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Champions League: No Halaand without Man City, says Ancelotti

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Carlo Ancelotti has denied that Real Madrid are working on a plan to deal with Erling Haaland in Tuesday’s Champions League semifinal first leg, saying that focusing on one player would underestimate a “complete” Manchester City team.

Since both clubs met in last year’s semifinal — which Madrid won 6-5 on aggregate, including a dramatic 3-1 comeback at the Bernabeu — City have added Haaland, who has scored 51 goals this season, to their squad.

Madrid prepared for the tie by winning the Copa del Rey final on Saturday, beating Osasuna 2-1 at the La Cartuja stadium in Seville with a brace from Rodrygo.

“Haaland is a very dangerous player,” Ancelotti said in his prematch news conference on Monday. “He’s an obvious danger. But only talking about Haaland means not talking about a complete team that plays well, that attacks, that has ideas.

“We aren’t planning how to play Haaland, but rather to play a team that looks unstoppable. I think we can have a chance to play an even, competitive game, and we can win.”

Ancelotti said he didn’t view the addition of Haaland as requiring a radical shift in City’s style.

“What I can say is they’re a more complete team,” Ancelotti said. “They might play a bit more direct. They use more long balls because they have a tall forward [Haaland] and they have [Kevin] De Bruyne behind him. In a lot of games they’ve taken advantage of that, playing a long ball and winning the second ball. But that doesn’t mean the team has changed its style.”

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Madrid have a formidable record against Premier League teams in recent years, eliminating Liverpool and Chelsea in the Champions League this season after knocking out Chelsea, City and Liverpool on their way to lifting the trophy last campaign.

Midfielder Toni Kroos said he wasn’t surprised that despite their recent record, many people view the Premier League champions as favourites.

“I think it was almost the same a year ago,” Kroos said. “Almost nobody expected us to win the Champions League, or to win that semifinal, and we did it.

“A few people said the same thing a year ago. It doesn’t affect us, and it doesn’t motivate us more. It’s impossible to be more motivated than we already are.”

Kroos also defended teammate Vinicius Junior, who has faced criticism for frequent clashes with opponents and referees this season, with his latest yellow card coming in the Copa del Rey final.

“He’s very young,” Kroos said. “And he’s player who’s made the difference for us this season. He’s scored what, 22 goals? He’s played well all season, he’s never injured. Ask the defenders who play against him, it must be tough.

“He has to learn. If he’s calm, and keeps a cool head, he’s playing incredibly. It’s normal, he’s provoked sometimes and referees’ decisions don’t help, but he has to live with this for the next 10-15 years. He has to be calm in those moments and keep playing his game.”

Ancelotti confirmed that midfielder Luka Modric — who has recovered from a thigh injury — would start against City.

READ ALSO  Enugu Rangers brush aside Bendel Insurance to emerge NPFL champions

“”Yes, he can play without any problems,” Ancelotti said. “If Luka Modric feels fine, he plays, so tomorrow he’ll play.”

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Enugu Rangers brush aside Bendel Insurance to emerge NPFL champions

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enugu rangers has win the npfl

Rangers international Football Club of Enugu have won the 2023/2024 Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) title after defeating Bendel Insurance 2-0 in Enugu on Sunday with one game remaining.

The win took Rangers to 67 unassailable points at the top after their closest rivals Remo Stars and Enyimba lost 2-1 to Sunshine Stars and Sporting Lagos, respectively.

It is the 8th Nigerian league title for the Flying Antelopes, making them the second most successful club in the league’s history trailing only Enyimba who have 9 league titles in their trophy cabinet.

After being at the top of the league table for many weeks, the Enugu side was faced with the danger of losing the title with anything short of victory against Bendel Insurance with Remo Stars and Enyimba lurking around to take advantage.

However, everything worked in Rangers’ favour on Sunday, as they grabbed the all-important victory and their closest rivals all losing on the day.

It took 32 minutes for Rangers to open the scoring on Sunday, with Kenechukwu Agu slotting in a well placed free-kick to set the filled Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium (Cathedral) agog with celebration.

The Flying Antelopes pushed for a second goal and their efforts paid off in the 65th minute as Chidiebere Nwobodo doubled the lead to relax nerves at the stadium.

Nwobodo’s goal elicited the chants of “holy holy holy Enugu Rangers is another champion” from the fans as their team held on the win the game 2-0 and emerged champions.

READ ALSO  Enugu Rangers brush aside Bendel Insurance to emerge NPFL champions

With 67 points, Rangers last league game away to Gombe United is for pride as no team will be able to leapfrog them again.

In addition to winning the title, Rangers automatically qualifies to represent Nigeria in the 2024/2025 CAF Champions League. Nigerian second Champions League slot is now left for Remo Stars, Enyimba and Shooting Stars to fight for on the last game day.

Source: Channels

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Mbappe rules out representing France at Olympics

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Mbappe ‘signs Real Madrid contract’, to become club’s highest-paid player

France captain Kylian Mbappe on Sunday admitted that he will not represent his country at the upcoming Paris Olympics.

“For the Olympics my club has a position which is very clear so that means I think I will not participate in the Olympics. That is how it is,” Mbappe said.

The 25-year-old, who was speaking ahead of France’s opening Euro 2024 game on Monday against Austria, has just signed for Real Madrid and will join the European champions for the new season under freedom of contract from Paris Saint-Germain.

The men’s Olympics football tournament begins on July 24, with the final on August 9.

The Spanish season is due to start a week later, while Madrid are also due to play Atalanta in the UEFA Super Cup in Warsaw on August 14.

“Joining a new team in September would not be the best way to begin my adventure,” admitted Mbappe, who had previously stated a wish to be able to play for Thierry Henry’s French Olympic team.

