Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Ancelotti will not push out Gotze at Bayern says; Khedira

Ancelotti will not push out Gotze at Bayern - Khedira
The World Cup winner has been heavily linked with a move away from the Bundesliga champions this summer but the Juventus midfielder does not expect him to leave
Sami Khedira does not believe rumours that incoming Bayern Munich coach Carlo Ancelotti has told Mario Gotze he is no longer needed at the Allianz Arena.
Gotze's future with the Bundesliga champions remains shrouded in doubt with reports suggesting the attacking midfielder is surplus to requirements after struggling for form and fitness this season.
Sportmasta understands Liverpool have cooled their interest in the World Cup winner after the 23-year-old recently stated his desire to stay and fight for his chance under Ancelotti.
Juventus midfielder Khedira, who worked with Ancelotti at Real Madrid, is adamant the Italian coach would never force any player to leave and expects his Germany team-mate to be given a fair opportunity.

"Carlo is not the kind of person to push out any players. On the contrary, he would like to keep his squad together," Khedira told Sport Bild.
"Mario is an experienced player despite his young age. Of course, he still has a thing or two to learn and develop personally. But I cannot imagine Carlo saying he does not want him in his team.
"I remember that Gonzalo Higuain wanted to leave Madrid, but Ancelotti did everything he could to keep him on board.

I want to succeed at Madrid, but Premier League offers are 'tempting' says; Morata.

Morata: I want to succeed at Madrid, but Premier League offers are 'tempting'
The Spain international is keen to return to the Bernabeu but admits the English top flight would be a "great destination" and feels it would suit his characteristics
Alvaro Morata has spoken of his desire to succeed at Real Madrid, but admits to being tempted by a potential Premier League move.
Morata, 23, is expected to leave Juventus and return to the La Liga giants, who reportedly hold a buy-back clause.
The Spain international has been linked with a move to England, with Arsenal believed to be interested.
But Morata said he was keen to succeed at home-town club Madrid, who celebrated a Champions League win on Saturday.
"Clearly that is what I would like. That is my wish, to succeed in Madrid," he told AS.
"But in Madrid there are great players. And what I want is to play and feel important."
However, Morata said a potential move to the Premier League was also worth thinking about.

He scored 15 Serie A goals in two seasons at Juve, while netting seven times in the Champions League.
"There are some offers from England that are tempting, not only by contract," Morata said.
"I think for my characteristics the Premier League would also be a great destination.
"I'm saying a move to the Premier League would not be a step backwards. With what I have learned in Italy, if I have the chance to learn something more in England I think it would make me a more complete, better player.
"I'm 23 and all I want is progress, to play and learn from the best."
Ibrahimovic hints at Malmo return
The Sweden international striker has given fans hope he could return to his old stomping ground sooner rather than later as speculation over his future continues
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has suggested he could make a surprise return to his boyhood club Malmo amid reports linking him with a move to Manchester United.
The evergreen Sweden striker is available on a free transfer after deciding to end his stay at Paris Saint-Germain following the expiry of his contract at the end of a season that saw him plunder 50 goals in all competitions.
Ibrahimovic, 34, has subsequently been linked with a move to the Premier League and United where he would be reunited with new manager Jose Mourinho, who he worked with during his time at Inter.
However, Ibrahimovic's agent Mino Raiola recently downplayed claims his client is set to move to Old Trafford, stressing his next club will come as a surprise to many.

Ibrahimovic returned to his city of birth on Monday for Sweden's friendly against Slovenia which he was forced to sit out with a calf problem, but the former Barcelona forward hinted fans could soon see him in action again at the Swedbank Stadion.
"I love Malmo and I wish I could play," Ibrahimovic said in an address to fans before kick-off.
"I apologise for that, but I will [play here again], I will. Just wait for me."

