Tag Archives: champions league

Liverpool, Leipzig last-16 match ‘moved’ to new location amid Germany ban.

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UEFA’s regulations stipulated that the home side must find a way of hosting the match or risk forfeiting it as a 3-0 defeat.

Liverpool’s Champions League last-16 away tie against RB Leipzig will be staged in Budapest as coronavirus restrictions bar the English champions travelling to Germany, UEFA announced on Sunday.

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The February 16 first leg “will now take place at Puskas Arena in Budapest,” European football’s governing body confirmed.

UEFA’s statement thanked the two clubs “for their close cooperation and assistance in finding a solution to the issue at hand, as well as the Hungarian Football Federation for their support and agreeing to host the match in question.”

Confirmation of Budapest as hosts ended any doubt about the tie taking place after the imposition of strict entry rules in Germany to combat the spread of the pandemic.

UEFA’s regulations stipulated that the home side must find a way of hosting the match or risk forfeiting it as a 3-0 defeat.

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Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp had said he believed an exemption should have been made for his side to travel.

The decision from the German authorities on travel bans also places a question mark over another Champions League last-16 match, as Borussia Moenchengladbach host Manchester City on February 24.

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#NobleSport

No UCL for Leipzig as Liverpool is ‘barred’ from entering Germany.

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The new rules, slated to last until the day after the game, ban travellers from countries hit by new, more contagious coronavirus variants such as Britain.

Liverpool will not be allowed to enter Germany for a Champions League match against RB Leipzig on February 16 because of strict entry rules imposed over the pandemic, the German interior ministry said Thursday.

“German federal police informed RB Leipzig today that the described case does not meet the requirements for an exception” to the travel restrictions, the interior ministry said in a statement.

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According to AFP sports subsidiary SID, Leipzig is now looking for an alternative location.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football – Anfield General Views – Anfield, Liverpool, Britain – March 13, 2020 General view of the Liverpool logo on Anfield Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff/File Photo<br />

The Bundesliga club is set to host Premier League champions Liverpool in a Champions League last-16, first-leg game but the planning for the match has been upended by Germany’s recently updated travel restrictions.

The new rules, slated to last until the day after the game, ban travellers from countries hit by new, more contagious coronavirus variants such as Britain.

Though there are some exceptions for medical workers and others in key professions, the interior ministry has repeatedly said that there is “no special provision for professional sportspeople”.

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According to German media reports, UEFA’s regulations decree that Leipzig must find a way of hosting the match or risk forfeiting it as a 3-0 defeat.

Potential solutions include playing the game at a neutral ground outside of Germany, or switching the home and away legs of the tie so that the first leg would be in Liverpool.

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#NobleSport

Who will the winners of Champions League?

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Which side will win the UCL final and why?

From Bayern’s perspective, since the promotion of Hansi Flick to succeed Niko Kovac, a host of their players have elevated themselves to world-class levels, some even beyond that.

Must Read

Sevilla to face Bayern or PSG for the Super Cup


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Uefa Champions league resumes

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It’s the second leg for first set of teams…

Madrid to clash Manchester City at ethiad stadium.

The old ladies (Juventus) to face Lyon at home too .

Must Read

Szczesny fires warning to UCL rivals saying ‘Ronaldo is in our Midst’


Champions League Conclusion to be decided ‘NextWeek’

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Uefa is set to decide next week on how to conclude this season’s Champions League and Europa League competitions which have been put on hold since March because of the coronavirus pandemic, the European soccer body said Thursday.

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Uefa said in a statement that its executive committee would meet in a video conference on June 17 where the agenda would include “round of 16 onwards and related determinations” for both competitions.

The Champions League final was originally scheduled to be played in Istanbul and the Europa League showpiece in Gdansk, Poland, however last month Uefa said “a variety of options” were being looked at for completing the two competitions.

These could include playing the remaining stages of each competition in a single venue and reducing the quarterfinal and semifinal ties to one leg instead of two.

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The second legs of four Champions League last-16 ties still need to be played, while Atletico Madrid, Paris St Germain, Atalanta and RB Leipzig have already booked their places in the last eight.

In the Europa League, two round of 16 first leg ties still have to be played plus all the second legs.

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The mayor of Madrid said on Tuesday that the Spanish capital was in talks about hosting the Champions League final if it was moved from Istanbul.

The meeting will also discuss the planned schedule and venues for the Euro 2020 tournament, which has been postponed until 2021, and the dates for the playoff ties which were due to be played in March.

The 24-team competition will be held across 12 cities across the continent.

Must Read

‘Messi is a Gem’ Barca should have won more champions league with him – Iniesta


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De Bruyne hints at exit if Champions League ban upheld

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The Manchester City midfielder would be a prized capture for any team, and his most recent comments suggest two years out would be too much.

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Kevin de Bruyne has a contract with Manchester City until 2023. On Saturday he spoke with Belgian newspaper HLN (Het Laatste Nieuws) and the 28-year-old midfielder did not flat out deny his departure from the club if the appeal against the two-year Champions League ban does not go well. By leaving the door open for a potential exit, Europe’s elite clubs will all be in the market to sign one of the most talented players around.

