Cristiano Ronaldo has not yet broken Josef Bican's all-time goalscoring record in official matches, according to the Czech FA.

Superstar Juventus forward Ronaldo scored his 760th competitive goal in the 2-0 Supercoppa Italiana victory over Napoli on Wednesday.

It was reported by some that Ronaldo had surpassed Bican's benchmark, while others stated he had equalled it and alternative sources claimed the legendary Rapid Vienna and Slavia Prague striker actually netted 805 - FIFA itself uses this number as an estimate.

Confused yet? Well, this wonderfully convoluted tale is complicated further by the fact Brazil legends Pele and Romario each claim to have scored 1,000 career goals – though both are disputed by official sources.

And to really compound the matter, the bright minds of the History and Statistics Committee of the Czech FA have been delving deep into the archives to reach the conclusion that Bican – who played internationally for Austria and Czechoslovakia – actually scored 821 goals, meaning Ronaldo would still need another 62.

Probably best we leave the explanation for this one to Jaroslav Kolar, the head of the committee…

"Who is the best goalscorer in football history? Josef Bican or Cristiano Ronaldo?" Was the question posed by Kolar on the official account for the Czech Republic national team.

"A simple question but a complicated answer." (We quite agree...)

Anyway, he added: "Mainly because from the whole amount of Bican's goals, you have to just pick up the official ones, which is complicated. 

"Our History and Statistics Committee of [the] Czech FA started to deal with this problem. We based our research on statistics from prestigious international statistical websites that state 805 goals with notice that goals scored by Bican in the Czech second division for Hradec Kralove are missing. 

"We managed to find them - by the way, it's 53 goals in 26 games and we also double checked every detail about Bican's league, cup and international matches. 

"After that, we came out with the official number of Josef Bican's scored goals. On behalf of the History and Statistics Committee of [the] Czech FA, we can proclaim Josef Bican scored 821 goals in official matches. 

"It means that Cristiano Ronaldo is not the best goalscorer in international history yet, and he has to work more to break this record."

So, that settles that argument then!

Or does it? Quite honestly... we have no idea.  

Bruno Fernandes said the relentless pursuit of perfection by Portugal team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo feeds his own desire to keep churning out impressive numbers at Manchester United.

Fernandes has scored 10 goals and provided seven assists in the Premier League this term to help the Red Devils climb up to second in the table.

The midfielder is the first Portuguese player to reach double figures for goals in the competition since the 2008-09 campaign when Ronaldo achieved it as a United player.

United have lost just three of their 29 Premier League games since Fernandes made his debut at the start of February 2020 (won 18, drawn eight), going unbeaten in each of the last nine (won seven, drawn two).

Fernandes has also been directly involved in 32 goals in 29 games in the Premier League (18 goals, 14 assists) since he joined United from Sporting CP in January 2020.

The 26-year-old's tally of 14 assists in 29 games is the quickest a player has arrived at that total in the competition's history.

Juventus forward Ronaldo turns 36 next February but with 12 goals this season is Serie A's leading scorer and his powers show little sign of waning, which is a source of inspiration to his compatriot.

"If you see Cristiano and [Lionel] Messi, they are improving all seasons. How is this possible?" Fernandes said in an interview on United's website.

"Everyone says it's impossible to do better but, every season, they do better and better and better. It is 11 years fighting for a Ballon d’Or and this will never happen again.

"It will never happen again in the story of football because they are still improving and I have the chance to be with Cristiano in the national team.

"I see the way he wants to improve every time, in free-kicks, in shots, in headers, in penalties and you want everything. 

"You want to improve every time. When you lose, he knows he has to improve more and when you win, he understands he needs to go to the details of the good [work] to improve a little bit more.

"In everything in life, you have to improve and understand you're not the worst and you are not the best.

"There is always time to improve. It's impossible to be the worst because you have time to improve, and it's impossible to be the best because you always have time to improve."

