There’s an absolutely iconic photo of Lionel Messi doing the rounds after Real Betis game

In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. On the fifth day, God created every living creature of the seas and every winged bird to fill the skies. On the sixth day, God created Messi and the world of football.

A prophecy had been written that day. One day, a messiah will be born with a ball at his feet. He will then grow up to conquer the world of football.

Lionel Messi is a name that has struck terror in the hearts of defenders all over Europe. Ever since the Argentinian made his debut with FC Barcelona, the talismanic striker has been nothing short of excellent. As such, fans of the pint-sized Argentinian have long taken to Twitter to express their admiration for Barcelona’s #10.

All bets are off when the ball is at the feet of Lionel Messi. As such, opposition managers have long adopted the Indian local train methods, when it comes to shutting out the striker. Left short of choices, opposition managers have often relied on crowding out the Argentinian, with hopes of success. A classic example was on show during their recent outing against Real Betis –

The thing is that trying to pacify a player who was born with the ball at his feet and was blessed by the god of football himself is like trying to placate a saint with two guns. Does it work? The jury’s still out.

It may very well seem that Lionel Messi was not made for football. But football was made for Lionel Messi. Such is the gravity of the skill of the player that opposition managers have to rely on over four people to mark the Argentinian.

All we can say to the four people earmarked to crowd him out in the future is this – good luck.

(Video) Sadio Mane continues rich form for Liverpool by thumbing down a Man Utd banner on international duty

Liverpool’s title run looked to have taken a big hit when Mo Salah started to experience a major dip in form and the alarm bells started ringing around Anfield as Pep’s Man City crept closer and closer to overtaking the Reds at the top of the league.

Thankfully for Jurgen Klopp, Sadio Mane took over the duties to score goals and has been nothing short of phenomenal for Liverpool.

The timing of Mane’s run of form couldn’t have come at a more crucial time for Liverpool with his goals helping the Reds to maintain their position at the summit of England.

Following his goal scoring exploits against Bayern Munich in the Champions League, the forward was on target again during the 2-1 win over Fulham last Sunday.

His rich rein of form hasn’t gone unnoticed with some reports out there suggesting that Zinedine Zidane has earmarked the 26-year-old as one of his priority signings for the summer.

Notably it was Mane who scored for the Reds against Real Madrid in Kiev last year and if he can maintain his current run of form, it won’t be long before other big guns around Europe coming knocking on Liverpool’s door for his signature.

The former Saints striker will now be hoping to help his national side as well when Senegal takes on Madagascar in the qualifiers for the Africa Nations cup on Saturday.

While his run of form has already pleased Reds supporters, the striker has given them yet another reason to sign his praises while on international duty.

While walking up to fans during training, Mane just couldn’t resist taking a dig at rivals Manchester United when he spotted a Senegalese United fan holding up a banner asking his international teammate Kalidou Koulibaly to sign for the Red Devils.

A video of the incident has surfaced which shows the striker shaking his head in clear disapproval and then shows a thumbs down towards the poster.

The show of allegiance from Mane seems to have gone down pretty well with Reds fans judging by reactions to the clip on Twitter.

Former Rangers man calls for Alfredo Morelos to show more restraint after Kilmarnock incident

Steven Gerrard’s Rangers side suffered another setback in their efforts to reduce the gap at the top of the table with arch-rivals Celtic as they were held by Kilmarnock here at the Ibrox stadium.

The Gers were looking to build up momentum before their all-important clash with the league leaders but a 29th-minute strike from Conor McAleny put them behind in the first half.

It was the talismanic Colombian Alfredo Morelos who helped them get back into the game after he swiftly turned away from his marker to put the ball in the Killies net.

The home side kept pushing for a late winner but it never came thanks to lack of composer in front of the goal.

And during this gruelling competition, Morelos got involved in another off the ball incident which attracted a lot of media attention.

In a viral footage, Morelos and Broadfoot appeared to be engaged in a war of words before the Colombian decided to walk away.

The Killies defender followed him and appeared to stomp the Colombian on his achilles.

Morelos reacted instantly and seemed to fling his hand towards the Englishman.

