Chelsea host Juve, Carrick’s Utd coaching debut, Xavi’s honeymoon – Opera Football Champions League (Tuesday) Preview & Predictions

Welcome! We’re on matchday five of the Champions League now, and here’re all you need to know before the Tuesday matches start! Before our preview begins, please do not hesitate to subscribe to the matches you’re waiting for on our ‘Opera Football’ app, you will surely receive one of the quickest and best livescores & event pushes once the match starts!

Villarreal vs Manchester Utd

How to watch Villarreal vs Manchester United in the 2021-22 Champions  League from India? | Goal.com

Both teams are on seven points at the top of this UEFA Champions League (UCL) group, and depending on Atalanta’s result, Group F can be won with a matchday to spare. Villarreal enter this clash with something to prove, having dropped two points despite leading at half-time in their weekend match at Celta Vigo, although that was a fourth game unbeaten across their last five (W2, D2, L1).
A Villarreal win would see them equal the ten-point tally that was sufficient to win a group containing Manchester United back in their debut UCL campaign (2005/06). History awaits if the hosts can utilise home advantage from the start, as the ‘Yellow Submarine’ are yet to win a H2H (D5, L1) or score before half-time in a UCL clash against the ‘Red Devils’.

The sole defeat in that record came via a devastating stoppage-time winner from Man United’s Cristiano Ronaldo in the reverse clash on matchday two. Times have changed though, and United travel after a bruising 4-1 defeat to Watford on Saturday. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked following, after a third defeat by a 2+ goal margin in five matches.
A win here at the Estadio de la Cerámica should all but secure top spot for United, given their relatively easier finish to this group stage with a game at home to Young Boys on the final matchday. That said, the three-time European champions have conceded 2+ goals in each of their last four UCL away games (D1, L3), illustrating the task that lies ahead for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s replacement.
Players to watch: Villarreal’s Arnaut Danjuma has seen two of his last four goals come in stoppage time of either half. Ronaldo could be ready to haunt Villarreal again though, as he’s closed the scoring in each of Man United’s last three UCL outings (W2, D1).
Hot stat: Each of Villarreal’s UCL games this term have seen at least one goal beyond the 80th minute.
Our prediction: Villarreal 1-1 Manchester Utd

Dyn. Kyiv vs Bayern Munich

Dynamo Kyiv-Bayern | UEFA Champions League | UEFA.com

A 6-1 victory at the weekend pushed Dynamo Kiev top of the Ukrainian Premier League by virtue of goal difference (W12, D2, L1) although the hosts need to improve upon their UEFA Champions League (UCL) form if they’re to qualify from Group E. Sat five points behind second-placed Barcelona with two matches to play, that’s likely to prove a tall order but a third-placed finish and potential Europa League campaign could prove a handy consolation.
The hosts’ attacking output will need to improve drastically if that’s a possibility though. That’s because Dynamo have failed to score in their four UCL matches this campaign (D1, L3) whilst they’ve mustered just nine shots on target, three less than Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski has managed on his own (12)!

Visiting Bayern suffered a shock 2-1 Bundesliga loss to Augsburg last time out, but with the German champions already guaranteed qualification from UCL Group E after four wins from four outings, the pressure is off for this long trip to Ukraine. In fact, top spot in the group will be secured with a game to spare if Bayern can avoid defeat here.
What will be a cause for concern though, is Bayern’s poor recent away record against Ukrainian opposition. The visitors are winless in their last three such matches (D2, L1) and were defeated 2-0 in their last away H2H in 2000. They’re unlikely to be held goalless again here however, as Julian Nagelsmann’s outfit are currently averaging a whopping four goals per match across all competitions this season.
Players to watch: Dynamo’s Vitaliy Buyalskyi has eight goals in 13 league outings this campaign after netting a brace in his last match. Bayern’s Lewandowski has scored in his last eight UCL appearances and is looking to become the first player in competition history to net in nine straight matches on more than one occasion.
Hot stat: Bayern could become the first ever team to score four or more goals in four straight UCL matches.
Our prediction: Dyn. Kyiv 1-4 Bayern Munich

Barcelona vs Benfica

How to watch Barcelona vs Benfica in the 2021-22 Champions League from  India? | Goal.com

A season record 74,418 fans at the Camp Nou witnessed club legend Xavi Hernández’s Barcelona managerial bow in a 1-0 win over Espanyol last weekend. As Xavi etches his name into the record books as the fifth individual to both play for and manage the ‘Blaugrana’ in the UEFA Champions League (UCL), the need for three points supersedes emotion as a win will guarantee progress from the group stages for an 18th season in a row, something which looked beyond reach after starting with consecutive 3-0 losses.
While back-to-back 1-0 UCL wins have put them in pole position for second place, Barça remain shot-shy with only Malmö (four) having fewer shots on target in the competition than their six. Yet, their 11 first-half shots over the weekend vs Espanyol (four on target) is Barça’s season-best for the first period in all competitions, hinting at a change of focus and possibly fortunes.

The scars of a 3-0 loss to Benfica are still fresh though, with that win ending the Portuguese side’s 60-year wait for a win over Barcelona. Back-to-back domestic wins before this trip just plaster over their diminishing UCL form, as Benfica have conceded nine goals across their last two matchdays after starting the group stage with two clean sheets.
Benfica last progressed from the UCL group stages in 2016/17, with the ‘Eagles’ winning just once across their last 13 UCL competition proper away games (W1, D3, L9), and conceding an average of 2.85 goals per game. Whilst a win here would see them leapfrog their hosts – with an easier final matchday ahead – the fanfare surrounding the homecoming of Xavi will make this a difficult assignment for the visitors.
Players to watch: Memphis Depay’s match-winning penalty over the weekend for Barcelona made it a joint-league high seven La Liga points won via his goals (seven) this season. Meanwhile, Benfica’s history-chasing Darwin Núñez has three UCL goals this season and can become just the third player to net three against Barcelona in a single group stage, after his brace in Lisbon.
Hot stat: The team scoring first has lost only once in Barcelona’s 17 competitive matches this
Our prediction: Barcelona 1-0 Benfica

