You are here: Home » Tag Archives: champions league

Tag Archives: champions league

Feed Subscription

Cristiano Ronaldo accused of raping American woman in 2009

Kathryn Mayorga, 34, claims the Portuguese football player raped her in a Las Vegas hotel room, according to German media outlet Der Spiegel. The magazine say Ronaldo paid her $375,000 for her silence. The five-time World Player of the Year denies the allegations, insisting the sex was consensual. Mayorga's lawyer is now questioning the validity of an out-of-court settlement agreed in Nevada, in which Ronaldo reportedly paid $375,000 (€323,000) for her silence. Der Spiegel claim the lawyer's case is based on a document containing Ronaldo's account of what happened on 12th June 2009. In it, the 33-year old is quoted as saying "she said 'no' and 'stop' several times." Mayorga has now spoken publicly for the first time about her encounter with the Juventus forward, who was under contract at Real Madrid when the incident is supposed to have taken place, claiming to have been raped anally after spending an evening partying with Ronaldo while he was on holiday with his cousin and brother-in-law in Las Vegas. Mayorga also described events following the incident, describing how Ronaldo fell to his knees and told her he was "99 per cent" a "good guy" let down by the "one per cent". One of the most high-profile sports stars on the planet, the news is likely to achieve global media attention, with Ronaldo and his legal team yet to repsond publicly to the accusations.

Kathryn Mayorga, 34, claims the Portuguese football player raped her in a Las Vegas hotel room, according to German media outlet Der Spiegel. The magazine say Ronaldo paid her $375,000 for her silence. The five-time World Player of the Year denies the allegations, insisting the sex was consensual. Mayorga’s lawyer is now questioning the validity of an out-of-court settlement agreed ... Read More »

Neymar injury an opportunity for Julian Draxler at PSG

From rising star to Germany regular, Julian Draxler's career has long been trending upward, but he's struggled for playing time since joining Paris Saint-Germain. Will Neymar's injury offer him a pre-World Cup boost? Six months ago, things were looking pretty good for Julian Draxler. After securing the move away from Wolfsburg that he'd long been angling for, he'd become a regular in Paris Saint-Germain's version of the Galacticos, captained Germany to a Confederations Cup win and had the inside track toward a starting spot in Germany's World Cup defense in Russia. But then, at the beginning of August, the French club broke the world transfer record to sign a Brazilian from Barcelona who played in his position. Since Neymar arrived at the Parc des Princes, there's been little doubt that he's the star of the show, with 29 goals in 29 games to go along with the headline-grabbing birthday parties and public rows over penalty duties. But his arrival has been less than positive for Draxler, who has completed 90 minutes just six times for his club this season, with only a handful of cameo appearances in his favored position on the left wing. Frustrations evident After PSG's 3-1 loss to Real Madrid in the first leg of the Champions League last 16 — in which Draxler played just nine minutes — the 24-year-old let his frustrations slip to German broadcaster ZDF. “In the Bernabeu, you don’t want to watch 84 minutes from the bench but, with our squad, you don’t always get the choice,” he said. The extent of Neymar's metatarsal fracture, which he suffered in PSG's 3-0 win over Marseille on Sunday, is unclear at this stage, but it appears he'll be out for at least a month. This means he is almost certain to miss the return leg on March 6, despite PSG coach Unai Emery's suggestion there's a "small chance" he'll be ready. Draxler would surely revel in another game against a team he dismantled while playing for Wolfsburg in 2016 . However, his place is not totally assured, with Argentinians Angel di Maria or Javier Pastore among the alternatives for the Parisian club. A chance to make his mark Despite the competition, Emery, who has often tried to shoehorn the German in to a central midfield since Neymar's arrival, spoke highly of Draxler in December as rumors swirled about a switch to the Premier League. "He's in a constant evolution and he still has a lot of energy. At PSG, Draxler is in very good hands, he's a great contributor to our game, he's learning a lot," Emery said. "I talk to him a lot and I'm very demanding with him and he's one of those very ambitious players and he shows that with good performances, also for the national team, and he's a very important player for us." As Emery suggested, Draxler is a key man for Joachim Löw and his name is surely inked in to Germany's 23-man squad for Russia 2018. But, with Leroy Sané impressing for Manchester City, Julian Brandt showing flickers of form at Bayer Leverkusen and Marco Reus impressing in his latest comeback at Borussia Dortmund, Draxler needs regular playing time to find the form and fitness that would secure him a starting spot. With another crunch game against Marseille in the French Cup on Wednesday before the Madrid game and prestige international friendlies against Spain and Brazil at the end of March, Neymar's absence could offer an opportunity for PSG's half-forgotten man to restate his case.

