9 Incredible Things That Happened Since Luis Suarez Last Scored an Away Goal in the Champions League

?Luis Suarez is undoubtedly one of the great strikers of the past decade. He has been a huge hit at Barcelona since he joined five years ago, scoring goal after goal, winning trophy after trophy and even picking up the Champions League back in 2015.

Weirdly enough though, 2015 was the last time the Uruguayan scored an away Champions League goal for Barça.

Suarez drew a blank again as Barcelona toiled against Dortmund in their mid-week stalemate, and the former Liverpool hitman’s homesickness is becoming a major worry for the club in their hunt for another European trophy. 

Luis Suarez,Mats Hummels

Four years is a long time in football and a lot of things have happened on planet Earth in the time that he has been trying so desperately to score an away goal in Europe. 

Here’s just a quick sample of them.


Kanye West came out as a Donald Trump supporter – and even donned a MAGA hat

This was really weird. And random. One of the all time great musical artists – an icon to black people – suddenly became a huge fan of…Donald Trump.

Kanye West went on to state his admiration for the American president regularly over the next few months, and even proceeded to set up a meeting with him, hug him and tell him how much he loved him.

Barack Obama was still in the oval office the last night Suarez found the net on the road.


Real Madrid won the Champions League…three times

Oooh yeah, this one is probably going to hurt ?Barca fans. Three back to back Champions League titles to their arch rivals, led by the evergreen Cristiano Ronaldo.

At least they won’t have to worry about Madrid winning another one any time soon.


Lionel Messi has scored 191 goals for Barcelona

In these last four years, Lionel Messi has scored 191 goals in all competitions. It’s staggering really. 191. O-N-E H-U-N-D-R-E-D A-N-D N-I-N-E-T-Y O-N-E. Players gain legendary status for scoring that many in a career. He does it in four years.

Lionel Messi


You have taken around 33,638,400 breaths

Funnily enough, you’d think you’d have taken more over the course of four years. Messi probably takes more.


Brexit

While the first use of the word ‘Brexit’ predates Suarez last away goal (against Roma in September 2015), the family dividing, news dominating sh*tshow wasn’t to fully come until after the Uruguayan’s last strike.

In 2016, 52% of the country voted to leave the European Union. Three years later, we aren’t any closer to knowing what the **** is going on.

Chances are, if Suarez didn’t score for another four years, you could probably copy and paste this little section to a very similar list.


Messi retired from international football…then came back again

After the Copa America final defeat to Chile in 2016, Messi was so devastated, he decided to retire from international football.

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This was a very temporary retirement though, as the Argentinean announced his return soon after. I’m sure he missed the feeling of failing in another major tournament. 


Iron Man died (sorry, spoiler alert)

Avengers Endgame became the highest grossing film of all time, finally displacing Avatar. It ended up smashing record after record, and a lot of that was down to Robert Downey Jr’s take on Iron Man.

I’m not crying, you are.


Arsenal still can’t defend

To be honest, this one didn’t seem big enough to go on the list. But, you know. It’s just funny.


Boris Johnson called Jeremy Corbyn a chlorinated chicken

Our Prime Minister goaded a fellow politician by calling him a, ‘chlorinated chicken’. Need I say more? 

Please just score Luis. The world is getting very weird.

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Exclusive: Juan Sebastián Veron on the Best Coach He Worked With & Playing With Maradona & Messi

A two-time Scudetto winner, Juan Sebastián Veron was one of the stars of Serie A in his generation, with his performances at Sampdoria, Parma, Lazio and Internazionale lighting up the Italian top flight in the 1990s and 2000s. 

The Argentine was part of the Lazio side that ended their 26-year wait for the Scudetto and won the UEFA Cup with that Parma team that also included Gianluigi Buffon, Hernan Crespo and Lilian Thuram.

Gianluigi Buffon

A box-to-box, engine-room creator and free-kick specialist, Veron played at three World Cups, while has had the rare privilege of playing alongside both Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona.

?La Brujita caught up with 90min for part two of an exclusive chat about his distinguished career, his best ever coach and the differences between Messi and Maradona.


You played in both the Premier League and Serie A. What are the major differences between the two leagues?

I arrived in ?Serie A at the best time for that league. It was rich in names and football. [It is] a very difficult championship because it’s a very tactical tournament. The Premier League is the opposite – free from all tactics and is about constantly going up and down the pitch. That makes it much easier on the eyes than the Italian league.


You worked with Sir Alex Ferguson. But who was the best coach you ever had and why?

I didn’t pay much attention to the tactical details. In reality, I played, I paid attention, I knew what was being said – because obviously you are obviously within a group – but I always paid a lot of attention to team management, always. For me, the best at that who I worked with was Sven-Goran Eriksson.

I hardly ever experienced any kind of problems in his teams. And they were groups with strong personalities. He got on with everyone very well and ultimately that made us win, especially at Lazio.

