Scharfe Töne: Real, Barça und Juve glauben weiter an die Super League

Im April dieses Jahres hatte die Ankündigung von zwölf großen europäischen Klubs, künftig eine Super League veranstalten zu wollen, für mächtig Aufsehen gesorgt. Nur wenige Wochen danach war es aber wieder ruhig geworden, die UEFA hatte das Ganze zum Schweigen gebracht – bis jetzt. Real, Barça und Juve lassen nicht locker.

Wiederauferstehung? Die eigentlich ad acta gelegte Super League könnte wieder zum Leben erwecken.

Wiederauferstehung? Die eigentlich ad acta gelegte Super League könnte wieder zum Leben erwecken.

imago images/PA Images

Während damals die meisten der zwölf Super-League-Vorreiter (Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool, ManUnited, ManCity aus England, Milan, Inter aus Italien und Atletico aus Spanien) nach ihrer großen Ankündigung schnell wieder einen öffentlichen Rückzieher machten – vor allem wegen Protesten der Fans und Widerworten der eigenen Ligen sowie der UEFA -, haben drei Klubs den großen Plan nie zu den Akten im verstaubten Keller gepackt. Vielmehr glauben Real Madrid, der FC Barcelona und Juventus Turin nach wie vor an die Super League, sind deswegen gar vor Gericht gezogen zuletzt.

Und siehe da: Die Entscheidung eines Gerichts in Spanien vom Freitag besagt, dass die UEFA die Gründervereine der Super League nicht sanktionieren darf. Hintergrund ist, dass der europäische Fußballverband den zwölf Super-League-“Abtrünnigen” damals im April massiv mit umfassenden Sanktionen gedroht hat, darunter der Ausschluss aus der Champions League oder auch Sperren für einzelne Spieler für die in diesem Sommer über die Bühne gegangene EM. Unter dem großen Druck waren die Beteiligten damals eben von ihrer Idee abgerückt.

Juventus Turin – Vereinsdaten
Juventus Turin

Gründungsdatum

01.11.1897

Vereinsfarben

Weiß-Schwarz

Juventus Turin – Vereinsdaten
Juventus Turin

Gründungsdatum

01.11.1897

Vereinsfarben

Weiß-Schwarz

Anschrift

Juventus Football Club
S.p.A. Via Druento, 175
10151 Torino
Telefon: 0039 011 45 30 486
E-Mail: slo@juventus.com

Internet

www.juventus.com/

Vereinsinfo

Real Madrid – Vereinsdaten
Real Madrid

Gründungsdatum

06.03.1902

Vereinsfarben

Weiß-Blau

Real Madrid – Vereinsdaten
Real Madrid

Gründungsdatum

06.03.1902

Vereinsfarben

Weiß-Blau

Anschrift

Real Madrid Club de Fútbol
Estadio Santiago Bernabéu
Avenida Concha Espina, Nº 1 – Puerta 44
28036 Madrid
Telefon: 00 34 91 398 43 00
Telefax: 00 34 91 398 43 82
E-Mail: oas@corp.realmadrid.com

Internet

https://www.realmadrid.com/

Vereinsinfo

FC Barcelona – Vereinsdaten
FC Barcelona

Gründungsdatum

29.11.1899

Vereinsfarben

Blau-Rot

FC Barcelona – Vereinsdaten
FC Barcelona

Gründungsdatum

29.11.1899

Vereinsfarben

Blau-Rot

Anschrift

Fútbol Club Barcelona
Avenida Arístides Maillol, s/n
08028 Barcelona
E-Mail: oab@fcbarcelona.cat

Internet

www.fcbarcelona.com/

Vereinsinfo

Juventus Turin – Die letzten Spiele
FC Bologna
Bologna (A)

Atalanta Bergamo
Bergamo (A)

Juventus Turin – Die letzten Spiele
alle Termine

Real Madrid – Die letzten Spiele
FC Villarreal
Villarreal (H)

Athletic Bilbao
Bilbao (A)

Real Madrid – Die letzten Spiele
alle Termine

FC Barcelona – Die letzten Spiele
Gimnastic de Tarragona
Tarragona (H)

SD Eibar
Eibar (A)

FC Barcelona – Die letzten Spiele
alle Termine

“Wir freuen uns, dass wir nicht länger den Drohungen der UEFA ausgesetzt sein werden”, schrieben die Klubs nun an diesem Freitag in einer gemeinsamen Erklärung als Reaktion auf die Entscheidung.

