From Real Madrid to PSG- Are major European clubs ignoring the special one Jose Mourinho?

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Jose Mourinho has been out of a job since being sacked as Manchester United manager back in December and while he is adamant that he will be back coaching soon, it doesn’t seem that way at all. One could, with all validity wonder if the same European super clubs have had enough of the special one?

One huge telling point was when Mourinho was linked with a return back to Real Madrid. And it almost made sense given how poor the club had been under Santiago Solari. True Solari could not be wholly blamed for Madrid’s chaotic season but his name simply did not scream ‘big enough’ for the club. Madrid were not getting the desired results and Mourinho was out of a job.

There was talk and then a feeling that Florentino Perez the Real Madrid president would go back to Mourinho. It’s true that his style the first time around did not seem to fit the club, but with Mourinho comes trophies- there have always been trophies before the inevitable meltdown. But this time Madrid passed and before you could say French football legend- Zinedine Zidane was back at the same club he had walked out on the summer before. Mourinho had been ignored.

There was talk he could go back to Portugal and coach Porto where the glory all started. But Mourinho himself dismissed this idea. Then there was the Bayern Munich link but despite Novak Kovac’s up and down season in his debut one for the club, Bayern did win the league and he doesn’t look like he will be going anywhere.

The links continued- how about PSG? The job would surely have been the perfect fit for Mourinho who would have had a bottomless pit of money to buy whoever he wants. But PSG turned round and gave current coach Thomas Tuchel a new 3 year deal.

Once Juventus had parted ways with Massimo Allegri this seemed to open up the door for Mourinho to seamlessly join the biggest and best club in Italy where he would be reunited with Cristiano Ronaldo. But Juventus appointed Maurizio Sarri instead.

So now we arrive at a point where all of the vacancies at the big clubs have long but gone. It just makes that question even more intriguing- where will Mourinho go next?

That club could be Newcastle United, a club that never would have been linked with Mourinho even six months ago. The change is that the Magpies might be taken over and a cash injection that much to rival PSG could be on the cards, with the club seeing a major overhaul.

All of this could sound ideal for Mourinho apart from the fact that even when clubs get taken over and are thrown pots of money at them it takes time to adapt and become used to winning league titles- it did for Manchester City. For Chelsea it was quicker, but then again by that point Arsenal were fading in the mid 2000s and Chelsea’s only legit rival was Manchester United.

Now the Premier League is incredibly hard to win and next season it should be a two way tussle between Manchester City and Liverpool. As for Mourinho if he does join Newcastle, will he be around to see the club reap the benefits, before his 3rd season syndrome kicks in?

Football is a party and for now it feels like Mourinho does not have an invitation.

Iker Casillas is a legend who has nothing else left to prove and should retire after heart scare

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It only feels like yesterday when Iker Casillas replaced Cesar Sanchez in goal for Real Madrid in the final absorbing minutes of the 2002 Champions League final. Real were leading the game 2-1 against Germans Bayer Leverkusen but had a poor second half where Leverkusen created wave after waves of attacking football, the game seemed destined to end 2-2. But Casillas pulled off a string of fantastic saves and although he had made a cameo part in the final he emerged as a hero, saving the day for the club who went onto win their 9th European Cup.

From that day forward Casillas established himself as Real Madrid’s No.1. goalkeeper and would keep the job between the sticks for the next 13 years. In that time he won everything a player possibly could. As Madrid’s first choice he was also naturally Spain’s too, and was part of the most successful Spanish side in history.

Casillas has spent the last four seasons at Porto after his surprise move there took place in 2015, but it felt like the right time for him to be moving on. Recently though it came as shock news to learn that Casillas had suffered a heart attack, even if mild on the training pitch. It is not something which one fathoms about happening to a 37 year old elite athlete.

Casillas is fine, he is good and that is all that really matters at this stage. But he must be incredibly shaken up and also ask why this has happened to him? He has put on a brave face in front of the media but there is no doubt that tears have been shed and part of this isn’t because he has survived and is thankful. It is also a realisation that his football career is over. Of course nothing has been made official and if Casillas can continue all good to him. But he must be fearful in some respects and he must also have the ability to protect himself and his health. Yes his career is ending perhaps 3-4 years before he would have ideally liked, but at the same time doesn’t it make sense to hang up his boots?

