Inter 3-1 Barcelona: ‘Gabbia’, Wesley Sneijder’s Masterclass and Jose Mourinho’s Finest Hour

Inter 3-1 Barcelona is part of 90min’s 20 Greatest Matches of the Decade series. Follow the rest of the series over the course of the next week.


Inter vs. Barcelona. Jose Mourinho vs. Pep Guardiola. The pragmatist vs. the idealist. Defence vs. attack. The ‘bus’ vs. tiki taka. 

That was the second leg of Inter’s UEFA Champions League semi final clash. 

A game in which Mourinho’s Inter players would ‘sweat blood’ to ensure I Nerazzurri would reach their first European Cup final since 1967, and continue their historic march toward the first treble in calcio history.

A game that Mourinho would later call the “greatest moment” of his career.

A game that would – in many ways – define how the divisive manager would be thought of in the ensuing years. For this was the game during which Jose Mourinho became (for better or worse) synonymous with ‘parking the bus’ or, in less rudimentary terms, spoiling games with a low-defensive block. 

Oh, and it’s also the game after which the Inter manager would run around Camp Nou’s hallowed turf à la Alan Shearer.

Inter Milan's Portuguese  coach Jose Mou

BUT, it’s not the game that this article is about.

Today, we’re discussing the other game between Inter and Barca that year – the first leg of that infamous UEFA Champions League semi final. 

A very, very, very different game of football. In every conceivable way. 

Yes, it was still Inter vs. Barcelona, still Jose Mourinho vs. Pep Guardiola, and still the pragmatist vs. the idealist, however it most certainly wasn’t defence vs. attack or the ‘bus’ vs. tiki taka. 

As on 20th April 2010, Inter took the game to Barcelona. 

And if there was ever a time to do so, to go almost blow-for-blow with one of the greatest teams of all time, it was the 20th April 2010; after La Blaugrana had endured a near 1,000km bus trip as a result of flight cancellations due to an Icelandic volcanic ash cloud (the same ash cloud that prevented Blackburn Rovers from signing Robert Lewandowski…something which is ALWAYS worth a mention). 

Jose Mourinho devised a rather simple, two-fold, plan for I Nerazzurri to beleaguer a leggy, likely stiff as a board, Barca side at San Siro: 

1) ‘Gabbia’ Lionel Messi –  a four-man ‘cage’ which would restrict Messi’s ability to effect the game. 

2) Attack the space left by the marauding Dani Alves and Maxwell with pace and precision. 

Jose Mourinho

So, in other words: Jose Mourinho’s plan was the same as every other manager’s plan when their team faced Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona. 

So yes, it was pretty simple plan. 

But as exemplified by Barcelona’s haul of six trophies (UEFA Champions League, La Liga, Copa del Rey, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup and Supercopa de Espana) in 2009 alone, it was a rather difficult one to execute. 

In fact, very, very, very rarely did the first part of the plan – stopping Messi – seem even remotely possible. Not least in 2010 when the mercurial number 10 was (arguably) at the peak of his powers, with Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez – the two greatest Spanish footballers of all time – feeding the ball to him at will and with Barcelona’s greatest ever coach building one of the greatest football teams of all time around him. 

Somehow, through immense mental fortitude, unwavering concentration and a will to sacrifice oneself for the cause, Inter found a way to stifle Messi.

Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel M

The number ten would limber through the game, with his offensive threat quelled by the fact that, when he received the ball, he was instantly hounded by a group of wily – and hugely talented – group of players hellbent on not giving him an inch of space to work his magic in. 

So, part one of the plan executed to perfection. Nice one lads. 

But to actually beat Barcelona, the second phase of the plan also needed to be executed. And that was, as you can probably guess,also easier said than done…

…Especially after Pedro had given Barca a one-goal lead inside the first 20 minutes. 

While it was difficult to stop Messi, it was almost impossible to stop him AND not simultaneously negate your own ability to ‘hurt’ (as Mourinho put it) Barcelona in the offensive third.

Inter Milan's Dutch midfielder Wesley Sn

Therefore, the actualisation of the second part of Mourinho’s plan would require unfathomable levels of confidence and quality; two things Inter’s soon-to-be treble-winning side, luckily, had in abundance. 

Undeterred by Pedro’s early goal, I Nerazzurri – with Messi ‘caged’ – bombed forward at every opportunity, exploiting the space left by the ever-marauding Dani Alves and Maxwell with astonishing precision. 

“We were educated to attack the spaces behind them”, said Mourinho, when discussing the game with ​Coaches’ Voices. 

“So in this situation, we always had lots of players ready to attack the space behind both full-backs.”

The space left by Alves would be exploited for Wesley Sneijder’s 30th minute equaliser, as the-then best player in the world (he 100% should’ve won the 2010 Ballon d’Or) found himself free as a bird on the left of the Barca penalty area, from where he would drill the ball into the bottom corner. Sneijder would – of course – run the length of the touchline to celebrate with Mourinho. 

