Notebook: Ex-ref admits allowing ‘beautiful’ goals, Hrustic talks Eintracht’s fighting spirit, PSGxGOAT, more

Another week is almost up, and the Easter weekend will bring plenty more soccer goodness after a packed week of UEFA Champions League, Europa League, and Europa Conference League goings-on. We make sure that you will not have missed some of the stories which might have flown in under the radar.

Our picks.

Hrustic tells CBS Sports of Frankfurt character

Eintracht Frankfurt are into the UEFA Europa League semifinals after eliminating Barcelona and Ajdin Hrustic got 10 minutes toward the end of a memorable night at Camp Nou. The Australia International spoke with CBS Sports exclusively ahead of the clash and revealed the team’s determined nature when talking about ensuring a return to European action for next season.

“It is reachable until the last game day,” said Hrustic. We do not give up and we will keep fighting. If you have seen our last few games, you will know that this shows us and our character — we stick to each other. We have come out with some last-minute wins and draws and that shows a lot about this team.”

Hrustic also looked ahead to a complicated summer with the Socceroos who needed to get past the United Arab Emirates to set up a potential FIFA World Cup playoff place against Peru for a ticket to Qatar later this year.

“The last two games were not easy,” he said. “We can be honest as we had a few players miss out because of COVID-19 or injuries. It is never easy when you miss a few players, and it is what it is now. We have got nothing to lose. The Saudi Arabia game was one for the young players to get used to international soccer.We did not take it as a friendly, but we used it to prepare for the next stage.

“We have the UAE game coming up in June which is a must-win for us and not just to go to the World Cup. If you see our squad, we should be qualifying and beating them for sure. They are not easy opponents, but everything is doable. We believe in each other, and the staff believe in us, and the country does too. I think and I do believe that we will make it for a fifth time in a row.”

Why it matters: Eintracht are rapidly becoming one of this season’s unexpected success stories and their win over Barca certainly marks them out as the team to watch in the Europa League semis with Hrustic and his teammates set to face West Ham United next.

PSGxGOAT

Paris Saint-Germain are teaming up with GOAT who will replace Qatar National Bank on the sleeves of the French giants’ shirts from next season. The American lifestyle company is expected to pay around $54 million over three years with Qatar Airways expected to be PSG’s next big sponsorship deal to replace Accor on the front of their shirts.

Why it matters: PSG are arguably the global leaders when it comes to sponsorship deals and innovative collaborations so do not expect things to stop here, especially now that UEFA’s financial fair play reforms have been announced.

Leipzig land Vandevoordt

RB Leipzig have moved swiftly and decisively to secure talented Belgian goalkeeper Maarten Vandevoordt from KRC Genk with the 20-year-old signing a contract until 2029 which will see him join up with the German outfit in 2024.

“I am very happy about my upcoming transfer to Leipzig,” said the player. “The club have a clear idea of ​​soccer and have become one of the best names in Europe in recent years, especially for young players.”

“At 20, Maarten is already one of the best goalkeepers in Belgium,” said goalkeeping coach Frederik Gossling. “With his brave and offensive playing style from him, he is a perfect fit to the soccer that we play at RBL. We are looking forward to an exciting young goalkeeper.”

Why it matters: German clubs often make early transfer moves, and this is no different which ensures that one of the most talented players in the game between the sticks is already off the table when clubs go looking for reinforcements.

Ex-referee admits allowing ‘beautiful’ goals

Disgraced former referee Tony Chapron has admitted that he has awarded controversial goals during his career due to their beauty rather than their legality. The Frenchman retired in 2018 after being suspended for kicking out at FC Nantes’ Diego Carlos and then sending him off.

“Yes, because we are humans, and we love football,” he told Canal+. “When you see a great goal and you say to yourself, ‘there might be a little foul,’ the move is so nice that you allow it. What will it change to the story?

“What I want to see when I go to the stadium is extraordinary goals. I am the biggest football fan. Do not forget that referees are above all football fans. And sometimes, yes, you are enthralled by what a player does.”

Why it matters: Chapron, 49, listed a Lucas Ocampos goal in a 6-0 Olympique de Marseille win over ESTAC Troyes which suggests that it is something he did regularly and kept a tally of. Although a referee wanting to do justice to beautiful goals and moves will be met positively by fans frustrated by officiating, the fact remains that this is a form of manipulation being publicly admitted and moreover by someone whose working career ended due to unprofessional behavior.

Kjaer joins Italian hall of fame

AC Milan’s Simon Kjaer has been elected to the Italian Soccer Hall of Fame after helping to save the life of fellow Denmark international and then Inter Milan man Christian Eriksen. With Eriksen now at Brentford and enjoying a new lease of life in the Premier League, Kjaer’s swift response during Euro 2020 saved his compatriot’s life and earned him special Ballon d’Or recognition.

“I remember Davide (Astori) very well and of course I also remember his tragic demise well,” said Kjaer of the honor. “Both (Stefano) Pioli and my teammates have talked to me about him, I know that his death was shocking for all of Italy and for the whole world of football. It is a tragedy that still makes you sad, and that will do so forever. Receiving the award dedicated to Davide means a lot, it makes me happy and proud. For me it is an opportunity to honor his name.”

Why it matters: Kjaer has been sidelined through injury of late but was extremely important for Milan until then and Denmark will hope that he can make a full recovery ahead of the World Cup later this year.

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