Luka Jovic’s Father Defends Son After Coronavirus Criticism From Serbian President

​Milan Jovic, Luka’s father, has opened up on the criticism his son has faced following his decision to leave Madrid and return to Serbia. 

Jovic has struggled since he made a big money summer move from Eintracht Frankfurt. The Serbia international has made 24 appearances in all competitions this term, but has only managed two goals. 

Luka Jovic

It has been a hugely difficult first season in Madrid for the 22-year-old, but he has more recently come in for plenty of criticism after he decided to return home to Serbia. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, governments have introduced strict measures in an attempt to combat the spread. Serbia was one of these countries as they imposed a lockdown. 

​It has been explained that all nationals returning to Serbia from abroad after the shut down was imposed were ‘required’ to sign a document that explained the restrictions and required a name, address and telephone number. And after Jovic failed to comply by allegedly leaving his home and was seen on the streets, Serbia’s president did not hold back, claiming that if he leaves his home again, he will be arrested. 

But Luka’s father has now explained that it was a ‘misunderstanding’ that led to him leaving Spain for Serbia, while he has also admitted that he is willing to accept his son going to prison if he did something wrong – but he claims he didn’t. 

Luka Jovic

Speaking to Serbian media outlet Puls Online (as quoted by ​AS), he said: “He had two tests [for coronavirus] and both came back negative. However, there was a misunderstanding and he didn’t realise that he still couldn’t leave the country. He thought that he could after his negative tests.

“Now he’s being made to seem like a criminal. If he has to go to prison, let him go to prison. If he’s guilty of wrongdoing, then I’m completely in agreement with the [Serbian] president and prime minister, I support the decision – but only if he was in the wrong. 

“He came to Belgrade and shut himself in his apartment straight away. The photos showing him [out] having fun are from Spain and were taken months ago.”

Luka Jovic

Milan also explained that the ​Real Madrid forward went home to be with his family, before adding that he himself knows the truth – there were misunderstandings. 

“Luka came to Serbia to be with his family…he didn’t come just because of [his girlfriend] Sofia. He wanted to be with his nearest and dearest in Serbia.

“As a family, we’re right behind Luka and his decision. If people want to criticise him, they should do so in a civilised manner. It doesn’t hurt me, I know the truth. Things have been exaggerated, there were misunderstandings.”

Let’

Gareth Bale Puts Golfing Spin on Toilet Paper Challenge Because of Course He Does

The #StayAtHomeChallenge has seen sporting personalities juggling toilet roll with varying degrees of success​ as they attempt to stave off the boredom of not being able to go out/raise awareness of the necessity to self-isolate.

Some have progressed to a game of toilet roll no-bounce between housemates, while others have moved on to volleying tea bags into mugs. 

Gareth Bale has put his own unique twist on the challenge, in a move that is bound to infuriate Real Madrid fans. 

UEFA Champions League"Real Madrid v Manchester City FC"

Ah well, I’m sure they’re a forgiving bunch.

Four months on from celebrating his national side’s qualification for Euro 2020 (RIP) with a flag reading: ​’Wales, Golf, Madrid. In that order’, Bale has entertained himself in self-isolation with a round of toilet roll golf.

The Real Madrid forward expertly chipped a golf ball into a toilet roll off the side of a golf bag (to really drive home the message), achieving a toilet roll in one. Thank you. 


The video will only fuel the rumours that Bale prioritises golf over football, with ​Thibaut Courtois revealing that his Real teammates had given the Welshman the thoroughly ingenious nickname ‘the golfer’ due to the amount of time he spends on the golf course.

His celebrations with the infamous personalised Wales flag attracted criticism in the Spanish press and among Real fans, with whom Bale can apparently do no right.

The #StayAtHomeChallenge has so far seen Lionel Messi and Bruno Fernandes do toilet roll keepy-uppies with ease, before Thierry Henry made everybody feel completely inadequate with a show of characteristic ​effortless class and style.

