Brazil Coaches Sent to Watch Vinicius Junior After Impressive Recent Form for Real Madrid

Representatives from the Brazil national team have reportedly been sent to watch Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior, with a view to rewarding the 18-year-old’s impressive recent form with a senior call-up next month.

​The teenager had a difficult start to life in Madrid after joining from Flamengo in the summer, struggling to make an impression under Julen Lopetegui, and then again initially under his replacement Santiago Solari.

Since January, however, he has emerged to hold down a first-team place, starting each of their last six ​La Liga matches, and most recently featured in the 2-1 Champions League victory over Ajax, assisting Karim Benzema for the opening goal. 

His dramatic upswing in form hasn’t gone unnoticed, it seems, as ​Marca say that Brazil assistant coach Matheus Bachi and another member of the backroom staff are headed to Spain take in a ​Real training session and their La Liga fixture against Girona at the Bernabeu on Sunday.

Marcelo,Marcos Llorenta

If they like what they see, there is every chance the player could find himself in line for a first senior cap against the Czech Republic at the end of March.

It’s also thought that the duo will be paying some attention to Real’s city rivals ​Atletico, as they are set to attend a training session there on Tuesday ahead of their Champions League match with ​Juventus.

Though unconfirmed, it seems likely 33-year-old left back Filipe Luis will be the focus of their attentions there.

Let’

Images of 2019 adidas Retro Kits Including Classic Manchester United Home Shirt Leaked

Manchester United is starting to feel like its old self again, with results and moods having taken a significant upturn since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was appointed interim manager in December.​

And it seems that performances aren’t the only think harking back to the old days, with a retro-style Manchester United home shirt appearing online.

​These images were leaked by Footy Headlines, but this kit will not be worn by the team next season. This is actually the latest in adidas’ Icon Collection, which was launched for the 2018/19 season.

adidas released limited edition classic shirts for all its teams, including a plain red short-sleeved ​Manchester United home shirt reminiscent of those worn by the Busby Babes.

This new kit appears to be a throwback to those worn in the late 1980s, with shiny red vertical stripes, a white and black collar, and white cuffs on the sleeves.

The latest Icon Collection shirts for Arsenal, Bayern Munich, Juventus and Real Madrid have also been leaked by ​Footy Headlines.

The ​Real Madrid kit appears to be based on a similar design, with white shiny stripes, a black and gold collar, and black sleeve cuffs.

​Arsenal’s is a yellow away kit like those worn by the club in the late 1980s and early 1990s, with three black horizontal stripes across the chest. ​Bayern’s is a similar design – a black away kit with red stripes.

The ​Juventus shirt is the only one of which there are no photographs, but concept art depicts a black shirt with white stripes across the middle and down the sleeves.

Flamengo – which was also included in the 2018 Icon Collection – is expected to get a 2019 update as well.

Let’

UEFA Open Disciplinary Proceedings After Sergio Ramos Admits to Deliberate Yellow Card Against Ajax

​UEFA have opened a disciplinary investigation into comments made by Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos, who admitted that he had deliberately been booked against Ajax.

Ramos committed an obvious foul on Kasper Dolberg in the 89th minute of the last 16 first leg tie on Wednesday, meaning that he will be suspended for the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu in three weeks’ time.


After the game, ​Ramos surprisingly admitted that the yellow card had been a deliberate ruse to earn a suspension and clear his record ahead of the quarter-finals, ​telling reporters: “I would lie if I told you that I did not force the card.

“It is something I had in mind, it is not to underestimate Ajax or think that the tie is already over but I have decided so I can rest in the return, although I will be in the stadium to encourage the team.”

​Sky Sports News has confirmed that UEFA has opened an investigation into Ramos’ comments, meaning that he could be slapped with a two-game ban which would see him miss the quarter-final first leg if ​Real Madrid qualify.

Ramos later tried to back-track on his comments with a ​Twitter post denying that the yellow card had been intentional.

“I want to make clear that it hurts me more than anyone, I have not forced the card, as I did not against Roma in my previous game in the Champions League, and I will support from the stands as a fan with the hope of making it to the quarters,” he wrote.

