“They are two different players with different characteristics,” he said. “Didier Drogba brought history to this club and he’s a wonderful player, a wonderful striker because he continues to play. He’s a great striker, more powerful than Alvaro but Alvaro, don’t forget, has a lot of space for improvement. He’s strong physically, he’s a technical player and I see a great future for Alvaro.”
Chelsea still won’t have David Luiz available, while Southampton has no new injury concerns despite the recent schedule congestion.
What they’re saying
Antonio Conte on Southampton premonitions: “‘My expectation is for us to suffer, I have this sensation, so we must pay great attention. When you play after a bad defeat, especially at home, there is great attention of the coach and the club because they don’t want to continue a bad run. They want to give a good answer against a strong team like Chelsea.”
Saints’ Mauricio Pellegrino on facing Chelsea: “We want to show our best version. Chelsea is a really difficult side but maybe we can find more space. We have to do a really good game to have a possibility of winning, but hopefully after a difficult moment we can bounce back. In this club, we want to show we are committed to trying to be competitive, our energy and commitment to the club.”
LYON, France (AP) French club Lyon says its sold-out Champions League home game against Juventus will go ahead as planned on Wednesday despite the coronavirus outbreak in nearby Italy.
Lyon said in a statement on Tuesday it received the go-ahead from French authorities for the match to take place “in its initial configuration.”
Up to 3,000 Juventus fans coming from different regions of Italy are expected to attend Groupama Stadium for the last-16, first-leg match.
The fast-spreading virus from China has led to the postponement of Serie A games in northern Italy, where a cluster of the COVID-19 disease has caused seven deaths and towns to be locked down.
Health Minister Olivier Veran told RTL radio on Tuesday that France is not considering closing its border with Italy, nor banning big gatherings of people because it would not make sense.
Asked specifically about the Lyon-Juventus match, Veran said: “Should we ban gatherings? Should we stop the (Paris) Fashion Week? Should we stop matches? Should we close universities? The answer is no.”
Robbie Earle & Robbie Mustoe review Matchweek 27 in the Premier League which saw Liverpool come from behind to beat West Ham 3-2 (0:50), Chelsea’s impressive 2-1 win over Tottenham (13:35) and Arsenal’s thrilling 3-2 victory over Everton (24:00). Plus, discussion on Leicester City 0-1 Manchester City (31:45), Manchester United 3-0 Watford (35:05) and our Underappreciated Performances of the weekend (40:00).
Over the past six years the wait has been excruciating for soccer fans in and around Miami as stadium plans have been held up, Beckham and his wealthy investors almost pulled the plug on the deal entirely and endless mocking from other MLS fanbases led to many calls for Becks to move his expansion franchise to another U.S. city, one where it was easier to realize his dream. But he wanted his team to be in Miami.
Now Inter Miami have arrived, even if they are playing their first few seasons in a temporary home in Fort Lauderdale, 30 miles north of Miami, Beckham has talked about wanting to sign Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar and there’s no doubt players of that caliber would love to play in South Florida in the future.
Beckham has always wanted to do this properly but the struggle has been very real when it comes to finding the correct parcels of land in Miami to build a soccer-specific stadium for his new team. That was something MLS always wanted to happen and still do.
The original award of an expansion franchise was way back in 2014 but between then and 2018 there were serious doubts that this team would ever come to fruition. MLS commissioner Don Garber demanded a soccer-specific stadium in downtown Miami but in a strange way the stadium struggles with other MLS franchises has helped out Miami. New York City FC are still playing at Yankee Stadium, which was supposed to be a temporary home. Atlanta United play in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium they share with the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL. Nashville arrive in MLS this season calling the Tennessee Titans’ Nissan Stadium their home for at least a couple of seasons.
And Miami’s battle for a place to call home, permanently, continues to rumble on.
In the 2018 event to unveil the franchise once again (four years after the first unveiling) Bolivian billionaire Marcelo Claure revealed he and Beckham were ready to throw in the towel after years of searching unsuccessfully for a stadium site in Miami. Then local construction magnates Jorge and Jose Mas stepped in to join the ownership group, along with Masayoshi Son, but so far numerous stadium plans have failed to be approved across downtown Miami and its surrounding neighborhoods.
Miami Freedom Park is their preferred location for a permanent 25,000 capacity home, and although that process is moving along, they still need a key city council vote to make the stadium close to Miami International Airport a reality, plus there have been some issues with the plot of land containing potentially hazardous materials. More delays are surely on the way. That has led to Beckham and Co. potentially revisiting their stadium plan in Overtown.
And on and on it goes.
Of course, Beckham’s Inter Miami will not walk out onto ‘home turf’ until Mar. 14 when they host his former club, the LA Galaxy, in their 18,000 capacity temporary home in Fort Lauderdale and that could well be their home for a lot longer than that.
The training facility they have built on the site of the former Lockhart Stadium — which was home to the only other MLS franchise in Miami, the Fusion, which lasted four seasons before folding in 2001 — is impressive and their temporary home will see its capacity reduced and used for Inter Miami’s reserve side when they finally find a home stadium closer to Miami.
Stadium struggles aside, their first-ever game as an MLS franchise at LAFC on Sunday marks a monumental achievement for Beckham and his ownership group. With Diego Alonso at the helm and plenty of ambitious, yet smart, signings, this team will be extremely interesting to watch in their debut MLS season.
The fanbase will be one of the most interesting to watch and with Beckham and eventually other big-name superstar players around, Inter Miami CF will always be a team to keep an eye on. Now that they are here.
Many times over the last six years this day looked like it would never come. Scepticism from fans, the ownership group and league officials that Inter Miami CF would ever walk out onto the pitch as an MLS club was rife.
On Sunday a six-year struggle will come to an end and then no matter what happens on the pitch, or with a stadium plan or with whatever star names do or do not sign for Inter Miami CF in the future, Beckham can rest easy knowing he delivered what he set out to achieve.
MILAN (AP) Inter Milan announced on Monday that its Europa League match against Ludogorets will be played behind closed doors as authorities try to contain a spreading virus that has made northern Italy the focal point of the outbreak in Europe.
“Inter announces that, in accordance with the requirements of the health authorities in the Region of Lombardy and the Municipality of Milan and with the agreement of UEFA, the second-leg clash between Inter and Ludogorets at the round of 32 stage of the Europa League will take place at 21:00 CET on Thursday 27 February behind closed doors at San Siro,” Inter said in a statement on Monday evening.
The decision was widely expected and Ludogorets had announced shortly before that Inter had sent it a letter stating that the city’s health authorities have allowed the match to go ahead behind closed doors.
Ludogorets added that UEFA has said it is monitoring the situation and will react immediately if anything changes.
Inter leads 2-0 from the first leg of the round of 32 clash.
Civil protection officials said at least 229 people have tested positive for the virus in Italy. State television on Monday night reported the seventh death of an infected person – that of a 62-year-old man who already had serious health problems. The other six victims, also with pre-existing medical conditions, were elderly.
The majority of those known to be infected with COVID-19 hail from two main clusters – some 10 towns in Lombardy and another area in the neighboring region of Veneto. Italy has the highest number of cases outside Asia.
Four Serie A match scheduled for last Sunday were postponed, including Inter’s home match against Sampdoria.
Inter’s key match at Juventus next Sunday will likely also be played behind closed doors, as well as several other matches in northern Italy.