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» Liverpool may have Champions League edge despite Ancelotti's 'confident' Real Madrid claim
Carlo Ancelotti has remained a relaxed figure ahead of Real Madrid's Champions League final clash against Liverpool, but his confidence may play into Jurgen Klopp's hands
» Arsenal transfer round-up: Mikel Arteta's four-striker shortlist as clubs eye defender
Arsenal finished just two points behind bitter rivals Tottenham in the race for Champions League football this season and won't want a repeat of that in 12 months' time
» Liverpool transfer round-up: Deal hangs on Champions League result amid Sadio Mane gossip
Liverpool take on Real Madrid in the Champions League final in Paris on Saturday but they can't afford to take their eye off the transfer market ahead of a busy summer
» Man Utd transfer round-up: Red Devils 'step up' De Jong pursuit as Nkunku rival emerges
Erik ten Hag is busy getting his Manchester United house in order while Old Trafford chiefs sift through his list of transfer targets which reportedly include Frenkie de Jong and Christopher Nkunku
» Vinicius Jr sounds Liverpool alarm bells as he opens up on Karim Benzema partnership
Vinicius Jr is hoping to inspire Real Madrid to their 14th European Cup when they take on Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool in the Champions League final in Paris on Saturday
» Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool are match made in heaven with Champions League glory in reach
Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool will take on Carlo Ancelotti's Real Madrid in the Champions League final in Paris on Saturday evening, aiming to win a seventh European Cup
» Kylian Mbappe slammed for "unfair" comment on South American football ahead of World Cup
Kylian Mbappe has been criticised for highlighting the lack of South American winners of the World Cup - with only Brazil tasting success since Argentina's win in 1986
» Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp sends powerful Ukraine message before Real Madrid showdown
UEFA moved the Champions League final - to be contested on Saturday by Liverpool and Real Madrid - to Paris from St Petersburg after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
» Five things spotted in Liverpool training on eve of Champions League final
Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool have been training ahead of their game against Carlo Ancelotti's Real Madrid this weekend with both sides aiming to add another Champions League trophy to their cabinet
» Lionel Messi 'fed up' with Barcelona chief and demands he stops talking in phone call
Lionel Messi's name has been mentioned several times by Barcelona president Joan Laporta in press conferences since he left Spain for Paris Saint-Germain last summer
» Mikel Arteta looks to complete Arsene Wenger scouting mission with Arsenal transfer
Mikel Arteta appears to have sounded out one of Arsene Wenger’s former transfer targets for a summer move and a switch to the Emirates Stadium would see an eight-year pursuit end
» Trent Alexander-Arnold confirms Liverpool "game plans" for Real Madrid and Vinicius Jr
Trent Alexander-Arnold grew up close to Melwood and will play in his third Champions League final at just 23 years old - but Real Madrid pose a threat to his dreams
» Woman in Andy Carroll pillow selfie 'broke off wedding' before starting afresh in Dubai
Ex-England striker Andy Carroll was pictured lying in bed next to a woman on his stag do just weeks before he's due to marry The Only Way is Essex star Billi Mucklow
» Gabriel Jesus' agent sets transfer decision date as he considers Arsenal offer
Arsenal and Tottenham are leading the race to sign Gabriel Jesus with the Brazilian set to decide his future in due course following Manchester City's title celebrations
» Jurgen Klopp drops Sadio Mane Liverpool transfer hint with "not the first time" claim
The future of Mane remains unclear this summer, and Klopp insists it is the "wrong moment" to speak about the Liverpool star before the Champions League Final
» Jurgen Klopp confirms double Liverpool injury boost ahead of Champions League final
Liverpool fans were concerned about several injuries heading into Saturday's Champions League final against Real Madrid but Jurgen Klopp has given some positive updates
» FIFA 22 FUT TOTS Swaps season 2 token tracker, confirmed rewards and redeem date
Latest FIFA 22 news from Mirror as the FIFA 22 TOTS Swaps 2 event begins with rewards revealed including Icons and TOTS player picks.
» Antonio Conte handed £150million Tottenham boost during decisive talks in Turin
Antonio Conte will stay at Tottenham next season as the Italian manager gets set for a busy transfer window with Spurs expected to make a number of signings this summer
» Robbie Savage explains why Jurgen Klopp was wrong choice for Manager of the Year
Jurgen Klopp could seal a treble with Champions League glory, but Manchester City pipping Liverpool to the Premier League title took something special from Pep Guardiola
» FIFA 22 Ligue 1 TOTS squad revealed featuring Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar
Latest FIFA 22 news from the Mirror as EA Sports officially reveal the FIFA 22 Ligue 1 TOTS (Team of the Season) promo squad, featuring stars from Paris Saint-Germain, Lyon and Marseille.
» FIFA Esports star Tekkz on feeling old aged 20, his unpredictable style and Liverpool
Donovan 'Tekkz' Hunt, a professional FIFA player who represents Esports organisation Fnatic, is widely considered to be one of the best professional FIFA players in the world.
» Paul Merson warns Chelsea to expect same fate as US "toys" Arsenal and Man Utd
Todd Boehly's US consortium has been cleared for a £4.25billion takeover of Chelsea, but former Arsenal star Merson doubts whether the new owners will spend big
» Liverpool warned Real Madrid have two clear advantages for Champions League final
Liverpool can complete a cup treble at the Stade de France this weekend, but Paul Merson suspects Real Madrid are well rested and have "lethal" options to win the game
» Andy Robertson leaves Trent Alexander-Arnold fuming with short Gary Neville comparison
The two Liverpool full-backs are close friends off the pitch and Robertson says he knows exactly how to get under his team-mate's skin given their healthy rivalry

Football resources

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Other sport news:

» Trent Alexander-Arnold: ‘I always feel I can see things others can’t see’

Liverpool’s right-back on the pain that drives him, parallels with Michael Jordan and the lessons of losing a final to Real Madrid

‘Wow!” Trent Alexander-Arnold exclaims before, slowly, he repeats the question out loud. “When was the last time I was genuinely nervous?” His eyes open wide as if this simple query might be one of the most probing he has heard in a long time. Alexander-Arnold falls silent as he dredges through a memory which is pin-prick sharp when recalling intricate details from Liverpool games or describing his past emotions.

We have talked for 40 minutes, with Alexander-Arnold offering riveting company, and he has spoken incisively about much more complex subjects. He has discussed the mentality of Michael Jordan and the same “ache” he feels in his desire to improve and keep winning. We have considered the lessons of defeat and the way in which Alexander-Arnold believes that, on the pitch, “I can see things others can’t see”.