United's players, along with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, have endured periods of criticism this season but Fernandes claimed they have been able to shrug off any negativity.

"The club have a lot of media behind, a lot of people talking," added Fernandes ahead of their clash with Aston Villa at Old Trafford on New Year's Day.

"They will be talking all the time. They want to talk when you lose, they don't want to talk when you win, because it is better to attack than to defend the club.

"I think the most important thing is, inside of the group, we understand what we have to do, what we have to improve, where we are and where we want to go. 

"For me, the most important thing is like when we lose, we are not the worst."

Cristiano Ronaldo indicated he has no plans to retire by saying he hopes to play on for "many, many years" despite preparing to turn 36 in February.

The Juventus forward has shown no signs of slowing his goal output, finishing the 2019-20 season with 31 goals and a second Serie A title before firing in 12 in 10 league appearances this term.

In 2020 he became the fourth player in the history of Italy's top flight to score 33 goals in a calendar year after Omar Sivori (33 in 1961), Gunnar Nordahl (36 in 1950) and Felice Borel (41 in 1933).

That tally puts him top of the goalscoring charts in Europe's top five leagues this year, ahead of The Best FIFA Men's Player award winner Robert Lewandowski (32).

Portugal captain Ronaldo will be 37 by the time the 2022 World Cup kicks off in Qatar but hinted that he intends to be there.

"It doesn't matter the age. What is important is the mind," Ronaldo told BBC Sport, after being named Player of the Century at the Globe Soccer Awards this week.

"It doesn't matter if Cristiano Ronaldo is good, you don't know tomorrow what is going to happen. I live in the present, in the moment.

"The moment is good, I feel happy, I feel sharp and in a good moment in my life. I hope to play many, many years more but you never know."

Ronaldo scored a brace in Juventus' 3-0 win over Barcelona in the Champions League on December 8 and followed it up with doubles in Serie A victories over Genoa and Parma – either side of missing a penalty in a draw against Atalanta.

Despite his impressive form, the Bianconeri are sixth in the table, 10 points behind league leaders Milan, and Ronaldo admitted the absence of fans at the Allianz Stadium frustrated him.

"I don't like to play in the stadiums without fans, it's like going to the circus but you don't see clowns," Ronaldo said.

"The pandemic has made people crazy. I hope soon they can open the gates of the stadiums.

"We have to live with that, we have to try to do a normal life but of course we have to respect the rules. But to play without the fans, I really don't like it."

Cristiano Ronaldo indicated he has no plans to retire by saying he hopes to play on for "many, many years" despite preparing to turn 36 in February.

The Juventus forward has shown no signs of slowing his goal output, finishing the 2019-20 season with 31 goals and a second Serie A title before firing in 12 in 10 league appearances this term.

In 2020 he became the fourth player in the history of Italy's top flight to score 33 goals in a calendar year after Omar Sivori (33 in 1961), Gunnar Nordahl (36 in 1950) and Felice Borel (41 in 1933).

That tally puts him top of the goalscoring charts in Europe's top five leagues this year, ahead of The Best FIFA Men's Player award winner Robert Lewandowski (32).

Portugal captain Ronaldo will be 37 by the time the 2022 World Cup kicks off in Qatar but hinted that he intends to be there.

"It doesn't matter the age. What is important is the mind," Ronaldo told BBC Sport, after being named Player of the Century at the Globe Soccer Awards this week.

"It doesn't matter if Cristiano Ronaldo is good, you don't know tomorrow what is going to happen. I live in the present, in the moment.

"The moment is good, I feel happy, I feel sharp and in a good moment in my life. I hope to play many, many years more but you never know."

Ronaldo scored a brace in Juventus' 3-0 win over Barcelona in the Champions League on December 8 and followed it up with doubles in Serie A victories over Genoa and Parma – either side of missing a penalty in a draw against Atalanta.

