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Real Madrid vs PSG
On Wednesday night in Spain, two of the best clubs in world football face off in the Champions League last-16.
Real Madrid are looking to win the UCL for a third season in a row, and for a fourth time in five years.
As for PSG, they are looking to lift the trophy for the first time. While the truth is that PSG have never progressed past the quarterfinals of the competition.
Massive match for Mauricio Pochettino & Antonio Conte
On the BBC’s Euro Leagues Football podcast, the case was made why Real Madrid versus PSG is huge for Tottenham and Chelsea.
The premise of the argument is that whichever team loses this tie will certainly sack their manager.
PSG boss Unai Emery has long been tipped for the Paris exit door at the end of the season anyway.
And when it comes to who’ll replace Emery, both Chelsea’s Antonio Conte and Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino are in the running.
Pochettino, of course, played for PSG in his playing days.
While Conte, who has been complaining about Chelsea’s recruitment policy at Stamford Bridge for months, is also supposedly on the PSG shortlist.
But what is Real Madrid are knocked out?
Fourth in La Liga, many wonder how Zinedine Zidane has held onto his job for this long.
Defeat to PSG would seal the French legend’s fate at the Santiago Bernabeu, while it’s widely believed that Pochettino is the number one target at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Can Real sign Pochettino from Spurs? Los Blancos have history dealing with Daniel Levy in the transfer of Gareth Bale.
It’s also worth pointing out that as a former Espanyol boss, Pochettino has made it clear in recent times that he’ll never be the manager of FC Barcelona.
Listen to the excellent discussion of how Mauricio Pochettino & Antonio Conte’s next moves hinge on Real Madrid vs PSG after 11 minutes on the audio unit below.
Supporters of Chelsea have this evening pleaded with manager Antonio Conte to move forward over the coming weeks with a pair of players omitted from the club’s starting lineup.
The two sides went head to head at Stamford Bridge, with Antonio Conte’s men desperate for all 3 points following a dismal run of form which saw the Blues fall to consecutive 3-goal defeats at the hands of Bournemouth and Watford.
West Brom, meanwhile, had fallen to defeats in their last 2 Premier League outings, the latter of which came in hugely disappointing fashion at home to fellow strugglers Southampton.
Ahead of tonight, the Baggies sat rock bottom of the English top-flight table, a full 5 points behind 19th-placed Stoke City.
The lineups for tonight’s crucial matchup were announced an hour prior to kick-off, with a number of notable inclusions and absences for hosts Chelsea.
Andreas Christensen returned to the heart of the Blues’ defence following a spell on the sidelines, while Olivier Giroud earned his first start for the Premier League champions up front.
Cesc Fabregas was also included from the start, stepping in for the suspended Tiemoue Bakayoko, while Alvaro Morata was fit enough for a place on the Chelsea bench.
However, Marcos Alonso was a notable absentee, with the Spaniard having been a surprise late scratch from the Blues’ squad for their clash with Watford last week as a ‘precautionary measure’.
Team to face WBA: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Zappacosta; Pedro, Giroud, Hazard.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 12, 2018
West Brom boss Alan Pardew, meanwhile, opted for the following, with Daniel Sturridge joining Salomon Rondon in a dangerous-looking forward line for the Baggies:
— West Bromwich Albion (@WBA) February 12, 2018
However, in a massive blow for the visitors with just 2 minutes on the clock, Danny Sturridge went to ground clutching his hamstring following an innocuous challenge from Cesar Azpilicueta, with the 28-year-old eventually succumbing to the problem and making his way down the Stamford Bridge tunnel with frustration etched across his face.
Following a shaky opening quarter of an hour for Chelsea, the Blues began to take firm control of proceedings as the half wore on, with Eden Hazard looking particularly dangerous.
And it was the brilliant Belgian who went on to break the deadlock with 25 minutes on the clock, playing a neat one-two with Olivier Giroud on the edge of the West Brom box before rifling home a perfect finish into the bottom-left corner of Ben Foster’s goal.
The second-half saw the home side maintain their dominance, with Victor Moses handing the Premier League champions a deserved second after Cesc Fabregas’ pass landed fortuitously at the feet of the Nigerian inside the West Brom box.
