Cristiano Ronaldo Scores His 700th Senior Goal During Euro 2020 Qualifier Against Ukraine

​Cristiano Ronaldo has scored his 700th senior goal for club and country – becoming just the sixth player ever to reach that milestone.

Following on from his strike against Luxembourg on Friday, Ronaldo scored his 700th goal during Portugal’s crucial Euro 2020 qualifier against Group B leaders Ukraine at the NSC Olympiyskiy in Kyiv.

With Portugal trailing 2-0 in the qualifier, ​Ronaldo blasted home a penalty with typical ease after a Ukraine handball. 

Ronaldo is now also closing in on 100 goals for Portugal, with Monday’s strike against Ukraine taking the 34-year-old to 95 goals in 162 appearances for the Selecção das Quinas.

At club level, Ronaldo scored five goals for his boyhood club Sporting CP before joining Manchester United in a £17m move in 2003.

He spent six years at Old Trafford where he scored 118 goals in just under 300 appearances, lifting three Premier League titles, a Champions League and even his first Ballon d’Or.


After joining Real Madrid in what was a world-record move at the time, Ronaldo went on to win another four Ballon d’Or titles, as well as 16 major club honours and the European Championships with Portugal.

Ronaldo crucially enjoyed the most prolific spell in his entire career at Real Madrid too, scoring more that one ever game to finish on 450 goals in just 438 matches.

Since moving to Juventus, Ronaldo has scored 32 goals in 51 appearances, taking his total tally in club football to 605 goals in just 811 games.

He’s also picked up 211 assists throughout that time, with his first coming as a teenager at Sporting CP in the UEFA Cup against FK Partizan Belgrade in 2002.

With Ronaldo becoming just the sixth player to ever reach 700 senior goals, the 34-year-old will now be looking to catch up with Ferenc Puskás (709) and Gerd Müller (721), targets which could be achieved later this season.

Before he hangs up his boots for good, Ronaldo could also overtake football’s top three goalscorers of all time, with Pelé (757), Romário (758) and Josef Bican (762) currently taking up those positions.


For more from Ben Carter, follow him on Twitter!

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Gianluigi Buffon Reveals Mental Health Struggles in Eye-Opening Letter to His Younger Self

Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has revealed his struggles with mental health issues over the years in a soul-bearing letter to his younger self. 

Written for the Player’s Tribune, the article essentially goes through a few highs, a lot of lows, but mainly the steps he took to combat those low points. 

Early on, he points out that a keeper must be ‘fearless’, and that it is a trait held in higher esteem than technique by most coaches. He has this trait.

Gianluigi Buffon

But he also has the side-effects, as he explained: “A person who is fearless can easily forget that they have a mind. If you live your life in a nihilistic way, thinking only about football, your soul will start to wither. Eventually, you will become so depressed that you won’t even want to leave your bed.”

Admonishing his 17-year-old self, he continues: “You can laugh if you want, but this will happen to you. It will happen at the height of your career, when you have everything a man could ever want in life. You will be 26 years old. The keeper of Juventus and the Italian national team. You will have money and respect. People will even call you Superman.

“But you’re no superhero. You’re just a man like anyone else. And the truth is that the pressure of this profession can turn you into a robot. Your routine can become a prison. You go to training. You come home and watch TV. You go to sleep. You do the same the next day. You win. You lose. It repeats and repeats.

“One morning, when you get out of bed to go to training, your legs will start shaking uncontrollably. You will be so weak that you won’t be able to drive your car.

“Initially, you will think it’s just fatigue, or a virus. But then it will get worse. All you’ll want to do is sleep. At training, every save will feel like a titanic effort. For seven months, you will have a hard time finding joy in life.”

The solution? First of all, remembering why he became a footballer in the first place. He goes into great detail describing how he fell in love with Cameroon’s Thomas N’Kono during Italia ’90, and thus the position. 

But it wasn’t just his abilities. It was the ‘soul’ he showed while displaying them. As Gigi affirmed:

“This is why you became a footballer. Not because of money or fame. Because of the artistry and style of this man Thomas N’Kono. Because of his soul.”

The soul is an integral part of Buffon’s being and money and fame, it seems, have done little to nurture his.

“You must remember this: money and fame isn’t the purpose,” he later added. “If you are not taking care of your soul, if you are not looking for inspiration in things outside of football, you will deteriorate.

“If I could give you one piece of advice, it is to be much more curious about the world around you when you are still young. You will save yourself, and especially your family, a lot of heartache.”

Gianluigi Buffon

And that means thinking less about himself, less about his own stardom, as he confirmed in a later paragraph. 

“This is what will get you out of your depression,” he wrote. “Not remembering that you are special, but remembering that you are the same as everyone else. You cannot comprehend this now, at 17 years old, but I promise you that real courage is showing weakness and not being ashamed.

