Headlines Today: Man Utd close to signing Cunha from Atletico; Highlights of key matches yesterday

All the top stories and transfer rumours from Tuesday’s national newspapers…

Manchester United are close to signing Matheus Cunha from Atlético Madrid for around £50m.

Romano has been informed that the rumours of Manchester United and Mateusz Cunha are empty.

Romano says that Manchester United have had direct talks with Mateusz Cunha’s agent in the last few days, just like many others. As things stand, United have not yet reached an agreement with Atletico.

The report also states that Atletico want to sell Mateusz Cunha for more than €50 million this summer.

Liverpool 1-1 Crystal Palace | Highlights

Liverpool hosted Crystal Palace in the 2nd round of the EPL. In the first half, Milner missed a shot, Nunez shot high from the back post, Salah pushed a shot wide, Zaha scored with a single shot and Nunez hit the post from a small angle. In the second half, Nunez saw red with a header and Luis Diaz equalised with a long-range shot to make it 1-1 to Crystal Palace.

Juventus 3-0 Sassuolo | Highlights

In the first half, Di Maria fired a left-footed shot from the back post that bounced into the net. Just before half-time, Vlahovic took the penalty himself. In the second half, Di Maria assisted Vlahovic to add to his tally. The match ended with Juve beating Sassuolo 3-0 at home to open the new Serie A season.

Atletico Madrid 3-0 Getafe | Highlights

Atletico Madrid were away to Getafe. In the first half, Felix scored his first goal in his return to Atletico Madrid with an assist from Morata, while Mayoral hit the post. In the second half, Felix added a hat-trick of assists with two more strikes, Morata added a second with a shot from a tight angle and Griezmann came on as a substitute to score a brace. Atletico Madrid won 3-0 away to Getafe.

Napoli 5-2 Verona | Highlights

Verona was at home to Napoli. In the first half, Günter sent a header across the face of the goal for Lasagna to break through, before Lozano assisted Kvaracshelia to grab a header to equalise and before half time Di Lorenzo headed in front for Osmayne to score at the back post to put Napoli back in front. In the second half, Verona equalised with a header from Thomas Henry, assisted by Faraoni, before Kvaraccheria assisted Zielinski to put Napoli back in front, then Lobotka drove in and pushed the ball into the net to extend the lead. The match ended 2-5 to Verona against Napoli.

Ronaldo, Maguire told club to buy more

According to a new report in the Mirror, Ronaldo, Maguire and other players have told the club’s hierarchy to buy before the end of the transfer window after suffering two consecutive defeats in the new season.

After the 0-4 defeat against Brentford, core players including Ronaldo, Maguire, Rashford, Fernandes and Luke Shaw have reportedly told the club’s hierarchy that the team needs to make some more signings before the end of the transfer window.

A total of five players have left United this summer and so far they have signed three – Eriksen, Lisandro Martinez and Malasia – with the transfer window due to end on September 1.

United’s senior players believe that the club’s lack of decisive action in the transfer market this summer has left them with little hope of competing for the top four, with another mediocre and underachieving season to follow.

Kante to miss at least a month with hamstring injury

Chelsea midfielder Kante will miss at least one month due to an injury, according to French media sources.

Reports suggest that Kante suffered a right hamstring injury against Tottenham Hotspur and the Chelsea midfielder will undergo an MRI scan on Tuesday local time.

Kante seems unlikely to play for France in September, with Deschamps due to announce his squad on September 15.

Manchester United is in talks with De Tomas

According to journalist Pedro Morata, the Spaniard striker did not travel with the team to play away at Celta and is currently negotiating with Manchester United. De Tomas is not the only option for the Red Devils, but the club is interested in him. It is reported that the transfer fee for de Tomas could be between €25 million and €30 million.

De Tomas’ agent has recommended him to Manchester United, who have shown interest, but United have two more options. Previously De Tomas was recommended to Atletico Madrid with a bid of 40 million euros but was rejected by Atletico.

Last season, De Tomas played 36 games in all competitions for the Spaniards, contributing 17 goals and 3 assists.

Nottingham Forest also wants to sign Aouar and James Garner

According to Sky Sports, Nottingham Forest, who have been making a lot of reinforcements this summer, are also interested in Lyon’s Aouar and Manchester United’s James Garner.

So far Nottingham Forest has brought in as many as 15 recruits this summer, including Lingard, Dean Henderson, Avonyi, Neco Williams, Froile and Omar Richards.

Now according to Sky Sports, Nottingham Forest hasn’t stopped attracting reinforcements, as they have made initial contact with Lyon regarding the transfer of Omar. Meanwhile, Nottingham Forest is also looking at the situation of Manchester United midfielder James Garner, the England U21 international who played for them last season on loan, during which he played 49 games and scored 4 goals and 10 assists.

Fofana growing frustrated at the prospect of Chelsea’s move

Leicester City defender Wesley Fofana has reportedly become disillusioned with the prospect of a move to Chelsea.

An exclusive from Sky Sports reporter Lyle Thomas says that Fofana has become increasingly frustrated and feels left out of his dream of joining Chelsea.

In addition, Fofana is also unhappy with Leicester City’s desire to get a huge transfer fee of over £80 million from him as Maguire did.

DAILY MAIL

The long-running saga of Manchester United’s summer pursuit of Frenkie de Jong may have hit its final snag, with a report in Holland claiming the club’s offer to Barcelona has expired.

Hector Bellerin has requested that Arsenal terminate his £110,00-a-week contract at the club as he enters the final 12 months of his deal.

Manchester United have reportedly agreed to loan out Hannibal Mejbri to a Championship club on a season-long deal, with Birmingham City leading the race to get the Tunisian teen.

DAILY STAR

Everton are ready to ramp up their efforts to sign Billy Gilmour as Chelsea look to make another bid for Anthony Gordon before the end of the transfer window.

DAILY MIRROR

Manchester United’s players have sent an SOS to the club’s hierarchy to make the signings they need to recover from their disastrous start to the season.

