Until Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona teams recently won two European titles, the teams Dutch legend Johan Cruyff assembled in the late 1980s and early 1990s were held alone at Barça’s standard for greatness. According to Cruyff, speaking today at Carles Puyol’s retirement, the defensive linchpin for Barça’s recent standard bearers would have easily fit with his own European Cup winner.
Cruyff’s teams were the first to leverage the production of Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy, producing talents like Guardiola, José Mari Bakero and Txiki Begiristain to combine with the likes of Romário. Hristo Stoichkov, and Michael Laudrup. The club won four consecutive league titles starting in 1991 and also claimed the 1992 European Cup.
According to the team’s coach, Puyol — a six-time league-winner and three-time European champion — would have had no problem having an impact in another of Barcelona’s legendary squads.
“I’m sure Puyol could have played for the Dream Team,” Cruyff said on Thursday, according to AS.com.
Had he played in Barcelona’s 1992 team, Puyol would have likely started next to former Cruyff teammate Ronald Koeman, whose extra time free kick at Wembley delivered the 1992 European Cup to Barcelona. He would have also been next to a young Albert Ferrer, who went on to make over 200 league appearances for the club.
At 35, however, Puyol was a teenager when the Dream Team was collecting trophies – an age that leaves him only 35 at retirement. According to Cruyff, the World Cup-winner still has a lot to give the game.
“[Puyol’s] life isn’t going to stop, he’s 35 – he’s got many years ahead of him and he has so much knowledge to share.”
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) Argentine soccer superstar Lionel Messi left the field with a back injury in the second half of a 1-0 victory over Honduras in a friendly Friday night.
The Argentine team captain and Barcelona star was hit on an apparently inconsequential play and immediately went to the locker room. He was replaced at the 62-minute mark by Sevilla midfielder Ever Banega and never returned to the field.
“Messi suffered a trauma to the left side of his lower back and rib cage,” the Argentine Football (Soccer) Association said in a statement, adding that doctors were looking at the injury.
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Messi is not a player who leaves the field with minor injuries like he did Friday at San Juan’s Bicentenario stadium.
“I would not dare to venture a diagnosis,” said a concerned Argentine manager, Gerardo Martino.
Gonzalo Higuain, who scored for Argentina, said it “was an important win and here’s hoping that what happened to Leo is nothing.”
Messi was scheduled to fly to Spain to resolve a tax issue and then rejoin the team in Santa Clara, California.
Mohamed Diame was the hero on the day for Hull City, as the Tigers gain promotion to the Premier League next season.
The Senegalese attacker sent Sheffield Wednesday packing on Saturday afternoon at Wembley Stadium after hitting a scorching long-distance effort past goalkeeper Kieren Westwood in the second half.
After an initial back-and-forth spell of chances over the opening half hour-plus, Sheffield was drastically taken out of the match as Hull began to gain their composure on the ball.
Hull City will join Championship winners Burnley and Middlesbrough in the Premier League in 2016-17 after being promoted. Relegated clubs Newcastle, Norwich City and Aston Villa will take their place in England’s second flight.
After their devastating defeat two seasons ago, Atletico Madrid looks for revenge and their first UEFA Champions League title on Saturday against Real Madrid.
Milan will be the site for the action, as Zinedine Zidane and Real are seeking their 11th title in the competition and have the opportunity to knock Atleti out in the title match for the second time in three seasons.
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Real Madrid: Navas, Marcelo, Ramos, Pepe, Carvajal, Casemiro, Kroos, Modric, Ronaldo, Bale, Benzema Subs: Casilla, James, Nacho, Lucas Vasquez, Jese, Isco, Danilo
Atletico Madrid: Oblak; Filipe Luis, Godin, Savic, Juanfran; Gabi, Fernandez, Koke, Saul Niguez; Griezmann, Torres. Subs: Moya, Tiago, Correa, Hernandez, Thomas, Ferreira-Carrasco, Gimenez.
With Atlanta United FC set to make their MLS debut in 2017, the club is reportedly set to make a major splash with one or possibly two Mexican stars.
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ESPN FC‘s John Sutcliffe reported from the team’s future home, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, on Friday, saying that the team is targeting both Andres Guardado and Carlos Vela.
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Guardado, who currently plays for PSV Eindhoven, has long been a staple of the El Tri midfield, making 124 appearances for the Mexican national team.
While Vela wasn’t included in Mexico’s Copa America Centenario roster, the Real Sociedad striker has every bit of talent you’d want from a future Designated Player, which is likely what either Guardado or Vela would be.
Atlanta currently has three players on their roster. Greek goalkeeper Alexandros Tabakis, Junior Burgos and Jeffery Otoo currently round out the squad.
The potential addition(s) of an Andres Guardado or Carlos Vela would prove to be not only big for Atlanta but for MLS as a whole, more so with Vela though. MLS’ growth over recent years has brought young DPs like Sebastian Giovinco and Giovani Dos Santos to Toronto FC and the LA Galaxy, respectively.
Another league addition who is in the prime of their career will only continue to build the league’s reputation, and immediately put Atlanta on the map next season.