“The title is not ours,” said Leicester City Manager Claudio Ranieri. “Something special can happen, but we have to fight a lot, slowly, slowly.” Naijabet.com
Those cautious words, said on television after Leicester’s latest win at Watford , contained for the first time an acknowledgement from this wily old coach that the seemingly impossible could happen.
Ranieri has been in denial throughout this remarkable season. His mantra has been that the Foxes are a small club running just to survive and that he has been expecting them to be chased down by the pack, led by Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Manchester City.
He is right, to the extent that it is still an implausible dream that a club the size of Leicester ever could win the Premiership. Yet with nine games remaining after this weekend, and with the Foxes five points ahead of their closest rival, the chasers are beginning to run out of games to reel Leicester in.
“A lot can happen,” insisted Leicester’s goalkeeper, Kasper Schmeichel. “In nine games last season, we saved ourselves in this league.” Naijabet
Thomas Muller says he does not know in what aspect Barcelona could be superior to Bayern Munich.
Muller, 26, scored the opening goal of the game in Bayern’s 2-2 draw at Juventus in the first leg of their last-16 Champions League tie as the Bundesliga champions aim to win a second European crown in four years.
Bayern were knocked out of last year’s tournament in the semi-finals by Barcelona – who went on to win the treble – but Muller believes the clubs are more even than most people think. Naijabet
“Barcelona are in a good moment and they come from winning the treble last season,” the Germany international told Sport1. “But I see Bayern as one of the strongest in Europe, naturally alongside Barcelona.
“Bayern are first in the [Bundesliga], are one game away from a cup final, and got a good result away in the first leg of the round of 16.
“I don’t know where they are better than us.”
The forward added: “You can see every week how good they are, but also you can see our games and say ‘Yes, they are also very strong’.
“If we find ourselves up against Barcelona again, we will be prepared.”
Chelsea’s Champions League hopes were ended by Paris St-Germain at the last-16 stage once more as Zlatan Ibrahimovic inspired the French champions to victory at Stamford Bridge. Naijabet.com
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored in four consecutive Champions League matches.
PSG built on their 2-1 lead from the first leg when Ibrahimovic crossed perfectly for Adrien Rabiot to score from close range after 16 minutes.
Diego Costa’s smart finish put Chelsea level on the night before half-time, but his departure through injury on the hour and Ibrahimovic’s simple finish from Angel di Maria’s delivery seven minutes later sent PSG into the last eight.
The visitors, who knocked Chelsea out on away goals at this stage last season, ended the night in total control.
Chelsea – 10th in the Premier League – now face the prospect of being without European football next season, with Costa and Eden Hazard limping off injured before Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final at Everton.
Anyone seeking to understand Chelsea’s steady return to form under interim manager Guus Hiddink will find a partial explanation in the unassuming figure of holding midfielder John Mikel Obi.
Having started just two of Chelsea’s final 16 Premier League games under Jose Mourinho, Mikel has started nine of 12 under Hiddink in the only notable non-enforced personnel change that the Dutchman has made to the starting XI. Naijabet.com
As well as being unbeaten in their 12 league games to date under Hiddink, Chelsea’s average number of goals conceded per game has dropped from 1.625 to 1, and Mikel’s defensive nous has been an important factor.
“He’s the ideal player to bring balance to the team,” Hiddink said earlier this year.
“He knows where the strength of the opponent is and he knows exactly how to cope with that.
“He doesn’t do it in a very brutal way — he’s very, very elegant. What I like to see very much is not just a quality player, but a player who can defend so smoothly. It’s beautiful to see.”
It is a configuration that has helped Chelsea climb to 10th in the league, kindling hope that they may yet succeed in overturning a 2-1 deficit in today’s Champions League clash at home to Paris Saint-Germain.
Mikel missed the two previous Champions League ties with PSG over the last two seasons. An unused substitute in both legs of the quarter-final in 2013-14, he was recovering from knee surgery last season.
But he has already made his mark on this season’s last 16 tie, having been the source of two goals in the first leg at Parc des Princes.
A seismometer was installed by geology students, and the British Geological Survey (BSG), at Hazel Community Primary School, 500m (0.3 miles) from the King Power Stadium, as part of a project to detect earthquakes around the world
However, Paul Denton, a seismologist from the BSG, said the team wondered if football fans would affect the detectors. Naijabet