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Brazil midfielder Fabinho signs with Liverpool

PARIS, France – Monaco midfielder Fabinho will join Liverpool following the World Cup finals in Russia, the French Ligue 1 club and the Premier League giants announced Monday, May 28. Brazilian international Fabinho, 24, had agreed at the end of last year's title-winning campaign to remain one more season in the ........»»

Category: newsSource: rappler rapplerMay 29th, 2018

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

Fernandinho s absence hurting slumping Man City

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press MANCHESTER, England (AP) — From a 15-match unbeaten start to three losses in 18 days, Manchester City's title defense in the Premier League has unexpectedly hit a wall. That the slump has coincided with the absence of Fernandinho is surely no coincidence. The defensive midfielder from Brazil has been one of the unsung heroes in Pep Guardiola's remarkable team, providing protection for the defense and a robust platform for its dynamic attacking play. A former box-to-box midfielder, Fernandinho chips in with the odd goal, too. It's only when he's not around that he is really appreciated. City slipped to its first defeat of the season — a 2-0 loss at Chelsea on Dec. 8 — with Fernandinho in the starting lineup, but that was regarded as an anomaly. City dominated the first half at Stamford Bridge, wasting chances before being hit by two second-half goals. He was missing, injured with a thigh injury, when City lost 3-2 at home to Crystal Palace and 2-1 away to Leicester either side of Christmas, when Guardiola's team put in almost unrecognizable displays. And there's a good chance he won't be playing on Sunday when City looks to revive its title challenge at Southampton amid the 20th round of fixtures. City has dropped to third place, seven points behind unbeaten Liverpool and one adrift of Tottenham. Defensively, City has looked fragile in Fernandinho's absence, with his replacements — John Stones, a center back briefly converted to center midfield, and Ilkay Gundogan — not in the Brazilian player's class as a shield for the back four. Whether it's his positioning, his reading of the game or his astutely timed fouls that stop opposition breakaways, Fernandinho is key to the way City balances attack and defense and has been previously described by Guardiola as "a fundamental player for us" and one of the best midfield anchormen. Guardiola wanted a back-up for the 33-year-old in the offseason but failed in a bid to sign Italy international Jorginho, who snubbed City's offer in favor of following Maurizio Sarri from Napoli to Chelsea. City didn't have enough time to land any of its other potential targets — Ruben Neves of Wolverhampton Wanderers was linked — so went into the season with just one proper holding midfielder. It has proved to be the team's big weakness, relying too much on Fernandinho being fit. Guardiola could turn to Ajax youngster Frenkie De Jong in the next offseason but, more immediately, he will hope Fernandinho returns quickly. The Spanish coach has already reiterated he won't be buying anyone in the January window. Even if Fernandinho has a chance to return for the Southampton game, Guardiola would be wise to make sure he is fully fit for the home match against Liverpool on Thursday, given the significance of that fixture to the title race. One thing going in Guardiola's favor in his most testing spell this season is the return of creative midfielders Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva, who could both start at St. Mary's Stadium alongside Gundogan. Fabian Delph, who has been filling in at left back in place of the injured Benjamin Mendy, is suspended after his red card at Leicester, so Oleksandr Zinchenko should start there......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 29th, 2018

Rejuvenated Dutch strike late, into Nations League s Final 4

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press The Netherlands' recovery from one of the lowest ebbs in its history continued with a last-gasp qualification for the Final Four of the inaugural UEFA Nations League on Monday. Virgil van Dijk volleyed home a 90th-minute equalizer to seal a dramatic Dutch comeback in a 2-2 draw in Germany, allowing Ronald Koeman's rejuvenated side to top its qualifying group on goal difference ahead of France, and join fellow group winners Portugal, England and Switzerland in a five-day finals competition in June. So instead of seeing Kylian Mbappe, France's new wonderkid and star of the team's World Cup triumph in Russia in July, vying for another piece of international silverware, soccer fans will get to see if the Netherlands truly has turned the corner. The slump of the Dutch has been profound since they finished third at the World Cup in Brazil in 2014. They failed to qualify for an enlarged European Championship in 2016 and also didn't make it to the World Cup this year. Three coaches — Guus Hiddink, Danny Blind, and Dick Advocaat — came and went. And with Dutch soccer at club level also in strife, debate swirled as to how one of the long-time heavyweights of the world game could recover. Under Koeman, though, the future of the Oranje looks bright. Youngsters like center midfielder Frenkie de Jong and center back Matthijs de Ligt are regarded as two of the most promising players in the world; Memphis Depay and Georginio Wijnaldum have returned to their best form over the last 18 months; and, in Van Dijk, the Netherlands has one of the best defenders around. A rock for Liverpool this season and last, Van Dijk — soccer's most expensive defender following his $99 million move from Southampton in January — sidefooted in a cross from the left to follow up an 84th-minute goal from Quincy Promes that gave the Dutch a glimmer of hope in Gelsenkirchen. The Germans had gone 2-0 up after 19 minutes thanks to Timo Werner's dipping shot from 25 meters and Leroy Sane's deflected effort from just inside the area. They couldn't hold on, though, and finished group play with no wins, just two points, and in something of a crisis. They didn't get out of their group in Russia in a dismal defense of their World Cup title, while relegation to League B of the Nations League — featuring Europe's second-tier teams — had already been confirmed after failing to win any of their first three group games. Germany coach Joachim Loew opted to stay in the job after the World Cup, but is now under mounting pressure. The Nations League, a new competition devised by UEFA to replace unpopular international friendlies with competitive matches between teams of a similar level, appears to have won over the skeptics, and the lineup for the Final Four is intriguing if hardly a marketer's dream. Portugal, which will be playing on home soil, has a superstar in Cristiano Ronaldo who should be back in the team after an extended absence from international soccer since the World Cup. England has Harry Kane, the top scorer at the World Cup, and a talented, dynamic group of young players under forward-thinking coach Gareth Southgate. Switzerland, which hasn't reached a quarterfinal of an international tournament since 1954, will be the outsider. The Netherlands, at No. 15, will be the lowest-ranked team in the competition but should not be discounted. This victory came three days after the team produced one of its best performances in years to beat France 2-0, while it beat Portugal 3-0 in March and Germany by the same score at home in the Nations League. The draw for the Final Four, which comprises of two semifinals and then a third-place playoff and final, will take place in Dublin on Dec. 3. Some other loose ends were tied up in the Nations League, which offers teams a second chance to qualify for the European Championship in 2020. The 16 group winners in Leagues A, B, C and D — or the next best-placed teams who have not already qualified via the European qualifiers starting in March — will progress to the Nations League playoffs and compete for the last four qualifying places for Euro 2020. NORWAY, MACEDONIA PROMOTED Norway was promoted to the second-tier League B after finishing top of Group C3 with a 2-0 win at Cyprus. The Norwegians started the final round of group play tied for points with Bulgaria, which could only draw at home to Slovenia 1-1. Macedonia went up to League C after beating Gibraltar 4-0 to top Group D4. Armenia, the only team that could have finished above Macedonia, ended up second after drawing at Liechtenstein 2-2. SLOVAKIA RELEGATED Slovakia was relegated to League C after losing at neighbor Czech Republic 1-0, with Patrik Schick scoring the winner in the first half with a deft lob over the goalkeeper on a counterattack. Denmark was already guaranteed promotion to the top tier and Ireland was sure of being relegated before they drew 0-0 in Aarhus......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 20th, 2018

