Managers Who Have Not Been Defined By Relegation

Eddie Howe, Callum Wilson
Eddie Howe and Bournemouth suffered relegation at the end of the 2019/20 season | Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

On the final day of the 2019/20 season, the Bournemouth fairytale finally came to end after five years of mixing it with English football’s big boys.

It was a pretty dismal campaign for the Cherries, who as usual had shipped a calamitous amount of goals, but this time around failed to compensate by finding the net just 40 times in 38 matches.

The scrutiny fell on Eddie Howe – the former boy wonder who had saved Bournemouth from slipping out of the Football League in 2008/09 despite a hefty 17-point deduction weighing them down, before leading them to a hat-trick of promotions – each one more outlandish than the next – and guiding them to the top flight of English football for the first time in the club’s history.

Eddie HoweEddie Howe
Howe guided the Cherries to three astounding promotions | Clive Rose/Getty Images

Howe’s a club legend; he won’t be sacked. But the man was once considered the hottest young manager in British football, and the sheen has slightly come off.

However, plenty of managers have suffered a relegation here or there and still bounced back to carve out hugely successful careers. Let’s take a look at the pick of the bunch.

Wenger is the only man to manage an unbeaten Premier League team for an entire season | IAN KINGTON/Getty Images

Arsene Wenger’s first managerial job ended in relegation. He took the reins of underfunded Ligue 1 outfit Nancy in 1984, staving off the drop during his second season as his side won a relegation play-off.

However, in his third and final year in charge, Nancy were consigned to the second tier after finishing 19th.

Despite relegation, Wenger’s unorthodox methods caught the eye of Monaco, and just one year after finishing second bottom of Ligue 1, the former Nancy boss was celebrating the French title.

Wenger would go on to win 10 major trophies during his time at Arsenal, revolutionising English football and masterminding the famous Invincibles campaign.

Portsmouth's Manager Harry Redknapp celePortsmouth's Manager Harry Redknapp cele
Redknapp is a relegation sufferer and an FA Cup winner | CARL DE SOUZA/Getty Images

Redknapp left Portsmouth in November 2004 and joined their south coast rivals Southampton a matter of weeks later, tasked with keeping the Saints in the Premier League.

Southampton finished bottom of the table. You only had one job and all that.

Having apparently burnt all bridges with Portsmouth, Redknapp then burnt all bridges with Southampton by leaving the club and swiftly rejoining Portsmouth.

He kept Pompey up and guided them to a famous FA Cup triumph in 2008. Redknapp then re-burnt his Portsmouth bridges by joining Tottenham, and he led Spurs to a spot in the Champions League. And in 2018 he won I’m a Celeb. That 2004/05 relegation is long forgotten.

Antonio ConteAntonio Conte
Conte has won titles in England and Italy, and managed the Italian national team | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Conte’s managerial career did not get off to the most successful of starts. His debut in the dugout lasted just four months, and he was sacked by Arezzo in 2006 after a disappointing run of form. In some weird twist of symmetry, Maurizio Sarri was brought in as his replacement.

However, not even Sarriball could steady the Arezzo ship, and with the Serie B side slipping towards the third tier, they drafted in Conte once more – just five months after he had originally been dismissed.

The Italian did inspire a turnaround in fortunes, but not sufficient enough to save Arezzo from relegation. Five years later he was celebrating the Serie A title with Juventus.

Klopp guided Liverpool to their first title in 30 years | PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

In a very Eddie Howe-esque narrative, Klopp took the hot seat at his former side Mainz 05 in 2001 and saved them from relegation during his first season in charge, before guiding them to promotion to the Bundesliga in 2003/04.

Operating on a tiny budget, the club were punching well above their weight in the German top flight, but recorded two mid table finishes and even qualified for the Uefa Cup.

However, the magic ended in 2006/07, as Mainz suffered the drop.

Relegation could not taint the job Klopp had done at Mainz, and in 2008, Borussia Dortmund came calling. Five years after dropping out of the Bundesliga, Klopp had led Dortmund to successive German titles. He joined Liverpool in 2015, and he’s done alright there too.

Gareth SouthgateGareth Southgate
The man who transformed English football and made waistcoats cool | Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Just how did Gareth Southgate land the England job? It’s an absolute blessing that he did; the man has transformed the national team by doing wacky stuff such as making sure players enjoy playing football and bothering to practice penalties. A tactical maverick.

But in 2016 his managerial CV literally read: relegated Middlesbrough. Worked with the Under 21s for a bit. Isn’t Sam Allardyce. He probably had to put his SATs results and his cycling proficiency on there just to beef it out a bit.

After spending the final five years of his playing career at Middlesbrough, Southgate was offered the top job at the Riverside following his retirement.

He was in charge for a little over three years, and the club suffered relegation in his final full season in charge. Within a decade, he had spearheaded England’s greatest World Cup campaign for 28 years.

Martinez currently managers quite the talented crop of players with Belgium | GIUSEPPE CACACE/Getty Images

Wigan’s relegation didn’t even define Martinez’s week, let alone his career.

The Latics suffered the drop after eight seasons in the Premier League in 2012/13, but Martinez left the DW a hero after hoisting the FA Cup just three days before their relegation was confirmed.

He almost guided Everton to Champions League football during his first season in charge but they stuttered towards the end of the campaign, and he has gone on to enjoy success with the Belgian national team following his 2016 appointment.

Martinez led Belgium’s golden generation to the last four of the 2018 World Cup, meaning that half of the managers in charge of the 2018 World Cup semi finalists had suffered relegation from the Premier League. There’s hope for Howe and Hayden Mullins yet.

Ole Gunnar SolskjaerOle Gunnar Solskjaer
Solskjaer’s 2019/20 campaign eventually ended in celebration | Pool/Getty Images

After impressing in the dugout with Molde in his native Norway, Solskjaer joined relegation threatened Cardiff in 2014 for his first taste of managerial life in England.

The Blue Birds finished rock bottom of the Premier League, winning just 30% of their league fixtures under Solskjaer.

He quickly returned to the solace of Molde, but in 2018 was offered the Manchester United caretaker job.

Solskjaer became the one night stand that never left. An incredible start was followed by a turgid drop off, but the Norwegian eventually steered things in the right direction to finish a very credible third during the 2019/20 season and secure United Champions League football.

Sean DycheSean Dyche
Dyche has done an incredible job at Burnley | Alex Livesey/Getty Images

He may not quite match the calibre of the other managers gracing this list, but what a job Sean Dyche has done at Burnley.

Dyche led the Clarets to promotion from the Championship in 2013/14 and although they immediately came straight back down again, he not only stuck around, but he guided Burnley to promotion once more the following season. Properly clearing up his mess. Unlike the other frauds on this list.

If that wasn’t enough, Dyche has since established Burnley as a comfortable mid-table top flight team, and even took them on a brief European adventure in 2018.

Eddie Howe sure can take heart from the man that replaced him at Burnley.


Inter Hoping Manchester United Agree to Help Fund Alexis Sánchez Exit

Alexis Sanchez
Inter are keen on signing Alexis Sanchez permanently | Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

Inter are eager to sign Manchester United forward Alexis Sánchez this summer, but they are pushing for more financial assistance from the Red Devils to be able to do so.

