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Things will get worse for Tottenham Hotspur


The morning after the night before can often bring solace and understanding as to what happened.

But in the case of Tottenham Hotspur’s 7-2 shellacking at the hands of Bayern Munich, it suggests things are about to get a whole lot worse before they get better.

Their humbling home defeat was perhaps a little harsh on Spurs, who had led early on and played well against Bayern in the first half. But the way they capitulated in the second half showcased why Mauricio Pochettino has been a surly, uncharacteristically sinister individual in recent months.

Spurs are in big, big trouble.

No away wins since January in the Premier League and just nine victories in their last 28 games in all competitions is a consistent slide which Pochettino seems unable to stop.

Squad harmony has evaporated, as the plucky upstarts tag which drove them on over the past five years has vanished.

These are players now entering or just past their prime who believe they belong in the top four of English football rather than fighting and scrapping every season to prove themselves. That is dangerous.

Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld are in the final years of their deals. So too is Christian Eriksen who wants to leave. Danny Rose is on his way out too. Dele Alli has totally lost his form.

That is why this feeling of negativity and disharmony won’t disappear quickly. If anything, it will get worse. Fingers will get pointed at one another. Pochettino will chop and change the time to find solutions. With ever damaging defeat more questions will arise and be asked about letting the likes of Kieran Trippier leave, or why Eriksen wasn’t sold, or what on earth is going on with Alli.

“It’s going to be a tough season, I told you that months ago,” Pochettino said. “After the Champions League final it was a chapter closed and the club need to start a new chapter. This defeat is not going to change my opinion. You need to show your quality like a man first.”

Losing in the League Cup to Colchester United last week was followed up by a gritty win against Southampton after going down to 10 men but the mistakes that Spurs are making in defense are catching them cold and Pochettino just can’t turn around a feeling of things unraveling.

Tottenham seem like a team no longer on the rise but one which has reached its goal of delivering top four finishes for five-straight seasons as they prepared for life in their new stadium. This squad is crumbling after overachieving season after season since Pochettino arrived in 2014.

It has all gone a bit stale for the Argentine coach at Spurs and that drive, that extra edge which knit this upcoming team together is gone.

There are many reasons why that has happened, but what you can’t ignore is that it has been happening gradually since January. Their fairytale run to the UEFA Champions League final papered over the cracks. Pochettino uses that defeat to Liverpool in Madrid as the end of his original project and the start of a new one.

But why did it need to be that way? Because he knew this squad was coming towards, or at, the end of its cycle.

Four of their next five Premier League games are away from home (trips to Brighton, Liverpool, Everton and West Ham are up next) and with UCL games against Red Star Belgrade home and away coming up, this is a pivotal period in how their season will pan out.

In his press conferences Pochettino claims of being treated unfairly and an agenda against Spurs, but he is well liked by neutrals and so too are Spurs.

To see this project hurtling out of control is painful for Pochettino and Daniel Levy, Spurs’ chairman who has put several financial restraints on the club as they moved into their stunning new stadium. A lack of investment and failure to lock players down to new long-term deals has ripped the heart and ambition out of this project.

It can be rescued and there is no need for knee-jerk reactions following a single heavy defeat, but the signs are there that things will get worse before they get better at Spurs. Clearing the squad of players who are no longer committed to the project will take time and whether or not Pochettino has the energy for another huge overhaul remains to be seen.

Especially with Real Madrid and Manchester United glancing over at Spurs’ demise gleefully.

Pochettino has known this was coming for some time. Levy has been ignoring it. And, deep down, most of Tottenham’s fans have been turning a blind eye at the downward trend.

Spurs have yet to hit rock bottom. That’s the most worrying thing about this slump.

Hertha Berlin slams racist abuse of under-23 player Ngankam

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BERLIN (AP) Hertha Berlin has condemned apparent racist abuse of its under-23 player Jessic Ngankam from Lokomotive Leipzig fans during their fourth-division game on Friday.

Hertha says on Twitter that, “Ngankam was subjected to racist hostility during the game against Lok Leipzig. As a club, we are completely behind Jessic . The incident was also noted in the match report and a preliminary investigation has since been launched by the league. Lok Leipzig have already given their own statement on the incident. (hash)notoracism”

Hertha executive board member Paul Keuter says the club should have reacted sooner to the alleged abuse, “but nobody should doubt our commitment against racism.”

Hertha player Jordan Torunarigha wrote on Twitter the club is “100% against racism and one shouldn’t argue over why my club is just giving a statement now.”

The 19-year-old Ngankam, who is black, told broadcaster MDR that he was targeted with monkey chants by some fans in the visiting supporters’ block and that he was called an “ape” by an opposing player.

“Of course you’re trained not to react or show emotion. But it still hits you,” Ngankam told MDR. “Insults are unfortunately an everyday occurrence in football, and I can put up with them. But racist abuse is a no-go.”

Lokomotive criticized the abuse on its website, where it reminded its own fans that it has players within the club with roots in 32 countries.

“Only two colors interest us – (club colors) blue and yellow,” Lokomotive said. “Racism has no place among us and everyone knows that! If there are still people who call themselves blue-yellow fans and can’t comprehend that, then it must be clear that (Leipzig district) Probstheida is no place for them.”

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Ciaran Fahey on Twitter:

Champions League permutations: Who needs what?