“You deserve the gift of life, Gigi. Just as everyone does. Remember this.”

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The Current Leaders of Europe’s Top 20 Leagues

​Around Europe, there are some utterly fascinating title races beginning to unfold, and there is fantastic football to be seen wherever you look.

The more popular leagues often dominate the headlines, but there are stories to be told from all of Europe’s major leagues, with teams all vying for a place in next season’s Champions League.

Here are the current standings of Europe’s top 20 leagues, as dictated by UEFA’s current ​league rankings.


La Liga – Real Madrid

Eden Hazard

Crisis? What crisis?

Despite a rocky start to the ​La Liga season, ​Real Madrid currently occupy top spot, and they are actually unbeaten in their eight games to date.

If this is ‘the worst Real team in years’, Los Blancos fans must be fairly satisfied. You’d think.


Premier League – Liverpool

Mohamed Salah,Roberto Firmino

This season, nobody in the ​Premier League has come close to ​Liverpool.​

The Reds deservedly sit atop the standings thanks to eight wins from as many games, with Jurgen Klopp’s men looking to lift that elusive league title.

So far, so good.


Bundesliga – Borussia Mönchengladbach

Marcus Thuram,Breel Embolo

No, that’s not a typo. ​Bayern Munich actually aren’t top of the ​Bundesliga.

Instead, that honour goes to Marco Rose’s Borussia Mönchengladbach, who truly have been the surprise package of the season so far.

Maintaining their lead is not going to be easy, but getting to the top in the first place wasn’t supposed to be straightforward either.


Serie A – Juventus

Paulo Dybala

Once again, it’s ​Juventus who find themselves top of the ​Serie A, but it hasn’t all been plain sailing for them this year.

I Bianconeri’s performances have been good, but they find themselves locked in a battle for top spot with Antonio Conte’s ​Inter, who have looked like a side reborn since the Italian’s arrival.

Will it be nine league titles in a row for Juventus, or will someone else spoil the party?


Ligue 1 – Paris Saint-Germain

Mauro Icardi

Paris Saint-Germain have not been overly dominant so far this year, but they have still fought their way to top spot in France.

There are plenty of teams who are battling to keep pace with Thomas Tuchel’s men, so PSG know they can ill-afford to take their foot off of the gas pedal.

Les Parisiens are fighting for their third consecutive league title, and their seventh in eight seasons.


Premier Liga – Lokomotiv Moscow

Vedran Corluka

After falling short against Zenit Saint Petersburg last season, Lokomotiv Moscow are trying to go one step further this time around.

There are four teams currently sat on the same points tally, but Lokomotiv’s goal difference sees them occupy top spot.

Their goalscoring saviour? None other than former ​West Bromwich Albion midfielder ​Grzegorz Krychowiak. Right then. Ok.


Liga NOS – Famalicão

Ruben Lameiras

Undoubtedly one of the biggest feel-good stories from around Europe this season has been in Portugal’s Liga NOS.

Newly promoted Famalicão have fired their way to the top of the standings and into ​90min’s Definitive European Power Rankings. The minnows have won seven of their eight games and are undefeated so far.

The highlight of their run was a 2-1 win over Sporting CP, and fans across Europe are hoping to see their form continue.


Pro League – Club Brugge

Emmanuel Bonaventure

Every year, there are plenty of sides in with a shout of winning Belgium’s Pro League. With Vincent Kompany’s Anderlecht deciding not to bother this season, there’s room for even more contenders to join in the fun.

2017/18 champions Club Brugge currently find themselves in first place, having enjoyed an unbeaten start to the campaign.

They’re also unbeaten in the ​Champions League, and they were a matter of seconds from stealing three points away from Real Madrid.


Eredivisie – Ajax

FBL-NED-EREDIVISIE-THE HAGUE-AMSTERDAM

As we have come to expect, it’s a straight shoot-out at the top of the Eredivisie​ between Ajax and PSV Eindhoven, but it’s Erik ten Hag’s men who have the advantage right now thanks to their superior goal difference.

Dusan Tadic, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and new signing Quincy Promes have all been in scorching form this season, and this title race promises to be one of the most exciting around.

Ajax are looking to win back-to-back titles for the first time since the 2013/14.


Premier Liga – Shakhtar Donetsk

FBL-EUR-C1-ATALANTA-SHAKHTAR

Obviously it’s still early in the season, but the race for the Premier Liga title in Ukraine seems all but over.

Shakhtar Donetsk’s dominance doesn’t look to be coming to an end any time soon, because they have already opened up a huge lead over the rest of the competition.

Will it be four titles in a row for the Miners?


