LACKLUSTRE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GROUP STAGE NEEDS CHANGES?

The Champions League group stage for this season 2018/2019 was a bit lacklustre. This is despite the big names and seemingly exciting matches on paper. It just seems as if the top seeded teams were sure to progress, and the realization slowed the underdogs this time around.

Aside the Liverpool and Napoli late twist on Tuesday, there were rarely any surprises as it seems most of the groups have their affairs sorted ahead of the final round of games. The Tottenham Hotspurs and Inter Milan struggle for the only spot to join group leaders Barcelona wasn’t even as mind blowing as expected. On Wednesday it would be just ShakhtarDonesk and Lyon trying to join Manchester City for knockout spots.

Luka Modric reacts after winning the Ballon d’Or

Real Madrid star Luka Modric has said that his Ballon d’Or prize is a victory for football after he managed to end the dominance of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for the accolade. One of Messi or Ronaldo had won the award over the past decade but that witnessed a change this time around with Modric claiming the prestigious crown after a superb performance for Croatia at the summer World Cup.

Speaking after receiving the prize, Modric was delighted with the honour and dedicated to the win to those who had narrowly missed out on the title during the Messi-Ronaldo dominance, he told BBC: "It’s a victory for football. Maybe in the past there are some players who could have won the Ballon d'Or like Xavi, Andres Iniesta or [Wesley] Sneijder but people finally now are looking at someone else. I think it's a victory for football tonight. This award is for all the players who probably deserved to win it and didn't. It was a really special year for me. It is difficult to express my emotion and how I feel in words. It is something unique for me. It was very special."

France head coach not keen on recalling Adrien Rabiot after World Cup snub

France manager Didier Deschamps has indicated that he has no plans of recalling Adrien Rabiot to the national setup after the midfielder decided to exclude himself from the standby list for the summer World Cup. Speaking to reporters, Deschamps said that the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder does not warrant a selection with Les Bleus for the moment, given the attitude shown towards the team after he failed to make the 23-man squad for the World Cup finals.

“It's much too soon to recall Adrien Rabiot given his attitude in relation to this shirt. There's no sense in recalling him, it's still much too soon, even if I'm not taking a radical position, as I have already said. With regard to the squad and what the shirt represents, it's not the time,” he is quoted as saying by ESPN FC.

Jamaica can make it to World Cup

Jamaica international defender Michael Hector believes that the team can make it to the World Cup in 2022 and that the players should believe in this objective. He said that the team has been developing well and that they do not have to fear anyone during the qualifiers.

Michael Hector said that the Jamaican Football Federation has devised a good program for the development of youth players and he believes that they are now reaping the fruits. He said that there are a number of Jamaican players that play abroad and even the ones that play locally are now better and stronger.

Fernando Hierro Takes Blame for Spain’s Disastrous World Cup Campaign

Spain national team coach Fernando Hierro took the blame for his team’s disastrous exit from the World Cup 2018. Spain came into the competition in disarray after parting company with managerJulen Lopetegui just a few days before the competition began. Spain were not happy withLopetegui’s decision to become Real Madrid’s new coach even as the preparation for the World Cup was going in full swing.Hierro was not expected to make significant changes to the team setup and it proved to be the case, but Spain were simply not good enough to make any impact at the World Cup.

Even though the 2010 World Cup winners were in a difficult group containing Portugal, they were expected to reach at least the semifinals or beyond. After a group stage exit at the 2014 World Cup, Spain failed to progress past the last 16 as they were knocked out by Russia on penalties. After the game,Hierro took the blame for the national team’s exit. It is widely believed that he will step down from his role as the manager. Spain, though, will have to count upon hard luck for having failed to beat Russia, who defended doggedly throughout the 120 minutes. Russia were then able to beat Spain on penalties.

Juan Mata keen to earn Spain recall under Luis Enrique

Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata is keen to earn a recall to the Spain national side under new boss Luis Enrique. La Roja endured a shock round of 16 defeat to Russia which ended their hopes of another World Cup crown and their FA have since decided appointed Enrique as the successor to Fernando Hierro.

Speaking to reporters, Mata admitted that he now has the opportunity to return to the Spain fold after failing to make a single appearance for the national team over the past 18 months, he said: “I will do everything in my power to return to the national team. I hope the new coach will count on me because I'm going to do everything possible to go back.

Andres Iniesta dismisses unrest within the Spain squad

Spain international Andres Iniesta has stressed that his teammates are in the perfect frame of mind despite the speculation in the media. La Roja sacked head coach Julen Lopetegui just one day before the World Cup after he secretly agreed to the Real Madrid job and there has since been talk of unrest between Barcelona and Madrid-based players in the Spain camp.

However, Iniesta has refuted the claim and insists the players remain united in the quest to win the World Cup. He said: “I have my own opinion, but the really important thing is that we have always been a united team. Most of us have been playing together for many years and we know each other well and we trust each other blindly. We only care about sporting matters and we want to keep playing as one. It was a difficult situation but it's in the past now and we only want to concentrate on the World Cup. Players always want to achieve the highest possible titles and we would like to win the World Cup again.”

Sky Sports pundit does not fancy Alvaro Morata staying at Chelsea

Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson believes Alvaro Morata could pursue a fresh challenge away from Chelsea when the transfer window reopens in the summer. The Spain international only joined the Blues in a club-record deal from Real Madrid last year but he has struggled to adapt to the pace of the English game.

Speaking on Sky Sports, Merson feels Chelsea could consider an approach for a new marksman in the summer with Morata linked with a possible return to Turin next term, he said: “We talk about confidence, and he’s lost his - I cannot see him being there next season.There’s talk today about him going to Juventus, I think that ticks the boxes. I just don’t see him being at Chelsea.

Pep Guardiola Dismisses Prospect Of Signing Andres Iniesta

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has reportedly dismissed the ongoing speculation of Andres Iniesta signing for the club in the summer. The Spain international recently announced his decision to leave Barcelona at the end of the campaignand he has since been linked with a whole host of clubs including City.

However, Guardiola has distanced himself from the gossip by saying: "I think when Andres decided to move on from Barcelona it was not to come to Manchester. It’s another way to decide to make the last years of his career, in another place, for many, many reasons.But if he wanted to compete still at a high level, he [would have stayed] in Barcelona.We can’t offer him what he had in Barcelona, here. He decided for other reasons, not just football terms."

Marcos Alonso Explains Why Chelsea Have Struggled This Term

Spain international Marcos Alonso believes Chelsea have not had the luck or consistency to defend the Premier League title this season. The Blues succumbed to a 3-1 Premier League defeat to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, and this sees them requiring a minor miracle in order to secure a top-four finish to the Premier League season.

Speaking on the club’s official website, Alonso said: “I think we aren’t having the same luck as last year. Also, other teams have improved and maybe we don’t have the consistency we had last year. I think we aren’t having the same luck as last year. Also, other teams have improved and maybe we don’t have the consistency we had last year.”

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