UCL elimination financial ramifications and injury updates

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As imaginable, the ever-fluctuating stock exchange did not take lightly Juventus’ early elimination from Champions League: yesterday, after opening down by 25%, the stocks have closed with a 17,63% dip and the club lost €300M of capitalization, which is now at €1.41B. They crashed down from the historical high registered on Monday, €1.7 per share, to €1.39. They still losing value today, but at a slower rate.

The team will bring in €94M from the Champions League prize pool, which is larger than in previous seasons, but missed out on at least €16M more in case they advanced to the semifinals (€10-12M from UEFA, €5-6M of ticket earnings) and about double that if they made all the way to the final. However, it still represents the second richest haul in the club’s history after the 2016/2017 record. The overall revenue will take a hit toio and, while still projected to grow, they are unlikely to reach the €500M-mark and should stop a €455M. Continue reading

Predicted lineups for this weekend’s EPL games

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After all the midweek Champions League drama, it’s a return to English Premier League action this weekend with all 20 teams involved.

Here are our predicted lineups for those EPL fixtures so have a read in preparation for another EPL fantasy football round.

Manchester City v Spurs

Manchester City XI: Ederson, Walker, Kompany, Laporte, Mendy, De Bruyne, Fernandinho, D. Silva, B. Silva, Aguero, Sterling

Spurs XI: Lloris, Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies, Winks, Wanyama, Alli, Eriksen, Moura, Son Continue reading

EPL: Premier League Predictions for Week 35

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The English Premier League only has a few weeks left and there is clearly a reason why football fans regard the league as the most exciting and competitive. That is because the league title is the closest of all the European major leagues and will most likely go down to the wire between Liverpool and Manchester City.

There are 2 Champions League places to take care of as Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham do battle to secure a top 4 place. And Cardiff have given themselves a chance by beating Brighton in midweek- all is to play for as we enter another weekend of Premier League football which should be enthralling and fascinating.

Manchester City v Tottenham

Just where do we start after the teams played out an incredible Champions League 2nd leg quarter final where City won 4-3 on the night but went out on the away goals rule. City need to win this game or that could be the title over too. They will be utterly determined to win this game at home now. Watch out for Raheem Sterling who was denied a hat trick because of VAR, a system not used in the Premier League yet. Manchester City to beat Tottenham

Bournemouth v Fulham

Fulham got a terrific victory over Everton last weekend even though they are down, but their away form is very poor. Eddie Howe’s side are safe and beat Brighton 5-0 in their last match. Callum Wilson could be the difference between the sides, but this should be a close game. Draw

Huddersfield v Watford

More than likely Watford’s mindset will be preparing for the FA Cup final even if it is still a month away. They will be without influential player Troy Deeney who was sent off in the defeat against Arsenal. Huddersfield are relegated and have little to play for, except for home pride and we could see a surprise result here. Huddersfield to beat Watford

West Ham v Leicester

West Ham have been in poor form but the players put in a great shift against Manchester United at Old Trafford and if they can take something from that game even though they lost they could do well here. Felipe Anderson played very well. Leicester have been strong under Brendan Rodgers but lost their last game at home to Newcastle where they didn’t turn up. West Ham to beat Leicester

Wolves v Brighton

Wolves have been excellent this season but they have just 1 win in their past four games. However at home against a poor form side like Brighton this should be 3 points and they could be back in the hunt for a 7th place finish. Brighton continue to be poor in 2019 and could now face a relegation dog fight. Wolves to beat Brighton

Newcastle v Southampton

The Magpies pulled off a great result last weekend going to Leicester and getting a 1-0 win and playing well. Southampton have just 1 win in their past four games and this is their furthest trip in league fixtures. We will opt for the home win here in a game where we could see plenty of goals. Newcastle to beat Southampton

