‘They Should Change it’: International Goalkeepers State That World Cup Ball Will Cause ‘Problems’

Spain goalkeepers Pepe Reina and David de Gea have slammed the new football which will be used at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

The Adidas Telstar 18, a remake of the iconic ball used at the 1970 and 1974 tournaments, was released in November of last year and was trialled at Spain’s friendly against Germany on Friday.

Germany v Spain - International Friendly

The reviews from the keepers were far from glowing, with Napoli’s Reina and Manchester United’s De Gea teaming up with Die Mannschaft and Barcelona stopper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen to criticize the new Adidas product.

“I bet you as much as you like that we’ll see at least 35 goals from long range [in Russia], because it’s impossible to work out,” Reina told Diario AS following the  1-1 draw. “And it’s covered in a plastic film that makes it difficult to hold on to.

“Goalkeepers are going to have a lot of problems with this ball.”

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“It’s really strange,” De Gea chimed in. “It could have been made a lot better.”

While Ter Stegen isn’t in favour of the Telstar 18 being used in Russia, he seemed resigned and ready to accept it.

“The ball could be better; it moves a lot,” he declared But I think we’re just going to have to get used to working with it and try to get to grips with it as quickly as possible before the World Cup starts.

“We’ve got no other option.”

Reina, though, vehemently disagreed: “They should change it – there’s still time,” said the Napoli star.

Reina is right; there is still time. But it’s highly unlikely anything will be changed. In fact, FIFA are probably counting on crowds getting excited over long-range goals in the summer.


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‘He Has Everything’: Saul Niguez Lauds Midfield Mentor Sergio Busquets in Fascinating Interview

?Saul Niguez has given a fascinating insight into what makes his Spain teammate Sergio Busquets so special, in an interview with Spanish newspaper ?El Pais.

The 23-year-old midfielder plays a similar role at ?Atletico Madrid to that played by Busquets at ?Barcelona, and Busquets has been something of a mentor to Niguez since he broke into the Spain team in 2016.

Speaking to Diego Torres, Niguez was asked whether it is difficult to be a team’s ‘organiser’ – the underappreciated role that he and Busquets share.

“Yes, even more so in the way we play in that deeper midfield role,” he answered. “If you play further upfield you can have more time or more ways to carry the ball[…] In that position, what you do is give time to your teammates. [Busquets] knows how to do that.

“He encourages you to make the next play, by playing the ball to you in a way that you can figure out what to do next. If he plays it to the back of you it’s for you to return it, if he plays it to your front it’s because you’re free to turn.

“For me to do that, I must be very focused and it mentally wears me out a lot more. It comes naturally to him.”

Niguez was also asked about the physical differences between himself and the less imposing Busquets.

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(You may also be interested in ‘I’m Proud to Play for Spain’: Barcelona Defender Gerard Piqué Hits Back at ‘Traitor’ Accusations)

“He makes up for it mentally, by knowing how to position himself, by knowing where his opponents are and being able to invite them out wide right in the ideal moment for him to press them.

“He is aware that he probably won’t win a speed race or a physical duel, but if he takes them where he wants them he’ll recover possession.

“I may have the physical ability but he has everything else.”

Busquets is absent from the current Spain squad due to a toe injury. Niguez is included, and played the second half against Germany on Friday.

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Barcelona President Josep Bartomeu Set to Trigger Elections by Ending Nou Camp Reign

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu could be on the verge of stepping down, according to former candidate Agusti Bendito.

Bendito, who ran for the club’s presidency both in 2010 and 2015, had attempted to overthrow the board after setting a vote of no confidence in motion last year. He is now claiming that there will be club elections this year, with Bartomeu to possibly step down.

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?“I think it is very possible that there will be elections at Barcelona this year,” he said to La Sotana de Ona Santi (H/T Marca).

“Bartomeu has decided to leave the presidency this year. There are people within the club working on this hypothesis. I think Cardoner would like to [take over] but I don’t think he has any chance. They’re likely working on an outside name and we will know soon.

