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Barcelona wins at Eibar 2-0 before trip to Chelsea in CL

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Lionel Messi looks ready for London. Barcelona's star helped to set up two goals to beat 10-man Eibar 2-0 on Saturday as the Spanish leaders warmed up for their visit to Chelsea in the Champions League. Barcelona broke its mini-slump of back-to-back draws to remain unbeaten through 24 rounds and extend its advantage over second-place Atletico Madrid to 10 points. Barcelona visits Stamford Bridge on Tuesday in the opening leg of the round of 16. "We will head to the match with confidence," Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets said about Chelsea. "We are having a good season, but that won't mean anything now. We are facing a tie against a great team that won its league last season. We know it will be difficult and that we have to play smart for 180 minutes." Eibar showed why it is one of the surprises of the season in Spain by taking the initiative first at Barcelona. But a moment of brilliance by Messi was all it took to swing the match Barcelona's way. Messi's weight-perfect pass threaded past three defenders left Luis Suarez all alone in the 16th minute. Suarez used a feint to bring goalkeeper Marco Dmitrovic to the turf before netting his 17th goal in the competition. Only Messi, with 20, has more. Messi played a big part in Jordi Alba's goal in the 88th, when he forced a save from Dmitrovic and Alba was free to finish it off. Suarez's goal came against the flow of the match. Pressing up the pitch and setting a fast pace, Eibar forwards Fabian Orellana, Takashi Inui and midfielder Joan Jordan threatened the visitors. Orellana damaged his team's chances of a comeback when he earned bookings in the 57th and 66th. The first card was for a a needless tackle that cut down Andres Iniesta. Orellana compounded that mistake when he batted a ball into the air with play stopped and the referee waiting for Eibar to return the ball to Barcelona to take a free kick. Eibar coach Jose Luis Mendilibar was also sent off minutes later for protesting when the referee did not book Suarez for lightly kicking the ball after play stopped for an offside call. Despite playing a man down, Eibar still managed to make Barcelona work. Inui had two attempts that required saves from goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen until Alba secured the three points. "Losing a player hurt them. It came at a moment when the game was tightly contested," Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde said. "It was important to win after the past two matches and knowing how difficult it would be against an Eibar that is having a great season." The loss was only the second for Eibar in its last 13 matches. It remained in seventh place. Atletico hosts Athletic Bilbao on Sunday. ___ SEVILLA AWAITS UNITED Sevilla also won before its Champions League meeting with Manchester United, beating Las Palmas 2-1 in the Canary Islands to move into fifth place. Sevilla hosts United on Wednesday to start their Champions League final-16 tie. ___ LATE TURNAROUND Valencia scored two late goals to snatch a 2-1 win at bottom side Malaga, which was left seven points from safety. Dani Parejo hit the winner with five minutes remaining when he converted a penalty kick after Ignasi Miguel earned a direct red card for pulling down Rodrigo Moreno with only the goalie to beat. Valencia, in third place, moved four points clear of Real Madrid before it visits Real Betis on Sunday. ___ DEPRESSED DEPORTIVO Deportivo lost its second straight match under new coach Clarence Seedorf after falling at Alaves 1-0. Deportivo remained in the relegation zone as its winless streak reached nine rounds......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnFeb 18th, 2018

Chelsea looks for another good showing at Camp Nou

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Few teams have caused as much trouble for Barcelona as Chelsea since Lionel Messi started playing with the Spanish club almost 15 years ago. Barcelona has been dominant with Messi against nearly every opponent it has faced in Europe. But not against Chelsea. The English club is even used to doing well against Barcelona at Camp Nou Stadium, where the teams will meet Wednesday in the second leg of their last-16 series in the Champions League. Chelsea is unbeaten against Barcelona in eight matches, with four straight draws at Camp Nou. Barcelona earned a 1-1 draw in the first match in England thanks to a late away goal by Messi, who had never scored against the Premier League club. "It will be a hard match just like in the away leg," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. "They have a strong team that defends well in a block and has a great counterattack. We will struggle." Barcelona has been thriving again this season. Its only loss came against Real Madrid in its first match of the season in the Spanish Super Cup final. It has won 18 of its last 20 home matches since then, with two draws — 2-2 against Celta Vigo and 0-0 against Getafe in the Spanish league. "We have to show great resilience," Chelsea coach Antonio Conte said. "We are playing against one of the best teams in the world. We must pay great attention and have the same focus and concentration of the first leg." This is the first time Chelsea and Barcelona are facing each other in the Champions League since the semifinals in 2012, when the English club advanced 3-2 on aggregate after securing an astonishing 2-2 draw in the second leg at Camp Nou, after trailing 2-0 with 10 men for most of the match. Chelsea also drew at Camp Nou in the Champions League semifinals in 2009, as well as in the group stage of the 2006-07 season and the round of 16 a year earlier. Chelsea is trying to make the quarterfinals for the first time since 2014, when eliminated by Atletico Madrid in the semis. Barcelona is looking to reach the last eight for a record 11th straight time. The Spanish league leaders are coming off a 2-0 win at last-place Malaga on Saturday, when Messi didn't play because of the birth of his third son, Ciro. It remains unclear if Valverde will be able to count on midfielder Andres Iniesta on Wednesday because of a hamstring injury. Here's a look at the other matches this week: ___ MAN UNITED-SEVILLA Jose Mourinho may be faced with a dilemma when Manchester United hosts Sevilla on Tuesday. With Paul Pogba ruled out of United's Premier League victory over Liverpool on Saturday, Mourinho's side finally managed to find the balance it has been lacking in recent weeks. If the France midfielder is available, Mourinho would have to drop Juan Mata or 21-year-old Scott McTominay to make room for him. United, which drew the first leg 0-0 in Seville, is trying to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2013-14. "The next game is very important for us, maybe the most important game of the season," United midfielder Nemanja Matic said. Sevilla is trying to make the quarterfinals for the first time. ___ ROMA-SHAKHTAR Roma will be hoping it has turned its poor home form around when it hosts Shakhtar Donetsk needing to overturn a 2-1 defeat. Roma beat Torino 3-0 on Friday for what was only its second win at Stadio Olimpico since mid-December. "Mentally, the lads felt a bit of pressure because we hadn't won at the Olimpico for a while — and I could see that," Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco said. "Today's win shows that we've cleared the hurdle now." ___ BESIKTAS-BAYERN Besiktas is dreaming of becoming the first team to overturn a five-goal deficit in the UEFA competition when it hosts Bayern Munich on Wednesday, although restoring its pride will likely be enough after a chastening 5-0 first-leg defeat in Munich. The Turkish champion, playing in the knockout rounds of the Champions League for the first time, is hoping to extend its 12-game unbeaten run at home in European competitions. Bayern has made it to the Champions League quarterfinals six years in a row, but hasn't won the title since coach Jupp Heynckes' previous stint in 2013, when he led the side to a treble. It warmed up for its trip to Istanbul with a 6-0 rout of Hamburger SV on Saturday. "You can never hide in football, you can never take it easy," said Heynckes, who has 25 wins and just one defeat in 27 games across all competitions since returning to Bayern. ___ Associated Press writers Ciaran Fahey, Daniella Matar and Sam Johnston contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 12th, 2018

