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» Harry Kane wastes little time with message to Arsenal immediately after Bayern Munich win
Bayern Munich striker Harry Kane is already thinking about next week's Champions League showdown with Arsenal as both sides fight for a place in the competition's semi-finals
» Wataru Endo reveals what it was like in Liverpool dressing room after Atalanta defeat
Japanese international Wataru Endo, who has become a firm Kop favourite following his bargain £18million arrival, promises that Jurgen Klopp's side will come out fighting against Crystal Palace
» Man Utd hopeful new recruit gives them the edge in landing £70m transfer priority
Jason Wilcox, the former Manchester City academy chief who is now working as the director of football at Southampton, is set to arrive at Old Trafford soon
» Erik ten Hag storms out of Man Utd press conference as he ignores nightmare scenario
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag walked out of his press conference after it was pointed out that the club could set an unwanted Premier League record this season
» Man Utd's Alejandro Garnacho 'likes' tweets slamming Erik ten Hag after being subbed at Bournemouth
Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag decided to withdraw Alejandro Garnacho at half-time in the Red Devils' dismal 2-2 draw with Bournemouth on Saturday, replacing him with Amad
» Erik ten Hag responds to angry Bruno Fernandes exchange in Man Utd's dire Bournemouth draw
Bruno Fernandes and Andre Onana were spotted arguing during Manchester United's 2-2 draw with Bournemouth on Saturday, and now manager Erik ten Hag has responded
» Casemiro's sleepless nights admission reminds me of my final months in Premier League
Casemiro recently admitted that he's been having sleepless nights this season because of Manchester United's inconsistent form and his own below-par performances
» Man Utd, Spurs, Aston Villa and Newcastle's final matches - and does fifth qualify for Champions League?
Aston Villa are in pole position to qualify for the Champions League, with Tottenham now fifth, Newcastle sixth and Manchester United's hopes fading fast after one win in their last seven top-flight games
» Tottenham star issues apology to Spurs supporters after dismal thrashing by Newcastle
Tottenham suffered a heavy defeat away at Newcastle on Saturday afternoon - and James Maddison was quick to offer an apology to the club's disappointed travelling fans
» Man Utd emerge as dark horses in Ivan Toney transfer race as Arsenal and Chelsea take backseat
Ivan Toney looks set to leave Brentford in the summer and Manchester United are in the market for a new striker to help provide support for Rasmus Hojlund
» Tottenham and West Ham locked in battle with AC Milan over bargain free transfer
The race for Fulham defender Tosin Adarabioyo is heating up with the central defender set to leave Craven Cottage upon the expiry of his contract in June
» Gary McAllister reacts to Liverpool dressing room calling Alexis Mac Allister 'Gary'
Former Liverpool midfielder Gary McAllister said he laughed out loud when he discovered that the Anfield dressing room has started calling Alexis Mac Allister 'Gary' after him
» England boss Gareth Southgate considering Championship goalkeeper for Euro 2024
Gareth Southgate is weighing up whether to call up Swansea City goalkeeper Carl Rushworth ahead of Euro 2024 with the Brighton loanee impressing with the Welsh outfit
» Erling Haaland issues perfect response to Roy Keane after his dad wades into row
Erling Haaland was brutally compared to a League Two player by Roy Keane recently, but the striker was back amongst the goals in Manchester City's comprehensive win over Luton Town
» Bruno Fernandes spares Man Utd's blushes after dire Bournemouth display - 5 talking points
BOURNEMOUTH 2-2 MAN UTD: Bruno Fernandes scored twice to earn Erik ten Hag's a draw, with the Cherries having taken the lead twice on Saturday through Dominic Solanke and Justin Kluivert
» Brendan Rodgers made use of lesser-known rule that allowed him to make six Celtic substitutions
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers took advantage of a lesser-known rule regarding substitutions to make SIX changes during his side's 3-0 victory over St. Mirren on Saturday
» Alf-Inge Haaland responds to rival Roy Keane calling his son Erling a League Two player
Roy Keane claimed Erling Haaland operated like a "League Two player" during a recent Manchester City draw - with his father Alfe-Inge hitting back at his old rival
» Ryan Reynolds in tears as he celebrates 'ride of his life' Wrexham's promotion to League One
Wrexham confirmed back-to-back promotions with a huge 6-0 win over Forest Green Rovers and Hollywood owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney are reacting emotionally
» Chelsea wage bill rises past £400million but remarkable £76m sale keeps club within FFP rules
Chelsea's accounts for 2022/23 have been released and detailed their transfer deals and property sales as the club bids to remain compliant with the Premier League's profit and sustainability rules
» Man Utd chiefs given Erik ten Hag sack message midway through Bournemouth clash
Manchester United fans took to social media to vent their frustrations at Erik ten Hag during Saturday's match against Bournemouth, who led 2-1 at the half-time break
» Rob McElhenney's two-word reaction sums up Wrexham promotion despite agony of missing out
Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds' Wrexham have gained promotion in back-to-back seasons after securing their spot in League One with two games to go in an incredible first season back in the EFL
» Arsenal flop Matteo Guendouzi called out by Serie A hardman and labelled 'idiot'
Ex-Roma ace Radja Nainggolan has not held back in his assessment of former Arsenal midfielder Matteo Guendouzi, who now finds himself on loan at Serie A titans Lazio
» Man City, Arsenal and Liverpool’s remaining games as champions may regret Luton decision
MAN CITY 5-1 LUTON: Pep Guardiola's side moved back to the Premier League summit with a thumping win over Luton, with Arsenal and Liverpool both playing on Sunday
» Graeme Souness names his Premier League Footballer of the Year who beats Martin Odegaard
Phil Foden has been named as Graeme Souness' pick to be named the Player of the Year in the Premier League - the Manchester City star just pipping Arsenal's Martin Odegaard

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» Who needs perfection? Why flawed City, Arsenal and Liverpool bring the drama | Jonathan Wilson

This season’s title race is thrilling because all the contenders are imperfect. Sport is nothing without a sense of jeopardy

In Chad Harbach’s 2011 novel The Art of Fielding, the shortstop Henry Skrimshander is approaching the US college record for the most consecutive errorless baseball games when a throw inexplicably goes awry and hits a teammate in the dugout. At that, his confidence evaporates to the point that he can no longer execute the most basic skills; he gets the yips. What lingers from the novel, for me, is the crushing sense of pressure of having errors recorded like that, appearing even on the scoreboard, as though the sport had become less about the achievement of glory than about the avoidance of mistakes.

