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Benfica sink Barcelona 3-0 to bottom of Group E, Bayern win 5-0

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Barcelona have suffered a second defeat in two games and from now on can’t afford any more slip-ups if they are to progress from Champions League Group E. Ronald Koeman’s former club, Benfica, took an early lead and although the Catalans had a host of opportunities to get back into the game, the Portuguese side were eventually able to build on that lead in the second half.

The result leaves Barça bottom of the group for the time being, but there’s a lot more football to be played, beginning with back-to-back games with Dynamo Kyiv on October 20 and November 2.

Buoyed by an infectious atmosphere inside the Stadium of Light, the home side flew at Barça and Darwin Nuñez fired them into the lead after just two minutes. A finely crafted and finished goal by the Uruguayan, but anything but the start that Barça needed.

The blaugrana response was immediate. For all the remainder of the first half the big plays were all in the direction of the Portuguese goal and it is difficult to fathom how not one of them ended with the ball in the back of the net.

Frenkie de Jong, on the night of his 100th appearance for the club, set up his compatriot and namesake Luuk twice to no avail. Frenkie had a couple of pops of his own and there were fine chances for Pedri and Memphis too, but Barça were still trailing at the break.

That wasn’t for lack of chances, but none of them had hit the target, and sadly that statistic wasn’t going to change after the break.

Other than the goal, Benfica may have battled hard and well to keep the Catalans at bay, but they’d created very little threat of their own. They found new verve in the second half and the closest of a number of chances in quick succession came when Nuñez caught Ter Stegen well off his line and ended up hitting the post.

That had been a let-off, but on 68 minutes Benfica did stretch their lead. Barça had lacking their tight shape of the first half and an unmarked Rafa Silva was able to convert the rebound after a previous effort had been cleared.

And there was further woe ten minutes later when Sergiño Dest handled in the area and Darwin Nuñez poked the penalty home. Benfica had only scored once in their last six meetings with Barça, but tonight they had three.

Meanwhile, for Barça it was the first time they had lost their first two games of a European campaign since losing twice to FC Porto in 1972.

To rub salt into the wounds, Barça played the final minutes with ten men after Eric Garcia was red-carded, but by that stage the game was already looking like a lost cause.

Bayern win

In the other game in Group E, Bayern Munich thrashed Dynamo 5-0, with Lewandowski scoring twice in the first half, and Gnarby, Sane and Choupo-Moting adding three more in the second. The result leaves the Germans flying high with six points, Benfica have four, Dynamo one and Barça none.

 

 

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Osimhen’s €71.25m Move to Napoli One of 62 Transfer Deals under Investigations in Italy

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Victor Osimhen

Victor Osimhen’s €71.25million move from Ligue 1 club, LOSC Lille to Napoli in is believed to be one of the 62 transfer deals between 2019 and 2021 under investigations by Italian anti-graft authorities.

Italian newspapers, La Repubblica and Il Tempo, reported that the Federal Prosecutor was investigating the possibility of inflated valuations to help clubs balance their books.

At the time the Nigerian international joined Napoli, Orestes Karnezis, Claudio Manzi, Ciro Palmieri and Luigi Liguori went in opposite direction for a total few of €20.13million

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Both Palmieri and Liguori have returned to Italy and are now playing for Nocerina and Afragolese in the Serie D, Italy’s fourth division.

Goal.com hinted that the Supervisory

Commission for Serie A clubs (COVISOC) has already informed the Italian FIGC of a possible capital flight gains by inflated valuations, highlighting , among others, Osimhen’s move from LOSC Lille to Napoli and Juventus’ exchange deal with Barcelona for Arthur Melo.

It is alleged that Juventus’ transfer activity is being scrutinised more than most, with Gazzetta dello Sport claiming 42 of the deals being looked into involve Serie A’s most successful team.

Juventus revealed last month that the Italian market regulator CONSOB is looking into revenue they received from player trading activity.

The authority obtained documentation “concerning revenue stemming from player trading activity,” without providing further details.

