Neuza Back to Form Part of Historic All-Woman Refereeing Team at World Cup

Neuza Back is about to make FIFA World Cup history…

The Brazilian referee, Mexico’s Karen Diaz and Stephanie Frappart will become the first all-women refereeing team for a men’s World Cup match as they have been named to take charge of the Costa Rica-Germany Group E match on Thursday, FIFA has announced.

Neuza BackFrappart, the fourth official for the Poland-Mexico Group C clash last week, will be the main referee as she reaches another milestone after being the first female to officiate at a men’s World Cup qualifier in March and Champions League match in 2020.

Neuza and Diaz will serve as assistants.

Salima Mukansanga of Rwanda and Yamashita Yoshimi of Japan are also taking part at the tournament in Qatar.

Several European Soccer Clubs Vying for Brazilian Wonderkid Endrick

He’s still a teenager, but Endrick could be playing soccer in Europe soon…

Paris Saint-Germain has made a €45 million offer for the 16-year-old Palmeiras teenager, but the Brazilian team swiftly dismissed the proposal for the forward, according to ESPN Brazil sources.

Endrick, In a meeting with the player’s agents, the Ligue 1 champions said they were willing to extend the negotiations and meet the player’s release clause of €60 million, sources said.

PSG has been in contact with Endrick’s family for some time and have enlisted their Brazilian forward Neymar to reach out to him. The French giants are confident of getting a deal over the line, sources added.

Chelsea is another team that have been following Endrick’s development and showed interest in matching the €60 million price for the Brazilian wonderkid.

Sources have told ESPN that Chelsea has hosted the player and his family at the club’s training ground, with the Blues’ Brazilian defender Thiago Silva invited to meet his compatriot and convince him to move to London.

People close to Endrick tell ESPN that the final decision will rest with the player and that his dream is to play in the Premier League.

“I don’t pay attention to rumors, I know that to play in Europe, I have to perform well here,” Endrick said this week to the French website So Foot.

“I watch the Champions League, the Premier League, LaLiga, the French championship, the Bundesliga. I look to learn from these stars and see what I can imitate, but I don’t have a favorite club.”

Sources told ESPN that Real Madrid and Barcelona also showed interest in acquiring Endrick and may intensify their pursuits in the coming days.

Endrick could only go to Europe in 2024 when he turns 18. His contract with the Brazilian champions runs until 2025.

Since his debut with Palmeiras on October 6, Endrick has scored three goals and provided one assist in six matches, helping the Sao Paulo team win the 2022 Brasileirao title.

Aged 16 years, three months and four days, he became the youngest goal-scorer in Palmeiras history when scoring twice against Athletico Paranaense on October 25.

Alexia Putellas Wins Ballon d’Or Feminin for Second Consecutive Year

Alexia Putellas has earned a place in soccer history…

The 28-year-old Spanish professional footballer and Barcelona midfielder has won the Ballon d’Or Feminin for the second consecutive year, becoming the first woman to win the award twice since it launched in 2018.

Alexia PutellasPutellas was named the best women’s player in the world at the Monday gala in Paris despite being sidelined since June with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. 

She finished ahead of Arsenal‘s Beth Mead and Chelsea‘s Sam Kerr, who were second and third, respectively.

“Without my teammates this would not have been possible,” Putellas said after receiving the award. “I want to thank the staff and the coach and everyone involved at Barcelona.

“I’m very happy to be back here and pleased because a year ago I was able to win this prize and it pushed me to want to be even better.”

Prior to her injury in the summer, Putellas captained Barcelona to a third successive Primera Division title. The Catalan side made history by winning all 30 of their league games throughout the 2021-22 campaign.

She also led Barcelona to success in the Spanish Super Cup and the Copa de la Reina to complete a domestic treble, although they came up short in the Champions League.

Putellas’ strike in the final was not enough to stop French side Lyon from beating Barcelona 3-1 in Turin.

However, after scoring 11 goals in the Champions League, more than any other player in the competition, Putellas was later named UEFA Women’s Player of the Year ahead of Mead and Lena Oberdorf.

In addition to those 11 goals in Europe, she scored 18 league goals from midfield, four in the Copa de la Reina and one in the Super Cup.

