Trophy matters for Wijnaldum

Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum has challenged his side to make their season complete by beating Tottenham in the Champions League final.

The Reds narrowly missed out on the Premier League title at the weekend, as they were pipped at the post by Manchester City, despite the Reds losing just one game in the league all season.

However, they can make up for that failure in 1st June in Madrid, when they play out an all-Premier League final against Spurs.

And, with Liverpool having lost out to Real Madrid in the Champions League final 12 months ago, there is added motivation in play for Wijnaldum and his colleagues.

The Dutchman told his club's official website: "Overall I think we had a good season and now is the challenge to finish with a title to make the season complete.

"It would be really sad if we finish the season without a title. I think this season deserves one.

"The last couple of games were basically games where we could only win and look at what Man City were doing. They won also, so fair enough that they are champions.

"But now we have a game that we can control, so we have to bring that to a good end. It would be really special."

Liverpool claimed 2-1 victories in both league meetings with Spurs this season, with Wijnaldum on the scoresheet in the success at Wembley back in September.

The Reds are 15/2 to secure a 2-1 victory in normal time in Madrid and are 1/2 to lift the trophy, with the Merseysiders 19/20 to triumph in 90 minutes.

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Champions League: Liverpool Perform a Miracle to Beat Barca!

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Liverpool 4-0 (4-3 on agg.) Barcelona

Liverpool pulled off one of the most incredible Champions League comebacks of all-time tonight, overturning a three-goal deficit to stun Barcelona and make it to the Madrid final.

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp said his side would suffer in the Camp Nou in the run-up to the first leg, and how right he was. But all that was forgotten tonight as the valiant Reds put Lionel Messi and co. to the sword, and all the suffering was felt by the Catalans!

Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum both bagged a brace in another Anfield night that will go down in folklore.

Highlights of the game

The Reds came into the match on the back of a dramatic late win at Newcastle at the weekend thanks to an 86th-minute goal from Origi, and I bet he couldn’t believe his luck when he fired this tie into life on just eight minutes.

Jordi Alba, for reasons best known to him, headed the ball into the path of Sadio Mane, who then released Jordan Henderson to shoot. Marc-Andre ter Stegen made the save, but Origi was on the spot to turn the ball into the empty net.

Anfield erupted in the belief this could be another one of those famous Champions League nights, but they had a warning from Lionel Messi. The Argentine released a wicked shot which Alisson did well to tip over the bar.

Liverpool midfielder Fabinho picked up a yellow card for a foul on Luis Suarez, and that made his job of keeping Messi quiet more difficult. And moments later, Messi fed Philippe Coutinho, who brought out another good save from Alisson.

As the first half came to a close, the crowd roared its approval with the comeback dream still on.

After receiving a kick from Suarez, Andy Robertson didn’t make it out for the second half, and so James Milner moved back to left back with Georginio Wijnaldum slotting into midfield.

Both keepers were called into action early in the second period. ter Stegen made a smart reaction save from Virgil Van Dijk’s first-time flick, and then Alisson did well to keep out a low effort from Suarez.

And then the roof came off the stadium as Liverpool struck twice in two minutes to level the scores with over half an hour remaining.

Georginio Wijnaldum has played a huge role in Liverpool's thrashing of Barcelona in a crucial Champions League game

Liverpool’s Georginio Wijnaldum celebrates with Trent Alexander-Arnold after scoring a goal in a crucial Champions League semi-final against Barcelona

It was the substitute Wijnaldum scoring both. His first was a sharp finish from a Trent Alexander-Arnold cross. And then two minutes later, as another cross flew into the Barca box, the Dutchman rose highest to plant his header beyond ter Stegen to make it 3-3. Remarkable!

But Barca knew one goal would leave Liverpool needing two. Messi burst through to force Alisson into another good save. Van Dijk then cleared when Suarez looked ready to poke home an Alba cross. And then…

It happened!

Alexander-Arnold saw Origi in space and whipped the ball in for the striker to finish beautifully, sparking pandemonium in the stadium. Barca were asleep and paid the price.