Real, Barça und Juve sind “weiterhin zuversichtlich”

Dieser Gerichtsbeschluss sorgt außerdem dafür, dass das Selbstvertrauen der europäischen Schwergewichte wieder massiv gewachsen ist. Dazu passt auch folgender Fakt: Das Vorgehen der UEFA gegen das uneinsichtige Trio stockt seit langer Zeit. Ende Mai hatte der Verband ein Disziplinarverfahren eröffnet und mit den oben bereits genannten empfindlichen Sanktionen gedroht, Anfang Juni wurde es aber ohne Angabe von Gründen vorerst ausgesetzt.”Unser Ziel ist es, das Projekt Super League konstruktiv und kooperativ weiterzuentwickeln”, führten deswegen Real, Barça und Juve in ihrem Statement weiter aus: “Wir haben die Pflicht, die sehr ernsten Probleme des Fußballs anzugehen: Die UEFA hat sich als alleinige Regulierungsbehörde, exklusiver Betreiber und alleiniger Inhaber der Rechte an europäischen Fußballwettbewerben etabliert. Diese Monopolstellung im Interessenkonflikt schadet dem Fußball und seinem Wettbewerbsgleichgewicht.”

Und weiter: “Unser Ziel ist es auch, stets auf alle Akteure des Fußballs zu zählen: Fans, Spieler, Trainer, Vereine, Ligen sowie nationale und internationale Verbände. Wir sind weiterhin zuversichtlich, dass ein Projekt erfolgreich sein wird, das immer den Gesetzen der Europäischen Union entspricht.”

Alaba has no fear of replacing Ramos as new Real No. 4

David Alaba was presented by Real Madrid on Wednesday, with the defender saying it was a dream come true to join the club – and in the process he took the number of the legendary Sergio Ramos.

Ramos exited the Spanish capital for Paris Saint-Germain, and Alaba will be charged with replacing the club legend in the heart of Real’s defence.

Ramos’ are big boots to fill, but there is no fear as Alaba has taken on the number four that the Spaniard had made his own.

Transfers

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“It’s a dream come true, joining the biggest club in the world, I’m very proud to be here,” Alaba said at a press conference. “I can’t wait to put on the jersey and score goals for Real Madrid.”

Comparisons with the departed Ramos are obvious, but the Austrian will be his own man.

“I’m here to be David Alaba,” the 29-year-old said. “I want to contribute my abilities and I’m going to try to bring my strengths as a player and, on a personal level, to be myself.

This number was offered to me because there was no other number available and I know what this number means to the club. It’s an honour to wear it and it’s something which really motivates me. This number represents strength and leadership and I want to give it my all.”

Alaba has worked with Real coach Carlo Ancelotti before at Bayern Munich, and will leave it to the coach to decide whether he will play in defence or midfield.

“I’m a versatile player, I can play in different positions,” Alaba said. “It’s up to the coach to decide where I’ll play.”

Team GB players take the knee before kicking off against Chile

Premier League

Nuno rules out Bale return to Tottenham

17/07/2021 AT 14:50

Transfers

Arsenal agree £50m deal for Brighton’s White – Paper Round

16/07/2021 AT 21:45

Arsenal agree £50m deal for Brighton's White – Paper Round

Arsenal agree White deal

The Telegraph reports that Arsenal are finally close to sealing a deal for Brighton’s central defender Ben White. White has been on international duty with England for Euro 2020, with the 23-year-old one of the best young defenders in Britain at the moment. Arsenal have agreed a £50 million deal with their fellow Premier League side in order to secure his presence next season.

Transfers

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Paper Round’s view: White has shown at Leeds and then with Brighton that he is capable of handling himself and he has the potential to offer more for his side. Arsenal needed to have a refresh of their squad, and the exit of David Luiz made it more pressing that they should find a central defender in order to give them some defensive solidity under Mikel Arteta.

Read the full story

‘Racial abuse at England players after final disgusting and disgraceful’

Milan close in on Diaz

AC Milan are closing in on the signature of Real Madrid’s Brahim Diaz, according to The Sun. The 21-year-old Spanish player has spent time on loan with the Italian side and is set to join on a two-year loan. Milan will be able to spend 22 million euros to make the deal permanent, but Real Madrid will also have a buyback clause that is worth 27 million euros, though he is not a first choice player yet.