Chelsea vs Juventus

Chelsea vs. Juventus, Champions League: Preview, team news, how to watch -  We Ain't Got No History

It’s going swimmingly in the Premier League for Chelsea who currently sit at the top of the table, yet there’s work to be done if they want to finish top of UEFA Champions League (UCL) Group H (W3, L1). Their one defeat, which came against Juventus in the reverse fixture (1-0), was also the only game in which they conceded in this competition. Consequently they’re three points off the Italian giants with two rounds to play, making this a real six-pointer.
With qualification into the knockout stage all but secure, it’ll be revenge and finishing first that will be the driving motivation heading into this clash. Not only did the ‘Blues’ suffer their first UCL defeat since April against the ‘Old Lady’, but that fixture also extended their winless H2H run against the two-time competition winners to four matches (D2, L2), the last two of which ended in defeat ‘to nil’.

Another win for Massimiliano Allegri’s Juventus would create history. Not only would his team become the first to record three consecutive UCL victories against Chelsea, but they’d also be the first to win four consecutive UCL/European Cup away matches against English opponents. This is a feat they’ll surely be backing themselves to do given their 100% record in the competition so far.
Whilst success on the continent has masked their domestic woes this season – they currently sit outside Serie A’s top six – overall form does look to be on an upward trajectory. They’ve lost only two of their last 11 competitive matches (W8, D1), restricting their opponents to one goal or less in seven of those clashes.
Players to watch: Chelsea’s ever-present creative threat Reece James has registered an assist in three of his last four matches for club and country, whilst Juventus’ Federico Chiesa scored second-half goals in the last H2H and in his team’s most recent UCL win.
Hot stat: Chelsea have won just one of their last ten UCL matches vs Italian opposition (D3, L6).
Our prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Juventus

Lille vs Salzburg

Salzburg vs Lille (Champions League) Highlights

After domestic stalemates over the weekend, Lille and Salzburg turn their attention to their penultimate Group G fixture of the 2021/22 UEFA Champions League (UCL). Starting this matchday occupying the top two places in the group, both clubs could almost certainly book their place in the next stage of the tournament if they get a result, a welcome surprise given that neither team has advanced from a UCL group stage for 15 years!
Lille have hosted two scoreless draws in this group stage against the other two Group G clubs to date (Wolfsburg and Sevilla) and after registering a further three draws from their last four Ligue 1 fixtures – albeit with goals scored in all three – the hosts will be challenging for the title of biggest forearms in Europe after all the arm wrestling they’ve participated in!

Salzburg’s attackers are in need of an energy drink after the team registered just two goals across their last three matches in all competitions (W1, D1, L1). Whilst consecutive clean sheets in the league has kept their enormous lead at the top of the Austria Bundesliga intact, both teams have scored in all six of their UEFA matches this season and thus their recent solid defending appears unlikely to continue.
They’ll even do well to keep Lille off the scoresheet in the first half, having registered three 1-1 results at the break across their four group stage games so far, although the exception did come in their 2-1 home win in the reverse fixture. With an inaugural Round of 16 place to be secured with victory, there’ll be no shortage of both nerves and motivation for the Austrian outfit.
Players to watch: Lille striker Jonathan David has scored first for his club or country in five of his last six appearances of at least 20 minutes, whilst Karim Adeyemi has found the back of the net in three of his last seven Salzburg games in all competitions.
Hot stat: The half-time result has been replicated at full-time in just one of the last eight competitive matches involving either team.
Our prediction: Lille 1-1 Salzburg

Sevilla vs Wolfsburg

Late Ivan Rakitic penalty denies Wolfsburg all three points against Sevilla  | Bundesliga

With only four points separating those at the top and bottom of UEFA Champions League (UCL) Group G, an enticing climax is in store with any outcome possible heading into the penultimate round. Even last-placed Sevilla have destiny in their own hands. They’ve been involved in both a fiesty and fruitless campaign so far, with two of their matches producing a red card (D3, L1), but a pair of victories in their last two group games would be enough to secure progression to the next round.
Home was a sanctuary for ‘Sevillistas Rojiblancos’ this season, until Lille handed them their first defeat of the campaign on their own turf in all competitions last round (W5, D2). A visit from Wolfsburg will have the Sevilla faithful on the edge of their seats, with their team only previously securing two wins in their nine UCL fixtures against German opposition (D4, L3 – excluding qualifiers).
Wolfsburg know they need a positive result in order to avoid requiring favours from others come the final round of the group stages. Anything but a loss will set up what will essentially be a playoff with Lille on the final matchday, as the visitors are currently deadlocked on five points with the reigning Ligue 1 champions.
Manager Florian Kohfeldt will be instructing his troops to focus on their concentration here given that they dropped two valuable points against Sevilla in the 87th minute in the reverse fixture. But winning only three of their previous ten UCL road games shows the magnitude of the task that awaits the ‘Wolves’ should they wish to progress (D1, L6).
Players to watch: Sevilla midfielder Ivan Rakitić, who scored in the reverse, has never lost a UCL game when getting on the scoresheet (W7, D2). Opposing him is Lukas Nmecha, who has seen five of his last seven goals come away from home for Wolfsburg.
Hot stat: Sevilla have failed to win any of their last five UCL group games on matchday five (D1, L4).
Our prediction: Sevilla 2-2 Wolfsburg

Young Boys vs Atalanta

How to watch Atalanta v Young Boys in the Champions League: Start time, TV  channel, streaming and more | Forza Italian Football

