Real Madrid's coach Mourinho gestures during his Spanish First Division soccer match against Malaga in Malaga

Real Madrid’s starting lineup revealed…

Leave a comment

With tonight’s crunch game edging ever closer, lets talk about the team news.

Wait a minute…we don’t have to do that for Real Madrid?

That’s because eccentric/genius/legendary/crazy (delete as appropriate) head coach Jose Mourinho, took the unorthodox step of announcing almost all of Madrid’s starting lineup, the day before the game….

So here it is, thanks to Spanish newspaper Marca. Lopez in goal, a back four from right to left of Ramos, Pepe, Varane and Coentrao, two holding midfielders in Xabi and Khedira and an attacking trio of Özil, Ronaldo and Higuaín.

The only player Mourinho was unsure of was Angel Di María, who became a father yesterday and may miss the tie. But apart from that, Borussia Dortmund know exactly who they’re up against. Mind games from Mourinho? Perhaps. But the biggest notable omission is captain Iker Casillas in goal. After falling out of favor and then getting injured, Casillas finds himself on the bench for the biggest game of the season. And listen to this remarkable stat, out of 24 games away to German opposition, Real Madrid have won once, lost 17 and drawn six times. History is not on their side.

MORE: Preview, Dortmund will not face the same Real Madrid

Also, let’s not forget, Real and Dortmund have already squared off twice in the group stages of this seasons UCL. Dortmund beat Madrid 2-1 at the Westfalenstadion, and were leading by the same score line in the return game at the Santiago Bernabeu, until Mezut Ozil equalized in the last minute to grab a point for Madrid. So Dortmund are the favorites then, right? Not so much. This is a different Real team than they one they faced earlier in the season.

Even though Dortmund impressively won the ‘group of death’ ahead of Madrid, Manchester City and Ajax, they won’t go into this clash with the Spanish giants as the top dogs. The pedigree of Real’s attacking talents will be sending shivers down the spine of Dortmund’s manager, Jürgen Klopp, as we speak.

Yes, Robert Lewandowski and Mario Götze are also capable of similarly breathtaking moments of magic, but can they match Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema, Higuaín, Ozil and Di María blow for blow? No. Expect to see a fired up Madrid come racing out of the traps in the heart of industrial Germany this afternoon.

And what with yesterday’s revelation that Dortmund’s star player, Götze, will be joining Bayern Munich in the summer, Dortmund’s players may be distracted tonight as fans mourn the loss of one of the clubs greatest young talents. The news of Götze’s imminent departure on the eve of their huge UCL semifinal didn’t please Dortmund. But Mourinho isn’t getting involved. “I don’t know Götze, and I don’t know the mentality or the culture of the Dortmund fans, and I don’t know what his teammates are thinking.”

Mourinho playing mind games, not a chance. Wait a minute…

Gerard Pique continues to be booed by Spain supporters

BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 21:  Gerard Pique of FC Barcelona looks down dejected after missing a chance to score during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Malaga CF at Camp Nou on February 21, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Spain secured qualification to EURO 2016 today with a 4-0 win over Luxembourg, but once again a good performance was overshadowed by the rift between fans and Gerard Pique.

The center-back continues to be booed and whistled by his own fans, despite ongoing calls from the manager, players, and Pique himself to stop the jeers.

[ MORE: EURO 2016 roundup ]

The boos started when Pique, who plays for Barcelona, made some joking comments about Real Madrid while celebrating Barca’s treble winning season last year. Ever since then, Pique has been the subject of boos from Real Madrid fans while playing for the national team.

Before the match against Luxembourg, Spanish legend Xavi called for a stop to the antics, saying supporters should put their club allegiances aside when rooting for the national team. However, they paid no attention to one of Spain’s greatest players, as Pique was whistled at throughout the match.

Following the win, Pique was pleased with the result that booked Spain a place in the final tournament, but was still upset over his treatment by his own fans.

I’d like to resolve this situation with the whistling, of course I do but that depends on the fans. I am going to give all I’ve got to do my job. We’ve reached our objective which was to qualify. I think we’re changing the dynamic; the whistling is louder than the applause but we will improve.

I seem to have explained myself a thousand times on this… no one should be in any doubt about me and my commitment; I’ve been with the national side since I was 16. People can take a look through the archives and see everything I have said in the press since I was a kid. You won’t find anything bad, or comments I’ve made against the national team or this country for people to get upset about.

While the rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid is one of the biggest in the world, it shouldn’t carry over into the national side. Pique has made more than 70 appearances for the Spanish team, and started every match at center-back in Spain’s 2010 World Cup run, which was the country’s first major trophy in nearly 50 years. He also played every minute of Spain’s EURO 2012 campaign, which resulted in another title.

[ RELATED: Sergio Aguero suffers torn hamstring playing for Argentina ]

With Spain now into EURO 2016, it’s time for fans to move on and start showing Pique the respect he deserves as one of their most consistent and important players over the past five years.

FIFA presidential election could be postponed

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - MAY 30:  FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter talks to the press during the FIFA Post Congress Week Press Conference at the Home of FIFA on May 30, 2015 in Zurich, Switzerland.  (Photo by Alessandro Della Bella/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

For months now, the footballing world has been waiting for February 26, the date on which the FIFA presidential election is scheduled to take place, which will finally put Sepp Blatter out of power.

However, that election may not take place as scheduled, as FIFA has called an emergency meeting amidst the suspensions of some top officials.

[ RELATED: Klopp introduced as Liverpool boss ]

The emergency meeting will be held on October 15, just a few days before the October 26 deadline for candidates to officially declare their intent to run for the presidency.

On Thursday, FIFA announced bans on multiple executives, including Sepp Blatter, Michel Platini and Chung Mong-joon. Platini has been the odds-on favorite to succeed Blatter as FIFA’s leader, while Mong-joon has also announced he will run for president.

Because of the current investigation and suspension revolving around Platini, he would not be allowed to run for the presidency if the election were to take place as scheduled in February. If the election was pushed back, it would give time for the investigation to come to a conclusion, which could possibly absolve Platini of any wrongdoing and allow him to re-enter the race.

Issa Hayatou, who has been the president of the Confederation of African Football since 1988, is currently serving as the acting FIFA president following Blatter’s suspension, and will preside over the meeting next week.