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Barcelona Dumps Xavi And Seeks Replacement

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Sacked Barcelona FC Manager - Xavi Hernandez

When managing Barcelona, failing to win La Liga and European trophies is a sackable offense, as Xavi Hernández just discovered. His reputation as a club legend who’d made over 500 appearances for Barcelona ultimately didn’t save his job.

Xavi announced, after a 5-3 defeat at home to Villarreal in La Liga, that he’ll step down as Barcelona’s manager at the end of the season. Barcelona’s management is considered extremely harsh, and it’s safe to assume that there’s a complex web of bureaucracy behind Xavi’s departure. Especially considering his recent successes at the helm. 

Barcelona was in a terrible position when Xavi took over in 2021 – they languished in ninth place. In his first year, however, Xavi guided the Catalan team to a second-place finish and qualified them for the Champions League. Then, last year, he went one better and led Barcelona to a La Liga title and a Supercopa title, where they defeated Real Madrid.

Pep Guardiola came out in support of Xavi, saying that Barcelona managers are under unbelievable pressure, which can’t be compared to other clubs, even top EPL clubs. Guardiola said, “We can’t compare the pressure in England with the pressure in Spain, in my experience. It’s a thousand times harder there. Six press conferences a week, a lot of games. The pressure you feel in Barcelona isn’t comparable to anywhere else.”

Xavi admitted he didn’t enjoy the pressure and that it negatively affected his performance, stating, “It’s cruel and unpleasant. They make you feel you are worthless every day. Pep told me, Valverde told me, I saw Luis Enrique suffer… We have a problem in terms of demands. You don’t enjoy it… you put your life on the line at every moment. It’s cruel.”

What Led to Xavi Stepping Down?

Barcelona’s La Liga title aspirations are over. With 16 games left, Real Madrid has a 10-point lead over Barcelona, and there’s no hope of chasing them. During this season, Barcelona has conceded 29 goals, which is twice as many as Real Madrid. They’ve also lost three games and recorded five draws, which has left them in fourth place behind Girona and Atlético Madrid.

In addition, Barcelona has had a shaky performance in the 2023/24 Champions League campaign. Despite qualifying first in their group, they lost to Shakhtar Donetsk and Porto. Based on their current form, it doesn’t look like they’ll challenge the top teams, but they should have enough to get past Napoli in their Round-of-16 match-up.

In Barcelona, one poor season is all it takes for your head to be on the chopping block. Truthfully, fans and management have a short-term memory – they only care about your performance this season.

Why Is Barcelona Struggling This Season?

When asked about Barcelona’s lack of success during the post-Villarreal press conference, Xavi said, “It’s the mental and football side. We have to attack more, be more organised… everything generates a drop in confidence and a drop in individual performance. The mental problem comes because we are not doing well on a sporting level.”

Barcelona also has a personnel problem. Two of Xavi’s favorite players, midfielder Sergio Busquets and winger Ousmane Dembélé, have departed. These two stars haven’t been effectively replaced, and Xavi has been unable to sign the players he wants. Not only this but key players like goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen and midfielder Gavi have been out injured, and their replacements haven’t been successful.

Who Will Replace Xavi?

It’ll be difficult to replace a club legend like Xavi. The Barcelona Academy graduate, who played over 500 games for Barcelona, was admired by players and took them to a La Liga title. 

The two front-runners for the job are Jurgen Klopp and Rafa Marquez. Klopp is leaving Liverpool at the end of the year and has achieved fantastic success in the Bundesliga and the EPL. However, Barcelona generally favors coaches who have either played at Barcelona or have inside knowledge of the club. That’s why Rafa Marquez, the current Barcelona B coach who played 163 games for the club, will most likely land the job. Marquez is also an affordable option, which may play a role as Barcelona has hit their La Liga spending limit.

It’ll be interesting to see if a new manager will help Barcelona. It seems like the issues are more related to the players rather than the managerial failings of Xavi. 

A lifelong Liverpool supporter with a passion for storytelling and an unhealthy obsession with Anime, NFTs, and Web3. When not cheering on the Reds or diving into the latest crypto trends, I'm busy crafting engaging content that'll keep you up-to-date on all things sports.

