FOUR THINGS WE LEARNED: Magical Lionel Messi and morose Jose Mourinho

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Lionel Messi got his season off to a goal-scoring start with a brace against Alaves. (AFP)
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Lionel Messi got his season off to a goal-scoring start with a brace against Alaves. (AFP)
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Lionel Messi got his season off to a goal-scoring start with a brace against Alaves. (AFP)
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Lionel Messi got his season off to a goal-scoring start with a brace against Alaves. (AFP)
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Updated 21 August 2018
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FOUR THINGS WE LEARNED: Magical Lionel Messi and morose Jose Mourinho

LONDON: After an action-packed weekend of football across Europe, here is what we learned from the top divisions of the football-mad continent.

REDS AND CITY LOOK A CLASS APART

Both Manchester City and Liverpool have two wins from two and both have barely broken sweat. Before the season kicked off it was predicted that this pair would battle it out for the title and so far neither has done anything for anyone to question that. City were simply devastating in their 6-1 demolition of Huddersfield — a victory so clinical and simplistic in its execution that it seems safe to say that Pep Guardiola’s team have got better over the summer. Benjamin Mendy back and fit is as good as a new signing, and a look at their subs bench — Kyle Walker, Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez and Leroy Sane — is enough to make anyone wince. It is much the same story for Liverpool. The Reds barely got out of third gear in their 2-0 win at Crystal Palace, a place where good sides will go and leave with nothing this season. It was an ominous result and one that bodes well for Jurgen Klopp’s men.



SERIE A IS NOT LA LIGA

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus debut was not what the Portuguese star would have wished for. The Old Lady may have won, but that fact it was a very tight game — the Bianconeri were forced to come from behind before a last-minute winner gifted them a tense 3-2 win against Chievo — and he did not score would have doubtless left Ronaldo less than ecstatic. The match was perhaps a little taster of what the 33-year-old can expect. Serie A has far more tighter matches than in Spain and defenses are harder to breach. Clearly Ronaldo has the talent to shine in Italy, and in Juve he is at the best club. But if he is expecting to find it as easy as he made it look for Real Madrid he had better think again.



NEW SEASON, SAME MESSI

There is very much a changing of the guard feel to Barcelona this campaign. Andres Iniesta has gone and the side has a different feel to it than the ones that have dominated the domestic scene of the past 10 years. But newly installed as captain Lionel Messi did more than enough to suggest that he will pick up any slack left by club legend Iniesta. Harshly criticized at the World Cup, the Argentine ace got back to doing what he does best: Scoring goals. Messi got a brace in Barca’s 3-0 win over Alaves and in doing so netted the Catalan giants’ 6,000 top-flight goal — he also got their 5,000th eight years ago.



MOURINHO NEEDS TO LIVEN UP

If you have spent your entire managerial career squeezing the life out of football, is it any surprise when football then squeezes the life out of you? Ever since he arrived at Old Trafford the Portuguese boss has looked miserable. He always sees himself as the victim, a mentality that is as telling as it is perverse. Just two games into the season and United are a club in crisis and a lot of that has to do with Mourinho’s mentality. While he did not get the central defender he craved in the summer, he would do well to remember that he signed the two center-backs that played in the 3-2 defeat at Brighton. More moaning and being morose will neither help him nor United. It is time for Jose to smile.

 


‘Being able to play football is not enough’ — Chiellini urges players to study

Updated 17 October 2018
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‘Being able to play football is not enough’ — Chiellini urges players to study

  • Giorgio Chiellini: Studying helped me relieve some of the pressure in the world of football, and kept my brain sharp
  • Chiellini: As a footballer, you need to start thinking about life after football at the beginning of your career, not at the end

MILAN: Italy and Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini urged players to think more about their careers after football on Wednesday as he helped launch an education campaign led by global players’ union FIFPro.
Chiellini, 34, studied for a degree in economics and a Masters in business administration at Turin University at the same time as winning seven straight Serie A titles with Juventus from 2012.
“Studying helped me relieve some of the pressure in the world of football, and kept my brain sharp,” said the Juventus captain.
But only 13 percent of footballers have a higher education compared to 53 percent of men in Europe, says FIFPro.
“As a footballer, at 20 years old you feel indestructible and able to do anything in football,” said Chiellini.
“But at 35 your career is more or less finished. You then have the rest of your life in front of you, and just being able to play football is not enough.
“Only a few players manage to find a job in football. There’s also the risk of depression, and there are many former players with financial problems because they have not thought about what they are going to do, they have not opened their minds by studying.”
The towering defender from Pisa started his career at Tuscany club Livorno before joining Roma, with a season spent on loan at Fiorentina before signing for Juventus in 2005.
“As a footballer, you need to start thinking about life after football at the beginning of your career, not at the end,” added Chiellini who has also played 99 times for Italy.
“If you are not sharp in matches you can’t make the quick decisions that you need to reach the top level in football.”
As part of the ‘Mind the Gap’ campaign, player development managers (PDMs) will be appointed at several national player associations to help footballers prepare for life after retirement.
“The statistics show each year professional footballers are not as prepared as other workers to enter the employment market outside football,” FIFPro secretary general Theo van Seggelen said.
“With this campaign, we are encouraging players and player associations to work together to correct this.”