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Opdateret: 1 time 26 minutter siden

Spain’s Sergio Ramos suggests England’s Harry Kane could be success in La Liga

10 timer 29 minutter siden
• ‘A physically fantastic striker. Technically he surprises you’
• England play Spain in Nations League match on Monday

The Spain captain, Sergio Ramos, has continued in his role as football’s grand pantomime villain by cheekily suggesting Harry Kane would be a success in La Liga.

The Tottenham striker, who is enduring something of a drought at international level, has been heavily linked with Ramos’s club, Real Madrid, in recent years. The two will face each other on Monday night in the Nations League and Ramos, who is no stranger to controversy following his exploits in the Champions League final against Liverpool, singled out Kane for praise before the match in Seville.

Related: Marcus Rashford fluffs his lines in England’s eerie draw with Croatia

Related: Rodrigo consigns England to defeat by Spain in first post-World Cup match

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Premier League assistant managers: who are they and what do they do?

søn, 14/10/2018 - 13:30
One shares a flat with his boss, another is known as the manager’s ‘brother’. A run-down of the men who help to shape their clubs’ success

Known as Carlos, the 45-year-old Spaniard is building up good relationships with the Arsenal players, even if he is not the type to shy away from confrontation. Fiery and animated, if he feels that something needs to be said, he will say it – even to Unai Emery. Arsenal are the sixth club at which he has worked as Emery’s assistant, following Almería, Valencia, Spartak Moscow, Sevilla and PSG. Carcedo was an uncompromising midfielder, who had spells with Atlético Madrid and Nice but played mainly at second division level. David Hytner

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Harry Kane says he is not concerned about his England goal drought

lør, 13/10/2018 - 23:30

• ‘I don’t think my game has dipped’
• Kane expects tougher test against Spain

Harry Kane has defended his recent form and insisted his all-round game has not dipped in the aftermath of a busy summer at the World Cup and early return to pre-season training, with the England captain declaring himself fit and eager to lead the side out against Spain.

The Tottenham striker struck the bar against Croatia on Friday and had another effort ruled out for offside, leaving the Golden Boot winner without a goal in six games for his country to equal his worst run of scoreless games at that level.

Related: Gareth Southgate confident ‘Harry will get us goals’ despite Kane’s drought

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Next Generation 2018: 20 of the best talents at Premier League clubs

ons, 10/10/2018 - 01:01

The Guardian picks the best prospect from each club born between 1 September 2001 and 31 August 2002, an age band known as first-year scholars. Check the progress of our 2017 class | 2016 | 2015 | 2014


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Christian Eriksen could have chronic abdominal problem, says Hareide

man, 08/10/2018 - 18:19
• Denmark manager says Spurs are worried about midfielder
• Players complain over FA’s ‘overly violent personal attacks’

Tottenham could suffer another injury setback after Denmark’s manager, Åge Hareide, suggested that Christian Eriksen’s stomach problem could be a chronic condition.

The 26-year-old has not played since his club’s 2-1 Premier League win at Brighton on 22 September.

Related: Denmark’s bits-and-pieces side go down fighting in friendly with Slovakia

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Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

man, 08/10/2018 - 09:26

A call to get tougher on diving, Arsenal are turning up the volume and Everton’s biggest investments are coming good

Declan Rice faces a big decision over his international future after once again being left out of the Republic of Ireland squad for the Nations League matches against Denmark and Wales as he ponders switching allegiances to England. The versatile 19-year-old – who qualifies for Ireland through his grandparents – already has three senior caps and represented them at several youth levels but remains eligible for the country of his birth under current Fifa regulations. He performed well in a defensive midfield role despite West Ham’s improved run of results coming to an end against Brighton on Friday and looks like the kind of player who could excel in Gareth Southgate’s young England side if given an opportunity. Manuel Pellegrini said Rice must take his time to decide but the best advice for him is to follow his heart. Ed Aarons

Related: Lukaku wants Manchester United to ‘always play like that’ – but can they?

