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Marcotti's Musings

Barcelona have the quality to win without Messi. PLUS: Mourinho becomes the story again

Barcelona have lost their safety blanket, the ace in the hole that sees you through tough times, the guy whose technical ability, creativity and decision-making can make the best-laid tactical schemes redundant. That's what Lionel Messi brings to the table and the broken arm he suffered early in the Sevilla game means Ernesto Valverde will be without his services for a good three weeks. In that time, they'll play matches that matter: Inter home (and possibly away) in the Champions League, Rayo...

After a nightmare start to the season, Jose Mourinho now faces absurd FA charge

Gab Marcotti calls the FA's charges against Jose Mourinho 'needless' after the Man United manager's comments were caught on camera against Newcastle.
Jon Champion says Jose Mourinho makes himself an easy target for criticism and explains why the Man United boss' antics make him uncomfortable.
Paul Mariner reacts to Wayne Rooney's defence of Jose Mourinho, in which the Man United legend called for player accountability at Old Trafford.

You would think the English Football Association have more important things to do but, no, someone in the bowels of the FA decided on Tuesday that Jose Mourinho ought to be charged for allegedly mouthing "abusive, insulting or improper language" in view of the cameras following Manchester United's 3-2 comeback victory over Newcastle United on Oct. 6.

As far as we know, he was not charged for waving a little finger in the air while mouthing at the camera, a gesture some took so seriously -- as if...

Germany's slump shouldn't result in Low's exit, Italy show signs of regeneration

How quickly things change. Germany went into the World Cup as reigning world champions, Confederations Cup champions and European U21 champions. It wasn't just the present that was rosy, but the future too. And Joachim Low got a big contract extension through 2022.

Fast-forward to the present day. Saturday's 3-0 defeat away to the Dutch -- a team that failed to qualify for the last two major tournaments, featured two debutants (Denzel Dumfries and Steven Bergwijn) and had Ryan Babel in attack...

It's time for FIFA to fix the international calendar and reduce player fatigue

Every year it hits you like the ultimate buzzkill: The new club season begins, you're all excited, the air of possibility hangs in the air, you play the first few games ... and then it all shuts down.

International break.

No matter. We get started again, everything is great for another five weeks or so ... and then it all grinds to a halt again. Another international break, this one in October.

Another four weeks of football and it's time to shut it down once more. Here comes the November...

Why Guardiola should feel better than Klopp about Sunday's draw, Kovac in big trouble at Bayern

We were expecting entertainment but got very little. Still, you don't need to spin too much for both Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola to turn the scoreless draw at Anfield into a positive.

Klopp can say the result, after a very poor performance in Naples, shows his side have the mental strength to bounce back. And being on 20 points after eight games -- including matches against Chelsea and Spurs away, plus City at home -- is not a bad place to be. Particularly when you consider they're also in...

Real Madrid aren't in 'crisis' despite five-hour scoring drought, CSKA defeat

The sky is falling. Real Madrid have two defeats and one draw in their last three games. They have gone 329 minutes without scoring; if you frame it as being more than five hours (which it is), the run sounds even worse. The last time they went this long before celebrating a goal was in 2007, when Fabio Capello was in charge and David Beckham had yet to move to Los Angeles.

Furthermore, Real failed to score in a Champions League game for the first time in nearly two years, a run of 29 games,...