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2019-20 Champions League Draw lists Messi-led Barcelona in ‘Group of Death’

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Champions League Draw

The 2019-20 UEFA Champions League draw sealed the fate of the 32 teams for the group stage of the league on Thursday. The draw has put together teams from across the globe to ensure a high-pitched entertainment for fans. All the teams have been divided in a group of four, making a total of eight groups in the tournament.

The current title-holder Liverpool will have a faceoff with Napoli and Salzburg in the group stage of the tournament. However, amongst all the eight groups, Group F is expected to show the most intense action for all football lovers. It won’t be wrong to call Group F as the “group of death” since it includes famed powerhouse football clubs like Barcelona, Dortmund, and Inter Milan.

The Champions League draw formed eight groups:

Group A: Paris St-Germain, Real Madrid, Club Bruges and Galatasaray; Group B: Bayern Munich, Tottenham, Olympiakos, Red Star, Belgrade; Group C: Manchester City, Shakhtar Donetsk, Dinamo Zagreb, Atalanta;
Group D: Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen, Lokomotiv Moscow.
Group E: Liverpool, Napoli, Salzburg, Genk
Group F: Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan, Slavia Prague
Group G: Zenit St Petersburg, Benfica, Lyon, RB Leipzig
Group H: Chelsea, Ajax, Valencia, Lille

The group stage of the tournament will commence on September 17, and each team will be playing a home and an away game with the opposition teams. Following the group stage, only two teams from each group will advance to the next round, the knockout stage.

With Champions League draw taken place, there are many historical feats to be achieved. Apart from Liverpool gunning to become the first English team to reach three consecutive Champions League finals, Chelsea would also try to ensure that the Blues still have the best win rate in the group stage of the tournament.

Even though every group has probable chances to witness nail-biting match, the American fans will be waiting for the matches of Group H to commence. As during the opening matches of the stage, Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic and Lille’s Timothy Weah will be playing against each other in the group matches of the stage.

Following the Champions league draw, Borussia Dortmund captain Marco Reus said, “A few of us from the team were stood together at breakfast this morning and we all agreed that we’d love to draw Barcelona. The games against Barcelona will have a party atmosphere for us and our fans! We believe in our quality and our aim is to go through.”

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“Incredible” Mikel Arteta to Succeed Man. City’s Boss Pep Guardiola

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Pep Guardiola

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola was all praises for Mikel Arteta, the number two at the Club, in a recent press release. The Man. City boss further indicated that the former midfielder who has played for famed clubs like Everton and Arsenal can succeed him as a manager, once Guardiola retires.

Guardiola and Arteta have known each other for a long time, from their time spent together at the La Masia Academy in Barcelona. The two also share similar philosophies in certain aspects. Apart from their time at fabled La Masia, both of them have played in a similar position.

During the press release, Pep Guardiola termed his assistant as “incredible” and even thanked him for not leaving the club. In the last 14 months, Arteta was offered to lead Arsenal and Newcastle as manager, an enticing offer which he refused.

When asked if former Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta could replace him as manager, he said, “I’m pretty sure, yes. He will have success, yes. He decided to stay – thanks – but everyone decides what he’ll do in the future.”

“Sooner or later it’s going to happen. He’s a young young manager, he’s 37, 38, so he so young, he has experience already to handle big players and teams and when it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen.”

Pep Guardiola also spoke about the defeats the club has endured in the starting of the season and claimed that he is neither worried about the lead Liverpool has nor the defeat in match against Norwich City at Carrow Road.

The number two at The Sky Blues, Mikel Arteta has rose to become highly influential figure at the club and has played an important role in helping City lift five domestic trophies in last two seasons. Apart from helping the City over the last two seasons, he is also known at the club for his one-on-one work with Raheem Sterling and improving his game in front of the goal.

48-year-old Guardiola, who has taken up the mantle to lead Barcelona and Bayern Munich, was also full of praises for the character and morals that he tends to display on the field.

Guardiola said, “He’s a guy who’s so happy when we win but also suffers a lot when we don’t. He’s an incredible person, an incredible human being, with incredible values about the dressing room and what it means to be together.”

“He’s already an incredible, incredible manager. He will have incredible success in the future,” he added.

