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Cowley United

Chestnut Avenue, Yiewsley, Greater London, UB7 8BU
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Football Team News

» Arsenal impressed by Borussia Dortmund youngster as they battle to keep Lucas Torreira
The Gunners have been impressed by Dan-Axel Zagadou, who captained France at the recent Under-20 World Cup
» PSG 'launch last-gasp transfer bid' to prevent Matthijs De Ligt from joining Juventus
Matthijs De Ligt will leave Ajax but is yet to make a final decision about where his future lies
» Everton old boy Tyias Browning on why new life in China is like facing STOKE
Former Everton academy kid Tyias Browning is on the road to playing for China months after joining Guangzhou Evergrande
» Man Utd star 'to hold showdown transfer talks' with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is set to sit down with one of his players to discuss their Old Trafford future
» England's Jill Scott opens up on what THAT Cameroon game was like to play in
Women's World Cup quarter-final is next for England Lionesses after a match unlike any Jill Scott has ever been part of
» Newcastle fans protest Rafa Benitez departure after exit announced WITHOUT telling him
Rafa Benitez's contract expires on Sunday and the club have announced he will depart - despite not warning the Spaniard a statement would be made
» England so hard to assess against Cameroon, but next game MUST be better or else
Former England star Casey Stoney's latest Mirror column on the Cameroon chaos and World Cup quarter-final vs Norway
» Virgil van Dijk makes Liverpool prediction ahead of next season
Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk was rock solid for Liverpool last year - but he already has an eye on next season
» Tottenham monitoring £15million-rated Denmark Under-21 starlet Andreas Skov Olsen
Mauricio Pochettino is keen on the Danish winger who scored 23 times for his club in 2018-19
» Steven Gerrard makes Rangers declaration as he responds to Derby speculation
Rangers boss Gerrard has been linked with a move to the Championship side if Frank Lampard heads to Chelsea
» Man Utd fans hijack Sean Longstaff's farewell message to Rafa Benitez
Man Utd fans took their chance to try and convince Sean Longstaff to follow Rafa Benitez out of Newcastle
» Andy Robertson's advice to Scotland teammate Kieran Tierney over Arsenal transfer
Arsenal have had an offer rejected for Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney but remain hopeful of reaching an agreement
» Rafa Benitez wanted Newcastle United to thrive, but bosses were happy to survive
Love affair between Newcastle fans and Rafa Benitez could no longer mask his frustration at modest goals of the top brass
» Alan Shearer responds to Rafa Benitez exit and defines Newcastle in one word
Rafa Benitez will leave Newcastle United on Sunday when his contract at St James' Park expires
» Cristiano Ronaldo's incredible gesture for Greek hotel workers on luxury holiday
Cristiano Ronaldo enjoyed a getaway with girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez and gave hotel workers a massive surprise
» Rafa Benitez's Newcastle exit is a sad indictment of Mike Ashley's ownership
The Spaniard is set to leave Newcastle United at the end of the month after failing to agree terms on a new contract with owner Mike Ashley
» Sadio Mane admits he would swap Champions League victory for one thing in career
Liverpool star Sadio Mane admits one thing would top winning the Champions League with the Reds
» Where next for Rafa Benitez after he leaves Newcastle United?
Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez is to go later this week when his contract expires — and will interest clubs across the globe
» Why Liverpool want Simon Mignolet to stay despite just four starts in 18 months
The Belgian is likely to remain at Anfield despite missing out on 51 of their 53 competitive games in 2018/19
» Ant and Dec slam Newcastle owner Mike Ashley after Rafa Benitez departure
TV duo and lifelong Newcastle fans Ant and Dec are not impressed with the Newcastle United board after Rafa Benitez let
» Victor Lindelof sends transfer message to Man Utd chiefs ahead of return to pre-season
Manchester United return to pre-season training next week with Daniel James their only summer signing so far
» Newcastle players break silence on Rafa Benitez's exit
Newcastle United confirmed Benitez's departure after they failed to strike a new deal
» Arsenal join Tottenham in '£45m transfer battle' for Real Madrid star Dani Ceballos
Tottenham are the frontrunners to land Real Madrid star Dani Ceballos but they face competition
» Crystal Palace react to idea of Aaron Wan-Bissaka winning Champions League at Man Utd
The right-back is widely expected to complete his move to United in the coming days for a fee of around £50million

Football resources

» The FA
» BBC Sport
» SportsCoach
» Little Kickers
» Kiddikicks

Other sport news:

» USA edge past gritty Spain to set up mouthwatering quarter-final with France

The hype around the US at this World Cup finally appears to be waning, even as the Americans beat a resilient Spain side 2-1 on Monday with the help of two penalties. Both spot kicks were scored by Megan Rapinoe to put the Americans through and negate a mistake in the American back line that gifted Spain their goal. The reigning champions now move on to the quarter-finals, where they will face hosts France on Friday in a clash of arguably the two strongest teams left in the tournament.

“We showed a lot of grit and experience in this game,” Rapinoe said. “As we get into knockout rounds, it’s more stressful, there’s more pressure, the games are more intense. It was important for us to stay in it.”

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» Sweden v Canada: Women's World Cup 2019 – live!

36 mins: Sweden win another corner, which Labbé unconvincingly flaps clear.

35 mins: The game’s official hashtag, #SWECAN, demands to be preceded with #CANWEKICKITYE

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» Women’s football cannot – and should not – be judged on one wild game
The Cameroon players deserve criticism but when male players behave despicably we seem to judge individuals rather than the whole sport

Some of the behaviour we saw from Cameroon’s players and their coach in their game against England was shocking, but it is important to make it clear that it was not an indictment of the women’s game. It is an indictment of Cameroon specifically, and it was a game I can only hope their players watch, cringe, are honest about and learn from in the future, to understand the weight of responsibility that comes from representing your nation with pride and professionalism.

Related: England’s refusal to be bullied by Cameroon cannot hide concerns

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» Benítez bows out after collision of control freaks at Newcastle
Manager’s Magpies love affair ends after years of dysfunctional dealings with the club’s owner Mike Ashley

Last season was drawing to a close when Rafael Benítez stood in a quiet corridor at St James’ Park briefing a small group of newspaper journalists on his seemingly interminable negotiations over a new contract with Mike Ashley.

