On This Day in Football History – 2 June: Battle of Santiago, Chelsea Appoint Mourinho & More

Jose Mourinho, Peter Kenyon
Chelsea/Jose Mourinho Press Conference | Ben Radford/Getty Images

Usually on 2 June, the footballing world is getting ready to watch a major international tournament or one side is joyous after a European triumph.

2020 may be a very frustrating anomaly, but at least a return to some sort of footballing normality is on the horizon.

However, just because there is nothing happening this year on this day does not mean the past has been equally as boring. This day in history has seen a multitude of events, ranging from birthdays, managerial appointments and even World Cup clashes – in one case a literal clash.

Here’s a look then at what 2 June has had to offer in the footballing past…

Mario David, Ken AstonMario David, Ken Aston
Battle of Santiago | Keystone/Getty Images

If you think Howard Webb had a tough game to officiate in the 2010 World Cup final, maybe have a look at fellow English referee Ken Aston’s predicament at the 1962 edition in Chile.

The group stage game between Chile and Italy had become about more than football after Italian journalists wrote discriminatory remarks regarding the host country’s capital, Santiago.

The media feud carried on onto the pitch, with the first foul taking place just 12 seconds into the game, before the first sending off on eight minutes – with Italy’s Giorgio Ferrini having to be dragged off by policemen.

Then BBC commentator David Coleman summed up this ‘match’ beautifully (quotes via the Guardian) by saying: “The game you are about to see is the most stupid, appalling, disgusting and disgraceful exhibition of football in the history of the game. This is the first time these countries have met; we hope it will be the last.”

Such was the brutality of this game, it inspired Aston to create the yellow and red card system.

If ever a man embodied a football club it would be Santiago Bernabeu.

The Real Madrid icon began as a player at the club, before becoming the club’s president in 1943. Not only did he oversee the signing of the also legendary Alfredo Di Stefano, but we also have him to thank for helping create the European Cup.

Such was legacy in the Spanish capital, the side’s stadium was named after him in 1957.

Gary Lineker during his Barcelona days.Gary Lineker during his Barcelona days.
Gary Lineker during his Barcelona days. | Getty Images/Getty Images

While the 1970s and 80s saw a boom for English sides in Europe – with the likes of Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest and Liverpool all winning European cups – it also spelled the end for England’s continental dominance.

As a result of the 1985 Heysel disaster involving Liverpool and Juventus- where 39 fans sadly lost their lives – English sides were banned indefinitely from European competitions.

With the dream of lifting the European Cup taken away from England’s club sides, many of the nation’s most talented sought the exit door – i.e Gary Lineker – while Howard Kendall and Everton were deprived a chance of building on their domestic glory.

The ban lasted until 1991.

The Argentinian forward has become one of Europe’s most feared strikers, with his remarkable 254 goals for current club Manchester City testament to that.

The scorer of the Premier League’s most iconic goal is still a prolific force as the focal point of Pep Guardiola’s attack and seems to be getting better with age.

Freddy Adu (centre) after signing for DC United.Freddy Adu (centre) after signing for DC United.
Freddy Adu (centre) after signing for DC United. | STAN HONDA/Getty Images

Ah, Freddy Adu, from Football Manager wonderkid, to well, nothing.

The now 31-year-old American was signed as a 14-year-old to MLS side D.C. United, and even had trials at Manchester United in 2006.

However, as with most of football’s ‘next big things”, it was too much too soon for Adu, and he quickly fell to obscurity after failed spells in Europe.

He last played for Las Vegas Lights in 2018.

England at the 2002 World Cup.England at the 2002 World Cup.
England at the 2002 World Cup. | PEDRO UGARTE/Getty Images

The Three Lions kicked off their 2002 World Cup campaign with an unsurprisingly unconvincing draw with Sweden, before bowing out in the quarter-final to Ronaldinho and Brazil.

The game itself was relatively unremarkable, as a Henrik Larsson inspired side dominated the much-fancied England – with the Scandinavian nation unlucky to draw in truth.

Sol Campbell had opened the scoring with a header, before Niclas Alexandersson equalised following an error from everyone’s favourite pundit, Danny Mills.

