Archive for the ‘Knockout Game’ Category

Barcelona must improve or comeback will be impossible – Iniesta – beIN SPORTS

April 11, 2017 23:17

Andres Iniesta admits it will be “impossible” for Barcelona to overturn their Champions League deficit to Juventus unless they show genuine improvement in the second leg.

The Spanish champions were beaten 3-0 in Turin by Massimiliano Allegri’s side, with Paulo Dybala scoring twice before Giorgio Chiellini’s second-half header.

Barca enjoyed more of the possession but struggled to place Gianluigi Buffon’s goal under any real threat as they slumped to a second significant away defeat in a row in the competition.

Although they made history by overturning a 4-0 loss to Paris Saint-Germain in the last round with a 6-1 second-leg victory, Iniesta says any similar comeback will be beyond them if they do not sharpen up at Camp Nou.

“We did some bad things, mainly in the first half,” he told TV3. “The Champions League punishes you with these two goals.

“In the second half we saw something different. We deserved to score one goal but that doesn’t help now.

“Juve are a good team but when you don’t do things well, you are penalised a lot.

“The feeling is not as pessimistic as it was in Paris but once again we have a real uphill task in a knockout game.

“If we do things as we have to, we’ll be back in the tie. If not, it will be impossible.”

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Barcelona must improve or comeback will be impossible – Iniesta – beIN SPORTS

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Smashing Monday: Epic Performances, Emotions Aplenty And Baby’s Day Out – NBA India

By NBA.com Staff Apr 10, 2017

It was a thrilling day around the league with epic performances almost everywhere one looked. Massiveteam efforts for gigantic comebacks, knockout game-winners and monstrousstatlines, Monday had it all. So without further ado, lets catch up on all the drool-worthy highs of the day.

Russell Westbrook went nuclear against the Denver Nuggets. He had his third 50-point triple-double of the season while finishing off any chances the Denver Nuggets had for a playoff berth. Sit back and enjoy his historic 42nd TD.

WATCH:Russ takes down Nuggets in epic 50-point TD

There are clutch shots and then there are buzzer-beating, game-winners. Westbrook chose to end his historic night with the latter. Having missed the opportunity to dodge his defender and receive the inbound pass, Westbrook got the ball from Steven Adams a little further from the basket than planned. He still made the game-winner. Cold-blooded assassin.

WATCH:Unbelievable! Westbrook sinks deep game-winning splash

Down in Los Angeles, something similar happened. With the clock ticking down on DAngelo Russell, he was barely fazed. He took the open three to help the Lakers record a win despite two Minnesota Timberwolves players going off for 40 plus points. The shot looks eve better with the ball bouncing on the rim before sinking through. DAngelohas ice in his veins.

WATCH:DAngelo Russell sinks the Timberwolves with a buzzer-beating splash

DAngelo embraced his family after the game-winner, anemotional moment consideringhe lost his grandmother earlierin the day.

Meanwhile, the Atlanta Hawks pulled off a comeback of epic proportions. You can revisit their heroic fourth quarter-effort here.

WATCH:Best of Atlantas fourth quarter comeback against Cavs

Ending on a lighter note, the Sacramento Kings held a race to rival the race for the playoff seedings. One that involved crawling and was probably the winner in the cuteness stakes. 10 babies, one winner. Actually, everyone wins when something so adorableoccurs. Ideal Monday morning boost.

WATCH: 10 babies. 1 champion and 1 epic post-race interview. #BabyRace!

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Smashing Monday: Epic Performances, Emotions Aplenty And Baby’s Day Out – NBA India

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Gonzalo Higuain, Juve return to Napoli eyeing a spot in the Coppa Italia final – ESPN FC (blog)

Max Allegri reflects on Gonzalo Higuain’s return to his old stomping grounds after Juve’s 1-1 draw with Napoli. Ahead of Juve’s clash with Napoli, the FC panel debate if Gonzalo Higuain’s psyche is affected when it comes to big games.

A victim of their own success, Juventus will forever be criticised unless they win every match comprehensively. Never allowed an off day, the very fact the Bianconeri opted to play a defensive style of football against Napoli on Sunday evening has resulted in doubt about the brilliance of this team.

A country obsessed by negative perspectives, it seems Juventus can never struggle and no achievement is ever applauded. They should be winning every trophy, every match and every tournament they participate in. Nothing is considered an achievement but a mandatory procedure.

It is this very attitude that has sparked Massimiliano Allegri’s anger. His accomplishments are not being properly judged and wins are expected and rarely praised. Juventus may not have been at their best on Sunday evening but many sides suffered a similar hangover after an International break. It is difficult to overcome the technical skills of Maurizio Sarri’s side, especially when Juventus were missing their best players on the ball. Paulo Dybala was not in the greatest of conditions, Juan Cuadrado had only returned from Colombia on Friday and the rest of the squad were players who proved better off the ball than on it forcing a defensive style of play.