Related: Rafael Benítez to leave Newcastle when contract expires on Sunday

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» Africa Cup of Nations: Cameroon’s Joel Tagueu out after ‘heart defect’ detected

• Possible life-threatening defect identified by team doctor
• Jonathan Kodjia gives Ivory Coast 1-0 win over South Africa

Striker Joel Tagueu has been withdrawn from Cameroon’s squad at the Africa Cup of Nations after a medical examination revealed a possible life-threatening heart defect, the country’s soccer federation said in a statement on Monday.

Related: Africa Cup of Nations: Riyad Mahrez scores as Algeria start with win over Kenya

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» England fans escorted from stadium amid Cameroon World Cup tensions
• ‘It’s not something we’ve ever experienced before’
• Cameroon supporters infuriated by VAR decisions

England fans have told how they were escorted from the ground following the 3-0 defeat of Cameroon after tensions flared in the crowd.

One group of supporters, who wish to remain anonymous, told the Guardian that a set of Cameroon fans had been allowed to move from their allocated seats and gather near them. Initially the atmosphere was good.

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» Super-agent Mino Raiola is a player’s dream and a manager’s nightmare | Richard Williams
The middleman has brokered some of football’s biggest transfers but his tactics have made him one of the game’s most controversial figures

One morning in late 1992, at Ajax’s old training ground, Bryan Roy arrived to clear out his locker and say his goodbyes. After four years with his hometown club, he was on his way from Amsterdam to join Foggia in the first of Mino Raiola’s many significant transnational deals between football clubs. The previous evening, when Ajax had played Feyenoord, a fan held up a hand-lettered placard. “Bryan bedankt,” it said. Thanks, Bryan.

Not always have football fans expressed such gratitude on the departure of one of Raiola’s clients. This summer, depending on how things work out, Manchester United’s supporters are unlikely to send Paul Pogba on his way with warm wishes for a successful future in Madrid or Turin. The prospect of that £100m-plus deal became more likely last week when, during a promotional visit to Japan, the French midfielder volunteered his readiness to accept a “new challenge” away from Old Trafford. Some might think that helping Ole Gunnar Solskjær to rescue a great club from the doldrums represents enough of a challenge for anyone, but that would not be Raiola’s way.

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» Cameroon chaos, England's under-21 exit and Buffon to Leeds? – Football Weekly

Max Rushden, Barry Glendenning, Jonathan Wilson and Tim Stillman discuss England’s win over a fuming Cameroon side, the Under-21s’ early exit, Copa América and the Africa Cup of Nations

Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and email.

We start with England’s last 16 World Cup win over Cameroon, which will be best remembered for the the furious reaction to two VAR decisions which went against England’s opponents. Suzy Wrack joins us on the phone to give us the in-stadium view of events in Valenciennes.

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» Transfer window 2019 – every summer deal from Europe's top five leagues

All the latest deals and club-by-club guides for the Premier League, La Liga, the Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and Serie A

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» Cameroon meltdown was unimpressive but context is all important | Njie Enow
Alain Djeumfa’s players lost their cool against England but they have been brought up on tales of injustice from Italia 90

It was the summer of 1990 and the world’s best football nations had been battling for supremacy in Italy but a hitherto unknown central African state, Cameroon, had stolen the headlines.

Jingoism was at its peak in the nation that was only appearing in the World Cup for the second time. The Indomitable Lions, as the Cameroon team are known, had become the first African side to reach the quarter-finals before losing to England in Naples in the unlikeliest of manners.

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» Manchester United meet Crystal Palace to try to seal Wan-Bissaka deal
• Monday meeting follows improved offer at the weekend
• Palace will push for removal of Zaha sell-on clause in deal

Manchester United and Crystal Palace officials will meet on Monday afternoon with a view to thrashing out the finer details of a deal to take Aaron Wan-Bissaka to Old Trafford after an improved bid was tabled over the weekend.

Talks between the clubs appeared to have broken down late last week with United’s offers having fallen well short of Palace’s valuation of the England Under-21 defender. The Palace chairman, Steve Parish, who is under no real pressure to sell, has consistently sought to raise a guaranteed £50m for an academy graduate who excelled while making 39 appearances over his first full season in the senior set-up last term, and that stance has not shifted.

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» Tammy Abraham views transfer ban as golden chance to stake Chelsea claim

• Striker is ‘buzzing’ at prospect of new season at Stamford Bridge
• ‘There is a great chance for us young players so we must go for it’

Tammy Abraham has said Chelsea’s transfer ban represents a glorious opportunity for the club’s academy prospects and next season will be “now or never” for him to break into the first team.

The England Under-21 forward is set to start the final game of a poor European Championship for Aidy Boothroyd’s side against Croatia on Monday. He will then take only a fortnight’s holiday before starting pre-season training at Chelsea in a bid to impress Frank Lampard or whoever succeeds Maurizio Sarri as manager.

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» Sergio Agüero guides Argentina past Qatar to reach Copa América last eight

• Qatar 0-2 Argentina
• Colombia 1-0 Paraguay

An early goal from Lautaro Martínez and a late second from Sergio Agüero gave Argentina a 2-0 win over Qatar on Sunday, a deserved victory that takes them into the Copa América quarter-finals to face Venezuela.

Related: Brazil’s Roberto Firmino on target in Copa América win against Peru

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» Dani Alves to leave PSG but defender has not revealed future plans
  • Brazilian has spent two years at the Ligue 1 club
  • 36-year-old does not say where he will play next season

Dani Alves has announced that he is leaving Paris Saint-Germain, although the 36-year-old did not reveal his future plans.

Related: Transfer window 2019 – every summer deal from Europe's top five leagues

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» ‘Ultimately we made mistakes’: Aidy Boothroyd dissects England’s U21 exit

Manager of England Under-21s eliminated from European Championships says after 4-2 defeat to Romania, ‘You always think: What could I have done better?’

England were among the favourites to win a first European Under‑21 Championship since 1984 but are out with a game to spare after error-strewn losses to France and Romania. Aidy Boothroyd vowed not to quit following the team’s elimination on Friday, insisting he needed to reflect on a campaign that has seen England – unbeaten in 10 qualifiers – concede six goals, give away three penalties and receive a damaging red card, with Monday’s dead game against Croatia to come. On Saturday the head coach faced up to England’s latest disappointment on the international stage. Here, in his own words, Boothroyd defends his strategy, his record – and his players.

