Dortmund’s Mats Hummels left feeling ‘bitter’ over Germany Euro 2024 snub

  • ‘I’m one of Germany’s five best defenders,’ Hummels tells Bild
  • Centre-back set to feature in Saturday’s Champions League final

Mats Hummels has said it is “bitter for me” to be left out of Germany’s Euro 2024 squad, but added that he understands Julian Nagelsmann’s decision.

The Dortmund defender is set to feature in Saturday’s Champions League final with Real Madrid, having scored the only goal in their second leg against Paris Saint-Germain to secure a 2-0 aggregate semi-final victory.

Continue reading...

One in five footballers using snus or nicotine pouches, survey reveals

  • True usage figures ‘likely’ to be even higher, report states
  • Players surveyed from Premier League, EFL and WSL

About one in five male and female professional players who took part in a new survey are using snus, nicotine pouches or both. The study by ­Loughborough University, ­commissioned by the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), also identified that two out of five had tried the pouches at least once.

The report states the true usage figures are likely to be higher owing to players not wanting to disclose use, even in an anonymous survey. Of the 628 male players surveyed, at Premier League or EFL clubs, 18% said they used it, while 22% of the 51 Women’s Super League players ­surveyed said they were users.

Continue reading...

Wembley to ramp up security operation for Champions League final

  • Move follows chaotic scenes at recent showpiece events
  • Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund meet on Saturday

Wembley will implement its biggest security operation for the ­Champions League final on Saturday in an effort to avoid any repeat of the chaos that has surrounded recent showpiece events at home and abroad.

More than 2,500 stewards will oversee crowds attending the match between Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, while a £5m investment in beefed-up infrastructure is intended to ensure the scenes that marred the Euro 2020 final at the national stadium remain consigned to the past.

Continue reading...

Wembley feels less like a pilgrimage thanks to the corporate nirvana of 2024 | Jonathan Liew

Wembley is everywhere, and everywhere is Wembley. But the more bases it tries to cover, the less special it becomes

The Wembley Stadium lasagne had one major design flaw, and it’s not the one you think. You may remember – right at the start of the pandemic – the Football Association being forced to deny a viral WhatsApp story that the stadium was being used to bake a giant lasagne to feed a hungry nation. And no, if you gave it even a moment’s consideration, the undersoil pitch heating probably wouldn’t have been strong enough to recreate oven conditions. That’s before you even get to the issue of the roof not being fully retractable.

But let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that we could surmount these technical obstacles and get the thing cooked. Let’s imagine our national stadium is now a delicious, bubbling mess of layered pasta sheets, ragu, bechamel and melted cheese. Now to divide the thing up and get it to those who need it most. And this – hypothetically speaking – is where the problems begin.

Continue reading...

Manchester United’s win made the FA Cup final seem like it matters again

A derby victory over Manchester City at Wembley helped Erik ten Hag’s team gain some self-respect after recent domination by their closest rivals

Some days, you wonder just why the FA Cup seems so embattled. Saturday’s final felt like a throwback: a sunny spring day, a sense of subplots coming together in an occasion that genuinely mattered, drama on the pitch and ultimately a shock. Perhaps it wasn’t quite Sunderland beating Leeds in 1973 or Southampton beating Manchester United in 1976 (or even Wigan beating Manchester City in 2013). But United finished lower in the league this season (eighth) than Wimbledon (seventh) did when they beat champions Liverpool in 1988. The status and histories of the clubs shouldn’t disguise what a shock United’s victory over City was.

For United, it was a great occasion. For them a first FA Cup in eight years and just their second trophy in seven, a step-up on the League Cup they won under Erik ten Hag last season. But more than that, they stopped City becoming the first club to win the Double in successive seasons. It’s not just about succeeding; it’s about the failure of others, especially your closest rivals.

This is an extract from Soccer with Jonathan Wilson, a weekly look from the Guardian US at the game in Europe and beyond. Subscribe for free here. Have a question for Jonathan? Email, and he’ll answer the best in a future edition

Continue reading...

Davide Nicola, Serie A’s Houdini, pulls off another escape act with Empoli | Nicky Bandini

After avoiding relegation with four other clubs, the magic manager performed his favourite trick on the final day

It takes a confident magician to hold their nerve until the last moment of an escape act, allowing the audience’s anticipation to give way to concern and then panic. Could a hidden key have slipped free from anxious fingers? Will the water in that sealed tank keep rising? Might it be too late by the time anybody realises they needed saving?

