8 Footballers Who Absolutely Have to Host Saturday Night Live

Here’s a fun – and oft’ overlooked – fact: footballers are funny. No, seriously. They’re funny. They’ve got bits.

Which is why, for the life of me, I can’t understand why not one footballer, not ever, has once hosted the comedic Goliath ‘Saturday Night Live’.

I’d like to rectify this.

So, coming live from my Van Down By the River, Old Prospector’s pickaxe in my right hand, Cowbell in my left, Opera Man wig on my head, El Nino thundering away above it, here are the eight footballers who could, nay should, host SNL.


James Milner

James Milner

I can see it now. James Milner. Headband on. Deadpanning the audience dry with Norm Macdonald-esque precision.

Expect plenty of ironing board props etc.

And, yes, you might say that Norm Macdonald coming back to host SNL just 18 months after he was fired from the cast was exactly like Milner leaving Manchester City on a free only to win the Champions League with Liverpool four years later. Exactly like it.


Michy Batshuayi

FBL-ENG-PR-SOUTHAMPTON-CHELSEA

The lights come up. The camera pans across the audience and centres on the incoming Michy Batshuayi, ready for his monologue. The Belgian soaks in the cheers, maybe popping in a Dave Chappelle salute for good measure. He’s confident.

Then, as the crowd dies down, and Batshuayi is about to let rip, two 14-year-old minions join him on stage. They begin frantically pitching him Batman-related jokes. He tweets out the best. Nothing else happens.


Mario Balotelli

Mario Balotelli

‘Ladies and Gentleman, it’s Maarrrriooooo Balo–BANG.’

Fireworks light up Studio 8H. The musicians cower. The audience scream.

A smirking Balotelli pops his head around a curtain at the back, and bellows:

“HEEEEEREE’S BALO!”

Wrong show, but good effort from the Italian.


Patrice Evra

It’s Patrice Evra, dressed as Hellboy all night, screaming ‘I LOVE THIS SHOW’ and it’s terrible.

Not as bad as Bieber, but still, terrible.

Terrible, at least, until he gets his guitar out, and sings a ‘ Lunch Lady Land’ remix all about raw chicken, with cast members pouring onto the stage with poultry placed on their heads, Monica style.


Benjamin Mendy

Benjamin Mendy

The Shark’s coming in – no, he’s not one of Tracy Morgan’s pets – and he’s coming in hot.

I mean Richard Pryor hot. Yeah, Benjamin Mendy is doing a revamped (the racial epithets are 2019 safe, don’t worry) version of that infamous Pryor and Chevy Chase sketch, with Bill Hader as Stefon as Pep Guardiola, and he’s breaking Twitter.


Peter Crouch

Peter Crouch

After a perfectly fine opening gambit, with lots of moving around a cramped set and hitting his head, the eighth floor of 30 Rock is suddenly transformed into an Ibiza nightclub.

Peter Crouch emerges from the smoke, microphone in hand, shirt off, pupils big as boulders, and proceeds to belt out every Euro-trash club classic you can think of, alongside bystanders dressed as either giraffes or robots.

It’s avant-garde, it’s risqué, but it works. 


Zlatan Ibrahimovic

FBL-SWE-CELEBRITY-STATUE-ZLATAN-MLS

Zlatan’s opening bit is a graphic one involving sheep and lions. He’s a lion. The rest of the cast are sheep. The cast get Taekwando’d into oblivion.

His next sketch is an effort at self-lampooning, that backfires as soon as Ibra realises what the writers were trying to do, and kung-fu kicks them into, yes, oblivion.

And so it goes. Self-aware? Not in the slightest. Funny? Weirdly, yes.


Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney,Dany Drinkwater

Well, at least Wayne thinks he’s funny. But that’s not why he’s here. You know why he’s here.

Wazza works through the monologue admirably, doling out some mediocre material about Scouse-Washington relations before bringing the house down with some world-class ‘My Wife’ material. A harbinger, of course, to the hilarity that is soon to come.

Because then it happens. The big reveal. Coleen Rooney pops out of a cake that’s been wheeled behind Wazza, phone in hand, puzzled expression on her face. Sherlock Holmes hat on, Columbo jacket around her shoulders, Columbo cigar smouldering in her mouth, she stares at the screen. Waiting.

Then she shrieks.