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» ‘K9 is your guardian angel’: how Karim Benzema transformed himself and Real Madrid

France forward has saved his club in every knockout round and could claim his fifth Champions League title in Paris

A grin spreads across Rodrygo’s face. Standing by the training pitch at Valdebebas, he is discussing his Real Madrid teammate Karim Benzema, the four-times European Cup winner 13 years his senior who “always talks to me before games” and “helps us a lot, on and off the pitch”, someone “I always try to listen to”, when he is asked: So what’s the best advice he has ever given you? The answer is immediate. “To play the ball to him,” Rodrygo replies. There is laughter, but it is sound advice. “Every time I give him the ball, it works out,” he says.

In the 96th minute of the semi-final against Manchester City, Rodrygo played the ball for Benzema, delivering the cross from which Real Madrid got the penalty that could put them in the Champions League final and secure another absurd comeback. The Brazilian had scored two in a minute to take them to extra time and Benzema offered him the penalty to complete his hat-trick. “No, you have to take it, Karim,” Rodrygo replied. “Well, of course: after the season he’s been having …” he said afterwards.

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» A punk singer and fake European Cup: how Klopp got Liverpool back on track

Recovery from 2018 Champions League final defeat began with Liverpool’s manager and an old friend drowning their sorrows

There were tears, there was a fake trophy presentation with Steven Gerrard’s vase and a famous German singer lay in the rain outside Jürgen Klopp’s home after Liverpool last encountered Real Madrid in a Champions League final. It goes without saying that the Liverpool manager wants a different ending in Paris. But as a starting point for the recovery of a team that could win a second Champions League in four seasons on Saturday, there is a strong, sozzled case to be made for those moments in Formby on the morning of 27 May 2018.

Liverpool would prefer to forget the 3-1 defeat in Kyiv the night before – Sergio Ramos, Mohamed Salah, Salt Bae, Lorius Karius and Gareth Bale is a sufficient recap – and the morning after might have gone the same way for Klopp but for a video of him partying with the lead singer of Die Toten Hosen going viral.

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» History pushed Real Madrid into Champions League final, says Ancelotti
  • Beating Liverpool would give Italian record fourth win
  • ‘Evertonians will support us,’ says former Goodison manager

Carlo Ancelotti has said Real Madrid’s rich European history propelled them into the Champions League final and Evertonians will be rooting for him to beat Liverpool in Paris.

Ancelotti will become the most decorated manager in the history of the competition with a fourth triumph on Saturday. He shares the honour with the three-time winners Zinedine Zidane and Bob Paisley, whose Liverpool team defeated Real in the 1981 final in Paris. The Spanish champions have staged several extraordinary comebacks to reach their fifth final in nine seasons, against Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City, and their manager believes it is not in the club’s nature to accept defeat in Europe.

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» Antonio Conte agrees to stay as Spurs manager after crunch meeting
  • Manager held talks in Turin over future with Fabio Paratici
  • Targets include Perisic, Bastoni and Spence and new Kane deal

Antonio Conte has agreed to stay as Tottenham’s manager after a meeting on Friday in Turin with Fabio Paratici, the managing director of football.

Conte has a contract to the end of next season, with an option to extend, but wanted to ensure his and the club’s ambitions were aligned before he committed to continuing.

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» ‘Be yourselves’: Jürgen Klopp’s message to Liverpool before Real Madrid clash
  • Manager wants team to regard themselves as Madrid’s equals
  • He says final, moved from Russia, is ‘for all people in Ukraine’

Jürgen Klopp has said Liverpool face Real Madrid as equals in Saturday’s Champions League final and believes staging the event in Paris sends “exactly the right message” to Vladimir Putin over Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Liverpool aim to become champions of Europe for a seventh time at Stade de France, where the 13-time winners, Real, and their four-time winning coach, Carlo Ancelotti, await. Real’s European stature and vast Champions League experience could give them an edge, Klopp acknowledged, but having reached the final three times in five seasons he insists his team should consider themselves on the same level.

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» Port Vale’s Darrell Clarke: ‘There were a lot of dark days and will be in future’

Manager returned to the dugout this month after a close family bereavement and knows Saturday’s playoff final will be emotional

There is unlikely to be a dry eye come the eighth minute at Wembley on Saturday. Mansfield Town have invited their supporters to applaud their former No 8 Darrell Clarke, who spent more than a decade at the club but will be in the opposing technical area managing Port Vale in the League Two playoff final, after he experienced a close family bereavement this year. “It is very, very touching and a massive thank you for that, and a massive thank you for the love and respect everybody has given me during what has been a tough time for myself and my family,” Clarke says. “You have to pick yourself up. I want to make the rest of my family proud and continue to do a job I love.”

Vale players more than once warmed up in T-shirts bearing the words ‘Thinking Of You Gaffer’ from February and Clarke has thanked the League Managers Association and Professional Footballers’ Association for their support after taking six weeks’ compassionate leave before a phased comeback, which culminated in a return to the dugout for the final game of the regular season at Exeter, where Vale earned their first win in four games and a playoff place. “I came back because I felt I was ready,” Clarke says. “I was bedding myself in slowly. There were a lot of dark days and there will be in the future but I felt ready to be able to lead my staff and my players.”

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» Premier League 2021-22 review: the big quiz of the season

Who was sacked? Who made the difference? Who had to go?

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» Physicality, chaos and Carvajal: where Liverpool v Madrid may be decided | Jonathan Wilson

We look at five areas where the Champions League final will likely be won and lost, with Van Dijk’s role among the factors

It has become one of those saws wheeled out on social media every time Liverpool concede a goal, or every time they come under pressure: Trent Alexander-Arnold can’t defend; he can be got at. And, worryingly for Liverpool before Saturday, Exhibit A in the case against him is the away leg of last season’s quarter-final against Real Madrid when Vinícius Júnior repeatedly got in behind him, leading to the opening two goals.

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» Premier League 2021-22 season review: our predictions versus reality

Before the season began we predicted where all 20 clubs would finish. We were right about two of them – which beats last year

What we said before the season: “The signing of Jack Grealish has made Manchester City look even more formidable and Harry Kane could yet jump on the juggernaut. Pep Guardiola’s vision for the season is for domestic domination to roll on and for City to claim a first European Cup.”

