UEFA Plan ‘Summer Champions League’ to Rival FIFA Club World Cup

?Uefa are set to back a summer Champions League-style competition to rival the FIFA Club World Cup, as the battle between football’s two major governing bodies continues.

The rivalry between the pair primarily stems from their respective leaders, with plenty of ill-feeling between UEFA’s Aleksander Ceferin and FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

Tensions between the two are now set to go up a notch, as ?the Daily Mail reports that Uefa are in advanced talks with American producers Relevant Sport about endorsing and expanding the International Champions Cup. 

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The new competition would be due to clash with the 2021 FIFA Club World Cup, which takes place in Shanghai in June and July next year.

The International Champions Cup is currently an invitational summer tournament run by Relevant Sport, which some of Europe’s top clubs compete in annually as part of their pre-season preparations.

UEFA coming on board would see the series of what are essentially exhibition matches replaced with a full-blown competitive tournament. 

According to the report, participation in the competition would be decided through a qualification process based on domestic league positions as opposed to the current invitational format, aiming to give the competition added prestige.

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The tournament would initially be held in the United States, but could see future tournaments held in Asia. The International Champions Cup is primarily hosted in the US and Canada, but has previously taken place in China, Mexico and Australia. 

Like the ?Champions League, the competition would begin with a group stage, but consisting of pools of just three teams, prior to the knock-out rounds.

?Manchester United, Manchester City, ?Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal have all played in the International Champions Cup over the last seven years, with the competition offering clubs the financial incentive of expanding their markets in Asia and the United States.

Growing the competition into a more competitive tournament with added sponsorship and TV deals would bring additional revenue to European sides, helping to ease the need to grow the Champions League.

Supporters of Real Madrid and Supporters of Atletico Madrid are seen

Although the plans to expand Europe’s most prestigious club competition would bring additional income, the plan to add four more group games would put pressure on the already strained domestic schedule. 

The expansion and commercialisation of the International Champions Cup would not add to the regular domestic season schedule, although teams would have to make a commitment to field their strongest sides when possible. 

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The 9 Best Penalty Savers in Premier League History – Ranked

Tim Krul stole the headlines once again on Wednesday as his penalty heroics fired Norwich City through to the next round of the FA Cup at Tottenham Hotspur’s expense.

The Dutchman has a fantastic reputation for performing in penalty shoot-outs, but if you look at his stats (via ?Transfermarkt), you’ll see that his save ratio of 17.2% isn’t actually that good. However, there are some goalkeepers with seriously intimidating numbers. 

With those stats in mind, here are the nine goalkeepers (who have faced at least ten penalties) with the highest save ratio in Premier League history.


9. Adrián – 27.8%

Adrian

If all you’ve seen of Adrián was his blunder against ?Chelsea on Tuesday, then this might come as a surprise to you, but the ?Liverpool man is actually a good goalkeeper. Promise.

Across his time with both ?West Ham United and Liverpool, Adrián has faced 18 penalties in his career and saved five of them, earning himself a more than respectable ratio of 27.8%.

We all saw that error against Chelsea though. There’s no hiding behind an impressive percentage for that one.?


8. Ali Al-Habsi – 28.6%

Ali Al Habsi

Ali Al-Habsi has been away from the ?Premier League since 2013, but before he left, he made sure he managed a save percentage of 28.6%.

He got that by saving six of the 21 penalties he faced with both Bolton Wanderers and Wigan Athletic, and he might even get the chance to add to that soon as he’s currently on the books at promotion-hopefuls West Bromwich Albion. 

He’s third choice and hasn’t played at all this season, but that’s not the point. We live in hope.

Al-Habsi’s penalty saving, which saw the likes of Robin van Persie and Carlos Tevez knocked back, even earned him links to ?Arsenal and Liverpool earlier in his career. They were dark times.


7. Artur Boruc? – 29.4%

Artur Boruc

?Artur Boruc’s career is full of big penalty saves. He did it in both Poland and Scotland, and he brought those talents over to the Premier League as well.

