Argentine Fans Lap Up Diego Maradona’s ‘Englishman’ Jibe as GOAT Returns to Management

?Yep, that’s right. In case you’ve been busy this weekend, Diego Maradona has indeed returned to management…again.

In typical Maradona fashion, he has marked the occasion by getting on the nerves of all of England, as he used his homecoming to take aim at his old adversaries with a reference to his infamous ‘hand of god’ moment at the 1986 World Cup. 

The 58-year-old ?took over at Gimnasia de La Plata on Friday, returning to coach in his native Argentina for the first time in 2010, and was unveiled to the jubilant fans of the Primeira Division’s basement side on Sunday. 


Upon having the red carpet rolled out for him, video footage from the unveiling event shows the new boss proudly lapping up the acclaim, before proclaiming into a microphone that ‘he who doesn’t jump is an Englishman.’

He of course achieved infamy against England at the 1986 World Cup when he outjumped Peter Shilton to ‘head’ in Argentina’s equaliser, later admitting – as if he needed to – that he had used his hand.

Argentina went on to win the game, with the incident compounding further his already-heroic status in his home country – so it only seems natural that he would play up to it now he’s back home. 


Since retiring, Maradona briefly managed his country between 2008-10, then dotting around in Dubai, the UAE and Mexico, before stepping down from managing Dorados de Sinaloah back in June. 

His return to Argentina for the first time in almost ten years, then, achieved much fanfare, and will only garner further attention after his eventful unveiling. 

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Spain 4-0 Faroe Islands: Rodrigo Double Helps La Roja Keep Up Group F Dominance

A double from Rodrigo Moreno made it six wins from six for Spain in Group F, as they moved another step closer to Euro 2020 qualification at the expense of a rigid Faroe Islands side. 

The game started in painfully predictable fashion, with the visitors – playing with a narrow back five that adapted into a back seven when the wide midfielders dropped back – adhering to their unyielding defensive shape at all costs. 

But after a frustrating first ten minutes, the opener came after visiting captain Atli Gregersen got the ball caught under his feet on the edge of his area. The tenacious Thiago sensed the opening and his challenge broke kindly for Mikel Oyarzabal, who squared for Rodrigo to tap it in. 


The floodgates didn’t quite open as Robert Moreno might have hoped from there, and a shot on target from Joannes Bjartalid briefly had Spanish hearts in their mouths, although it was easily held by ?David de Gea. 

The home side huffed and puffed however, and after a generally lethargic first half display was brought to an end, the game was put to bed early in the second when Rodrigo came in from the right and saw his left-footed effort deflect in off Rogvi Baldvinsson.

The remainder of the second half saw Spain prioritise possession and tiring out the visitors, but just as it looked like two may have to do, a late double from Paco Alcacer put a couple of cherries on the cake. 


All-in-all it was a routine victory for a fringe Spain side, who maintained their 100% record with minimal fuss, and moved seven points clear of Sweden at the summit of Group F. 


?Spain 

Key Talking Point

Robert Moreno

Robert Moreno rung in the changes for this one, looking to use the entirety of his squad and get a look at some of his fringe players against Group F’s weakest side. 

In total there were nine changes from the narrow win in Romania, with only Rodrigo and Sergio Ramos – now Spain’s joint-record cap holder with Iker Casillas after making his 167th appearance – keeping their place in the side. De Gea came back in for his first appearance in four matches, while Suso made only his fifth international appearance after missing out on the last two squads. 

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All the changes left the side looking a touch disjointed, although they could scarcely be accused of being negative. Their defensive line opted for the unusual strategy of pushing deep into the Faroes’ half, but while their possession sat close to the 75% mark throughout, they failed to translate their statistical dominance into many clear-cut chances.

The second half was far superior to the first in terms of tempo, although the same issues persisted with their lack of a cutting edge. They managed to put the game to bed through Rodrigo though, and the Valencia striker will be happy with his contributions. 


A late double from substitute Alcacer perhaps flattered Moreno’s side, who struggled to break through the Faroes’ back line until the very death of the game, but all-in-all it’s job done in what was only the new boss’ second game in charge. 