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» Sign up for our new women’s football newsletter – Moving the Goalposts

No topic will be too small or too big for us to cover as we deliver a weekly roundup of the wonderful world of women’s football

Join us as we delve deeper into the wonderful world of women’s football through our new weekly newsletter. It will be informative, entertaining and global. It will be critical – when needed – and passionate. Written mainly by Júlia Belas Trindade and Sophie Downey, the first was published on Wednesday 30 March, 2022. There will also be guest appearances from stars such as Anita Asante, Ada Hegerberg and many more.

Try our other sports emails: as well as the occasionally funny football email The Fiver from Monday to Friday, there are weekly catch-ups for cricket in The Spin and rugby union in The Breakdown, and our seven-day roundup of the best of our sports journalism in The Recap.

Living in Australia? Try the Guardian Australia’s daily sports newsletter

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» Steve McManaman: ‘I adore both but my affiliation with Liverpool is greater’

Former Real Madrid winger reflects on split loyalties for the Champions League finalists and recalls his emotional win in Paris

The man from Marca wastes no time in cutting to the chase. “Which one do you want to win?” he inquires and, albeit briefly, Steve McManaman looks to concoct a delicate, diplomatic, fudge.

“The best team,” replies the former Liverpool, Real Madrid and England winger. “It’s very difficult for me, I’ve a huge amount of friends in both camps, I adore both teams and I want to see everybody happy …”

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» Eduardo Camavinga: the supersub ready to shape Real Madrid’s future | Jonathan Liew

With Toni Kroos and Luka Modric blocking his path, the 19-year-old has had to bide his time in Spain but there is no player of whom Liverpool will be more wary

Eduardo Camavinga is not accustomed to waiting. This is a man for whom everything has happened in a tremendous hurry. The youngest player in Rennes’ history, at 16 years and four months. The youngest to be named player of the month in Ligue 1. The youngest male France international for more than 100 years. For Camavinga, the trajectory of his career has been steep, swift and spectacular. Until, that is, he joined Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid and was forced to bide his time.

Camavinga signed for Madrid on the final day of last summer’s transfer window, an all-action midfielder coveted across the continent. The fee, £26.6m with add-ons, looked a bargain for a teenage prodigy of rare versatility and poise. With Toni Kroos and Luka Modric well beyond 30 and Casemiro having just crossed that threshold, Camavinga was rapturously welcomed in the capital and immediately tipped to take the Bernabéu by storm.

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» Sadio Mané drops biggest hint yet he will stay at Liverpool next season
  • Striker, linked to Bayern Munich, is out of contract in 2023
  • Senegalese eyes Ballon d’Or after starring for club and country

Sadio Mané has pledged to give “the best answer you want to hear” about his Liverpool future after Saturday’s Champions League final, and hopes a victory against Real Madrid would enhance his prospects of becoming only the second African international winner of the Ballon d’Or.

The Liverpool forward is out of contract in 2023, along with Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, and unlike the Egypt international has refused to divulge where he will play next season.

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» Uefa asked to make more space for wheelchairs at Champions League final
  • Only 76 positions despite 550 bays at Stade de France
  • Uefa says area does not meet its standards

Uefa has been criticised by disabled supporters’ groups over the number of wheelchair-accessible spaces at Saturday’s Champions League final. Seventy-six positions accommodating wheelchairs will be available to fans of Liverpool and Real Madrid at Stade de France, despite the stadium reporting 550 wheelchair-accessible spaces.

Uefa says much of the wheelchair seating there does not meet its standards, but the disabled access campaigner Level Playing Field has written to the governing body asking for greater explanation and for guarantees that the spaces have not been turned over to TV cameras or corporate sponsors.

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» La Liga accused of ‘disrespectful smears’ after Mbappé rejects Real Madrid
  • French football league hits back after Mbappé stays at PSG
  • La Liga’s position ‘lacks any coherence or self-awareness’

The French football league has accused Spain’s La Liga of “disrespectful smears” and “manifestly false” statements, as the war of words over Kylian Mbappé’s decision to reject a move to Real Madrid in favour of a world-record contract renewal at Paris Saint-Germain continues to escalate.

The chairman of the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP), Vincent Labrune, has written to his Spanish counterpart, Javier Tebas, to express in “the strongest possible terms” his disapproval of criticism made of the deal by La Liga’s president.

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» Transfer roundup: Aston Villa agree deal to sign Sevilla’s Diego Carlos for £26m
  • Brazilian defender Carlos had talks with Newcastle in January
  • Leeds sign midfielder Brenden Aaronson from Red Bull Salzburg

Aston Villa have reached an agreement to sign defender Diego Carlos from Sevilla. The 29-year-old Brazilian centre-back is now set to travel to England for a medical and iron out personal terms on a £26m transfer.

Carlos, who played 136 matches for Sevilla, helping them win the 2020 Europa League, had been in talks with Newcastle during the January window, but a deal could not be reached.

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» Liverpool v Real Madrid: a spectacular final to light up a dark time in European history | Philipp Lahm

The contrast between these two footballing powerhouses should make for a thrilling Champions League decider

When Real Madrid lost the first leg of their Champions League last-16 game in Paris on 15 February, the world was a different place. By the time the second leg was played, Russia had invaded Ukraine. Football had become unimportant. But those who saw how Real miraculously turned the game around will never forget it.

This year, the Champions League final is taking place at a time when war is raging in Europe. It has been moved from St Petersburg to Paris because Russia, the aggressor, has been excluded. The war of the autocrat Putin is changing the whole world.

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» ‘It goes beyond sport’: Huddersfield ready for weekend unlike any other

With the Giants in rugby league’s Challenge Cup final and Town in the Championship playoff final, Huddersfield are off south

Patrick Stewart was born in the neighbourhood, and the Sex Pistols played their final British gig here in 1977 but this weekend the West Yorkshire town of Huddersfield will be at the centre of the sporting world like never before. Huddersfield has its place in British sporting folklore already secure: it is where rugby league was founded in 1895 and Huddersfield Town were once the driving force of English football, the first club to win the league three times in a row, from 1924-26.

But the town nestled on the edge of the Pennines and in the shadow of Leeds and Manchester – geographically and metaphorically – has never known a time like this. On Saturday, Huddersfield Giants will aim to win rugby league’s Challenge Cup for the first time since 1953 when they face Wigan in the final at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

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» Luis Díaz must get nod from Klopp even though Real Madrid may prefer to face him | Karen Carney

Colombian’s form, pace and freshness mean he deserves to start Liverpool’s Champions League final with Salah and Mané

Liverpool v Real Madrid will be decided by the finest margins, so it is good news that Jürgen Klopp has one of the finest forward lines in Europe available to him. Whichever combination he picks would be top-class but I think he will select a front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané and Luis Díaz.