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The Dozen: the weekend’s best Premier League photos

søn, 07/10/2018 - 21:16

Your weekend round-up of the best photography from England’s top flight

The Dozen archive

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Eric Dier fires home to steer Tottenham past 10-man Cardiff City

lør, 06/10/2018 - 18:09

For Tottenham, this was meant to be the calm after the storm. Tormented and taken apart by Barcelona here on Wednesday, they would have expected a visit from Cardiff to prove a far less stressful occasion, yet while they went on to secure a third successive Premier League victory it was by no means as comfortable as it should have been.

The hosts dominated possession, territory and chances created yet, having taken the lead through Eric Dier’s early goal, they could well have dropped points had Cardiff enjoyed more luck in front of goal.

Related: Gylfi Sigurdsson wonder strike gives Everton win over 10-man Leicester

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King of the dummy Luis Suárez makes Wembley a world of pure imagination | Barney Ronay

lør, 06/10/2018 - 10:00

The Barcelona forward’s pair of decisive feints against Spurs highlighted a dying art in an increasingly processed sport

In Chinese philosophy there is something called Wu Wei. This involves doing things by not doing things, becoming like the bamboo in the field, passive and indolent, living without resistance. Not the kind of passive you’re thinking about. Not passive in the sense of lying on the sofa watching the Test match with the curtains drawn for so long that when you get up to answer the doorbell both your legs have gone to sleep and you fall flat on the carpet in a mess of biscuit crumbs and existential angst.

No, not that kind of passive at all. In Wu Wei to be idle is to be alert and toned and clean-shaven. To be passive is to be a part of the world around you, knitted into its currents, a master of human affairs by remaining both within and apart from them. And yes, Wu Wei does sound quite complicated.

Related: Messi magic and the Aston Villa cabbage quandary – Football Weekly Extra

Related: La Liga: boring, uncompetitive and all that. Hang on … | Sid Lowe

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Pochettino unhappy with Martínez for revealing Vertonghen hamstring injury

fre, 05/10/2018 - 23:29
• Tottenham defender faces up to six weeks out
• Belgium manager Roberto Martínez revealed news

Jan Vertonghen is expected to be out until after the November international break, although Mauricio Pochettino was unhappy at how Roberto Martínez, the Belgium manager, revealed the news.

Martínez told a press conference on Friday the Tottenham defender was likely to be absent from his squad not only for the forthcoming international fixtures but for the next round of them, too – which would have him out until 20 November.

Related: Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris struggles to put private life problems behind him | David Hytner

Related: Premier League news: Pochettino hits out at Martínez over Vertonghen – live!

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Steer clear of Lewes on Bonfire Night | Brief letters

fre, 05/10/2018 - 17:38

5 November | Spurs’ Grand Designs | Toll bridges | X-rated Geoffrey Hayes | Basque food

Thanks for including Lewes Bonfire Night in the Guide (50 free things to do & see, 29 September). However, it’s worth pointing out that, like many folk customs, it’s not a spectator event and runs by its own rules, which don’t really accommodate tourists. The town is filled to capacity every 5 November, it’s noisy, smelly (thanks to the flaming torches), and some people find the robust attitude expressed in the effigies a bit disturbing. Genuinely, the town is best avoided unless you live there or have friends in the area.
Martin Brown
Market Lavington, Wiltshire

• After lamenting Tottenham Hotspur’s failure to get into their new ground by Christmas, John Crace (Digested week, 29 September) then says he’s been watching Grand Designs for 19 years. I doubt that. Any true fan of Grand Designs knows that they never “get in by Christmas”, so why should Spurs be any different?
Sebastian St John-Clarke
Diss, Norfolk

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Tottenham Hotspur v Cardiff City: match preview

fre, 05/10/2018 - 17:22

Neil Warnock says his job at Cardiff is “as difficult as any I’ve had in my career,” and it does not get any easier with this visit to a Tottenham side still smarting from their Champions League loss to Barcelona. Warnock has worked wonders in his two years at Cardiff, uniting the club and winning a surprise promotion. But have they been ready for the Premier League? Sorely lacking a goal threat, they continue to seek their first victory. David Hytner

Saturday 3pm

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Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend

fre, 05/10/2018 - 01:30

Liverpool’s tiredness could play into Manchester City’s hands, Newcastle should throw caution to the wind and Harry Winks must take his Tottenham chance

