Frank de Boer believes he has inherited a Netherlands squad that is even better than the one that reached the World Cup final a decade ago. 

The new Oranje coach, confirmed as Ronald Koeman's successor, was on Bert van Marwijk's coaching staff at the 2010 World Cup when Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder et al made the final, only to be beaten by Spain after extra time. 

The Netherlands missed out on qualification for the previous World Cup in 2018 - having also been absent from Euro 2016 - but De Boer is bullish about the future having signed a two-year contract that will take in next year's delayed European Championship and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. 

"This selection is perhaps even more talented than that of 2010," De Boer told reporters. 

"I do see similarities with that group. Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben were in top form, we had Rafael van der Vaart and also defensively it was good with the block - Mark van Bommel [and] Nigel de Jong. Very solid, and so does the current selection. There is a lot of potential, especially in terms of width." 

The Netherlands were at a low ebb when Koeman took over in February 2018 but he led them to the Nations League final and guided them to Euro 2020 - a competition that has been postponed until next year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Koeman will not be in charge for that having left to take over at Barcelona, though former Ajax, Inter, Crystal Palace and Atlanta United coach De Boer accepts he shares similarities with his predecessor. 

"When the rumours about a possible departure of Koeman to Barcelona came, I had a brief talk with my agent about the Dutch national team, just to see how I might feel about that," De Boer added. 

"I am not Ronald Koeman 2.0, but there are of course some similarities. I do want to follow the path of his method." 

De Boer made 112 appearances for his country and won four straight Eredivisie titles with Ajax at the start of his coaching career. 

However, he has failed to emulate that success in his stops with Inter, Palace and MLS side Atlanta, so his appointment as coach of the national team has raised eyebrows. 

"It doesn't interest me whether I was the first, second or sixth choice for the Oranje, this job is very honourable and if I am asked to do this job, I like to do this job," De Boer said. 

"You always have supporters and opponents and you always hear the opponents loudest. But I think there is also a very large group of people who are very satisfied.  

"I hope that I will not betray the confidence of the KNVB [Royal Dutch Football Association] and the supporters."

Wales boss Ryan Giggs and defender Neco Williams are confident they can cause an upset against England next month despite struggling to overcome Bulgaria on Sunday.

Liverpool full-back Williams scored the winning goal against Bulgaria, nodding in deep into stoppage time to secure Wales a second Nations League win from as many games.

But it was otherwise a poor performance as Wales struggled for creativity and rarely caused the Bulgaria defence huge issues.

Even though Wales failed to impress against a Bulgaria side that offered very little, Giggs and Williams both feel they could do some damage to the Three Lions in October when the two teams tussle in a friendly at Wembley.

"Yeah, we've got a lot of quality," Giggs told reporters. "England have shown what a quality team they are with strength-in-depth, but we're getting there as well, with the strength-in-depth especially.

"We'll go into every game thinking we've got a chance."

Williams added: "That's going to be a great game. With the quality we have in this team we're going to prove we're capable of beating them.

"I'm sure it's going to be a great game. All the boys are excited and can't wait for the game."

It was the second successive 1-0 win for Wales on Sunday, both of which were secured with late winners.

Giggs was part of a Manchester United team that had a reputation for such dramatic victories, and he is glad to see a similar attitude in his Wales team.

He said: "It is a great trait to have. We keep going. It has an effect on the opposition if you keep scoring late goals, and it gives you belief to keep going until the end, which is what we did.

"It was our best move of the game and it came in the last minute. You need that desire, quality and fitness.

"I was really proud of the players how they kept going. Those experiences of going to the last minute, you can draw upon if you are not playing well and if have to grind results out in the future."

Wales have six points from two matches in Nations League Group B4 and sit at the top of the table.

Clubs will not be obliged to release their players for duty in September's international window if it will mean a period of quarantine.

FIFA has revised its rules after consultation with UEFA, whose member associations are involved in next month's international friendlies and Nations League matches.

With the COVID-19 crisis still affecting daily life across the planet, football's governing body has introduced temporary measures to help to reduce the health risk to players and impact on clubs.

As such, clubs will not have to release their players to represent their countries if it would involve a mandatory period of self-isolation of at least five days.

