Antonio Conte & Luka Modric at the Top of Inter Wishlist as Italian Giants Plan First Team Makeover

Serie A giants Inter are looking to revive their summer interest in Real Madrid midfielder and Ballon d’Or winner Luka Modri? as part of a major overhaul to get back amongst European football’s elite.

Inter have fallen by the wayside in recent years and haven’t come close to challenging in Europe since their outstanding Champions League winning season back in 2010, when José Mourinho ended the club’s 45-year wait for that trophy.

FBL-WC-2018-MATCH8-CRO-NGR

This isn’t the first time that Inter will attempt a major overhaul of their squad, but the Mirror claims that this time the Italian outfit will now look to recruit Modri? as the centrepiece of their squad which already has a Croatian core, including Ivan Periši?Marcelo Brozovi? and Šime Vrsaljko.

As part of their latest makeover plans, the Nerazzurri will also be looking to replace their current manager, Luciano Spalletti.

The former AS Roma manager has been popular amongst Tottenham fans this week, after Inter’s failure to beat PSV Eindhoven ensured the north London side would qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League at their expense.

However, fans at San Siro aren’t quite as pleased with their head coach and Tuesday’s result could prove to be the last straw for Inter’s hierarchy.

It is claimed that former Chelsea manager Conte is at the top of the club’s wishlist for the next head coach as Inter look to appoint a sixth manager since 2016.

Italian Football Federation 'Panchina D'Oro' Prize

Recently appointed sporting director Beppe Marotta, who earned his reputation with Juventus, has a close relationship with Conte and, after seeing his success at Chelsea, is convinced that the former Azzurri boss can return Inter to their former glory days.

Let’

90min’s Definitive European Power Rankings: Week 15 – UEFA Champions League Group Stage Special

Welcome to another edition of 90min’s DEFINITIVE European Power Rankings. With the culmination of the Champions League group stage, we thought it would be apt to make this week’s list a UCL special. That means that teams absent from the competition are exempt, even those recently knocked out.  

We also thought it apt that the accompanying film quotes this week be provided by the works of the McDonagh brothers, Martin and John Michael, because, as the saying goes, and as Atletico Madrid found out, When In Bruges…

It will take into account not only the most recent round of action, but the group stage as a whole, and assess how these teams are shaping up for the knockout round. With 15 places available, there’s also room for one high profile exclusion. Stay tuned. 

15. Manchester United

“You know, if you hadn’t stopped coming to church you’d have a little bit more understanding of people’s feelings.” (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Let’s not beat about the bush, the team who’s missed out is Schalke 04, ok? Sorry, they’re just boring, alright? Ok. 

Right, now that’s dealt with, here’s Manchester United – a team only slightly more interesting than Schalke. Ever so slightly.

And that’s only because of the inevitable thrill that will come following United’s ignominious last 16 exit to Porto, and Jose Mourinho’s post-match combustion. Also, that Phil Jones own goal was genuinely world class. 

14. Porto

“You think I care about dentists?…I don’t care about dentists…Nobody cares about dentists.” (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MIssouri)

The top point scorers in the group, with five wins and one draw, how could we put them 14th?!?!?

Well, if you think we care about that, you’ve got another thing coming. Porto are the dentists of this Champions League campaign – there, we said it. 

Their group exploits have been sincerely impressive, but if you think they’re genuine contenders, at least after they’ve beat United in the last 16, then think again.

13. Ajax

“You will not get the crowd to cry hossana, until you ride into town on an ass – Nietzsche.” (The Guard)

That bewildering quote, which in the film is summoned to bewilder cops at a murder scene from realising that a killing was actually due to a drugs trade, ties in nicely with that bewildering night at the Amsterdam Arena. 

Nothing made sense, everything that could happen did happen, and in the end nothing came about or changed because of it. Absolutely bewildering. Ajax are definitely back though, I think. 

12. Roma

“All this anger, man, it just begets greater anger.” (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Yes, Roma will be angry with their final performance of the group stage, but last year’s semi finalists will have to dust that frustration off if they are to compete at a similar level this year. 

While a tough draw may await, the Romans have been faintly good this campaign, without being great, and could certainly spring a surprise or two, as long as they keep their emotions in check.

11. Lyon

Paulo: “Put your hands up.” Hans: “No.” P: “What?” H: “I said no.” P: “Why not?” H: “I don’t want to.” P: “But I’ve got a gun.” H: “I don’t care.” P: “That doesn’t make any sense.” H: “Too bad.” (Seven Psychopaths)

That charming exchange sounds a lot like Lyon’s two clashes with Manchester City in Europe this season.

They failed to bow to convention, upending Pep Guardiola’s gameplans time and again. In that spirit, they’ve proved that, in a one-off game, they could beat anyone. 

