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    WEEKEND PREVIEWS/TABLES: Can Spurs Stop United? Barca Face Tough Sevilla & Juve To Win It At Napoli

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    Premier League
    12:30 West Bromwich Albion vs Liverpool
    15:00 Watford vs Crystal Palace
    Sunday
    13:30 Arsenal vs West Ham
    13:30 Stoke vs Burnley
    16:30 Manchester City vs Swansea
    FA Cup
    17:15 Manchester United vs Tottenham
    Sunday
    15:00 Chelsea vs Southampton

    FA CUP: MANCHESTER UNITED VS TOTTENHAM

    The big talking point: FA Cup semi-finals speak for themselves, but this is a real heavyweight game.  Tottenham are seeking tangible reward for all their progress, while Jose Mourinho will be hoping to add some  gloss to a fairly unremarkable season.

    What will happen: Don’t be surprised if Tottenham set up with three centre-backs. Toby Alderweireld came through 90 minutes against Brighton in midweek, performing well, and Spurs’ defence could certainly do with some added security against Mourinho’s frontline.

    What won’t happen: Danny Rose and Harry Winks are both missing for Tottenham, while Mourinho will likely return Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford to the bench. Ignore the empty threats made a few days ago, all the famous names will start.

    FA CUP: CHELSEA VS SOUTHAMPTON
    The big talking point: This isn’t quite as a straightforward as it looks. As last weekend showed, Southampton are fully capable of causing this Chelsea team issues and, for Mark Hughes and his players, this will be a liberating, nothing-to-lose afternoon. That’s always, always dangerous.

    What will happen: We – sticking out necks out – are going to back the upset here. Chelsea’s form is improving and they’ve certainly been better over the last two games, but they’re still without a regular source of goals. Alvaro Morata’s bad miss at Turf Moor suggests that he’s far from a confident player, so Olivier Giroud will likely start. Conte’s defence, last season the basis for so much success, is now without a clean sheet against Premier League opposition since December 12.

    What won’t happen: Crucially, there’ll be no Marcos Alonso. He may not be the very best wing-back in the game, but it’s remarkable just how often he manages to be the difference in big games. Without him, Antonio Conte’s left side really isn’t the same.

    West Brom vs Liverpool
    The big talking point: Good news for West Brom: they can’t actually be mathematically relegated this weekend. That’s the reward for winning at Old Trafford, even if it does seem like they only delayed the inevitable.

    What will happen: Rotation. Liverpool play the first leg of their Champions League semi-final with Roma next week, so expect Jurgen Klopp to have his mind on that. Emre Can is out, so Jordan Henderson won’t be getting a day off, but Dominic Solanke, Danny Ings and Alberto Moreno should all come in. Mohamed Salah is still in
    race for the Golden Boot, so he should get an opportunity to increase his lead over Harry Kane.

    What won’t happen: No Daniel Sturridge, of course, as he’s ineligible to face his parent club. Klopp will have to do without Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip, who are both carrying injuries and unlikely to be risked.

    Watford vs Crystal Palace
    The big talking point: Safety. Palace can’t make themselves safe with a win here, but they can do everything but.

    What will happen: Rumours have leaked out this week about Christian Benteke’s future. Roy Hodgson has apparently grow frustrated with the Belgian and is willing to sell him over the summer; expected Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend to start at the top of the pitch for Palace.

    What won’t happen: Watford, again, seem to have signed off in the middle of a season. Without that excellent win over Chelsea, Javi Gracia’s arrival would be seen as having made little difference to their trajectory or any impact on their collective attitude. A revival now – they’re without a win in any of their last five games – seems unlikely and, really, this is a problem which has to be addressed sooner rather than later.

    Stoke vs Burnley 
    The big talking point: A very last chance for Stoke. Their performances have improved recently – noticeably so – but they just haven’t taken the points necessary to move out of the relegation zone. They can’t drop on Saturday, irrespective of what happens everywhere else, but a loss combined with other unfavourable results
    will make their doom a virtual certainty.

    What will happen: Stoke will at least have the benefit of playing a fatigued opponent. If there’s one gripe to be had about football at this time of year, it’s the lack of parity in the schedule. Burnley play on Thursday night and will have just two days’ rest before travelling to Staffordshire; given what’s at stake, is that really fair on everyone?

