German star, Marco Reus, has just added one year to his contract showing that Borussia Dortmund consider Reus, a key part of their squad. Marco Reus is a familiar name to most football fans who adore two competitions, the Bundesliga and the Champions League. His name is always mentioned in the same context as Borussia Dortmund due to the player’s major affiliation with the club. The German international has experienced both the highs and lows of Dortmund, but one quality that has stood the test of time is; loyalty.
Through the winds of change, he’s the constant that remains: Marco Reus
Marco Reus started his junior career at Borussia Dortmund before being released to Borussia Monchengladbach as his senior career kicked in. As Jurgen Klopp was making the golden generation of the Signal Iduna Park outfit, he added Marco Reus to his project in 2012 to help him tame Bayern Munich, Bundesliga’s most successful club. With the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Matts Hummels and Ilkay Gundogan, among other stars, they reached the champions league finals in 2013, where they lost to Bayern.
His one-time best friend Lewandowski spent another season at Dortmund before leaving for rivals Bayern Munich. At the time, Manchester United and Real Madrid were still hunting down Reus. However, he rejected their proposals. He has spent eleven (11) years at the club with the twelfth in sight.
The 33-year-old talented midfielder has seen different generations of players come and leave the Signal Iduna Park. Lewandowski and Gundogan were among his first teammates. The era of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and Shinji Kagawa also came and left him at the Black and Yellow-inspired club. Ousmane Dembele, Hakimi and Jadon Sancho played with the star before moving to other clubs. Erling Haaland is the latest star to play with Reus, and still leaving him there. His loyalty is one of a kind in the current footballing world, where money and huge contracts matter more than virtue.
Marco Reus’s loyalty can be matched by the likes of Paul Scholes, who refused to leave Manchester United for whichever amount. Additionally, Francesco Totti was a Roma player all his life and retired as their most-capped player. Phillip Lahm dedicated his career to Bayern Munich and never accepted a proposal to move away from Bavaria. Real Madrid’s Raul is also noted as a loyal one who stayed at the club long, winning different accolades. With his new contract, Marco Reus could be thinking about retiring from Dortmund despite being linked with a summer move to Manchester United by some news outlets.
The lows of Marco Reus have included the 2013 Champions League finals loss to bitter rivals Bayern Munich which would have given him one of the most adored medals in Europe. The German star also missed the 2014 world cup with an injury that denied him the world of football’s most prestigious medal. The injury has made him miss over 1100 days of football, which is estimated to be around three years. Despite the injuries, the attacking winger has not given up and has been coming back to play for his boyhood club whenever needed.
Marco Reus honours
His highs have included winning 2 DFB-Pokal cups and 3 DFL Super cups with Borussia Dortmund. He has appeared in the Bundesliga team of the season six times and has been named Germany Player of the Year once, among many other individual honours.
The EPL title race will officially kick off when Chris Kavanagh kicks off the premier league clash between Fulham and Arsenal, the 29th season of the premier league. In the minds of fans in England and across the globe, the million-dollar question is who, among the 20 clubs will lift the title come May. The 29 seasons have produced just 7 different winners. Therefore, it is not a misguided assumption to say, there are a few clubs who will most likely win it. Unless another club pulls off a Leicester, you are sure the winner will be among the top 6. So among them, who is in and who is out of the title race?
Liverpool is the team to beat at the moment. They won the title last season with, get this, 7 games to spare. They finished the 2018/2019 season just a point behind eventual winners Manchester City. Consistency is key and that is the dread which Liverpool possesses. Jurgen Klopp has put together a juggernaut that is very difficult to stop. Until their loss to Watford, they looked likely to finish the season unbeaten. Watching them play in the preseason, they still got that drive and mentality to be champions again. They have not been active in the transfer market but they were not last summer and still won the league. With speculation flying around on the impending arrival of Thiago from Bayern Munich, they can only get stronger. With the firepower of Mohammed Salah and Sadio Mane, goals will continue coming. Van Dijk and Alisson’s bulwark will scatter the opposition
Anyone who watched City play last season knows that they are very strong contenders for the premier league title. Pep has one of the world’s most valuable teams, so much that when Lionel Messi decided to leave Barca Manchester City were rumored to be interested. City have plenty of unfinished business. Following a third straight disappointing exit from the champions league, they will be out to make a statement. Liverpool showed them how you win a title, finishing a handsome 18 points clear making City’s margin of 1 point the previous season appear like a stroke of luck. PFA player of the year Kevin De Bruyne is a man on top of the world. He is sure to be a menace to the opposition, supplying assists to lethal strikers like Sergio Kun and Gabriel Jesus. Club legend David Silva may have left but Phil Foden’s emergence will calm the nerves of City fans. Nathan Ake and Ferran Torres top the list of arrivals this summer. The signing of Ake aimed at avoiding the misfortune that faces city whenever Aymeric Laporte is injured.
