Portugal, Argentina Make It Safely To World Cup

The possibility of a World Cup without Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi turned out to be a false alarm, yet next year’s tournament will still have a major absentee after the United States’ extraordinary failure to qualify on Tuesday.

Panama, meanwhile, showed it is perfectly possible for small nations to qualify without expanding the finals to 48 teams, which is planned for the 2026 edition, as they joined Iceland in reaching the tournament for the first time.

South American champions Chile, like African counterparts Cameroon, missed out on a ticket to Russia – and, bizarrely, their elimination was the result of a successful protest made to Fifa about opponents fielding an ineligible player.

Twenty-three of the 32 finalists have now been decided while the remainder will be settled in November with four European playoffs, two intercontinental playoffs and the final round of African qualifiers, where three groups are still open.

Brazil, who will be making their 21st World Cup appearance, remain the only ever-present side at the finals and had qualified long before Tuesday’s drama.

Ronaldo and Messi, who have won Fifa’s World Player of the Year award between them since 2008, went into the final group matches uncertain of whether they would take part next year.

Those fears were allayed as Messi’s hat-trick led Argentina to a 3-1 win at high altitude in Ecuador to ensure their place and Portugal made it with a 2-0 win over Switzerland.

The US, one of Fifa’s most important members in commercial terms, were not so lucky as a shock 2-1 defeat in Trinidad and Tobago, combined with wins for Panama and Honduras, ended their run of seven successive finals appearances.

The Netherlands, semifinalists in 2014 and runners-up in 2010, will also miss out while four-time champions Italy, who last failed to qualify in 1958, face a two-leg playoff in November.

The impact of the U.S’s absence will be felt at broadcasters Fox, who take over coverage of the World Cup from ESPN starting with the 2018 tournament and a host of sponsors, such as Nike, who had been hoping for plenty of World Cup exposure.

SMALLER NATIONS

Panama’s first-ever qualification for the finals prompted President Juan Carlos Varela to declare a national holiday, describing it on Twitter as a “historic day for the country”.

But their 2-1 win over Costa Rica also highlighted global soccer body Fifa’s surprising decision not to use goal-line technology in the qualifiers, as the ball did not appear to fully cross the line for their first goal.

Panama’s success also strengthened the hand of those who argue that the expansion of the World Cup to 48 teams is not necessary to allow more smaller countries to take part.

On Monday, Iceland, with a population of less than 350 000, became the smallest nation ever to qualify for the finals while Cape Verde, with a population of 550 000, are still in contention for one of the African places.

A bigger World Cup may also devalue the qualifying competition, particularly in South America where two points separated five teams battling for two direct places and a playoff spot before Tuesday’s enthralling finale.

An evening of unremitting tension ended with Uruguay, Argentina and Colombia joining Brazil in Russia, while Peru’s 1-1 draw was enough to land them in fifth place – the playoff spot – and continue dreaming of a first appearance since 1982.

Peru sneaked ahead of Chile on goal difference after their southern neighbours lost 3-0 to Brazil and dropped to sixth. They were also indebted to Venezuela who stopped Paraguay from taking the playoff spot with a shock 1-0 win in Asuncion.

Earlier in the competition, Chile got an extra two points after protesting that Bolivia fielded an ineligible player – Paraguay-born Nelson Cabrera – during a 0-0 draw in Santiago.

Fifa agreed and awarded them a 3-0 walkover win – but then did the same for Peru who lost 2-0 to Bolivia and therefore gained three extra points, compared to Chile’s two.

That extra point proved decisive on Tuesday.

Real Star Feels More Superior Than Messi

Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo can’t see Barcelona rival Leo Messi succeeding in the Premier League.

Messi is being linked with a world record €400m move to Manchester City today as his new contract remains unsigned.

And Don Balon says Ronaldo thinks the Barcelona star would struggle to handle life in England’s top flight.

Ronaldo views himself as the superior player because of what he achieved during his time at Manchester United.

Indeed, he feels Messi has had it easy at Barcelona.

He came through the club’s famous La Masia academy and has always had a team full of stars around him.

 

 

Zidane Hails Bale, Ronaldo For Real’s Win

Real Madrid’s coach Zinedine Zidane praised goal-scorers Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo, who netted twice in a 3-1 victory as Real Madrid finally claimed a Champions League win at Borussia Dortmund.

