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Aston Villa Soars to Fourth Place; Spurs Pays Tribute to Venables

Aston Villa Soars to Fourth Place; Spurs Pays Tribute to Venables

Ollie Watkins propels Aston Villa to fourth in the Premier League, overcoming a 2-1 deficit against Tottenham. The day honors former boss Terry Venables. Unai Emery’s team, initially trailing to Giovani Lo Celso’s first goal of the season, stages a comeback with Pau Torres equalizing before halftime. Watkins seals the victory with his 12th goal of the season. Villa surpasses Tottenham, now in fifth place after their third consecutive defeat. Despite challenges, Postecoglou’s side displays resilience. Emery’s impact since taking over last season is evident, with Villa sitting just two points behind league leaders Arsenal. The match pays tribute to Venables, featuring a minute of applause and both teams wearing black armbands. Tottenham initially dominates, but Villa responds, highlighting the progress under Emery and fueling hopes for a top-four finish.

In the 22nd minute, Tottenham’s enterprising play bore fruit when a Villa clearance from a corner reached Lo Celso at the edge of the area. His powerful strike deflected off Carlos, securing a deserved goal.

Villa seemed to respond immediately as Watkins headed in from Digne’s cross. However, a lengthy VAR review disallowed the goal due to a tight offside call against Watkins.

Kulusevski came close to extending Tottenham’s lead with a curling shot, and Son Heung-min’s goal was also disallowed for offside. Despite their attacking prowess, Tottenham was exposed defensively, and Villa capitalized just before halftime.

Douglas Luiz’s free-kick found Torres unmarked, and the Spanish defender headed the ball past Vicario. The goal stood after another prolonged VAR check.

Villa came close to seizing the lead early in the second half when Vicario fumbled Leon Bailey’s shot, only to recover and secure the ball after it rebounded off the post.

In the 61st minute, Emery’s team exploited Tottenham’s defensive vulnerabilities once again to take the lead. Watkins executed a smooth one-two with Youri Tielemans, dissecting the shaky Tottenham defense before clinically slotting the ball into the far corner from 12 yards.

Pedro Porro nearly provided an instant equalizer, but Martinez’s full-stretch save denied him. Villa continued to pose a threat, with Digne’s free-kick requiring a solid save from Vicario, and Watkins narrowly missing a header.

Martinez made crucial saves against Johnson and Hojbjerg, and Son’s goal was disallowed for offside, concluding a frustrating afternoon for Tottenham.

Meanwhile, Manchester United compounded Everton’s woes with a 3-0 victory, featuring Alejandro Garnacho’s spectacular overhead kick. This defeat leaves Everton entrenched in the Premier League relegation zone. The match marked Everton’s first since receiving a 10-point deduction for financial rule breaches, sparking a disgruntled response from the home crowd at Goodison Park, where thousands of placards labeled the Premier League as “corrupt” (AFP).




Potential Tragedy: Messi Post Brazil-Argentina Match

Potential Tragedy: Messi Post Brazil-Argentina Match

Following pre-match altercations at Maracana Stadium, Argentine captain Lionel Messi and teammates intervened as police clashed with away fans, including players’ acquaintances. Messi, 36, expressed concern over the violence, citing similarities to past incidents and the potential for tragedy.

“The situation was alarming; the police’s actions were aggressive,” Messi remarked. “We had to act to prevent an unfortunate outcome. Our priority was calming the chaos for the families and bystanders present, overshadowing the match’s significance.”

The incident occurred before the Brazil-Argentina fixture.

Credit By: .bbc.com

The chaos ignited when opposing fans clashed behind one goal during national anthems at Rio de Janeiro’s stadium. Police rushed at Argentina’s supporters, wielding batons, prompting some to retaliate by hurling torn-out seats at law enforcement. As tensions escalated, a few fans sought refuge on the pitch.

Both Argentina and some Brazil players intervened, attempting to pacify the situation. Aston Villa’s Emiliano Martinez even attempted to disarm a police officer holding a baton.

Afterward, the players exited the field briefly. They returned when authorities managed to segregate Argentina fans, allowing the game to commence after a 30-minute delay.

Credit By: .bbc.com

The turmoil unfolded two weeks following a clash between fans of Brazil’s Fluminense and Argentina’s Boca Juniors ahead of the Copa Libertadores final, also hosted at Maracana – akin to South America’s Champions League.

Brazilian skipper Marquinhos, joining Argentine players to calm the stands, expressed concern for distressed families and children in the stands. “On the field, it was perplexing and frightening,” he shared.

Despite the chaos, former Manchester City defender Nicolas Otamendi secured a 1-0 victory for the reigning world champions, Argentina.

Credit By: .bbc.com

Newcastle’s Joelinton received a red card during Brazil’s defeat, marking their first home World Cup qualifier loss. The five-time World Cup champions have faced three consecutive qualifying defeats, placing them sixth in the South American table, trailing leaders Argentina by eight points, currently occupying the final guaranteed spot for the 2026 finals.

Despite the significant win, Argentina’s coach Lionel Scaloni, who previously led his nation to World Cup victory in Qatar a year ago, hinted at potential resignation.

Argentina requires a coach with utmost vitality and wellness,” stated the 45-year-old, in charge since 2018. “I need to pause, reflect deeply. There’s much on my mind at this moment.




Watch India vs Qatar FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifiers Live Streaming and Telecast Details

Watch India vs Qatar FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifiers Live: Streaming and Telecast Details

India vs Qatar FIFA World Cup 2026 Live Stream: India’s Men’s Football Team Set for Second Round Qualifier Clash against Qatar

India vs Qatar FIFA World Cup 2026: The India men’s football team is gearing up to face Qatar in their upcoming second-round Qualifier match on Tuesday, in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. India, buoyed by their recent 1-0 away victory against Kuwait on November 16, aims to challenge Qatar, who are expected to be the favorites. India surprised many by holding Qatar to a goalless draw in their 2022 World Cup qualifiers in Doha, despite facing relentless attacks.

