Tottenham Face Monaco with Champions League Survival in the Balance

Nov 21, 2016 by Alex Baker

The UEFA Champions League resumes this week as Premier League contenders Tottenham Hotspur prepare to cross the Channel to meet Ligue 1 side AS Monaco.

Hosts Monaco are riding high at the moment, sitting second in the French league table and top of Group E in the Champions League. Manager Leonardo Jardim’s side smashed Lorient on Friday, winning 3-0 on the road, temporarily drawing level with Nice atop the Ligue 1 standings. Radamel Falcao opened the scoring for the Principality outfit and after a couple of seasons spent trying to resuscitate his career in the Premier League, the Colombian striker looks to have rediscovered his scoring touch.

A comfortable win and a Friday kickoff mean that Jardim’s side is likely to be well rested and confident as they welcome... Read More

Tottenham Hosts Leverkusen in Champions League Action

Nov 01, 2016 by Alex Baker

Tottenham Hotspur will welcome Bayer Leverkusen to their European “home” at Wembley on Wednesday for the second leg of the two club’s Champions League group stage tie.

Things finished scoreless two weeks ago when they met at the BayArena, giving Spurs a slight edge ahead of Wednesday’s match. However, Mauricio Pochettino’s side has been on a dreary run of form lately, going winless in their last five games across all competitions.

The good news for Spurs fans is that striker Harry Kane looks set to return to first-team action, which could give the North Londoners a significant lift in the goal-scoring department. The striker has been out since September and his teammates have struggled to find the back of the net in his absence, having only scored twice in their... Read More

No Margin for Error for Man City Against Barca

Oct 31, 2016 by Alex Baker

On Tuesday Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola will again face his old side Barcelona in the second leg of the two clubs’ Champions League group stage tie. Pep’s City side find themselves 4-0 down on aggregate scoreline after effectively being trounced at the Camp Nou two weeks ago.

It would be an exaggeration to say that City’s Champions League hopes are hanging by a thread, but a second defeat to Barça could make things very precarious for them. Especially if Borussia Monchengladbach beat do as expected and beat Celtic in Tuesday’s other Group C fixture.

Harsh as it seems, the 4-0 battering at the Camp Nou is a bit unflattering on City. Guardiola’s side were arguably holding their own until the unfortunate sending off of keeper Claudio Bravo. Had the... Read More

Monaco Host Leverkusen in Champions League Action

Sep 27, 2016 by Alex Baker

Ligue 1 side AS Monaco welcome Bayer Leverkusen to the Stade Louis II on Tuesday as the Champions League group stage gets back underway. The French club won their first European outing this season, defeating Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at Wembley earlier this month. That match came in the midst of an eight-match undefeated streak that was snapped in last week’s 4-0 loss to Nice.

But Monaco came roaring back this weekend, defeating Angers 2-1 with goals from Kamil Glik and Dickson Nwakaeme. That won put the principality outfit temporary league leaders before Nice claimed another win to return to the summit.

Monaco were made to come from behind in that match and have been letting in goals of late. This will be of particular concern as the French outfit... Read More

Atletico Face Bayern in Champions League Re-match

Sep 27, 2016 by Alex Baker

The last time Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich squared off in the Champions League the La Liga outfit knocked the Bundesliga powerhouse out of Europe’s elite club competition. Bayern actually won that match 2-1, but went out anyway on away goals.

The two meet again on Wednesday night at the Estadio Vicente Calderon in Madrid.

In spite of their domestic dominance, Bayern have struggled away from home in the Champions League since last winning the competition in 2013. The five-time European champions have won just two of their last 10 away fixtures in the competition.

Under Pep Guardiola, Bayern had a particularly hard time against Spanish opposition, being knocked out by Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico in the past three seasons.

New Bayern manager Carlo Ancelotti will be... Read More

Juve Open Champions League at Home Against Sevilla

Sep 13, 2016 by Alex Baker

Juventus have made no secret of their intention to parlay their dominance in Serie A into European triumph. They came close two years ago, reaching the final before falling to Barcelona and it’s now been an unfathomable two decades since Juve last lifted the European trophy.

Manager Max Allegri has prioritized acquiring the kind of depth required to mount a two-front campaign to maintain dominance in Europe, while making a real go of things in Europe.

Allegri’s side is off to a perfect start in Serie A with three wins in three games. Higuain already leads the team in scoring with three goals. The acquisition of Argentine striker could be seen as the missing piece for Juve, were it not for the giant, Paul Pogba-sized hole left in the... Read More

Arsenal Open Champions League Campaign Away at PSG

Sep 12, 2016 by Alex Baker

Having foregone their usual qualifier process, thanks to last season’s second-place league finish, Arsenal will open their Champions League campaign with an away fixture against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday.

