Romelu Lukaku & Timo Werner brought off with injuries in Malmo clash

Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner were substituted with injuries midway through the first half of Chelsea’s Champions League clash with Malmo on Wednesday.

The duo left the field with Chelsea two to the good following goals from Andreas Christensen and Jorginho.

Lukaku was injured in the process of earning the Blues a penalty, bulldozing his way through the Malmo defence and being hacked down by Lasse Nielsen when through on goal.

He tried to return to action following lengthy treatment from the challenge on his ankle, but soon signalled to the bench that he was in need of substituting and was replaced by Kai Havertz.

Werner was brought off with a similar problem just before the break, with Callum Hudson-Odoi coming on.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel had in fact discussed Lukaku’s fitness in a pre-match press conference, saying that the striker was being overplayed following the recent international break.

“It is difficult to judge whether he needs a break or is it better to keep him on the pitch,” Tuchel said.

“At this moment, I feel Romelu is a bit overplayed. I think he played in too many competitions over the summer, too many competitions with his country. He played the Nations League and he is a fantastic athlete and such a competitive guy that he never takes it easy.

“He wants to be out there and win. He wanted to have a good outcome for the European Championship with Belgium and now in the Nations League it was a huge match for him, it meant a lot personally to play for his country so he takes it seriously.

“If that does not work well he always puts it on his shoulders. He reflects about it and I feel him [being] mentally tired.”

Spurs & West Ham enter race to sign Genk striker Paul Onuachu

Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United are interested in signing Genk striker Paul Onuachu, but the Premier League pair face competition from some of Europe’s giants for the £20m-rated forward.

The 27-year-old has been in lightning form since the start of last season, hitting 33 goals over the 2020/21 campaign, and beginning the new term with 11 strikes in as many matches. Those figures have caught the eye of Europe’s elite, including several Premier League outfits.

The Daily Mail report that both Spurs and West Ham have entered the race to land Onuachu, but they must fend off interest from the likes of Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and even Southampton for the 6’7″ centre-forward.

Spurs are on the lookout for a new striker as a backup to Harry Kane, although whether the England captain will stay at the club is uncertain. The forward requested a transfer this summer, with Manchester City publicly pursuing the 28-year-old.

A move never materialised for Kane however, leaving him with little choice than to commit his short-term future to Spurs. The north London club would consider Onuachu as a backup to Kane then, or even as his replacement, should he finally force through a move away.

Onuachu is attracted to the idea of playing in the Premier League and would love a switch to England as he prepares to take the next step in his career. Spurs are by no means the front runner, though.

For the moment, Atleti are the favourites to land the Nigerian, and they have stepped up their interest in recent weeks. West Ham are also in the queue and they even considered a deal last summer, but no progress was made.

Onuachu remains on the radar of several top clubs, and will hope to impress on the European stage, when Genk take on West Ham on Thursday evening.

Barcelona relying on Ansu Fati to get them out of first gear

At long last, Barcelona have won a Champions League game this season.

La Blaugrana beat Dynamo Kyiv 1-0 on Wednesday night following back-to-back 3-0 defeats to Bayern Munich and Benfica.

Some would say that Ronald Koeman’s boisterous Barcelona are finally on their way back. Not me, though, nor anyone who’s watched them in the last couple of years.

Though the stats will say this is the most threatening Barça have looked all season (they made 2.42 expected goal) and they created plenty of clear-cut chances (five big chances and 12 in total), they were massively helped by a Dynamo side who seemed determined to boost the spirits of the subdued Camp Nou crowd.

For as much as Dynamo looked like they were trying to assist Barça, the home side looked flat despite those stats.

It was the old guard that combined to get Barcelona going, with 32-year-old Jordi Alba – Barcelona’s best player on Wednesday – crossing for 34-year-old Gerard Pique to volley home the opener.

Beyond the sole goal, Barça’s best opportunities came through more crosses from Alba or set pieces.

