Champions League: Picking a Combined XI From Teams in Group E

Kai Havertz, Jesus Navas
Chelsea and Sevilla played out a 0-0 draw on Tuesday | Pool/Getty Images

Chelsea avoided the likes of PSG and Bayern Munich in the Champions League group stage draw, but found themselves grouped with a dangerous Sevilla side from Pot One, as well as Rennes and Krasnodar.

Frank Lampard’s men had an opportunity to assert their dominance on the group early on when they welcomed Sevilla to Stamford Bridge in their first group game on Tuesday, but were made to battle it out for a point. Indeed, it was a reminder – in case they needed it – that they will be pushed all the way in Group E and will need to produce more convincing displays if they are to safely progress.

Rennes were unfortunate not to pick up all three points on Tuesday as well, as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Krasnodar. The hosts dominated proceedings and while they weren’t able to secure the win, they proved that they will also be a threat in Group E.

With all teams sat on one point after the opening round of fixtures in this competitive group, we at 90min have come up with a combined XI from the teams in the group…

Edouard Mendy
Mendy kept a clean sheet against Sevilla | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

Edouard Mendy – Chelsea (GK) – It just had to be that Mendy would be drawn in the same group as his former club, didn’t it? The Chelsea shot-stopper made a couple of decent saves on his return to the side against Sevilla on Tuesday, keeping the score at 0-0. Looks a smart piece of business for the Blues, but Lampard will be hopeful he can stay clear of any injuries. Just look at what happened against Southampton in his absence…

Jesus Navas – Sevilla (RB) – Seriously, how is Jesus Navas 34? The Spaniard, who edges out Reece James for the right back position, is continuing to perform at the highest level and remains a key figure in this Sevilla side. Starting every game so far this campaign, Navas provides the width down the right and already has two assists to his name in 2020/21.

Jules Kounde – Sevilla (CB) – Currently unavailable for selection after testing positive for the coronavirus, Kounde could make his return when his side host Rennes next Wednesday. Still only 21, Kounde plays with real maturity and composure, with his displays helping Julen Lopetegui’s men to Europa League glory last term. It was hardly a surprise to see him linked with a number of top clubs during the summer.

Thiago Silva – Chelsea (CB) – Has he been perfect since his move to Chelsea? No, not exactly. But putting his odd mistake or two to the side, he has brought some much-needed composure and leadership to the Blues’ backline. Experience is key in any team, and that is no different in this lineup either, so Silva takes up his place in the heart of the defence.

Ben Chilwell – Chelsea (LB) – Chilwell has settled in quickly at Chelsea since making the move from Leicester. There are still some question marks over his defensive positioning and awareness when out of possession, but nonetheless the England international has made a bright start to life in west London.

Eduardo Camavinga
Camavinga is an exceptional talent | Catherine Steenkeste/Getty Images

N’Golo Kante – Chelsea (CM) – There are few players in world football who have the ability to read the game as well as Kante. Constantly looking to sniff out danger, Kante works tirelessly in the centre of the park to ensure his opponents are unable to assert any control.

Eduardo Camavinga – Rennes (CM) – 17-year-old Camavinga has a very bright future ahead of him. Not only is he already a key figure in the heart of this Rennes side, Camavinga also now has three caps at senior level for France. He’s that good.

Kai Havertz – Chelsea (CAM) – Havertz has shown flashes of real brilliance since his big money move to Chelsea, but the German is still finding his feet somewhat in west London. Sure, his stats make for pleasant reading for an attacking midfielder – four goals and two assists in seven games so far – but Havertz will now be looking to deliver on a more consistent basis as the weeks go by.

Timo Werner
Chelsea fans are yet to really see the best of Werner on a regular basis | James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images

Hakim Ziyech (FW) – Look, we could have selected Christian Pulisic here, but Ziyech is not only simply ridiculously talented, but he also has experience of dominating on the Champions League stage. While he is yet to really show exactly what he can bring to this Chelsea team, Ziyech is now back and will be desperate to hit the ground running once he is eased into the starting lineup.

Timo Werner – Chelsea (FW) – Werner finally got off the mark in the Premier League against Southampton with a well-taken brace, but was unable to back this up against Sevilla on Tuesday. Has looked bright at points, but has often found himself out in wide positions – which is where he is much less dangerous and unable to really pose a threat in front of goal. But Werner possesses outstanding quality and it will surely only be a matter of time before he begins to prove his worth on a regular basis.

Lucas Ocampos – Sevilla (FW) – It’s taken Ocampos a while to find the right home for him to play his best football, but he has found that at Sevilla. The Argentine finished the 2019/20 season with 17 goals and five assists, but only has one goal to his name so far this term. More generally, Ocampos has become a vital member of this Sevilla side, producing the necessary quality when on the ball as well as acting as the first line of the press when out of possession.

