Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United legend was built on scoring the goal that won the Champions League, but, 20 years on, the Norwegian now concedes the United side he has inherited as manager are not even fit to grace that competition.
The scale of the task now facing Solskjaer was laid bare by Sunday’s 1-1 draw at already relegated Huddersfield, statistically one of the worst sides ever to play in the Premier League, that ensured United cannot finish in the top four and must accept the consolation prize of a place in the Europa League.
“We are not in the Champions League but I think that is a true reflection. The table seldom lies at the end,” admitted Solskjaer as he came to terms with a run of two wins from 11 games that have sucked the enthusiasm from his first few months as a caretaker manager.
“When United needed their players to stand up and be counted, playing with intensity, taking responsibility individually, concentrating fully, fighting for the right to play in the Champions League, they froze,” wrote The Times.
“The meek may inherit the earth but they also end up in the Europa League.” Place bet on Live Matches 24/7
Solskjaer was given the job on a permanent basis less than six weeks ago on the back of winning 14 of his first 17 games in charge. Continue reading “Man United to face huge rebuild after Champions League failure”
French World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe was banned for three matches Friday following his sending-off for a reckless tackle during Paris Saint-Germain’s French Cup final debacle against Rennes.
The French football Federation (FFF) said they had also opened disciplinary proceedings against Mbappe’s teammate Neymar for striking a Rennes fan following the shock defeat on penalties after extra time.
Mbappe, PSG’s gifted 20-year-old striker, lunged with his studs into the knee of Rennes defender Damien Da Silva near the close of extra time on Sunday.
Having already missed one game, Mbappe will miss Saturday’s match against Nice and the trip to Angers the following week but will be available for the last two games of the season. Place bet on NaijaBet
The threat of further sanctions hangs over Neymar, banned for three Champions League games after insulting the referee following PSG’s exit from the last 16 at the hands of Manchester United. Continue reading “Mbappe banned for three matches due reckless tackle”
Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers says he has no extra motivation to do his former club Liverpool a favour in the Premier League title race when his side face Manchester City on Monday.
Liverpool can return to the top of the table if they beat Newcastle United on Saturday but will only be in pole position to clinch the league title on May 12 if Rodgers’ Leicester can claim a point or better at the Etihad Stadium.
Yet Rodgers, who went agonisingly close to winning the league with Liverpool in 2013-14, is only focused on his job at Leicester.
“I am employed by Leicester. My focus is on Leicester City. There’s no comparison really,” Rodgers told a news conference on Thursday.
“It’s exciting to be involved but my thoughts are solely with Leicester and doing what we can to get a result. Place bet on Europa League matches on NaijaBet
“Liverpool back then was at a different stage. We had young players, loan players. We went from eighth to second in a couple of years so it’s a different dynamic. We deserved to finish second.” Continue reading “Leicester needs no extra incentive to beat Man City – Rodgers”
Lionel Messi warned his Barcelona teammates that their place in the Champions League final is still not certain despite his two-goal salvo in a 3-0 semifinal first leg win over Liverpool on Wednesday.
“It would have been better to win 4-0 than 3-0 but it is a very good result,” said the Argentine star.
“It’s not definitive, we are going to go into a very complicated atmosphere, with a great history.”
Messi’s second goal was the 600th of his Barca career and he reached the landmark in stunning style, majestically curling a free-kick into the top corner. Place bet on Live matches 24/7 on NaijaBet
“It was beautiful when it went in but I was lucky that the ball lodged up there in the corner.” Continue reading “Messi warns after Barca masterpiece, Not over yet”
Barcelona are unbeaten in their last 22 matches in all competitions and won La Liga at the weekend.
Liverpool have won 10 matches in a row in all competitions but have conceded in every Champions League away match this season.
Barcelona have only lost one game at home all season and that was back in November. Their aim will be to make it as difficult as possible for Liverpool in the return leg.
Lionel Messi has failed to score or assist in two previous encounters with Liverpool but the Argentine has 44 goals and 16 assists across league and European competition this season. Place bet on Live Match 24/7
Barcelona- Ernesto Valverde has to pick between Arturo Vidal and Arthur in midfield and Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele in attack. Continue reading “Champions League Match Preview: Barcelona vs Liverpool”
Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho traded places as Liverpool’s talismanic figure before earning dream moves to Barcelona, but while the Uruguayan has become one of the Catalan side’s greatest strikers ever, the Brazilian is seen as an expensive flop.
