Manchester City have a mountain to climb to top Liverpool in the Champions League quarter-finals

By all standards, it has been an absolutely horrible week for Manchester City. Entering the week, they not only had the chance to clinch the Premier League title but also to put themselves in a great position to advance to the semi-finals of the Champions League. They completely failed to capitalize on both opportunities.

Away from home, they lost 3-0 to Liverpool in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals. This match may have been their worst performance of the season as Liverpool thoroughly dominated them throughout.

Manchester City have a mountain to climb to top Liverpool in the Champions League quarter-finals

Vincent Kompany scored the opener against Manchester United (Getty Images Europe)

They then followed that up by playing in the Manchester Derby with a chance to clinch the Premier League title. Despite going up 2-0 in the first half, they capitulated in the second half and lost 3-2 to Manchester United. Blowing such a great opportunity to win the title against their cross-town rival capped off their week from hell.

However, their next fixture is the second leg of the Champions League quarter-finals against Liverpool. With this match being at home, they should have the home support thoroughly behind them. Nevertheless, they will need an absolute masterclass performance from the manager and players alike in order to even have a chance of overturning the 3-0 deficit.

What Went Wrong In The First Leg

Lineup Woes

Pep Guardiola’s starting 11 for Manchester City missed its mark. He elected to go with Aymeric Laporte at left-back. Laporte, although a fine player, just does not offer much going forward. Thus, Liverpool’s defenders could focus on shutting down Leroy Sané on the left wing without having to worry about Laporte threatening going forward. In addition, Guardiola started İlkay Gündoğan in the center-midfield instead of starting a wide player on the right wing. Manchester City had only Kyle Walker, their wing-back, to look for on the right side of the pitch. Thus, they had to force the ball to Sané repeatedly on the left side. If Guardiola had started a true winger, such as Raheem Sterling, a new dimension would have been brought to Manchester City’s attack

Liverpool’s Tactical Masterclass

In the first leg, Liverpool utterly dominated Manchester City with their press. Coming into the match, the common thought was the team that won the midfield battle would win the game. Liverpool achieved this with their press. They barely allowed Manchester City’s back-line any time on the ball and did a great job of clogging the passing lanes in the center midfield.

Kevin De Bruyne kept dropping deeper into the midfield but Liverpool did a great job of denying him the ball. And once he did receive the ball, he was swarmed by Liverpool players and his distribution options were incredibly limited. He played an uncharacteristic number of misplayed passes and lost possession far more than the norm. This was the trend of all of Manchester City’s midfield. None of them looked comfortable on the ball.

Manchester City have a mountain to climb to top Liverpool in the Champions League quarter-finals

Trent Alexander-Arnold was immense for Liverpool in the first leg (Photo: Anthony Devlin/AFP)

The other key in the first leg was that Trent Alexander-Arnold managed to blanket Manchester City winger, Leroy Sané. Coming into the match, many thought Sané would absolutely expose the inexperienced wingback. However, despite being only nineteen, Alexander-Arnold played the best match of his young career. He shut down Sané throughout the match and never let him get any threatening opportunities on goal. Virgil van Dijk and Dejan Lovren were also immense in covering for Alexander-Arnold and helping him defend Sané. Sané kept receiving the ball from his midfielders and consistently lost possession or made the wrong decision. He, along with the rest of the attack, looked visibly frustrated by the end of the match.

Keys For The Second Leg

Manchester City have a mountain to climb to top Liverpool in the Champions League quarter-finals

Bernardo Silva was noticeably missing from the starting 11 in the first leg (Photo: Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

One of the things that forced Manchester City to struggle was the fact they played in a shape they were not accustomed to. So, for the second leg, Guardiola should revert back to the formation that has worked so well this season. He should play a left-back such as Fabian Delph who can get up the pitch. He also needs to play a true right-winger such as Bernardo Silva or Raheem Sterling. Both players would provide width to Manchester City’s attack that wasn’t present in the first leg. Finally, he should play their potent center-midfield midfield trio of David Silva, Fernandinho and Kevin De Bruyne.

The goal for Manchester City in the second leg is fairly straightforward. They need to score three without conceding in order to have a chance of advancing. If they do concede, then they need to score five goals to advance. So clearly, they need to put out a very attacking side. However, Manchester City have scored the most goals in the Premier League by a considerable margin. At home, they have scored three or more goals twelve out of twenty-three times this season. So, they definitely have enough attacking talent to score an abundance of goals in the second leg. However, in those matches, they have only kept nine clean sheets.

