Jorginho has proved himself indispensable to Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea

There was something pretty nomadic about Jorginho’s early career.

Born in the southern Brazilian town of Imbituba, he moved to Italy at the age of 15 to join the academy of Hellas Verona. Just when their first team was within his reach, he spent a season on loan in the fourth tier with AC Sambonifacese.

He ultimately cut his teeth in Serie B before Napoli took a punt on him in the big time. Maurizio Sarri was the coach who propelled Jorginho to even greater heights, basing his whole playing philosophy around the metronomic defensive midfielder.

It was Jorginho’s terrible backpass to keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga that cost Chelsea in their Premier League defeat to Arsenal on Wednesday night

But is was a rare lapse in judgement for the Italy international midfielder in a blue shirt

But is was a rare lapse in judgement for the Italy international midfielder in a blue shirt

Thomas Tuchel has come to appreciate Jorginho's qualities just as much as his predecessors

Thomas Tuchel has come to appreciate Jorginho’s qualities just as much as his predecessors

Jorginho was so integral to ‘Sarri-ball’ that Chelsea paid £50million to sign him on the same day the manager was installed at Stamford Bridge.

Sarri soon came and went from the club and there were many questions as to whether Jorginho would have a place under someone else.

So for the 29-year-old to declare two years later that Chelsea ‘feels like home’, after one of the more winding and uncertain career paths, is quite pleasing.

‘Of course I do feel settled,’ he said this week. ‘It feels great after three years, and I know everyone here appreciates what I try to do for the club and for the people.

‘So it feels like home now in England.’

After 137 games for Chelsea, Jorginho now has the opportunity to add further medals to the Europa League success he achieved under Sarri in 2019.

Jorginho spoke this week about how he feels completely at home at Stamford Bridge

Jorginho spoke this week about how he feels completely at home at Stamford Bridge 

Jorginho was so integral to Maurizio Sarri's game plan, Chelsea spent £50million to bring him with the manager from Napoli in the summer of 2018

Jorginho was so integral to Maurizio Sarri’s game plan, Chelsea spent £50million to bring him with the manager from Napoli in the summer of 2018

Chelsea fixtures 

Saturday  Leicester City (Wembley)

FA Cup Final

May 18 Leicester City (H)

May 23 Aston Villa (A)

May 29 Manchester City (Istanbul)

Champions League final

Thomas Tuchel’s side take on Leicester City in the FA Cup final on Saturday and Manchester City in the Champions League final in Porto on May 29.

It could be a spectacular end to another consistent campaign for Jorginho despite the mid-way interruption of Frank Lampard’s sacking and Tuchel coming in.

There was a rare blip in Chelsea’s unexpected home defeat to Arsenal on Wednesday night when Jorginho played an horrendous back pass to goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, leading to Emile Smith Rowe scoring the game’s only goal.

‘We made an own goal more or less, a total gift. The rule is pass the ball to the right foot of Kepa. This is the rule,’ raged Tuchel afterwards.

‘No matter if it’s in the goal or sideways, pass it to Kepa.’

Jorginho certainly took the right foot rule to its extreme but we can expect him to line-up at Wembley on Saturday night despite Tuchel’s criticism.

The Italy international has dropped nicely into Tuchel’s ‘double-six’ pairing of defensive midfielders, the ballast that allows Chelsea’s wing-backs to maraud forward.

Jorginho, with his enjoyment of long diagonal passes and ability to keep the team’s midfield engine ticking over, has become just as useful to Tuchel as he was to Sarri and Lampard.

Jorginho was a regular for Frank Lampard despite being so closely associated with Sarri

Jorginho was a regular for Frank Lampard despite being so closely associated with Sarri

He remains the man who keeps Chelsea ticking over with his passing in the midfield

He remains the man who keeps Chelsea ticking over with his passing in the midfield

He is popular within the Italy dressing room for playing the guitar and leading renditions of Wonderwall but the drums would be more appropriate to the beat he keeps on the pitch.

It helps having the tireless N’Golo Kante alongside you to put in the hard yards. It didn’t work as well with youngster Billy Gilmour in there against Arsenal the other night.

Jorginho has worked well alongside Mateo Kovacic too during the early games of Tuchel’s tenure, prior to the Croatian’s injury, and so Chelsea certainly have options in midfield.

Lapses in judgement such as the one against Arsenal will remain a stick with which to beat Jorginho, however. There are plenty of Chelsea fans who still aren’t convinced despite regular starts for three managers.

Jorginho and N'Golo Kante team up to keep tabs on Porto's Sergio Oliveira last month

Jorginho and N’Golo Kante team up to keep tabs on Porto’s Sergio Oliveira last month

Pairing Jorginho with Mateo Kovacic is another option for Tuchel in Chelsea's midfield

Pairing Jorginho with Mateo Kovacic is another option for Tuchel in Chelsea’s midfield

Plenty regard Jorginho as sluggish or in the wrong positions, or say that Kante’s industry makes him look better than he is.