De Bruyne leaves everything open
“I’m just waiting,” he replied. “The club has told us that they are going to appeal and that they are almost 100% sure that they are right. That’s why I’m waiting to see what will happen. I trust my club. Once the statement is made, I’ll review everything.

“Two years would be a long time, in the case of one year I might see. But I’m very happy with City. I play for one of the best teams in the world, I play in England, the most competitive league, and I like it.

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“It continues to be a challenge to be the best and I need that too. What will be will be.”

A decision based on Guardiola exiting too?
“Not particularly. I think Pep says he will take his year of contract anyway, then his contract ends. But I’m not going to let my decision depend on what Pep is doing.

“Of course I have already worked with other coaches and when Pep leaves, I have to continue working with someone else. But I haven’t really paid much attention to that for the time being. There are more important things at the moment.”

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On a Premier League return soon
“My gut says that we may be able to train again within two weeks. The government wants to restart football as soon as possible to give people something.

“Everything will be finished without fans, I think. The financial aspect is far too important in the Premier League. If the season is not finished, it will cause serious problems.”

“Everyone will be tested once we start playing again. I don’t think the players are really afraid for themselves, but they are for their family. That is the main problem for many people.”


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Hopefully Man City will be back in the Champions League soon_ LAPORTE

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Aymeric Laporte is eager to conclude Manchester City’s Champions League campaign but has warned that health must come first before the competition restarts.

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“I’m missing football a lot – I want to play and train, and I think it’s the first time in my life I have not played for this length of time. Hopefully, soon we’ll be back on the pitch and in the Champions League too,” he told Sky Sports.

“We are waiting for news on what the experts say about that, and this is the most important thing. They are the best at doing this job, and they will try to make the best decision for everyone.”

Laporte limped out of the Real Madrid match and has confirmed that there is no lasting damage after his setback.

“When we return, I’ll be back in good physical condition. Of course, what we are doing is not the same sport,” he said, considering the individual training that is currently being conducted by players all around the Premier League.

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“You need more than just running… you need the ball, the feel of the grass and the contact. I don’t have it at home, so hopefully, soon we’ll be back on the pitch.

“It was not a big injury, it was just something light. I needed one or two weeks to rest, so I would have been fine for the second leg. It wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been. Everything – my hamstring, my knee – is now OK.”


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Qualification for European competitions will be on ‘sporting merit’ if leagues don’t finish


UEFA executive committee have decided that if leagues don’t finish the 2019/20 season, then qualification for the Champions League and Europa League will be done on a point-per-game system.

Martyn Ziegler, the chief reporter for The Times, tweeted: “Hearing UEFA’s executive committee has just decided that if leagues do not finish then qualification for Champions League/Europa League should be on sporting merit (which sounds like points per game).”

That would mean Liverpool, Leicester City, Chelsea and Manchester United would qualify for the Champions League – if Manchester City’s Champions League ban remains in place.

Meanwhile, Sheffield United and Wolves could qualify for the Europa League.

Of course, it’s the Premier League’s priority to finish the current campaign but, if that’s not possible, UEFA will go on ‘sporting merit.’

While Ziegler added that “UEFA’s guidelines ONLY affects European qualification, not domestic issues” that didn’t stop Oliver Kay from the Athletic from working out how that would affect the Premier League.
Martyn Ziegler

@martynziegler
Hearing UEFA’s executive committee has just decided that if leagues do not finish then qualification for Champions League/Europa League should be on sporting merit (which sounds like points per game)

He revealed how Sheffield United would go above Wolves thanks to their game in hand, while Arsenal would also leapfrog north London rivals Tottenham.
Oliver Kay

@OliverKay
If Premier League decided by points per game
* Sheff Utd would go from 7th to 6th, leapfrogging Wolves
* Arsenal would go from 9th to 8th, finishing above Spurs for first time in four years
Otherwise unchanged
* Liverpool 1st
* Bournemouth, Norwich, Villa still in relegation zone https://twitter.com/martynziegler/status/1253264908684271617

Martyn Ziegler

@martynziegler
Hearing UEFA’s executive committee has just decided that if leagues do not finish then qualification for Champions League/Europa League should be on sporting merit (which sounds like points per game)

Elsewhere in Europe, though, Atletico Madrid would have to settle for a Europa League place as they currently sit sixth in La Liga. Real Sociedad would enter the Champions League along with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Sevilla.

In Italy, Juventus, Lazio, Inter Milan and Atalanta would enter Europe’s elite competition, with Roma and Napoli having to settle for the Europa League.

The four teams qualifying for the Champions League in Germany would be Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig and Borussia Monchengladbach, with Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Schalke going into the Europa League.

And in France, Paris Saint-Germain will be joined by Marseille and Rennes in the Champions League, with Lille missing out.


#NobleSports

UEFA considering moving UCL final to Aug 29 & UEL final to Aug 26


UEFA is considering proposals which would see the Champions League final being played on August 29, three months later than originally scheduled.

The Champions League final was due to take place at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul on May 30.


Under one of the new proposals which UEFA will discuss next week, the final would be moved to Saturday, August 29 at the same venue.

The Europa League final which was due to be played in Gdansk on May 27 could now be played on Wednesday, August 26.


