The municipality of Naples has voted in favour of renaming Napoli’s stadium after the late Diego Maradona.
The legendary player and two-time scudetto winner with Napoli passed away last month at the age of 60, with the news prompting an outpouring of emotion in Italy and around the world.
In the wake of his death, both the mayor of Naples and club president Aurelio de Laurentiis spoke in favour of changing the name of Napoli’s home ground – the Stadio San Paolo – to honour Maradona.
Now, the municipality has unanimously passed a resolution to change the name of the venue to the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.
The municipality’s statement reads: “With a resolution approved today, the stadium was named after Diego Armando Maradona.
“The resolution was proposed by Mayor Luigi de Magistris, by the Councillor for Toponymy Alessandre Clemente and signed by the entire City Council, which met in Palazzo San Giacomo.
“Shortly before the Executive Committee meeting, the Advisory Commission for City Toponomy had approved the proposal of the Mayor, the Councillor for Toponomy Allessandra Clemente and the City Council, naming the San Paolo stadium after Diego Armando Maradona with the name Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.”
The club have since confirmed in a short statement that the ground has been renamed, and there will be no joint name, such as the San Paolo-Maradona, as had been mooted previously.
The 55,000-seater stadium played home to Maradona’s best years as a footballer. The Argentine forward joined Napoli from Barcelona in 1984 and took the club to their only two Serie A titles to date, as well as the UEFA Cup in 1989.
The famous stadium also hosted the 1990 World Cup semi-final between Italy and Argentina, in which Maradona starred.
Following news of Maradona’s death, fans gathered outside the stadium to sing and pay their respects to a man many consider to be the best footballer of all time.
Though likely to be an overwhelmingly popular decision, the name change will not go down well with everyone in the city of Naples.
As reported by Football Italia, a group of priests wrote to the city’s archbishop to take a stand against the renaming, prior to the municipality’s announcement.
“The Stadio San Paolo should be name after the saint who brought us Jesus,” their letter reads.
– The handsome leader of the European Player Power Rankings was again put in charge.
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“What is a ghost? A tragedy condemned to repeat itself time and again? An instant of pain, perhaps. Something dead which still seems to be alive. An emotion suspended in time. Like a blurred photograph. Like an insect trapped in amber.” (The Devil’s Backbone)
Juventus look like a ghost of their former selves.
Andrea Pirlo’s side bagged their fourth 1-1 draw in their last six Serie A games this week, handing a point to strugglers Benevento and falling further behind in the title race.
“Nobody asks to be a hero, it just sometimes turns out that way.” (Black Hawk Down)
The unbeaten run is alive, and it’s all down to Max Kruse’s late equaliser in the 3-3 draw with Frankfurt.
Union Berlin have lost just once this season, and that came back on opening weekend.
“My dear Frodo, Hobbits really are amazing creatures. You can learn all that there is to know about their ways in a month and yet, after a hundred years, they can still surprise you.” (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring)
Just when Roma were starting to look like potential title contenders, they fell to a 3-0 loss to Napoli.
The 11-game unbeaten streak is well and truly over.
“I don’t like this ending.” (Moulin Rouge!)
The next unbeaten run to come to an end this week is that of Sassuolo, whose 3-0 loss to Inter spoiled the fun of eight games without defeat.
“Roz, my tender, oozing blossom you’re looking fabulous today. Is that a new haircut?” (Monsters, Inc.)
Speaking of Inter, they were definitely looking fabulous this week.
After putting three past Sassuolo, they repeated the feat against Gladbach (albeit conceding twice) to keep their Champions League qualification hopes alive.
“A brilliant man will find a way not to fight a war.” (Pearl Harbor)
Bayer Leverkusen ensured they didn’t have to fight a final-day war for qualification to the Europa League knockout stages by picking up a 3-2 win over Nice.
That, incidentally, may have been the final nail in Patrick Vieira’s coffin as he’s now been sacked as manager of the Ligue 1 club.
For Bayer, it was a positive end to a week which also saw them fall to a frustrating goalless draw with Hertha Berlin.
“This is the part where you run away.” (Shrek)
Rangers, under the stewardship of a certain Steven Gerrard, are running away with the Scottish Premiership title, make no mistake.
They didn’t even play in that competition this week, instead storming to wins against Falkirk and Standard Liege to keep their hopes of a trophy-laden season alive.
“On a similar note I must confess to you, I’m giving very serious thought… to eating your wife.” (Hannibal)
Dortmund weren’t eating wives this week, just a losses.
The shock 2-1 loss to Koln was followed by a 1-1 draw with Lazio, but the biggest loss of all could be learning that Erling Haaland is out for around a month with an injury.
“You want to know what’s real? This. This. This. This is real. Maybe the part… that knows the waking from the dream, maybe it isn’t here.” (A Beautiful Mind)
Real Sociedad’s dream of winning the La Liga title is still alive… but only just.