?In Serie A, do you think Inter can end Juventus’ reign in Serie A?

The advantage that ?Juve has over others is that they have maintained their identity. Although the Italian league has had many problems, they’ve maintained that identity, that strength of club, of society.

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?Inter has changed hands. Today it seems that it is normalising that situation. As happened to Milan, at Inter a family with very important roots within the club has left. Moratti has gone, like with Berlusconi at Milan.

They are teams that have their history, that are finding, or trying to find, their identity. Juventus obviously kept it. Then they jumped ahead of the rest. Hopefully at some point in the Italian championship, as it was in our time, we will have a title race not only of three teams. During my time it was seven and that makes it much more attractive.

You are rare in that you played with both Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi. What are the differences between the two as players?

The era, the speed of football. The personalities, in a good way. Diego marked an era and today Messi is marking his own with different personalities, and different ways to play football.

They are undoubtedly two historic players and we are lucky that they are Argentine.

Argentina's striker Lionel Messi (L) rea

Which one was better?

It is difficult, very complex. Some say Maradona, because he won a World Cup. Those who did not see Maradona and did see Messi are going to tell you Messi. I think those kinds of comparisons with players that have given us so much in football seem very unfair. Such discussions lead to nothing, they seem useless.

Do you think Maradona as a manager can save his new side Gimnasia from relegation?

In football, anything can happen. Undoubtedly [his arrival] generated great enthusiasm. Enthusiasm helps to diffuse many football differences. Then it will depend on the talent of his coaches, his talent and what he can generate on the field. 

Diego Maradona,Juan Sebastian Veron


You can read part one of Juan Sebastián Verón’s exclusive interview with 90min ?here – where he discusses his time in the Premier League with Manchester United, his biggest career regret and the best player he played with.

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5 Way Too Early Predictions About the 2019/20 Champions League After Matchday 1

?The UEFA Champions League roared back into life this week for matchday one of the 2019/20 season, bringing goals, drama and plenty of memorable moments.

Here are five way too early predictions about what will happen in the rest of the campaign…


Dinamo Zagreb Won’t Finish Bottom of Their Group

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Perennial Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb have never been able to translate their domestic dominance into any kind of European success and the club has finished bottom of their Champions League group every time they have reached this stage since 1999.

In both 2011/12 and 2016/17, Dinamo lost all six games. In 2012/13, they got a solitary point, while in 2015/16 they actually beat Arsenal, but lost every other game and still finished fourth.

This time, they have made a flying start by thrashing Italian debutants Atalanta 4-0 on matchday one – winger Miroslav Orsic scored a hat-trick – and will hope to build on that; maybe even eventually matching their 1998/99 group stage points tally of eight.

Manchester City and Shakhtar Donetsk are the other teams in the group.


Inter Will Flop

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Having, at last, returned to the Champions League last season after a six-year absence, then hiring revered coach Antonio Conte and signing Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez, Diego Godin and rising Italy starlet Nicolo Barella over the summer, and making a flying start to their Serie A campaign, Inter had been billed as a dark horse in Europe’s elite competition in 2019/20.

They were always going to be up against it after being put in a group with Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund, but the Nerazzurri couldn’t even beat Slavia Prague at home to get three points on the board on matchday one, while the other giants entertained each other.

It took a 92nd minute equaliser from Barella just to salvage one point at San Siro after Peter Olayinka had put Slavia on course for a famous win. Unless Inter are going to seriously pull it out of the bag against Barcelona and Dortmund later, they really needed maximum points.


The Top Scorer Will Be Someone ‘New’

FC Salzburg vs KRC Genk  - Champions League Group E

Either Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo has been top scorer in the Champions League every season since 2007. The only player who came close to breaking that dominance was Neymar when he tied as joint top scorer with both on 10 goals back in the 2014/15 campaign.

But neither got on the scoresheet on matchday one. Ronaldo’s Juventus scored twice, but he didn’t net either of them, while Messi was returning from injury and only played half an hour of Barcelona’s 0-0 draw against Borussia Dortmund.

There is no doubt that will change, but is it not possible to at least think there might be someone else at the top of the pile for the first time in 12 years?

Red Bull Salzburg could be a surprise package this year. The Austrian champions, who ruthlessly tore apart Genk on Tuesday, have good Europa League pedigree and the longer they stay in the more chance there is for the frightening Erling Håland to add to his tally.

There will be others who fancy their chances – Kylian Mbappe, for one, who will be aided by Paris Saint-Germain’s usual habit of scoring prolifically in the group stage. Liverpool pair Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are others to obviously keep an eye on.


One English Club Won’t Make It Out of the Group Stage

Frank Lampard

Despite Premier League dominance of last season’s Champions League, Manchester City were the only English club to begin the new campaign with a win this week.