Juventus go all out for Champions League with Alves & Pjanic pursuits

Juventus go all out for Champions League with Alves & Pjanic pursuits
After watching an average but experienced Real Madrid side claim an 11th European Cup on Saturday, the Bianconeri now know they can conquer the continent by signing proven winners

There's an old saying in football: 'You don't play well in finals; you win them'. Saturday's Champions League showdown at San Siro was a perfect case in point. Real Madrid were the victors - yet there is no way that they could lay claim to being the best team in Europe.

Atletico beat two better sides in the last eight and the semis. Real weren't even the better side on the night. They are least impressive winners of the Champions League since Chelsea in 2012.

To some sensitive souls, that might sound like the kind of bitterness propagated by the 50,000 clowns who signed a petition to have Los Blancos stripped of their first five European Cups, but it's merely a conclusion based on the fact that Real went through the entire tournament without having to face a single former winner of the continental competition.

Also, at no point during the knockout stage - the supposed business end of the Champions League - did they have to take on a domestic title winner, either from this season or last. Their performance in the final was average at best.

On an individual level, Sergio Ramos once again proved a man for the big occasion, Casemiro underlined both his worth and importance to Zinedine Zidane's side, while Gareth Bale ran himself into ground. However, while it was nice of Cristiano Ronaldo to turn up for the final spot-kick in the penalty shootout, in truth, Madrid's star men did not shine at San Siro.

Despite that, they found a way to win. Just as they had two years ago against the same situation. Also, this was their 11th European Cup triumph as a club. Madrid know how to win and, as Ronaldo shrewdly pointed out afterwards: "Our team showed more experience and we showed it by scoring all the penalties."

Experience and belief count for a lot when it comes to conquering Europe, which is precisely why Juventus are presently on the verge of signing both Dani Alves and Javier Mascherano from Barcelona.

The Bianconeri could hardly be accused of lacking winners. Several members of their squad have won five successive Scudetti, as well as back-to-back doubles. However, they have fallen short in Europe for the past two seasons.

However, as former Juve striker Gianluca Vialli told Goal on Monday: "They deservedly got to the final last year and they only lost to an unbeatable Barcelona side. This year, they went out to Bayern Munich but they were 30 seconds from knocking them out. So, I think that they are there or thereabouts, alongside the rest of the top clubs in Europe."

Indeed, it was difficult not to look at Saturday's final and suspect that the Bianconeri would have beaten Real; just as they did in the semis 12 months ago. Consequently, Juve's summer transfer strategy is about quality rather than quantity. Their primary concern is on recruiting players capable of taking that one final step towards Champions League glory. They want winners.

In that sense, the likely acquisitions of Dani Alves and Mascherano make sense. The pair may be 33 and 31, respectively, but they have lifted five Champions League trophies between them. Furthermore, while Alves may no longer be as dynamic as he once was, he remains the most dangerous attacking right-back in the world. Given he is likely to be entrusted with a wing-back role in Turin, with the best back three in the game stationed behind him, it is easy to envisage him flourishing with even less defensive responsibilities than he is used to at Barca.

Mascherano would also be reinvigorated by a move to Juventus Stadium. The Argentine wants to return to his original defensive midfield role - and the Bianconeri are offering him the opportunity to do just that. Besides, regardless of his position, Mascherano still plays the game with the kind of intensity and drive that are considered prerequisites at Juve. He looks a perfect fit for the Old Lady.

Of course, the same could also be said of Miralem Pjanic. While Juve are intent on adding even more experience to their ranks, they also covet Pjanic's precision passing and set-piece skills. The Roma ace struck 10 times in Serie A last season - on four occasions from free-kicks - and created 12 goals. He would represent an ideal addition to a Juve midfield still coming to terms with the loss of Andrea Pirlo, whose provided poise and dead-ball deliveries of the highest order.
Bianconeri boss Massimiliano Allegri is a huge admirer of the Bosnian but, as it stands, the Italian champions remain reluctant to meet his €37 million buy-out clause.
 However, given Juve are poised to land the extra little bit of experience they are presently lacking at very low cost, they may ultimately decide that Pjanic's fee is a price worth paying. After all, as Ronaldo's Madrid underlined on Saturday at San Siro, composure and experience are precious commodities in the modern game. By signing Pjanic, Alves and Mascherano, Juve would be acquiring a healthy mix of both.

