Lionel Messi pictures the Champions League ending with him hoisting the trophy and it began with him scoring a hat-trick on Tuesday as Barcelona put four goals past PSV Eindhoven.
An early kick-off at Camp Nou meant that before most of the tournament’s teams had even named their line-ups, Messi was up and running, his sumptuous free-kick from the edge of the area nestling in the top corner, exactly where it was intended.
Messi would have his second and third before the end, and a record eighth Champions League treble, but the game was up by then thanks to a superb strike from the excellent Ousmane Dembele.
Only when Barca were three ahead was Samuel Umtiti sent off for a second yellow card, meaning he will miss the trip to Wembley to face Tottenham next month. Even with 10 men, Messi completed his set for a 4-0 win.
Dembele’s goal was worthy of deciding any match but this was Messi’s night. After a miserable World Cup trying to retrieve the irretrievable Argentina, Barcelona’s now-captain proved his quality again to any doubters that are left.
Four goals already in La Liga, seven overall, neither age nor Cristiano Ronaldo’s exit from Spain appear to have taken the edge off. Continue reading “Messi scores hat-trick as Barcelona sinks PSV”
Tottenham Hotspur will be without five players for their Champions League opener at Inter Milan, with Hugo Lloris, Dele Alli and Moussa Sissoko injured plus Toby Alderweireld and Kieran Trippier left at home for technical reasons.
Goalkeeper and captain Lloris has a thigh injury while midfielders Alli and Sissoko have hamstring problems that saw them miss Saturday’s 2-1 Premier League home loss to Liverpool.
Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino told reporters on Monday that defenders Alderweireld and Trippier had also stayed behind in London and added that he was being forced to rest players early in the season because of the World Cup. Place bet on today’s UCL matches on NaijaBet
“We still have out Hugo Lloris, Dele Alli and Moussa Sissoko. They are in London,” Pochettino said. “Then a technical decision in London – Toby Alderweireld and Kieran Trippier.”
The absence of Alli and especially Lloris against Liverpool had an discernable impact, with errors from stand-in keeper Michel Vorm contributing to both Liverpool goals. Continue reading “Five Tottenham players out of UCL clash against Inter”
Gareth Bale says Real Madrid work together more as a collective unit without former talisman Cristiano Ronaldo, after the Portuguese forward moved to Juventus in the close season.
The Welsh winger is thriving in the absence of Ronaldo and Madrid have three wins from four La Liga matches.
Bale is Madrid’s key weapon as the Champions League starts again this week, with Real facing Roma on Wednesday at the Santiago Bernabeu.
“It’s maybe a bit more relaxed (without Ronaldo),” Bale told the Daily Mail. “I suppose there is more of a team, more working as one unit rather than one player.”
Madrid’s all-time top goalscorer Ronaldo was crucial to the club’s three consecutive Champions League wins under former coach Zinedine Zidane, although it was Bale who scored twice against Liverpool in the 3-1 triumph in May’s Kiev final. Continue reading “Real Madrid are more united without Ronaldo – Bale”
Fresh from scoring his first goals for Juventus, Cristiano Ronaldo makes an eagerly-awaited return to Spain when the Italian champions play Valencia on Wednesday in their opening Champions League group game.
All eyes will be on the Portuguese forward, the all-time top scorer in Europe’s elite competition and a five-time winner of the trophy, when he makes his first public appearance in Spain since ending a trophy-filled nine-year stay at Real in July.
Ronaldo’s last act for Real was lifting the Champions League trophy in Kiev after beating Liverpool 3-1 in the final before he dropped the bombshell in a pitch-side interview that he had decided to leave Madrid.
Ronaldo can expect a hostile reception in Valencia, who had to suffer 15 of his goals for Real and are returning to the Champions League for the first time in three years, hoping to improve on their miserable start to the La Liga campaign.
Ronaldo, who plundered a staggering 451 goals in 438 games for Real, made a slow start by his usual standards to life at Juventus by failing to score in his first three games but broke his duck with two strikes in Sunday’s 2-1 win over Sassuolo.
“I really wanted to score these first goals and I’m happy to have found the net,” Ronaldo said. Place bet on today’s games on NaijaBet
“Obviously, I was a little anxious with all the talk after my move from Real Madrid and not scoring and there was a lot of expectation on me, but I knew I was working hard and it was only a matter of time before I scored.” Continue reading “Ronaldo returns to Spain in UCL opener,Scored 400th League Goals”
Clubs in elite European competitions, including the Champions League and Europa League, will be allowed to make a fourth substitution if the match goes into extra time from next season, Uefa said on Thursday.
