Zidane talk down of referees favouring Madrid

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said he was disappointed that he was only asked about the referee’s decisions after his side earned a 2-1 victory at Real Sociedad on Sunday to climb above Barcelona and top LaLiga.

The day before the game, Zidane had been forced to defend his team against a suggestion from Barca defender Gerard Pique that decisions were going Madrid’s way after their 3-0 win over Valencia, in which Rodrigo Moreno had an opening goal ruled out.

The French coach faced fresh questions about Madrid’s apparent fortune after three huge decisions went their way against Sociedad.

“It annoys me that at the end of the day people are only talking about the referees as if we did nothing out on the pitch,” Zidane told a virtual news conference.

“But we cannot control what people will say. We win matches on the pitch and that’s what we did today. It was a deserved victory.” Various games are available on site for today’s games

Sergio Ramos scored the opening goal just after the break with a penalty after a contentious foul on Vinicius Jr while Sociedad had an Adnan Januzaj strike ruled out for a positional offside against Mikel Merino.

Ozil ready to give his best to reclaim Arsenal starting spot

Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil must rediscover his best form in training to win back his place in the starting line-up, manager Mikel Arteta has said.

Ozil was a regular in Arteta’s line-up before the league was suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic but the German was left out of the squad altogether at a game at Manchester City on Wednesday where Arsenal were defeated 3-0.

Arteta had said that the decision was “tactical”.

“I’m the first one who wants Mesut at his best. I’ll put him on the pitch when I think he can give his best,” Arteta told reporters ahead of a league game at Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday. Play bet on today’s games on NaijaBet

“A lot has happened to him in the last few weeks and I have to respect the timing of every player. Sometimes they need a bit of time.” Start Playing bet on NaijaBet.com

Arteta said that he had no problems with Ozil after a “clear and honest” talk following his omission from the team.

Juventus targets first trophy under Sarri against Napoli

Maurizio Sarri takes on his former club Napoli in Wednesday’s Italian Cup final looking for his first trophy as Juventus coach days before Serie A resumes after a three-month shutdown.

Juventus are chasing a record-extending 14th Italian Cup against five-time winners Napoli in Rome, after the Turin giants’ four-year cup-winning streak was ended last season.

Sarri took over at Juventus one year ago after a season with Chelsea during which the Premier League side won the Europa League.

Before that the 61-year-old spent three seasons with Napoli, battling Juventus for the title, before falling out with club owner Aurelio De Laurentiis.

Sarri claimed he only found out he had been sacked and replaced by Carlo Ancelotti when he switched on the television. Start forecasting your today’s games Now on NaijaBet

De Laurentiis blasted his former coach on Monday.

“He (Sarri) betrayed me, he left with the vulgar excuse of money, forced me to change, and still had a two-year contract,” De Laurentiis said.

Tougher tests in La Liga as Real and Barca in race for title

Real Madrid and Barcelona will have tougher tests to come but emphatic victories on their return to action at the weekend suggest there may not be much margin for error in what is left of LaLiga’s title race.

Leaders Barca hammered Real Mallorca 4-0 on Saturday before second-placed Madrid swept Eibar aside 3-1 a day later, having led 3-0 at the end of the first half, only to ease off in the second.

Both performances erased fears that had arisen during the three-month suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic, which saw La Liga go without competitive matches for 93 days.

Madrid looked comfortable in their new home at the Alfredo di Stefano Stadium – part of their training complex – while Lionel Messi looked fit, with no sign of the tightness in his thigh that was bothering him earlier this month.

Two assists, a goal and 90 minutes played suggested Barcelona’s captain is in good shape. Start forecasting your laliga games now

“There were many uncertainties,” said coach Quique Setien. “Nobody was clear what was going to happen. We had some bad touches but we will improve with more contact with the ball over time.

Henderson can become England’s No. 1 keeper – Solskjaer

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has tipped English goalkeeper Dean Henderson to become first choice for club and country after impressing during his loan spell at Sheffield United.

Academy product Henderson helped Sheffield win promotion from the Championship last season and has kept 10 clean sheets for them in the Premier League in the current campaign, second only to Burnley’s Nick Pope.

With David de Gea currently the first choice in Manchester, Solskjaer said no decision had been made where the 23-year-old Henderson would play next season.

“Dean has made some great choices over the years and has developed fantastically,” Solskjaer said ahead of the Premier League’s restart on Wednesday following a coronavirus shutdown.

Liverpool thrash Blackburn in warm-up ahead of EPL returns

Liverpool cruised to a 6-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers in a friendly behind closed doors at Anfield on Thursday as Juergen Klopp’s side stepped up their preparations for the Premier League restart next week.

First-team regulars Sadio Mane, Naby Keita and Joel Matip got their names on the scoresheet along with Takumi Minamino and youngsters Ki-Jana Hoever and Leighton Clarkson in a convincing win over the Championship side.

Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah and left back Andy Robertson were left out of the squad as a precaution but Klopp was satisfied with how his players responded.