Although some may argue it is a 2 horse race to the EPL title, that may not be entirely true. If we consider United’s post-lockdown form, they are genuine title contenders. They managed to bulldoze Chelsea and Leicester out of the way and clinch third spot last season. They got the job done and teams that get the job done always win something. Like City, they finished the season with bitter taste after Semifinal losses to Chelsea in the FA. Moreover they were knocked out by Sevilla in the Europa league semif final. With the Ole brand of football settling in, the belief is palpable. You will understand United’s fan believe in this being the year they end a 7-year trophy wait. After the Bruno Fernandes acquisition in January, United came to life and many fans were hoping for further acquisitions. However, their summer has been relatively calm only signing Donny van de Beek. With emerging youngster Mason Greenwood combing in to supplement an already sharp attack, Dean Henderson’s commitment between the post, only their defense may prove to be their kryptonite.
The blues gamble on club legend Frank Lampard. The weight of the transfer ban on their shoulders seemed to have paid off after they finished fourth. That was overachieving and they are not going to play dice again. They embarked on a transfer window that can be described as career mode on FIFA. Lampard has brought in Thiago Silva and Ben Chilwell in defense, Kai Havertz in midfield, Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner in the attack, and goalkeeper Edouard Mendy is on his way. Chelsea struggled greatly in personnel last season. Kepa was rusty and out of the form that saw him impress the previous season. With the new signings coming in at defense, it looks likely that Chelsea’s defensive woos may be a thing of the past. Supplemented by the attacking threat posed by Pulisic, Ziyech, Werner, Havertz, Giroud, Mount, and Tammy, Chelsea is a dream team. The big question is, can this set of talented players gel well? If the answer is yes, then Chelsea may join Liverpool and City as the main contenders. It is unimaginable how this team could finish the season without a trophy!
Let’s face it, this is not the Tottenham side raised by Mauricio Pochettino that finished second a few seasons ago. After their cameo appearance in the Champions League final in 2019, wheels came flying off and with them Pochettino. In comes Jose Mourinho who is in the process of shifting that side to fit his philosophy. I do not know how much time it will take but at least they will be unlikely candidates for the league. The rebuilding may look subtle but with Mourinho in charge it could pay dividends. Like typical Mou, he went to strengthen his defense with well-experienced players in the Premier League. Former Saints Captain Hojberg, Joe Hart, and Arsenal fan, Matt Doherty headline the arrivals. Tottenham have a quality squad but they need to bridge a mentality gap before they can be considered contenders. How fast remains to be seen.
Last but not least Arsenal. 16 years in the cold. They salvaged a season to forget with an FA cup win. Typical Arsenal but it is the manner and circumstance that make that win a huge achievement. Former captain Mikel Arteta switched Manchester for London mid-season. With it a promotion from Guardiola’s assistant. In the league, the damage was irreparable finishing 8th . However, their FA cup triumph ensured European football and may have convinced star man and captain Pierre Aubameyang to stay. The gunners are not short of talent with Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka, and Maitland Niles proving that Arsenal’s progression should be of interest to everyone. For Arsenal, it may be too early to call because we are not sure what Arteta has in his bag of tricks. However, they will not be in the list of EPL title race favorites to win it this season.
The new Premier league season awaits. Halfway through we will have done away with some clubs from this list. The EPL title race is on!
English football had one of the fiercest rivalries around the beginning of the 21st century. Two clubs had carved out a niche in the elite category courtesy of their managers and style of play. They amassed trophies at will and set unique records only held by the two specific clubs. While one won the impressive Treble, the other won a trophy currently considered impossible to lift, the Golden EPL trophy (the invincibles). Indeed Manchester United and Arsenal gifted the EPL fans an unforgettable era of entertaining English football. Despite both groups winning their accolades impressively, some fans still decide whose feat was more memorable. Before deciding who did it best, let us examine both teams and how they ran their games.
