Holland hopeful Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk can make Euro 2020 squad after ‘giant steps’ in rehab

Virgil van Dijk has to decide himself whether he is fit in time for Euro 2020 finals, insists Holland boss Frank de Boer – who hints Liverpool star ‘has made giant steps in his rehabilitation’ from serious knee injury

  • Virgil van Dijk remains a big fitness concern ahead of this summer’s Euros
  • The Liverpool star has been out since October with a ruptured cruciate ligament
  • Jurgen Klopp urged Holland not to jeopardise his career by rushing him back 
  • But Frank de Boer is still hopeful the Dutch centre back will be fit for the Euros

Frank de Boer is hopeful Virgil van Dijk will make Holland’s Euro 2020 finals squad but admits it is completely the player’s decision whether he will be ready in time.

Liverpool star Van Dijk has been sidelined since October 17 with a ruptured cruciate ligament following a challenge from Jordan Pickford during the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park in the Premier League.

The Dutch centre back has returned to very light training for Liverpool but it it still unknown when he will return ahead of this summer’s eagerly-anticipated Euros.

Virgil van Dijk is stepping up his recovery having not played since October 17 for Liverpool

Frank de Boer will be desperate to have Van Dijk fit for Euro 2020 finals but won't force him

Frank de Boer will be desperate to have Van Dijk fit for Euro 2020 finals but won’t force him

De Boer has since urged caution but remains optimistic that he could have Van Dijk available for the Euros.

‘I think he has to decide, it is his career,’ the Holland boss told ESPN just over a month before the Euros gets underway.

‘I can imagine that he is in a dilemma. Can it mean something for Oranje? I hope he has made giant steps in his rehabilitation.’

De Boer’s latest comments surrounding his captain and star defender come after Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp urged Holland not to jeopardise his career by rushing him back.  

The Holland boss (centre) admits he is hopeful Van Dijk has made giant steps in his rehab

The Holland boss (centre) admits he is hopeful Van Dijk has made giant steps in his rehab

The Liverpool manager said: ‘I don’t want to hold Virgil back but you can’t force it as well. You are all long enough in the business to know that if you want to play you have to train before – and proper football training.

‘It takes weeks. Not a week before. You cannot be 10 or 11 months out, train for one week and then play football. That is not possible, it should not be possible.

‘No one is holding Virgil back – I can promise all the people in Holland that we cannot force it, and we will not.

‘We speak about a player and his career, so nobody should force it and nobody will.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp recently urged Holland not to rush Van Dijk back for the Euros

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp recently urged Holland not to rush Van Dijk back for the Euros

‘Not Holland, not us and not Virgil as well. It’s just about getting as fit as possible.

‘Nobody knows at the moment when that will be exactly, but you can imagine for sure it will be very, very tight with the Euros because he is not in team training yet and will not be in the next few weeks.

‘So I don’t know. But in the end it’s a decision of Virgil and he will get massively influenced by the feeling in his knee.’

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Juventus ‘reject Barcelona’s pursuit of Matthijs de Ligt’… with Spanish giants keen on centre back

Juventus ‘reject Barcelona’s renewed pursuit of Matthijs de Ligt’… with Spanish giants back in for Dutch centre back having missed out on him in 2019 to their European rivals

  • LaLiga contenders Barcelona are reportedly interested again in Matthijs de Ligt
  • Barca missed out when Juventus took the Holland centre back to Serie A in 2019
  • A bid is said to have been hinted at during talks over the European Super League
  • De Ligt signed a five-year contract at Juve when he signed from Ajax for £67.8m 

Barcelona have failed in a renewed attempt to prise Holland centre back Matthijs de Ligt from Juventus, according to reports.

LaLiga hopefuls Barca missed out on De Ligt when he joined Juve as a teenage sensation in 2019, signing for £67.8million after helping Ajax reach the 2018/19 Champions League semi-finals and win the Eredivisie title.

Barca had wanted De Ligt to join at the same time as fellow Holland prodigy Frenkie de Jong, who completed his move from the Dutch giants for £65million that summer.