The next ‘Jorginho back to Serie A’ rumour is never far away and with Sarri still out of work since leaving Juventus last year, there’s the inevitable thought they will be reunited somewhere sooner rather than later.

But in terms of getting Chelsea going from the back, passing them out of a tight spot or keeping them moving, they don’t have anyone better.

Tuchel quickly realised this and so Jorginho continues to start all Chelsea’s big games. There may well be an upgrade out there if Tuchel is given a transfer kitty in the summer, but for now he will be central in two cup finals.

‘Two more steps to achieve our dreams,’ as Jorginho put it this week. And if that doesn’t make you feel at home, nothing will.

Chelsea forward Kirby wins Footballer Writers’ Association’s Women’s Footballer of the Year

Chelsea and England forward Fran Kirby ‘really, really proud’ after winning Footballer Writers’ Association’s Women’s Footballer of the Year for second time

  • England international Kirby is the recipient of the award for the second time 
  • She was the unanimous choice of a panel of more than 30 football writers
  • The Chelsea forward has scored 25 goals in all competitions this season

Chelsea and England forward Fran Kirby has been voted the Footballer Writers’ Association’s Women’s Footballer of the Year.

Kirby has scored 25 goals in all competitions this season for the FA Women’s Super League winners, who have reached the Women’s Champions League final, where they will play Barcelona in Gothenburg on May 16.

The 27-year-old was the unanimous choice of a panel of more than 30 football writers who specialise in the women’s game.

Fran Kirby has been voted the Footballer Writers’ Association’s Women’s Footballer of the Year

England international Kirby is the recipient of the award for the second time, having been presented with the inaugural FWA Women’s Footballer of the Year trophy in 2018.

Kirby, who joined the Blues from Reading during 2015, was the stand-out performer in the WSL, scoring 16 goals with 11 assists.

The forward’s return to form comes after being sidelined from November 2019 onwards last season, having been diagnosed with pericarditis.

‘When I first started off this year, I didn’t have any expectations to win awards like these, so it is really special and something that I am really, really proud of,’ Kirby said.

The 27-year-old has scored 25 goals this season for the FA Women's Super League winners

The 27-year-old has scored 25 goals this season for the FA Women’s Super League winners

‘You never get to win these awards without the players that you play with and the staff that you work with.

‘For me this year I have just seen a real different mindset from everyone, myself included, from three years ago.

‘It is a really confident group and I think for me what has been the biggest difference is the drive from every player, not moments here and there – it has been consistent all the way through.’

The Chelsea forward added: ‘For me now it is just to go on and win the team trophies, those are the things now – it is tunnel vision.’

Despite all of the plaudits, Kirby is just happy to have been able to get back doing what she loves after a testing spell of rehabilitation.

‘It was difficult to have to start from scratch – I had no fitness level, I had not kicked a football in six months,’ Kirby said in an interview with the FWA.

Kirby, who joined the Blues from Reading during 2015, was the stand-out performer in the WSL

Kirby, who joined the Blues from Reading during 2015, was the stand-out performer in the WSL

‘I think for me that was the hardest part, trying to get and build my level back up again, to come back in and not be the one who is getting carried or can’t perform at the level that everyone else has gone to.’

Kirby added: ‘The biggest thing that I have been proud of this year is how much I have just enjoyed playing football again.’

Chelsea’s Australian striker Sam Kerr, the WSL’s Golden Boot winner with 21 goals, was second in the FWA vote, with Manchester City and England winger Chloe Kelly third.

Chair of the FWA’s women’s sub-committee Jen O’Neill said: ‘To have overcome a serious health condition and return in such sparkling form is admirable and inspiring.

‘Several players, including many of her Chelsea team-mates, have been outstanding in a superb WSL season – but there are fewer more joyful sights in football than a smiling, fit and firing Fran Kirby.’

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Joe Cole insists Frank Lampard deserves credit if Chelsea win FA Cup and Champions League double

‘Frank’s fingerprints will be on this team’: Joe Cole insists former team-mate Lampard deserves credit if Chelsea win FA Cup and Champions League double… but BT pundit hails ‘extraordinary’ Thomas Tuchel

  • Lampard was sacked as manager in January and was replaced by German Tuchel 
  • Former Paris Saint-Germain boss has overseen a major turnaround at the club
  • But Cole praised Lampard for successfully bringing through many young players

Joe Cole believes Frank Lampard must take a great deal of credit if Chelsea complete an FA Cup and Champions League double this month.

Lampard was sacked earlier in the season to make way for Thomas Tuchel, the German overseeing a remarkable turnaround in Chelsea’s fortunes, guiding them to two major finals and steering them towards a top-four finish in the Premier League.

