Brazil to meet Russia in Moscow

The Chevrolet Brasil Global Tour will return to Europe in March as the Selecao meet the World Cup hosts in the Russian capital

Brazil will face Russia on March 23 as the Chevrolet Brasil Global Tour continues its upcoming trip across Europe.

The five-time world champions will meet the World Cup 2018 hosts in the Russian capital, with the venue of the fixture to be confirmed at a later date.

The match will take place prior to the Brazil’s already-announced clash with current world champions Germany in Berlin on March 27.

Brazil and Russia first met post-USSR at World Cup 1994, when the Selecao ran out 2-0 winners in in California.

The two sides have since faced off on a further four occasions, with their last meeting arriving in London, England in 2013 when the two sides played out a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge.

March’s double-header will be the final set of friendlies for which coach Tite can assess his group ahead of deciding on his final World Cup squad.

Next month the Chevrolet Brasil Global Tour sees Brazil host Japan in France before heading to London to meet England at Wembley stadium.

Russia vs. Brazil

Venue TBC, Moscow
Friday 23 March 2018
Kick-Off:          
19:00 (MSK) Russia Time
13:00 (BRT) Brazil Time
16:00 (GMT) London Time

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‘We had Harry Kewell’ – Houllier explains why Liverpool lost race to sign Cristiano Ronaldo

Former Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier has revealed that the presence of Harry Kewell in the Reds’ squad discouraged the Merseysiders from pursuing their interest in a young Cristiano Ronaldo. 

Ronaldo was just 18 when he was snapped up by Manchester United from Sporting, and has since gone on to become one of the finest players of his generation. 

At Old Trafford and later Real Madrid, the Portugal star has smashed countless records and help both sides to Champions League glory as well as a host of other titles. 

But according to Houllier, Liverpool lost the race to his signature because they were unwilling to bend their wage structure for the teenage phenomenon. 

“I saw him in the Toulon Under-21 tournament and we went for him,” Houllier recalled to the Liverpool Echo on Sunday.

“But we had a wage scale and we weren’t paying the sort of salary he wanted.

“Then Manchester United played a friendly against Sporting Lisbon and all their boys said to Sir Alex Ferguson: ‘You have to sign him’.

“But I agreed with not breaking the wage structure. I thought it would cause problems in our dressing room.”

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Instead of Ronaldo, Liverpool signed Kewell from Leeds United, and the Australia star went on to spend five seasons at Anfield in a spell remembered fondly by supporters despite constant injury problems. 

“Maybe we would have won the title with Ronaldo, but we had Harry Kewell, who was outstanding at the time and was very hungry but got a bad injury,” Houllier added. 

“After that, he never had the same confidence, the same appetite.”

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Best defender in the world? What the hell has happened to Leonardo Bonucci?

It had started out as a joke.

Every time AC Milan sporting director Massimiliano Mirabelli sounded Alessandro Lucci out about one of his players during the summer, the agent would casually drop in the name of his most valuable client, Leonardo Bonucci.

Milan 33/1 to win Serie A

Mirabelli thought nothing of it until it became clear on July 12 that not only was the defender actually ready to leave Juventus, the Italian champions were actually prepared to sell the centre-piece of their brilliant backline.

“Bonucci’s transfer wasn’t planned but it was an opportunity we had to grab as it went past,” Mirabelli told Rai Sport.

“Over the first few days, I didn’t even tell [CEO Marco] Fassone; I thought Lucci was joking. Then, I saw the lad really did want to come to Milan and we worked out the negotiations very quickly.”

Indeed, the deal was done inside 48 hours, with the Rossoneri agreeing to pay Juve €42 million for the services of a man also coveted by Chelsea and Manchester City.

Vincenzo Montella Leonardo Bonucci AC Milan

Even Milan’s players were stunned by Bonucci’s sudden arrival from Turin and had no issue with the new signing being immediately installed as club captain.

“I didn’t actually believe he’d come!” Giacomo Bonaventura enthused. “Leo is a winner, a pillar of the national team and his arrival is a fantastic thing.

“From what I know of him, his character will be very useful in the dressing room, which is coming off the back of some troubled years. He’s destined to become a real point of reference.”

The reverence of his new team-mates was understandable.

Since joining Juventus in 2010, Bonucci had developed into the finest defender in football, one of Pep Guardiola’s “favourite ever players”, a man who played a pivotal role in the Bianconeri’s unprecedented run of six consecutive Scudetti and re-emergence as a major European force.

He was not just a central defender, he was central to how Juve played because of his wonderful passing skills. Bonucci was, thus, viewed as the major coup of Milan’s summer spending spree, the one signing sure to succeed, a natural-born leader capable of turning losers into winners.

Now, though, some feel that the joke is on Milan.

Leonardo Bonucci AC Milan PS

Bonucci was confirmed on Monday as one of the 30 nominees for this year’s Ballon d’Or, but that news only served as an awkward reminder of just how dramatic a dip in form the Italy international has suffered since his switch to San Siro.

