KNVB Cancel Full Round of Eredivisie Fixtures to Aid Ajax in CL Semi Final Against Tottenham

​Ajax have been handed a major boost ahead of their Champions League semi-final against Tottenham with the KNVB cancelling an entire round of Eredivisie fixtures prior to the first leg. 

The Dutch side overcame Juventus 3-2 on aggregate in the quarter finals in order to reach the last four of the competition for the first time since 1997, setting up a two-legged tie against Tottenham for a spot the final in Madrid. 

Matthijs de Ligt

To aid their preparations, the Dutch FA, as reported by ​BBC Sport, have postponed the weekend fixtures ahead of the first leg in north London on April 30 to give Erik ten Hag’s side enough time for the game, having been pencilled in to play De Graafschap on Sunday April 28.

The round of fixtures will instead by played on May 15, subject to clearance from local councils and police, with professional football director Eric Gudde acknowledging the decision may cause some disruption, but insisting is one that had to be made.

He said: “We are aware that it is impossible to satisfy everyone, but a knot must be made.

“There can be no question of full satisfaction because this is ultimately not pleasant for any of the people involved. What is really nice is the reason why this was necessary: the semi-final place of Ajax in the Champions League.”

Ajax, who will face Groningen and SBV Vitesse before the first leg, are on course for securing the treble this season, with the club currently top of the Eredivisie, as well as into the final of the KNVB Cup. 

Tottenham, will play three games prior to their semi final, with them facing Manchester City – the side they beat in the quarter-finals – as well as Brighton and West Ham before the first leg. 

The second leg takes place in Amsterdam on May 5, with the winner facing either ​Barcelona or ​Liverpool in the ​Champions League final at the Wanda Metropolitano on June 1. 

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Maurizio Sarri Gives Update on Olivier Giroud’s Future After Starring Role in Europa League Win

​Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri is confident that striker Olivier Giroud will remain at the club next season despite being frustrated by his lack of game time this season.

The 32-year-old netted his tenth Europa League goal of the season in their 4-3 quarter final second leg win over Slavia Prague on Thursday, taking his tally to 12 goals in 39 games across all competitions.

Olivier Giroud

Many of his appearances has come as a substitute, particularity in the ​Premier League, with the likes of Alvaro Morata, Gonzalo Higuain and even ​Eden Hazard preferred to the World Cup winner as a central striker this campaign. 

It has led to the Frenchman suggesting ​his future ​could lie away from Stamford Bridge, although Sarri, as quoted by ​the Telegraph, has insisted that ​Giroud will stay in west London.

The Italian said: “He [Giroud] is sure [to stay] because the club has an option for another year, another season. I spoke to the club two days ago and we agreed to exercise the option. So, he will remain.”

The future of Giroud – who has an option for a further year once his current deal expires this summer – could also be dependent on whether ​Chelsea are hit with a two-window transfer ban from FIFA. 

If sanctioned by the football’s governing body, that would come into place this summer, meaning the club would be unable to register new players ahead of next season, which could see the former Arsenal man stick around. 

Chelsea are currently entangled in a four-way battle to finish in the Premier League’s top four, which would guarantee them a place in next season’s Champions League, although the Blues are fifth on 66 points, having played a game more than Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United. 

Winning the Europa League will give them a route into Europe’s elite club competition next season, but they will have to get past Eintracht Frankfurt first in order to reach the final. 

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90min’s Definitive European Power Rankings: Week 29

​Following a week where, I mean Jesus, what didn’t happen? Seriously, Jesus, on this Easter weekend, please tell me what didn’t happen in the world of football this week, because I’m at a loss. Essentially:

– Ajax did it again.

– Juventus cratered as an institution. No seriously – ​they did.

– United Jose’d again.

– Tottenham DIDN’T Tottenham.

– Liverpool Liverpool’d.

– Chelsea didn’t Chelsea, then drastically did.

– Europa League Unai Emery Europa League Unai Emery’d.

