Juventus vs Tottenham:

Mauricio Pochettino’s men make the journey to Turin where they will hope to establish a lead in the fight for a place in the quarter-finals

Tottenham resume Champions League action on Tuesday as they travel to Italy to take on Juventus in the first leg of their last-16 tie.

Both sides come into the clash in buoyant form, with Spurs boosted by a derby victory over Arsenal at Wembley over the weekend.

Juventus, meanwhile, have been playing with a ruthlessness that was lacking in their early-season displays and they have not lost a game since last November.


Squads & Team News


Position Juventus players
Goalkeepers Buffon, Pinsoglio, Szczesny
Defenders De Sciglio, Chiellini, Benatia, Sandro, Barzagli, Rugani, Lichtsteiner
Midfielders Pjanic, Khedira, Cuadrado, Marchisio, Costa, Matuidi, Asamoah, Sturaro, Bentancur, Bernardeschi, Merio, Caligara
Forwards Higuain, Dybala, Mandzukic

Juventus are expected to be without a number of key players for the visit of Spurs with Paulo Dybala, Juan Cuadrado and Blaise Matuidi among those carrying injuries. Stephan Lichtsteiner has also been ruled out, while the injured Benedikt Howedes is not in the Champions League squad.

Andrea Barzagli is also a doubt and the defender trained separately to the rest of the squad ahead of the game.

Potential Juventus starting XI: Buffon; Rugani, Chiellini, Benatia, Sandro; Marchisio, Pjanic, Khedira; Bernardeschi, Higuain, Mandzukic.

Position Tottenham players
Goalkeepers Lloris, Vorm, Gazzaniga, Whiteman
Defenders Trippier, Rose, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Sanchez, Aurier, Davies, Walker-Peters
Midfielders Lamela, Wanyama, Dier, Sissoko, Dembele, Alli, Eriksen, Lucas, Winks, Georgiou, Oakley-Boothe
Forwards Son, Kane, Llorente, Sterling

Toby Alderweireld will sit out the game against Juventus as he works to regain full fitness following injury, as will Kyle Walker-Peters.

Juan Foyth and Georges-Kevin N’Koudou are not part of the club’s Champions League panel, but Pochettino has an otherwise full selection to choose from.

Potential Tottenham starting XI: Lloris; Trippier, Vertonghen, Sanchez, Davies; Dembele, Dier, Eriksen, Alli, Son; Kane.

Tottenham’s Champions League exploits this season have forced the rest of Europe to sit up and take notice. Convincing victories over Borussia Dortmund and reigning champions Real Madrid have shown that the Premier League outfit belong at that level and they will be eager to extend their foray into the competition.

Central to any success they might have in the competition will be the likes of Harry Kane, who has surged out in front in the race for the European Golden Shoe, and his supporting cast of Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Heung-Min Son. In those individuals, Pochettino has forged a mesmerising front-four and they are undoubtedly a match for the continent’s elite.

Similarly to Spurs, Juventus have recovered from a wobbly start to the season to surge back into the reckoning domestically and they come into the last-16 match with a 16-game unbeaten streak under their belts. Perhaps even more remarkable is the fact that Massimiliano Allegri’s side have conceded just once in that period and they have won their last 11 games.

Therefore, the encounter between Juve and Spurs is essentially a showdown between Europe’s best strike-force and its best defence – the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object. That would suggest that they will cancel each other out, but, knock-out matches are anything but predictable.

With nearly a month to wait for the second leg – on March 7 – both sides will be doing everything they can to lay down an early marker as they look to ensure their place among the last eight of Europe’s elite.

‘Tottenham star Kane was too chubby for Arsenal!’

The Gunners have been left to rue their decision to part with a striker who has gone on to star for their fierce north London rivals

Harry Kane was released by Arsenal for being “chubby”, Liam Brady has revealed, with the Gunners acknowledging that they were “wrong”.

Kane, who is now starring for north London rivals Tottenham and set to captain England at the 2018 World Cup, was on the Gunners’ books at the age of eight.

He was, however, to be shown the door, leaving him with a chip on his shoulder that made him all the more determined to prove his worth.

Two Golden Boots and more than 100 Premier League goals have seen him do just that, with a former Director of the Arsenal Youth Academy conceding that a poor judgement call was made on Kane in his younger years.

Brady told Corriere della Sera: “He was chubby, not very athletic and we were wrong.

“But even Tottenham loaned him three or four times to teams in the lower divisions. But with his determination, he is building a great career. And he deserves it.”

