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Troubled Spain meets rival Portugal and Ronaldo at World Cup

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, right, plays the ball with teammates during the training session of Portugal at the 2018 soccer World Cup in Kratovo, outskirts Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 13.....»»

Category: newsSource: philippinetimes philippinetimesJun 14th, 2018

Portugal beats Algeria 3-0 in final warmup before World Cup

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — With Cristiano Ronaldo back in action, Portugal cruised to a 3-0 win over Algeria in its final warmup match before traveling to Russia for the World Cup. Ronaldo, who hadn't played since leading Real Madrid to a third straight Champions League title last month, set up one of Portugal's goals at the Stadium of Light. He also had one disallowed for offside before being substituted in the 75th minute. Ronaldo joined Portugal's squad on Monday, later than the rest of the squad, because of the Champions League final. Portugal opened the scoring in the 18th minute with a shot from inside the area by Goncalo Guedes after a nice head-pass by Bernardo Silva. Bruno Fernandes added to the lead in the 37th with a close-range header after a well-placed left-footed cross by Ronaldo, and Guedes netted his second goal early in the second half with a header after a cross by Raphael Guerreiro from the left side. Portugal scored another goal near the end but it was called off by video review because of a hand-ball by Guedes. "We played well, but there's still a lot to improve," Portugal coach Fernando Santos said. "We are not where we want to be but we will be improving during the tournament." Portugal, which will travel to Russia on Saturday, had already played two other warm-up matches, drawing Tunisia 2-2 and Belgium 0-0. Santos will take 13 players to Russia who helped the team win its first major title at the European Championship two years ago in France. Portugal will begin its World Cup campaign against Iberian rival Spain on June 15 in Sochi. Its other Group B matches will be against Morocco and Iran. Algeria did not qualify for the World Cup......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 8th, 2018

Atletico holds Real Madrid 1-1 in fight for 2nd place

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo scored for the 650th time in his career on Sunday but Antoine Griezmann responded with a goal of his own to leave Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid even in a city derby that allowed Barcelona to move closer to the Spanish league title. Atletico held Madrid 1-1 at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium to keep a four-point lead over its city rival in the fight for second place. Valencia later defeated Espanyol 1-0 to move past Madrid for third place, and within three points of Atletico. The draw at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium benefited league leader Barcelona, which defeated Leganes 3-1 on Saturday with a hat trick by Lionel Messi to stay 11 points in front of Atletico at the top with seven matches left. Atletico won La Liga in 2013-14 but has finished third behind either Barcelona or Madrid in all other years since 2012-13, which was the team's first full season under coach Diego Simeone. "I'm not happy because we wanted to win, we wanted the three points to try to stay close to Barcelona," Simeone said. "We needed more. Our goal is always to try to do the best we can against the powerhouses of Real Madrid and Barcelona. As an Atletico fan I would have been proud of how we have been competing against them." Madrid hasn't finished worse than second since 2014, when it trailed Atletico and Barcelona. Before then, the last time it failed to finish in the top two was in 2003-04, when it was fourth behind Valencia, Barcelona and Deportivo La Coruna. Ronaldo opened the scoring with his 650th career goal — for clubs and country — early in the second half with a shot from near the far post after a long cross by Gareth Bale from the left flank. Griezmann equalized less than five minutes later with a strike from near the penalty spot after a move started by Vitolo inside the area. "We deserved more, it's a shame," Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. "But in the end we also could have lost the match. This is how it goes in football." Of Ronaldo's 650 goals, 446 came with Madrid, 118 with Manchester United, 81 with Portugal and five with Sporting Lisbon. Ronaldo has scored 20 goals in his last 10 matches in all competitions, including his acclaimed bicycle kick in the 3-0 first-leg win at Juventus in the Champions League quarterfinals midweek. Zidane rested some of his regular starters ahead of the return leg against Juventus on Wednesday at Bernabeu, including midfielders Luka Modric and Casemiro. Striker Karim Benzema also started from the bench, replacing Ronaldo in the 64th. Atletico hasn't lost at Bernabeu in five seasons now in the Spanish league. Madrid, which had won six in a row, had the most dangerous scoring chances throughout. But the hosts brought out a great performance by Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak, who made one of his best saves on a last-minute free kick taken by Sergio Ramos. "Oblak is a great player, he has been showing it game after game," Zidane said. ___ VALENCIA MOVES UP Rodrigo scored with a close-range header in the seventh minute against Espanyol and Valencia held on for its fifth straight victory. It was the sixth goal in the last five matches for Rodrigo, the Brazilian-born striker who is among Spain's attacking options for the World Cup in Russia. Espanyol, winless in three matches, stayed 14th. ___ HUGE WIN FOR LEVANTE Levante took a big step toward avoiding demotion by defeating Las Palmas 2-1 with an injury-time winner by Jose Campana, opening an eight-point gap to the relegation zone with seven matches left. Las Palmas is in second-to-last place and two points behind Deportivo La Coruna, which on Friday earned its first win in nine matches under coach Clarence Seedorf by defeating last-place Malaga 3-2 at home. Levante opened the scoring at Ciutat de Valencia Stadium with a goal by Jorge "Koke" Andujar in the 35th, but David Garcia equalized in the 50th before Campana calmly found the far corner for the winner in a late breakaway for the hosts. Levante's winner came while the team played with 10 men as Koke was sent off for a hard foul in the 86th. Levante also had Ruben Rochina ejected in the fourth minute of injury time. ___ SOCIEDAD THRASHES GIRONA Mikel Oyarzabal scored twice as Real Sociedad routed Girona 5-0 at home for its first win in four matches. The result moved Sociedad to 12th place. Girona, winless in three matches, is eighth......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 9th, 2018

