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Liverpool managed to extend their Premier League winning streak to five games after registering a 2-1 victory over Tottenham on Saturday, though Giorginio Wijnaldum was the unlikely goal-scorer when he put his side in front in the first half.
Star strikers Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane were unable to find the back of the net, though it wasn’t for a want of trying – with the Senegalese international choosing to go for goal himself instead of squaring it to Salah at Wembley Stadium.
Speculation grew after the game that a rivalry was growing between Mane and Salah, with both wanting individual goal-scoring glory and Egyptian fans accusing the Senegal forward of being selfish – but where did it all start?
Why are Egyptian fans angry at Mane?
Egyptian football fans are extremely loyal to both their nation and to their nation’s hero and talisman Salah, and so it is not surprising that they descended on Mane’s social media following the Tottenham game to accuse him of snubbing his team-mate.
Back in May, when Sergio Ramos accidentally-on-purpose brought Salah down to the ground and injured his shoulder, it seemed as if Egyptian fans were ready to take the defender to war in the event that Spain and Egypt were to meet in the World Cup group stages.
Fortunately for Ramos, Spain never met with Egypt in the World Cup and so had his life spared.
But Egyptian fans were frustrated with the fact that Mane had several opportune chances to pass to Salah during the victory over Spurs but ultimately decided against finding his team-mate, choosing to go for goal himself but missing the target.
Salah was clearly aggravated with his inability to score during the game, something that was shared with Egyptian fans, and so they used Mane as a scapegoat.
The Senegal international posted a photo to Instagram following the victory at Spurs, at which he was inundated with comments from Egyptian fans demanding he pass to Salah in the future.
The situation was exacerbated over the weekend after it surfaced that Liverpool midfielder Wijnaldum appeared to ‘like’ a comment on Instagram suggesting that Mane was being selfish with his passing in the final third.
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Is there a rivalry between Mane and Salah?
This is not the first time that speculation of a rivalry growing between the two Liverpool forwards. Last season, when Salah set the Premier League alight with his prolific debut season at Anfield, some thought that Mane was aggrieved at having the limelight taken away from him after he himself had just produced a fruitful season for the Reds.
Of course, such talk has repeatedly been dismissed by Mane, Salah and Klopp, with the striker pair always speaking about their strong friendship and bond.
The pair – and Roberto Firmino – have always had a mutual understanding in front of goal and are a lethal strike partnership, with the front-three being the most prolific in the Premier League and Champions League last season.
29 – Mo Salah (10), Roberto Firmino (10) and Sadio Mane (9) are now the highest scoring trio for a club in a single #UCL campaign, overtaking Ronaldo, Bale and Benzema at Real Madrid in 2013-14 (28). Ménage.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 2, 2018
Klopp has dismissed speculation that there is competition between his forwards and Mane and Salah have repeatedly stated that the only thing that matters is a win for the team.
When asked about his relationship with Mane, Salah told France Football: “We are friends, we talk a lot. Generally, all three of us sit in the dressing room at the same place, right after the matches.
“There is a real solidarity between us because we do not care who will score the most or who scores first.
“Everyone works to make sure the other succeeds. And as you can see, we all score.”
The sight of both Salah and Mane praying on the pitch before the start of matches, kneeling to the ground in the direction of Mecca, is a common sight for football fans – both sharing in their devout worship of Islam.
Has Salah’s form this season been poor?
While it may seem that Salah been off-colour so far this campaign, he has – after the five game mark – just scored one goal fewer this season than last.
The 25-year-old has netted twice and registered two assists so far this Premier League campaign, which is just one goal fewer than the three goals he managed to score at the same stage last term.
So, in reality, Salah is well on course to continue on from his form from last season, and it is far too early to determine whether he’s caught the bug of the sophomore slump.
Salah only started really scoring goals for fun a few months after the start of the season, and so any fear that the Egyptian will be unable to reclaim the form that saw him break multiple Liverpool records are still premature.
