Super Eagles star refused entry to Poland for Europa League match, manager rues problem

September 30th, 2021 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Kelechi Iheanacho has been forced to fly back to England after being refused entry to Poland for Leicester’s clash with Legia Warsaw.

Border guards spotted an error in the Nigeria striker’s documentation when the Foxes’ chartered flight arrived at Warsaw’s Chopin Airport on Wednesday afternoon.

Shocked Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers admits losing Iheanacho is a big blow, especially as midfielder Wilfred Ndidi is out suspended and defender Jonny Evans is too unwell to play.

Airport officials noticed a difference between Iheanacho’s official documentation and the visa he needed, as a Nigerian, to enter an EU country.

While the rest of his team-mates were allowed through, Iheanacho had to stay behind at the airport with a Foxes’ official as the club tried to get him back to England.

Rodgers said: “We’ve had an issue with Kelechi so his documentation coming into the country wouldn’t suffice.

“Unfortunately he’s not available to play, which is a shame because he would have played in the game.

“The paperwork didn’t allow him to enter the country, which is unfortunate. We’ll have to look at that when we get back.”

Leicester dropped two points following their 2-2 draw with fellow Europa League favourites Napoli in their opening Group C game – now they must face group leaders Legia without several key players.

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Federico Chiesa reveals how Juventus manager Allegri changed tactics to beat Chelsea

September 30th, 2021 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Federico Chiesa has revealed how the Juventus manager Max Allegri tinkered with the team for his team to coast home to 1-0 Champions League victory over Chelsea.

It was a stunning start to the second half, scoring within 11 seconds of the restart and without Chelsea getting a single touch, Federico Bernardeschi threading through for Chiesa to blast into the roof of the net.

Although the reigning Champions League holders dominated possession, they failed to create many genuine chances, firing off target with Romelu Lukaku and Kai Havertz.

On the other hand, Juve really should’ve had a second with Bernardeschi failing to make the most of a Juan Cuadrado volleyed assist.

“It was a hard-fought performance, because Chelsea pinned us back and did really well in possession, but this evening we showed what the Juve spirit is all about, the spirit that the coach asks for,” Chiesa told Amazon Prime Italia.

“We started out with a system, then the coach changed so we could attack the space, where Chelsea were struggling this evening, and we did well to punish them.”

Chiesa has really made his name as a player for the big occasion, and came up trumps with the UEFA Man of the Match Award.

“It’s a huge challenge, it’s wonderful to play in this competition. Now we enjoy this victory, but then there’s another very important game coming up on Saturday.”

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Ronald Koeman says Barcelona future “not in my hands” after 3-0 beating from Benfica

September 30th, 2021 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Ronald Koeman insists his stint in the saddle as Barcelona manager is not in his hands after Benfica humbled the Catalan giants 3-0 in the Champion League on Wednesday.

It took three minutes for Barcelona to go a goal down. Benfica carved through their defence like hot butter, with Eric Garcia badly exposed.

Darwin Nunez then stepped up to deliver the crucial blow and make it 1-0.

Things got worse in the second half; Rafa Silva doubled Benfica’s advantage in the 69th minute before Nunez scored his second and Benfica’s third in the 79th.

Garcia then saw red in the 87th to compound Barcelona’s misery.

“The final result is hard to accept,” Koeman said post-match in comments carried by Marca.

“It’s not the result we saw on the pitch. Despite going behind fast, I think the team played well until it went to 2-0. We had clear opportunities to score.

“I’m not going to discuss the level of this team,” he continued.

“Everyone knows what Barcelona’s problem is today. It’s not possible to comment on a team that’s not the one of past years. For me it’s clearer than water.”

Barcelona sit sixth in La Liga and have endured a mixed start to the season. They’ve struggled to kickstart their new era having lost Lionel Messi to Paris Saint-Germain.

After this result, even the most ardent of Koeman supporters would concede that his days at the club are numbered. Things have gone too far.