Despite his impressive form, the Bianconeri are sixth in the table, 10 points behind league leaders Milan, and Ronaldo admitted the absence of fans at the Allianz Stadium frustrated him.

"I don't like to play in the stadiums without fans, it's like going to the circus but you don't see clowns," Ronaldo said.

"The pandemic has made people crazy. I hope soon they can open the gates of the stadiums.

"We have to live with that, we have to try to do a normal life but of course we have to respect the rules. But to play without the fans, I really don't like it."

Cristiano Ronaldo has declared football is "boring" without supporters and says he misses the buzz of being booed by fans of rival teams.

The Juventus and Portugal forward was given the Player of the Century award at the Globe Soccer Awards in Dubai on Sunday. The prize was given to the player considered the world's best from 2001 to 2020.

Even as the accolades pile up, the 35-year-old admits he is not enjoying the game as much as he did previously, and he puts that down to the pandemic keeping fans locked out of stadiums.

The Serie A season is taking place behind closed doors for now, and reigning champions Juventus have not been the force they were last term, sitting sixth after 13 games.

Ronaldo still appears to be coming up to scratch, with 12 goals in 10 Serie A appearances and another four in four games in the Champions League.

But the five-time Ballon d'Or winner said: "I have to be honest: to play in the stadium empty it's boring in my opinion.

"The players all respect the protocol and the health is the most important, of course.

"But I don't like it, to be honest. I do it because first of all I love football. I play for my family, for my kids, for my friends, for the fans, but I don't like it. It's so weird to play without [fans].

"I like it when the people boo Cristiano - when I touch the ball they go: 'Booo!'

"I hope in '21 they can change the rules and see stadiums full of people."

Ronaldo expressed hope that his 10-year-old son Cristiano Jr could follow in his footsteps and become a professional footballer.

But fitness fanatic Ronaldo joked that the youngster might have to adjust his diet to make it at the highest level.

"I'm hard with him sometimes because he drinks Coca-Cola and Fanta sometimes. I fight with him when he eats chips and fries and everything - I don't like it," Ronaldo said.

"Even my small kids, when they eat chocolate they always look at me and we have to be strong.

"But he has potential. He's a big boy, he's fast and he dribbles well. But this takes a lot of dedication, a lot of hard work.

"I won't push for him to be a football player. If you ask me if I want, yes I want but he's going to be whatever he wants."

Ronaldo, who has won domestic league titles in Spain, England and Italy as well as Euro 2016 with Portugal, appears to be defying his age as he flourishes for Juventus.

Earlier this month he became only the fourth player to ever score at least 33 Serie A goals in a calendar year, and the first since former Juventus forward Omar Sivori in 1961.

Since joining from Real Madrid in July 2018, Ronaldo has netted a remarkable 64 goals in 74 Serie A appearances, at a rate of one goal every 100.5 minutes.

He has also claimed 14 assists and struck the woodwork 13 times in those games.

Yet his latest award will only keep the argument rumbling about whether Ronaldo or Lionel Messi is the greatest player of this generation.

In the same period that Ronaldo has been wreaking devastation in Italy, Messi has continued to lead from the front at Barcelona, scoring 68 goals and supplying 35 assists in 81 LaLiga games.

Messi's league goals in that time have come at a rate of one every 100.1 minutes.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Pep Guardiola were honoured at the Globe Soccer Awards in Dubai, the duo named player and coach of the century respectively. 

Juventus forward Ronaldo picked up the award in person at a ceremony held at the Armani Hotel on Sunday. 

The 35-year-old, who has won domestic league titles in Spain, England and Italy and Euro 2016 with Portugal, admitted his pride at receiving the accolade, given to the player judged the best between 2001 and 2020. 

"It's a pleasure to win titles," said Ronaldo, a five-time Ballon d'Or winner, at the event. 

"It's not easy to be top of the game for so many years. I am really proud, but without a team, great coaches and clubs it is not possible." 

