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first_imgNRL Touch Football’s major partner, Harvey Norman, has a great deal for members through the TFA website and newsletter. The Samsung Galaxy Gear Fit2 Smart Watch is now available at Harvey Norman. Featuring a combination of smartwatch and fitness tracker features, the Samsung Galaxy Gear Fit 2 Smart Watch helps you to feel like you can conquer anything.Harvey Norman is exclusively offering our TFA members a Samsung Galaxy Gear Fit2 Smart Watch – Dark Grey at a low price of $238. For more information or to purchase your Samsung Galaxy Gear Fit2 Smart Watch, please click here.Stay tuned to the TFA website and newsletter for greater Connected Health and Fitness deals from Harvey Norman. Related LinksHarvey Norman Promotionlast_img

‘Ronaldo only wanted to play for Juventus’

first_imgCristiano Ronaldo “only wanted to play for Juventus”, claims his agent Jorge Mendes, with the decision taken to leave Real Madrid for Serie A in January.A big-money move for the Portuguese had been mooted for several years before a deal was finally done over the summer.Few clubs boasted the ambition and financial muscle to put an agreement in place, but Italian giants Juve formed part of an exclusive club. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Ronaldo has made no secret of his admiration for the Bianconeri since joining their books, with the Turin outfit one he always hoped would form part of his illustrious career.Mendes was able to make that dream a reality, with there only one destination considered once a five-time Ballon d’Or winner made it clear that he wanted out of the Santiago Bernabeu.“In January 2018, I and the few people who knew what was happening thought it would be very difficult to bring Cristiano Ronaldo to Juve,” Mendes told Rai Sport.“However, I want to make it clear that the idea started with the player himself. Ronaldo told me he only wanted to play for Juventus.“That’s where it began and I was in talks with the Bianconeri directors for months, so we all know how those negotiations ended up.“Now Cristiano is happy with the club and his team-mates, he is satisfied with Serie A and truly happy at Juventus.”Ronaldo has contributed 12 goals to the Juve cause this season, across 21 appearances in all competitions.Those efforts have helped to establish a standing back at the top of Serie A, while also progressing through to the last 16 of the Champions League.“Many have asked me about Juve and the Champions League. It will take a bit of luck to win it too, but Cristiano Ronaldo’s arrival has certainly made Juventus stronger,” added Mendes.“I’d say all of Italian football has benefited from his presence.”Ronaldo will be back in action on Saturday against Roma, with Massimiliano Allegri having revealed that plans to rest the 33-year-old continue to be pushed back.last_img read more

Report: Bournemouth 2 Brighton 0

first_imgDavid Brooks scored both goals as Bournemouth ended a three-game losing run in all competitions with a 2-0 Premier League win over Brighton and Hove Albion.A fine finish in each half from the 21-year-old secured all three points for Eddie Howe’s side, who had lost back-to-back league matches before going down 1-0 to Chelsea in the EFL Cup this week.Brighton were unlucky to be behind after a good first-half showing, but they rarely looked likely to get back into the game once Lewis Dunk was sent off with 17 minutes of normal time remaining. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Chris Hughton’s side have now failed to beat Bournemouth since a 3-2 win in England’s third tier back in January 2008.Asmir Begovic made good saves to deny Yves Bissouma and Jurgen Locadia before Brooks broke the deadlock 21 minutes in, beating Leon Balogun before blasting home left-footed from the edge of the area.It was a goal that was at odds with Brighton’s control over much of the first half, and only another fine sprawling stop from Begovic prevented Dunk from heading in an equaliser before the interval.Bournemouth assumed control over proceedings after the break, though, and Brighton’s task appeared to be beyond them when Dunk was given a second booking for lunging to trip up Callum Wilson.Brooks made certain of the win four minutes later, racing to meet substitute Ryan Fraser’s cross and looping a header over Mat Ryan and into the right-hand corner of the net.What does it mean? Bournemouth in top eight for ChristmasA run of seven defeats in their last eight games, and no goals scored in their last three, had left Bournemouth feeling a little blue ahead of the Christmas period.However, this victory over their south-coast rivals means they will be in the top eight of the table come December 25, which fans would almost certainly have signed on for before the season started.Brighton have a nine-point cushion to the bottom three, but Hughton will be a little concerned by how little his side threatened in the second half after playing so well in the first.Brooks shows a clinical touchBrooks’ goals each showcased a very difficult skill that this impressive young winger managed to make look easy. He is fast becoming Bournemouth’s most important player.Dunk leaves Brighton in troubleDunk’s crude attempt to stop Wilson running away from him left the visitors with little chance of salvaging a result, and his imminent suspension comes at a time when Shane Duffy has been banned for the last three games. Not ideal for Hughton.Key Opta Facts- Bournemouth registered a clean sheet in the Premier League for the first time in eight games, since a 3-0 win against Fulham in October.- Hughton has never beaten Bournemouth in his managerial career, losing four and drawing once (all while in charge of Brighton). – Brooks has netted five goals in his last 11 league appearances, after managing just three in his previous 35.- Josh King has been directly involved in 44 Premier League goals for Bournemouth (35 goals, 9 assists), 10 more than any other player (Wilson on 34). What’s next?Bournemouth head to Wembley to take on Tottenham on Boxing Day, while Brighton host Arsenal read morelast_img read more