That applies whether the period of quarantine would take place in the country of origin or arrival.

"In light of the recent evolution of the coronavirus pandemic, the Bureau of the FIFA Council has unanimously decided to temporarily adapt the rules concerning the release of players during the upcoming September international window, which is to be played only by UEFA member associations," read a statement.

"The situation of the pandemic is rapidly evolving across the world and many national governments have again implemented travel and immigration restrictions due to a renewed increase in COVID-19 infections.

"Some of these measures directly impact international competition, such as mandatory periods of quarantine or self-isolation and travel restrictions.

"As a result, in order to ensure that the well-being and health of all individuals involved in international competition is respected, the Bureau of the FIFA Council has, after consultation with UEFA, decided that the general rules which normally oblige clubs to release players for national team matches should not apply in the following instances:

- there is a mandatory period of quarantine or self-isolation of at least five days upon arrival at:
- the location of the club which has an obligation to release the player to an association team; or
- the location where a representative team match is scheduled to take place;
- there is a travel restriction to or from either location (a. or b. above); and
- no specific exemption from the relevant authorities relating to the above decisions has been granted to players of a representative team.

"Furthermore, all participants in matches during international windows must abide by the health and safety protocols established by the relevant competition organiser."

The revised measures apply from August 31 to September 8 for men and from September 14 to 22 for women.

Spain have announced they will travel to Portugal for a friendly on October 7. 

The fixture between the neighbouring countries will be staged in Lisbon ahead of both featuring in Nations League games during the October international window. 

Luis Enrique's squad are scheduled to host Switzerland on October 10 before travelling to Ukraine three days later - Germany are the other team in Group 4. 

Defending champions Portugal, meanwhile, are away to France on October 11, followed by a home game against Sweden.

Spain are also set for friendly duty against the Netherlands in November, with that meeting originally set to take place in March before the coronavirus pandemic caused major changes to the schedule.

Euro 2020 was pushed back a year due to the COVID-19 crisis, with the tournament now set for June and July in 2021.

World Cup winner Andre Schurrle has confirmed his retirement at the age of just 29.

Earlier this week the forward's contract at Borussia Dortmund was terminated a year early, Schurrle having made 33 Bundesliga appearances across two seasons for the club before spending campaigns on loan at Fulham and Spartak Moscow.

Now he has confirmed he is stepping away from the sport for good.

Alongside an Instagram picture of him lifting the World Cup with Germany in 2014, Schurrle wrote: "I want to let you know that I'm stepping away from playing professional football !!

"On behalf of myself and my family I want to thank everybody who was a part of these phenomenal years! The support and love you shared with me was unbelievable and more than I could have ever asked for!

"Now I'm ready and open for all the beautiful possibilities that are coming towards me"

It was Schurrle who delivered the cross from which Mario Gotze scored the extra-time winner in the 2014 World Cup final against Argentina.

He won 57 caps for his country, scoring 22 times, and played for Bayer Leverkusen, Chelsea and Wolfsburg prior to joining Dortmund in 2016.

However, in an interview with Der Spiegel he explained he had now fallen out of love with the game.

"The decision matured in me for a long time," Schurrle said.

"The depths became deeper and the highlights less and less."

England have announced a friendly against Wales at Wembley on October 8.

Gareth Southgate's side will take on their cross-border rivals behind closed doors in their first home game of 2020.

The last meeting between the two countries was in a group match at Euro 2016, when England secured a 2-1 victory courtesy of Daniel Sturridge's last-gasp goal.

After taking on Ryan Giggs' side, World Cup semi-finalists England face a Nations League double-header with home matches against Belgium and Denmark on October 11 and 14 respectively.

England will use the Wales fixture to stage a tribute to former internationals who have died in the past 12 months, including 1966 World Cup winners Jack Charlton, Martin Peters, Norman Hunter and Peter Bonetti.

 

Another week, another Lionel Messi milestone.

The Barcelona forward has scored his 700th career goal just a little over two years since reaching 600 for club and country.

It's another remarkable feat for a footballer who continues to break new ground after turning 33.