Guardiola was honoured for a managerial career which has seen him win league championships in Spain, Germany and England, as well as the Champions League twice.

The Manchester City boss was not present at the gala, though he accepted the award via a pre-recorded video message. 

Both Ronaldo and Lionel Messi missed out on the men's player of the year award for 2020, however, as that went to Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski. 

Bayern's treble of the Bundesliga, Champions League and DFB-Pokal also saw boss Hansi Flick rewarded as coach of the year.  

Real Madrid were named the club of the century at the ceremony, while Bayern picked up the team award for 2020. 

The Globe Soccer Awards, founded in 2010, acknowledge excellence in football with an annual gala dinner and awards ceremony.

Qatar have been invited by UEFA to join a World Cup qualifying group containing European champions Portugal ahead of hosting the tournament in 2022.

The Asian champions' results in Group A, which also contains the Republic of Ireland, Serbia, Azerbaijan and Luxembourg, will not count towards qualification as they are already assured of a place in the finals given their status as hosts.

They will face each side twice, but their 'home' matches will be staged in Europe to allow shorter flight times for their opponents.

It is hoped that Qatar, who are also set to play in the Copa America and Gold Cup next year, will gain further experience from competing against European nations such as Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal.

UEFA confirmed the news on Tuesday and announced Qatar would begin their campaign against Luxembourg at a neutral venue yet to be confirmed on March 24, 2021.

Felix Sanchez Bas' side, who are ranked 59th in the world and won their first ever Asian Cup with a 3-1 win over Japan in last year's final, will take on Portugal next September and October.

England will face Robert Lewandowski and Poland in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Gareth Southgate's side have been drawn in Group I, also alongside Hungary, Albania, Andorra and San Marino.

World champions France are in Group D with Ukraine, Finland, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kazakhstan.

The Netherlands headline a tricky Group G, which also includes Turkey, Norway, Montenegro, Latvia and Gibraltar.

Croatia, the beaten finalists two years ago, are in an intriguing Group H with Slovakia, Russia, Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta.

Spain will face Sweden, Greece, Georgia and Kosovo in Group B, with Portugal in Group A along with Serbia, the Republic of Ireland, Luxembourg and Azerbaijan.

Belgium, the world's top-ranked side, face Euro 2016 quarter-final opponents Wales, and Germany will meet Romania and Iceland.

The matches will take place from March to November next year, with the 10 group winners advancing automatically to the finals in Qatar and 10 runners-up heading into the play-offs.

World Cup 2022 UEFA qualifying draw:

Group A
Portugal
Serbia
Republic of Ireland
Luxembourg
Azerbaijan

Group B
Spain
Sweden
Greece
Georgia
Kosovo

Group C
Italy
Switzerland
Northern Ireland
Bulgaria
Lithuania

Group D
France
Ukraine
Finland
Bosnia-Herzegovina
Kazakhstan

Group E
Belgium
Wales
Czech Republic
Belarus
Estonia

Group F
Denmark
Austria
Scotland
Israel
Faroe Islands
Moldova

Group G
Netherlands
Turkey
Norway
Montenegro
Latvia
Gibraltar

Group H
Croatia
Slovakia
Russia
Slovenia
Cyprus
Malta

Group I
England
Poland
Hungary
Albania
Andorra
San Marino

Group J
Germany
Romania
Iceland
North Macedonia
Armenia
Liechtenstein

Cristiano Ronaldo thanked "players, coaches and loyal opponents" after the Juventus star scored the 750th goal of his remarkable career.

Ronaldo reached the milestone with a simple finish 57 minutes into Juve's 3-0 win over Dynamo Kiev in their Champions League Group G clash on Wednesday.

It was his 75th across all competitions for Juve, who Ronaldo joined from Real Madrid – where he scored 450 goals – in 2018.

The 35-year-old, a five-time Ballon d'Or winner, reached that mammoth total for Madrid in just 438 matches across all competitions, following his then world-record move from Manchester United in 2009.

