Daily Archives: December 8, 2017

Wembley to host four additional Euro 2020 group stage matches

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Wembley will host seven games at Euro 2020 after UEFA handed the stadium an additional four matches that was previously scheduled for Brussels.

Euro 2020 is poised to be staged across 12 countries as former UEFA president Michel Platini’s idea of a one-off gesture to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the tournament.

UEFA had decided to reallocate the three group fixtures and one last-16 game previously given to the Belgian capital due to delays in the building of a 60,000-capacity stadium on the site of Heysel. Belgian authorities failed to provide guarantees the stadium would be ready.

Speaking in Nyon, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said the decision of UEFA’s executive committee had been unanimous as waiting on Belgium was deemed “high risk”.

“We don’t know if they can build a stadium or not,” Ceferin had added.

In addition to deciding where the first game, on 12 June, will be and what to do about the difficulties in Brussels, the UEFA executive committee has also announced where each of the six groups’ games will be played.

Baku and Rome will host group A, group B games will take place in Copenhagen and St Petersburg, Amsterdam and Bucharest get group C, Glasgow and London will share group D, group E will be staged in Bilbao and Dublin, while group F’s fixtures will be in Budapest and Munich.

The English FA chief executive, Martin Glenn, said: “We are delighted to help UEFA by hosting the additional four matches at Wembley Stadium. It’s an honour to be one of the 12 nations that will play a part in this prestigious Euro for Europe tournament and I would like to thank the UEFA executive committee for giving us the opportunity to stage these games.”

Gattuso continues wait for first win after Milan lose away to Rijeka

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AC Milan boss Gennaro Gattuso says the club’s “shirt deserves respect” after a “burning defeat” by Rijeka as his team concluded their Europa League group stage fixtures with a loss.

Gattuso, 39, has previously managed Sion, Palermo, OFI Crete, Pisa and Milan’s youth team, but was especially unhappy with £33m summer signing Andre Silva, who has yet to score in Serie A.

“He struggled. He looked like a foreign object in the team,” said the former Italian national. “When you have the opportunity to play for 90 minutes wearing AC Milan’s shirt you have to do more.”

Already assured of top spot in Group D, Gattuso made changes, for only his second game in charge, with their Europa League last-32 slot already guaranteed — but he was not impressed.

AC Milan failed to put a single shot on target, with midfielder Manuel Locatelli set to miss the first leg of the round of 32 after picking up a booking.

“I was expecting more, this was a pretty poor show,” he said. “We need to turn things around and a change in mentality. We need more intensity and desire and all these things weren’t there.”

“We needed a win as a morale booster. Sunday’s (Serie A) match against Bologna is now even more important and we can’t make any mistakes.”

Croatian side Rijeka, who were already eliminated, won 2-0 thanks to goals from Jakov Puljic and Mario Gavranovic.

Puljic gave the hosts the lead in the seventh minute by curling in a free kick out of the reach of goalkeeper Marco Storari, while Gavranovic bundled the ball over the line from six yards early in the second half.

“I take full responsibility for the choices I made,” said Gattuso. “I would make them again as we have to play important games every three days. We tried to give some playing time to those who needed it.

“This is how things have been going lately, unfortunately, we concede at the first opportunity. The boys gave it all, trying to play differently, but it wasn’t enough.”

Cristiano Ronaldo wins fifth Ballon d’Or award

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Cristiano Ronaldo won the fifth Ballon d’Or of his career yesterday, matching Lionel Messi as the most-awarded winner of one of football top individual honours.

Ronaldo, 32, won the award for the second consecutive time, after a year that saw him help Real Madrid to a third Champions League crown in four seasons and a first La Liga title in five years, as well as the FIFA Club World Cup.

The Portuguese captain also scored twice as Madrid beat Juventus 4-1 in the Champions League final in June, while also finishing top scorer in the competition with 12 goals.

Upon accepting his latest honour in a ceremony held at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Ronaldo said: “I feel very happy, it’s a fantastic moment in my career, I’ve been waiting for this for a long time.”

“This year has been great, we won the Champions League and La Liga and, on a personal level, I was a top scorer in the Champions League. Trophies help win these awards and we have to thank my colleagues from Madrid and Portugal, it was very important for me.”

FC Barcelona star Lionel Messi was the runner-up in votes for the award, now conducted by a global panel of journalists and organised by France Football magazine after a split from a partnership with FIFA that ran from 2010-15. Ronaldo had also won FIFA’s top award in October when he was named FIFA Best Men’s Player for the second consecutive year.

This year also marked the seventh straight year that both Messi and Ronaldo have finished in the top two for the Ballon d’Or — no one else has won the title since AC Milan midfielder Kaka did in 2007, when Ronaldo was second and Messi third.

Neymar, who moved from Barca to Paris Saint-Germain this summer, finished third for the second time in his career, while Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was fourth.

Two of Ronaldo’s Real Madrid teammates were also in the top-ten of the Ballon d’Or final standings, with Luka Modric fifth and Sergio Ramos sixth as the top defender on the list.