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Eden Hazard reviews debut Real Madrid season and how he’ll use break enforced by coronavirus pandemic

Eden Hazard admits his first season at Real Madrid has been “bad” but insists he will prove his worth once fully fit.

The Belgian has endured an injury-ravaged debut campaign since a move from Chelsea for £90 million, which could rise to £130m.

The 29-year-old has made just 15 appearances, scoring once and assisting five times.

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“My first season at Madrid has been bad but not all of it,” Hazard told RTBF.

“It’s been a season of adaptation. I’ll be judged on the second one.”

Hazard is now focused on using the break enforced by the coronavirus pandemic to get himself fit. 

“It’s up to me to be in good shape next year. The group is good; it’s been a great experience for me. I still have four years on my contract,” Hazard added.

“We’ll have another year in 2021, which is a shame, but my ankle will allow me to get back in shape.

“I think it’s difficult for the fans because they want to see an international tournament every summer, which is a shame for them. But I also think there are priorities in life.”

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Football stars want to play season to a finish amid coronavirus insists Begovic

Players are calling on football’s authorities to find a solution to get the season finished.

Bournemouth goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, currently on loan at AC Milan, spoke up for the feeling of many who insist the Premier League and every league across Europe should not be abandoned.

That is also the feeling in Premier League dressing rooms up and down the country with players wanting to carry on and finish their domestic campaigns even if it takes months.

The majority of Europe’s top leagues have suspended their seasons.

And Premier League bosses will meet on Thursday to discuss contingency plans with Euro 2020 expected to be postponed until next summer following a UEFA crisis meeting tomorrow.

West Ham vice-chair Karren Brady sparked fury at the weekend when she called for the English season to be declared “null and void”.

And Begovic insists it is vital the season is decided “on the pitch” whenever the suspension is lifted.

He said: “There has to be a solution and hopefully the decision makers will see it that way.

“We have to finish the season, in my opinion. It’s going to be a different way but there’s got to be a positive way to end all of this.

“First and foremost we have to shut everything down, get this virus under control, get everyone fit and healthy and I think the sooner everything gets shut down, the sooner this will all be over.

“Then it’s just a way of trying to fit in all of the games. I really don’t like it when people talk about cancelling, I don’t like behind closed doors because, ultimately, we’re competitors. The fans want to see it out on the pitch.

“There has to be a way of deciding things on the pitch – promotion, relegation, Champions League places, championships and that’s the way we have to do it.

“We could have a football feast. Six or seven weeks of games every night and rekindling the fun of the game. It’s a difficult time for everyone, especially here in Italy and I think there’s a way football can really empower everything and bring joy back to the people.”

The 20 Premier League clubs will discuss playing behind closed doors, finishing the season early with potentially no relegation and even the league going up to 22 clubs.

Begovic, who has already played one game behind closed doors, said: “I don’t think it’s a solution. It’s a collective thing. People lose out on the experience – players, staff and, of course, the fans. It’s a religion, it’s a culture, it’s a way of life.

“It was strange playing behind closed doors. Playing in the San Siro when it’s empty, you are used to having the fans, when you’re the home team you get a crowd advantage, people push you and support you.

“It was so quiet. The buzz wasn’t there, the adrenalin wasn’t there and it definitely hurt as the home team. We were talking to the players on the other team and it wasn’t any fun either.

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Jordi Alba orders Barcelona fans to show more respect after whistles following El Clasico defeat

Jordi Alba has demanded Barcelona fans show the team more respect after the hostile reception for the La Liga champions following last week’s defeat in El Clasico.

Real Madrid inflicted a 2-0 defeat on the Blaugrana at the Bernabeu to regain top spot.

And the Nou Camp faithful were not shy in showing their dissatisfaction with their side throughout the game against Real Sociedad on Saturday.

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Alba was so incensed that after appearing to make it 2-0 in stoppage time, following Lionel Messi’s opener, he responded to the supporters.

A cupped-ear celebration was then cut short after the linesman’s flag ruled out the effort, meaning Quique Setien’s side were forced to settle for a 1-0 victory.

“No one likes to play poorly or how we’re playing at the moment, but I don’t like it when in the 15th minute with the score goalless there are whistles,” Alba told reporters.

“No one likes it when the fans go against you, especially in your own stadium. Our attitude is good and all the players are giving everything out on the pitch. I’m not going to hide. Just as I respect everyone, they also have to respect me.

“I respect Barca fans a lot. Even falling [early] in the Champions League [in recent seasons], they have stuck with the team.

