M.

Manchester City steamroll Steaua Bucharest 5-0 in Champion’s League Playoff

Manchester City steamroll Steaua Bucharest 5-0 in Champion's League PlayoffManchester City demolished Steaua Bucharest 0-5 in the first leg of the Champion’s League playoffs, thereby all but confirming their spot for the final draws before the group stage.

Argentine forward Sergio Aguero missed two penalties in the first 20 minutes, but still went on to score a hat trick in a pretty one sided affair. David Silva and new recruit Manuel Agudo Nolito were the other scorers in the goal fest.

The game saw both sides enjoy equal possession, but Manchester City looked untouchable as they dominated every other aspect of the game. David Silva opened the scoring in the 13th minute after a cutting pass from Raheem Sterling, as he drove a low shot under the Bucharest keeper.

Sergio Aguero missed two successive penalties in the 7th and the 20th minute, with the first being saved by Nita and the second soaring above the crossbar into the crowd. However, he made up for the misses by scoring three later in the match, in the 41st, 78th and 89th minute.

Spanish forward Nolito scored minutes after the second half kicked off, in the 49th minute.

The game, which took to the headlines after Yaya Toure was dropped from the squad, all but finalized a spot for Pep Guardiola’s side in the Champion’s League this year. Bucharest looked pretty toothless in their attack, with a few rash tackles thrown in between.

City shall host Steaua Bucharest in the return leg at the Etihad on 25 August.

U.

US Women’s Team Loses to Sweden, Fans Threaten To Boycott Swedish Brands

No, this is not a joke post. US fans have reached a new low of what can only be describes as hypocrisy and astounding stupidity, as most of them took to social media platforms after the US Women’s Football Team lost out to the Swedish team in the Olympics. However, the most remarkably humorous fact is that most of them are threatening to boycott Swedish brands like Ikea and H&M.

It is pretty easy to be a patriot when your side is winning. It is easier, and more romantic to be a patriot when your player has overcome hardships and written a fairytale of winning (a la Biles and Manuel Simone). It is thrilling, almost overpowering to have the best in a sport (cue Katie Ledecky). But that is not the case with most Americans who have recently turned into Olympic specialists, when some other team does the same feats mentioned above.

It wouldn’t be so bad with the fans, but when a participant takes the same stand, you have to start thinking. USA Women’s goalkeeper Hope Solo, who is already hated by the locals for her off-pitch ‘activities’, clearly did not take the defeat in the spirit of the game, and took to saying, “I think we showed a lot of heart. I’m very proud of this team. And I also think we played a bunch of cowards. The best team did not win today.”

So much for a sportsman’s spirit.

All that is to be said is, if the American viewers do indeed intend to go along with the boycott of Swedish brands, here’s some other things you might consider boycotting; Suicide Squad (Joel Kinnaman, who plays Rick Flag, is Swedish), Skype (one of the service’s inventors was a Swede), coffees from Fika and music by Robyn and Lykke Li.

Nej? Okay then.

I.

India Sail Through Third Test, Clinch Series in Caribbean

India cruised to a massive 237 run win in the third test against West Indies, as they bowled the hosts out for a paltry 108 in the fourth innings on the last day of the match. The visitors also secured a 2-0 infallible lead in the four match series, thereby clinching the first test series for new head coach Anil Kumble.

After drawing the second test, the hosts looked to be in the driving seat on Day One, as they restricted the Indian top order to 126/5, before Wriddhiman Saha and man of the match Ravichandran Ashwin scored a century each to take India to a respectable 353. West Indies in return started their innings on a high note, before rain washed away Day Three, making us wonder if the match was headed towards a draw.

However, some exceptional bowling from Bhuvaneshwar Kumar (5-33) on Day Four saw West Indies restricted to 225, and some quick runs from the Indians on Day Four saw the hosts chasing a daunting target of 346 on the final day.

