Luis Suarez scored twice on Wednesday as Barcelona inflicted another defeat on Real Madrid to move within touching distance of winning a record fifth consecutive Copa del Rey.
Madrid were the better side for at least half of a wild Clasico at the Santiago Bernabeu but three goals conceded in 28 chaotic, second-half minutes sent Barca through to the final with a 3-0 victory, 4-1 on aggregate.
Suarez would have had a hat-trick had Raphael Varane not beaten him on the line to Ousmane Dembele’s cross, Varane’s own-goal coming between the Uruguayan’s smart finish and a mischeivously chipped penalty. He now has 11 goals in 13 games against Madrid.
“We have other players apart from Leo Messi that can score goals,” Barca coach Ernesto Valverde said. “Luis’ numbers are incredible, historic for Barca. We know he is always there.”
By then, Barca were coasting and after thrashing Madrid 5-1 at the Camp Nou in October, they will return for Saturday’s La Liga game boasting an accumulative score of 9-2 from the clubs’ three meetings this season. Bet Now on NaijaBet
But this was not the humiliation of four months ago and if the result can be put to one side, Santiago Solari might take heart from the handful of golden opportunities his team wasted before their opponents began their spree. Continue reading “Suarez shine as Barcelona sink Madrid in CopaDelRey”
Maurizio Sarri insists Kepa Arrizabalaga is still Chelsea’s first choice goalkeeper despite dropping the rebellious Spaniard for Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Tottenham.
Sarri axed Kepa following his star’s astonishing mutiny in the League Cup final against Manchester City on Sunday when he refused to be substituted after suffering an extra-time injury at Wembley.
With Argentine veteran Willy Caballero in goal while Kepa languished on the bench, Sarri’s side recorded a vital Premier League victory against their London rivals at Stamford Bridge.
Kepa was fined one week’s wages by Chelsea for his behaviour, but Sarri appeared keen to draw a line under the damaging row when he faced the media after the Tottenham game.
Asked if Kepa was still his No 1, Sarri said: “Of course. I think it was the right decision. Kepa made a big mistake, he paid with the club and then he had to pay with the team. Place bet on Live Matches 24/7 on NaijaBet
“Caballero is a good goalkeeper with great experience and he’s a great man for us, he’s very confident on the pitch and in the dressing room. Continue reading “Axed Kepa will remain Chelsea’s first choice goalkeeper – Sarri”
Chelsea lost Sunday’s Carabao Cup final and there are fresh questions about Maurizio Sarri’s future at the club. Chelsea played well but the performance was marred by an explosive exchange between Maurizio Sarri and first-choice goalkeeper Kepa.
Tottenham missed the opportunity to close the gap on the Premier League’s top two after losing 2-1 away to Burnley on Saturday. Mauricio Pochettino’s side have only won one of their last six matches at Stamford Bridge in all competitions.
Chelsea are not in great shape heading into Wednesday’s London derby. This is a testing week for Sarri after seeing his authority undermined by Kepa on Sunday. He will be desperate to get three points in midweek and stay in touch with Manchester United and Arsenal in the race to finish fourth.
Chelsea- Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri will surely make changes from the side that lost on penalties to Manchester City in the Carabao Cup on Sunday.
Kepa Arrizabalaga’s place in the team is uncertain. The Chelsea No.1 had a blazing row with Sarri at the end of extra-time after refusing to be substituted. Cesar Azpilicueta also seemed to engage in a war of words with the Chelsea manager. Bet Now on NaijaBet
Gonzalo Higuain was surprisingly benched against City but will return to the fold in Wednesday’s London derby. Callum Hudson-Odoi may have to settle for a place on the bench once again. Continue reading “Premier League Match Preview: Chelsea vs Tottenham”
Real Madrid got back to winning ways last time out against Levante, after a surprising 2-1 defeat against struggling Girona, and should be in better spirits heading into a second leg where they will be confident of getting a result at home.
The first leg between these two sides ended 1-1 at Camp Nou, as an early goal from Lucas Vazquez was cancelled out in the second half by Malcom. Lionel Messi was not deemed fit to start by Ernesto Valverde, however, and should have a greater say on Wednesday evening.
