Juventus and Barcelona met in the Champions League last season as they faced off in the higher stakes of the quarterfinals in April. It was the rock-solid Juventus who came out on top in that fixture, beating them 3-0 on aggregate and eventually making it to the final before being beaten by Real Madrid. However, Barcelona managed to get some measure of revenge in the reverse fixture this season.
The Catalan giants beat them 3-0 at the Camp Nou, and at the moment it’s that victory that is the difference between the sides. Juventus sit 2nd in the group and are three points behind top of the group Barcelona, so this is a crucial matchup.
Juventus aren’t coming into it in the best of form though. Their last Champions League outing saw them draw away to Sporting Lisbon and on Saturday they lost in Sampdoria, conceding three goals as talisman Gianluigi Buffon was rested.
Barcelona has won three, drawn two, and lost two of their seven previous meetings with Juventus.
Juventus have scored 100% of their competitive home games this season and haven’t failed to score at home since September 2016. Barcelona has scored in 88% of their trips away this season.
Prediction: Over 8.5 Corners
Qarabag vs Chelsea
Qarabag were understandably made massive favorites for the bottom spot in this Champions League group, thanks to being drawn alongside the likes of Roma, Atletico Madrid, and Chelsea. Indeed, they are bottom at the moment, but with just two games remaining, they do still have a slight chance of making it to the Europa League knockout rounds, despite their minnow status.
Qarabag’s other two games haven’t gone quite so well, with a 6-0 hammering at Chelsea being followed by a much more respectable 2-1 loss at home to Roma. This vastly improved defense on home soil could be key for them in this game, and we think it’s highly unlikely that we’ll see another landslide victory for Antonio Conte’s men.
Chelsea finds themselves fairly comfortable in 2nd place in the group, but they will be aiming for the top spot now. They are just a point behind Roma and four ahead of Atletico Madrid, so a win on Wednesday could take them top of the pile.
September’s 6-0 win for Chelsea was the first-ever meeting between these sides.
Chelsea has won just 25% of their away games this season by more than a single goal margin, whilst Qarabag hasn’t lost by two or more goals since 2013.
Prediction: Chelsea Wins & Over 1,5
CSKA vs Benfica
The hosts currently sit 3rd in the group, but their level on points with 2nd placed Basel and know that their Swiss counterparts are facing off with Manchester United on Wednesday. Of course, CSKA Moscow ends their group campaign at Old Trafford, so a win here is almost a necessity if they want to qualify for the knockout rounds.
Benfica, who were touted as second favorites in this group, have had a shocking campaign. They have lost all four of their group matches and find themselves rock bottom of the group. They have only managed one goal in this period and have shipped ten at the other end.
That one goal did come in the reverse fixture against CSKA Moscow, but back in Russia, they will probably find it tough to get on the scoresheet, given that they have failed to score in each of their last three Champions League games.
CSKA Moscow have won two and drawn one of their three previous meetings with Benfica, with the most recent being a 2-1 win in Portugal earlier in this campaign.
The host have averaged just 1.25 goals per game in the group stages so far, whilst Benfica have managed a meager 0.25 goals per game on average.
Prediction: Anybody Wins
Sporting Lisbon vs Olympiakos
Sporting Lisbon were always going to be up against it in the quest for qualification from this Champions League group, but despite being drawn alongside Barcelona and Juventus the Portuguese outfit still have a very real chance of making it to the knockout stages.
Admittedly they are still underdogs, sitting three points adrift of 2nd placed Juventus going into the penultimate round of games. If Juventus lose to Barcelona on Wednesday and Sporting win they would leapfrog the Turin outfit, but would then need to match their result in their final game away to Barcelona.
Olympiakos know that they need to win this to stand any chance of taking 3rd spot and qualifying for the Europa League knockout stages. They are currently three points adrift of Sporting Lisbon and with a four-goal difference deficit. With both sides expected to lose their final group games it makes this an absolutely crucial game, and as such we’re expecting Olympiakos to go on the offensive.
Sporting Lisbon has won both of their previous meetings with Olympiakos.
Sporting Lisbon has scored 75% of their Champions League group games this season, whilst Olympiakos have scored in 80% of their competitive trips away.
Prediction: Sporting Wins
Anderlecht vs Bayern Munich
Anderlecht were always going to find it difficult in this Champions League group stage thanks to the misfortune of drawing both PSG and Bayern Munich, but they will have been hoping for a slightly better showing than they have managed so far.
