Category Archives: UEFA Champions League

Major League Cup

Guardiola backs City youth trio to make impact as Aguero misses out

Published by:

Pep Guardiola has backed Manchester City’s young trio of Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling or Leroy Sane in the absence of Sergio Aguero when they face Liverpool in the Champions League quarter-final.

City will be without Aguero, their 30-goal leading scorer, for the fixture after he failed to recover from a knee injury sustained in training early last month, although Guardiola added that he was on the way to recovery. “He is much, much better. But the physios said he’s still not comfortable and he could not come here,” he said.

However, Guardiola believes that 21-year-old Jesus, the 22-year-old Sane and the 23-year-old Sterling, who has often wilted on his return to Anfield, can maintain the form that has helped taken City to the verge of the Premier League title amid the hostile atmosphere of Liverpool on a European night.

“We are so happy with those three guys. You need experience to be better, you need to live these situations and they are young. Gabriel never played in the Champions League quarter-finals and the first time is here.”

“Why should I doubt them when we’ve done it on many stages quite well? If it does not go well then it will be a good lesson for the future. I saw players with 32 years more scared than those three. It depends on the mentality of the players and they are so good.”

However, there as cause for concern as City suffered their only league defeat of the season at Liverpool in January when Jirgen Klopp’s pressing game forced several costly errors but Guardiola maintained his approach will not alter in the Champions League.

“Of course, I know Liverpool’s qualities and I’m concerned about what they can do,” the former FC Barcelona coach added. “I’m not so arrogant to presume I don’t care what they do. But if you think we are going to defend for 180 minutes and have one counterattack — that is not going to happen. Maybe if we defend for 90 minutes at Anfield it’s because Liverpool are unstoppable, but why should I change it when we are going well so far?

“I know the way we play is perfect for Liverpool because they attack the space like no other team in the world — especially Mane, Firmino, Salah. They are so good. I know that. We are going to try to do something and I feel the best way to try to win is the way we have been doing it since I’ve been here.”

Ronaldo scores incredible bicycle kick as Real Madrid routs Juventus

Published by:

Cristiano Ronaldo scored one of the Champions League’s great goals as his incredible bicycle kick helped Real Madrid demolish Juventus by 3-0 in the their first leg encounter in the quarter-final.

The Real Madrid striker already made history with the first of his two goals, prodding home Isco’s cross to become the first player to score in 10 consecutive Champions League games just 3 minutes after the game began.

However, both sides then fought on equal terms despite Real’s lead, with their own captain Sergio Ramos delivering a vital block against Paulo Dybala and Toni Kroos going close to doubling Real’s lead when he hit the crossbar with a 25-yard effort.

Ronaldo’s stunner — one of the great Champions League moments — came after the break, when Dani Carvajal lifted a cross to the Portuguese, who soared in the air and sent a flying acrobatic kick past Gianluigi Buffon, who was left with no chance.

This also meant that the Portuguese captain has now scored nine Champions League goals against Juventus — no player has scored more against a single opponent in the competition (he also has nine against Bayern Munich while Barcelona’s Lionel Messi has nine against Arsenal).

The entire Juventus Stadium were so in awe of the brilliance of the strike such that even the home fans stood up to applaud the goal that probably ended their hopes of going through as they fell behind such an impervious away goal disadvantage.

But things got even worse for the Turin side — who lost last year’s final to Real — as Dybala was shown a second yellow card for a high boot in the chest of Carvajal.

Real Madrid essentially their place in the last four when Marcelo played a one-two with Ronaldo before scoring from close range.

As the second leg looks to be little more than a formality now, Los Blancos would have a challenging game against neighbouring rivals Atletico Madrid in a Sunday derby in La Liga — while Juventus plays Serie A’s bottom team Benevento on Saturday.

Bayern’s old regime shines as Franck Ribery inspires comeback win

Published by:

Bayern Munich came behind to take control of their Champions League quarter-final against Sevilla as veterans such as Franck Ribery shined to inspire the Bundesliga leaders for a 2-1 win.

Jesus Navas own goal, from Ribery’s low cross, and Thiago Alcantara’s deflected header from the France international’s delivery after the break extended the visitors’ winning run in Europe this season to seven consecutive games.

Sevilla had made the brighter start and were leading when midfielder Pablo Sarabia scored by chesting and finishing Escudero’s cross, albeit after missing a golden opportunity earlier from eight yards at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

Bayern then lost midfielder Arturo Vidal to injury and replaced Juan Bernat with James Rodriguez after the break, when they showed their experience against a Sevilla side who are in the last eight for the first time.

However, the Spanish giants will mourn their misfortune when Navas’ outstretched boot diverted Ribery’s cross under the dive of his own goalkeeper David Soria.

Bayern even went and upped the ante after the interval, with Ribery increasingly influential and substitute Rodriguez adding fresh dynamism to the visitors, forcing another deflection put Montella’s men behind for a firm away-goal advantage.

It also meant that Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes — who returned in October for a third spell in charge of five-time European champions Bayern — has now won his past 12 Champions League games.

There will be further positive vibes as his side side will retain their Bundesliga title if they win at Augsburg on Saturday, four days before the return leg of this tie at the Allianz Arena. Sevilla, meanwhile, will hope that they could get a surprise away win if they want to proceed into the last four.

Buffon: Cristiano Ronaldo is an “assassin”

Published by:

Juventus keeper Gianluigi Buffon has described Cristiano Ronaldo as an “assassin” in front of goal ahead the Bianconeri’s Champions League quarter-final fixture against Real Madrid.

Ronaldo, 33, has hit 21 goals in his last 11 Real Madrid appearances and he also struck a late brace to help Portugal come from behind to beat Egypt last week.

He also beat Buffon twice in Real’s 4-1 victory in last season’s Champions League final in Cardiff as the Madrid star face the veteran goalkeeper again in the first leg of the quarter-final on April 3.

Still, there could yet be hope for Juve as the Portuguese captain drew a blank in Portugal’s 3-0 defeat at the hands of Netherlands on Tuesday, ending a phenomenal run of goalscoring for the forward.

Buffon, however, insisted that Ronaldo’s influence on the game is not to be underestimated and that — even as the forward approaches what was retirement age for many footballers he learns to cope by changing and improving himself.

“Over time he has learned how to improve himself as an athlete,” Buffon said. “As a player, he spends less energy with respect to what he did previously. I admire him a lot because he is a pragmatic person, lucid in everything he does and what he says.”

“I think that in recent years he has shown that he is very intelligent, because he has changed his way of playing. He is also lethal, everything he does is at 100 percent and in front of the goal he is an assassin.”

Juventus will face Real Madrid on Tuesday at home in Turin, but would first have to host Gennaro Gattuso’s Milan team as they try to keep their distance away from Napoli’s tight challenge at the top of the Serie A table.