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He has saved five out of 17 penalties since 2015, with both ?Southampton and ?Bournemouth benefiting from his 29.4% save ratio.

Earlier in his career, Boruc even scored a penalty during a game, firing home in Legia Warsaw’s 6-0 win over Widzew ?ód? in June 2004. That sounds more like a FIFA player who has given up trying, but you’ve got to respect it.


6. Hugo Lloris – 29.6%

Hugo Lloris

Hugo Lloris may love a high-profile mistake, but he’s actually pretty reliable when it comes to keeping out penalties.

Since joining ?Tottenham Hotspur?, Lloris has saved 8 out of 27 penalties, earning himself a ratio of 29.6%.

It’s not just in the Premier League that Lloris has shone. He kept ?Manchester City out in the ?Champions League quarter-final last season, but that’s apparently not that hard these days.


5. Heurelho Gomes – 31.4%

Heurelho Gomes

You’re lying if you say you knew Heurelho Gomes was going to be so high here. Statistically the fifth best penalty savour in Premier League history? Wild.

During his time with both ?Tottenham Hotspur and ?Watford, Gomes has faced a whopping 35 penalties, but he has actually managed to save 11 of those to earn himself a cool 31.4% ratio.

Gomes is the only goalkeeper to ever save two penalties in a game on two separate occasions, while his 11 saves is actually the most recorded by any goalkeeper in the league. The man’s clearly a machine.


4. Jordan Pickford – 33.3%

Jordan Pickford

Say what you want about Jordan Pickford’s decisions, kicking and positioning (or don’t, because ?he’ll get grumpy)?, but there’s no denying that he can hold his own when it comes to saving penalties.

Of the 15 he has faced, he has saved five – all of which have come since he joined ?Everton in 2017.

?Thibaut Courtois only saved one during his time in England, so maybe that proves that being 6’5 isn’t as good as he likes to think it is.


3. Simon Mignolet – 35.7%

Simon Mignolet

Are all disappointing goalkeepers secretly penalty wizards? Is that a thing? (Spoiler alert: yes).

Next up on the list is Simon Mignolet, who saved ten of the 28 penalties he faced while with Liverpool and Sunderland, earning himself a save ratio of 35.7%.

His later years at Liverpool proved that saving penalties was pretty much all he was good at, but hey, that’s a great quality to have.? Nice going.


2. Fraser Forster – 40%

Fraser Forster

Remember those few years where Southampton were one of the best teams in England, and Fraser Forster was a big reason why? How the times have changed.

Forster only faced ten penalties during his time in the Premier League, but his four saves earn him an impressive ratio of 40%. 

He even saved a penalty on his return to Celtic this season, proving he’s still got it. Forster might have conceded from the rebound, but I don’t care. A stat’s a stat.


1. Manuel Almunia – 42.9%

Manuel Almunia

Come on then, hands up who thought Manuel Almunia would have the single greatest penalty save ratio in Premier League history. Nobody? Cool.

?The Spaniard may have only had to deal with 14 penalties during his time with Arsenal between 2004 and 2012, but he managed to make a whopping six saves. You definitely did not want to come up against him.

It wasn’t in the Premier League, but it’s worth mentioning that it was Almunia’s penalty save in the 2012/13 ?Championship play-off semi-final second leg which allowed Watford’s Troy Deeney to go down the other end and score one of the most exciting winners in history. We only got that highlight because of Almunia and his heroics.


For more from Tom Gott, follow him on Twitter!

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Erling Haaland’s Father Admits La Liga Would Be a ‘Very Good’ League for His Son

Erling Haaland’s father has admitted that his son would fit in well in La Liga, and has suggested that a move to Spain is a possibility in the future.

Borussia Dortmund secured the signature of the highly sought after 19-year-old in December, and the forward has got his career in Germany off to a stunning start, with nine goals in his first seven Bundesliga outings.

Haarland had a number of suitors from across Europe’s top leagues thanks to his dazzling performances for Red Bull Salzburg, but his father Alf-Inge believes Dortmund are the best fit for his son. 