The outlook and quality of both the Treble winners and the Invincibles
Both teams comprised two elite managers, Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger, famously referred to as the Professor. Before taking over their respective clubs, both managers had shown promise in their respective clubs before being given the jobs. They took over the clubs with the zeal to improve the legacies already made by Manchester United and Arsenal. Despite having their unique tactics, both managers wanted their teams to be possession based and dominant over their opponents.
The quality of the midfield
They, therefore, ensured that their midfielders were full of quality to run their games perfectly. The treble winners had the no-joke Roy Keane as their central defensive midfielder. He was backed up by the sharp-shooting Paul Scholes and the free-kick specialist David Beckham. Academy coach Nicky Butt completed this midfield four that collected the three trophies in the 1998/99 season.
The Invincibles had Patrick Vieira as their captain and defensive midfielder. The Frenchman was known for his bullish style of play that made opponents shudder with fear whenever playing against him. He played with Robert Pires and former manager Fredrick Ljungberg. Current sporting director Edu also played a crucial role in shaping this midfield that went 38 games unbeaten in EPL. Their midfield was physical and creative, taking points from other clubs at will.
The intimidating shot-stoppers
The treble winners had the gigantic Peter Schmeichel as their showstopper. The Dane intimidated strikers with his big body size and made several crucial saves that won United games. On the other hand, Jens Lehmann was at his best during their golden EPL campaign. He kept 15 clean sheets and was one of the goalkeepers who won the golden gloves that season. The goalkeeping docket, therefore, played a crucial role in ensuring both clubs achieved their feats.
The walls that secured trophies
A famous football quote by Sir Alex Ferguson goes, attack wins you games, and defense wins you titles. This could be one reason he ensured he formed a wall in his defense that proved a hard nut to crack. Denis Irwin and Jaap Stam combined with the Neville brothers forming a wall that proved a menace to opponents. The three trophies testify to how good that defense must have been.
The Gunners utilized the services of Ashley Cole, Gael Clichy, Sol Campbell, and Kolo Toure. The likes of Keown, Cygan, and Lauren also played a crucial role in delivering the unique piece of silverware home. This respected defense ensured that Arsenal went unbeaten for 38 Premier League games.
Attacks full of talent
The attacks of these two clubs during their respective seasons were firing from all fronts. Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole accounted for at least 35 of Manchester United’s premier league goals. Despite being a substitute in most games, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer also played a crucial role in both the EPL and champions league.
The London greats had the talented Denis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry, who entertained the 2003/04 season and left the fans with great memories. Reyes, Wiltord, and Kanu also made an indelible mark in the hearts of the fans with some crucial goals. This attack will consistently rank as one of the best the Arsenal fans experienced at Highbury.
Both attacks were highly rated and definitely deserved to achieve their individual successes. Regarding squad quality, both clubs were well-equipped with enough firepower to win trophies. None of them had a deficient squad.
Individual Honours in the respective seasons
After Manchester United won the Treble, David Beckham was ranked second in the Balon D’Or rankings. Six other Manchester United had been nominated for the awards. These included Schmeichel, Giggs, Yorke, and Cole, among others.
After Arsenal’s Invincible season, only three of their players made it to the Balon d’Or’s final nomination list: Henry, Vieira, and Reyes. Henry finished in 4th spot in the final rankings. These nominations might indicate how challenging it was to lift the Treble than the golden EPL.
Manchester United was rewarded with three trophies for their impressive campaign in the 1998/99 season. These were the Premier League, the FA Cup, and the UEFA Champions League trophies.
The Gunners won the Premier League trophy during their invincibles campaign in 2003/2004 season and were given a special golden trophy. Taking part in three competitions and winning them is a more significant challenge than winning a single trophy. In terms of trophies won, the Red Devils have the upper hand.
The difficulty of achieving each feat
Alex Ferguson’s side is respected for being the first and only English club to win the Treble. They did this after English clubs had been given a 5-year Champions League ban breaking the jinx of no English club making it to the finals in 8 years, and winning the trophy. Determined and unstoppable, United went on to add the Premier League and FA Cups to their accolades.
However, other European clubs have also replicated this feat, winning trebles on various occasions. In 2013, Bayern Munich won the Treble in Germany. Inter Milan also won the Treble in 2010 under the stewardship of Jose Mourinho. In 2009 and 2015, FC Barcelona also won the Treble. This could indicate that more clubs might achieve this feat in the coming years.
Juventus has only replicated the Invincible season in the top flight of European football. They did this in the 2011/12 season before winning the Scudetto. This proves that winning the league unbeaten might be more challenging than winning the Treble. It might take several other years before another unbeaten record is made in Europe.