The very fact that the Old Lady can adapt to situations is a great quality. Replacing technical brilliance with tactical discipline earned Juventus the point and while they couldn’t grasp complete control of the match, they managed to muzzle a side that gave Real Madrid a hard time. Juve were not playing Pescara, they were playing a side that won their Champions League group and currently reside in third place.

Juventus are still six points ahead of second-placed Roma in the league and against the Partenopei on Wednesday evening, Allegri is expected to play a more offensive game in the semifinal of the Coppa Italia. After all, this will be a knockout game and Juventus want to reach the final in hopes of winning another trophy.

Despite managing a 3-1 score line in Turin, they did concede an away goal and will want to score at least once to ensure a good result. With several technical players available for selection including Dybala and Cuadrado, the Bianconeri should provide Gonzalo Higuain with better service than he received on Sunday evening.

The Argentine’s return to the Stadio San Paolo dominated headlines and many expected or rather hoped he would prove his doubters wrong and score. However, he was left isolated for much of the match and unable to provide the level of impact we have grown accustomed to watching.

While Dybala’s absence proved frustrating for Higuain, the lack of service from the wide areas restricted the forward from unleashing his lethality in front of goal. Kwadwo Asamoah has struggled the last two times he has played against Napoli and simply cannot command the left lane as well as Alex Sandro. His performance proved so poor that Mario Mandzukic was tasked with contributing more to the defensive side of the game than the attack. Stephan Lichtsteiner provided even less attacking verve on the right and in a match that will require Juve to score, it seems Allegri may rely on Dani Alves to provide the goods.

The Brazilian is somewhat of a liability at the back but going forward he has proved spectacular at picking out his teammates and delivering the right pass to pierce opposing defences. His ability on the ball should help Juventus play a more attacking game even if he may expose the back line a bit. While Allegri will seemingly prefer to play Cuadrado on the right of the trident and Stefano Sturaro on the left in the upcoming match, one wonders whether it would be better to keep Lichtsteiner in the back four, but allow Alves to play further ahead, free of defensive responsibilities. With both present on the right, Juventus can command the wide area.

Cuadrado is an important player and his pace makes the difference but Alves is better at providing the width and his decision making in the final third has made the difference in the past. The Colombian is yet to put thought into his moves to ensure the runs he makes are decisive and not an experiment in expending energy.

Anything short of a win will result in even more criticism aimed at the Old Lady. Considering the squad need to be at their best and most confident for the match against Barcelona next week, Allegri will hope his players will respond on the pitch and prove why they should never be doubted.

Mina Rzouki covers Juventus and the Italian national team for ESPN FC. Follow her on Twitter: @Minarzouki.

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Gonzalo Higuain, Juve return to Napoli eyeing a spot in the Coppa Italia final – ESPN FC (blog)

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April 6, 2017   Posted in: Knockout Game  Comments Closed

Allegri lashes out at negativity surrounding Juventus’ performances – Black & White & Read All Over

Enough is enough. Massimiliano Allegri has hit his limit with the constant negativity around Juventus, from fans, media, the whole lot. If Juve win, it wasnt pretty enough. If Juve draw then its a sign of impending doom. And God forbid if Juve lose then its surely the end of the universe as we know it.

During his pre-match press conference as the Bianconeri head back to Naples to take on Napoli tomorrow in the second leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final protecting a 3-1 lead, Allegri was less than his usual reserved self.

First of all were in a good period, because with a month-and-a-half to go were playing for the final of the Coppa Italia, for the chance to go to the Champions League Semi-Finals and were currently still first in the Scudetto race.

So right now theres nothing more we could do. Then theres this negativity, this negative aura, its the one thing I hate. I think if we could see things positively it would be better.

I think this team has played a few finals over the past few years, weve won a couple of Coppa Italia, weve won two Scudetti, then one draw and its like none of that happened.

At the end of the day, the important thing is to achieve your objectives. Its also true that you have opponents, and winning is difficult.

You say winning is the norm but no, winning is extraordinary because only one team can win. Besides, this is a team which in the past three years has been to a Champions League final, were playing for another Coppa Italia final, and were in the fight for the Scudetto.

Right now we couldnt do more, thats a fact, like it or not.

In the course of a season, just as in individual games, there are moments where you play well and moments where youre less good, the important thing is having a clear objective.

Its not easy to achieve, the lads are doing incredible things, because there are opponents, because to always win is impossible.

The team is growing in Italy, but above all on a European level and I think thats important. I think thats the best result, regardless of the Scudetti won.

Right now Juventus are a respected team, thats the most important thing.

Then I hear you say – and Ill finish with this – that Juventus have lost five finals, seven finals – how many have they lost? – seven.

If you turn that around, and say Juventus played nine finals, its different. Because others didnt play them. Then at the end of the games you win or you lose.

You can reverse things and see the positives, but here you only see the negative goddamnit. Thats not good. Buona giornata.

Luckily, Allegri had spoken in an earlier part of the press conference when he was less incensed, at which time he had talked about Mario Mandzukic being out and other team news.