This is the third time Ramos has deliberately picked up a tactical yellow card in the Champions League, having done so against Galatasaray in 2013 and against Ajax in 2010.

Let’

Why Karim Benzema Can Make a Claim for the Title of Best Striker in the World

Still only 31 years old, Karim Benzema seems to have been on the football scene for quite some time. The forward has spent nearly a decade at Real Madrid, while if you had said he had been there for 20 years, one wouldn’t be surprised, such is his longevity.

He has just come off the back of playing a starring role as Madrid secured a strong advantage over Ajax in the Champions League in midweek, netting the opener as Los Blancos head back to the Bernabeu for the return leg with a 2-1 lead, in what felt like his 100,000th game for the club.

Karim Benzema

​In light of Madrid president Florentino Perez’s recent remarks about ​Benzema being the ​world’s best striker, it seems only fitting to assess those claims by virtue of dissecting the Frenchman’s career so far and whether it is justifiable to reward the striker with such high acclaim.

Galacticos have come and gone in the past ten years at a rate similar to that of BHS furniture sales, yet still Benzema has remained. The striker has gone on to feature 450 times for the Spanish giants, notching 211 goals while so often his role is not as clear as being a typical ‘number nine’.

Having never been blessed with lightning pace, he sacrifices himself to drop deep in order to draw defenders in, allowing the countless other stars he’s played alongside to exploit the spaces he creates. He does his bit for the team, usually the in the most selfless of ways. Superstar players he’s shared a dressing room with include the likes of Kaka, ​Cristiano Ronaldo, Angel Di Maria, ​Gareth Bale and ​Mesut Ozil, just to name a few.

Karim Benzema

By inviting the defence onto him, Benzema is able to implement a facet of his game that is not only deemed unnecessary for a number nine, but often ignored in favour of a goal ratio surpassing one in two. What Benzema can do, is pass. His vision is under-appreciated for a striker of his size and build, as he can thread a pass Diego Maradona wouldn’t hesitate to put his name to.

When not making a lung-bursting surge into the opponent’s penalty area, he will shield the ball and attract opponents like flies to honey, allowing him to feed the ball to wide players that, for much of his career, had been Ronaldo and Bale. It may not be the killer final pass he supplies, but Andres Iniesta only amassed eight assists in his last four years at Barcelona, and we all know how good he was.

Trying to make a name for yourself in a ​Madrid team that, quite frankly, for nine years could have been known as Real Ronaldo CF, is no easy feat. Yet, Benzema plugged away, balancing his role of playing striker, while equally not, and dropping deeper to connect the dots in an attack that has accumulated such an astonishing number of goals. It’s humble football at it’s finest.


Notably throughout his Los Blancos career, Benzema has outlived so many other strikers, that it’s become a large component of his ability that has been overlooked by critics and supporters alike. When he first donned the famous white of Madrid he found himself in a squad blessed with the likes of Raul and ​Gonzalo Higuain in a side that rarely strayed away from pitting one striker up front.

Nonetheless, he’s remained a key figure in an ever-changing environment with no less than seven managers keeping faith in the Frenchman’s unquestionable abilities.

Certainly, it hasn’t all been roses for the ex-Lyon man. He’s suffered dips in form that have left even the most staunch fans question his goal-scoring rates, particularly in the last two seasons. The 2016/17 and 2017/18 campaigns culminated in, by his standards, a meagre 31 goals in 98 outings, yet he still finished by lifting the trophy with the big ears on both occasions.


By managing to stay relevant and continuing to remain in the picture at the Bernabeu he deserves credit alone. In fact, following a supposed ‘dip’, he’s enjoying one of the more fruitful seasons of his career to date. Netting 19 goals in 38 appearances this term keeps him in the ‘one in two’ club that all statistics fanatics crave, as Madrid remain in the hunt for three pieces of silverware.

Furthermore, in case anyone had missed it, he’s now ​Real Madrid’s sixth all-time highest goal scorer and fourth highest in the history of the Champions League. So is Perez fair in his comments that Benzema is the best striker in the world? They always say back your man, which he has done, and it would be cruel not to at least mention the player amongst Europe’s finest frontmen, even if there are plenty of candidates who would argue otherwise.