Player Ratings

Starting XI: De Gea (6); Carvajal (7), Ramos (6), Hermoso (6), Gaya (7); Thiago (8*), Rodri (6), Parejo (6); Suso (6), Rodrigo (8), Oyarzabal (7)

Subs: Alcacer (6), Sarabia (6), Nunez (6)


Star Man – Thiago

It would be easy to hand this one to the two-goal hero Rodrigo, but reading between the lines, it was Thiago who made things tick for his side and bound together a midfield who often looked like perfect strangers. 



His tenacity made the first goal, and his vision created the second and third. If it wasn’t for the Bayern man’s magic then this could have been a very tough afternoon. 


Faroe Islands

Player Ratings

Starting XI: Nielsen (7); Vatnhamar (6), Vatnsdal (6), Gregersen (5), Baldvinsson (6), Davidsen (6); Edmundsson (7), Hendrikson (5), Hansson (6), Bjartalid (6), Olsen (6)

Subs: Eriksen (6), Bartalsstovu (6)


Looking Ahead

It’s back to club duty for now, with Spain next in action when they travel to Scandinavia for a double header with Norway and Sweden in mid-October. 

Faroe Islands, meanwhile, while be looking to pick up their first points of the campaign when they host Romania and Malta in the next break. 

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Jurgen Klopp Reveals What He Told Philippe Coutinho Ahead of Brazilian’s Bayern Munich Move

?Jurgen Klopp has revealed he told Philippe Coutinho to make the move to Bayern Munich during the summer, insisting it would be a ‘good fit’ for the Brazilian.

Coutinho’s future was one of constant speculation over the transfer window, with Barcelona desperate to flog off the forward after a less-than inspiring 18 months in Catalunya – which yielded just 21 goals.


?Liverpool had been linked with a sensational return for the 27-year-old, although the German tactician distanced himself from these rumours on many occasions throughout the summer. Instead, ?Bayern swooped in to offer Coutinho a route out of Camp Nou, taking the player on a season-long loan deal with the option to sign him permanently next summer for €120m.

On the surface it appeared a good deal for all concerned, with Klopp waxing lyrical about his former star and even confessing he encouraged the attacker to make the move during an interview with Bild.

?“Amazing player, we really didn’t want to let him go. Barca forced us financially,” he said, via the Mirror.

“World class player, really good transfer for Bayern and the Bundesliga. I thought it’s a good fit for both when I first heard about it. It may sound strange, but we didn’t have enough money to get him. We’d already spent all the money we got for him. I have already told him in person that he and Bayern will be a good fit.”

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One issue for Klopp, however, was that Die Roten securing Coutinho would seemingly damage his former club ?Borussia Dortmund‘s chances of ?Bundesliga success, something he would like to see again soon.

“Not so good for Dortmund, I hope Dortmund will win the title again because it’s getting boring with Bayern winning every year. But Dortmund have an amazing team. Other teams like Leverkusen, Gladbach and Leipzig are also interesting teams and a lot can happen.”

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Real Madrid’s CD Tacón Crushed 9-1 by Barcelona Femení in Unofficial Women’s Clásico

?Barcelona cruised to a 9-1 victory on the opening day of the Spanish Liga Iberdrola season, in what many dubbed the unofficial Clásico. 

The match was played at Barcelona’s newly crowned Estadi Johan Cruyff, named after the Dutch legend, who was an integral part of the Catalan side’s historic successes. 


This opening day fixture was being billed as the first Clásico between these two sides, as CD Tacón were taken over by ?Real Madrid following their promotion to the top fight at the end of last season.

CD Tacón now train at Madrid’s base at Valdebebas, but as reported by the Evening Standard, Madrid’s new team must keep their previous name this year due to competition rules.

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Barcelona dominated the match from the off, and last season’s runners up were 4-1 to the good at half-time, as the hosts ran riot against their new rivals. Jenni Hermoso came on in the second half and scored a devastating hat-trick, bagging her side’s final three goals. 

It was a tough start to life in the top flight for Real Madrid’s CD Tacon, who host Sporting Club de Huelva next weekend, whilst Barcelona travel to Rayo Vallecano, as they look to continue their fantastic start to the new campaign. 

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Samuel Eto’o’s Career Told Through 8 of His Own Iconic Quotes

?After 426 goals, 877 appearances and 22 years of professional football, the magnificent Samuel Eto’o has retired.

He’s a well-travelled bloke, having played for 14 clubs across six different leagues, whilst also playing over a century of games for Cameroon. He’s also a well-spoken individual, leaving soundbites here and there about his thoughts, feelings and opinions.