The South American duo will be ready to face Liverpool together for the first time in Wednesday’s Champions League semifinal first leg at the Nou Camp, aiming to help Barca reach the final for the first time in four years.
Suarez was named PFA player of the year in the 2013/14 season for leading Liverpool’s charge to the brink of the Premier League title, before they were pipped at the post by Manchester City.
Liverpool took years to recover from him leaving for Barca in 2014 for a club record 75 million pounds, finishing sixth and eighth respectively in their next two seasons until Jurgen Klopp transformed their fortunes.
“When I was there, it was very different,” Suarez said in a recent interview with The Guardian. Place bet on Live Matches 24/7
“We were on the verge of the Premier League with a squad nowhere near as good. They didn’t spend as much as they’re doing now. Any player would like to go to Liverpool now. It was different then.” Continue reading “Suarez join Barcelona history book as Coutinho looks dispensable”
Tottenham lost their first ever game at their new stadium in a 1-0 loss to West Ham on Saturday and they’ll be looking to bounce back against a buoyant Ajax side. Spurs haven’t been wholly convincing of late having lost three of their last four competitive matches, with their sole success in that run coming against Brighton.
Ajax come into this tie on the back of an eight-match unbeaten run, with the only blip on the record in that time coming in a 1-1 draw with Juventus. The Dutch powerhouse have lost only one of their last 15 matches and come into this clash in London on a four-match away winning run.
Given Spurs’ midfield issues, and the absence of key forwards Son Heung-Min and Harry Kane, Ajax could secure a first leg advantage with a narrow win in England.
Tottenham- Son Heung-Min is suspended for Tottenham after his yellow card in the second leg 4-3 loss at Manchester City ruled him out of this match. Place bet on NaijaBet 24/7 on NaijaBet
With Harry Kane out, Lucas Moura is set to start alongside Christian Eriksen behind Fernando Llorente in attack. Continue reading “Champions League Match Preview: Tottenham vs Ajax”
Pep Guardiola declared Sergio Aguero “a legend” after the forward became the first player since Thierry Henry to score 20 Premier League goals in five successive seasons.
Aguero struck in the 63rd minute to secure Manchester City’s 1-0 win away to Burnley at Turf Moor on Sunday that saw the English champions return to the top of the table.
City’s 12th successive league victory took them to 92 points, one clear of second-placed Liverpool with both clubs still having two league matches each to play this season.
Aguero has managed 230 goals in eight years with City, making him far and away the club’s all-time top scorer, and the 30-year-old Argentina striker has played a key role in the three league titles they have won during that period.
“He is a legend; he does that all the time, score important goals for us,” Guardiola said. “He is an incredible player.” Place bet on Live Matches 24/7
City remain on course to finish the season with an unprecedented domestic treble; having won the League Cup in February, they return to Wembley to play Watford in the FA Cup final on 18 May. Continue reading “Pep hails ‘legend’ Aguero as City move closer to EPL title”
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane lambasted his players for “doing nothing” during a limp 1-0 defeat at lowly Rayo Vallecano on Sunday which saw the deposed European champions suffer their 10th Liga defeat of the season.
Adri Embarba scored the only goal by converting a penalty midway through the first half and Madrid, aside from an effort by Mariano that was correctly ruled out for offside, rarely looked like equalising.
“We did nothing today on any level, from the first minute until the last,” a furious Zidane told reporters.
“Sometimes you are not able to score but today we didn’t even create chances, we did nothing well. We have to all be angry with our performance. I am angry because we gave an awful image of ourselves.” Start forecasting your Champions League games Now
It was Madrid’s first defeat since 1997 by Rayo, their far less glamorous neighbours who began the game bottom of La Liga, and the first time in a decade that Real have lost 10 games in a league season. Continue reading “Furious Zidane blasts Madrid players after Weekend’s defeat”
Borussia Dortmund go into Saturday’s Ruhr valley clash against bitter rivals Schalke 04 with more than just bragging rights at stake in Germany’s biggest derby.
Any result other than a win at home against relegation-threatened Schalke could cost Dortmund their shot at the Bundesliga title with three matches to go after the clash.