Avoiding mistakes is good. Some people should be judged on the avoidance of mistakes. Postal workers, bus drivers, indexers, especially surgeons and air-traffic controllers, should carry on not getting things wrong. But sport? Shouldn’t sport be about actively creating something?

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» Fernandes double gives Manchester United fortunate draw at Bournemouth

For Manchester United, is there a more damning indictment of their floundering state than the fact they have faced more shots than anyone else in the division this season? André Onana’s goal was peppered again here and they have now conceded a league-high 574 shots this season. The other teams at the top of that list? Sheffield United, Luton and Burnley, a trio mired in relegation trouble. It is so easy for sides to ruffle United and it is increasingly difficult to believe Erik ten Hag has the answers. Arguably the biggest club on the planet are a soft touch.

Bruno Fernandes scored from both of United’s shots on target to prevent a humbling defeat at Bournemouth, his second goal courtesy of a contentious penalty, awarded after a deflected Kobbie Mainoo shot pinballed off Adam Smith’s arm. Dominic Solanke and Justin Kluivert struck either side of Fernandes’s first goal and Andoni Iraola’s swarming side thought they earned a stoppage-time spot-kick, only for VAR to rescue the teenager Willy Kambwala, unfortunately for him the star of the tragicomedy of Solanke’s opener, from further ignominy.

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» How Xabi Alonso finally found the antidote to Bayer’s Neverkusen jibes

Leverkusen’s amazing season is approaching a coronation but the success has been years in the making, dating back to 1891

Before Bayer Leverkusen’s recent German Cup semi-final against Fortuna Düsseldorf, the Ultras Leverkusen arranged a performance to celebrate the 90th birthday of the Bayer-Kreuz – the Bayer Cross, the 51-metre-diameter illuminated logo of Bayer pharmaceuticals that dominates the Leverkusen skyline.

“Bright in the night over my roof,” read the golden letters across the upper tier of the BayArena. Below, a replica of the Bayer-Kreuz was plugged in, shining above a row of cardboard houses.

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» ‘Incredible to be here’: Guardiola targets Premier League title after Luton victory
  • City manager also turns attention to Europe after 5-1 league win
  • ‘Whatever happens, we will give everything, with all our desire’

Pep Guardiola said “the team is alive” and ready for Real Madrid’s visit for Wednesday’s Champions League quarter‑final second leg after watching Manchester City beat Luton 5-1.

The tie is poised at 3-3 after the game at Real last Tuesday. Victory against Luton took the champions top of the Premier League by two points from Arsenal and Liverpool, who both play on Sunday.

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» Postecoglou laments ‘self-inflicted’ Tottenham defeat at Newcastle
  • Alexander Isak scores twice in 4-0 home win
  • ‘I was concerned with every aspect of our game’

Ange Postecoglou suffered his heaviest defeat since taking charge of Tottenham last summer and warned that it was unlikely to be the team’s last setback.

“I was concerned by every aspect of our game, a lot of it was self-inflicted,” said the Australian as Spurs lost 4-0 at Newcastle where the in-form Sweden striker Alexander Isak scored twice.

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» Cunha brace salvages point for Wolves as Forest flirt with relegation

Morgan Gibbs-White can score and create all he likes, celebrate with fingers in his ears to wind up his old club’s fans, but unless Nottingham Forest learn how to defend set pieces, they will lose control over their Premier League destiny.

Matheus Cunha scored twice on his first start after two months out injured to earn Wolves a draw but in between Gibbs-White equalised in first-half stoppage time and then provided the driving run that led to Danilo giving Nuno Espírito Santo’s team the lead.

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» Muric own goal hands Brighton point at Burnley after Brownhill opener

Arijanet Muric is on a one-man crusade to bring back football gaffe videos but he might need to pay Bart Verbruggen some royalties, too.

Last week, Muric whacked a clearance against Dominic Calvert-Lewin to gift Everton three points and on Saturday he let a meek Sander Berge backpass under his foot to cost Burnley a much-needed victory.

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» Frank Onyeka ends Brentford’s drought to nudge Blades closer to trapdoor

Something had to give. Between them, Brentford and Sheffield United had played out a collective 16 winless matches. For Brentford the drought did not extend to 10 games, and they ended the day seven points clear of relegation with five to play. For the Blades, Oliver Arblaster’s unfortunate deflection of Mikkel Damsgaard’s cross before Frank Onyeka’s injury-time strike made it eight without a victory. The relegation trapdoor, and with it the prospect of starting a Championship season on minus two points, opens ever-wider.

Where Sheffield United’s fate has looked sealed from early season, Brentford being among the strugglers has jarred when compared with their previous Premier League campaigns. A lack of victories has dragged them dangerously downwards. Quality performances against Manchester United, Brighton and Aston Villa yielded three draws. They have lacked the firepower to kill off opposition.

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» Championship roundup: Ipswich held but go top while Leeds suffer late defeat
  • Automatic promotion battle intensifies as Leeds beaten
  • Southampton hit last-gasp winner to stay in the chase

Ipswich moved a point clear at the top of the Championship after a thrilling 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough at Portman Road.

Ipswich went into the game looking to take advantage after seeing automatic promotion rivals Leicester beaten on Friday, but in a breathless first half the visitors took the lead through a header from Emmanuel Latte Lath. Town struck back 10 minutes later, though, when Massimo Luongo crashed home a corner.

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» Ryan Reynolds celebrates ‘ride of our lives’ as Wrexham seal promotion
  • Hollywood co-owner reacts as 6-0 victory sends Wrexham up
  • Stockport also celebrating promotion from League Two

Ryan Reynolds has said that he and Rob McElhenney are having the “ride of our lives” following another Wrexham promotion.

The Deadpool star, 47, co-owns the club with fellow Hollywood actor McElhenney. They previously secured promotion to League Two last year, and a 6-0 victory over Forest Green Rovers on Saturday means they will play in League One next season, as they cannot now finish below the top three automatic promotion places.

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» Hatate settles Celtic nerves to beat St Mirren and go four points clear

Reo Hatate scored his first goal for six months to kick-start Celtic’s 3-0 win over St Mirren. Hatate produced a classy finish as Celtic recovered from a slack and goalless first half to take ­control of the game early in the ­second period.

Hatate has endured an injury-hit 12 months but he stepped up his ­comeback from calf problems by ­easing the tension around Celtic Park. Kyogo Furuhashi and Adam Idah also ­scored as the Premiership leaders moved four points ahead of Rangers, who have still to play twice before the split.