The best defender in the world suddenly looks like one of the worst in Serie A, prompting former Napoli and Udinese director Pierpaolo Marino to claim: “I think Milan already regret buying Bonucci.

“I think that if Massimiliano Mirabelli and Marco Fassone could go back in time, they’d spend that money on a top striker instead.”

That is most certainly not the case, though.

Admittedly, the unplanned nature of Bonucci’s arrival left Vincenzo Montella with an unexpected dilemma: should he change his formation to suit his most significant summer signing? The Rossoneri had last season played with a flat back-four, but Bonucci’s preferred position was in the centre of a three-man defence.

Montella decided to change, meaning not only were Milan starting the season with 10 new players, they would also be doing so with a new formation. Therefore, the coach and his team were always going to require time to adapt. The surprise, though, is that Bonucci has looked so unsure of himself, even in his beloved back three.

There have been uncharacteristic lapses in concentration, inexplicable unforced errors and even his famed distribution has repeatedly betrayed him. He was meant to raise Milan’s game; instead, he has dragged them down.

Leonardo Bonucci Montella AC Milan PS

“He certainly knows he has to improve his performances, but he has been the first to admit it,” Montella said before the international break. “But he is not a problem and he never will be. He is a resource for Milan and will be for many years to come.

“People seem to think everything is Bonucci’s fault, but I know how to get the best out of him and his playing style.”

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It’s time now for Montella to back up that claim, with Bonucci having returned to Milanello this week after two dismal displays for Italy, against Macedonia and Albania.

The Rossoneri sit seventh after seven rounds of Serie A action, having lost three games already, including their last two, away to Sampdoria and at home to Roma. A third consecutive defeat would be catastrophic for Montella’s hopes of holding on to his job, as Milan’s next opponents are city rivals Inter.

As a result, the coach desperately needs the real Bonucci to stand up at San Siro on Sunday evening. The defender’s poor form has gone well beyond a joke at this stage.

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Moyes: I didn’t want Fellaini to be my first signing at Man Utd

David Moyes has revealed he did not want Marouane Fellaini to be his first signing as Manchester United manager.

Moyes moved to the Red Devils from Everton in 2013 and brought Fellaini with him, forking out £27.5 million for the Belgium international.

However, the Scotsman claims he was actually looking to sign Nemanja Matic but ended up capturing Fellaini instead on transfer deadline day.

“You can ask my staff – the last thing I wanted was for Marouane Fellaini to be my first signing,” Moyes told Radio 5 live.

“I knew, coming from my old club, the look was never going to be good.

“I’ve got to say we looked at Matic as well. He hadn’t done well for Chelsea and had gone back to Benfica.

Nemanja Matic Marouane Fellaini Man Utd 2017

“He was a consideration. We probably did need a more defensive type player in hindsight.

“Someone who would sit and play, make passes from the middle of the park. But we didn’t get a lot of the things we hoped for.

“And in the end we only ended up getting Marouane on deadline day or we would’ve got no one in that summer at all.”

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Fellaini had initially struggled to win over the United faithful after switching from Everton, but the midfielder has caught the eye under Jose Mourinho’s tutelage.

Man Utd win and over 2.5 v Liverpool 10/3

The 29-year-old has impressed when playing alongside Matic, who joined United from Chelsea in the summer, in the heart of the midfield, scoring four goals in all competitions so far.

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‘If I don’t start that game I’ll join you!’ – Moyes reveals just how close Fabregas came to Man Utd move

David Moyes has revealed he came close to landing Cesc Fabregas during his time at Manchester United, while he also had conversations with Gareth Bale over a move to Old Trafford.

Bale, still at Tottenham at the time, was also a target for Real Madrid during the summer of 2013, while Fabregas was unsure over his long-term future at Barcelona.

The pair were targeted by Moyes as he attempted to stamp his authority on the United team he had inherited from Sir Alex Ferguson, with United attempting to foil Real’s protracted attempts to acquire the Welshman, and also secure the signature of Fabregas.

Man Utd 17/10 to get the better of Liverpool

Moyes has now revealed that he spoke with both players, with Fabregas pledging to join if he was left out of the Barcelona starting XI on the first day of the season. Unfortunately for the Scot, the Spain international started, though he eventually moved to Chelsea just a year later.

Cesc Fabregas Eden Hazard Chelsea

“I spoke to Gareth Bale a couple of times. He had his heart set on going to Real Madrid, we tried to change it,” he told BBC Radio Five Live. “We tried to convince him but we couldn’t do so. We offered more money to Tottenham at that time.

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“Cesc Fabregas, who I spoke to on the phone several times, was not sure of his place in the Barcelona team. I remember him saying to me ‘if I don’t start the first game at Barcelona then I’ll definitely be looking to join you’ and he started the first game at Barcelona.

“So it’s small things, you’re waiting on happening. But I don’t want it to sound like hard luck stories because there were other players, but those were the two who looked to me like Manchester United players.”

Moyes ended up signing Marouane Fellaini from Everton, and was sacked 10 months after taking the United job, with the club unable to qualify for the Champions League.

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