Massimiliano Allegri names the 5 favourites to win the Champions League

Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri has named the five teams he thinks are frontrunners to win this season’s Champions League – though does not believe his own side are among the favourites.

The Bianconeri are assured of their place in the knockout stages of the competition, though are relying on Chelsea dropping points away to Zenit on Wednesday to stand any chance of qualifying as group winners.

It’s been a difficult season domestically for Juve, who sit fifth in the Serie A table and are 11 points behind league leaders Milan. And ahead of their European clash at home to Malmo, Allegri addressed concerns over his side’s form and what they need to do to go far in the Champions League.

“We are a little more organised on the pitch, but it’s not certain that we will use the same formation from the last few matches throughout the season. For example: tomorrow we have players available to play out on the wings,” he said, via Juve’s official website.

“The important thing is to approach the game well, to express ourselves, to play a good game and win. We’re behind in the league and the top four are moving very fast. We have to keep winning, step by step, then we’ll see.

“Winning is important, because when you win games you are more satisfied and you work with greater serenity.”

Allegri then revealed who he thinks the top sides left in the competition are, adding: “I think the favourites for this edition of the Champions League are: Liverpool, Bayern, Manchester City, Real [Madrid] and PSG.

“We have to create the conditions to do better than in the last two years in the Champions League. We have to get into the last 16 in good condition and then another tournament begins. On Monday we’ll see who we draw and you also need some luck to go your way.”

Karim Adeyemi eyeing Bundesliga move – but RB Leipzig switch unlikely

Highly-rated RB Salzburg striker Karim Adeyemi is pushing to move back to Germany in 2022 – but 90min understands that a move to RB Leipzig is unlikely.

The 19-year-old has seen his reputation soar over the past 12 months, with 15 goals in 23 appearances across all competitions during 2021/22 – including four in the Champions League – evidence of his rapid progress.

90min revealed in October that Red Bull’s hierarchy were hoping the teenager would consider a transfer to the Bundesliga, where he’d stay within their network at Leipzig.

Adeyemi was initially considering the move – as he’d prefer to move back to his homeland – but his interest in joining Leipzig was subject to their progress under head coach Jesse Marsch, who left Salzburg in the summer to succeed Julian Nagelsmann.

Unfortunately, results in the Bundesliga and in Europe have been indifferent to say the least – so much so that Marsch was relieved of his duties on Sunday, with the club marooned in mid-table and significantly off the pace set by usual frontrunners Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

With Leipzig likely out of the picture, Bayern and Dortmund are now at the head of the queue to secure Adeyemi’s signature – though it’s understood that the latter’s ability to offer more regular first-team football could sway a deal in their direction, particularly if Erling Haaland departs in 2022 as expected.

There remains strong interest in Adeyemi from outside of Germany, too, with Paris Saint Germain, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Inter, Manchester City and Liverpool all understood to be monitoring his situation.

There could even be late interest from Manchester United, as interim manager Ralf Rangnick knows Adeyemi very well from his time as Red Bull’s sporting director.

However, sources close to the situation have told 90min that the expectation is that Adeyemi will prioritise a move back to Germany, having left in 2018 to head to Austria.

To prize him away from Salzburg, though, Bayern and Dortmund – or any other interested party – may need to fork out upwards of £30m, which seems feasible considering he’s already been rewarded for his goalscoring form with a full international debut for Germany.

Zenit vs Chelsea: TV channel, live stream, team news & prediction

Chelsea will be relieved to turn their attention away from the Premier League when they travel to Zenit for the final Champions League group stage game of the season.

Having underwhelmed domestically in recent weeks, Chelsea’s focus will now be on securing top spot in Group H. Thomas Tuchel’s men are already through but must match Juventus’ result against bottom side Malmo if they want to finish on top.

Here’s all you need to know about the game.

When is kick off? Wednesday 7 December, 17:45 (GMT)
Where is the match being played? Gazprom Arena
TV channel/live stream? BT Sport 3 (UK), Paramount+ (US)
Highlights? BT Sport YouTube channel
Referee? Serdar Gözübüyük
VAR? Jochem Kamphuis

Dmitri ChistyakovDmitri Chistyakov

Dmitri Chistyakov is out / Marco Canoniero/GettyImages

Sergei Semak doesn’t have too many issues to worry about. The only fitness issue is with goalkeeper Stanislav Kritsyuk, who remains sidelined with a foot injury.

Centre-back Dmitri Chistyakov is also suspended, which will likely force the boss to shift to a four-man defence rather than his preferred three-at-the-back setup.

JorginhoJorginho

Jorginho will miss out / Sebastian Frej/MB Media/GettyImages

Unlike Zenit, Chelsea have a whole host of issues to deal with. Tuchel has confirmed that Ben Chilwell, Trevoh Chalobah, N’Golo Kante and Jorginho are all injured, while Mateo Kovacic has tested positive for Covid-19 just hours after returning from a hamstring injury.

