Rafael Nadal kicked off his run at the 2019 BNP Paribas Open with an impressive 6-1, 6-1, win over Jared Donaldson.
The No. 2 seed was one of the last players to get started at Indian Wells in California, while Donaldson earned a straight-sets win over Tatsuma Ito in the first round. Momentum wasn't a factor, however, as Nadal was able to earn an easy victory.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion, who owns three Indian Wells titles, needed just 72 minutes to get past world number 192 Donaldson, who returned to the tour in February after six months sidelined by a knee injury.
The Spanish star is playing his third tournament of a year that opened with a runner-up finish to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open.
Nadal had all of his shots working in this one, excelling in the first set with both his backhand and forehand.
He next faces Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman, a 6-3, 6-1 winner over Spain’s Roberto Carbralles.
Juventus’s Champions League hopes are hanging on Cristiano Ronaldo pulling off another sensational comeback as the Italians trail 2-0 to defensive specialists Atletico Madrid going into the last 16, second-leg tie in Turin on Tuesday.
“We didn’t expect to lose the first leg 2-0, but anything can happen, and we want to give great response in our home, in front of our fans,” Ronaldo told Juventus TV ahead of the game in the Allianz Stadium.
“These are the great nights, the fantastic ones: the Champions League nights,” he continued.
“The team is confident of playing a great game and I am too. To the fans, I say: think positive, let’s believe.
“Get ready to come back!”
The seven-time reigning Italian champions bought Ronaldo last summer from Real Madrid for 100 million euros ($117 million) to end their Champions League heartbreak going back 23 years.
The 34-year-old’s stunning overhead kick for Real in the quarter-finals in Turin last April had dumped Juventus out of the tournament once again.
Expectations are high that he can reproduce his improbable hat-trick which lifted Real Madrid past Wolfsburg in April 2016 with the Spaniards 2-0 down to the Germans after the first leg.
Juventus have come from behind in the elite European competition eight times — including in the 1996 quarter-finals against Real Madrid on their way to winning the title.
They also lifted the European trophy in 1985, but have finished runners-up five times since their last success, including twice in the past four years.
Years of disappointments
“CR7 is here for that,” wrote Italian sports daily Corriere Dello Sport, of “a game Cristiano cannot get wrong.”
“He wasn’t signed to win the Scudetto or to boost merchandising, Juve is waiting to end years of disappointments.”
Ronaldo won five Champions League titles with Manchester United and Real Madrid and has scored a record 121 goals of which 57 have proved decisive.
The top scorer in the Champions League for the last six seasons, he has however scored just once in this year’s competition, delivering performance far below expectations in Madrid.
Since the Madrid game, he has not scored in the league and has been overtaken as the top Serie A scorer by Sampdoria’s Fabio Quagliarella, who has 20 goals to Ronaldo’s 19.
The problem for Juventus is they need to score at least twice against a team that specializes in defense.
Diego Simeone’s Atletico — second in La Liga — have not conceded a goal for five games.
“Everyone knows that they are a strong team, they defend very well, they don’t take a lot of risks and they play on the counter-attack, but we are ready, and we will do everything we can to beat them,” said Ronaldo, who has scored 22 goals against Atletico.
“The fine details will make the difference, and we want to win and qualify for the quarter-finals.”
Former-Wolfsburg manager Dieter Hecking believes Ronaldo can make a difference.
“Ronaldo is capable of everything, he can also score three goals again as he did against my Wolfsburg. Of course, he can,” Hecking told Gazzetta Dello Sport.
“Atletico has the best defense in Europe and an excellent attack: without Ronaldo, who can invent goals in any way, it would be impossible.
“If I said that Ronaldo is not the strongest player I have ever met, I would lie.
“I remember that night I told the team that we should not be afraid neither of him nor the Bernabeu, but at 17 minutes we were already 2-0 with a double by CR7, it was monstrous.”
Allegri’s future at the club he has won 10 trophies with since 2014 will likely hinge on this game. The Juventus coach knows the stakes are high.
“I think expectations have been raised far too much and it has become an obsession,” said the 51-year-old.
“Since I arrived, the Champions League has always been an objective, but if people say that it’s a failure if Juventus go out, that is not right.”Read More
Neymar will travel to Qatar to undergo a “complete assessment” six weeks into his recovery from a fractured right foot, Paris Saint-Germain said on Thursday.