Manchester City’s Caroline Weir came so close to perfection with a neat flick and some juggling, before completely missing the bin she attempted to throw it in. 


Fortunately, she made up for it by ​side-footing a teabag into a mug first time.

Let’

UEFA Postpone Champions League & Europa League Finals Over Coronavirus Crisis

UEFA has announced its decision to postpone both the men and women’s Champions League finals, as well as the Europa League showpiece, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has resulted in football being halted around the world, with nations entering lockdown states.

Major leagues are still plotting their return dates, though it remains to be seen how long the crisis will last. UEFA has now officially confirmed May’s finals will take place at later dates.

​The governing body revealed in a statement on their ​website: “UEFA has formally taken the decision to postpone the club finals originally scheduled for May 2020.

“No decision has yet been made on rearranged dates. The working group, established last week as a result of the conference call among the stakeholders of European football, which was chaired by UEFA President, Aleksander Čeferin, will analyse the options available. 

“The group has already begun its examination of the calendar. Announcements will be made in due course.”

While Atalanta, RB Leipzig, Paris Saint-Germain and Atletico Madrid all progressed to the Champions League quarter-finals as their games were played before football entered its hiatus, the winners of the ties between Manchester City and Real Madrid, Juventus and Lyon, Barcelona and Napoli, and Bayern Munich and Chelsea are still to be determined.

The first legs of the Women’s Champions League were due to be played this week, with Lyon among the favourites to win the competition.

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The round of 16 in the Europa League is also yet to be concluded, with teams like Manchester United and Bayer Leverkusen in strong positions, though the first legs between Inter and Getafe, and Sevilla and Roma were not played.

Premier League games could be played ​behind closed doors to ensure the season can end, while the Spanish Football Federation and La Liga both ​confirmed on Monday that all football in the country will be postponed indefinitely until it is safe to return.

An IOC member has also revealed tha the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be postponed due to the pandemic.

Let’

14 Players You Should Watch a Million Compilations of on YouTube

​Coronavirus has struck and taken our beloved football with it, leaving a hefty gap in our Saturday afternoons, and a chasmic void in our hearts.

There are still ways to fill the emptiness that football has left behind, and with social isolation slowly becoming a destiny for us all, we have plenty of time to do so.

YouTube has long been the place to while away the hours with irrelevant videos, so let us offer you some direction and recommend where you should focus your attention, with a list of players you should watch over and over again to help keep you entertained in these testing times.


Ronaldinho

Ronaldinho

The outrageous flicks, tricks ​and turns would see Ronaldinho get his legs broken if he ever fancied turning his hand to a bit of Sunday League, but because he’s in the yellow of Brazil or playing at Camp Nou, it’s utterly mesmerising.

Plus, sometimes Spanish or Brazilian the commentators get even more excited than you and let out impromptu sound effects of their own, only adding to the drama.


Zinedine Zidane

Michael Ballack and Zinedine Zidane

For pure elegance and grace on a football pitch, watch Zidane. Watch him glide past defenders and stride over tackles with such glorious athleticism, and then watch his stunning volley in the 2002 Champions League final for good measure.

Finish off by watching his headbutt from the 2006 World Cup final, because it’s important to remember that nobody’s perfect.


Thierry Henry

Thierry Henry of Arsenal prepares to strike the ball...

If silky Frenchmen are your vibe, then sit back and enjoy a few compilations of Thierry Henry effortlessly terrorising defences. 

His trademark no-look pass makes for particularly great viewing, particularly when he pulled them off for New York Red Bulls and the American commentators couldn’t comprehend what they have just witnessed.


Dennis Bergkamp

Dennis Bergkamp

On the topic of fabulous Arsenal forwards from days gone by, a nice Dennis Bergkamp compilation also makes for mouthwatering viewing.

The Dutchman just oozes class; the way he plucks the ball out of the air, his imagination and his knack for scoring from all sorts of angles makes Bergkamp a joy to watch.