Wesley Sneijder

At the start of the second half, the space left by Maxwell on the other flank allowed Diego Milito to feed the ball through to Maicon, who subsequently slipped the ball under Victor Valdes to make it 2-1. 

Then 15 minutes later, the win was sealed by Diego Milito, who – you guessed it – exploited space left at the back post by Maxwell to head home Inter’s third. 

Inter would hold onto their 3-1 lead throughout the remainder of the game at San Siro, and then hold Barcelona to one goal at Camp Nou to seal a place in the UEFA Champions League final – which they would, as you already know, go on to win at the Santiago Bernabeu. 

Jose Mourinho and Inter had executed a simple, yet seemingly impossible, plan. 

They had stopped Messi.

They had stopped Barcelona.

They had won.

Rather comfortably. 

Jose Mourinho

And while Mourinho may cite the second leg as the “greatest moment” of his career, and the game that will define his memory more than any other, Inter’s 3-1 win over Barcelona at San Siro was the best any of his teams has ever – and probably will ever – play. 

Perfection. 


For more from Jack Gallagher, follow him on Twitter! 


Manchester City 3-2 QPR: You’ll Never See Anything Like This Ever Again

Bayern Munich 2-1 Borussia Dortmund: A Night of History, Heynckes & Robben Making Wembley His Home

Barcelona 6-1 PSG: Remembering That Mad Midweek Miracle at Camp Nou

Scotland 3-3 Argentina: High VARma in Paris as World Cup Underdogs Knock Each Other Out

Roma 3-0 Barcelona: The Night Roma Rose From Their Ruins

France 4-3 Argentina: The Day France Emerged as World Champions-Elect

Liverpool 4-3 Borussia Dortmund: European Nights at Anfield Don’t Get Much Better Than This

Napoli 2-4 Lazio: The 90 Minute Champions League Shootout That Had it All

Barcelona 3-1 Manchester United: Pep’s Ride, Fergie’s Hiding & Football’s Impossible Standard

Wales 3-1 Belgium: The Night a Small Nation Created Their Biggest Moment

Watford 3-1 Leicester City: From Dejection to Delirium in 18 Extraordinary Seconds

Chelsea 2-2 Tottenham: The Battle of the Bridge Which Gave Leicester the Premier League Title

England 1-1 Colombia (4-3 Pens): When the Three Lions Made a Divided Country Believe

Porto 2-1 Benfica: When the Primeira Liga Was Decided With One Game to Spare

​Liverpool 0-2 Chelsea: The Slip Heard Around the World


Let’

Juventus & Inter Join Race for Chris Smalling After Impressive Start With Roma

​Juventus and Inter have joined the race to sign Manchester United centre back Chris Smalling, who has enjoyed a surprisingly strong start to life on loan with Roma.

The 29-year-old swapped Manchester for Rome during the summer as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the United hierarchy looked to refresh and rejuvenate their backline.

Despite being deemed surplus to requirements at Old Trafford, Smalling – somewhat surprisingly – has been one of the Serie A’s standout performers so far in 2019/20, prompting Roma to push for a permanent deal.

Chris Smalling,Gervinho

However, according to Corriere della Sera (via ​Tutto Mercato Web), Roma will face pressure to complete the deal from both Juventus and Inter, who are ready to pounce if Roma cannot agree a deal with ​United.

The Red Devils are ​looking for a fee of around €18m (£15m), but Roma are reluctant to meet those demands. Having already paid €3m to secure the loan deal itself, Roma only want to offer €15m to complete a permanent deal.

If United are not prepared to accept such a deal, then ​Juventus and ​Inter could look to take advantage. The two sides have been scouring the ​Serie A for potential transfer targets, and both are said to have been impressed by what they have seen from Smalling.


For Juventus, a move for Smalling does make some sense. The pairing of Leonardo Bonucci and Matthijs de Ligt have been hugely impressive for Maurizio Sarri’s side, but there are questions over the future of the remaining centre backs in the squad.

Both Daniele Rugani and Merih Demiral have both been linked with moves elsewhere, while there are doubts over how 35-year-old Giorgio Chiellini will fare once he returns from his cruciate ligament tear.

If they are looking for a reliable rotation option, they could certainly do worse than Smalling, who so far has proven to be a solid defender in the Serie A.

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The same can be said for Inter, who could find themselves on the lookout for new centre-backs in the near future. ​Milan Škriniar is wanted by Barcelona and Real Madrid, while Diego Godín will soon turn 34 years old.

The two sides will likely continue to monitor Smalling over the coming months to decide whether he has moved on from the inconsistent form which plagued his time with United. If they like what they see, a move could certainly be a possibility.

Let’

Italy vs Armenia Preview: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News

​Italy host Armenia in their final Euro 2020 qualifying match on Monday evening.

Italy have already comfortably qualified for next year’s European championships with a perfect record in the nine games they have played so far. 

