Twitter Reacts as UCL Draw Leaves Spurs in Group of Death But Man Utd & Liverpool Fans Happy

​So the Champions League draw has come and gone, but we’ll be talking about it for some time.

The tournament has pitted the 32 qualifying teams against each other, coming up with some mouthwatering groups.

The likes of Manchester United and Liverpool look to have easier groups to get through, while Spurs, Chelsea and Celtic will have their work cut out for them.

You can find the full draw below, as some of the best reactions from Twitter users below: 

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Cristiano Ronaldo Wins UEFA’s Best Player in Europe Award for 2016/17 Season

Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has been named Best Player in Europe for the 2016/17 season by UEFA following his stellar campaign.

Ronaldo, who also won the prize this time last year, was part of the final three-man shortlist alongside Barcelona rival Lionel Messi and Juventus living legend Gianluigi Buffon.

The 32-year-old managed 42 goals in all competitions for Real in 2016/17, actually his lowest tally since his debut season with Los Blancos, but finished the campaign with a La Liga triumph, only the club’s second since 2008 after years of Barcelona dominance.

Ronaldo also steered Real to further Champions League glory as the Spanish giants became the first European champions to successfully retain their title since Milan in 1990, and the very first in the Champions League era, breaking the infamous ‘curse’.

Messi had won a record equalling fourth career European Golden Shoe in 2016/17, while Buffon was a domestic double winner in Italy and Champions League finalist.

Buffon had earlier been presented with UEFA’s Goalkeeper of the Season award.

Sergio Ramos was named Defender of the Season, while Real Madrid team-mate Luka Modric is the Midfielder of the Season and Ronaldo was unsurprisingly voted UEFA Forward of the Season on top of his overall individual award.

Netherlands and Barcelona midfielder Lieke Martens won the prize as UEFA Women’s Player of the Season following her recent success at Euro 2017.



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Madrid to Tie Down 5 First-Team Players to New Contracts as They Seek to Continue Dominance

Real Madrid’s dominance at the highest level of European football is set to continue as the club prepares to give a number of key players new long term contracts in the Spanish capital.

The homegrown trio of Isco, Marco Asensio and Dani Carvajal are all set to be rewarded by the club by having their futures tied down to the Santiago Bernabéu, while the Brazilian international duo of Marcelo and Casemiro are also going to be offered extended contracts in Madrid, according to Marca.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos and Luka Modrić all renewed their contracts with Real Madrid last season. This consistency in keeping players tied to the club for long periods of time is what has helped Madrid overtake their Spanish rivals Barcelona in the search for European dominance.

While manager Zinedine Zidane will sign a new contract at the club until 2020, it has also been reported that his compatriot, Karim Benzema, will put pen to paper in the near future. The French striker’s current contract is set to expire in 2019, exactly 10 years after moving to the Spanish capital from hometown club Lyon.

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Real Madrid have made just two signings so far this summer, snapping up Atlético Madrid full-back Theo Hernández and Real Betis star Dani Ceballos for a combined £42m. The latter was the recipient of UEFA U21 Euro’s Player of the Tournament award this summer, helping Spain claim a runners up spot after defeat to Germany in the final.


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Zinedine Zidane Takes Leap of Faith & Signs New Contract That Keeps Him in Madrid Until 2020

Real Madrid manager and club legend Zinedine Zidane has renewed his contract at the Santiago Bernabéu without entering negotiations with president Florentino Pérez, according to Marca.

The 45-year-old has brought incredible success to the senior Real Madrid side over the last 17 months, winning two Champions League titles since his promotion from the manager of the Real Madrid Castilla team.

The Frenchman’s new contract will tie him down to the Spanish capital until 2020, a two-year extension of his initial deal in charge of Los Blancos. 

The question of whether Zidane would put pen to paper on a new contract at the Bernabéu was more a question of when not if. 

Just like he did when he was promoted from the Castilla side, Zidane has been careful with his timing on announcing his contract extension in an attempt not to distract the players.

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Zidane’s son, Enzo, decided to leave Real Madrid this summer in search of regular first team football. 

The French U19 international has ended a 13-year spell in the Spanish capital in which he made one senior appearance for Real Madrid, getting his name on the scoresheet during a 6-1 victory against Cultural Leonesa in the Copa del Rey.


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Atletico Madrid Persist with Marcos Llorente Chase Despite Real’s Reluctance to Sell

One of the most promising young players in Spain, Marcos Llorente is currently involved in a tug of war in Madrid. 