Samuel Eto'o

To help chronicle his path from the ?Real Madrid academy to the bright lights of Doha – via a hat-trick of ?Champions League titles – here’s a look at eight insightful Eto’o quotes.


Setting Himself Up for a Career at Stamford Bridge

Barcelona's Cameroonian Etoo (C) trips w

“I’d rather sell ground-nuts in my village than play for a pathetic team like Chelsea.” (?101 Great Goals)

In spring 2005, ?Barcelona and Eto’o took a 2-1 lead into the second leg of their European Cup knockout tie with ?Chelsea. If nothing else, the striker’s comments suggest a man who has absolute confidence in his own qualities.

That confidence, which bordered on arrogance, was instrumental to the Cameroonian’s rise to the top of the game. Without it, he would not have had the drive and determination when things got tough, nor the audacity to go for the sublime.

Unfortunately, Eto’o ended up with egg on his face on two occasions following this remark about the Blues. La Blaugrana were dumped out 5-4 on aggregate, with his move to Stamford Bridge nine years later seeing supporters dig up this old quote.


Showing Respect to His Old Club

FC Barcelona's Samuel Eto'o (C) fights f

Madrid, you bas**rds, salute the champions.” (?Goal)

Eto’o was on the books at Real for four seasons, though he played a total of just seven matches for Los Blancos before switching to Mallorca and then Barcelona.

A lack of game-time saw the hitman earn zero honours during his time with Madrid, yet he won ?La Liga in his debut campaign at the Nou Camp, a year in which he scored 25 league goals.

Evidently displeased with his treatment in Madrid, Eto’o could not wait to rub victory in the faces of his former employers. He would add further salt to the wounds with two more league titles and a brace of Champions League trophies in Catalonia as things went quiet in the capital.


A Defiant Response to Racist Abuse

Barcelona's Samuel Eto of Cameroon (C) a

Since that day, I decided I will stand up and fight against abuse, stand up and shout. Only we can make it stop. Nobody is going to do it for us.” (?Zee News)

The issue of racism in the beautiful game has gone on far too long and Eto’o has been one of the men leading the fight against it.

He threatened to walk off the pitch during a clash with Real Zaragoza in 2006 in response to monkey chants coming from the home crowd. 

In the aftermath of the incident at La Romareda, Eto’o vowed to do all he could to win the battle against prejudice. He has stayed true to his word, earning Medal of Tolerance from the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation in 2015 for his inspirational efforts.


Why He Didn’t Join Spurs

Samuel Eto'o

“Tottenham – and I hope the English fans will forgive me – are a club in mid-table and I need more.” (?AZ Quotes)

Modern ?Tottenham Hotspur fans won’t think the forward’s comments regarding their club are very accurate, but a decade ago Spurs weren’t exactly high-flyers.

When Pep Guardiola arrived at Barça in the summer of 2008, Eto’o seemed destined to depart. Ronaldinho, Deco and Gianluca Zambrotta had all been axed and the African looked set to join them out the exit door.

Though he stuck around for one more campaign – which ended with more European glory – before the gossip indicated the Lilywhites were trying to lure him to England. As the player himself said, Spurs weren’t at the level he required.


On Pep Guardiola and Leaving Barcelona

Barcelona's Coach Josep Guardiola (R) sp

This one doesn’t need any explaining, just read Eto’o’s statement on a transfer to ?Inter in 2009 (as quoted by ?ESPN)…

I first of all reminded Guardiola that he’d never been a great player and, as a coach, he had proven nothing. He came in and didn’t even know the story of the dressing room. [He] never had the courage to say things in front of me. 

“Xavi told me they wanted me to stay, but I had to talk to Pep. I say ‘never, if you do not respect me, I do not respect you’.

“Pep told me how to move like a striker. I told him: ‘You’re not normal!’ The true story is that Pep didn’t respect the things in football.”


Playing in an African World Cup

Samuel Eto'o,Eyong Enoh

I belong to Africa. I might live in Europe, but I sleep in Africa.” (?Guardian)

The 2010 World Cup was awarded to South Africa and the entire continent was loving it. Finally, a tournament held in their backyard!

No one was more excited than Cameroon’s talisman, who would go on to score twice at the finals. The Lions may have been eliminated in the groups, but they would have been whipping boys without the exploits of Eto’o up top.


