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  1. Brendan Rodgers has revealed that Dedryck Boyata had been fit to play despite missing Celtic's 2-1 defeat at AEK Athens, which put them out of the Champions League 3-2 on aggregate. The Belgium defender, reportedly the subject of a failed £9m bid by Fulham before the English transfer window closed, had posted a video of him receiving treatment before Tuesday night's game in Greece. His agent Jacques Lichtenstein was quoted earlier in the week by saying that as his client is in the final year of his contract, he could not risk playing when not 100 per cent fit. "Yes, we were obviously missing our two best centre-halves this evening, unfortunately," said Rodgers. "My concentration really until I get back is only with the players that are here. But yes, Dedryck would have been fit to play." Asked if he felt frustrated on a night where defensive inadequacies proved costly, Rodgers said: "Yes, of course. He has been with us on the journey now for a couple of years and helped us get to this position and of course, someone of his quality, a World Cup semi-finalist in our team, would certainly have helped. "But he wasn't here and we look at the performance without him and I can't think any more than that". Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  2. Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius sustained a concussion during last month's Champions League final defeat by Real Madrid, doctors have said. The 24-year-old collided with Sergio Ramos during a Madrid corner early in the second half, and moments later he was at fault for Karim Benzema's goal. Karius also made a mistake for Real's third strike, failing to deal with Gareth Bale's long-range shot as the Spaniards ran out 3-1 winners in Kiev. The Germany international, who was widely criticised for his performance on the night, was booked in for medical scans by Liverpool as he holidayed in the United States. A statement on the Massachusetts General Hospital website read: "After carefully reviewing game film and integrating a detailed history - including his reported present and immediate post-contact subjective symptoms - physical examination and objective metrics, we have concluded that Mr Karius sustained a concussion during the match on May 26, 2018. "At the time of our evaluation, Mr Karius's principal residual symptoms and objective signs suggested that visual spatial dysfunction existed and likely occurred immediately following the event. "Additional symptomatic and objectively noted areas of dysfunction also persisted. It could be possible that such deficits would affect performance. "We also note that Mr Karius has reported significant and steady improvement since the concussive event, and we expect him to make a full recovery based on the results of the examination." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  3. Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has been given a two-match ban, one of which is suspended for one season, for improper conduct following his dismissal in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Liverpool in April. The 47-year-old was sent off at half-time in the quarter-final second leg at Etihad Stadium on 10 April for complaining about a decision, and he will miss one match next season, with a second game deferred for a year. Former Barcelona boss Guardiola said he "did not insult" referee Mateu Lahoz when protesting that a disallowed goal shortly before half-time should have stood. City were leading 1-0 - but trailing 3-1 on aggregate - when Leroy Sane was adjudged offside despite firing in after the ball deflected into his path off Liverpool midfielder James Milner's knee. Liverpool, meanwhile, were fined 30,000 euros (£25,450) over crowd incidents during the quarter-finals and semi-finals. Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  4. Zinedine Zidane has stepped down as Real Madrid manager just days after becoming the first coach to win the Champions League three years in a row. The 45-year-old leaves having also guided the Spanish club to one La Liga success since taking over in January 2016. "I know it is a strange moment for everyone involved," said Zidane. "But it had to be done for everybody. "This team has to continue winning and need a change. After three years they need a new voice, a new way of saying things - possibly another way of working. "That's why I've taken that decision. I love this club, I love the president, he's given me the chance to come as a player and a manager. "I'm eternally grateful to him but today for me and for everyone we have to change." President Florentino Perez added: "It is a sad day for me and will be for the fans, the players and everyone at the club. "I wanted him to be next to me forever. But I know it is his final decision. I would have liked to convince him to stay on but I know what he is like." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  5. Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has played down concerns that Cristiano Ronaldo could be a doubt for the Champions League final against Liverpool later this month. The 33-year-old's ankle appeared to be trod on by Barcelona defender Gerard Pique as he scored Madrid's first equaliser in the 15th minute. Ronaldo looked in discomfort but continued for the rest of the half, before being replaced by Marco Asensio at the start of the second period. "He's not great right now but I think it's going to be a small thing, it was only a bad movement," Zidane told reporters. "I can't say how long he'll be out for, tomorrow he'll have a scan, but I think it'll be a small thing for him. "He seemed to think it wasn't much. It's not a worry for the Champions League final... we're all going to be there." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  6. Liverpool attacker Mohamed Salah has stressed that the Champions League final will not be a case of him versus Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo. The Egypt international scored his 10th goal of the tournament as Liverpool progressed despite a 4-2 defeat to Roma in their semi-final second leg on Wednesday. Ronaldo, meanwhile, has 15 Champions League goals to his name this season, and the two players will go head-to-head in the final later this month in Kiev. Salah, with 43 goals in all competitions this season for Liverpool, has been tipped to end the decade-long Ballon d'Or dominance of Ronaldo and Barcelona forward Lionel Messi. However, the 25-year-old insisted he will need his teammates to win the Champions League and "cannot do it alone". "It is not going to be a final between Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo," he said, after Liverpool's 7-6 aggregate win over his old club, Roma. "I am playing for a great club and we have great players, so qualifying to the final came with great teamwork. I cannot do it alone - it is collective work. "When we score a goal it's because we are all doing good, when we concede it means we all need to work harder." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  7. Roma chairman James Pallotta thinks that the Champions League will remain "an absolute joke" if Video Assistant Referee is not implemented. The Giallorossi claimed a 4-2 victory against Liverpool in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final on Wednesday, but went out 7-6 on aggregate. Roma could feel aggrieved as the referee waved away two clear penalty appeals from Roma in the second half. Indeed, Pallotta was left wondering why VAR was not being used at the highest level of European football. "It is very clear VAR is needed in the Champions League because you just can't let stuff like this happen," the 60-year-old told BBC Sport at full time. "You can all look at it yourself. Stephan El Shaarawy in the 49th minute wasn't offside and he gets taken down by the goalie; the 63rd minute was a handball that was obvious to everyone probably in the world except people on the pitch; the 67th minute [Patrik] Schick gets taken down in the box. "I know it is difficult to ref but it is really embarrassing that we lose on aggregate like that. By the way, it should have been a red card which would have been 10 men in the 63rd minute. "Liverpool are a great team, congratulations going forward, but if they don't get VAR in the Champions League, stuff like this is an absolute joke." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  8. Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has stressed that his side are still fighting for a place in the Champions League next season. The Blues are five points adrift of the top four ahead of Saturday's trip to Swansea City and a win will take them to within two points of fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur who do not play Watford until Monday. Conte insists his Chelsea side will not give up on the top four while it's mathematically possible. "We have to try," he told reporters. "First of all we have to try to get three points at Swansea and it won't be easy because we are going to play against a team that is fighting to avoid relegation. "Swansea have won four of their last five games at home, it means they are in good form. "We must pay great attention but at the same time if we want to continue to have an opportunity take a place in the Champions League we need to get three points and try to put a bit of pressure on the teams that are higher than us. "It won't be easy but at the same time we must try to get as many points as possible from now until the end. "We have to play a very difficult game but if we want to continue to have an opportunity to take a place in the Champions League we need to get points." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  9. Jurgen Klopp has likened Liverpool's habit of enjoying dominant spells against opponents to Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United sides. The Reds scored three goals in 19 first-half minutes to take their Champions League quarter-final tie away from Manchester City, ultimately winning the tie 5-1 on aggregate. Klopp looks set to employ a similar tactic when they welcome Roma to Anfield for their semi-final first leg on Tuesday, after admitting he wants to use it to the same effect as rivals Manchester United in the 1990s and 2000s. "Is there something with Alex Ferguson, Man United," Klopp told Sky Sports. "At a specific time, they scored always twice? "Score, score? That is the opportunity. Score once, do it again. Use the momentum in the game. Of course we talk about it, of course we want to use that, but you still have to score. "The team is a really enthusiastic team. In a good moment, they jump and that's really good to see. "On the other hand, that's why the two Man City games were really special. We dealt with the very difficult circumstances in the two halves here and there on a high level. "That brought us to the semis, not that we can score one, two, three in a row. "In the moments when we are not in charge of the game, we are still in the game, that's a very important thing and that helped us massively." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  10. Ah, Football, 'the beautiful game'. The thrills and spills ignite us, the passion fuels us and the hard grit and determination makes us who we are. But when it comes to the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), I think of dark cold nights, train delays and international breaks. All of which we try to avoid but they always come back to haunt us. It's the most controversial footballing topic on the planet at this moment in time. We all have our opinions, some stronger than others. Some love it and some hate it, it's like Marmite, there's no in-between. But above all, do we really need it? For me, I certainly know what side I'm on. I hate it. As football fans, we complain constantly about referees. 