Thibaut Courtois Backs Eden Hazard to 'Explode' at Real Madrid - 90min
Thibaut Courtois has tipped Eden Hazard to 'explode' for Real Madrid following an injury plagued debut season at the Bernabeu. After establishing himself as one
Thibaut Courtois has tipped Eden Hazard to 'explode' for Real Madrid following an injury plagued debut season at the Bernabeu. After establishing himself as one of the finest attacking players in European football during his seven years at Chelsea, Real Madrid paid 100m to prise Hazard away from Stamford Bridge. Hazard endured an injury-hit debut season in Spain | Soccrates Images/Getty Images He became the second most expensive player in the club's history, but was restricted to just 16 La Liga appearances following hamstring, foot and fibula injuries. The winger spent more time on the sidelines during his maiden season in Spain than he had during his entire seven-year stay at Chelsea. Hazard's injury frustrations have not been left in the 2019/20 season. The Belgian international is yet to make an appearance for Real this season due to a muscular problem, but Courtois - who played with Hazard at Chelsea and at international level - is backing his teammate to shine for the club upon his return. "Hazard? I have no doubt, I am sure we will see the best Eden Hazard," the goalkeeper told Cadena SER [via Goal]. Courtois and Hazard are long-term teammates | Clive Mason/Getty Images "Just before his injury, he played several games very well and there he had such bad luck and getting out of that was not easy. But now this month I saw him train very well. I am sure that in no time he will explode and will to give many joys to the team." Much like his compatriot, Courtois struggled for form during the early stages of his Real career, but praised manager Zinedine Zidane - a real hero of Hazard's - for his continued faith in him. "Zidane has given me a lot of confidence. I have always felt that he counted on me and it is important," he added. "In those difficult moments at the beginning of last year, if you don't feel that the coach is with you, it becomes difficult."
'I Know Cristiano Rather Well, He's Happy' - Alvaro Morata Reveals Portuguese Star is Happy He Returned to Juventus - 90min
Juventus' search for a replacement for Gonzalo Higuain ended with Alvaro Morata, who joined the Old Lady on a loan deal from Atletico Madrid. The 27-year-old Sp
Juventus' search for a replacement for Gonzalo Higuain ended with Alvaro Morata, who joined the Old Lady on a loan deal from Atletico Madrid. The 27-year-old Spanish attacker was a Juve player from 2014 to 2016 and this is going to be his second stint with the Bianconeri. In the process of returning to Juventus, Morata is also teaming with Cristiano Ronaldo again, with the duo having already played together at Real Madrid. Morata spoke of Ronaldo, during his presentation as a Juve player, as he said he knows the Portuguese well and revealed they spoke quite a lot and the 35-year-old is happy he returned to Juve. "I know Cristiano rather well, he's happy. We spoke quite a lot, even before I returned," Morata said [via Goal]. Morata also stated the club wants to win the Champions League this season. He said: "The Champions League is very important to Juventus. If we were to win it this year, I would be the happiest man in the world. We want to win it." ? @AlvaroMorata: I know @Cristiano rather well, he's happy that he's here. We spoke quite a lot, even before I returned."#MoreMorata#ForzaJuve JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) September 25, 2020 Meanwhile, Juventus have started brightly under the tutelage of Andrea Pirlo. The defending champions thrashed Sampdoria 3-0 in their Serie A 20-21 opener, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Dejan Kulusevski and Leonardo Bonucci scoring. A tougher challenge awaits them in the next fixture as they take a trip to the Italian capital to face AS Roma, which is scheduled to take place on Monday 12:15am Indian Standard Time.