Jay-Jay Okocha

Jay Jay Okocha

For the finest trickery and audacity, a Jay-Jay Okocha video is the way to go. His flair and fearlessness meant nothing was out of bounds, and you can’t take your eyes off his feet as they make a mockery out of defenders time and time again.

Watch a highlights video of Okacha being outrageous at Bolton, and then the second time you watch it, remember that Sam Allardyce was his manager. 


Johan Cruyff 

Johan Cruyff

Just watch the original Cruyff turn from the 1974 World Cup​ over and over again until you feel you fully appreciate the deftness, subtly and artistry of the Dutch icon.

The manner in which Cruyff can make defenders just melt away as he charges at them with such elegance is captivating.


Vivianne Miedema 

Vivianne Miedema

For a masterclass in finishing​, ​Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema is the one. Her ice-cool composure coupled with her ability to worm through a tightly packed defence make the Dutch striker unplayable in the box.

Miedema’s variety of finishes and intelligence in front of goal make for fascinating viewing.


Luis Figo

Luis Figo

The remarkable close control and lightening quick feet of Luis Figo will keep your eyes glued to your screen. His ability to beat a player time and time again is near unrivalled.

Defenders simply cannot get near him. It’s like he’s playing against kids in the playground, ​except the playground is the Bernabeu and he’s playing against the best players in the world.


Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo

While we’re on the topic of ​skilful Portuguese players to pull on the white of ​Real Madrid, you can’t really avoid giving this fella a mention.

From his trademark stepovers to the way he hangs in the air for a header, or just his utterly ridiculous free kick for Manchester United against Portsmouth, anything ​Ronaldo produces on a football pitch is worthy of a YouTube binge.


Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi

You can’t mention one without the other. Watch ​Messi wriggle his way past about 900 players and work his way out of the tightest of situations time after time.

As the ​Guardian’s Sid Lowe wrote in 2010: “Theo Walcott can still only aspire to brilliance as dazzling as this.”

Or as Ray Hudson said: “Defenders try to follow him on Facebook and he comes out on Twitter, that’s how evasive he is.”


Matt Le Tissier

Matt Le Tissier of Southampton

For a selection of goals with invention and creativity; from a chip from outside the area to a rocket into the top corner from 30 yards out, a Matt Le Tissier video is a great watch.​

All goals come accompanied with a mazy slaloming run, where you’re positive he should have lost the ball on multiple occasions yet it somehow remains glued to his feet.


David Ginola

David Ginola

Mesmerising feet combined with remarkable poise and balance make Ginola one of the greatest dribblers the Premier League has ever seen.

Throw in his eye for the spectacular and a YouTube compilation of the Frenchman makes for sumptuous viewing. ​


Mia Hamm

Mia Hamm

One of the greatest female footballers to ever grace the football pitch, Hamm’s quick feet and effortless style and agility make her a must watch.

The USA international’s ability to find the top corner from just about anywhere on the football pitch was second to none.​


Arjen Robben

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In his prime, Arjen Robben was one of the most exciting players to watch tearing down the wing and dancing through challenges.

He was also blessed with a wand of a left foot, which produced a selection of stunning volleys down the years.​

But erm, there’s a little less variety in some of these. Y’know. The Robben move. 


Let’

Real Madrid 1-2 Atletico Madrid: The Day Atleti Stunned Los Blancos to Win the Copa del Rey

Atletico Madrid​ hadn’t beaten their city rivals Real Madrid since 1999 before the 2013 Copa del Rey final.

However, on 17 May 2013, Diego Simeone’s side triumphed in extra-time to claim a famous 2-1 win at the Bernabeu, lifting Spain’s domestic cup trophy.

In a crazy and intense game, Cristiano Ronaldo headed in the opener from a corner, before Diego Costa equalised before half-time. With 20 minutes to go until penalties, Brazilian defender Miranda nodded in the winner in extra-time. 

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Three red cards were also brandished with Ronaldo and Atleti captain Gabi both seeing red, while Los Blancos manager Jose Mourinho was also given his marching orders.