Everton v Manchester United

Since the beginning of March Everton have found form and Marco Silva’s job has been saved. But they put in a toothless display against Fulham last weekend and lost. Back at home where they beat Arsenal and Chelsea recently they can give United a game. United have been in average form and were knocked out in the Champions League against Barcelona, but remain a danger as they hunt for a top 4 finish. Could Everton’s Richarlison be the difference? Draw

Arsenal v Crystal Palace

Arsenal should have few problems against Palace and get all three points. The Gunners have been one of the best teams in the league at home and have lost here just once back on the opening day of the season. Palace are safe and have little to play for. Pierre Emerick- Aubameyang is in great form and will relish this game. Arsenal to beat Crystal Palace

Cardiff v Liverpool

Cardiff got a massive victory over Brighton in midweek to give themselves a chance for survival. But they must keep winning. The problem is they are facing Liverpool and this will be a difficult match. Liverpool just keep on collecting the points, and whilst this will be  a difficult game for the Reds they should have enough quality up front to hurt the home team. Liverpool to beat Cardiff

Chelsea v Burnley

Chelsea still have a great chance to finish in the top four, the problem is that their direct rivals have 5 games to play while they have 4. That means that every game counts but winning at least at home is essential. Eden Hazard is looking the business as he possibly wraps up his career with the Blues. Burnley are in excellent form with 3 wins from their last 3 games but have lost 9 times on the road this season. Chelsea to beat Burnley

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Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 33

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Thomas Strakosha: fresh off a saved penalty in the Udinese game, he could be able to take home few more bonus points against Chievo, which have scored just nine times on the road.

Jens Larsen: the two-game trip to the Nation’s Capital went poorly for Udinese, which were handled by both Roma and Lazio. However, they have had much success at home, while Sassuolo are pedestrian away and the fullback has been able to haul in points in six of the last eight tilts at the Friuli stadium. Continue reading

EPL Player of the Week – Lucas Moura (Tottenham)

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Tottenham welcomed Huddersfield Town to their new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium at the weekend, and sent the home crowd home very happy indeed with a 4-0 win over the Premier League’s bottom side. The performance was as impressive as one may expect of a side with Spurs’ quality, though goalkeeper Hugo Lloris was barely troubled throughout the game. He was only called into action in the dying stages to keep a free-kick from Huddersfield’s Juninho Bacuna out of the net, but otherwise it was a great showing all round. The star, however, was easily Spurs midfielder Lucas Moura. Victor Wanyama opened the scoring on 24 minutes, but Moura scored just three minutes later when he was played in by Moussa Sissoko – and never looked back.

