Category Archives: COVID-19

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE Tuesday Night PREVIEW

The UEFA Champions League returns tonight with two nights of action lined up and plenty of top quality fixtures in store.

After last seasons competition drawing to a close in odd circumstances without fans in Lisbon and in a one game format, this seasons tournament kicks off without fans across Europe as counties continue to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s your preview of the key fixtures from the opening night…

Barcelona v Ferencvaros

After a turbulent summer, Barcelona, with Lionel Messi, will be happy to be back playing football, and none more so than in their favourite competition.

The Catalan giants go into their opening fixture as huge favourites and should make light work of Celtic’s qualifying conquerors.

Chelsea v Sevilla

This looks set to be a classic tie as Frank Lampard’s new look Chelsea host the Europa League winners Sevilla at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues have been inconsistent this term in the Premier League and have made a habit of conceding goals, something they will have to address on the opening night as they face a well organised La Liga outfit who pose plenty of threat.

PSG v Manchester United

Manchester United travel to last seasons runners-up and the birthplace of the permanent appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjær.

United haven’t made a particularly thrilling start to their domestic campaign, despite a 4-1 victory in their last outing. This will be a huge test for the three times European champions.

The Red Devils will also be without their club captain Harry Maguire in defence, while Edinson Cavani is currently deemed not fit enough yet to play against his former employers having only started training with United on Sunday.

PSG, meanwhile, have won their last five games in Ligue 1 and look set to provide plenty of problems.

Other Fixtures

Dynamo Kyiv v Juventus 17.55, Zenit St Petersburg v Club Brugge 17.55, Lazio v Dortmund 20.00, RB Leipzig 20.00, Rennes v Krasnodar 20.00

Portland Timbers defeat Orlando City SC in MLS is Back final

When the World Cup-style tournament began on July 8, no one was quite sure how it would turn out. With FC Dallas and Nashville SC withdrawing due to several COVID-19 results, there was uncertainty if there would ever be an end result. 

However, one month and three days later, the Portland Timbers were crowned the champions of the MLS is Back Tournament with a 2-1 victory over Orlando City SC at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

The victory by the Timbers not only gave them the chance to hoist the coveted trophy but it also guaranteed them a spot in the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League as well as $300,000 in prize money.

Portland, who were in their third cup final in six years, were able to get on the board first in the 27th-minute. After left-back Jorge Villafaña won a free kick in the attacking half, club legend Diego Valeri delivered a perfect ball to Larrys Mabiala, who was able to head it in past goalkeeper Pedro Gallese.

 

Moments later, however, the Lions were able to equalise when Mauricio Pereyra found the back of the net after receiving a cross from former Manchester United player Dani.

 

In the 66th-minute, the Timbers were able to score what turned out to be the winner after the ball magically landed in front of Dario Zuparic, who poked it into the net.

 

It was a Cinderella story for Orlando, who were not even supposed to do well in their group, much less make the final. However, after winning their group and getting some impressive victories in the knockout stage, including an upset over tournament favourite Los Angeles FC, head coach Oscar Pareja has a lot to look forward to in the future.

For Portland, their experience in title matches showed as they remained cool, calm, and collected in winning their first piece of silverware since they won the 2015 MLS Cup. It was also an impressive feat because they were able to defeat a team who play approximately 20 miles away from where the matches were being held for this tournament.

 

The MLS is resuming its regular season play today, when FC Dallas host Nashville SC after both teams were disqualified from the tournament in the Sunshine State.

On August 23, the Portland Timbers will return to action as they host rival Seattle Sounders in a much-anticipated matchup. Orlando City, meanwhile, will travel to Fort Lauderdale, where they will take on in-state rival Inter Miami on August 22.

Walt Disney World is known as the place “Where Dreams Come True,” and the Portland Timbers were able to experience that feeling as they are on top of the MLS.

The Football Association announces opening two rounds of fixtures for WSL 2020-21 season

The FA have confirmed that defending champions Chelsea FC will begin their title defence away at Casey Stoney’s Manchester United side on the 6th September.

The season will however begin behind closed doors until it is safe for fans to return and the full fixture list will subsequently be released in early September.

Fans will, however, be able to watch matches live via the online FA Player streaming platform.

The Blues were awarded the title on a point’s per game basis after the season’s remaining matches were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Subsequently, this saw the West London club awarded the title ahead of their rivals, Manchester City.

