Neymar Insists ‘Diving’ Reputation Comes From Him Trying to Avoid Injury in ‘Dishonourable’ Game

?Neymar Jr has opened up to former Real Madrid, Barcelona and Brazil icon Ronaldo Nazario about injuries, diving and the reputation that has somewhat tainted the 27-year-old’s time at Paris Saint-Germain. 

In an exclusive three-part series of Half Time episodes with YouTube channel Otro, Neymar has admitted that the primary reason for his habit of hitting the floor early is to avoid any serious injury he may incur from an opponent’s challenge – a similar reason to the one Gareth Bale gave while at Tottenham.

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Two-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo claimed ‘football is becoming less honourable’ when speaking to his Brazilian counterpart, saying: “Your playing style has become controversial more than once. But I spoke to your father and he said you do it [dive] so you don’t injure yourself, because of your body.

“He told me that it’s to defend yourself physically, and since you were thinner than everyone else, the best way to do that was to take these falls…you protected yourself by avoiding these shocks.”

Neymar duly agreed with the Brazil legend, adding: “If I didn’t do it, I’d be injured by now. You have to protect yourself because no one is going to do it for you.”

The PSG star’s caution is understandable in some senses, the world’s most expensive player missing a total of 339 days with injury since the 2016/17 season, being absent for a full 55 club games in the process.

Neymar Jr,Ruddy Buquet,Joachim Andersen

Neymar has been fouled 3.4 times per game in his five appearances for the Parisian side in the league so far in the 2019/20 campaign, compared to being fouled 5.7 and 3.4 times per game in Ligue 1 and the Champions League respectively last season.

Ronaldo himself is likely to sympathise with his countryman, having suffered a series of injuries which hampered his career and arguably stopped him from reaching his full potential as a player. 

The former Internazionale and AC Milan striker ruptured a tendon in his knee against Lecce in 1999 and, after spending five months out to recover from surgery, his lasted just six minutes until he completely ruptured the tendons in his kneecap against Lazio in the Coppa Italia final.


Barcelona & Real Madrid Reject El Clasico Venue Switch as La Liga & RFEF Plan Rearrangement

Barcelona and Real Madrid have rejected a proposal to have their upcoming El Clasico fixture switched from Camp Nou to the Santiago Bernabeu, despite heightened political tensions in the Catalonia.

The two are poised to face off on October 26, but after the Spanish government jailed nine Catalan separatist leaders over a failed declaration of independence for Catalonia, there was outrage in the city of Barcelona – with thousands of protestors taking to the streets of the region to oppose the ruling as tensions soar all around Spain.

Initially, the plan put in place by the Spanish football authorities was to have the two ?La Liga clashes between the clubs switched over, with Madrid hosting the first on October 26 before the reverse fixture takes place at Camp Nou in March. 

However, as reported by ?Marca, that proposal was rejected outright by the two sides, with an even more outlandish idea of the game being played behind closed doors also binned.

It’s added by Marca that ?Madrid themselves are fully aware of the ongoing issues, and had planned to put in place added security for the club’s leaders upon their visit, while still opposing a change of stadium; instead, preferring a postponement of the date. Barça, meanwhile, are against the decision entirely.

There has been a further update from Marca, who now claim that the RFEF have found a suitable date for the fixture to be rearranged for. The idea they have come up with is to play the match on December 18 – a Wednesday – which while not ideal, presents the most suitable date for all parties.

Both the RFEF, Spanish government and La Liga strongly oppose the game being played on the scheduled date due to the political and social unrest in the region, and may go ahead with their plan as they do not require either club’s permission to do so.


The only issue with the aforementioned fixture date is that it falls on the first round of the Copa del Rey. However, the report adds that Barcelona and Real will not be playing on that date due to their involvement in the Supercopa De Espana in January – against Atletico and Valencia respectively.

Barcelona and Real have until Monday to present their rebuttals.


Premier Sports Agree Deal With LaLigaTV For UK Viewers to Have 24/7 Access to Spanish Football

Premier Sports have announced that LaLigaTV is now available on the Premier Player site, after agreeing a deal with La Liga’s 24/7 channel for UK viewers. 

This change means that subscribers to Premier Sports will be able to watch every La Liga match this season, after the sports channel struck a deal with LaLigaTV, who had previously won the rights to all Spanish top-flight games.

After ?La Liga struggled to sell the rights for the upcoming season, Spanish football lovers were left concerned by the possibility that matches would not be shown in the United Kingdom, but this historic three-year deal seems to have resolved matters, which Premier Sports announced on their official Twitter page.

Viewers ?of Sky will be able to access this new channel on their platform in January 2020, if they are also subscribed to Premier Sports. Fans can also sign up for a free seven-day trial, which which will be available until Friday October 19.

La Liga is proving to be one the most closely-fought divisions in Europe this season, with Real Madrid, ?Barcelona and Atletico Madrid all separated by only three points at the top of the table. 

?Madrid and Barca will go head-to-head in a hotly-anticipated Clasico clash on 26 October, and victory for los Merengues could see Zinedine Zidane’s side open up a five-point gap over their fierce rivals. 


There are growing safety concerns over the match being played at the Camp Nou however, given the recent political issues between Catalonia and Spain. 

La Liga have ?requested that the match be played at the Santiago Bernabeu instead, after nine Catalan separatist leaders were imprisoned for their role in a failed declaration of Independence

With tensions running high between the Spanish government and the people of Catalonia, El Clasico looks set to be an explosive affair.

?Atleti will look to take advantage of whatever slip-up occurs during the derby match as Diego Simeone’s side entertain Valencia and Athletic Bilbao after the international break. 