Dortmund, chasing their first league title since 2012, are a point behind leaders Bayern Munich, and are desperately hoping for a Bayern slip-up along the way.
They have bounced back from their 5-0 demolition by Bayern three weeks ago and have won their last two league matches to remain within striking distance.
Jadon Sancho, Marco Reus and Paco Alcacer all scored in the past week and Dortmund will need their fierce attack to deliver in the coming games. Various betting options are available on site
The Royal Blues have their own battle on their hands and are trying to avoid what would be a shock relegation. Continue reading “Ruhr derby more than just a big game for Dortmund”
Manchester City’s 2-0 derby victory at Manchester United edged Pep Guardiola’s men one point ahead of Liverpool once more in one of the tightest Premier League title races ever.
A seventh defeat in nine games further damaged United’s chances of Champions League qualification, but they could still make the top four with Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal also faltering.
The title remains in City’s hands thanks to a run of 11 straight Premier League wins and victory at Old Trafford on Wednesday was a huge step towards becoming the first side to retain the Premier League in a decade.
A trip to Burnley on Sunday is followed by the visit of Leicester to the Etihad before City end the season at relegation-threatened Brighton.
City’s Champions League elimination means they will have a full week to prepare for their final two league games. Place bet on Live Matches 24/7
A run of nine consecutive wins in all competitions has helped keep Jurgen Klopp’s men stay on City’s coattails and in position to pounce should the champions suffer an unexpected stumble in their remaining three games. Continue reading “The Premier League title and top four battle is still alive”
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has been charged with misconduct for his behaviour during Monday’s 2-2 Premier League draw with Burnley, the English Football Association said.
The Chelsea coach was sent to the stands by referee Kevin Friend after becoming embroiled in a scuffle among players on the touchline in the dying moments of the game at Stamford Bridge.
Sarri did not carry out his post-match media duties, sending assistant coach Gianfranco Zola to fill in for him instead.
Zola told reporters at the time that Sarri had sought to get his players out of the scuffle but the referee had “misinterpreted” his intentions and that the Chelsea manager had been offended by a comment from the Burnley bench.
“Maurizio Sarri has been charged with misconduct in relation to his behaviour in the 94th minute of Monday’s Premier League fixture between Chelsea and Burnley,” the FA said in a statement.
The Chelsea manager has until 1700 GMT +1 on Friday to responded to the charge, the governing body added.
Manchester United were humilated 4-0 by Everton on Sunday. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have lost six of their last eight matches in all competitions.
Manchester City have won 10 matches in a row in the Premier League and four in a row on the road.
Pep Guardiola’s side are unbeaten in their last three league games at Old Trafford and will run out comfortable winners in midweek.
Manchester United- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would be well within his right to make 11 changes from the side that lost 4-0 to Everton on Easter Sunday.
The Manchester United manager is at least bolstered by the return of Luke Shaw, who is back from a two-match ban.
Ander Herrera has missed United’s last five matches but has returned to training and could be thrust into the starting XI in midweek.
Alexis Sanchez is also back from injury and could make his first start for United since the beginning of March. Juan Mata or Jesse Lingard should also come into the frame here. Place bet on Live Matches 24/7 on NaijaBet
Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford could have no defence if they are dropped for the derby. Continue reading “Premier League Match Preview: Manchester United vs Manchester City”
Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino described Christian Eriksen’s contract talks as a “special situation” on Tuesday after the Dane scored a crucial late goal to give his side a 1-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion.
The 27-year-old has only one more season left on his contract and is widely-admired by some of Europe’s biggest clubs, prompting talk of a big-money summer move.
He was not at his best on Tuesday as Tottenham endured a frustrating night battering away at Brighton’s barricades.
But his 88th-minute strike was the moment of quality Tottenham required to put them in a strong position to finish the season inside the top four.
Eriksen has made a habit of scoring crucial late goals – also earning his side a 1-0 win over Burnley this season with a 90th minute strike and scoring the 80th-minute goal against Inter Milan that kept Spurs in the Champions League.
Pochettino said he hoped Eriksen would still be at the club he joined from Ajax in 2013 next season.
“It’s a very special situation. Christian is a special person and we’re all different,” he told reporters. Place bet on Live Events 24/7 on NaijaBet
“Timing for him and the club and agreeing something are maybe different to other players. I hope he will be here in the future. Christian and us are so close and it’s not long until the end of the season.