And Eden Hazard soon put the game firmly to bed with his brace and Chelsea’s 3rd of the night, picking up the ball on the right corner of the Baggies’ box before cutting inside and drilling a wonderful finish with his left foot past the wrong-footed Ben Foster.
It was a much-needed performance and result for Antonio Conte’s men, with droves of Chelsea’s fans having since taken to social media to point to the fact that neither Gary Cahill or Tiemoue Bakayoko were included from the start this evening, a factor which many believe played a huge part in the Blues’ change of fortunes.
As such, with Spanish giants Barcelona set to travel to Stamford Bridge next week in the last 16 of the Champions League, the Blues’ faithful have pleaded with their manager to continue without the duo moving forward:
We are a better team without Gary Cahill and Bakayoko
— ETYNOBA (@etyn_oba) February 12, 2018
I hope Conte has seen that this team doesn’t need Bakayoko and Cahill to be great!
He better learn
— Es (@slkie) February 12, 2018
No Cahill and Bakayoko, no problems.
— Damoo (@Denock__) February 12, 2018
— Chelsea_24 (@Chelsea47556322) February 12, 2018
It’s not rocket science. Cahill and Bakayoko have been the obvious weak links.
— Tee™ (@T_blinxx) February 12, 2018
How nice to watch a Chelsea match without Cahill and Bakayoko
— Alvin (@So_Damn_Trill) February 12, 2018
No Cahill and Bakayoko?
We play well. What a coincidence!
— ƝѺλH (@WiIIixn) February 12, 2018
No Cahill ✔
No Bakayoko ✔
No Alonso ✔
Azpilicueta captain ✔
Giroud starting ✔
Fabregas starting ✔
Hazard given a free role ✔
Giroud bursting brain.😜
— Wilson Oreoluwa (@Oreoluwabee) February 12, 2018
@ChelseaFC I just realized today that bakayoko and Cahill has been our problem for some weeks running. This is a decent performance and I appreciate the effort of the whole starting lineup. They have been 8/10 in my rating.
— iheoha dunstan (@chidunstan) February 12, 2018
If this coach ever start Gary Cahill and Bakayoko ever again. Sack him
— ETYNOBA (@etyn_oba) February 12, 2018
THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN CAHILL AND BAKAYOKO DONT PLAY 🗣🗣🗣
— 🌊 (@Germanilloy) February 12, 2018
Cahill and Bakayoko should be nowhere near Chelsea’s first team tbh
— George (@George__O) February 12, 2018
We are approaching the end of yet another bizarre season.
The Premier League title race is all but over and we are only in February whilst debatably every single team from 7th downwards is in a relegation battle.
We have seen the introduction of VAR into English football which has been a very controversial topic whilst transfer fees have reached ridiculous levels.
28 red cards have been awarded so far this season in the top flight of English football after 269 matches, an average of a one red card every 9 games.
Earlier in the season, Liverpool’s Sadio Mane was sent off for a challenge on Ederson.
The Senegalese winger raised his boot high in order to get the ball and connected with the Man City goalkeeper’s face.
The red card was widely debated as many people believed that there was no malicious intent and Mane was simply trying to get the ball. Nonetheless, referee Jon moss sent Mane off and Liverpool were beaten 5-0.
Manchester United feel to yet another away defeat on Sunday afternoon as Matt Ritchie’s strike gave Newcastle three points against the Red Devils.
Late into the match, Antonio Valencia performed a similar challenge to Sadio Mane’s earlier in the season but the Ecuadorian defender escaped with only a yellow card.
Sadio Mane got a red card for this challenge.
Antonio Valencia did not even got a yellow card for this. 🤔
The refereeing in the Premier League is absolutely shocking. pic.twitter.com/z7qzzBShCo
— 360Sources (@360Sources) February 11, 2018
Craig Pawson was the referee on Sunday and he deemed Valencia’s challenge was not worthy of a red card.
So where is the consistency in Premier League refereeing? Did Valencia deserve a red card? Did Mane deserve a red card?
There was literally no difference between the two challenges and I think both are worthy of a red card even though Gary Neville may disagree.
Antonio Conte has claimed Chelsea are suffering at the back because they are without one of their key players.