“It’s not easy when things are not coming off, but we have to live with that at the end of the day. We know that if we’re not at our best, it’s going to be hard. We have to be strong mentally to turn the situation around.”

Barcelona fans are also upset with president Josep Maria Bartomeu, with white handkerchiefs waved in protest to the way he is running the club currently.

Setien’s No 2 Eder Sarabia also received a hot reception for reportedly screaming expletives throughout El Clasico, but Alba rejected reports that the players were upset with the coach. 

“It’s as if Sarabia killed someone,” said the Spain international. “Can the coaching staff not express themselves as they want? The comments he made are the most normal in the world.

“He lives the game intensely, he didn’t show a lack of respect to anyone. I would have done the same in his position — or worse. We’re not annoyed, not at all.”

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Euro 2020 preview: Six of the best European Championship goals

Gazza’s wondergoal against Scotland, Van Basten’s stunning volley and Balotelli’s blaster… here are the SIX best goals in European Championship history ahead of Euro 2020 this summer

  •  Euro 2020 is celebrating the tournament’s 60th anniversary this summer
  •  Over the years there have been some incredible goals which go down in history
  •  SportsMail picks six of the best goals from the tournament’s long history
  • Everything you need to know for the 2020 UEFA European Championship 

The European Championships have been treated so some great goals over the years. 

From golden goals to clever chips to crashing volleys, there is not a competition around that can rival the quality of goals scored in the Euros. 

With Euro 2020 celebrating the 60th anniversary of the summer tournament, Sportsmail decided to pick out six of the best goals ever scored in European Championship history.

Marco Van Basten volley vs USSR (Euro 1998) 

https://youtube.com/watch?v=pFMbqgTGhB4%3Frel%3D0%26showinfo%3D1

Dutch forward Marco Van Basten was always going to have a say in the Euro 1998 final against the Soviet Union – but nobody expected this. 

The 23-year-old had been in superb form in the run-up to the final, scoring a hat-trick against England in the group stage, and netted the winner against West Germany in the semi-final. 

 And after setting up Ruud Guillit’s opening goal in the final, Arnold Murhen floated a desperately looking ball into the penalty area after 54 minutes.  

Van Basten watched the ball drop towards his foot and fired an unstoppable strike into the far corner of the net from an almost-impossible angle. 

Holland won the final 2-0 and that goal was voted just outside the top 20 in Channel 4’s 100 Greatest Sporting Moments of all time. 

Paul Gascoigne’s solo goal vs Scotland (Euro 1996)

Picture the scene. England vs Scotland. Wembley. The sun beaming down on a electric atmosphere with England under pressure. 

The Three Lions were struggling to see off a robust Scotland side in a must-win game for the host nation. Alan Shearer put England in front early on in the second-half but that lead was put under serious threat when Scotland were awarded a penalty.

Gary McAllister’s effort hit David Seaman in the England goal and 90 seconds later, the ball was in the Scotland net through an exquisite piece of skill. 

The ball found its way to Paul Gascoigne, who hoisted the ball over Colin Hendry before smashing the ball home in a perfect goalscoring move. 

A memorable dentist chair celebration followed and that goal signalled the start of England’s momentum throughout the tournament.

Mario Balotelli’s strike vs Germany (Euro 2012) 

When Italy came up against Germany in the Euro 2012 semi-final, not many gave the Azzurri a chance in hell against their clinical opposition. 

The Italians were a far cry from the side that won the World Cup six years earlier, and with the likes of Mesut Ozil, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Lukas Podolski and Manuel Neuer in the prime of their careers, the pre-match prediction was a comfortable German victory.

But Cesare Prandelli’s men refused to follow the script. Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli headed the four-time World Cup winners in front from Antonio Cassano’s cross, but that goal was ugly compared to his second. 

Ricardo Montolivo’s hopeful ball forward fell into the path of Balotelli, who muscled a defender out of the way to fire an unstoppable ball past Neuer. 

His celebration – ripping his shirt off and standing motionless as his Italian teammates mobbed him – will live longer in the memory than Italy’s 2-1 win that day.

Davor Suker’s chip vs Denmark (Euro 1996)

Denmark in the 90s were unreal. They went into Euro ’96 as defending European champions. They also had the best goalkeeper in the world at that time in Peter Schmeichel.

But the Manchester United legend could only stand and watch as Croatia striker Davor Suker caught him red-faced with one single chip. 

With Croatia leading Denmark 2-0 in the closing moments of their group stage encouter, Suker picked the ball up near the left-hand side of the penalty area, saw Schmeichel a few meters off the line and the former Arsenal man chipped the ball over him like he wasn’t even there. 

