Thursday, 25 May 2017

Playing with Cristiano Ronaldo still hasn't sunk in, says new Real Madrid signing Vinicius Junior

Playing with Cristiano Ronaldo still hasn't sunk in, says new Real Madrid signing Vinicius Junior
The 16-year-old highlighted the Portuguese and Gareth Bale as players he likes after sealing his move to the Spanish capital

New Real Madrid signing Vinicius Junior says the prospect of playing alongside Cristiano Ronaldo is yet to sink in.
Who is Vinicius Junior?
The 16-year-old Flamengo star sealed an astonishing move to Madrid, reportedly worth €45 million, on Tuesday.
Vinicius will be a Madrid player from July 2018 after he has turned 18, but the Spanish champions plan for him to stay at Flamengo for a further year unless both clubs agree otherwise.
The eventual prospect of linking up with Ronaldo, the favourite to win this year's Ballon d'Or and retain the game's most prestigious individual prize, is something Vinicius is still coming to terms with.
"It still hasn't sunk in," Vinicius said to Fox Sports when asked about the Portuguese superstar. "I really like Cristiano Ronaldo and [Gareth] Bale, but for now I think about playing in Flamengo with Diego and [Jose Paolo] Guerrero.
Gareth Bale Cristiano Ronaldo Alaves Real Madrid LaLiga 29102016
"It was not me that decided anything, it was my representatives together with Flamengo and my parents.
"I'm happy with reaching the objective, but now is about going step by step to win many titles with the Flamengo shirt. Then I will think about Real Madrid. I only think about arriving there with a clear head and still have to spend more time at Flamengo, from one to two years, to mature.
"I am not thinking about money, just playing and giving joy to the Rubro-Negro nation. I am very happy with the transfer, but my head is not in Real Madrid, only in Flamengo."
Messi appeal against tax evasion sentence rejected
The teenager has impressed for Brazil at youth level, topping the scoring charts with seven goals as his country won the South American Under-17 Championship in March.

Vinicius only made his first-team debut for Flamengo as a late substitute in the 1-1 Campeonato Brasileiro draw against Atletico Mineiro on May 13.

'Makelele role is now the Kante role' - Chelsea icon Claude passes baton to N'Golo

'Makelele role is now the Kante role' - Chelsea icon Claude passes baton to N'Golo
The former Blues midfielder is in awe of the PFA Player of the Year following his compatriot's sublime performances in a Premier League title triumph

Former Chelsea midfielder Claude Makelele regards N'Golo Kante as his natural successor at Stamford Bridge.
Kante joined Chelsea from Leicester City at the start of the season and has quickly become an integral figure at the Premier League champions.
Willian rules out Chelsea exit
The 28-year-old's consistently impressive performances in the holding midfield role have drawn comparisons to the iconic Makelele, a two-time Premier League champion with the Blues.
Kante was named PFA and FWA Player of the Year as a result and the former Real Madrid man only expects his fellow Frenchman to get better next season.
"People talk about the Makelele position, but I am old and it is time everybody called it the Kante position. N'Golo deserves that," Makelele was quoted as saying on the official Chelsea website.
"Every time I watch N'Golo, I see so much desire in him, so much focus and so much determination to make himself a better player with every game.
Claude Makelele N'Golo Kante
"He was the heartbeat of the Leicester team, but it was also like taking a bulldog for a walk, you had to keep pulling him back because he had so much energy.
"Now N'Golo has added intelligence. He appreciates the position of his team-mates more and how to play in a more sophisticated system where it is not all about running and tackling, but the decisions he makes.
Terry responds to farewell criticism
"Some players are meant to be superstars, but some - like N'Golo and myself - must be happy making other people look good.

"Next season we will see him become even better because he will have the challenge of the Champions League. He is also part of a fantastic generation of young players coming through for France, which will also see him develop."

Chelsea have no special FA Cup plans for Alexis Sanchez, says Victor Moses

Chelsea have no special FA Cup plans for Alexis Sanchez, says Victor Moses
The Blues wing-back is confident that his side can wrap up a domestic double on Saturday and isn't fearful of Arsenal's talismanic forward

Victor Moses has revealed that Chelsea have no specific plans to stop Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez in Saturday's FA Cup final.
Sanchez has been Arsenal's most productive attacking player this season, scoring 29 goals and providing 15 assists, but his side have narrowly missed out on Champions League qualification by finishing fifth in the Premier League.
Moses has become a first-team regular at Chelsea for the first time this season under Antonio Conte, adopting a new role at right wing-back as his manager switched to a 3-4-3 formation. That means Sanchez and Moses could line up against each other at Wembley, as Arsenal have mirrored Chelsea's formation in recent weeks, but the Nigeria international is not worried about his opponent.
Willian rules out Chelsea exit
"I haven't got a plan to stop him! He’s had a great season, he’s done well for Arsenal but whether he’s injured or not we’re just going to play our football," Moses said at Cobham Training Centre. "We came back to training on Tuesday and we want to get ourselves ready.
"It's going to be a very hard game for us on Saturday. Arsenal are a good team with good players that can win them games. But we're just concentrating on ourselves at the moment, working hard in training and hopefully we'll go and do the job.
Victor Moses GFX

"We've got the league title and they're going to want to win because they missed out on top four. We're going to try and stop them because we want the double. We don't feel any pressure. If he [Antonio Conte] says Arsenal are the favourites, then... I don't know, but we've got good players that can win us games.
"We think we're good enough to beat Arsenal but it's not going to be an easy game."
Terry responds to farewell criticism

Chelsea beat Arsenal 3-1 in February at Stamford Bridge, but they suffered their worst loss of the season against their London rivals in September, as Arsene Wenger's side ran out 3-0 winners.
Conte switched formations after the loss and he has since gone on to say that the defeat was the most important moment in Chelsea's season. Moses agrees and says it is a game that still plays on the minds of the players.