Liverpool’s History

When they played Liverpool in the Premier League in September, Manchester City won 5-0. Liverpool did pick up a red card early on, but that match proved that it is possible for Manchester City to overcome their current deficit. If Liverpool picks up a red card or even concedes early, this match becomes instantly tenser.

Liverpool do have a bit of a history of blowing big leads in important matches. In the group stages of the Champions League this season, they went up 3-0 in the first half against Sevilla. However, they conceded three times in the second half and ended up drawing 3-3. Likewise, while chasing the league title in 2013-2014, Liverpool led 3-0 in the second half against Crystal Palace. However, Palace scored three times late in the match and drew Liverpool 3-3.This all but ended Liverpool’s title push that year. If Sevilla and Crystal Palace could stage comebacks in just one half, Manchester City certainly could do so in a full game.

Injuries And Suspensions

Manchester City have a mountain to climb to top Liverpool in the Champions League quarter-finals

Jordan Henderson will miss the second leg due to suspension (Photo: Jonny Weeks)

Most importantly for Liverpool is the fact that Jordan Henderson is missing this leg after picking up a yellow card towards the end of the previous match. Henderson did a great job in the first leg of shielding the back-line and containing Manchester City’s midfield. He was instrumental in Manchester City having no shots on target in the first leg. Liverpool do not have a player who can slot in seamlessly to that role. So, it will be up to Jürgen Klopp to set up his team in a defensively sound structure that mitigates the loss of Henderson.

Another big key for the second leg involves the health of multiple key players for each side. For Liverpool, Emre Can is injured and will most likely not be able to feature in the midfield. In addition, their leading goal-scorer, Mohammad Salah, picked up an injury in the first leg. Sarah missed the Merseyside Derby over the weekend against Everton.  According to Klopp, he should be fine to play in the second leg. However, if he does miss the game, it will be a huge loss to Liverpool’s attack.

For Manchester City, the health of their star striker, Sergio Agüero is of the utmost importance. Manchester City missed him in the first leg as their attack looked absolutely toothless. However, Agüero did feature against Manchester United over the weekend so he should be good to go in the second leg. It will be interesting to see if Guardiola decides to play Agüero up top along with Gabriel Jesus or decides to just bring Jesus off the bench.

Overall, despite the 3-0 deficit for Manchester City, this tie is far from over. Manchester City do have the attacking firepower to score a plethora of goals in this tie. And with Liverpool’s defense being very suspect at times, that is a real possibility. This should a be a cracking second tie and the most entertaining of the four quarter-final second legs.


Prediction: Manchester City 3-1 Liverpool (Liverpool Advances 4-3 on Aggregate)

Featured image by Andrew Yates/Reuters

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Harry Kane Real Madrid

Why Harry Kane to Real Madrid makes sense

Fresh off of Tottenham’s 4-0 thrashing of Everton, Harry Kane is now Tottenham’s leading Premier League scorer in team history. After scoring a brace against Everton, Kane’s goal total with his club rose to 98. Surpassing Teddy Sheringham’s 97 goals with the team, and at the age of 24, it would seem that Kane has many more goals ahead of him for his childhood team. That is of course, unless Kane is sold to another team.

The Englishman scored more total goals in 2017, for club and country, than anyone else in the world, including the likes of Ronaldo, Messi and Neymar. This feat has undoubtedly put him on the radar of all the top teams in the world, if he wasn’t already there. Despite having the top goal-scorer in the world, Tottenham still finds themselves in fifth place in the EPL table. This means they need an overall better surrounding cast despite having players like Danny Rose, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Son Heung-min if they want to seriously contend for an EPL Championship or the Champions League trophy.

The best way for Tottenham to achieve this is by selling its best player. By selling Kane while he is still young, under contract and in top form, Tottenham could command a Neymar-esque price for his services. Last summer’s transfer fee for Neymar to play in the Parc des Princes for PSG from Barcelona was an outstanding record-breaking €222 million, or $263 million.

While it’s unlikely that Kane would command that price, or more, it is likely that he will be close to that range. A good starting point might be somewhere between the €222 million for Neymar and the €120 million for Coutinho from Liverpool to Barcelona from this transfer window.

The criteria

Now that a market range has been established for a player of Kane’s caliber, the next step would be to find which teams may be viable options for a transfer of that magnitude. The most important criteria for a move like this to take place would be need, available assets and team prestige.

