By Tim Stannard
1) Belgium still hold sway in FIFA world rankings
Belgium must have some kind of special glamor power with football’s governing body, or the country collectively holds an awful lot of photos of top FIFA bods at Christmas Karaoke parties going through an enthusiastic Abba medley.
The most under-achieving country in terms of talent vs results are still being rewarded for their purely theoretical footballing prowess by holding fast in the FIFA rankings in second place. Second!
Brazil and Colombia being tied in fourth and fifth looks highly iffy too, considering the respective impact of those countries over the past couple of years. Both are above Chile somehow while Argentina remain at the top.
Despite the top secret in-box of matters for Gianni Infantino to deal with, finding a way to rank the teams in a less insane manner must be a top priority. Throwing darts at names pinned to a board would be more accurate that their current system. Belgium. Really.
2) Ronaldo's Real Madrid warning after Sporting escape
In the end, Cristiano Ronaldo went for the muted goal celebration despite a late equalizing effort in Wednesday’s Champions League clash against Sporting, which eventually became a victory. Barely a pec in sight.
CR7 was in no doubt that Real Madrid will have to play an awful lot better in future. "This is a warning that we cannot become soft," said a post-match Ronnie.
3) Leicester win CL debut while Spurs pull a Spurs
Elsewhere on the night, the big winners were Leicester City in a Champions League debut win against Brugges, whilst the big losers - aside from Tottenham, as ever - continued to be some of the smaller sides who were hammered by the big guns once again. Celtic, Rostov, and Legia conceded 18 in their respective clashes without a single goal being scored in return.
4) Mourinho fails to find enthusiasm for Europa League adventure
Europa League? Anyone, anyone? Bueller? Well, it is a slow burner to be sure but there is some fun to be had in Thursday's 24 games spread from PAOK to Genk.
Manchester United, for one, are slumming it in the contest and Jose Mourinho probably couldn't be more scathing about his club's participation in the Europa League, a leaving present from Louis Van Gaal.
Meanwhile, Inter Milan coach Frank de Boer, also needs to make a decision on how seriously to take the contest, especially with Juventus coming to town in Serie A on Sunday. Tune into the XTRA at 7PM ET for all the highlights of Thursday's best games.
5) Tour de France winner targeted in new doping hack
More files have been released from the hack on the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada), following the details leaked over the Williams sisters in tennis and Simone Biles earlier in the week. The latest leak involves British cyclists Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins.
The details released do not suggest any wrongdoing, but the hacking group claims that it wants to highlight athletes being given medical exemptions to take banned substances - allergy medicines, asthma drugs - with the permission of medical authorities. They claim that it is a form consensual doping to contrast the hard line taken on Russian athletes by sport's governing bodies.
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