Fifa, the sport’s governing body, approved the use of a fourth substitute in extra time earlier this year and the rule has been a success at the ongoing World Cup in Russia.
According to Uefa’s amended laws, teams in the Champions League and Europa League will still be allowed three substitutes in normal time but can make another change when the match goes into extra time. Place Bet on Live matches 24/7 on NaijaBet
Teams that have made less than three substitutions in the standard 90 minutes can still make a total of four changes throughout extra time.
“A series of amendments to football’s Laws of the Game are coming into force immediately in various Uefa competitions,” European football’s governing body said in a statement.
Uefa also said that clubs in the Champions League and Europa League can list a maximum of seven substitutes on the match sheet, unless it’s for the final, where 12 substitutes can be listed. Continue reading “Uefa include fourth extra-time sub in Champions League”
Egypt’s Mohamed Salah is “confident” of being fit for the World Cup despite suffering a shoulder injury in Liverpool’s Champions League final defeat against Real Madrid.
Salah was forced off in tears during the first half of the 3-1 loss in Kiev on Saturday, sparking fears he wouldn’t make it to next month’s World Cup.
The 25-year-old sustained the problem when he was dragged awkwardly to the turf following a challenge with Sergio Ramos, leading some to claim the Madrid defender had deliberately tried to injure Liverpool’s star forward.
Speaking after the final, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp had described the injury as “serious” amid fears Salah had suffered a dislocated shoulder.
That would have ruled him out of Egypt’s first appearance in the World Cup since 1990. World cup group stage betting options are available on NaijaBet
Salah was pictured with his shoulder in a sling when he got off Liverpool’s plane at John Lennon Airport on Sunday. Continue reading “Salah ‘confident’ of being fit for World Cup”
Real Madrid are looking to land a third successive Champions League success when they face Liverpool in Kyiv in a repeat of 1981 final in Paris. That was the last time Real Madrid lost at this stage of the competition as they look to land a 13th European cup, but their form coming into this one has been a tad iffy.
Los Blancos have won only one of their last five competitive outings, yet have won five of their six away Champions League matches away from the Bernabeu.
Liverpool will face Real Madrid for the sixth time in the competition on Saturday and have won three of the last five meetings between the two. However, Real Madrid have won their last two Champions League meetings between the two sides, both of which came in the group stages in the 2014/15 season. Various betting options are available on NaijaBet
The Reds have also won only one of their last four competitive outings and have kept just two clean sheets in their last six outings.
Considering both sides’ fluid attack, yet indifferent defence, goals are expected in this one, yet Real Madrid’s final experience should see them over the line here.
Real Madrid- Zinedine Zidane has a fully fit and available squad for the Champions League final. Continue reading “UCL Final Match Preview : Real Madrid vs Liverpool”
Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas has revealed that he was more scared of walking the red carpet at the Cannes film festival than facing Liverpool’s lethal striker Mohamed Salah.
The Costa Rican – known as “God’s Goalkeeper” for his strong Christian faith – said he found showing a film about his life at the festival more stressful than a Champions League final.
“It’s a delicate question,” he told reporters at Cannes Sunday where he was screening “Man of Faith”, which recounts his rise from humble origins to become one of Real’s millionaire galacticos. Today’s game NaijaBet
“The Champions League final I know. The red carpet is new… it’s a bit stressful,” he admitted.
The 31-year-old was part of the all-conquering Madrid side that won the European title in 2016 and 2017, and will face the English team in two weeks’ time in this year’s decider.
A day after Madrid beat Celta Vigo 6-0 in La Liga, Navas flew to Cannes to promote the film, which also features Real’s legendary trainer Zinedine Zidane playing himself and a dressing room scene involving other members of the side. Continue reading “Navas more scared of red carpet than Mohamed Salah”
The Uefa Champions League final is between Real Madrid and Liverpool, not Cristiano Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah, according to Zinedine Zidane.
The Spanish giants lock horns with Jurgen Klopp’s men in Kyiv on May 26 as they target a third consecutive Champions League title.
However, the encounter will see current Ballon d’Or holder Ronaldo and Salah – tipped as a contender for prestigious accolade after scoring an impressive 43 goals across all competitions in his debut campaign with the Reds – go head to head. Place bet on today’s games on NaijaBet
But the Blancos manager stated that the match at the Olimpiyskiy National Sports Complex will be between the two finalists and not the two players.
“I don’t know if Mohamed Salah will be in contention for the Ballon d’Or, but he’s had a great season,” Zidane said.