ATLETICO MADRID

Key Talking Point

It’s not an exaggeration to say this was a huge shock.

It was the first time Atletico had beaten their city rivals in 26 matches. They rode their luck through stages of the match but managed to claim a narrow win and stuned their neighbours to win a first Copa del Rey in 17 years.

It thrust players like Thibaut Courtois and Diego Godin into the limelight and cemented Simeone’s status as a top class manager.


Atletico Madrid Player Ratings

Diego Godin

Starting XI: Courtois (9); Juanfran (6), Godin (5), Miranda (7), Luis (6); Suarez (5), Gabi (5), Koke (6), Turan (5); Costa (7), Falcao (8).

Substitutes: Garcia (5), Rodriguez (5).


Thibaut Courtois

The MOTM produced two magnificent saves in extra-time to keep Los Colchoneros ahead. 

The first stop prevented Gonzalo Higuain from volleying in from close range, and just minutes later the Belgian threw himself across goal to prevent Mesut Ozil tapping into an empty net.


REAL MADRID

Key Talking Point

FBL-ESP-CUP-REALMADRID-ATLETICOMADRID

Ouch. This was a giant blow to Los Blancos who finished the season on a major low after failing to win both the Champions League and La Liga. 

In all fairness, Real Madrid probably deserved to win the match as they hit the woodwork on three separate occasions. A Ronaldo free-kick, an Ozil strike and Karim Benzema’s close-range effort all managed to find a way to hit the post. ​


Real Madrid Player Ratings

Starting XI: Lopez (5); Essien (4), Albiol (4), Ramos (5), Coentrao (5); Alonso (6), Khedira (5), Ozil (4), Modric (5), Ronaldo (7); Benzema (5).

Substitutes: Di Maria (7), Higuain (5), Arbeloa (5).


Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo

Going into the game, the Portuguese superstar had scored 54 goals in his last 54 games and continued his goal-a-game ratio when he leapt above Godin to nod a great header home.

The former Manchester United winger was unlucky not to add to his earlier finish when he hit the post from a free-kick that flew under the wall. One of a few bright sparks for Los Blancos despite his red card. ​


Things That Aged the Worst

Jose Mourinho. That name provides so many footballing memories and will always divide opinion. He was sent off in the 76th minute for protesting the referee’s decision and chose to play Raul Albiol and Diego Lopez instead of Pepe and Iker Casillas. 

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The failure to win the Champions League and La Liga on top of this result meant he left the club a few days later, labelling it “the worst season of his career”. Since then, he has not been able to reach the spectacular success he had managed earlier in his career. 


Things That Aged the Best

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In all honesty, when you really think about it – Diego Simeone is a genius. 

The Argentine has been at the club since 2011 and is still there nine years later, which is a testament to his longevity.

Despite Barcelona and Real Madrid’s dominance​, he’s still managed to win trophies and be successful. Just last month, he knocked Liverpool out of the Champions League.

Never underestimate El Cholo.


Players You Completely Forgot Existed

Throwback time. Portuguese left back Fabio Coentrao started the final ahead of Marcelo and was a regular starter. However, in 2015 he was loaned out and failed to regularly get back into Los Blancos’ team again. 

FBL-ESP-CUP-REALMADRID-ATLETICOMADRID

Once one of the most feared strikers on the planet, Radamel Falcao – also known as ‘El Tigre’ – was unable to produce the goods in England at either Chelsea or Manchester United and he now spends his days in Turkey at Galatasaray.

Still, he’s had a pretty good club career.


What Happened Next

Bad news for Jose. Good news for Diego. ​

The former Chelsea manager returned to London which meant Carlo Ancelotti took over at the Bernabeu, winning the Champions League in his first season. Real Madrid went on to dominate the Champions League, with Zinedine Zidane taking over after Ancelotti was given the boot.

Since then Mourinho has managed Manchester United and is currently doing his thing – to mixed reviews – at Tottenham.