During his six-year stint at Old Trafford, he scored 118 times for the Red Devils.

Ronaldo, who recently surpassed the 100-goal mark for Portugal, becoming only the second male footballer to reach a century at international level after Iran's Ali Daei, is comfortably Madrid's all-time leading scorer, with 127 more goals than Los Blancos legend Raul, whose haul came from 741 appearances.

Despite missing several weeks of the campaign after testing positive for coronavirus, Ronaldo has been in fine form this season, having netted eight times from just four Serie A starts, though his strike against Dynamo was only his second in the Champions League this term.

Following his landmark achievement, Ronaldo used his official Twitter account to thank not only his team-mates and coaches – he has worked under the likes of Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti and Zinedine Zidane – but also his opponents.

"750 goals, 750 happy moments, 750 smiles in the faces of our supporters," he wrote. 

"Thank you to all the players and coaches that helped me reach this amazing number, thank you to all my loyal opponents that made me work harder and harder everyday."

Ronaldo will now set his sights on goal 751 when Juve take on Torino on Saturday – he has scored three goals from his four Serie A appearances against the Bianconeri's city rivals.

If Dynamo Kiev goalkeeper Heorhii Bushchan needs any consolation, it had happened 749 times before.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 750th goal of a phenomenal career on Wednesday, finding the net in Juventus' Champions League clash with the Ukrainian side.

Ronaldo reached his latest landmark when he tapped in from the goal line to give Juve a 2-0 lead in Turin.

His goal was his 75th for the Bianconeri, though the vast majority – 450 to be exact – were scored during a record-breaking spell with Real Madrid.

A hero at Madrid, Manchester United and now Juventus, a fair few of Ronaldo's incredible haul have been stone-cold classics. Here, we look back at 10 of his best goals.

Manchester United v Portsmouth: January 30, 2008

Perhaps the finest free-kick Ronaldo has struck in his career.

The Portuguese developed his reputation as a set-piece master at United and he lashed a phenomenal 25-yard effort past David James as part of a double to send Alex Ferguson's side to the top of the Premier League.

His knuckleball technique sent the ball swirling into the top-right corner for one of his defining Old Trafford moments.

Porto v Manchester United: April 15, 2009

He had absolutely no right to score this one.

Back in his homeland for a Champions League quarter-final against Porto, Ronaldo picked up the ball in the middle of the opposition half, got it out of his feet and sent a searing strike flying past Helton to seal a 1-0 win at the Estadio do Dragao and a 3-2 aggregate triumph.

 

Almeria v Real Madrid: April 15, 2010

Ronaldo has developed into more of a penalty-box poacher in recent seasons, but this effort against Almeria was a reminder of how devastating he could be when starting with the ball outside the area. 

Rafael van der Vaart won back possession in the Almeria half and the ball was worked to Ronaldo, who accelerated past two challenges, left a third defender for dead with a stepover and then drilled home with his left foot. The visitors would go on to win 2-1.

 

Sevilla v Real Madrid: December 17, 2011

Sevilla grew sick of the sight of Ronaldo during his time in Spain – he did score 27 times against them, after all – but this strike in a 6-2 thrashing is perhaps the best of them.

Collecting Karim Benzema's pass 30 yards out, Ronaldo took advantage of the time and space given to him by the defence to blast a shot into the top-right corner, the swerve on the ball making it totally unstoppable. It was one of three he scored that day at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

 

Real Madrid v Valencia: May 4, 2014

It was not enough to keep Madrid's title chase alive, but this was another goal that showcased Ronaldo's killer instinct and dexterity. 

In second-half injury time, with Valencia 2-1 ahead, Angel Di Maria volleyed over a cross from the left and Ronaldo swivelled to score a backheel volley and snatch a point.