Brazil forward watched on forlornly from the stands at the Parc des Princes as PSG crashed out of the Champions League last 16 on Wednesday to Manchester United on away goals following a 3-1 defeat.
“Neymar Jr will travel to Aspetar (sports clinic) in Qatar for the next 3 days as scheduled in the initial recovery plan,” the club wrote on its Twitter account.
“He will undertake a complete assessment after six weeks of his injury. He will be accompanied by a medical team from PSG.”
The 27-year-old damaged the fifth metatarsal in his right foot in a French Cup win over Strasbourg on January 23 and was ruled out for 10 weeks.
PSG was hoping he would be healed enough to get back on the pitch in time for a potential Champions League quarter-final in April, but the French side suffered a humiliating exit as United sensationally overturned a 2-0 first-leg deficit.
Manchester United performed a footballing miracle against Paris Saint Germain last night. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was without 9 first-team players for the game due to injuries and also missed Paul Pogba through suspension. But that didn't dent his side's belief of doing the unthinkable. The Red Devils made history by becoming the first side to progress having lost by 2 or more goals at home in the first leg of a knockout match in the Champions League.
Ole Gunnar Solksjaer's men have gifted a goal by PSG in the 2nd minute of the game when Thilo Kehrer misplaced a back pass and Lukaku punished him for that, putting the ball into the net after taking it past Gigi Buffon. PSG then came back into the game and forced Manchester United into defending for their lives. But they couldn't sustain the pressure for much longer and Kylian Mbappe's low cross to the far post was finished by Bernat.
However, another mistake at PSG's defense helped United to restore their lead when Buffon spilled a shot by Marcus Rashford and Lukaku was the first to get to it, finishing the ball past the former Juventus captain with aplomb.
PSG attacked aggressively in the second half but the resilient Manchester United defense did not let them get past them. Kylian Mbappe had the best opportunity to kill the game at the 80th-minute mark when he came 1-on-1 with David De Gea but lost his footing at the final moment.
The most controversial decision came in the 90th minute when a penalty was given in Manchester United's favor after Diogo Dalot's shot hit Kimpembe's hand. After consulting the VAR, the penalty was given which seemed a bit harsh on PSG as the ball hit the back side of Kimpembe and there was no deliberate attempt to block the ball.
Marcus Rashford blasted the penalty past Buffon to complete one of the greatest comebacks of the Champions League history.
Here are 3 things we learned from the game:
#1. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is definitely getting the Manchester United Job.
#2. Romelu Lukaku is more than just a flat-track bully under Solksjaer:
#3. Mason Greenwood finally gets his debutRead More
- Santiago Solari has said that he'll not give up coaching Real Madrid but the decision will probably not be his to make.
Zinedine Zidane earned the right to decide himself and chose to leave last summer.
“It would have been difficult for me to win again next year,” Zidane had said in May.
“There have been good times but also difficult times. I do not forget that. I want to end with Real Madrid when everything is going well.”
Ten months on, Zidane’s exit speech feels like a warning.
Madrid’s season is up in smoke after seven days in which they were eliminated from the Copa del Rey, deemed irrelevant in La Liga and humiliated in the Champions League.
“I did not come to the club in such a difficult time to give up,” said Solari, after a 4-1 defeat to Ajax on Wednesday sent his side out in the last 16.
In the league and cup, they were proven to be clearly worse than Barcelona, their greatest rivals, and in Europe, inferior to Ajax, the club that is supposed to supply the elite not outplay them in their own back yard.
Three defeats, all of them in their own stadium, the last in the competition Madrid had begun to feel was their own after three consecutive triumphs and four in five years.
“Here lies a team that made history,” read the front page of Marca on Wednesday. “End of an era,” said Diario Sport. “The disaster is huge,” wrote Mundo Deportivo.
Solari had overseen a period of progress since taking over from Julen Lopetegui in November but the decline has been quick and familiar. Early improvement gave way to a lack of goals, which slowly sapped belief. Mediocre opponents took advantage and better ones ran riot.