Report: Huddersfield 1 So’ton 3

first_imgRalph Hasenhuttl’s resuscitation of Southampton gathered momentum as they climbed three points clear of the Premier League drop zone with a 3-1 win at Huddersfield Town.The Saints led from the 15th minute through Nathan Redmond and navigated a nervy spell in the second half to deservedly prevail in a match with clear relegation implications.Danny Ings, twice on target in last weekend’s 3-2 victory over Arsenal, converted his side’s second from the spot before half-time and it proved a decisive buffer. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Philip Billing’s bamboozling of Alex McCarthy briefly offered the Terriers a lifeline in the 58th minute but, as is often the case, they failed to build on a positive period and were consigned to a fifth straight Premier League loss when teenager Michael Obafemi buried his first professional goal.The confidence Southampton gained from overcoming Arsenal was evident in Redmond’s emphatic finish for the opener, the winger punishing Terence Kongolo’s ungainly attempt at cutting out Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s pass.28 – Nathan Redmond has scored his first Premier League goal of the season with his 28th shot. Persistence. #HUDSOU pic.twitter.com/no0V8teC4V — OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 22, 2018 Huddersfield were struggling to exert any kind of attacking threat and another defensive blunder cost them three minutes before the break.Mathias Jorgensen miscontrolled Ings’ wayward pass and compounded his error by tripping the Saints striker, who coolly sent Jonas Lossl the wrong way from the spot.McCarthy made an instinctive save from Jorgensen’s close-range header soon after the interval but the goalkeeper was far less impressive in allowing Billing’s swerving shot to beat him.That instigated a period of Huddersfield pressure that was relieved through a third mistake at the back.Christopher Schindler was all too easily robbed of possession, Redmond selflessly squared and substitute Obafemi was on hand to tuck away a landmark goal, leaving the hapless hosts four points from safety.That first #PL goal feeling #HUDSOU pic.twitter.com/J3yVYJGXLc— Premier League (@premierleague) December 22, 2018What does it mean? Terriers in serious troubleSouthampton scoring three times for the second straight match made Huddersfield’s attacking woes all the more regrettable.Still, that concern will fade to minor irritation for manager David Wagner in comparison to the headaches served up by his defence, who could have prevented each goal.Hojbjerg at the heart of Saints’ successSouthampton were blessed with several impressive performers and chief among them was Hojbjerg.Wearing the captain’s armband, the former Bayern Munich man was a real leader in midfield as he got through a power of defensive work while registering an assist for Redmond’s opener.Jorgensen sets poor standardA defender of Jorgensen’s experience should have known better than to have been sucked into the challenge that allowed Ings to double the margin in the first half.The mistake plunged Huddersfield into a hole they were unable to escape from, and losing more than half of his duels did little to help.Key Opta Facts- Southampton have registered back-to-back Premier League wins for the first time since April 2017, when they were managed by Claude Puel.- Huddersfield have lost nine of their last 12 home Premier League games (W1 D2), netting just four goals in that time.- Hasenhuttl has won two of his three Premier League matches in charge of Southampton (L1) – only one fewer than Mark Hughes managed in 22 attempts as Saints boss.- Since the start of last season, Huddersfield have had more different players booked for diving than any other Premier League team (4 – Rajiv van La Parra, Alex Pritchard, Laurent Depoitre and Chris Lowe).What’s next? Huddersfield must contend with a daunting trip to Old Trafford on Boxing Day, while Southampton will eye a result at home to West Ham the following day. read morelast_img read more

Barcelona vs Celta team news: Messi starts

first_imgBarcelona will seek to tighten their grip on first place in the Primera Division on Saturday when they play host to Celta Vigo.The Catalans go into the fixture fresh from thumping away wins against Espanyol (4-0) and Levante (5-0) and having had the rare luxury of a full week to prepare for the fixture.Thereafter, they will have a couple of weeks off before meeting Getafe in La Liga, but in order to enjoy the festive period as fully as possible, they must overcome midtable Celta. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Game Barcelona vs Celta Date Saturday, December 22 Time 5:30pm GMT / 12:30pm ET Stream (US) fubo TV (7-day free trial) TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch In the United States (US), the game can be watched live and on-demand with fuboTV (7-day free trial) . New users can sign up for a free seven-day trial of the live sports streaming service, which can be accessed via iOS, Android, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV as well as on a web browser. US TV channel Online stream beIN Sports fubo TV (7-day free trial) In the United Kingdom (UK), the game will not be shown on television but can be streamed on Eleven Sports 2. UK TV channel Online stream N/A Eleven Sports 2 Squads & Team News Position Barcelona squad Goalkeepers Ter Stegen, Cillessen Defenders Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba, Miranda Midfielders Rakitic, Busquets, Roberto, Vidal, Denis Suarez, Arthur, Alena Forwards Messi, Luis Suarez, Coutinho, Dembele, Munir Thomas Vermaelen suffered a fresh injury setback this week while Samuel Umtiti is still sidelined. On the plus side, Nelson Semedo is fit and gets a starting berth.Barcelona starting XI: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Vidal; Messi, L. Suarez, Dembele.Subs: Cillessen, Alena, Brandariz, Coutinho, Miranda, Arthur, D. Suarez. Position Celta squad Goalkeepers Ruben Blanco, Alvarez Defenders Araujo, Costas, Roncaglia, Cabral, Alonso, Mazan, Mallo, Vazquez Midfielders Lobotka, Yokuslu, Radoja, Beltran, Jensen, Sanchez, Mendez, Boufal Forwards Sisto, Mor, Hjulsager, Gomez, Aspas, Eckert Celta have a full squad available for this encounter with the exception of the suspended left-back David Junca. Celta starting XI: Ruben Blanco; Mallo, Araujo, Costas, Mazan; Mendez, Yokuslu, Jozabed, Boufal; Aspas, Gomez.Subs: Alvarez, Beltran, Cabral, Hjulsager, Lobotka, Sisto, Kevin.Betting & Match Odds Barcelona have been made hot 1/8 favourites with bet365. A draw is priced at 8/1 while a Celta win is a long shot at 20/1.Click here to see more offers for the game, including goalscoring markets, correct score predictions and more .Match Preview Lionel Messi Barcelona 2018-19They may have one last outing of 2018, but Barcelona’s thoughts are already drifting towards the future.On Thursday, it was confirmed that they will sign Jeison Murillo on loan from Valencia in the January transfer window to reinforce their defence, while the Camp Nou side have also been tipped to pounce for Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Adrien Rabiot.Barca have kept three successive cleansheets in the Primera Division, but the spine of their squad remains paper thin and needs reinforcing.At the other end of the pitch, though, Lionel Messi continues on his merry way, having shone once again last weekend in a 5-0 destruction of Levante. The Argentine’s hat-trick carried him over the 50-goal barrier for 2018 – a figure he has achieved in eight of the last nine years – and means he has won more top-flight matches than any other player in the club’s history.“I don’t know how to label him. I don’t know how to answer the most repeated question,” head coach Ernesto Valverde said, clearly having run out of superlatives for the South American, who finished only fifth in the recent the 2018 Ballon d’Or voting.“He’s the one who makes us play, who gives us amazing goals … we just have to enjoy him.”Indeed, so prolific has Messi been alongside strike partner Luis Suarez, the duo have accumulated more goals than both Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid this season.Celta’s task is to somehow find a way of halting this juggernaut, but the Galicians are confident.“The game comes at a good time because we’re in the middle of a good run of results and play, despite the recent draw against Leganes,” midfielder Jozabed Sanchez said. “Additionally, in recent years we’ve been able to make things difficult for them.”Celta may be undefeated in their last three league matches, but the likes of Huesca, Villarreal and Leganes do not measure up to the size and quality of Barca. Indeed, the last time Celta faced one of the league’s big guns, they went down 4-2 to Real Madrid at home. Barcelona, therefore, remain hot favourites – particularly with Messi in such fantastic form.last_img read more