Roberto Mancini’s team have been in incredible form lately, last exhibited in their 3-0 away victory over Bosnia & Herzegovina on Friday, and their youthful revolution is well and truly underway.

Armenia also know their fate heading in to this encounter, having been pipped to qualification by Finland.

Here is 90min’s preview of Monday’s action.


Where to Watch

When Is Kick Off? Monday 18 November​
What Time Is Kick Off? ​19:45 (BST)
​Where Is it Played? ​Stadio Renzo Barbera
​TV Channel/Live Stream? ​Sky Sports Red Button
Referee? ​Tiago Martins

Team News

It is likely that Mancini will make wholesale changes for this affair, using it as an opportunity to hand vital experience to the fringes of his squad. 

Pierluigi Gollini could replace ​Gianluigi Donnarumma in goal, while Nicolo Zaniolo, Gaetano Castrovilli and Stephan El Shaarawy could all start.

Ciro Immobile

Mancini may be tempted to bring Ciro Immobile back in to the starting lineup despite the good international form of Andrea Belotti. Immobile has always struggled with the national team, but the forward’s domestic form is superb having scored 14 goals in 11 ​Serie A starts with Lazio this term.

Italy are without several key figures, with Giorgio Chiellini, Marco Verratti ​and Stefano Sensi all sidelined through injury.

Armenia are without their most recognised talent as Roma midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan remains out with injury.


Predicted Lineups

Italy ​Gollini; Di Lorenzo, Romagnoli, Acerbi, Biraghi; Castrovilli, Jorginho, Zaniolo; Insigne, El Shaarawy, Immobile.
Armenia ​Hayrapetyan; Hambardzumyan, Voskanyan, Calisir, Ishkhanyan, Hovhannisyan; Barseghyan, Yedigaryan, Grigoryan, Sarkisov; Karapetian.

Head to Head Record

This will only be the fourth meeting between the two national sides, Italy having won two and drawn one of the previous three matches.

Kevin Lasagna

The reverse fixture on 5 September saw Italy win in Yerevan, beating ten-man Armenia 3-1 courtesy of strikes from Belotti, Lorenzo Pellegrini and an own goal. ​


Recent Form

Italy have been breathtaking in qualifying so far. Blessed with a fairly simplistic looking group, the Azzurri have won all nine of their matches, conceding only three goals.

Mancini has built a formidable side with plenty of youth and experience in its ranks, so much so that Italy are unbeaten since a 1-0 loss to Portugal in the Nations League back in September 2018. 

The Italians boast a dynamic attacking line as well as a stubborn defence, having scored 28 goals in qualifying so far, averaging just over three per game. 

Jorginho

Many people are tipping the side ranked 15th in the world to be the dark horses of Euro 2020.

​Armenia have picked up ten points from nine matches in Group J, and can finish third depending on other results as well as their own. 

Here are both sides’ last five fixtures.

​Italy Armenia
Bosnia & Herzegovina 0-3 Italy (15/11)​ ​Armenia 0-1 Greece (15/11)
​Liechtenstein 0-5 Italy (15/10) ​Finland 3-0 Armenia (15/10)
​Italy 2-0 Greece (12/10) ​Liechtenstein 1-1 Armenia (12/10)
​Finland 1-2 Italy (8/9) ​Armenia 4-2 Bosnia & Herzegovina (8/9)
​Armenia 1-3 Italy (5/9) ​Armenia 1-3 Italy (5/9)

Prediction 

Roberto Mancini

It is very likely that Italy will maintain their perfect record in qualifying, with a win for the Azzurri the most realistic outcome.

Too much rotation could potentially damage Italy’s chances of an emphatic victory over an Armenia side that will be seeking a giant-killing. However, the spoils seem all but assured for Roberto Mancini, who will undoubtedly be planning for Euro 2020 already.

Prediction: Italy 3-0 Armenia

Let’

Eric Abidal Speaks on Barcelona’s Interest in Lautaro Martínez as Luis Suárez Is Tipped for Boca

​Barcelona director Eric Abidal has confirmed that the club are monitoring Inter forward Lautaro Martínez as part of their search for a replacement for Luis Suárez.

La Blaugrana have been on the lookout for alternatives to 32-year-old Suárez – something which the Uruguayan himself insisted ​he has no problems with – and Martínez’s name is understood to be on their shortlist.

Eric Abidal

Speaking to ​Mundo Deportivo, Abidal revealed that he is a huge fan of Martínez, but he did insist that ​Barcelona are looking at a number of options.

“Yes, he is a complete player, I think he is performing at a great level,” Abidal admitted. “He is a player we know, but there are other players who also have a lot of quality.

“I know Barça. I know what adaptation is like, but I don’t pay much attention to the player who plays every week. Instead, I look at others.”

Lautaro Martinez

Abidal also went on to discuss ​Suárez, insisting the Uruguayan has always been told the truth about his future at the club and about Barcelona’s interest in other strikers.

“I am transparent with the players, Luis can tell you because last year I already told him that it was going to be like this, that we were going to look for an attacker, and he accepted that because he wants what is best for the team,” Abidal confessed.