What does Casillas have left to prove, he has literally won every trophy one could ask for. This includes 19 trophies for Real Madrid, 5 league titles and 2 Champions Leagues. He won the league in Portugal with Porto last season. There could yet be another title this season as Porto are just 2 points behind Benfica with 2 games left to play in what should be a thrilling end to the season.

And then there is the glory with Spain. Two European Championships and a World Cup, in an extraordinary four year period.

Perhaps Casillas needs to reflect on the utterly amazing career he has had, this dreadful attack did not happen when he was 27, but at 37, he has had a 95% career in football. Simply for his health and well being he should be dropping the football gloves for the microphone of punditry and saying goodbye to his playing days- remaining a legend in any football fans eyes.

Liverpool and Tottenham take the advantage in the Champions League

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Liverpool and Tottenham won their respective Champions League knock out ties and look like being the favourites to get to the semi final stage.

Liverpool who were last year’s beaten finalists when they lost to Real Madrid 3-1 swept aside Porto at Anfield. The Reds were the favourites to win the game and they eased to victory over Porto with goals from Naby Keita and Roberto Firmino, indeed Keita scored within 5 minutes of the start of the game. Porto did squander a few chances but the brutal truth was laid out for all to see that Porto don’t really belong in a Champions League quarter final, even if they are deserving to be there after getting through the group stages and beating Roma in the last 16. The deep end of the Champions League has that ability to show up teams who are not prepared, and tonight that was Porto.

The 2nd leg in Portugal will be interesting and the tie isn’t a dead one for Porto, but if Liverpool were to open the scoring then Porto would need 4 goals, a neutral can only hope that it is Porto who score first in the 2nd leg otherwise that game will be put to bed rather early.

With all due respect to both Liverpool and Porto the game that everyone had their eyes on was the all-English tie between Tottenham and Manchester City. With no love lost between the two teams this was sure to be a spectacular night and it was Tottenham’s first European game at their brand new stadium- and it ended in a 1-0 victory.

Son grabbed the goal with his wonderful solo effort but City will be rueing Sergio Aguero’s penalty miss early on in the game which could have changed how it all played out. In the end Tottenham deserved their win and City actually looked rather toothless up front. Why did Pep Guardiola opt to bench Leroy Sane a player who has scored 19 goals this season? Or not start Kevin De Bruyne- he will have his reasons but City looked limp on the attack, which is what their game is all about.

Harry Kane went off injured and Tottenham will be hoping that it isn’t serious, though the England international looked in pain. The only good news for City is that the match is far from dead at 1-0, and City will still be the favourites to win the 2nd leg. However like Liverpool if Tottenham can score first the whole situation of the tie will change. It’s difficult to think though that City will be contained at home.

Liverpool should make it to the semi finals, but you’d have to be brave to pick out who will go through between Tottenham and City, although clearly it is the Londoners who have never made it to a semi final of the Champions League before who have the advantage.

Jose Mourinho should avoid Ligue 1 and go back to Inter Milan where he is loved

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The Special One Jose Mourinho is still head hunting for a job after being sacked at Manchester United last December. Just a few weeks after his departure Mourinho was being linked to a return to his native Portugal, possibly with Benfica.

Of course the thought of Mourinho coaching Benfica after his success with Porto never looked like being a realistic option. That would be like Mourinho returning to Italy to coach AC Milan after his incredible success at rivals Inter. All you do in that process is tarnish fans memories of what had been before and it rarely works out with a smile on your face.

But let’s face it football misses Mourinho, even the negative side of Mourinho, glum face, no wins and arguments with players and officials. Modern day football has enough room for Mourinho and lets not forget his incredible successes. Say what you will about Mourinho, his presence does win trophies.