West Indies looked to be in trouble from the start of their second innings, and lost both their openers with only 4 runs on board. The third and fourth wicket partnerships tried to stabilize the ship, but with the fall of Chase at 64, it was all downhill for the West Indies, and the batting order spiraled out of control. The hosts lost their last 6 wickets for 40 runs, and were bowled out for 108.

This victory also meant India won the series, and Ravi Ashwin was awarded the man of the match for his fourth test century (second in this series) and 3 wickets in the match.

The win also made Virat Kohli the first Indian captain to win two tests in the Caribbean, and was India’s third largest win outside Asia in terms of runs.

The final test of the tour will be played in Trinidad, starting on 18 August.

A.

Alastair Cook Plans To Continue As England Skipper After Pakistan Series

England test skipper Alastair Cook has said that though he might not be the best captain the Three Lions have ever had, he has no plans to give up his spot so soon, and that he is enjoying it.

Alastair CookCook, who is currently one test win short of equaling his predecessor Andrew Strauss’s record of 24 and 3 short of England’s national record of 26 wins by Michael Vaughan, spoke on the eve of the fourth and final test of the home series against Pakistan.

England, currently leading the series 2-1, have a chance of reaching no. 1 in the test rankings, provided India do not win their last 2 test matches away against the West Indies.

A series win would also mean England will hold all nine bilateral trophies against the remaining test playing nations.

Cook, who had previously spoken about returning to the top of the rankings during his career, will discuss his future with England’s director of cricket Andrew Strauss, as this would be a good high point in his career to step down.

However, with winter tours to Bangladesh and India on the horizon, followed by the 2017-18 Ashes tour, Cook would still have some targets to fulfill before he steps down. The whitewash loss in the previous Ashes will be a memory Cook would want to overturn during his tenure at the head of the team.

The last time England were top of the test rankings was way back in 2011, under Andrew Strauss, and Cook believes his current crop of players can go farther than that.

England play Pakistan at The Oval in London in the final test of the tour.

 

A.

Arsenal Close In On Valencia Defender Shkodran Mustafi

Arsenal have agreed to personal terms with Valencia CF’s German defender Shkodran Mustafi, according to the player’s agent.

Ali Bulut told the German website Spox that a deal had been agreed in principle for the 24 year old international. “It now just remains for the teams to come to an agreement over the fee,” he added.

Valencia Defender Shkodran MustafiIf this deal is completed, Mustafi – who is currently priced by Valencia at £25m – would be a replacement to Arsenal’s long-term injury victims Gabriel Paulista and Per Mertesacker.

Gabriel faces up to two months on the sidelines with an ankle injury suffered in a pre-season friendly against Manchester City in Sweden, while Per Mertesacker is reportedly set to miss four to five months of action with a knee problem. Meanwhile, Laurent Koscielny is not yet fully match fit after his intensive involvement in France’s Euro 2016 campaign.

The defensive predicament with injuries had left manager Arsène Wenger with a problem over his selection for Sunday’s Premier League fixture, home to Liverpool – with Calum Chambers most likely to partner Nacho Monreal, and Kieran Gibbs at left-back.

Mustafi joined Valencia in 2014 for €8m after having impressed at Sampdoria. Mustafi also has three years worth of experience in the Premier League, after he joined Everton aged 17.

The defender has been capped 12 times by the German National team, having scored his only goal in the Euros earlier this summer. Mustafi was also part of the 2014 World Cup winning squad, after replacing an injured Marco Reus in the side that traveled to Brazil.

 

R.

Real Madrid Make Thrilling Comeback in Super Cup To Beat Sevilla 3-2

Real Madrid Make Thrilling Comeback in Super Cup To Beat Sevilla 3-2Dramatic scenes ensued at the Lerkendal Stadium in Trondheim, as a late, late goal by fullback Dani Carvajal in extra time ensured Real Madrid won their second UEFA Super Cup in three years, as they beat Sevilla 3-2.