Liverpool were beaten in Napoli, while Chelsea lost to Valencia, and Tottenham underperformed during a draw with Olympiacos.

One would expect holders Liverpool to turn things around, although their European away record is now six defeats from their last eight games (excluding neutral finals). The Reds struggled to even get through the group last season, relying on a home win against Napoli on matchday six.

Tottenham will also fancy their chances of recovery, not least because they have made something of a habit of European comebacks over the last 12 months.

The English side most in danger of early elimination is Chelsea. Say what you like, but Frank Lampard is a second-year manager with no experience coaching at this level, while the young players who have been driving the team back home are equally untested in European football.

Defeat at home to a Valencia side in disarray at the start of this season was a bad way to start, and they now find themselves in a very open group where Ajax pose an even greater threat.


Atletico Madrid or Juventus Will Reach the Final

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They lost four consecutive finals between from 2014 to 2017 and this year could be the year that either Atletico Madrid or Juventus return to the showpiece event.

The clubs played out a thrilling 2-2 draw at Wanda Metropolitano on matchday one and seem to be among the best equipped to gar far as weaker Real Madrid and Barcelona sides struggle to live up to their previous lofty standards.

Paris Saint-Germain, 3-0 victors over Real this week, have hardly given reason in recent years to suggest they can last the distance after often fading when the knockout stages come around, while Bayern Munich have been getting further and further away from European glory.


Champions League matchday two will take place next month on 1/2 October.

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Ronaldo: Looking Back at 6 of The Brazilian’s Most Iconic Moments on His Birthday

That lightning acceleration. That Brazilian flair. That dodgy haircut. 

We all have our own memories of Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima, or simply ‘Ronaldo’. The big man burst onto the scene whilst playing for PSV Eindhoven, and terrorised defences with his breathtaking speed, quick feet and ability to round any goalkeeper on the planet. 

Brazil's forward Ronaldo, wrapped in the

Ronaldo is considered one of the greatest footballers to have ever walked this earth, and he truly was a joy to watch. The two-time Ballon d’Or winner played with such a grace and speed that he made the game look so easy – a sign of an elite player. 

As football fans, we were privileged to watch the genius at work for a number of years, but his plaguing knee injuries undoubtedly robbed us all of many more historic goals and tricks. 

The former Brazil international is a footballing legend, and it’s only fair that we look back at the great man’s most iconic moments on his 43rd birthday. 


Hat-Trick vs Bayer Leverkusen in 1994 

This is the night where it all began for Ronaldo. He was making a name for himself in Holland with PSV, but the teenager burst onto the European stage in an exhilarating encounter against Bayer Leverkusen in the UEFA Cup. 

Ronaldo, unknown to most at the time, single-handedly destroyed the Leverkusen defence in one of the most impressive individual displays of all time. Although the crumbling Eindhoven backline continued to ship goals, this irrepressible youngster stunned the world with his frightening pace, rocket-powered shots and deft touch in front of goal. 


Ronaldo bagged a hat-trick on the night, his second goal a wonder-strike from 25 yards, and although PSV fell to a 5-4 defeat in Germany, the Brazilian wonderkid had given the world a glimpse of what was to come over the next decade. 


Barcelona Goal vs SD Compostela 

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Still incredibly young and raw, Ronaldo was taking the world by storm. It’s a crying shame that the Brazilian only spent one season at Camp Nou, but he certainly made the most of his time with the Catalan club.

The ?Barca striker scored an incredible 47 goals in 49 appearances for La Blaugrana and the majority of them were pieces of art, but his goal against SD Compostela ranks highest of all. 

Picking up the ball in his own half, Ronaldo danced away from a challenge, released himself from the grip of the most cynical shirt-pull of all time, and set off on a storming charge towards a visibly quaking backline. 

O Fenomeno weaved through several tackles before rifling home, leaving Barca manager Bobby Robson gobsmacked on the touchline. A goal so good, no one in the stadium could truly believe it had happened.


UEFA Cup Final Goal vs Lazio 

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Cup final goals are always special, but a goal to seal a win against your league rivals in European competition always tastes a little bit sweeter. ?Inter striker Ronaldo wrapped up a 3-0 victory against fellow Serie A side Lazio, and he delivered his trademark finish which summed up the man’s brilliance.

FOOT-UEFA-INTER MILAN-LAZIO ROME

Breaking the offside trap with expert timing, Ronaldo tore away from the flagging defenders, sucked the goalkeeper in before rounding him with ease, and nonchalantly rolled the ball home. 

It was a move he produced so regularly, but no keeper in the game could live with his devastating drop of the shoulder when through on goal. 


Real Madrid Debut vs Alaves 

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Debuts are not an easy occasion for some players. So much expectation to deliver, and the world’s eyes are boring into you.

You know what helps? Scoring 61 seconds into your first match. And that’s exactly what O Fenomeno did. 

