By Tim Stannard (@stannardsports)
1) Louis van Gaal’s last, last last, but probably not last chance to save his job
Sports Burst going to be honest here. It isn’t going to be Louis Van Gaal’s last stand at all, unless the universe does something completely jacked up. The Dutchman is a non-stick manager. Human Teflon. An indestructible Dutchman. The Manchester United boss has led the team to failure in the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and Capital One Cup so far this season. The club even lost its ‘canteen of year’ award to Stoke City.
The latest sporting disaster could well be in the Europa League, on Thursday, where the Dutchman is in charge of a side that is already 2-0 down in a clash against Liverpool, of all teams. The Old Trafford crowd may not be too forgiving of another crash-and-burn to be followed by another on Sunday against Manchester City in a big old derby.
The trouble is that in a similar manner to Arsenal, the desires of the supporters are not shadowed by the club’s cheeses with reports that Van Gaal is already underway planning next season’s disasters. You can find out how the Red Devils got on by tuning into the XTRA at 10PM ET and catch all the other big European highlights, too.
One of those highlights happens to be a bit of a crunch clash for Gary Neville’s Valencia. Down 1-0 against Athletic Bilbao in the Europa League, the Englishman needs his players to dig him out of a large hole, despite the fact that Neville appears to be made of the same Teflon substance as Louis Van Gaal in terms of invincibility.
2) Buffon warns Chelsea players of rough ride under Conte, as Ranieri wants to lay his hat in Leicester
At least Manchester United and Valencia are involved in some kind of European competition. That’s more than can be said for Chelsea, who are happily twiddling their midweek thumbs, after the sterling efforts of both Jose Mourinho and Guus Hiddink.
However, Gigi Buffon says that happier days could be around the corner for the Stamford Bridge supporters with ultra-disciplinarian, Antonio Conte, said to take over. However, life may not be a bag of giggling rabbits for the players with the Juve goalkeeper warning that he insists on a very strict code of conduct both on and off the pitch.
Leicester City players are starting to get some international recognition. James Vardy has already been touched by the hand of England boss, Roy Hodgson, in terms of previous call-ups, and is back in the squad to face Germany and the Netherlands. The striker is joined by midfielder, Danny Drinkwater, after a year of sterling work in the English East Midlands in helping to keep the team at the top of the Premier League table. Didier Deschamps has called up Drinkwater’s colleague, N’Golo Kante, as well. Tune into the XTRA at 10PM ET tonight to get the latest news from Ligue Un and all things French from our Jonathan Johnson.
Claudio Ranieri has said that Leicester City could well be his last ever club. “I hope they give me a long contract, six or seven years, and I retire here,” says a modest Ranieri. If Leicester City win the EPL, the Italian will be allowed to run the club for the next 2000 years from a cryogenic suspension tank, if necessary.
3) Madrid look to dump midfield moaners as Bale looks for TLC from Wales
Spanish sports daily, ‘AS’ are rumor-mongering that Real Madrid will be looking to offload Isco and James this summer, after fairly disappointing seasons on the pitch for the pair, and rather sulky behavior off it. But knowing the mind of Florentino Perez, it will be Luka Modric and Casemiro that are sold off for not being pretty enough, the punishment handed out to Angel di Maria and Mesut Ozil.
There could be a tug of war between Real Madrid and Wales with the managers of both outfits set to sit down and discuss what to do with Gareth Bale, Madrid’s fragile forward, during the upcoming friendly clashes for the Welsh against Northern Ireland and Ukraine. The dilemma for Zizou is wanting Bale to get much-needed minutes after a lengthy injury lay-off and not ending up with Bale returning home crocked for the Clasico and Champions League quarterfinals.
4) Daniele de Rossi in moving tribute to boot room hero for Italy
A very moving story from Italy with Roma midfielder, Daniele de Rossi, leaving his 2006 World Cup-winning medal in the coffin of the national team’s former kitman, Pietro Lombardi, who passed away recently at the age of 92.
Meanwhile, Luigi di Canio, has become the coach of Udinese for the second time, after a 16-year absence. The Serie A side have been dragged into a relegation fight and sits just four points off the relegation zone. Catch a full preview of the Serie A weekend on the XTRA at 10PM ET tonight.
5) Riders all ready for start of Moto GP season
Don’t forget that beIN SPORTS is the new home of MotoGP, bikes that go so fast, they actually take off. Technically that’s not entirely true. But they are fast. The new season gets underway in Qatar on Sunday, the main protagonists have been looking ahead to a campaign that could be as spikey and controversial as the last, with any luck.