Cole and Lampard were Chelsea team-mates for seven seasons and also played together for West Ham and England. 

Former Blues boss Frank Lampard deserves credit for Chelsea’s success, according to Joe Cole

Cole (left) and Lampard were team-mates at their first club West Ham, Chelsea and England

Cole (left) and Lampard were team-mates at their first club West Ham, Chelsea and England

While Cole acknowledges the work Tuchel has done, he believes Lampard’s 18-month spell as manager also helped drive the club to the brink of a hugely successful season.

‘I am friends with Frank and I’ve known him since I was a kid so you don’t want to become a cheerleader,’ Cole told Sportsmail.

‘Tuchel has come in and done an unbelievable job but you can’t disregard what Frank did – holding the fort during a difficult time, getting the club to a cup final last year, getting Champions League when they had lost their best player (Eden Hazard to Real Madrid in 2019).

Cole, who left as Blues academy coach last year, also praised the current boss Thomas Tuchel

Cole, who left as Blues academy coach last year, also praised the current boss Thomas Tuchel

‘He brought in many of these young players in and put £200million of talent on the bottom line. They were going through a bad spell earlier in the season and that’s Chelsea – you know if you go through a bad spell you could get the sack.

‘Frank’s fingerprints will be on this team but you have to credit Tuchel – to come in and have the impact he’s had is extraordinary. Chelsea is in a really healthy place at the moment so I am very happy, very confident.’

Cole was speaking as part of a campaign backed by FA Cup sponsor Budweiser – Support your club; support your pub. The beer brand is handing over advertising space to the local pubs of FA Cup Finalists Chelsea and Leicester.

The 39-year-old has seen a number of his England contemporaries try their hand at management. Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Sol Campbell, Scott Parker and Wayne Rooney have all had varying degrees of success, while John Terry is eyeing a No 1 job after spending time as part of Dean Smith’s backroom team at Aston Villa.

Cole left his role as an academy coach at Chelsea last summer and is keen to take the next step. He added: ‘You are always looking and will have to be the right job at the right time.

‘It’s been beneficial for me to see how my former team-mates have done and see the pitfalls. I am enjoying my work as a pundit but when the time’s right and it’s the right job, I’ll certainly be stepping up.’

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Chelsea star Sam Kerr insists she has ‘nothing to say’ to those who doubted her

Chelsea star Sam Kerr insists she has ‘nothing to say’ to those who doubted her after putting ‘Wembley nightmare’ behind her to win sixth Golden Boot award of her career to help Emma Hayes’ side pick up WSL title

  • Sam Kerr ended the season as the league’s top scorer with 21 goals in 22 games
  • Kerr scored a hat-trick as Chelsea beat Bristol City 6-0 to win the League Cup
  • She will also look to help Hayes’ side win the Champions League for the first time

Sam Kerr has nothing to say to the people who doubted her. The Chelsea striker ended the WSL season as the league’s top scorer with 21 goals in 22 games, helping the Blues win the title for a successive season.

In March, Kerr scored a hat-trick as Chelsea beat Bristol City 6-0 to win the League Cup. On Sunday, she will look to write her name in the history books by helping Emma Hayes’ side win the Champions League for the first time.

It wasn’t an easy start to life in London for the Australian. She had what was described as a ‘Wembley nightmare’ in the Community Shield in August, wasting several big chances to score, and was forced to come off social media following a barrage of criticism.

Chelsea striker Sam Kerr ended the season as the league’s top scorer with 21 goals in 22 games

But it is now six Golden Boots in three different continents for the record-breaking forward.

‘Honestly, I have nothing to say (to the people who doubted her),’ Kerr said. ‘I mean, they get paid to write headlines and all that stuff and they’ve obviously got it wrong this time so I don’t have anything to say. They can just send me a bottle of wine in the mail now as an apology.

Kerr scored a hat-trick as Chelsea beat Bristol City 6-0 to win the League Cup (above)

Kerr scored a hat-trick as Chelsea beat Bristol City 6-0 to win the League Cup (above) 

She will also look to help Emma Hayes’ side win the Champions League for the first time

She will also look to help Emma Hayes’ side win the Champions League for the first time

‘It did take some time, but honestly that’s the life of a footballer, sometimes they go in and sometimes they don’t.’

Kerr has developed a devastating strike partnership with Fran Kirby, who has been the provider for the many of the Aussie’s goals this season. Such is the strength of their relationship, fans now refer to the duo as ‘Kerrby’.

‘Fran’s clearly shown she is one of the best players in the world. Mine and her connection is just special. Everyone asks me if we train like it but it just comes naturally. She’s just a superstar. I can’t speak more highly of her.’