‘Bigger problems to fix’
The club’s president Florentino Perez must now decide if Solari is worth keeping until the summer, although it is hard to see what would be gained by sacking him when there is nothing left to be gained from the season.
A new coach, with the same squad, would only surrender the feeling of freshness while for Perez, there might also be merit in waiting until June when more candidates could become available.
Yet he must be aware now of what Zidane was indicating, the sense that there are bigger problems to fix than the coach.
A Marca poll on Tuesday night asked fans who they thought was to blame, with 79 per cent answering either ‘everyone’ or ‘the board’ and only 7 per cent picking ‘Solari and Lopetegui’.
After years of under-investment, Madrid’s spine is creaking. Luka Modric is 33, Sergio Ramos 32, Toni Kroos 29 and Karim Benzema 31. Age is one thing but motivation is another. Success is hard to replicate.
Cristiano Ronaldo sought a new challenge with Juventus but was not replaced, either by a single star or two or three impact players that could collectively help bridge the gap. Mariano Diaz, signed last minute from Lyon, was not even on the bench on Wednesday.
Instead of marquee arrivals, the last of whom was James Rodriguez in 2014, Perez has shifted focus towards youth, with the likes of Vinicius Junior, Alvaro Odriozola, Sergio Reguilon, Dani Ceballos and Marcos Llorente all showing varying degrees of promise. Vinicius has been a revelation.
The problem is not that those players have failed to deliver but that perhaps they need a blend of experience to help bring them through. A summer spending spree might be tempting but could also undo all the good work done with a talented group.
If Solari cannot make a convincing enough case – and it is difficult to see how he can – in the 12 league games left, the choice of his successor will be revealing as to whether Perez’s faith in youth remains intact.
Madrid faces a trip to Real Valladolid on Sunday and all that is left is to overtake Atletico Madrid, who are five points ahead and reduce a 12-point gap on Barcelona, who are closing in on a seventh league title in 10 seasons. For all Madrid’s success in Europe, that domestic drought speaks volumes.
“We have a young team with room for improvement,” Dani Carvajal said. “It is clear the season is over but we will keep working in the league because that’s what we have to do, we have to be professional. That’s just how it is.”
- Southampton manager, Ralph Hasenhuttl thinks Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been an "outrageous" success at Manchester United and is likely to get the job on a permanent basis.
- But Hasenhuttl believes his team does have the potential to end Solskjaer's unbeaten Premier League run on Saturday, despite their lowly placing in the table.
Since Solskjaer replaced Jose Mourinho in charge at Old Trafford on an interim basis, United have won nine and drawn two in the Premier League, and reached the FA Cup quarter-finals, with their sole loss coming to Paris Saint-Germain in Europe.
Solskjaer's men now turn their attention to a visit from the relegation-threatened Saints.
When asked if he thinks United will give Solskjaer the job on a permanent basis at some stage, Hasenhuttl replied: "I think they will.
"To be unbeaten [in the league] since he took the job is amazing, it is outrageous.
"I think, with his history of being a player at Manchester United and now doing it as a manager in a very good way, I think you can't have better science to be the next manager."
Southampton are just one place and two points above the drop zone but gave their survival hopes a boost with Wednesday's defeat of Fulham, and Hasenhuttl is in good heart.
He said: "During the time of Alex Ferguson, no one wants to go to Old Trafford, because they knew there is nothing to get.
"The years after, one or other team could take points there.
"At the moment it seems that it is going back to this situation, that it is very hard to take points at Old Trafford.
"But my team does not think in that way - we know we can be a good opponent in every stadium for every team, if we are very organized, as we showed against Chelsea (a 0-0 draw) for example, where it is not easy to take a point.
"I am positive - we had a very important win on Wednesday and now we go with not much pressure because nobody expects something from us."Read More
- The shakeup in management at the company that operates the Buffalo Bills and Sabres ramped up Tuesday with the departure of three executives.
- Pegula Sports and Entertainment announced that its chief operating officer, Bruce Popko, and two other top officials had left.
According to Matt Glynn and Stephen T. Watson of the Buffalo News, the company announced that Chief Executive Officer Bruce Popko, Chief Administrative Officer Brent Rossi and Executive Vice President Erica Muhleman were all departing the business.
