You’d regret leaving Leicester, Ranieri warns stars

Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri has warned his freshly crowned Premier League champions that they would regret leaving the club, in comments published by British newspapers on Monday.

Leicester were presented with the Premier League trophy following Saturday’s 3-1 home win over Everton, having overcome odds of 5,000-1 to win the first top-flight title in their 132-year history.

They now face a challenge to hold onto players such as Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante, but with a Champions League campaign on the horizon, Ranieri is confident that they will stay put.

“I want to enjoy, but I feel it is possible maybe to keep all the players,” said the Italian. “It is important for us, but it is important also for them because they don’t know the Champions League.

“If they go away, it is not good for them. It is much better if they improve another year here and then go wherever they want.

“But I have said so many times if one player comes to me and says, ‘Gaffer, I want to go’, then I leave him to go because it is OK.” Naijabet

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Bayern plan to win double cup for Pep’s farewell

Bayern Munich plan to bid farewell to coach Pep Guardiola with the league and cup double, as they prepare to start the party next Saturday after winning a historic fourth straight Bundesliga title.

Bayern became the first club to win the German league four times in a row on Saturday after their 2-1 win at Bavarian neighbours Ingolstadt, when Robert Lewandowski scored both goals.

Their hopes of winning the Champions League were ended on Tuesday in the semifinals by Atletico Madrid, but Bayern can win the domestic double for the 11th time, having won both the league and cup eight times since 2000.

They face Borussia Dortmund, who finished as the Bundesliga’s runners-up, in the German Cup final on May 21 at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium.

The Bayern squad partied on the way back to Munich, but the real festivities start on Saturday after Guardiola’s final home game against relegated Hanover 96, before coaching Manchester City next season.

Guardiola will need a spare suit at the Allianz Arena when the players receive over-sized full beer glasses after the final whistle and the coach is always the preferred candidate for the traditional ‘beer shower’.

Once captain Philipp Lahm has lifted the Bundesliga trophy in Munich, the focus will be beating Dortmund in Berlin. Naija and Bet

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Barcelona ‘deserve to be Champions’ – Enrique

Barcelona boss Luis Enrique believes his side will be deserving winners of a 24th La Liga title if they can beat Granada away on Saturday to stave of a late surge from Real Madrid.

The Catalans lead Madrid by a point with just one game to play after continuing their return to form with a 5-0 drubbing of Espanyol in the Catalan derby on Sunday.

Luis Suarez scored twice, whilst Lionel Messi, Neymar and Rafinha, with his first goal since returning from a long-term knee injury, were also on target.

One of their title rivals fell by the wayside on Sunday as Atletico Madrid’s 2-1 defeat to already-relegated Levante means they can now longer catch Barca.

However, Real registered their 11th consecutive league win, 3-2 over Valencia, to take the title race to the final day of the season.

“These are moments of the highest tension for all the players and all the teams and we are managing it in the best way possible,” said Enrique.

“I think we played a complete match in attack and defence. I don’t remember the opposition having any chances and we had great moments in the match. Naijabet.com

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Ranieri urges his players not to let celebration affect them,but to keep winning

Leicester City may be able to let their hair down now they have secured one of sport’s most unlikely triumphs in winning the Premier League but manager Claudio Ranieri wants no let-up from his champions.

Fans at the King Power Stadium on Saturday will have Ranieri’s fellow Italian Andrea Bocelli, one of the world’s leading tenors, to serenade them before kick-off and after the match skipper Wes Morgan will collect the Premier League trophy – final proof that the 5 000/1 pre-season outsiders have indeed clinched the title.

But in between they face Everton, with the Merseyside club’s manager Roberto Martinez desperate for a win that will help take the Toffees into the top half of the table and lessen the calls from angry fans demanding the Spaniard be replaced at Goodison Park.

“Inside me there are two people. One is a very aggressive, I want to win, I won the Premier League but now I want to win on Saturday,” said Ranieri.

Martinez said he did not expect Leicester to ease up after several days of rejoicing that started when second-placed Tottenham’s draw with Chelsea on Monday meant they could no longer catch the Foxes.

“I’m sure any sort of celebration could affect you in the long term if you had to face a difficult month. In a 90-minute game where the stadium is going to be an historic environment, I’m sure that can only be positive for the home team,” Martinez said. Naijabet.com

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Bayern hope to heal their Euro hurt with league title and German Cup

Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich will try to heal their Champions League hurt with a win at Ingolstadt on Saturday which would confirm a record fourth straight German league title.