Jose MourinhoJose Mourinho
Chelsea/Jose Mourinho Press Conference | Ben Radford/Getty Images

The self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ José Mourinho arrived at Stamford Bridge fresh off the back of leading Porto to an unlikely Champions League victory.

Mourinho’s men had turned over Manchester United en route to the final, with the Portuguese manager seemingly impressing those in the Blues’ boardroom.

Backed by Roman Abramovich and his never ending pot of money, Mourinho and Chelsea dominated English football – winning back-to-back Premier League titles in 2004/05 and 2005/06. He’d depart in September 2007, before returning to win a third title with the club in 2014/2015.

Sticking with Chelsea and current head coach Frank Lampard, who announced he was going to leave the club as a player in 2014 after 13 years of service.

While many believed he was off to end his career away from English football, he ended up at rivals Manchester City the following season, scoring against the Blues in a 1-1 draw.

However, this ‘betrayal’ didn’t seem to affect his stock with the Chelsea faithful – and he’s a very popular figure with the club’s fans after succeeding Maurizio Sarri in the dugout.

Vladimir Putin, Joseph S. BlatterVladimir Putin, Joseph S. Blatter
Sepp Blatter resigned under a cloud of controversy. | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

The now disgraced Sepp Blatter had just been elected as FIFA president for the fifth time, defeating Prince Ali bin Hussein.

However, just four days later, he resigned following allegations of corruption. Blatter was later handed a six-year ban from all FIFA activities.

Probably best to stay away after that expires, eh Sepp?

A year ago today Liverpool were continuing their celebrations following their Champions League triumph over fellow Tottenham Hotspur.

The Reds had put to bed the ghost of 2018, where Loris Karius’ hands had gifted the Champions League trophy to Real Madrid for the third in a row. While the 2019 final may not have been as eventful – it really was pretty dire – the ensuing parade was breathtaking, as 750,000 fans lined the streets of Liverpool to cheer on their club.

Jurgen Klopp’s men will be hoping to be parading a Premier League trophy soon – even if it is in front of an empty stadium.

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Lisbon the Favourite to Host Summer Champions League Conclusion

Official UEFA Champions League Matchball
Official UEFA Champions League Matchball | Visionhaus/Getty Images

The 2020 Champions League final could be played in Lisbon at Benfica’s Estadio da Luz, rather than Istanbul where the game was originally scheduled to go ahead before the coronavirus crisis sent world football into a spiral of uncertainty.

Both the Champions League and Europa League are expected to resume some time in August when various domestic leagues across the continent have been concluded.

SL Benfica v RB Leipzig: Group G - UEFA Champions LeagueSL Benfica v RB Leipzig: Group G - UEFA Champions League
Estadio da Luz – Lisbon | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Mundo Deportivo (MD) writes that UEFA are not expected to make any formal announcement before 17 June, but claims Istanbul will soon relinquish the Champions League final over economic concerns over having to play the game in a closed stadium.

The final could be moved to Lisbon, along with the remainder of the competition that would see the quarter-finals and semi-finals all played in the Portuguese capital. In that scenario, Sporting CP’s Jose Alvalade stadium could also be brought in as an additional venue.

Munich and Madrid are also said to be ‘on the table’, although it appears Lisbon is favourite.

Portugal has coped relatively well with the coronavirus crisis compared to some of its larger neighbours and in April was referred to as ‘Europe’s coronavirus exception’.

Portugal Impacted By CoronavirusPortugal Impacted By Coronavirus
Lisbon street during coronavirus crisis | Pedro Gomes/Getty Images

MD notes that given the inability for clubs to sell tickets and ongoing uncertainty surrounding international air travel, the normally two-legged quarters and semis could be played as a single one-off knockout game over a period of a week or 10 days.

There is still lots of uncertainty, but there are some calls to bring the proposed but unconfirmed Champions League final date forward a week from 29 August to 22 August. There are, however, potential clashes to consider with the Europa League.

The Women’s Champions League final is still expected to go ahead in Vienna, although as with the men’s competition the remaining rounds could all now be played in the Austrian capital.

For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!