Harry Kane Real Madrid

Photo from Getty Images

While every team in the world would have a need for a young goal-scoring machine like Kane, some teams will struggle with altering their already strong starting lineups to be able to accommodate all of the superstar egos and playing time. In order to justify such a big move, the team would also have to be under-performing if they already have superstars on the team, so that would automatically eliminate teams at the top of their table such as Barcelona, PSG, Bayern Munich, Napoli, Juventus, Man City and Man United.

Available assets would be the biggest factor of all. A team would have to have the liquidity to purchase Kane, or players to sell in order to be able to buy him. That factor alone would eliminate almost every team in the world. Only a team with a die-hard international following with lucrative television deals would be able to meet such an asking price.

Last but not least, team prestige could be the last factor that makes or breaks Harry Kane sporting a different team’s kit in the future. If it comes down to a couple of teams, no doubt team prestige would be the determining factor. Kane would want to join a team that could make him an international house hold name like Messi and Ronaldo. This would also allow him to be the target of more lucrative sponsorship deals that could add to his total package.

All things considered, it’s extremely doubtful that Spurs would let Kane go to any English Premier League team, as that would be counter-productive toward their goal of winning the EPL championship. That leaves La Liga teams the most likely options as they have a history of buying some of the best players from the EPL, and they are some of the most prestigious teams in the world outside of England.

Why Real Madrid

Enter Real Madrid. Los Blancos, as they’re otherwise known, seem to fit all of these criteria perfectly. Real Madrid’s current goal-scorers have not been in their best form this season. French striker Karim Benzema has struggled mightily this season, scoring only two league goals this season, something that is almost unimaginable for a Real Madrid striker.

The Gareth Bale to Manchester United speculations only seem to grow larger as each transfer window comes and goes. Team management and Cristiano Ronaldo also seem to be growing further apart with each passing day. It would seem Ronaldo is on his way out of Madrid sooner rather than later as well, giving the team a huge need for a goal-scoring weapon like Kane. Kane is only 24 and still approaching his prime as a player.

He could be the future face of the sport at a club like Real Madrid, widely considered the most popular soccer team worldwide. That checks off the need and team prestige boxes in Madrid’s favor. Madrid came into this season as favorites to win the league along with the Champions League once again. They are currently fourth on their league table, when it was supposed to be Barcelona that imploded with the departure of Neymar.

Last but not least, when it comes to assets, if Real Madrid ended up selling Gareth Bale, they could also sell Benzema and eventually Ronaldo as well, which should give them plenty to spend on a world class player like Harry Kane.

At the end of the day, it’s the fit that makes the most sense for both sides. It would only seem fitting that a player like Kane, who could soon end up being the best player in the world, to play on what some would consider the best team in the world.


Featured image from The Irish News

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

North London Derby tomorrow

We have the first North London Derby of the season when Spurs go to the Emirates to visit the Gunners. Tottenham was on a high before the international break, having back to back wins at home including easily handling the defending European champions Real Madrid. On the other hand, Arsenal is coming off being drummed by Manchester city and are sitting outside the Champions League spots.

The game proves a must-win for Arsenal, their road form has been horrible this year having only four points away from the Emirates. This gives, even more, meaning to the game if Arsenal can’t win the big games on the road, then they must pick up all three points at home. Right now Arsenal is in sixth, four points off the fourth-place spot. A loss on Saturday and that gap will only grow.

The last time Tottenham played to a 1-1 draw at the Emirates, dominating possession without having Dele Ali in the game. They created chance after chance and Arsenal’s goal came from an own goal off a set piece. This can’t happen on Saturday if Arsenal wants to get a result. The defense this year seems more shaky than usual. They have allowed 16 goals so far this year which is more than double what Spurs let in. If Arsenal wants to get all three points on Saturday they have to go back to their classic style of passing them around the park. Arsenal has to be ones that direct the pace of the game because they can’t seem to play well at any other. Here are highlights from last season’s matchup at the Emirates.

They don’t have the defensive structure to change their style of play against big teams. They have yet to win the possession battle in any of the big games and this is unheard of by Wenger teams in England. On Saturday at home, the Gunners should play their classic style if they want to get anything from the game.