Brazilian World Cup winner Ronaldo waves

Coming on as a substitute, Ronaldo immediately got his name on the ?Real Madrid scoresheet, bringing down a difficult cross from the left and lashing a volley past the helpless goalkeeper. 

I imagine that calmed the nerves of just about everyone at the Santiago Bernabeu, although I doubt Ronaldo was too concerned to begin with. The new Galactico went on to add a second goal later in the match, and became an instant fans’ favourite in the Spanish capital.


 World Cup Final Brace  

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This was the pinnacle of the great man’s career. Ronaldo had suffered heartbreak four years prior when Brazil lost the World Cup final to France, and the young talisman had suffered a serious convulsion hours before kickoff. 

The tournament favourites entered the competition with great expectations and the weight of a nation on their shoulders, but the Samba boys duly delivered, banishing the memories of France ’98. 


Ronaldo was the star of the World Cup, and O Fenomeno ended the tournament as top scorer with eight goals; bagging a brace in the final. 

And of course, we all remember that suspect trim he rocked against Germany, which unfortunately never really caught on.


Real Madrid Hat-Trick vs Manchester United 

This is still one of the greatest moments in Champions League history, and Ronaldo’s Real Madrid treble is considered one of the best hat-tricks that football has ever witnessed. 

The Spanish giants rode into Manchester brimming with confidence, and O Fenomeno delivered one of the outstanding performances of his career against Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. 

?His first goal was a brilliant first-time finish, catching goalkeeper Fabien Barthez by surprise, lashing the ball fiercely in at the near post. 

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Ronaldo’s second goal was a tap-in, finishing off some neat buildup play, but the pièce de résistance however, was his hat-trick goal. 

Picking up possession midway inside the ?Man Utd half, the Madrid number 11 took a few strides forward, shifted the ball onto his right foot, and unleashed a vicious effort which somehow curled, dipped and arrowed past Barthez. 

Ronaldo was applauded off the pitch by the entire Old Trafford crowd, which tells us all we need to know about one of football’s greatest servants. 

Parabéns O Fenomeno!


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Ansu Fati Set for New Five Year Barcelona Deal Just Months After Incredulous Newcastle Links

Barcelona prodigy Ansu Fati is poised to pen a new contract at Camp Nou, despite signing an improved three-year-deal as recently as July. 

The news follows an incredible three weeks for the 16-year-old, where he has scored two La Liga goals and made his Champions League debut against Borussia Dortmund.

His new contract – as reported by Radio Catalunya via as.com – will include a signing on bonus of €700,000, although his base wage will depend on whether the wonderkid retains his place in the Barcelona first team when Lionel Messi and Ousmane Dembélé return from injury.

If he does continue to start for Ernesto Valverde’s side he stands to gain a €1m salary this season – and a further €250,000 more in the next three seasons – but he will only earn €300,000 if he is demoted to the B team.

Also discussed in the negotiations were provisions to keep the 16-year-old’s brother Brahima – who is currently on loan at third tier side CD Calahorra – at the club for the foreseeable future.

This new contract represents quite a turnaround for Fati who just three months was being linked with a move away from Catalonia. 

In June, the Daily Record claimed the winger was unhappy with not being promoted to senior side at Barca and had attracted the attention of Manchester United, Borussia Dortmund and Newcastle.

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Now, the thought of Fati departing Camp Nou is inconceivable as he has been the club’s most threatening offensive player this season.

As well as scoring twice, the Guinea-Bissau born attacker also provided the assist for Frenkie de Jong’s goal against Valencia last Saturday. 

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Barcelona Improve Incredible Record Against Bundesliga Sides – Ironically Thanks to German Star

?Try as you will, huff and puff if you must, but you’re better off placing your eggs in another basket if you reckon you can beat Barcelona in a Champions League group match.

If you’re a German side, that is.

The bitter irony of the above statement is that ?Borussia Dortmund could very well have snatched a win against their ?La Liga opponents if it weren’t for…a German.


A mouth-watering clash pitting two of Europe’s heavyweights at one of the continent’s finest stadiums, the Westfalenstadion, (of course) finished 0-0. However, the home side carved out a number of decent chances and were handed the perfect opportunity to reward their performance with a goal from the penalty spot ten minutes after half-time.

Marco Reus stepped up, but was superbly denied by a flying ?Marc-Andre ter Stegen save, with the German number two picking himself up to claim the rebound with equal measures of class.

In doing so, Opta have revealed the 27-year-old goalkeeper has now saved four of the last six penalties he’s faced in the ?Champions League, offering Die Mannschaft boss Joachim Low a ?timely reminder of his undoubted ability.

While that in itself won’t have been enough to deter the ?Bundesliga side ahead of kick-off, perhaps the fact that ?Barça are now unbeaten in their last 14 group stage clashes with German sides in the competition – winning 11 and drawing three – might have done otherwise.