    What won’t happen: Based on what they’ve shown in recent games, is there really much to suggest that Stoke are capable of breaking Burnley down? They have, Xherdan Shaqiri aside, almost no craft and no regular goalscorer, and will have to rely on outworking – arguably – the most stubborn team in the league.

    ARSENAL VS WEST HAM
    The big talking point: Arsene Wenger announced his Arsenal departure on Friday and the curtain will now start to draw on one of the finest managerial careers in European football history. This game will be secondary to an emotional day at the Emirates.

    What will happen: Wenger’s team selection will reflect his focus. The Premier League was deprioritised some time ago and, obviously, the Frenchman would love to depart having finally captured that elusive European trophy. Expect plenty of rotation, then, as he aims his guns at the Europa League.

    What won’t happen: The suggestion this week is that David Moyes is set for a contract extension at West Ham and that, as part of that, he’ll assume full control of the club’s transfer policy. He’s certainly improved the side, even if it has become quite robotic, but that seems premature – under him, have they done anything
    other than avoid relegation? Yes, that was of huge importance, but surely there’s ambition beyond just basic stability at London Stadium.

    Manchester City vs Swansea
    The big talking point: The Premier League trophy will be in the building. Manchester City are worthy champions and this, against a Swansea side with an eye on more winnable fixtures, will be the coronation they’ve earned.

    What will happen: Swansea face Chelsea at home next weekend and then two huge games with Bournemouth and Southampton in the weeks after, so Carlos Carvalhal might use this as an opportunity for some rotation. The last thing the Portuguese needs is another injury or a further suspension, because one more win should be
    enough to see his club safe – improbably – for another year.

    What won’t happen: Renato Sanches has returned to the club and is back in training after his long, long injury absence (he hasn’t played since January 27), but this game will come too soon for him.

    Everton vs Newcastle
    The big talking point: Not a talking point as such, but it will be interesting to hear the reception afforded to Sam “11 of out 10” Allardyce after this week’s survey controversy.

    What will happen: Newcastle will get the single point they need for safety. As and when they do, Rafa Benitez should be in any conversation relating to the manager-of-the-season award. Think of the squad he has, the limitations he’s worked under, and then recognise what he’s still managed to do. It’s not winning the Champions League with Liverpool, but it’s a far greater achievement than is being assumed.

    What won’t happen: Allardyce’s comments this week won’t do him any favours. Given the standard of performance he’s overseen, this was a time to be conciliatory and attempt to build some bridges with Everton’s supporters. Instead, he’s fallen back into his old routine, swaggering with hubris and puffing out his chest. His departure has never been more inevitable.


     

    La Liga
    12:00 Eibar vs Getafe
    15:15 Celta Vigo vs Valencia
    Sunday
    11:00 Girona vs Espanyol
    15:15 Malaga vs Real Sociedad
    17:30 Las Palmas vs Alaves
    19:45 Atletico Madrid vs Real Betis
    Copa del Rey
    20:30 Barcelona vs Sevilla

    With no game for Real Madrid this weekend – their fixture against Sevilla was postponed because of the Andalusian’s participation in the Copa del Rey final – Atletico have a chance to move further ahead of their cross town rivals.

    It’ll be no easy task against a revitalised Betis however, especially after a shock 3-0 defeat to Real Sociedad on Thursday that all but sealed the title for Barcelona. If Atletico lose again here, Barca will be 12 points clear with 12 points to play for. Quique Setien’s side might have shipped the most goals in the entire top have of the Spanish top flight, but they have momentum just at the right term, and are sat proudly in the European places.

    With one eye on the Europa League semi-final against Arsenal, Diego Simeone may choose to rest a few of his key players, but he doesn’t want to overdo the rotations.

    The Rojiblancos’ favourite result is a hard-fought 1-0, and in Jan Oblak they have a brick wall as a keeper. If Atletico can break the five-man Betis defence down in the early stages, then they’re more than capable of sitting on their lead.

    Diego Godin should be on his guard at the other end for the twin threat of Loren Moron and Sergio Leon, both of whom are capable of helping to cause an upset.