What was going through your mind last night?

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» Gyasi Zardes hits twice as USA exact revenge against Trinidad in Gold Cup
  • USA rout Trinidad to book place in Gold Cup quarter-finals
  • Gyasi Zardes scores twice in three minutes in the second half

Gyasi Zardes scored two goals in a three-minute span in the second half and the US men’s soccer team earned a small sample of revenge with a 6-0 blowout in the Concacaf Gold Cup on Saturday night over Trinidad and Tobago, which handed the Americans a nightmarish loss two years ago.

Aaron Long scored his first two international goals, and Christian Pulisic and Paul Arriola had one each during a five-goal barrage in the second half. The US cruised to its second shutout this week and clinched a quarter-final berth in Philadelphia on 30 June.

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» Roy Keane leaves Nottingham Forest after five months at club
  • Keane wants to focus on his own managerial career
  • Departure from City Ground described as amicable

Roy Keane’s brief return to Nottingham Forest is over after he informed Martin O’Neill he wants to leave the club to try to resurrect his own managerial career.

Keane has been working as O’Neill’s assistant since January but the former Manchester United and Republic of Ireland captain has always made it clear his preference would be to start again in management, eight and a half years since his last position at Ipswich Town.

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» Golden Boot Standings: top scorers for France 2019 World Cup

The latest standings for the Golden Boot award at the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France

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» England’s refusal to be bullied by Cameroon cannot hide concerns
Phil Neville’s players showed their appetite for battle and cool heads, but improvements will be needed against Norway

The good news is that, offering a welcome redefinition of grace under pressure, England refused to be bullied by Cameroon’s absurdly depressing antics in Valenciennes on Sunday.

Retaining their poise and refusing to be provoked into retaliation, Phil Neville’s side won their fourth game out of four, scored three goals and kept another clean sheet.

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» Cameroon’s shameful performance descends into playground farce | Suzanne Wrack
It was an achievement for the Indomitable Lionesses to reach the last 16 but they let themselves down against England

Spitting, elbows in the face and temper tantrums. England had arrived in quaint yet sophisticated Valenciennes on Friday likely not expecting that by Sunday evening they would feel like they were in a nursery. Yet that is what the Stade du Hainaut became as the Cameroon national team fell to pieces and threw their toys out of the pram in style.

Related: England beat Cameroon to reach quarter-finals amid VAR drama

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» England’s Phil Neville accuses Cameroon of ‘shaming football’

• ‘I’ve never seen circumstances like that on a football pitch’
• Neville confirms that Toni Duggan was deliberately spat on

On an evening when Phil Neville accused Cameroon’s coach of allowing his team to “shame football”, England’s progress to the last eight and a quarter-final in Le Havre against Norway on Thursday was almost reduced to a footnote.

Related: Cameroon’s shameful performance descends into playground farce | Suzanne Wrack

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» Manchester United and the mystery of the missing director of football | Jacob Steinberg
Manchester United have been seeking a director of football for some time now but nothing has happened. No wonder players are thinking twice about joining

Spare a thought for Ed Woodward. As if Paul Pogba issuing a come-and-get-me plea so unsubtle he might as well have jumped out of a cake in the shape of the Bernabéu was not distracting enough, now there are claims that Manchester United’s executive vice-chairman is having trouble with an unruly director pushing for Steve Walsh to fill the director of football role at Old Trafford.

Related: Manchester United’s ‘culture’ is overrated. Busby and Ferguson swam against the tide | Barney Ronay

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» ‘Mandela brought extra pressure’: the story of South Africa’s Afcon triumph

Bafana Bafana had a president to please and rugby side to follow as 1996 Cup of Nations hosts, as this book extract tells

For Clive Barker victory over Cameroon in South Africa’s opening game of the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations was a huge relief. Ever since he had watched Joel Stransky execute his drop goal at Ellis Park six months earlier the head coach felt Bafana Bafana had taken on some emotional freight.

The South Africa rugby team had made the most of their hosting a showpiece; could the football team do the same? The pressure was not spoken so much as strongly hinted at, as Barker sensed when one weekend in Durban well ahead of the Afcon his eight-year-old niece, Suzie, called to him that he had a phone call. “It’s Nelson,” said the schoolgirl, “and he says he wants to talk to you, Uncle Clive.”

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» England teams across sports finally value rewards that come with risk | Andrew Anthony

Gareth Southgate has led a revolution that has produced better results and entertainment while England’s cricketers have also benefited from a more aggressive attitude

Among the myriad skills that are employed in different sports one that is shared by all is risk assessment. Though it sounds like some dark art practised by insurance agents, it is the basic cost-benefit analysis that most competitors make intuitively and upon which all coaches are fixated. Namely, does a given action increase the likelihood of gaining an advantage more than it increases the likelihood of suffering a setback? That is the question a full-back has to ask each time he sprints down the wing. Or a tennis player when she rushes the net.

And overall it is this matter that governs how a sport is played: the style, attitude, tactics and strategy. You can see this most clearly with football and cricket, two sports that, aside from team size, have little in common. Yet both have been transformed in recent years, particularly in England, by a new approach to risk.

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» Liverpool and City make X-rated fees normal in scary pursuit of perfection | Paul Wilson

Reds were ahead of the curve with £75m Virgil van Dijk transfer but champions could trump that for Harry Maguire as a duopoly emerges in the Premier League

There are weeks of the transfer window still to go, an opportunity to keep spending money stretching ahead of Premier League clubs like the seemingly endless summer holidays of schoolchild memory, yet it is already clear that the prices being quoted are not only adult but in some cases X-rated.

It was said when Virgil van Dijk joined Liverpool for £75m that in a short space of time the fee would look a bargain, and that time has now arrived. If Manchester City succeed in persuading Harry Maguire to reject Manchester United’s overtures and sign for the champions instead, the price Leicester will ask is likely to match or even exceed what Liverpool paid for Van Dijk.

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» Swamp soccer: footballers battle it out in mud for World Cup spot – video

Dozens of footballers have taken part in the Russian Swamp football cup near Saint Petersburg to earn a place in the Swamp Soccer World Cup. The contest, which was officially started in 1998, was inspired by Finland's top cross-country skiers using natural swamps to train during the summer. Teams consist of a goalkeeper and five field players, with no limits on squad sizes or substitutions during the game. They compete over two 12-minute halves, with no offside rule - and corner kicks, penalties and throw-ins are taken by drop kick. Nearly 200 teams, with more than 2,000 players, both male and female, are expected to take part in the tournament in Hyrynsalmi next month.

