Category Archives: UCL And Europa League

Manchester United vs RB Leipzig Match Preview

The second round of matches in the Champions League Group Stage sees Ole Gunner Solskjaer’s team host Bundesliga side RB Leipzig.  

United will certainly be looking to build on their impressive start to Europe’s Premier competition. On match day one they secured a 2-1 win against Paris Saint Germain at the Parc Des Princes. 

Since then, Solskjaer’s side were involved in a rather dull Premier League encounter at Old Trafford this past weekend, a 0-0 draw with Chelsea.

This subsequently meant that it was the first time the Red Devils have failed to win any of their first three home games in the League since the 1972-73 campaign. 

RB Leipzig, meanwhile, are coming into this match in good form having won four out of their last five games. They currently lead the German Bundesliga after the opening five games.   

In addition, Julian Naglesmann’s team began their Champions League campaign with a 2-0 over Turkish side Istanbul Basaksehir. Manchester City loanee Angelino scored both of the goals. 

Manchester United Team News

Solskjaer has suggested ahead of this game that there are a few knocks. Centre-back Eric Bailly and midfielder Jesse Lingard are likely to be the only absentees for their Group H clash.

French forward Antony Martial will also be available despite his domestic ban still being in force. 

One topic that enviably has come up in the pre-match conference is the lack of opportunities currently being given to the Dutch new signing Donny Van de Beek.  The 23 year old has yet to start a Premier League or Champions League tie for his new club.  

Indeed, Van de Beek has, however, looked impressive when he has been used from the bench so far, scoring in a 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace on the opening day of the season, while he also involved in the winning of the last minute penalty that secured victory at Brighton.  

Both Sky pundit and former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher and also ex-Dutch international Marco Van Bastan have already questioned why Van de Beek moved to Old Trafford, with the former suggesting he would not get in ahead of Bruno Fernandes, while the latter has stated that his fellow country man will live to regret his £40 million pound move from Ajax.

Solskjaer has since said:

“When Donny has played he has played really well.  It says a lot about our depth of squad that we don’t have to use him every game. 

“It’s nice for some players and commentators to have a little go, but you have to know that you don’t have to start the first three games to be a very important player in the squad.”  

RB Leipzig Team News

Despite missing the goals and assists of Chelsea’s new attack Timo Werner that has not hindered RB Leipzig’s impressive development.

RB Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann will, however, likely be without both Lukas Klostermann and Konrad Laimer (both knee injuries) for the German side’s first ever meeting with United.  While both midfielders Tyler Adams and Nordi Mukiele are also doubts.

Former Crystal Palace striker, Alexander Sorloth would be available for Nagelsmann. Sorloth joined RB Leipzig in the summer from Trabozonspor and could partner Yussuf Pouslen up front. French defender Ibrahima Konate is also fit again.   

The Mangers Thoughts

When asked about building on that win against PSG in the pre match press conference Solskjaer said:

“We look at every single game as a chance to get three points and in the group stage of four teams, you’d think 10 points will get you through.

“To get 18 points though ultimately is the aim.”

When asked about Manchester United’s impressive result in Paris, Julian Nagelsmann said:

“When I analyse an opponent I do not look at the results.  I try to find out how they score goals, concede, and build up play, counter attack, counter press and other things. 

“We know that their (League) start was not that good, but at the end it is one of the biggest clubs in the world, a big name in European football and world football.

“I’ve never played in Old Trafford or been there. It will be a great experience.”

Key Player

For Manchester United Bruno Fernandes I reckon holds the key to them getting a result in this game. The Portuguese international is the Red Devil’s top scorer so far and ultimately has that ability to make things happen and provide the spark that could make the difference in what I predict will be a tricky encounter for Ole’s men.

The German side will be looking to their impressive young centre back Dayot Upamecano. Upamecano made his debut for France last month and was crucial in Leipzig’s quarterfinal victory over Atletico Madrid last season.

Match Prediction: Manchester United 1-1 RB Leipzig

I am predicting another draw at home for Ole’s side. I reckon this is a harder encounter for them then the one in Paris as the emphasis will be on the Red Devil’s to have more possession and try to break the German side down. This is something that United have traditionally struggled with over the past few seasons. For this reason I will go for a score draw.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WEDNESDAY NIGHT PREVIEW

Following Manchester United’s successful trip to Paris on Tuesday, both Liverpool and Manchester City will be looking to emulate their rivals with successful starts to their 2020/21 UEFA Champions League campaigns.

Here are your previews ahead of the big games on Wednesday night…

Real Madrid v Shakhtar Donetsk 17.55

Madrid will be hoping for a better European venture third time around having been eliminated at the quarter-final stage in August. Still possessing plenty of quality, Zinedine Zindane’s men are rightfully still considered a real thrrst at the business end of the compeition.