Beyond the Thrills: Reliving the Unforgettable Seasons of the ‘Invincibles’ and ‘Treble’ Winners
The Gunners managed to win 26 games and drew 12 in the invincibles season (2003/04). Despite having that impressive season, they faced some challenging games. At the beginning of the season, they drew 1-1 with Portsmouth FC. Thierry Henry later said that they drew the game given luck after being gifted a penalty late to draw the game. During that season, Arsenal scored 73 goals in the league in 2004. They scored 113 goals in all competitions.
Manchester United scored 80 league goals in their treble-winning season and had 128 goals scored in all competitions. They lost 3 league games all season. In terms of the number of goals scored in the league, Manchester United outshined Arsenal. Manchester United offered a more entertaining season than Arsenal.
How the Unbeatable Were Beaten: The Shocking Story of the Invincibles’ and Treble Winners’ Campaign Downfall
During their treble-winning campaign, the Old Trafford outfit lost five games. They lost to Sheffield Wednesday, Arsenal, and Middlesbrough in the league. Middlesbrough was the only club that beat Manchester United at home. They were also beaten by Arsenal during the Community Shield match at the beginning of the season. The last loss came at Tottenham in the league cup 3rd round. These were the only dents Manchester United experienced before achieving their greatest success.
In the 2004 season, the Gunners also experienced a fair share of disappointments from opponents. They were beaten by Middlesbrough FC in the League Cup semi-final stage. They also lost to bitter rivals Manchester United in the FA Cup quarter-finals. Chelsea also eliminated them late in the Champions League, leaving them with only a single title.
Both clubs won their accolades impressively. However, they also experienced some humiliating losses during the season. This did not deter their seasons from being recorded as successes.
The Legacy of the Invincibles and Treble Winners Lives On
Every football fan can agree that the treble-winning and invincible seasons were impressive. The two clubs offered top-notch entertainment that will forever stay in the outstanding football records. The two managers also offered their highly entertaining, unique, and entertaining football styles.
Furthermore, both squads contained stars who were capable of lifting the trophies. They also had the quality and depth necessary to win accolades, and they eventually did so. Winning the league unbeaten was a challenging feat, especially with the league having the likes of Chelsea rebuilding under Abrahamovic. The Red Devils and the Reds were also impressive clubs at the time, and so Arsenal did a great job.
However, I would go with a treble owing to the quality of the trophies achieved and the number of games played by Man United. The United side had to play several games to win all the trophies. The three are prestigious cups highly rated in Europe, showing how lethal this united side must have been.
Manchester United has had a season full of highs and lows. Despite winning the Carabao Cup, they still fight for the top 4 spots with the likes of Newcastle United and Liverpool. With some of their key players out injured, they have lost some crucial matches exposing how low their squad depth is lying. Manager Erik Ten Hag has insisted on the importance of the club raiding the market early enough to give him ample time to prepare for the upcoming season. Several top players have been linked with Manchester United.
A modern goalkeeper needed
Long-time Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea has fallen out of favor with the club’s fans due to his error-prone nature and style of play. He has made some easy but crucial mistakes costing the Red Devils essential points. He is also still working on high claims and sweeping of the ball. His build-up play from the back still needs improvement despite Ten Hag trying to encourage that style of play. FC Porto goalkeeper, Diogo Costa, has been identified as the top target for the club. His build-up play from the back is highly rated. Moreover, his high claims and sweeping skills are impressive. If Manchester United miss out on him, all is not lost. David Raya from Brentford has also been mentioned as another shot-stopper they might consider for the job.
The Manchester United defence menace
Club captain, Harry Maguire, has failed to meet his price tag and might leave in the summer with Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe. He still needs to impress the gaffer, forcing him to use left-back Luke Shaw as a center-back despite Maguire being fit. Scudetto winner Kim Min Jae has impressed this season at the Serie A, with some sources linking him with a summer move to Manchester. Jurrien Timber, who Ajax will sell in the summer, is excited to link up with Lisandro Martinez again. The two have been the most mentioned defenders with links to Manchester United.
Among other midfielders, Scott McTominay and Donny Van De Beek are on the way out of the club. Some new faces might be witnessed at the Carrington soon as the club sets sight on competing for trophies next season. Alexis MacAllister has been mentioned as one of the midfielders to help rebuild the club after impressing for Both Brighton and his national team Argentina. Declan Rice is seen as the perfect long-term replacement for Casemiro and has also been linked to the club. Frenkie De Jong is still the top midfield target as Ten Hag tries to bring him to Old Trafford for the second consecutive season.