Erling Haaland

In an interview with ?AS, Haaland senior said: “?Dortmund told us that they needed someone like him. It is a team that fights for the Bundesliga and that is growing in European competitions. It is perfect.

“We were linked to more than 100 teams, but it is true that the Spanish [league] is a very good league for my son, with great teams. 

“You never know if he will play in Spain. What has to happen, will happen. ?La Liga is very good for my son.”

Man City v Liverpool

Alf-Inge enjoyed a decent football career himself, spending his best days in the Premier League. He was a utility player, operating in defence or midfield, and spent four years at Nottingham Forest, three years at Leeds United and three years at ?Manchester City.

However, his career was notoriously cut short by a Roy Keane tackle in 2001, which the former ?Manchester United midfielder later admitted was an act of vengeance after Haaland had criticised him three years earlier when Keane suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury. 

Due to his father’s spells in England, Haaland was raised as a Leeds fan, and earlier in his career admitted that his ?dream was to ?win the Premier League with the Yorkshire club.


But for now, Alf-Inge sees Dortmund as the ideal place for his son.

“I am very happy for him and Borussia Dortmund,” he added. “Although for me the most important thing is to keep growing as before. 

“He was always a top scorer, but he also gives a lot of assists. Obviously, I am proud. “

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Jordan Henderson’s Injury – the Best Thing That Could’ve Happened for His Player of the Year Chances

Jordan Henderson getting injured was obviously a bad thing for Liverpool, but it may have been the best thing for Jordan Henderson. Not often we say that. 

The Reds have played three and a bit games without their captain since he went down with a hamstring injury against Atlético Madrid, and all of those 280 minutes have been absolutely tortuous. 

It started in that 3-2 win over West Ham. Just a vile game of football. Possibly the worst 3-2 that’s been played. On paper, a 1-0 to 1-2 to 3-2 twisty turnaround should’ve been a banger, but it was dull. West Ham played badly, Liverpool winning was inevitable even when it wasn’t, and if not for an offside decision, it could have been (a somehow more unremarkable) 4-2. 

However you slice it though, Hendo’s first game out was a Lukasz Fabianski howler away from finishing 2-2. At Anfield. Against a team in the relegation zone. Then they lost 3-0 to Watford and 2-0 to Chelsea. Which is bad. 

Did Henderson’s absence actually have an impact? Not a scooby. It’s properly hard to figure out what kind of impact someone like him has on a game by game basis, because there isn’t an Opta feed for ‘desire’, and ‘leadership’, and whatever else pundits kinda think the 29-year-old brings to the table. There’s no metric for ‘passion’. We asked. 

The really troubling thing for Liverpool (apart from the ‘conceding seven in three games’ bit) is that they haven’t scored in three out of their last four games. For someone who isn’t really a ‘tactics guy’ or a ‘stats guy’ or a ‘football expert’, it seems a little bit like the player who’s sixth in league assists for the team – with a whole three goals of his own – doesn’t actually have that much to do with that. 


Maybe he does! Maybe there’s some sort of hidden mechanical reason in this particular Liverpool team that means they’re utterly dependant on a stodgy Mackem for their attacking moves, rather than Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino. And Mohamed Salah. And the rest of them. Don’t know. Don’t care. Not the point. 

The point is the narrative switch. He was probably favourite to win the PFA Player of the Year award before this little injury layoff, but now? The last three weeks has made it very clear (even if it isn’t actually that clear and might not be, y’know, true) that Henderson really is the beating heart who makes this Liverpool team tick, the one who ties it all together, the man who brings the intangibles and drags them back from the brink. 

Mané, Alisson, Virgil van Dijk – they could all have taken these games by the scruff of the neck and made the case that they are the driving force behind this team’s greatness. Didn’t happen. 

Henderson’s injury is bad for Liverpool. They’ve lost their best ever chance to go through a Premier League season unbeaten, they might throw away all of their cup chances, and some of that might (???????????) be because he got injured and missed a tiny, miniature handful of games. 

For him, though? Great. Cracking. Get that PFA trophy engraved right now, he’s the real MVP – even if he got there by only caring about the stuff that his teammates have screwed up in his absence. 