Lionel Messi Was 'More Charmed' By Prospect of Joining 'Historic' Manchester United than Rivals Man City - 90min
Barcelona star Lionel Messi is believed to have previously been 'more charmed' by the prospect of joining a club with the history of Manchester United, as he no
Barcelona star Lionel Messi is believed to have previously been 'more charmed' by the prospect of joining a club with the history of Manchester United, as he now edges closer to a move to their city rivals. The Argentinian superstar has become disenchanted with the goings-on behind the scenes at Camp Nou, and he has requested to leave the Catalan giants, with Manchester City lying in wait to snap up the football icon. Lionel Messi looks set to leave Barcelona this summer | Pool/Getty Images The Etihad stadium appears to be the most likely destination for the 33-year-old, but a source close to the player and his family has told The Athletic that Messi had previously always favoured a move to rivals Man Utd. The Barça star would often talk about historic English clubs such as Manchester United when discussing his future, while conversations with ex-Arsenal and Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas tempted the world-beater to a life in London. The source also went on to express their surprise at Messi's desire to reunite with former boss Pep Guardiola, who had suffered a 'broken' relationship with a number of Blaugrana stars by the time his stint as Barça coach came to an end. I always had the feeling he wanted an experience abroad, they explained. Messi and Fabregas played together at Barcelona | David Ramos/Getty Images Even more of a surprise than City is that he would go back to working with Pep. The relationship after so many intense seasons at Barcelona with Guardiola was not the best with the players. This was not Leo in particular. Leo and Pep did not have direct problems but the last season was not the best and the relationship between players and manager became very tired. Go and look at the players Guardiola has signed at Bayern and Man City. "You wont find many he coached at Barça. The relationship between Guardiola and the players was broken by the end. However, time heals. Messi is not stupid. Messi and Guardiola embrace during their time at Camp Nou | JOSEP LAGO/Getty Images "He knows his best moment was with Guardiola on the bench, so maybe he thinks he needs this guy to get the best of him. With Messi's future at Barcelona seemingly over, the legendary forward may be ready to make his own history at Man City with former coach Guardiola by his side.
Sevilla Confirm Ivan Rakitic Has Re-Joined Club From Barcelona - 90min
Sevilla have confirmed the return of former star man Ivan Rakitic, six years after the Croatian midfielder traded Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan for Camp Nou and
Sevilla have confirmed the return of former star man Ivan Rakitic, six years after the Croatian midfielder traded Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan for Camp Nou and Barcelona. Rakitic, who had won the Europa League with Sevilla in 2013/14 following a transfer from Schalke three years earlier, went on to win four Liga Liga titles, four Copa del Reys and the Champions League with Barcelona, including a treble in his first season. ? @ivanrakitic returns home, he is a #SevillaFC player once again! ??? Welcome back, Ivan! ??#vamosmiSevilla#WeareSevilla Sevilla FC (Europa League Champions ?) (@SevillaFC_ENG) September 1, 2020 Sevilla reached an agreement with Barcelona over the transfer earlier this week and have announced that Rakitic has signed a two-year contract back in Andalusia. Now 32, Rakitic was made Sevilla captain for his final season at the club during his first spell and finished that 2013/14 campaign with 15 goals and 18 assists to his name in all competitions. It was form that prompted Barcelona to pay around 20m for him that summer. Rakitic won the Europa League and Champions League in consecutive seasons in 2013/14 and 2014/15 respectively either side of his move to Catalonia. The midfielder scored Barcelonas first goal just four minutes into the final of the latter, giving his team the lead against Juventus that eventually became a comfortable 3-1 victory. Ivan Rakitic won the Champions League with Barcelona in 2014/15 | Matthias Hangst/Getty Images Despite all his success as a Barça player, Rakitics future at Camp had looked uncertain for over a year. He was regularly linked with a move away last summer as part of the clubs ultimately failed attempts to organise a player-exchange deal with Paris Saint-Germain to re-sign Neymar. Rakitic was thought to be keen not to move on at that time, although his playing time then dropped significantly during the 2019/20 campaign. He started only 16 La Liga games 22 in all competitions compared to 29 in the league the previous season, and 48 in all competitions. With Barcelona keen on a squad overhaul this summer, Rakitics departure was almost inevitable when he wasnt among the eight players named by president Josep Maria Bartomeu as non-transferable. For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!