The Non-Monetary Reasons Behind an Abrupt Move to Russia

Samuel Eto'o

It’s not a question of money because when you look at my career, I’ve won everything except for the World Cup. I only have one thing in mind — winning.” (?CNN)

The illustrious European heavyweights that are Anzhi Makhachkala made Eto’o the world’s highest paid player in 2011, but it definitely wasn’t about the money.

25 goals across 53 fixtures in the Russian Premier League suggests the marksman’s thick wallet did nothing to dampen his hunger for the net. Still, £8.7m per season would probably motivate anyone, expect of course Alexis Sanchez.


When Jose Mourinho Doubted the Abilities of a 33-Year-Old

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“I remain Samuel Eto’o, I will stay at my place and I will not answer.” (?Evening Standard)

Eto’o wasn’t exactly prolific as he moved to England and entered the twilight of his career. Nevertheless, he made Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho eat his words in 2014 following jokes form the Portuguese about his age.

A treble versus ?Manchester United proved Eto’o could still do it, whilst his old man celebration against Tottenham well and truly put Mourinho in his place.

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Barcelona Wonderkid Ansu Fati Makes Decision on Who to Represent at International Level

?Barcelona starlet Ansumane Fati has come to a decision over who he wishes to represent at international level, following a scintillating start to the 2019/20 season.

The 16-year-old burst onto the scene when he made his debut against Real Betis in La Liga at the end of August, becoming the second youngest player to appear for the club. He followed up his cameo with his first goal for the senior side when La Blaugrana travelled to take on Osasuna the following week. 

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As a result, the forward has been one of the most talked about names in the game of late, with national sides also looking to get him to commit his future to them. 

Fati is eligible to play for three countries: Guinea-Bissau, as it was his place of birth, Portugal – as Guinea-Bissau is a former colony, and Spain, because the youngster has been living there since he was six.

Despite the options, ?Sport are now reporting that Fati always wanted to chose Spain. The report claims that he has never had any doubts, despite the best efforts of Portugal to persuade him to join their ranks. The player has passed on his wishes to Guillermo Amor, who is the head of institutional relations and he has relayed the information to the Spanish Football Federations. 

Anssumane Fati

It has also been revealed that Spain are hoping they will be able to get the paperwork sorted in time for the ?Barça man to be eligible for the FIFA U-17 World Cup. That tournament is due to take place in Brazil between 26th October and 17th November.

The Spanish Football Federations are expected to help Fati as he will need to gain citizenship through his father, which can be a complicated process. However, the hope is that the young prodigy will be available to represent Spain by the time the U-17 World Cup comes around. 

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Barcelona President Confirms Lionel Messi Is Allowed to Leave Camp Nou for Free This Summer

?Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has confirmed that Lionel Messi has a clause in his contract which would allow him to walk away from the club whenever he wants.

A recent report suggested that Messi – who has a €700m release clause in his contract – actually has the power to walk away at the end of any given season, but this had not been confirmed by the club…until now.

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Bartomeu spoke to ?Barca TV this week to reveal that ?Barcelona actually offer such a clause to all their legendary players, not just Messi, explaining: “Leo ?Messi has a contract through to the 2020/21 season, but the player is able to leave Barça before the final season.

“It’s the same case as with the final contracts that Xavi, [Carles] Puyol and [Andres] Iniesta had. They are players who deserve that liberty, and we shouldn’t worry, as they are very committed to Barça. We want Messi to play for Barça through to 2021 and beyond. We are very calm.”

Since making his debut back in 2004, Messi has made 687 appearances for Barcelona. In that time, he has racked up an astonishing 603 goals and 242 assists, establishing himself as one of the greatest players of all time.

However, at 32 years old, he is undoubtedly approaching the latter stages of his career, and Barcelona have begun to picture life without Messi.

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Bartomeu has previously revealed that he wanted to keep Messi at Camp Nou ‘?forever’, adding that they will look to bring the winger back to the club in some capacity upon his retirement.

Having netted 51 goals in just 50 appearances last season, he is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon, and Barcelona will certainly be eager to keep Messi at the club for many years to come. 

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FIFA 20 Ratings: EA Sports Name Top 100 Players Ahead of Game’s Release

?EA Sports have revealed the identities of the 100 highest-rated players in their upcoming game FIFA 20, whilst also adding that Kaka will be a fully playable icon in the game.