After a bitterly disappointing 18 months at Old Trafford, Sánchez was shipped off on loan to Inter last summer but United had to pay £175,000 of his £400,000-a-week contract to be able to convince the Italian side to take him.

Alexis SanchezAlexis Sanchez
Inter have publicly admitted their desire to sign the Manchester United man | Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

The 31-year-old has enjoyed an impressive end to the season and currently sits on four goals and ten assists in all competitions, and BBC Sport note that Inter are interested in bringing him back permanently, but the cost of any deal is a major problem.

Inter cannot come anywhere close to paying his £400,000-a-week salary, so they are hoping for Sánchez to express a willingness to take a pay cut, but United know that it could be a cut of close to £150,000.

United are determined to offload Sánchez this summer as they are facing the prospect of paying him £50m to see out the remaining two years of his contract, so the idea of agreeing a pay-off with Sánchez to convince him to take a pay-cut to smooth over any potential sale is suggested as a likely option.

The Telegraph also discuss the situation, adding that all three of United, Inter and Sánchez are keen to find an agreement this summer, but a deal will only be reached if the complicated financials can be sorted out.

Sánchez is happy in Milan and feels wanted by both the fans and manager Antonio Conte – something which he did not experience during his time at Old Trafford – so he may be prepared to lower his wage demands simply to bring his United nightmare to an end.

Despite nearly all major outlets agreeing on this, the Daily Star have come out with a report of their own. They claim that Inter want to pay £30m to sign Sánchez, but United actually want to keep the Chilean around, which seems…unlikely.

Ole Gunnar SolskjaerOle Gunnar Solskjaer
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has other plans for United’s money | Pool/Getty Images

A pay-off would be tough for United to swallow, but given they are hoping to reward Paul Pogba with a new contract and are committed to spending big on Jadon Sancho, having Sánchez’s wages on the books as well could be disastrous.

If all parties truly want a deal to go through, that will make things a whole lot easier, but Sánchez holds all the cards as he will decide how much he wants from Inter and how much he wants from United. Expect this to rumble on for a little while longer.

For more from ​Tom Gott, follow him on ​Twitter!


Inter 2-0 Napoli: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Nerazzurri Grind Out Important Victory

Danilo D Ambrosio
FC Internazionale v SSC Napoli – Serie A | Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Inter avenged their Coppa Italia semi-final defeat by completing the league double over Napoli with a 2-0 victory at San Siro on Tuesday night.

An intriguing tactical battle was entertaining from the outset. Inter started in typically bright fashion as they took the lead through Danilo D’Ambrosio, but Napoli were able to seize control after the first cooling break.

Danilo D’Ambrosio opened the scoring with a well-taken finish from Cristiano Biraghi’s cut-back | MARCO BERTORELLO/Getty Images

Matteo Politano was denied smartly by Samir Handanovic against his former employers before Lorenzo Insigne dragged his effort wide with the goal gaping. The hosts responded well to a spell of Partenopei pressure though, and they went close to doubling their lead when Alex Meret denied Marcelo Brozovic.

After continued Napoli superiority to start the second-half, Cristiano Biraghi had a great chance to put the game beyond the visitors, but the wing-back sliced his effort horribly wide.

However, a moment of brilliance from substitute Lautaro Martinez swiftly spared Biraghi’s blushes. The Argentine brought down Nicolo Barella’s pass smartly before bursting past Diego Demme to unleash a rocket from distance which squeezed under the despairing glove of Meret.

The Nerazzurri were then able to see the game out maturely from then on, with their 2-0 victory sending them back up to second in the Serie A table.

Key Talking Point

Antonio ConteAntonio Conte
Antonio Conte’s men weren’t at their best in the 2-0 triumph at San Siro | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

So often this season have we seen Conte’s Inter surrender leads in contests they’ve dominated, but the tables turned on Tuesday night.

They were fortunate to find themselves 1-0 up at the break and after a period of sustained pressure from the visitors to start the second period, it seemed inevitable that Napoli would snatch an equaliser.

But the Nerazzurri didn’t fold on this occasion and they started to wise up to Napoli’s chance creation methods as the game wore on. The back three defended heroically throughout, while Marcelo Brozovic enjoyed his best performance since the restart as part of the double pivot.

This was the kind of display that would’ve thrilled Conte and one that stands them in good stead heading into next season. It’s all about the grinta!

Starting XI: Handanovic (7); D’Ambrosio (7), De Vrij (8), Bastoni (8); Candreva (5), Barella (5), Brozovic (7), Biraghi (5); Valero (6); Alexis (6), Lukaku (8*).

Subs: Lautaro (7), Godin (6), Young (6), Moses (N/A), Eriksen (N/A)

Inter’s star man this term showed up once more on Tuesday night with yet another selfless, but mightily effective striker performance.

Matched-up with Kalidou Koulibaly – widely touted as one of the finest defenders in Europe – there’s no doubting the Belgian came out on top. His ability to shrug off the brutish Senegal international was so impressive, and it allowed his side some much needed respite at times.

The combination and hold-up play to set-up the Brozovic chance just before the break was majestic, but the highlight of a brilliant display was his outside of the foot pass from deep inside his own half which set Barella on his way in behind the Napoli defence.

It was a showing which didn’t produce a goal or an assist, but one which ultimately set his side on their way to victory.

Key Talking Point

Gennaro GattusoGennaro Gattuso
There was plenty to admire from Napoli’s performance against Inter | Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Gattuso’s side have had great success against high-pressing, aggressive sides with their use of press-baiting – a concept which involves committing numerous players to the build-up phase in a bid to draw the opposition higher up the pitch and exploit the space which opens up between the lines as a result of an incoherent press – but they had minimal success via this method against the Nerazzurri.

Inter’s press throughout was brilliantly drilled. They cut out passing lanes expertly and closed the space between the lines superbly. Despite this, the visitors created chances frequently – which would’ve pleased Gattuso.

With their primary route of space creation nullified, Napoli were able to progress up the field efficiently – often through the up, back and through concept – maintain possession in the final third and sustain attacks relentlessly for large swathes.

Their inverted wingers were a constant threat, with the overlapping runs provided by full-backs and midfielders creating a new dynamic to the Napoli attack. While he’ll rue his side’s inability to finish, there was plenty of positives to take from this performance.

Starting XI: Meret (5); Hysaj (6), Maksimovic (6), Koulibaly (6), Rui (5); Demme (6), Elmas (6), Zielinski (7); Politano (7), Milik (5), Insigne (8*).

Subs: Allan (6), Ghoulam (5), Lozano (5), Malcuit (5), Callejon (N/A)

The performance of Lorenzo Insigne on Tuesday night certainly stands Napoli in good stead for their clash with Barcelona next month.

Deployed on his favoured left flank, the diminutive Italian was a pleasure to watch. He was able to burst away from opponents with such grace when the visitors looked to counter, while his ability to cut inside and create was on full display. The Napoli skipper should’ve had a pair of assists in the first half as he supplied Arkadiusz Milik and Politano with superb pick outs from the left.

While his stellar showing didn’t return a goal, Insigne was undoubtedly Napoli’s star man.

Inter travel to Atalanta on the final day of the Serie A season in a battle for second place while Napoli visit Lazio with their Europa League status for next term already confirmed.