UEFA is looking at two different options for restarting their club competitions.

If domestic seasons restart in June, UEFA hopes it may be possible to play European club games at the same time.


But if they are delayed, it is more likely that European club games would start after domestic seasons have finished.

That opens up the possibility for the Champions League being played as a ‘mini-tournament’ in August in Istanbul.


Manchester City and Chelsea are still in the Championship League, while Wolves, Manchester United and Rangers are still in the Europa League.

UEFA’s proposals will be discussed at its Executive Committee meeting next Thursday.

It is also holding talks with its 55 member associations on Tuesday and the European Clubs’ Association and European Leagues on Wednesday.


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2-0: Juventus trashed B. Dortmund to reach Quater-finals.


Paris St Germain outclassed Borussia Dortmund in an empty stadium due to coronavirus fears on Wednesday to reach the Champions League quarter-finals 3-2 on aggregate.

Neymar and Juan Bernat were both on the scoresheet before halftime to overturn a 2-1 first-leg deficit and send the French champions into the last eight for the first time since 2016 as Dortmund finished with 10 men after Emre Can was sent off in the dying minutes.


PSG made it past the last 16 after painful exits at the same stage in the last two years. They let slip a 4-0 advantage in a 6-5 aggregate defeat by Barcelona in 2017 and lost to Manchester United on away goals after beating the English side 2-0 at Old Trafford 12 months ago.

Over 3,000 ultra fans gathered near the Parc des Princes before kickoff after being granted authorisation by the police – demonstrations being considered an exemption to the ban of gatherings of more than 1,000 as French authorities try to contain the coronavirus, which has infected 2,281 people and killed 48.


#NobleSport

Gabriel Jesus tells Real Madrid ‘Story’ After UCL 1st Leg Defeat


Gabriel Jesus is ready to play anywhere to help Manchester City win trophies after his role in the Champions League victory over Real Madrid.

The Brazil striker started as a left winger in the 2-1 win at the Santiago Bernebeu as Pep Guardiola made a surprise team selection in the first leg.

Jesus scored the equaliser but also worked hard to double-up as support for Benjamin Mendy at left-back and the 22-year-old was delighted with how the tactics worked out.


Don’t Miss:

1-2: Guardiola elate as City smash Madrid in their first leg


“I enjoy the work,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if I have to run back to help my team-mates, I am young, I have the power and energy to do it.

“I enjoy the position a lot because I can go back and help the full-backs. I am very comfortable there but we have a lot of quality players.


“We are very proud of the performance but we know they have a lot of quality, a lot of amazing players. They are a big club and now there will be another game, the second leg.”

“The challenge is coming and it’s the biggest of the season. We know Real can go to the Etihad and beat us,” he said.

“Sunday is important. It’s been a big week because we played Leicester away, a team with a lot of quality, and went seven points in front of them.

“So we’ve had two very good games – and now it’s a final. It’s important to win the first title of the season.”


#NobleSport

City pleaded over 2 year ban


Manchester City has filed an appeal against their two-year European ban before the Court of Arbitration for Sport, CAS.
The Premier League club have vowed to fight the sanction imposed by UEFA on February 14 for breaching financial fair play regulations.

Although CAS did not indicate a time-frame for the appeal process, it is expected to take several months.


In a statement, CAS said: “The Court of Arbitration for Sport has registered an appeal filed by Manchester City football club against the Union of European Football Associations .”

Man City faces losing hundreds of millions of pounds in prize money, TV revenue, gate receipts and sponsorship income should their appeal against the ban fail.

Last week City Football Group CEO Ferran Soriano said the club hoped to have their appeal heard by CAS before the start of next season’s Champions League.

He said UEFA’s charges against the club of overstating their sponsorship revenue between 2012 and 2016 and failing to cooperate with an investigation were “simply not true.”


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1-2: Guardiola elate as City smash Madrid in their first leg


Pep Guardiola says Manchester City are “not used to doing these things” after his side won at Real Madrid for the first time to take control of their Champions League last-16 tie.

Isco had put Real ahead but a Gabriel Jesus strike and a Kevin de Bruyne penalty secured a 2-1 first-leg win.


It is the first time City have won at a major European team in the knockout stage of the competition.

“To win at the Bernabeu is a great satisfaction for us,” Guardiola said.


“It is amazing to be able to win here for us because we are not used to doing these things.

“We hope it will help us in the future to believe in ourselves and to be able to go to any stadium and play the way we did against Real.”


Analysis: How Pep’s perfect plan earned landmark win in Madrid

Manchester City’s only previous away wins in the Champions League knockout stages were against Dynamo Kiev, Basel and Schalke


Guardiola’s side are hoping to win the Champions League for the first time, having progressed as far as the semi-finals only once before.

Real Madrid are the most successful side in the competition’s history – winning it 13 times – and Guardiola accepts that the tie is far from over.


“It’s just the first part, it’s not three points,” said the manager, whose side will host Real for the second leg on 17 March.

“If one team can overcome this situation, for experience, for everything, it is this club, but of course it is a good result.


“I am so proud of course but it is just the first step, we have another game, it is not over.”