On the other hand, Simeone produced another shock and fended off Barcelona and Real Madrid to win La Liga in 2013/14, also triumphing in the 2017/18 Europa League. What a man.


Questions

What was Jose Mourinho thinking not starting goalkeeping legend Casillas, who may have not made the same mistakes Lopez did?

Carlos Clos Gomez,Jose Mourinho

Were the Real Madrid players cursed by wizards or witches as they somehow managed to hit the woodwork three times?

Will Simeone ever stop being such a massive legend?

Massive questions. Probably too big to ever answer properly.

Let’

Real Madrid Boss Zinedine Zidane Plans For ‘NBA-Style’ Tournament to Decide La Liga Title

​Football is in crisis. There’s no other way of putting it. Our beautiful game has ground to a halt across all of Europe, and there is no real end in sight to this dangerous and fast-spreading coronavirus. 

​So, football’s governing bodies everywhere are attempting to formulate a logistically fair and feasible method of completing our interrupted seasons, which will decide the winners and losers of the 2019/20 campaign. 

Zinedine Zidane

And one man who is trying to make sense of it all is Zinedine Zidane, whose Real Madrid side was heavily involved in a tense La Liga title race with rivals Barcelona, until the league was forced to take a break. 

And according to ​AS, the French boss is working on the basis that his players will have to play once every 48 hours, meaning he and his coaching staff would have to prepare his stars in the NBA model of playing more often and training far less. 

These extreme circumstances are far from ideal for Zidane and ​Madrid, given the likelihood of losing players through fatigue-related injuries.

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But this plan seems the likeliest outcome at the moment, and it hinges on two key dates. Madrid Mayor José Luis Martínez-Almeida has pointed towards March 25 or 26 as the first day of note, ‘when it will be known if the contagion curve flattens a little with respect to the measures that have been taken’ in the city.

The second is 15 April, when it will be noted ‘if the number of people discharged is higher than the number of people who are infected’.

If these two landmarks pass successfully, then it is suggested La Liga will kick off again around 15 May, and all leagues are hoping to complete their fixtures by 30 June, due to potential problems that could arise with expiring contracts and loan deals. 

Zinedine Zidane

This means that all Spanish clubs will have six weeks to finish their 11 matches, allowing time to also be allocated to those who still have European commitments to fulfil. 

​But again, it all depends on the country’s wellbeing, which is being affected badly by the coronavirus. Spain is the second-most infected European nation behind Italy, and the entire population is on lockdown after the government enforced a state of emergency amid the spreading of the deadly disease. 

It is almost certain that this state will last until Easter, and the football world will have to hold its collective breath to see if it gets the green light in the weeks that follow. 

Let’

Impressions, Keepy Ups & Toilet Roll Fails – Roundup of the Lighter Side of the News

​We’re all tired of the morbid and ominous news surrounding the coronavirus, aren’t we? 

We want to see some upbeat, positive news that will put us in a good mood when we go to bed, don’t we? 

Oh go on then. 90min is here to bring you some of the feel-good moments of the week so far, as we all do our best to stave off boredom in these desperately trying times. 

Have a little scroll and a giggle, if you fancy. 


Osasuna’s H-Edgy Training Methods


Teams have been discouraged – or even banned – from training as a squad, but some players have managed to bend the rules and have some fun (which is what we want to see). 

Osasuna’s stars decided to take on a game of football tennis, using a giant hedge as their net. Raúl Neves and Fran Merida showed off their impressive keepy-up skills in this neat video, lobbing the ball over the fence for their opponent to control and send back their way. 

Good stuff. Not sure on their hedge-garden fence layout though. Way too much green. 


Donations Aplenty  


One positive note from this week has been the outpouring of love ​and generosity from our game’s superstars. The German national team donated €2.5m to charities tackling the coronavirus, Robert Lewandowski and his wife Anna committed €1m of their own money to the cause, while several clubs donated their salary to tackle the disease. 