A Timeline of the Downfall of the Messi-Barcelona Dynasty - 90min
It's safe to say that all is not well at Barcelona. The 2018/19 La Liga champions currently find themselves in complete disarray from top to bottom. The board r
It's safe to say that all is not well at Barcelona. The 2018/19 La Liga champions currently find themselves in complete disarray from top to bottom. The board room is a nightmare, the squad is ageing and expensive, results on the pitch aren't good enough and now Lionel Messi wants to leave. It's about as bad as it could be. So, how did we get here? Neymar stunned the world by joining PSG | AFP Contributor/Getty Images The world temporarily shut down on 3rd August 2017 when it emerged that Neymar was set to leave Barcelona to join Paris Saint-Germain for a world record fee of 222m. Not only did it see the club love a whole lot of face, but it kick-started a worrying decline on the field. Messi was left to fend for himself, and there was nobody around to fill the creative void left by Neymar's exit. They began to become one-dimensional (although when that dimension is Messi, you get by). On the plus side, they got 222m that they spent on...Ousmane Dembélé and Philippe Coutinho. Well, they spent that and another 30m. And that...hasn't gone well at all actually, has it? Kostas Manolas celebrates against Barcelona | Catherine Ivill/Getty Images Our story begins back in the 2018/19 Champions League quarter-final second leg. Barcelona had roared to a 4-1 win over Roma in the first leg at Camp Nou and were already celebrating their place in the next round. Roma, or specifically Manolas the Greek God who helped Roma rise from the ruins, weren't playing ball and picked up a deserved 3-0 win in the second leg to complete a stunning comeback and win on away goals. Questions were asked of then-manager Ernesto Valverde's tactics, and plenty of fingers were pointed in the dressing room. Was it a mentality thing? CORNER TAKEN QUICKLY ORIGI! | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images After conquering Lyon and Manchester United in the last 16 and quarter-final respectively, Barcelona were satisfied that there wouldn't be a repeat of the Roma debacle, and dominant 3-0 win in the first leg of the semis against Liverpool only reinforced that opinion. We all know what happened next. One quickly taken corner had Barcelona in tatters and left them needing to recover from two of the most humiliating defeats in the history of the Champions League. Something wasn't right at Camp Nou. Barcelona spent £107m on Griezmann | TF-Images/Getty Images Barcelona spent an entire year chasing Antoine Griezmann. The board wanted him and refused to listen to advice from anyone, striking a controversial 120m deal to land the Frenchman in the summer of 2019 when his release clause was cut in half. For the third best player in the world, it looked like a steal. But... Messi and Griezmann haven't gelled on the pitch, and Messi's biggest problem was that Griezmann wasn't Neymar. He wanted a reunion with the now-PSG man, but Barcelona didn't listen and pursued their own target, despite the Frenchman preferring to operate in the exact same areas as the world's best player. Griezmann joined Philippe Coutinho and Dembélé as another expensive mistake in the transfer market unless Messi leaving unlocks him for his second season. But even so... Barça were humiliated by Atlético | Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images The 2019/20 Spanish Supercopa was a little weird. Instead of simply pitting the La Liga champion against the Copa del Rey holder, four of Spain's top sides jetted off to Saudi Arabia for a mid-season tournament. As you do. Barcelona held a 2-1 lead over Atlético Madrid with nine minutes to go in the semi-final, only to concede two late goals and crash out in spectacular fashion. Valverde was given the boot in January | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images Just four days after that humiliating defeat to Atlético, manager Ernesto Valverde was shown the exit door, with many outside the club (and in the Camp Nou board room) believing that he was the reason for Barcelona's shortcomings. It can't have been the players. It must have been his tactics. They just weren't...Barcelona enough. One person who had more faith in Valverde was Messi, who took to Instagram to describe the boss as 'a great professional and a wonderful person'. It was supposed to be the catalyst for change, but hindsight has proved otherwise. Abidal questioned the squad's commitment | Xavi Torrent/Getty Images In an interview with Sport in which he hoped to explain Valverde's departure, then-director Eric Abidal claimed that players weren't happy under the former boss and even went as far as to suggest that they had stopped trying in an attempt to get him sacked. Messi, who usually tries to steer away from interviews, hit back at Abidal by asking the Frenchman to name names or keep his nose out of the squad's business - to put up or shut up. The Argentine had actually playing through an injury at the time in an attempt to ease to pressure on both Valverde and his struggling teammates, so you can understand why he was more than a little peeved by Abidal's words. Real Madrid earned a crucial victory | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images In what had been billed as the title decider all season, Barcelona let their already-perilous lead at the top of the table slip as rivals Real Madrid moved into top spot with a 2-0 