Win I’m a genius, lose not so good – Guardiola

first_imgPep Guardiola has defended his decision to start Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero on the bench as Manchester City fell further behind Premier League leaders Liverpool with a 3-2 defeat to Crystal Palace.De Bruyne came on to score a fortuitous 85th-minute goal on Saturday, but the damage had already been done. Jeffrey Schlupp’s first-half goal cancelled out Ilkay Gundogan’s opener and an Andros Townsend wonder strike was added to by Luka Milivojevic’s penalty.The result means City are four points behind Liverpool at the summit, with back-to-back trips to Leicester City and Southampton to come before they host Jurgen Klopp’s side on January 3. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Aguero, who replaced Nicolas Otamendi as Guardiola chased the game at 2-1, and De Bruyne started the midweek Carabao Cup triumph at Leicester City following recent lay-offs, while Guardiola watched John Stones turn in a mixed performance at the base of his midfield in Fernandinho’s injury-enforced absence.”When you win I am a genius, when you lose I am not good,” City’s manager told a post-match news conference.”I don’t know what would happen if Kevin starts or Sergio starts. Dinho is injured, yesterday he felt that problem. John played so good in Leicester [in the unfamiliar position] so I wanted to give another option for [defending] long balls.”He played good except for one ball. I admire and give credit to people who try and adapt to positions they are not used to.”With a hectic and now pivotal period to come in his team’s title defence, Guardiola denied he was being overly cautious with two of his prized assets.”Of course he could have played – I decide to play the other ones,” he said of De Bruyne, whose action has been limited by a pair of medial knee ligament injuries this season, although the Belgium star now has two goals in as many appearances.”Gabriel [Jesus] scored two goals in the last game here versus Everton. Sergio needs more time to get rhythm.”Kevin’s condition is better. We put in six or seven players with fresh legs. That is going to happen in the future.”When you have a lot of games, everyone has to play. The guys who played did absolutely everything.” Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.last_img read more

‘Welcome back Man Utd’ – Fans react to Solskjaer debut

first_imgWelcome back Manchester United. Thanks Ole for the attacking football, we were all missing it. Let’s hope that it last. Exciting times ahead. #MUFC #1MUN— Man United Source (@1ManUnitedNews) December 22, 2018 If the Premier League had started on the day that Ole Gunnar Solskjær took over at Old Trafford, @ManUtd would be top. 🥴— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) December 22, 2018 First time Man Utd have scored 5 goals in one game, since the days of Sir Alex Ferguson! Brilliant from solskjaer! Man Utd sign him up on that long term contract right now!!!!👀— Jermaine Jenas (@jjenas8) December 22, 2018 Amazing turn around already for United, give Solskjær the permanent job imho.— Spurs Stat Man (@SpursStatMan) December 22, 2018 Five goals scored for the first time since under Sir Alex Ferguson in the Premier League. Forgot what that felt like. Here’s to more under Ole Gunnar Solskjær.— Liam Canning (@LiamPaulCanning) December 22, 2018 You’re being naive if you don’t think José Mourinho’s Manchester United would have scored five against Cardiff. Okay, it might taken them six or seven matches to get there but still.— Jonny Sharples (@JonnyGabriel) December 22, 2018 Manchester United never scored more than four goals in a game during Jose Mourinho’s 144 matches in charge.They have done it in their first game after his sacking.— Daniel Storey (@danielstorey85) December 22, 2018 Manchester United 5… Fergie days back in one game!!! #MUFC— Kris Voakes (@krisvoakes) December 22, 2018 Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer enjoyed a five-star debut as Manchester United manager.The former United striker oversaw a thumping 5-1 win over his former charges, Cardiff City.A Jesse Lingard double, as well as goals from Marcus Rashford, Ander Herrera and Anthony Martial, gave Solskjaer the perfect start to his time in the dugout. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? And fans are already champing at the bit to see United back in action, while a number of cheeky Tottenham fans hope that Solskjaer’s form continues, so Mauricio Pochettino remains in north London.last_img read more