From rising star to Germany regular, Julian Draxler’s career has long been trending upward, but he’s struggled for playing time since joining Paris Saint-Germain. Will Neymar’s injury offer him a pre-World Cup boost? Six months ago, things were looking pretty good for Julian Draxler. After securing the move away from Wolfsburg that he’d long been angling for, he’d become a ... Read More »

Champions League: Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig in search of maiden wins

It has been a tough start to European football this season for the Bundesliga clubs. Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig know the time to get their first wins are running out as they face crucial tests on Tuesday. After all the excitement surrounding Peter Bosz's start at Borussia Dortmund, the club's head coach faces question marks whether his side can get it right against bigger teams. In Europe, Bosz and Dortmund have the chance to get their confidence back with a trip to Cyprus, but is pushing for a top-two spot in their group the best plan? "We want to win both games against APOEL," captain Marcel Schmelzer said, who flew with the squad and hopes to return to action after five weeks out. Clearly, Dortmund want to win all the games they play and six points from these two outings will put them back into a competitive spot in their group. But given Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid's strength, Dortmund face the dilemma of whether to push for progression or focus on the Bundesliga where they lead Bayern Munich by two points. "There is no reason to stick our heads in the sand," said Nuri Sahin. "We were defensively very poor. That was not Borussia Dortmund standard," said Bosz after the Leipzig game. Given how poorly German clubs have performed so far in Europe this season, the pressure will be on both Dortmund and RB Leipzig (who are also in action on Tuesday night) to pick up much-needed victories. "If we still want to have a chance of advancing, then we have to win in Nicosia," said BVB sporting director Michael Zorc. "We go there as favorites and must show why." If Dortmund fail to do so, then not only will their European dreams be in tatters but so will their confidence ahead of their trip to Frankfurt next Saturday. Leipzig looking for lift-off RB Leipzig are hoping to get their Champions League campaign off the ground when they host two-time winners Porto. Ralph Hasenhüttl's side has yet to light up the Champions League in the way they have the Bundesliga and are still looking for their first win following a home draw with last season's semi-finalists Monaco and a deflating defeat by Besiktas last time out. Leipzig are coming off the back of a morale-boosting 3-2 win at Bundesliga leaders Dortmundon Saturday - and managed to do it without star men Timo Werner and Emil Forsberg. Hasenhüttl is expected to call upon Forsberg and Naby Keita, but Werner could remain on the bench as he continues to recover from injury. However, the coach said in Monday's pre-match press conference that he believes Jeffrey Bruma can provide the attacking edge Leipzig otherwise lack in Werner's absence. "We're going to have to see how things go with Timo Werner before deciding whether he starts or comes from the bench. But the impetus Bruma provides up front is great and he brings important qualities to the table," Hasenhüttl said. The Leipzig coach has called on his team to maintain the level of performance they showed in Dortmund. "The key for us is ensuring that the team maintain optimum levels of performance. Our added depth has helped. This is a game that will be decided by the smallest of details, but we're confident we can get our first Champions League win," Hasenhüttl said. Now it's time for RB Leipzig's actions to speak louder than the words of their head coach.

It has been a tough start to European football this season for the Bundesliga clubs. Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig know the time to get their first wins are running out as they face crucial tests on Tuesday. After all the excitement surrounding Peter Bosz’s start at Borussia Dortmund, the club’s head coach faces question marks whether his side can ... Read More »

Champions League: ‘A perfect time to write history’ – Hoffenheim confident of historic Anfield result against Liverpool