But that was just a tiny portion of what went down, so to help us explain the rest, we’ve employed dramatic comedy and soul-searcher extraordinaire, Noah Baumbach, and all his filmography, to help us slog through it. Never been to Prague? Let’s go. 


15. Paris Saint-Germain (Down 5)

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“Dear Starbucks, in your attempt to manufacture culture out of fast food coffee you’ve been surprisingly successful for the most part. The part that isn’t covered by ‘the most part’ sucks.” (Greenberg)

How are Paris Saint-Germain still kicking around in these here rankings? Well, they’re still Ligue 1 champions in waiting, and their French Cup final is coming up. 

The part that isn’t that? The part where they endured consecutive losses to Lille (5-1) and Nantes (3-2)? The part where they’ve attempted to manufacture culture out of football?

Yeah, that sucks.


14. Atletico Madrid (Re-Entry)

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​“I found myself writing ‘wake up’ and ‘go to bed’ in my day planner as if they are two different events.” (Kicking & Screaming)

It’s true. Atletico Madrid don’t have much to play for these days after their Champions League exit to Juventus and subsequent loss to Barcelona, which all but ended their La Liga hopes too. 

But still, a 2-0 win against Celta Vigo…that’s good going, guys! Whack that one in the diary. 


13. Valencia (New Entry)

FBL-EUR-C3-VALENCIA-VILLARREAL

“‘So what do you do?

‘Eh…It’s kinda hard to explain.’

‘Because what you do is complicated?’

‘Eh…Because I don’t really do it.” (Frances Ha)

A new entry! And at this late stage! How exciting!

And Valencia have earned it, truly, by reaching the semi finals of the Europa League. What an achievement!

How did they do it, you ask? Have I watched a second of this vaunted Europa League campaign, you ask? No, but I’m certain they did do it. Good enough for me. That quote’s become meta now, hasn’t it? 


12. Chelsea (Up 2)

Pedro

“Oh, I’ve been to Prague. Well, I haven’t ‘been to Prague’ been to Prague, but I know that thing; that, ‘Stop shaving your armpits, read The Unbearable Lightness of Being, date a sculptor, now I know how bad American coffee is’ thing.

‘They have good beer there.’

‘Now I know how bad American beer is thing.’” (Kicking & Screaming)

​Chelsea have now definitively been to Prague. And they discovered just how good Petr Sevick’s right foot is, and how bad they can be with a 4-1 lead at half-time. 

Still, European semi final number 14 is on the way.


11. Lille (New Entry)

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“It’s like their apartment is full of everything we once threw out, but it looks so good the way they have it.” (While We’re Young)

Another new entry! What exciting times. And, again, this is fully deserved. 

Lille absolutely spanked the soulless Ligue 1 leaders 5-1 to delay their (still inevitable) coronation.

And they cherry-on-topped it with a goal from Jose Fonte. Sure, they have probably-generational youth talent like Nicolas Pepe, but still, Jose Fonte!!! And he looked so good, didn’t he?


10. Eintracht Frankfurt (Up 5)​

Timothy Chandler,Mijat Gacinovic

“If Plato is a fine red wine, then Aristotle is a dry martini.” (Kicking & Screaming)

I could say something equally faux-profound about Eintracht Frankfurt’s remarkable 2018/19 season, but I won’t.

I’ll just say that Luka Jovic is very good. As is Ante Rebic. As is Filip Kostic. Blues beware. 


9. Juventus (Down 5)

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“What I used to be able to pass off as a bad summer could now potentially turn into a bad life.” (Kicking & Screaming)

Another year, another European dream shattered right in front of the Old Lady’s eyes. Juve are now broken. Seriously, seriously broken. 

Sure, they have an eighth consecutive Scudetto to look forward to in the next fortnight (at most), but look around, there are no other Serie A teams in these rankings as it stands. And that tells you all you need to know. 