'They're useless' and 'come on referee, get a grip' and similar things are said by many fans at games. Among thousands of fans each game, there will also be critics of refs who spoil a game by slowing it down. So, why does the Football Association find it appropriate to give referees even more time to decide on the outcome? This week, the head of UEFA came out publicly to confirm that VAR will be not used in the Champions League next season. He says it causes: (1) "a lot of confusion" and "If we, or I, can do something to make sure that the World Cup is not decided by a referee's mistakes, then I think it's our duty to do it." Doesn't that hamper VAR's chances of making it into every competitive competition? Well, one can only hope so! VAR is specifically used for goals, penalties, straight red cards, and mistaken identity. All of which are very important calls by any referee already, surely, we shouldn’t need another 'video assistant referee' to make the decision for another referee. (2) Report shows technology has been 98.9% accurate in decision-making. If that's the case, then what's the point in having a referee in the first place? The way technology is going in today's modern football, we'll end up with a robot as a referee. Ridiculous right? But I wouldn’t put it past the big boys at the top, throwing money left, right and centre at our beautiful game. Step forward a few months and the World Cup will be in full swing. Step back a few days (17th February) and remind yourselves of the horrors of VAR once again. Fans across the country were left bemused by a remarkably tight decision, when Manchester United midfielder and Spain international Juan Mata was deemed to be 'just' offside against Huddersfield Town which meant the decision could not be changed due to an 'unclear error' which can only be overturned if the decision was 'clear'. VAR caused outrage across social media, when the lines looked wonky, with some calling it a farce. Personally, I think it looks like it has been drawn on by a three-year-old. Maybe it was. All the money in modern football and they can't even afford a ruler! It's not just fans who have to deal with this peculiar system, it's lower league football, which should be a number one priority in English Football after the Premier League, so instead of the FA putting all their pennies into a project that isn't necessarily working (and never will!) why don’t they put their time into something worthy. I mean don’t get me wrong, we all love the beauties that the Premier League offers but when it comes to technology, it just ruins it. The outcome of VAR hangs in the balance. It's new to our game but something tells me this technology craze is only having a damaging effect on the future of the Premier League's reputation. In other countries, VAR has been tried and tested but when I think of technology, I think - can't we just go back to the good old days? The thrills and spills ignite us, the passion fuels us and 'our' team makes us who we are but when it comes to VAR, I Just hope it doesn’t catch on. But after all, at least we still have our 'beautiful game'. Share your thoughts about this opinion feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  11. Zinedine Zidane has urged other Real Madrid players to stand up and be counted after Cristiano Ronaldo was once again the saviour for the club by rescuing a point against Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday. The Portuguese's 42nd goal of the season, coming three minutes from time, denied Bilbao a rare victory at the Bernabeu. Real's 1-1 draw left them third in La Liga, 15 points behind leaders Barcelona with five games remaining. Despite their domestic woes, Los Blancos maintain hopes of securing a third successive Champions League title, a feat last achieved when Bayern Munich won the European Cup from 1974 to 1976. Indeed, the Bavarians stand in Real's way this season, and Zidane insists his side cannot rely on just Ronaldo when heading to Munich for the semi-final first leg on Wednesday. "We can think there will be other players as well as Cristiano who could make the difference in Munich," Zidane told reporters after Wednesday's game. "We have to stay focused because it's a Champions League semi-final and we're defending our title." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  12. Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has refused to apologise to referee Michael Oliver following their Champions League exit. The Italian giants were knocked out of the Champions League by current holders Real Madrid 4-3 on aggregate after Oliver handed the Spanish side a late penalty. Medhi Benatia was adjudged to have fouled Lucas Vazquez in the area, which resulted in Buffon being sent off after arguing with the referee, before Cristiano Ronaldo converted from the spot in the 97th minute. Speaking to Italian TV program Le lene, Buffon said: "I'm sure Oliver will have a great career in the future, but he's too young to officiate a match like that. "The beauty, the imponderable nature of football, means that unfortunately this young man found himself in a situation that was too complex, too garbled and too big for him to deal with. "So at the end of the day, what I said after the match, I don't hold any rancour towards Oliver. I'm not even angry with him. It all ended there, but naturally in the heat of the moment one does feel I'm not saying penalised, I felt defrauded. "Not defrauded of the result, but of the night. It was a night that can never be repeated." