Giorgio Chiellini Names World’s Best Defender & Calls Atletico Madrid ‘More Italian Than Spanish’

​Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini has claimed that Atletico Madrid are ‘more Italian than Spanish’ ahead of the meeting between the two clubs in the Champions League round of 16. 

Famed for their miserly defence under manager Diego Simeone, Los Rojiblancos currently have the best defensive record in La Liga this season, conceding just 17 goals – only two more than current Serie A leaders Juve have conceded domestically. 

Speaking ahead of their first-leg meeting at the Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday, the 34-year-old centre back praised that Atletico Madrid’s pragmatism, a quality synonymous with Italian football. 

“I think Atletico Madrid are more Italian than Spanish,” the veteran centre-back told ​Marca.

“In terms of mentality and approach to games, they’re closer to our football. Simeone is ready to line up four midfielders to stop Juventus: Rodrigo, Thomas, Saul and Koke. I hope to return to this stadium for the final on June 1.”

Chiellini is aiming to win his first Champions League final with ​Juventus, having lost his previous two finals in 2015 and 2017 to Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively. However, with the addition of ​Cristiano Ronaldo over the summer, are considered one of the favourites to lift to trophy in the Spanish capital.

As well as the upcoming Champions League tie against Atletico Madrid, Chiellini was also asked if he believed he was the best central defender in the world at present, although the Italian named one of Ronaldo’s former teammates instead. 

Asked the question, Chiellini replied: “No, Atletico have one of them in Diego Godin. When he’s not there, Atletico change. He knows what distances to keep and I think he is the soul of Atletico and I know his renewal situation is complicated.”

Sergio Ramos

Later in the interview, he added: “I said it last year, but now he [Sergio Ramos] even takes penalties, he is the best defender in the world. He hardly ever makes a mistake and if he does it’s because other things went wrong.

​”He’s a leader on and off the pitch and is one of those players that can influence both teams. He makes others play and that’s the difference between a good player and a champion. Sergio is the best.”

Let’

Leonardo Bonucci Reveals He Rejected Real Madrid to Return ‘Home’ to Juventus

Juventus centre back Leonardo Bonucci has revealed that he rejected the chance to join reigning European champions Real Madrid when he opted to leave AC Milan last summer, instead re-signing for I Bianconeri just 13 months after leaving.

Bonucci surprisingly left Juve in 2017 after a spat with coach Massimiliano Allegri. But after failing to reach his former level with his new club, the Italian international made his way back to Turin after only one season in a swap deal with Mattia Caldara valued at €35m.

FBL-ITA-SERIEA-CHIEVO-JUVENTUS

He could have joined Real Madrid at that point, but the 31-year-old has revealed to Spanish outlet AS that his desire to feel ‘at home’ once more after being away from his family, who had remained in Turin when he joined Milan, was a bigger pull.

“It is truth: Madrid looked at me,” Bonucci explained.

“It has been a pride and a pleasure to be on their radar, it means that I have worked well over the years. But the call of Juventus and the desire to return to feel at home made my heart decide that the Bianconeri colours suit me better,” he added.

Bonucci would have followed in the footsteps of Italy’s 2006 World Cup winning captain Fabio Cannavaro had he taken the plunge and accepted the call from the Bernabeu. But some things are bigger and more important than football.

Leonardo Bonucci

With his young son Matteo suffering from serious illness, something that even led the player to consider retirement in 2017, Bonucci found being away from his family hard.

“Last year I was almost always in Milan and my children never saw me. That reasons that pushed me to return [to Juventus],” he said.

Let’

Gareth Bale Rejects Offers From Manchester United & Chelsea in Favour of Real Madrid Stay

Gareth Bale has reportedly rejected interest from Premier League giants Manchester United and Chelsea in favour of staying at Real Madrid.

The Wales international has come under fire in recent weeks following public criticism from several teammates including Marcelo and Thibaut Courtois, over his apparent unwillingness to embrace the Spanish lifestyle.