Davide Nicola has earned his reputation as Serie A’s Harry Houdini. In 2016, he took charge of a Crotone side who had just been promoted to Serie A for the first time in club history. After 29 games, they had 14 points.

Continue reading...

European football: Barcelona beat Sevilla in bittersweet farewell for Xavi

  • Frosinone relegated from Serie A after late Empoli goal
  • Galatasary and Club Brugge win titles in Turkey and Belgium

Barcelona ended the season with a 2-1 victory at Sevilla in La Liga on Sunday, making Xavi Hernández’s farewell bittersweet after a trophyless season in which they finished 10 points behind Real Madrid.

The final game for Xavi, who was sacked on Friday, leaves Barça second after a disappointing campaign in which they lost the Spanish Super Cup final to Real Madrid and were knocked out of the Champions League by Paris Saint-Germain in the last eight.

Continue reading...

FA Cup final triumph a fitting last act of defiance for embattled Erik ten Hag | David Hytner

Manchester United have endured crisis after crisis this season but their head coach will always have Wembley glory

It was one of the great shows of ego and defiance, pure theatre, pure Louis van Gaal. As another embattled Manchester United manager from the Netherlands found himself in the same position, it was impossible to ignore the echos. Erik ten Hag’s delivery was different, more measured and understated. But like Van Gaal before him, he had entered the arena for a fight. He made his punches count.

“I show you the cup,” Van Gaal said in 2016 after leading United to victory against Crystal Palace in the FA Cup final as he headed for the sack; he was informed of the decision 24 hours later. Van Gaal strode into the Wembley press conference room with the trophy, which he set down on the end of the desk before repositioning it bang in front of him after he took his seat.

Continue reading...

Leeds out to exorcise playoff demons in Wembley showdown with Saints | Louise Taylor

Daniel Farke’s team are up against a record of five playoff defeats as they take on opponents for a Premier League place

When Daniel Farke moved into the manager’s office at Leeds last summer one particular piece of advice soon started echoing in his ears. “Everyone told me: ‘You can’t rely on the playoffs for promotion because we never win,’” he said, grimacing slightly. “I didn’t know about the bad record when I signed my contract.”

Given that five previous involvements in Football League playoffs ended in five failures for Leeds, he would have preferred to avoid meeting Southampton in Sunday’s Championship final at Wembley. It possibly explained why he grinned through gritted teeth on Friday as he was told his amplified image had been projected on to the glass domed roof of the Trinity retail centre in Leeds city centre.

Continue reading...

‘When they don’t want me I will hear it’: Ten Hag tight-lipped on future after FA Cup win – video

Erik ten Hag refused to give any answers on his future as Manchester United manager after his side beat their local rivals Manchester City 2-1 to win the FA Cup. Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo scored in the first half to give United victory over an uncharacteristically poor City side but Ten Hag was unmoved when asked about his future. 'When they don't want me I will hear it,' he said after the match. 'When I took over it was a mess at United. We are on out way to constructing a team for the future and that will go with ups and downs.'

Continue reading...

Cold, hard money has whittled potential Champions League winners to a rich few | Jonathan Wilson

It is 20 years since Porto beat Monaco in the final – European football’s landscape has changed dramatically since then

When Porto beat Monaco to win the Champions League in 2004, it felt like the start of a new era. And for José Mourinho, it was. He had won the Uefa Cup the previous season, but that success in Gelsenkirchen was his springboard to points records at Chelsea, a treble with Internazionale and his titanic struggles with Pep Guardiola when he was at Real Madrid. For two decades he has sulked and pouted his way around Europe, and for at least half of that time he was remarkably successful. But for European football as a whole that final marked the end of something.

In the previous 20 years, the competition had been a genuinely pan-European affair, with winners coming from nine different countries; in the 20 years since, there has been only one finalist from outside the big four of Spain, England, Germany and Italy – and that was Paris Saint-Germain, whose financial clout has very little to do with the general position of French football.

Continue reading...

Manchester City 1-2 Manchester United: FA Cup final – as it happened

Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo got the goals as Erik ten Hag’s side stunned their noisy neighbours and ran out deserving winners

If Erik ten Hag is sacked after today’s final, Manchester United fans will be gutted to learn that Wayne Rooney will not be available to replace him. Despite his disastrous 15-match spell in charge of Birmingham City earlier this season, United’s former striker and record goalscorer has just been appointed head coach at Championship club Plymouth Argyle.

“To be the first team to do the double Double … the first team to win four in a row, the first team since Manchester United to do the treble: we keep knocking down these hurdles and this is another that we need to knock down,” says the Manchester City captain. Words: Jamie Jackson.

Continue reading...