EPL has a good week in the Champions League

Manchester City 2 – Napoli 1

Manchester City now has proven that their style doesn’t just work against lower competition. Napoli, the best team in Italy, came into Manchester and have not dropped a single point in the season so far. They started their normal lineup and for many instances in the game City looked overwhelmingly in control. Having the ball and not letting Napoli create a single chance. At one point Manchester City had 10 shots to none by the Italian side.

This still poses big problems clearing issues up when they lose the ball as seen on Tuesday when they conceded two penalties and Ederson bailed them out in one. The defense needs work but what we learn is this team can play and score versus anyone. Without Aguero, they still created 17 chances and in many instances looked like the team in command.This is the best stretch Manchester city has had under Pep and possibly since the money has flooded the club.

The question now is not if Manchester City can get to an elite level? It is if they can maintain it. They look like the best team in Europe to start the year but it’s extremely hard to keep playing this way all the way up until May. Kevin de Bruyne has looked like the best player in the world and the continued on Tuesday when he hit post and provided yet another assist. Raheem Sterling continued his fine form and scored the first one of the night only to be joined in the scoreboard minutes later by Gabriel Jesus. The squad is clicking and right now it feels like it doesn’t matter the opponent they are going to score.

Watching this match confirms that this Manchester city squad are sure contenders

Chelsea 3 – Roma 3

Chelsea battled it out at Stamford bridge to get a 3-3 draw. Dealing with many injuries, Chelsea got a bit of good news when Morata came back to start, whose performance brought back the free flowing Chelsea we saw earlier in this season. The Blues started David luiz in the midfield because of an injury and it proved to be a blessing in disguise. The Brazilian put in a heavy effort performance where he scored a true golazo to open the scoring. Then Hazard took over, the Belgian is back and better than ever, clearly showing on the day he was the best player on the field. He created almost every play getting the rest of the Chelsea players involved.

Then Chelsea lost the two-goal lead and the Roma side people were expecting started showing up gaining the ball and creating chances themselves. They scored three truly lovely goals and showed the lack of experience Christensen and Rudiger have at the back in a Conte system.

While the result isn’t the best things for the Blues it still puts them in prime position to get out the difficult group and avoided going to a losing streak of three straight games. They showed guts to come back after letting the game slip completely away against Roma and that will be needed if Chelsea wants to make a deep run.

Chelsea has already proven they are one of the contenders this year when they went to Madrid and played masterfully versus Athletico earlier this season. What this game showed is the injuries are really affecting this squad. The loss of Matic and now injuries in the midfield and showed a hole in the team. It has made Conte depend on defenders who are completely new to Chelsea and the team’s style of play. The problems are happening now but when the squad gets back to full strength they should go away.

Manchester United 1- Benfica 0

United’s dull play continues after getting a 1-0 win after a goalkeeper mistake versus Benfica yesterday. The team started the season so well scoring 4-0 wins on multiple occasions, but now the team is getting in the mindset of Mourinho which is: Just results matters. Over the weekend they went to Anfield and played an ugly 0-0 game, now he went to Portugal and got all three points. Playing dull can be a problem,, but if the fans just want results he is getting them.

Getting a point at Anfield is one of the most difficult things to do in England and if you were to ask all the managers in the Prem would they just take the point and not play, they would all probably be yes. It might be frustrating form a neutral point of view. United got a least a point which keeps them in second place of the EPL and the only team currently close to Man City and their fantastic start.

Now we see that same mentality in Europe, and while it may be dull it found success again. When you look at the table Manchester is practically a game away from qualifying for the knockout stage of the Champions League. That is where the club fans want the team.

Ultimately even though Mourinho’s style is boring or anti-football he is giving the Red Devils the success they so deeply have missed since Alex Fergurson left.

Spurs 1 – Real Madrid 1

Spurs went to the Kings of Europe, Real Madrid and got a 1-1 draw. The result now puts Spurs is a great position of getting out of the group of death with two home games still remaining. While Madrid still clearly shows they were the better side of the night they couldn’t prove it and find the winning break through.