UEFA Champions League'Ajax v Real Madrid'

Despite reports suggesting that Bale was angling for a move away from the Santiago Bernabeu, ​The Times have now claimed that the 29-year-old has turned down offers from both ​Chelsea and ​Manchester United in order to continue plying his trade with Madrid.

The report adds that the Welshman, whose contract with Los Blancos runs until the summer of 2022, prefers to stay with Madrid over making a return to the ​Premier League.

​Bale has also been at the centre of controversy in the past week for an alleged gesture towards Atletico fans after celebrating his goal in Madrid’s 3-1 win over their derby rivals.

According to Spanish publication ​AS, La Liga have opened up a disciplinary case against the former Tottenham star in relation to the incident, with suggestions that he could face up to a 12-match ban for his actions. 

AS report that the move by La Liga has angered the reigning Champions League holders, with Santiago Solari’s side now waiting to find out for how long Bale could potentially be ruled out of action.

Let’

Marcelo Hits Back at Criticism From Real Madrid Fans After La Liga Defeat to Girona

Marcelo has fired back at criticism aimed at him from Real Madrid fans after Los Blancos’ shock defeat to Girona.

Santiago Solari’s side suffered an embarrassing loss at the weekend, as they were beaten 2-1 by the relegation battlers at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Karim Benzema,Toni Kroos

The slip up has left Madrid nine points behind arch-rivals Barcelona in the title race, after the Catalan giants picked up a comfortable home win over Real Valladolid.

Brazilian left-back ​Marcelo has come under fire in recent weeks for his performances amidst uncertainty over his long-term future at the club.

After another disappointing showing on Sunday evening, ​Real have now managed just one win in their last nine league matches with the Brazil international in the side.

With youngster Sergio Reguilon impressing in midweek, one fan compared recent results when the two left-backs have been in the side, leading Marcelo to sarcastically respond on ​Instagram: “it’s all my fault. We move on!”

Despite Solari insisting that the 30-year-old played well in his post-match press conference, rumours have intensified in recent weeks that Los Blancos manager could promote Reguilon to being his first choice at left-back.

Sergio Reguilon

Following​ Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure to ​Juventus last summer, Marcelo has also now been tipped to make the move to Turin at the end of the season, and potentially reunite with his former Real teammate

Let’

Neymar’s Father Speaks Out About Son’s Future as Real Madrid Renew Interest in Superstar

Real Madrid may find themselves disappointed in their pursuit of Brazilian superstar Neymar, after the player’s father declared during an interview that his son’s present and future are with current club Paris Saint-Germain.

Neymar Sr did not seem to fully rule out a transfer, however, dropping in the customary and rather ambiguous ‘[the future] can change at any time’ remark that is so common in this field.

Lebogang Phiri,Neymar Jr

A report from The Times on Sunday claimed that ‘Real Madrid have set their sights on Neymar this summer’, adding that he would receive a sizeable increase on his existing net annual salary, said to be at least €28.5m, should he quit France and move to the Spanish capital.

The story even alleges that Neymar, who would be remembered as a ‘traitor’ alongside Luis Figo at former club Barcelona if the move came to pass, has ‘encouraged’ the interest from Real.

Yet the public stance of the player’s camp appears to be one of loyalty to PSG.

Neymar Jr

In an interview released on the same day as The Times’ report, Neymar’s father told French outlet Telefoot that the €222m world record transfer superstar is ‘very happy in Paris’.

“The first year was a year of adaptation, a new experience,” Neymar Sr explained.

“He feels very happy in Paris. He is happy, and he is growing up with PSG. His future is in Paris, his present is in Paris. It’s hard to talk about the future because in football, it can change at any time.”

Neymar has generally been a success for PSG, scoring close to a goal per game for the perennial French champions. But the player is nursing a broken metatarsal for the second season in a row, threatening the club’s European success as the season enters its critical stages.