Lionel Messi struck with a hat-trick at the weekend to help Barcelona come from behind against Sevilla, but the Blaugrana have drawn four of their last six competitive games heading into midweek.
Real Madrid- Keylor Navas will rotate in between the sticks for the home side, as the designated Copa del Rey goalkeeper for Real Madrid’s cup campaign.
Santiago Solari went with Marcelo at left-back during the first leg at Camp Nou, but given the Brazilian’s poor performance Sergio Reguilon could be deployed instead. Place bet on Live Matches 24/7 on NaijaBet
Lucas Vazquez is expected to get a start on the right-hand side for the hosts, with Gareth Bale likely to get a chance to make an impact from the bench later on. Continue reading “Copa Del Rey Match Preview: Real Madrid vs Barcelona”
AC Milan held Lazio to a 0-0 draw in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semifinal in Rome on Tuesday as the home side wasted numerous chances.
The 2013 winners had plenty of opportunities to claim an advantage, including Ciro Immobile’s delicate lob in the second half, but Gennaro Gattuso’s side will return to the San Siro the happier of the teams.
“The regret is that we didn’t manage to score,” Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi said.
“We were only missing a goal. But the lads put in a great performance, were always very focused against Milan, who are the form team in Serie A right now.”
After a poor opening quarter of an hour as both teams failed to assert any control, the ball broke to Lucas Paqueta in the home side’s box.
Tiemoue Bakayoko’s deflected shot fell to Paqueta but his shot was weak in threatening Thomas Strakosha. Continue reading “Milan hold Lazio to dull draw in Coppa Italia semi”
Crystal Palace will be high on confidence after thrashing Leicester 4-1 on Saturday. The Eagles are now unbeaten in their last six matches in all competitions.
Manchester United are still unbeaten in the Premier League under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (10 matches) after Sunday’s 0-0 draw with Liverpool.
United were forced to use all three of their substitutions in the first half against Liverpool and will be delighted with their point earned. They did, however, fall out of the top four as a result.
Solskjaer has barely put a foot wrong as United interim manager but injuries are stacking up for the Red Devils and they play away to an in-form Palace side on Wednesday.
Crystal Palace- Mamadou Sakho was forced off with an injury in Crystal Palace’s 4-1 win over Leicester on Saturday and miss out in midweek.
With Martin Kelly also sidelined for the Eagles, Scott Dann is the frontrunner to partner James Tomkins at the heart of Palace’s back four. Naija and Bet
Aaron Wan-Bissaka is also a huge doubt ahead of Wednesday’s match and Roy Hodgson will be desperate to have the talented right-back available here.
Cheikhou Kouyate will hope to start in midweek but Hodgson may stick with the same front six as selected against Leicester. Continue reading “Premier League Match Preview: Crystal Palace vs Manchester United”
New Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers has promised his players there are “special things on the horizon” after watching them beat Brighton and Hove Albion 2-1 in the Premier League on Tuesday.
Rodgers’ appointment was confirmed an hour before kickoff, with the Northern Irishman replacing Claude Puel, who was sacked on Sunday after a seven-game winless run in all competitions.
The former Celtic boss was given a warm reception by Leicester’s fans as he took his seat in the King Power Stadium and watched on from the stands as Demarai Gray and Jamie Vardy both scored for the Foxes.
“He spoke to the lads in the dressing room. He was proud of them and liked the spirit. He promised them there are special things on the horizon,” interim Leicester manager Mike Stowell said. NaijaBet
“The atmosphere has lifted with a win and with the new manager. I’m sure he’ll bring a lot of good things and he’s got a lot of staff with him. It’s exciting times.” Continue reading “Leicester New Manager Rodgers predicts exciting times ahead”
Manchester City have won their last six competitive meetings with West Ham, scoring 24 goals in the process, so it will be up to former boss Manuel Pellegrini to stop the rot on Wednesday and try to cause an upset that would dent his old club’s title bid.
The visitors will certainly be buoyed by the fact that City had to come through 120 minutes at the weekend, picking up injuries to key players along the way, and Pep Guardiola has made it clear that the mounting absences are likely to have an effect on his side’s performances.
