Three things we learned from Real Madrid vs. Juventus as Italians reach the final

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Juventus went into the Santiago Bernabeu and did something nobody really expected them to do. Get past Real Madrid.

[ RECAP – Real 1-1 Juventus ]

Real has now failed to overturn a first leg deficit eight times in the knockout stages of the UCL and Carlo Ancelotti’s future at Los Blancos will be under intense scrutiny as they have relinquished their crown as European champions.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s early goal gave them hope but Real’s old-boy Alvaro Morata came back to haunt them with an equalizer as the game finished 1-1 on the night and Juve prevailed 3-2 on aggregate.

Here’s three things we learned from a tension filled night in a humid, and now disappointed, Madrid.

EX-MADRIDISTA MORATA THE DIFFERENCE

Alvaro Morata played in the UEFA Champions League final for Real Madrid last season as he helped his hometown team win the UCL crown. This season his goals in both legs of the semifinal kept Real from returning to the final as Morata latched on to Paul Pogba’s knockdown in the box in the 57th minute and rifled home to silence the fans who used to adore him. Morata, 22, was deemed surplus to requirements by Real’s manager Carlo Ancelotti this summer and was allowed to leave his boyhood club for $22 million. How Ancelotti may be regretting that move now.

Following both of his goals against Real (he opened the scoring in the first leg with a tap-in at the back post) the Spanish international striker declined to celebrate out of respect for his former employers. Bit of a strange one when that happens. Why not celebrate the biggest goal of your career to date? Anyway… It didn’t work out for Morata at Real and he has since spoken about the real reason for his move to Juventus last summer. His relationship with Ancelotti had broken down as his time at the Bernabeu came to a close.

“It was a bittersweet and strange sensation for me,” Morata said after Wednesday’s game in Madrid. “These two games have been difficult for me. I want to thank the Madrid fans, I wish I had scored against another team. My former team-mates want us to win and they wished me the best. Just like in Turin, it was hard for me at times tonight but I had to focus my head quickly. That’s what football is like.”

For the rest of time Ancelotti is unlikely to forget the name “Alvaro Morata” as an ex-Madridista came back to haunt his old team as his two goals over the two legs were the difference and denied Madrid from becoming the first team in the modern Champions League era to win back-to-back titles. The faint whistles from the home fans as an appreciate Morata, who applauded Madrid’s supporters, was substituted in the 84th minute told its own story. Madrid’s fans knew they had been thwarted by one of their own.

BALE BATTLES ON BUT STRUGGLES REMAIN

Once again, it just wasn’t Gareth Bale’s night in a Real shirt. Lambasted by his own fans for most of this season, we are now beginning to see exactly why they have pointed the blame at his door. Bale had been out with injury before the first leg in Turin last week and since then he has put in three sub-par performances for a player of his standards. Wednesday was actually his best performance of the past week as Bale forced Gianliugi Buffon into a magnificent sprawling save in the first half but that was to be as close as he got.

In the second half he had two glorious chances to give Real the crucial second goal they craved but in the 63rd minute he fluffed Marcelo’s cutback and somehow sent the ball wide of the near post from eight-yards. Granted he was under heavy pressure from Pirlo but the Bale of last season would have tucked that away. The in the 72nd minute a moment arrived which perhaps emphasized his drop in form from last season. Ronaldo clipped the ball to the back post and Bale rose high above Patrice Evra but somehow headed the ball over from close-range. It would have been an eerily similar goal to the one he scored for Real in last seasons UCL final and right now, he’s struggling to get anywhere near that high-point of his Real career.

However it is worth noting that if you look at the stat above, it shows that Ronaldo went missing in the second half of the semifinal as the onus was squarely on Bale to come up big and grab the goal which would have enhanced Real’s chances of making the final. It wasn’t to be but at least Bale didn’t shy away from the spotlight like his illustrious strike partner seemed to.

source: Getty Images
Pogba oozed class as the UCL semifinal second leg wore on.

POGBA, JUVE’S CLASS SHINES THROUGH

After weathering on early onslaught from Madrid, Juventus’ class shone through as the game wore on. The Italians held firm to reach their first UCL final since 2003 and it has been a long road to recovery from Juve after they were shamed and relegated to Serie B in 2006. Their ascendancy in Italy has been swift, four straight Serie A titles says as much, but many have questioned whether Italian teams could dominate Europe once again as their last UCL title came courtesy of Inter Milan in 2010. Juve has shown they can. And when they have a player like Pogba patrolling the midfield then its easy to see why. The Frenchman struggled at first to dictate the tempo but, like Juve, as the game wore on he grew into it.

