This week has been good to soccer fans all over with a double game week which has kept us all entertained. It has also meant that more stories than usual will have crept by unnoticed, and we are here, as always, to clear that up for you.
Some of our favorites.
Zlatan not calling it a day
The veteran Swede has faced calls to retire of late, but the AC Milan star hit back at his detractors via social media and made it clear that it will be his decision and his alone when he steps away from the field. Now 40, the former Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, Inter Milan, Juventus, LA Galaxy, and AFC Ajax man is a serial winner with club and country.
Why it matters… It would feel weird without the old guy around and one of the quirks of Zlatan's storied career is that despite so many major clubs and multiple spells in some cases, he has never truly settled at any one club and is thus not considered a true legend by any fanbase despite some incredible achievements. Is there time for one final chapter where he truly writes his legend?
Pique caught red handed
The Barcelona man has been discovered to be making millions on the Spanish Supercopa through company Kosmos with around $4.3 million for each edition held in Saudi Arabia over a six-year period which totals around $26 million.
Why it matters… Known for being business-savvy more than most players, Pique has regularly found himself in bother of late after recently bragging that he earns more than Catalan rivals Espanyol, can spend on transfers. This will not help him, and it is not a good look for Spanish federation chief Luis Rubiales with PSG's Sergio Ramos the voice of reason in the most recent recordings.
CFG's Breda bid blocked
City Football Group are not used to failing to get their way but that is what has happened with their proposed $7.5 million takeover of NAC Breda in the Netherlands with fan backlash contributing towards a veto on the move which will ensure that the club remains out of CFG's reach.
Why it matters… CFG are arguably the leading multi-club ownership model and for them to be knocked back like this in a similar way to the issues 777 Partners are experiencing in their attempts to force the takeover of Red Star in France's third tier suggests that supporters are mobilizing to protect their clubs from simply forming part of a talent ecosystem.
Nancy fans arrange club death march
An even starker example of that is the mess unfolding in France's Ligue 2 as AS Nancy Lorraine need a miracle to even hope to avoid relegation via the playoffs. Owned by the increasingly unpopular Pacific Media Group, ASNL's fans are organizing a funeral march for the club this weekend as they anticipate the worst given their beloved team's rudderless leadership under PMG.
Why it matters… If all fans start to be as vocal as Nancy or Breda, then ownership groups will be held to higher standards and it could mean shady owners will be exposed more often and even prevented from purchasing some clubs. Although CFG's track record is stronger than most, PMG's is not and Barnsley are another example of a proud club being run into the group by this inept group.
Freiburg's big day
The DFB Pokal almost became hipster heaven this midweek when it looked like Union Berlin would join SC Freiburg in the final only for RB Leipzig to dash their hopes late on. Christian Streich's men overcame fallen giants Hamburger SV to book their place in the showpiece event as Emil Forsberg's heroics secured Leipzig's spot for the ultimate battle between the perceived forces of good and bad in German soccer.
Why it matters… For Leipzig, this could be the first silverware to show for their years of pumping money into a project which has deservedly earned them recognition for their strategy and structural mastery. For Freiburg, this could also be a first DFB Pokal success and more importantly, Streich's first major silverware 11 years into his job as boss at Europa Park Stadion. No prizes for guessing the overwhelming neutral favorites for this one.
Bielefeld and Granada ring changes
There was movement on the coaching merry-go-round this week as Arminia Bielefeld in the German Bundesliga replaced Frank Kramer while Aitor Karanka was tasked with keeping Granada safe in Spain's La Liga.
Why it matters… As we have seen with the surprise sacking of Sean Dyche, sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures and even if the long-term impact is negative, the short-term jolt could just keep clubs like Burnley, Bielefeld, and Granada in their respective top flights.