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  13. Liverpool have been drawn against Roma in the semi-finals of the Champions League. The Reds cruised to a 5-1 aggregate victory over domestic rivals Manchester City in the previous round and will take on their 1984 European Cup opponents in the final four. Roma, who stunned Barcelona with a 3-0 win in their quarter-final second leg to progress on away goals, will play at Anfield first before returning to the Italian capital a week later. Real Madrid, winners in three of the last four seasons, will face 2001 and 2013 winners Bayern Munich in the second leg for a place in the final in Kiev. In the Europa League, meanwhile, Arsenal will face tournament favourites Atletico Madrid over two legs in their semi-final. The Gunners survived a scare to eventually beat CSKA Moscow 6-3 on aggregate in the quarter-finals and will now take on Los Colchoneros in the toughest possible semi-final draw. Atleti, who edged past Sporting Lisbon 2-1, are to travel to the Emirates Stadium on April 26 for the first ever competitive meeting between the two clubs, before welcoming Arsenal to the Spanish capital a week later. Marseille and Red Bull Salzburg, who overcame deficits in their quarter-finals, will contest the other semi-final tie to remain on course for a place in next month's final at Olympique Parc Lyonnais. Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  14. Liverpool will be looking to win Europe's top prize for the sixth time having made it into the semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time in 10 years. Having come through the playoffs to the group stage of the competition, they are yet to lose in the competition and, with 33 goals, are the leading goalscorers in this year's competition. Winning 7-0 on two separate occasions against Spartak Moscow and Maribor in the group stage and a 5-0 win against Porto in the first leg of their round of 16 tie might not have got people convinced that Liverpool could be genuine contenders. However, having beaten Pep Guardiola's runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City 5-1 over the course of two quarter-final legs might have got people thinking that maybe they could be a force to be reckoned with. Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona, two of the main contenders, have already been eliminated,which has left the competition up for grabs. However, Roma, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich will also be looking at claiming Europe's top prize. Real Madrid - even after almost throwing away a 3-0 first leg lead at home against Juventus still have a chance to claim their third consecutive Champions League trophy, which would make it 13 overall, thanks to a disputed last minute Cristiano Ronaldo penalty. Bayern Munich - Five-times champions of Europe, making their sixth semi final appearance in seven years in which they have been involved in two finals, winning one and losing one. Roma - looking to win their first ever Champions League. Just like Liverpool they weren't seen as contenders but eyebrows were raised when they came back from a 4-1 first leg deficit to beat Barcelona on away goals. Could Liverpool bring Europe's top prize back to England for the first time since Chelsea in 2011-12? Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  15. Controversy reigned supreme at the Bernabeu as Cristiano Ronaldo's injury-time penalty put holders Real Madrid through to the Champions League semi-finals after holding off a near-miraculous Juventus comeback. The Portuguese talisman's 97th-minute penalty into the top corner of the net came after Medhi Benatia brought down Lucas Vazquez in the box. Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, in what might be his last Champions League appearance, was sent off by English referee Michael Oliver after awarding the spot-kick, for foul and abusive language. Football Manics looks at some of the reaction from the Real and Juve camps. Gianluigi Buffon, Juventus captain "It was a tenth of a penalty. "I know the referee saw what he saw, but it was certainly a dubious incident. Not clear-cut. And a dubious incident at the 93rd minute when we had a clear penalty denied in the first leg, you cannot award that at this point. "The team gave its all, but a human being cannot destroy dreams like that at the end of an extraordinary comeback on a dubious situation. "Clearly you cannot have a heart in your chest, but a bag of rubbish. On top of that, if you don't have the character to walk on a pitch like this in a stadium like this, you can sit in the stands with your wife, your kids, having your drink and eating crisps. "You cannot ruin the dreams of a team. I could've told the referee anything at that moment, but he had to understand the degree of the disaster he was creating. "If you can't handle the pressure and have the courage to make a decision, then you should just sit in the stands and eat your crisps." Massimiliano Allegri, Juventus coach "I have a bitter taste as we didn't have the chance to go to extra time. "Small details changed the whole tie unfortunately. I had two more substitutions planned for extra time and I was confident we could do it. "The first leg had given me confidence we could do this and the side deserved at least extra time. To cry right now is useless." Giorgio Chiellini, Juventus defender "It shouldn't be surprising, Bayern Munich went through it last year and this was Juve's turn. "Between the first leg and this one, just about everything happened. It's laughable that the Italian refereeing designator said things are going well in the Champions League. "Nobody thought we could turn it around, but we believed and it'll help us for the next Champions League campaigns. It'll be an objective for the future. "It wasn't an issue of VAR, because the referee still needs to have courage and a conscience.The referee must try to be less of a protagonist and give only clear-cut decisions. "You could tell at the time it wasn't a penalty, but seeing the footage back it's just laughable. We must remember that we beat Real Madrid 3-0 on their own turf and only a crazy person would've believed that going in. "We could've scored five or six goals, so we ought to be proud. We want to win the seventh Scudetto." Medhi Benatia, Juventus defender "We are sad, because we played the game we wanted to and last year the same thing happened to Bayern Munich," Benatia told Mediaset Premium. "Real Madrid are a great side, but every time there is a challenge, they get the decision and Cristiano Ronaldo scores. "I went around Vazquez and got the ball. He just went down because he had nothing else to do at that point. You can see the ball bounce off my foot and change direction. Going out to a penalty like that is absurd. "The referee needs to explain the rules, because if the captain can't even talk to the referee after a penalty is awarded, then who can? "We are the victims of this situation, but we're very proud of what we did tonight." Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid forward “Lucas Vazquez was fouled from behind and I think it was a clear penalty. Benatia and the rest of Juventus defenders were really aggressive during the whole game. That’s how they play. Today we could have scored two more but they denied us. We deserved to go through.” “I tried to remain calm before the kick-off. My heart was beating more than usual but I knew my penalty kick would have been decisive. Thanks god I scored. We are all very happy even if we suffered a lot. I have to admit that. This must teach us a lesson. Never give up in football and fight till the end.” Zinedine Zidane, Real Madrid coach "It was a penalty, they've told me it was a penalty. I didn't see it. The ref awarded it and we can't change that, but I think it was a penalty. "Cristiano is used to these situations. He doesn't feel pressure. He scored the penalty and we got the win. "There is nothing left to say. We're in the semi-finals and we're happy with that. They played well but we were just average, the difference is we kept believing until the end. We deserved to go through to the semi-finals over the course of the tie and we can be pleased with that. "It wasn't a strange game, but we didn't expect to concede in the first minute. When that happens, heads drop and the opposition gain in confidence. They approached the game in the right way and we didn't. We had problems controlling the game. "I knew we would be up against it, but I didn't expect what happened in the first minute. We knew that we'd have to dig in against a side that put in a great performance and that press high up the pitch. "I didn't see us going out because I'm a positive person. I told my players we were going to be troubled, that it would be tricky." Lucas Vazquez, Real Madrid winger "Yes, it was a penalty. "When I went to hit the ball the centre-back arrived from behind and knocked me down. There's no discussion. "It's normal [that Juventus players protested], it was the final minute." Marcelo, Real Madrid full-back "We should face and we did everything possible to go through. "What happened to Barcelona wasn't going to happen to us because we're Real Madrid." Share your thoughts about this reaction feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  16. Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has been charged with improper conduct by UEFA and being sent to the stands in the Champions League defeat to Liverpool. The European governing body has also charged the Reds after fireworks were set off and objects thrown inside the Etihad Stadium. Guardiola was sent to the stands after confronting referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz on the pitch at half-time during the quarter-final second-leg 2-1 defeat. The Spaniard was unhappy with the official's decision to rule out a legitimate second goal for his side, as Leroy Sane was adjudged to have scored from an offside position, despite the ball coming off opposition midfielder James Milner before he prodded home. The improper conduct charge against Guardiola is for communicating with the bench during the second half. Article 69 of UEFA's disciplinary regulations states that any manager or coach who is sent off may not communicate "directly or indirectly with the team's players and/or technical staff during the match". Liverpool were already facing four UEFA charges over the setting off of fireworks, throwing of objects, acts of damage and crowd disturbances after City's team bus was attacked at Anfield prior to the first-leg on 5 April. That case will also be heard on 31 May. Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  17. Although Liverpool's victory over Manchester City in the quarter-finals of the Champions League may have been deemed an underdog victory by some, the big story on Tuesday night was Roma producing a stunning comeback to knock Barcelona out of the competition. Barca were heavy favourites to progress after a 4-1 first-leg win at the Nou Camp, but fell apart to Roma's brilliant showing at the Stadio Olimpico as the Giallorossi levelled the tie to 4-4 with a 3-0 win and progressed on away goals. Edin Dzeko struck early to give Roma hope and Daniele de Rossi added a second-half penalty, before defender Kostas Manolas scored the crucial third goal, heading in at the near post with eight minutes remaining. Football Manics takes a look at some of the post-match reaction from a historic night in the Eternal City. Ernesto Valverde, Barcelona head coach "We had no response, everything went for them and for us we struggled to build our play. "I am responsible absolutely; I am the visible head of the team and it was down to me. With their pressure it forced us to knock balls long, we became disjointed and we were not able to win the second ball. "When you lose and the opposition are better then the analysis is often extreme. They were strong, physical and we had a lot of problems. Seasons are long and to win a competition is not easy, with only one winning. "We know how disappointing this will be for the fans and us, we wanted to play a semi final, this is football. Everyone is now affected by this but we need to bounce back because we have two competitions that we want to win." Josep Maria Bartomeu, Barcelona president "I'm really sorry. Roma were the better team on the pitch. Roma believed and showed that when you try hard, you can achieve your objectives. "Of course [this defeat] affects us, but we have some important games coming up and the players will recover. This team are always prepared to win on all fronts, be it with Ernesto Valverde or another coach. "We fight to win everything every