    Barcelona, Sevilla Brace for Copa Del Rey Final Showdown

    Barcelona take on Sevilla in a mouthwatering Copa del Rey Final showdown at Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday.
    The meeting between the two heavyweights will undoubtedly be the talk of Spain this weekend. Both sides will feel they each have much to prove heading into the showpiece event, and claiming this piece of silverware would provide a major lift to either side’s faltering ends to the season.
    Barcelona’s last five games have rather told the story of their season to date. A 4-1 Champions League romp at home to Roma in the first leg of their quarter final tie seemed to be putting them well on course for their customarily expected semi final place.
    Followed by a 3-1 league win over Leganes, strengthening their position as rampant league leaders, it seemed as though Barca were in line for another all-conquering campaign.
    A 3-0 defeat away in Rome in the second leg of their quest for European glory sent them crashing out of the Champions League in heartbreaking fashion.
    A less convincing 2-1 win at home to Valencia in the league followed, and a 2-2 draw away to Celta Vigo, in which Barca twice surrendered the lead to drop two points, have left something of a cloud over the Catalan club at present. Victory on Saturday would alter the complexion and appease the current grumblings confronting Messi and co.
    Sevilla’s previous outings make for rather bleaker reading from their perspective. A quarter-final first leg defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League initiated the downward spiral.
    Barcelona will be without first choice right back Sergi Roberto for the match, who is suspended following the red card shown to the Spaniard in Barca’s 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo on Tuesday. Nelson Semedo is likely to deputize in Roberto’s absence.
    Ivan Rakitic was missing from action in that midweek draw, as he has been suffering with a fractured finger. It is likely that Ernesto Valverde will be keen to call upon one Rakitic as one of his first choice midfielders.
    Sergi Samper remains absent through a longer term injury problem, while Jasper Cillessen is likely to start ahead of first choice goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, as the Dutchman has played every minute of Barca’s Copa del Rey campaign so far this season.
    Vincenzo Montella will be without defenders Sebastien Corchia and Simon Kjaer. Corchia remains sidelined with a groin injury, while Kjaer continues to struggle with a knee problem. Sevilla are likely to make a number of changes to the side which drew 0-0 with Deportivo on Tuesday, in which Montella rested several of his key men ahead of the cup final.

    Celta will settle for another home point against Valencia

    Both of these sides couldn’t beat Barcelona in the past week but the pair gave the Catalans a battle. Iago Aspas and Rodrigo Morena, Spain team-mates, will be tasked with earning the three points for their sides which are equally important for either.

    Celta have a chance at a Europa League placing at this point, but have Girona and Getafe breathing down their necks, not to mention trying to overhaul Sevilla, whilst Valencia still have a great chance of  finishing third, perhaps even second if results go their way.

    Los Che have the meaner defence and also the upper hand in this particular fixture. However, Celta have only lost three times at home all season, the last time coming way back in mid-December.

    If Marcelino wants to come away from Balaidos with at least a point, then his side will have to contain the electric Pione Sisto and inventive Brais Mendez.

    Conversely, Celta can’t cede as much possession in the midfield as they did against Barca. Geoffrey Kondogbia will waltz through the middle like a knife through butter, whilst Dani Parejo and Goncalo Guedes will have the hosts singing a merry tune if they’re given half the chance.

    Girona back in the groove against Espanyol

    Another Catalan derby, and one where it might’ve been expected that the first timers in La Liga, Girona, would be playing catch up with much of the division rather than Espanyol.

    Though the team from Montilivi have dropped off of the pace in the last few games, they’re still sitting pretty and with every chance of a Europa League spot if they can find their form of a few weeks ago.

    Quique Sanchez Flores has had a disastrous season at Espanyol, and ever since he wasn’t allowed to take the Stoke job, his team have suffered. In the last 14 games since inflicting Barcelona’s first defeat of the season the Copa del Rey, the Periquitos have only won twice.

    One of those was courtesy of a stellar performance against Real Madrid, but they’ve been found wanting in a number of matches. They’re also goalless in the last four, the likes of Gerard Moreno and Leo Baptistao trying too hard to score at present.

    That hasn’t been a problem for Portu or Cristhian Stuani at Girona, and the hosts should comfortably bounce back here, to pile even more pressure on Quique.

     

    Alaves to put another nail in Las Palmas’ coffin

    If the Canary Islanders aren’t already down before kick-off, then this is the match that will seal their fate.

