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Updated: 16 min 4 sec ago

China reins in Tevez-like spending with view to World Cup success

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 07:01

Carlos Tévez has returned to Argentina and now China has started to focus on fewer big-money imports and more homegrown players

If André Villas-Boas leaving Shanghai to go and participate in the Dakar Rally was a surprising exit, that of Carlos Tévez was less so. After a season of diminishing returns on the pitch and a growing bank balance off it, it was almost inevitable that the Argentinian would add insult to the injuries, weight problems and homesickness that had defined his spell in China.

“It’s fine because I was on holiday for seven months,” the forward reportedly joked in an interview with Argentinian television on Monday. But when you take the money (£615,000 a week went the reports in December 2016 though Shanghai officials claim the figures were exaggerated) and don’t run so much then it’s best to keep quiet.

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Nick Kyrgios overcomes Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to reach Australian Open last 16

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 07:01
  • Fired-up Kyrgios wins 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5)
  • ‘It was amazing,’ says Australian after gruelling win

Focused and fired up, Nick Kyrgios came through his stiffest test yet at the Australian Open on Friday, beating former runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5) to reach the fourth round. Both men bashed 28 aces in Rod Laver Arena but the No 17 seed, the lone Australian left in the men’s draw, played his best when he needed to and he will now face Grigor Dimitrov for a quarter-final spot.

Tsonga had a set point in the third set and led 5-2 in the fourth-set tiebreak but Kyrgios held firm. Mark Edmondson, the last Australian man to win the title in Melbourne in 1976, said this week that he would be more than happy to pass the mantle to Kyrgios, should he go on to lift the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup a week on Sunday. There are a lot of good players in his path, but the 22-year-old is in the mix.

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The PSG-Neymar show rolls on – but is it more celebrity than sport? | Barney Ronay

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 07:00

Watching the Brazilian score four goals in PSG’s 8-0 thrashing of Dijon this week was breathtaking but a lack of tension is not good for anyone

An hour into Paris Saint-Germain versus Dijon at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday there was a scramble in the Dijon penalty area, the thrilling spectacle of three world-class players tussling over the ball in the tightest of spaces.

Not that this was entirely straightforward. Some might point to the slight oddity that all three players were wearing PSG shirts. Ángel Di María, Edinson Cavani and Neymar tangling furiously with one another in their eagerness to pick up another loose ball and shoot. It is tempting at this point to describe the Dijon goal as “beleaguered”. But this would assume, incorrectly, it was ever actually leaguered in the first place.

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Burnley's Sean Dyche laughs off suggestion he eats worms – video

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 06:32

Burnley manager Sean Dyche jokingly denies he’s ever eaten worms. Dyche’s former Bristol City teammate Soren Andersen jovially claimed the Burnley manager would eat earthworms during training session and that it is the cause of his gruff voice

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Joe Root guides dominant England to victory over Australia in second ODI

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 06:14
• Second ODI: England, 274-6, beat Australia 270-9, by 4wkts
• Joe Root 46* as tourists go 2-0 up in series with 5.4 overs to spare

England came into this series wanting to win in different ways. So after a dominant performance in the first one-day international, a nippier chase on an uncharacteristic Brisbane pitch is one to add to the portfolio. A four-wicket win with 34 balls remaining has given them a 2-0 lead in the series. This is only their second win in eight ODIs at this venue.

Australia opted to bat first and drop their only spinner. So when England used three of their own, bowling the second-highest number of deliveries by spinners in an ODI in this country, the hosts knew something was not quite right. The pitch was more Chandigarh than Gabbatoir.

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Germany midfielder Leon Goretzka agrees Bayern Munich move

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 06:06

• Goretzka will complete move from Schalke to Bayern on 1 July
• Midfielder passed medical with Bundesliga champions on Thursday

Leon Goretzka will join Bayern Munich from Schalke in the summer after agreeing a contract and passing a medical with the Bundesliga champions on Thursday.

Christian Heidel, the Schalke sporting director, announced at a press conference on Friday that the 22-year-old Germany midfielder had signed a contract with the Bundesliga champions from 1 July.

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Did US Soccer's 'arrogance' drive Jonathan González to switch to Mexico?

