Zidane talk down of referees favouring Madrid

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said he was disappointed that he was only asked about the referee’s decisions after his side earned a 2-1 victory at Real Sociedad on Sunday to climb above Barcelona and top LaLiga.

The day before the game, Zidane had been forced to defend his team against a suggestion from Barca defender Gerard Pique that decisions were going Madrid’s way after their 3-0 win over Valencia, in which Rodrigo Moreno had an opening goal ruled out.

The French coach faced fresh questions about Madrid’s apparent fortune after three huge decisions went their way against Sociedad.

“It annoys me that at the end of the day people are only talking about the referees as if we did nothing out on the pitch,” Zidane told a virtual news conference.

“But we cannot control what people will say. We win matches on the pitch and that’s what we did today. It was a deserved victory.” Various games are available on site for today’s games

Sergio Ramos scored the opening goal just after the break with a penalty after a contentious foul on Vinicius Jr while Sociedad had an Adnan Januzaj strike ruled out for a positional offside against Mikel Merino.

Ozil ready to give his best to reclaim Arsenal starting spot

Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil must rediscover his best form in training to win back his place in the starting line-up, manager Mikel Arteta has said.

Ozil was a regular in Arteta’s line-up before the league was suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic but the German was left out of the squad altogether at a game at Manchester City on Wednesday where Arsenal were defeated 3-0.

Arteta had said that the decision was “tactical”.

“I’m the first one who wants Mesut at his best. I’ll put him on the pitch when I think he can give his best,” Arteta told reporters ahead of a league game at Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday. Play bet on today’s games on NaijaBet

“A lot has happened to him in the last few weeks and I have to respect the timing of every player. Sometimes they need a bit of time.” Start Playing bet on NaijaBet.com

Arteta said that he had no problems with Ozil after a “clear and honest” talk following his omission from the team.

Juventus targets first trophy under Sarri against Napoli

Maurizio Sarri takes on his former club Napoli in Wednesday’s Italian Cup final looking for his first trophy as Juventus coach days before Serie A resumes after a three-month shutdown.

Juventus are chasing a record-extending 14th Italian Cup against five-time winners Napoli in Rome, after the Turin giants’ four-year cup-winning streak was ended last season.

Sarri took over at Juventus one year ago after a season with Chelsea during which the Premier League side won the Europa League.

Before that the 61-year-old spent three seasons with Napoli, battling Juventus for the title, before falling out with club owner Aurelio De Laurentiis.

Sarri claimed he only found out he had been sacked and replaced by Carlo Ancelotti when he switched on the television. Start forecasting your today’s games Now on NaijaBet

De Laurentiis blasted his former coach on Monday.

“He (Sarri) betrayed me, he left with the vulgar excuse of money, forced me to change, and still had a two-year contract,” De Laurentiis said.

Tougher tests in La Liga as Real and Barca in race for title

Real Madrid and Barcelona will have tougher tests to come but emphatic victories on their return to action at the weekend suggest there may not be much margin for error in what is left of LaLiga’s title race.

Leaders Barca hammered Real Mallorca 4-0 on Saturday before second-placed Madrid swept Eibar aside 3-1 a day later, having led 3-0 at the end of the first half, only to ease off in the second.

Both performances erased fears that had arisen during the three-month suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic, which saw La Liga go without competitive matches for 93 days.

Madrid looked comfortable in their new home at the Alfredo di Stefano Stadium – part of their training complex – while Lionel Messi looked fit, with no sign of the tightness in his thigh that was bothering him earlier this month.

Two assists, a goal and 90 minutes played suggested Barcelona’s captain is in good shape. Start forecasting your laliga games now

“There were many uncertainties,” said coach Quique Setien. “Nobody was clear what was going to happen. We had some bad touches but we will improve with more contact with the ball over time.

Henderson can become England’s No. 1 keeper – Solskjaer

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has tipped English goalkeeper Dean Henderson to become first choice for club and country after impressing during his loan spell at Sheffield United.