win. It didn't actually end up deciding the title - Barcelona were top after lockdown and were five points clear at one point - but it left fans and players doubting whether Barça actually deserved to win the title. With football postponed in March, players around the world began to accept pay cuts to help their clubs cope with the financial strain, and Barcelona were no different. The players eventually agreed to sacrifice 70% of their salaries, but Messi took to Instagram to voice his frustration towards what he felt was pressure from inside the club. "We want to clarify that our will has always been to take a cut in the salary we receive, because we fully understand that this is an exceptional situation and we are always the first ones to help the club when asked," he wrote. "Therefore, it does not surprise us that from within the club there were those who tried to put us under pressure to do something we always knew we would do. The agreement has been delayed for a few days because we were looking for a formula to help the club and its workers during these difficult times." Arthur was sold against his wish | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images Barcelona's transfer strategy, which has been questioned far too often in recent years, was back in the headlines in June when it was confirmed that the club were set to swap young star Arthur Melo for declining Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjani. The decision to swap a 24-year-old future star for a 30-year-old who had just endured one of his worst seasons in recent memory was certainly an interesting one, and it left many fans questioning whether the Barcelona board actually had any idea what they were doing. For what it's worth, they did. What they were doing was trying to claw themselves out of the deep, deep financial hole the club's put itself in. To make matters worse, Arthur then refused to return to training and demanded to be released from his contract early as compensation for being sold against his wish. Barcelona were stunned by Osasuna | David Ramos/Getty Images Real Madrid's La Liga title was sealed on July 16 when Barcelona fell to a shock 2-1 loss to Osasuna at home, after which Messi made sure the team knew it was time for a change. "People are losing patience after defeats to Roma and Liverpool in recent years," he said (via The Mirror). "We need a break and forget about this if we want to fight for the Champions League. "We need to change a lot, otherwise we will also lose against Napoli. I already said before that playing like this we won't be able to fight for the Champions League and you see, we could not even fight for the league. We need to be self-critical." Bayern ran riot against Barcelona | Pool/Getty Images Here we go. The single-most damaging event in the last year. Barcelona were absolutely, comprehensively, embarrassingly mauled 8-2 at the hands of Champions League winners Bayern Munich. The game showcased just how much Barcelona needed change in defence, midfield and attack, and it's what prompted the decision to make pretty much every member of the first team available for transfer. Setien was sacked soon after the defeat | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images The first major change came three days after the Bayern game as manager Quique Setién was shown the exit door, with Ronald Koeman eventually brought in as his replacement. A day later, Abidal was given the sack to try and help usher in a new era. Barcelona are ready to offload Suarez | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images With Barcelona looking to cut costs and rebuild the squad, RAC1 broke the news that striker Luis Suárez was to have his contract terminated, which looked set to be the biggest decision of Barça's summer. The main problem with that? Suárez just so happens to be close friends with a certain Lionel Messi. Messi has requested a transfer | Pool/Getty Images That was all she wrote. Messi had had enough and made the decision to send the infamous burofax to Barcelona informing them of his desire to leave. That sparked an emergency meeting of the club directors which saw several members of the board resign on the spot, and there were also plenty of calls for club president Josep Maria Bartomeu to walk away in an attempt to appease Messi. It might even lead to a legal battle, with Messi eager to terminate his contract but Barcelona holding out for a cool £630m to let him go. For more from Tom Gott, follow him on Twitter!
Sergio Reguilon for £20m is Just Getting a Better Ben Chilwell for Cheaper - 90min
£50m! For Ben Chilwell! But... you know, he's English. And Chelsea wanted him. Those are two essential pieces of information that dictate that yes, in fact, Chi