The result was even more surprising when you add the factor that Dele Ali wasn’t available in the game. The young Englishmen is one of the most important in the north London but it gave way for Harry Winks to make a name for himself. The other youngster in the squad came in and played a full 90 minutes and held in versus the defending champions. Madrid is known for having the best midfield in Europe and none of them were able to overshadow Winks. The 21-year-old has just 26 appearances with the club but expect a lot more performances from him.

Moves, like playing Winks and moving Kane and Llorente up top together, shows how much Pochetino believes in his whole squad and he is the perfect manager for the post. He knows how to move the squad around through big matches and shows belief in the academy. While they have lost pace with leaders Manchester City they and still within distance and finally showing the maturity to compete on multiple fronts. While I still see no way they win both competitions they are setting themselves up to have a choice later in the year.

Liverpool 7 – Maribor 0

Liverpool essentially had a road-friendly on Tuesday when they went to Maribor and beat them 7-0. All the goals the team couldn’t finish over the weekend we’re going in. This game showed the great high pace offense Klopp has and can implement. The back line wasn’t really pushed a single time in the game. It was really one of those games where a team is just practicing versus the other. This game is not the test for Liverpool, but with Sevilla dropping points, Liverpool now looks in prime position to win the group and get a good pairing next round.

England is known for failing in Europe in recent years but this year feels different. The English teams look like they are playing with a purpose to perform well and by the first three match days they have yet to lose. They have conceded the least amount of goals of the top four leagues even though they have the most teams out of anyone. While an English team hasn’t won in a while, if you compare the table amount of all the top four leagues the British teams have had by far the best start.

                      P  W  D L GF GA Pts
ENGLAND     15  11 4 0 44 11 37
SPAIN          12  6   4 2 21 12 22
ITALY             9  4   2 3 14 13 14
GERMANY       9  3  2 4 13 15 11

England: 2.466 pts/game
Spain: 1.833 pts/game
Italy: 1.55 pts/game
Germany: 1.22 pts/game

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Analysis the Champions League Draw

Here are the Groups:

Group A: Benfica, Manchester United, FC Basel, CSKA Moscow.
Group B: Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Anderlecht, Celtic.
Group C: Chelsea, Atletico Madrid, Roma, FK Qarabag.
Group D: Juventus, Barcelona, Olympiakos, Sporting CP.
Group E: Spartak Moscow, Sevilla, Liverpool, NK Maribor.
Group F: Shakhtar Donetsk, Manchester City, Napoli, Feyenoord.
Group G: Monaco, FC Porto, Besiktas, RB Leipzig.
Group H: Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Tottenham, APOEL Nicosia.

 

Real Madrid in the Group of Death

Two-time defending champions get drawn in the Group of Death. (Image by Getty Images)

Group H is clearly the group to watch as the two-time defending champions Real Madrid have drawn Borussia Dortmund and Tottenham in their group alongside Cyprus side Apoel.

Real Madrid will have to continue the high form they are in if they want to survive. The Spanish side is still favorite to come out of the group, but they can’t afford to have slip-ups. Unless they are the top team in the world, they might not survive.

Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid are in a group again after being grouped together last year. Borussia Dortmund will look at the same challenge as last year when they also had a tough group with the defending champs, and they found some success winning the group.

Both games between the clubs ended in 2-2 draws, so it looks like things will be settled this year. The rematches should be fun to watch.

The addition of the Spurs drama is extra to the group this year. Spurs completely underwhelmed in last year’s competition, losing three games and two at Wembley. Many believe Spurs can’t fill and play well there.

Spurs will have to put the Wembley curse behind them with the difficult group. (Image by Getty Images)

Well, this year all their games are at Wembley because of the new stadium being built. If the Wembley form continues, or if the curse is true, it will be a tough year for Spurs, who will have to host the two-time champions and the high attacking Dortmund side.

Still, this group will feature six games of high-quality football in three cathedrals of the sports. The Bernabeu, Westfalenstadion and Wembley are world-class places. Every match between the clubs will be a spectacle to watch. This group will showcase the beauty of European club football.