Salah has unfinished business after being forced off early on with a shoulder injury the last time these teams met in a Champions League final in 2018. That will be a powerful influence on a player who, after a long season, needs to find a last bit of energy in the hope of securing another trophy.

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» ‘It’s not easy to score against me’: Courtois the key to Madrid’s wild ride | Sid Lowe

Keeper has saved Real Madrid at crucial times in Champions League campaign but believes role is harder than it was

At the end of Tuesday’s session as Real Madrid began preparations for the Champions League final, a group of players gathered at one end of Valdebebas training ground and took turns rattling off shots, cheering the best and laughing at the worst. Standing in their way, also rotating, were three goalkeepers but Thibaut Courtois was not among them and maybe it was better that way. This is the man Carlo Ancelotti told to ease off in training for the good of the team, joking: “I say to him: ‘You have to give our forwards more confidence because you always save every shot they take.’”

After Real Madrid’s first Champions League match this season, Courtois said: “It’s good for them to see that it’s not easy to score against me.” He at least was talking about the opponents and as usual he was right. It would also become a recurring theme. Internazionale had taken 14 shots in the first half and not scored. By full time the Belgian had made eight saves. Now he is up to 50.

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» Ibrahima Konaté: ‘The final in Paris, my home. I couldn’t have dreamed it’

Liverpool defender returns for Saturday’s Champions League final to the city where he once played with a ball made of paper

Ibrahima Konaté left home in Paris at the age of 14 and vowed not to return without making it as a professional footballer. Eight years on, a Champions League final at Stade de France represents quite the homecoming.

The ebullient Liverpool defender does not shy away from the magnitude of Saturday’s farewell to a remarkable debut season with Jürgen Klopp’s team. “I think it is definitely going to be the greatest moment of my life,” the 23-year-old says. “I don’t have any children yet so I can’t be sure but I think it will be the greatest moment. The Champions League final in Paris, my home. If I tried I couldn’t have dreamed of anything better. What a story: going to Paris, my home town, and coming back to Liverpool with that trophy for an incredible celebration.”

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» Seven ages of Klopp: Liverpool’s journey from his appointment to Paris

A season-by-season look at the team’s evolution as they prepare for Saturday’s Champions League final

Jürgen Klopp had worked with Liverpool’s squad for only three days before his first game. As such, he could have been forgiven for sticking with the tactical setup and style used by his predecessor, Brendan Rodgers. Instead he went full-on gegenpressing from the get-go.

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» Premier League 2021-22 season review: our writers’ best and worst

The best players, most gripping games and finest signings – plus the biggest flops and greatest gripes

Nick Ames Because he deserves the recognition: Son Heung-min. This was not Harry Kane’s finest season, despite a big uptick in its second half, but Son’s brilliance ensured that ultimately mattered little. Mohamed Salah had looked nailed on for this until the last couple of months and still needs mentioning, as does Kevin De Bruyne; his performance at Wolves, which I was fortunate to report on, was mindblowing and an already supreme Manchester City are transformed when he is at his best.

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» Premier League 2021-22 review: players of the season

We select a few contenders for the Premier League’s player of the season – and invite you to have your say

In curling his first goal of the season beyond the outstretched arm of the Norwich goalkeeper Tim Krul, Salah became the first player to score in the opening game of five consecutive Premier League campaigns. At the time he could have had no idea that, on the final day of the campaign, Liverpool would have already won two domestic cups, booked their place in the Champions League final and still be in contention for the title.

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» Premier League 2021-22 review: flops of the season

We select a few contenders for the Premier League’s flop of the season – and invite you to have your say

It is difficult writing lists that point out individual failings, so it is quite pleasing how bad Manchester United have been across the board. On the player front Fred, Cristiano Ronaldo and David de Gea escape with their reputations relatively intact. The summer recruits Jadon Sancho and Raphaël Varane have struggled to fit in, which is quite difficult in such a poor team. Ole Gunnar Solskjær could not get much of a tune out of the squad and Ralf Rangnick has arguably been worse. England’s Harry Maguire and Marcus Rashford have endured a miserable time. Maguire has looked off the pace and was dropped for the April defeat by Arsenal. Rashford has come off the bench more times than he has started in the league, resulting in four goals in 25 appearances. Even the catering at Old Trafford is not up to scratch. The BT Sport presenter Jake Humphrey tweeted a photo of his offering – scrambled egg and mash potato – to rightful derision. Good luck, Mr Ten Hag.

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» Premier League 2021-22 review: the season’s best photos

Our photo editor selects his favourite frames – including epic celebrations, crunching tackles and a bizarre banner featuring the ‘Moyesiah’

This season we’ve received more than 800,000 Premier League pictures from staff, agency and freelance photographers. Here are some of the most emotive, arresting and creative images which capture the narrative of another memorable top-flight campaign.


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» Premier League 2021-22 review: goals of the season

We select a few contenders for the Premier League’s goal of the season – and invite you to have your say

We expect the ridiculous from Salah, but when he picked up possession outside the box, wide on the right, back to goal, and with João Cancelo feeling his collar, there looked nothing on. So Salah spun his man then, while absorbing a shove from Phil Foden, rolled studs over the ball to take him outside the next. Bernardo Silva was later found in lost property. Even then only a cross looked on, so Salah swayed inside, enticing Aymeric Laporte to follow, before dipping outside to snap an expert’s finish into his favourite far-post side-netting. It was a goal that only he could score, the skill, speed and composure an act of audacious impossibility, like painting a fresco on a rollercoaster.

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» Premier League 2021-22 review: gripes of the season

Bending the Covid rules, drug use in the stands and social media disgraces all stuck in the craw this season

An argument for cryptocurrencies, the blockchain and non-fungible tokens is that they may one day democratise finance, and place wealth in the hands of those who previously had little access to resources. An alternative argument is that it’s all a Ponzi scheme where all but a select few will lose their shirt. Recent crashes in the crypto market suggest the latter is the more likely. Still, there’s money to be made in the interim, and football’s unrelenting lust for get-rich-quick schemes makes it an ideal breeding ground for crypto-wibble. It’s become ubiquitous. VAR in Serie A is sponsored by a crypto exchange, Manchester City signed up and then hurriedly binned a crypto partner that had no digital footprint, Paul Pogba flogged “dragon eggs” and then John Terry got in a bit of lumber for shilling NFTs that included official logos he didn’t have permission to use.