Let’

Santiago Solari Refuses to Rule Real Madrid Out of Title Race Despite Shock 2-1 Loss to Girona

​Real Madrid manager Santiago Solari has refused to rule his side out of the title race this season, after his side’s 2-1 home defeat to Girona saw them fall nine points behind Barcelona in the battle to win La Liga.

It was all going well for Los Blancos in the first half, as Casemiro gave his side an early lead as he powered home a header from Toni Kroos’ precision cross. However, Girona drew level midway through the second half courtesy of Cristhian Stuani’s ice-cool penalty. Portu then made it 2-1 as he capitalised on a Thibaut Courtois error and nodded in from close range.

Cristian Portugues ‘’Portu’’,Marcelo,Thibaut Courtois

​Los Blancos pushed hard for an equaliser, but saw captain Sergio Ramos sent off late on after picking up a second booking. Girona battened down the hatches, and secured a famous win at the Bernabéu.

Speaking after his side’s ​shock defeat, via Goal, Solari rubbished claims he’d look to focus on the cup competitions given his side’s struggles in ​La Liga, and said: “We have to get up quickly and keep going, all three competitions are still open for us. We came from a very hard journey (from facing Ajax in the Champions League), we paid for that effort. 

“We tried to overcome, to be fresher with the changes, but we did not achieve it. It is always a cliche to think about the one (Luka Modrić, who was suspended) who is not in (the team). We have to face what we are in. This is a squad with great players, it did not come out and that’s it. Football is a collective sport and the field is covered with all the players.

“Girona came out very well, very strong and they grew in the second half. We did not find the depth when we were dominated.”

[embedded content]

Real Madrid’s loss sees them remain third in the league table, two points behind ​Atlético Madrid in second and nine off league leaders ​Barcelona. Solari’s side will look to bounce back next weekend, when they take on mid-table side Levante. If Los Blancos are to stand any chance of winning La Liga this season, a win is an absolute must.

Let’

Thibaut Courtois Claims Real Madrid Teammate Gareth Bale Has Not Adapted to Spanish ‘Way of Life’

Thibaut Courtois has criticised his Real Madrid teammate Gareth Bale for not adapting to the Spanish way of life during his time with Los Blancos, revealing that his nickname is “the Golfer”.

Bale made the move over to the Spanish capital back in 2013 and has gone on to make over 200 appearances in all competitions, registering 100 goals in the process. However, he has struggled to nail down a starting XI spot under Santiago Solari so far this season, sparking rumours of a potential exit in the summer transfer window.

Gareth Bale

​Courtois, who is himself enduring a troublesome debut season for ​Real, discussed ​Bale’s current situation with Belgian newspaper HLN, stating, as per ​Sky Sports: “It is very hard to describe Gareth in one word.

“I would say he has so much talent, but that it is such a shame that so often that talent is blocked from shining.

“I live like somebody who is born and bred in Madrid. I eat late, I go bed late… it is their way of life.”

Gareth Bale

The former ​Chelsea keeper then went on to share a recent incident where Bale snubbed his fellow teammates when they went for a group meal, revealing: “The other night we had a dinner with the entire squad.

“But Bale and (Toni) Kroos did not turn up. They reckoned the dinner was too late at night.

“We had arranged to be in the restaurant at 9.30pm and we started out meal around 10.15pm and by midnight we were having coffee.

“But Bale had told us ‘I am not coming to join you, guys. I go to bed at 11.'”

Courtois is not alone in his criticism of Bale, with left-back ​Marcelo recently claiming that the Welsh winger still struggles to communicate in Spanish.

“Bale does not speak [Spanish] as he only speaks English and we talk with gestures.”

Let’

Wanda Nara Blasts ‘Completely False’ Rumours Real Madrid Rejected Mauro Icardi Because of Her

​Wanda Nara has dismissed rumours that Real Madrid rejected her client and husband Mauro Icardi because of her involvement in the deal.

