Juventus came desperately close to pulling off a miraculous Champions League comeback against Real Madrid last night, only for a controversial late Cristiano Ronaldo penalty to deny the Old Lady a famous fightback.
A brace from Mario Mandzukic had given Juve hope before Blaise Matuidi bundled home a third to level the tie at 3-3.
But it was the manner of that goal which should have Chelsea fans concerned.
Douglas Costa’s inswinging cross should have been catching practice for Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas. Instead, he spilt the ball, the French midfielder then toeing home the Bianconeri’s third.
Such a mistake very nearly proved extremely costly for Real Madrid and surely now Los Merengues will decide to bring in a new goalkeeper in the summer – with Chelsea stopper Thibaut Courtois likely to be top of the pile.
The Costa Rican ‘keeper is an excellent shot-stopper but has been erratic in goal at times this season and Real crave a more consistent custodian.
David De Gea has now settled to life at Manchester United, but there have been rumblings regarding Courtois’ future at Chelsea for some time now.
In February a move back to Madrid, where Courtois was first-choice at rivals Atletico for three seasons, looked likely. However, as reported by the Evening Standard in March, Real were doubting whether spending £50 million-plus on the Belgian was the right move and could target cheaper options.
But after seeing how close the calamity of Navas last night came to dumping them out of the competition Real will surely realise they need one of the world’s best in goal if they are to get back to their best in La Liga and maintain their place as Europe’s best.
With Chelsea looking unlikely to qualify for the Champions League next season and Courtois increasingly looking out of sorts at Stamford Bridge, it would be no surprise now to see Real reconsider their stance on the towering Belgian.
Premier League Team of the Week II: Featuring Manchester City and Chelsea favourites
Who made The Boot Room’s Team of the Week for Game Week Two?
The Premier League action continued with a flurry in Game Week Two as Manchester City stole the headlines, reclaiming their spot at the top of the Premier League table with a 6-1 thumping of Huddersfield Town.
The weekend also saw wins for Chelsea, who made it two victories from two, and Leicester City, despite being reduced to 10-men, while Cardiff emerged from the early kick-off on Saturday with a point after a 96th minute penalty save to ensure a goalless draw.
Following the weekend’s fixtures, The Boot Room picks its six-a-side Team of the Week.
Cardiff City goalkeeper Neil Etheridge claims his place between the sticks after his heroics against Newcastle United. After a string of first half saves to deny Rafa Benitez’s side, he then saved brilliantly from Kenedy’s penalty to ensure the Bluebirds secured a point. This is the second time in as many weeks that the Filipino ‘number 1’ has denied an opponent from the spot, following his success against Bournemouth‘s Callum Wilson in Game Week 1. Newcastle marked a well-deserved clean sheet for 28-year-old, who is quickly proving his worth to Neil Warnock’s promoted side.
In defence, Manchester City’s Benjamin Mendy features after his influential display against Huddersfield. Not willing to allow his attacking teammates to claim all of the plaudits, the Frenchman’s marauding performance down the left flank proved a thorn in his opponent’s side from start to finish. So prolific was he, down the left hand side of the pitch, that he picked up two assists and could have had several more, such was his involvement in the final third. While this wasn’t a display of text book defending, his contribution cannot go unrecognised.
Under Maurizio Sarri, Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso has been required to play a more disciplined role than the Spaniard is typically used to. Nonetheless, while he is continuing to adapt to playing in a back four, and looking a little exposed defensively at times, his attacking instinct have shown no signs of letting up. The Spaniard showed good awareness to pick out Pedro for Chelsea’s opening goal against London rivals Arsenal, before showing composure to score the winner with the score tied at 2-2.
City’s David Silva has always been an absolute joy to watch and it was no different on Sunday. Making his 250th Premier League appearance – becoming the only the fourth Spaniard to reach said milestone – the 32-year-old ran the show from a central midfield position. Providing a match-best six key passes for his Manchester City teammates, Silva also had the chance to enjoy his own moment in front of goal, firing in a superb free-kick which beat the opposition ‘keeper at his far post.
Leicester City’s James Maddison looks as though he has played in the Premier League throughout his entire career. The 21-year-old, former Norwich City man has fitted seamlessly into Claude Puel’s side and already looks a player worthy of building a team around. In his favoured ‘number 10’ role he grabbed his first top flight goal against Wolves on Saturday, while weighing in with an all-action performance to ensure the 10-man Foxes didn’t let slip their two-goal lead.
