Premier League Playback: Manchester United show how Chelsea can be halted

1 Comment

MANCHESTER UNITED GIVE REST OF THE PREMIER LEAGUE HOPE

They may not have beaten Chelsea on Sunday, but Manchester United gave the rest of the Premier League hope that the Blues can be stopped this season.

One of the main topics of discussion this campaign has been about Chelsea going the entire season unbeaten and whether or not it’s possible for them to match Arsenal’s “invincible’s” from 2003-04. They’re still unbeaten through nine games but were handed their toughest test yet at Old Trafford. Without Diego Costa, Chelsea looked less vibrant in attack, however it was the stranglehold United had on Cesc Fabregas which helped United hold Chelsea back and allowed Robin van Persie to snatch a late point, much to the delight of over 70,000 home fans at Old Trafford.

source:
Click to enlarge – Chelsea’s average positions. Source: Opta
source:
Click to enlarge – Man United’s average positions. Source: Opta

Fabregas was subdued throughout, as Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata pushed high and forced Chelsea’s main man to play deeper than he usually does. Daley Blind blocked the forward lanes for Fabregas to pass or run into, and in the first half United’s gameplan worked superbly. Fabregas was constantly caught in two minds as Fellaini and Mata would drop deep to support Blind, then push high to support van Persie and become unmarked. Fabregas was unsure whether to drop deep and pick up United’s midfielders, or push high on Blind who often picked up the ball unmarked in the holding role. Chelsea’s main man didn’t get a kick.

[RELATED: Watch full match replays]

Look at the average positions of Chelsea’s players, left, and United’s, right, to see how Fabregas was caught in two minds with Mata and Fellaini pushed up high intentionally by Louis van Gaal. Nemanja Matic was left marking two men and did the job admirably for Chelsea in the engine room, but nullifying Fabregas was the key for United.

Chelsea were better in the second half, but Fabregas couldn’t dictate the tempo of the match from the middle. In the 53rd minute he did deliver the corner which Didier Drogba headed home to put Chelsea 1-0 up, but the Spanish playmaker had perhaps his quietest day yet in a Chelsea shirt as van Gaal’s plan work a treat. After the game United’s boss demanded more from his charges, saying that this wasn’t their best performance and that his side should have won.

“I’ve said to the players we could have won but nevertheless we didn’t and that’s our fault,” Van Gaal said. “When you can do that against the best team in this league at this moment it is a good sign. I’m not pleased as I still have the feeling we could have won today and that we don’t take our opportunities at the moment.”

[VIDEO: Premier League highlights]

Still, it seems like United are heading in the right direction and a morale boosting point will do them the world of good ahead of the Manchester derby. Chelsea, who are still four points clear at the top despite coughing up a late equalizer, lacked that killer instinct which they’ve possessed for most of the season and failed to finish United off when they had them on the ropes for 15 minutes after going 1-0 up. That was likely due to the absence of Costa, who has scored nine goals in seven PL appearances so far.

The Spanish international has now missed Chelsea’s last two PL games with his hamstring issues flaring up and, according to our very own Neil Ashton, Costa could be having surgery very soon. See the video below for more details, as Chelsea suddenly don’t seem as “invincible” as they did earlier in the season.

Premier League Schedule – Week 9

Result Recap & Highlights
Burnley 1-3 Everton Recap and watch here
Liverpool 0-0 Hull City Recap and watch here
Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea Recap and watch here
QPR 2-0 Aston Villa Recap and watch here
Southampton 1-0 Stoke Recap and watch here
Sunderland 0-2 Arsenal Recap and watch here
Swansea City 2-0 Leicester City Recap and watch here
Tottenham 1-2 Newcastle Recap and watch here
West Brom 2-2 Crystal Palace Recap and watch here
West Ham United 2-1 Man City Recap and watch here

THE UNLIKELY LADS – WEST HAM, SOUTHAMPTON

Heading into the final few days of October, the top four of the PL has a slightly unfamiliar look to it. Southampton are in second and West Ham are fourth after both teams kept their impressive form going with wins at the weekend.

The Saints have been the big surprise story of the season so far, as Ronald Koeman’s men have stormed to six wins from nine. With a bunch of shrewd signings adding to a strong core which remained following the summer exodus at St Mary’s, it’s safe to say relegation will not be on the agenda on the South Coast this season.