Chelsea have made a £45m approach for Anthony Gordon. Though his club Everton do not want to sell the prize asset they have developed through the academy, there is an awareness he now wants to leave.

Jurgen Klopp has escalated his war of words with UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin after being told to stop complaining about the increasingly demanding workload on top-level footballers.

THE TIMES

Erik ten Hag has shifted his stance on Cristiano Ronaldo’s request to exit Manchester United and is open to selling the Portugal international in the transfer window.

Chelsea will wait for the findings of a new independent panel before deciding whether to lodge a formal complaint about the referee Anthony Taylor.

Chelsea are ready to increase their offer for Anthony Gordon as Everton’s stance that the winger is not for sale comes under severe test.

THE SUN

Manchester United are battling Chelsea to sign Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Watford players “openly celebrated” Emmanuel Dennis’ departure to Nottingham Forest, according to reports.

Brazilian star Joao Gomes has revealed Liverpool would be his dream Premier League move.

Marcos Alonso has agreed personal terms with Barcelona, according to reports.

THE ATHLETIC 

Tottenham have appointed Leonardo Gabbanini – one of the key men in the Pozzo scouting network – as the club’s new chief scout.

Former football agent and Doncaster Rovers talent identification manager Graham Younger is one of the new faces behind the scenes at Watford having taken up a role in the club’s recruitment team.

Ronaldo: I’m not happy with what we are achieving at Man Utd

The Portuguese has taken to social media to reflect on a turbulent year that saw him return to Old Trafford from Juventus

Cristiano Ronaldo has admitted that he is “not happy” with what Manchester United are achieving while calling for “higher spirit and a stronger mentality” in the dressing room.

Ronaldo completed arguably the biggest transfer of 2021 when he rejoined United from Juventus for £20 million ($27m) in August.

The 36-year-old has since proven that he has lost none of his sharpness in front of goal by finding the net 14 times in 21 appearances, but the Red Devils have not been nearly as consistent as a collective, which he admits has been a source of major frustration.

What’s been said?

Ronaldo took to social media to reflect on another stellar year that also saw him round off his time at Juve with two more domestic trophies before taking home the Golden Boot for Portugal at the European Championships.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner is demanding far more from his United team-mates in the second half of the season, though, as he wrote on Instagram: “2021 is coming to an end and it was far from being an easy year, despite my 47 goals scored across all competitions.

“At Juventus, I was proud to win the Italian Cup and the Italian Supercup, and become the Serie A Top Scorer. For Portugal, becoming the Euro Top Scorer was also a high point this year. And of course, my return to Old Trafford will always be one of the most iconic moments in my career.

“But I’m not happy with what we are achieving in Man United. None of us are happy, I’m sure of that. We know that we have to work harder, play better and deliver way more than we are delivering right now.

“Let’s make this New Year’s Eve a turning point of the season! Let’s embrace 2022 with a higher spirit and a stronger mentality. Let’s take us above and beyond, let’s reach for the stars and put this club right where it belongs! Join us, we’re counting on all of you!

“Happy New Year and see you soon!”

Can United still salvage their 2021-22 campaign?

With the additions of Ronaldo, Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho in the summer transfer window, the Red Devils initially looked well placed to challenge for the title at the start of the season under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

United started brightly but quickly faded, suffering humiliating defeats at the hands of Liverpool, Manchester City and Watford, with Solskjaer ultimately paying the price with his job.

Ralf Rangnick has now taken the managerial reins on an interim basis, and has overseen three wins and two draws from his first five games at the helm, with Wolves up next on Monday.

A 3-1 victory against Burnley last time out, during which Ronaldo netted his eighth Premier League goal of the campaign, served to raise fresh optimism, but United now have a real fight on their hands to finish in the top four.

An early exit in the Carabao Cup saw another chance for silverware fall by the wayside, but supporters will hope that Ronaldo and Co. can go all the way in either the Champions League or FA Cup as Rangnick continues to try and mould the squad in his own image.

‘Ronaldo’s work off the ball, chapeau’ – Man Utd star’s pressing impresses Rangnick as new manager starts with a win

The new interim manager wants his team to press their opponents high up the field and was impressed by the Portugal star’s work up front

Ralf Rangnick has praised Cristiano Ronaldo for his work off the ball as the German coach’s reign at Manchester United started with a 1-0 win against Crystal Palace.

A goal from Fred in the second half of the clash at Old Trafford was enough to see the Red Devils secure the three points in the first match under the new interim boss.

Rangnick was pleased with the way they played, and highlighted Ronaldo’s effort as United got their first taste of the new pressing system the manager is looking to implement.

What has been said?

“I am very happy with the way the team performed, especially the first half-hour, with the pressing, it was exceptional. The only thing missing was the 1-0 or 2-0,” he told BBC Match of the Day.

“The way we defended, we had control of the whole game, the clean sheet was the most important part.

“These are the things we must improve. We need to keep clean sheets. With just the one training session, I was really impressed. We did much better than expected.

“We always tried to be on the front foot. We were never not apart from maybe the last five minutes. At all other times we were trying to keep them away from our goal.

“We wanted to play with two strikers, especially in the central position. By the way, Cristiano Ronaldo’s work off the ball, chapeau.”

What do Man Utd players think of Rangnick’s style?

Much has been made of the playing style the former RB Leipzig and Hoffenheim coach is expected to introduce at Old Trafford, with the team expected to press teams high up the pitch.

United star Bruno Fernandes was delighted with the start they had against Palace as they closed their opponents down and played at a high tempo.

“It depends on the game,” he told Premier League Productions.

“Sometimes you have to press a little bit more, sometimes you have to press less and everyone knows that it’s one of the things that the manager wants from us. More pressure, to be more aggressive. We tried to do it [today].

“I think the first 25 minutes from us was unbelievable, great tempo and we don’t give any space to them. We recovered a lot of balls high up the pitch. We could have scored many times in the first half I think, at least three times we could do a little more.

