By Tim Stannard
Pressure piles on Zinedine Zidane as calls start for Jose Mourinho’s return
A fun new viral craze has been spreading across the Real Madrid world to leave puzzled women and men, girls and boys, cats and dogs scratching their heads in confusion. The challenge is trying to find a match in the past five years when the team qualifies for the Ray Hudson branding of ‘Magisterial’.
True, there have been times when Madrid were “alright”, “not terrible” and “got the job done, somehow” – the Champions League wins fit into the category – but the last time when the team blew a few socks of supporters was potentially back in the day of Jose Mourinho.
This is perhaps why Mourinho and the return of the Special One is a hot topic of conversation in the Madrid press on Thursday after Madrid’s horrible 3-0 defeat to PSG, which followed a near capitulation against Levante on Saturday, which followed failing to beat Villarreal, which followed a 1-1 draw at home to Valladolid and so on and so on. Sports Burst could literally go on for 19,000 words.
Once again, Coach Zizou put his finger on the main problem for Real Madrid but failed to come up with an answer - "I think it's the intensity." Mourinho would certainly take care of that situation…as well as the side-effect of destroying the morale of a locker room. But them’s the breaks.
Zidane is on borrowed time, there’s no doubt about it and a fourth managerial change in 15 months looks on the cards at Real Madrid in potentially the next ten days with Madrid facing three league games back to back starting with a trip to La Liga-leading Sevilla on Saturday – live on beIN SPORTS at 3PM ET - and ending with a Demolition Derby against Atletico Madrid in the Wanda.
Walks of shame and walks of fame - the Europa League returns
Despite a previously dismissive attitude towards the Europa League, Sports Burst has actually done a bit of research into the returning gargantuan and wholly pointless competition.
The group stages get underway on Thursday and 48 teams have been paired off in 24 games across 902 groups. The teams fall into four basic categories. The first is 'hey, this is a blast!" - hello (again) FC Dudelange of Luxembourg.
Then we have 'hey, this is a blast, but the extra games will get us relegated' - hat tipped jauntily to Getafe and Wolves, who are both in their respective league's drop zones already in preparation for their immediate futures.
Following up, it's 'hello darkness, my old friend' - Sevilla - and finally, the absolute walk of shame from a gaggle of clubs who will be horrified about living in the servant's quarters of European football, but who desperately need the Champions League spot that the winner picks up.
Picking up on that last group and Manchester United will be hosting Astana at Old Trafford on Thursday. Shame! Arsenal travel to Eintracht Frankfurt. Shame!. PSV host Sporting CP. Shame! And Porto will be playing Young Boys.
beIN SPORTS actually has one of the only human beings in North America who actually professes to enjoy the Europa League and will be relishing Basel against Krasnodar. Join Eric Krakauer and Gabrielle Amado on the Sports Burst live show at 12PM ET / 9AM PT where they will also be talking Real Madrid CRISIS! so we have at least one viewer left.
Not to be outdone by their European counterparts, the soccer bureaucrats at Conmebol have a Thursday night continental competition of their own.
The Copa Sudamericana semifinals are underway on beIN SPORTS. Independiente del Valle of Ecuador had quite the night with 2-0 defeat of Corinthians in the first leg. Another Brazilian club, Corinthians, will face a tough Colon examination today at 8:30PM ET / 5:30PM PT.
Football! And Footballs cousin returns
Football is back!
That’s Football football with a capital ‘F’. And ‘A’ for ‘America’.
That means all the fun stories of career-ending injuries, early retirements, players in constant pain, and extra judicial investigations from the NFL. Round 3 kicks off on Thursday with the Tennessee Titans visiting the Jacksonville Jaguars in the team’s final days before being turned into a London, England franchise as punishment for not being interesting enough.
In the early hours of Friday morning, another global sporting event will take place which will barely register in the collective American hive mind even though the country is participating in it. The Rugby World Cup – football’s distant cousin twice removed - gets underway in Japan and the US have been drawn into a tough-looking group which includes France, England and Argentina.
New Zealand, England and South Africa are the favorites but the Australians will probably win in a filthy, rule-challenging way as ever.