The Brazilian has long been high on the wish list of fans of previous games, but he will now finally make his long-awaited return to the series when the game hits the shelves on 27th September.

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EA took to ?YouTube to begin the process of the ratings reveal, and Kaka features heavily in the video. The Brazilian joins the ?long list of new icons in the game and has been handed a 91-rated prime card, an 89-overall middle icon and an 87-rated base.

The likes of Zinedine Zidane, Didier Drogba and Pep Guardiola have also been added to the game, in what promises to be one of the most exciting releases to date.

They then revealed the identities of the 100 highest-rated players on their ?official website, and all the usual suspects are there. ?Cristiano Ronaldo, ?Lionel Messi and ?Neymar are expected to be named as the three best players in the game, whilst ?Eden Hazard and Jan Oblak won’t be far behind.

Lionel Messi

There are also plenty of new additions to the top 100. ?Barcelona wonderkid Frenkie de Jong and ?Juventus (or Piemonte Calcio) star Matthijs de Ligt both make the cut, as does former Ajax teammate Hakim Ziyech. ?Liverpool’s Andy Robertson has also earned himself a huge upgrade.

You can check out the full list of players below.


Goalkeepers

Player? Club? Position?
?Alisson Liverpool? GK?
?Thibaut Courtois Real Madrid? GK?
?David de Gea Manchester United? GK?
?Gianluigi Donnarumma AC Milan? GK?
?Ederson Manchester City? GK?
?Samir Handanovic Inter? GK?
?Hugo Lloris Tottenham Hotspur? GK?
?Keylor Navas Paris Saint-Germain? GK?
?Manuel Neuer Bayern Munich? GK?
?Jan Oblak Atletico Madrid? GK?
?Wojciech Szczesny Piemonte Calcio? GK?
?Marc-Andre ter Stegen Barcelona? GK?

Defenders

Player Club Position?
?David Alaba Bayern Munich? LB?
?Jordi Alba Barcelona? LB?
?Toby Alderweireld Tottenham Hotspur? CB
?Alex Sandro Piemonte Calcio? LB?
?Leonardo Bonucci Piemonte Calcio? CB?
?Dani Carvajal Real Madrid? RB?
?Giorgio Chiellini Piemonte Calcio? CB?
?Matthijs de Ligt Piemonte Calcio? CB?
?Jose Gimenez Atletico Madrid? CB?
?Diego Godin Inter? CB?
?Mats Hummels Borussia Dortmund? CB?
?Joshua Kimmich Bayern Munich? RB?
?Kalidou Koulibaly Napoli? CB?
?Aymeric Laporte Manchester City? CB?
?Kostas Manolas Napoli? CB?
?Marcelo Real Madrid? LB?
?Marquinhos Paris Saint-Germain? CB?
?Gerard Pique Barcelona? CB?
?Andy Robertson Liverpool? LB?
?Sergio Ramos Real Madrid? CB?
?Milan Skriniar Inter? CB?
?Niklas Sule Bayern Munich? CB?
?Thiago Silva Paris Saint-Germain? CB?
?Samuel Umtiti Barcelona? CB?
?Virgil van Dijk Liverpool? CB?
?Raphael Varane Real Madrid? CB?
?Jan Vertonghen Tottenham Hotspur? CB?

Midfielders

Player? Club? Position?
?Allan Napoli? CM?
?Bruno Fernandes Sporting CP? CAM?
?Casemiro Real Madrid? CDM?
?David Silva Manchester City CAM?
?Kevin De Bruyne Manchester City? ?CAM
?Frenkie de Jong Barcelona? CM?
?Paulo Dybala Juventus? CAM?
?Christian Eriksen Tottenham Hotspur? CAM?
?Fabinho Liverpool? CDM?
?Fernandinho Manchester City? CDM?
?Alejandro Gomez Atalanta? CAM?
?Isco Real Madrid? CAM?
?N’Golo Kante Chelsea? CDM?
?Koke Atletico Madrid? RM?
?Toni Kroos Real Madrid? CM?
?Blaise Matuidi Piemonte Calcio? CDM?
?Sergej Milinkovic-Savic Lazio? CM?
?Luka Modric Real Madrid? CM?
?Thomas Muller Bayern Munich? CAM?
?Dani Parejo Valencia? CM?
?Miralem Pjanic Piemonte Calcio? CM?
?Paul Pogba Manchester United? CM?
?Ivan Rakitic Barcelona? CM?
?Marco Reus Borussia Dortmund? CAM?
?Rodri Manchester City? CDM?
?James Rodriguez Real Madrid? CAM?
?Saul Atletico Madrid? CM?
?Sergio Busquets Barcelona? CDM?
?Thiago Bayern Munich? CM?
?Marco Verratti Paris Saint-Germain? CM?
?Axel Witsel Borussia Dortmund? CDM?
?Hakim Ziyech Ajax? CAM?

