Jesus, Coutinho left out of Brazil squad for friendlies

Jesus, Coutinho left out of Brazil squad for friendlies
Arsenal’s forward Gabriel Jesus and his countryman Philippe Coutinho left out of Brazil’s squad for upcoming friendlies against Ghana and Tunisia on Friday. (Reuters)
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Updated 09 September 2022

Jesus, Coutinho left out of Brazil squad for friendlies

Jesus, Coutinho left out of Brazil squad for friendlies
  • The five-time world champions face Ghana in French city Le Havre on September 23
  • Jesus featured 11 times for Brazil in World Cup qualifying without scoring

RIO DE JANEIRO: Gabriel Jesus and Philippe Coutinho were both left out of Brazil’s squad for upcoming friendlies against Ghana and Tunisia on Friday as Tite’s side warm up for the World Cup.
The five-time world champions face Ghana in French city Le Havre on September 23 before taking on Tunisia four days later at the Parc des Princes.
Jesus, who has impressed this season since joining Premier League leaders Arsenal from Manchester City, featured 11 times for Brazil in World Cup qualifying without scoring.
The tournament gets underway in Qatar on November 20.
Coutinho, who has scored 21 goals in 68 international appearances, has made a slow start to the campaign with Steven Gerrard’s struggling Aston Villa.
Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar is unsurprisingly in the squad and could play at his home club ground in the Tunisia game, alongside PSG teammate Marquinhos.
Brazil will start their bid for a sixth World Cup against Serbia on November 24 in Lusail, with further Group G games against Switzerland and Cameroon.


Dutch, Argentines meet again with World Cup history in the air

Dutch, Argentines meet again with World Cup history in the air
Updated 23 sec ago

Dutch, Argentines meet again with World Cup history in the air

Dutch, Argentines meet again with World Cup history in the air
  • Argentina have the pride that comes from being two-times world champions
  • Netherlands carry the baggage of being three-times beaten finalists

DOHA: Merely a glance at their iconic orange or blue and white striped shirts is enough to evoke memories of World Cups past and more history will surely be written on Friday when the Netherlands face Argentina in their quarterfinal.

Argentina have the pride that comes from being two-times world champions while the Netherlands carry the baggage of being three-times beaten finalists.

The game is far from being a nostalgia-fest, however, pitting one of the greatest forward of all time against one of the finest defenders of the modern era, with Lionel Messi trying to unpick a defense marshalled by Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk.

The game also pits the youngest manager in the tournament against the oldest.

Argentina’s 44-year-old coach Lionel Scaloni, in his first major tournament, will have to out-think the wily 71-year-old Louis van Gaal, whose resume includes league titles with Barcelona and Bayern Munich as well as a Champions League victory with Ajax.

The South Americans came into the tournament, as always, with high hopes in their homeland of a victory to match those celebrated in 1978 and 1986, while the Dutch had more tempered expectations given their failure to qualify four years ago.

It has been smooth progress in Qatar for the Dutch though, who topped their group and then beat the US in the last 16 with some comfort and style, looking solid at the back and — despite critics labelling them dull — — increasingly effective in their attacking play.

With Memphis Depay’s fitness gradually improving and Cody Gakpo having enjoyed a good tournament, the Dutch have a punch to their attack that many feared would be missing.

Argentina began the tournament with a shock loss to Saudi Arabia, one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history, but recovered to finish first in the group. Messi then turned on the style as they overcame Australia to book their place in the last eight.

Van Gaal unsurprisingly sees Messi’s creativity as a serious threat but he raised some eyebrows when he also hinted at the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner’s lack of defensive work-rate.

“Messi is the most dangerous creative player, he is able to create a lot and to score goals himself. But when they lose the ball he doesn’t participate much, this gives us chances,” he said.

Surprisingly, given their pedigree, Argentina have never beaten the Netherlands inside 90 minutes in their nine meetings in World Cup and friendly encounters.

But it is their victory on penalties in Sao Paulo in the semifinal in 2014 that lingers in the mind for Van Gaal, who was in charge of the Netherlands at the time.