The latest news on Mourinho has come from left field and does feel like a surprise. Apparently he is interested in coaching in France’s Ligue 1. But with the PSG job unavailable, what other options does Mourinho have? Well there is Lyon who have always been a huge club and have had a solid season and have very decent players. They are currently in 3rd place trying to chase down 2nd placed Lille. But they are also 25 points behind PSG.

Lyon of course dominated French football in the 2000s winning 7 titles in a row but the money that PSG has now has changed the ball game in France. The other club he is being linked to is an even greater surprise- Monaco. Now of course Monaco did win Ligue 1 in 2017, but they are a selling club and much of that team has disappeared including the great Kylian Mbappe who was snapped up by PSG. Now Monaco are just trying to survive in Ligue 1.

Of course the destination of Monaco would greatly suit Mourinho but it is questionable whether he will be able to add to his trophy haul by going there. Plus how much disrespect can one man in Leonardo Jardim be shown? Sacked earlier in the season to make way for Thierry Henry. He was brought back in just a few months later when it was clear that Henry was not cut out for the job. Are we seriously suggesting he will be tossed aside once more to make way for Mourinho?

If the truth be told Mourinho should avoid Ligue 1 and go back to Inter Milan. Inter do have a lot of problems but at the same time they have shown great signs this season and if he was given a decent transfer budget together with the contacts he has maybe he could make something of it once again in Milan. Just think for a second how loved Mourinho is at Inter and love is what he really needs at this time.

It was evident again this past weekend when he was reunited with Inter when an all star team played an all star Tottenham side to open up Tottenham’s new season. Mourinho was the happiest that the public had seen him in quite a while.

The bottom line is that managing Inter and being back in Serie A would not be an easy job, and the club would have to challenge a Ronaldo led Juventus. But at the same time he would walk into  a city and club that 100% respect him.

Does he leave the memories as they are or does he come back for a second helping. In part when he did with Chelsea he got immediate success with another league title, but by the end of his reign there it had turned nightmarish and that is something that even after 3 years has not left Mourinho’s legacy.

From PSG v Manchester United- who will take advantage in the Champions League knock out round of 16?

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This week sees the beginning of the Champions League knock out stages. And as ever there are some genuinely tasty fixtures to look forward to, so let’s take a look at the teams who can take an advantage from the first leg and try and get one foot into the quarter finals.

Tuesday kicks off with a gigantic match when Manchester United play PSG. When this match was drawn out of the hat in December, United would have been running for cover. Under Jose Mourinho the team had become a shadow of their once great self and it was felt that PSG would be just too strong for them. But if a week is a long time in football then 2 months is a lifetime. Mourinho has since been sacked and Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer has come in and still not lost a game after 2 months in charge.

The Norwegian has worked miracles for the club who have gone from 6th to surpass both Chelsea and Arsenal in the league, and just keep winning games. They are arguably favourites to at least win the first leg on what should be a very atmospheric night in Manchester. Since December PSG have finally lost a game and have also lost Neymar to injury. Edinson Cavani could also be a doubt for the first leg. But surely United can win this game: Prediction Manchester United 2-1 PSG

The other game will take place between Roma and Porto and this is a classic match up of teams who only seem to perform when they are at home. We could see a very attacking game with goals but the pick here will be to see the Serie A team get a narrow win. This game much like the United one will be settled only in the second leg. Prediction: Roma 2-1 Porto

On Wednesday the games continue with Ajax v Real Madrid. Ajax lost at the weekend to stay 2nd in the league but of course their thoughts would have turned to this game sometime ago. Ajax used to be a great side but have dipped heavily in recent years, and yet this side look like getting the famous name of Ajax back to their best- there really has been a big shift. We all know about Real Madrid, 3 times winners of this competition in the past three years- an unbelievable feat, but many think that the clubs time is up now. Ajax can get the advantage in this first leg against a Madrid side who have blown hot and cold this season. Prediction: Ajax 3-2 Real Madrid

The final game of this Champions League week will take place between Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund and the English club will need a good start if they are going to get to the last 8 against the Bundesliga leaders. Tottenham have shown some real resilience but there is a question mark over a team who have failed at Wembley time and again against the best teams in the Premier League. This could be a classic game sure to have a few goals in it. A draw could be on the cards. Prediction: Tottenham 2-2 Borussia Dortmund

