ALL SPORTS Breaking News Soccer Top news

FFA outlines plan for national second division

Football Federation Australia (FFA) has outlined plans for a national second division below the A-League, which would potentially come into effect in 2021-22.

A-League sides do not face relegation in the existing format but could in future after FFA released details of its plan to work towards a second tier.

Its aim is to form a league that would be “financially sustainable and provide professional pathways for more Australian players”.

FFA director Remo Nogarotto acknowledged the introduction of promotion and relegation would have to be discussed, although it could prove a contentious issue.

“If a second-tier competition in the purest form is the objective – one that not only opens up a new pathway for talented footballers but also differentiates our game from other football codes – then a system of promotion and relegation should be considered over the longer term,” he said.

A committee comprised of the FFA chairman Chris Nikou, two member federations, two representatives of the Association of Australian Football Clubs, one from Professional Footballers Australia and one from an A-League club will be established and report back to the FFA board by the end of November.

ALL SPORTS Breaking News Slider Soccer Top news

Championship fixtures 2019-20: Derby start at Huddersfield, Fulham visit Barnsley

Huddersfield Town face a tricky opening fixture against Derby County on their return to the Championship, while Fulham play newly promoted Barnsley first up.

Huddersfield and Fulham were relegated from the Premier League last season, along with Cardiff City, but start the new campaign with contrasting fixtures.

Beaten play-off finalists Derby – managed by Frank Lampard, the favourite for the Chelsea job – go to Huddersfield to conclude the opening round of fixtures on August 5.

Jan Siewert’s side face a particularly tough start, with Fulham and Cardiff also on the agenda in their first four matches.

The season starts on August 2 with League One winners Luton Town hosting Middlesbrough, while Charlton Athletic travel to Blackburn Rovers and Cardiff visit Wigan Athletic the following day.

The regular season will end on May 2, with Leeds United versus Charlton perhaps the pick of the final-day fixtures.

The ‘spygate’ saga from 2018-19 saw Leeds and Derby forge a rivalry that included a play-off semi-final win for Lampard’s men, and they play at Elland Road on September 21, before a crunch clash at Pride Park on the penultimate weekend.

Cardiff’s relegation means a reprisal of the South Wales derby with Swansea City on October 26 and January 11.

Luton host Fulham on Boxing Day, while West Brom – also beaten play-off semi-finalists – entertain Leeds on New Year’s Day.

ALL SPORTS Breaking News Soccer Top news

Only Neymar knows his future – Douglas Costa

Douglas Costa does not know where Neymar will be next season but trusts his Brazil team-mate will make the right call on his future.

Neymar became the world’s most expensive player when he joined Paris Saint-Germain in a €222million deal in 2017, but he has not been able to improve the Ligue 1 club’s fortunes in the Champions League.

The former Barcelona forward is now reportedly available, with the Catalan giants and Real Madrid said to be interested in taking him back to Spain.

Juventus winger Costa, who went to the 2018 World Cup with Brazil but missed out on a place in the squad for this year’s Copa America, believes Neymar will make the right decision.

“I have no idea [where Neymar will go], I guess nobody knows – only Neymar,” Costa said.

“That’s a very personal decision but he will choose the best for his career.”

ALL SPORTS Breaking News Soccer Top news

Juventus sell Orsolini to Bologna for €15m

Bologna have exercised their option to permanently sign Juventus attacker Riccardo Orsolini in a €15million deal.

Orsolini, who joined Juve from Ascoli in January 2017, spent 18 months on loan at Bologna, helping them to a 10th-place finish in Serie A under Sinisa Mihajlovic last season.

The Italy Under-21 international scored eight goals and provided five assists in 35 league appearances in 2018-19.

Orsolini had previously seen a temporary move to Atalanta cut short after failing to break into the first team.

Breaking News Soccer Top news

A 4-0 win for Uruguay over Ecuador and lead of Group C

 
 Uruguay was a goal machine in its firts CONMEBOL Copa América Brazil 2019 match, when they are looking forward to get their sixteenth continental title, and beat Ecuador 4-0 on Sunday in the opening match game of tournament’s Group C.

An early goal from Nicolas Lodeiro in the sixth minute ended the tie at Belo Horizonte’s Mineirao Stadium and Edinson Cavani in the minute 33 and Luis Suarez in the 44th expanded the gap. Another to Arturo Mina in 77 closed the scoreboard.

The match opened the Group C, whose first date is completed on Monday with the game in Sao Paulo between two-time champion Chile and Japan, one of the guests at the world’s oldest national team tournament.