Chelsea signs goalkeeper Kepa after Courtois joins Madrid

LONDON --- Chelsea has signed Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga for a record fee after selling Thibaut Courtois to Real Madrid. Chelsea announced the signing on Wednesday after paying Kepa's 80-million-euro ($92.6 million) buyout clause --- the biggest fee ever for a goalkeeper. The transfer was completed shortly after Courtois' move to Madrid was also confirmed in a deal that will see midfielder Mateo Kovacic move to the London club on a season-long loan. Kepa is considered Spain's goalkeeper of the future and was a reserve at the World Cup in Russia. The fee paid for him tops the 72.5 million euros Liverpool gave Roma for Alisson earlier this summer. "Kepa...Keep on reading: Chelsea signs goalkeeper Kepa after Courtois joins Madrid.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsAug 9th, 2018

EPL 2018-19: 5 new signings to watch out for

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press The transfer window has been shortened in the Premier League and will close on Thursday, before the season starts. Here is the pick of the signings so far: RIYAD MAHREZ (Manchester City) Whether City needed another attacking midfield to complement Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva, Leroy Sane, David Silva and rising star Phil Foden is open to question. Not that Riyad Mahrez is concerned about that. The Algeria winger might have thought he had missed out on a dream move to the champions when City and Leicester failed to conclude a deal in January for English soccer's Player of the Year in 2015-16. But City maintained its interest, and Mahrez sealed a club-record $80 million move that gives manager Pep Guardiola another attacking option and a player who can operate anywhere behind the striker. Mahrez mostly played on the right wing, cutting in on his favored left foot, but Sterling and Bernardo Silva already feature there. City may opt to use Mahrez centrally as Guardiola looks to manage the 32-year-old David Silva's game time. FRED (Manchester United) Brazil international Fred not only offers United more energy and solidity in central midfield, he also potentially gives a platform for fellow midfielder Paul Pogba to be more expansive and attacking this season. Joining from Shakhtar Donetsk for $66 million, Fred likely will take up a position in midfield alongside anchorman Nemanja Matic and also Pogba, who should play in his preferred place on the left of a central three and have fewer defensive responsibilities. Perhaps that's what United manager Jose Mourinho meant when he talked about Fred giving the team "another dimension." ALISSON (Liverpool) The arrival of Brazil goalkeeper Alisson, who played in all of his team's matches at the World Cup, provides a solution to Liverpool's one obvious weakness, and should mean Juergen Klopp's team is a genuine contender for the Premier League title this season. Loris Karius never felt like he was the long-term answer in goal and his two huge mistakes in the Champions League final against Real Madrid in May proved his undoing. Alisson — at around $85 million — is a definite upgrade, a strong all-around keeper who rarely makes an error leading to a goal. He also is good with his feet, something Klopp demands. Liverpool now has the most expensive goalkeeper in history, along with the game's most expensive defender in Virgil van Dijk and the explosive front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah. JORGINHO (Chelsea) Seemingly destined for Manchester City, Jorginho instead ended up at Chelsea for $75 million and is set to be the fulcrum around which new manager Maurizio Sarri bases his high-pressing, high-energy style of play. Jorginho, a Brazilian-born Italy international, is a deep-lying midfield playmaker who had more touches per minute for Napoli than any player in Europe's top five leagues last season. The 26-year-old Jorginho will instigate attacks with his snappy passing from the base of the midfield, allowing the marauding N'Golo Kante to play further forward alongside a more creative central midfielder like Cesc Fabregas or Ross Barkley. RICHARLISON (Everton) A shrewd signing or another example of the madness of the Premier League? Richarlison, a 21-year-old Brazilian, had played only one year in England's top division — he faded badly after Christmas at Watford following a strong first half of the season — when he was signed by Everton last month for a fee that could rise to about $65 million. Clearly, recently hired Everton manager Marco Silva, who coached Richarlison at Watford before getting fired in January, thinks highly of the tall midfielder whose pace and strength got him into promising positions but whose finishing often left him down. Richarlison will compete with Theo Walcott, Yannick Bolasie and Kevin Mirallas but is set to be first choice......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 7th, 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

