After a year away from the sport and with his broadcast career seemingly suffering a setback, Drew Brees teased a potential NFL return on Sunday.

Future Hall of Famer Brees posted on Twitter that he was "undecided" on his future amid reports of his time as an analyst for NBC coming to an end.

He wrote: "Despite speculation from media about my future this fall, I’m currently undecided.

"I may work for NBC, I may play football again, I may focus on business and philanthropy, I may train for the pickleball tour, senior golf tour, coach my kids or all of the above. I'll let you know."

Brees called it a career after the 2020 season - his 15th with the New Orleans Saints - and, while the competitive fire may still burn for an all-time great, the numbers suggest the correct course of action for the 43-year-old would be to stay retired.

Unlike Tom Brady, who swiftly unretired 40 days after announcing his decision to quit in the wake of one of the best seasons of his storied career, Brees endured one of his most underwhelming campaigns in 2020.

Brees remained extremely accurate, completing 70.5 per cent of his passes and delivering an accurate, well-thrown ball on 81.1 per cent of pass attempts.

However, he averaged only 6.41 air yards per attempt, the fourth-fewest among quarterbacks to attempt at least 50 passes.

His 31 completions of 20 yards or more were fewer than that of then-San Francisco 49ers backup Nick Mullens (33). Brees attempted just 21 passes of 21 air yards or more, illustrating an inability to push the ball downfield as his arm strength faded in the final years of his career.

Were Brees to make a comeback, he may not be able to do so with the Saints, who re-signed Jameis Winston to a two-year deal this offseason.

Saints head coach Dennis Allen said of Brees' tweet about a possible comeback: "I think it was a comment made in jest, and we certainly haven't had any conversations in that regard."

Given the age and the numbers from his most recent season, talk of a Brees return is indeed tough to take seriously.

Gareth Bale could be set for a return to English football when his Real Madrid contract expires next month, according to his agent Jonathan Barnett, who has confirmed the winger's imminent exit from the Santiago Bernabeu.

The 32-year-old already looked set to leave Los Blancos at the end of his deal, with Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti saying last month that Bale wanted "to finish on a high note" with the club.

While Madrid wrapped up their 35th league title recently, Bale's role in that success was virtually none-existent, with the former Tottenham man making just seven appearances all season in all competitions, totalling just 290 minutes of action.

Bale has won four Champions League titles during his nine-year spell in the Spanish capital, scoring three goals in finals of the competition (one against Atletico Madrid in 2014 and two against Liverpool in 2018).

However, he has attracted the ire of the club's fans ever since he paraded a flag bearing the slogan "Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order" after helping his national team qualify for Euro 2020, and was described as a "parasite" in Spanish sports daily Marca earlier this year.

Bale remains a key man for his country, scoring a brace in Wales' 2-1 World Cup qualification win over Austria in March to put them within one win of reaching the tournament in Qatar, and Barnett says the result of the Dragons' June play-off against either Scotland or Ukraine will inform any decision on the player's future.

He also hinted Bale could return to England next season, having returned to Tottenham on loan for the duration of the 2020-21 campaign. 

"Gareth will leave Real Madrid, but we have to wait for what Wales will be able to do," Barnett told Portuguese outlet Record.

"It all depends on whether Wales qualify for the World Cup, then we will make a decision, which may vary on whether or not Wales go to the World Cup. 

"Is he likely to return to England? I think so, but we'll have to wait and see."

Wales will face either Scotland or Ukraine on June 5 in Cardiff for a place at the World Cup, where they would face England after being drawn into Group B. 

Delhi Capitals sealed a big victory in the race for the playoffs against Punjab Kings in the Indian Premier League on Monday, thanks largely to the efforts of Mitchell Marsh and Shardul Thakur.

Marsh top-scored with 63 runs as the Capitals posted a target of 160, which the Kings never realistically looked like reaching, in part due to Shardul's outstanding four-wicket haul.

Things could not have started in worse fashion for the Capitals, with David Warner out first ball to Liam Livingstone (3-27).

However, Sarfaraz Khan (32) and Marsh steadied the ship with a partnership of 51, while Marsh and Lalit Yadav (24) added a further 47 to the total, with Arshdeep Singh (3-37) taking the wickets of both Khan and Yadav.

Livingstone then struck twice to remove Rishabh Pant (7) and Rovman Powell (2), before Kagiso Rabada finally claimed Marsh for 63 off 48 balls with 10 deliveries remaining.