Solskjaer starts with most potent post-Fergie performance

first_imgOle Gunnar Solskjaer has opened his Manchester United reign with the club’s most productive attacking performance in the Premier League since Sir Alex Ferguson.The Red Devils have endured a rather humbling fall from grace since an iconic manager slipped into retirement back in 2013.David Moyes struggled to fill the shoes of a fellow Scot, while Louis van Gaal won few admirers with his brand of football. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Jose Mourinho briefly threatened to return former glories to Old Trafford, as he landed three trophies in his debut campaign, but the Portuguese soon lost his Midas touch.He was relieved of his managerial duties earlier this week, with Solskjaer appointed in his place on an interim basis through to the end of the season.The Norwegian saw his tenure get off to a dream start on Saturday as United swept to a 5-1 victory over Cardiff .Marcus Rashford set the tone with an opening goal inside three minutes , and the Red Devils did not look back from there.Ander Herrera, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard, who bagged a brace, also got in on the act against the Bluebirds.Not since Ferguson’s final game in charge over five years ago have United been so prolific in the final third, with Solskjaer laying down an impressive early marker as he seeks to follow in the footsteps of a coach he tasted Treble success under in 1999.5 – Man Utd have scored 5+ goals in a Premier League game for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson’s final match in charge in May 2013 versus West Brom (5-5). Gunnar. #CARMUN pic.twitter.com/uc9jYCKv0C — OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 22, 2018 United and Solskjaer still have plenty of work to do if they are to salvage their season, but they could not have got a new era off to a better start.They remain sixth in the Premier League table for now, but belief and positivity is flooding back.An eight-point gap will need to be bridged if they are to force their way back into the top four, but that challenge now looks slightly less daunting.This is, however, not the first time that a United boss has burst out of the blocks.In fact, four of the five men to have taken the reins since Ferguson left have enjoyed goal-laden openings.Moyes saw United hit four on his bow, Mourinho three, Ryan Giggs four during a brief spell as caretaker and Solskjaer now has five to his name.The Red Devils will be looking to prove that their performance in South Wales was no flash in the pan, while building further momentum, when they play host to Huddersfield on Boxing Day. Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.last_img read more

‘This is just the start’ – Rashford delighted with Solskjaer debut

first_imgManchester United star Marcus Rashford has told fans that there is more to come after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s tenure on the bench started in style on Saturday.Solskjaer stepped into the breach this week on an interim basis after Jose Mourinho was sacked from his post as club manager.A cult hero during his playing days at Old Trafford, the Norwegian has been tasked with turning round a disappointing start to the Premier League season which has seen United lose touch with the first four. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? And he enjoyed a dream start at the weekend, as his new charges romped to a 5-1 victory away to Cardiff City.Rashford netted the first goal of the Solskjaer era just three minutes in, while Ander Herrera, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard, who hit twice, completed the scoring.And the striker was delighted with the new boss’ impact.”He wants us to be positive on the ball and always look for the gaps. That was just the start. We’re going to improve and get better at it,” he signalled to BT Sport.”The Christmas period is very busy so it is about recovering and making sure we’re ready for the next games. We have to keep improving and go up another level.”Lingard was also pleased with what he saw from United, pointing to a more positive attitude on the pitch which paid dividends.”The lads played with a lot of energy, enjoyment and excitement. We scored five goals, which is good,” the winger stated.”When you’ve got confidence, you put yourselves in positions to score goals. That’s what we did.“We were playing higher and the full-backs were higher. We pinned them back and created a lot of chances.”United remain in sixth place after their victory, although they closed the gap on fourth-placed Chelsea to eight points after the Blues came unstuck against Leicester City. Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.last_img read more

Mane praises Van Dijk as one of the world’s best

first_imgLiverpool attacker Sadio Mane praised Virgil van Dijk for his impact at the club, saying the Dutchman had proven to be one of the world’s best defenders.Van Dijk was signed by Liverpool from Southampton for a reported £75million in January, putting him under pressure to deliver.But the 27-year-old has starred under Jurgen Klopp, whose team hold a four-point lead atop the Premier League. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Mane, who has seven league goals and an assist this season, said Van Dijk’s fee had been forgotten thanks to his performances.”It’s been a big, big impact. We’ve all seen it. Of course at the time he signed people were thinking that the club had overpaid for Virgil,” he told reporters.”But since then everyone has forgotten about the fee because his form has been so good.”He’s done such a great job for us back there. I am so happy to have him as a team-mate.”He’s one of the leaders. You can see it in every single game. He has proved he’s one of the best defenders in the world.”Passion.   pic.twitter.com/wLAObDoa5P — Liverpool FC (@LFC) December 22, 2018 Van Dijk scored his first Premier League goal for Liverpool during their 2-0 win over Wolves on Friday and Mane was quick to top fun at his team-mate. “I said to Virgil: ‘Finally, you have scored in the Premier League for us!’” Mane joked.“It had been a long time. Everyone is happy for him and he’s such a good player that I’m sure that more goals will follow for him.”Liverpool got a bit of help on Saturday with Crystal Palace taking a win over Manchester City, and Jurgen Klopp’s men now hold a four-point lead atop the Premier League. They’ll be back in action quickly, with Newcastle up next on Boxing Day and a clash with Arsenal to come on December 29 to close out 2018.  Subscribe to Goal’s Liverpool Correspondent Neil Jones’ weekly email bringing you the best Liverpool FC writing from around the weblast_img read more