Then, both sides will have to think about Europe. Napoli travel to Barcelona for the second leg of their round of 16 tie in the Champions League while the Nerazzurri take on Getafe in their Europa League last 16 clash.


The Best Centre Forwards of All Time

Ronaldo Nazario - Soccer Player
The original Ronaldo playing for Inter in 1998 | Claudio Villa/Getty Images

A wise and pensive Michael Owen once said: “Whichever team scores more goals usually wins.”

He couldn’t have been more right. Football is a game of goals, and no matter how good your team is, a classic centre-forward who can stick them away never goes amiss. But as football develops and managers begin to experiment and attempt to outsmart opponents with revolutionary tactics, the importance of a classic number nine is starting to wane.

Much like rock and roll and the routine of a half-time bovril however, the centre-forward will never die.

Robert LewandowskiRobert Lewandowski
Robert Lewandowski is one of the world’s best current centre-forwards | Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

How good is it to see one of this rare breed pop up and take such genuine pleasure in smashing a ball into a net with such ruthlessness and contempt for his adversaries? Or batter home a towering header?

We are living in an era when their appearance is becoming more and more scarce, but back in the day, these guys were the bees knees.

Over the years, football has produced some wonderful centre-forwards who have crashed through the glass ceiling of scoring goals, while doing it in their own unique and prolific way. Here is 90min’s look back at the nine greatest players to have ever performed this role.

For many, this man is the greatest player to have set foot on God’s green earth. Pelé may receive some criticism on social media, from those who mock his supposedly generous goal record. But the fact that he scored so many goals that it became almost impossible to keep count, speaks volumes of the Brazilian.

Two-footed, strong in the air, majestic with the ball at his feet and a ruthless finisher, Pelé was possibly the most well-rounded footballer in the world. He won the World Cup a record three times during his playing career, scoring 77 goals for his national side over a 14-year spell.

Simply put, he was a genius of the game, and he’ll always be remembered as the man who coined and perfected ‘the beautiful game.’

The original Ronaldo. Pace, power, two feet, and an incomparable gift for sticking goalkeepers on their backsides. Never has the world stood up and taken notice as when this young Brazilian burst onto the scene with PSV Eindhoven, Barcelona and then Inter.

Sadly, injuries took their toll on the forward, who was forced to adapt from a man who could do everything brilliantly, to a man who could do most things exceptionally. As the raw pace escaped his body, Ronaldo settled for being an out and out goalscorer, enjoying five fruitful years at Real Madrid.

A two-time World Cup and Ballon d’Or winner, Ronaldo will always be remembered as one of the most complete centre-forwards to grace our game. And even after all the goals, the trophies and the records, we are left with that burning feeling of what might have been.

A real penalty-box player. Every centre-back’s nightmare. Gerd Muller was possibly the most unconventional striker on this list in terms of appearance, but despite his short, squat physique, he was possibly the most lethal finisher of them all.

The German centre-forward may not have been blessed with the strapping body of a typical goalscorer, nor was he renowned for blistering pace, but boy, could he find the net? Muller came alive in the penalty area, and he could apply any type of finish to every ball that came his way. He just had the knack.

He still holds the record for the most goals in one season with Bayern, bagging 40 times in 34 league matches. Unbelievable.

Ferenc PuskasFerenc Puskas
Ferenc Puskas is a legend of the game | Robert Stiggins/Getty Images

This guy has an award for the most aesthetically-pleasing goal of the year named after him, so that tells you all you need to know. Ferenc Puskas was in the goals business during his long career, and brother, business was a-boomin’.

The powerful centre-forward was part of the famous Hungary side of the 1940s and 50s, scoring 84 goals in 85 international matches. That’s almost a goal a game, for those who skipped maths at school.

Overall, he walloped home 512 goals in 528 appearances, including eight famous years at Real Madrid, writing his name in the history books as one of the most prolific goalscorers in the 20th century.

Now this man could do it all. Marco van Basten was as complete a striker as they come, and along with his breathtaking consistency and reliability, he could also produce some moments of unrivalled spectacular wonder.

The Swan of Utrecht’s highlight reel would be a match for any other footballer in the world, and his near zero degree volley in the Euro 1988 final is lauded as one of the greatest goals in the sport’s history.

Van Basten could conjure a miracle on any stage, no matter how vital or insignificant, and the only shame is that injury curtailed his marvellous career. A star of the game.

Eusebio In training for Benfica | Keystone/Getty Images

Until very recently, this legend was the greatest player in Portugal’s illustrious history. Even though Cristiano Ronaldo may have stolen that particular tag, there are many who still reminisce much more fondly on Eusebio’s sterling contribution to football.

Eusebio was one of the first genuine superstars of the sport, and his goal record pays tribute to this. The Portuguese forward rattled home 473 goals in 440 games. No need for calculators to figure out how special that is.

He won the Golden Boot at the 1966 World Cup with an incredible nine goals, and was undoubtedly one of the star performers in the tournament. Grace and elegance personified.

Any player that wins the Golden Ball at a World Cup is pretty special. Romario was an insanely gifted footballer who possessed that natural Brazilian flair and spark that separates the Samba stars from us mere mortals.

Romario was a key component in Johan Cruyff’s Dream Team at Barcelona, where he found the net 30 times in his debut campaign. He was also a key figure in the Vasco de Gama side which tore Manchester United apart in the FIFA Club World Cup in 2000, putting in a memorable display.

Over 1000 career goals (apparently), he is the second-most prolific striker in football history. Wow.

Gabriel Batistuta of FiorentinaGabriel Batistuta of Fiorentina
Gabriel Batistuta is a Fiorentina legend | Claudio Villa/ Grazia Neri/Getty Images

Batigol. When we reminisce on the most clinical strikers in football history, the name of Gabriel Batistuta always rears its head. The Argentine forward made his name in Europe over a nine-year spell with Fiorentina, where he became a club legend, rifling home over 200 goals for la Viola.

Although he showed himself to be Serie A’s deadliest forward during his time in Florence, it was at AS Roma where his heroics were rewarded with silverware. I Giallorossi lifted the 2000/01 league title – only the third in their history – and Gabigol helped himself to 20 valuable strikes over the course of the campaign.

Batistuta was pure power. The power in his legs allowed the forward to strike the ball from anywhere, with either foot, and with a vicious ferocity that made you pity the goalkeeper tasked with stopping his efforts. An icon of the 1990s, and a Serie A legend.

(FILES) File photo dated 18 April 1984 s...(FILES) File photo dated 18 April 1984 s...
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge in training | AFP/Getty Images

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is now the chairman of Bayern – and you don’t get that role by being a shoddy striker! The German forward began his career with the Bavarian giants, scoring over 200 goals in 10 years at the club.

His versatility and adaptability to different styles of play made him the prolific forward he proved to be, while his lightning pace and clinical finishing always put him out of the defender’s reach.

A Bayern and West Germany legend, Rummenigge is part of football’s very fabric. A wonderful forward to complete the list.


Alphonso Davies Names His Top 5 Full-Backs in World Football

Alphonso Davies
Alphonso Davies in action for Bayern Munich during the 2019/20 season | Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Bayern Munich’s flying left-back Alphonso Davies has named his top five full-backs currently operating in world football.