Fabregas almost creates winner as Monaco draws at Marseille

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Cesc Fabregas almost had a dream debut for Monaco in the French league only for teammate Youri Tielemans to waste a late golden chance in a 1-1 draw at Marseille on Sunday. Despite only signing from Premier League Chelsea on Friday, Fabregas went straight into the team and added poise and assurance to Monaco's midfield. In the first minute of injury time, Fabregas cleverly chipped the ball over the Marseille defense, only for Tielemans to drag his shot wide. Watching from the sideline, Monaco coach Thierry Henry could barely contain his frustration. Still, it was an important point for 19th-placed Monaco in its relegation fight. Next up for Henry's Monaco is eighth-placed Nice at home on Wednesday, a match which pits Henry against his former Arsenal and France teammate Patrick Vieira, who is now coach of Nice. Both Henry and Vieira were also teammates of Fabregas when he started his Arsenal career late in 2003. The 31-year-old Fabregas went on to become one of the finest midfielders in the Premier League with Arsenal and Chelsea. He won league titles with Chelsea and with Barcelona, as well as winning the World Cup and two European Championships with Spain. He could prove a vital signing for Henry. It was another midfielder, Maxime Lopez, who put Marseille ahead with a low strike in the 13th minute. Marseille sat back waiting for halftime and was punished in the 38th when Belgium midfielder Tielemans swept home his fifth goal of the league season, following good work down the left by midfielder Aleksandr Golovin. Golovin was one of Russia's World Cup stars last year and should have put Monaco ahead in the 51st, but he sliced his shot wide after latching onto new signing Fode Ballo-Toure's excellent pass from the left. Monaco appeared to pay for that miss when Marseille winger Florian Thauvin pounced from close range in the 70th after goalkeeper Diego Benaglio saved a shot from Lucas Ocampos. But referee Mikael Lesage ruled out the goal following a video review for an apparent foul by Ocampos on Benaglio as they challenged for the ball, even though it looked accidental. Henry is still finding his feet in his first managerial role, and this was evident when he took off Ballo-Toure midway through the second half when he was one of Monaco's best players. Thauvin headed over seconds from the end as ninth-placed Marseille almost snatched a win. MONTPELLIER MISSES OUT Montpellier missed the chance to move up to third place after drawing 1-1 at relegation-threatened Dijon. Defender Damien Le Tallec earned a point for Montpellier with a 61st-minute equalizer, shortly after striker Wesley Said put 18th-placed Dijon ahead in new coach Antoine Kombouare's first game in charge. Montpellier's draw leaves it fifth and two points ahead of sixth-placed Strasbourg, which has played a game more. Defending champion Paris Saint-Germain is 13 points clear of second-placed Lille, having played two games less, with Lyon 17 points behind PSG in third place. Strasbourg kept its consistent start to the season with a 2-1 win at Toulouse. Midfielder Ibrahima Sissoko grabbed the winner midway through the second half. RENNES WINS AGAIN Defender Damien Da Silva was involved at both ends of the field as seventh-placed Rennes won 1-0 at Nantes. He put Rennes ahead with a glancing header from forward Hatem Ben Arfa's free kick after 13 minutes. Ben Arfa has set up both his goals this season. With Nantes pushing for an equalizer during a frantic second half, Da Silva appeared to block a goal-bound shot with his arm. Claims for a penalty were dismissed by referee Ruddy Buquet, whose video assistants either did not spot the infraction or deemed it an accidental handball. Then, in the closing stages, Da Silva made a legitimate block to keep Nantes at bay. Earlier, Buquet had consulted VAR to rule out a sixth-minute Nantes goal from defender Diego Carlos for a handball. Rennes coach Julien Stephan — who is the son of France's World Cup-winning assistant coach Guy Stephan — has made a great start to his fledgling managerial career with four straight league wins. This hard-fought victory ensured continued bragging rights for Rennes over 11th-placed Nantes, which has not beaten Rennes at home in 14 years......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2019

Monaco signs experienced midfielder Fabregas from Chelsea

MONACO (AP) — Struggling Monaco has boosted its relegation fight by signing experienced midfielder Cesc Fabregas from Chelsea until June 2022. The deal reunites Fabregas with Thierry Henry, who played with Fabregas at Arsenal and is now Monaco's coach. Fabregas has been used to being near the top of the league during spells with Arsenal, Barcelona and Chelsea. But with Monaco it will be totally different as he goes straight into a relegation scrap, with Henry's side mired in 19th place ahead of Sunday's trip to face sixth-place Marseille. Given Monaco's precarious position, and his ability and experience, Fabregas could go straight into the side. "It's a great pleasure to join Monaco, a new project for me," Fabregas said. "I'm here to help the team and I'm impatient to start. We have a big game against Marseille on Sunday, I'm very excited." After starting out with Arsenal as a roaming attacking midfielder with a clinical eye for goal and a deft pass, Fabregas moved into a deeper-lying position over the years where his vision of the game and outstanding passing range helped him to remain influential in games with Chelsea. But he was not a regular this season for the Premier League side under its new Italian coach Maurizio Sarri. Last Saturday, an emotional Fabregas applauded Chelsea's home fans at Stamford Bridge after making his last appearance for the club in an FA Cup match against Nottingham Forest. The 31-year-old Fabregas is young enough to be considered a big signing for Monaco and he could have a major bearing on the club's chances of staying up. Avoiding serious injury helped him to play around 650 club games and to score 121 goals — winning league titles with Barcelona and Chelsea and domestic Cup competitions with all three sides. He also played over 100 times for Spain, winning two European Championships and one World Cup. Henry has signed two defenders so far during the transfer window: 22-year-old Fode Ballo-Toure from Lille and 36-year-old Brazilian Naldo from Schalke. But a move for midfielder William Vainqueur from Turkish club Antalyaspor fell through, after he failed a medical due Thursday to a calf problem......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 12th, 2019

Next Invincibles? Maybe, if rampant City can see off Chelsea

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press They've won at Wembley Stadium and Emirates Stadium. They've ground out a draw at Anfield. They've demolished their fierce local rivals at home. The barriers to Manchester City's players emulating Arsenal's from 2004 and going a full English Premier League unbeaten are gradually being removed. Avoid defeat at Chelsea on Saturday and the chances of City becoming the latest "Invincibles" will be hiked up even further. It would not just be the manner in which the team has been swatting aside most of its opponents in its 15-match undefeated start that would be pointed to. More the fact that City will have played all of its biggest rivals away from home and still kept that clean record intact. Pep Guardiola's team didn't even concede a goal in away games to Arsenal (2-0), Tottenham (1-0) and Liverpool (0-0), taking a total of seven points from those fixtures. After visiting Chelsea, City will have played all of its toughest games and almost half the league campaign will have gone. Unsurprisingly, Guardiola brushed off talk of finishing the season unbeaten. "I don't care about that," Guardiola said on Friday. "Believe me, it is the least important thing. I don't care. It's just the next game." Yet somehow, City is managing to raise the bar after a season when it broke Premier League records for most points (100), most wins (32), most goals (106), biggest goal difference (pus 79) and biggest title-winning margin (19 points). The team is averaging exactly three goals per game and has conceded only seven. All of this with probably its best player — Kevin De Bruyne — missing for the majority of the season because of injury, and playing without a genuine left back for some of it with Benjamin Mendy also having spells out. Chelsea coach Maurizio Sarri as good as threw the towel in on Friday when asked if City could be stopped this season. "It's impossible to beat them in a long period, of course, in this moment," said the Italian, who described City as "maybe the best in the world. But in a match, everything can happen." A difference this season is that City has some company at the summit. Liverpool is only two points back in second place and also is unbeaten after its first 15 games. There are doubts over whether Liverpool, which hasn't won a trophy of any kind since 2012 and a league title since 1990, can last the duration of the title race but a defensive improvement in Juergen Klopp's team will make Liverpool hard to beat. An interesting aspect this weekend is that, unlike in recent rounds in the Premier League, Liverpool plays first — in a lunchtime game at Bournemouth on Saturday — so can apply some pressure with a victory at Vitality Stadium. City still has to play away to Manchester United, which it overwhelmed in a 3-1 win at home last month, while a trip to an Everton side rejuvenated under Marco Silva should also be a test. Otherwise, the rest of City's most difficult remaining matches come at Etihad Stadium where the team has won all eight of its games so far, scoring 30 goals in the process. It was a dominant win at Chelsea — albeit by a scoreline of only 1-0 — that first made Guardiola feel City would produce something special last season. In his first season in charge, City struggled in big games away from home. "That, I think, was the first day we believed in ourselves, me included, to say, 'OK, we can go away on the biggest stage and win." The fact that Chelsea has started to stutter in the league, losing two of its last three games, makes City an even bigger favorite this weekend, although Guardiola said Sergio Aguero and De Bruyne would be missing again because of injury. "How are they going to react after losing two games?" Guardiola asked of Chelsea. "I can imagine how intense, how aggressive and how committed they will be. That's why it's a good test for us. I will welcome that.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 8th, 2018