    Paco Jemez was brought in to try and save them from the drop after a disastrous start, but by the coach’s own admission, they are ‘the worst team I’ve ever trained.’

    Though his assessment is a little harsh, Las Palmas have only produced what they’re capable of in brief flashes.

    Alaves also struggled in the first half of the campaign, but Abelardo’s hire at least steadied the ship. Still in the lower reaches of the table, they’ll consider staying up a success given that they were cut adrift at one point.

    This is the sort of game that Munir El Haddadi will enjoy, the ex-Barca man thriving in the Basque country.

    Clean sheets in the last three give them a platform from which to build, and don’t be surprised if John Guidetti’s power gets him on the score sheet too.

    Another former Barcelona player, Alen Halilovic, hasn’t had any impact at all on Las Palmas. Once christened the ‘Croatian Messi,’ he rarely has an end product. And end product is precisely what Jemez’s team need in this situation.


    Serie A
    14:00 SPAL 2013 vs Roma
    17:00 Sassuolo vs Fiorentina
    19:45 AC Milan vs Benevento
    Sunday
    11:30 Cagliari vs Bologna
    14:00 Udinese vs Crotone
    14:00 Lazio vs Sampdoria
    14:00 Atalanta vs Torino
    14:00 Chievo vs Inter
    19:45 Juventus vs Napoli


    Cagliari v Bologna

    Diego Lopez rested several of his Cagliari first team for the midweek defeat to Inter, and with the Sardinians’ run-in looking nightmarish, they’ll be mega motivated to beat a Bologna team who lead the sides in the bottom half, and who would seem to have little to play for.
    Bologna could still technically be relegated, and a Cagliari win would leave only three points between the sides, but I think that Roberto Donadoni’s side know that they’ll be OK, and they’ll face a desperate Cagliari.
    Lopez’s team might look comfortable when you take a cursory glance at the table, but games against Samp, Roma, Fiorentina and Atalanta will follow, and 32 points going into those will not be enough. They played well in patches against Inter on Tuesday night, and will be much improved here, with Luca Cigarini and Nicolò Barella back from suspension, and top scorer Leonardo Pavoletti starting after he was rested.
    Bologna have lost four of their last seven, have been beaten in six of their last seven away.

    Juventus v Napoli

    At one point on Wednesday night, the in-running gap between Juventus and Napoli was up to nine points, and the Serie A title seemed all but certain to return to Turin. A second half twist means that Juve remain favourites, but know that a Napoli victory on Sunday night would reduce that apparent chasm to just one point. It would be game on.
    All of that presumes that Napoli can come here and win, though, and I don’t think that they can. Juventus snuffed out their threat at the San Paolo earlier in the season, and with the Old Lady now out of the Champions League and focused entirely on winning the Scudetto.
    I know that Napoli showed spirit to fight back against Udinese in midweek, but the shocking thing was that they even needed to fight back. Juventus switched off against Crotone, but Napoli’s worries are something else entirely. They look tired and lethargic and have been walking through treacle for a few weeks now, I think that Juventus will finish them on Sunday night.
    Napoli deserve great praise for the fight that they have shown, and may yet prove me wrong. Juventus are too good, too mentally strong, too powerful, and their habit of repelling every challenger will continue this weekend.

    Lazio v Sampdoria

    Lazio remain in a race for the top three in Serie A after their remarkable victory at Fiorentina in midweek, while Sampdoria have the Europa League on their minds as they look to chase down Milan. Samp are excellent at home and no better than average away, and they have paid the price for that inconsistency this campaign. There’s not much chance of Marco Giampaolo coming to Rome and trying to defend, as he knows that his team will need to score at least once here, and that could lead to an open game.
    Lazio nearly always provide us with that: they’re the top goal scorers in the division, and will more than likely provide this season’s Capocannoniere, and Simone Inzaghi’s achievements with the club always seem a little underrated to me.
    Lazio’s last six games have produced 29 goals (including that 0-0 draw in the Derby). Last weekend’s late win against Bologna will have given them confidence, and with Samp good enough to score twice at Atalanta a couple of weeks ago, there’s no reason that they won’t do something similar at Lazio. Their problem is that they’ll more than likely be outscored.