On Saturday against Southampton, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger rested several key players with an eye towards Tuesday’s clash with the French champions. Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud and Granit Xhaka all started on the bench in the narrow 2-1 triumph over the Saints.

Laurent Koscielny scored a dazzling equalizer in that match, later taking a boot to the face for his efforts.But the Frenchman is expected to recover in time for Tuesday and will likely again start in tandem with new signing Shkrodan Mustafi at the center of the Arsenal defense.

Fellow new signing Lucas Perez had an anonymous debut... Read More

Atletico Looking to Swap Mandzukic for Tevez

Jun 17, 2015 by Alex Baker

With Carlos Tevez already identified as Atletico Madrid’s top transfer target this summer, Juventus, in a bit of football symmetry, have named Atleti striker Mario Mandzukic as the man they would replace the Argentine with. Mandzukic, who had a good but not great season with Atletico, is one of the players the club is reportedly looking to move on this summer.

After falling from last season’s dizzying heights of winning La Liga and making it to the Champions League final, to finish third this season, Diego Simeone is looking to rebuild an Atleti attack that suffered in the wake of Diego Costa’s departure to Chelsea.

While Mandzukic contributed a respectable 12 goals and five assists in the league this season, it was Antoine Griezmann who emerged as Atleti’s... Read More

Champions League: Juventus Face Mission Impossible in Stopping Messi

Jun 03, 2015 by Alex Baker

It’s tempting to cast Saturday’s Champions League Final in Berlin as a clash between two diametrically opposing styles: the possession-based, attacking tiki-taka of Barcelona; and the cautious, defensive catenaccio of Juventus. In reality, though, the only aspects of the game that will truly be that black and white will be Juve’s jerseys.

It’s true that Juventus gave up fewer goals than any team in Italy on their way to winning their fourth consecutive Serie A title; they also scored more goals than any other in Serie A.

Meanwhile Barcelona racked up an astonishing 110 goals in La Liga this season (eight less than second-place Real Madrid), and managed to concede just 21 goals, three less than Juve. Of major sides across Europe, only Bayern Munich gave up fewer goals... Read More

Atleti Holds Advantage Ahead of Champions League Clash with Real

Apr 13, 2015 by Alex Baker

Real Madrid is in an interesting position at the moment. Although favorites to win this season’s Champions League, according to a new study put out by CIES Football Observatory, Carlo Ancelotti’s men must first get past Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid – a team they’ve failed to beat in their last six encounters.

The city-rivals square off against one another on Tuesday in the first part of a two-legged tie that will send one team through to the semis and the other back to Madrid. Atletico are the home team for the first leg so Real Madrid face the daunting task of meeting their bitter rivals in the intimidating atmosphere of the Vicente Calderon. The Calderon is never an easy place for visiting teams and the last time Real paid a... Read More

Shorthanded PSG Triumphs at Chelsea

Mar 12, 2015 by Alex Baker

It’s taken a couple seasons and admittedly, they basically spent their way to the big time. But we have possibly seen the emergence of a new power into European soccer’s big stage this week. Paris Saint-Germain, the Qatari-backed Ligue 1 side that’s risen to the top in France, took their biggest scalp to date in Europe, eliminating Chelsea deep in extra time at Stamford Bridge to advance to the Champions League final four. More impressively, PSG played 90 plus minutes with only 10 men after Zlatan Ibrahimovic was contentiously sent off in the 32nd minute for a collision with Oscar. Sending Ibra off was in fact the first of many bad calls from referee Bjorn Kuipers, who nearly stole the headlines himself early on.

It was supposed to be Zlatan’s... Read More

Chelsea Get FA Cup Rest Ahead of PSG Match

Feb 17, 2015 by Alex Baker

The English champions-elect got a weekend’s rest heading into Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Germain, as FA Cup action brought a one-week halt to Premier League play. Meanwhile their opponents for Tuesday’s meeting were hit with the equivalent of a six-month Arsenal injury crisis in the course of 90 minutes.

PSG had no less than seven players forced off the pitch due to injury during their Ligue 1 clash with Caen Saturday. Of those seven, at least four are expected to be unavailable to face Chelsea.

Granted Chelsea had a more difficult time than expected knocking PSG out of the Champions League last season. However this year’s model is a different animal than the one that squeaked by on away goals last year. Mourinho is often known as a... Read More

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