Tag Archives: UEFA

International Top Scorers Quiz

As the international break starts to come to a close, it has allowed us to look back on just how blessed some countries have been over the years when it comes to football.

Some countries have seen their best player ever, some their best playmaker, some their best defender and some their best ever goalscorer.

I’ve put together a short quiz to see how well you know your all-time top goalscorers for these footballing nations. Let me know what you get in the comments or over on Twitter!

FIFA Should Be Held Responsible For Meaningless Friendlies Leading To Injury

In an already packed football schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the last thing anyone needs or wants is pointless friendlies.

Yet FIFA have insisted that an extra international match be thrown into the schedule for fun, whether teams want it or not.

The vast majority of sides have been forced to take part in a friendly game during this break, to go with the two ‘competitive’ fixtures in the UEFA Nations League too. Those pointless games have led to Toni Kroos speaking out against UEFA and FIFA, while Premier League defenders Joe Gomez and Nathan Ake picked up injuries.

Gomez is now potentially due to miss the rest of the season with a serious knee injury, while Ake picked up a hamstring injury just 6 minutes into Holland’s 1-1 draw with Spain. Kroos’ comments came before the injuries but they still hold a lot of weight.

Unfortunately we players don’t decide these things. We’re just puppets of FIFA and UEFA. If there were a players’ union we wouldn’t play in the Nations League or a Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia. These competitions are intended to absorb everything financially, and squeeze players physically too. Everything doesn’t have to be more, faster, more money.

Liverpool had their injury problems already and will now be without a key player in their squad during a tough season that is packed with games, through absolutely no fault of their own.

This comes after much talk about the substitution rule in the Premier League, where clubs decided to go against Europe and stick with just three substitutes per game instead of going up to five.

In the same way that FIFA have forced the Premier League to adapt their offside and handball rules this season to be in line with the rest of the continent, they should be putting player welfare at the top of their list and ensure everyone takes the five subs rule too.

They can ditch the friendlies too and show that Toni Kroos is wrong and they’re not interested in money over player welfare. Protect these players. Give them a break, physically and mentally. The extra few days a month without a game could prevent so much pain going forward.

FIFA need to take responsibility for the game they run. Look after the players during this crazy time, they’re humans before they’re footballers.

Champions League Group Stage Predictions – Manchester City

After an inconsistent start to the season so far, Manchester City look to excel beyond previous seasons to finally win a Champions League tournament.

Pep Guardiola is in his fifth season at the club now, his longest spell at any club during his career and yet it comes off a relatively poor campaign. City finished a massive 18 points behind league winners Liverpool, while crashing out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage against Lyon where they were expected to be real contenders to win the whole tournament.

They enter this years tournament with similar expectations and with a relatively easy group once again they will be expected to qualify to the next round comfortably.

Ederson is the guaranteed starter in goal, with his distribution key to the approach that Guardiola insists his side take part in. In defence, Kyle Walker and Aymeric Laporte seem to be automatic choices to start when fit while the club brought in Ruben Dias from Benfica for a club record £65 million. João Cancelo is also a fantastic option in defence, but Guardiola tends to opt for naturally left-footed players in the left-back position which lends itself to either Nathan Ake or Benjamin Mendy taking that role.

My Best XI: Ederson; Walker, Laporte, Dias, Cancelo; Rodri, De Bruyne, Foden; Mahrez, Aguero, Sterling.

In midfield, Rodri and Fernandinho battle it out for the holding midfield position. As the deepest midfielder, they are tasked with starting attacks but also with ensuring the side don’t get counter-attacked against when they lose the ball. Alongside them will almost always be Kevin De Bruyne, partnered by one of Bernardo Silva, Ilkay Gundogan or Phil Foden. The creativity, passing range and dribbling ability of all of them mean that City always have an outlet from deeper positions to break lines against a low block while also all possessing somewhat of a goal threat.

In attack, when everyone is fit the team picks itself. Sergio Aguero will almost always lead the line over Gabriel Jesus, while Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling will occupy the wide positions as Ferran Torres, Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden offer cover.