Salah, Neymar, Messi, messy, messy: World Cup stars stifled

By Mauricio Saverese, Associated Press SARANSK, Russia (AP) — With nagging injuries, heavy marking from opponents and some simply uninspired play, the top stars of the 2018 World Cup have struggled to deliver on the impossible expectations they carried into the tournament, with one prominent Portuguese exception. Aside from Cristiano Ronaldo, who has all four of Portugal's goals in its two games, many of the biggest names are off to a shaky start. No one has had rougher treatment from the opposition than the world's priciest player, Neymar. During Brazil's opening 1-1 draw with Switzerland, the 26-year-old was fouled 10 times, the highest number on a single player in a single match since the 1998 World Cup, when England's Alan Shearer took 11 challenges against Tunisia. Overall, Switzerland fouled Brazil 19 times , with little intervention from the referee, and it worked — especially on Neymar. Brazilians suggested their opponents were too violent; Swiss midfielder Gelson Fernandes thinks Neymar has another problem. "He just falls too much," Fernandes said after the game in Rostov-on-Don. "Out of these 10, only seven or eight were fouls. We have to stop their star, and he is the star." Neymar felt the effects of the Swiss strategy long after Sunday's match ended, limping out of training Tuesday as he continues to recover from a foot injury he picked up before the tournament. He trained Wednesday and was confirmed as a starter for the match against Costa Rica on Friday. Superstar Lionel Messi did face heavy marking too, but he also had two uninspired performances for Argentina, which is now on the verge of early elimination after a 3-0 defeat against Croatia. Throughout the matches against Iceland and Croatia, disciplined defenders and midfielders stopped Messi from making his famous runs and getting one-on-one chances. Against Iceland, Messi saw his penalty spot kick saved by goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson, and the game ended 1-1. Against Croatia, he crumbled with the rest of the team, which now desperately needs to beat Nigeria in the last round of group stage to have a chance of advancing to the next phase. "Messi is human," Aguero said after the Iceland match. "Sometimes things happen for a reason. We need to be with him. This was a bad day, but he can decide a match at any given moment. Hope he is better against Croatia." Croatia was taking note. "You can't stop him with one player, you have to defend like a team. You saw that with Iceland," defender Dejan Lovren said ahead of the Argentina clash late Thursday. Egypt striker Mohamed Salah set a Premier League scoring record for Liverpool and held all the hopes for a deep run by the Pharaohs in their return to the World Cup, until he injured his shoulder playing for Liverpool in the Champions League final in a clash with Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos, of Spain. Salah sat out the opening 1-0 loss to Uruguay in Yekaterinburg, with coach Hector Cuper hoping to have him fit for Egypt's second match, against Russia. He made his World Cup debut in St. Petersburg and scored from the penalty spot, but only after the hosts led by three goals, and his mobility was clearly affected. He barely touched the ball in the first half and avoided physical contact with Russian defenders during the entire game, and Egypt was eliminated with one match left to play. Ronaldo isn't entirely alone in starting strong. Diego Costa has three of Spain's four goals, Harry Kane has both of England's, and Luka Modric scored one goal and set up the other in Croatia's 2-0 win over Nigeria. And there's plenty of time for others to turn things around. Kylian Mbappe, the 19-year-old striker at the center of the second-most expensive transfer in history, managed just one chance in France's 2-1 win over Australia in Kazan, but scored Thursday against Peru in front of an empty net. His famous runs and dribbles, however, were blocked by Australia's physical game. It's early, and the tournament has seen plenty of stellar play from lesser-known players, but many of the star scorers have work to do......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 21st, 2018

Neymar makes spectacular return as Brazil beats Croatia 2-0

By Mauricio Savarese, Associated Press LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Only three months ago, Brazil striker Neymar was on an operating table and in danger of missing the World Cup in Russia. Those fears largely disappeared Sunday when Neymar returned to action with smart dribbling, fluent passing and an impressive individual goal, which he celebrated with his surgeon. Playing for the first time since February, Neymar scored the opener in Brazil's 2-0 friendly win against Croatia in Liverpool after coming on for the second half. He then ran to hug Brazilian soccer confederation doctor Rodrigo Lasmar on the sidelines at Anfield. "I am so happy to play football again. I have waited and worked a lot for this. I suffered, these were very tough three months," Neymar said. "When I saw the ball hit the net I only thought of those that helped me, Dr. Lasmar, my family, friends." Neymar, who also withstood a few challenges in the game, received the ball from midfielder Philippe Coutinho in the 68th and dribbled past Croatia defenders Sime Vrsaljko and Duje Caleta-Car. He smashed the ball into the net from around five meters (yards) with his right foot. The Brazilian injured the same foot playing for Paris Saint-Germain and underwent surgery in Brazil in early March. He did not warm up with the Brazilian team on Sunday, which had again raised concerns among supporters. Neymar said he was 80 percent at his best for the Croatia game. Brazil coach Tite said Neymar's return was "above the expected standard." "Neymar is only human, but he came back above my expectations too," Tite said. "I was expecting much less." Neymar had replaced midfielder Fernandinho at halftime with the score at 0-0. He quickly made his mark and raised the hopes of Brazilian fans for the World Cup, which starts June 14. Tite wasn't getting carried away, though. "Neymar is going to have ups and downs like he had in training until the third, fourth game (on his return). Then he will have his normal standard," Tite said. Croatia captain Luka Modric was among many impressed with Neymar. "It is beautiful to watch him play again, he is special, one of the best in the world," Modric said. Brazil "improved in the second half after Neymar made the difference." Liverpool's Roberto Firmino scored Brazil's second goal in the 90th. After Casemiro put the ball in the penalty box, Firmino controlled with his chest and sent the ball over Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic to step up his challenge for a starting position in the team. Brazil captain and No. 9 Gabriel Jesus was replaced by Firmino after an hour. "I am here to help Brazil. I respect Tite's opinion (in starting with Jesus) 100 percent," Firmino said. The striker also thanked local fans for their support, saying "it is good to play at home." The same Liverpool supporters who cheered Firmino went out of their way to jeer Coutinho, who left the Reds for Barcelona earlier this year. Until Neymar stepped onto the pitch it was Croatia which had the best opportunities in a match that seemed headed for a dull draw. Defender Dejan Lovren had the best chance to open with a header that grazed Brazil goalkeeper Alisson's right post after a corner. When Fernandinho went off, Coutinho played a greater role and Brazil's game improved. The five-time World Cup champions play their last pre-World Cup friendly against Austria on June 10. Monday will be a rest day for the team and Brazilian media claimed midfielder Fred will be traveling to Manchester for medical tests before signing a deal with Manchester United. Tite did not confirm the move but said: "Our orientation is for them (players) to solve (transfers) as quickly as possible so they keep their head and effort focused on Brazil. If I were the manager there, I would try to sign him too." Brazil's World Cup opener is on June 17 against Switzerland......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 4th, 2018

Brazil wants to lower Neymar s expectations for World Cup

By Mauricio Savarese, Associated Press RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil wants to reduce the expectations on Neymar. The world's most expensive footballer is at the end of his recovery from a foot operation, and joined 16 Brazil teammates on Monday for physical and medical tests at their Granja Comary camp in Teresopolis, outside Rio de Janeiro. Neymar was also going to receive a private meeting with Brazil coach Tite, who wants to try and reduce the pressure on the striker. "Neymar will hear from Tite that he spent three months off the pitch and will not be the exceptional Neymar after that," Brazilian Football Confederation coordinator Edu Gaspar said at the camp. "We will create some ground for him to get his self-confidence back, and that it goes up without too much pressure on his performances." Neymar hasn't played since late February when he cracked the fifth metatarsal that connects to the little toe in his right foot. On March 3 he underwent surgery in Brazil and returned to training just one week ago in France. "Neymar will keep doing what he is doing at Paris Saint-Germain. There is a physical part, then a technical one. But there will also be the emotional part, so he has the real magnitude of what we are thinking," Gaspar said. "We are not thinking only about Neymar, we will have communication strategies for every athlete." Gaspar said Neymar will be expected to play about 45 minutes of the friendly against Croatia in Liverpool on June 3, the first of two for Brazil before the World Cup. The second is against Austria in Vienna on June 10. "Today, we talked about playing those two games as if they were the World Cup," Gaspar said. "We need total reality then, so we start the tournament well. We studied those two teams tactically and saw they were ideal for those friendlies. For now, they are more important than our (World Cup) opener." Brazil opens in Russia against Switzerland on June 17 in Rostov. Their group also features Costa Rica and Serbia. Left back Marcelo, midfielder Casemiro, and striker Roberto Firmino will only join the squad in London next Monday, after Real Madrid and Liverpool meet in the Champions League final in Kiev. The first actual Brazil training will take place on Wednesday at the camp, which went through a $4 million renovation to host the team until Sunday. Brazil will have six practices in Teresopolis before moving camp to North London until June 8......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 22nd, 2018