Nara has forged a reputation as a challenging negotiator and is currently in the midst of discussing a new contract for Icardi with Inter. However, after having been stripped of the club captaincy and dropped from the team, Icardi’s future at the club has come into question.

Mauro Icardi,Wanda Nara

Spanish outlet ​Marca claimed that long-term admirers ​Real Madrid declined to pursue a deal for ​Icardi as they simply refused to deal with Nara, but the Argentine took to Twitter to dispute the report in posts which she has since delighted.

According to ​Football Italia, Nara wrote: “This version is completely false (RM). Perhaps time will prove me right, just as it did when I said there was STRONG interest from an Italian team [​Juventus]. 

“They treated me like a liar and a month later their director of sport confessed it too.”


She also followed this up with a post which contained several images of Icardi crying after an ​Inter defeat, as well as several more posts of his highlights for the club, including his best goals against the likes of ​Barcelona and ​AC Milan.

As well as Real, Icardi has been linked with monumental moves to the likes of ​Chelsea and Juventus, and it is expected that several other sides would enter the fray if the forward was made available for transfer in the near future.

Mauro Icardi

Widely regarded as one of the world’s finest strikers, Icardi has racked up 122 goals in his 210 appearances for Inter, including 15 strikes already this season.

His contract is thought to contain a release clause of around €110m, but the reported breakdown in talks at the club could drastically lower any potential asking price for Icardi. With so many big sides keen, this transfer saga could be one of the most exciting of the season.

Let’

FIFA 19 Winter Upgrades: Premier League Ratings, Ones to Watch & Prime Icon Moments

​EA Sports have released their annual winter refresh for FIFA 19 Ultimate Team, which has seen an increase in the ratings of 23 Premier League players, as well the release of new special cards.

The popular video game franchise has rewarded a number of players who have shown impressive form over the first half of the season, with a number of high-profile stars receiving boosts to their already impressive ratings.

The update from EA Sports also contains new special cards, such as ‘Winter Ones to Watch’ and ‘Prime Icon Moments’, both of which will be highly sought after by players looking to add limited edition items to bolster their Ultimate Team.

Here is 90min’s breakdown of the FIFA 19 Winter Refresh.


Premier League Ratings Refresh

To keep the game as up-to-date as possible and to reward the recent form of many of the Premier League’s established key players and new breakthrough stars, there are 23 upgrades entering the game.

​Liverpool’s defensive solidity this season has seen goalkeeper Alisson, Virgin van Dijk and Andy Robertson all rewarded with improved in-game ratings. Alisson has jumped from an 85 to an 87, Van Dijk from an 85 to an 88 and Robertson has moved from 81 to 83.

​Manchester City’s ​Fernandinho and ​Raheem Sterling are both now 87 rated players thanks to their respective performances in City’s title defence, while Manchester United’s resurgence under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has not gone unnoticed from EA, as pacey attackers ​Anthony Martial and ​Marcus Rashford are now 84 and 82 rated respectively.

FBL-ENG-PR-TOTTENHAM-WOLVES

​Tottenham attacking duo ​Harry Kane and ​Son Heung-min have been rewarded for their fine attacking displays, with Kane now 90 rated and Son an 85. Meanwhile, across the north London, ​Arsenal strikers ​Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and ​Alexandre Lacazette have both been rewarded with increased ratings – with Aubameyang now an 88 and Lacazette an 85.

The biggest improvement however is at ​Crystal Palace, where right-back Aaron Wan Bissaka has leapfrogged from a silver 70 to a gold 76.


Winter Ones to Watch

This update covers the most notable transfers to take place during the January transfer window, celebrating the moves with new special cards.

Anyone trying to build a Ligue 1 team should look for new Monaco pairing ​Cesc Fabregas and Naldo, who both have 86 ratings. New Marseille forward ​Mario Balotelli also has a new 83 rated special card after his switch from OGC Nice.

