Tottenham v Chelsea @Wembley Stadium @4pm on Aug.20
Tottenham player must be licking their lips at meeting a disjointed Chelsea side, which beat them to the EPL title last season. Though they did not play too well against Newcastle, they won 2-0 and would love an early marker, especially a team that has somehow denied them the title in the last two seasons.
For Antonio Conte, with furrowed brows, this match is one he will not want to lose and his last match against Spurs at Wembley ended in a 4-2 win – a score line like that on Sunday is required to cast away the clouds that have descended on Stamford Bridge of late.
Spurs are at full strength, apart from Kieran Trippier, out injured while Chelsea will go to battle without Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas, which might see Conte utilizing David Luiz in midfield with Alvaro Morata starting ahead of the ineffectual Michy Batshuayi.
Current Form: Tottenham [W-W-L-L-W]; Chelsea [L-L-L-L-W]
Head to head
22/04/17 FAC Chelsea 4 – 2 Tottenham
04/01/17 PRL Tottenham 2 – 0 Chelsea
26/11/16 PRL Chelsea 2 – 1 Tottenham
02/05/16 PRL Chelsea 2 – 2 Tottenham
29/11/15 PRL Tottenham 0 – 0 Chelsea
Prediction: Tottenham 3-1 Chelsea
Bayern v Leverkusen @Allianz Arena @7:45pm on Aug.18
Carlo Ancelotti will be hoping for a fast start after debilitating defeats to Liverpool, Napoli and Inter Milan in pre-season and that Robert Lewandowski will finally score against Leverkusen at the fifth time of asking for Bayern. According to Bundesliga.com, “Bayern are good at getting a show started, so good, in fact, that they have never lost an official Friday Bundesliga kick-starter, winning 12 and drawing three of their 15 curtain raisers. They’ve also struck the season’s first goal on 12 occasions.”
Leverkusen manager, Heiko Herrlich, believes his side is in a very good shape but reckons his players must start with the right mentality against the league’s defending champions.
Current Form: Bayern [W-W-L-L-L]; Leverkusen [W-D-L-D-L]
Head to head
15/04/17 BUN Leverkusen 0 – 0 Bayern
26/11/16 BUN Bayern 2 – 1 Leverkusen
06/02/16 BUN Leverkusen 0 – 0 Bayern
29/08/15 BUN Bayern 3 – 0 Leverkusen
02/05/15 BUN Leverkusen 2 – 0 Bayern
Prediction: Bayern 4-1 Leverkusen
Inter Milan v Fiorentina @San Siro @7:45pm on Aug.20
What Internazionale need more than anything else is a good start. Without European engagement, the former European champions would be looking to continue the good form shown in pre-season under a new manager, Luciano Spalletti. Last season, these two sides scored 15 goals in their two league matches, so we should be expecting goals in this one.
One of Inter’s main investments last season, Joao Mario, wants a quick start that would give assurance to the fans. “It’s a match with lots of subplots but what matters is winning and we want to do well in our first league match at San Siro. We have to show to the fans what we are capable of and who we are, so we can give them the first three points.”
There is a quick return for Stefano Pioli, who managed Inter for a bit last season while the Nerazzurri snagged Borja Valero and Matias Vecino from the Gigliati.
Current Form: Inter [W-W-W-W-W]; Fiorentina [D-W-W-W-L]
Head to head
22/04/17 SEA Fiorentina 5 – 4 Inter
28/11/16 SEA Inter 4 – 2 Fiorentina
14/02/16 SEA Fiorentina 2 – 1 Inter
27/09/15 SEA Inter 1 – 4 Fiorentina
01/03/15 SEA Inter 0 – 1 Fiorentina
Prediction: Inter 3-2 Fiorentina
Nigeria v Benin @Sani Abacha Stadium @4pm on Aug.19
For the first time ever, Benin Republic [Nigeria’s supposed 37th state] beat her neighbours, 1-0, courtesy of an 89th minute penalty. Some observers have said the Eagles did not play particularly well, even if they dominated possession. Coach Salisu Yusuf and his players now need to deliver the victory that would send the Eagles to the CHAN tournament, scheduled for Kenya.
One fact that is sure is fans would throng the Sani Abacha Stadium to support the national side.
NFF president, Amaju Pinnick, was not excited by the team’s first leg display even though he said the referee from Algeria did not cover himself in glory. Pinnick told Brila FM, “I wasn’t really impressed with our players. I don’t know what happened. They are all very highly rated players, some of the best in our league but to me, they didn’t live up to expectations.
“Some of those factors like the officiating must have affected them. But like I said, we will do everything possible in the second leg to make sure we qualify for CHAN.” Now the rhetoric must be put aside and Yusuf will be looking at the likes of Osas Okoro [pictured above] to lift these Eagles to victory.
Current Form: Nigeria [L-L-W-D-W]; Benin [W-W-D-W-D]
Head to head
12/08/17 ANC Benin 1 – 0 Nigeria
16/01/10 ACO Nigeria 1 – 0 Benin
29/01/08 ACO Nigeria 2 – 0 Benin
04/02/04 ACO Nigeria 2 – 1 Benin
Prediction: Nigeria 3-1 Benin
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