8. Borussia Dortmund (-)

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“Sometimes it’s good to do what you’re supposed to do when you’re supposed to do it.” (Frances Ha)

Finally, FINALLY, ​Borussia Dortmund did what they’ve supposed to have been doing during this Bundesliga title race run-in – win. And comfortably, too. 

A Jadon Sancho brace was just what the doctor ordered. More of the same, please. You know how much faith we placed in you. Some confirmation that this wasn’t misplaced would be nice. 

Thanks.


7. Arsenal (Up 1)

Ainsley Maitland-Niles,Allan

“For the first time in my life I’ve stopped thinking of myself as a child imitating an adult.” (While We’re Young)

All of a sudden, Arsenal look like a team of grown ups, especially in Europe. Of course, the stewardship of Europa League savant Unai Emery must help, but still, the improvement in their midweek continental maturity has been stark. 

Brandon Stark? Yes, ‘Game of Thrones‘ is still a thing, and if I had the time to insert Bran into this picture – cause, you know, he’s everywhere man! – I would.


6. Bayern Munich (Up 1)

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“You know, me and Jamie, always wondered, ‘how are we gonna get old?’ And the answer is…just like everyone else.” (While We’re Young)

At times this season, Bayern have looked just like a team of their age should look: bedraggled, off the pace, out of touch etc. 

But at others, they’ve appeared as ageless as a bunch of boys from Neverland.

The only way we’ll find out which assessment is true is by waiting for the sands of time to do their work. How profound. 


5. Manchester City (-)

FBL-EUR-C1-MAN CITY-TOTTENHAM

​”Josh, you know the world isn’t a giant conspiracy against you.” (While We’re Young)

Replace Josh with Manchester City and, yep, you’ve got it. A bitter, bitter, way to lose? Sure. A Var-spiracy hell-bent on keeping your plucky side of misfits from touching European glory? Give over. 

That may have been harsh. Because I genuinely did feel for City fans on Wednesday night – there can’t be many worse ways to lose than that, after a game like that. So here, have another Baumbach quote, on the house:

“How do you make God laugh? Make a plan.” (Kicking & Screaming)

Feeling better yet?


4. Barcelona (Down 2)

Lionel Messi

“It was like walking barefoot through broken glass to get a milkshake. I loved the milkshake, but, you know, my feet were bleeding.” (‘The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)’)

Yes, it’s only a matter of time before Barcelona win La Liga, and yes, they won their Champions League quarter-final second leg with ease. 

So why the bleeding feet?

Well, it can’t be pleasant playing 180 minutes against Manchester United, can it? 

In other film-milkshake related news, ​Lionel Messi is coming for your milkshake, Europe, and he wants to drink it all up.


3. Tottenham Hotspur (Up 3)

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“It’s huge to finally embrace the life you never planned on.” (Greenberg)

In their wildest dreams, ​Tottenham fans would never have ‘planned on’ reaching the Champions League semi finals. They may have hoped and dreamed and prayed. But never ‘planned’. They’re not like that. 

Fortunately, that’s not how their club were thinking. That’s not what their players were thinking. That’s not what their manager was thinking. For years, they’ve been plotting this moment. Sure, there’s been some praying on the way too, but Wednesday night wasn’t the result of prayers.

It was planning at its best. 


2. Liverpool (Up 1)

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“I haven’t had that thing yet, where you realise that you’re not the most important person in the world.” (Margot at the Wedding)

Sure, Liverpool vanquished some demons when they dispatched of Chelsea on Sunday at Anfield, and then vanquished Porto altogether in their ​Champions League tie, but are they the most important club in the world?

They may feel like it, but clearly, given their runner-up medal in these here rankings, they’re not. 

Sorry.


1. Ajax (-)

Matthijs de Ligt,Daley Blind,David Neres,Lasse Schone

​”Don’t mind me, I’m just trying to get your attention.” (Frances Ha)

Well, by God, De Godenzonen, you’ve got it. Ten times over. Christ, we love you. We love your style of football. We love your infectious youthful naivety, your generational talent, your once in a lifetime collective, your never-say-die-attitude. We love it all. 