Atletico Madrid advanced to the Champions League final on away goals at Bayern’s expense on Tuesday despite losing the second leg of their semifinal 2-1 in Munich having triumphed 1-0 in Spain last week.

It was Bayern’s third consecutive Champions League exit at the semifinal stage.

With their dreams of winning the treble now gone, Bayern can still clinch the double as they also face Borussia Dortmund in the German Cup final in Berlin on May 21.

“We still have two major aims this season and I hope that we win the remaining three games and can celebrate the German title and the German Cup,” said Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski.

“We’re still not champions yet, though, but I hope we will be in Ingolstadt.”

With 27 league goals this season, Lewandowski is the league’s top scorer, two clear of nearest rival, Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Naija and Bet

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Liverpool, Sevilla reach Europa League final

Liverpool romped into the Europa League final with a 3-0 win over Villarreal on another magical night at Anfield to tee up a showpiece clash with holders Sevilla who swatted away visitors Shakhtar Donetsk 3-1 on Thursday.

Five times European champions Liverpool reached a 12th continental final thanks to an own goal from Bruno Soriano and further strikes from Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana to overturn a first-leg deficit and go through 3-1 on aggregate.

Villarreal were largely anonymous throughout and seemed to wilt in the face of a raucous atmosphere and early onslaught by the hosts, while their demise was hastened by a sending off for Victor Ruiz for a second booking after 71 minutes.

It was a superb evening for Sturridge, whose place in the starting lineup had been in doubt after he was left out of key recent fixtures, but he was instrumental in a one-sided victory that prevented Spanish dominance of Europe’s two major finals.

With Real Madrid and city rivals Atletico set to contest the Champions League showpiece, Sevilla ensured there would also be a Spanish team in the continent’s second-tier competition, while staying on course for a record third straight title.

They had Kevin Gameiro to thank for a comfortable 5-3 aggregate win over Ukrainian outfit Shakhtar with the France striker scoring twice and Mariano Ferreira grabbing a third to book Sevilla’s spot in the final in Basel on May 18. Naijabet

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Barcelona are hoping to beat Espanyol to avoid history repeating itself

When Barcelona host local rivals Espanyol on Saturday hoping to edge closer to the La Liga title, many may be haunted by Raul Tamudo’s 89th minute equaliser which wrecked their title bid in 2006/07.

Just as they will do on Saturday, Espanyol visited the Nou Camp in the penultimate weekend.

Barcelona were on course to go into the final game of the season on top after taking a 2-1 lead. But Tamudo struck what is now infamously known as the ‘Tamudazo’, handing the title to Real Madrid.

Barca are top of La Liga on 85 points due to their superior head-to-head record with second-paced Atletico Madrid, also on 85, while Real are third with 84.

Espanyol are 14th with 40 points.

Luis Enrique’s Barca have won their last three games after relinquishing their nine-point lead over Atletico following three straight defeats. But another slip up against Espanyol, who held Barca to a goalless draw in back in January, could prove costly.

Defender Jordi Alba said thoughts of events in 2007 are far from his mind, but admitted Espanyol would be stubborn opponents.

“A ‘Tamudazo’ isn’t on my mind, but Espanyol are a difficult team who need points and they play these games with a lot of intensity,” Alba said on Wednesday at a sponsor’s event.

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic could return to AC Milan

Paris Saint-Germain’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic could consider a return to AC Milan in Serie A, according to the Sweden striker’s agent in a report on Thursday.

Ibrahimovic is set to leave the French champions at the end of the season, with reports claiming the 34-goal striker could be headed for England’s Premier League.

Ibrahimovic’s agent Mino Raiola told men’s magazine GQ Italia that the Swede could return to Italy where he also starred for Juventus and Inter Milan.

Extracts appear on gazzetta.it, which quoted Raiola as saying: “Ibra could return to Italy, to Milan.”

In what is seen as a veiled reference to recent reports linking Ibrahimovic to a 75m euros-per-season deal in China, Raiola, in direct extracts from the magazine interview, added: “Ibra is a player who is capable of some amazing tricks. Even turning down many millions to go to AC Milan. He has still not decided.”

