Neymar & the 6 Other Players to Win 100 or More Caps for Brazil

?The nation of Brazil is synonymous with football.

They live and breathe the beautiful game, from kids bundled-up socks on the street to superstars donning the famous yellow and blue of the Seleção. To represent the side on over 100 occasions is the stuff every man, woman and child dreams of.

However, only a select few are fortunate enough to receive a century of caps for Brazil. Their 1-1 draw with Senegal at the Singapore National Stadium on Thursday saw another player added to the list that list, with ?Neymar reaching the landmark at just 27-years-of-age.

Here, 90min briefly recaps the international career of the Paris Saint-Germain forward, as well as six others to amass 100 appearances for the South Americans.


Neymar

FBL-WC-2018-MATCH53-BRA-MEX

Caps: 100

When he was still just a fresh-faced teenager, Neymar earned his first Brazil call-up, kick-starting a rollercoaster ride with the Seleção. 

A mixture of agony and ecstasy colour the striker’s international history. His tournament debut came in the 2011 Copa America, where his strong showings failed to save his country from a quarter-final exit at the hands of Paraguay.

Then came what promised to be the defining moment of the poster boy’s career – a home World Cup. You probably don’t need reminding that Neymar and his teammates fell in the semis, an entire nation weeping in anguish as Germany romped to a 7-1 triumph.

Redemption followed that nightmare, with the trickster’s blast from the spot sealing a penalty-shootout win in the final of the Rio Olympics. 

He’s now third in the all-time scoring charts, Neymar’s tally of 61 goals leaving him only one behind the legendary Ronaldo. Pele is the next one in his sights.


Robinho

Brazil's striker Robinho celebrates afte

Caps: 100

Despite hitting the 100-cap mark, Robinho’s time in yellow and blue was somewhat underwhelming, the winger’s performances rarely matching his potential.

Nevertheless, he can call himself a continental conqueror, having won the Copa America in 2007, as well as a pair of FIFA Confederations Cup trophies.

That elusive World Cup triumph will haunt Robinho, however. He was scapegoated for much of Brazil’s ineptitude in South Africa nearly a decade ago, yet the forward continued to represent his nation until 2017, when he was sentenced after being found guilty of rape.


Claudio Taffarel

SOCCER-WORLD CUP-1994-BRA-ITA

Caps: 104

Claudio Taffarel’s superb abilities between the sticks helped him become goalkeeping coach for both Brazil and Galatasaray once he decided to hang up his gloves.

When fans the world over marvelled at the silky skills of the Samba Boys in the late 20th century, the Santa Rosa native was the often-unheralded last line of defence.

His steady hands ensured Taffarel became the proud owner of a World Cup winner’s medal, plus two for the Copa America. 

The ‘keeper conceded just three goals at USA ’94, his intimidating presence contributing to Roberto Baggio’s infamous miss during the penalty-shootout in the final. 


Lucio

Lucio,Ri Jun-Il

Caps: 105

What a horrifyingly-good centre-back Lucio was. Back in his heyday, rampaging runs up-field were commonplace for the colossus.

With a towering, rock-solid defender like him in the heart of their backline, it’s no surprise the South Americans were crowned champions of the world in 2002.

A player like Lucio only comes once every generation – if you were fortunate to watch him at the peak of his powers, you’ll know just how influential the big man was.


Dani Alves

Dani Alves

Caps: 107

No player in the history of the game has been as successful as Dani Alves. 40 different trophies have been collected across a stupendous 17-year career that refuses to end.

The epitome of an attacking full-back, Alves’ turbo-charged feet and bottomless engine saw him dominate, wherever he lay his hat.

But, yet again, there is a glaring omission from the defender’s trophy cabinet. He – like countless compatriots – blossomed too late to play a part in the days when Brazil were at the top of the sport.


Roberto Carlos

Frank Ribery,Roberto Carlos

Caps: 125

Have you ever heard someone described as ‘the Serbian Roberto Carlos’? Or ‘the Welsh Roberto Carlos’? Or any other version of Roberto Carlos, for that matter? How about the Roberto Carlos?

There’s a reason why the ?Real Madrid icon has such a magnificent legacy and reputation among supporters and players, alike. Carlos reinvented what it meant to be a full-back, scoring screamers at will as he bombed forward for club and country.

With quads of the gods, the centurion was capable of ripping the net in half, yet he was about so much more than raw power. Delicious ball-control, pin-point crossing and positional awareness made him an unstoppable force of nature.


Cafu

WC2002-BRA-TUR-CAFU CELEBRATES

Caps: 142

Cafu’s defensive skills were freakish. The right-back’s consistency was stunning. His leadership qualities could motivate any man.

