All posts by jonnyw1987

Forest looking stronger with transfers

Nottingham Forest have been strengthening following their disastrous final day collapse at the end of the 2019-20 season. They have made 5 summer signings so far and I will assess why and how they will make them stronger and aid their push for promotion.

The first signing was a return of a familiar face in that of Jack Colback. Colback enjoyed 2 successful loan spells with the reds in 2018-19 where he made over 50 appearances and now returns on a permanent contract. Such was the success of his previous spells forest tried to bring him back last summer but were put off by wage demands. The midfielder brings plenty of experience with him having made over 200 appearances in the North East regularly featuring in the Premier League. He will add depth to the defensive midfield options beyond Ben Watson and Samba Sow who are liable to missing matches.

Next to arrive was the signing of defender Tyler Blackett. The 26-year-old moves to The City Ground on a permanent contract having left Reading at the end of last season. Blackett started his career in the youth ranks at Manchester United, making 12 first-team appearances for The Red Devils, and gained experience on loan at Blackpool, Birmingham and Celtic. He will provide needed competition for the left back and centre back positions.

Then came the striker Forest have been looking for, Lyle Taylor. The experienced frontman moves to The City Ground having left Charlton Athletic at the end of last season. Taylor scored 11 times for Charlton last season, a rate of a goal every other game for The Addicks in the Championship, to finish as their joint-top scorer. Forest fans have been crying out for another proven striker to take the burden off Lewis Grabban and give the manager the option of rotating his striker position. Taylor was the obvious choice as he was available on a free transfer and brings excellent scoring rate, a prolific 34-goal season with Concord Rangers earned him a move to Bournemouth in 2010. After a move to AFC Wimbledon in 2015, Taylor settled and regularly found the back of the net, helping The Dons to promotion from League Two and to cement their spot in League One prior to firing Charlton to promotion from the third tier in 2018-19 with 25 goals. Forest would have beaten of plenty of competition for his signature.

Next through the door was the permanent signing of midfielder Fouad Bachirou. e Comoros international moves to The City Ground from Swedish top-flight side Malmo. Bachirou started his career at Paris Saint-Germain before moving to Scottish side Greenock Morton, making over 140 appearances ahead of joining Swedish side Ostersunds. During his time with Graham Potter’s side, he lifted the Swedish Cup in 2016-17, and was a runner-up in the following campaign, before switching to Malmo in 2018. The midfielder has extensive experience of both the Champions League and the Europa League during his time in Sweden, helping Ostersunds reach the Europa League round of 32 in 2017, while reaching the same stage of the competition with Malmo in the past two seasons. He will like Colback provide a defensive midfield option.

The latest signing was the arrival of Luke Freeman on a season-long loan from Sheffield United with an option for a permanent transfer. Freeman, an experienced forward/midfielder who has played over 150 times in the Sky Bet Championship, came through the ranks at Arsenal’s academy and after a couple of loan spells in Leagues One and Two he went on to sign for Bristol City. The 28-year-old featured regularly for The Robins and was instrumental in Lee Johnson’s side gaining promotion to the Championship in 2015, as he played over 100 times in three seasons at Ashton Gate before he joined Queens Park Rangers in 2017. Two successful seasons at Loftus Road followed as Freeman’s impressive midfield performances saw him crowned Rangers’ 2018-19 Player of the Season and earn a move to the newly promoted Premier League Blades. Freeman brings a lot of quality in both creating and scoring goals along with versatility. He could play as a left sided forward or an attacking midfielder. The second option brings me nicely to possible departures from the city grounds as 2 play the role.

Tiago Silva has been linked with a move to Olympiacos, owned by Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis. Silva was a regular in the midfield last season and is a popular figure and one I hope remains at the city ground. Another Portuguese playmaker Joao Carvalho provides much debate amongst Forest fans since his £13 million record breaking signing in 2018. He had a positive start to his Forest career under Aitor Karanka but since then a change in tactics, injury problems and a lack of confidence has hindered him greatly. There is a 50/50 split between fans who think he should be in the team regularly and those who think he should be moved on.

Finally we come to the biggest story of the Forest’s Transfer Window – The future of player of the season Matty Cash. He has attracted interest from premier league sides Sheffield United and Burnley but it Aston Villa who appear to be the closest to signing him. Cash is a product of Forest’s academy a hugely popular figure with the fans, especially since he was switched from right midfield to right back at the start of last season. His performances have been outstanding, a vital part in Forest’s attack and defence. Many attacks develop between him and Joe Lolley on the right side which would be a massive miss if he departs.