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Portugal’s travel ban WILL be lifted next week bringing relief to football fans and tourists

Relief for Chelsea and Manchester City fans as Portugal LIFTS its travel ban from next week in time for the Champions League final – and Ryanair lays on four extra flights for the game, with normal £100 return flights to Lisbon now £565!

  • Fans of the Champions League finalists and  tourists were left in limbo over travel
  • Portugal has been added to the UK’s ‘green list’ from Monday meaning travellers do not need to quarantine when they return to the UK after visiting the country 
  • But there was confusion after it emerged Portugal’s own travel restrictions on non EU counties, which apply to the UK, may not be lifted until May 30 

Portugal will allow visitors from the UK to enter the country from Monday next week, bringing relief to thousands of UK tourists and football fans.

Chelsea play Manchester City in the rearranged Champions League final on May 29 in Porto with many fans having already bought plane tickets and booked accommodation.

Thousands more tourists had booked holidays in anticipation of a post-lockdown celebration after Portugal was added to the UK’s green travel list.

However, all their plans were plunged into doubt after it emerged Portugal’s own travel restrictions for non-EU countries, which apply to the UK, may not be lifted until May 30.

However, the country’s official travel website, Visit Portugal, has now published a statement confirming British tourists can enter Portugal from midnight Sunday.

Chelsea fans celebrate outside the ground after beating Real Madrid 2-0 in their semi-final

‘The Portuguese Minister of State for Foreign Affairs announced today that British tourists will be allowed to enter Portugal as of 00:00 17th of May, the statement said.

This decision will revoke the essential travel restriction, that is in place until the 16th of May.’  

Manchester City and Chelsea will face off in the fixture, which was set to take place in Istanbul

Manchester City and Chelsea will face off in the fixture, which was set to take place in Istanbul

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Pep Guardiola has ‘Erling Haaland, Harry Kane, Lautaro Martinez and Andre Silva on his radar’

Pep Guardiola has a ‘four-man striker shortlist this summer, with Erling Haaland, Harry Kane, Lautaro Martinez and Andre Silva on Manchester City boss’ radar’ to replace Sergio Aguero

  • Pep Guardiola is to be backed financially in this summer’s transfer window
  • The Manchester City boss has his eyes on Erling Haaland or Harry Kane up top
  • Lautaro Martinez and Andre Silva are also strikers on Guardiola’s shortlist 
  • Guardiola’s biggest priority is replacing Sergio Aguero, who is leaving the club

Pep Guardiola is set to receive the support he needs from the Manchester City board to bring in more top players this summer and has a four-man shortlist for a new striker. 

Despite having the strongest squad in the Premier League, being crowned champions earlier this week and having a first Champions League final against Chelsea on 29 May, Guardiola is ready to bolster his options even further. 

City have made no secret that their top priority is finding a replacement for Sergio Aguero. The 32-year-old will leave the club at the end of the season, and a successor of equal stature is required.

Pep Guardiola has a four-man shortlist for a new Manchester City striker in the transfer window

Erling Haaland (pictured) and Harry Kane have been strongly linked to Manchester City

Kane (pictured) has hinted that he may leave Tottenham this summer

Erling Haaland (left) and Harry Kane (right) have been strongly linked to Manchester City

Guardiola has been strongly linked with Borussia Dortmund superstar Erling Haaland, and England captain Harry Kane, who is increasingly thought to be considering leaving Tottenham this summer. 

Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez and Eintracht Frankfurt striker Andre Silva are also on Guardiola’s shortlist, according to The Times

The 25-year-old Silva has made a huge impression at Frankfurt this season, scoring 25 goals in 30 Bundesliga games and helping them to fifth in the league. 

Meanwhile Martinez, 23, has been a key part of Antonio Conte’s Serie A-winning squad, with 16 goals and eight assists in 36 league games.

Guardiola's biggest transfer priority this summer is finding a replacement for Sergio Aguero

Guardiola’s biggest transfer priority this summer is finding a replacement for Sergio Aguero

Lautaro Martinez (pictured) and Andre Silva are also on Guardiola's four-man striker shortlist

Silva has scored 25 goals in 30 Bundesliga games this season

Lautaro Martinez (left) and Andre Silva (right) are also on Guardiola’s four-man striker shortlist

Both of these options would be significantly cheaper than either Kane, whose Spurs chairman Daniel Levy is renowed for driving extremely hard bargains, or Haaland, who would command a package of £150million-plus to be prised away from Dortmund.

But the German club have a strong financial interest in selling Haaland this transfer window, as the 20-year-old’s contract contains a £65m release clause that can be activated next summer. 

Guardiola’s bargaining power would also increase should Dortmund fail to qualify for next’s season Champions League. 

Further along the squad, the Man City boss is also said to be a big fan of Jack Grealish, though Aston Villa are believed to want £80m for the playmaker, which according to The Times, is too much money for Guardiola. 