19 fabulous years as a professional footballer yielded numerous honours for the skipper, who was arguably the greatest ever player in his position.

Of course, a man like Cafu was more than capable of performing other roles, occasionally appearing as a winger or central-defender. There truly was nothing that the double World Cup champion couldn’t do.


For more from Ed Alexander, follow him on Twitter!

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Norway vs Spain Preview: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News

?Norway take on Spain on Saturday in a match that could come to define the outcome of their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.

The Scandinavians come into the game off the back of a 1-1 draw with Sweden and will be desperate to avoid defeat this weekend.

Dani Carvajal,Daniel Parejo,David De Gea,Jose Gaya

They face a tough task to get anything against a Spain side who have won every one of their group games so far and who most recently put Faroe Islands to the sword – scoring four without reply.

Here’s 90min’s preview of Saturday’s fixture. 


Where to Watch

?

?When Is Kick Off? ?Saturday 12 October
?What Time Is Kick Off? ?19:45 (BST)
?Where Is it Played?  ?Ullevaal Stadion
?TV Channel/Live Stream? ?N/A
?Referee?  ?Michael Oliver

Team News

?

Norway’s 24 man squad has a number of notable absentees. Iver Fossum and Erling Braut Håland, probably the hottest prospect in Europe right now, both miss out.?

Despite this, the Norway team remains strong. Martin Odegaard – who has been in scintillating form for Real Sociedad so far this season – and Joshua King are both exciting attacking options, whilst Håvard Nordtveit is a very solid central defender.

Martin Odegaard

On paper though, Spain have the far stronger squad. Even with Jordi Alba, César Azpilicueta, Isco, Paco Alcácer, Álvaro Morata, and Marco Asensio all missing out for a variety of reasons, La Furia Roja still have a wealth of talent to choose from.

Santi Cazorla returns to the squad courtesy of some impressive performances for Villarreal and there could also be debuts for Sergio Reguilón, Pau Torres, and Gerard Moreno, who have all received their first call-ups.


Predicted Lineups

?

?Norway Jarstein; Elabdellaoui?, Nordtveit, Reginiussen, Aleesami; Johansen, Berge, Selnæs, Henriksen, Odegaard, King.
?Spain ?De Gea; Carvajal, Ramos, Llorente, Reguilón; Busquets, Saul, Thiago; Cazorla, Ceballos, Rodrigo.

Head to Head Record

Sergio Ramos,Joshua King

??The two nations have met on seven previous occasions, with Spain nearly always coming out on top. 

La Furia Roja have won five of the encounters to Norway’s one, with a solitary match ending in a goalless draw.

In the most recent meeting, Spain ran out 2-1 winners. The game was the opening fixture for both sides in their respective Euro 2020 qualifying campaigns, with goals from Rodrigo and Sergio Ramos cancelling out a Josh King penalty. 


Recent Form

?

?Norway are unbeaten in their last five qualifying games but will be frustrated that the majority of these matches have ended in draws.

The Lions have tied half of their six games so far, whilst also slipping to a defeat to Spain in their opening game, before beating group minnows Malta and the Faroe Islands. 

Robert Moreno

Spain, in stark contrast, have a perfect qualifying record. Robert Moreno’s side have won every game in Group F so far and haven’t lost since Croatia bested them in the Nations League. 

Here’s how both countries have performed in their last five games.

?Norway Spain?
?Sweden 1-1 Norway (8/9) ?Spain 4-0 Faroe Islands (8/9)
?Norway 2-0 Malta (5/9) ?Romania 1-2 Spain (5/9)
?Faroe Islands 0-2 Norway (10/06) ?Spain 3-0 Sweden (10/6)
?Norway 2-2 Romania (7/6) ?Faroe Islands 1-4 Spain (7/6)
Norway 3-3 Sweden (26/3) ?Malta 0-2 Spain (26/3)

Prediction

?

All signs point to Spain winning this one. They’re in electric form, have a far stronger squad and their opponents are without a few key players. 

However, Norway will be fired up, knowing a result here would massively increase their chances of qualification. Expect this to be a competitive game that Spain should just about edge.?

Prediction: Norway 1-2 Spain

Let’

8 Footballers Who Absolutely Have to Host Saturday Night Live

Here’s a fun – and oft’ overlooked – fact: footballers are funny. No, seriously. They’re funny. They’ve got bits. 

Which is why, for the life of me, I can’t understand why not one footballer, not ever, has once hosted the comedic Goliath ‘Saturday Night Live’.

I’d like to rectify this.

So, coming live from my Van Down By the River, Old Prospector’s pickaxe in my right hand, Cowbell in my left, Opera Man wig on my head, El Nino thundering away above it, here are the eight footballers who could, nay should, host SNL. 


