Manchester City’s incredible start to the season continued at the weekend as they beat Leicester 2-0 at the King Power Stadium, although things could have been very different had Vincent Kompany received the first half red card he deserved.
Nevertheless, they won that game to continue their unbeaten streak. Their last competitive defeat was back in April, and this season they have failed to win in just two of their 18 competitive games. This has seen them qualify for the Champions League knockout rounds with ease, with their four wins from four putting them three points ahead of Shakhtar Donetsk and nine above Napoli.
Feyenoord, on the other hand, has no hope of qualifying for the next stage. They are rock bottom with four defeats from their four group games, the first of which was a 4-0 thrashing at home to Manchester City. They will not be looking forward to their trip to the Etihad Stadium
Manchester City has seen both teams find the net in 50% of their Champions League games this season, whilst Feyenoord have seen both teams score in 75% of their outings.
Prediction: City Wins & Over 1.5
APOEL vs Real Madrid
To say APOEL drew the short straw in the Champions League this season would be a bit of an understatement. Already outsiders for any chance of qualification, they were pretty much ruled out when they were drawn alongside Real Madrid, Tottenham, and Borussia Dortmund.
Both of APOEL’s points have come from their matches against Dortmund, drawing both matches 1-1 to end Dortmund’s hopes of qualification. The Cypriots other two matches have been 3-0 defeats to Real Madrid and Spurs though, so their chances aren’t looking particularly good on Tuesday.
Real Madrid, who became the first team in the Champion League era to retain the trophy last season, have also been shocked this season. They dropped two points at home to Spurs in October, and they followed that with an unexpected 3-1 defeat at Wembley to leave them trailing the Premier League outfit. The margin between them is three points, so Real Madrid definitely has the incentive to perform here.
Real Madrid has won all three of their previous meetings with APOEL, scoring 11 goals and keeping a clean sheet twice.
APOEL have failed to score in 50% of their Champions League group games this season, whilst Real Madrid has kept a clean sheet in 67% of their last six competitive outings.
Prediction: Madrid Wins & Over 1.5
Sevilla vs Liverpool
It’s currently Liverpool holding the advantage, sitting top of the group but facing this tough away day in Spain, followed by a hosting of fellow contenders Spartak Moscow. They are only a point ahead of Sevilla in 2nd and three points above Spartak Moscow.
Sevilla has two winnable games to end the group stages with, but they know that failure to win here would probably see them drop into 3rd, as Spartak Moscow are expected to comfortably beat Maribor on Tuesday.
Sevilla has won one and drawn one of their two meetings with Liverpool, the first of which was a Europa League final win in 2016 and the 2-2 draw coming at Anfield earlier this season.
67% of Sevilla’s competitive home games this season have seen at least three goals, with 78% of them ending in victory. Liverpool have seen three or more goals in 70% of their away matches.
Prediction: Away Wins Either Half
Napoli vs Shakhtar Donetsk
Napoli were touted as comfortable favourites for 2nd place in this Champions League group before the group stage began, but they have undoubtedly underperformed so far and have been unfortunate enough to be drawn alongside the more than competent Shakhtar Donetsk and the completely dominant Manchester City.
A win is a big ask though. Napoli have lost three of their four Champions League games so far, including their 2-1 loss in Ukraine earlier this season and their recent back to back losses against Manchester City.
Shakhtar Donetsk have also been involved in their fair share of high scoring games. They lost 2-0 at Manchester City, but apart from that they have scored in every other Champions League games but are yet to keep a clean sheet. This has resulted in three or more goals being scored in all but one of their games.
Shakhtar Donetsk’s 2-1 win in Ukraine was their first ever meeting with Napoli.
An Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams to Score bet has landed in 100% of Napoli’s Champions League games this season and 75% of Shakhtar Donetsk’s.
Prediction: 12 & Over 2.5
Borussia Dortmund vs Tottenham
Borussia Dortmund’s tumultuous season is showing no signs of turning around yet, and this weekend things got even worse. Star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was suspended for a breach of discipline within the club, and without the Gabon forward leading the line, Dortmund sank to a 2-1 defeat in Stuttgart.
Tottenham, meanwhile, are enjoying a fantastic campaign in the Champions League after their failed attempt in the group stages last season. They come into the penultimate round of group games top of the pile, three points above Real Madrid after taking four points off them over two games.
Borussia Dortmund have won two and lost one of their three meetings with Tottenham, with the most recent clash being a 3-1 win over Spurs at Wembley in September.
