The first 16 games of the new UEFA Champions League campaign take place on Tuesday and Wednesday; and we take a look at some of the big games this week.
Tuesday: Napoli v Liverpool
Liverpool are still glowing after June’s UEFA Champions League final win, but will be reminded just how fragile their campaign was at one point as they return to Naples. An added-time Alisson Becker save from Arkadiusz Milik on matchday six last season limited Jürgen Klopp’s side to a 1-0 loss – and therefore made it to the round of 16 at their hosts’ expense. Read more... (1309 words, estimated 5:14 mins reading time)
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer delivered an honest assessment of his Manchester United side after a crucial win against Leicester City. Marcus Rashford’s eighth-minute penalty eased the pressure on the Norwegian and lifted his side into the top four.
But United’s manager admitted a 1-0 was far from convincing against a Leicester side that dominated possession for long periods at Old Trafford.
Solskjaer said: “Let’s not kid ourselves, we didn’t play a great game. The first 25 minutes were fantastic, but we gradually lost control. Then towards the end we were in control. Read more... (299 words, estimated 1:12 mins reading time)
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard was thrilled with how his side adapted to a switch in formation as they coasted to a 5-2 victory over Wolves at Molineux.
The return of Antonio Rudiger after injury prompted a change to three at the back which worked brilliantly as Chelsea defended impressively and scored three times in 10 minutes just after the half-hour mark to take control.
A Tammy Abraham double added to Fikayo Tomori’s astonishing opener and Abraham completed his treble after the break.
Wolves scored twice to get back into the game, only for Mason Mount to wrap up the Blues win in injury time. Read more... (306 words, estimated 1:13 mins reading time)
Liverpool moved five points clear at the top of the Premier League table after coming from behind to beat Newcastle 3-1 at Anfield and maintain their 100 per cent start to the season.
Manchester City were expected to cut the Reds lead to a point by winning at Norwich, but the Champions were upset by the newly promoted side, a result that left the red side of Liverpool dreaming of their first Premier League title in 29 years.
The Champions League winners went behind to a 7th minute goal from Jetro Willems at Anfield, before Sadio Mane scored twice in the first half and Mohamed Salah as normal service was resumed. Read more... (456 words, estimated 1:49 mins reading time)
Manchester United face a gruelling Europa League group campaign with trips to Astana and Partizan Belgrade, while last season’s runners-up Arsenal will face Eintracht Frankfurt.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, who finished sixth last season in a disappointing Premier League campaign that included Jose Mourinho’s sacking in December, have a tough schedule in Europe’s secondary competition.
They face Astana, Partizan Belgrade and AZ Alkmaar in Group L, while Arsenal are in Group F and face Frankfurt, Standard Liege and Vitoria. Read more... (1609 words, estimated 6:26 mins reading time)
It is the luck of the draw, but while the likes of Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid got groups with heavyweight rivals, the Premier League’s quartet will all be happy with their outcomes.
Tottenham landed Bayern Munich, but will expect to overcome Olympiakos and Red Star Belgrade, while Liverpool and Manchester City will expect to coast through as group winners and Chelsea are favoured to take Group H.
Group A: PSG and Real Madrid go through Read more... (1567 words, estimated 6:16 mins reading time)
They do love a slogan at Liverpool. Perfect for a manager who has a way with words and Jurgen Klopp has a cracking new motto for this season. ‘Our identity,’ he says, ‘is intensity.’
Coming to a banner on the Kop soon, where the only note of dissatisfaction among the terrace poets will be that they didn’t think of it first.
For it is the perfect encapsulation of what Klopp’s Liverpool represents. Identity. Intensity. The most obviously recognisable playing style in English football and a ferocity that exhausts opponents. Breaks them, Klopp insists.
‘Physically?’ he was asked, for clarification. ‘Yes, of course.’ Read more... (601 words, estimated 2:24 mins reading time)
Juventus will be going for a record-extending ninth successive Serie A title in 2019-20 and new coach Maurizio Sarri can begin plotting after the Old Lady’s fixtures for the new campaign.
The Bianconeri strolled to league success last term, finishing 11 points clear of Napoli after looking in control at the summit for much of the campaign.
Nevertheless, that was not enough to keep Massimiliano Allegri in the job, as the coach and Juve’s hierarchy opted to end their five-year association, with some arguing it was due to another Champions League failure. Read more... (854 words, estimated 3:25 mins reading time)
Antonio Conte is back in Italian football and is charged with restoring the glory days to Inter after several years of underachieving.
The former Italy, Juventus and Chelsea coach represents a significant coup for Inter, who ditched Luciano Spalletti at the end of last season.
Inter only just scraped a Champions League spot on the final day of the previous campaign and are now nine years on from their most recent Serie A success.
The squad has been bolstered by some new arrivals, with Nicolo Barella, Stefano Sensi, Valentino Lazaro and Diego Godin among those to join, while Matteo Politano’s purchase option was triggered and George Puscas returned from loan in the hope of having a squad role. Read more... (878 words, estimated 3:31 mins reading time)
In a late surprise for Napoli fans in the US, Carlo Ancelotti’s side will play two games in the US against Barcelona this summer as part of the first LaLiga Serie A Cup.
The first match will take place in Miami on August 7th before the two clubs head to Ann Arbor Stadium at the University of Michigan on August 10th.
S.S.C. Napoli is an Italian club based in Naples. The club was founded in 1926 and is the fourth most supported team in the country. The club is nicknamed the Azzurri (The Blues). Read more... (867 words, estimated 3:28 mins reading time)