[RELATED: Latest Premier League standings]

However, not to put a dampener on things, it is worth pointing out that Southampton have lost to both Liverpool and Tottenham away from home and have beaten teams they should really handle. Anyway, a fine start regardless.

As for the Hammers, their fans are in dreamland as the attacking soccer they’ve been craving has finally arrived. Yes, they were pretty lucky against title chasing Manchester City but you make your own luck in this game as City rattled the woodwork twice and Adrian had a fine game in goal. West Ham were rewarded for going at City with Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia in fine form. The summer signing have added pace, power and purpose to the Hammers attack as the likes of Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan find themselves on the outside looking in. West Ham have now taken down Liverpool and Man City at home and Upton Park is becoming a fortress.

It is also becoming a place where actor Russell Brand frequents and he was delighted to see his Hammers down the reigning Premier League champions. So much so, he gave Hammers boss Sam Allardyce a big smooch during his postmatch press conference.

Allardyce has seen his team win four of their last five and they have remained solid at the back but more attractive in attack. A top four finish for both these teams is highly unlikely, but pushing for a top six finish would be a fantastic season. Both Saints and the Hammers have given themselves a great platform to build from. Now, can they kick on?

See the video below for highlights of all the action on Saturday.

SHOULD WE BE CONCERNED ABOUT SPURS?

Tottenham lost to Newcastle 2-1 at White Hart Lane on Sunday, as Spurs’ horrendous form following Europa League matches continues.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men took the lead through Emmanuel Adebayor’s header, but second half goals from Sammy Ameobi and Ayoze Perez gave the Magpies a second win on the spin and had Tottenham’s boss questioning the mental strength of his players.

Premier League Star Performers – Week 9

Player Reason
1. Alex Song (West Ham) Dominated the game from CM
2. Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) 2 goals, oozes class
3. Wilfried Bony (Swansea) 2 goals, cool as a cucumber
4. Sadio Mane (Saints) 1 goal, constant pest out wide
5. David De Gea (Man Utd) 2 great saves, solid as a rock

“We need to speak, we need to create a different situation on the training ground and work,” Pochettino said. “We know how but, always, you need to spend time to work in this area. It is not the same as in physical or tactical situations. It is a different area.”

As you can see from the stat below, 60 percent of Spurs’ PL losses in the past two seasons have come directly after a Europa League match. That would suggest that Tottenham have a small squad and are struggling to keep everyone fit. Not so much.

Pochettino has talented players to work with but after the up and downs of last season under Andre Villas-Boas and Tim Sherwood, Spurs seem to be lacking mental toughness. Pochettino has a big job on his hands to turn his team into top four contenders.

USMNT UPDATE

Geoff Cameron started his first Premier League game of the season on Saturday against Southampton, and the Bostonian went the full 90 minutes in central midfield for Stoke as the Potters lost 1-0 to Southampton. Although the result wasn’t positive, it is certainly encouraging to see the former Houston Dynamo standout get a chance to show what he can do in central midfield and Cameron looked composed on the ball and broke up Saints’ attack expertly in the second half as Stoke pushed for an equalizer. On Sunday Tim Howard’s Everton continue their charge back up the standings with a second win in a row over Burnley at Turf Moor. The Toffees’ resurgence continues.

As for Jozy Altidore, he came on as a sub for the final 15 minutes of Sunderland’s 2-0 defeat to Arsenal, while Brad Guzan and Aston Villa suffered a fifth-straight defeat at QPR on Monday. According to reports, Clint Dempsey could be on his way back to the Premier League for an offseason loan spell to join his countrymen.

Premier League Playback comes out every Monday as PST’s Editor and Lead Writer takes an alternative look at all the action from the weekend. Read the full archive, here

Potter’s strong start continues as Chelsea cruise past AC Milan

0 Comments

Chelsea vs AC Milan recap: Graham Potter’s Blues turned in their best performance to date (by a long, long way) as they cruised past reigning Serie A champions AC Milan, 3-0, at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

Wesley Fofana, who later in the first half went off injured, opened the scoring by opening his Chelsea account in the 24th minute. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored for the second straight game to make it 2-0, and Reece James added the third just after the hour mark.

Chelsea were smooth and comfortable in possession (to be expected of a Potter-coached side), while giving AC Milan next to nothing (just three shots in 90 minutes) defensively, as they often tried to do under previous boss Thomas Tuchel.


