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Ivory Coast vs Sierra Leone: Match Preview

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The second round of matches for the group stage of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nation is underway and it is the turn of Group E. Group E leaders, Ivory Coast battle Sierra Leone at 4 pm on Sunday 16th January at the Douala Stadium.

Sierra Leone has warmed the hearts of every footie fanatic after that resilient performance against the defending champions, Algeria. The Leone Stars who were not given a dog’s chance held the Desert Foxes to a goalless draw in their 1st AFCON appearance since 1996.

Goalkeeper Mohammed Kamara pulled off some superb saves and overall fantastic performance to earn a crucial point for the Leone Stars in the first game of their third appearance at the African championship. Mohammed Kamara who hitherto has less than 10 caps for his country made 7 crucial saves to prevent a very talented with a star-studded attack with the likes of Riyad Mahrez, Islam Slimani and Baghdad Bounedjah. Stephen Caulker and Umaru Bangura formed a superb partnership at the back for the Leone Stars as they made light work of Islam Slimani, Baghdad Bounedjah, Youcef Belaili and Riyadh Mahrez.

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Ivory Coast on the other hand were generally wasteful but beat Equatorial Guinea 1-0 courtesy of a sensational 4th-minute strike from Max Gradel. Goalkeeper Badri Ali Sangare who replaced Sylvain Gbohouo was very good denying the Equatorial Guinean team a few goalscoring chances.

For the Elephants, what was more important was the fact that they started on a high note. However, the striker for the game, Sebastien Haller was a pedestrian in the game as a result of the playing style of the wingers; Maxwell Cornet and Max Gradel. Cornet and Gradel were aiming to score themselves and were not flipping in the crosses for Haller as he would have expected from his Ajax teammates Dusan Tadic and Anthony.

Embed from Getty Images

The Ivory Coast go into this game at the top of the summit of the Group E table with 3 points, followed by Algeria and Sierra Leone both tied on 1 point and Equatorial Guinea who do not have a point.

The last time both teams met was in 2015, an AFCON qualifier which ended in a goalless draw.

Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone have met 7 times, with the Elephants winning 6 times and drawing once.

Sierra Leone’s goalkeeper, Mohammed Kamara, Steven Caulker and Umaru Bangura will need to bring their “A” game. This is the 3rd AFCO appearance for the Leone Stars and they have not gone past the group stage on their past 2 AFCON outings.

A win against Ivory Coast may well make that dream a reality.

PREMIER LEAGUE PLAYER FEATURE

WILFRIED ZAHA

The Crystal Palace forward came on in the 71st minute replacing Burnley’s Maxwell Cornet and was a breath of fresh air in the team. He dazzled the crowd with his wonderful footwork and dribbling and narrowly missed 2 shots from hitting the back of the net. He is expected to play ahead of Max Gradel in the game against Sierra Leone.

NICOLAS PÉPÉ

The Arsenal outcast also came on in the 72nd minute and missed 2 clear goalscoring chances. Had he capitalised on both chances, he could have made a case for himself to have a starting berth in the team against Sierra Leone. The competition among the wingers is very tight as there a plethora of players to choose from. Therefore Pépé should start on the bench for the next game.

ERIC BAILLY

Bailly was superb for the Ivorian team in defence using his body as a shield on several occasions even at a point risking injury. His partnership was Simon Deli was not bad on the day. They managed to hold on the opposition really well.

MAXWELL CORNET

The Burnley winger had a lot of the ball and tried to go solo and score but was crowded on several occasions and lost the ball. He did not give off a superb output; it was an “okay” performance. He will need to sit up and be more interested in teamwork in the game against Sierra Leone.