Its difficult for Mandzukic to make it for the game. Well assess him today, but hes unlikely to be there. Paulo Dybala and Juan Cuadrado are available.

As for the rest I dont know what to tell you, because well train today and after that Ill work out who will play tomorrow.

Will he take a conservative approach to tomorrows game with Juve holding a lead?

First of all theyre two different games. Sunday was a League game and this is a knockout game.

We have this important objective, to reach the Coppa Italia final for the third year in a row, then go to Rome and try to win it.

It wont be easy, because tomorrows game will be very open. Napoli are a team who played well on Sunday from a technical point of view, they caused us problems but we have everything it takes to reach the final.

We need to be very different in technical terms to what we showed on Sunday, technically we got a lot wrong and that meant we couldnt develop the play and thats why we were more defensive.

We gave away two or three shots after wed cheaply given the ball away, so we definitely need to play a different game from that point of view.

If youre technically better youll have more of the ball, which means you have to defend less.

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Allegri lashes out at negativity surrounding Juventus’ performances – Black & White & Read All Over

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Roof closed for Ospreys v Stade Francais : European Rugby … – EPCRugby.com

EPCR officials have confirmed that the Principality Stadium roof will be closed on Sunday for the final quarter-final of the weekend when the Ospreys host Stade Francais Paris in the Challenge Cup (17.45 kick-off).

It will be the first European knockout game for the Ospreys in seven years having set a record in qualifying by taking the maximum 30 points from their six pool matches. Stade Francais, who beat RC Toulon in Paris last weekend in the TOP 14, will be returning to the Welsh capital six years on from their one point defeat to Harlequins in the 2011 final.

“We are all excited about Sunday’s game and what promises to be a cracking contest. Stade Francais are a big, powerful team packed with world class players and they will come to Cardiff at the weekend full of confidence after defeating Toulon,” said Ospreys Rugby Managing Director, Andrew Millward.

“This is our first European quarter-final since 2010 and it’s going to be a wonderful occasion. Closing the roof will only make it more enjoyable for everybody, keeping the noise in and helping to create a great atmosphere for what we hope will turn out to be a memorable 80 minutes for all the right reasons.”

Although the game kicks off at 5.45pm at the Principality Stadium, there is a full afternoon of activity next door at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park to keep everybody entertained in the build up to the big game.

The iconic venue, home of Cardiff Blues, will host a special tag rugby festival in conjunction with Ospreys in the Community, with 45 teams at U7, U8, U9 and U10 levels from 14 clubs involved. The festival will support the WRU’s Half a Game initiative, launched last year to encourage and grow participation among younger children, guaranteeing game time for all young players.

All supporters are invited to use the Arms Park as their base for the day with the club house open for business from 2.00pm, providing a convenient meeting point for those heading to Cardiff. The tag festival will be followed by live entertainment at the club house from 4.30pm.

There will also be an appearance from non playing squad members and a Q&A ahead of kick-off to help you get in the mood for the big match.

Tickets for Sunday’s game remain available to purchase from the Liberty Stadium Ticket Office and the WRU Ticket Office on Westgate Street in Cardiff, as well as online at www.ospreysrugby.com/buytickets priced at just 10 (U16s 5).

On the day of the game tickets will be on sale at the WRU Ticket Office right up to kick-off. Supporters are advised to buy in advance to avoid any last minute queuing.

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Roof closed for Ospreys v Stade Francais : European Rugby … – EPCRugby.com

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Video Assistant Referees could be used in EFL Cup first round next season – Eurosport.com

Video Assistant Referees could be deployed in English football as early as August when the EFL Cup first round takes place.

The Football Association has indicated VARs could be trialled in next season’s FA Cup, beginning in January 2018 with the FA Cup third round when Premier League teams join the competition.

But, if a trial is approved by the EFL board, VARs could be used in the EFL Cup from as soon as the first round.

EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey said on Wednesday: “As part of a trial the board will consider allowing the EFL Cup to be utilised.

“There are a number of rounds of the EFL Cup prior to that (the FA Cup third round).

“Theoretically it could happen from the first round of the EFL Cup, which would be a team no higher than the Championship down to League Two.”

VARs are currently being trialled, with FIFA president Gianni Infantino keen to employ the system during the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The video official in Tuesday night’s friendly between France and Spain corrected two wrong decisions – disallowing an offside effort by Antoine Griezmann and awarding a goal for Gerard Deulofeu after an incorrect offside flag. Spain won 2-0 in Paris.

Approval for VARs to be employed in the EFL Cup could come as soon as May.

There is likely to be a longer wait before VARs can be utilised in the Championship, League One and League Two, due to the lack of cameras currently available across stadia.

Although some stadia will have the capacity to utilise VARs in the league, the EFL believe it is important for the same facilities to be available throughout.

Goal line technology is likely to come into the Championship for the first time next season.

Harvey, who on Wednesday spoke at SportsPro Live where he talked about new streaming product iFollow, added: “One of the real challenges is the integrity of the games.