With a group containing Portuguese champions FC Porto, Marseille and Olympiacos, Manchester City are the firm favourites to progress.

I spoke with Manchester City fan Mak, a member of podcast ‘Blame It On The VAR’ on his thoughts of his sides group stage and what he predicts will happen.

Episode 16 – Martial law Blame it On The Var Podcast

Talking last weekend's results, midweek CL games and the form of Anthony Martial.
  1. Episode 16 – Martial law
  2. Episode 15 – The special one
  3. Episode 14 – Draft day
  4. BOTV Quiz Episode 1 – Denzel vs Lyes
  5. Episode 13 – The Theatre Of Nightmares

I think City will comfortably win their group and they should get it wrapped up with a game or two to spare. I’m glad the draw is somewhat different playing the likes of Porto and Olympiacos instead of the usual draw against Shakhtar. I expect City to comfortably win this group and amass 16 points in the process.

Having seen Manchester City’s performances this season, it’s easy to disagree with Mak on this occasion but when you look at the teams they’re coming up against, he’s likely not far off being correct.

Despite the issues they’ve shown defensively, especially against Leicester in the 5-2 defeat, going forward they have still scored goals this season and the teams in their group just aren’t strong enough defensively to be able to cope. They may concede some goals in the process, but they have more than enough firepower going forward to blow these teams out of the water and take the points needed to claim qualification early.


Mak is a Manchester City fan who is a regular member of the ‘Blame It On The VAR’ podcast, which is available every week.

You can follow Blame It On The VAR on Twitter:
@BOTVPod

You can follow Mak on Twitter:
@JudasFan1

Manchester United Show Their Strengths In Huge Win Over PSG

Manchester United returned to the scene of their biggest win under Ole Gunnar Solskjær and did it again as another late Marcus Rashford goal gave the Reds a 2-1 win in Paris.

United took the lead in the first half from the penalty spot, after Anthony Martial was brought down by Abdou Diallo. Bruno Fernandes stepped up and saw his initial penalty saved by Keylor Navas, but the referee ordered a retake after VAR declared that the goalkeeper had come off his line. Fernandes stepped up again and put the penalty in the same place, this time sending Navas the wrong way.

As the game continued, Manchester United had chances to extend their lead while PSG struggled to break down a side that has already conceded 12 goals in the Premier League so far this season. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Axel Tuanzebe turned in monstrous performances to shut Neymar and Kylian Mbappe out for the most part, while PSG’s midfield struggled to create anything from deep.

Paris Saint Germain v Manchester United - UEFA Champions League : News Photo

The Parisians got their break early in the second half when a corner from Neymar was inadvertently headed into his own goal by striker Anthony Martial, and PSG were on top at that point. Ole then changed the formation, bringing on Paul Pogba for debutant Alex Telles and switched to a back-four which caused United to start creating chances once again. Paul Pogba created three chances in 23 minutes, a match high, including the assist for Marcus Rashford’s winner. A short pass on the edge of the box from Pogba saw Rashford control the ball, shift it past Danilo Pereira and then slam a strike in off the far post.

It was nothing less than Manchester United deserved from their performance on the night, where they created the better chances and outright flattened the attacking oomph that PSG possessed in their front three.

Credit has to go to Ole Gunnar Solskjær for the performance too. I’ve been critical of the Norwegian in the past and recently too, especially after the 6-1 humbling by Tottenham Hotspur. He got the team selection and tactics spot on in this game though.

With Harry Maguire and Eric Bailly out injured, Axel Tuanzebe made his first appearance in 10 months alongside Victor Lindelof in central defence with Luke Shaw as the third centre-back. We saw on several occasions last year that Shaw played that role extremely well and he continued to impress there in this fixture too. Alex Telles and Wan-Bissaka were excellent at both ends of the pitch while Fred did what he does best and didn’t stop throughout the entire game. Scott McTominay struggled a lot in the first half, with Neymar running at him directly and misplacing lots of passes but he improved greatly in the second half.

