Ramos: If Iniesta was Andresinho, he would’ve won Ballon d’Or

Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta would have two Ballons d’Or if he was named Andresinho, according to Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos.

Iniesta, 33, is expected to announce he will leave Barca at the end of the season after 16 trophy-laden campaigns with the La Liga giants.

But the superstar midfielder is set to finish his career without a coveted Ballon d’Or, despite top-three finishes in 2010 and 2012.

Ramos believes Iniesta was unfortunate not to win the individual honour at least once.

“If Andres was called Andresinho, he would have two Ballons d’Or,” he said after Madrid’s 2-1 win over Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final on Wednesday.

Article continues below

[embedded content]

Spain international Iniesta has won eight La Liga titles and four Champions League crowns at the club, while he helped his nation to the 2010 World Cup and two European Championships.

The closest he came to being named the best player on the planet was in 2010, when he finished as runner-up in the Ballon d’Or vote behind Barca team-mate Lionel Messi.

He then claimed third place in 2012, with Messi once again coming out on top.


Ramos: Madrid haven’t achieved anything yet

Sergio Ramos knows Real Madrid still have work to do to reach the Champions League final despite a 2-1 semi-final first leg win over Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena. 

The veteran defender claims his side were expected to win 3-0, but highlighted the difficultly of beating Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

Marcelo and Marco Asensio cancelled out Joshua Kimmich’s opener to lead Madrid to crucial victory against the German champions, and the defender knows the second leg will not be any easier for his side. 

Bayern controlled possession and were unfortunate to surrender two priceless away goals to the two-time reigning champions heading back to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Speaking afterwards, Ramos revelled in the triumph, though the centre-back quickly turned his attention to the return fixture in the Spanish capital.

[embedded content]”We were expected to win 3-0 but it was always going to be difficult,” Ramos said. “This is what the Champions League is like and we enjoyed being involved in a great game. The team put in a solid display, defended well and we were aware that it wouldn’t be easy.

“It’s really tough to come and play here against great opposition and fans worthy of the Champions League. We now have to finish the job off at the Bernabeu. We haven’t achieved anything yet and have to keep cool and show Bayern respect.”

Article continues below

Ramos added: “Given the circumstances, when you take the lead you naturally end up dropping deeper and you suffer a bit. When the scores were level, Bayern really went for it and we were able to hit them on the counter.

“It’s important that whoever plays offers that spark, keeps the performance levels up so that we all end up winning.”

Madrid held the same lead against Bayern in last year’s Champions League quarter-finals and were pushed to extra time at the Bernabeu before eventually winning out. 


Chivas wins CONCACAF Champions League in penalty shootout

Chivas has won the 2018 CONCACAF Champions League title 4-2 in a penalty shootout after holding off a spirited charge from MLS champion Toronto FC in the second leg of the final. 

Toronto FC entered the second leg trailing 2-1 after losing the first leg at home, and the Canadian club found itself with a massive hill to climb after conceding inside the first 20 minutes. 

Orbelín Pineda’s opening goal delighted the home fans. With Chivas sitting two goals in front of TFC on aggregate and having dominated the opening run of play, things were looking up for the Liga MX side. 

The joy wouldn’t last long. 

Jozy Altidore’s calm finish had Toronto level on the night just six minutes later, slotting home after great work from Nicolas Hasler set the table. 

[embedded content]

TFC would then turn to Sebastian Giovinco. 

The former Juventus playmaker had been booked 43 minutes in after confronting the referee, but moments later he pulling his club level.

Marky Delgado’s pass set the Italian free down the left and he made easy work of turning back on his defender before picking out the lower corner to put Toronto in front on the night and level the tie at 3-3 on aggregate. 

Chivas piled on the pressure in the second half, striking the woodwork one and forcing several big stops out of Toronto goalkeeper Alex Bono to stay in the match, but Toronto had a chance to win it late. 

Giovinco’s floated cross found Delgado alone in the box, but the 22-year-old couldn’t keep his finish down and the match would finish 2-1 in favor of the MLS side. 

With no extra time in the CONCACAF Champions League, the final jumped straight to penalties. 

