3 things to look out for in El Clasico

So the day has finally arrived. El Clasico MK II is here.

And it’s been a long while since Barcelona and Real Madrid were so close in points terms going into the biggest club match in the world.

Just two points separate these La Liga behemoths, and the result could end up being decisive in the title race. Continue reading

Barca could end Solari’s Real Madrid career

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Earlier this season, Julen Lopetegui knew definitively that his Real Madrid coaching tenure was over when Los Blancos were hammered 5-1 at the Camp Nou.

The manner of the defeat left Florentino Perez no other option, notwithstanding that the president needs no excuse to exercise his trigger finger. Continue reading

Marcus Rashford has to leave United to further his development

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Whether or not England go on to lift the World Cup title, or go further than the quarter final against Sweden, one thing has become abundantly clear under Gareth Southgate.

His astuteness and nous has seen a number of his young players going out onto the pitch fearless and able to fully express themselves. Not constrained in any way, they’re given the confidence to play their natural game and, where possible, enjoy themselves.

Compare and contrast Marcus Rashford’s demeanour with England to when he’s playing for Manchester United. Continue reading

Abject Spain crash out of tournament


Fernando Hierro’s Spain were left licking their wounds as they crashed out of the World Cup Following a disappointing performance that leaves many querying where they go from here.

Spain went ahead early in the tie when 38-year-old Russian defender Sergei Ignashevich inadvertently turning a Marco Asensio free kick into his own net as he bid to stop Sergio Ramos at the back post.

Despite going ahead, Spain failed to turn their dominance into further chances and paid the price before half-time as the tournament hosts secured a shock penalty as Artem Dzyuba’s header from a corner hit Gerard Pique‘s outstretched arm. Continue reading

Ham-fisted Karius PR exercise has further harmed Liverpool

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The Champions League final was arguably the nadir of Loris Karius’ professional career.

In the biggest game of his life, his two mistakes were incredibly amateur for a player at the elite level.

Given he was the choice of Jurgen Klopp ahead of Simon Mignolet, the German has to take some responsibility, though he will surely not have expected Karius to have failed in such spectacular fashion.

In the wake of the final and Karius’ subsequent upset, a multitude of theories have been put forward as to the reason why he was so off colour on the night.

Pantomime villain, Sergio Ramos, had already been blamed for putting Mo Salah’s World Cup in jeopardy, and with video coming to light of him accidentally striking Karius, and the keeper, allegedly, complaining of a problem at the time, a theory of concussion was put forward.

The problem?

Such details and exploration of the theory didn’t take place until over a week after the final.

It doesn’t really serve any purpose coming so late after the event but, clearly, given the wave of public animosity towards Karius, Liverpool thought a confirmed diagnosis of concussion would go some way to assuaging the masses to not be so hard on him.

However, such a ham-fisted way of going about it has left Liverpool and Karius himself open to further ridicule.

At best it’s been a PR exercise gone wrong and, frankly, getting the news out there that Karius was injured doesn’t change the fact that Liverpool lost the final fair and square.

Yes, Ramos in particular was walking the line between what is and what is not acceptable on a football pitch, but the ref was perfectly happy with his conduct. Trying to lay all of the blame at his door is a little disingenuous.

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If the only purpose is to ‘calm the situation down,’ well Liverpool are already apparently in the market for a new custodian, so the likelihood is that Karius won’t even be in the firing line from the start of the season anyway.

The wider issue here of course is the inherent need to absolve Karius of all blame.

Everyone makes mistakes. It happens.

The best way to deal with it is to pick up the baton straight away and go again.  Continue reading