Here, we look at the details behind the incredible numbers to see when, where and how he tends to find the net, who likes to set him up, and who is sick of the sight of him...

 

FOR BARCELONA:

- Messi has scored 630 goals in 724 appearances for Barca in all competitions - that's 0.87 per game on average. 

- His first goal came on May 1, 2005 against Albacete in LaLiga. Since then, he has reached 441 goals in 480 matches in Spain's top flight, at least 130 more than any other player in history.

- He has scored 114 goals in the Champions League, 53 in the Copa del Rey, 14 in the Supercopa de Espana, three in the UEFA Super Cup, and five in the Club World Cup.

 

FOR ARGENTINA:

- Messi has scored 70 senior international goals. His first came on March 1, 2006 in a friendly against Croatia, and his most recent was in a friendly last November against Uruguay.

- He has scored 34 goals in international friendlies, 21 in World Cup qualifiers, nine at the Copa America, and six at the World Cup.

 

PER YEAR:

- In each of the past 11 calendar years, Messi has scored at least 40 goals for club and country. In nine of the last 10, he has reached at least 50.

- His best record in a single year came in 2012, when he scored 91, breaking the previous record of 85 held by Germany great Gerd Muller. He already has 12 in 2020, despite the COVID-19 disruption.

 

HIS FAVOURITE OPPONENT:

- Messi has scored 37 goals in 39 games against Sevilla in all competitions. Next up are Atletico Madrid (32 in 41 games).

- He has managed 26 in 43 games against Real Madrid, making him the all-time top goalscorer in Clasico history.

- Messi has faced 40 different LaLiga teams and scored at least once against 37 of them. Last November, he became the first player to score against 34 different Champions League opponents, surpassing Cristiano Ronaldo and Raul on 33.

 

HIS LEAST FAVOURITE OPPONENT:

- Only three LaLiga teams have ever avoided conceding a goal to Messi: Xerez, Real Murcia and Cadiz.

- Xerez are the only team Messi has faced more than once without scoring. He has played against them twice.

 

WHEN AND HOW HE SCORES:

- Messi has scored 43.32 per cent of his goals in the last 15 minutes of the first half or last 15 minutes of the second.

- He has scored 142 times from set-pieces: 90 penalties and 52 free-kicks.

- Only 24 of his career goals are headers. The most recent was back in March 2017 against Sporting Gijon. 

- Messi has scored 83.1 per cent of his goals (582) with his left foot, and 82.8 per cent (580) from inside the box.

- He has scored 36 LaLiga hat-tricks, which is a record. He has scored three or more times in 54 different matches, the most being five against Bayer Leverkusen in March 2012.

- His tally of 50 for the 2011-12 LaLiga season is a record.

 

WHO SETS HIM UP:

- Luis Suarez has assisted more Messi goals than any other player: 47 in six seasons with Barcelona. Messi has returned the favour 36 times. (CHECK WHO SETS UP ATHLETIC GOAL)

- The other players with the most assists for Messi are Dani Alves (42), Andres Iniesta (37), Xavi (31), Pedro (25), Neymar (22) and Jordi Alba (20).

- Messi has 247 assists for Barca. Since his first goal for the club, he has been involved in 879 of their 2,183 goals in all competitions, or 40.2 per cent.

United States Soccer has lifted its ban on kneeling during the national anthem having admitted it was wrong to prevent Megan Rapinoe from doing so.

Four years ago, Rapinoe took a knee prior to the women's team's game against Thailand, following the lead of NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who did so to protest police brutality and racial injustice.

Kaepernick was heavily criticised by president Donald Trump for kneeling and U.S. Soccer's board of directors passed a law in 2017 which made it mandatory for its players to stand for The Star-Spangled Banner prior to games.

However, given there has been a renewed focus on the issues Kaepernick was protesting following the death of George Floyd in police custody last month, USA's women's team had called for the ban to be removed.

U.S. Soccer has now revised its law and apologised to its players for passing the rule in the first place.

"U.S. Soccer affirms Black Lives Matter, and we support the fight against racial injustices," the federation said in a statement.

"The U.S. Soccer Board of Directors voted yesterday afternoon to repeat Policy 604-1, which required our players to stand during the national anthem.