James Milner

James Milner

I can see it now. James Milner. Headband on. Deadpanning the audience dry with Norm Macdonald-esque precision.  

Expect plenty of ironing board props etc.

And, yes, you might say that Norm Macdonald coming back to host SNL just 18 months after he was fired from the cast was exactly like Milner leaving Manchester City on a free only to win the Champions League with Liverpool four years later. Exactly like it. 


Michy Batshuayi

FBL-ENG-PR-SOUTHAMPTON-CHELSEA

The lights come up. The camera pans across the audience and centres on the incoming Michy Batshuayi, ready for his monologue. The Belgian soaks in the cheers, maybe popping in a Dave Chappelle salute for good measure. He’s confident.

Then, as the crowd dies down, and Batshuayi is about to let rip, two 14-year-old minions join him on stage. They begin frantically pitching him Batman-related jokes. He tweets out the best. Nothing else happens.


Mario Balotelli

Mario Balotelli

‘Ladies and Gentleman, it’s Maarrrriooooo Balo–BANG.’

Fireworks light up Studio 8H. The musicians cower. The audience scream. 

A smirking Balotelli pops his head around a curtain at the back, and bellows:

“HEEEEEREE’S BALO!”

Wrong show, but good effort from the Italian.


Patrice Evra

It’s Patrice Evra, dressed as Hellboy all night, screaming ‘I LOVE THIS SHOW’ and it’s terrible.

Not as bad as Bieber, but still, terrible

Terrible, at least, until he gets his guitar out, and sings a ‘ Lunch Lady Land’ remix all about raw chicken, with cast members pouring onto the stage with poultry placed on their heads, Monica style.


Benjamin Mendy

Benjamin Mendy

The Shark’s coming in – no, he’s not one of Tracy Morgan’s pets – and he’s coming in hot.

I mean Richard Pryor hot. Yeah, Benjamin Mendy is doing a revamped (the racial epithets are 2019 safe, don’t worry) version of that infamous Pryor and Chevy Chase sketch, with Bill Hader as Stefon as Pep Guardiola, and he’s breaking Twitter. 


Peter Crouch

Peter Crouch

After a perfectly fine opening gambit, with lots of moving around a cramped set and hitting his head, the eighth floor of 30 Rock is suddenly transformed into an Ibiza nightclub. 

Peter Crouch emerges from the smoke, microphone in hand, shirt off, pupils big as boulders, and proceeds to belt out every Euro-trash club classic you can think of, alongside bystanders dressed as either giraffes or robots. 

It’s avant-garde, it’s risqué, but it works. 


Zlatan Ibrahimovic

FBL-SWE-CELEBRITY-STATUE-ZLATAN-MLS

Zlatan’s opening bit is a graphic one involving sheep and lions. He’s a lion. The rest of the cast are sheep. The cast get Taekwando’d into oblivion. 

His next sketch is an effort at self-lampooning, that backfires as soon as Ibra realises what the writers were trying to do, and kung-fu kicks them into, yes, oblivion. 

And so it goes. Self-aware? Not in the slightest. Funny? Weirdly, yes. 


Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney,Dany Drinkwater

Well, at least Wayne thinks he’s funny. But that’s not why he’s here. You know why he’s here.

Wazza works through the monologue admirably, doling out some mediocre material about Scouse-Washington relations before bringing the house down with some world-class ‘My Wife’ material. A harbinger, of course, to the hilarity that is soon to come.

Because then it happens. The big reveal. Coleen Rooney pops out of a cake that’s been wheeled behind Wazza, phone in hand, puzzled expression on her face. Sherlock Holmes hat on, Columbo jacket around her shoulders, Columbo cigar smouldering in her mouth, she stares at the screen. Waiting.

Then she shrieks. 

“IT’S…….” she says, pausing for, yes, great effect.

And the giddy crowd, who know their role and are only too willing to perform it, scream back in unison: “REBEKAH VARDY!”

Champagne bottles filled with Red Bull erupt around them, ‘ROOOONEEEEEY’ reverberating from every speaker and the show begins. The world was never the same again.


Let’

Lionel Messi Reveals Reason Behind Barça’s Infamous Liverpool Defeat & Insists Players Were to Blame

Lionel Messi insists the pain of Barcelona’s semi-final collapse against Liverpool in last season’s Champions League still lingers, but has pointed the finger at the club’s defeat to Roma from the season before as one of the main reasons for their Anfield nightmare.

Leading 3-0 from the first leg in Spain, La Blaugrana travelled to England with a commanding aggregate score but fell to one of the tournament’s greatest ever comebacks, losing 4-0 on the night (4-3 on aggregate) and crashing out of Europe’s elite competition in devastating fashion.