“Now it’s about being focused on the end of the season.” Continue reading “Pochettino described Eriksen’s Spurs future a ‘special situation’”
Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne has been ruled out of Wednesday’s Manchester derby at Old Trafford by manager Pep Guardiola.
The Belgium midfielder suffered the latest of several injuries this season when he was forced off in the champions’ Premier League win at home to Tottenham on Saturday.
“It is a muscular problem,” Guardiola told reporters on Tuesday. “We will see in the next days but tomorrow he is not available.”
Man City can move one point clear of title rivals Liverpool at the top of the table heading into their final three games of the season with victory over United.
Chelsea accused Burnley of time-wasting and playing “anti-football” after Blues boss Maurizio Sarri was sent off before a touchline skirmish marred their frustrating 2-2 draw on Monday.
Sarri’s side fell behind to Jeff Hendrick’s fine finish before N’Golo Kante equalised moments later.
In a frantic opening 24 minutes at Stamford Bridge, Gonzalo Higuain put Chelsea ahead, only for Burnley’s Ashley Barnes to punish more dismal defending from the Blues.
Without a win in their last two league games, Chelsea will take only slender comfort from climbing one point above fifth-placed Arsenal into fourth place, level on points with third-placed Tottenham.
Chelsea would have gone third with a victory, but instead they have now played a game more than top-four rivals Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United, who are three points behind in sixth.
It was a missed opportunity after defeats for Tottenham, Arsenal and United at the weekend and Chelsea were booed off at fulltime. Bet Now on NaijaBet
In a fitting coda to a damaging evening, Sarri was sent to the stands for protesting in the final seconds before several members of the Blues bench were involved in a tetchy touchline clash with their Burnley counterparts. Continue reading “Chelsea move to fourth on the table after frustrating Burnley draw”
Napoli are 2-0 behind on aggregate and may rue not scoring an away goal in London. Carlo Ancelotti’s side ended a three-match winless run at the weekend with a 3-1 victory over Chievo.
Arsenal kept their first Premier League clean sheet away from home of the season in Monday night, which will give them confidence heading to Naples.
The Gunners have only won three of their last 13 away matches in all competitions and have both their last two on the road in the Europa League.
Napoli- Napoli will continue to be without Raul Albiol and Amadou Diawara as they bid to overturn a 2-0 deficit from the first leg.
Arkadiusz Milik may get the nod over Dries Mertens on Thursday after starting the first match on the bench. Place bet on today’s Europa League Matches
Kevin Malcuit will hope to start against the Gunners after Elseid Hysaj started at right-back at the Emirates. Continue reading “Europa League Match Preview: Napoli vs Arsenal (Agg 0-2)”
Pep Guardiola bemoaned VAR’s failure to rule out Fernando Llorente’s decisive goal for Tottenham as Manchester City’s quadruple bid was shattered by a “cruel” Champions League quarterfinal exit on Wednesday.
Guardiola’s side were closing in on a place in the semifinals after staging a thrilling comeback to lead 4-2 in the second leg at the Etihad Stadium.
But Tottenham striker Llorente bundled home in the 73rd minute via a combination of his arm and hip, with VAR allowing the goal on review despite City’s appeals for handball.
Guardiola could be seen gesturing for handball while the VAR check was made, but his protest was in vain.
Adding to the City manager’s frustration, Raheem Sterling appeared to have scored what would have been the winner in the final seconds of stoppage-time, only for the goal to be ruled out by VAR for offside against Sergio Aguero. Place bet on Live events on NaijaBet24/7
“I support VAR but maybe from one angle Fernando Llorente’s goal is handball, maybe from the referee’s angle it is not,” Guardiola said.
“I watched the action and the people from above decided it (City’s disallowed goal) was offside. Continue reading “Guardiola misery continues as City crash out of Champions League”
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Manchester City have a one-goal deficit to make up having lost the first leg at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium 1-0. City smashed Spurs 4-1 in their last welcome of the north London to the Etihad Stadium and supporters would welcome a repeat of that result and having won their last 12 home matches, they’ll be confident of securing the necessary result here.
Conversely, Tottenham have lost six of their last seven away matches, with their only win in that run coming at Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League. Spurs, to their credit, have won five of their last six Champions League matches, but have their work cut out if they are to secure a semi-final spot.