“It’s a game of small margins,” said Vincent Kompany of the season’s standout fixture to date between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield on Sunday. If the teams are as closely matched in quality as Kompany thinks then he can only have been heartened by the weary look of many of Liverpool’s players as they struggled with Napoli’s intensity in their 1-0 defeat on Wednesday. Jürgen Klopp’s midfielders create chances by harassing opponents out of possession and shuffling the ball forwards quickly but in Naples they looked heavy-legged. Liverpool’s past three fixtures read: Chelsea, Chelsea, Napoli; high-profile, energy-sapping games. City, meanwhile, have played Oxford, Brighton and Hoffenheim, and though they were made to work hard in Germany, they have not had to dig as deep as Liverpool’s players. If they are not 100% fit, Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Gini Wijnaldum (Liverpool’s likely midfield starters if there is a lingering concern over Naby Keïta) do not have an awful lot of guile to lean on. Unless the Melwood ice-baths are particularly effective, Liverpool’s most pressing concern will be how to reach the supreme zesty levels that helped them defeat City three times last season. GB

Manchester City to take different route to Anfield after bus attack

No wonder Manchester United are struggling under the Glazers

Related: Benítez and Newcastle players expect Ashley to spend in January window

Pochettino rues early error but salutes ‘unbelievable’ Messi

West Ham compound Manchester United gloom

Giroud may look the part but Chelsea would welcome a goal or two

Gunn the shootout hero as Southampton send Everton out

Related: Remembering Michael Jackson's peculiar relationship with football

Sancho, Mount and Maddison get first England call-ups from Southgate

Messi magic and the Aston Villa cabbage quandary – Football Weekly

Match report: Bournemouth 2-1 Crystal Palace

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Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris struggles to put private life problems behind him | David Hytner

tor, 04/10/2018 - 23:30

A second-minute blunder against Barcelona was not an ideal start on his return to action but the Spurs goalkeeper aims to keep battling to get back to his best

Hugo Lloris had not played since 27 August and everybody knows what has happened since – the drink-driving conviction; the ugly details in court; the shame and humiliation.

That last appearance at Manchester United, where Tottenham won 3-0, was three days after Lloris’s arrest and, when he injured himself during the match, Mauricio Pochettino put it down to the “massive stress” the goalkeeper was feeling because of his off-field problems.

Related: Lionel Messi’s masterclass gives Barcelona win over Tottenham

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Messi magic and the Aston Villa cabbage quandary – Football Weekly Extra

tor, 04/10/2018 - 15:34

Max Rushden is joined by Barry Glendenning, Paul MacInnes and John Ashdown as they look back on eventful games in the Champions League and Championship

Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and email.

Max Rushden is joined by Barry Glendenning, Paul MacInnes and John Ashdown as they look back on an eventful round of Champions League matches, where the mighty Premier League teams mustered a win ratio of 25%.

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Lionel Messi leaves Spurs toiling on a lower plane of sporting reality | Barney Ronay

tor, 04/10/2018 - 01:09

This was a night when all there was to do was gawp at the player who can bend the game according to his own physical laws

Sometimes you really do just have to stand and watch – and maybe gawp a little, too. The best athletes in every sport give us a glimpse of something else, a remix of the usual physical laws. At Wembley this sensation had an extra depth as Lionel Messi produced a hall-of-fame performance but did so in a Barcelona team who were stretched at times even as the genius at the other end was scoring twice, hitting the post twice and helping to make the other two in a 4-2 win.

Related: Lionel Messi’s masterclass gives Barcelona win over Tottenham

Related: Mauricio Pochettino rues early error but salutes ‘unbelievable’ Lionel Messi

Tottenham Hotspur (4-2-3-1)

Barcelona (4-3-3)

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Mauricio Pochettino rues early error but salutes ‘unbelievable’ Lionel Messi

tor, 04/10/2018 - 01:04

• Spurs manager says his players were heroes for chasing game
• ‘We still have it in our hands to be in the next stage,’ he says

Mauricio Pochettino lamented the self-inflicted “handicap” of a sloppy early concession to Barcelona from which his Tottenham side struggled to recover, as a wild 4-2 defeat left their Champions League hopes hanging by a thread.

