Europa League action
Gosh, the Europa League has a ton of groups. Borussia Mönchengladbach barely escaped Roma with a 1-1 draw, thanks to a last-minute penalty converted by Lars Stindl. Despite that point, Gladbach is at the bottom of Group J, behind Wolfsberg (not burg — I’ll get to them), Istanbul Basaksehir, and Roma in first place.
Wolfsburg somehow blew a 2-0 lead over Gent (not Genk). Wout Weghorst opened the scoring in the 3rd minute, followed by Joao Victor (24’), but Gent equalized just before halftime and again in the fourth minute of stoppage time, giving Roman Yaremchuk a brace. Despite the result, though, Wolfsburg remains the group-leader.
Eintracht Frankfurt continues to march onward despite selling their entire front line this summer. They beat Standard Liège 2-1, holding on to their lead despite a late surge by Liège. They are behind Arsenal in Group F with 6 points.
Arsenal... Mesut Özil is experiencing something similar to Thomas Müller’s lack of time under Niko Kovac, only it is far, far worse. Unai Emery has not even included the former Germany star in the squad for their past five games. Özil has played just 142 minutes this season. Arsenal’s form without him has been...suboptimal. Nicolas Pépé (remember him?) bailed the Gunners out today though with not one, but two late goals on free kicks, defeating Portuguese team Vitória SC 3-2.
NICOLAS PEPE DOUBLE FREEKICK GOALS #ARSVSC pic.twitter.com/X8aGYN1nD2— Goonernatic (@Goonernatic) October 24, 2019
You make me laugh... pic.twitter.com/DohUXm3oSH— Mesut Özil (@MesutOzil1088) October 23, 2019
Celtic beat Lazio 2-1 at home, and I’m glad they did, because Lazio’s ultras paraded through Glasgow dressed in black and giving Nazi salutes before the game. What world are we living in?
And last and probably least, Sevilla beat Dudelange 3-0in the “Group of funny names,” cementing their 9-point lead.
AS Roma to compete with Bayern Munich, PSG, and Manchester United for Schalke’s goalkeeper! (Calciomercato)
Alexander Nübel is currently a hot topic among lots of football clubs. The current Schalke captain is running out of contract next summer and he still hasn’t decided whether he will stay in Gelsenkirchen or leave for some other club. According to Calciomercato, the latest team that has shown interest in the keeper is Roma! Since they sold Alisson Becker to Liverpool, they have had issues with their goalkeepers.
Nübel could represent a great long-term solution, as he is labeled as one of the most talented goalies in Europe. But the Romans will face heavy competition from Bayern Munich, PSG, and Manchester United and probably more teams. Who doesn’t want to sign a top talent for free?
Zlatan Ibrahimović back in Italy?! (Calciomercato)
The latest sources at Calciomercato are claiming that the Swedish football legend might be heading back to Italy! Few teams are interested in the services of the experienced attacker, such as Napoli, Inter Milan, and Bologna. The transfer to Inter is not so likely because of Mino Raiola’s strained relationship with Inter’s owners, but the transfer to Napoli or Bologna might be realistic.
According to Goal’s sources, Napoli’s president Aurelio De Laurentiis is more than convinced that Zlatan would be a great addition for his team.
He can still do a lot and he can be a driving force for the team. I’m convinced that any coach would love to have him at their disposal.
Zlatan’s contract with LA Galaxy will be running out by the end of December and it will be interesting to see what will the veteran decide on his future!
Löw opens the door a crack for Mats Hummels (Kicker)
A few people have noticed that all of Germany’s central defenders not named Niklas Süle are not very good. Now that Süle’s season is over in consequence of an ACL tear, Germany’s head coach Jogi Löw just might have to take back his decision to drop Mats Hummels from the squad. He was asked about Hummels during a sponsoring event in Wolfsburg and replied that he was “not a topic at the moment.” In contrast to Löw’s former insistence that he would not call up Hummels (and Jerome Boateng and Thomas Müller) again, he conceded that “it is hard to give final prognoses. No idea what will happen next year. In the end, the team’s success takes first place.”
Perhaps Hummels will get a second chance after all. Boateng expected Löw’s decision, if not the moment when it arrived, while no one seems to miss Thomas Müller on the national team given their abundance of attackers — at least for now.
Dortmund shoots down rumored interest in José Mourinho (SI)
Borussia Dortmund’s sporting director Michael Zorc told Sky that Lucien Favre is going nowhere fast — in a good way... or at least not away from Dortmund:
We are not having a coach discussion and are happy to have Lucien Favre. These rumors around Mourinho lack any substance.
That may sound strange given all the discontent surrounding the club, which most recently delivered a stagnant performance in a 2-0 loss to Inter Milan. Dortmund’s stock dropped 2.3% on Thursday. All eyes will be on the team’s performance against Schalke in the Revierderby on Saturday.
It’s GENK, not G(H)ENT, lads: befuddled Liverpudlians with tickets travel to wrong city for Champions League match (Sporza, ESPN)
Just... wow. Liverpool spanked Genk 4-1 on Wednesday, but two loyal fans with tickets took in the action live on the other side of Belgium, in Genk about 150 km or an hour and a half car ride away. They were spotted in the center of Genk trying to locate the stadium a half hour before kickoff — they didn’t think to check ahead of time?
On learning they were on the wrong side of Belgium, the two caught the game at a local bar and posed for a picture:
Twee Liverpool fans zijn gestrand in Gent... En niet in Genk ... Maar morgen kunnen ze ook mooi voetbal zien hier in Gent! ⚽Posted by Radio 2 Oost-Vlaanderen on Wednesday, October 23, 2019
AA Gent got wind of the mixup and invited the two to see their Europa League game against Wolfsburg on Thursday (2-2), but they had already headed back across the Channel. Instead, they’ll be the guests of honor when Gent plays Genk on January 24, 2020.
Harry Maguire forgets his captain duties in Europa League match!
"MAGUIRE!" "HARRY!"— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) October 24, 2019
On his first appearance in European competition, Harry Maguire captains Man Utd...
And he forgot to stick around for the coin toss pic.twitter.com/eanTEx0ccM
“Trust Dr. Martinez”
Javi Martinez stopped in to check on his friend Lucas Hernandez, who underwent a successful operation on Thursday to repair a partial ligament tear in his right ankle. Javi came dressed for the occasion, as you can see. I particularly like the fact he’s checking Hernandez’s leg brace for a pulse with his stethoscope.