LOOK: Six must-see matches at 2018 World Cup

By James Ellingworth, Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — Next year's World Cup sees an old rivalry revived as Spain and Portugal meet in the group stage. Defeat for either 2010 World Cup winner Spain or reigning European champion Portugal means they would need to be careful against fellow Group B nations Morocco and Iran to avoid early elimination. Meanwhile, reigning champion Germany starts its defense against Mexico at Moscow's vast Luzhniki stadium in another centerpiece game. Here are six World Cup group stage games to watch: ___ RUSSIA vs. SAUDI ARABIA June 14, Moscow It may look more like a friendly than a show-stopping World Cup opener, but the first game of the tournament is always special. Ranked 63rd and 65th in the world respectively, the Saudis and Russians are the worst teams in the tournament according to FIFA. At least they're evenly matched, which could make for an exciting spectacle. Saudi Arabia won their only previous meeting 4-2 in a 1993 friendly. ___ PORTUGAL vs. SPAIN June 15, Sochi For many, this will be the game that really kicks off the World Cup in style — Cristiano Ronaldo against Andres Iniesta, the reigning European champion against the 2010 World Cup winner. Spain beat Portugal at the 2010 World Cup, and again in the semifinals of the 2012 European Championship, going on to win the tournament both times. Their World Cup meeting on the Black Sea coast may not be a thriller, though — the 2010 games finished 1-0, and the second was a goalless draw decided on penalties. ___ ICELAND vs. ARGENTINA June 16, Moscow The smallest nation ever to qualify for the World Cup has a huge reward. Lionel Messi's Argentina risks becoming the latest victim of the Icelanders, who beat England and drew with Portugal at last year's European Championship, winning the hearts of neutral fans across the continent along the way. If Argentina drops points, it will be under more pressure to beat tenacious Croatia and Nigeria in its next games. The stadium in Moscow has a capacity of 45,000 — or more than 10 percent of Iceland's population of around 330,000. If last year is anything to go by, there will be a huge exodus of Icelanders heading to Russia. ___ GERMANY vs. MEXICO June 17, Moscow The title defense begins here for Joachim Loew and Germany. The venue — Moscow's 81,000-capacity Luzhniki — befits a world champion, while Mexico brings quality opponents like forward Javier Hernandez and midfielder Giovani dos Santos. Anything less than a win will be a disappointment for Germany, which beat Mexico 4-1 in the Confederations Cup semifinals in June. Germany showed its immense strength in depth by winning that tournament with an experimental team lacking some of its biggest stars. Sweden and South Korea are on hand in Group F to take advantage of any dropped points. ___ SERBIA vs. SWITZERLAND June 22, Kaliningrad Switzerland is a long way from the Balkans, but there could be a Yugoslavian rivalry in Group E. The Swiss have several players of Kosovan and Albanian heritage in their squad, such as midfielders Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri, while the coach is Vladimir Petkovic, who comes from a Bosnian Croat background. That won't escape the attention of the Serbian fans, whose games against other Balkan nations routinely require heavy security because of the region's long-running rivalries between ethnic groups. With Brazil the heavyweight in Group E, both teams will likely fight for second place, with Costa Rica also in the mix. ___ ENGLAND vs. BELGIUM June 28, Kaliningrad It's almost an English Premier League game when England meets Belgium in their final group stage game. England coach Gareth Southgate predicts "banter" at various Premier League clubs, thanks to Belgium's Premier League stars like Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois and Romelu Lukaku. Belgium's coach Roberto Martinez is a Premier League fixture too from his time with Everton and Wigan. If both England and Belgium have won their preceding games against Panama and Tunisia, the meeting could lose its edge — but if either team risks elimination it will be a crucial fixture......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 2nd, 2017