Juventus faced competition from Barcelona for Matthijs de Ligt when he joined them from Ajax

The Spanish giants signed Frenkie de Jong from Ajax in 2019 and had wanted De Ligt to follow

The Spanish giants signed Frenkie de Jong from Ajax in 2019 and had wanted De Ligt to follow

De Ligt has not hit the heights in Turin that the 21-year-old did with Ajax, suffering successive early Champions League exits and missing out on the Serie A title this season for the first time in 10 years.

The Nations League winner only overcame a serious shoulder problem earlier this season, although he has been ever-present for Juventus in their last nine games, setting up Alex Sandro’s opener and scoring a second-half header in the 3-1 win over Parma in their last home game.

Ronald Koeman knows De Ligt from his spell as Holland manager and Barca bosses mentioned De Ligt during talks with Juventus over the failed European Super League, AS has reported.

Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman (centre) knows De Ligt from his time in charge of Holland

Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman (centre) knows De Ligt from his time in charge of Holland

Juventus reportedly dismissed the idea of De Ligt being reunited with De Jong, preferring to keep hold of the man who signed a five-year deal when he moved to Italy.

Koeman remains on the hunt for new defenders, with an eye on a successor to veteran centre back Gerard Pique.

France defender Samuel Umtiti has suffered with injuries this season, and former target David Alaba eventually agreed to join arch-rivals Real Madrid from Bayern Munich.

De Ligt and De Jong's reputations rose at Ajax - and Barcelona remain eager to reunite the duo

De Ligt and De Jong’s reputations rose at Ajax – and Barcelona remain eager to reunite the duo

De Ligt was unimpressed after Juventus drew 1-1 at Fiorentina two weeks ago as part of a run that has seen the dethroned champions keep only one clean sheet in 11 matches.

The defender told Sky Sport Italia: ‘We need more intensity, more courage with the ball. We have to defend better.

‘We were thinking about the Scudetto, but now the target is to finish second. We are strong and we must aim high.’ 

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Tom Brady purchases a $6M Wajer yacht… upgrading from $2M boat he drove in Super Bowl parade

He’s the winningest quarterback in history after making the move from New England to Tampa Bay and earning his seventh Super Bowl championship.

And Tom Brady added to his impressive collection of awards with the purchase of a stunning $6million Wajer yacht.

The 43-year-old athlete was the virtual guest of honor when the Dutch shipbuilder unveiled their new 77-foot yacht, a nice upgrade from Brady’s $2million boat he drove in the Super Bowl parade after winning the 2021 title in Florida.

Anchors aweigh! Tom Brady added to his impressive collection of awards with the purchase of a stunning $6million Wajer yacht

‘I enjoyed the waters of New England, but when we moved to Tampa, with its beautiful bay, I said to myself, ‘I need a boat,’ Brady said via video call. 

‘I love what (Wajer managing director) Dries Wajer is doing. When we first started working together, I was able to try-out a Wajer 38, then I got my Wajer 55S, and now I’m looking forward to continuing my captainship on a Wajer 77 … which Dries tells me I’ll get before the end of the year.’

The massive water craft offers the best in luxury lifestyles, with maximum comfort provided through ‘deck cooling, a hybrid fender system, an automatic roof and an electrically adjustable deck lay-out,’ according to Wajer.

Innovative insulation materials make the 77 the ‘most silent in its class’ with a standing height of 2,15-2,35 meters. 

Ferry impressive: The massive water craft offers the best in luxury lifestyles, with maximum comfort provided through 'deck cooling, a hybrid fender system, an automatic roof and an electrically adjustable deck lay-out,'

Ferry impressive: The massive water craft offers the best in luxury lifestyles, with maximum comfort provided through ‘deck cooling, a hybrid fender system, an automatic roof and an electrically adjustable deck lay-out,’

Nautical dreams: The vessel, which sleeps nine, also offers four cabins with ensuite bathrooms

Spacious: One cabin features bunk beds for a crew

Nautical dreams: The vessel, which sleeps nine, also offers four cabins with ensuite bathrooms

