Ronaldo denies signing Al Nassr deal

Cristiano Ronaldo has put all the speculations to rest. The former Manchester United striker has denied signing Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr’s massive two-and-a-half-year deal for £173million-a-year.

Speaking after coming off the bench in Portugal’s 6-1 win over Switzerland at the World Cup, a rare substitute appearance for his country, Ronaldo was asked about the move.

“No, it’s not true,” he told reporters.

The Portugal superstar is currently without a club after he mutually decided to part ways with his former club, Manchester United. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner may struggle to find a top-tier club in Europe, given his relative decline in form in recent times, compared to his peak years at Real Madrid and the huge salary he is expected to be seeking.

The Portugal superstar denied saying anything else, as he wants to focus on the World Cup. After hammering Switzerland in the Round of 16, Portugal will face Morocco in the quarterfinals.

South Korea’s manager Paulo Bento resigns following Brazil loss

Following a massive 4-1 loss in the Round of 16 match against Brazil, South Korea’s manager Paulo Bento has confirmed that he has resigned from the high-profile position.

The Selecao killed the game for the South Koreans with an unassailable 4-goal lead before the first-half whistle. However, the South Koreans got one back with a stunning strike from Seung-Ho Paik in the 76th minute.

Bento has confirmed his decision in the post-match announcement. “I have just announced to the players and the president of the federation that this is a decision I took in September. It is set in stone, and I have confirmed it. I have to thank everyone for everything they have done,” he said.

He further added, “From now onwards, we have to think about the future. I’m going to rest, and we have to see what will happen after I rest.”

South Korea blew hot and cold at the FIFA World Cup. Starting their campaign, the Asians played a goalless draw against Uruguay and a dramatic 3-2 loss to Ghana, which saw their manager Bento being sent off. The South Koreans then beat title contenders Portugal 2-1 in their final group stage game to qualify for the Round of 16.

Team of Japan football players is celebrating winning moment in FIFA

Japan’s stunning win over Spain throws Germany out of the World Cup

Seems like Japan is the dark horse of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. After shocking Germany with a 2-1 win with a 2-1 win, the South Asian team has stunned 2010 World Cup champions Spain by making a wonderful comeback after being 1-0 down.

The match started with Spain’s usual possession game. This tactic worked amazingly, with the team getting on the scoresheet in the 11th minute with a wonderful header from Alvaro Morata in the box. The Spaniards went into halftime with a comfortable lead.

However, as soon as the second half began, Japan equalised with an amazing counter-attacking goal from Ritsu Doan in the 48th minute. The Japanese, ranked 24 on FIFA men’s rankings, killed the game with a VAR-backed goal in the 51st minute by Ao Tanaka.

The goal, checked by VAR, appeared to be a little inside the line, while the ball looked out from other angles. After a lengthy review by the Mexico Var Fernando Guerrero, the goal was given to widespread astonishment in the Khalifa International Stadium.

Japan’s dramatic win over Spain threw Germany out of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The 2014 World Cup champs have been out in the Group Stage of the World Cup for the second consecutive time.

Guardiola

How Pep Guardiola transformed Manchester City into a giant

“Sometimes you have a noisy neighbour. You cannot do anything about that. They will always be noisy” is what the great Sir Alex Fergusen had to say about Manchester City back in 2009. 13 years later, Manchester City changed their status from the “noisy neighbours” to the dominant ones. Manchester City has won 4 of the last 5 Premier League titles, which might give an idea about their dominance in recent times. What changed? The answer is simple, Josep “Pep” Guardiola Sala.

Many might argue that the “Oil Money” is the real reason behind City’s recent success. But that’s not it; a stat shows that Chelsea and Manchester United have also spent close to Manchester City in the last decade, but the returns have not been the same. Pep Guardiola joined Manchester City in 2016 and took no time to take over the Premier League. Let’s have a look at how Pep Guardiola transformed Manchester City. 

How Pep Guardiola transformed Manchester City into a giant? 