“Salah is a phenomenal player who has had a standout season, but he is not my player. I’m only concerned with ending this season in the best way possible. Continue reading “UCL final is more than Ronaldo vs Salah”
AS Roma president James Pallotta has criticised the officiating after being knocked out by Liverpool in the Champions League semifinal and said it will be an “absolute joke” if video assistant referees (VAR) are not introduced in the competition.
Roma won the second leg 4-2 at Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday but it was Liverpool who advanced 7-6 on aggregate, and Pallotta believes a number of decisions went against his team.
“I know it is difficult to ref but it is really embarrassing that we lose on aggregate like that,” he told reporters. “You just can’t let stuff like this happen.” Place bet on today’s games on NaijaBet
Pallotta felt Roma should have been awarded two penalties in the second leg.
Edin Dzeko was brought down by Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius just after the interval but the striker was ruled offside. Continue reading “James Pallotta slams referee after Liverpool defeat”
Zinedine Zidane may have won two consecutive Champions League titles but he refuses to admit a third would brand this his very own era at Real Madrid.
Real stand on the brink of a trio of finals ahead of their second leg against Bayern Munich in the last four on Tuesday, when they will carry a 2-1 lead, and two away goals, to the Santiago Bernabeu.
It makes them favourites to go through and, for many, heavy favourites to win the tournament after already beating Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus in the knock-out stages.
For Zidane, a third European crown as coach is now in sight, which would put him level with Carlo Ancelotti and Bob Paisley in the pantheon of successful managers.
Only the three triumphs of Paisley, however, came at one club, Liverpool, and over a single era, in 1977, 1978 and 1981. Ancelotti’s treble stretched across 11 years, with two clubs, Real and AC Milan. Continue reading “Real and Zidane look to sink Bayern again”
Bayern Munich players were left shaking their heads after Real Madrid made the most of their few opportunities to earn a 2-1 comeback victory in the Champions League semifinal first leg on Wednesday.
The Bavarians, chasing a treble of titles, squandered a succession of good chances while the Spaniards were ruthless, scoring with Marcelo’s opportunist long-range shot and catching the Germans on the break through Marco Asensio after a bad mistake by Bayern’s Rafinha.
“I don’t know how we managed this,” Bayern’s Thomas Mueller told reporters. “We compensated well after the early injuries (to Arjen Robben and Jerome Boateng) and we were really good. Place bet today on today NaijaBet
“But we were too naive and we did not make the chances we got, we just did not do it tonight. How Real did this is their thing but we certainly played our part in that.”
Robben went off after eight minutes and Boateng followed soon afterwards with a suspected adductor muscle injury. Continue reading “We gave out the victory to Real Madrid – Mueller”
Mohamed Salah could be the man to finally break the Ronaldo-Messi duopoly at the top of world football after the Liverpool forward burnished his soaring reputation with a mesmerising Champions League performance against Roma.
Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi have locked down the Ballon d’Or award for a decade, winning five gongs apiece – for the past seven years they have occupied the top two slots.
But Salah is now second favourite with many bookmakers behind Ronaldo for this year’s award after scoring his 42nd and 43rd goals of the season in a thrilling 5-2 victory for Liverpool in the Champions League semifinal first leg. Bet Now on today’s game on NaijaBet
After his first strike against his former club on Tuesday, the man dubbed by fans as the “Egyptian King” stood motionless, hands raised in apology, as bedlam broke out on a night for the ages at Anfield.
Salah’s curling effort arrowed into the top corner with such accuracy his manager Jurgen Klopp labelled it “a genius strike”.
Soon after came the forward’s signature finish, a cute dink over advancing Roma goalkeeper Alisson for his 43rd goal in 47 games for Liverpool. Continue reading “Salah threatens Ronaldo & Messi rulerships”
AS Roma’s coach Eusebio Di Francesco said they lost their heads in the 5-2 defeat by Liverpool in their Champions League, semi-final, first-leg at Anfield on Tuesday but added that his team had to believe they could turn the tie around.
“We had an excellent start but then we lost our heads and the ability to stay in the game and so we got ourselves into difficulty,” he said.
“We really weren’t good for 50 minutes and we lost all the challenges and duels and couldn’t even make simple five yard passes,” said the Italian whose team had been 5-0 down. Bet Now NaijaBet
But two goals in the final nine minutes – an Edin Dzeko strike and a Diego Perotti penalty — gave Roma hope they could make an unlikely comeback at the Stadio Olimpico next Wednesday.