Real Madrid had looked all done and dusted at 1-2 deep into added time before Sergio Ramos equalized (reminiscences of his equalizers in two previous Champion’s League Finals) and sent the match into extra time, in the second half of which Dani Carvajal scored a stunning goal to secure a dramatic victory for Los Blancos.

Sevilla, who looked strong for most part of the game, suffered their third successive loss in the UEFA Super Cup, after the three time reigning Europa League champions lost to Barcelona and Real Madrid in the two years before.

Zidane was all praise for his team after the game ended. “In football you never know what’s going to happen. The good thing about tonight is that we knew it was going to be difficult, but we never gave up.

“They got ahead in a key part of the game, but we never gave up and Sergio’s goal in the last minute brought us back to life.”

He added: “Second title [as Real Madrid coach], first of this season and I’m very happy with the effort the guys have made.”

Real Madrid, who were playing without the services of stars Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Toni Kroos, took the lead in the 21st minute through a goal by 20 year old Marco Asensio, before Sevilla equalized just before half time through Franco Vazquez and then took the lead in the 72nd minute through a penalty, converted by Yevhen Konoplyanka.

Sevilla lost Timothée Kolodziejczak to a red card in extra time. However, new Sevilla head coach Jorge Sampaoli was upbeat after the game. “I’m proud of the way we played.

“Without much time to work together this team showed courage against the champions of Europe.”

Sevilla shall now face Barcelona in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup on Sunday.

 

R.

Rafael Nadal Backs Out Of Men’s Singles in Rio Olympics

Rafael Nadal Backs Out Of Men's Singles in Rio OlympicsRafael Nadal has dealt his fans with a major blow after announcing that he probably will not be taking part in the men’s singles event at this year’s Olympics in Rio, as reports suggest he has not yet fully recovered from the wrist injury he suffered from earlier this year.

The injury forced the 30 year old to pull out of the French Open midway, and he has not featured in any of the tour games ever since.

The rumors initially surfaced after Nadal refused to train with world no. 2 and reigning Wimbledon champion Andy Murray last week in Mallorca.

“Murray arrives today but I won’t practice with him until next week because I’m not ready yet”, said the 14 time Grand Slam champion while addressing reporters.

The former world no. 1 was initially set to feature in all three formats of the game at the Olympics, partnering with Garbine Muguruza in the mixed doubles and Fernando Verdasco in the men’s doubles.

Nadal previously won the Gold Medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics for Spain.

This news of Nadal’s pulling out of the tournament comes on the back of his rival and best friend Roger Federer’s announcement of not participating in the event.

The Rio Olympics have already been plagued with several concerns regarding doping claims and also the Zika virus.

The tournament starts on August 5, and will conclude on August 21.

S.

Sakho “Lacks Respect”, Sent Back Home By Klopp

Sakho "Lacks Respect", Sent Back Home By KloppLiverpool boss Jürgen Klopp has disclosed in the press conference after the 1-0 friendly loss to Chelsea that he sent Mamadou Sakho back home to Liverpool because of a lack of “respect” from the player.

The German cut the defender from his squad, currently on a pre-season tour of the Unites States, after he was late for meetings on three separate occasions.

“It’s not that serious. He missed the departure of the plane, he missed a session and then was late for a meal … I have to build a group here, I have to start anew, so I thought it maybe made sense that he flew home to Liverpool and after eight days, when we come back, we can talk about it,” said the former Dortmund gaffer.

“But it’s not that serious. It is how I said, we have some rules and we have to respect them. If somebody doesn’t respect it, or somebody gives me the feeling he is not respecting it, then I have to react, that’s all.”

Klopp revealed he was disappointed with the player’s attitude around the training camp in Palo Alto, which came to a head with a pointed exchange on a trip to Alacatraz. However, he maintained there was no falling out between the two.

“It is private, how he reacted. But we had no argument. I spoke. You cannot argue when only one person is speaking, that’s all. Even injured players have sessions, that’s all.”

Klopp also made it clear that he is not a fan of fines.

