South Korean Brand Nivelcrack Drop Wavey R9 Inspired Collection

When you think about Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima, there is still a lingering question of ‘what if’? 


What if his knee hadn’t completely exploded during his playing career? What if he hadn’t feinted before that fateful World Cup final in 1998? And, of course, what if he had his face plastered all over a Hawaiian shirt?

Well, we can’t help you with the first two questions but thanks to South Korean cool-kid brand Nivelcrack, we can show you what he would look like on a Hawaiian shirt. 

For those not in the know, NIVELCRACK – which translates to level of top footballer – is a brand and a creative studio dedicated to all things football. They manufacture lifestyle and performance wear with craftsmanship, reflecting the spirit of footballers, clubs and their lifeblood in the supporters. They use their status to not only sell clothing but also to promote other people within the sphere of football, fashion and culture.

For their SS20 the brand have taken inspiration from one of football’s most iconic players, El Fenomeno. The collection features t-shirts, shorts, caps, rugs, sliders, hawaiian

shirts with Fenomeno graphic pattern and even tracksuits that are inspired by R9 Mercurial boots. What more could you want?

The full collection will be available from the ?Nivelcrack website on the 26th of March and if you think we’re getting that Mercurial R9 tracksuit, you’re absolutely right.


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Lazio 4-2 Inter: A Nerazzurri Bottlejob As Juve Steal Ronaldo’s Serie A Title

Internazionale look set to win their first Serie A title in 13 years when they headed to Stadio Olimpico to face SS Lazio on 5th May 2002. 

What would follow would be one of the most extraordinary finales in Italian football history and one of the biggest bottlejobs in the history of mankind. 

Coming into the final fixture, three teams could mathematically win the Scudetto: Roma in third, Juventus in second, with Inter top of the table. 

Inter Milan v Brescia X

Journalists and fans had considered the game a formality as Lazio’s season was effectively over because they could not qualify for the Champions League. 

And, well, Lazio fans wanted Inter to beat them. They actively asked their own players to lose by revealing a sign pre-game that read: ‘Neither Juve, nor Roma, Inter Champions’.

Not content there, plenty of Inter flags were seen amongst the home support. Even chants were during the game heard from Lazio fans, calling for an Inter penalty.

What occurred next defied belief. Inter managed to throw away two leads before half time and absolutely collapsed in the second to allow their bitter rivals Juve to snatch the title. 


LAZIO

Key Talking Point

Lazio came into the game with really nothing to play for. UEFA Cup qualification was the most that the club could attain. 

By all accounts, the Biancocelesti were on their holidays as the majority of the players were gearing up for the World Cup – Fernando Couto’s lackadaisical clearance for a corner that led to Inter’s second goal illustrates that fact. 

All but one player decided not to play in that first half: Karel Poborsky. 

The Czech midfielder decided to take the game to Inter, forgoing his teammates. 

It’s reported that at half-time with the score 2-2, Lazio heard that ?Juventus were winning. This meant that Roma wouldn’t win the title, so the team decided to play. 

Two second-half goals from ?Atlético’s Diego Simeone and current Lazio manager Simeone Inzaghi sealed ?Inter’s fate.


Lazio Player Ratings 

Starting XI: Peruzzi (5); Stam (6), Fernando Couto (5), Nesta (5), Favalli (6); Poborsky (9), Giannichedda (6) Simeone (7), Stankovic (7) Fiore (7); S.Inzaghi (8).

Substitutes: Cesar (6), D.Baggio (7).


Karel Poborsky

?

Star Man

?The former ?Manchester United man rolled back the years for potentially his best performance since the 90s in his last ever game in Italy. His first goal was a sign of things to come, with him hellbent on stopping Inter winning the title, thundering a volley into the bottom corner. 

For his second, on the stroke of halftime, the Czech maestro read the ?Inter defender Vratislav Gresko’s intentions before sneaking in to intercept a header intended for the Inter keeper to stun the champions-elect. 2-2 at half-time.

His second strike energised the Lazio team and they came out a totally different side in the second half. 

It’s reported that a call from Juventus player Pavel Nedved before the game inspired his performance.