At home anything but a win for the champions would still be a shock but the Hammers have posed problems for the Citizens at the Etihad in recent seasons and could do so once more.
Manchester City- Pep Guardiola will no doubt rotate his squad after the Carabao Cup final went all the way to penalties and will be forced into at least two changes.
John Stones, Aymeric Laporte and Fernandinho were forced off with injuries, so defensively the Spaniard is short of options. Benjamin Mendy has trained for the last few days, however, and will make the squad. Various Betting Options are available on NaijaBet for today’s games
The coach will look to rotate his players further forward, though Gabriel Jesus is also still recovering from injury and may not be ready to return to the side alongside the likes of Riyad Mahrez and Leroy Sane. Continue reading “Premier League Match Preview: Manchester City vs West Ham”
Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku must both take their opportunity to impress as an injury crisis cuts through Manchester United’s squad, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says.
Both players have struggled for form for much of the season, with Sanchez having started just one Premier League match in 2019, and Lukaku having gone 10 matches without scoring.
The two forwards were heralded as major signings when they arrived at Old Trafford, but neither would now be considered an automatic starter.
However, United’s squad is stretched to the limit as they prepare for Wednesday’s Premier League trip to Crystal Palace, with 10 players either unavailable or doubtful because of injury.
That list includes four frontline forwards, Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford and Juan Mata. Bet Now on NaijaBet
Lingard and Mata both had to be substituted during the first half of Sunday’s 0-0 draw at home to Liverpool, while Rashford played to the finish despite an ankle injury caused by Jordan Henderson’s challenge early on.
France forward Martial missed the game with a groin problem. Continue reading “United Injuries blow open way for Sanchez, Lukaku to shine”
Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga has been fined a week’s wages by the club after defying manager Maurizio Sarri and refusing to be substituted during the League Cup final on Sunday.
“Although there was a misunderstanding, on reflection, I made a big mistake with how I handled the situation,” Kepa said in a statement on Chelsea’s website which announced the fine.
The club simultaneously published a statement from Sarri in which the manager said the pair had spoken following the row, which occurred in extra time of the match which Manchester City won on penalties.
“He has apologised to me, his teammates and the club,” said Sarri.
“It is up to the club if they want to discipline him according to the club rules, but for me this matter is now closed.” Place bet on Live Matches 24/7 on NaijaBet
Sarri, who reacted furiously when Kepa refused to be substituted after needing treatment in the closing stages, said the incident had been a “misunderstanding”. Continue reading “Chelsea’s fined Kepa for refusing to be substituted during Cup final”
Belgian international Eden Hazard has the talent and personality to succeed at Real Madrid if he chooses to leave Chelsea for the La Liga giants, his former manager Jose Mourinho has said.
Hazard, who will become a free agent in June 2020, said last year it was his dream to play for 13-times European champions Real, and British media have since reported that talks with Chelsea over a contract extension have been put on hold.
Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri said last month that Hazard was free to leave the Premier League club if the 28-year-old had his heart set on a move. Various betting options are available on site for today’s games on NaijaBet
“Does he have the talent to play for Real Madrid? He does,” former Real boss Mourinho, who managed Hazard at Chelsea from 2013 to 2015, said.
“Does he have the personality to put on a ‘super-heavy’ shirt and play in front of the fans at the Bernabeu? Yes, he has the personality. Continue reading “Hazard has the talent to succeed at Real Madrid – Mourinho”
Gary Neville has warned there will be “mutiny” among the Manchester United supporters if the club hierarchy do not appoint Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as the permanent manager at Old Trafford.
Solskjaer’s impact on a United side that was labouring under Jose Mourinho until last December has surpassed expectations, with the team unbeaten in 10 Premier League games and have also secured a place in the FA Cup quarterfinals.
“I don’t think you can give it to someone else, otherwise there would be mutiny,” former United defender Neville, who was Solskjaer’s teammate from 1996 to 2007, said.
