Diego Carlos talks Sevilla-Betis, Jules Kounde’s future; Belgium’s equality push; more under-the-radar stories
This last week of European soccer has seen Barcelona, Juventus, Sevilla and RB Leipzig exit the UEFA Champions League as the round of 16 second legs come to a head on Paramount+.
While Paris Saint-Germain were surviving a scare against Barca, FC Porto showing Juve up and Erling Haaland inspiring Borussia Dortmund to their safe passage against Julen Lopetegui’s men, there were other things going on that you might have missed.
Here are some of the under the radar stories.
Carlos sees Kounde at a European giant
Sevilla defender Diego Carlos is looking forward to this weekend’s Seville derby against rivals Real Betis with an opportunity for his team to bounce back from their recent UCL and Copa del Rey disappointment.
Speaking during a press conference organized by La Liga ahead of El Gran Derbi, the Brazilian spoke of the importance of bouncing back on Sunday at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Jules Kounde and Sergio Conceicao.
“It is a derby with two very good rivals,” Carlos responded to CBS Sports’ question. “We need positive results as soon as possible after our recent negative run. We are all enthusiastic and it promises to be a great match against a fantastic team.”
On Kounde, the 27-year-old is convinced that he could soon find himself playing for a European giant after impressing since his 2019 arrival from Girondins de Bordeaux.
“He has the quality to play for European greats,” Carlos said. “He is young and can still improve over time. He has quality, is strong and also looks to attack. We have a good relationship on and off the pitch — we communicate well.”
The Brazilian, who joined Sevilla from FC Nantes that same season praised his former coach Sergio Conceicao for leading Porto past Juve to the Champions League quarterfinals.
“He is a great coach,” Carlos said. “Spectacular as a coach and person. He really passed on a lot of belief. I really liked working with him and his way of working. I congratulate him and I am grateful for our time together.”
Finally, the South American admitted that he harbors hopes of playing for Brazil one day but distanced himself from Premier League speculation.
“One of my dreams has always been to play for Brazil and wear the shirt one day,” he said. “I have not spoken with anyone in the Premier League. I watch it on TV, but I think more about La Liga where I am playing.”
Waasland-Beveren and Belgium’s equality push
Belgian soccer was rocked last weekend by the killing of a man in Beveren and clubs at all levels have come together to condemn the crime as an act of hate.
Rainbow corner flags and captain’s armbands have and will continue to be on display in Belgium this weekend as part of the Football for ALL campaign and Pro League side Waasland-Beveren issued a strong statement in the wake of the tragedy.
“We condemn the murder and those who were fueled by hate,” read the official statement. “We believe in equality. Silence is complicity and we refuse to be silent.
“We plan on speaking with LGBTQ+ organizations, Pro League and soccer club management, as well as government officials to make our voices heard and put intentions into action. Let love, acceptance and progress win out over hate and bigotry.”
“Awareness is the first step to having a constructive conversation,” added Waasland-Beveren CEO Antoine Gobin exclusively to CBS Sports. “We hope that we, as a part of the Belgian footballing landscape, can help to bring awareness and to drive change together with the Pro League and other clubs.”
Schalke deny Rangnick deal; leave door open for heroic return
Schalke 04 have moved to distance themselves from rumors that Ralf Rangnick will return for a third spell with the club in a bid to lift the embattled fallen giants from their current crisis.
“The supervisory board will not give any opinion on possible candidates,” read an official statement from interim chief Dr. Jens Buchta. “The committee made it clear, however, that reports that there was a ‘preliminary agreement’ between Schalke and Rangnick or his advisor are not correct.”
The announcement ended with recognition that “Rangnick is and remains a highly valued expert and a welcome ex-Schalke,” which suggests that this is not quite dead in the water. Rangnick has also been linked with the Germany national team post — once Joachim Low leaves after the Euros — since leaving the Red Bull soccer group.
Villarreal hit with tragedy
The Spanish side are mourning the death of former player Franco Acosta after the Uruguayan was discovered to have drowned in his homeland. The former under-20 international spent five years with Villarreal before returning to South America and also spent time on loan with Racing Santander.
Court finds in favor of French league in latest TV money tussle
In the latest episode of this ugly chapter on the business side of French soccer, Canal+ have lost their court case with the LFP over the domestic media rights tender. The French body can keep the current $394 million per year deal for the top two fixtures each week until 2024 but Canal+ can and will very likely appeal.
Since COVID-19 brought the global game to its knees, Canal+ and beIN Sports have been arguing that the value of domestic rights has been significant devalued and the subsequent collapse of Mediapro’s over-inflated deal means that a main broadcaster needs to be identified.