"Yeah, we still think about it," Moses added. "We lost two games in a row against Liverpool and Arsenal. We felt very sad after that game but we played them at Stamford Bridge and won 3-1.
Victor Moses
"We beat them once and they beat us once. They're going to want revenge but we'll stick to our tactics and try and make sure we win."
Moses claimed only the second major honour of his playing career on Sunday as he lifted the Premier League title. The 26-year-old could add a FA Cup medal to his collection at the weekend, having already claimed Europa League and Premier League mementos.
Chelsea cancel victory parade
"Yeah, it’s my first time [playing in an FA Cup final]. I’m looking forward to it so that’ll be a great honour for me," Moses continued. "It’s a massive cup and everyone knows about it in England and all over the world so everyone’s going to be watching the final.

"It would be a great achievement for me [to win it]. We’ve got a new manager here who’s willing to give everyone an opportunity. He gave me that opportunity and I didn’t look back after that. I’m very pleased with that and I just want to keep improving in every game I play.

"It’s a new role for me and I’m still getting used to it. It’s the last game of the season on Saturday and hopefully next season we’ll continue from here."

Pogba would be 'very happy' if Juve won Champions League

After helping Man Utd to the Europa League, Pogba would be 'very happy' if Juve won Champions League
The Frenchman has tasted trophy success at Old Trafford following an £89 million transfer and hopes to see his former club land Europe's biggest prize

Manchester United star Paul Pogba insists he would be happy if Juventus won the Champions League, wishing his former club luck.
Pogba opened the scoring as United claimed a 2-0 win over Ajax in the Europa League final on Wednesday.
Mata: Wanted to win for Manchester
The France international was a world-record signing from Juve in the off-season, but his former club have had few problems without him, winning a sixth straight Serie A title and reaching the Champions League decider.
A Juve win against Real Madrid in Cardiff on June 3 would see the Italian giants face United in the UEFA Super Cup and Pogba welcomed that potential clash.
"If Juventus win the Champions League, I am very happy, very happy," he told Sky Italia.
"Then we would be in the Super Cup against them? True. But I can say good luck to my former team-mates."
Henrikh Mkhitaryan's second-half goal sealed United's win and a place in next season's Champions League.
Ibrahimovic: My future? Let's see
Pogba was satisfied with the victory, saying: "We played to win.

"We wanted to do it right from the start of the competition. We got up there and we are very proud now."

Mourinho: Lots of poets in football, but poets don't win titles, I do

Mourinho: Lots of poets in football, but poets don't win titlesThe Red Devils boss guided his team to a tactically shrewd win over Ajax and he wasted little time in rounding on his detractors

Jose Mourinho has delivered a thinly veiled dig at his critics following Manchester United's Europa League triumph, suggesting that football's 'poets' don't win titles.
Goals in either half from Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were enough to see the Red Devils to a historic victory over a youthful Ajax side in Stockholm as Mourinho clinched the trophy for the first time in the Old Trafford club's history.
Man Utd's Europa League celebrations
The Portuguese has endured plenty of criticism this season, with United finishing sixth in the Premier League and appearing unconvincing en route to the final. Indeed, Ajax captain Davy Klaassen continued that trend, by suggesting that Mourinho's side were 'lucky' to win.
However, after concluding his maiden campaign with three trophies and securing Champions League football for next season, the former Real Madrid boss was happy to take aim at his detractors.
"We always thought that we could win the Europa League and we are very happy," Mourinho told BT Sport. "We played intelligently, we did it in a comfortable way. We were much stronger than them.
"If you want to press the ball all the time, you don't play short. If you are dominant in the air you go long. There are lots of poets in football but poets, they don't win many titles.
"We knew where they were better than us, we knew where we were better than them, we tried to kill their good qualities and exploit their weaknesses. We did that very well from the first minute and we totally deserve the trophy."
Mourinho admitted that his first term at Man United was his "most difficult season as a manager" and says, with three trophies under his belt, he will now take a deserved rest.
Pogba leads Man Utd to emotional triumph
"We preferred to reach the Champions League this way than finish fourth, third or second," he continued.
"We got the objective, we are back in the Champions League by winning a title, an important title. The club now has every title in world football. We fought hard for this since the beginning.
"We totally deserved the win. I am so happy to see the [injured] boys with the crutches with the trophy and now I am on holiday. I don't want to see any international friendlies, I am selfish. I can't do it.
"For me, enough is enough. It has been a very hard last few months, we were short of numbers.
"Three trophies in one season and the Champions League. I am very happy in my most difficult season as a manager. It is the end of a very difficult season but a very, very good season."

The Europa League joins the Community Shield and EFL Cup in Mourinho's trophy cabinet after his first season at Old Trafford and he will look to build on that success in the Champions League next season.

Pogba and Mkhitaryan seal emotional Europa League triumph

Paul Pogba celebrates with Matteo Darmian (L) and Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan gave Manchester United victory over Ajax in the Europa League final and secured a Champions League spot.