Four games into the group stage they sit rock bottom of the table having lost every one of their matches, and it’s going to require a bit of a miracle for them if they want to take 3rd position and the Europa League progression it carries with it.
Bayern Munich has had some difficult spells this season, most of all their 3-0 loss at PSG in the Champions League in September. However, they have recovered recently, and a comfortable win over Augsburg on Saturday made it seven wins and one draw from their last eight competitive outings.
A point will be enough to guarantee them qualification on Wednesday, but the Bundesliga giants will be hoping they can snatch the top spot.
Bayern Munich has won three, drawn one, and lost one of their five meetings with Anderlecht.
Bayern Munich has conceded in 86% of their last seven away games in all competitions, including 100% of their Champions League away days.
Prediction: Bayern Wins & Over 1.5
PSG vs Celtic
The French giants have won all four of their group matches so far, including their incredibly impressive dismantlement of Bayern Munich at the Parc des Princes. They have scored a huge 17 goals in these four games, and equally impressive is the fact they are yet to concede.
PSG’s overall form is a similar story. They remain unbeaten this season, with only a couple of draws marring their record. Their 4-1 thrashing of Nantes on Saturday makes it four wins on the bounce, a period in which they have scored 17 goals and conceded just once.
Celtic have every right to bemoan their awful luck in these Champions League group stages. Last season they were drawn alongside Barcelona, Manchester City, and Borussia Monchengladbach, and once again this year they are playing against European heavyweights.
Fortunately for them, they have actually managed to get some points on the board. They beat Anderlecht 3-0 away from home and sit three points ahead of them, and with them ending the group stages by hosting the Belgians, they will feel confident of making it through to the Europa League knockouts.
September’s 5-0 thrashing by PSG was the first time these sides have met.
PSG have won to nil in 100% of their Champions League matches this season, whilst Celtic have failed to score in 50% of their group games.
Prediction: Over 2.5
Atletico vs Roma
Atletico Madrid’s season is not going well at all right now. They picked up a point at home to arch-rivals Real Madrid on Saturday, but whilst that result on its own is very respectable, their overall form is looking a bit bleak.
They have won just two of their last ten matches in all competitions, drawing a huge seven times and finding themselves on the verge of elimination from the Champions League. Considering they have reached the final twice in the last four years this is a real shock, but nobody can argue that it is undeserved.
Roma, meanwhile, sit atop the group coming into the penultimate round of games, a standing that is largely thanks to their fantastic performances against Chelsea. They performed very well at Stamford Bridge to get a 3-3 draw, and they followed that with an even better showing at home as they beat The Blues 3-0. They only have a one-point advantage though, so they could do with getting a win here too.
September’s goalless draw between these sides was their first meeting.
Roma has scored at least two goals in 75% of their Champions League group games this season and has found the net in 100% of their competitive away days this season. Atletico Madrid has scored 86% of their home games this season but has conceded in 63%.
Prediction: Away Score
Basel vs Man Utd
Basel were seen as outsiders in this Champions League group before the campaign started, but with just two games remaining they find themselves in an excellent position in their quest for qualification to the knockout stages.
They are currently 2nd in the group, admittedly some six points adrift of leaders Manchester United but holding a promising goal difference advantage over 3rd placed CSKA Moscow. They are six points clear of the dreadful Benfica too, so they are close to guaranteeing at least Europa League football in the new year.
Manchester United have suffered a few setbacks over the last month or so, but Saturday’s 4-1 win over Newcastle saw the return of Paul Pogba from injury, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic also returning for the first time since his cruciate ligament rupture last season. Those two players coming back will be a huge boost to Jose Mourinho’s side, and they only need a point on Wednesday to guarantee the top spot.
We’re expecting the visitors to be on song going forward on Wednesday. They have scored at least two goals in three of their four group games so far and in 12 of their 18 competitive games this season. Romelu Lukaku ended his mini goalscoring drought on Saturday too, and given that he has netted 12 goals in 17 games for his new club, he looks a great choice for our anytime goalscorer predictions.
Manchester United have won two, drawn two, and lost one of their five previous meetings with Basel, with all but one of these games seeing at least three goals scored.
United have scored at least two goals in 75% of their Champions League group games this season and in 67% of their competitive matches this term.
Prediction: Man Utd Wins
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.