“I wish the best to the France team. I will of course watch all their games as a spectator rather than an actor, and I hope they bring back the gold medal.”

This week Lionel Messi confirmed he would also not go to the Olympics, turning down the chance to win the gold medal with Argentina for a second time.

Source: Channels

 

READ ALSO  Mbappe rules out representing France at Olympics
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Enugu Rangers on the verge of winning 2023/24 NPFL title

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Enugu Rangers on the Verge of Winning 2023/24 NPFL Title

The 2023/24 NPFL league winners may be decided on Sunday if Enugu Rangers win at home while Remo Stars lose their away game.

Enugu Rangers will host Bendel Insurance while Remo Stars will be away to Sunshine Stars.

Despite a less impressive away record, Bendel Insurance have been a tough nut to crack, boasting the fewest conceded goals in the NPFL this season.

Expected to leverage their home advantage and the support of their ardent fans, Enugu Rangers may be gearing up for an eighth NPFL title.

Enugu Rangers Coach Fidelis Ilechukwu believes in his team’s ability to seize the moment.

“It will be a thing of joy for me, my family, technical crew and everybody, especially for our fans who have waited since 2016,” Ilechukwu said.

“Every supporter of the Flying Antelopes is looking forward to the trophy again. There is hope that it will happen. The problem now is Remo Stars, we have two games and we need to fight to make sure we win our next game and I think with that it will be a great joy for Rangers, the management, fans and everybody,” he said.

Enugu Rangers narrowly escaped relegation last season.

On Sunday, the matches between Sporting Lagos vs Enyimba and Bayelsa United vs Shooting Stars will air on StarTimes Beta Sports channel 244.

Source: Thisday

 

READ ALSO  Mbappe rules out representing France at Olympics
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‘No integrity’ – Osimhen fires back at Finidi

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Osimhen fires back at Finidi’s comments on national team commitment

Victor Osimhen has responded fiercely to former Super Eagles coach Finidi George‘s claims about his commitment to Nigeria’s national team, the Super Eagles ahead of the crucial 2026 World Cup qualifiers this month.

The Napoli striker, who has been the subject of intense transfer speculation linking him to Chelsea and Arsenal, expressed his frustration in a six-minute rant on Instagram, targeting Finidi.

Finidi had suggested that it was challenging to discipline certain players, claiming that Osimhen had opted out of two World Cup qualifying matches despite being fit to play. He accused Osimhen of selectively choosing which games to participate in.

Osimhen, angered by these accusations, took to Instagram Live to voice his displeasure:

“I called Finidi George when he was appointed and told him: ‘Let’s do great things together.’ I asked him to let me stay with the players in the camp, but he told me to stay with my family. Now, after two bad games, everyone is blaming me.”

He continued, “I always play my heart out for Nigeria. I know how many injuries I’ve played through for Nigeria. But after two bad games, everyone is attacking me. I have lost all respect for him.

“I always call my teammates to encourage them, but after these games, I wasn’t even part of the team. I got injured in the last minute of our last match. The MRI confirmed an ankle injury. I won’t allow disrespect from anyone. I play my heart out for Nigeria.”

Despite Osimhen’s injury, Finidi maintained that the striker could have played in the matches.

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Osimhen was ruled out for four weeks due to a twisted ankle, and he now feels unfairly targeted for the Super Eagles’ failure to win those games.
The 25-year-old striker remains a hot topic in football transfer news, but his recent comments have highlighted the tension between him and the former coach.

Under Finidi’s leadership, the Super Eagles suffered a surprising 2-1 defeat to the Benin Republic in Abidjan, following a 1-1 draw against South Africa at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium.

These results leave the Super Eagles winless after four matches, sitting in fifth place in Group C with just three points, putting Nigeria’s chances of qualifying for the 2026 FIFA World Cup in serious jeopardy.

 

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Woeful Finidi George resigns as Super Eagles head coach

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Finidi George has resigned from his position as the head coach of the Super Eagles. It is believed Finidi took the decision on Saturday,

Finidi George has resigned from his position as the head coach of the Super Eagles.

It is believed Finidi took the decision on Saturday, days after the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, announced moves to bring in a foreign technical adviser.

His exit was confirmed by former Eagles media officer, Toyin Ibitoye, on his X account.

Ibitoye wrote: “News just in: Finidi George @FinidiGeorge_FG has resigned from his @NGSuperEagles manager position.”

Finidi was only appointed on April 29, 2024, to replace Jose Peseiro, whose contract expired in February.

During his very brief tenure, the former Enyimba boss oversaw a 1-1 draw with South Africa and a 2-1 defeat to Benin Republic, both in the 2026 World Cup qualifying series.

 

READ ALSO  Enugu Rangers brush aside Bendel Insurance to emerge NPFL champions
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I’m coming for heads, warns returning Adesanya

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I’m coming for heads, warns returning Adesanya

Former UFC middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya, has expressed excitement ahead of his highly anticipated return to the octagon,

The Nigeria-born fighter is expected to challenge rival, and new champion Dricus du Plessis for the championship later this year. Although nothing has been announced officially, the promotion is reportedly targeting UFC 305 on August 18 in Perth, Western Australia.

In a post on his YouTube channel on Friday, “The Last Stylebender” discussed the potential return, showed some of the new elements to his strength and conditioning program, and also revealed his new mindset when it comes to his fighting career.

“How excited am I to get back in the octagon? I’m excited,” Adesanya said. “I’m excited, it’s been a year, almost a year, like 11 months by the time I get back in the octagon. People are like, ‘Oh, I hope you get the belt back, I hope you get the belt back,’ I have belts. I don’t need any more belts. I’m coming for heads. That’s what I want to do.

Source: The Punch

 

READ ALSO  Enugu Rangers brush aside Bendel Insurance to emerge NPFL champions
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