Roma players and staff gave up a day’s salary – and made personal contributions, helping the club to order a whole load of equipment for the city’s struggling hospital. Fantastic gestures all round, from plenty of very generous clubs. 


Stay at Home Challenge 


Yep, there’s something so simplistic and infant-like about kicking a toilet roll about and stopping it from hitting the floor, but yet it’s so damn entertaining. A whole host of football’s main men performed magic tricks with their toilet roll, whilst some – we’re looking at you Felipe Melo – did what they did best…crunching the unsuspecting opposition from behind. 

He must have picked up some serious carpet burn there. 

Then there were the likes of Matthijs de Ligt, who managed to do a fair few keepy-ups, albeit with the help of a fortunately-placed piece of furniture to bounce it off. 

And finally, there was Jamie Carragher. We appreciate the honesty, Jamie. 


Impressions With Carl Dickinson 


Carl Dickinson is a ​Stoke City legend, and he’s repaying his Twitter following with some hilarious impressions. His first victim was former manager and fellow Potters hero Tony Pulis, the coach who undoubtedly gave Dickinson a rollicking or two during his time in Staffordshire. ​

His impressions may not be to the highest of standards, but it’s all a good bit of fun, isn’t it? Keep it up, Dicko!


Social Unity 


Twitter can be an ugly place sometimes, where people go to find conflict, rather than ​to enjoy a decent conversation or debate. And although those corners of the format still exist, there has generally been a sense of unity among its users. 

Unless you’re going out and ignoring the government’s instructions, in which case, you’re a proper idiot. Stay indoors, everyone. 


La Liga FIFA Tourno 

Footballers get bored too, ya know? So to pass the time, and to give us some quality entertainment, La Liga stars are set to do battle – in a giant FIFA tournament!

Each ​team will nominate one player to handle the controls, and they will go head-to-head with the rest of the Spanish top flight in a competition which will be streamed on Twitch. 

​Thibaut Courtois and Marco Asensio are rumoured to be in conflict over who will star for ​Real Madrid, and the pair will play a winner-takes-all battle to decide the ultimate winner. 

Not to be missed, this one! 


Let’

Ex-President of Real Madrid Lorenzo Sanz Dies After Testing Positive for Coronavirus

​Former Real Madrid president Lorenzo Sanz has sadly passed away at the age of 76, following a short battle with the coronavirus. 

Mr Sanz, who suffered from diabetes, was admitted to hospital earlier in the week after showing symptoms of the deadly virus, and he subsequently suffered kidney failure as he tried to fight the illness.

El Chiringuito revealed via Twitter on Saturday evening that Sanz had passed away, writing ‘Rest in peace, and a big hug to all his family’. 

Mr Sanz was the president of Madrid for five years from 1995 until Florentino Perez took over the club in 2000. He was responsible for bringing the likes of Roberto Carlos, Predrag Mijatovic, Clarence Seedorf and Davor Suker to the Santiago Bernabeu, and los Merengues lifted two Champions League trophies during his time at the helm. 

​Los Blancos also won La Liga in 1997 under Fabio Capello, the man Sanz had hired to lead the Spanish giants to glory. 

This news followed the tragic death of Spanish youth coach Francisco Garcia, who died aged 21. Garcia was admitted to hospital with severe coronavirus symptoms, and it emerged that he was battling against leukaemia. 

Former Real Madrid FC President Lorenzo

His pre-existing condition made it more difficult for his body to fight the coronavirus, and he sadly died, making him one of the youngest people to die as a result of the virus in the world. 

Spain is struggling to contain the constant spreading of the coronavirus, which has killed over 1,300 Spanish citizens thus far – 300 of those deaths coming on Saturday alone. The entire nation is on lockdown, as they try to prevent the virus from infecting more people. 

Let’

Spain 1-5 Netherlands: Remembering the Day That Spain’s Tiki-Taka Revolution Died

​18th June 2014. The day that Vicente del Bosque’s tiki-taka revolution died.

