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Chelsea confirm contract extension for Cesar Azpilicueta

Premier League giants Chelsea have confirmed that vice-captain Cesar Azpilicueta has penned a new long-term deal to keep him at the club until the summer of 2022. The Spain international has racked nearly 300 appearances during his six-and-a-half seasons with the Blues and he has now been rewarded with a fresh deal which would extend his association with the club for up to a decade.

“I am really happy to extend my stay here at Chelsea. Since I came, I felt the joy and responsibility to play for this club, these fans, and every time I go on the pitch I try do my best. Hopefully there is a lot to come and we can keep Chelsea where it belongs.” Azpilicueta told the club’s official website following the renewal.
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Maurizio Sarri continues to keep the faith on Giroud and Morata

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has indicated that he would continue to keep the faith on centre-forward duo Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud during the first half of the season. The pair have scored just one goal between them since the campaign started and this has generated doubts over their positions with a young Callum Hudson-Odoi waiting for an opportunity to impress.

However, speaking after the 1-1 draw against Liverpool, Sarri highlighted that both strikers add purpose to the squad despite their shortcomings in finding the scoresheet, he said: “I want to use Giroud and Morata because I think it’s right to use them in the first part of the season. You know the characteristics; Giroud is very important for his team-mates and I think Morata in the last 25 minutes was more aggressive than usual.”
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Juan Mata earning Spain recall under Luis Enrique

Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata is looking forward to fighting for a national team recall now that Luis Enrique has been appointed as Spain’s new manager. Mata barely featured under former boss Julen Lopetegui but he is now hoping for a change of fortunes under the guidance of the former Barcelona boss.

Speaking to ESPN, he said: “I was disappointed not to go (to the World Cup). But then after that, I was hoping for them to win. Now, things have changed. We have a new manager again, Luis Enrique… I’m again excited about the possibility of coming back. I obviously want to come back and try to play as many games as I can with the national team. I’m really excited about it and I think the future, it can be still bright for Spain, because we have young players coming that, as I said, they have the level to compete.”
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Luis Enrique – The New Head Coach Of Spain

Luis Enrique would be the new coach of La Roja and the announcement was made at the event hosted by the Spanish Football Federation. Enrique said that he is delighted to take up the project. He showed excitement and said is ready to take up the challenge. He would give it his best shot and eagerly wait to win the upcoming competitions.

Luis Rubiales, the president of the Federation is totally relying on Enrique especially post Julen Lopetegui’s dismissal and the resignation of Fernando Hierro. The president said that Enrique was the only coach they approached and everything was quite straightforward due to his passion and commitment to football. The management is ready to do everything to ensure that the head coach is comfortable. Enrique has been described as a modern coach with an excellent work methodology by Jose Francisco Molina, the new technical director of the federation.
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Chelsea boss urges Alvaro Morata to overcome stupid confidence

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has urged Alvaro Morata to overcome his ‘stupid’ confidence after going through a difficult streak with the Blues. The Spain international had not scored for the club since Boxing Day, and he did himself no favours last week after he was sent off against the Norwich City in the FA Cup third-round replay.

The Blues continued to beat the Canaries on penalties, and they have since thrashed Brighton & Hove Albion by a 4-0 scoreline on the road. Speaking ahead of the League Cup semi-final versus Arsenal, Conte supported the striker through his difficult but wants the Spaniard to overcome his ‘stupid’ problems in order to regain his goalscoring form.
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Antonio Conte hails Eden Hazard-Alvaro Morata partnership

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has hailed the partnership of Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata following the Blues’ 1-1 draw versus Liverpool on Saturday afternoon. The pair were in a constant presence in the Reds half during the course of the game, and Conte was ultimately disappointed to have come out with only a draw.