Guardiola is said to be a big fan of Aston Villa's Jack Grealish but doesn't want to spend £80m

Guardiola is said to be a big fan of Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish but doesn’t want to spend £80m

Another position of perhaps greater significance is defensive midfield, with Guardiola possibly having to plan for life after 36-year-old stalwart Fernandinho. 

The Brazilian is yet to decide on a 12-month contract extension that City have offered him, and West Ham’s Declan Rice is being viewed as a potential replacement. 

Other players leaving the club include Eric Garcia, who is shaping to move to Barcelona on a free transfer, and Benjamin Mendy, who City are looking to sell after another poor season.    

Guardiola may also have to plan for life without 36-year-old defensive midfielder Fernandinho

Guardiola may also have to plan for life without 36-year-old defensive midfielder Fernandinho

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Europa Conference League: What is it? Which Premier League team will qualify? How does it work?

The world of football is becoming increasingly difficult to follow. There are seemingly changes in formats and breakaway leagues galore. Heck, most of us don’t even know what offside is anymore. 

And to add a further complication, from next season there will be three tiers of European cup competition, with the Europa Conference League sitting below the existing Europa League and Champions League formats. 

Yes, it’s all a bit confusing. But it also makes the final games of the Premier League season that bit more exciting, with the likes of West Ham, Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal and Everton now battling it out for three different competitions.   

In fact, in only 10 days’ time, will will know just who has secured a Champions League spot, who will be playing their football in the Europa League next season and who will be England’s test dummy and first-ever representative in the Europa Conference League.   

Below, Sportsmail explains everything you need to know about the new tournament. 

The newly-formed Europa Conference League is set to commence in the 2021/22 campaign

What on Earth is it? 

Now, this seems a sensible place to start. In addition to the Champions League and Europa League, we now have a third European club competition – the Europa Conference League.   

Essentially, the idea is that with another competition, more clubs will have the opportunity to play European football. 

To use UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin’s words, ‘the new UEFA club competition makes UEFA’s club competitions more inclusive than ever before.

‘There will be more matches for more clubs, with more associations represented in the group stages.’ 

Well, in England anyway, that’s not wholly true. The Premier League will still have a maximum of seven teams participating in European football, including the new format.  

The real benefit will be felt by those in leagues where they struggle to qualify for the existing two competitions.  

But how does it work? 

Just like the Champions League and Europa League, there will be multiple qualifying rounds to play before the tournament gets underway. 

In fact, there will be three – before a final two-legged play-off round.  

The English side who qualifies will go straight into the play-off round, which will be played on August 19 and 26, just five days after the 2021/22 Premier League season begins on August 14.  

Europa Conference League Qualification  
Round  First Leg  Second Leg
Round 1 July 8 July 15 
Round 2  July 22  July 29 
Round 3  August 5  August 12 
Play-off round  August 19  August 26 
*The English team will enter in the play-off round, while the Scottish team will enter in the second round 

So, who will make up the groups? Well, there will be eight groups of four, with teams earning a place via three distinct paths:

1) 17 teams will qualify via the main path, which is through the qualifying rounds shown in the table above. 

2) Five teams will qualify via the champions path, which is made up of those who have lost Champions League qualifiers and are then demoted to the Europa Conference League. 

3) 10 team eliminated from the Europa League play-offs will also join.  

Importantly, it’s now being ensured that 34 UEFA national associations get a minimum of one representative in the group stage of at least one competition. 

And specifically for the Europa Conference League, England, Spain, Italy, France and Germany all get one team. Scotland, Belgium, the Netherlands and Russia all get two.  

Who will qualify from the Premier League? 

Arsenal and Liverpool are among the teams who could qualify for the tournament

Arsenal and Liverpool are among the teams who could qualify for the tournament

Now, this is the all important question. And I’m afraid, it’s not the most simple of answers. 

Just to stress again, there is a maximum of seven Premier League teams who can enter European competition in any given season. 

And as things stand, it’s looking pretty certain that it will be the seventh-placed Premier League side who qualifies. 

Generally, it will be the winner of the Carabao Cup who earns a place in the competition. But this year – for the fourth consecutive season – it was Manchester City who lifted the cup, and they’ve already qualified for the Champions League. 

That means their spot is passed to the next highest-placed Premier League side who have not qualified for a European competition. 

However, this is also the case with the Europa League. Generally, the winner of the FA Cup will be granted a spot alongside the team that finishes fifth. But Leicester and Chelsea – who currently sit third and fourth respectively – are set to play in Saturday’s final. 

Assuming both sides stay within the top five, the team in sixth place would get a place in the Europa League, with the Europa Conference League spot going to the team in seventh. 

If the season ended now, West Ham and Liverpool would play in the Europa League, with Tottenham in the Europa Conference League. 

What about Scotland? 