Jonny Bairstow (28) and Shikhar Dhawan (19) made a good start to the reply with a partnership of 38 inside four overs before the England man fell to Anrich Nortje.

There soon followed a collapse for the Kings, who quickly went from 53-1 to 67-6 with only Jitesh Sharma showing any sign of sticking around.

He and Rahul Chahar (25) calmed things down to claim 41 from five overs before Jitesh fell for 44 from 34 balls, and although the Kings avoided losing all 10 wickets, Shardul (4-36) completed a strong bowling spell to comfortably close the game out for a 17-run victory, moving the Capitals to fourth in the table.

Shardul leads joint-bowling effort

While Shardul will get the headlines with his four wickets, there was some tremendous economic bowling on display elsewhere in the Capitals' attack.

Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav both posted figures of 2-14, with the former doing so from four overs at a rate of just 3.50, conceding just one boundary.

Kings suffer with the bat

Bairstow, Dhawan, Jitesh, and Chahar aside, the Kings really let themselves down with the bat.

Only one of the top five batsmen in the order hit a six (Bairstow), while no other batsman aside from the aforementioned quartet scored more than six overall.

Tottenham striker Harry Kane hopes head coach Antonio Conte will remain with the club past the end of the season, saying he and his team-mates are enjoying working with the Italian.

Spurs followed up last week's North London derby victory over top-four rivals Arsenal with a 1-0 win against Burnley on Sunday, extending their unbeaten Premier League run to five games as Conte attempts to lead the team to Champions League qualification.

Kane's first-half penalty was enough to seal Tottenham's crucial win over the Clarets, taking the England captain to 20 goals and eight assists in all competitions this season.

The 28-year-old has certainly benefited from Spurs' uplift in form since Conte took the reins in November after Nuno Espirito Santo's sacking. Having earned just five wins and scored nine goals in 10 Premier League games under the former Wolves boss, Tottenham have won 16 of their 27 league matches under the Conte, scoring 55 goals.

However, rumours have suggested Conte could be tempted to move elsewhere at the end of the campaign, with Paris Saint-Germain touted as a possible destination should the former Chelsea boss decide to depart.

Kane, however, told Standard Sport he is enjoying working with Conte and hopes he remains in North London.

Asked whether he thought Conte would still be in the Spurs dugout next season, Kane replied: "I have no idea to be honest, that is his decision. 

"But he has worked really hard while he has been here, he's a great guy, a really passionate man so whatever his decision is, you have to respect it. For sure I am enjoying it and I know the boys are enjoying working with him.

"I have said I am a big fan of his and we get on really well, so of course, it would be great for the club if he stays. 

"But like I have said that is his decision, he's his own man, and I'm sure he will talk to the club and decide on his future. From our point of view, we are all enjoying working with him."

Kane's admiration for Conte's work will be music to the ears of Tottenham fans after their star striker failed to force through a move to Manchester City just under a year ago.

Meanwhile, Kane says he is pleased with the progress shown by Spurs since Conte's appointment, highlighting their need to be more consistent after enduring frustrating periods under previous bosses Nuno and Jose Mourinho.

"There is still a lot of work to do," he added. "I think the improvement has definitely been there since the gaffer came in to where we are now. 

"It shows it can be done in a short space of time, but obviously we will see what happens over the summer and look forward to the next season with a great manager. Hopefully we've learnt a lot since he's been here.

"We had some good times with Jose, we were top of the league for the first few months of the [2020-21] season, we have had spells where we were really good but it is about doing that on a consistent basis over a whole season in all competitions, and not just in the Premier League. 

"That is where we have got to get better and learn from [Conte], and for sure the last few months have been a big improvement."

RB Leipzig star Christopher Nkunku has been named Bundesliga's Player of the Season for the 2021-22 campaign as speculation over a Premier League move persists.

Nkunku won the German top flight's Player of the Month award a single-season record four times - in October, February, March and April - and has been subsequently rewarded with the end-of-season accolade.

Robert Lewandowski, Manchester City-bound Erling Haaland and Bayer Leverkusen's Patrik Schick were all in contention, but only the Bayern Munich talisman (38) can boast more direct goal involvements this term than Nkunku, who has scored 20 goals and recorded 13 assists in 34 league games.

Meanwhile, across Europe's top five leagues in all competitions only Karim Benzema (59), Kylian Mbappe (57) and Lewandowski 56) have been involved in more goals than the Leipzig striker (50).