Croatia would go out in the quarter-finals to eventual winners Germany, but that goal still went down in history…

Karel Poborsky’s scoop vs Portugal (Euro 1996)

 …until the quarter-finals of the same tournament when Karel Poborsky copied his effort, and perhaps even bettered it. 

 In the Czech Republic’s last eight tie against Portugal at Villa Park, the Slavia Prague midfielder settled the tie in exquisite fashion, jinking past a few recovering Portuguese defenders and scooping underneath the ball leaving Vitor Baia absolutely stranded. 

The Czechs made it all the final to the final in Euro ’96 but, like Suker’s Croatia, fell at the hands of Germany whilst attempting the final hurdle. 

However, Poborsky’s goal, which earned the appropriate title of ‘the Poborsky lob’, was named Goal of the Tournament.

David Trezeguet’s Golden Goal vs Italy (Euro 2000)

https://youtube.com/watch?v=dcrQs1GuAUo%3Frel%3D0%26showinfo%3D1

Extra-time was always tense during the days of the ‘golden goal’ award. In the Euro 2000 final, David Trezeguet put himself in French folklore withe a stunning extra-time goal to end a gripping extra-time battle with Italy.

After France and Italy drew 1-1 in extra-time, Robert Pires found some energy to burst down the left-hand side and cut the ball back to Trezeguet on the edge of the area.

Pires’ ball to the French striker wasn’t great, but the athleticism he used to generate a shot on target was phenomenal.

Not as phenomenal as the technique, however, as Trezeguet fired a shot high into the Italian net to give France a precious World Cup-Euros double in the space of two years. 




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How Euro 2020 and Olympics could see Mbappe go WITHOUT summer break

How Kylian Mbappe and other stars could go the entire summer WITHOUT a break as Euro 2020 and the Olympic Games take centre stage before instant return of domestic campaigns

  • Kylian Mbappe wishes to compete for France at Euro 2020 and at the Olympics
  • But in doing so the France star could go entire summer without a break
  • Euro 2020 gets underway two weeks after Champions League final
  • Many domestic seasons in Europe kick-off on same weekend as gold medal final
  • France, Germany, Spain and Romania may have to juggle squads this summer 

For many players a hard fought season will end in the middle of May and they can head off into the summer relaxed knowing they won’t have to kick a ball in anger again for just under three months.

Of course pre-season ensures it won’t all be putting your feet up on a private beach in that time but they will certainly have it easier than a select few young European stars who will be in high demand across the summer.

It will be a busy few months for football, with Euro 2020 and all its preparations immediately taking the focus once the domestic campaigns end. But this year the European Championship will also be followed by the Olympics in Tokyo.

The main event on the football calendar this summer is the European Championship

The Euros will get underway two weeks after the Champions League final in Istanbul

As well as the Euros, France, Germany and Spain have all qualified for the Games which will feature squads of youngsters born in 1997 or later plus three over age players.

Romania could book a place at Euro 2020 if they win March play-offs against Iceland and Bulgaria or Hungary, but they too have qualified for the Olympics. 

The gold medal final takes place around the start of the 2020-21 domestic seasons, and across four nations there are players who are in danger of going through the entire summer without a break.

While the Olympic teams can still feature three players over the age of 23, the squads have yet to be picked.

Either way there are already some highly rated stars around who could head into the summer with goals on becoming European champions and Olympic gold medallists as apposed to relaxing with a pina colada on a pedalo for a few weeks.

The Olympic football tournament follows just 11 days after the conclusion of Euro 2020

France 

Perhaps the biggest casualties come from France, who with Kylian Mbappe have a star involved in a club vs country row.

Having already won the World Cup, Mbappe will now be keen to add the European Championship to his CV as a key member of Didier Deschamps’ team.

However, the Paris Saint-Germain forward is also eligible for the Olympics and has pledged a desire to travel to Tokyo. 

From the end of the current season to the start of the next, Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe could go the entire summer without a break

Mbappe will be key to France at Euro 2020 and also wants to feature at the Olympics in Tokyo

From PSG’s perspective they will not want one of their star forwards playing continuously throughout the summer and from their perspective you can understand why when you look at Mbappe’s potential schedule.

The French top flight ends on May 23, but should PSG make the Champions League final then Mbappe’s commitments with his club will extend to May 30 for the Istanbul showdown. 

From there, preparation immediately begins for Euro 2020 with France’s first warm up game coming just over a week later against Croatia before they get their campaign underway on June 16 against Germany.

As world champions, there is a fair chance Les Bleus could go all the way to the Wembley final on July 12 which takes place just 11 days before the Olympic football tournament kicks off.