PSG aims to avoid early elimination in Champions League

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Paris Saint-Germain's hopes of breaking through in European soccer could end earlier than usual this season. A loss against Liverpool on Wednesday in Paris, coupled with a home win by Napoli over Red Star, would keep PSG from making it out of the group stage in the Champions League. And that would be a significant setback for the big-spending French team desperately trying to assert itself as a world-class club. It would be the first time PSG failed to reach the tournament's knockout round since 2011-12, after Qatar Sports Investments took over the club with the goal of turning it into a top contender. PSG was eliminated in the round of 16 last season, after reaching the quarterfinals four straight years before that. Failure this time would hurt PSG in its second season since signing Brazil star Neymar for 222 million euros from Barcelona in an attempt to increase its chances of succeeding in Europe. PSG enters the crucial match at Parc des Princes with five points in Group C, one behind leaders Liverpool and Napoli. A victory would put the French club back in position to advance depending on its own results. "It's a decisive match in a very, very complicated group," PSG coach Thomas Tuchel told French broadcaster TF1. The good news for Tuchel is that Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, who had been sidelined because of injuries, are expected to be available for the home match against Liverpool. A look at the four Champions League groups on Wednesday: GROUP A Atletico Madrid and Borussia Dortmund lead the group and have a chance to secure places in the knockout round in advance. Dortmund needs a draw at Club Brugge, while Atletico needs a home win against Monaco. Atletico can also advance if Club Brugge loses points against Dortmund, which is coming off a blistering start to the season under new coach Lucien Favre. The only setback for Favre so far was the 2-0 loss at Atletico in the team's previous Champions League appearance. Paco Alcacer, signed on a permanent basis from Barcelona on Friday, scored again on Saturday in a win over Mainz, taking his league tally to nine goals in seven appearances. GROUP B Harry Kane kept Tottenham's Champions League hopes alive with a late double to sink PSV Eindhoven in the last round of games. Now the striker has some back-up as his team tries to complete an unlikely recovery to qualify from Group B. Tottenham has struggled for attacking fluency this season, mainly because attacking midfielders Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli have been missing at times because of injury. They appear to be fully fit now and were superb in Tottenham's win over Chelsea in the Premier League on Saturday, a 3-1 win that might have been its best display of the season. Spurs need to beat Inter Milan at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday to keep alive ambitions of a top-two finish. That would leave the teams tied on seven points. Tottenham would still likely require a win at already-qualified Barcelona to advance, given that Inter closes group play at home to last-place PSV. Barcelona, without Rafinha, Luis Suarez and Arthur because of injuries, has a three-point advantage at the top and will clinch first place in the group with a win over PSV, or a draw if Inter does not beat Tottenham. GROUP C Victories by Liverpool and Napoli would lock up the group which has proven to be the tightest of the Champions League. Napoli, the group's only unbeaten team with three draws and one win, hosts a Red Star team which still has chances of advancing in its return to the tournament's group stage after 26 years. The Serbian club has four points, one fewer than Paris Saint-Germain and two fewer than Napoli and Liverpool. Red Star held Napoli to a 0-0 draw at home in the first round, but then conceded 10 goals in losses against PSG (6-1) and Liverpool (4-0). Liverpool, which beat PSG at home, lost 2-0 to Red Star in its previous Champions League match, but it is coming off two straight wins in the Premier League. PSG, cruising in the French league, beat Liverpool 3-0 the only other time the teams met in Paris, nearly two decades ago. GROUP D Group leader Porto hosts second-place Schalke in a match in which a draw could be enough for both clubs to advance. They would clinch a spot in the knockout stage with a draw if Galatasaray fails to win its match at already eliminated Lokomotiv Moscow. A victory would secure first place for Porto, which has won eight straight entering the match at its Estadio do Dragao. Porto is trying to make it to the round of 16 for the third straight season. The Portuguese champion has 10 points, two more than Schalke and six more than Galatasaray. Porto and Schalke are the only unbeaten teams in the group. Schalke hasn't made it to the knockout stage since 2014-15. ___ Associated Press writers John Leicester, Ciaran Fahey and Steve Douglas contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 27th, 2018

Mourinho enters calm spell as Man United wins 2-0 at Burnley

LONDON (AP) — After the furor that followed straight Premier League defeats for Manchester United, Jose Mourinho's team produced a routine 2-0 victory over Burnley on Sunday. Romelu Lukaku's first-half double put United in control before the second half briefly took a dramatic turn when Burnley goalkeeper Joe Hart saved Paul Pogba's penalty kick and substitute Marcus Rashford was sent off for violent conduct only 11 minutes after coming on. "Even with 10 men for 15 minutes the team was the team that had the chances to score," Mourinho said. "We are all very happy that the boys can go for their international week with the feeling (of winning)." Tottenham, which set alarm bells ringing at Old Trafford by winning 3-0 there six days ago, was unable to carry that momentum to Watford, which came from behind to secure a 2-1 victory at Vicarage Road. Watford has won all four of its Premier League games and joins Liverpool and Chelsea with a maximum total of 12 points at the top of the table. Arsenal, meanwhile, joined United on six points as it secured a first away victory under Unai Emery with an entertaining 3-2 win at newly promoted Cardiff. After storming out of his news conference following United's defeat to Tottenham, demanding "respect, respect" from the media, Mourinho was much calmer ahead of his side's trip to Burnley, and the approach may have brought rewards on the field. Mourinho will have been especially pleased by United's improved defensive performance as it claimed a first clean sheet of the league season. Both the Portuguese and his squad will enter the international break with confidence that United's worst Premier League start for 26 years is firmly behind them. SMALL DRAMAS The only dramas for United this time concerned Pogba's penalty miss and Rashford's red card, but Mourinho wasn't critical of either. After Rashford was fouled in the box, Pogba — who has already scored two penalties this season — had his spot kick saved by Hart. "I never blame a player for missing penalties," Mourinho told BBC Sport. "I blame the ones who refuse to go up there. Paul's scored some good ones for us." The frustration of the penalty miss appeared to affect Rashford more than Pogba and within a minute of the miss the England striker had been sent off. Burnley defender Phil Bardsley tackled Rashford before kicking him in the aftermath of the challenge. Rashford attempted to take matters into his own hands, pushing his forehead into Bardsley's face, and was sent off. "I would say it was naive," Mourinho said. "It was a kid and a very experienced man. Bardsley's been in the game for 20 years and Marcus is a naive boy." SPURS STUNNED With Tottenham having taken the headlines last round with a statement victory over Manchester United, some seemed to forget that both teams held perfect records as Spurs made the short trip to face Watford on Sunday. By the end, there was only one perfect record to talk about — Watford's. The win for Javi Gracia's team was made all the more impressive by the fact Spurs took the lead shortly after halftime, as Abdoulaye Doucoure found his own net as he attempted to clear Lucas Moura's cross. The usually reliable Spurs defense would have been confident of seeing out victory from there, but was undone in the simplest fashion. Troy Deeney and Craig Cathcart both headed in set pieces in the space of seven minutes to turn the match around and keep Watford level with Liverpool and Chelsea at the top of the table. GUNNERS DUO STRIKE It's still early days in Emery's reign as Arsenal manager, but Sunday's win at Cardiff may prove a pivotal moment for the Spaniard. For the first time this season he opted to include both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette in his starting lineup and was rewarded with a first away victory in the Premier League. While there are still major defensive concerns for Arsenal, the play of the strike duo suggests Emery has a combination that will cause problems for any defense. Shkodran Mustafi gave Arsenal an early lead before Victor Camarasa leveled with Cardiff's first goal of the season in first-half stoppage time. Aubameyang struck after the break as Lacazette flicked the ball into his path, allowing the Gabon forward to find the bottom corner from outside the box. However, Arsenal was pegged back once more as Danny Ward headed the home side level with 20 minutes remaining. Not to be denied, the inspired Lacazette hit an unstoppable effort in at the near post with nine minutes remaining to finally see off Cardiff, which is still looking for a first win of the season......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 2nd, 2018

Belgium, team of tomorrow, hopes to finally win now

By Ronald Blum, Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — Belgium is the team of tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. De Rode Duivels, as the Red Devils are known, have been playing for 114 years and remain in search of their first major title. A polyglot known for waffles, chocolate and beer, the nation of 11 million hopes for soccer to join the national identity, boosted by a golden generation that includes Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bryune. Belief is growing. Philippe, King of the Belgians, was on hand wearing a bright red tie and team scarf. "Belgium is a small country, you know? So we're very happy that we have this kind of talent," defender Toby Alderweireld said after Saturday's 5-2 rout of Tunisia all but clinched a round-of-16 World Cup berth. "Hopefully we can do something special." Lukaku tied Cristiano Ronaldo for the tournament lead with four goals, becoming the first with consecutive two-goal games in the World Cup since Diego Maradona and Gary Lineker in 1986. Hazard also scored twice , and Michy Batshuayi added a 90th-minute goal after failing to convert a trio of prime chances. Belgium opened with a 3-0 victory over Panama and has an 8-2 goal difference. Ranked third in the world behind defending champion Germany and Brazil, the Red Devils have become a chic choice to join the exclusive club of eight World Cup winners: Brazil (five), Germany and Italy (four), Argentina and Uruguay (two), and England, France and Spain (one). "Belgium was not the favorite because of the history of the country — and especially the history of the other countries," said former Dutch midfielder Clarence Seedorf, now a Fox analyst. "They're growing. Also, they're playing with important team spirit. So for me, it's not really a big surprise what they're doing at the moment." Training is conducted in English under Spanish coach Roberto Martinez, who spent a decade managing in England. Postgame interviews sound like a corridor at European Union headquarters in Brussels, with players alternating among English, French, Dutch and Spanish. Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has picked up a Scouse accent after five seasons with Liverpool. Seventeen of the 23 players were on Champions League clubs last season, a glamorous group that includes Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain. "That gives them the confidence and the experience to play at the highest level. That is what a World Cup is about," Mignolet said. "For us, it's now the third tournament in a row where we play, which gives you the experience, so nobody's really fussed about the occasion anymore. Maybe the two tournaments were a bit different where we arrived and we were thinking about what was going to happen. Everything was new." After completing the group stage against England on Thursday, Belgium would face Colombia, Poland, Senegal or Japan in the second round, and then could have a possible quarterfinal against Germany, Brazil or Mexico. Since losing their first match under Martinez to Spain two years ago, Belgium is unbeaten in 21 games (16 wins) and has outscored opponents 72-17 during the run. But while outscoring Panama and Tunisia by 8-2, the defense and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois looked like they could be exploited by better opposition. "Today what I saw is a team that it was prepared to suffer, prepared to work for each other, and we look well-balanced in that respect," Martinez said. "So when you've got that, then the individuals can show their talent." Lukaku has 15 goals in his last 10 international matches but left in the 59th minute after injuring an ankle ligament. Hazard came off nine minutes later with a calf problem, and forward Dries Mertens came out in the 86th after an ankle issue. Belgium came closest to a title at the 1980 European Championship, losing 2-1 to a German team that got a pair of goals from Horst Hrubesch. It has reached semifinals twice at major events, losing 2-1 to West Germany at the 1972 Euros and to Maradona's Argentina at the 1986 World Cup. After missing two straight World Cups, the Red Devils returned four years ago, beat the U.S. in extra time in the round of 16, then lost to Argentina in the quarters. At the 2016 Euros, they wasted an early lead in a 3-1 quarterfinal loss to Wales. Given the past and the sound and fury that would follow any misstep, Martinez wants to manage expectations. "To be a favorite in a World Cup, you need to have the know-how of winning a World Cup," he said. "The World Cup is something that probably gives you an advantage psychologically when you've won it before.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 24th, 2018