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Here’s a quick reminder of how many teams from each group have already reached the last 16:

Group A: Paris St-Germain (winners), Real Madrid (runners up)
Group B: Bayern Munich (winners), Tottenham (runners up)
Group C: Manchester City (winners)
Group D: Juventus (winners)
Group E: None
Group F: Barcelona (winners)
Group G: RB Leipzig
Group H: None

And here’s what teams in each group need to do to advance:

Group C
Shakhtar Donetsk will reach the last 16 if they win at home against Atalanta, while both Atalanta and Dinamo Zagreb can still reach the last 16 with wins.

Group D
Atletico Madrid will secure their spot in the last 16 if they beat Lokomotiv Moscow at home, but if they draw or lose and Bayer Leverkusen win at home against group winners Juventus, the German side will go through.

Group E
Red Bull Salzburg will reach the last 16 if they beat Liverpool at home, while the reigning UCL champions need just a point to make it to the knockout rounds. However,  if Liverpool lose they will be out unless Napoli lose at home to Genk too or if Liverpool score four away goals or more and only lose by one goal (eg a 5-4 loss) combined with a Napoli defeat they will go through. Napoli need a point in their final game at home against Genk to reach the last 16.

Group F
Inter Milan will make the last 16 if they beat Barcelona at home but if they don’t win then Borussia Dortmund will go through by bettering Inter’s result. Dortmund host Slavia Prague at home.

Group G
Leipzig have already qualified and will finish top of the group with a win. Zenit will reach the last 16 if they win away at already eliminated Benfica, while Lyon can qualify if they better Zenit’s result from the final game.

Group H
Chelsea know they will reach the last 16 with a win at home to already eliminated Lille. Ajax only need a draw to make the last 16, while Valencia need a win at Ajax to advance. Chelsea will also reach the last 16 if they draw against Lille and Ajax beat Valencia.

Champions League score predictions: Matchweek 6

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The sixth and final matchday of the 2019-20 UEFA Champions League group stage is here, and two of the four Premier League clubs needing to avoid defeat to go through.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

Fans of Liverpool and Chelsea will both be sweating ahead of their group stage finales.

Below we predict the scores for all 16 UCL games taking place over the next two days, with Tottenham heading to Bayern Munich able to rest players,  while reigning champions Liverpool head to Jesse March’s Salzburg needing a draw to advance but the hosts will go through with a win.

As for Chelsea, they host Lille needing a win to secure their route to the last 16 and a draw could be enough if Valencia lose to Ajax, while Man City travel to Dinamo Zagreb already confirmed as group winners.

Feel free to make your own predictions in the comments section below, too.


Group E
Red Bull Salzburg 3-5 Liverpool
Napoli 3-1 Genk

Group F
Borussia Dortmund 3-1 Slavia Prague
Inter Milan 2-2 Barcelona

Group G
Lyon 2-1 Leipzig
Benfica 0-2 Zenit

Group H
Chelsea 1-1 Lille
Ajax 2-2 Valencia


Group A
PSG 3-0 Galatasaray
Club Brugge 1-2 Real Madrid

Group B
Bayern Munich 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Olympiacos 3-1 Red Star Belgrade

Group C
Shakhtar Donetsk 1-3 Atalanta
Dinamo Zagreb 1-3 Man City

Group D
Bayer Leverkusen 2-2 Juventus
Atletico Madrid 2-1 Lokomotiv Moscow

MLS teams learn opponents for CCL last 16

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The draw for the last 16 of the CONCACAF Champions League took place late Monday and some intriguing clashes have been set up to kick off the knockout rounds.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage

2019 Supporters’ Shield champs LAFC face Liga MX’s Club Leon, while NYCFC fave San Carlos from Costa Rica, 2019 MLS Cup champs Seattle Sounders square off with Honduran side Olimpia, the Montreal Impact face Costa Rica’s Saprissa and Atlanta United also have Honduran opponents in Motagua.

Fans of MLS teams will not need reminding that Liga MX have dominated this competition, with a team from Mexico winning this competition each season since 2006.

Below is the schedule in full for the knockout rounds of the tournament, which begin in mid-February.

2020 CONCACAF Champions League Round of 16 schedule

Leg 1: Feb. 18-20; Leg 2: Feb. 25-27. First team listed hosts Leg 2.

  1. Atlanta United (USA) vs. Motagua (HON)
  2. Club America (MEX) vs. Comunicaciones (GUA)
  3. Cruz Azul (MEX) vs. Portmore United (JAM)
  4. LAFC (USA) vs. Club Leon (MEX)
  5. Tigres UANL (MEX) vs. Alianza (SLV)
  6. NYCFC (USA) vs. San Carlos (CRC)
  7. Seattle Sounders (USA) vs. Olimpia (HON)
  8. Montreal Impact (CAN) vs. Saprissa (CRC)


Leg 1: March 10-12; Leg 2: March 17-19. Winner of odd-numbered Round of 16 game hosts Leg 2.

  • Winner 1 vs. Winner 2
  • Winner 3 vs. Winner 4
  • Winner 5 vs. Winner 6
  • Winner 7 vs. Winner 8


Leg 1: Apr. 7-9; Leg 2: Apr. 14-16. Hosting determined by performance in prior rounds.

  • Winner 1/2 vs. Winner 3/4
  • Winner 5/6 vs. Winner 7/8


Leg 1: April 28-30; Leg 2: May 5-7. Hosting determined by performance in prior rounds.

  • Winner SF1 vs. Winner SF2