Portugal can eliminate Morocco from World Cup

MOSCOW --- Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal can send Morocco to an early World Cup exit on Wednesday. A second straight defeat would ensure elimination for the North African side which has not let an opposing player score in this World Cup campaign since 2015. An own goal by Morocco forward Aziz Bouhaddouz in stoppage-time was decisive in a 1-0 loss to Iran last Friday in a game it mostly dominated. "Because they lost the first game, Morocco will give everything. They have no other choice," Portugal forward Andre Silva said. Portugal's opening 3-3 draw with Spain in a World Cup classic means Morocco must take at least one point before the Spanish play Iran in Wednesday's late game in...Keep on reading: Portugal can eliminate Morocco from World Cup.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated News5 hr. 44 min. ago

Ronaldo with chance to prove he can also thrive at World Cup

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo slides on his knees on the pitch as he celebrates after scoring his side's 2nd goal during the group B match between Portugal and Spain at the 2018 soccer Wor.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsJun 17th, 2018

Planet’s greatest player Portugal’s man of the hour

Spain was on the cusp of a perfect ending following days of turmoil, minutes from a spectacular triumph over Iberian rival Portugal to start its World Cup......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJun 17th, 2018

Reports: Cristiano Ronaldo strikes deal on tax fraud case

(AP Photo/Francisco Seco). Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo gestures to the fans at the end of the group B match between Portugal and Spain at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Fisht Stadium in Soc.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsJun 16th, 2018

Reports: Cristiano Ronaldo strikes deal on tax fraud case

MADRID (AP) — Spanish media reports that Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo has agreed to plead guilty to tax fraud and pay a fine of 18.8 million euros ($21.8 milllion) in exchange for a prison sentence that would most likely be suspended. Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported Friday that Ronaldo is ready to admit to four counts of tax fraud that would carry a prison sentence of two years. Prison sentences not over two years in Spain are often suspended for first-time offenders. The deal has yet to be ratified by Spain's Tax Office, according to different Spanish media including Europa Press news agency. Neither Spain's Tax Office, its Ministry of Justice nor people close to Ronaldo would confirm the existence of a deal when called by The Associated Press. Reports of the deal came hours before Ronaldo scored three goals to give Portugal a 3-3 draw with Spain in their opening match of the World Cup in Russia. One year ago, a Spanish state prosecutor accused Ronaldo of four counts of tax fraud from 2011-14 worth 14.7 million euros ($16.5 million). The prosecutor accused Ronaldo of having used shell companies outside Spain to hide income made from image rights. The accusation does not involve his salary from Real Madrid. Ronaldo denied any wrongdoing when questioned by a judge last July. In 2016, Barcelona forward Lionel Messi received a suspended 21-month jail sentence after being found guilty of defrauding tax authorities of 4.1 million euros (then $4.6 million)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 16th, 2018

Ronaldo hat-trick steals show as Portugal and Spain draw classic

SOCHI, Russia – Cristiano Ronaldo made it clear that he means business at this World Cup after his stunning hat-trick secured a 3-3 draw here with Spain in a tournament classic and saw him reach another career landmark.  The Real Madrid superstar crashed in an 88th-minute free-kick to ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJun 15th, 2018