Atletico celebrates Europa League title on streets of Madrid

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Thousands of fans lined the streets to salute Atletico Madrid players as they paraded through the Spanish capital Friday to celebrate the team's Europa League triumph. Players, coaches and club officials met with the city mayor and the community president before parading through some of the city's main roads and plazas on an open bus. They ended the night on the Fountain of Neptune — the club's traditional celebration spot — where a stage and large screens were set up to welcome the players. Each team member was introduced to loud chants from the crowd packing the plaza, and the team's captain Gabi and other players draped an Atletico scarf around the Neptune statue. Antoine Griezmann heard fans and his teammates call for him to stay at the club for another season. Griezmann, who scored twice in the team's 3-0 win over Marseille on Wednesday, is rumored to be on his way out of Atletico. Barcelona is reportedly interested in signing the France forward. Fernando Torres, one of the club's greatest idols, is definitely leaving at the end of the season. The veteran forward received some of the loudest cheers from the crowd, along with popular coach Diego Simeone. "I've won a lot of things in my career, but without a doubt this is the best one," said the 34-year-old Torres, who won a Champions League trophy with Chelsea plus two European Championships and a World Cup with Spain. "I remember when I was an 11-year-old and I was here as a fan celebrating the team's double in 1996. At the time I had a dream of one day being here where I am right now. To all kids who have a dream, nothing is impossible, especially if you are an Atletico fan." Atletico president Enrique Cerezo, in a speech after meeting with local officials, proudly foresaw Atletico "playing the Champions League final in our stadium" next year. The final will be held at the club's Wanda Metropolitano Stadium. "We want to be back here in a year celebrating the title," he said. Atletico was eliminated in the group stage of the Champions League this year after having lost two finals to city rival Real Madrid in 2014 and 2016. Atletico needs a home draw against Eibar on Sunday to secure second place in the Spanish league, behind champion Barcelona. Atletico's women's team, which won the Spanish league, paraded along with the men's team. Thousands of Atletico fans had already packed the Fountain of Neptune plaza shortly after the team won its third Europa League title......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 19th, 2018

2018 WORLD CUP: Germany gets reality check before defense

By Ciaran Fahey, Associated Press BERLIN (AP) — Germany coasted through World Cup qualifying with 10 wins out of 10 and a European record 43 goals before getting a reality check. The World Cup holders haven't won any matches since qualifying for Russia. After drawing friendlies against England, France and Spain, Joachim Loew's team lost 1-0 to Brazil to end a 22-game unbeaten run. Becoming the first team since Brazil in 1962 to defend their World Cup title now looks even trickier for the Germans. "We're not as good as we're made out to be, or as some think we are," midfielder Toni Kroos said. "There's huge room for improvement." The recent slump in friendly matches could be a blessing in disguise if it eradicates any complacency going into the World Cup. "I'm not worried. In 2014 and 2010 we also lost in March," Loew said. "You can be sure that we'll improve." The first task for Loew's side will be to top Group F to avoid a likely second-round clash against Brazil. Here's a closer look at the Germany team: COACH Loew was assistant coach to Juergen Klinsmann during Germany's "summer fairytale" hosting of the 2006 World Cup and was promoted to the top job after its third-place finish. Loew favors a fast-paced possession-based game, pressing opponents to recover the ball and switching quickly from defense to attack. He has overseen steady progress since taking over, reaching the final of the 2008 European Championship, claiming third place at the 2010 World Cup and reaching the semifinals at Euro 2012 before finally winning a title in convincing fashion at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. A disappointing semifinal exit to France at Euro 2016 followed, but Loew laid the groundwork for a successful World Cup title defense by winning the Confederations Cup with a young team of promising talent last year in Russia. Loew hasn't been afraid to test young talent, and Germany's strength in depth means one of his hardest tasks is leaving players out of the 23-man squad. Loew also has the unfortunate tendency to find himself in the headlines for other reasons. The 58-year-old has previously apologized after being caught on camera picking his nose or in other compromising positions during games. GOALKEEPERS The biggest concern is captain Manuel Neuer's fitness. The Bayern Munich goalkeeper sustained a repeat of the hairline metatarsal fracture in his left foot while training last September and hasn't played since. Marc-Andre ter Stegen could well establish himself as the No. 1 with doubts over Neuer's fitness. The Barcelona goalkeeper has overcome a shaky start to his international career and helped Germany win the Confederations Cup. Bernd Leno of Bayer Leverkusen and Kevin Trapp of Paris Saint-Germain are also options, while Sven Ulreich has been filling in impressively for Neuer at Bayern. DEFENDERS Bayern defender Jerome Boateng faces a race to be fit with a thigh injury sustained in the Champions League semifinals against Real Madrid in April. Bayern teammate Niklas Suele would be an able replacement to partner Mats Hummels in the center. Another Bayern player, Joshua Kimmich, has emerged to soften the blow of Philipp Lahm's retirement at right back. The modest Jonas Hector will likely keep his place on the left despite Cologne's relegation. MIDFIELDERS Toni Kroos will be among the first names on Loew's team sheet. The Real Madrid midfielder is the driving force behind the side. He will likely be partnered by Juventus' Sami Khedira, who provides more of a defensive presence, with Mesut Ozil in front, flanked on either side by Thomas Mueller and Marco Reus — if the latter proves his fitness. Reus has been unlucky with injuries and has only recently returned to shine again for Dortmund. But Germany has a wealth of options in midfield, with Ilkay Gundogan, Leon Goretzka, Leroy Sane, Julian Draxler, Julian Weigl and Julian Brandt all providing ample backup options. FORWARDS Timo Werner seems sure of his place after another good season for Leipzig, albeit with most of his goals in the first half of the campaign. The 22-year-old Werner has seven goals in 12 international appearances, but it's his runs into space and the problems he causes defenders that benefit the team. Loew will likely bring one of Mario Gomez or Sandro Wagner as a more experienced option for Werner, while Mario Goetze is another option to play up front if he gets recalled following a disappointing season for Dortmund. Goetze scored the winning goal for Germany to beat Argentina in the 2014 final. GROUP GAMES Germany kicks off its title defense near its tournament base in Moscow at the Luzhniki Stadium against Mexico on June 17. The side then faces a long trip south to Sochi for its second game against Sweden on June 23, before wrapping up Group F against South Korea in Kazan four days later......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 30th, 2018

