Category Archives: Champions League

Will Maurizio Sarri join Chelsea next season?

It’s now extremely simplistic for Maurizio Sarri and Chelsea. Claiming victories against Leicester and Watford over the last two weekend of the English Premier League will ensure a group stage entry into the Champions League next season.

Chelsea’s Current Season

Let’s forget about the potential of a Europa League final that will occur in Baku as a safety net – 6 points from two matches and the Blues will finally be over the line, allowing them to return to where Roman Abramovich wants them to be, among the most prestigious clubs situated in Europe.

This will necessarily mean that the first season where Sarri was in charge was a successful one. Of course, we mean relative success, because Chelsea hasn’t been anywhere when it comes to challenging clubs for a title. However, progress is the same when it comes to a coach that has also witnessed his team miss out on the Carabao Cup after a penalty shoot-out against Manchester City. Even if the Blues manage to finish in the top 4 and claim victory in the Europa League, it might still not be enough for Maurizio Sarri to keep his job as head coach.

The Doubts Over Maurizio Sarri

Marina Granovskaia, the person that runs the football club daily, remains the most prominent advocate for Sarri, and that is considered a massive tick in the coach’s favour. However, one the dust settles on the current season for Chelsea, the doubts and questions surrounding Sarri will remain, and Marina Granovskaia will be required to convince Abramovich that Sarri is the coach to lead the club during the 2019/20 season.

With Chelsea back in the Champions League next season, it will help their rebuilding program. However, the current season has produced more questions than answers regarding their development and progress under Maurizio Sarri. If Chelsea managed to end up in the top 4 positions of the Premier League, it could be argued that the result is the failings of Manchester United and Arsenal instead of the successful methods by Sarri.

This might be harsh, but the Blues have managed to open a two-point lead between themselves and Arsenal that is currently in fifth place despite claiming 2 points from a potential 9 points in the last three games of the Premier League.

Chelsea managed to make ten goals without being able to score in consecutive away matches against Manchester City and Bournemouth earlier this season. It was only the 1-1 draw against Manchester United on Sunday which spared the Blues from becoming the first Blues side to lose all away matches against the big six rivals during a season since the club was bought in 2003 by Abramovich.

Chelsea is also on the brink of losing their most valued player, Eden Hazard. He is currently playing the last year of his contract, and when he transfers to another club, Chelsea will need all the help it can get to stay an elite football team.

Why is Philippe Coutinho Struggling at Barcelona?

There is a joke among the locals of Castelldefels, a tiny town situated between the mountains and sea outside of Barcelona, that the home of Philippe Coutinho is jinxed. Cesc Fabregas managed to buy it months before he was transferred to Chelsea and Thomas Vermaelen, who used to stay there, endured lengthy curses on the sidelines due to injuries. Then, Andre Gomes decided to move there after he was transferred from Valencia to Barcelona but never managed to find his feet at the club.

Philippe Coutinho

Philippe Coutinho was mostly seen as the €160 million man who has destined to finally life the curse. His former Liverpool teammate, Luis Suarez, assisted him in finding a house and it was supposed to mark the start of a brand-new attacking trident. Not only would Coutinho be alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez on the pitch, but he would also be their neighbours.

Fifteen months have come and gone since Philippe Coutinho joined Barcelona with a record-signing deal. However, it looks like the curse is still apparent with the Barcelona forward to this day. The Brazilian, who was transferred to Barcelona to replace Neymar over the short-term and to replace Andres Iniesta over the long-term, is still unable to meet the expectations that come with his jaw-dropping price tag.

Coutinho had an incredible start at Barcelona where he managed to score ten goals in only 22 matches during the 2017/18 season. However, things have deteriorated since then, and he is not playing as he should during the 2018/19 season at Camp Nou. In the current campaign, he has only scored a total of 9 goals in more than 40 different appearances, and several sources suggest that Barcelona will be open to selling the Brazilian if they can receive a bid that is more than €100 million during the summer.

“It’s quite remarkable that a Brazilian soccer player like Coutinho is struggling to find his feet at a club like Barcelona. Especially when you consider that they have more than 300 days of sunshine every year. He was superb when he played at Liverpool who has 300 days of rain every year,” a source that is close to the player informed us recently.

A Football Star Without a Proper Position

The biggest issue for Coutinho since he arrived at Barcelona in January 2018 was a simplistic one: Where exactly should he play?

When you look at the versatility of Coutinho, he managed to play at the tip of the three midfielders for Liverpool. However, he was often found on the left. When you look at his position in the Brazilian national team, he either played on the right, accommodating Neymar, or played in the centre. Ernesto Valverde, the head coach for Barcelona, allowed Coutinho to play in several positions. However, none of them genuinely fit his skills and abilities as a footballer at Barcelona. This is the biggest problem for him at the moment, and that needs to change before he gets back to playing like a pro.

Big clubs set for a nervy time in the Champions League

Some of Europe’s biggest clubs are in for a nervy night as they bid to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Manchester City are the 5/2 favourites to win the tournament in the Champions League betting odds and predictions from most pundits say they will progress to the last eight.

Raheem Sterling’s last-minute goal gave City the advantage with a stunning 3-2 comeback win in the reverse fixture and they should comfortably make it through.

Juventus face a huge task as they try and overturn a two-goal deficit against Atletico Madrid at the Allianz Stadium in Turin.

Late goals from Jose Maria Gimenez and Diego Godin secured a 2-0 victory for Atletico in the first leg and Juve will have their work cut out to reach the last eight.

The result saw Atletico’s Champions League odds slashed to 9/1 and they are sure to be cut further if they can see off the current Serie A leaders.

Barcelona will fancy their chances of progressing when they go head-to-head with Lyon at the Nou Camp.

The two sides drew 0-0 in the first fixture, but Barca should prove far too strong back on home soil. The Spanish side are unbeaten in their last 10 matches in all competitions and look good value at 9/2 to win the Champions League.

The most intriguing tie of the round is the heavyweight clash between Bayern Munich and Liverpool at the Allianz Arena.

The two sides drew 0-0 at Anfield and Bayern’s recent home record against English clubs makes them favourites to reach the last eight.

The Bundesliga side have won their last four matches at home to English clubs, while Liverpool have suffered four successive away Champions League defeats.

Liverpool were beaten by Real Madrid in last year’s final, while Bayern have lost in the semi-finals in four of the last five campaigns, including last season’s defeat by Madrid.

The Reds have pulled off remarkable results in this competition before, but Bayern look great value at 10/11 to progress to the next stage.