Matthaus links Rodriguez to Juventus and Higuain’s future update

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Lothar Matthaus revealed in an interview to AS Colombia that he believes James Rodriguez will move to Old Lady after chatting with the player: “I met him during the celebration for the last Bayern title and talked about everything, from Colombia to the history of football. I think he will join Juventus: he is very close with Cristiano Ronaldo, they are in touch and the Portuguese would like to bring him to Turin. James is a great assist man and they do brilliant things together.” Rodriguez will leave Bundesliga as the club did not pick the €45M option to buy him, so it will be up to Real Madrid to decide his future. He has often been linked to the Madama in the past, but in recent weeks he appeared way closer to Napoli, which is helmed by his former coach Carlo Ancelotti. He scored 15 times and provided 20 helpers in 67 apperances in the last two years in Germany. Continue reading

Zidane pushing for Real Madrid summer clear out

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Zinedine Zidane will push ahead with plans for a squad overhaul this summer, as he pledges to challenge Barcelona for the La Liga title in 2019-20.

The Frenchman has been clear in his desire to make changes at the club he led to three Champions League title between 2014 and 2017, and that means moving on some big names from the Santiago Bernabeu.

Club President Florentino Perez will fund certain transfer targets, but Zidane will have to clear out players to fund extra moves.

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Is there a role for James Rodriguez back at Real Madrid?

He was the star of the 2014 World Cup and the last true Galactico signing. Real Madrid have a habit of picking up the best player from any given major tournament. Take Mesut Ozil, for instance, who shone for Germany at the 2010 World Cup only to make a move to the Santiago Bernabeu that very same summer. Rodriguez was Real Madrid’s 100-pound marlin to show off for the cameras in 2014.

And yet the Colombian never quite settled into his new surroundings in the Spanish capital. He was far from a failure, scoring once every three appearances over three seasons for Real Madrid. James was a La Liga winner during his time there, also winning the Champions League twice. There was just something about the player that Zinedine Zidane didn’t take to, though.

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As we all know, James was shipped out to Bayern Munich on loan with the assumption that the Colombian would eventually make the move to Bavaria permanent. The two clubs had even negotiated a future purchase price of £35 million, which would surely be activated after the initial two-year loan deal.

Now, however, James’ future is up in the air. Niko Kovac is believed to be edging the Colombian back towards Real Madrid, with the Bayern Munich boss leaving the playmaker out of his team for the crunch clash with title rivals Borussia Dortmund two weeks ago. That was taken as a sign that Kovac no longer sees James as a part of his plans for the future.

So would there be a place at Real Madrid waiting for James? Previously, one of the issues for the Colombian at the Santiago Bernabeu was that he occupied one of the three places permitted for non-European Union players in La Liga. Zidane wanted to free up James’ spot for others.

James has recently gained Spanish citizenship, though, and so Real Madrid wouldn’t have to use one of their non-EU places to keep the Colombian international in their squad. It’s certainly true that Zidane needs renewed creativity across his attacking line and so James could come in handy in this regard.

But would James really displace Isco in the Real Madrid first team, though? With Eden Hazard and Paul Pogba widely expected to join the Spanish giants this summer, James would largely be a peripheral figure at the Santiago Bernabeu. A player of his ability should perhaps expect better for himself.

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James Rodriguez to lead Real Madrid summer exodus

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James Rodriguez is set to leave La Liga this summer, with Real Madrid happy for the Colombian international to move on after an unfulfilled five years at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Rodriguez, 27, signed for Los Blancos ahead of the 2014-15 campaign, on the back of an outstanding performance at the World Cup two months before, however his face never seemed to fit at the club particularly under previous boss Zinedine Zidane.

Despite the last two seasons on loan at Bayern Munich, he does not appear to be guaranteed a continued role in Bavaria either.

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Juventus announce Ramsey and Paratici discusses transfer market topics

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Eleven days after the end of the January transfer market window, Juventus announced the signing of Aaron Ramsey for next summer, which was secured weeks, if not months, ago. The Bosman move will cost the club only €3.7M in agents’ fees, while the midfielder has penned a four-year contract, with a reported €7M salary.

Ramsey has been a regular at Arsenal since 2010 and racked up 359 appearances with the Gunners, scoring 61 goals and providing 64 assists. In London, he has won the FA Cup and the Community Shield three times. The 28-year-old will be the third Welsh in the history of the Bianconeri after John Charles in the late 50’s and Ian Rush in the 80’s. Continue reading

Soccerex study released, new UCL list and Rodriguez linked to Juventus

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Cristiano Ronaldo turned 34 yesterday and briefly talked to the club’s TV after practice: “I am very happy to be celebrating my birthday here, it is nice to be in Italy. I want to thank the fans to the messages and the affection. Being at Juventus in a great experience and I feel lucky to play in Serie A. People are treating me very well, especially within the club and Torino is a very nice and quiet city. My family and my kids are happy and therefore so am I. The squad is in a good moment, we feel well and we are top of the league, we advanced to the Champions League quarter-finals and we won our first trophy. We are ready for the upcoming games.” Continue reading

Can anyone stop Bayern Munich?