Barca confirm further ‘conservative treatment’ for Umtiti

first_imgSamuel Umtiti will return to Barcelona on December 30 for further “conservative treatment” on his knee after undergoing therapy in Qatar.The France international last featured for Barca almost a month ago in Barca’s 1-1 draw at Atletico Madrid on November 24, but a persistent knee issue has troubled him ever since.Umtiti had been having treatment with specialists in Qatar ever since the end of November. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? He has played just seven times in La Liga this term, having also missed two months when the knee injury first flared up in September.Barca have been severely impacted by injuries at centre-back this term, with Clement Lenglet and Gerard Pique the only fit senior players for the position in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Celta Vigo.The club are yet to give a return date for Umtiti, though they will be helped by the loan signing of Jeison Murillo in January.A club statement on Umtiti’s return to Spain read: “Samuel Umtiti was evaluated by the club’s medical services staff at the team’s training centre this morning due to the discomfort in his left knee.”Samuel Umtiti will return on December 30 to continue undergoing conservative treatment on his knee.”This conservative treatment plan was announced on December 2, with the goal of allowing him to heal his left knee discomfort.”The player was in Doha, Qatar in recent weeks for physical therapy treatment under the supervision of the club’s medical services staff.”last_img read more

Nainggolan suspended by Inter for ‘disciplinary reasons’

first_imgRadja Nainggolan has been suspended by Inter for “disciplinary reasons”, the Serie A club announced on Sunday.The Belgian midfielder only joined Inter in June from Roma in a deal reported to be worth €38 million (£34m/$43) plus Nicolo Zaniolo, though he has failed to live up to expectations.Nainggolan has scored two goals in 11 Serie A outings, with Inter currently sitting third in the table. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? But he looks unlikely to feature in their next few games following Inter’s shock announcement that he will be barred from “football activity”.Inter’s statement read: “Inter can confirm that Radja Nainggolan has been temporarily suspended from football activity for disciplinary reasons.”FC Internazionale Milano statementhttps://t.co/DlYdH0cZg4 #FCIM — Inter (@Inter_en) December 23, 2018 The news comes at the end of a difficult week for the combative midfielder, as it was reported on Thursday that a gang had been falsifying his cheques and managed to rob him of approximately €150,000.According to reports, an investigation into the crime is then claimed to have found Nainggolan suffered significant losses at a casino.Inter have not stated the reasons for Nainggolan’s suspension, but he has long been seen as a contentious figure in Italian football.The extravagant character referred to himself as “normal” rather than a “bad boy” in an interview last month, though he has often attracted criticism for smoking, partying and drinking.He was left out of Belgium’s World Cup squad as he failed to convince Roberto Martinez he was worthy of a place, with the pair having had a rocky relationship during the Spaniard’s time in charge.Reports in the Italian media suggest Nainggolan’s punishment is for arriving late to training.last_img read more

Pochettino: Spurs can be real title contender

first_imgMauricio Pochettino believes Tottenham have a role to play in this season’s title race after claiming a fourth Premier League win in a row.Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min both scored twice as Spurs ran out 6-2 winners against Everton at Goodison Park.The north Londoners came from behind to win for the 18th time in the top flight under Pochettino, and took their points tally after conceding the first goal to 70. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Victory takes Tottenham within two points of defending champions Manchester City and four behind leaders Liverpool.And despite the calibre of the opposition ahead of them in the table, Pochettino says his side remain in the title picture.“Football is about being consistent, if we are able to be consistent and play in the way we played tonight, yes, maybe we will arrive in April as a real contender,” he told the media.“I am proud of the way we played. “I am so pleased and very proud of the performance and energy we showed today. I am pleased about the result, but of course the performance comes first.“But there is still a long way to go. “We are involved in four competitions, today was a surprise to everyone, not only the quality, but not only the energy to play after a very tough game against Arsenal on Wednesday. “The energy was fantastic after that game.”A presentable run of games gives Tottenham a chance to cement their position in the title race, with AFC Bournemouth and Wolverhampton Wanderers travelling to Wembley before the end of 2018.They travel to strugglers Cardiff City on New Year’s Day before the FA Cup trip to Tranmere Rovers and Carabao Cup semi-final first leg against Chelsea.last_img read more

Liverpool set for double injury boost vs Newcastle

first_imgTrent Alexander-Arnold and Naby Keita are set to hand Liverpool a double injury boost ahead of the Reds’ Boxing Day clash with Newcastle.The pair are expected to be passed fit for Wednesday’s game having shaken off ankle and foot injuries respectively.Alexander-Arnold will return to full training on Monday having missed his side’s last two games. The 20-year-old watched Friday’s win at Wolves from the away end at Molineux, and has made good progress from the ankle problem sustained against Napoli earlier this month. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? The news comes at a good time for Jurgen Klopp, who has used James Milner and Nathaniel Clyne at right-back in Alexander-Arnold’s absence. Milner started there against Wolves, while Clyne impressed against Manchester United in what was his first league start of the season.The prognosis on Keita, too, is a positive one. The Guinean midfielder was taken off at Wolves having sustained cuts to his foot and ribs in separate incidents, but there is unlikely to be any lasting damage. Keita is due to report for training as normal on Monday having been assessed by the club’s medical staff.Klopp gave his players Sunday off as they prepare for back-to-back home games this week. After taking on Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle on Boxing Day, Liverpool entertain Arsenal on Saturday, looking to maintain, or perhaps extend, their four-point gap to Manchester City at the top of the Premier League.The Reds, of course, travel to the Etihad Stadium on January 3 in what promises to be a thrilling, and pivotal, encounter.Klopp will consider making changes to his starting line-up for the Newcastle game, with Clyne, Alberto Moreno, Gini Wijnaldum, Adam Lallana and Xherdan Shaqiri all pushing for starts as Liverpool look to record an eighth straight league win. Subscribe to Goal’s Liverpool Correspondent Neil Jones’ weekly email bringing you the best Liverpool FC writing from around the weblast_img read more