That incredible run stretches back to 2001, when the Catalans lost to Bayer Leverkusen in Germany. Having found themselves in front via Luis Enrique, the Catalan club were pegged back by Yildiray Bastürk before eventually being put to the sword by an Oliver Neuville second-half winner. 

However, for context, that was the season the Germans reached the final, so, hardly the most crushing defeat.

For whatever reason, La Blaugrana love taking on the Germans in the group stages. During that run they’ve seen off the likes of Werder Bremen, VfB Stuttgart, Leverkusen and Borussia Mönchengladbach. Rarely do they falter until the knockout stages, with Germany a happy hunting ground for the giants of Spanish football.

Marco Reus,Axel Witsel

All in all, Dortmund shouldn’t have bothered.

However, on a positive note for the German side, Die Borussen stopped Barça from netting in their opening fixture of a Champions League campaign for the first time since the 2009/10 season, when the club came unstuck against ?Internazionale. The Serie A side won the competition that season.

The result that day was 0-0, with Jose Mourinho’s side defensive approach paying dividends to halt a side blessed with forward talent, as per usual.

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Dortmund will take solace from their showing on Tuesday, as they also hit the crossbar in a clash that could so easily have yielded three points, but with the aforementioned stats behind them, you can only wish them good luck at Camp Nou.

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Champions League Roundup: A Star Is Born for Salzburg & Ajax Hit Cruise Control

?Admit it, you missed the Champions League, didn’t you? You’re in good company if you did, even if the 2019/20 campaign’s opening offerings weren’t quite as spectacular as we hoped they may have been.

Goals were hard to come by in some places across Europe, but they most certainly weren’t in others – specifically in Austria and Netherlands. If you weren’t able to follow the action live, here’s your rundown of how matchday one unfolded across Groups E to H.


Group E

The marquee match of this group should have been Napoli taking on Liverpool at the Stadio San Paolo stadium.

Instead, all eyes swiftly turned to the game between Salzburg and Genk as a rising star of the game introduced himself on the biggest stage of them all. Erling Haland, at just 19 years old, became just the third teenager in Champions League history to net more than one goal on his competition debut.

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Keen to prove a point, he rifled home a first half hat-trick as Salzburg ran out 6-2 winners in a barnstorming game at the Red Bull Arena. Hee-Chan Hwang, Dominik Szoboszlai and Andreas Ulmer were the other goalscorers for the hosts; John Lucumi and Mbwana Aly Samatta netting for the Belgians.

?Liverpool, holders of the Champions League, meanwhile, stumbled in their opening defence of their crown – losing 2-0 against a defensively resolute Napoli side organised beautifully by Carlo Ancelotti. You can find a full report of that game ?here.


Group F

The so-called ‘group of death’, pitting ?Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and Inter against one another, is widely expected to provide thrills, spills and entertainment for us all.

Unfortunately, the opening exchanges were anything but exciting – with slim pickings on the goal front providing little-to-no entertainment for us to get ourselves excited about.

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In Germany, Marco Reus had a penalty saved by international teammate Marc-Andre ter Stegen en-route to a 0-0 draw, while Inter had summer signing Nicolo Barella to thank for sparing their blushes against Slavia Praha – his injury time rescuing a 1-1 draw for Antonio Conte’s men at San Siro.

A full report on the Dortmund-Barcelona game can be found ?here, whilst you can fill your boots on Inter’s clash with Slavia ?here.


Group G

In one of the less glamorous groups of this season’s Champions League, it’s very much all to play for between Lyon, Zenit St Petersburg, Benfica and RB Leipzig.

All four will feel they have a good chance of progressing to the knockout stages, but it’s Bundesliga rising star Leipzig who will have the biggest grins on their faces after matchday one. Inspired by Timo Werner, who almost inevitably will move to Bayern Munich at some point (right?), the away side struck twice in the last 20 minutes to sneak a 2-1 win over Benfica in Portugal.

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Earlier in the day, former Manchester United forward Memphis Depay grabbed a vital point for Lyon as his penalty rescued a 1-1 draw against Zenit St Petersburg. Sardar Azmoun had given the visitors the lead before half-time, but it finished honours even at the Stade des Lumieres.


Group H

Finally some entertainment for us to get our teeth into, though sadly it comes at the expense of Frank Lampard’s ?Chelsea.

A goal down heading into the final five minutes, the Blues were gifted the opportunity to equalise against Valencia when they were awarded a penalty. Not the first time this season, a debate ensued over who would take it, and Ross Barkley – who won the battle of wits over usual taker Jorginho – contrived to clip the crossbar, spurning a wonderful chance to earn a point at Stamford Bridge.

