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Unforgettable debuts: Jonathan Woodgate vs Athletic Bilbao

Of all the English players that Galacticos-era Real Madrid might have signed, and in some cases did, Jonathan Woodgate was nowhere near the top of anyone’s list. An excellent defender who struggled terribly with injuries, his quietly assured displays didn’t scream star power.And yet, in need of a centre back in the summer of 2004, Real turned to the 24-year-old from Middlesbrough, who’d played in...

2 days ago
Modest Valverde remains the ideal coach for Barcelona

The news was greeted on social media not just with mutterings of discontent but by overwhelming negativity. “It’s time, Barça Twitter,” came one reply. “We need to bully him out like Lucho.” “Nobody wants him to continue even if we win the treble,” wrote another. Social media, though, is not an accurate barometer of the general mood. The sensible Barcelona fan, the fan who takes a seat at the Nou...

3 days ago
Rescind and reboot: Catching up with the 'Sporting Nine'

Last May Sporting Lisbon‘s tumultuous 2017/18 season descended into chaos. Defeat at Marítimo on the final day of the Primeira Liga season saw them miss out on Champions League qualification. Rui Patrício’s late error proved costly as Benfica took second place. It was a painful end to the campaign but nobody could have foreseen what would happen next. A group of around 50 ‘ultras...

4 days ago
How Solskjær can continue fine form without Martial and Lingard

Manchester United’s 2-0 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday night was made worse by injuries to both Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial. The duo, who have played a key role in the club’s revitalisation under Ole Gunnar Solskjær, are expected to miss between two and three weeks on the sidelines. It has given Solskjær an unwanted problem ahead of upcoming games against Chelsea in the FA Cup and...

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