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Footballers Who Pulled Off the Shaved Head Look Best – Ranked

Ronaldo went short of late | FRANCK FIFE/Getty Images

Remember the days when you were a wee nipper getting ready to have your haircut the following day? You’d spend hours trawling the internet searching endlessly through your favourite footballers to find the exact trim to suit you.

Even if the player in question was ten years older than you, far better looking and had an entirely different cheekbone structure and head shape, you’d still pick out the one you liked best, get your dad to print it off then pop into the barbers ready to look like prime David Beckham.

Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo is now set to make the shaved-head look a barbershop favourite once again, after debuting his fresh trim on social media.

While it’s a look that will launch a million copycats, it’s not particularly original – having been modelled by many before him in the world of football.

Who pulled it off the razor look, though? A few did, a few didn’t. Here’s ten of the best – ranked.

When you’re a good looking Iberian man with fine flowing locks, keep them that way.

Granted, Hec did it during lockdown as a bit of a laugh, but some people are simply better off leaving the trimmers in that draw in the house that is full of batteries and half-used notebooks.

Ross Barkley
Ok. | Paul Thomas/Getty Images

It’s the kind of look you go for when you’re coming towards the end of your career, not when you’re the tender age of 20.

He didn’t have to chop it all off, but for some reason Barkley was hell-bent on copying his EastEnders idol.

Neymar JR.
Not the first time he’s done it | Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

It was apparently Dani Alves who was behind Neymar getting his head shaved (for the first time) back in 2015, and when you compare it to his other dodgier trims, it’s not terrible.

Better than the pink, at least.

Roy Keane
Of course Keane did it | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

It’s not like Keane sat down with Fergie over a glass of Bordeaux and discussed how he could make himself more aerodynamic in midfield.

He did it to look menacing and, to be fair, it did work. Although it wasn’t overly needed in the first place…

Jack Wilshere
It wasn’t terrible. | Clive Rose/Getty Images

Wilshere’s choice of announcing his comeback was to go short with his haircut. Being as short as he is, he could get away with a variety of different trims, this one probably being the best of the lot.

It was an ‘I’m ready’ type announcement. However, it was a short-lived return to first team football in the end.

It took us all by surprise | GEOFF CADDICK/Getty Images

Was Silva’s looked bad or was it more of a shock factor that led to everyone’s perception of the trim? It’s hard to tell given it was such a surprise to see him lob all his lovely locks off in favour of a very non-Spanish look.

His reasons for it were to make it easier for the doctors to perform a hair transplant. He pulled it off pretty well…until it started to grow back and just looked odd.

Italian forward Alessandro Del Piero eye
Del Piero could have got away with anything, in fairness | PATRICK HERTZOG/Getty Images

When you’re so damned good at football and boasting an air of Italian elegance about you, it really makes little difference what haircut you have.

Del Piero also enjoyed some special moments when he bid farewell to long hair, y’know, like winning the World Cup.

Southampton v Liverpool - Capital One Cup Quarter Final
Scary. | Catherine Ivill – AMA/Getty Images

Did he look good? No.

Did it suit him? Yes.

No player has ever had a haircut that suited their playing style quite as well as Skrtel. He’d walk alone down a dark alley, that’s for sure.

When he finally grew it out, it just looked unsettling.

David Beckham
The man could do no wrong. | Gary M. Prior/Getty Images

A man who boasted every haircut under the sun even beyond his playing career, anything other than the cornrows was a bonus.

We might be a tad biased on this considering that moment against Greece was done with a clean shaven scalp, but it’s one of England’s fondest memories of Beckham.

Spot on, no? | AFP/Getty Images

You know you’ve got a look that sticks that when you try and grow your hair out it just looks wrong? Valdes’ time at Middlesbrough was short but his hair wasn’t and it didn’t sit right.

The streamlined look with a bit of nine o’clock shadow and big bushy black eyebrows just worked.


Inter Star Achraf Hakimi Tests Positive for Coronavirus

Achraf Hakimi
Hakimi will miss Inter’s clash with Borussia Monchengladbach on Wednesday evening | Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

Inter defender Achraf Hakimi has tested positive for coronavirus, ruling the Moroccan wing back out of his side’s Champions League clash with German outfit Borussia Monchengladbach on Wednesday.

The amount of cases of the virus has begun to rise once again in Italy, with the nation posting record numbers in October – higher than those during the initial outbreak in March. These positive results have seeped into the football world, with several players – including Cristiano Ronaldo – being ruled out for the upcoming weeks of action.

Inter have confirmed Hakimi has tested positive for coronavirus
Inter have confirmed Hakimi has tested positive for coronavirus | Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

Inter confirmed Hakimi is the latest to test positive for coronavirus and will not feature on Wednesday, having to serve the necessary period of time in isolation before rejoining his teammates in training.

Their statement reads: “FC Internazionale Milano announces that Achraf Hakimi has tested positive for Covid-19 following the last Uefa check (foreseen by the protocol of the event) carried out in view of tonight’s match against Borussia Mönchengladbach.

“The Nerazzurri winger is totally asymptomatic and will now follow the procedures set out in the health protocol.”