Ross Barkley

Elsewhere, last season’s golden boys Ajax eased back into the European groove with a comfortable 3-0 win over Lille at the Amsterdam ArenA. Quincy Promes, Edson Alvarez and Nicolas Tagliafico were on target for the Dutch giants, as they put behind them the summer departures of Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt.


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Twitter Reacts as Quality Marc-André ter Stegen Performance Reignites Germany National Team Debate

?Borussia Dortmund carved out the majority of the clear cut chances in their Champions League group stage opener against Barcelona, but it was a familiar face in Marc-André ter Stegen who gave the visitors the best possible chance to take something from the game. 

The 27-year-old already proved why he is considered as one of the best goalkeepers on the planet by keeping out Marcu Reus in the first-half, but it was his battle with Dortmund’s captain from 12 yards which really stole the show at the Westfalenstadion.

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After Nélson Semedo brought down Jadon Sancho inside the box, Reus stepped up and fired a powerful shot which was destined to nestle in the bottom corner of the net.

But ter Stegen leapt to get a strong hand on the ball, while the former Gladbach star even got up to collect the rebound before any other player.

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??Ter Stegen’s performance back in Germany unsurprisingly prompted another conversation about who really is Die Mannschaft’s best goalkeeper.

National team manager Joachim Löw still seems to prefer Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer, but the hordes of fans on social media were eager to kick-start another debate – even if at this point the answer seems perfectly clear.

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??Did that clear things up as far as public opinion on Neuer or ter Stegen goes?

No, it didn’t for us either.

But whichever side of the fence you sit on, Neuer’s time with the national team is coming to an end and Barcelona’s ter Stegen is inevitably at the front of the queue to take up the mantle as Germany’s number one goalkeeper.

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Dortmund 0-0 Barcelona: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Ter Stegen Penalty Heroics Deny Hosts

?Barcelona held on for a draw on the opening day of the Champions League group stages against Borussia Dortmund thanks to some heroics from their goalkeeper, Marc-André ter Stegen.

It was the hosts who carved out the first chance of the game but Marco Reus couldn’t find a way past his compatriot ter Stegen on his weaker left foot, while Jadon Sancho fired the ball over the bar with an effort from the edge of the box just before half-time.

Luis Suárez created Barcelona’s first real opportunity of the match but was denied at the near post by Roman Bürki, but the visitors handed Borussia Dortmund the chance to take the lead when Nélson Semedo fouled Sancho in the penalty area.

Jadon Sancho,Nelson Semedo

Reus stepped up to test himself against ter Stegen and once again it was Barcelona’s goalkeeper who came out on top, keeping out Dortmund’s captain with a powerful left hand while also collecting the rebound.

Substitute Julian Brandt came as close as anyone to breaking the deadlock when his long-range effort rattled the crossbar, but neither side could find a winning goal before the full-time whistle was blown.


Borussia Dortmund

Key Talking Point

 

Borussia Dortmund might be used to having the majority of the ball in the Bundesliga, but Lucien Favre’s side wisely didn’t try to match Barcelona at their own game on Tuesday.

Frenkie de Jong,Thorgan Hazard

The Black and Yellows looked to stay compact and frustrate the visitors when Barça were in possession, something made possible by Mats Hummels, but it was how Borussia Dortmund transitioned from attack into defence which was their biggest threat throughout the match.

With Jadon Sancho, Marco Reus and Thorgan Hazard supporting Paco Alcácer, Dortmund’s quick one-touch passing worked wonders by exploiting areas of the pitch that were open after long spells of possession for Barcelona.

Even when Barça were able to hold onto the ball for long periods of time, the visitors were being forced to work a lot more than they’re used to in La Liga due to Borussia Dortmund’s pressing, something which made midfield maestro Arthur visibly tired even before the break.




Player Ratings

Starting XI: Burki (6); Hakimi (7), Akanji (7), Hummels (9*), Guerreiro (6); Witsel (8), Delaney (6), Reus (7); Sancho (8), Hazard (7), Alcacer (6).

Substitutes: Brandt (6), Bruun Larsen (6).


Star Man

If anyone was still unsure about Borussia Dortmund’s decision to re-sign Mats Hummels from Bayern Munich during the summer, then his performance against Barcelona did more than enough to leave no one sitting on the fence.




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The 30-year-old didn’t put a foot wrong in the first-half, breaking up attacks with perfectly timed tackles and turning over possession with smart interceptions, something which then allowed him to showcase his fantastic ability on the ball. 

Dortmund’s attacking players proved once again that they’ve got what it takes to go toe to toe with European football’s best, but Hummels’ performance highlighted the club’s one biggest improvement from last season.


Barcelona

Key Talking Point

Despite growing as the match went on, Barcelona didn’t have their first clear chance of the match until after half-time, while their hosts had already created a number of opportunities and even won themselves a penalty.