The new 77 also 'boasts a 400 nautical mile range, making it perfect for longer trips'

The new 77 also ‘boasts a 400 nautical mile range, making it perfect for longer trips’

Sailor: The 43-year-old athlete was the virtual guest of honor when the Dutch shipbuilder unveiled their new 77-foot yacht, a nice upgrade from Brady's $2million boat he drove in the Super Bowl parade after winning the 2021 title in Florida

Sailor: The 43-year-old athlete was the virtual guest of honor when the Dutch shipbuilder unveiled their new 77-foot yacht, a nice upgrade from Brady’s $2million boat he drove in the Super Bowl parade after winning the 2021 title in Florida

‘We’ve spent years developing the Wajer 77 with leaders like Sinot Yacht Architecture and Van Oossanen Naval Architects,’ Dries said during the announcement. ‘But we are moving quickly on this project because, frankly, we were able to sell the concept very early on. We’ve already sold more than 15.’ 

The vessel, which sleeps nine, also offers four cabins with ensuite bathrooms and ‘boasts a 400 nautical mile range, making it perfect for longer trips.’

‘The 55 is an amazing boat, it’s been an amazing boat for our family,’ Brady said. ‘I think the 77 will be a little more suited for what we need it for down here, which is a few more day trips and weekend trips.’

Tom and wife Gisele Bundchen have three children — Vivian, eight, Benjamin, 11, and share co-parenting responsibilities of 13-year-old son John Edward (Jack) from his relationship with Bridget Moynahan. 

'We spend a lot of times in the Bahamas, so going from the east coast of Florida across into the Bahamas and around the Bahamas would be really great trips for us as a family,' he said

‘We spend a lot of times in the Bahamas, so going from the east coast of Florida across into the Bahamas and around the Bahamas would be really great trips for us as a family,’ he said

Decked out: Innovative insulation materials make the 77 the 'most silent in its class' with a standing height of 2,15-2,35 meters

Decked out: Innovative insulation materials make the 77 the ‘most silent in its class’ with a standing height of 2,15-2,35 meters

'I think the 77 will be a little more suited for what we need it for down here, which is a few more day trips and weekend trips,' he said

‘I think the 77 will be a little more suited for what we need it for down here, which is a few more day trips and weekend trips,’ he said

'The fact that, with the little bit bigger boat, for us, the 77 allows us to sleep overnight really comfortably,' Tom said. 'Those weekend trips will be great memories for our family for years to come'

‘The fact that, with the little bit bigger boat, for us, the 77 allows us to sleep overnight really comfortably,’ Tom said. ‘Those weekend trips will be great memories for our family for years to come’

Having a blast down south: Brady left the Patriots in 2020 after 20 seasons and signed on with the Tampa Bay Bucaneers for a two-year, $50million contract

Having a blast down south: Brady left the Patriots in 2020 after 20 seasons and signed on with the Tampa Bay Bucaneers for a two-year, $50million contract

‘We spend a lot of times in the Bahamas, so going from the east coast of Florida across into the Bahamas and around the Bahamas would be really great trips for us as a family,’ he said.

Tom added: ‘There’s so much to see here, some great reefs. Our family loves to do some diving. A lot of snorkeling, the kids do. The fact that, with the little bit bigger boat, for us, the 77 allows us to sleep overnight really comfortably. Those weekend trips will be great memories for our family for years to come.’ 

Brady left the Patriots in 2020 after 20 seasons and signed on with the Tampa Bay Bucaneers for a two-year, $50million contract.

Tom and his 55S made headlines earlier this year when he was pictured throwing the Lombardi trophy to tight end Rob Gronkowski on another boat after the Bucs defeated the Kansas City Chiefs by 31-9 in Super Bowl LV. 

