Champions League Match Preview: Atletico Madrid vs Juventus

Atletico Madrid bounced back from successive defeats with a narrow 1-0 win over Rayo Vallecano at the weekend. They have kept clean sheets in their last three Champions League matches.

Cristiano Ronaldo has fond memories of knocking out Atletico Madrid in the Champions League. Juventus signed the 34-year-old for these occasions and there will be pressure on him to guide the Old Lady through to the next round.

Team News

Atletico Madrid- Diego Costa returned from injury at the weekend after two months out but Diego Simeone has suggested he is not fit enough to start.

Simeone has confirmed Koke is back from injury but faces competition from Thomas Lemar for a place in the starting XI.

Having confirmed one of Koke or Thomas Lemar will start, that suggests one of Thomas Partey, Saul Niguez or Rodrigo will have to settle for a place on the bench. Place bet on Live Event 24/7 on NaijaBet

Jose Gimenez and Stevan Savic compete for a spot at centre-back, while Alvaro Morata should start against former club Juventus.

Filipe Luis, Partey, Costa and Gimenez are one booking away from missing the return leg. Continue reading “Champions League Match Preview: Atletico Madrid vs Juventus”

Egypt select six venues for African Nations Cup

Egypt has chosen six venues across five cities to host this year’s African Nations Cup finals, local media reported, including the Port Said Stadium where 72 supporters died in the country’s worst violence at a soccer venue in 2012.

After a board meeting, the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) confirmed that Cairo Stadium, Borg el Arab Stadium in Alexandria and Ismailia stadium are among the venues chosen for the tournament.

Other venues are the army-owned June 30 Stadium, on the outskirts of Cairo, and the Suez stadium.

The 74 000-seater Cairo Stadium hosted the finals of previous Nations Cup tournaments in 1986 and 2006.

The June 30 stadium replaces Al Salam, another venue on Cairo’s outskirts which hosts the domestic and African Champions League matches of the country’s most popular club, Al Ahly. Naija and Bet

The Port Said Stadium was closed for five years after the 2012 disaster that followed a league match between Al Masry and Al Ahly. Continue reading “Egypt select six venues for African Nations Cup”

Champions League Match Preview: Schalke 04 vs Manchester City

Schalke have only won four of their last 13 matches in all competitions and face a tough task against Manchester City over two legs.

City have won their last four matches and 12 of their last 13. Pep Guardiola is unbeaten in six matches against Schalke as a manager.

Team News

Schalke 04- Schalke signed 18-year-old Rabbi Matondo from Manchester City in January and he will have something to prove if he gets the chance over two legs.

Former City defender Matija Nastasic will line up against his former club on Wednesday, while Sebastian Rudy, who was linked with a move to City in January, will also start.

Amine Harit and Weston McKennie are in competition for a starting berth behind the lone striker. Various betting options are available on site for today’s Champions League games

Suat Serdar was sent off at the weekend but he is available if required on Wednesday. Omar Mascarell is suspended for the home side, however. Continue reading “Champions League Match Preview: Schalke 04 vs Manchester City”

Chelsea must stay calm to recapture this season – Pedro

Chelsea’s season hangs in the balance after Monday’s FA Cup exit but they must stay calm and recapture their best form in the next two games to turn things around, winger Pedro has said.

The FA Cup holders were beaten 2-0 by Manchester United in the fifth round, piling the pressure on under-fire manager Maurizio Sarri.

With a Europa League clash against Malmo and the League Cup final against Manchester City up next, there is no time to dwell on the disappointment, the Spaniard said.

“The most important thing now is to stay calm, train really hard and recover our best football and our best feeling, because if not we are in trouble,” Pedro told Chelsea’s website. Bet Now on NaijaBet

“There is an important game in the Europa League for us and, after, the final against City.” Continue reading “Chelsea must stay calm to recapture this season – Pedro”

Champions League Match Preview: Liverpool vs Bayern Munich

Liverpool have had over a week to prepare for the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Bayern Munich. The Reds have only lost once at home all season in all competitions and that was back in September.

Bayern Munich struggled to overcome Augsburg on Friday night, twice coming from behind, but Niko Kovac admitted his side made the mistake of looking ahead to their match with Liverpool instead of focusing on Augsburg.

Jurgen Klopp has lost more matches against Bayern (16) than any other team in his managerial career but is arguably getting them at their most vulnerable now. Bayern have conceded eight goals in four away matches in 2019.

Team News

Liverpool- Virgil van Dijk is suspended for the first leg of Liverpool’s last-16 tie with Bayern Munich and that is a huge blow for Liverpool. Fabinho will partner Joel Matip at the back if Dejan Lovren fails to recover from injury in time.

Liverpool have had over a week to prepare for this match, which would have benefitted Trent Alexander-Arnold on his comeback trail. Bet Now

James Milner will start at right-back if Alexander-Arnold is not deemed fit enough for the home side. Otherwise the veteran will compete with Naby Keita for a place in midfield. Continue reading “Champions League Match Preview: Liverpool vs Bayern Munich”

Halep reclaimed to second spot despite Doha final defeat

Simona Halep reclaimed second place in the WTA rankings on Monday after her run to the Qatar Open final, while Doha champion Elise Mertens climbed back into the top 20.

Halep moved up a spot as Australian Open runner-up Petra Kvitova dropped two places to fourth, with Sloane Stephens matching her career-best of third despite not playing since losing in the last 16 in Melbourne.

Naomi Osaka remains top of the standings, while Serena Williams returned to the top 10 for the first time since July 2017.