On this penultimate matchday of the UEFA Champions League (UCL) group stage, things are looking wide open in terms of qualification in Group F. All four teams can technically still finish in the top two, although Atalanta would condemn Young Boys to bottom spot if they win here at the Wankdorf Stadium after the Swiss outfit lost all of their group games following their shock matchday one victory vs Manchester United.
Another defeat here for the hosts would give Swiss Champions Young Boys an unwanted record too – their first set of four consecutive defeats in a major European competition. Indeed, a four-game winless run in all competitions coming into this game doesn’t give David Wagner’s men much confidence (D1, L3), although they do hold a solid home record vs Italian opposition (W3, L1).
While Atalanta didn’t make their debut in Europe’s premier competition until 2018/19, they have progressed to the knockout stages in both of their prior group stage appearances. As such, the Bergamo-based outfit will want to make it three for three this time around and they will likely set up a straight shootout for qualification with Villarreal on the final day if they can win here.
It’s been tough for Atalanta on their European travels this season, as they’ve failed to win both of their away group games this term despite scoring twice in both. However, this game is certainly the easiest on paper after travelling to Man United and Villarreal prior, so a callback to last season’s perfect away group return would be welcome here.
Players to watch: With their league top scorer injured, Young Boys may rely on Jordan Siebatcheu for a goal here – but just three of his ten competitive strikes this term were match openers. Atalanta’s Duván Zapata has contributed to more goals in this UCL group (G1, A3) than Young Boys have scored altogether (three).
Hot stat: Just four of the 32 UCL group sides have received fewer than Atalanta’s six yellow cards so far.
Our prediction: Young Boys 0-2 Atalanta

Malmo FF vs Zenit

Malmo FF vs Zenit Prediction 23 November 2021 . Free Betting Tips, Picks  and Predictions

Rooted to the foot of Group H in this season’s UEFA Champions League (UCL), Swedish champions Malmö will need a drastic change of fortune to avoid finishing dead-last this time round. They’ve collected the wooden spoon in their previous two UCL group stage appearances, but managed to pick up a win in both those previous campaigns too.
The Eleda Stadium has played host to both of Malmö’s prior UCL victories, with those results including their only clean sheets kept in the continent’s showpiece club competition. A rare feat indeed for ‘Di blåe’, who have lost all their other 14 UCL group games by an astonishing aggregate of 48-2.
One of those heavy defeats came against Zenit Saint Petersburg, who registered their largest ever margin of victory in the UCL (excluding qualifiers) with their 4-0 trouncing of the hosts in the reverse fixture. A win here for Zenit would at least guarantee them entry into the preliminary knockout round of the UEFA Europa League, while keeping alive their slim hopes of snatching second place if results elsewhere also go their way.
The Russian side are looking for a first victory on their UCL travels since securing back-to-back victories in the 2015/16 season, losing nine of their ten away games since. They’ll be favourites in their first-ever trip to Sweden, as the champions of the Russian Premier League battle it out with the champions of the Allsvenskan.
Players to watch: Malmö’s Veljko Birmančević has scored his last five domestic goals in the first half. Albeit in qualifiers, two of Birmančević’s four UCL goals have proven decisive. Often key to the opposition’s best attacking moves, Artem Dzyuba has contributed seven goals in his last five appearances for Zenit (G5, A2).
Hot stat: Zenit have seen nine of the 12 total goals scored in their UCL games this season come beyond half-time.
Our prediction: Malmo FF 1-3 Zenit

Opera Football Weekend Preview: Liverpool host Arsenal, Xavi’s Barca coaching debut, Leicester vs Chelsea & more – details and predictions

Hey! The international break has finally gone, do you miss league games? Time to have a preview of key matches this weekend!

Liverpool vs Arsenal

Kick-Off

20.11.2021 17:30 (utc)

Probable Lineups

Summary

Liverpool saw their 20-game unbeaten run in the top flight come to a sudden halt prior to the international break, going down 3-2 to West Ham. That makes welcoming opponents Arsenal to Anfield all the more enticing, with just two points separating them coming into the weekend, and as Liverpool’s last three league defeats have now come against London clubs!

Salah next? The 11 players given a new Liverpool contract in 2021-22 -  Planet Football


The ‘Reds’ currently boast a nine-game unbeaten league home run (W5, D4), albeit having drawn their last two despite taking the lead in both games. The four points dropped in those two matches are as many as they surrendered from winning positions in their previous 23 league games at Anfield. A visit from Arsenal could therefore be the tonic for Liverpool to get back on track, as the Merseysiders have won the last five home league H2Hs, finding the net at least three times on all occasions.
But Arsenal are one of the league’s most in-form teams at the moment as Mikel Arteta’s youth-oriented strategy finally seems to be uniting fans of the team. Their current eight-game unbeaten streak (W6, D2) is actually the longest of all PL clubs and you have to go back to August to December 2018 to find the last time they embarked on a longer top-flight run without defeat.
After the hysteria surrounding starting the season with three defeats, the ‘Gunners’ have catapulted themselves to the cusp of the top four. They’ve kept three consecutive PL clean sheets on their travels and are now on the verge of securing four successive top-flight away shutouts for the first time since May 2005. That’s a big ask here though, as they’ve won only one of the last 12 league H2Hs against Liverpool (D4, L7), keeping one clean sheet in that time.
Players to watch: Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah has seven goal contributions in five home PL games against Arsenal (G5, A2), whose in-form youngster Emile Smith Rowe has seen four of his six PL goals arrive in the first 30 minutes of play.
Hot stat: Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp’s average of 2.18 points per game against Arsenal is the third-highest points per game ratio of all managers who have faced Arsenal 5+ times in the PL.