"The policy was put in place after Megan Rapinoe kneeled in solidarity with the peaceful protest inspired by Colin Kaepernick, who was protesting police brutality and the systematic oppression of black people and people of colour in America. 

"It has become clear that this policy was wrong and detracted from the important message of Black Lives Matter.

"We have not done enough to listen - especially to our players - to understand and acknowledge the very real and meaningful experiences of black and other minority communities in our country.

"We apologise to our players - especially our black players - staff, fans and all who support eradicating racism.

"Sports are a powerful platform for good, and we have not used our platform as effectively as we should have. We can do more on these specific issues and we will."

U.S. Soccer's decision comes after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell admitted that league was also wrong to not listen to its players when they peacefully protested.

UEFA has postponed all national team matches scheduled to be played under its auspices in June, including the play-offs for the delayed Euro 2020 finals.

European football's governing body held a video conference on Wednesday with representatives from all 55 member associations.

Those involved considered recommendations made by the working groups UEFA set up last month to address the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

After that meeting on March 17, it was confirmed Euro 2020 would be moved to June and July of next year, although play-off games were still slated to take place during the international break at the scheduled end of the 2019-20 season.

However, all UEFA matches are now postponed until further notice, while deadlines relating to the 2020-21 campaign for the organisation's club competitions are similarly on hold, with the prospect of football's shutdown going beyond the June 30 date where player contracts typically expire alluded to as a potential complication.

"The deadlines related to all 2020-21 UEFA club competitions are postponed until further notice, in particular as regards the admission process and the registration of players," a press release read. “UEFA will set new deadlines in due course."

At the initial meeting, UEFA made a commitment to try and complete all European and domestic club competitions by the end of June – a prospect that appears increasingly fanciful as leagues across the continent remain suspended with little sign of a resumption.

UEFA has also stated it will relax Financial Fair Play and club licensing measures related to its 2020-21 competitions as clubs deal with unprecedented times.

"The Executive Committee reiterated its full commitment to club licensing and Financial Fair Play and agreed that the current exceptional circumstances necessitate some specific interventions to facilitate the work of member associations and clubs," the statement read.

"It supports the proposal to give member associations more time to complete the club licensing process, until the admission process for next season’s UEFA club competitions has been redefined.

"As a result of the increasing uncertainty generated by the ongoing extraordinary events, the executive committee also decided to suspend the club licensing provisions that relate to the preparation and assessment of clubs' future financial information. This decision applies exclusively for participation in the 2020-21 UEFA club competitions."

Additionally, UEFA cancelled its European Under-17 Championship and European Women's Under-19 Championship, scheduled for May and July respectively.

The corresponding European Under-19 Championship and European Women's Under-17 Championship are postponed with the aim of rearranging, given they double up as qualifying competitions for FIFA's U-20 World Cup and U-17 Women's World Cup.

Next month's UEFA Futsal Championship League finals have also been postponed until further notice.

Italy's scheduled upcoming friendly in Germany has been cancelled amid the coronavirus pandemic, the German Football Association (DFB) has confirmed.

Sport in Italy - including Serie A - has been shut down until April 3, with the country suffering over 17,000 confirmed cases of the virus and 1,266 deaths - the worst figures outside of China.

Meanwhile, the Bundesliga has also been suspended. Germany has close to 4,000 cases and eight deaths.

International football has been allowed to continue, in theory, although FIFA has recommended the postponement of fixtures.

An international break is set for the weekend before April 3, yet clubs will no longer be required to release their players following a FIFA Council decision.

And with events of more than 100 people banned in Nuremberg, where Italy were set to face Germany, the March 31 fixture has unsurprisingly been called off.

Italy's friendly meeting with England was postponed on Friday.

Further calls on international fixtures are anticipated, with World Cup qualifiers in Asia and South America already pushed back.

Top-flight football is continuing behind closed doors in Serbia, but Football Association of Serbia (FSS) president Slavisa Kokeza has now tested positive for coronavirus.

"We want to emphasise that the president of the football organisation is under medical supervision and is well and the Football Association is continuing its regular activities," a statement from the FSS read.