Related: Lionel Messi’s masterclass gives Barcelona win over Tottenham

Tottenham Hotspur (4-2-3-1)

Related: Lionel Messi leaves Spurs toiling on a lower plane of sporting reality | Barney Ronay

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Tottenham Hotspur 2-4 Barcelona: Champions League – as it happened

ons, 03/10/2018 - 23:20

10.45pm BST

Related: Lionel Messi’s masterclass gives Barcelona win over Tottenham

Related: Mauricio Pochettino rues early error but salutes ‘unbelievable’ Lionel Messi

Related: Lionel Messi leaves Spurs toiling on a lower plane of sporting reality | Barney Ronay

10.20pm BST

“It was a tough game. When you concede in less than two minutes, you have to completely change everything. It is so difficult to assess because the emotion becomes tough against a team that has players like Messi, Suarez and Coutinho .... That is why I want to congratulate the players for the way they fought. I’m so proud of them, the effort was massive. We were good in the second half. But it is difficult to come back after giving a team like Barcelona a goal. But the most important thing was the character we shoed in the second half. Of course there were a few mistakes - that is clear - and when you do that in football at this level, you can concede a goal.”

As for Messi, Pochettino says. “He’s a fantastic player. The most important thing is that he shows in every game why he is Messi. He doesn’t have one game where he gives an average performance.”

10.11pm BST

Our man Daniel Taylor was at Wembley and here’s what he made of it.

10.07pm BST

Kieran Tripper has just shared his thoughts on TV: “Everybody knows they’re a quality side. We were disappointed to go a goal down so early. It was a strange game, with them also hitting the post twice in the second half. But we managed to get back into it ... The boys gave everything and we were much better in the second half.” As for the performance of Messi, the fullback says: “You dream of playing in games like this and playing against players like Messi. He was unbelievable today. .... We’ll keep on going. Barcelona were the better team tonight but there were positives we can take out of it.”

9.57pm BST

A rollickingly entertaining game ends with a deserved win for Barcelona, who attacked brilliantly and scored some wonderful goals, albeit thanks partly to sloppy Spurs’ defending. Messi was marvellous. Spurs scored a couple of excellent goals themselves and will wonder how things might have panned out if they had been at full-strength. But they don’t have the squad to cope with many injuries and ultimately they were not good enough to get the best of a Barcelona side who will go far in this tournament if they continue attacking like this like this and shore up their defence. Spurs, meanwhile, have zero points from two matches. They’re not out of it but will probably need to beat PSV twice, Inter at home and get at least a draw at the Nou Camp.

9.53pm BST

90+4 min: Spurs can’t get the ball. The only question, then, is whether Messi has time to plunder the 43rd hat-trick of his absurd career.

9.52pm BST

90+3 min: Dier booked for a high tackle on Suarez.

9.50pm BST

And that’s that. Messi applied the final touch but really Spurs shot themselves in the foot, giving the ball away as they tried to play their way too casually fro the back. Lloris, Trippier and Sissoko were all at fault. And Barcelona punished them expertly, with Suarez throwing in another wonderful dummies to let a pass from the left run to Messi. WIth more time than he needed right in front of Spurs’ goal, Messi gave Lloris no chance.

9.47pm BST

89 min: Alderweireld makes an interception on halfway and then strides forward. The move loses some impetus when he passes in-field to Dier, but Spurs eventually work a crossing opportunity for Moura on the right. His delivery is headed away.

9.45pm BST

Barcelona substitution: Vidal on, Arthur off.

9.44pm BST

86 min: Tripper sends over an outswinging corner. Alderweireld beats Pique to it ... but his header is not powerful enough to beat Ter Stegen.

9.44pm BST

85 min: The pesky Lenglet deflects Kane’s header behind after the corner. Spurs have another one ...

9.43pm BST

84 min: Brilliant run by Moura, beating one at the edge of the area and then chopping quickly on to his right to eliminate another defender. He then lets fly from 10 yards ... but Lenglet flings himself in front of the shot to deflect it behind for a corner!

9.42pm BST

84 min: Pique cuts out a cross by Kane aimed towards Llorente.