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» 'Value it more': Marta's impassioned plea to Brazil at Women's World Cup – video

An emotional Marta bid farewell to another unsuccessful World Cup campaign with a challenge to Brazil's future stars: work harder and do more if you want to win. 

With tears in her eyes after the 2-1 extra-time defeat to hosts France, the woman considered by many to be the greatest ever to play the game said the future of Brazilian football was dependent on new generations pushing themselves. 

Speaking to Fox Soccer, with a mix of sadness and defiance, the six-time Fifa player of the year said: 'Cry now so you can smile at the end.'

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» Stunning free-kick goal from opposing half in Malaysia FA Cup semi-final - video

Hérold Goulon's amazing stoppage time free-kick goal from the other half of the pitch capped a 3-1 victory for Pahang over visiting Perak in the opening leg of the Malaysia FA Cup semi-final in Kuantan on Saturday. Goulon lofted a shot from inside the Pahang half into the back of the Perak net for a sensational goal

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» Fernando Torres says it is the right time to end his football career - video

Fernando Torres said on Sunday in Tokyo that he has decided to retire before he reached a point in his career when he can no longer play to the level he expects of himself. The 35-year-old will retire in two months after an 18-year professional career that included stops at Atlético Madrid, Liverpool, Chelsea, Milan and Japanese side Sagan Tosu.

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» Maurizio Sarri: coaching Ronaldo will be a 'step up' from Chelsea – video

Maurizio Sarri says his move to Juventus from Chelsea is a ‘step up’ as he will have the opportunity to coach players such as Cristiano Ronaldo. Speaking at his unveiling, the Italian said it was his aim to help the forward ‘break some new records’. Acknowledging the scepticism among some fans at his affiliation with rivals Napoli, he said: ‘To win is to convince them’

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» Fernando Torres retires after glittering 18-year career – video highlights

After an 18-year career, former Spain striker Fernando Torres is calling time on professional football. The announcement came in a video posted to social media, with the former Atlético, Liverpool and Chelsea player telling fans he will reveal more about his decision at a press conference in Tokyo on Sunday.

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» Ismaila Sarr to Hakim Ziyech: 10 to watch at the Africa Cup of Nations

Our list of potential stars of the tournament, which starts in Egypt on Friday, also includes the hosts’ hero Mohamed Salah

A brilliant season for Ajax has alerted some of Europe’s biggest sides to the playmaker’s talent, with the 26-year-old notching 21 goals and 24 assists for his club last season. Having turned down the chance to play for the Netherlands in 2015 after representing several of their youth sides, he has flourished for Morocco under manager Hervé Renard – scoring 14 times in his 25 appearances – and heads to Egypt looking to make up for the disappointment of last year’s group-stage exit at the World Cup. Much may depend on whether the strikers Khalid Boutaïb or Youssef En-Nesyri can share the burden but they will not be lacking for chances with Ziyech in the team.

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» Uruguay made to wait despite VAR-fuelled Copa América fightback against Japan
  • Draw leaves Uruguay sweating on last-eight berth
  • Luis Suárez and José Giménez twice equalise

Uruguay twice came from behind to draw 2-2 against a young Japan side in the Copa América with the help of two questionable refereeing decisions and will have to wait until their final group game to book their place in the quarter-finals.

Tournament guests Japan went into the game after a 4-0 defeat to Chile while Uruguay had hammered Ecuador 4-0. But despite some early close attempts from Uruguay, Japan began to impose themselves on the game and Koji Miyoshi gave them the lead in the 25th minute with a confident finish following a counterattack.

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» Benin’s Steve Mounié: ‘We are the squirrels – and squirrels are strong’

The Huddersfield striker discusses the ‘big failure’ of last season, Benin’s chances at the AFCON and why he is pleased their nickname did not change

This year Steve Mounié has experienced the highs and lows of football almost simultaneously. With Huddersfield Town the striker endured the most difficult club season of his career but with his country, Benin, he has enjoyed thrilling success and there could be more to come, as he and his compatriots hope to make history at the Africa Cup of Nations, which kicks off on Friday.

It is Benin’s first appearance in the tournament since 2010, their fourth overall. “Benin have never won a match at the tournament so, if we win one game, we will be in the history books and that will be great for us,” says Mounié. “It doesn’t matter who it is against. Our first aim is to win a game and then we will see if we can get out of the group.” That would be no mean feat given the pool also includes the holders, Cameroon, one of the favourites, Ghana, and fellow underdogs Guinea-Bissau.

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» Argentina are floundering and Messi problem is not the biggest one | Jonathan Wilson
Copa América struggles demonstrate that more important are a lack of leadership and shrinking pool of high-class talent

The only positive for Argentina, and it is a dubious one, is that it could have been worse. A draw against Paraguay means they will probably advance to the quarter-final of the Copa América if they beat Qatar on Sunday – but there are no guarantees either that four points will be enough even for a best third-placed finish or, on current form, that they will beat the Asian champions. This was an extremely fortuitous point after another dismal performance.

Again, Argentina were painfully disjointed. Again, it was almost impossible to discern a plan. Again, there was little attacking flair and panic at every counter. Little wonder Sergio Agüero and Nicolás Otamendi have gone grey with the stress.

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» Brazilians are falling out of love with their distant, expensive football team

Copa América tickets cost too much but the gap between fans and the Seleção has been growing for some time

By Yellow & Green Football for the Guardian Sport Network

The organisers of the Copa América insisted the opening match between Brazil and Bolivia on Friday evening would sell out the 67,000-capacity Morumbi stadium in São Paulo. It didn’t. Just 46,342 fans paid for tickets, leaving the ground just 70% full. With the game still goalless at half-time, the deafening silence turned to boos as Tite’s men trudged off the pitch. Two goals from Philippe Coutinho and a superb solo strike from Everton Soares gave Brazil a 3-0 win, but much of the debate after the game was about the crowd’s antipathy to their own team.

