European Football Show – 14th December

Wolves vs Chelsea Match Preview; 5th December

Chelsea will be coming into this game as more of the confident team after they returned to winning ways at the weekend with a 2-0 win over Fulham in the West London Derby.

Goals from Pedro and Ruben Loftus-Cheek beat a spirited Fulham side on Sunday.(https://abdhfootball.com/2018/12/02/chelsea-vs-fulham-2-0-match-report-and-player-ratings-article/)

Prior to their win on Sunday, Chelsea’s last Premier League win came on the 4th of November when they beat Crystal Palace 3-1 at Stamford Bridge. They were winless in 2 Premier League games before beating their West London Rivals at the weekend.

The Blues now travel to Molineux to face a Wolves side who have won just one point since September. Friday’s 2-1 loss to Cardiff was Wolves’s sixth defeat in seven games – only Arsenal have failed to beat them in that run – and they face Liverpool and Tottenham before the end of the year.

After a brilliant start to the season, Wolves have slipped down the table at a fast rate, and now will be looking to halt the downslide, with an inspired performance on Wednesday when the Blues come to town!

Wolves have down well against the top 6 so far this season, picking up impressive draws against Manchester City at home and Arsenal away so far this season, drawing 1-1 in both of those respected games. They also pushed Tottenham close when they lost 2-3 at the Molineux.

So this game isn’t a certain win for the blues!

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form in the last 5 games

Wolves- L/L/D/L/L

Chelsea- W/W/D/L/W

Team News

Wolves

Wolves will be without the suspended Ruben Neves, after the midfielder picked up his fifth yellow card of the season.

Jonny Otto remains out for another month with a knee injury

Chelsea

Barkley is in line to return to Chelsea’s squad for the trip to Wolves after he missed this weekend’s game against Fulham with a slight ankle problem.

Chelsea’s only injury doubt for this game is midfielder Mateo Kovacic, after he limped off in Chelsea’s win at the weekend to Fulham.

Other than Kovacic, Sarri should have a full squad for the Wolves game.

Predicted Line-ups

Wolves’s possible line up- Patricio, Bennett, Coady, Boly, Doherty, Moutinho, Saiss, Vinagre, Jota, Costa, Jimenez.

Chelsea’s possible line up-  Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso, Kante, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek, Willian, Giroud, Hazard.

Manager/ Player Comments

Wolves- Nuno Espirito Santo

“A team is like a player, it has ups and downs.

“You have to find solutions to help them and give them good advice and work with them. It doesn’t have to do with confidence, it has to do with so many aspects of the game – technical, tactical, mental – and we have to solve it.

“We have had a block of games with mistakes, from a team which is still growing. When the results don’t come, what is important is how you approach the situation.”

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Wolves Player- Romain Saïss

“I think it will be a hard game, because this season they played well with the new coach Sarri and they have a lot of good players, but we don’t need to think about all the good players of Chelsea.

“It is a good test for us, but we have to stay together. I know maybe Chelsea get the ball for this game and we have to stay compact and think about points because we need points.

“To get points we have to play well, so it will be very hard, but I think we played well against the big teams, like we did against City, Arsenal or United, so I think it is a good example for us.

“We have to give everything on the pitch to get at least a point.”

Chelsea- Maurizio Sarri

Sarri on Wolves: “I expect a very difficult match because they are a very technical team. They have a lot of technical players. They were unlucky in the last two matches, I think it is not easy to play there.”

Round up of Sarri’s press conference (Credit- @NizaarKinsella)

  1. Hopes Luiz-Cesc follow Azpi and renew deals
  2. Says it will be difficult though
  3. Alonso was injured vs Fulham Kovacic too but both fit
  4. RLC improving in his style of play
  5. Won’t talk about Pulisic

Head to Head record/ Match Statistics

These two sides have met 105 times in total in all competitions over the years. Chelsea have the better head to head record with Chelsea winning 41 times. There have been 26 draws between these two sides in all competitions. Wolves have won 38 times. So Chelsea don’t have a much better head to head record, they just edge it.

The last meeting between these two sides was in February (2017) in the FA Cup which  ended 0-2 to Chelsea with goals from Pedro and Diego Costa helping Conte’s side progress  to the Quarter-Finals of the FA Cup.