The match referee, having possibly missing to spot the incident, decided to let it slide and did not punish any of the players involved with marching orders.

But it did not go well with pundit Barry Ferguson who demanded the Colombian to exercise more restraint and avoid escalation at any cost.

And according to the replies to the twee above, it seems the majority of the Rangers fans do not agree with their former player and many of them pointed out that it was Morelos who is at the receiving end of physical abuses in most of the games.

What’s your thought about this incident? Let us know in the comments below.

Photo: Both Betis and Barca players had their hands on their heads after Lionel Messi’s stunning goa

Barcelona and Lionel Messi show no signs of slowing down and extended their lead at the top of La Liga to 10 points with a commanding 4-1 win over Real Betis.

The Catalan club looks almost unstoppable now as they march towards another league title while their fellow title rivals are struggling to get points on the board.

While the footballing world is rarely surprised by this point when reading about Messi’s goal-scoring exploits, the little magician still finds ways to create an aura of amazement around his every move.

In the win over Betis, Messi produced another magical performance which was nothing short of the stuff portrayed in fairy tale movies.

Grabbing a hat-trick is one thing but to get it in a way that leaves everyone watching dumbfounded is on an entirely different level and that’s what makes the Argentine standout from other world class players out there.

Betis had got the better of this Barcelona side earlier in the season, and a staunch determination to avenge that loss was clearly visible in the players as soon as the match started.

Messi set the tone early with an inch perfect free-kick from 20 yards out before tip-toeing Suarez’ pass for a second, minutes before the half time whistle.

The Uruguayan added a third not long after the restart and with the fixture done and dusted, it was widely expected that Messi would grab his third at some point before the game ended.

But even his most devoted fans couldn’t have foreseen what came next as the 5-time Ballon d’Or winner once again reminded the world why he is regarded as the G.O.A.T in football.

While Messi had already beaten him twice before, the last thing Pau Lopez would have expecting was for Messi to try for the audacious chip during a late Barca attack.

But Messi is Messi and pulling off pieces of skills that other players can’t even grasp yet alone execute, is how the Argentine has built his reputation.

The goal left the whole Benito Villamarin Stadium stunned with cries of “Messi Messi” reverberating around every corner as everyone capable of standing stood on their feet to applauded the extraordinary performance.

Even the players on the pitch were left in awe after the goal went in and can be seen looking around in disbelief as Messi reels away in celebration. Check it out below –

Image via Twitter

Their reaction is a testament of his footballing ability and the fact that no matter how long or wherever he plays, the little magician can still finds ways to take your breath away.

This is easily the worst period in Chelsea’s history since Roman Abramovich took over the club back in 2003

The 2-0 defeat at Goodison Park was Chelsea’s 7th loss of the season in the Premier League. This was their chance to go above Manchester United and Arsenal on the table, having had one game in hand on both the teams. Even though there are 8 more matches to be played chances of finishing in the top 4 seem bleak. Chelsea has become a team that can keep the ball but cannot do much with it. The system has now become boring and fans demand results.

Back in 2015, in Mourinho’s last tenure fans were angry and shocked looking at how the team was performing. In 2017 the fans were just disappointed and were confused as to how the defending champions were performing so badly. But now losses don’t seem to surprise the fans at all. They just want to get past this poor season and hope for a fresh start. There are multiple reasons which make this season the most forgettable one for the fans.

  • Absence of Abramovich in London

Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003 and it didn’t take time for him to make a massive impact on both, the club and the league.  He flushed in money helping Chelsea to buy world class players. He is also to be credited for the decisions he took while hiring managers such as Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, and Antonio Conte. Under his ownership the club has won 5 league titles, 5 FA cup titles, 2 community shields, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Champions League. He has always pressed his managers to perform well and when they failed to give results, he has not thought twice before replacing them.

But his current visa issues have caused a massive reduction in his involvement with the club. A regular face in every match, Abramovich is forced out of his own fortress. He’s had to put a hold on the new stadium as well. Chelsea surely is missing his authoritative figure.