The departures of Popko, Rossi, and Muhleman are the latest amid several departures from the company. Former Bills team president Russ Brandon resigned last May amid an internal investigation into Brandon’s workplace behavior and allegations of personal misconduct. Two more executives, Mike Gilbert, and Nik Fattey, resigned in January after an internal investigation into whether the two men sexually harassed female employees after a holiday party in December, per the Buffalo News.
“While there [have] been many changes in the last year, I am confident that these changes will ensure the long-term success of our organizations,” Kim Pegula wrote in an internal company memo obtained by the newspaper.
The vacancies will be filled “on a case by case basis as deemed necessary,” per Pegula, in a statement announcing the departures.Read More
According to Jurgen Klopp Liverpool's boss, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be the next permanent manager of Manchester United. The clubs meet on Sunday in a showdown of Premier League giants.
Ole has won 11 of his 13 matches since taking interim charge following Jose Mourinho’s sacking in December, with the only loss a 2-0 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.
Ahead of Liverpool’s trip to Old Trafford, Klopp said he had been impressed with the job the Norwegian is doing at Old Trafford.
“He has the quality and he had the luck in the right moment,” said Klopp. “Now he’s in charge and there is no doubt that he will be the manager next year as well, that’s clear.
“Can you imagine one situation when they say ‘we are bringing in another manager’? Then a new manager will lose one game and that’s not possible.
“He deserves (the job) 100 percent, he did everything that you have to do to be successful with them.”
Klopp, whose team are level on points with Manchester City at the top of the Premier League, said all managers needed an element of luck.
“And if Ole’s not a former player of Manchester United then he will not have made a move from Norway to Manchester United. That’s clear. But if you get the chance you have to use it. Of course, he’s showing everything you need together with his coaches. They made a few smart decisions.”
The Liverpool boss said United, who have battled their way into the top four, would be a different proposition from the side his team beat 3-1 at Anfield in Mourinho’s last match in charge.
“It’s a big one and we know that it’s a difficult one as well,” Klopp said, adding that United’s attacking players were full of confidence, with Paul Pogba outstanding in recent weeks.
“They are in a really good moment, really good moment,” he said. “They are physically strong, they defend well, they attack well.”
“They have all different ways in their toolbox to get results,” he added.
Premier League club Chelsea have been banned from signing new players in the next two transfer windows as a form of punishment for breaking rules on registering under-age players, FIFA announced on Friday.
This means that the club will be unable to make signings until the end of January next year. Although the club has said that it will appeal the decision.
“The disciplinary committee sanctioned Chelsea with a ban on registering new players at both national and international level for the next two complete and consecutive registration periods,” FIFA said in a statement.
In addition, Chelsea was fined 600,000 Swiss francs ($600,000, 530,000 euros) and given a period of 90 days to regularise the situation of the minor players concerned.
The ban does not prevent players from being released by the club and it does not apply to Chelsea’s women’s and futsal teams.
Chelsea has been given three days to appeal against FIFA’s decision, which could prove highly damaging, for example preventing the club from signing a replacement for Eden Hazard if the star player leaves the club.
“Chelsea FC categorically refutes the findings of the FIFA disciplinary committee and will, therefore, be appealing the decision,” said a statement on the club’s website.
The move follows a FIFA probe into Chelsea’s signing of foreign under-18 players, including the club’s former forward Bertrand Traore, a Burkina Faso international who now plays for French Ligue 1 club, Lyon
Traore signed professional forms for Chelsea in 2013 at the age of 18 but was not registered until January the following year.
French website Mediapart, quoting documents from Football Leaks, reported that FIFA found evidence that Chelsea had supplied misleading information about Traore’s signing and that he had made more than 20 appearances for the club at different age levels despite not being registered by the Football Association (FA).
FIFA said Friday it was also fining the Football Association 510,000 Swiss francs for breaking the rules on signing minors.
The world governing body gave the FA a period of six months to update its processes concerning international transfers and the registration of minors.
The FA responded on Twitter, saying: “The FA notes the decision of the FIFA disciplinary committee published today. The FA has cooperated fully with FIFA’s investigations, although we have raised some concerns with FIFA regarding its disciplinary processes.
“The FA intends to appeal the decision. We will, however, continue to work with FIFA and Chelsea in a constructive manner to address the issues which are raised by this case.”Read More