A brace each from Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum settled the contest on a dramatic night, but the Argentine forward claims that it was his own side’s failings that ultimately cost them dearly. 

?Messi also claimed the 4-4 aggregate defeat to Roma in the quarter-final stage of the season prior played a crucial role, when ?Barça surrendered a 4-1 first-leg lead to lose 3-0 in Rome.

“The defeat against Liverpool was our fault, what happened to us could not happen because we came from the previous year with Rome. We blocked ourselves,” he told RAC1, as quoted by ?Mundo Deportivo.

The aftermath of the match saw manager Ernesto Valverde come under severe criticism, with calls for the Spaniard to be relieved of his duties reaching fever pitch, such was the embarrassment of their defeat. That, however, was unjust from Messi’s point of view, who insisted that Barcelona’s failings were not down to the manager’s involvement.

Lionel Messi

“The game in Rome came to our head and we were getting worse, but it didn’t happen because of the coach. It was not my decision either for him to stay, as it has been said,” he added. “The club decided that Valverde would continue and for me and for the whole team it is a joy, which we support.”

The new ?Champions League campaign has started well for ?La Liga‘s current champions, who secured a hard-fought 0-0 draw away at Borussia Dortmund before coming from behind to beat Inter 2-1 at the Camp Nou in their second fixture. Barcelona will be hoping to reach the final of the competition for the first time since 2015, when they overcame Juventus 3-1 to lift the trophy.


For more from ?Ross Kennerley, follow him on ?Twitter!

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When & Where to Watch Barcelona’s Players During the October International Break

?Due to their standing as one of the best club sides in the world, you may expect Barcelona to have a large number of players heading off on international duty this week.

However, with several players struggling with fitness concerns, and Lionel Messi currently suspended after his outburst at the Copa America, only a rather modest ten players will be representing their countries in the coming days.

Here is all you need to know about how to catch those ten first-team stars in action.


Arturo Vidal (Chile)

Arturo Vidal

The veteran midfielder looked to be just a fringe player for Barcelona in the early stages of the season, struggling to get many minutes from the bench. 

However, he has shown over the past week that he can still make an impact. His introduction in the second half against Inter in the Champions League brought greater energy to the side, as he assisted Luis Suarez’s stunning equaliser. He was rewarded for his showing by being handed his first league start of the season against Sevilla on Sunday as the reigning champions won 4-0.

This international break sees Chile play two friendlies against Colombia and Guinea, with both matches taking place in Alicante.

?Game ?Date/Time ?TV Channel/Live Stream
?Colombia vs Chile ?Saturday, Oct 12 (17:00) ?Not in UK
?Chile vs Guinea ?Tuesday, Oct 15 (17:00) ?Not in UK

Arthur Melo (Brazil)

Arthur Melo

Brazil are also just in friendly action over the coming week, but Arthur has far more air miles to clock up. The five-time World Cup winners will be playing their games in Singapore, as they take on two African opponents in Senegal and Nigeria.

Arthur has been in fine form for Barcelona this season, cementing his place as a first-team regular despite Ernesto Valverde having plenty of options to choose from in the midfield department. 

The 23-year-old will be looking to transfer his club form onto the international scene this week.

?Game Date/Time? ?TV Channel/Live Stream
?Brazil vs Senegal ?Thursday, Oct 10 (13:00) ?LFC TV
?Brazil vs Nigeria ?Sunday, Oct 13 (13:00) ?Not in UK

Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Germany)

Marc Ter Stegen

Barcelona’s goalkeeper has been a frustrated figure at international level, often having to settle for a place on the bench behind Manuel Neuer.

Joachim Low has confirmed that this will remain the case for now, despite ter Stegen pushing to overtake Bayern’s more experienced shot-stopper in the pecking order

However, it has been confirmed that ter Stegen will be given a rare start in Germany’s friendly at home to Argentina on Wednesday, before dropping back to the bench when the side return to competitive action against Estonia on the weekend.

?Game ?Date/Time TV Channel/Live Stream?
?Germany vs Argentina ?Wednesday, Oct 9 (19:45) ?Sky Sports Football
?Estonia vs Germany ?Sunday, Oct 13 (19:45) ?Sky Sports Premier League

Clement Lenglet & Antoine Griezmann (France)

Antoine Griezmann

With Aymeric Laporte and Samuel Umtiti injured, Lenglet will once more be expected to line up alongside Raphael Varane at the heart of France’s defence. His form has been patchy so far this season, ?but Didier Deschamps is likely to keep faith in him.

Meanwhile, Griezmann is yet to show his best in Barcelona colours either following his summer move from Atletico Madrid. Often playing from the left wing in recent games, he has been comfortably outshone by Luis Suarez over the past couple of weeks.