Paris Saint-Germain v Manchester United: Group H - UEFA Champions League : News Photo

Ole’s set up allowed United to be solid defensively against a side with world class attackers but little creativity elsewhere on the pitch. He didn’t allow them to isolate his defenders in one on one situations regularly and whenever it did happen, they responded perfectly and dealt with the situation. It also allowed the three attacking players freedom to stay high up the pitch and counter attack.

Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes didn’t see as much of the ball as they would have liked to in an ideal world, but between them they were involved in everything good going forward the side did. United were comfortably the better side over the 90 minutes of football and better decision making almost certainly would have seen them score at least one more goal on the night.

It’s a set up that is easily adjusted when coming up against teams that won’t look to be as attack minded as PSG usually are, with the inclusion of Paul Pogba or Donny Van De Beek into the central midfield positions ahead of McTominay or Fred – or potentially even both. It also allows the attackers to play in closer proximity to each other and link up more often, while also getting them closer to goal.

The addition of Edinson Cavani to the squad will also add to the argument that this formation could potentially be the best choice for the side too. The extra protection in defence helps to cover for the issues United have in central defence, while it also takes away from the lack of wing options that are of sufficient quality at the club currently.

It’s a fantastic result for the club, for the players, for the fans and most importantly for Ole Gunnar Solskjær. Roll on Chelsea on Saturday.

Champions League Group Stage Predictions – Liverpool

After reaching back-to-back Champions League finals, winning it in 2019, the six time European champions return to the premier club competition in football.

Liverpool come into this campaign following a record-breaking Premier League season which saw them lift the league title for the first time since 1990, but they suffered a disappointing European outing last year as they crashed out in the Round of 16 to Atletico Madrid, losing both home and away legs.

They’ve started the Premier League campaign in interesting fashion too, winning their first 3 games before being thumped 7-2 by Aston Villa and then drawing the Merseyside derby with Everton 2-2 this past weekend. They now turn their attentions to Europe, where they have a group with two dark horses that on their day can cause any team on the continent trouble.

My Best XI*: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Gomez, Robertson; Fabinho, Thiago, Henderson; Salah, Firmino, Mane (*not including Van Dijk)

Ajax, Atalanta and Midtjylland make up a considerable amount of threat for Liverpool to contend with and they will need to be near their best to contend with the obstacles that will be put in front of them during this tournament.

With news that Virgil Van Dijk will miss the rest of the season with a ruptured cruciate knee ligament injury, Liverpool must navigate a very attack minded group without their talisman and best defender. This could see them revert to their previous style under Klopp, in which they simply aimed to outgun their opponents in every game.

The addition of Thiago and Diogo Jota in the summer has strengthened them and added considerable depth and quality to their side and ultimately they should still have more than enough about them to progress from the group as group winners.

I spoke with Liverpool fan Fahi, from renowned Liverpool podcast Kop End Fracas from the Touchline Fracas group, about his thoughts on the group and his predictions on how Liverpool would fare this season.

Manchester United Pod – I don’t care about this Antony ting | MUGA Touchline Fracas: A Premier League Football Podcast ( Arsenal Chelsea Liverpool Spurs Manchester United )

Morayo is joined by Disu and Sebby as they catchup with all things Manchester United on the first day of pre-season. They answer listners questions and much more. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
  1. Manchester United Pod – I don’t care about this Antony ting | MUGA
  2. Touchlinefracas – Karate Jacket
  3. Tottenham Pod – Devine Intervention | New Spurs Order
  4. Chelsea FC Pod – Dr Umar's Back 4 | Chessy Hour
  5. Arsenal Pod – Suya And Goat Meat | Touchy Gooners

I think the group itself isn’t as easy as everyone has been making out, especially in the current circumstances. A lack of atmosphere and injuries to key players equals potential banana skins. The games come thick and fast, so don’t expect the typical Liverpool performances in Europe. We should have enough to get through the group, just expect a lot of goals conceded… especially against Atalanta!

Prediction: 12 points in total – 6 from Midtjylland, 3 from Atalanta and 3 from Ajax.

I have to agree largely with Fahi on this one. There are plenty of potential banana skins in this group, especially with Van Dijk unavailable. Ajax and Atalanta both playing attacking football and have the ability to score plenty of goals but they also leave themselves susceptible to counter attacks which is something the Liverpool attack will thrive on.