Rounding out the group is Apoel, who will be the underdog in every match in the group. Not much is expected from them.

The Cyprus team does have some experience in the competition from 2012 when the team surprisingly got to the quarterfinals. The club will be looking to replicate the run they had, but it will be difficult with the group they were drawn in.

The Group of Life is Group G

Group G has Monaco, Porto, Besiktas and Red Bull Leipzig. It is the group where everyone seems to have a genuine chance of winning it.

There are no favorites in the group. Monaco is the champions in the group, but they have sold many of their stars from the semifinal side last year. With even more sales to come, it will difficult for the club to bring back the form they were in.

Monaco was given a lifeline with the difficult group, but none of the true football giants are in it. It will be challenging for the French Ligue side. Depending how they use the huge amount of funds that are coming in, they might be alright.

Porto, on the other hand, has been accustomed to making the second round of the tournament and will like their chances against teams who don’t really have experience. Porto has the side full of veterans that look poised to take control of the group. The Portuguese side will have the tough test, but with most of the squad at Monaco being sold, they seem destined to win the group.

Besiktas is the other team that will fancy their chances of coming through. They see the lowering of the level at Monaco and want to break  the bad streak Turkish football has had in Europe.

The Turkish league has risen in funding in recent year, but it has yet to have translated to Europe. Now Besiktas has the opening of making some noise with this group. They have a big fanbase and the funding to really make noise. Don’t be surprised if you see Besiktas in the second round.

Red Bull Leipzig is the last team and really makes the group interesting. The German side finished second in the Bundesliga and will make their European debut with this group. The German side hasn’t really made the addition of the squad, but have been keeping many of the players in the team from the surprise year, something Monaco hasn’t been able to do.

With this draw, the Leipzig side will definitely fancy their chances of going through. Expect a young high-pressure side that attacks anytime they can.

This group seems the most entertaining on paper from the point of view that every team will believe they are the better side. This will give us a group full of open matches.

Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester city get favorable groups

All three teams came into the draw with nightmare possibilities and left with scenarios they will like.

Manchester United gets an easy favorite and becomes a contender to win it all. (Image by Getty Images)

United got drawn in group A alongside Benfica, Basel and Cska Moscow. All are games where the Red Devils will be favorites to win.

Manchester United may have gotten in the tournament through the back door of the Europa league, but now the three-time winners look poised for a deep run this year. They have started the league with two 4-0 thrashings. Things are looking bright for the English giants and Jose Mourinho.

If United can get one or two more players, they could be serious contenders to win the champions this year. It wouldn’t have been the first time Mourinho has won the Europa League and then the Champions League the following year.

Liverpool is the middle of the Coutinho drama, but there is good news. The Reds got drawn into Group E with Spartak Moscow, Sevilla and Maribor. They got one of the best options they had as their group’s champions with Spartak Moscow from Russia, a side Liverpool could get a win against.

Liverpool gets some much needed good news in the draw (Images : Getty Images )

They also get a win over Sevilla, which is the most favorable Spanish side they could have gotten and gives them the chance to avenge the loss they had in the Europa league final two years ago.

The last side Maribor is the Slovenian side that is among of the worst teams in the 32. They will look to shock the world, trying to get results with clubs much bigger in fan base and funding.

The Reds now look to be in a good place to make a run. Maybe this news makes them a little more willing to sell Coutinho. Liverpool could sell a couple players and still make it into the second round of the competition.

Man City ended up with the toughest group out of the three, but one that the club should handle. Group F is Shakhtar Donetsk, Napoli and Feyenoord, along with the Manchester club.

Man City should be favorite, but face a very good Napoli side, who could easily get a result. Napoli returns a very cohesive squad that will challenge any team. A Shakhtar side that is a veteran of the competition and seems to be in final 16 every year. Feyenoord is a young side that will surprise this year.

Man city is favorited, but if Pep doesn’t get the squad focused, things could go wrong fast in this group. Compared to Liverpool’s and United’s group, it’s hard, but Manchester City should have the squad to go through easily.