Still, he remains on of France’s key players and will be expected to make an impact as they take on Iceland and Turkey this week.

?Game Date/Time? ?TV Channel/Live Stream
?Iceland vs France ?Friday, Oct 11 (19:45) ?Sky Sports Football
?France vs Turkey ?Monday, Oct 14 (19:45) ?Sky Sports Mix/Sky Sports Football

Frenkie de Jong (Netherlands)

Frenkie De Jong

The young Dutch midfielder has had a steady start to life in Spain, often having to play slightly higher up the pitch than he would like to accommodate Sergio Busquets.

He will slot back into his best position at the base of the midfield for his country, as they face an important week ahead. They currently lie third in Group C, but can change all that in their next two games as they face second-placed Northern Ireland followed by Belarus.

?Game ?Date/Time TV Channel/Live Stream?
?Netherlands vs Northern Ireland ?Thursday, Oct 10 (19:45) ?Sky Sports Main Event
?Belarus vs Netherlands ?Sunday, Oct 13 (17:00) ?Sky Sports Premier League

Sergio Busquets (Spain)

Sergio Busquets

Busquets is Barcelona’s sole representative in the Spain squad this month. Now aged 31, the holding midfielder was taken off early during last week’s game with Inter and was only a second half substitute on the weekend, signalling that his playing time at Barcelona may drop off a little this season.

His place in the Spain side is more secure though as they cruise towards qualification for next year’s European Championships. The 2010 World Cup winners travel to Norway and Sweden in the coming days.

?Game ?Date/Time ?TV Channel/Live Stream
?Norway vs Spain ?Saturday, Oct 12 (19:45) ?Sky Sports Football
Sweden vs Spain ?Tuesday, Oct 15 (19:45) ?Sky Sports Premier League

Nelson Semedo (Portugal)

Nelson Semedo

The most recent European Championship winners have not had things all their own way in their qualifying group so far. Two wins and two draws sees them sitting second in their group.

However, there is no reason to panic, and they should be able to close the gap to the top this week. They face Luxembourg on Friday, before travelling to group leaders Ukraine next Monday.

?Game Date/Time? TV Channel/Live Stream
?Portugal vs Luxembourg ?Friday, Oct 11 (19:45) ?Sky Sports Premier League
?Ukraine vs Portugal ?Monday, Oct 14 (19:45) ?Sky Sports Premier League

Ivan Rakitic (Croatia)

Ivan Rakitic

Croatia are part of a very tight group, as they sit just a point ahead of Slovakia and Hungary, with Wales a further three points back but with a game in hand. 

This week will be a crucial one for Rakitic and his teammates, as they face Hungary at home before travelling to Wales over the weekend.

?Game ?Date/Time ?TV Channel/Live Stream
?Croatia vs Hungary ?Thursday, Oct 10 (19:45) ?Sky Sports Football (Red Button)
?Wales vs Croatia ?Sunday, Oct 13 (19:45) ?Sky Sports Football/Sky Sports Main Event

Moussa Wague (Senegal)

Moussa Wague

At just 21, Wague is (unsurprisingly) struggling to break into the Barcelona first team on a consistent basis, having made just three squads so far this season. 

The full back could be pushing for a start for Senegal this week though, but he faces a tough test as his side face Brazil in Singapore. Keeping Neymar and co. quiet will be a difficult task for the youngster.

?Game Date/Time? TV Channel/Live Stream?
?Brazil vs Senegal ?Thursday, Oct 10 (13:00) ?LFC TV

Let’

Barcelona Keen to Reward Marc-Andre ter Stegen With New Long-Term Contract

?Barcelona are pushing to reward first-team goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen with a new long-term contract in Catalonia.

The Germany international recently made his 200th appearance for the club following his £10m arrival from Borussia Mönchengladbach in 2014.

Ter Stegen only signed a new contract in 2017, but Marca claim the 27-year-old is set for another bumper deal as the club looks to tie him down on a new long-term contract.

The former Gladbach star’s deal still runs until 2022, but Barcelona are hoping to convince Ter Stegen of signing a new five-year deal at least in new negotiations.

He has grown into one of Barcelona’s most important players over the last five years, most recently proving his worth in their goalless draw against Borussia Dortmund – when he preserved a clean sheet by saving a penalty from international teammate Marco Reus.

Even though Ter Stegen is already heralded alongside David de Gea and Jan Oblak as one of the best goalkeepers on the planet, he’s still playing second fiddle to Manuel Neuer for the German national team.

Manager Joachim Löw has already confirmed that Ter Stegen will play over the next fortnight after being falsely promised a start during the last international break, but the Barcelona star will have to fight to keep his place at Euro 2020.


In his Barcelona career to date, Ter Stegen has kept 84 clean sheets across all competitions while also making 526 saves.