There was one more crowd eruption to come when the ref blew for full time to draw a close to this simply unbelievable game.

Key statistics

Liverpool needed a miracle tonight at Anfield with the pre-match Liverpool vs Barcelona betting odds suggesting the hosts would do well to pull even one goal back. But it took less than ten minutes for Origi to ignite the tie with a goal that made him Liverpool’s 50th Champions League scorer.

Georginio Wijnaldum’s double strike made him the first-ever substitute to score twice against Barcelona in the competition.

What’s next?

Well, the high drama just keeps on coming folks, when the Premier League comes to a thrilling climax next Sunday. It’s been an epic battle between two sides which have traded blow for blow and shown just how far ahead of the chasing pack they actually are.

Manchester City are the overwhelming favourite, just needing a win at Brighton to retain the title. But Jurgen Klopp’s aim was always to remain in the hunt until the very last day when he knows that anything can happen. On paper, the Reds have the tougher assignment when Wolves visit Anfield.

Manchester City Asian Handicap -2.25 @ 2.06 1X2 Brighton & Hove Albion @ 16.00 Total Goals 2-3 @ 2.57 Third Line text CLICK HEREDisclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.Premier League

With La Liga already won, Barcelona hosts fourth-placed Getafe at the Camp Nou on Sunday. Jose Borderlas’ Madrid minnows have had a sensational season and have a great chance of winning a Champions League place. And I’m not sure how Ernesto Valverde will lift his players for that game.

But next up for us Champions League fans is the other semi-final tomorrow night when Ajax start with a one-goal advantage against Spurs.

The young Dutch side has taken the competition by storm, registering the most spectacular Champions League 2019 results by putting out Juventus and Real Madrid en route to the last four.

 

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Liverpool hold nerve at Cardiff

A goalless first 45 minutes could have increased the nerves for Liverpool but two goals duly came in the second half as they beat Cardiff 2-0 to return to the top of the Premier League.

After Manchester City went top after beating Tottenham on Saturday, Jurgen Klopp's side needed victory in Wales to go back above them and missed a number of first half chances.

However, they held their nerve to dominate the second period and win the game to go back top.

Liverpool should have taken the lead midway through the first half, Mo Salah and Sadio Mane combining to set up Roberto Firmino who was clear on goal but fired over when he should have hit the target.

On half an hour Trent Alexander-Arnold produced an excellent cross which Mane was able to reach but he couldn't direct his shot which went over the bar.

Soon after, when Liverpool did get a shot in, from Salah, Cardiff keeper Neil Etheridge was on hand to make a good save.

Most of the pressure was one-way but Cardiff did have an opportunity before the break, Oumar Niasse getting a shot in from a corner but Alisson saved well in the Liverpool goal.

Half-time came with the score goalless but Liverpool were soon on the attack after the restart, Georginio Wijnaldum finding Mane whose shot clipped the top of the net before going over.

Wijnaldum was again involved minutes later, giving the visitors the lead, Alexander-Arnold sending over a corner and the Dutchman found space in the area to fire home from close range to the joy and relief of the away fans at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Neil Warnock's side should have quickly equalised when Sean Morrison was gifted the ball from a corner after Alisson fumbled the ball but the defender, presented with a free header, failed to connect properly and the danger was alleviated.
 
Morrison was to pay for his miss soon after when he was adjudged to have fouled Salah in the box and Liverpool were awarded a penalty with James Milner making no mistake to double the visitors lead and they held on comfortably for another win that takes them onto 88 points.

Liverpool are two points clear at the top but Manchester City still have a game in hand and that takes place on Wednesday night at Old Trafford.

Manchester United, who lost to Everton on Sunday, are 5/1 to bounce back and puncture City's title bid while Pep Guardiola's side are 4/9 to win with the draw priced at 15/4.

City are 8/13 to retain the Premier League title with Liverpool available to be backed at 13/10.

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Lovren doubtful for Bayern game

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says that Dejan Lovren is not expected to be fit in time for the side's meeting with Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

The teams meet at Anfield on Tuesday in the round of 16 first-leg and Liverpool will be without Virgil van Dijk who is suspended for the game.

