WEDNESDAY'S BIG STORIES
Warning Man Utd fans: Sevilla look good
The Europa League kings are on the march again.
After impressively knocking out Roma last week, Sevilla followed through with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Wolves to extend their unbeaten run to 18 matches in all competitions.
Sevilla were not sparkling in their Europa League quarter-final in Duisburg on Tuesday night – far from it.
But they dominated possession, were very well organised defensively – preventing their English opponents from having a shot on target for 77 minutes - and eventually found a way of breaking down a sturdy Wolves defence.
The bookies have a Manchester United vs Inter Milan final involving United players past and present as the most likely scenario in this “festival of football”, but the five-time Europa League winners from Andalusia have the tournament experience and raw ability to put an end to such a prospect in Dusseldorf on Sunday.
"We are going to play against Manchester United in the next match - they're the biggest team in the world but we're going to be prepared for them," Sevilla boss Julen Lopetegui told reporters post-match.
"We're focused on the next game, against a top, historic side, one of the best in the history of the sport who are in great form.
We will give our best as we always do. To play against them will be really tough, but we'll go into it believing we can beat them.
So what now Aaron Ramsey?
Aaron Ramsey’s one year at Juventus has not been spectacular and he now reportedly (Sky Italy) has no future under newly-appointed serial charmer Andrea Pirlo.
The 29-year-old has three years left on his Juventus contract and was used on a rotation basis – making 35 appearances in total - through the elongated Serie A 2019/20 campaign.
The problem: Should he leave Juve right now his value and reputation will take a dent.
Does he return to the Premier League and join a (likely) top-six side or does a desire to keep his affairs foreign while playing a decent level of football need satisfying? If it is the latter then his wage demands will naturally suggest Turkish football.
But we think on the Warm-Up that his 11 years of sound contribution to the Gunners should not be thrown under the proverbial rug and that the Welshman will likely be chomping at the bit to get back to some cold – perhaps even murky - winter nights up at Turf Moor in the not-so-distant future.
Celtic’s season just got really messy
The Scottish Premiership has slowly started to fill our football TV schedules while the Premier League has been away, but unfortunately the nation’s top-flight is already doused in scandal.
Why? Because Celtic’s Boli Bolingoli secretly went on his jollies to Spain last week, disregarded the club’s strict Covid-19 protocols and returned to feature in their 1-1 draw with Kilmarnock last Sunday.
The 25-year-old simultaneously disregarded Scotland’s 14-day quarantine rules and has now put Celtic’s schedule into disarray as their next two Premiership matches, alongside Aberdeen’s, have been postponed by the Scottish authorities. It’s worth nothing that both teams’ second match is against each other.
Celtic boss Neil Lennon is rightly seething. Or in his own words “livid and appalled”.
This quickly follows on from the tale of woe up in Aberdeen, who named and shamed their eight players that went to a bar on Saturday evening following their season opener against Rangers, therefore flouting government Covid guidelines.
What a shambles - and not exactly helpful in Celtic’s case in particular. The Scottish champions already have the almighty slog of kicking off their Champions League campaign from the first qualifying round.
It was on August 12th 1996 that Arsenal sacked manager Bruce Rioch after just 47 matches; the shortest reign of any Highbury boss. Johan Cruyff was the strong favourite to take over.
But a few months passed and Rioch would ultimately be replaced by a relatively unknown Frenchman by the name of Arsene Wenger.
ZEROES & HEROES
No heroes have manifested themselves today just yet, but there’s certainly one big zero this Wednesday morning and his name - in case you have skipped most of this article - is Boli Bolingoli.
There’s a nice piece from Michael Cox in the Athletic pondering whether one-game knockout matches is the future for the Champions League.
In there he makes a simple but sound point in the name of entertainment: “You’re more likely to get surprise results over a shorter number of matches”.
The football hipster’s favourite team Atalanta face Paris Saint-Germain tonight in their Champions League quarter-final tie in Lisbon. We will hopefully get some answers as to whether the Serie A club can walk the walk.
Alternatively if you’re just a bit bored of football or need a break then there’s also the World Snooker Championship semi-finals coming up today with Kyren Wilson v Anthony McGill in the afternoon and Ronnie O’Sullivan v Mark Selby this evening – live on Eurosport and the Eurosport Player.