Rio Ferdinand Tips Liverpool to Win the Champions League Again This Season

BT Sport pundit ​Rio Ferdinand has tipped Liverpool to win this season’s Champions League, following on from their success in last year’s competition.

Ferdinand made this prediction following Manchester City’s ​key 2-1 win at Real Madrid in Spain on Wednesday night, which puts the English champions on course to make the quarter-finals.

FBL-EUR-C1-REAL MADRID-MAN CITY

Yet the former Manchester United defender has picked the Merseyside club to win their seventh European cup. This comes despite the Reds’ 1-0 defeat to Atlético Madrid in the first leg of their round of 16 tie last week, with Ferdinand clearly confident that Jürgen Klopp’s team can turn the tie around at home.

As quoted by the ​Liverpool Echo, he said: “I can’t look no further than Liverpool, if I’m honest.

I think they’ll go through against Atlético Madrid. I think it’s a tough game but I think Anfield gives it a different dimension.

Georginio Wijnaldum,Sadio Mané

He also mentions ​Bundesliga side ​Bayern Munich as a potential champion, but then states his reservations about the defensive abilities of the German club.

“Bayern Munich looked great yesterday against a team who are searching for form and their own identity at the moment in Chelsea”, he added. “So they may have peaked a bit early, who knows – going forward they are great but defensively I would be concerned a little bit about Bayern.

Robert Lewandowski

“But Liverpool are my standout favourites.”

Clearly, the former England international does not believe that the ​Cityzens will be contenders for the ​Champions League, despite last night calling Belgian playmaker ​Kevin De Bruyne the ‘best midfielder in the world’ at the moment.


There are other teams that certainly believe they have a strong chance of winning in May. ​Barcelona are expected to defeat Napoli at home in the second leg, as are ​Juventus in spite of their shock ​1-0 defeat to Lyon on Wednesday night.

However, ​Liverpool are certainly capable of overcoming their one-goal deficit to ​Atlético and will hope to do so when the two teams meet for the second-leg at Anfield on March 11.

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Alexandre Lacazette Commits Himself to Arsenal & Denies Champions League Exit Clause

Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette has confirmed his intention to stay at the club beyond this season, even if the Gunners fail to qualify for the Champions League for a fourth consecutive year.

Tabloid gossip this week has claimed that Lacazette has a special agreement in his Arsenal contract that allows him to leave if the club does not reach the Champions League. But the player himself has denied any knowledge of such a clause and is far from agitating for a transfer.

Alexandre Lacazette

“I didn’t know about this [agreement]. I have a contract with the club, so there is no point for me to leave if everyone is happy with me at the club,” Lacazette is quoted as saying by Sky Sports, when quizzed by the media on the gossip surrounding his future.

The Frenchman’s place at Arsenal has also come under scrutiny owing to a lack of goals compared to past seasons. Lacazette netted 17 times in his debut campaign at Arsenal, followed by 19 last season, but 28-year-old only has eight in all competitions so far in 2019/20.

“I am a striker but I am not only here to score goals,” he stressed.

“I’m also here to defend and help build the game. For me it is not the best when I am not scoring. There is a pressure but it’s not just about me. I want to help the team and score but it is not the pressure from my transfer [fee],” he added, referring to his 2017 club record arrival.

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Lacazette further explained that he is not letting public criticism over his form get to him and is only concerned with what his teammates and coach Mikel Arteta think of him and are happy with his contribution. That, he says, “…is the most important thing.”

The former Lyon striker scored Arsenal’s winner in the Europa League last 32 first leg tie against Olympiacos last week, prompting specific praise and support from Arteta after the game.

“That confidence and support came from me, but most importantly it came from his team-mates,” the Gunners boss said. “The way they reacted when he scored, that was a lift. That’s not just a coincidence. It’s something that happens because the energy of the team is putting energy into him as well.”


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Harvey Elliott Set to Sign Three-Year Liverpool Extension at the End of the Season

Liverpool starlet Harvey Elliott is set to be handed a new three-year contract at the end of the season.

The 16-year-old has performed well when called upon this campaign, impressing in the Carabao Cup and FA Cup. He also made a brief appearance in the Premier League earlier this month during the Reds’ 2-0 win against Sheffield United.

Harvey Elliott

​Liverpool are keen to tie Elliott down to a long-term contract, and they appear to have got their wish. ​Paul Joyce reports that the youngster will sign a deal that runs to 2023 in the summer, after he turns 17 in April.

Elliott became the youngest player to play in the Carabao Cup last season, after coming on during former club Fulham’s third round meeting with Millwall in September 2018. He also holds the same record for the ​Premier League.

However, it has not all been plain sailing in his career so far. Elliott was suspended from club football for 14 days in October as a result of an offensive video posted about Harry Kane. 

Harvey Elliott

An ​FA statement at the time read: “Harvey Elliot is suspended, effective immediately, from all domestic club football for two weeks, that is up to and including 24 October 2019; and Mr Elliot must undergo and complete to The FA’s satisfaction, within four months of notification of this decision, a face to face FA education programme, the details of which will be provided to him by The FA.”