When is the India vs Qatar FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifier match scheduled to take place?

The India vs Qatar FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifier match is set for Tuesday, November 21.

Venue for India vs Qatar, FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifier:

The India vs Qatar, FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifier match is set to take place at Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar, Odisha.

Kick-off Time for India vs Qatar, FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifier:

The India vs Qatar, FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifier match will commence at 7 PM IST.

Live Telecast Details for India vs Qatar, FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifier:

Catch the live action on the Sports 18 Network for the India vs Qatar, FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifier.

Live Streaming Options for India vs Qatar, FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifier:

Stream the match live on the Jio Cinema App and Website for the India vs Qatar, FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifier.




FIFA WC 2026: Iran Dominates Hong Kong 4-0, Late Goals Sting Depleted Visitors

FIFA WC 2026: Iran Dominates Hong Kong 4-0, Late Goals Sting Depleted Visitors

In their World Cup opener, Hong Kong faced a tough 4-0 defeat against Iran, whose late goals embellished a match where Jorn Andersen’s resilient team frustrated the dominant home side for extended periods.

Despite Sardar Azmoun’s quick brace putting Hong Kong at a disadvantage within 15 minutes, Andersen’s depleted squad held their ground. However, Iran, with a relaxed defense, sealed a comfortable win. The hosts now prepare for a challenging game in Uzbekistan next week.

While Iran missed several opportunities in the second half, Mehdi Taremi’s goal in the 87th minute and Ramin Rezaeian’s stoppage-time strike secured an emphatic 4-0 victory, leaving Hong Kong with a harsh defeat.

Credit By: scmp.com

Andersen landed in Tehran missing key players like Everton Camargo, Helio Goncalves, and Fernando, all from Brazil. Employing strategic tactics, he surprised Iran by sending Shinichi Chan for the pre-match press conference but benching the versatile Kitchee player. Michael Udebuluzor, plagued by hamstring issues, had a brief substitute appearance, likely saved for the next winnable fixture against Turkmenistan.

Further raising eyebrows with his lineup, Andersen deployed Li Ngai-hoi, typically a center-back, as a left-back, hinting at a possible goalkeeping shift with 24-year-old Tse Ka-wing favored over the experienced Yapp Hung-fai.

Youngsters like Poon Pui-hin (23) and Southern’s 32-year-old Mahama Awal earned their first competitive international starts alongside Matt Orr in a three-pronged attack. Midfield saw the debut of the aggressive Lam Hin-ting, aimed at disrupting Iran. Six players from the under-23s’ Asian Games campaign featured in the starting lineup.

Though Andersen wasn’t entirely reshuffling the deck, facing a formidable opponent like Iran, positioned 129 spots above Hong Kong in FIFA rankings, highlighted the glaring gap between the teams, evident in Iran’s scoring dominance.

Credit By: scmp.com

Azmoun, currently on loan at Roma from Bayer Leverkusen, struck the first goal past Tse after 12 minutes, capitalizing on Mohammad Mohebi’s precise cross. He swiftly netted another, courtesy of a setup from prolific Porto striker Taremi. Despite the threat of conceding more, Hong Kong’s defense held firm, frustrating Iran’s attempts with solid defensive play, exemplified by Yue Tze-nam’s crucial tackle on Mohebi in the penalty area towards the end of the first half.

Andersen’s squad struggled to trouble Iran’s goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand. Even after making substitutions in the 64th minute by introducing Chan, Law Tsz-chun, and Philip Chan Siu-kwan, they couldn’t create significant opportunities.

Iran missed chances, including Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s off-target shot and Azmoun’s wide attempt, highlighting Hong Kong’s resilient defense. However, Iran’s late goals by Taremi and Rezaeian secured a 4-0 win.

In another Group E match, Uzbekistan bounced back from conceding to Turkmenistan in the first half, securing a 3-1 victory in Ashgabat.

Next, Hong Kong faces Turkmenistan, while Iran travels to Uzbekistan.

Elsewhere in Asian World Cup qualifiers, China rallied to win 2-1 against Thailand in Bangkok, relieving pressure on coach Aleksandar Jankovic.



Norway Manager Solbakken: Haaland's Injury Not Severe

Norway Manager Solbakken: Haaland’s Injury Not Severe

Stale Solbakken acknowledges the setback of losing Erling Haaland ahead of Norway’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Scotland, considering it a significant setback. However, the Norway manager remains optimistic, affirming that the injury to the Manchester City striker is not severe.

Haaland opted out of the squad on Saturday following an ankle injury sustained during Thursday’s 2-0 friendly win against Faroe Islands.

“It’s a substantial setback for any team, but we’ve coped without him in the past—sometimes with positive outcomes, sometimes not,” Solbakken expressed during his Hampden appearance on Saturday evening.

We commenced the qualification without him for the initial two matches. However, he has featured in every subsequent game. It’s unfortunate that he picked up a minor knock on Thursday.

The issue lies in his foot’s movement, but it’s not a severe injury. If it were a final, his fitness would be uncertain.

All parties agree it’s likely a bit premature for him to play, but it’s not a career-threatening injury,” Solbakken clarified.

Regarding Haaland’s participation in a low-intensity match, Solbakken stated, “It was his decision. He aimed to sustain momentum by playing 45 minutes during a week with limited training. He was among three players with significant game time, and Erling chose to play half the match.”

The anticipated showdown between Scotland and Norway lost its significance after Scotland’s dramatic 2-1 victory in Oslo, overturning Haaland’s penalty. This win secured Scotland’s spot in the finals, leaving Norway trailing by six points with slim hopes for a playoff berth.

Reflecting on the pivotal defeat in the summer, Solbakken admitted, “It was an incredibly painful loss. I still dwell on those last five minutes, but that’s life. Had it not been for those moments, tomorrow’s game would’ve been a decisive final.”