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Barcelona begin their quest for Champions League glory this season when they face PSV at Camp Nou on Tuesday.
Ernesto Valverde’s side were drawn along with the Dutch champions in Group B, which also contains Premier League side Tottenham and Serie A behemoths Inter.
The Liga champions, who are chasing their sixth Champions League title, will be eager to make an impact in the 2018-19 edition after being knocked out at the quarter-final stage last season.
PSV, meanwhile, have returned to UEFA’s premier club competition after failing to qualify last term.
|Game||Barcelona vs PSV|
|Date||Tuesday, September 18|
|Time||5:55pm BST / 12:55pm ET|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In the United States (US) the game will be available to watch live on television via TNT USA or Univision and it can be streamed live online using Watch TNT, B/R Live or Univision NOW.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
|TNT USA / Univision||Watch TNT / B/R Live / Univision NOW|
The game can be watched live on television in the United Kingdom (UK) via BT Sport 1 and it can be streamed live online using the BT Sport app.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
|BT Sport 1||BT Sport app|
Squads & Team News
|Goalkeepers||Ter Stegen, Cillessen, Pena, Ezkieta|
|Defenders||Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Rafinha, Alba, Umtiti, Vermaelen, Miranda, Cuenca|
|Midfielders||Rakitic, S. Busquets, D. Suarez, Arthur, Samper, Roberto, Vidal, Alena, Puig, Monchu, Collado, O. Busquets|
|Forwards||Coutinho, L. Suarez, Messi, Dembele, Malcom, Munir, Ruiz|
Valverde will have a near-full panel to choose from, with Denis Suarez likely to be fit enough to take a place in the squad, but Sergi Samper is injured.
Nelson Semedo began the weekend’s game against Real Sociedad at right-back but was taken off at half-time and Sergi Roberto, who has played there this season, has been preferred.
Philippe Coutinho, who came on at the beginning of the second half in that contest, will earn the start, his first for Barcelona in the Champions League after he was unable to feature for them last year.
Barcelona XI: Ter Stegen; Alba, Pique, Umtiti, Roberto; S. Busquets, Rakitic, Coutinho; Dembele, Messi, L. Suarez.
|Goalkeepers||Zoet, Room, Van Osch|
|Defenders||Isimat-Mirin, Behich, Viergever, Schwaab, Angelino, Obispo, Sainsbury, Dumfries, Teze, Soulas|
|Midfielders||Pereiro, Hendrix, Rigo, Rosario, Ramselaar, Lundqvist, Gutierrez, Thomas, Sadilek, Mauro Junior, Frey|
|Forwards||De Jong, Romero, Lozano, Malen, Bergwijn, Gakpo, Aboukhlal|
The likes of Ramon-Pascal Lundqvist, Ryan Thomas, Dante Rigo and Maximiliano Romero are injury concerns and unlikely to play. Van Bommel will be relying on stars such as Hirving Lozano, Luuk de Jong and Steven Bergwijn for goals.
PSV XI: Zoet; Dumfries, Schwaab, Viergever, Tasende; Hendrix, Pereiro, Rosario; Bergwijn, Lozano, De Jong.
Betting & Match Odds
Barcelona are serious favourites to win at 1/9 according to bet365 . PSV’s chances of victory are rated at 25/1 and a draw is deemed more likely at 11/1.
Click here to see more offers for the Champions League games, including goalscoring markets, correct score predictions and more.
Despite steering Barcelona to Liga glory in impressive fashion, Valverde could not crack the Champions League as his side crashed out against Roma in the last eight, despite taking what appeared to be an unassailable 4-1 lead in the first leg.
As he looks to build on the foundations laid in his first full season at the helm of the Catalan club, continental success will surely be high on the agenda.
The former Real Betis boss has added greater depth to his squad, recruiting players such as Arthur, Clement Lenglet, Malcom and Arturo Vidal, which should go some way towards helping the team manage what can often become a gruelling schedule, particularly heading into the latter stages of the competition.