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» Premier League 2021-22 review: pundits of the season

From Roy Keane’s rants to Clinton Morrison’s wardrobe the pundits have been busy creating and dividing opinion again

Welcome to the Guardian’s review of the 2021-22 Premier League season. We have nominated some contenders for this category to get the discussion going

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» Premier League 2021-22 review: matches of the season

We select a few contenders for the Premier League’s match of the season – and invite you to have your say

“It was a wild ride,” said Jürgen Klopp after a pulsating draw. He wasn’t wrong. Liverpool had their feathers ruffled and more, going behind in the 27th minute as Ethan Pinnock finished a smart move involving Ivan Toney. The futuristic little Community Stadium almost rattled out of its foundations and didn’t stop shaking. A few moments later Diogo Jota headed home to make it 1-1. When Mohamed Salah gave Liverpool the lead with his 100th goal for the club the expectation was that Klopp’s side would gain control. Brentford had other ideas, throwing caution to the wind and bombarding Liverpool’s penalty area until, finally, Vitaly Janelt equalised. It felt like a cup tie. A deflected Curtis Jones strike sent the away fans into raptures in the 67th minute and, when Salah went clean through 10 minutes later, a 4-2 victory looked inevitable only for the Egyptian to loft over wastefully. On came Yoane Wissa to seal a famous draw with a feather-toed finish over Alisson.

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» Premier League 2021-22 review: young players of the season

We select a few contenders for the Premier League’s young player of the season – and invite you to have your say

These days, it’s a bad day to be a left-back when Arsenal come to town. Whether you view the Gunners’ season as a failure or one of improvement, there is no doubt that this has been the one where Saka, despite his tender age, has become the club’s talisman. There are few players in the league, perhaps the world, with the Ealing-born winger’s poise and balance, and the beauty of his dribbling off the right flank is that he is just as happy to drive to the byline on his right foot as he is keen to cut inside on his left. Saka is intelligent on the pitch, eloquent off it, and Arsenal are lucky to have someone so fiercely loyal to the club. What is frightening is how much better he could become, especially if Arsenal invest in a proper striker and a right-back capable of overlapping and creating more space for Saka.

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» Premier League 2021-22 review: managers of the season

As the latest campaign ends, we nominate some manager of the season contenders – and invite you to have your say

Jürgen Klopp is happy to call his rival the world’s best coach, and few would deny that Guardiola has revolutionised the game in Spain, Germany and now England. With Erling Haaland signed up for next season, this may be recalled as the season Guardiola captured the Premier League title without a recognised striker, often using the only one within his squad, Gabriel Jesus, as a shuttler down the flanks.

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» Premier League 2021-22 review: signings of the season

We select a few contenders for the Premier League’s signing of the season – and offer you the chance to have your say

Given what happened to him last summer, Christian Eriksen signing for anyone this season would have merited a place in this season’s list, but in Brentford the recuperating Eriksen found a perfect fit. Thomas Frank’s progressive side always looked too good to go down in their first top-flight campaign since 1947 but some lean runs of form caused sporadic alarm. Eriksen’s arrival on a short-term deal in January, a little more than six months after his cardiac arrest during Euro 2020, did much to assuage those fears, providing that extra creative touch in midfield to keep opponents on their toes. Brentford won seven of the 10 games the Danish international started and his performance in the stunning win at Chelsea in March in particular will live long in the memories of Bees fans. Wherever he goes from here – expect him to feature frequently in transfer-gossip bulletins over the summer, with his former club Tottenham among possible suitors – Eriksen will always have a place in Brentford folklore.

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» Liverpool 'motivated to win' after Champions League loss to Real Madrid in 2018 – video

Liverpool talisman Mohamed Salah says his personal motivation is 'through the roof' for the Champions League final against Real Madrid on Saturday. The Reds are heading to the Stade de France with the memory of the 2018 final against Real fresh in their minds, with Salah in particular out to make amends for what he calls the 'worst moment of his career'.

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» 'The best reward': Manchester City celebrate with fans during title parade – video

Manchester City celebrated their Premier League triumph in a victory parade through the streets of the city centre. City dramatically won the Premier League on the last day of the season, as they fought back from two goals down to defeat Aston Villa 3-2 at the Etihad Stadium. Pep Guardiola called it 'the best reward ever' to see the smiling faces of their fans, who turned out in their masses to partake in the celebrations. The team frequently held the trophy up high for fans to see as they danced and partied on top of their bus.

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» 'Achievement of our careers': Manchester City celebrate Premier League title – video

Manchester City retained the Premier League title following a dramatic final day of the season that saw them come from two goals down to beat Aston Villa 3-2 at the Etihad Stadium. Pep Guardiola's side scored three times in six minutes to secure a fourth league title in five years. Guardiola praised his team as 'legends' and 'eternals' in the club's history, as he compared them to Sir Alex Ferguson's United. Fans were overjoyed by City's victory after the 'craziness' of the game 'put them through the wringer' in a 'breathtaking' season finale

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» Manchester City's Premier League title in Pep Guardiola's own words – video

Manchester City have finished top of the Premier League for the second consecutive year after a dramatic final day that saw them beat Aston Villa 3-2. Their successful season saw them earn 29 victories in 38 matches. City manager, Pep Guardiola, was determined throughout the entire campaign that they would fight to retain the title and set out to earn 'an incredible amount of points', something they achieved again. This is Guardiola's fourth Premier League title with City

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» 'An era can come to an end': Erik ten Hag looks to do battle with Guardiola and Klopp – video

Erik ten Hag believes Manchester United can end the domestic domination of Manchester City and Liverpool under his management. The new United manager warned Pep Guardiola and Jürgen Klopp that 'an era can come to an end' before declaring his intention to go into battle with them next season. United have resembled a dysfunctional club this season and Ten Hag will front a huge rebuilding job, after being presented as the fifth manager at Old Trafford in nine years. Ten Hag shrugged off the notion that he is putting his reputation in jeopardy by taking on the challenge, saying 'this club has a great history and now let’s make a future'.

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» Klopp 'proud' of Liverpool after Premier League title bid falls short – video

Jürgen Klopp said he is proud of his squad for the season they played, but disappointed they couldn't usurp Manchester City to the Premier League title on the final day. Liverpool needed a win and for City to lose to secure the trophy, however with both clubs winning, it slipped through their hands. City defeated Aston Villa 3-2 at Etihad Stadium and Klopp said he thought the visitors had equalised late in the match, only to realise it was false hope.