Betting odds/My Prediction

Betfair have made Chelsea favourites for this encounter on Wednesday at 7:45pm away at Wolves, with a Blues win being priced at 4/5. A surprise Wolves win is being priced at 4/1. A draw between these two sides is being priced at 14/5.

Other betting odds from Betfair

First goalscorer odds

  • Eden Hazard: 4/1
  • Olivier Giroud: 5/1
  • Jimenez: 17/2
  • Leo Bonatini: 10/1

My Prediction

My Optimistic prediction for this game is a 1-2 Chelsea win.

My realistic prediction for this game is a 1-0 Wolves win. I just feel like they may catch us cold and return back to form with a famous win over the blues at their home ground.

By Danyal Khan

 

 

Neymar and Mbappe fit to face Liverpool in Champions League Showdown

The PSG stars were doubts following injuries picked up on international duty but Tuchel has confirmed both are fit to start. 

Neymar limped off early in Brazil’s 1-0 win against Cameroon last week whilst French starlet Kylian Mbappe sustained a shoulder injury in their 1-0 victory against Uruguay.

Both players trained with the PSG squad on Tuesday afternoon and Tuchel later stated in his press conference that: ‘Neymar is 100 per cent fit, as is Mbappe, and they will be in the line-up tomorrow.’

This will be a huge boost to the French champions who must get a result against Liverpool to keep their Champions League title hopes alive.

Defeat for the home side at the Parc des Princes tomorrow night, provided Napoli are able to beat Red Star Belgrade at the Stadio San Paolo, will mean another disappointing early Champions League exit for PSG, who are yet to win Europe’s most prestigious trophy.

Liverpool were able to get the better of PSG when the two sides faced each other at Anfield in September, with a late Roberto Fimino goal securing the reds a 3-2 victory.

However, Klopp’s men have struggled away from home in Europe this season and losses away to Napoli and Red Star Belgrade mean Liverpool’s hopes of progressing to the round of 16 also rely on getting a result tomorrow night.

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Team News

Mbappe and Neymar trained for PSG on Tuesday morning and Tuchel confirmed the pair are fit and ready to face Liverpool on Wednesday night.

For Liverpool, Sadio Mane trained on Tuesday morning and travelled with the squad to Paris after it was reported he may miss the clash due to illness.

Klopp said: “He will be fine. If he plays, we will see, but he is fine,

“Sadio was on the plane, so if nothing happened when I left the plane and went for one-and-a-half hours to the press conference… when I saw him last he was fine.”

Joe Gomez also returns to the Liverpool squad after he missed their 3-0 victory at Vicarge road on Saturday afternoon.

Notable absentees include Adam Lallana, Nathaniel Clyne, Divock Origi and Dominic Solanke.

The reds boss said: “Adam Lallana is back in training on Thursday, but that is obviously after the game tomorrow,

“The issue is nothing anymore because he is on the way back; it was a minor muscle thing and nothing serious.

“Dom has a little groin issue, it happened in training.”

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What the managers said

The Liverpool boss looks forward to his side taking on the French champions and that believes his side are ready to get a result.

He said: “We are here, we didn’t ever think negatively about it, we were looking forward to the game in Paris.

“We don’t play here very often and it’s a big task. It’s just really exciting and the more difficult it is, the more I enjoy the preparation because you have to think about pretty much everything,

“We have to make sure that they are not that dominant against us. When we have our possession we [have to] do something smart with that. That’s all in two training sessions, actually one, today.

“The weather was not too good in Liverpool but the boys were 100 per cent focused for 60, 70 minutes on the pitch, fully concentrated and hopefully you can see that tomorrow night.”

The PSG boss highlighted the threat of Liverpool’s attacking talent: “We need to defend well against (Sadio) Mane, (Mohamed) Salah and (Roberto) Firmino.

“Firmino may play any position in attack so we have to adapt. What is key for us is to play with confidence and we play to win. A key thing for us is to pass the ball very fast and make swift decisions.”

He also demanded focus from his players as they prepare for the test of what Tuchel described as “one of the greatest teams in Europe”

He went on to say: ““There are still big steps for us and we have to make a big step tomorrow. If you search for the word ‘team’, you end up with Liverpool because they really play as one under Jurgen Klopp in every single game.