 

Real Madrid v Espanyol: January 31, 2016

Although his game had become more refined from those buccaneering early days, Ronaldo showed here he was not quite done when it came to solo runs and spectacular finishes.

With Madrid already 3-0 up in what would prove to be a 6-0 thrashing, James Rodriguez's pass was deflected into Ronaldo's path and he did the rest, showing brilliant footwork to skip beyond three challenges before rifling home from the edge of the area with his left foot.

 

Hungary v Portugal: June 22, 2016

Portugal thrice fell behind to Hungary in Lyon during Euro 2016, and Ronaldo brought them level on the second occasion with a display of fine skill.

The captain added a deft flick with his trailing leg to Joao Mario's right-wing cross to make it 2-2, and he cancelled out Balazs Dzsudzsak's second with a double of his own. It was enough to send Portugal into the knockout stages and from there they claimed a maiden international title.

 

Juventus v Real Madrid: April 3, 2018

Arguably the finest goal Ronaldo has produced.

Moving away from goal as Dani Carvajal dug a cross towards the penalty spot from the right, the Portuguese rose into the air and connected with a stunning overhead kick. His leg was at a right angle to his body as he struck with the sweetest of volleys that flew past an idle Gianluigi Buffon.

Portugal v Spain: June 15, 2018

Having twice given his side the lead, Ronaldo found Portugal 3-2 down to their Iberian neighbours in their thrilling opener at the 2018 World Cup. 

While there was a sense of inevitability when he stood over an 88th minute free-kick, the execution was sheer perfection – power and dip combined to leave David de Gea with no chance.

 

Juventus v Manchester United: November 8, 2018

Another decorated Portuguese was celebrating at full-time when Jose Mourinho watched his Manchester United team complete a 2-1 comeback win.

But Ronaldo struck first with a sumptuous and technically brilliant strike, watching Leonardo Bonucci's raking ball over his shoulder to volley home.  

Liverpool forward Diogo Jota has revealed he idolised Portugal team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo when he was a youngster.

Jota, 24 on Friday, is just under 12 years younger than Juventus star Ronaldo and while growing up was in awe of a player he now features alongside at international level.

The two players have both been in fine form for their club sides this season – Jota has scored nine goals in 15 appearances in all competitions for the Premier League champions.

Ronaldo, meanwhile, has managed nine goals in seven games for the Serie A title holders.

Jota told The Athletic: "My earliest memories are from the Euro 2004 when Portugal reached the final and unfortunately we lost. I was seven and I remember it well.

"Cristiano Ronaldo was my hero. At that time, he was 19 but he was already playing at the Euros with so much quality.

"During my childhood, he was at Manchester United and Real Madrid. As Portuguese guys, we always looked upon him as our main reference."

On Sunday, Jota will face former club Wolves for the first time since he joined Liverpool in September.

He claimed the influence of Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has helped him make such an impressive start to life at Anfield.

Jota added: "When you reach a new club, having an open mind is key to be able to adapt as quickly as possible.

"With the season underway already, it was up to me to find a way to get into the team and not the opposite. That’s what I did with the help of Jurgen.

"He’s a fantastic manager who took care of me. When I first arrived, he had a meeting with me and he explained how the team works.

"Then it’s down to the player to try to learn as fast as you can and to prove to the manager that you can be an important player for him on the field."

*PUT BACK ON DRAFT - WAIT FOR SUAREZ ABSENCE CONFIRMATION*

 

As recently as January, Joao Felix's Atletico Madrid career appeared to be on a rocky road to nowhere – the previously much-vaunted 'Golden Boy', the club's most expensive signing ever, appeared to be at a loss.

Another big game had passed him by in the shape of the Supercopa final against Real Madrid, who emerged victors on penalties after a 0-0 draw – one Los Blancos dominated.

Even greater burden had been placed on him from late 2019, with Diego Costa ruled out long-term due to a neck injury, but Joao Felix simply couldn't meet expectations.

