Millwall’s win in Saturday’s FA Cup fifth-round contest over Luton Town made news for reasons good and bad.
There was big drama around this one all along. Millwall participates in England’s second tier; Luton Town resides for now in England’s fifth tier, somewhere between a fully professional and an amateur team.
As such, many were keeping fingers crossed for yet another upset. Luton was striving to become the first non-league team – that is, a team not currently in one of England’s four Football League top tiers – to reach the FA Cup sixth round in 99 years. Queens Park Rangers was the last to do so, way back in 1914.
Luton made a little history along the way as the first non-league team to beat a club from England’s top division in FA Cup action in 24 years, getting by Norwich City in the fourth round last month.
But the dreams died as the bigger club won, with Millwall running out a comfortable 3-0 win, advancing into the final eight of England’s storied all-comers competition.
The bad memories?
There was trouble, although nothing like the violence around the previous meeting of these clubs, back during a very different time in the game, back in 1985. Police were prepared this time with a massive presence as a deterrent. Officers from six policing bodies combined to ensure security.
Good thing, too. Who knows how this might have spun out of control had police not be wisely apportioned.
As it was, police reported a “a short stand-off” between opposing fans and seven arrests following Saturday’s contest.
Leicester City’s UEFA Champions League campaign may have ended without a trophy, but the Premier League side pipped the European champions in the bank account.
UEFA announced on Friday that Leicester City earned $96,167,125 during the Champions League run that ended in the quarterfinals, the farthest of any Premier League club. Real Madrid, the back-to-back champions, earned a slightly less $95,385,679. Much of the difference comes from TV rights deals in England, which pays out more to teams compared to the TV rights deal in Spain.
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Juventus, the Italian giant, earned the most of any club in last year’s Champions League, making a whopping $129,965,357, mostly thanks to the TV rights again.
Dare to Zlatan? It could be only a couple of months away.
That’s according to Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, who said the veteran striker could return from his torn ACL before the end of the calendar year.
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“Zlatan is here, he’s working here and under our control,” Mourinho told reporters. “He’s working as you would expect so, so, so hard. But he’s not to be back in the next week or next couple of weeks. Do I believe he’ll be back in 2017? Yes, I do. But it’s just a feeling.”
The big Swede scored 28 goals for Man United last year in all competitions, proving that he’s still got it at the age of 36, but it’s going to be tough for him to find his old form coming off an ACL injury at such an old age. After suffering the injury last April, it’s been a long road to recovery for Ibrahimovic.
However, with the play of Romelu Lukaku up top, Ibrahimovic would only play from time to time, which could help in his recovery both from the knee injury and just the general recovery between games.
Brazilian National Team coach Tite has decided on calling up a full-strength squad for November’s upcoming friendly matches in Europe, including four Manchester City players in his 25-man squad.
Gabriel Jesus, Fernandinho, Danilo and Ederson all made the squad as Tite looks to develop more chemistry among his side ahead of the 2018 World Cup, which Brazil breezed into after Tite took over in 2016.
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Luckily for Manchester City and the other European-based players in the squad, Brazil’s friendly matches will be played in Western Europe. The Selecao first faces Japan in Lille, France on November 10 before taking on England at Wembley Stadium on November 14.
The call-ups may be a tough pill for Guardiola to swallow though. As of Friday, Manchester City has 17 games remaining in the calendar year, and surely he would prefer for some of his starters to get a two-week break in November to preserve some energy instead of play in friendly matches.
On a night when UEFA unveiled a new campaign for respect, there wasn’t enough of it shown both on and off the field.
Everton has followed up on UEFA opening up disciplinary proceedings against them by banning a fan from Everton matches after the fan was seen to punch at an Olympique Lyon player in the second half of Lyon’s 2-1 win at Goodison Park.
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“Club Officials have reviewed the footage of an incident that occurred in the 64th minute of the game against Olympique Lyonnais where supporters towards the front of the lower Gwladys Street End became involved in a confrontation between players,” Everton said in a statement. “We have identified one individual whom action will now be taken against. This will include a ban from attending future Everton fixtures and the Club registering a formal complaint with Merseyside Police.”
The video below shows a fan – amazingly, holding onto a small boy in one arm – throwing some punches at Lyon players after a fracas on the field.
The punch and ban is yet another dark moment for Everton, which has just one point from its first three Europa League matches and sits in 16th place in the Premier League with eight points from eight games.