Putellas had hoped success would follow for Spain in the summer, but she tore her left ACL in training with the national team ahead of the European Championship in England.

She has not played since and is expected to remain out of action for several more months.

Last year, Putellas became the first Spanish winner of a Ballon d’Or since Luis Suarez in 1960. She was also named the Best FIFA Women’s Player.

The Ballon d’Or Feminin was launched in 2018 when it was won by Lyon’s Ada HegerbergMegan Rapinoe won it the following year before it was suspended in 2020 because of the pandemic.

Fernando Hierro Named Sporting Director of Liga MX’s Chivas

Fernando Hierro is headed to Mexico…

The 54-year-old Spanish former soccer player and former Spain sporting director and manager has been named the new sporting director of Liga MX‘s Chivas.

Fernando Hierro Monday’s announcement comes less than a week after previous sporting director Ricardo Pelaez was fired and a day after the dismissal of manager Ricardo Cadena.

With Hierro in charge, Chivas’ new leadership will have a few months to prepare for the upcoming 2023 Clausura season.

“It’s a fantastic challenge,” Hierro said. “It’s a different project, a project that carries many millions of Mexicans in its soul.”

Well known for only using players with Mexican heritage, Chivas have a unique setup that relies on domestic talent.

Chivas has a massive following and the second-most Liga MX championships (12) in history, but have not reached a Liga MX final since winning the title in 2017.

Hierro will seek to revive the slumbering giants and his first major task will be bringing in a manager that can help with the process.

“We’re looking for a coach that knows how to work with young people, who knows the league or who has been working closely with the league, also, who has trained in the big leagues in Europe,” Hierro said about the managerial search. “Those are the characteristics we have in mind that the person must have.”

Chivas struggled to just five wins in the 2022 Apertura season as they limp into the play-in round of the playoffs with a ninth-place finish.

Against Puebla on October 9 in the first round of the postseason, Chivas finished with a 1-1 draw in regulation time before being knocked out 5-4 in an ensuing penalty shootout, denying them a place in the final eight of the Liguilla. Cadena and Pelaez were then fired last week.

Before taking over Chivas, Hierro had two previous stints with the Spanish Football Federation as sporting director from 2007-11 and 2017-18. In 2016-17, he managed Real Oviedo.

In the 2018 World Cup, the former Real Madrid player took charge as manager of Spain, stepping in at the final moment when Julen Lopetegui was fired before the tournament.

He made 601 appearances for Real Madrid during an 18-year playing career which saw him win three Champions League titles and five LaLiga titles. He also won 89 caps as a player for Spain.

Thiago Silva Hints at Future AC Milan Coaching Job, But Not Before Clarifying Chelsea Future

Thiago Silva is hinting at future coaching career…

The 38-year-old Brazilian professional footballer has said he would consider managing AC Milan one day. But right now he’s more concerned about his Chelsea future.

Thiago SilvaSilva’s contract expires at the end of the season and it is unclear whether Silva will be offered the chance to extend his stay after moving to Stamford Bridge on a free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain in 2020.

Silva previously spent three years at AC Milan between 2009 and 2012, where he won one Serie A title and an Italian Super Cup.

Speaking on Monday ahead of Chelsea’s Champions League clash against the Rossoneri, the centerback was asked about a possible return to San Siro and said: “I can tell you that I already made my history here at AC Milan, so I believe this is not the case at the moment.

“If it could happen at any case, it would have been before me joining Chelsea. But I don’t know about the future. Who knows what will happen in the future, we’ll have to see. But I am very happy now to be at Chelsea, a very big club, great professionals. In the future, we will see. Maybe the coach? Who knows?”

New head coach Graham Potter suggested “the decision is Thiago’s” over whether he signs a new deal with Chelsea. Potter has started the Brazil international in three of his four matches since succeeding Thomas Tuchel as head coach.

“It is probably not the right time to talk about new contracts,” Silva added. “What I can tell you is that the most important thing for me now is to continue playing at a high level and helping the team achieve the best possible results.

“For sure there will be the time where we need to talk. It could be before the World Cup or after the World Cup.

“Of course I need to know whether I will have a new contract with Chelsea, also for my family arrangements. It is not easy if I don’t have a new contract — I will have to decide what to do. I must involve my family. This is an important decision and so we will see what will happen.”