What we learned from Chelsea vs AC Milan

Chelsea squad better suited to Potter’s style than Tuchel’s

It’s easy to say that based on the results alone (2W-1D-0L), but it only takes a quick scan up and down the squad list to see that the vast majority of the players currently at the club are ill suited to counter-attacking football, both with and without the ball.

Aubameyang is notoriously blessed with the straight-line speed required to get in behind opposing defenses (he played just one game under Tuchel, remember), but the other attackers (Mason Mount, Kai Havertz, Raheem Sterling and Christian Pulisic) are all technical players who thrive in combination play and sustained possession. Much of the same is true for the midfield, where N’Golo Kante is no longer able to cover every blade of grass, and Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic were miscast as mostly stationary protection for the backline, where there are nothing but ball-playing defenders (both central and wide).

Everyone appear much happier as they express something better resembling their truest selves as players, and the results will only add to those good vibes currently emanating from west London.

Follow @AndyEdMLS


How to watch Chelsea vs AC Milan live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 3pm ET, Wednesday
TV Channel: TUDN, Paramount+
Online: Updates via NBCSports.com


Key storylines

Chelsea grabbed a late, and controversial, win at Palace at the weekend and they’re creating more chances in attack and are slowly getting used to Graham Potter’s tactics. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is off and running as he scored at Palace too and Chelsea continue to look solid defensively. Potter has also seen his injury issues subside as the likes of N’Golo Kante, Edouard Mendy and Marc Cucurella are all expected back soon. As for Milan, they have had a workmanlike start to the Serie A season and sit in fifth place but are just three points off the top and their squad is looking very deep.


In-form players to keep an eye on

Chelsea’s Conor Gallagher scored a beauty to win the game at Palace and he will be flying high, while Aubameyang looked sharp and grabbed his goal at the weekend as he proved he can lead the line in this revamped Chelsea side. Reece James has been in sensational form at right back. For Milan, Olivier Giroud is their top goalscorer this season with five goals in all competitions and Rafael Leao is just behind him with four. Sandro Tonali makes Milan tick in central midfield and will look to dictate the tempo of this game.


The lowdown on AC Milan

With Giroud leading the lead and Chelsea academy product Fikayo Tomori anchoring the defense, there are a couple of ex-Chelsea players who will be desperate to prove a point against their old club. Aside from that storyline, Milan head coach Stefano Pioli has created a dynamic, hard-working side who are very tough to break down and have individual quality to score plenty of goals from counters and set pieces. That will concern Chelsea as defensively they’ve struggled on those two areas.


Chelsea team news, injuries, lineup options

This game may come too soon for Kante, Mendy and Cucurella to start but Potter will be delighted they are almost fit, while Gallagher, Broja and Pulisic are all pushing hard for minutes. Will Thiago Silva and Wesley Fofana start at center back again? Or will Koulibaly come in to give Silva a break?



Man City hammer Copenhagen 5-0, Haaland scores two more goals

0 Comments

Man City vs Copenhagen recap: Erling Haaland scored two more goals to bring his season tally to 19 in 11 games as the two-time defending Premier League champions hammered Danish side Copenhagen 5-0 at Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

Haaland scored goals no. 1 and 2 for Manchester City before Pep Guardiola brought him off at halftime, up 3-0 following an own goal (caused by Haaland) not long before the break. Riyad Mahrez added the fourth from the penalty spot and Julian Alvarez bagged his first UCL goal to complete the scoring.

That’s three wins from three games for Man City in the UEFA Champions League group stage. Their lead over 2nd-place Borussia Dortmund remains three points after the Bundesliga side also won on Wednesday. City and Dortmund will meet in Germany on matchday 5.


What we learned from Man City vs Copenhagen

Total and complete dominance, as expect, from Manchester City

Copenhagen attempted all of two shots in 90 minutes on Wednesday, the first of which didn’t come until the 72nd minute, at which point Man City had already attempted 24. Haaland took four himself, in just 45 minutes, as the midfield playmakers (Bernardo Silva and Joao Cancelo on Wednesday) continue to simply feed the monster.

Whereas possession used to aimlessly loiter around the penalty area, Manchester City now look to exploit the space in behind the defense anytime it presents itself. The runs that Haaland makes — perhaps the best part of his game, by the way — pose a constant and eternal threat to opposing defenses, particularly when Kevin De Bruyne is pulling the strings, leaving most anyone and everyone in their path (and their wake) wondering what exactly you’re supposed to do.

If anyone has ideas, please share them.