Manager Tite said he “expected” a negative reaction given the way his team played. “We need to understand. If we get forward and create chances they will applaud. Having been at big clubs, when you sometimes don’t produce, then don’t expect the fans to understand. They will boo. When you pass the ball along the back, from full-back to central defender to goalkeeper, the first thing you hear is boo.”

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» Luis Enrique steps down as Spain coach due to personal reasons
  • After 11 months in the job, 49-year-old leaves post
  • Assistant Roberto Moreno takes over national team

Luis Enrique has stood down as coach of the Spanish national team due to a serious family problem, leaving his assistant Robert Moreno in charge until Euro 2020.

The former Barcelona manager had been absent during the last international break but had continued working from a distance and in a meeting held at his home in May the Spanish Football Federation had decided to wait for him.

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» Michel Platini was 'hurt' by detention and Qatar World Cup questioning
  • ‘It hurts for everything I can think of, everything I’ve done’
  • Platini released and lawyer says his client is innocent

The former Uefa president, Michel Platini, was released in the early hours of Wednesday after having been questioned over the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. Platini‘s lawyer, William Bourdon, said his client was innocent and that he had been questioned on “technical grounds.”

Related: A Sarkozy lunch, PSG and beIN sports: questions for Platini over Qatar 2022

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» How Real Madrid snatched Takefusa Kubo from under the noses of Barcelona
The Japanese prodigy is one of a new generation of players who have been scooped up by Real Madrid

Takefusa Kubo joined Barcelona when he was 10, spent four years at the club and was singled out as a future star but that future now belongs to their greatest rivals after Real Madrid announced the signing of the Japan international.

Just 18, Kubo was forced to leave Barça in 2015 after the club was investigated for breaking Fifa regulations on signing young players, returning to Japan and joining FC Tokyo’s youth system. Barcelona had hoped to bring the attacking midfielder back when he came of age but instead it is Madrid who have agreed a €2m deal with Tokyo and handed Kubo a six-year contract believed to be worth €1m a season. He will initially join the club’s B team, Castilla, but the plan is he will be incorporated into the first team in his second season.

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» It’s the Bandinis 2019! The complete review of Serie A's 2018-19 season

Ronaldo could not elevate the league’s standing in a season that mirrored recent ones, including ugly events off the pitch

Not even an alien invasion could change the narrative for Italian football. Cristiano Ronaldo was hailed as an extra-terrestrial when he touched down in Turin, a five-time Ballon d’Or winner arriving in a country where no player had got close to the award since Kaká claimed it in 2007. The Portuguese forward was supposed to carry Juventus to European glory. Instead, they won an eighth consecutive Serie A title, and nothing more.

Ronaldo, for the most part, delivered. He did not hit those otherworldly heights of his best years in Madrid, but 28 goals and 10 assists are hardly a pittance. His hat-trick bailed the Bianconeri out after a catastrophic first leg against Atlético Madrid in the Champions League last-16, and he struck in both legs of the quarter-final defeat by Ajax.

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» ‘We never got that money’: the inside story of Bury’s road to financial ruin

We show how loans, a car park and a collapsed business helped drive Bury to the brink as a winding-up petition is adjourned

Bury’s historic 6-0 win in the 1903 FA Cup final was remembered last month when Manchester City eviscerated Watford by the same score, a jolting reminder of the gulf between these neighbouring clubs now, and what they represent about English football and modern Britain. While City have become a vehicle for Abu Dhabi oil wealth to harness the Premier League’s global power, Bury are in financial ruins, at the centre of a collapsed business which built student flats with fringe and fragile borrowings.

A winding-up petition against the club led by HMRC for unpaid tax was adjourned for a further six weeks on Wednesday, to allow time for a settlement of its debts or a sale. The owner, Steve Dale, who has complained since his takeover about the club’s dire finances, says he has paid the players to the end of March and half of April, intends to pay the rest of April’s wages this week, is planning some staff redundancies and is still bullishly vowing to avoid administration.

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» Fifa’s dirty laundry does not cause such a stench in murky times of today | Marina Hyde
In a world of pee tapes, poisonings and cybersecurity attacks, news such as Michel Platini’s detention does not feel quite the full-spectrum scandal it once would have been

I’m so glad that sporticidal Fifa president, Gianni Infantino, got to enjoy his second-term victory speech two weeks ago entirely free of spoilers. “Nobody talks about crisis at Fifa any more or rebuilding it from scratch,” he announced from the stage. “Nobody talks about scandals or corruption – we talk about football. We can say that we’ve turned the situation around. This organisation has gone from being toxic, almost criminal, to being what it should be – an organisation that develops football and is now synonymous with transparency, integrity.”

Mmm. Following the detention of the former Uefa boss Michel Platini on Tuesday, this now joins the ever-lengthening list of things Infantino is wrong about. Or does it? Platini is in some way the most disheartening of all the Fifa round-ups. We had so long come to expect certain behaviours of professional leeches such as Jack Warner, whose only true talent brought joy to no one but their bank managers. That the corruption machine could be even alleged to have devoured perhaps France’s greatest player is a much more tragic state of affairs. Platini has been released without charge and denies all accusations. As he put it: “I feel totally foreign to any of these matters.”

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» Maradona film reminds that untameables were not always untouchable | Richard Williams
The Argentinian great’s Napoli years show the real pressures of adulation compared to today’s walled-away talents

When I sat down in a cinema to watch Emir Kusturica’s documentary about Diego Maradona a decade or so ago, I still thought of myself as a Pelé man. The Brazilian was the footballer who had dominated my adolescence, which is usually the time of life at which we acquire the heroes to whom we remain in thrall. Kusturica’s film made me reconsider that loyalty. He made me think that those who believed Maradona was the greatest footballer of all time might have a point.

Related: One that got away for Maradona and Napoli remains wrapped in suspicion | Tim Lewis

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» Premier League 2018-19 review: our predictions versus reality

We thought Manchester City would pip Liverpool to the title, but we also said Watford would go down

What we said: “Pep Guardiola’s talented side look well placed to become the first team to retain the Premier League title since Manchester United did it in 2009.”

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» Premier League 2018-19 season review: our writers’ best and worst

The best players, greatest games and standout signings – plus those that didn’t work out, and what needs to change

Ed Aarons: Virgil van Dijk. Raheem Sterling runs him close but in terms of impact and influence, the big Dutchman has been peerless.