Wow! Tom and his 55S made headlines earlier this year when he was pictured throwing the Lombardi trophy to tight end Rob Gronkowski on another boat after the Bucs defeated the Kansas City Chiefs by 31-9 in Super Bowl LV

Wow! Tom and his 55S made headlines earlier this year when he was pictured throwing the Lombardi trophy to tight end Rob Gronkowski on another boat after the Bucs defeated the Kansas City Chiefs by 31-9 in Super Bowl LV

Jurgen Klopp begs Holland not to risk Virgil van Dijk’s career by picking him for Euro 2020

Jurgen Klopp begs Holland not to risk Virgil van Dijk’s career by picking him for Euro 2020 after Liverpool defender posted clip of himself running on the training ground as he continues recovery from knee injury that has kept him out since October

  • Virgil van Dijk has been out since suffering the injury back on October 17
  • Dutch defender ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in game with Everton
  • It was originally hoped Van Dijk might return before end of Liverpool’s season
  • But that appears unlikely despite the defender running again in training
  • Jurgen Klopp has urged Holland not to pick Van Dijk for the Euros this summer 

Jurgen Klopp has urged Holland not to jeopardise Virgil van Dijk’s career by rushing him back for this summer’s European Championship.

The Dutch defender has been sidelined since October with a ruptured cruciate ligament and is unlikely to play for Liverpool before the end of the season.

That’s despite Van Dijk exciting fans by posting a video of himself running on the training ground last week as he continued his recovery.

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk posted an Instagram clip of himself running in training this week – but he remains unlikely to return to action before the end of the season 

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp played down hopes Van Dijk will be returning to action soon

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp played down hopes Van Dijk will be returning to action soon

Van Dijk, 29, is Holland’s captain but Klopp believes it is too risky to select him for the rearranged Euro 2020 tournament, which begins on June 11.

The Liverpool manager said: ‘I don’t want to hold Virgil back but you can’t force it as well. You are all long enough in the business to know that if you want to play you have to train before – and proper football training.

‘It takes weeks. Not a week before. You cannot be 10 or 11 months out, train for one week and then play football. That is not possible, it should not be possible.

‘No one is holding Virgil back – I can promise all the people in Holland that we cannot force it, and we will not.

‘We speak about a player and his career, so nobody should force it and nobody will.

Van Dijk is Holland's captain but Klopp has urged them not to select him for Euro 2020

Van Dijk is Holland’s captain but Klopp has urged them not to select him for Euro 2020

Van Dijk suffered horrific knee injury following reckless challenge by Jordan Pickford last year

Van Dijk suffered horrific knee injury following reckless challenge by Jordan Pickford last year

The Reds were dealt a huge blow when van Dijk injured his ACL against Everton in October

The Reds were dealt a huge blow when van Dijk injured his ACL against Everton in October

‘Not Holland, not us and not Virgil as well. It’s just about getting as fit as possible.

‘Nobody knows at the moment when that will be exactly, but you can imagine for sure it will be very, very tight with the Euros because he is not in team training yet and will not be in the next few weeks.

‘So I don’t know. But in the end it’s a decision of Virgil and he will get massively influenced by the feeling in his knee.’

Van Dijk has been out after damaging the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee following a challenge by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park on October 17.

The Dutchman has provided a number of encouraging updates for supporters in recent weeks

The Dutchman has provided a number of encouraging updates for supporters in recent weeks

He has been pictured in the gym and doing some ball work as he targets a return to action

He has been pictured in the gym and doing some ball work as he targets a return to action

The defender required surgery and has spent time in Dubai during his rehabilitation. But initial optimism that he would return before the end of the season and prove his fitness for Euro 2020 has faded.

His absence had a major effect on Liverpool’s Premier League title defence and they are fighting to qualify for next season’s Champions League as they head to Old Trafford to play Manchester United on Sunday.

De Boer insists that the final decision will rest with the player and he needs to submit his squad list for the tournament – featuring 26 names instead of the usual 23 – by June 1.

Holland play Scotland on June 2 and Georgia on June 6 in warm-up matches before they begin their tournament against Ukraine in Amsterdam on June 13. Austria and North Macedonia also feature in their group.

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Australia: Cast iron ovens, Spotlight, Le Creuset and Harris Scarfe ranging from $24 and $550

Home cooks are struggling to spot the difference between three trendy cast iron pots, with prices ranging from $24 to $550.