10. Tottenham

“I’ll take it as it comes, if it’s all the same to you.” (The Guard)

Some rival fans were lessening Tottenham’s last-gasp heroics at the Nou Camp, belittling them with pointers about the legitimacy of Barcelona’s starting XI. But Spurs will take it as it comes, as the quote says. 

As this is a man’s dying words, it may also double as a timely phrase for when Spurs inevitably draw Juventus in the last 16 and are subsequently battered, if it’s all the same to you. 

9. Real Madrid

“I was trying to rob him. And he took my gun from me. And the gun was full of blanks. And he shot a blank into my eye. And now I cannot see from this eye ever again, the doctors say.” (In Bruges)

That piece of inept attempted robbery sounds a lot like Real Madrid’s ventures against CSKA Moscow this season. 

I mean, that 3-0 loss at the Santiago Bernabeu was harrowing stuff, it really was. A fourth consecutive title is looking less and less likely, even if Europe has been their salvation this season – save for their Russian encounters.

8. Bayern Munich

“I used to hate history. It’s all a lot of stuff that’s already f*ckin’ happened.” (In Bruges)

Yes, Bayern’s clash with Ajax was great fun and everything, but it also must’ve been highly concerning for FC Hollywood. 

Because their script is turning more and more into a tragedy with every passing page. Akin to Real, Europe has been their saving grace this campaign amidst sincere domestic woes, but perhaps this most recent round of action showed the structural malaise that persists at the heart of both. 

7. Atletico Madrid

“A great day this has turned out to be. I’m suicidal, me mate tries to kill me, me gun gets nicked and we’re still in f*cking Bruges.” (In Bruges)

It’s weird. Diego Simeone actually kind of looks like Colin Farrell in ‘In Bruges’ here. It’s quite disconcerting. 

In any case, he certainly wouldn’t have disagreed with most of Farrell’s statements about the city of Bruges. True, not all of the above will apply – it’s only football, after all – but still, when you need a win in Bruges to top the group, and you don’t get in, it sticks like it would in no other European city. Because, well, it’s Bruges. 

6. Liverpool

“Ray, you’re about the worst tourist in the world.” (In Bruges)

Yes, Liverpool made it through. Yes, it was kind of an admirable performance. But Napoli still bottled it, and the Reds are still the same team who have lost every single away game they’ve played in Europe this season. 

They will surely be force in the rounds to come, but their poor record as tourists should be cause for concern.

5. Manchester City

Francis: “Name your favourite philosopher, and lo and behold he’s English.” Clive: “Bertrand Russell was Welsh.” F: Bertrand Russell was Welsh? You know I never knew that, didn’t think anybody interesting was Welsh.” (The Guard)

Lo and behold, Phil Foden and Leroy Sane aren’t welsh.

But they were both in sparkling form for Manchester City against Hoffenheim on Wednesday. Even if they’ve been momentarily toppled from the summit of the Premier League, City’s squad depth remains wholly enviable. 

A few performances like that from the youngsters, and David Silva may have a tougher time of it coming back than he would’ve thought. Again, David Silva, not Welsh, unfortunately. 

4. Paris Saint-Germain

“Is that real leather?” (The Guard)

Ahhh, Paris Saint-Germain – one big happy family. Well, that’s what I’ve heard. 

At the end of the day, whether the sentiments are real or not doesn’t really matter. As long as they keep putting together performances. Although, the thing about fake leather is, it never holds together as long as you think it will.

We’ll see how stern PSG’s is in good time. 

3. Borussia Dortmund

“It’s a kidnapped dog. You don’t just give back a kidnapped dog. Defeats the entire object of the kidnapping.” (Seven Psychopaths)

Jadon Sancho was given a well earned rest against AS Monaco on Tuesday night, when Borussia Dortmund clinched top spot in Group A. 

But, despite Sancho’s recent contract extension, rumours continue to circulate surrounding the possibility of him returning to Manchester City. Now, what would the point in that be? Doesn’t it defeat the entire point of signing a player?

Doesn’t it? Anyway, Dortmund are a definite threat this year. Definitely. 

2. Juventus

“That’s what I’ve always liked about you, Father. You’re just a little too smart for this parish.” (Calvary)

That right there certainly sums up Juventus’ predicament, if they do have one. Unfortunately, Serie A just isn’t strong enough for them right now, even with all the moves made by the Milanese clubs and Napoli in the summer. 

Wednesday night’s surprise loss at Young Boys showed the issues this can hold, and I Bianconeri will need to be wary of any subconscious complacency settling in. Their primary hopes this season depend on it. 

1. Barcelona

“It’s not often you come across that kind of integrity in this business.” (The Guard)

Not only did Barcelona honour Inter by scoring the first goal in an encounter many thought they would deliberately sabotage, they also offered an olive branch of a goal to Spurs at the last minute for their enduring efforts throughout the competition.