With Barcelona looking for new forwards, Suárez’s future at the club has come into question. A move to Major League Soccer has been touted, but journalist Martín Castilla told CNN Radio (via ​Sport) that Suárez could even end up joining Argentinian side Boca Juniors.

Luis Suarez

That move could come down to who wins the club’s presidential elections in early December, but a switch to fellow Argentinian side San Lorenzo could also be an option for Suárez in the near future.

Castilla noted that Suárez may not be prepared to leave the ‘highest level’ just yet. However, the options will likely be there for him if he decides to call time on his career at Camp Nou.


For more from Tom Gott, follow him on Twitter!

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Romelu Lukaku Reveals Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Reaction to Forward’s Decision to Leave Man Utd

Inter striker Romelu Lukaku has claimed that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wanted to keep the Belgian star at Manchester United, but it was he who made the decision to leave Old Trafford. 

Lukaku left Man Utd following a summer of discontent regarding his future in England, and the 26-year-old was even told to stay away from the rest of the Red Devils team during pre-season. 

Romelu Lukaku

The Belgian striker eventually joined Inter as he appeared to be surplus to requirements in Solskjaer’s style of play, but Lukaku told Het Belang van Limburg that he chose to leave ‘in March’ as he was ‘ready to try something new’. 

“​​Solskjaer has my eternal respect. He understood me when I said in March that it was time for me to leave England. 

“I have been in the Premier League as an 18-year-old boy and now I am 26. Solskjaer wanted to keep me, but I was ready for something new.”

​Lukaku scored 42 goals in all competitions for Man Utd, but he struggled to make an impact during his final season at Old Trafford, and he was eventually frozen out of the side by Solskjaer, who opted for quicker and more dynamic players in attack. 

FBL-ITA-SERIEA-BOLOGNA-INTERMILAN

The former ​Everton man has adapted well to life in Serie A, and he believes his ‘football intelligence’ helped his transition from England to Italy. 

“I have had a good relationship with trainer Antonio Conte for three years and I know exactly what he expects of me.

“The first two weeks at Inter I worked very hard with the group and when my teammates got some rest, I trained individually.

“Thanks to my football intelligence, I integrated easily. We play in a system with two strikers and that suits me. Anyway, I already knew my team-mates in advance.”

Lukaku moved to ​Inter for a fee of around £70m, and has scored nine goals in 12 league matches, as I Nerazzurri aim to end ​Juventus’ domination of Italian football. 

Let’

Inter Deny Envelope Containing Bullet & Death Threats Was Intended for Antonio Conte

​Inter have addressed reports that Antonio Conte was sent an envelope containing a bullet and death threats, which claimed the package was delivered to the coach’s private residence.

On Saturday morning, stories emerged suggesting the 50-year-old had received the items at his home address, with Conte understood to be the target of the threats. It was also alleged that a team of police had been called together to protect the manager, but the Nerazzurri have moved swiftly to deny that is the case.

Antonio Conte

In response to ​claims by Corriere della Sport, an official statement from the club read (as quoted by ​Sky Sports): “In relation to the news published today, ​Inter states that Antonio Conte did not personally receive any threatening letters and, consequently, he did not go in person to file a complaint.

“It was the club that received a letter and, as is the practice in this kind of situation, it contacted the competent authorities.”

Conte’s wife Elisabetta Muscarello likewise denied her husband was the intended target, saying on social media: “For the record: the story of the bullet is a hoax!”

Local authorities do not view the threat as genuine, but have nonetheless acted with diligence to ensure the staff at Inter are well protected.

FBL-ITA-SERIEA-INTER-JUVENTUS

Conte has guided the Nerazzurri to second place in ​Serie A after the first 12 rounds of action, with his side just a single point behind defending champions ​Juventus at the summit.

Their next league match is a home fixture against Torino on Saturday 23 November, before they lock horns with Slavia Prague the following Wednesday in European matters.

As things stand, Inter will miss out on qualification for the ​Champions League knockout stages. The Italians’ 3-2 defeat away to ​Borussia Dortmund at the start of the month leaves them three points behind BVB and four off ​Barcelona in Group F.


For more from Ed Alexander, follow him on Twitter!

Let’

Looking at the Positives & Negatives of Inter’s Season So Far

Bringing in Serie A and Premier League winner Antonio Conte in the summer was a real statement of intent from Inter that they meant business this season. 

How has the bold move gone? Pretty well to be honest. The Nerazzurri are currently sat just one point off of league leaders Juventus in second and are playing some fluent and exciting football under Conte. 

However, it’s not all been plain sailing, so let’s take a look at three positives and three negatives from their season so far.


Positive – They’re Genuinely in a Title Race 

FBL-ITA-SERIEA-BOLOGNA-INTERMILAN

​Juventus’ hegemony over Serie A is well-documented. The Old Lady have won the last eight Italian league title and usually do so at a canter – with Maurizio Sarri’s ​Napoli the last team to genuinely run them close during the 2017/2018 campaign. 