£50m! For Ben Chilwell! But...you know, he's English. And Chelsea wanted him. Those are two essential pieces of information that dictate that yes, in fact, Chilwell is a very talented footballer. OK, he isn't bad, and despite what many folk online may argue, the former Leicester player is not atrocious, either. Nor is he really bad. He's just, well, not great. Certainly not 50 millionpounds worth of great. BENISBLUE.Welcome to Chelsea, @BenChilwell! ? #BenIsBlue Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) August 26, 2020 The overarching question will be whether he's an upgrade on what the Blues have. In short, yes. Stretched out a tad more, yes, but it didn't need to cost them that much money. Really, it didn't. Over in the supremely hot holiday destination for Brits that is Seville, there is another left-back available for an absolute snip at just £20m. Genuinely, that's the valuation being placed on Sergio Reguilon by parent club Real Madrid. Remarkably, even after a superb season-long loan at Sevilla, Madrid will be willing to part with the 23-year-old for such a nominal fee. Sure, they've already got Ferland Mendy - and Marcelo to back him up - but still, that's pocket change in the current market. He's been consistent enough to earn himself a Spain call-up from Luis Enrique for the upcoming Nations League matches, coming off the back of his finest individual season to date. Not bad, eh? He, along with the rest of the Sevilla squad, really began firing after the midway point of the season, embarking on a blinding 15-game unbeaten run. In fairness, he started the campaign alright, too. A debut La Liga goal for the club and an assist for good measure in the first game of the season against Espanyol wasn't too shabby. Sevilla drew a large chunk of their matches last season, but these weren't barmy 3-3 games or, god forbid, 2-2 stalemates. Most of their draws were low scoring, simply down to the superb defensive record Reguilon and his teammates built at the back. Only the two Madrid-based sides conceded fewer than Sevilla's 34. Moreover, 35% of the goals they conceded came in matches where the left-back was either missing through injury or on the bench. Reguilon assisted four goals and scored twice last season | Pool/Getty Images 'But it's just La Liga', I hear you say. Well, Chilwell is just English but suddenly he's world class. Swings and roundabouts. Yet if we switch over into European competition, we gain an even wider grasp of how frighteningly good Reguilon is. He didn't feature at all during the group stages of the Europa League, but when the knockouts came around, he was tasked by Julen Lopetegui with being one of the primary points of attack in the side. It's the Spanish side's style to flood wide areas with bodies, thus presenting the full-backs with the option of either under-lapping or over-lapping the forwards. Perfect for Reguilon. He can do both. As a defender there are a variety of different styles of player you can face, but the ones that are the hardest to deal with are the unpredictable ones. Toss in a healthy sprinkling of pace and you've got a mouthwatering combination. Estas fotos no se pueden definir con palabras... Gracias a todos de corazón pic.twitter.com/OW0J6sOB8W Sergio Reguilón (@sergio_regui) August 22, 2020 In attacking phases, just as much with defensive ones, Reguilon reads the play efficiently. His anticipation of the next move is second nature. Chilwell, on the other hand, isn't quite all there in that sense. When it got down to the nitty gritty of the competition, Reguilon came to the fore. Wolves were no match, getting terrorised down their right hand flank. Manchester United couldn't cope in the semi-final, Reguilon's perfectly executed low cross landing on a plate for Suso to score. A long, arduous season was topped off with victory over Inter in the final, the second trophy of his career. Furthermore, for someone who played in only five of the club's 12 Europa League matches to make it into the Squad of the Season, well, that tells you all you need to know. Don't see Chilwell in that squad. Poor from him. It's not even a gamble at this point. Forking out £50m on someone who isn't outstanding in any one department is, however, a gamble. For such a measly fee, Premier League sides should be lining up for the Spaniard. It'd be a cheaper upgrade in Leicester's case. For more from Ross Kennerley, follow him on Twitter!
5 Ways Chelsea Could Line Up in Defence This Season - 90min
Something very special is happening at Chelsea Football Club. An exceptional transfer window is getting better day by day, with four signings alone this in the
Something very special is happening at Chelsea Football Club. An exceptional transfer window is getting better day by day, with four signings alone coming through the doors at Stamford Bridge in the last week. Having already signed Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner, the Blues bought in Ben Chilwell and Thiago Silva to hugely bolster their defence. For a team who conceded 54 goals - their worst league tally in 23 years - last season, it is exactly what they needed to improve and move forward under Lampard. Lampard now has a surplus of defenders at his disposal, and while some look set to move on, he'll have plenty of players to work with. He has options galore for a back four and back three, putting Chelsea in strong position to push on and potentially challenge for the Premier League. New Chelsea signing Ben Chilwell in action for Leicester City last season. | Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images Of all the backline options Chelsea have, this is by far their strongest. Integrating their new recruits with their best defenders, it is a no brainer to deploy this back four for must-win games - of which there will definitely be many during the upcoming season. Keeping captain César Azpilicueta at right-back is crucial, as well as maintaining his rightful status as skipper. Chilwell will instantly be Lampards first choice on the left, though may need time to settle in and find his feet at Stamford Bridge. Silva is the obvious selection, which leaves Kurt Zouma as his lucky partner. The Frenchman was the Blues best centre-back in a tumultuous campaign, and with the quality shown and potential