season, but tonight it wasn't to be." Sergio Busquets, Barcelona midfielder "It's a very tough night, a sad night and one to forget. We need to apologise to the fans for how we have fallen. This is the toughest blow I've received in the whole time I've been at Barca because of how it happened. "I would be lying if I said we could use this as a learning experience because last year we went out in a similar way. Our results in Europe in the last two years have been very bad; we have to change things if we want to win the Champions League again." Andres Iniesta, Barcelona midfielder "That is a possibility (the game being his last in the Champions League) and for that reason it hurts even more. It's a very hurtful elimination because nobody expected it due to the lead we had. "When you do things badly, make lots of mistakes and don't adapt to the game, this is what happens. It's a big disappointment because of the season we were having. It's difficult to take this elimination because we had a lot of hope and it has escaped." Eusebio Di Francesco, Roma head coach "I take the blame for defeats and some ungrateful words on social media, so I may as well take the credit for a win. "The truth is that I made this choice to create more width, allow more counter-attacks and bring speed, but what really changed was the philosophy of the side and we have to continue like this now. "Although we have had very good performances in Serie A, we are only now reaping the rewards -- the just rewards -- for the hard work we have done." Daniele De Rossi, Roma captain “What a night. This is a great result for us and for our history. The important thing is that we continue like this. We haven’t accomplished anything yet as there are still many games to go. Even if we lost the first-leg game, we were confident with the way we had played and it showed tonight. “The difference for me was Di Francesco as he helped us play the right way. He changed a lot of things and he got it spot on. I am happy for the coaches and for my team-mates. We did great. This is also very important for me too as I am 34 years old. This win is one of the best I have ever experienced since joining Roma.” Alessandro Florenzi, Roma midfielder “To be honest, we never really felt it was at risk tonight, as Barcelona did nothing to cause us problems. We put in the perfect performance. “Tactically, we were a step above them. If Barcelona don’t get to play the ball to feet and pass it around comfortably, they really struggle.” Edin Dzeko, Roma striker "It wasn't easy, but I stayed here and am very happy to be here. I think the club is glad, too. Let's not talk about [the move]. Money doesn't matter. "This was the best, but even better may well be yet to come. It proved we can play against anyone, as Barcelona are such a strong side. We put three goals past them and could have had more. "I have never seen Barcelona struggle so much. We pressed them constantly from the first minute." Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool manager "I walked up the stairs and someone told me. I thought it was a joke. Not that I don't respect Roma, they are fantastic team. I just wasn't expecting it, but knew it was possible. "They lost Mo Salah and they are in the semis - it's a big thing! This competition is quite fair and I really think a normal final would have been Manchester City against Barcelona, and now they are both out. "But there will still be two other really strong teams in there plus Roma and us. We will see what happens but that's not the thing I have to think about right now." Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  18. Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola thinks his side must play the "perfect game" on Tuesday to overturn a 3-0 deficit in their Champions League quarter-final against Liverpool. The Citizens go into the second leg after back-to-back defeats by the Reds and derby rivals Manchester United in what Guardiola described as a "tough" week. "The only way to play good football is to be positive," the Spaniard told BBC Sport. "To go through you have to make the perfect game, create chances and concede few chances. The chances we receive, we have to defend well. "We have 90 minutes and anything can happen. All we are going to do is try. "We have 90 minutes plus extra time and what we have shown this year - even in the last game - is we can create a lot of chances in the last few minutes. "If we are not able to cope with (back-to-back defeats) psychologically, it will be a good lesson for the future. It is a test. Football, like life, is a challenge." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  19. Jurgen Klopp has warned his Liverpool players that Manchester City are capable of producing a "thunderstorm" in their Champions League quarter-final second leg. The Reds are 3-0 up from the first leg, but their manager says City's first-half performance against Manchester United on Saturday - when they raced into a 2-0 lead - shows just what they're capable of. Ahead of Tuesday night's second leg at the Etihad, Klopp said: "I saw the game of City vs United at the weekend. It was one of the best first halves I ever saw. It was like a thunderstorm. "Then, in the second half, after the first goal, one team gains rhythm, another team loses rhythm. The game changes. "I cannot tell the boys: 'Boys! Score early!' Well, I can but I am not sure that it really helps. "We have to think about football: what we have to do, where we have to do it. The boys knew after the (first) game this is half-time. We are in the lead, nothing else. "We are here to not concede and to score to win the game so that is the plan. "It always helps if you know about the problems, you deal with the problems but if we concede a goal nothing changes. We are still in the lead. "It is about doing the right things, staying in the mood where we can bring in our strengths, playing in the right spaces, defending in the right spaces; attacking them in the right spaces. "It would be the same if they were 3-0 up. It wouldn't change anything." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  20. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has confessed that he did not expect to record a 3-0 win over Manchester City in their Champions League quarter-final first leg. The Reds ran out convincing winners in Wednesday's clash at Anfield as Mohamed Salah, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Sadio Mane all struck in the opening 31 minutes of the game. "The result is not what we expected but we needed to play more football in the second half," Klopp told BT Sport. "They did not have a lot of chances but we didn't play much football ourselves. It is only half-time. 3-0 up, good. "First half was brilliant. It was how football should look. We knew about the quality of City but also about our quality as well. If we could control the game better against a team like Man City and not give the ball away we would be closer to them in the league. "We defended the passes really good. But I wanted us to play more football. But I am not angry, it is all good. We lose one player to injury (Salah) and another - the captain (Henderson) - to a yellow card so it does not feel good. Mo said he feels good but we will have to see about that." Klopp also apologised to Man City following the attack on their bus by Reds fans, who left the vehicle unable to be used for the return journey. "I really don't understand it," he said. "There was a lot of talk about it before. We tried everything to prevent a situation like that. When we came here we had to take another way through. When we came through it was obviously very positive but when we were on the bus we didn't know that had happened before. For Liverpool FC I have to say sorry." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  21. Pep Guardiola has suggested that Manchester City did well against Liverpool in their Champions League quarter-final first leg despite the one-sided result. The Premier League champions-elect were beaten 3-0 by the Reds at Anfield, with Mohamed Salah, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Sadio Mane firing the hosts into a three-goal lead by the 31-minute mark. Despite the heavy defeat at Anfield, Guardiola claims that his charges had control of much of the game and is adamant that a comeback could still be on the cards in the second leg at the Etihad. "We showed up from the begining, we started with enormous personality but they scored a goal," he told BT Sport. "We continued to play but they scored two more goals. It is tough. They had 10-15 minutes in the first half when they were better. "In the second half we tried everything but we couldn't find a goal. The first two goals, we had control of the game but they scored. I don't have too many regrets or complaints. Nobody believes but we have another game. "They had two attacks and scored two goals. That was tough but for the rest of the game we were so, so good. We had to score a goal but they defended more. We have to accept it and now we have United at home and then Liverpool at home. We see what happens. Of course it is difficult but we believe." Pep Guardiola also criticised the security arrangements which led to the City team bus being attacked by Liverpool fans ahead of kickoff and left the vehicle unable to be used for the return journey back to Manchester. "Yesterday you explained, I am new here, that it is going to happen," he said. "Normally when the police know it is going to happen, they tried to avoid it from happening. "So I did not expect that from the Liverpool side, their people. One year ago something happened in Dortmund so we come here to play football and I don't understand this kind of situation. "The bus is destroyed but I did not expect a prestigious club like Liverpool doing this kind of thing. It is not Liverpool, it is the people, but hopefully it does not happen again." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  22. Cristiano Ronaldo scored a superb bicycle kick to help Real Madrid hammer Juventus in their own back yard in Tuesday night's Champions League quarter-final first leg in Turin. The Portugal forward made history with the first of his two goals, prodding home Isco's cross to become the first player to score in 10 consecutive Champions League games. Then came one of the great Champions League moments as Dani Carvajal lifted a cross to Ronaldo, who leapt in the air and hit a clean overhead kick which left Gianluigi Buffon motionless. Such was the brilliance of the strike that Juventus fans stood up to applaud the goal that all but destroyed their hopes of reaching the semi-finals. Paulo Dybala was then sent off and Marcelo struck a third for Real to put the La Liga side all but through to the final four, but the game will be remembered for Ronaldo's sublime second strike. Cristiano Ronaldo "Obviously people are talking about the second goal, it was amazing, probably the best of my career. "It was spectacular. I jumped very high and it's a goal that will live long in the memory. "I've been looking to do it for a while, but it depends on the circumstances of the game. It just came to me to give it a go, you always have to try it. I tried it today and it came off. "[The ovation from Juve fans] was one of the most poignant moments of the night. To receive applause from a stadium like this, which has been graced by great players, is a unique experience. "When I was a kid, I liked Juventus and the fact that their fans have clapped me will stay with me." Zinedine Zidane, Real Madrid boss "You can say he's one of the most beautiful players in the history of football. "He shows every time that he is a special player. He always wants to do great things in the Champions League and he never gets tired of doing it, that's his great quality. "Cristiano is in good form at the moment. His team-mates are very happy with him. We need to enjoy tonight, but then think about the hard work ahead of next week because Juve won't give up." Massimiliano Allegri, Juventus