Academy product Henderson helped Sheffield win promotion from the Championship last season and has kept 10 clean sheets for them in the Premier League in the current campaign, second only to Burnley’s Nick Pope.

With David de Gea currently the first choice in Manchester, Solskjaer said no decision had been made where the 23-year-old Henderson would play next season.

“Dean has made some great choices over the years and has developed fantastically,” Solskjaer said ahead of the Premier League’s restart on Wednesday following a coronavirus shutdown.

Liverpool thrash Blackburn in warm-up ahead of EPL returns

Liverpool cruised to a 6-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers in a friendly behind closed doors at Anfield on Thursday as Juergen Klopp’s side stepped up their preparations for the Premier League restart next week.

First-team regulars Sadio Mane, Naby Keita and Joel Matip got their names on the scoresheet along with Takumi Minamino and youngsters Ki-Jana Hoever and Leighton Clarkson in a convincing win over the Championship side.

Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah and left back Andy Robertson were left out of the squad as a precaution but Klopp was satisfied with how his players responded.

“We didn’t have enough first-team players,” Klopp told the club’s website. “So that’s why we decided to let three players go for 60 minutes.

“That’s OK. It looked really good, pretty much from the beginning. Start forecasting your weekend games now on NaijaBet

“In the first game, we don’t have to be football-wise on our highest level, but we need to show that we are ready for competition, that we are ready to defend, that we are ready to find solutions.”

Juve to face Milan as Italian season is about to restart

The Italian season resumes after a three-month suspension due to the Covid-19 pandemic on Friday when Juventus, still chasing a possible league, cup and Champions League treble, host AC Milan in the return leg of their Coppa Italia semifinal.

The match, to be played behind closed doors at the Allianz stadium, should have been played on March 4 but was postponed by the Turin city government at 24 hours’ notice as the virus began to spread. The season was suspended altogether one week later.

Juventus are favourites to reach next Wednesday’s final after a 1-1 draw in the first leg on February 13 but coach Maurizio Sarri said that his side were venturing into the unknown after such a long layoff.

“None of the staff at this moment knows where the preparation is because we come off an abnormal interruption,” he said, adding that the stoppage was completely different to the usual close season.

“This is a unique situation, which does not give us any certainty, also because we have obviously not played friendlies. I am satisfied with what I have seen during these days in training, but the response during a game will be different.” Start forecasting your games Now on NaijaBet

Sarri feared that the risk of injury would be “very high” as the players would have lost muscular strength while their motivation was also an unknown.

LaLiga returns with Seville derby, Boosted odds on NaijaBet

Sevilla and Real Betis is the game in Spain most defined by its fans and on Thursday it will be a first glimpse of LaLiga without them as the season resumes behind closed doors after three months away due to the coronavirus.

Fireworks, banners, plumes of smoke and crowds, delirious at the sight of a team bus, let alone a goal, the Seville derby is a fixture renowned for its intensity and cherished by its supporters.

There will be 110 games held in 39 days, with clubs playing every three days for five and a half weeks, but none for the rest of the season will be as much of a stark reminder of what is missing.

“We can’t wait to return to competing,” said Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui on Wednesday.

“In circumstances that three months ago were unimaginable but today it is the reality and we have to adapt. Place bet on today’s Events on NaijaBet

“The derby is going to be played and we all know what it means. We have to respond.”

Liverpool ready for Merseyside derby at Goodison Park

The Merseyside derby between Everton and Liverpool in the Premier League this month will be held behind closed-doors at Everton’s Goodison Park stadium, despite concerns the venue may attract supporters.

Media reports had suggested that the fixture on Sunday June 21 could be held at a neutral venue if authorities felt there was a risk of lockdown restrictions on public gatherings being broken.

