Simeone becomes Atletico’s best-ever coach with UEFA Super Cup win

Diego Simeone has become Atletico Madrid’s most successful coach after winning his seventh major title.

The Argentine was serving a touchline ban as Atleti beat city rivals Real Madrid 4-2 after extra time in a thrilling UEFA Super Cup in Tallinn on Wednesday.

Diego Costa struck a brace as Atletico followed up their Europa League triumph with their first title of 2018-19, Saul Niguez and Koke wrapping up victory in the added period.

The 2018 UEFA Super Cup adds to their success in the competition in 2012 under Simeone, as well as the Copa del Rey and Supercopa de Espana titles they have won since he took charge seven years ago.

Atleti’s top honour under Simeone remains the 2013-14 La Liga title, and they look set to challenge Madrid and Barcelona again this term.

Last season’s Europa League triumph was the second under Simeone, who has now won more major honours than the six titles collected by Luis Aragones across his four spells at the club.

He also becomes the first Atletico manager to win a final against Real Madrid in three different competitions having triumphed against the club’s neighbours in the Copa del Rey, Supercopa de Espana and UEFA Super Cup.

In contrast, Julen Lopetegui became the first Madrid coach to lose his first competitive game in charge since Bernd Schuster in 2007.

Lopetegui is also the first Real Madrid coach to concede four or more goals in his first competitive game in charge since Michael Keeping against Celta Vigo 60 years ago.

Let’s block ads!

No Ronaldo, no Zidane, no trophy! Costa mauls Madrid’s defence in Super Cup shocker

No Ronaldo, no Zidane, and no trophy!

We knew before Wednesday’s UEFA Super Cup final that Real Madrid would face Atletico Madrid without both Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo. 

What we did not know was that the reigning European champions would also turn up in Tallinn without a defence. 

Madrid’s back four were wretched, badly beaten up by the brilliant Diego Costa, but ultimately undone by their own ineptitude. 

Every goal Real conceded in their 4-2 defeat at the A. Le Coq Arena featured at least one horrendous error from a defensive perspective. 

In that context, it would be wrong to apportion too much of the blame to Julen Lopetegui, especially given rustiness could well have been a factor in his players’ shocking sloppiness, but this was a disconcerting debut for the Blancos’ new boss.

Indeed, not since Michael Keeping in 1948 had a Real coach seen his side concede four times in his first game at the helm and that the defeat came at the hands of their city rivals only made the experience all the more galling. 

Death, taxes and beating Atletico in European finals – they are the three constants in life, as far as Real fans are concerned. As a result, this loss will only heighten the sense of unease among the Bernabeu faithful ahead of the new season. 

The build-up had been shrouded in enough uncertainty, as far as they were concerned. How would Real play without Zidane? How would they fare without Ronaldo?

The last thing Madrid supporters wanted to see, then, was such a horribly disjointed, disorganised display. 

The strange and unsettling lack of solidity was evident from the off, too, with Real conceding the fastest goal in Super Cup history. Costa required just 49 seconds to open the scoring, taking advantage of not one, not two, but three Real errors.

Saul Niguez Atletico Madrid Real Madrid UEFA Super Cup 2018

Diego Costa Raphael Varane Atletico Madrid Real Madrid UEFA Super Cup 2018

Sergio Ramos cut an uncharacteristically passive figure as the Atleti striker brushed him aside to win his own knock-on, while Raphael Varane got his footwork all wrong as he rushed across in a desperate attempt to snuff out the danger, thus allowing Costa to nod the ball past him.

Even then, though, Costa had no right to score from such an acute angle. His shot was fiercely struck but Keylor Navas was unforgivably beaten at his near post. 

It was a mistake that would have hit the Costa Rican hard. With new signing Thibaut Courtois ineligible to play in Estonia, the Super Cup represented an excellent opportunity for him to show that he will not give up his starting berth without a fight.

Instead, he merely gave Lopetegui a convenient excuse for dropping him for this weekend’s Liga opener against Getafe. The goalkeeper may not be the only one benched either. 

Varane got worse the longer the game went on and it was he who was dispossessed in the lead-up to Atletico’s third goal, from Koke.

Of course, Ramos, who had put Real ahead with a penalty, had done his central defensive partner no favours at all by needlessly putting him under pressure while facing his own goal and stood on the edge of his own box.

Dani Carvajal was also barged far too easily off the ball by Costa in the lead-up to Atletico’s killer fourth goal, while quite what Marcelo was trying to achieve by keeping the ball in play before Costa’s earlier equaliser is anyone’s guess. 

Before the game, the question had been whether Real would carry the same cutting edge without Ronaldo but Marco Asensio did enough to suggest that he has a big season in him, while Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema combined for a terrific goal that served as a scintillating reminder of their enduring class.

However, they were unable to make up for the deficiencies of those at the back as Madrid conceded four goals against Atletico in a final for the first time.

Lopetegui had spoken beforehand about forgetting the past in order to continue making history in the future. Real losing a first final in 18 years was most certainly not what he had in mind, though. 

Consequently, his present will not be about making more history but simply ensuring that his new Madrid side kick off their Liga campaign on Sunday looking something like their old selves.

Let’s block ads!

Gundogan ready to step up in absence of injured De Bruyne

Ilkay Gundogan is ready to step up and help fill the void left by Manchester City talisman Kevin De Bruyne after the Belgian suffered a knee injury on Wednesday that left him on crutches.

City confirmed after training on Wednesday that De Bruyne had sustained an injury during the session and that he would be sent for further tests.