Paper Round’s view: Milan have found a decent prospect in Diaz, and it appears as if Real Madrid are ready to accept they might be making a mistake too. The buyback clause seems like an abuse of power when larger sides do it, but it does also give Diaz a reason to improve so that he could gain some kind of redemption by moving back to Real Madrid.

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Niguez-Griezmann set for swap deal

Atletico Madrid could soon welcome back Antoine Griezmann to their team. The 30-year-old French international has been at Barcelona for two years, but he could now be included in a deal that brings Saul Niguez to the Catalan side. That would see Griezmann join Luis Suarez and Joao Felix in a dangerous looking attacking trio to defend their La Liga title.

Paper Round’s view: Griezmann has been a disappointment at Barcelona and perhaps a return to the direct and aggressive play at Atletico would be enough for him to rediscover his best form for the remainder of his career. Giving up Niguez would be a huge blow for Atletico, but Diego Simeone’s team appear able to find a replacement for most players in the market easily.

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Chelsea target Haaland

The Mail reports on the prospects of Chelsea signing Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund. The 20-year-old Norwegian international striker was the subject of an opening, rejected bid from Chelsea. It was believed to be cash but plus one of Callum Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham. However Hakim Ziyech, Hudson-Odoi and Abraham would have to be included in a deal that could run to £170 million.

Paper Round’s view: Haaland is an exceptional striker and perhaps the best young player in world football. Kylian Mbappe might have something to say about that, but the fact is Dortmund can play hardball for a limited window. Next summer it is believed that Haaland will be available for around £70 million, which means they may have to compromise soon.

Read the full story

Transfers

Liverpool and United to battle Arsenal for Aouar transfer – report

19 HOURS AGO

Euro 2020

English football’s sorry week ends with third unnecessary apology – The Warm-Up

A DAY AGO

Barcelona struggle to ditch Griezmann – Paper Round

Barcelona struggle to sell Griezmann

Spanish newspaper Marca reports on the struggles at Barcelona to balance their books. Selling Ousmane Dembele seems impossible with the 24-year-old French international injured, and Samuel Umtiti and Miralem Pjanic are not interested in having their contracts rescinded. That leaves the high-earning Antoine Griezmann, 30 years old and in the midst of another racism scandal, as the next in line.

Serie A

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Paper Round’s view: Even when they signed him from Atletico Madrid, it was not clear how Griezmann was going to fit in at Barcelona. He’s been fine as a player, but nothing exceptional, and his 120 million transfer appears to be a huge waste of cash for the Catalans. The only thing is that with Philippe Coutinho to be sold as well, there will almost certainly be similar mistakes to come.

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‘We will enjoy tomorrow’s match’ – Chiesa on facing England or Denmark in Euro 2020 final

United target Goretzka

Bayern Munich hope to keep hold of Germany international Leon Goretzka. The 26-year-old midfielder has won titles with the Bundesliga champions and is in his final year of his contract at Bayern. That has seen him linked with Manchester United, but the Mail reports that he would rather remain in Germany than move to Old Trafford, even if it would make sense financially for Bayern.

Paper Round’s view: If Goretzka wants to stay at Bayern, few could blame him. The German side are likely to keep challenging for titles both at home and abroad, and there is presumably little appeal in switching to a Brexit-blighted Britain. Instead, he can hold out for a sizeable increase in his wages in the next few months and remain at the best-run club in Europe.

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Arsenal face Aouar difficulties

The Mirror reports on the struggles that Arsenal face in order to secure the signing of 23-year-old French international Hassem Aouar from Ligue Un side Lyon. Aouar posted a picture of his return to training in preparation for the next season, and the paper also suggests that Arsenal will need to sell players in order to raise funds in the transfer market to make the signing.

Paper Round’s view: Arsenal already have to sign Ben White from Brighton which will cost around £50 million, which is a pretty big sum for a club that seems to have little chance of finding its way to the Champions League in the near future. As well as that, Bruno Tavares and Albert Sambi Lokonga will also cost a fair chunk of cash, meaning any move for Aouar seems unlikely.