Liverpool could win the title with a victory at Goodison Park if Manchester City lose to Arsenal on Wednesday, June 17th. Place bet on Live Events on 24/7

“The decision to play the game at the Club’s home stadium was made today by the local Ground Safety Advisory Group following positive discussions between the Club, Liverpool City Council, Merseyside Police, The Everton Fans’ Forum, The Blue Union, Liverpool Football Club and Spirit of Shankly,” Everton said in a statement on their website.

After 10 years, South Africa still counting 2010 World Cup gain

It has been 10 years since it was “time for Africa” and the 2010 Fifa World Cup™ remains a watershed of African excellence and achievement the continent continues to be proud of.

The tournament, held from 11 June to 11 July 2010, attracted a total of 3 178, 856 spectators to the the 64 games, at 10 stadiums in nine South African host cities.

It was shown in every single country and territory on Earth, including Antarctica and the Arctic Circle, with the final alone between Spain and Netherlands watched by over 900 million people.

The tournament was watched by a cumulative 3.2 billion people globally, generating record-breaking viewing figures in many TV markets around the world, and enhancing South Africa’s status as a top tourism market in an abundance of new territories.

Waka Waka, the official 2010 Fifa World Cup song by Colombian superstar Shakira and South Africa’s Freshlyground, has now been watched over 2.5 billion times on YouTube, and continues to vividly keep the memories of the tournament alive globally. More games are available on site today on NaijaBet

Failure on an epic scale was predicted by global media for many years leading up to the tournament, but a flawless first African Fifa World Cup confounded the critics and showcased a new side of the continent to the globe.

Kante return to contact training as EPL restart next week

Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante has returned to contact training ahead of the Premier League’s comeback next week, the Blues confirmed on Tuesday.

The French World Cup-winner had been allowed to continue training at home when his teammates returned to training last month due to fears over coronavirus.

“N’Golo Kante was back with the main group today at Cobham as training continues to ramp up ahead of the Premier League restart next week,” Chelsea said in a statement.

In the latest round of testing on Premier League players and staff there were zero positive cases from 1 195 tests.

Black and ethnic minorities are at greater risk of serious illness if they contract the virus, according to the Office for National Statistics. Place bet on Live Events 24/7 on NaijaBet

Kante experienced a health scare when he collapsed at Chelsea’s training ground two years ago.

Bayern Munich target Winning double again

Bayern Munich can take another step towards repeating last season’s German league and cup double on Wednesday, with midfielder Leon Goretzka a player transformed since the coronavirus shutdown.

Bayern host Eintracht Frankfurt behind closed doors in the semifinals of the German Cup, three days before they could conceivably wrap up an eight successive Bundesliga title.

Hansi Flick’s side have won all five games since the league resumed last month following the coronavirus suspension, including a 5-2 rout of Wednesday’s opponents Frankfurt.

Germany international Goretzka has been at the heart of Bayern’s impressive displays, notching two goals and three assists since the restart.

“I feel very good at the moment,” said Goretzka, who set up a goal for Kingsley Coman and then scored himself in Saturday’s 4-2 win at Bayer Leverkusen. Place bet on virtual games 24/7 on NaijaBet

The 25-year-old said he made the most of the unscheduled break to spend more time in the gym, giving Bayern extra muscle in midfield alongside the likes of Joshua Kimmich and Thiago Alcantara.

European ban: City face critical appeal against two-season ban

Manchester City’s appeal against a two-year ban from European competition will be heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) from Monday in a case of wide-reaching repercussions.

City are accused of overstating sponsorship revenue to hide that they had not complied with Uefa’s financial fair play (FFP) rules between 2012 and 2016 and were also handed a 30 million euro fine.

Uefa’s case was prompted when German magazine Der Spiegel published a series of leaked emails in 2018 that purported to show how City manufactured extra sponsorship revenue from a series of companies with connections to the club’s Abu Dhabi-based owner Sheikh Mansour.