Kane is now considered to be not just a leading light of the English top-flight, but a striker who enjoys a standing alongside the great and good of the global game.

“That boy has a character that drives him to always improve,” added Brady.

“After [Lionel] Messi, [Cristiano] Ronaldo and [Robert] Lewandowski there is him. The numbers say it. And he’s only 24 years old.”

Kane will be looking to cement such a standing in his next outing for Spurs, as he prepares to grace a Champions League stage once more.

Serie A giants Juventus block Tottenham’s European path in the last 16, but former Bianconeri star Brady believes Mauricio Pochettino’s side should enter the contest with no fear.

He said: “Juve are not favourites, it’s 50-50.

“Tottenham are well organised, they have a good coach and three great forwards in [Christian] Eriksen, [Dele] Alli and Kane. You need to stop them in midfield to prevent those three from hurting you.

“Does Juve’s attack convince me? Not completely, because I think we’ve already seen the best of [Gonzalo] Higuain. It’s hard for him to make the difference in Europe, he’s too static.”

Zidane already knows who he will pick to face PSG

While his counterpart has indicated he does not know who will make up his team against the Spanish giants, the Madrid boss is sure of his side

Zinedine Zidane has already decided on the team he will select for Real Madrid’s Champions League home tie with Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday.

Madrid warmed up for the last-16 first leg with a 5-2 demolition of Real Sociedad at the Santiago Bernabeu in La Liga on Saturday, Cristiano Ronaldo scoring his first club hat-trick of the campaign.

Zidane left Casemiro out of his squad, while Luka Modric was withdrawn for the final half-hour and Gareth Bale was given 17 minutes from the bench.

But Ronaldo played the full 90 minutes as Zidane instead took off youngsters Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez, who headed a first-minute opener from Ronaldo’s left-wing cross.

“I know [the XI], but we will see on Wednesday,” Zidane told reporters, after Unai Emery suggested he was unsure over the make-up of his PSG selection.

“Everyone is ready to play on Wednesday and I do not want to say who will come out.”

Of Madrid blitzing Sociedad by racing into a 4-0 lead before the interval, Zidane added: “The first half was phenomenal, we scored fast, we pushed, we put intensity in.

“Then we controlled the game and made the changes, thinking about the next game, but I’m happy.

“It makes things easy when you score in the first minute. It was the full first half in this way, intense, determined, motivated. It was a good way to prepare for Wednesday’s game.

“We have to correct certain things, especially in the second half, but I am left with the positive side, with the five goals and our start of the game. Wednesday will be another game and we will have to put in another effort.”

While Ronaldo has hit top form in timely fashion ahead of the PSG clash – he has scored more goals in La Liga in 2018 than any other player – Karim Benzema drew another blank.


“The important thing is that he thinks about the next match, which will change his streak.

“You asked me if I was worried about [Ronaldo] and then you have three goals, we know he always wants to score, PSG will have to be careful with him.”

Benzema hit the post in the early stages and missed a fantastic stoppage-time chance to break a seven-game drought in the league, prompting Madrid fans to whistle the French striker.

“I do not know why they whistle him,” Zidane said of Benzema, who has only hit two La Liga goals this term.

“People come to the stadium and can do what they want, he had chances to score and he did not.

‘Every team would love to have De Bruyne’ – Aguero praises Man City team-mate

The Belgian had a hand in three goals as Pep Guardiola’s side ran out big winners, and their four-goal hero was quick to praise his team-mate

Manchester City are lucky to have a star like Kevin De Bruyne at their disposal, team-mate Sergio Aguero said after the attacking midfielder helped orchestrate a 5-1 win over Leicester City on Saturday.

Although Aguero stole the headlines by scoring four times as the Premier League leaders thrashed Claude Puel’s men at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, De Bruyne played a pivotal role with three assists to take his tally to 14 in the English top flight this season.

The 26-year-old has received immense praise for his performances this term,earning comparisons to five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo from team-mate David Silva for having “moved up to another level”.

The Belgium international signed a new contract last month which keeps him tied to the club until 2023, and Aguero feels they are lucky to have the former Chelsea and Wolfsburg star to call upon as he feels he would shine at any team in the world.

“Luckily, Kevin De Bruyne is playing for us, helping us to score,” he told CityTV .

“I’m very happy because most of the goals come from his assists and I just have to hit the ball and obviously I’m very happy for him as well.