Liverpool Luck Out With Porto Champions League Draw

If you want a challenge, try to look for an online gambling site that does not list Real Madrid as the favorites to win the UEFA Champions League for the third year running. The Spanish giants will have their fair share of challengers this year, but Cristiano Ronaldo and company still remain heavy favorites.  Continue reading

Falcao’s Resurgence Complete: One of Best Strikers in Ligue 1

For two seasons, Radamel Falcao’s best form completely deserted him. Previously a prolific goal scorer for FC Porto, Atletico Madrid and AS Monaco, on loan from the Ligue 1 club to Manchester United and then Chelsea, the Colombian struggled to make a positive impact in the English Premier League.

In a combined 36 Premier League appearances, he scored just five goals, whilst unable to retain full fitness. Only occasionally did he show glimpses of his predatory instincts which along with his indefatigable work rate, combined to make him one of European football’s most feared strikers.

At one point, a fine instinctive finish on just his fourth appearance for Manchester United against Everton indicated he could become a success in English football. Despite his best efforts, he was unable to build upon that good start, as Falcao returned to Monaco from Chelsea after having made just one substitute appearance in his last seven months for a side then managed by Guus Hiddink.

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Rather than losing all his confidence following his disappointing and frustrating two years in England, the former River Plate striker, showed great determination and desire to re-establish himself as a key player for Monaco. He has done so, emphatically.

As well as ending his first season back in France as the third top goal scorer in Ligue 1 with 21 goals, with only Edinson Cavani and Alexandre Lacazette finding the net more often, Falcao excelled in the Champions League.

With Monaco reaching the semi-final, he scored seven times in ten appearances, including twice in the away leg of their last 16 encounter against Manchester City. His goals proved vital, as they enabled his team to advance on away goals after the tie ended 6-6 on aggregate.

The ghosts of the feared striker who scored regularly prior to his injury leading to World Cup 2014 (which he missed) did not torment Falcao but rather fueled his turnaround. He has continued to score at a great this season- he has already managed to find the back of the net 13 times in just 9 league appearances.

Now captain of Monaco, the club he initially joined from Porto in 2013, Falcao scored twice in the 6-1 destruction of Marseille. The class and confidence which he exuded prior to his disappointing spell in England has fully returned.

More than just being a great benefit to his current club Monaco and the Colombian national team as well as football in general, his resurgence serves as a timely reminder for those struggling to recover from serious injury. Work hard and put in the hours to rediscover your fitness and form but, above all, believe in yourself and you may end up a rejuvenated star like Falcao.

 

Roma’s season-defining clash

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It’s a match Luciano Spalletti says Roma have been waiting eight months for. The man who took over from Rudi Garcia is a win over Porto away from helping the Giallorossi to the Champions League group stage.

It’s a level they hope to reach. “It’s the most prestigious stage in European football and we want to be on that stage.” A 1-1 draw in Portugal last week leaves the tie slightly in the Italian club’s favour. But Spalletti’s men head into the Stadio Olimpico return with question marks.

Vasilis Torosidis and Alessandro Florenzi are injured, Thomas Vermaelen suspended. That means defensive changes for the Giallorossi. New arrival Bruno Peres is set to start on the right, while Greek defender Kostas Manolas looks to be ok after an injury suffered at the weekend against Udinese.

It took Roma more than an hour to find the breakthrough on Saturday, but once they did they put Udinese to the sword. Diego Perotti struck twice from the penalty spot, before further goals from Edin Dzeko and Mohamed Salah built confidence before this clash.

A win on home soil will send Roma to the group stage. That, Kevin Strootman says, is the aim. Score and progress. But the Lupi can also secure an aggregate success by way of a scoreless draw. It would be risky for a side which has been forced into defensive alterations and is naturally an attacking outfit.

Spalletti has admitted that is on their minds. However, the boss wants to see his team exhibit more control on proceedings than last week, where he felt Roma let Porto back into the contest after opening the scoring. Even if Roma were down to 10 men for the entire second half, Spalletti was looking for something more.

