Daily Archives: March 24, 2017

Buffon considering headbutt end to international career

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Gianluigi Buffon has joked that he may consider headbutting another player as a wowing end to his illustrious international career with Italy.

Buffon, 39, will play his 1000th senior game when he takes to the pitch against Albania in the World Cup qualifiers. It will also be his 168th Italy game, making him the most capped European player — above Spain’s Iker Casillas and Latvian Vitalijs Astafjevs, although he still needs another 17 caps to break the 184-appearance world record of former Egypt midfielder Ahmed Hassan.

“How do I imagine my last ever game?” Buffon considered when the question was put to him after the press conference for the qualifier.

“Maybe I’ll go out like Zidane, headbutting someone on the pitch!” was his jesting reply, referring to former French star Zinedine Zidane’s infamous headbutt of Buffon’s compatriot Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup final.

In the press conference at Coverciano, the captain for the Azzurri was also asked if he will be keeping to his previous intentions of retiring after the 2018 World Cup.

“I don’t know, now I just have to think about the upcoming games,” Buffon shrugged.”

“For the rest we’ll see, in life have objectives. It’s important to win, when you win big there’s a risk of being burned, we’ll think about things calmly, with no certainty of what will happen.

“The 1000 games? It’s a huge pleasure, I can tell you there won’t be another thousand!”

“But before I think about how I’ll end my career, we need to go to the World Cup in Russia in 2018. Maybe it [my last game] could be at the World Cup.”

“I still have some time to think about it though.”

Gareth Southgate: England the better side against Germany

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Gareth Southgate said his players should not be disheartened by their 1-0 friendly defeat against Germany, arguing they had been the better side for the majority of the match.

Retiring German international Lukas Podolski, given a hero’s reception before, during and after the game, scored the decisive goal with a powerful left-footed drive from outside the area after 69 minutes.

Podolski’s contribution would end Southgate’s night in disappointment because, in his own words, he has “never been someone overly pleased in defeat”.

However, he believed that the performance of his team in a new 3-4-3 system was encouraging, saying he could take a lot of confidence into Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Lithuania at Wembley.

England were certainly not starved of opportunities either, as Adam Lallana struck a post and Dele Alli saw a shot blocked at point-blank range by Germany keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the first half.

“It is never nice to lose and I am not someone who is overly pleased in defeat but I have to be really pleased with the way my players have played individually and in terms of the tactical system,” Southgate said.

“The way that worked and their ability to adapt quickly was excellent and, until the goal, I thought we were the better side.”

“I am very pleased with what we learned, the manner of the performance and the only bit we missed was the finish. We should have had the game won but I am very pleased with what we did.”

Brazil in control after Paulinho treble against Uruguay

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Brazil is inches away from making it into the 2018 World Cup after a huge 4-1 away win against Uruguay, their closest rivals in the CONMEBOL qualifying table.

The top two teams met at the Estadio Centenario only for Uruguay to be awarded a penalty on nine minutes, when Alisson took down Edinson Cavani after the PSG striker had beaten the Brazil keeper to a chested back-pass from left-back Marcelo.

Cavani converted by powering his shot low and to the right of Alisson to give the home side a 1-0 advantage.

But Brazil responded well, and Paulinho scored the first of his goals to put Brazil level in the 19th minute — the former Tottenham player fired home from distance after picking up the ball unmarked.

After the break, Paulinho put Brazil in front by pouncing on the rebound of a Roberto Firmino shot and punching home from close range for his third goal in as many games for his country.

The game was Brazil’s as Neymar sealed the game with Brazil’s third in the 75th minute. The Barcelona superstar raced onto a lobbed through ball behind the defence and made an easy chip over goalkeeper Martin Silva who’d come out from his line.

As Paulinho added his third just before the final whistle with a close chested finish from a cross, the win puts Brazil, now on 30 points from 13 CONMEBOL matches, just a few steps away from qualifying on top second-placed Uruguay, who have 23.