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Real Madrid President Confirms Los Blancos Will Not Return to Santiago Bernabéu for Remainder of Season

Santiago Bernabeu
Santiago Bernabeu | Alex Livesey – Danehouse/Getty Images

Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez has confirmed that the team will not play their remaining fixtures at the Santiago Bernabéu once La Liga returns.

Los Blancos still have six home games left to play in the league, including their meeting with Eibar on 14 June, while they could have additional fixtures in the Champions League if the competition resumes and they can overturn a 2-1 loss to Manchester City.

Zinedine ZidaneZinedine Zidane
Zinedine Zidane | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

The Bernabéu is currently being renovated and was initially scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2022, but now that all games will be played behind closed doors, Pérez confirmed in a letter to club members (via The Mirror) that they will take advantage of the situation and get some work done ahead of schedule.

“We have made the decision to play all the games in which we will play as the home team in the Alfredo Di Stéfano stadium in our Ciudad Real Madrid,” Pérez wrote. “This decision will allow us to advance in the works of the Santiago Bernabéu stadium.”

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The €575m renovation will include the installation of a retractable roof and the use of a removable pitch to allow concerts and other events to be held inside the stadium.

Real’s meeting with Eibar will be their first opportunity to close the gap on leaders Barcelona. Quique Setién’s side currently hold a two-point lead at the top of the table, and Real winger Lucas Vázquez told Real Madrid TV that his side are targeting an unbeaten end to the campaign to topple their rivals.

Lucas VazquezLucas Vazquez
Lucas Vazquez | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

“It’s what we all like, training sessions in which we can all enjoy the football together,” he began. “We’re training to try and get into our stride for the start of the season. 

“Football is made up of several factors, such as the physical side, which is very important, and the mental side. That combination of the two means that we can go into the league in good shape. Eibar is the starting point for the 11 finals we have left and hopefully we can record wins in every game until the end and win the La Liga title.”

For more from ​Tom Gott, follow him on ​Twitter!

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Why Casemiro Is Real Madrid’s Most Important Player in the Post-Galacticos Era

Casemiro
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

If the widely successful Galácticos 2.0 era ended the moment Cristiano Ronaldo departed in 2018 post Champions League win in Kiev, what will Real Madrid fans remember this current team for?

Of course, the majority of players still remain from that victorious side, and some will continue to play a major role for Los Blancos going forward.

Raphaël Varane is remarkably just 27 years old and will likely play out the next five to seven years at the Santiago Bernabéu. Similarly, Thibaut Courtois should be in Madrid for the long-term, and club officials would be silly to let the recently signed Eden Hazard go in a hurry.

And there’s plenty of younger players who could establish themselves as regulars in the famous white colours for a long time. Vinícius Júnior and Rodrygo have shown flashes of the attacking stars they could become, while loaned-out duo Achraf Hakimi and Martin Ødegaard have been sensational at Borussia Dortmund and Real Sociedad respectively this season. You’ve also got the injured Marco Asensio to return, who looked primed for a bigger role before he tore his ACL in July 2019.

Yet the issue that remains is the looming decline of their world-class midfield duo, who may be headed for a major drop off in their physical abilities on the pitch. A few seconds slower in their sprint perhaps, or becoming less able to withstand an aggressive press from the opposition.

Make no mistake, Toni Kroos and Luka Modrić have both been fantastic servants for Real Madrid. They have run the engine room together for so long and have been excellent in continuing to create the openings for their attacking teammates to feast off. But there have been times this season where they have not looked up to speed against younger and more athletic opposing midfielders.

There’s certainly no need to part ways with them now, but the club will need to plan on how to implement the necessary changes needed to keep up with the best teams in the world. You only need to look at Liverpool, Bayern Munich and even rivals Barcelona – all three have put together midfield combinations designed to transition from defence to attack quickly, while also being able to sustain a high energy pressing game throughout the 90 minutes.

Granted, the club do have young players waiting in the wings. Federico Valverde has certainly been a revelation for Zinedine Zidane’s side, and his physicality gives him a great platform to improve his game on a technical level. Loaned-out youngster Ødegaard has also shown exactly why Los Blancos were keen to acquire him all those years ago with his impressive performances this season.