They refused to specify what they believe the injury to be or how long he will be missing for, but Goal understands De Bruyne could miss between two and three months.

Should such speculation prove accurate, City’s Premier League title defence would suffer an early blow, but Gundogan – who only started half of his 30 top-flight appearances last season – thinks he can shoulder some of the burden of replacing him.

“Yeah, I do feel fresh – maybe because the World Cup was also very short for us [Germany], unfortunately,” Gundogan told Omnisport.

“But I do feel ready. I was able to play nearly a full season last season after having big injuries. It was tough.

“At the end, I look at my stats and I made about 50 games last season. It was a really good run for myself.

“So I hope this one will be similar, especially in terms of the way we play and in terms of winning.”

Nevertheless, Gundogan is hopeful De Bruyne is able to feature again soon given his importance to their title charge last term.

“Actually I didn’t even see what exactly happened because it was at my back,” he added. “Obviously, we are all hoping that it is not too serious because Kevin, especially last season, had a great impact on us.

“He’s very important – a key player for us, so we hope he is able to return as quick as possible.”

Fellow midfielder Fernandinho believes De Bruyne is not coping too badly with the situation, and he echoed Gundogan’s sentiments about the 27-year-old’s importance.

“He’s OK. We don’t know yet what has happened and as soon as the doctor knows we will have the news,” Fernandinho said.

“Of course, he has been so important for us last season and I hope he can get well soon to play football again as soon as possible.”

Gundogan and Fernandinho were speaking at the world premiere of All or Nothing: Manchester City, available on Amazon Prime Video from Thursday.

Let’s block ads!

Kroos slams Ozil’s ‘nonsense’ racism accusations

Germany star Toni Kroos has hit out at former international team-mate Mesut Ozil, suggesting his claims of racism within the team and German federation are “nonsense.”

Ozil stepped away from Germany duty last month at age 29 , citing racism as the main culprit after a controversial pre-World Cup photo session with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The criticism Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan received for the photo intensified following Germany’s shocking World Cup exit at the group stage. 

The Arsenal star said that the lack of backing he received from the German federation made him “no longer want to wear the German national team shirt.”

But Kroos has launched a scathing assessment of Ozil’s claims. 

“The proportion that is well and properly addressed in [Ozil’s] statement is unfortunately overshadowed by the much higher proportion of nonsense,” the Real Madrid star told Bild

“I think that he knows that racism does not exist within the national team and the DFB,” Kroos continued.

“On the contrary, we are always committed to diversity and integration. Mesut was a good example, as many of our fellow players [were].”

Toni Kroos Mesut Ozil Germany 2018

Kross went on to address the controversial photo with Erdogan, which Ozil says led to him being slammed for his Turkish heritage. 

“I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose,” Ozil said last month. 

Kroos, again, disagreed with Ozil’s characterisation. 

“Mesut was criticized for the photo – and rightly so,” Kroos said.

“And he missed the chance to explain himself. Nevertheless, he was absolutely supported by the athletic leadership and the team.

“Later he was – as we others also – criticized for the performance at the World Cup. The type of criticism was certainly not always at a good level – but you have to go through [that] as a player.”

Let’s block ads!

Mexicans Abroad: Jimenez scores in PL debut, Lozano picks up where he left off

Some of Europe’s top leagues returned to play over the weekend, and there were plenty of Mexican players involved in the action.

Raul Jimenez had a fantastic Premier League debut, scoring a goal in the 80th minute of Wolves’ 2-2 draw with Everton. While that was the icing on the cake of a strong day, Jimenez has to be thrilled to have been thrown right into the starting lineup after spending most of his career with previous club Benfica as a super sub. 

The more famous Mexican central forward playing in England, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez hardly had as good of a weekend. He began the match on the bench, continuing a theme that started last season, but did come on as a substitute for West Ham United. The Hammers, however, lost 4-0 to Liverpool in their first match under Manuel Pellegrini.

In the Netherlands, things started well for Hirving Lozano. After scoring 17 goals in his first Eredivisie season, Lozano found the back of the net in a 4-0 victory over Utrecht. The goal takes him past center back Hector Moreno, who played with AZ and PSV in his career, as the top Mexican goalscorer all-time in the Dutch league.

Not that the Netherlands always has been a happy place for Mexican players. Goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa went to Amsterdam and came back with a 3-0 defeat that eliminated his Standard Liege side from the Champions League. He also has an uncertain future. While his contract with the Belgian club runs through the rest of this season, he appeared set for a move abroad. However, Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis said Wednesday that Ochoa’s lack of an EU passport will prevent the Serie A side from making a move.

Mexicans Abroad Minute S02 E01

The Mexicans Abroad Minute is back! Let’s review some excellent showings by Raul Jimenez and Hirving Lozano, plus talk about El Tri stars who aren’t doing so well.
Posted by Jon Arnold on Wednesday, August 15, 2018

While Ochoa may not be on the move, Marco Fabian could need to find a new home. Fabian is one of several players who new Frankfurt coach Adi Hutter has informed are unlikely to figure in his plans. Fabian started but was substituted from Frankfurt’s 5-0 defeat to Bayern in the German Super Cup. Mexican center back Carlos Salcedo also suited up for The Eagles in the lopsided defeat.

Oswaldo Alanis also is on the hunt for a new club. While he’s yet to play a single minute for Getafe, the La Liga side has decided he’s surplus at center back. The former Chivas defender would like to stay in Europe and is exploring his options.

Let’s block ads!