  • Directors lack genuine football pedigree 

Marina Granovskaia and Eugene Tenenbaum, the directors at Chelsea, have been with Abramovich since 2003. Both used to work for him before he took over the club. Granovskaia, one of the strongest women in football, is responsible for the Nike sponsorship deal. Even though they have been in the club for a long time, there’s no secret that both of them have no connection with football whatsoever. They are Chelsea’s key transfer negotiators and have often been criticized by the managers for not buying players they had asked for. They may know what’s best for business, but fail to understand what’s best for the club’s performance.

  • Predictable nature of Sarri Ball

Maurizio Sarri did wonders in his time at Napoli. He replaced fellow Italian manager Antonio Conte in the summer of 2018. Sarri completely changed the style of play and brought an effective change in the system, going unbeaten for 12 games in the league. But the other teams cracked down his tactics. Sarri has since looked out of his depth. We see the same old routine and the same substitutions have irritated the fans. Sarri has been quite rigid and has time and again blamed the players rather than changing the system. Blocking Jorginho seems like the only thing oppositions need to do in order to defeat Chelsea.

  • The absence of a leader in the dressing room 

Nobody in the dressing room seems to have taken up the responsibility for the team’s poor run in the Premier League. Cesar Azpillicueta took over the armband from Cahil after Sarri’s arrival. The Spaniard has never looked like he has been in control of things. He is not vocal enough and lacks the traits of a good leader. Gary Cahill has sidelined himself after being denied a regular start in the league and might soon leave the club as well. Chelsea needs someone to lead from the front, motivate the team and push them when they are down. A positive change in the leadership role is certainly required.

  • Madrid-bound star player

Eden Hazard looks like he is in the form of his life. Despite the team’s poor performance, Hazard has managed to shine and with 13 goals and 11 assists is arguably the best player in the Premier League this season.

He also has been open about his dream to play for Spanish giants Real Madrid, and with Zidane, back in charge, the dream is likely to be fulfilled this summer.

 

  • Wasted Youth

Chelsea has always been criticized for not giving proper opportunities to their academy players. This season has been no different. Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ruban Loftus Cheek and Ethan Ampadu are just a few names of many who have impressed the masses but have not been given enough game time. Bayern has come knocking on the door for Hudson-Odoi multiple times, but Sarri still doesn’t get the clue. The 18-year-old made it through to the English national team despite having played little domestic football. Chelsea already regrets losing the likes of Kevin de Bruyne and Mohamed Salah due to less play time given. It won’t be long enough before they regret not playing their current young stars as well.

 

 

Liverpool fans set Twitter ablaze after talkSPORT journo claims club “lucky” in the Champions League.

It’s the 25th of May 2005. Istanbul is about to stand witness to one of the craziest roller coaster rides in the history of European football. By the end of the first half, Liverpool find themselves 3-0 down. They thought it was all over. But it wasn’t. If there’s one thing Liverpool are known for, it’s hope.

Courtesy of a man of the match performance by Liverpool’s Man Friday, Steven Gerrard, Liverpool clawed their way back into the game. A fifth European title, which seemed like a distant possibility in the first half now seems anything but.

The match went into extra time, then penalties. Liverpool and AC Milan had both won their last European cups after winning penalty shoot-outs. It’s anyone’s game now. But as Andriy Shevchenko squares up to Jerzy Dudek, there is a sparkle in the eyes of the Polish keeper. Shevchenko shoots straight down the middle, Dudek dives down to his right. Everything stops. Time slows down. Shevchenko thinks he’s won it. But Dudek saves with his left hand. Liverpool have now won their fifth European Cup.

The match will forever be referred to as the “Miracle of Istanbul”. Was it really a miracle, though? Adrian Durham certainly seems to think so –

“Liverpool are always, always lucky”, he says. “In Istanbul, it was all about pure luck”, he says. He even goes so far as to say that Liverpool were riding their luck against European giants Bayern Munich in the previous round this year.

The moment he said this, there were tongues of fire emanating from the eyes of every Liverpool fan on the planet. In his two minute rant, Durham went on to say that Liverpool were “lucky” in last year’s run up to the Champions League final and were once again lucky to draw Porto in the quarter-finals.