Christiano Ronaldo marked his 150th European game with second-half goals after Bale’s stunning early volley gave Real the lead at Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored Dortmund’s consolation goal with just over half an hour left, but the Germans were simply out-played by holders Real.

Having also netted twice against APOEL, Ronaldo has now scored four goals in just two Champions League games this season.

“I’m happy for Cristiano… again! I’m delighted for Ronaldo and Bale,” said Zidane.

This is the first time Dortmund have lost at home to Real in seven European games while holders Madrid have now scored in 38 successive Champion League games.

“It is difficult to play in this stadium, we have never won here, so this victory was important to us, and the whole game was good for us from start to finish,” said Zidane.

“We had a lot of ball possession, that was the key.

“Dortmund played as impressively as ever, but we compensated well.”

Dortmund shaded possession and matched Real’s tally of 16 shots on goal and Zidane wanted to see more chances converted.

“We could have scored more. We had chances. The important thing is to score more than our opponents and we did that,” said the Frenchman.

“The side worked hard – Isco, (Luka) Modric, Casemiro and (Toni) Kroos were marvellous.

“Everyone was brilliant. It was a tremendous game.”

The result leaves the Real top of Group H, just ahead of Tottenham Hotspur, who beat APOEL 3-0 away, with Dortmund third and six points adrift of Spurs, who they also lost 3-1 to in London.

Dortmund coach Peter Bosz gave an honest appraisal of his team, who were better than Real in virtually every statistic – apart from the scoreboard.

“We defend with 11 players and we attack with 11 players,” said the Dutchman, whose Dortmund shaded possession and match Real’s 16 shots on goal.

“We were just too late against a side who barely made a mistake and we have to defend better.

“We didn’t put any pressure on the ball during the game and it’s difficult against an opponent like that.

“We were always too late, we have to analyse the performance and do better in the future.

Dortmund should have been awarded a penalty with 13 minutes gone when Real captain Sergio Ramos cleared Maximilian Philipp’s shot off the line and the ball deflected off his hand.

“That was clearly a handball in the first-half, but we deserved to lose,” admitted Bosz.

‘Ronaldo ‘Delighted’ To Be Staying At Madrid’

Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring during extra-time of the Club World Cup football final match between Kashima Antlers of Japan and Real Madrid of Spain at Yokohama International Stadium in Yokohama on December 18, 2016.

Cristiano Ronaldo, hounded by allegations of tax evasion in Spain, is “delighted” to be staying at Real Madrid, according to club president Florentino Perez, who called claims that the Portuguese striker might leave the country exaggerated.

“As he said a little while back, he’s delighted to be here. No one is better placed than him to say that,” Perez told Cadena Ser radio.

Ronaldo strongly denied having evaded 14.7 million euros ($17.5 million) in tax on his image rights when he appeared in court for a preliminary hearing on July 31.

Prosecutors accuse the Real Madrid star of evading tax via a shell company based in the British Virgin Islands and another in Ireland, known for low corporate tax rates.

In addition, they say Ronaldo only declared 11.5 million euros of Spanish-related income from 2011 to 2014, while what he really earned during that time was close to 43 million euros.

They also accuse him of “voluntarily” refusing to include 28.4 million euros in income linked to the sale of his image rights for the 2015 to 2020 period to a Spanish company.

The four-time World Player of the Year, 32, has been heavily critical of the probe into him, leading to rumours that he might seek to quit Spain.

“I don’t know what happened this summer,” Perez said. “A Bola (newspaper) published a story, on what a teammate might have said (about Ronaldo leaving)… In the end, there was nothing.

“As there was not much to talk about this summer, they exaggerated,” Perez said, conceding however that “Cristiano was angry about this tax problem, having been summoned, that’s not nice for anyone.”

Perez added that there was nothing in the case against Ronaldo “that would constitute a crime”.

“He’s hidden nothing and if there’s no hiding, there’s no crime,” he said.

“It’s possible there’s a different interpretation (between Ronaldo’s advisers and tax authorities) and he’s cool and collected on this issue.”

 

Source: The Guardian

 

Christiaino Ronald Flaunts His Brand New Ferrari F12 Wipe

Real Madrid striker, Cristiano Ronaldo has taken delivery of a brand new Ferrari F12 TDF which will have cost him an eye-watering £350,000

Ronaldo who recently returned home from international duty with Portugal, where he scored three goals against the Faroe Islands, showed off the new whip in an  Instagram snap.