9.42pm BST

Barcelona substitution: Miranda on, Coutinho off.

9.41pm BST

83 min: That new dimension that Llorente is supposed to give Spurs’ attack is yet to become apparent. Barcelona are keeping them too far away from goal.

9.40pm BST

81 min: Winks picks out Moura with a low pass from midfield. The Brazilian takes it and turns, skedaddling forward a few years before drilling a shot into the arms of the keeper.

9.38pm BST

Spurs substitution: Llorente on, Lamela off, limping a little after a fine display. This could give Spurs’ attack a different dimension, and Barça’s defence a new challenge.

9.36pm BST

77 min: Nice, patient move by Spurs, culminating with a pass dropped by Dier on to the foot of Trippier, who sends in a fine low cross from the right. Nobody gets on the end of it.

9.35pm BST

76 min: Valverde is on his haunches on the sideline, looking decidedly stressed as Spurs try to rally for a final push in a game that Barcelona thought they had wrapped up.

9.32pm BST

75 min: Kane booked for being kicked by Pique as the defender inevitably followed through after clearing the ball.

9.32pm BST

74 min: Davies pops into an advanced position to receive a pass from Kane at the edge of the area. But the fullback then shanks his side high and wide. No matter, he was offside anyway.

9.31pm BST

73 min: Sissoko has replaced Son a few minutes ago.

9.29pm BST

71 min: Busquets booked for chopping down Lamela as Spurs launched a counter-attack.

9.28pm BST

69 min: Have to admire Barcelona’s determination to extend their lead rather than just cling on to it. They figure that playing the game in Spurs’ half is the best way to ensure the win. It’s making for an engrossing spectacle, with the tempo rising fast.

9.27pm BST

67 min: Lloris rushes off his line to beat Suarez to the ball. He taps it past the Uruguayan and chases after it on the other side! But who beats him to it? Only Messi! Alderweireld makes a timely intervention to save his keeper and keep this game alive!

9.25pm BST

Hold on, what’s this!? Game back on! After Arthur gave the ball away, Spurs worked the ball to Lamela about 20 yards out. He took a touch, looked up and curled a beautiful shot into the top corner, with an important nick off a defender. There’s more than one ingenious Argentinian on the pitch!

9.23pm BST

62 min: Barcelona are hogging the ball. But don’t fret, Spurs fans, because Sissoko is warming up. “Even by our usual spectacular efforts, it’s quite something to have taken last season’s high points, sprinkle them with talks of brave signings and electric Cup football nights in one of the world’s most incredible stadiums and end up playing in Milton Keynes and a silent Wembley with half a team,” sighs Dom in Kent. “Oh and jack season ticket prices through the roof and be dicks about it all while doing it. One wonders about Levy’s acumen sometimes. Last ‘deadline-day magic rabbit idea’ to push the team on, was to break our transfer record on a dustbin-skilled Arsenal fan who every single supporter of a struggling Newcastle personally offered to drive down to N17 AND pay for the petrol – and so to this year when apparently all we needed to compete on every front with the world’s best was to add Jack Grealish, though not enough to bid actual money for him.”

9.20pm BST

59 min: “Messi slips a pass through to Suarez, who opens fire on the run from the right. But he doesn’t catch it properly and it’s an easy save for Lloris, who doesn’t look up to making any other ones tonight. Meanwhile, Alfredo Estrade has a word to encapsulate Rakitic’s goal. “sobrepique: over-bounce if translated literally, ‘after-bounce’ if you want to be more clear about the meaning. That’s the word for the half-volley you’re trying to describe, in the southern corners of South America... we do have a language rich in futbol terms.”

9.17pm BST

Spurs substitution: Dier on, Wanyama off. It’s difficult to see that altering the course of this game, not least because it doesn’t address Barcelona’s numerical superiority in midfield. And there’s nothing Pochettino can do about their technical inferiority there.

9.15pm BST

There goes Spurs’ hope! Messi kills it off with a cool finish from near the penalty spot after arriving from deep to meet a low pull-back, thanks partly to clever dummies by both Coutinho and Suarez.

