De Futebol

It looks like Neymar is gone at Barcelona. This is according to the Daily Mail. “It will be the most stunning European football transfer since Real Madrid snatched Luis Figo back in 2000, and once again Barcelona will be the victims.

Neymar, poised to step out of the shadow of Lionel Messi and into the spotlight at the Parc des Princes, was the player the Catalans boasted about beating the rest of Europe to in 2013.

But they are on the brink of losing him after only four years, for a fee that will smash the existing transfer record.

‘I don’t think that will happen,’ said Barcelona’s technical secretary Robert Fernandez on Monday when asked if a club would meet Neymar’s €222million (£196m) buy-out clause.

If that was throwing down the gauntlet to PSG chairman Nasser al-Khelaifi he seems increasingly convinced that accepting the challenge is what it will take to make the French side Champions League winners.

It was Neymar who stopped PSG progressing in last season’s Champions League. He starred in that extraordinary 6-5 aggregate win with a brilliant free-kick, a penalty and the assist for the 95th-minute winning goal all in seven sensational minutes.

It seemed to be the night he moved ahead of Messi as Barcelona’s most important player. But the crown was not passed down the line.

Neymar was sent off for a daft double caution in a 2-0 defeat to Malaga a few weeks later and when he sarcastically clapped the fourth official as he walked off the pitch he incurred a further game’s suspension and missed the Clasico two weeks later.

Barcelona beat Real Madrid without him thanks to a 92nd-minute winner from Messi — yet another reminder of just who was No 1 at the Nou Camp and how difficult it would be for Neymar to overtake him.

As Barcelona’s season faded Neymar also began to feel that the finger of blame was being pointed his way.

He went partying with Lewis Hamilton the night of the 6-1 win over PSG. He had permission but four days after the celebration with the British Formula 1 driver, who he made friends with last summer on holiday in the US, he missed Barcelona’s defeat to Deportivo through injury.

That game also coincided with Neymar’s sister Rafaella’s birthday and it was pointed out that this was the third year running that he had missed the game being played closest to that particular date in his calendar.

As well as the bond with Hamilton he also became friends with the Canadian singer Justin Bieber. There were frequent trips to London on days off.

And at the end of the season during a training-ground row with Barcelona’s then-assistant coach Carles Unzue it was claimed that Unzue warned Neymar not to end up like another Barca Brazilian, Ronaldinho, whose prolific social life ultimately cut short his career.

Unzue is gone but the feeling remains that Neymar is looked upon as the playboy footballer and not the leader of the team. He looks more than happy in the company of Messi and Luis Suarez on the training pitch – the three are as inseparable in training as they are effective during games but there will be no shortage of Brazilian friends waiting for him in Paris.

PSG threw themselves wholeheartedly into a late bid to prise Dani Alves away from Pep Guardiola and Manchester City precisely because they knew it would be something else in their favour as they attempted to lure Neymar.

Cynics in Barcelona will dismiss the talk of Neymar moving for only football reasons. How can playing every week in the French League in front of 48,000 top playing the Clasico in front of 99,000? Will leaving Messi and Suarez’s side really improve his chances of winning the Ballon d’Or? What if PSG’s woes under Unai Emery are repeated this season and the French Cup is all they win again?

Others will not believe his departure until they see him deposit the €222m buy-out clause with the Spanish league to free him from his contract – even if Barca want Marco Veratti they will demand PSG pay in full and then discuss other business afterwards.

Neymar has cried wolf before with last year’s rumblings ending with him signing with the club until 2021.

This week’s stories seemed to be following a similar pattern. Spanish papers got the ball rolling on Monday with reports that the 25-year-old was ‘uncomfortable’ and the same paper had world exclusive pictures of Neymar on a yacht in the Mediterranean 24 hours later.

It suggested more choreographed ‘noise’ and the sports website promised an interview with the player declaring his commitment to the club on Wednesday but news that Neymar’s father was on his way to Paris for talks this morning seemed to carry far more weight.

Voices from other Premier League clubs who have kept a careful eye on the situation over the last 12 months also suggest this time the player really is about to leave.

When Barcelona lost Figo in 2000 they wasted the money on the disastrous signings of Marc Overmars and Emmanuel Petit among others. They will have to get their rebuilding right this time.

Veratti will remain an option and Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele or Monaco’s Kylian Mbappe will head up the targets as the Brazilian’s direct replacement.

‘No one is more abracadabra than Neymar,’ former Barca coach Luis Enrique once said. Barcelona will argue that Messi still has more magic in his 30-year-old legs than the younger pretender.

Which is precisely why Neymar is now on the verge of leaving for the City of Light.

De Futebol

Boca Juniors won their 32nd league title. The Daily Mail:” Boca Juniors sealed the 32nd Argentine title of their illustrious history amid a spectacular display of colour and light at La Bombonera on Sunday evening.