PREDICTED LINEUPS

Possible Ivory Coast starting lineup: Sangare; Konan, Bailly, Maiga, Deli; Kessie, Seri, Sangare; Zaha, Haller, Cornet

Possible Sierra Leone starting lineup: M. Kamara; Wright, Caulker, Bangura, Osman Kakay; J. Kamara, Kwame Quee, S. Kamara; Buya Turay, Bundu, A. Kamara

MATCH PREDICTION

Ivory Coast 2- 1 Sierra Leone












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Premier League outright to win without the Big Six odds: Newcastle 66/1 ahead of summer window

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Premier League outright to win without the Big Six odds: Newcastle 66/1 ahead of summer window – originally posted on Sportslens.com

Newcastle United? West Ham United? Leicester City? If none of the ‘big six’ sides won the 2022/23 Premier League trophy – who would? Keep track of the latest odds and get the lowdown on the movers and shakers here.

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Premier League Winner Without Big 6 Odds
Newcastle United 66/1 at bet365
West Ham United 100/1 at bet365
Leicester City 150/1 at bet365
Brighton and Hove Albion 200/1 at bet365
Aston Villa 250/1 at bet365
Everton 250/1 at bet365

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Will The Premier League See A Repeat of Leicester City’s Famous 2015/16 Title Win?

In the unlikely event that one of the ‘big six’ fail to win the Premier League next season, the bookies’ favourite to take the crown is Newcastle United at 66/1.

Following the Saudi-backed takeover of the Magpies, Newcastle spent heavily in January – bringing in Chris Wood, Kieran Trippier, Bruno Guimaraes and Matt Targett.

West Ham United sit at 100/1 but with the threat of losing Declan Rice in midfield this summer, this price may begin to drift as we approach the window’s opening.

Leicester City at 150/1 are just behind, and the Foxes are no secret to an underdog story. However with Youri Tielemans poised to leave the King Power this summer with just one year left on his contract, we’re also expecting to see this price drift closer to the season’s start.

Who Will Win The Premier League?

As implied by the Premier League outright winner odds.

Premier League Winner Chance of Winning
Manchester City 63%
Liverpool 33%
Chelsea 5.8%
Manchester United 4.7%
Spurs 3.8%
Arsenal 0.6%

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Premier League outright winner odds: Manchester City 4/7 favourite

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Premier League outright winner odds: Manchester City 4/7 favourite – originally posted on Sportslens.com

Manchester City? Liverpool? Chelsea? Whoever you believe will win the 2022/23 Premier League trophy, keep track of the latest odds and get the lowdown on the movers and shakers here.

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Manchester City 4/7 at bet365
Liverpool 2/1 at bet365
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Manchester City Look Unstoppable For Third Consecutive Title 

After some final day heroics from Pep Guardiola’s side reminiscent to Sergio Aguero’s stoppage time winner to seal the title in 2012, Manchester City enter the market as 4/7 favourites to retain their Premier League crown next season.

Having already secured the signature of Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund for a £51m fee, City have filled a considerable gap up front after failing to sign a striker last summer – unsuccessful in their pursuits of Harry Kane and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Manchester United are poised to spend big this summer as the Erik ten Hag era gets underway at Old Trafford, with Jurrien Timber a reported target for the former Ajax boss.

Liverpool couldn’t believe their luck on Sunday when Philippe Coutinho put Aston Villa 2-0 up at the Etihad and looked set for a record-equalling 20th league title, only for Rodri and Ilkay Gundogan to spoil the party.

Chelsea will aim to bounce back under new ownership following a disappointing season including two cup final defeats, and are 16/1 to win the league next season.

Who Will Win The Premier League?

As implied by the Premier League outright winner odds.

Premier League Winner Chance of Winning
Manchester City 63%
Liverpool 33%
Chelsea 5.8%
Manchester United 4.7%
Spurs 3.8%
Arsenal 0.6%

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Liverpool predicted XI vs Real Madrid: Team News, Prediction

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Liverpool and Real Madrid are going to face each other in the Final of this year’s UEFA Champions League, in Paris on Saturday.

It is not only about the history of the 2 teams, but also the managers have their own history to go by. Carlo Ancelotti and Jurgen Klopp are considered to be 2 of the greatest managers to have graced world football with their tactical masterclass. One urges his players to thrive on positional and counter pressing football, while the latter has build a hardcore pressing system, or aka gegenpressing. 