“If you don’t have the technology available at every single game in the competition, does that potentially have a negative impact on the competition as a whole?

“Ultimately (in the EFL Cup) it doesn’t matter then if it’s not used at every single game in that round because each individual game is a knockout game in its own right.

“Technology’s got to work with the EFL as well and be possible as part of the whole, not just in part.

“But that should never be interpreted as the EFL not wanting to embrace technology or being against it.

“It’s just the absolute practicalities and the cost effectiveness of being able to implement it.”

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Video Assistant Referees could be used in EFL Cup first round next season – Eurosport.com

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Palace chairman Parish urges England to learn from Zaha switch to Ivory Coast – Eurosport.com

England must learn from Wilfried Zaha’s switch to the Ivory Coast and “love” and nurture prospects from smaller clubs, according to Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish.

Zaha, 24, played two friendlies for England and represented them at age group levels but reverted to the country of his birth in time for January’s African Nations Cup.

England manager Gareth Southgate has pledged to focus on players who are “desperate to play for England” as he addresses the dual-nationality question.

But Parish declared himself devastated to see a “ludicrous” talent slip away and called for a fresh approach.

“The whole England set-up gave Wilfried no love and it is a shame that we lost him,” he told the Times. ” Wilfried was waiting and waiting for that call.

“It is devastating for us as we always thought we would see him in an England shirt. We need to learn our lessons. You would not see Brazil let a player like that go.”

The proportion of English-qualified players in Premier League line-ups hovers around the one-third mark and Parish warned that those who do break through must be appreciated.

He said: “If we constantly neglect these kids, as their face does not fit or they are not maturing at the rate we want them to, then you can’t tell the Premier League that we have to have more and more English players playing.

“It has a lot to do with the less glamorous clubs. Every now and then, a club like Palace throws up a gem. Our gems do tend to be a bit rough around the edges when they start out, they need to be honed.

“Anybody who watched Wilfried will tell you some of the things he does are ludicrous. Do we not want that? I can’t believe there was not a role for Wilfried at England.”

A statement issued by Zaha’s agent Will Salthouse on Tuesday took issue with questions over his passion and insisted the player had never set a deadline for an England call-up – the “disappearing egg-timer” referenced by Southgate on Monday.

And Parish took aim at former England defender Danny Mills’ suggestion on Tuesday that the winger took “the easy way out” by switching allegiance.

“What is easier, travelling thousands of miles every time you have to play a game?” he said. “Put England in a knockout game against Ivory Coast and it is not going to be 4-0 to England, is it? They will give England a game.”

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Leinster have improved this season, warns Gopperth – Irish Independent

The Premiership leaders face Leinster in the Champions Cup quarter-final on Saturday and the former Blues out-half is expecting a much tougher challenge this time around.

“It (last season) hasn’t been brought up once,” said Gopperth. “Leinster are playing like a different team and Stuart (Lancaster) coming in has really given them some steel.

“They have a lot of the younger guys, (Garry) Ringrose, Adam Byrne and Tadhg (Furlong), who have really stepped up in the last 12 months so they are totally different team.

“They are a class outfit at the minute and we are not taking them lightly. Last year is gone.

“We know what’s coming and it will certainly be a very physical challenge. The likes of Seanie (O’Brien) I’m sure will be lining me up to give me one or two.

“We just have to make sure we are mentally switched on because it is going to be a knockout game played at an international standard.”

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Leinster have improved this season, warns Gopperth – Irish Independent

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Hawkeye force winner-take-all Game 3 – The Manila Times

Cignal-San Beda pulled off a gritty 89-86 win over Tanduay Rhum in Game 2 of their best-of-three semifinals series forcing a knockout match in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) D-League Aspirants Cup on Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

Former La Salle forward Jason Perkins unloaded 12 of his 15 points in the second half allowing the Hawkeyes, who withstood the late run of the Rhum Masters to tie the series at 1-all.

Benedict Adamos had a double-double performance with 13 markers and 13 boards while Robert Bolick Jr. contributed 13 markers for Cignal.

We are still alive. At least, we have another day to live. Credit goes to the boys who really stepped up today, said Cignal coach Boyet Fernandez.

Carrying a 12-point advantage after the third period, 70-58, the Hawkeyes became complacent and allowed Tanduay to unload a 19-7 run capped by Lester Alvarezs eight straight points to tie the game at 77-all with 4:30 left in the game.

But Perkins hit back-to-back triples to sandwich the split of Rhum Masters Bong Quinto and the basket of Jaymo Eguilos to take an 83-80 lead with two minutes remaining.

Adrian Santos pushed Tanduay within striking distance with a basket, 84-85, but Pamboy Raymundo and Perkins sealed the win for the top seed Cignal with crucial baskets sending the series to a knockout Game 3 on Tuesday.

It is a matter of who wants it more who really wanted it more. We are up by 13 points so the other guys were just walking. I hope this situation will open their minds that if you have big lead, it is not a sure lead, added Fernandez.