He praised Scotland’s impressive campaign and ability to secure favorable outcomes in tight matches, acknowledging their success over several years.

Norway faces a lengthy absence from major tournaments unless they secure a Euro 2024 spot via a playoff, extending their drought to 26 years. Solbakken believes his team can draw motivation from Scotland’s resurgence under Steve Clarke, hoping to emulate their success.

“We can certainly draw inspiration from them. We’ve had closely contested matches, but they’ve been better at tipping the scales in their favor lately. We aim to find our way in a similar fashion,” Solbakken remarked, emphasizing the need to turn tight contests in their favor.




Lukaku's 4 First-Half Goals Propel Belgium Past 10-Man Azerbaijan in Euro 2024 Qualifiers

Lukaku’s 4 First-Half Goals Propel Belgium Past 10-Man Azerbaijan in Euro 2024 Qualifiers

The 30-year-old notches 83 goals in 113 Belgium matches, ranking seventh in men’s international football scoring. He commenced his scoring spree by heading in Jeremy Doku’s cross, shortly before Eddy Israfilov’s dismissal. Lukaku then powered in a second goal from Timothy Castagne’s assist, followed by two more from Wout Faes’ delivery and Orel Mangala’s pass, before being subbed at halftime.

Leandro Trossard sealed a late fifth goal for Belgium, all five created by England-based players. This marked Lukaku’s inaugural quadruple for the national team, having achieved a similar feat with Everton in a 6-3 Premier League victory against Bournemouth in February 2017.

Among male international footballers, only Cristiano Ronaldo (128, Portugal), Ali Daei (109, Iran), Lionel Messi (106, Argentina), Sunil Chhetri (93, India), Mokhtar Dahari (89, Malaysia), and Ferenc Puskas (84, Hungary) surpass Lukaku’s goal tally.

His 14 qualifying goals firmly place him ahead of Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe, who have notched 10 and nine goals respectively in this campaign. Lukaku’s 14 goals set a new record for a European Championship qualifying round, surpassing the previous benchmark of 13 set by Northern Ireland’s David Healy in 2008 and equalled by Poland’s Robert Lewandowski in 2016.

With this triumph, the Red Devils, having secured their spot in Euro 2024, claimed the top spot in Group F, surpassing Austria. Their unbeaten streak since the arrival of manager Domenico Tedesco in February remains intact. Meanwhile, in the group’s other fixture, Sweden, already out of contention for qualification, defeated Estonia 2-0 in Stockholm.




Manchester City has announced a record-breaking revenue of $888 million in the

Manchester City has announced a record-breaking revenue of $888 million in the

Manchester City has set a new Premier League record with a revenue of £712.8 million ($888 million) for the 2022-23 season, marking a significant increase from the previous record held by Manchester United at £648.4 million ($808 million). The club also reported nearly doubling its profits from £41.7 million ($52 million) in 2021-22 to £80.4 million ($100.3 million) in the latest season, achieving both as club records.

The 2022-23 season witnessed Manchester City securing an unprecedented Treble, winning the Premier League, Champions League, and FA Cup – a feat accomplished only by Manchester United in 1999 among English teams. Reflecting on the financial success, club chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak stated, “Last season saw Manchester City achieve the greatest football and commercial year of its storied history.”

“In the aftermath of the UEFA Champions League win in Turkey and the completion of ‘The Treble,’ the question I was asked most often was, ‘How do you top that?’ The answer is by doubling down on the proven philosophies and practices that have brought us this success and to challenge ourselves to continue to constantly innovate in order to achieve new levels of performance both on and off the field,” Al Mubarak added in a statement featured in the annual report for the year ended June 30, 2023.

Manchester City’s revenue surge was driven by various factors, including a £17.4 million ($21.7 million) rise in matchday revenue, increased broadcasting rights, and notable player transfers, such as Raheem Sterling to Chelsea and Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko to Arsenal.

Despite the financial success, the club faces challenges, having been accused by the Premier League of breaching over 100 financial rules. These allegations involve issues such as providing inaccurate financial information, non-compliance with UEFA’s financial fair play (FFP) regulations, and violations of Premier League rules on profit and sustainability.

Acknowledging potential risks and uncertainties, Manchester City stated that the Board recognizes factors that could significantly impact the club’s performance. The Premier League has referred the club to an independent commission, and while City expressed surprise at the breaches, they also welcomed the review by the commission.



Xabi Alonso's Success Spurs Bayer Leverkusen's Title Aspirations

Xabi Alonso’s Success Spurs Bayer Leverkusen’s Title Aspirations

Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen has enjoyed an exceptional start to the season with 16 wins and a draw in 17 matches across all competitions.

With 16 victories and a draw in 17 matches across all competitions, Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen is enjoying an outstanding start to the season. A seasoned winner in his playing career with Liverpool, Real Madrid, and Bayern Munich, Alonso played a pivotal role in Spain’s World Cup victory in 2010, flanked by two European Championships. After retiring in 2017, he transitioned to coaching, leading Real Sociedad B to promotion to the second division.

Joining Leverkusen in October 2022 amid relegation concerns, Alonso, despite a shaky start, guided the team to a sixth-place finish by the season’s end and a Europa League semi-final. Leverkusen’s impressive beginning in 2023-24 has ignited hopes among fans for their first-ever Bundesliga title. Beyond Germany’s football-centric Rhine-Ruhr region, many see Alonso, one of the game’s premier players, evolving into the next elite manager.

Leverkusen, showing “big potential,” has amassed 31 of 33 points in the Bundesliga, equaling a record set by Pep Guardiola’s Bayern in 2015-16, where Xabi Alonso played in midfield. Alonso, now the coach, emphasizes his coaching approach is about communication, improvement, and fostering a collective and individual training environment. While Leverkusen’s style echoes Guardiola’s, Alonso rejects simple comparisons, stating it’s not “tiki-taka,” emphasizing a more nuanced approach. He underscores the importance of player agency, acknowledging their knowledge and quality to make decisions on the field. Viral videos showcase Alonso’s precision in passing, and he admits missing playing but values the coaching experience. Alonso downplays the ‘Neverkusen’ tag, focusing on proving consistency rather than challenging Bayern for the title. He praises Jurgen Klopp, expressing admiration for his coaching style, and backs him to coach Germany in the future. Amid speculation about a move, Alonso remains focused on Leverkusen, asserting his decisions won’t be rushed.