The Turin-based club’s dominance could be coming to an end though, with Inter currently sitting just one point behind them in second. 

The Nerazzurri haven’t been involved in a title race since the 2010/2011 season which demonstrates just how well Conte has done to turn them into Serie A contenders so rapidly. 


Negative – Champions League Struggles

Antonio Conte

​Teams managed by Conte have historically struggled in Europe, and this is a trend that appears to be continuing in Milan. 

Although it should be said that Inter were drawn in a ‘group of death’ alongside ​Borussia Dortmund, ​Barcelona and Slavia Prague, they currently sit in third place with only two games left to play.

Narrow 3-2 and 2-1 defeats to Dortmund and Barca respectively will have frustrated Conte but his side’s 1-1 draw at home to the Czech champions will have irked him the most. 

Inter now face an uphill battle to avoid the ignominy of having to play on Thursday nights in the Europa League.  


Positive – Milan Bragging Rights

FBL-ITA-SERIEA-AC MILAN-INTER

​Dispatching of their city rivals ​Milan 2-0 was probably Inter’s highlight of the season so far. The game also acted as a microcosm into the contrasting states of the two sides in 2019. 

Inter are currently professionalism, excitement and flair personified. Milan on the other hand…not so much.

The Nerazzurri are currently a gargantuan 18 points ahead of their neighbours with just 12 ​Serie A games played the fans are, unsurprisingly, absolutely loving it.


Negative – Derby d’Italia Defeat

FBL-ITA-SERIEA-INTER-JUVENTUS

​One of the only blots on Inter’s almost exemplary Serie A record this season was a disappointing home defeat to Juventus in the ​Derby d’Italia.

The Old Lady ran out 2-1 winners at San Siro but the game could have gone so differently.

Samir Handanovic will be disappointed to have not kept out Paulo Dybala’s opening goal for Juventus, while the Gonzalo Higuain’s winner was also easily preventable. 


Positive – Striking Brilliance

Romelu Lukaku,Lautaro Martinez

​Romelu Lukaku is a player transformed under Antonio Conte. No longer the trampoline-first touch exhibiting disappointment he became during his final season at Old Trafford, the Belgian is back to his destructive best and has already scored nine goals for his new club. 

Lukaku has formed an irresistible partnership with Lautaro Martinez and the pair’s understanding of each other’s wants and needs is already reaching telepathic levels. 

The duo compliment each other perfectly and their work is a big reason why Inter are the third top scorers in Serie A – above Juventus by the way. 


Negative – Underwhelming Signings

Valentino Lazaro

​Although the signing of Lukaku is looking to be a shrewd one, a number of Inter’s other summer imports have had far less of an impact. 

Valentino Lazaro – who was brought in for a reported fee of around £20m from Hertha Berlin – has had an underwhelming start to his San Siro career, having only appeared in three games, while Alexis Sanchez has also been restricted from contributing due to injury. 


For more from ​Matt O’Connor-Simpson, follow him on ​Twitter!

Let’

90min’s Definitive European Power Rankings: Week 13 – Peep Show Special

Following a week in which: 

– Chelsea won AGAIN.

– Bayern Munich crushed Borussia Dortmund’s hopes and dreams AGAIN.

– Cristiano Ronaldo threw his toys out of his pram despite being a 34-year-old man AGAIN. 

We, using quotes from Peep Show, while listening to Kanye West’s new album ‘JESUS IS KING’ and wondering how under God someone can make music this bad, we rank the 15 best teams in Europe. AGAIN.


15) Sheffield United (Re-Entry)

George Baldock,John Lundstram,David McGoldrick,Lys Mousset

“Tonight is going, if a bit weird, extremely f**king well for us.”

It’s a bit weird, but things are going extremely f**king well for ​Sheffield United. 

It’s going so well, in fact, that the Blades are fifth in the Premier League table, above Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham. 

Bit weird.


14) Hoffenheim (New Entry)

Sebastian Rudy

“This may be the best day of my life! War with Sophie is over, and Johnson’s given me a promotion! I’ve only got my own bloody little office.”

This may be the best run in Hoffenheim’s largely unsuccessful history, as since reverting to a back three Die Kraichgauer have been on an absolute tear. 

They’ve won their last five, and with games against Mainz and Fortuna coming up after the international break, that run doesn’t look set to end anytime soon. 


13) Cagliari (New Entry) 

Fabio Pisacane

“Love’s hard mate. F**king hard. Doesn’t work…breaks. But you’ve got to give it a go. Norwich are never going to win the league, but they still turn up every week don’t they? The pricks.”

Football’s hard mate. F**king hard. 

But Cagliari are giving it a go. Last weekend they absolutely thumped Fiorentina 5-2, largely thanks to a masterclass from Radja Nainggolan, and the weekend before that they beat everyone’s favourite Italian football team (Atalanta) 2-0.