No German team has ever beaten Liverpool at Anfield. However, that is precisely what Hoffenheim will have to do if they are to qualify for the group stage of the Champions League for the first time. Liverpool came away from the first leg in Sinsheim last Tuesday with a 2-1 win thanks to a Trent Alexander-Arnold free kick and a Havard Nordtveit own-goal. Mark Uth's late strike gave Hoffenheim hope going into the second leg, but the German side will still have to score at least twice on Merseyside if they are to advance to the group stage of the Champions League for the first time in their short history. "We'll certainly put on a good show - I can promise you that," coach Julian Nagelsmann said. "The plan is to win 2-0. But we'd take a 3-0 win as well.” Jürgen Klopp's side are known for their aggressive pressing and attacking potency but the Reds' defense has been leaky of late, particularly from set pieces - a weakness Hoffenheim will be looking to exploit. "We're definitely capable of scoring two goals, that goes without question,” defender Kevin Vogt told Germany's mass-circulation newspaper "Bild." "We're going to throw everything at them. We know we can do it.” Nagelsmann's team certainly had their chances in the first leg. Andre Kramaric missed from the penalty spot, Sandro Wagner struck the outside of the post and Benjamin Hübner headed over the bar unmarked, but midfielder Kerem Demirbay looked at the positives. "We clearly play the better football," he said. "Whether that's enough to see us through in the end, we will see. We know we're not Liverpool but we can travel there with confidence." Anfield - not a happy hunting ground for German teams More illustrious names than Hoffenheim have come undone in Liverpool over the years, with the Reds having won 14 of 17 matches against German opposition at Anfield. 1860 Munich, Eintracht Frankfurt, Hamburg, Dynamo Dresden and Borussia Mönchengladbach have all suffered heavy defeats in England's northwest. Two years ago, Borussia Dortmund squandered a 4-2 aggregate lead in the final 30 minutes as Liverpool produced a stunning comeback to progress to the Europa League semifinal. So it would be a historic night if Hoffenheim were to reverse that trend and secure a money-spinning place in Europe's premier club competition. The financial difference between participation in the Champions League group stage and the Europa League is approximately 15 million euros ($17.6 million). "It's a perfect time to write history," Demirbay said.

No German team has ever beaten Liverpool at Anfield. However, that is precisely what Hoffenheim will have to do if they are to qualify for the group stage of the Champions League for the first time. Liverpool came away from the first leg in Sinsheim last Tuesday with a 2-1 win thanks to a Trent Alexander-Arnold free kick and a ... Read More »

Hundreds injured during stampede at Champions League screening in Turin

Scores of Juventus fans were injured when a stampede broke out at a public screening of the Champions League final in the Italian city of Turin. Panic ensued after loud, firecracker bangs were mistaken for a bomb. Hundreds of Juventus soccer fans are being treated for injuries after mayhem broke out on Saturday night in the Italian city of Turin during a public viewing of the Champions League final. Local police said that around 200 people were injured while Italian media reported that around 400 people were being treated for minor injuries due to the stampede. Five people were seriously hurt in the crush, including a 7-year-old boy who was trampled, reported Sky TG24. Around 30,000 people had gathered at Turin's Piazza San Carlo to watch the final match between local club Juventus and Real Madrid. Video of the viewing shows a rush in the middle of the crowd that caused a surge and stampede as people tried to scramble over the barriers. Many fans began running from the square, screaming in fear. Witnesses said there was a loud bang that sparked the panic. The sound may have come from a collapsed barrier or the sound from a loud firecracker. Other reports state that someone yelled "bomb" as a joke. Following the stampede, bags and lost shoes littered the square while people were seen limping and looking for friends and family members, a Reuters witness said. The incident occurred shortly after Real Madrid scored its third goal before winning the match 4-1. Following the match, Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said: "We hope all get better soon." Club president Andrea Agnelli said: "I've been informed of the incident and my thoughts go out to those who were injured on what was supposed to be a night of celebration."

Scores of Juventus fans were injured when a stampede broke out at a public screening of the Champions League final in the Italian city of Turin. Panic ensued after loud, firecracker bangs were mistaken for a bomb. Hundreds of Juventus soccer fans are being treated for injuries after mayhem broke out on Saturday night in the Italian city of Turin ... Read More »