Eguilos chipped in 18 points and six rebounds while Alvarez produced 15 markers, 10 came in the fourth quarter, for Tanduay.

Paul Sanga had 11 points while Kier John Quinto and Mark Cruz contributed nine and eight points, respectively, for the Rhum Masters.

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Hawkeye force winner-take-all Game 3 – The Manila Times

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Barcelona must improve or comeback will be impossible – Iniesta – beIN SPORTS

April 11, 2017 23:17 Andres Iniesta admits it will be “impossible” for Barcelona to overturn their Champions League deficit to Juventus unless they show genuine improvement in the second leg. The Spanish champions were beaten 3-0 in Turin by Massimiliano Allegri’s side, with Paulo Dybala scoring twice before Giorgio Chiellini’s second-half header. Barca enjoyed more of the possession but struggled to place Gianluigi Buffon’s goal under any real threat as they slumped to a second significant away defeat in a row in the competition. Although they made history by overturning a 4-0 loss to Paris Saint-Germain in the last round with a 6-1 second-leg victory, Iniesta says any similar comeback will be beyond them if they do not sharpen up at Camp Nou. “We did some bad things, mainly in the first half,” he told TV3. “The Champions League punishes you with these two goals. “In the second half we saw something different. We deserved to score one goal but that doesn’t help now. “Juve are a good team but when you don’t do things well, you are penalised a lot. “The feeling is not as pessimistic as it was in Paris but once again we have a real uphill task in a knockout game. “If we do things as we have to, we’ll be back in the tie. If not, it will be impossible.”

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Smashing Monday: Epic Performances, Emotions Aplenty And Baby’s Day Out – NBA India

By NBA.com Staff Apr 10, 2017 It was a thrilling day around the league with epic performances almost everywhere one looked. Massiveteam efforts for gigantic comebacks, knockout game-winners and monstrousstatlines, Monday had it all. So without further ado, lets catch up on all the drool-worthy highs of the day. Russell Westbrook went nuclear against the Denver Nuggets. He had his third 50-point triple-double of the season while finishing off any chances the Denver Nuggets had for a playoff berth. Sit back and enjoy his historic 42nd TD. WATCH:Russ takes down Nuggets in epic 50-point TD There are clutch shots and then there are buzzer-beating, game-winners. Westbrook chose to end his historic night with the latter. Having missed the opportunity to dodge his defender and receive the inbound pass, Westbrook got the ball from Steven Adams a little further from the basket than planned. He still made the game-winner. Cold-blooded assassin. WATCH:Unbelievable! Westbrook sinks deep game-winning splash Down in Los Angeles, something similar happened. With the clock ticking down on DAngelo Russell, he was barely fazed. He took the open three to help the Lakers record a win despite two Minnesota Timberwolves players going off for 40 plus points. The shot looks eve better with the ball bouncing on the rim before sinking through. DAngelohas ice in his veins. WATCH:DAngelo Russell sinks the Timberwolves with a buzzer-beating splash DAngelo embraced his family after the game-winner, anemotional moment consideringhe lost his grandmother earlierin the day. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Hawks pulled off a comeback of epic proportions. You can revisit their heroic fourth quarter-effort here. WATCH:Best of Atlantas fourth quarter comeback against Cavs Ending on a lighter note, the Sacramento Kings held a race to rival the race for the playoff seedings. One that involved crawling and was probably the winner in the cuteness stakes. 10 babies, one winner. Actually, everyone wins when something so adorableoccurs. Ideal Monday morning boost. WATCH: 10 babies. 1 champion and 1 epic post-race interview. #BabyRace!

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Gonzalo Higuain, Juve return to Napoli eyeing a spot in the Coppa Italia final – ESPN FC (blog)