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» Barcelona bring out fans to bear witness to A-League Men talent | Khaled Al Khawaldeh

The potential of football in Australia was in evidence as one of the game’s superpowers helped deliver a festive night in Sydney

When Barcelona took the stage to face the A-League All Stars on Wednesday night they were met with a spectacle worthy of a grand final. Flames and fireworks ignited as Barça chants echoed around Accor Stadium. For a moment, as the players lined up, the Catalans in their signature blue and maroon and the home side in their Madrid-esque white and gold, it was easy to forget that this was a friendly.

The reality was a little less romantic. Still fresh from a 2-0 end-of-season defeat to Villarreal, the travelling side had been on Australian soil for barely 36 hours before kick-off. Their opposition had been frantically assembled from the pool of players not involved in this weekend’s A-League Men grand final. The group, coached by Dwight Yorke, managed to train as a team just twice.

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» US referee numbers are plunging and aggression is to blame

We all want better officiating. But it’s tough for referees to develop when abuse from players and spectators hound them out of the game

“My three-year-old could’ve made that call!” exclaimed commentator Kaylyn Kyle after an apparent handball wasn’t called at the end of an NWSL Challenge Cup game between OL Reign and the Washington Spirit.

Unfortunately, most three-year-olds who grow up to be soccer fans will be armchair referees rather than being on the field where they’re actually needed.

The Professional Referee Organization (PRO) assigns NWSL games to Tier B and Tier C referees in their development ladder, multiple tiers below MLS.

The league lacks VAR, which might have shed some light on the incident Kyle decried as well as a horror tackle, committed by Washington’s Sam Staab, of which the referee didn’t have a clear view – screened, as is so often the case even with top-notch referees, by the defender trailing back to catch the attacker.

MLS has some transparency via a weekly YouTube review, while PRO offers a weekly behind-the-scenes look at VAR in MLS.

Refs assigned to the league also have a curious aversion to red cards – in 2018, Carli Lloyd and Marta were the only players to be sent off.

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» Fifa criticised after clearing women’s football coach of sexual harassment
  • Fifpro concerned by case of Argentina’s Diego Alberto Guacci
  • Fifa’s adjudicatory chamber finds insufficient evidence

The international players’ union, Fifpro, has said the decision of the adjudicatory chamber of Fifa’s ethics committee not to sanction an Argentinian women’s football coach accused of sexual harassment and abusive behaviour raises “extremely serious questions about how professional football keeps players safe”.

Five female players gave evidence to Fifa accusing Diego Alberto Guacci of verbal abuse and sexual harassment carried out over a number of years. Guacci is technical director of the Argentinian women’s under-17s and under-15 girls’ national teams, a Fifa instructor for women’s football and a Fifa technical expert and mentor.

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» David Squires on … what football can learn from an election

Our cartoonist on the denouement to the A-League Men season – and the another major contest attracting attention this week

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» Milan’s triumph of the collective finally casts off ‘Istanbul Syndrome’ | Nicky Bandini

There was no danger of a comeback at Sassuolo, no chance of history repeating. This is a different team in a different time

Nobody could mistrust a 3-0 lead more than the Milan supporters who saw their team throw that scoreline away in the 2005 Champions League final. The scars of defeat to Liverpool never fully healed, not even after their team took revenge two years later. Fans self-diagnosed with “Istanbul Syndrome” to explain the foreboding they felt whenever their team found itself in a winning position thereafter.

Fresh outbreaks were reported in the days leading up to Milan’s season-ending game away to Sassuolo. The Rossoneri needed just a point against mid-table opponents to seal their first Serie A title for 11 years. It all looked too easy, and therefore too much like a disaster waiting to happen.

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» ‘Walking dead’ of Cádiz and Mallorca rise up to send Granada into abyss | Sid Lowe

A macabre final day in La Liga ended with a Hitchcock-style twist and horror for the most unlikely relegation candidates

“Hitchcock could have written this,” Sergio González said when it was all over. Cádiz’s coach was shattered, soaking wet and could hardly walk, T-shirt muddy and back gone, but he’d do it all over again. Even the bit where, liberated at last, he threw himself through the rain and on to the grass at the feet of his players and their fans. Especially that bit: this was a team picture they had desperately wanted to take, the photo of a first division side. It had hurt, the man who hid his fears from those he led struggling to get up again and limping away, the season taking everything from all of them, but they’ll be back. Having dragged themselves from relegation 1,000km from home, salvation was delivered on the final day in Vitoria.

Vitoria, Pamplona and Granada. “We were playing three games in one,” Sergio said. The smallest thing is everything sometimes, football as cruel as it is brilliant. A penalty given and taken away on 86 minutes, a post on 92, a spot-kick missed by the man who least deserved to miss it, everything still on edge to the very last whistle: at the end of week 38, in which three clubs’ destinies were intertwined, the team who had it hardest, the only side whose fate wasn’t in their own hands, had survived. So had the team whose manager admitted they were “liquidated” a fortnight ago, the “walking dead”, handed an unlikely lifeline in the n92nd minute of the penultimate week. As for the team best placed to stay up – an 85% chance of survival, the stats said, and that sold them short – they had gone down. In short, Cádiz and Mallorca will be in primera next year; Granada, European quarter-finalists last season, will not.

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» Marseille were the big winners in Ligue 1’s topsy-turvy final day

Marseille finished second in the table behind PSG, while St-Étienne picked up the point they needed to stay alive

By Eric Devin for Get French Football News

Critics of Ligue 1 will deride this season as another procession to the title for Paris Saint-Germain, whose rivals were unable to sustain, or even mount, a challenge for the top spot. However, the final weekend of the season was a near-perfect microcosm of what has been a thrilling campaign up and down the table. A breathless evening of action on Saturday produced 37 goals scored across France, including 10 in the final quarter of an hour as both European spots and safety changed hands several times.

The focus of the evening was on Marseille, where the hosts – who had looked sluggish in losing to Rennes last weekend – were in danger of falling out of Champions League contention thanks to the form of Monaco. Marseille would need a win and help from Lens to pip the Principality side to second place and automatic qualification, while needing at least a point to stay above Rennes owing to the Bretons’ superior goal difference.

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» Lyon’s one-club mentality raises the bar in the women’s European game

Five things we learned from this season’s Champions League triumph by the French club over Barcelona

The gold glitter that spun around the Lyon players as they celebrated an eighth Champions League title in 10 final appearances brought an enthralling European season to a close. So, what did we learn along the way?