After coming through the youth ranks at Real, city rivals Atlético are now desperate to sign the versatile 22-year-old. However, Los Rojiblancos are facing resistance from Zinedine Zidane.

Llorente, who can play either in midfield or defence, spent last season on loan at Deportivo Alavés.

According to Spanish radio station Onda Cero, Llorente’s transfer to the Wanda Metropolitano is a priority for Atlético, while Premier League champions Chelsea also hold an interest in the Spanish U21 international.

Real Madrid manager Zidane is against selling the youngster, especially to their local rivals. One player has already made the switch between Madrid clubs this summer, with Atlético full-back Theo Hernández moving to the Santiago Bernabéu in a £27m transfer. 

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Also unknown at this time last season, Hernández shined as a teammate of Llorente’s at Deportivo Alavés last year.

Reluctant to sell to their rivals, Real Madrid are under no financial constraints that would make them consider allowing Llorente to leave and there is an impressive young contingent of stars accumulating at the Bernabéu this season. 

Wonderkid Marco Asensio will be joined by 21-year-old Dani Ceballos in the Real Madrid midfield this season, having completed a £15m move from Real Betis earlier this summer.


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Real Madrid Goalkeeper Keylor Navas’ Brilliant Record at Saving Penalties Revealed

​Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas may have his fair share of critics, but there is no denying he is formidable shot-stopper. 

While his handling can go astray from time to time and his kicking sometimes leave a little to be desired, the Costa Rica international remains a tremendously athletic goalie between the sticks and, perhaps more impressively, a tricky man to beat at penalties.

The 30-year-old has remarkably saved half of the spot-kicks that he has faced as Madrid’s number one, according to ​Madrid’s website, with his most heroic act coming during the 3-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna, diving to his right to keep out Florin Andone’s effort.

Navas has faced eight penalties as Madrid’s goalkeeper, saving four of them, and his record for Los Blancos in the league is bettered only by Diego Alves.

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Navas’ spot at Real Madrid has been under constant scrutiny, with many fans of Zinedine Zidane’s side hopeful the club can secure the signing of Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea.

However, the Spaniard remains a Red Devils player and Navas has done well regardless, proving to be a tricky man to beat behind Madrid’s tough defence, which features the likes of Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane and Dani Carvajal.

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Zidane Admits ‘Anything Can Happen’ Before End of Transfer Window as Liverpool Eye Kovacic

​Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has refused to rule out any exits from Santiago Bernabeu as Liverpool secure a verbal agreement to sign midfielder Mateo Kovačić, according to Spanish outlet ​Diario Gol.

The Croatian playmaker has reportedly been unhappy with his recent lack of game-time and is keen on a move to Merseyside.

Real have already fended off interest in several of their stars this summer, but there is still uncertainty over Kovačić‘s future and it has been suggested that Liverpool would be willing to double the 23-year-old’s wages.

Following victory over Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday, Madrid manager Zidane was not directly asked about Kovačić, but did not rule out any departures from the club.

He stated: “I like the squad I’ve got and I hope that there are no changes to it, but up until 31 August anything can happen.”

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Kovačić started his career at his native Dinamo Zagreb and played 97 times for Italian giants Inter Milan before sealing a €29m move to Los Blancos.

The Croatian is yet another midfielder being linked with a move to Anfield and it is believed that manager Jürgen Klopp is still looking for a new central midfielder after failing to land previous targets Naby Keita and Jean-Michael Seri.

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Despite having already spent around £55m this summer, and perhaps more if Barcelona-bound Coutinho does leave, it is believed that the Reds will bring in at least one more signing before the transfer window closes.

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Sergio Ramos Blames Jealousy of Madrid’s Success Behind Poor Refereeing Decisions

​Sergio Ramos has claimed jealousy of Real Madrid’s success is behind refereeing decisions which have gone against them in recent weeks, including his sending off in Madrid’s opening game of the season.

Madrid began their title challenge with a trip to Deportivo La Coruna, and they made light work of it. Goals from Gareth Bale, Casemiro and Ton Kross gave Madrid the three points after a comfortable 3-0 victory, however the game ended on a moment of controversy after Madrid captain Ramos was shown a second yellow card deep into injury time.

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His first yellow card came after an altercation with Deportivo defender Fabian Schar, in which Ramos claimed he was trying to push the defender away after the opposition players “ganged up on him”, and his second yellow came after an aerial duel with substitute Borja Valle in which he raised his elbow which the referee saw as malicious.