Well, as mentioned above, Scotland will have two teams in the Europa Conference League. And this will go to the third and fourth-placed teams. 

This is now wrapped up in Scotland, meaning we know Hibernian and Aberdeen will join next season’s Europa Conference League in the second qualifying round.   

When will the matches be played? 

The Europa Conference League fixtures will follow the pattern of the Europa League, with matches on Thursdays, kicking off at either 5.45pm and 8pm. 

The group stages will be played between September 15 and December 9, with the knockout stages starting on February 17. 

The final, which will be played in Tirana, Albania, will be played on May 25. 

Europa Conference League Group Stage
Match day Match date
Match 1  September 16 
Match 2 September 30 
Match 3  October 21 
Match 4  November 4 
Match 5  November 25 
Match 6  December 9 
Europa Conference League Knockout Stage 
Round  First Leg   Second Leg
Knockout play-offs February 17 February 24 
Round of 16  March 10  March 17 
Quarter-finals  April 7  April 14 
Semi-finals  April 28  May 5 
Final  May 25  N/A 

What is the grand prize? 

So, what’s the point? Similarly to the Europa League, where the winner earns a spot in the Champions League, the winner of the Europa Conference League will also move up a tier. 

To put it simply, the winner of the Europa Conference League earns a spot in the group stages of the following season’s Europa League. 

That is provided the team has not already qualified for the Champions League, of course.  

The first final of the Europa Conference League will be played at the National Arena in Albania

The first final of the Europa Conference League will be played at the National Arena in Albania

What about the Europa League? 

While the introduction of the new format will have no impact on the Champions League, there will be some changes to the Europa League. 

The Europa League – notoriously an arduous competition –  will now be shorter, with fewer teams competing in it. 

The group stages in the Europa League will now have 32 teams, rather than 48, in eight groups of four. 

The winners will all automatically progress into the last-16, with the round of 32 now gone. Additionally, there will be a knockout round before the last-16, comprised of those who finished second in the group and third in the Champions League groups. 

Jorginho declares he now feels ‘at home’ at Chelsea after initial struggles to get fans onside

Jorginho has pledged his long-term future to Chelsea by declaring he feels ‘at home’ at Stamford Bridge.

The Brazil-born Italy midfielder has spent half his life in a footballing odyssey, but now firmly believes he has found his niche in west London.

Jorginho has regularly been linked with a return to Italy’s Serie A, but one mention of new boss Thomas Tuchel’s infectious man-management reveals the 29-year-old’s determination to stay at Chelsea for the long haul.

Jorginho has pledged his long-term future to Chelsea, declaring he feels ‘at home’ there

Thomas Tuchel's infectious man-management reveals the 29-year-old's determination to stay

Thomas Tuchel’s infectious man-management reveals the 29-year-old’s determination to stay

His importance as Chelsea’s metronome midfielder should ultimately lead to an extension of his current contract, which runs until 2023.

But Saturday’s FA Cup final against Leicester and the May 29 Champions League final against Manchester City take clear precedence.

‘Of course, of course I do feel settled,’ Jorginho told the PA news agency. ‘When I came here, everything was different. But I felt welcome straight away.

‘It feels great after three years, and I know everyone here appreciates what I try to do for the club and for the people. So it feels like home now in England.

But securing FA Cup and Champions League crowns for Thomas Tuchel's side is his priority

But securing FA Cup and Champions League crowns for Thomas Tuchel’s side is his priority

‘It’s definitely not the time to think about contracts with two finals to play! How could I want to leave the club? That’s not the point. It’s not the point even talking about it now.

‘I’ve got two more years and like I said, I really feel at home here. So there’s no point actually even talking about it. And we have only just started under Thomas – we’ve got a lot more to do here.’

From Brazilian coastal town Imbituba to the King’s Road, Jorginho endured testing apprenticeships en route to prominence at Hellas Verona and Napoli before arriving at Chelsea in 2018.

The guitar-playing £50million recruit has kept rhythm in the Blues’ midfield ever since, but remains acutely aware of how his performances have polarised fan opinion.

New Chelsea boss Tuchel’s stunning start to west London life has removed any lingering argument over the astute tactician’s worth however.

Tuchel has shone fresh light on Jorginho's ability to dominate and direct play from midfield

Tuchel has shone fresh light on Jorginho’s ability to dominate and direct play from midfield

Tuchel has employed his ‘double-six’ twin defensive midfielders to devastating effect as Chelsea have powered to within touching distance of FA Cup and Champions League glory.

In realising his pledge to make Chelsea ‘horrible’ to play against, Tuchel has shone fresh light on Jorginho’s ability to dominate and direct.

So when asked if Tuchel’s system and his role within it finally allows people to see his true value, Jorginho light-heartedly replied: ‘I hope so! If they don’t by now, they don’t understand football!

