When a country’s leading scorer returns to the national team fold, that star is going to get a lot of respect.
When that player is the all-time leading scorer for Spain, and won a EURO and a World Cup with the side, well, even more so.
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David Villa is back in Spain camp this week ahead of a massive 2018 World Cup qualifier against Italy, his first time with La Furia Roja since the 2014 World Cup.
Villa has 59 goals in his Spanish career, 15 more than second-place Raul. So when Julen Lopetegui name Villa to the squad, Chelsea and Spain striker Alvaro Morata knew what he had to do with his current squad number.
“The No. 7 belongs to Villa,” Morata is reported to have said.
It’s no small gesture. The No. 7 shirt in Spain is a big deal, and Morata is one of the most important players in the side. It’s a class move from Morata, who is far more critical to Spain’s 2018 World Cup hopes.
Germany’s dismissal from the World Cup came as a shock to many, but one of its players received heavier scrutiny for off-the-field actions.
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Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil appeared in two of the three group stage matches for the Germans in Russia, however, his play was overshadowed by his meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan prior to the start of the tournament.
The meeting between the two caused several German media outlets to criticize Ozil due to the heated relations between the two European nations.
Additionally, Ozil says his brand was affected as well, with various sponsors pulling their support due to the meeting with Erdogan.
The 29-year-old is of Turkish and German descent, which would have made him eligible to represent either country.
Ozil took to Twitter on Sunday to discuss how the ordeal has affected how the media and sponsorship has affected him over the last month.
La Liga champions Barcelona will meet Sevilla in the 2018 Spanish Super Cup in Tangier, Morocco on August 12.
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The Real Federación Española de Fútbol (RFEF) announced the decision on Sunday, as Barca looks to kick off the 2018 season against last year’s Copa Del Rey runners’ up.
Lionel Messi and Co. defeated Sevilla, 5-0, in the 2017/18 Copa Del Rey final, giving the Blaugrana a domestic double for the first time since the 2015/16 campaign.
La Liga play opens up in Spain on August 19, however, the full fixture list will be revealed on Tuesday.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been a major bright spot, as expected, in his debut season in Major League Soccer.
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The LA Galaxy striker recorded a goal and an assist in Saturday’s 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Union, raising his goal tally to 12 on the year — which ranks fourth-best in the league.
At the age of 36, Ibrahimovic has shown he’s more than capable of producing as a veteran, but it raises the question: how amazing would he have been in MLS had he joined sooner?
Following the Galaxy’s win over the Union, Ibrahimovic joked with media, suggesting he could have had the entire country in his hand if he had arrived in the United States sooner.
“They’re lucky I didn’t come 10 years ago,” Ibrahimovic said, “because I would be the president today.”
Chelsea could very be in the market for a goalkeeper over the summer, but Leicester City’s manager insists that their number one isn’t being targeted by the Blues; or at least not yet.
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With the Blues likely set to lose Belgium international Thibaut Courtois to Real Madrid, new manager Maurizio Sarri would have to look elsewhere to solidify the team’s goalkeeping situation.
One player that has drawn significant interest after a strong World Cup performance for Denmark is Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel, who played a big role in the Foxes’ 2015/16 Premier League title.
Although Schmeichel would be a viable replacement for Courtois at Stamford Bridge, Leicester boss Claude Puel says Chelsea hasn’t expressed its interest to this point.
“No, there is no problem with this,” the Frenchman told Sky Sports. “There is a lot of speculation at this moment, it is normal.
“I think he [Ward] can bring more competition to the squad and more possibilities. It is a good thing to have competition between players in the squad to develop desire.
“It gives good focus and concentration.”
The Foxes recently brought in young Liverpool keeper Danny Ward, which raised further questions about the future of Schmeichel at Leicester.