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» Milan seal first Serie A title in 11 years but Pioli claims his medal was stolen
  • Milan earn 3-0 win and pip rivals Inter to the scudetto
  • Salernitana complete great escape despite 4-0 defeat

Milan clinched their first Italian Serie A title in 11 years after earning a 3-0 final-day victory at Sassuolo, with a double from Olivier Giroud and one from Franck Kessié sealing the Scudetto in style.

Stefano Pioli’s side came into the final round of fixtures knowing a point would be enough for them to finish top ahead of rivals Internazionale, but after Giroud squeezed the ball home in the 17th minute, a 19th Serie A title never looked in doubt.

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» Lawrenson’s retirement marks the end of football punditry’s era of innocence | Jonathan Liew

He did not rant, laugh or ‘destroy’ anybody: Mark Lawrenson reached back to when sport on TV was still light entertainment

This is no tribute. In many ways to break out the violins for Mark Lawrenson would really be to miss the true essence of the man. You may even have missed his retirement last week amid the opera of season-ending farewells. Divock Origi gets a guard of honour at Anfield. Mike Dean gets a 1,500-word valedictory feature in the Athletic. Lawrenson, by contrast, simply slipped away with a droop of the shoulders and very possibly a wry quip about not letting the door hit him on the way out.

Which does feel a little strange, even when you take into account the fact that Lawrenson has now been in gentle recession from our screens for some time now. There was still the odd radio gig, semi-regular appearances on Football Focus, the weekly prediction column for the BBC Sport website. But it has also been a curiously inconspicuous retreat, given that – if you give it a moment’s thought – most football fans in this country will probably have spent hundreds if not thousands of hours watching Lawrenson’s face over the years.

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» Pep Guardiola and Manchester City’s sky blue wash will define this era | Barney Ronay

The manager has become central to Manchester City’s approach of setting about elite sport like a political project

It seemed fitting that Manchester City should come storming back from the brink the way they did, Ilkay Gündogan soaring like a small, technically adept avenging phoenix to bullet his header very carefully into the top corner of the Aston Villa net. This is how they do this stuff around here. Not with more heat, more blood, more chaos; but with cleaner lines, greater clarity, a red mist of extreme precision.

Within six minutes of that opening act Pep Guardiola’s champions had completed the most beautifully orderly emergency comeback in English footballing history. And there is something genuinely fearless about being able to play football this way, to become more not less yourself when the pulse is pounding, time running short, the world closing in at your back.

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» My teacher said I’d more likely be dead by 25 than a footballer. What if I had listened? | Troy Deeney

Imagine how children would flourish if they learned about Black achievements instead of oppression

  • Troy Deeney is captain of Birmingham FC and an anti-racism campaigner

There weren’t many expectations of me when I was at school. Nobody I knew went to university so that wasn’t something I even thought about. Where I grew up, the choices seemed to be: deal drugs, work for the nearby car plant or somehow use sport as a way out – although I was also told by one teacher I was more likely to be dead by 25 than be a professional footballer. When the expectations are that low, and you’re told for so many years “you can’t”, you start to believe it. And then when I was 15 I was excluded from school, leaving without any GCSEs, just another of the disproportionately high number of mixed race and Black Caribbean boys to be removed from school.

I did become a professional footballer, joining a non-league side when I was working as a bricklayer and eventually joining Watford in 2010, and I’ve seen the power of using my platform and making a stand when my colleagues and I took the knee in the wake of the murder of George Floyd to support Black Lives Matter. Football was my way out, but I also wonder what I could have done if I’d been encouraged to engage at school and seen myself reflected in what I was learning – and how life might have been different for all the other kids who didn’t have football.

Troy Deeney is captain of Birmingham FC and an anti-racism campaigner. Troy Deeney: Where’s My History? is at 10pm on 23 May on Channel 4

Do you have an opinion on the issues raised in this article? If you would like to submit a letter of up to 300 words to be considered for publication, email it to us at

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» The Fiver | Liverpool, Real Madrid and likable doyens of the modern game

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After a season that has become more extraordinary with every passing week, it all comes down to this. Two teams fuelled by a sense of destiny, competing for a huge prize at a gleaming modern football cathedral; it’s just a shame somebody has to lose. And yet, when The Fiver submitted its 3,000-word opus on the League Two playoff final to The Man, it was sent back to us in a thousand pieces, the confetti arranged on what passes for a desk to spell two words: BIG CUP.

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» Crystal Dunn: ‘Black athletes can’t be put in a box and just be athletic’

In this week’s newsletter we speak to USWNT midfielder Crystal Dunn about burnout, pregnancy and the equal pay deal

Welcome to Moving the Goalposts, the Guardian’s new (and free) women’s football newsletter. Here’s an extract from this week’s edition. To receive the full version once a week, just pop your email in below:

Last week was a rather eventful one for Crystal Dunn. The 29-year-old Portland Thorns midfielder welcomed a baby son, Marcel Jean Soubrier, into life with husband Pierre Soubrier and, just a couple of days before, the US women’s national team announced that they had reached an agreement for equal pay with the men’s team. “I joked with everyone saying I’m happy we got this done before I became a mom,” she says.

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» David Squires on … the dramatic final day of the Premier League season

Our resident cartoonist on another last-gasp title for Manchester City, Burnley’s relegation and Mike Dean’s farewell

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» Which football clubs have won the league title in their centenary year? | The Knowledge

Plus: yo-yo clubs avoiding each other, statues of bookable offences and which match produced the most pundits?

“How many clubs worldwide have won the league title in their centenary year and which was the first?” asks Masai Graham.

Quite a few clubs have celebrated the big 100 with a league title, Masai. Alan Gomes gets the ball rolling with an example in Portugal. “Porto’s official date of foundation is September 1893. And Porto won the Portuguese title for the 1992-93 season. There is, however, some controversy about when Porto were founded. The club recognises 1893 as its official foundation year, however, the club’s founder, António Nicolau de Almeida, was persuaded in the late-1890s by his English wife to abandon football, which she apparently deemed “too violent”. The club lay dormant until 1906, when it was “refounded”. But if you want to use 1906 as the starting point instead of 1893, well, Porto won the 2005-06 Portuguese league as well.”

