Category Archives: UEFA Champions League

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Andre Gomes to play against Chelsea despite Barca ‘hell’

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Andre Gomes could feature in the Barca starting line-up against Chelsea in the Champions League despite the midfielder publicly admitting he is not enjoying playing football and is struggling to cope with pressure.

The 24-year old Portuguese international gave an interview to Panenka magazine in which he described his “hell” at Barcelona.

“I don’t feel good on the pitch,” he said. “I am not enjoying what I am doing. The first six months were pretty good but then things changed. Maybe it’s not the right word to use but it has turned into a kind of hell because I have started to feel more pressure.”

“With [some] pressure I feel fine but with the pressure [I put] on myself I don’t. The feeling that I have during games is bad. My team-mates help me a lot but things don’t work out the way they want them to work out. In training, I am generally relaxed although there can be days when I feel a little low on confidence and it’s noticeable.”

Barca manager Ernesto Valverde has described Gomes as “brave” for speaking out, while Gome’s teammate in midfield Sergio Busquets also pledged himself and the squad to help their team-mate.

“Andre has lots of qualities; let’s see if tomorrow is the day that he shows that,” Valverde said. “Players and coaches are careful not to show any insecurity or weakness but Andre has done so, which is brave, but it is not new and he is not the only one – it has happened to us all in one way or another and we have to find ways of confronting that and carrying on.”

When asked if Gomes was ready to play, Valverde replied: “If the coach believes so, yes.” Gomes’s inclusion may depend on a straight choice between him and Paulinho and could also be dependent on the fitness of Andrés Iniesta, who was able to train after a week out with a hamstring strain.

Busquets added: “We knew something of Andre’s situation but it’s a very personal thing. We have tried to help him, advise him, be at his side but he is the one that takes it home. The background noise at the Camp Nou should be positive now. I think he’s ready. It’s an extra pressure he puts on himself but I am sure he’s prepared and we will help him from the inside, and the fans will help him from the outside. What we all want is what’s best for the club.”

Quickfire Juventus double ends Spurs hope in Champions League

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Juventus produced two goals inside three second-half minutes to end any hope for Tottenham to progress in the Champions League by a 2-1 victory (4-3 on aggregate) in their last-16 match.

Spurs started with high-hopes nonetheless, with a goal following a scramble from Son Heung-Min strengthening the London club’s away goal advantage at Wembley.

They also saw both Son and Premier League top-striker Harry Kane wasting chances, while Juventus were denied a clear penalty when Douglas Costa was brought down by Jan Vertonghen.

But despite their control of proceedings, Sami Khedira’s flick was turned in through Gonzalo Higuain’s volley, giving Juventus a 64th-minute lifeline — which they capitalised on ruthlessly and Paulo Dybala raced clear for a decisive left-footed finish three minutes later.

It meant that Tottenham would get the undesirable record of being the third side out of 13 to have drawn 2-2 away from home in the first leg of the Champions League knockout stages to be eliminated — after Bayern Munich against AC Milan in 2007 and Porto against Manchester United in 2009.

Still, it gives testimony to Spurs’ ability as they scored 3 out of 4 goals Juventus conceded in 21 games, although the Italian champions were also unbeaten throughout the span of those games.

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino said he was “proud” of his side despite the end of his side’s European hopes.

“In less than three minutes we conceded two goals — two big mistakes — and that is why we are out,” he said. “In both legs we deserved more. We played fantastic football until that first goal and we dominated.”

“We are very disappointed, but it is part of growing. We will keep going.It was tough but very positive for the future. You need this type of game and experience to build you as a player to compete at this level.”

“They only came to our goal two or three times — not much — but they have quality so if you make a mistake they will score.”

Marco Verratti sees red as PSG crashes out of Champions League

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Paris St-Germain crashed out of the UEFA Champions League after being beaten by holders Real Madrid by 2-1 (5-2 on aggregate) in a game that also saw Marco Verratti being sent off.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice in the first leg at home, which Real won 3-1, and Los Blancos looked confident at the sound of the starting whistle with Sergio Ramos forced the first real save of the night from Alphonse Areola from a corner.

Six minutes after the break, Real were one foot into the quarter finals when Ronaldo headed in from Lucas Vazquez’s cross to extend Real’s lead in France and for his 22nd goal in his past 13 Champions League appearances.

It was also a decisive moment that went against the Ligue 1 leaders when Marco Verratti received a second yellow card for dissent, charging at the referee after a heavy tackle and being left in tears as he trudged off the pitch. The Italy international had already been booked when he fouled Casemiro in the first half.

However, PSG showed that they still have some fight in them when Edinson Cavani equalised through a deflection following a scramble in the Real box.

But it proved to be little more than consolation as Casemiro’s own heavily deflected strike from the edge of the box was enough to seal victory for the visitors.

With the amount of money PSG had spent in the summer, this will be seen as another failure in European competition for them and coach Unai Emery.

Emery, who won the Europa League three times with Sevilla, has failed to take PSG beyond the last 16 in two attempts — last season they lost 6-5 on aggregate against Barcelona, despite winning the first leg 4-0.

PSG best record in the Champions League was their entry into the semi-finals in 1994-95, although they have not made it past the quarter-finals since then.

Buffon: ‘Wounded’ Juventus will feel spurred on against Tottenham

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Juventus captain and goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has compared his team to a wounded animal ahead of the Champions League last‑16 second leg against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley, but insisted that they always raised their game when the odds were against them.

Buffon added that the outbreak of pessimistic atmosphere in Turin after the 2-2 first-leg draw was entirely normal as Juventus suffer is invariably magnified due to their domestic dominance in Italy over the last six years.

Additionally, with the Bianconeri manager, Massimiliano Allegri, suggesting he was ready to start with Gonzalo Higuaín, Paulo Dybala and Douglas Costa up front, Buffon sounded a note of optimism.

“When Juventus are wounded or we have our backs to the wall, it spurs us on,” the 40-year-old goalkeeper said. “It will be an uphill battle but sometimes you can get caught out if it’s all downhill all the way. It’s obvious there is a certain amount of pessimism after the first leg.”

One false step with Juventus and people start to fear the worst or criticise us. But we are capable of playing the right game. Spurs like to attack but by the same token they have a style of play which sometimes allows the opposition a few chances. It will be very even. The team that has the best clinical edge will be the team that goes through.”

Buffon also claimed the Tottenham striker Harry Kane reminded him of Gabriel Batistuta, the great Argentina No 9, but he was more vocal in his concerns regarding Juventus’s own attacking options.

Paulo Dybala is back from injury while Higuaín returned to training on Monday after an ankle problem.

“I don’t see any reason why they cannot both play,” Allegri said. “The fact that this is such a huge game – you want to play in a game like this, even if you’re not in tip-top shape. Douglas Costa could well play, too.”

Prediction:

Tottenham 2 – 1 Juventus