Recovering Neymar confirmed in Brazil s World Cup squad

By Mauricio Saverese, Associated Press SAO PAULO (AP) — A recovering Neymar was confirmed and injured leader Dani Alves was replaced by Danilo and Fagner in a Brazil World Cup squad of few surprises on Monday. The only surprises were among the likely reserves for the tournament in Russia, with the inclusion of Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Fred and winger Taison. Neymar has been recovering from right foot surgery in March, and Brazil Football Confederation doctors believe he will be fit to train next week in Teresopolis, where preparations will begin, and play on June 3 in a friendly against Croatia in Liverpool. Brazil doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said at a news conference in Rio de Janeiro he examined Neymar on the weekend and the results were positive. "This is the final stage of his recovery, he will be able to go to training sessions soon, and will play the friendlies," Lasmar said. Coach Tite said Neymar was one of the top three players in the world, but insisted his team didn't depend on him alone. "We will be much stronger with Neymar doing well, but for him to do well the rest of the team has to be well, too," he said. All but one of Tite's starting lineup in World Cup qualifiers was confirmed in the squad: Alisson; Miranda, Marquinhos and Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Renato Augusto and Philippe Coutinho; Neymar and Gabriel Jesus. Defender Alves, a veteran of two World Cups, sprained his right ACL last week in the French Cup final and was replaced in the 23-man Brazil squad by Manchester City's Danilo and Corinthians' Fagner. Tite decided not to inform who are the players that could replace one of those until June 4 in case of injury. Tite also summoned goalkeepers Ederson (Manchester City) and Cassio (Corinthians); defenders Thiago Silva, (Paris Saint-Germain) Pedro Geromel (Gremio) and Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid); midfielders Fernandinho (Man City) and Willian (Chelsea); and strikers Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) and Douglas Costa (Juventus). The coach said several positions in his starting lineup were open, including up front. "At first, Gabriel Jesus is our starter. But Roberto Firmino will fight for that position in top form," Tite said. "The challenge is open on the right back, but Danilo has some advantage now because he has performed well recently." Tite also hinted in his hour-long news conference he could change one of his central defenders for Thiago Silva. The inclusion of Taison, the coach admitted, suggested Coutinho could be taking a role in central midfield and leaving his spot for Willian. Tite said he needs "a pacemaker" in the team, which he has not received from Beijing Guoan's Renato Augusto. "Coutinho can play in the middle and in the flanks, he is versatile," Tite said. "Sometimes preparation gives you elements that you didn't have, and force you to change your mind." Tite said Brazil was one of the favorites for the title, but refused to name other candidates. The coach's final list includes 15 out of the 23 players he called for his first game with Brazil, against Ecuador in World Cup qualifiers in September 2016. There are only four survivors from the 7-1 hammering by Gerrmany four years ago at the home World Cup: Marcelo, Fernandinho, Paulinho and Willian. Thiago Silva and Neymar did not play that semifinal, one due to suspension and the other because of injury. Marcelo, Casemiro and Firmino will join Brazil for preparations in London only after Real Madrid and Liverpool play the Champions League final on May 26. Brazil starts its World Cup campaign against Switzerland on June 17, followed by Costa Rica and Serbia in Group E......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 15th, 2018

Barcelona unable to find its stride in Champions League

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Suddenly, the Champions League has become a tough challenge for Barcelona. The Spanish club thrived in nearly every competition it played over the last few years but has failed to succeed recently in the top European club competition. Lionel Messi and his teammates lost to Roma 3-0 on Tuesday in Italy, relinquishing a 4-1 first-leg win and getting eliminated in the quarterfinals for the third straight season. "All we can do is apologize to our fans for the way we lost," Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets said. "This is the toughest loss since I've been with Barcelona, because of the way it happened. I'd be lying if I said that this could help us in some way in the future, because last year we lost in a similar manner." Barcelona was eliminated by eventual runner-up Juventus last season, losing 3-0 in Turin and being held to a scoreless draw at home in the second leg. In 2016, Barcelona fell to Spanish rival Atletico Madrid 3-1 on aggregate, winning 2-1 at home and losing 2-0 in Madrid. "We want to be contending for the Champions League title year after year," Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu said. "We were hopeful of advancing to the semifinals after having played a great first leg. Now we have to carefully analyze what happened and try to move on." Since 2015, when it won its last Champions League title, Barcelona was dominant in other competitions, winning two Spanish leagues, three Copa del Reys, one Club World Cup, one UEFA Super Cup and one Spanish Super Cup. Messi was a crucial component in nearly all of those triumphs for Barcelona, but the playmaker performed below expectations in the team's recent Champions League failures. He didn't score in the six quarterfinal games that led to Barcelona's recent eliminations. The team's other players couldn't do enough help Barcelona advance then, and this time Messi had even less support. Neymar left in the offseason, and the players who joined the club after his departure were not able to play up to the same level. Ousmane Dembele, touted as the main replacement for the Brazil forward, was marred by injuries and wasn't able to establish himself as a reliable attacking partner for Messi and Luis Suarez. Dembele was on the bench Tuesday, entering the match in the final minutes as a substitute. Philippe Coutinho also arrived to help fill Neymar's absence, but he was ineligible to play in the Champions League because he had already played for Liverpool earlier in the tournament. Right back Nelson Semedo, another offseason signing for Barcelona, was the player unsuccessfully trying to stop Roma defender Kostas Manolas when he scored the 82nd-minute decisive goal for the hosts on Tuesday. This was Barcelona's first Champions League loss under coach Ernesto Valverde, who replaced Luis Enrique at the end of last season. "We have a very competitive team and it will recover from this," Bartomeu said. "We still have other tournaments to play and we have to focus on them." Although the loss in Rome ended Barcelona's chances of winning the treble, the team remains in good position to win the Spanish league and the Copa del Rey. Barcelona has an 11-point lead over Atletico Madrid with seven matches left, and it will face Sevilla in the Copa del Rey final on April 21 trying to win its fourth straight Copa title. "It will be very difficult to recover," said veteran Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta, who most likely played in his last Champions League match. "But we don't have any other option. On Saturday we have another match to play and we have to give our best to try to win the titles that are still achievable." Barcelona hosts third-place Valencia on Saturday looking to achieve a Spanish league record of 39 consecutive games unbeaten. It shares the record that Real Sociedad set in 1979-80......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 12th, 2018

