Champions League final 2019: Tottenham 0-2 Liverpool – in pictures


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The best images from Madrid after Liverpool beat Tottenham to win their sixth European Cup

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