Champions League competitors for the past two seasons, Roma are acutely aware of the importance surrounding this fixture. They have made progress, from a group stage elimination in 2014-15 to the Round of 16 last term and want to continue that growth. As a club too, one which has ambitions to compete with the best.

This is a massive test of that growth and maturity in the squad. They face a dangerous Porto side, but must go in believing that can advance from a match which will help define Roma’s season.

Benfica host Braga in Portugal’s Top Weekend Game

League leaders Benfica will host Braga on Friday, April 1st in the Primeira Liga’s top game of the weekend. Benfica will be desperate for a win in order to maintain the advantage over second place Sporting Lisbon and third place Porto.

Porto have the easiest fixture out of the top 3 teams yet they are six points behind leaders Benfica. Porto will play host to bottom of the table Tondela. Porto rely heavily on their multi-dimensional defender Miguel Layún, midfielder Yacine Brahimi, and strikers Vincent Aboubaker & Hyun Jun Suk.

The Mexican international footballer Layún is on loan from English Premier League club Watford and is having a great season with Porto. He already has 4 goals and has provided a remarkable tally of 14 assists.

Second place Sporting Lisbon travel to face Belenenses in a match the Lisbon side ought to win. Sporting rely heavily on striker Islam Slimani as well as midfielders João Mário and Adrien Silva. Striker Slimani has already managed to score 20 goals in league play and his teammates will be looking for him to add to his tally against Belenenses.

Going back to league leaders Benfica, they will face a tricky match against Braga who are in fourth and have the third best defensive record in the Primeira Liga. Benfica will try to breakdown Braga’s defensive line with strikers Jonas Gonçalves Oliveira and Kostas Mitroglou.

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Between them the attacking duo have found the back of the net 44 times in the Portuguese League! Veteran Brazilian scorer Jonas has found the net an impressive 29 times in just 27 league games while his partner Greek striker Mitroglou has scored 15 goals. Jonas has also added an impressive 9 assists to his contributions to Benfica’s attack.

Will Benfica win against Braga on the back of the Jonas-Kostas partnership? Will Porto keep up with a home win to maintain whatever slim chances they have of winning the league?

You can always follow the results of the Portuguese League live by clicking here.

 

Hora da verdade no Porto

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Existe um ditado que diz para jamais duvidar dos gigantes. Essa é uma frase que se encaixa para o Porto. Apontado como fora da briga pelo título nacional, o time conseguiu se recuperar com uma importante vitória no clássico com o Benfica e colocou ainda mais emoção na reta final da Liga Portuguesa.
São vários pontos importantes para essa recuperação, mas dois deles se destacam com um brilho maior. Um é Iker Casillas. Assim como o Porto, o guarda-redes foi definido como um jogador em fim de carreira e que não tinha mais talento para se destacar. Engano total. O camisa 1 portista tem sido um dos melhores do campeonato nessa reta final e fez uma partida sublime contra os encarnados.
Casillas deu nova alma ao Porto. Não bastasse ser um jogador que tem ressurgido e vivido novamente uma excelente fase no futebol, o ex-atleta do Real Madrid inspira confiança para o elenco e sistema defensivo. É bem mais fácil atuar ao lado de uma lenda do que um jogador em ascenção e que ainda não provou todo o seu potencial com uma camisa pesada e de história como a do Dragão.
Outra mudança importante é Peseiro. O novo treinador substuiu Lopetegui e modificou o clima de insegurança e estagnação que existia no clube. Normalmente, este é o efeito número um de cada mudança no banco de reservas. Independente do treinador, o grupo sempre enxerga as mudanças de comando como uma nova chance batendo na porta.
Agora começa o estágio definitivo para o Porto. O momento da consolidação. Restam 11 jogos para o final da atual época, com o grande clássico contra o Sporting na 32ª rodada. Casillas já mostrou o seu potencial e desponta como o líder de um grupo que agora precisa mostrar sua qualidade para levar mais uma taça para a galera vitoriosa do Estádio do Dragão.