Man City team news & likely line-up

first_imgManchester City will be hoping to recall some key players to the starting line-up as they look to get back to winning ways at Leicester City on Boxing Day.Fernandinho and Kevin De Bruyne were not fit enough to start the 3-2 home defeat to Crystal Palace, and David Silva had returned to training but was not ready to feature in the squad.MAN CITY INJURIES David Silva and Vincent Kompany have progressed well from their recent lay-offs but were not ready for Saturday’s game. Neither are likely to start in Leicester but Silva, at least, could make the bench. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Danilo was among the substitutes on Saturday and he could come into the line-up for Kyle Walker, who has struggled of late.Fernandinho was not fully fit on Saturday but could well feature on Boxing Day.Benjamin Mendy (knee) and Claudio Bravo (Achilles) are definitely out.David Silva Manchester CityMAN CITY SUSPENSIONS Neither side have any suspensions.MAN CITY POTENTIAL STARTING LINE-UP Danilo could come in at right-back for Walker, while John Stones could drop back into defence if Fernandinho is fit enough to return to the midfield.De Bruyne is likely to come back into the midfield, and he would be partnered by either Ilkay Gundogan or Bernardo Silva.Sergio Aguero is a candidate to replace Gabriel Jesus up front, while Riyad Mahrez may be selected to start at his former club. Man City possible XILEICESTER TEAM NEWS Under-fire Leicester boss Claude Puel, who eased some of the pressure on him with a shock win at Chelsea on Saturday, has no new injury worries for the game.Daniel Amartey and Matthew James are long-term absentees.OPTA MATCH FACTS Leicester are winless in their last four games in all competitions against Manchester City (D1 L3), with each of the three defeats coming in the Premier League. Manchester City are looking for their fourth consecutive win against Leicester in the Premier League – prior to this run, they had won just four of their first 11 games against the Foxes in the competition (D2 L5). Leicester have won just two of their last 15 games against Manchester City in all competitions (D5 L8), with both of those victories coming under Claudio Ranieri. Manchester City have lost just one of their seven away games against Leicester in the Premier League (W4 D2), with that defeat coming in December 2016 (4-2). Since they were promoted back to the top-flight in 2014-15, Leicester City have lost all four of their Premier League Boxing Day games. Manchester City have won eight of their last 10 Premier League Boxing Day games (D1 L1), winning the last four in a row. Their only defeat in that run came against Sunderland in 2012-13 (0-1).TV COVERAGE & KICK-OFF TIME Kick off is 15:00 GMT (10 ET) on Wednesday. The game will not be shown on TV in the United Kingdom. It will be shown on NBC in the United States, and on various channels around the world. Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.last_img read more

‘Hazard most decisive after Messi & Ronaldo’

first_imgChelsea forward Eden Hazard is the most “decisive” player in the world after Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, according to Belgium boss Roberto Martinez.A talismanic figure at Stamford Bridge has often drawn comparisons to the very finest performers on the planet.He is considered to have fallen short in the past, with his goal return and ability to dictate proceedings on a regular basis called into question. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Hazard has, however, starred for club and country in 2018 to position himself towards the top of the pecking order in the Premier League and further afield.Martinez believes the 27-year-old is delivering the finest form of his career to date, with only iconic figures at Barcelona and Juventus bettering him over a prolonged period of time.He told The Times: “At international level, I have only seen a player playing at the very top consistently. “If you take Ronaldo and Messi away, I don’t think you can find another player as decisive. “Eden has won the league at Lille, a team that didn’t have the right to win it.Eden Hazard Belgium 2018“And he has won the league at Chelsea in two different projects. “He’s been the leader of a nation at a World Cup who got the bronze medal. “The consistency is there, and he is at the best moment of his career right now.”Hazard has contributed eight goals and nine assists to the Chelsea cause this season, having been eased into domestic action on the back of his efforts in Russia over the summer.He was, however, powerless to prevent the Blues from suffering a shock 1-0 defeat to Leicester in their most recent outing.Maurizio Sarri has thrown in the title towel on the back of that result, with a top-four finish now considered to be the best his side can hope for.Whether that proves enough to keep Hazard at Stamford Bridge remains to be seen, with an ambitious figure having drawn plenty of interest from Real Madrid and made no secret of his admiration for the Blancos.last_img read more