“Depending on how the season ends, the temptation to take advantage of the results can be very high.”

Benedito had previously called for the president to resign from his post after the sale of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain last year, a development which really upset him.

“This board has done a staggeringly bad job,” he remarked. “Bartomeu should resign, he is out of control. We are facing a really important institutional crisis and must act.

Agusti Benedito, candidate for chairman

“He agreed to condemn the club for a tax offence and paid a fine of €5.5 million. He did that to save himself and [former Barca president Sandro] Rosell from prison.”

Bartomeu has been Barca’s president since 2014, after Rosell resigned. If he were to follow suit, fans of the Catalan outfit could possibly experience a host of changes within their club.


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Barcelona Midfielder Andres Iniesta Insists He Doesn’t Expect Neymar to Join Real Madrid

Barcelona’s veteran midfielder Andres Iniesta has given his opinion on Neymar’s potential move to fierce rivals Real Madrid, claiming he would be ‘surprised’ about the transfer.

A move to Real Madrid has been touted ever since Neymar joined Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona last summer, and the rumours have not expired since.

According to Brazilian outlet UOL Esporte, Neymar and his agent met last week to deliberate over a contract offer that has been submitted by Los Blancos.

Real Madrid v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg

It’s been claimed that Real could trigger the Brazilian’s €400m release clause to bring him back to La Liga – which would make him join the likes of Luis Figo, Ronaldo, Samuel Eto’o and Michael Laudrup to have played for both Blauranga and Real.

Iniesta was speaking on a Spanish radio show when asked about the Neymar rumours, he replied: “Normally, when you leave somewhere it’s difficult to go back,” Iniesta told ‘El Larguero’ radio show, per Sport. “For that reason, it would surprise me more if he returned rather than going to another team, but we will see.

“If they sign him, Madrid would land one of the best in the world. But we would still have a squad which I consider better.”

(You may also be interested in: ?Cristiano Ronaldo Eager to Bag New Real Madrid Deal Worth €1 More Than Messi to Seal ‘Best’ Status)

The Brazilian forward has been a controversial figure in Ligue 1 and failed to help bring the Parisians their first taste of Champions League glory, which they had been craving all season.

Neymar’s time at PSG has been ebb and flow – he was said to be unhappy in the French capital following a number of on-field clashes with team-mate Edinson Cavani.

Real’s attempt to bring in the 26-year-old is a telling sign from Zinedine Zidane, who is clearly aware that his side need to improve after enduring an underwhelming season this term. His side sit 15 points behind bitter rivals Barca and will be looking to challenge at the top next time round.

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Juventus Legend Gianluigi Buffon Has His Say on the ‘Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo’ Debate

Legendary Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has given his views on the infamous ‘Messi vs Ronaldo’ debate.

Buffon was speaking to reporters in a pre-match press conference, as Italy prepare to take on Argentina in a friendly at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium this evening.

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The 40-year-old described Messi as a ‘more complete’ player, but described Ronaldo as a ‘killer in the penalty area’ and praised him for adapting his style of play as he has gotten older.

It is a debate which has been ongoing for a long time, with both players considered to be two of the best in history.

Messi and Ronaldo have each won the FIFA Balon d’Or on five occasions, and there has been a fierce professional rivalry between the two players that has continued for several years.

“They are two completely different players,” veteran goalkeeper Buffon told reporters on Thursday.

 

Real Madrid v Barcelona - La Liga

 

“Messi is more complete, because he starts deeper, has more technical quality and a vision of the game that is worthy more of a trequartista than a finisher.

“Cristiano Ronaldo, perhaps because he is a little older, has become a killer in the penalty area. Compared to how he was before, Ronaldo preserves his energy more, so he no longer goes out to the flank for a nutmeg or trick-shot, but with one ball into the box he can create a goal.”

Buffon is preparing to face Messi’s Argentina in Manchester on Friday, and is facing a tough test against Messi. Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli recently said that Messi now has the responsibility of carrying the Argentina national team on his shoulders as they enter the 2018 World Cup.