“We prioritise everything, we will always fight for the Champions League,” Valverde told reporters back in August when asked about where his focus lay.
“Barca will always be like that, we are very excited but the way to win the Champions League is to win the league. You focus on being better for a year, and if so, you are closer to winning the Champions League.”
They get things started with a home match against a youthful PSV team, which is managed by former Barca midfielder Mark van Bommel and contains the talented Hirving Lozano, who has previously been linked with a move to Catalunya .
Sterner tasks are sure to come with Tottenham and Inter also competing in Group B, but they cannot afford to take the Eredivisie champions for granted.
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Scottish side Partick Thistle have confirmed that they have approached Fifa, through the Scottish FA, after the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) declined to issue an international transfer certificate (ITC) to Ivorian forward Souleymane Coulibaly.
Coulibaly fled Egypt in May last year after just four months into his three-and-a half year contract with Al-Ahly, claiming he was feeling unsafe in the North African country.
Al Ahly reported the Ivorian to Fifa who then ordered him to pay a fine of $1.4 million.
The EFA is declining to clear him to play for Partick Thistle. So, the Scottish outfit has now sought Fifa’s intervention to resolve the matter.
“The Egyptian Football Association has confirmed that it has refused to grant an international transfer certificate (ITC) for Souleymane Coulibaly’s proposed move to Partick Thistle Football Club,” said the club in a statement.
“Despite being obliged to reply within seven days relative to a request for an ITC, the Egyptian FA has waited until the 14th day to refuse the request. As such, the Scottish FA has now asked Fifa to reject the refusal. Subsequently the Egyptian FA has been given until Friday (21/09) to provide additional information requested by the world governing body.”
According to Partick Thistle, they are yet to make any financial commitments to the player, pending the resolution of the matter as per their contract with Coulibaly.
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He was overlooked for the vacant Arsenal position before the season, but Mikel Arteta will get the chance to stand in for Pep Guardiola in Manchester City’s Champions League opener.
City face Lyon at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday but they will do so without their talismanic manager, who is serving a suspension following his sending off in the quarter-final second-leg defeat at the hands of Liverpool last April.
Arteta faced the media on Tuesday and fielded questions on his own managerial ambitions, as well as City’s plans for coping without the influence of their figurehead in the dugout.
Having spent five years at Arsenal as a player, Arteta was a top candidate to replace the departing Arsene Wenger, only for former Paris Saint-Germain boss Unai Emery to be given the job.
“I didn’t talk on that moment two or three months ago and I don’t think today is the day to talk about,” Arteta said. “You all know some things that happened, the reality is I’m here and I’m very happy.
“In football it’s so hard to predict things, when things happen you have to make a decision, the decision was made and I’m so happy and privileged to be where I am.
“I feel very fulfilled with the job at the moment. If you ask me in future will I become a coach the answer is probably yes but I’m really happy where I am and I think we’re in a fantastic momentum now and there’s still room for this club to grow.”
Although Guardiola’s role will be heavily restricted on Wednesday, Arteta confirmed that City’s build-up to their Group F opener had been no different than usual.
“Up to now the preparation has been completely normal, the difference tomorrow is obviously there are some rules that we will respect,” Arteta said. “I will be on the touchline and try to make the right decisions and for the rest nothing will change.
“It’s a good challenge. If I had to choose, I would choose Pep to be on the touchline because he does that better than anyone else. We will try to reduce the impact and give the players what they need and hopefully it will work well.
“[Guardiola] is very disappointed, we know how much the Champions League means for him. It’s the first match and it’s vital for the group stage but he had a reaction to something that happened in a big game, they made a decision, we respect that and this is the situation. He wouldn’t choose it but this is what’s happening, I’m here to try to do my best.”
Arteta also revealed that Sergio Aguero, who was substituted early in the second half of Saturday’s 3-0 Premier League win over Fulham with a foot injury, and Benjamin Mendy, who missed the game altogether, would be assessed in Tuesday’s training session ahead of the clash with Lyon.
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