Luka Modric backs Mateo Kovacic to replace him as Croatia's key man

Modric, who made his country debut in 2006, has 150 caps and is expected to play at this year's World Cup in Qatar, which begins in November. (Author: Gardener)

Luka ModricLuka Modric reportedly believes that Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic could be the player who could take the mantle of Croatia's leading player when he retires from the international stage. Modric, who made his country debut in 2006, has 150 caps and is expected to play at this year's World Cup in Qatar, which begins in November. Luka Modric has been a standout player for Croatia since his debut 16 years ago. Facing the question of who could possibly replace him as Croatia's key player, Modric Kovacic suggested the team should be pushed further. "I think Mateo Kovacic could be my heir, at least he is the most talented player." he said to Marca. “He has played in important clubs like Inter and Real Madrid. Surely he can lead Croatia in the future.” Mateo Kovacic has established himself as an important part of Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea team. Modric believes Kovacic could be the player who could lead Croatia if he retires from the national team. Kovacic himself has made 75 appearances for the national team but has largely been in Modric's shadow over the years, both for Croatia and at club level when the two played together at Real Madrid. Now Modric feels ready to take on more responsibility which could see Kovacic take the captaincy for years to come. Before that, the duo are likely to face each other for what may be their last time in a global tournament later this year as Croatia look to be even better than four years ago when they beat the 2018 World Cup finalists. Continue reading


Jonas Eidevall on how faith and adversity behind Arsenal women's WSL lead ahead of Chelsea clash

Arsenal, leaders of the Women's Super League, meet reigning champions Chelsea live on Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Main Event on Friday night (Author: Gardener)

ChelseaAs Jonas Eidevall prepares to guide Women's Super League leaders Arsenal to second-placed Chelsea, the head coach places little emphasis on the table, instead focusing on his players' faith, development and ability to overcome adversity . Arsenal travel to Chelsea with a two-point advantage at the top on Friday to secure a double against the reigning champions after sensationally starting their title quest with a 3-2 win at the Emirates in the season opener. Although Eidevall and his team are convinced they will face Emma Hayes' Blues again, the Swede insists the idea of ​​calling the second leg a 'title decider' is premature. In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports, Eidevall said: "It fills us with a lot of conviction to go into Friday knowing that if we get to our level anything is possible." It's the most important game because it's the next one . It's three points in this game, like any other in the league. "We will give everything for it and in the end we will see how much it is worth to win the game on Friday. After replacing Joe Montemurro as head coach last summer, Eidevall has spent this season conveying his playing identity and "looks forward" to developing the team over time as he warned his side are yet to peak has. "We've played 25 games so far this season. We've played 19 different central defender combinations in those 25 games. This isn't a time to build relationships," he said , get much better when we start practicing together and tweaking those relationships and those roles and responsibilities It's so important to us that we don't think we're the finished product or a product that can't evolve anymore , just because we're halfway through this season." I think we have a mentality that never gives up - we always try to make the best of every situation, which is very important." faith. Faith creates success." Faith in the way we play, belief in the way we should behave, and that has to be the starting point." I'm looking forward to that on." A first goal for Arsenal new signing Stina Blackstenius salvaged a point against Manchester United last time out, while Chelsea - who are a game clear of leaders - come into play after beating Manchester City. Eidevall spends a lot of time studying the strengths and weaknesses of Friday's opponents but says he will pay "very little" attention to the performances and results of his title rivals for the remainder of the season. "Right now I'm spending a lot of time trying to understand Chelsea, what they're good at and what their weaknesses are and so on," he added. "Unless we're playing Chelsea, very little." "I'm a big fan of spending a lot of time on things you can control that will affect your own performances. "If you want to survive as a head coach you have to be positive. You may have to see pressure as a necessity in order to perform. It makes me feel very alive and I'm looking forward to Friday."


Emma Hayes on Chelsea Women's development and 'enjoying' catching up against Arsenal

Watch Chelsea Women vs Arsenal Women in the WSL title fight on Friday from 7pm on Sky Sports Football and Sky Sports Premier League; Kick-off at 7:45 p.m (Author: Gardener)

