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This is Our Only Chance, Says United’s Ander Herrera



“Effort and dedication aren’t negotiable,” Manchester United’s Ander Herrera, Sports Village Square gathered, has told uefa media outlet. The Manchester United’s all-action midfielder is determined to leave no stone unturned in their bid to beat Ajax in the UEFA Europa League final.

Hear him: “It’s a pivotal game for us, for our ambition to play in the Champions League next season. It’s also a European trophy, an important one. It has been a long time since United last won a European trophy and the Europa League is the only competition the club haven’t won yet.

“All this makes it a very important game for us, but the same goes for Ajax. I’ll do everything I can to bring the trophy back to Manchester, while also remaining aware of Ajax’s qualities and not underestimating them.

“The trophy’s a very heavy one? I don’t even want to think about it – it could be bad luck. I prefer to think that we are going to face a good team and that we need to perform to our best to win the final. I prefer not to think about the trophy. Would I touch it before the game? No chance.”

  On the opposition, Herrera remarked: “I’m sure they are as excited as we are. We respect them, because they have performed well so far and because they have very talented players. They are a very dynamic and attack-minded team.


“They are also a club with great history and clubs like this make finals even more special. Ajax and United are European giants, so it will be a very attractive game for everyone.”

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Football fans across Europe and the rest of the world will set their focus on the UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland where the draws for the continent’s club competitions will be conducted. That of the elite Champions League will be held from noon local time (same time in Nigeria), followed by the Europa League’s an hour later.

Expecting is high. Which “big” club face-off? And which less-fancied side take on a “giant”?

For the Champions League, the eight group winners will be seeded and host the second leg of their respective Round of 16 tie, while the 12 group winners in the Europa League group phase plus four best third-ranked teams in the Champions League group stage are the top teams in that second tier competition’s Round of 32 draw.

Seeded teams in the Champions League are:

  • Real Madrid, record 13-time winners of the competition, including being champions of the last three editions
  • Bayern München, five-time champions, the last time being in 2013
  • Barcelona, also five-time winners, 2015 being the last time
  • Juventus, twice winners (1985 and 1996)
  • FC Porto, champions in 1987 and 2004
  • Borussia Dortmund, who won it in 1997
  • Manchester City, semi-finalists in 2016 when Real Madrid triumphed 1-0 aggregate
  • Paris Saint-Germaine, who have never advanced beyond the Round of 16

In the unseeded hat will be the runners-up of the group stage:

  • Liverpool, winners on five occasions, the last being 2005
  • AFC Ajax, four-time champions, including three successive victories from 1971
  • Manchester United, champions in 1968, 1999 and 2008
  • Atlético Madrid, who were in the finals of 1974, 2014 and 2016, losing the last two to cross-town team Real Madrid
  • AS Roma, losing finalists to Liverpool in 1984
  • Tottenham Hotspur, twice quarterfinalists (2011 and 2013)
  • Olympique Lyonnais, quarterfinalists in 2005 and 2006
  • Schalke 04, quarterfinalists in 2008

By the rules, teams that featured in the same group or are of the same federation will avoid themselves in the Round of 16.

Possible opposition:

Liverpool’s opposition will come from Barcelona, Bayern München, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus, FC Porto or Real Madrid

Previous meetings
Barcelona P8 W3 D3 L2 F6 A6
Bayern P7 W2 D4 L1 F9 A7
Dortmund P5 W2 D2 L1 F8 A6
Juventus P6 W2 D1 L3 F4 A5
Porto P6 W3 D3 L0 F12 A2
Real Madrid P6 W3 D0 L3 F7 A7

AFC Ajax will challenge either Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus, Manchester City, ParisSaint-Germaine, FC Porto or Real Madrid

Previous meetings
Barcelona P4 W1 D0 L3 F3 A10
Dortmund P4 W2 D0 L2 F4 A5
Juventus P12 W2 D4 L6 F9 A15
Manchester City P2 W1 D1 L0 F5 A3
PSG P2 W0 D1 L1 F2 A4
Porto P6 W1 D1 L4 F2 A6
Real Madrid P12 W4 D1 L7 F10 A24


Manchester United will go up against Barcelona, Bayern München, Borussia Dortmund, FC Porto, Real Madrid or ParisSaint-Germaine

Previous meetings
Barcelona P11 W3 D4 L4 F15 A20
Bayern P11 W2 D5 L4 F13 A16
Dortmund P6 W3 D1 L2 F13 A5
Porto P8 W3 D3 L2 F14 A11
Real Madrid P11 W2 D4 L5 F17 A22

PSG No previous meeting

Atlético Madrid may face either Bayern München, Juventus, FC Porto, Paris Saint-Germaine or Manchester City

Previous meetings
Bayern P6 W2 D1 L3 F4 A8
Juventus P7 W2 D1 L4 F7 A10
Porto P8 W3 D3 L2 F8 A9