Without the shadow of a doubt, this final is going to live up to its hype. The history, the passion, the sense of redemption in each of the camps, the respect, professionalism and above all the support from the fans. While Liverpool are going to go out there on Saturday in a historic red colour jersey, dating back to late 19th century- early 20th century, Real Madrid are going to represent themselves as what they call- The Royal Whites.

While the Reds face some serious injury issues to deal with, before the Final, the Real Madrid side look well rested and ready to go.

Embed from Getty Images

The Royal Whites winning their La Liga title with 4 games left to spare, has certainly helped them before their trip to Paris for the Champions League showdown. No major concerns to look forward to, as Carlo Ancelotti has a full squad at his beck and call. And by complete squad, I mean full fit squad- with Hazard and Bale also returning to the fore, before the D-day.

However as things stand, it is Liverpool mainly who are to face the wrath of Lady Luck. With Thiago picking up an injury on the final day of the Premier League season, against Wolves, it seems Klopp will have some work to do in order to find the perfect back-up to the Spaniard- who has been exquisite this season. 

Other than that, Firmino has already returned while his national & club teammate, Fabinho, is set to mark his return in the Final on Saturday- after being out of the side for almost 2 weeks. Meanwhile, Salah and Van Dijk are also set to mark a full return in the Final- while the Egyptian did get a runout against Wolves, Van Dijk was given a complete rest so that Klopp can have the Dutchman’s 100%. 

How can Liverpool lineup vs Real Madrid

Be it however the Reds line-up, there will be some major changes from the side that played on the final matchday of the Premier League, against Wolves. One of the things to keep in mind, going into the final, would be that the teams are allowed to make 5 substitutions each. So Jurgen Klopp, along with Carlo Ancelotti, will look to make sure that even the bench stays strong.

#1

Embed from Getty Images

Primarily, one of the most obvious line-ups that we could see on the final day would keep out Konate and Keita out of the side. This will mean that Alisson will start in goal – as the Premier League Golden Glove winner has been a sensation for the Reds, this season- with Trent, Matip, Van Dijk and Robertson forming a strong line of the back 4 to protect the Brazilian custodian from getting too exposed.

Followed by Henderson, Fabinho and Curtis Jones in the midfield. And in the attack, Salah, Mane and Diaz making up our front three.

A less likely line-up to go by, considering Jones’ inclusion in the mid 3. But, one of the few permutation & combinations that Klopp and his team would certainly wrap their minds around.

Liverpool predicted XI vs Real Madrid: Alisson; Trent, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Jones; Salah, Mane, Diaz.

#2

Embed from Getty Images

Now, coming to one of the few more talked about line-ups, from the Reds’ perspective, going into the Final. Although, Klopp has resounded his optimism on Thiago’s speedy recovery, it highly unlikely for the Spaniard to start the game- given the extend of the injury and the number day left before the match. A certain miracle, only, can bring back Thiago in the playing XI- and miracles do happen in football.

But barring all that, I must not rely on one of the fewest most chances of his return, rather let’s get our focus back on another possible line-up that Klopp could put up against Madrid.

Considering Konate’s physical and pace prowess as a Centre Back, the German might look to his young French wall to cover for Trent in order to stop Madrid’s pacy Brazilian, Vinicius Jr, in going forward. As Michael Cox said in the recent podcast done by The Athletic, “Ibrahima Konate has got that physical aspect, and the speed aspect that Matip lacks. So, Jurgen Klopp might look to the youngster in order to provide that defensive stability, against the likes of Vinicius Jr.”

Other than that, as we said above, there is a high chance that Curtis Jones might not start the game as Jurgen Klopp would look to Naby Keita to cover for that absence of Thiago on the left side of the midfield. With Salah, Mane and Diaz, remaining the constant fron three in both of the predictions.

Liverpool predicted XI vs Real Madrid: Alisson; Trent, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Keita; Salah, Mane, Diaz.

Note: Not to mention, if Thiago returns (and that’s a big if) – owing to a miracle and a good support from the physios – the midfield 3 would not change; Henderson, Fabinho and Thiago would start, as it was supposed to be.












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