The Moroccan star has settled in quickly at Inter
The Moroccan star has settled in quickly at Inter | Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

Hakimi joined Inter from Real Madrid in the summer for a fee of around €40m and has hit the ground running in Serie A, scoring once and providing two assists in his opening four matches in the black and blue jersey.

He has proven to be an important player in Antonio Conte’s system since his arrival and has picked up from where he left off during his two-year loan spell at Borussia Dortmund. The Morocco international excelled in the Bundesliga and his five goals and ten assists convinced Inter to splash the cash on his services this year.

The 21-year-old will certainly be a miss for Saturday’s trip to Genoa, a side who themselves suffered over 20 positive tests following their 6-0 defeat to Napoli back in September.


Bayern Munich vs Atletico Madrid to Go Ahead Despite Coronavirus Scare

FC Bayern Muenchen v Hertha BSC - Bundesliga
Wednesday’s Champions League tussle will go ahead | Boris Streubel/Getty Images

A UEFA spokesperson has confirmed that Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid’s Champions League clash will go ahead as planned on Wednesday, despite the game being thrown into doubt after Serge Gnabry tested positive for the coronavirus.

Bayern – who are looking to defend their status as European champions – are due to host Atletico on Wednesday evening as they kick off their Champions League campaign. However, it was noted early on Wednesday that the clash could be postponed after Gnabry’s positive coronavirus test on Tuesday evening.

Serge Gnabry
Gnabry’s positive COVID-19 test had thrown the clash into doubt | Boris Streubel/Getty Images

The Bundesliga giants were said to be concerned that more players could later test positive after Gnabry took part in contact stretching during a recent training session. The 25 players who took part in the session all followed COVID-19 prevention measures, but there was still concern. As a result, the squad and first team staff were forced to undergo additional tests on Wednesday.

Now a number of German outlets are reporting that the clash will go ahead, while a UEFA spokesperson confirmed to dpa on Wednesday in the afternoon that the game will go on ‘as planned’.

Despite this, dpa state that Bayern are yet to officially announce if any other players or staff have since tested positive. However, Kicker report that the game will go ahead, with the additional tests carried out on Wednesday all coming back negative.

FC Bayern Muenchen v Hertha BSC - Bundesliga
Munich’s Allianz Arena will host Atletico Madrid on Wednesday | Boris Streubel/Getty Images

Bayern currently find themselves sat in second place in the Bundesliga after four games, one point behind RB Leipzig. Hansi Flick’s side have been typically ruthless in front of goal, scoring 17 times already, but have also conceded eight goals. Of course, four of these came in the 4-1 defeat to Hoffenheim in September.

As for Atletico, they are yet to taste defeat in La Liga, but have drawn two of their opening four league games. They will head to Germany on Wednesday looking to get their Champions League campaign off to a positive start.

Bayern and Atletico are joined in Group A by Lokomotiv Moscow and Red Bull Salzburg, who also go head to head on Wednesday.


Ricardo Pereira Ahead of Schedule in Recovery From Serious Knee Injury

Ricardo Pereira
Ricardo eyeing December return | Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images

Leicester City full-back Ricardo Pereira is targeting a return to action in six weeks, several months after he picked up a serious knee injury against Aston Villa.

The 27-year-old right-back has been out of action since March after undergoing surgery on damaged knee ligaments, and he was expected to be out for the remainder of the year.

But the Portuguese international is ahead of schedule in his recovery, and instead could be back in action at the beginning of December.

Pereira has already returned to training at Leicester’s Belvoir Drive complex and confirmed to media in his homeland that he anticipates re-joining group training in two weeks time, with a view to returning to action around a month later.

“It’s on a good level,” Pereira told Portuguese outlet O Jogo. “I’m doing individual work and I already do the warm-up with the team, but for now I’m still progressing individually, and then I will gradually move on to collective work.

 “It’s still a bit early to talk about it. I begin working with the team in two weeks if, from then on, I gain the competitive pace and the necessary confidence. It will depend, but I believe within six weeks if all goes well.”

Ricardo supporting his side from the stands
Ricardo supporting his side from the stands | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Pereira also touched on the difficulty of spending a prolonged period of time at home due to the complexities of the global coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s easier now, no doubt,” he added. “At first it was more complicated, especially post-surgery, because I was in pain, and I was on crutches and needed help with just about everything at home.

“Add to that the fact that we are in quarantine due to the pandemic. Those were very complicated times, but now it’s a lot easier, especially since I started running and doing ball work.”

Castagne has impressed after joining from Atalanta in the summer
Castagne has impressed after joining from Atalanta in the summer | Pool/Getty Images

Pereira’s return to action will be a welcome boost for Foxes manager Brendan Rodgers, though the Northern Irishman may have a slight selection headache once he reaches full fitness – with new signing Timothy Castagne impressing in the early stages of his Leicester career, and James Justin also proving his Premier League credentials at King Power Stadium.