Real Madrid and PSG must perform magic to Qualify

Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain will look to their superstar strikers Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in desperate bids to clinch Champions League semifinal berths against Wolfsburg and Manchester City.

The Parisians were held 2-2 at the Parc des Princes last Wednesday when Ibrahimovic missed a spot-kick and fluffed a one-on-one with Joe Hart, before ruthlessly exploiting a City error to net an equaliser.

A ‘Clasico’ hangover was the way many described Real Madrid’s shock 2-0 quarterfinal first-leg defeat at Wolfsburg, which followed an away win in La Liga to arch rivals Barcelona.

Poor performances from Real’s stars were glaring as Gareth Bale was kept quiet and Ronaldo rarely shook off his markers.

The three-time Ballon d’Or winner did have the ball in the back of the Wolfsburg goal within 74 seconds, but the Portuguese then threw up his arms in horrified disbelief at an offside flag.

Never lacking in confidence Ronaldo, who has scored 13 goals in the competition so far this season, vowed his side would grind out a qualifying result.

“Tuesday has to be a magical night,” said the Portuguese.

“The key objective is getting through to the next round. It is the only option that will allow us players and the fans to leave the stadium happy.”

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‘Arsenal can learn from Leicester fairytale’ :Arsene Wenger

Arsene Wenger insists he has not given up on Arsenal’s Premier League title challenge but admits there are lessons to be learnt from Leicester’s dominance at the top of the table.

Wenger’s third-placed side, who lie 11 points adrift of the leaders, head to West Ham on Saturday where they will seek the third successive victory they need to keep their slender hopes of becoming champions alive.

Consecutive wins against Everton and Watford have raised hopes they could yet end a frustrating season on a high but Wenger is realistic enough to know Arsenal’s main priority is to ensure they do not get dragged back towards those clubs – including West Ham – currently on the fringe of the top four.

And if, as expected, Wenger is forced to contemplate another failed bid to deliver the title to the Emirates Stadium for the first time since 2004, the manager will point to Leicester’s recruitment strategy as the key to the leaders’ unexpected success.

“What we learn from Leicester City is what I knew for a long time, which is that it’s not just only down to the amount of money you spend,” Wenger said.

“It’s down to the quality of players you bring in and sometimes the opportunities are not always necessarily linked with the amount of money.

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Barca protected, after Torres receive red card in Champion League


Fernando Torres raged that Atletico Madrid are not treated equally to Barcelona by referees after his early red card turned their Champions League quarterfinal, first leg around on Tuesday.

Torres had put Atletico in front at the Camp Nou before seeing two quick-fire yellow cards to leave the visitors a man light for over an hour.

Luis Suarez finally converted Barca’s relentless second-half pressure into a 2-1 lead as he struck twice in 12 minutes.

However, Atletico were enraged as unlike Torres, Suarez escaped punishment for a kick out at Juanfran and an off-the-ball incident with Filipe Luis.

“They shouldn’t have been cards. If it had been the other way around then they wouldn’t have been given,” Torres told Spanish radio station Cadena Cope.

“With 11 (men) we would have won without any doubt.”

And the former Liverpool and Chelsea striker claimed Uefa have their priorities wrong after making both sides play in their away kits to avoid a colour clash.

“Uefa worry about making us change shirts, but they didn’t appoint a referee that is up to the level of the Champions League quarterfinals.”

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Real to transfer winning momentum to Wolfsburg

Real Madrid will carry their momentum from Saturday’s ‘Clasico’ victory over rivals Barcelona into their Champions League quarterfinal first leg at struggling  Wolfsburg on Wednesday, coach Zinedine Zidane said.

Real scored their first league win at the Nou Camp since 2012, inflicting the first home defeat for Barcelona since February 2015.

“It is very important to have got the win here for our confidence and for the remainder of the season and with it coming right before our Champions League game in Germany,” said Zidane.

“We know just how important the Champions League is and we want to advance, so winning here in Barcelona was very important.”

The Frenchman took over from Rafael Benitez at the start of the year and on Saturday came through his first big test with flying colours.

“I liked everything about my players’ performance. We put in a massive effort and I was pleased with everything, both defensively and attacking-wise,” said the 43-year-old, who as a player led Real to the Champions League title in 2002.

“When I see a team that is united and all together, with everyone fighting for their teammates and for their coach, there’s nothing better.”

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Five things on Conte’s to-do list at Chelsea, next Season

Chelsea confirmed on Monday that Italy coach Antonio Conte will take charge at Stamford Bridge  next season. Here are five things the former Juventus boss must focus on to get the troubled Premier League club back on track:

Resolve Terry’s future

Hailed as “captain, leader, legend” on the banner hung by adoring fans at Stamford Bridge, John Terry’s credentials as a Chelsea icon and a major inspiration behind their success are well established, yet Conte will be faced with the thorny problem of potentially ending that two-decade love affair.

The 35-year-old defender dropped a bombshell in January when he announced he would be leaving at the end of the season because the club had told him he wouldn’t be given a contract extension.

But Chelsea have since insisted Terry’s fate will be decided solely by the new manager, leaving Conte to weigh up the benefits of keeping a figure of Terry’s experience and tenacity to create a smoother transition to the new era, while also pondering whether his fading form and declining influence in a dressing room now populated by younger and less deferential teammates mean it would be wiser to sever ties with the polarising captain.

Rebuild the Eden project

Rewind 12 months and Eden Hazard appeared to have the world at his feet as he prepared to accept two Footballer of the Year awards and a Premier League winners’ medal while being feted by Jose Mourinho as the equal of superstars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo,

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