Match Facts & Betting Odds

There have been over 2.5 goals scored in Liverpool’s last 8 games (Premier League).
Over 2.5 goals 1.50
Liverpool have scored at least 2 goals in their last 8 matches (Premier League).
Over 1.5 goals 1.16
Arsenal have kept a clean sheet in their last 3 away matches (Premier League).
Arsenal win or draw 2.62
Liverpool are undefeated in their last 10 home matches against Arsenal in all competitions.
Liverpool win or draw 1.11
Liverpool are undefeated in their last 9 home matches (Premier League).
Liverpool win or draw 1.11
Arsenal have won their last 3 matches (Premier League).
Arsenal win 6.50
There have been under 2.5 goals scored in Arsenal’s last 3 away games (Premier League).
Under 2.5 goals 2.62

Opera Football Prediction

Liverpool suffered their first defeat of the season last time out before the international break, losing 3-2 away to West Ham in a thrilling game.
Arsenal now hold the longest unbeaten run in the division as a result, eight games without defeat in the Premier League.
Liverpool remain favourites but they haven’t been as solid at the back this season as normal. They are struggling to get the right balance in midfield without Gini Wijnaldum.
Liverpool have won their last five home league matches against Arsenal but Mikel Arteta’s side will give them a tough game on current form.
So, Liverpool 2-1 Arsenal

Leicester City vs Chelsea

Kick-Off

20.11.2021 12:30 (utc)

Probable Lineups

Summary

Things aren’t quite right at Leicester City with their pre-season expectation to challenge the top four currently off-track as they languish in the bottom half of the Premier League (PL) standings. Compounding matters further for the hosts is the fact that manager Brendan Rodgers is heavily linked with a move away from the club, stirring further unrest amongst their ranks.
An optimistic fan would point to Leicester beginning this weekend just five points off the top five and being unbeaten in five of their last six PL games (W2, D3, L1). However, if Rodgers’ record against high-flying Chelsea is anything to go by, this will be a tough afternoon for the hosts (W2, D8, L8) though those outings are usually tight affairs, with eight of the last ten producing two or fewer total goals.

Chelsea at Leicester predicted XI: Tuchel turns to 3-4-2-1 in PL return


The international break came at the perfect time for title-chasing Chelsea, who had dropped points for just the third time this season prior with a frustrating 1-1 home draw against Burnley. Boss Thomas Tuchel also had a lengthy list of injuries to contend with and the break has given those individuals time to step up their recovery efforts ahead of the PL return.
Extremely solid when playing away, Chelsea have picked up 13 of a possible 15 points on their travels so far (W4, D1) and are one of just two unbeaten PL away sides, alongside Brighton. That form has been built on a solid defensive unit that has conceded just once across five PL away games this campaign.
Players to watch: Leicester’s Patson Daka became the first Zambian to score in the PL after his strike here just last month, he also netted over the international break. Another player who scored for their country during the break was Chelsea and Germany star Kai Havertz; he’s led the line in the absence of Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner.
Hot stat: No PL side has picked up fewer yellow cards than Chelsea’s 12 this season (1.09 per match on average).

Match Facts & Betting Odds

Chelsea have kept a clean sheet in their last 3 away matches (Premier League).
Chelsea win or draw 1.18
Chelsea have won their last 3 away matches (Premier League).
Chelsea win1.75
Leicester have conceded at least 2 goals in their last 3 home matches (Premier League).
Over 1.5 goals1.30

Opera Football Prediction

Leicester are winless in three (D2, L1) and are already seven points adrift of fourth place.
Chelsea are three points clear at the top of the Premier League but dropped points to Burnley last time out.
Chelsea have only won one of their last four away to Leicester but will be considered favourites here.

So, Leicester 0-1 Chelsea.

Barcelona vs Espanyol

Kick-Off

21.11.2021 20:00 (utc)

Probable Lineups

Summary

Club legend Xavi Hernández returns to Barcelona, but this time in the dugout, as he’s charged with turning around what is the club’s second lowest 12-game La Liga (LL) points tally in the 21st century. Their 3-3 draw (after being 3-0 up) against Celta Vigo before the international break extended Barça’s winless LL streak (D2, L2) and summed up the on-field problems and morale-sapping results that Xavi must now address.

The three requests Xavi has made to Barça as he takes over as coach
Xavi’s Barca coaching debut

The new boss couldn’t have chosen a better first game than the ‘Derbi Barceloní’, as Barcelona are unbeaten in 22 LL matches against city rivals Espanyol (W17, D5) – their longest-ever undefeated H2H streak against their derby foes. As Xavi plots a way to make the Nou Camp a fortress again, he’ll expect to extend Barcelona’s 11-game winning LL H2H home run.
H2H history can only get you so far though, and what Espanyol have is improving form in their corner with three wins across six LL games (W3, D2, L1) – as many victories as they managed across their previous 25 LL fixtures. Three points here will actually propel Espanyol above Barcelona, and possibly heal some of the wounds of a 1-0 loss here back in July 2020 that relegated the visitors.
Alternating between draw and defeat on the road since the start of the season (D3, L3), gaining a first win at the Nou Camp since February 2009 – a match that saw Barça boss Xavi play in midfield – seems a stretch of the imagination. However a stalemate would add to Espanyol’s H2H draw record of 38, which is more than they have recorded against any other LL opponent.
Key battle: Barça’s Marc-André ter Stegen has gone six LL games without a clean sheet, but does have a joint-personal best of seven H2H LL clean sheets to his name. He will have to stop red-hot Raúl de Tomás who is looking to become only the second Espanyol player in the 21st century to score in six consecutive LL games.
Hot stat: No side has seen more match goals (eight) beyond the 80th minute in LL home games than Barcelona.

