El Classico Match Preview : Barcelona vs Real Madrid

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Barcelona have drawn their last two La Liga games, stuttering to a 0-0 draw with nine-man Malaga, before going on to snatch an equaliser to earn a point against Real Sociedad.

The hosts have been unbeaten in their last four matches at Camp Nou, but only one of their wins was in any way convincing, meaning that this is the perfect opportunity for Real Madrid to try their luck.

Real Madrid are unbeaten away from home in La Liga in 2016, and last tasted defeat on the road in a 1-0 loss against Villarreal in mid-December of last year. Naija and Bet

Team News

Barcelona – Andres Iniesta should be back in contention to feature for the home side, after a month on the sidelines.

Jordi Alba is carrying both an ankle and a knee problem, but the Spaniard is expected to still be selected ahead of Lucas Digne.

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Schweinsteiger can stay at Man Utd – Mourinho

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The German World Cup winner looks set for a longer stay at Old Trafford after making a rare appearance in the League Cup.

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho says Bastian Schweinsteiger could remain at the club beyond January.

Mourinho stressed Schweinsteiger holds the power given he is under contract at Old Trafford until 2018, but praised the midfielder’s attitude since returning to first-team contention.

The 32-year-old made his first United appearance since March as a late substitute in Wednesday’s 4-1 EFL Cup win over West Ham at Old Trafford, one month after returning to training having been exiled by the manager at the start of the season.

Mourinho has now suggested there is every chance he could stay until the end of the campaign. Place your bet on Naijabet.com

“Of course he can [stay],” Mourinho said ahead of Sunday’s Premier League trip to Everton.

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I prefers Serie A to have 18-team – Juve coach Allegri

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Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri would like Serie A to be cut from 20 teams to 18, echoing recent comments made by Italian football chief Carlo Tavecchio.

“This season, the championship is good and well-balanced,” Allegri told reporters on Friday. Naija and Bet

“There are only a few points between the top seven teams, it’s competitive and if it was with just 18 teams it would be even better,” he said.

Juventus have dominated Serie A since 2011, winning five titles in a row.

Although they are leading again this season, they have found the going tougher and have lost three times already.

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PL Match Preview : West Ham vs Arsenal

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West Ham’s season went from bad to worse during the week. They were not only dumped out of the EFL Cup but injuries picked up to Michail Antonio and Aaron Cresswell has heaped further misery on Slaven Bilic ahead of the reception of Arsenal.

The Hammers have failed to win any of their last five in all competitions and are only above the bottom three on goal difference. Despite what has been a turbulent transition into the London Stadium, West Ham are unbeaten in their last four home matches across all competitions.

Arsenal also come into this match off the back of a disappointing cup exit in midweek, but they will field an almost entirely different team this weekend. The Gunners have only managed one win in their last five competitive matches but they are still unbeaten away from home this season. Naijabet.com

West Ham are unbeaten in their last two matches against Arsenal, which should give Bilic’s side some confidence ahead of this fixture. Andy Carroll scored a hat-trick in this corresponding 3-3 draw last season and could make a return to the starting XI here after a three-month absence through injury.

His availability could change the outcome of this London derby, although Arsenal should still come away with three points to keep pace with their title rivals.

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Messi is happy and satisfied at Barca – Xavi

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Barcelona great Xavi Hernandez cannot imagine Lionel Messi leaving the Catalan club, despite the Argentine forward stalling over a new contract with the La Liga champions.

Xavi is Barca’s all-time appearance leader and was the heartbeat of the club’s midfield from 1998-2015, spending nine years in the first team alongside Messi, who made his debut in 2004.

“I’m in contact with Messi and I think he’s happy and satisfied. He knows Barcelona is the best club in the world for him and I can’t see him in any other club,” Xavi, said on Friday. Naija and Bet

Messi is Barcelona’s all-time leading scorer but has yet to commit to an extension on his current contract, which runs out in 2018. His buy-out clause is set at 250 million euros ($266.03 million).

“I haven’t spoken to him about his new contract but if I was to bet, I wouldn’t expect Messi to go to another club. He could get more money elsewhere but I don’t think he is interested in just money, he is more concerned about stability,” Xavi added.

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Coleman hopes for Everton lift

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Full back Seamus Coleman is hoping Everton can maintain their unbeaten run at Goodison Park to leapfrog Manchester United with a victory over their Premier League opponents on Sunday.

The Merseyside club have 19 points from 13 games to sit in seventh, a point and place behind United, and despite struggling for recent form, Everton have won and drawn three apiece of their six league home games.

“We can take confidence from the home record. The home form has been good. If we beat United on Sunday, we go above them in the league,” Coleman told the club website.