2018 WORLD CUP: Argentina s destiny tied to Messi

By Debora Rey, Associated Press BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Without Lionel Messi, would Argentina even be going to the World Cup? The team’s destiny is more closely tied to the Barcelona forward than ever before. There are plenty of doubts for coach Jorge Sampaoli ahead of the tournament in Russia. Defender Javier Mascherano is reaching the end of his career, while striker Sergio Aguero and midfielder Lucas Biglia both experienced injury problems recently. Paulo Dybala is yet to deliver for his country despite all the promise on display at Juventus. Much of the squad also carries the burden of mass disappointment, following three successive losses in finals: the 2014 World Cup, the 2015 Copa America and 2016 Copa America Centenario. Argentina secured its spot in Russia in the last round of South American qualifiers thanks to Messi’s hat trick against Ecuador. The deficiencies in the team were underscored in a 6-1 loss to Spain in a friendly in March. Here’s a closer look at the Argentina team: COACH The 58-year-old Sampaoli took over in June 2017 to replace Edgardo Bauza when Argentina was on the verge of missing a World Cup spot. Sampaoli was never a footballer and didn’t manage a first division club at home, developing his career in Peru and then Chile. His success at Universidad de Chile pushed him to the Chilean national team in 2012. At the 2014 World Cup, Sampaoli’s Chile reached the round of 16 but lost to host Brazil on penalties. But a year later, Chile won its first-ever title while hosting the Copa America. Sampaoli’s first experience in European football came with Sevilla in 2016, but he quickly left to carry Argentina to the World Cup in its last four games of the South American qualifiers. Drawing inspiration from Marcelo Bielsa, Sampaoli likes his teams to attack as a block to impose their superiority. But Argentina is still to implement his style after 10 matches. GOALKEEPERS Sergio Romero was set to be Argentina’s No. 1 in his third World Cup. But River Plate’s Franco Armani has become a competitor. Although Romero has World Cup experience, being David de Gea’s understudy at Manchester United hasn’t given him much playing time. Armani has not played for Argentina, but is now a people’s favorite at home. The team’s other options are Nahuel Guzman (Tigres, Mexico) and Wilfredo Caballero (Chelsea). DEFENDERS Manchester City center back Nicolas Otamendi is the only player assured of a spot in the backline, with a likely partner in Roma’s Federico Fazio. Marcos Rojo (Manchester United) and Ramiro Funes Mori (Everton) are still improving after being sidelined with knee injuries. Gabriel Mercado (Sevilla) and Marcos Acuna (Sporting Lisboa) are ahead in the preferences to be on the right and left flanks, respectively, with Fabricio Bustos (Independiente) and Nicolas Tagliafico (Ajax) behind. MIDFIELDERS Until the dismal loss to Spain, Sampaoli’s preferred option in the center was Lucas Biglia, but the AC Milan player will be racing to be fit for the World Cup after injuring his back. Biglia’s injury raises the stakes for veteran Javier Mascherano, who will go to his fourth World Cup at the age of 33. The lack of better options should present opportunities to Ever Banega (Sevilla) and Manuel Lanzini (West Ham). Giovani Lo Celso (Paris Saint-Germain), Eduardo Salvio (Benfica), Maximiliano Meza (Independiente) and Matias Kranevitter (Zenit) could also feature. FORWARDS Expect Messi and Angel Di Maria to make the team sheet. Aguero is expected to be center forward, but Sampaoli has to consider other options since the Manchester City forward injured his knee. Juventus’ Gonzalo Higuain is an option, but he was wasteful in the three finals Argentina lost. Inter Milan’s Mauro Icardi could make it to the squad due to the doubts over Aguero. Juventus’ Dybala has never recovered from saying it was hard for him to play with the best player in the world. Sampaoli now considers him as a natural replacement for Messi or a potential No. 9. GROUP GAMES Based in the Moscow region, Argentina opens its Group D campaign in the capital against Iceland on June 16. Then there’s a trip to Nizhny Novgorod to play Croatia on June 21, followed by a meeting with Nigeria in St. Petersburg on June 26......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 28th, 2018

Best in history Ronaldo put to test by Messi in clasico

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo has made his claim. Now he has to live up to it. Ronaldo will face Lionel Messi on Saturday for the first time since the Portugal forward declared himself “the best player in the history” of soccer after equaling the Argentine’s five Ballon d’Or awards this month. Basking in the spotlight of a glitzy ceremony under the Eiffel Tower, Ronaldo felt confident enough to put himself at the pinnacle of the sport, ahead of Messi and other greats like Pele and Diego Maradona. “You will go and say that I have a big head, but when you’re at the top, it’s normal that you’re criticized,” he told France Football. “I am the best player in history, in both good and bad times.” Personalities aside, Ronaldo has a tough case to make. He and Messi both have four Champions League titles, but Messi’s eight Spanish league titles double Ronaldo’s tally for Madrid and Manchester United. Messi also has the edge in their head-to-head duels. Messi has outscored Ronaldo 19-17 since Ronaldo joined Madrid in 2009. Prior to that, Messi scored in a 2-0 win over Ronaldo’s Manchester United in the 2009 Champions League final. The Barcelona-led Messi has also had a clear advantage over Ronaldo’s Madrid. Messi has helped Barcelona beat Ronaldo’s side 13 times, to eight wins for Madrid and seven draws. Overall, Messi holds the “clasico” record with 24 goals in 36 matches. Ronaldo is one goal shy of matching Madrid great Alfredo Di Stefano’s 18 goals against Barcelona. The camera-shy Messi insisted again on Monday when he was recognized for leading the Spanish league in goals last campaign that he put more value on team titles than individual honors. “Titles are our goal,” Messi said. “If individual statistics are there also, that’s even better, but they are not the objective.” Ronaldo has no doubt closed the gap with Messi after he led Madrid to back-to-back Champions League titles in the last two seasons. But for Atletico Madrid striker Fernando Torres, this past decade is still set to bear Messi’s mark. “If it wasn’t for (Ronaldo), Messi would have won twice as much,” Torres said Wednesday. “What Ronaldo has done in the age of Messi says a lot about him.” Ronaldo will need to be at his best on Saturday because anything other than a victory will deal a huge blow to Madrid’s title defense before the season reaches its midway point. Madrid enters the match in fourth place and trailing Barcelona by 11 with a match in hand. Atletico Madrid and Valencia are in second and third. “Given the situation we are in we are obligated to win,” Madrid defender Sergio Ramos said. Messi had one of his most memorable performances at Madrid last season when he scored his second of two brilliant goals in stoppage time to silence the Santiago Bernabeu. Madrid got revenge with wins of 3-1 and 2-0 in the Spanish Super Cup in August, when Barcelona was reeling from the departure of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain. Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde, however, quickly rallied his team and the Catalan club has not lost since, a run of 24 matches. With Neymar gone, Valverde has succeeded in tightening up Barcelona’s defense. “It would be important to win for everything that would represent, since the match is so special, and we are playing at their ground,” Messi said. “There would still be a long way to go for the league title, but a victory would be a nice before the Christmas break.” Here are some other potential keys to the “clasico.” ___ SUAREZ Striker Luis Suarez has rediscovered his scoring touch at just the right time for Barcelona. After only scoring three times in the first 11 matches, Suarez has six goals in his last five league games. They will need him even more with backup forwards Paco Alcacer and Gerard Deulofeu injured. ___ BENZEMA Karim Benzema has only scored two goals in 11 league appearances for Madrid this season. The drop in production has contributed to Madrid’s stumbles, leading many fans to lament the exit of Alvaro Morata to Chelsea. ___ ALBA Jordi Alba has flourished going forward into the hole that Neymar used to occupy. The Spain left back is a favorite of Messi to weave together short-passing combinations that unlock packed defenses. His matchup against Madrid right back Dani Carvajal should be key. ___ BALE Gareth Bale is playing for his future. Recurrent injuries have cost the Wales winger his spot in Madrid’s starting lineup, with coach Zinedine Zidane preferring the playmaking — and sturdier legs — of Francisco “Isco” Alarcon. Bale returned after his latest injury layoff to help Madrid win the Club World Cup, but as a second-half substitute. He is likely to have that role against Barcelona and will need to make the most of the minutes he gets. ___ VERMAELEN Thomas Vermaelen was considered a lost cause. That was until defenders Samuel Umtiti and Javier Mascherano got injured, giving the Belgian another chance to find his spot in Barcelona’s rotation. Vermaelen has played six consecutive matches, a personal record for him at Barcelona. Injuries limited him to 11 league appearances in two seasons before he was loaned out to Roma last year. Now that he is back, the former Arsenal player will be critical to Barcelona’s chances of stopping Ronaldo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 21st, 2017