This incident came the week after manager Zinedine Zidane publicly slammed the Spanish FA’s decision to ban Cristiano Ronaldo for five games for pushing the referee after he was sent off against Barcelona.

Following the 18th La Liga red card of his career, Ramos told ​Cadenaser: “We can all talk freely. Not everybody likes that we are doing well, but we sleep fine every night. There were some controversial moments. It was most important to begin with a win, but when you end up off the pitch after a harsh decision with the second yellow…”

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He even went onto claim that English referees can be more lenient, speaking from his experiences in the Champions League and playing for Spain.

He added: “I don’t think decisions are made in advance, but sometimes people should pay more attention.

“Maybe referees allow more in the Champions League and in internationals. We should look a bit more at the English model, where they let more things go. They also look back more on events afterwards, and are punishing dives now. That is better than what we do here.”

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Ramos defended his performance against Deportivo, and maintained his belief that the second yellow card he received for raising an elbow during an aerial bout was harsh.

He said: “I just watched it back 10 times, and there was no intention to hurt the opponent. The referee interpreted it like this. You must respect that, [but] I was just supporting myself in the air. I jumped much higher and only made contact with his shoulder.”

ESPN reported that Madrid’s director of institutional relations Emilio Butragueno has suggested the club will look to appeal Ramos’ second yellow in order for him to play at home to Valencia next Sunday.

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Former Coach Rene Meulensteen Reveals How He Helped Hone Cristiano Ronaldo’s Goalscoring Skills

​Former Manchester United coach Rene Meulensteen has revealed how he helped to improve a young Cristiano Ronaldo’s goalscoring abilities.

Ronaldo emerged as one of the world’s best in the 2007/08 season at Old Trafford scoring 31 goals in the Premier League.

And Dutch coach Meulensteen has recalled how he and his backroom staff had worked to turn the Portuguese forward into the unerringly clinical scoring machine he later became.

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“He was suspended for the first few games [after being sent off at Portsmouth], so every time the team went off I’d stay to work with him,” Meulensteen said in an interview with ​Training Ground Guru. “A lot of the time it was just me and him. We worked on his appreciation of scoring goals.

“He always wanted to score the perfect goal, a 25-yarder into the top corner. I told him you will get in many more positions to score than that – and you can learn from the great scorers United have had, Law, Van Nistelrooy, Cole, Yorke, Solskjaer.

“One of the main things was setting targets. Research has shown that people who set clear targets have a lot more success than those who don’t. I still remember the exchange we had at Carrington: ‘How many goals did you score last season?’ ‘23’. ‘Well, you should go for 40.’ ‘What?! Nearly double?’ ‘But you’ve never even practised finishing properly before.’

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“With Mick [Phelan] and Carlos we set about the process of making him aware about his position and making him understand what to do in different positions. We did a lot of work on finishing from different angles. 

“I had a format where I divided the penalty area into zones and you think about what to do in each of the different zones – lace kick, chip, inside foot, one touch or two, do you move into a different zone and so on.

“Then you break down the key elements of what makes a good finish. So now he’s aware of position, the type of ball coming in, how he’s going to receive it and the type of finish.

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“The free kick was another one he started to work on. That was his idea. The only thing I said was, ‘take a step to the side, so your approach is more natural with your leg.’ We filmed it so he could see the difference and he developed and evolved it. He wanted to get better and put the practice in.”

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Sergio Ramos Equals Unwanted La Liga Record After Years of Questionable On-Field Discipline

Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos equalled a La Liga record that is not exactly one to celebrate over the weekend when he was shown a red card towards the end of a 3-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna to kick off the new Spanish league season.

Ramos had been involved in an incident with Deportivo’s Fabian Schar earlier in the game, for which he was cautioned, and was given his marching orders after an aerial challenge with Borja Valle.

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For Ramos, who is known for his all-action style, which often results in hugely influential involvement at both ends of the pitch, it was the 18th La Liga red card of his career to date.

That tied the record and no other player in the history of the Spanish top flight has now been sent off more prolifically than Ramos.

The two other players on 18 reds are former Real Zaragoza, Racing Santander and Sevilla defender Pablo Alfaro, who was active in La Liga from 1989 to 2007, and Xavi Aguado, another associated with Real Zaragoza after a 13-year spell with the club between 1990 and 2003.

Ramos has been active in La Liga since 2004 when he made his senior debut for Sevilla. He received his first Real Madrid red card in September 2005 during a clash with Espnayol.


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