“IT’S…….” she says, pausing for, yes, great effect.

And the giddy crowd, who know their role and are only too willing to perform it, scream back in unison: “REBEKAH VARDY!”

Champagne bottles filled with Red Bull erupt around them, ‘ROOOONEEEEEY’ reverberating from every speaker and the show begins. The world was never the same again.


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Lionel Messi Reveals Reason Behind Barça’s Infamous Liverpool Defeat & Insists Players Were to Blame

Lionel Messi insists the pain of Barcelona’s semi-final collapse against Liverpool in last season’s Champions League still lingers, but has pointed the finger at the club’s defeat to Roma from the season before as one of the main reasons for their Anfield nightmare.

Leading 3-0 from the first leg in Spain, La Blaugrana travelled to England with a commanding aggregate score but fell to one of the tournament’s greatest ever comebacks, losing 4-0 on the night (4-3 on aggregate) and crashing out of Europe’s elite competition in devastating fashion.


A brace each from Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum settled the contest on a dramatic night, but the Argentine forward claims that it was his own side’s failings that ultimately cost them dearly. 

?Messi also claimed the 4-4 aggregate defeat to Roma in the quarter-final stage of the season prior played a crucial role, when ?Barça surrendered a 4-1 first-leg lead to lose 3-0 in Rome.

“The defeat against Liverpool was our fault, what happened to us could not happen because we came from the previous year with Rome. We blocked ourselves,” he told RAC1, as quoted by ?Mundo Deportivo.

The aftermath of the match saw manager Ernesto Valverde come under severe criticism, with calls for the Spaniard to be relieved of his duties reaching fever pitch, such was the embarrassment of their defeat. That, however, was unjust from Messi’s point of view, who insisted that Barcelona’s failings were not down to the manager’s involvement.

Lionel Messi

“The game in Rome came to our head and we were getting worse, but it didn’t happen because of the coach. It was not my decision either for him to stay, as it has been said,” he added. “The club decided that Valverde would continue and for me and for the whole team it is a joy, which we support.”

The new ?Champions League campaign has started well for ?La Liga‘s current champions, who secured a hard-fought 0-0 draw away at Borussia Dortmund before coming from behind to beat Inter 2-1 at the Camp Nou in their second fixture. Barcelona will be hoping to reach the final of the competition for the first time since 2015, when they overcame Juventus 3-1 to lift the trophy.


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When & Where to Watch Barcelona’s Players During the October International Break

?Due to their standing as one of the best club sides in the world, you may expect Barcelona to have a large number of players heading off on international duty this week.

However, with several players struggling with fitness concerns, and Lionel Messi currently suspended after his outburst at the Copa America, only a rather modest ten players will be representing their countries in the coming days.

Here is all you need to know about how to catch those ten first-team stars in action.


Arturo Vidal (Chile)

Arturo Vidal

The veteran midfielder looked to be just a fringe player for Barcelona in the early stages of the season, struggling to get many minutes from the bench. 

However, he has shown over the past week that he can still make an impact. His introduction in the second half against Inter in the Champions League brought greater energy to the side, as he assisted Luis Suarez’s stunning equaliser. He was rewarded for his showing by being handed his first league start of the season against Sevilla on Sunday as the reigning champions won 4-0.

This international break sees Chile play two friendlies against Colombia and Guinea, with both matches taking place in Alicante.

?Game?Date/Time?TV Channel/Live Stream
?Colombia vs Chile?Saturday, Oct 12 (17:00)?Not in UK
?Chile vs Guinea?Tuesday, Oct 15 (17:00)?Not in UK

Arthur Melo (Brazil)

Arthur Melo

Brazil are also just in friendly action over the coming week, but Arthur has far more air miles to clock up. The five-time World Cup winners will be playing their games in Singapore, as they take on two African opponents in Senegal and Nigeria.

Arthur has been in fine form for Barcelona this season, cementing his place as a first-team regular despite Ernesto Valverde having plenty of options to choose from in the midfield department.

The 23-year-old will be looking to transfer his club form onto the international scene this week.

?GameDate/Time??TV Channel/Live Stream
?Brazil vs Senegal?Thursday, Oct 10 (13:00)?LFC TV
?Brazil vs Nigeria?Sunday, Oct 13 (13:00)?Not in UK

Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Germany)

Marc Ter Stegen

Barcelona’s goalkeeper has been a frustrated figure at international level, often having to settle for a place on the bench behind Manuel Neuer.