That goalscoring form and creative prowess guided Leipzig to the Europa League semi-finals, where they were defeated by Rangers, and helped them finish fourth in the Bundesliga.

Nkunku's development has not gone unnoticed by France coach Didier Deschamps, as the 24-year-old made his Les Bleus debut in a friendly against Ivory Coast in March.

He will hope to make Deschamps' squad as France aim to defend their World Cup title at Qatar 2022 in November and December.

There remains uncertainty over who Nkunku will be playing for next season, with Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal all reportedly interested but Leipzig eager to keep him.

United could be the most likely destination for Nkunku, given Ralf Rangnick's association with the Bundesliga club.

Nkunku goes in search of DFB-Pokal success when Leipzig face Freiburg in the final in Berlin on Saturday.

The Green Bay Packers have agreed a four-year contract extension with Jaire Alexander to make him the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL.

According to multiple reports, Green Bay and Alexander have come to terms on a deal worth $84million.

The Packers have made that commitment to the 2018 first-round pick despite him playing just four games last season.

Alexander suffered a sprained shoulder in the Week 4 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers and underwent surgery.

He did not play again in the regular season. Alexander was activated for the Divisional Round game with the San Francisco 49ers but played only eight defensive snaps as the Packers lost 13-10 at home.

Despite his injury-hindered 2021, Alexander is still tied for 14th among all corners for pass breakups since 2018, registering 44 in that time.

In his last full season in 2020, Alexander was arguably the top corner in the NFL.

He allowed a burn, which is when a receiver wins his matchup with a defender on a play where he is targeted, on just 30.6 per cent of targets, the second-best ratio among corners with at least 50 targets.

Alexander was first in burn yards per target (5.22), burn yards per snap (0.84) and second in big-play rate allowed (13 per cent).

And he will now be paid at a rate that reflects his importance to the Packers, Alexander's deal set to pay him $31m in year one, $45m through year two and $61m through year three.

Winning the Premier League is more difficult than lifting the Champions League, says Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl, who could have a decisive say in the title race when his side host Liverpool.

Liverpool could cut Manchester City's lead at the Premier League summit to just a point by winning at Southampton on Tuesday, after Pep Guardiola's team were held to a 2-2 draw at West Ham on Sunday.

Victory over Southampton, who have won just one of their last 10 league games, would keep Jurgen Klopp's side in the hunt for an unprecedented quadruple. A shock win for Southampton would hand the title to City.

Having already secured the EFL Cup and FA Cup, both on penalties against Chelsea in the final, Liverpool also have the Champions League final against Real Madrid on May 28 in Paris to contend with.

But Hasenhuttl, speaking at a pre-match news conference on Monday, labelled the Premier League as the most challenging of titles to win.

"We all know Jurgen and how strong he is and you can be sure that he doesn't give up the chance for winning the league, for sure," said Hasenhuttl.

"This is still the title that is the most countable for everybody because it's the hardest to get. For me it's even harder to be over 38 games in the Premier League consistently on the top than to win the Champions League sometimes.

"Even if he [Klopp] says it's tough for him to go for all four, I know he will do everything to win this game on Tuesday to give himself a chance on the last day."

Klopp has already suggested he does not envisage City dropping points at home to Aston Villa on the final day, but Liverpool first have to negotiate the hurdle presented by Southampton, who won this exact fixture 1-0 last season.

Southampton have also taken two points off City this campaign, with two stalemates in as many league games, but Hasenhuttl appreciates the sizeable task at hand when Liverpool visit.

"I think it is fantastic for the Premier League to have such a close title race," he added.

"Everybody is electrified from this battle and we are now part of this duel. We have done our job this season against Man City with two points. They lost four points against us in the title race.

"Against Liverpool, the first game we lost, so now it's up to us to show again that we can be competitive against a top team.

"For me, it's one of the most difficult games to prepare for because of the flexibility of the opponent and the unbelievable offensive qualities they have."

Southampton have taken home points against Manchester United and Tottenham as well as City this season, but have lost eight of their last nine league meetings with Liverpool.

Hasenhuttl was quick to add that Klopp's side may pose the toughest task yet for his side, who sit 15th in the Premier League.

"This is maybe the most difficult one at home," he continued.

"We have shown against the top teams that we can achieve something very big – and this is what we will need on Tuesday evening. They [the players] know what team we are facing, they know how tough it is, they know on what run of form they are.