However, Lovren is unlikely to play as his replacement. The Croatian suffered a hamstring injury against Wolves last month and has not travelled with the squad to their warm-weather training camp in the south of Spain.

Klopp admits that Lovren is not expected to be fit for Tuesday night's game.

He said: "I don't want to rule it out but I cannot really plan with it.

"He is not here for good reasons, because he cannot be part of training. We are back on Friday. Then from Saturday on, Dejan is back at Melwood and we will see.

"But in the moment we prepare the game and in this preparation Dejan is not involved. We have to find other solutions."

Klopp though did have better news on Georginio Wijnaldum who had been ill and missed training in Marbella.

His manager said that he was recovering and should be in contention to face the Bundesliga champions.

Liverpool are 1/1 to win the first-leg and take a lead to Germany with Bayern 23/10 and the draw 14/5.

Liverpool are without a match this weekend with the FA Cup fifth round ties taking place, having lost to Wolves in the third round.

Klopp's side are second in the Premier League table and follow the Bayern fixture with a match away to Manchester United next Sunday.

Liverpool are 6/5 to win their first Premier League title with Manchester City 8/11 to retain the trophy they won last year.

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UEFA Nations League: The Future’s Bright, The Future’s Oranje!

Netherlands 3-0 Germany

It may be the UEFA Nations League as opposed to a major championship. Therefore, it may not be a result that too many us fans read too much into.

However, it’s certainly a scoreline that makes people sit up and take notice.

It was a close encounter for the most part, but those who just see the score will now begin to ask further questions about Germany manager Joachim Low and his struggling nation.

Highlights of the game

As far as goals are concerned, the UEFA Nations League 2018 highlights were provided by Premier League players past and present.

First, Liverpool centre-back and skipper Virgil van Dijk headed in from close range after Ryan Babel headed against the crossbar.

Then man-of-the-match Memphis Depay, formerly of Manchester United, finished off a slick counter-attack.

And then another Liverpool man, Georginio Wijnaldum, fired home into the bottom corner to complete a memorable night for the Oranje.

Certainly, if you looked at the UEFA Nations League 2018 odds before kick-off, this wasn’t expected.

Indeed, home supporters generally expect to be patient and know it will take some time for new boss Ronald Koeman to return the Netherlands to their former status with a new look and fairly youthful side.

But they weren’t expecting this against the former world champions, even accounting for their miserable 2018 which culminated in a shock exit at the World Cup group stage.

For a side which enjoyed 60 percent of the possession, Germany naturally created chances.

They were denied what appeared to be a clear-cut penalty in the final 10 minutes when Arnaut Groeneveld tripped Matthias Ginter, only to see referee Cuneyt Cakir unmoved.

They also came closest to levelling, first through the out-of-sorts Timo Werner and Thomas Muller before the break, and then when unmarked substitute Leroy Sane dragged his shot wide from close range after being played through by playmaker Toni Kroos.

Kroos himself had earlier defended his boss Low after criticism from outspoken former captain Michael Ballack.

It was to prove costly as Depay—who also hit the crossbar—and Wijnaldum scored twice in the final five minutes to put a one-sided gloss on the scoreline in the Amsterdam Arena.

The result leaves Germany bottom of their group and in need of a positive outcome in a little over 72 hours’ time against the new world champions.

Not that it is of great consequence in the wider scheme of things, but Germany now face the real prospect of relegation from Group A1 of the UEFA Nations League.

They certainly look a pale imitation of the nation which won the 2014 World Cup and last year’s Confederations Cup.

In contrast, to quote a famous advertisement, perhaps the future is looking bright for Oranje!

Key statistics

Germany sit at the bottom of their group in the UEFA Nations League following their 3-0 defeat against Netherlands

Germany manager Joachim Low gestures to his players during their UEFA Nations League match against Netherlands

Low’s Germany, who won the World Cup in 2014, have now only won three of their last 12 matches.