Raiola also represents Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba and Liverpool’s on-loan AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli.

He dismissed claims highly-rated Pogba would be tempted away from recently-crowned champions Juve by Chelsea this summer, but added: “At least not right now.” Naijabet

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Real braced for tough Atletico sequel UCL final

As soon as the final whistle confirmed Real Madrid’s berth in the Champions League final against local rivals Atletico with a 1-0 aggregate victory over Manchester City on Wednesday, memories of 2014’s all-Spanish final came flooding back.

Sergio Ramos headed in a 93rd-minute equaliser in Lisbon to crush Atletico’s dreams of a first ever continental crown and put Real on their way to a 4-1 extra time victory that sealed ‘La Decima’, the 10th European Cup they had coveted for so long.

“It’s another final and it’s taken a lot to get there but we’ve proven we know how to win it and we’re going to try and do it again,” Ramos said, looking ahead to the May 28 showdown in Milan.

Having barely had time to digest their narrow win over Manuel Pellegrini’s side, Real’s euphoric fans gleefully recalled that late show in Lisbon, chanting: “Atletico, tell me how it felt to lose the final”.

Gareth Bale, who forced the Fernando own goal that decided Wednesday’s semifinal tie and who put Madrid 2-1 up against Atletico in Lisbon, offered a more cautious message.

“It’s great to be in the final again but there’s another game to go against a very difficult and stubborn Atletico Madrid team,” the Welshman said.

“We know it’s going to be another difficult game, it always is against them.” Naijabet.com

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Cazorla fit for Man City trip after a five-month injury layoff

Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla has returned to fitness after a five-month injury layoff, handing manager Arsene Wenger a late-season boost before Sunday’s away clash with Manchester City.

The 31-year-old Spain international played an hour for the club’s under-21s against Blackburn Rovers this week, and could return to first-team action for the first time since injuring his knee in December.

Arsenal are third in the Premier League, three points above City, and will guarantee themselves an 18th successive Champions League campaign if they win.

“I would like to help the first team at the weekend against Manchester City,” Cazorla told the club’s website. “(Wenger) has the decision, but I will try to play.” Naijabet

Cazorla’s absence has given midfielder Alex Iwobi an extended run in the first team, and the youngster has caught the eye with a series of sparkling displays.

Midfielder Jack Wilshere, who has made only one appearance this season after fracturing his left tibia, praised Wenger for the way he had nurtured Iwobi, who turned 20 two days ago.

“I think the boss has done really well with him because he brought him in, brought him out and then put him into the team,” Wilshere said, adding that Iwobi “has repaid him well”.

Leicester City players to be rewarded with £32,670 Mercedes B-Class

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Players of Leicester City will be rewarded with Mercedes cars worth £32,670 each after they beat the odds to win the 2015/2016 premier league title.

Leicester City football Club chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha will reward his underdog heroes with their own Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive for winning the premier league despite being tipped for relegation at the beginning of the season.

Each player will receive his own car valued at £32,670 which will cost  Thai Billionaire Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha about £1 million.

The players will also share £6.5m among themselves as title winners according to Premier League rules. Naija and Bet

Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who is worth £2billion has also provided free beer for fans at the King Power Stadium during match days this season and is also looking at other ways to reward his team.

Europa League : Liverpool vs Villarreal Preview

Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool FC will hope Anfield can inspire them once more as they look to retrieve a first-leg deficit in their Uefa Europa League semifinal against Villarreal CF.

A late goal in Spain altered the complexion of the tie, with Liverpool now needing a win at home to have any hope of eliminating outsiders Villarreal.

Adrián López’s added-time finish earned Villarreal a 1-0 win in the home leg, which was the sides’ first competitive meeting.

The teams played a pre-season friendly in 2008, drawing 0-0 at El Madrigal.

Liverpool’s 33 Uefa games against Spanish opposition have ended W13 D10 L10 (W4 D6 L5 at Anfield – W7 D4 L5 in Spain). Those matches include two final victories on neutral territory: 1-0 against Real Madrid CF in the 1981 European Champion Clubs’ Cup and 5-4 after extra time against Deportivo Alavés in the 2001 Uefa Cup.

Villarreal’s record in 14 Uefa fixtures against English clubs reads W4 D6 L4 (W3 D4 L1 at home – W1 D2 L3 in England). They were without a victory in their last ten encounters with Premier League opponents going into the first leg of this tie.