Spain international Alvaro Morata started the season as the main man in the Blues attack, but Hazard has left his mark on the playing field ever since his return from an ankle injury. The former Lille man has been contributing constantly towards the club’s progress in recent weeks, and the Anfield game was no different as he popped up with a defining assist for Willian’s freak goal in the 85th minute.
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Spain still need a No. 9

Now that the group stages have reached it’s end, most of the qualifying national teams have been decided and for those nations that were not able to secure their direct qualifying ticket but still managed to compete in the play-offs, those final qualification rounds have also reached their conclusion.

Denmark, Sweden, Croatia and Switzerland are all of the final teams that earned the qualification after finishing victorious in their respective play-offs and Italy were surprisingly knocked out by Sweden. (more…)

The Best Footballer of all time to come from Brazil

Brazil has produced some of the best football players and many of them have had the opportunity to move over to Europe and play in some of the biggest leagues for some of the biggest teams in the world.

They are the most successful team in the World Cup, having lifted the trophy five times, their most recent being in 2002. Despite hosting the 2014 World Cup, Brazil were knocked out by eventual winners Germany 7-1 in the semi-final, meaning the Germans are one World Cup behind the Brazilians ahead of the 2018 World Cup which will be held in Russia and football betting is likely to see them remain one of the favourites once again.

But who is the best Brazilian football player? We take a look at some of the greatest Brazilians to step foot on a football pitch and their individual honours and well as those won with both club and country.

Pele
Edson Arantes do Nascimento or as he’s more commonly known, Pele, is generally regarded as the greatest player to ever play football. Known amongst players and fans as “The King of Football”, the Brazilian managed to win three World Cups during his illustrious career.

Pele is one of the few great Brazilians to have never played in Europe for a European club, having spent the majority of his career at Brazilian club Santos before ending his career at American football club New York Cosmos.

He made his debut for Santos aged just 15 and holds the record for the most appearances for the club and is the record goal scorer. He made over 1100 appearances for Santos scoring over 1000 goals in an eighteen year spell with them.

Internationally, as well as winning the 1958, 1962 and 1970 World Cups, Pele also managed to become the top scorer for Brazil, with 77 goals.

Ronaldo
The original Ronaldo, is a player who is generally considered to be one of the best pure strikers in the game. He won two World Cups, in the United States in 1994 and in South Korea & Japan in 2002. He helped Brazil reach the final of the 1998 World Cup, however on the eve of the final, he suffered a fit and was rushed to hospital. Despite being cleared to play and making himself available, he was unable to find the same form he was in during the previous matches in the tournament and hosts France would beat Brazil 3-0.

At club level Ronaldo played for club rivals in both Spain and Italy, having played for both Barcelona and Real Madrid in Spain and Inter Milan and AC Milan in Italy. He won the UEFA Cup with Inter Milan in 1998 and La Liga with Real Madrid in the 2002/03 and 2006/07 seasons. He was named Fifa World Player of the Year three times; in 1996, 1997 and 2002.

The Brazilian striker’s career was ravaged by knees injuries and later, weight issues and were it not for these issues, Ronaldo may have overtaken Pele as the top scorer for Brazil.

Ronaldinho
Ronaldinho moved to Europe in 2001 as he left Gremio to join French club Paris Saint-Germain, where he began to establish himself as a top player, even if he showed some inconsistency. He spent two seasons in Paris before leaving for Spanish club Barcelona, where the Brazilian attacking midfielder made a name for himself globally, winning two La Liga titles and a Champions League during his five years at the club.

He was an integral part of the 2002 World Cup winning Brazil team, in particular against England in the quarter-final, where he showed his immense talent in setting up Rivaldo to score the equaliser before scoring a memorable free-kick which caught the England goal keeper David Seaman off guard.

His final club in Europe was AC Milan, where he played for three seasons, winning the Serie A title in the 2010/11 season. He moved back to Brazil and finally called an end to his career in 2015.

Romario
There are few players who were quite so clinical in the penalty area than Romario. The Brazilian striker managed to notch up nearly 700 goals in close to 900 games at club level, winning the Eredivisie three times with PSV and a La Liga title with Barcelona.