Frenkie de Jong,Lionel Messi

It was clear that Borussia Dortmund had the wind in their sails and although Lionel Messi’s introduction for the first time this season helped to bring a touch more balance to the game, it was at the other end of the pitch where Barcelona’s real superstar was on Tuesday.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Ter Stegen (8*); Semedo (6), Pique (7), Lenglet (6), Alba (6); Arthur (7), Busquets (7), de Jong (7); Fati (7), Suarez (6), Griezmann (7).

Substitutes: Roberto (6), Messi (7), Rakitic (6).


Star Man

For all of Barcelona’s match-winning players, it was actually Marc-André ter Stegen who stepped up to be counted for at the Westfalenstadion.

A strong first-half performance saw the best chances of the game thwarted, but the Germany international saved his best moment(s) for after the break, keeping Marco Reus out from the penalty spot before denying Dortmund’s came a few more times as the game went on.



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Looking Ahead

Borussia Dortmund should have the edge when Bundesliga football returns this weekend with an extra 48 hours rest compared to Eintracht Frankfurt, who face Arsenal on Thursday.

Barcelona should find things a little more straight forward on Saturday, however, as they face Granada at the Nuevo Estadio de Los Cármenes.

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90min’s Definitive European Player Power Rankings: Week Five

After an international break full of the kind of nothingness international football has practically patented (this is just a joke to impress you guys, I actually like international football), club football came back with a bang this week.

Which is why we at Power Rankings HQ had to respond with similar firepower (‘Daddy‘!*). Luckily we found it, with one of the greatest tv shows of this decade, hell, this century: ‘Atlanta‘. And seeing as it ain’t Robbin Season just yet, we’re hitting you with Season One of this Donald Glover-helmed modern classic. 

*This joke will become clear by number four.


15. Henrikh Mkhitaryan (New Entry)


“What? This is a great environment for you!”

This could be taken in the sarcastic vein that it is delivered in the show, as a means to show just how badly Henrikh Mkhitaryan was suited to his surroundings at Manchester United and Arsenal. 

But it could also be taken at face value where Roma is concerned, with the Armenian netting a fine goal on his Italian bow to cap off a finer-still display in the 4-2 win over Sassuolo. As you will see, Arsenal rejects scoring on their debut, just as the Gunners’ were themselves faltering in Watford, was a theme this week. As was Arsenal affiliates letting themselves down with their own hubris. See the above tweet and Mateo Guendouzi.


14. Robert Lewandowski (Re-Entry)

FBL-GER-BUNDESLIGA-LEIPZIG-BAYERN MUNICH

“Well, why would I shoot at a human target?”

While it ultimately wasn’t to be for Bayern against a valiant/luck-riding RB Leipzig side, Robert Lewandowksi’s goalscoring heroics continued, thanks to a consummate finish inside just three minutes. 

Asked how he’s so darn accurate in front of goal, the Pole’s response is quoted above. 


13. Stefano Sensi (New Entry)

Stefano Sensi

“Can I measure your tree?”

With several feet, let alone inches, between Stefano Sensi and Udinese’s covering defender, you can image Antonio Conte and co’s surprise when the diminutive playmaker snuck ahead of him to sneak in a gloriously taken header into the net via the underside of the bar. 

Inter’s 2019 breakout star can head a ball, and he’s barely breaking 5ft.


12. Nacho Monreal (New Entry)

Nacho Monreal

“You look like a fake Ellen Degeneres. A Felon Degeneres.”

Yes, you guessed it (did you?), Nacho Monreal was the second Arsenal reject to score on his debut this weekend, and it came in one of the results of the weekend, with Real Sociedad blotting Atletico Madrid’s unblemished record with a hard-earned 2-0 victory. 

He may look like a BTEC Ellen Degeneres (at least enough for this bit to work…?), but the man can finish his dinner and, in keeping a clean sheet against Diego Simeone’s men, he proved he’s not all forward-thinking, either. 


11. Dries Mertens (Re-Entry)

Dries Mertens

“If you could use a rat as a phone, man, that’d be genius.”

Just as the above observation from Darius was met with derision, many pundits baulked at the use of Dries Mertens as a number nine all those moons ago. Look at him now. Bagging braces against Sampdoria like it’s nothing, and making Fabio Quagliarella (of all people) look blunt. 


10. Duvan Zapata (New Entry)

Genoa CFC v Atalanta BC - Serie A

“Hello, cousin. How are you today?”

Not only did Duvan Zapata nab Atalanta (eerily close to ‘Atlanta’, I hear you say!!) all three points with a 95th-minute thunderbolt against Genoa, he also won a penalty for his side by doing his cousin, Cristian, all ends up. 


9. Karim Benzema (New Entry)

TOPSHOT-FBL-ESP-LIGA-REAL MADRID-LEVANTE

“I don’t know, man, I like Flo Rida. I mean, moms need to enjoy rap, too.”