Serbia have a Euro 2020 play-off against Norway in the diary for March 26, although UEFA is set to make a call on the scheduling of the finals in a meeting on Tuesday.

Clubs will not be forced to release their players for international duty in March and April amid the coronavirus crisis, with FIFA recommending fixture postponements.

Football has largely come to a standstill worldwide as associations attempt to combat the spread of a virus that has already led to over 5,000 deaths.

The Champions League and Europa League have notably been suspended, along with each of Europe's top five leagues.

Fixtures in MLS, the Scottish Premiership and the English Football League are also all off.

The Premier League, Serie A and LaLiga have paused play until after the scheduled upcoming international break, while the Ligue 1 season has been postponed until further notice.

International football now appears unlikely to continue, too, as clubs - usually powerless to prevent call-ups – have received permission to keep their players following a FIFA Council decision.

FIFA will not impose the postponement of all forthcoming fixtures but is encouraging such measures.

A statement read: "FIFA understands that to hold the matches under current circumstances might not only present potential health risks to players (and to the general public) but would also, most likely, compromise the sporting integrity of such matches insofar as certain teams may be deprived of their best squads whilst others may not.

"To avoid any unnecessary health risks and also situations of potential sporting unfairness, we therefore recommend that all international matches previously scheduled to take place in March and April should now be postponed until such time that they can take place in a safe and secure environment, both for players and for the general public.

"The final decision on this issue rests with the respective competition organisers or relevant member association in case of friendlies."

World Cup qualifiers in Asia and South America have already been pushed back, along with the cancellation of some international friendlies.

UEFA is yet to call off the Euro 2020 play-offs set for the coming weeks, although the tournament's existing schedule appears to be in doubt ahead of a meeting next Tuesday.

The Danish Football Union (DBU) expects its national team's friendly game against England on March 31 to be cancelled following measures taken to address the spread of coronavirus in the Scandinavian country.

On Wednesday, Denmark's prime minister Mette Frederiksen announced all public activities should be restricted or shut down for two weeks, leading the DBU to cancel all domestic football commitments until March 29.

Denmark have a scheduled match against Faroe Islands in Herning on March 27 before the scheduled trip to Wembley four days later.

In a statement, the DBU said it was prepared for both of those fixtures to be called off.

DBU statutory director Kenneth Reeh added: "Denmark is in a sad and special situation, which of course also affects Danish football. Like everyone else in society, we take the situation very seriously and, of course, take the necessary precautions. That is why we are closing down as many football activities as possible over the next few weeks.

"We do not want to risk passing the infection on to the weakest in the community, nor risk anything for our national team players, our fans or others who work with our national team. We are in dialogue with UEFA regarding the practicalities of both the youth tournaments and the matches of the men's team and expect clarification as soon as possible."

England remain scheduled to face Italy at Wembley on March 27 at this stage, despite the latter reporting the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Europe and being placed on lockdown.

PSV teenager Mohamed Ihattaren has received his first Netherlands senior call-up as part of Ronald Koeman's provisional squad for the scheduled friendlies against the United States and Spain later this month.

Ihattaren, 18, has enjoyed a breakout season in the Eredivisie this term.

Although he has represented the Dutch international side at every age group from Under-15 upwards, he is also eligible to represent Morocco.

Uncapped duo Teun Koopmeiners and Owen Wijndal have also been selected, taking the AZ contingent in Koeman's 30-man party up to five.

Defenders Matthijs de Ligt, Stefan de Vrij and Hans Hateboer, midfielder Marten de Roon and forward Justin Kluivert all feature despite playing their club football in Italy, a country which has recently introduced lockdown measures in an attempt to curtail the spread of coronavirus.

Feyenoord midfielder Leroy Fer is back in the international reckoning for the first time since 2014.