Continue reading

On this day in 2012: Chelsea beat Barcelona en route to Champions League glory

For a long while, Chelsea and the Champions League was a tale of frustration. Boosted by Roman Abramovich’s investment and Jose Mourinho’s brilliant management, the Blues won two Premier League titles at a canter in 2004/05 and 2005/06. They then added anotherchampionship crown to their honours list under Carlo Ancelotti in 2010, and also scooped an additional five trophies in the form of three FA Cups and two League Cups in the first eight years of the Abramovich era.
Despite their domestic dominance, though, Chelsea repeatedly failed to make the breakthrough in Europe. Under Claudio Ranieri in 2003/04, they were unable to take advantage of a surprisingly open tournament by suffering elimination at the hands of eventual runners-up Monaco in the semi-finals. They were also knocked out at the same stage in Mourinho’s first season thanks to Luis Garcia’s ‘ghost goal’ for Liverpool, before exiting in the round of 16 following defeat by Barcelona in 2005/06.
After more semi-final heartache against the Reds the following year, Chelsea reached their first Champions League final in 2008. They came within a penalty kick of lifting the trophy too, but John Terry’s crucial slip took the shootout to extra time and gave Manchester United a second chance which they did not pass up. Some questionable refereeing decisions played their part in the semi-final loss to Barcelona in 2009, before Mourinho beat his former club while in charge of Inter in the round of 16 the subsequentseason. After a two-legged defeat by Manchester United in the quarter-finals of 2010/11, Chelsea fans were beginning to question whether they were cursed on the continental stage.
It was evidence of football’s unpredictability that the Blues finally got their hands on the trophy when it seemed as if they were past their best. Much of 2011/12 was a disappointment, with Andre Villas-Boas sacked in March after failing to get his ideas across to a group of players who were unconvinced by his methods. Roberto Di Matteo was handed the reins on a caretaker basis, and in his second game in charge the Italian somehow masterminded a 4-1 victory over Napoli which gave Chelsea a 5-4 aggregate triumph inthe round of 16.
The quarter-final draw was kind to Di Matteo’s men, who dispatched of Benfica with a minimum of fuss, but a last-four meeting with Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona – the holders who had made light work of Manchester United in the previous season’s final – was likely to be a step too far. Di Matteo had still only suffered a single defeat by the time the first leg rolled around on April 18, but Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta and co. would surely prove too strong for a side who were sixth in the Premier League standings.
As it happened, Chelsea turned in a resilient performance in front of their own fans at Stamford Bridge to establish a first-leg lead. Barcelona dominated the opening exchanges and were unfortunate not to go ahead when Alexis Sanchez hit the crossbar in the ninth minute, with Cesc Fabregas miscuing from a brilliant position soon after. The Spain midfielder, playing against his future employers, then saw an effort cleared off the line by Ashley Cole, but it seemed like only a matter of time until Barcelona edged ahead.
Instead, on the stroke of half-time Didier Drogba broke the deadlock, turning home Ramires’ cross at the far post to send Stamford Bridge into raptures. Chelsea then faced a predictable second-half onslaught, with Adriano, Sanchez and Carles Puyol all going close before Pedro Rodriguez hit the post in stoppage time. Di Matteo’s charges somehow held on, though, winning the first leg 1-0 despite registering just a single shot on target all night.
“Tonight was about a great collective defensive performance,” Di Matteo said afterwards. “It wasn’t just our defenders: we needed to be able to close down the spaces as much as possible and limit Barcelona’s threat. Ultimately, with the quality of some of their individuals, they still create problems.
“Sometimes it feels like they have 20 players. They play like that against Real Madrid, against Milan, too. But our team were prepared to be patient in defence and not get frustrated. We looked very organised and the boys were really determined not to let them through.”
Chelsea redefined ‘backs to the wall’ in the second leg at the Camp Nou, yet despite the fact that Guardiola believes it was one of his Barcelona side’s best ever displays, the west Londoners escaped with a 2-2 draw which sent them through to the final. That game is remembered fondly seven years on, as is the equally improbable triumph over Bayern in Munich in the showpiece, but neither would have been possible without that 1-0 defeat of Guardiola’s all-conquering team on this day in 2012.

Ligue 1: Week 33: 11 Player Picks for the Weekend

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Another game for PSG and another chance to win the league, but they lost their game in hand over Nantes in midweek. It means that they have missed out on winning the league for the 3rd straight game. Still such is their lead that they will still win the league- they need just 1 more point from 6 games, but they have made heavy weather of it all.

Alongside PSG’s game with Monaco to possibly decide the league outcome we will take a look at the fixtures this weekend in Ligue 1 and try and pick out the players that could earn you points for your Fantasy Ligue 1 team. Formation 4-4-2.

Goalkeeper: Stephane Ruffier- Saint Etienne

Ruffier is valued at 7.5m and has been part of a Saint Etienne team that has conceded just 4 goals in the past month. He has also kept 3 clean sheets from the last five games as they travel to Reims this weekend he could be worth picking up.

Defender: Dante Costa- Nice

Costa has put in some great displays over the past few weeks for Nice and let’s not forget here is a team who have kept 3 clean sheets in a row. Also they will play the bottom club in Caen and will be at home, so will be favourites to pick up the points and keep another clean sheet.