“It is going to be a tough game against Manchester United but we have to go out and perform and do so for 90 minutes – not for 45. Naija and Bet

“The way things are going at the minute, we just want to get out there and put things right.

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PL Match Preview : Tottenham vs Swansea

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Tottenham succumbed to a 2-1 loss at Chelsea last time out and means they have won just one of their last 10 competitive outings.

They have, though, won their five home league meetings with Swansea and should be confident of returning to winning ways here.

Swansea’s 5-4 win at Crystal Palace last weekend ended an 11-game winless run in all competitions. Victory lifted the Swans off the foot of the table and within two points of a place outside the relegation zone.

However, Spurs have what it takes to inflict defeat upon the Swans.

Team News

Tottenham – Danny Rose returns from suspension having sat out the 2-1 loss at Chelsea and is expected to come back into the XI in place of Kevin Wimmer. Naija and Bet

Mauricio Pochettino, though, is without Ben Davies and Erik Lamela due to injury.

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Ranieri top FIFA Coach of the Year award list

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The mastermind of Leicester City’s sensational Premier League triumph is nominated along with the Portugal and Real Madrid bosses as the most impressive of 2016.

Claudio Ranieri, Fernando Santos and Zinedine Zidane have been nominated for FIFA’s Coach of the Year award.

The final winner will be decided by votes from national captains and coaches as well as online voting from fans, with the prize to be awarded along with the Ballon d’Or in January. Naija and Bet

Ranieri is recognised for Leicester City’s stunning Premier League triumph last season, pulling off one of the greatest upsets that football has ever seen.

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Sturridge is not for sale – Klopp

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The striker has started just five games this season, giving rise to speculation, but the Reds boss says there is zero chance of him or any other regulars exiting during the winter.

Jurgen Klopp has dismissed fictitious reports over Daniel Sturridge’s future and made it evident that Liverpool will not sell a member of their first-team squad in January.

The England international, currently nursing a calf complaint, has started just five games this season with Roberto Firmino preferred as the focal point of the club’s front three. Naija and Bet 

That has led to heightened speculation around the 27-year-old’s standing at Anfield, with West Ham the latest side to be linked with the striker. 

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PL Match Preview : Manchester City vs Chelsea

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This eagerly anticipated fixture will see two of the most tactically astute managers come together in what could land an early blow in the destination of the Premier League title.

Chelsea have won each of their last seven matches in the Premier League and are currently one-point clear of Manchester City ahead of Saturday’s early kick-off.

Antonio Conte’s side have only conceded one-goal in that time, meaning City will need to be at their best to break down Chelsea’s defence. Naijabet

City, meanwhile, have only kept two clean sheets all season and aren’t in their best moment despite being unbeaten in their last six league matches.

Each of their last two matches have only been settled by a one-goal margin and they will need to improve if they are to become the first team to stop Chelsea from winning since September.

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Wenger expects Arsenal to regain momentum

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Arsene Wenger is confident Arsenal will get back on track after their surprise League Cup exit when they face London rivals West Ham on Saturday.

Wenger’s side were beaten 2-0 at home by Southampton in the quarterfinals on Tuesday, while West Ham also crashed out of the competition with a 4-1 thrashing at Manchester United.

But while they have that unhappy experience in common the two London clubs have had contrasting fortunes so far this season. Naija and Bet

Arsenal have once again qualified from their Champions League group and are in contention to challenge for a first English title since 2004.

Slaven Bilic’s Hammers, on the other hand, suffered an early Europa League exit and, in their first season with the London Stadium as their new home, have amassed just 12 points from their first 13 league fixtures to sit precariously above the relegation places.

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Barca ready to break Madrid’s unbeaten runs

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Barcelona are the more desperate side as Real Madrid visit Catalonia on Saturday for the first El Clasico of the season boasting a six-point lead at the top of La Liga.

Madrid have won 15 more points in all in La Liga under the guidance of Zinedine Zidane since the sides last met in April and are riding a 31-game unbeaten run in all competitions.

“On Saturday we have more to play for than Madrid, they can lose, we can’t,” said Barcelona defender Gerard Pique. Naijabet.com

Barca are off to their worst league start in nine seasons.

However, coach Luis Enrique believes much of the media criticism of his side has been overblown, citing the institutional crisis that Barca overcame in the January of his debut season in 2015 to win the treble.

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Match Preview : Mainz 05 vs Bayern Munich

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Mainz have won their last three home games and will want to put in another strong performance to make up for their poor away form in recent weeks.

They were successful with a 5-4-1 against Bayern last season and could therefore start with a back-five here to strengthen the centre and try to hit Bayern on the break.

Results-wise, Bayern are back on track after a 2-1 home win against Leverkusen last weekend, but they continue to give away too many chances. Place your bet on Naijabet.com

They need to become more dominant in possession again and prevent their opponents from catching them out of position.