Before Pep Guardiola, there was Manuel Pellegrini, who enjoyed a successful run of 3 years at the helm of Manchester City. During his term, Pellegrini won a Premier League title in the 2013-14 season and two Carabao Cups. However, Pellegrini faced a fair share of tactical problems as he went through long spells of sticking to the same formation despite poor results. 

Pep Guardiola took over an ageing City squad that lacked pace and couldn’t press aggressively. Manchester City initially wanted to sign Pep Guardiola in 2012 but missed out on the deal as the Spaniard went on to lead Bayern Munich in Germany. 

However, Manchester City was well prepared to sign Pep Guardiola in 2017. The Blues got in some major names from Barcelona, with whom Pep Guardiola was comfortable working in the past. Man City signed Ferran Soriano as their CEO, Txiki Begiristain as their Director of football, and Dr. Mauri to make Pep Guardiola feel at home in Manchester. 

Pep Guardiola was arguably one of the best managers in the world with his legendary run with Barcelona and Bayern Munich. However, many of the English media were not convinced whether his methodologies would work in the Premier League. Nevertheless, Pep answered all their queries. 

2016-17 

Pep Guardiola identified some major setbacks in the City squad as soon as he arrived at the club. They had an old squad under their belt. In fact, only Watford, Stokes, and West Brom had higher average squad ages than Manchester City. Adding to that, Pep Guardiola was not happy with some of the names in the squad who didn’t suit his playing style. 

Wilfried Bony was not technically strong. Joe Hart and Eliaquim Mangala were not good enough on the ball. And as per reports, Manchester City’s superstars Yaya Touré and Samir Nasri didn’t have the required discipline to be in Pep Guardiola’s team.

Pep Guardiola bought in players like Ilkay Gundagon, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Nolito, Leroy Sane, Claudio Bravo, and Gabriel Jesus in his very first season. At the same time, Guardiola got rid of players like Mangala, Jovetic, Martín Demichelis, Nasri, Joe Hart, J Navas, and Bony. Guardiola let go of the ageing players and replaced them with some of the best young talents in the world at that time. 

However, despite some major changes, Pep Guardiola still struggled to find his best XI in his first season. He used a total of 8 different formations in 38 matches. However, City saw some major improvements in Pep’s first season itself. Guardiola’s side scored more goals, allowed fewer goals, and kept more possession than Pellegrini’s. 

Having said that, Pep Guardiola didn’t win any silverware with Man City in his first season and finished 3rd in the Premier League. It was a decent season, but there was still pressure mounting over Guardiola as he was accused of not adapting to the style of the Premier League. 

What did Pep Guardiola say about the start he got in his first season? 

“Yeah. I don’t know what would have happened had we not been able to win the games. I can assure you something, my players always run. And after that, we must try to play as well as possible to achieve the result and win the games. But first is to play good, and to play good, you have to run, and I was pretty sure we could do that. In some moments, we played really well; it’s just the quality of the intelligence of these players.” 

“You can make a training session; you can say this or that. Some understand quickly; some need more time. Most get it quickly. That is why we are a little surprised about how fast, in some moments, we have been in our three games: we played really well. Not for 90 minutes – that is not normal – but how stable they [the players] are. In terms of full games, we have to improve a lot. 

“Yesterday I saw the game v Stoke City again and thought about many things we must improve. But in the short time, we have spent together, we have made many good things. That is why I am confident that it will remain this way and we will have solidarity and help each other. We can achieve good things.” 

2017-18 

However, Pep Guardiola didn’t waste time rejuvenating Manchester City’s squad. Pep got talents like Ederson, Bernardo Silva, Danilo, Kyle Walker, Benjamin Mendy, and Aymeric Laporte in the very next transfer window. And with that, Manchester City transferred out players like Nasri, Nolito, Sagna, Bony, Clichy, Iheanacho, and Kolarov. With this transformation, Man City became the 6th youngest squad in the league. 