Manchester United won the Europa League for the first time in their history thanks to a 2-0 victory over Ajax in Wednesday's final in Stockholm.
Goals from Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan secured the trophy and a route back into the Champions League group stage for next season, while bringing some joy to fans in what has been a deeply difficult week for the English city.
The match was overshadowed by Monday's terror attack at the Manchester Arena, which killed 22 people, and a minute's silence was observed before kick-off in front of a boisterous but respectful crowd at Friends Arena.
Manager Jose Mourinho – who last won this trophy with Porto in 2003 –  spoke before the game of how United players were struggling to put the tragedy at home out of their minds, but they were the better side in the opening exchanges and were good value for the lead given to them through Pogba's deflected shot.
Ajax, in their first European final since losing to Juventus in the Champions League in 1996, lacked the attacking precision that saw them score five goals across two legs against both Schalke and Lyon and they were 2-0 down shortly after the interval as Mkhitaryan netted his sixth goal in the competition this season.
United were largely on the defensive in the final half-hour but their lead was rarely under threat, as they became the fifth team to win the Champions League, Europa League and UEFA Super Cup and returned to Europe's top table in style.
Wednesday's encounter was preceded by a minute's silence that turned into rousing applause in recognition of the victims of Monday's terror attack in Manchester, which claimed the lives of 22 people.
It was United who settled quickest, Marcus Rashford causing some early problems for the young Ajax back line and Marouane Fellaini almost reaching a fizzing cross from Juan Mata.
Chelsea loanee Bertrand Traore stung the palms of Sergio Romero, starting as expected in place of David de Gea, but Ajax's early anxiety came to a head as they gifted United the opener after 18 minutes.
United won the ball back from a routine Ajax throw-in and it allowed Fellaini to tee up Pogba on the edge of the area, who had time to take a touch before firing a left-footed shot that took a big deflection off Davinson Sanchez and looped beyond Andre Onana.
Antonio Valencia saw a powerful strike beaten away by Onana but United gradually began to sit deep as Ajax grew into the contest, although they struggled to create any meaningful openings before the break.
And with two minutes played of the second half, they were hit by a United sucker punch. Daley Blind's inswinging corner was headed down by Chris Smalling, and Mkhitaryan – perhaps fortunate to have been left on after a dreadful first-half display – hooked the ball into the roof of the net.
Peter Bosz replaced the anoymous Kasper Dolberg as he sought to give Ajax some much-needed attacking vigour but United wasted a great opening to settle the contest, Fellaini heading straight at Onana after being picked out by Pogba.
Ajax continued to enjoy close to 69 per cent of possession but they offered almost no threat to Romero's goal, as a season in which they surrendered their Eredivisie title to Feyenoord ended in more disappointment.

For EFL Cup winners United – who gave a late run-out to captain Wayne Rooney in what could be his final match for the club –  it was a largely routine but profoundly welcome success that cast a more favourable light on Mourinho's first term in charge and provided a fitting tribute to those grieving at home.

How Man United and Ajax have fared in European finals


Two of the continent’s most illustrious clubs meet in the Europa League final on Wednesday when Manchester United face Ajax in Stockholm.
Here, we take a look at the how the two teams have fared in their previous European finals.
1968 EUROPEAN CUP FINAL – MANCHESTER UNITED 4 BENFICA 1

A decade on from the Munich air disaster, Matt Busby’s team became the first English club to lift the European Cup with a victory over Benfica after extra-time.
1969 EUROPEAN CUP FINAL – AJAX 1 AC MILAN 4
One year after United’s success Ajax became the first Dutch team to reach a European Cup final only to come unstuck due to Pierino Prati’s hat-trick.
1971 EUROPEAN CUP FINAL – AJAX 2 PANATHINAIKOS 0
Ajax returned to the showpiece occasion two years later and this time they emerged victorious thanks to efforts in either half from Dick van Dijk and Arie Haan at Wembley.
1972 EUROPEAN CUP FINAL – AJAX 2 INTER MILAN 0

The defending champions, who had changed managers from Rinus Michels to Stefan Kovacs since their last triumph, made it back-to-back European Cup successes with a brace from Johan Cruyff.
1973 EUROPEAN CUP FINAL – AJAX 1 JUVENTUS 0
The Amsterdam giants’ dominance continued as they won the competition for a third straight year, with their total-football philosophy proving too much for Juve.
1987 EUROPEAN CUP WINNERS’ CUP FINAL – AJAX 1 LOKOMOTIVE LEIPZIG 0

A new generation of Dutch stars emerged to lead Ajax to more silverware as Marco van Basten scored the winner for a team managed by Cruyff himself.
1988 EUROPEAN CUP WINNERS’ CUP FINAL – AJAX 0 MECHELEN 1
Van Basten and Cruyff had both left by the time Ajax returned to the 1988 final and a goal from a Dutchman, Piet den Boer, delivered the trophy for Belgian outfit Mechelen.
1991 EUROPEAN CUP WINNERS’ CUP FINAL – MANCHESTER UNITED 2 BARCELONA 1

In the first season in which English clubs were allowed to play in European competitions again following the Heysel disaster, Mark Hughes’ brace earned Alex Ferguson just his second trophy at the helm.
1992 UEFA CUP FINAL – TORINO 2 AJAX 2; AJAX 0 TORINO 0 (AJAX WIN ON AWAY GOALS)
Ajax followed Juventus in becoming the only clubs to have won all three UEFA cup competitions as Louis van Gaal claimed the first trophy of his managerial career.
1995 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL – AJAX 1 AC MILAN 0