Liverpool's Luis Diaz Reunites with Father After 12-Day Kidnapping Ordeal

Liverpool’s Luis Diaz Reunites with Father After 12-Day Kidnapping Ordeal

Liverpool forward Luis Diaz experienced an emotional reunion on Tuesday with his father, who was liberated last week following a harrowing 12-day kidnapping by Colombia’s ELN guerrilla group.

Liverpool’s striker Luis Diaz shared an emotional reunion with his father, Luis Manuel Diaz, on Tuesday after being freed last week from a 12-day kidnapping ordeal by Colombia’s ELN guerrilla group. Diaz, back in Colombia for a World Cup qualifying match against Brazil in Barranquilla, arranged the meeting with his father. The heartfelt embrace, captured by the Colombian Football Federation (FCF), showed tears of joy. Luis Manuel Diaz, 56, wearing a shirt that read “No more kidnapping,” experienced the first contact with his son and family after enduring moments of anguish during the abduction. Luis Manuel and his wife Cilenis Marulanda were kidnapped at a gas station in Barrancas near the Venezuelan border on October 28. While Marulanda was rescued promptly, a massive search operation ensued for Luis Manuel Diaz.

The ELN, currently engaged in peace talks with the government and under a six-month ceasefire since August, acknowledged the kidnapping by one of its units as a “mistake.”

After days of negotiations, the rebels handed Luis Diaz over to humanitarian workers in a mountainous border area last Thursday. Diaz shared his ordeal at home in Barrancas the following day, describing extensive walking and sleep deprivation by his kidnappers.

On Saturday, the police arrested four suspects related to the crime. Luis Manuel Diaz, founder of the only football academy in Barrancas, played a pivotal role in his son’s development. The elder Diaz, an amateur coach, supported his son’s rise by selling food to fund trips to Barranquilla for early football exposure. Known as “Lucho,” the young winger played for Porto and currently represents Liverpool, becoming the first Indigenous Colombian in top-level world football.





Renowned Champion Xabi Alonso Fuels Bayer Leverkusen's Ambitions for Title Glory

Renowned Champion Xabi Alonso Fuels Bayer Leverkusen’s Ambitions for Title Glory

With an impressive record of 16 wins and a draw in 17 matches across all competitions, Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen has had an exceptional start to the season. Known for his success as a player at clubs like Liverpool, Real Madrid, and Bayern Munich, Alonso was a key figure in Spain’s 2010 World Cup victory and two European Championships. After retiring in 2017, he transitioned into coaching and achieved the promotion of Real Sociedad B to the second division.

Joining Leverkusen in October 2022 amidst relegation concerns, Alonso initially faced challenges, but he led the team to a sixth-place finish and a Europa League semi-final by the end of the season. The club’s outstanding performance in the 2023-24 season has fans dreaming of a historic Bundesliga title.

Alonso, often compared to elite managers, emphasizes open communication and personal interaction in his coaching approach. Leverkusen’s Bundesliga dominance, with 31 points out of 33, draws parallels to Pep Guardiola’s Bayern in 2015-16, where Alonso played a pivotal role.

While acknowledging Leverkusen’s potential, Alonso rejects simple comparisons to Guardiola’s style, emphasizing the importance of player agency. Viral videos showcase Alonso’s precise passing skills from his playing days, and he admits missing the thrill of being on the field.

New recruit Granit Xhaka praises Alonso for improving his game through attention to detail. Despite Leverkusen’s historical ‘Neverkusen’ tag due to near misses, Alonso remains focused on the team’s performance rather than challenging perennial winners Bayern.

Addressing speculation about a return to Real, Alonso emphasizes his commitment to Leverkusen, expressing positivity about the future. As a Basque with German influence, he admires Jurgen Klopp’s coaching style at Liverpool and sees Klopp coaching Germany in the future.

Alonso remains grounded, enjoying the coaching journey and making decisions on his terms, much like his adept decision-making as a player.




Man City Triumph: Clinching Treble Spurs Record Profits and Premier League Success

Man City Triumph: Clinching Treble Spurs Record Profits and Premier League Success

Manchester City has set a new financial benchmark, surpassing Manchester United’s record with a £99.8m year-on-year rise, reaching £748.2m. The club’s profit soared to £80.4m, up from last year’s £41.7m record. These remarkable figures follow City’s historic achievement of securing the Premier League, FA Cup, and Champions League – a feat only matched by Manchester United in 1999. Although revenue is lower than Barcelona’s disputed €990m (£861.43m) in 2019, City’s chairman, Khaldoon al-Mubarak, emphasizes their commitment to sustained success through innovation and continuous improvement. The financial statement highlights a 20.2% increase in broadcast revenues, reaching £299.4m, attributed mainly to Champions League and FA Cup success. As City looks ahead, the chairman expresses confidence in building on their collective achievements for a promising future.

The report highlights potential risks impacting the club, encompassing first-team performance, regulatory changes, and the 115 financial charges issued by the Premier League in February. City faces allegations of financial rule breaches spanning 2009 to 2018, coupled with accusations of non-cooperation since the investigation’s initiation in December 2018. The independent commission overseeing the case holds authority to mete out penalties ranging from fines and points deduction to expulsion from the Premier League. City, consistently denying financial misconduct, expressed openness to an impartial review in a February 2023 public statement. Despite a nearly £70m rise in the wage bill to £422.89m, and commitments exceeding £262m in transfer-related expenses, the club reported a £121.7m profit on player trading for the 2022-23 financial year. Notably, post-June 30, 2023, transfers, including arrivals and departures, totaled approximately £84m, featuring notable players like Jeremy Doku, Mateo Kovacic, Josko Gvardiol, Cole Palmer, Riyad Mahrez, Aymeric Laporte, and James Trafford.