They start the campaign with a trip to Amsterdam and I think they should be able to get at least a draw there, while I think they will win all their games at Anfield. The away trip to Atalanta is their toughest fixture in the group in my opinion and they could suffer a defeat in that one, but I’d expect them to win every other game during the campaign to eventually sail through into the next round as group winners.


Fahi is a regular cast member of popular football podcast group Touchline Fracas and appears on the Liverpool podcast ‘Kop End Fracas’ every Wednesday night.

You can follow Touchline Fracas on Twitter:
@TouchlineFracas
You can follow ‘Kop End Fracas’ on Twitter:
@KopEndFracas
You can follow Fahi on Twitter:
@FeeFahiFoFum

Champions League Group Stage Predictions – Manchester United

The three time European champions return to the Champions League for the first time since 2018/19.

After an awful start to their Premier League campaign saw them beaten by both Crystal Palace and Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford with wins over Brighton and Newcastle, Ole Gunnar Solskjær declared that their season starts now after Saturday’s victory.

After making first-team signings in Donny Van De Beek, Alex Telles and Edinson Cavani, United also signed youngsters Facundo Pellestri and Amad Diallo, who will join in January from Atalanta. They’ve strengthened considerably from their Europa League outings last season, where they fell to eventual winners Sevilla in the semi-finals after taking the lead through a Bruno Fernandes penalty.

They come into the Champions League this year after finishing third in the Premier League last season, thanks to a fantastic run post-lockdown that saw them climb from fifth and overtake both Chelsea and Leicester City.

Thrown into a group with Paris Saint-Germain, RB Leipzig and Istanbul, Manchester United were dealt the group of death in this years competition and they will have a tough time with games coming thick and fast.

My Best XI: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Telles;
Matic, Pogba, B.Fernandes; Greenwood, Martial, Rashford

The Red Devils open their campaign with an away trip to Paris, the scene of their most famous comeback under Ole Gunnar Solskjær when they overturned a 2-0 home loss to win 3-1 with a 93rd minute Marcus Rashford penalty sending them through to the quarter-finals in March 2019. Since then though, it’s been very hot and cold for Solskjær at Old Trafford while PSG have strengthened and made it to the Champions League final last year where they were beaten 1-0 by Bayern Munich.

RB Leipzig are an exciting outfit and they themselves made it to the Champions League semi-finals last season, despite having lost top goalscorer Timo Werner to Chelsea prior to the resumption of the tournament. This summer they replaced the German forward with three new attackers after signing Alexander Sorloth, Hee-Chan Hwang and Justin Kluivert on loan from Roma. Coach Julian Nagelsmann has been widely praised for his attacking style of football and his side proved they can cope with English physicality when they dispatched of Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur both home and away in last season’s tournament.

United will need to win all their home games to stand the best possible chance of qualification, while also ensuring that they take at least a point either in Paris or in Leipzig. The likelihood of that is incredibly dependant on the form of the sides going into the ties, with all the fixtures coming so quickly after one another.

The Red Devils will be looking to take maximum points from Istanbul and with no fans in attendance, the hostile environment that is usually such a factor when travelling to Turkey is no longer something they will need to deal with. With better quality players on the pitch, they need those players to perform to get a result.

Manchester United Pod – I don’t care about this Antony ting | MUGA Touchline Fracas: A Premier League Football Podcast ( Arsenal Chelsea Liverpool Spurs Manchester United )

Morayo is joined by Disu and Sebby as they catchup with all things Manchester United on the first day of pre-season. They answer listners questions and much more. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
  1. Manchester United Pod – I don’t care about this Antony ting | MUGA
  2. Touchlinefracas – Karate Jacket
  3. Tottenham Pod – Devine Intervention | New Spurs Order
  4. Chelsea FC Pod – Dr Umar's Back 4 | Chessy Hour
  5. Arsenal Pod – Suya And Goat Meat | Touchy Gooners

I spoke with Tim, a regular cast member on the Touchline Fracas ‘Make United Great Again’ podcast, about his thoughts for the upcoming group stage and he told me how he believes United will fare.