Low has now broken the record for most matches as German national team manager. This was the 168th time he has been at the helm since succeeding Jurgen Klinsmann in the role in 2006, breaking the record previously held by Sepp Herberger.

In handing Mark Uth his Germany debut, the Schalke forward became the 100th player to earn their first Germany cap during Low’s reign.

PSV Eindhoven full-back Denzel Dumfries also made his international debut.

This was Netherlands’ first-ever victory over Germany by a three-goal margin.

Former Dutch favourites Rafael van der Vaart and Dirk Kuyt were among those watching the contest, and the crowd paid tribute to their international careers before kick-off.

Their service to the national team saw Van der Vaart win 109 caps, including 25 goals and 23 assists.

Kuyt won 104 caps, scored 24 times and notched 19 assists.

Germany have now failed to score in three successive matches for the first time in their history.

This was the first time Germany have lost to the Netherlands since 2002.

Top of Form

What’s next?

It’s a quick turnaround now for Germany who entertain the nation that took their world crown.

They visit France next week for a Group A1 clash in the Stade de France.

They host Russia in a friendly next month before welcoming the Netherlands for the return fixture to wrap up the group.

Netherlands take on old adversaries Belgium in a friendly, also next week.

Then it’s their turn to play the world champions in the group on November before their visit to Veltins Arena, home of Schalke.

 

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Wijnaldum not making a statement

Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum says he and his colleagues remain firmly focused on winning games and not anything of a longer-term nature.

The Reds made it five win out of five in the Premier League this season by claiming a 2-1 success against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley, with Wijnaldum heading home the opening goal.

However, the Netherlands international was wary of reading too much into the result against one of the other teams expected to be amongst the title challengers.

He told his club's official website: "I don't really want to speak about statements because every game is different. Now is Tottenham, other teams will come.

"A game is a game, it's not really a statement. You can win this and lose another game.

"We just must make sure that we will not lose these games easily and that we have to do a lot of things to win these games.

"We have to be concentrated, give everything and play good football. Then we can win these games – we need to focus on those things and not on 'giving statements'."

The Merseysiders move on to a Champions League clash with Paris Saint Germain at Anfield on Tuesday evening, with the visitors having also won their first five league games this season.

The two teams have met just once before in European competition, that in the semi-finals of the Cup Winners' Cup in 1997, when PSG won out 3-2 on aggregate.

Liverpool are 23/20 to claim victory on Tuesday and are 14/1 to secure a 2-0 win, with the Merseysiders 12/1 to go all the way and win the Champions League this season.

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Injuries mount for Reds

Liverpool look set to be without midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum for Saturday's trip to West Ham due to an ankle injury.

Manager Jurgen Klopp has mounting injury concerns ahead of the clash at the London Stadium this weekend, with Brazil star Philippe Coutinho set to miss out due to an adductor problem.

Wijnaldum is set to be another absentee for the trip to the capital, with Klopp confirming the Dutch international could be set for a spell on the sideline after suffering the knock in the 3-0 win over Maribor in the Champions League.

"At half-time I asked immediately and the ankle was already swollen," said Klopp. "It is probably not a good sign."

He added: "We saw a kick in the game and did not think it was too serious. Then it was swollen. We're not sure if he twisted it or not. For sure, we have to make a scan."

With long-term absentees Adam Lallana and Nathaniel Clyne yet to feature for the Reds this season, Klopp will have to consider his options for the encounter with Slaven Bilic's side.

Liverpool are 8/13 to win, 3/1 to draw and 4/54/1 to lose to the Hammers this weekend.

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Coutinho not ruled out – Klopp

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has not given up hope of Philippe Coutinho being passed fit to feature against Huddersfield Town at Anfield on Saturday.

The 25-year-old Brazil international playmaker missed training on Thursday due to a hip problem, with initial reports suggesting that Coutinho would definitely miss out against the Terriers.

However, Klopp will make a final decision closer to kick-off, telling reporters: "It's not clear yet.

"Last week he had some back problems before the Tottenham game, but then during the week it settled down with treatment and all that stuff, so he was fit for the game.