"It's our Champions League final, if you want. And we are going for this with everything we have and the team that is on the pitch is the team that will do everything to make them [the fans] proud."

It almost feels as though using the Ron Burgundy 'boy, that escalated quickly' GIF would be a little too on the nose.

The NBA Conference semi-finals proved to be just as dramatic as we all hoped, with two of them going all the way to all or nothing Game 7s.

In the East, despite a bit of a comeback once Joel Embiid returned from injury, the Philadelphia 76ers were unable to halt the number one seed Miami Heat, while defending champions the Milwaukee Bucks are also out after going down in Game 7 to the Boston Celtics.

Over in the West, the Golden State Warriors overcame the Memphis Grizzlies in a tempestuous series defined by Ja Morant's knee injury, while a sensational performance from Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks saw them destroy the Phoenix Suns in their own backyard in Game 7 on Sunday.

They may not be the Conference Finals many predicted, but they will be absolutely covered in compelling narratives, so Stats Perform is here to take a look at what should be two fascinating contests to determine this year's NBA finalists.

Eastern Conference Final

Miami Heat v Boston Celtics

Perhaps this pairing was to be expected given they are the one and two seeds respectively in the East, but with Giannis Antetokounmpo in their corner and an NBA championship to defend, many will have expected the Bucks to get the better of Boston.

The Celtics showed their mettle, though, in particular Jayson Tatum, who is averaging 28.3 points per game (PPG) in the postseason.

Tatum's 6.1 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game are supported by an impressive average of four turnovers as the 24-year-old has set about trying to drag his team all the way.

He has not been alone though, with Jaylen Brown averaging 22.2 PPG, while an unlikely hero emerged in the 109-81 win against the Bucks on Sunday as Grant Williams top-scored with 27, the first time he has done so for the Celtics. Williams hit seven of the Celtics' 22 made three-pointers in an incredible shooting barrage.

 

The Heat took full advantage of an Embiid-less Sixers in the opening games of their series with Philadelphia before losing their 2-0 lead, only to see it out 4-2.

Jimmy Butler shone throughout and is averaging 28.7 PPG in the playoffs so far, as well as 5.4 assists and 7.5 rebounds.

His 32 in Game 6 helped ease any nerves about going to a decider, while even the 40 he managed in defeat in Game 4 made the Sixers work harder than they should have had to.

The Celtics won two of their three meetings with the Heat in the regular season, but Miami were triumphant last time out in late March, winning 106-98 at TD Garden thanks to 24 from Butler and 23 from Kyle Lowry, who may not feature in Game 1.

Lowry injured his hamstring in Game 3 of the Heat’s first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks, and is a doubt for the start of this series.

Western Conference Final

Dallas Mavericks v Golden State Warriors

Can you stop Luka Doncic, or do you just watch in awe and hope the ball pops before he can score?

That probably won't be the question Steve Kerr and the Warriors will be asking, but they will certainly have to come up with some way of dealing with the dangerous Slovenian.

Doncic is averaging 31.5 PPG from his 10 playoff games so far and was unsurprisingly trending on social media on Sunday as his own personal scoring was such that he was single-handedly matching the Phoenix Suns in the first half at Footprint Center.

His 6.6 assists and 10.1 rebounds per game in the postseason also show how dominant he has been, but that should not take away from the fine work going on elsewhere in Jason Kidd's team.

Having had to carry the Mavericks through most of the first round against the Utah Jazz in Doncic's absence, Jalen Brunson demonstrated his worth with 24 against the Suns in Game 7, while Spencer Dinwiddie posted 30 points of his own too.

 

The Warriors are unsurprisingly just as good at spreading the wealth, even if Stephen Curry – like Doncic – is leading the way with his 26.9 PPG in the playoffs.

The three-point assassin is tied with team-mate Klay Thompson for shots from beyond the arc, with both sinking 42 efforts in the postseason so far, which emphasises the importance of Thompson as well, who has averaged 20.4 PPG.

Jordan Poole is playing his part too with 19.3 PPG, including a 50 per cent success rate on field goal attempts, making 74 from 148.

Dallas may have the upper hand going into this one, not just because of their complete undressing of the Suns in Game 7, but also because they won three of the four games against Golden State in the regular season, with Doncic scoring 41 in their last meeting in early March.