The only confirmed departure so far has been Tyler Walker who joined Coventry on a permanent transfer. Further arrivals and departures could be on the cards as rumours are Benfica youngster David Tavares, Birmingham Striker Lukas Jutkiewicz and Newcastle winger Jacob Murphy are on Forest’s radar.

European finals preview

Whilst many of us were hoping and maybe expecting a premier league representative in one if not both European Finals they’re sill matches to look forward to and relish. Both Manchester clubs suffered disappointing exists when many people had them down as favourites. City in particular should have had enough to beat Lyon but other thinking tactics from Pep was their downfall.

Bayern Munich’s relentless march through this season’s Champions League continued as they brushed aside Lyon to book an 11th appearance in the final of the competition and a showdown with Paris St-Germain. The German champions have barely had a glove laid on them in Europe this season, with this their 10th straight Champions League win – equalling the record for winning streaks in the competition set by Real Madrid in 2015 and Bayern themselves in 2013 – as part of a 28-game unbeaten run stretching back to December.

Bayern ended their run of having lost the previous four Champions League semi-finals in which they had appeared. It also keeps them on course for a treble of trophies in Hansi Flick’s stellar debut campaign as coach.

Sunday’s final promises to be a thriller, pitting arguably the best side in world football against one of the planet’s finest forward lines.

The stunning 8-2 demolition of Barcelona in the last eight – which had pundits and fans alike purring and sent the Spanish club seemingly into meltdown, Robert Lewandowski, who has 55 goal in 46 games this season and becomes only the second player to score 15 or more Champions League goals in a single campaign after Cristiano Ronaldo (who has managed it on three occasions).

Bayern’s impressive stats:

  • They are on the longest unbeaten run across Europe’s top five league’s (P29 W28 D1 L0), scoring 97 goals during this run (3.4 per game) and winning each of their past 20.
  • They are only the fourth team in Champions League history to surpass 40 goals in a single campaign. Only Barcelona in 1999-2000 have netted more in a single campaign in the competition (45) than Bayern’s 42 this season.
  • They already have two trophies this season, scoring 100 goals to claim their 30th Bundesliga title before also claiming the German Cup.

Paris St-Germain are through to their first Champions League final, One of Europe’s biggest spenders, but also one of the continent’s most high-profile underachievers, finally seized their opportunity.

In the three seasons prior to this one they exited in the last 16, and before that they went out in the quarter-finals four years in a row – results that ultimately cost managers Laurent Blanc and Unai Emery their jobs.

Thomas Tuchel, though, has found a way to break the glass ceiling, leading the side from the French capital to their first major European final since the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1997, a year before Mbappe was born.

You cannot begrudge them it either on the basis of Tuesday’s Semi Final performance, which was calm, confident and incisive.

PSG’S Front three is their biggest asset; Neymar’s brilliant assist took him to 23 goal involvements in 19 appearances for PSG (14 goals & nine assists) in the Champions League and while he and Mbappe’s finishing was rusty, they were still able to regularly fashion chances for themselves and others. When you add Di Maria, who got his 88th and 89th assists in all competitions since he joined the club in August 2015 – (only Barcelona’s Lionel Messi has more in Europe’s top five leagues in that time) He also now has nine goal involvements in the competition this season, surpassing the tally he managed in helping Real Madrid lift the trophy in 2013-14. You have a front three who will fancy their chances of scoring against Bayern who despite their dominant performances give the opponent opportunities. When this trio have started together this season, PSG have lost just one of 12 games. With them fully fit and firing, they will be a match for anyone.

PSG Stat’s

  • This was PSG’s 110th game in the European Cup/Champions League – the most played by a side before reaching their first final, overtaking Arsenal’s record of 90 between 1971-2006.
  • PSG will be the fifth different French side to appear in a European Cup/Champions League final and the first since Monaco in 2003-04. Only Italy, Germany (6 each) and England (8) have had more different clubs appear in the final of the competition.
  • German sides have been eliminated in the semi-finals of the Champions League on each of the past five occasions they have reached this stage of the competition (Bayern four times between 2014-2018 and RB Leipzig tonight), since both Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund made the final in 2012-13.
  • No side has ever scored in more consecutive matches in major Uefa competitions than PSG’s current run of 34 (level with Real Madrid between 2011-2014 in the Champions League). The last side to stop the Parisians scoring were Manchester City back in a 1-0 win in April 2016.
  • PSG’s Angel di Maria is unbeaten in all 17 Champions League matches he has scored in (W15 D2 L0 – 21 goals in total) – only Mohamed Salah (18), Gonzalo Higuain (21) and Patrick Kluivert (25) have scored in more games without defeat in the competition’s history.