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Real ready to sell Varane

The Sun suggests that Real Madrid are ready to entertain a £43 million deal for their French central defender Raphael Varane. The 28-year-old player is said to be a top target for Manchester United. In turn, Real would use the cash in order to build up funds to land Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe, who is above Erling Haaland as their top target.

Paper Round’s view: Mbappe is clearly the best striker in the world perhaps after Erling Haaland, but signing either of them would be a huge achievement for Real as they finally prepare to move on from Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo. Keeping Nacho and adding David Alaba means their defence is probably fine for a year or two, and they can let Varane go.

Read the full story

Euro 2020

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A DAY AGO

Transfers

Ramos set for PSG as Man Utd close in on Varane – Paper Round

A DAY AGO

Real Madrid want Van de Beek to agree Varane deal – Paper Round

Real want Van der Beek as part of Varane deal

The Sun suggests that Manchester United are willing to let Donny van de Beek join Real Madrid on loan, with an option to buy the 24-year-old Dutch international at the end of the season. The paper says that Real were keen on the midfielder before he switched to United, and would be willing to pay a small initial fee. In return they would be willing to compromise on a fee for 28-year-old defender Raphael Varane.

Euro 2020

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Paper Round’s view: It seems to be a waste that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is not ready to give Van de Beek a proper chance at United, especially as Paul Pogba’s inconsistency means it is hard to rely on the Frenchman, however brilliant he can be. But pragmatically, they need a defender much more than they do a midfielder the manager refuses to use, so it would be a sensible use of resources.

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‘We haven’t done anything yet’ – Kane after England make semis

Pogba future unclear

The Mail writes that Paul Pogba’s future at Manchester United remains unclear. The 28-year-old Frenhh midfielder was one of the standout performers for Didier Deschamps’ team at the Euro 2020 finals, but could not prevent the team from going out at the hands of the Swiss. He has just one year left on his current deal at United and could leave for nothing next summer.

Paper Round’s view: Pogba is a brilliant player on some occasions, and a middling presence on other days. If United do manage to bring in Jadon Sancho as well as Varane, then his performances with Juventus and the French team suggest that he will raise his game to match theirs. However he might be tempted to move to a more glamorous team and secure a raise in the process.

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Atletico close in on Paulo

Marcos Paulo has arrived in Spain to sign a contract with Atletico Madrid, reports Spanish newspaper Marca. The 20-year-old winger is out of contract at Fluminese and can sign for Diego Simeone’s side on a free transfer, with a deal until 2026 reported. The arrival of the Brazilian means that Atletico may send Vitolo out on loan, with Cadiz and Celta Vigo keen.

Paper Round’s view: Atletico tend to operate more effectively in the market on a budget, so this could prove to be another bargain. Given their success in La Liga last year, this may give Simeone more flexibility in the market, but Spanish clubs appear to have universally been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, so moving on Vitolo at the same time will balance the books.

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Arsenal target Berge

Arsenal are continuing their transfer spending plans as they are linked with the signing of Sheffield United midfielder Sander Berge. The 23-year-old Norwegian international joined Sheffield United two seasons ago for around £20 million but struggled with injuries last season as the club were relegated. Arsenal need a new midfielder as Granit Xhaka is expected to join Roma.

Paper Round’s view: There were high expectations for Berge when he arrived in the Premier League, and his first season offered enough impressive displays to expect that he would improve for the second. United’s poor form and his own problems with injuries meant he didn’t get the chance to contribute much, but if he is sold at a fair place then he could be a decent gamble for Mikel Arteta.

Read the full story

Euro 2020

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Euro 2020

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8 HOURS AGO

'Always in my heart' – Odegaard bids emotional farewell to Arsenal fans

Martin Odegaard has sent a heartfelt message to Arsenal and their fans after confirming he will be returning to Real Madrid.

The Norwegian spent the season on loan at the Emirates and Arsenal fans were hopeful of holding onto the playmaker.

Odegaard made himself into a fan favourite with some eye-catching performances and he now appears determined to nail down a place in Real’s side.

Transfers

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25/03/2021 AT 23:21

“Arsenal, thank you so much for these 6 months,” he wrote on Instagram.

“My time with the Arsenal family will always hold a special place in my heart.

“I want to thank everyone in and around the club for the way you made me feel like a part of the family since the first day.