In the second game of the series, Uruguay will face Japan on Thursday at the Arena do Gremio in Porto Alegre (south), and Ecuador on Friday against Chile at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador (northeast).

Statistics

  • Uruguay and Ecuador played 46 times in all competitions; The Celeste won 30 of those games (10E 6D).
  • Uruguay had not won by a 4+ goal difference in Copa América since 1967 against Venezuela (also 4-0).
  • Uruguay scored three goals in the first half of a Copa América match for the first time in 60 years; the last time they scored three goals in the half was against Argentina (5-0) in 1959.
  • Nicolas Lodeiro scored Uruguay’s 400th goal in CONMEBOL Copa América, a feat only surpassed by Argentina (455) and Brazil (408). It was his first personal goal in Copa América, and the fifth in total with Uruguay’s national team.
  • Edinson Cavani, from Uruguay, scored his first goal in Copa América in his 11th game; he did it with his seventh goal in the competition.
Breaking News Slider Soccer Top news

Who will win the Africa Cup of Nations?

The 32nd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations kicks off on June 21st and many of the world’s top players will be hoping that they can guide their country to success.

Three-time winners Nigeria will be in with a shout, whilst Senegal will be looking to claim their first ever AFCON title. However, there are some more likely candidates to claim the trophy.

Hosts Egypt are the favorites but Cameroon will be looking to defend their crown. Ghana, Ivory Coast and Morocco all have very strong squads.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the tournament favorites.

Egypt

Egypt are the most successful team in the history of the competition and come into the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations as favorites. They have won the tournament seven times and will be hoping that they can add to their tally with another triumph this year.

In Mohamed Salah, they possess one of the world’s finest players. He helped Liverpool to win the Champions League last season and has been scoring goals for fun since his move to Anfield. Arsenal’s Mohamed Elneny is another high-profile name in the Egyptian ranks.

Egypt won four a drew one of their five qualification matches last year. Their good form coupled with their home advantage makes them favorites to lift the trophy next month.

Ghana

The Black Stars have won the Africa Cup of Nations four times but their last triumph came all the way back in 1982. They have fallen short in recent times and will be looking to bounce back as they boast a strong squad this time around.

Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Partey is perhaps their most elite player. The combative defensive midfielder is considered to be one of the best in the world in his position. Brothers Jordan and Andre Ayew and veteran striker Asamoah Gyan will also be players to keep an eye on.

Ghana will be desperate to put their recent poor tournament performances behind them and mount a serious challenge for the trophy this year.

Ivory Coast

The Elephants have won the competition twice; first in 1992 and then more recently in 2015. Whilst the days of their ‘golden generation’ may have passed, they still have one of the strongest squads of all the African countries.

Premier League stars Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) and Serge Aurier (Tottenham Hotspur) are two of the continent’s top players and winger Nicolas Pepe is in dazzling form after a terrific season with French club Lille.

The Ivory Coast are unbeaten in their last ten matches and will be eager to continue on from their impressive run of results at this year’s tournament.

Morocco

Morocco’s only Africa Cup on Nations title came in 1976. They haven’t had much to shout about since then but they have been a country on the rise for some time now.

20-year-old Achraf Hakimi is one the Africa’s hottest prospects and has just spent a successful season on loan at Borussia Dortmund from Real Madrid. Exciting forwards Hakim Ziyech and Sofiane Boufal are both capable of magic and can singlehandedly change a game.

Morocco had a disappointing 2018 World Cup; finishing bottom of their group. They have seemingly bounced back since then and went unbeaten throughout the 2018 AFCON qualifying games. If they continue with similar performances in this tournament, they could go all the way.

Cameroon

Although Cameroon don’t have the quality of some of the other teams in the competition, they are the reigning tournament champions and should not be disregarded.

The Indomitable Lions’ goalkeeper Andre Onana has just enjoyed a brilliant season with Ajax. He helped his club to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League and will be full of confidence coming into the tournament.

The five-time Africa Cup of Nations winners have a tough group which will see them come up against Ghana in their second match. Despite their difficult start, you’d be foolish to bet against Cameroon winning the tournament again.

Breaking News Slider Soccer Top news

Tottenham 0 Liverpool 2: Salah on the spot as Reds seal Champions League glory

Mohamed Salah put last season’s final heartbreak behind him by setting up a 2-0 win over Tottenham in Madrid and a sixth Champions League triumph for Liverpool.