Sportmasta readers name Ronaldo the Champions League's best player

Goal readers name Ronaldo the Champions League's best player
The Real Madrid forward has been overwhelmingly recognised by responders to our poll after an electrifying European campaign in which he scored 16 goals on his way to the trophy
Goal readers have voted Cristiano Ronaldo as the best player of the Champions League season by an overwhelming margin.
The Real Madrid star was victorious again on Saturday, scoring the winning penalty in the shooutout as they defeated bitter rivals Atletico Madrid in a repeat of the 2014 final.
It capped another incredible year for Ronaldo, who scored 16 goals in the Champions League alone, and 60.8 per cent of readers were agreed that he was the competition's biggest standout.

His closest rival was a long way behind but Atleti's Antoine Griezmann had a fine campaign himself, his goals against the likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich convincing 16.6% of voters to back him for the crown.
Two more Madrid players were also in the running, with veteran defender Sergio Ramos backed by 9.5% and emerging star Casemiro receiving 5.1% of the vote.

I dreamed of Champions League win after getting Real Madrid job. says Zidane

The French coach says his positive attitude has made a difference at the Spanish giants as he guided the club to an 11th European Crown at San Siro on Saturday
Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane reflected on a dream triumph after his side won the Champions League in a tense final against Atletico Madrid on penalties in Milan.
Just five months after taking over from the sacked Rafael Benitez, the 43-year-old became the first Frenchman to win the title as a head coach and only the seventh man ever to win it as a player and boss after a 5-3 win in the shoot-out followed a 1-1 draw.
Zidane revealed the success had made him feel as proud as former Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti had told him such a triumph would.
He said: "I dreamed this, yes. When the president gave me the opportunity to coach this great club, I knew we could achieve something big.

GOAL READ MORE   | Beckham congratulates Zidane
"It's huge! Ancelotti told me he hoped I would be able to lift the trophy as a head coach. He told me: 'If you have a chance of winning as coach, you'll see it feels nothing like winning the final as a player' and he was right - it's a massive joy.
"What I've brought is my positive attitude. We have quality, but hard work is even more important – and we've all worked hard.
"When you achieve what we've achieved all season it means you've done well, that the messages have got through, that the players have followed me and that I've followed them. That's how we've managed to win this Champions League.
"I have now won Champions League as player, assistant and now head coach - what can I say? I am very proud to be part of this great club for a long time now.
"When you have players of this calibre, with this talent, you can achieve something big like we have.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Guardiola's double-trouble... he's about to cross paths with Jose again

Guardiola's double-trouble... he's about to cross paths with Jose againLouis van Gaal and Pep Guardiola both won domestic cups on Saturday night but both will have the Special One on their minds as their seasons close with silverware
There has been a huge Jose Mourinho-shaped shadow cast over Old Trafford since the day he was sacked by Chelsea in December. The sense of inevitability about his ascension to Louis van Gaal's job lingers around the Theatre of Dreams like a ghost. 

Van Gaal had not even plonked the FA Cup trophy on the Wembley press conference table on Saturday night before the news of the Special One's imminent arrival again arose. He was not permitted even a full hour of celebration before being all but out of a job. That's Jose. 

Over in Berlin, meanwhile, news of Mourinho's mooted installation at United was probably irking another cup-winning former Barcelona coach about to move on. Pep Guardiola signed off as Bayern Munich coach with a second double in three seasons - after a penalty shootout win over Borussia Dortmund - and will immediately plot the fortunes of Manchester City. 