The striking options
Napoli striker Victor Osimhen has been linked with Manchester United for some time now. With 22 Serie A goals this season and a scudetto to his name, he is wanted at the club to increase the number of goals scored. Harry Kane has also been linked to Man United in what is being taunted as an identical move to Robin Van Persie in 2012. Harry Kane is a Premier League-proven striker with two golden boots and can bank on that to give Manchester United the elusive Premier League title.
Other clubs also eyed these transfer targets, with Ten Hag expecting to make quick signings to avoid missing out on his priority targets. A busy transfer window awaits Manchester United; it will be interesting to see how it goes.
The English Premier League top-four race is heating up, with at least eight clubs being mathematically involved in this exhilarating affair. Manchester City and Arsenal have already cemented their places in the top two positions as they chase down the title. Newcastle United is unpredictably sitting in 3rd position with 65 points, while out-of-form Manchester United is sitting in 4th place with 63 points. Liverpool has closed the gap by winning six games on the bounce. Meanwhile, Manchester United have lost seven crucial points in their last six league encounters.
Fighting for Champions League reputation
Three clubs are fighting hard to maintain their Champions League reputation. Manchester United, Liverpool, and Tottenham Hotspur are Champions League regulars who have represented England on several occasions on the big stage. Liverpool have won six UEFA Champions League titles, the most an English club has ever managed to win. Manchester United are three-time winners still craving the title they last won in 2008. Tottenham Hotspur reached the finals of 2019 after at least seven consecutive seasons in the competition.
These three English clubs are fighting for a top-four spot for the sake of their prestige of participating in the competition for several years. Although five points behind Liverpool, Tottenham have recently improved after Ryan Mason’s appointment as their head coach. With four games to go, Tottenham Hotspur is praying that they collect maximum points from their last games while other clubs slip for them to stand a chance of tasting the top-four spots.
Merseyside’s might is back in the top-four race
A few game weeks ago, Liverpool were in eighth position, almost 9 points behind Manchester United. Their recent resurgence has seen them collect 18 points out of 18, winning six games on the bounce. During the same period, Manchester United have only managed 10 out of a possible 18 points. The setback has opened a way for Liverpool, who have been boosted by the return of long-term injured players Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz. The Merseyside side is now eyeing a top-four spot. Manchester United has a game in hand and can open the gap to four points with a win against Wolverhampton Wanderers this coming weekend.
Brighton Hove Albion, and Aston Villa are considered underdogs who still believe they can still secure a chance in Europe’s elite club competition. With 55 and 54 points, the two clubs have been aiming for a European place by the end of the season. Although they are still mathematically in the race, the two clubs might have to settle for a Europa League spot with only a handful of matches left.
The crucially top-four games
The following games will prove crucial in shaping the Premier League table. This weekend Newcastle United will be hosted at relegation-bound Leeds United. At the same time, Tottenham will have to face the impressive Unai Emery, who has witnessed a magnificent turnaround at Aston Villa. Manchester United will have to see off Wolverhampton Wanderers FC to try and reclaim their dwindling hopes of finishing in the top 4. Leicester City will host Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. The results from these matches will shape the table as the English Premier League enters its homestretch point.
A resilient Napoli had to fight tooth and nail to claim the elusive Scudetto they last tasted when Diego Maradona was still playing for the club 33 years ago. The line-up announcer, Daniele Bellini, nicknamed ‘the Decibel,’ was only six years old when he last experienced the feeling of winning the Serie A title. He had to grow up, attend hundreds of matches, secure a job as a line-up announcer, and work for several years before finally tasting the trophy again. While reading Napoli’s line-up, he broke down when he realized how close they were to win the trophy. Napoli’s journey towards winning their 12th Scudetto screams one word; patience.
The Coveted but elusive piece of silverware
For the past eight seasons, Napoli had only been seeing the Promised Land from a short distance. Finishing 2nd on four occasions is enough proof that Napoli has been a force to reckon with in Serie A. The trophy was elusive even when the Uruguayan beast, Edinson Cavani, banged goals for the club during his prime years. Even a front three of the speedy Dries Mertens, the dribbling Jose Callejon, and the exciting left-footed Lorenzo Insigne could only manage a second-spot finish. Kalidou Koulibaly came to be considered one of the best defenders in the world while at Napoli, but the Senegalese wall had to depart from the club before tasting the Serie A.