The fact that these words are uttered by the God Adam Driver should not be ignored, either. Driver was an up-and-comer for a millisecond, and then, deservedly, he was an A-grade actor. There was no in between. No stint in Hollywood purgatory. He’s just great, in everything does. 

A lot like Ajax.

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Everton vs Manchester United Preview: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News

​Everton host Manchester United on Sunday afternoon, the first hurdle in what could be a make or break week for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men.

After getting dumped out of the Champions League and registering only two wins in their last seven games across all competitions, United desperately need to take all three points in order to restore some momentum in their pursuit of a top four finish.

Everton have their own incentives. A spot in the Europa League qualifying rounds is very much up for grabs as they sit only one point behind seventh place Leicester City. 

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Check out 90min’s preview of ​Sunday’s clash below.


Where to Watch

​When Is Kick Off? ​Sunday 21 April
​What Time Is Kick Off? ​13:30 (BST)
​Where Is it Played? ​Goodison Park
​TV Channel/Live Stream? ​Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Premier League
​Referee? ​Paul Tierney

Team News

Everton, who are unbeaten in their last three home games, are set to only be without two first team players for Sunday’s clash.

Marco Silva told the media that Yerry Mina is their only injury absentee, still nursing a hamstring injury he sustained on international duty, while Andre Gomes is set to serve the first of a three-match ban following his red card in the 2-0 defeat to Fulham last weekend.

As for United, Solskjaer has confirmed Alexis Sanchez and Nemanja Matic are fit and could feature, but Ander Herrera and Eric Bailly are still sidelined along with long term absentee Antonio Valencia.

Luke Shaw will also miss out as he serves the second of a two-match ban after picking up ten yellow cards in the league.


Predicted Lineups

Everton ​Pickford; Coleman, Keane, Zouma, Digne; Davies, Gueye; Richarlison, Sigurdsson, Bernard; Calvert-Lewin.
Manchester United ​De Gea; Dalot, Smalling, Lindelof, Young; McTominay, Matic, Pogba; Lingard; Rashford, Lukaku.

Head to Head Record

United are unbeaten against Everton in their last eight games, winning six of those and recording a 2-1 victory in the reverse fixture earlier in the season. 

The Toffees’ last win came in 2015 when they completed a convincing 3-0 win at Goodison Park, however they still fall short in head to head form over time. In 200 meetings, United have won 88 compared to Everton’s 69 and they have shared the spoils 43 times. 

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It’s a fixture which has seen many players turn out for both sides throughout their careers, with the likes of Wayne Rooney, Phil NevilleMorgan Schneiderlin and Marouane Fellaini all competing for both clubs. 

Romelu Lukaku is the latest player to have this connection and will return to Goodison Park for only the second time, hoping to make an impact on the game should he be given an opportunity. 


Recent Form

Everton will be looking to bounce back after a slip up last weekend saw them lose 2-0 to Fulham at Craven Cottage. They had been in great form previously, recording three wins in a row against Chelsea, West Ham and Arsenal respectively.

They managed to keep clean sheets in each of those matches and Marco Silva will be hoping they can tighten the ship again against a United side looking to get in behind at every opportunity.

Paul Pogba

United are still licking their wounds after a disappointing night in Barcelona which sees them without a win in their last four away games. This comes off the back of a record breaking run where they managed nine wins in a row over all competitions on the road. 

A win is vital if they want to have any chance of finishing in the top four, with games against ​Manchester City and ​Chelsea to come.

Here’s how they’ve performed in their last five fixtures.