Let’

Ajax 1-2 Real Madrid: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Los Blancos Sneak Win Amidst VAR Controversy

Real Madrid will take an aggregate advantage back to the Santiago Bernabeu, after downing Ajax 2-1 in a match where they struggled for large parts and were thankful a controversial intervention from VAR.

​It was the home side who made the brighter start, pressing Madrid into regular mistakes at the back with an extremely effective high press. 

They were comfortable on the ball too, and had a great a chance to open the scoring after 25 minutes, when Dusan Tadic was played through on goal, and did well to hold off Sergio Ramos, only to rattle the crossbar with his shot. 

FBL-EUR-C1-AJAX-REALMADRID

And they thought they’d earned their just rewards with an opening score in the 39th minute, when Nicolas Tagliafo headed the ball in after a Thibaut Courtois flapsterclass. 

However, controversially, VAR came to Courtois and co.’s aid, ruling out the goal on grounds of obstruction from Tadic and/or a highly marginal offside – both were a stretch at best and neither were “clear and obvious” as the mantra dictates.

Inevitably, this came back to bite the Dutch in the second half, when Vinicius Jr. produced some scintillating play down the wing, controlling the ball with aplomb at full tilt before cutting in and teeing up Karim Benzema, who smashed it into the net to steal a crucial away goal.

Hakim Ziyech looked to have earned the Amsterdam-based team a deserved draw in the 75th minute after a squared ball from David Neres, but substitute Marcos Asensio broke hearts in the Johan Cruyff Arena with a tap-in at 87 minutes to sneak an unlikely victory.


AJAX

Key Talking Point

What else is there to talk about except the VARse. Erik ten Hag’s side had been spectacular in that first half, and deserved to open the scoring. But they were denied with a piece of history – the first ever time VAR had disallowed/overturned a goal in the Champions League – and it was dubious to say the least.

Oh and, just to rub salt in the wounds, it took absolutely ages. Years in fact. It’s now 2082, and yes, the Rolling Stones are still touring. 

Damir Skomina

Thankfully, they didn’t let it get the better of them and rallied themselves after the visitors scored the de facto opener to earn what would’ve been a more than worthy stalemate. Less gratifyingly, it was in vain, as Asensio snuck in right at the death.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Onana (7); Mazraoui (7), de Ligt (7), Blind (7), Tagliafico (7); De Jong (7), Schone (6), van de Beek (7); Ziyech (8), Tadic (8), Neres (7).

Substitutes: Dolberg (6)


STAR MAN – Ziyech took his goal with suitable composure, and Neres was a threat down Dani Carvajal’s flank all night, but it has to be Dusan Tadic. 

The former Southampton playmaker was instrumental to his side, on and off the ball, especially in the first half. Makes you wonder why the Saints sold him in the first place – they could certainly use him right now. 

WORST PLAYER – It would be a harsh label to hand any Ajax player on that pitch, but it goes to substitute Kasper Dolberg, for scuffing a big chance in the 92nd minute right into the arms of the struggling keeper.


REAL MADRID​

Key Talking Point

All the talk pre-game was of a Real resurgence, and the possibility of them recording an unprecedented fourth consecutive triumph in this tournament, against all the odds of their horrendous start to the season. 


And all that talk looked outrageous in a first half where they were pretty much dominated. But, seeing as it was the ​Champions League and all, and seeing as they’ve owned this competition for four of the last five years, they weren’t going to let that faze them, were they? 

As it so often is, it wasn’t particularly pretty, nor that warranted, but Real will go back to the Bernabeu with a healthy advantage and a glint in their eye.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Courtois (4); Carvajal (6), Nacho (6), Sergio Ramos (6), Reguilon (6); Kroos (7), Casemiro (7), Modric (7); Bale (5), Benzema (8), Vinicius (8*).

Karim Benzema,Vinicius Junior

Substitutes: Asensio (7), Vazquez (6).