Risk-taker Solskjaer embraces Man Utd’s wild side

first_imgWhen Liverpool went four points clear of Manchester City on Friday night, not even the most optimistic Reds supporters expected the lead to last more than 24 hours.But Crystal Palace’s surprise tactical victory at the Etihad Stadium was evidence not only of Liverpool’s ability to push the champions all the way, but of Man City’s increasing vulnerabilities.Elsewhere on a narrative-heavy weekend of football, Leicester City reminded us why they should play counter-attacking football more often with victory at Chelsea, while Manchester United got off to a flying start under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer thanks to his bold commitment to attacking football. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Here are five tactical things you might not have noticed from the weekend’s Premier League action…Solskjaer’s risk-taking unleashes Man Utd’s wild sideSolskjaer’s first game in charge of Man Utd was characterised by quick forward passes, energetic movement, and – above all – risk-taking.They played with great bravery and creativity, charging around with the joy of prisoners unshackled after an unexpected revolution. Victor Lindelof’s one-two and run into the final third typified their aggressive attacking game, and although the increase in forward-thinking football was largely psychological, Solskjaer deserves credit for his tactical decisions.Their possession was meaningful, minimising the defenders’ time on the ball and using narrow wingers to create multiple short-passing options in the centre of the park. Marcus Rashford operated like a false nine at times, dropping very deep to link with Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial as they drifted infield.United had clearly been told to move the ball as quickly as possible with one or two-touch football. A big feature of their game was forwards dropping off and tapping a one-touch pass back where it came from, dragging defenders out of position and keeping the ball moving.Ander Herrera was notably improved, his ability to play clever passes under pressure helping United to get beyond the first line of the press and play expansively in the Cardiff half. The Spaniard’s neat, weaving interplay will become a crucial aspect of Solskjaer’s football ,as will the performances of Nemanja Matic. He cleverly dropped in between the two centre-backs when appropriate, which allowed United to spread wider and get the full-backs further forward.They will face tougher tests than this, but it was very encouraging to see Solskjaer recognise that the fluidity, intelligence, and positional interchanging of Martial, Rashford, and Lingard is United’s greatest asset.Cardiff Man Utd tacticsLeicester are back, but Puel could still be moved onOrdinarily a big win at Stamford Bridge would provide security for a manager on the brink, but Claude Puel may in fact have hastened his own demise on Saturday.Leicester’s 1-0 victory at Chelsea was reminiscent of their title-winning campaign – suggesting the Foxes should be led by a counter-attacking manager, rather than one set on prosaic possession football.Leicester sat in a hunched shell, accruing just 28 per cent possession, to stop Chelsea from passing the ball through the centre of the pitch.It worked well. The vast majority of Jorginho’s passes went sideways to the wingers, who, with no other option, promptly swung crosses into the box (36 in total, a season high for Chelsea). Unsurprisingly, Wes Morgan and Harry Maguire easily dealt with these.It was classic Leicester, a reminder of how well the team – and Jamie Vardy in particular – could be playing.The former England striker has struggled to fit into Puel’s usual system but was back to his old self on Saturday, chasing down long balls and scoring the winner from a quick break.Elsewhere, Ricardo Pereyra’s and James Maddison’s tendency to run with the ball also proved well-suited to a counter-attacking philosophy.Ozil proves his worth with intelligent displayUnai Emery is getting a reputation for strange tactical choices at the beginning of matches.It was certainly odd to line up against such a narrow team as Burnley in a 4-3-1-2 formation, with Mesut Ozil expected to create chances for the two strikers in a No. 10 role.Unsurprisingly, Sean Dyche’s defensive shell held out through the centre, although ultimately they were beaten thanks to Ozil’s reading of – and adaptation to – the game.For a central attacking midfelder Ozil spent a remarkable amount of time on the flanks, his pass map revealing a performance that could be called a “false ten”.He drifted into channels on the outside of Burnley’s narrow four-man midfield, linking neatly with wing-backs Sead Kolasinac and Ainsley Maitland-Niles to ensure Arsenal’s possession dominance never became aimless.Ozil played a crucial role in the early opening goal, without which the match could easily have swung the other way. His cross to Kolasinac was special, but from a tactical perspective his involvement in the build up down the right was just as important.Within 15 minutes on Saturday it was clear that Ozil is a better option for Arsenal than Henrikh Mkhitaryan.Ozil passes GFXPIC: All Ozil’s passes vs Burnley (Black = successful) Stones struggles underline City’s Fernandinho reliancePep Guardiola has been guilty of too much squad rotation in recent weeks, culminating in Saturday’s 3-2 defeat to Crystal Palace in which only five of his starting 11 could be considered first choice.Injuries have played their part, but this weekend he had three of his best players on the bench, plus he decided to replace Fernandinho with John Stones when he had the manpower necessary to avoid such an unusual move.It was no surprise Nicolas Otamendi struggled against the speed of Palace’s breaks, while Stones was directly at fault for two of Palace’s goals.What makes Fernandinho so unique for a defensive midfielder is his agility and technique; without him, City’s expansive formation meant Palace could counter in the spaces around the flat-footed Stones.His poor mobility saw him turned in the build-up to the first two Palace goals, first failing to properly tackle James McArthur before Jeffrey Schlupp fired in a equaliser, and then losing his man in the move that led to Palace’s free-kick from which Andros Townsend gave the away side the lead.Fernandinho remains an under-rated component of this City team and, judging by Saturday’s game, arguably the only irreplaceable player in Guardiola’s team.Hodgson out-tactics Guardiola to stun CityBy contrast, Roy Hodgson’s midfield selection was perfect.Schlupp played in central midfield for perhaps the first time in his career, the plan being to inject some counterattacking directness into the centre without losing defensive sturdiness.Schlupp consistently burst beyond Ilkay Gundogan and Stones – most notably to score Palace’s first goall – often moving into a wide left position to double up with Max Meyer.Schlupp’s selection meant Hodgson switching from 4-4-2 to 4-5-1 with Townsend moving to the right wing, a clever tweak from the former England manager that exploited City’s historic weakness on this side.Townsend’s cutting infield drew City in, creating space for Aaron Wan-Bissaka to drive directly at Fabian Delph – who has always struggled to defend one-on-ones. It was Wan-Bissaka’s burst past Delph that led to Palace’s match-winning penalty.Schlupp touches GFXPIC: All Schlupp’s touches vs Palace Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.last_img read more