Ronaldo 3, Spain 3: Star s hat trick earns draw

MOSCOW (AP) - Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat trick, capped by a dipping free kick in the 88th minute as Portugal and Spain played to a wild 3-3 draw in the Group B opener for both countries in the World Cup. Ronaldo scored twice in the first half, only to see Spain rally for a 3-2 lead after two goals in three minutes early in the second half. Nacho Fernandez put Spain in front with a weaving half-volley from outside the penalty area in the 58th  that bounced off the inside of the far post and trickled into the net.  Ronaldo had one more brilliant moment to come. Earning a free kick from about 20 yards out, Ronaldo's shot got just high enough over the wall and dipped under the crossbar. Goalkeeper David De Gea never moved and the Iberian neighbors each earned a point.  Ronaldo scored on a penalty kick he earned in the fourth minute and again just before halftime on a left-footed shot from the top of the penalty area that De Gea should have saved.  Diego Costa scored twice for the Spaniards, including a 55th-minute tally off a beautiful set piece set up by Andres Iniesta's chip to the end line and a Sergio Busquets header back into the middle of the penalty area. The draw capped a week of turmoil for Spain after the firing of coach Julen Lopetegui. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 15th, 2018

Kompany exits early as Portugal holds Belgium to 0-0 draw

BRUSSELS (AP) — European champion Portugal held Belgium to a tame 0-0 draw Saturday, a result overshadowed by fears that defender Vincent Kompany may have sustained an injury early in the second half. Without waiting to be substituted, the injury-prone Kompany walked off shortly after the break after appearing to overstretch while making a defensive challenge. It was not immediately clear if he was injured or left the field as a precaution. The Manchester City defender's career has been blighted by injuries, but he appeared fit ahead of the pre-World Cup friendly at the King Baudouin stadium. Midfielder Kevin De Bruyne said it was too early to say whether 32-year-old Kompany was seriously hurt. "Maybe he only has something small to deal with," De Bruyne said. Kompany's departure was the major talking point in a disappointing goalless draw which underscored that Belgium's star-studded squad still has work to do if it is to live up to its billing as one of the favorites to win the World Cup in Russia. Belgium fans jeered their team off the pitch at full time. Portugal was without Cristiano Ronaldo, who was rested after winning the Champions League a week ago with Real Madrid. Without him, Portugal missed the handful of chances it managed to carve out. Portugal faces neighbor Spain, Iran and Morocco in Group B at the World Cup, while Belgium is in Group G alongside England, Panama and Tunisia. Belgium opened strongly, outplaying Portugal in the midfield, but could not turn its pressure into a goal. Portugal weathered the early storm and gradually took control. In the closing minutes of the first half, Bernardo Silva saw his powerful shot deflected just wide by City teammate Kompany and Gelson Martins shot across the face of the goal as Portugal came close to breaking the deadlock. Belgium's only serious effort of the opening half came when Yannick Carrasco shot just wide in the 31st minute. Belgium coach Roberto Martinez made four changes in the break, but the substitutes could not change the team's fortunes. Despite the Red Devils' wealth of midfield and attacking quality, it was left back Jan Vertonghen who came closest after the break. The Tottenham defender nearly marked his 100th appearance for Belgium with a goal, but saw Portugal goalkeeper Beto tip his effort over the bar just before the hour mark. "It wasn't bad, but we could do better," De Bruyne said. "We still have two or three weeks to get ready.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 3rd, 2018

