Before Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final, Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero never seemed like a player prone to dirty tackles. But with the Argentinian’s two-footed stab tackle on Chelsea’s David Luiz perhaps that’s a notion we need to rethink.
In the 82nd minute of City’s thrilling 2-1 victory, Aguero and Luiz battled for a 50-50 ball with the Brazilian toppling to the ground and the Argentine following suit. Yet, in mid-air Aguero somehow managed to collect his feet and launch into a deliberate spike job on Luiz’ quad. Video evidence makes it difficult to refute the intent.
The FA can assess a retroactive three-match ban when a referee fails to see an incident. As referee Chris Foy has yet to file his report (which is due later today) it’s unclear whether he saw the tackle. He awarded a free-kick to Chelsea on the play but the infraction may have been whistled for the initial tangle between Aguero and Luiz. If Foy missed Aguero’s stamp, however, the FA has the green light to act.
Even if the FA reviews the incident there are questions as to whether Aguero’s actions will be deemed worthy of a ban. It’s a line that has grown increasingly blurry since last month’s case of Wigan’s Callum McManaman who escaped a ban despite his studs up tackle to the knee of Newcastle’s Massadio Haidara. The unwillingness to penalize McManaman sparked outrage from Newcastle with managing director Derek Llambias declaring: “It is clear from this decision that the current disciplinary procedures are not fit for purpose.” In response, the FA insisted that it cannot re-referee matches and must strike a balance between retrospective bans and undermining the authority of match referees.
After Sunday’s match Luiz explained that if he were Aguero, he would “apologize to everyone” for the poor tackle. But Chelsea’s sel-proclaimed ‘geezah’ doesn’t seem to be taking the incident too seriously, admitting that he didn’t see if it was a bad tackle because it was in delivered to his back side. “Sometimes you can be angry for five seconds and do bad things and you have to say this sometimes,” Luiz said.
“I forgive everyone in my life. People are happy when Aguero is scoring goals, doing things in the game. Many people have said to me this is not me and not good for the football. Many kids see the game, watch the game and want to see good things and not bad things.”
If Aguero is banned he will not miss the FA Cup final but instead would be suspended for City’s upcoming league games against Wigan on Wednesday, Spurs on Sunday and West Ham on April 27th.
WOLFSBURG, Germany (AP) — Midfielder Serge Gnabry scored twice as Werder Bremen moved away from the Bundesliga’s relegation zone with a 2-1 win at fellow struggler Wolfsburg on Friday.
Bremen and Wolfsburg are level on points and two above Hamburger SV, which is in 18th place and in the relegation zone.
It was a fifth defeat in six games for Wolfsburg coach Valerien Ismael, who won the league and cup double as a player with Bremen in 2004.
Gnabry fired the visitors ahead with a deflected shot in the 10th minute and made it 2-0 eight minutes later, controlling the ball with his chest before prodding home on the volley.
Striker Borja Mayoral, who is on loan from Real Madrid, scored with his chest following a Wolfsburg corner as Wolfsburg hit back moments later.
Midfielder Daniel Didavi struck the post with a free kick as Wolfsburg kept pushing for an equalizer.
Two top candidates to replace Claudio Ranieri at Leicester City have reportedly turned down any interest in the job.
Roberto Mancini, the heavy favorite out of the gates after Ranieri’s dismissal, tweeted his support for Ranieri after the news broke. “I am sorry for my friend Ranieri,” Mancini said. “He will be in the history of LCFC, in the hearts of Leicester fans and all football lovers.”
However, the fellow Italian has rebuffed Leicester’s informal advances towards his services. According to Sky Sports, Leicester sent “intermediaries” to “sound out” Mancini’s feelings towards the position, but came back empty-handed. The report states Mancini was turned off to the club after a short and unsuccessful spell there as a player in 2001.
That leaves a host of other names who have been linked to the job, with no clear favorite. One person mentioned was Dutch legend Frank de Boer, who is unemployed after an unusually short stint in charge of Inter Milan. However, De Boer’s agent went public to say he was not ever in the running.
“There is zero possibility that Frank could go to Leicester,” agent Guido Albers told Italian publication Tuttomercatoweb. “I too heard these rumors, but that’s all they are – rumors. I can affirm without doubt that Frank will not become the Leicester City manager. This will 100 per cent not happen.”
Albers explained that De Boer is only interested in joining a club in the offseason, preferring to enter a project with a blank slate rather than joining midseason with particular goals already clearly laid out. With Leicester, it seems De Boer is turned off by the notion of a relegation battle.
All it took was one mistake. Real Sociedad’s Xabi Prieto capitalized, and has La Real once again on the verge of next year’s Champions League.
La Real finished 7th in 2013/14, and 9th in 2015/16, and this year, they’re closer than ever. Preito’s goal on the mistake by Las Palmas goalkeeper Javi Varas gave Real Sociedad the 1-0 road win and has them just a point off a Champions League place.
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That could be even closer next week, as fourth-placed Atletico Madrid has to welcome Barcelona to the Calderon tomorrow, leaving the door open for La Real to make another move next weekend.
The goal down the stretch is not just to win the games they should, but make the teams above them work. La Real has won seven of their last ten matches, but the three losses came to Real Madrid, Villareal, and Sevilla, all teams fighting at the top of the table. They still have chances down the stretch, with matches against Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, and Eibar coming up, with the latter on the docket next weekend.
Antonio Conte has recalled some painful memories to push himself and his players forward despite their commanding lead at the top of the Premier League table.
Chelsea sits eight points clear of Manchester City, and has the chance to go even further in front with many of the top teams off this weekend, but that won’t give the Italian any better sleep at night.
In the 1999/2000 season, Conte was nearing the end of his 13-year Juventus tenure. He’d won three league titles already, plus two league cup trophies and a Champions League title with the Serie A giants. With a comfortable nine point lead after 26 matches, the club became complacent. They would lose four of their final eight matches, collapsing on the final day in the pouring rain, allowing Lazio to come roaring back to win the title.
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“I was captain of the team,” Conte said. “I remember after this game I must go to the European Championships with the national team. I didn’t sleep for six days because it was a shock for me to lose the title.”
Clearly, that still haunts him. “I have experienced this,” Conte continued. “When I continue to repeat that there are 13 games, there are 39 points… there is a long time before we can say we won the title. We must be focused, we must go step by step.”
The Blues host Swansea City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday before a trip to West Ham next weekend. If anyone believes the Chelsea players are complacent holding such a significant lead with 13 matches to go, it’s clear that’s not nearly the case. Anything can happen in three months.