Few places in world football carry a reputation for such passionate fans and the Boca faithful did not disappoint as they lit flares and unfurled huge banners to celebrate their team lifting the Primera Division trophy.

Players donned hats, lit their own yellow and blue flares and climbed the fences around the stadium to make sure the spectators got as close as possible. It created the spectacle one has come to expect from South American football.

🎥 El sitio oficial estuvo en el vestuario y registró todos los festejos de los jugadores como nadie te los mostró. #OtraEstrellaBoca

— 🏆 Boca Jrs. Oficial (@BocaJrsOficial) June 26, 2017

Boca already knew they had won the title going into Sunday’s game against Union Santa Fe after closest challengers Banfield lost 1-0 at San Lorenzo last week to give them an unassailable lead.

That had sparked mass celebrations on the streets of Argentina’s capital but it appears the fans saved the very best for their final fixture.

Boca players did their best to give the fans something else to cheer about, endeavouring to beat the struggling Union despite having already achieved their ultimate goal.

The 2-1 win, sealed by a brace from Dario Benedetto, was a scrappy affair, but few will remember the game itself with the title celebrations very much the main event of the evening.

Boca finished the season seven points clear of their arch-rivals River Plate, who themselves find their record of 36 league titles coming under threat. Indeed, Boca have won two of the last three national titles and are now just four behind on 32.

Head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto was keen to thank their fans for inspiring his players towards the championship in what was his first season in charge.

He told TYC Sport: ‘The fans were always on our side and it is a joy to give them the championship.’

De Futebol

Man U defeated Real Salt Lake 2-1 in preseason action.

The Daily Mail:” Just for a moment, it looked as though Romelu Lukaku had wasted his chance. Henrikh Mkhitaryan played a wonderful cross into the path of Manchester United’s new £75million signing but his first touch let him down. Lukaku recovered, though, and took the ball around the goalkeeper before firing past a defender on the line.

The Belgium striker will score more significant goals on more important occasions than this, a pre-season friendly in Salt Lake City. But this was his first in a United shirt and he will feel all the better for it.

Two days earlier in Los Angeles, Lukaku missed an easy chance as he was upstaged by young Marcus Rashford. His rather untidy effort here at the Rio Tinto Stadium was the difference between United and a surprisingly lively Real side.

They gave Jose Mourinho’s side more of a game than they might have expected. It made its mark on Juan Mata who limped off 14 minutes after coming on as a half-time substitute, and Antonio Valencia was then bizarrely sent off by MLS referee Allen Chapman.

Otherwise, Mourinho will be happy with another decent run-out for his players and another win as United prepare to meet Manchester City in the International Champions Cup in Houston in the early hours of Friday morning.

A storm and 60mph winds an hour before kick-off threatened to disrupt United’s first ever game in Utah, but it had subsided by the time the players came out in humid conditions at just before 8pm local time.

Set against the mountains, the Rio Tinto Stadium is certainly a picturesque venue but there were more than a few empty seats visible in the 20,000-capacity arena, just as there had been in LA at the weekend with high ticket prices once again dampening the enthusiasm of US soccer fans.

If LA Galaxy had offered rather lame opposition, however, Real Salt Lake quickly demonstrated that they would offer more competition for a United side that began sluggishly in contrast to their flying start in the first game. Mourinho’s side were slow to the ball and wasteful in possession as they struggled with Real’s pace and movement.

You can’t blame all that on playing at high altitude, but in fairness the MLS team were able to go full throttle because coach Mike Petke had already decided to play three completely different teams for half an hour each.

Twice in the opening 20 minutes they sliced through the United defence and it needed excellent anticipation from Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Jesse Lingard to stop Jefferson Savarino and Joao Plata with last-ditch tackles in front of goal.

United’s starting goalkeeper Joel Pereira also managed to gather Plata’s low shot at the second attempt after another incisive move, but he was powerless to stop Real taking a deserved lead in the 23rd minute.

It came from another fantastic sweeping move as the lively Savarino raced in between Lingard and Daley Blind, and slipped a pass through for Luis Silva. Phil Jones looked as though he would stop the striker but was muscled off the ball far too easily by Silva who flicked it past Pereira with the outside of his left foot.

Up to that point, United had only put together one attack of note when Mkhitaryan swept the ball to Fosu-Mensah galloping down the right. Lukaku anticipated the defender’s low cross to the edge of the six-yard box but just couldn’t quite connect as he lunged in.

However, United did pull level in the 29th minute and it was their best player Mkhitaryan who finished it off. The Armenian was unmarked when he received the ball from Lingard on the edge of the area despite three white shirts being in close proximity, and he turned to drag a shot inside goalkeeper Nick Rimando’s left-hand post.

Real made their first raft of changes moments later and it seemed to take the edge off their play as Lukaku fired United in front with that landmark first goal seven minutes before half-time.

