“On an emotional day at Camp Nou that served as a tribute to the great Johan Cruyff, Barcelona’s unbeaten run ended at 39 matches with a 2-1 loss against Real Madrid. Barça’s lead at the top of La Liga shrank to six points, and the gap ahead of Real also went down to seven as a result. Despite dominating possession, Barça couldn’t score in the first half. Madrid’s chippy defense frustrated the home team, as center back Sergio Ramos in particular showed no shyness in conceding fouls if it looked like he might be beaten one-on-one. The Barça players frequently looked toward referee Alejandro Hernández with their arms outstretched, begging for a whistle.” SI
“Mattia Destro’s first night of marital bliss ended with a 5am wake up call. He kissed his bride goodbye and left for Florence. Italy training awaited. ‘If it were down to me,’ Antonio Conte smiled, ‘he would have already been on his way back after cutting the cake.’ The Italy manager would cancel Christmas too if the rules allowed him to as his former Siena players will tell you. Second in Serie B at the time, they had lost to Varese in their last game before the winter break in 2010.” Telegraph (Video)
“So the world isn’t ending. Put down the pitchforks and torches, cancel the move into that bunker and hold off on the ritual sacrifices. Facing the unimaginable horror of elimination from the World Cup more than two years before the tournament kicks off in Russia, the U.S. national team gathered itself and blasted Guatemala, 4-0, on Tuesday evening in Columbus, Ohio. Now 2-1-1 in their four-team semifinal round group and scheduled to face St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago in September, coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s team looks to be well on its way to CONCACAF’s Hexagonal—just where it’s supposed to be.” SI
“‘Is there a Ramé effect? The future will confirm that – or not.’ It’s early days for Ulrich Ramé as Bordeaux coach, but it already seems as if he’s as steady a personality as a boss as he was as the goalkeeper that served Les Girondins for the best part of 15 years. When replacing the beleaguered Willy Sagnol at the helm, the new man was faced with the prospect of a genuine rearguard action. Bordeaux had won just two of their last 11 games in all competitions under Sagnol and were looking over the shoulders having begun the campaign with the expectation of pushing towards Europe.” Who Scored?
“Despite dropping points in the past two games from leading positions, Liverpool showed enough against Southampton – in a near-perfect first half – and Spurs (for the whole game) to suggest a team heading in the right direction. Progress is rarely linear. There will be downs as well as ups; form comes and goes. But the overriding impression is what counts, and right now that is of a side coming together nicely, if not yet perfectly.” Tomkins Times
“In the minutes after the final whistle, you could observe 1. FC Köln’s Dominique Heintz having a proper go at Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann. What happened? In the 90th minute, the Billy Goats lost the ball whilst going forward due to a clear cut foul on Lukas Klünter. Instead of blowing his whistle referee, Deniz Aytekin allowed the game to commence. Die Hoffe’s Andrej Kramaric desperately tried to get to the goal, and after getting past 4 men on an incredible run, he managed to fire off a shot which forced Timo Horn to give a rebound.” Bundesliga Fanatic
“And so, for Arsenal, the familiar pattern repeats. Just at the moment at which all hope is almost gone, they start to play again. Saturday’s 4-0 win against Watford was a reminder of how good this Arsenal can be, of the swirl of passes, the sudden darts and thrusts, of football as art. But it leaves Arsenal 11 points behind the leaders Leicester City with a game in hand. It all feels like too little too late and demands the question of why? How is it that Arsenal can play like this now, but couldn’t when they endured that run of two wins in nine games through January, February and the beginning of March?” Who Scored?