I think it will be tough, not sure we’ll qualify if I’m honest. I expect PSG to take 6 points from us and we probably share the spoils over 2 legs with Leipzig. On paper we should be grabbing 6 points from Istanbul but again I’m not too sure. I’m going to say we’ll finish on around 8 or 9 points and just scrape through our group. 6 from Istanbul, 2 or 3 from Leipzig and 0 from PSG.

I have to agree in large parts with what Tim thinks. I think it will be incredibly difficult for Manchester United to take points away from Paris Saint-Germain whether it be at home or away. PSG are a tremendously organised side and with phenomenal ability in attack they are able to carve out opportunities against even the best defences in the world with the likes of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

When it comes to Leipzig, both sides are pretty well matched. United have the better players on paper for the most part but Leipzig have the better coach and a system that they play to a very high standard. United will need to avoid defeat in Germany and pick up a win at Old Trafford to secure qualification and I believe they will be able to do that, while I expect Solskjær’s side to take maximum points from Istanbul.

Overall I think United will be able to scrape through into the Last 16, but they will need to minimise the amount of bad days they have at the office in Europe if they are to do so because Leipzig and PSG are both more than capable of punishing them and kicking them to the curb.


Tim is a regular cast member of popular football podcast group Touchline Fracas and appears on the Manchester United podcast ‘Make United Great Again’ every Tuesday night.

You can follow Touchline Fracas on Twitter:
@TouchlineFracas
You can follow ‘Make United Great Again’ on Twitter:
@TLF_MUGA
You can follow Tim on Twitter:
@A1Deniro

Champions League Group Stage Predictions – Chelsea

The 2012 European champions enter the 2020/21 Champions League with a clear run at topping their group.

Last year the Blues made it to the Round of 16 before clashing with eventual winners Bayern Munich, where they were beaten home and away in a humbling 7-1 aggregate defeat.

This year though, Frank Lampard will expect his side to perform much better than they did last season having spent the best part of £250million to strengthen his side in the summer. After signing Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Kai Havertz, Thiago Silva, Ben Chilwell and Edouard Mendy to boost the starting line-up you’d expect them to at the bare minimum exceed their performance from the previous campaign.

Having been drawn in a group with Sevilla, Rennes and Krasnodar, Chelsea will be the favourites to top the group and progress to the Round of 16,

They start their campaign against Europa League holders Sevilla, who have begun their La Liga season impressively with 7 points from their opening four games.

Frank Lampard is still trying to figure out his best eleven and even potentially his best formation however. After all the additions to his side, it was expected that it would be a 4-2-3-1 trying to get the best out of Kai Havertz behind his international team-mate Timo Werner up front. So far though, he has gone with a 4-3-3 with Havertz out wide.

Mason Mount has been a constant in Lampard’s side throughout the entire campaign so far and doesn’t look to be playing himself out of favour despite the struggles of the team, which were exacerbated as Chelsea blew a 2-0 and 3-2 lead in their draw with Southampton this past weekend.

Ngolo Kante has struggled for form for the most part this season too and Lampard is yet to decide whether his best option to partner him is Jorginho or Mateo Kovacic.

My Best XI: Mendy; James, Zouma, T. Silva, Chilwell;
Kante, Kovacic; Ziyech, Havertz, Pulisic; Werner

With Chelsea comfortably the strongest team in their group, they should be looking for maximum points in all their group games. They will be expected to win all their home games, starting with Tuesday’s visit of Sevilla. With the attacking threat they have and the European nous now flowing through the side, they are much better placed to perform well in the premier competition for club football.

They should be beating Sevilla all things considered, especially at home. They match up well physically and have enough firepower in their squad to find the back of the net, although defensively they still have holes in their team so I expect Sevilla will be confident of causing them issues. If Chelsea can secure 4 points from the two fixtures against their Spanish opposition then they will win the group.