Davies was a revelation on Bayern’s left flank this season, as the Bavarians stormed to an eighth straight Bundesliga title.

The Canada international made his Bayern debut in 2018/19 but rocketed to stardom this season as the club’s first choice left-back – scoring three times and registering five assists in 29 appearances.

Alphonso Davies, Thomas MüllerAlphonso Davies, Thomas Müller
Davies and Thomas Muller celebrate the DFB Pokal win | Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

The 19-year-old was also shortlisted for 2020’s Golden Boy award, named as the Bundesliga’s Rookie of the Year and was ranked by 90min as one of the 25 best full-backs in the world. On top of all that, the teenager can boast he is the fastest footballer in Germany, having also clocked the Bundesliga’s top speed – at 36.51 km/ph.

Having started his career as a winger in MLS, Davies has been at the forefront of move in football tactics that has seen the full back become an increasingly popular and integral position – with those in the position expected to chip in with goals, assists and lung-busting runs forward, as well as defend.

Speaking to 90min, Davies named his own top five full-backs operating currently in world football – with three from the Bundesliga and two from the Premier League.

“[Achraf] Hakimi is one of them,” he said. “I really like how Benji [Pavard] plays, scoring goals and getting assists, so those two.

Trent Alexander-ArnoldTrent Alexander-Arnold
Davies named Trent Alexander-Arnold as one of the five best full backs in the world | Pool/Getty Images

“Trent Alexander-Arnold definitely and I really like [Bukayo] Saka from Arsenal. He’s a really good player.”

And when asked if he would nominate himself for the final pick of the five, Davies added smiling: “and me too!”

On whether he sees himself continuing as a full-back next season, or reverting to a more forward role, Davies insisted that he is happy to stick where he is, saying: “Right now, definitely left-back. I like the position, I like how everything is going well with my centre-back partners.”

On for an historic treble this season, Bayern take on Chelsea in the second leg of their Champions League last 16 tie on 8 August.

The German champions lead 3-0 from the first leg back in February, a game in which Davies tormented the Blues right side, grabbing an assist for the third goal.


Every UEFA Champions League Winning Team – Ranked

Real Madrid v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Final
The Champions League trophy | Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images

Winning a domestic league title is great, but lifting the Champions League trophy is what every player dreams of. Only the best can win that competition. Well, usually.

Since the competition’s rebranding in 1992, we’ve seen 27 sides lift the famous trophy. Some of those teams have been all-time greats, but a few left fans scratching their heads and questioning whether it was all just one weird dream.

There’s only one thing to do – let’s rank them.

Alen Boksik of MarseilleAlen Boksik of Marseille
Alen Boksik of Marseille | Howard Boylan/Getty Images

This is a tricky one. 1992/93 Marseille were a great team. They were really great. But were they actually good enough to win the Champions League?

The squad, which featured Fabien Barthez, Marcel Desailly, Rudi Völler, Abedi Pelé and Didier Deschamps, picked up a 1-0 win over AC Milan in the final, only to later be found guilty of match fixing during their domestic campaign.

They were found to have paid Valenciennes to lose a game to ensure their squad were not tired out for the European game, so they probably deserve to be bottom of this list.

Steven Gerrard, Rafael BenitezSteven Gerrard, Rafael Benitez
Liverpool needed a sublime comeback to win the competition | Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

It’s probably the best Champions League final story of all time, but let’s not forget that Liverpool’s dramatic comeback against AC Milan in 2005 was only possible because they were bad enough to fall 3-0 down in the first place.

The Reds, who lost 14 Premier League games that year and finished fifth, had the likes of Steve Finnan, Djimi Traoré and Harry Kewell in their starting lineup and would have probably lost about 10-0 if Steven Gerrard didn’t turn into a superhero.

(L-R) FC Porto's Derlei, Jose Bosingwa,(L-R) FC Porto's Derlei, Jose Bosingwa,
Porto’s run to the final was easier than most | JOHN MACDOUGALL/Getty Images

The triumph that made José Mourinho. Porto should never have won the Champions League, and you only have to look at how they had to scrape past Deportivo La Coruña in the semi-final as proof of that.

Their success was largely down to good fortune in terms of their opponents, but the likes of Deco, Maniche and Ricardo Carvalho ensured that Porto still had enough about them to cause an upset.

Chelsea's British defender John Terry (CChelsea's British defender John Terry (C
Chelsea were underdogs for most of the season | ADRIAN DENNIS/Getty Images

Chelsea, who found themselves in domestic turmoil in 2011/12, should have lost to Napoli, Barcelona and Bayern Munich that year, but somehow managed to emerge with the Champions League trophy.

There was plenty of firepower in the squad, including Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard and John Terry (when he wasn’t suspended), but this squad also included a young Ryan Bertrand who made his European debut in the final…. out of position.

AC Milan players, staffAC Milan players, staff
Milan were guilty of underwhelming performances | Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

This is a tricky one. On paper, Milan should have been amazing this year. The squad featured Dida, Alessandro Nesta, Paolo Maldini, Andrea Pirlo, Andriy Shevchenko – the list goes on.

Unfortunately, 2002/03 Milan were one of the most uninspiring teams in competition history.

They were all about dull 1-0 wins and were largely responsible for the first 0-0 draw in final history.

Paul LambertPaul Lambert
Paul Lambert won the competition with Borussia Dortmund | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Lars Ricken, Paulo Sousa, Karl-Heinz Riedle and Matthias Sammer all flirted with stardom, with Sammar perhaps coming the closest, but the Borussia Dortmund side of 1996/97 just seemed to lack a certain je ne sais quoi.

Ricken’s goal 16 seconds after coming on as a substitute is still a record for the Champions League final, and that is a major reason why this team is still remembered.

Mario Ielpo, Roberto Fonadoni, Fabio Capello head coach, Mauro Tassotti, Stefano Nava, dejan Savicevic, vonimir Boban, Marcel Desailly, Demetrio Albertini, Marco Simone, Paolo Maldini, Gianluigi Lentini, Daniele MassaroMario Ielpo, Roberto Fonadoni, Fabio Capello head coach, Mauro Tassotti, Stefano Nava, dejan Savicevic, vonimir Boban, Marcel Desailly, Demetrio Albertini, Marco Simone, Paolo Maldini, Gianluigi Lentini, Daniele Massaro
AC Milan were outstanding against Barcelona | Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

If we’re talking purely about performances in the final, this Milan side would be right at the top. They mauled Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona 4-0, but that was pretty much the first time that they had actually played entertaining football.

It’s tough to say what was wrong with this Milan side. They still won games, but it just wasn’t that impressive to watch most of the time. There’s only so much ‘offside trap’ a fan can take.

Real Madrid overcame Juventus in the final | PATRICK KOVARIK/Getty Images

Real Madrid are almost the victims of their own high standards. Their Champions League triumph in 1998 was their first and has since proven to be their least impressive.

Fernando Hierro was strong at the back, Clarence Seedorf and Christian Karembeu starred in midfield and a young Raúl was just coming into his own in attack, but struggles domestically detract from this side’s greatness.