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Euro 2024 Action: Germany vs. Hungary, Croatia vs. Albania, and Scotland vs. Switzerland Review

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UEFA EURO 2024

Scotland vs. Switzerland

Qualification hero Scott McTominay’s deflected shot nearly brought the house down at Cologne Stadium 13 minutes into the game. 

However, a bewildering blind back pass from Anthony Ralston handed Xherdan Shaqiri the chance to sweep a sublime first-time shot high beyond Angus Gunn. 

Kieran Tierney pulled up clutching his hamstring as Dan Ndoye wasted a golden opportunity when through on goal, ruling Tierney out of the Hungary game on Sunday. 

Despite being already depleted in defense, the Scots heroically rallied in the closing stages, with Grant Hanley hitting the post with a header from an Andy Robertson free-kick. 

The Swiss missed several late chances, but Scotland managed to secure a point, moving them to third in Group A. A victory against Hungary would likely see them advance past the group stage for the first time in their history.

Germany vs. Hungary

Hungary manager Marco Rossi emphasized the importance of avoiding mistakes on the eve of the match, but his side faltered just 22 minutes in.

Defender Willi Orbán tried to shoulder-barge Gündogan in his own area but ended up falling to the ground. The German captain capitalized, pulling the ball back to Musiala, who smashed it in off defender Attila Fiola while some Hungarian players paused, appealing for a foul.

VAR quickly confirmed the goal.

Hungary responded well, with German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer making a crucial save, diving to the top corner to parry away a Dominik Szoboszlai free-kick shortly after.

They thought they had equalized just before half-time when Sallai headed in from a rebound, but it was ruled out for offside. Hungary had another chance to level after the break when Barnabás Varga headed over the bar.

Germany continued to apply pressure, with Musiala being a constant threat to the Hungarian defense. He was also instrumental in the build-up when Gündogan doubled their lead in the 67th minute, sweeping in a low cross from Maximilian Mittelstädt.

“We are getting better but as we improve we have to overcome some problems, that is what this game showed today, especially in the first half. But that’s the tournament — you have to survive such situations. We survived and then hit back,” said Gündogan, 33.

Germany managed to maintain possession and run down the clock, securing their place in the next round ahead of their final group game against Switzerland on Sunday.

Hungary still has a chance to progress if they beat Scotland and other results go in their favor.

“We made some mistakes, but mistakes happen in football. Teams like Germany and other world-class teams play better than us, we know that. I’d say Germany is possibly the biggest favorite to win the Euro,” Rossi commented.

Croatia vs. Albania

Qazim Laci’s 11th-minute header gave Albania an early lead, mirroring their quick start against Italy when they scored after just 23 seconds.

This time, they took a bit longer, withstanding early pressure before Jasir Asani whipped in a cross from the right. Laci’s glancing header slipped under goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic, who could have done better but redeemed himself with two crucial saves later in the first half, denying Kristjan Asllani and stopping Rey Manaj’s diving header, preventing Albania from doubling their lead.

Albania’s gritty determination and rapid counterattacks belied their lowly ranking, some 56 places below 10th-placed Croatia.

Croatia made a double change at the break, intensifying their pressure on the Albanian goal. Thomas Strakosha made key saves from Luka Sucic and Mateo Kovacic to maintain the lead until the 74th minute when Kramaric, on his 33rd birthday, scored from close range. He shot through the legs of Elseid Hysaj, wrongfooting Strakosha.

An own goal followed as Ante Budimir’s shot, set up by Mario Pasalic’s pullback from the byline, was blocked by Berat Djimsiti, only for the rebound to hit Gjasula and go into his own net.

However, Albania was not to be outdone, and Gjasula sidefooted into the net with five minutes of additional time already played, leading to a dramatic conclusion to the contest.

“This is why everyone loves football. In the last seconds, sometimes you score a goal to win, sometimes you concede,” said Kramaric.

Albania finishes their group schedule against Spain in Dusseldorf on Monday, and Gjasula expressed hope.

“We know that the game with Spain is very difficult, but in football, everything is possible. If we play like today, anything can happen,” he told reporters.