FBL-FRA-LIGUE1-MONACO-TOULOUSE

Premier League new boys ​Michy Batshuayi, Nathaniel Clyne, Denis Suarez and Ryan Babel also feature with new cards in the update.


Prime Icon Moments

FIFA 19’s ‘icon’ players have also received an increase in their ratings, coupled with the introduction of new ‘Icon Moments’ cards.

The new cards have been created to commemorate a special individual moment in the career of an existing FIFA ‘Icon’.

Not every ‘Icon’ has received a new special card, as they will be released in groups, with only group one being revealed so far. There will be a total of 34 special cards released, with group two set to be revealed at a later date – giving Ultimate Team players plenty to look forward too over the coming weeks and months.

Arsenal's Captain, Thierry Henry gesture

For fans of the Premier League, ‘Icons’ to look out for from group one include 92 rated Steven Gerrard, an extremely quick 94 rated Thierry Henry and Ruud van Nistelrooy, who is 93 rated.

Let’

Real Madrid vs Girona: Santiago Solari’s Best Available Los Blancos Lineup

Back in La Liga action after their Champions League exploits, Real Madrid will be hoping to continue their fine form and keep the pressure on Barcelona when they host Girona on Sunday.

Los Blancos’ 2-1 win away at Ajax means they are unbeaten in their last eight matches in all competitions – as the club continue to improve under Santiago Solari.

With no real injury concerns for the Madrid manager, he could opt for a strong lineup at the Bernabeu. Here’s how they could line up.

1. Goalkeeper and Defenders

UEFA Champions League'Ajax v Real Madrid'

Thibaut Courtois (GK) – The Belgian has seemingly cemented his place in the Madrid starting XI ahead of Keylor Navas after a string of impressive performances.

Dani Carvajal (RB) –  A combination of injury and form has seen the 27-year-old feature only 15 times in the league this season, yet when fit, he is a certain to feature for Solari’s men.

Sergio Ramos (CB) – The mercurial centre half notched up his 600th appearance for Los Blancos in the club’s recent 2-1 victory over Ajax, putting him seventh in the all-time appearance records for the club. Ramos will go level fifth and sixth if he features on Sunday.

Nacho (CB) Likely to fill in for Raphael Varane at centre-back, with the World Cup winner doubtful after sitting out training. Nacho is a more than capable replacement though, and can be relied upon to put in a solid shift.

Marcelo (LB) – The flamboyant Brazilian has lost his place in the side during recent weeks, but may find himself back in favour this week after sitting out the Champions League clash with Ajax – meaning his greater level of fitness could give him the nod.

2. Midfielders

Casemiro

Toni Kroos (CM) – Acts as the link between attack and defence in the Madrid midfield, spraying the ball from left to right with either foot at ease. His range of passing is second to none and he will see plenty of the ball on Sunday.

Casemiro (CDM) – His robust performance against Ajax earned him the man-of-the-match accolade. His ability to break up opposing attacks allows his side’s forward players to focus on their duties up front, knowing they’re secure at the back.

Dani Ceballos (CM) – With Luka Modric suspended and Marcos Llorente injured, it means Dani Ceballos could get the nod in the midfield three on Sunday. It will be the 22-year-old’s 30th appearance of the season.

3. Forwards

Karim Benzema

Marco Asensio (RW) – Will likely get the nod over Gareth Bale due to his goalscoring cameo appearance against Ajax. Has only scored once in La Liga this season, but the Welshman may be axed regardless.

Karim Benzema (CF) – Notched his 450th club appearance in the recent victory over Ajax and has been in excellent form for Solari’s side this campaign, averaging a goal every two games.

Vinicius Jr. (LW) – At the tender age of 18, the Brazilian demonstrates the confidence of someone ten years his senior. His skill on the ball and blistering pace will cause Girona all sorts of problems on Sunday.

Let’