Under the Sheikh’s ownership, City’s fortunes have been transformed from perennially living in the shadow of local rivals Manchester United to winning four Premier League titles in the past eight years.

However, billions of investment in players and managers has not yet been able to deliver the club’s first-ever Champions League title. Start forecasting your Laliga games Now

City are still involved in this season’s competition and will be allowed to compete should the 2019-20 edition of Champions League return in August no matter the outcome of the appeal.

Messi ready to face Mallorca as Laliga returns- Setien

Lionel Messi will be fit to play in Barcelona’s first game back against Real Mallorca, despite some “minor tightness” in his right thigh, coach Quique Setien said on Sunday.

Messi trained alone on Saturday at Camp Nou after sitting out the team’s previous two sessions, raising doubts over his involvement in the trip to Mallorca on Saturday.

But when asked whether Messi would be able to play next weekend, Setien told Movistar on Sunday: “Messi is not the only one that has not trained and felt some discomfort.

“It’s what has happened to everyone or practically everyone since they have been back.

“It is some minor tightness and we have it under control. He is doing perfectly and will not have any problem.” Play bet on Live Events 24/7 on NaijaBet

Barcelona said on Friday that Messi should return to full training “in a few days’ time”, but his absence is a concern given the squad have only 10 days to train together before LaLiga resumes on Thursday.

Passion’ for football restored as EPL nears return – Klopp’s

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp cannot wait for English football’s return after a three-month layoff due to the coronavirus pandemic and promised to celebrate the Premier League title in style when it is safe to do so.

Liverpool are just two wins away from securing their first league title in 30 years.

The Reds held a commanding 25-point lead over Manchester City when play was halted in March.

Klopp’s men could even clinch the title with victory in their first game back if City lose to Arsenal in one of two games scheduled to take place on June 17, before the first full round of matches the following weekend.

“I have missed it so much it’s unbelievable,” Klopp said.

“I know it’s not the most important thing in life but it is my passion. I hope the people are looking forward to it because we are.”

After such a long wait to win the Premier League, Liverpool face the anti-climax of doing so in front of empty stands with all remaining 92 league games to be played behind closed doors. Place bet on Live Events 24/7 on NaijaBet

A year ago to the day, tens of thousands of fans poured onto the streets around Liverpool to celebrate a sixth European Cup win.

And Klopp insisted there will be a parade to celebrate the title, even if it is many months after the league is won.

La Liga fixtures release as season set re-start

The season kick backs into action with a local derby between Sevilla and Real Betis on June 11 and there will be fixtures for the following seven days, with Barca hosting Leganes on June 16 and Real playing at home to Valencia on June 18.

As in the Bundesliga, which earlier in May became the first major European league to start up again after being disrupted by the pandemic, all La Liga matches until the end of the season will take place without spectators.

Real Madrid will play their remaining six home games at the 6,000-capacity Estadio Alfredo di Stefano based at their training ground, a league source confirmed, as they are currently renovating their Santiago Bernabeu home.

Levante will also be making adjustments to their Ciutat de Valencia stadium when the season starts up again and confirmed last week they will play their final home games in the town of La Nucia, more than 150 kilometres away from their usual ground.

Barca were leading Real by two points after 27 matches when the campaign was postponed back in March due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. Place bet on Live Matches 24/7 on NaijaBet

Organisers have only released scheduling details for the first two rounds of fixtures although La Liga chief Javier Tebas confirmed that there will be matches every day of the week until the season is completed on July 19.

The return of European Football – All you need to know

If you are looking for updates on all European Football Leagues and when they are scheduled to return we have all the latest information available below.

 Albania: Superliga – After a meeting between the football federation and Superliga clubs representative it was decided that the league will officially resume on June 6 and will end on July 29th, 2020. The Albanian Cup final is set to take place on August 2. 

Albania 1st League is set to return on June 7, with the competition going on until August 2 – playoff matches are scheduled for August 5 and 6.

