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...

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...

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...

Atalanta 3-0 Bayer Leverkusen: Europa League final – as it happened

Ademola Lookman scored a spectacular hat-trick to secure Atalanta’s first trophy since 1963 and end Bayer Leverkusen’s invincible dream

2 min: Leverkusen respond with a little bit of possession of their own. Again, nothing particularly noteworthy. Both teams carefully feeling their way into this match.

Atalanta get the 2024 Europa League final underway. They’re on the front foot immediately, Zappacosta, Koopmeiners and De Ketelaere combining down the right, albeit to no real effect. It’s a start, though.

Continue reading...

Bayer Leverkusen’s Amine Adli: ‘We can’t remember what’s it’s like to lose’

Morocco international on the togetherness, tenacity and smart management that has powered German champions’ record season

Life in the Bayer Leverkusen changing room is never boring when Jeremie Frimpong is around. Just ask Amine Adli. “It’s a lot of fun,” smirks the Morocco international. “Every day something is happening. Every player is funny in his own way and when you have a guy like Jeremie, he is always making everyone laugh. Even the coach sometimes … ”

There have been plenty of other reasons for Xabi Alonso to smile during the record-breaking campaign in which Leverkusen have become the first team to go through a Bundesliga season unbeaten. The Spaniard clambered into the stands at the Bay Arena after Saturday’s final-day defeat of Augsburg to celebrate with supporters at the club once referred to as “Neverkusen”. He will round off the campaign with a historic treble if they win Wednesday’s Europa League final against Atalanta in Dublin and Saturday’s German Cup final against second-tier Kaiserslautern.

Continue reading...

Aston Villa secure Champions League spot to end 41-year wait after Spurs’ loss

  • Tottenham defeat by Manchester City guarantees fourth
  • Club last played in the tournament in 1982-83

Aston Villa have qualified for the Champions League after Tottenham’s defeat at home against Manchester City on Tuesday night. The result confirms that Villa will finish fourth and take the final place on offer to an English club.

Villa last played in the tournament, known then as the European Cup, in the 1982-83 season, when they were knocked out by Juventus in the quarter-finals. They had qualified as the holders after beating Bayern Munich 1-0 in the 1982 final in Rotterdam thanks to a Peter Withe goal.

Continue reading...

Atalanta soar into first Europa League final after seeing off Marseille

Ademola Lookman, Matteo Ruggeri and El Bilal Touré scored in Atalanta’s 3-0 win over Marseille for a 4-1 aggregate victory on Thursday. The Italian side will meet Bayer Leverkusen, who overcame Roma, in their first European final in Dublin on May 22.

Lookman put Atalanta ahead in the second leg on the half-hour with a long-range strike past Pao López before setting up Ruggeri to double the lead seven minutes after the break.

Continue reading...

Bayer Leverkusen 2-2 Roma (agg 4-2): Europa League semi-final, second leg – as it happened

Bayer Leverkusen produced another astonishing comeback to take their unbeaten run to a European record 49 games

4 mins: Half a chance for Roma! An excellent lofted crossfield pass finds Lukaku running past the last defender, but his chest control isn’t good enough, and though Koval is a bit slow to come out he’s close enough to the ball when the Belgian gets to it that he can’t chip it over him.

2 mins: Piero Hincapie and Bryan Cristante have a bit of a tussle on the right flank, and after the ball goes out for a free-kick the Roma midfielder goads him with a gesture I frankly struggle to interpret – it was almost a shushing finger over the lips, except it was a finger over the chin and maybe the bottom lip if you’re lucky. It’s all a bit bad tempered and the referee has a chat with them.

Continue reading...