Italy head coach Roberto Mancini has declared Giorgio Chiellini's decision to leave Juventus and retire from international football as a "pity for everyone".

Juve great Chiellini confirmed after the 4-2 Coppa Italia final loss to Inter last week that he will depart Turin at the end of the season, ending a 17-year spell with the Bianconeri that has seen him lift 20 trophies.

The centre-back has also already revealed he will retire from international duty with Italy after the Azzurri play Argentina at Wembley Stadium on June 1.

Chiellini opted to play in the Finalissima, a new final pitting the winners of the Copa America and European Championship against each other, as a fitting conclusion after Italy lifted Euro 2020 at Wembley in July.

Reports suggest 37-year-old Chiellini may accept an offer to play in MLS before taking his sizeable experience into management or a coaching role.

Mancini, speaking at the Prisco Prize in Chieti where he received a Special Jury Prize, was quick to heap praise on the veteran Chiellini as he reflected on the influence he has had on Italian football.

"It is a pity for everyone because he was a great player for the national team and for Juve," Mancini said, as quoted by Corriere dello Sport.

"Unfortunately, time passes for everyone. He made this decision but leaving after winning the European Championship in a race like the one at Wembley is still important."

Napoli talisman Lorenzo Insigne has also announced he will leave Serie A to move to Toronto FC at the end of the season.

The 30-year-old scored on his final home appearance for Napoli on Sunday, becoming the second-highest goalscorer in the club's history as he moved clear of Marek Hamsik's tally of 121.

Only team-mate Dries Mertens, with 148, has managed more goals for Napoli, and Mancini spoke glowingly of Insigne after his efforts in Naples and with the national side.

"He will go on to have an important experience anyway. He gave a lot to the national team and I hope he can do it again," the Azzurri boss added.

With those two experienced campaigners leaving Serie A, Mancini believes it is time for the Italian top flight to provide more young talent to fill the void Chiellini and Insigne will leave.

Mancini and the Italian system came into criticism for not trusting younger players after Italy failed to qualify for a second successive World Cup following play-off defeat to North Macedonia in late March.

"The important thing when things didn't go well is to get up," he continued. "We will have games in the summer and then the Nations League restarts. 

"There are several interesting youngsters in the championship but we would like more."

Lazio star Sergej Milinkovic-Savic cited Manchester United's Paul Pogba as an inspiration as speculation grows over a transfer to Old Trafford.

Milinkovic-Savic has played an integral role at Lazio since joining from Genk in July 2015, appearing over 200 times in Serie A.

The Serbia international has again delivered for Maurizio Sarri's side this season, providing 10 goals and 11 assists in the league, while no Serie A midfielder can match his 21 goal contributions.

Meanwhile, no Lazio player has started more Serie A games than the 27-year-old this term, while he also ranks top for tackles (67) and duels won (247).

A creative presence as well as a dominant midfielder, only Luis Alberto (64) has created more chances than Milinkovic-Savic (47), but reports in Italy suggest Lazio are ready to sell their star midfielder.

Paris Saint-Germain and United are among the favourites to sign him, with Lazio's preference not to sell to fellow domestic side Juventus, and Milinkovic-Savic has referenced two Premier League players as his idols.

Pogba, who appears set to depart United at the end of the season, came under special praise from Milinkovic-Savic, while Thiago Alcantara's creativity for Liverpool was also cited.

"Comparisons between me and Pogba? I learned a lot from him at the beginning when I arrived in Italy and he was at Juventus," he told DAZN.

"He is tall like me, has the technique and always makes a difference."

On Thiago, he added: "Against shorter players, I struggle more because I have to lower myself too. Who do I get my cue from? I always look at Thiago from Liverpool.

"I developed some body movements thanks to Futsal, a sport I practised as a child."

Milinkovic-Savic acknowledged he was pleased to continue developing after producing arguably his best season and spoke long term about harbouring Ballon d'Or ambitions.

"My best year? For a few years, the statistics say, I play a little better," he added. "If I feel undervalued? I don't think about this, when I finish the game if I have time I see it again and then I decide if I did well or not, I'm honest with myself.

"In the movements without the ball I have grown a lot over the years. Little by little I have worked and this year you can see the results.

"Five years from now? I don't think so much about the future, I look day by day and I don't think too much about things. Ballon d'Or? Of course, I'd like to win it!"

Christian Eriksen declared he would "love to play Champions League football again" amid speculation of returning to Tottenham or joining Manchester United.

Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest when playing for Denmark last June at Euro 2020 against Finland and was brought back to life on the pitch.

The 30-year-old was then unable to play for Inter, as medical rulings in Italy prevent players from featuring after having a cardioverter-defibrillator fitted.

The midfielder subsequently joined Brentford on a six-month contract in January and has starred on his Premier League return, scoring once and assisting four in 10 league games.

Eriksen has also created 26 chances in the league since his Brentford debut at the end of February, with only Son Heung-min (27), Martin Odegaard (30) and Kevin De Bruyne (37) making more in that period.

However, Eriksen's short-term contract will expire soon after Brentford host relegation-threatened Leeds United on Sunday, leading to questions over his future.

Brentford manager Thomas Frank has made it clear he wants his compatriot to stay, while reports in England suggest a return to Spurs or a move north to United.

Meanwhile, Eriksen has hinted that he wants to play in Europe's premier club competition again, which may bolster Tottenham's bid should Antonio Conte's side edge past Arsenal in the top-four race.

"I do not think that there are some football players who can just pick and choose between clubs, because there are many criteria that come into play," Eriksen told Viaplay.

"There are also many clubs that need to see one's path before that happens.

"I have different offers and options, which we are considering, and then we make a decision.

"I would love to play Champions League football again. I know how much fun it is, but it isn't essential for me."

Eriksen's mid-season boost has ensured Brentford have already secured their Premier League status for next season, while Spurs will head into the final matchday a point behind Arsenal should the Gunners beat Newcastle United on Monday.

Monaco prospect Aurelien Tchouameni remained non-committal over his future amid growing speculation of interest from Real Madrid, Manchester United and Liverpool.

Tchouameni came through the Bordeaux academy before joining Monaco in 2020 on a four-and-a-half-year deal.

The midfielder has appeared 34 times in Ligue 1 this campaign, with only Wissam Ben Yedder (36) and goalkeeper Alexander Nubel (37) featuring more for Philippe Clement's side.

The 22-year-old Tchouameni represents a threat at both ends of the pitch, leading Monaco's charts for successful opposition-half passes (912), while making the most tackles (84) and winning the most duels (258).

That presence has led to interest from the likes of Madrid, where fellow France youngster Eduardo Camavinga joined last season, Liverpool and United, who are reportedly also interested in Declan Rice.

Tchouameni, speaking at the annual Union Nationale des Footballeurs Professionels (UNFP) award ceremony in Paris, where he was named in Ligue 1's Team of the Year, played his cards close to his chest on his future.

"Good question. I have a contract with Monaco," he said when asked about the transfer speculation.

"I'm very good there. The most important thing is to finish the season well. We'll do the accounts at the end and we'll see what the future holds for me."

Tchouameni and Monaco conclude their French top-flight season with a trip to Lens on Saturday, with Clement's side second in the table, ahead of Marseille on a goal difference.

None of us truly know where this life is going to take us, and what highs and lows we will experience along the way.

That is especially true for anyone associated with Rangers Football Club if you had told them after the 2008 UEFA Cup final they would next reach another European showpiece 14 years later.

As the Gers players trudged off the field at the Etihad Stadium having been thoroughly outplayed by Zenit, the disappointment was tempered with a belief that at least this was a team that had made a final and may have been on the way to more.

It took nearly a decade and a half, but on Wednesday they find themselves heading to Spain to line up opposite Eintracht Frankfurt to contest the Europa League final.

Here, Stats Perform takes a look at how Rangers got from Manchester to Seville, with one of the bumpiest rides football has ever seen.

A night to forget in Manchester

Under the guidance of legendary manager Walter Smith in 2007-08, Rangers were looking to overthrow rivals Celtic in the league, having been bested by the Hoops the previous two seasons.

It was no good as Celtic made it a third Scottish title in a row, beating Rangers by three points, but there was a silver lining for the blue half of Glasgow.

Having finished third in their Champions League group behind Barcelona and Lyon, Rangers found themselves in the UEFA Cup.

They overcame Panathinaikos on away goals first up, before beating Werder Bremen 2-0 at Ibrox in first leg of the last 16, one of only two wins they actually managed in their entire run.

After getting past Sporting Lisbon in the quarter-finals, a penalty shoot-out success after 210 goalless minutes against Fiorentina sent Smith's side to the final.

