Tottenham Hotspur is primed to qualify for a second-straight UEFA Champions League campaign this year, and will have to start that sophomore run without Dele Alli.
The 20-year-old playmaker has banned for his next three matches. If Spurs finish fourth, that would mean both qualifying matches and an additional match.
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If they finish higher, Dele will miss the first three group stage matches.
Dele was shown red for a tackle on Brecht Dejaegere in Spurs’ 2-2 draw with Gent in the UEFA Europa League Round of 32, as Tottenham left the tournament.
Those looking for Manchester United conspiracy theories will meet their match in the UEFA Europa League quarterfinal draw.
Jose Mourinho’s Red Devils will face Anderlecht, arguably one of the two best draws in the tournament, as United aims for a tournament title and an automatic spot in the Champions League.
[ MORE: Champions League quarterfinal draw ]
Anderlecht and Man Utd have matched up six times in European Cup history, with the Red Devils winning four of six matches and all three ties. United won 7-2 on aggregate the last time the sides met, the 2000-01 group stage.
— Ex-United winger Memphis Depay and Lyon have a tricky draw with Turkish powers Besiktas.
— Dutch side Ajax will tangle with Bundesliga side Schalke.
— Genk outlasted Gent, and now draws La Liga’s Celta Vigo.
Jose Mourinho says Paul Pogba doesn’t care about criticism, but the Manchester United manager sure does.
Mourinho spent a good portion of Wednesday’s press conference defending the midfielder as United prepares for the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 second leg against Rostov.
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“Envy is everywhere,” Mourinho said. Here’s more, from the BBC:
“I feel the world is losing balance. Envy coming to certain levels. I am scared for the next generation,” said Mourinho.
“[It’s] not Paul’s fault he gets 10 times money and some ex players need money. I and the club are very happy with Paul.”
Pogba did not have a good match against Chelsea but has otherwise been outstanding in the center of the park. He’s fallen victim to the problem of evaluating big money purchases who aren’t goal scorers.
In terms of advanced stats, Pogba is United’s top performer according to WhoScored and is third-top in the entire Premier League according to Squawka.
Another takeaway from the press conference is that Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial remain out for striker-short United, which is without suspended Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Marcus Rashford started up top in Monday’s FA Cup clash with Chelsea, missing a chance to tie the match but also limited by United going down to 10 men after little more than a half hour.
Oddly enough, Mourinho was proven right for his blistering criticism of Rostov’s pitch ahead of last week’s 1-1 draw in Russia. Not only did the players agree, but there’s news Wednesday that the Russian Premier League has banned two pitches including Rostov’s for being subpar.
There weren’t too many surprises in Thursday’s first legs of the UEFA Europa League’s Round of 16.
Just two visitors won, Anderlecht and Genk, leaving every tie but one realistically up for grabs in one week’s time.
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We’ve already dealt with Manchester United’s 1-1 draw in Russia, and Alexandre Lacazette’s virtuoso performance in Lyon’s defeat of Roma.
Elsewhere, the all-Belgian tie between Gent and Genk ended with five away goals. Tanzanian striker Mbwana Samatta led the way for Genk, bagging a brace in the 5-2 win.
Ageless Esteban Cambiasso scored as Olympiacos only managed a 1-1 home draw against Vincent Aboubakar and Besiktas, while former Cardiff outcast Andreas Cornelius scored the match-winner as Copenhapen scooped up a 2-1 home win over Ajax.
In-form USMNT winger Fabian Johnson was dangerous again as Borussia Monchengladbach notched an away goal through Jonas Hofmann in a 1-1 draw with Schalke. The match is the second between the three sides in two weeks.
Thursday’s UEFA Europa League first legs
Schalke 1-1 Borussia Monchengladbach
Lyon 4-2 Roma
Gent 2-5 Genk
Olympiacos 1-1 Besiktas
Celta Vigo 2-1 Krasnodar
Rostov 1-1 Manchester United
APOEL 0-1 Anderlecht
Copenhagen 2-1 Ajax
How long can Lyon hold onto Alexandre Lacazette if he keeps this up?
The French striker, often linked with this biggest names in Europe, continues to bury goals with authority. Thursday’s performance in a 4-2 Europa League win over Roma isn’t going to stop that.
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As for the cherry on top of his dominant performance, this hammer of a goal? Wow. He’s hot even for his lofty standards, and Lacazette belted this one about as hard as shots get hit. And that celebration!
Lacazette has 22 goals in 23 Ligue 1 matches this year, including 11 in his last 11.