Elsewhere in the group are competition debutants Rennes. An exciting French outfit, boasting the prodigal son Eduardo Camavinga in midfield, they will be entering the tournament fearlessly. Defensively they are open but going forward they are very good at creating chances and don’t crumble mentally if they fall behind. Much like Sevilla, they will certainly cause Chelsea problems in the reverse fixture but at Stamford Bridge the Blues will expect to take all three points. Krasnodar will pose a tricky away day too for Lampard’s side but the individual quality on the pitch should be enough for them to take maximum points from both games.

I expect they will win the group with a game to spare and be joined in the next round with Sevilla but Rennes’ unpredictability should make it an exciting group throughout.

Racism Has No Place In Football – Kick It Out

When Paris Saint-Germain hosted Marseille at the Stade de France back on September 13th, the game of football that took place was secondary in the news.

Despite Marseille taking 3 points for the first time since 2011 and PSG’s defeat meaning they’d lost their opening two league games for the first time since 1984/85, Florian Thauvin’s goal was forgotten after a mass brawl in injury time saw five players sent off.

Layvin Kurzawa, Leandro Paredes, Neymar, Jordan Amavi and Dario Benedetto were all given red cards following a VAR review to clear up the mess but something cameras seemed to miss at the time of the event was Neymar claiming he was racially abused by defender Alvaro Gonzalez.

Following the match, footage emerged of Neymar telling the officials of a racist comment during the game. He appeared on social media after the game claiming that his only regret was not hitting Alvaro harder for his racial abuse. He was met with support by neutral fans and Alvaro was rightly chastised when video footage emerged of him calling Neymar a “monkey”.

However it has now also emerged that Neymar was also guilty of racism in the same game, to Japanese defender Hiroki Sakai. It’s alleged, with video evidence, that Neymar called the Marseille man a “Chinese shit” during the game in the middle of yet another flare up that he was involved in.

There are talks in the media of anything from a six game ban to a twenty match ban for both Neymar and Alvaro should they be found guilty of the claims put to them. For me, it’s not enough.

If we’re so united that racism should be kicked out of football, then kick it out of football. Ban them both for life.

When a fan is found guilty of racially abusing a player from the stands, they are given a lifetime ban from the club and usually some sort of criminal punishment too whether that be a fine or a banning order. Players shouldn’t be exempt from these things either.

Playing professional football, especially at the top level, is a privilege. One reserved for the top percentile of talented athletes among humans on Earth. Granted, they can’t all be nice guys. But some fans seem to pick and choose their stance depending on club or talent level. That is nonsense.

Neymar is one of my favourite footballers and one of the best talents in the world, undisputedly. But if the video is proven to be genuine and he has said what it’s alleged he said, he should be kicked out of the game. Regardless of talent level, these guys are all humans. They have a right to be on the football pitch and not face racial abuse from anyone.

Obviously as a football fan I want the best football players to play on the biggest stage, but it doesn’t sit right with me. It didn’t sit right with me when Suarez was welcomed back with open arms after an eight-game ban, it didn’t sit right with me when John Terry was welcomed back with open arms after a four-game ban and it doesn’t sit right with me now.

It may seem harsh and it may seem excessive but for me it shows a true zero tolerance approach to racism in football, something they so often talk about.

There’s no chance it happens. We’re talking about the same organisations who fined Nicklas Bendtner more for wearing Paddy Power pants and going against sponsorship rules than they did international FA’s for racism.

Neymar being racially abusive before he was racially abused doesn’t take away from the fact Alvaro is also a nasty piece of work and he should be banned for life too.

If football is serious about having ‘no room for racism’, then they’ll take steps to literally kick it out of their game.

Europa League Final: Sevilla vs Inter Milan – Prediction

The 2019/20 Europa League will finally come to an end tonight when Sevilla and Inter Milan meet each other in the final of a tournament that started over a full calendar year ago.

Antonio Conte’s side come into the fixture after dropping down from the Champions League into the Round of 32 and beating Ludogrets (4-1 on aggregate), Getafe 2-0, Leverkusen 2-1 and Shakhtar Donetsk 5-0 en route to the final.

Julen Lopetegui has guided Sevilla through the entire tournament. They came out on top of a group containing Qarabag, APOEL and Dudelange where they won 5 out of 6 games. They then defeated CFR Cluj on away goals in the last 32 before beating Roma (2-0), Wolves (1-0) and Manchester United (2-1) in one-legged ties en route to this game.