PSG No previous meeting

Manchester City No previous meeting

AS Roma will square up against either Barcelona, Bayern München, Borussia Dortmund, Manchester City,FC Porto or Paris Saint-Germaine

Previous meetings
Barcelona P6 W2 D2 L2 F10 A12
Bayern P6 W1 D0 L5 F5 A17
Dortmund P2 W1 D0 L1 F1 A2
Manchester City P2 W0 D1 L1 F1 A3
Porto P4 W0 D2 L2 F1 A6

PSG No previous meeting


Tottenham Hotspur will be up against Bayern München, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus, FC Porto, Real Madrid orParis Saint-Germaine

Previous meetings
Bayern P4 W1 D1 L2 F4 A6
Dortmund P4 W2 D0 L2 F6 A7
Juventus P2 W0 D1 L1 F3 A4
Porto P2 W1 D1 L0 F3 A1
Real Madrid P6 W1 D2 L3 F4 A8

PSG No previous meeting

Olympique Lyonnais will take on either Barcelona, Bayern München, Juventus, FC Porto, Real Madrid or Borussia Dortmund

Previous meetings
Barcelona P6 W0 D2 L4 F7 A16
Bayern P8 W2 D2 L4 F9 A11
Juventus P4 W0 D1 L3 F2 A5
Porto P4 W0 D1 L3 F2 A8
Real Madrid P10 W3 D4 L3 F11 A14


Dortmund No previous meeting

Schalke 04 will encounter either Barcelona, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germaine, Real Madrid or Juventus

Previous meetings
Barcelona P2 W0 D0 L2 F0 A2
Manchester City P3 W1 D0 L2 F2 A7
PSG P1 W1 D0 L0 F3 A1
Real Madrid P4 W1 D0 L3 F6 A11

Juventus No previous meeting

The first leg of these matches will hold next February 12, 13, 19 and 20, while the reverse fixtures come up on March 5, 6, 12 and 13.


The Champions League final will be stage at Estadio Metropolitano in Madrid on Saturday, June 1.

In the Europa League draw for the Round of 32, the seeded teams in former European champions Inter Milan, Benfica, Chelsea, Eintracht Frankfurt and Napoli.

Other top seeds are: Bayer Leverkusen, Red Bull Salzburg, Zenit Saint Petersburg, Dinamo Zagreb, Arsenal, Real Betis, Villarreal, Genk, Sevilla, Dynamo Kyiv and Valencia

The unseeded teams are: FC Zürich, Celtic, SK Slavia Prague, Fenerbahçe, Sporting CP, Olympiacos, Rapid Wien, Lazio, Malmö FF, FC Krasnodar, StadeRennais, FC BATE Borisov, Club Brugge, Galatasaray, Shakhtar Donetsk andFC Viktoria Plzeň

According to the rules, no club will be drawn against a team that played in their group or a side from their own national association.


But any other restrictions will be announced ahead of the draw.

Seeded group winners are away in the first legs on February 14, 2019, while Return matches hold on a week later.

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FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, is ready to use the harshest to the players participating in European Super League, should the competition come into being.


According to Spanish publication, Tribuna, the FIFA president is quoted as saying: “Either you are in or you are out,” saying further that the players of the breakaway teams would be excluded from the World Cup, European Championship and national leagues.  “This includes everything.


“People are still quite reasonable. I trust certainly the club owners and presidents to be able to have a discussion.”

“The idea is if you break away, you break away – you don’t keep one foot in and one foot out,” FIFA’s legal director, Alasdair Bell, added.


“That would be the general approach we would follow, but of course lawyers can debate this for a long time.”


The latest revelations by Der Spiegel and Football Leaks confirmed that the official representatives from Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Arsenal and Milan have all signed a document to establish a new competition, Super League.


Naturally, they have allacted behind the backs of the main football governing association, UEFA.


The plan of Super League is as follows: eleven clubs are considered to be ‘the founding fathers’; unable to be relegated. These are Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Chelsea, Arsenal, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City, Liverpool and Milan.


Another five clubs – Inter, AS Roma, Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Olympique Marseille – would be ‘invited’ to participate in the 16-club new competition.


Infantino has also offered his counter idea: the Club World Cup. “The Club World Cup is the answer to any attempt to even think about any sort of breakaway leagues,” he said.


He believes that his plan, featuring at least 12 European clubs in a 24-team line-up and worth $3bn every four years, was a good alternative to a closed league.


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Giroud Scores 100th goal for Arsenal



Olivier Giroud has scored his 100th goal for Arsenal against BATE Borisov on Thursday, becoming the 19th player in club history to hit the milestone.
The 30-year-old French striker converted a 49th-minute penalty to hand the Gunners a 4-1 lead in Belarus, giving him a century goals in 238 matches in all competitions since joining the club from Montpellier in 2012.
It was Giroud’s second goal in nine appearances this campaign having been kept out of the regular starting XI by Alexandre Lacazette.
He rejected the opportunity to leave the club for Everton over the summer but continues to find opportunities hard to come by.

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