“We didn’t have enough first-team players,” Klopp told the club’s website. “So that’s why we decided to let three players go for 60 minutes.

“That’s OK. It looked really good, pretty much from the beginning. Start forecasting your weekend games now on NaijaBet

“In the first game, we don’t have to be football-wise on our highest level, but we need to show that we are ready for competition, that we are ready to defend, that we are ready to find solutions.”

Juve to face Milan as Italian season is about to restart

The Italian season resumes after a three-month suspension due to the Covid-19 pandemic on Friday when Juventus, still chasing a possible league, cup and Champions League treble, host AC Milan in the return leg of their Coppa Italia semifinal.

The match, to be played behind closed doors at the Allianz stadium, should have been played on March 4 but was postponed by the Turin city government at 24 hours’ notice as the virus began to spread. The season was suspended altogether one week later.

Juventus are favourites to reach next Wednesday’s final after a 1-1 draw in the first leg on February 13 but coach Maurizio Sarri said that his side were venturing into the unknown after such a long layoff.

“None of the staff at this moment knows where the preparation is because we come off an abnormal interruption,” he said, adding that the stoppage was completely different to the usual close season.

“This is a unique situation, which does not give us any certainty, also because we have obviously not played friendlies. I am satisfied with what I have seen during these days in training, but the response during a game will be different.” Start forecasting your games Now on NaijaBet

Sarri feared that the risk of injury would be “very high” as the players would have lost muscular strength while their motivation was also an unknown.

LaLiga returns with Seville derby, Boosted odds on NaijaBet

Sevilla and Real Betis is the game in Spain most defined by its fans and on Thursday it will be a first glimpse of LaLiga without them as the season resumes behind closed doors after three months away due to the coronavirus.

Fireworks, banners, plumes of smoke and crowds, delirious at the sight of a team bus, let alone a goal, the Seville derby is a fixture renowned for its intensity and cherished by its supporters.

There will be 110 games held in 39 days, with clubs playing every three days for five and a half weeks, but none for the rest of the season will be as much of a stark reminder of what is missing.

“We can’t wait to return to competing,” said Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui on Wednesday.

“In circumstances that three months ago were unimaginable but today it is the reality and we have to adapt. Place bet on today’s Events on NaijaBet

“The derby is going to be played and we all know what it means. We have to respond.”

Liverpool ready for Merseyside derby at Goodison Park

The Merseyside derby between Everton and Liverpool in the Premier League this month will be held behind closed-doors at Everton’s Goodison Park stadium, despite concerns the venue may attract supporters.

Media reports had suggested that the fixture on Sunday June 21 could be held at a neutral venue if authorities felt there was a risk of lockdown restrictions on public gatherings being broken.

Liverpool could win the title with a victory at Goodison Park if Manchester City lose to Arsenal on Wednesday, June 17th. Place bet on Live Events on 24/7

“The decision to play the game at the Club’s home stadium was made today by the local Ground Safety Advisory Group following positive discussions between the Club, Liverpool City Council, Merseyside Police, The Everton Fans’ Forum, The Blue Union, Liverpool Football Club and Spirit of Shankly,” Everton said in a statement on their website.

After 10 years, South Africa still counting 2010 World Cup gain

It has been 10 years since it was “time for Africa” and the 2010 Fifa World Cup™ remains a watershed of African excellence and achievement the continent continues to be proud of.

The tournament, held from 11 June to 11 July 2010, attracted a total of 3 178, 856 spectators to the the 64 games, at 10 stadiums in nine South African host cities.

It was shown in every single country and territory on Earth, including Antarctica and the Arctic Circle, with the final alone between Spain and Netherlands watched by over 900 million people.

The tournament was watched by a cumulative 3.2 billion people globally, generating record-breaking viewing figures in many TV markets around the world, and enhancing South Africa’s status as a top tourism market in an abundance of new territories.

Waka Waka, the official 2010 Fifa World Cup song by Colombian superstar Shakira and South Africa’s Freshlyground, has now been watched over 2.5 billion times on YouTube, and continues to vividly keep the memories of the tournament alive globally. More games are available on site today on NaijaBet

Failure on an epic scale was predicted by global media for many years leading up to the tournament, but a flawless first African Fifa World Cup confounded the critics and showcased a new side of the continent to the globe.

Kante return to contact training as EPL restart next week

Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante has returned to contact training ahead of the Premier League’s comeback next week, the Blues confirmed on Tuesday.

The French World Cup-winner had been allowed to continue training at home when his teammates returned to training last month due to fears over coronavirus.

“N’Golo Kante was back with the main group today at Cobham as training continues to ramp up ahead of the Premier League restart next week,” Chelsea said in a statement.

In the latest round of testing on Premier League players and staff there were zero positive cases from 1 195 tests.

Black and ethnic minorities are at greater risk of serious illness if they contract the virus, according to the Office for National Statistics. Place bet on Live Events 24/7 on NaijaBet

Kante experienced a health scare when he collapsed at Chelsea’s training ground two years ago.