Van Gaal noted that while Messi was neutralized by the Netherlands in that game it counted for little given that the Argentines advanced after a shootout to end the Dutch dream of finally celebrating a World Cup title.

A fonder memory for Dutch fans is of the 1998 World Cup where Dennis Bergkamp secured a place in the last eight with a wonderful last-minute finish in a 2-1 victory.

Bergkamp is one of many superb talents that the Netherlands has produced since they made the world take notice of them in the 1970s with a team inspired by the brilliant Johan Cruyff.

Widely considered to be one of the best teams never to win the World Cup, the Dutch finished runners-up in 1974 and 1978 — in the latter final losing 3-1 to hosts Argentina.

Top technical skills and clever tactics have been part of the Dutch game ever since but World Cup success has evaded them, with only the 1988 European Championship title offering some consolation.

There is no player of the level of Bergkamp, Cruyff or Marco van Basten in this current version of the team in orange, with perhaps only the towering center-half Van Dijk meriting comparison in terms of class.

But the Argentines, who know their football history and their struggles with the Netherlands, expect to face a well-drilled team which so far in this tournament has not looked in much trouble.

“It’s not as brilliant as previous Dutch teams, but they are very clear on what they do,” said Scaloni. “This is going to be a great match between two historic teams.”


Miedema fires Arsenal closer to Women's Champions League last eight

Miedema fires Arsenal closer to Women's Champions League last eight
Updated 3 min 41 sec ago

Miedema fires Arsenal closer to Women's Champions League last eight

Miedema fires Arsenal closer to Women's Champions League last eight
  • Miedema found the net after 16 minutes as the London side opened a three-point lead over defending champions Lyon

PARIS: Dutch international Vivianne Miedema scored the only goal as Arsenal defeated Juventus 1-0 on Wednesday to move to the brink of the Women’s Champions League quarter-finals.

Miedema found the net after 16 minutes from a Stina Blackstenius cross as the London side opened a three-point lead over defending champions Lyon.

They also have a five-point advantage on Juventus with just two group games left later this month.

Earlier, Lyon romped past Zurich 4-0 in their Group C clash with striker Melvine Malard scoring twice.

American international Lindsey Horan put Lyon 1-0 up on 14 minutes before Malard made it 2-0 with a towering header on the six-yard line after 65 minutes.

Malard nodded home again with 10 minutes remaining before Delphine Cascarino’s long range shot deep into injury-time made it 4-0.

“We’re back in it,” said Lyon coach Sonia Bompastor. “Now we have to win our last two games... our destiny is in our hands.”

In Group D, Bayern Munich defeated Barcelona for the first time in four attempts as a 3-1 win took them level on nine points with the Spanish side at the top of the table.

Klara Buehl, on her 22nd birthday, and Lina Magull put the German side 2-0 up inside the opening 10 minutes in front of a crowd of 24,000 at the Allianz Arena.

Lea Schueller added a third on the hour mark before Brazilian forward Geyse hit a consolation for the Spanish vistors five minutes later.

Benfica are third with six points after coming from behind to defeat Swedish outfit Rosengard 3-1.

The home side took an early lead through Olivia Schough after 30 minutes.

But Benfica’s Canadian striker Cloe Lacasse scored twice in three minutes just before halftime with Nycole Raysla making it 3-1 shortly after the restart.


Vinícius Júnior thanks Ancelotti for success at World Cup

Vinícius Júnior thanks Ancelotti for success at World Cup
Updated 07 December 2022

Vinícius Júnior thanks Ancelotti for success at World Cup

Vinícius Júnior thanks Ancelotti for success at World Cup
  • Vinícius Júnior arrived in Qatar without knowing if he was going to get a chance to start for Brazil
  • He said Ancelotti was one of the people who gave him guidance ahead of soccer’s biggest tournament