Pep Guardiola had the team he needed to begin his supremacy in English football. Pep Guardiola won his first Premier League title with City in his second season with 100 points on the table. Man City were 29 points clear of the second-placed Manchester United in that very specific season. Manchester City asserted their hold in the upcoming seasons and went on to win 3 out of the 4 league titles. 

Pep Guardiola built and created one of the best teams in the history of the Premier League. However, he still has one trophy missing from his cabinet: the Champions League. He had come close to winning the Champions League in 2021 but eventually lost to rivals Chelsea in the final.

With the inclusion of Erling Haaland this season, we might see Pep Guardiola achieving his long-lasting dream of winning the Champions League trophy since 2011. 

Trophies won by Manchester City since Guardiola became their manager;

  1. Premier League (2017/18, 2018/19 and 2020/21)
  2. The FA Cup (2018/19) 
  3. The League Cup (2017/2018, 2018/19, 2019/20 and 2020/21)
  4. The FA Community Shield (2018/19 and 2019/20)

Tunisia out of World Cup despite stunning win over defending champs France

The 2022 FIFA World Cup is full of surprises. After Argentina and Germany, 2018 World Cup champions France suffered a massive defeat in their Group D clash against Tunisia. As a result, France were beaten in a World Cup match for the first time since the 2014 quarter-final (0-1 v Germany), ending a run of nine games without defeat.

The match started with France making nine changes, with the likes of Matteo Guendouzi, Kingsley Coman and Jordan Veretout given chances to shine. France was quickly down on the backfoot as the Tunisian players took advantage of the low chemistry of the French team. They attacked relentlessly and came quite close to beating the French defence.

The match’s turning point came in the 58th minute when Wahbi Khazri, Tunisia’s star striker, cut through the French defence to land the ball into the net. The goal shocked the entire French team. However, they tried to make a comeback by bringing their first-choice players, including Rafael Varane, Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Greizmann and Ousmane Dembele.

With the clock ticking towards the ninth minute of added-on time, Griezmann looked like he’d broken Tunisian hearts by firing in a loose ball in the box. However, a VAR review was eventually triggered, and the referee was ordered to the pitchside screen to review Griezmann being two yards offside from the original ball.

With this ruled-out goal, Tunisia had one of their most famous World Cup wins. But the FIFA #30 ranked team crashed out of the tournament as Australia defeated Denmark and occupied the second qualifying spot in Group D.

Cristiano Ronaldo offered a huge “£173million-a-year” deal by Saudi’s Al Nassr

Cristiano Ronaldo seems to be making headlines every day. After having a controversial goal denied against Uruguay in their World Cup clash, the former Manchester United attacker is in the news again. As per reports, Ronaldo has accepted Saudi Arabia club Al Nassr’s two-and-a-half year deal for £173million-a-year.

Spanish publication Marca report he has accepted a two-and-a-half-year deal with Saudi side Al Nassr. This deal which excludes bonuses and incentives, would see Ronaldo eclipse PSG’s star man Kylian Mbappe and become the costliest signing of all time.

With him being in his late 30s, Ronaldo is seeing very little interest from European clubs. Earlier, Bayern Munich CEO Oliver Kahn had denied the reports suggesting that the club is interested in signing Ronaldo.

Ronaldo is yet to respond to Al-Nassr’s proposal, but his desire to continue competing at the highest level was clear in his interview with British journalist Piers Morgan.  Besides Al Nassr, Newcastle United and Chelsea had shown some interest in signing the superstar. Now only time will tell which club signs the superstar.

Stephanie Frappart

Stephanie Frappart: First women referee in men’s World Cup game

On Thursday, when Germany and Costa Rica take to the field for their World Cup clash, the attention will be on Stephanie Frappart, the official referee for the match. Stephanie Frappart will be the first women referee to officiate in a men’s World Cup game.

France’s Stephanie Frappart is one of three women referees among the 36 selected for the tournament in Qatar, alongside Rwandan official Salima Mukansanga and Japan’s Yoshimi Yamashita. Additionally, three female referees have travelled to Qatar as assistant referees.