The only negative for Manchester City on Wednesday was the loss of Aymeric Laporte to injury.


The defender was playing in only his fourth match since recovering from a serious knee problem but limped off midway through the first half.

“He’s had four or five months out and it’s a problem when you come back,” Guardiola said.

“He came back in this demanding game and we wanted him to be fit to the end.

“With John [Stones], Nico [Otamendi], Eric [Garcia], Fernandinho, we can get through.”


#Newsworthy…

Manchester City doesn’t deserve ban – Pep Guardiola


Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has claimed he has seen proof why they should not be banned from European competitions.

City have been handed a two-year suspension, after UEFA found the Premier League champions guilty of breaching Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules.


The Etihad club have already moved to appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Speaking at the Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday, ahead of their Champions League last-16 first leg against Real Madrid, Guardiola said: “We were under suspicion for a long time, we have the right to appeal and I trust the people in my club.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola

“They explain the reasons, they showed me the arguments and the proofs. We are optimistic that finally if we deserve to be in the Champions League we can do it next season, if finally, it doesn’t happen we have to accept and move forward.

“My trust is with the club. I know them. We are going to see what happens with CAS.”


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Messi won’t achieve champions league honour at Barcelona despite deserving it


It must be difficult being as gifted as Lionel Messi.

Like the smartest kid in the class, the Argentine star gazes around him during lessons, perplexed at the stupidity and deficiencies of his fellow classmates.

Not so long ago, Messi was part of the advanced and gifted programme, surrounded by like-minded football genii who could finish each other’s sentences and crosses. But the rest of that group has graduated into retirement, and the 32-year-old has been left behind to play with mere mortals.


And as Barcelona’s magician gawped at every overhit cross and misplaced pass from his inferior teammates, that recurring nightmare hit him once more – he’s never going to lift the Champions League again.

But how on earth have the powers at Barcelona allowed such a decline to occur during the peak years of one of football’s greatest ever players.


Messi burst onto the scene in 2004, surrounded by true legends of the game. Andres Iniesta. Xavi. Ronaldinho. Samuel Eto’o. Deco. The list of attacking superstars is endless. A year later, Barcelona won the Champions League.

It was the first Champions League success for their wonderkid – and the first of many, one may have expected. Indeed, Messi has lifted the big European trophy a further three times, writing his name into the tournament’s history forever.


But the overriding emotion towards the competition remains disappointment.

Since their 2015 victory over Juventus, Barça’s Champions League journeys have taken the shape of one mishap after another. A surprise quarter-final defeat to La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid in 2016 was followed by a first-leg hammering at the hands of Juventus at the same stage in 2017.


Those disappointments pale in comparison to their failings over the next two years, however. An implausible implosion in Rome meant that La Blaugrana threw away a three-goal advantage from the first leg, and they suffered the exact same fate against Liverpool a year later in the semi-finals.

Four years of underachievement have finally simmered to boiling point.


Gone are the days of linking up with Dani Alves on the right-hand side, or playing defence-splitting one-twos with Iniesta. Messi must settle for the likes of the technically-flawed Nelson Semedo, or the loose cannon that is Arturo Vidal in midfield.

The decline in the squad’s cohesion and talent is staggering.


Barcelona were up against a stubborn and well-organised Napoli side on Tuesday evening, and the Italians’ game plan was clear from the off: frustrate, and counter. I Partenopei have improved of late, but still languish in sixth place in the Serie A table, and are a far cry from the team which wowed us all under Maurizio Sarri a couple of years ago.

And yet, they were made to look like masters in the art of defence against La Blaugrana, who simply couldn’t find the spark to get their game into gear. Barça’s game plan consisted of pushing the ball from the defence, to the midfield, back to the defence, back to the midfield, switch from side to side, and then clip the ball aimlessly over the top for a goal kick. And repeat.

Champions League Round of 16: First Leg
A tough watch. And it highlights the lack of identity at the club since the days of tiki taka under Pep Guardiola, and the destructive trident of Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar. The easy-on-the-eye passing has remained, but an inability to open teams up with a change of pace and a lack of an incisive through ball now plagues their style.

But no Catalonian supporter would have been more exasperated than their number ten, who dropped deeper and deeper to try and inspire some resemblance of an attacking intent amongst his colleagues.


Messi drove at the Napoli defence, twisting and turning in the tightest of spaces – in ways that only he could – trying desperately to work a shooting opportunity for himself or his teammates. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be.

The lack of successful linkup play between the forward and his fellow Barça stars speaks to the painful normality of the players that surround the talisman.

It’s no secret that the Argentinian international has shouldered the responsibility of carrying this Barcelona side for some years, but Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Napoli made it apparent just how hopeless this team is without him.

Despite dominating possession, Barça rarely threatened the Italian’s goal, and Jose Callejon had arguably the best chance of the match for the hosts, following Antoine Griezmann’s equaliser.


The truth is, although the Spanish champions laboured to a draw in the first leg, they will probably overcome the stubborn Italians at Camp Nou and progress to the quarter-finals. But the ugly truth is, they won’t get much further.

And the biggest truth of them all is, Barcelona won’t win the Champions League this season.


Nor next season. And probably not the season after that.