Emma Hayes team played The Red Devils twice last season coming away with two 1-0 victories, the last win came courtesy of a Maren Mjelde goal in the Continental League Cup Semi Final encounter back in January of this year.

Chelsea women have already had a successful transfer window to date as 2019/20 player of the year, Beth England has already committed to the club by signing a new long-term contract.

While the likes of England international centre-half Millie Bright and Scotland’s Erin Cuthbert have also pledged their futures to the West London side.

Manchester City meanwhile begin their first full season under their new manager, Gareth Taylor and are away at newly promoted side Aston Villa, who are playing in the top flight of women’s football for the first time in their history.  Both of these sides will have the honour of kicking off the new campaign on the 5th September.

Joe Montemurro’s Arsenal, who are looking to reclaim the WSL crown from their London rivals, start their campaign at home to Reading.  Elsewhere, Hope Powell’s Brighton team host Birmingham City, who narrowly avoided relegation last season.

While rounding off the opening series of matches is a London Derby between Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United and West Midlands side Bristol City play Everton.

Opening two rounds of WSL fixtures

5th September

Aston Villa v Manchester City – (2:30pm BT Sport 2 HD)

6th  September 

Arsenal v Reading – (12:30pm BBC Red Button)

Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United – (2pm)

Bristol City v Everton – (2pm)

Brighton and Hove Albion v Birmingham City – (2pm)

Manchester United v Chelsea – (2:30pm BT Sport 1 HD)

12th September 

West Ham United vs Arsenal – (5:20pm BT Sport 1 HD)

13th  September 

Chelsea v Bristol City – (12:30pm BBC Red Button)

Everton v Tottenham Hotspur – (1pm)

Birmingham City v Manchester United – (2pm)

Manchester City v Brighton & Hove Albion – (2pm)

Reading v Aston Villa – (2pm)

Brentford meet Fulham in 170 million pound encounter

Following 48 Championship matches, for West London rivals Brentford and Fulham it comes down to one 90-minute game to determine the success or failure of their season. 

For Fulham and Scott Parker it is a chance to bounce straight back up, while for Brentford it is an opportunity for the Bees to play in the top-flight for the first time in 70 years.

Brentford’s season

This season was always going to be an emotional one for the Bees as it was going to be the final one at Griffin Park, which has been their home for 116 years.

Indeed, this campaign has certainly proved to be an eventful one for Tom Frank’s side. The first half of the season started off slowly but they did manage to secure an impressive 7-0 win over Luton Town at the end of November and they did also beat their play-off final opponents at Griffin Park back in December 1-0 thanks to a Bryan Mbeumo goal.

It was the Bee’s Championship restart form that ultimately proved the catalyst for their promotion charge.  They once again managed to beat Fulham, this time 2-0 thanks to their Algerian superstar, Said Benrahma. They followed that result up with an impressive 1-0 win over Slavin Bilic’s West Brom, thanks to a goal from their striker, Ollie Watkins, who has managed 26 goals in all competitions this campaign and will be much sort after by Premier League clubs if Brentford do not go up this time around.

A further five victories in a row over Reading, Wigan, Charlton, Derby and Preston followed, which sparked talk not just a play-off spot but of automatic promotion.  Tom Frank’s side, however, would suffer defeat in their final two matches against Stoke City and Barnsley, which ultimately ensured that they had to make do with a third place finish and a spot in the Play-Offs.

The Play-Offs for the Bee’s fans certainly strike both excitement and trepidation into their hearts.

One hard luck story in particular comes to mind for the West-London club took place seven years ago when they missed a late penalty against Doncaster Rovers in the 90thminute before Rovers would then break upfield to score and go up as League One Champions.  Further heartbreak in the League One Play-off final at Wembley was to follow as Brentford lost 2-1 against Yeovil Town.

It has been, however, a case of so far so good for Tom Frank’s side as they managed to overcome Steve Cooper’s Swansea City team.  Having lost the first leg 1-0 thanks to an Andre Ayew goal, the second leg and last game at Griffin Park saw a dramatic turnaround inspired by Ollie Watkins, who levelled the tie in the 11thminute of the match.

A header from Emiliano Marcondes followed which gave the London side the lead on the night and on aggregate before a volley from Mbeumo gave the hosts a two-goal cushion.  On loan Rhian Brewster managed to pull a goal back for the Welsh side 12 minutes from time to produce a grand stand finish but the visitors ultimately were unable to find that all important goal to take the game to extra time.