Juventus declined to comment when approached by Reuters for their views on the latest investigation.

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I need a new coach, Joshua cries out

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Anthony Joshua has said he is “done with losing” as he considers a coaching shake-up following his defeat by Oleksandr Usyk.

Joshua, who lost the WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight titles to Ukrainian Usyk, told iFL TV he was ready for “war” as he prepares for a potential rematch.

“I’m done with losing. I’m done with trying to learn the sweet science,” Briton Joshua, 32, said.”[Usyk] might get thrown on the floor in the next fight because this is war.”

He added: “I’m heading into my 12th  world title fight now and the learning is done. It’s done. It’s just war. I’m annoyed. I’m boiling up just speaking about it.”

Joshua has spent time in the United States since the loss and worked with leading trainers including Ronnie Shields, who was instrumental in Mike Tyson’s in-ring career.

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He insisted he was not splitting from long-time coach Rob McCracken but instead needed to develop further by seeking other inputs.

“I need a new coach to learn from as well,” he added. “I will not be basing myself in the States, I am a UK resident so I am not going out to the States to find a new coach.

“Rob’s in Lithuania so I need to find a new coach for certain points as I train 10 or 11 months a year. I need to step away and get some new teachings from trainers who have trained the likes of 13 or 14 world champions.

“I wish I had done these things sooner, but now I can go out there and add things to my game.”

Defeat by Usyk has put any immediate hopes of a clash with fellow Briton Tyson Fury, the WBC belt holder, on hold.

However, Joshua said he would use the setback as a catalyst to further success.

“Because you don’t hear from me, I may not be effing and blinding on Instagram stories and stuff like that, it doesn’t mean that I stomach losses,” he said.

“We’ve had some awkward conversations in the camp. It hurts, especially when you’ve got a winner’s mentality.

“I know from experience and track record, my mind-set and my evaluation of losses and how I use them, it can catapult me to the next level.”

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Ighalo may make Super Eagles return

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President of the NFF Amaju Pinnick has hinted  that  Al Shabab of Saudi Arabia forward Odion Ighalo may  stage a return to the Super Eagles as they approach the crucial stage of the World Cup qualifiers, reports OwnGoalNigeria,com

Ighalo announced his retirement from international football after finishing as top scorer at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, where Nigeria emerged as second runners up by beating Tunisia in the third place match.

Despite the presence of a host of young forwards who are doing well like Victor Osimhen, Paul Onuachu, Terem Moffi, Taiwo Awoniyi and Sadiq Umar, Pinnick said the talks over the return of Ighalo to the team is needed as his experience could be decisive in the final stage of the World Cup qualifiers.

“I had a long conversation with Ighalo, personally I believe we need experience in our attack to combine with the energetically youthful Osimhen, Onuachu, Kelechi et al. Ighalo body language is very positive. We are also in touch with his agent and club,” Pinnick reportedly said.

In a related development, Pinnick also claimed recuperating Wilfred Ndidi will be fit for the Super Eagles’  final round of World Cup Qualifiers games against Liberia and Cape Verde respectively,

Ndidi has been out injured since the start of the month, missing the Super Eagles back to back games against Central Africa Republic (CAR) and he was also expected to miss the remaining games of the qualifiers.

He was expected to return back to training after the international break but according to Pinnick he will resume training next week and hopefully play against Arsenal in their next game as he is well ahead of schedule on his return from injury.

Pinnick made this known in a post on his social media account after a visit to the midfielder where he also met with his Leicester City teammate Kelechi Iheanacho.

“I spent quality time with Wilfred Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho in Leicester over the weekend. I went with my wife and three of my kids who are on half term break. Our visit was a mere family visit and not official, ” he posted.

“Recall Wilfred is recuperating from an injury that has kept him out for about five weeks, being a very key player for the Super Eagles we cannot afford to toy with our last two games. Ndidi has been integral, committed and passionate player of the Super Eagles.

“The good news is that his second scan came out very good and he has started training with his club and possibly play in their next game”.

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