Month: February 2018

Roberto Firmino: Liverpool will make Porto suffer

Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino says that the Reds could make Porto “suffer” in their Champions League last-16 first-leg tie.

The Merseyside club will play against the Portuguese club at the Estadio do Dragao in Liverpool’s first match in the knockout stages of the competition since 2008-09, after topping their group by scoring 23 goals, a record for an English club and a total surpassed only by Paris St-Germain’s tally of 25.

They were also one of four teams to remain unbeaten in this season’s Champions League group stages, alongside Tottenham Hotspurs, FC Barcelona and Besiktas.

“I don’t know if Porto are going to be afraid but we are going to make their life difficult and make them suffer,” said Firmino, who has scored 20 goals in all competitions, including six in the Champions League.

Midfielder Emre Can is suspended for the tie, although defender Joe Gomez has travelled with the squad after missing the last two matches with a knee injury and £75m record-signing Virgil van Dijk is also set for his first appearance in the competition for the club.

Keeper Loris Karius will be also be starting ahead of Simon Mignolet

Liverpool manager Klopp insists his side can compete with the continent’s elite after having beaten “Europe’s strongest football team” Manchester City 4-3 in the Premier League in January.

“I know it already, we can compete with them, I don’t have to look at them,” Klopp said. “Now we have to show that we are not only part of the competition, we are quite ambitious. That is how it is and we have to take it seriously.”

Pep Guardiola: Kevin de Bruyne needs trophies to win Ballon d’Or

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says that team playmaker Kevin de Bruyne needs to win “lots of titles, especially the Champions League” to win the Ballon d’Or.

Belgium international de Bruyne made three assists in City’s 5-1 victory over Leicester on Saturday, taking total in the league this season to 14, four more than the next best player, his club teammate Leroy Sane.

However, while Guardiola is certain that it would be difficult to find anyy other player performing as well across Europe, that de Bruyne would first have to gather more accolades to his resume before he is to win football’s top individual award — a title dominated by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo every year since 2008.

“No doubt,” said Guardiola. “He is not (just doing it in) one game. It’s the whole season, every three days playing that way. Every three days.”

“But he knows and everyone knows, to be there you have to win titles – and titles and titles, especially one. But the way he’s played it’s difficult to find one (better) in Europe.”

When asked if the ‘one’ title he was referring to was the Champions League, Guardiola said: “Of course. You have to be there in the latter stages. Without the latter stages you will not be nominated.”

Although Bruyne has now provided 18 assists for his team-mates in all competitions this season but the Belgian insists that he is not interested in individual praise.

“I am doing what I have to do,” the 26-year-old said. “It is something you reflect on after you get something like that. I am not busy with that before.”

“I do everything to win titles with the team. What happens after is an extra. I am very pleased with the way everything is going for me. I am playing this way because the team is playing this way. It makes it easier for me, it makes it easier for them.”

“At the end, if you get an individual honour, it is beautiful.”

Claude Puel: Riyad Mahrez not available against Manchester City

Claude Puel has said Riyad Mahrez will maintain his self-imposed exile not play for Leicester at Manchester City on Saturday.

Mahrez, 26, has not trained or played since a move to the Etihad Stadium fell through on deadline day of the January transfer window.

The Algerian international, who scored 35 goals and contributed 24 assists in 127 top-flight appearances, has handed in a transfer request but the Foxes had refused to hear any interest in the player before the transfer deadline.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference on Thursday, Puel said that he believes that Mahrez, who he describes as “magnificent” will remain unavailable.

“I think Riyad is not available for Saturday’s game. I hope Riyad can get his head right and come back with us and work hard. The best way is for him to come back and enjoy his football.”

“He is a magnificent player and he enjoys his football. He loves his team-mates, and that’s important. He loves to touch the football but he needs to come back right. I hope he can come back with a good attitude and prepared to work, but he will need time and time to be match-fit.”

“It’s important this remains inside the club and private, not in the public,” Puel added. “The most important thing for me is to keep Riyad and the club and the fans united and in a good way about this. It is important to keep a good feeling together through these difficulties.”

On the other hand, Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has suggested that Manchester City would keep tabs on the forward despite Leicester having being ununderstood to have been demanding as much £95m as a bare minimum.

Prediction:

Manchester City 3 – 1 Leicester City