STAR MAN – The last few weeks have been all about two men – Vinicius Jr. and Karim Benzema. The Frenchman has been in electric goalscoring form, and showed that once again tonight, but it was the Brazilian who shone the brightest.

The deft, deft control he displayed to bring down Sergio Reguilon’s probing ball for the 31-year-old’s opener was the skill of this round so far, and his poise afterwards wasn’t too bad either.

WORST PLAYER – Who else but the flapping former Chelsea man. Sure, it didn’t cost his side in the end, but if Vinicius deployed the skill of the round, then the Belgian dropped the biggest clanger. 


I’m still not quite sure how he managed it, either. An embarrassing one, but luckily for him it was just his ego that was affected, not the scoreline.


Looking Ahead

​Real Madrid will face Girona and Levante in La Liga before preparing themselves for two El Clasicos against Barcelona – the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi final and a potentially title-deciding league clash – all before they meet Ajax once more in the capital for this second leg.

Ajax, meanwhile, have three fairly negotiable Eredivisie ties to play, though are in a similar boat cup-wise, with a semi final of their own against Feyenoord.

Let’

Ajax Fans Keep Real Madrid Stars Awake With Fireworks Ahead of UCL Last 16 Clash

A group of Ajax fans attempted to disturb sleeping Real Madrid players by lighting several fireworks near the team’s hotel last night.

The two European giants face off in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie on Wednesday, with Madrid being considered overwhelming favourites to progress into the quarter-finals.

FBL-EUR-C1-REALMADRID-TRAINING

According to Spanish publication ​AS, a clutch of Ajax ultras were involved in causing a huge commotion near where Madrid were staying overnight, with a number of fireworks and bangers being set off.

It was reported that the fans were not aware of the exact location of Madrid’s hotel, and so set about causing as much disruption as possible in the surrounding De Pijp district in Amsterdam between 2:30 and 4:00 in the morning.

The incident led to both the Dutch police and Los Blancos’ own security detail to pour on to the streets looking to calm the situation, with AS further claiming that around four people were arrested for their part in the disturbances. 

Employees at the Hotel Akura, where Santiago Solari’s side were staying, called the police, but it was another hour and a half before the Ajax fans could either be dispersed or rounded up. 

The tactic has drawn comparisons with what Paris Saint-Germain fans did ahead of their own Champions League clash with ​Real Madrid last year, where the French side’s ultras used firecrackers, drums and horns to cause a commotion.

Unfortunately for PSG, Madrid went on to win 2-1 however, with La Liga side once again likely to be confident of putting aside the distractions to claim a crucial away leg victory against Ajax this time around.​

Let’

Bayern Loanee James Rodriguez ‘Not Sold’ on Potential Summer Move to the Premier League

On loan Bayern Munich midfielder James Rodriguez is reportedly not keen on any potential move to the Premier League

The Colombian midfielder has been on loan at Bayern Munich since the summer of 2017, from his parent club, Real Madrid. James’ future however, remains in the balance, with the Bavarians weighing up the option of excising the purchase option in his loan agreement for 42m. 

James Rodriguez

However, ​Marca have revealed the James’ isn’t keen on staying in Germany – nor a move to the Premier League – and would rather return to ​​Real Madrid​,

The Colombian midfielder signed for Los Blancos following his personal success in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. ​Rodriguez though, struggled to find his feet in Madrid, where he was constantly left out of the team playing second fiddle to Isco. 

The lack of playing time at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu led to Rodriguez requesting a loan transfer. His wish was granted in the form of his move to ​Bayern, but with the deal expiring this summer, his future is once again in the balance. 

Cristiano Ronaldo

One of the possibilities that has opened up is Premier League side ​Arsenal, but James has revealed that the Premier League doesn’t particularly excited him. James would rather remain in Madrid and push into the first team, and if that option doesn’t come through, he could look to join former teammate ​Cristiano Ronaldo at ​Juventus.

Rodriguez has shown glimpses of his best form at Bayern this season, with four goals and four assists, but has failed to perform consistently in Bavaria. With the end of the season and an impending summer transfer window looming, James’ future looks set to be decided sooner rather than later.