Albania 2nd League the championship will resume on June 7, as well as 1 League. The 2 League is expected to end on July 15, and then playoffs will be played.

After a meeting between the AFF (Albanian Football League) and youth Academies that took place on 25.05.2020 it was decided that U-15, U-17, and U-19 competitions will start on June 14, 2020.

Andorra: Representatives of the Andorra Football Federation (FAF) will meet on June 1 with Government officials to clarify the possible return of football and the approval of a protocol on how to proceed.

According to the protocol in early June small group training up to 5 people should begin. The next phase would be to allow group training on June 11. The last phase is to resume the competition on June 22. Start forecasting your weekend games now

Armenia: Playing –  Premier League was resumed on May 23,  First League will follow on May 30 –  According to the FFA official website. Moreover, each team will be allowed to make up to 5 substitutions to prevent possible injures of the players because of the break due to the coronavirus.

The matches of the first round on both leagues will be held without spectators, in the future taking into account the situation with the Covid-19 in the country the restriction will be discussed.

Premier League set to resume on June 17

The Premier League season is set to restart on June 17, three months after it was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, British media reported on Thursday.

No matches have been played since Leicester’s 4-0 win over Aston Villa on March 9, with Liverpool just two wins away from securing the title.

Top-flight clubs voted unanimously on Wednesday to return to contact training and were meeting again on Thursday to discuss issues such as the restart date and the rebate to broadcasters.

The BBC reported that the first two matches would be Aston Villa v Sheffield United and Manchester City v Arsenal. Those matches are the two games in hand. Start forecasting your Bundesliga weekend games Now

A full fixture list would then be played on the weekend of June 19-21.

So far, 12 people have tested positive for coronavirus after 2,752 tests across the Premier League.

Serie A to determine season fate with Italian government

Serie A’s hopes of following Germany and Spain back onto the pitch will be decided on Thursday in a meeting with the Italian government which will determine the fate of the season in Italy.

Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora will tell representatives from the Italian football federation and Lega Serie A if the health conditions are right to return to action after nearly three months.

The season has been on hold since March 9 when it was halted as coronavirus infections spread rapidly in Italy. The pandemic has killed almost 33 000 people in the country.

Clubs returned to group training on May 19 but competitive action remains suspended until mid-June.

The indications are that Spadafora and the government’s Scientific Technical Committee will agree to both implementing a health protocol and to resume the season. Place bet on today’s virtual games on NaijaBet

If there is a green light on Thursday, Lega Serie A will meet on Friday to examine “the different calendar hypotheses” for the remaining Serie A and Italian Cup matches.

Premier League set to resumes as contact training returns

Premier League clubs on Wednesday voted unanimously to return to contact training, including tackling, as the English top flight moved a step closer to a resumption after the stoppage due to the novel coronavirus.

A statement, following a meeting of all 20 clubs, said: “Squads are now able to train as a group and engage in tackling while minimising any unnecessary close contact.

“The Premier League’s priority is the health and wellbeing of all participants.”

Clubs last week returned to training in small groups without contact and under strict health protocols.

There have been no Premier League matches since early March because of the coronavirus pandemic and 92 fixtures remain.

Lyon ready to challenge the decision of ending Ligue 1

Lyon will challenge the decision to end the Ligue 1 season early because of the coronavirus pandemic before the Council of State, France’s highest administrative court.

The club criticised the April 30 ruling made by the French league (LFP) to declare the season over following an announcement by the government that football could not restart because of the health crisis.

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas also wrote a letter on Monday to France’s prime minister and sports minister urging them to reconsider the decision, with the government expected to announce next week a further loosening of the lockdown.

“Could we imagine that 2 June is also a great opportunity to rectify the mistake concerning French football and to allow, with a health protocol used everywhere, a gradual resumption of training and, why not, a resumption of the 2019-20 season over the months of July or August?” Aulas said. Don’t miss today’s bundesliga games on NaijaBet

Lyon, who have reached this season’s Champions League last 16, were left seventh in the standings and outside the European qualification places when the season was halted.