Matter of when Man City wins title and how many records fall

By Steve Douglas and Rob Harris, Associated Press English soccer has never seen a team so utterly dominant as Manchester City entering the packed Christmas program. There seems little doubt Pep Guardiola will be raising the Premier League trophy for the first time in May. It is just a question of when City will wrap up its third title since 2014, and how many records will tumble on the way. City has already reeled off the most consecutive English top-flight wins — a record extended at the weekend to 17 games. Manchester United's record Premier League title-winning margin of 18 points from 2000 could also be under threat. And England could be looking at its third unbeaten "Invincibles" team after Preston in 1888-89 and Arsenal in 2003-04. So it doesn't bode well for a compelling second half of the Premier League season? Think again. The chase for the other three Champions League spots should be fierce with eight points separating second-place Manchester United and Arsenal in sixth. Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham are in the mix among them. Two leading sides will fall by the wayside and be denied a place among the European elite. The battle to stay in the world's richest soccer league is also intense. No team is stranded at the bottom, with Swansea in 20th place only six points behind Southampton in 13th. A closer look at the first half of the season: ___ TITLE RACE City leads by 13 points at the halfway stage after winning 18 of its 19 games and drawing one in the best ever start to a Premier League season. The only dropped points came at home to Everton in the second game on Aug. 21, when City played more than a half with 10 men following Kyle Walker's sending-off. Guardiola won the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich in late March in 2014 — aided by a winning streak of 19 games never before seen in a major European league. It will be tough for Guardiola to win the title that early in England as he chases a quadruple after finishing his first season at the club without a trophy. City is already through to the League Cup semifinals, into the Champions League last 16 and begins its FA Cup campaign in two weeks. Man United is in second place, with defending champion Chelsea three points further back in third. United manager Jose Mourinho says the title race is still on, but the rest of his peers among the chasing pack don't see City faltering now. It will be intriguing how Mourinho reacts to be seeing his title ambitions further fade in his second season at United, having already opted to publicly call out his "childish" players after a draw at Leicester on Saturday. ___ PICK OF THE PLAYERS Kevin De Bruyne is playing in a deeper role for City this season, virtually as a center midfielder, and it is bringing the best of out the Belgium midfielder. He has provided many of this season's wow moments, from scoring the winning goal at former club Chelsea in September with a fierce left-footed strike from outside the area to the assists for goals by Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling in the 7-2 win over Stoke in October Dovetailing perfectly with fellow playmaker David Silva, De Bruyne has six goals and eight assists but it's more than just his statistics. His prodigious work rate, range of passing and crossing ability — arguably the best in the Premier League since the days of David Beckham — that make him a strong contender for the player of the season awards. No wonder City is determined to nail down the 26-year-old De Bruyne to an improved, longer contract. ___ EMERGING TALENT Amid an offseason of record spending in English soccer, little was made of Watford signing Richarlison from Brazilian team Fluminense for 13 million pounds ($17 million). Yet the 20-year-old forward is proving a bargain, settling in quickly to the pace and intensity of the Premier League and being one of the key factors in Watford's impressive start to the season that, at one stage, saw them challenging around the top four. Direct, skilful and quick, Richarlison already has five goals and keeps getting himself in great positions to score more, with his finishing sometimes letting him down. Opponents have cottoned on to his impact, with Richarlison telling ESPN Brazil this month: "Teams are already marking me individually, they are putting two players there on my side." Chelsea and Tottenham have been linked with the Brazil under-20s player, who has yet to earn a call-up to the senior squad. That appears only a matter of time. Other players to break through this season are Chelsea's Andreas Christensen, the Danish center back who has ousted David Luiz, and Liverpool's Joe Gomez, the right back who has ensured long-term injury absentee Nathaniel Clyne hasn't been missed. ___ SURPRISE TEAM An unfashionable club is mixing it with the heavyweights of the Premier League against all the odds. We've heard this before, right? Two years ago, it was Leicester delivering a soccer fairy tale by somehow winning the league. Now it's Burnley's turn to provide the feel-good story of the season. Widely regarded as a relegation candidate at the start of the season, Burnley is currently seventh. Don't rule Burnley out of staying in the tussle for the Champions League qualification places, with Liverpool only three points better off in fourth. The northwest team hasn't finished a season higher than sixth place in the top flight since 1974. Burnley, which has conceded just 15 goals in 19 games, has already beaten Chelsea away and drawn at Tottenham and Liverpool. Not bad for a team that returned a profit of about $20 million in summer player sales when most of the rest of the Premier League was spending freely. ___ POINTS TO PROVE Alexis Sanchez is a superstar performing well below expectations this season, perhaps as a result of failing to secure a move to Man City from Arsenal during the summer. That transfer could be revived in January — Guardiola cut an awkward figure recently when asked about making a new bid for the Chile forward — to potentially leave City with an even greater wealth of attacking riches. Sanchez has five league goals. By this stage last season, he had already scored 12 on his way to career-high haul of 24 for a single league campaign. In the dugout, these are testing times for two British managers: Alan Pardew and Mark Hughes. Pardew succeeded Tony Pulis a month ago with a mission to keep West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League. Then the Baggies were two points above the bottom three. Now they are next-from-bottom after collecting only two points from Pardew's first five games. Hughes' future appears on a knife-edge at Stoke despite a pressure-relieving victory over West Brom on Saturday that hauled the team three points from the danger zone......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 25th, 2017