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» Leicester tackle demons head on to boost shot at Women’s FA Cup final

Leicester travel to Tottenham for a season-defining semi-final having endured a turbulent season off the field

“It’s not the first time we’ve had a change in manager. We’re in ­football, it’s a business, it happens ­everywhere,” says the Leicester captain, Aileen Whelan, in a matter-of-fact way.

“It’s just another day at work. The focus stays the same, at training, at the gym. It has been tough, don’t get me wrong, but that doesn’t take away from what we do at the weekend.”

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» European football: Bayern sink Cologne to delay Leverkusen’s coronation
  • Tuchel’s side win 2-0 but lose Coman for Arsenal game
  • Juventus out of Serie A title race after draw with Torino

Bayern Munich struck twice in the second half to earn a 2-0 win over Cologne and bounce back from two straight league losses, delaying Bayer Leverkusen the title for 24 hours at least. Xabi Alonso’s side are 13 points ahead and poised to wrap up their first championship with a win over Werder Bremen on Sunday.

Bayern’s only hope of silverware this season rests with the Champions League and they host Arsenal on Wednesday in their quarter-final second leg, after the 2-2 draw in London last Tuesday. They suffered a serious injury blow against Cologne, however, with the winger Kingsley Coman taken off in the 50th minute and ruled out for several weeks with an adductor muscle injury.

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» Portsmouth’s League One promotion party on hold as Bolton fight for draw

One more point. The last time Portsmouth were in the Championship, the Harry Potter films topped the box office, Fabio Capello was the England manager and Abu Kamara, Pompey’s goalscorer, was eight years old.

Now one more point is all they need after a battling 1-1 draw at third-placed Bolton took them closer to a return to the second tier. A famous Fratton Park festival surely awaits, with Portsmouth hosting Barnsley on Tuesday.

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» Malmö Women’s new dawn offers hope as Nordic clubs reach crossroads

Europe’s balance of power has shifted and Malmö are among the clubs with a vision to return Nordic football to the top

The rain has let up in time for training and Malmö FF Women are going through their paces. Their session takes place at the club’s old ground but, on Saturday, their Elitettan campaign will begin yards away on the main Eleda Stadion pitch. It will be a special occasion: their first match in Sweden’s second tier after promotion, with about 2,000 fans looking on. They will face opponents who were once no strangers to a spot of glamour. Earlier this century few in Europe could rival Umeå IK, who won the Uefa Women’s Cup twice and were runners-up three times. Football has changed since their last final in 2008 and it would be a tremendous feat for any Swedish side, let alone Umeå, to hit those heights again.

While the players train, Håkan Wifvesson is wrapping up an intense day of discussion. “We, the Nordic countries, have been the strongest in the world,” says Wifvesson, chairman of Malmö’s city rivals and multiple top-flight title winners Rosengård, to a packed room inside the modern stadium. “I think we have to make a new plan for how we’re going to get back to that position.”

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» Watching live as Haaland, Bellingham and Mbappé fluffed their lines was exhilarating | Barney Ronay

The world’s three best players had stinkers, but it did not detract from a pair of breathtaking Champions League games

This week I travelled 3,000 miles to watch the three best footballers in the world so you didn’t have to. All three of them were terrible. And it was great.

The Champions League quarter-finals were great. The early morning budget airline flights worked. All four teams were excellent in different ways. Just being allowed to report on Real Madrid v Manchester City, followed by Paris Saint-Germain v Barcelona the next day, walking through those city spaces while four sets of fans had a moment in the spring sunshine was a privilege, and a reminder of the many good things that are still there – warmth, collectivism, open borders – all of this only slightly overshadowed by Islamic State saying it wanted to machine-gun everyone.

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» Rob Edwards: ‘If Luton stay up, I don’t want it to be because of deductions’

Manager discusses bravery, his future at Kenilworth Road, and the moment that convinced him his team can survive

When Arsenal went top of the Premier League against Luton last week, it wasn’t their fans who were celebrating. Comfortable in their two-goal lead, the home crowd were slipping out before the end and the stadium was empty soon after the whistle. But not entirely. Clustered in the south-east corner, nearly 3,000 Luton fans stayed to serenade their beloved manager. Oh for someone who looks at you the way a Lutonian looks at Rob Edwards.

It was Luton’s eighth Premier League defeat in 10 games and their 19th of the season. The Bedfordshire side sat 18th in the table, three points adrift of Nottingham Forest. And yet nothing can sour the love. “In this situation, if they turned, it would be really, really tough,” Edwards said after the game. “It gives me a lot of belief, that they’re with us.”

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» Alexander Isak double leads Newcastle in thrashing of toothless Tottenham

At least it was not quite as bad as last year for Tottenham. Almost exactly 12 months ago, Antonio Conte’s interim managerial successor, Cristian Stellini, presided over a 6-1 defeat here that served to confirm things were seriously awry in north London and set in motion a chain of events concluding with Ange Postecoglou breathing new life into the team.

The Australian’s rescue and reform act remains a work in progress but seemed to be generally working pretty nicely, until Tottenham suffered a relapse on Tyneside sufficiently severe to threaten their hopes of Champions League qualification.

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» Slovakia’s latest pro-Russia turn brings Euro 2024 tie with Ukraine into focus | Barney Ronay

Slovakia has just elected a president who, like the country’s prime minister, opposes military aid to Ukraine and is seen as pro-Moscow

It is easy to forget that in June 2021 the Ukrainian Football Association was ordered to remove the words “Glory to the Heroes” from its European Championship shirt after Russia – yes, that Russia – had complained it found the slogan to be upsettingly aggressive and militaristic in tone.

Eight months later the same Russia, no doubt still averting its nose from all things militaristic, would invade Ukraine’s eastern border and start a war that has killed at least 11,000 Ukrainian civilians and tens of thousands of its own soldiers. They did at least get the slogan changed, so there’s that.

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» Emma Hayes quotes poetry and chat with son after Eidevall calls her ‘irresponsible’
  • Chelsea manager recites verses from Robert Frost
  • Arsenal counterpart criticises ‘male aggression’ comment

Emma Hayes quoted poetry and said she would follow advice she gave her son on how to avoid playground confrontations when asked on Friday about her touchline spat with Arsenal’s head coach, Jonas Eidevall.

Hayes appeared to push Eidevall as they shook hands after Arsenal’s defeat of Chelsea in last month’s Continental League Cup final and accused him of “male aggression” – a comment criticised by the Swede on Friday as “very irresponsible”.