Steve McManamanSteve McManaman
This was the pre-Galacticos Real Madrid | Graham Chadwick/Getty Images

We’re at that point in the list where every team is ridiculously good, it’s just a question of figuring out which sides were less ridiculously good than the rest.

1999/00 Real find themselves here because they were on the cusp of blossoming into the famous ‘Galacticos’ but were perhaps lacking a little something.

Whatever they were lacking didn’t really show as they still played an impressive brand of football which won the hearts of many.

UEFA Champions League final - "Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid"UEFA Champions League final - "Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid"
Real won 3 consecutive titles between 2016 and 2018 | VI-Images/Getty Images

The 2015/16 tournament wasn’t the most convincing from Real. They conceded three against Shakhtar Donetsk and came close to being eliminated by Wolfsburg, who picked up a 2-0 win in the first leg of the quarter-final.

They had to squeeze past Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City and Atlético Madrid en route to lifting the trophy, but the fact of the matter is that they did squeeze past them, and that’s not easy.

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Jose Mourinho led Inter to the title in 2010 | JAVIER SORIANO/Getty Images

2009/10 Inter were football’s equivalent of marmite – you either loved them or you hated them.

With Mourinho’s signature defensive style, I Nerazzurri became impenetrable. Samuel Eto’o went from a striker to a winger (which means he became a full-back under Mourinho), and they gave up possession in almost every game they played.

Diego Milito’s fantastic goalscoring stole the show, but you always felt like this Inter side maybe could have done things in a more convincing fashion.

Angelo PeruzziAngelo Peruzzi
Juventus celebrate with the trophy | Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

Three words: Alessandro Del Piero.

The Italian was the standout star in a team which featured Gianluca Vialli, Antonio Conte and Didier Deschamps, firing Juventus to glory in devastating fashion.

AC Milan v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League FinalAC Milan v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Final
AC Milan got revenge against Liverpool | Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

With Ballon d’Or winner Kaká stealing the show in midfield, 2006/07 AC Milan were something special.

They got revenge against Liverpool in the final that year, with Kaká and Filippo Inzaghi proving too much to handle in attack.

Stefan EffenbergStefan Effenberg
The 2001 final was all about penalties | Alex Livesey/Getty Images

If you haven’t gathered, we’re in the section of the list for teams who were primarily led by one star. For Bayern Munich in 2000/01, that star was goalkeeper Oliver Kahn.

The victory over Valencia in the final was all about penalties. Bayern missed one in the game, before Kahn went off on one in the shootout to earn the Germans the trophy.

Carles PuyolCarles Puyol
2006 was Ronaldinho’s year | Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

As a single unit, Barcelona were great in 2005/06, but this was the Ronaldinho show. Frank Rijkaard knew that and built his team around the Brazilian.

Would Barça have won the tournament without Ronaldinho? Possibly not, although Eto’o would have had something to say about that.

Zinedine Zidane’s volley was the highlight of the 2001/02 final | GERRY PENNY/Getty Images

Zinedine Zidane rocked up to Real for the 2001/02 season and scored one of the greatest goals in competition history in the final in his debut season. Not bad.

Los Blancos scored goals for fun this season and had to prove their mental fortitude by coming back from the brink of elimination at the hands of Bayern Munich.

And then Real got caught up in the moment and tore the squad apart through mass spending – and they didn’t even replace Claude Makélélé!

Iker CasillasIker Casillas
Cristiano Ronaldo managed 17 goals in the 2013/14 Champions League | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Carlo Ancelotti’s brand of free-flowing football brought the best out of Real and helped Cristiano Ronaldo fire home a ludicrous 17 goals during the competition.

They dominated plenty of sides en route to glory, but their legacy takes a slight hit as they came within seconds of losing the final to rivals Atlético Madrid.

Peter SchmeichelPeter Schmeichel
United won the treble in 1998/99 | Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

The treble winners. That alone is good enough for a high finish on this list, and that’s how it should be.

However, because we’ve got to look a little deeper when comparing these teams, we’ve got to look at how United came to be European champions, and it’s not as impressive as you might think.

Defensively, United were more than a little unconvincing at times, evident by the fact they needed dramatic comebacks in both the semi-final and the final, but the fact that they had the quality to fight back speaks volumes.

Alex FergusonAlex Ferguson
Manchester United overcame Chelsea on penalties | Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

United’s squad in the 2007/08 final reads like a real who’s who of footballing greats. Edwin van der Sar, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidić formed one of the best defensive trios of all time and Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez weren’t half bad in attack, either.

Defensively dominant and sublime in attack, this United side overwhelmed their opponents with terrifying ease.

UEFA Champions League"Real Madrid v Liverpool FC"UEFA Champions League"Real Madrid v Liverpool FC"
This victory made it three in a row for Real | VI-Images/Getty Images

They’ll always be remembered as the side who needed a Loris Karius disasterclass to win the final, but the reality is this Real side were phenomenal.

They fought through PSG, Juventus and Bayern Munich en route to the final, with a squad which featured Sergio Ramos, Cristiano Ronaldo and soon-to-be Ballon d’Or winner Luka Modrić.

Juventus v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League FinalJuventus v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League Final
Real thumped Juventus in the final | Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images

Just one year earlier, a very similar Real side stormed to victory in Europe, but there’s an argument to suggest that this 2016/17 was Real at their recent peak.

Modrić, Toni Kroos and Casemiro made up perhaps the finest midfield on the planet at the time, and they tore apart a Juventus side who were expected to cause Real major problems.

UEFA Champions League"Tottenham Hotspur FC v Liverpool FC"UEFA Champions League"Tottenham Hotspur FC v Liverpool FC"
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool won the trophy in 2019 | VI-Images/Getty Images

Alisson and Virgil van Dijk gave Liverpool an elite defence. Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino dominated in attack. On an individual level, this Liverpool side were great, but Jürgen Klopp’s tactics brought them to a new level.

Their unbelievable 4-0 win over Barcelona in the semi-final was the greatest comeback in the competition’s history, ensuring this side will never be forgotten. Ever.

Ajax took Europe by storm under Louis van Gaal | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Louis van Gaal’s Ajax side were the perfect blend of outstanding talent and pure entertainment. They beat the ‘best in the world’ Milan side no less than three times, and it did by playing some stunning football.

Frank Rijkaard led from midfield, allowing Seedorf, Edgar Davids, Marc Overmars and a young Patrick Kluivert to shine on the biggest stage.

What made this Ajax side most impressive was their ability to win in various different ways. They could use pace and power, intricate passing or defensive resilience – whatever was needed, they could do it.

Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi, NeymarLuis Suarez, Lionel Messi, Neymar
‘MSN’ were on a different level in 2014/15 | Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images

We’re in the real crème de la crème now, and kicking things off is the Barcelona side from 2014/15.

MSN – Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez and Neymar – wreaked havoc against opponents all year long, scoring a combined 137 goals across the entirety of 2015.

When you add Marc-André ter Stegen, Gerard Piqué, Xavi and Andrés Iniesta to the mix, you’ve got one of the most terrifying teams in history.

Bastian SchweinsteigerBastian Schweinsteiger
Bayern Munich should have won back-to-back titles | Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images

Half of this Bayern Munich side went on to reach the 2014 World Cup final, which speaks volumes of the general level of quality in this squad.