Sure, Cagliari may very well be the Norwich City of Serie A, and no they are never going to win the league, but they still turn up every week and do their best. That’s all that counts. 


12) Barcelona (Up 2) 

Lionel Messi

“You are the best of men. The truest, kindest, most generous of men.”

Lionel Messi’s 2019/20 La Liga stats: 

Played: 7

Goals Scored: 8

Goals Assisted: 4

It’s not Robert Lewandowski good, but it’s still pretty good.


11) Manchester City (Down 8)

TOPSHOT-FBL-ENG-PR-LIVERPOOL-MAN CITY

“A new boiler. Surely the least enjoyable way to spend a thousand pounds. At least throwing the money out of the window you’d see the scrabbling mass, the hate-filled faces. I have spent a cool grand on acquiring the resumption of an equitable temperature.”

A new defender. Surely the least enjoyable way to spend £80m. At least throwing the money out of the window you’d see the scrabbling mass, the hate-filled faces. 

But you know what? While it’s boring, like spending £1,000 on a new boiler, spending £80m on a central defender to compete with Liverpool was/is necessary.


10) Real Madrid (-)

Karim Benzema

“I’m in my element. Older people are still people. They’re just people who think when they open a new window on the computer the previous window has disappeared for good.”

The likes of Fede Valverde and Rodrygo are five-year-olds who have been exceptional in recent weeks, but the real stars of the show at ​Real Madrid are the old people:

Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos. 

They’ve been in their element this season, scoring goals for fun (yes, a defender scores goals for fun). 


9) Lazio (New Entry)

Ciro Immobile

No teas for the beastmaster, thanks. He feasts on the blood of his prey.”

Ciro Immobile’s 2019/20 Serie A stats: 

Played: 12

Goals Scored: 14

Goals Assisted: 5

It’s not Robert Lewandowski good, but it’s still really, really good. 


8) Bayern Munich (Up 7)

Robert Lewandowski

“Four naan, Jeremy? Four? That’s insane.”

Four goals, ​Bayern? 

Four? 

Against your biggest rivals and straight after sacking your manager?

That’s insane.


7) Chelsea (Up 5)

FBL-ENG-PR-CHELSEA-CRYSTAL PALACE

“I like you. Is that such a crime? Should I be hounded to the ends of the earth, just for liking you? I like you, and if you can’t handle it, you can just, you know, f*** off.”

Oh no. 

No, no, no, no, no. 

It’s happening, isn’t it? 

It’s really happening.

Oh please God no. 

​Chelsea are…

…likeable.

They’re the most entertaining team to watch in the Premier League at the moment, and they’re relying on young players – which every FM fan loves. 

Chelsea are actually likeable.

I need to lie down. 


6) Inter (Up 3)

Antonio Conte

For the worst thing that could possibly happen, this is actually going extremely well.”

For a team enduring the worst injury crisis of all time that’s in dire need of new players because the current ones are sh*t (this is basically what Antonio Conte said), things are going extremely well for ​Inter.

I Nerazzurri are unbeaten in their last five league games, and are just one point adrift of Juventus atop of Serie A.

See, things are going extremely well. Cheer up Conte. 


5) Borussia Monchengladbach (-)

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“It’s good to know who you are”

Borussia Monchengladbach are now four points clear at the top of the Bundesliga table. 

‘Four points, Gladbach? Four?’

No, we’ve already used that one. We can’t use it again. 

‘Oh, ok…’

For Borussia Monchengladbach we’re using ‘it’s good to know who you are’, because after weeks of waiting for them to collapse and fall back into 4-6 obscurity we’ve finally come to the conclusion that such a collapse isn’t forthcoming.

So now we know exactly who they are: they are the real deal. 


4) Leicester City (Up 3)

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“Now I know how whatshisname felt when he finished the Mona Lisa…knackered.”

Big Brendy baps and ​Leicester City’s Premier League campaign, thus far, can be hyperbolically described as follows:

A masterpiece.

They sit second in the table after 12 games, having won their last four games on the bounce. 

But can this incredible run last? 

Only time will tell, but all this masterpiece…ing must be knackering. 


3) RB Leipzig (Up 1)

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“Super Hans says he’s come up with a bass loop for our new track that is so good, that when he tried turning it off…he literally couldn’t…he actually physically couldn’t do it.”

RB Leipzig have a striker that is so prolific, that even when he doesn’t need to score, when his team are already winning comfortably…he scores anyways…Timo Werner actually physically can’t stop scoring goals.


2) Juventus (-)

Paulo Dybala

“Socks before or after trousers, but never socks before pants. That’s the rule. Makes a man look scary, like a chicken.”

Beat AC Milan, but not before you give them hope that they can beat you. 

That’s the rule. 


​1) Liverpool (-)

Fabinho

“Like when they fed all the cows to the other cows in the ’90s and we got what was it? Super-burgers?”

​Liverpool are a super-team. 

They are indestructible. 

They are unstoppable. 

They are undeniable. 