Süper Lig – Alanyaspor

Yacine Bammou

With no runaway leaders this year, the Turkish​ Süper Lig really is up for grabs.

However, with the heavy hitters struggling to impress, it’s Alanyaspor who have taken advantage and fired themselves to the top of the table.

There are so many teams hovering around the upper end of the table, so there could still be plenty of twists and turns before this season is over.


Austrian Bundesliga – Red Bull Salzburg

FBL-EUR-C1-SALZBURG-GENK

Austrian football has attracted plenty the interest of fans across Europe this season thanks to the emergence of young ​Erling Håland, who has been scoring goals for fun.

It should come as no surprise to hear that Håland’s side, Red Bull Salzburg, are comfortable leaders in the Bundesliga.

Their teenage sensation has been in outrageous form this year, but Salzburg are far more than just a one-man team, as Champions League sides are quickly figuring out.


Fortuna Liga – Slavia Prague

Peter Olayinka

After a long spell away from the Czech Fortuna Liga title, Slavia Prague finally got their hands back on the trophy last season, and they are on track to defend it this year.

Drawn in the Champions League alongside ​Barcelona, Inter and ​Borussia Dortmund, Slavia might have to make do with domestic glory this year.

However, with a number of exciting players in their ranks, expect to see their name involved in Europe’s most prestigious competition next season as well.


Superliga – Midtjylland

Runners-up for the last two seasons, Midtjylland are looking to take that next step towards glory in the Danish Superliga.

Their run of ten games without defeat was a perfect way to start the season and, even though that streak may have come to an end, Midtjylland still look good value for their lead.

Copenhagen are not far behind, so this title race is one to keep an eye on.


Super League – Olympiacos

Daniel Podence

Olympiacos saw their run of seven consecutive Super League titles come to an end in 2018, so they are looking to get their hands on the trophy once more.

As Greece’s most successful side in history, they are often the favourite to win it all, but they are still locked in a battle with the numerous sides around them in the table.

There’s a lot of football left to be played, but it’s looking good for Olympiacos.


First Division – Anorthosis Famagusta

Cast your eyes over to Cyprus and you’ll see Anorthosis Famagusta sit atop the First Division table.

They found themselves locked in a relegation battle last season, but they have clawed their way to the top of the table at this early stage in the season.

Teams have games in hand over others in the league, so the final standings in the First Division are far from a certainty.


Serbian SuperLiga – Red Star Belgrade

FBL-C1-EUR-CRVENA-ZVEZDA-OLYMPIACOS

Red Star Belgrade were the runaway winners of the Serbian SuperLiga in the last two seasons, and they are eager to make it three in a row this year.

Vojvodina are not far behind, but Red Star’s impressive defence has been enough to see them climb into top spot.

Regulars in the Champions League group stage, expect to see their name in the competition even more over the coming years.


 1.HNL – Hajduk Split

As it stands, it’s Hajduk Split who sit at the summit of the 1.HNL in Croatia, but their lead is far from secure.

Dinamo Zagreb, who led for the opening weeks of the campaign, are incredibly close behind. With games in hand to consider, this league could go either way.

Hajduk were nowhere near the title picture last season, so this year could be theirs.


Scottish Premiership – Rangers

FBL-EUR-C3-RANGERS-FEYENOORD

Celtic aren’t having it their own way this season, and they recently lost their lead in the Scottish Premiership to Rangers.

As one of the fiercest rivalries around, you can guarantee that both teams are going to throw their all at this title race. Steven Gerrard’s men may have the advantage now, but whether they will be in the same position at the end of the year is a different question.

The Gers haven’t won the top title since 2011, and fans are desperate to see them end that dry streak at Celtic’s expense.


Swiss Super League – Basel

FBL-EUR-C3-BASEL-KRASNODAR

Last but not least, we have the Swiss Super League. At the minute, it’s Basel at the top of the table.

Basel were humbled by runaway winners Young Boys last season, and they are clearly out looking for revenge.

With only a few points in it, it will certainly be interesting to see which way this title race eventually goes.


For more from Tom Gott, follow him on Twitter!

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Italy 2-0 Greece: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Azzurri Secure Euro 2020 Qualification

Italy hosted Greece on Saturday night in another Euro 2020 qualifier, and had the chance to secure their place in next summer’s competition with three points.

Donning a silky, special edition green kit to symbolise the ‘renaissance’ of the Italy team and the inclusion of a number of young players, Roberto Mancini’s men struggled to create any significant chances in the opening 45 minutes, summing up a pretty dreadful first half.

FBL-EURO-2020-ITA-GRE-QUALIFIER

Italy started the second half with more purpose, but still failed to carve open anything concrete. However, the increased pressure finally paid off in the 61st minute, when they won a penalty following a handball from Andreas Bouchalakis. Jorginho stepped up, and put away the penalty as nonchalantly as always.