Jupp Heynckes’ side were led by ‘Robbery’ – the wide duo of Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben – but that was just the start of it.

Manuel Neuer, Jérôme Boateng and Philipp Lahm helped make up a sublime defence, while Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thomas Müller pulled the strings in midfield.

This side should have won the competition in 2012, but they finally got what they deserved this time around.

Barcelona´s midfielder Andres Iniesta hoBarcelona´s midfielder Andres Iniesta ho
Pep Guardiola’s debut season was one of the best ever | LLUIS GENE/Getty Images

Pep Guardiola’s debut season with Barcelona was comfortably one of the greatest we have ever seen. Barça went on to win the treble, and they did it by completely dominating their opponents.

Messi was yet to become the focal point of Barça’s sides, so this team was all about an overall quality throughout the squad. Xavi, Iniesta and Sergio Busquets pulled the strings in midfield, and Samuel Eto’o and Thierry Henry ran riot in attack.

Some good fortune was needed to edge past Chelsea in the semi-final, but apart from that, it was utter domination from start to finish.

Barcelona completely overwhelmed Man Utd in the final | GLYN KIRK/Getty Images

2008/09 Barcelona rewrote football, but 2010/11 took it to a whole new level.

To a man, this team may well be the greatest club side ever. Messi, Pedro and David Villa in attack, Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets in midfield, Eric Abidal, Pique, Javier Mascherano and Dani Alves in defence, with Victor Valdés in goal. Wow.

Their 3-1 win over Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United in the final is often described as one of the most dominant victories ever, and it was the perfect example of what this team was about.

For more from ​Tom Gott, follow him on ​Twitter!


90min’s Definitive European Power Rankings: End of Season Review – The Sopranos Special

Jordan Henderson
Liverpool won the league | Pool/Getty Images

Following a season in which:

– Liverpool won their first league title in 30 years.

– Leeds United were promoted to the Premier League for the first time in 16 years.

– Real Madrid won La Liga for the first time in three years.

– Football stopped due to the COVID-19 pandemic for the first time, well, ever.

We at the DEPR headquarters rank the 25 (yes, 25) best teams in Europe for the 30th and final time this season. And to do so we thought we’d bring out the big guns; the guns that, after firing, you look at and say ‘madonn’.

Yep, that’s right, it’s The Sopranos week.

The Sopranos Smile GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Leeds United v Charlton Athletic - Sky Bet ChampionshipLeeds United v Charlton Athletic - Sky Bet Championship
Leeds United won promotion | Michael Regan/Getty Images

“‘Remember when’ is the lowest form of conversation.”

For years, all Leeds United fans could bring themselves to talk about was ever fading memories of their Don Revie-led glory days. When their team were the best in England, winning league titles and FA Cups by the truckload.

Now, finally, they have something else to talk about.

For the first time in 16 years, their club are back where they belong in England’s top flight. And we at DEPR are bloody glad they are.

Sevilla qualified for the Champions League | CRISTINA QUICLER/Getty Images

“In your worst dreams a duck flies off with your penis.”

In Sevilla fans’ worst dreams, Barcelona or Real Madrid fly off with Lucas Ocampos this summer.

They’ll be hoping that their qualification for the Champions League will be enough to keep hold of the talented Argentine.

Marco RoseMarco Rose
Borussia Moenchengladbach has overachieved this season | Lars Baron/Getty Images

“Life is putting the prozac to the test.”

The first half of the Bundesliga season was remarkable for Borussia Monchengladbach. They were locked in a three-horse race for the league title, and were absolutely blowing away every team that dared face them with their ferocious counter-attacking football.

The second half of the season was a different story. It, well…let’s just say it put the prozac to the test for Gladbach fans. BUT, while their title challenge fell apart, they did manage to sneak into the Champions League.

Jamie VardyJamie Vardy
Vardy won the golden boot | Michael Regan/Getty Images

“In my thoughts, I use the technique of positive visualisation.”

Ok Leicester City fans, we know that the last day of the season didn’t exactly go to plan, but let’s look at the positives:

– Your club massively overachieved this season.
– Jamie Vardy won the Golden Boot.
– James Maddison is signing a new contract.
– Big Brendy Baps has your team playing great football.
– Your new kit is lovely.

Feel better?

“If I had any ounce of self-respect I would cut your d**k off.”

If RB Leipzig have any ounce of self-respect then they wouldn’t have tweeted about Timo Werner signing for Chelsea like a Twitter fan account called @MaestroMount8.


Franck Yannick KessiéFranck Yannick Kessié
AC Milan’s recent resurgence is remarkable | Claudio Villa/Getty Images

“Teddy Roosevelt once gave an entire speech with a bullet lodged in his chest. Some things are just a matter of duty.”

Stefano Pioli once resurrected an entire football club with a bullet lodged in his chest – a wound he’s miraculously survived.

So despite Milan all but appointing Ralf Rangnick as their manager for next season, Pioli – due to a certain 10 game unbeaten run and wins over Juventus and Lazio – will be in charge at San Siro for the 2020/21 campaign.

And he bloody deserves to be.

Diego Pablo Simeone, Manager of Atletico de MadridDiego Pablo Simeone, Manager of Atletico de Madrid
Atletico Madrid: still boring but effective | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

“Like Popeye says, I yam what I yam.”

Love them or hate them, Atletico Madrid are still just who they are:

A boring, yet effective, football team.

Chris Wilder has done an outstanding job | PETER POWELL/Getty Images

“Other people’s definitions of you, sometimes they’re more about making themselves feel better. You gotta define yourself.”

At the start of the 2019/20 season, every single member of the 90min editorial team tried to define Sheffield United as relegation fodder.

During the 2019/20 season, the Blades proved themselves to be a lot more than that. They defined themselves as a top half team who play arguably the most exciting football in the Premier League.

Nice one.

Erling HaalandErling Haaland
Haaland was one of the signings of the season | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

“Well, what are you gonna do?”

Well, Borussia Dortmund…what are you gonna do this summer?

Are you going to keep hold of Jadon Sancho?

Are you going to sign a defender who can actually, you know, DEFEND?

Are you going to sign more central midfield cover?

Or are you going to accept the fact that you’re only the second best team in Germany? Huh?

It’s time to show some ambition BVB. Do the right thing.

Lionel MessiLionel Messi
Bit of a horrific season Barcelona to be honest | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

“I’m like King Midas in reverse here. Everything I touch turns to sh*t.”

In 2017, Ousmane Dembele was one of the most exciting prospects in the world. Now, he’s a bit sh*t.

In 2018, Philippe Coutinho was one of the most talented attacking players in Europe. Now, he’s a bit sh*t.

In 2018, Antoine Griezmann was one of the best footballers in the world. Now, he’s a bit sh*t.

All of the above is proof that everything Barcelona touches turns to sh*t.

Juventus v SSC Napoli - Coppa Italia: FinalJuventus v SSC Napoli - Coppa Italia: Final
Napoli won the Coppa Italia | Marco Rosi/Getty Images

“Even a broken clock is right twice a day.”

Let’s call a spade a spade, Gennaro Gattuso isn’t a particularly great manager and Napoli haven’t been particularly great since he’s taken charge.

However, every once a while, he’s able to inspire Napoli to a huge win.

