Naija Euro Round-up: Ajayi, Ndidi, Arokodare, Simy, Umar target League and Cup Honours for Clubs this weekend

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WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 29: Jamie Shackleton of Leeds United is challenged by Dara O'Shea and Semi Ajayi of West Bromwich Albion during the Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Leeds United at The Hawthorns on December 29, 2020 in West Bromwich, England. The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by Tim Keeton - Pool/Getty Images)

Another round of English Premier League games hold sway this weekend with the Italian Serie A, and German Bundesliga not left of thrilling league actions too but Copa Rel Rey Round of 16 games take centre stage in Spain as The Nation’s Correspondent TUNDE LIADI writes….

Semi Ajayi scored again for West Bromich Albion last weekend in their FA Cup 3rd Round loss to Blackpool at the Bloomfield Road but Sam Allardyce will require him to switch position almost immediately to fulfil his primary role of preventing opposing sides from scoring against the Baggies when they travel to the Molineux as guests of Wolves today in an ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE tie.

Time is running out on Ajayi and his teammates to start getting positive results if they are to remain in the top flight beyond this season and today’s lunchtime fixture presents a perfect platform for them to correct the negative impression in the minds of purists after their 4-0 home loss to Arsenal in the last league game.

Ola Aina and Fulham will host erratic Chelsea today at the Craven Cottage at the back of their thrilling 1-1 away draw at Tottenham on Wednesday. Tosin Adarabioyo and Ademola Lookman who supplied the assist for the Cottagers equalising goal against Jose Mourinho’s men are the other Nigerian eligible at Fulham who have also been regular since the beginning of the season.

Wilfred Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho’s Leicester City will host Southampton at home today in another thrilling EPL tie with a win keeping them at least in the top four itrespective of results from other centres.

Alex Iwobi will not be involved in league action this weekend with Aston Villa vs Everton tie put off because of Covid-19 concerns. Iwobi grabbed his first goal since September last year in their 2-1 victory at the Molineux midweek against Wolves but he won’t be able to add to that tally for now with the new development.

In the GERMAN BUNDESLIGA, FC Cologne’s Kingsley Ehizibue and Toluwase Arokodare have a tough task on their hands to recover from their 5-0 away loss to Freiburg last weekend as they host Hertha Berlin today in a Matchday 16 tie.

Cologne cannot endure another negative result as they are currently placed 16th on the log with 11 points and the two Nigerians in their fold will be expected to brace up to a dogged battle if they are to return to winning ways against Hertha Berlin.

Kevin Akpoguma is still unavailable for Hoffenheim who were thrashed 4-0 by Schalke 04 last week. They trade tackles with Arminia Bielefeld today in a bid to redeem their dented image. Akpoguma recently suffered an injury that will reportedly keep him sidelined for quite a while.

In the ITALIAN SERIE A, Kingsley Michael’s Bologna host Hellas Verona. They were stopped 2-0 by Genoa last weekend and a home win will help boost morale.

Napoli who are still playing without their Nigerian talisman, Victor Osimhen returned to winning ways last weekend with a 2-1 away win at Udinese. They had suffered a surprise 2-1 home loss to Spezia prior to the fixture. Osimhen is not expected to play any role tomorrow when the Partenopei host Fiorentina in a league tie.

Simy Nwankwo saw action for only 46 minutes in Crotone’s 2-1 defeat to Hellas Verona last weekend. He was involved in all the sessions had by the Rossoblu ahead of tomorrow’s duel with Benevento and should return to the first eleven for the tie. His five goals from 17 games are yet to lift Crotone off the bottom of the log.

There won’t be SPANISH LA LIGA actions this weekend with the COPA DEL REY and SUPER CUP matches in full swing. Some Nigerians will be expected to play starring roles for their clubs as they seek places in the quarter final.

Impressive Sadiq Umar with nine league goals for Almeria should lead the line for his second division team who face Deportivo Alaves today while Kenneth Omeruo will play a crucial role for Leganes who host Europa League holders, Sevilla also today with a place in the last eight at stake.

Ramon Azeez was used in their last Copa Del Rey success and he should have that spot back when they travel to Malaga tomorrow in a Round of 16 clash. Samuel Chukwueze’s Villarreal have a tough road trip to Tenerife to negotiate as they target a place in the quarter-final.

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