Match Facts

Barcelona have kept a clean sheet in their last 5 home matches against Espanyol in all competitions.
Barcelona win or draw 1.08
Espanyol have failed to win their last 15 away matches (LaLiga).
Espanyol lose or draw 1.08
Barcelona have seen under 2.5 goals in their last 4 home matches against Espanyol in all competitions.
Under 2.5 goals 2.37
Barcelona have won 5 of their last 6 home matches against Espanyol in all competitions.
Barcelona win 1.36
Espanyol have conceded at least 2 goals in their last 4 away matches (LaLiga).
Over 1.5 goals 1.20

Opera Football Prediction

It has been a busy international break for Barcelona, who appointed legendary midfielder Xavi Hernandez as their new head coach and brought back another favourite in Dani Alves, although the experienced full-back can’t play until January.
Barca head into the derby with Espanyol in pretty poor form, and are currently ninth in the table. They blew a three-goal lead last time out against Celta Vigo to draw 3-3, conceding in stoppage time.
Before that, they did manage beat Dynamo Kyiv in the Champions League, but even that followed a disappointing draw with Alaves in La Liga.
Espanyol picked up an impressive 2-0 win last time out over a resurgent Granada thanks to goals from Raul de Tomas and Adria Pedrosa. It was an important response from Vicente Moreno’s men after suffering a defeat to bottom club Getafe.
Espanyol have won three of their last six and only lost once, so they come into this game in very good form, although Xavi’s homecoming at Camp Nou has a Barcelona win written all over it.
So, Barcelona 2-0 Espanyol

Watford vs Manchester United

Kick-Off

20.11.2021 15:00 (utc)

Probable Lineups

Summary

Claudio Ranieri hasn’t quite enjoyed the ‘new manager bounce’ Watford fans were hoping for, winning just one of his four Premier League (PL) matches in charge (L3). This contributed to his side heading into the international break only two points above the drop zone, hardly ideal with Manchester United up next, especially as they’ve suffered more PL defeats against them than any other side (W2, L12).
If the ‘Hornets’ are to get back on the right side of the results, then rediscovering their threat in front of goal will be key. They’ve failed to score in a joint league-high seven matches this season, a problem that’s amplified when you’re averaging 1.73 goals against per game. Yet it’s worth noting that they did win and bag 3+ goals in three of the four matches that they did score, suggesting any win could be via a thriller.
With manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær still under mounting pressure, Manchester United won’t care how they win, just as long as they do. However, the ‘Red Devils’ boast only one PL success across their last six encounters (D1, L4), with those four defeats representing as many as they had in their previous 40 matches in the competition (W24, D12).
Although the visitors hold a dominant H2H record against the hosts, recent issues overcoming newly-promoted sides will be causing Solskjær serious angst. United are winless in their last three PL matches against newly-promoted teams (D3) and could go four without a win in such matches for the first time since 1997!
Players to watch: Josh King scored a hat-trick in Watford’s last goalscoring match, and he’s netted in two of his last three games vs United. Across spells with Real Madrid and Juventus, Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 20 goals in his last 14 league games against promoted teams.
Hot stat: Watford are without a clean sheet in 21 PL matches, that’s their longest ever run without one in the top flight.

Match Facts & Betting Odds

Man Utd have won 15 of their last 17 matches against Watford in all competitions.
Man Utd win 1.45
Man Utd are undefeated in 30 of their last 31 away matches (Premier League).
Man Utd win or draw 1.11
Man Utd have been winning at both half time and full time in 7 of their last 8 matches against Watford in all competitions.
Man Utd win/win 2.30
There have been over 2.5 goals scored in Man Utd’s last 3 away games (Premier League).
Over 2.5 goals 1.66
Man Utd have scored at least 2 goals in their last 3 away matches (Premier League).
Over 1.5 goals 1.20

Opera Football Prediction

Watford have lost three of Claudio Ranieri’s first four matches in charge. After a shock 5-2 win away to Everton, Watford have suffered back-to-back 1-0 defeats to Southampton and Arsenal.
The international break came at the right time for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, though the pressure is still on. Supporters are quickly losing faith after a very bad start to the season.
United have lost four of their last six in the Premier League and have generally struggled at Vicarage Road in recent times.
United have conceded in each of their last seven matches away to Watford and only have two clean sheets in two of 11 league matches this season. It looks like they’ll have to do it the hard away again here.
So, Watford 1-1 Man Utd

Manchester City vs Everton

Kick-Off

21.11.2021 14:00 (utc)

Probable Lineups

Summary

Manchester City are one of just three clubs ever to successfully defend a Premier League (PL) crown, though only Manchester United have retained PL titles on more than one occasion. Yet, with City beating United themselves just before the international break, they will feel confident of building on that and keeping pace with the title race, especially after eight successive wins against opponents Everton across all competitions.
After a shock home defeat to Crystal Palace late last month, City will target a strong start, as they last failed to win a PL home game after scoring in the opening 15 minutes back in September 2020. Another loss certainly seems unthinkable, with City never losing successive home league games in front of attending fans under Pep Guardiola (2016/17-present).
Everton’s last game before the November international break (0-0 vs Tottenham) saw them record their first clean sheet since September 25. The same result would be a huge boost to the mid-table ‘Toffees’, though they’ve not kept successive PL clean sheets since May.
Following a 5-0 defeat here on the final weekend of 2020/21, Everton’s last away win against City dates back to December 2010. That hoodoo looks set to survive, though neither of Everton’s last two away league clashes against a reigning champion (W1, L1) have seen them fail to cover a +1 handicap.
Key battle: Man City’s Phil Foden scored in both league H2Hs last term, whilst four of his last six PL goals have been second in the overall order on the day. Though personally goalless since September 2017, former City man Fabian Delph may be a worthy foe for him in the centre of the park, after a strong performance against Spurs earlier this month.
Hot streak: City’s last six PL wins by 2+ goals have seen them score inside the first 15 minutes.