Emma HayesEmma Hayes says Chelsea Women are enjoying chasing Arsenal ahead of their title showdown on Friday with her side at a "different stage of evolution". The Blues aren't where they'd like to be - at the top of the Women's Super League, which they've won the last two seasons - but that could change when Sky Sports cameras travel to Kingsmeadow for a title this Friday -Showdown with the leaders Arsenal, who are two points and one place above them in the table. Ask Hayes if there's any vengeance in her squad and she'll make short work of it. Or a sense of poetry when they finally top the table for the first time this season, beating the very side that have forced them to catch up since losing in September. Really, nobody knows what it takes to win in the English game better than the 45-year-old. She openly admits Friday's game as "must be won" or "must not be lost" would just put pressure on their dressing room that they could do without. But is less reticent about how it has helped them bounce back from that early disappointment and stay on Arsenal's coat tails in the second half of the season. "My job is to put this team in a position to perform on Friday, they are already doing very well," she told Sky Sports. “If we want to get through this period, we need to keep finding goals from across the squad. That's been a big focus of ours since the Christmas season and with back-to-back goals conceded I think we're in a good place. But what I've found is that in recent times we've been able to play with some of our top players who have performed for Chelsea over the years. And not only have we grounded results, but I think we're finding a new level for our game. "We play well, we defend well, we score goals from different positions on the pitch. I think we've found something different for ourselves that reminds me that we're at a different stage in our development, our team is moving forward to another place." Chelsea are certainly playing well, despite losing a few points to Reading and Brighton around Christmas and dropping out of the Champions League to Wolfsburg. Seven clean sheets in WSL's last eight games have kept the defense tight, but that focus on sharing the attacking load is paying off. Five players scored three or more goals for the Blues in last season's WSL and Chelsea have matched that tally this time with ten games left. In the club's last six WSL games alone, seven different goalscorers have scored. However, Chelsea have also found ways to win ugly. Last weekend's 1-0 win over Man City, who had beaten Arsenal in the previous game, was the result of both guts and style. This mentality Hayes also admires in Jonas Eidevalls Gunners and could dominate what Hayes expects to be an "emotional" London derby. She says: "I've always said that London derbies are very different from other games. I don't know what to expect on Friday but I know you're going to see two fantastic teams.” It's the same Any game where there's rivalry plays on emotions than any other game. Coaches would prefer less emotion in the game but I know Arsenal are a side that have led at the top all season and I know they will do whatever it takes to stick to that. With that in mind, Hayes claims, publicly at least, that there's no added spice to Friday's game after the opening-day loss. Last season they overtook Manchester City with 11 games to go and retained the top spot all season. If they win on Friday they will overtake Arsenal for the first time - and have nine to hold this time. "We're coming from a chasing position, which we really enjoy," says Hayes. "Ask someone who is being hunted how it feels and it's a completely different feeling to be the leader or to be in a second position. "If you're chasing someone, you've got to find something else. So you know if Arsenal win every game this season they will be league champions. So we know that and for us we just have to focus on putting as much pressure on them as possible. "The team have great experience in this position. I think it showed on Sunday, that experience, the ability to deliver the result, to deliver the performance, whatever the circumstances. I think that's what Chelsea really, did really well." through the years. But I still have a feeling there will be more twists and turns in the season. By the time the WSL trophy is presented in May, most likely to either Kingsmeadow or Meadow Park, Hayes will already have been awarded a personal title in the form of an OBE, given to her in New Year's honors. At the time of the announcement, the Chelsea manager wondered if there had been a mistake. "I've already had some amazing experiences in my life and I don't know how many more I'll have," she says. "What I achieved during my time at Chelsea will be really difficult to surpass in the rest of my life." Watch Chelsea Women vs Arsenal Women in WSL on Friday from 7pm on Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Football; Kick-off 7:45 p.m. Stream the game with a NOW Pass or follow it live on all Sky Sports digital platforms with our dedicated live blog.


Jorginho gives an inside look at Palmeiras' final stages of the Club World Cup

Chelsea meet Brazilian club Palmeiras in the final of the Club World Cup at the weekend and midfielder Jorginho knows just how much the title means to South American teams (Author: Gardener)

JorginhoChelsea meet Brazilian club Palmeiras in the final of the Club World Cup at the weekend and midfielder Jorginho knows just how much the title means to South American teams and how difficult it will be. Born in Brazil, Italy international Jorginho knows that South American teams are keen to win the Club World Cup. Chelsea meet Palmeiras in Saturday's final and the Brazilian giants are expected to bring 15,000 fans to Abu Dhabi and create a hostile atmosphere. Jorginho enjoyed an incredible 2021 as he won the Champions League and Euros - but now he wants to complete the set by helping Chelsea to their first-ever Club World Cup title. Jorginho said: "Palmeiras will play for everything. That's very important for a team in Brazil. I think probably [they want to prove they are better than European teams]. Jorginho knows exactly how Chelsea's Club World Cup final opponents get heated up. "It's an opportunity for them to play against a team from Europe. "It's the same for us, but we will definitely give everything in this final and have to be prepared. "It's always good to be in a final. It's another trophy and it's important to us. It's important and we'll do everything we can to bring the trophy home.” Chelsea enjoyed incredible success during the Roman Abramovich era, winning the Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup, Europa League and Champions League . Will Chelsea win the Club World Cup? But they lost the 2012 Club World Cup final to Corinthians when they were the defending Champions League champions. Jorginho added: "It means a lot to me personally and I'm sure it means a lot to the club because we've never won this trophy and this is the right time to bring this trophy home. You have to be prepared, train well, sleep well, eat well, do everything as professionally as possible to arrive in the game and be able to win. “We want that, we like to do that. We don't like losing games and we want to bring this trophy home."