Klopp angry as Liverpool eliminated from League Cup

em>By Steve Douglas, Associated Press /em> Liverpool failed to finish off a slew of chances and conceded a sloppy goal in a 2-0 loss at Leicester in the English League Cup, arousing the ire of its frustrated manager Juergen Klopp on Tuesday. It is becoming a familiar narrative for the Reds in a disappointing month when they haven't won any of their four matches. Questions are now being asked the team's efficiency at both ends of the field. Liverpool over-ran Leicester in a dominant first-half display, with Philippe Coutinho orchestrating the attacks from midfield. But the visitors struggled after the Brazil playmaker was substituted at halftime of the third-round match in a pre-planned move from Klopp. In another game-changing substitution, Shinji Okazaki came on in the 53rd minute for Leicester, scored 12 minutes later with a deflected shot after Liverpool's defense was beaten to two headers, and then laid the ball on for Islam Slimani to drive home a stunning second goal at King Power stadium. 'Second ball from a corner and a goal from a throw-in — I'm sick of goals like this, to be honest. Unbelievable,' Klopp said. Referring to the first goal, Klopp added: 'We didn't push up together — I say it one time, I say it a thousand times. It's not nice to concede these goals.' Since beating Arsenal 4-0 in the Premier League before the international break, Liverpool has been thrashed 5-0 by Manchester City and drawn 1-1 at home to Burnley in the league, conceded late to draw 2-2 with Sevilla in the Champions League, and has now been eliminated from the League Cup. Klopp is easing Coutinho back to full match sharpness after the midfielder missed Liverpool's first six games of the season — officially because of injury and illness — while he was the subject of three transfer bids from Barcelona. Leicester couldn't handle Coutinho's passing and movement in the first half, and only came into the game when he was off the field. 'They've got a world-class player in Coutinho,' Leicester manager Craig Shakespeare said. 'I was very relieved when he went off.' Liverpool finished the game having had 21 shots, but only three on target. Against Burnley on Saturday, the Reds only scored once from 35 shots. Tottenham was among the other Premier League teams to win on a night when top-flight sides mostly fielded fringe players for what is regarded as the inferior cup competition on the English calendar, compared to the FA Cup. ___ strong>SPURS EDGE THROUGH /strong> In another unconvincing domestic display at its temporary home of Wembley Stadium, Tottenham beat second-tier Barnsley 1-0 thanks to Dele Alli's close-range goal in the 65th minute. Tottenham hasn't won any of its three Premier League games at Wembley this season, but has beaten Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League. ___ strong>HODGSON'S FIRST WIN /strong> Crystal Palace scored its first goal since Aug. 22 to earn a 1-0 win over Huddersfield and a first victory under new manager Roy Hodgson. Bakary Sako was the scorer from a corner. Palace has started the Premier League season with five straight losses and no goals, the first time that has happened in the history of England's top flight. Hodgson replaced the fired Frank de Boer last week. Defender Pape Souare came on as a substitute for Palace for his first appearance since breaking his jaw and thigh, and picking up other injuries, in a car crash a year ago. ___ strong>STOKE, BURNLEY ELIMINATED /strong> Stoke lost 2-0 at Bristol City and Burnley was eliminated on penalties by Leeds after a 2-2 draw, as two second-tier League Championship teams got the better of Premier League sides. Bristol City also knocked out a Premier League team in Watford in the second round. Bournemouth, West Ham and Swansea were Premier League teams to advance to Round 4.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 20th, 2017

PSG loses its 1st league game this season

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Paris Saint-Germain's 20-game unbeaten run in the French league this season ended with a 2-1 defeat at Lyon on Sunday. PSG has lost three times this season, including away to Liverpool in the Champions League and at home to Guingamp in the League Cup, but this was its first Ligue 1 loss since a 2-0 home defeat to Rennes in the penultimate game of last season. Despite the setback, PSG leads second-placed Lille by 10 points, having played two games less. Yet it was a huge boost for Lyon in the quest to finish second and qualify automatically for next season's Champions League. Lyon is three points behind Lille, with 15 matches remaining. Both goalkeepers stood out in a great advert for the French league. Rarely tested in the top tier in France, PSG's defense ultimately fell short under the watchful eye of Manchester United coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was present at the game. A resurgent United side hosts PSG in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 game on Feb. 12. Solskjaer will have noticed glaring deficiencies at the back, which meant PSG goalkeeper Alphonse Areola had to make six saves in a pulsating first half. France forward Nabil Fekir won it for Lyon when he coolly slotted in a 49th-minute penalty, after center half Thiago Silva impeded striker Moussa Dembele as he burst into the area. Dembele's towering header from a pinpoint Leo Dubois cross drew Lyon level in the 33rd after Angel Di Maria silenced the home crowd with an opening goal after seven minutes. Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar clumsily lost possession dribbling out of his own half, and Julian Draxler took the ball off him before feeding Di Maria inside the left of the penalty area. The Argentina winger advanced and finished with a low strike across the body of Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes, before provocatively dancing in front of home fans. PSG then weathered a barrage of Lyon pressure. Preferred to Gianluigi Buffon for this game, in an ongoing goalkeeper rotation by coach Thomas Tuchel, Areola was inspired. Midway through the first half, he made a double stop to first thwart Bertrand Traore and then surged off the ground to palm away Memphis Depay's follow-up effort from close range. But then Areola stumbled coming out to meet a cross from Dubois, and Dembele rose superbly to level at 1-1. The action, at both ends, was unrelenting. Di Maria almost grabbed his second goal late in the first half, only for center half Jason Denayer to deny him with a spectacular diving header near his line. Silva was adjudged to have obstructed Dembele as PSG conceded its 11th penalty this season — a statistic Solskjaer will doubtless know. But he will also have seen that PSG has immense firepower, and Lopes needed to be at his best on Sunday. He made three saves in quick succession, including a stunning finger-tip save with his left hand to keep out a stinging drive from Kylian Mbappe — who was again denied by Lopes with 20 minutes left. "It's difficult to say, we had chances as well," PSG's Draxler said when asked if Lyon deserved to win. "But they played very well in the first half. We knew beforehand that Lyon is a classy team." Lyon faces Barcelona in the last-16 of the Champions League, having beaten Manchester City away and drawn with City at home during the group stage. DELORT EARNS DRAW Striker Andy Delort's well-taken goal earned Montpellier a 1-1 draw at southern rival Nimes and moved the team up to fifth place. Nimes and Montpellier are roughly one hour apart by car and they have a fierce rivalry. Nimes opened the scoring after two minutes when defender Loick Landre headed in from a corner. Delort latched onto strike partner Gaetan Laborde's pass in the 73rd minute, and coolly lobbed the goalkeeper. Montpellier is one point behind fourth-placed Saint-Etienne, while promoted Nimes is in 11th place......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 4th, 2019