Liverpool fans are not known for shying away from critics. Twitter was abuzz with criticism against the talkSPORT journo, with Liverpool fans labeling the rant as “disrespectful” towards both clubs, especially Porto.

One thing is for certain. Adrian Durham will forever have to tread lightly in the city of Liverpool. But maybe Lady Luck will come around and save him. After all, Liverpool are known to have a string of luck, don’t they, Mr. Durham?

 

(Video) Look how much it means for the Slavia Prague players to play against Chelsea

The UEFA Europa league draws came out this Friday right after the Champions League fixtures were announced.  Former Feyenoord player and a UEFA cup winner Pierre van Hooijdonk picked out the following draw:

[Source: The Guardian]

Former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti will return to London with his Napoli side to face Arsenal. Villarreal will face fellow league rivals Valencia. The other two fixtures involve teams facing each other for the first time ever. Benfica’s loanee Luka Jovic will face his own team as Frankfurt face Benfica. Meanwhile, former Chelsea player Miroslav Stoch will now play in the Stamford Bridge wearing Slavia Praha colours.

Sarri’s Chelsea despite performing poorly in the Premier League has performed extremely well in the European competition having won 9, drawn 1 and lost none. They defeated their round of 32 and round of 16 opponents Malmo FF and Dynamo Kyiv effortlessly. The 5-0 victory in Kiev showed the world how good they can play. Olivier Giroud scored a perfect hattrick and the Frenchman has now netted 9 goals in Europa itself.  The tournament has also given Callum Hudson-Odoi a fair chance to show the world how good he is. Even without their star player Eden Hazard, Chelsea is a dangerous side to play against in Europa.

Slavia Praha meanwhile sits at the top of the table in the Czech first league.  The last time Slavia visited London was in 2007 against Arsenal, where they faced their biggest Europa league defeat of 7-0.

But this season Slavia has displayed a strong performance and have beaten the most successful team in the competition, Sevilla, who have won the competition 5 times. Slavia came back from behind to win the game in extra time.

The last time they progressed to the quarter-finals of Europa League back in the 2015-16 season, they faced Villareal and lost. This is the farthest any Czech club has made it in the competition.

They might be the best in their own domestic league, but they are yet to prove themselves in Europe. And what better way to show their grit than to give the former UEFA Champions League winners a tough fight.

Chelsea is a big European team, ranking 17th in UEFA team rankings. Their squad is filled with individual superstars like Eden Hazard, Willian and Higuain, and world cup winners Kante, Giroud and Pedro.

Playing against such a star-studded line up is not a part of daily routine for teams like Slavia. It is a golden opportunity for them, to display their skills against Europe’s finest.  So no wonder when the players found out they would be going head to head with the Blues, this is how they reacted:

The Blues though boast a brilliant track record, having won 3 and drawn 3, and are unbeaten against Czech opponents. They would certainly want to maintain this record against Prague as well. The odds are definitely in favour of Chelsea. But this has been a season of inconsistent performances for Sarri.

Chelsea were unbeaten in the League for the first  12 gameweeks as well, but have performed poorly since then. Looking at their current form nothing can be said for sure.

It will be an exciting contest, seeing how Prague will prepare for this. They surely will give their 100%, but would their best be good enough to beat Chelsea?

Man United assistant manager commits a ‘Phelany’ after Liverpool’s win against Bayern Munich

Four English teams in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. What a time to be English! Liverpool’s victory over Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena coupled with Chelsea’s and Arsenal’s wins in the Europa League has ensured that for the first time since 1971 six English sides have progressed into the next round of European competition.

Bayern Munich are nothing less than European royalty and Liverpool’s victory over the Germans have caught the eye of one particular Red Devil. It seems that United’s assistant manager Mike Phelan has had his pick of the lot.

Now, before United fans pelt their desktops with stones, let me tell you this. These are Mike Phelan’s words, not mine.

Have a look –

Via Twitter/@Mike_Phelan_1

While it may seem that Liverpool have gone off the boil in recent weeks, those fears have been put to rest, courtesy of a moment of magic at the Allianz Arena from Liverpool’s main man, Sadio Mane. The Senegalese, who is in the form of his life now has 10 goals in his last ten.

