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Four things to look out for

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The Continental Cup quarter-finals take place across Wednesday and Thursday, with four intriguing ties to look forward to.

Arsenal and Chelsea have entered the competition following the conclusion of the group stages, and they join the current Conti Cup holders, one plucky Championship underdog and a selection of other WSL sides in the last eight.

Here’s everything to look out for in the Continental Cup quarter finals.

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Steph Houghton, Ellen White

City are the reigning Conti Cup champions / Justin Setterfield/GettyImages

The Continental Cup final was one of the highlights of Man City’s 2021/22 campaign, coming from a goal down at the break to turn in an electric second half performance against an all conquering Chelsea – who at the time held all three domestic honours – and running out 3-1 winners.

After exiting the Champions League before the group stages and slipping up against Aston Villa at the weekend to leave them five points behind WSL leaders Manchester United, retaining the Continental Cup could be Man City’s most realistic chance of silverware this term.

It is a competition in which the Sky Blues have a proud history. Their 2014 Conti Cup triumph was the first major trophy success for the women’s team, while the 2022 victory was a real moment of celebration for Gareth Taylor’s side after such a tough first half of the season.

City have been handed the kindest draw of the round with a trip to Bristol City – the only Championship team left standing. The Vixens have enjoyed a strong campaign so far, losing just twice in 14 in all competitions. The two sides met at the same stage of the competition last season, with City running out 3-1 winners.

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Bristol City vs Manchester City

When is kick off? Wednesday 25 January, 19:00 (GMT)
Where is the match being played? Ashton Gate
TV channel/live stream? FA Player (UK, international)

Matt Beard

Matt Beard has managed both Liverpool and West Ham / Lewis Storey/GettyImages

The second quarter-final sees Matt Beard’s current side Liverpool welcome his former side West Ham to Prenton Park.

Having won two WSL titles with Liverpool, Beard then spent two and a half years at West Ham, navigating the club through their debut seasons in the WSL. He then returned to Liverpool in 2021 to guide the club back to the top flight.

Liverpool vs West Ham is a fixture teeming with reunions; from Hammers boss Paul Konchesky, who had a one year spell on Merseyside as a player, to West Ham’s Kate Longhurst, who won back-to-back WSL titles with Beard at Liverpool in 2013 and 2014.

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Liverpool vs West Ham

When is kick off? Wednesday 25 January, 19:30 (GMT)
Where is the match being played? Prenton Park
TV channel/live stream? FA Player (UK, international)

Bethany England

England could face former side Chelsea on Wednesday / Lewis Storey/GettyImages

Just three weeks on from calling time on her seven-year spell at Chelsea to join London rivals Tottenham, Bethany England will be reunited with her former teammates in just her second game for her new club.

England won seven major trophies with the Blues, playing a particularly crucial role in their 2019/20 WSL triumph, and hitting a match-winning brace as they secured their maiden Continental Cup title that same year.

The forward’s game time was reduced by the 2020 signing of Sam Kerr, and she subsequently moved to Spurs for a reported record fee between two WSL clubs – although Rehanne Skinner later played down the figure. England marked her maiden appearance for her new club with a debut goal.

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“Beth is a top player,” Emma Hayes said following the sale of the striker. “Every one of my players are too good to sit on the bench. Finding the right time for a player and club to move in another direction isn’t always as simple as: we’ll do it in June, or whatever. It was the right time for us and it was the right time for her.”

Tottenham vs Chelsea

When is kick off? Wednesday 25 January 19:45 (GMT)
Where is the match being played? Brisbane Road
TV channel/live stream? FA Player (UK, international)

Jordan Nobbs

Jordan Nobbs could return to Meadow Park on Thursday / Julian Finney/GettyImages

To cap off four quarter-final ties full of reunions is perhaps the most highly-anticipated of them all, as Jordan Nobbs faces her former side Arsenal three weeks after calling time on her 12 and a half years with the club to join Aston Villa.