Joachim Low has confirmed that this will remain the case for now, despite ter Stegen pushing to overtake Bayern’s more experienced shot-stopper in the pecking order

However, it has been confirmed that ter Stegen will be given a rare start in Germany’s friendly at home to Argentina on Wednesday, before dropping back to the bench when the side return to competitive action against Estonia on the weekend.

?Game?Date/TimeTV Channel/Live Stream?
?Germany vs Argentina?Wednesday, Oct 9 (19:45)?Sky Sports Football
?Estonia vs Germany?Sunday, Oct 13 (19:45)?Sky Sports Premier League

Clement Lenglet & Antoine Griezmann (France)

Antoine Griezmann

With Aymeric Laporte and Samuel Umtiti injured, Lenglet will once more be expected to line up alongside Raphael Varane at the heart of France’s defence. His form has been patchy so far this season, ?but Didier Deschamps is likely to keep faith in him.

Meanwhile, Griezmann is yet to show his best in Barcelona colours either following his summer move from Atletico Madrid. Often playing from the left wing in recent games, he has been comfortably outshone by Luis Suarez over the past couple of weeks.

Still, he remains on of France’s key players and will be expected to make an impact as they take on Iceland and Turkey this week.

?GameDate/Time??TV Channel/Live Stream
?Iceland vs France?Friday, Oct 11 (19:45)?Sky Sports Football
?France vs Turkey?Monday, Oct 14 (19:45)?Sky Sports Mix/Sky Sports Football

Frenkie de Jong (Netherlands)

Frenkie De Jong

The young Dutch midfielder has had a steady start to life in Spain, often having to play slightly higher up the pitch than he would like to accommodate Sergio Busquets.

He will slot back into his best position at the base of the midfield for his country, as they face an important week ahead. They currently lie third in Group C, but can change all that in their next two games as they face second-placed Northern Ireland followed by Belarus.

?Game?Date/TimeTV Channel/Live Stream?
?Netherlands vs Northern Ireland?Thursday, Oct 10 (19:45)?Sky Sports Main Event
?Belarus vs Netherlands?Sunday, Oct 13 (17:00)?Sky Sports Premier League

Sergio Busquets (Spain)

Sergio Busquets

Busquets is Barcelona’s sole representative in the Spain squad this month. Now aged 31, the holding midfielder was taken off early during last week’s game with Inter and was only a second half substitute on the weekend, signalling that his playing time at Barcelona may drop off a little this season.

His place in the Spain side is more secure though as they cruise towards qualification for next year’s European Championships. The 2010 World Cup winners travel to Norway and Sweden in the coming days.

?Game?Date/Time?TV Channel/Live Stream
?Norway vs Spain?Saturday, Oct 12 (19:45)?Sky Sports Football
Sweden vs Spain?Tuesday, Oct 15 (19:45)?Sky Sports Premier League

Nelson Semedo (Portugal)

Nelson Semedo

The most recent European Championship winners have not had things all their own way in their qualifying group so far. Two wins and two draws sees them sitting second in their group.

However, there is no reason to panic, and they should be able to close the gap to the top this week. They face Luxembourg on Friday, before travelling to group leaders Ukraine next Monday.

?GameDate/Time?TV Channel/Live Stream
?Portugal vs Luxembourg?Friday, Oct 11 (19:45)?Sky Sports Premier League
?Ukraine vs Portugal?Monday, Oct 14 (19:45)?Sky Sports Premier League

Ivan Rakitic (Croatia)

Ivan Rakitic

Croatia are part of a very tight group, as they sit just a point ahead of Slovakia and Hungary, with Wales a further three points back but with a game in hand.

This week will be a crucial one for Rakitic and his teammates, as they face Hungary at home before travelling to Wales over the weekend.

?Game?Date/Time?TV Channel/Live Stream
?Croatia vs Hungary?Thursday, Oct 10 (19:45)?Sky Sports Football (Red Button)
?Wales vs Croatia?Sunday, Oct 13 (19:45)?Sky Sports Football/Sky Sports Main Event

Moussa Wague (Senegal)

Moussa Wague

At just 21, Wague is (unsurprisingly) struggling to break into the Barcelona first team on a consistent basis, having made just three squads so far this season.