Koeman could see that Dynamo were vulnerable (a serious understatement) however, and threw on Philippe Coutinho and Ansu Fati at half-time.

Now, looking at the title of this piece, you’d think Fati scored a hat-trick and turned into a Ronaldinho regen. Not even close.

Ronald Koeman

Koeman needs to get more out of his players / David Ramos/GettyImages

Fati’s half-time arrival brought a period where Barça at least tried to play nice football, a style befitting of their blue and red strip. With El Clasico coming up on Sunday, the 18-year-old looked keen to get a little sharper ahead of Real Madrid’s visit.

The same could not be said for many of his teammates, who strolled about the pitch as if the game had been dead and buried long ago. If it weren’t for Dynamo’s complete ineptitude to play football, they’d have been punished and the Catalan press would be coming down much harder on Koeman and his flailing team.

The most lively moment of the second half came when Fati robbed goalkeeper Heorhiy Bushchan of the ball on his own goal line, flicked the ball up and attempted an overhead kick. Sure, it went wide, but at least he brought some ingenuity and a spark to a lifeless game.

Ansu Fati, Tomasz Kedziora

Fati brought energy to Barcelona’s performance / David Ramos/GettyImages

Maybe Barça’s players were too distracted by the visit of Real – who dismantled Dynamo’s bitter rivals Shakhtar Donetsk 5-0 on Tuesday – but on another night they’d be staring down the barrel of their first Champions League group stage exit in 20 years. If not for the intensity brought by a teenager off the back of a serious knee injury, this may have been a reality.

Koeman has to get more out of his players if he wants a reason to keep his job other than Barcelona simply not being able to afford to sack him. An embarrassment in the Europe’s biggest fixture awaits them, otherwise.

Barcelona 1-0 Dynamo Kyiv: Player ratings as Barça win first Champions League match of season

Barcelona won their first Champions League match of the season at the third time of asking, beating Dynamo Kyiv 1-0 at Camp Nou.

Ronald Koeman’s side had suffered successive 3-0 defeats to Bayern Munich and Benfica in Group E and were in desperate need of a result against the Ukrainian outfit to give them a fighting chance of reaching the knockout stages.

They strolled to three points on Wednesday night with a routine win against a lifeless Dynamo side.

Sergino Dest nearly gave Barcelona the lead after just 90 seconds when Jordi Alba picked him out from a deep cross, but the USA international couldn’t keep his header down.

Luuk de Jong had a huge chance to put Barça in front when he met Memphis Depay’s free-kick, but his free header was way off target.

The towering Dutchman then had a shot tipped over by Heorhiy Bushchan as the visitors tried and continually failed to build from the back.

Bushchan was on hand again to save Dynamo to deny Dest from close range, but was powerless to keep out Gerard Pique’s volley following another great looping ball from Alba, scoring Barcelona’s first Champions League goal this season.

Koeman threw on Philippe Coutinho and Ansu Fati at half-time with Dynamo there for the taking, and the duo had real joy running at the Ukrainian defence.

Fati robbed Bushchan just two yards from his goal, and attempted to beat the goalkeeper by flicking the ball in the air to score with an overhead kick, but the teenager’s effort went wide.

Barcelona created little else in terms of clear cut chances, but eased their way to victory due to Dynamo’s complete inability to do anything useful in possession.

Gerard Pique

Pique was supreme at both ends of the pitch / Alex Caparros/GettyImages

Marc-Andre ter Stegen (GK) – 5/10 – Bit harsh a rating but the poor guy had so little to do all evening.

Oscar Mingueza (RB) – 5/10 – Seemed far too defensive an option and was subsequently withdrawn at half-time for Coutinho.

Gerard Pique (CB) – 8/10 – Had the pace to keep up with young striker Vladyslav Supriaha somehow and shut down every sniff of a Dynamo attack.

Clement Lenglet (CB) – 6/10 – Minutes in the tank without looking that good or bad.