Club World Cup final prediction, kick-off time, tv, live stream, team news, h2h results

Chelsea are just one win away from a first Club World Cup title and are preparing to take on Brazilian side Palmeiras in this weekend's final. Chelsea vs Palmeiras is scheduled to kick-off at 16:30 GMT on Saturday 12 February 2022. (Author: Gardener)

h2hChelsea are just one win away from a first Club World Cup title and are preparing to take on Brazilian side Palmeiras in this weekend's final. The Blues lost in the final of their only previous Club World Cup appearance in 2012, beaten by another Brazilian team, Corinthians. Romelu Lukaku's goal proved crucial in Wednesday's semi-final win over Saudi club Al Hilal, while Palmeiras reached the final thanks to a 2-0 win over Al Ahly. Here's everything you need to know about the game... Chelsea vs Palmeiras is set to kick off on Saturday 12 February 2022 at 16:30 GMT. TV Channels: Tonight's game will be broadcast live on Channel 4 in the UK. Live Stream: Fans can follow the game online via All4. Thomas Tuchel's big selection headache comes in goal. No1 Edouard Mendy is available again after joining the squad after his Africa Cup of Nations triumph against Senegal, but KeptArrizabalaga has been in excellent form in his absence, including in Wednesday's semi-finals. Reece James has already been ruled out of the tournament despite traveling with the squad following a setback in his recovery, but Mason Mount could start after coming on as a substitute in the Al Hilal win. Chelsea know only too well the danger posed by South American sides in this competition, having lost the final to Corinthians a decade ago. This will be the first clash between the two teams ever.


Brazilian-born Jorginho warns Chelsea of ​​Palmeira's threat in the Club World Cup final

Brazilian-born Jorginho warns Chelsea of ​​Palmeira threat in Club World Cup final - (Author: Gardener)

JorginhoJorginho has given Chelsea a warning ahead of the Club World Cup final against Palmeiras. The Brazilian-born midfielder insists Saturday's opponents will be keen to claim the scalp of the European champions and elevate South American football to the top of the world. But Thomas Tuchel's side need to be much better here in Abu Dhabi against Brazilian giants Palmeiras if they want to complete the grand slam of international trophies. After winning the Champions League and European Super Cup, Tuchel has made no secret of his determination to deliver the one big trophy Roman Abramovich is yet to get his hands on. But it's a competition that has traditionally meant more to teams from South America and Jorginho gave an insight into its importance to Palmeiras. "They will play for everything," he said. “It's very important for a team in Brazil. "It's the same for us, but we will definitely give everything in this final and have to be prepared. “I think they probably want to prove that they are better than European teams. It's an opportunity for them to play against a team from Europe. You will come for us. Chelsea's elders have convinced the squad of the importance of being crowned world champions, with Cesar Azpilicueta and Thiago Silva having those encouraging conversations. Hakim Ziyech echoed those thoughts, saying: “I think it's one of the biggest trophies to win in terms of club. You know, you don't come here without winning the Champions League for us, for example. "That's how we see it and if you want to achieve such a big trophy or cup, you know what's coming. "You also know it's not for a lot of players to play that kind of trophy. When you're here like us, there's only one thing: you want to win it.” For Jorginho, it's the chance to cap an incredible nine months of European champions with club and country. It's another trophy and it's important to us. It's important and we'll do everything we can to bring the trophy home."