“He’s a great player and every team in the world would love to have him.”

Aguero has now scored 21 goals in 22 league games this season, marking the fourth straight campaign in which he has netted at least 20.

The Argentina international hopes City can continue their good form and hold on to their place at the top of the table.

“I’m really happy personally because the goals are helping the team to win and obviously that’s very important,” Aguero said.

“Hopefully we can keep doing the same way.”

City are 16 points ahead of second place Manchester United, who visit Newcastle United on Sunday.

Pep Guardiola’s side face Basel in the second round of the Champions League in their next game before facing Wigan Athletic and Arsenal in the FA and Carabao Cups respectively. They then return to league action on March 1 with an away clash against the Gunners.Source: www.goal.com

Ronaldo and Real Madrid power up in time for PSG and the Champions League

The Portuguese hit a hat-trick for Los Blancos in an excellent 5-2 win over Real Sociedad, a timely return to form ahead of Wednesday’s European exam

“Thank you fans. On Wednesday night, the king of Europe is back.” That was the message from the stadium announcer on the loudspeaker after Real Madrid thrashed Real Sociedad 5-2 at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday evening. Reason to believe again, perhaps, for those supporters.

Real Madrid are a different beast in the European Cup and so too is Cristiano Ronaldo. Los Blancos have won the continental competition 12 times in their history and the Portuguese has played his part in the last three.

Last season, Ronaldo was struggling for goals in the Champions League, but hit 10 from the quarter-finals onwards, including two in the final against Juventus, as Madrid claimed La Duodécima in Cardiff.

This term, it is in La Liga where the Portuguese has not been himself, netting only four times in the first 18 games. However, he has rediscovered his form recently and hit a hat-trick on Saturday to make it seven in the second part of the competition already – more than any other player.

“He’s extra motivated this season,” coach Zinedine Zidane said of Ronaldo in Friday’s pre-match press conference. “He wants to show what he is capable of. I’m not concerned, I’m not worried. He is an outstanding footballer.”

And he added: “There have been some times this season when he hasn’t been able to get on the scoresheet but he is there when needed. On the big stage, he performs.”

That much is true and Ronaldo is of course the all-time top scorer in the Champions League, as well as the leading marksman in the continental competition so far this season.

Madrid came through their Champions League group in second place after losing to Tottenham and were handed a tough last-16 draw against in-form French side Paris Saint-Germain. The first leg takes place at the Bernabeu on Wednesday night, with the return at the Parc des Princes on March 6.

While PSG will be desperate to prove themselves in Europe after last season’s second-leg collapse against Barcelona in the last 16, Real Madrid will be playing for their season in this tie.

Los Blancos’ win on Saturday sees them move into third place in La Liga ahead of Valencia’s game against Levante on Sunday, but the defending champions are 16 points behind league leaders Barcelona (in action at home to Getafe on Sunday) and already out of the race.

Zidane’s side, winners of five trophies in an impressive 2017, are also out of the Copa del Rey following a disastrous defeat at home to Leganes in the quarter-finals in January, so the Champions League assumes even greater importance this time around.

PSG, meanwhile, lead Ligue 1 by 12 points from last season’s champions Monaco after beating Toulouse 1-0 away from home on Saturday and Unai Emery’s side have scored an impressive 126 goals in all competitions this term.

‘Neymar will not go to Real Madrid’ – PSG director makes bold prediction

Luis Fernandez, the head of the Ligue 1 side’s academy, believes the Brazilian is committed to a long-term project and will shun interest from Spain

Neymar is still being heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid, but Paris Saint-Germain academy director Luis Fernandez has boldly predicted that the Brazilian “will not go”.

Having left La Liga for Ligue 1 in the summer of 2017, speculation suggests that a return journey could be made some 12 months on from a record-breaking €222 million transfer.

With those at Santiago Bernabeu planning a squad overhaul on the back of a disappointing campaign, former Barcelona star Neymar is considered to fit the ‘Galactico’ mould.

PSG, though, have no intention of selling and have been quick to talk up the 26-year-old’s happiness in France, with Fernandez the latest to play down reports of a one-season stint at Parc des Princes.

He told Cadena SER: “I’ll stick my neck out, because Neymar will not go to Real Madrid.

“If PSG went after Neymar and [Kylian] Mbappe then it was for them to stay here, not for them to leave.

“Neymar is the star of PSG.

“He is very happy, very comfortable here with his team-mates.