Eighteen-year-old substitute Patrick Kluivert grabbed the winner for Van Gaal’s young side over a Milan outfit in their third straight final.
1996 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL – AJAX 1 JUVENTUS 1 (JUVENTUS WIN 4-2 ON PENALTIES)
A fifth European Cup success eluded Ajax as Edgar Davids and Sonny Silooy had penalties saved.
1999 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL – MANCHESTER UNITED 2 BAYERN MUNICH 1

Ferguson’s men clinched the treble in the most dramatic circumstances having trailed in stoppage time before goals from Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer stunned Bayern.
2008 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL – MANCHESTER UNITED 1 CHELSEA 1 (MANCHESTER UNITED WIN 6-5 ON PENALTIES)
In the first all-English European Cup final, United won on penalties thanks to John Terry’s costly slip and Edwin van der Sar’s save from Nicolas Anelka in the driving rain.
2009 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL – MANCHESTER UNITED 0 BARCELONA 2

United’s quest to become the first team ever to win back-to-back Champions League titles failed at the final hurdle with Lionel Messi outshining Cristiano Ronaldo in Rome.
2011 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL – MANCHESTER UNITED 1 BARCELONA 3
A repeat of the 2009 final produced the same outcome as Pep Guardiola’s great team won again at Wembley in what would be the last final of Ferguson’s reign.

Man Utd star Mata proud of ‘most special medal of career


Manchester United’s Juan Mata says recent events made the Europa League the most special honour of his career to date, but he wants the club to build on it.
Less than 48 hours before kick-off against Ajax in Sweden, an explosion at the end of Ariana Grande’s concert at Manchester Arena killed 22 people and injured many more.
The after effects will be felt for a long time to come but United provided a cathartic, if only temporary, release on Wednesday, winning the Europa League as goals from Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan secured a 2-0 victory.
Mata, like his team-mates, dedicated the triumph to the city he calls home, saying Europa League success meant more than winning the World Cup, European Championship or Champions League given the circumstances.
“This was, I would say, more special than any other trophy because of that,” the Spain international said.
“We felt the suffering and the sadness of the city of Manchester and we tried to give this trophy for them.
“That’s how we felt before the game, that’s how we feel now.
“We feel a bit proud to have done that. Hopefully, they can be happy for at least some hours.”
Mata says United tried to “lift the spirit of the town” at a time when it is not easy not to focus on something as insignificant as football.
In sporting terms, though, this was a key victory at the end of an arduous 64-game season for United.
EFL Cup and Community Shield triumphs had been tempered by stumbling home sixth in the Premier League, meaning lifting the Europa League was their only way of qualifying for the Champions League.
“Today was all or nothing – almost nothing for us,” Mata said, before smiling. “But we got it all.
“We got three trophies, we are playing Champions League next season, so I think it is fair to say it was a great season for us considering all the difficulties we have.
“We play Champions League next season, we could celebrate three trophies and we are happy for that.
“Again, big games that a club like United should always play. Big clubs that me as a player love to play, so I feel really proud to have won my first European trophy with United – but hopefully it is the first of many.”
United will get another shot at a continental trophy when they line up against Real Madrid or Juventus in the Super Cup final in Skopje, Macedonia on August 8.
Big names are likely to arrive at Old Trafford before then as United look to win the Premier League for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson retired four years ago.
“It’s one of the trophies I haven’t won in my career and it would be amazing to win it with United,” former Chelsea favourite Mata said.
“This was about trying to play Champions League next season.
“Hopefully this season is a big step in confidence and thinking about next season, and trying to be better and trying to compete for the Champions League and the Premier League. That’s one of things we need to be better at.
“Obviously in the last games, we focused on this game and we drop some points. But playing for Manchester United we should do better in the Premier League and that’s our aim next season: trying to win it. That’s it.”

Thursday, 18 May 2017

'Man Utd have had their trousers pulled down'

'Man Utd have had their trousers pulled down' - Souness slams Pogba impact
The former Liverpool player is not convinced of the France midfielder's worth and believes Jose Mourinho has no excuse for this season's failings

Manchester United 'had their trousers pulled down' when re-signing midfielder Paul Pogba for a world-record fee of £89 million, says player-turned-pundit Graeme Souness.
Pogba misses Southampton game
Pogba returned to Old Trafford in the summer following a successful four-year stint at Italian champions Juventus and initially struggled to live up to the expectations born from the staggering price tag.
The France international has impressed in spells under Jose Mourinho this season but has had his overall impact has been questioned by many.
Pogba has made 49 appearances across all competitions for United this season, scoring seven goals and creating four assists, but former Liverpool ace Souness is yet to be convinced by his worth.
"United have to pay a premium. For United, stick 25 per cent on the price," Souness told Sky Sports.
"Because it's Man United and they have the money. In my opinion, they had their trousers taken down paying £100 million.
"I'm yet to be convinced by that. He may be a player one day but right now as we sit here after one year in our football, I'm still waiting to be convinced."
Paul Pogba Manchester United
Souness' comments came after United's draw with Southampton on Wednesday, the club's sixth 0-0 in 62 outings under Mourinho.
Gabriel Jesus' stunning record
The Portuguese has pointed blame towards the sheer number of fixtures the club have played this season, however Souness believes the Red Devils are looking for excuses.

"Man up," Souness added. "I'm sorry. These guys have got to perform. Nobody tried to pussyfoot around us. You're no good if you lose next week, deal with it."