9.13pm BST

52 min: Lamela collected the ball on a counter-attack, mid-way inside the Barcelona half and central. He quickly fed Kane on the left-hand side of the box. With Semedo standing up to him, Kane turned one way and then back on to his right foot and used the defender as a screen as he curled a low shot past the keeper and into the bottom corner. Excellent finishing and it means this game a’int over!

9.11pm BST

A lovely finish by Kane and suddenly Spurs have hope!

9.10pm BST

50 min: This is ridiculous! Messi embarks on another intricate, deceptively fast run, starting from the left and veering in-field to th edge of the box and then unleashes a shot from the same position as before and hits almost exactly the same spot on the post!

9.09pm BST

48 min: Can’t help thinking while watching this that it’s obvious why Paul Pogba might fancy playing for this Barça side but it’s not at all clear that they need him on this evidence (or, indeed, on the evidence of most of Pogba’s performance for Manchester United).

9.06pm BST

47 min: Messi skitters between two Spurs’ players as if they’re not there and then tries to pass the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the box. It bounces out off the butt of the post! Lloris was well beaten. “I hope Spurs salvage defeat from the jaws of despondency and despair,” hollers Andrew Benton. Arsenal fan perchance?

9.04pm BST

46 min: Here we go again. No changes by either side during the interval.

9.03pm BST

In the other game in this group, it’s PSV 1-1 Inter at half-time.

8.57pm BST

“I know you’re busy and that and you do a fantastic job ...” begins Paul Howlett ominously. “... but when you describe Barça’s second goal, if he hits a bouncing ball it’s not a volley, is it? A volley is that sweet shot before it bounces: half-volley just after the bounce. Sorry, it’s one of those niggles.” You’re right and that’s been changed, although the key is in my description rather than the terminology. Because the terminology is inadequate really. We need to distinguish between a shot hit just as the ball bounces and one struck as the ball is high in the air after bouncing, like Rakitic’s. Which is a half-volley? This is an issue I have previously discussed at length and amid colourful swearing with the great Rob Smyth and, if I recall rightly, there was some support for deploying the term ‘bolley’ to refer to a shot hit as soon at he ball bounces. Drink may have been taken.

8.51pm BST

Two outstanding goals and a dominant passing performance have put the visitors in almost total control here. Depleted Spurs will have to do something highly improbable to salvage anything from this game now. They need to find a way of gaining a foothold in midfield for a start, and can certainly do without another goof like the one perpetrated by Lloris in the run-up to the first goal.

8.47pm BST

45+1 min: another long ball leads to a chance for Suarez, whose shot from the edge of the area is deflected out for a corner. Barça takes it short - their homage to the Reims side of the 50s - but it comes to nought.

8.46pm BST

45 min: There’s lots of groaning from the Wembley crowd at Spurs inability to match Barça’s passing play when they eventually get the ball. The visitors are bossing this.

8.44pm BST

44 min: Lamela booked for a foul that I, but not the ref, missed.

8.43pm BST

43 min: Arthur practically takes the mick with some wonderful close control and wriggly running in midfield as Spurs players charge around trying to dispossess him.

8.42pm BST

41 min: Wanyama booked for boshing into Messi near half-way. Not the most surprising development, it’s true.

8.41pm BST

40 min: Spurs pile several players into the Barça box as they attack with gusto. Tripper delivers a teasing cross from the right, but Semedo heads it clear.

8.40pm BST

37 min: Barça are suffocating Spurs now. Meanwhile, if you want to visualise what that Rakitic goals was like, think back to Mark Hughes famous strike for Wales against Spain many years ago and picture one not quite as good as that. Rakitici didn’t go horizontal in mid-air, see, but it was brilliant, all the same. “A friend of mine had a rabbit called Flopsy McManaman back at primary school,” recalls Maracas Flute.

8.36pm BST

35 min: Alba spots a canny run by Suarez and nearly picks him out with a pass over the top from halfway, but the Uruguayan’s control lets him down. They’ve used long passes well so far.

8.35pm BST

33 min: Messi is finding space in threatening positions with a regularity that must distress his compatriot Pochettino.

8.33pm BST

32 min: Moura feeds Kane, who again does well to hold on to the ball amid pressure before helping it on to Lamela, haring into the box down the left. Lamela’s low cross takes a deflection off Pique and is rerouted towards the net! But Ter Stegen reacts smartly and bats it away with one hand.

