Category Archives: Champions League

José Mourinho continues bizarre and divisive power-play over Pogba | Barney Ronay

United manager’s omission of France midfielder from the starting XI suggests relationship is still subject to turbulence

Well, we got there in the end. Grudgingly, belatedly and against the manager’s better judgment. But with 17 minutes gone in this Champions League first leg, on a breezy, boisterous night in Seville, José Mourinho found himself forced by circumstance and bad luck into playing his most talented midfielder in his favourite position.

It is, of course, important not to be drawn too deeply into another Mourinho psychodrama. On a scale of one to Ramos the current half-glimpsed friction with Paul Pogba is hardly likely to rate a top-10 mention in the all-time annals of toxic José-dom.

Continue reading…
Source: gad

Time for Eden Hazard to show he can produce his best on the big occasion | Jacob Steinberg

Chelsea’s hopes of upsetting Barcelona rest on Belgian but he may wonder if his best chance of achieving greatness is to move

This week a clip emerged of three Barcelona players being confronted by a metal railing, with each of them choosing to deal with the obstacle in a different way. While Jordi Alba continued to mooch along the suggested route and Luis Suárez dealt with the inconvenience by jumping over it, Lionel Messi could be seen scurrying under the barrier, like a small child setting off on an adventure at passport control, weaving through the legs and dividing lines and leaving his parents in a state of bewildered panic.

Related: Chelsea’s Conte confident of new Eden Hazard deal despite Real interest

Continue reading…
Source: gad

Cristiano Ronaldo double propels Real Madrid to comeback win over PSG

Unai Emery said that the preparation for this game started at the Camp Nou last season but he cannot have meant like this. It was not three goals in seven minutes and it is not decisive yet but Paris Saint-Germain did concede twice in that period to leave them facing another premature European exit. They still have the Parc des Princes and Zinedine Zidane warned that “anything can happen” in three weeks’ time, but after Adrien Rabiot and Cristiano Ronaldo scored in the first half, Marco Asensio came on to create late goals for Ronaldo and Marcelo, just when PSG appeared to be exercising some control. “They scored when we were at our best,” Emery said, which is why it is Madrid who are in control of the tie now.

Related: Real Madrid 3-1 PSG: Champions League – as it happened

Continue reading…
Source: gad

Sadio Mané’s stunning hat-trick inspires Liverpool stroll against Porto

How Liverpool’s forward line would prosper without Philippe Coutinho remained a legitimate question on their return to the Champions League stage. By taking turns to inflict the heaviest home defeat in Porto’s rich European history was the emphatic answer. The highest-scoring team in the competition will be one to avoid in the quarter-finals that follow this complete away display.

Sadio Mané announced his return to form with a hat-trick, Roberto Firmino polished an immaculate display with another and Mohamed Salah claimed his 30th of the season as Jürgen Klopp’s side demolished the Portuguese league leaders. The Egyptian became the second-fastest player in Liverpool’s history to reach the 30-goal milestone. Only George Allan, in 1896, got there quicker than his 36 games. The visitors also became the second-highest goalscorers away from home in any Champions League campaign as Porto were steam-rollered.

Continue reading…
Source: gad

Real Madrid v PSG: Champions League – live!

6.38pm GMT

“This game is a real opportunity for us,” said PSG’s manager. “We want to continue to grow and playing a knockout game against the European champions, the 11-time champions, is an opportunity to show where we are and where we want to get to.”

On PSG’s opponents: “We are up against the record holders in this competition,” said Emery. “They’re historically the best side in this competition. We respect them both individually and collectively. I am confident my players can demonstrate their ability and that we’re ready to win this match. I’m expecting the best Real Madrid side tomorrow. The 11 they name will be strong. It’s Madrid, they’ll play the side they think will win them the game.”

6.37pm GMT

A master at saying plenty while simultaneously saying nothing, the Real Madrid denied manager denied he was under sort of pressure ahead of tonight’s match. “We are happy to play these kinds of games – it’s not pressure,” he said. “We live for these games. Fans want to see a great game of football and nothing else. You need to ask Unai Emery about pressure from their point of view. It’s a 50-50 game. We’re preparing to play the best game possible. It’s evens, as it always is.