The Coppa Italia final was one such win. So, you know, credit where it’s due.

Kevin De BruyneKevin De Bruyne
It’s been a disappointing season for Man City | Visionhaus/Getty Images

“More is lost by indecision than by wrong decision.”

Manchester City underperformed this season for one simple reason: they didn’t buy a centre back last summer.

Instead of buying a centre back they trusted John Stones, who proved once again that he is completely and utterly hopeless.

Quincy PromesQuincy Promes
Another league title for Ajax | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

“When you’re married, you’ll understand the importance of fresh produce.”

Another summer of buying a billion players and selling a trillion players led to yet another Eredivisie title for Ajax.

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A much improved season for Inter | Paolo Rattini/Getty Images

“You steer the ship the best way you know. Sometimes it’s smooth. Sometimes you hit the rocks. In the meantime, you find your pleasures where you can.”

Inter’s 2019/20 campaign has been a pretty interesting one.

Sometimes it’s been smooth, when Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez were firing on all cylinders and I Nerazzurri were challenging for the title.

Sometimes they hit the rocks, with defeats to Bologna.

Overall though, there’s been plenty to enjoy for Inter fans this season, and under Antonio Conte their club are certainly moving in the right direction.

A decent first season in charge for Frank Lampard | PETER POWELL/Getty Images

“Some people are so far behind in a race that they actually believe they’re leading.”

Chelsea think that they’re absolutely smashing the transfer window so far with the signings of Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech.

Yeah…they’re not.

Neither of those players are defenders, and that’s what the Blues are in dire need of.

Ciro ImmobileCiro Immobile
Ciro Immobile scores goals | Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images

“Positive vibes only.”

Had COVID not put a halt to the Serie A season, SS Lazio would probably be celebrating their first Scudetto in 20 years.

And that’s a pretty depressing though to Le Aquile fans so let’s not dwell on it. Instead, let’s dwell on the fact that your club have been absolutely outstanding this season and will probably be even better in the next.

Odsonne EdouardOdsonne Edouard
Celtic won the SPFL (again) | Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

“You boys…you boys…I’ll tell ya…it’s beautiful stuff.”

Nine SPFL titles in a row and showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

You Bhoys…you Bhoys…I’ll tell ya…it’s beautiful stuff.

Bruno FernandesBruno Fernandes
Bruno Fernandes: pretty, pretty good | Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

“Sometimes we’re all hypocrites.”

About eight months ago football fans took to Twitter and declared Manchester United ‘the worst team in the world’, ‘an embarrassment’ and ‘a team full of sh*tters’.

Now, football fans take to Twitter and declare Manchester United ‘the best team in the world’, ‘an amazing side’ and ‘a team full of heroes’.

Twitter is a fickle place, but at least football fans are now slightly closer to being right than they were eight months ago.

Porto won the league and have a lovely new kit | MIGUEL RIOPA/Getty Images

“There’s an old Italian saying: you f**k up once, you lose two teeth.”

There’s an old saying in Porto: you f**k up once, Benfica win the Primeira Liga.

So judging by the fact that Porto won the league, it’s fair to say that they didn’t put a foot wrong all season.

Juventus won their ninth consecutive Scudetto | MARCO BERTORELLO/Getty Images

“You know, Tony, it’s a multiple choice thing with you. ‘Cause I can’t tell if you’re old-fashioned, you’re paranoid, or just a f**king asshole.”

It’s a multiple choice thing with Juventus.

‘Cause after they bagged their ninth consecutive Scudetto I can’t tell if they’re a great team, a boringly effective team, or just f**king sh*t.

Neymar JrNeymar Jr
Neymar has been exceptional this season | Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

“This ain’t negotiation time. This is Scarface, final scene, f**kin’ bazookas under each arm, ‘say hello to my little friend!'”

This summer isn’t a summer in which PSG can afford Neymar and Kylian Mbappé to force a move away from the club.

This ain’t negotiation time.

It’s UEFA Champions League mini-tournament time, when Neymar and Mbappé need to step up and deliver on the grandest stage for their current club.

This is Scarface, final scene, f**kin’ bazookas under each arm, ‘say hello to my little friend!‘ time for PSG’s two superstars.

Alejandro GomezAlejandro Gomez
Papu Gomez has been one of the best players in Europe this season | Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

“Someday soon, you’re gonna have families of your own and if you’re lucky, you’ll remember the little moments like this, that were good.”

For…well…ever, Atalanta have been starved of success. Seen as nothing more than a provincial club who could never, ever, hope to compete with the two European heavyweights (AC Milan and Inter) from down the road.

And then Gian Piero Gasperini took over, and things changed.

The little Bergamo club are now better than both their mega-rich neighbours – despite their Championship-sized budget – and pretty much every other team in Europe too.

Roberto Firmino, Alisson Becker, FabinhoRoberto Firmino, Alisson Becker, Fabinho
Liverpool won their first league title in 30 years | Pool/Getty Images

“You’re only as good as your last envelope.”

There’s a strong argument to be made for Liverpool being top of the end of season Definitive European Power Rankings.

They won their first league title in three decades.

They won the FIFA Club World Cup.

They’re the current holders of the UEFA Champions League.

BUT they did choose to lift the Premier League trophy to Coldplay’s ‘Sky Full of Stars’ so for that reason – and that reason alone – they’re down in third.

Zidane has turned Real Madrid’s fortunes around | GABRIEL BOUYS/Getty Images

“Be a leader, not a follower. Master P said that.”

Is Zinedine Zidane the best manager in the world?

The two La Liga titles, three UEFA Champions Leagues and two Club World Cups in just four years as a head coach suggest that he is.

Thomas MüllerThomas Müller
Bayern won the double | Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

“Just when they thought I was out, they pulled me back.”

After a fairly disastrous end to 2019, Bayern Munich made a new year’s resolution to be the best damn football team in Europe and they actually stuck to it.

Since the turn of the year, Die Roten have won 23 of 24 games, lifted the Bundesliga Meisterschale and the DFB-Pokal, and scored about a million goals (most of which were scored by Robert Lewandowski).

And it’s this form that has led to Bayern Munich being crowned the number one team in Europe by 90min’s Definitive European Power Rankings.


Inter Milan vs Napoli Preview: How to Watch on TV, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News

SCC Napoli v Internazionale
SCC Napoli v Internazionale | BSR Agency/Getty Images

Following Juventus’ win against Sampdoria, the Old Lady officially sealed their ninth Scudetto in a row, bringing an end to Inter’s own quest for the Serie A title.

Instead, the Nerazzurri will now focus on holding onto the second place spot they currently occupy, amid competition from Atalanta and Lazio.

Napoli, who were often Juventus’ closest challengers in recent seasons, had struggled throughout the 2019/20 campaign. However, they have dramatically improved following football’s restart and are making a late push for Europe.

Here’s 90min’s preview of Tuesday night’s clash.

When is Kick Off? Tuesday 28 July
What Time is Kick Off? 20:45 (BST)
Where is it Played? San Siro
TV Channel/Live Stream? Premier Sports 1, LiveScore App

After accumulating his fifth yellow card of the season, Roberto Gagliardini will miss the game through suspension. Inter will also be without Matias Vecino and Stefano Sensi through injury.