Preview: Chelsea Women vs Arsenal Women

Football Chelsea Women Preview Preview Chelsea Women vs Arsenal Women Prediction Team News Lineups 477642 (Author: Gardener)

Arguably the biggest game of the Women's Super League season so far comes on Friday night when leaders Arsenal Women travel to Kingsmeadow where they meet runners-up Chelsea Women. The Gunners are in danger of being overtaken by the Blues, who are currently two points behind Arsenal, meaning they move up to first place with three points for the hosts and still have a game to their advantage. Those two teams met on the opening day of the season in the Emirates, where Arsenal clinched all three points in a 3-2 win thanks to goals from Vivianne Miedema and a brace from Beth Mead. Chelsea will be looking to continue their triumphant run in all competitions and come into the game on form after a 1-0 win over Manchester City side, Guro Riding's early strike being enough to decide this close encounter in west London. The Blues have the best defensive record in the WSL this season, conceding just six goals in 12 games, three of which came against Arsenal on the opening day, suggesting the Gunners know what it takes to unsettle Chelsea's defence . Not only is Hayes' side unbeaten at home this season, they have a 100 percent record in their own patch in the WSL, winning six out of six, scoring 17 goals and conceding just once, which means maybe that the Blues are the favorites for the duel on Friday. Jonas Eidevall's side have given Chelsea a chance to put them at the top this week after clinching just a single point in last Saturday's 1-1 draw with Manchester United. Both sides created many chances in the encounter but the Gunners had to wait until the 79th minute for Stina Blackstenius to equalise, with the Sweden international scoring her first goal for the club. Like their hosts on Friday, Arsenal are unbeaten at home this season but they are struggling more outside of Meadow Park and need to do better against Chelsea to get back to winning ways away from home after clinching just one point in their last both away games. Eidevall's side will take confidence from their triumph in the second leg but their recent form suggests they could struggle to gain a foothold early enough in this game to prevent Chelsea from taking control after losing in recent weeks have fallen behind against both Manchester City and Man United. In contrast, Chelsea will know they can beat Arsenal, as they did in the FA Cup final in early December when goals from Fran Kirby and a brace from Samantha Kerr sealed a 3-0 win for Hayes' side. The Gunners' defeat on Friday will severely hamper their quest to lift the WSL trophy in May as they could fall four points behind Chelsea if the Blues win their game, which is played at the end of April. Blackstenius could get her first WSL start after equalizing last time out and getting into a front three that also included Miedema and Mead. Given their positions in the table, it's likely to be a hard-fought clash on Friday, with Arsenal likely to test Chelsea's defense that has been so strong this season. Chelsea will play a packed house at Kingsmeadow and home advantage could play a crucial role in the result as the Blues are just three points ahead.


Romelu Lukaku gets a shot at Chelsea's redemption ahead of Club World Cup final against Palmeiras

Romelu Lukaku's goal gave his side a 1-0 win over Al-Hilal in a tight Club World Cup semi-final at Abu Dhabi's Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium (Author: Gardener)

Club World CupIt was barely 1001 Nights, but Romelu Lukaku's five-game goal drought felt just as long at times. It was finally over on Wednesday night, however, as the Chelsea centre-forward 32nd minute gave his side a 1-0 win over Al-Hilal in a tight game at Abu Dhabi's Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium. Lukaku has received a lot of criticism lately, but he has been a constant threat for a team that pushed the Blues to the limit despite their underdog status. Indeed, this felt like a big night for the big Belgian who, when the full-time whistle blew, fell to the ground along with several other blues players. Both Lukaku and his team-mates were under a lot of pressure heading into a Club World Cup tournament everyone expects Chelsea to win. Assistant coach Zsolt Low even revealed afterwards that the team needed a few words of encouragement at half-time from manager Thomas Tuchel, who had to stay at home in London after testing positive for Covid-19 last week. "Thomas felt the same way, we were a bit nervous and we had a lot of easy turnovers. It's easy to understand why the players felt the pressure. The chance to become world champions doesn't come often, like Chelsea." know only too well. They have only been here once and the shock defeat by Corinthians in the 2012 Club World Cup final remains one of the club's most disappointing defeats. On such occasions the onus is often on the scorers to improve and hit the mark and luckily Lukaku did just that that night. "Everyone is very happy he scored," Low admitted in his post-match press conference. “He fought very hard and tried really hard in the last game. "That's why we give him chances all the time. He's very happy, we're very happy and we hope he goes on and scores in the final." Crucial goals are the least expected of Inter's £97.5million ($136m) signing and a one-off strike against Al-Hilal won't calm fans who have quibbled over comments made he revealed about Tuchel's tactics and his ongoing love affair, continuing to upset the Nerazzurri in an unsanctioned interview with Sky Sport Italia in December. Tuchel's appeal to fans to forgive and forget will likely only be heard once Lukaku starts winning games on a regular basis. However, Hakim Ziyech, who has been Chelsea's top attacker in recent weeks, also believes Lukaku deserves more understanding when it comes to talking about his struggles so far this season. "There's no question about his quality," argued the winger. "I also think everyone in the squad, not just me but everyone, has to give him chances. "No matter who you are, when you have three defenders against you, it's hard to find space. He also needs space to do his runs. Sometimes it's really good in games, but sometimes a little less. "But there's no question about its quality. It's only a matter of time." Lukaku has certainly achieved a lot in his career but now is the time for Chelsea. Roman Abramovich is likely to be in the final with a host of staff, while Tuchel is also expected to be present as long as he secures a negative test before Saturday. The scale of becoming world champions will obviously weigh heavily on the blues. They must face the challenge of Palmeiras with great enthusiasm and focus as the Copa Libertadores winners will take their game as seriously as any South American finalist before them. "They will play for everything," warned Chelsea's Brazilian-born Italian midfielder Jorginho. "It's very important for a team in Brazil. It's the same for us, but in any case we'll give our all in this final and we have to be prepared." "I think [they want to prove they are better than European teams]. They will come for us. We have to be prepared for that." The Blues have won 20 trophies in 19 years under Abramovich, but they have never won the Club World Cup. If Lukaku wants to feel like a king in one of the richest kingdoms in the Arab world, then he has to do it again on Saturday. The throne is ready, as is a golden opportunity to mend his relationship with Chelsea's fans.