Dayot Upamecano (left) and Matteo Guendouzi could also feature in both for France

Should a very talented French squad reach the gold medal final on August 8, it will coincide with the return of domestic football, with the 2020-21 Ligue Un campaign getting underway on the same day.

A couple of other French stars have similar problems, including Arsenal’s Matteo Guendouzi. He is still in Premier League action up until May 17, while the 2020-21 top flight campaign in England also gets underway on August 8.

A third potential Olympic star in the highly rated RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano has slightly more wiggle room. Leipzig’s campaign is unlikely to end with a Champions League final and having not yet been capped at senior level he could just be saved for the Olympics.

Spain 

Upamecano’s team-mate at Leipzig Dani Olmo may also be in a position where he can forget packing the swim shorts and flip-flops.

Fewer than three weeks separate the end of the Bundesliga and Spain’s first warm up game for Euro 2020 when they take on Portugal on June 5, with an opener against Sweden coming 10 days later.

Unlike Upamecano, Olmo has now been capped at senior level earning his solitary international appearance in the previous round of international matches back in November when he came off the bench to score against Malta.

The 21-year-old appears to be part of Spain’s future but Euro 2020 could come too soon and Luis Enrique may feel the attacking midfielder’s interests rely on concentrating solely for the Olympics.

RB Leipzig’s Dani Olmo broke into the Spain squad towards the end of 2019

Germany

Unlike France, much of Germany’s stars set to compete at Euro 2020 feature players who can only feature as one of three designated over-23 players and as such are unlikely to make the Tokyo trip.

One exception comes in the form of Bayer Leverkusen starlet Kai Havertz who having already earned seven caps is next in line to break into Joachim Low’s first team.

Another who also qualifies for both squads is Schalke’s Suat Serdar who has three caps. 

Bayer Leverkusen starlet Kai Havertz is one of Germany’s brightest young stars emerging

Schalke’s Suar Serdar shares a discussion with Germany boss Joachim Low

A problem for Germany is the Europa League final, which Leverkusen could still reach, is just four days before their Euro 2020 warm up match with Switzerland.

Havertz will likely not be expected to feature in the warm up contest though and even then, Leverkusen are outsiders to reach the final. Along with Serdar, whose Schalke side are not in Europe, their season is likely to end on May 16 and that comes exactly one month before Germany’s Euro 2020 opener against France.

Also favouring the German based players is the later start date for the 2020-21 Bundesliga campaign which with a kick off of August 21 gives players an extra two weeks off following the gold medal final. Not much but it’s better than nothing.

FOOTBALL SUMMER SCHEDULE

Club football end of season dates

May 16: Bundesliga

May 17: Premier League

May 17: Scottish Premiership

May 23: Ligue 1

May 27: Europa League final

May 30: Champions League final  

Euro 2020 dates

May 31 – June 8: Warm up games

June 14 – 16: First Euro 2020 matches

July 12: Euro 2020 final

Olympic dates

July 23: First Olympic group matches

August 8: Gold medal final

Club football new season start dates

August 1: Scottish Premiership

August 8: Premier League

August 8: Ligue 1

August 21: Bundesliga

Romania

The player who right now who has an ‘all or nothing’ summer ahead of him is Ianis Hagi, who could have anything from a summer of continuous football to as little as three matches in Japan.

But the Rangers star’s uncertainties stretch further, as he is only on loan at Ibrox. Despite shining for Steven Gerrard’s side there is no deal in place to remain there beyond the summer when he is due to return to parent club Genk.

With 10 caps since 2018 he would almost certainly feature in the Romania squad should they reach Euro 2020, but they will have to win two play-offs first to book their spot.

Ianis Hagi could make a permanent move to Rangers over the summer following a loan spell

Rangers’ season ends on May 17, or 10 days later should they reach the Europa League final. Regardless whether they qualify for their first major tournament in 20 years, Romania will take on England in a June 7 friendly.

Should Romania qualify, their first game would come a week later against Austria. Whether Romania head for an early exit or reach the latter stages, the rare opportunity of also taking part in an Olympic campaign might be too tempting to turn down for the forward who is the son of the legendary Gheorghe Hagi.

This will be Romania’s first Olympic Games since 1964 – also held in Tokyo – and the once in a lifetime opportunity to grab gold may be something the 21-year-old does not want to pass up.

Rangers though, should they act on their option to buy, could be set to miss out most. If Hagi features at the Olympics, he will likely play in all three group games which all come within a week before the start of the 2020-21 Scottish Premiership season.

But the son of the legendary Gheorghe Hagi could be set for a busy summer with Romania

 

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