Europa League Final

Inter Milan will face Sevilla in final on Friday, Romelu Lukaku extended his Europa League scoring run to 10 matches as Inter set up Friday showdown with Sevilla. He  scored twice as Inter Milan thrashed Shakhtar Donetsk 5-0. Lukaku is the first player in UEFA Cup/Europa League history to score in 10 consecutive matches via a run stretching back to November 2014 with Everton. Lukaku and Martinez are the first duo to score 20+ goals each in a single season for Inter Milan since Adriano and Obafemi Martins in the 2004-05 campaign.

Inter Milan boss Antonio Conte:

“I am very happy to say we feel very satisfied because our fans see Inter Milan reaching, firstly, a semi-final and now a final of the Europa League after ten years. Of course, we are really looking forward to provide some satisfaction to all of them, but we also know we are facing an opposition with great experience.They have won this tournament five times already, so we will have to prepare ourselves in the same way we have done against Shakthar.I have a great satisfaction to see how the team are giving everything they got with plenty of eagerness and resolution. I am satisfied also because the players do really believe in what we are doing, in what we are proposing. I think we play a very brave game.”

Sevilla feel like they own this competition with a remarkable record, they won three in a row from 2014 to 2016. This showed in the win against manchester united as despite being second best they kept their belief and confidence to snatch the victory. Against Wolves also they kept going in what was even game to get another late winner.

New Premier league fixtures announced

Today fans can start looking forward, planning and getting excited about the new Premier League season as their teams fixtures have been released. The wait is over to find out when your team play their big local derby, crucial relegation and european qualification battles.

Newly promoted Leeds face the toughest challenge possible on opening weekend against Champions Liverpool. Championship play-off winners Fulham will host Arsenal, while West Bromwich Albion, the third promoted side, are at home to Leicester City. A tough start for all the newcomers.

The opening round of fixtures will take place on the weekend of 12 September. However, Manchester City v Aston Villa and Burnley v Manchester United will be rearranged.Those two games will not be played on the opening weekend to give City and United 30 days since their defeats in the quarter-finals of the Champions League and the semi-finals of the Europa League respectively. Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers’ opening matches are both scheduled for Monday, 14 September after their slightly earlier European exits. The Blues are at Brighton, while Wolves go to Sheffield United.

The other opening weekend fixtures are Crystal Palace v Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur v Everton and West Ham United v Newcastle United.

Exact dates and kick-off times will be confirmed when the television selections are made.

When are the key fixtures?

Manchester City, who finished second last season, face title rivals Liverpool at Etihad Stadium on 7 November, with their other game on 6 February.

Selected matches…

  • 19th September – Chelsea v Liverpool
  • 5th December and 13th March – Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal
  • 12th December and 6th March – Manchester United v Manchester City

With the season starting a month later than usual because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the games will come thick and fast.The upcoming campaign will be five weeks shorter than a standard season because of the late end to 2019-20.

Arsenal and Liverpool meet in the Community Shield on 29 August, with players then going on an international break for the Nations League before the Premier League starts.

Spurs start Europa League qualifying on 17 September and could end up with two first-team matches in the same midweek as those are the dates Premier League clubs not in Europe enter the Carabao Cup at the second round.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE REPORT

As we reach the half way stage in the UEFA Champions League Semi-Finals it has been a case of late goals and underdogs proving the wheir worth. Juventus and Real Madrid both exited at the last 16 stage to Lyon and Manchester City respectively.  Atletico Madrid became the next big name to fall as they were beaten 2-1 by RB Leipzig. A surprise in many people’s eyes but Atletico have had an overall disappointing season  and were second best on the day to a more positive Leipzig side who continue their fabulous journey under manager Nagelsmann, despite the absence of star striker Timo Werner, following his transfer to Chelsea. RB Leipzig reach their first Champions League semi-final, opened the scoring five minutes into the second half when Spaniard Dani Olmo headed home Marcel Sabitzer’s cross. However, Diego Simeone’s team drew level thanks to substitute Joao Felix, who both won and converted a penalty with 19 minutes to go. With extra-time looming, though, Leipzig won it thanks to their own substitute as Adams saw his low drive deflect in past a helpless Jan Oblak via Stefan Savic’s outstretched leg.