Kai Havertz has been training after shaking off the injury he picked up against West Ham, while left-back Marcos Alonso is also expected to be fit.

You can read Chelsea’s predicted lineup here.

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The meeting between these two earlier in the season was actually the first time they have ever faced off, with Romelu Lukaku’s second-half header enough to hand Chelsea the three points.

The Blues were in Russia last season, when Frank Lampard’s men romped to an emphatic 4-0 win over Krasnodar, but they do not have a perfect record when it comes to travelling to that part of the world.

Back in April 2013, reigning European champions Chelsea went to Rubin Kazan and fell 3-2 in the Europa League quarter-finals, with a strong side only avoiding elimination thanks to their 3-1 victory in the home leg the week before.

Mason Mount, Reece JamesMason Mount, Reece James

Chelsea should have enough about them / Alex Pantling/GettyImages

Chelsea haven’t been great over the past few weeks, but they haven’t been bad either. Individual errors have proven incredibly costly and Tuchel has been working tirelessly to eradicate it.

He’ll expect a result here against a Zenit side who are already out of the competition and, barring a 12-goal swing in Malmo’s favour, are already preparing for another shot at Europa League glory.

Injuries will disrupt Chelsea’s fluidity, but they should have enough about them to get the result they need here.

Prediction: Zenit 0-2 Chelsea

NJ/NY Gotham acquire Orlando Pride duo Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris

NJ/NY Gotham FC acquired defender Ali Krieger and goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris from the Orlando Pride in exchange for a 2022 NWSL Draft first-round selection, a 2023 NWSL Draft natural third-round pick and $50,000 in Allocation Money. 

“We have great gratitude for Ashlyn and Ali, two players who have been so ingrained in our club and community, so this was an extremely difficult decision,” Pride General Manager Ian Fleming said in a club press release.

“However, we believe this will be in the long-term best interest of Ashlyn, Ali, and the Pride. We wish them nothing but the best in their new opportunity with Gotham FC. Each decision we make is not done in a vacuum, and with these acquired assets we will continue to work hard to develop our roster to best position this club for success and bring a championship to Orlando.”

Harris leaves the Pride as the Club’s all-time appearance leader, recording 89 games across all competitions during her six-year tenure. She was selected as the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NWSL Expansion Draft, standing as one of the organization’s first players. 

She also served as team captain during the 2017 season. 

Krieger first joined the Pride in 2017, recording 86 total appearances since signing. She served as the team’s co-captain since 2019, earning NWSL Team of the Month honors four times and NWSL’s Best XI in both 2017 and 2019. 

“On behalf of the club and the Orlando community, we want to thank Ashlyn and Ali for their dedication and leadership at the Pride over the last six years,” Orlando Pride Owner and Chairman Mark Wilf said in the press release. 

“They both have been great ambassadors for our organization as well as great players. We wish them the best of luck on this next chapter of their careers. As we move forward, we continue to be very optimistic about the future as we build the Pride toward long-term success on the field.”

Denis Zakaria attracting Premier League interest

Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Denis Zakaria is attracting plenty of interest from the Premier League, with Everton and Leicester joining long-term admirers Arsenal in scouting the Swiss international.

Zakaria’s contract is up at the end of the season and he is not interested in signing an extension. He is ready to end his four-year association with Gladbach and his agents have been fielding offers from all across the globe.

Arsenal have been chasing Zakaria for a while now – 90min revealed their interest last summer – but sources have confirmed that they are not the only English side keeping tabs on the 25-year-old.

90min understands that both Everton and Leicester have lodged their interest with Zakaria’s representatives, with both sides keen to take advantage of the chance to sign a valuable player for free in the summer.

Zakaria’s agents have also been offering the Swiss international around Europe in an attempt to drum up more interest, as is the case with almost every player as they approach the end of their contract.

Numerous clubs have voiced a desire to take Zakaria on and he is expected to field no shortage of offers when the January transfer window opens and he is free to speak to overseas sides.

Primarily a defensive midfielder, Zakaria is also comfortable as a centre-back and many suitors have identified his versatility as a key reason behind their interest.

Gladbach have made numerous efforts to keep Zakaria around but have been knocked back each time, and their domestic struggles this season have not helped their case. Adi Hutter’s side are down in 13th in the Bundesliga, closer to the relegation zone than the top four, and were recently humiliated as they shipped six goals inside 37 minutes to top-four hopefuls Freiburg.

They are already braced for Zakaria’s departure and are also fearing the worst over centre-back Matthias Ginter, who is also out of contract in the summer.

Ginter was recently offered fresh terms but the 27-year-old was less than impressed with the proposal. Like Zakaria, he will be free to talk to overseas sides in January.