Nuno Espirito Santo

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Report: Real Madrid weighing up summer move for Wolves’ Raul Jimenez

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Raul Jimenez may be on his way back to Madrid, Spain this summer.

Wolverhampton Wanderers’ star striker is reportedly garnering interest from Spanish giants Real Madrid ahead of the summer transfer window, according to Spanish outlet Don Balón.

With Luka Jovic, who may be loaned out this summer in order to get minutes, and Mariano struggling to make wholesale impact as secondary options to Karim Benzema, Zinedine Zidane and company are reportedly weighing up a lucrative summer bid for the the former Atletico Madrid striker.

The 28-year-old Mexican has proven to be indispensable for Nuno Espirito Santo this season, scoring 22 goals and recording 10 assists in 44 matches across all competitions. In the 2018-2019 season, Jimenez registered 13 Premier League goals and eight assists, prompting Wolves to shell out a club-record $42 million purchase option via a loan agreement with Benfica.

Featuring 27 times for Los Colchoneros from 2014 to 2015, Jimenez, if a move to the Santiago Bernabeu were to materialize, would be the second Mexican to play for both Madrid giants, with Hugo Sanchez being the other. The striker would become the third Mexican to play for Los Blancos, joining Sanchez and Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, who was on loan with the La Liga side during the 2014-15 season.

Last December, the Mexico international told Marca that he wouldn’t rule out a return to Spain’s top-flight, if the option were to arise: “No, never. I had a good experience there and I would like to go back at some point and try things again in La Liga. It is not something to rule out.”

Europa League: Wolves draw 1st leg; USMNT’s Brooks scores (video)

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A roundup of all of Thursday’s action in Europe’s “other” club competition, the Europa League…

[ MORE: Arteta tests positive for coronavirus | PL to hold emergency meeting ]

Two games involving Italian clubs — Inter Milan v. Getafe and Sevilla v. Roma — were postponed after Italy, one of the countries hit hardest by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, was placed under national quarantine. Makeup dates for those games are unknown at this time.

[ MORE: Man United cruise to 5-0 lead in Europa League last-16 (video) ]

Olympiacos 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wolves still have every hope of reaching the quarterfinals after securing a 1-1 away draw with Olympiacos, though they won’t necessarily be thrilled by the order in which the game unfolded.

Olympiacos went down to 10 men after Ruben Semedo was sent off in the 28th minute, but the Greek powerhouse was first on the scoreboard anyway. Youssef El-Arabi, who scored the dramatic winner two weeks ago at Arsenal, put his side ahead in the 54th minute.

Pedro Neto‘s equalizer wasn’t the prettiest goal ever scored, but manager Nuno Espirito Santo will take the deflected free kick 100 times out of 100 and head back to Molineux Stadium expecting to reach the next round, should the competition continue to be played in a week’s time.

 

Wolfsburg 1-2 Shakhtar Donetsk

Wolfsburg suffered a 2-1 home defeat which puts them in a precarious position to reach the quarterfinals, but it was better news for U.S. men’s national team fans.

USMNT defender John Brooks is back from being benched and making an impact once again. The 27-year-old headed home a corner kick in the 48th minute to bring Wolfsburg level (until Shakhtar bagged the winner in the 73rd).

Full Europa League scoreboard

LASK 0-5 Manchester United — FULL RECAP
Olympiacos 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Rangers 1-3 Bayer Leverkusen
Wolfsburg 1-2 Shakhtar Donetsk
Eintracht Frankfurt 0-3 Basel
Istanbul Basaksehir 1-0 Copenhagen
Inter Milan v. Getafe — postponed
Sevilla v. Roma — postponed

Live, Europa League: LASK v. Man United, Olympiacos v. Wolves headlines

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Five of the six UEFA Europa League games will go ahead behind close doors across Europe on Thursday as the Round of 16 first legs, quite remarkably, will take place with Man United and Wolves in action.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores  ]

With the coronavirus outbreak impacting much of Europe heavily, special conditions are in place for Europa League games as two have been called off with Inter Milan v. Getafe and Sevilla v. Roma postponed due to travel restrictions between Italy and Spain.