And that feeling of dread experienced by Van Gaal, of being stalked by Jose Mourinho, is one familiar to Pep. Mourinho wore Guardiola down when the two were in charge at Real Madrid at Barcelona respectively. Their battles in the press and by proxy through their players on the field gave the Clasico some of its most memorable if nasty contests of all time. There were eye-pokes, red cards and frequent outburst on both sides. Guardiola did not enjoy working opposite Mourinho, lost a Champions League to him as well as a Liga crown. Mourinho dragged him down, broke him and took his titles. 

When Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano rocked up at the Etihad for the first time, it looked a certainty that Guardiola would one day take over City. Likewise, from the day Sir Alex Ferguson overlooked Jose to succeed him at Old Trafford it always seemed destined that Jose would take his vengeance by landing the hottest seat in football. And now they drift together again. 

GOAL READ MORE  | REPORT: Bayern beat Dortmund on penalties

Guardiola has had four years Jose-free. But even their distance was not great enough for Mourinho to resist pot shots. Instead of celebrating his Premier League title with Chelsea last season, the Portuguese instead contented himself with insulting his counterpart for working a league where "the kit man" could win. Two doubles in three seasons, by any measure though, is impressive.

Mourinho the anti-Pep; never has him far from his thoughts. Pep wants the ball, Jose wants his opponents to have it. Mourinho riles up his players, fans and anyone else he can think of in press conferences, Pep hasn't granted a single interview in three years in Munich. They both come from the same school - the Cruyff - Robson - Van Gaal axis at Barcelona but are neither similar nor friendly. Jose is comfortable in his villainous role as Barca's fallen angel while Pep still embodies its purest ideals.

Pep's Barcelona were never quite the same once Jose took over at Santiago Bernabeu and he won't get one second of peace in the Premier League either. The world's most noxious managerial rivalry is about to land in Manchester.

The story behind the infamous Mourinho-Guardiola relationship

The story behind the infamous Mourinho-Guardiola relationshipThe two men were once close when they worked together at Barcelona, but they later fell out in spectacular style during the Portuguese's time as coach of Real Madrid in 2011A rivalry renewed. With Pep Guardiola to take over at Manchester City in the summer and Jose Mourinho confirmed by Manchester United, one of football's famous feuds is ready for another chapter.

Guardiola and Mourinho worked together for four years at Barcelona. The Catalan was a midfield lynchpin back then; the Portuguese an assistant to Bobby Robson and later Louis van Gaal.

A lot has happened since. With Van Gaal relieved of his duties by United on Monday, Mourinho waited in the wings to replace his former mentor in the Old Trafford hotseat. No love lost there. And across the city divide, the 53-year-old will clash once again with a former friend and recent foe in Guardiola.

Back in their time together at Camp Nou, Pep and Jose shared a mutual admiration. Guardiola, although still a player, was considered a future coach even then and was known as one of the game's deep thinkers. And the Catalan admired Mourinho's analytical approach to football. At the training ground, the two men spent long hours talking tactics.

When Frank Rijkaard left Barcelona in 2008, Mourinho wanted the coach's job and in his Powerpoint presentation to Blaugrana officials in Lisbon, he outlined his blueprint to former vice-president Marc Ingla. And in that meeting, he named Guardiola as one of his possible assistants.

But Barca had other ideas. Txiki Begiristain, sporting director at the time, favoured a move for Guardiola and the Catalan was appointed as first-team coach after a sole season at Barca B. Mourinho was not amused.

Pep's spectacular spell at Barca began with a treble triumph in 2008-09, but in his second season the former club captain crossed paths with Mourinho in the Champions League - and the Portuguese had the last laugh by eliminating the Blaugrana in the semi-finals with Inter en route to the title.

The Portuguese infuriated Barca fans - and some of the players, including goalkeeper Victor Valdes - by celebrating wildly on the Camp Nou pitch, but before the game Guardiola had spoken highly of his former colleague. "I didn't know he would make it this far," he said in the pre-match press conference. "If I had known Mourinho had this talent as a coach, I would have gone and told the president."