​Everton ​Manchester United
​Fulham 2-0 Everton (13/4) ​Barcelona 3-0 Manchester United (16/4)
​Everton 1-0 Arsenal (7/4) ​Manchester United 2-1 West Ham (13/4)
​West Ham 0-2 Everton (30/3) ​Manchester United 0-1 Barcelona (10/4)
​Everton 2-0 Chelsea (17/3) ​Wolves 2-1 Manchester United (2/4)
​Newcastle 3-2 Everton (9/3) ​Manchester United 2-1 Watford (30/3)

Prediction

This is usually a tasty clash and Sunday afternoon has all the ingredients to produce another gripping encounter. 

United will do whatever they can to get the win and will not be afraid to throw everything they have at ​Everton, knowing it’s all or nothing.

This shouldn’t phase the Toffees as they’ll be confident having dismantled top six opposition a few times at home this season. 

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In the end, ​United should manage to come away victorious, with more on the line and a point to prove after a run of bad performances. 

Prediction: Everton 1-3 Manchester United

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North Carolina Tar Heels: 12 Soccer Superstars Who Started Out on Legendary College Team

North Carolina Tar Heels are one of the iconic teams in global women’s soccer, having won 21 NCAA Division I national championships over the years, including 12 of the first 13 that were contested during a truly dominant early era between 1982 and 1994.

Legendary coach Anson Dorrance has been in charge since 1979 and has overseen all 21 of those national titles, while he was also an early coach of the United States Women’s National Team from 1986 to 1994, winning the first ever Women’s World Cup in 1991.

The UNC programme has recruited and developed countless players that would go on to become legends, while Tar Heels alums account for as many as 20 of the 43 players who have won a World Cup with the USWNT in 1991, 1999 or 2015.

Including some of the sport’s greatest legends, here’s a look back at 12 former North Carolina Tar Heels stars…


Lucy Bronze

Lucy Bronze

Tar Heels Career: 2009, NCAA championship (2009)

Having started her career in the north east of England with Sunderland, Bronze was recruited by the Tar Heels on a scholarship in 2009 and became the first British player to win an NCAA title.

Bronze returned to England the following year and played for Everton, Liverpool and Manchester City, prior to joining French giants Lyon in 2017. She helped England finish third at the 2015 World Cup, and was nominated for Best FIFA Women’s Player in 2017 and 2018.


Cat Reddick

FIFA Women's World Cup USA 2003 - United States vs. Korea DPR  - September 28, 20

Tar Heels Career: 2000 – 2003, NCAA Championship (2003), Hermann Trophy (2003)

Reddick was a 2003 winner of the Hermann Trophy while a Tar Heels player, the annual prize awarded to the best male and female college players in the country.

The defender made her USWNT debut in 2000 while still playing in North Carolina and went on to play 134 times during a 10-year international career. Reddick won an Olympic Gold medal in 2004 and finished third at two World Cups in 2003 and 2007.


Lindsay Tarpley

USA's Lindsay Tarpley eyes the ball duri

Tar Heels Career: 2002 – 2005, NCAA Championship (2003)

Having started at UNC in 2002, Tarpley went on to become a two-time Olympic gold medal winner with USWNT during an eight-year international career that lasted from 2003 to 2011.

The winger was actually only the 23rd player in USWNT history to reach a century of appearances. She would finish on 125 appearances, although it could have been many more but for a knee injury that ended her career in 2011 at the age of just 27.


Lorrie Fair

Lorrie Fair

Tar Heels Career: 1996 – 1999, NCAA Championship (1996, 1997, 1999)

Fair was still in high school when she was called up to the USWNT for the first time in 1996, although she declined the invitation to be an ‘alternate’ for that year’s Olympics roster.

The midfielder was later the youngest member of the 1999 World Cup winners in the same year that she won the third of three NCAA National Championships with the Tar Heels. Overall, Fair finished her career with 120 international appearances.


Tobin Heath

Tobin Heath

Tar Heels Career: 2006 – 2009, NCAA Championship (2006, 2008, 2009)

One of six former Tar Heels on the USWNT roster at the World Cup in 2015, Heath will be hoping to add a second World Cup medal to her collection this summer in France.