What good samaritans. And they’re certainly good this year, Barca. Frighteningly good. Frightening enough to top these prestigious (and DEFINITIVE) rankings from the group stage. They were unbeaten (in a real group, Porto, ok?) and have the (fifth) best player in the world. 

Ominously, frighteningly, GOOD. 

Let’

Picking the Best Potential Real Madrid Lineup to Face Rayo Vallecano in La Liga on Saturday

Real Madrid entertain Rayo Vallecano on Saturday as they look to return to winning ways after suffering a 3-0 home defeat to CSKA Moscow in the midweek Champions League fixtures. 

The last time these two sides played at the Santiago Bernabeu, Real dismantled Vallecano, running out 10-2 winners. 

It is unlikely that the score will repeat itself this weekend, but in football you never know. 

Here we preview the best potential Real Madrid lineup to do the business.

3. Goalkeepers & Defenders

Thibaut Courtois (GK) – Santiago Solari didn’t play Keylor Navas as expected against CSKA, which indicates that Courtois is getting a consistent run in the side. 

Dani Carvajal (RB) – Carvajal came on for the last 16 minutes against CSKA and didn’t have sufficient time to impact the game. He is one yellow card away from suspension in La Liga so needs to watch his step.

Sergio Ramos (CB) – Captain and leader, Ramos will be expected to lead the defensive line with Los Blancos looking to pick up all three points to close the gap to Barcelona to just two points before they play on Sunday. 

Raphael Varane (CB)  – Left out of the starting XI to face CSKA, Solari will be hoping his French World Cup winning defender is expected to return to the side against Rayo.

Marcelo (LB) – Marcelo hasn’t featured in La Liga since the 3-0 defeat to Eibar on the 24th November and after playing 75 minutes against CSKA will be looking to return to league action this weekend. 

2. Midfielders

Luka Modric (CM) – The Croatian missed out against CSKA, and hasn’t actually featured for a full 90 minutes since the 4-2 win over Celta Vigo on the 11th November. 

Dani Ceballos (CM) – Ceballos has featured in 12 of Madrid’s 15 La Liga games this season and has impressed in the middle, with a pass completion rate of 94%. 

Marcos Llorente (CM) – A product of the Madrid academy, Llorente has featured more regularly recently and is expected to continue to anchor the midfield here in the absence of Casemiro.  

1. Forwards

Marco Asensio (RW) – Gareth Bale was injured during the CSKA defeat and wasn’t in training on Friday. Spain international Asensio could be given the nod ahead of the Welshman.

Karim Benzema (ST) – Looking increasingly likely to becoming the main man at Los Blancos, Benzema has always divided opinion but has shown time and time again that he can finish – netting eight goals in all comps this season. 

Lucas Vazquez (LW) – Started just four La Liga matches this season, after featuring nine times from the bench. He has two goals in all competitions so far and will be hoping to increase his tally against Rayo.

Let’

Real Madrid vs Rayo Vallecano Preview: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News

?Real Madrid welcome Rayo Vallecano to the Santiago Bernabeu after the historic stadium celebrated its 71st year since opening on December 14 1947. 

Los Blancos will be hoping the occasion sparks an up turn in form after suffering a shock 3-0 home defeat to CSKA Moscow in the Champions League, their biggest European home defeat and first home group stage loss since 2009. 

?Madrid are also experiencing indifferent form in La Liga, as they have made the worst ever start to a league campaign in their illustrious history, sitting fourth in league proceedings, although they are just five points off top spot. 

Rayo Vallecano have failed to pull up any trees so far this campaign, and find themselves 19th position, with just two wins from 15 matches and find themselves facing the prospect of three consecutive defeats if they lose out to Madrid on Saturday.

Check out 90min’s preview of the game below.


Where to Watch

When Is Kick Off? Saturday 15 December
What Time Is Kick Off? 17.30 (BST)
Where Is it Played? Santiago Bernabeu
TV Channel / Live Stream Eleven Sports
?Referee? Ricardo De Burgos Bengoetxea?

Team News

Santiago Solari has a few injury concerns ahead of the meeting with Rayo Vallecano this weekend. Nacho is definitely out, while Casemiro, Mariano, Sergio Reguilon and Gareth Bale are all huge doubts.

Furthermore, Toni Kroos is expected to drop to the bench once again, with the Club World Cup semi final on the horizon for Los Blancos, while Marcos Llorente is expected to keep his spot in midfield.

Meanwhile, Rayo Vallecano boss Michel also has squad deficiencies with injuries and suspensions blighting his team. Lass, Gael Kakuta and Gorka Elustondon are all injury doubts, while Jordi Amat is serving a suspension.

