It was a day of huge shocks in the 2019 Asian Cup, as two soccer minnows reached the semifinal stage and one of them will be in the final on Feb. 1.
In Qatar’s case, it was the first time they’ve reached the final four of this tournament in their history. Qatar is currently 93rd in FIFA’s world rankings.
[ MORE: Latest Asian Cup news ]
Qatar and hosts UAE edged by Asian Football Confederation (AFC) giants South Korea and Australia respectively, as a single goal in the second half of each game did the damage.
Due to their injury issues, Tottenham Hotspur will be very happy that South Korean captain Heung-Min Son is heading home as he could now be available for their Premier League clash with Watford on Wednesday. While hosts UAE stunned reigning champs Australia in front of a jubilant home crowd in Abu Dhabi.
Below is a brief recap on what happened in the two quarterfinals on Thursday, as Qatar and UAE will now play each other for a place in the final with Iran and Japan clashing in the other semifinal.
Qatar 1-0 South Korea
The hosts for the 2022 World Cup reached their first-ever Asian Cup semifinal in stunning fashion, as they knocked out red-hot favorites South Korea. Captained by Heung-min Son, the Koreans had the majority of the play but couldn’t break through. Then Abdulaziz Hatem struck a wonderful effort from distance which sent Qatar into the final four. South Korea did score a few moments after Hatem’s opener, but the goal was correctly ruled out for offside. Spurs sent out a message of commiseration for Son, but we all know they are delighted to have him back after the injuries to Harry Kane and Dele Alli over the past two weeks.
United Arab Emirates 1-0 Australia
The local hero Ali Mabkhout scored the winner with 22 minutes to go, and Australia had no answer. The reigning champs are out. Al-Jazira striker Mabkhout took his tally at the tournament to four goals as he latched onto a poor back pass from Degenek, rounded Mat Ryan and scored. Another PL club will benefit from Australia’s unexpected early exit, as Brighton will get starting goalkeeper Ryan back. Take a look below at the moment the UAE made it through to their second-straight Asian Cup semifinal, as Mabkhout played the hero in his hometown.
Our latest Premier League player Power Rankings are here and there are new faces pushing their way into the upper echelons.
[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]
Stars from Premier League giants Liverpool, Man United, Arsenal, Man City and Wolves dominate our power rankings after some impressive performances and there are plenty of new entries and plenty of players from the same teams.
[ MORE: Club Power Rankings ]
Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League. If they didn’t play in the last matchweek, they aren’t getting in this list!
Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the selections.
1. Anthony Martial (Man United) – New entry
2. Diogo Jota (Wolves) – New entry
3. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) – Up 16
4. Olivier Giroud (Chelsea) – New entry
5. Kevin De Bruyne (Man City) – Up 6
6. Richarlison (Everton) – Up 1
7. Dwight McNeil (Burnley) – New entry
8. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – Up 2
9. Moussa Djenepo (Southampton) – New entry
10. Bukayo Saka (Arsenal) – Down 5
11. Raul Jimenez (Wolves) – New entry
12. Bruno Fernandes (Man United) – Up 4
13. Dani Ceballos (Arsenal) – Down 9
14. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – Even
15. Martin Dubravka (Newcastle) – New entry
16. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) – Down 4
17. Harry Maguire (Man United) – Down 9
18. Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Man United) – Down 12
19. Stuart Armstrong (Southampton) – New entry
20. Nicolas Pepe (Arsenal) – Down 7
Two Premier League teams play in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 this week as Chelsea host Bayern Munich and Man City head to Real Madrid in the first legs.
Which battles will determine the outcome of these games?
[ MORE: Predicting the UCL last 16 encounters ]
Below we take a look at three crucial head-to-head clashes which will be pivotal in deciding which teams will reach the quarterfinals.
Chelsea v. Bayern Munich
Antonio Rudiger v. Robert Lewandowski: The former has become a real threat from set pieces for Chelsea but his main role will be to stop the most lethal striker in Europe this season in Lewandowski’s. Bayern’s target man is ageing like a fine French win and has 40 goals to his name in all competitions for club and country. Chelsea’s defense has struggled at times this season and Lewa must be licking his chops in anticipation as he tries to win his first-ever Champions League title.
Jorginho v. Thiago Alcantara: Two pass-masters in central midfield will be a joy to watch. Jorginho has a more defensive role to play with N’Golo Kante out and the Italian will look to deliver perfectly weighted passes to get Chelsea’s attack going. As for Thiago, his vision works really well alongside some of Bayern’s more defensive midfielders and he is so assured in possession. The Spanish international has class on the ball and he and Jorginho are very similar. What a battle this should be.
Reece James v. Alphonso Davies: This is a battle we should all look forward to. Canadian star Davies has been a revelation at left back for Bayern and is encouraged to steam ahead and join in attacks whenever he can. James does exactly the same for Chelsea and has made the position his own in his debut season in the Premier League. These two players will be around at the top level and playing in the Champions League for a very long time and you can expect incisive runs up and down as they go head-to-head.
Real Madrid v. Man City
Casemiro v. Kevin De Bruyne: This will be one heck of a job for Real’s Brazilian destroyer. Of course, Casemiro can play too but his main role will be to shut down Kevin de Bruyne who has been in imperious form for Man City in recent weeks. When KDB is fit and firing on all cylinders he is almost unstoppable and he is a player who continues to be linked with a move to Real this summer amid the uncertainty over Man City’s two-season European ban.
Sergio Ramos v. Sergio Aguero: The master of the dark arts against the master of finishing will be fascinating viewing. The Sergio’s will put on a show and Aguero will fancy his chances of wriggling past Ramos and being the hero. That said, how many times have we written off Ramos in the past? The Real Madrid and Spain skipper seems to always find a way of coming out on top but he will be stretched to his limits as his Real defense try to put out fires all over the place with Aguero, KDB and Raheem Sterling or Gabriel Jesus popping up.
Karim Benzema v. Aymeric Laporte: The latter has been influential since his return from injury and his absence is the main reason Man City are so far behind Liverpool in the Premier League title race. Benzema’s physicality could cause Laporte some issues and like Ramos, he is underrated for a player who has been pivotal in winning four Champions League titles with Real Madrid. Laporte is good on the ball and Benzema’s clever turns and flicks means this battle will be more about brains than brawn.
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.”
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports
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).
[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]
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