Liverpool were the only side to make it from the start of the group stage to matchday 12 unbeaten; however, following the first leg, it is Villarreal who are now 12 games without defeat. Naijabet.com

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Real beat City to reach Uefa Champion League final

Real Madrid reached their 14th European Cup final and crushed Manchester City’s hopes of a maiden title after Gareth Bale’s deflected effort secured a 1-0 victory in the second leg of their Champions League last four clash in Madrid on Wednesday.

Bale’s right-footed shot ricocheted off City midfielder Fernando on its way into the top corner to break the deadlock in the tie in 20th minute, with Madrid going on to dominate the encounter despite failing to add to their lead.

The 1-0 aggregate result, after last week’s goalless first leg stalemate, set up a mouthwatering final on May 28 between Real and their city neighbors Atletico Madrid, who they beat to lift their 10th European crown in 2014.

“The players deserve this,” said Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane, who has the chance to crown his first season as coach with club football’s most coveted prize.

“Everyone worked hard and that’s why we’re in the final. I’m delighted for what has happened. The final will be perfectly even, but now we’re going to enjoy this, it’s an important day.” Naijabet

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Remembering Rashidi Yekini Four years on,still a hero

Rashidi Yekini continues to remain a cult-hero in Nigeria four years after he passed on, as he still holds the record of being all-time top scorer in men’s internationals.

With 37 goals in 58 international appearances for Nigeria at senior level, the legend of Yekini remains a never-ending story.

Of course, Yekini’s story of an apprentice mechanic becoming a football superstar was well-etched despite being a late-bloomer in the beautiful game.

Former teammate, Sunday Oliseh, did eulogise Yekini as “one of Africa’s best” when the news broke of his sudden death four years ago.

“Rashidi Yekini is definitely one of the best African players and legends to ever walk this earth. Rashidi was full of pace, had a superb shot, could jump very high, was calm in front of goal and was a very loveable person once you got to know and understand him. We lost not only a brother, friend, human being, legend and compatriot, but we also lost a great opportunity to find out his unique secret of how to score goals easily like he did which only he knew how to,” Oliseh wrote on his blog.

World soccer governing body, Fifa, created a post on its official website titled: ‘Remembering Yekini.” It took time to describe the iconic image of the 1994 World Cup in the USA as “memorable.” Yekini became the first Nigerian to score at the Fifa World Cup and at the age of 30.

“FIFA.com looks back on his memorable goal and subsequent celebration. Yekini who played for several clubs in Spain, Greece, Portugal and Switzerland, could hardly believe he had scored and spontaneously grabbed the net, shaking it in celebration. Naijabet.com

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Guardiola views his three year at Bayern as a failure after another UCL exit

Pep Guardiola views his three-year reign at Bayern Munich as a failure having again failed to steer the Bavarians to the Champions League final.

But the Spaniard insisted after the Bavarian giants went out to Atletico Madrid on away goals that he has “given his life” to Bayern whom he will leave at the end of the season for Manchester City.

Bayern lost the semi-final first leg 1-0 in Spain, and went out on away goals despite beating Atletico 2-1 in return match in Munich on Tuesday.

Antoine Griezmann’s crucial goal for Atletico made the difference as the tie finished 2-2 on aggregate. Xabi Alonso and Robert Lewandowski netted for Bayern on a night when both teams missed penalties in Munich.

Bayern again exited the semi-finals in Europe to Spanish opponents after losing to Barcelona in 2015 and were also dumped out of the last four by Real Madrid in 2014.

Guardiola was asked if he viewed his time in Munich as a failure despite winning five trophies so far, including two German league titles. “Yes, in terms of what we have won,” he replied.

“It was my goal to win the Champions League final with Bayern after doing it with Barcelona (in 2009 and 2011).

“Perhaps we have helped the players, maybe it’s not enough, but it was the important thing for me. Naija and Bet

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I have rediscovers passion for football : Eden Hazard

Chelsea’s Belgium forward Eden Hazard said he had recovered his passion for the game after scoring a stunning equaliser to end Tottenham Hotspur’s Premier League title hopes on Monday.

The 25-year-old came on at halftime in the ill-tempered derby and showed a glimpse of the form that made him England’s Player of the Year last season when he curled a Diego Costa pass into the top corner to ensure Leicester City were champions.