The midfielder has been a senior international since making her debut in 2008 and has played 147 games and counting in United States colours. Her personal international medal haul also includes Olympic gold medals from 2008 and 2012.


Tisha Venturini

Tisha Venturini

Tar Heels Career: 1991 – 1994, NCAA Championship (1991, 1992, 1993, 1994), Hermann Trophy (1994)

Venturini emerged in the early 1990s and won an NCAA Championship every year that she attended UNC, even being named the best female college player in the country in 1994.

The midfielder’s international debut came during her collegiate career in 1992 and she remained part of the USWNT until 2000. During that time, Venturini won an Olympic gold medal in 1996 and the World Cup in 1999, playing 132 times in total.


Heather O’Reilly

Heather O'Reilly

Tar Heels Career: 2003 – 2006, NCAA Championship (2003, 2006)

With an incredible 231 USWNT caps to her name between 2003 and 2016, O’Reilly is eighth on the all-time appearance list. She is also seventh on the all-time assists list with 75.

O’Reilly has the distinction of being a three-time Olympic gold medal winner after triumphs in 2004, 2008 and 2012 and capped off a stunning career with World Cup glory in 2015. She will retire from professional soccer altogether at the end of the 2019 NWSL season.


Cindy Parlow

Parlow goes up against Maycon

Tar Heels Career: 1995 – 1998, NCAA Championship (1995, 1996, 1997), Hermann Trophy (1997, 1998)

Parlow is one of only two Tar Heels alums to win the Hermann Trophy more than once during her college career. Just a year after leaving UNC she won the World Cup as part of the ’99ers’ and would score 75 goals in 158 total USWNT appearances.

In retirement, Parlow, also a two-time Olympic champion in 1996 and 2004, has become the latest vice-president of U.S. Soccer after being appointed in February 2019.


Carla Overbeck

Carla Overbeck #4

Tar Heels Career: 1986 – 1989, NCAA Championship (1986, 1987, 1988, 1989)

Overbeck was a double World Cup during her soccer career, winning the tournament in 1991 and then in 1999 as USWNT captain. She also won an Olympic gold medal in 1996.

A 12-year veteran of the team, the defender stepped away from international duty in 2000 after 170 appearances her country. Despite hailing from California, Overbeck returned to North Carolina in 2001 to play for club side Carolina Courage.


April Heinrichs

SOCCER-WOMEN'S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP 1991

Tar Heels Career: 1983 – 1986, NCAA Championship (1983, 1984, 1986)

Remembered as a pioneer as the captain of the United States team that won the inaugural Women’s World Cup in 1991 and later national coach, Heinrichs began at UNC in 1983.

After three NCAA Championships, the forward moved over to the relatively new USWNT. After her playing career came to an end in 1991, Heinrichs moved into coaching. Today, she is the Technical Director for U.S. Soccer, having been appointed in 2011.


Kristine Lilly

Kristine Lilly

Tar Heels Career: 1988 – 1992, NCAA Championship (1989, 1990, 1991, 1992), Hermann Trophy (1991)

Kristine Lilly won four straight NCAA Championships during her Tar Heels days and was named the best female college player in the country with a Hermann Trophy in 1991.

That was the same year that Lilly, who played a world record 354 international games for the USWNT between 1987 and 2010, won her first World Cup. She added another World Cup triumph in 1999 and has Olympic gold medals from 1996 and 2004.


Mia Hamm

Mia Hamm

Tar Heels Career: 1989 – 1993, NCAA Championship (1989, 1990, 1992, 1993), Hermann Trophy (1992, 1993)

A true icon of the women’s game, Mia Hamm played 95 games in Tar Heels colours during her time at UNC and lost just once, setting conference records for goals (103) and assists (72).

Hamm sat out the 1991 college season to focus on that year’s inaugural Women’s World Cup. She then won a second World Cup in 1999, as well as Olympic gold medals in 1996 and 2004, retiring with 158 international goals in 276 appearances, a world record until 2013.


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