Max Allegri reflects on Gonzalo Higuain’s return to his old stomping grounds after Juve’s 1-1 draw with Napoli. Ahead of Juve’s clash with Napoli, the FC panel debate if Gonzalo Higuain’s psyche is affected when it comes to big games. A victim of their own success, Juventus will forever be criticised unless they win every match comprehensively. Never allowed an off day, the very fact the Bianconeri opted to play a defensive style of football against Napoli on Sunday evening has resulted in doubt about the brilliance of this team. A country obsessed by negative perspectives, it seems Juventus can never struggle and no achievement is ever applauded. They should be winning every trophy, every match and every tournament they participate in. Nothing is considered an achievement but a mandatory procedure. It is this very attitude that has sparked Massimiliano Allegri’s anger. His accomplishments are not being properly judged and wins are expected and rarely praised. Juventus may not have been at their best on Sunday evening but many sides suffered a similar hangover after an International break. It is difficult to overcome the technical skills of Maurizio Sarri’s side, especially when Juventus were missing their best players on the ball. Paulo Dybala was not in the greatest of conditions, Juan Cuadrado had only returned from Colombia on Friday and the rest of the squad were players who proved better off the ball than on it forcing a defensive style of play. The very fact that the Old Lady can adapt to situations is a great quality. Replacing technical brilliance with tactical discipline earned Juventus the point and while they couldn’t grasp complete control of the match, they managed to muzzle a side that gave Real Madrid a hard time. Juve were not playing Pescara, they were playing a side that won their Champions League group and currently reside in third place. Juventus are still six points ahead of second-placed Roma in the league and against the Partenopei on Wednesday evening, Allegri is expected to play a more offensive game in the semifinal of the Coppa Italia. After all, this will be a knockout game and Juventus want to reach the final in hopes of winning another trophy. Despite managing a 3-1 score line in Turin, they did concede an away goal and will want to score at least once to ensure a good result. With several technical players available for selection including Dybala and Cuadrado, the Bianconeri should provide Gonzalo Higuain with better service than he received on Sunday evening. The Argentine’s return to the Stadio San Paolo dominated headlines and many expected or rather hoped he would prove his doubters wrong and score. However, he was left isolated for much of the match and unable to provide the level of impact we have grown accustomed to watching. While Dybala’s absence proved frustrating for Higuain, the lack of service from the wide areas restricted the forward from unleashing his lethality in front of goal. Kwadwo Asamoah has struggled the last two times he has played against Napoli and simply cannot command the left lane as well as Alex Sandro. His performance proved so poor that Mario Mandzukic was tasked with contributing more to the defensive side of the game than the attack. Stephan Lichtsteiner provided even less attacking verve on the right and in a match that will require Juve to score, it seems Allegri may rely on Dani Alves to provide the goods. The Brazilian is somewhat of a liability at the back but going forward he has proved spectacular at picking out his teammates and delivering the right pass to pierce opposing defences. His ability on the ball should help Juventus play a more attacking game even if he may expose the back line a bit. While Allegri will seemingly prefer to play Cuadrado on the right of the trident and Stefano Sturaro on the left in the upcoming match, one wonders whether it would be better to keep Lichtsteiner in the back four, but allow Alves to play further ahead, free of defensive responsibilities. With both present on the right, Juventus can command the wide area. Cuadrado is an important player and his pace makes the difference but Alves is better at providing the width and his decision making in the final third has made the difference in the past. The Colombian is yet to put thought into his moves to ensure the runs he makes are decisive and not an experiment in expending energy. Anything short of a win will result in even more criticism aimed at the Old Lady. Considering the squad need to be at their best and most confident for the match against Barcelona next week, Allegri will hope his players will respond on the pitch and prove why they should never be doubted. Mina Rzouki covers Juventus and the Italian national team for ESPN FC. Follow her on Twitter: @Minarzouki.

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April 6, 2017   Posted in: Knockout Game  Comments Closed

Allegri lashes out at negativity surrounding Juventus’ performances – Black & White & Read All Over

Enough is enough. Massimiliano Allegri has hit his limit with the constant negativity around Juventus, from fans, media, the whole lot. If Juve win, it wasnt pretty enough. If Juve draw then its a sign of impending doom. And God forbid if Juve lose then its surely the end of the universe as we know it. During his pre-match press conference as the Bianconeri head back to Naples to take on Napoli tomorrow in the second leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final protecting a 3-1 lead, Allegri was less than his usual reserved self. First of all were in a good period, because with a month-and-a-half to go were playing for the final of the Coppa Italia, for the chance to go to the Champions League Semi-Finals and were currently still first in the Scudetto race. So right now theres nothing more we could do. Then theres this negativity, this negative aura, its the one thing I hate. I think if we could see things positively it would be better. I think this team has played a few finals over the past few years, weve won a couple of Coppa Italia, weve won two Scudetti, then one draw and its like none of that happened. At the end of the day, the important thing is to achieve your objectives. Its also true that you have opponents, and winning is difficult. You say winning is the norm but no, winning is extraordinary because only one team can win. Besides, this is a team which in the past three years has been to a Champions League final, were playing for another Coppa Italia final, and were in the fight for the Scudetto. Right now we couldnt do more, thats a fact, like it or not. In the course of a season, just as in individual games, there are moments where you play well and moments where youre less good, the important thing is having a clear objective. Its not easy to achieve, the lads are doing incredible things, because there are opponents, because to always win is impossible. The team is growing in Italy, but above all on a European level and I think thats important. I think thats the best result, regardless of the Scudetti won. Right now Juventus are a respected team, thats the most important thing. Then I hear you say – and Ill finish with this – that Juventus have lost five finals, seven finals – how many have they lost? – seven. If you turn that around, and say Juventus played nine finals, its different. Because others didnt play them. Then at the end of the games you win or you lose. You can reverse things and see the positives, but here you only see the negative goddamnit. Thats not good. Buona giornata. Luckily, Allegri had spoken in an earlier part of the press conference when he was less incensed, at which time he had talked about Mario Mandzukic being out and other team news. Its difficult for Mandzukic to make it for the game. Well assess him today, but hes unlikely to be there. Paulo Dybala and Juan Cuadrado are available. As for the rest I dont know what to tell you, because well train today and after that Ill work out who will play tomorrow. Will he take a conservative approach to tomorrows game with Juve holding a lead? First of all theyre two different games. Sunday was a League game and this is a knockout game. We have this important objective, to reach the Coppa Italia final for the third year in a row, then go to Rome and try to win it. It wont be easy, because tomorrows game will be very open. Napoli are a team who played well on Sunday from a technical point of view, they caused us problems but we have everything it takes to reach the final. We need to be very different in technical terms to what we showed on Sunday, technically we got a lot wrong and that meant we couldnt develop the play and thats why we were more defensive. We gave away two or three shots after wed cheaply given the ball away, so we definitely need to play a different game from that point of view. If youre technically better youll have more of the ball, which means you have to defend less.