INTER

Key? Talking Point

Inter Milan v Udinese X

Widely considered the best team in Serie A that season, ?Inter came into the game fully believing they were going to win the title.

Throughout the season, they’d relied on the play of Nicola Ventola and Mohamed Kallon, who had performed excellently in tandem while Vieri and Ronaldo both struggled with injuries. Alongside this mix of players and Hector Cuper’s tactics, Inter were playing dynamic football. 

However, on this day, Inter had a full roster of their stars available to them but they conspired to forget how to defend with a dreadful second-half display and hand the title to Turin. 


Inter Player Ratings

Starting XI: Toldo (5); J.Zanetti (5), Cordoba (5), Materazzi (4), Gresko (3); Conceição (5), Di Biagio (6) C.Zanetti (5); Recoba (6) Ronaldo (5); Vieri (6).

Substitutes: Dalmat (6), Emre (5), Kallon (5).


Vratislav Gresko

Worst Performer?

Inter v Roma

Unfortunately for Gresko, he will forever be associated with this breakdown. The left-back was at fault for at least two of the Lazio goals and created his own unfortunate legacy. 

It was so bad for the Slovak, he was shipped out of club in the summer to Parma and what’s worse, Gresko then had to spend three years at ?Blackburn Rovers.


Things That Aged the Worst

Inter Inter v RomaX

The pace of the game. ?Serie A was known for having a slower tempo, focussing on a tactical battle and defensive solidarity.

Perhaps it was the Roman heat of May but the game is being played as if it’s a friendly. It beggars belief that Inter were playing for the title.  


Things That Aged the Best?

Inter Milan's Alvaro Recoba of Uruguay s

?Pretty much everything else. The kits. El Fenomeno. Football Italia on Channel 4. Forza Italia. 


Players You Completely Forgot Existed

Diego Simeone

Diego Simeone lining up in the Lazio’s sky blue catches you off guard but there are plenty of blasts from the pasts to go around. Marco ‘The Matrix’ Matterazzi, most remembered for taking a forehead to the solar plexus. 

The mercurial Alvaro Recoba, an incredible talent – occasionally in real life, always on PES 3.

There’s plenty more, the teamsheets are a proverbial walk down memory lane. 


What Happened Next?

Ronaldo Nazario - Soccer Player

?This loss created a narrative at ?Inter that they might never win the Scudetto again. Such was the pain felt by Inter fans, it seemed Juventus’ dominance would continue evermore and the gods would continually conspire against the NerazzurriIt took Calciopoli, the match-fixing scandal in Italy, and Juventus’ relegation to breathe new life into the club.

Ronaldo was seen crying on the bench after having been taken off in the 78th minute and ultimately, the Brazilian striker left the club in the summer to signal the end of an era at San Siro.

Alessandro Nesta

It was also the end of an era for Lazio too as financial troubles meant they had to sell their best players, including Alessandro Nesta. 

Gone were the days of blockbuster signings and challenging for league titles as Lazio dealt with the poor management of their former owner Sergio Cragnotti.


Questions?

Ipswich v Inter

?Why did Inter come out so flat in the second half? Why didn’t Inter manager Hector Cuper do more to change it? 

Infamous dodgy referee Gianluca Paparesta was in charge that day – did he have anything to do with the result? Why did Karel Poborsky leave his best performances for the big stages?

We’ll never know…


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Olivier Giroud ‘Rejects’ Chelsea Contract Extension in Latest Inter Shaped Twist

?Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud is believed to have rejected the Blues’ offer of a new contract, with Inter keeping a close eye on the situation.

The Frenchman, whose current deal will expire this summer, was widely expected to leave Stamford Bridge permanently in January after struggling for minutes. 

However, a move to Inter eventually broke down, and he has since managed an impressive run in Frank Lampard’s starting lineup.


?Giroud bagged two goals in his last three league games before play was suspended and has moved well ahead of ?Michy Batshuayi in the pecking order. ?Calciomercato state that ?Chelsea offered him a one-year extension as a result of his impressive form, but Giroud turned it down as he wants two years.