Forwards

Player? Club? Position?
?Sergio Aguero Manchester City? ST?
?Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Arsenal? ST?
?Karim Benzema Real Madrid? CF?
?Bernardo Silva Manchester City RW?
?Edinson Cavani Paris Saint-Germain? ST?
?Philippe Coutinho Bayern Munich? LW?
?Cristiano Ronaldo Piemonte Calcio? ST?
?Angel Di Maria Paris Saint-Germain? RW?
?Antoine Griezmann Barcelona? CF?
?Eden Hazard Chelsea? LW?
?Zlatan Ibrahimovic ?LA Galaxy ST?
?Mauro Icardi Paris Saint-Germain? ?ST
?Ciro Immobile Lazio? ST?
?Lorenzo Insigne Napoli? CF?
?Harry Kane Tottenham Hotspur? ST?
?Alexandre Lacazette Arsenal? ST?
?Robert Lewandowski Bayern Munich? ST?
?Romelu Lukaku Inter? ST?
?Sadio Mane Liverpool? LW?
?Kylian Mbappe Paris Saint-Germain? ST?
?Dries Mertens Napoli? CF?
?Lionel Messi Barcelona? RW?
?Neymar Paris Saint-Germain? LW?
?Roberto Firmino Liverpool? CF?
?Mohamed Salah Liverpool? RW?
?Leroy Sane Manchester City? LW?
?Heung-min Son Tottenham Hotspur? CF?
?Raheem Sterling Manchester City? RW?
?Luis Suarez Barcelona? ST?

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Spain Prepares for First Ever Women’s Clásico as Barcelona Host ‘Real Madrid’

?While England is gearing up for a big weekend of women’s football as the new Women’s Super League season kicks off with some huge opening clashes, Spain is also preparing for its own landmark as El Clásico makes its debut in the women’s Primera División.

Saturday evening will see 2019 Champions League finalists Barcelona Femení host newly promoted CD Tacón at the brand new Estadi Johan Cruyff.

It may not sound like much of a big deal, but with Tacón taken over by Real Madrid this summer and set to adopt the club’s famous name and branding as of 2020, this is technically now the first Clásico that Spanish women’s football has ever seen.

There is already a club by the name of Madrid CFF in the Primera División, playing in white, as it happens. But there is no affiliation to Real. Tacón, meanwhile, are to play their home game at Ciudad Real Madrid, the club’s training complex in Valdebebas.

While Barcelona have been around in some form or another for 31 years, have been crowned Spanish champions four times since 2011 and are an emerging power at European level, Tacón are a young club and relatively unknown after forming as recently as 2014.

Sandra Panos,Maria Leon,Vicky Losada,Marta Torrejon,Mariona Caldentey,Alexia Putellas,Aitana Bonmati,Leila Ouahabi,Toni Duggan,Andrea Pereira,Lieke Martens

Real have never previously operated a women’s team, but it hasn’t stopped Tacón from making their mark in order to establish themselves among Spain’s elite.

Kosovare Asllani and Sofia Jakobsson, both stars of the 2019 Women’s World Cup as Sweden finished third, were big name arrivals in the Spanish capital in July. Brazilian defender Thaisa, another player that feature at the World Cup, has joined from AC Milan. Tacón were then also able to tempt England international Chioma Ubogagu to Madrid from Orlando Pride.

When Asllani, formerly of Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City and most recently noted Swedish side Linköpings, tweeted about her move to Spain shortly after the World Cup it was clear the 30-year-old was excited about the future prospect of turning for ‘Real Madrid’.

But to get anything against Barcelona this weekend, Tacón will have their work cut out. The Catalans boast some of the finest players in the world, with 2017 Best FIFA Women’s Player and 2019 World Cup finalist Lieke Martens among their ranks.

Nigerian forward Asisat Oshoala was named BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year in 2015 and is still only 24 years of age, while Norwegian maestro Caroline Graham Hansen joined the club this summer, as did returning Spain international Jenni Hermoso.