Mikel Arteta, if selected, can help City providing a sense of continuity with his vast experience of playing at six different clubs and for four different countries. Furthermore, his experience of having more than 250 appearances in the Premier League can help the players in learning more about the tactics of other clubs and players in the league.

Since, City has thrived under Pep Guardiola’s leadership, it would only be wise to choose someone who would continue his legacy.

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Belgian Mid-fielder Kevin De Bruyne Claims to Strike Back in Warning to Liverpool

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Kevin De Bruyne

Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne seems to be undeterred and only emerge stronger after their unprecedented defeat from newly-promoted Norwich City at Carrow Road. The Manchester City star has made it clear in his latest statement that the Liverpool’s lead does not affect him.

Bruyne reminded The Reds that The Sky Blues have successfully managed to overcome the trail of seven points and won the Premier League title last year, so the Liverpool should not underestimate the Man City.

In their latest match against Norwich City, Pep Guardiola’s team lost their first league game since January by a score of 3-2. Even though, the Kevin De Bruyne and his team were able to establish themselves on the field, a series of blunders against Norwich cost them the match.

Prior to the match against Norwich, The Sky Blues finished at draw with the Tottenham Hotspur, costing them the drop in the points in the second match of their campaign. The situation further got worsened for the Pep Guardiola managed team as Liverpool scored a 3-1 victory over Newcastle United.

With this win, The Reds have maintained their campaign with 100 percent success rate and are leading the table with five points.

Following the game with the Norwich City, Kevin De Bruyne said, “Last season we were seven points behind – it happens. Of course, we want to win every game but it is difficult. You have to respect the other team and when they do well. They do well and that is it.

“It will be tough, the next seven months, like last year. It never stops. It is our job and sometimes it is hard but you have to take it on the chin. We lost four games out of 38 last season and that is a good record. We can still win this season with the same points at the end of this season.”

He further claimed that he is not worried about trailing far behind from their rivals, in the beginning of this season. Kevin De Bruyne also spoke about the decision of Pep Guardiola substituting him and said, “We’ve got so many games going on so sometimes he (Guardiola) is going to make a change for whatever reason, you just have to take it.”

Even though the defending champions, Man City are trailing behind they will be looking forward to make a comeback in the league by scoring a win against Watford next Saturday. On the other hand, it will certainly be difficult for Liverpool to maintain their 100 percent win rate as they will face Chelsea on Sunday.

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Norwich City Shock Manchester City; Defeat 3-2 at Home

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It wasn’t a match day that Manchester City had in its mind. However, the defending Premier League champions were stunned by the newly-promoted Norwich City anyway, when they lost by 3-2 against the odds at Carrow Road.

Firm favourites to win, Manchester City did not take long to establish themselves at the away venue. Passing the ball around, City looked confident with the hold of possession, while Norwich sat back and defended in numbers. Sergio Aguero also posed huge threat with his twists and flicks, but it was Norwich City who broke the deadlock with Kenny McLean who rose to an out swinger sent towards near post from the corner and headed into the top right in the 18th minute to put hosts 1-0 up.

However, Man City were defiant despite an early dent, and continued holding the ball and running at the opposition’s defence, but could not put the ball past Tim Krul net. Interestingly, having scored one, the hosts came back only 10 minutes later to double their advantage as Todd Cantwell – collecting a notch-perfect pass from Teemu Pukki – side-footed into an empty to make it 2-0.

The second goal left Man City pondering, and the team replied minutes later, but Raheem Sterling could only manage to hit the upright. Nonetheless, just before the half-time break, Bernado Silva curled a ball onto Aguero’s head, who planted a header to cut the deficit in half and make it 2-1.

Manchester City got the second half underway, but Norwich City spoiled the away side’s party only in the 50th minute, thanks to a defensive howler from Nicolas Otamendi. The defender dawdled onto the ball, which allowed Emiliano Buendia to dispossess him and pass the ball to Pukki, who scored an easy goal to make it 3-1.

Manchester City continued to do their passing thing and came hard at Norwich, but the home side somehow managed holding their ground. City were also partly unlucky on occasions with the likes of Aguero missing out on an easy goal from six-yards out, within the final quarter of the game.

Lastly, Rodri – the new-summer signing for City – managed to instill some hope in the 88th minute, with his long range effort finding the back of the Krul’s net to make it 3-2. But the defending champions could not save themselves as Norwich City held them for a famous victory.