DOHA: Brazil forward Vinícius Júnior praised Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti for his success at the World Cup.
Vinícius Júnior arrived in Qatar without knowing if he was going to get a chance to start for Brazil, but heading into Friday’s quarterfinal match against Croatia, no one questions his spot in the lineup or his importance for the team.
He said Ancelotti was one of the people who gave him guidance ahead of soccer’s biggest tournament.
“I talked with Ancelotti and he gave me a lot of advice to help me become a starter with Brazil. He gave me a lot of confidence,” the 22-year-old Vinícius Júnior said Wednesday. “He was always was tough with me when he needed to be. He is like a father to me.”
Vinícius Júnior was often questioned at Madrid while Zinedine Zidane was the coach, but quickly established himself as a starter with Ancelotti in command. The Brazil forward said the Italian coach is always sending him messages.
“He is good not only with the technical aspects of the game, but also with how he deals with his players,” Vinícius Júnior said. “I have been improving a lot and Ancelotti has helped me with that. He and (Brazil coach) Tite are very similar and they talk to each other a lot.”
Vinícius Júnior, who has a goal and two assists in the three World Cup games, said he also learned from Madrid midfielder Luka Modric, who will be one of his opponents on Friday at Education City Stadium.
Vinícius Júnior said the pass he gave for Lucas Paquetá’s goal in the round of 16 against South Korea, using the outside of his foot, was something he learned from Modric at Madrid.
“He is always teaching me things, on and off the field,” Vinícius Júnior said. “He helps me every day, making sure I’m always improving. He is a reference to me, playing at a high level at 37 years old, that is something rare. I’m happy that I’ll be playing against him, and let the best team win.”
Within Brazil’s national team, Vinícius Júnior said he also gets advice from Neymar.
“He told me how the World Cup is different than anything else,” Vinícius Júnior said. “He told me that, and I always remember it. And when the national anthem played, I realized what it all meant.”
Vinícius Júnior was among the Brazilian players criticized for their dance celebrations at the World Cup. He had already been targeted because of that while with Madrid. But he promised even more dancing if Brazil keeps succeeding in Qatar.
“The goal is the most important moment in soccer, not only for those who score them but for the entire country,” he said. “We still have many celebrations left, and hopefully we can keep scoring and dancing like this until the final.”


Hansi Flick staying as Germany coach despite World Cup flop

Hansi Flick staying as Germany coach despite World Cup flop
Updated 07 December 2022

Hansi Flick staying as Germany coach despite World Cup flop

Hansi Flick staying as Germany coach despite World Cup flop
  • Flick was under pressure going into Wednesday’s meeting with Neuendorf and federation vice president Hans-Joachim Watzke
  • “We as a team can achieve much more than we showed in Qatar,” Flick said in the statement

BERLIN: The German soccer federation maintained its trust in Hansi Flick as national team coach on Wednesday despite the disappointing World Cup performance.
Federation president Bernd Neuendorf said the body has “full confidence” in Flick to lead the team through the 2024 European Championship, which Germany is scheduled to host and which Neuendorf described as a “great opportunity” for the future of soccer in the country.
Flick was under pressure going into Wednesday’s meeting with Neuendorf and federation vice president Hans-Joachim Watzke following Germany’s early World Cup exit, their third straight disappointing performance at a major tournament.
Flick left the meeting without a word, but was quoted in a statement from the federation.
“We as a team can achieve much more than we showed in Qatar,” Flick said in the statement. “We missed a big opportunity there. We’ll learn our lessons from it.”
Flick said he was optimistic about Euro 2024 and that he has confidence in the path Neuendorf and Watzke agreed to.
“We want all of Germany to rally behind the national team again at the 2024 European Championship at home,” said Flick, who faced criticism for his team selection and tactics against group rivals Japan, Spain and Costa Rica in Qatar.
Mistakes in defense, where Flick was unable to settle on his preferred back four, and an inability to put away chances cost Germany a place in the knockout round.
Germany’s record under Flick was also poor before the tournament. The former Bayern Munich coach took over from Joachim Löw last year after Germany’s second-round exit from the European Championship and has a contract through Euro 2024.
The federation still needs a replacement for Oliver Bierhoff, who ended an 18-year stint Monday when he agreed to resign as managing director of Germany’s national soccer teams and academy.
Bierhoff is the only casualty so far from Germany’s group-stage exit from the World Cup in Qatar, the team’s second straight embarrassing failure in soccer’s biggest tournament. Germany also was eliminated from the same stage at the 2018 World Cup as defending champion.
Hertha Berlin general manager Fredi Bobic is a reported candidate to take over from Bierhoff, though he said Wednesday he was “very comfortable at Hertha.” Bobic, who has a contract through 2024 with the Berlin club, did not rule himself out, however.
Flick appeared to criticize the federation for Bierhoff’s exit on Tuesday, when he said both he and his coaching staff “are having a hard time imagining how the gap left by Oliver’s departure can be closed.”
The German soccer league was to meet separately later Wednesday when the future of chief executive Donata Hopfen was to be discussed.
Confirmation of Hopfen’s departure after less than a year in charge was expected amid simmering issues of discontent among Bundesliga clubs and teams from the second division.
Hopfen took over from Christian Seifert in January as the first female chief executive of Germany’s top two soccer divisions but has struggled to impose her vision or resolve long-standing questions on issues such as the league’s 50+1 rule limiting the role of outside investors, marketing at home and abroad, and the sale of media rights.
Hopfen’s contract runs through 2024. Asked in October how much support she was getting from league members, she told Kicker magazine, “there’s always room for more.”