Let’

10 Youngest Players to Score in the Champions League

Scoring is one of the best feelings in the world, but grabbing a goal in the Champions League is a feeling like no other.

And for young players, scoring in the Champions League can be the beginning of something magical – as they demonstrate to the world that they are capable of mixing it with the very best that European football has to offer.

We’ve seen plenty of young blossoming talent bursting on to the biggest stage in European competition with a bang – so here, we look at the 10 youngest players to have ever found the back of the net in the Champions League..

10. Mariyan Ognyanov: 18 years & 59 days

Manuel Konrad,Mariyan Ognyanov,Velin Damyanov

Levski Sofia (vs Chelsea) 2006/07 season.

Just two months after he celebrated his 18th birthday, Ognyanov found himself scoring Levski’s first ever goal in the Champions League. 

The goal only served as a consolation as Levski lost the game 3-1, but it was a moment that Ognyanov will never forget. To date, he has failed to score again in the Champions League – and Levski have yet to qualify for the competition again.

9. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 18 years & 44 days

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Arsenal (vs Olympiakos) 2011/12 season.

With this goal, Oxlade-Chamberlain become the youngest English goalscorer in the Champions League, getting his goal just eight minutes into his debut.

He had only joined the Gunners a month previously from Southampton, and enjoyed a run to the last 16 of the competition – with Milan ultimately triumphing over Arsene Wenger’s side.

8. Karim Benzema: 17 years & 355 days

Lyon's French forward Karim Benzema (L)

Lyon (vs Rosenborg) 2005/06 season.

Karim Benzema grabbed his first professional goal in Lyon’s 2-1 victory over Rosenborg, introducing himself into the first team picture in the best way possible.

The Ligue 1 heavyweights were eventually knocked out in the quarter-finals by Italian giants AC Milan – but not before Benzema had demonstrated that he would be more than capable of making it on the world’s stage.

7. Aaron Ramsey: 17 years & 299 days

Arsenal's Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey

Arsenal (vs Fenerbahce) 2008/09 season.

Aaron Ramsey’s goal against Fenerbahce ensured that he became only the second player born in the 1990s to score in the Champions League – sealing a comprehensive 5-2 win for the Gunners. 

Arsenal would make it all the way to the semi-finals, were they were knocked out by arch rivals Manchester United 4-1 on aggregate.

6. Breel Embolo: 17 years & 263 days

FBL-EUR-C1-BASEL-LUDOGORETS

Basel (vs Ludogorets) 2014/15 season.

The Swiss striker announced his name to the world aged just 16 when he scored four minutes into his Basel debut. It wouldn’t take long for Embolo to then score at Champions League level, in a season where he would score an impressive 17 times.

Basel were eliminated in the round of 16 by FC Porto, with their 4-0 second leg defeat ensuring they lost convincingly on aggregate.

5. Martin Klein: 17 years & 240 days

Czech AC Sparta Prague goalkeeper Petr C

Sparta Prague (vs Panathinakos) 2001/02 season.

Martin Klein is not a name that will be familiar to many, but he does currently stand as the fifth youngest goalscorer in Champions League history.

The teenager netted a late goal in Sparta’s 2-1 loss – though it would count for very little in the long run as they failed to progress from a group that included eventual winners Real Madrid.

4. Cesc Fabregas: 17 years, 218 days

Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas (Front) celebrat

Arsenal (vs Rosenborg) 2004/05 season.

Cesc Fabregas’ introduction on to the world’s stage came in a Highbury demolition job – with Norwegian champions Rosenborg the unfortunate victims.

The Spaniard’s goal came in a 5-1 win and was the most moment of significance in what would turn out to be an illustrious European career for Fabregas. Bayern Munich would knock Arsenal out of the competition before they could really get going though, claiming a narrow 3-2 aggregate win.

3. Bojan Krkic: 17 years & 217 days

Bojan Krkic

Barcelona (vs Schalke) 2007/08 season.

Bojan began his career with a bang, becoming the first player born in the 1990s to score a Champions League goal. 

He netted the only goal in a quarter-final first leg tie away at Schalke, breaking Lionel Messi’s record of being the youngest player to represent Barça. The Catalan giants reached the semi-finals, before narrowly losing to eventual winners Manchester United.