“But we got the three points and that’s the most important thing.”

High-press and fluid formations: Rangnick’s Man Utd revolution off to the perfect start

Fred’s long-range winning goal against Crystal Palace capped off a hugely encouraging first outing for the Red Devils under their new interim boss

Ralf Rangnick went into his first Manchester United game with two aims: to win, and to oversee a controlled display from his new team.

On Sunday, he succeeded on both counts.

The 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace did not mark a blistering start to the new regime at Old Trafford, but this was a performance to bring hope and promise that Rangnick, with a bit more practice, could bring success back to United.

Much like the end result is unlikely to cause major headlines once the dust settles, Rangnick arrived in the dugout for the first time to little fanfare.

He walked out merged in with the rest of the coaching staff, and stadium announcer Alan Keegan made no special declaration that a new manager was in town.

But even those who may have had their heads in the sand for the last three weeks and were not aware that United had made a new coaching appointment would have realised from the off that this was a different side to the one that has struggled through the early months of the season.

He may have picked the same line-up that had beaten Arsenal on Thursday – which given he only had one training session with his new players was hardly a surprise – but the team’s style of play was already markedly different.

Right from kick-off United pressed with purpose. It is not that they had not pressed in the past, but this time there seemed to at least be a structure to it.

Gone were individuals aimlessly hounding opposition players hoping for the best as they did so many times under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Here they pressed as a pack, and it almost bore fruit after just three minutes, as Alex Telles saw a shot pushed out for a corner after the ball had been won back deep in Palace territory.

A switch of formation to Rangnick’s favoured 4-2-2-2 resulted in the team being more direct in their attacking play, too. With half-an-hour gone, Marcus Rashford had created three chances, Cristiano Ronaldo had attempted five shots and Jadon Sancho looked lively as he switched positions with Bruno Fernandes behind the front two.

In total, United managed 12 efforts on goal during the first half, with all that was missing was that final clinical pass or shot.

Rangnick, who spent the majority of the match in the technical area, seemed encouraged by what he was seeing, as he applauded each attempt on Vicente Guaita’s goal. Their pressing was clearly paying off, as across the duration of the match they won possession 12 times in Palace’s defensive third. Their previous best in a league match this season was seven times.

“It has been an average season so far, there is no avoiding that, but the club has players who are much better than the position we currently occupy, and it is my job to improve those players and that position,” Rangnick wrote in his first programme notes. “The first step in doing that is a shift in how the collective approaches games.

“If you want to win a football match, you have to control it, so the aim right now is to help the team control games more. That means being more proactive with and without the ball.”

That proactivity was clear, though the energy levels required to keep that up over the course of 90 minutes is something United’s players will need to reach going forward as they began to flag after just 20 minutes of the first half.

That said, they still recorded season highs for first-half passes into the final third (48), first-half touches in the opposition box (26) and first-half passes into the opposition box (26), among other metrics.

“I didn’t expect us to play on that level after only one-and-a-half training days with the players,” Rangnick told Sky Sports post-match. “The first half-hour was amazing. It was high-intensity, high-speed, high-tempo.

“The way we played against the ball, the whole game was in their (Palace’s half). I was positively surprised.”

Rangnick did his best to maintain his team’s intensity after the break, and could be seen wildly gesturing with his arms on the touchline as he looked for a solution to break down Patrick Vieira’s visitors.

The ex-RB Leipzig boss introduced Mason Greenwood and Anthony Elanga from the bench in a bid to spark his attack back into life, but in the end it was Fred who provided the moment of magic that United required.

The Brazil international’s curling shot from 20 yards out earned a celebratory punch of the air from his new manager as the home faithful were sent into raptures by the unlikeliest of goalscoring heroes.

Despite the win, this was not a perfect 90 minutes from United. There was, though, clear progress, and having only met his players for the first time 48 hours ago, that is as much as Rangnick could have asked for.

The control he demanded in his programme notes was certainly there as David de Gea was rarely tested on his way to securing United’s first clean sheet at Old Trafford since April, and with consecutive league wins for the first time since September, the fight for a top-four finish is on ahead of what looks to be a forgiving run of fixtures.

The Rangnick revolution has begun, and the signs are encouraging for all those related to Manchester United.

Rangnick explains how Ronaldo fits into his Man Utd plans and why he turned down Chelsea, Haaland transfer bonus talk & more

The Red Devils’ new interim manager has been discussing the Portuguese star’s role in his team

Ralf Rangnick has officially taken charge at Manchester United, with the interim boss at Old Trafford revealing how Cristiano Ronaldo figures in his plans and how foundations for long-term success will be put in place.

The German has been cleared to inherit the reins from caretaker coach Michael Carrick, who is walking away completely after three games at the helm, with a visa finally granted.

There is much for Rangnick to do in the wake of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s dismissal, particularly how Ronaldo will fit into his plans.

What has been said?

Ronaldo was dropped to the bench by Carrick for the trip to Chelsea, but returned to the United starting XI with a bang as he passed the 800 goal mark for his career in a thrilling 3-2 victory over Arsenal.

Rangnick was in attendance for that game and said at his introductory press conference: ”You always have to adapt your style or your idea of football to the players you have available, not vice-versa.

“Having seen Cristiano yesterday in the second half at the age of 36, an amazing top professional. At his age, I’ve never seen a player who is still that physically fit. He’s still a player who can easily make the difference.

“So, yes, it’s about how we can develop the whole team not only Cristiano. We play in the most competitive league in the world so we need all the players on board.

“What I saw from Cristiano yesterday, he is more than willing to do that, to put his input into the team. His team-mates will have to do the same.”

Why turned down Chelsea?

Ralf Rangnick has confirmed that Chelsea offered him the chance to take over as interim manager last season, before they settled on Thomas Tuchel as Frank Lampard’s permanent replacement.

