Referee Stphanie Frappart: ‘Girls see me on TV and know it’s possible’

The official is regarded as one of Frances very best and will take charge of Liverpool v Chelsea in Istanbul on Wednesday Referees tend not to clapped on to the pitch, let alone greeted with purpose-made banners, but supporters of Amiens decided to make an exception before their match against Strasbourg in April. It was a historic occasion, the first top-flight mens match in France to be refereed by a woman, Stphanie Frappart. Welcome to the Stade de la Licorne, Madame Frappart, read a banner held aloft by home fans. Long live women in football! Maybe Liverpool and Chelsea fans are planning a similar display for when appointed for that Amiens versus Strasbourg match in April, the fixture suddenly received …

Midfield can give Liverpool edge over Tottenham in final reckoning | Eni Aluko

The relentless pressure to win the ball high up the pitch gives Liverpools engine room a different kind of creativity from Tottenham that may be decisive in the Champions League final What a Champions League final we have in store. I am in Madrid and visited the Wanda Metropolitano on Thursday and there was already an anticipatory buzz around the stadium, so the atmosphere should be wonderful. I am lucky enough to have secured a ticket through the Uefa Masters course Im doing and Im expecting the match between two fantastic English teams to be as vibrant as the atmosphere. With the attacking style of both teams it promises to be spectacular. Whichever team wins will have provided the perfect …

Ten big games to watch this weekend in the European leagues

The Premier League has ended but there is still a lot at stake in Germany, Spain, Portugal, France, Turkey and Italy The Premier League has come to its conclusion, but there is plenty to play for across Europe. Here are 10 hugely significant matches to watch this weekend. Bayern Munich v Eintracht Frankfurt, Bundesliga We start with a dramatic climax to the season in Germany where, much like with Manchester City and Liverpool in the Premier League, the reigning champions go into the final day of the season with a two-point lead over a club associated with Jrgen Klopp. Bayern had the opportunity to win the title last week, but they could only draw with in-form RB Leipzig. Facing Eintracht …

Hell be the best striker in Europe the stunning emergence of Luka Jovic | Nick Ames

The 21-year-old Serbia striker is being chased by clubs such as Real Madrid and Liverpool as he prepares to face Chelsea in the Europa League semi-final Eintracht Frankfurt had just beaten Schalke 3-0 and, among the smiling faces inside Commerzbank Arena, Fredi Bobic had particular cause to feel satisfied. Their young loanee striker, Luka Jovic, had scored two of the goals; he now had a dozen for the season and it was not even mid-November. Luka has found his way here, said Bobic, the clubs sporting director. He disappeared at Benfica, but we remembered him. That was a little modest, because Bobic knew he was witnessing the fruits of a personal pursuit that began at the start of the decade. …

Barcelona win La Liga title as Lionel Messi goal secures victory over Levante

Lionel Messi came off the bench to score the winner in Barcelonas 1-0 victory over Levante, which confirmed the Catalans as La Liga champions Lionel Messi fittingly sealed Barcelonas 26th La Liga title on Saturday by coming off the bench to score the only goal in a 1-0 win over Levante in front of a jubilant Camp Nou crowd, who celebrated a remarkable eighth league crown in 11 years. Barcelonas captain decided the game and the title in the 62nd minute as he received a header from Arturo Vidal, effortlessly freeing himself from two defenders with his right foot before using his left to plant the ball into the far bottom corner. Messi had started on the bench along with …

Alonso strikes late to secure Chelsea victory against Slavia Prague

Alonsos 85th-minute goal gave Chelsea a 1-0 away win in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final against Slavia Prague This ended up a timely reminder of the resilience, and ruthlessness, Chelsea can still command on this stage. A tie that might have veered away from them, particularly while they laboured to contain Slavia Pragues urgent intent, was claimed late on by a marauding full-back, breaking late into the box to meet an inviting centre. That, at the very least, was an indication of this teams underlying ambition. Marcos Alonso has not been himself since the onset of winter so it was reassuring to see him galloping untracked between defenders again, even in the dregs of the game, to …

Bonucci backtracks on Kean remarks after mounting criticism led by Sterling

Leonardo Bonucci has backtracked on comments about racial abuse suffered by Juventus team-mate Moise Kean after widespread condemnation Leonardo Bonucci has backtracked on suggestions his Juventus team-mate Moise Kean was partly responsible for the racist abuse he received from Cagliari supporters by insisting he was misunderstood. The defender had said Kean could have done it differently and the blame is 50-50, after the 19-year-old spread his arms while facing the crowd after scoring. Bonucci had since been criticised by, among others, Raheem Sterling for saying so, but now says he was too hasty. However, he wrote on Instagram: After 24 hours I want to clarify my feelings. I was interviewed right at the end of the game, and my words …

Adrien Rabiot: the golden boy who became PSGs French football outcast | Ed Aarons

Midfielder should be a force at his club but a contract stand-off and off-pitch behaviour have led to him being frozen out Its not that Im hiding away, insisted Adrien Rabiot the defeat a tweet from Patrice Evra which celebrated the clubs surprise exit. In this era of social media obsession, what greater crime could there be? Yet, as he has consistently proved since bursting on to the scene under Carlo Ancelotti at Parc des Princes, there is more to Rabiot than meets the eye. His issues at PSG date back to 2014 and Laurent Blancs spell in charge, when the young midfielder who spent a few months at Manchester Citys academy as a teenager was on the brink of …

Zinedine Zidane responds to the call to save Real Madrid from darkness | Sid Lowe

With infighting rife, the man who brought Madrid such riches in Europe has made a remarkable return to the Bernabu Darkness descended on Real Madrid, the metaphor visiting them on a Sunday night in Valladolid, light not let in until the following evening when he returned. The week after they lost it all, the man returned who won it all. Zinedine Zidane is back. Less than a year since he walked out, insisting that this was a see you later not a goodbye, he has walked back in again. Just how different the place is, just how bad it had got in his absence, was shown by seven days in which it all slipped through their fingers. Shown too, by …

Real Madrids unhappy birthday sees club with nothing left to play for

Defeat to Ajax ended a run of three Champions League wins, days after Copa del Rey and La Liga hopes also evaporated Today is 6 March, Real Madrids birthday but there is nothing to celebrate. This week has been the worst in their 117-year history: three home defeats, eight goals conceded and only one scored, all three competitions gone, one after the other the La Liga title race, have won more clsicos than Real, two victories in four days last week leaving the all-time record at 96-95. For the first time too, a home team holding a 2-1 first-leg lead went out of the Champions League. Real are used to breaking records but not like this. Four home defeats in …