Champions League fatigue? Ronaldo, Messi, others to be rested this weekend

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Some of the world’s biggest stars may be seen on the bench, or up in the director’s box, for this weekend’s league matches.

Coaches for Juventus and Barcelona on Friday announced that Cristiano Ronaldo and the veteran trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Gerard Pique will all be rested for their team’s next matches. Juventus will rest Blaise Matuidi as well, and it remains to be seen whether Liverpool and Manchester City will rest players ahead of their UEFA Champions League clashes next week.

[MLS Preview: Week 7]

Juventus visit SPAL on Saturday before returning home to face Ajax on Tuesday in the second leg of their Champions League tie, which is currently at 1-1 on aggregate. Barcelona meanwhile visits Huesca before hosting Manchester United on Tuesday as well. Barcelona holds a one-goal advantage.

Tottenham confirm Kane suffered ‘significant’ ankle ligament injury

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For the second time this calendar year, Tottenham are set to be without captain and talisman Harry Kane for an extend period of time.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

On Thursday, the club announced in a statement that Kane suffered “significant lateral ligament injury to his left ankle,” during Tottenham’s 1-0 win over Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals on Tuesday. Tottenham also stated that they will continue to assess Kane before announcing a timetable for his return.

In a similar injury to his left ankle in January, Kane wound up missing five weeks, returning faster than expected.

Ultimately, even if Kane misses another five weeks, it would leave Spurs without their star for the return leg at Manchester City, as well as the stretch run in the Premier League. There’s only a month left of matches in the league, which means Kane could miss the rest of the season as Tottenham looks to remain in the top four. It’s the latest bit of drama in a drama-filled Premier League season.

In addition to the announcement about Kane, Tottenham stated that Dele Alli suffered a broken left hand. However, they’re still assessing his hand to see if he can be available to play against Huddersfield Town on Saturday.

Ironically, even without Kane and Alli in January, Tottenham had a decent run of results, as Heung-Min Son turned into a goal-scoring machine. Manager Mauricio Pochettino will be relying on Son even more down the stretch.

Spurs defender Danny Rose slams lack of action on racism

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Tottenham Hotspur defender Danny Rose launched a scathing attack on the executives and authorities in world soccer, believing that racism should have been booted from the game by now and saying those in power have done far too little to prevent the incidents that dot the landscape today.

Rose was the victim of racist chants last week during a game in Montenegro while on international duty with England, and he says the punishments are far too weak.

“A country can only get fined a little bit of money for being racist, it’s a bit of a farce isn’t it?” Rose said. “I’ve had enough.”

The abuse has become so bad that Rose is looking forward to his retirement, excited for the day he can fade back into anonymity and not be subject to the vile taunts. “I think I’ve got five or six more years left in football, and I just can’t wait to see the back of it.”

“Seeing how things are done in the game at the minute, you just have to get on with it. There is so much politics in football. I can’t wait to see the back of it.”

Despite prevalent incidents all over the world, players subject to racist abuse – and their teammates and coaches – are still forced to plead with authorities both during and after matches for something to be done. Often, those involved are forced to insist the incidents actually took place, with many denying they happened. Montenegro head coach Ljubisa Tumbakovic claimed after the match that he did not “hear or notice” any racist abuse, which forced both Rose and England boss Gareth Southgate to retort by saying, “there’s no doubt in my mind it happened.”

It also leaves coaches like Southgate in a difficult position, feeling the need to take a stand but also not wanting to potentially harm the team. “Gareth Southgate was a bit upset after the game because it was the first time he’d been involved in something like that,” Rose said. “He didn’t know what the right course of action was. He said he was fully behind me if I wanted to walk off. I appreciate that, but I just wanted to get the three points and get out of there as quickly as possible.”

Rose wasn’t done calling out the authorities who failed to prevent such a situation. “Obviously it is sad that I had to prepare for that, but when countries only get fined what I probably spend on a night out in London then what do you expect?”