Newcastle's Bid for Barcelona Star Set to Shatter Isak Record

Newcastle’s Bid for Barcelona Star Set to Shatter Isak Record

Newcastle United is eager to secure the services of Barcelona’s versatile defender, Jules Kounde, and they’re prepared to break their own club’s transfer record to make it happen.

According to reports from El Desmarque, Kounde is their top priority, but it remains uncertain whether they’ll make a move during the upcoming January transfer window or patiently wait until the next summer to acquire the 24-year-old French international.

What’s clear is that Newcastle is willing to make a substantial financial commitment, with €50 million set aside as an initial fee, and the potential for an additional €25 million in bonuses, potentially raising Kounde’s price tag to over €70 million.

This figure would surpass the €70 million that Eddie Howe’s side paid for Alexander Isak from Real Sociedad in 2022.

Barcelona, while reluctant to part with Kounde, faces financial constraints, making them more open to considering significant offers.

Kounde has primarily played as a right-sided center-back for Barcelona, a role that aligns with Newcastle’s intentions. Notably, he has also showcased his versatility by featuring as a right-back for the French national team on a consistent basis.

Credit By : footballtransfers.com

Kounde has best-in-class potential

SciSports, a data analytics expert, appraises Kounde, who remains under contract with Barcelona until June 2027, at approximately €55 million. This evaluation suggests that Newcastle may have to enhance their initial offer to entice Barcelona into accepting their bid.

Remarkably, SciSports regards Kounde as a potential world-class talent. Their assessment places him among only 12 players worldwide with a higher growth potential than the former Bordeaux player. Kounde is even considered a top-tier defensive talent in the global football landscape.

Despite the acquisition by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, Newcastle’s approach to transfers has been relatively cautious. Nevertheless, they made notable signings last summer, with expenditures exceeding €150 million, including players like Sandro Tonali (€64 million), Harvey Barnes (€44 million), and Tino Livramento (€37 million).



Whitecaps will face off against the defending champions for the fifth time as the playoffs kick off.

Whitecaps will face off against the defending champions for the fifth time as the playoffs kick off.

VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Whitecaps are set to begin their playoff journey against the same formidable opponent they faced at the close of their regular season.

The Whitecaps will be traveling to California to confront Los Angeles FC in a pivotal match on Saturday, marking the start of a compelling best-of-three series in the MLS playoffs.

Vanni Sartini, the head coach of the Whitecaps, emphasized the respect his team holds for the defending MLS Cup champions, yet emphasized their own fearlessness.

“Since June, I think we’ve been one of the top teams in the Western Conference, so I don’t think we need to be scared of anyone,” he stated confidently.

In their previous season-ending encounter, the Whitecaps faced off against LAFC and ended with a 1-1 draw, marked by the significance of two missed Whitecaps penalties.

Sartini acknowledged the notable talent of the LAFC squad, with the likes of UEFA European Championship winner Giorgio Chiellini, Mexican star Carlos Vela, and leading goal scorer Dénis Bouanga.

“Our strategy is to maintain our game plan but also recognize the importance of securing at least one victory in Los Angeles if we wish to advance. Our previous success against them this season gives us the confidence that victory is within reach,” Sartini commented.

The implementation of the best-of-three series this season represents a shift from the previous single-game elimination format adopted by the league.

The Whitecaps have had a mixed record in the playoffs throughout their tenure as an MLS club. While they have made the quarterfinals twice (in 2015 and 2017), they have struggled to progress beyond the first round in the other seasons since joining the league.

With a sixth-place finish in the 14-team Western Conference, the Whitecaps concluded their regular season with a 12-10-12 record, while LAFC secured the third spot with a 14-10-10 record.

The Whitecaps previously defeated LAFC 3-2 back in June, largely thanks to a decisive goal from the Whitecaps’ captain, Ryan Gauld.

Gauld expressed confidence in the face of the upcoming matches against the formidable California team, as well as his former teammate and goalkeeper, Maxime Crepeau.

“It is what it is, a team we know well,” stated Gauld. “We know it’s going to be a tough two or three games, but we’ve shown we can go there and win it… we need to be confident.”

With prior encounters against LAFC, including regular-season matches and CONCACAF Champions League fixtures in the spring, the Whitecaps have developed a comprehensive understanding of their opponent, emphasized defender Tristan Blackmon.

“I think you start to become more familiar with them if you play a bunch of games,” he observed. “It definitely helps to have played them this past weekend… it’s going to be a good matchup, and I think our guys are going to step up for it,” he added.

LAFC head coach Steve Cherundolo praised the Whitecaps following the recent 1-1 draw, noting their tenacious approach. He expressed confidence in his team’s ability to perform well in the playoffs, emphasizing the need for improved management of the opposition over the full duration of the game.

“Vancouver is a team that’s quite a scrappy team. If you allow them the time and space, they have the tools that can break you down… they’re a much-improved side,” Cherundolo concluded.

This report by The Canadian Press was initially published on October 25, 2023.

Nick Wells, The Canadian Press




Barcelona Maintains Perfect Champions League Record with Win Over Shakhtar

Barcelona Maintains Perfect Champions League Record with Win Over Shakhtar

Barcelona showcased their youthful talent with a 2-1 triumph over Shakhtar Donetsk in the UEFA Champions League. Despite the absence of key players due to injuries and suspensions, the home team dominated from the start.

In the 28th minute, Ferran Torres and Fermin Lopez scored the first-half goals that sealed Barcelona’s victory. Initially, there was controversy over an offside call, but VAR confirmed Lopez’s onside position when he took the shot.

