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Thibaut Courtois talk tough title chances ahead of crunch Manchester United clash

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Courtois

Thibaut Courtois admits it is now a simple equation for Chelsea .

Beat Manchester United on Sunday and stay in the title race. Lose at Stamford Bridge to his former boss Jose Mourinho and kiss it goodbye.

Credit to the big Belgian keeper . His saves from Stephan El Sharaawy and substitute Kostas Manolas stopped that nightmare Roman conquest on Tuesday night from turning into an annihilation.

Now he will be hoping for more protection at the weekend when Romelu Lukaku, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial roll into town. Chelsea’s chances of catching the Manchester clubs depends on it.

“City are nine points ahead of us, United four, Tottenham just one.” he said. “So if you want,this game is a must-win game to remain at the top and remain close to the other teams.

“We will try to get the three points at home and we will give our lives for it on Sunday.”

Courtois stood up to be counted after the Rome disappointment, addressing head on the questions as to what has gone so badly wrong for the Premier League champions.

Courtois believes injuries and an increased workload are catching up with the the players that cruised to Premier League success last season.

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N’Golo Kante has been out for three weeks, Victor Moses remains on the sidelines. Danny Drinkwater, signed from Leicester in August, was injured until last month. Eden Hazard had ankle surgery during the summer.

Alvaro Morata and Pedro have also had setbacks during the first two months of the campaign. Gary Cahill has been suspended. Bakayoko is still adapting to the Premier League. So too Antonio Rudiger.

Antonio Conte decided against risking Kante – despite the dynamism and protection he gives to the Chelsea defence – with United such a crucial contest on Sunday.

Courtois remains convinced that the approach from Conte is the right one for the long term.
“N’Golo Kante was important for us and brings a lot of balance into the team.” he said. “But you cannot push him if he does not feel ready.

“Danny Drinkwater was out a long time as well so Cesc Fabregas and Tiemoue Bakayoko played a lot of games and that impacts on their legs.

“So it’s harder for them to keep up the pressure, especially against the three midfielders as Roma played with.”

The question was still – legitimately – raised during Tuesday’s post-mortem as to why Nemanja Matic was sold, to United in particular.

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But Courtois suggested the Serbian midfielder had had his heart set on a reunion with Mourinho anyway.

Matic may have been just what Chelsea cried out for at the heart of their midfield in Rome. Yet in the wider context he is understood to have preferred a first-team role at Old Trafford instead of third choice – behind Bakayoko and Kante – at the Bridge.

Courtois went on: “If a player nowadays wants to go to a team, then he has – I don’t want to say the power – but if he has a strong will to leave and join another team then it is hard for the club.

“You cannot just ignore him and say ‘you cannot leave’ because then you have a disappointed player who won’t play at his best.

“So obviously for us you give a player to another big team, but they are choices that are made in football and we have some quality midfielders.

“So I hope we can show on Sunday that we are better.”

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FIFA President, Infantino tests positive for COVID-19

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FIFA Chief, Gianni Infantino has contracted coronavirus popularly known as COVID-19,  the world’s football governing body announced on Tuesday.

According to the information scooped from AFP, the 50-year-old has mild symptoms and will remain in isolation for a further 10 days.

“All people who came into contact with the FIFA President during the last few days have been informed accordingly and they are being requested to take the necessary steps,” the body said.

“FIFA sincerely wishes President Infantino a speedy recovery,” it added.

Infantino’s last public appearances was at FIFA’s Compliance Summit which ended on October 16 when all attendees were present via video.

Cases, hospitalisations and deaths from Covid-19 in the body’s base, Switzerland, have doubled from one week to the next throughout October.

The country’s government is expected to decide Wednesday on new measures to control the spread of the virus.

The spread of the illness has cast doubt over Wednesday’s potential meeting between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in the Champions League after the Juventus attacker tested positive for the illness earlier this month.

 

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Barcelona: Real reason for Messi’s u-turn

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Lionel Messi said on Friday he will stay at Barcelona, insisting he could never go to court against “the club of his life”.But he launched a stinging attack on Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu, accusing him of going back on an agreement to let him leave for free at the end of last season.

“The president always said that at the end of the season I could decide if I wanted to go or if I wanted to stay and in the end he didn’t end up keeping his word,” Messi said in an interview with Goal, released on Friday.

“I thought and we were sure that I was free. The president always said that at the end of the season I could decide if I stayed or not and now they hold on to the fact that I did not say it before June 10 when it turns out that on June 10 we were competing for the league in the middle of this shitty virus and this disease that altered all the dates.”

Messi, 33, added: “And this is the reason why I am going to continue in the club… because the president told me that the only way to leave was to pay the 700-million-euro release clause.

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“This is impossible, and then the other way was to go to trial. I would never go to court against Barca because it is the club that I love, that gave me everything since I arrived, it is the club of my life, I have made my life here.”

Messi had said he wanted to leave the club he joined as a boy after Barcelona’s humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals in August.

His lawyers sent a burofax stating his intention to go for free on August 25 but Messi says he had made his feelings clear to Bartomeu many times before.

“I told the club, especially the president, that I wanted to go,” said Messi. “I’ve been telling him all year. I believed it was time to step aside.

‘Everything became difficult’

“I believed that the club needed more young people, new people and I thought my time in Barcelona was over, feeling very sorry because I always said that I wanted to finish my career here.

“It was a very difficult year, I suffered a lot in training, in games and in the dressing room. Everything became very difficult for me and there came a time when I considered looking for new goals, new horizons.

“It wasn’t because of the Champions League result against Bayern, I had been thinking about it for a long time. I told the president and the president always said that at the end of the season I could decide if I wanted to go or if I wanted to stay and in the end he did not end up keeping his word.”

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Despite his unhappiness, Messi insists he will give his all for Barcelona next season under their new coach Ronald Koeman, with his current contract due to expire in June next year.

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Messi set to quit Barcelona

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Lionel Messi has informed Barcelona that he wants to “unilaterally” terminate his contract with the Spanish giants, a club source confirmed to AFP on Tuesday.

Lawyers for the Argentina star sent Barca a fax in which they announced Messi’s desire to rescind his contract by triggering a release clause.

However, the club maintains the clause expired in June and he remains under contract until the end of the 2021 season.

“In principial, this clause expired on June 10, but the unusual nature of this season disrupted by the coronavirus opened the way for Messi to ask to be released from his contract now,” wrote Spanish sports daily Marca.

“It’s the first step towards opening negotiations over his departure, on the basis of which his release clause amounts to 700 million euros.”

According to Spanish media, Messi met with new Barca coach Ronald Koeman last week and told the Dutchman he saw himself “more out than in” the club.

“The end of the glorious era of Leo Messi at Barcelona seems to be close. After the arrival of Ronald Koeman, what looks like the exit of his friend Luis Suarez and a difficult and turbulent end to the season, Messi told Barcelona in a fax of his intention to leave the club,” said Once radio station.

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Barcelona suffered a humiliating 8-2 defeat by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals in Lisbon earlier this month, resulting in the dismissal of coach Quique Setien after barely six months in charge.

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