“The fans were singing for him. I think it’s very close now – I can’t see the club going away from it.” Place bet on today’s games on NaijaBet
Injuries forced the Norwegian to make all three substitutions before halftime in Sunday’s 0-0 league draw with Liverpool but Old Trafford was in full voice throughout the 90 minutes, singing the name of their manager. Continue reading “Neville support Solskjaek to get United’s permanent job”
Pressure is part and parcel of playing for a team with title ambitions and Liverpool must embrace it as they pursue a first league crown in almost 30 years, forward Mohamed Salah has said.
Liverpool trail leaders Manchester City on goal difference though they have played a game less than the reigning champions. They will reclaim top spot if they avoid defeat at Manchester United on Sunday.
“I said in November that there is pressure and it will be there until the end of the season, because when you play for the Premier League you have to accept that there is pressure,” Salah said.
“When you go home you can take it with you, but it can help you to work harder and focus on your game. Start forecasting your weekend games Now
“At the end of the day you have a target in your mind, you have a dream, you want to win the Premier League. I even said that two years ago when I came – it is a dream to win the Premier League.” Continue reading “Salah backs Liverpool to embrace Premier League title pressure”
Chelsea are in the driving seat in this tie after winning the first leg 2-1 away from home. They were knocked out of the FA Cup by Manchester United on Monday and Maurizio Sarri cannot afford a shock defeat here.
Malmoe are unbeaten in their last six away matches but are not expected to get anything from Thursday’s trip to Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea- Chelsea only played on Monday and have the Carabao Cup final this weekend. Maurizio Sarri will surely make wholesale changes here.
Callum Hudson-Odoi has barely featured in recent months but it would be a huge shock if he did not get the nod on Thursday.
Olivier Giroud should also start at Stamford Bridge after leading the line last week.
Gary Cahill has been frozen out and is not expected to even make the squad here. Continue reading “Europa League Match Preview: Chelsea vs Malmoe FF”
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola insisted he had no problem with the use of VAR as his side came from 2-1 behind with a man down to beat Schalke in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday.
Schalke were awarded two first-half penalties, the first of which was given after a lengthy delay for VAR to be consulted for a handball by Nicolas Otamendi.
The Argentine centre-back was then sent off for a second booking after the break, but City fought back with late goals from Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling securing a vital first-leg lead.
“I think so, they are two penalties, I trust VAR,” said Guardiola. “I have arguments sometimes but not this time. They are both penalties.”
However, Guardiola warned his side will have to drastically improve if they are to win the competition for the first time after letting a Schalke side languishing in 14th in the Bundesliga back into the game despite Sergio Aguero’s early opener. Continue reading “Guardiola still has faith in VAR despite controversy against Schalke”
Arsenal are on the backfoot in their tie after losing 1-0 in the first leg. Unai Emery will now hope their failure to score an away goal does not haunt them.
BATE won the first leg but are still underdogs heading into Thursday’s match. They lost 3-1 away to Chelsea in the group stage
Arsenal- Alexandre Lacazette is suspended for Arsenal after being sent off in the first leg.
Unai Emery has confirmed Aaron Ramsey and Sokratis will be back in the squad. Bet Now on NaijaBet
Ainsley Maitland-Niles has missed training in the build-up to Thursday’s match through illness and remains a doubt. Continue reading “Europa League Match Preview: Arsenal vs BATE Borisov”
Cristiano Ronaldo was singled out by Atletico Madrid fans on Wednesday as Juventus lost 2-0 in the Champions League last 16 but the former Real Madrid forward was quick to point out his stellar record in the competition.
“I won five Champions Leagues and these guys zero,” Ronaldo told reporters after the game, holding up his hand in the shape of a ‘zero’ to drive home his point.
The Portuguese forward was jeered throughout the match at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium, where Atletico got late goals from Uruguayan defenders Jose Gimenez and Diego Godin to take a vital lead into the return leg on 12 March.
He responded to the taunts by holding up five fingers to indicate the number of times he had won the competition, four times with arch-rivals Real and once with Manchester United.
Atletico have reached the final of Europe’s elite club competition three times but never lifted the trophy. Don’t miss today’s Europa League Games, Various betting options are available on Site
They lost to Ronaldo’s Real Madrid in 2014 and 2016.
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.
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 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”
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.
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’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”
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.
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”
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”
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.
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”
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”