Di Francesco’s side had lost their quarter-final first leg 4-1 at Barcelona but advanced with a 3-0 win at home where they have not conceded a goal in this season’s Champions League. Continue reading “We have to believe,in football everything is possible – Di Francesco”
Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes will decide at the last minute if full back David Alaba and midfielder Corentin Tolisso can play in Wednesday’s Champions League semifinal first leg at home against Real Madrid, he said on Tuesday.
The German champions, itching for revenge after last year’s elimination to Real in their fourth successive exit in the competition to a Spanish opponent, are already without Chile international Arturo Vidal, sidelined for the rest of the season following surgery.
“For David Alaba and Corentin Tolisso it will be decided tomorrow morning if they will be included in the squad,” Heynckes told reporters. Naija and Bet
Austria international Alaba has been nursing a back injury for some weeks and missed their final training session earlier on Tuesday while Frenchman Tolisso has just recovered from a shin injury.
“Teams in the last four of the Champions League have to deal with injuries,” Heynckes added. “Arturo is for me a very important player for example. But we need to compensate for that loss.” Continue reading “Alaba, Tolisso might miss UCL match against Real Madrid”
Jupp Heynckes plans to down his ex-club Real Madrid in Wednesday’s Champions League semifinal, first leg, and take the next step to leaving Bayern Munich with another treble.
Heynckes, 72, has already won the Champions League as head coach of both clubs.
He steered Real to the title in 1998, then Bayern in 2013, a season the Germans finished with a treble. Place bet on today’s games on NaijaBet
At an age when his contemporaries are busy playing bingo and looking after the grandkids, Heynckes is relishing a high-pressure European showdown.
“It’s a cracker – a gigantic meeting in a positive sense,” said Heynckes.
“These are two teams with a great tradition in European football, who play and love attractive football. It’s a difficult draw for both sides.”
Bayern are the only club left in the Champions League who can still win a treble. Continue reading “Jupp Heynckes chasing another treble with Bayern”
Defending champions Real Madrid will face Bayern Munich in the semifinals of the Champions League while Liverpool play AS Roma in a repeat of the 1984 final.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Real will travel to Bayern’s Allianz Arena for the first leg on April 25 as the Spanish giants go in search of a third successive European crown.
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side will host Roma at Anfield on April 24 in their first match. Place bet on today’s games on NaijaBet
The Liverpool-Roma tie pits Mohamed Salah, who has scored 39 goals in all competitions already this season, against his former club. “Looking forward to seeing you again,” Roma tweeted about the Egyptian striker.
Real, who have won the competition 12 times, reached the semifinals by fighting off a remarkable Juventus comeback as Ronaldo scored a late penalty to earn a 4-3 win on aggregate.
Roma produced one of the most remarkable comebacks in Champions League history to knock out Lionel Messi’s Barcelona with a 3-0 victory in the Italian capital that gave them an unexpected win on away goals over the two legs. Continue reading “Bayern get Real, Reds draw Roma in UCL semi-final”
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola blasted Spanish referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz and lamented decisions that cost his side dear after a 2-1 home defeat by Liverpool on Tuesday sealed a 5-1 aggregate Champions League quarterfinal win for the five-time European champions.
Guardiola was forced to watch the second half from the stands after being sent off for his protestations at the break as free-spending City’s dreams of conquering the Champions League for the first time were dashed for another season. Bet Now NaijaBet
City led 1-0 on the night at that stage after Gabriel Jesus’s second-minute opener, but the hosts felt aggrieved after Leroy Sane had a second goal wrongly disallowed for offside just before halftime.
“It’s different to go in 1-0 at halftime to 2-0,” said Guardiola, who also believed Liverpool’s opener in a 3-0 first-leg win at Anfield last week should have been ruled out for offside.
“When the teams are so equal the impact of these decisions is so big.” Continue reading “Pep blames referee as City crash out”
Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta was struggling to accept his side’s shock 3-0 defeat at AS Roma which knocked them out of the Champions League on away goals on Tuesday, while Sergio Busquets called the elimination the worst moment of his career.
Barca’s passage into the semifinals looked assured after they won the first leg 4-1 but they gave their worst performance this season at the Olympic Stadium and went out to goals by Edin Dzeko, a Daniele De Rossi penalty and a Kostas Manolas header.
“It’s painful because no one expected this after the advantage we had but you realise what the reality of the Champions League is like when you do things badly, when you make lots of errors, when you don’t adapt to the game,” a visibly distraught Iniesta told reporters. Place bet on today’s champions league games on NaijaBet
The defeat saw Barca knocked out of the Champions League at the quarterfinal stage for the third season in a row and derailed their hopes of winning the treble.
“It’s difficult to accept this elimination because we had a lot of hope for this season and once again it (the Champions League) has escaped us,” the midfielder added.