Potter also revealed that N’Golo Kante has suffered a fresh setback in his bid to recover from a hamstring problem and will miss Tuesday’s game against Milan.

Kante has not featured since the Blues’ 2-2 draw against Tottenham Hotspur on August 14.

“[On] N’Golo, we’re just waiting,” Potter said. “He had a reaction in training. So we’re just waiting for the news of that.

“It’s not ideal. It’s disappointing for him and us, but we have to wait and see the extent of it and go from there.”

Kante’s fitness is also a concern for France ahead of the World Cup in Qatar, which starts on November 20 and will see Didier Deschamps‘ defending champions compete against Australia, Denmark and Tunisia in Group D.

Lionel Messi Makes Champions League History with Goal vs. Benfica

Lionel Messi has set yet another record…

The 35-year-old Argentine professional futbol star hit a sublime opening goal but Paris Saint-Germain were held to a 1-1 draw by Benfica in their Champions League clash at the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon on Wednesday.

Lionel Messi Messi opened the scoring midway through the first half after link-up play involving Kylian Mbappe and Neymar before a trademark curling left-foot finish from the edge of the box.

The goal meant Messi became the first player in Champions League history to score goals against 40 different opponents.

But the lead did not last long with Benfica hitting back in the 41st minute when an inviting in-swinging cross from Enzo Fernandez touched off PSG defender Danilo and into the net.

The result means PSG and Benfica remain level on points at the top of Group H after three matches. The two teams will meet again in Paris on Tuesday. Juventus sit in third on three points after they got their first win of the competition at point-less Maccabi Haifa.

Benfica had begun Wednesday’s encounter the better team, with their press disturbing PSG’s rhythm. On multiple occasions, Gianluigi Donnarumma was called into action to keep efforts from the home side at bay.

But a moment of brilliance from Messi looked to have turned the game on its head.

All three of PSG’s star attacking trio were involved. Messi drove in from the right and found Mbappe who laid it off to Neymar before the Brazilian put it back into Messi’s path for a sumptuous finish.

Messi has now scored in six successive games for club and country, the first time he has done so in nearly four years.

PSG looked set to take control but some less than resolute defending gave Benfica a chance to draw level. There was an element of fortune, too, about the equalizer as Fernandez’s cross appeared to miss the head of Goncalo Ramos before glancing off the chest of Danilo and beating Donnarumma.

The French champions came out for the second half with a renewed intensity and several times came close to going back in front. Neymar clipped the crossbar with a spectacular overhead kick while Achraf Hakimi and Mbappe both forced smart saves from Odysseas Vlachodimos in the Benfica goal.

But Donnarumma had to be alert to deny Rafa Silva from close range following a surging run in the final 10 minutes.

Messi was substituted in the 81th minute. PSG coach Christophe Galtier indicated that the change for Pablo Sarabia only took place because Messi was tired.

“He signaled that he wanted to come off. On the final sprint, he felt tired. He came off as he was tired and a fresher teammate was a much better option at that moment,” Galtier said to RMC Sport after the game.

Ultimately both sides are unlikely to be too disappointed with a point each.

Bayer Leverkusen Considering Xabi Alonso for Manager Role

Xabi Alonso may be headed to Germany…

Bayer Leverkusen is considering firing current manager Gerardo Seoane and looking to appoint the 40-year-old Spanish football manager and former professional player as his replacement, according to ESPN.

Xabi AlonsoSeoane will be in charge for Leverkusen’s Champions League Group B game with FC Porto on Tuesday, but his future is uncertain after a poor start to the Bundesliga season with the club sitting 17th after picking up five points from eight games.

Alonso has been out of work since leaving Real Sociedad B in May after a successful three years in charge.

Sources told ESPN that he would welcome the challenge of turning around Leverkusen’s season.

Seoane managed Leverkusen to a third-place finish in the Bundesliga in his debut campaign last year, qualifying for the Champions League, but they have struggled so far this season.

Sources told ESPN that Alonso has emerged as a leading candidate to replace Seoane over the last week.

Germany’s Sport1 reported that Leverkusen had contacted Thomas Tuchel, who was sacked by Chelsea last month, but the former Borussia Dortmund coach turned down the approach.