Goals dry up for Man United as Man City delivers masterclass

em>By Steve Douglas, Associated Press /em> LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — The goals finally dried up for Manchester United in the English Premier League. They are flowing more than ever at title rival Manchester City. Hours after United's cautious approach eked out its latest 0-0 draw at Liverpool on Saturday, City produced an attacking masterclass in a 7-2 home win over Stoke — the biggest victory in the league this season. The standard of opponent was vastly different but it was hard to escape the contrast between the top two teams, who many are tipping to be vying for the title. After eight rounds, the Manchester rivals remain unbeaten but City has taken the outright lead for the first time by two points from its neighbor. City is setting new standards in attacking play: Its goal tally of 29 is the most by a team in the first eight league games of a top-flight season in 123 years, since Everton scored 30 in 1894. Before its trip to Anfield, United had 21 goals from seven games. There was finally something to celebrate for Crystal Palace, which registered its first points and goals of the season in a surprise 2-1 win over Chelsea. With Chelsea losing for the second straight game, third-placed Tottenham leads the chase to the Manchester clubs after beating Bournemouth 1-0 for a first league win at its temporary home of Wembley Stadium in four attempts. Arsenal conceded in injury time to lose 2-1 at Watford. Here's a look at Saturday's action: strong>HISTORY REPEATED /strong> Twelve months after a 0-0 draw in what has traditionally been regarded as the biggest fixture in English soccer, Liverpool and Man United played out another goalless draw at Anfield. Afterward, coaches Juergen Klopp and Jose Mourinho launched a defense of their respective footballing philosophies, aiming little digs at each other and claiming private victories. The loser was a global audience that expects more quality from England's most decorated and illustrious clubs. United defended in numbers and had goalkeeper David De Gea to thank for preserving a point in the game's most significant incident, the Spain goalkeeper sticking out his left boot to keep out Joel Matip's effort from point-blank range. Liverpool controlled possession but couldn't pierce the wall of white United jerseys set up by Mourinho, whose players carried out his game plan to the letter. strong>SLICK CITY /strong> City didn't even need top scorer Sergio Aguero in its latest attacking clinic. The Argentina striker stayed on the bench on his return to the squad after sustaining a broken rib in a car crash. He watched as City's free-scoring attack — a front three of Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling, with David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne orchestrating behind them — ran amok at Etihad Stadium. On his 100th appearance for City, De Bruyne had a hand in four of the goals — including a no-look pass in one of the build-ups and a threaded ball that took out four Stoke players for Sane to score. Gabriel Jesus scored twice and Sterling, David Silva, Fernandinho and Bernardo Silva also netted for City, which has at least five goals in its last three home league games. City has won seven of its eight games. strong>RELIEF FOR PALACE /strong> 'We're Crystal Palace, we score when we want,' sang the fans as the league's bottom club found the net for the first time this season — in its eighth game. Invariably, it was an own goal, by Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta, in the 11th minute, but it sparked a surprisingly impressive display by Palace at Selhurst Park. Tiemoue Bakayoko equalized for the champions with a header from a corner in the 18th but Palace responded on the stroke of halftime through winger Wilfried Zaha, who was back in the team for the first time since getting injured on the opening weekend. Chelsea has lost back-to-back games, having been beaten by Manchester City 1-0 before the international break, and has dropped nine points behind first-place City. strong>TOTTENHAM WINS, ARSENAL LOSES /strong> After two draws and a loss at Wembley, Tottenham finally won at its new home thanks to Christian Eriksen's goal just after halftime. Harry Kane had his first game in six without a goal. In contrast to its concerning home form, Spurs have won all four away league games. They stayed five points behind City, and trimmed the gap to United to three points. Tom Cleverley scored Watford's winner against Arsenal in the second minute of injury time, completing his team's comeback from going behind to Per Mertesacaker's goal. Troy Deeney equalized from the penalty spot. In other games, Burnley came back to draw 1-1 against West Ham, which had Andy Carroll was sent off for two bookings, and Swansea beat Huddersfield 2-0. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 15th, 2017

Atletico puts new stadium to the test in Champions League

A look at what's happening around the Champions League this week: ___ strong>ATLETICO'S HOME SUCCESS /strong> Atletico Madrid will try to extend its successful home streak when it makes its Champions League debut at the new Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on Wednesday against Chelsea. It will be Atletico's third match at the venue which replaced the Vicente Calderon Stadium, where Atletico was unbeaten in its last 11 games in the European competition. Atletico has won both of its matches at the Wanda Metropolitano — 1-0 against Malaga and 2-0 against Sevilla, both in the Spanish league 'The Metropolitano has the feel of a Roman circus,' Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. Barcelona travels to Portugal to face Sporting Lisbon on Wednesday, riding a seven-game winning streak that includes the emphatic 3-0 win over Juventus in its Champions League opener. Sporting, off to a great start in the Portuguese league, can make it two wins in a row to start its Group D campaign. On Tuesday, Sevilla will host Maribor, which is coming off its first loss of the season against Atletico Madrid. ___ strong>MOSCOW CHALLENGE /strong> The Champions League provides Russian authorities with a key test of their World Cup readiness this week, and a glimpse at the welcome fans can expect next year. Two of England's fiercest rivals, Liverpool and Manchester United, play on consecutive nights in Moscow. Liverpool is first up against Spartak Moscow on Tuesday, and CSKA Moscow plays United the following night. There isn't typically disorder when the teams — separated by about 30 miles (48 kilometers) in northwest England — meet on home soil. But since England fans were attacked by Russians at the 2016 European Championship in Marseille, concerns have heightened about hooliganism in the 2018 World Cup host nation. United and Liverpool fans have been advised by the British government not to wear club colors on the streets of Moscow and to avoid walking alone. On the pitch, United and CSKA both won their opening games in Group A. Liverpool and Spartak are chasing their first wins after starting Group E with draws. ___ strong>DORTMUND THRIVING BUT FLAWED /strong> Real Madrid heads to Germany to face on Tuesday a Borussia Dortmund side enjoying its best start to the Bundesliga. Dortmund hadn't even conceded a goal in five domestic games until Lars Stindl netted Borussia Moenchengladbach's consolation in a 6-1 rout on Saturday. While Dortmund has scored 19 goals in six league games, there is no perfection in the high pressing game. The team remains prone to lapses at the back and opponents can suddenly find themselves with wide spaces to run into behind the Dortmund defense. That happened three times alone in the first half against 'Gladbach but it didn't prove as costly as when Dortmund visited London earlier this month and lost its Group H opener against Tottenham 3-1. ___ strong>NEEDING NEYMAR /strong> A bust-up between Edinson Cavani and Neymar combined with a goalless draw at Montpellier have generated a sense of trouble at Paris Saint-Germain ahead of Bayern Munich's visit on Wednesday. Cavani and Neymar have reportedly made peace after arguing on the pitch, but PSG dropped its first points this season following a dismal performance at Montpellier that raised concerns about the side's dependence on its Brazilian star. Neymar sat out Saturday's game because of a toe injury and his absence was obvious. Facing a very defensive side which closed spaces efficiently, PSG did not find a way to break the deadlock in a 4-3-3 system that lacked rhythm and creativity. 'We need to push more in order to score goals,' PSG coach Unai Emery said. 'This match leaves us with a lot of things to analyze in order to continue our progression.' Neymar is expected to return for the Bayern game in Group B. ___ strong>ROMA'S NEGATIVE STREAK /strong> Roma will be hopeful of ending a woeful away record in the Champions League when it travels to Azerbaijan for the first time, to play Qarabag on Wednesday. Including qualifying, Roma has won only one of its past 13 matches on its travels in Europe's elite competition, with that sole victory coming against Basel in 2009. But coach Eusebio Di Francesco will be hopeful of success against Qarabag, which lost 6-0 at Chelsea in the last round. He will again look to an in-form Edin Dzeko, who netted his fifth goal in three matches in Saturday's 3-1 win over Udinese. Stephan El Shaarawy scored twice in that match and Di Francesco has described him as 'the ideal attacker' for his preferred 4-3-3 formation, which he hopes will boost Roma in Europe as well as domestically. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 25th, 2017

Barcelona gets 6th win in 6 rounds, Atletico beats Sevilla

JOSEPH WILSON, Associated Press br /> BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Girona succeeded in stopping Barcelona star Lionel Messi from scoring. If only it could have avoided its own net as well. Barcelona made it six wins in as many games in the Spanish league on Saturday when it won 3-0 at Girona thanks to a pair of own goals by the hosts. Barcelona went head in the Catalan regional derby when Girona defender Aday Benitez deflected Jordi Alba's off-target shot back into his net in the 17th minute. Barcelona's Luis Suarez and Aleix Vidal helped provoke a second goal three minutes after halftime, when Suarez deftly let Vidal's dangerous short pass go through his legs, hit surprised goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz and turned into the net. Barcelona increased its lead of the league to four points after Atletico Madrid beat Sevilla 2-0 to leapfrog the Andalucian club into second place. Sevilla is five points behind, followed by Real Madrid at seven points adrift after it won at Alaves 2-1. The decision by Girona coach Pablo Machin to man-mark Lionel Messi with Pablo Maffeo helped stop him from adding to his best ever start to a Liga. Messi scored nine goals in the first five rounds. 'I don't think that Messi was the decisive player that he usually is,' Machin said. 'We tried, but we were playing against some of the best players in the world. When you score in our own net it makes it very tough.' SUAREZ STRIKES Suarez rounded off Barcelona's victory in the 69th when he was left all alone to take Sergi Roberto's lobbed pass and beat Iraizoz. It was Suarez's second goal in six appearances this season. The Uruguay striker had been struggling this season, hampered by a right knee injury and adapting to life after the departure of attack partner Neymar. DREAM START Real Madrid turned to new midfielder Dani Ceballos to help it get back on the winning path. The midfielder made the most of his first start for Zinedine Zidane's team by scoring twice in the victory at last-place Alaves. The win came three days after Madrid lost 1-0 at home to Ceballos' former team, Real Betis. That slip combined with a pair of home draws left the defending champions trailing leader Barcelona. Ceballos received a pass from Marco Asensio, fought through a tackle, and shot just inside the post for the 10th-minute opener. Manu Garcia responded with Alaves' first goal of the season. But Ceballos put Madrid back in charge before halftime when he fired in a ball that goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco spilled when he collided with a teammate while defending a cross. Alaves almost leveled late when substitute Alfonso Pedraza twice hit the woodwork. Cristiano Ronaldo also hit the goal-frame twice in the second half as the Madrid forward seeks his first goal in the league. COSTA SPECTATES Diego Costa watched from the stands of Atletico's new Wanda Metropolitano Stadium as his soon-to-be teammates Antoine Griezmann and Yannick Carrasco scored in the second half to down Sevilla. Atletico reached a deal with Chelsea this week for Costa to return to his former club. Atletico will host Chelsea in the Champions League on Wednesday. MALAGA RALLIES Diego Rolan scored a double to help Malaga rally from a two-goal deficit in the final minutes and draw with visitor Athletic Bilbao 3-3. Malaga secured its first point of the season after it lost its first five matches. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 23rd, 2017