The man they call “Il Polpo” in Italy started to get his tackles in and it was his header in the box which set up Morata for the crucial goal. A lung-bursting run in the final 10 minutes helped relieved pressure for Juve and, despite looking like he was struggling to move at times in the second half, in the 87th minute he popped up in the box and forced Iker Casillas into a fine save. Juve showed their poise as the second half wore on and the Italians had another great chance as Morata combined with Arturo Vidal to set up Claudio Marchisio but Casillas saved superbly. Back to Pogba, he has many suitors across Europe and if you believe the reports then Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and others are readying their check books for a huge bid in excess of $100 million this summer. Pogba proved on the biggest stage that he is capable of influencing the game and when fully-fit, it will take something special to stop the man they call “Il Polpo” in Turin.

With a UCL final to look forward to, plenty of attention will be on Pogba and how he can perform against Barcelona’s midfield of Iniesta, Busquets and Rakitic but there will also be plenty of other storylines to look out for. Luis Suarez vs. Patrice Evra. Luis Suarez vs. Giorgio Chiellini. The masters, Xavi and Pirlo, potentially doing battle one last time and a chance for Buffon to get his hands on European soccer’s greatest prize after sticking with Juve throughout the good and the bad times. Juventus vs. Barcelona in Berlin on June 6 promises to be an historic final as the Italian champions held their nerve to continue their incredible season and dreams of a treble.

Kane’s history-maker delivers another Tottenham win vs Man City

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Tottenham Hotspur Stadium remains a house of horrors for Pep Guardiola and Manchester City following Spurs 1-0 win on Sunday, as Harry Kane made Premier League and Tottenham history in North London.

It’s Spurs’ fifth-straight win over City at home, a stunning run for any team against three-peat chasing visitors. Spurs also finished the game with 10 men after Cristian Romero collected a late, second yellow card, but City still could not find a way home.

Kane’s 267th Tottenham and 200th career goal came off a City error in the 15th minute and the visitors never found an equalizer, shut out for the first time since an Oct. 16 loss at Liverpool.

WATCH TOTTENHAM vs MANCHESTER CITY FULL MATCH REPLAY STREAM – LINK

Arsenal (50 points) were handed just their second defeat of the season on Saturday, beaten 1-0 away to Everton as Sean Dyche made his debut as Toffees manager, and it was North London rival Tottenham that acted on it.

City remains five points behind Arsenal, who holds a match-in-hand, while Spurs climb onto 39 points. That’s one behind Newcastle and three back of third-place Man United, though Spurs have played more games than anyone else in the Premier League other than Fulham.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


Harry Kane reaction to win, record-setting goal

What he said to NBC after the game. “It’s hard to put into words, a magical moment and especially do to it in a win as well. Being here at home in front of the fans. There’s been so much talk about it and I just wanted to get it done as soon as possible. To do it in a big game against one of the biggest teams in the world…it’s a great feeling. When I started playing regularly 8, 9 years ago, it wasn’t even in my mind to score 200 Premier League goals. When Tim Sherwood gave me my first start, I was so desperate to make my mark. A lot of hard work, with Mauricio and all the coaches. Jimmy Greaves is a complete hero, one of the best to play the game. To be in that company is a special feeling. I’m sure his family is watching and proud as well.”

What he said to crowd after the game: “Thanks for supporting me my whole career. Thank you to my wife, my kids, family and friends. And to my teammates. It’s super. Let’s keep the support going and see where it takes us.”


Pep Guardiola reaction

“We started really well. As usual against Tottenham, home or away, we make a mistake and they punish us. They are a team at 1-0 down who are not easy. We had chances with Riyad, but even with our people up front it’s not easy, and we dropped three points.”

Why he didn’t start Kevin De Bruyne for tactical reasons, but subbed him anyway: “We brought him in for the last pass. In the second half it was moree difficult. He can make one of these actions.”


Stars of the Show

Harry Kane: What else can you say about him?

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg: The sort of guy who makes the middle of the park a danger zone, and today that meant an assist.

Manuel Akanji: One of the precious few City players who continues to consistently show hunger.

Ivan Perisic: Up and down the left side, should’ve had an assist to Kane late.

Jack Grealish: A constant menace who won fouls out of nothing. You might not like that, but it worked a treat.

Tottenham vs Manchester City
fotmob.com

What’s next?

Man City is home to Aston Villa on Sunday, Feb. 12, a day after Tottenham heads to Leicester City.