8.32pm BST

30 min: Spurs have a problem now and no mistake. It’s hard to see how they can do more to create the openings that have eluded them so far without exposing themselves to even more danger from a Barça team who are razor sharp going forward. And theres little on the bench by way of cavalry.

8.31pm BST

29 min: The move that preceded that goal was excellent, but the finish was simply exquisite. Messi started it with a dinked pass into the box to Suarez, who chested it into the path of Coutinho, who didn’t connect properly but managed to stop the ball from going out of play, sending it bouncing towards the edge of the area. What Rakitic did next was incredible: He leapt high to get above the bouncing ball and lash a wonderfully-controlled half-volley in off the post from 20 yards!

8.28pm BST

That is a stupendous goal!

8.26pm BST

26 min: Alderwerield goes long to Son at the edge of the D. The Korean lays the ball back well to Kane, who unloads a swirling shot from about 25 yards. It’s a fine effort and well held by Ter Stegen.

8.24pm BST

24 min: Busquets is back on the pitch, where his team are looking comfortable.

8.22pm BST

22 min: Busquets is down receiving treatment for a little cut on the knee.

8.21pm BST

21 min: Moura finds Kane, who does well to hold on to the ball despite pressure from three defenders. But he eventually has to pass it backwards and Spurs’ attack fizzles out.

8.20pm BST

19 min: Son tries to sprint past Semedo down the left but the defender matches him for pace, leading to the frustrated Korean committing a foul. The crowd boo, but that’s really just a sign of their anxiety rather than fair criticism of the ref. “I had a hamster that I named after Juninho and then it got really fat so changed his name to Jamie Pollock,” reveals Luke Nicholas. “The final twist was that we then found out he was a she so the name became Jemma Pollock.”

8.17pm BST

17 min: Son and Winks pester Barça into coughing up possession inside their own half. But the ensuing attack is too frantic and fails to make any inroads.

8.15pm BST

15 min: Alderweireld booked for pushing down Coutinho after the Brazilian rolled him and looked certain to collect a long pass from Pique. The freekick is about 28 yards out, to the left. Messi curls it into the danger zone, Lenglet heads over.

8.13pm BST

13 min: That’s better from Spurs! Tripper curled a nice low ball forward to reward a smart run by Lucas Moura, who tries to find Lamela near the penalty spot. But Pique cuts it out.

8.12pm BST

11 min: Spurs continue to have possession, but only in innocuous areas. Barça aren’t minded to give up their leads easily. “Our friend’s giant, ginger fuzzball of a cat was called Carlos (after Valderrama) and their shared hairstyle,” announces someone called The G Unit.

8.10pm BST

9 min: Spurs are finding their feet, stringing together some decent passing sequences. But Barça are pressing fervently and it’s hard for the hosts to get near the opposing box.

8.08pm BST

7 min: Lamela’s freekick delivery is dire.

8.08pm BST

6 min: Spurs try to work their way into the game but it’s all a bit blustery. But they get a freekick wide on the right when Messi, of all people, smashes into Trippier. Meanwhile, anyone in addition to the chap below name a pet after a footballer? Someone must have a spider called Yashin?

@Paul_Doyle I named my scruffy haired guinea pig Archibald after Steve Archibald due to his unkempt hair

8.06pm BST

4 min: Wanyam clunks down Messi mid-way inside the Spurs half, giving Barça a freekick. The visitors have been much the better side so far, looking real slick while Spurs are alarmingly ragged.

8.04pm BST

2 min: From inside the centre circle Messi sliced Spurs open with a precise low pass behind Trippier. Lloris came charging off his line in a doomed attempt to intercept near the corner of his box. Jordi Alba inevitably got there first and cleverly played a sideways pass in-field to Coutinho, who took a touch and slotted into the net from 20 yards, past a defender on the line.

8.02pm BST

A beautiful pass by Messi, a misjudgement by Lloris and a fine finish by Coutinho add up to a dreadful start by Spurs!

8.01pm BST

1 min: Spurs v Barça is go! The Londoners, all in white, take kickoff.