With star players like Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Sergi Roberto, Frenkie de Jong, Jules Koundé, Pedri, and the suspension of Gavi, Barcelona’s manager Xavi Hernandez called upon eight academy players, including the emerging talent, Fermin Lopez, who made a significant impact.

Lopez continued to trouble Shakhtar, extending Barcelona’s lead with a powerful shot that hit the left post before finding the back of the net in the 36th minute. Despite having several opportunities to widen their lead, Barcelona was denied by the woodwork and VAR decisions.

Georgiy Sudakov of Shakhtar managed to pull one back in the 62nd minute, but Barcelona held on, securing their third consecutive win in the group stage.

Man of the match, Fermin Lopez, expressed his satisfaction, stating, “It was a hard-fought victory in a difficult match. It was hard for us, but I’m happy for the win and for contributing a goal.”

Barcelona now tops Group H with nine points, six ahead of Porto, who have a game in hand. Barcelona will host their rivals, Real Madrid, in the first Clasico of the LaLiga season on Saturday.



Resurgent Performers: 5 Players Returning to Top Form This Season

Resurgent Performers: 5 Players Returning to Top Form This Season

A resurgence in a player’s form during a new season is a common occurrence in the world of sports. Several factors contribute to this remarkable comeback.

Foremost among these is the player’s unwavering commitment and hard work. Those who invest extra effort in rigorous training and practice can significantly enhance their skills and rebuild their confidence.

The support and guidance of coaches and teammates are equally pivotal. A positive team environment and constructive feedback can uplift a player’s spirits.

Mental resilience is another key component. Players must learn to navigate the psychological aspects of the game, such as dealing with pressure and anxiety. Adaptability to changing circumstances, both on and off the field, can be a catalyst for rediscovering peak form.

Sometimes, a change of club or management can be the catalyst for a resurgence. New personnel and surroundings, often via the transfer window, can reignite a player’s performance.

Without further delay, let’s delve into the profiles of five players who have rekindled their top form this season.

#5 Saul Niguez (Atletico Madrid)

Credit By: sportskeeda.com

Saul Niguez has experienced a remarkable resurgence in the early stages of the 2023-24 season. Following a forgettable loan spell at Chelsea in the 2021-22 season and a series of lackluster performances last season, it appeared that Saul might explore opportunities outside of Europe.

Nevertheless, the talented central midfielder chose a different path, rejecting lucrative offers from Saudi Arabia and dedicating himself to intensive training. His hard work has begun to pay off this season, thanks in part to Atletico’s injury woes, which provided him with an opportunity to secure a spot in the starting lineup.

Saul has contributed with five assists in his nine La Liga appearances for the Rojiblancos, solidifying his status as a regular starter under the guidance of Diego Simeone.

#4 Raheem Sterling (Chelsea)

Raheem Sterling’s career has been marked by early success. As a teenager, he made a significant impact at Liverpool before transitioning to Manchester City, where he became a pivotal figure in Pep Guardiola’s attack.

However, upon his move to Chelsea in the summer of 2022, questions arose about whether his best years were already in the past. Sterling faced challenges at Stamford Bridge during the 2022-23 season, leading fans and pundits to speculate that he might be in an early decline.

Nonetheless, it was arguably unfair to assess Sterling solely based on his performances in the previous season, given the overall instability Chelsea had experienced over the past few years. This season, Sterling has staged a remarkable comeback, reestablishing himself as Chelsea’s most influential attacker in the early stages of the campaign.

In his nine Premier League appearances, the 28-year-old has found the back of the net three times and provided an additional assist.

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#3 James Maddison (Tottenham Hotspur)

James Maddison’s quality has been evident for several years, making him a candidate for one of the Premier League’s “big 6” clubs. This summer, Maddison made the switch to Tottenham Hotspur after Leicester City’s relegation to the Championship.

Spurs had been yearning for an injection of inspiration and creativity in their attacking third, and Maddison arrived with ample supplies of both. At 26 years old, he has played a pivotal role in transforming Spurs into one of the most potent attacking teams in the Premier League.

Maddison has rediscovered his top form, and his sensational performances in the early stages of the 2023-24 season have been instrumental in placing Spurs at the summit of the Premier League table. In his nine Premier League appearances this season, Maddison has scored three goals and provided five assists.

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#2 Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur)

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Son Heung-min has consistently been among the Premier League’s finest forwards in recent years. He formed an exceptional partnership with Harry Kane, making them arguably the league’s most thrilling attacking duo until the conclusion of the 2021-22 season.

During that season, Son shared the Premier League Golden Boot with Mohamed Salah after scoring 23 goals. Nevertheless, he experienced a decline in form last season, and with Kane’s departure for Bayern Munich during the summer, expectations weren’t particularly high.

However, in a surprising twist, Son has made a resounding return to top form. The 31-year-old has notched seven goals and contributed one assist in his nine Premier League appearances this season for Tottenham Hotspur.

#1 Cristiano Ronaldo (Al-Nassr)

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Cristiano Ronaldo faced a period of subpar form during the first half of the 2022-23 season with Manchester United. Tensions escalated between Ronaldo and the club, and he made critical comments about the team and manager Erik ten Hag in an interview with Piers Morgan.

In January 2023, Ronaldo made a move to Al-Nassr in the Saudi Pro League, seeking a fresh start in a somewhat less competitive environment in the Middle East. At 38 years of age, many expected the Portuguese legend to begin winding down his illustrious career quietly this season.

However, this season has been anything but quiet for Ronaldo. He has been performing at an exceptionally high level for both club and country. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has delivered a remarkable 14 goals and seven assists in just 13 appearances across all competitions for Al-Nassr this season.

Furthermore, Ronaldo has demonstrated his prowess by scoring braces in his most recent two appearances for Portugal during the 2024 Euro qualifiers.



UEFA Enacts Significant Rule Change for Euro 2024, Potentially Affecting Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins

UEFA Enacts Significant Rule Change for Euro 2024, Potentially Affecting Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins

Ollie Watkins, the striker from Aston Villa, found the net for England in their recent match against Australia. He aims to secure a spot in Gareth Southgate’s roster for Euro 2024.

