Uefa satisfied with VAR debut in Champions League knockouts

Video Assistant Referee (VAR) “worked perfectly” at all stadiums that hosted the first leg of the last-16 Champions League ties this week, according to Uefa’s chief refereeing officer Roberto Rosetti.

VAR was implemented for the first time in Europe’s premier club competition and was called into action in games when tight offside and penalty decisions were involved.

“I am very happy with the way VAR was implemented,” Rosetti said in a statement on the Uefa website  “The technology worked perfectly, and the refereeing teams performed at a very high level.”

The most talked-about decision involved VAR ruling out Ajax’s first-half opener against Real Madrid after it deemed Dusan Tadic to be offside when Nicolas Tagliafico headed the ball past Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

Uefa stood by the decision to chalk off the goal but questions were raised over the time it took to reach a verdict, with the restart delayed by nearly three minutes. Continue reading “Uefa satisfied with VAR debut in Champions League knockouts”

Barcelona extends contract of coach Ernesto Valverde

Barcelona have extended coach Ernesto Valverde’s contract by another year until the end of the 2019-20 season with an option for one more year, the La Liga champions said on Friday.

“FC Barcelona and Ernesto Valverde, the first team coach, have reached an agreement to extend the contract between the two parties for another season (2019/20) with the option for one more (2020/21),” the club said in a statement on their website.

The announcement is a huge vote of confidence in Valverde, whose future with the club looked uncertain after he said last December that he did not know what he would be doing the following year.

Valverde, 55, succeeded Luis Enrique as coach in 2017, earning the job after sustained success with Athletic Bilbao. Place bet on Live Matches 24/7 on NaijaBet

He guided Barca to a La Liga and Copa del Rey double in his debut campaign and almost led them to an unbeaten season in the league, losing only their penultimate game to Levante. Continue reading “Barcelona extends contract of coach Ernesto Valverde”

Europa League Match Preview: BATE Borisov vs Arsenal

This will be BATE Borisov’s first competitive match since before Christmas. They ended 2018 unbeaten in four matches.

Arsenal had a perfect record away from home in the Europa League group stage and didn’t concede a goal in that time.

The Gunners haven’t won back-to-back away matches in all competitions since November but should triumph here, though Chelsea only won 1-0 away to BATE in the groups.

Team News

BATE Borisov- Aleksandr Hleb will hope to feature against former club Arsenal on Thursday, though a booking here would rule him out of the return leg at the Emirates. Place bet on Live Matches 24/7 on NaijaBet

Nikolai Signevich was sent off in BATE Borisov’s last Europa League match but has since left the club and joined Hungarian club Ferencvaros. Continue reading “Europa League Match Preview: BATE Borisov vs Arsenal”

Ronaldo on bench as Juventus warm up for Atletico and Frosinone

Cristiano Ronaldo is set for a rare start on the bench as Juventus host struggling Frosinone on Friday looking to pull 14 points clear in Serie A with an eye towards next week’s Champions League trip to Atletico Madrid.

Portuguese star Ronaldo brought his tally to 20 goals for Juventus in all competitions last weekend in a 3-0 win over Sassuolo.

But the 34-year-old will start on the bench for just the second time this season before the former Real Madrid player returns to the Spanish capital next week.

Paulo Dybala returns to the starting line-up, forming an attacking trident alongside Mario Mandzukic and Federico Bernardeschi.

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri’s defensive problems have been eased with trio Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini back training. Various Betting Options are available on Site

Juventus captain Chiellini is expected to return on Friday.

Continue reading “Ronaldo on bench as Juventus warm up for Atletico and Frosinone”

Europa League Match Preview: Malmoe FF vs Chelsea

This is Malmoe’s first competitive match since winning 1-0 away to Besiktas midway through December. They haven’t lost a competitive match since September.

Chelsea are in freefall at the moment after their 6-0 defeat to Manchester City on Sunday. Maurizio Sarri is already under huge pressure to save his job.