Bayern Munich have not made me an offer, insists Paulinho

Bayern Munich have not made me an offer, insists Paulinho
The German giants have been linked with a surprise move for the ex-Tottenham man, but the midfielder has stressed such talk is only speculation

Paulinho insists Bayern Munich have not made an offer to sign him from Chinese champions Guangzhou Evergrande.
Man Utd set new Premier League low
Widespread reports have claimed the Brazil international is a top target of Bayern boss Carlo Ancelotti and that a deal is close.
But Paulinho, who signed a new contract in January until 2020 after Guangzhou made it clear he was crucial to their plans, has stressed there has been no contact from the Bavarian giants.
"It is normal to have a lot of speculation in the football industry but I would like to clarify that I have not received any offers," Paulinho told reporters.
"Contrary to recent rumours, Bayern Munich didn't offer me a deal.
"As a player, I just focus on the games and concentrate on improving myself."

Paulinho, 28, has won two Chinese Super League titles and the AFC Champions League having impressed since signing for Guangzhou from Tottenham in 2015 and has returned to the Brazil squad since the appointment of Tite, his former coach at Corinthians.

Tottenham Team News: Injuries, suspensions and line-up vs Leicester

Tottenham Team News: Injuries, suspensions and line-up vs Leicester
Spurs face the Foxes in a grudge match on Thursday, despite the top of the Premier League table having been settled
Tottenham will finish second in the Premier League this season, but they have a grudge to settle before the season ends.
RUMOURS: Spurs trio want out
Last season Spurs were cast as the villains of Leicester City's fairytale, and eventually crumbled to finish third behind old rivals Arsenal and the Foxes.
Now, Mauricio Pochettino's men are confirmed as the second best team in the Premier League, and they will hope to beat the 11th-placed, and now deposed, champions.

TOTTENHAM INJURIES

Spurs face a major defensive headache against the Foxes, with the club confirming that both Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier will miss the fixture on Thursday.
Lamela has second hip operation
Trippier has suffered a concussion, while Walker has an ankle injury.
Elsewhere, Danny Rose is out for the rest of the season, along with Harry Winks and Erik Lamela.
HD Kyle Walker Tottenham

TOTTENHAM SUSPENSIONS

Spurs have no players suspended for the encounter with Leicester
POTENTIAL TOTTENHAM LINE-UP
Spurs are unlikely to tinker too much with personnel, but Mauricio Pochettino has been presented with an issue at right-back.
Poch dismisses Inter rumours
Both Walker and Trippier are out, and it is perhaps likely that Eric Dier will play at right-back in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Dier has not been deployed as a wing-back under Pochettino, but he has played as an orthodox right-back and thus, a formation change may be necessary.
Victor Wanyama and Mousa Dembele are thus likely to play in midfield, with Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and Son Heung-Min set to support Harry Kane.
Spurs Leicester XI

LEICESTER TEAM NEWS

Leicester have a number of injury worries ahead of the game against Spurs.
Mahrez set to lead Leicester departures
Both Andy King and Robert Huth are doubtful for the encounter, with hamstring and foot injuries respectively.
Danny Drinkwater is likely to be out with a thigh strain, while Wes Morgan and Nampalys Mendy are unlikely to play.
Robert Huth Leicester City

BEST OPTA MATCH FACTS

  • After one home defeat in their first seven home Premier League games against Spurs (W5 D1), Leicester are winless in the last three (D1 L2).
  • Tottenham have won only one of their previous 24 away Premier League games against a reigning champion, with Tim Sherwood's Spurs beating Manchester United in January 2014 (D3 L20).
  • Spurs have won 80 points this season from 36 games and will finish in second place. This points tally is already higher than the second placed side in each of the last two seasons: Arsenal - 71 points in 2015-16 and Manchester City, with 79 points in 2014-15.

TV COVERAGE & KICK-OFF TIME

The game is due to kick off at 19:45 on Tuesday and will be televised live on Sky Sports in the UK.