Mertens rose to 16th after the Belgian rallied from a set down to beat Halep 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 on Sunday to claim the biggest title of her career.

WTA TOP 20

1. Naomi Osaka (JPN) 6 970 pts

2. Simona Halep (ROU) 5 537 (+1) Continue reading “Halep reclaimed to second spot despite Doha final defeat”

Champions League Match Preview: Lyon vs Barcelona

Lyon have only lost one of their last nine matches. They are underdogs in this tie but should not be overlooked. They have already beaten Paris Saint-Germain this year and were unbeaten against Manchester City in the group stages of the Champions League.

Barcelona are unbeaten in their last six but have drawn three of their last four in all competitions. They have struggled to score goals in recent matches, failing to net more than once in each of their last three outings. That will be a concern for Ernesto Valverde.

Lyon have struggled to keep clean sheets at home, which bodes well for the visitors. Everything points towards an entertaining match, though the absence of Nabil Fekir is a blow for the home side.

Team News

Lyon- Lyon star Nabil Fekir is suspended for the first leg and that is a huge blow for the French side.

Jason Denayer and Tanguy NDombele, who both would normally start for Lyon, could also be missing for the home team. Various betting options are available on site for today games

Maxwel Cornet and Bertrand Traore are in competition for a starting spot on the right wing against Barcelona.

Martin Terrier also impressed against Guingamp on Friday night and will push Memphis Depay for a spot in attack. Continue reading “Champions League Match Preview: Lyon vs Barcelona”

Under-fire Sarri not worried about being sack

Maurizio Sarri insists he isn’t worried about being sacked as Chelsea manager despite his troubled side’s lacklustre FA Cup surrender against Manchester United.

Sarri faces a fight to save his job after FA Cup holders Chelsea crashed to a 2-0 fifth round defeat at Stamford Bridge on Monday.

Ander Herrera headed United into the lead from Paul Pogba’s cross in the 31st minute.

France star Pogba doubled United’s advantage on the stroke of halftime when he met Marcus Rashford’s cross with a diving header.

Sarri endured chants of “you don’t know what you’re doing” and “you’re getting sacked in the morning” as furious Chelsea fans showed their frustration at the club’s fifth defeat in their last 10 games. Bet Now on NaijaBet

Chelsea’s stars, publicly criticised by their manager on several occasions this term, hardly looked to be battling to keep the Italian as they failed to muster a shot on target after the 11th minute. Continue reading “Under-fire Sarri not worried about being sack”

FA CUP Match Preview: Chelsea vs Manchester United

Chelsea bounced back from their 6-0 defeat to Manchester City with a less-than convincing 2-1 win over Malmo on Thursday.

Paris Saint-Germain dealt Ole Gunnar Solskjaer his first defeat as Manchester United manager in midweek and now the Red Devils need a response after a lame performance.

This is potentially be a huge match for both managers. Sarri is still under pressure, while a successive defeat for Solskjaer would seriously dent his ambitions of getting the job on a full-time basis.

United have not won at Stamford Bridge since 2012 and have generally struggled away to Chelsea since then.

Team News

Chelsea– Ruben Loftus-Cheek missed Thursday’s trip to Malmo due to a back injury and he is a doubt here. Bet Now 

Maurizio Sarri is expected to go with a near full strength team on Monday night, meaning Callum Hudson-Odoi will have to settle for a place on the bench.

Continue reading “FA CUP Match Preview: Chelsea vs Manchester United”

I like to learn all the time, France might be my next- Mourinho

Jose Mourinho said he could see himself coaching in France as he attended Sunday’s 0-0 draw between Lille and Montpellier to reportedly cast an eye over Ivorian star Nicolas Pepe.

Mourinho was sacked by Manchester United in December in a move that cost the Premier League club £19.6 million ($25 million) in severance pay for the Portuguese boss and members of his staff.

He has since taken on a punditry role with beIN Sports, and was pictured sitting alongside Lille sporting advisor Luis Campos at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy on Sunday.

“I can imagine (coaching) in France one day,” Mourinho said. “I’m a man who’s worked in four different countries, who likes that, who likes to know other cultures.” Bet Now

“I like to learn all the time, to work in a different league would be a fantastic experience. (At the moment) I’m calm, I’m trying to enjoy life with family and friends and calmly working to hopefully find another opportunity in football.” Continue reading “I like to learn all the time, France might be my next- Mourinho”

Mbappe score again as PSG stay 12 points clear in France

Kylian Mbappe’s excellent volley secured Paris Saint-Germain a hard-fought 1-0 win at Saint-Etienne on Sunday as the runaway Ligue 1 leaders moved 12 points clear at the summit.

The 20-year-old Mbappe fired home his league-leading 19th goal of the campaign with 17 minutes remaining.

With a second straight French title all but secured, Thomas Tuchel’s men, who also have two games in hand on second-placed Lille, now have their eyes on breaking their own record tally of 96 points set in 2015-16.

Tuchel rested midfielder Marco Verratti after his excursions in the midweek Champions League victory at Manchester United, with Leandro Paredes handed his first league start for the club.

PSG fashioned their first clear-cut chance in the 18th minute, as Julian Draxler turned and fired over the crossbar after a fine exchange of passes with Dani Alves. Various betting options are available on Site, Bet Now on NaijaBet

Mbappe saw a shot well saved by home goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier in an underwhelming first half. Continue reading “Mbappe score again as PSG stay 12 points clear in France”

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”