James entering decisive days at Bayern with future unclear

By Ciaran Fahey, Associated Press MUNICH (AP) — Leon Goretzka's emergence at Bayern Munich is bad news for James Rodriguez. James, as he is known, watched from the bench Friday as Goretzka - playing in the Colombian's favored No. 10 position - scored two goals in Bayern's 3-1 victory at Hoffenheim. "We did everything right with this decision," Bayern coach Niko Kovac told Eurosport. "We've stumbled onto something." James only had a brief opportunity to shine when he came on for Thiago Alcantara in the 78th minute, but he showed his class with a fine lobbed ball over the Hoffenheim defense for Thomas Mueller to set up Robert Lewandowski's win-clinching goal in the 87th. Kovac now has a dilemma in deciding who should start for the suspended Mueller against Liverpool in the Champions League next month. Mueller is suspended for both legs, though Bayern have appealed and hope he will be available for the second leg in Munich. "We have many more No. 10s, just you don't know it yet," Mueller joked after the Hoffenheim game. James suddenly finds himself further down the pecking order with Goretzka's coming of age. "Leon has a really good shot, and he was also dangerous in front of goal last season at Schalke," Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic said. "He normally needs a bit of space. But he did really well as a No. 10." The 23-year-old Goretzka is quickly settling in following his transfer from Schalke. "I never had a problem with my confidence. I was playing professionally very early on and slipped into a role at Bochum that did not necessary correspond with my age and experience," the Germany midfielder told Kicker magazine on Thursday. "But it goes without question. To play at Bayern you need a broad chest." Goretzka joined Schalke in 2013 after impressing as a teenager for second-division Bochum. He made his Germany debut in 2014 but missed out on the final World Cup squad. He now has 19 appearances for the national team. If not Goretzka, then Alcantara is another who could fill Bayern's No. 10 position behind Lewandowski. It was already shaping up to be a frustrating second season in Munich for James following his loan switch from Real Madrid in 2017. The 27-year-old Colombian has made only five league starts for Bayern this season. After ankle problems, James' progress took another setback in November with a partial ligament tear in his left knee from training, days after a 3-2 loss in Dortmund. He wasn't even selected for that game - Bayern's biggest of the season to date. "He's playing for his future," Kovac said as the league's winter break was drawing to a close. "He has to deliver top performances." James remains a Madrid player, but Bayern has the option to make his two-year loan move permanent once it ends at the end of this season. Kovac doesn't seem to be letting the contract situation affect his lineup decisions. "We're a great club with great footballers. James is a great footballer who deserves to play," Kovac said. "Those who aren't called James also want to play." The Bayern coach said it was up to the Colombian to convince the club he deserved to stay, not the other way around. Meanwhile, reports in Spain say Madrid would be willing to use James, if Bayern didn't sign him, as a makeweight in a bid to sign Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen. Arsenal, Juventus and Napoli are also reported suitors. "It's up to him now to show that he belongs in the team," Kovac said. For now though, Goretzka has his nose in front......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 24th, 2019

Jesus keeps up scoring spree as Manchester City dump Wolves

MANCHESTER, England --- Gabriel Jesus kept up his scoring spree for Manchester City with two goals in a 3-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers in the English Premier League on Monday, moving the champion back to within four points of Liverpool. The Brazil striker has seven goals across three competitions in the past nine days for City. His opening goal against Wolves was a 10th-minute tap-in following a left-wing cross from Leroy Sane, who was sent free by a searching ball forward from center back Aymeric Laporte. When Wolves defender Willy Boly was sent off in the 19th minute for a dangerous tackle on Bernardo Silva, it quickly became a damage-limitation exercise for the vi...Keep on reading: Jesus keeps up scoring spree as Manchester City dump Wolves.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 15th, 2019

Jesus keeps up scoring spree, Man City beats Wolves 3-0

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is keeping a close eye on Gabriel Jesus now the young striker's family are no longer with him in England. Maintaining his hot streak in front of goal should keep the Brazilian's spirits high. The 21-year-old Jesus scored twice in City's 3-0 win over 10-man Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League on Monday, extending his spree to seven goals across three different competitions in the past nine days. Whether he can retain City's sole striker spot ahead of club great Sergio Aguero, who started on the bench after a recent illness, remains to be seen but Jesus cannot be doing any more to impress his manager, Pep Guardiola. "I know Sergio Aguero is an amazing player and helps me a lot," Jesus said. "When Sergio plays he helps the team, and when I play I want to help as well. "I play better now and to score goals is important to me." And having two in-form strikers can only boost City's chances of reeling in Liverpool in the Premier League title race. Liverpool's lead was trimmed to four points by City's win over Wolves, for whom the match was a damage-limitation exercise from the moment center back Willy Boly was handed a straight red card for a dangerous tackle on Bernardo Silva in the 19th minute. By then, Jesus had tapped in a left-wing cross from Leroy Sane, who was found by a searching ball forward from center back Aymeric Laporte, to put City in front in the 10th minute. Jesus added his second goal from the penalty spot in the 39th after Raheem Sterling was fouled by Ryan Bennett. City piled on the pressure in the second half — it finished the game with 76 percent possession — but had only one more goal to show for it, with Conor Coady glancing a header into his own net from substitute Kevin De Bruyne's cross. Since losing back-to-back league games around the Christmas holiday to drop out of the lead and, at one point, be seven points behind Liverpool, City has been in relentless form — winning five straight matches in all competitions and scoring 24 goals in the process. Among them was a 9-0 win over third-tier Burton in the English League Cup, when Jesus scored four times. Guardiola spoke ahead of the game about the club needing to rally around the striker because he might start to find life difficult after his mother, two older brothers and nephew returned to Brazil following an extended stay in Manchester to help Jesus acclimatize. And teammates Sane and Sterling could not have handed him easier opportunities to continue his scoring run. Wolves were potentially tricky opponents for City, given their strong record against the top six in the league. Nuno Espirito Santo's team drew against City at home in August and recently beat Tottenham. Boly's straight red card put paid to any chance of an upset at Etihad Stadium and Wolves failed to have a shot on target. And neither Boly nor Espirito Santo had any complaints about the decision, with the defender having got the ball in a challenge with Silva only to catch him with the follow-through. "The game 11 vs. 11 was the same as 11 vs. 10," Guardiola said. It was the 16th time this season that City has scored three or more goals. This latest victory moved the champion five points clear of third-placed Tottenham, which lost at home to Manchester United on Sunday. Liverpool will also be wary of City's improved form. "All we can do is win our own games," Guardiola said. "We spoke many times in the last hours about this to our players. We cannot control what they do. We can control what we do. The only way to do that is by being there. Maybe one day they fail and we try to be there. "But you can be sure if we don't win, they will be champions.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 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