A 1-1 draw with Villarreal was impressive but still leaves them vulnerable at the top of the table, and the 2-2 draw with HNK Rijeka in the Europa League won’t exactly raise spirits.
“The greatest single human gift – the ability to chase down our dreams.” (A.I. Artificial Intelligence)
The team really chasing the title dream is Atletico, whose 1-0 win over Valencia leaves them just one point behind Sociedad with two games in hand.
If you’re not buying into it, Diego Simeone’s men even came within four minutes of beating reigning European champions Bayern Munich. They mean business.
“I promise, that one day, everything’s going to be better for you.” (Donnie Darko)
One day, the injury crisis will be over.
Unfortunately for Liverpool, today is not that day.
James Milner limped off in the 1-1 draw with Brighton and he was forced to miss the 1-0 win over Ajax, leaving Jurgen Klopp with a real midfield headache.
“A trench is a trench. They’re all the same.” (No Man’s Land)
Qualification is qualification. It’s all the same… even if you have to limp there.
Tottenham followed their underwhelming 0-0 draw with Chelsea with a rollercoaster 3-3 draw with LASK, so while it was a pretty rough week, at least they made it to the next round of the Europa League.
“What did you put in that sandwich?” (The Fast and the Furious)
Whatever Chelsea put in Olivier Giroud’s sandwiches this week, they need to keep doing it.
The Frenchman put four past Sevilla to ensure Chelsea will finish top of their Champions League group, extending the Blues’ unbeaten run to 12 games in the process.
“What are you doing? We don’t stop here.” (Mulholland Drive)
Bayern Munich haven’t lost a Champions League game since March 2019, and they decided that that run wasn’t coming to an end this week.
Thomas Muller stepped up to net an 86th minute penalty to stop Bayern from falling to defeat against Atletico, keeping them comfortably top of Group A.
Ruthless German efficiency at its absolute best, that.
“There is no good and evil. There is only power… and those too weak to seek it.” (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone)
Few sides in Europe know power quite like AC Milan right now.
A 2-0 win over Fiorentina was followed by a 4-2 win over Celtic, and Stefano Pioli’s men are in with a shout of topping their Europa League group as well. A good week.
Manchester United have revealed their provisional plans for the return of supporters to Old Trafford, to be implemented when Greater Manchester comes out of Tier 3 restrictions.
As it stands, the Red Devils are still unable to welcome fans back into the stadium in line with strict government coronavirus protocols, aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19.
But regional restrictions are to be reviewed on a regular basis, and a change in tiering could allow United to welcome 2,000 supporters to their Premier League clash with Leeds United on 20 December.
In anticipation of a potential return, the club have announced in a statement on their website advanced ticketing prices and safety measures. Tickets will be priced at £30 for adults, £15 for Under-20s and over 65s, while children will be charged just £10.
All general admission tickets will be located in sections of the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand and the Stretford End, and fans will be able to apply individually or in groups of two. Wheelchair positions, meanwhile, will also be available in the East Stand.
In terms of ticket distribution, the majority of tickets will be allocated to Season Ticket holders and a ballot will be held on a match-by-match basis to fill the remaining quota available. Applications for that ballot process will be accepted from Season Ticket holders who held their ticket in the 2019/20 season.
On the field, United’s season to date has been somewhat of a mixed bag, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side enjoying patches of good form and unexpected blips. The Red Devils were pasted 6-1 at home by Tottenham early on in the season, reigniting speculation over the Norwegian’s long-term future at the club.
Results have picked up since, but inconsistency continues to haunt United. Progress through to the last 16 of the Champions League now depends on a positive result against RB Leipzig in their final group game, and Solskjaer’s side are currently languishing ninth in the Premier League.
However, when put into context, United’s start to the domestic season hasn’t been too dissimilar to some of their rivals. Tottenham, under the guidance of former manager Jose Mourinho, top the table, but they are just five points ahead of the Red Devils having played a game more.
Manchester City are also struggling, while leaders Liverpool are not the all conquering force they were last season – though much of that can be attributed to a horrific number of injuries, as well as an insanely hectic fixture schedule.
This time last year, the role of full-back or wing-back on the right hand side of England’s defence belonged to Trent Alexander-Arnold.
He was part of a Liverpool team who had picked up 28 points from a possible 30, and sat six points clear at the top of the Premier League. The 2020 European Championships were just around the corner, and it seemed inconceivable that anyone could hijack Alexander-Arnold’s England starting position.
But fast forward a year, and global pandemic later, and that thought could very much become reality thanks to the rapid rise of another young English full-back – Reece James.
After a successful loan spell at Wigan Athletic over the course of the 2018/19 season, the fresh faced 20-year-old returned to parent club Chelsea raring to go.