Losing Willian to Manchester United would be a disaster for Chelsea

Losing Willian to Manchester United would be a disaster for ChelseaThe Blues face a similar situation to the one they had in 2014 as they lost one of their most popular players, with Juan Mata moving to Old Trafford
With Pedro in such good form at Chelsea, Willian finds himself in a situation not dissimilar to that of Juan Mata's back in 2013-14 – and yet again it could be Manchester United who take advantage.
Mata, despite being a fan favourite at Stamford Bridge, was ostracised by Jose Mourinho - now the Spaniard's boss at Old Trafford - and the Portuguese might this time be the benefactor of Willian's comparable scenario.
Mou targets Willian reunion at Man Utd
Once one of the first names on the Blues' teamsheet, the Brazilian's status as a starter has been put under threat by Pedro's best form since his time at Barcelona, while Eden Hazard's displays have made him impossible to dislodge.
But while losing Mata to a desperate Man Utd side led by David Moyes - coupled with a tidy windfall of £37 million - seemed fairly innocuous at the time, selling Willian to a team that next year will surely represent title rivals would be altogether more dangerous.
Despite his paltry tally of starts (only 13 in the Premier League), the Brazilian has recorded one of his most productive seasons to date. Contributing 11 goals in 19 starts across all competitions, the attacker's importance was perhaps highlighted best by two hugely important FA Cup goals against Tottenham.
Juan Mata-Willian
Additionally, a double against Stoke City was vital in a game where Chelsea were struggling to find  a way through, while a stunning counter-attacking goal in the 3-1 away win at Manchester City showed true class on top of grit.
Luiz: Winning the PL is my obsession
Throughout his time at Chelsea, Willian has, in stark contrast, shown a trait Manchester United are currently sorely missing: ruthlessness. Whether he has been on from the start or emerged from the bench, he has made the most of his playing time.
Yet, despite his performances, he rarely starts. Why? Well, Antonio Conte arrived to a bloated squad used to playing in the Champions League, but Chelsea failed to qualify for Europe entirely after last season's tenth-placed finish, leaving several players surplus to requirements.
Averse to squad rotation at Juventus, Conte has maintained the same stance at Stamford Bridge - and to great effect. The Italian gets the best results when he uses his tried and tested starting XI, benefiting from cohesion through a lack of injuries to his core players. As such, Willian and Cesc Fabregas have had to play second fiddle to Pedro and Nemanja Matic.
Now officially qualified for the Champions League, however, the Blues will need all of their best players ahead of a busy fixture schedule next season.
Pedro
Willian was Chelsea's Player of the Season last year and, without him, the picture could have been even more bleak as Conte arrived to fix Mourinho's mess in his first role away from Italy.
He started each of the Blues' first six games of the season under the new boss but then tragically lost his mother whilst on international duty. Conte and his staff then withheld Willian in an astute move to protect their talent.
Tianjin Quanjian deny Diego Costa move
Pedro's run of form since then surprised many and Willian has been battling to regain his spot ever since. He has been a flat-track bully in Chelsea's cup run and devastating off the bench elsewhere, but hasn't quite convinced Conte to tinker with a team that is already successful.
If Manchester United can somehow convince Willian into a move, then Chelsea will face a stronger title rival next season - a team with an experienced Premier League star who is hungry for more glory.

The Blues will resist offers - and that's the right position to take - but Conte may also need to utilise the best of his man-management powers to keep Willian from getting unsettled by the lure of Mourinho.

Cristiano Ronaldo sets record to become all-time top European scorer

Cristiano Ronaldo sets record to become all-time top European scorerThe Real Madrid star scored after 10 minutes away to Celta Vigo to move past Jimmy Greaves and create yet another personal milestone
Cristiano Ronaldo has created history by becoming the all-time top scorer in Europe’s five biggest leagues after netting for Real Madrid against Celta Vigo.
’Messi ahead of great Ronaldo’
The Portuguese superstar opened the scoring after 10 minutes with his 367th league goal to take him past former England international Jimmy Greaves.
Ronaldo collected a pass from Isco on the edge of the area before rifling a left-footed shot inside the post to set another personal landmark.
 
At the weekend, Ronaldo’s first goal against Sevilla took him to 400 goals for Madrid and his second in that game drew him level with Greaves on the all-time list for league goals.
He wasted little time in striking out on his own with his early effort against Celta, which is his 283rd in the league for Madrid, having also scored 84 times in the Premier League for Manchester United.
Ronaldo then moved on to 368 goals when doubling the lead just three minutes into the second half with another clinical finish after again being teed up by Isco.
His Barcelona rival Lionel Messi is lurking behind on the list of players still active as the Argentina international has scored 346 league goals since his 2004 debut.
James could be Man Utd’s Hazard
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the next active player on the list, with his 268 goals putting him at 11th. His goals in England, Spain, Italy and France make him the only player in the top 20 to score in three or more leagues.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Dortmund bus blast treated as 'targeted attack' as police confirm letter found at crime scene

Dortmund bus blast treated as 'targeted attack' as police confirm letter found at crime scene
A letter containing a claim of responsibility has been found at the scene of the explosion that hit the Bundesliga team's bus
Police have found a letter claiming responsibility for what they are describing as a "targeted attack" on the Borussia Dortmund team bus.
The vehicle was damaged as three explosions occurred while the coach was making its way from the team hotel in the Hochsten area of Dortmund to Signal Iduna Park for the Champions League quarter-final first leg with Monaco.
Dortmund-Monaco called off over bomb
Defender Marc Bartra was injured in the incident, with the club later confirming that he had been taken to hospital to have surgery on his wrist.
Police were unable to specify what type of explosives were used but they described the devices as "serious", stating they believed they had been hidden under a hedge next to a car park.
Speaking at a news conference, public prosecutor Sandra Lucke confirmed that the incident was being treated as attempted murder and gave assurances that additional security would be in place on Wednesday, with the match rescheduled for 18:45 local time.
Police chief Gregor Lange said: "This evening, there were three explosions at 7:15 in the area surrounding the hotel in which BVB had been a guest.
"We assume that it was a targeted attack on BVB's team. The services were tasked with securing the crime scene on a large scale.
Borussia Dortmund bus after explosionBorussia Dortmund Monaco police fans
"We decided at a very early stage not to rule anything out. At the present time, the concrete background for this act is not yet clear.
"I would like to express thanks for the good co-operation with BVB. We're preparing for a large-scale operation tomorrow [Wednesday]. The protective measures for the teams have already begun. Bomb detection dogs are still in use."
Lucke added: "The investigation is being carried out based on suspicion of attempted murder. A letter was found near the crime scene. We are checking its authenticity intensively.
"We found someone taking responsibility for the attack in the letter. Due to the investigation, we cannot comment further on this.
"Another object that did not explode was found. Our current point of view is that it was a dummy."