    Ligue 1
    16:00 Marseille vs Lille
    19:00 Amiens vs Strasbourg
    19:00 Toulouse vs Angers
    19:00 Metz vs Caen
    19:00 Guingamp vs Monaco
    Sunday
    14:00 Nice vs Montpellier
    16:00 Saint-Etienne vs Troyes
    20:00 Bordeaux vs Paris Saint Germain


    Gameweek 33 may have seen PSG irrevocably crowned champions, now for the seventh time, but elsewhere in Ligue 1 there is still a great deal to play for. A race for third in the table and a fascinating relegation battle will be determined over the next five games.

    Metz’s excellent 2-1 victory at fifth-placed Rennes last week was their first away victory since December, and only their third of the season. Two goals within five minutes from forward Nolan Rouz may provoke Les Grenats to seriously make a push for a 2018/2019 residency in the French top division. Metz are five points adrift of safety with five games to play. A run that features 19th-placed Lille, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see Metz continue make a sincere attempt at a great escape. Rouz has been a shining light, alongside Mathieu Dossevi, this season for Metz; his goals last week have taken the 30 year-old past Kylian Mbappe and Rony Lopes in the overall Ligue 1 goal-scoring charts, and equalling Memphis Depay of Lyon.

    Whilst Lyon are level on points with Marseille, they will want to extend the goal difference which is currently keeping them a nose ahead. The two teams are now just four points behind AS Monaco, who completely capitulated at the Parc des Princes to finally hand the crown to PSG.

    The 7-1 loss by the presumed first runners-up to the title winners has done no favours for the French league, and Monaco are no longer as secure in second as previously thought with the aforementioned teams breathing down their neck. The two most distant teams in the division, a long journey to Guingamp at the Stade de Roudourou might not be the best remedy for Les Monégasques. This maybe also be the final run of games to see the underperforming Thomas Lemar in the red and white of Monaco, as he is repeatedly linked with a move away this summer (perhaps into the red and white of another particular team).

    A tired Marseille team, exhausted from their midweek Europa League travails, managed two goals in the last 15 minutes to provide a not-altogether convincing win against Troyes last weekend. Florian Thauvin scored his 20th goal coming from behind against Troyes and his return from injury is a boost for Les Phoceens as they continue to, gratefully, battle on domestic and continental fronts. This also means they have scored eight in their last two games, when totalled with the five past RB Leipzig in the Europa League, and it will probably be the resulting first leg of the semi-final against FC Salzburg on the following Thursday that will be at the forefront of manager Rudi Garcia’s mind.

    This might be welcomed by their Saturday afternoon opponents Lille, although it looks increasingly unlikely that it will be taken advantage of. Lille are a sorry state of affairs, with one win in 14 and seem destined for Ligue 2, perhaps embarrassingly bottom if Metz demonstrate the relative quality they have teased of late.

    Two teams quite familiar with Ligue 2 get reacquainted as Strasbourg travel to the Hauts-de-France to play Amiens. Remarkably, they have rose together in tandem through the French divisions over the past two seasons. In Ligue 2 last year, they provided one of the matches of the year, in a topsy-turvy encounter ending 4-3. Three goals for each side, -both including a penalty- before the clock had even registered 40, the match was only decided two minutes from time by Thomas Monconduit for Amiens. Despite Strasbourg topping the second division last year, it has been Les Licornes who have been most smug after recent meetings, winning four of the last five. Their summer acquisition Moussa Konate has proven to be an astute buy with 10 goals this campaign.

    The team that came up with them, now 19th-placed Troyes, whilst performing admirably for the majority of the match just couldn’t hold on to record a result against fourth-placed Olympique de Marseille. Playing 10-time league winners Saint-Etienne this week could be even more of a tough test of their credentials to remain in
    the premier French division. Saint-Etienne are undefeated in 11 games- a run that includes PSG, Marseille and Lyon- and one must wonder the table position potential had they shown this type of character earlier on in the season.

    Toulouse will play their first fixture in two weeks after their match against Caen last week was cancelled due to bad weather. Despite being in 17th position in the table, Toulouse haven’t been beaten by no more than two goals on any occasion since the third game of the season but are desperate to push away from the relegation quagmire. The team they welcome, Angers, have quite respectably only managed to lose just once, and this coming to PSG, in their past seven games.