he has, Zouma can really grow into a top defender alongside his new Brazilian counterpart. Chelsea captain César Azpilicueta playing in the FA Cup Semi-Final. | Chris Lee - Chelsea FC/Getty Images When Lampard is in need of more defensive stability Azpilicueta can put in a solid shift at left-back. He can continue to play there when needed in Chilwells absence, opening up his favoured position for the promising Reece James. James will face even sterner competition to solidify his starting spot, but when he was given the chance last season, he was superb. When Silva needs to be rested - after all, he turns 36 in September - Zouma can remain and see one of his former partnerships restored. Fikayo Tomori could come in, but with rumours that he will be loaned out for the 2020/21 season, Andreas Christensen may start as third choice. Christensen and Zouma created a bittersweet partnership last season, but it may be worth another go. New signing Thiago Silva on the pitch with Paris Saint-Germain. | Soccrates Images/Getty Images If Tomori remains in the first-team setup, a few games alongside Silva would be hugely beneficial for him. Whether it is for rotation, tactics or due to an injury, no Azpilicueta again paves the way for James to start at right-back. It would also open the door to Alonso, who has a real point to prove now that Chilwell has arrived to seize his spot on the left flank. Alonso is a good choice to give Chelsea that extra attacking edge, though it is more likely that the Spaniard will be reserved for when a back three and he can play as a LWB. Chelsea's Kurt Zouma. | Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images Chelsea will continue to turn to a back three when necessary, a setup which saw the Blues secure some of the finest results of their season in 2019/20. Azpilicueta played a key part in holding them together, but alongside Silva they could become even more formidable. With the captain staying on the right side of defence, Silva is the ideal choice to start at the heart of the backline. The debate restarts on which remaining centre-back is the go-to man, but the selection stays the same. Zouma was always superb when playing in a back three, and that should be no different for the new season should Lampard need to revert to a back three. Chelsea's Antonio Rüdiger. | Marc Atkins/Getty Images Where does Antonio Rüdigers future at Stamford Bridge lie? The addition of Silva puts the German in peril, and in a season where he lost his starting spot on several occasions, his best opportunity may be in a back three when Chelsea are rotating their squad. In another instance of Azpilicuetas possible absence, Silva will comfortably fill in with the captains armband. Zoumas partnership with the Brazilian could be formidable, but it will be interesting to see how they operate with Rüdiger on the left. Whether he would strengthen or weaken the back three is debatable, with a mixed bag of performances when playing with Zouma. Defensive dilemmas certainly exist in west London, but with two excellent signings coming in, it is a newfound dilemma worth deliberating over for Lampard. For more from Nischal Schwager-Patel, follow him on Twitter here!
Players Who Have Scored in Both the Champions League and Europa League Final - 90min
Sevilla’s 3-2 win over Inter in the Europa League final had just about everything you could hope for in a major European showpiece. Five goals, a penalty, a pla
Sevillas 3-2 win over Inter in the Europa League final had just about everything you could hope for in a major European showpiece. Five goals, a penalty, a player scoring at both ends, dubious refereeing decisions and Ever Banega questioning Antonio Contes miraculously blossoming hairline (ok maybe the last one falls into the unexpected bonus category, but a worthy addition nonetheless). Amid this barnstormer of a contest, one impressive stat went a little under the radar, as Diego Godin joined an illustrious roll of honour in becoming just the sixth player to score in both the Champions League final and the Europa League final (or European Cup and UEFA Cup in old money). The final started so well for Inter, but - as they so often do - Sevilla found a way to be crowned Europa League champions | Pool/Getty Images However, despite five players achieving the feat before him, Godin did become the first player to score in both showpieces and end up on the losing side on both occasions, after his goal for Atleti against Real Madrid in the 2014 Champions League final ultimately proved futile, with Diego Simeones men losing 4-1 in extra time. Lets take a look at the other five big-game players to score in both finals and see whether their individual glory was capped with a winners medal. Simonsen spent time as the Faroe Islands' national team coach | GENT SHKULLAKU/Getty Images Former Denmark forward Allan Simonsen was a prolific goalscorer throughout his 18-year career, so its no surprise to see him on this list. His goals in the 1975 and 1979 UEFA Cup final for Borussia Mönchengladbach saw the German side triumph on both occasions. However, despite his lofty goal return and impressive list of employers including Spanish behemoths Barcelona, the European Cup was one trophy which would elude him, as his equaliser against Liverpool for Mönchengladbach in 1977 proved to be in vain after the Reds hit back to win 3-1 in Rome. Dmitri Alenichev lifts the Champions League trophy | FRANCK FIFE/Getty Images Despite spending just four seasons with Porto, Dmitri