Tag Archives: prediction

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

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

Arsene Wenger: English players are now the ‘masters’ of diving

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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has said that English players has now mastered simulation ahead of a North London derby game between the Gunners and Tottenham Hotspurs.

Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli was booked for simulation in Sunday’s draw at Liverpool, with his teammate Harry Kane also accused of diving by Reds defender Virgil van Dijk in winning a penalty.

“I remember there were tremendous cases here when foreign players did it,” Wenger said. “But I must say the English players have learned very quickly and they might even be the masters now.”

Spurs coach Mauricio Pochettino had also claimed after the game against Liverpool that overanalysing every controversy could “kill the game”; however, it was a stance which Wenger takes contrary to as the Frenchman believes that the issue is one that needs attention.

“You want your players to be intelligent. Sometimes they have played a little bit with the rules, they make more of it on the penalty case. Every striker will do that. How far can you go? That is down to the referees and I think that sometimes, at normal speed, it is very difficult to determine.”

“As much as I can be harsh with the referees, on that front I am quite tolerant because when you watch a game live it is very difficult at 100% pace to distinguish whether it is a dive or not.”

“Most of the time, when a player is going to the goalkeeper, they push the ball away from goal. They had a good rule in England when I arrived here. When the striker pushes the ball away from the goal, they didn’t give penalties because the only resource the striker has after is to look for a penalty.”

“In many cases now, the guy goes and if the goalkeeper has their hands off, the striker leaves a leg as long as he can to make sure that the goalkeeper touches him. But that’s not really a penalty.”

“We have to get diving out of the game,” he added. “I don’t tell my players to dive. I don’t encourage them to dive at all.”

Arsenal plays Tottenham on Saturday at Wembley.

Prediction:

Tottenham 0 – 2 Arsenal

Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard close to signing new Chelsea deals

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Thibaut Courtois has said he is close to signing a new contract at Chelsea and the goalkeeper suggested while hinting that his Belgium team-mate Eden Hazard could be ready to follow suit.

Courtois, whose deal at Chelsea expires in the summer of 2019, appeared to be firm over his intention to extend at Chelsea after the club’s 2-2 draw at Arsenal on Wednesday night.

“It has just turned the new year so we will wait a few weeks and then sit around the table,” Courtois said. “I’m happy at Chelsea and a deal is close. Has it been a distraction? Not for me. I’m just calm and relaxed because I’m tied to Chelsea. Despite the rumours and everything, I am focused on Chelsea and I’m happy here.”

As for his compatriot, Eden Hazard is contracted with the Blues to 2020. While Courtois believes that the midfielder’s departure could deal a lot of hurt to the club, the keeper believes that Hazard would spend the peak years of his career at Stamford Bridge.

“Losing a player like Eden would be bad for the club,” Courtois added. “Eden is irreplaceable. With the money he will raise, you can buy five players but none of them will be like Eden. It would be like Barcelona losing Lionel Messi or Real Madrid losing Cristiano Ronaldo.”

“If you excel, there will always be teams interested in signing the biggest players. But that’s why if Chelsea have ambition to be the best club in the world, these kind of players have to stay.”

“Do Eden and I encourage each other to sign? Yes. He will say: ‘If you sign, I will sign,’ and I say the same to him. I think we are both happy at Chelsea, we both have a good part to play. We have been champions twice in the four seasons I have been here and we can have our peak years together at Chelsea.”

While Chelsea sit third in the Premier League and 16 points behind the leaders, Manchester City, Courtois remains confident that the club can finish the season with a major trophy as they advanced to the last 16 of the Champions League, where they have been drawn to face FC Barcelona.

Prediction:

Norwich City 0 — 3 Chelsea