‘But the results, the numbers, are there. So whoever wants to say something different, they can have their opinion, but it will not affect me in a bad way.

‘Criticism will always be there, in any job. It depends how you take it. And for me, honestly, it’s just motivation, to work even harder.’

Tuchel has employed his 'double-six' twin defensive midfielders to devastating effect

Tuchel has employed his ‘double-six’ twin defensive midfielders to devastating effect

Former Paris St Germain manager Tuchel has transformed Chelsea since replacing Frank Lampard on January 26.

The 47-year-old German’s mixture of carrot and stick motivation has found fast favour at Stamford Bridge, entirely belying his vociferous touchline demeanour.

Jorginho explained how Tuchel can scream at his players for 90 minutes – but still retain their full trust and confidence.

‘On the pitch he seems quite harsh, always shouting and going crazy,’ said Jorginho. ‘But then you meet him off the pitch and you say ‘is that the same person?’

‘Off the pitch he’s completely a nice guy, who talks to everyone, tries to understand everyone. When he shouts, it is nothing personal. He doesn’t take it personally.

Jorginho said Tuchel can scream at his players for 90 minutes - but still retain their full trust

Jorginho said Tuchel can scream at his players for 90 minutes – but still retain their full trust

‘Because maybe other coaches they can take it personally; when they shout at someone all the time, maybe in the next game they’re not going to play.

‘But with Thomas it’s not like that at all, it’s just that moment, and then after that it’s completely past.

‘So we know that, and that’s why we don’t take it personally as well, when he shouts at someone.

‘Sometimes when someone who has maybe been playing a bit less has the opportunity, they are ready, because they feel involved. If they weren’t feeling involved like that, maybe the results would be different.’

When Chelsea toppled Real Madrid to reach the Champions League final, Jorginho welled up at full-time, caught up in realising lifelong dreams.

Emotions back in check to handle several pivotal weeks, Chelsea’s calmly-spoken creator explained: ‘You tell me what kid doesn’t dream about winning the Champions League?

When Chelsea toppled Real Madrid, Jorginho was caught up in realising lifelong dreams

When Chelsea toppled Real Madrid, Jorginho was caught up in realising lifelong dreams

‘In that moment at the end against Madrid, I realised how hard I had worked for this, and how hard we all have worked.

‘So yes I got emotional, because it’s not just a game.

‘My thoughts turned to my family, my friends, the people who were close to me the whole time, in every single moment in my life. And I’m sure their thoughts were there as well.

‘It was an amazing feeling, reaching the final. Maybe some people can say it’s nothing, but it’s a lot, and now there are two more steps to achieve our dreams.’

Lahoz appointed Champions League final referee… the official who sent Guardiola off in 2018

Antonio Mateu Lahoz appointed as Champions League final referee… the Spanish official who sent Pep Guardiola to the stands in Liverpool defeat in 2018, before furious Man City boss described him as a ‘special guy who likes to be different’

  • Antonio Mateu Lahoz will referee the Champions League final later this month 
  • Man City face Chelsea and Lahoz has previous with City boss Pep Guardiola 
  • The Catalan confronted him during City’s quarter-final exit by Liverpool in 2018 
  • He was also unimpressed with his display the previous year against Monaco 

UEFA has appointed Spaniard Antonio Mateu Lahoz to referee the Champions League final between Manchester City and Chelsea on May 29.

However, the news may well not go down very well at the Etihad Stadium, with Pep Guardiola having previous with the official, who has refereed City three times before and awarded three penalties against them. 

Lahoz sent the Catalan boss to the stands at half-time of City’s quarter-final second leg defeat by Liverpool in 2018, having been confronted by Guardiola who was incensed that Leroy Sane’s goal had been ruled out for offside after James Milner had touched the ball into the German’s path.  

UEFA has appointed Spaniard Antonio Mateu Lahoz to referee the Champions League final

Pep Guardiola has previous with Lahoz, confronting him at half-time against Liverpool in 2018

Pep Guardiola has previous with Lahoz, confronting him at half-time against Liverpool in 2018

The Catalan was consequently sent to the stands as City went out at the quarter-final stage

The Catalan was consequently sent to the stands as City went out at the quarter-final stage

The Reds had won the first leg 3-0 at Anfield and goals from Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino overturned Gabriel Jesus’ opener to seal their passage through courtesy of a 5-1 aggregate scoreline.

But Guardiola continued his war with Lahoz after the game, having held on to frustrations with the same referee regarding his failure to award a penalty in the previous year’s quarter-final exit at the hands of Monaco.

Asked why he was sent off after confronting the referee, Guardiola said: ‘I said it [Sane’s effort] was a goal. I didn’t insult him, I was polite, I was correct. But Mateu Lahoz is a special guy, he likes to be different, he likes to be special.’