Espanyol 0-1 Barcelona 2004: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Young Tyke Lionel Messi Makes Debut

On this day (October 16th) in 2004, a certain Lionel Messi made his debut for Barcelona. To celebrate the occasion, 90min have traipsed through the archives to dig up the match report from that fateful day. Here it is…

DISPATCH – On a cold, wet and windy Sunday night at the Estadio Olímpico de Montjuic

that could feasibly be described as not unlike Stoke, Barcelona triumphed over local rivals Espanyol by a goal to nil thanks to an early long-ranger from Deco. 

The Portugal international, who arrived from Porto just this summer, rifled the ball into the net with just nine minutes played to hand La Blaugrana the lead following a neat pass from Samuel Eto’o, who also continued his fine start to life at ?Barca – look like a couple of keepers!

And a well-earned lead it was, even if Frank Rijkaard’s side got a bit ragged at times in the second period, picking up three yellow cards as the hosts attempted to reassert themselves on the encounter.

Nevertheless, Deco’s goal was ultimately enough to separate themselves. And yet, weirdly, his goal was not his most telling contribution to the game, that being the moment in the 82nd minute when he slinked off the pitch to be replaced by 17-year-old debutant Lionel Messi.

The number 30 jogged onto the pitch and immediately sought to get himself in and amongst the action, which was easier said than done. A couple of cross-field balls were lofted in his direction, whereupon his efforts to retain the ball could only be described as perfunctory, if only because he was never going to get there. The imposing locks of Mauricio Pochettino saw to that.

A change in tact was required – the wee lad would have to drop deeper to receive the ball. So he drop he did – his voice wishes! – and with the ball finally at his feet, he was able to show the gaffer his ‘stuff’. 

Player Ratings

Starting XI: Valdes (6); Belletti (5), Oleguer (6), Puyol (7), Van Bronckhorst (6); Deco (8*), Marquez (6), Xavi (7), Eto’o (7), Larsson (6), Ronaldinho (6).

RCD Espanyol's Morales (R) vies for the

Subs: Iniesta (6), Messi (6).

And what stuff. Picking it up at the halfway line, he noted the onrushing henchman heading straight for him and brushed him off with an amicable step inside, leaving the less-than-amicable henchman flailing on the ground following a failed wipeout. One down, three to go. 

But he couldn’t take them all on. And he didn’t want to. Not yet, at least (lol). 

And so he searched for the pass in-field and then went for it. But no! It hits the defender! Sacre bleu. Well, it happens to everyone kiddo, no need to let yourself get dow-oh hold on, it ricocheted into his own path…And now he’s passed it on, and now he’s gliding upfield like a phantom and there’s a real chance at a counter. 

Did he mean it? Surely not. No, surely not. He’s looking for the pass. It’s a mistake. But still, mystic. I’ve got my eye on you, kid. 

No, I really did, because that was all that was of interest as the minutes dwindled away. A few more signs of those fleet feet were exhibited, though each ended in a court snuffing out from the opposition.

A speculative through-ball from Henrik Larsson looked to have played him in, but the bouncing ball gave the keeper too much of the upper hand. 

And then, seconds before the final whistle, a chance. A real chance. A lumped ball forward from right back that leaves Lionel one on one with the defender, who’s actually midfielder Ito. Time stands still as the elder statesman jockeys and the teenager dribbles towards him with cogs whirring, but legs steady.

Lionel Messi

A sharp inhale, and then a lurch inside. One touch, two touch, three, he’s passed him, he’s in-but no! The daddy long-legged Ito was not to be thwarted, sprawling improbably to knock the ball away and allow the referee to blow the final whistle. 

A chance missed then, for the youngster. And how many more like that will come his way? Only time will tell, though judging by the post-match presser he was forced into walking off the field, at least a few. 

For more from Wilfred Laurence, follow him on Twitter!


La Liga Officials Request El Clásico Venue Change Following Political Unrest in Barcelona

?La Liga have requested that the upcoming El Clásico fixture be moved from Camp Nou to the Santiago Bernabeu, following the political unrest in Barcelona over recent days. 

The Spanish government jailed nine Catalan separatist leaders over a failed declaration of independence for Catalonia, sentencing the leaders to incarceration for between nine and 13 years. 

Thousands of protestors have taken to the streets of Catalonia to contest the decision taken by the Spanish government, and tensions are high all over Spain. 

?El Pais published a tweet stating that the Spanish FA have received a request from La Liga to change the venue from the pre-planned Camp Nou to the Bernabeu, fearing further disruption and possible riots 

The heavyweight clash, which is set to take place on 26 October, is a serious cause for concern for both government officials and the Spanish FA, and the hope is that playing the fixture in Madrid will reduce the potential disruptions ahead of kickoff. 

?Real Madrid and ?Barcelona occupy the top two spots in La Liga after eight matches, with only two points separating the pair. A move to the Bernabeu would certainly benefit Los Merengues, who could open up a five-point gap over La Blaugrana on home turf. 

Barcelona will be buoyed by the return of talisman ?Lionel Messi, who scored his first goal of the season against Sevilla in the Catalan side’s most recent league outing. 

The Argentine star has suffered a difficult start to the new season after picking up an injury in pre-season, from which he struggled to recover. 

Real, meanwhile, have settled into the new campaign well and are beginning to find some rhythm, despite manager Zinedine Zidane being put under continuous pressure. They are struggling in the Champions League, granted, but domestically things are looking rosier.

Luka Modric

Los Blancos remain the only unbeaten side in La Liga, with eight games of the season played so far.