You could make an argument for four or five different teams lifting the European trophy this year. Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Liverpool and Juventus are all at a level to win the Champions League, and each club will be confident in their own abilities.

For Barcelona, their selling point is simply ‘we have Messi.’ While that USP does stand for more than most, it’s not enough to win the biggest competition in club football. Not anymore. The 32-year-old is as good as he has ever been – if not better – but football has moved on. And left Barcelona behind.

The Catalan giants have simply failed to replace their departed stars of the past with adequate reinforcements, and the huge sums of money spent on the likes of Ousmane Dembélé and Philippe Coutinho have proved to be poor choices.

The lack of creativity in midfield and alongside Messi in attack is alarming, and the mental fragility of the players cripples them on the biggest stage, time and time again. The appointment of a new manager is no longer an efficient process; it’s a long, drawn-out soap opera of leaked stories and rejections.

Ousmane Dembele,Philippe Coutinho
And the necessity – and then decision – to sign Martin Braithwaite after the winter window had closed is just about the icing on the cake.


The whole club reeks of neglect and a shirking of responsibility. A huge rebuild and squad overhaul is needed, and it wont happen in Messi’s lifetime.

Messi now finds himself at a crossroads. Despite the circus that follows the superstar regarding his future at Barcelona, and the clause which allows him to leave the club at the end of any given season, it is evident that the forward would rather see out his final playing years in Catalonia.

But another failure in Europe would once again raise doubts in the superstar’s mind over the possible success behind this patchwork squad, that has been shoddily stacked around him.

With tensions high between players and the Barça hierarchy, and the likelihood of Champions League glory slipping away, Messi must decide what he values more: his Barcelona legacy or his trophy cabinet.


#NobleSport

Tottenham 0-1 RB leipzig: Timo Werner Dents Spurs’ European Hopes


Tottenham have it all to do in their Champions League round of 16 tie after Timo Werner’s penalty handed RB Leipzig a deserved 1-0 lead in north London on Wednesday night

A rip-roaring start from the visitors saw Hugo Lloris forced into an early save, reacting quickly to Angelino’s effort and forcing the on-loan defender’s strike onto the post. It was the visitors who continued to dominate for the remainder of the half, with Timo Werner spurning a decent opportunity for Julian Nagelsmann’s side.


lucas Moura had the first chance of the second half, but it was Leipzig who would take the lead via Werner’s penalty. Ben Davies clearly fouled Konrad Laimer to hand the German the chance from 12 yards, and he made no mistake by firing low beyond Lloris.

Trying to force themselves back into the tie, Giovani Lo Celso came within inches of netting a superb equaliser after seeing his bending free kick tipped onto the post by the outstretched arm of Peter Gulasci.


Spurs continued to press but were unable to find a crucial leveler, and are now faced with a tough task on their hands as they make the return trip to Germany in three weeks’ time.

TOTTENHAM

Key Talking Point

Jose Mourinho

What cost would the absence of Heung-min Son and Harry Kane have on Tottenham’s approach to Wednesday’s clash? The answer: a significant one.


Without a focal point in attack, or someone to hold the ball up in the final third, Spurs struggled to create anything of note. Their approach was a more reactive than proactive one, where it seemed the inevitable goal that would come from RB Leipzig’s onslaught would force their hand as opposed to taking the bull by the horns themselves.

Operating as a 4-4-2 with Dele Alli up top and Gedson Fernandes on the right of midfield, the plan was clear. Soaking up pressure and relying on Lo Celso to craft an opening was all Spurs had going for them. Problem was though, it wasn’t working.


They were facing an outfit who were immensely organised, pressed relentlessly, and who you could forgiven for thinking were the home side based on Wednesday’s showing.

After conceding the goal, the dynamic in Spurs’ game shifted drastically. The question that bubbles up is: why not sooner? Goals change games, sure, but everyone watching on could foresee a Leipzig opener, so why sit back and wait for that to happen? An improvement followed, granted, but Spurs were asking for it from the off. Their Champions League aspirations have taken a massive dent.


Tottenham Player Ratings

Starting XI: Lloris (7); Aurier (6), Alderweireld (7), Sanchez (7), Davies (6); Winks (6), Fernandes (6), Lo Celso (8*), Alli (5), Bergwijn (5); Lucas (6).

Substitutes: Ndombele (7), Lamela (7).

Giovani Lo Celso
Giovani Lo Celso,Christopher Nkunku

How often has this happened since he’s come into the side more regularly? Answer: 99% of the time.


Once again the standout player for Tottenham was Giovani Lo Celso, who was comfortably the the best player on the park in white. His passing was crisp throughout and, particularly in an uninspiring first half, was the one Spurs player who was trying conjure up some magic for his side.

Not only was he looking to carve open opportunities for his teammates, but if there was nothing on he was willing to take the game by the scruff of the neck and drive at the RB Leipzig defence.


RB Leipzig

Key Talking Point

Julian Nagelsmann

How good is the quality of the Bundesliga this season? Take one look at RB Leipzig’s performance in north London and the answer is very clear.

Only six points separate the top six in the division, and Wednesday’s visitors gave a fine example of themselves, showing immense composure and calmness on the ball that was both efficient and effective.