Liverpool fans will be hoping that Mike Phelan does them a favor when table-toppers Manchester City visit Old Trafford in gameweek 35. Of late, United fans have been caught in between somewhat of a rock and a hard place, with the 1st place in the PL frequently exchanging hands between bitter rivals Liverpool and Pep Guardiola’s Citizens.

Man United, meanwhile, have their own worries. The arrival of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as the interim boss has breathed new life into Pogba and co, with United sitting within shouting distance of a Champions League spot, two points behind the Gunners. The Red Devils do have Chelsea breathing down their neck, and with United yet to face Man City and Chelsea at home, it may seem like United’s baby-faced assassin has his work cut out for him.

Liverpool, who trail leaders City by a solitary point can only sit and hope that the Red Devils huff and puff and blow down City’s house.

A dog joined in on the celebrations with the Leeds United fans during Reading win

Leeds United took another step towards the automatic qualification spots for the Premier League next season as they swept a lacklustre Reading side 3-0 here at Madejski Stadium.

Mateusz Klich opener followed by a brace from Spaniard Pablo Hernandez was more than enough for the Whites to claim a comfortable victory.

Leeds were firm favourites against the relegation-threatened Reading side and their intentions were clear right from the kick-off.

It took them only 14 minutes as Mateusz Klich finished it off from inside the penalty box after some slick play down the right flank.

And before the home side could react, Leeds took advantage of some sloppy passing and created a shooting opportunity for Pablo Hernandez who tucked it into the bottom corner.

The Spaniard struck again on the 43rd minute to wrap the game up for his side, this time with a screamer from outside the box giving Reading keeper Emiliano Martinez absolutely no chance.

With this brace, Hernandez now has 10 goals in the Championship this year and if you consider his 11 assists too, the midfielder is surely proving himself to be one of the most prominent stars in this years’ competition.

It was the White’s fourth win in the last five games and the fans are absolutely delighted.

Besides the performance on the field, there’s another aspect of the game that is winning the hearts of many Leeds fans.

In a viral video, Rita, a guide dog can be seen to join the celebration with the away supporters after the referee blew the full-time whistle.

Have a look at the brilliant footage here –

Rita and her owner are all-weather supporters of the Whites and many fans have reported spotting the pair in each and every game the club plays.

With only nine games to go, Leeds are closer to the Premier League than ever and this kind of support and dedication from their fans will only inspire their players even more.

 

 

(Video) BT Sport provides stunning angle of Sadio Mane’s ridiculous first goal v Bayern Munich

Liverpool’s Sadio Mane and Virgil van Dijk exhibited pure class as the Reds thrashed Bayern Munich 3-1 at their own backyard to progress to the quarter-final of the UEFA Champions League.

The teams played out a 0-0 draw at Anfield last month and the Bavarians were expected to come out all guns blazing at their home turf.

They did start the game well but a resilient Liverpool defence did extremely well to keep the initial waves of pressure at bay.

As the game progressed Liverpool slowly started to get back into the game but both the teams seemed to lack ideas and creativity in the final third.

But it was Liverpool who looked better and better with every passing second and started to control the game.

And they were the ones who struck first as Sadio Mane displayed unearthly technique and skill to put his side in the lead.

The Senegalese international latched on to a searching long ball from Virgil Van Dijk and brought it under control with a heavenly touch.

He still had a lot to do to get the ball into the back of the net and he did so with utmost calmness.

With a perfect turn, the Senegalese beat both Manuel Neuer and Rafinha before chipping it into the far corner.

Not only the chip was on target but it also had the perfect weight to leave Bayern defenders Niklas Sule and Mats Hummels mere spectators.

Have a look at this moment of brilliance courtesy of BT Sport here –

 
 
 
Mane was again on the target on the 84th minute when he headed a brilliant lobbed ball from Salah home to wrap up a memorable night for the five-time European Champions.

With Liverpool’s qualification, it is for the first time in the last ten years when four British clubs have managed to qualify for the quarter-finals stage and if they keep on performing like this, the glorious days of English football may not be far away.