The other Quarter Final to have been played saw PSG scrape through thanks to tow late gaols by unlikely sources to reverse a 1-0 deposit to Atalanta. Centre back Marquinhos and former Stoke City forward Choupo-Moting both scored in stoppage time to save the Paris side’s blushes and reach semi-finals for first time in 25 years. Thomas Tuchel’s side looked set for another agonising quarter-final exit after Mario Pasalic’s 26th-minute strike gave Atalanta a deserved half-time lead at the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon. PSG lacked inspiration throughout although Neymar missed two very good chances in the first half. The introduction of Kylian Mbappe, who was named on the bench for PSG following an ankle injury that changed the match. PSG advance to face RB Leipzig in the Semi Finals and will fancy their chances of making the Final.

Tonight sees two giants of the game go head to head as Barcelona face Bayern Munich. Barcelona are facing the prospect of going a season without a trophy if they fail to win this completion after they were beaten to the La Liga Title by Real Madrid. Bayern however are in fantastic form following a comprehensive win in the previous round against Chelsea. The match has been billed as Messi v Lewandowski, The later could beat Cristiano Ronaldo’s champions league record goal tally.

“We are a weak team who can be beaten with enough intensity and enthusiasm.” That was Lionel Messi’s brutal assessment of this current Barcelona side.

Lewandowski in full flight. The Polish striker has confirmed his status as one of the modern era’s greatest goal scorers this season, finding the net 53 times in 44 appearances across all competitions.

This is the first Champions League meeting between Barcelona and Bayern Munich since 2014/15, when Barcelona knocked Bayern out in the semi-final. However, Barcelona have lost more Champions League games against Bayern than any other club, losing five of their eight matches against them (W2 D1).

The final Quarter Final sees England’s last representative and many people’s favourites Manchester City face Lyon. City will be odds-on to win however as previous matches have proved underdogs cannot be under-estimated, Lyon were underdogs against Juventus but progressed. If City do progress they will face their sternest test against Bayern or Barcelona in what is the tougher half of the draw.

In this forever difficult completion to predict the best I can do is say that whoever wins the Semi-Final on this side of the draw will be favourites in the Final.

Champions League, Europa League draw

Manchester City will face Juventus or Lyon in the Champions League quarter-finals if they knock out Real Madrid in their delayed last-16 second-leg tie when the competition resumes in early August. Pep Guardiola’s side, who will learn the fate of their appeal against a two-year ban from UEFA club competitions for Financial Fair Play rule breaches on Monday, hold a 2-1 lead from the first leg in Madrid back in February.

Chelsea, the only other remaining Premier League club left in Europe’s top-tier competition, trail Bayern Munich 3-0 ahead of the return leg in Germany, with the winners drawn to meet either Napoli or Barcelona.

RB Leipzig, who defeated Tottenham to reach the last eight of the Champions League for the first time, will meet Atletico Madrid while Atalanta, playing in the Champions League for the first time, have drawn French champions Paris Saint-Germain.

On Thursday, UEFA announced the remaining last-16 second-leg ties in the Champions League will be single-leg fixtures and are set to take place in Lisbon, Portugal at either Sporting’s Estadio Jose Alvalade or Benfica’s Estadio da Luz between August 12-23.

  • Real Madrid or Manchester City (1-2) vs Lyon or Juventus (1-0)
  • Winners to play Napoli or Barcelona (1-1) vs Chelsea or Bayern (0-3)
  • Atalanta vs PSG
  • RB Leipzig vs Atletico Madrid

Meanwhile Manchester United will play Copenhagen or Istanbul Basaksehir in the Europa League quarter-finals if they overcome Austrian side LASK.United are in a strong position to reach the next stage of the competition as they hold a 5-0 first-leg lead over LASK with the second game still to be played.

Wolverhampton Wanderers will face Sevilla or Roma if they progress in their tie against Olympiakos, which finished 1-1 in the first leg in Greece. The winners of those two quarter-final ties will then meet in the semi-final, meaning an all-Premier League contest in the final four could take place but unlike last season no all-Premier League final is possible.

A game against Inter Milan or Getafe awaits Rangers, but they must overcome a 3-1 deficit against Bayer Leverkusen with the second leg to come in Germany.

 

As the champions league enters the final 8 stage George Clayton talks about the who co on our YouTube channel Now by clicking the link below

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCbgefVH2W0

Quarter and Semi-final draw in full