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April 4, 2017   Posted in: Knockout Game  Comments Closed

Roof closed for Ospreys v Stade Francais : European Rugby … – EPCRugby.com

EPCR officials have confirmed that the Principality Stadium roof will be closed on Sunday for the final quarter-final of the weekend when the Ospreys host Stade Francais Paris in the Challenge Cup (17.45 kick-off). It will be the first European knockout game for the Ospreys in seven years having set a record in qualifying by taking the maximum 30 points from their six pool matches. Stade Francais, who beat RC Toulon in Paris last weekend in the TOP 14, will be returning to the Welsh capital six years on from their one point defeat to Harlequins in the 2011 final. “We are all excited about Sunday’s game and what promises to be a cracking contest. Stade Francais are a big, powerful team packed with world class players and they will come to Cardiff at the weekend full of confidence after defeating Toulon,” said Ospreys Rugby Managing Director, Andrew Millward. “This is our first European quarter-final since 2010 and it’s going to be a wonderful occasion. Closing the roof will only make it more enjoyable for everybody, keeping the noise in and helping to create a great atmosphere for what we hope will turn out to be a memorable 80 minutes for all the right reasons.” Although the game kicks off at 5.45pm at the Principality Stadium, there is a full afternoon of activity next door at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park to keep everybody entertained in the build up to the big game. The iconic venue, home of Cardiff Blues, will host a special tag rugby festival in conjunction with Ospreys in the Community, with 45 teams at U7, U8, U9 and U10 levels from 14 clubs involved. The festival will support the WRU’s Half a Game initiative, launched last year to encourage and grow participation among younger children, guaranteeing game time for all young players. All supporters are invited to use the Arms Park as their base for the day with the club house open for business from 2.00pm, providing a convenient meeting point for those heading to Cardiff. The tag festival will be followed by live entertainment at the club house from 4.30pm. There will also be an appearance from non playing squad members and a Q&A ahead of kick-off to help you get in the mood for the big match. Tickets for Sunday’s game remain available to purchase from the Liberty Stadium Ticket Office and the WRU Ticket Office on Westgate Street in Cardiff, as well as online at www.ospreysrugby.com/buytickets priced at just 10 (U16s 5). On the day of the game tickets will be on sale at the WRU Ticket Office right up to kick-off. Supporters are advised to buy in advance to avoid any last minute queuing.

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March 30, 2017   Posted in: Knockout Game  Comments Closed

Video Assistant Referees could be used in EFL Cup first round next season – Eurosport.com

Video Assistant Referees could be deployed in English football as early as August when the EFL Cup first round takes place. The Football Association has indicated VARs could be trialled in next season’s FA Cup, beginning in January 2018 with the FA Cup third round when Premier League teams join the competition. But, if a trial is approved by the EFL board, VARs could be used in the EFL Cup from as soon as the first round. EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey said on Wednesday: “As part of a trial the board will consider allowing the EFL Cup to be utilised. “There are a number of rounds of the EFL Cup prior to that (the FA Cup third round). “Theoretically it could happen from the first round of the EFL Cup, which would be a team no higher than the Championship down to League Two.” VARs are currently being trialled, with FIFA president Gianni Infantino keen to employ the system during the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The video official in Tuesday night’s friendly between France and Spain corrected two wrong decisions – disallowing an offside effort by Antoine Griezmann and awarding a goal for Gerard Deulofeu after an incorrect offside flag. Spain won 2-0 in Paris. Approval for VARs to be employed in the EFL Cup could come as soon as May. There is likely to be a longer wait before VARs can be utilised in the Championship, League One and League Two, due to the lack of cameras currently available across stadia. Although some stadia will have the capacity to utilise VARs in the league, the EFL believe it is important for the same facilities to be available throughout. Goal line technology is likely to come into the Championship for the first time next season. Harvey, who on Wednesday spoke at SportsPro Live where he talked about new streaming product iFollow, added: “One of the real challenges is the integrity of the games. “If you don’t have the technology available at every single game in the competition, does that potentially have a negative impact on the competition as a whole? “Ultimately (in the EFL Cup) it doesn’t matter then if it’s not used at every single game in that round because each individual game is a knockout game in its own right. “Technology’s got to work with the EFL as well and be possible as part of the whole, not just in part. “But that should never be interpreted as the EFL not wanting to embrace technology or being against it. “It’s just the absolute practicalities and the cost effectiveness of being able to implement it.”

