Jose Mourinho: “The best team won” but Chelsea has “no chance” of title

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LIVERPOOL — Three minutes from the end of Chelsea’s 2-0 win away at Liverpool on Sunday, Blues boss Jose Mourinho threw his arms into the air time and time again towards the 3,000 Chelsea fans stationed at the Anfield Road end of the stadium.

That whipped the Blues faithful into a frenzy. His ultra-defensive tactics frustrated Premier League leaders Liverpool as the title race took yet another dramatic twist as Mourinho’s ‘B squad’ prevailed with several starters out injured.

(MORE: Three things we learned from Liverpool vs. Chelsea)

Chelsea have now not lost to any of the current top four, beating Liverpool and Manchester City home and away, defeating Arsenal at home and drawing with them away at the Emirates. Five wins from six against the teams around you at the summit would usually clinch you the title, yet slip ups to teams at the wrong end of the table have cost Mourinho’s men dear. Asked what he thought about his sides display, which included time-wasting from the first minute and a negative outlook as he set up his side for the draw, this is what the 50-year-old Portuguese had to say.

“The best team won,” Mourinho said. “The team that deserved to win won. Simple. That is my opinion.”

Pushed further to unravel his sides defense approach, which saw the Blues control just 27 percent of possession and played with almost six at the back, Mourinho played dumb before praising his sides nous to record their league-high 17th clean sheet of the season.

“Defensive display? I am a bit confused with what the media thinks about defensive displays,” Mourinho said. “When a team defends well, you call it a defensive display, when you let in two or three goals, sometimes it is still a good defensive display. The team played brilliantly. Every player was magnificent. No mistakes. Zonal play, which is more difficult than man marking. Covering spaces, covering the man. It was a fantastic performance by my players.”

(MORE: Liverpool 0-2 Chelsea – Blues stun leaders after Gerrard’s blunder)

Chelsea are now well and truly back in the title race, as they sit on 78 points with two games to go, while Liverpool have 80 points and Manchester City will also be on 80 if they win their games in hand. All it takes is one slip up from Liverpool or City to let Chelsea back in, but Mourinho isn’t buying it. Not at all.

“We have no chance,” Mourinho said. “We were waiting for this match to be the title match. We were speaking about this match to be the title match for a long time, for some reason this match didn’t become the title match. Today was three important points, we need one more to finish third, then we will be in the Champions League automatically.”

The ‘Special One’ then reveled in the fact that whichever team wins the title — in his mind it is either Liverpool or City — both lost home and away to his Chelsea side.

Small victories, Jose. Yet could his latest win give Chelsea a fighting chance of lifting the PL title? Let’s wait and see.

“We won both matches against Liverpool and we won both matches against Manchester City,” Mourinho said. “It doesn’t matter who wins the title. We won both matches against the champion.”

Report: FIFA president Infantino in hot water

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The more things at FIFA change, the more they stay the same.

According to a bombshell report from The Guardian, FIFA president Gianni Infantino was under investigation by the FIFA Ethics Committee before the president disbanded the committee in May. The report states that Infantino spent around $1.16 million on his election campaign, despite declaring publicly he had only spent around $583,000 on flights around the world to meet with national FA presidents.

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The report claims Infantino was also being investigated by then committee chairman Cornel Borbely over whether he influenced the election of a new president in the Confederation of African Federations, or CAF.

FIFA rules state that presidential candidates must declare campaign expenditures publicly.

The latest bad press on FIFA follows the arrest of Spanish Football Federation president and UEFA vice president Angel Maria Villar and his son among other national and regional officials on charges of corruption and improper management.

Villar appeared in court on Thursday, and a judge denied he and his son bail.

Transfer Rumor Wrap: Liverpool rejects Barca bid for Coutinho, Roma offer for Mahrez turned down

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Liverpool isn’t planning on cashing in on one of the Premier League’s stars this summer.

Jurgen Klopp and Co. gave Barcelona a resolute “no” after Barcelona submitted a transfer bid of more than $93 million for Philippe Coutinho. Coutinho signed a new five-year contract with the club in January.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

“The main thing I think about is how we can make the next step with the players we had last season,” Klopp told reporters in Hong Kong earlier this week. “The good news is that actually we didn’t lose – and we will not lose – a player we want to keep this summer. That’s the best news actually and then we’ll see who can bring into the squad.”

Coutinho signed for Liverpool in 2013 but had a breakout year in 2015-2016, earning the PFA Young Player of the Year. Last year Coutinho became an even more consistent goal-scorer and playmaker, scoring 13 goals with seven assists in 34 Premier League appearances.

Keeping Coutinho is of supreme importance for Liverpool, which is back in the UEFA Champions League for the first time since the 2014-2015 season.

(more…)

La Liga releases schedule: First El Clasico coming in December

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It’s Christmas in July for fans of La Liga Friday as the Spanish league published its schedule for the upcoming season.

Defending champions Real Madrid travel to Deportivo La Caruña on August 20, the opening match of the season while its rival Barcelona hosts Real Betis.

As it’s La Liga, the first date most fans searched for was the first El Clasico of the season, and the biennial battles between Real Madrid and Barcelona will take place on December 20 and May 6, with Real Madrid hosting the first match.

The first match comes just ahead of the Spanish winter break, while the second match comes at a busy period at the end of the season, where both teams will be hoping to still be competing in the UEFA Champions League.

Other interesting matches to keep an eye on in the first few weeks of the season include Real Madrid hosting Valencia in week two, the Barcelona derby between Barca and Espanyol in week three and Atletico Madrid taking on Sevilla in week six.

Here’s a look at this year’s La Liga schedule.

Conte: Costa “situation was very clear” in January

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At this point, there is no doubt Diego Costa‘s future lies away from London and Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte broke his silence on the Brazilian-born Spain international striker, saying he’s been ready to move on from Costa since January, when Costa and Conte had a disagreement following a big-money offer from Chinese club Tianjin Quanjian during the winter transfer window.

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“I don’t like to talk about players who are not here but the only thing I can tell you [is that] in January, the Costa situation was very clear, for the club for him and his agent,” Conte told reporters Friday. “For me the situation is closed.”

It’s an amazing turn of events after Costa scored 20 Premier League goals in Chelsea’s title-winning 2016-2017 season, including 14 goals through the end of December. But after falling out with Jose Mourinho a year earlier, the same issue happened again under Conte, with Costa proving much less effective down the stretch.

But Conte and Costa were able to put their differences aside on the field, photographed multiple times hugging after wins, as well as after winning the title.

Costa is reportedly now agitating for a move back to his former club Atletico Madrid, but the Spanish club’s transfer ban until the next window complicates matters. In a World Cup year, would Costa be willing to sit out half a season just to leave Chelsea?

If Costa’s time in the Premier League is up, he’ll go down as one of the league’s best pound-for-pound goalscorers. He scored 52 goals in 89 Premier League appearances, with seven more cup goals in his three-year spell at Chelsea.

And if he is gone, defenders across the Premier League will sure be happy to wave goodbye.