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Jose Mourinho and Andre Villas-Boas “not friends” as Tottenham vs. Chelsea looms

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It has been a relationship that has spanned three different clubs, in three different countries for almost 10 years.

But now, it’s all but over.

“I don’t lose any sleep,” Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas said. “We had a great personal and professional relationship before. We don’t have that now.”

As for Jose Mourinho, the Chelsea boss shrugged of questions about his relationship with AVB ahead of Saturday’s crunch clash (7:45am ET, live on NBCSN and online via NBC Sports Live Extra) but insinuated that Spurs’ manager had been childish.

“I don’t discuss this with the media. It’s a personal thing. I don’t care what he says. I’m not here to do that. I’m not interested,” Mourinho said. “I am not a kid – if I have a problem with someone I go upstairs, we speak and we have lunch.”

(MORE: Preview – Tottenham Hotspur vs. Chelsea)

So, just how did two coaches, who many believe are so alike in terms of style, tactics, personality and upbringing, drift so far apart after working together for many years?

It’s certainly a head scratcher. But somewhere along the line there came an impasse, where Mourinho went one way and AVB went the other.

source: Getty Images
Jose Mourinho vs. Andre Villas-Boas… who will come out on top?

The latter believed his expertise was enough to be Mourinho’s assistant manger instead of a scout and coach, which was the role he worked in for the ‘Special One’ at FC Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan. But it was after Inter’s Champions League win of 2010, that AVB decided enough was enough and went out into the managerial wilderness on his own.

In his first season as a manager Villas-Boas went unbeaten with Porto, winning the Portuguese League, Cup and Europa League, before getting the Chelsea job. That didn’t go too well, as we know, but over the last 18-months at Tottenham, the 35-year-old Portuguese manager has rekindled the promise many thought had disappeared.

But AVB still refers to his split with Mourinho, from a professional standpoint, as a monumental moment in his own career.

“Our break-up point was because I was full of ambition to give him something extra and I wanted further involvement from the job I was doing at that time,” AVB said. “I felt I could give him much more. But he didn’t feel the need for somebody near to him or in another position as an assistant, and because of that it was decided that it was time, after Inter Milan, to continue our careers apart.”

Mourinho spent the last three seasons at Real Madrid, winning La Liga once and failing in the Champions League, and his path and that of Villas-Boas’ never crossed… until now. The two fiery Portuguese coaches, who were once so close, are now enemies as both Tottenham and Chelsea aim to challenge for the Premier League title this season.

Everything is set up for a tremendous battle on the pitch at White Hart Lane on Saturday. But plenty of people will be keeping an eye on two old friends in the technical area, as the master and his apprentice do battle for the very first time.

Statement from suspended UEFA president Michel Platini

Michel Platini, UEFA & FIFA
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Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:

Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.

I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.

Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.

I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.

I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.

EURO 2016: Ireland shock Germany, Northern Ireland qualify

Shane Long, Ireland
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A recap of Thursday’s action in 2016 European Championship qualifying:

Ireland 1-0 Germany

Southampton striker Shane Long scored the goal that knocked off the defending world champions and pushed Ireland one step closer to next summer’s European Championship in France. Long, who entered the game in the 65th minute, latched onto Darren Randolph‘s ball over the top in the 70th minute, took one touch to settle and fired for the far post, beating Manuel Neuer for the game’s only goal.

With one game still to play, Ireland (18 points) sit third in Group D, level on points with Sunday’s opponent Poland. While the winner of Sunday’s clash could leapfrog Germany (19), they will more likely finish second in the group and qualify automatically. A draw on Sunday could still see both sides qualify automatically through the ranking of third-place finishers (the top third-place finishers from group play earns an automatic berth at EURO 2016).

Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece

Norther Ireland (20 points) topped Greece (3), 3-1 on Thursday to officially book their place at EURO 2016. Steven Davis scored twice and Josh Magennis added the third for Michael O’Neill’s side.

With one game still to play (Sunday, at Finland), Northern Ireland can finish no lower than second. A draw against Finland, or any points dropped by Romania (17) would see Northern Ireland finish top of Group F.

Portugal 1-0 Denmark

Joao Moutinho scored the only goal of the game to secure Portugal’s (18 points from just seven games) place at next summer’s tournament. The defeat sees Denmark remain second in Group I, a point ahead of third-place Albania, who lost to Serbia on Thursday. Having played all eight of their group games, Denmark can go no higher than 12 points, meaning they would fail to qualify if Albania beat Armenia on Sunday. A draw between Albania and Armenia would see Denmark qualify based on tiebreakers.

Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying action

Group D

Scotland 2-2 Poland
Georgia 4-0 Gibraltar

Group F

Hungary 2-1 Faroe Islands
Romania 1-1 Finland

Group I

Albania 0-2 Serbia