Alenichev enjoyed a hugely fruitful spell with the Portuguese side. His goal in the 2003 UEFA Cup final handed Porto the lead against Scottish giants Celtic, before Henrik Larsson's goal forced the game into extra time. However, José Mourinho was not to be denied his maiden piece of European silverware as a manger, as Brazilian striker Derlei struck the winner. The following year Porto would taste success in the Champions League, and yet again Alenichev was at the forefront of the triumph, as his late strike sealed a 3-0 win for the Portuguese champions against Monaco. Hernan Crespo tasted UEFA Cup success in 1999 with Parma | GABRIEL BOUYS/Getty Images Hernan Crespo had the pleasure of being part of that glorious Parma side of the late 90s, including Gianluigi Buffon and Fabio Cannavaro. So it's no surprise to hear the club tasted European glory, as Crespo's goal kicked off their emphatic 3-0 win over Marseille in the 1999 UEFA Cup final. However, despite being part of a star-studded AC Milan side six years later, the former Argentina international wouldn't enjoy such a fruitful final against Liverpool in the 2005 Champions League. Despite racing into a 3-0 lead - with his goal the pick of the bunch - Crespo would ultimately leave Istanbul with a runners-up medal after the Reds staged a nigh-on impossible comeback - more on that in a second. Steve Gerrard the Champions League trophy in 2005 | Etsuo Hara/Getty Images The ultimate clutch moment player (well, in a Liverpool shirt at least). His 16th minute goal against Alaves in the 2001 UEFA Cup final put Gerard Houllier's side in a commanding position, however, the Spanish side hit back and forced the game into extra time. Eventually the Merseysiders made it over the line thanks to a late own goal as they sealed a cup treble. Four years later and the England midfielder brought about the demise of Crespo and co. His looping header shortly after half-time against AC Milan gave his side a foothold in the game at 3-1, with Rafael Benitez's men delivering the most unlikely of comebacks to be crowned Champions League winners. Pedro is all smiles after Chelsea's 2019 Europa League triumph | Etsuo Hara/Getty Images Pedro's time at Barcelona was littered with silverware, including three Champions Leagues. The second of those European triumphs came in 2011, as the Spaniard opened the scoring against Manchester United at Wembley. Despite a Wayne Rooney equaliser, Sir Alex Ferguson's men were overpowered by the mighty Barça and Pep Guardiola's men prevailed. Having left the Catalan giants for Chelsea in 2015, Pedro would again go on to experience European success, this time in the 2019 Europa League. His goal in the final put the Blues 2-0 ahead on the night, as they eventually ran out 4-1 winners against a poor Arsenal side.
Lionel Messi 'Determined' to Leave Barcelona This Summer - Ronald Koeman Lined Up as Next Manager - 90min
It has been reported in South America that Lionel Messi could have played his final game for Barcelona, with sensational claims that the captain is 'determined'
It has been reported in South America that Lionel Messi could have played his final game for Barcelona, with sensational claims that the captain is 'determined' to leave this summer. Reports in Spain, meanwhile, suggest that Netherlands manager Ronald Koeman is being lined up as the man to replace Quique Setien, who looks certain to leave following Champions League humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich. It's not a good time to be Barcelona at present. The club is spiralling rapidly, and even Messi - on whom the club have relied so heavily to keep them competitive at the top - was unable to save a disastrous 2019/20 season. Atenção para a notícia: Messi quer deixar o Barcelona. Não em 2021. Agora. pic.twitter.com/XTcJwYIa2s Marcelo Bechler (@marcelobechler) August 16, 2020 The Catalan giants yielded their La Liga title to Real Madrid, and finished their campaign trophy-less after Bayern smashed eight goals past them on Friday evening - two of which came from Barcelona-owned Philippe Coutinho. The result has left the club scarred, so much so that Brazilian outlet Esporte Interativo, who were out in front with the news of Neymar's move to PSG, say that even Messi is prepared to give up. He's more than prepared, in fact - they say he is 'determined' to secure an exit this summer, a year ahead of his contract expiring in 2021. Where he could go is anyone's guess. Inter have been linked in the past, while a reunion with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City was also briefly discussed, but neither rumour looked particularly convincing. A return to Argentina with Newell's Old Boys? MLS-bound? We can speculate, but there really is nothing to indicate which direction he will head in if he does get his apparent wish to leave. Ronald Koeman now 'best placed' to become Barca manager, report Marca. Pochettino receiving push-back because of his Espanyol past, and saying he'd rather return to his Argentine farm than manage Barcelona. Sport Witness (@Sport_Witness) August 16, 2020 In less massive but still pretty groundbreaking Barcelona news, Marca have come out with a report noting that former Barca midfielder Koeman is the man most likely to replace Setien. Ex-Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino was in the frame, but his past with Catalan side Espanyol, during which he said he would 'rather work on a farm in Argentina than manage Barcelona' is said to have put directors off.