Their pressing was forceful yet measured, and they kept Spurs pinned deep into their own half all the way up until 20 minutes from the end. This was a group of players who knew exactly what their job role was in the side, taking on their orders and adhering to them.


The only issue was, they only scored one. Sure, Spurs turned the screw towards the end, but the fact is that because RB Leipzig were in such control for large spells, the fact they’ve left their opponents with a glimmer of hope in the second leg is the only downside on an otherwise solid showing.

RB Leipzig Player Ratings

Starting XI: Gulasci (8); Halstenberg (8), Ampadu (8), Klostermann (8), Tasende (7); Laimer (8), Sabitzer (9*), Mukiele (8); Nkunku (8); Werner (8), Schick (7).

Substitutes: Haidara (7), Poulsen (7), Forsberg (N/A).

Marcel Sabitzer
Marcel Sabitze,Giovani Lo Celso


Talk about running the show, Marcel Sabitzer was instrumental in all the flowing moves RB Leipzig made on Wednesday night. Operating off the front two, his commanding presence in the middle of the park was the platform for every attack the visitors made.

Intense in his pressing yet calm in possession, the Austrian oozed class with his silky footwork and impressive vision. He wore the captain’s armband and it’s only fair to say it was a captain’s performance from the 25-year-old.


Aaron West

@oeste
I love Marcel Sabitzer so much. He is pure class.

Continue reading Tottenham 0-1 RB leipzig: Timo Werner Dents Spurs’ European Hopes

Messi speaks on 2009-18 rivalry with Ronaldo (see..)


Lionel Messi has admitted that his rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo in Spain was special and it will remain forever.

Messi and Ronaldo played for Barcelona and Real Madrid, where they rivaled each other for the La Liga and Champions League titles from 2009-2018 as well as the Ballon D’Or, before the Portuguese footballer moved to Juventus.

Speaking about their rivalry, Messi said: “It was a special duel and it will remain forever because it lasted many years and it is not easy to maintain certain levels for a long time.


“Plus the teams we played in were also very demanding, both Real Madrid and Barcelona were the two best teams in the world.”

The Argentinian also scored 472 times in all competitions for Barcelona between 2009 and 2018, while the Portuguese star registered 450 goals for Madrid.


Messi added: “Competing on an equal footing for so many years, I think it will remain forever.

“The sporting duel between us was very nice on a personal level and I think people had fun too, whether it was from Madrid or from Barca, or even only football fans in general.”

RONALDO VS MESSI RIVALRY (2009-2018)

Goals:

Messi: 472; Ronaldo: 450

Assists:

Messi: 122; Ronaldo: 95

La Liga Trophies:

Messi: 7; Ronaldo: 2

Champions League Trophies:

Messi: 2; Ronaldo: 4

Ballon D’Or:

Messi: 6: Ronaldo: 5


#NobleSport

3-3: PSG suffered shocking draw against Monaco


Paris Saint Germain’s defensive shortcomings were exposed as Monaco snapped the champions’ Ligue 1 winning streak in a thrilling 3-3 draw at the Parc des Princes on Sunday.

Neymar opened the scoring for the leaders, but Monaco, who were playing their first Ligue 1 game under new coach Robert Moreno, hit back with goals from Gelson Martins and Wissam Ben Yedder.

PSG levelled with an own goal from Fode Ballo-Toure and Neymar netted his second to put them ahead, before substitute Islam Slimani grabbed a point for the visitors.


The result left PSG on 46 points from 19 games, five ahead of second-placed Olympique de Marseille, who have played a game more.

Monaco are eighth on 29 points having also played 19 games.


PSG, who had won their six previous league games, and Monaco will play again at the Louis II stadium on Wednesday.

Nantes climbed up to fourth on 32 points thanks to a 2-0 win at St Etienne.


Thomas Tuchel’s PSG side relied on Neymar’s sterling display but Kylian Mbappe, Mauro Icardi and Angel Di Maria had a night to forget as did the hosts’ defence.

Neymar fired home from close range after being set up by Marco Verratti’s through-ball in the third minute to get the hosts off to a perfect start.


The Brazilian has now scored in his last seven games for PSG.

Monaco, however, reacted swiftly.


Cesc Fabregas flicked the ball into the path of Ben Yedder, who was brought down by Keylor Navas, only for Martins to collect the loose ball and score into an empty net after seven minutes.

Monaco took the lead in the 12th when the league’s top scorer Ben Yedder beat Navas with a low angled shot from just inside the box at the end of a swift team move for his 14th goal of the campaign.


It was the first time since 2012 that PSG had conceded two goals in the opening 15 minutes in Ligue 1.

They levelled 12 minutes later, however, as Ballo-Toure deflected Neymar’s attempt into his own goal.


Neymar was at it again four minutes before the break when he sent Benjamin Lecomte the wrong way to convert a penalty after Kylian Mbappe had been tripped by Martins.

PSG took fewer risks after the break but Slimani beat Navas from close range in the 70th minute after Marquinhos deflected Martins’ attempt into his path.


The goal was initially ruled out for offside by referee Antony Gautier, but was awarded after a VAR review.

