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Football this week (Nov. 27-Dec. 3): Messi hints at playing FIFA World Cup 2026, Ronaldo and Co. humbled by Al Hilal

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The past week has seen a number of important events in football, from Lionel Messi not ruling out the possibility to play in the FIFA World Cup 2026 to the introduction of sin bins in football.

Sportstar has a look at some of the notable happenings in the world of football in the week that went by:

Match of the week: Manchester United vs Galatasaray

Manchester United goalkeeper Andre Onana made two bad errors as host Galatasaray fought back from two goals down to earn a thrilling 3-3 draw on Wednesday and leave the English side’s hopes of reaching the Champions League last 16 in serious doubt.

The visitor roared into an early 2-0 lead through Garnacho, fresh from his spectacular overhead strike at Everton, and a stunning shot by Fernandes before Hakim Ziyech pulled one back from a free kick following an error by Onana.

Manchester United's Victor Lindelof reacts during the Champions League group A soccer match between Galatasaray and Manchester United in Istanbul, Turkey, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Manchester United’s Victor Lindelof reacts during the Champions League group A soccer match between Galatasaray and Manchester United in Istanbul, Turkey, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
| Photo Credit:
Francisco Seco

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Manchester United’s Victor Lindelof reacts during the Champions League group A soccer match between Galatasaray and Manchester United in Istanbul, Turkey, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
| Photo Credit:
Francisco Seco

McTominay put United 3-1 up soon after halftime, but its cushion was shortlived as Ziyech slotted home another free kick under the arm of Onana, and Muhammed Kerem Akturkoglu equalised for Galatasaray in the 71st minute.

The game for United was a virtual repeat of its Champions League group clash with Copenhagen, in which it gave away a commanding lead. The end-to-end match saw 17 shots for United and 16 for Galatasaray, many in the dying minutes as both sides pushed for victory.

Fernandes had a chance to become the hero, but his 85th-minute effort struck the post.

Who said what?

“I’m not thinking about the World Cup and I’m not saying 100 percent that I won’t be there because anything can happen. Because of my age, the most normal thing is that I won’t be there. Then we’ll see.” Lionel Messi to Argentina’s Star+

“I think it’s good to recognise that we are making history, eh? It can’t be something normal we have 12 wins out of 15 games.”Girona manager Michel, whose side sits atop the La Liga standings

“We beat Tottenham, had an amazing game against Manchester City, then we lost against Newcastle. We are our worst enemies and we need to be focused on us”Mauricio Pochettino on Chelsea

“He’s done in the past in Japan and of course in Glasgow with Celtic and now (with Tottenham). I think he makes football a better place, people like Ange.”Pep Guardiola on Ange Postecoglou

“I don’t know why they don’t leave the game alone at times. I don’t think it is needed.”Everton manager Sean Dyche to BBC Sport on sin bins

What’s cooking in football?

Euro 2024 draw

Hosts Germany will face Scotland in the opening match of Euro 2024 in Munich following the draw on Saturday, while defending Champion Italy has been drawn in the same group as Spain.

The draw for the groups was held at the Elbphilharmonie concert hall in Hamburg, one of the 10 host cities of the tournament, with Germany drawn alongside Hungary, Switzerland and Scotland in Group A.

The Germans, three-times winners, will kick off the one-month tournament in Munich on June 14, with the final on July 14 in Berlin’s Olympic stadium.

FULL GROUPS AND TEAMS DRAWN FOR EURO 2024 

FULL GROUPS AND TEAMS DRAWN FOR EURO 2024 

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FULL GROUPS AND TEAMS DRAWN FOR EURO 2024 

Group E sees Belgium take on Romania, Slovakia and the winner of playoff B, while Group F features Portugal, Turkey, Czech Republic and the playoff C winner.

Messi keeps door open for FIFA World Cup 2026

Lionel Messi did not rule out another bid for World Cup glory with Argentina in 2026 despite acknowledging that time is working against him.

Messi, who recently won his eighth Ballon d’Or, raised the World Cup almost a year ago after starring for Argentina in the final against France in Doha.

He had suggested at the time that the tournament in Qatar would be his last and that he wouldn’t be around for the next tournament which will be co-hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico. But having moved to Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami and continued performing for the national team in qualifiers for 2026, he says the door remains open.

The Argentina captain said his focus on June’s Copa America which will be held in the United States.

Ronaldo’s Al Nassr humbled by Al Hilal

Al Hilal secured a resounding 3-0 victory over Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr, cementing its position at the top of the Saudi Pro League in a pulsating encounter at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on December 1.

Hilal’s Aleksandar Mitrovic’s late brace proved to be the decisive factor in the match, as the Serbian striker’s two goals in quick succession sealed the win for the league leaders.

After a goalless first-half, the match heated up after the restart as both teams pressed for the win. With just minutes remaining, Ronaldo found himself in a collision with Al Hilal goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, who fumbled the ball and collided with the Portuguese star. After receiving treatment, Ronaldo returned to the action, but it was Al Hilal who would have the final say.

In the 89th minute, Mitrovic capitalised on a corner, outmuscling Ronaldo to send a bullet header past Al Nassr’s goalkeeper, Nawaf Alaqidi. Two minutes later, the Serbian striker struck again, latching onto a loose ball to complete his brace and seal the victory for Al Hilal.

Germany crowned FIFA U17 World Cup winner

Germany lifted the FIFA U-17 World Cup for the first time following a dramatic penalty shootout victory over France in Surakarta.

Goals from Paris Brunner and Noah Darvich gave the Germans a 2-0 lead, but a quick-fire goal by Saimon Bouabre and a red card for Winners Osawe shifted the momentum in France’s favour, with Mathis Amougou later turning home an 85th-minute equaliser.

Germany would ultimately prevail, though, following a topsy-turvy 4-3 shootout win.

The European champion started the game in lightning-quick fashion and its lightning forward Brunner, who was initially denied a goal for off-side, converted from the spot just before the half-hour mark, after France’s Aymen Sadi brought Bilal Yalcinkaya down in the box.

Germany doubled its lead just after the break when Darvich turned the ball home from a tight angle.

France found a route back into the game almost immediately. Bouabre skipped past a German challenge down the left and arrowed a terrific strike into the bottom corner to halve the arrears barely two minutes later.

Five minutes from time, France was level, with Amougou scoring from close range and eventually forcing the match into penalties.

Konstantin Heide would come up trumps once again for Germany, though, as the goalkeeper saved two France penalties, allowing Almugera Kabar to confidently dispatch the winning spot-kick.

Sins bins introduced in football

The International Football Association Board (IFAB), the body which sets the laws of football, have suggested the introduction of sin-bins in the professional game.

Sin bins is another name for temporary dismissals in football. If players show excessive dissent in front of referees, they can be sent off the field temporarily, which is typically 10 minutes.

Sin bins are introduced to improve the aspect of respect and fair play in football. According to the English Football Association, sin bins aim to “improve the match day experience” and support the “respect programme”.

In the 2016/17 season, there were over 73,000 cautions for dissent – making up around 25% of all cautions. With this in mind, the English FA decided to pilot sin bins across all types of the game at Step 5 and below of the National League System and Tier 3 and below of the Women’s game in a bid to reduce levels of dissent.

In total, 31 leagues have used the system over the past two seasons.

During this period, a 38% reduction was seen in dissent across the selected leagues. It also showed a reduction in dismissals for receiving a second caution in a game and abusive language.

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