The 32-year-old is seen by the side of the car with the door open, while his son sits in the driver’s seat.

The former Manchester United striker is no stranger to super cars, he has previously been pictured with a Bugatti Veyron and several Mercedes rides.

Ronaldo UEFA’s Player Of The Year

Cristiano Ronaldo was named UEFA Player of the Season for 2016-2017 on Thursday after a campaign which saw the Portuguese superstar help Real Madrid to the La Liga and Champions League double.

It was the third time that Ronaldo had won the award which was presented on the sidelines of the Champions League group stage draw.

His great rival Lionel Messi has won the prize on two occasions and could pave the way for him to capture a fifth Ballon d’Or title.

“There are the same goals every year, to meet the same challenges, win everything if possible, qualify for the World Cup with my national team,” said Ronaldo.

“This trophy will give me the motivation to keep working hard, never to give up. I am blessed and delighted to be with Real Madrid.”

Ronaldo won the Uefa award in 2013-2014 and 2015-2016 and in the Champions League last season, where Real defeated Juventus 4-1 in the final, he finished as top scorer with 12 goals.

Juventus goalkeeper and captain Gianluigi Buffon was second in the voting ahead of Messi.

 

 

Source: Supersport

Rolando To Soon Reunite With Manchester United

The next European cup fixtures with the two tough team that has one thing “Cristiano Rolando”. Real Madrid and Manchester United meet to battle for the cup. Cristiano Ronaldo could feature against his former club Manchester United in Tuesday’s UEFA Super Cup after being included in Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane’s squad for the trip to Skopje, Macedonia.

Ronaldo’s summer has been overshadowed by accusations of tax evasion in Spain, which led to him being appearing in court last week, and speculation over his future.

According to a report from Spanish radio station Cadena Ser, Ronaldo told the court he “would like to return to England” due to his tax troubles in Spain.

The World Player of the Year only returned to training with his Real teammates on Saturday as he was handed an extended summer break after playing for Portugal at the Confederations Cup and is still not expected to start.

However, as is common for showpiece occasions, Zidane has decided to take his entire 24-man squad to Macedonia.

Customs Surprises Rolando’s And Board His Yatch

Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo was treated to a surprise visit aboard his rented yacht when Spanish customs agents boarded the boat in what tax authorities said on Wednesday was merely a “routine check.”

The 32-year-old Portuguese star is holidaying in the Balearic Islands along with his girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez and family, according to Spain’s Hola celebrity magazine, which first reported the story.

The magazine published photos of three uniformed customs agents arriving on a motorised rubber dinghy before boarding the grey yacht where an awning was pulled down over the main part of the boat as they went about their inspection.

News of the inspection, which took place on Tuesday, made waves — coming as it does just three weeks before Ronaldo appears before a judge, accused of evading €14.7 million in taxes.

But a source at Spain’s tax agency, who refused to be named, said it was merely “a routine check of vessels.”

“We do this every summer in the Balearic Islands. It doesn’t affect those who use the boats, it’s related to charter companies’ registration taxes.”

Roy Keane Sings High Praise For Former Team Mate

The former Manchester United captain had high praise for the Portuguese star, who has again led Real Madrid to the Champions League semi-finals

 Roy Keane has heaped praise on his former Manchester United team-mate, Cristiano Ronaldo, calling the Real Madrid star “one of the greatest players ever to play this game”.

Ronaldo has led Madrid back to the Champions League semi-finals, scoring five times over both legs of a 6-3 aggregate win against Bayern Munich.

The Portuguese notched a hat-trick in the quarter-final second leg on Tuesday, becoming the first player in the competition’s history to reach 100 goals.

 “The guy is a genius, it’s a simple as that,” Keane said on ITV. “You are talking about one of the greatest players ever to play this game. He is a joy to watch.”

It’s been another prolific campaign for Ronaldo, who has recorded 31 goals and 11 assists in all competitions for Los Blancos.

He already has helped the club claim the UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup this term, and Madrid also find themselves sitting atop La Liga with seven matches remaining.

“We keep talking about how hard it is to score goals,” Keane added. “You look at his stats every season… the goals, the assists — the guy is a genius.”