And last weekend, they proved it by humbling their nearest and greatest rivals at Anfield. 

TOO. GOOD. 


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Germany vs Belarus Preview: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News

​Germany lock horns with Belarus at Borussia Park in Mönchengladbach as Die Mannschaft aim to seal qualification for Euro 2020. 

Germany are currently level on points with the Netherlands but sit second in their group due to an inferior head-to-head with the Dutch.owever, they will be able to qualify with a win if Northern Ireland fail to come away with a result in their next match against Ronald Koeman’s side. 

Meanwhile Belarus occupy fourth place on four points after winning only one, drawing one and losing five of their opening seven games.

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Joachim Löw will view this as a crucial game for his German side in terms of booking their place at Euro 2020 and will be hoping to achieve qualification from Group C as soon as possible. 

With that said, here is 90mins preview for Saturday’s fixture. 


Where to Watch

​When Is Kick Off? ​Saturday 16 November
​What Time Is Kick Off? ​19:45 (GMT)
​Where Is It Played? ​Borussia-Park
​TV Channel/Live Stream? ​Sky Sports Football HD
​Referee? ​Orel Grinfeld (ISR)

Team News

Löw will have a number of absentees as Julian Draxler (match fitness), Marcel Halstenberg (thigh), Kai Havertz (thigh), Thilo Kehrer (foot), Marco Reus (ankle), Antonio Rüdiger (groin), Kevin Trapp (shoulder) Leroy Sane & Niklas Süle (both knee) and Emre Can (suspended) all remain unavailable. 

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Belarus manager Mikhail Markhel only has one injury concern to worry about, with Ivan Bakhar sustaining an unspecified injury that rules him out of Saturday’s game. 

UEFA EURO 2020 qualifier group C"Belarus v The Netherlands"


Predicted Lineups

​Germany: Neuer; Klostermann, Ginter, Tah, Schulz; Kimmich, Kroos, Goretzka; Gnabry, Brandt, Werner ​
​Belarus: ​Gutor; Veretilo, Martynovich, Naumov, Polyakov; Yablonski, Kovalev; Dragun, Maevski, Stasevich; Laptev

Head-to-Head Record

This will be the third meeting between the two sides, with Germany winning two of those three fixtures as both sides also drew 2-2 in an international friendly back in May 2008. 

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Germany won the reverse fixture 2-0 in Borisov back in June with Sané and Reus scoring the goals, meaning DFB hold an aggregate score of 4-2 over their Belarusian counterparts. 


Recent Form

Despite losing 4-2 at the hands of the Netherlands in early September, Germany are the in-form side in Group C, winning 11 of their last 13 European qualifiers dating back to 2014. Moreover, Germany have won five of their last seven (1D 1L) in all competitions. 

Germany have scored two or more goals in nine of their last ten games – scoring 28 in total – and have kept four clean sheets in their last six matches. 

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Contrastingly, Belarus have lost six of their last eight games, conceding 13 goals in the process. Things are not much better at the other end of the pitch, as the White Wings have scored a measly four goals in their last eight games. 

The eastern European side have a poor away record in the Euro 2020 qualifiers (L2 W1) and currently sit 81st in the FIFA World Rankings, 68 places behind their opponents in 13th. 

Here is how both teams have fared in their previous five fixtures.

Germany Belarus
​Estonia 0-3 Germany (13/10) ​Belarus 1-2 Netherlands (13/10)
​N. Ireland 0-2 Germany (09/10) ​Belarus 0-0 Estonia (10/10)
​Germany 2-4 Netherlands (06/09) Estonia 1-2 Belarus (06/09)
​Germany 8-0 Estonia (11/06) ​Belarus 0-1 N. Ireland (11/06)
​Belarus 0-2 Germany (08/06) ​Belarus 0-2 Germany (08/06)

Prediction

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Given the superiority of the German side in terms of points and personnel, this should be a relatively straightforward game for Löw and co. 

A win is imperative for Germany as they look to achieve qualification from Group C in the smoothest manner possible, meanwhile Belarus will be hoping they do not finish rock bottom of Group C as they hold a three-point lead over Estonia who remain in fifth. 

All in all a comfortable win should be on the cards for Germany, who should ease past Belarus in their penultimate game of the Euro 2020 qualifiers.

Prediction: Germany 4-0 Belarus


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Transfer Rumours: Dani Olmo & Erling Haaland Latest, Arsenal Chasing Second Division Player & More

This is superrumours TV show and today I’ll be writing the transfer rumours.

​This is for the gigolos and gigolettes!

Don’t try this at home and I hope you like it, WOOP WOOP!

​*angrily takes off t-shirt and grunts, shouting and pointing*

F*ck! This! Sh*t!

*Dives in to transfer rumours*

Big thanks to Super Humman for the inspiration.


Sheffield United Looking to Sign a Morón

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(Image: Loren Morón trying to put his t-shirt on backwards)

Sheffield United, notably, have been doing very well since their return to the Premier League.

