Liverpool seek more silverware as Lampard eyes Super Cup boost

Chelsea players during a training session at the Vodafone Park Stadium in Istanbul on Tuesday. (AP)
Updated 13 August 2019

Liverpool seek more silverware as Lampard eyes Super Cup boost

  • Reds hope the match can be prelude to their side finally going all the way in the Premier League

ISTANBUL: Jurgen Klopp wants Liverpool to make winning trophies a habit as they head back to Istanbul —  the scene of one of the club’s greatest triumphs — to take on Premier League rivals Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday.

The Anfield club memorably defeated AC Milan on penalties to win the Champions League by the Bosphorus back in 2005, and now they face Chelsea in the Turkish city after becoming European champions for the sixth time in June.

The traditional curtain-raiser to the European season may not be taken entirely seriously by everyone, but neither club will turn their noses up at the chance of lifting more silverware, with Liverpool having just ended a seven-year trophy drought and Frank Lampard eager to kick-start his Chelsea managerial career.

The clubs have already won the competition four times between them, but nine of the last 10 winners of the Super Cup have come from Spain.

Among the other protagonists on Wednesday will be Stephanie Frappart, with the French official becoming the first woman to referee a major men’s match in European competition.

Frappart will nevertheless be happy to stay out of the limelight once the match at the Vodafone Park, home of Besiktas, kicks off, with Liverpool favorites against a Chelsea side reeling from their 4-0 defeat at Manchester United in their Premier League opener.

After losing on penalties to Manchester City in the Community Shield, Liverpool began their league campaign with a comfortable 4-1 win over Norwich City with Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk and Divock Origi all scoring.

However, that result was somewhat overshadowed by the loss of Alisson Becker, with Klopp confirming the formidable Brazil goalkeeper will be out for a while with a calf injury.

“I don’t want to make now (an) exact prognosis on when he will be back but it will not be Wednesday for sure, so now then we have to see. It takes a while, it takes a couple weeks for sure, and we have to see,” he told the club’s website.

Spaniard Adrian will deputize in Alisson’s absence, and Klopp is hopeful his team can build on their win over Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League final in Madrid.

“Stay greedy. That’s very important — I have no doubt about that, but it’s clear that we have to do that,” Klopp told UEFA.com when asked how his side could build on that success.

Reds fans will also be tempted by the possibility of a third successive Champions League final appearance, back in Istanbul at the end of the campaign.

Equally, they will hope the Super Cup can be the prelude to their side finally going all the way in the Premier League.

“We don’t want to just stop at the Champions League, that’s all we’ve won as a group of players,” Andy Robertson told the club’s website.

“We want more but we know how hard that’s going to be. This is our next opportunity to do so and it’d be great if we can take it.”

Chelsea secured their place in this fixture thanks to their comprehensive victory over Arsenal in the Europa League final, but much has changed since then.

Coach Maurizio Sarri and star player Eden Hazard have left, and club legend Lampard is now in charge, handed the reins at Stamford Bridge despite just one season’s managerial experience in the second tier with Derby County.

The prospect of winning a trophy in just his second competitive match with the London club will be an enticing one, although they could be forgiven for coming into this match with a sense of trepidation after their hammering at Old Trafford.

It will be interesting to see if Lampard keeps faith with the likes of youngsters Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham here.

“We know that we can improve. We have to face it, take the responsibility and move forward. We have a trophy to fight for on Wednesday against a good team and we have to be ready for it,” Cesar Azpilicueta said after Sunday’s defeat.


Juventus coach Sarri: Cristiano is in another class

Updated 20 January 2020

Juventus coach Sarri: Cristiano is in another class

  • The 38-year-old is the only player to have scored at least league 15 goals in each of the last 14 seasons

MILAN: Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to form has coincided with Juventus taking a firm grip on Serie A.

Ronaldo did not score at all in November, but he scored twice as Juventus beat Parma 2-1 on Sunday to take his tally to 11 in his last seven league matches.

The win also put Juventus on course for a record-extending ninth straight Serie A title as the Bianconeri moved four points above Inter Milan. They were two points behind the Nerazzurri a month and a half ago.

Ronaldo has struggled with injury this season and missed three Serie A matches, playing through pain in others.

The 38-year-old Portugal forward has nevertheless scored 16 goals in 17 matches, becoming the first Juventus player to have that many goals after 20 matches since Omar Sivori in 1960.

Ronaldo is also the only player to have scored at least 15 goals in one of Europe’s top five leagues in each of the last 14 seasons.

“Cristiano is in another class,” Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri said. “Sometimes he poses you a little bit of a problem but he will solve 100 others for you.”

While Juventus managed to grind out results in November when Ronaldo wasn’t scoring, Inter struggle when their top scorers are not on form.

There have been three matches since December where neither Romelu Lukaku nor Lautaro Martínez have managed to find the back of the net. All three ended in draws.

The latest was a surprise 1-1 result at relegation-threatened Lecce on Sunday.

That is also down to a general drop in pace in the team as, prior to that, Inter had managed to win the previous four matches where Lukaku and Martínez didn’t score.

“The final result stems from the fact that we’re a team that needs to go at 200 kph. We cannot afford to be off the pace,” Inter coach Antonio Conte said. “It’s evident that if we go at an average pace, if we go into cruise speed, we become a normal team and aren’t able to get a result.”

Substitute

Mario Balotelli’s match lasted only seven minutes on Sunday and he could now find himself with even less playing time in the coming weeks.

Balotelli came on as a substitute in the 74th minute of Brescia’s 2-2 draw against Cagliari but shortly afterward was shown a yellow card for a high tackle and then immediately shown a second after repeatedly swearing at the referee.

Depending on what referee Antonio Giua writes in his report, Balotelli could be suspended for several matches.

The forward will certainly miss Brescia’s next match, against former team AC Milan.

“I think the yellow card was too harsh. Mario didn’t feel it was right, and his protests didn’t seem excessive to me,” Brescia coach Eugenio Corini said. “It’s a pity because he came on with the desire to make us win the match.”

Balotelli was banned for the first four matches of the Serie A season following a red card in his last match with Marseille last season.

“It’s incredible how one episode can always drastically change from too negative or too positive everyone’s opinion on the character or professionalism of a person,” Balotelli wrote on his Instagram story after the match. “I will continue with my daily work this time, too. It’s not a problem. You can continue to judge me as you wish.”