On the meeting of tonight’s star turns. “Ronaldo and Neymar are great players,” he said. “[With Ronaldo] we are talking about a player who has done extraordinary things, won five Ballons d’Or and you can’t compare them. It’s not Ronaldo v Neymar, it’s Madrid v Paris. Everyone wants to see a good game. I’m not thinking about my future. I’m only focused on tomorrow. I can’t control the rest; the only thing I’m interested in is tomorrow. It’s not a final – it is two Champions League games. We want to play well and if we do that, we’ll have a good chance. The squad are focused on tomorrow’s game. I’m thinking about that and that only. The system is not important; what’s important is how we play.”

Continue reading…
Source: gad

Porto v Liverpool: Champions League – live!

6.01pm GMT

Liverpool have a fine record against Porto. The five-time European champions have met the two-time winners on four occasions in continental competition, and are yet to lose a game. Gerard Houllier’s side beat them in the quarter finals on the way to the 2001 Uefa Cup, Danny Murphy and Michael Owen with the goals in a 2-0 win at Anfield, after a 0-0 draw in Portugal. Then in the 2007/08 Champions League group stage, Rafael Benitez’s side managed a 1-1 draw in Oporto, Dirk Kuyt getting on the scoresheet, then ran up a 4-1 win at home, Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard and Peter Crouch doing the business there.

That’s the good news. On the flip side, Porto have done for the last three English sides to visit their manor in the Champions League. Arsenal went down 2-1 in 2010; Chelsea were defeated 2-1 in 2015; and Leicester were walloped 5-0 last season. Historically, it’s a mixed bag.

Continue reading…
Source: gad

Tottenham have improved beyond all recognition, says Christian Eriksen

• Completely different from when I came, adds Danish midfielder
• Eriksen’s name in the frame for another improved contract

Christian Eriksen said that Tottenham are virtually unrecognisable from the club he joined in 2013 as he reflected upon Tuesday night’s stirring 2-2 Champions League draw at Juventus and looked to the future with optimism.

The Denmark midfielder, who starred in the last 16, first-leg tie and scored the equaliser with a clever free-kick, had previously been tempted by a move to Juventus. The Italian club have tracked him in recent years and they pushed hard to sign him in the summer of 2015.

Continue reading…
Source: gad

Porto’s Vincent Aboubakar atones for faux pas with scoring streak

Cameroon striker angered Porto fans by joining former team-mates’ celebration but has made amends with 20 goals this season before the Champions League match with Liverpool

It started as an innocent greeting to some former colleagues and almost ended up burying a fresh start before it had really begun. After Porto’s first match of the Champions League group stage at home to Besiktas in September, Vincent Aboubakar popped his head around the door of the visitors’ dressing room to say hello to his former team-mates.

That was natural enough, given he had won Turkish title with them and they had reached a Europa League quarter-final together while he was on loan at the Istanbul club in 2016-17. He had been so implicated, in fact, he sat out this reunion because of a suspension accrued playing in Europe for Besiktas.

Continue reading…
Source: gad

First the knife but then Juve’s assassin turns into a Sunday League fat bloke | Barney Ronay

Gonzalo Higuaín followed up a stunning volley with a penalty to put Tottenham on the rack but missed a second spot-kick that may prove Juventus’s Champions League undoing

For all the goals and the garlands Gonzalo Higuaín still carries a shadow. There is an argument Lionel Messi would already be safely enthroned as the greatest modern footballer if only Higuaín could finish in the big matches, a wonderful striker who seems destined to fall short at the very, very last. A losing World Cup final, two losing Champions League finals: only in the vertiginously cruel gimlet eye of elite football could this be seen as failure.

At the Allianz Stadium Higuaín seemed to be in the process of handing Tottenham and Harry Kane a lesson in exactly how games at this level are won: not with a flurry of punches but with a knife between the ribs.

Continue reading…
Source: gad

PSG’s Unai Emery focuses on Real Madrid a year after painful exit

• PSG lost 6-1 in Barcelona in the Champions League last season
• Emery: ‘Maybe preparation for this match started in that game’

Paris Saint-Germain’s preparation for their visit to the Bernabéu on Wednesday began at the Camp Nou, Unai Emery claimed. PSG’s manager watched his team collapse in Catalonia last season, a 4-0 first-leg lead overturned when Barcelona scored three times in seven minutes to win 6-1 but he insisted PSG are better prepared to face Real Madrid.

His centre-back Marquinhos, meanwhile, called for “courage and personality” in a match that is likely to be partly played in the mind.

Continue reading…
Source: gad