    Perhaps the most-closely fought game this week should be exhibited on Sunday between sixth-place OGC Nice and the team directly below them Montpellier. The two teams are a hair’s breadth apart and alternated places last week following Nice’s draw with Angers and Montpellier’s 3-1 loss to Bordeaux.

    Those inclined to watch PSG versus Bordeaux will probably be providing more of a duty than world record signing Neymar, who apparently wasn’t at the Parc des Princes last Sunday to see his team officially win his first- and what’s looking increasingly likely as only- French Ligue 1 title. However, with two wins on the bounce, it will be somewhat surprising if Bordeaux make this a hat-trick against Unai Emery’s side with the manager and a good proportion of his PSG team seem resigned to serving their last few games for Les Parisiens.

    It’s incredible to say that, with the amount that PSG have spent, the stars that are paraded out every week, and the classy, tantalising football they’ve exhibited, that something needs to change in the French capital. It is when one compares it to the emphatic celebrations following the victory of PSV Eindhoven in the Eredivisie, Manchester City in the Premier League, and what’s probable to greet Juventus in Serie A in the foreseeable future, that one has to consider the possible discrepancies between where Paris Saint- Germain as champions, their owners, their fans, and the wider footballing world see them at the moment.


    Bundesliga
    14:30 Eintracht Frankfurt vs Hertha Berlin
    14:30 RasenBallsport Leipzig vs Hoffenheim
    14:30 Hannover 96 vs Bayern Munich
    14:30 Hamburger SV vs Freiburg
    14:30 VfB Stuttgart vs Werder Bremen
    17:30 Borussia Dortmund vs Bayer Leverkusen
    Sunday
    14:30 Augsburg vs Mainz 05
    17:00 FC Cologne vs Schalke 04

    Hannover v Bayern Munich
    Bayern Munich are still on course for a remarkable treble. The Bundesliga title has been wrapped up, Tuesday’s stellar 6-2 win at Bayer Leverkusen booked another appearance at the DFB Cup final, and Real Madrid await in the semi-finals of the Champions League. Rather than slowing down at the end of a demanding season, Bayern seem to be getting better by the game.
    Some much-needed clarity has also been obtained when it comes to the coaching situation. Eintracht Frankfurt boss Niko Kovac has agreed to take the reins at the Allianz Arena, and his final game with the Eagles will be the cup final against his new employers. Kovac has shown excellent motivational skills and good tactical awareness in Frankfurt, and I think he’ll do a fine job in Munich. He also played for Bayern as a midfielder, so that helps.
    Bayern’s opponents this weekend are Hannover, who are grateful that they made such a strong start to the season. A collapse in 2018 could have been very costly had they not already had so many points in the bank.
    They have taken just 13 points from 13 games since the turn of the year, but they are realistically just one win from total safety, and they might have already done enough.
    Bayern have won their last two matches 6-2 and 5-1, and they have scored 37 goals in their last ten outings. I don’t expect ailing Hannover to put up enough resistance to prevent another comfortable Bayern victory.