Frappart is no stranger to big games. She was the first woman to referee in France’s Ligue 1 in 2019, the same year she took charge of the women’s World Cup final in her home country.

Frappart also officiated the 2019 UEFA Super Cup final between Liverpool and Chelsea before refereeing the Champions League in 2020 and the French Cup final last season.

Cameroon’s Onana suspended from the national team following ‘disciplinary reasons’

Cameroon’s first-choice goalkeeper Andre Onana has been suspended from the national team due to disciplinary reasons, the country’s federation (FECAFOOT) said after he was left out of the squad for their clash against Serbia at the FIFA World Cup.

The official statement from FECAFOOT said, “The Cameroon Football Federation hereby informs the public that following Mr. Rigobert Song Bahanag’s decision, head coach of the Indomitable Lions, the player Andre Onana has been temporarily suspended from the group for disciplinary reasons.”

The statement further stated, “The Cameroon Football Federation reiterates its full support to the head coach and his entire staff as they implement the federation’s policy aimed at preserving discipline, solidarity, complementarity, and cohesion within the national team. FECAFOOT further reaffirms its commitment to create a peaceful atmosphere for the team and to provide them with adequate facilities for an outstanding performance.”

Devis Epassy played in the absence of Onana in their Group G clash against Serbia, which ended in a draw with 3 goals scored from both sides. 

Belgium loses to Morocco

Morocco shocks Belgium thanks to Sabiri & Aboukhlal’s goals

Belgium who was considered one of the favourites for the 2022 FIFA World Cup has suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Morocco. The second-ranked football team was outclassed by Hakim Ziyech’s team 2-0 thanks to the two second-half goals scored by Abdelhamid Sabiri and Zakaria Aboukhlal.

The match started with both teams attacking consistently to get the lead. Morocco, however, got the better of the Belgian defence. In the 47th minute of the first half, Hakim Ziyech, the star winger of Morocco, scored a fantabulous goal before the stroke of the whistle. But the goal was ruled out as VAR called it offside.

This didn’t deter the confidence of the Moroccan team as they continued to keep possession of the ball and take shots at the target. In the 74th minute, the Moroccans breached past the Belgium defence. Abdelhamid Sabiri scored a carbon-copy free-kick to Ziyech’s earlier ruled-out goal. The Belgians were left shocked due to this absolute error by their defence.

To make the matters worse, the Moroccan team scored another wonderful goal thanks to Zakaria Aboukhlal’s graceful strike inside the box. Aboukhlal’s strike sealed the game for Morocco and gave his team their first World Cup win in over 24 years.

The loss makes matters worse for Belgium to qualify for the knockout stage. They have 3 points from 2 matches with one win and one loss and are in the third position in Group F. The Belgians have one match remaining against 2018 FIFA World Cup runner-up Croatia.

Tite inform Neymar to continue playing in WC

“Neymar will continue to play”, informs Brazil coach Tite

Brazil manager Tite has provided an update on the entire Neymar situation. He informed that the Brazilian will continue playing despite the ankle injury suffered by the player during his team’s opening clash against Serbia.

Although the team won the match quite comfortably, thanks to Richarlison’s brace, there was a lot of talk about Neymar, who himself, asked to be subbed in the 79th minute of the game.

The Paris St. Germain forward was seen limping off while coming out and looked close to tears as he received treatment on the bench, before being pictured with a swollen ankle as he made his way to the dressing room.

Brazil team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar confirmed the 30-year-old will undergo further assessment in the next 24 to 48 hours. Tite, Brazil’s head coach revealed Neymar continued playing a further 11 minutes after sustaining the injury and is adamant he will return.

“[Neymar] felt this pain throughout the game, but he decided to stay on the pitch to help his team,” the head coach said. He further said, “So it’s remarkable that he could bear this pain while his team was playing. He stayed 11 minutes on the pitch after his injury, until the moment he could no longer continue, and he was substituted.

“We are confident that Neymar will continue playing; he will continue playing in the World Cup”, Tite revealed.

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