Mourinho's Inter went on to beat Van Gaal's Bayern Munich in the final at the Santiago Bernabeu and after the match, the Portuguese announced that he would be leaving the Italian club. His destination? Real Madrid.

In January, Pep and Jose sat together at the Ballon d'Or ceremony and all seemed well. "We spoke, commented on the gala, the pianist, who was really good, we gave each other a couple of elbows and nothing more," the Catalan joked.

By that point, they had faced each other in just one Clasico clash - an outrageously one-sided 5-0 win for the Blaugrana at Camp Nou in late November. But things later came to a head as Barca and Madrid met five times in a tumultuous 17-day period in April.

After a tense 1-1 draw at the Santiago Bernabeu in La Liga on April 16, they met again four days later in the final of the Copa del Rey at Mestalla. And following a tight first half, Pedro thought he had broken the deadlock when he latched onto a pass from Lionel Messi and fired past Iker Casillas. 

FULL STORY | How Mourinho undermined Van Gaal's reign at United

However, his strike was ruled offside. Guardiola waved his finger in disapproval, but replays showed the officials' decision was correct as Pedro was indeed a fraction beyond the last Madrid defender, Alvaro Arbeloa, and Real went on to win in extra time as Cristiano Ronaldo headed home from an Angel Di Maria cross.

In a packed press room after the match, Guardiola appeared to question the decision. "The assistant must have great eyesight to spot that Pedro was two centimetres offside," the Catalan coach quipped.

But six days later, ahead of the Champions League semi-final first leg clash between the two teams at the Bernabeu, Mourinho mocked the words of his Barca counterpart.

"We have started a new cycle," he began. "Up until now there was a very small group of coaches who didn't talk about referees and a very large group, in which I am included, who criticise referees. Now, with Pep's comments, we have started a new era with a third group, in which there is only him, that criticises the referee when he makes correct decisions. This is completely new to me."

The Portuguese's provocations had finally got to Guardiola and with a Champions League semi-final between the two teams ahead, the former Barca boss chose to react this time with a statement of intent - in the Bernabeu press room of all places.

"Senor Mourinho has permitted himself the luxury of calling me Pep, so I will call him Jose," Guardiola said. "Which one is your camera, Jose? All of them, I suppose... Tomorrow at 8.45pm we face each other on the pitch. He has won the battle off the pitch. If he wants his own personal Champions League trophy away from the pitch, let him take it home and enjoy it.

"In this room, Mourinho is the f***ing chief, the f***ing boss. He knows all about this and I don't want to compete with him in here. I'd just like to remind him that I worked with him for four years [at Barcelona]. He knows me and I know him.

"If he prefers to value the views of the journalist friends who take their information in a drip feed from Florentino Perez more than the relationship we had for four years, then, that's his choice. I try to learn from Jose on the pitch, but I prefer to learn as little as possible from him off the pitch."

When he returned to his hotel dining room, the Barca players stood to greet Guardiola with a round of applause. And on the pitch a day later, the Blaugrana beat Madrid 2-0 to leave the Portuguese complaining about referees and dreaming up conspiracy theories in his infamous "Por que?" ("Why?") rant against the Catalan club.

The following season, Mourinho's Madrid won La Liga (still the only team to beat a Pep side to a league title) and Guardiola stepped down to take a sabbatical at the end of the 2011-12 campaign. He was tired of life at Barca by now and, although he would not say so, the constant clashes with the Portuguese had taken their toll.

The two men met once more in Pep's first game at Bayern in 2013 as the German side beat Chelsea on penalties in the UEFA Super Cup, but they have not faced each other again until now. And this time, their rivalry will be intensified again as they coach in the same city as managers of Manchester's two rival clubs.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Ancelotti: Milan were sure of winning 2007 final against Liverpool

Image result for 2007 uefa champions league finalAhead of Saturday's Champions League final in Milan, Goal columnist Carlo Ancelotti looks back on the Rossoneri's shot at revenge over the Reds in AthensPlayers and coaches always insist in public that the identity of their opponents in a final is irrelevant; that winning is all that matters. 