There’s also the rumoured arrival of 17-year-old whizzkid Eduardo Camavinga from Stade Rennes that could happen this summer, and of course you can expect Zidane to lavish praise on his countrymen Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kanté in the off-season, as a way of wooing them over to Spain.

The transition in midfield seems inevitable. But there’s one man who won’t be going anywhere – Casemiro.

Leading all other La Liga players in the number of tackles and interceptions made, the 28-year-old remains indispensable for his side in stopping any other attacking midfielder from pulling the strings and affecting the game.

His ability to win back the ball is huge for the capital club in spearheading any counter-attacks. But he won’t stop and admire the defensive work he’s done – the Brazilian has the capacity to charge up the field and drive forward his team from his deep position, pining the opposition back into their own half and effectively breaking the press that had previously nullified his team.

Rodri, CasemiroRodri, Casemiro
Casemiro is able to break an opposing press thanks to his ability to drive his team forward | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

Being able to play in that withdrawn role means he’s also developed his ability to read the game even further, and the midfielder’s intelligence in positioning himself just where he needs to be to halt any pacey attacking threats has got better with every season that he’s played.

And as his brace against Sevilla earlier in the season showed, he’s capable of getting a crucial goal or two, at times when his team need him the most.

In the current era where intense pressing and high-octane counter-attacking football is seen as the most successful style of football, Casemiro’s presence is essential for Los Blancos’ chances of continuing to reign supreme over the best teams in the world.

Whichever direction Real take next season, the Brazilian shapes up as an crucial figure for Zidane. With Kroos and Modrić, he’ll likely be asked to evolve his game and like Kanté, take on a more advanced role in linking defence and attack.

But if it’s decided for him to play with his younger teammates in Valverde and Ødegaard, then he’ll likely continue the ball-winning role he’s excelled at. The interesting thing here is what role would he play if he’s paired with Camavinga – does he take on a hybrid role and become a more complete midfielder? Who knows if we’ll see it happen.

Nevertheless, in whatever Real Madrid team that ends up being formed next season – Casemiro will remain the key. A defensive midfielder leading the post-Galácticos era? Who would have thought that.

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La Liga Confirm Fixture Schedule for 1st Matchday & Plan to Fill Stadiums With Fan Noise

La Liga Home Shirts 2019-20
La Liga Home Shirts 2019-20 | Visionhaus/Getty Images

La Liga have confirmed the schedule for the first round of fixtures of the league’s restart, with Sevilla’s meeting with Real Betis set to get the ball rolling on 11 June.

Clubs in the division have been permitted to return to full training now after two weeks of close-contact practice, and league officials are gearing up for a full return to competitive action in the coming weeks.

Speaking to Movistar (via the league’s official website) confirmed that matches will be played on every day of the week, with the first gameweek to be played between 11-14 June.

The Seville derby will get things underway on Thursday evening and another two fixtures will be played on the Friday, before the vast majority of action is held over the weekend. Barcelona will be in action on Saturday evening when they travel to face Mallorca, while both Madrid sides will play on Sunday.

Atlético Madrid will face Athletic Club on Sunday afternoon, with Real Madrid’s clash with Eibar set to kick-start the action later that evening.

Zinedine ZidaneZinedine Zidane
Real Betis Sevilla v Real Madrid – La Liga Santander | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

The time slots for the games are liable to change depending on the weather. More than one midday game could be played at the weekend if it is safe to do so, and matches in the north of Spain could be moved into earlier time slots as the temperature is normally lower there.

On top of confirming the schedule, Tebas also revealed plans for Aplauso Infinito, which will allow fans from all over the world to record their applause to be played during matches in empty stadiums, in an attempt to liven up the atmosphere.

In the 20th minute of every game, this applause will be played over the speakers at every stadium to make it feel like fans are still inside the stadiums.

“The fans complete football from the stands and now that they cannot be there, due to reasons of force majeure, we have created this initiative, to make them participate in the return of the competition as much as possible and so that they can transfer their support to the heroes of COVID-19,” Tebas said.