Painful night for Barcelona, says Ter Stegen

Painful night for Barcelona, says Ter Stegen
The goalkeeper wants to focus on facing Real Sociedad before thinking about the second leg against Juventus
Marc-Andre ter Stegen has described Barcelona's Champions League defeat by Juventus as a "painful night" for the club.
Juve romped to a 3-0 victory in the first leg of their quarter-final tie, Paulo Dybala scoring twice in the first half before Giorgio Chiellini added a header after the break.
Ter Stegen thinks it is best for Barca's players to discuss what went wrong internally, but acknowledged the loss had hurt.
"It was a painful night," the goalkeeper told the club's website.
"The first half especially was far from perfect. There are things we need to work on improving.
"I think it would be better for us to speak among ourselves. We know the first half wasn't perfect, we need to lift our heads up and start planning for the next challenge.
"I hope the fans will come out and support us for the second leg."
Before trying to replicate their famous comeback from the previous round against Paris Saint-Germain, Barca face Real Sociedad in La Liga at Camp Nou on Saturday.
"First we have to think about the league," said Ter Stegen.
"I know how tough this is for the fans, but now we have to think about getting some rest."

Dortmund confirm Bartra surgery 'went well' as Watzke issues rallying cry

Dortmund confirm Bartra surgery 'went well' as Watzke issues rallying cry
The Bundesliga side's players trained on Wednesday morning ahead of their rescheduled Champions League tie with Monaco
Marc Bartra's wrist surgery "went well" after the defender was injured in the explosion that appeared to target the team's bus ahead of their Champions League match against Monaco.
Bartra seriously injured in bus attack
Bartra was the only person hurt in the incident, which happened as the coach left the team hotel ahead of Tuesday's quarter-final first leg.
Police were unable to specify what type of explosives were used, but they described the devices as "serious", suggesting they had been hidden under a hedge next to a car park.
The match was subsequently postponed and re-arranged for Wednesday, with Dortmund holding a training session ahead of the game.
Dortmund had confirmed Bartra would undergo an operation on his broken wrist and club president Reinhard Rauball provided a positive update.
"We have heard that everything went well," he told n-tv.
’Dortmund bus blast a targeted attack’
Meanwhile, Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke visited the team prior to their training session and issued a rallying cry to everyone associated with the club.
"I have just told the team in the dressing room to show society that we will not bow to terror," Watzke told the club's website.
Borussia Dortmund
Dortmund players after explosion
"The BVB family was particularly strong when it had to cope with difficult situations.
"This is perhaps the most difficult situation we have had in the past decades and I am sure that we will show ourselves as BVB as strong and united as never before.
"We do not just play for us. We play for everyone. No matter whether Borussian, Bavarian or Schalke.
Mkhitaryan sends Dortmund support
"We want to show that terror and hatred can never determine our actions. And of course we play for Marc Bartra, who wants to see his team win!
"We ask all BVB fans to support our team with full energy for 90 minutes."
The local police force – Polizei Nordrhein-Westfalen Dortmund – confirmed on Wednesday that the federal prosecutor's office for Germany has taken over the investigation.
The office will hold a media conference at 14:00 CET to provide an update on the case.
Messages of support have flooded in from across the world of football, including from former Dortmund player Henrikh Mkhitaryan, now at Manchester United, who tweeted the club his best wishes on Wednesday.
Mkhitaryan made 140 appearances for the German club over three seasons before joining Manchester United last summer.

The latest rumours from Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal and all the top teams

Eden Hazard Diego Costa Chelsea
Goal summarises the biggest transfer talk from the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, the Bundesliga and beyond

KEY DUO TO LEAVE CHELSEA


Eden Hazard Diego Costa Chelsea
Both Eden Hazard and Diego Costa are set to leave Chelsea this summer, according to The Sun.
Real Madrid are increasingly confident of completing a £100 million move for Hazard while Costa wants to leave England and is set to join a Chinese Super League side.

CITY PLOT MENDY MOVE


Benjamin Mendy
Manchester City are set to make a bid for Monaco defender Benjamin Mendy, according to France Football.
Pep Guardiola is keen to rejuvenate his backline next season and is hopeful of completing a quick deal for the full-back.

BAYERN IN PAULINHO TALKS


Paulinho Brazil
Bayern Munich have held talks with Guangzhou Evergrande midfielder Paulinho regarding a summer move, according to RMC.
The Brazil international has been in great form recently, and Carlo Ancelotti has been impressed with the former Tottenham man's versatility.

ZAHA TOPS CITY SHORTLIST


Wilfried Zaha, Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace winger Wilfred Zaha is top of Manchester City's summer transfer wishlist, according to The Sun.
Pep Guardiola has been impressed by the Ivory Coast international and is ready to battle Tottenham for his signature.

CITY LEADING ALEXIS CHASE


Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal
Manchester City have pulled out in front in the race to sign Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal, established Chilean daily Cooperativa reports.
Until recently, reports had placed Chelsea at the head of the queue in the attacker's ongoing transfer saga, but it is claimed that Pep Guardiola's side are prepared to shell out £50 million for Sanchez's services, with the 28-year-old set to bank upwards of £200,000 per week in the prime years of his career.

MAN CITY JOIN LACAZETTE CHASE


Alexandre Lacazette AS Roma Europa League 09032017
Manchester City have joined Arsenal in the hunt for £40 million Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette, according to the Daily Mirror.
The France international is expected to be on the move this summer, with Atletico Madrid also weighing up a big-money approach.