HEADS UP: 10 sporting events to watch out for in 2018

2017 has come and gone, and it delivered some exciting sporting moments that has every sports fan clamoring for more. Worry not, though, as 2018 looks primed to satisfy even the most die-hard Pinoy sports aficionado with its bevy of local and international sporting events. Let's welcome the upcoming year with 10 of the most exciting sporting events to watch out for this 2018.   NCAA 93 & UAAP 80 VOLLEYBALL The cagers are out, and the spikers are in. Volleyball season begins this January 4 with NCAA season 93, followed by the 81st season of the UAAP this February. NCAA volleybelles are once again ready to take center court, and the defending women's champion Arellano University Lady Chiefs, led by heavy hitters Jovie Prado and Regine Arocha are banking on their undisputed team play to propel them to another title. Playing inspired volleyball throughout the season, the Lady Chiefs stunned the thrice-to-beat San Sebastian Lady Stags in the Finals last year, ultimately ending Grethcel Soltones' collegiate career with a dud. Rising stars like San Beda's Ces Racraquin, JRU's Karen Montojo also make the upcoming NCAA volleyball season worth waiting for. UAAP volleyball begins a month later the NCAA tournament, but expect the field to be even more tumultuous. With no clear-cut number 2 team to challenge the two-time defending champions DLSU Lady Spikers, it will be a toss-up against basically the other seven schools to step up. Dangerous squads include the much-improved Adamson Lady Falcons, last year's pleasant surprise UST, the dynastic Ateneo Lady Eagles, and the intact NU Lady Bulldogs and FEU Lady Tamaraws. NBA ALL-STAR GAME & 2018 NBA FINALS The annual showcase of the NBA's brightest stars just got a major revamp. That's right, the league has done away with the traditional East-West teams, and will now have a playground-type pool selection of players between its two captains when the exhibition tips off in Los Angeles. This raises a lot of interesting questions: Will the captains pick their teammates or will they go with a more controversial pick and select a rival? Will we able to know the order of the draft? Will this actually work in making the game better? While answers to those questions might not be answered until a few months, one thing's for sure, the NBA Finals, the spectacle that actually counts, will be epic. Will we be treated to Golden State Warriors vs Cleveland Cavaliers Pt. 4? Or will another squad swoop in to spoil the party? The league has indeed improved, with surprising teams like the Milwaukee Bucks, the Indiana Pacers, the Detroit Pistons out in the East already staking claim to playoff spots, and the Wild, Wild, West staying true to its monicker. The Houston Rockets and the perennial powerhouse San Antonio Spurs are still the favorites to pull the rug under the Warriors, while the Oklahoma City Thunder is right behind. Either way, with months of hoops already invested in it, the NBA Finals will surely be another explosive one, as it always is.   HOMECOMING QUEEN Alyssa Valdez spent the majority of 2017 overseas, spreading her wings in Taiwan with volleyball club Attack Line. This 2018 though, The Phenom plans on staying in the Philippines, armed with two year’s worth of international experience to focus on her home club team in the Creamline Cool Smashers.  "Next year, I'm planning to focus sa Creamline. Just this year, I travelled a lot talaga. They supported me throughout, esepcially doon sa National Team stint ko. They sacrificed a lot for me talaga. I think I have to focus sa team ko talaga,” she said last week.Alyssa Valdez just got scarier.   PINOY HOOP DREAMS: REMY MARTIN, KOBE PARAS  Two proudly Pinoy ballers based in the U.S. set out this 2018 to continue shooting for our island nation’s humble hoop dreams. Kobe Paras is still serving residency this 2017-2018 season with the California State University-Northridge Matadors, but his development is sure to be a joy to watch. The 6’6” Pinoy swingman accomplished a tour of duty with Gilas Pilipinas earlier in the year, and many Pinoys saw why we should all be excited about high-flying forward. Remy Martin, a 5’11” point guard dazzled in his first few games with the Arizona State Sun Devils, with his athleticism, explosiveness and feisty defense. The Filipino-American cager is proud of his roots and hopes to represent flag and country with Gilas Pilipinas in the future.   