City’s hat-trick hero, Argentine striker Sergio Aguero was a shoe-in for the Team of the Week after his display against the Terriers. The 30-year-old looks hungrier for goals than ever under Pep Guardiola and he repaid his manager’s decision to pair him alongside Gabriel Jesus with a clinical performance. City have only played three games this season and, already, Aguero has five goals to his name. After long-awaited knee surgery at the end of last season, he could be set for a remarkable, record-breaking season.
Three key takeaways from Crystal Palace’s transfer window
The summer transfer window drew to a close on Thursday.
Crystal Palace finished deadline day with the last-minute confirmation of the loan signing of Jordan Ayew from Swansea City. The Eagles finished the window with four total signings, but only spent a total of £9.5 million.
The south Londoners made do with a tight budget and held on to their crown jewel Wilfried Zaha, resulting in a successful summer. Here are three things we learnt from Palace’s transfer business.
Don’t believe the tabloid hype
The Wilfried Zaha saga was perhaps the most drawn out transfer rumour of the entire window, and as many Palace supporters had expected, it was completely unfounded.
Despite the numerous claims that Zaha had rejected a contract, was eager to leave to a supposedly bigger club, or was itching to play Champions League football, the Ivory Coast international remained at Selhurst Park.
The winger still has four years left on his contract, has spoken publicly about his love for the club, and will again be crucial to Crystal Palace’s success this season. Still an Eagle, Zaha’s status reveals the sensationalist nature of many tabloids that aim to create unrest when none is present.
Doing business on a budget is difficult, but not impossible
According to The Guardian, Palace’s transfer budget was restricted due to the high wages being paid to star players such as Mamadou Sahko and Christian Benteke. Yet, in the face of these barriers, the club managed to secure a number of canny deals at a low cost.
Ayew was brought in on loan, goalkeeper Vicente Guaita and midfielder Max Meyer were free transfers, and Cheikhou Kouyate was the only purchase of the summer at £9.5 million.
Four players of top quality for less than £10 million represents astute business, and Palace should be applauded for conducting decent deals on a shoestring budget.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s absence will be felt thanks to Chelsea‘s terrible transfer policy
Crystal Palace made it no secret that they were eager to bring Ruben Loftus-Cheek back to SE25 this summer, but unfortunately for both the club and player, Chelsea refused to let him leave.
On the face of it, it was an encouraging decision for Loftus-Cheek, as he would be finally handed consistent football at his parent club. Yet the loan signing of Mateo Kovacic from Real Madrid further pushes the England international down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge, leaving many to wonder why Chelsea barred him from a return to Crystal Palace.
In the end, the Eagles will miss his presence in midfield and will undoubtedly be frustrated to watch Loftus-Cheek wasting away on the Chelsea bench.
One to watch: Derby County’s 19-year-old midfielder Mason Mount
Introducing The Boot Room’s 2018/19 One to Watch series…
Mason Mount has arrived on loan at Derby County as a well-known quantity.
The Englishman spent a number of successful years in Chelsea’s youth academy, featuring under the Rams’ new assistant coach Jody Morris.
As a Blue, his progress has also been closely monitored by Derby’s new manager Frank Lampard, who was keen to bring Mount on loan after his stunning season in the Eredivisie with Vitesse.
“He’s creative, plays from central midfield in an attacking sense, scores, and creates goals,” Lampard said after the announcement that Mount would be joining Derby on loan this season.
These characteristics will be important for Derby who will once again be chasing promotion this season.
Mount is a dynamic threat in an attacking midfield role.
His ability to make correct decisions in attacking transition phases should prove crucial in unlocking the potential of the array of forward-thinking talent Lampard has at his disposal.
The 19-year-old is always looking to take risks to advance the ball and play attackers in behind the defence.
Similarly, he ensures routinely accurate delivery from set-pieces and is capable of scoring from dead ball situations himself.
Depending on the formation Lampard will look to play at Derby, Mount could also be suited to play as a number eight – his ball-carrying quality is another one of his strongpoints that would be particularly useful in such a role.
The 19-year-old has already proven his capabilities at senior level, but the Championship provides him with another chance to showcase his qualities to his parent club in a league with a different dynamic.
In saying this, Mount’s game should translate well to English football as it is not overly predicated on any particular style of football, nor is he reliant on a system being shaped around him. He is dynamic.
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