Juventus have been the most dominant Serie A side in the past decade and took the biggest share of the Scudetto. Inter Milan and AC Milan have also struggled to make a comeback to the scene by winning a scudetto each. Napoli has decided to make the league even more interesting by taking a different approach. Finally, this has paid off, with the coveted silverware returning to Naples. History has been made at the club, with the names of these heroes set to be engraved in the hearts of the Napoli fans for centuries to come.
When Luciano Spalletti took over the squad from Genaro Gattuso on the 1st of July 2021, few would have guessed that he would be the man to break the jinx and bring the title back to the football-loving community of Naples. The community had been craving this piece of silverware and had to always hold on to the Diego Maradona era for solace while their rivals were fighting for the titles. Respected European football managers like Mazzarri, Benitez, Sarri, and Ancelotti had all tried but unfortunately failed to live up to the dream. Like a code that is hard to crack, Napoli winning the Serie A proved to be an uphill task.
A new look Napoli; the key arrivals and departures
Spalletti took in the challenge with several star players having left and more still joining other clubs. Some key departures included Koulibaly, Fabian Ruiz, Arkadiusz Milik, Ounas, Ospina, Mertens, and former captain Lorenzo Insigne. This was a breed of exciting players who only managed a 2nd place finish. The arrivals included little-known players like Victor Osimhen, Kim Min Jae, Zambo Anguissa, Khvicha Khvaratskhelia, and Raspadori. Spalletti has made the players rise from grace to the top of the world by offering performances that have seen them rated among the top 5 best European clubs this season.
How brilliant individual performances helped Napoli win the Scudetto
Individually some key player performances have stood out this season. These players have been more outstanding than the others and have posted beautiful statistics. Kim Min Jae has won the most number of duels in the league. With goalkeeper Meret also playing his role, they have amassed 16 Serie A clean sheets. Midfielder Zielinski has contributed massively to the goals by scoring three and assisting seven. Forward Khvicha, from the little-known Dinamo Batumi, has scored ten goals and assisted 12 in an impressive campaign. Nigerian attacker Victor Osimhen has also shown prowess and scored 22 goals for the club while leading the Serie A golden boot race.
All these performances have contributed to a satisfying season for Napoli, who aim to go for the Champions League next season. The Naples will buzz with energy as they now believe again that they can make themselves the footballing powerhouse they once were. Naples is breathing fine football, and rightfully so.
A crunch of UEFA Women’s Champions League finals is on the cards as FC Barcelona women will be taking on Wolfsburg women. Both clubs aim to impress Eindhoven and take the trophy from record holders Olympique Lyon women. The two clubs are familiar with the competition’s finals, with Wolfsburg being a two-time winner and Barcelona being a one-time winner.
The exhilarating semi-finals
The exciting semi-finals pitted the Spanish and German giants against two of the finest English clubs. While FC Barcelona was facing Chelsea women in their semi-finals clash, Wolfsburg had to take on a resilient Arsenal aiming for their second women’s European title.
The first leg of the FC Barcelona women’s clashes ended in a 1-0 win in favor of the Catalan women, with Caroline Hansen scoring the lone goal. Hansen scored again in the second leg to put Barcelona in front before Guro Reiten equalized for the Blues. Despite eliminating the title holders, Olympique Lyon women, Chelsea had to bow out of the competition on an inferior goal difference.
The other semi-finals recorded a first-leg draw at the Volkswagen Arena in Germany, with each club scoring two goals. Pador and Jonsdottir scored for Wolfsburg, while Souza and Blackstenius scored for Arsenal. The second leg at the sold-out Emirates stadium was one to remember, with 5 goals shared between the two clubs. Blackstenius scored first for the Gunner ladies before Roord and Popp scored for the Germans. Beattie equalized for Arsenal before a minute 119 goal dented the hopes of Arsenal adding to their trophy cabinet.
An exciting Eindhoven final will be a Germany versus Spain affair, with the trophy being acquired from France, who have won 6 of the last 7 editions.
Previous final performances of the finalists
FC Barcelona won the 2020-21 edition of the Cup after beating Chelsea women by 1 goal to nil in the finals. They have also lost 2 finals to Lyon women. On the other hand, VFL Wolfsburg won the trophy in the consecutive years of 2013 and 2014. They beat Lyon women in 2013 and Tyreso women in 2014. They have also lost 3 finals, all of them to Lyon women, who have always been a force to reckon with in the Cup.