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» Mikel Arteta’s focus on defensive solidity could pay dividends for Arsenal | Karen Carney

Excellent defensive record has been key to Gunners’ title bid – and it will remain so in the run-in

For the past four seasons the team with the best – or joint-best – defensive record have won the Premier League. This season, Arsenal have conceded the fewest goals, and scored the most, and are top with seven games to play. There has been a renewed focus on defence under Mikel Arteta and it could pay dividends in silverware.

Arsenal finished five points behind Manchester City last season, conceding 10 goals more than the champions. In this campaign they have let in six fewer goals than the side with the second-best defensive record, Liverpool. They are conceding 0.77 goals per game compared with 1.13 last season, helped by three clean sheets in a row. They welcome Aston Villa on Sunday, knowing another could put them one small step closer to glory.

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» Unearthed stories of ‘Lost Lionesses’ and Copa 71 expose past injustice

In shining a light on how female players were mocked and marginalised, documentary serves as a vital history lesson

Last Friday night, Keira Walsh led England out in front of 63,000 fans under the iconic Wembley arch. It was by no means the biggest occasion for this generation of Lionesses or for many women’s teams around the world, but it was the latest in a series of showpiece events that have helped propel women’s football to new heights.

Crowds of this size are becoming the norm, globally. Attendance records have been broken across multiple continents – whether that be at last year’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, or at a sold-out Dasharath Rangasala in Kathmandu for Bangladesh’s 2022 SAFF Championship win, or the record crowd for a friendly in Atlanta for the USA’s SheBelieves Cup opener just this fortnight. Whether in Europe, Africa, South America or beyond, the game is attracting the audiences it lacked for so long.

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» ‘Football’s on the rise here’: European teams seek global outreach in India

Clubs in the west hope partnerships with the Indian Super League can let them trade knowhow for fan engagement

A south Indian Idli Sambar mixed with Norfolk mustard was on the menu when Norwich City and Chennaiyin FC announced a strategic partnership last week. The Canaries are the latest European club to head to the subcontinent in search of fans, revenue and, eventually perhaps, talent. If India has overtaken China as the world’s most populous country, it is also increasingly seen as the place to be in football.

The big clubs are still active in China but operating there was far from simple even before the pandemic helped to produce a more inward-looking and insular business environment. It can be hard for European officials to get to grips with a lack of transparency, the language and a completely different social media model as well as concerns over corruption. Chinese companies and business people got heavily involved in European football for a while but there have been few attempts to go the other way – Sheffield United’s ownership of Chengdu Blades, starting in 2006, had its moments but did not last long.

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» Harry Kane draws on Spurs 2019 example as pointer for Bayern | Nick Ames

Striker sees parallels between run to the final five years ago and his current club’s European adventure amid domestic woe

Harry Kane emerged from the Emirates with the look of a man who had enjoyed himself. “I think they have a soft respect for me, the Arsenal fans,” he laughed, a glimmer of mischief crossing the striker’s face as he remembered the cacophony that had accompanied his every move upon returning to enemy territory. The jeers were never louder than when he stepped up to the penalty spot, blocking out the noise to roll calmly past David Raya and give Bayern Munich the upper hand.

Bayern felt they had just about departed with it, even though Leandro Trossard’s equaliser set up a titanic rematch in Munich next Wednesday. Kane’s demeanour could be explained by the fact Bayern, a soft touch domestically of late, had shown a resilience that has deserted their Bundesliga campaign. It had clearly encouraged him, suggesting that well-documented dream of a Wembley final for the England captain may not quite be a thing of fantasy after all.

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» From the top of the world to the bottom in consecutive football games | The Knowledge

Plus: the most far-apart country clash in the Euros, an excruciating marriage proposal and more

“During the international break, St Kitts and Nevis played a pair of friendlies against San Marino, who went in at 210th in the Fifa world rankings. Their next international will be a World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica, who are currently ranked 147 places higher than San Marino. I’d bet the farm on this not being the biggest gap in the rankings between consecutive international opponents: so what is?” asks Jack Hayward.

Stephan Wijnen gets the ball rolling from the recent Euro 2024 qualifiers. “The Netherlands played against France and Gibraltar on 24 and 27 March 2023. France were No 3 in the rankings at that time, with Gibraltar at No 200. That is a gap of 197 places. With 210 countries on the rankings that seems hard to beat.” From the same campaign, Carl O’Reilly points out the Republic of Ireland’s back-to-back games with Gibraltar (then No 201, on 19 June 2023) and France (No 2 on 7 September 2023), for a difference of 199 places.

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» Arsenal still have demons and Bayern show they will not be slain easily | Jonathan Wilson

The error that led to Serge Gnabry’s equaliser changed the game and helped end notions Arsenal might pull off their own 5-1 win

It wasn’t supposed to be this hard. In the opening 15 minutes, it didn’t look as though it was going to be this hard. In the end, it could have been a lot worse for Arsenal and a draw still gives them a reasonable chance of progression to the semi-final. They did have the wherewithal to find an equaliser. They got away with it. But the bigger issue is how they allowed a game they were dominating to slip from their grasp.

A penalty shootout win against Porto was evidently not enough to banish Arsenal’s European demons. But those demons are perhaps not confined to the Champions League. This has been a highly impressive season for them, a clear improvement on last year. But one doubt remains: when the going is good, Arsenal are very, very good, but what happens when things go awry?

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» Emma Hayes recites poetry and chat with son after Eidevall calls her ‘irresponsible’ – video

Emma Hayes quoted poetry and said she would follow advice she gave her son on how to avoid playground confrontations when asked on Friday about her touchline spat with Arsenal’s head coach, Jonas Eidevall. Hayes appeared to push Eidevall as they shook hands after Arsenal’s defeat of Chelsea in last month’s Continental League Cup final and accused him of “male aggression” – a comment criticised by the Swede on Friday as “very irresponsible”. “My son said to me after the game: ‘Mummy, when you push someone in school you’re asked to go and take time out.’ And I said to him: ‘You know what darling, you can’t meet aggression with aggression, all you can do is tell the teacher, all you can do is go and explain to the teacher why you think something’s unfair.’ “I said: ‘Even if the players go to the teacher, even if the parents go to the teacher, that’s all you can do. You cannot meet aggression with aggression.’ And I thought it was a really good conversation to have with my son after the final.”