Fulham’s Season

For manager Scott Parker’s first season in charge of Fulham the task was simple, bounce straight back up.  Easier said that done, the Cottagers, however, set about this in impressive fashion.  Although they started off with an opening day 1-0 loss to Barnsley, they managed to produce strong league performances particularly in November when they won four and lost just once.

The lockdown, however, did not come at a good time for the London club as they had just come off two straight wins against promotion rivals Swansea City and Preston and secured a 1-1 draw at Bristol City.

Indeed, the restart subsequently witnessed the Cottagers loose against Brentford and Leeds United before recapturing some of their form from November by winning against the likes of Nottingham Forest and Cardiff City and they also emerged on the right end of a 5-3 score line against Sheffield Wednesday thanks to two goals each from Neekaens Kebano and top scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic.

That result ensured that they would feature in the play-offs and following a 1-1 draw with Wigan they knew they would be up against Welsh side Cardiff City in the Semi-finals.

The Cottagers secured a crucial 2-0 victory in the first leg thanks to a superb individual effort from midfielder Josh Onomah and just before the end Kebano curled in a wonderful free kick.

The second-leg at Craven Cottage saw Fulham ultimately progress to the final at Wembley despite a 2-1 loss and additionally they had to do it without their main man, Mitrovic.  The Welsh side got off to the dream start and they were able to demonstrate their impressive ability from set pieces. A powerful header from Curtis Nelson made it 1-0 before just 30 seconds later Kebano was able to convert an Anthony Knockaert cross.

Cardiff’s Lee Tomlin restored his side’s advantage on the night just after half time and ensured a tense 40 minutes for The Whites. Parker’s team, however, were able to hold out to ensure that they made it to Wembley for the second time in three years.

Indeed, the Whites certainly have fond recent memories when it comes to the Championship play-offs having beat Aston Villa in the 2018 play-off final 1-0 thanks to a goal from their captain, Tom Cairney.

Team news

Brentford have no fresh injury concerns ahead of the Play-Off Final.

Fulham’s top scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic has managed to overcome a hamstring strain, which kept him out of the semi-final victory over Cardiff. While Harry Arter and Ivan Cavaleiro will also be available meaning that Parker will have a fully fit squad to choose from.

How to watch

The match will be shown live on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Football and is scheduled for a 7:45pm kick-off on Tuesday 4th August. Coverage begins from 7pm.  The match will take place behind closed doors at Wembley Stadium.

Prediction

Only four and half miles separate the sides and only goal difference divided them in the regular season. Tom Frank’s Bees, however, have held the edge over Fulham in their two league encounters this campaign and fancy them to get the job done at Wembley.

 Score Prediction: Brentford 2-1 Fulham

 

Chelsea maintain Champions League spot with much-needed victory against Wolverhampton

Win or draw, keep your spot in the Champions League. Lose and you will be playing in the Europa League next season. Chelsea were ultimately able to rise to the occasion, defeating Wolverhampton 2-0 at Stamford Bridge.

After the first 45 minutes, it looked like this match was heading towards a scoreless first half. That was until Marcos Alonso was fouled in the attacking half by Pedro Neto. Mason Mount would eventually score the free kick to help Chelsea keep its Champions League spot.

 

In the fourth minute of extra-time in the first half, The Blues doubled their lead over Wolves following a fast break by the South London-side, where Mount found Olivier Giroud, who got past goalkeeper Rui Patricio and found the back of the net.

 

The two clubs had chances to score in the second half but both were unable to capitalise as the game ended at 2-0.

Overall, Chelsea dominated with 63 percent of the possession throughout the game, while taking 11 shots (three on target). However, Wolverhampton struggled with five shots in the game, only one which was on target (easily saved by Willy Caballero).

At the end of the Premier League season, Chelsea will finish in fourth place with 66 points after Manchester United’s 2-0 victory over Leicester City. On the other side, Wolverhampton slipped down to seventh place after Tottenham’s 1-1 result at Crystal Palace.

This season was unlike any other from Liverpool winning their first ever Premier League title to the COVID-19 pandemic delaying matches until June. It was not ideal but it was still a fantastic season filled with trials and tribulations for the 20 clubs in the league. 

Chelsea will prepare for their FA Cup final matchup on Sunday against crosstown rivals Arsenal. Wolverhampton, meanwhile, have a Europa League match at home against on August 6 Olympiakos, where they are tied at one on aggregate.

See the final Premier League table in link below:

https://247-football.com/2020/06/25/premier-league-table/