Alongside Hermoso, many of the national team’s top talents play for Barcelona.

Yet despite Clásico connotations, the rivalry will take time to develop. The rivalries that have developed over decades in men’s football are often transplanted to women’s football and can sometimes have a forced or manufactured feel to them.

Women’s football produces its own rivalries and, for now, at least, Barcelona are unlikely to view this weekend’s clash with Tacón as the biggest game on their calendar. That is reserved for clashes with Atletico Madrid, who have won the Primera División title in each of the last three seasons, and are the single biggest reason Barcelona haven’t been champions since 2015.

Tacón, however, might think differently as this weekend is the start of a whole new chapter in their hitherto very short history.

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Romania 1-2 Spain: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Ten Men Visitors Hold Off Late Fightback

Spain survived a late fightback from Romania to deservedly beat the home side 2-1 in their Euro 2020 qualifying match, in turn maintaining their place at the top of Group F ahead of Sweden.

?It was a siege on the Romanian goal from the offset, with Ciprian Tatarusanu the busiest man on the pitch in the opening exchanges and stood tall to Spain’s dominance. Their pressure eventually told after 29 minutes when Ciprian Deac fouled Dani Ceballos in the box, with Sergio Ramos making no mistake from the spot to put La Roja in front.

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Less than two minutes into the second half the visitors got the goal their performance deserved, with Paco Alcacer slotting into an empty net after a fine flowing move ended with Jordi Alba feeding the ?Borussia Dortmund striker. Their two goal lead was cut short against the run of play not long after, as former ?Brighton striker Florin Andone headed home to lift the home crowd.

While Spain continued to control proceedings, they were dealt a huge blow as Diego Llorente saw red for a last-man challenge on Andone, leaving the visitors to survive the final ten minutes with ten men. They looked like snatching it in added time, as Kepa brilliantly saved late from George Puscas, before a stunning stop seconds later prevented the hosts from snatching an unlikely point. However, in the end it was the result Spain deserved.


ROMANIA

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Player Ratings

Starting XI: Tatarusanu (9*); Benzar (4), Nedelcearu (4), Chiriches (5), Grigore (4), Tosca (5); Deac (4), Marin (4), Stanciu (5); Puscas (6), Keseru (4).

Substitutes: Andone (6), Hagi (5), Maxim (4).


SPAIN

Key Talking Point

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In Group F it looks like being a straight shootout between Sweden and Spain for top spot, with the two sides the obvious favourites to seal either an automatic spot or a play-off place for next summer’s tournament.

Romania are the dark horses to sneak a top two spot, but on Thursday’s showing, that looks increasingly unlikely to happen. Spain played their opponents off of the park, dominating the ball throughout and deservedly going in front via Ramos’ penalty on the half hour. It could well have been another three before half time, however, Tatarasanu thwarted them on numerous occasions to keep the score in the balance before the break.

Whatever resistance or confidence they may have had appeared to be shattered after less than two minutes into the second half, although the introduction of Andone looked like paying dividends when he reduced the lead. It was still dominance on the visitor’s part, yet a lapse in concentration saw Llorente pull down Andone when clean through on goal, although somewhat harshly, and being sent for an early shower.

The expected onslaught on the Spanish goal followed, but the table toppers saw out the remaining ten minutes with to keep hold of first position in Group F.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Kepa (6); Navas (8), Llorente (4), Ramos (8), Alba (7); Saul (7), Busquets (8), Ruiz (7); Ceballos (7), Alcacer (7), Rodrigo (7).

Substitutes: Oyarzabal (7), Sarabia (6), Hermoso (N/A).


Star Man

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Dictating the play is his forte, while breaking up opposition attacks is his bread and butter. There weren’t many of the latter on display in Bucharest, but Sergio Busquets was at his usual best in his defensive midfield slot. 

Having made a name for himself as one of the best in the business at ?Barcelona over countless years at the top of his game, the Spaniard once more looked a class above the opposition midfield and bossed the show for Robert Moreno’s side.


Looking Ahead

La Roja continue their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign with a home clash against minnows Faroe Islands, as they continue their surge towards top spot in Group F.

For Romania, they will need to dust themselves down for Sunday’s clash against Malta, knowing victory will be crucial if they are serious about qualifying for next summer’s tournament.

Let’