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» 'We deserved to lose,' Klopp says after Liverpool go down to Atalanta – video

Liverpool have suffered a shock home 0-3 defeat to Atalanta in their Europa League quarter-final. Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp rang the changes at half-time, bringing on Mohamed Salah, Dominik Szoboszlai and Andy Robertson but it was Atalanta who struck again in the 60th minute before sealing a historic victory with a third goal seven minutes from time. 'We played a bad game. We deserved to lose,' Klopp said

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» Joe Kinnear: a look back at a memorable football career as player and manager – video

Former Tottenham defender and Wimbledon manager Joe Kinnear has died at the age of 77. Dublin-born Kinnear won the FA Cup, League Cup and Uefa Cup as a player with Spurs, before going on to manage Luton, Nottingham Forest and Newcastle among others. He brought success to his clubs, both as a player and a manager before retiring due to heart issues.

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» Players and fans celebrate as Athletic Club win Copa Del Rey to end 40-year trophy drought – video

Players and fans celebrated history after Athletic Bilbao beat Mallorca 4-2 on penalties to win their 24th Copa del Rey title and their first since 1984 - ending a 40-year trophy drought in a nerve-wracking final in Seville.

"There’s real pride in representing a community like Athletic," said one fan. Bilbao are the fourth oldest Spanish club and among three never to be relegated, alongside Real Madrid and Barcelona, while staying loyal to their unique philosophy of only fielding players of Basque origin. "This is one more dream I've fulfilled. I've dreamt about this moment so many times," said Basque-born winger Nico Williams.

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» ‘I wanted to ask why’: goalkeeper in Spain explains reaction to alleged racial abuse – video

Spanish football’s commitment to combatting racism has come under fire after its football federation handed a two-match ban to a goalkeeper who went into the stands to confront a man who had allegedly racially abused him. During a match between Rayo Majadahonda and Sestao River Club in a third-tier match, Cheikh Sarr said he heard racial slurs being hurled at him.

'Other times, it could be seen as something playful or a joke. However, this was not the case,' he said. 'I grabbed him and asked why he was insulting me. My attitude was not aggressive. I just wanted to ask him why.'

The match was suspended in the 84th minute after the referee sent off Sarr and his teammates walked off in protest. Days later, the Spanish Football Federation said that Sarr would be handed a two-match ban for 'conduct that was contrary to good sportsmanship'.

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» J.League footballer scores amazing goal from halfway line – video

Urawa Red Diamonds' Thiago Santana scored an amazing long-range goal from near the halfway line in 24th minute of the team's J.League match against FC Tokyo at the Japan National Stadium in Tokyo. Urawa Reds were ultimately beaten 2-1 but Thiago Santana's goal opened the scoring with excitement.

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» Ligue 1’s fourth spot in the Champions League is now Lille’s to lose

Nice, Lens, Rennes and Marseille all had eyes on Champions League football but Paulo Fonseca’s side are clear favourites

By Eric Devin for Get French Football News

The Ligue 1 table has been nip and tuck in its first season with 18 teams, Paris Saint-Germain, of course, the notable exception. Even though they have drawn four of their last six league matches, they still have a 10-point lead at the top of the table but below them, everything has been much tighter.

The two teams at the bottom of the table, Clermont and Metz, have remained competitive throughout the campaign and are rarely outclassed. The four sides above them – Nantes, Le Havre, Lorient and Montpellier – continue scrapping to avoid the relegation playoff, even if Montpellier’s win over Lorient this weekend has given them room to breathe. And as closely fought as the relegation battle has been, the jousting for Champions League spots has been even more intense.

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» Athletic Club beat Mallorca in Copa del Rey final to end 40-year trophy drought
  • Bilbao win 4-2 on penalties to clinch 24th Copa del Rey crown
  • Final had finished 1-1 after goals from Rodríguez and Sancet

Forty years and it all came down to a single kick. At 00.51 in the morning in Seville, Alex Berenguer stood by the penalty spot, handed one shot, one opportunity to seize everything they ever wanted. Across four decades and five consecutive defeated finals, Athletic Club had been close but never as close as this and they were not going to let go, not now. Berenguer skipped to one side, ran towards the ball, smashed it into the bottom corner of the net and just kept on running: over the advertising boards, across the track, and towards the thousands and thousands of fans celebrating their first major trophy in a generation.

Unmoor the barge they dared not name. Athletic’s traditional, almost mystical mode of transport when it comes to celebrating titles, its picture seemingly on every wall in the city, its mere mention provoking nostalgia and longing, can finally set sail again. Take it down the Nervión river and past San Mames for the first time since 1984. Back then, a million people lined the route; now, there may even be more. “There were ten commandments in the dressing room: one was not mentioning the barge; now I want to experience it for myself,” Nico Williams said. “It’s been 40 years, let’s see if it still floats,” joked Unai Simón.

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» ‘I wanted to ask why’: goalkeeper in Spain banned for reacting to alleged racial abuse
  • Cheikh Sarr of Rayo Majadahonda given two-match ban
  • Goalkeeper was sent off after going into crowd to confront fan

Spanish football’s commitment to combatting racism has come under fire after its football federation handed a two-match ban to a goalkeeper who went into the stands to confront a man who had allegedly racially abused him.

The accusations of racism – the latest to rock Spanish football in recent weeks – were launched on Saturday as Rayo Majadahonda took on Sestao River Club in a third-tier match in northern Spain. As the match ticked into its final moments, the Rayo Majadahonda goalkeeper Cheikh Sarr, who was born in Senegal, said he heard racial slurs being hurled at him.

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» MLS power rankings: Columbus have a Cucho Hernández problem

The Revs are in trouble, Dean Smith has things rolling in Charlotte and the champions have a headache up front

Welcome back to the Guardian’s MLS Power Rankings, where I have a beef with your specific team and your specific team alone. Unlike Cucho Hernández, we’re strapped in and ready rock.

Now, as a reminder, these aren’t your standard, run-of-the-mill power rankings. We’re still ranking teams from worst to first. But along with the rankings, we’re diving deep into a handful of teams from around the league who are doing particularly interesting things.

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» Trabzonspor given six-game spectator ban after fans attack Fenerbahce players
  • Trabzonspor supporters fought opposition players after defeat
  • Two Fenerbahce players suspended and given minor fines

Trabzonspor will play their next six home matches without spectators while two Fenerbahce players have been handed one-match bans over a post-game brawl last month, the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) ruled on Wednesday.

Trabzonspor supporters stormed the pitch and fought with security forces and Fenerbahce players after their team suffered a 3-2 home defeat at Papara Park, the latest in a number of incidents that have dogged the Turkish league this season.