Ronaldo double secures Real back-to-back Champions League titles

A Cristiano Ronaldo double saw Real Madrid crowned champions of Europe for the 12th time and become the first team to retain the Champions League. The Portuguese forward scored the first and third in a 4-1 win. Juventus 1-4 Real Madrid (Mandzukic 27' - Ronaldo 20', 64', Casemiro 61', Asensio 90') It could only be him. For all the greats of the game on the Cardiff pitch, there were times on Saturday night when the other 21 players felt like extras in the Cristiano Ronaldo story. He's got quite the scriptwriter. The competition's record goalscorer opened the scoring and added to it later on to extend his lead at the top of the all-time goalscoring list and ensure he finished the match as the most prolific man in the Champions League for the fifth season running. In between his brace, Juventus threatened Real's grip on a title they regard as their own thanks to an incredible Mario Mandzukic strike, before Casemiro restored the Spanish side's lead. An extended - and largely unwanted - performance from the Black Eyed Peas meant the teams were late in kicking off, but the Italians weren't slow to start once the match finally got under way. Former Real frontman Gonzalo Higuain was particularly bright early on, forcing Keylor Navas in to two saves in the first five minutes. The Costa Rican dealt with both comfortably and withstood a more severe examination shortly after, when he palmed away Miralem Pjanic's long-range drive. But this Madrid side are not easily daunted, and recovered from their shaky start with a sustained spell of possession. But the opener was all about one man – and his identity was no surprise. Ronaldo takes control Ronaldo picked up a ball deep in the Juventus half and drove at the Italian defense in a manner more reminiscent of the hard-running player he was than the high-end poacher he's become. He slipped the ball to Dani Carvajal on his right with body language that ensured the Spaniard knew he expected it back. Carvajal obliged and Ronaldo fired home, with the aid of a telling deflection, for his 11th Champions League goal this term. The Italians responded almost instantly with a goal more than fit for this grandest of occasions, though this time the identity of its scorer was less obvious. Alex Sandro burst down the left and was picked out by a raking crossfield ball. The Brazilian cushioned a volley inside to Higuain and the striker helped it on to Mario Mandzukic, who – with his back to goal – didn't seem to have much on. But the former Bayern Munich man wasn't prepared to let Ronaldo grab all the headlines yet again. He took the ball down on his chest before unleashing a spectacular overhead kick from just inside the box that dipped over Navas and restored parity to an open, engaging game. Fresh impetus after the break The second half began in cagier fashion than the first, with mistakes likely to have a higher cost with each passing minute. As the clock ticked down, the game began to fit the pattern predicted by so many in the build up, Real probed with the ball while Juve sat deep and soaked up the pressure. That meant there was space outside the box for Real's midfielders and, after Luka Modric tried his luck, Casemiro took aim from 30 yards out. The defensive midfielder's strike was firm and dipping but Gianluigi Buffon for once looked his age as it crept inside his left-hand post. Three minutes later, the great Italian keeper was beaten again, though there was little he could do with Real's third. Madrid broke quickly as Juve adjusted to being behind again and Luka Modric raced on to a ball down the right flank. The Croatian just kept it in play and had the composure to pick out Ronaldo. The Portuguese forward had run beyond the front post but clipped the ball beyond the keeper with an ease that belied the difficulty of the finish. Juventus had nothing left and when Juan Cuadrado was dismissed with a few minutes remaining, the Old Lady knew that the fat lady had sung. If they needed any further confirmation, they got it in the last minute of normal time, when Marco Asensio swept home Marcelo's low cross. For the eighth time in their history, Juventus were left contemplating a loss on the biggest stage of all. For Real, the celebrations were no less emphatic despite the familiarity of a third Champions League victory in the last four years. As it happened The Champions League final is here! The final game of the season. Juventus have won Serie A, Real Madrid have won La Liga. The Italians are going for the treble, the Spanish for a double. It's Ronaldo vs. Buffon, that attack vs. that defense, Zidane against his former team. It's going to be a very special night in Cardiff!

A Cristiano Ronaldo double saw Real Madrid crowned champions of Europe for the 12th time and become the first team to retain the Champions League. The Portuguese forward scored the first and third in a 4-1 win. Juventus 1-4 Real Madrid (Mandzukic 27′ – Ronaldo 20′, 64′, Casemiro 61′, Asensio 90′) It could only be him. For all the greats ... Read More »

Champions League preview: Lewandowski to return for Bayern as Real’s Bale is ruled out