    Eintracht Frankfurt v Hertha Berlin
    The aforementioned Niko Kovac has done a remarkable job with Eintracht Frankfurt. Not only has he guided them to a second consecutive DFB Cup final (they won 1-0 at Schalke on Wednesday night), but he has kept them in contention for a place in the Champions League. Admittedly, Frankfurt need to win all of their games to make the top four after they were bashed 4-1 at Leverkusen last weekend, but for a club of their resources to be in the mix is impressive.
    Kovac has knitted together a squad that features 17 different nationalities, and he has shown great man- management skills to get a tune out of problematic midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng. The squad has great faith in the tactical framework Kovac has built for them, and they are willing to fight, as we saw in the cup semi-final at Schalke.
    Frankfurt have won five of their last six home games, and I expect them to extend that impressive streak against a Hertha Berlin that has been limping along for some time. They are one of the only sides in the Bundesliga who truly have little to play for. They won’t be relegated, and only a remarkable run of wins would see them sneak into the top seven. They are the picture of inconsistency – nine wins and nine defeats, 35 goals scored and 35 conceded. Comfortable survival isn’t to be sniffed at, with bigger clubs than Hertha in deep relegation trouble, but coach Pal Dardai will be a little disappointed not to have been part of the scrap for Europa League qualification.
    Frankfurt are on a high after Wednesday’s win, and they have been superb at home. I’ll back them to take three points here.
    Borussia Dortmund v Bayer Leverkusen
    All is not well with Borussia Dortmund. I saw their problems first-hand on Sunday, as they slipped to a 2-0 Revierderby defeat at Schalke. Although Dortmund had long spells of possession in the second half, they rarely looked like breaking through an organised Schalke rearguard. To make matters worse, star striker Michy Batshuayi damaged ankle ligaments, and will almost certainly miss the rest of the club season.
    Dortmund look likely to separate from coach Peter Stoger at the end of the season, regardless of whether he secures a top-four finish. He hasn’t stamped his authority on the squad in any way, and there are simply too many players under-performing. Nice coach Lucien Favre, who was a target for Dortmund last summer, appears
    to once again be top of their list.
    Bayer Leverkusen are in better shape, although their sobering 6-2 hammering by Bayern in the DFB Cup on Tuesday was a reminder of how far they still have to go to mix it with the best in Germany. Coach Heiko Herrlich has overcome a rocky start to put his team on course for the top four, and last weekend’s 4-1 win over Frankfurt laid down a marker.
    Bayer recently played some stunning football in a 4-1 win at RB Leipzig, and it’s that performance which makes me think they can take advantage of a wounded Dortmund. BVB have won just three of their last ten games, and without Batshuayi, they lack a focal point for what is already a pretty disjointed and chaotic
    attack.


    Super Lig
    11:30 Karabukspor vs Bursaspor
    11:30 Genclerbirligi vs Osmanlispor FK
    14:00 Trabzonspor vs Sivasspor
    17:00 Alanyaspor vs Galatasaray
    Sunday
    14:00 Akhisarspor vs Goztepe
    14:00 Konyaspor vs Kasimpasa
    17:00 Besiktas vs Yeni Malatyaspor


    Premiership
    12:30 Hibernian vs Celtic
    15:00 Partick Thistle vs Hamilton Academical
    15:00 Dundee FC vs St.Johnstone
    15:00 Kilmarnock vs Aberdeen
    15:00 Ross County vs Motherwell
    Sunday
    12:30 Rangers vs Hearts


    Liga NOS
    16:00 Pacos de Ferreira vs Belenenses
    18:15 Feirense vs Vitoria de Guimaraes
    20:30 Estoril vs Benfica
    Sunday
    16:00 Tondela vs Aves
    16:00 Chaves vs Portimonense
    18:00 Moreirense vs Rio Ave
    20:15 Sporting CP vs Boavista


    Premier League
    14:30 Rubin Kazan vs FC Rostov
    17:00 Anzhi Makhachkala vs Ural
    Sunday
    09:00 SKA-Khabarovsk vs Dinamo Moscow
    12:00 Arsenal Tula vs Zenit St. Petersburg
    14:30 Tosno vs Amkar
    14:30 CSKA Moscow vs FC Krasnodar
    17:00 Lokomotiv Moscow vs FC Ufa

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    Express FC Unveils New Sponsorship Deal..

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    Express FC team

    Express FC yesterday unveiled a partnership with betting company, Melbet at Wakulukuku stadium.

    This was after their previous sponsors betway refused to renew their partship with the club.

    The details of what is in the sponsorship package are not known but according to Melbet country director, Andrew Kamwesigye, the betting company is going to support Express in everything they need to compete favourably in all tournaments from the Super League to continental competitions.

    Addressing journalist at Wakulukuku, Express Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Isaac Mwesigwa said, “Melbet will help us in our journey to defend the CECAFA club Championship, branding the stadium and providing players’ kits for both home and away games.”

    The deal is for one year and will be renewable.

    Melbet was the official shirt sponsor for Kyetume FC last season.

     

    By Juma Ali

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    NEWS

    SHOCKING: NCS Officials Forced To Vomit She Cranes Money After Girls Protest Being Given Shs.50,000 Upon Returning From Birmingham Instead Of Shs.7 Million…

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    She Cranes in Birmigham

    It was a tug of war as the netball national team (She Cranes) persuaded officials from the National Council of Sports [NCS] to give them their money.