“We want them to feel close to their clubs, even if they cannot be in the stadiums cheering at the moment. And, in this way, the players also feel the support of their fans.”

For more from ​Tom Gott, follow him on ​Twitter!

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Lille Owner Admits Truth to Victor Osimhen Rumours Amid Extensive Premier League Interest

Victor Osimhen
Lille OSC v Montpellier HSC – Ligue 1 | Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images

LOSC Lille owner Gerard Lopez has been playing it coy over star striker Victor Osimhen this weekend, admitting that there are ‘multiple offers’ on the table…but refusing to reveal who from.

Osimhen arrived at the French side last summer, and his record in front of goal has seen him pick up where Nicolas Pepe left off. He’s netted 13 goals in 27 Ligue 1 appearances, and garnered major interest in the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A.

Real Madrid were once thought to be leading the pack, but reports in May claimed that the player is keen on a move to England – reports which were followed up by some strange quotes from Osimhen’s agent about how he would only move to Tottenham if Harry Kane left.

In any case, Lopez doesn’t predict he will have a hard time generating interest in the prolific Nigerian, as he claims the club have already chased off offers from England and Spain.

“There are multiple offers,” he said, as quoted by the Mail. “We turned down one English and one Spanish offer this January transfer window.

“There is a wide array [this summer] and I wouldn’t want to give the names of the clubs who are bidding but what I can tell you is that there are multiple [offers]. There are three championships that have clubs that have bid for him.”

The manner in which Lopez is keeping his cards close to his chest might suggest he is bluffing – fictionalising interest in order to smoke out a potential bidder.

Gerard LopezGerard Lopez
Xavier Laine/Getty Images

He points to a similar situation with Pepe last summer, however, in which similar quotes from him were construed in that way, only for the club to go on and receive a club record €80m fee from Arsenal – leaving those sceptics with a little egg on their face.

A fee close to €70m has been mooted for Osimhen this time around, and Lopez reckons that is in the ballpark of reality.

“I am not being a sales guy because last year people didn’t believe that we had the offers we had with Nicolas Pepe and it turns out we had multiple of them,” he said.

“Let me tell you with Osimhen, it is the same thing, whatever number you heard, the high number I have read is very much on the money of the offers that we have received. That’s where we are.'”

For more from Robbie Copeland, follow him on Twitter!

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Eduardo Camavinga ‘Chooses’ Real Madrid as Rest of Europe Chase French Wonderkid

Eduardo Camavinga
Lille OSC v Stade Rennais – Ligue 1 | Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

So there is this young lad over with Rennes in France and he’s pretty good. So good, in fact, that everyone in Europe wants his signature. That good.

Not is he only some of the hottest property in Ligue 1, he’s one of the most sought-after signatures in football today.

Making seven outings in what is now the season before last for his side – with his debut coming aged just 16 years and four months – it’s been the 2019/20 campaign where clubs have been taking notice. Camavinga has been an ever-present in midfield, helping Les Rennais secure a third-place finish in the top flight this season.

His remarkable rise to stardom has seen Serie A, Premier League and La Liga sides linked relentlessly to signing him but, as per AS, it appears Real Madrid have the upper hand.

This is despite recent reports that Manchester United have joined the hunt, with one report going as far as to say the Premier League side had moved ahead of Madrid with their willingness to loan the Frenchman back to Rennes after securing his signature.

However, Camavinga has supposedly ‘chosen’ Los Blancos as his next suitors as he ‘loves Zinedine Zidane and Madrid’. His desire to join the side when his French adventure finishes by no means constitutes an imminent sale, however.

FBL-FRA-LIGUE1-RENNES-AMIENSFBL-FRA-LIGUE1-RENNES-AMIENS
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/Getty Images

Madrid would need to lighten their wage bill with departures for the likes of James Rodriguez, Gareth Bale, Mariano Diaz or Alvaro Odriozola, and even then they would need to fork out the speculated €50m transfer fee as well.

Equally, Rennes owner François Pinault (rather unsurprisingly) has made it clear he doesn’t want to sell the teenage sensation, as he would prefer to use his talents when the club embark on their Champions League run next season.