Why Atletico Madrid Will Win the Champions League - 90min
Diego Simeone must have been doing one of his crazy mad dashes around his bedroom that are usually reserved for the touchline when he heard the news regarding t
Diego Simeone must have been doing one of his crazy mad dashes around his bedroom - usually reserved for the touchline - when he heard the news regarding the change in this season's Champions League format. A one-off affair with no fans there to spur on the opposition to continue attacking until a game's dying embers? A game where his red and white wall can low block to their hearts content in borderline silence? The Argentine couldn't have designed it much better himself. Atletico's Champions League exit last season came at the hands of an inspired Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick in front of 40,000 screaming Turin natives. Holding out slender leads over 90 minutes rather than 180 with only a backdrop of Simeone's shrieks will be a much simpler task. One Atletico will relish. This is the sort of knock-out tournament that Los Rojiblancos are designed for. With all the drama that so often surrounds their enigmatic manager, it's easy to forget the quality that's on display at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium. Jan Oblak, Jose Gimenez, Saul Niguez and Koke are the envy of many European giants and £113m wonderkid Joao Felix can provide a moment of magic in attack. Atletico are also hitting form at just the right time. After struggling for much of the campaign and looking as though a battle for fourth may be beyond them, Simeone's side returned from the lockdown in fine fashion. Unbeaten in their final 11 La Liga matches, winning seven and only conceding six goals in the process, they secured third spot with a lot too spare. Now is not the time to be facing a team that's just rediscovered their formula for success. That is the task RB Leipzig face on Thursday night. A side that hasn't played a competitive fixture since 27 June and has lost it's star player in Timo Werner to Chelsea and modern football's twisted loyalties. Bayern are favourites for the Champions League but Atletico can't face them until the final | Matthias Hangst/Getty Images The semi-final draw also looks like a Simeone dream come true. Spanish rivals Barcelona, Pep Guardiola's Manchester City and almost everyone's tournament favourites Bayern Munich will have to fight it out before they get a chance to fire at Oblak's net. Their midweek opponents and one of either Atalanta or Paris Saint-Germain stand between Atletico and a maiden Champions League trophy. And although all are worthy of their place in the latter stages of Europe's elite competition, none will be giving the capital club sleepless nights. Leipzig will be rusty and 34 goals light. Atalanta have no European pedigree and will be without Josip Ilicic's 21 strikes and PSG are notorious bottlers when under the Champions League glare. Coupled with Kylian Mbappé's injury issues and the Parisian's short supply of recent fixtures, the Spaniards will be fancying their chances. Mbappe had to sit out of PSG's recent French League Cup victory due to injury | Jean Catuffe/Getty Images That would just leave the small matter of the final left to solve but anything can happen in those kind of games. Form and talent so often go out of the window and are replaced by which set of players are brave enough to handle the big occasion. A quality that runs through the core of every footballer to play under Simeone. A lot of footballers believe in fate. They often have rituals that they keep to religiously or superstitions that they stick by. And it feels like there may be an element of fate regarding Atletico's Champions League chances this year. Six years on from their devastating defeat at the hands of city rivals Real Madrid, Atletico will return to the stadium where they had their dreams so cruelly crushed if they reach the final. Sergio Ramos' 93rd minute equaliser in the Estadio da Luz back in 2014 set Carlo Ancelotti's men on their way to a 4-1 victory in extra time and Simeone failed to gain revenge two years later when Zinedine Zidane repeated the feat in his first six months of management. Simeone has the chance to win the Champions League in the stadium that Ramos and Real Madrid snatched away fro him six years ago | Jean Catuffe/Getty Images But now could be the time. Fate, fortune and form all appear to be in Atletico's corner and you'd be a brave man to bet against them.