Chelsea FC is the first Premier League club to roll out 5G

Five Chelsea legends were back at Stamford Bridge this week for the official launch of shirt sponsor Three's 5G network, including Gianfranco Zola. (Author: Gardener)

Chelsea FCChelsea FC are the first Premier League club to roll out 5G at their home ground, allowing spectators to enjoy faster internet from their seats on match day. Thanks to their partnership with shirt sponsor Three, the west London club have completed the installation of the next-generation network around Stamford Bridge. This means fans on the ground can enjoy "a seamless, connected experience" from their seats on matchdays when they access the internet with their 5G phones. 5G will be officially available at Stamford Bridge from next matchday – Lille in the UEFA Champions League on February 22nd. Five Chelsea legends were back at Stamford Bridge this week for the official launch of Three's 5G network - Gianfranco Zola, Eidur Gudjohnsen, William Gallas , Geremi and Rob Green, dubbing them the 'five Gs'. Five club legends returned to Stamford Bridge this week for the 5G rollout - left to right: Geremi, Eidur Gudjohnsen, Rob Green, Gianfranco Zola and William Gallas Entire site Neither Three nor Chelsea FC would disclose the total cost of the 5G installation, however, said the next-gen network would "pave the way for the ultimate connected fan experience." "What Three has achieved here at Stamford Bridge is groundbreaking and a testament to the strength of its 5G network," said Guy Laurence, CEO of Chelsea FC. “The ways we can improve the fan and stadium experience are endless and our team is delighted that it is now live. “Staying connected is essential for fans and mobile has become an integral part of match days. 5G allows us to merge the physical and the digital for ultimate fan experiences. "With Three by our side, we will be able to deliver the next generation of connected entertainment and continue our quest to be one of the most innovative clubs in world football." The fifth-generation wireless standard, which rolled out globally in 2019, offers faster connectivity and more bandwidth, which means faster download speeds for internet users and more capacity and connectivity for billions of devices. Fan favorite Zola made over 300 competitive appearances for Chelsea and scored the goal that gave the club their first European title since 1971. A spokesman for Three told MailOnline that Stamford Bridge is the first Premier League stadium to have "full, seamless coverage" but rivals West Ham had some parts of their stadium covered, such as VIP areas. "We are delighted to be the first in the Premier League to deploy a fully operational 5G network here at Stamford Bridge," said Robert Finnegan, CEO of Three. “We are proud to be working with such an iconic club and to be able to help drive innovations in connectivity that will help shape the future fan experience at Chelsea FC and many other stadiums across the UK. The low latency and high bandwidth of 5G means fans can enjoy the game, keep up with other scores, stream highlights in HD at halftime, and video call to meet friends for a halftime drink and snack. Home of champions: Stamford Bridge may add a 5G rollout to its list of achievements unmatched by any other London club. Three is also working with the world-famous club to improve coverage for local residents by installing microsites around the stadium. When the deal was announced, Chelsea said Three will ensure Stamford Bridge is 5G-ready within the first year of the partnership, although this has been slightly delayed due to the pandemic.


Club World Cup semifinals - how it happened

Minute-by-minute report: Chelsea are set to take on Brazilian club Palmeiras in the final after a narrow win over Al-Hilal, with Romelu Lukaku's goal proving the difference (Author: Gardener)

Club World CupChelsea are set to take on Brazilian club Palmeiras in the final after a narrow win over Al-Hilal, with Romelu Lukaku's goal proving the difference