“When you see him play, you don’t see what is being reported. He is eager to succeed here.

“There were reports that he had a problem with [Edinson] Cavani but those are just stories and you can see on the pitch by how they play together [and] how they pass each other the ball that this is not true.

“All of his team-mates and everyone knows that Neymar is the top player and that is how it is. I see Neymar being the one that guides the team, that triumphs here.”

Neymar has been a big hit in France, with 27 goals netted in 26 appearances to date.

That haul has already topped his return from a final campaign at Camp Nou, when he found the target 20 times.

There is the promise of plenty more to come, with PSG still challenging for Ligue 1, Coupe de la Ligue and Champions League honours – with a last-16 meeting with Real providing the next hurdle to overcome in European competition.

Source: www.goal.com

Ronaldo backed by Ancelotti to lead Real Madrid’s challenge for Champions League three-peat

Zinedine Zidane’s struggling Blancos have endured a humbling domestic campaign, but they remain in the hunt for a third successive European crown

Cristiano Ronaldo’s all-encompassing desire to win can help Real Madrid to a third successive Champions League crown, says Carlo Ancelotti.

The Blancos find themselves in an unfortunate position which sees European glory providing the only path to major silverware this season.

A humbling domestic campaign has seen the defending La Liga champions slip 19 points off the pace in the 2017-18 title race, while also exiting the Copa del Rey at the hands of giant-killing Leganes.

Another continental crown does, however, remain up for grabs and Ancelotti believes that a forgettable season for Real and star turns such as Ronaldo can be salvaged by securing a fourth success in the space of five dominant years.

The man who helped Madrid to La Decima in 2014 told Corriere dello Sport: “[Real Madrid] reacted well against Valencia.

“I don’t think they are in crisis. The only competition that Real Madrid can now win is the Champions League, so they will focus on that.

“We must be aware of what [Zinedine] Zidane does in the Champions League.

“If they beat [Unai] Emery [and PSG], it will be difficult to stop them because they have a player in their squad who never wants to lose: Cristiano Ronaldo.”

Ronaldo has managed just eight La Liga goals this season as Real have slipped into a top-four tussle, but he has contributed nine goals in six Champions League outings.

He will be the man Zidane looks to for inspiration once again when European action resumes at the last-16 stage.

In order for the Blancos to remain in contention for another continental triumph, they will first have to negotiate a testing two-legged tie with Ligue 1 heavyweights Paris Saint-Germain.

While Ancelotti believes they are capable of doing that, he has also acknowledged the strength of another of his former clubs who have spent big in the pursuit of major honours.

The Italian added: “PSG have everything to win the Champions League.

“They have Neymar and [Kylian] Mbappe.

“They have more experience and quality than they had last year. They are more mature and dangerous.”

PSG fell at the last-16 stage last season, in a thrilling contest with Barcelona, and have failed to make it beyond the quarter-finals since rejoining the European elite in 2012-13. 

Andres Iniesta ‘Not Worried’ About Losing Barcelona Place Despite Coutinho’s Arrival

Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta insisted that he isn’t worried about losing his place in the starting lineup despite the arrival of Philippe Coutinho.

At 33, Iniesta already has a long and illustrious career for both the Catalan side and the national team, winning seven La Liga titles, four Champions Leagues, two European Championships and a World Cup among others for Barcelona and Spain.

The arrival of Coutinho for £142m this week however could suggest Barcelona are readying the heir for Iniesta’s throne, but the Spaniard claims he is just focusing on his own performances and wants what is best for the team.

Iniesta told Marca: “I’m a club player and I’ve always said that anyone we have has to be the best and he’s one of the best.

“I’m not [worried or thinking about] retirement or losing my place in the team, that’s not an issue for me and I want us to achieve our goals together.

“The coach will decide who plays but I feel good and I’m doing well. There will be no problems between teammates.”

Barcelona have been in imperious form this season as they sit top of La Liga table, unbeaten and nine points ahead of second-placed Atletico Madrid, and remain one of the favorites for the Champions League despite a tough last-16 tie against Chelsea.

Iniesta himself has been a key part of Barcelona’s early form under Ernesto Valverde, and believes that the arrival of Coutinho can help make them even stronger in the second half of the season.


He continued: “Coutinho coming in doesn’t affect me. He is one more player, another teammate and what’s good for the club is good for everyone.

“He’s an innate talent and he has come to this club to continue developing and improving as a player. He’s one of the best in his position and his profile is the kind of player we like here.”