Chelsea dealt with tough group

Chelsea have tough test as they come back to the competition (image: Getty Images )

The blues are in a group that will test how deep the squad is as they will have no easy games.

Chelsea is in Group C alongside recent finalist Atletico Madrid, Roma and debutant Qarabag. Chelsea is coming from missing the Champions League last year and want to be among the leaders in the competition again.

Atletico Madrid is among the favorites to win it all, losing two recent finals, but face the unique challenge of being transfer banned. For the group stage, the club will be without reinforcement which might make it tough for the Spanish side.

Roma will look to take control from Chelsea with locker room troubles and an Atletico side that can’t improve themselves. They have brought in some talent and brought in a young Italian manager Eusebio Di Francesco.

Qarabag is the side in trouble. The side is the first club from Azerbaijan to ever make the Champions League group stage and will prove to be a long trip for the three big European clubs. Besides the Group of Death with the defending champions, this seems to be the toughest group on paper.

Big matches you won’t want to miss

Bayern Munich vs PSG – September 27 at Parc des Princes and December 5 at Allianz Arena
Atletico Madrid vs Roma – September 12 at Stadio Olimpico and November 22 at Wanda Metropolitano
Roma vs Chelsea – October 18 at Stamford Bridge and October 31 at Stadio Olimpico

Chelsea vs Atletico Madrid – September 27 at Wanda Metropolitano and December 5 at Stamford Bridge
Juventus vs Barcelona – September 12 at Camp Nou and November 22 at Juventus Stadium
Sevilla vs Liverpool – September 13 at Anfield and November 21 at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan
Manchester City vs Napoli – September 26 at City of Manchester Stadium and November 1 at Stadio San Paolo
Real Madrid vs Borussia Dortmund – September 26 at Westfalenstadion and December 6 at Santiago Bernabeu
Borussia Dortmund vs Tottenham – September 13 at Wembley and November 21 at Westfalenstadion
Tottenham vs Real Madrid – October 17 at Santiago Bernabeu and November 1 at Wembley

 

Featured Image from Full Matches and Shows

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EA Sports Making “Competitive” Moves with FIFA 18

FIFA 18 is Officially Announced!

Along with its announcement came some juicy details that could definitely use some discussion! The cover athlete for this year’s installment is none other than Cristiano Ronaldo himself. After the successful year he has had it comes to no surprise that he also made it on the cover of this year’s game. Winning the Balon D’or again this year as well as taking his club, Real Madrid, to another UEFA Champions League title are just a few things he managed to accomplish this year. He even earned his own special edition of the game called the “Ronaldo Edition” which comes with a few extras, such as a Ronaldo loan player item for Ultimate Team mode and a few other things. EA also released an amazing looking reveal trailer.

 

What’s New?

Now I know many people have had issues with EA Sports and how some things were handled as far as the previous games went. The main point I will touch on today is Legends. Legends were first introduced to FIFA back in FIFA 16. They have always been an XBOX exclusive due to an exclusive deal between Microsoft and EA. Well this year in FIFA 18 Legends have been revamped. They are now called “Icons” and will be available on ALL platforms. We do not have many details on these “Icons” players yet but EA sports did announce one new one that will be added!

 

 

None other than Ronaldo Nazario! If you know anything about football (soccer) then you know this man very well. There is no question that he deserves his very own Icon Edition of the game.

 

So Let’s Talk Esports!

One of the biggest gripes during competitive play was the fact that XBOX players had the advantage over the PlayStation players due to having access to those Legend players. Even though the two platforms never faced off against each other in a cross-platform type of way, it did make it tough for each perspective player to perform well on the other console. As you know, the format of the events is that all XBOX players play each other and all PlayStation players play each other. The winner of each console then goes to the final where one game is played on each console. This puts players at a disadvantage due to not having access to these Legends on a regular basis if they are PlayStation players, or having to use a team without Legends if they play XBOX.

Now that these new “Icons” are available on all platforms, none of the players will be able to say they are at a disadvantage when it comes to the players that they have available to them. This will even out the playing field a bit more. The only difference now would be the controllers used on the separate consoles.