Looking at performances in the tournament over the last two weeks, Inter Milan are surely the favourites to lift the trophy. Romelu Lukaku has scored in his last 10 consecutive Europa League games for Everton and Inter Milan, including a brace in the semi-final, while Lautaro Martinez seems to have found some form again since coming back into the side.

In defence, Diego Godin and Stefan De Vrij have been rock solid but the emergence of Alessandro Bastoni has edged out Milan Skriniar from the side. Ashley Young has cemented his place as the left wing-back while in midfield, Marcelo Brozovic and Nico Barella are now automatic starters. Christian Eriksen is often the third option in that midfield, although last time out Conte opted for Matias Vecino.

For Sevilla, their side picks itself currently. Sergio Reguillon will continue his strong form at left-back in what could potentially be his final game for the club with many looking to take him away permanently. Captain Jesus Navas has become a right-back in recent years and is a starter for the side, while Diego Carlos and Jules Kounde will start together in the centre. In midfield, Ever Banega will leave the club following this game to join Saudi Arabian side Al-Shabab. Alongside Fernando and Jordan they will need to dominate the midfield areas to have any hope of winning this game. Ahead of them semi-final hero Suso will likely start but the man who scored the winner Luuk De Jong will likely start on the bench once again, with Youssef El-Nesyri picked ahead of him. Top goalscorer Lucas Ocampos will complete the team.

FBL-EUR-C3-SEVILLA-TRAINING : News Photo
Lucas Ocampos will be key to any success Sevilla have in the Europa League final

Sevilla’s style of keeping the ball, switching it from side to side and playing through balls down the flanks for cut-backs entirely suits the way Inter Milan play. Conte’s side will play with a deep block and will press in the wide areas then use the pace of Lukaku and Martinez to launch counter attacks.

With the form of the two teams, it’s hard to look past Inter Milan taking the trophy back to Italy with them. Lukaku is absolutely deadly in this system currently and with just one goal needed to match the record of his idol Ronaldo (R9) for most goals in a debut season for Inter he will be absolutely amped for the final.

I don’t anticipate the most exciting game of football ever on Friday night, but I expect a vintage Italian performance from Conte and Inter Milan in a 2-0 win for the Nerazzurri.

PICKS

Inter Milan to win 2-0 – 19/2 (BetVictor)
Romelu Lukaku anytime – 7/5 (BetVictor/SkyBet)

Manchester City UEFA Ban Overturned by CAS

Manchester City have seen their two-year ban from UEFA competitions overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The club were initially fined €30million and suspended from all UEFA competition for two-years following breaches of FFP rules and obstructing the investigation into their wrongdoings. The club immediately denied such accusations and vowed to fight the punishments. Their initial appeal was rejected but the CAS have now accepted their appeal and overturned the sanctions.

The club will now only pay a €10million fine, while they will still be able to compete in the Champions League.

That means after winning their game against Brighton this past weekend, they have secured their place in Europe’s premier club competition next season after guaranteeing a second-place finish.

An interesting line in the CAS statement revealed that while there is evidence of City’s wrongdoings, some of them were “time-barred” as they happened over five years ago. This means that Manchester City can’t be prosecuted or punished for what they did.

The decision means that the Premier League will have it’s traditional Top 4 places in next season’s Champions League, meaning two of Leicester, Chelsea, Manchester United and Wolves will miss out. The chasing clubs had been hoping the ban would be upheld, which would allow fifth place in the league to take their place and qualify.

With that now not an option, the final three games of the season take on even more meaning for the four clubs who will play each other on the final day of the season.

Whilst I believe it’s not a surprise that the ban has been overturned, it is disappointing. FFP has been put in place for a number of years now and Man City have clearly broken the rules. For them to escape punishment is a kick in the teeth to clubs around Europe who have worked tirelessly to follow these rules for risk of sanction.

FFP is essentially non-existent to top clubs at this point and needs to be re-evaluated if it is to have the desired effect in the future.