The full back could be pushing for a start for Senegal this week though, but he faces a tough test as his side face Brazil in Singapore. Keeping Neymar and co. quiet will be a difficult task for the youngster.

?GameDate/Time? TV Channel/Live Stream?
?Brazil vs Senegal?Thursday, Oct 10 (13:00)?LFC TV

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Lionel Messi Left Hamstring Issues Officially Confirmed

What can be worse than being passionate about your job, and not being able to do it due to an injury? If you have ever felt the disappointment of being unable to complete a task, imagine how Lionel Messi feels today, after Barcelona officially confirmed his hamstring injury. It’s not only the fact that he might be sidelined for a while but also the disappointment of his fans – and Barca’s fans – because of him missing from the playfield.

Take it slow

Messi’s injury has been noted by the team even before the player left for Argentina last week. Although the injury admittedly bothered him, Messi still scored Albiceste’s only goal against Uruguay. He played against Uruguay, but he won’t set foot on the field against Venezuela, and, according to Argentina coach Edgardo Bauza, he will most likely not play with Barca against Alaves either.

“Tests conducted today on first team player Leo Messi have confirmed that the discomfort in his left adductor muscle persists,” the announcement issued by Barca reads. “It’s advised he lowers the burden of training in the coming days and the evolution of the injury will mark his availability to return to action.”

“Everything is fine, I have to slow things down as I recover with physio, but it’s nothing to worry about”, Messi reassured his fans in a Facebook update this week. “Thanks to you all for your support.”

Sidelined

Since the evolution of Messi’s injury was discovered recently, and might still evolve, there’s no way to know when he will be back on the field. He might be out for weeks, during which he’ll have nothing to do but relax, see the doctors, and play – maybe even Football Star, so he won’t be missing the game too much.

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The good news

Although Messi is out for the time being, not all news are bad: Andres Iniesta announced that he is making good progress in recovering from the injury he suffered in the Spanish Super Cup. Speaking to online news outlet Cadena SER, Iniesta said that his knee is getting better by the day.

Vermaelen ready to return for FC Barcelona and feeling confident

camp-nou

cc by Leandro’s World Tour

It is difficult to believe that Thomas Vermaelen has now been a Barcelona player for some 14 months.

Snapped up for £15 million from Arsenal in the summer of 2014, the Belgium international was considered to be quite a coup, and a player who would slot seamlessly into the fold at Camp Nou.

Comfortable in possession and strong in the tackle, Vermaelen fit the Barca mould perfectly – with healthy competition provided to the likes of Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano.

His struggles in Catalunya since then have been well documented.

The 29-year-old arrived nursing niggles, but offered enough to Barcelona’s medical staff to suggest that he was worth spending big on.

A series of unfortunate fitness issues followed, preventing Vermaelen from making his competitive debut until the final game of the 2014/15 La Liga season – against Deportivo La Coruna.

He was, however, to work hard over the summer and returned better prepared to fight for a regular role this time around.

Luis Enrique has been prepared to offer him those opportunities, and the classy defender has impressed during his seven outings in all competitions.

He was, however, to be struck down again shortly after September’s international break, with an untimely calf complaint picked up during the first half of a meeting with Atletico Madrid forcing an early exit from that contest and preventing him from playing any part in Belgium’s final Euro 2016 qualifiers and subsequent rise to the top of the FIFA World Rankings.

A pause in domestic duties has given Vermaelen an opportunity to ease his way back to full health, though, and he has been a notable presence on the training ground this week.

He could now come back into contention for Saturday’s home date with Rayo Vallecano – a contest they are 1/7 to take maximum points from within La Liga betting markets.

His availability is likely to be welcomed by Enrique, with Barca having found it uncharacteristically difficult to keep the back door bolted of late.

You have to go back to August 29 to find the last clean sheet secured in all competitions, with seven fixtures having come and gone since then.

Vermaelen is no miracle cure, but he is a useful option to have at your disposal and is a player full of confidence again after coming through the most testing period of his professional career.

He admits to feeling better about his game, life in new surroundings and the start he has made to the current campaign.

All concerned at Barcelona will be hoping that Vermaelen’s most recent setback proves to be his last for the foreseeable future, allowing him to show his true colours in a role that was seemingly tailor-made for him.