We still have no word on how qualifying to get invites to major events hosted by EA will be done. FIFA 17 featured the Weekend League inside its Ultimate Team mode, which let players play 40 games in a span of three days to see where they ranked on a weekly/monthly leaderboard. Many people believe this system will be brought back for FIFA 18 and just improved upon. Some people say they may increase the amount of games you can play each week, while others have different ideas. Essentially it will be up to EA Sports to make the proper changes to keep the fans happy and interested in the series. FIFA Esports is definitely growing and EA Sports needs to go ahead and ride this hype train for all it’s worth before it stops.

Will you be buying FIFA 18? Which edition will you be trying to get? Will you participate in the weekend league? Let the #HausMates know!

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Featured Image and all Videos & Images Courtesy of EA Sports

What Next Season’s Contenders Need to do to Improve in the Summer (Part 2)

Manchester City

Pep Guardiola’s second season in Manchester will be highly anticipated and expectations will be massive. With a year of experience in England under his belt, a title and run in the Champions League (assuming City make top four) will be expected.

City have perhaps the least amount of work to do as far as improving personnel. One storyline will be whether Sergio Aguero departs the club following the emergence of Gabriel Jesus. In Jesus and Kelechi Iheanacho, Guardiola has two young strikers with massive potential to develop. Aguero is nearing the end of his prime and may fancy a move back to Spain or Argentina in order to get more play time.

When City do go shopping in the summer, it will be mostly geared towards their defense. City’s deficiency at full back could be solved by signing Tottenham right back Kyle Walker. At left back, Jose Luis Gaya of Valencia would be a massive improvement over the departing Gael Clichy. Finally at goalkeeper, Guardiola needs to find an alternative to the horror show that has been Claudio Bravo and Willy Caballero this season.

 

Arsenal

The most uncertain future among England’s top clubs is that of Arsenal. The Gunners could very well lose their manager and two best players at the end of the season.

The club has been pretty mum on whether Arsene Wenger will still be at the Emirates next season. A split fanbase has made this story one of the most talked about in recent months. If Wenger ends his 21 year run at the club, two rumored candidates are Borussia Dortmund’s Thomas Tuchel and Monaco’s Leonardo Jardim.

Alexis Sanchez looks to be on his way out of the Emirates this summer. The Chilean leads the club with 25 goals in all competitions this season.

On the field, the team’s leading scorer this season, Alexis Sanchez, is all but guaranteed to be leaving in the summer. His list of possible suitors contain Chelsea, Paris St. Germain, Juventus and Bayern Munich. Midfielder Mesut Ozil also faces an uncertain future.

If either Sanchez or Ozil leave the club, it will leave a massive gap. However, the massive transfer fee Arsenal will collect will give them options in the replacement process. Monaco’s Thomas Lemar and Everton’s Ross Barkley are the latest rumored targets to replace Sanchez and Ozil respectively.

 

Manchester United

Much of what United is able to accomplish in the summer will be dependent on their result in the Europa League final May 24 vs Ajax. A victory would boost the Red Devils into next season’s Champions League, and equally importantly, it would make Old Trafford a very attractive destination in the summer.

Uncertainty over the striker position is first and foremost on Jose Mourinho’s mind. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is 35 and just sustained a serious knee injury. Marcus Rashford, while equipped with serious talent and potential, is still raw. Mourinho could look to the transfer market at that position. Antoine Griezmann has long been linked with a move to Man U and his addition would certainly make United quicker and more creative in the final third, an area they lacked in Mourinho’s first year with the club.

Two familiar faces could potentially depart the club this summer. Wayne Rooney has struggled to break into the first team under Mourinho and has been linked with a move back to his boyhood club Everton after an illustrious 13 year career for United. Goalkeeper David de Gea was close to moving to Real Madrid two summers ago and Los Blancos could come knocking again this season.

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EPL: What Next Season’s Contenders Need to Do to Improve in the Summer (Part 1)

With Chelsea having one hand on the Premier League trophy, those who fell short are already looking to new hope next season. A highly anticipated transfer window awaits in the summer, and there are improvements to be made for all the top clubs.