Alonso is highly rated as a managerial prospect. He starred as a player for Real SociedadLiverpoolReal Madrid and Bayern Munich before retiring in 2017.

He began his coaching career with Real Madrid’s academy before taking over Sociedad’s B team in 2019, leading them to promotion to the Second Division in 2021 for the first time in 60 years before departing this summer.

Sociedad had been keen to keep him on board as a potential future first-team manager, but the performance of Imanol Alguacil in the role meant that was not an option in the short-term, and Alonso preferred to seek a new opportunity.

Marcelo Signs with Greece’s Olympiakos

Marcelo has a new side…

The 34-year-old Brazilian professional soccer player has signed with Olympiakos after leaving European champions Real Madrid in the summer, the Greek champions have announced.

Marcelo

The club did not reveal the details of his contract but Greek media reported that the former Brazil international signed a one-year deal with an option for another year. He has also been registered to play in the Europa League campaign.

Marcelo, who made 546 appearances for Real Madrid since joining in 2007, left at the end of last season as the most decorated player in the club’s 120-year history with 25 trophies — including five Champions League titles.

“We’ve spoken and we’ve decided it’s best like that,” Marcelo said in confirming his exit after being an unused substitute in May’s Champions League final victory over Liverpool. “I’ve already done everything I had to do at Madrid. I’ve been lucky to be here for 15 and a half years at the best club in the world.”

Marcelo had dismissed retirement and wanted to continue playing in Europe instead of returning to Brazil.

Alexia Putellas Wins UEFA Women’s Player of the Year Award

Alexia Putellas is this year’s soccer star…

The 28-year-old Spanish professional footballer and Barcelona midfielder has won the UEFA Women’s Player of the Year award, beating England’s Beth Mead and Germany’s Lena Oberdorf to the top prize, while England head coach Sarina Wiegman was crowned coach of the year.

Alexia PutellasPutellas, who won award last year along with the Ballon d’Or Feminin, netted 34 goals for Barca last season as the club won all the domestic trophies and reached the Champions League final.

However, Putellas did not play at the Women’s Euro 2022 after tearing her knee ligaments in training and faced stiff competition in Mead, who won player of the tournament as well as finishing top scorer with six goals.

Meanwhile, Mead’s international boss Wiegman picked up another award on Thursday as she won coach of the year for her role in guiding England to their first major title in 56 years.

“It’s really nice to receive this great award, I’m very honored and humbled,” she said.

“This award is really for everyone involved with the England team, the FA, the staff and of course, most of all, the players. Thank you very much.”

The Football Association is planning to hold contract talks with Wiegman, who has been in the role since September 2021, over a contract extension as England hope to extend their success at next summer’s Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Rafael Marquez Returning to FC Barcelona as Barca Atletic’s Coach

Rafael Marquez is returning to Camp Nou

The 43-year-old Mexican former-professional-footballer-turned-coach will replace Sergi Barjuan as coach of Barcelona‘s second team, Barca Atletic, according to ESPN.

Rafael Marquez, Barca has announced that Barjuan would not remain in the role after missing out on promotion into the second-tier of Spanish football last season.

Marquez, as first reported by Relevo, will take over, with “just the contract left to be signed” before an official announcement, according to ESPN’s sources.

Marquez was one of the first signings of Joan Laporta‘s first spell as Barca president in 2003 and went on to win two Champions Leagues with the club.

Laporta and Marquez have maintained a good relationship ever since and the Barca chief first attempted to bring him back to Camp Nou last summer.

He had been earmarked to take over the Under-19 team, but a deal fell through at the last minute due to his presence on a list in the United States linking him to drug trafficking.

The sanctions imposed by the U.S. Treasury Department could have had a knock-on effect for Barca in terms of their commercial activity in the United States.

However, Marquez, who always maintained his innocence, was removed from the list last September, finally teeing up his return to Barca.

It will be his second coaching job in Spain following a fleeting spell working as the manager of Alcala de Madrid‘s U16 side.

Barca Atletic play in the third tier of Spanish football and act as the bridge between the youth academy and the first team.

GaviNico Gonzalez and Ronald Araujo are among the players who have recently made the jump from the second team to the Xavi Hernandez‘s first-team squad.