7.58pm BST

The Champions League jingle is playing and everyone is looking dutifully solemn. When it ends, an excited roar goes up around a full Wembley. Folks are in the mood today, at least in the stands.

7.56pm BST

The teams are in the tunnel, side by side and greeting each other amiably. Messi and Lamela go a step further and give each other a warm hug. No so much as a shove or jabbed finger in sight. Roy Keane would be outraged.

7.50pm BST

A word from the man signed by Barça from Spurs to replace Diego Maradona ...

Just looked at the story, the reason Archibald left Barcelona was because of injury, just wanted to clarify that mate https://t.co/qbLuPxewlx

7.48pm BST

Asked how tough it is going to be to play against Barcelona without several important players, Pochettino replies: “It’s not tough. We are so motivated. It’s a moment to step up for some players who don’t start consistently. We knew at the start of the season this would be a massive challenge but we’re not complaining and not finding excuses. We just have to try to play better than the opponent. They key today is to be offensive and try to have the ball in possession and try to force them to defend and go backwards. The most important is to be aggressive and try to play the ball in their half. That is the key to beating this type of team.” Pochettino is pretty much the direct opposite of Jose Mourinho, isn’t he? And yes, including his trophy count.

7.19pm BST

There’s a large patch of rough ground right in the middle of the Wembley pitch, a remnant, apparently, of Anthony Joshua’s recent scrap there. So don’t be surprised to see these sides hoofing the ball from box to box to avoid the bobbly bits. On the other hand, nah.

7.10pm BST

Barcelona tend to be arthouse darlings these days, even if affections are waning a little, but back when they met Spurs in the clubs’ only previous competitive tie – the 1982 Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final – they were very different beasts. Here’s what Martin Cloake and Adam Powley made of their display at White Hart Lane, as written in the book Glory Glory Nights: “The match began testily and got worse as a series of Barcelona fouls, sly transgressions and blatant assaults went unpunished. When referee Egbert Mulder finally dismissed Juan Estella in the 57th minute, all hell threatened to break loose. At one point a policeman had to intervene to stop Martin Manolo from attacking an increasingly incensed Graham Roberts.”

Here’s a clip, which also includes the sort of goalkeeping howler that Hugo Lloris will be looking to avert on his return to action today.

7.05pm BST

As expected, there is no Eriksen, Alli, Dembélé, Vertonghen or Aurier for Spurs. It looks like they’re going with a back four, with Wanyama and Winks in the deep midfield positions. Their bench looks weak. As for Barça, that defence can be got at. But how about that front three? And they could spring Dembélé and Vidal from the bench if need be.

Spurs: Lloris; Trippier, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Davies; Wanyama, Winks; Lucas, Lamela, Son; Kane.

6.19pm BST

Last season Spurs thrashed Real Madrid and Liverpool at Wembley but both those teams – not Spurs – later contested the Champions League final. That sums up where Tottenham are at: tantalisingly short of where they would like to be and maybe even where they should be. But in which direction are they moving? Forward? Or backwards as a result of the summer’s inertia in the transfer market? This match will provide more clues.

If they beat Barcelona despite being deprived of five important players through injury, then that would suggest their squad is stronger than supposed and Mauricio Pochettino does indeed have special powers. A defeat, meanwhile, would reinforce fears that Spurs have left themselves too threadbare and are stalling or slipping into reverse after four strong years under Pochettino. It would also, on the back of the loss at Inter in their group match, slash their chances of reaching the knockout stages of the Champions League.

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Lionel Messi’s masterclass gives Barcelona win over Tottenham

ons, 03/10/2018 - 23:02

For Tottenham it was a harsh lesson in the realities of the Champions League at the highest level. They found out here that it can be frightening at the top and, if anything, they probably got off lightly bearing in mind the long passages when Lionel Messi seemed utterly determined to leave the impression that, in their entire 136-year history, Spurs can never have encountered a man with his powers.

Related: Lionel Messi leaves Spurs toiling on a lower plane of sporting reality | Barney Ronay

Tottenham Hotspur (4-2-3-1)

Related: Mauricio Pochettino rues early error but salutes ‘unbelievable’ Lionel Messi

Barcelona (4-3-3)

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