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» Getafe ordered to temporarily close stand after racist and xenophobic abuse
  • Sevilla manager Sánchez Flores and Marcos Acuña targeted
  • Getafe forced to partially shut central stand for three matches

Getafe have been ordered to partially close their central stand for three matches by the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) following the racist and xenophobic abuse suffered by the Sevilla manager, Quique Sánchez Flores, and the player Marcos Acuña in the La Liga game on Saturday.

The referee Iglesias Villanueva stopped the match in the 68th minute as part of La Liga’s protocol against racism after he heard fans in the stands calling the Argentinian defender a “monkey” and the Spanish coach a “gypsy”. The club have also been fined €27,000 ($29,000).

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» Vietnam missing the glory days of Park Hang-seo as Indonesia step up

Team Garuda’s World Cup dream is alive as regional rivals struggle to build on transformational manager’s work

The two biggest metropolises in Vietnam feel different. Way up in the north, Hanoi sometimes seems more similar to a Chinese city than Ho Chi Minh City over 1,000 kilometres away in the south of the long thin nation. In the formerly named Saigon with its tropical south-east Asian air, residents shake their heads at the perceived coolness of the capital’s winters and people. They do share a few things however: mental traffic, an insistence that they have the best Vietnamese food and a love for football. Anyone who has witnessed the impromptu street parties in either city that celebrated the national team’s successes on the international stage over the past few years would agree.

And they share their disappointment at the growing realisation that such parties look to be a thing of the past. The national team was, not long ago, the best in south-east Asia – a football hotbed home to 650 million people – but is highly unlikely to come even close to a first World Cup in 2026, even with Asia’s increased automatic allocation of eight. Instead, a fall at the first hurdle is imminent. It wasn’t supposed to be like this when Philippe Troussier took over in February 2023. The Frenchman was to oversee the next step in the country’s football evolution from a regional power into a consistent continental force. Instead, he received his marching orders in March after 10 defeats in the last 11 games.

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» Will modern man Motta do an Alonso and stick with Bologna over Juventus? | Nicky Bandini

Manager once mocked for a throwaway line has his team shooting for the Champions League and admirers on his tail

The calendar showed 1 April, but there was nothing fishy about a league table that showed Bologna in fourth place. Thiago Motta’s side have held that spot for more than a month, even if it was striking to see after Monday’s 3-0 win over Salernitana that they had closed to within two points of Juventus in third. The gap was 20 at the start of February.

April Fools’s Day in Italy is known as Pesce d’Aprile – April Fish. The tradition is for children to stick paper pesci on people’s backs and see how long they go unnoticed, but journalists have been known to mark the occasion with made-up stories, as happens in other countries. Bologna supporters must hope the headlines now linking their manager to Juventus turn out to be fake news.

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» PSG have a long-term plan. Marseille are still stuck in short-termism

Luis Enrique has been given real authority to manage. PSG’s rivals at home and abroad should be concerned

By Luke Entwistle for Get French Football News

Wealth and wits have not always gone hand-in-hand at PSG under QSI’s ownership. Proclaiming their grand ambition of European dominance did little to make it a reality but, as the club transitions out of its galácticos era, there is an overriding feeling that the expensively assembled jigsaw is falling into place. Rivals have a right to be concerned.

The galácticos era felt borne out of desperation – but also naivety – whereas their new approach is based on longevity and the desire to mount a serious and sustained challenge. The club’s recent transfer business – which has significantly changed the age profile of the squad – as well as the appointment of Luis Enrique as manager are testament to that. Unlike his predecessors, Luis Enrique is being supported rather than undermined in his role. He can make what he deems tobe the right decisions for PSG’s future, rather than being coerced into pandering to individual needs.

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» The 100 best male footballers in the world 2023

Erling Haaland has been voted the best player in the world for 2023 by our 218-strong panel, with Jude Bellingham finishing second

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» The 100 best female footballers in the world 2023

Aitana Bonmatí, Sam Kerr and Salma Paralluelo top the list of female footballers in the world in 2023 according to our judges

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» Erling Haaland voted the world’s best player – and he’s just getting started | Niall McVeigh

The Norwegian is only 23 but his devastating goal record has seen him voted as the No 1 player in the world by the Guardian’s expert panel

When Pep Guardiola tearfully claimed Manchester City could not replace the departing Sergio Agüero in May 2021, he didn’t just create a meme. Guardiola was soft-launching a global audition for his team’s new attacking talisman. An unsuccessful pursuit of Harry Kane in the summer of 2021 came between two title-winning seasons where Ilkay Gündogan (13) and Kevin De Bruyne (15) were the club’s top league goalscorers. Guardiola’s slick creative machine needed a new front man, and they found him in Erling Haaland.

Like Agüero before him – and in contrast to many of City’s most successful Pep-era signings – Haaland arrived as a bona fide superstar, a plug-and-play addition to an already stellar lineup. Whether he was a bargain is another question. The release clause paid was €60m (£51.2m), but some reports suggest Haaland’s five-year deal could cost the club in the region of £300m. And while there was an ominous logic to the move for City’s rivals, questions remained.

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» Spain and Barcelona lead way in women’s football after year of success | Rich Laverty

Aitana Bonmatí the clear winner of the Guardian’s best 100 female footballers in the world with 15 Spaniards on the list

After Alexia Putellas reigned in 2021 and 2022, her Barcelona and Spain teammate Aitana Bonmatí has been crowned the top female footballer of 2023 by the Guardian’s panel of 112 experts. The World Cup winner triumphed by a clear margin, finishing more than 500 points ahead of second-placed Sam Kerr.

Injuries and a World Cup meant there was a definite changing of the guard feel to this year’s list, sadly emphasised by the fact last year’s top two – Putellas and Beth Mead – missed a large chunk of our 12-month voting period with ACL injuries.

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» Champions League needs true golden eggs to bring back unmissable spectacle | Jonathan Wilson

The same old teams in the same old patterns – which is why last eight must not be yet another procession for Europe’s elite

This time, nobody can blame the draw. The last 16 of this season’s Champions League was a drab, largely unimpressive thing, salvaged to an extent by its final week as Arsenal came through a fraught second leg against Porto and Atlético Madrid came from 2-0 down on aggregate to eliminate Internazionale on penalties. But for the most part it was a plod of the predictable and the uninspired.

To an extent that was simply a function of the ties, a mixture of mismatches and clashes between sides who for one reason or another have been out of sorts this season. Even the meeting of the Spanish and Italian champions felt weirdly insignificant given how disappointing Barcelona and Napoli have been.