Federico Bernardeschi then doubled Italy’s lead soon after with a strike from long range that caught the keeper cold. In all honesty, Alexandros Paschalakis should have done a lot better. 

2-0 was the final score, meaning Italy secured their place in Euro 2020 despite an unconvincing performance. Greece however, now need a miracle if they want to finish in the top two.


ITALY

Key Talking Point 

The Azzurri have been in formidable form under the management of Roberto Mancini, with six wins from six in their group, and seven from seven in all competitions. As well as having eyes on next year’s competition, Italy would have had a sneaky look at their record for most consecutive wins, which dates all the way back to 1938 and stands at nine.

FBL-EURO-2020-ITA-GRE-QUALIFIER

This game proved to be tricky for the Italians, and they really struggled to find a way past a resolute Greek defence. However, the most important thing for them is that they got the win to claim their place at Euro 2020, and also stretch their winning run to eight games.

With Liechtenstein and Bosnia and Herzegovina to come, the players will be extremely confident of breaking the record, and putting their names in the history books. 


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Donnarumma (7); D’Ambrosio (6), Bonucci (6), Acerbi (6), Spinazzola (6); Barella (6), Jorginho (7*) Verratti (6); Chiesa (6), Immobile (5), Insigne (6)

Subs: Bernardeschi (7), Belotti (6), Zaniolo (N/A)


STAR MAN

In a game with very little quality, Chelsea man Jorginho showed his class with a very good display.

The midfielder ran the game in the middle of the park, and attempted to progress the play on multiple occasions with some impressive through balls and forward thinking.

It wasn’t an incredible display, but he was most certainly the best player in an otherwise underwhelming performance. A goal from the penalty spot also capped off his night nicely.




GREECE

Player Ratings

Starting XI: Paschalakis (5); Bakakis (6), Chatzidiakos (7), Siovas (7), Stafylidis (6); Zeca (6), Kourbelis (6) Bouchalakis (5), Bakasetas (7); Limnios (6), Koulouris (6)

Subs: Donis (6), Giannoulis (6), Mantalos (6)


Looking Ahead

With Italy now qualified, their aim will be to carry on their incredible momentum and – as mentioned earlier – break their winning record. ​With two relatively simple fixtures to come, this should be well within their reach. 

However, it was a far from impressive performance from the Italians, and Mancini will know that they have a lot of work to do if they are to make a mark at the European Championships.

Greece can still mathematically qualify. Realistically…they have no chance. They will have to win their final three games against Bosnia and Herzegovina, Armenia and Finland, then hope other results go for them. Not happening, folks. 

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Sporting CP ‘Not Ruling Out’ Renaming Stadium After Cristiano Ronaldo

​Sporting CP are considering renaming their Estádio José Alvalade after former player Cristiano Ronaldo, with the club’s president admitting that the change of moniker to honour the five-time Ballon d’Or winner would be a ‘source of pride’.

The club’s home is currently named after founder Jose Alvalade, and has been by that name since 1956.


Ronaldo, who recently notched his 699th career goal at the stadium as Portugal ran out comfortable 3-0 winners over Luxembourg in Euro 2020 qualifying, spent five seasons in the youth system at Sporting CP before joining ​Manchester United in 2003. 

The 34-year-old is considered something of a legend at the club, despite his short spell ending while still in his teenage years.

Sporting president, Frederico Varandas, told ​Tuttosport that the Estadio Jose Alvalade could be renamed after their former star.

“Calling the stadium ‘Cristiano Ronaldo’ is an option that, right now, we are not against,” Varandas explained.

“It would be a source of great pride for us. Cristiano Ronaldo is and always will be one of the great symbols in the club’s history. We are very proud to be associated with Cristiano and that the name of the best player of the world is associated with Sporting.

“We’re already keeping his values on the walls of the youth academy, focusing on passion, sacrifice, discipline, leadership and determination. Cristiano is certainly the best Portuguese player of all time and one of the best athletes in the history of the sport.”

Estadio Jose Alvalade was rebuilt at the beginning of 2000, as the club expanded its capacity to over 50,000 spectators. The first match played at the restructured stadium was Sporting’s famous 3-1 win over United, the very game that prompted Sir Alex Ferguson to bring ​Ronaldo to the ​Premier League.

Cristiano Ronaldo

As discussed in the interview with Tuttosport, the name ‘CR7 Arena’ (using the player’s brand name) is also under consideration, while another options blends the past with the present, as ‘José Alvalade CR7’ with also touted. 

It is unclear from Varandas’ whether the hypothetical name change would be as a form of sponsorship from Ronaldo’s business interests or purely as a way to honour the former player. 

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