Indeed, Spurs will make things difficult for City, but the home side have what it takes to secure the win required to earn their spot in the next round of the competition.
Manchester City- Pep Guardiola is without only Claudio Bravo for Wednesday’s welcome of Tottenham, with the Chilean goalkeeper still struggling for match fitness, though he wasn’t expected to start anyway, while Fernandinho will be assessed.
The Manchester City boss is expected to make a couple of changes from the first leg loss in north London for this must-win match. Live Bet on NaijaBet
Oleksandr Zinchenko is available following injury and could come in for Fabian Delph at left-back, while Bernardo Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus are expected to start.
Continue reading “UCL Match Preview: Manchester City vs Tottenham (Agg 0-1)”
Ajax Amsterdam basked in widespread praise after their Champions League heroics but their young players believe the 2-1 away win over Juventus in the second leg of the quarterfinal should have been more emphatic.
“We could have scored a few more in the second half,” said midfielder Frenkie de Jong, one of the heroes of their triumph in Turin which was characterised by some sweeping passing play.
The 3-2 aggregate win ensured unlikely semifinal qualification for the Dutch club who have come all the way through the preliminary rounds of the competition.
“In the first half they had a bit more control,” De Jong said of Juventus’ early showing as Cristiano Ronaldo put his side ahead in the 28th minute but Donny van de Beek levelling six minutes later.
“Their 1-0 lead was not exactly undeserved but luckily for us we were able to get back to 1-1 quickly after that. Place bet on Live Matches 24/7
“But after the halftime break, we were so much better than them. We wasted a lot of good chances and we should have been much more in the lead,” the Barcelona-bound 21-year-old said.
Continue reading “Juventus win margin should have been bigger – Ajax”
Porto are 2-0 down from the first leg and have a mountain to climb in order to stay in the competition. They have kept clean sheets in five of their last seven home games.
Liverpool will be high on confidence after returning to the Premier League’s summit at the weekend. They have won seven matches in a row.
FC Porto- Pepe and Hector Herrera return from suspension for Porto and are expected to slot straight back into the starting XI.
Porto will consider starting Yacine Brahimi in the second leg as they will need to go for it at some stage on Wednesday. Bet Now on NaijaBet
Liverpool- Andrew Robertson returns from suspension to start at left-back on Wednesday. Continue reading “Champions League Match Preview: FC Porto vs Liverpool (Agg 0-2)”
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde praised Lionel Messi for settling his side down after a nervy start against Manchester United and inspiring the Catalans to a 3-0 victory to reach the Champions League quarterfinals.
Marcus Rashford struck the crossbar for the visitors in the second minute at the Nou Camp but Messi scored twice in the space of five minutes later in the first half to put Barca at ease.
Philippe Coutinho’s stunning strike completed a dominant 4-0 aggregate victory.
“Messi always gets us out of trouble and we’re not going to apologise for having him,” Valverde told a news conference.
“Leo always turns up in the important games, not just in the big moments but throughout the whole game. He is always capable of scoring but he also drives the team’s attack.” Place bet on today’s Champions League games on NaijaBet
Valverde said his side were relieved to finally hurdle the quarterfinal barrier after three successive exits in the last eight, particularly after last season’s 3-0 second-leg defeat to AS Roma after winning the first leg 4-1. Continue reading “Messi gets us out of trouble again – Valverde”
Barcelona hold a 1-0 lead from the first leg and are heavy favourites to make the last four of the Champions League. They haven’t conceded in their last three matches and are unbeaten at home since November.
Manchester United have gone completely off the boil in recent weeks and were fortunate to beat West Ham on Saturday. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have lost their last three away matches in all competitions.
You cannot completely write off United here after they overturned a bigger first leg deficit against Paris Saint-Germain in the last round but it would be absolutely remarkable if they managed to knock Barcelona out on Tuesday.
Barcelona- Ousmane Dembele made his first appearance in a month at the weekend and will compete with Philippe Coutinho for a spot in Barcelona’s front three. Place bet on Live Matches 24/7 on NaijaBet
Barcelona’s midfield had problems at Old Trafford and Ernesto Valverde may draft in Sergi Roberto or Arturo Vidal here. Continue reading “UCL Match Preview: Barcelona vs Manchester United (Agg1-0)”