Category Archives: UEFA Champions League

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Champions League: Eriksen and Kane strikes cancel early Higuain brace

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Tottenham Hotspurs put up a spirited performance against Juventus at Turin as both Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen struck to cancel out an early Gonzalo Higuain brace.

The opening of the game saw a disastrous start to Spurs’ Champions League last-16 first leg when Higuain completed a brace of goals in 10 minutes, first with a volley and then a converted penalty awarded for Ben Davies’ foul on Federico Bernardeschi.

But Spurs kept pressing and found their way back into the game when Eriksen dispossessed Giorgio Chiellini and within a few quick passes see Dele Alli sending Kane scurrying through, with the stiker then calmly rounding Buffon before rolling home a precious away goal.

The goal appeared to gave Spurs confidence as they dominated possession and with Higuain himself missing out on a first-half hat-trick after the Argentinian failed to convert a second spot-kick, awarded for Serge Aurier’s poor challenge on Douglas Costa.

Spurs, who along with their opponents played the second half tighter and more controlled, finally found their equalizer through Eriksen’s set-piece from 25 yards out. The strike was hard and low and wrong-footed Gianluigi Buffon, giving the keeper no chance.

It was therefore only natural as Mauricio Pochettino praised his Tottenham team’s character after they overcame adversity of playing away and going into the second leg with two precious away goals that could prove to be a defining advantage.

“At 2-0 down, my feeling was so bad,” Pochettino said. “We started sloppily. But we showed great character and I feel so proud. We are a young team in this competition. To show that kind of performance was fantastic.”

“We dominated possession and forced them to play deeper, and only use the counterattack. We were so focused. Only the opening minutes were difficult to handle. But after that, we dominated Juventus and that is a thing to praise.

“Not many teams come here and dominate Juventus. We showed we are mature enough to compete in this competition. It is my fourth season at the club and we are always improving in different aspects.”

Tottenham Hotspurs: Toby Alderweireld left out of Champions League squad

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Tottenham defender Toby Alderweireld will not travel to Turin on Monday for the first leg of Spurs’ Champions League game against Juventus as Mauricio Pochettino wants the Belgium international to work on fitness instead.

However, his absence from the last‑16 tie against Juventus on Tuesday night is a move that will raise questions about his future at the London club as Alderweireld contract talks with Spurs have gone on for over a year without reaching a breakthrough.

The defender was returning from three-month absence due to a hamstring injury, and played the full 90 minutes in the FA Cup replay win against Newport County. He played the 90 minutes and, having declared himself fit, hoped to be in the lineup for the derby against Arsenal on Saturday.

However, Pochettino chose excluded him from the match-day squad and has now decided to leave him in London for a second time to work on his fitness, rather than take him to Italy for what is amongst Tottenham’s biggest game of the season.

It also raises further questions as Pochettino also reacted badly when questioned after the 1-0 win against Arsenal about why he had preferred Davinson Sanchez to Alderweireld in central defence.

While Alderweireld’s £50,000-a-week deal contains a one-year extension option scheduled to activate in the summer of 2019, it also features a £25m release clause.

It permits, should it comes to pass, that at the summer of 2019 he would be permitted to leave if a rival club were to pay £25m and complete the transfer at least 14 days before the closure of the window.

Prediction:

Juventus 2 — 0 Tottenham Hotspurs

Zinedine Zidane: pressure mounts on Real Madrid boss after Copa exit

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Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane says that he is enduring his “worst moment” after the defending La Liga champions were knocked out of the Copa del Rey by Leganes on Wednesday at the Bernabeu.

Although Marco Asensio had scored a last-minute winner at Butarque in the first leg which gave Real an advantage a 2-1 defeat saw them knocked out on away goals. They were in the cup tie without Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo as per Zidane’s player rotation policy.

“To start this tie in the manner we did it’s really bad,” added Zidane. “For that I’m angry. I don’t understand what’s going on.”

Real faces Paris St-Germain in the Champions League last-16 in what will be the only realistic campaign left for Los Blancos.

had led Real to back-to-back Champions League titles since taking over as head coach, winning eight major trophies since he took charge in January 2016 and enjoying a record 40-game unbeaten run in all competitions last season.

However, a poor start this season saw his team lag 19 points behind of La Liga leaders Barcelona.

“It’s a fiasco,” the French World Cup winner said. “My worst moment as a coach. I don’t regret anything I did in the game, though. I take responsibility for what I do.”

When asked if his future at the club depended on the Champions League tie against PSG on 14 February, the 45-year-old said: “Yes, that’s clear.”

“I’m responsible for this, I’m the boss. I have to find the solutions. We’ve found some of them but not consistently enough. I need to take responsibility and I’ll always fight.”

City did not offer €100m signing-on bonus to Lionel Messi -Guardiola

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Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola has said that the club did not offer FC Barcelona star Lionel Messi a €100m signing-on fee to leave the La Liga giants last summer.

Messi, 30, agreed fresh terms last week to extend his contract with the Catalan club until 2021, amidst a separate report in Spain claiming that City tried to lure the Argentinian to England with the €100m fee plus a €50m a-year salary.

When asked about the reputed offer, Guardiola summarily denied the rumours.

“It’s not true. Lionel Messi has signed a contract one week ago,” he said. “This was never going to happen; Messi started his career there and he’s going to finish it there. If he wanted to leave he wouldn’t have signed the contract.”

City will be playing against Shakhtar Donetsk in Kharkiv on Wednesday night in the final round of Champions League group fixtures although the Blues are already through as group winners. If they win Guardiola will be the club’s first manager to win all six group games.

“We are doing well but that doesn’t mean you will achieve the title,” he said. “In this competition one bad 45 minutes and you are out. That means you can win the title but go out if you are doing well. I’m not concerned if we are playing the best football.”

Guardiola also has an eye on Sunday’s showdown against Premier League and City rivals Manchester United, with team playmaker David Silva becoming a doubt through injury.

“David had a little bit of a problem in the last minutes [against West Ham United on Sunday],” he said. “We made a test after the game and I don’t know if he is able to play on Sunday so that’s why he stayed there, to recover in Manchester.”