Aston Villa’s striker, Ollie Watkins, is facing a new challenge in his quest to secure a place in England’s Euro 2024 squad.

Watkins returned to the Three Lions setup after over a year’s absence, impressively scoring in his last appearance against Ivory Coast in March 2022. Since the arrival of Unai Emery at Villa, Watkins has been in exceptional form, contributing to 29 goals in 39 matches across all competitions. With four goals and four assists in the Premier League this season, England manager Gareth Southgate recalled Watkins to the squad.

The 27-year-old featured in a friendly against Australia, repaying his manager with the only goal in a 1-0 victory at Wembley.

England secured their spot in Euro 2024 with a win over Italy, and Watkins is optimistic about retaining his place for the upcoming tournament. However, Gareth Southgate now faces a fresh challenge in selecting his squad.

UEFA regulations have specified that squad sizes for Euro 2024 will revert to the standard 23 players. In the previous European Championship, the squad size was expanded to 26 players, primarily due to the impact of COVID-19. However, Gareth Southgate had to exclude three players from his matchday squad.

This adjustment was also applied to the recent World Cup, partly due to it being a mid-season tournament with a higher risk of injuries. Nonetheless, squad sizes will return to the traditional 23-man format for the upcoming major tournament.

This change leaves Ollie Watkins with a narrower opportunity to secure his place at Euro 2024. Harry Kane’s well-established status as England’s captain and star striker implies that Watkins will be contending for a backup role within the Three Lions.

Among the primary competitors in the position of conventional number nines are Callum Wilson from Newcastle United, Eddie Nketiah from Arsenal, and Ivan Toney from Brentford, who is expected to return to action in the latter part of the season. Furthermore, forwards like Bukayo Saka, Raheem Sterling, and Eberechi Eze were not part of the latest squad.

Gareth Southgate provided insights into the rationale behind Ollie Watkins’ return to the England squad, though his comments faced some criticism for emphasizing recent form as a factor. Southgate remarked, “Ollie has had a strong start to the season. He’s been scoring consistently over the past few weeks.”

He also cautioned against relying solely on recent performances for selection decisions, highlighting the importance of maintaining a balanced perspective. Southgate emphasized that Watkins is in good form and entering the squad with a positive mindset.

Moreover, Southgate emphasized that Watkins is a familiar figure within the squad, known for his character and personality. He also acknowledged the high level of coaching at Watkins’ club and the team’s current strong form.



Jamie Carragher Warns Aston Villa's 'Issue' Poses a Threat to Premier League Aspirations

Jamie Carragher Warns Aston Villa’s ‘Issue’ Poses a Threat to Premier League Aspirations

Jamie Carragher has expressed concerns that Aston Villa’s involvement in the Europa Conference League might jeopardize their chances of securing a top-four spot this season.

Currently occupying fifth place in the Premier League standings, Unai Emery’s team is just one point behind fourth-placed Liverpool. Aston Villa has had an impressive start to the 2023/24 season, particularly with a perfect home record in the Premier League.

Carragher has drawn comparisons between Villa and Newcastle, as the Magpies are experiencing a revival under Eddie Howe. Nonetheless, he anticipates that emulating Newcastle’s top-four finish from the previous season will prove to be a formidable challenge for Villa.

Speaking to Sky Sports via Metro, he stated, “Sometimes, you come across a team that excels in defense but struggles to find the net. On the flip side, there are teams that score frequently but concede just as often.

The top-tier teams are those that can maintain a balance at both ends of the field. However, typically, achieving this requires having top-caliber players, as we’ve seen with Manchester City and Liverpool in recent years. Nevertheless, the fact that Aston Villa is achieving this balance is truly remarkable.

Looking back at the previous season, you can draw parallels with what Newcastle accomplished, securing a spot in the Champions League. Throughout the season, they faced skepticism and were often dismissed as contenders, but in the end, they defied expectations.

Aston Villa faces a challenging path to achieving a Champions League spot, with a key distinction from Newcastle’s success last season being their involvement in European competitions.

Carragher acknowledges that Villa’s participation in the Europa Conference League, given the manager’s strong European track record, is likely to lead them on an impressive journey in that competition. However, the potential issue lies in the demanding schedule, with an abundance of Thursday-Sunday fixtures expected after the holiday season.




Napoli Secures Narrow 1-0 Victory Against Struggling Union Berlin

Napoli Secures Narrow 1-0 Victory Against Struggling Union Berlin

Napoli secured a 1-0 victory against Union Berlin in their Champions League Group C clash on Tuesday, with Giacomo Raspadori finding the net in the second half. This result extended Union Berlin’s losing streak to nine consecutive games across all competitions.

The match, although lacking in notable moments, saw the Germans holding the upper hand in the first half. Nevertheless, it was Napoli’s Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, making a decisive move down the left flank, who ultimately settled the game. He set up Raspadori, who fired in the winning goal in the 65th minute.

The outcome maintains Napoli’s position in second place with a total of six points, trailing Real Madrid by three points. Real Madrid secured a 2-1 victory against Braga.

Braga, currently holding three points, and Union, who are struggling and yet to secure a point in their debut season in the competition, follow in the group standings.

Scorer Giacomo Raspadori commented on the match, stating, “From a technical perspective, it wasn’t our finest performance, but winning games like this carries significant importance. Union Berlin was well-organized and had prepared thoroughly for the match. We understood the challenges we would face on the field. While there’s room for improvement, clinching an away victory in the Champions League is always commendable. Playing in the Champions League and finding the net is an incredible feeling.

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In the early stages of the game, Napoli maintained the majority of possession. However, Union Berlin, determined to break their losing streak, sought opportunities to catch the Italians off guard in the first half, with Brenden Aaronson and David Fofana leading the charge.

Fofana, who had a shot on goal, thought he had scored in the 24th minute but was ultimately ruled offside.