Expect Bayern to try to dominate the game from the outset and Mainz to wait for chances on the break.

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Tottenhem look unto Kane for more inspiration

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Tottenham host Swansea on Saturday hoping Harry Kane can celebrate signing a new contract by continuing his hot scoring streak and helping them get their season firing again.

The England forward sealed an improved deal that ties him to the Londoners until 2022 – a timely boost for a club in a bad patch on the pitch.

They go into the Swansea game having lost their last two matches, firstly at Monaco in the Champions League, a result that meant they cannot qualify for the next stage, and then at London rivals Chelsea in the Premier League. Naija and Bet

That ended Tottenham’s unbeaten start to the league campaign, an achievement which had been all the more impressive since Kane was sidelined by an ankle injury in September.

But with four goals in the four games since he returned to fitness, there is no doubting that Kane will be the man to watch at White Hart Lane once again.

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Ranieri defends spluttering Leicester stars

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With their Premier League title defence in disarray, Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri has been forced to defend the spluttering champions ahead of Saturday’s trip to Sunderland.

Ranieri backed his title-winning stars after criticism of their league form, which has fallen well below last season’s remarkable standards.

The Italian, whose team are only two points above the relegation zone, attempted to explain the difference between his side’s stellar Champions League performance in their debut season and their poor displays in domestic games. Naijabet.com

Ranieri was also forced to defend his club’s transfer business as questions intensify about the impact of their signings.

Club record buy Islam Slimani, who is in line to start at the Stadium of Light, is the only one of the new recruits to make a significant impact with five goals in 10 games since the forward’s arrival from Sporting Lisbon.

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Inter signing Messi is a dangerous dream – Pioli

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The club’s new coach insists he has no time to think about a move for the Argentina ace and says he is focusing solely on Friday’s clash with Napoli.

Stefano Pioli is not entertaining suggestions that Inter could launch an audacious bid for Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.

Messi has always maintained he will return to Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina when his trophy-laden career with La Liga giants Barca eventually comes to an end. Naija and Bet

However, there have been murmurings in some quarters that his future at Camp Nou is unclear due to a reported impasse in contract negotiations.

Marco Tronchetti Provera, the chairman of Inter’s chief sponsor Pirelli, stated earlier this week that the Nerazzurri are “dreaming” of signing Messi.

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Bayern have let things slide too easy – Neuer

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The Germany goalkeeper insists that his side must “give everything” if they are to succeed domestically and in Europe, regardless of the superstars that they have in their ranks.

Manuel Neuer concedes that Bayern Munich have “let things slide” in recent weeks and warns that they will not succeed unless they get back to their best.

The Bundesliga champions started the season with eight straight wins in all competitions but two separate runs of going three games without a victory has seen them surrender their place at the top of the German top flight, while they will finish second in their Champions League group behind Atletico Madrid. Naija and Bet

Bayern finished last season 10 points ahead of nearest challengers Borussia Dortmund but are now three points behind the Bundesliga’s newest sensation, RB Leipzig, who have rocketed to the top of the table in their first season in the division.

And Neuer insists that Carlo Ancelotti’s side must continue to work hard and “give everything” if they are to claim a fifth consecutive league title this term.

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I am excited with Man United improvement – Mkhitaryan

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The Armenian, who starred in the League Cup demolition of West Ham, has urged the Red Devils to carry that positive performance into Sunday’s clash with Everton.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan was left excited by his and the team’s display after putting in a Man of the Match performance in Manchester United’s EFL Cup quarter-final victory over West Ham.

The Armenia star arrived at Old Trafford among much fanfare in the close-season, but has largely found himself on the periphery of the first team at Old Trafford. Naijabet.com

However, Mkhitaryan dazzled in last week’s Europa League rout of Feyenoord and was once again in impressive form as United swept aside the Hammers 4-1 to seal a semi-final berth, with Hull City awaiting in the last four.

The forward laid on assists for Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Anthony Martial, who each scored twice, and was afforded a huge ovation from the home faithful when substituted for Marcus Rashford late in the game.

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Victor Moses might move to Barca

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The reported interest of the Catalan giants has taken everyone by surprise, but it’s so bold and daring that it might be the perfect solution to a problem position this season.

Life comes at you quickly. So too does football, as any goalkeeper will attest. Six months ago, Victor Moses ticked West Ham United on the list of sides he’d represented in the Premier League, That number stands at five, and the question was, who would be number six?

The turnaround in fortunes, from being the talented-but-not-quite surplus to team staple has been sudden, but even though Antonio Conte insisted on having him as a part of the squad, it was not always on.

