Real Madrid hacked, Barcelona’s Laporta cuts it fine, Zlatan back for Sweden, more under-the-radar stories
The UEFA Champions League and Europa League has taken center stage again this week with the final round of 16 return legs being taken care of and the quarterfinal and semi-final draws also taking place.
This has meant that a number of intriguing stories have slipped by relatively undetected, and this column brings you a refresher of all of the stories that you might have missed from across the European soccer landscape this past week.
Here are our picks with some honorable mentions towards the end.
Real Madrid hacked
Real Madrid Twitter screengrab
Real Madrid’s Twitter account and website was bizarrely hacked at the start of the week with a fake injury report on Rodrygo Goes that is now being investigated appearing before it was swiftly removed by the Spanish champions ahead of their 3-1 Champions League win over Atalanta which booked their quarterfinal berth.
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Laporta and Barca cut it fine
New Barcelona president Joan Laporta left it late before proving that he and his new board have the funds to take over at Camp Nou with the businessman required by club statutes to have a deposit worth just over 15% of the overall budget before his presidency was finally confirmed.
Zlatan back for Sweden
AC Milan star Zlatan Ibrahimovic has come out of international retirement and is in the Sweden squad for the upcoming international break having retired from representing Scandinavian nation back in 2016 after the Euros in France as his time with Paris Saint-Germain ended.
French clubs block non-EU call-ups
Speaking of PSG, Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 clubs agreed that they will not release players for international duty outside of Europe due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and France’s struggle to curb the virus with federations such as Senegal already contacting their French counterparts to protest.
Dortmund snare PSG’s Coulibaly
A PSG-related topic again and another youth academy gem has been snatched away from them with the news that Borussia Dortmund have signed Soumaila Coulibaly to a five-year contract after the 17-year-old chose to follow in Dan-Axel Zagadou’s footsteps and pen professional terms in Germany.
Beneliga moves closer to reality
A merger between Belgium and the Netherlands has been touted for a while now and the proposal moved closer to fruition this week with the news that Belgian professional clubs have voted unanimously to explore the idea with the current television rights deal running out in 2025.
There was some good news for PSG this week as Juan Bernat’s contract was extended until 2025 just one week after Angel Di Maria penned a one-year deal with an option for a second. Unsurprisingly, Les Parisiens also topped L’Equipe’s annual investigation into Ligue 1 salaries with the top 11 of 30.
With seven consecutive defeats across all competitions and eight losses from nine since a 2-1 win away at VfB Stuttgart in early February, BVB-bound Borussia Monchengladbach coach Marco Rose is expected to be sacked and possibly replaced by Thomas Tuchel’s assistant Zsolt Low if the unthinkable happens and Schalke 04 defeat Die Fohlen this weekend.
Directorial De Rossi Role
FIFA World Cup winner Daniele De Rossi is back in soccer with the Italian national team after the 2006 champion accepted a position within head coach Roberto Mancini’s technical staff ahead of this summer’s European Championship.
De Rossi’s former club AS Roma have seen their final appeal against a 3-0 default loss to Hellas Verona rejected and the result caused by a failure to register Amadou Diawara will now stand in a Serie A season percolated by legal challenges due to regular forfeits or rule infringements