Daily Archives: May 12, 2017

Antonio Conte to refuse any speculation before winning title

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Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has reportedly refused to speculate upon his future at Stamford Bridge before his club finishes this season by winning the Premier League title.

The Blues will play West Bromwich Albion this weekend, wherein a victory for the London club would mean a first Premier League title for Conte in his first season as Chelsea boss.

But for the past week, the former Juventus and Italy coach had been called to speculate upon his future after rumours linked him with Serie A side Internazionale following the departure of coach Stefano Pioli.

Nonetheless, Conte insisted that his place right now is with the Blues — at least until they win the Premier League title.

“I have a contract for another two years with Chelsea but, for me and my players, the important thing is to be focused on the present,” Conte said.

“This moment is very important. The future is not important for any single person: me or the players. It’s normal to have a lot of speculation around players and coaches, so it’s important not to lose the concentration and be focused as we try to reach this fantastic target.”

“It’s logical that, when you start in a new club, the will is to continue and improve your work for many years. For sure this is my will. But now the most important thing is to reach our target.”

“To arrive at this moment, in this position, to have this great opportunity … we worked very hard for the whole season [for this]. Now it’s important to be ready and to try to do this step, to win and then to celebrate together.”

Should he succeed in clinching the title, Chelsea are expected to offer Conte improved terms following the team’s various successes this term and to ward off any lingering interest in his stewardship.

The Italian had been linked with a return to his home country with Internazionale in recent months, and while he denied the substantiality of most of those claims the rumours were reignited as the Serie A side sacked manager Stefano Pioli on Tuesday after six months in charge.

Returning Fellaini edges United into Europa League final

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Marouane Fellaini returned from injury and scored a vital goal against Celta Vigo to book a place for Manchester United against Ajax in the Europa League final.

Celta began the game on the front foot, dominating possession and making countless offensive pushes to keep the hosts busy at Old Trafford.

But Fellaini, who had been out for weeks with a toe injury, headed home an expertly delivered cross from Marcus Rashford in the 17th minute to give United a solid advantage against Celta.

Still, Celta equalised late on 85 minutes with a header from Facundo Roncaglia, setting up an extremely nervy stoppage time for both teams.

Fuel was added to fire as a mass brawl ensued almost immediately after. United’s Eric Bailly was sent off with a straight red for a swipe at Celta striker John Guidetti, while Celta’s goalscorer Roncaglia was also given his marching orders for retaliating.

Six minutes of time was added as a result of the melee which almost involved every player on the field, meaning that Celta still had one more chance to get Celta into the final instead.

However, as Guidetti himself scuffed a golden chance to put the visitors through to their first major European final with the final kick of the game, United players were able to celebrate with relief their first entry into the Europa League final, and one step closer to their goal of making it into the Champions League next season.

As the Red Devils move a step closer to their first Europa League triumph, the downside for United is that they will have to do without Eric Bailly in the final against Dutch powerhouse Ajax in Stockholm on 24 May.

Zidane: Real are not favourites in Champions League final

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Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane made the claim that his team are not the favourites going into the UEFA Champions League final against Italian Champions Juventus.

Real, defending European champions and currently second in La Liga, booked their spot in the decider despite a 2-1 loss to Atletico Madrid on thanks to a 4-2 win on aggregate.

A goal from Isco following some fancy footwork from Karim Benzema just before half-time was all Real Madrid needed; even though they had fallen 2-0 behind after 16 minutes in the second leg it proved enough to help them through.

And as Los Blancos march on in the quest of becoming the first team to ever successfully defend a Champions League title, the final in Cardiff on June 3 will also see Zinedine Zidane face one of his former clubs in the Bianconeri, where he starred as a player from 1996-2001 before a move to Madrid.

However, the Frenchman claimed that there was no aspect in which the holders merited advantage against the Serie A champions, who have conceded just three goals in their entirety of 12 Champions League games this season.

“Real Madrid are absolutely not the favourites. It’s very difficult to score against this Juve side,” Zidane said. “The defence isn’t their only strength, either. They have great players in attack, too.”

Zidane also said the finalists deserve their spot in the final as he paid tribute to Juve for their role in his development.

“I became a man and a better player at Juve. It’s a great club. Facing them in the final will be special, because I still have Juventus in my heart,” he said.

“It’ll be a wonderful final, we’ve had a similar path and both teams deserve to be there. Now there’s time to prepare, but on Sunday we already have an important Liga game [at home to Sevilla].”