The all-conquering Spaniards went into the World Cup as reigning champions, having also been victorious in the previous two European Championships. 

Their opening game of the tournament had the potential to be an absolute classic. In a repeat of the 2010 final – which had been more of a Royal Rumble than a football match – Del Bosque’s side faced off against the Netherlands in the curtain raiser of Group B. 

Things started out as expected with Spain taking an early lead through a Xabi Alonso penalty. Then…things started to go wrong. Very wrong. 

FIFA World Cup 2014 Brazil - "Spain v Netherlands"

First, a wonder goal from Robin van Persie (that header!!!!!!) drew the Dutch level, before Arjen Robben gave them a shock lead. The Dutch doubled their advantage soon after when Stefan de Vrij capitalised on some calamitous defending and it was a similar story for their goal.

This time, a fatal error from Iker Casillas allowed Van Persie to grab his second and to add insult to injury, Robben capped off a momentous night of football by steaming past Sergio Ramos and adding a fifth goal with ten minutes left to play.

How could this have happened?! We took a trip down memory lane to find out…


SPAIN

Key Talking Point

Look, we know it was 5-1 but it all could have been so different. 

With Spain 1-0 up and in the ascendency, David Silva was presented with a gilt-edged chance to double his side’s lead.

For some reason the Netherlands defence parted like the Red Sea, which allowed Andres Iniesta to slide one of his trademark through balls into Silva’s path. 

FBL-WC-2014-MATCH03-ESP-NED

The ​Manchester City man had all the time in the world and only Jasper Cillessen to beat. And yet – for whatever reason – instead of slotting the ball home, Silva decided to go for an audacious chip. Needless to say, he did not pull it off. 

Minutes later, the Netherlands would grab an equaliser via an outrageous diving header from Robin van Persie. 

Who knows how the game might have gone if Silva had been able to finish his dinner…


Player Ratings 

Starting XI: Casillas (4); Azpilicueta (6), Pique (5), Ramos (5), Alba (5); Busquets (6), Alonso (5), Xavi (5); Iniesta (7), Costa (6), Silva (5).

Substitutes: Torres (4), Pedro (4), Fabregas (5).


Andrés Iniesta 

Andres Iniesta,Stefan De Vrij

​The best of a properly bad lot for Spain was Andrés Iniesta. 

Even in the midst of all the chaos, Iniesta was never flustered and was his side’s only reliable creative impetus.


NETHERLANDS 

Key Talking Points

Arjen Robben,Wesley Sneijder,Jeremain Lens,Nigel de Jong

Five goals. FIVE! That’s insane. 

It was a remarkable night for the Dutch and although they were certainly helped along the way by some shambolic Spanish defending – and goalkeeping, now we come to think of it – they deserve credit for a ruthless attacking performance. 

All five goals were superbly taken and Van Gaal got his defensive gameplan spot on. 

Setting up in a rigid 3-5-2 made it difficult for Spain to dominate the midfield and this proved to be a masterstroke with Spain’s usual control over the game conspicuously absent. 


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Cillessen (7); Janmaat (7), Vlaar (8), De Vrij (8), Martins Indi (7), Blind (8); De Guzman (6), De Jong (8), Sneijder (8); Van Persie (9), Robben (9).

Substitutes: Wijnaldum (6), Veltman (6), Lens (6).


Robin van Persie

Jasper Cillessen,Robin Van Persie

​Both van Persie’s goals were strokes of genius but for very different reasons. 

His first goal – when his side were under the cosh – set the tone for one of the greatest nights in Dutch footballing history.


Things That Aged Worst

Arrival Rotterdam - Netherlands

Let’s be real. Would Louis van Gaal’s managerial legacy be any different if he hadn’t taken the ​Manchester Uni​ted job after the tournament? No. If anything, his stint at Old Trafford damaged his reputation. 

The Dutchman return home from the World Cup as a national hero, after somehow guiding one of the weakest Dutch sides in recent memory to a 3rd place finish.