Tottenham will like their chances. They have picked up points in their last two visits to the Emirates and they will look for the same on Saturday. While Spurs are in one of the Champions League places, but this is the type of game they have to win comfortably if they want to become Premier League champions. They have proven already that they are at the Champions League level, but can they show that consistently? After having a good string of results: Can they pick up right where they left off before the International break?

Arsenal is trending down as a team failing big to Manchester city and they are dealing the uncertain future of many of their players and Wenger’s future. Meanwhile Spurs are trending up, beating Real Madrid looking like legit Champions League contenders. Last year it was the first time in 22 years that Tottenham finished above Arsenal in the table, and the matchup on Saturday well clearly show us if the Spurs are here to stay or if Arsenal will stop their downfall.

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Zidane finally showing weaknesses

Zidane finally showing weaknesses as Real Madrid are in the middle of a crisis

Zidane has been in a honeymoon since he took the job at Madrid, winning back to back Champions Leagues and bringing the La Liga title back to the Spanish Capital. Yet, on Thursday if you saw this team it would have been hard to believe they were the two-time defending champions. The Spanish side got completely outplayed and looked unorganized and undisciplined in the 3-1 drumming they suffered at the hands of Tottenham.

Tottenham came into the game fighting the Wembley curse and the best team in Europe, and they left looking like the best that can actually challenge for the whole thing. They were able to outplay a process the ball in long stretches of time, create football but at the same time attack Madrid in their counter attacks

Now Madrid sits second in the group and will probably face a tough opponent to start the knockout round. Plus they currently sit an eight point hole in La Liga. It still early in the year but Madrid will have to make drastic changes or their season will be done by Christmas.

What we learned from the game

They Miss Pepe

Nacho was picked out all game (Image: Getty Images)

Madrid actually misses Pepe. They are a loose team at the back and while Ramos is good he can be very undisciplined going forward and that was evident on Thursday. Nacho is not good or quick enough to be the last man in the defense, but with Madrid having so many defenders adding to the attack they leave massive holes. They are missing a stable guy at the back that is willing to foul and play dirty to defend Ramos and Marcelo’s constant push forward.

Part of what makes Madrid amazing is the factor that they can attack you from all parts of the field, but there is the defensive aspect of the game. This has been really the first time we have seen Madrid really look undisnipled when coming out, no immediate marking when someone loses the ball. This made the Tottenham wing backs look like world beaters. Madrid made Trippier look like the best in the world, as he would get into the Madrid third any time he wanted.

These defensive issues weren’t a thing last year, but Varane is injured and Nacho is simply not a Champions League elite-level player. They let Pepe go for nothing in the offseason and got no one to replace him.

They are not as deep as we thought

Benzema has turned old fast, failing to create chances and scoring only once this year. ( Image: Getty Images)

This team is not a deep as people were claiming it to be at the beginning of the year. They got youngsters in the summer, but not really anybody to push the starting 11. Now Benzema turned old fast creating only two shots on Thursday and has only scored a goal this year. That, compiled with Bale’s injury and Morata being sold, they lack a true option to replace him. Zidane had to put in Mayoral to try to make a difference.

Madrid should have a team that is deep in every position and that is what many people thought coming into the season. Yet, we are three months into the season and we have found out that narrative was completely wrong.

The midfield can be outplayed

Casemiro was the only one trying to win the ball back in the midfield (Image; Getty Images)

Yet the most surprising factors on Thursday and honestly bigger than the result is Moussa Sissoko, Harry Winks, Christian Ericksen and Dele Ali outplayed the great Madrid midfield. The one that Mourinho said after the European league was the best in the world and had no one near their level in the premier league. They stop every dribble Madrid mad from the midfield, They had Isco in their back pocket. The Spaniard could never find the space to create any plays and felt lost in the game just running around. He played right in front of the other midfielders which is a formation made to allow him the liberty to dribble with no fear. Yet he only had a single dribble in the game.

Then comes the factor that they left Casemiro alone to clean up all the work from the team losing possession. In the game, he had ten tackles, while Nordic had one and Kross had none. If Madrid wants to be back to their elite level then Madrid and Kross need to help with ball recovery and defensively especially when Marcelo and Ramos are so involved in the build-up so high up the field.

Zidane will have his first opportunity to show he is an elite coach, if he can get Isco and Benzema going again and this defense back in line. The next stretch of games will show what Zidane is really made off. It’s the first time he has to dig himself out of results instead of being in the lead for most of the year.

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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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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.



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.


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

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.


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.


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.


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