However, Carlo Ancelotti has admitted in another exclusive interview with Goal that he and his former AC Milan charges had revenge on their minds when they met Liverpool in the 2007 Champions League final.

The Rossoneri suffered a devastating defeat to the Reds in Istanbul two years previously, losing on penalties after blowing a 3-0 half-time lead. As a result, they were only too happy to play the Anfield outfit again, this time in Athens, as they felt certain of victory...

Should Real Madrid’s first five European Cups be stripped?

Should Real Madrid’s first five European Cups be stripped?Over 50,000 people have signed a petition asking UEFA take los Blancos' titles away from them on the grounds that the tournament was nothing like the Champions League of today
Real Madrid take on city rivals Atletico Madrid in the Champions League final in Milan on Saturday, with the Blancos hoping to claim their 11th European Cup.

However, there are those that believe that Real's first five triumphs - between 1956 and 1960 - should not count. Last week it emerged that 50,000 people have already signed a petition calling on UEFA to rewrite the record books on the grounds that, structurally speaking, the old European Cup bares little resemblance to the modern-day Champions League.

Below, Goal's Miranda Charlatan and Mark Doyle go head to head on an issue that has already sparked several arguments among our readership...


By Miranda Charlatan

Real Madrid were the most successful club of the 1950s, there's absolutely no getting around that fact. Alfredo Di Stefano, Francisco Gento, Ferenc Puskas… these were legendary players and deserved European champions.

So why throw Real Madrid's Decima in the dustbin by discounting those first five titles?

UEFA made the choice to change the very foundation of the European Cup in 1997. It had morphed into the Champions League in 1992 but, five years later, it went from a tournament of league champions to a competition flooded with runners up, third-placed stragglers and distant fourths.

La Liga will have five entrants into next year's Champions League, just like it did last year. Why is anyone surprised that Spanish sides do so well? UEFA's system allows the rich to stay rich!

Football fans accept the dilution because it means they get to see as many of the best players in the world play on the same stage as possible. But it's time UEFA faced the music and stops pretending the modern Champions League bears any resemblance to the European Cup of 1955-56.

When we talk about Premier League titles, how many have Liverpool won? None. But if you look at English football history, they have been crowned top tier champions 18 times, a number only beaten by Manchester United (20).

So why is it one rule for the Premier League and another for the Champions League? Real Madrid have won the post-1997 version of UEFA's top European tournament four times and two of those victories were not on the back of league victories.

In fact, including this season's Champions League, the final will not have been won by a reigning league champion since 2011. Since the rule change in 1997, only eight of the 19 tournaments have been won by one.

Real Madrid shouldn't be too bothered if we stop counting their European Cup triumphs – if they win Saturday's final, they will be outright top in terms of Champions League titles. They'll be halfway to a modern Decima.

Let's draw a line at 1992 and accept everything that came before was in a different era, under different rules. European club football is completely different today but Real Madrid remain a dominant force – just in a completely new competition.


By Mark Doyle

So, over 50,000 people have signed a petition calling for Real Madrid to be stripped of their first five European Cups. Now, you might be thinking, 'That's interesting. Maybe they have a valid argument." Well, it's not. And they don't. Indeed, as a great man once said, "People like Coldplay and voted for the Nazis - you can't trust people." 

This is such a ridiculous suggestion that the only surprise is that it wasn't made by either Michel Platini and Sepp Blatter. These 50,000 embittered souls (who presumably had to take time off from yelling at clouds!) are calling for one of the greatest teams ever assembled to be stripped of their five successive European Cup triumphs not because of match-fixing or doping but because the tournament no longer bears any resemblance to the modern Champions League. It's farcical.

Without even delving too deeply into the debate over whether the competition is now more difficult to win (yes, there are more games against more sides from the strongest nations - but nowadays there's also a group stage, which is essentially a safety net for the top teams, and a greater concentration of wealth and talent among the elite), their argument is utter tripe. 