Hazard, who played a key role in Chelsea’s title-winning campaign last term, has endured a disappointing season, with injuries and poor form restricting him to three league goals.

“Recently, I have rediscovered the pleasure to play. When you’re injured it’s hard to get that pleasure back. I played 45 minutes and I gave my maximum,” Hazard told Chelsea’s website (www.chelseafc.com).

“It’s been a complicated season for Chelsea and for me. It hasn’t been like last season but we have three matches left and we want to finish well by winning all three.”

The Belgian, who will be in action at Euro 2016 which starts next month, said the intense derby atmosphere against Spurs helped inspire him to produce his best display of the season. Naijabet

“I like matches like that when they’re very hard and there is so much rivalry between the two teams. It allows me to find my best form. It’s football at its best,” he added.

Chelsea are ninth on 48 points and visit Sunderland and Liverpool before finishing the season at home to champions Leicester, managed by their former coach Claudio Ranieri.

Uefa Champions League : Real Madrid vs Manchester City Preview

Real Madrid are bidding to reach their 14th European Cup final as they welcome a Manchester City side in their first semi-final with the tie all square at 0-0.

Real Madrid will be looking to make their wealth of European Cup semi-final experience tell as they welcome Manchester City to the Santiago Bernabéu for the second leg of their UEFA Champions League last-four tie.

There was nothing between the sides in the first leg at the City of Manchester Stadium on 26 April, the game ending goalless.

While this is a first semi-final in the competition for City, Madrid are in the last four for a record 27th time – they have won 13 and lost 13 of their previous semifinals.

Indeed, this is only City’s third European semi-final across Uefa’s club competitions, and a first since 1971; they beat FC Schalke 04 5-2 on aggregate in the 1969/70 European Cup Winners’ Cup semi-finals, and lost to Chelsea 2-0 over two legs at the same stage of the same competition the following season.

Madrid, meanwhile, are in their 32nd European semi-final; their record is W17 L14. Although they are in a sixth successive Champions League semifinal, they have won only once in that sequence – against FC Bayern Munich in 2013/14, when they went on to win a tenth title. Place you your bet on naijabet.com Continue reading “Uefa Champions League : Real Madrid vs Manchester City Preview”

Liverpool manager chases lost spark in Villarreal reunion

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has vowed that his team will rediscover their mojo in time for Thursday’s Europa League semifinal second leg at home to slick Spanish opponents Villarreal.

After a 1-0 first-leg defeat, Klopp saw a much-changed side beaten 3-1 by Swansea City on Sunday and goes into the biggest game of his seven-month tenure on the back of the first successive losses of his Anfield reign.

Including a 2-2 draw against Newcastle United, Liverpool have now gone three games without victory in all competitions, but Klopp is confident that they will rediscover their poise when the moment comes.

Reflecting on the defeat by Swansea, he told the Liverpool website: “We played like we played and I saw it for the whole 90 minutes and there was not a lot I enjoyed, to be honest.

“We have to think about it and we have to recover, which is very important, and we will play much, much better than we did on Sunday.

“We have to accept the result, which is what we do, and then we work and we will be better on Thursday.”Naija and Bet

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Atletico Madrid through to UCL final for the second time in three season

Atletico Madrid reached the Champions League final for the second time in three seasons on Tuesday, going through on away goals after a 2-1 defeat at Bayern Munich, in which both sides missed a penalty, with the tie finishing 2-2 on aggregate.

Atletico, who will face either city rivals Real Madrid, who beat them in the 2014 final, or Manchester City, who meet in the second semifinal on Wednesday, also spoiled Bayern’s treble chances after the Spaniards won the first leg 1-0 last week.

Bayern took the lead with a Xabi Alonso goal in the 31st minute but Atletico levelled through Antoine Griezmann’s seventh goal of the competition in the 54th. Robert Lewandowski set up a dramatic finale with his 74th-minute goal but it was not enough.

Thomas Mueller missed a first-half penalty for Bayern and Atletico’s Fernando Torres had an 85th-minute spot kick saved as Bayern suffered a third straight elimination by a Spanish team at this stage in their three seasons under Pep Guardiola.