Mourinho summoned his own replacements at half-time, making 11 changes just as he did in LA at the weekend.

Unfortunately for Mata, he didn’t last long before limping off after picking up a foot injury in a challenge with Sebastian Saucedo, with the United boss anxious not to take any risks with the Spaniard.

There was certainly a little more bite in the game, and Valencia followed Mata down the tunnel in the 68th minute when he was sent off for taking retribution with a scything challenge on Saucedo.

It was a curious decision considering that the officials in both tour games have been reluctant to produce so much as a yellow card. Even more so because referee Chapman waited for more than two minutes while Saucedo received treatment before brandishing a red. The official asked Mourinho to take the Ecuador international off, a request which was refused, before sending him off.

Real briefly threatened an equaliser when Luke Mulholland flashed a shot wide in the 73rd minute, but United should have extended their lead in the latter stages as Chris Smalling and Anthony Martial missed chances.

De Futebol


Flamengo and Cruziero tied one all. The guys stay locked into fourth place with 24 points.

Globo Esportes:” Com boas defesas de Thiago e um gol de Éverton no segundo tempo, o rubro-negro vencia o Cruzeiro fora de casa e subia da quarta para a vice colocação do Brasileiro. Mas o gol de empate do Cruzeiro, feito por Sassá, e a virada do Grêmio sobre a Ponte Preta, em Porto Alegre, fizeram com que o Flamengo estacionasse em quarto.

O placar de 1 a 1 em Belo Horizonte mostra um certo equilíbrio em campo, apesar de o Cruzeiro, principalmente no segundo tempo, ter sido mais incisivo e mostrado mais domínio do jogo. Nesse aspecto, teve mais chance de sair vencedor do que o visitante.

Logo quando o Cruzeiro voltou do intervalo com essa disposição mais ofensiva, o Flamengo achou o seu gol em uma boa jogada de Guerrero, que passou para Rodinei cruzar na medida para a cabeçada de Éverton, que fez boa partida.

O resultado alçava o Flamengo para a vice-liderança, mas, logo em seguida, o Grêmio, que acabaria virando em seu estádio (3 a 1), empatou com a Ponte. Quase ao mesmo tempo, Sassá, que saiu do banco, fazia o gol do Cruzeiro no Mineirão, arruinando as pretensões rubro-negras.

A derrota só não veio para o Flamengo em Belo Horizonte porque o goleiro Thiago fez excelentes defesas. E porque o time, que não teve sucesso em raras investidas nos últimos 15 minutos, soube resistir à pressão no fim.

De Futebol

Man U defeated the LA Galaxy 5-2 to open up the Red Devils preseason tour.

The Daily Mail:” All the noise has been around Romelu Lukaku here in Los Angeles, and not always with the approval of his neighbours who resorted to calling the police on Manchester United’s new £75million signing.

But Marcus Rashford provided a timely reminder that there is more than one striker at Old Trafford capable of leading the line and scoring goals for Jose Mourinho’s team this season.

Mourinho suggested in the build-up to United’s first game on tour that he needed ‘a target man, a clear No 9, which is not Rashford’. The teenager responded by scoring twice inside the opening 20 minutes as United breezed past a poor LA Galaxy at the StubHub Center in Carson.

Lukaku replaced the young England striker at half-time to make his first appearance since joining from Everton in a deal that could rise to £90m, and did not fare quite so well.

His big chance arrived just four minutes after the restart when Paul Pogba, his close friend who has been holidaying with Lukaku here in California, intercepted a poor throw from Galaxy goalkeeper Brian Rowe and presented the striker with a clear chance just yards out.

It was the sort Lukaku should be converting with his eyes closed. But just as he looked to complete what looked like a formality, Rowe redeemed himself with an excellent save to claw the ball away.

Another Lukaku effort was scuffed well wide and he looked a little off the pace. But this is the reason for pre-season, and there are another six games before United face Real Madrid in the European Super Cup next month for the Belgium striker to hit form.

United’s other summer signing Victor Lindelof also made his debut in the second half and will not be particularly happy with his part in the Galaxy’s second goal as the MLS side staged a late fightback.

Otherwise, this was a largely satisfying performance by United on a humid night in California. Mourinho experimented with three at the back, a system he used on only four occasions last season, as he began with a 3-5-2 formation in the first half.

‘We will play in a system that is new for us and it’s important to see how we cope with it because it’s going to be difficult,’ said the United boss before kick-off.

‘It is not going to be our main system. We are always a team that normally plays four at the back, but during the season we maybe need to do it.

‘Last season we did need to do it against Rostov at home and away, so maybe we need to adapt to some matches and pre-season is exactly for this – especially the second pre-season, which it is now.

‘We are going to try what we have been doing in training in these first few days.’

As it was, United were hardly tested by a below-strength LA Galaxy team struggling midway through the MLS season.