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» Unforgettable photos: the best of the 2018-19 Premier League season

Photo editor Jonny Weeks reviews a tumultuous football season through some of its best, weirdest and most defining images

On an average weekend, The Guardian receives around 12,000 photographs from Premier League matches via its staff, agency and contributor photographers. That’s almost half a million images per season. Some capture extraordinary joy and despair; some bear witness to defining moments in the title race; some owe greatly to the creativity of the men and women behind the lenses; and some, like this first one from August, feature the rare but always amusing sight of a referee nearly getting thwacked by a ball.

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» Premier League 2018-19 review: the big quiz of the season

Who can’t wait to get out? Who sees trains? And who lost 6-0?

Which team suffered the heaviest defeat of the season?

Cardiff City




Which team lost 10 London derbies?

West Ham


Crystal Palace


Three players shared the golden boot with 22 goals each. Which continent are they from?


South America



Which team won the majority of their points from away matches?

Tottenham Hotspur

Crystal Palace

Huddersfield Town


Who scored 37.1% of his team’s goals – the highest percentage in the league?

Glenn Murray

Aleksandar Mitrovic

Jamie Vardy

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

What is the missing word in this quote: "It is like a **** that, every day in 10 years, sees the train cross in front at the same time. If you ask the **** what time is the train going to come, it is not going to know the right answer. In football, it is the same. Experience, yes, but hunger, motivation, circumstance, everything is so important."





Four clubs had stints at the top of the league. Liverpool were top for 141 days; Manchester City were top for 125 days; and Chelsea were top for nine days. Which club was top for one day?

Manchester United

Leicester City

West Ham


A 38-year-old set up a goal for a 35-year-old in October. Which team were they playing for?

West Ham


Newcastle United


Who said: “We are going to make much more points in the second part of the season than we did in the first part”?

Mark Hughes

Claudio Ranieri

David Wagner

José Mourinho

What was the state of play in the title race at the start of 2019?

Liverpool and Manchester City were level on points and goal difference

Liverpool were two points clear

Liverpool were four points clear

Liverpool were seven points clear

Two managers started their reigns by going unbeaten for 12 league games. Ole Gunnar Solskjær and …

Unai Emery

Maurizio Sarri

Brendan Rodgers

Ralph Hasenhüttl

Which club started the season with three defeats and finished it with three victories?




West Ham

There are currently five English managers in the league. How many of them finished in the top half?





Who was talking about what when he said: “I can't wait to get out of it, if I'm honest. I think we'll be far better out of the bloody thing”?

Sean Dyche on the Europa League

Mauricio Pochettino on the League Cup

Jürgen Klopp on the FA Cup

Neil Warnock on the European Union

What did Harvey Elliott do this season?

He became the youngest referee in Premier League history

He made two appearances and picked up two red cards

He became the youngest player in Premier League history

He scored five goals without starting a game

Southampton, Manchester United, Huddersfield and Leicester did it once. Who did it twice?





Who was the top scoring Englishman in the league this season?

Harry Kane

Callum Wilson

Jamie Vardy

Raheem Sterling

Who has joined a group of players that contains Henning Berg, Ashley Cole, Gaël Clichy, Robert Huth, Nicolas Anelka, Kolo Touré, Carlos Tevez and N'Golo Kanté?

Raheem Sterling

Riyad Mahrez


Virgil van Dijk

Huddersfield only won three games all season. Which team did they beat twice?


Tottenham Hotspur



1 and above.

You are the Fulham of football quizzes

2 and above.

You've been relegated

5 and above.

You've avoided relegation – but only just

3 and above.

You've been relegated

4 and above.

You've avoided relegation – but only just

6 and above.

You've avoided relegation – but only just

7 and above.

A solid, midtable finish

8 and above.

A solid, midtable finish

9 and above.

A solid, midtable finish

10 and above.

You've earned a place in the Europa League

11 and above.

You've earned a place in the Europa League

12 and above.

You've earned a place in the Champions League

13 and above.

You've earned a place in the Champions League

14 and above.

That's a top-four finish

15 and above.

That's a top-four finish

16 and above.

You've been pipped to the title – just like Liverpool

17 and above.

You've been pipped to the title – just like Liverpool

18 and above.

You've been pipped to the title – just like Liverpool

0 and above.

You are the Huddersfield of football quizzes

19 and above.

You are the Manchester City of football quizzes!

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» Premier League 2018-19 review: what we learned tactically from the season | Jonathan Wilson
For the elite clubs press-and-possess remains the dominant mode and the league’s less wealthy simply cannot compete

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, football was a game in which two teams battled for the ball and, when they had it, tried to score a goal. Teams had different ways of doing that. They used strength and they used pace and they used skill. They tried different shapes. They tried to win the ball back in different parts of the pitch. The ball could be capricious and hard to tame, but pretty much everybody agreed that it was safer not to let your opponents have too much of it.

Related: Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City can be judged with England’s very best | Richard Williams

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» The Fiver | Hoping for a Ronaldo but now unlikely to hold on to Rondón

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Who’d be a Newcastle fan? Having seen their club endure 12 years of mostly downward drift under the stewardship of spivvy blowhard billionaire Mike Ashley, a month ago they found themselves daring to dream as news broke of yet another potential takeover. And not just any potential takeover – oh no! This one was being spearheaded by an apparently ambitious sheikh whose family is purported to be worth around £150bn. While it is easy to understand the unbridled optimism of Geordies absolutely desperate to rid their club of an owner with no apparent interest in owning their club, neutrals could be forgiven for smirking knowingly at preposterously premature, euphoric talk of what kind of bells and whistles the club would employ when the time came to “Announce Mbappé!

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» Football transfer rumours: Gigi Buffon to Leeds United?

Today’s tell-all is caught between the devil and deep blue sea

Fascinating reports from Italy suggest Gigi Buffon has an admirer in Marcelo Bielsa and could conceivably be on his way to Leeds once his contract with Paris Saint-Germain expires at the end of the week. As implausible and unlikely a move as it might seem, the Italian legend has “previous” played in Italy’s second tier, having been one of a few big name stars to stay with Juventus when they were demoted in 2006 as punishment for assorted shenanigans. When asked why he’d chosen to stay, the goalkeeper said it was an easy decision “because I’ve never won Serie B”. As luck would have it, he’s never won the Championship either.