One woman, from Melbourne, asked fellow shoppers whether there was a difference between cheap and expensive Dutch and French oven pots.

She shared a picture on social media showing three casserole pots that look almost identical – but each come with very different price tags.

Spotlight’s cast iron pot was on sale for $24, a version from Harris Scarfe cost $59.97, while the luxury Le Creuset casserole retailed at an eye-watering $550.

Home cooks are struggling to spot the difference between three trendy cast iron pots, with prices ranging from $24 to $550. 

The difference between cheap and expensive cast iron pots

Cast iron pots from cheap and expensive brands come with a huge price difference – but what’s the difference?

Australian consumer experts CHOICE found the enamel lining inside of the cheaper pots ‘significantly discoloured over time’.

‘I have noticed that after a year they did lose the smooth interior coating which helps to prevent sticking of food,’ kitchen expert Fiona Mair said.

In contrast, a high-end Dutch oven can last you 20 years or more before it shows signs of wear and tear, even becoming a family heirloom. 

Le Creuset usually comes with lifetime guarantees, so you can always replace if you have issues.

Many explained the differences between the trio, with one saying: ‘It’s the lids. The better the top, the more you pay.’

Another shopper said she owns a Chasseur pot, which cost between $259 and $429, and a cheap model from Target.

‘Both are good but the main differences I find with the Target one is the lid doesn’t seal as well so it’s not as good for slow cooking,’ she explained. 

One woman – who owned ‘many brands of cast iron pots’ – explained why ‘you get what you pay for’. 

‘I have bought so many brands of cast iron pots. I have used my Le Creuset for more than 10 years and no problems at all. It may seem expensive but they are fantastic quality. The cheaper brands would begin cracking after a few years,’ she said.

Another woman said: ‘There’s definitely a difference. A good one will be able to be passed down for generations. Having said that, I’ve never been able to afford the good ones and I have the Aldi version and it’s amazing.’ 

The three casserole pots look almost identical - but each come with very different price tags. Spotlight's cast iron pot was on sale for $24, a version from Harris Scarfe cost $59.97, while the luxury Le Creuset casserole retailed at an eye-watering $550

The three casserole pots look almost identical – but each come with very different price tags. Spotlight’s cast iron pot was on sale for $24, a version from Harris Scarfe cost $59.97, while the luxury Le Creuset casserole retailed at an eye-watering $550

While one added: ‘I have Aldi, Baccarat and Le Creuset. The Aldi worked okay but the interior stained quickly. I’d say there is less difference between the other two but the super expensive ones give you bragging rights more than anything.’

Those who have been cooking with the cheaper pots claimed they have worked just as well as the expensive brands.

‘I have a small vintage one from my grandmother and a larger one from Aldi. Both are amazing and work the same,’ one woman said. 

A photography director – who owns almost 30 cast iron pieces – told Chicago Tribune the difference between cheap and expensive models is the finish.

The cheaper pots typically have a ‘rough, sandpapery surface’, while the high-end brands produce ‘glossy, smooth-polished’ products. 

‘Cheaper brands have a rougher finish because they skip a step in the traditional manufacturing of cast iron cookware: the time-consuming grinding process that produces the ideal polish,’ the director said.

Earlier this year, consumer experts from CHOICE praised a $29 cast iron casserole pot from Kmart (left) that rivals high-end French brand Le Creuset (right) costing upwards of $529

Earlier this year, consumer experts from CHOICE praised a $29 cast iron casserole pot from Kmart (left) that rivals high-end French brand Le Creuset (right) costing upwards of $529

One home cook who owned a Le Creuset pot was stunned after she made a 'fluffy and crusty' sourdough in a $29 casserole pot from Kmart (pictured)

One home cook who owned a Le Creuset pot was stunned after she made a ‘fluffy and crusty’ sourdough in a $29 casserole pot from Kmart (pictured)

What makes Kmart’s $29 cast iron casserole pot special?

With a $29 price tag, Kmart’s cast iron casserole pot can be cooked on all types of heat sources just like world-famous brand Le Creuset.