For more from Chris Deeley, follow him on Twitter at @ThatChris1209!


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4 of the Best Moments of Zico’s Career

Zico is number 17 in 90min’s Top 50 Greatest Footballers of All Time series


When the immortal Pele is describing you as the player who came closest to him over the course of his career, you’re onto a winner.

There’s only one man who can claim that distinction; the ineffable Zico. 

Though perhaps not as celebrated as some of the other major stars of his time, there were none more iconic or influential within the sport as the man who became synonymous with free-kicks, and once got so bored with how easy football is that he completely invented his own type of finish. 

Here are four of his greatest hits. 


?Inspiring Flamengo to the Intercontinental Cup

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There was a brief period in the early 2000s when the Intercontinental Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup ran in tandem, but for all intents and purposes, the former was the predecessor to the latter. And in the 1980s, it was a pretty big deal to all involved. 

The final of the tournament typically saw the best of South America take on the best of Europe at a time when there was little to split the continent in terms of quality. Winning it meant a lot, and Flamengo’s 1981 victory over European champions Liverpool remains one of the proudest moments of the club’s history. 

They were inspired by Zico, who played like a man possessed as he terrorised one of the greatest ever Liverpool defences. The Reds had won the English first division in five of the last seven seasons and were fresh off the back of their third European Cup in five years to this point, but the likes of Phil Thompson and Alan Hansen were no match for Zico on the day, who was named man of the match in his side’s stunning 3-0 win. 


Breaking Records in 1982

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The 1982 World Cup is widely remembered as the one that got away for Brazil. Many had the name of the side that boasted the legendary Socrates and Falcao written on the trophy before a ball was kicked, but a desperate stroke of bad luck saw them draw Italy and Argentina in the second group stage, and they crashed out to the Italians – who went on to win the tournament. 

That wasn’t before Zico scored or assisted a World Cup record eight consecutive goals, however, helping Brazil to wins over the Soviet Union, Scotland, New Zealand and Argentina before a Paolo Rossi hat trick proved their undoing in a 3-2 defeat that is still remembered as one of the all-time great international matches. 


Free-Kick vs Scotland

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Perhaps the most famous free-kick ever scored at a World Cup came as Zico equalised against Scotland in his side’s second group game. 

An unbelievably clean hit from a central position nestled gently into Allan Rough’s top left hand corner, and couldn’t have been better placed had he thrown it in from half a yard out. Brazil, naturally, won the game 4-1. 


Patenting the Scorpion Kick 

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For all the goals he scored at World Cups, in Brazil and in Italy, however, Zico’s personal favourite goal remains one he scored for Kashima Antlers. 

And why wouldn’t it be? The technique he pulled off, now universally known as the near-impossible ‘scorpion kick’ was like nothing ever seen to this point, and a fitting testament to his unprecedented ability.


90min’s ‘Top 50 Greatest Footballers of All Time’ can be found here.

Number 50: Luka Modric

Number 49: John Charles

Number 48: Hugo Sanchez

Number 47: Jairzinho

Number 46: Omar Sivori

Number 45: Paolo Rossi

Number 44: Paul Breitner

Number 43: George Weah

Number 42: Kaka

Number 41: Lev Yashin

Number 40: Gunnar Nordahl

Number 39: Kevin Keegan

Number 38: Hristo Stoichkov

Number 37: Gianluigi Buffon

Number 36: Johan Neeskens

Number 35: Xavi Hernandez

Number 34: Luis Suarez

Number 33: Karl-Heinz Rummenigge

Number 32: Andres Iniesta

Number 31: Rivelino

Number 30: Bobby Moore

Number 29: Socrates

Number 28: Sandor Kocsis

Number 27: Lothar Matthaus

Number 26: Ronaldinho

Number 25: Ruud Gullit

Number 24: Bobby Charlton

Number 23: Giuseppe Meazza

Number 22: Raymond Kopa

Number 21: Romario

Number 20: Eusebio

Number 19: Marco van Basten

Number 18: ?George Best


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