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» FA must act now and help England bridge gap to Spain in women’s football | Kelly Simmons

World Cup winners also have ominously dominant youth sides, and catching them up cannot be done on a shoestring

As I stood in Stadium Australia in Sydney last August after the final whistle, pondering England’s World Cup final defeat, I couldn’t help but think that was our one chance to conquer the world and add that illustrious star to our shirt. “Don’t be too disheartened,” people told me, “there will be another chance in four years’ time”, and of course, in football, there is always another opportunity. The Lionesses have a world-class coach in Sarina Wiegman and an exciting blend of experience and youth. But as I watched Spain lift the trophy, I thought this was a side and elite system that could dominate world football for the next decade.

If youth success is an indicator of what’s to come, then Spain will be a global force for some time. Their vaunted set-up is producing some of the most technically gifted and skilful players in the world and this is translating into international success at youth level with Under-17 World Cup wins in 2018 and 2022 and Under-20 success in 2022. Many of the players involved haven’t broken into the senior team yet, which is a daunting thought for those other countries, including England, trying to catch up.

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» Heady days of Sven Göran-Eriksson’s England sit in contrast to flag furore | Jonathan Liew

Emotional scenes at Anfield remind us that the Three Lions’ first foreign manager grasped the role is meant to be fun

The cross stuff. Has it gone yet? Is it safe to open the curtains? Will the people of England once again be free to go about their business without being harassed by purple-faced flag-botherers waggling their purple-flag outrage? Purple – infamously – being the wokest of all the colours, never more so than when displayed on the woke crown jewels worn by the disdainfully woke Queen Elizabeth II.

The first thing to say about the England flag controversy – and don’t worry, we shan’t dwell long – is that it is so evidently and unapologetically a fuss about nothing, an object lesson in how right-leaning media can basically conjure a whirlpool of feverish anger out of thin air. Play a tune loudly enough and eventually all the usual suspects will get up and boogie: Crumpled of Ashfield, the guy who got out-jumped by Diego Maradona, some frowning factotum from the Daily Telegraph who suddenly seems to care an awful lot about preserving Plantagenet heritage and is definitely not being triggered by a piece of breathable fabric for money.

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» Football Daily | Dundee deluges and Rangers getting righteous over a soggy Scottish pitch

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Located in the central lowlands of Scotland on the north bank of the Firth of Tay, just a few skims of a stone from the perishingly cold north sea, Dundee is often subject to inclement weather. On average it rains there 125 days a year and in recent weeks some of the heavier deluges have stymied Dundee’s attempts to host their Scottish Premiership match against Rangers. Last month’s game was kiboshed because the Dens Park pitch was rendered unplayable after a downpour and the game was rescheduled for Wednesday night. Due to be broadcast live on Sky and with 4,000 Rangers fans preparing to make the 80-mile trip from Glasgow, it once again fell foul of the weather, with referee Don Robertson deeming the pitch unplayable following his second inspection of the day. It is rare that one man’s solemn and often futile attempts to bounce a football in various parts of a quagmire have been subject to so much public scrutiny, but such was the air of gravitas lent to Robertson’s inspection they were afforded the liveblog treatment from the Daily Record’s digital news wing and subsequently prompted a furious reaction from Rangers.

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» Harry Kane returns to haunt Arsenal but Erling Haaland stifled – Football Weekly podcast

Max Rushden is joined by Barry Glendenning, Nicky Bandini, Will Unwin and Sid Lowe after two belting Champions League quarter-finals first legs

Rate, review, share on Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, Audioboom, Mixcloud, Acast and Stitcher, and join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and email.

On the podcast today; Real Madrid and Manchester City scored lots of very good goals in a game that finished 3-3, and the panel debate whether it’s notable that Erling Haaland didn’t get one of them.

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» Football Daily | Shots! Shots! Shots! But Liverpool still let United off the hook

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Considering 14 different teams have beaten Manchester United this season, you could have been forgiven for presuming Liverpool would finally add their name to the list at the third time of asking. Going into the weekend’s fixtures, much of the talk was about who would blink first as they contest the title with Arsenal and Manchester City, and on Sunday we got our answer. As Crystal Palace and Brighton fell to emphatic defeats against Liverpool’s only challengers, all eyes turned to Old Trafford. Most were left staring in slack-jawed amazement as they peppered the United goal and assorted fans behind it, the number of shots more common at happy hour in a trendy Magaluf nightspot, but somehow only scored two goals. They weren’t enough to secure all three points and, despite United suffering their third consecutive bombardment in eight days, it was Liverpool who needed a penalty to come from behind and rescue a point.

I couldn’t help notice that there’s not much football on tonight, except for Serie A (although this isn’t the 1990s and there’s no Football Italia, even if ITV have suddenly decided otherwise) so, just to see what the quality is like, I may tune in to watch the Saudi Super Cup (apropos of nothing, I wonder if they’re holding the final in Spain? Just a thought). Presumably, some marketing bod has already called it ‘Al Clasico’?” – Noble Francis.

This Big Website article about a hermit crab contains the immortal line about Saint Piran: ‘His spells as a hermit attracted particular admiration and, when he rediscovered tin, his popularity among the locals became legendary.’ Is it possible your weird elderly relative is older than we thought?” – Kevin Davey.

This is an extract from our daily football email … Football Daily. To get the full version, just visit this page and follow the instructions.

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» Africa’s female players are excelling: no Wafcon in 2024 would be a travesty

African women’s football has the world’s attention but this year’s continental competition is in danger of being cancelled

After Morocco staged what was arguably the best-organised Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (Wafcon) in 2022, this year’s edition, set to be played in the same country, was expected to be a significant step in raising the profile of the women’s game in the continent. If, that is, it goes ahead.

With the credible performances of South Africa, Nigeria and Morocco at last year’s Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand – all three teams reaching the last 16 – this year’s tournament is expected to be the most keenly contested since its inception in 1998.

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» Has a footballer ever made a marriage proposal during a match? | The Knowledge

Plus: managers taking charge of every club they played for and ‘winners’ after the 96th minute that turn out not to be winners

Josh Cavallo proposing to his now fiance in Adelaide United’s empty stadium got me thinking: has a player ever popped the question during a match? And did the proposee say yes?” wonders Jack Hayward.

Some superb answers were sent in on this one, so thanks to Joran and Corentine Hatfield for bringing the romance back into our lives. “Let’s first set the atmosphere,” begins Joran, self confessed fan of football and love. “Standard Liège’s magnificent stadium was full as an egg (as the saying goes in Belgium), on 24 October 2022. The “clasico” against Anderlecht is the most important fixture of the season for Liège fans. Standard were winning 3-1 but the game was stopped around the 60th minute, because of Anderlecht supporters throwing fire on the pitch.