Rangnick has since been snapped up by Manchester United on a temporary basis, taking over until the end of the season as head coach before he moves into an advisory role for a further two years.

After red tape delayed his appearance on the touchline – the German was forced to watch United’s victory over Arsenal on Thursday from the stands – he will finally be in the dugout for his new side’s meeting with Crystal Palace.

Speaking before that game, Rangnick explained why he turned down a Premier League move with Chelsea before being tempted to England by the Red Devils’ offer.

“When Chelsea contacted me last year, they only spoke about the option to become interim manager for four months, without any prospective to work in the long term together,” he said.

“Now here we are talking about six-and-a-half months, so we only have one third of the games played in the Premier League.

“We have also agreed on a two-year advisory role after those six-and-a-half months. In the end, to be honest, if a club like Manchester United contacts you for such a role you cannot possibly turn it down.”

Rangnick arrives at Old Trafford with United lagging behind his former suitors. The Red Devils currently sit in seventh, 12 points behind leaders Chelsea at the top of the Premier League table.

Will additions be made?

Rangnick has arrived in England with another transfer window fast approaching, but claims to have no recruitment plans in place yet.

He said when asked about possible additions in January: “We haven’t spoken about new players.

“Now is the time to get to know the current squad in detail, the squad is definitely not too small. There are enough players.

“Maybe after Christmas, there will be a time to talk about possible transfers in the winter. In my experience, winter is not the time for sustainable transfers. It will be difficult in the winter.”

There have been suggestions that United will look to use Rangnick’s presence as a bargaining chip to prise Erling Haaland away from Borussia Dortmund, with the 63-year-old having previously spent time working with the Norwegian striker as sporting director at Red Bull Salzburg.

Bonuses are said to be up for grabs if such a deal can be put in place, but Rangnick has laughed off those reports.

He said: “£10 million [$13m] for Haaland, £10m for [Kylian] Mbappe, £10m for [Robert] Lewandowski and £10m for [Joshua] Kimmich.

“This is nonsense. There is no such clause in my contract. There is little point in speculating over new players. I know what kind of player he is, but in the meantime, the whole world has realised how good the player is.

“The offensive players we have here, we have so many top players in the offensive department that we don’t need to speak about any other player.”

How long will Rangnick stay?

For now, Rangnick is eager to keep focus on the present as he has only signed up to six months in the dugout before shifting into an advisory role.

He said of his position: “The people who I’ve spoken with, they have been very clear that it is a six-month role. We have never spoken about what will happen in the summer.

“If they will speak about me with that, we will see. if they ask me about my opinion, I might make the same recommendation that I did at RB Leipzig twice, that it might be better to work with me for one year.

“It’s not unusual that after a long, successful spell, the club needs to find a new pathway. The club has had no continuity in signing new players and sticking to the DNA of the club.

“In the future, the board members and my self have the same opinion. It’s important not to have many changes in management.”

Further reading

‘Factos 👀👍’ – Cristiano Ronaldo Comments On A Post Saying Messi Robbed The Ballon d’Or

Carrick ends 15-year Man Utd stay as interim boss announced departure following Arsenal victory

Will Chelsea still be at the top of the EPL table by January 2022? 

Watch: Ronaldo scores 800th career goal as Man Utd defeat Arsenal

The forward has continued to pour in goals in important situations for the Red Devil as he becomes the first professional footballer to reach 800 goals milestone

Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 800th career goal in all competitions on Thursday against Arsenal to briefly give his side a 2-1 lead before converting the match-winning penalty for No.801 after the Gunners had equalised.

The forward is recognised as the all-time top men’s goalscorer, and he has continued to reach significant milestones upon his return to the Red Devils.

Ronaldo has made a habit of netting in important moments this year, as he’s scored at least once in each of his five Champions League appearances, including two late winners, and scored six times in the Premier League.

Watch: Ronaldo scores 800th career goal

Ronaldo found the back of the net by sliding in a low pass from Marcus Rashford for his 800th goal.

What has been said?

“Incredible,” midfielder Bruno Fernandes told Amazon of Ronaldo. “We all know he is improving game by game, year by year.

“He wants to keep being the best and that’s what he did. He knows how to self-motivate.”

Ronaldo’s goalscoring by team

Ronaldo has scored the most goals at Real Madrid with 450.

He’s now bagged 130 at Manchester United, as well as 115 with the Portugal national team, 101 with Juventus and five with Sporting CP.

Further reading

‘Factos’ – Cristiano Ronaldo Comments On A Post Saying Messi Robbed The Ballon d’Or

Carrick ends 15-year Man Utd stay as interim boss announced departure following Arsenal victory

Will Chelsea still be at the top of the EPL table by January 2022? 

‘Factos’ – Cristiano Ronaldo Comments On A Post Saying Messi Robbed The Ballon d’Or

On Monday, footballer Lionel Messi was awarded his seventh Ballon d’Or in Paris.

The Paris Saint-Germain star was given the prestigious French football award at the 65th annual ceremony, but his rival Ronaldo seemingly thinks that he deserved it more.

When a fan account ranted about how Ronaldo was robbed of the Ballon d’Or this week, the footballer himself showed his agreement in the comments.

FAN CLAIMS RONALDO DESERVED BALLON D’OR

A popular Instagram Ronaldo fan account called @cr7.o_lendario, who has 325,000 followers, took to Instagram to post their reaction to Messi winning the Ballon d’Or.

First, they listed Ronaldo’s many achievements this year before saying: “Regardless of his age, [Ronaldo] is a guy who continues to perform miracles and impresses the world most often.”

He then went on to say that Ronaldo was robbed and deserved the Ballon D’Or over Messi, writing:

“Cristiano was way better, and the prize goes to who? For Messi, who only won Copa do Ei for Barcelona, hasn’t scored a goal against Real Madrid since Cristiano left and missed in the big games of the season.”