However, it was a step too far for Rangers as they succumbed to defeat in Manchester, losing 2-0 to a Zenit team containing Andrei Arshavin and Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, and managed by former Gers boss Dick Advocaat.

It was a blow but Rangers went on to win the next three Scottish titles until things began to unravel in the 2011-12 season, with poor form and a points deduction for financial issues seeing Celtic take the crown back.

That was far from the worst thing that happened to the club that year, though.

The fall and rise of Rangers

The financial issues were worse than first feared. Owing significant money to HM Revenue and Customs, The Rangers Football Club plc entered liquidation on 31 October 2012.

The club was forced to reform under the new ownership of Charles Green and a vote from other member clubs of the Scottish Football League meant Rangers were forced to begin again at the bottom, in the third division.

Although they had to sell most of their players to raise money and because few fancied playing in Scotland's fourth tier, Rangers still boasted by far the strongest squad in the third division, while manager Ally McCoist had also stayed on to try and take them back to the top.

They unsurprisingly won the league by 24 points in their first season, and had even fewer problems in the second division, now called League One, going unbeaten and drawing only three of their 36 games, securing 102 points and promotion at the first time of asking again.

The Championship was a different prospect altogether, though, as Rangers found themselves in with both Hibernian and Hearts. The two Edinburgh clubs ultimately finished above them, though Rangers beat both Queen of the South and Hibs in the playoffs, before losing to Motherwell in the final, meaning they would have to try again.

Stuart McCall was in charge by that point, and the former Scotland midfielder was able to get the job done in 2015-16, finishing 11 points ahead of second-placed Falkirk.

For the first time in four years, Rangers were back at the top table in Scotland, but this was always going to be the biggest leap. Their first Old Firm derby back in the top flight ended in a 5-1 drubbing by Celtic.

During the winter break, Rangers had played RB Leipzig in a friendly, losing 4-0 to the German side, which was perhaps a prophetic sign of how far they would need to rise to get back to where they felt they belonged.

Rangers finished third in their first two seasons back in the Premiership and decided to bring in a big name to try and force their way into the title picture. Steven Gerrard.

The former Liverpool star was new to management but was able to secure second place in 2018-19, though also back in Europe, Rangers were unable to get out of the Europa League group stage.

They made it to the round of 16 the following season before going out to Bayer Leverkusen, and despite putting up more of a fight in the league, a wobble in the second half of the campaign saw Celtic claim their ninth consecutive title.

Rangers fans everywhere wanted Gerrard to do everything he could to stop their great rivals from making it 10 in a row, and despite none of them being able to witness it thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, Gerrard and his players did just that.

They had done it emphatically as well, going undefeated and collecting 102 points to win the Premiership, averaging 2.42 goals for per game, and just 0.34 goals against across their 38 league matches.

Full circle

It felt like Rangers were ready to take the next step, and many assumed that was by getting back into the group stage of the Champions League in 2021-22.

However, those plans were scuppered as they were beaten home and away by Malmo in qualifying, so back to the Europa League it was.

After losing their first two group games to Lyon and Sparta Prague without scoring, few will have had any hopes about making it to the knockout round playoffs, let alone where they ended up.

Home wins against Brondby and Sparta as well as away draws with Brondby and Lyon saw them advance a point ahead of the Czech side, though they were given a daunting tie against Borussia Dortmund.

On top of that, Gerrard had left for Aston Villa in November, with former player Giovanni van Bronckhorst taking over.

A stunning effort in Signal Iduna Park saw them win 4-2, before completing the job with a 2-2 draw back at Ibrox.

Hard-fought aggregate victories against Red Star Belgrade and Braga sent them to the semi-finals, and a date with more Bundesliga opposition, the very same they had lost convincingly to in that 2017 friendly.

Leipzig will have been wondering how they only won 1-0 at Red Bull Arena in the first leg, but Ibrox was a different matter, with a raucous crowd again cheering Rangers to a famous 3-1 win, and their first European final since 2008.

The second leg came nine years and one day after beating Berwick Rangers 1-0 at Ibrox in their final game in the third division.

It has been quite a ride since Manchester in 2008. Whatever happens in Seville, it is not always about the destination. It's about the journey.

Simone Inzaghi said Inter still believe they can retain the Scudetto after Lautaro Martinez's brace helped the Nerazzurri beat Cagliari and take the Serie A title race to the wire.