Mourinho had talked about the challenge of facing players with more intensity than his team, but it was United who looked sharper as they surged into a three-goal lead inside half an hour.

Twice in the opening 20 minutes, Rashford benefitted from carelessness in the home ranks. He struck first after two minutes when Jesse Lingard dispossessed Nathan Smith and the ball ran kindly for Rashford. The youngster seized on his opportunity to go through on goal and beat goalkeeper Jon Kempin with an unerring finish into the bottom corner with his right foot.

It was a similar story for the second goal. This time Ander Herrera was the man to steal the ball from the home side and slip it to Juan Mata. The Spaniard’s pass released Rashford again and the execution was just as precise as he slid the ball into the bottom corner again.

Rashford should have completed his hat-trick moments before he was replaced at half-time as Michael Carrick sent him clear from halfway with a wonderful pass. Rashford was onside and raced away with just Kempin to beat, but this time the Galaxy keeper stood strong and made a fine save to deny him.

By then, United were three up after Marouane Fellaini had got his name on the scoresheet. Lingard and Herrera were involved again, playing a one-two to allow Lingard to get to the byline. He showed presence of mind to wait and pick a pass to Fellaini who swept the ball home with his left foot from 15 yards.

Chris Smalling also had an effort ruled out for offside and Mata’s clever chip from the edge of the box forced Kempin into a fine save as United threatened to repeat their 7-0 win over the Galaxy in 2014. That match was played in front of 86,500 fans at the Rosebowl, but it has to be said there were a few empty seats in the 27,000-capacity stadium here in Carson.

Changing the entire line-up at half-time interrupted United’s flow somewhat. However, they should still have added to their on several occasions before Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored the fourth as both Lukaku and Lindelof missed chances, and substitute keeper Rowe made several excellent saves.

He was beaten in the 66th minute when the Galaxy were punished for another sloppy mistake in midfield. Mkhitaryan stole possession from Jermaine Jones and raced away before exchanging passes with Anthony Martial. Rowe came out to stop him but never stood a chance as the Armenian slipped the ball past him.

Martial made it five in the 72nd minute, sweeping home from just inside the box following a fine run and pull-back by Timothy Fosu-Mensah, but it was the Galaxy who ended the game with their tails up.

A sweeping move upfield that was completely out of context with anything that had preceded it from the MLS side ended with former Tottenham midfielder Giovani dos Santos curling the ball beyond Joel Pereira.

Then Lindelof failed to get off the ground in the 88th minute as Dave Romney rose to meet a corner with a header that appeared to take a touch off Dos Santos on its way into the net.

De Futebol

The Guardians Tom Sanderson wrote the EPL is the place where young Brasilians want to play futebol. ““Para inglês ver,” is a phrase that is used a lot in Brazil. Its roots go back to the early 19th century, when the British government was pushing Brazil to stop using slaves. Treaties were drawn up and signed, which kept the British happy, but coffee production was exploding and slaves kept profits up for decades to come. The law was just for show, “just for the English to see.” Not so long ago young Brazilian footballers who dreamed of life-changing moves across the Atlantic played to impress Spanish and Italian eyes but, thanks to the rise in popularity of the Premier League, they are now increasingly playing for the English to see.

“I want to be City; I want to be Chelsea,” come the enthusiastic cries from a pack of young boys – ball in hand, jumpers for goalposts – as they rush through the forecourt of a public housing building in São Paulo’s second largest favela, Paraisópolis, before receiving a ticking off from a portly porteiro who reminds them of the strict no ball games policy. A few minutes away, on a harsh concrete square adorned by gang graffiti, a group of older boys, some in barefoot and many in Premier League shirts, are playing a one-goal-and-off round robin that will go on until the daylight gives in.

his would not have happened a generation ago. In the 1990s Brazilians in low-income neighbourhoods could only watch La Liga and Serie A on terrestrial canais abertos (open channels), providing their families could afford a set. The prospect of watching satellite TV – Direct TV – remained a fantasy back then, a phenomenon that will be familiar to the many Brits who hunched over their Sunday roasts and watched the exploits of George Weah and Alessandro Del Piero instead of paying to see the drama unfold in their own country’s championship.

The Champions League was hardly the best advert for English football in that era. When Manchester United won it in 1999 they became the first English club to do so for 15 years. English clubs offered very little in the Club World Championship, which is taken much more seriously by Brazilians, who consider it to be the ultimate conquest in club football. Manchester United couldn’t get out of a group containing South Melbourne, Necaxa of Mexico and Vasco da Gama in 2000 and Liverpool followed up their miraculous win against Milan in the Champions League final with a 1-0 defeat to São Paulo in the Club World Championship final in 2005.