“There is a possibility we don’t win, but it is very important tomorrow we focus on winning. The bigger the game, the bigger the pressure, the more important is the focus.”

 

The last time Liverpool faced PSG in Paris was in the 1996/97 season in the Semi-Finals of the UEFA Cup Winners Cup where they suffered a 3-0 defeat.

Last year’s finalists will hope it’s a different story tomorrow night and that they’re able to secure their place in the round of 16.

Manchester United come from behind to secure 2-1 win against Juventus in Turin

A Juan Mata free-kick and an Alex Sandro own goal was enough to give Manchester United the victory at the Allianz  Stadium.

After a goal-less first half, it was former Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo with a stunning strike to put the home side ahead.

Leonardo Bonucci found the run of Ronaldo, who volleyed home with David De Gea unable to react.

But Juan Mata stepped up when it mattered and put United back on level terms with a wonderful free kick in the 86th minute.

Just three minutes later, Ashley Young curled in a dangerous cross which Wojciech Szczęsny was unable to deal with, it bounced off Alex Sandro and into the back of the net.

The Reds now sit second in Group H, just two points behind leaders Juventus.

Juventus have had an impressive start to their 18/19 Champions League campaign, winning all three of their previous fixtures and not conceding a single goal.

The home side had their chances throughout the first half, their best coming from a Ronaldo pull-back in the 35th minute which saw Sami Khedira’s shot bounce off the post.

The defeat would’ve been a huge disappointment to Allegri’s side after a dominant display and a world-class strike from their star man, Ronaldo.

But as we’ve seen a lot so far this season, Mourinho’s side dug deep and were able to capitalise on late chances, securing an 89th minute winner.

The United boss spoke very highly of his players after the game: “I know millions are happy with the win. But I respect Juventus and the quality they have. I am really proud of my boys because they did everything.”

“We had to come and not feel inferior. We were in a situation where we thought we needed to go to the last second of the match. The boys started really well and things were under control.”

Man of the Match: Cristiano Ronaldo – despite his side suffering an unfortunate defeat, it was a moment of brilliance from the Portuguese international that put them ahead.

After signing for Juventus for £99.2m in the summer, Ronaldo proved yet again why he is regarded as the best in the world, with his stunning volley winning him his first goal for the Italian side in the Champions League.

Ronaldo was a constant threat, but it was a testament to the solid defensive work from the Reds that nothing came from the chances.

 

Liverpool’s Champions League progression in doubt following 2-0 defeat against Red Star Belgrade

Liverpool were unable to make a come back following two first-half goals from Red Star’s Pavkov.

The reds first big chance of the game in the 17th minute, but Klopp’s men were left to rue Sturridge’s missed effort from close range.

5 minutes later, Red Star broke the deadlock as Marin picked out the head of Pavkov from a corner, who was able to beat Alisson.

Things quickly got worse as Pavkov shrugged off Georginio Wijnaldum less than 10 minutes later and fired a 25-yard thunderbolt straight past the Liverpool keeper.

Despite two half-time changes which saw Daniel Sturridge and Trent Alexander-Arnold subbed off for Roberto Firmino and Joe Gomez, Liverpool were unable to get themselves back into the game.

The Liverpool boss admitted after the game “The boys are very disappointed, I’m very disappointed and we have to do better.

“We have to do better because we can do better, but tonight it is too late.

“It is not what we wanted and we will go for the other two games 100 per cent. We all have to deal with it now.”

It was a brilliant display from the home side, who earned their first victory in the Champions League this season.

A win at Red Star would’ve put the reds in a strong position to qualify from Group C.

Liverpool must now get results away to Paris-Saint-Germain and at home to Napoli to ensure they are to progress into the round of 16, which won’t be an easy task.

Liverpool never do it the easy way, do they?

Man of the match – Milan Pavkov (Red Star Belgrade)

Two goals from the forward saw Red Star Belgrade become the first Serbian side to win a Champions League group game.

Liverpool Player Ratings:

Alisson (5), Trent Alexander Arnold (4), Joel Matip (5), Virgil Van Dijk (6), Andy Robertson (6), Georginio Wijnaldum (4), James Milner (4), Adam Lallana (4), Daniel Sturridge (4), Mohamed Salah (5), Sadio Mane (5)

Subs: Joe Gomez (6), Roberto Firmino (5), Divock Origi (5)