Chelsea

Romelu Lukaku is seen as a potential replacement for Diego Costa at Stamford Bridge. (Photo by Goal.com)

For presumed champions, Chelsea faces quite a bit of uncertainty heading into next season. Rifts between manager Antonio Conte and striker Diego Costa have caused the latter to be linked with a move to China. Real Madrid is also reportedly interested in superstar Eden Hazard.

 

It is paramount that the Blues hang on to Hazard and find an adequate replacement for Costa if he leaves. Two options are Everton’s Romelu Lukaku and Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata. Both are quick, strong and left-footed handfuls for defenders. Lukaku once played with Chelsea and a deal featuring Hazard for Morata and money has been rumored as a possibility.

Chelsea will also want to make sure they hang onto goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who is seemingly always linked to leaving Stamford Bridge.

Tottenham

Mauricio Pochettino will be searching for the final piece to his Spurs title puzzle. After likely coming up short back to back seasons, the Spurs need to sign players to upgrade the wing and midfield positions.

Despite a great second half to the season, Son Heung-Min is not a true winger, and Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha, who has been linked to Tottenham, would be a great fit. He would add a pacy threat and could cross the ball into Harry Kane.

In the midfield, Moussa Dembele will turn 30 this summer. A young, dominant midfield presence alongside Dele Alli would boost the Spurs. The Monaco duo of Fabinho and Tiemoue Bakayoko are options, as well as Nice’s Wylan Cyprien.

As far as departures, Kyle Walker has been linked to a move to Man City. While his departure would be a blow, the Spurs should be fine as long as they retain Kane, Alli, Christian Eriksen and Toby Alderweireld.

Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp has continued to deliver results despite what many consider to be an underwhelming squad. Liverpool can perhaps improve more than any of their competitors with a good transfer window this summer.

Signing Virgil Van Dijk would sure up Liverpool’s woes at the back. (Photo by Sports Mole)

Klopp’s most glaring issue is at the back where Liverpool was repeatedly vulnerable. Alberto Moreno is not a true left back, and the Reds could use a solid center-back to pair with Joel Matip. Klopp is looking at Southampton duo Ryan Bertrand and Virgil van Dijk to fill the void. He also has his eyes on Burnley center-back Michael Keane.

Liverpool could also target a true striker this summer. While Roberto Firmino is great, he is not a true striker. Daniel Sturridge can’t stay healthy, and Divock Origi has been inconsistent. Romelu Lukaku or Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette could work in Klopp’s system.

The good news for Liverpool is that they aren’t expected to lose anyone major in the summer. If Klopp can be smart with his buying, the Reds could be really improved ahead of a likely Champions League campaign.

 

(Featured Image by Sportskeeda.com)

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Cristiano Ronaldo Continues To Carry Real Madrid Through The Champions League

Cristiano Ronaldo walked off the pitch Tuesday night at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeau with a wide smile his face. The 32 year old Portuguese superstar scored a hat trick in Real’s 3-0 first leg semifinal win over crosstown rivals Atletico Madrid in the Semifinal.

Despite his age and no longer possessing the athleticism he inched, Ronaldo is scoring big goals in big games and he’s scoring a lot of them. In Real’s last three Champions League matches (@Bayern, vs Bayern, vs Atleti), CR7 has scored an incredible eight goals. He has adjusted his play style and is one of the most lethal headers of the ball today. His attacking positioning is brilliant as well.

On his goal vs Bayern, Ronaldo shows how he has grown as a player. He has intelligent positioning and takes the cross down with class before dispatching it confidently into the net.

Ronaldo’s ability to adapt from a speedy winner to a smart, clinical finisher is the reason why he has been able to sustain his high level of play as long as he has.

In a season in which the fellow members of Real’s BBC (Bale, Benzema, Cristiano) have underwhelmed, Ronaldo has come through repeatedly for Madrid. Bale has missed a majority of the season due to injury and Benzema has been largely ineffective in his striker role. Los Blancos are in pole position to win La Liga in addition to being a step away from a third UCL final in four years.