True to form, the English national team did not provide much inspiration either. They failed to qualify for the USA 94 World Cup, which Brazil won on penalties, barely made a ripple at France 98 as Brazil made it to the final, and were caught up in the whirlwind of Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho – who were all complicit in inspiring a generation of young players to look to Spain and Italy – in the quarter-finals in 2002 as one of the Seleção’s greatest ever teams won the country’s fifth World Cup.

Things began to change a few months after that World Cup. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, more commonly known by his nickname Lula, was elected president in October 2002, heralding a 13-year stranglehold on power for his Partido dos Trabalhadores (Workers’ Party). That reign came to an abrupt end in 2016 when Lula’s successor and Brazil’s first female president, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached.

Currently mired in corruption scandals, Partido dos Trabalhadores is in crisis as Lula faces prison and Dilma’s 2014 election campaign is under scrutiny due to the wide-reaching Lava Jato investigation that has already left various politicians across multiple parties in jail. Even in a country bitterly divided by left and right though, few would argue that PT helped lift millions out of poverty with welfare programmes such as bolsa familia.

They have been criticised for failing to invest in Brazil’s dire public education system – which would have tackled the nation’s harrowing inequality – but PT did oversee the creation of a new burgeoning middle class, admittedly by its own definitions. Despite still living in undesirable comunidades, the poor now had disposable income for household electronics, including flatscreen TVs. With the economy growing at 7.5% in the boom times and Lula’s approval rating hitting 83%, things were looking up. Credit was abundant and viewers were paying off those TVs in instalments.

By now, a considerable number of domestic and foreign league matches had made their way to cable television. Though most of the population were in steady employment, a pitiful monthly minimum wage – still just over £200 – made expensive subscription fees out of reach. Some companies to this day refuse to provide their services to parts of Brazil’s towns and cities they deem too dangerous for their technicians to tread.

Despite these hurdles, the introduction of clandestine gato hook-ups meant signals could be “borrowed” from private providers, often in nearby rich neighbourhoods, and every single channel became unlocked for just over £10 per month. With more young people now able to afford games consoles, Fifa and Pro Evolution Soccer helped open up knowledge of competitions beyond Spain and Italy; kids without a TV could even get on PlayStations at hole-in-the-wall arcades or internet cafes.

Again, in 2012, a Brazilian club overcame English opponents 1-0 to be crowned world champions as Chelsea lost to Corinthians. This time round, though, the losing team had three Brasileiros on the field: Ramires, Oscar and David Luiz – then a national icon before his reckless Little Boy Lost outing against Germany in the World Cup semi-final in 2014. At the beginning of the 2013-14 season, Willian, who had spent a decade at the São Paulo-based club before heading to Shakhtar Donetsk, joined the Brazilian contingent in west London.

The acquisition of this quartet, especially Oscar, who moved directly to England from Brazil in spite of other offers, signalled a sea change in transfer trends. For years English clubs had resigned themselves to missing out on Brazilian talent to Spain and Italy due to the legacies left by legendary fellow countrymen as well as similarities in climate, culture and playing style. Brazilians had only enjoyed limited success in England, excluding perhaps Juninho and Gilberto Silva, and the physical style of play, gruelling fixture calendar and harsh winter months were hardly incentives either.

Philippe Coutinho – now the Brazilian with the most goals in the Premier League – made his way to Merseyside in January 2013. Coutinho no doubt played a role in attracting Roberto Firmino to the club two years later. He will also have helped inspire computer game-loving Gabriel Jesus to venture straight to Manchester City from Palmeiras, where he helped the club clinch their first league title in 22 years.

Premier League clubs, along with Paris Saint-Germain, give ambitious players who have grown up in abject poverty a chance to achieve financial security, with Manchester City and Chelsea seen as havens for players in want of handsome pay packets. But that may not last. The FA has changed their rules in a bid to reduce the number of non-EU players in the Premier League and the post-Brexit closing of the gates on migrant workers may discourage players from leaving mainland Europe for England. Many Brazilians are able to claim Italian, Spanish or Portuguese passports through ancestry, making the mainland chunk of the continent a less bureaucratic, more attractive option. Portugal has even suggested a freedom-of-movement scheme between Lusophone countries.

English clubs are enjoying a newfound pulling power but the Premier League still acts as a mere pit stop as far as two clubs are concerned. Real Madrid and Barcelona will always remain the pinnacle for young Brazilian footballers. Coutinho may still progress to Barcelona, where he would be be reunited with Neymar – who has been a close friend since their days in Brazil’s youth set-up – and, if Gabriel Jesus enjoys a few good seasons in Manchester, he may look to join them when Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez are winding down their careers.

Last month, youngsters across Brazil would have been buoyed by the news that 16-year-old Flamengo star Vinícius Júnior has agreed to sign for Real Madrid. Not every teenage hot prospect attracts €46m bids from the European champions so, in an era when youngsters are growing up watching their heroes play in the Premier League, England is worth being seen in too.