In 2017, Guardiola was fuming that Lahoz booked Sergio Aguero for diving in that game rather than awarding a penalty after the City striker was taken down by Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic.

Guardiola was furious that Leroy Sane's goal that night had been ruled out for offside

Guardiola was furious that Leroy Sane’s goal that night had been ruled out for offside

‘I know what happened in Monaco last season, at 1-1, with an incredible penalty from Sergio Aguero,’ Guardiola added.

‘He’s special. When everybody sees things, he likes to decide the opposite. I didn’t say any wrong word.’ 

In a separate press conference later that night, Guardiola said: ‘I know [the referee] from Spain. We spoke about that. We know him.’  

Lahoz has also awarded three spot kicks against City when he has been in charge of their games, with two coming in group games against Napoli in October 2017 and against Monaco the season before. 

Guardiola was also unimpressed with Lahoz's performance against Monaco the previous year

Guardiola was also unimpressed with Lahoz’s performance against Monaco the previous year

Recalling the incident against Monaco 12 months later, Guardiola said: ‘I remember what happened last year.

‘We were 1-1 at home against Monaco when there was a clear penalty to Aguero and a red card that a Spanish referee did not whistle for. 

‘We went from a possible 2-1 to 1-2. These types of situations are really important.’

But speaking to Spanish outlet Las Provincias in August 2019, Lahoz claimed that Guardiola has told him behind closed doors that he is a fan of how he referees.

Lahoz booked Sergio Aguero for diving as City were defeated by the Ligue 1 side in 2017

Lahoz booked Sergio Aguero for diving as City were defeated by the Ligue 1 side in 2017

‘I have refereed Barcelona a lot and I’ve always felt respected,’ he said.

‘I’ve had conversations with Carles Puyol that are on the record, whilst Pep Guardiola has privately told me he likes how I referee, both when he was at Barcelona and with other clubs.

‘Another thing is I want the players at the likes of Getafe and Alaves to see that I treat them with the exact same respect as those of Real Madrid and Barcelona. It’s not true that referees favour Real Madrid and Barcelona.’

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin meanwhile has announced no decision has been made on where this year’s final will be held after a coronavirus outbreak in Turkey forced the governing body to look for alternative venues, with Porto in the running.

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Chelsea set to reward Thomas Tuchel with new three-year deal in the summer

Thomas Tuchel set to be rewarded with new Chelsea contract in the summer after guiding the club to Champions League and FA Cup finals as well as Premier League top four

  • Chelsea are set to offer Thomas Tuchel a new contract at the end of the season
  • The German has done spectacularly since taking over from Frank Lampard
  • There are clauses in his deal that entitle him to an extension if he hits targets
  • However, Chelsea want to give him a new two-year deal with an option for a third
  • The Blues also want to tie down Kante as he enters the final two years of his deal

Chelsea are set to offer Thomas Tuchel a new contract at the end of the season as a reward for his spectacular success in leading the club to the Champions League and FA Cup finals as well as returning them to the Premier League’s top four.

As previously revealed by Sportsmail, there are clauses in the 18-month deal Tuchel signed in January entitling him to an extension if he hits certain targets, but the club want to tie him down to a new two-year contract with the option for a third year. 

Tuchel is keen to sign the new deal as he initially had reservations about the short-term contract Chelsea offered him after sacking Frank Lampard at the beginning of the year. It will also bring him an increase on his current £7million salary.

Chelsea are set to reward Thomas Tuchel with a new contract at the end of the season

The impetus for the new contract talks has come from the club, however, with the German focused on two cup finals and securing a Champions League place, which will move closer if they beat Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening. 

Tuchel stands to collect major bonuses if Chelsea win the Champions League and finish in the top four, although the pay-out for beating Leicester in Saturday’s FA Cup final is less substantial.

Such incremental contracts have become standard practice at Stamford Bridge in recent years with the club eager to reduce pay-outs made to sacked managers. Lampard signed a three-year contract as manager, but there was a break clause after two years.

Chelsea will also look to tie down N’Golo Kante (right) as he enters the last two years of his deal

Chelsea will also look to tie down N’Golo Kante (right) as he enters the last two years of his deal

Kante won back-to-back man of the match awards in Chelsea's two-legged win over Real

Kante won back-to-back man of the match awards in Chelsea’s two-legged win over Real

Chelsea will also seek to tie down N’Golo Kante — who starred against Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final — as he enters the final two years of his contract, with Inter Milan said to be interested in the midfielder. The Blues are also set to trigger a one-year extension for Thiago Silva.

Meanwhile, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta called on owner Stan Kroenke to stump up the funds his side will need for a squad revamp this summer.

‘I think is clear that if we want to improve the team we need some resources,’ said Arteta.

Arsenal have also frozen season ticket prices for next season despite having no European football for the first time since the 1995-96 campaign.

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