However, off the back of a surprise home defeat to Cadiz in La Liga, Los Blancos perhaps aren’t the side they once were.

They should still have enough quality to come past the Ukrainian champions.

Manchester City v Porto 20.00

Pep Guardiola will be without star performer Kevin De Bruyne for the visit of Porto on matchday one. Despite this they will go into the match as huge favourites, and joint favourites with Bayern Munich for the competition outright.

City are desperate to end their wait for European success and will hope a solid start against Porto will set them on their way.

Their Portuguese visitors are no easy task, and will boast West Ham loanne Felipe Anderson as part of their squad.

Ajax v Liverpool 20.00

This meeting between two of the giants of European football will come as a welcome break for Liverpool from talking about injuries, VAR controversy and that derby day draw.

As we all by now know Virgil van Dijk will miss this game, and perhaps the remainder of the season. Both Alisson and Thiago also miss out for the Reds whilst Jurgen Klopp does welcome back Naby Keita into his squad.

Ajax still present a major opposition, albeit a little stripped of their quality players who helped them reach the semi-finals of the competition during 2018/19, the year Liverpool made it six.

Bayern Munich v Atletico Madrid 20.00

A clash of epic proportions see’s holders play host to Liverpool’s extra time conqureors Atletico Madrid.

Hansi Flicks men are many peoples favourites to make it back to back Champions League’s whilst Diego Simeone’s charges are always difficult to beat.

This match promises to be a battle of free-flowing attack against rigid well organised defence.

Other Fixtures

RB Salzburg v Locomotiv Moscow, Midtylland v Atlanta, Olympiacos v Marseille, Inter Milan v Borussia Monchengladbach

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

Where next for gareth bale?

On Thursday the footballing world was treated to a lesser seen phenomenon, Gareth Bale played football, on an actual football pitch.

The 31 year old perhaps now ex-superstar appeared in the first-half for Wales during their 1-0 victory over Finland. In truth it wasn’t Bale’s finest 45 minutes and his manager Ryan Giggs said the amount of time was all he was fit for given his lack of match fitness, having not played for months on end.

With a CV that matches some of the greats of the game Bale has found himself very much of the periphery of things at Real Madrid for around two seasons now. Having almost secured a move to China last summer, the former Tottenham man could be looking for a way out of the Bernabau once more.

In a recent, honest, interview with Sky Sports, the Welsh forward said Real Madrid: ”make things very difficult” when asked abut his desire to leave the club.

Surely the time has come for the four times Champions League winner to find himself a new club, and with it regular football once more.

Success at Madrid?

There can be no doubt prior to the fallout Bale’s time in the Spanish capital has ultimately been a success, however, fans of the club would perhaps suggest otherwise.

Since completing his £90 million move the forward has won two La Liga titles, one Copa Del Rey, three FIFA Club World Cups, and the aforementioned four UEFA Champions League crowns.

Individually the Cardiff born star has the incredible record of 105 Madrid goals in 251 appearances in all competitions, including one of the greatest goals to ever grace a Champions League final.

Despite falling dramatically out of favour with Zinedine Zidane and the fans, although in truth the fans always seemed to struggle to warm to the Welshman, seemingly because he wasn’t Cristiano Ronaldo and occasionally took the limelight off their darling, nobody can deny Bale still has something to offer at the highest level.

His fleeting international outings have proven his quality remains, often the go to man for a Welsh side which has reached higher than usual heights in recent times.

So where could, and should he end up…

Having been on the verge of a move to the Chinese Premier League last summer many may seem a repeat of that move as the logical switch,. Given his current wages and the two years left on his deal, it is going to take a club with deep pockets as well as some bargaining from all parties to make this move happen.

Without one aspect of the move forgoing some financial loss, Bale could continue to earn his money sitting on the bench and playing golf in his free time.

The romantics and Spurs fans will be dreaming of a return to White Hart Lane where he made his name, having been a struggling left-back before moving up the pitch and setting the Premier League alight.

In truth the powers that be and the wage structure in place is unlikely to see Bale back at Spurs. It is much more likely the Welshman heads to one of the other top six Premier League clubs, Manchester United have often been touted as potential suitors.

Opinion

Simply seeing Bale back playing football is the preferable option, however, not at one of Liverpool’s main rivals as adding a player of his abilltiy would enhance any squad, even if his days of playing two matches a week are behind him.

Whilst there is very little chance of it happening, given his wage demands and the type of player Liverpool sign. I would love to see Bale in the red of Liverpool, although I can’t foresee him being delighted with Jurgen Klopp’s running demands. A player of his immense quality would be beneficially to every team in world football, they simply need to let him play.

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.