After watching Milan beat Atalanta 2-0 at San Siro, the Nerazzurri had to win in Sardinia to avoid ceding their domestic crown to their rivals, but Martinez followed up Matteo Darmian's opener with a second-half double as Inter claimed a hard-fought 3-1 win to keep their hopes intact.

Inter have now won seven of their past eight league games, but must beat Sampdoria and hope Sassuolo defeat the Rossoneri on the final day to win their 20th top-flight title.

Inzaghi won one Serie A title during his playing career, scoring when Sven Goran Eriksson's Lazio claimed a dramatic title triumph on the final day of the 1999-00 season, beating Reggina 3-0 to overturn a two-point deficit to Juventus, who lost 1-0 to Perugia. 

The former striker says that success is proof that anything can happen on the final day, and praised his team for putting in a composed performance just days after beating Juventus to win the Coppa Italia.

"There is still one game missing, the team believes in it. We know that it has already happened, it has already happened to me," Inzaghi told his post-match press conference.

"We believe in it until the end, and we will prepare it in the best possible way. Today we had a very good game two days after celebrating a trophy. In front of us we had a Cagliari team that was playing for survival and nothing was taken for granted, but I have a great team. 

"I won a Scudetto against Lazio that I was two points behind [with one game left] and Juve lost to Perugia on the last day. In football you must never give up, we have always shown it."

Inter's win means they have taken 39 points from their 19 away games in Serie A this season, the same amount they earned when winning the title under Antonio Conte last term.

This represents the Nerazzurri's joint-third best away return in a single Serie A season (in the era of three points for a win), after they took 49 points in 2006-07 and 43 in 2019-20.

Speaking to DAZN in the immediate aftermath of the win, Inzaghi had also heaped praise on two-goal hero Martinez after his match-winning performance.

"I think he's got 25 goals this year. He has scored 13 goals in his last 13. The team put him in a position to score, he is a champion, he is very important for us and the team," he said.

"He was good because even in the period in which he was unable to score, he worked hard, and now you can see the results."

Martinez's tally of 25 goals in all competitions this season is at least eight better than any other Nerazzurri player (Edin Dzeko is second with 17), and the Argentine has become just the sixth Inter player to hit 20 goals in a Serie A season before turning 25 years of age, after Giuseppe Meazza, Sandro Mazzola, Antonio Angelillo, Ronaldo and Mauro Icardi. 

While the striker acknowledged Inter had dropped points in games they should have won this season, he too holds out hope of a dramatic final-day triumph next Sunday.

"We have lost points in matches in which we have done well, but in every competition we have played good football and done the work we wanted," the striker told DAZN.

"The points lost are behind us, now there is one last home game with our fans, and we have to finish the championship in the best way."

Barcelona boss Xavi looked to remain positive following a goalless draw with Getafe, as the club approach the end of an empty-handed season.

Barca lacked verve in the middle of the pitch without Pedri at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez, creating nothing of substance despite having 71.3 per cent possession for the match.

The Blaugrana remain 12 points from Real Madrid, with both teams only managing a point this weekend, but the latter have the LaLiga title already wrapped up with a Champions League final awaiting.

Xavi wants to remain upbeat coming into the off-season, however, believing Barcelona have salvaged a season that could have finished much worse. Since his appointment, Barcelona have surged from mid-table to second place, which is where they will finish.

"As for the league, we were very far away, but the reality is that we have not been able to compete in other competitions. Now things have to be corrected, but it could have been worse," Xavi said.

"If the economic situation is good, I'm optimistic, but we'll wait. We have to plan now and we don't have much time. We are already against the clock to plan and to decide things."

Barca were knocked out of the Champions League's group stage and the Copa del Rey's last-16, opening with only four wins in their opening 11 league games before Xavi was announced to replace Ronald Koeman in November.

A 4-0 win over title winners Madrid in March was soured by their eventual elimination at the hands of Eintracht Frankfurt in the quarter-final of the Europa League, confirming a trophy-less season.

Post-match on Sunday, despite Getafe generating a greater xG (0.43-0.22) with 28.7 per cent possession, Xavi tried to bring the result into context.

"The goal was to qualify for the Super Cup, to finish second, and we've covered that," he said. "Just as we were in November, December, January, we can be happy. Not so much with this game, we were too tidy in the first half, we need to generate more.

"We have not achieved the main objective of winning titles, I would not have signed for it [when taking the job], but we have denied the blow of a disastrous season."

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