Monthly Archives: November 2016

Griezmann joins Atletico full training, allays injury fears

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Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann eased fears over his fitness ahead of Saturday’s derby against Real Madrid by playing a full part in training on Thursday.

The Ballon d’Or nominee took no part of France’s 0-0 friendly draw against Ivory Coast this week after sustaining a blow to his left foot during last Les Blues’s 2-1 World Cup qualifying triumph over Sweden last Friday.

X-rays had confirmed Griezmann did not suffer a broken bone and Atletico defender Juanfran said that the 25-year-old was confident of being fit to play against Real Madrid.

It appears he will be as good as his word after joining Juanfran and his other team-mates for work with and without the ball on Thursday evening.

Griezmann has scored eight times in 14 appearances across all competitions for Atletico this season and netted the only goal as Diego Simeone’s men claimed a 1-0 win at the Santiago Bernabeu last season.

With Los Rojiblancos unbeaten in the clubs’ past six La Liga meetings, a defeat is unthinkable for Atletico in the face of what could be their last Madrid derby in Vincente Calderon.

Additionally, Real will be without key playmaker Toni Kroos and may also miss Casemiro and Pepe. Players returning, like Sergio Ramos and Luka Modric, did not see much action in recent weeks. On the other hand, Atletico’s Yannick Carrasco is in the form of his life after scoring eight goals in eight games for club and country, alongside Griezmann in Atletico’s formidable offense.

Prediction:

Atletico de Madrid (1) – (1) Real Madrid

 

Klopp confident of Coutinho stay in Liverpool

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Liverpool Manager Jurgen Klopp says Philippe Coutinho’s future lies with the Merseyside club following speculation linking the playmaker with a move away.

Coutinho, 24, has helped the Reds rise to the top of the Premier League table, scoring five league goals and making five assists.

As his form prompted links to European Giants such as Real Madrid and Barcelona, Klopp asserts his belief that the Brazil international had found his place amongst Liverpool’s ranks.

“My opinion is that he fits really well here,” said Klopp. “We all hope and think his future is here at Liverpool. What everybody forgets about Phil is that he is still very young. At 24, he has a long way to go and lot of space for improvement.”

“He is now at the age where skills and mixture with experience give him more consistency. With the team-mates around, he is getting better and better. I’m sure he has only started so that’s all good.”

 

Klopp also stated that he was not concerned about the spending power of Europe’s biggest clubs tempting his players away from Anfield.

“At the end, it will not be money. If there is a club who can pay double what we pay then I bring the player there,” said the German manager.

“Who am I to say ‘no, don’t think about your family, kids, grandkids and all that stuff’. But I don’t know a lot of clubs in the world who can do this.”

“We have to create an atmosphere in and around the club where no-one wants to leave. At this moment, I am not worried about anything. The players like to be here. It is a job and our job that it stays like this.”

Liverpool have made their best start to a Premier League season since 2008-09, and now leads the Premier League table with 26 points and 30 goals after 11 games. They travel to Southampton on Saturday in their next Premier League outing.

However, they have several players in doubt for the game – with Coutinho and Adam Lallana awaiting examination following the international break.

Prediction:

Southampton (1) – (3) Liverpool

Messi helps Argentina leapfrog Colombia in CONMEBOL

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Lionel Messi helped Argentina put last week’s loss to Brazil behind them with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Colombia in their World Cup qualifier match.

The Ballon D’Or winner set the tone for the game with a free kick, curled home magisterially off the bar. He then went on to assist with two more goals were laid sumptuously on a plate for his teammates. With a delightful cross, the Barca star took centre-back Davison Sanchez out of the game and gave Lucas Pratto the chance to head home La Albiceleste’s second.

And towards the end of the match, Messi robbed Jeison Murillo with a burst of acceleration and crossed for Angel Di Maria to complete the scoreline.

The victory was one of great importance against a dangerous opponent, who previously was above them by two points in the CONMEBOL table, and also lifting Messi’s team, recovering from two successive defeats, into fifth.

It was a necessary one as well, especially given that rivals Ecuador and Chile, both ahead of Argentina, won their respective matches. Defeat would have left the Argentines worryingly off pace, but victory meant that they are now just one point behind both rivals.

Meanwhile, Alexis Sanchez led Chile to a crucial 3-1 home victory over Uruguay on his return from a hamstring injury suffered while on international duty.

Playing with his thigh heavily strapped, the Arsenal striker scored twice in the space of 16 second-half minutes before being taken off to a standing ovation on 84 minutes.

Edinson Cavani had put Uruguay in front after 14 minutes before the hosts hit back just before the half-time break through Eduardo Vargas’ header.

Sanchez then scored for the Copa America champions from the edge of the box on the hour mark before adding a second soon after – his 36th international goal – to leave him just one shy of Marcelo Salas’ all-time record for Chile.

Uruguay had a chance to pull one back and set up a grandstand finish, but Chilean goalkeeper Claudio Bravo foiled Luis Suarez from the spot late on.

Spain’s late brace earns draw against England

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Spain scored twice in the closing moments to snatch a draw in the Wembley friendly.

England had taken control early through Adam Lallana’s early penalty, awarded when Spain keeper Pepe Reina hauled down Jamie Vardy just after eight minutes.

The Leicester City striker then followed up with a fine diving header from Jordan Henderson’s cross just after the break, giving England a solid lead

However, former Liverpool striker Iago Aspas’ superb curling finish in the 90th minute lit up Spanish hopes – and England allowed them to complete the comeback as Isco smuggled home a far-post finish between England substitute keeper Tom Heaton’s legs in the fifth and final minute of injury time.

Spain’s list of injured included, among others, Diego Costa, Andrés Iniesta, Gerard Piqué and Sergio Ramos. Additionally, their No.1 David de Gea had been given the night off, and despite missing what amounts to the spine of their team Spain somehow made it work.

In fact, La Roja’s comeback was so late large parts of the crowd had already headed into the night, satisfied with what they had seen and unaware of the drama that was to follow.

The match would also end Gareth Southgate’s four-game tenure as England manager on a less than pleasing note. It was not the finish he would have expected – or wanted – after Spain’s late show, even as he asserts that he could handle the “big occasions”.