“We had a lot of chances, we tried everything,” said Neymar.

“It was a good test and we could have won it.”

Elsewhere, Lille coach Christophe Galtier was fuming at his team after they lost 1-0 at Dijon and were left in fifth place on 31 points.

“We’re talking about collective goals but some players seem to have individual goals. They’ll sit on the bench, period. They’ll look at their own navel on the bench or in the stands,” he told a news conference.


#Newsworthy…

Messi reveals his most iconic records

…reveals his awards and records

If there’s one man who knows a little something about breaking records, it’s Lionel Messi. The Argentine has shattered records with terrifying ease, but he believes that his status as La Liga’s all-time top scorer trumps them all.

Back on 22 November, 2014, Messi netted his 251st, 252nd and 253rd league goals in a 5-1 win over Sevilla which saw him bypass Telmo Zarra’s 251 goals – a record which had stood untouched for 55 years before Messi showed up.

Five years later and Messi currently sits on 432 goals from just 465 games. However, when he first entered the league, he endured a run of just two strikes in 18 matches, which seems almost impossible for someone like the Messi we know these days.

Speaking to mark the 90th anniversary of La Liga, Messi admitted that it was tough for him to start with, but advice from a teammate helped him pull through.

“The first few years, it was difficult for me to score goals; either I was missing or I didn’t have any luck,” he confessed. “I remember [Samuel] Eto’o told me: the day you start scoring goals it’s going to be… because you have a lot of chances and you don’t finish them. Then one day it clicked, they went in.

”Every time I go out on the pitch, I think less about the goal and more about the game.

“To be the top goalscorer in this league with what the Spanish league means is special. To be honest I think that this is one of the best records I have.”

Of those 432 goals, so many of them have come free kicks. The Barcelona man is one of the biggest threats around from set pieces and has netted more in the last five seasons on his own than many of Europe’s biggest sides.

“Recently I have been looking into it and especially in free kicks to see if they move before, if they make a small movement, if not, how they react, how they place the wall,” he revealed.

“It’s true that I am now studying this a bit more. But everything is work and training, I have been getting better with training.”

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#NobleSport

Manchester City Dance Majestically To UCL Last 16.

…serve Dinamo Zagreb right

A hat trick by Gabriel Jesus has powered Manchester City into the last sixteen of the UEFA Champions League.

Man City came from behind to win 4-1, shattering Dinamo Zagreb’s Champions League ambition.

A win for Dinamo would have given the Croatian side a place in the knockout stages for the first time in their history.

#NobleSport

Group C – After screwing Shakhtar Donetsk, Atalanta reach last 16.

Atalanta reached the Champions League last 16 in their first season in the tournament on Wednesday after a 3-0 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk in Group C.

The Italians, who were without a point until their fourth game in the campaign, joined Manchester City in the knock-out stages as Dinamo Zagreb failed to beat the English champions in Croatia, losing 4-1.

Timothy Castagne, Mario Pasalic and Robin Gosens scored in the second half for the side who finished third in Serie A last season to reach the top tier of European football for the first time.

The defending Ukrainian league and cup champions, who play their home matches in the city of Kharkiv due to the ongoing conflict in the east of the country, will play in the last 32 of the Europa League after the defeat.

Shakhtar coach Luis Castro kept faith with the side which beat Olimpik Donetsk on Friday, starting goal-scoring defenders Ismaily and Mykola Matviyenko.

Atalanta’s Gian Pero Gasperini made three changes to the starting lineup from the weekend’s victory over Verona including bringing in Gosens for the injured Josip Ilicic.

The visitors, who drew with City in November to avoid defeat for the first time in the European campaign, started the more positive.

Attacking midfielders Pasalic and Alejandro Gomez both failed to open the scoring despite superb chances in the first quarter of an hour.

Castagne broke the deadlock for the travelling side on 67 minutes despite VAR checking if captain Gomez was offside.

Midfielder Castagne slotted home from Gomez’s cross after tidy build-up play on the edge of the Shakhtar box.

The home side’s hopes of reaching the knockouts were dealt a blow after a bizarre refereeing decision.

Thorsten Schiffner sent defender Dodo off on 77 for striking an opponent but the right-back seemed to make minimal contact with Remo Freuler.

Gasperini’s men clinched their place in the club’s history books with nine minutes to play as Pasalic beat Andriy Pyatov with the slightest of touches from a Ruslan Malinovskyi free-kick hit from near the corner flag.

Gosens added the third in the fourth minute of injury time after a Taras Stepanenko defensive howler in his own penalty area.

#NobleSport

Frank Lampard’s Side Victorious.

Chelsea survived a late scare to move into the Champions League knockout stages with victory over Lille at Stamford Bridge…

Frank Lampard’s side were in complete control for the most part and set up the victory they required with first-half goals from Tammy Abraham and Cesar Azpilicueta.

Chelsea’s nerves were frayed when former striker Loic Remy pulled one back for Lille late on but they were able to close out victory to reach the last 16 after finishing a tough group in second place behind Valencia but ahead of last season’s semi-finalists

Abraham scored his 13th goal of the season after 19 minutes when he turned in Willian’s cross from close range while Azpilicueta headed in from Emerson’s corner 10 minutes before the break.