Harry Kane goal video: Tottenham, England star makes big history


Tottenham vs Manchester City live updates, as they happened

Tottenham vs Man City final score: 1-0 (Kane, 15′)

12:57pm ET: Nearly for both sides! Julian Alvarez tears into a shot that just misses the frame at one end, and Kane should’ve had a corner for a denied chance at the other end but it was ruled he just missed the frame.

12:51pm ET: A short City corner nearly makes it 1-1, but Eric Dier’s thigh gets a piece of the ball that looked marked for upper 90. It’s another corner, and there’s a handball shout against Cristian Romero that goes unheeded. Now Spurs race back the other way and Ivan Perisic comes close to finding Kane with a dragged shot-cross through the six. It’s getting fun!

12:43pm ET: So nearly 2-0, but Ben Davies’ header off a corner kick is just off the mark.

Wait, what’s that? Kevin De Bruyne’s music? A game plan crying out for him is now getting its pleas heard as cameras catch the Belgian getting dolled up for his introduction.

12:37pm ET: Back in play, albeit slowly, and the second half’s first real moment comes when Grealish wins a foul on the left off of Emerson Royal. The lofted in free kick is a bit wayward and seems to carry too much, and the passage ends with a City goal kick. Still 1-0 Spurs.

12:20pm ET: HALFTIME STATS! It’s still 1-0 to Spurs on Kane’s record-making goal. Here’s how the match looks, via FotMob:

Tottenham vs Manchester City live
fotmob.com

12:17pm ET: Crossbar smashed! Riyad Mahrez nearly has it 1-1 at the break. We’re almost done with two minutes stoppage time.

12:13pm ET: Close! Grealish has been a live wire and whips in a shot that cannot find the frame. City cannot find Erling Haaland and the xG battle is even at 0.37 even if City has 68 percent of the ball and a 6-2 edge in shots. Still 1-0 Spurs, who have a corner and cannot get through City because Kane and Eric Dier have a few chances to snap a loose ball home.

12:05pm ET: It’s slowed down a bit, so let’s take a moment to shout out reaction from the other two Premier League players who can say they’ve scored 200 goals in the competition.

Here’s more on Harry Kane’s Tottenham record and new berth in Premier League history.

11:52am ET: YELLOW CARD, TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR. Man City right back at it, but Spurs take the ball back and Kane wins a free kick just inside the circle. City takes the ball back and Jack Grealish and Rico Lewis are bringing electricity to the center of the park. Lewis is chopped down by Rodrigo Betancur, who sees a yellow card for his petulance.

11:47am ET: GOOOOOAAAAALLLL! TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR! And it’s history for Harry Kane! It had still been a lot of City, but a bad giveaway deep in its own end allows Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg to lay the ball off for Kane inside the 18. From this angle and range, the new all-time Tottenham Hotspur goal scorer is not going to miss and Spurs lead at home with his 267th goal in the shirt. It’s also his 200th Premier League goal. What a moment! Tottenham 1-0 Man City, 15′.

11:36am ET: It’s been a good start for Man City, with a couple of corner kicks. City, however, looks like it will be dealing with an 18 that resembles cartons of milk on the shelf at the grocery store. City currently opening the door to find a compact Spurs unit all over the pitch, with several shots blocked inside the 18.

11:15am ET: Good morning! Nick Mendola here with you ahead of a game Antonio Conte would love to get and Pep Guardiola will be planning to capture. Some odd comments from Guardiola before the game about Kevin De Bruyne being out of the Starting XI for tactical reasons, while Phil Foden misses out through injury/illness. Exciting under-the-radar Maximo Perrone has a spot in the 18, too, and some are suspecting him as a long-term Rodri clone. As for Spurs, Conte does get Richarlison on the bench, which also holds room for new signings Pedro Porro and Arnaut Danjuma. Depth options and two tactical wizards on the touch line should make this a complete game… unless Erling Haaland makes it a fait accompli before it has a chance to become a chess match. (NM)


Tottenham team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Lucas Moura (calf)

Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: John Stones (thigh), Benjamin Mendy (suspension – MORE), Phil Foden (foot)


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

Kick off: 11:30 am ET, Sunday
TV channel: NBC
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & star players

When these sides met just two weeks ago, Tottenham found themselves 2-0 up at halftime and threatening to cause the Man City upset yet again, effectively handing rivals Arsenal a three-point boost in the title race. Then the second half kicked off, and the two-time defending champions poured in four games, including three in the first 18 minutes. Another fantastic half wasted by Tottenham, though it was typically a poor start followed by a frantic finish of their own. Harry Kane will pass Jimmy Greaves as Spurs’ all-time top scorer when he scores his next goal, taking his total in all competitions to 267. If Kane scores that goal in a Premier League fixture, the record goal will also be his 200th in the league.