De Futebol

Flamengo lost to Gremio 1-0. The loss dropped the guys into fourth place with 23 points. Globo Esportes: “ A primeira derrota na Ilha do Urubu mostrou um Flamengo com dificuldades de fazer aquilo que sempre teve como uma de suas principais características desde o ano passado: trocar passes na busca de espaço para furar bloqueios adversários. No 1 a 0 para o Grêmio, o time de Zé Ricardo errava muito e se via obrigado a tentar as levantadas na grande área, sem eficiência. Parecia desorganizado. Além disso, o Rubro-Negro ainda contou com uma noite pouco inspirada de Éverton Ribeiro e Diego.

Vacilo da defesa

Sem Guerrero (suspenso), o time não conseguiu prender a bola na frente. Não é de hoje a notável dificuldade de Leandro Damião de exercer a função de pivô como o peruano faz, apesar da entrega na marcação adversária. Após vacilo defensivo coletivo no gol do Grêmio, começando com bote errado de Rafael Vaz, passando por Márcio Araújo e terminando com falha de Trauco, o chuveirinho na área virou a principal arma no primeiro tempo. Os bons chutes de Everton e Cuéllar, de fora da área, no fim da etapa, foram as duas boas chances do Fla.

O time de Renato Gaúcho colaborou paras as tentativas de bola alçada. Foram várias faltas ao redor da grande área, mas poucas que levaram perigo à meta de Leo Jardim. Pelo alto, Geromel, Kannemann, Michel e companhia foram soberanos – exceto por uma bola de Rafael Vaz, que parou numa bela defesa do goleiro. No fim das contas, só quatro dos 25 cruzamentos acharam a cabeça de jogadores do Flamengo.

A responsabilidade também passou pelos pés de Diego e Éverton Ribeiro. Decisivos nos últimos jogos, eles erraram passes mais do que de costume (seis do camisa 7 e oito do camisa 35) e mostraram afobação em momentos de definição. Além disso, eram bem marcados.

– Faltou eficiência, sem dúvida nenhuma. Acho que as chances criadas foram claras, até acertando o gol. No segundo tempo foi bola na trave, acertamos no gol a maioria dos chutes, cabeçadas no gol. Enfim… Furamos a defesa, esse não foi o problema. Furamos com jogadas envolventes. Mas o chute às vezes saiu na mão do goleiro, na trave. Essa é a minha opinião – analisou Diego, após o jogo na Ilha.

Segunda etapa: mais bola no chão, mas pouca organização

Na segunda etapa, Zé foi para o tudo ou nada ao sacar os volantes e Trauco para as entradas de Mancuello, Vizeu e Geuvânio, mas desprotegeu o sistema defensivo e por pouco não viu Luan ampliar. Durante boa parte do segundo tempo, a equipe conseguiu trabalhar mais as bolas e buscar infiltração na área, mas a retranca tricolor foi eficiente para barrar as as investidas também pelo chão.

No fim, ficou até difícil analisar: Éverton Ribeiro e Everton mais pela esquerda, Vizeu e Damião centralizados, Geuvânio pela direita, Diego na armação, Mancuello de volante… O time terminou a partida com muitos jogadores de criação e atacantes, mas sem a organização necessária para buscar o empate.

Números do Fla contra o Grêmio:

Posse de bola: 62%

Finalizações: 21

Bola levantadas na área: 25

Cabeçadas: 4

Faltas cometidas: 11

Faltas sofridas: 20

Passes certos: 408

Passes errados: 47

De Futebol

Arsenal kicked off the preseason with a 2-0 win over Sydney. The Daily Mail:” Alexandre Lacazette, Arsenal’s club record £53million signing, took less than 15 minutes to score his first goal for his new employers as they breezed to a 2-0 win over Sydney on the first match of their tour to Australia and China.

The Frenchman, who entered the fray on 68 minutes, had the ball in the back of the net on 83, when he calmly slotted fellow substitute Alex Iwobi’s pull-back home from around 10 yards out.

Lacazette was handed the number nine jersey following his much-heralded arrival and perhaps gave a glimpse of things to come with a predatory finish.

The Gunners had wasted a staggering number of chances to double their lead after Per Mertesacker’s early opener.

But Lacazette made no mistake and Arsene Wenger will have noted his impact. Mertesacker had said he wanted to make his final season a fairytale. He got the first chapter off to a decent start here.

Less than five minutes had elapsed when the big man put the visitors, attacking the Jonny Wilkinson End, into the lead – turning on a deflected Mesut Ozil corner from three yards out and volleying into the corner. The finish was considerably better than the celebration, in which the German set off running, jumped in the air and landed on the spot.