1994 was a great year for Romario, having won the 1993/94 La Liga title with Barcelona, he went on to win the 1994 World Cup in the United States before rounding off the year by winning the FIFA World Player of the Year.

Much like Pele, Romario is praised as one of the greatest players, with Dutch legend Johan Cruyff describing him as “a genius of the goal area.”

Cafu
Widely regarded as one of the best full backs in football, Cafu managed to carve out a career in which he won two World Cups, USA 1994 and South Korea & Japan 2002. At club level he won two Serie A titles, one with Roma in the 2000/01 season and another with AC Milan in the 2003/04 season.

In continental competitions he helped Real Zaragoza to win the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, while he managed to win Europe’s biggest club competition, the Champions League in the 2006/07 season with Milan. The club would also go on to win the Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup later that year with Cafu playing an influential role in providing the club’s success.

Despite being a defender, he was an attack minded player who loved to get forward and provide accurate crosses for team mates in the penalty area. His longevity as a player helped him become the most capped player for Brazil, having made 142 appearances for his nation.

Dani Alves
He may not be the first name on everyone’s team sheets when they think of the best Brazilian football players, but Dani Alves, currently at Paris Saint-Germain, is the Brazilian who has won the second highest number of club trophies. The only player to have more than him? No not Pele, not Ronaldinho, not Ronaldo, it’s actually recently retired left back Maxwell.

You might be wondering why Maxwell isn’t on this list instead of Alves. Yes he may have won more club trophies, but his lack of international appearances and fewer club appearances suggest he’s not quite at the same level as Alves, who is regarded as having been one of the best right backs of his generation.

Alves has won the 2007 Copa America with Brazil as well as the 2009 and 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup. His list of individual honours includes being listed in the FIFA FIFPro World XI six times and the UEFA Team of the Year four times.

So who is the best Brazilian player? Dani Alves has won a lot of club honours, but Pele managed to win the World Cup, three times in fact. Pele is held in high regard amongst his fellow professionals and fans alike and his reputation as being the King of football is something that cannot be overlooked, meaning Pele would be my pick.

Who would wears that?!

Neon boots, sarongs, gold cars! No one said footballers had any sense of style. Footballers might be well paid but style cannot be bought.

The football bets team at Paddy Power have devised a quiz of the most recognisable players and their accessories from boots to sports cars, can you guess who owns what?

Mourinho blames Del Bosque for recent injuries

Diego Costa has not been able to play for Chelsea during their latest matches against: Crystal Palace, Maribor, Manchester United and Shewsbury Town due to a hamstring injury that the Spanish forward picked up

Chelsea’s Jose Mourinho has blamed Vicente del Bosque as well as the busy schedule of certain players for the recent injuries and physical problems that Diego Costa and other players have picked up.

“It hurts. You are not happy when you give players in good conditions and you receive the players in bad conditions. I had managers with a very open communication, some others they simply don’t care. Year after year after year, I don’t have one single SMS or one single phone call. Diego has the hamstring problem because he played two matches in three days when he was not with us.”

“I don’t say that communication is compulsory for the players to be back in good conditions. I’m not saying that. For example, I didn’t speak with Dunga and Oscar, Filipe Luis and Willian came back in perfect conditions.” Jose Mourinho told the media.

Diego Costa was born in Brazil but after having been granted Spanish nationality and expressing his desire to play with the Spanish national squad, Costa started performing for Spain on March of the current year. Costa is the top goal-scorer of the Premier League but has not made an impact for the Spanish national team and Jose Mourinho is starting to fear that the underwhelming performances which have been displayed by Costa for Spain could continue on at Stamford Bridge with Chelsea.

Even though Costa has not made a big splash with the Spanish national squad, Vicente del Bosque is optimistic that things will change soon and according to the coach of Spain, the only thing that Costa needs is to adapt and then the results will start being displayed in the pitch.