Provisional Netherlands squad to face the United States and Spain:

Jasper Cillessen (Valencia), Jeroen Zoet (FC Utrecht), Tim Krul (Norwich City), Marco Bizot (AZ); Patrick van Aanholt (Crystal Palace), Nathan Ake (Bournemouth), Daley Blind (Ajax), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Denzel Dumfries (PSV), Hans Hateboer (Atalanta), Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus), Stefan de Vrij (Internazionale), Owen Wijndal (AZ); Donny van de Beek (Ajax), Leroy Fer (Feyenoord), Mohamed Ihattaren (PSV), Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona), Teun Koopmeiners (AZ), Davy Propper (Brighton & Hove Albion), Marten de Roon (Atalanta), Kevin Strootman (Olympique Marseille), Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool); Ryan Babel (Ajax), Steven Berghuis (Feyenoord), Myron Boadu (AZ), Luuk de Jong (Sevilla), Justin Kluivert (AS Roma), Quincy Promes (Ajax), Calvin Stengs (AZ) and Wout Weghorst (Wolfsburg).

Tite rejected criticism of his decision to play Rodrygo Goes for just two minutes in Brazil's 3-0 win over South Korea on Tuesday.

The Brazil coach said on Monday he would be patient with the teenage forward, who has made an impressive start to life at Real Madrid.

Rodrygo has scored twice in four LaLiga appearances for Madrid and notched a hat-trick in their 6-0 Champions League demolition of Galatasaray this month.

The 18-year-old got 19 minutes on his debut in the 1-0 loss to Argentina on Friday and received even less playing time in Abu Dhabi.

"It's one thing to throw Rodrygo into a system that's already structured, like Real's. It's another thing to put him in a team that is being reassembled, even if he was doing the same job in the same position," said Tite.

"It was so hard to organise for the team for today and they responded well. They were close to scoring a fourth and a fifth.

"It was a chance for Fabinho, Renan Lodi and Militao. They earned the chance and asserted themselves. Could it have been Rodrygo? Yes, but I preserved the continuity and the good moment of the team in the game."

Brazil eased the pressure on Tite as they ended a five-match winless run with a comfortable 3-0 win over South Korea on Tuesday.

Tite has come under scrutiny as Brazil have failed to claim a victory since winning the Copa America in July.

Their miserable run included a 1-0 loss to arch rivals Argentina on Friday, but they bounced back in style in Abu Dhabi.

Lucas Paqueta opened the scoring early on and a brilliant Philippe Coutinho free-kick doubled the lead for Brazil, who secured a routine triumph through Juventus defender Danilo's second-half goal.

Paqueta broke the deadlock in the 10th minute, meeting Renan Lodi's superb cross with a stooping header after the Atletico Madrid full-back had been played in down the left by Coutinho.

Lodi continued to cause problems going forward but South Korea also threatened in an entertaining first half.

Son Heung-min bent an effort narrowly wide but South Korea's task was made considerably harder when Coutinho doubled their deficit in style.

The Bayern Munich winger found the top-left corner with a stunning free-kick from 25 yards after Hwang Ui-jo hacked down Fabinho.

South Korea were almost gifted a lifeline in an incredible passage of play as Alisson fumbled Jung Woo-young's low free-kick, with Coutinho kicking the ball against his own post in the resulting scramble before clearing behind for a corner.

However, Brazil made the game safe on the hour mark as Danilo met Lodi's pull back with a rasping drive that Cho Hyun-woo could not handle despite getting both hands to the shot.

Brazil took their foot off the gas thereafter, with South Korea reduced to efforts from distance as they failed to score for the third successive game.


What does it mean? Relief for Tite

Brazil will not play another international until the start of the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers in March, and the manner of their victory will make Tite breathe a little easier following a troubling run of form. South Korea were always second best but there was nothing in their performance that suggested they will fail to progress to the third round of AFC qualifying. South Korea have yet to taste defeat in the second round.

Renan carries the Lodi

Lodi was excellent down the left for Brazil, he carried a constant threat and was rewarded with two assists. Atletico will want to see more of the same from Lodi when he returns to club action.

Hot-headed Hwang

South Korea were still very much in the game at 1-0 down but Hwang's rush of blood afforded Coutinho the opportunity to give them a mountain to climb and he took it in magnificent fashion.

What's next?

Brazil will learn their first opponents in qualifying when the draw is made next month. South Korea will compete for the East Asian title in December before returning to qualifying action in March.

Page 1 of 3
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.