Erling Haaland (25 goals) is the only player with more PL goals than Kane (16) this season, and though his numbers are certainly eye-popping, his arrival has clearly unsettled Pep Guardiola’s tactical system to some degree. A season ago, Manchester City conceded just 26 goals in 38 games (0.68 per game). This season, 20 goals in 20 games, up nearly a half-goal per game.

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Premier League top scorers: Who is leading 2022 Golden Boot race?

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For those tempted to write off Erling Haaland’s historically-hot start to life as a Premier League striker, it’s safe to say your temptation is now officially unhealthy.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ] 

There is something somewhat dull about knowing the identity of the 2022 Golden Boot winner, the lone curiosity being the final number of his final tally, we get it, but most of what Haaland is doing this season is simply marvelous and to be admired without much fear.

Haaland’s Premier League-leading 25 goals have him eight goals clear of the next closest challenger: Tottenham’s Harry Kane.

The Norwegian star piled up 20 goals in a single Premier League season faster than any player in history… by seven games (Kevin Phillips of Sunderland did it in 21). Now he’s within five goals of equalling Kevin Phillips’ record for most goals in a debut Premier League season.

And the later this season goes with him projected so far over the current record, the less chucking is accompanied by marking out the pace (especially considering Haaland was not beaten up by the World Cup, as Norway was not in the tournament). And even though Haaland is currently overperforming his expected goals total, it’s clear that projecting him for the Premier League record is rather realistic.

How many records can Haaland break?

Premier League Golden Boot
fotmob.com

Haaland may not be likely to hit 50 goals given the schedule congestion to come for Man City, but the Premier League record is very well under assault and that figure isn’t entirely absurd. He’s played in 20 of Man City’s 21 games, scoring 25 goals.

Mohamed Salah holds the 38-game season record with his 32 goals scored for Liverpool during the 2017-18 season, while Newcastle’s Andy Cole and Blackburn’s Alan Shearer bagged 34 during 42-game seasons in the 20th century’s final decade.

Haaland also could topple the record for goal involvements (goals plus assists) in a single season, including beating the 42-game record. Alan Shearer put up 47 over 42, while Thierry Henry holds the 38-game record with 44.

Other records that Haaland could legitimately tie or topple:

  • 30 goals in a first Premier League season (Kevin Phillips, Sunderland, 1999-2000)
  • Goals in 24 different Premier League matches (Salah, Liverpool, 2017-18)
  • Most goals in a Premier League match (Five tied with five)
  • 11-straight Premier League games with a goal (Jamie Vardy, Leicester, 2014-15)

Read on to see the latest Premier League goal totals for the 2022-23 season, as Haaland looks to claim a Golden Boot in his first PL season.

Premier League 2022-23 Golden Boot race

    1. Erling Haaland, Man City — 25
    2. Harry Kane, Tottenham — 17
    3. Ivan Toney, Brentford — 13
    4. Aleksandar Mitrovic, Fulham — 11
    5. Rodrigo, Leeds United — 10
    6. Marcus Rashford, Manchester United — 10
    7. Miguel Almiron, Newcastle — 9
    8. Martin Odegaard, Arsenal — 8
    9. James Maddison, Leicester City — 8
    10. Roberto Firmino, Liverpool — 7
    11. Phil Foden, Man City — 7
    12. Mohamed Salah, Liverpool — 7
    13. Leandro Trossard — Brighton/Arsenal — 7
    14. Gabriel Martinelli, Arsenal — 7
    15. Harvey Barnes, Leicester City — 7
    16. Bukayo Saka, Arsenal — 7
    17. Callum Wilson, Newcastle — 7
    18. Wilfried Zaha, Crystal Palace — 6
    19. Pascal Gross, Brighton — 6
    20. Danny Ings, Aston Villa/West Ham — 6
    21. Gabriel Jesus, Arsenal — 5
    22. Daniel Podence, Wolves — 5
    23. Darwin Nunez, Liverpool — 5
    24. Alexis Mac Allister, Brighton — 5
    25. James Ward-Prowse, Southampton — 5
    26. Kai Havertz, Chelsea — 5
    27. Kaoru Mitoma, Brighton — 5
    28. Ollie Watkins, Aston Villa — 5
    29. Brennan Johnson, Nottingham Forest — 5
    30. Bruno Fernandes, Manchester United — 5
    31. Bryan Mbeumo, Brentford — 5
    32. Ruben Neves, Wolves — 5

Premier League assist leaders: Who will win Playmaker of the Season?