A UEFA Women’s Champions League final worth your time
This is proving to be a final of veterans and not the first-timers, with the game being predicted as an upcoming cracker. Whoever wins the UEFA Women’s Champions League finals will be adding to another of their European trophies. This is one game to look forward to.
Manchester United manager Erik Ten Hag will be banking on Raphael Varane to help his defence when they take on Manchester City in a crunch FA Cup tie in a month. The 3rd of May has been set aside as the D-day for two Manchester giants to battle it out for England’s oldest and arguably their most prestigious domestic cup.
Manchester City qualified for the finals after dismantling Sheffield United by three goals to nil (3:0) in the semi-finals. On the other hand, Manchester United had to win the penalty shootout against Brighton and Hove Albion to qualify for their second domestic finals this season. The defensive pairing of Victor Lindelof and Luke Shaw had to be utilised during the game. Both first-choice defenders, Varane and Lisandro Martinez were out injured.
An injured Manchester United back line: Raphael Varane and co.
Raphael Varane got injured in the Europa League first-leg clash with Sevilla and was pulled out at halftime with United leading by two goals. Harry Maguire stepped in but had an error-filled game culminating in an unfortunate goal. In the second leg, Harry Maguire was again on the receiving end, making a mistake that gifted Sevilla a goal. United lost the game, with Maguire failing to fill in the shoes of the absent French national.
The seemingly impenetrable pairing of Shaw and Lindelof
Lindelof and an improvised Luke Shaw have been impressive in the centre-back position keeping two clean sheets in three games. However, Erik Ten Hag knows how lethal the Manchester City attack is and will need Varane back for the game. The World cup winning defender was present when the Red Devils beat Manchester City 2-1 at Old Trafford. He played a crucial role in taming Erling Haaland, who did not manage a single shot on target for the entire game.
Cityzen’s great run of form
Currently, Manchester City are in good form and it will need a confident Manchester United to stop their ambition of completing a domestic treble with the premier league in their sights. With Lisandro Martinez set to be sidelined for the remainder of the season, Varane will be needed at the club. He is being treated and assessed by the physios at the Carrington to see how soon he might return to the squad.
Manchester United are seeking to sign a new goal keeper, their main target, Dominic Livakovic. He has developed into one of the most prolific goalkeepers and has proven himself on the world stage. He plays as the number one Dinamo Zagreb goalkeeper and doubles up as the Croatian national team goalkeeper. His impressive performances at club and national team levels are why he is now considered one of the most sought-after goalkeepers.
Livakovic exploits at club level
Livakovic was born on the 9th of January 1995 in Zadar, Croatia. He started his club career at the NK Zagreb team, where he made his senior debut on the 31st of August 2012. He joined Dinamo Zagreb at the beginning of the 2015/16 season and debuted for the club on the 2nd of October 2016. Since then, he has stayed at Dinamo Zagreb, playing a crucial role in their hunt for accolades.
At Dinamo Zagreb, he holds the record for the longest time since the start of the season without conceding a goal. He set the record of 535 minutes on the 2nd of August 2019 while playing against Gorica. His most impressive club performance for Dinamo Zagreb was noticed in the 2020-21 Europa League group stages. During that season, he conceded only one goal in 5 group-stage games while saving a crucial penalty. He was also instrumental when they eliminated Tottenham Hotspur in the round of 16 of the competition granting Zagreb their first Europa League quarter-finals appearance in history.
Livakovic exploits for the Croatian team
Dominik Livakovic earned his first international call-up to the Croatian National team in May 2016. He had to wait until 2017 to debut against Chile in the China Cup. In 2018, the Dinamo Zagreb shot stopper got the significant call-up to join the Croatian National team for the World Cup, where he won a silver medal after finishing runners-up to France. He did not play a game during the tournament, with Daniel Subasic being the leading man.
He was finally rewarded with his first competitive debut against England in a goalless Nations League match. It took several disappointing performances by Lovre Kalinic for Livakovic to be considered Croatia’s number 1 goalkeeper. He started playing this role satisfactorily against Wales on the 8th of June 2019.
His most impressive performances were noticed at the 2022 world cup, where he played eight matches for Croatia. He kept two clean sheets against Morocco and Belgium in the group stages and helped his team advance to the round of 16, where they faced Japan. His three crucial penalty saves ensured his team qualified for the quarter-finals.