Rampant Manchester City looking more like a Guardiola team

em>By Sam Johnston, Associated Press /em> LONDON (AP) — Although it's taken a year longer than many expected, Manchester City is finally beginning to resemble a Pep Guardiola-coached team. City remained in rampant form as it ended Watford's unbeaten start to the English Premier League with a resounding 6-0 victory at Vicarage Road on Saturday. Guardiola's side has scored 15 goals in three matches since the international break, following 5-0 and 4-0 wins over Liverpool and Feyernood respectively. City stuttered to a third-place finish in Guardiola's debut season while failing to produce the stylish play of its manager's former sides, but a second straight offseason of significant personnel changes appears to be paying dividends. 'It was so good, especially after an away game in the Champions League,' Guardiola said. 'I was lucky to manage Barcelona with many outstanding performances but this week has been a lot of goals. We have found our game, we can make short passes, and we have a lot of energy from our full backs.' Sergio Aguero scored a predatory hat trick and laid on an assist for Gabriel Jesus, while Nicolas Otamendi headed in, and Raheem Sterling added a late penalty. The victory took City to the top of the table, but Manchester United can join it on Sunday with a win over Everton. Elsewhere, Liverpool failed to shake off the effects of last week's thrashing by City, letting Burnley leave Anfield with a 1-1 draw. Crystal Palace became the first club in league history to lose its opening five games without scoring. Swansea brought Tottenham back to earth in a scoreless draw at Wembley, three days after Spurs tore apart Borussia Dortmund. Newcastle made it three league wins a row by beating Stoke 3-1, Leicester and Huddersfield drew 1-1, and West Brom and West Ham played out a goalless draw. strong>AGUERO CLOSING IN /strong> Having struggled at times last season, Aguero appears to have been revitalized by his partnership with Jesus and was at his predatory best as he completed the sixth Premier League hat trick of his career. The Argentine forward is just three goals away from breaking Eric Brook's 177-goal record at Man City. 'I am very happy,' Aguero said. 'I am focused on scoring the next goal but what matters is that we won.' strong>NO MANE, MORE PROBLEMS /strong> Philippe Coutinho made his first start of the season for Liverpool after failing to force a summer move to Barcelona, but his return wasn't enough to fill the void left by the suspended Sadio Mane. Liverpool struggled at times last season without Mane and it appears little has changed. Summer recruit Mohamed Salah's tying goal secured a point for the Reds but even he can't match the brilliance of Mane, who is serving a three-match suspension after being sent off against Manchester City last weekend. Burnley has picked up away points at three of last season's top-six teams, beating Chelsea on opening day and drawing against Tottenham at Wembley. strong>ROY'S RETURN /strong> Roy Hodgson's first match in charge of Crystal Palace looked like the team's previous four matches. In a 1-0 loss to Southampton, Steven Davis' early goal proved decisive. Hodgson has been out of management since Euro 2016, where his England side was eliminated by minnows Iceland. Having become the first Premier League manager to be appointed in his 70s, Hodgson went for a return to a traditional four-man defense, but it took Southampton just six minutes to breach it. strong>WEMBLEY CURSE REMAINS /strong> Tottenham is still looking for a first domestic victory of the season at its temporary Wembley Stadium home. Harry Kane struck the crossbar in the second half but Swansea displayed great resilience to hold on for 0-0. Mauricio Pochettino's Spurs have failed to win all three league games at Wembley, where it's playing while White Hart Lane is redeveloped this season. strong>DEFENDER SCORES AGAIN /strong> Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles was an unlikely star for a second straight game as the defender headed home the winner against Stoke after Xherdan Shaqiri cancelled out Christian Atsu's opener. Newcastle beat Stoke 3-1 at St. James' Park. Also, West Brom midfielder Gareth Barry equaled Ryan Giggs' Premier League appearance record in his 632nd game.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 17th, 2017

Leloy Claudio wins 2019 George McTavish Kahin Book Prize

MANILA, Philippines – Rappler columnist and " Basagan Ng Trip " host Leloy Claudio has won the George McTavish Kahin Book Prize for 2019 for his book Liberalism and the Postcolony: Thinking the State in 20th Century Philippines. Claudio's book was published by the National University of Singapore Press, the Kyoto-CSEAS Series on Asian Studies, and the ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJan 19th, 2019

Arsenal facing make-or-break 6 days

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press It's a six-day stretch that could make or break Arsenal's season and prompt renewed scrutiny into the machinations of a club that appears to have issues at every level. A home game against Chelsea in the Premier League on Saturday, soon followed by the visit of Manchester United in the FA Cup. Lose both matches and Arsenal's bid for domestic silverware will be over for another season. Finishing in the top four of the league, and thereby qualifying for the Champions League, would also be highly unrealistic. And it won't even be February. It wasn't so long ago that Unai Emery was making a mockery of any fears he would struggle to oversee a smooth transition from Arsene Wenger's 22-year reign. The team was on a 22-match unbeaten run in all competitions. Emery's high-energy pressing game was working and the goals were flowing, even if there were some slight concerns about the defense. Tottenham, Arsenal's big rival, was trounced 4-2 in the North London derby. "We've got out Arsenal back," chanted gleeful Arsenal fans. Then came the slide. The first worrying signs came in a 3-2 loss at lowly Southampton on Dec. 16 that ended Arsenal's four-month unbeaten run. Then there was the elimination at the hands of Tottenham in the English League Cup quarterfinals, before a 5-1 mauling by Liverpool in the league at Anfield on Dec. 29 which revived memories of the defensive horror shows from the darkest days in the final years of the Wenger era. More recently, there was the timid 1-0 loss at West Ham on Saturday when Arsenal had two shots on target. If Arsenal loses to Chelsea, it will drop nine points adrift of the top four and probably into sixth place — the position it finished in Wenger's last year. Arsenal will be left relying on winning a cup competition — the FA Cup or, perhaps more likely, the Europa League — to salvage anything from its season. The problems won't end there. Mesut Ozil is the club's marquee and highest-earning player — reportedly getting 350,000 pounds a week ($450,000) — yet is regularly left out by Emery, just as he was against West Ham on Saturday. Ozil, a mercurial player with a languid approach, doesn't fit Emery's preferred style and so is proving to be a very expensive commodity. Another midfielder, Aaron Ramsey, has also been in and out of the team this season and is reportedly close to signing for Juventus. "At certain times, you have to provoke friction with footballers," Emery said this week, perhaps with a nod to his relationship with Ozil. "From that friction, you can get something more out of them, something from inside." Without its two most creative attacking midfielders, and with Henrikh Mkhitaryan currently injured, Arsenal lacks any playmaking ability or balance behind the two strikers, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette. Meanwhile, Emery's team has kept only three clean sheets in 22 league games. "There are times," Emery said, "when defensively we have not been very solid but we have still won because offensively we have created a lot of chances. So, at the moment, I am still leaning toward making sure the team doesn't lose what it has." Emery doesn't have the option of buying his way out of trouble. He said last week that there is no money available for permanent signings, only loans, with Arsenal having spent 70 million pounds on four players in the offseason and a club-record 56 million pounds on Aubameyang last January. In an attempt to formalize a structure to the technical staff above the manager, Arsenal created the positions of head of football relations (Raul Sanllehi joined from Barcelona) and head of recruitment (Sven Mislintat joined from Borussia Dortmund) in 2017. No way was Emery going to have the same power as Wenger. Yet sections of the British media are reporting this week that Mislintat is on his way out as part of a power struggle in the wake of the departure of chief executive Ivan Gazidis, who left for AC Milan in October. So, potential upheaval behind the scenes. No money to spend. Apparent rifts with key players. And a defensively suspect team that has lost four of its last eight games. It's a huge week coming up for Arsenal and Emery, for whom the enormity of the task in replacing Wenger might finally be sinking in......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2019