He was involved in Barcelona’s Champions League-winning campaign in his maiden season at the club and has since bolstered his trophy cabinet with 14 more medals, including the Confederations Cup (2017) with Germany.

Even since the arrival of Neto and the promotion of Iñaki Peña from La Masia, Ter Stegen has been an ever-present for Barcelona this season in the Champions League and La Liga.


For more from Ben Carter, follow him on Twitter!

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How Lionel Messi Tried to Defend Ousmane Dembélé During Clash With Referee in Sevilla Win

?Lionel Messi was seen trying to defend Barcelona teammate Ousmane Dembélé after the Frenchman was deemed to have insulted referee Miguel Antonio Mateu Lahoz in the 4-0 win over Sevilla.

According to Lahoz’s ?match report, Dembélé was shown a red card for calling the referee “very bad” after he dismissed teammate Ronald Araujo – a decision which could see him suspended for El Clasico.

Lionel Messi

However, as noted by ?Sport?Messi actually tried to plead with Lahoz in support of ?Dembélé, insisting that it was all a misunderstanding because of the language barrier between the two.

Messi told Lahoz “He doesn’t know how to speak [Spanish], he doesn’t know how to speak”, but Lahoz was not convinced and decided to uphold his decision.

?Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde confirmed after the game that Dembélé’s Spanish is not the strongest, adding that he did not really understand why the winger was dismissed.

?The club have appealed the decision, and the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) will meet to discuss the situation on Wednesday, when they could also decide to hand Dembélé a minimum two-game ban if he is found guilty of abusing an official.

As it stands, he will miss the trip to Eibar after the international break because of the automatic suspension that comes with any red card in ?La Liga, but Barcelona’s next league game is against ?Real Madrid at Camp Nou, and Dembélé is at risk of missing that match.

La Liga have often handed out two-game bans for players who have been found guilty of similar insults, and Barcelona fear that they could do the same again.

Ousmane Dembele,Lucas Ocampos

Losing Dembélé would come as a huge blow for La Blaugrana, who sit two points behind their rivals in the league table.

However, with the likes of Messi, ?Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann in their ranks, Ernesto Valverde will still have plenty of options to choose from if Dembélé is suspended.

Let’

90min’s Definitive European Player Power Rankings: Week 8 Succession Special

This week was all about dynasties, new and old, rising and falling.

– The oldest of European dynasties Juventus DOWNED Antonio Conte’s intrepid Inter.

– Brighton RIP’d Mauricio Pochettino’s stint at Spurs.

– Steve Bruce DESTROYED Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

– Hoffenheim HOOVERED up Bayern.

– Barcelona won, Real Madrid won and Atletico Madrid…DREW.

With all this tumult at the top in the fight for the European throne, there’s only one TV show that can help us today, and that would be ‘Succession‘, aka the best show since ‘Mad Men‘, probably.

And, ahead of next week’s much-anticipated finale, it’s Season Two. Cause, you know, ‘Grexit’, ‘boar on the floor’, and ‘We Here For You’.


15. Jack Grealish (New Entry)

Jack Grealish

“I need to sever my links. Negotiate a bit of a Grexit.”

Jack Grealish is no stranger to a bit of a Grexit. He’s done it to Ireland, and he’s appeared destined to on numerous occasions do it to Aston Villa, before he became the club’s captain, talisman and kit man’s arch-nemesis – you know, the dilapidated boots. 

But now, in the midst of yet another purple patch, and ahead of next year’s Euros, perhaps a January Grexit could be in order? God knows he could do a job at most places – yes, including Westminster. 


14. Gonzalo Higuain (New Entry)

TOPSHOT-FBL-ITA-SERIEA-INTER-JUVENTUS

“Uncle Fun or Grandpa Grumps?”

For both the duration of his stint at Chelsea, and one notable training session with Juventus, Gonzalo Higuain has been Grandpa Grumps. 

But after scoring the winner against Inter in the Derby d’Italia? Higgy is Uncle Fun once again!

Don’t worry, Uncle Fun isn’t as creepy as he sounds. He’s no Uncle Mo. Probably.


13. Eden Hazard (New Entry)

Eden Hazard,Gareth Bale

“Hey, this is where the party is at. Look at us, all the cool and beautiful people in one spot.”

So Eden Hazard finally joined the Real Madrid party. And in what fashion! A spectacular dink from the Bulky Belgian. The Hungry Hazard. The Eating More Than Just An Apple in Eden. 


12. Willian (New Entry)

Willian

“You don’t really hear much about syphilis these days. Very much the MySpace of STDs.”

You don’t really hear much positive stuff about Willian these days. Very much the Facebook of Chelsea players.

Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori have been Tik Toking their way to the top, and they’ve received all that sweet, sweet engagement. But spare a thought for the Brazilian, who’s always been unfairly maligned at Stamford Bridge, and backed up his wonderful goal against Lille with a masterful piece of orchestration at Southampton.


11. Aaron Connolly (New Entry)

Brighton & Hove Albion v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League

“Bring me franchisable IP.”

Before Saturday’s game with Spurs, Aaron Connolly was a nobody. A nobody! Logan Roy would’ve slapped him up, gobbled him whole then spat him out. 

But now? After that brilliant brace? Aaron Connolly is a household name. Aaron Connolly is franchisable IP. Aaron Connoly’s life story is about to be bought by Disn—I mean Waystar Royco. 

Aaron Connoly is about to be the first Irish superhero since Shamrock. 


10. Karim Benzema (Re-Entry)

Karim Benzema

“These trust fund YouTube sh*ts.”

In this gilded age of – yes – trust fund YouTube sh*ts, Karim Benzema is a rare breed. He is not the kind of player to be distracted by such low-grade highlights reels. But, in his own way, he has built up quite the portfolio in recent years, perhaps none more impressive than this season. 

He’s the only consistent performer Zinedine Zidane’s got at the minute.


9. Paulo Dybala (Up 4)

FBL-ITA-SERIEA-INTER-JUVENTUS

“Bill. The best boss that ever lived. It’s like Mandela f*cked Santa and gave birth to Bill.”

A few months ago, Paulo Dybala looked to be on the ropes at Juventus, and Maurizio Sarri seemed to be one of the architects behind this.

But now the two are best buds, and the Argentine’s scoring world-class goals in the biggest games of the season, before giving post-match quotes like the above… or at least trying to, while creepy Cristiano Ronaldo does creepy things to try and put him off.


8. Sargis Adamyan (New Entry)

Sargis Adamyan

“If this place was in Brooklyn it’d be worth five mil, easy.”

Sargis Adamyan is the man behind Bayern Munich’s unlikely dismantling at the hands of Hoffenheim.

If Adamyan was English, and not Armenian (Armenia: very much the Dundee – where the house referenced in this quote is situated – of Asia) he’d be worth £50m, EASY. Jadon Sancho WHO?!


7. Tammy Abraham (Re-Entry)

Tammy Abraham,Maya Yoshida

“The next Zuckerf*cker comes along and swallows you whole. Sh*ts you out as an app.”

Tammy Abraham – England’s Tammy Abraham, I should say – is the joint second-highest scorer across Europe’s Top Five leagues in 2019/20. Tammy Abraham is legit. For real. 

That finish at St Mary’s? Serious. 

Poor Olivier Giroud. He’s been Zuckerf*cked. 


6. Adama Traore (New Entry)

Adama Traore

“Here I am, I’m moving. I’m moving. I’m moving. Brisk movement. Brisk movement.”

This mantra has been Adama Traore’s M.O. for a long time. But no longer. Sure, both goals against City required some brisk movement, but more than that, they required crisp finishing. 


And he showed it in swathes at the Etihad. 


5. Lionel Messi (New Entry)

Lionel Messi

“No, no, no. No, no, no. F*ck off.”

Lionel Messi is back. Lionel Messi is back. Lionel Messi is back. 

The Messiah is alive and well, and he’s earned a call up to these here prestigious Power Rankings for the first time. The entirety of La Liga is quaking in their boots.

As for Sevilla? Well, they shat the bed, Kendall style.


4. Neymar (Up 3)

FBL-FRA-LIGUE1-PSG-ANGERS

“Then he wanted me to tell you that obviously our public line will be that we’re considering the offer but it doesn’t matter what you offer. He will never recommend this to the board. You’re gonna bleed cash and he’s gonna bleed cash. It will never end. And maybe you’ll kill him but if you don’t he will aim to kill you. He will go bankrupt or go to jail before he lets you beat him. He will beat you in the business and if that doesn’t work he will send people around. He will send men to kill your pets and f*ck your wives and it will never be over.”

So, Neymar’s still at Paris Saint-Germain. Probably the right call in the end. 


3. Robert Lewandowski (Down 2)

FBL-GER-BUNDESLIGA-BAYERN-MUNICH-OKTOBERFEST

“The evidence does not want to be destroyed.”

Here’s three-time European Player Power Rankings Champion Robert Lewandowski drowning his sorrows after coming in at third this week. 

But don’t despair, Lewan. All the prior evidence about your form will not be destroyed because of one result. We Will Remember Them [the goals and skills and stuff].


2. Sadio Mane (Re-Entry)

Sadio Mane

“Now it’s time for me to habeas the corpus.”