He was reluctant to discuss his future. “I can only comment on my work with the team,” he said.

“I feel supported by my players and the attitude [they’ve shown me]. I don’t know about the rest. I don’t know about the club. I can’t say anything about my future because I don’t know how the club thinks in that sense. I don’t want to answer any more questions about this because it’s not in my hands. We’ll see.”

Photo Credit: FCBarcelona/Twitter

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“We suffered at the start”- Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, after 1-0 Champions League victory over Chelsea

September 30th, 2021 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Wojciech Szczesny assures Juventus ‘really enjoyed defending’ in their 1-0 Champions League victory over Chelsea, in which he barely had a save to make.

For all their possession, the reigning Champions of Europe had one shot on target, otherwise firing over with Romelu Lukaku and Kai Havertz headers.

“We suffered at the start, but didn’t really allow Chelsea any scoring opportunities, despite the fact they are one of the best teams in Europe,” Szczesny told JTV.

“This was a victory earned with spirit, with character. We really enjoyed defending, sitting deep, allowing Chelsea to keep the ball, but constantly controlling every situation that developed.”

It was this kind of digging deep and fighting for the result attitude that Max Allegri had been calling for all season.

“The spirit we saw today was not present at the start of the campaign. We made banal errors in the past, myself included.”

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Antonio Conte tells Thomas Tuchel how to bring best out of Lukaku, says Chelsea manager is not using striker properly

September 30th, 2021 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Former Inter Milan manager Antonio Conte explains why Chelsea are not getting the best out of Romelu Lukaku yet.

Lukaku was the top scorer for Inter when winning the Scudetto under Conte last term, finding the net 24 times in 36 Serie A appearances.

The coach had called him a ‘rough diamond’ when signing him originally from Manchester United, so has Lukaku now been sufficiently polished?

“A coach is good if he can improve players. I think we did great work with Romelu over two years,” Conte told Sky Sport Italia.

“He is a very specific striker. Bringing Lukaku into the box, he is dangerous. However, when he starts from midfield, he is incredibly quick. It is very difficult to find a player who is both a target man, but can also run from midfield.

“These are also characteristics I can see in Erling Haaland. I had been tracking Lukaku for a very long time and wanted him when I was at Chelsea, even when he was at West Brom.”

Conte described more of how Lukaku uses his frame and strength to set up teammates just as much as go for goal himself.

“It’s a tactical situation too, a centre-forward who goes looking for the opposition defender, backs into him and lays it off for whoever is supporting him. That is a tactical approach used in basketball as well.

“The good thing about Romelu is that he can hurt you anywhere. If you keep him far away from the penalty area, he can kill you with his pace. If you have him in the box, he has the physicality to be a target man.”

Fabio Capello is also a pundit on Sky Sport Italia and asked Conte in what areas does Lukaku still need to improve.

“I think he can still do better, above all with his technique. He is already at a very high level, but a player must keep improving until the day he retires.

“During the game, there are moments when Lukaku needs to be turned on, but other than that he is one of the toughest forwards to play against, because he can do damage in any area of the pitch. If you have a centre-forward like that, you need to use him and I don’t think Chelsea have quite figured out how to use him yet.

“Last season, they didn’t have a proper centre-forward, so they rotated positions, whereas Romelu is a real reference point in attack. If they can figure out how to use Lukaku, then Chelsea can become the team to beat in the Champions League this season.”

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Bruno Fernandes reveals how he plotted Alex Telles “unbelievable” equalizer, praises Ronaldo over his dramatic 95th minute winner for Man United

September 30th, 2021 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Bruno Fernandes has revealed the idea for Manchester United’s equaliser against Villarreal came from him after a chat with Alex Telles.

Fernandes took United’s free-kick on the byline on the hour mark, with Telles coming over to discuss the set-piece with his Portuguese teammate.