As shown by his recent form, Ronaldo always seems to show up in the big games. With the comfort of knowing they have someone who can get it done in the clutch, Real Madrid have to like their chances going forward in the Champions League.

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Is Champions League Still Reachable For United Without Zlatan?

Manchester United’s quest for Champions League football next season took a massive hit when star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic suffered serious damage to his ACL and PCL ligaments in Thursday’s Europa League tie with Anderlecht .

United are fighting the battle for Champions League on two fronts, in England and in Europe. Jose Mourinho’s side controls their own destiny for a top four finish in the Premier League. Thursday’s showdown with Manchester City will have serious table implications in addition to the heated derby atmosphere.

A difficult schedule still awaits, with visits to City, Arsenal and Tottenham still to come. Zlatan’s injury thrusts the spotlight on young Marcus Rashford and club legend Wayne Rooney at striker. Anthony Martial will also likely be given a chance to redeem himself for past chances not taken.

Manchester United will need Wayne Rooney to re-find his form of old.

Rashford has been significantly better in the last month and can give shaky backlines fits with his pace and work rate. Rooney and Anthony Martial both stepped up by scoring United’s goals in a 2-0 win over Burnley on Sunday. If that trio continues to play well, it could even be an improvement over filtering the entire attack through Ibrahimovic. Liverpool’s loss to Crystal Palace on Sunday puts United in their best table position in months, making a top four dream very much alive.

In Europe, the Red Devils are in the Semi-finals of the Europa League. They must win the competition in order to automatically qualify for next season’s Champions League. Celta Vigo from Spain will prove to be a difficult test in the semis.

While they only sit tenth in La Liga, Celta have proved they can be giant killers by defeating both Barcelona and Real Madrid this season. Forward Iago Aspas is tied with Antoine Griezmann for fifth in La Liga with 16 goals on the season. Man U also lost defender Marcos Rojo to injury and will be shorthanded facing Aspas and the dangerous Celta attack.

Iago Aspas has tormented opposing defenses all season.

United will likely play similarly to the way they did against Anderlecht. Expect Mourinho to be conservative in the opening away tie and attack back home in Manchester in the decisive second tie.

 

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Leicester Can Take Many Positives From First Leg Defeat

Despite falling 1-0 to Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal tie, Leicester City still should have a positive outlook heading into the second leg to played back in England on Tuesday.

Heavy underdogs, Leicester were dealt a blow before the match even started when it was announced that captain Wes Morgan would miss yesterday’s match in Madrid. Despite being pressed against the wall for ninety minutes, it took a questionable penalty call and ensuing Antoine Griezmann finish to break what would have been a scoreless draw.

Although an away goal would have been nice, Leicester know how to make up one goal deficits. They advanced past Sevilla with a 1-0 win at home in the second leg. A same result on Tuesday would force extra time and potentially penalties.

Leicester have proven very difficult to beat in the confines of their own stadium. Behind what is sure to be a raucous crowd, exoect Craig Shakespeare’s men to come at Atleti with full force.

Leicester Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel will need to repeat his round of 16 heroics against Atletico Madrid.

It will be vital that midfielders Wilfred Ndidi and Danny Drinkwater win the battle in the midfield and set up Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy, and others for scoring chances. Kasper Schmeichel, who came up huge against Sevilla, will need to cope with the absence of a suspended Robert Huth.

While taking down last years finalist would truly be a monumental feat. These Foxes, with this coach, at this stadium, are the ones to do the job.

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Unclear Futures for Some of the Prem’s Biggest Stars

Since the beginning of the decade, several players have made a name for themselves in the Premier League and have basked in the major dividends that stardom has paid. Players such as Sergio Aguero, Diego Costa, Philippe Coutinho and Alexis Sanchez are all world-class, but their time at their respective clubs, and in England, may be coming to a close.