Liverpool goes 6 points clear after Man City slips again

By Tony Jimenez, Associated Press Rafael Benitez has little doubt Liverpool is ready to end a 28-year wait to win the English title. While Liverpool coach Juergen Klopp refused to get carried away after his team surged six points clear at the top of the Premier League with a 4-0 win over Newcastle on Wednesday, Benitez was certain his former club had the quality to stay in first place for the rest of the season. "They showed they are good enough to win the title," Benitez said after watching his Newcastle side being dismantled at Anfield. "They have a very good team but a very good squad. When you want to win a league title you need to be consistent and they can do it." Defending champion Manchester City, which started the day in second position, suffered its second surprise loss in four days when it was beaten at Leicester 2-1. Tottenham followed up a 6-2 romp at Everton on Sunday with another big win as a 5-0 thrashing of Bournemouth took the London club one point ahead of Manchester City in the standings after 19 rounds, the midway point of the season. Paul Pogba grabbed two goals to help interim coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer celebrate his first home match in charge of sixth-placed Manchester United with a 3-1 victory against bottom club Huddersfield. Eden Hazard scored his 100th and 101st goals for the club as Chelsea won at Watford 2-1, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netted his 13th league goal in Arsenal's 1-1 draw at Brighton. Fulham climbed off the foot of the standings by drawing with Wolverhampton 1-1. A double from Lucas Digne led Everton to win at Burnley 5-1 and Crystal Palace, which beat Manchester City on Saturday, drew with Cardiff 0-0. LOW-KEY KLOPP Newcastle last won in the league at Liverpool in 1994, and its latest chance was damaged as early as the 11th minute thanks to a striker's finish from defender Dejan Lovren. Three minutes after the break, Paul Dummett hauled down Mohamed Salah in the box and Liverpool's top scorer bagged his sixth goal in five matches by converting the penalty. Xherdan Shaqiri made it 3-0 with 11 minutes to go, then substitute Fabinho bundled home a corner as the home team kept its 12th clean sheet of the campaign, the same number it achieved when last winning the title in 1990. Klopp, however, played down the significance of Liverpool's six-point lead. "That means nothing," he said. "I had no idea how any other teams were playing. Afterwards I got the results and I can say it didn't do a lot for me. It is just information. It's good we have six more points, but that is pretty much all." GUARDIOLA GLOOM Manchester City recalled Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne after Saturday's shock defeat at home to Crystal Palace but it had little effect as Pep Guardiola's men lost again at Leicester. Bernardo Silva gave the visitors a 14th-minute lead before Leicester, which caused an upset of its own at the weekend by winning at Chelsea 1-0, rallied with goals from Marc Albrighton and Roberto Pereira. To add to City's troubles, defender Fabian Delph was sent off for a bad tackle near the end. "The reality is we have lost three in four," Guardiola said. "We have made an incredible amount of points at this stage and if we can get the same, or more, in the second half of the season then we are fighting to win the championship. But at the moment, the reality is two teams are better than us." SON SHINES Two goals by Son Heung-min and one apiece from Christian Eriksen, Lucas Moura, and Harry Kane helped Tottenham outclass Bournemouth 5-0 and record an eighth win in nine league games. Just like Klopp, however, Tottenham coach Mauricio Pochettino refused to get overly excited: "It doesn't mean too much to us to be second or third, or first, I think the most important thing is where you finish in May.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 27th, 2018

Left alone: Alba proving perfect sidekick for Lionel Messi

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — With Lionel Messi wowing fans game after game, it's easy to overlook Jordi Alba, the player who often puts him in position to score so many impressive goals. Alba has become the indispensable sidekick for Barcelona's all-time leading scorer. "Leo and Jordi understand one another perfectly," coach Ernesto Valverde said after Saturday's 2-0 win over Celta Vigo when Alba helped set up both of Barcelona's goals. Alba first passed for Messi to shoot, with a rebound of a save falling to Ousmane Dembele to finish off. Alba then assisted Messi for his league-leading 15th goal of the season. "Their relationship clicks," Valverde said. "Sometimes rivals try to block their passing angles, but Jordi has a great sense of timing. And even though adversaries know it's coming, it continues to work." Alba has been running up and down Barcelona's left flank for seven seasons now, but his importance to his team's attack used to be secondary to the sparkling play of former stars Neymar, Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez. Neymar's exit two summers ago marked a turning point for Alba. With the Brazil forward no longer soaking up all the weight of the attack on Barcelona's left side, Alba was free to fully exploit his speed and passing ability. As Alba told Spanish sports daily Sport in 2017, "now I have the entire left side to myself, and that is much better." Messi often starts his attacks from the right or center of the field to have his preferred left boot set to shoot. That leaves Alba in an ideal position to stretch the defense with carefully timed bursts of speed to break into the area behind the opposition's backline, often after exchanging passes with Messi. The 29-year-old Alba has developed the knack of knowing where Messi will dart to in the box, often behind a dummy run by Luis Suarez, where he can receive Alba's passes in a scoring position. "They are very quick moves against defenses that really close down the open spaces," Alba said after Saturday's strong performance. "But Messi always waits for the opportune moment to find space, and I connect with him." Alba has done his part in ensuring Barcelona went into the Spanish league's winter break with a three-point lead atop the standings. "Most of the passes that I give Messi end up in goal," Alba said. "Leo never misses." ADIOS ATLETICO? Second-placed Atletico Madrid heads toward the winter transfer window with big questions about two of its top young players: France defender Lucas Hernandez and midfielder Thomas Partey. Hernandez has been linked to interest by Bayern Munich in triggering the 80 million euro ($91 million) buyout clause that would free him from his contract. While Atletico has denied that Hernandez wants to leave, coach Diego Simeone appears to accept that he could lose the 22-year-old defender. "Lucas knows what I told him. I love him a lot, we have watched him grow up," Simeone said after Saturday's 1-0 victory over Espanyol. "Let him decide what he thinks is best and I will support him." Thomas, who can play either as a holding midfielder or further up in the formation, has also made it publicly known that he wants to play more. "I have a deep affection for Atletico and I am grateful for all that it has done, as well as for the fans, but sometimes I feel unhappy at Atletico," Thomas said Saturday. LLORENTE'S MOMENT Ignored by previous managers, 23-year-old Marcos Llorente is playing well enough to threaten Casemiro's spot in the starting 11 as Real Madrid's holding midfielder. Llorente has started nine matches since Santiago Solari took over from the fired Julen Lopetegui two months ago, benefiting from Casemiro twisting an ankle. Llorente scored his first goal for Madrid on Saturday when he struck a powerful shot from outside the area to help beat Al Ain 4-1 in Abu Dhabi. Madrid won its third straight Club World Cup. "Life, like football, can change just like that," Llorente said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 24th, 2018