The two Premier League clubs who remain in the Europa League, Man United and Wolves, travel to LASK in Austria and Olympiacos in Greece for their respective first legs but both games will be played in empty stadiums.

Wolves have issued a statement criticizing UEFA after they wanted their game at Olympiacos to be postponed due to Olympiacos’ owner Evangelos Marinakis being diagnosed with coronavirus. Olympiacos have since confirmed all of their staff and players have been tested and their tests have come back as negative and the game will be played in an empty stadium in Greece.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Nuno Espirito Santo will see this competition as a great way to secure Champions League qualification given the congested nature of the top four battle in the Premier League and both Man United and Wolves have taken this competition very seriously, albeit with a bit of squad rotation especially in United’s case. Both United and Wolves are heavily favored to advance to the Europa League quarterfinals are United are the favorites and Wolves the third favorites (behind Inter Milan) to win the whole thing.

Looking elsewhere there is what looks like a lopsided battle between Bayer Leverkusen and Steven Gerrard‘s Rangers as the German side continue their uptick in form, while Rangers have struggled in the Scottish Premiership after they knocked out Braga in the last round. Their game at Ibrox is the only one scheduled to have fans in attendance.

Eintracht Frankfurt against Basel will be an intriguing clash, so too will Istanbul Basaksehir v. Copenhagen as the former have the likes of Demba BaMartin Skrtel and Gael Clichy in their squad. Wolfsburg v. Shakthar Donetsk also takes place with the German side favorites to advance.

Below is the schedule in full for Thursday’s Europa League games, while you can click on the link above to follow all the action live and we will have analysis on Man United and Wolves right here on ProSoccerTalk.


Thursday’s UEFA Europa League Round of 16 first leg schedule

LASK Linz v. Man United – 1:55 p.m. ET
Eintracht Frankfurt v. FC Basel – 1:55 p.m. ET
Istanbul Basaksehir v. Copenhagen – 1:55 p.m. ET
Olympiacos v. Wolves – 4 p.m. ET
Bayer Leverkusen v. Glasgow Rangers – 4 p.m. ET
Wolfsburg v. Shakhtar Donetsk – 4 p.m. ET
Inter Milan v. Getafe – Postponed
Sevilla v. Roma – Postponed

Wolves, Brighton frustrated by scoreless draw

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Wolves and Brighton will both be salty after a 0-0 draw at the Molineux on Saturday.

The two sides had aims of improving their stock but combined for just two shots on target.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Wolves fail to move into fourth and have 43 points after the draw, while Brighton moves two points clear of the relegation zone ahead of a frightening run of fixtures.


Three things we learned

1. Seagulls running out of time: Graham Potter‘s men have been difficult to beat and picked up five draws, but their lack of wins during a seven-match lull in their schedule is alarming given what lies ahead. Brighton meets five top teams in its next six matches.

2. Wolves lack sharpness against lower-half: There have been too many draws against lower-half sides for a Wolves side capable of Champions League-caliber football. Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men have now drawn Brighton and Newcastle twice, Saints and Burnley once. Throw in a pair of draws with Leicester City, and you can see where the lack of full points have deprived the UEL contenders of a top four place.

3. Center backs stand out: There were five center backs between the two sides, and not one struggled at the Molineux. Connor Coady and Willy Boly performed exceptionally well for Wolves, especially the latter, while Lewis Dunk was his usual stalwart self for the Seagulls.

Man of the Match: Tie goes to the runner, er, visitor. Dunk.


It was a slow start at the Molineux, 20 minutes played before Rui Patricio made a comfortable save on Davy Propper.

Wolves grew into the game, with Raul Jimenez smashing the post and Ruben Neves missing high.

Nuno Espirito Santo’s men were able to work into open field as they like at times, but the Seagulls limited the danger.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The manager introduced Adama Traore in the 64th minute.

The next chance went to Brighton, but Solly March slipped as he tried to get the ball on target.

Traore led a foray into the box that ended with a deflected Jimenez shot to Mathew Ryan.

Three things learned: Tottenham v. Wolves

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LONDON — Wolves beat Tottenham 3-2 in north London on Sunday as Nuno Espirito Santo‘s side continued their surge up the Premier League table as they outclassed Jose Mourinho’s injury-hit Spurs and deserved the win which boosts their chances of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League.