He was also fined £350 and issued an apology for his actions, which he claimed did not “represent who I am as a person or how I’ve been brought up.”

Elliott is the latest in a long line of Liverpool players to agree a new contract this campaign. Back in December alone, 34-year-old James Milner ​penned fresh terms while Jurgen Klopp also ​extended his stay at Anfield.


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Champions League Last 16: Who Makes Our Team of the First Legs?

The first legs of the Champions League last 16 served up a selection thrilling fixtures; Atalanta hammered Valencia, Lyon stunned Juventus, and a Pep Guardiola tactical masterclass helped Manchester City win at Real Madrid, leaving the majority of second legs tantalisingly poised. 

From big defensive displays, classy midfield performances, and hugely satisfying goals, numerous individuals shone across the eight games. 

From the 16 teams remaining, we’ve managed to narrow it down to 11 players who went above and beyond during the most recent batch of Champions League games.


Goalkeepers & Defenders

Alfonso Davies

Hugo Lloris (GK): Despite ending up on the losing side against RB Leipzig, Lloris did everything to keep ​Tottenham in contention going into the second leg​. The Spurs goalkeeper made a selection of fine saves that meant the tie is not completely dead and buried when Jose Mourinho’s side head to Germany in March, with a Timo Werner penalty the only thing that snuck past him all evening.

Hans Hateboer (RB): Atalanta’s magical Champions League journey looks set to continue after a stunning win over Valencia. The Italian minnows recorded a 4-1 victory over the Spanish side, with Hateboer scoring twice from right wing back. The Netherlands international bundled home from close range for the first, before firing home after a charging run for Atalanta’s fourth.

Stefan Savic (CB): ​Liverpool failed to score with a full strength side on the pitch for the first time since September, with ​Atletico’s central defensive partnership instrumental. Savic was immovable at the heart of the defence as the Reds failed to register a shot on target.

Felipe (CB): Savic’s centre-back partner Felipe was similarly pivotal for Atletico, as he helped to snuff out the usually potent front three of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino. The Brazilian blocked, tackled and cleared like his life depended on it as Atletico ensured Liverpool returned to Anfield without an away goal.

Alphonso Davies (LB): ​Bayern Munich’s Davies put in the complete full back performance as his side dismantled Chelsea. He showed great speed and awareness in the first half to prevent Mason Mount getting in behind, before marauding up the pitch and providing the perfect delivery for Bayern’s third.


Midfield

Kevin De Bruyne

Houssem Aouar (CM): The 21-year-old midfielder continued his impressive season with a masterful display in the middle of the park as Lyon caused an upset against ​Juventus. Everything good the French outfit produced went through Aouar, and his performance was epitomised by producing a fantastic turn of pace to beat Rodrigo Bentancur and set up Lucas Tousart’s winner.

Kevin De Bruyne (CM): Despite playing in an unfamiliar role high up the pitch, operating as a false nine at times, De Bruyne turned in a masterful performance. He provided a trademark De Bruyne assist, demonstrating his athleticism to get the the by-line and then his vision to pick out his Jesus, before solving ​Manchester City’s spot kick woes with a perfect penalty.​

Thomas Muller (CM): The German oozed class as Bayern sauntered to victory at Chelsea. The Blues could not get close to ​Muller as he put in a performance of purpose, strength and intelligence, creating for others and even rattling the bar himself in the first half with a header.


Forwards

Erling Haaland

Serge Gnabry (FW): The ​Bayern forward popped up with two goals of real quality in his side’s victory, playing a neat one-two with Robert Lewandowski before finishing instinctively for the first, and doing the same before finding the bottom corner for his second. Gnabry’s runs for both goals demonstrated such intelligence and desire to bust a gut and get into the box.

Robert Lewandowski (FW): The Poland international’s selflessness and vision were pivotal for Bayern’s opening goals against Chelsea, as Lewandowski expertly linked up with Gnabry to hand his strike partner two golden opportunities. He rounded off his performance by timing his run to perfection to ensure he was in the right place at the right time to slot home for Bayern’s third. It was such a complete display that he edges out the magnificent Gabriel Jesus.

Erling Haaland (FW):  The man of the moment made it 10 goals in just seven Champions League appearances this season, bagging a brace for ​Borussia Dortmund to help see off PSG. His first was a scrappy poke home, while his second is one of the most satisfying things to ever happen on a football pitch. Haaland unleashed a rasping effort from the edge of the box, shaking the stanchion en route to the top corner.


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2020 SheBelieves Cup Preview: When & Where Is it Played? How to Watch, Team News & More

The SheBelieves Cup returns for its fifth year in 2020, with the annual invitational tournament in the United States pitting some of the top international women’s sides against each other.

Here’s a preview of everything you need to know about the 2020 SheBelieves Cup…


Which Countries Are Playing?

The United States continue to host the competition and have once more invited England, who are the only other team to played in all four previous editions of the SheBelieves Cup.