Bayern Munich have maintained their 100 percent record to the 2018/19 season which begs the question once again, can anyone stop them? Winning the Bundesliga for the sixth consecutive season, Bayern Munich have played 208, winning 167 and losing just 16 of those, boasting a staggering goal difference of 416. Continue reading

Season Preview: Bayern Munich

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It is always going to be difficult for any team in any league to retain the championship for the seventh consecutive campaign, but Bayern Munich head into the 2018/19 campaign with the intention of doing just that, similarly to Lyon’s golden era between 2001 and 2008.

Niko Kovac’s side open their Bundesliga account against Hoffenheim on Friday night in a fixture that could prove problematic for the Croat’s side he has inherited. Julian Nagelsmann’s Hoffenheim caused Bayern multiple problems during the 2017/18 campaign but ultimately, it was Bavarian side who had the last laugh, clinching their sixth consecutive Bundesliga title with relative ease.

Last Season: The 2017/18 campaign was a strange one for Bayern Munich and their fans. Barring a 2-0 defeat on Matchday 3 against Hoffenheim, Carlo Ancelotti enjoyed four wins, one draw and one defeat in his opening six Bundesliga fixates but it still wasn’t good enough to save the Italian. There’s no doubting that the Champions League trophy is the aim for Bayern Munich, that goes without saying and so a 3-0 defeat against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League in September resulted in the sacking of Ancelotti.

A bold move, his replacement, Jupp Heynckes returned to Bayern Munich for his third spell with the Bundesliga club. His last saw him clinch the treble and it’s something that Uli Hoeneß and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge had set their sights on during 2017/18.

Although they clinched the league in relatively easy fashion, finishing 21 points ahead of Schalke, Bayern’s campaign was a disaster. Defeat in the DFB Pokal final against Eintracht Frankfurt, then coached by Kovac and a defeat against Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final showed Bayern’s weaknesses.

Head coach: Niko Kovac – He wasn’t Bayern Munich’s first choice nor was he their second. Uli Hoeneß and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge wanted a German speaking dressing room, which is something they lacked under both Pep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti. Both Thomas Tuchel and Julian Nagelsmann remained top of their shortlist while Bayern’s management also contemplated offering Jupp Heynckes a contract extension. In the end, it was Kovac who was announced and while it’s perhaps an underwhelming name, there’s no denying that the 46-year-old deserves his opportunity.

With limited funding, Kovac has worked wonders with Eintracht Frankfurt during his two-year spell, clinching European football through winning the DFB Pokal against Bayern Munich. Eintracht also played a style of football that many opponents struggled to deal with. Predominantly opting for a 3-5-2 with a high press, it’s unlikely we’ll see something like this at Bayern Munch until the former Bayern Munich defender gets the players he desires.

Summer Transfers: With Franck Ribery (35) and Arjen Robben (34) not getting any younger, it’s clear just to see where Bayern Munich’s weaknesses are. Serge Gnabry returns from a loan spell at Hoffenheim while Kinglsey Coman is slowly returning to fitness however, if Bayern Munich are going to go for the treble, then there’s no doubting that they need to strengthen in the wide areas. They’ve agreed a deal to sign Alphonso Davies from Vancouver Whitecaps, who will arrive in January however, the Canadian is unlikely to make a positive contribution immediately.

And so, Bayern Munich’s summer transfer window has been rather poor. Signing Leon Goretzka on a free transfer prior to the World Cup promised an eventful summer but what followed was a lack of direction but with the departure of Arturo Vidal to Barcelona, their midfield seems to lack depth.

Bayern Munich’s hiarachy has suggested that Germany international Jerome Boateng can leave the club but a poor World Cup campaign has resulted in the Bundesliga side failing to find a buyer. PSG opted for Schalke’s Thilo Kehrer while it now looks as though the 29-year-old will remain at the Allianz Arena. There had been reports of a move for Stuttgart’s Benjamin Pavard while it’s surprising that Bayern hadn’t concluded the deal, instead opting to wait until 2019.

Renato Sanches also returns from his Swansea City loan spell.

Prediction: Bayern Munich have the squad to retain the Bundesliga. But to do it for the seventh season running is going to put unnecessary pressure on Bayern Munich and with a poor summer of recruitment in comparison to Borussia Dortmund and Schalke, this is perhaps the best chance for another side to step up and knock the Bavarians off their throne. Even more so given Bayern are yet again undergoing a transitional season with the appointment of a new head coach.

Probable Starting XI – Neuer – Kimmich, Boateng, Hummels, Alaba – Martinez – Robben, Müller, James Rodriguez, Ribery – Lewandowski.