2. Mateo Kovacic: 17 years & 215 days

Mateo Kovacic

Dinamo Zagreb (vs Lyon), 2011/12 season.

Mateo Kovacic put his name up in lights after surprisingly putting Dinamo 1-0 up against Ligue 1 favourites Lyon – though his side would eventually go to concede seven!

The Croatian went onto become one of Zagreb’s key players, earning the captaincy before moving on to Inter in 2013. His goal in the 2011/12 campaign meant very little in the end – with Zagreb ending that season’s competition with six defeats out of six.

1. Peter Ofori-Quaye: 17 years & 195 days

Peter Oforiquaye

Olympiacos (vs Rosenborg) 1997/98 season.

Here we have it, the youngest goal scorer in Champions League history – Ghanaian striker Peter Ofori-Quaye.

Coming off the bench, he produced a superb turn and neat finish to become a history maker – though his goal unfortunately came amidst a Rosenborg spanking. He would go on to score three further Champions League goals in his career, but his career would drift off into obscurity after being released by Olympiacos in 2003.

Let’

Real Madrid President Florentino Perez Claims Karim Benzema Is the ‘Best Striker in the World’

Florentino Perez has claimed that Real Madrid do not need to invest in a new striker as Karim Benzema is already the best in the world.

Los Blancos have come under fire in recent years for their reluctance to splash out on marquee signings, with the club opting to focus on developing young talents to support the current squad which has achieved great success over the past few seasons.

FBL-FRA-BALLONDOR-GALA

Speaking in an interview with France Football, as per ​Sport, Perez defended ​Real’s recent transfer policy and boasted that they still have the best squad in world football – as well as having the best striker in the world to lead the line.

“​I insist that we have the best squad in the world and the trophies we’ve won prove that right. We will not spend for spending’s sake,” said Perez.

Karim Benzema

“For example, I’ve read and heard some media say for years that Madrid need to sign a No 9 when the reality clearly shows ​Karim Benzema is the best striker in the world.

“What we are doing in any case is bringing in young players who will be important in the future, like Vinicius or Rodrygo.”

Perez also went on to discuss his admiration for Paris Saint-Germain and their president Nasser Al-Khelaifi, insisting that there is a place for the French outfit among Europe’s elite.

“PSG is a great club already and they’re friends of ours, part of elite football. There’s no need to give them that much advice because they already have French football where it deserves to be. Nasser Al-Khelaifi has done excellent work. To get further and become bigger still, there’s no secret, all they need is time.”

Let’

Paulo Dybala to Real Madrid Rumours Quashed by Juventus Sporting Director

​Juventus’ sporting director, Fabio Paratici, has insisted that forward Paulo Dybala will remain at the club despite recent rumours linking the Argentinian with a move to Real Madrid. 

Dybala, 25, has been with the Turin-based club since his £35m move from Palermo in 2015, although he has struggled this season, scoring just five goals in 28 appearances this campaign, five of which have come in the Champions League, while also providing six assists across all competitions. 

Paulo Dybala

As a result of his apparent unrest, ​Real Madrid, among other European giants ​including Manchester City and Bayern Munich, have been keeping tabs on the forward, although Paratici has been keen to quash rumours of ​Dybala’s possible departure. 

“Dybala is staying,” the sporting director said, speaking to Italian media outlet ​La Gazetta dello Sport. 

“Only people who want to go will leave Juve. I repeat, it is difficult to find better players than those we already have.


“It is difficult. Maybe [Lionel] Messi, even with Neymar I’d have my doubts. And Dybala is someone who is always available. He plays every game.”

​Juventus currently hold an 11-point lead at the summit of Serie A ahead of Napoli in second place, as the club look to win their eighth consecutive league title. 

Paulo Dybala,Massimiliano Allegri

A league triumph would be the fifth overseen by manager Massimiliano Allegri since being appointed as Juventus’ manager in 2014, with Paratici keen to address rumours linking the current Juve boss with Los Blancos. 

He added: “I believe he will stay. I really don’t see a better manager.”

Let’