Bayern Munich target Winning double again

Bayern Munich can take another step towards repeating last season’s German league and cup double on Wednesday, with midfielder Leon Goretzka a player transformed since the coronavirus shutdown.

Bayern host Eintracht Frankfurt behind closed doors in the semifinals of the German Cup, three days before they could conceivably wrap up an eight successive Bundesliga title.

Hansi Flick’s side have won all five games since the league resumed last month following the coronavirus suspension, including a 5-2 rout of Wednesday’s opponents Frankfurt.

Germany international Goretzka has been at the heart of Bayern’s impressive displays, notching two goals and three assists since the restart.

“I feel very good at the moment,” said Goretzka, who set up a goal for Kingsley Coman and then scored himself in Saturday’s 4-2 win at Bayer Leverkusen. Place bet on virtual games 24/7 on NaijaBet

The 25-year-old said he made the most of the unscheduled break to spend more time in the gym, giving Bayern extra muscle in midfield alongside the likes of Joshua Kimmich and Thiago Alcantara.

European ban: City face critical appeal against two-season ban

Manchester City’s appeal against a two-year ban from European competition will be heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) from Monday in a case of wide-reaching repercussions.

City are accused of overstating sponsorship revenue to hide that they had not complied with Uefa’s financial fair play (FFP) rules between 2012 and 2016 and were also handed a 30 million euro fine.

Uefa’s case was prompted when German magazine Der Spiegel published a series of leaked emails in 2018 that purported to show how City manufactured extra sponsorship revenue from a series of companies with connections to the club’s Abu Dhabi-based owner Sheikh Mansour.

Under the Sheikh’s ownership, City’s fortunes have been transformed from perennially living in the shadow of local rivals Manchester United to winning four Premier League titles in the past eight years.

However, billions of investment in players and managers has not yet been able to deliver the club’s first-ever Champions League title. Start forecasting your Laliga games Now

City are still involved in this season’s competition and will be allowed to compete should the 2019-20 edition of Champions League return in August no matter the outcome of the appeal.

Messi ready to face Mallorca as Laliga returns- Setien

Lionel Messi will be fit to play in Barcelona’s first game back against Real Mallorca, despite some “minor tightness” in his right thigh, coach Quique Setien said on Sunday.

Messi trained alone on Saturday at Camp Nou after sitting out the team’s previous two sessions, raising doubts over his involvement in the trip to Mallorca on Saturday.

But when asked whether Messi would be able to play next weekend, Setien told Movistar on Sunday: “Messi is not the only one that has not trained and felt some discomfort.

“It’s what has happened to everyone or practically everyone since they have been back.

“It is some minor tightness and we have it under control. He is doing perfectly and will not have any problem.” Play bet on Live Events 24/7 on NaijaBet

Barcelona said on Friday that Messi should return to full training “in a few days’ time”, but his absence is a concern given the squad have only 10 days to train together before LaLiga resumes on Thursday.

Passion’ for football restored as EPL nears return – Klopp’s

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp cannot wait for English football’s return after a three-month layoff due to the coronavirus pandemic and promised to celebrate the Premier League title in style when it is safe to do so.

Liverpool are just two wins away from securing their first league title in 30 years.

The Reds held a commanding 25-point lead over Manchester City when play was halted in March.

Klopp’s men could even clinch the title with victory in their first game back if City lose to Arsenal in one of two games scheduled to take place on June 17, before the first full round of matches the following weekend.

“I have missed it so much it’s unbelievable,” Klopp said.

“I know it’s not the most important thing in life but it is my passion. I hope the people are looking forward to it because we are.”

After such a long wait to win the Premier League, Liverpool face the anti-climax of doing so in front of empty stands with all remaining 92 league games to be played behind closed doors. Place bet on Live Events 24/7 on NaijaBet

A year ago to the day, tens of thousands of fans poured onto the streets around Liverpool to celebrate a sixth European Cup win.

And Klopp insisted there will be a parade to celebrate the title, even if it is many months after the league is won.

La Liga fixtures release as season set re-start

The season kick backs into action with a local derby between Sevilla and Real Betis on June 11 and there will be fixtures for the following seven days, with Barca hosting Leganes on June 16 and Real playing at home to Valencia on June 18.

As in the Bundesliga, which earlier in May became the first major European league to start up again after being disrupted by the pandemic, all La Liga matches until the end of the season will take place without spectators.

Real Madrid will play their remaining six home games at the 6,000-capacity Estadio Alfredo di Stefano based at their training ground, a league source confirmed, as they are currently renovating their Santiago Bernabeu home.

Levante will also be making adjustments to their Ciutat de Valencia stadium when the season starts up again and confirmed last week they will play their final home games in the town of La Nucia, more than 150 kilometres away from their usual ground.

Barca were leading Real by two points after 27 matches when the campaign was postponed back in March due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. Place bet on Live Matches 24/7 on NaijaBet

Organisers have only released scheduling details for the first two rounds of fixtures although La Liga chief Javier Tebas confirmed that there will be matches every day of the week until the season is completed on July 19.