Xabi Alonso has announced that he is retiring from the Spanish National Team, according to Reuters.
The defensive midfielder, who has enjoyed a sparkling career for the national side that spans 11 years and 114 caps, was a crucial part to Spain’s ‘Golden Age’ that redefined modern football with their tiki-taka style.
“I quit the Spanish National Team,” the 32-year-old said in a statement on the Spanish football team’s official website (www.sefutbol.com).
“The hardest thing is knowing when to say goodbye, and after thinking about it, I think that my time with the National squad has come to an end. It has been a glorious period with the Spanish team that started more than 11 years ago, I have formed part of an historical generation that has fulfilled the dreams of millions of fans.”
Despite a disheartening end to his international career at this summer’s World Cup in Brazil, Alonso departs La Furia Roja with his head held high after lead roles securing two European Championship titles and one World Cup. One of the finest defensive midfielders to ever play the game, his flavor was equal parts destroyer and tactician. Rarely does such a player come along to an international side and for it to coincide with his country’s rise to glory should be considered justice.
With his international legacy secured Alonso will now focus his game on club football. With the departure of the man known affectionately as ‘Red Beard’, the defensive midfield role for Spain will be carried on by Sergio Busquets and Asier Illarramendi while Ignacio Camacho and Benat will also compete.
Italy took a 1-0 lead over Azerbaijan through the in-form Eder in the 11th minute, but the true leg-work (see what I did there) came from bite-sized midfielder Marco Verratti.
The PSG playmaker pinged a beautiful long ball over the top of the Azerbaijan defense that fell right at the feet of Eder, who let the ball settle itself and touched home confidently past Kamran Arhayev for a 1-0 lead.
The goal is the second of Eder’s national career in just five caps, having scored on debut against Bulgaria back in March. He has six goals in seven matches for Sampdoria so far this Serie A season.
Italy needs three points in this match to ensure qualification to Euro 2016. A win would guarantee them a place in the field, while anything less would mean there is work to do in the final match on Tuesday against Norway.
Later in the match, Stephan El Shaarawy gave Italy a 2-1 lead just before halftime, his second career international goal and his first since September of 2012 which came in his third career start.
As soon as Brendan Rodgers was dismissed by Liverpool on Sunday, Jurgen Klopp’s name was tossed around as the likely successor to the then-vacant Liverpool managerial position.
However, according to Klopp’s representatve Marc Kosicke, Liverpool did not make contact with the German until after Rodgers had been officially let go.
“The first call from Liverpool came after the dismissal as coach of Rodgers,” Kosicke told Bild. “Before Liverpool there were naturally quite a few inquiries. But Jurgen always asked me not to take it any further.”
Club management was less committal than Klopp’s rep, but did say they had their eye on the German for some time. “We have learned to keep certain matters confidential. We had a meeting recently with Jurgen that he has talked about and I don’t want to talk too much about these conversations. But we have thought about him for a long time and everyone who knows football knows he is an outstanding manager.”
It’s relatively hard to believe Liverpool would have canned Rodgers without knowing for sure that a top-level target such as Klopp or Carlo Ancelotti were on board to replace him. It also would mean discussions of the contract terms and logistics would have moved at lightning speed, with just four days between the Rodgers dismissal and Klopp’s official unveiling.