He should have quit while he was ahead…although we wouldn’t have got to enjoy this gem if he had.


​​


Things That Aged the Best

FBL-WC-2014-MATCH03-ESP-NED

​Two things really. 

First, and most importantly, this image of Bruno Martins Indi looking like he’s trying to melt Diego Costa’s brain using telepathy has aged well. Very well indeed. 


​​Second, we are also not tired of watching Van Persie’s opening goal. Our jaws still hit the floor every time we see him fly through the air like a peregrine falcon, somehow managing to loop the ball over Iker Casillas using his flippin’ head.  

Yeah, we reckon we’re going to go watch it right now actually. Back in a moment. 


Players You Completely Forgot Existed

Roll up, roll up. It’s time for a roll call of all the mediocre ​Premier League players who somehow managed to beat the best generation of footballing Spaniards in history.

First up, Ron Vlaar. Remember him? Played for Aston Villa for a while.

Next, the aforementioned Martins Indi. You know him by now. That injury stricken Stoke City centre-back. He’s still there by the way – yeah, genuinely.

FBL-WC-2014-MATCH63-BRA-NED

Jonathan de Guzman anyone? A Swansea City legend whose now plying his trade for Eintracht Frankfurt.

Don’t worry, we saved the best until last. Jeremain Lens, scorer of four goals across two seasons for Sunderland. Now that is £10m very well spent. He plays in Turkey now because…of course he does, who else is going to pay his extortionate wages?


What Happened Next?

World Cup Brazil 2014 - "Netherlands v Argentina"

​The hammering set the tone for a disastrous World Cup for Spain. In their next fixture they would fall to a 2-0 defeat against Chile, in front of almost 80,000 spectators at the Maracana.

This meant that after just two games the holders were out…and a 3-0 victory over a Tim Cahill-less Australia did little to raise the mood. 

And what about the Netherlands?  

After squeezing past Mexico 2-1 in the round of 16 and then just about beating Costa Rica on penalties in the quarter finals, Argentina proved to be a bridge too far. 

The Dutch crashed out on penalties to Lionel Messi’s side but returned home with their heads held high, beating Brazil in the third place game to earn a cute little losers medal. 


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Real Madrid Decide Against Replacing Zinedine Zidane Even if They Win Nothing This Season

​Real Madrid are reported to have decided against a change in manager at the end of the season, no matter how the remainder of the campaign plays out. 

The first full season of Zidane’s second spell has been tumultuous, but Los Blancos are still in competition on two fronts. They sit two points off ​Barcelona in the La Liga title race after losing to Real Betis before the involuntary break, while they remain in with a chance of overturning Manchester City’s 2-1 lead in the Champions League last 16 when the competition resumes. 

Such are the mighty standards at the club, however, that even with two major honours still within their grasp, there has already been plenty of talk about Zidane’s successor. In fact, the Frenchman had to ​dismiss links with Juventus last week, amid reports that Real could ​look to replace him with former Juve boss Max Allegri.


According to ​AS, there had been some truth in the speculation that ​Real were unsettled with their management situation. The outlet say the club were considering a move for former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino should the club fail to win both La Liga and the Champions League. 

The coronavirus crisis that has sent football up into the air, however, seems to have blown that out of the water. AS say that no matter what happens now, Real will stick with Zidane for another season, as they prioritise stability in what is a chaotic period for the club, and the wider context of Spanish and European football. 

It’s said that the board were planning to reconsider but have had their heads turned by the ‘upheaval’ caused by the crisis, although they are thought to remain confident of at least winning the league – the feeling being that Barcelona’s current two-point lead is fragile.


Real hold the head-to-head advantage having ​won one El Clásico and drawn the other, and Los Merengues chiefs fancy Zidane’s chances of prying the trophy from the grasp of the Catalans.

But either way, unless there is a dire turn for the worse, it seems Zidane will have another season to impose his vision.

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