The World Cup is no longer structured anything like it was in 1930, while there are also far few competing nations. Should we also strip the likes of Uruguay of their titles (Given what happened at the Maracana in 1950, many Brazilians may actually answer in the affirmative!)? Should we also declare every European Cup victory before the Champions League era null and void? As Sky Sports have done with the English top-flight, should we discount everything that happened before the Premier League was established? Do football only truly begin in 1992?...

This response may seem flippant but it is impossible to treat this petition with anything but the irreverence it deserves. The only scary thing is that this is such a nonsensical suggestion that it may actually be given some consideration by the buffoons that run the game. It is certainly no more ludicrous than supporting a World Cup in Qatar.

Ronaldo v Griezmann for the Ballon d’Or and five things to look forward to in the Champions League final

Ronaldo v Griezmann for the Ballon d’Or and five things to look forward to in the Champions League finalThe pair's shootout at San Siro could go a long way towards deciding the winner of this year's prize, while Atletico Madrid have a shot at history - and revenge over rivals RealFor the second time in three seasons, Real Madrid will meet Atletico Madrid in the final of the Champions League. Two years on from their dramatic encounter in Lisbon, the pair will lock horns again, this time in Milan on Saturday.

Given their longstanding rivalry, we look set for a scintillating showdown at San Siro that throws up the possibility of a plethora of talking points...


Diego Simeone once said that Real Madrid and Barcelona "play in a different league" to Atletico Madrid. The Argentine was speaking from a financial perspective and he was 100 per cent correct. The Clasico duo make nearly €400 million more per annum than the Rojiblancos - yet Simeone's side are now looking forward to their second Champions League final appearance in two years. It is a truly staggering achievement, particularly when one considers that Atleti won La Liga in 2014 and were involved in this season's title race until the penultimate weekend.

With a club making less money on an annual basis than either Tottenham or Schalke, Simeone has somehow simultaneously sustained domestic and Champions League challenges. Having outwitted both Luis Enrique and Pep Guardiola to get to Milan, victory over Zinedine Zidane’s Real would represent the clearest demonstration to date that when it comes to coaching, it is Simeone who is in a league of his own.


After Atletico's 4-1 defeat by city rivals Real in the final of the 2013-14 Champions League, Simeone attempted to lift his players' spirits by encouraging them to focus on the enormity of their achievement in reaching the tournament decider while at the same time winning La Liga. "This match doesn't deserve a single tear," he insisted.

Yet the loss in Lisbon hurt. A lot. Indeed, one can be certain that Atleti will not only be overjoyed at having a second shot at history but also the fact that Real will be their opponents. The final represents a welcome shot at revenge against a side that they have faced 10 times in all competitions since the Champions League final. They have won half of those clashes, drawn four others and lost just once. In spite of that impressive record, Atleti will be underdogs again but then, that's just the way they like it.


“Considering this has been a ‘bad’ season for me it has not been that bad,” Cristiano Ronaldo sarcastically stated after his hat-trick earned Real a place in the final of the Champions League at the expense of Wolfsburg. "People can criticise me but I just keep on going and the numbers are there for all to see." 

If it seemed premature at the time, it now seems utterly ridiculous, but just a few months ago, Ronaldo was being written off. There were those who wondered whether the 31-year-old was in a terminal decline. The numbers certainly support the Portuguese's stance. Against Atleti on May 28, Ronaldo will have the opportunity to equal/better his own record haul for a single Champions League campaign, 17, from 2013-14. We don't need to tell you who the opponents were in the final that year.


Simeone was bemused by Antoine Griezmann’s omission from the 23-strong shortlist for the 2015 Ballon d’Or. As things stand, the Argentine will be apoplectic if the Frenchman does not make the podium for this year’s award. If Ronaldo’s renaissance has rightly propelled the Portuguese back into contention for the game’s most prestigious individual honour, Griezmann surely deserves to be in the reckoning for playing a key role in Atleti’s run to the Champions League final.