“Fine him? You can ask, and I can explain it in general. I am not interested in the money of the players. Actually, not really often in my life I have had to fine anybody, because I want that we learn together to do the thing that is right,” Klopp said.

“Always it is the same with every group. I don’t like fining. Sometimes it’s funny, when the fine is bullshit. Come on, pay for it, that’s nice. But mistakes, fining never helps.

“It’s not because they care about money, it’s always, yeah in the moment it hurts, but after a while not. So I want them to do the things because they want to do it, that’s all.”

F.

Federer Ends 2016 Season Due To Recurring Knee Problems

Federer Ends 2016 Season Due To Recurring Knee ProblemsRoger Federer has shocked the world of tennis by announcing that he will end his 2016 season prematurely due to his still niggling knee injury.

Federer contracted the injury off tour early this year, and has been troubled by it ever since. He underwent arthroscopic surgery in February, which revealed a torn meniscus.

Other than the knee trouble, Federer has also been plagued with illness and a back injury, which forced him to miss the French Open, although he has recovered fully from that injury, to the relief of his fans. However, the 17 time Grand Slam champion feels he needs “more extensive rehabilitation” on his knee in order to extend his career as much as possible.

At 34, Federer is one of the players who will go down in history as one of the best ever to have graced the court. However, injuries have begun to mar his career, and his knee has been a concern throughout the year, and was particularly visible in his Wimbledon semi final appearance against Milos Raonic, where he needed the trainer to attend to his knee twice.

“I’m extremely disappointed to announce that I will not be able to represent Switzerland at the Olympic Games in Rio and that I will also miss the remainder of the season.” Federer said in a statement.

“Considering all options after consulting with my doctors and my team, I have made the very difficult decision to call an end to my 2016 season as I need more extensive rehabilitation following my knee surgery earlier this year.

“The doctors advised that if I want to play on the ATP World Tour injury free for another few years, as I intend to do, I must give both my knee and body the proper time to fully recover.”

However, the Swiss ace has vowed to extend his playing career after he gets out of the injury nightmare.

“The love I have for tennis, the competition, tournaments and of course you, the fans remains intact.”He said.
“I am as motivated as ever and plan to put all my energy towards coming back strong, healthy and in shape to play attacking tennis in 2017.”

This early retirement from the season means Federer will be without a title in a year for the first time since 2001.

G.

Gonzalo Higuain Seals £75.3 million Move To Juventus

Gonzalo Higuain Seals £75.3 million Move To JuventusGonzalo Higuain became the third most expensive transfer of all time after sealing a move from Napoli to reigning Italian champions Juventus in a deal worth £75.3 million yesterday.

The Argentine forward now ranks behind Real Madrid attackers Cristiano Ronaldo (£80 million, from Manchester United in 2009) and Gareth Bale (£85 million, from Tottenham Hotspur in 2013) in terms of being the most expensive transfer. All three transfers took place in the summer transfer window.

This transfer could also make the road clear for the much awaited return of Paul Pogba from Juventus to Manchester United, in a fee that is rumored to be in excess of £92 million.

Higuain scored 36 goals in 35 Serie A games in the 2015-16 season and finished top scorer as the Naples based club finished second behind Juventus, albeit with a massive 9 point deficit.

After moving to Real Madrid from home club River Plate, Higuain scored a decent 107 goals in six and a half seasons, and helped Real Madrid to three La Liga titles and a Copa del Rey, before moving to Napoli in 2013. Since then, he has added the Coppa Italia to his cabinet, and will now be looking to help Juventus retain the league title for the sixth time in a row.

The 28 year old also has a good record with his national side Argentina, having amassed 63 caps and scored 32 goals since his debut in 2009. He was part of the side that reached the World Cup Final 2014 and the Copa America Finals in 2015 and 2016, although he ended up being on the losing side on all three occasions.

The transfer was confirmed after Higuain’s name was entered in the list of completed Serie A transfers on the official website, with Napoli confirming moments later that Juventus had met the release clause for the forward.