Special thanks to the fans, even without you guys at the stadium for the majority of the season, I felt you with me at all times.

“A huge thank you to the boss and his staff for everything I’ve learned during my stay.

“Thank you also to all my teammates for such a great time on and off the pitch. Will miss you all.

“Thank you, gunners family. Always in my heart.”

The departure of Zinedine Zidane will be a big boost to Odegaard, who never managed to convince the Frenchman he was capable of being a starter.

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Mikel Arteta hoped he could convince Odegaard to stay at Arsenal, but those hopes were dashed when Zidane resigned from his post.

Carlo Ancelotti is now at the helm at Real and Odegaard is hopeful of a clean slate when he returns to Spain.

Arsenal will turn their attention to securing another playmaker after Odegaard’s exit and have been linked with a big-money move for Leicester City star James Maddison.

Arteta is targeting a big summer of ins and outs at the club, with Granit Xhaka and Matteo Guendouzi poised to leave.

Europa League

Arsenal score three to beat Olympiacos in style

11/03/2021 AT 19:09

Transfers

Arsenal confirm Odegaard loan capture

27/01/2021 AT 11:33

PSG close to Sergio Ramos transfer – Paper Round

PSG close in on Ramos

Paris Saint-Germain are set to make Sergio Ramos their latest high-profile signing in an attempt to keep hold of their star striker Kylian Mbappe. Spanish newspaper Marca reports the 22-year-old plans to turn down their latest contract offer, but he could remain for a year while Achraf Hakimi, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Georginio Wijnaldum and Ramos are added to Mauricio Pochettino’s squad.

Transfers

Juventus identify three potential Ronaldo replacements – Paper Round

30/06/2021 AT 22:19

Paper Round’s view: Mbappe is clearly tempted to join Real Madrid and he would be the right age to lead the club into whatever their new era is. But that is a risk when Real have only really dominated when they had Zinedine Zidane, and he was moved to walk away twice when the club decided they were unable to properly support him. Regardless of Mbappe’s presence, the squad PSG are building could challenge for the Champions League next season.

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‘Let’s put out a statement!’ – Is the secret for England to unleash their attackers?

Spurs search for Alderweireld replacement

Tottenham are likely to have to find a new central defender, as 32-year-old Toby Alderweireld wants to leave the club, with the Daily Mail suggesting that new manager Nuno Espirito Santo will sanction his departure. In order to fill the gap, Lyon’s Joachim Andersen – on loan at Fulham last year – is one option, as are Sevilla’s Jules Kounde and Bologna’s Takehiro Tomiyasu.

Paper Round’s view: Alderweireld has shown at the European Championships this summer that he still has the ability to be an excellent defender, but he and the rest of the Belgian backline have also shown that age is starting to catch up with him. For Santo this might be a practical way to freshen up the squad and remove a senior member at the same time.

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Saliba set for Marseille

Arsenal’s 20-year-old central defender William Saliba is set to leave the club for yet another loan spell. The Mirror reports that the player, who was on loan at Ligue Un club Nice last season, has a few options for next season but is expected to go back to the south coast of France and link up with Marseille, where he will spend a season.

Paper Round’s view: Saliba was supposed to be an excellent prospect but he has found it hard to persuade current Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta to give him a decent run of games. He has only been given two appearances with the under-23 side. It appears to be a waste of a player who is developing well abroad, and unless he is brought back next year one can expect him to leave for good.

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Bolton turn down Jagielka

Phil Jagielka had been training with Bolton after his departure from Sheffield United, but the club’s boss Ian Evatt has explained he was quickly put off the idea of signing the player. The 38-year-old former Everton had been training with the side to maintain his fitness, and Evatt said: “We got the media fanfare, the expectancy that fans seemed to have for signing that sort of player, it’s just no good for anybody. It’s certainly no good for the group, who we’re trying to hide from all the distractions and sideshows. We decided to move on.”

Paper Round’s view: It does seem a bit of an overreaction from the manager given the development was barely covered by the national press, and the idea that Jagielka brings overwhelming fan attention does appear to be far-fetched. Nevertheless, Jagielka showed last season that he has the ability to play at a higher level than Bolton.