[ MORE: Mourinho reacts ]

An end-to-end encounter saw Spurs take the lead early on through Steven Bergwijn who slammed home after Serge Aurier teed up Dele Alli but his show was saved by Rui Patricio. That opener sparked Wolves into life and they grabbed a deserved equalizer when Ruben Vinagre crossed for Matt Doherty to finish.

Spurs retook the lead before half time as Aurier rifled home a shot with his left foot which flew into the top corner but Wolves almost levelled at the start of the second half as Diogo Jota flicked a header just over. Dele Alli then headed inches wide as he spurned a glorious chance and moments later Wolves were level again. Adama Traore, Raul Jimenez and Doherty combined to set up Jota to tap home on the line.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

Jimenez then sealed the comeback and the win as he finished up a counter as Jota played him in and Mexico’s star striker finished with extreme composure to stun the home fans and secure a massive victory for Wolves as they move two points ahead of Spurs and are now just three points off the top four.

Here’s what we learned from a wild clash in north London on Sunday as Wolves and Tottenham put on a show.


WOLVES HAVE MOMENTUM IN TOP FOUR RACE

They have a small squad, played away in Spain in the Europa League on Thursday as they reached the last 16 and still they wouldn’t quit. Nuno Espirito Santo’s side were dogged at Tottenham as they twice pinned the hosts back and dug deep to secure a huge win. With hefty challenges, rapid counter attacks and total commitment they kept their Champions League dreams well and truly alive and this game summed up everything that is great about this Wolves side. Jimenez and Traore ran themselves into the ground, while the in-form Jota was a brilliant pest and even when they coughed up goals their belief never wavered. Wolves went to Tottenham and grabbed a statement win which took them above Spurs in the table and kept their momentum going. Wolves have lost once in their last seven games, that was a narrow defeat against Liverpool, and they now face only one team who sit above them in the table in their final 10 games of the season. That is fourth-place Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, on the final day of the season. Wolves are three points off the top four and Chelsea can feel Wolves breathing down their necks.


3-4-3 NOT THE WAY FOR SPURS TO GO

It wasn’t pretty and the 3-4-3 system doesn’t really suit Tottenham. Given the absence of Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son up top, Jose Mourinho keeps going back to it and although they had more of a cutting edge in attack they lacked defensive stability as strangely both Vertonghen and Alderweireld were left on the bench. Given their recent displays, what else could Mourinho do? Going forward Bergwijn, Lucas Moura, Goivani Lo Celso and Dele Alli can all operate centrally and combine in the final third, but it isn’t Kane, Alli, Eriksen and Son in their prime when former boss Mauricio Pochettino preferred 3-4-3 in their title pushing seasons a few years ago. Dele Alli missed glorious chances and there was just no direction in the final third and no belief without Son and Kane. Defensively there is so much work to do as Mourinho abandoned any kind of formation late on and he doesn’t appear to have a plan with this group of players. Tottenham have now lost three games in a row in all competitions and they are in freefall. The negativity Mourinho is spreading about injuries is in the psyche of his team. This is not good, at all. Spurs look very unlikely to make the Champions League next season and Mourinho will have some big questions to answer, injuries aside.


JIMENEZ BACK IN FORM

Wolves’ Raul Jimenez has now scored 13 goals in 28 Premier League games this season. That is the same amount he scored in 38 games last season. Mexico’s star striker is having an even better season this time around and after a run of four goals in 11 games (a rough patch, for him!), Jimenez was back to his menacing best against Spurs. Early on he had a few loose touches but he managed to work his way into the game and he set up countless counter attacks to set up another second half comeback fro Wolves. Jimenez is a hero in Wolverhampton and Mexico and if he leads this side to the Champions League he will be able to shine on the biggest stage of all, which he truly deserves. In the last two seasons he’s scored 39 goals in all competitions, assisted 18 times and has become the highest-scoring Wolves player in the Premier League. His 13 Premier League goals this season have been worth 16 points to Wolves, the joint-most won thanks to a player’s goals alongside Sadio Mane and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. That is why Jimenez is well on the way to becoming a Wolves legend.