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Kevin De Bruyne’s gaudy assist numbers give rise to any number of considerations, and we have to wonder if the Manchester City star has ever wondered if the Premier League record would be his in a world in which Jose Mourinho found better use for him at Chelsea.

De Bruyne’s 11 assists this Premier League season are four more than his nearest competitors — Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka and Man Utd’s Christian Eriksen — and give him 97 for his career. That’s fifth all-time, two more than Dennis Bergkamp and 65 (?!) behind record holder Ryan Giggs.

[ MORE: Premier League Golden Boot race ]

The Belgian star, 31, arrived at Chelsea from Werder Bremen at the age of 22 and managed only 425 in a half-season before being offloaded to Wolfsburg. Back in the Bundesliga, De Bruyne got six assists the rest of the way before setting up 21 goals the next season to set up a move to Man City.

He’s since won the nascent Premier League Playmaker of the Season Award twice, including a 20-assist 2019-20 season, and he’s on pace to make it three of six. Harry Kane, Mohamed Salah, and Eden Hazard have also won the award, which is only five years old.

De Bruyne also led the Premier League in assists in 2016-17, the year before the league but a name on the honor.

His stats hint that there’s more to come, as ‘KDB’ is creating a gaudy 3.71 chances per 90 minutes. After a season in which he scored 15 times with eight assists, De Bruyne is back taunting those who’d dare chase him in terms of setting up goals (Some guy named Erling Haaland is helping…).

Take a look at De Bruyne’s shining stats, and read on to see who’s chasing him in a list of the Premier League assist leaders for the 2022-23 season.

Premier League assist leaders
fotmob.com

Premier League 2022-23 assist leaders

  1. Kevin De Bruyne, Man City — 11
  2. Bukayo Saka, Arsenal — 7
  3. Christian Eriksen, Manchester United — 7
  4. Bernardo Silva, Man City — 5
  5. Dejan Kulusevski, Tottenham Hotspur — 5
  6. Alex Iwobi, Everton — 5
  7. Andy Robertson, Liverpool — 5
  8. Gabriel Jesus, Arsenal — 5
  9. Martin Odegaard, Arsenal — 5
  10. Ivan Perisic, Tottenham Hotspur — 5
  11. Andreas Pereira, Fulham — 5
  12. Granit Xhaka, Arsenal — 5
  13. Jamie Vardy, Leicester City — 4
  14. James Maddison, Leicester City — 4
  15. Marcus Tavernier, Bournemouth — 4
  16. Kieran Trippier, Newcastle — 4
  17. Mohamed Salah, Liverpool — 4
  18. Michael Olise, Crystal Palace — 4
  19. Kenny Tete, Fulham — 4
  20. Ollie Watkins, Aston Villa — 4
  21. Mathias Jensen, Brentford — 4
  22. Jack Harrison, Leeds — 4
  23. Morgan Gibbs-White, Nottingham Forest — 4
  24. Solly March, Brighton and Hove Albion — 4
  25. Rodri, Manchester City — 4
  26. Douglas Luiz, Aston Villa — 4
  27. Bruno Fernandes, Manchester United — 4

Premier League table, 2022-23 season

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If it’s the 2022-23 Premier League table you’re after, you’ve come to the right place.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

After the break for the 2022 World Cup, the Premier League is back with a bang and the start to 2023 has delivered plenty of fun.


Who’s looking like title contenders and/or favorites?

Almost at the halfway mark of the 2022-23 season, Arsenal and Manchester City are looking head and shoulders above the rest though Newcastle is not going away and Manchester United has surged into contention.

The Gunners will have their hands full for the duration of their title challenge, as Erling Haaland continues to take the Premier League by storm with an almost impossible goal-scoring record.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Uneven Tottenham are hanging in the top four battle, while Liverpool is struggling to stay in the Champions League scrap. Chelsea has some work to do while surprising Fulham, Brentford and Brighton are hanging around on the periphery with fine campaigns.


Who are the candidates for relegation?

Everton, Bournemouth, and Southampton currently occupy the relegation places.

But Leicester, West Ham, Wolves, and Leeds all find themselves within a few points of the bottom three after a topsy-turvy season so far.

Below you will find the latest Premier League table.


Premier League table – February 5

Premier League schedule
NBC’s Premier League scoreboard page


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