Chelsea are favourites despite their poor form. The Blues have lost their last four away matches and haven’t scored in any of those games.

Chelsea last scored away from home on December 30 but it would be a huge shock if they didn’t at least win here. It may not be pretty.

Team News

Malmoe FF– Fouad Bachirou, Søren Rieks, Andreas Vindheim and Rasmus Bengtsson will miss the return leg if they are booked on Thursday. Bet Now on NaijaBet

January signings Adi Nalic, Anel Ahmedhodzic and Dusan Melicharek have been added to Malmoe’s squad for the knockout phase. Continue reading “Europa League Match Preview: Malmoe FF vs Chelsea”

We have more work to do despite sinking Dortmund – Pochettino

Tottenham Hotspur still have work to do to reach the next round of the Champions League despite a convincing 3-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund in their last-16 first leg on Wednesday, said coach Mauricio Pochettino.

Tottenham stunned the Germans with a goal two minutes after halftime from Korean forward Son Heung-min and struck twice late in the game through Belgian defender Jan Vertonghen, who was deployed in an unusual left wing back role, and substitute Fernando Llorente.

“It is a massive, massive performance and effort from my players,” Pochettino told reporters.

“My players are heroes. They deserve a lot of praise because their effort this season is amazing. Start forecasting your Europa League Games Now

“It is only the first half of the tie – 3-0 is a very good result, but we must go to Dortmund with the idea of winning. It is a very good result but there is a lot of work to do.” Continue reading “We have more work to do despite sinking Dortmund – Pochettino”

UCL Match Preview: Tottenham vs Borussia Dortmund

Tottenham progressed to the knockout stages of the Champions League by the skin of their teeth to set up a meeting with Borussia Dortmund. They beat Dortmund both home and away in the group stages of the Champions League last season, but the Bundesliga side are a more difficult proposition this time around.

Dortmund were pegged back from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 with Hoffenheim at the weekend and have now failed to win in three in all competitions. The German giants won two of their three away group stage matches, with their sole defeat coming in their toughest test at Atletico Madrid.

This promises to be an entertaining meeting between two attacking sides and we could see a draw as a result.

Team News

Tottenham-  Harry Kane and Dele Alli are both back in training, but aren’t expected to feature here, while Ben Davies remains sidelined for the home side. Naija and Bet

Eric Dier and Erik Lamela will be assessed after the pair missed the 3-1 win over Leicester. Danny Rose missed training on Tuesday, so is a doubt. Continue reading “UCL Match Preview: Tottenham vs Borussia Dortmund”

Tennis: World No 1 Osaka in split way with coach

World tennis No 1 Naomi Osaka has split from her coach Sascha Bajin just 17 days after completing back-to-back Grand Slam victories at the Australian Open.

“Hey everyone, I will no longer be working together with Sascha. I thank him for his work and wish him all the best in the future,” the 21-year-old Japanese tweeted in a shock announcement.

Bajin, a former hitting partner to Serena Williams, responded: “Thank you Naomi. I wish you nothing but the best as well. What a ride that was. Thank you for letting me be part of this.”

Osaka, who became the first Asian to hold the top ranking after beating Czech Petra Kvitova in the Melbourne final on January 26, had worked with the German for just over a year.

No reason was given for the surprise decision to part ways, but Japanese media cited Osaka’s management company IMG in reporting that there had been a breakdown in the player’s relationship with the coach since the start of the year.

According to Japan’s Nikkan Sports, some practice sessions with Bajin at the Australian Open lasted just 10 minutes and she sometimes hit without him being present. Play bet on today’s tennis games on NaijaBet

Osaka, who is scheduled to compete in Dubai next week, began sounding out potential replacements late last year, local media reported.

Continue reading “Tennis: World No 1 Osaka in split way with coach”

Champions League Match Preview: Ajax vs Real Madrid

Ajax have lost form at the worst time. The Dutch side have lost three matches all season and two of them have come in their last three outings.