And have seen at least three goals in 75% of their home games this season and have lost 75% of their last four. Tottenham have won 63% of their away days too
Prediction: 12 & Over 1.5
Monaco vs RB Leipzig
Monaco’s fantastically entertaining deep run in the Champions League last season won them a lot of hearts, but alongside their unexpected Ligue 1 triumph, it was always going to turn the heads of Europe’s elite.
Monaco sits rock bottom of the group with two draws and two defeats to their name, whilst Besiktas are four points clear at the top of the table. RB Leipzig sits 3rd but are only two points off Porto in 2nd, so there is everything to play for both sides here.
RB Leipzig’s meteoric rise in the ranks of German football was one of the stories of the season last year, and they are still in with a great chance of making it further in their debut Champions League campaign. They beat Porto 3-2 at home in their only win so far, and that sort of scoreline illustrates their fantastic entertainment value nicely. All but one of their Champions League games have seen both teams hit the back of the net, and Monaco holds the same record.
September’s 1-1 draw in Germany was the first-ever meeting between these sides.
Monaco has won 0% of their Champions League games this season, seeing both teams score in 75% of them. RB Leipzig has also seen both teams score in 75% of their Champions League games.
Prediction: Leipzig Wins & Over 1.5
Besiktas vs FC Porto
Coming into the final two rounds of games Besiktas sit comfortably at the top of the group, and a win on Tuesday would guarantee them the top spot. They are four points ahead of 2nd placed Porto, with RB Leipzig lagging behind in 3rd and group favorites Monaco sitting on a tally of just two points.
One of those points came against Besiktas at the start of November, but prior to that, the Turkish champions beat the Ligue 1 winners 2-1 in France and have also managed victories away to Porto and at home to RB Leipzig.
Porto are definitely looking in a good position to qualify for the knockout stages, but they are by no means safe. They have this incredibly tough fixture first and then end the group stage at home to Monaco, who, despite their poor performance so far, has all the talent to punish any team in the world.
Porto has won two, drawn three, and lost one of their six previous meetings with Besiktas, with each of the last three seeing both teams find the net.
Besiktas have scored an average of two goals per game in the Champions League this season, but have only kept a clean sheet in 25% of their matches. Porto has scored an average of 2.25 goals per game but have conceded 1.75 goals on average.
Prediction: Porto Wins Either Half
Super League: Respect & Dialogue Needed To Restore Normality
The FIFA President emphasized his full support to the European sports model, a successful model of openness and inclusivity, promotion and relegation, disapproving the concept of Super League
President Gianni Infantino has called for respect and dialogue as he expressed FIFA’s strong disapproval of the proposed European Superleague project, and has requested that the concerned parties consider their position in line with respecting the institutions that exist to protect the interest of national, European, and global football.
“FIFA is an organization which is built on values, the true values of sport,” said the FIFA President in his address to the 45th Ordinary UEFA Congress in Montreux, Switzerland.
“It is an organization that is built on our statutes, the statutes that define the institutional framework, with the pyramid, with FIFA, the confederations, the associations, the leagues, the clubs, the players. And at FIFA, we can only strongly disapprove of the creation of a super league which is a closed shop, which is a breakaway from the current institutions, from the leagues, from the associations, from UEFA, and from FIFA, which is outside of the system. There is no doubt whatsoever of FIFA’s disapproval for this.”
The FIFA President emphasized his full support to the European sports model, a successful model of openness and inclusivity, promotion and relegation, and a model that he promoted in his 16 years at UEFA:
“FIFA is here, and I am here today as FIFA President, to bring full support to European football, to UEFA, and the 55 member associations of UEFA and of FIFA, to the leagues, clubs, players, and to fans. To all the fans, all over Europe, and actually all over the world as well.”
“We can see that there is a lot to throw away for the short-term financial gain of some,” the FIFA President added. “People need to think very carefully, they need to reflect, and they need to assume responsibility. They need to think not only of their shareholders, but they need to think about all the people, of all the fans, of all those who have contributed to making European football what it is today. It goes back not only decades, it goes back more than one hundred years. People – with love, with passion, with commitment – have created all this. And we need to protect this. It is our task.”
“FIFA is a democratic organization, an organization that is open,” the FIFA President concluded. “Everyone can bring ideas and proposals, but always with respect for the institutions, leagues, associations, UEFA, and FIFA.
With respect for the history and with the respect for the passion of so many people around the world. I understand as well that on these particular days, emotions are very high, but we need to always keep the line. Football is hope, and it is our responsibility to make hope a reality. So we hope that everything will go back to normal and that everything will be settled, but always with acting responsibly, with respect, with solidarity, and always in the interest of national, European, and global football.”