Match Facts

Man City have won their last 8 matches against Everton in all competitions.
Man City win 1.14
Man City have scored at least 2 goals in their last 8 matches against Everton in all competitions.
Over 1.5 goals 1.14
Man City have seen over 2.5 goals in their last 3 home matches against Everton in all competitions.
Over 2.5 goals 1.44
There have been under 2.5 goals scored in Man City’s last 3 home games (Premier League).
Under 2.5 goals 2.75
Man City are undefeated in 9 of their last 10 matches (Premier League).
Man City win or draw 1.02
Everton have failed to win their last 5 matches (Premier League).
Everton lose or draw 1.02

Opera Football Prediction

Manchester City bounced back from a 2-0 defeat to Crystal Palace with an easy 2-0 win over Manchester United before the international break. They start the weekend 3 points behind the leaders Chelsea.
Everton are winless in 5 league matches and have lost 3 times in that spell. They have won one of five away league matches this season.
So, Man City 3-0 Everton

Tottenham vs Leeds

Kick-Off

21.11.2021 16:30 (utc)

Probable Lineups

Summary

The weekend’s Premier League (PL) action concludes with what should be an entertaining 100th competitive clash between Tottenham Hotspur and Leeds United. Around 8,000 fans watched on as Tottenham won 2-1 in the first edition of this game at the old White Hart Lane back in 1925 and new manager Antonio Conte would surely take a repeat of that result here on what is his home league debut as Spurs boss.
The highly-coveted Italian manager will be confident of getting his tenure off to a flyer as he won at least once against each of the 53 teams he faced across his prior Serie A and PL appointments. However, he will need to get Tottenham scoring in order to achieve that feat in what will be his first meeting with Leeds, as only Norwich have netted fewer than their nine PL goals this term while they are now without a goal in three straight league games!
Leeds are another side desperately struggling for goals, as only Tottenham and Norwich have scored fewer than their 11 in the league so far. As a consequence, there’s already been unwanted talk of ‘second-season syndrome’ at the club as their cult hero manager Marcelo Bielsa looks to steer the off-colour ‘Lilywhites’ away from the relegation dogfight.
While Leeds gained a confidence boost when winning their first away league game of the season at rock-bottom Norwich, the quality of the opponents there will leave fans under no illusions that they should temper their expectations here. They may well score as they did in five of the last seven away H2Hs, though victory in this game would be their first at Spurs since 2001 (D1, L4 since).
Players to watch: Harry Kane should return to Spurs full of confidence after scoring seven goals in two games across the international break for England. Meanwhile, Leeds forward Rodrigo has scored twice in his three career appearances against Tottenham, both coming in 3-1 victories.
Hot stat: Tottenham haven’t had a shot on target in two straight PL games.

Opera Football Prediction

Tottenham failed to have a shot on target for the second league game running in their 0-0 draw at Everton prior to the international break but will be confident of getting back among the goals when they welcome a Leeds side that has conceded 18 times to north London.
The Whites secured an important victory in their last away game, returning to Yorkshire from Norwich with all the spoils. However, they are winless in their last five trips to Spurs, losing four, including a 3-0 defeat here at the beginning of the year.
Antonio Conte will have worked those not on international duty hard at Hotspur Way and as he aims to get his ideas across, Spurs could make it two wins from three under their new boss in Sunday’s afternoon encounter.
So, Tottenham 2-1 Leeds

Wolves vs West Ham

Kick-Off

20.11.2021 15:00

Probable Lineups

Summary

Wolverhampton Wanderers will be itching to return from the international break to right some wrongs after forfeiting their five-game undefeated streak (W4, D1) in the Premier League (PL) by losing 2-0 to Crystal Palace last time out. In hindsight though, even Wolves will be happy with their recent recovery after a shaky start to the season, and it seems consistency is eventually paying off after using just 18 different players in the league, the joint fewest of any team.
Boss Bruno Lage and his men will likely be happy to return to Molineux after winning their last two home PL fixtures, as many as they’ve managed in the nine such fixtures prior (L7). They now chase a hat-trick of home top-flight league victories for the first time since November 1980.
They’ll welcome current PL high-flyers West Ham who must still be on cloud nine after their 3-2 win over Liverpool before the international hiatus put them into third place. That monumental win was their fourth PL victory in a row – the longest winning streak in the league – and they’ll now aim to win five PL games on the bounce for the first time since February 2006.
The ‘Hammers’ have been breaking down doors on their travels lately, as their current 11-game unbeaten streak away from home in all competitions (W8, D3) is their longest ever undefeated away run as a top-flight club. They did the league double over their hosts last season, which was their first time doing so since 1922/23 – the same season in which West Ham last won back-to-back away league matches at Wolves!
Players to watch: Wolves’ Raúl Jiménez has seen 14 of his last 17 PL goals arrive in the second half, while West Ham’s Jarrod Bowen scored three goals in the two PL H2H matches last season, and has now averaged a goal every 77 minutes vs Wolves across three PL H2Hs.
Hot stat: No side has scored more set-piece goals (excluding penalties) than West Ham’s six this PL campaign.

Match Facts & Odds

West Ham have won their last 4 matches (Premier League).
West Ham win 2.40
Wolves have scored at least 2 goals in their last 3 home matches against West Ham in all competitions.
Over 1.5 goals 1.33

Opera Football Prediction
Wolves’ five-game unbeaten streak came to an end last time out in a 2-0 defeat to Crystal Palace.
Wolves are yet to keep a clean sheet at home in the Premier League this season.
West Ham have won six of their last seven after beating Liverpool 3-2 before the break.
With six goals conceded over their last three games, West Ham are not watertight at the back either.
Nine goals have been scored across the last two meetings between the sides so we should expect another entertaining affair here.
So, Wolves 1-2 West Ham?

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When is the 2021 Ballon d’Or and who is nominated? Lionel Messi, Robert Lewandowski, Jorginho favourite

14 days to go! The winners of the 2021 Ballon d’Or awards are set to be announced in November, with Lionel Messi bidding to win the men’s prize for a record-extending seventh time. Robert Lewandowski is his main rival, while Barcelona’s Alexia Putellas and Chelsea’s Sam Kerr look to be the favourites for the women’s Ballon d’Or.

Leaked Ballon d'Or list has Lewandowski as the winner | Marca

The 2021 men’s Ballon d’Or winner will be announced later this month with Lionel Messi, Robert Lewandowski and Jorginho the front-runners to win the award.