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» David Squires on … Nottingham Forest and Everton playing the waiting game

Our resident cartoonist on a nervous time for the two Premier League clubs with the looming threat of relegation

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» Were Emma Hayes’ comments about Eidevall fair? – Women’s Football Weekly podcast

Faye Carruthers is joined by Suzanne Wrack, Sophie Lawson, and Sophie Downey to discuss the Continental Cup Final and WSL action

On today’s pod, the panel discusses Arsenal winning their seventh League Cup title as they shatter Chelsea’s hopes of winning a quadruple. But it was Emma Hayes who grabbed the headlines after the game. Were her comments on Jonas Eidevall’s touchline behaviour fair?

Plus, the panel purrs over Khadija Shaw after she netted twice in Manchester City’s 4-1 triumph over Liverpool taking them to the top of the WSL. Meanwhile, there are two for Toone as the other side of Manchester also won 4-1 against the other side of Merseyside.

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» Golden goal: Wayne Rooney for Manchester United v Fenerbahce (2004)

The teenage signing from Everton captured the imagination at Old Trafford with a storybook debut hat-trick

For all the adulation modern footballers receive, most will never comprehend the impact they have on young people. Sure, you get 21st-century icons such as Jack Grealish or James Maddison, who cut through all that silly public scrutiny on their hair or fashion choices and manage to connect with young supporters, but the vast majority can never truly know what they mean to fans.

I’ve worked in football journalism for almost a decade and met a fair few figures who could be deemed idols. Going to a José Mourinho press conference as a student on work experience was surreal. Making my first visit to the Old Trafford press box felt like a landmark as a boyhood Manchester United fan, as was shaking hands with Ole Gunnar Solskjær after covering a United pre-season friendly in Norway.

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» Dear Uefa, why have we been fined €5,000 for ‘Uefa mafia’ chants?

The words were audible in our women’s game but as president of Brann, I argue they are within freedom of expression

Have you ever been fined for expressing something that is clearly within international legislation on freedom of expression? We have. In a Women’s Champions League match in Bergen this year.

For a short period of our game against St Pölten in January our supporters chanted “Uefa mafia” after not being awarded a free-kick. Big deal? Apparently so as we were fined €5,000 (£4,275) by Uefa for it. In women’s football, that is a lot of money and about 10% of the prize money for winning the match.

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» ‘Everything is possible’: YMCA football team’s rise to Norwegian top flight

Oslo community club KFUM will make their Eliteserien debut next week after an incredible rise through the divisions

Football’s ability to conjure ridiculous stories is legion, but even so the one about the YMCA club in Norway’s Eliteserien is ridiculous. Yet that is exactly where KFUM-Kameratene Oslo find themselves: on Tuesday, they make their top-flight debut with a home game against HamKam.

Though KFUM remain a local community club – their ground holds only 3,000 and is accessed via a zebra crossing – their rise has been meticulously planned. “We have learned year by year,” says Tor-Erik Stenberg, the general manager. “Small changes to be more and more and more professional.” So they began by giving players amateur contracts, then moved training from evening to daytime, then focused on better marketing, and so on; this season, fortified with the funds to improve more than one aspect, they have added a match analyst, expanded their medical department, and taken the team abroad for warm-weather training.

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» Euro 2024 power rankings: a look at the 24 teams going to Germany

While France and England are among the favourites, Austria could spring a surprise

This was not a vintage window for Didier Deschamps’ side with a home defeat against Germany followed up by a shaky 3-2 win against Chile in Marseille. The captain, Kylian Mbappé, had a difficult few days and the absence of Antoine Griezmann, who missed his first France games for seven years because of injury, was clearly felt. There were positives, however, with the 18-year-old Warren Zaïre-Emery having a good game against Germany and Randal Kolo Muani scoring and assisting against Chile. Deschamps made nine changes for the second game with William Saliba getting a rare start in Marseille, even though the coach had said beforehand that the Arsenal player “does things he doesn’t like”. Still the team to beat. Marcus Christenson

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» ‘I cried, it was beautiful’: Sven-Göran Eriksson fulfils his Liverpool dream

Childhood fan, who is dying of pancreatic cancer, managed the home side to victory over Ajax at Anfield in a legends match

Anfield was packed, the Liverpool squad boasted 985 caps and seven Champions League winners. The match was not the most competitive occasion the stadium will host this season but it was one of the most memorable on an emotional and perfect day for Sven-Göran Eriksson.

The Swede watched on as Liverpool came back from two goals down to win a cerebral thriller 4-2. Eriksson listened to the Kop serenade the boyhood fan with You’ll Never Walk Alone, making an old man very happy. He might have wanted a crack at the Premier League with Liverpool but 90 minutes on a cold March day was more than enough for the former England manager who has less than a year to live after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

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» Next Generation 2023: 60 of the best young talents in world football

From Warren Zaïre-Emery to Endrick, we select some of the best players born in 2006. Check the progress of our classes of 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018

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» Next Generation 2023: 20 of the best talents at Premier League clubs

We pick the best youngsters at each club born between 1 September 2006 and 31 August 2007, an age band known as first-year scholars. Check the progress of our classes of 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 and look at the editions from further back

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» From Saka to Ackermann: what happened to Next Generation 2018?

Five years ago we picked 80 of the most talented players in the world to follow their progress in a cut-throat business

It is the time of year when we check in on the Next Generation players we picked in 2018 to follow for five years, to assess their progress amid success, setbacks, injuries, trophies won and transfers made.

Next Generation started in 2014 with the aim of showing the difficulties that even the best prospects in the Premier League (we pick one from each club at first-year scholar age) and the rest of the world (we choose 60 born in a specific calendar year) face on their way towards the top.

A defensively minded midfielder who is incredibly strong (he used to be a wrestler) but with an excellent touch to go with his physicality. Made his debut in the Swedish top flight as a 16-year-old last year and captained Sweden as they reached the quarter-finals of the Euro Under-17 tournament in England this summer. Has taken an unusual path to the top. He left the top-flight side IFK Göteborg for sixth division Angered MBIK as a 14-year-old as he felt that he was not getting the right support for his football education. Another Gothenburg club, Häcken, snapped him up in 2017 and he made his senior debut that season. Has signed a new contract with the club from Hisingen until 2021 despite interest from Real Madrid and Benfica and trials at both Manchester clubs.

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