Jordi Alba (LB) – 9/10 – Rolled back the years with a dominant display from left-back.

Sergio Busquets, Vladyslav Supryaga

Busquets was off the pace but it didn’t really matter / BSR Agency/GettyImages

Sergio Busquets (DM) – 5/10 – Unlike Pique, you could see Busquets’ best years physically are behind him, bringing down Dynamo’s midfielders with clumsy challenges.

Gavi (CM) – 6/10 – Tidy, but didn’t reach the heights that he has so far already this season.

Frenkie de Jong (CM) – 6/10 – Ditto. Effective but not spectacular.

Luuk De Jong

De Jong wasn’t impressive / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

Sergino Dest (RW) – 7/10 – At least tried his best on the wing before being moved back in the second half and looking instantly more comfortable.

Luuk de Jong (CF) – 4/10 – Just so obviously out of his depth.

Memphis Depay (LW) – 6/10 – Showed flashes of promise but didn’t set the world alight.

Philippe Coutinho (RW) – 7/10 – His and Fati’s introduction brought some zip to Barcelona’s play.

Ansu Fati (LW) – 7/10 – Always exciting on the ball. A true heir to the number 10 shirt.

Sergi Roberto (CM) – 6/10

Sergio Aguero (CF) – 5/10

Troy Deeney reveals belief that outspoken nature cost him England call-up

Troy Deeney has revealed that he believes his outspoken nature might have cost him an England call-up, as well as preventing him from moving clubs during his career.

Deeney was a reliable scorer throughout the 2010s, regularly notching double-digit for goals in the Premier League each season, as well as challenging in the Championship Golden Boot race prior to Watford’s promotion to the top flight.

Despite this, he never received a Three Lions cap, not even making an England squad during his peak.

Now 33 and playing for hometown club Birmingham City in the second tier, it seems that his chances of breaking his international duck are remote.

Speaking on the On the Judy Podcast – part of the 90min Podcast Network – Deeney explained that his reputation as someone who speaks their mind might have played a part in him being overlooked by his country.

Asked about his outspoken nature, he said: “It definitely stopped moves. I believe that it certainly hampered England aspirations at times. Because we’ve only just met each other recently and you can see that I’m cool, I’m happy-go-lucky.

“But if you don’t know me, you see the football version of me and me being outspoken. It that doesn’t correlate to me being a welcoming kind of guy. So why would you want that in your team? Why would you want to bring that kind of potential trouble into your team? And yeah, it’s definitely stopped moves.”

Deeney is also eligible for Jamaica and throughout his career he has been linked with switching his allegiances to the Reggae Boyz.

Several other England-born players have gone down this route recently including Kemar Roofe, Jamal Lowe and Michail Antonio, with the 2022 World Cup on the horizon.

However, Deeney ruled out making a similar move, saying: “I can still play for Jamaica today. But see how I look at it, it’s very different.

“I think two things. One, I’ve never visited Jamaica myself. So why would I go and represent something I don’t represent.

“My dad died before we could ever go back. My dad always said he wanted to go and he died. He’s never gone. Why should I go? Like he holds an attachment. that was his dream, so why would I go and do that?”

He added: “So like me, going out to Jamaica, I’m playing, I’m taking away from someone that that’s their only chance to represent their country the same way. I would love to represent England because I’ve grown up watching Wrighty, Alan Shearer, Gascoigne.

“Some person that works and lives in Jamaica, and he’s playing football in Jamaica and might have gone to the [United] States to play football. To represent Jamaica is a big thing.

“But I get a pass because I played in the Premier League. I get to jump over him because I’m from England. So based on that, I’m actually taken away from the roots. I’m taken away from the culture, if you look at it that way, because I’m getting a head start.”

Subscribe to the On the Judy podcast, part of the 90min podcast network, on your usual podcast platform, and check out new episodes when they drop on YouTube.