“It was a good game, they arrived [at goal] three or four times and we conceded bad goals,” City manager Pep Guardiola told Sky Sports. “On the first set piece we knew they would attack the first post and the second one we didn’t make a counterattack, that can happen, but we didn’t control the line – and the third was a mistake,” he added.

Manchester City will feature against Watford in their next Premier League game, while Norwich squares off against Crystal Palace.

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Southampton Hold Manchester United to a Draw as Slow Start Continues

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Manchester United

Manchester United’s season that began on high hopes with 3 huge points against Chelsea, is now following the same old pattern of dropping points just like the last season. The Red Devils who squared off against Southampton at St. Mary’s, were held to a 1-1 draw by the home side. The result meant that the club plopped points for the third time in the first four Premier League games.

Manchester United were doing a bit of chasing in the initial minutes, but scored against the odds in the 10th minute via Daniel James. The 21-year-old lad – who joined from Swansea City this season – scored a thunderous third goal in his four games of the season to make it 1-0.

As the match continued, Manchester United grabbed a foothold in the possession and pressed better as a side, while Saints were looking a bit messy with the ball. However, United were still bleak in the last-four, and Southampton did manage a couple of shots before the half-time, but could not score.

Man United got the second-half underway, and made some early chances on the break. Southampton also started to pick up the pace of the game, but Che Adams missed a great opportunity and fired his shot wide off the near post. However, it didn’t take long after that shot, and the home side equalized (1-1) with a header of Jannik Vestergaard – who leaped over Victor Lindelof on the six-yard line and headed the ball into the corner – in the 58th minute.

The goal meant that Manchester United were once again terribly staring down the barrel. But Saints likely dented their hopes, when Kevin Danso made a reckless challenge on Scott McTominay, and collected his second yellow to head for the exits.

The Red Devils saw it as a great opportunity to push an extra man forward on the attack, and created a flurry of chances in the later half. With opportunities in the 83rd, 84th, 86th, 90th, and 90+3 minute, Manchester United came close to taking the lead, but 10-man Saints still managed to hold the away side, and the match ended 1-1 at St. Mary’s Stadium.

“We have dominated the last three games and we know we are on the right track, we’re getting used to that way of playing,” said Solskjær

“The last three games, they haven’t given us many points in return but we are getting there, we’re getting better and better at playing this way. It is a young team that will get used to it. We need to be more clinical, more ruthless when we go forward but we gave them enough encouragement to stay in the game,” he added.

Manchester United will face Leicester City in their next Premier League match, while Saints play Sheffield United.

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Everton Fan Sentenced Over Racist Comments on Mohamed Salah

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Mohamed Salah – the sensational striker for Liverpool – who was subjected to racist abuse on Twitter, has finally been served justice. The case dates back to August 6, when Gary Hyland – an Everton fan – published a series of racist abuse on Twitter and made fun of Salah and his teammates.

The 32-year-old Twitter user during an online conversation with Liverpool fans, made fun of the striker praying to Mecca at the half-time break, besides editing images of the whole team praying to Allah.

Following which, a supporter asked him: “What’s the issue with Muslims lad? Can you even articulate it?”

Hyland replied with an edited photograph of the striker wearing a suicide vest on the upper-half of his body. He further circulated even more images, made racist comments and directed fun at people praying to Allah.

On Friday, taking all the circumstances into consideration, he was sentenced to six-weeks of jail and suspended for 12 months at the Liverpool’s Magistrates court. The prosecution also conveyed that the comments inflicted damage to Mohamed Salah’s religious faith and were increasingly abusive.

The case was first reported to Merseyside Police who arrested Hyland at his home. Upon arrest, he was asked to surrender his phone, however, the Everton fan claimed that he had lost it. The cops though located it under his pillow.

Hyland, was also ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work in the community and 14 days of a Rehabilitation Activity Requirement, including attending a Promoting Human Dignity Course.

“These sorts of remarks fuel racial hatred and are extremely offensive to people from the race or religion that they are aimed at,” said Angela Conlan of the Crown Prosecution Service.

“Mohamed Salah does not deserve to be the object of abuse and neither does any person in a civilized society,” she added.

Racial abuse in football has been a pest spoiling the pious game for decades. Earlier, while players mostly complained about the on-field comments, the use of social media has only made the matter worse.

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