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 06:00

The talented Californian represented USA at youth level but has switched to El Tri. Some coaches and players fear it is the start of a trend

The United States Soccer Federation must better engage with America’s Latino population and hire coaches who “think outside the box” if it doesn’t want a repeat of rising star Jonathan González’s defection to Mexico. That’s the takeaway from those who say the sport’s governing body is “arrogant” and ignoring the country’s ever-growing Hispanic population.

González, an 18-year-old American-born midfielder who never quite fit the US youth system, dreamed of playing for the US. The feeling wasn’t mutual. He wasn’t included in an experimental US squad that faced Portugal in a friendly last November – the Americans’ first run out since their World Cup qualification failure – nor the current national team winter camp. No big deal, maybe. Except in Mexico, González is considered an exceptional talent.

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Australian Open extreme heat policy to be reviewed as concerned players suffer

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 05:44
• Officials say they take player welfare seriously after criticism
• Djokovic among those worried as temperatures peak at 40.2C

Australian Open officials will review the extreme heat policy at the end of the tournament but insisted they take player welfare very seriously. A two-day heatwave has led to matches at Melbourne Park being played in soaring temperatures, which peaked on Friday at 40.2C (104F).

But they were not deemed extreme enough for the tournament to implement its policy, which can see matches on open courts postponed and those on the show courts played with the roof closed.

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Football transfer rumours: Chelsea to move for Peter Crouch? Really?

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 05:28

Today’s fluff is rubbing its eyes

Having been mentioned in jest on yesterday’s award-winning Guardian podcast Football Weekly Extra, a move for Peter Crouch from Stoke City to Chelsea now looks like it might actually happen. The Premier League champions had been linked with Andy Carroll, but the West Ham totem’s state of perma-knack means that particular switch – like the player himself – is not currently a runner. An ankle injury means the unfortunate Carroll faces another extended period on the sidelines and if Stoke aren’t prepared to sell Crouchie, Chelsea will move for Brian Deane, John Carew or Jan Koller. The Roma striker Edin Dzeko is another one of several big men with a goodish touch who is is being reported to be on Antonio Conte’s radar, but it’s understood they have a more pressing need for a homegrown player to meet their Premier League squad quota. Dzeko’s team-mate, the Roma left-back Emerson Palmieri and his Juventus counterpart Alex Sandro also feature prominently on the Chelsea shopping list.

Manchester City are prepared to try to hijack any move Juve make for Liverpool midfielder Emre Can, who may not go anywhere now that his current employers have been unsuccessful in their bid to sign Schalke’s Leon Goretzka, who has joined Bayern Munich. In similar party-pooping mode, Tottenham Hotspur might try to scupper Manchester United’s well-documented attempts to sign Paris Saint-Germain outcast Lucas Moura. Italian pink paper La Gazzetta Dello Sport reports that United are also interested in taking Juve’s Argentinian striker Paulo Dybala, but say the 24-year-old will have to submit a transfer request before any bids are considered.

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Team Sky should suspend Chris Froome during investigation, says UCI president

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 05:19

• David Lappartient calls for ‘simpler’ option over Salbutamol claims
• Tour de France champion Froome denies breaking any rules

Team Sky should suspend Chris Froome until an investigation into his failed drugs test for an asthma medication is over, according to the president of the International Cycling Union, David Lappartient.

The four-time Tour de France winner, who denies breaking any rules, could potentially be stripped of his Vuelta a España title after it was exclusively revealed by the Guardian that a urine test he took during the race in September showed excessive levels of Salbutamol.

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The NFL playoffs show you don't need a great quarterback to succeed

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 05:00

The NFL is a quarterback-driven league but three of the four teams left standing this season don’t have superstars under center

Each April at the top of the NFL draft, teams grab at quarterbacks they envision leading them to glory. But none of the four quarterbacks remaining in the NFL playoffs took that textbook path to the conference title game. The Eagles, Vikings, Patriots and Jaguars each made it to the championship round without an early pick, “franchise QB” leading the way, not the way in which it’s supposed to be done.

Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles was a first-round pick, sure. But in the four seasons from the time he was taken with the No3 overall pick in the 2014 draft to today, he lost the franchise QB luster with inconsistent and occasionally comically awful play. Benched just this preseason, he regained the starting job over Chad Henne by week one, but didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard until the Jaguars put 45 on the Steelers in the divisional round. His two games before that were a 12-for-23, 87-yard effort in a 10-7 win over the Bills and a 15-for-34, two-interception games in a 15-10 loss to the Titans. It was Jacksonville’s defense that got the Jags to Pittsburgh, with Bortles seen as little more than a caretaker along the way, if we’re being generous; or, according to less kind appraisals, Bortles was – and remains – Jacksonville’s one glaring weakness. Remember that Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone, when asked last spring how many of Bortles’ passes his ideal game plan would feature in 2017, replied: “Zero”. There’s not a person outside of Duval County, Florida, who would argue Bortles is even a Top 15 NFL quarterback or that he has lived up to his No3 overall pick pedigree.

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Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 03:30

Arsène Wenger seeks a reaction, Rafa Benítez may change approach against Manchester City and is Glenn Murray what Chelsea need?

Two teams struggling to score goals go toe-to-toe when Brighton and Chelsea get the Premier League ball rolling in Saturday’s early kick-off. Brighton have drawn seven blanks in their past 10 league games and have only scored more than once on one occasion in that time. Before their FA Cup draw with Norwich on Wednesday night – Antonio Conte’s side eventually won the tie on penalties – Chelsea had failed to score in three successive games; an uncharacteristic drought for the defending champions, who will be without the suspended Pedro and Álvaro Morata and are also likely to be missing the hamstrung Cesc Fàbregas. A team already over-reliant on Eden Hazard may have to depend on him more than ever and the Belgian is likely to play as a false nine in the absence of Morata. The unsurprising news that Andy Carroll is likely to be sidelined for four to six weeks with an ankle injury means the West Ham striker will not be lumbering to the rescue any time soon. In Glenn Murray, Brighton have something of a Carroll Lite and with two goals in his past three games, the striker will have no better opportunity to audition for one of the most unlikely transfers in Premier League history. BG

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Australian Open 2018: Nick Kyrgios v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – live!

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 02:12

7.11am GMT

Grigor Dimitrov looks hugely relieved on Rod Laver Arena. The ATP World Tour Finals champion has just overcome a spirited challenge from Andrey Rublev, the young Russian who so impertinently bundled him out of last year’s US Open. The third seed wasn’t at his best, but he had enough in the tank to win 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. He faces either Kyrgios or Tsonga next.

7.08am GMT

While we wait for Nick and Jo, here’s what’s happened so far on day five. Let’s start with some rare good news for British tennis: Kyle Edmund is into round four after dealing with the sweltering Australian afternoon sun and a pesky challenge from Nikoloz Basilashvili. The British No2 took three hours and 34 minutes to beat the Georgian 7-6 (0), 3-6, 4-6, 6-0, 7-5, showing heart and stamina to cope with the oppressive conditions. Given that he faces Andreas Seppi or Ivo Karlovic next, he has a great chance of reaching the last eight. Meanwhile Pablo Carreno Busta has beaten Gilles Muller. That’s a good win for the 10th seed, who plays Ryan Harrison or Marin Cilic next.

Related: Kyle Edmund wins trial of spirit against Nikoloz Basilashvili in 40C heat

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Kyle Edmund wins trial of spirit against Nikoloz Basilashvili in 40C heat

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 23:28
  • Britain’s last remaining player wins 7-6 (0), 3-6, 4-6, 6-0, 7-5
  • ‘It was tough, but it was tough for him too,’ says Edmund

There was no hiding place from the unrelenting sun – except beneath shifting slivers of shade – on day five of the 2018 Australian Open, but the fair-skinned Yorkshireman, Kyle Edmund managed to stagger past Nikoloz Basilashvili into the fourth round of a slam for just the second time, at the age of 23.

He got this far at the US Open two years ago, losing to a prime Novak Djokovic. This time, he prevailed, taking three hours and 34 minutes – as well as probably a tube or two of sunscreen and gallons of electrolyte-treated water – to subdue the 25-year-old Georgian 7-6 (0), 3-6, 4-6, 6-0, 7-5.

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Australia v England: second one-day international – live!

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 22:52

3.52am GMT

7th over: Australia 40-0 (Warner 26, Finch 14) Mark Wood really pulling things back here. Makes Finch defend once... twice... three times! Finally Finch gets a single. Warner says, none of this, we need runs. So he plonks his front foot down and drills a length ball back down the ground for four! Wood predictably goes shorter, and Warner goes back on his stumps and pulls four more. A great over becomes a poor one in the blink of an eye.