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» Women’s Super League: talking points from the weekend’s action

Chelsea set up dramatic final week, Arsenal fans make voice heard on Miedema and Shaw finds her shooting boots

Chelsea had a real scrap on their hands at St Andrew’s as they edged past a resilient Birmingham. The hosts, fighting relegation, put in an admirable performance to disrupt the champions’ rhythm but a Pernille Harder penalty in the 71st minute gave Chelsea the three points as conditions worsened amid heavy rain. “Thank goodness, to be honest,” said a relieved Emma Hayes as her team retained the initiative in the title race. “I don’t think we should let it get to that point. However, let’s credit Birmingham. They were fighting for their lives; they fought for every ball. [They were] a real credit to their club and they made it extremely difficult.” With the championship and relegation to be decided, a dramatic final week of the FAWSL awaits. Will there be more twists and turns? SD

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» The forgotten story of … Jimmy Hasty, Irish football's one-armed wonder

Hasty was one of football’s most remarkable and overlooked players – who then fell victim to a malignant arc of history

In October 1960 Jim Malone, the chairman of Dundalk football club, told the board he had discovered an exciting talent, a centre-forward who was scoring goal after goal for Newry Town, just across the border in Northern Ireland. He was tall and strong, had preternatural balance and was lethal in the air. Dundalk should sign him immediately, said Malone. The player’s name was Jimmy Hasty.

Another board member piped up. He had heard of Hasty, heard something fanciful – that the fellow had only one arm. Malone conceded this was true. Hasty had only one arm. But Dundalk should sign him, he said.

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» The Joy of Six: Leeds United v Liverpool Premier League meetings

A look at classics from a Tony Yeboah special in 1995 to a symbolic defeat for David O’Leary in 2002

What’s your favourite: Liverpool or Wimbledon? Tony Yeboah won Goal of the Month in August and September 1995 for two screamers, at Elland Road and Selhurst Park, both scorched off the underside of the bar from distance. The Wimbledon goal, a manic, impromptu explosion of brilliance, has greater charisma and was the BBC’s Goal of the Season. But the goal against Liverpool involved a more difficult skill, volleying a ball that was dropping from the heavens.

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» Golden Goal: Ronaldo for Internazionale v Lazio (1998) | Daniel Harris

The 1998 Uefa Cup final witnessed a goal that was probably the greatest moment of Ronaldo’s greatest game

Growing up as a football obsessive, by the time I was 17 I thought I’d seen pretty much everything the game had to offer me. You can probably see how I became a sportswriter.

Around then, I was also spending most weekday evenings hanging about parks, alleyways and pubs to state-alter in one way or another, often under the guise of watching a game. So in the summer of 1996, my parents – who’d spent a decade resisting my pleas to get Teletext – signed up to Sky, sagely rationalising that beaming industrial quantities of sport into our front room would inspire me to take school more seriously.

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» Clare Shine: ‘I want people to look at my mistakes and not make the same ones’

The Glasgow City and Republic of Ireland forward opens up on her drug and alcohol addiction, and how she found a way back

Almost two years have passed since Clare Shine felt that, after trying so hard to keep going, everything had come crashing down forever. She had already achieved what once felt impossible, rehabilitating from drug and alcohol addiction to continue a hugely successful career with Glasgow City, but now she had to do it all again. A relapse, brought on by the loneliness of Covid-19 lockdowns, had culminated in more suicidal thoughts and a high‑profile 10-hour police search that found her in Edinburgh.

Living with 19 other patients inside the Nairn ward, a mental health unit at Glasgow’s Stobhill hospital, she could not let go of the thought that her chance of recovery had passed. “I felt like I was finished,” she says. “I thought I was done: that this is it for me, I can’t progress or move on from it, it’s taken over my whole life. I didn’t see any way out.”

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» Player ratings for Manchester City’s Premier League title winners

Two of Pep Guardiola’s squad are awarded 10 out of 10 for their contributions to the club’s fourth title in five seasons

Does he ever commit an error that costs points? The Brazilian has been beaten only 26 times, two fewer than last term. This is credit, too, to the rest of the rearguard and the attacking players: the 83 goals scored in 2020-21 has been eclipsed with 99. 9

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» Chris Kamara: ‘People say ‘Unbelievable, Jeff!’ every day but I don’t mind. I’m a people person’

As he leaves Soccer Saturday after 24 years and deals with a debilitating speech disorder, the garrulous broadcaster’s reflections on a long career in football reveal his more serious side

‘Today is a good day and, thankfully, I’ve consistently had good days lately,” Chris Kamara says as we near the end of another emotional week for him. Kamara, the former footballer who became a cherished presence on Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday and various television programmes which rely on his good cheer and exuberant character, is struggling to overcome the debilitating impact of apraxia of speech.

This neurological disorder grips the usually garrulous Kamara in a way which means that, sometimes, he suffers “a complete brain fog” and cannot voice his thoughts properly. Words get confused or lost and there are occasions when his speech slows and slurs. Today, however, Kamara speaks fluently for an hour. The difficult moments, and the tricky words, are rare as he reflects movingly on his life and work.

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» Fans’ ugly behaviour is not just about football – it’s about society | Jonathan Wilson

Pitch invasions could be joyous eruptions of glee if not for idiots who reflect a Them and Us world of rising violent crime

Roker Park, the final game of 1989-90. Sunderland were sure of their place in the playoffs; Oldham knew they would miss out, largely because of the strains of an extraordinary season in which they had reached the League Cup final and the FA Cup semi-finals. Oldham won 3-2 and, as the final whistle went, home fans invaded the pitch.

Slowly they made for the corner of the Roker End where the away fans were housed. I was on the terrace a few yards away and remember clearly the sense of sudden anxiety as my dad gripped my arm and started to make for the exit. But then something remarkable happened. The invaders stopped a few yards from the corner flag, raised their hands above their heads and clapped, a salute for Oldham’s extraordinary season that would end with nothing.

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» Next Generation 2021: 60 of the best young talents in world football

From ‘the next Alphonso Davies’ to Dortmund’s Moukoko, we pick 60 of the most talented players born in 2004. Check the progress of class of 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015

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» Next Generation 2021: 20 of the best talents at Premier League clubs

We pick the best youngsters at each club born between 1 September 2004 and 31 August 2005*, an age band known as first-year scholars. Check the progress of class of 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016

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» From Jadon Sancho to Alexander Isak: what happened to Next Generation 2016?

With the Next Generation 2021 picks out this week we look at the final updates for the class of 2016. How did they fare?

There was a time when going abroad wasn’t cool. It was a time when British footballers stayed at home, worried about how they might fare in Europe and beyond.

Gary Lineker helped to break the mould with his switch – and success – at Barcelona in the 1980s but Ian Rush’s struggles at Juventus around the same time seemed to put off many players.

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