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Colombia lost their composure and let themselves down

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After somehow succeeding past the group of death, it was not going to be easy for Colombia to go on to beating England in the Round of 16, especially without their key player in James Rodriguez. Whether the side had beaten Gareth Southgate’s men or not, they would have been more than happy to have reached past the group stages as well as take the Three Lions all the way to penalties.

Colombia coach, Jose Pekerman, kept the starting XI more or less the same, with the side setup in a 4-3-2-1 system as captain Radamel Falcao led the line as the lone forward. Meanwhile, Juan Cuadrado and Juan Quintero started behind the Monaco forward, who went on to show their movement and pace from time to time but failed to most importantly be effective in the final third.

Just in front of the defence, defensive-midfield Wilmar Barrios started at the centre of midfield with the likes of Carlos Sanchez and Jefferson Lerma alongside him. Despite doing more than enough in their own half to keep the England attackers quiet and to take the close game to penalties, they did not give their all to help produce forward passes and clear cut-chances into the side’s best players.

In defence, Arsenal’s David Ospina carried on his duty as the national team’s goalkeeper whilst the defence consisted of Johan Mojica, Davinson Sanchez, Yerry Mina and Santiago Arias from left to right. The backline of Colombia were aggressive and ruthless from start till end, which became one of the main reasons to why England sat deep and decided to defend their lead in the second half.

Throughout the chaotic and historical night in Moscow, England had the more positive and attacking approach on and off the ball whilst Colombia’s aim was to nullify the opposition on an unconvincing level the led them to making several inappropriate and badly chosen fouls. The good news for Pekerman’s side is that the intentional fouls were actually gone without any punishment and the team were lucky to still have 11 players on the pitch from the first minute of the game till the end.

10 minutes into the second half, England received a penalty from the referee as he caught Carlos Sanchez pushing Harry Kane around in the penalty box as the side’s corner was delivered in by Kieran Trippier. The Tottenham Hotspur hitman stepped up to take the penalty and smashed it down the middle, as David Ospina misjudged the timing of the ball and dived completely the wrong way.

The remainder of the match was purely unconvincing from England, however, Colombia took their game up a notch as Pekerman went all out by bringing on the likes of Carlos Bacca and Luis Muriel from the bench. This positive change allowed the side to have more possession in England’s half as well as allowed the team to have some players to target in the box through crosses and passes.

During the final moments of added time at the end of the game, Juan Cuadrado’s cross from the corner was perfectly met by the head of Yerry Mina, which had the ideal pace and power that even Kieran Trippier could not prevent it from going past him and into the back of the net. Once it went in, the English supporters were totally shell shocked as the Colombian fans sang loud and proud.

Extra time was not much to be mentioned about as both sides chose to play it all safe and only take risks from potential set-pieces and dangerous areas. Other than that, the 30 minutes of extra time quick flew by and the nerve-wrecking time had come where the chosen players had to step up and take part in the penalty duties.

The night ended in disappointment and frustration for Colombia as a whole nation as they were eliminated by England, who were actually better on the night and were here to play football and not an aggressive sport. Jose Pekerman’s men will certainly regret a number of key moments in the game, where they chose to mentally and physically drain the opposition instead of attacking with the intention of winning the game.

Overall, Colombia should seriously be happy with how far they came in the 2018 World Cup, and they should be excited and thrilled with the number of talented players they have within the national team. All they need to do now is, find a manager with the perfect philosophy and style of play that will replace Jose Pekerman.

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Colombia survive the group of death

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After suffering a defeat to Japan in the first fixture of Group H, a lot of people were having doubts on whether Colombia would be able to pick themselves up from the floor and turn the situation around before it is too late. Also, the experts of the beautiful game were seriously shocked at their start to the competition as many had the South American side down as their dark horses of the tournament.

However, Los Cafeteros do what they do best, and they made sure that they were not going to leave Russia and most importantly the World Cup anytime soon. Once James Rodriguez returned into the line-up for the second game against Poland, the side were in full confidence and had the ability as well as the pure mentality to go on to beating Adam Nawalka’s side like it was a piece of cake.

With the goals coming from Juan Cuadrado, Radamel Falcao and Yerry Mina, the side have shown that there a number of talented players in all positions, who can go on to contribute towards the team on both sides of the pitch. Meanwhile in midfield, both Abel Aguilar and Wilmar Barrios were dictating play and keeping the Polish attackers quiet as well as helping the team progress forward.

In the final fixture of the group stages, Colombia had to make sure they picked up the three points against Senegal whilst the other match was been Japan and Poland. Despite having a slow start to the game, the side turned it up a notch in the second half and completed an incredible smash and grab victory, where Mina’s goal in the 75th minute put the team ahead and in the driving seat.

Up next, Jose Pekerman and Colombia will go head-to-head against Gareth Southgate’s England, who will have a huge point to prove as the Three Lions have been eliminated, from the European Championship or the World Cup in the group stages or the Round of 16 on many occasions. On Tuesday evening, football fans will see a thrilling match between two fearless and passionate sides.

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