Follow @AndyEdMLS


How to watch Manchester City vs Copenhagen live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 3pm ET, Wednesday
TV Channel: TUDN, Paramount+
Online: Updates via NBCSports.com


Key storylines + in-form players to keep an eye on

This time, we can combine the “key storylines” and “in-form players” sections: It’s Phil Foden and Erling Haaland.

Let’s focus on the latter.

Erling Haaland is threatening to put up season numbers that would seem impossible were we not to have experience Lionel Messi’s 2011-12 season at Barcelona. That season saw Messi score 50 goals and 19 assists in La Liga while adding 20 more goals and nine assists in other competitions.

The match total? 53.

That works out to 1.4 goals and 0.4 assists per game.

Haaland? So far he has 17 goals and three assists in 11 matches, good for… 1.54 goals and 0.27 assists per game.

So, yes, Haaland is currently on his “Messi prime” grind.


The lowdown on Copenhagen

Copenhagen enters this match hoping that star goalkeeper — ex-Brighton starter — Mathew Ryan can help shut down an incredible City attack.


Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup options

John Stones (thigh), Kalvin Phillips (shoulder), and Kyle Walker (muscular) are set to miss the match, while Rodri (lower leg) faces a late fitness test.

UEFA Champions League: How to watch, predictions, updates, scores, schedule, fixtures

1 Comment

The 2022-23 UEFA Champions League group stage is here and we are ready to roll between now and November.

With a congested schedule due to the 2022 World Cup kicking off in November, we will have midweek Champions League action every week between now and early November (aside from the international break in late September).

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Can Real Madrid win back-to-back Champions League titles? Or will the Premier League giants continue to reach the final (at least one PL team has reached four of the last five finals with two all-English finals in the last four) and go one better this season?

Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Inter Milan are together in the “group of death,” while Tottenham were handed a (relatively) easy draw with Eintracht Frankfurt, Sporting CP and Marseille in Group D. Manchester City will face perennial European noise-makers in Borussia Dortmund and Sevilla in Group G, while PSG and Juventus were paired up in Group H.

Rangers are back in the Champions League group stage for the first time since 2010, joining bitter Glasgow rivals Celtic to give the Scottish Premiership two clubs in the UCL group stage for the first time in 15 years.

Elsewhere, Benfica, Copenhagen, Dinamo Zagreb, Viktoria Plzen and Maccabi Haifi made it through the playoffs, while this is the first time the Bundesliga has had five teams in the group stage after Frankfurt won the Europa League last season to qualify.

Below is everything you need following the UEFA Champions League group stage.


UEFA Champions League schedule, dates, how to watch

Dates: Group stage to be played September to November
Online: Live updates via NBCSports.com
How to watch: TUDN, Paramount+


Champions League group stage fixtures (all kick off times ET)

Matchday 3

Tuesday, 4 October
Bayern Munich 5-0 Viktoria Plzen
Marseille 4-1 Sporting CP
Liverpool 2-0 Rangers
Ajax 1-6 Napoli
Porto 2-0 Leverkusen
Club Brugge 2-0 Atletico Madrid
Inter Milan 1-0 Barcelona
Eintracht Frankfurt 0-0 Tottenham Hotspur

Wednesday, 5 October
Salzburg vs Dinamo Zagreb (12:45)
Leipzig vs Celtic (12:45)
Chelsea vs AC Milan (3:00)
Real Madrid vs Shakhtar (3:00)
Man City vs Copenhagen (3:00)
Sevilla vs Dortmund (3:00)
Juventus vs Maccabi Haifa (3:00)
Benfica vs Paris (3:00)


JPW’s Champions League predictions – Matchday 3

Tuesday, 4 October
Bayern 4-1 Plzen
Marseille 2-2 Sporting CP
Liverpool 4-2 Rangers
Ajax 2-2 Napoli
Porto 1-2 Leverkusen
Club Brugge 1-2 Atletico
Inter 1-1 Barcelona
Frankfurt 1-2 Tottenham

Wednesday, 5 October
Salzburg 2-1 Dinamo Zagreb
Leipzig 3-1 Celtic
Chelsea 2-1 AC Milan
Real Madrid 3-1 Shakhtar
Man City 4-1 Copenhagen
Sevilla 2-1 Dortmund
Juventus 3-1 Maccabi Haifa
Benfica 1-4 Paris