An administrative court in Paris has already rejected an appeal from the club.

Bayern ready to show Dortmund who rules bundesliga

Bayern Munich aim to continue the Bundesliga’s current trend of teams winning on the road behind closed doors when they face Borussia Dortmund in a potential title decider on Tuesday.

Leaders Bayern arrive at second-placed Dortmund four points clear and on course for an eighth straight title.

“For us this is a very decisive week,” insisted Bayern forward Thomas Mueller.

“We’ve clearly set ourselves the goal of three victories this week and taking a giant step forward” towards the league title.

Bayern warmed-up by beating Eintracht Frankfurt 5-2 at the weekend and also host relegation-threatened Fortuna Duesseldorf this Saturday.

Since the Bundesliga resumed ten days ago, behind locked doors due to the coronavirus, home advantage has counted for little with 10 of the 18 games played won by the away team.

Bayern and Dortmund are among only three clubs – the other being Hertha Berlin who thrashed neighbours FC Union 4-0 on Friday – to have won at home since the restart. Start forecasting your games now on NaijaBet.com

Hansi Flick’s Bayern are eager to continue the trend and again assert their dominance over Dortmund, who they routed 4-0 in Munich last November.

Chelsea resumes training while Kante stays away over virus fears

N’Golo Kante has been allowed to stay away from Chelsea’s return to training due to his coronavirus fears.

The French World Cup winner joined up with Frank Lampard’s squad on Tuesday as Chelsea resumed training following the Premier League’s decision to allow socially distanced sessions.

But the 29-year-old missed Wednesday’s small group practice with the blessing of Chelsea manager Frank Lampard, who is reported to have allowed him to train at home on compassionate leave.

Kante, who tested negative for the virus during this week’s first batch of checks, is said to be unconvinced it is safe to train with his teammates while the pandemic is yet to be subdued in Britain.

Black and ethnic minorities are at greater risk of serious illness if they contract the virus, according to the Office for National Statistics. Get free bonus on NaijaBet

Midfielder Kante is understood to have mostly remained indoors with one of his brothers since the suspension of the Premier League season on March 13.

Klopp smile as Reds resumes training again

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said he will not put his players at risk or force them back into action against their will as the Premier League leaders returned to training in small groups on Wednesday.

Klopp’s side were just two victories away from ending a 30-year wait to win the title when the English top-flight was shutdown more than two months ago due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Six positive cases of Covid-19 were detected in the Premier League’s first round of 748 tests of players and staff ahead of a return to socially distanced training this week.

Klopp reiterated his priority is the health of those involved, but believes it is now safe for players to return to phase one of training.

“We would never put anybody in danger to do what we want to do. Yes, we love football, yes, it’s our job, but it’s not more important than our lives or the lives of other people,” Klopp said. Start forecasting your Bundesliga games Now

“In this case if you don’t feel safe, you don’t have to be here.”

Serie A decide on May 28 but resume training

Italy’s Serie A teams have been given the green light to resume group training but will have to wait until May 28 to know whether the season can resume, Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora said on Tuesday.

Spadafora told Italian television that government scientists had accepted the Italian football federation’s (FIGC) revised health protocol.

“The Scientific Technical Committee have approved the FIGC protocol for the resumption of team training,” Spadafora told Rai.

“It is excellent news, collective training can now resume.”

Spadafora said he has scheduled a meeting on May 28 with FIGC president Gabriele Gravina and Lega Serie A chief Paolo Dal Pino to decide on the return to competition.

“We will then decide if and when Serie A will restart,” he said. Make cool cash on today’s SRL on NaijaBet

“The important thing will be to restart with the firm intention of completing the championship, then the federations will decide the modalities and formats to be adopted.”

The minister said that a controversial measure of isolating team members for two weeks at club facilities to limit the risk of contagion has been withdrawn.