WHO (OR WHAT) IS NEXT FOR MANNY PACQUIAO? The never-ending saga of what’s next for Manny Pacquiao looks like it'll seep into 2018.  Following a rather controversial loss to Australian boxer Jeff Horn, Pacquiao has been “courting” the likes of Floyd Mayweather Jr. for a rematch, even taking to Instagram to ”greet” MMA superstar Conor McGregor before finally admitting that he’s been in talks with the Irish fighter’s camp. Whether he actually retires from boxing for good, or takes on another foe in the squared circle, one thing’s for sure: we’ll all have our eyes on Manny Pacquiao’s next move.   2018 WORLD CUP RUSSIA™ After four years, the best of world football will once again converge, this time in Russia to crown the Kings of the beautiful sport. The stage is set, the groups are finalized, and the 32 squads are promising the best 30-day football extravaganza in the hopes of dethroning defending champions Germany this June. Some group stage clashes to look out for are Germany vs Mexico, England vs Belgium, Portugal vs Spain, to name a few. June couldn’t come soon enough.   CHRISTIAN STANDHARDINGER'S PBA DEBUT No PBA rookie has probably come into the league as pro-ready as the Filipino-German standout Christian Standhardinger. The 6’9” big man was the consensus top overall pick of the 2017 PBA draft, and was also at the center of the controversial trade that sent Kia Picanto’s rights to the number 1 selection to the already-dominant San Miguel. While the trade did go down, so did former commissioner Chito Narvasa. Standhardinger’s entry to the PBA has come at a cost, but San Miguel is more than ready to wait one more conference to bulk up their already stacked squad. Seeing Standharinger play alongside 6’11” center and reigning MVP June Mar Fajardo, versatile forward Arwind Santos, and the Beermen’s bevy of guards in Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter, and Chris Ross, is definitely a sight to see, just look at how he's tearing it up in the ASEAN Basketball League.    2018 ASIAN GAMES INDONESIA The Philippines’ less than stellar performance at the 2017 Southeast Asian Games was met with widespread flak. Not directed at our athletes however, but aimed at our sports development and governing body for its subpar work in getting our sports representatives ready. While the 2018 Asian Games isn’t so far away, a handful of Pinoy medalists from the SEA Games are going into the continental meet with high hopes. After dominating the SEA Games’ triathlon event, our Filipino endurance athletes, led by gold medalists Kim Mangrobang, and Nikko Huelgas, are once again primed to take home hardware. Marathoner Mary Joy Tabal, and boxers John Marvin, and Eumir Marcial, all gold medalists at Malaysia, are all bright spots that could soon unravel into full-fledged stars come 2018.   GILAS PILIPINAS IN THE FIBA WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS It’s official, basketball is coming home to the Philippines this 2023 by way of the FIBA World Cup, but Gilas Pilipinas will first have to try its luck in the 2019 meet. After dealing with Chinese Taipei and Japan this 2017 for a perfect 2-0 slate in the qualifiers, Gilas Pilipinas still has to face the Japanese anew, and the powerhouse Australian team early in 2018. A good showing against these squads will help Gilas strengthen its bid to international basketball’s biggest stage before we actually host the event in six years’ time.   UAAP 81 BASKETBALL UAAP season 80 just came to an end, but the next season just got way more interesting. Aside from the title defense of the intact Ateneo Blue Eagles and their ongoing rivalry with La Salle, a certain move by a coach has shaken up the league. With Aldin Ayo reportedly accepting the job as the new head coach of the struggling University of Sto. Tomas, we might just be witnesses to the rebirth of the once proud basketball program under the fiery mentor. That, and the way the DLSU Green Archers can adjust from the departure of Ayo and former two-time MVP Ben Mbala, key cogs to their season 79 championship run. The tight race for the MVP award will also be one to watch, with Mbala gone, it’s up to the local stars to step up to the challenge......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 31st, 2017