Newcastle United hold international fan event during stay in Riyadh

Newcastle United hold international fan event during stay in Riyadh
Updated 07 December 2022

Newcastle United hold international fan event during stay in Riyadh

Newcastle United hold international fan event during stay in Riyadh
  • More than 100 supporters spend time with club’s management, coach Eddie Howe, players
  • Newcastle United fan Mark Allison: They (the owners) wanted to hear our opinions; they wanted to know what they could do for international fans

RIYADH: Newcastle United’s first international fan event in Saudi Arabia brought together supporters of the club from several continents and countries.

About 100 fans from across the Gulf region and beyond converged on the Hyatt Regency Riyadh Olaya Hotel to hear talks from PCP Capital Partners’ Amanda Staveley, RB Sports & Media’s Jamie Reuben, United head coach Eddie Howe, Magpies’ CEO Darren Eales, and a selection of players and other club representatives.

It was the first time United have ever taken part in a fan engagement exercise of this nature, and a first for the Saudi capital.

Staveley and Reuben posed for photographs with supporters, signed flags and discussed the future direction of the club.

Kuwaiti Bader Marafi, a United fan since 1996, told Arab News: “It is a dream come true.

“This is the first time I have been close to the Newcastle hierarchy and the players.

“I have been able to talk to them, exchange ideas. We (need to) thank the club, the staff, the players and everybody for giving us this glorious opportunity.”

His sentiments were echoed by Mark Allison, who made the trip of more than 3,000 miles to be at the event.

He said: “It was great engagement, great interaction.

“Everything felt so welcoming. They (the owners) wanted to hear our opinions. They wanted to know what they could do for international fans.”

For Neil Mitchell, a former fan representative with the NUFC Supporters Trust and a long-term friend of co-owners Staveley and Mehrdad Ghodoussi, it was an emotional moment following his trip from Dubai.

He said: “For her to come over and speak to me and my friend Steve (Hastie) was touching. I was really delighted.

“In this region people will follow the lead of Saudi Arabia: it is the big brother of the region.

“Everyone wants success and that’s why there is every confidence this club’s profile will continue to grow in the Middle East.

“It will also spread far beyond that. The potential for growth of this club is exponential.”

Joe Moore, the former head of protest group Toon For Change, was bowled over by the welcome after traveling from Tyneside for the event.

He said: “It has been amazing. The people keep stopping me when I am walking in my Newcastle shirt and they want to talk about the club.

“I wanted to come and experience this country for myself, and it has been amazing.

“I can’t speak highly enough of it. I would definitely look to come back here in the future.”

Popular YouTuber Adam Pearson was similarly impressed by the welcome.

He said: “Everyone is really friendly. It is crazy how friendly people are.

“I will tell other fans that a trip here is worth it.”

Riyadh resident Abdullah Alqashami says that although Newcastle are not yet a huge name in the Kingdom, their popularity is growing.

He added: “Newcastle is not just a team to support, it is a way of life: the stadium, the fans.

“Having a chance to speak to people at the club is very special to me.

“People believe in the vision. Saudis love their country and they will support Newcastle.”