Ellen White

Japan are returning for the second time after making their debut in 2019, while new face Spain complete the competition lineup this year.

Brazil played in 2019, but the South Americans are already playing in the inaugural Tournoi de France alongside France, Netherlands and Canada instead. Germany were also previously a mainstay of the early SheBelieves Cups but will be playing in the Algarve Cup.


What Are Their FIFA Rankings?

The United States are top of the latest FIFA Women’s World Rankings.

England are currently sixth after recently dropping out of the top five for the first time since before the 2015 World Cup. Japan are 10th, while Spain are currently 13th.


Which Players Have Been Called Up?

FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019

USA: Adrianna Franch (GK), Ashlyn Harris (GK), Alyssa Naeher (GK); Abby Dalhkemper, Tierna Davidson, Crystal Dunn, Ali Krieger, Kelley O’Hara, Becky Sauerbrunn, Casey Short, Emily Sonnett; Julie Ertz, Lindsey Horan, Rose Lavelle, Sam Mewis, Andi Sullivan; Tobin Heath, Carli Lloyd, Jessica McDonald, Christen Press, Mallory Pugh, Megan Rapinoe, Lynn Williams.

England: Sandy MacIver (GK), Ellie Roebuck (GK), Carly Telford (GK); Millie Bright, Rachel Daly, Grace Fisk, Alex Greenwood, Steph Houghton, Abbie McManus, Demi Stokes, Leah Williamson; Jordan Nobbs, Jill Scott, Lucy Staniforth, Georgia Stanway, Keira Walsh; Toni Duggan, Bethany England, Lauren Hemp, Chloe Kelly, Nikita Parris, Alessio Russo, Ellen White.

Japan: Chika Hirao (GK), Sakiko Ikeda (GK), Ayaka Yamashita (GK); Mayo Doko, Saki Kumagai, Arisa Matsubara, Moeka Minami, Asato Miyagawa, Shiori Miyake, Risa Shimizu; Jun Endo, Yui Hasegawa, Yuka Momiki, Narumi Miura, Emi Nakajima, Hikaru Naomoto, Hina Sugita; Mayu Ikejiri, Mana Iwabuchi, Rikako Kobayashi, Yuika Sugasawa, Mina Tanaka, Mami Ueno.

Spain: Lola Gallardo (GK), Sandra Panos (GK), Sun Quinones (GK); Ivana Andres, Ona Batille, Marta Corredera, Mapi Leon, Leila Ouahabi, Irene Paredes, Andrea Pereira, Ainhoa Vicente; Aitana Bonmati, Patri Guijarro, Alexia Putellas, Amanda Sampedro, Angela Sosa, Virgina Torrecilla; Marta Cardona, Mariona Caldentey, Lucia Garcia, Nahikari Garcia, Sheila Garcia, Jennifer Hermoso.


Who Won Last Time?

England won the trophy ahead of the United States 12 months ago, collecting two wins and a draw from their three games to finish on seven points.

2019 SheBelieves Cup - England v Japan

The Lionesses beat both Brazil and Japan either side of a closely fought 2-2 draw with the Americans to win the SheBelieves Cup for the first time.

The U.S. previously won it in 2016 and 2018, while France were victorious in 2018.


When Is it Being Played?

This year, the SheBelieves Cup will kick off slightly later than it has done in previous years, with the first games being played on 5th March.

The second round of fixtures are on 8th March, and it will conclude on 11th March.


Where Is it Being Played?

As has previously been the norm, each round of games will be played back-to-back as a double header at a different stadium in the United States.

This time around, the first pair of games are at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida, which has been home to Orlando City of MLS and Orlando Pride of NWSL since it was built in 2017.

USA supporters

From there, the 2020 SheBelieves Cup moves onto Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, which previously hosted games in both 2017 and 2018.

Finally, the competition will head to Texas for the first time at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, near Dallas and the home of FC Dallas of MLS since opening in 2005.


How Can I Watch?

BBC will be broadcasting all three of England’s games live in the United Kingdom.

In the United States, games are on ESPN and Spanish language network TUDN.

NHK has the broadcast rights in Japan.

Date Game​ Time​ TV​
​5 March ​Spain vs Japan ​4.15pm (ET) ​ESPN (USA); NHK (Jpn)
​5 March ​USA vs England ​7pm (ET) / 12am (GMT) ​BBC (UK); ESPN/TUDN (USA)
​8 March ​Japan vs England ​2.15pm (ET) / 6.15pm (GMT) ​BBC (UK); NHK (Jpn)
​8 March ​USA vs Spain ​5pm (ET) ​ESPN/TUDN (USA)
​11 March ​England vs Spain ​4.15pm (CT) / 9.15pm (GMT) ​BBC (UK); ESPN (USA)
​11 March ​USA vs Japan ​7pm (CT) ​ESPN/TUDN (USA); NHK (Jpn)

How Can I Buy Tickets?

With each round of fixtures a double header at a single stadium, one ticket gives fans entry into two games. Tickets are being sold via links to Ticketmaster from the official U.S. Soccer website.


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