Egypt star Salah was infamously injured in a challenge with Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos before the Reds subsided to a 3-1 defeat in Kiev 12 months ago but grabbed the opener in a largely forgettable contest at the Wanda Metropolitano.

The Premier League Golden Boot winner dispatched a second-minute penalty after Moussa Sissoko was penalised for handball.

Liverpool and their Premier League counterparts played in fits and starts thereafter, with Spurs enjoying their most consistent spell of pressure before substitute Divock Origi added to his semi-final brace against Barcelona by drilling clinically into the bottom-right corner three minutes from time.

After a moment’s appreciation was observed for the late Jose Antonio Reyes the game began in dramatic fashion.

Sissoko errantly brought his arm away from his body and, under the current interpretations of the handball rule, was always likely to be punished once struck by Sadio Mane’s chipped cross.

Salah emphatically drilled the spot kick past Hugo Lloris.

Trent Alexander-Arnold sent a low drive whistling wide in the 18th minute and the Liverpool defender made a vital intervention as Son Heung-min threatened to go through on goal shortly afterwards.

Lloris tipped over from the Reds’ other full-back, Andy Robertson, as a scrappy first-half yielded no further goals.

Alexander-Arnold intervened to thwart Son once more after the break, with Klopp’s decision to send on Origi and James Milner suggesting a focus upon containment.

But Milner almost gave the Reds breathing space when he drove narrowly wide from 18 yards in the 69th minute.

Spurs’ semi-final hero Lucas Moura scuffed a shot too close to fellow Brazilian Alisson, who did well to repel Christian Eriksen’s rasping free-kick.

It fell to Origi to make sure for Liverpool and he made no mistake with a sweetly struck left-footed effort after Tottenham failed to clear a corner and Joel Matip nudged the ball into his path.

What does it mean? Liverpool cap historic season by ending Klopp’s final woes

After six consecutive losses in major finals, Jurgen Klopp has his hands on silverware once more. Although this was not the contest to set pulses racing that many expected, few will begrudge the affable German and his fabulous team this success after a 97-point haul was not enough for Premier League glory.

The scale of Mauricio Pochettino’s achievement in getting Tottenham to this showpiece should be similarly appreciated, although attention will now turn towards his future after some mixed messages from the Argentine in that regard.

Record-breaking Alexander-Arnold displays poise of a veteran

The 20-year-old England right-back became the youngest player to start consecutive Champions League finals.

Although there was nothing as eye-catching as the quick-thinking corner that helped to down Barcelona, Alexander-Arnold snuffed out two of Tottenham’s most dangerous moments with exemplary defending and was a persistent threat when he raided forward.

Ailing Alli falls short as Spurs’ frontline fail to fire

Tottenham steadied themselves impressively after a nightmare start but their much-vaunted attacking quartet failed to build upon that foundation.

Son’s touch was frequently loose and a lack of ammunition from Eriksen meant questions over Harry Kane’s match sharpness never received a clear answer either way. Dele Alli, so impressive in the quarter-final and semi-final triumphs was the worst of an underwhelming bunch – a tame 73rd-minute chip into Alisson’s palms and subsequently misjudged header from Kieran Trippier’s cross encapsulating his performance.

Key Opta Facts:

– Liverpool have won their sixth Champions League/European Cup trophy – twice as many as any other English team has won (Man Utd, three).
– Jurgen Klopp is the fourth Liverpool manager to win the Champions League/European Cup, after Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan and Rafael Benitez.
– Klopp is the fifth German boss to win the Champions League/European Cup, after Dettmar Cramer, Jupp Heynckes, Ottmar Hitzfeld and Udo Lattek but he is only the second German to win the trophy with a non-German side (also Heynckes, with Real Madrid).
– Mauricio Pochettino has lost both of his major finals as Tottenham boss, also losing the EFL Cup final versus Chelsea in 2015.
– Tottenham appeared in their first ever European Cup/Champions League final, becoming the eighth different English side to do so. Indeed, the last six first-time finalists have ended up on the losing side (Spurs 2019, Chelsea 2008, Arsenal 2006, Monaco 2004, Bayer Leverkusen 2002 and Valencia 2000).
– Mohamed Salah’s opener for Liverpool was the second fastest goal in a Champions League final, only behind Paolo Maldini (00:50) for AC Milan versus Liverpool in 2005.

What’s next

A well-earned rest will have to wait for the 10 Liverpool and Spurs players who have Nations League Finals commitments in Portugal next week. Jurgen Klopp’s men will contend the Community Shield against treble-winners Manchester City at Wembley in August.