He believes that ?Inter would be willing to offer him such a deal – likely after spending the entirety of January negotiating with the Italian side – so he is reluctant to accept an inferior offer to remain in London.

It is not only Giroud who is in Inter’s sights. Firstly, the report notes that Antonio Conte is ready to push for left-back Marcos Alonso once more.

Marcos Alonso

Alonso was a huge success under Conte at Stamford Bridge, putting in some stunning performances as a wing-back in the boss’ 3-4-3 formation, and it appears as though Inter remain keen to bring him in.

However, the fear is that Blues director Marina Granovskaia will make things too difficult during negotiations. Alonso is still under contract until 2023, so even though he’s not an indispensable first-team regular, Chelsea have no urgent need to sell.

Finally, Inter are also open to making Victor Moses’ loan move permanent this summer. Since joining in January, the Nigerian international has made seven appearances in all competitions and appears to have done enough to convince Conte.

Victor Moses

His loan contract does contain a €10m option to buy, but it is thought that Inter will refuse to pay that amount – especially if they find themselves shelling out on Alonso.

Instead, Inter will likely try to strike a double deal for both Alonso and Moses, in the hope that their wish to sign the latter will persuade Chelsea to lower their asking price for the former.


For more from Tom Gott, follow him on Twitter!

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UEFA Postpone Champions League & Europa League Finals Over Coronavirus Crisis

UEFA has announced its decision to postpone both the men and women’s Champions League finals, as well as the Europa League showpiece, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has resulted in football being halted around the world, with nations entering lockdown states.

Major leagues are still plotting their return dates, though it remains to be seen how long the crisis will last. UEFA has now officially confirmed May’s finals will take place at later dates.

?The governing body revealed in a statement on their ?website: “UEFA has formally taken the decision to postpone the club finals originally scheduled for May 2020.

“No decision has yet been made on rearranged dates. The working group, established last week as a result of the conference call among the stakeholders of European football, which was chaired by UEFA President, Aleksander ?eferin, will analyse the options available. 

“The group has already begun its examination of the calendar. Announcements will be made in due course.”

While Atalanta, RB Leipzig, Paris Saint-Germain and Atletico Madrid all progressed to the Champions League quarter-finals as their games were played before football entered its hiatus, the winners of the ties between Manchester City and Real Madrid, Juventus and Lyon, Barcelona and Napoli, and Bayern Munich and Chelsea are still to be determined.

The first legs of the Women’s Champions League were due to be played this week, with Lyon among the favourites to win the competition.

FBL-EUR-C1-DRAW

The round of 16 in the Europa League is also yet to be concluded, with teams like Manchester United and Bayer Leverkusen in strong positions, though the first legs between Inter and Getafe, and Sevilla and Roma were not played.

Premier League games could be played ?behind closed doors to ensure the season can end, while the Spanish Football Federation and La Liga both ?confirmed on Monday that all football in the country will be postponed indefinitely until it is safe to return.

An IOC member has also revealed tha the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be postponed due to the pandemic.

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14 Players You Should Watch a Million Compilations of on YouTube

?Coronavirus has struck and taken our beloved football with it, leaving a hefty gap in our Saturday afternoons, and a chasmic void in our hearts.

There are still ways to fill the emptiness that football has left behind, and with social isolation slowly becoming a destiny for us all, we have plenty of time to do so.

YouTube has long been the place to while away the hours with irrelevant videos, so let us offer you some direction and recommend where you should focus your attention, with a list of players you should watch over and over again to help keep you entertained in these testing times.


Ronaldinho

Ronaldinho

The outrageous flicks, tricks ?and turns would see Ronaldinho get his legs broken if he ever fancied turning his hand to a bit of Sunday League, but because he’s in the yellow of Brazil or playing at Camp Nou, it’s utterly mesmerising.

Plus, sometimes Spanish or Brazilian the commentators get even more excited than you and let out impromptu sound effects of their own, only adding to the drama.


Zinedine Zidane

Michael Ballack and Zinedine Zidane

For pure elegance and grace on a football pitch, watch Zidane. Watch him glide past defenders and stride over tackles with such glorious athleticism, and then watch his stunning volley in the 2002 Champions League final for good measure.