We look ahead to the second part of the heavyweight contest between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, who will be boosted by the return of star striker Robert Lewandowski from injury as they look to overturn a 2-1 deficit. Bayern Munich's hopes of overturning a 2-1 deficit from the quarterfinal first leg against Real Madrid rest on whether Robert Lewandowski, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng will be fit. Lewandowksi, whose absence was felt when Bayern slumped to defeat by Real, is back in training after suffering a shoulder injury against Borussia Dortmund last week. The Pole was suspended for Saturday's Bundesliga stalemate at Leverkusen. "We know how good a player Lewandowski is, he is a true No.9," said Real coach Zinedine Zidane. That is a plus for Bayern [that he should return].” Lewandowski has scored 38 goals in 40 appearances this season but Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro says they are wary of Bayern's whole team, not just their center forward. "Lewandowski is a quality player but it's not all about him," said Casemiro. "They've got a brilliant squad. We'll need to be at our best and not just focused on one man." The striker should be joined by first choice defensive pair Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng, but both face a race against time to be fit. Hummels has an ankle injury that kept him out of the first leg and Boateng missed the Leverkusen game with an adductor injury. "There'll be a test on Monday night," Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said before the team departed for Madrid on Monday. "Everything went well on Sunday in training with Hummels and Boateng. Lewandowski was even training with the team. We have to wait. At the end of the day, we're not so pessimistic." And with Javi Martinez suspended after his red card in the first leg, Carlo Ancelotti will be desperate for both players to be fit. If Hummels or Boateng don't make it, and emergency defensive pairing of Joshua Kimmich and David Alaba could be required. Bale absence will hamper Real Real Madrid go into the second leg as clear favorites to progress, knowing that even a 1-0 defeat in the Spanish capital will see them through. But Zidane's side have been dealt a blow with the news that Gareth Bale will miss the return leg at the Bernabeu. The Welshman has a muscle injury in his right leg and Zidane, while wanting to bring him back, says he will not rush the star forward back to action. Zidane's thinking is clearly influenced by El Clasico against Barcelona, on Sunday. "He will not play because we don't want to take any risks," Zidane said on Monday. "He wants to come back, he has been working hard. Hopefully he will be back for the Clasico but it's not certain yet. We will see how he progresses day by day." Spain attacking midfielder Isco, who scored twice, including a last minute winner, in Madrid's 3-2 win over Sporting Gijon on Saturday, is likely to replace Bale – but Zidane was keep his cards close to his chest. "That Isco has not played much time in the Champions League is just coincidence, there is nothing else," Zidane said. "It looks tough for him, just 77 minutes, it's not much. But we have many games, many competitions, and we will see tomorrow what will happen.” Overcoming the odds Only twice in Champions League history has a team overhauled a first-leg home defeat to win the tie. The second of those occasions was against Bayern, who let a first leg lead slip against Internazionale in 2010/11. The odds are clearly against Bayern, but there is hope for them. An early goal would give Bayern the perfect platform to take the game to Real, who are unbeaten in Europe's elite club competition this season. In fact, they've failed to win only once in their last 10 Champions League games – 2-2 at Borussia Dortmund in the group stage. But Bayern midfielder Xabi Alonso, who will be playing his last ever Champions League game if Bayern go out, is confident that the Bundesliga leaders can turn it around against his former club. "We are Bayern, we know how to do it," Alonso told El Pais when he was asked his thoughts on a comeback. "We know how competitive Real Madrid are going to be and I also know the Bernabeu in these qualifiers, and the atmosphere will be a great night." "With Madrid you can't think too much about them because there is so much talent and they can score from anywhere. In addition to playing well, you have to be lucky and hope they don't have their day." Bayern will be hoping luck is on their side on Tuesday evening.

We look ahead to the second part of the heavyweight contest between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, who will be boosted by the return of star striker Robert Lewandowski from injury as they look to overturn a 2-1 deficit. Bayern Munich’s hopes of overturning a 2-1 deficit from the quarterfinal first leg against Real Madrid rest on whether Robert Lewandowski, ... Read More »

Champions League: Dortmund out to ‘score as many goals as possible’ against Monaco