The Instagram user continued to list Messi’s lack of achievements before saying:

“For Ronaldo to win this award he has to be 300% unquestionable. It’s not use scoring the most beautiful goal of the the year, being champion of everything for a club, top scorer of everything and scoring a hat-trick in the world cup.”

“With Messi, it’s the opposite. He can have a low season, way down, they’ll always find a way to favour him and give him the award. Steal. Dirt. Shame. It’s just unfortunate,” he concluded before adding:

“Those who are intelligent enough know who deserves the truth. Receiving awards without deserving it, is false happiness, without pride. Regardless of those awards, C27 will always be the best in history.”

RONALDO COMMENTS ‘FACTOS’

Ronaldo himself read the fan’s Instagram post and decided to show his support in the comments.

He commented the word “Factos” alongside a thumbs up and eyes emoji, which means “facts” in Spanish and Portuguese.

The Manchester United footballer was seemingly saying that he agrees that he deserved the Ballon d’Or, and the comment was a sly dig at his rival Messi.

RONALDO SAYS WINNING BALLON D’OR AWARDS ISN’T HIS AMBITION

Despite commenting “Factos” and claiming he deserved the Ballon d’Or awards, Ronaldo recently revealed that winning more Ballon d’Ors isn’t his only ambition.

On Friday, days before the Ballon d’Or ceremony, French editor Pascal Ferre told the New York Times: “Ronaldo has only one ambition, and that is to retire with more Ballons d’Or than Messi – and I know that because he has told me.”

Ronaldo then slammed his claims on Instagram, writing: “Pascal Ferre lied, he used my name to promote himself and to promote the publication he works for.”

“It is unacceptable that the person responsible for awarding such a prestigious prize could lie in this way, in absolute disrespect for someone who has always respected France Football and the Ballon d’Or,” he continued.

“The biggest ambition of my career is to win national and international titles for the clubs I represent and for the national team in my country. The biggest ambition of my career is to leave my name written in golden letters in the history of world football.”

Messi wins historic SEVENTH Ballon d’Or; Chelsea awarded ‘Club of the Year’; Donnarumma gets Yashin Trophy; Lewandowski picks up the ‘Striker of the Year’; Putellas wins Women’s Ballon d’Or

Argentina and Paris Saint-Germain forward Lionel Messi won the 2021 Ballon d’Or, his record-extending seventh player of the year award in his career. He beat out Bayern Munich and Poland forward Robert Lewandowski, who was the other top contender.

FC Barcelona star attacking midfielder Alexia Putellas won the women’s award, PSG goalkeeper Gigi Donnarumma was voted the best goalkeeper in the world, and another Barcelona player, 19-year-old Pedri, was named the best men’s Under-21 player in the world.

Robert Lewandowski was named the inaugural Striker of the Year as the top scorer for club and country, while Chelsea FC took home the Club of the Year with the most candidates across the Ballon d’Or awards.

LIONEL MESSI WINS HIS SEVENTH BALLON D’OR🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆

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Lionel Messi has won an historic seventh Ballon d’Or after picking up the prestigious individual award at a ceremony in Paris.

The 34-year-old has now won the Ballon d’Or in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019 and 2021, meaning he has lifted the prize handed to the best player in world football more times than any other male player in its history, two clear of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Messi beat out Robert Lewandowski who finished in second place and Chelsea midfielder Jorghino who was ranked third in the voting.

The forward added to his 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2019 trophies after winning the Copa America for the first time with his country last July.

“It’s incredible to be here again. Two years ago I thought it was the last time. Winning the Copa America was key”, Messi said at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris.

Messi, who joined Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer from Barcelona during the summer, collected 613 points, with Bayern Munich’s Lewandowski, named best striker on Monday, getting 580.

Jorginho, who won the Champions League with Chelsea and the European Championship with Italy, ended up third on 460, ahead of France’s Karim Benzema and N’Golo Kante in fourth and fifth places respectively.

Club of the year: Chelsea FC

2021 was a memorable one for Chelsea and they have been handed the award for the Club of the Year!

Of course, Thomas Tuchel’s team won the Champions League and are top of the Premier League while Emma Hayes’ side made the final of the Women’s Champions League last season.

N’Golo Kante: 5th in the Ballon d’Or

Jorginho: 3rd in the Ballon d’Or

Chelsea: 2021 Club of the Year

What a run for Chelsea!

Best Goalscorer Award

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Robert Lewandowski and the newly-created Striker of the Year award

Bayern Munich and Poland striker Lewandowski has won the Striker of the Year award! He enjoyed an excellent 2021, breaking Gerd Muller’s long-standing record for the most Bundesliga goals in a single season!

Yashin Trophy

Italy and PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma has won the 2021 Yashin Trophy, beating out Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy who had been tipped for the award.

Donnarumma won the Best Player award at Euro 2020 and made the switch from AC Milan to the French capital in the summer.

Gianluigi Donnarumma beats out the likes of Edouard Mendy (2nd), Jan Oblak (3rd), Ederson (4th), Manuel Neuer (5th), Emiliano Martinez (6th).

Women’s Ballon d’Or

What an extraordinary year it’s been for Women’s Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas, who is crowned the winner ahead of stars Jenni Hermoso, Sam Kerr and Vivianne Miedema.

Congratulations, Alexia!

Kopa Trophy

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Pedri has won the Kopa trophy handed to the best male player age 21 or under. It’s certainly true that the teenager had an incredible year for Barcelona and Spain!

Bukayo Saka came sixth in the voting with Mason Greenwood fifth and Jude Bellingham in second place!

2021 Kopa Trophy Ranking:

1 | Pedri
2 | Jude Bellingham
3 | Jamal Musiala
4 | Nuno Mendes
5 | Mason Greenwood
6 | Bukayo Saka
7 | Florian Wirtz
8 | Ryan Gravenberch
9 | Giovanni Reyna
9 | Jérémy Doku

More to follow… Keep refreshing the page to getting more information!

Men’s Ballon d’Or Rankings (2nd to 10th)

Lewandowski at 2nd place in the Ballon d’Or rankings

Kante 5th, Benzema 4th, Jorginho 3rd!