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Euro 2020

Opinion: This is the Granit Xhaka we knew was there, but it’s still right time to leave Arsenal

30/06/2021 AT 17:14

Transfers

Arsenal and Spurs battle for Satriano – Paper Round

29/06/2021 AT 21:32

Belgium can take a lot from Portugal win, but injuries to Hazard and De Bruyne are a worry

Belgium faced and passed the Cristiano Ronaldo test as they defeated Portugal in the last-16 of the Euro 2020 championships, but injuries will leave them worried.

Ahead of the game between the two sides much of the focus was on their respective star strikers. Romelu Lukaku for Belgium, Ronaldo for Portugal. The Juventus striker remains one of the best forwards in the world, and since his move to Italy, the Inter Milan man has added a direct effectiveness to his game not just in front of goal, but with his teammates alongside him.

Lukaku was more impressive on Sunday night, at the heart of a few dangerous counterattacks. But really, this was not a golden game for the pair. The danger came from elsewhere. Portugal, in truth, rarely threatened, and Thibaut Courtois could be calm for most of the game. Thorgan Hazard was ultimately the difference in Seville. The fact it was Eden Hazard’s younger brother who came through for Roberto Martinez’s side should provide both encouragement and a cause for concern.

Euro 2020

Lukaku v Ronaldo – who will emerge victorious this evening?

YESTERDAY AT 16:15

The 28-year-old younger sibling of the eldest Hazard has had a perfectly decent career of his own, but he has never been regarded as the equal of the Real Madrid forward. His strike was well hit, though Rui Patricio might rue the error he made with his footwork as the ball initially came towards him.

Thorgan Hazard

Image credit: Getty Images

Nevertheless, his intervention was decisive at a time when there was precious little inspiration on the pitch, however frenetic and dramatic events became towards the end of the second half. Belgium should bring this experience into the quarter-finals against Italy, who may be able to exact more pressure in the later stages of the match with the resilience they have shown in their own games.

Belgium can be pleased that despite the flurry of fouls, anger and yellow cards, they were able to hold firm against a team of Ronaldo, Bernardo Silva, Joao Felix, Bruno Fernandes and others. There was concern their backline of thirty-somethings would start to creak and flounder under pressure, but instead they were relatively calmed. Their experience rather than their age was at the forefront of their performance, and meant that a desperate but uninspired frontline for Portugal was calmly dealt with.

However, there are concerns on the horizon for Martinez and his players. Kevin De Bruyne went off injured with an ankle injury, and while it is entirely possible that he will be back for the quarter-finals, the expression on his face betrayed worry that things are more serious. He did not enjoy an easy season with Manchester City as he was again affected by injuries which threaten to derail his career as he approaches his thirties. While it appears that Pep Guardiola has the contacts to get him back in action whenever injury strikes for now, he will not be able to hold back the natural decay that occurs with players approaching the end of their careers. Nevertheless, Belgium may now have to prepare for Friday’s game against Italy without the certain inclusion of perhaps the best player still in the tournament.

‘You’ve got to see it to believe it!’ – Can England win the Euros?

Things are made more complicated by Hazard Sr. It did not appear to be a full, severe hamstring pull, but he immediately decided to come off towards the end of the game when something in his muscle gave him discomfort. It was a sensible move, but it means that there is also a chance that Belgium will have to turn to the far more prosaic Yannick Carrasco. Hazard has not been anything like the player Chelsea let go to Spain, but he definitely appears to be enjoying the pressure-lite ambience of life away from the Bernabeu.

The win over Portugal will give Martinez and his players confidence. Italy are not especially better than the players they have already faced, and beaten. They have shown that their defence is not a liability, but is a perfectly capable backline that should be able to handle the challenges most teams can present. Lukaku continues to improve after his time in Italy, and there are no huge weaknesses across the team. But it can’t be ignored that with only a few days to prepare for a new team, style and challenge, they will be doing so with fundamentally concerning disruption.

Euro 2020

Opinion: Morata delivers for Spain – what more do people want from him?

25/06/2021 AT 14:28

Transfers

Chelsea aiming to jump queue to sign Haaland this summer – Inside Football

25/06/2021 AT 09:34

Sterling ready to quit Man City after being offered to Spurs – Paper Round

Sterling set to quit City

The Mirror explains why Raheem Sterling is now keen to leave Manchester City. The 26-year-old England international had been due to start talks on a new deal to extend the contract he has that currently has two years remaining. However, as he was used in a part-exchange offer to Spurs for Harry Kane, he has decided to reassess his future and may run down his deal.