The budget buy has an ‘exceptional heat retention’ that allows slow cooking and keeping foods moist and tender.

Other features include an enamel interior, easy cleaning and it’s safe to use in ovens, and all types of cooktops.

Earlier this year, Australian consumer experts from CHOICE praised a $29 cast iron casserole pot from Kmart that rivals Le Creuset’s versions costing up to $529.

Despite a huge $500 price difference, the budget buy performed ‘comparatively well’ when the experts put market-leading cast iron pots to the test. 

‘Kmart’s cast iron casserole pot was up there with big-name brands such as Le Creuset, Chasseur and Staub when we tested casserole pots and Dutch ovens,’ the experts claimed.

The cheaper version scored a stellar 95 per cent in the bolognese sauce test.

‘We use this to assess the Dutch oven’s ability to slow cook while maintaining low temperature for a long period of time and its ability to brown meat evenly,’ they said.

Choice’s kitchen expert Fiona Mair offered her review after giving her Kmart Dutch oven a ‘good workout’ over the past five years.

‘I have noticed that after a year [it] did lose the smooth interior coating which helps to prevent sticking of food such as rice or pasta. If I’m cooking a soup or casserole I have to stir it constantly, even on a simmer, to ensure it doesn’t stick,’ she explained.

Fiona said over time, the staining becomes more obvious, making it trickier to clean.

But despite the downside, she said the budget pots are cheap enough to replace every few years – and they are recyclable.

Real Madrid’s favoured media pile pressure on Champions League ref Danny Makkelie

Real Madrid’s media pals pile the pressure on Champions League referee Danny Makkelie by telling him to ‘play fair’ against Chelsea – because players ‘fear’ bias against them for being the architects of Super League

  • Real Madrid face Chelsea in their Champions League semi-final first leg tonight
  • Madrid-based paper Marca hinted at UEFA bias on their controversial front page
  • It has been suggested that Real fear reprisals after their failed Super League bid
  • Club president Florentino Perez was one of the major players behind the idea
  • El Chringuito questioned UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin and his methods
  • Referee Danny Makkelie also came under the spotlight ahead of tonight’s game 

It was predictable that after Real Madrid president Florentino Perez led the failed European Super League launch, the narrative was going to be that the club would now be the victims of UEFA reprisals. Just as predictably that narrative has spread to tonight’s Champions League semi-final.

Marca’s front page ‘Fair Play Ceferin’ put match referee Danny Makkelie bang centre of the spotlight and it was his picture above the Fair Play headline on the front page.

There wasn’t a great deal of conviction in the campaign once inside the pages of Marca. They agreed that Makkelie was an ‘elite’ referee and went on to say the Dutch whistler, ‘as absurd as it might seem,’ would have any errors he makes judged in the light of the suggestion pressure was put on him by UEFA.

Marca piled the pressure on referee Danny Makkelie on their front page on Tuesday morning

Makkelie speaks with captain Sergio Ramos before Real's game with Atalanta last month

Makkelie speaks with captain Sergio Ramos before Real’s game with Atalanta last month

Spain’s football show El Chringuito ran a far more vigorous campaign, however. ‘How are we not going to think bad of Ceferin? How are we not going to doubt after the threats of Ceferin?’ its midday show asked on Monday.

The same platform on which Perez appeared last Sunday to present his Super League plan went on: ‘You will have all seen the scandal of Paris. Did you see the way the Barca players were robbed? Do you all think it’s a coincidence that PSG benefitted from that – three penalties, two of them scandalous? 

‘And tomorrow [Tuesday] Real Madrid v Chelsea – have you mentally prepared? Have you taken it onboard? 

‘Let the Real Madrid players prepare themselves. They should make sure they are careful. They will have to play the perfect game. But perhaps that will not be enough.’

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has threatened the Super League clubs with sanctions

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has threatened the Super League clubs with sanctions

Real president Florentino Perez has been heavily criticised for his role in the Super League

Real president Florentino Perez has been heavily criticised for his role in the Super League

The Barca vs PSG was a reference to Sunday’s Women’s Champions League semi-final first leg in which Barcelona had two penalty shouts turned down. Barca’s coach Lluis Cortes tailored his criticism by recalling that there was no VAR to help out the match officials, but this was being presented as the prelude to tonight’s stitch-up.