Regardless, it delighted the vast majority of an impressive 80,432 crowd. This was the first time the Gunners have played Down Under for 40 years and the iconic stadium was awash with the famous red shirts with white sleeves. A shame, then, that Arsenal played in their new, admittedly sleek, third strip of black and grey.

Wenger has brought a number of youngsters on the trip and included four in the starting line-up.

Reiss Nelson was the pick. The Elephant and Castle-born 17-year-old has pace to burn and superb footwork. He caused the hosts problem after problem with an electrifying opening half on the right.

Joe Willock also impressed and almost had a goal to show for his efforts but was denied after a jinking, mazy run by Sydney keeper Andrew Redmayne. After 35 minutes, the visitors had registered 15 shots.

It was a similar pattern after the break with Arsenal creating and wasting chances. Danny Welbeck did have the chance to double the lead after a penalty was given for a handball that was not. However, his spot kick was palmed away by Redmayne, low to his right.

Sead Kolasinac made his debut and looked solid, although he will face substantially bigger tests in the months ahead than that offered here by Australia’s champions.

After 68 minutes came the 10 changes, with Lacazette on for his Gunners debut. The Frenchman’s arrival has prompted Olivier Giroud to question his own future. Here, Lacazette played in a two behind Giroud who took over from a rusty Welbeck as lead striker.

The magnificent Redmayne had a two-week trial with Arsenal as a teenager and is a fan of the club. He will take fond memories from the night he played against them, pulling off another string of saves including one fine parry from an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain free-kick.

He could not, however, stop Lacazette on a pleasing night for the Gunners.

De Futebol

The guys are getting ready for the upcoming season.

The Daily Mail: “They have seldom had the strength to sustain a Premier League title challenge in recent seasons, so it’s little wonder Arsenal are muscling up for the campaign ahead.

Their players hit the gym for weights and circuit training on Wednesday as the Gunners continue their pre-season preparations in Australia.

With Sydney lashed by heavy rain, Arsenal’s latest session was held partly indoors with the squad completing a sequence of pull-ups, dips and dumbbell lifts.

Olivier Giroud, Granit Xhaka, Mohamed Elneny, Alex Iwobi and Ainsley Maitland-Niles were among the players working out.

Before that, Arsene Wenger put his players through their paces on the pitch at the Kogarah Oval in the suburb of Carlton, the home of rugby league team St George Illawarra Dragons.

New signings Alexandre Lacazette and Sead Kolasinac trained with their new team-mates for the second time on a visit to Australia that sees them play two friendlies.

The FA Cup winners play A-League sides Sydney FC on Thursday and Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday, before jetting off to China for the next phase of their pre-season.

Arsenal beat Chelsea at Wembley to win their third FA Cup in four seasons back in May, but a disappointing fifth-place finish in the Premier League saw them miss out on Champions League football for the first time in two decades.

But despite breaking the club’s transfer record to bring £52million France striker Lacazette from Lyon, Wenger remains firm in his belief that winning trophies isn’t everything.

Wenger, who signed a new two-year contract at the end of the season, said: ‘We want to win trophies but you cannot live inside a club thinking we want to win the next trophy and if you don’t win it then you have lost.

‘The club is something bigger than that and has a stronger basis than that. On a personal level, I want to win every game. When we lose a game I’m absolutely mad and sad, but it is part of being a coach.

‘I’ve stayed here for a long time because of the values I hold close to me,’ he said. ‘One is to win trophies but more importantly it is to know who we are, and what is important to us in the game.

‘It is that basis which wins football games and that’s what I will do until the end of my career.’

Lacazette, who has been handed the No 9 shirt, will make his debut Down Under and Arsenal also retain an interest in Monaco winger Thomas Lemar as Wenger tries to boost his squad.

Speaking for the first time on the tour, Wenger also warned Manchester City off Alexis Sanchez and vowed that Olivier Giroud will stay.

‘The pressure starts again at the first press conference,’ he said when asked about Sanchez. ‘We’ll see. It is a continuation of what I said at the end of the season. It is in his interests to do as well as he can.

‘Nobody knows today if he will be in the final year next season because he can extend the contract with us at the start or during the season, so it is not necessarily the last year of his contract.’

Wenger, who denied reports in Chile that Sanchez had told the Arsenal boss he wants to leave, was resolute. ‘The players have contracts and we expect them to respect them,’ he said.

Doubts have been raised over the future of fellow striker Giroud, with Everton, Marseille and AC Milan ready to swoop, but Wenger wants to keep the 30-year-old.

‘We extended his contract last year,’ he said. ‘Our resolution is clear. He’s been great value to the squad and he is a great lover of the club. He’s always been determined to stay.’

Arsenal have made two bids for Monaco winger Lemar and Wenger, who also confirmed an interest in £120m-rated Monaco teenager Kylian Mbappe, suggested a third was not far away.

‘There is nothing really concrete about any signings,’ he said. ‘Lemar is a player we follow.’