Fifth in the table after 12 games and having the second-best defence in the division? Nothing to be sniffed at. And it seems like they’re within their rights to start thinking about their long-term future rubbing shoulders with the big six, and to think about beating Arsenal on a regular basis over the next few years off the back of their recent form.

In order to do this, they fancy making another attempt to sign Loren Morón, who has fired eight goals in 12 La Liga fixtures so far this term. 

Grada 3 (via ​SportWitness) report that they fancy making their move again after failing to convince the player to join them in the summer. He’s got a release clause of €40m though and Betis aren’t keen on selling for less, so there’s ya problem.


Italian Reports Now Saying Spurs & West Ham Want Mario Mandzukic, Obviously

Mario Mandzukic

(Image: Mario Mandzukic bored of reading transfer rumours about himself)

Mario Mandzukic has been linked with moves to ​Bayern Mu​nich, Al-Rayyan and Manchester United over the last few months, though the most recent reports will have you believe that it is in fact Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – with his ideal signing age of 23 in mind – closest to signing the 33-year-old Croatian.

Fabio Paratici has been in London recently trying to force the deal through this week, but ​Calciomercato are reporting that while on his travels he’s been ‘evaluating alternatives’ – with Spurs and West Ham now claimed to be on his list of admirers.

He does sound very West Ham, tbf.


Arsenal Target Talks Up Potential January Transfer

Orel Mangala

(Image: Second division footballer searching for a move to Arsenal)

​Arsenal were interested in signing Stuttgart and Belgium Under-21 player Orel Mangala in the summer, though faced competition at the time from the likes of Marseille, Lille and Roma.

He ended up staying with the German second division club, but he’s had a chat with ​HLN recently and seemingly put himself in the shop window again, saying he’d even buy himself if he could afford it.

“Anything is possible,” he said. “If I had the money, I would buy myself. You know, it is good to hear such amounts. It is an appreciation for my work. That is always nice.”


Conte Fancies Reunion With Chelsea Star at Inter, for He Loves a Reunion

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(Image: Olivier Giroud receiving a handshake from Antonio Conte guaranteeing he would try to sign him for another club when it inevitably went tits up at Chelsea)

Antonio Conte loves signing players he’s worked with before. So it’s no surprise to see ​Gazzetta dello Sport reporting that he’s trying to sign Olivier Giroud as a deputy to Romelu Lukaku. 

Giroud can barely get a look in at Chelsea (we tried to tell ​Chris Deeley that before he decided to select him early for his Draft FPL team in August) and as a result it should be that he’s available for around €6-7m in January.

Maybe Conte will manage to get Nemanja Matic in January too, in some kind of weird 30-plus-year-old-cut-price-package-deal-from-the-Premier League. 


Dinamo Head Coach Claims Dani Olmo Has ‘So Many Offers’

Dani Olmo

(Image: Dani Olmo seeing ‘many offers’ worth lots of money come in for him)

Tottenham, Man Utd, Liverpool and Milan have been among the clubs linked in chief to Dani Olmo – a moderately famous man who is very good at football – over the last few months.

Olmo plays for Dinamo Zagreb at the moment (perhaps this is why he’s not more than moderately famous) and did star for Spain at the Under-21 European Championship in the summer, scoring three times. But he could get a big move very soon, if you’re going to believe his head coach.

Nenad Bjelica, speaking to 24sata, said: “Dani is impressive both as a footballer and as a person. Very modest and ambitious at the same time. He wants to learn every day and I’m proud to have him on the team.

“I think we are just watching his last matches at Dinamo. There are so many offers. In the end, the club and the player will decide together what is best for both sides. He is ready to play for the best clubs in Europe.”


Man Utd ‘Far Ahead’ in Race to Sign Erling Haaland Despite Bayern Interest

Erling Haaland

(Image: Erling Haaland realising that no matter how many goals he actually scores, he is inevitably going to end up signing for Manchester United)

Erling Haaland is all the rage at the moment. And why wouldn’t he be when he’s bagged five separate hat-tricks by November, contributing to an overall number of 26 goals in 18 matches to date.

Everybody wants him. Kicker have linked Bayern Munich with a move for him over the past couple of days, citing that the club are looking for someone to take the burden from Robert Lewandowski, who can’t stop scoring himself. 

Whether a lad who sleeps with five hat-trick balls and listens to the Champions League theme tune in his car would wan’t to play second fiddle to anybody remains to be seen, however. And while Manchester United don’t actually have UCL football themselves to enjoy this season (maybe he can listen to the Europa League music instead, but not quite as catchy), Norwegian outlet Dagbladet report United to be front-runners in the race to sign him.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – fellow Norwegian, for this counts a lot – has worked with the player before at Molde, and that’s specifically talked up as an advantage for ​United. And Solskjaer has even pressed the club’s notoriously incapable transfer team of making sure this move gets done.

It won’t be that simple, but you never know.


For more top, top chat from Scott Saunders, follow him on Twitter!

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