Borussia Dortmund are set to host Monaco in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal tie. BVB's Marco Reus could be set to make his return against the high-scoring French side. Borussia Dortmund welcome French league leaders Monaco to the Signal Iduna Park on Tuesday night for the first leg of a hotly anticipated Champions League quarterfinal. After five weeks out with a muscle tear, BVB star Marco Reus could be set to make his return as the Black and Yellows look to bounce back from Saturday's chastening 4-1 defeat to Bayern Munich. "Sometimes it's best not to dwell too long on results like that," coach Thomas Tuchel told reporters at the prematch press conference on Monday. "Bayern were on another level to us and we don't need 20 replays to show us that." Dortmund were forced to travel to Munich with a severely depleted squad after midfielders Julian Weigl and Shinji Kagawa both picked up knocks last week, but both are back in training and should return to action against Monaco. Lukas Piszceck, who remained on the bench as a precaution against Bayern, is also set to start with Dortmund likely to revert to a back four. Longer-term absentees André Schürrle, Erik Durm and Mario Götze are still out. "We're confident that Weigl, Kagawa and Piszczek will be fit," said Tuchel. "Marco [Reus] trained yesterday and will again tomorrow. Then we'll decide if he's ready or not. Given our injury situation, it could be more likely he'll be involved, or at least in the dressing room." Attack, attack, attack In Dortmund and Monaco, the draw will see two of the most exciting young teams in Europe go head to head. Dortmund overcame a 0-1 deficit by hammering Benfica 4-0 in the last round. The Monegasques, three points clear of champions PSG at the top of Ligue 1, have already scored an incredible 130 goals in all competitions this season, including 88 in the league - more than any team in Europe's top four domestic leagues. "Monaco have many top players," Tuchel said. "They have outstanding talent both individually and as a team. It's difficult to pick out one single player." "We'll practise combatting Monaco's strengths but we want to concentrate on our own strengths and score as many goals as possible with our fans behind us." Dortmund are not short of firepower themselves. Only Bayern have scored more goals in the Bundesliga this season while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Ousmane Dembelé, Christian Pulisic and co. found the net a record 21 times in this season's Champions League group stage. Nevertheless, captain Marcel Schmelzer (29) believes that defense is what will decide this tie. "It's a 50-50 battle," Schmelzer said in comments published in Monday's edition of German football magazine "Kicker." "Both teams like to attack but we have to make sure we defend better with more intelligence and more ruthlessness. We know Monaco score a lot of goals but big victories and titles are won based on a well-functioning defense. Our defenders have more international experience - we have to use this to our advantage." French national team coach Didier Deschamps agreed, writing in the same publication that he expected an "offensive spectacle." "Both teams rely on youth, pace and attacking football and make the most of their forwards' individual qualities," he said. "But the key will be elsewhere. The team who defend best will progress." Defense will be key Left back Schmelzer had a torrid time against Bayern winger Arjen Robben on Saturday and knows he will have to up his game against one of Europe's most formidable attacks. In striker Kylian Mbappé (18), winger Thomas Lemar (21) and full back Bemjamin Mendy (22), this Monaco side features some of French football's hottest young talents. Experienced Colombian striker Radamel Falcao also returned from a four-week layoff at the weekend, scoring the only goal as Monaco beat Angers 1-0. Fortunately for Dortmund, key midfield powerhouse Tiemoué Bakayoko will miss the first leg through suspension and could be replaced by Portuguese international Joao Moutinho. Marauding right back Djibril Sidibé is also set to miss out with an appendix problem. Monaco's three away goals in their 5-3 first-leg defeat at the hands of Manchester City in the previous round ultimately proved decisive in the second leg and Leonardo Jardim will be expecting his team to take at least one away goal back to the principality this time as well. Dortmund have been guilty of wasting chances this season but they cannot afford to do so if they are to progress in the Champions League.

Borussia Dortmund are set to host Monaco in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal tie. BVB’s Marco Reus could be set to make his return against the high-scoring French side. Borussia Dortmund welcome French league leaders Monaco to the Signal Iduna Park on Tuesday night for the first leg of a hotly anticipated Champions League quarterfinal. After five ... Read More »

Atletico Madrid present stern challenge to Bayer Leverkusen’s unbeaten European run

Bayer Leverkusen will be out for revenge after the Spanish side knocked them out of the competition two years ago. Following an undefeated run in the group stage they may be in luck. European football has been a welcome respite from the inconsistent, chaotic world of the Bundesliga for Bayer Leverkusen fans this season. Roger Schmidt's (pictured above) side currently sit eighth in the German top flight with four wins and four defeats in their last 10 games, yet their Champions League form has looked far more impressive: with an undefeated run over the entire stretch of their campaign thus far. With somewhat unexpected wins over Tottenham Hotspur and Monaco and four draws from the remaining games the German side finished second in Group E behind Monaco. And after showing an uncharacteristically pragmatic approach to the competition and an appetite for upsetting the odds, there is plenty to suggest they're up for a fight. "Why not win against them?" said Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno. "If we show our Champions League face, then everything is possible. "You can see the team really wants it. We are fighting, we are fighting for each other and that was not necessarily the case a couple of weeks ago." Yet on Tuesday night the German side comes up against what will undoubtedly be their toughest opponents yet in Atletico Madrid. The 2014 finalists topped their own group with just one defeat and five wins in six matches, finishing above Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich. Indeed Leverkusen fans will need no reminder of what the Spanish side are capable of as both sides met at this exact stage two years ago, with Atletico going through on penalties after each claimed a 1-0 in front of their own fans. "Atletico has strengthened further since our duel two years ago," lamented senior striker Stefan Kiessling, referring to the club's signings of continental stars such as Jackson Martinez, Nico Gaitan and Kevin Gameiro in the past two seasons. Yet Schmidt will be able to call upon stars of his own. Karim Bellarabi's goal in Friday's 3-1 win over Augsburg complimented the two assists he claimed the week before, as starts to rediscover his form after recently returning from a long-term injury, while young stars Julian Brandt, Benjamin Henrichs and Kai Harvetz have repeatedly excelled. Leverkusen will be without Jonathan Tah and Lars Bender through injury, but can rely upon a relatively clean bill of health throughout the rest of the squad. Atletico's Diego Godin has been ruled out with a thigh injury but the Spanish side will have Jan Oblak back from a shoulder injury.