Defender: Malang Sarr- Nice

Let’s stick with another Nice defender who have done so well at the back and that is none other than Malang Sarr who has also played the majority of the season. They are facing the poorest side in the league and will be at home. Sarr is great value too at just 5.5m.

Defender: Kenny Tete- Lyon

Lyon have been in poor form but at the same time surely this will not last as they try and consolidate 3rd place. They will be at home this weekend against Angers in 12th place. Tete has only played 10 games this season but has been the choice of late and is valued at 6.5m.

Defender: Diego Carlos- Nantes

It’s true that Nantes have not kept a clean sheet in over a month but that will end at some point and the club will be at home against Amiens who have only scored 8 goals away from home. There is a good chance they will get a clean sheet and Diego Carlos can score goals too, he did so in Nantes last game against PSG. He is valued at 6m.

Midfielder: Julian Draxler -PSG

Draxler has had a mixed season with PSG but he is set to play when the club take on Monaco due to injuries. He can score goals too and has netted 7 times this season and set up another 3 goals. Draxler can be bought for a bargain 6m.

Midfielder: Mathieu Debuchy- Saint Etienne

The Ligue 1 Fantasy player of the week is in good form and very confident and it’s possible that against Reims he can shine again at the weekend after scoring 2 goals. His distribution is excellent too and he can be brought into your team for 7.5m.

Midfielder: Jonathan Bamba- Lille

Jonathan Bamba has been consistent of late for Lille and he scored against PSG in Lille’s last game which they won 5-1. Lille will be away at the weekend but this is against Toulouse where they will be expected to win and he could well get on the score sheet. Bamba is valued at 7m.

Midfielder: Florian Thauvin- Marseille

Marseille will play Guingamp in 19th place and will be the odds on favourites to win this game. Thauvin has the quality to score from midfield against such opposition and if he isn’t already in your team could well be worth picking, Marseille could get a few goals in that game.

Striker: Kylian Mbappe- PSG

Mbappe was dropped from PSG’s last game v Nantes because he criticised the commitment of the team. But coach Thomas Tuchel has many injury worries and needs Ligue 1′s leading scorer. This is a game in Paris against Monaco where if they win or draw they win the league. Mbappe could score and get the winner and vital points to crown a fantastic domestic season.

Striker: Nicolas Pepe- Lille

Pepe has been one of the finest young strikers not just in Ligue 1 but in Europe this season. Lille will play Toulouse and Pepe has just scored against PSG and found his scoring boots once more. Pepe can add to his tally again at the weekend and is valued at 8m.

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Serie A Fantasy Predictions – Round 33

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An mostly Saturday round that features some goodies.

Parma-Milan: the Ducali have not been able to prevail in a long while, since March 9th against Genoa, their only win since late January, but they stopped the bleeding with two nil-nil results in a row against Torino and Sassuolo. After four disappointing results in a row, Milan returned to winning ways in the pivotal game against Lazio, at last protecting their fourth spot from Roma’s comeback. Gervinho returned in limited fashion from an injury last week and should be in better shape for this one, while Roberto Inglese is set to remain on the shelf and Fabio Ceravolo is not as reliable. Mattia Sprocati and Nicolas Schiappacasse could get a spot start since Luca Siligardi is banged up, but probably their two other more appealing options are Juraj Kucka and Luca Rigoni, who have some feeling with the goal. Continue reading

Škriniar insists Inter deserve to be considered among the best

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During an interview with Sky Sport, Inter central defender Milan Škriniar spoke about a variety of issues including this weekend’s crucial Serie A match against Roma and his blossoming partnership with Stefan de Vrij at the heart of the Nerazzurri defence. Here is what he had to say: Continue reading

Gagliardini urges Inter to remain focused against Roma

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During an interview with Inter TV, Roberto Gagliardini looked ahead to Saturday’s crucial Serie A match against Roma as the Nerazzurri look to secure a place in next season’s UEFA Champions League group stage. Here is what he had to say: Continue reading