Related: Tammy Abraham views transfer ban as golden chance to stake Chelsea claim

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» Which footballers have had unlikely guests at their weddings? | The Knowledge

Plus: captains born close to the scene of trophy-lifting success, more Davids v Goliaths and the lowest-ranked international Premier League players. Mail us or tweet @TheKnowledge_GU

“After Mesut Özil’s government-endorsed nuptials, have any other players had an equally unlikely or high-level wedding guest?” asks Tony Crawford.

We should point out that Turkey’s president clearly loves a footballer’s wedding. Perhaps it’s the tasty canapés on offer or, more likely, the effect such appearances can have on his popularity. Just over a year before he was best man for Mesut Özil, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan played the same role on Arda Turan’s big day. Erdoğan was also present at Hakan Şükür’s wedding in 1995. But on this occasion, as the mayor of Istanbul, he actually conducted the ceremony. Curiously, the best man was Fethullah Gülen, the leader of the Gülen movement, now a vocal critic and enemy of Erdoğan who is exiled in the United States.

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» Football quiz: the many managers of Chelsea Football Club

Who won the World Cup? Who played a final? Who liked eggs?

How many Italians have managed Chelsea since they last had a (permanent) English manager?





Chelsea have played in the top flight since 1989. Which manager earned them promotion that year, winning the Division Two title with a huge total of 99 points?

Glenn Hoddle

Bobby Campbell

Pat Nevin

John Neal

What does Chelsea's first manager, John Tait Robertson, have in common with Glenn Hoddle, Ruud Gullit and Gianluca Vialli?

All four won the FA Cup in their first season in charge

All four captained their national teams in a World Cup final

All four won the European Cup (but not with Chelsea)

All four were player-managers at Chelsea

Luiz Felipe Scolari won the World Cup as a manager. Which former Chelsea manager won the World Cup as a player?

Carlo Ancelotti

Roberto Di Matteo

Antonio Conte

Geoff Hurst

Chelsea were the first club in the history of the Football League to put out a team without a British player. Which manager selected that team?

Ruud Gullit

Gianluca Vialli

Avram Grant

José Mourinho

Arsenal have changed managers twice since Bruce Rioch left in the summer of 1996. How many appointments have Chelsea made in that time (not including caretakers who only led the team for a few games)?





Who was the Chelsea manager when Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003?

José Mourinho

Gianluca Vialli

Claudio Ranieri

Ray Wilkins

Which Chelsea manager gave this speech a few days before he was sacked: “Omelettes, eggs. No eggs, no omelette. And it depends on the quality of the eggs. In the supermarket, you have eggs class one, class two, class three. Some are more expensive than others and some give you better omelettes. So when the class one eggs are in Waitrose and you cannot go, there you have a problem”?

Antonio Conte

José Mourinho

Claudio Ranieri

Avram Grant

Which Chelsea manager won two thirds of his games, never lost a league match at home, only lost six times and was sacked straight after he took the club to a European final?

Maurizio Sarri

Carlo Ancelotti

Avram Grant

Antonio Conte

Rafa Benítez won the Europa League as Chelsea manager in 2013. Who did they beat in the final?


Atlético Madrid



Gianluca Vialli won the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1998 with Chelsea. What was special about that triumph?

He became the first Chelsea manager to win a European trophy

He scored the winning goal in the final

He became the youngest manager to win a Uefa competition

He was the last manager to win the Cup Winners’ Cup before it was abolished

1 and above.

Oh dear. More of a Fulham fan?

2 and above.

Oh dear. More of a Fulham fan?

3 and above.

Oh dear. More of a Fulham fan?

4 and above.

Oh dear. More of a Fulham fan?

5 and above.

That's a decent score but Abramovich would still sack you

6 and above.

That's a good score but Abramovich would still sack you

7 and above.

That's a good score but Abramovich would still sack you

8 and above.

That's a very good score but Abramovich would still sack you

9 and above.

That's a great score. Abramovich might even give you another season

10 and above.

That's a great score. Abramovich might even give you another season

0 and above.

Oh dear. More of a Fulham fan?

11 and above.

Perfection! Abramovich might even give you another season

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» David Squires on … the Women's World Cup, goals and good old VAR

Our cartoonist looks at the second week of France 2019, thrashings, goal sizes and that instant replay magic

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» What is football's biggest David v Goliath victory? | The Knowledge

Plus: golden oldie top scorers, Zs in names and a Derby County curiosity. Mail us or tweet @TheKnowledge_GU

“Curaçao beat India 3-1 in the King’s Cup last week,” notes Bas van Eldonk. “Curaçao has a population of 162,000 v India’s 1.367 billion, which means there is one person in Curaçao for every 8,438 in India. Let’s call this ratio (1:8438) the David/Goliath number. Has there even been a victory in men’s international football with a higher D/G number?”

In Fifa rankings terms, Curaçao’s victory over India wasn’t a shock at all: it was the 82nd best team in the world beating the 101st. But in population terms, it was seismic stuff. India is the second most populous country in the world, Curaçao the 192nd.

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» India v Pakistan, Boris Johnson's street rugby and US Open memories

This week’s roundup also features a goalkeeper’s calamitous loss of focus, USA goal gluts and office chair racing

1) There’s no doubt what the most watched Cricket World Cup match will be this weekend (if the rain holds off): India v Pakistan excites passions like few other sporting contests, and it will offer Virat Kohli’s side a chance to atone for their Champions Trophy final defeat in 2017. India have fonder memories of meeting Pakistan in recent World Cups, however, beating them four years ago in the group stage and in the 2011 semi-final. And then there was this Sachin Tendulkar masterclass in 2003.

2) Great own goals dept: over in the MLS, the San José goalkeeper Daniel Vega pays the price for a lack of concentration against Dallas.

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» Karel Poborsky: ‘They put me into a coma. All my face muscles were paralysed’
The former Manchester United winger talks about a visit from Ferguson, his relationship with Beckham and the brain infection that could have killed him

“If I arrived at the hospital one day later than I did, this interview would not happen. I arrived at the hospital too late to find out the root of the infection; they put me straight into a coma. After I woke up, they asked me what my name was and the seven times table. All of my face muscles were paralysed – it was an infection of the brain. I spent three weeks quarantined in hospital on powerful antibiotics, directly to the veins. I couldn’t eat, I had to keep my eyes covered because I was so sensitive to light. I was very scared.”