As a matter of fact, Moses started none of Chelsea’s first six league games; the Blues have won every game since, and the Nigeria international has flourished in an unfamiliar wing-back role. Naija and Bet

While he has taken his chance admirably, his rise has exploited something of a squad imbalance.

The lack of an attacking full-back at Stamford Bridge, as well as the specialist nature of the wing-back role, has allowed him learn the position without pressure.

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PSG are slowly making progress – Emery

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The is happy to see his side close in on first place in Ligue 1 and believes they are progressing well after an indifferent start.

Unai Emery feels Paris Saint-Germain are on the right track following a difficult start to the season.

The reigning Ligue 1 champions beat Angers 2-0 on Wednesday courtesy of goals from Thiago Silva and Edinson Cavani to leapfrog Monaco into second place in the table, just one point behind surprise leaders Nice.

PSG are now on a 12-game unbeaten run after an indifferent start under Emery and the former Sevilla boss is pleased with the progress they have been making. Naija and Bet

“It was an important match to win, for the three points, for the table and because it was a home game,” Emery said.

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Southgate named as England permanent manager

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Gareth Southgate will lead England towards the 2018 World Cup and 2020 European Championship after being appointed as permanent manager of the national team by the FA on Wednesday.

The 46-year-old succeeds Sam Allardyce who departed 67 days into his reign after being caught up in a newspaper sting.

In a statement released after a meeting of the Football Association board at St George’s Park, the FA said the former England defender had agreed a four-year contract. Naija and Bet

Southgate, who was in charge of England’s under 21s for 32 games, has overseen two wins and a draw in the three World Cup qualifying games he has overseen as interim manager, leaving England top of the group. He also saw his side draw with Spain.

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Gareth Bale surgery was successful

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Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale has undergone successful surgery on his right ankle in London, the club said on Tuesday. Naijabet

The Wales international damaged tendons in his ankle during his team’s 2-1 Champions League victory at Sporting Lisbon on November 22.

“Our player Gareth Bale has undergone today successful surgery to repair damaged tendons in his right ankle,” Real said in a statement.

“The operation took place at King Edward VII Hospital in London by doctor James Calder and Real Madrid Sanitas doctor Mikel Aramberri, under the supervision of doctor Jesus Olmo, head of Real Madrid’s medical services.”

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Iniesta set to be fit for Clasico at Nou Camp

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Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta is available to play against Real Madrid in the first Clasico of the season on Saturday at the Nou Camp, coach Luis Enrique said on Tuesday.

The 32-year-old midfielder damaged knee ligaments last month and returned to training on Friday.

“Andres is waiting to be given the all clear by the doctors but this is just a formality. He is fit and he has been training with us,” Luis Enrique said.

“He is available for selection.” Place your bet on Naijabet.com

The Spain international missed Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Real Sociedad, a result that left Barca six points adrift of La Liga leaders Real Madrid, who are unbeaten in 31 games in all competitions.

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Walcott target scoring more goals

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Arsenal forward Theo Walcott is eager to continue his rich vein of form by scoring 10 goals before Christmas, which he plans to celebrate by receiving a coffee machine as a gift from his wife.

The England international scored in Sunday’s 3-1 Premier League victory over Bournemouth to take his tally up to nine goals in 15 appearances this season.

“I want to get 10 (goals) so I can get a coffee machine for Christmas from my wife. She said ‘if you get 10 goals before Christmas I’ll buy you this coffee machine’,” Walcott said. Naija and Bet

“So I can’t wait for that and hopefully it will happen. Coming from the wing as well, I’m obviously delighted with my goals so far. There’s been a lot of ups and downs but hopefully… we’re back to the level we want to be at.”

Winger Alexis Sanchez has excelled since moving into a central role this season, having scoring 10 goals in 18 appearances, and Walcott has said that he had also benefited from the Chile international’s positional shift.

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Mourinho looks like he’s trying to get sacked’ – Tony Gale

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Premier League title winner Tony Gale feels the Portuguese coach is short on ideas and ‘looking for an out’ just a few months into his Old Trafford reign.

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho “looks like a man that’s trying to get sacked”, according to Premier League title winner Tony Gale.

The Portuguese is only a few months into the contract he penned upon his arrival at Old Trafford over the summer, and recently expressed a desire to work past the end of an initial three-year deal.

He is struggling to light a fire under the Red Devils, though, and will continue to face uncomfortable questions for as long as his side falter.

Mourinho has also shown signs of the pressure starting to tell of late, with his latest touchline outburst resulting in him being sent to stands during a frustrating 1-1 draw with West Ham. Naija and Bet

And Gale, who lifted the top-flight crown with Blackburn in 1994-95, believes the former Chelsea boss is running out of ideas and is “looking for an out” after refusing to commit himself fully to a new life in Manchester.

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