Real Madrid, meanwhile, appears to be edging closer to their best form after a rough season. The defending champions are unbeaten in their last seven and have won six of those.

Madrid have drawn away to Barcelona and triumphed on the road to Atletico Madrid in the last week. What looked a tricky draw at the time now appears more straightforward for the defending champions.

Team News

Ajax- Nicolas Tagliafico and Daley Blind are both one booking away from missing the return leg.

Noussair Mazraoui recovered from injury to feature from the bench in Ajax’s 1-0 defeat to Heracles on Saturday. Various Betting Options are available on Site

Frenkie de Jong is reportedly a doubt and Ajax will be desperate to have him available here. Continue reading “Champions League Match Preview: Ajax vs Real Madrid”

PSG showed Manchester United another level – Solskjaer

For around 20 minutes, the Champions League glory days really did feel like they were back for Manchester United.

The capacity 74 000 crowd at Old Trafford was in full voice, United were attacking Paris St Germain down the flanks with speed and aggression and their opponents looked shaky.

That feeling lasted until the French champions began to get a grip on the game and by the end of the night, a 2-0 defeat in the last 16, first-leg clash served to highlight the gulf that remains between this United team and the European elite.

“That’s the level we want to get to” United’s caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told reporters. “We’ve been talking about top four (in the Premier League), that’s one thing but we want to be at the top and Man United should be at the top.

“This is a top, top team we played against. Our players today, are disappointed, of course, but I also think they know we need to step up our level to get to the level we want to get to,” added the Norwegian after suffering his first defeat since taking over 12 games ago in December. Bet now on NaijaBet

United lost forwards Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard to muscle injuries midway through the match and replacements Alexis Sanchez and Juan Mata failed to provide the necessary spark. Continue reading “PSG showed Manchester United another level – Solskjaer”

UCL Match Preview: Manchester United vs Paris Saint-Germain

Paris Saint-Germain were expected to thrash Manchester United when the draw was made in December but so much has changed since then that United have a real chance of progressing.

United have won 10 of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first 11 matches in charge and come up against a PSG side that will be without star forwards Neymar and Edinson Cavani.

The Red Devils are by no means guarenteed to win on Tuesday night but they will be disappointed if they don’t take an advantage into the second leg.

PSG only win in the Champions League away to English opposition was against Chelsea in 2016, otherwise their record is D4, L5. An away goal would leave them in a good position for the second leg.

Team News

Manchester United– Anthony Martial has cemented a starting spot after his performance against Fulham on Saturday. Bet Now

Marcus Rashford, Ashley Young and Jesse Lingard will also return to the starting XI after being rested at the weekend.

Continue reading “UCL Match Preview: Manchester United vs Paris Saint-Germain”

Zamalek eyes first Group D win – CAF Confederation Cup

Zamalek will battle with NA Hussein Dey in the CAF Confederation Cup Group D match at the Borg El Arab Stadium in Egypt on Wednesday.

The Egyptian football heavyweights started their group stage campaign with a surprise 4-2 defeat to Kenyan side Gor Mahia away earlier this month.

Zamalek, who have won nine CAF titles including three Super Cups, are placed fourth on the Group D standings – three points behind the leaders, Gor Mahia.

Christian Gross, the Zamalek coach, feels that his side still has a chance of reaching the knockout stages after their defeat on match-day one.

“We made mistakes as a team especially in defence that led to conceding four goals after getting an advantage through an early goal, they deserved to win,” Gross said. Live Bet 24/7

“We’ve absolutely started on a wrong way but we are in the group stage, we still have a chance with five games to go.” Continue reading “Zamalek eyes first Group D win – CAF Confederation Cup”

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Champions League Match Preview: Roma vs FC Porto

Roma have only lost one of their last eight matches, though that defeat was a 7-1 loss to Fiorentina. The Serie A outfit have not been overly convincing in recent months.

Porto are unbeaten in all competitions since October, though they did lose on penalties to Sporting in the cup last month.