“It’s a very big disappointment after the great season we have had. Right now we feel awful.” Continue reading “‘No-one expected painful Barca defeat’ – Iniesta”
Uefa opened disciplinary proceedings against Liverpool on Thursday, a day after fans threw bottles at Manchester City’s team bus ahead of their Champions League quarterfinal first leg at Anfield.
Liverpool have been charged by European soccer’s governing body with setting off fireworks, throwing objects, acts of damage and crowd disturbances and the case will be dealt with by Uefa’s Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body on May 31. Naija and Bet
Fans set off red flares and sang their club’s songs before the City coach arrived and beer cans and at least one bottle were thrown at the bus. Liverpool apologised to Manchester City for the incident.
Pep Guardiola believes his Manchester City team are capable of turning around a 3-0 first-leg deficit in their Champions League quarterfinal with Liverpool and says he will convince his players they can fight back in the tie.
Three first-half goals at Anfield left the Premier League’s runaway leaders reeling and although they regained their composure in the second half, their failure to score an away goal could prove to be decisive.
“In this room I think there is nobody except the guy talking to you who believes we can go through,” Guardiola said.
“There are 90 minutes more, we are going to try. I believe a lot in this team. They show me many good things in the season,” said the Spaniard, whose team can clinch the Premier League with a win over Manchester United on Saturday. Latest UCL return leg odds are available on NaijaBet
“We have 90 minutes all of us (in the competition), Sevilla, Juventus and us. We are going to try. It is so complicated because we are going to play a top, top team. Now it is tough,” he added.
Guardiola’s players looked shell-shocked after goals from Mohamed Salah, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Sadio Mane put the home side 3-0 up inside 31 minutes. Continue reading “Pep still believes city can fight back at the Etihad”
The winger will turn 35 later this week but his future remains uncertain as his contract is up at the end of the season.
Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery has rubbished suggestions that he raised his performance level against Sevilla in a bid to win an extension with the Bundesliga champions-elect.
The former France international winger’s deal at the Allianz Arena expires in the summer and, on the eve of his 35th birthday, there have been questions raised over his longevity.Place bet on today’s on NaijaBet
However, in turning in a fine display in Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final first-leg victory, he showed there is still plenty of life left in him.
Speaking after that 2-1 success in Spain, he rejected the claim that he had raised his level with the intention of getting a new deal.
“That’s not in question,” he said. “I always play with character. When I’m on the pitch I always give everything for my team.”
Continue reading “Ribery denies extra effort to win Bayern extension”
The Ballon d’Or winner has said that the experience of Tuesday’s game was “amazing” after he scored a memorable double in Turin.
Cristiano Ronaldo thanked Juventus supporters for applauding his stunning overhead goal in Real Madrid’s 3-0 victory in the Champions League.
Two-time reigning champions Madrid put one foot in the semi-finals thanks to Ronaldo, who scored twice in a memorable first-leg performance against 10-man Juve on Tuesday. Place bet on today’s games on NaijaBet
Having opened the scoring inside three minutes, Ronaldo was at it again with an unforgettable bicycle kick in the second half as the five-time Ballon d’Or winner earned a standing ovation in Turin.
“It was an unbelievable moment,” the 33-year-old Portuguese superstar said.
“I have to say thank you, Grazie, to all the supporters of Juventus. What they did for me was amazing.
Continue reading “Ronaldo was at it again with an unforgettable bicycle kick”
Jurgen Klopp has no qualms about saluting Pep Guardiola’s ability to create “extraordinary” teams, but the Liverpool boss is convinced he can bridge the class divide when Manchester City visit Anfield for their Champions League showdown.
Having first gone head to head with Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, the friendly rivalry between Klopp and Guardiola has its biggest stage yet as Liverpool face City in the Champions League quarter-final first leg on Wednesday.
Two of Europe’s heavyweight managers, Klopp and Guardiola look destined to compete for the sport’s biggest prizes for years to come.
But there is strong mutual admiration between the bosses, with Klopp unstinting in his praise for Guardiola’s ability to get his players to give life to his purist principles. Latest champions leagues odds on NaijaBet
“His teams are always excellently positioned. He always has great teams which make excellent decisions,” Klopp said recently.
“At Barcelona it was Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, Lionel Messi and so on.
“At Bayern Munich he had fantastic players who made a lot of great decisions. Now, with Gundogan, Silva, Aguero, Sane on the left wing, Sterling on the wing, Gabriel Jesus, they’re extraordinary. Continue reading “Guardiola holds no fears for Klopp ahead of #UCL clash”