Napoli will be without a couple of key players for the match. Dries Mertens will be forced to sit this one out after receiving his fifth yellow card of the season while Fernando Llorente continues to deal with an injury.

Dries MertensDries Mertens
Napoli will be without Mertens due to his suspension | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

Inter: Handanovic, Skriniar, Ranocchia, Godin; Moses, Valero, Brozovic, Biraghi, Eriksen; Lukaku, Martinez

Napoli: Ospina, Di Lorenzo, Manolas, Koulibaly, Hysaj; Fabian, Lobotka, Zielinski; Callejon, Milik, Insigne

Genoa CFC v FC Internazionale - Serie AGenoa CFC v FC Internazionale - Serie A
Inter have been in excellent form following the Serie A’s return in June | Paolo Rattini/Getty Images

Inter have enjoyed a strong run in the latter stages of the season. Conte’s side have only lost once since football returned in June, picking up big wins over Genoa, SPAL and Brescia.

Gatusso’s side have also seen their form pick up dramatically following football’s restart in June, with impressive results pushing them back up the league table.

Having only lost twice since Serie A returned, Napoli have found themselves edging closer to a Europa League qualifying place.

Here’s how both sides have looked over their last five games.


Genoa 0-3 Inter (25/7)
Inter 0-0 Fiorentina (22/7)
Roma 2-2 Inter (19/7)
SPAL 0-4 Inter 16/7)
Inter 3-1 Torino (13/7)


Napoli 2-0 Sassuolo (25/7)
Parma 2-1 Napoli (22/7)
Napoli 2-1 Udinese (19/7)
Bologna 1-1 Napoli (15/7)
Napoli 2-2 AC Milian (12/7)

Inter will be keen for all three points on their quest to finish as Serie A runners up, but with Napoli so close to a top six finish, both sides will be all too aware of what a loss could do to them.

Expect these two to cancel each other out and share the points as this one ends in a draw.

SCC Napoli v InternazionaleSCC Napoli v Internazionale
With both sides still having a lot to play for, expect a highly contested affair, most likely ending evenly | BSR Agency/Getty Images

Prediction: Inter 1-1 Napoli


Antonio Conte Responds to Rumours Linking Lionel Messi With Inter Switch

Antonio Conte
Lionel Messi has been linked with a move to Inter in recent days | Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

Inter coach Antonio Conte has categorically put an end to any ties linking Barcelona star Lionel Messi with a move to San Siro this summer, describing the rumours as ‘absolutely fake’.

The Barça legend has grown frustrated at the current situation at Camp Nou this season, after failing to defend the league title, and slipping close to a Champions League exit at the hands of Napoli.

Lionel MessiLionel Messi
Messi has become disillusioned at Barcelona | Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

These murmurs of discontent blossomed into talk of a dramatic exit for the Argentinian superstar, which in turn went into overdrive when his father, Jorge, was spotted in Milan supposedly buying a house in Italy’s economic capital.

But dreams of seeing Messi pull on Inter’s black and blue jersey have been crushed by the man in charge, Conte. Speaking after Inter’s 3-0 victory over Genoa on Saturday evening, the Italian coach dismissed any rumours surrounding a summer move for the Argentine as ‘absolutely fake’, as cited by Fabrizio Romano.

“The rumours about Leo Messi to Inter are absolutely fake. Don’t trust these fake news. He is not joining Inter, not even in fantasy football,” Conte said.

Hardly surprising, but still disappointing. Messi seems destined to end his career at Camp Nou, and even if he is unhappy with the current state of affairs at the club, it’d take something catastrophic for the pair to part ways.

Genoa CFC v FC Internazionale - Serie AGenoa CFC v FC Internazionale - Serie A
Conte watches on in Inter’s 3-0 victory over Genoa | Paolo Rattini/Getty Images

The 33-year-old has given his entire career to the Catalan giants, but he did speak out at the end of this season, claiming ‘a lot must change’ if they are to even contemplate competing for the Champions League trophy again.

As for Inter, it always seemed very unlikely that I Nerazzurri would target a move for Messi, given the astronomical wages that the forward would demand, and their need to strengthen in other areas.

So, the world’s greatest player won’t be leaving Barcelona – for now, at least.


Record Breaking Romelu Lukaku Is Back & He’s Better Than Ever

Genoa CFC v FC Internazionale - Serie A
Lukaku has been sensational for Inter this season | Paolo Rattini/Getty Images

Although Inter may currently be sitting only four points behind Juventus in the Serie A table, and a title challenge may appear to be alive, things are far from rosey at San Siro.

Antonio Conte is up to his usual tricks of complaining, whinging, whining, lamenting – and just about every verb which could describe a bitter man, struggling to deal with his own deficiencies.

Recent results have all-but killed Inter’s realistic Scudetto hopes, while talismanic striker Lautaro Martinez has taken his eye off the ball amid rumours linking the Argentine with a move to Barcelona in the summer.

Genoa CFC v FC Internazionale - Serie AGenoa CFC v FC Internazionale - Serie A
Lukaku celebrates his second goal against Genoa | Paolo Rattini/Getty Images

One man who has kept his head down, ignored the noise and got on with his job however, is Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian striker joined I Nerazzurri in the summer in order to win trophies, and although things haven’t quite gone to plan this year, it’s certainly not down to the forward’s lack of trying.

Lukaku’s departure from Manchester United in 2019 was met with derision and crowing – from those who only follow the Premier League and have no interest in Serie A, anyway. He couldn’t cut it in the greatest league in the world anymore, and his punishment was being sent to the football graveyard that is Italy. And he can’t control a ball.

Well, that just ain’t true now, is it? The 27-year-old suffered miserably in his final year at Old Trafford, as the club struggled to cling onto any form of identity, and he was singled out as a cause for the rest of the team’s failings.

He was the scapegoat. A move away from England was best for all parties, and so it has come to pass. Man Utd are happier without him, Inter are much improved with him, and Lukaku is enjoying his football again.

The fitness and weight issues have disappeared. Lukaku looks leaner, meaner and stronger than ever before, and he’s missed only two league games through injury this season. When he has played, he’s been devastatingly good.

Lukaku has clearly been working on his overall game, offering so much to help out his teammates, and benefitting from his in-sync connection with Martinez at the top of the pitch. His touch looks better, too. It’s in the penalty area where he has continued to do the usual damage, though.

The former Chelsea man had managed 21 goals in the 33 games prior to Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Genoa, and he played his part once more against the strugglers, starting and ending the scoring in great style. It was his individual strike in the final minute of the match that really hammered home the Lukaku of old is back for good – with more strings to his bow.

Pealing wide on a swift counter-attack, the forward bounded towards goal, dropped his shoulder, slipped outside the first defender, before stepping inside the next and curling a precise finish into the bottom corner. Simply glorious.

In doing so, Lukaku became the first player to score 23 Serie A goals in their debut season with Inter since a certain Ronaldo, back in 1998. The quality of the defenders may be lower in Italy nowadays, but the point still stands.

This man loves scoring, and whether Martinez stays or departs San Siro this summer, I Nerazzurri’s future in front of goal is in very safe hands. To anyone who wrote him off, just watch – Lukaku is back and better than ever.