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March 30, 2017   Posted in: Knockout Game  Comments Closed

Palace chairman Parish urges England to learn from Zaha switch to Ivory Coast – Eurosport.com

England must learn from Wilfried Zaha’s switch to the Ivory Coast and “love” and nurture prospects from smaller clubs, according to Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish. Zaha, 24, played two friendlies for England and represented them at age group levels but reverted to the country of his birth in time for January’s African Nations Cup. England manager Gareth Southgate has pledged to focus on players who are “desperate to play for England” as he addresses the dual-nationality question. But Parish declared himself devastated to see a “ludicrous” talent slip away and called for a fresh approach. “The whole England set-up gave Wilfried no love and it is a shame that we lost him,” he told the Times. ” Wilfried was waiting and waiting for that call. “It is devastating for us as we always thought we would see him in an England shirt. We need to learn our lessons. You would not see Brazil let a player like that go.” The proportion of English-qualified players in Premier League line-ups hovers around the one-third mark and Parish warned that those who do break through must be appreciated. He said: “If we constantly neglect these kids, as their face does not fit or they are not maturing at the rate we want them to, then you can’t tell the Premier League that we have to have more and more English players playing. “It has a lot to do with the less glamorous clubs. Every now and then, a club like Palace throws up a gem. Our gems do tend to be a bit rough around the edges when they start out, they need to be honed. “Anybody who watched Wilfried will tell you some of the things he does are ludicrous. Do we not want that? I can’t believe there was not a role for Wilfried at England.” A statement issued by Zaha’s agent Will Salthouse on Tuesday took issue with questions over his passion and insisted the player had never set a deadline for an England call-up – the “disappearing egg-timer” referenced by Southgate on Monday. And Parish took aim at former England defender Danny Mills’ suggestion on Tuesday that the winger took “the easy way out” by switching allegiance. “What is easier, travelling thousands of miles every time you have to play a game?” he said. “Put England in a knockout game against Ivory Coast and it is not going to be 4-0 to England, is it? They will give England a game.”

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March 30, 2017   Posted in: Knockout Game  Comments Closed

Leinster have improved this season, warns Gopperth – Irish Independent

The Premiership leaders face Leinster in the Champions Cup quarter-final on Saturday and the former Blues out-half is expecting a much tougher challenge this time around. “It (last season) hasn’t been brought up once,” said Gopperth. “Leinster are playing like a different team and Stuart (Lancaster) coming in has really given them some steel. “They have a lot of the younger guys, (Garry) Ringrose, Adam Byrne and Tadhg (Furlong), who have really stepped up in the last 12 months so they are totally different team. “They are a class outfit at the minute and we are not taking them lightly. Last year is gone. “We know what’s coming and it will certainly be a very physical challenge. The likes of Seanie (O’Brien) I’m sure will be lining me up to give me one or two. “We just have to make sure we are mentally switched on because it is going to be a knockout game played at an international standard.”

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March 30, 2017   Posted in: Knockout Game  Comments Closed

Hawkeye force winner-take-all Game 3 – The Manila Times

Cignal-San Beda pulled off a gritty 89-86 win over Tanduay Rhum in Game 2 of their best-of-three semifinals series forcing a knockout match in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) D-League Aspirants Cup on Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City. Former La Salle forward Jason Perkins unloaded 12 of his 15 points in the second half allowing the Hawkeyes, who withstood the late run of the Rhum Masters to tie the series at 1-all. Benedict Adamos had a double-double performance with 13 markers and 13 boards while Robert Bolick Jr. contributed 13 markers for Cignal. We are still alive. At least, we have another day to live. Credit goes to the boys who really stepped up today, said Cignal coach Boyet Fernandez. Carrying a 12-point advantage after the third period, 70-58, the Hawkeyes became complacent and allowed Tanduay to unload a 19-7 run capped by Lester Alvarezs eight straight points to tie the game at 77-all with 4:30 left in the game. But Perkins hit back-to-back triples to sandwich the split of Rhum Masters Bong Quinto and the basket of Jaymo Eguilos to take an 83-80 lead with two minutes remaining. Adrian Santos pushed Tanduay within striking distance with a basket, 84-85, but Pamboy Raymundo and Perkins sealed the win for the top seed Cignal with crucial baskets sending the series to a knockout Game 3 on Tuesday. It is a matter of who wants it more who really wanted it more. We are up by 13 points so the other guys were just walking. I hope this situation will open their minds that if you have big lead, it is not a sure lead, added Fernandez. Eguilos chipped in 18 points and six rebounds while Alvarez produced 15 markers, 10 came in the fourth quarter, for Tanduay. Paul Sanga had 11 points while Kier John Quinto and Mark Cruz contributed nine and eight points, respectively, for the Rhum Masters.

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March 24, 2017   Posted in: Knockout Game  Comments Closed


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