After downing Barcelona with a second-leg double in a controversial quarter-final clash at the Calderon, the former Real Sociedad starlet sent Bayern Munich packing with a wonderfully composed finish in the second stanza of an epic semi-final encounter. Griezmann is clearly a man for the big occasion – and he’s still got the European Championships on home soil to come. The Griezmann-Ronaldo San Siro shootout could go a long way towards deciding this year's battle for the Ballon d'Or.


Given Simeone is a fan of the mantra, 'You don't play finals, you win them', you can be certain that Atleti will fight tooth and nail in this tournament decider. Two years ago, Simeone became embroiled in an angry confrontation with Real defender Raphael Varane at the end of the game. Nobody wants to see a repeat but given Real have a number of combustible characters of their own, fireworks are an absolute certainty at San Siro.

How Manchester United can solve Mourinho trademark issue

How Manchester United can solve Mourinho trademark issueThe Portuguese's confirmation as Louis van Gaal's successor at Old Trafford has been delayed over a legal dispute due to Chelsea owning his name 
Manchester United could be forced to pay a multi-million pound settlement after Jose Mourinho sold his name to Chelsea in 2005, Sportmasta understands.
Mourinho is set to succeed Louis van Gaal as United manager, with an official announcement held up by a rights issue with their Premier League rivals.
Discussions over the deal between Mourinho’s agent Jorge Mendes and United officials have entered their fourth day despite personal terms having been agreed. 
Sports lawyer Carol Couse worked with United on the rights for Angel Di Maria’s transfer from Real Madrid in 2014 and advised on how the club could resolve their issues.They could challenge the registration of the trademark or they could just not use his name,” Couse told Goal. “The challenge comes if there has been no genuine use of that trademark in a continuous period of five years, albeit the merchandise being sold online even now.”
“The alternative is to get a short-term license for the period of the appointment but, I think, the reality is that Manchester United will want to acquire the trademark. They will want to have an assignment of it and that will be more costly. 
“Looking at Jose Mourinho’s time at Inter and Real Madrid, they were able to use his name and Chelsea consented to that but I think in this case it is likely that Chelsea are going to look for pretty hefty sum.
“This will need to be resolved and I can see why it is a stumbling block in negotiations. Once the commercial terms have been reached then long-term agreements could be drawn up further down the line.”
Chelsea’s trademark over the name ‘Jose Mourinho’ does not expire until 2025 but was licensed to Inter and Real Madrid after he left the club for the first time.
The items under the trademark include face masks, footballs and toys and include even the more bizarre items such as teddy bears, novelty party hats and toothbrushes. 
Couse said Chelsea “hold the cards”, adding, although the Mourinho’s decision to give up his image rights to his former club was unusual, the Portuguese may have financially benefited from the deal.
Mourinho's personal commercial deals with Jaguar and Hublot are reportedly also delaying an official announcement with United having opposing car and watch partnerships with Chevrolet and Bulova.

Ibrahimovic backs Mourinho to bring success back to Man Utd

The Sweden international, heavily linked with a switch to Old Trafford after his exit from Paris Saint-Germain, says that their incoming boss should revive the club's fortunes
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has backed Jose Mourinho to bring success back to Manchester United amid reports that both are set for roles at Old Trafford.
The Sweden international has been heavily linked with United since the announcement of his exit from Paris Saint-Germain, though he does not want to discuss his future until after Euro 2016 despite having made a decision.
Mourinho is on the verge of confirming his appointment as Louis van Gaal's successor, the deal reportedly delayed by image-rights issues, and Ibrahimovic expects the Portuguese to add "action" to the club."It's a great move. You want action, you bring Mourinho," he told reporters.
"He's the man to bring them back to the top. Everywhere he goes, he brings success."
Van Gaal was removed from his post at Old Trafford despite lifting the FA Cup at the end of his second season, United having missed out on Champions League football while being criticised for an unexciting style of football.