Andreas Christensen has been out for some time, and it seems that his presence in defence has been the one thing Chelsea have needed this season, and Conte made it very clear the amount of goals conceded in the last couple of games are partially down to him not being in the side.
He said:“For sure, he’s an important player for us. He’s an important player.
“It happened, this [that Chelsea conceded seven goals in the last two games without him]. It’s right to look at the stats, but we have to take the stats in the right way.
“But, for sure, Christensen is an important player for us. He’s playing a fantastic season.”
“I don’t know.
“It happened in the last two games. I don’t know why. But it happened. We didn’t concede many goals in the past when Christensen played.”
The Chelsea manager will be desperate to get his key players back for the game against Barcelona, and knows that any goals shipped by the Blues will have a negative impact on their hopes of going through to the next round or even having a chance in the second leg.
David Luiz knows just how good Luis Suarez can be, and Lionel Messi will finally want to score against the club, never having found the back of the net before against them, and not only will Chelsea have to make sure they have their defence at top level, they need Alvaro Morata back fighting as well.
The forward has posted a picture on social media of him back in training – and Chelsea fans will hope he gets up to full fitness as soon as possible to at least play some part in the game.
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Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich would be forced to shell out a staggering £26.7m severance pay to sack manager Antonio Conte, according to the Daily Mirror.
The former Juventus coach has come under fire in recent weeks with results leaving the Blues’ title defence in tatters.
Only last summer, the 48-year-old was rewarded for guiding Chelsea to the Premier League title with a new contract until 2021; nine months on and his side look a shadow of their former selves.
On Monday evening, Chelsea host West Bromwich Albion at Stamford Bridge as they look to avoid a third consecutive defeat in the league.
The West Londoners find themselves trailing league leaders Manchester City by a substantial gap of 19 points, having lost to both Bournemouth and Watford in the space of the last week.
Then in a weeks time, Conte will be gearing his side up for a huge Champions League last-16 clash with giants Barcelona, in a game which could potentially decide the Italian’s future.
However, with such a huge compensation fee Conte would be owed should he face the sack, Abramovich is reluctant to make a rushed decision on his future.
This afternoon, Conte spoke about his total focus on turning results around at the Bridge:
“I’ve not thought for one moment of the possibility of going away from this club.
My commitment and the commitment of my players is totally for this club.
A lot of time in football the manager and the coach depends on the result.
At the moment we are having a poor result. For this reason we have to pay great attention.
We have to try to stop this bad run and get three points against West Brom.
Every single player knows we have to try to improve the results and play better. Against Watford it was totally negative.”
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Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has claimed his side may be without Alvaro Morata for some time yet, and that the back injury keeping the player out shows no signs of being fixed.
That’s not great news for Chelsea, and while they only have to face West Brom and Hull in their next couple of games, it’s the Champions League tie against Barcelona that will have Conte and the fans worrying.
Conte did admit that winter signing Giroud is available, and will be able to play this weekend, and Chelsea know they can’t drop anymore ground in the race for the top four after inconsistent results since the turn of the year.
Conte said in his presser: “Giroud is training with us and is in contention.
“Players like Morata we are missing for a long period.
“I don’t know, he is trying to stop this pain in his back.
“I don’t know and for this reason I am a bit worried as you know very well the importance of this player.”
When it comes to his own future, Conte wasn’t pulling any punches, and made it clear that he is fully committed to Chelsea, the players and the club.
It may well be the case that he leaves come the end of the season, but for now, the Chelsea boss is happy to stay and work with the under-performing players – and has even given them some time off due to their heavy schedules.
“I am not thinking for only one moment the possibility of going away from this club.
“My commitment and the players are totally for this club.
“A lot of time in football the manager and the coach depends on the result. At the moment we are having a poor result.
“For this reason we have to pay great attention.
“I think it was the only moment in the whole season to give them a bit of rest. For this reason.
“I think in the future it will be very important to have a little space and room with the federation to give a bit of room for the players. When you play a lot of games, especially when you go through in the competitions.
“We are playing in the FA Cup and two games against Norwich, then CL and the league.
“A bit of rest for the players, not just mine, but in general is important.