UEFA charged Montenegro for the abuse during the England match, and a disciplinary hearing will take place on May 16.

Report: Could Kane become an NFL kicker? “That’s real.”

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It’s no secret that Harry Kane is a massive American gridiron football fan. But apparently for Kane his dreams go beyond just fandom.

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In an interview with ESPN, Kane confirmed that he does have a goal of one day putting on the pads and kicking for an NFL team, much like many European-born kickers or kickers with soccer backgrounds have done. Former Tottenham forward Clive Allen kicked for the London Monarchs in NFL Europe and Sebastian Janikowski emigrated to the U.S. from Poland. In another famous example, former FC Dallas goalkeeper and U.S. youth international Josh Lambo is the current starting placekicker for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Almost any time that an NFL team has come to London and trained at Tottenham’s training ground, or that Tottenham has come to the U.S., Kane has found a way to get some kicks up.

In addition, while rehabbing his ankle injury, Kane attended the 2019 Superbowl, and reportedly even made it into the team party afterwards, invited by Tom Brady. In the report, Kane said he’s admired Brady for years and sees some of himself in Brady, someone who was overlooked as a youngster and someone who no one thought could become a legend in the sport.

“It goes back to that drive to be the best. Even if I download a game on my phone, can I be the best in the world?” Kane told ESPN. “If you play in the Premier League and the World Cup and you then play in the NFL,” he wonders, “would you then be considered one of the greatest sportsmen ever?”

Kane revealed that he could potentially spend a year or two at the end of his professional soccer career in MLS, though it would be interesting to see if he could live up to expectations and keep the physical capacity the way Wayne Rooney has at this point in his career. Either way, after that, Kane could transition into an NFL kicker, if a team was interested. It could set a new path for more former pro soccer players to become kickers, though the skills involved are very specialized.

Could Bale have a future at Real Madrid?

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It’s hardly a secret that Zinedine Zidane and Gareth Bale didn’t exactly see eye to eye by the end of last season, shortly before Zidane’s departure.

Now with Zidane back, questions are being asked, could Bale be allowed to leave, or offered to clubs at a cut-rate fee? If Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett is correct, the Welshman isn’t going anywhere.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

In an interview with the BBC, Barnett said that despite some of the optics, Bale is actually happy in Madrid. He also said that Bale wants to stay in Madrid, despite the return of Zidane earlier this week to managing the side.

“Yes, why not?,” Barnett told the BBC. “He wants to play all his career for Real Madrid and if it does not work out, we will talk again. He will talk with Mr Zidane, take it from there and then see at the end of the season.”

Zidane’s frustrations with Bale began due to Bale’s extensive injuries, especially when he tried to rush back from them too soon, according to Spanish publication AS. After limping off with another calf injury in April 2016, Bale didn’t play again until the UEFA Champions League final that year, nearly two months later.

Bale was further marginalized as Zidane went away from the 4-3-3 with Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo in favor of a more balanced 4-4-2, with left Bale on the bench. But Bale was still struggling with injuries and even when starting, he wasn’t able to live up to expectations in terms of goals scored or assists created.

In a separate report on the BBC from Spanish football journalist Guillem Balague, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy offered to sign Bale on a one-year loan move, but having not offered to take enough of Bale’s massive salary on-board, the offer never officially made its way to Real Madrid. In addition, with Zidane (and Ronaldo) gone, Bale had a chance to prove himself and the doubters wrong.

Unfortunately for him, it’s been another forgettable season with Los Blancos. The 29-year-old Welshman has just 10 goals in 28 games between La Liga and the UEFA Champions League, as Real Madrid looks set to miss out on a domestic or European title for the first time in many years.

If Bale is to depart Real Madrid for a fresh new start, he’ll have to take a drastic pay cut. However, he could become a regular starter for just about any Premier League team. If Bale however would rather stay at Madrid, he can enjoy earning some huge money, but he’ll continue to play a side role instead of be the main man.