Croatia will meet Italy in Leipzig at the same time, with the odds against them.

“The first half was very bad, but the second was much better, which is encouraging for the match with Italy,” added Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic. “We are still in the game. We shall prepare and do everything in our power to go on.”

Read more: Euro 2024 Begins with Germany’s Thrashing of Scotland, Injuries Plague Poland vs Netherlands, Modric Leads Croatia Against Spain

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Euro 2024 Begins with Germany’s Thrashing of Scotland, Injuries Plague Poland vs Netherlands, Modric Leads Croatia Against Spain

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Euro 2024

Germany vs Scotland

Hosts Germany thrashed 10-man Scotland 5-1 on Friday, making a triumphant start to their Euro 2024 campaign with the largest opening-game margin of victory in the tournament’s history.

Scotland, who lost Porteous to a studs-up challenge on Gündogan, must quickly regroup if they are to advance past the group stage for the first time in a major tournament.

Germany, who had suffered opening-match defeats at the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and the previous Euros in 2021, dominated possession from the start, with Scotland defending high.

That ambitious strategy proved fatal for the visitors, who left too many open spaces at the back. It didn’t take long for the hosts to capitalize. Toni Kroos delivered a flawless 30-meter cross to Joshua Kimmich, who perfectly timed his pass to Florian Wirtz. Wirtz then drilled home the goal in the 10th minute, becoming the youngest scorer for Germany at any European Championship at the age of 21.

With Scotland still reeling, Germany scored again nine minutes later. Gündogan threaded another pass through the Scottish defense, finding Havertz on the left, who then set up Musiala in the box to fire it in.

Germany’s strong start was further reinforced by Porteous’ reckless challenge, which resulted in a penalty that Havertz easily converted.

After the break, Germany continued to dominate, adding a fourth through substitute Füllkrug’s shot in the 69th minute, leaving Scotland coach Steve Clarke, the first to lead the team to back-to-back Euros, looking on helplessly.

Post Match Thoughts

“First half, we just got it all wrong really, didn’t show up, weren’t aggressive enough, and we let good players get on the ball,” Scotland captain Andy Robertson said. “Second half, we’re down to 10 men and I thought the lads dug in really well. We have to bounce back quickly because there was lots wrong here and it’s a quick turnaround now.”

“We played with a lot of intensity and found the right spaces, took some risks, and that’s why we scored. We played an outstanding first half and were up 3-0,” Germany captain Ílkay Gündogan said. “That’s how we wanted to start. I had a good feeling before the game and I was proved right.”

“The start is what we wanted but still the goal we conceded showed that all teams have quality, and if you don’t pay attention you will be punished.”

Scotland, who did not manage a single effort on or off target, pulled a goal back in the 87th minute when Rüdiger headed the ball into his own net, but substitute Emre Can then curled home a shot in stoppage time for Germany’s fifth goal.

The Scots will next play the Swiss on Wednesday.

Julian Nagelsmann’s Germany will next face Hungary on Wednesday before taking on Switzerland in their final Group A match.

Poland vs Netherlands 

Star Striker Lewandowski Out

Poland will be without their star striker Robert Lewandowski for the opening game of the European Championship against the Netherlands on Sunday due to injury.

Team doctor Jacek Jaroszewski confirmed that the Barcelona player sustained a torn biceps femoris muscle during a warm-up match against Turkey in Warsaw on Monday, which Poland won 2-1. Lewandowski, the Poland captain, was substituted in the 32nd minute of the game after injuring his right leg.

“We are doing everything we can so that Robert can play in the second match against Austria,” Jaroszewski stated.

In Group D, Poland will face Austria on June 21, followed by a match against France four days later.

This injury is a significant setback for Poland, as Lewandowski is the nation’s all-time leading scorer with 82 goals in 150 appearances. Additionally, Arkadiusz Milik, who was set to partner with Lewandowski at the Euros, damaged his left knee during a friendly against Ukraine on Friday. Milik returned to Juventus and underwent successful knee surgery on Monday.