boss "I don't know if Cristiano's goal is the best in the history of football, but it's certainly an extraordinary goal. You can only congratulate him for what he's doing at present. "However, I am disappointed about the third goal, because at that point we still could have turned the tie in the second leg. Now it will be impossible." Gianluigi Buffon, Juve goalkeeper "Ronaldo is a player who is at an incredible level. Ronaldo's worth is comparable to (Diego) Maradona, (Lionel) Messi or Pele. My Champions League dream isn't possible because the best have stopped it." Share your thoughts about this feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  23. On Wednesday, Liverpool welcome Manchester City to Anfield looking to reach the Champions League semi-finals for the first time in a decade. Jurgen Klopp's charges are the only team to beat the Citizens in the Premier League this season, a thrilling 4-3 victory back in January. Both teams strolled into the quarter-finals, scoring a combined 10 goals against Porto and Basel in last-16 ties, but one English side must now fall. How could the game pan out? Football Manics takes a closer look. Head to head Liverpool and Man City lock horns for the first time in European competition but obviously there have been plenty of domestic clashes. The two teams have met 178 times overall, with the Merseyside outfit winning 87 of those to City's 45, and they have won both previous two-legged affairs in domestic competition. Stats Liverpool and Man City are the Premier League's top scorers with 75 and 88 respectively. The Reds attacking trident of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah has scored 75 goals in 119 games in all competitions. Meanwhile, City's attacking quarter of Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus have scored 76 goals in 149 games between them. Domestically, Liverpool sit third in the table, with just one defeat in their last eight fixtures (against Man United), and were knocked out in the FA Cup's fourth round to West Bromwich Albion. As for Pep Guardiola's charges, they're just one win away from the PL title (against Man United, no less) but were humbled out of the FA Cup to Wigan Athletic. Team news Liverpool defender Joel Matip will miss the rest of the season with a thigh injury, which means that Dejan Lovren is set to partner Virgil van Dijk in defence. Adam Lallana is also likely to be sidelined for the remainder of the campaign after the midfielder pulled up just five minutes into his return to action against Crystal Palace. Emre Can has struggled with a back problem over the past fortnight, so there may be a chance for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to slot into a three-man midfield alongside former Citizen James Milner. In terms of the visitors, Sergio Aguero has missed the past few weeks with a knee injury and will not be fit in time for the big match. Guardiola will most likely stick with Gabriel Jesus through the middle, flanked by Leroy Sane and ex-Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling. John Stones will return from a concussion layoff but faces an uphill battle getting back into the heart of defence in lieu of either Vincent Kompany or Nicolas Otamendi in the heart of defence. Meanwhile, Oleksandr Zinchenko is expected to deputise at left-back in the absence of Fabian Delph. Prediction Even though both sides boast superb attacking prowess, I'm expecting a really cagey encounter, with tentative, as-error-free-as-possible football likely to be served up. There will be goals, but not many, and I think it'll be on a knife edge, though Man City will have the all-important away goal. Score prediction: 1-1 draw Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  24. Jurgen Klopp has acknowledged that Liverpool are underdogs heading into their Champions League tie with Manchester City. The sides’ last meeting on Merseyside saw the Reds win 4-3 at Anfield in January - the only league defeat Pep Guardiola's side have suffered so far this season. City won the first game between the teams 5-0, when Sadio Mane was sent off at the Etihad back in August. Asked what he had learned from the sides’ two encounters this season, Klopp said: “You should finish the game with 11 men! Be cool! “We know it's difficult. Did we think before the first game we would lose 5-0? No. Did we think before the second game we would win 4-3? No. Do we know we have a chance? Yes, that was clear before. But they are the favourites. “In specific moments, we are on a similar level but they do it much more consistent, that's why they have around 20 points more. No problem with respecting that, but we all know, in that game, it doesn't mean too much. We see our chance but we know it will be unbelievably difficult. “But if I have the choice to watch a Champions League game, I would watch this one. It's about tactics but there will be fire, that's cool, it's at Anfield, so a good atmosphere to watch.” Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  25. Antonio Conte has reiterated that he is not anxious about whether he will be in a job if Chelsea do not qualify for the Champions League. The Blues lost 3-1 to Tottenham at Stamford Bridge, ending a 28-year hoodoo for the North Londoners which put them eight points clear of Conte's side. Conte conceded after the game that a Premier League top four place is improbable and there has been speculation the Italian is heading for a summer exit from the club. When asked if his future was in jeopardy if Chelsea finish out of the Champions League spots, he said: "I don't know, I don't know. I don't know about this, but we didn't speak about a project. "I don't know, you have to ask the club, not me. I repeat, my task is to work, and I know that I work, 24 hours, for Chelsea, me and my staff. "This is our task. Then the club has to take the decision. But I repeat, I am not worried about this." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.

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