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

Ronaldo and Portugal head to World Cup looking for more

em>By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press /em> Cristiano Ronaldo is headed to the World Cup with Portugal, and some of his teammates are already expecting another title. Ronaldo, as usual, was the country's key player as it won nine straight qualifiers to reach the tournament in Russia. And that came after the Real Madrid forward led the way to winning last year's European Championship, Portugal's first major trophy. 'Portugal always plays to win, and just like we did at Euro 2016, we are going to try to win the World Cup as well,' Portugal midfielder Bernardo Silva said after the 2-0 win over Switzerland at the Stadium of Light. Here's a look at some of the reasons why Portugal will be among the favorites at next year's World Cup: ___ strong>DECISIVE RONALDO /strong> Portugal again relied on the talent of Ronaldo, who thrived from the start of qualifying and finished with 15 goals in nine matches. He was one goal short of the qualifying record set by Poland striker Robert Lewandowski this year. Ronaldo scored in every qualifier he played but two — the win over the Swiss on Tuesday and the 1-0 win at Hungary in September, when he earned an assist with a perfect cross for Andre Silva's winning header. He didn't start in the 2-0 win at Andorra last week because he wasn't fully fit, but he came off the bench in the second half and scored the team's first goal and set up Andre Silva's second. Ronaldo didn't play in the team's opening loss at Switzerland because he was still recovering from a knee injury sustained in the Euro 2016 final. ___ strong>BALANCED SQUAD /strong> Portugal cruised after the opening setback at Switzerland, outscoring opponents 32-4 and finishing with the fourth-best qualifying campaign among all teams, behind Germany, Belgium and Spain. Only those three teams scored more goals than Portugal, and Spain and England were the only two nations which conceded fewer, three each. 'Portugal showed that it has a quality squad that can face any team out there,' Portugal coach Fernando Santos said. Among the team's victories were consecutive 6-0 routs of Andorra and the Faeroe Islands. It also defeated third-place Hungary 3-0 at home and 1-0 in Budapest. 'Even after the loss to Switzerland, we never doubted that we were going to finish first in the group,' Portugal midfielder Joao Mario said. 'We just had to do our job.' ___ strong>TIGHT GROUP /strong> Santos said he feels he has a unique group of players in his hands. 'I have a special relationship with the players,' he said. 'I have a lot of faith in my players and they know that. It's not easy to have 25 players with this mentality, generating such a fantastic atmosphere.' Bernardo Silva said they feed off the coach's confidence, and Mario said that all the players are behind him no matter what. ___ strong>KICK-STARTING PREPARATIONS /strong> Portugal is expected to begin its World Cup preparations with a friendly at neighboring Spain in November. The match is expected to be officially confirmed in the coming days. 'We are looking forward to having a good run in the World Cup,' Portugal midfielder William Carvalho said. 'But right now it's time to enjoy what we just did.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 12th, 2017

The thunderclap heads to Russia: Iceland gets World Cup spot

em>By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press /em> MADRID (AP) — The Icelandic thunderclap is making its way to Russia. Iceland added to its incredible European Championship campaign by becoming the smallest nation ever to qualify for the World Cup on Monday. That means the Viking chant popularized by Iceland fans at Euro 2016 will be heard across Russia next year. Iceland secured an automatic berth by defeating Kosovo 2-0 in Reykjavik to win Group I and kick-start celebrations in the island nation of about 330,000 people. Fireworks were set off after the match at a packed Laugardalsvollur Stadium, and captain Aron Gunnarssonled immediately led the crowd in the traditional chant in which players and fans yell and clap their hands at a rhythmic crescendo that is likened to a Viking war chant. The chant was a success when Iceland made its major tournament debut at the Euros in France last year, when it stunned by reaching the quarterfinals after drawing with Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal in the group stage and eliminating England in the last 16. Serbia also qualified for the World Cup for the second time since becoming an independent nation in 2006. Ireland secured a playoff spot from Group D, while Gareth Bale's Wales was eliminated only 15 months after reaching the semifinals at Euro 2016. Spain and Italy won their last qualifying games in Group G, which had already been won by the Spaniards. Italy was already assured of a playoff spot. Here's a look at the action on Monday: strong>GROUP D /strong> Serbia qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 2010 by beating Georgia 1-0 in Belgrade with a goal by Aleksandar Prijovic's in the 74th minute. The result left Wales and Ireland to decide their fate in the Celtic showdown in Cardiff, and the Irish got the victory and a playoff berth after James McClean's 57th-minute goal following a defensive mix-up by the Welsh. 'That last half hour seemed an eternity,' Ireland manager Martin O'Neill said. 'We had to withstand pressure but we knew at some stage we would have to try to win the game and we did it.' Bale couldn't play for Wales because of injury. Serbia finished with two more points than Ireland, and four more than Wales. The Irish will try to qualify for the World Cup for a fourth time — and first since 2002. They will not be seeded in the playoffs draw which will take place on Tuesday. strong>GROUP G /strong> Spain ended its qualifying campaign by beating Israel 1-0 in Jerusalem, while Italy scraped past Albania 1-0 in Shkoder in another poor effort which will do little to inspire confidence in coach Gian Piero Ventura and his team. 'We have some limitations at the moment but today there was the desire to try and do things,' Ventura said. With a World Cup berth already secured, Spain played without most of its regular starters in Jerusalem but won thanks to a long-range strike by Asier Illarramendi in the second half It finished unbeaten with nine wins and a 1-1 draw against Italy in Turin last year. The Italians ended five points behind Spain. Macedonia beat Liechtenstein 4-0 in the match between the two bottom sides in the group. Liechtenstein was outscored 39-1 in its 10 qualifiers. strong>GROUP I /strong> Iceland made history by beating last-place Kosovo with a goal by Gylfi Sigurdsson in the first half and another by Johann Gudmundsson in the second, keeping the momentum from its inspiring run at Euro 2016. The result left the Icelanders two points in front of Croatia, which beat Ukraine 2-0 in Kiev to secure the playoff spot. Ukraine ended three points behind Croatia in third place. It was the tightest group in European qualifying. Iceland entered the final round with a two-point lead over both Croatia and Ukraine. Kosovo completed its maiden qualifying campaign for a major tournament with a single point from a draw at Finland. Iceland, unbeaten in 13 competitive home games, will be the smallest nation in terms of population to play in soccer's showcase event. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 10th, 2017