But while Telles offered to run over the ball before Fernandes put a cross in, the playmaker suggested the left-back should wait on the edge of the area instead.

Fernandes then floated over a cross to the waiting Telles who struck home a sensational volley from 18 yards. That drew United level against Villarreal, with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring an injury-time winner to ignite their European hopes.

It was Telles’ goal that got United back in the game, however, and Fernandes feels the credit should go the Brazilian.

“Alex was coming to me and he was telling me he will do the overlap over the ball and if there’s a chance pass it to me in the box,” Fernandes told MUTV.

“I said go to the edge of the box because they will drop and I will ping the ball over there and you can hit it first time or if you have time control it.

“It’s all the quality of Alex, nothing to do with me, okay the ball was good and it went straight to Alex but Alex made a really good strike and an unbelievable goal.”

Fernandes also praised the goalscoring instincts of his international teammate Ronaldo, who scored his fifth goal since returning to the club, firing in the late winner in front of the Stretford End.

“We knew it with Cristiano, in the box at any moment every ball in the box can be a goal. We start to make more crosses and risk a bit more down the wings and put the ball in the box,” said Fernandes.

“We know any moment with Cristiano in the box, they have the feeling for the goal, they feel it and they are there, Cristiano today once again and more and more in the current season, he, Edi [Cavani] and Anthony [Martial] will be really important for us because they will score many goals.”

Photo Credit: ManUtd/Twitter

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Thomas Tuchel reacts to Chelsea defeat to Juventus in Turin

September 29th, 2021 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel says his team were “slow, tired and not good enough” during their 1-0 Champions League defeat against Juventus in Turin.

Chelsea conceded a goal 10 seconds into the second half at the Allianz Stadium when a long ball from kick off was helped on by Federico Bernardeschi into the path of Federico Chiesa, who calmly finished to give Juve all three points.

The west London club had the majority of the possession throughout the 90 minutes, but struggled to break down a well-drilled Juventus defence that included the impressive duo of Leandro Bonucci and Matthijs de Ligt.

Tuchel was disappointed with the goal his team conceded and admitted that they were ‘not good enough’ to get anything from the match.

“It’s impossible in this kind of level to concede a goal like this. We know what’s coming, we got punished for it,” the German manager said via the Metro.

“We started not sharp enough, the first 10-15 minutes should’ve been much more sharp, put more dangerous balls into the box. We had two crucial ball losses where we almost gave goals away. We struggled to create our own rhythm as they were so deep.

“We were not good enough, slow, tired, mentally slow with decision making, it’s a strange one to analyse.”

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Chelsea Player Ratings vs Juventus: Thiago Silva, Hudson-Odoi, others stand out as Alonso not up to standard

September 29th, 2021 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Edouard Mendy

Not much he could with Federico Chiesa’s fine finish ten seconds into the second half. Didn’t have a lot of saves to make but still had to pick the ball out of his net. 7

Cesar Azpilicueta

Played some very clever passes to his teammates but they didn’t capitalise on them. Tuchel wanted more speed to the Blues attacks and hooked his captain after the hour for Hudson-Odoi. 7

Andreas Christensen

Crunching tackle on Betancur inside 45 seconds of the game got him off to a flier but it went downhill as Juve’s front two rattled him. Improved after half time but Chiesa got the better of him overall. 6

Thiago Silva

Looked the most comfortable of the Blues back three. Good on the ball and won his individual duels. 7

Antonio Rudiger

Gave away a couple of cheap fouls in the first half in silly areas. Beaten to the punch by Chiesa for Juve’s opener. Erratic. 6

Marcos Alonso

Picked up an absolutely needless yellow card on 19 minutes by pushing Juan Cuadrado with minimal contact. Turned up at right wing back at one point for some reason. Poor and was hooked at half time. 5


Played his teammates into trouble with a wretched pass in the seventh minute that Juve didn’t punish. Very off the pace, Juventus pressed him and he didn’t like it. Subbed just before the hour mark. 6