MADRID TO SELL ONE OF BBC


Karim Benzema Gareth Bale Cristiano Ronaldo Isco Real Madrid
Real Madrid are prepared to sell one of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale or Karim Benzema this summer, reports Don Balon.
The Santiago Bernabeu board are said to have been unimpressed by recent showings and are ready to freshen up their forward line.

MAN UTD PLOT OZIL RAID


Mesut Ozil Arsenal
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is plotting a shock summer move for Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil, according to the Daily Mirror.
German midfielder Ozil played under Mourinho at Real Madrid and, with 12 months left on his contract in June, the Gunners could sell to their Premier League rivals in a big enough offer is tabled.
Arsenal famously sold star striker Robin van Persie to Old Trafford when Sir Alex Ferguson was in charge, then watched their former player win the title that had eluded him with Man Utd the following season.

ARSENAL SCOUTING PICKFORD


Jordan Pickford, Sunderland
Arsenal have sent scouts to watch Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, according to Sunderland Echo.
The Gunners have been impressed by the England Under-21 international's performances this season, but they would likely face competition for his signature this summer.
Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United and Everton have all shown an interest in the former Preston North End loanee.

 MADRID PLAN GRIEZMANN MOVE


Antoine Griezmann
Real Madrid are making plans to move for Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann at the end of next season, according to L'Equipe.
The France international insists he will not leave the Rojiblancos this summer, but their city rivals believe the player could be tempted by the package they are putting together in 2018.

MARSEILLE WANT GIROUD


Olivier Giroud
Marseille want to capitalise on Olivier Giroud's lack of starts for Arsenal by tempting the striker to return to Ligue 1, according to France Football.
The club now owned by American businessman Frank McCourt have already signed France internationals Dimitri Payet and Patrice Evra, and Giroud is next on their list.

ARSENAL CONSIDER CHILEAN STARLET


Marcelo Allende - Chile U17
Arsenal are considering offering a contract to Chilean youngster Marcelo Allende after he turned 18 on Friday, according to the Daily Mirror.
Allende, who currently plays for Deportes Santa Cruz in his home country, has spent time on trial with the Gunners but is unable to sign for the club until his 18th birthday due to FIFA regulations.

MAN UTD'S €60M PERISIC OFFER 


Ivan Perisic Inter Crotone
Manchester United are planning a massive move for Inter winger Ivan Perisic, but face competition from Chelsea, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.
Jose Mourinho is a big fan of the former Borussia Dortmund star and are ready to offer €60 million this summer, but Antonio Conte has been convinced by the 28-year-old and a bidding war could be imminent.

INTER APPROACH SPALLETTI


Luciano Spalletti Palermo Roma Serie A 03122017
Inter have approached Roma coach Luciano Spalletti to take over from Stefano Pioli at the end of the season, according to SportItalia.
The former Zenit boss has been linked with a move to Juventus should Massimiliano Allegri leave, but after reports that Antonio Conte looks set to stay at Chelsea emerged, the Nerazzurri have already been in contact with him.

ARSENAL TO SWOOP FOR GORETZKA


Leon Goretzka Schalke
Arsenal are preparing to make a move for Schalke midfielder Leon Goretzka, The Sun reports.
The 22-year-old joined the Gelsenkirchen side from Bochum in 2013 and has impressed over recent seasons, chipping in with six goals in all competitions this term. With his contract expiring in June 2018 and yet to agree to a new one with the German side, Arsenal are reportedly monitoring his situation, though he could cost around £21 million.

GRIEZMANN MAY SNUB MAN UTD


Antoine Griezmann
Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann is prepared to turn down an £89 million move to Manchester United if the club fails to make the Champions League, says The Sun.
The France international is still considered to be a top target for the Red Devils, but Real Madrid are also keen and the 26-year-old has stated no desire to move on.

CHELSEA CLOSE IN ON LUKAKU


Romelu Lukaku Everton
Everton's Romelu Lukaku is closing in on a transfer to former club Chelsea, according to a report from Sky Italia, via Calciomercato.
The Belgian is establishing himself as one of the top centre-forwards in European football, hitting over 15 Premier League goals for the fourth time in his five full seasons.
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte is preparing for life after Diego Costa as the Brazilian-born Spain international looks set to leave the club in the summer, with Lukaku leading the Stamford Bridge attack once more now a real possibility.

ARSENAL IN TALKS WITH COMAN


Kingsley Coman
Arsenal have opened talks with Juventus in regards to a summer transfer for attacker Kingsley Coman, according to Telefoot.
The 20-year-old has spent the past two seasons on loan at Bayern Munich and is set to be at the centre of a transfer battle at the end of the season, with Chelsea and Manchester City both thought to have had £50 million bids turned down.
Coman, a senior France international, graduated through the Paris Saint-Germain academy before signing a five-year contract with Italian champions Juventus in 2014.

LIVERPOOL WANT THEO


HD Theo Hernandez
Liverpool are set to go up against Real Madrid for the signature of Atletico Madrid left-back Theo Hernandez, according to a report from The Independent.
The 19-year-old, who is the younger brother of Atletico centre-back Lucas, has made 25 La Liga appearances for loan side Alaves this season and could command a fee of up to £20 million should he be sold.
Jurgen Klopp is determined to find a long-term solution to the left side of his defence ahead of next season, with the Atletico man topping his shortlist.

 PEP & MOU CONTACT ALEXIS


Alexis Sanchez Arsenal
Both Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola have spoken to Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez regarding summer moves, according to Prensa Futbol.
The Chile international is keen to leave the Emirates Stadium at the end of the season and both Manchester clubs are keen on adding him to their ranks.