De Futebol

Man U is off to a good start in the summer signings according to the Daily Mail. “Jose Mourinho has completed his first transfer of his second summer at Old Trafford and if precedent is anything to go by Victor Lindelof will play a major role next season.

All four of Mourinho’s signings 12 months ago went on to contribute significantly to a campaign that ended with two pieces of silverware but the Swedish defender is only the initial move in the Manchester United manager’s plans for a genuine title challenge.

Winning the Europa League and League Cup transformed an underwhelming domestic season into something positive yet Mourinho knows his team must now vie to become Premier League champions and progress well in the Champions League. Here are seven steps to take.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s injury heightened the importance of securing a new No 9 and Alvaro Morata has been identified as that man. His arrival for £60million appears imminent and though Real Madrid could not find a regular starting place for him he will sharpen United’s attacking edge.

The 24-year-old scored 15 La Liga goals in 27 games, where 12 were made off the bench, and also struck three times in the Champions League. While the flirtations with Antoine Griezmann ended in a slightly disingenuous ‘it’s-not-you-it’s-us’ parting Mourinho clearly wants a strong focal point to make up for 28 goals going out of the side and Morata provides that.

Finding how best Marcus Rashford works amid all this is also paramount.

Lindelof’s arrival gives Mourinho a surplus of central defenders and raises the prospect that Chris Smalling or Phil Jones will be sold.

The Portuguese may have been speaking in jest when revealing his plans for the Europa League final against Ajax but publicly criticising Smalling’s ability to play from the back does not bode well.

There would be a number of Premier League takers for the 27-year-old, who also bore Mourinho’s sharp tongue over fitness. Luke Shaw’s future also looks uncertain.

In that interview with Tribuna Expresso Mourinho made clear just how much attention he pays to the opposition, even a side United are expected to beat without much fuss.

That was the case last season, but the tailored approach only truly worked in the home victory over Chelsea, with costly draws against Hull, West Ham, Burnley, Stoke, West Brom and Swansea symptomatic of a side with the handbrake on.

Mourinho’s pragmatism will never allow his players unfettered freedom but infusing more attacking verve is essential, especially at Old Trafford.

There seems little danger of United arriving for the first match of the Premier League season undercooked. Protecting from burnout and jet-lag is Mourinho’s dilemma.

United will have played eight pre-season games before facing West Ham at Old Trafford on what is scheduled to be August 12, just four days after facing Real Madrid in the Super Cup in Skopje, Macedonia.

United get back to action a month earlier on July 15 in a contest against LA Galaxy at the StubHub Center, then comes Real Salt Lake in Utah on July 17, Manchester City in Texas on July 20, Real for the first time back in California on July 23, Barcelona in Maryland on July 26, Valerenga in Oslo on July 30, then Sampdoria in Dublin on August 2.

That is some frequency of football and flying and not the ideal preparation for a demanding campaign.

Paul Pogba was a lightning rod for much criticism last season, understandably so given he arrived for a world-record fee and infrequently played to a standard to justify it. But the 24-year-old’s performance in dominating England in Paris illustrated just what he can do when given the ball in a system that suits.

For United, as Mourinho is not shy to admit, midfield can be bypassed if circumstances dictate, thus depriving Pogba the direct skill-strength combat with others that makes him shine. Ryan Giggs feels Pogba is ready to upgrade displays after a full season back in England and that predication is sure to be echoed by Mourinho.

It does appear Real have backed away from the expected bid for David de Gea, but given the years of strong and persistent speculation United would do well to ensure that transpires to be the case.

The Spanish goalkeeper has been the club’s best player of the last five years and for all that Sergio Romero performed well in the Europa League, United would be weaker without De Gea. His departing seemed inevitable towards the end of last season but Keylor Navas’s contributions to Real’s success has lessened demand. Mourinho should hope it stays that way.

It does appear Real have backed away from the expected bid for David de Gea, but given the years of strong and persistent speculation United would do well to ensure that transpires to be the case.

The Spanish goalkeeper has been the club’s best player of the last five years and for all that Sergio Romero performed well in the Europa League, United would be weaker without De Gea. His departing seemed inevitable towards the end of last season but Keylor Navas’s contributions to Real’s success has lessened demand. Mourinho should hope it stays that way.

Wayne Rooney’s anticipated parting is no longer certain but Mourinho will still find use for his captain at certain moments. Even if he stays, Mourinho might wish to address who wears the armband regularly. Rooney will not start and vice-captain Michael Carrick will play sparingly.

Technically Smalling is third in line but Antonio Valencia was skipper for the Europa League final and it may be time to give responsibility to someone who would be an automatic in the first XI.

Step forward Ander Herrera, the fans’ player of the year after a season that made him a firm favourite at Old Trafford. Herrera has the quality but also the belligerence to be a leader and, at 27, has years ahead of him to cement that status.