Why are EPL teams making such a big statement in the UEFA Champions League this season?

By March 13, 2019
Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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  • France winger Coman ruled out of Iceland clash France winger Coman ruled out of Iceland clash

    Kingsley Coman has been ruled out of France's Euro 2020 qualifier against Iceland due to back pain, Didier Deschamps has confirmed.

    Bayern Munich winger Coman will return to his club as he is not fit to take part in Monday's Group E game at the Stade de France.

    Coman had been set to start the opening match of France's qualifying campaign against Moldova but was injured in the warm-up.

    The 22-year-old's career has been regularly affected by injury and he missed three months of action for Bayern after damaging ankle ligaments on the first weekend of the Bundesliga season.

    Deschamps told a news conference no replacement would be called up for Coman, with Blaise Matuidi having taken his place in the side for a 4-1 win in Moldova.

    World champions France are already without left-back Lucas Digne after he returned to Everton having sustained a thigh injury.

  • He's happy in Madrid – Umtiti not expecting Griezmann reunion at Barcelona He's happy in Madrid – Umtiti not expecting Griezmann reunion at Barcelona

    Barcelona and France centre-back Samuel Umtiti is not expecting his international colleague Antoine Griezmann to join him at Camp Nou, adamant he is happy at Atletico Madrid.

    Griezmann was heavily linked with a move to Barca last year, before committing his future to Atletico in June in a documentary-style video.

    Despite Griezmann ultimately rejecting Barca's pursuit in that saga, the speculation has resurfaced in recent weeks, suggesting the Catalans will go for him again at the end of the season.

    Umtiti knows Griezmann well, having played alongside him at international level for several years, and he is convinced the forward is content where he is, suggesting the 28-year-old could come to regret leaving if he makes that decision.

    "I know Antoine is very happy in Madrid, it's going well for him," Umtiti told TF1.

    "It's a team that plays for him, and after that, in a career there are choices that we can take and that we can regret.

    "I know he feels good there, but he could play in any club around the world because of his qualities, whether in Barcelona or elsewhere. He'd be happy and successful."

    Both Griezmann and Umtiti were key members of the France squad which won the World Cup last year, but the Barca defender has paid for that success physically.

    Recurring knee injuries – which he first suffered just before the tournament – have limited him to just nine LaLiga appearances this season, and he puts that down to pushing himself to be fit to play in Russia.

    "I took a risk at the World Cup," he added. "I absolutely wanted to play it because it is only played every four years and we do not necessarily play it many times in a career.

    "It was a dream that I realised, so I pushed a little on my knee and it has complicated things for this season, but I don't regret it.

    "Now my knee is ready, ready to play, but the coach has his choices to make. I feel good, I'm trying to get back to the rhythm after several months of inactivity.

    "It's a bit complicated, but it's with training and matches that I'm going to find the pace and feel good. I have good feelings and I feel better and better after each match matches."

    Both players are away on international duty with France, who will face Iceland on Monday.

  • Sterling has been the best in the Premier League, says Maguire Sterling has been the best in the Premier League, says Maguire

    Harry Maguire has declared Raheem Sterling to be the best player in the Premier League this season and wants England fans to "cherish" the in-form Manchester City winger.  

    Sterling was the star turn for England against the Czech Republic on Friday, grabbing a hat-trick in a 5-0 triumph just two weeks after scoring all of City's goals in a 3-1 win over Watford. 

    The 24-year-old has earned praise from Leicester City defender and international team-mate Maguire, who revealed Sterling received his vote for the PFA Players' Player of the Year award. 

    "I think he's been the best player in the Premier League," Maguire told the media. "He's scoring goals, creating goals and he's a nightmare to play against. 

    "He's taken his game from last year, where people saw the rise of Raheem, to this season where he has gone on to another level. 

    "It's harsh in terms of the [PFA] voting in that at this stage you don't know who’s going to win the Premier League. But I went with Raheem. 

    "It's an exciting time for the country to have him and we should cherish him and look after him while he's playing at such a high level. 

    "Personally, I want to see him scoring goals week in, week out, and especially against teams around us, not against us!"

    England play Montenegro on Monday in another Euro 2020 qualifier and Maguire has high hopes for achieving success at the tournament after reaching the last four at the 2018 World Cup.

    "At the next tournament we'll want to go further," Maguire said. "I think we are the only semi-finalists of the World Cup teams to get through to the Nations League finals, so that shows the progress we are making.

    "There were comments after the World Cup that we didn't beat any of the top, world-class teams, so it was nice to be put in a group with teams like Croatia and Spain – arguably the most difficult one of all – and come out on top.

    "The improvement we've shown since Gareth has come in, and the style of football we're playing, it feels like everyone's excited to watch us.

    "But the main thing is winning games. We've got the summer to look forward to when we can win a trophy."

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