Sergio Aguero

The Manchester City talisman and scorer of the most famous goal in Premier League history has seen his role at the club come under threat this season. The Argentine was absent for large portions of December and January in favor of Brazilian starlet Gabriel Jesus. However, Jesus’s injury has seemingly given a new spark to Aguero.

With 22 goals across all competitions, it is easy to see why Aguero is still considered a top striker. While there is no doubt he can still contribute to City, there are still several issues that could force an Aguero exit in the summer.

The first is whether or not Pep Guardiola wants to move on from the 28 year old in favor of youth. Jesus’ potential is so great that he could easily be equally if not more productive than Aguero one day. This is certainly a gamble as Aguero is one of the few experienced players in a youthful attack that includes Jesus, Kelechi Iheanacho, Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling among others.

Secondly, it is unknown how Aguero feels about his spot in the starting XI being up for grabs. As he approaches the end of his prime years, a move to another European powerhouse seems likely for Aguero with an eye towards one day returning to play in this native Argentina.

Diego Costa

Diego Costa’s alleged frosty relationship with Antonio Conte could force the striker out this summer.

The Brazilian-born, Spanish-international striker is seemingly constantly at odds with someone. Like Aguero, Costa is one of the premier strikers in England. His 17 goals in the league this season have helped propel Chelsea to a ten point lead at the top of the table. Unlike Aguero, Costa’s problems stem more off the field than on it.

Costa has publicly feuded with teammates before and allegedly has had multiple conflicts with manager Antonio Conte. If these “conflicts” were to get to a point of no return, it would likely be the striker who would move on as Conte has completely turned around Chelsea after last season’s embarrassing performance.

However difficult he may be, Costa is a supreme talent and it is difficult to foresee a scenario where the club let tensions rise to a point where Costa would leave. Now that they have found their footing again, Chelsea would be foolish to let their top scorer leave.

Philippe Coutinho

Philippe Coutinho’s immense skill set has caught the eye of Barcelona.

Since Liverpool signed him from Inter in 2013, Philippe Coutinho’s immense promise and potential have been on display at Anfield. The Brazilian is already a top player in England and possesses the skill, pace, and mentality to become a superstar.

What has been frustrating for Reds’ fans is the inconsistency shown by Coutinho and the team as a whole in recent seasons. Coutinho has shown improvements under Jurgen Klopp and it really only seems to be a matter of when and not if he breaks into the top echelon of players in Europe.

Liverpool are not the only side that are aware of Coutinho’s talent. Barcelona have been heavily rumored to be weighing a move for him in the summer. With an aging Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi’s contract negotiations ongoing, Barca see Coutinho as a future catalyst in their side.

While Coutinho has all the tools to become a Barcelona player, he is not there yet. Barcelona will likely realize this and wait until Klopp has worked further with the dynamic play-maker before the seriously pursue him. It wasn’t until a 33 goal season in 2013-14 that Luis Suarez sealed his move from Anfield to the Camp Nou. Coutinho will need to mimic Suarez if he hopes to join his former teammate at the Catalan club.

Alexis Sanchez

As speculation on Arsene Wenger’s future in North London has stolen the headlines, Sanchez has taken a back seat. The Chilean winger is widely rumored to be unsettled at Arsenal and is frustrated by poor results in the league and Europe this season. Regardless of whether Wenger or Mesut Ozil stay at the Emirates past this summer, it seems a foregone conclusion that Sanchez will not be back next season.

23 goals and 12 assists across all competitions show how tremendous Sanchez has been this season. At the turn of the calendar year, there was a strong case to be made that Sanchez had been the best player in Europe to that point in the season. His departure would cripple Arsenal in a manner in which there is very little they could do to make up for it.

Now, as he is expected to miss an extended amount of time with an ankle problem, we will get a good look at Arsenal without Sanchez and how they cope.

If Sanchez does leave, Juventus and PSG have been rumored to be keeping an eye on him. A move to Juventus would make sense as they still have money to spend from the Paul Pogba sale. With a rock solid defense and legendary goalkeeper in Gianluigi Buffon, the addition of Sanchez on the wing would certainly put Juve among the favorites to win the Champions League next season.

 

 

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