@GeoffLemonSport Geoff, England will have their work cut out today - the element of surprise of the first ODI has gone, and Australia know what to expect and will have planned how to respond. I think Australia will nibble then nobble this one.

3.46am GMT

6th over: Australia 31-0 (Warner 18, Finch 13) Spectators wearing replica baggy greens, get in the sea. Finch runs a single to fine leg, Warner gets a full ball and utterly pounds Woakes down the ground. That shot made a rifle crack, dead straight down the pitch. Woakes dials his length back and Warner can only stab a dot ball back to close the over. So this pair hitting some nice shots, but Australia hasn’t yet got away. Five an over with the field restrictions in place.

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Australian Open players talk about sweltering heat in Melbourne – video

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 20:06

With on-court temperatures reportedly reaching 69C, Gaël Monfils says he was 'dying' in his match with Novak Djokovic and Hsieh Su-wei says bugs were being killed by the heat

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Socceroos to play Colombia in London as part of World Cup preparations

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 19:13
  • New coach to run rule over players on 27 March
  • Game comes four days after friendly against Norway in Oslo

The Socceroos’ preparations for the 2018 World Cup will take in a friendly match in the familiar surrounds of Craven Cottage against Colombia on 27 March, four days after they play Norway in Oslo in what is expected to be the still-to-be-appointed national team coach’s first game in charge.

Related: Mathew Ryan: ‘English pundits tend to be critical of goalkeepers’

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Mathew Ryan: ‘English pundits tend to be critical of goalkeepers’

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 17:39
Brighton No 1 has matured in the two years since he conceded seven goals against Messi and co in Barcelona

Mathew Ryan smiles in a self‑deprecating way. Brighton’s goalkeeper is thinking back to the night when Barcelona pummelled Gary Neville’s ragged Valencia side and it is clear he does not have fond memories from his only visit to the Camp Nou. “Wouldn’t it hurt you if you were a goalkeeper?” he says.

Fair point. Selected by Neville for the first leg of Valencia’s Copa del Rey semi-final against the Spanish and European champions in February 2016, it was Ryan’s misfortune to take most of the punches. “I wanted to stop Messi, Suárez and Neymar,” Australia’s No 1 says. “It would have been the night of my life.” Instead, it became one of the lowest moments of his career. Valencia were 3-0 down when Shkodran Mustafi was sent off shortly before half-time, but Barcelona showed no mercy. Leo Messi got a hat-trick, Luis Suárez scored four and Neville was sacked two months after that 7‑0 humiliation.

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Eddie Jones claims it is business as usual for England and Six Nations | Robert Kitson

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 17:00

The head coach is making light of the injuries and suspensions which have left him short of a number of regulars for their first match against Italy

Eddie Jones already has a number of interesting theories about this season’s Six Nations championship. In no particular order he reckons England are being written off before a ball has been kicked, that Ireland are being talked up prematurely and, most significantly, that his injury-ravaged 35-man squad for next month’s fixture with Italy in Rome can still claim a third successive Six Nations title.

His beady eye has also alighted on a headline in Monday’s Guardian which suggested the faltering club form of some Premiership clubs might have a knock-on effect on England’s looming campaign. Jones is a fan of the redesigned paper – “I love the new tabloid!” – but is less keen about England being perceived as more vulnerable this year. To Jones’s mind – “We still feel we’ve got a good enough team to win the Six Nations” – it remains very much a case of business as usual.

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Sunil Gulati says global perceptions of US could hit 2026 World Cup bid

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 16:33
  • New poll shows confidence in US leadership has hit a new low
  • US has launched joint bid for 2026 event with Canada and Mexico

As a new poll shows global confidence in American leadership is at an all-time low, US Soccer president Sunil Gulati has raised concerns about the country’s 2026 World Cup bid.

The US is widely seen as a favorite to win the bid for the 2026 tournament, which it plans to co-host with Mexico and Canada. However, a new Gallup poll of 134 countries shows global approval for the US has fallen from 48% under Barack Obama’s presidency to 30% after one year of Donald Trump. According to the survey, Germany and China are now seen as more reliable world leaders than the US.

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