His struggles understandably led to much debate about the cause; was he finding it difficult to settle in? Was he actually the talent everyone thought he was? Or, as most people seemingly thought, was he just not cut out for Cholismo?

Media reports at the time suggested his team-mates believed Joao Felix was having problems settling in Madrid, but once football resumed after the coronavirus-enforced lockdown, encouraging signs were beginning to show.

And now, as Atletico prepare to host Barca and Lionel Messi on Saturday, few would consider anyone other than Joao Felix to be LaLiga's outstanding player in 2020-21.

Space? You can get lost in space

Joao Felix's arrival at the Wanda Metropolitano was met by the clamouring of Diego Simeone critics suggesting this was the signing that would finally see the renowned pragmatist cut loose and suddenly become the entertainer many hoped he could be.

It didn't work out that way. In fact, their haul of 51 LaLiga goals was the lowest they'd managed since scoring just 46 in 2006-07 – they somehow became even duller to watch.

This didn't do much to convince those adamant Simeone was to blame for Joao Felix's form – many people called for the young talent to be given a "free role" that allowed him to play without the shackles normally associated with the coach's rigid and disciplined system.

Yet, as average touch location maps show, Joao Felix generally operated largely in a less disciplined role last season than he has in 2020-21 – in 2019-20, he occupied spaces through the middle and on the left flank more than most, yet his time in the four zones within that area between the halfway line and penalty area were split fairly evenly.

 

This season, however, 22 per cent of his ball touches have been in a withdrawn area on the left flank, and 19 per cent in the next zone up the same wing. His role is demonstrably more structured yet he is proving far more effective as he wanders less, and this is evident almost across the board.

His tally of five LaLiga goals is second only to Mikel Oyarzabal and, at rate of 0.9 goals per 90 minutes, his frequency in that regard has trebled. His rate of 0.4 assists per 90 minutes is four times higher than the 0.1 for last term.

Joao Felix is now averaging 2.2 key passes every game (up from 0.8), while his records for passes, touches, open-play sequence involvement and goal-ending sequence involvement have all increased massively this season.

 

Suarez makes great players even better

Whether this clear change in role has been engineered by Simeone or Joao Felix himself is difficult to know without one of them claiming as much. Certainly, the Atletico coach has not alluded to such an alteration.

No, Simeone has instead highlighted the impact of signing of Luis Suarez from Sunday's opponents, saying earlier this month: "I believe that all this is generated from the presence of Suarez. With the likes of [Diego] Costa and [Alvaro] Morata before him, they had a lot of other characteristics, but we have been looking for other qualities.

"Luis has needed more people close to him, close to where he can hurt the opposition, and that is the team's goal."

Let's not forget, Suarez has spent years alongside the very best in the business in Lionel Messi, and the pair developed an almost telepathic understanding – as good as the six-time Ballon d'Or winner is, that doesn't happen just because of him.

Suarez is an assassin in attack, boasting off the ball intelligence like few other strikers have in the past 30 years – even if he's not as quick as he once was, the Uruguayan knows what runs to make, and when to make them.

For example, Joao Felix has created four chances for Suarez this season – that's already tied with the highest amount of key passes he played for a single team-mate in 2019-20 (Angel Correa), and one more than he laid on for Morata.

But herein lies a new test for Joao Felix.

Sunday is Atletico's first matchup with either of the 'big two' in LaLiga this term, but they will not be able to look to the finishing abilities of Suarez due to his coronavirus diagnosis.

 

Therefore, even greater onus will be on Joao Felix to provide the spark in attack for Atletico, potentially both as a creator and a finisher - thankfully for him, his positive xG differential of 2.4 suggests he has that capability.

Whether he inspires Atletico to a win or not, the fact such a possibility is even being considered less than a year on from him appearing utterly at odds with the club is a major triumph for Joao Felix.

Dominik Livakovic's calamitous late error gifted Portugal a 3-2 victory as Fernando Santos' side ended their Nations League campaign on a high note but Croatia avoided relegation from Group A3.