Breaking News Slider Soccer Top news

Bayern Munich 3 RB Leipzig 0: Lewandowski´s brace helps secure domestic double

Lewandowski’s double and a thumping finish from Kingsley Coman ensured Bayern Munich beat RB Leipzig 3-0 to win the DFB-Pokal and complete a domestic double in Niko Kovac’s first season.

Having secured a seventh straight Bundesliga title last time out, Bayern went ahead against a resilient Leipzig – featuring in their first ever major final – thanks to Lewandowski’s wonderful 29th-minute header.

Things would have been different if not for Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who on his return from injury pulled off a pair of fantastic stops to deny Yussuf Poulsen and Emil Forsberg.

Thiago Alcantara passed up a golden chance to extend the lead, but his miss mattered little as Coman made sure of Bayern’s first domestic double in three years before Lewandowski’s delicate chip rounded off a fine day for Kovac’s side.

ALL SPORTS Breaking News Slider Soccer Top news

Neymar should not captain Brazil at Copa America – Edmilson

Neymar should not be Brazil’s captain for the Copa America as other players have more leadership experience, according to Edmilson.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward has had another injury-hit campaign but has returned to fitness in time for this year’s tournament.

Neymar appeared to be affected by the burden of expectation on his shoulders when playing for Brazil at the World Cup last year.

And PSG coach Thomas Tuchel has ruled out making Neymar captain of his club, preferring to keep faith with compatriots Thiago Silva and Marquinhos.

Brazil start their Copa America campaign with group games against Bolivia, Venezuela and Peru, and Edmilson has told coach Tite to look elsewhere for his captain.

“It’s a squad list where there are people with experience and who were already captains,” the former Barcelona and Brazil defender told reporters.

“In my opinion, this is not the ideal time to deliver the armband to Neymar, but the final decision is with Tite.

View image on Twitter

“The list has once again been the subject of debate, the diversity of players is good and we have several alternatives in each position.

“It is clear that Tite feels the pressure of having to win this Copa America at home, these have been chosen by the coach to get the title.”

Tite left out Real Madrid duo Marcelo and Vinicius Junior for his Copa America squad, with Porto full-back Alex Telles another notable absentee.

Brazil face Qatar and Honduras in pre-tournament friendlies before getting the tournament underway on June 14.

Breaking News Slider Soccer Top news

Can Rangers defeat their Old Firm rivals Celtic in final derby of the season?

Steven Gerrard’s Rangers host Old Firm Derby rivals Celtic in the penultimate game of the Scottish Premiership season.

The Glasgow clubs sit first and second in the Premiership table with Celtic having already wrapped up another league title. Rangers, who are nine points back with two games to go, can put a damper on Celtic’s title parade with a win at Ibrox.

Rangers have looked more like the club of old this season and expectations should be high going into next term. Gerrard will want to build momentum on Sunday when Celtic make the journey to the blue side of Glasgow.

The Old Firm rivals have meet three times this season with Celtic winning both games at home. Rangers did pull off a 1-0 victory at Ibrox when the teams met in late December. Ryan Jack’s first half goal held up giving Rangers their first win over Celtic in 15 games in all competitions.

Neil Lennon’s Celtic have won two games on the bounce. They defeated Kilmarnock 1-0 before thrashing Aberdeen 3-0 int their most recent Premiership fixture.

Rangers have been on a roll as well. Gerrard has watched his team win five straight matches by a combined score of 12-1. Four of the five matches ended in clean sheets for Rangers.

In 11 of the last 19 matches between Rangers and Celtic, only one team has scored in the game. Clean sheets have been a common occurrence in recent Old Firm Derbies. Two of the three derbies this season have seen just one team score.

Gerrard has confirmed three first-team players will miss out on Sunday’s game. Kyle Lafferty, Lee Wallace, and Eros Grezda are all set to miss the fixture. In addition, the previously injured Gareth McAuley will also sit out the derby.

Lennon is set to be without Kieran Tierney, Ryan Christie, and Dedryck Boyata. All three have been long-term absentees.

The hatred runs deep between Rangers, Celtic, and both sets of supporters. The bad blood means Rangers will not give Celtic the traditional guard of honour prior to the game.

Glasgow police claim doing so would add even more fuel to the fire of hate between the clubs’ fans.

Rangers’ clean sheet home win against Celtic earlier this season will be the blue print for the game. Gerrard will set his team out to win and to show Celtic what is to come next term.

Like their last game at Ibrox, there will be under 2.5 goals scored as Rangers pick up a victory to even the season series against Celtic at two games apiece.