"This week he had a little bit of problem with the adductor. It's not clear so far if he is out, we will make the decision after training (on Friday).

"He didn't train yesterday, that's true, but that's all for the moment."

The Reds are available at 2/7 to claim all three points against the Terriers on Saturday afternoon and are 13/2 to win the game 2-0, while Mohamed Salah can be backed at 10/11 to score at any time.

Meanwhile, midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum has declared himself fit and ready for action, having been forced to sit out the 4-1 defeat by Tottenham at Wembley last weekend due to a knee injury.

The Netherlands international told the clubs official website: "I'm still in a little bit of pain, but I can play with it. I did full training and felt good, so probably I can play.

"The manager decides if he's going to put me in the first XI, but I will be available."

Liverpool and Huddersfield have not met at all this century, with the Reds claiming a 2-0 FA Cup victory in West Yorkshire in December 1999 when the two sides last clashed.

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Wijnaldum issues pressure admission

Georginio Wijnaldum claims Liverpool's players put too much pressure on themselves to arrest their recent poor run of results.

Jurgen Klopp's side won just one game – an FA Cup third round replay against League Two Plymouth Argyle – in 10 matches between 2nd January and 4th February.

It resulted in the Reds slipping out of the EFL Cup semi-finals and the fourth round of the FA Cup respectively, while dropping out of the top-four Champions League qualification places.

And Wijnaldum claims they held clear-the-air talks last week in an effort to get back to winning ways and it appears they had the desired effect as a Sadio Mane brace secured a 2-0 win against Tottenham at Anfield on Saturday night.

The Dutch international claims the pressure the players put on themselves not to lose worked against them and he is now hoping they can go on a winning run and fiunish "as high as possible" this season.

Wijnaldum said: "I don't think we had the pressure of the title race, that came more from the outside.

"Of course you know if you have poor results it is more difficult to win the title but we still have second, third, fourth place and we must finish as high as possible at the end of the season.

"I think in some situations we put too much pressure on ourselves and that is why it went so wrong.

"If you have a few poor games in a row you are going to put pressure on yourself of 'We have to win this one or this and this will happen'.

"I think we were too busy thinking about the consequences than concentrating on the game.

"Last week we were only concentrating on Tottenham: how we can play against them, how we can hurt them and so on.

"The focus was different than a few weeks before. That is my opinion."

Liverpool, who are 1/10 to finish in the top four, have a two-week break from the Premier League due the FA Cup fifth round this weekend and are set to face struggling champions Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Monday 27th February.

The Reds are 4/6 to win, while Leicester can be backed at 9/2 and the draw is 31/10.

Wijnaldum keen to add goals

Summer signing Georginio Wijnaldum says he would love to get among the goals for Liverpool, but is focused firstly on helping his side win games.

The 25-year-old Netherlands international found the net 11 times in the Premier League last season for Newcastle United, but has yet to break his duck for the Reds in six appearances in all competitions.

And Wijnaldum is keen to get his name back on the scoresheet, while being more than happy to help Jurgen Klopp's men try to build on a 4-1 thrashing of champions Leicester City last time out.

He told his club's official website: "During the years I have scored a lot of goals as a midfielder and when you get that feeling, you always want to score.

"You're going to have a hunger to score goals and you're going to be greedy to score goals. That's what I am right now, but the most important thing is 'how can I help the team?'.

"If that's with assists then so be it. Of course I want to score, because I did it for a lot of years in a lot of teams and it’s something I can do.

"I'm searching for goals, because if you get used to scoring goals, you're going to have a hunger and be greedy to score goals from midfield.

"But you must also think about what you have to do to help my team-mates. I have faith in my qualities and I know goals will come."

Next up for Wijnaldum and Liverpool is a Friday night trip to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea, with the Reds having won the corresponding fixture last season by a 3-1 scoreline, with Philippe Coutinho netting twice and Christian Benteke adding a late third.

Liverpool can be backed at 5/2 to secure a draw on Friday evening and are 4/1 to keep a clean sheet, with Wijnaldum 13/2 to score at any time.

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