Chivas was perfect from the spot, converting their first four, but Toronto could not match. 

Jonathan Osorio was the first to miss, striking the crossbar with TFC’s second attempt, and Michael Bradley, Toronto’s fourth shooter, sailed his shot over the bar and into the stands to send the home fans into wild celebrations.  


‘My target is to play in Europe again’ – Wenger hints at swift return to management

Arsene Wenger says he intends to “play in Europe again”, increasing the possibility of the departing Arsenal boss managing another club next season.

The Gunners announced last week that the Frenchman would leave the Emirates at the end of the current campaign, bringing the curtain down on a 22-year tenure in which he won three Premier Leagues titles and seven FA Cups.

Although he has thus far dodged questions about his future plans, Goal reported last week that he wanted an immediate return to football  after leaving Arsenal. 

And now Wenger has raised the prospect of taking on another job – providing he misses the day-to-day involvement when he leaves north London.

Speaking ahead of the first leg of Arsenal’s Europa League semi-final clash with Atletico Madrid, he told reporters: “I hope these are not my last European cup games – my target is to play in Europe again.

[embedded content]

“[But] I’ve had no break [from football management] for 35 years. You can look around, and that doesn’t exist.

“I don’t know now how addicted I am. I am like a guy who plays Russian roulette every week and suddenly has no gun. I will see how much I miss that gun.

“When I started at 33, I thought I would never survive in this job, but you learn to dominate your emotions. You are never sure if you do the right thing. It will be surreal when I don’t work. At the moment I work.

“At the moment, I’m not ready to commit to anything else but Arsenal.”

Asked if he would consider taking a sabbatical and follow in the footsteps of Pep Guardiola, who took a year out after leaving Barcelona and before committing to Bayern Munich, he added: “It’s long – 365 days.”

Wenger, who had to clarify comments that had been twisted to appear as though he was unhappy with the timing of his exit announcement, was satisfied the majority of the Arsenal fans will look back fondly at his reign, despite a vocal minority that have campaigned for his departure.

“When some people are unhappy it is not always a majority, but they get the attention and they look like a majority,” he said.

“I think people are intelligent and can make the difference between moments of unhappiness and global satisfaction for what I brought to the club. People will realise that to qualify for the Champions League for 20 consecutive years is not as easy it looks.”

Whoever Arsenal bring in to replace Wenger will receive his best wishes and support with the 68-year-old adamant the club can fight for the Premier League title with “two or three additions”.

“I wish that all goes well [for the new man],” he said.

“You do not give 22 years of your life for something, go away and want things to collapse. Maybe when you have a big ego at 40, you think the world cannot live without you. At my age you understand the world continues and you wish that it continues better.

“This team has quality. Two years ago, we finished second [in the Premier League]. Last year, we had 75 points and won the FA Cup and Charity Shield. We reached the ­final of the League Cup and a European semi-final.

“I am convinced with two or three additions this team has the quality to fight for the championship. You will not be short of candidates.”


Boateng casts doubt over Bayern future

Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng cast some doubt over his future with the Bundesliga giants, revealing he may search for new challenges.

Boateng has been at Bayern since 2011, winning six Bundesliga titles and a Champions League to go with numerous other trophies.

The 29-year-old was taken off early in the first leg against Madrid with a muscle injury, likely ruling him out of the second leg against Madrid and putting his World Cup place in doubt. 

And the Germany international, who is contracted until 2021, now appears to potentially be considering a move away from the Allianz Arena after the season. 

“I experienced everything at FC Bayern,” Boateng told sports magazine Socrates .

[embedded content]”So now I certainly reach a point where I have to answer certain questions to myself: ‘What goals do I have that I did not reach yet? Do I want to prove myself always at the same club and always under the same circumstances?'”

He added: “This is a question of personal challenges. It is not about classical career questions, but about questions for your life.

Article continues below

“Those are the questions that drive you on as a human being.”

Boateng has only spent one season outside of Germany in his career – the 2010-11 campaign at Manchester City and has been linked with a return to the club this summer to play under former Bayern boss Pep Guardiola. 

He has also been linked to Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United and will have no shortage of options should he decide to leave the German giants.