Ronaldo 6th, Salah 7th De Bruyne 8th

There will be no sixth Ballon d’Or for Cristiano Ronaldo this evening with the Portuguese forward finishing sixth in the ranking! Sixth-place Ronaldo finishes outside the top five in the Ballon d’Or for the first time since 2010.

Kevin de Bruyne has been ranked sixth in the Ballon d’Or voting with Mohamed Salah in seventh place! Both players have enjoyed brilliant years with Salah arguably in the form of his life right now!

Of course, de Bruyne helped Manchester City to their third Premier League title in four years.

MBAPPE 9TH, DONNARUMMA 10TH!

World Cup European Play-Off draw: Either Italy or Portugal will NOT qualify for the 2022 World Cup

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal must overcome Turkey and then either Italy or North Macedonia to secure a place at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar after Europe’s play-off draw was made on Friday.

The nature of the draw means that it is impossible for Portugal and Italy, who have won the last two European Championships between them, to both now qualify for the World Cup.

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This is the second stage of the European section of the qualifying process, with 10 countries from the original group stage already assured of their place at next year’s finals.

The 10 group winners, including England, France, Germany and Belgium, automatically booked their ticket to Qatar. The 10 group runners-up, plus the two best countries from the last UEFA Nations League campaign who failed to finish in the top two, get another chance for the last three places.

The process has been split into three mini-tournaments – paths A, B and C – with the winner of each securing one of those last coveted European places at the World Cup.

No frills, no complications…a one-legged semi-final and one-legged final is all that stands between three of these 12 countries and a trip to Qatar next winter.
All six semi-finals are to be played on 24 March 2022, with each final to follow on 29 March.

2022 World Cup play-off draw – Europe
Path A
Scotland vs Ukraine – 24 March 2022
Wales vs Austria – 24 March 2022
Final – Wales/Austria vs Scotland/Ukraine – 29 March 2022
Path A winner qualifies for the 2022 World Cup
Path B
Russia vs Poland – 24 March 2022
Sweden vs Czech Republic – 24 March 2022
Final – Russia/Poland vs Sweden/Czech Republic – 29 March 2022
Path B winner qualifies for the 2022 World Cup
Path C
Italy vs North Macedonia- 24 March 2022
Portugal vs Turkey – 24 March 2022
Final – Portugal/Turkey vs Italy/North Macedonia – 29 March 2022
Path C winner qualifies for the 2022 World Cup

Portugal and Italy have been drawn into the same World Cup Playoff group which means only ONE can advance to Qatar 2022.

Scotland will face Ukraine in their 2022 World Cup play-off semi-final, with Wales facing Austria in Cardiff.

Should both teams win, they will play each other for a place at the World Cup.

Chelsea host Juve, Carrick’s Utd coaching debut, Xavi’s honeymoon – Opera Football Champions League (Tuesday) Preview & Predictions

Welcome! We’re on matchday five of the Champions League now, and here’re all you need to know before the Tuesday matches start! Before our preview begins, please do not hesitate to subscribe to the matches you’re waiting for on our ‘Opera Football’ app, you will surely receive one of the quickest and best livescores & event pushes once the match starts!

Villarreal vs Manchester Utd

How to watch Villarreal vs Manchester United in the 2021-22 Champions  League from India? | Goal.com

Both teams are on seven points at the top of this UEFA Champions League (UCL) group, and depending on Atalanta’s result, Group F can be won with a matchday to spare. Villarreal enter this clash with something to prove, having dropped two points despite leading at half-time in their weekend match at Celta Vigo, although that was a fourth game unbeaten across their last five (W2, D2, L1).
A Villarreal win would see them equal the ten-point tally that was sufficient to win a group containing Manchester United back in their debut UCL campaign (2005/06). History awaits if the hosts can utilise home advantage from the start, as the ‘Yellow Submarine’ are yet to win a H2H (D5, L1) or score before half-time in a UCL clash against the ‘Red Devils’.

The sole defeat in that record came via a devastating stoppage-time winner from Man United’s Cristiano Ronaldo in the reverse clash on matchday two. Times have changed though, and United travel after a bruising 4-1 defeat to Watford on Saturday. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked following, after a third defeat by a 2+ goal margin in five matches.
A win here at the Estadio de la Cerámica should all but secure top spot for United, given their relatively easier finish to this group stage with a game at home to Young Boys on the final matchday. That said, the three-time European champions have conceded 2+ goals in each of their last four UCL away games (D1, L3), illustrating the task that lies ahead for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s replacement.
Players to watch: Villarreal’s Arnaut Danjuma has seen two of his last four goals come in stoppage time of either half. Ronaldo could be ready to haunt Villarreal again though, as he’s closed the scoring in each of Man United’s last three UCL outings (W2, D1).
Hot stat: Each of Villarreal’s UCL games this term have seen at least one goal beyond the 80th minute.
Our prediction: Villarreal 1-1 Manchester Utd

Dyn. Kyiv vs Bayern Munich

Dynamo Kyiv-Bayern | UEFA Champions League | UEFA.com

A 6-1 victory at the weekend pushed Dynamo Kiev top of the Ukrainian Premier League by virtue of goal difference (W12, D2, L1) although the hosts need to improve upon their UEFA Champions League (UCL) form if they’re to qualify from Group E. Sat five points behind second-placed Barcelona with two matches to play, that’s likely to prove a tall order but a third-placed finish and potential Europa League campaign could prove a handy consolation.
The hosts’ attacking output will need to improve drastically if that’s a possibility though. That’s because Dynamo have failed to score in their four UCL matches this campaign (D1, L3) whilst they’ve mustered just nine shots on target, three less than Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski has managed on his own (12)!