Sancho should be in Liverpool’s sights – Ince

first_imgLiverpool should be weighing up a future approach for Jadon Sancho, says Paul Ince, but a new striker is considered to be Jurgen Klopp’s top priority for the January window.The Reds are expected to recruit over the winter, with their manager having left the door open for possible additions.It is unlikely that an England international currently starring for Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund will figure on that wish list. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Sancho, though, may be targeted by Premier League sides in the future and Liverpool have been urged to ensure that they are in the mix whenever that day comes.Former Reds midfielder Ince told Express Sport of the talented teenager: “I think when you look at Sancho, let’s not go overboard. He’s only 18.“We don’t want to make these players better than what they are the moment, they’re still only young and have a long way to go.“We as a nation have a tendency to build people up from such a young age and then knock them back down.“I feel with Sancho, the boy’s done well and he’s been brave to make that decision to go and play in Germany.”He needs to keep playing games until he’s 19 or 20.“Then maybe Liverpool should start looking at him. And not just him, there’s other kids out there [in Germany] doing well.”Jurgen Klopp Liverpool 2018-19With Sancho an option to pursue at a later date, Ince believes Liverpool should be looking for added firepower in the coming weeks.The Reds boast plenty of goal threat at present, but cover is considered to be required for the likes of Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino.On what Klopp should be trying to bring in, Ince said: “I feel maybe he needs another striker, I really do.“It’s always hard to get the best players in January. The best don’t really want to leave then.“But you’ve got to say if Salah got injured who’s necessarily going to replace him?“Sturridge flits in and out and hasn’t really done it.“I think as a manager you’re always looking to improve the team.“And I think if they are up there – and they will be up there – like City and like United they’ll be looking to bring in some extra faces to improve the team.“It’s exciting. Everyone thought City would run away with it but Liverpool are right there.”Klopp’s side top the table at present and, having gone unbeaten through 18 games, are currently four points clear of reigning champions Manchester City heading into a busy Boxing Day. Subscribe to Goal’s Liverpool Correspondent Neil Jones’ weekly email bringing you the best Liverpool FC writing from around the weblast_img read more

Hazard to Madrid? Chelsea legend sounds warning

first_imgEden Hazard may end up leaving Chelsea for Real Madrid as “every player would love to play for them”, but Michael Essien is hoping the Belgian can be persuaded to stay put.Speculation regarding a switch to Spain continues to rage around a Stamford Bridge asset yet to commit to a new contract.He has made no secret of his admiration for the Blancos and certainly fits the ‘Galactico’ mould favoured by Florentino Perez at the Santiago Bernabeu. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Essien, who represented Chelsea and Madrid during his playing days, admits the lure of one of world football’s most prestigious clubs may prove too much for a current Premier League star.He told Express Sport: “Hazard is one of the best players in the world.“The interest of Real Madrid, I only hear from people in the media. But I mean when Real Madrid come calling… every player would love to play for them.“He’s happy at Chelsea though and hopefully we can keep him.”Hazard is not the only player in west London to be generating exit talk ahead of another transfer window.The likes of Danny Drinkwater, Victor Moses and Andreas Christensen are also making plenty of gossip columns.Andreas Christensen Chelsea 2018-19The latter is being linked with a possible move to Barcelona, with Essien conceding that those not seeing regular game time for Chelsea will be weighing up their options.He added: “Every player wants to play.“Chelsea isn’t an easy place to come and the competition is very fierce.“At the end of the day, all the players work but it’s the manager who will pick who he wants to play.“When you’re not playing you get frustrated and you want to look elsewhere.“It’s up to them really but they have to keep working and then everyone gets their chance.”Chelsea have two more fixtures to take in before the winter window opens.They are set to face Watford on Boxing Day, before making another short trip out on the road to take in a derby date with Crystal Palace on Sunday.Maurizio Sarri is looking for his side to offer a positive response in those games to recent setbacks which have left the Blues fourth in the Premier League table and looking over their shoulder.last_img read more

CR7-less Real a warning to Barca life after Messi

first_imgReal Madrid’s form after Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure is a “warning” to Barcelona when it comes to Lionel Messi, according to former Blaugrana player Jordi Cruyff.Ronaldo, 33, made a surprise move from Madrid to Juventus for a reported €100million in July after spending nine seasons with the LaLiga giants.Madrid initially struggled to cope with Ronaldo’s absence and are eight points adrift of league leaders and rivals Barca – although they hold a game in hand. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Messi is contracted at Barca until 2021, but the club’s former midfielder Cruyff urged them to learn from Madrid’s mistakes.”What happened to Madrid is a warning for Barca,” the Chongqing Dangdai Lifan coach told Sport.”Madrid players are still great, but in football you need that player who even losing 2-0 you think you can win. It happens with Messi.”It’s much more than football… it is belief.” One year ago… The moment Leo #Messi  Bernabéu Stadium pic.twitter.com/aq5QPl0nqi — FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) December 23, 2018 Messi has enjoyed another stellar start to this season, scoring 21 goals in just 20 games in all competitions.Cruyff, a former Netherlands international, said Ronaldo – like Messi at Barca – was holding Madrid together.”You analyse Madrid and you see that Cristiano was the man who holds the umbrella,” he said.”When it rains, nobody gets wet. Now, there is no umbrella.”Ronaldo has scored 12 goals and set up seven for new club Juventus as they lead the Serie A by eight points from Napoli.The Old Lady have also qualified for the Champions League knockouts and will face Atletico Madrid in the round-of-16.last_img read more