In light of Amat’s suspension, Emiliano Velazquez is expected to feature at centre back. Tito and Luis Advincula should double up down the right hand side, while star striker Raul de Tomas is unavailable due to a clause in his loan deal from Real Madrid.


Predicted Lineups

Real Madrid Courtois; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Ceballos, Llorente, Modric; Asensio, Benzema, Vazquez.
Rayo Vallecano Dimitrievski; Moreno,Galvez, Velazquez, Tito; Garcia, Comesana, Imbula, Advincular; Embarba Trejo.

Head to Head

In total, these two sides have only played 36 times against one another, mainly down to Rayo’s yoyo movement between ?La Liga and the Segunda Division.

Real Madrid heavily dominate this fixture, having won 28 of the 36 games, which also includes three draws and just five Rayo Vallecano victories.

FBL-ESP-LIGA-REALMADRID-RAYO

In fact, the last time these two faced off at the Santiago Bernabeu, Real steamrolled Rayo, winning the game 10-2, which saw Rayo take a 2-1 lead before ?Bale and Benzema added seven between them to inflict one of the biggest victories La Liga has ever seen.


Recent Form

Real Madrid and Rayo Vallecano have quite contrasting form. Despite have suffering their worst start to a La Liga season in their entire history, Madrid had put together a decent run of results before the shock CSKA Moscow defeat on Wednesday – stringing together four wins from five. 
Rayo Vallecano, meanwhile, have won just one of their previous five, suffering defeat on three occasions and picking up a home draw against Villarreal in La Liga.

Real Betis Balompie v Rayo Vallecano de Madrid - La Liga

Here’s a look at each side’s last five results.

Real Madrid Rayo Vallecano
Real Madrid 0-3 CSKA Moscow (12/12) Real Betis 2-0 Rayo Vallecano (9/12)
SD Huesca 0-1 Real Madrid (9/12) Rayo Vallecano 0-1 Leganes (4/12)
Real Madrid 6-1 Melilla (6/12) Rayo Vallecano 1-0 Eibar (30/11)
Real Madrid 2-0 Valencia (1/12) Valencia 3-0 Rayo Vallecano (24/11)
Roma 0-2 Real Madrid (27/11) Rayo Vallecano 2-2 Villarreal (11/11)

Prediction

Real Madrid have quite the record against Rayo, and given each side’s recent form, it would make sense to back Los Blancos for this one. 

Although Madrid will have one eye on the upcoming Club World Cup, they will want to continue to apply the pressure on Barcelona in top spot, who travel to Levante on Sunday and it is expected that Solari will pick a strong side.

Real Madrid v CSKA Moskou - UEFA Champions League

If that wasn’t enough, the Madrid fans will be expecting a response from their side and they should have too much quality for Rayo.

Prediction: Real Madrid 3-1 Rayo Vallecano

Let’

Marcelo Insists Real Madrid Don’t Have Attitude Problem After Worst Ever European Home Defeat

Real Madrid defender Marcelo has insisted that the reigning Champions League holders do not have an attitude problem, despite Los Blancos suffering a humiliating defeat to CSKA Moscow on Wednesday.

Madrid were stunned 3-0 by the Russians at the Santiago Bernabeu, with the loss going down as the side’s heaviest home defeat in any European competition. 

Goals from Fedor Chalov, Georgi Schennikov and Arnor Sigurdsson consigned Madrid to a chastening evening, although Wednesday’s result had no impact on the already confirmed Group G winners. 

Real Madrid  v CSKA Moscow - UEFA Champions League Group G

Despite Los Blancos’ evident struggles this season, Brazilian left back ?Marcelo was quick to play down accusations that Madrid were suffering from poor attitude and complacency.

Speaking to reporters after the defeat to CSKA, he insisted (as quoted by ?Goal): “I don’t think it’s an attitude problem.

“We never take to the pitch with the wrong attitude but perhaps some of our play may have been interpreted like that (against CSKA).

“You always have to play with desire at ?Real Madrid. There’s a long time until the last 16, we must improve and change the image we’ve given of ourselves. We have to be motivated and flying high at the Bernabeu.”

Amid a tense atmosphere at the ground, Madrid fans were heard jeering and whistling their side during the second half, with Marcelo later admitting he could understand the crowd’s anger.

He added: “When the fans whistle, it’s clear that you have to change something and the fans have every right to do it.

“We’re hurt, but we’re a team and we’re going to work so that it doesn’t happen again. We’re not happy because we can’t play like that today and put on a show like that. We tried to give it a good go but the match didn’t go as we expected.

“At Real Madrid you have to fight until the end. It was difficult to come back from 3-0 although we tried until the final whistle.”  ?

Let’