Visiting Bayern suffered a shock 2-1 Bundesliga loss to Augsburg last time out, but with the German champions already guaranteed qualification from UCL Group E after four wins from four outings, the pressure is off for this long trip to Ukraine. In fact, top spot in the group will be secured with a game to spare if Bayern can avoid defeat here.
What will be a cause for concern though, is Bayern’s poor recent away record against Ukrainian opposition. The visitors are winless in their last three such matches (D2, L1) and were defeated 2-0 in their last away H2H in 2000. They’re unlikely to be held goalless again here however, as Julian Nagelsmann’s outfit are currently averaging a whopping four goals per match across all competitions this season.
Players to watch: Dynamo’s Vitaliy Buyalskyi has eight goals in 13 league outings this campaign after netting a brace in his last match. Bayern’s Lewandowski has scored in his last eight UCL appearances and is looking to become the first player in competition history to net in nine straight matches on more than one occasion.
Hot stat: Bayern could become the first ever team to score four or more goals in four straight UCL matches.
Our prediction: Dyn. Kyiv 1-4 Bayern Munich

Barcelona vs Benfica

How to watch Barcelona vs Benfica in the 2021-22 Champions League from  India? | Goal.com

A season record 74,418 fans at the Camp Nou witnessed club legend Xavi Hernández’s Barcelona managerial bow in a 1-0 win over Espanyol last weekend. As Xavi etches his name into the record books as the fifth individual to both play for and manage the ‘Blaugrana’ in the UEFA Champions League (UCL), the need for three points supersedes emotion as a win will guarantee progress from the group stages for an 18th season in a row, something which looked beyond reach after starting with consecutive 3-0 losses.
While back-to-back 1-0 UCL wins have put them in pole position for second place, Barça remain shot-shy with only Malmö (four) having fewer shots on target in the competition than their six. Yet, their 11 first-half shots over the weekend vs Espanyol (four on target) is Barça’s season-best for the first period in all competitions, hinting at a change of focus and possibly fortunes.

The scars of a 3-0 loss to Benfica are still fresh though, with that win ending the Portuguese side’s 60-year wait for a win over Barcelona. Back-to-back domestic wins before this trip just plaster over their diminishing UCL form, as Benfica have conceded nine goals across their last two matchdays after starting the group stage with two clean sheets.
Benfica last progressed from the UCL group stages in 2016/17, with the ‘Eagles’ winning just once across their last 13 UCL competition proper away games (W1, D3, L9), and conceding an average of 2.85 goals per game. Whilst a win here would see them leapfrog their hosts – with an easier final matchday ahead – the fanfare surrounding the homecoming of Xavi will make this a difficult assignment for the visitors.
Players to watch: Memphis Depay’s match-winning penalty over the weekend for Barcelona made it a joint-league high seven La Liga points won via his goals (seven) this season. Meanwhile, Benfica’s history-chasing Darwin Núñez has three UCL goals this season and can become just the third player to net three against Barcelona in a single group stage, after his brace in Lisbon.
Hot stat: The team scoring first has lost only once in Barcelona’s 17 competitive matches this
Our prediction: Barcelona 1-0 Benfica

Chelsea vs Juventus

Chelsea vs. Juventus, Champions League: Preview, team news, how to watch -  We Ain't Got No History

It’s going swimmingly in the Premier League for Chelsea who currently sit at the top of the table, yet there’s work to be done if they want to finish top of UEFA Champions League (UCL) Group H (W3, L1). Their one defeat, which came against Juventus in the reverse fixture (1-0), was also the only game in which they conceded in this competition. Consequently they’re three points off the Italian giants with two rounds to play, making this a real six-pointer.
With qualification into the knockout stage all but secure, it’ll be revenge and finishing first that will be the driving motivation heading into this clash. Not only did the ‘Blues’ suffer their first UCL defeat since April against the ‘Old Lady’, but that fixture also extended their winless H2H run against the two-time competition winners to four matches (D2, L2), the last two of which ended in defeat ‘to nil’.

Another win for Massimiliano Allegri’s Juventus would create history. Not only would his team become the first to record three consecutive UCL victories against Chelsea, but they’d also be the first to win four consecutive UCL/European Cup away matches against English opponents. This is a feat they’ll surely be backing themselves to do given their 100% record in the competition so far.
Whilst success on the continent has masked their domestic woes this season – they currently sit outside Serie A’s top six – overall form does look to be on an upward trajectory. They’ve lost only two of their last 11 competitive matches (W8, D1), restricting their opponents to one goal or less in seven of those clashes.
Players to watch: Chelsea’s ever-present creative threat Reece James has registered an assist in three of his last four matches for club and country, whilst Juventus’ Federico Chiesa scored second-half goals in the last H2H and in his team’s most recent UCL win.
Hot stat: Chelsea have won just one of their last ten UCL matches vs Italian opposition (D3, L6).
Our prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Juventus

Lille vs Salzburg

Salzburg vs Lille (Champions League) Highlights

After domestic stalemates over the weekend, Lille and Salzburg turn their attention to their penultimate Group G fixture of the 2021/22 UEFA Champions League (UCL). Starting this matchday occupying the top two places in the group, both clubs could almost certainly book their place in the next stage of the tournament if they get a result, a welcome surprise given that neither team has advanced from a UCL group stage for 15 years!
Lille have hosted two scoreless draws in this group stage against the other two Group G clubs to date (Wolfsburg and Sevilla) and after registering a further three draws from their last four Ligue 1 fixtures – albeit with goals scored in all three – the hosts will be challenging for the title of biggest forearms in Europe after all the arm wrestling they’ve participated in!