Matchday 1

Tuesday, 6 September
Dinamo Zagreb 1-0 Chelsea — Highlights, Tuchel’s furious response
Dortmund 3-0 Copenhagen — WATCH: Reyna’s two assists
Salzburg 1-1 AC Milan — Dest makes Milan debut off bench
Celtic 0-3 Real Madrid — Carter-Vickers’ Bhoys eventually falter
Leipzig 1-4 Shakhtar — Ukrainians off to rollicking start
Sevilla 0-4 Man City– Highlights, Guardiola’s glowing reaction
Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 Juventus — McKennie scores in loss
Benfica 2-0 Maccabi Haifa — Cohen makes 3 saves in loss

Wednesday, 7 September
Ajax 4-0 Rangers — Dutch giants hammer Gers as Alvarez gets ball rolling
Frankfurt 0-3 Sporting CP — Portuguese giants led by Edwards’ opener
Napoli 4-1 Liverpool — Highlights as Klopp’s boys run ragged
Atletico 2-1 Porto — Griezmann scores 101st minute winner amid late drama
Club Brugge 1-0 Leverkusen — Sylla seals big win for Belgian champs
Barcelona 5-1 Plzen — Lewandowski hat trick leads rout
Inter 0-2 Bayern — Sane unplayable as Bayern ease to win
Tottenham 2-0 Marseille — Richarlison the late hero on his UCL debut

Matchday 2

Tuesday, 13 September
Plzen 0-2 Inter — Goal, assist for Dzeko in win over 10-man hosts
Sporting CP 2-0 Tottenham – Conte rues details plus video highlights
Liverpool 2-1 Ajax –Klopp relief at rebound win; Video highlights
Porto 0-4 Club Brugge — Four different scorers highlight blowout
Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 Atletico Madrid — Frimpong sets up two late goals
Bayern Munich 2-0 Barcelona — Wasteful finishing haunts Lewandowski return
Marseille 0-1 Eintracht Frankfurt — Late first-half Lindstrom goal the difference

Wednesday, 14 September
AC Milan 3-1 Dinamo Zagreb
Shakhtar 1-1 Celtic
Chelsea 1-1 Salzburg – RECAP & HIGHLIGHTS
Rangers 0-3 Napoli
Real Madrid 2-0 RB Leipzig
Man City 2-1 Dortmund – RECAP & HIGHLIGHTS
Copenhagen 0-0 Sevilla
Juventus 1-2 Benfica
Maccabi Haifa 1-3 Paris Saint-Germain


Matchday 3

Tuesday, 4 October
Bayern vs Plzen (12:45)
Marseille vs Sporting CP (12:45)
Liverpool vs Rangers (3:00)
Ajax vs Napoli (3:00)
Porto vs Leverkusen (3:00)
Club Brugge vs Atletico (3:00)
Inter vs Barcelona (3:00)
Frankfurt vs Tottenham (3:00)

Wednesday, 5 October
Salzburg vs Dinamo Zagreb (12:45)
Leipzig vs Celtic (12:45)
Chelsea vs AC Milan (3:00)
Real Madrid vs Shakhtar (3:00)
Man City vs Copenhagen (3:00)
Sevilla vs Dortmund (3:00)
Juventus vs Maccabi Haifa (3:00)
Benfica vs Paris (3:00)


Matchday 4

Tuesday, 11 October
Copenhagen vs Man City (12:45)
Maccabi Haifa vs Juventus (12:45)
Dinamo Zagreb vs Salzburg (3:00)
AC Milan vs Chelsea (3:00)
Shakhtar vs Real Madrid (3:00)
Celtic vs Leipzig (3:00)
Dortmund vs Sevilla (3:00)
Paris vs Benfica (3:00)

Wednesday, 12 October
Napoli vs Ajax (12:45)
Atletico vs Club Brugge (12:45)
Rangers vs Liverpool (3:00)
Leverkusen vs Porto (3:00)
Barcelona vs Inter (3:00)
Plzen vs Bayern (3:00)
Tottenham vs Frankfurt (3:00)
Sporting CP vs Marseille (3:00)

Matchday 5

Tuesday, 25 October
Salzburg vs Chelsea (12:45)
Sevilla vs Copenhagen (12:45)
Dinamo Zagreb vs AC Milan (3:00)
Celtic vs Shakhtar (3:00)
Leipzig vs Real Madrid (3:00)
Dortmund vs Man City (3:00)
Paris vs Maccabi Haifa (3:00)
Benfica vs Juventus (3:00)

