Author Archives: Naomi Lopez

Salah: Champions League final is not me against Ronaldo

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Mohamed Salah claims that the Champions League final against Real Madrid will be a showcase of Liverpool’s collective power and not a personal duel with Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Egypt international will finish his stunning debut season with the Reds with a first Champions League final appearance in Kiev on 26 May, when Jurgen Klopp’s side will seek to end Real’s recent dominance of the competition.

Liverpool reached the Champions League final for the first time since 2007, advancing 7-6 on aggregate despite losing a dramatic second leg to Roma.

On the other hand, Ukraine would be hosts to Ronaldo’s sixth Champions League final, with the tournament’s all-time leading scorer having won the trophy three times with Madrid and once with Manchester United.

Salah, with 43 goals this season, is seen as the biggest threat not only to Real in Kiev but to the dominance of Ronaldo and Lionel Messi over the Ballon d’Or.

The Liverpool forward insists that he has his eyes on a bigger prize, however: the club’s sixth European Cup.

“I know all of the Arab people wish the best for me, and they are happy every time I win, but now at the moment I am only thinking about the final and to bring the trophy to Anfield,” Salah said after Liverpool’s semi-final over Roma.

“It is not going to be a final between Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo. I am playing for a great club and we have great players, so qualifying to the final came with great teamwork. I cannot do it alone — it is collective work. When we score a goal it’s because we are all doing good, when we concede it means we all need to work harder.”

Jose Mourinho: Eric Bailly dropped because he is not going to World Cup

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Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has said that Eric Bailly has been left out of selection in the past few weeks because Ivory Coast have not qualified for the World Cup.

Mourinho added that he was obligated to give his other four central defenders the chance to shine, because Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo and Victor Lindelöf are all striving to win a place in their national squads for Russia.

The Portuguese manager also denied reports of a rift or possible sale after Bailly has not played since the Manchester derby a month ago.

“There is no situation, Eric is fine,” he said. “In all honesty my work is not about the World Cup and preparing players for their national teams. I try to be a good team manager and that means being a little bit cold and selfish at times, but I am not as bad as all that and I still have space for a little bit of feeling.”

“If I have to make an emotional choice then Eric is the one I am not going to help. The other four are all fighting for a place.”

United will visit Brighton on Friday night with the home side knowing a victory would make Premier League survival mathematically certain, though Mourinho believes Chris Hughton has already done enough to keep his side up.

“Chris has done a very good job and all he needs to turn that into an amazing job is for safety to be mathematically confirmed,” he said. “Personally, I think Brighton have enough points already.”

Mourinho will also have the opportunity to give Anthony Martial or Marcus Rashford a rare start in the middle, because Romelu Lukaku is in Belgium for treatment on an ankle injury in an effort to be fit for the FA Cup final http://sportsnowadays.comon 19 May.

“They have had limited opportunities because Romelu has been playing so well but I trust them both,” he said.

Diego Costa denies dream send-off for Arsene Wenger

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Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger was denied a last chance to lift silverware after the Gunners were beaten by 2-1 on aggregate by Atletico Madrid in the Europa League semi-final.

With the score 1-1 from the first leg, former Chelsea striker Diego Costa returned to the Atletico side to haunt the Gunners again, scoring from a composed chip on the brink of half-time which ended their European hopes.

Antoine Griezmann, who scored Atletico’s away goal at the Emirates, slipped the crucial pass through to Costa after coming close with a powerful strike from a tight angle.

Arsenal were crestfallen going into the break but almost responded within minutes of the restart when Aaron Ramsey found himself through on goal. However, his touch let him down and the chance was wasted — as were a number of opportunities for the visitors throughout the second half.

It was a bad night made worse for Arsenal when captain Laurent Koscielny was carried off with an Achilles injury, which may rule the Frenchman out of this summer’s World Cup.

Two-time champions Atletico will now face Marseille in their third Europa League final in eight years in Lyon on 16 May, while defeat for Arsenal means they will miss out on Champions League football for the second straight season.

Wenger, who will leave the Gunners at the end of the season after 22 years in charge, has never won a European trophy with the club.

Man United striker Romelu Lukaku expected to be fit for Chelsea game

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Romelu Lukaku had a scan on his injured ankle on Monday, with the hope being that the Manchester United striker should be fit for the FA Cup final against Chelsea on 19 May.

The Belgian is expecting the scan results on Tuesday, although the initial diagnosis from the club’s medical department allowed optimism that the problem is minor and Lukaku can recover in time to face Antonio Conte’s team.

Lukaku, 24, is usually a quick healer and as he came off as soon as suffering the problem in the 50th minute of the 2-1 win against Arsenal at Old Trafford on Sunday it was not unduly aggravated.

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho said after the game: “When a player is injured I’m not immediately going for good or bad news.”

If Lukaku does recover as expected it will be a major boost for the United manager as he aims to claim a third major trophy in two seasons in charge. Lukaku is the club’s top scorer with 27 goals in all competitions, 16 of which have been in the Premier League.

United require four points from their three remaining matches to be sure of a second-place finish, which would a highest since the title win of five years ago.