One thing that has moved in Madrid’s favour is Camavinga being granted French nationality. Originally from Angola, he obtained his citizenship last November which would mean it does not not impact Madrid’s non-EU quota. This is important as they already boast a number of players from outside the continent.

For more from Ross Kennerley, follow him on Twitter!

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David Alaba Offers Update on Bayern Munich Future Amid Summer Exit Talk

German DFB Pokal"FC Schalke 04 v Bayern Munchen"
ANP Sport/Getty Images

David Alaba has hinted that there could be progress on a potential Bayern Munich contract extension in the ‘coming weeks’.

Despite having been with the club since 2008, Alaba has frequently been linked with a move away from Bavaria over the past few seasons, with top sides across Europe keen admirers of his versatility and consistency.

An example of that has been his recent usage in central defence this season, a position he’s in played before but not most regularly. Yet, as ever, he’s taken to it like a duck to water. Thus, being one of the most complete footballers on the continent naturally draws attention, but it appears as if an extended Bayern stay could be on the cards.

Links to the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Chelsea have emerged over recent weeks, and a source told 90min that Die Roten were even considering using Alaba as part of a swap deal to secure long-term target Leroy Sane.

Alaba has since brushed off speculation surrounding his future, although on the topic of remaining in Bavaria he revealed that there could be movement on an extension over the next few weeks.

“Look, I try to focus on the essentials, on the games,” Alaba told Sky Austria. “It is very good for me. That is where my focus is entirely.

“We have no deadline. We will see in the coming weeks what will happen next. At the moment, everything is calm.”

David AlabaDavid Alaba
DeFodi Images/Getty Images

With just one year left on his current deal causing ears to prick up, the calmness of Alaba over the situation would indicate he’s comfortable with his future, despite some of the biggest sides in Europe hovering over his position.

There were some concerns that Alphonso Davies’ remarkable rise to the first team would scupper Alaba’s chances of regular football, but given he’s moved into central defence recently, those fears have been quelled.

For more from Ross Kennerley, follow him on Twitter!

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Harvey Elliott Reveals Brutal Real Madrid Snub Prior to Liverpool Transfer

Harvey Elliott
Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images

Harvey Elliott has revealed he turned down the opportunity to meet Sergio Ramos last summer due to the Real Madrid captain’s controversial clash with Mohamed Salah in the 2018 Champions League final.

The forward burst onto the scene in May 2019 by becoming the youngest ever debutant in Premier League history, when he came on as a substitute for Fulham aged only 16 years and 30 days old.

There was clear talent on show in west London, something that prompted a host of top clubs across Europe to scramble for his signature; Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal, among others, were all on the case, but La Liga giants Madrid were one of the frontrunners.

Showing the teenager around the Santiago Bernabéu and their training complex in a bid to convince him to sign, Madrid officials even offered to let Elliott meet their captain, Ramos. That proved to be a mistake, it seems, as Elliott – an avid Liverpool supporter – wasn’t best keen on the Spaniard’s tackle on Salah the year before, which injured the Egyptian and hindered Liverpool’s pursuit of European glory.

“No, it’s OK, thanks,” Elliott replied, via The Athletic. “I don’t like him after what he did to Mo Salah.”

That must have resulted in some shocked faces, but they should have expected it, since Elliott even traveled to Kiev with his father to watch that very final.

UEFA Champions League"Real Madrid v Liverpool FC"UEFA Champions League"Real Madrid v Liverpool FC"
UEFA Champions League”Real Madrid v Liverpool FC” | VI-Images/Getty Images

Instead, while he continued to ponder his options, it was a call made while on holiday that revealed Liverpool were interested in his services, one Elliott couldn’t believe was real.

“It took me by surprise, I didn’t think it was true at the time,” Elliott admitted.

To date he’s made 12 outings for the club, predominantly coming in cup competitions, although he did manage to make his Reds debut in the Premier League after coming on for – you got it – Salah during a home victory over Sheffield United in January.

For more from Ross Kennerley, follow him on Twitter!

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La Liga Returns: The Title Race, Champions League Battle, Relegation Fight & Big Games to Look Forward to

Lionel Messi
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

La Liga is poised to return on 11 June following a three month coronavirus enforced hiatus.