Bayer Leverkusen will be out for revenge after the Spanish side knocked them out of the competition two years ago. Following an undefeated run in the group stage they may be in luck. European football has been a welcome respite from the inconsistent, chaotic world of the Bundesliga for Bayer Leverkusen fans this season. Roger Schmidt’s (pictured above) side currently ... Read More »

Champions League: Bayern, Gladbach both playing for pride

Bayern Munich are set to host Atletico Madrid with little but pride on the line as the outcome of the match can have no impact on the Group D standings. Gladbach travel to Barcelona in a similar situation in Group C. They won't call it revenge that they will be looking for when Carlo Ancelotti's men play Atletico Madrid at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday night. However, they will be looking for a result simply to prove a point after losing the first game in Group D 1-0 in Madrid and having crashed out against Atletico in last season's semifinals. Bayern, who in the Bundesliga find themselves in an unfamiliar second place, had hoped that this final game would be a battle for first place in the group, but their surprising 3-2 defeat to Rostov in Russia a fortnight ago has proved costly. "Unfortunately we have not achieved what we set out to do, namely to finish first in the group," Ancelotti conceded to reporters at the prematch press conference on Monday. "Nevertheless, we want to show what we are capable of against Atletico, against a team that we know will give us a difficult match." Asked whether Arturo Vidal might make his return on Tuesday night, the coach indicated that he wouldn't be in his starting 11, but that he likely would get a few minutes of playing time. He also tipped his hand as far as to say that the captain, Philip Lahm, "will definitely" play, but that Jerome Boateng had been ruled out by a "slight muscular injury." However, he gave no clues as to whether he would do what he did in the 3-1 win over Mainz on the weekend, when he opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation rather than his preferred 4-3-3, saying Bayern's players were capable of playing in various systems. Both teams going into the match with records to defend. Diego Simeone's team arrive in the Bavarian capital looking to become just the sixth team to win all six games in a Champions League group stage. Bayern, on the other hand, will be looking for their 15th straight win at home in Europe's top club competition. Headed for the Europa League Borussia Mönchengladbach approach their match in the Camp Nou looking to give a good account of themselves in their last Champions League contest of the season, being are all but assured of finishing third in Group C and moving on to the round of 32 in the Europa League. Coach André Schubert and his men may be happy to put their Bundesliga woes on hold for one night in Barcelona following their 4-1 loss in Dortmund on the weekend, and while they have not traveled to Spain to suffer "a blowout," as André Hahn put it, this match can't be a top priority for them. "It's great for everyone that we have a competitive match in the Camp Nou. However, at the moment, this is really not important," Max Eberl, Gladbach's sporting director, said. "The next Bundesliga match against Mainz is much more important. Barcelona on the other hand have clinched the group and while he would like to get a win for his team's morale after four consecutive draws, coach Luis Enrique may use the opportunity to experiment with his lineup. "I may use a different system, try out different players, rest some who have been playing a lot and give minutes to some who haven't played that much," he said. Asked whether superstar Lionel Messi would play on Tuesday, Enrique replied: "Yes, he will play. He will start."

Bayern Munich are set to host Atletico Madrid with little but pride on the line as the outcome of the match can have no impact on the Group D standings. Gladbach travel to Barcelona in a similar situation in Group C. They won’t call it revenge that they will be looking for when Carlo Ancelotti’s men play Atletico Madrid at ... Read More »

Scroll To Top