Where Lampard must improve Chelsea

Lampard and Chelsea deserve great credit for navigating their way out of a dangerous Group H – especially as the Champions League campaign opened with a home defeat by Valencia.

Chelsea regrouped, struck gold with a crucial win away against Ajax and then earned another vital point coming from 4-1 down in the return game against last season’s semi-finalists at Stamford Bridge.

It has been a good effort but Lampard will know as well as anyone that there are faults which must be addressed before the tournament resumes with the knockout phase in February.

Group H: Valencia, Chelsea, Ajax, Lille

Chelsea are full of flair and excitement going forward, led by the free-scoring Abraham, but vulnerable at the back, as proved by those four goals conceded at home to Ajax and the number of chances conceded before drawing 2-2 in Valencia.

And even here, where they were in cruise control for virtually the whole game, they had anxious moments at the end after Remy scored for Lille.

It is in central defence where the uncertainties lie, deficiencies exposed in the Premier League as well as in Europe – and the evidence is already there that this soft underbelly will leave Chelsea in danger as they are on course to draw one of the Champions League elite.

The return of Antonio Rudiger after injury, starting his first game since September, at least gives Lampard the luxury of having his best defender available but the lifting of Chelsea’s transfer ban is very timely in the Champions League context.

Chelsea will surely be looking in the central defensive area, although buying high quality in January is always made more difficult by others clubs’ reluctance to sell mid-season.

Lampard will be well aware this is a weak link that will be ruthlessly probed if Chelsea are to drive deeper into this competition.

Abraham maturing fast

Abraham was given his Chelsea chance after the club were hit with the transfer ban, and on the back of his stellar performances in inspiring Aston Villa to promotion to the Premier League during a loan spell last season.

And how the 22-year-old has delivered in style at home and abroad for Chelsea and his mentor Lampard – scoring his 13th goal of an outstanding season so far, poaching inside the six-yard box on the end of Willian’s delivery.

It was a goal that made Abraham the first English player to score 13 competitive goals for Chelsea in a single season since Lampard scored 17 in 2012-13. There is plenty of potential to add to that tally with more than half of the season remaining.

Abraham’s physical presence is imposing but his mobility is also impressive and as he proved in loan spells at Bristol City and Villa, he deals heavily in the most valuable currency of all – goals.

Chelsea’s weaknesses at the back are obvious, but the young striker has the ability to compensate, emerging as an increasingly influential figure in Lampard’s developing Chelsea side.

Man of the match – Tammy Abraham (Chelsea)

Tammy Abraham
Abraham set Chelsea on their way with a calm finish after 18 minutes. As well as registering two of his three shots on target, he made three key passes for team-mates in a confident display

‘There will be bumps in the road’

“It’s going to be a work in progress. With the young players we have in this side there will be bumps in the road. I push them and can be quite hard on them, setting the high standards I want to see them reach, but at the same time I have to be patient.

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard told BT Sport: “It did get twitchy. We need to take our chances better. At 2-0 I thought it was not quite done and when Lille scored it made it a more nervy finish to the game than it needed to be.

“Today was a sign of how much work we still have got to do. It should have been a calmer finish to the game and that is the biggest thing, for me, that we need to improve.”

#Noblesport

Napoli’s Ancelotti sacked despite champions league wins…

Napoli have sacked manager Carlo Ancelotti less than three hours after he guided them into the Champions League knockout stages…

The Serie A club had not won in nine games in all competitions until Tuesday’s 4-0 success at home to Genk.

Ancelotti was in his second season in charge of Napoli but they sit seventh in the league after that poor run.ADVERTISEMENT

They are the only team to beat Liverpool in 90 minutes this season, defeating the Reds 2-0 in September.

Last month the manager and Napoli players were in a high-profile dispute with president Aurelio de Laurentiis.

De Laurentiis ordered the team to attend a week-long training camp but Ancelotti and his players all returned home.

Ancelotti, who won the Premier League and FA Cup Double with Chelsea in 2009-10, has been linked with the vacant managers’ jobs at Arsenal and Everton.

He is one of only three managers to win three European Cups/Champions Leagues – along with Liverpool legend Bob Paisley and current Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane.

Ancelotti won two Champions Leagues with AC Milan and one with Real Madrid, as well as domestic titles with Milan, Chelsea, Paris St-Germain and Bayern Munich.

He did not appear to know an announcement was imminent after the win over Genk, when he said: “I’ll speak to president De Laurentiis tomorrow and we’ll make the best decision for Napoli.

“As far as I’m concerned, with certain players coming back and the right conditions in place, this team can still target fourth place.

“The win tonight is a weight off our shoulders and can give the players a big boost for the future.”

But a tweet later that evening simply read:“SSC Napoli has taken the decision to part ways with first-team coach Carlo Ancelotti.

“The friendship and mutual respect between the club, president Aurelio de Laurentiis and Carlo Ancelotti remain intact.”

Reports in the Italian media suggest that Gennaro Gattuso, sacked by AC Milan at the end of last season, has been lined up as Ancelotti’s replacement

#NewsWorthy