“They were better, but we scored an away goal, which was important. We need to keep grounded and first of all think of the Liga before the final,” said Griezmann, whose side are level on points with leaders Barcelona in the Spanish title race. Naijabet.com

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Leicester City Premier League title win will be hard to repeat

Claudio Ranieri warned Leicester City fans, who were still in dreamland on Tuesday following their side’s “unbelievable” Premier League triumph, that a repeat next season could not happen.

The Foxes’ Italian manager, talking for the first time since Leicester’s victory was sealed on Monday evening when nearest rivals Tottenham Hotspur failed to beat Chelsea, said their target now as champions would be a top-10 position.

It was a typical response from Ranieri, who has spent all season dampening down the expectations of supporters only to finally oversee a triumph considered perhaps the most unlikely in the annals of English football.

Ranieri, back at the Leicester training ground and meeting up with his players for the first time since they were crowned champions, described their success as “unbelievable”.

He said it was the manner in which they had played “with their heart and soul” that had been the secret of their success.

Yet asked if Leicester could repeat the feat, which had been rated a 5 000-1 shot at the start of the season, in their next campaign”No. I think no, but of course we want to continue to build.

“When I came here, the project was to build a very good foundation and slowly, slowly grow up together and in three, four years to fight for the Europa League, then the Champions League. Naija and Bet

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Leicester are not under pressure sell stars – owners

Leicester City’s Thai owners vowed on Tuesday to resist any pressure to sell the much-coveted stars who have propelled them to an unlikely English Premier League victory.

Star striker Jamie Vardy, fleet-footed winger Riyad Mahrez and midfield enforcer N’Golo Kante have caught the eye with outstanding displays and would likely command massive transfer fees if sold.

But speaking to Thai television, club vice-chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha said the Midlands outfit was under no pressure to sell — and had in fact already contacted a number of potential new recruits.

“Leicester is not the team that will sell players — as I said on the first day… we want to create a foundation of the team. They have grown together,” Top, as he is better known.

“All players want to stay and want to see how far the team can go… everyone is happy.” Naijabet.com

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Uefa Champion League : Bayern Munich vs Atletico Madrid Preview

Bayern Munich are bidding to avoid losing in the Uefa Champions League semifinals to Spanish opposition for the third season running, although Atlético Madrid have recent form when it comes to German opposition and impressive away last-four performances.

Atlético also hold the upper hand in the tie, scoring the only goal of the first leg through Saúl Ñíguez’s fabulous early solo strike.

While Diego Simeone’s Atlético have reached the last four for the second time in three years, Bayern are appearing at this stage for the fifth year in a row.

This tie will prompt particularly fond memories for Bayern, who claimed the first of their five European Cups in 1974 with victory against Atlético after a replay – the only time that happened in a final.

Previous Meetings

Before the first leg, the teams had played only twice before, in that 1974 European Cup final – both sides’ first. Atlético were seconds away from taking the trophy at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels when Luis Aragonés gave them a 114th-minute lead, only for Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck to level six minutes later.

Two days later, the teams returned to the Heysel Stadium for what would be the only final replay in European Cup history, and this time Bayern ran out 4-0 winners thanks to two goals each from Uli Hoeness (28 82) and Gerd Müller (56 69). It was the first of what would be three successive final wins for Bayern. Naijabet.com

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Ranieri proud of champions Leicester, received congratulation from Messi and others

Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri hailed his players’ “determination” and “spirit” after their improbable Premier League title triumph was confirmed on Monday.

“I’m so proud,” Ranieri said, in comments published on the Leicester website. “I’m happy for my players, for the chairman, for the staff at Leicester City, all our fans and the Leicester community.”

The 5 000-1 outsiders, who narrowly escaped relegation last season, were confirmed as champions for the first time in their 132-year history after second-place Tottenham Hotspur could only draw 2-2 at Chelsea.

It was a personal triumph for 64-year-old Ranieri, who had never previously won a top-flight title and whose appointment last year met with derision in some quarters.

“I never expected this when I arrived,” the Italian added.

“I’m a pragmatic man. I just wanted to win match after match and help my players to improve week after week. Never did I think too much about where it would take us.

“The players have been fantastic. Their focus, their determination, their spirit has made this possible.

“Every game they fight for each other and I love to see this in my players. They deserve to be champions.”

Leicester will be presented with the Premier League trophy following their final home game of the season against Everton on Saturday. Naijabet