His return coincided with the arrival of Frank Lampard, who promised he would give young players at the club a chance – in part due to the transfer ban in place. After making sporadic appearances last season, and generally good progress, James already finds himself a first team regular, starting eight of Chelsea’s ten Premier League fixtures so far.
The faith Lampard has put in James is highlighted by the decision to pick him over club captain Cesar Azpilicueta, who has been a constant over the course of his eight-year tenure at the club.
However, this faith looks to have been repaid with James looking more like the real deal as each game week passes by. You need only look at his recent performance during Chelsea’s tactical battle with Tottenham in a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge.
In a game that lacked genuine quality, a bright spark came in the form of James who was undoubtedly Chelsea’s most potent attacking threat. On numerous occasions the young full-back boomed down the right flank and had the quality to put in some simply sublime crosses. Sadly, teammate Tammy Abraham – for want of a better phrase – couldn’t finish his dinner when James put it on a plate for him.
Tall, quick and strong, James has all the traits to succeed at the highest level. His start to the season has garnered plenty of attention, even persuading Liverpool legend and Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness into admitting that he has ‘absolutely everything in his game.’
Furthermore, his excellence has coincided with an injury picked up by Alexander-Arnold in Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Manchester City at the start of November. The 22-year-old hasn’t been seen since, though he has been tipped to make his comeback against Wolves this weekend.
That period of time on the sidelines has ignited debate over who should be first choice for the national team, owing to James’ quick start to the campaign and Alexander-Arnold’s inability, so far, to hit the heights of last season.
Last year, Alexander-Arnold set a Premier League record for the most assists by a defender, notching up 13 over the course of the season. He only has one so far this time round, a stat which will be all too familiar to the many who picked him in their 2020/21 fantasy football teams.
There also remains lingering doubts over whether he possesses as much quality defensively as he does going forward. Alexander-Arnold was at fault on several occasions during Liverpool’s astonishing 7-2 defeat to Aston Villa, and many fondly recall to this day his comedic own goal against Leeds on the opening day – even if it was ruled out for offside.
But how do his statistics actually compare with that of James? Looking at their attacking stats, there is very little between them.
Both have one assist to their name this season, but James has been on the scoresheet once this campaign – that coming against Brighton on the opening day. Furthermore, James has completed 62 crosses in comparison with Alexander-Arnold’s 55, though it should be noted the latter has played 31 fewer minutes.
Perhaps the area where the key differences can be seen is defensively. James has completed 14 successful tackles in comparison with Alexander-Arnold’s six this season, while he has won a staggering 15 aerial battles whereas his fellow countryman has only come out on top in two.
With only 33 Premier League appearances to his name, James remains in the infancy of his career. Alexander-Arnold, on the other hand, has over 100 league appearances under his belt, not to mention Champions League and Premier League winners medals.
You would forgive Southgate if he decided to stick with a man who’s ascent over the last few years has been nothing short of remarkable. But James’ performances, both domestically and in the Champions League, will have given England’s manager food for thought.
The Three Lions’ current wing-back system suits both, but there’s no disputing that when the time comes to switch back to a four, James has a vastly superior defensive skillset to Alexander-Arnold.
Valencia have confirmed that young midfielder Yunus Musah has signed a new long-term contract at the Mestalla.
The 18-year-old, who left Arsenal’s academy in 2019, has blossomed into a first-team star at Valencia this season, starting nine of his side’s 11 La Liga games this season, with his good form earning him a call-up to the USA national team in November.
Alongside the tug of war for his services at international level – England, Ghana and Italy are all keen to secure his allegiance – Musah has also attracted interest from some of Europe’s top sides, and sources confirmed to 90min that Valencia were close to securing a contract extension for the teenager last month.
The deal is now done, with Valencia taking to their official website to reveal that Musah has committed his future to the club until 2026.
“Here is where I have matured as a player,” Musah said. “I have found a great family, learned the history of this club and developed new values as a person.
“My road has been long, but now I am convinced that I have found my place in the world. That’s why everyone talks about my ever-present smile, and we are going to keep smiling together for many years to come.”
It’s a deserved reward for Musah’s emergence as one of Europe’s most intriguing prospects. Valencia are well aware of the interest in their youngster and hope that this contract extension will offer them some extra protection from potential suitors.
90min understands that former employers Arsenal are monitoring Musah, as are Everton, Leeds and Wolves, but the teenager is not paying attention to the interest and is instead focused on improving in Valencia’s senior side.
However, Musah would not be against a return to the Premier League at some point in his career, but the length of this new deal suggests he is in no rush to walk away from Spain.
He became the youngest non-Spanish player to score for Valencia when he netted in November’s 2–2 draw with Getafe, and now he has plenty of time to add to that tally.
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