Brazil held to 1-1 draw by Switzerland at World Cup

By DEREK GATOPOULOS ,  Associated Press ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia (AP) — Brazil joined the list of big teams struggling to win their opening matches at the World Cup in Russia. The five-time champions were held to a 1-1 draw by Switzerland on Sunday, a few hours after four-time champion Germany was beaten by Mexico 1-0. Philippe Coutinho gave Brazil the lead in the 20th minute with a volley that bounced in off the right post. Steven Zuber then headed in the equalizer in the 50th. Mexican referee Cesar Ramos dismissed complaints that Zuber had shoved defender Miranda before getting to the corner from Xherdan Shaqiri. Besides Brazil and Germany, Argentina was held to a 1-1 draw by Iceland on Saturday and Spain and Portugal played to a 3-3 draw on Friday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 17th, 2018

World Cup duel: Ronaldo 1 - Messi 0

MOSCOW, Russia – Cristiano Ronaldo has emphatically won the first round of his World Cup duel with eternal rival Lionel Messi – revelling in the adulation after his dramatic hat-trick while the Argentine flopped against Iceland. Messi knew he had to find something special to match the Portuguese on Saturday, June ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJun 17th, 2018

Reports: Cristiano Ronaldo strikes deal on tax fraud case

    MADRID --- Spanish media reports that Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo has agreed to plead guilty to tax fraud and pay a fine of 18.8 million euros ($21.8 milllion) in exchange for a prison sentence that would most likely be suspended. Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported Friday that Ronaldo is ready to admit to four counts of tax fraud that would carry a prison sentence of two years. Prison sentences not over two years in Spain are often suspended for first-time offenders. The deal has yet to be ratified by Spain's Tax Office, according to different Spanish media including Europa Press news agency. Neither Spain's Tax Office, its Ministry of Justice nor p...Keep on reading: Reports: Cristiano Ronaldo strikes deal on tax fraud case.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJun 16th, 2018

WORLD CUP: Spain ready to leave coaching woes in the past

Spain head coach Fernando Hierro, top centre, touches his forehead as gives instructions to his players during Spain's official training on the eve of the group B match between Portugal and Sp.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsJun 15th, 2018

Own-goal earns Iran 1-0 win over Morocco at World Cup

By STEVE DOUGLAS,  AP Sports Writer ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — Aziz Bouhaddouz headed a free kick into his own net in the fifth minute of injury time to gift Iran a 1-0 victory over Morocco on Friday (Saturday, PHL time) at the World Cup. Only on the field as a 77th-minute substitute, the Morocco striker dived to reach a curling cross from the left but headed the ball past goalkeeper Monir El Kajoui. There was an explosion of joy among the Iran squad, with coaching staff and substitutes sprinting onto the field and jumping for joy. It was Iran's second win in 13 matches at the World Cup, and Asia's first since the 2010 tournament in South Africa. With Spain and Portugal the other teams in Group B, Friday's match in St. Petersburg was regarded as a must-win game for the two outsiders......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 15th, 2018