The midfielder won every domestic trophy there was to win with the Gunners and will go down as one of the club’s and WSL’s all-time top midfielders. However, she saw her game time limited this term, and opted to move to Aston Villa to put herself in the best possible position for selection ahead of the 2023 World Cup.

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Nobbs has taken quickly to life at Villa, helping her new side to four points from her first two appearances and quickly building up a strong midfield partnership with Kenza Dali.

“Her service has been so excellent,” Jonas Eidevall said following the departure of Nobbs. “From a squad perspective, I would have liked to have kept her but we wanted to show respect to the history she has with the club.”

Arsenal vs Aston Villa

When is kick off? Thursday 26 January, 19:30 (GMT)
Where is the match being played? Meadow Park
TV channel/live stream? FA Player (UK, international)



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Player ratings as Los Blancos seal comfortable win

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Second half goals from Marco Asensio and Vinicius Junior were enough for Real Madrid to fend off a ten-man Valencia team in La Liga.

Real Madrid almost took the lead inside the opening three minutes, when Valencia’s pourous defence was exposed by a wonderful through ball from Luka Modric. The pass played Marco Asensio clean through on goal, but the Spanish international’s subsequent effort on goal was well saved by Giorgi Mamardashvili.

15 minutes later Asensio was denied the opener again, this time by ex-Arsenal man Gabriel Paulista. The centre-back did brilliantly to dive in front of Asensio’s strike from around the penalty spot to keep the score a 0-0.

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Eduardo Camavinga was next to go close for Los Blancos, firing into the side-netting from the left-hand side of the box.

The home side thought they’d finally broke the deadlock in added time at the end of the first half thanks to Antonio Rudiger. The German international tracked Luka Modric corner kick from the left to head into the net, but the goal was disallowed after a VAR check on a Karim Benzema ‘foul’.

Los Blancos came out of the traps well at the start of the second half and deservedly took the lead through Asensio in the 52nd minute. The wide forward cannoned the ball into the top left corner of the net from outside of the box, leaving Mamardashvili rooted to the spot.

90 seconds later it was 2-0.

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This time it was Vinicius Junior who’d find the net, bursting down the left flank before side-footing into the right corner of the net.

Things went from bad to worse for Valencia in the 71st minute when Gabriel Paulista was sent off for an utterly despicable kick out at Vinicius Junior. A thuggish, rather pathetic, action from the ex-Arsenal man.

GK – Thibaut Courtois – 5/10 – Had literally nothing to do.

RB – Nacho Fernandez – 6/10 – Got forward on his side well.

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CB – Eder Militao – N/A – Subbed with an injury in the first half.

CB – Antonio Rudiger – 6/10 – Scored an offside goal and had basically nothing to do in the defensive third.

LB – Eduardo Camavinga – 7/10 – Looks like he’s found a position he can call home at left-back.

CM – Luka Modric – 7/10 – His usual self.

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CM – Toni Kroos – 5/10 – He doesn’t look as comfortable in the defensive midfield position.

CM – Dani Ceballos – 6/10 – Did well again in midfield.

RW – Marco Asensio – 8/10 – Missed a few chances in the first half but more than made up for them in the second with a stunning goal.

ST – Karim Benzema – 7/10 – His passing was as good as ever,

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LW – Vinicius Junior – 8/10 – Scored a wonderful goal to seal the win.

SUB – Dani Carvajal – 6/10.

SUB – Rodrygo Goes – 6/10.

SUB – Federico Valverde – N/A.

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SUB – Aurelien Tchouameni – N/A.



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When windows are and what competitions are there?

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For so many fans, international breaks are the scourge of the football calendar. They interrupt the season just as your team seems to be building up a head of steam and putting some results together.

They can provide some brilliant entertainment though if you look in the right places, and they are also a valuable rest for some of your team’s most important players.

The introduction of the UEFA Nations League has meant that we don’t get international breaks filled with totally meaningless friendlies. The games do mean something, even if they don’t garner mass public interest until the business end of the competition.

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Here is a look at what international breaks are coming up for the rest of the season and what games are being played.