Mateo Kovacic

Played two hospital passes in the first 20 minutes that led to chances for Juve. All over the place for the majority of the game, very far from his best. 6

Hakim Ziyech

Totted up a few fouls early on and wasn’t really involved too much, overhit passes when he did and struggled in the first half. Given another chance from the start by Tuchel but another one he didn’t take. 6

Kai Havertz

Very quiet in the opening 45 as he didn’t really seem to know where he was playing. Much the same after the break, floated around without having much of an impact at all. Missed a decent chance with the last play of the game as well. 6

Romelu Lukaku

Chelsea didn’t seem to want to play to his other strengths in the first half rather than just booting the ball up to him. Had one header go wide in the second half. Fired over a great chance to make it 1-1 with eight minutes to go. 7


Ben Chilwell (for Alonso, 46′)

Hadn’t touched the ball before Chiesa fired Juventus ahead. Didn’t see much of it after that either. 6

Callum Hudson-Odoi (for Ziyech, 59′)

Had a few opportunities to run at Alex Sandro and got the better of him a few times as well. Lively. 7

Ruben Loftus-Cheek (for Azpilicueta, 59′)

Didn’t quite have the impact required but he was a decent presence in the midfield at least. 6

Trevoh Chalobah (for Jorginho, 59′)

Played, in effect, the Jorginho role in screening the back five. Did OK. 6

Ross Barkley (for Christensen, 75′)

Got the ball in some good areas and played some good passes. 6

Photo Credit: ChelseaFC/Twitter

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Half-Time Report: Chelsea dominate Juventus in Turin

September 29th, 2021 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

All-square at half-time with neither side able to break the deadlock, despite Chelsea dominating possession.

They’ve seen far more of the ball than the home side, but have been unable to create any real clear cut chances.

The home side have been very compact in their defensive shape and Chelsea have struggled to break them down.

The Blues have so far lacked the creativity to pick the lock of this Juve defence and have just been a little bit too slow in their build up.

Both sides have had to remain very focused to ensure they do not blink first and make the telling mistake that leads to the first goal.

Chelsea have given the ball away far too many times too many for Thomas Tuchel’s liking and were almost caught on the break by Chiesa and Cuadrado.

But the home side have also struggled to fashion out any real openings as of yet.

The changes the two managers make in the second half could prove vital and it will be a case of Juve ensuring they remain disciplined and more clinical when they get the chance to counter.

Meanwhile Chelsea will need to eradicate the sloppy passes from their build up and add some more invention and creativity to their attack, with Lukaku being starved of service up front.

Photo Credit: Chelseafc/Twitter

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Lionel Messi scores his first PSG goal to sink Manchester City

September 28th, 2021 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

A defensive masterclass and a superb first PSG goal for Lionel Messi ensured the Ligue 1 club three Champions League points at the expense of their Premier League counterparts in Group A.

City dominated possession for long periods, but could not find a way through the hosts, who held firm between Idrissa Gueye’s opener and Messi’s magic.

Paris were ahead, through Gueye’s thumping early opener, but City had played some lovely stuff of their own, when Messi – who had been pleasing but largely peripheral – decided his moment had arrived in the 75th minute.

The Argentinian darted forward and fed Mbappe, who responded with a back-heel into the path of the maestro.

And the little fella then performed a spot of alchemy, combining power, curl, precision for a finish of pure gold.

The Pep Guardiola-tutored side had three times as many attempts on goal as their hosts, but struggled to break down a solid defence and an incredibly hard-working midfield.

Paris Saint-Germain’s victory takes them to the top of Group A with Club Bruges in close pursuit after the Belgians pulled off a surprise win in Germany.

Manchester City find themselves in third place and will face Bruges twice over Matchdays 3 and 4. While Pep Guardiola’s men won’t expect to drop points, there is now minimal room for any further slip ups.

Photo Credit: PSG_English/Twitter

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