Karim Benzema is the Flo Rida of football. Think about it.


8. Neymar (Up 3)

FBL-FRA-LIGUE1-PSG-STRASBOURG

“The price is on the can, though.”

With Kylian Mbappe sidelined, it was all about the return of the banner-provoking Brazilian forward Neymar this weekend. 

And, after some initial stuttering against Strasbourg, he delivered in a big, big way, with a 91st-minute bicycle kick to win it. Special stuff. I’d also like to add that PSG are the Arizona Iced Tea (the ‘can’ in question) of football and, as the slogan goes, the price is there for all to see. It’s right on the can. It is. 


7. Marco Reus (New Entry)

Jadon Sancho,Marco Reus

“You want to manage a rapper but you can’t do business high?”

You are Bayer Leverkusen. You want to beat Borussia Dortmund away from home, you have 67% of the possession, three more shots than they do, but you don’t mark Marco Reus? 

Weird.


6. Sadio Mane (Re-Entry)

Sadio Mane

“Money is an idea.”

This is unequivocally true.

Here’s another idea, just off the top of my head. Sadio Mane is world-class. Real Madrid wanted him, but wouldn’t cough up. So here’s the idea: cough up. Whether Mane wants to join the Santiago Bernabeu circus remains to be seen, but at least test some Liverpudlian resolve. The man’s worth all you got, Zizou.


5. Son Heung-min (New Entry)

Heung-Min Son

“This here’s a lightsaber – Luke Skywalker’s.”

Son Heung-min is Tottenham’s Luke Skywalker, here to return the club to the light after some dark times. 

The fact that this is uttered by a bumbling (and potentially homeless?) man who’s set up his own impromptu, and very much unofficial, parking lot should not take away from the initial point. 


4. Luis Suarez (New Entry)

FBL-ESP-LIGA-BARCELONA-VALENCIA

[while polishing his gun] “Man, I ain’t scared of nothing. I got Daddy right here.”

Not that Barcelona needed to be scared on Saturday against Valencia, considering their current chaos, but if any Copa del Rey Final flashbacks did occur, they knew they had the sharpshooting Luis ‘Daddy’ Suarez right there just in case.

And, though he wasn’t necessarily needed from the bench, he was used, springing straight into the action to nab a 20-minute brace. And, if you object to the use of ‘Daddy’ here, well, then, have another quote from this very exchange:

“Yo, you not gonna see this, but your assumed perversion of the word ‘Daddy’, I think that’s stemming from the fear of mortality, man. What you call your gun?”

Yeah. What do you call your ageing strikers?


3. Tammy Abraham (Re-Entry)

Tammy Abraham

Is Paperboi Atlanta’s 2Pac? They said no. But apparently John Boyega is the new Magic Johnson.”

Is Tammy Abraham Chelsea’s second coming of Didier Drogba? No. As previously established in these here rankings, Tammy Abraham is the new Magic Johnson. Move over, Boyega. 


2. Teemu Pukki (Up 3)

Teemu Pukki

“I just think we need a chance as humans to fail in order to discover what actually works, you know? People don’t think there’s a process to being happy.”

Teemu Pukki is the living embodiment of this quote, and he’s now reaping the rewards from this time-honoured policy, pulling the strings in the result of the weekend from across Europe. 

He is also now the only man to maintain his spot across the first five weeks of these rankings, which makes him a winner in his own right. So why, you ask, is he not the outright winner this week? Well, he’s not 16.


1. Ansu Fati (New Entry)

FBL-ESP-LIGA-BARCELONA-VALENCIA

“AIDS was invented to keep Wilt Chamberlain from beating Steve McQueen’s sex record. And by ’69 he was already number three on the all-time list. By ’71 he would’ve been that boy for sure.”

Has Ansu Fati been invented to keep Lionel Messi from beating Cristiano Ronaldo’s Champions League goalscoring record? I can’t say it with the same certainty as ya boy Darius above, but the precocity of Barca’s youngest ever goalscorer sure does beg the question. 

And that’s not the only record he’s broken, as he became the youngest ever play to record a goal and an assist in the same game in La Liga history against Valencia.

And what a goal and an assist they were, the former being an oh-so-composed first-time finish after a bursting run into the box inside just two minutes of action, the latter comprising a mazy run down the left flank, the retiring of Ezequiel Garay and an expertly placed cut-back for Frenkie de Jong just five minutes later. 

By the 15th-minute mark he was centimetres away from a brace, and moments after that he should have had a penalty. Need I remind you that this kid is 16 years old, and just two weeks ago was a mere unknown.

Now he’s spreading his arms to the Camp Nou crowd, soliciting the kind of response that – yes, I’LL SAY IT – only Messi himself can garner in modern times. Hence the €100m release clause, and hence the placing atop these prestigious rankings.

Remember the date, remember the name.


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