Transfers

Is Kane destined to stay in north London as Manchester clubs look elsewhere?

20 HOURS AGO

Paper Round’s view: Sterling had a difficult year last season and was unable to produce the form that people had come to expect. Pep Guardiola appears to have little patience for his players being inconsistent, and that is no surprise if he can always ask for more money to have them replaced. Quite where Sterling would be able to go from the Etihad is unclear now that he is not as deadly a forward.

Read the full story

‘You’ve got to see it to believe it!’ – Can England win the Euros?

Kabak Premier League move still possible

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp decided against making Ozan Kabak’s loan move to Anfield permanent, despite a clause requiring a payment of just £17 million to complete the deal. The 21-year-old Turkish defender does have interest from elsewhere though, with the Sun saying £13m would be enough to convince Schalke. Potential buyers are: Leicester, Newcastle and Crystal Palace, plus Ligue Un teams Nice and Rennes.

Paper Round’s view: Kabak did not do enough at Liverpool to show why he was one rated as one of the most talented young defenders in Europe. If any club is willing to take a gamble, then giving him the chance to show his ability and rediscover his performance might be a simple way to bring in a player with huge potential who was sidetracked by his club’s problems.

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Haaland against Bayern move

While Bayern Munich have been credited with an interest in Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Braut Haaland, Spanish newspaper Marca believes that the 20-year-old Norwegian striker is not keen on making a swap between the two Bundesliga sides. He remains keen on joining Real Madrid, and if he decides to try the Premier League, Chelsea are leading the pack for his signature.

Paper Round’s view: Haaland is one of the most exciting talents in world football, and one of the players who looks able to take over from Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as one of those talents that put away at least a goal a game. Staying with Bayern might not be an option given the German champions are struggling with cash this summer, and Dortmund want more than 100 million euros for their man.

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Amos turns down United

Manchester United’s former goalkeeper Ben Amos has turned down the chance to return to the Premier League club. The 31-year-old last played at Charlton Athletic but has seen his contract expire, and there is now interest from Ipswich, who need to add strength in their goalkeeping department. The Mail suggests that Amos did not want to go back to United to add cover as he wanted more playing time.

Paper Round’s view: United appear to have secured a deal for Tom Heaton when his contract with Aston Villa expires, and in turn Sergio Romero is believed to be wanted by both Juventus and Everton. Amos showed little in his career to suggest that he would be a success at United but given Tom Heaton looks likely to turn up as third choice, it appears standards were not desperately high.

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Euro 2020

Opinion: Morata delivers for Spain – what more do people want from him?

YESTERDAY AT 14:28

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Opinion: Morata delivers for Spain – what more do people want from him?

Here’s a quick question: what do Kylian Mbappe, Harry Kane, Thomas Muller, Gerard Moreno, Eden Hazard, Gareth Bale and Bruno Fernandes all have in common?

They all have fewer goals at Euro 2020 than Alvaro Morata.

Here’s another one. If we use “forward” in the loosest sense to mean anyone in the frontline of Spain’s 4-3-3, then Morata is competing with Dani Olmo, Pablo Sarabia, Gerard Moreno, Ferran Torres, Adama Traore and Mikel Oyarzabal for a starting spot. Those players, between them, have scored 21 goals for La Roja.

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Morata alone has scored 20.

So what does he have to do in a Spain shirt to convince everyone he deserves to start for his country?

I know, you’re screaming “finish chances!” at your device right now. According to FBRef, Morata has scored just once this tournament from 2.8 expected goals. Reasonable people might argue scoring penalties is different to open play, but even so, that’s still an xG of 1.7. He’s not clinical.

Through all the competitions FBRef have advanced data on in the past few seasons, Morata has scored 53 non-penalty goals from 55.8 xG. It’s not anything special. But he’s regularly converting the chances he gets. And it’s not like strikers are generally overperforming their xG by huge margins. Someone like Jamie Vardy, who most football fans would consider a “clinical finisher”, has taken 54.9 xG from the data collected and converted 56 times.

It’s better, but we’re not talking about wildly different rates to Morata here. Part of this is just how we measure finishing. Morata’s errors can be about mistiming his runs to end up offside, or failing to connect with crosses. None of that shows up in the data.