Wednesday, 26 October
Club Brugge vs Porto (12:45)
Inter vs Plzen (12:45)
Napoli vs Rangers (3:00)
Ajax vs Liverpool (3:00)
Atletico vs Leverkusen (3:00)
Barcelona vs Bayern (3:00)
Tottenham vs Sporting CP (3:00)
Frankfurt vs Marseille (3:00)

Matchday 6

Tuesday, 1 November
Porto vs Atletico (18:45)
Leverkusen vs Club Brugge (18:45)
Liverpool vs Napoli (21:00)
Rangers vs Ajax (21:00)
Bayern vs Inter (21:00)
Plzen vs Barcelona (21:00)
Sporting CP vs Frankfurt (21:00)
Marseille vs Tottenham (21:00)

Wednesday, 2 November
Real Madrid vs Celtic (12:45)
Shakhtar vs Leipzig (12:45)
Chelsea vs Dinamo Zagreb (3:00)
AC Milan vs Salzburg (3:00)
Man City vs Sevilla (3:00)
Copenhagen vs Dortmund (3:00)
Juventus vs Paris (3:00)
Maccabi Haifa vs Benfica (3:00)


Knockout stage dates

Round of 16 draw: 7 November
Round of 16: 14/15/21/22 February & 7/8/14/15 March 2023
Quarter-final and semi-final draw: 17 March 2023
Quarter-finals: 11/12 & 18/19 April 2023
Semi-finals: 9/10 & 16/17 May 2023
Final: 10 June 2023


Champions League group stage standings

Group A
Napoli — 6 points (+6 GD)
Ajax — 3 (-2)
Liverpool — 3 (+3)
Rangers — 0 (-7)

Group B
Club Brugge — 6 (+5)
Bayer Leverkusen — 3 (1)
Atletico Madrid — 3 (-1)
Porto — 0 (-5)

Group C
Bayern Munich — 6 (+4)
Barcelona — 3 (+2)
Inter Milan — 3 (0)
Viktoria Plzen — 0 (-6)

Group D
Sporting CP — 6 (+5)
Tottenham Hotspur — 3 (0)
Eintracht Frankfurt — 3 (-2)
Marseille — 0

Group E
AC Milan — 4 (+2)
Dinamo Zagreb — 3 (-1)
Red Bull Salzburg — 2 (0)
Chelsea — 1 (-1)

Group F
Real Madrid — 6 (+5)
Shakhtar Donetsk — 3 (+3)
Celtic — 1 (-3)
RB Leipzig — 0 (-5)

Group G
Manchester City — 6 (+5)
Borussia Dortmund — 3 (+2)
Copenhagen — 1 (-3)
Sevilla — 1 (-4)

Group H
Paris Saint-Germain — 6 (+3)
Benfica — 6 (+3)
Juventus — 0 (-2)
Maccabi Haifa — 0 (-4)


Ukraine to join Spain-Portugal host bid for 2030 World Cup

2 Comments

NYON, Switzerland — Hosting World Cup matches in 2030 would be “the dream of people who survived the horrors of war,” Ukrainian soccer federation president Andriy Pavelko said Wednesday after his country launched a joint bid with Spain and Portugal.

The leaders of the three soccer federations joined together at UEFA headquarters to present a campaign they hope will connect people beyond the world of sports.

“This is the dream of millions of Ukrainian fans,” Pavelko said at a news conference, “the dream of people who survived the horrors of war or are still in the occupied territories and over whom the Ukrainian flag will surely fly soon.”

Pavelko said the project is backed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

[ MORE: Premier League Golden Boot race ]

The expected Spain-Portugal bid, which has been in the works for more than three years, previously was made UEFA’s preferred candidate. FIFA will vote on the host in 2024.

“Now it’s not the Iberian bid, it’s the European bid,” Spain soccer federation president Luis Rubiales said at the launch. “Together we represent the power of transformation football has in society.”

No details were given about how many games at the 48-team World Cup would be staged in Ukraine or in which cities. The Olympic Stadium in Kyiv hosted the finals of the 2012 European Championship and the 2018 Champions League.

The European bid is expected to face a South American candidacy with co-hosts Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Saudi Arabia, which has built close ties to FIFA and its president, Gianni Infantino, has been preparing a multi-continent bid potentially including Egypt and Greece. It is unclear how Greece would be approved by UEFA to be part of that.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]