Porto have won their last five Champions League matches. An average of 3.8 goals per game were scored during that time, so expect another entertaining game here.

Team News

Roma- Roma will be without first-choice goalkeeper Robin Olsen for the first leg of their last-16 Champions League tie. Antonio Mirante is ready to deputise. Start forecasting your Champions League Games Now

Cengiz Under has missed Roma’s last four matches with a hamstring injury and is also expected to miss out on Tuesday. With Patrik Schick sidelined, Justin Kluivert has a good chance of starting on the wing. Continue reading “Champions League Match Preview: Roma vs FC Porto”

Sarri under firing line for breaking Chelsea’s Unwanted records

Chelsea acasualtyre making a nasty habit of breaking records for the wrong reasons under Maurizio Sarri, with time running out for the Italian to avoid becoming the latest coaching  at Stamford Bridge.

A 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City on Sunday was Chelsea’s heaviest defeat since 1991.

Just 11 days previously, an embarrassing 4-0 loss at Bournemouth had set the bar at a new low in the Roman Abramovich era.

The Russian billionaire, who bought the club in 2003, is not renowned for his patience with managers once the rot sets in and just eight months into a three-year contract, Sarri could soon find himself on the Chelsea scrapheap.

Even winning league titles was not enough to save Carlo Ancelotti, Jose Mourinho or Antonio Conte from Abramovich’s firing line and the gulf between Chelsea and City on Sunday showed just how far Sarri’s side are from the Premier League’s best right now. Various champions league odds are available on Site

The scale of the defeat also dropped Chelsea below Arsenal down to sixth on goals scored.

Continue reading “Sarri under firing line for breaking Chelsea’s Unwanted records”

United are ready to sink PSG at Old Trafford – Solskjaer

Manchester United will not sit back when Paris St Germain visit Old Trafford for the first leg of their last 16 Champions League meeting on Tuesday, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said.

United are unbeaten in all competitions since Solskjaer replaced Jose Mourinho in December and their improvement is down to the Norwegian’s insistence on an attacking style of play, as opposed to the defensive fare served up by his predecessor.

“We’ve got to rediscover the Manchester United way of playing, and I don’t think many teams enjoy their nights at Old Trafford when we’re on song,” Solskjaer, who has 10 wins and a draw so far, told the Uefa website.

“It’s about taking the game to the opposition, always believing in yourself. If you asked other managers who played against Sir Alex (Ferguson)’s teams, the pace and the tempo going forward was key. Place bet on today’s games on NaijaBet

“I have three good forwards myself. As well as (Marcus) Rashford, (Anthony) Martial, (Romelu) Lukaku, we have (Alexis) Sanchez and (Jesse) Lingard. They can challenge PSG’s defence.” Continue reading “United are ready to sink PSG at Old Trafford – Solskjaer”

Premier League Match Preview: Manchester City vs Chelsea

Manchester City moved back to the top of the Premier League table on Wednesday night as they overcame Everton 2-0, however they may start this clash in second depending on the outcome of Liverpool’s welcome of Bournemouth on Saturday.

That being said, City are only top on goal difference, while the Reds have a game in hand on their title contenders.

Chelsea breezed past Huddersfield last weekend, but they have lost their last three away games in all competitions, succumbing to defeat at Tottenham, Arsenal and Bournemouth since the turn of the year.

They’ve also won only one of their last five visits to the Etihad Stadium, though won the reverse fixture 2-0 as goals from N’Golo Kante and David Luiz ruined City’s chances of an unbeaten season.

City look set to add to Chelsea’s recent away woes and exact revenge on the 2-0 loss at Stamford Bridge earlier in the season. The result should move the champions back to the top of the table, unless Liverpool can make up a seven-goal difference between the pair this weekend.

Team News

Manchester City- Pep Guardiola is again without Claudio Bravo and Vincent Kompany for the welcome of Chelsea.