Cesc Fabregas recently called Sadio Mane one of the top three players in the world. Here at EPPR HQ, we see Cesc’s top three, and raise it to top two (though we reserve the right to completely eliminate him from next week’s rankings should we feel like it). 

Mane is a world-beater in a team of Europe-beaters. And they now look set to beat the rest of England, too. They just need to habeas the corpus, if you know what I mean? 


1. Luis Suarez (Up 11)


“L to the motherf*cking OG.”

L to the UIS

Dude be the OG

Ay, and he playin’

Playin’ like a pro

L to the UIS

Dude be the OG

Ay, and he playin’

Playin’ like a pro

A1 FIFA ratings, 80k wine,

Never gonna stop baby, f*ck Father Time!

L to the motherf*cking UIS. 

For, in the past week or so, Luis has scored three of the best goals of his career, and that’s no joke. He may be just as reviled as he is revered, but he’s a true great, and this week’s showings have been a timely reminder. 

And, yes, he may be entering into the ‘OG’ phase of his career, but he can he still hit a motherf*cking bicycle kick, and don’t you forget it. 


For more from Wilfred Laurence, follow him on Twitter!

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Arturo Vidal’s Importance to Barcelona Highlighted by Remarkable Unbeaten Streak

?Barcelona have some fantastic players. The likes of Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann and recent signing Frenkie de Jong often attract all the praise, but one player who tends to fly under the radar is Arturo Vidal.

After joining in 2018, Vidal quickly established himself as a fan favourite, thanks to his undying determination and work rate. When called upon, the 32-year-old always knows how to get the job done.

Arturo Vidal

He was handed his first start of the season during Sunday’s meeting with Sevilla, and ?Vidal made the most of his chance by firing home the opening goal of the game. He was impressive in midfield, and the stats prove that it wasn’t just a one-off.

As noted by ?Opta, ?Barcelona have never lost a ?La Liga game with Vidal in the starting lineup. The Chilean has now inspired them to 15 wins and eight draws in his 23 starts, which proves why he is one of Ernesto Valverde’s most dependable options.

Unfortunately for Vidal, first-team opportunities aren’t always easy to come by. The arrival of De Jong has only added to the competition in Barcelona’s midfield, with Sergio Busquets, ?Ivan Rakitic, Arthur and young Carles Alena all battling for minutes.

As a result, Vidal has often been forced to settle for opportunities as a substitute, and that’s not just in La Liga. He regularly plays the role of backup in cup competitions as well, but still manages to influence games during his brief outings.

In his 59 appearances for La Blaugrana, Vidal has managed five goals and eight assists, which is a fantastic return for a player who does not often get the minutes he perhaps deserves.

Lionel Messi,Arturo Vidal

Because of the competition for places, Vidal has regularly been linked with a move away from Camp Nou. He has two years remaining on his contract, but his value to the Barcelona squad is clear to see.


For more from Tom Gott, follow him on Twitter!

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Victor Valdés Sacked as Barcelona Under-19 Coach Just 3 Months After Being Appointed

?Victor Valdés has officially been relieved of his duties as Barcelona’s Under-19 manager, after a reported disagreement with head of youth Patrick Kluivert over tactics.

Valdés return to the club back in July was a celebrated one, as the 37-year-old – who won six ?La Liga titles and three Champions Leagues between the sticks at Camp Nou – took up a role with the club for the first time since leaving in 2014.

It’s been a bumpy road ever since, however, with reports from Spain (?SPORT) recently ramping up talk of a fall-out with Kluivert, who insisted on Valdés implementing a 4-3-3 system – something the former keeper was against.

Victor Valdes

The club had been transparent about the situation, and while they didn’t detail the nature of the disagreement between Valdés and the club, it had been clear there from the official word from ?Barca that there was some animosity. ?Previous statements confirmed simply that Valdés would not be travelling to a game against Gimnastic de Tarragona, and that a meeting would be held to discuss his future. 

And now, the club have confirmed his departure officially, in a brief announcement that named Under-19s B team coach Artiga Franc as his immediate replacement. 

“FC Barcelona has told Víctor Valdés that he is no longer the coach of Juvenil A and belonging to the club,” ?the statement reads. “Artiga Franc, until now coach of Juvenil B and in the Masia since 2010, becomes the coach of Juvenil A.”

While the youth ranks are in a state of coaching turmoil, further up the ladder, the Blaugrana first team finally seems to be getting it right.

After a dismal start to the season that had them embroiled in a state of crisis, they won a fourth game on the bounce when they ?hammered Sevilla 4-0 at the weekend – albeit a win punctuated with a couple of red cards to the debuting Ronald Araujo and the impressive Ousmane Dembele. 


For more from Robbie Copeland, follow him on Twitter!

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