Finish off by watching his headbutt from the 2006 World Cup final, because it’s important to remember that nobody’s perfect.


Thierry Henry

Thierry Henry of Arsenal prepares to strike the ball...

If silky Frenchmen are your vibe, then sit back and enjoy a few compilations of Thierry Henry effortlessly terrorising defences. 

His trademark no-look pass makes for particularly great viewing, particularly when he pulled them off for New York Red Bulls and the American commentators couldn’t comprehend what they have just witnessed.


Dennis Bergkamp

Dennis Bergkamp

On the topic of fabulous Arsenal forwards from days gone by, a nice Dennis Bergkamp compilation also makes for mouthwatering viewing.

The Dutchman just oozes class; the way he plucks the ball out of the air, his imagination and his knack for scoring from all sorts of angles makes Bergkamp a joy to watch.


Jay-Jay Okocha

Jay Jay Okocha

For the finest trickery and audacity, a Jay-Jay Okocha video is the way to go. His flair and fearlessness meant nothing was out of bounds, and you can’t take your eyes off his feet as they make a mockery out of defenders time and time again.

Watch a highlights video of Okacha being outrageous at Bolton, and then the second time you watch it, remember that Sam Allardyce was his manager. 


Johan Cruyff 

Johan Cruyff

Just watch the original Cruyff turn from the 1974 World Cup? over and over again until you feel you fully appreciate the deftness, subtly and artistry of the Dutch icon.

The manner in which Cruyff can make defenders just melt away as he charges at them with such elegance is captivating.


Vivianne Miedema 

Vivianne Miedema

For a masterclass in finishing?, ?Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema is the one. Her ice-cool composure coupled with her ability to worm through a tightly packed defence make the Dutch striker unplayable in the box.

Miedema’s variety of finishes and intelligence in front of goal make for fascinating viewing.


Luis Figo

Luis Figo

The remarkable close control and lightening quick feet of Luis Figo will keep your eyes glued to your screen. His ability to beat a player time and time again is near unrivalled.

Defenders simply cannot get near him. It’s like he’s playing against kids in the playground, ?except the playground is the Bernabeu and he’s playing against the best players in the world.


Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo

While we’re on the topic of ?skilful Portuguese players to pull on the white of ?Real Madrid, you can’t really avoid giving this fella a mention.

From his trademark stepovers to the way he hangs in the air for a header, or just his utterly ridiculous free kick for Manchester United against Portsmouth, anything ?Ronaldo produces on a football pitch is worthy of a YouTube binge.


Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi

You can’t mention one without the other. Watch ?Messi wriggle his way past about 900 players and work his way out of the tightest of situations time after time.

As the ?Guardian’s Sid Lowe wrote in 2010: “Theo Walcott can still only aspire to brilliance as dazzling as this.”

Or as Ray Hudson said: “Defenders try to follow him on Facebook and he comes out on Twitter, that’s how evasive he is.”


Matt Le Tissier

Matt Le Tissier of Southampton

For a selection of goals with invention and creativity; from a chip from outside the area to a rocket into the top corner from 30 yards out, a Matt Le Tissier video is a great watch.?

All goals come accompanied with a mazy slaloming run, where you’re positive he should have lost the ball on multiple occasions yet it somehow remains glued to his feet.


David Ginola

David Ginola

Mesmerising feet combined with remarkable poise and balance make Ginola one of the greatest dribblers the Premier League has ever seen.

Throw in his eye for the spectacular and a YouTube compilation of the Frenchman makes for sumptuous viewing. ?


Mia Hamm

Mia Hamm

One of the greatest female footballers to ever grace the football pitch, Hamm’s quick feet and effortless style and agility make her a must watch.

The USA international’s ability to find the top corner from just about anywhere on the football pitch was second to none.?


Arjen Robben

FBL-BL-BAYERN MUNICH-SC FREIBURG

In his prime, Arjen Robben was one of the most exciting players to watch tearing down the wing and dancing through challenges.

He was also blessed with a wand of a left foot, which produced a selection of stunning volleys down the years.?

But erm, there’s a little less variety in some of these. Y’know. The Robben move. 


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