When El Chiringuito tweeted the same editorial line, many responded ridiculing the tone and the content. ‘In the Spanish League everything has been gifted to Madrid for decades’ said one response. Another read: ‘Hahaha this is the club that has benefited from from referees in the history of football.’

Another said: ‘Does that mean the four Champions Leagues the club won were because of referees?’ Another said: ‘This is normal: Put pressure on the referee so he errs in favour of Madrid. It’s like opening the umbrella before the rain starts.’

The most serious claim was repeated in the programme’s late-night slot, with the accusation that at least one Real Madrid player ‘feared’ the refereeing the team might encounter in tonight’s game.

That claim upset pundit and former Real Madrid player Javier Balboa, who said he didn’t like the insinuation Madrid would be turned over by the match officials because he had heard exactly the same from Barca fans before the last Clasico – saying they would lose because of the referee – and it gave them the perfect excuse after they were defeated.

It also seemed lost on the conspiracy theorists that Chelsea were also in the original ‘dirty dozen’ and that Thomas Tuchel has spoken out against UEFA’s own revamp of the tournament recently.

Karim Benzema and his team-mates are preparing for a huge Champions League semi tonight

Karim Benzema and his team-mates are preparing for a huge Champions League semi tonight

Spanish media appear to have forgotten that Chelsea were also involved in the Super League

Spanish media appear to have forgotten that Chelsea were also involved in the Super League 

It would have helped the campaign had matchday referee Makkelie had any history of siding against Real Madrid. Unfortunately his only game refereeing the Spanish side came this season and was in their 3-1 win over Atalanta in Valdebebas.

There was plenty made of how Makkelie had been referee of this year’s 2-2 draw between Portugal and Serbia. He and his assistants failed to spot a Portugal goal had crossed the line before it was cleared. Not exactly against Real Madrid, but it did upset Cristiano Ronaldo.

He gave a post-match interview in which he said: ‘In accordance with FIFA policies, all I can say is that I apologised to the national coach, Fernando Santos, and to the Portuguese team for what happened.

‘As a referee team we always work hard to make good decisions. When we are on the news in this way it does not make us happy at all.’

Cristiano Ronaldo was furious after he had a goal disallowed by Makkelie against Serbia

 Cristiano Ronaldo was furious after he had a goal disallowed by Makkelie against Serbia

The former Real star's shot clearly crossed the line but officials decided the ball wasn't over

The former Real star’s shot clearly crossed the line but officials decided the ball wasn’t over 

Referee Makkelie apologised to the players and Portugal's manager after realising his mistake

Referee Makkelie apologised to the players and Portugal’s manager after realising his mistake 

For all the ridicule and the suggestions that this is just a case of either trying to force errors to go their way or getting the excuses in early, there will be those who swallow the charge that UEFA will now take their revenge on Madrid through Makkelie.

Zinedine Zidane knows there is an inherent danger in allowing such theories to take root. Having the excuse set up beforehand might work for some, but not for his players.

‘We are screwed if we think that,’ he said. He needs his players focused and not affected by the attempt to induce delirium.

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Stunning £33m Heesen superyacht comes with a Scandi-chic interior and a fold-out swim platform

Pictured: The stunning £33million superyacht that comes with a Scandi-chic interior, a fold-out swim platform and a big enough tank to cross the Atlantic

  • The 50m (164ft) Project Aura is currently being assembled by renowned Dutch ship-builder Heesen
  • Her two engines give her a top speed of 15 knots (17mph) and she has a range of 3,800 miles
  • Ten guests are accommodated in five staterooms, with the set-up including an eye-catching owner’s suite 

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Are you a multi-millionaire sea-farer in need of something luxurious to roam the seas in from next year onwards?

If so, this could be the superyacht you’ve been looking for.

