Bauza tells Saudi Arabia players to learn fast ahead of key Portugal clash

Edgardo Bauza has taken the Saudi football to western Europe for a 12-day training camp. (AP)
Updated 10 November 2017
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Bauza tells Saudi Arabia players to learn fast ahead of key Portugal clash

VISEU, Portugal: With just 215 days until the start of the FIFA World Cup, Edgardo Bauza will take charge of his first official Saudi Arabia match tonight against European champions Portugal, insisting his players must learn quick in the mountainous city of Viseu.
“Viseu” comes from the Portuguese word “vista”, meaning view, and it is appropriate given the Argentine coach hopes to finish the evening with a better vision of what work he has to do before boarding his flight from Riyadh to Russia next June. Having arrived at the Saudi helm only in September — after the squad had already qualified for next summer’s showpiece — he has overseen three unofficial games, against Jamaica, Ghana and, earlier this week, Latvia. Tonight’s glamor tie will be the first against another qualified side.
“Facing top teams like Portugal is part of our preparation program ahead of the World Cup,” said Bauza, who has taken Saudi to western Europe for a 12-day training camp. “This is the second of three games here and is very important. We are in an important phase because we are only starting to work with the squad. Now the team is getting used to our working methods and I am getting to know them better.
“Portugal has qualified for the World Cup and we know they have good players that will give us a hard game. Against us, they will likely play many that we have not seen playing too much at this level before, but it is very important to show respect to all. For us, it will be a very difficult game and we must learn quickly how to play against a team of this high standard.”
Bauza’s counterpart Fernando Santos is expected to give debuts to a number of young players after naming an inexperienced squad, including the uncapped Marcos Lopes of Monaco and Real Sociedad’s Kévin Rodrigues. But, highlighting Renato Sanchez, Santos stressed his youthful selection does not belittle the level of the opposition, nor the importance of the match.
“Age is not important,” he said. “Renato was 18 years old when he went to the Euros. Others, like Raphael Guerreiro, were very young. It is an open team without ages. What matters is the individual or collective quality, that is what makes them come or not. Of course, these 23 players will not all be in the World Cup squad, but some will be, like others who did not come and can be. There is only one player who is the exception.”
That exception will not feature tonight. Cristiano Ronaldo is absent, not called upon by Santos who prefers to run his eye over other options. Saudi, however, are not anticipating an easier ride.
“Ronaldo is obviously a very important player for any team, but naturally I still expect a difficult match,” Bauza said. “Portugal has a deep squad and are able to fill the gaps of players that will not be present. We want to first play a good game against Portugal and then again against Bulgaria [on Monday]. The objective is to be ready for the World Cup, but we have time to work.”


WHAT WE LEARNED IN NFL WEEK 10: Brilliant Bears and terrific Titans

Updated 14 November 2018
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WHAT WE LEARNED IN NFL WEEK 10: Brilliant Bears and terrific Titans

We are over halfway in the NFL season and getting a better picture of who is in the running for January’s Playoffs. Arab News looks at what we learned from Week 10 of the world’s greatest gridiron league.

BEARS ON THE RISE
Whisper it, but the Chicago Bears could go a long way this season. It is fair to say, Chi-Town’s football team has been a blotch on the city’s sporting record in recent decades. Since the Bears’ defensive masterclass won them a Super Bowl in 1985, the iconic Bulls in the NBA, the rise and rise of the Blackhawks in ice hockey and the White Sox and Cubs winning a World Series have rendered them the poor cousins of Chicago’s sporting scene. But this current crop have really stepped up this season and, after yet another victory this week, find themselves in the unfamiliar position of leading the NFC North division. They might not get to the Big Game, but this Bears team is finally one the city can be proud of.

PENALTIES DECIDE FORTUNES
One of the big factors in this season’s surprise package LA Rams’ success has been their discipline. Coming into Week 10, the Rams had given away just 45 penalties, an average of five per game — second fewest in the league. So, that they gave away 10 infractions this weekend and nearly lost a tight game with the Seahawks, highlights just how important staying on the referee’s good side is to a team with serious Super Bowl ambitions. You can have a quality quarterback, rapid running backs and titanic tight-ends — if the discipline is not there, it will cost you a run at the Super Bowl.

CLEVELAND BROWNS ARE ALIVE
There is life in Cleveland, at last. Not since 2015 have the Browns won three games in a season. And with 6 games left in the season, they could win a fourth of the season for the first time in four years. Their 28-16 win over the Atlanta Falcons this weekend showed that this Browns team is packed-full of talent, but is lacking the right guidance. General Manager John Dorsey should use the highlights of this match in his search for a new head coach, as the Browns did not look like a 3-1-6 team, but needs the right man to guide it to respectability. Meanwhile, the defeat for the Falcons has put them on the brink of becoming also-rans for the Playoffs, they realistically need to win six — perhaps all seven — of their remaining games.

TITANS SHOW US THEIR WORTH
Tennessee have been hovering on the outskirts of Playoff contention all year, and their shock dismantling of the New England Patriots gave as an insight into what this team is really capable of. Mike Vrabel’s defense were all over Tom Brady from the kick-off and relentlessly pressured him all game. They got lucky at times — Josh Gordon’s uncharacteristic dropped passes helped — and made sure they capitalized when they stopped the Patriots offense. This Titans team burst out of the blocks and rushed past the Patriots early, taking a 17-3 lead. It just shows, take the game to the Patriots early and their defensive frailties can be exploited.