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big Elsewhere
The English Premier League has welcomed some of the best players in the history of football. Players from different continents have made a huge impact on the league with impressive performances. There are others who failed to impress and can be termed as flops.
The League is quite unique from other European leagues. It is more competitive, fierce, physically challenging in nature. Needless to say, a player who isn’t mentally and physically geared up for this will stumble under the pressure.
Established stars can fall by the wayside with their former successes and triumphs becoming nothing more than a footnote in the EPL. Impressively, some of these players put in impressive performances when they moved to other leagues.
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big In Other Leagues
Following the impending sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, Tottenham bought several players, one of the players they bought was Paulinho.
Paulinho was signed from Corinthians in Brazil where he helped them win the Copa Libertadores, Brasileirao, and the FIFA Club World Cup.
They defeated Chelsea in the latter to lift the trophy. Importantly, he had just won the FIFA Confederations Cup with Brazil and was voted as the third-best player at the tournament.
He joined Tottenham as the club’s record signing in 2013, so a lot was expected of him. However, his performance was not as impressive as the club had envisaged. He was later sold to Guangzhou Evergrande in China at a loss.
The Brazilian’s transfer to the Chinese league resulted in a change of fortunes, as helped the club claim the Chinese league and the AFC Champions League title in his first season.
In the second, he was voted into the Chinese League team of the year in recognition of his performance. Also, he won the league, FA Cup, and Super Cup.
Although critics downplayed his performance, citing the standard of the Chinese league compared to the English league, Paulinho impressed in Spain too following a €40 million move to Barcelona.
Paulinho helped the club claim the league and the Copa del Rey trophy. His performance in his only season with Barcelona impressed Ronaldinho who said: “He really stood out.”
- Iago Aspas
Most Premier League fan remembers Aspas only as a Liverpool flop with the number 9 jersey. Aspas moved from boyhood club Celta Vigo to Liverpool for a deal estimated to be around £7.7 m, with Liverpool hoping to have unearthed a gem. However, that gem turns dregs, failing to score in any of his 14 league appearances.
After just one season, Liverpool decided that they have seen enough so they sent him on a season-long loan to Sevilla with an obligation to buy. In his season-long loan at the club, he was the joint top scorer in the Copa del Rey alongside Neymar with 7 goals and won the UEFA Europa League.
At the end of his season-long loan at Sevilla, the club signed him from Liverpool but sold him to Celta Vigo in the same transfer window. In every of his first 5 seasons at Celta Vigo, he scored in double digits.
In fact, in three of the 5 seasons, he won the Zarra Trophy awarded to the Spanish player with the most league goals in a season. As of December 2020, Aspas had won La Liga player of the month four times.
- Diego Forlan
Perhaps, the most notable and interesting English Premier League flop who became a star in another League. He was not just impressive in another league; he was extraordinary with his National team Uruguay.
Sir Alex Ferguson signed Forlan in 2001 following the attacker’s impressive form at Independiente in Argentina. In his first season in England, Forlan made 18 appearances but failed to score a single goal. The two seasons after were not impressive either, hence his transfer to Villarreal.
Impressively, Forlan scored 25 league goals in his first season with Villarreal and won the league’s top scorers award (2004/05). Also, he was awarded the European Golden Shoe award alongside Thierry Henry the same year. He left the club two seasons later for Atletico with 59 goals scored in 128 matches.
In his second season with Atletico Madrid (2008/09), Forlan beat Samuel Eto’o to the Spanish league’s top scorer’s award. He scored 32 league goals in 33 league appearances that season which earned him the Pichichi trophy. Again, he won the European Golden Shoe but this time it was not shared with anyone.
The next season (2009/10), Forlan played a key role as Atletico won the Europa League. He scored six times in the tournament, including two in the 2-1 win over Fulham in the final. He was voted as the man of the match in the final.
With his national team, he was just as impressive; he scored the most goals at the 2010 FIFA World Cup alongside Thomas Muller, Wesley Sneijder, and David Villa.
Furthermore, he was voted into the FIFA World Cup dream team and won the Golden Ball and goal of the tournament title. By the time he retired, he was Uruguay’s highest goal scorer in history, a record which has since been broken by Luis Suarez.
Forlan eventually became so good that some Football fans think he is the caliber of player that could have won the Ballon d’Or.
There are several reasons why players struggle when they change clubs, especially to other countries. Culture, language, teammates, family are some factors that can affect their performances.
These 3 cases show that a player may fail to perform in one league but go on to become a star in another league.