Karel Poborsky still does not know how he got ill in the summer of 2016 – one theory is that a tick living in his beard bit him – but the important thing is that he is now healthy and well. Sitting in the reception of a plush London hotel alongside his long-term partner, Andrea Tomsu, his eyes dance brightly behind a pair of horn-rimmed glasses and he talks animatedly about his life and career.

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» Eden Hazard to Real Madrid: a transfer almost 10 years in the making | Sid Lowe

Zinedine Zidane identified the Belgian in 2010. Finally he has his man and Hazard will start despite hefty competition

“I would take Eden Hazard with my eyes closed.” Zinedine Zidane’s words are not from this week or last. They are not from last year, the year before or even the year before that. Real Madrid’s manager said that in April 2010, almost a decade ago, when the Frenchman was just about to return to the Bernabéu as presidential adviser and Hazard was 19 and playing for Lille. He was also, Zidane said, “the star of the future”. Now, aged 28, he is Madrid’s present, not just their latest galáctico but their first for five years. He has been a long time coming.

This is the chronicle of a signing foretold, one in which both sides have been open about their mutual attraction. There is an honesty about the way Hazard has spoken and a certain loyalty too – not just to Madrid or to Zidane but to Chelsea. He made no secret of his wish to go and, although his public pronouncements may not always have pleased, they were invariably framed with respect, a promise to do things the right way and a willingness to stay. He did not rebel, as Madrid would have liked, and that is partly why it has taken so long. Instead he embraced his commitment to Chelsea, insisting they would decide. And then he waited.

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» One that got away for Maradona and Napoli remains wrapped in suspicion | Tim Lewis
Late-season collapse was accompanied by strange events off the field as Napoli sought a second successive title in 1987-88

When Napoli beat Juventus 1-0 in November 1985, thanks to a Diego Maradona free-kick, five people fainted in the stadium and two had heart attacks. On the television news that night, a stern-faced presenter announced: “So quite literally by scoring this goal, Maradona made a big mess.” A year and a half later, Napoli were champions of Italy, their first scudetto in a long, underwhelming history. The party went on for two months. Hundreds of newborn boys were named Diego, the girls Diega.

These are details from the riveting, immersive new documentary Diego Maradona, made by Asif Kapadia, whose previous films have traced the extraordinary lives and premature demises of Ayrton Senna and Amy Winehouse. Much of Diego Maradona is preoccupied with the crazy tale of how the best player in the world ended up at one of Italy’s least desirable clubs and what happened next. The fact that the Argentinian, within three seasons, almost single-footedly took Napoli from perennial relegation-dodgers to the summit of the best and toughest league in the world is often used by his admirers to explain why he should be regarded as the greatest player ever to step on a football pitch.

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» Pochettino hands Spurs shopping list to Levy and counts on him to deliver | David Hytner
Tottenham manager desperate to refresh squad amid falling points totals and work out how to improve results on bad days

Mauricio Pochettino is back in Barcelona – the city he calls home – and he is waiting. The Tottenham manager is waiting to see whether the chairman, Daniel Levy, and the club’s recruitment staff can deliver on any of his transfer targets, who include Tanguy Ndombélé, Donny van de Beek, Nicolò Zaniolo and Ryan Sessesgnon.

Pochettino has made it plain he wants to refresh at Spurs and a part of that means introducing new players for the first time since January 2018. There has even been the subtext that he would consider his position if Levy were to disappoint him.

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» 'We're small but mighty': Bermuda's plan to emulate Iceland's World Cup run

The island has a population of a little over 65,000 but with an expanded World Cup in 2026, qualification for the tournament is not out of the question

Kyle Lightbourne has been involved with Bermudan soccer for 30 years. Lightbourne’s playing career began on the island in the late 80s and ended there in 2009 – in between he had a solid career in England – and he has been managing ever since. Bermuda’s debut in this month’s Concacaf Gold Cup would be the culmination of his life’s work, except his ambitions go further.

“I always believed that anything that is given to us is easy but the things that you work for are harder and you appreciate them more,” Lightbourne tells the Guardian. “That’s the way I’ve lived my life, I’ve had to work to get whatever I’ve achieved and that’s what I want the team to work for and believe that we belong at this level.”

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» Spain 1-2 USA: Women's World Cup last 16 – as it happened

The reigning champions set up a date with France in the quarter-finals after a nervy win over Spain

Related: USA edge past gritty Spain to set up mouthwatering quarter-final with France

Closing with the mailbag ...

Oh my, the mailbox exploded. A few highlights ...

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» Ivory Coast 1-0 South Africa: Africa Cup of Nations 2019 – as it happened

A second-half winner from Aston Villa striker Jonathan Kodjia was enough to give the 2015 champions an opening win

A report will follow shortly. Thanks for reading.

A good start to the tournament in terms of a result for the Ivory Coast, less so in terms of performance. Jonathan Kodjia celebrates with fans, throwing his shirt into the crowd. South Africa were limited in outlook, and limited when having to chase down an equaliser. It could be a tough road for them to get to the last 16.

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» Rafael Benítez to leave Newcastle when contract expires on Sunday
• Club say they have ‘worked hard’ to extend manager’s deal
• Newcastle announce they are disappointed with outcome

Rafael Benítez will leave Newcastle United when his contract expires on Sunday, after months of talks aimed at extending his stay as manager reached an unsuccessful conclusion.

There was a predictably angry response from many fans when it emerged that Benítez’s stay would end after a little more than three years. It appears that Mike Ashley, who has been in talks to sell the club, declined to meet some of the Spaniard’s demands.

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» Matildas’ World Cup exit is no disgrace; let's avoid knee-jerk reactions | Richard Parkin

Ante Milicic was playing with the cards FFA dealt him and Australian fans should take a deep breath

For a deflated Ante Milicic post-match, the Matildas’ round of 16 elimination was the kind of kick in the teeth that makes you question your involvement in football. “I’ve been involved with games as a player, a coach, sitting at home watching games and I won’t fall in love with the game after tonight,” the coach said. “Gee that’s hurt me.”

As World Cup exits go it was particularly devastating. Here is a group of players, beloved for their ability to persevere irrespective of the off-field dramas threatening to engulf them; a coach considered one of Australia’s most promising; and a captain, a genuinely world-class striker, looking to drag Australia with her to the apex of world football.

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