Dutch Injuries

The Netherlands will be without playmaker Frenkie de Jong, who is sidelined with an ankle injury. Additionally, Europa League winners Marten de Roon and Teun Koopmeiners, along with defender Sven Botman, are also on the injury list.

“Despite the setbacks, we still have a strong squad,” said Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman. “We’ve had some bad luck with numerous injuries over the past year, particularly to players who are highly valuable to the national team.”

Spain vs Croatia

Aging Modric

Luka Modric is looking forward to potentially his last major tournament with Croatia. At 38, the Real Madrid midfielder is set to lead his nation in their opening group game against Spain in Berlin on Saturday, nearly two decades after debuting in a major tournament at the 2006 World Cup.

“After so many years, here I am still, and I’m happy to be here,” said Modric, who has won the Champions League six times with Real Madrid.

Spain, aiming for a record fourth European Championship following their wins in 1964, 2008, and 2012, are confident about their chances. “I am convinced we will have a chance to fight for the title,” said Spain’s boss Luis de la Fuente. “However, there can only be one winner and there are many good national teams who can win this trophy.”

Discussing the upcoming match with Croatia, de la Fuente expressed his admiration for the Croatian players. “I truly admire the mentality of Croatian footballers because they’re an example of national pride, of a feeling of unity, of being proud of the national team. It makes me proud when we feel the same thing in our country. The first goal must always be to compete and be in a position to win.”

Yamal to Become Youngest Euro Player Ever?

Spain’s squad for the European Championship in Germany features 16-year-old Barcelona midfielder Lamine Yamal. If he takes the field, Yamal will become the youngest player ever to participate in a European Championship.

Born in Spain to Moroccan and Equatorial Guinean parents, Yamal revealed last week that he would still be doing his school homework during Euro 2024. He has already made his mark by scoring in the qualifiers and establishing himself at Barcelona.

Yamal hadn’t even been born when Croatia’s captain Luka Modric made his debut at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

“He’s a young boy, with incredible talent that only the chosen ones have,” said Spain’s coach Luis de la Fuente when asked about Yamal.

Poland’s Kacper Kozlowski holds the record as the youngest player at the Euros, having been 17 years and 246 days old when he featured in a 1-1 group stage draw against Spain in Seville in June 2021.

Read more: UEFA Champions League Final Recap 2023/2024

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Euro 2024: Who’s Taking the Trophy Home? Let’s Bet

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Detailed analysis of teams most likely to perform well in the tournament

Excitement? Check. 

Top teams ready? Absolutely. 

UEFA Euro 2024 is just around the corner. And it’s not just the fans getting ready. Bettors are all in, hunting for that golden insight.

From the BBC to UEFA’s own vault, we’ve got the scoop. Who’s shining this year in Germany? Let’s dive in. 

This is gonna be good.

France: The Champs

Meet France. History? They’ve got it. Talent? Overflowing. Kylian Mbappé’s a beast, scoring left and right. France is on fire, unbeaten in qualifiers. Youth plus experience? They’ve nailed the formula.

Germany: The Hosts

Pressure’s on Germany, but they’re cool. History? Rich. Talent? Deep. They’re mixing the old with the new, aiming high. Hosting gives them that tiny edge. It’s game time.

England: Hunt Mode

England is rewriting their story. No more “almosts.” They’re here, and they’re hungry. Talent? It’s everywhere. Jude Bellingham’s dreaming of double glory. Their eyes are on the prize.

Portugal: The Dark Horses

Portugal smashed Sweden 5–2. Bruno Fernandes? Killer in front of goal. Ronaldo’s out, but the new kids are alright. They’re sneaky, unpredictable. Watch out.

Betting 101

Eye on the prize. Watch the teams, catch the friendlies. Who’s fit, who’s not? Deep squads win games. Don’t sleep on the young guns. They’re game-changers.

It’s all about knowing the game. France, Germany, England, Portugal. They’re the ones to watch. But remember, football’s full of surprises.

Football’s the ultimate thrill. Betting on Euro 2024? It’s a rollercoaster. Bet smart. Have fun. And may the odds be ever in your favor.

Looking to spice things up? Bet on FuturePlay. Let’s make this tournament unforgettable.


Thanks for reading! 

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