The ceremony was not held last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and it looks a close race to decide this year’s winner. The women’s Ballon d’Or will also be held for the third time, with Barcelona’s Alexia Putellas and Chelsea’s Sam Kerr among the favourites.

Here’s all you need to know about the ceremony, the favourites, and how to follow…

WHEN IS THE 2021 BALLON D’OR CEREMONY?

The ceremony will take place in Paris on November 29, 2021.

HOW CAN I WATCH THE CEREMONY?

You will be able to watch the ceremony on L’Equipe‘s YouTube channel.

HOW DOES THE VOTING WORK?

The initial 30-player shortlist is assembled by an editorial team at France Football magazine. A jury of journalists representing a variety of nations then votes for the players they believe should come in first, second and third.

WHO HAS BEEN NOMINATED FOR THE MEN’S AWARD?

Lionel Messi is the current holder of the trophy after being crowned the winner in 2019, and after a magnificent year where he played 48 games, scored 40 goals and led Argentina to their first Copa America title since 1993, his former team-mate Luis Suarez believes that the Paris-Saint Germain star is a no-brainer for the award.

“For the Ballon d’Or, you should not only have to look at what someone has done in a year, but you also have to look at how someone is as a player,” Suarez told Ole. “I believe that Messi has no rival.”

Messi won the player of the tournament as Argentina lifted the Copa America and he also led Barca to Copa del Rey success before leaving in the summer. Even though he has made a slow start at PSG, Barcelona defender Gerard Pique believes Messi has the all-around factors that makes him deserving of the award.

“I think Leo will win Ballon d’Or for sure,” he told Spanish broadcaster Ibai Llanos. “If it’s valuing trophies plus performance plus figures…The winner is also Leo. Leo should have won more than seven times.”

But Messi faces a strong rival in Robert Lewandowski.

Lewandowski scored 41 goals in 29 Bundesliga games last season to break Gerd Muller’s 49-year record. He also finished as the top scorer in Europe and broke a club record for scoring in 19 consecutive matches for Bayern Munich.
“I can’t think of anyone else deserving the award like he does after he over the past years continuously delivered goals,” said Bayern head coach Julian Nagelsmann.

Lewandowski’s goals helped Bayern win five trophies, while he has also netted nine goals in 11 appearances for Poland this year.
“Collectively and individually I don’t think I could have done more,” he said.

If the award comes down to weight of trophies then Chelsea midfielder Jorginho also has a case.

The Italian was named the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year for the 2020/2021 season after winning the Champions League and Euro 2020 within a few months of each other. While he doesn’t have the same goal stats as Messi and Lewandowski, Jorginho is hopeful that others factors will be taken into account in the voting.

“It’s not up to me to say if I should win the Ballon d’Or, but it would be an incentive for other players, to show that not only goals are taken into account.”
Jorginho says that if he had a vote then it would go to Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne.

“I believe I’d vote for Kevin De Bruyne for everything he’s been doing and for the beautiful football he’s been showing in recent years. For those who like football, it’s great to see him play because he understands football, he is a player with above-average intelligence.”

De Bruyne is behind the likes of Karim Benzema, Mohamed Salah and Gianluigi Donnarumma in the betting.

Full list of men’s nominees: Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Nicolo Barella (Inter Milan), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), Ruben Dias (Manchester City), Gianluigi Donnarumma (Paris Saint-Germain), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund), Jorginho (Chelsea), Harry Kane (Tottenham), N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Simon Kjaer (AC Milan), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea), Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City), Lautaro Martinez (Inter Milan), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain), Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Gerard Moreno (Villarreal), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain), Pedri (Barcelona), Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Luis Suarez (Atletico Madrid)

WHO IS THE NOMINATED FOR THE WOMEN’S AWARD?

Alexia Putellas is favourite to add the Ballon d’Or to her UEFA Women’s Player of the Year Award.
The Barcelona midfielder was key to her side’s treble-winning season, scoring in the Champions League final and netting twice in the Copa de la Reina final.
Sam Kerr looks to be her main rival after a brilliant season for Chelsea that saw her win the Golden Boot in the Women’s Super League and fire her side to a league and cup double. She also impressed for Australia at the Olympics, scoring six goals in six games, and is one of five Chelsea players on the shortlist along with Denmark’s Pernille Harder, Sweden’s Magdalena Eriksson, Canada’s Jessie Fleming and England’s Fran Kirby.

Barcelona’s Jenni Hermoso is also in the running after continuing her superb goalscoring form, finishing as the top scorer in the league for the fifth time in six seasons. She also helped Barca win the Champions League with six goals in the tournament but missed the first two months of this season due to an ankle injury.

Full list of women’s nominees: Kadidiatou Diani (PSG), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Jennifer Hermoso (Barcelona), Christiane Endler (Lyon), Christine Sinclair (Thorns FC), Ashley Lawrence (PSG), Irene Paredes (PSG, Barcelona), Jessie Fleming (Chelsea), Lieke Martens (Barcelona), Sandra Panos (Barcelona), Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal), Ellen White (Manchester City), Pernille Harder (Chelsea), Sam Mewis (North Carolina Courage), Wendie Renard (Lyon), Marie-Antoinette Katoto (PSG), Stina Blackstenius (Hacken), Magdalena Eriksson (Chelsea), Sam Kerr (Chelsea), Alexia Putellas (Barcelona)

WHO ARE THE BOOKMAKERS’ FAVOURITE TO WIN?

Lionel Messi 1/2
Robert Lewandowski 3/1
Mohamed Salah 25/1
Jorginho 33/1
Karim Benzema 33/1
Gianluigi Donnarumma 66/1

Who do you think will win Ballon d’Or these two years? Leave your comment below and share your favourite!