Napoli, missing their injured striker Victor Osimhen, struggled to penetrate a resilient Union Berlin defense until the Germans faced difficulties in clearing the ball in the 65th minute.

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia seized the opportunity, accelerating into the box from the left and delivering a precise cross to Giacomo Raspadori, who had no trouble slotting the ball past goalkeeper Frederik Ronnow.

Union Berlin, who have now endured six consecutive losses in their league and three in the Champions League, were unable to mount a comeback, despite coming close with a Robin Knoche header in the 81st minute.

Union captain Christopher Trimmel commented on the match, stating, “The first half showcased our bravery and excellent performance. It was a positive step forward. While we may have lost, we delivered an overall solid performance.”

However, the frustration of a third consecutive loss in the competition was evident when Fofana was substituted and declined to shake hands with Union coach Urs Fischer, who is facing increasing pressure.





Bellingham Strikes Again Real Madrid Triumphs 2-1 Over Braga in Champions League

Bellingham Strikes Again: Real Madrid Triumphs 2-1 Over Braga in Champions League

Real Madrid Edges Out Braga 2-1 in Champions League Encounter

BRAGA, Portugal (AP) — Jude Bellingham continued his remarkable form as Real Madrid secured a 2-1 victory against Braga on Tuesday, maintaining their flawless Champions League record and edging closer to securing a place in the knockout stage.

Bellingham, who has now scored 11 goals in 12 matches since joining Madrid, played a pivotal role in helping the 14-time European champions secure an important away win, further solidifying their lead in Group C. Real Madrid boasts nine points from three matches, a three-point lead over Napoli, who secured a 1-0 victory against winless Union Berlin. Braga remains in third place with three points.

Real Madrid’s next match against Braga in November, at their home ground, offers the chance to secure a spot in the knockout stage for the 28th consecutive time with another victory.

Braga’s history in the Champions League has never seen them progress beyond the group stage. The Portuguese side, making their third appearance in the competition and the first in 11 seasons, faced a formidable Real Madrid.

Rodrygo, who had experienced a goal drought since August, broke the deadlock in the 16th minute with a precise shot from inside the penalty area, capitalizing on a well-timed run by Vinícius Júnior along the left wing. Jude Bellingham further extended the lead in the 61st minute, unleashing a low shot into the far corner following yet another assist by Vinícius.

In the 63rd minute, Spaniard Álvaro Djaló narrowed the gap for the hosts with a superb shot into the top corner.

Vinícius expressed, “Suffering a bit in away matches is normal. However, we played well and capitalized on the chances we created. We could have even scored more. It’s crucial to maintain this momentum after our three consecutive wins.”

The 20-year-old Jude Bellingham continues his remarkable goal-scoring streak with Real Madrid. He has yet to go two games without finding the back of the net. Bellingham has scored in all three matchdays of the Champions League, mirroring his feat with Borussia Dortmund in the previous season.

He played a pivotal role in controlling the tempo of the game, allowing Madrid to dominate early. Braga, despite a recent five-game winning streak in all competitions, failed to register a single shot on target in the first half.

The hosts improved their performance after halftime and posed a threat to Madrid’s defense, but they couldn’t capitalize on several late chances.

The Brazilian duo of Rodrygo and Vinícius had goals disallowed for offside, one in each half.

Madrid’s coach, Carlo Ancelotti, acknowledged, “The game was under control after Bellingham’s goal, but after conceding, it changed the dynamics.”

Real Madrid now shifts its focus to the highly anticipated match against Barcelona on Saturday, marking the first ‘clasico’ of the season in the Spanish league. Bellingham was substituted late against Braga due to a possible muscle discomfort, but Ancelotti indicated it wasn’t a serious issue.

Notably, Real Madrid was without goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, defender Éder Militão, and midfielder Arda Güler, all sidelined due to injuries.

Braga introduced striker Bruma, who wasn’t fully fit, in the second half. He had scored in five of Braga’s previous six European matches this season.

Following the match, there were reports of a confrontation as a member of Braga’s staff allegedly attempted to confront Real Madrid defender Antonio Rüdiger, requiring intervention to resolve the incident.





Gabriel Jesus Sparkles as Arsenal Triumph 2-1 Over Sevilla in Champions League

Gabriel Jesus Sparkles as Arsenal Triumph 2-1 Over Sevilla in Champions League

Gabriel Jesus Orchestrates Arsenal’s 2-1 Victory Over Sevilla in Champions League

The Brazilian striker showcased his brilliance, contributing an exquisite assist and a remarkable goal. Unfortunately, his night was cut short due to a hamstring injury in the 81st minute, but his impact was already deeply felt at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.

Gabriel Jesus consistently shines in the Champions League, boasting an impressive record of 23 goals in 41 appearances in Europe’s premier club competition.

His first-half assist was particularly notable, marked by a Cruyff turn within Arsenal’s half, leading to a precise pass to Gabriel Martinelli. The latter capitalized on a defensive gap, outmaneuvered the goalkeeper, and slotted the ball into an empty net during injury time of the third minute.

Jesus’ own goal was a display of individual brilliance. He shifted inside from the left wing, controlled the ball with his right foot, and executed a sublime finish past goalkeeper Orjan Nyland in the 53rd minute.

Sevilla mounted a comeback, with Nemanja Gudelj heading home from Ivan Rakitic’s corner, reigniting the contest.

The Europa League titleholders came agonizingly close to leveling the score shortly after, as substitute Mariano Diaz’s powerful strike was expertly deflected onto the crossbar by Raya.

Arsenal, in a remarkable turnaround from their recent away defeat to Lens, managed to maintain their lead and now find themselves at the summit of Group B. Lens is just one point behind, securing the second position after a 1-1 draw with PSV Eindhoven.

Both PSV and Sevilla currently possess two points in the group standings.

The next encounter between Arsenal and Sevilla will take place at the Emirates Stadium in a fortnight.