Project Aura, by renowned Dutch motor-yacht builder Heesen, is available for delivery in February 2022. She comes with a Scandi-chic interior, a fold-out swim platform, and a price tag of £33million-plus.

Project Aura, by renowned Dutch motor-yacht builder Heesen, is available for delivery in February 2022

Aura comes with a Scandi-chic interior, a fold-out swim platform, and a price tag of £33million-plus

Aura comes with a Scandi-chic interior, a fold-out swim platform, and a price tag of £33million-plus

Heesen says Aura's 'drag-cheating bulbous bow allows her to glide through the water with ease'

Heesen says Aura’s ‘drag-cheating bulbous bow allows her to glide through the water with ease’

Heesen says she will ‘have a unique presence on the water’ and is a ‘true blue-water motor yacht ideal for extended cruising’.

Her ‘drag-cheating bulbous bow allows her to glide through the water with ease’, the ship-builder says. And how fast? Her two engines give her a top speed of 15 knots (17mph).

What’s more, she has a range of 3,800 miles, so transatlantic crossings are always an option.

And those on board will travel in style.

Heesen says: ‘Aura’s interior, by British studio Reymond Langton Design, is defined by clean lines and surfaces. Billowing clouds of white and taupe lend an ethereal elegance, with sharply accented highlights in sea green and deep blue. Textured materials evoke a sense of calm, refined by chic Scandinavian simplicity.’

Aura comes with five staterooms able to accommodate 10 guests, with the owner's suite (pictured) located forward on the main deck and the remaining guest cabins down below

Aura comes with five staterooms able to accommodate 10 guests, with the owner’s suite (pictured) located forward on the main deck and the remaining guest cabins down below

Billowing clouds of white and taupe lend an ethereal elegance to Aura's interior, says Heesen. Pictured is the beach club

Billowing clouds of white and taupe lend an ethereal elegance to Aura’s interior, says Heesen. Pictured is the beach club

What does £33million get you interior-wise? Rather a lot, including 'textured materials that evoke a sense of calm and chic Scandinavian simplicity'. Pictured is the beach club

What does £33million get you interior-wise? Rather a lot, including ‘textured materials that evoke a sense of calm and chic Scandinavian simplicity’. Pictured is the beach club

A hot tub and a fold-out swim platform accessed via stairs on either side of the main deck come as standard

A hot tub and a fold-out swim platform accessed via stairs on either side of the main deck come as standard

She comes with five staterooms able to accommodate 10 guests, with the owner’s suite located forward on the main deck and the remaining guest cabins down below.

Other features of the 50m- (164ft) long vessel include a hot tub, al fresco dining, a luxurious beach club and a fold-out swim platform accessed via stairs on either side of the main deck.

If the owner wishes to add their own touches, they only need to say the word.

Aura's interior, by British studio Reymond Langton Design, is 'defined by clean lines and surfaces'. Pictured is the main saloon

Aura’s interior, by British studio Reymond Langton Design, is ‘defined by clean lines and surfaces’. Pictured is the main saloon

Aura will undergo 'rigorous' testing in the North Sea before delivery. Pictured is the 'sky lounge'

Aura will undergo ‘rigorous’ testing in the North Sea before delivery. Pictured is the ‘sky lounge’

Heesen says: ‘Aura’s design environment has been carefully conceived to be both subtle and adaptable, easily allowing for bespoke features to be applied to the finished design scheme.’

Aura will undergo ‘rigorous’ testing in the North Sea before delivery.

Mark Cavendish, Executive Commercial Officer at Heesen, comments: ‘This fabulous new-build represents a unique opportunity to acquire a fine 50-metre yacht with an impeccable Dutch pedigree.’

For more information visit www.heesenyachts.com/fleet/yn19650-project-aura

Mark Cavendish, Chief Commercial Officer at Heesen, comments: 'This fabulous new-build represents a unique opportunity to acquire a fine 50-metre yacht with an impeccable Dutch pedigree'

Mark Cavendish, Chief Commercial Officer at Heesen, comments: ‘This fabulous new-build represents a unique opportunity to acquire a fine 50-metre yacht with an impeccable Dutch pedigree’

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