Fans of the Spanish first tier are to be treated to a bumper month of football, with remaining league fixtures played every day until the season concludes on 19 July.

Proceedings were finely poised at both ends of the table before the campaign ground to a halt in March, leaving plenty of loose ends to be tied up during the final 11 games of the season.

Let’s take a look at how things currently stand, the big games to look forward to, and how things could finish up in La Liga.

Lionel Messi, Toni KroosLionel Messi, Toni Kroos
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Barcelona lead Real Madrid by two points, with 11 games left to play. Real can finish the season with a maximum of 89 points if they win their remaining league matches. If this is the case, Barcelona too must take maximum points from their final fixtures to be certain of retaining their title.

Even if Real don’t drop a single point, Barcelona could potentially afford to draw one of their remaining league games and still win the title. This would leave the two sides tied on 89 points, and Barcelona currently have a better goal difference – although by a margin of just two goals.

Barcelona’s run-in is not simple. They still have to travel to third place Sevilla – who themselves are in with an outside chance of lifting the title, although this would involve them making up an 11 point gap over Barcelona in 11 games.

The defending La Liga champions also have the visit of Diego Simeone’s famously stubborn Atletico Madrid standing between them and the title.

Quique Setien, Zinedine ZidaneQuique Setien, Zinedine Zidane
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Real have some potential banana skins of their own to navigate. Zinedine Zidane’s side still have the tricky visit of Valencia to come – having rescued a 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture in December thanks to a 96th minute Karim Benzema equaliser.

Los Blancos also face a trip to fourth place Real Sociedad, another side who could still mathematically – although highly unlikely – win the title.

Neither Barcelona or Real have been at their best this season, with the pair both dropping points on multiple occasions, suggesting there are still plenty of twists left in this year’s title race.

The pair are both back in action on 13 June, with Real welcoming Eibar and Barcelona visiting Mallorca.

alvaro Morataalvaro Morata
DeFodi Images/Getty Images

The battle for Europe is just as tight as the title race, with third place Sevilla down to Valencia in seventh all realistically in with a shout of securing the final two Champions League spots.

Villarreal, Granada and Athletic Club could also sneak in, with the latter down in 10th but just nine points off Real Sociedad in fourth.

Sevilla sit on 47 points, and Sociedad and Getafe are a point behind in fourth and fifth. With an identical goal difference, Sociedad are currently keeping Getafe out of the Champions League places on goals scored.

Martin OdegaardMartin Odegaard
Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Atletico Madrid are in sixth spot on 45 points, currently missing out on Champions League football by a single point, while Valencia are a further three points behind in seventh.

The race for the Champions League will be fascinating, with all sides in contention still scheduled to play each other before the season’s climax. Sociedad still have a trip to Getafe, Atletico Madrid and Villarreal on their fixture list, as well as the visits of Seville and Granada.

Getafe’s first game back sees them play Granada, and they will also welcome Atletico Madrid before the season is out, while Valencia have encounters with Sevilla, Granada, Villarreal and Athletic Club in the pipeline.

Dani RodriguezDani Rodriguez
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

It’s very much squeaky bum time in the lower echelons of La Liga, with just nine points separating Mallorca in the final relegation spot, and Osasuna in 11th.

Espanyol are slightly cut adrift at the league basement, six points from safety. Leganes sit second from bottom, just three points off 17th spot Celta Vigo.

Celta Vigo are a point clear of Mallorca in the drop zone, while Eibar and Real Valladolid are still very much in danger, sitting a respective two and three points clear of the drop zone.

Iago AspasIago Aspas
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Alaves, Levante, Real Betis and Osasuna have all got a little bit of daylight between themselves and the bottom three, but could easily get dragged into a relegation dog fight if they don’t hit the ground running.

Mallorca have a very tasty fixture list, with matches against Real Madrid, Barcelona, Seville and Atletico Madrid still to come, in addition to relegation six pointers against Celta Vigo and Leganes.

Leganes themselves have got meetings with fellow strugglers Eibar and Valladolid ahead of them, leaving plenty of opportunity for movement in the relegation zone before the curtain comes down on the season.

Let’