WATCH: Monstrous Messi scores 400th La Liga goal

  MADRID, Spain – Lionel Messi scored his 400th La Liga goal on Sunday, January 13, a total his coach Ernesto Valverde called "monstrous", as Barcelona terrorized Eibar to reclaim their five-point cushion at the top of the table.  Messi drove the ball into the bottom corner after being teed up by ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJan 14th, 2019

Messi scores record 400th goal in Spanish league

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — That's 400 and counting. Lionel Messi took his all-time Spanish league scoring record to 400 goals on Sunday after contributing to a 3-0 win over Eibar to keep defending champion Barcelona comfortably at the top of the Spanish league. Messi scored Barcelona's second goal shortly after halftime to reach a milestone in the competition after 435 league matches. Former Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo is second all-time in La Liga with 311 goals. In all competitions, Barcelona says the 31-year-old Messi has scored an astonishing 575 goals in 658 appearances. "He is from another galaxy," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. "They are incredible numbers. But he does much more than score goals, he also does so much to generate scoring chances for others." Barcelona's all-time top scorer got the landmark goal in the 53rd minute after Luis Suarez passed to him inside Eibar's area. The Argentine did the rest by opening an angle around a defender and driving in a low left-footed shot. It was also Messi's league-leading 17th league goal and his 23rd goal overall this season. "He should be proud," said Suarez, who scored Barcelona's other two goals. "Game after game he shows what a great player he is. I am happy for him and for the history that he is writing for this club." Barcelona stayed five points ahead of second-placed Atletico Madrid, which edged Levante 1-0 thanks to a penalty from Antoine Griezmann, as the league reached its midway point. Real Madrid lost Karim Benzema to a right-hand injury in a 2-1 win at Real Betis to stay 10 points back in fourth place. HAPPY SIMEONE After 90-plus minutes of prowling the sideline, yelling at his players and stoking his fans, Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone normally hurries off the pitch when the final whistle sounds. But after the victory over Levante, Simeone took time to embrace each of his players — a show of appreciation for their efforts that kept Atletico in the title chase. "I felt the need to hug them," Simeone said. "I congratulated them because they maintained the same level of play throughout the entire match." Despite only scoring one goal, Simeone called it "one of, if not our best, performances of the season." True to Simeone's defense-first approach, Atletico stifled a Levante attack that is among the best in the league. Griezmann did the rest, scoring his team-leading ninth league goal of the season when he fired a spot kick over Levante goalkeeper Oier Olazabal in the 57th minute following a handball by defender Nikola Vukcevic. CEBALLOS TO THE RESCUE Dani Ceballos was greeted with jeers when he went on as a late Real Madrid substitute to face his former club, Real Betis. But he silenced the crowd, and saved his current club from another setback, when he sent a free kick through a gap in the defensive wall to grab the win with two minutes remaining. "I was eager to show what I can do," Ceballos said. Luka Modric struck from distance to open the scoring for Madrid, only for Sergio Canales to equalize in the second half. SEVILLA SLIPS Sevilla lost 2-0 at Athletic Bilbao, ending its unbeaten run in nine rounds. Bilbao forward Inaki Williams scored both goals for the hosts to help lift them out of the relegation zone. Sevilla remained in third place, level on points with Madrid. Sevilla had won 3-1 at Bilbao's San Mames Stadium in the Copa del Rey on Thursday. They will meet again on Wednesday in Seville in the return leg of their round-of-16 game......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2019

Prescott, Cowboys push past Seahawks for 24-22 wild-card win

By Schuyler Dixon, Associated Press ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Dak Prescott saw an opening up the middle, then three defenders between him and the first down. The Dallas quarterback found a way to get there, and get his first playoff victory two years after a sensational rookie season ended in disappointment. Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 137 yards and the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, Prescott scored on a sneak after his dazzling head-over-heels run and the Cowboys hung on for a 24-22 wild-card win over the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday night. The win for the Cowboys (11-6) was the first for Elliott and Prescott after losing a divisional game in their playoff debut as first-year stars two years ago. Dallas will play at either New Orleans or the Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round next weekend. "It's really just a chance to keep going on, simple as that," Prescott said. "Me and this whole team, we want to win it all. You can't do that without taking care of the first one. A lot of excitement, but my goal is bigger than just one playoff win." The loss ended a run of nine straight victories in playoff openers for the Seahawks (10-7). The Elias Sports Bureau says it was the longest streak in NFL history. Leading 17-14, Prescott faced third-and-14 from the Seattle 17 with the 2-minute warning approaching. He took off up the middle on a QB draw, barged through a trio of defenders 6 yards short of the first and went down at the 1 when he was flipped head-first by Tedric Thompson. Prescott, who also had an 11-yard scoring pass to Michael Gallup in the first half, scored on the next play in the eighth win in nine games for the Cowboys. "He's just a rare guy," coach Jason Garrett said. "His leadership, his toughness, just his way, his spirit. It's like none other. Somehow, some way, he's going to figure this thing out for us." Dallas' defense, ranked in the top 10 most of the season, stifled the NFL's No. 1 rushing offense and mostly kept quarterback Russell Wilson under control and handed him his first loss in four wild-card games. The Seahawks had finished the regular season with six wins in seven games to secure Wilson's sixth playoff trip in seven years despite a roster overhaul and 0-2 start. "This has been a special, special year," Wilson said. "Just the growth of our team, the men in the locker room, just the way that we've played together, just eliminating the doubters and the things that people thought that we could only do." Prescott, the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2016 when the Cowboys lost to Green Bay at home as the top seed in the NFC, threw for 226 yards, and his sneak for what appeared to be a clinching score because Dallas burned more than five minutes while taking 24-14 lead. But Tyler Lockett's 53-yard catch set up a quick Seattle touchdown — Wilson's 7-yard scoring pass to J.D. McKissic. The Seahawks got within two on their second 2-point conversion following an injury to Sebastian Janikowski. The missing kicker left the Seahawks no good options on an onside kick with 1:18 remaining. Punter Michael Dickson's drop kick was caught by Cole Beasley at the Dallas 31, sealing the first playoff win for the Cowboys since beating Detroit in the wild-card round in the 2014 season. After Wilson ran for 4 yards for a touchdown and Mike Davis' 2-point conversion run put Seattle up 14-10 late in the third quarter, Prescott led a 67-yard drive to put the Cowboys back in front for good. A 34-yard pass to Amari Cooper , who had seven catches for 106 yards, led to Elliott's 1-yard plunge after an apparent touchdown by the quarterback was overturned on replay. Prescott then had a chance to give the Cowboys a 10-point lead, but K.J. Wright made a juggling interception in the end zone. Dallas' defense came through again, though, forcing a punt and giving Elliott a highlight play before Prescott added his. The NFL rushing leader stiff-armed Shaquill Griffin on a 17-yard run to get inside the 20. Seattle got a double dose of bad news at halftime when Janikowski missed a 57-yard field goal on the final play and injured his left hamstring. He yelled as he grabbed the back of his leg and limped to the locker room, unable to return. Still, the Seahawks took their first lead basically because the 40-year-old's injury forced them to try. Facing fourth-and-5 in Janikowski's range from the Dallas 39, Doug Baldwin made a toe-dragging catch on the sideline for 22 yards. After Wilson's TD run, the Seahawks pushed their lead to 14-10 on Mike Davis' run. But the Cowboys never did lose control of the Seattle running game after allowing Chris Carson's first career 100-yard game in a Week 3 Seattle win that turned the season for the Seahawks, who finished the regular season with six wins in seven games. Carson had just 20 yards on 13 carries. Wilson was 18 of 27 for 233 yards, with Lockett getting four catches for 120 yards. The Seahawks had 73 yards rushing after averaging 160 during the season. Dallas came in with the No. 5 rushing defense. "Once we go up, we do a pretty good job of getting ourselves back down, knowing that we've got to start over next week and we've got to be able to do it again," linebacker Leighton Vander Esch said. "It's a full attack mode." INJURIES Cowboys receiver Allen Hurns fractured his left ankle in a gruesome first-quarter injury. Owner and general manager Jerry Jones said after the game that Hurns was "probably in surgery at this time." Hurns was being dragged down by Seahawks safety Bradley McDougald at the end of a 14-yard catch for a first down when his lower left leg appeared to buckle. ... Seahawks cornerback Neiko Thorpe left in the first half with a shoulder injury. UP NEXT Cowboys: New Orleans or the Los Angeles Rams on the road in the divisional round next weekend......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 6th, 2019