Another week goes by and we’re well into 2021 which has left us a lot to talk about in this week’s edition of ‘Good, Bad and Ugly’. From fans rebelling against Champions League reforms to Yoshihito Nishioka's tantrum and even the reaction to Amey Ranawade's head injury but the world keeps spinning.
FC Porto beat Juventus in an extra-time thriller
After a sensational 2-1 win in Portugal, where little went reigning Italian Champions Juventus’ way, the second leg was supposed to be comeback city for Andrea Pirlo’s men. Especially with Cristiano Ronaldo in their side and nobody, aside from the Porto fans, gave the Liga nos side any chance of qualifying into the next round despite their lead. However, in yet another show of underdog brilliance, that is exactly what the reigning Portuguese champions did in an extra-time thriller.
That is despite going down to ten-men in a moment of utter folly from Mehdi Taremi when he earned a second yellow card, two minutes after his first, for kicking the ball away. But that didn’t stop Porto who scored a crucial away goal via Sérgio Oliveira’s 30-yard free-kick, and his second goal of the night, to ensure qualification via the away goals rule. But while Oliveira gained plaudits for his performances, it was 38-year-old Pepe who stole the show with a defensive masterclass to ensure that Juventus’ late flurry didn’t halt Sérgio Conceição’s courageous underdogs.
Players react after Amey Ranawade’s head injury in ISL Final
Late in the first half, Mumbai City FC’s right-back Amey Ranawade and ATK Mohun Bagan’s left-back Subhasish Bose clashed near the touchlines with Bose walking away from the collision. However, Ranawade wasn’t so lucky with the right-back staying on the floor and it saw the players come to his rescue. They proceeded to urge the medical staff, who hadn’t moved until that moment, to rush to the Mumbai City FC man’s aid with Bagan’s medical staff also helping their opponents.
Not only that, it saw an outpour of support flood in for the 23-year-old from across the ISL with Ranawade eventually ushered into an ambulance and taken straight to the hospital. The game was naturally affected by the injury and long-stoppage with a few Mumbai players coming out of the half-time break shaken but they managed to compose themselves enough to seal a late winner.
Andre Agnelli’s plans for a revamped Champions League
Days before Juventus and Barcelona were knocked out of the Champions League, Andrea Agnelli announced that a new format for the Champions League was close to fruition. The revamped tournament has been in talks for quite a while now with UEFA looking to create an expanded tournament of 36 teams, with each club playing 10 group matches. However, it has seen fans across Europe rebel against just that Football Supporters Europe publishing a 24-page document that critiques UEFA’s plan.
Not only that, Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park stadium had a massive banner that said “Stop UEFA Reforms” in light of the fact that the new Champions League plans could see domestic football cut down. That would force Premier League clubs to stop playing the League Cup/Carabao Cup as the fixture congestion could quite literally kill players. Especially with the new revamped structure said to consist of 180 games to eliminate 12 teams, adding an extra four games to an already congested calendar.
Varun Chakravarthy to miss England T20Is after failing fitness tests
Spinner Varun Chakravarthy is set to miss out on India’s five-match T20I series after he failed the mandatory fitness test despite having no injury. This is the second time the 29-year-old will miss out on a chance for a potential India debut with a shoulder injury ruling him out before. Chakravarthy was amongst the standout Indian players in the IPL 2020 and was picked for the England series after successfully completing his rehab on the shoulder injury.
However, his failure to meet the new and mandatory BCCI fitness levels will see him replaced with Rahul Chahar touted as the potential replacement. Reports have further indicated that the 29-year-old mystery spinner failed the yo-yo test twice which further played a part in him losing his spot.
And the Ugly
Yoshihito Nishioka retired in Marseille because he wasn’t allowed coffee
The tennis world was stunned when Yoshihito Nishioka retired in Marseille in his second set and things became even worse with his reason being coffee-related. The 25-year-old was unhappy that the officials refused to let him have a cup of coffee over COVID-19 safety protocol rules. It saw Nishioka eventually retire after Emil Ruusuvuori broke him in the second set but not before he screamed and shouted at the officials during the long-break between sets.
While the lack of a coffee wasn’t the entire incident, with Nishioka reporting he was jet-lagged after the game and wasn’t feeling well. Not only that, the 25-year-old further revealed that he “wasn’t convinced that the doctor gave him the prescribed medicine” and added that he believes it is “unreasonable to play in a harsh environment” because of the new coronavirus rules.
FA tell players of Olympic omission 90 minutes before WSL league game
The English Football Association has come under heavy fire over the last week with Birmingham manager Carla Ward and Everton manager Willie Kirk both criticizing the organisation. This comes in light of the fact that the FA told players about their omission from Team Great Britain's Tokyo Olympic squads about 90 minutes before the WSL (Women’s Super League) games kicked off. It saw goalkeeper Hannah Hampton adversely affected with Ward admitting that the 20-year-old was in tears during her pre-match warm-up.
She wasn’t the only one with several players from the Everton squad also told that they were not on the shortlist and both managers admitted that they spent a large chunk of the time placating their players. While the FA owned up to the mistake immediately, the statement implied that the organisation forgot a game was set to kick off and revealed the lack of attention and effort at the top.