He saved another crucial penalty against Brazil in the quarter-finals. He ensured they got to the competition’s semi-finals for the second consecutive edition, where they were beaten 3-0 by Argentina. He, however, became the 15th player ever to be awarded a 10/10 performance by France magazine L’Equipe for his heroics against Morocco as they settled for the bronze medal.
His world cup heroics have massively contributed to him being wanted by several clubs since he has proven to be a technically gifted player.
The Manchester United target has played at least 388 club games since he started playing his trade for Zagreb. These include at least 300 league and 70 European games. For the Croatian national team, he has played a total of 43 games.
The Dinamo Zagreb shot stopper started winning trophies as early as 2014 with NK Zagreb, where they won the Croatian championship. At Dinamo Zagreb, he has won 5 league cups, two Croatian and two Croatian super cups. He won the world cup silver medal with Croatia while adding another bronze medal in the last world cup edition.
He has been named to the Croatian league team of the year seven times and named Croatian’s best goalkeeper for four consecutive years since 2019. After his superb performances, he was named to the Europa League breakthrough team of 2018. In 2020/21, he was named to the Europa League squad of the season.
How much will it cost Manchester United to get Livakovic
The Croatian has a release clause of around 8.9 million euros that Manchester United is seemingly ready to pay. They are currently the only major club interested in the Croatian international, seeking to level up on David De Gea. If they can pay this release clause, Dominik Livakovic might make his appearance at Manchester United next season.
The Premier League title is Manchester City’s to lose after impressively firing 4 goals past Arsenal in an entertaining premier league clash at the Etihad. The Cityzens came into the match inspired to reduce the gap on top of the table to two points and proved they were serious in the first half when they struck twice.
Kevin De Bruyne scored the first goal to put Man City in front before John Stones slotted the second home from a well taken free kick. In the second half Kevin De Bruyne scored another to put the game to rest. Rob Holding scored a late consolation before Erling Haaland scored deep into extra time to dent Arsenal’s title hopes.
The Premier League title is in sight for Guardiola’s side..
The win has left Manchester City just 2 points adrift of league leaders Arsenal who have played two more games than Manchester City. Arsenal were once 8 points clear of Manchester City before a poor run of four games denied them maximum points. Three consecutive draws to Liverpool, West Ham United and Southampton messed up Arteta’s good form before Manchester City hammered them to make the title race even more interesting. At the same time, Manchester City have been winning their games and collecting crucial points that have now made the EPL trophy visible to Pep Guardiola’s side.
Manchester City are now considered clear favorites to win the league courtesy of the two games in hand they have. They are in good form and almost all conditions look favorable to them. Arsenal will need to show character as they are yet to face Chelsea and Newcastle United in the next few days.
Manchester City still have a treble to fight for with a two legged semi finals against Real Madrid on the cards. They also have an FA Cup final to play against rivals Manchester United. This means that they face a congestion of fixtures with 7 premier league games to play. Manchester City might seem like the ultimate winners of the premier league but the race is still on.
The Serie A top four race is taking shape as Napoli are carving themselves out as the clear favorites to win the league. With the league being considered a done assignment by Napoli who are having an impressive 75 points lead. 6 other top clubs are fighting for the coveted champions league spots. Maurizio Sarri’s side Lazio have been impressive this season and have maintained the second spot for the past few weeks. They have amassed 61 points from 31 games.
Lazio have beaten all odds and have played their cards well as they aim to make a comeback to the champions league where they last appeared seasons ago. Juventus are in third spot after their initially deducted points were granted back to them. Juventus had been deducted 15 points after breaking some key Serie A rules but recently they have been granted back the points that have pushed them back to 3rd position. They currently have 59 points.
AC Milan or Roma, who misses out?
AC Milan complete the fourth spot with 56 points gained, same as Roma who have an inferior goal difference and who have taken position five. AS Roma lost the chance of joining the top 4 after losing to Atalanta 3-1 during the last game week. Atalanta are now in 6th position, 4 points off the top. Inter Milan are in 5th position after securing three points away at Empoli over the weekend.
Juventus would have taken the second position but unfortunately lost their home game to Napoli courtesy of a late Raspadori strike. Lazio also lost at home to Torino and failed to consolidate their second place.
The top four race in Serie A is still open with five clubs fighting to join the lethal Napoli side in next season’s competition. The clubs whose cards will be played well will be the winners of the day. Seven more game weeks will determine the top four. Who will taste Champions League football next season?