And it’s not quite as though Morata has a glittering club career to back him up. After looking very promising in limited minutes as a youngster at Real Madrid, he got a move to Juventus in which he was expected to prove himself one of Europe’s finest marksmen. In reality, he found himself in and out of the team, getting goals and assists when he was on the pitch but never fully earning manager Max Allegri’s trust.

After a year back at Real Madrid that was arguably his best, scoring nearly a goal every 90 minutes, he had another fresh start at Chelsea. Again, he wasn’t quite trusted all the time. He started that first season in red hot form but badly tailed off, scoring 10 goals before the New Year and just one after. It’s not a satisfying narrative. Had he started slowly but ended strong, people would have felt good about him. This way around, it just feels like he crumbled.

After Maurizio Sarri seemed to grow bored of him the following January, Morata has spent time with Atletico Madrid and Juventus, not really setting the world alight in either situation. This is someone who scores a solid if not incredible amount without ever looking that comfortable doing it, and someone who many managers don’t quite seem to trust.

There is a view that Morata is too mentally fragile to thrive as a prolific goalscorer. He has a reputation for taking setbacks poorly, for finding it difficult to deal with the natural up and down rhythms of being a top footballer. Striker is a particularly tough position for this. Even the most clinical scorers only score about 20% of their shots, so the experience of a goalscorer is knowing you’re going to fail four out of five times, but keeping buying that lottery ticket anyway.
The best centre forwards often seem to have personalities where they can just brush off failure like it’s no big deal. You think of players like Vardy or Ian Wright, who had to fight and scrap their way to the top from the lowest levels. Or you can look at someone like Romelu Lukaku, who was so completely driven to help his family and play professional football by age 16, despite what anyone would tell him. Those kinds of people have the personalities to miss chances and just keep going.

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But for all this, he’s been scoring regularly at international level. Yes, some of those goals came against minnows Lichtenstein and Malta, but he’s also scored against Germany, Italy and Croatia. He’s the country’s first reliable goalscorer since David Villa and Fernando Torres retired. That’s the Alvaro Morata Luis Enrique sees. It’s the striker who makes his manager say Spain “play with Morata and 10 more”. Perhaps he looks at Morata as someone who needs all the support he can get. Perhaps this is simply his honest view.
Morata is not always the most refined player around. You expect a handsome Spanish striker like him to have the technique of an angel, but that’s not his game at all. Even when he scores, he doesn’t always look like he’s striking the ball too cleanly. He gets caught by the flag so often that a parody Twitter account of Morata lists his current location as “offside”. He’s rough around the edges. But is this automatically the worst thing in the world?

Spain are otherwise the most refined team at the European Championship. Every pass, every movement, every touch feels like perfect precision. Everything is always in its right place, slowly working its way forward, until it gets to Morata playing to an entirely different beat.

Alvaro Morata

Image credit: Getty Images

This might actually be a good thing. Morata’s offside record, while overblown, speaks to the type of player he is. He’s always on the shoulder of the last man, looking to run in behind and stretch teams. Spain, with their classic possession-heavy style, can often be caught with two many players coming towards the ball and looking to receive it to feet.

In the later years of their golden generation, they had so many wonderful technicians coming short every time, with no one making the run in behind that would open up opportunities for those creative players to make a pass that can really hurt teams. As sides naturally want to close down those wonderful Spanish midfielders, it opens up space for Morata to make those runs. He’s taking a risk, so sometimes he’ll get caught going too soon. If your attackers never get caught offside, it’s a sign you’re playing it too safe and refusing to stretch teams where you can do serious damage.

Morata’s the joker in the pack for Enrique’s precision Spain side. While everyone else is conducting a perfect symphony, he’s shredding a guitar without worrying how the song goes. It feels abrasive to watch him lack so much of that Spanish composure, but he offers qualities that the side certainly need. Without him bursting forward and taking those scruffy shots, Spain would be at greater risk of looking static and plodding.

Considering his track record, the question is whether he can hold things together for the whole tournament. Enrique and the Spain squad need to keep Morata feeling confident somehow, because they need the things he does. It’s not always going to look great, but if Spain are to win Euro 2020, Morata is absolutely going to be a key player for the side.

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