WC Qualifiers Highlights: Germany 9-0 Liechtenstein, Greece 0-1 Spain, Brazil 1-0 Colombia & more

Germany 9-0 Liechtenstein

Hansi Flick made history as the first Germany coach to win his first six games in charge, with his Covid-affected side thrashing 10-man Liechtenstein in a World Cup qualifier.

Germany on Twitter: "GERMANY 9 LIECHTENSTEIN 0 #DieMannschaft #GERLIE 9-0  https://t.co/VBtitygHpz" / Twitter

Flick had to make numerous changes, with five players out because of defender Niklas Sule’s Covid infection.

Thomas Muller and Leroy Sane both scored twice for the hosts, who have already qualified for Qatar 2022.

Liechtenstein were reduced to 10 men inside the first 10 minutes.

Jens Hofer was sent off for kicking Leon Goretzka with a high challenge in the face, and after a short delay, Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan converted the resulting penalty.

It got worse for the visitors, who conceded three goals in three minutes, starting with Daniel Kaufmann turning in an own goal in the 20th.

Sane then slotted in before Marco Reus added another.

With Flick’s predecessor Joachim Low, who received an official farewell before the game, watching from the stands, Germany struck again four minutes after the restart with Sane before late goals from Muller and Ridle Baku.

Muller then scored his second in the 86th before another own goal by Liechtenstein, this time from Max Goppel.

Highlights:

Greece 0-1 Spain

Sarabia penalty puts qualification in La Roja’s hands.

Image

Spain have World Cup qualification in their own hands going into the final round of games after winning 1-0 in Greece.

Luis Enrique’s side took advantage of a surprise slip from previous Group B leaders Sweden, who lost 2-0 in Georgia earlier on Thursday, to leapfrog them into first place.

Spain had never lost away to Greece in four previous meetings, and a first-half penalty from Pablo Sarabia increased that record to four wins and one draw.

They will book their place at Qatar 2022 if they can avoid defeat to Sweden on Sunday in Seville.

The visitors unsurprisingly dominated possession but created little early on against a well-organised Greece.

The home side thought they had taken the lead on 21 minutes as Giorgos Masouras finished well from a Thanasis Androutsos throughball, but the Olympiakos forward was offside.

Just three minutes later, Spain were awarded a penalty after Inigo Martinez was felled in the box by Dimitris Giannoulis following a corner, and Sarabia sent Odisseas Vlachodimos the wrong way to put ‘La Roja’ ahead.

Highlights:

The hosts needed a win to keep alive any hopes of qualification themselves and started to gamble a little more towards the end of the game, but Spain remained relatively calm as they eased to a vital win in Athens.

Republic of Ireland 0-0 Portugal

Selecao held to set up tantalising Serbia decider in Group A

Selecao held to set up tantalising Serbia decider in Group A. GOAL

Portugal travelled to the Republic of Ireland for the first time since 2005 but could only muster a draw against Stephen Kenny’s side.

Portugal were held to a goalless draw by the Republic of Ireland to leave Sunday’s clash with Serbia as the decider for top spot in World Cup qualifying Group A.

Fernando Santos’ men had scored 16 goals during their five-game winning streak across all competitions but could only muster two shots on target during a frustrating outing in Dublin.

Cristiano Ronaldo went the closest, though even the all-time leading scorer in men’s international football could not break the deadlock in Thursday’s clash.

The visitors, who saw Pepe dismissed late on for two bookable offences, and Serbia both sit on 17 points with one game remaining as the latter travel to Lisbon for a winner-takes-all decider.

Andre Silva forced the first save of the contest from Gavin Bazunu before Seamus Coleman’s excellent last-ditch block denied Ronaldo as the visitors dominated the early proceedings.

However, the Republic of Ireland responded well and should have taken the lead on the stroke of half-time but Chiedozie Ogbene could only head over from close range.

Stephen Kenny’s men continued industriously after the interval and almost punished Matheus Nunes’ concentration lapse when Josh Cullen curled into Rui Patricio’s hands.

Ronaldo, who later fired narrowly off target, then nodded wide following Silva’s cross before the hosts saw Enda Stevens whip over from Ogbene’s inviting delivery.

Highlights:

The visitors, who had Pepe dismissed for a second bookable offence after catching Callum Robinson with his hand, managed to hold on for a point despite the hosts thinking they had found a late winner through Matt Doherty, Will Keane’s foul on Patricio cutting short the celebrations.

Brazil 1-0 Colombia

Paqueta nets from Neymar assist, Brazil claim another win

In a close match with few options, Lucas Paquetá scored the winning goal for the Brazilians, who remain leaders and undefeated in the knockout stage.

Highlight:

PSG Women star in custody on allegations of hiring men to injure her teammate

PSG confirm women’s midfielder Aminata Diallo was taken into police custody today ‘following an attack on the club’s players.’

Midfielders Diallo, 26, and Hamraoui, 31, vie for the same spot in the PSG starting XI.

And stunning reports claim Diallo hired two masked men to physically attack Hamraoui in a bid to injure her so she could take her position in the team.

French outlet L’Equipe say two masked men dragged Hamraoui out of her car before punching and hitting her legs in an attempt to hurt her.

An iron bar was used repeatedly to attack Hamraoui’s legs during the shocking ordeal which occurred last Thursday.

PSG have since released a statement on the incident.

“Paris Saint-Germain take note of Aminata Diallo’s police custody this morning by the Versailles SRPJ as part of the proceedings initiated following an assault last Thursday evening against Club players,” the statement reads.

“Paris Saint-Germain strongly condemns the violence committed. Since Thursday evening November 4, the Club has taken all the necessary measures to guarantee the health, well-being and safety of its players.

“Paris Saint-Germain is working with the Versailles SRPJ to shed light on the facts.

“The Club is attentive to the progress of the procedure and will study the follow-up to be given to it.”

Diallo started in PSG’s UWCL match vs. Real Madrid yesterday, while Hamraoui was not in the squad.