Salzburg’s attackers are in need of an energy drink after the team registered just two goals across their last three matches in all competitions (W1, D1, L1). Whilst consecutive clean sheets in the league has kept their enormous lead at the top of the Austria Bundesliga intact, both teams have scored in all six of their UEFA matches this season and thus their recent solid defending appears unlikely to continue.
They’ll even do well to keep Lille off the scoresheet in the first half, having registered three 1-1 results at the break across their four group stage games so far, although the exception did come in their 2-1 home win in the reverse fixture. With an inaugural Round of 16 place to be secured with victory, there’ll be no shortage of both nerves and motivation for the Austrian outfit.
Players to watch: Lille striker Jonathan David has scored first for his club or country in five of his last six appearances of at least 20 minutes, whilst Karim Adeyemi has found the back of the net in three of his last seven Salzburg games in all competitions.
Hot stat: The half-time result has been replicated at full-time in just one of the last eight competitive matches involving either team.
Our prediction: Lille 1-1 Salzburg

Sevilla vs Wolfsburg

Late Ivan Rakitic penalty denies Wolfsburg all three points against Sevilla  | Bundesliga

With only four points separating those at the top and bottom of UEFA Champions League (UCL) Group G, an enticing climax is in store with any outcome possible heading into the penultimate round. Even last-placed Sevilla have destiny in their own hands. They’ve been involved in both a fiesty and fruitless campaign so far, with two of their matches producing a red card (D3, L1), but a pair of victories in their last two group games would be enough to secure progression to the next round.
Home was a sanctuary for ‘Sevillistas Rojiblancos’ this season, until Lille handed them their first defeat of the campaign on their own turf in all competitions last round (W5, D2). A visit from Wolfsburg will have the Sevilla faithful on the edge of their seats, with their team only previously securing two wins in their nine UCL fixtures against German opposition (D4, L3 – excluding qualifiers).
Wolfsburg know they need a positive result in order to avoid requiring favours from others come the final round of the group stages. Anything but a loss will set up what will essentially be a playoff with Lille on the final matchday, as the visitors are currently deadlocked on five points with the reigning Ligue 1 champions.
Manager Florian Kohfeldt will be instructing his troops to focus on their concentration here given that they dropped two valuable points against Sevilla in the 87th minute in the reverse fixture. But winning only three of their previous ten UCL road games shows the magnitude of the task that awaits the ‘Wolves’ should they wish to progress (D1, L6).
Players to watch: Sevilla midfielder Ivan Rakitić, who scored in the reverse, has never lost a UCL game when getting on the scoresheet (W7, D2). Opposing him is Lukas Nmecha, who has seen five of his last seven goals come away from home for Wolfsburg.
Hot stat: Sevilla have failed to win any of their last five UCL group games on matchday five (D1, L4).
Our prediction: Sevilla 2-2 Wolfsburg

Young Boys vs Atalanta

How to watch Atalanta v Young Boys in the Champions League: Start time, TV  channel, streaming and more | Forza Italian Football

On this penultimate matchday of the UEFA Champions League (UCL) group stage, things are looking wide open in terms of qualification in Group F. All four teams can technically still finish in the top two, although Atalanta would condemn Young Boys to bottom spot if they win here at the Wankdorf Stadium after the Swiss outfit lost all of their group games following their shock matchday one victory vs Manchester United.
Another defeat here for the hosts would give Swiss Champions Young Boys an unwanted record too – their first set of four consecutive defeats in a major European competition. Indeed, a four-game winless run in all competitions coming into this game doesn’t give David Wagner’s men much confidence (D1, L3), although they do hold a solid home record vs Italian opposition (W3, L1).
While Atalanta didn’t make their debut in Europe’s premier competition until 2018/19, they have progressed to the knockout stages in both of their prior group stage appearances. As such, the Bergamo-based outfit will want to make it three for three this time around and they will likely set up a straight shootout for qualification with Villarreal on the final day if they can win here.
It’s been tough for Atalanta on their European travels this season, as they’ve failed to win both of their away group games this term despite scoring twice in both. However, this game is certainly the easiest on paper after travelling to Man United and Villarreal prior, so a callback to last season’s perfect away group return would be welcome here.
Players to watch: With their league top scorer injured, Young Boys may rely on Jordan Siebatcheu for a goal here – but just three of his ten competitive strikes this term were match openers. Atalanta’s Duván Zapata has contributed to more goals in this UCL group (G1, A3) than Young Boys have scored altogether (three).
Hot stat: Just four of the 32 UCL group sides have received fewer than Atalanta’s six yellow cards so far.
Our prediction: Young Boys 0-2 Atalanta

Malmo FF vs Zenit

Malmo FF vs Zenit Prediction 23 November 2021 . Free Betting Tips, Picks  and Predictions

Rooted to the foot of Group H in this season’s UEFA Champions League (UCL), Swedish champions Malmö will need a drastic change of fortune to avoid finishing dead-last this time round. They’ve collected the wooden spoon in their previous two UCL group stage appearances, but managed to pick up a win in both those previous campaigns too.
The Eleda Stadium has played host to both of Malmö’s prior UCL victories, with those results including their only clean sheets kept in the continent’s showpiece club competition. A rare feat indeed for ‘Di blåe’, who have lost all their other 14 UCL group games by an astonishing aggregate of 48-2.
One of those heavy defeats came against Zenit Saint Petersburg, who registered their largest ever margin of victory in the UCL (excluding qualifiers) with their 4-0 trouncing of the hosts in the reverse fixture. A win here for Zenit would at least guarantee them entry into the preliminary knockout round of the UEFA Europa League, while keeping alive their slim hopes of snatching second place if results elsewhere also go their way.
The Russian side are looking for a first victory on their UCL travels since securing back-to-back victories in the 2015/16 season, losing nine of their ten away games since. They’ll be favourites in their first-ever trip to Sweden, as the champions of the Russian Premier League battle it out with the champions of the Allsvenskan.
Players to watch: Malmö’s Veljko Birmančević has scored his last five domestic goals in the first half. Albeit in qualifiers, two of Birmančević’s four UCL goals have proven decisive. Often key to the opposition’s best attacking moves, Artem Dzyuba has contributed seven goals in his last five appearances for Zenit (G5, A2).
Hot stat: Zenit have seen nine of the 12 total goals scored in their UCL games this season come beyond half-time.
Our prediction: Malmo FF 1-3 Zenit