Croatia, reduced to 10 men early in the second half when Marko Rog received a second booking, seemed to be heading for a draw in Split on Tuesday.

Mateo Kovacic opened the scoring in the 29th minute before curling in from the edge of the box after goals from Ruben Dias and Joao Felix had put Portugal ahead.

But Livakovic endured a 90th-minute nightmare, fumbling a corner to the feet of Dias, who completed his double to snatch the points, yet Croatia avoid the drop due to France's win over Sweden.

Diogo Jota and Cristiano Ronaldo went close as Portugal turned the screw, but the visitors had Dias to thank when he blocked Mario Pasalic's goal-bound effort at the other end.

Yet Dias could not prevent Croatia from opening the scoring – Kovacic lashing home at the second attempt after having his initial shot from Pasalic's cross blocked.

Portugal should have been two down eight minutes later, only for Josip Juranovic to head wide from inside the six-yard box, and Danilo Pereira would have made Croatia pay if not for Livakovic's instinctive stop.

But Portugal had their equaliser eight minutes into the second half.

Rog was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Ronaldo, whose free-kick was parried out by Livakovic and Ruben Semedo squared for Dias to add insult to injury by prodding in.

Portugal were in front on the hour-mark, with Joao Felix on hand to tuck in from Jota's lay off, yet Croatia defied their numerical disadvantage to hit back when Kovacic curled a low strike into the bottom-left corner.

Bernardo Silva squandered a golden chance to win it for Portugal, but his blushes were swiftly sparred by Livakovic.

The goalkeeper charged out to claim Joao Moutinho's corner, only to drop it after making contact with Dejan Lovren, enabling Dias to snatch victory.

Dominik Livakovic's calamitous late error gifted Portugal a 3-2 victory as Fernando Santos' side ended their Nations League campaign on a high note but Croatia avoided relegation from Group A3.

Croatia, reduced to 10 men early in the second half when Marko Rog received a second booking, seemed to be heading for a draw in Split on Tuesday.

Mateo Kovacic opened the scoring in the 29th minute before curling in from the edge of the box after goals from Ruben Dias and Joao Felix had put Portugal ahead.

But Livakovic endured a 90th-minute nightmare, fumbling a corner to the feet of Dias, who completed his double to snatch the points, yet Croatia avoid the drop due to France's win over Sweden.

Paul Pogba has described playing with France as a "breath of fresh air" in the context of his bleak situation at Manchester United. 

Pogba completed 90 minutes as N'Golo Kante netted the winner in Saturday's 1-0 Nations League victory over Portugal in Lisbon. 

Didier Deschamps still counts the former Juventus man as a key pillar of his World Cup-winning team, somewhat in contrast to Pogba's falling stock at United. 

Amid an underwhelming start to the season at Old Trafford, the 27-year-old has only started half of United's 10 games across the Premier League and Champions League. 

"This is a period, the kind of which I have never experienced in my career," Pogba told RTL. 

"The French national team is a breath of fresh air. We are very happy to come here and all very happy to see each other again. It is not the same as with the club. 

"We all group together, it is magical. We realise that everyone is happy to come and that makes a difference."

Pogba felt claiming three points against the country who beat France on home soil in the final of Euro 2016 provided the perfect response to a 2-0 friendly defeat to Finland.

“We are still excited, joyous, it is true that we really savoured this one," he said.

"We played like a mature team. We attacked and defended together as one and we felt this feeling again that we had at the World Cup.

"The response was quick and immediate after the defeat to Finland and we will remember this one."

While his future prospects at United appear increasingly uncertain, Pogba has a clarity of purpose when it comes to France building on their triumph in Russia two years ago.

"Our aim is to win the Euros," he added. "We want to win. It is meaningless if we cannot go all the way.

"We need to continue on what we did at the World Cup."

Page 1 of 7
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.