    The drama started when the first batch of Ugandan Athletes who competed in the just concluded Common Wealth games in Birmigham, England returned today.

    Kayiira Jackson, the netball media officer told theGrapevine that the netball federation hired a minibus to pick the players from Entebbe airport.

    Kayiira divulged that upon reaching the airport, they found a parliamentary mini bus already picking some players and because it was not enough to take all of them, including the cyclists, the remaining athletes had to occupy their mini bus.

    TEARS AT NCS

    Upon reaching the premises of National Council of Sports in Lugogo, where the players hoped to get their seven million shilling (Shs.7,000,000)  allowances, which was promised to them by NCS as soon as the tournament ended, they were given the bad news that their allowances were not ready.

    Each player was quickly given fifty thousand shillings (Shs.50,000) as transport by the gate man at the premises to return home.

    According to Kayiira, no NCS officials was around by the time the team arrived at the premises. Instead, the official decided to run into hiding and gave the gateman money the Shs.50,000 for each player as transport.

    TheGrapevine has learnt that two players from netball, Juan Nampungu and Jesca Achan received their seven million shilling while in Birmingham and the rest were told that their money is in Uganda, 10 players and 4 officials were not paid.

    Later today, when the officials learnt that the media was following up on the matter, they started quietly paying some players.

    Sandra Nabirige, who plays as a goal defender (netball), told theGrapevine that she received six million shilling (instead of seven) on her mobile money account at 1:46pm.

    Irene Eyaru, who plays as a goal attack (netball) also assured theGrapevine that she received the six million shilling on her mobile money at 1:46pm.

    Sources in NCS have intimated to theGrapevine that officials decided to vomit part of the money after increasing pressure from the players, that is why they had to pay them via mobile money.

    According to inside information, each player who went to Birmingham for the commonwealth games was supposed to receive their money through equity bank.

    When Grapevine called the assistant general secretary NCS, he said that he cannot comment on the matter.

    Uganda netball team beat South Africa 54-48 to end their campaign in a historic 5th place – one better than their 6th-place finish in 2018 in Australia.

    The final position meant that Uganda ended the Games as the highest-ranked African nation, with South Africa taking 6th place and Malawi 7th.

    Overall, Team Uganda bagged a total of five medals in Birmigham and they included three gold medals.

    Notably, Teddy Nakimuli became the first Ugandan female boxer to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games.

     

    By Juma Ali

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    I’m Going To Win Commonwealth Medal For My Mum Who Was Knocked By Speeding Boda Boda – Bombers Captain Vows…

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    Bombers captain Joshua Tukamuhebwa in action

    Bombers captain Joshua Tukamuhebwa has told theGrapevine that he is determined to win a medal at this year’s commonwealth games in Birmingham, England for his late mother.

    Tukamuhebwa’s mother, Enid Bindishanga died after she was knocked by a speeding motor bike along Jinja Road.

    Enid had gone at the meat parker along Port Bell Road to buy meat for the family.

    She was rushed to hospital where she was later pronounced dead.

    “I am going to do everything possible to win a medal in this competition for my mum,” the Naguru based boxer said.

    Tukamuhebwa narrated that after his mother’s death, life became meaningless because she meant a lot to him and his siblings, “that’s why I want to win a medal in her memory.”

    I AM THE FATHER NOW

    Tukamuhebwa  also disclosed that after his mum’s death, he is now the bread winner at home and has to act like a parent to his young siblings and also look for their school fees.

    I WILL USE THE MONEY I GET TO HELP MY SIBLINGS

    He added that he is going to use the money government will give him as his facilitation, funds from Uganda Boxing Federation (UBF) president Moses Muhangi and President Museveni’s pledge if he wins a medal, to cater for his siblings.

    This will be Tukamuhebwa’s second international competition after the all Africa games in 2019 in Morocco, where he was defeated in the first encounter.

    The commonwealth games are scheduled to take place between 28th July to 8th August 2022.

    Uganda will be represented in several sports disciplines which include; boxing, athletics, swimming, squash, table tennis, badminton, rugby 7’s and netball.

    theGrapevine wishes our men and women the best in Birmingham.

     

    By Juma Ali

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