Due to the 2022 Qatar FIFA World Cup being held in the winter, the entire football calendar has been thrown out of kilter and many decisions feel subject to change as the season goes on.

There was an international break on the weekend on September 24, 2022, and the World Cup itself between November 13 and December 25 was classed as an international break, with play in the Premier League resuming on Boxing Day.

That means that the final international break to affect the Premier League is set to be the weekend of March 25, 2023. The break will officially be March 20 – March 28.

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There are more breaks in the women’s football calendar, so there is one coming between February 13 and February 22, and another between April 3 and April 11.

There is going to be a set of EURO 2024 qualifiers in the March international break next month. These will be the first games of that particular qualifying campaign after the groups were drawn some weeks ago.

England have been drawn in a group with Italy, Malta, North Macedonia and Ukraine, meaning it will not be easy to navigate. On March 23 at 19:45 GMT, England will take on Italy away at Napoli’s Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

Then on March 26 at 17:00 GMT, England will host Ukraine at Wembley, meaning they’ll go up against their two toughest opponents immediately ahead of the clashes against Malta and North Macedonia in June.

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Northern Ireland will be away at San Marino and at home to Finland. Republic of Ireland will only be playing one game and that is at home against World Cup finalists France. Scotland will face Cyprus at home and then will also host Spain, whilst Wales face Croatia away and Latvia at home.

The England Women are only playing one game during the February international break. They will take on South Korea at home on February 16.



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How much do 2022/23 winners earn?

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UEFA Champions League action is almost back with the knockout stages set to get underway on Tuesday, February 14. The group stage threw up plenty of drama and some great goals, but the business end of the tournament is where things get serious and the money starts to be made.

The Champions League is the most lucrative club competition in the world and more and more money is earned the further a team goes. Here is a breakdown of what is up for grabs and how it will be divided in 2022/23.

There are many different factors to decide how much money a team earns from their participation in the Champions League. More money is earned from every single game that is won, meaning if you’re through to the knockouts with a game to go, it can still be worth winning that final game.

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The total prize pot from UEFA for the Champions League this season is a whopping £1.72bn (€2.03bn/$1.98bn). That figure will be divided up between the participating teams as they tournament goes on.

In comparison, the prize pot for the UEFA Europa League is €465m, while for the UEFA Conference League it is €235m.

Last season’s champions Real Madrid earned €83.2m from their involvement in the Champions League after they beat Liverpool in the final in Paris. They didn’t stop there, getting another €4.5m from winning the UEFA Super Cup.

It was pre-determined what the maximum amount that one team could win is from the 2022/23 tournament, and the figure stands at €85.14m. That is if a team wins all of their group stage matches and then wins the tournament.

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As you would expect, the majority of the money is handed out based on performance. There are two other ways in which the money is distributed though. 55% of it is based on performance, 30% is based on coefficient ranking, and the last 15% is broadcast revenues. The 55% is divided as follows:

Coefficients

UEFA have got their own coefficient algorithm which ranks each club’s European performance in the previous 10-year period. That pot of €600.6m is paid out to all 32 clubs in the group stage, as per their coefficient ranking.

Teams that have won European trophies in recent history will be higher up that ranking than those who are only just taking part in the tournament for the first time. The lowest-ranked team earns one share (€1.137m), while the top-ranked team earns 32 shares, or €36.38m.

Broadcast money

The final 15% of the money is based on broadcast revenues and then distributed accordingly. These figures are only final once all of the broadcast deals in each country have been decided upon.

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The footballing governing body of each country that has a team in the Champions League that season gets a share of €300.3m and that share size is dependant on the proportional value of their TV market. It is then distributed to the clubs taking part from each country.

50% of the allocation that, for example, the FA receives, will be divided among the participating clubs based on fixed percentages determined by UEFA. The other 50% is paid out in propertion with the amount of matches that each club plays in the competition. Therefore the further your team goes, the more broadcast revenue they receive.

The first legs are being played on February 14, 15, 21 and 22, with the second legs played on March 7, 8, 14 and 15.



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