Benjamin Mendy is a doubt with a ongoing knee complaint, though Guardiola will hope to have him fit to at least make the squad here. Continue reading “Premier League Match Preview: Manchester City vs Chelsea”

Premier League Match Preview: Fulham vs Manchester United

Fulham have lost five of their last six matches in all competitions. They did, however, win their last home game.

Manchester United have won nine of their 10 matches in all competitions since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replaced Jose Mourinho.

This match kickstarts an incredibly difficult run of games for United and it’s vital they get off to a winning start.

United are clear favourites but cannot afford to look past Fulham at the tougher matches on the horizon.

Team News

Fulham- Joe Bryan recovered from injury to start against Crystal Palace last weekend. The former Bristol City defender has fond memories against Manchester United after scoring against them in a League Cup upset last season.

Lazar Markovic and Havard Nordtveit, who both signed for Fulham on deadline day, won’t be considered for their debuts until next week. Continue reading “Premier League Match Preview: Fulham vs Manchester United”

Courtois ready as Real eyes Madrid derby victory

Thibaut Courtois left Chelsea on bad terms last summer and he expects to feel the anger from Atletico Madrid too when he faces them in the white of Real Madrid on Saturday.

Courtois developed into one of the world’s finest goalkeepers during three years on loan at Atletico but he will be up against his former club, and Chelsea teammate Alvaro Morata, in what could prove a pivotal city derby this weekend.

Real arrive on the back of four La Liga wins on the bounce and will jump above their opponents with a win at the Wanda Metropolitano. Atletico have fallen six points adrift of Barcelona and are attempting to stay in touch.

For Courtois, a reunion with Diego Simeone’s side is not new – he faced them twice for Chelsea in the Champions League last season and again at the Santiago Bernabeu in September – but this will be his first experience in front of the Atletico fans, in the colours of Real Madrid.

“It happens in football, it’s a derby and a derby here in Madrid is always heated,” Courtois said. Start forecasting your weekend games NaijaBet

“They’ll whistle and shout, everything you would expect, it’s part of football. I will always respect them. Now I’m playing for the other side.” Continue reading “Courtois ready as Real eyes Madrid derby victory”

Senegal become Africa’s first to reach Fifa U-20 World Cup in Poland

Senegal have become the first African team to qualify for the Fifa U-20 World Cup Poland 2019.

After the second matchday in group B at the Caf U-20 Africa Cup of Nations Niger 2019, the Young Lions of Teranga confirmed their place in this year’s world finals after winning their back-to-back matches, defeating Ghana 2-0 at the Stade de Maradi in Niger following a 2-0 win over Mali on 3 February.

The match-winner was Youssouph Mamadou Badji, who scored a first-half brace to lead Senegal to victory and, most importantly, to world finals qualification. Bet Now

The top two teams in each group will advance to the semifinals and book tickets to Europe. The third and last matchday will take place on Friday 8 February and Saturday 9 February.

Continue reading “Senegal become Africa’s first to reach Fifa U-20 World Cup in Poland”

Man City main objective is to retain EPL title – Guardiola

Pep Guardiola insisted Manchester City’s 2-0 victory at Everton proved they are determined to win their title fight with Liverpool as the champions returned to the top of the table on Wednesday.

It was a far from inspired performance from City at Goodison Park, but goals from Aymeric Laporte and Gabriel Jesus ensured they knocked Liverpool out of pole position on goal difference.

Liverpool had occupied first place since December 8, but now the pressure is on Jurgen Klopp’s side just five weeks after they could have moved 10 points clear of City.

With Liverpool showing signs of nerves after two successive draws damaged their bid for a first English title since 1990, City took advantage in a fixture which was brought forward due to their League Cup final date with Chelsea later this month.

It was a crucial victory and City manager Guardiola claimed his players have no intention of letting Liverpool off the hook now. Place bet on Virtual Games 24/7 on NaijaBet

“We come from champions and we are in a situation where we could have given up but it didn’t happen,” Guardiola said. Continue reading “Man City main objective is to retain EPL title – Guardiola”

ElClasico Match Preview: Barcelona vs Real Madrid

Barcelona will be high on confidence in the Copa del Rey after coming from 2-0 down on aggregate against Sevilla to win 6-1 in the second leg at Camp Nou.

Ernesto Valverde’s side did, however, drop points at home in La Liga this weekend against Valencia. Despite Messi’s injury, the Blaugrana did dispose of Real Madrid quite easily without him back in their first meeting of the campaign.

Real Madrid have won their last five games in all competitions, last losing 1-0 in their away leg of their quarter-final tie against Leganes.

Team News

Barcelona- Lionel Messi is in the squad but won’t start after picking up a minor thigh problem against Valencia at the weekend.

This could see the Argentine star deployed on the bench to call upon if needed. Carles Alena may be asked to start wide, as Ousmane Dembele also has an injury complaint and won‘t be risked.

Jordi Alba will definitely start at left-back as he is suspended for league action this coming weekend. Continue reading “ElClasico Match Preview: Barcelona vs Real Madrid”

Aguero still Man City’s main go goal getter

Much has changed at Manchester City in the three seasons since Pep Guardiola took charge tasked with turning the wealth of the club’s Abu Dhabi backers into domination of English football.

However, if Guardiola’s men are to reel in Liverpool to become the first side in a decade to retain the Premier League, Sergio Aguero is likely to be the primary source of goals just as the Argentine has been for the past seven seasons.

Aguero was a City legend from the moment he won the club’s first title in 44 years with virtually the last kick of the campaign in his debut season.

But the 30-year-old is now staking a claim to be regarded as one of the Premier League’s greatest ever imports, particularly if he spearheads a fourth title triumph in eight years in England. Don’t miss today’s games Bet Now on NaijaBet

Already firmly established as City’s all-time leading scorer, Aguero’s hat-trick in Sunday’s 3-1 win over Arsenal was his 14th for the club, his 10th in the league – just one short of Alan Shearer’s all-time record. Continue reading “Aguero still Man City’s main go goal getter”

Premier League Match Preview: West Ham vs Liverpool

West Ham have conceded seven goals in their last two matches in all competitions, which does not bode well given they have conceded exactly four goals in each of their last four meetings with Liverpool.

Liverpool’s lead at the top of the Premier League was cut to two points on Sunday after Manchester City beat Arsenal. Pep Guardiola’s side also play on Wednesday and could leapfrog Liverpool into first if Jurgen Klopp’s side slip up here.

Team News

West Ham- Scan results have revealed Marko Arnautovic has not broken his foot, but suffered heavy bruising. Monday’s match may come too soon for the forward. Place bet on Live Matches 24/7 on NaijaBet

Lukasz Fabianski is also a doubt with an arm injury and West Ham will be desperate to have their first-choice goalkeeper available here.

Manuel Pellegrini would ideally like to make changes but injuries will prevent that from happening. Andy Carroll could replace Arnautovic in the starting XI to face his former club.

Arthur Masuaku will start at left-back once again if Aaron Cresswell does not recover from a hamstring problem in time. Continue reading “Premier League Match Preview: West Ham vs Liverpool”

Man City back in title hunt after defeating Arsenal- Guardiola

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola feared last week’s defeat at Newcastle United had all but ended their Premier League title hopes but said the defending champions were back in the hunt after Sunday’s 3-1 win over Arsenal.

City are on 59 points from 25 games, two points behind league leaders Liverpool who will face West Ham United tonight and Guardiola was relieved the gap was not wider after Jurgen Klopp’s side drew with Leicester City last week. Place bet on Live Matches 24/7 online

“After the Newcastle game everybody was convinced, myself too, that Liverpool were going to beat Leicester and it would be seven points and it would be almost over,” Guardiola said.

“Now we’re on two points and that’s why we don’t have to look too much at the table… I cannot deny we would prefer West Ham to beat Liverpool, but Liverpool would have preferred Arsenal to beat us.” Continue reading “Man City back in title hunt after defeating Arsenal- Guardiola”