Preview: Winter Olympics leading lights and Arab interest

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Moroccan Samir Azzimani will be one of two athletes representing Morocco at the Winter Olympics 2018 in PyeongChang. (AP)
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Martin Fourcade
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Lindsey Vonn.
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Kjetil Jansrud.
Updated 09 February 2018
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Preview: Winter Olympics leading lights and Arab interest

LONDON: Here are the leading lights looking to land gold over the next two weeks in South Korea.
KJETIL JANSRUD — The Norwegian heads up a powerful set of skiers from the Winter Olympic heavyweights also boasting the likes of speed king Aksel Lund Svindal and slalom expert Henrik Kristoffersen. Jansrud won super-G gold and downhill bronze in Sochi in 2014 and giant slalom silver in 2010. His versatility is legendary and he has history in South Korea, having won the downhill on the Olympic course in February last year.
MARTIN FOURCADE — The 29-year-old brings to Pyeongchang all the credentials for achieving more success. An 11-time world champion and six-time overall World Cup winner, Fourcade won two golds and a silver at Sochi 2014 having also claimed silver in 2010. The French army officer has been in imperious form this season, but so has Norwegian Johannes Boe, the only man capable of stopping his golden charge. It all makes for a thrilling showdown in South Korea.
CHLOE KIM — Aged just 17, Chloe Kim is tipped by many to become the breakout star of the Winter Olympics in Korea, her parents’ homeland. Too young to compete in Sochi four years ago, she’s a halfpipe snowboard specialist who has racked up some impressive performances over the past few months. She is a four-times Winter X Games champion and was America’s flag-bearer at the 2016 Winter Youth Olympics, where she won the halfpipe and slopestyle titles.
 

MIKAELA SHIFFRIN — At just 22 years old, the Colorado native has already racked up 41 wins on the World Cup circuit, mainly in the slalom. But this year has seen Shiffrin add a further string to her bow as she branches out into the speed disciplines. She streaked to a first downhill victory in Lake Louise and given Pyeongchang’s favorable schedule, Shiffrin could realistically medal in four events.
LINDSEY VONN — The 33-year-old American has won four World Cup overall championships as well as an Olympic gold in the downhill at the 2010 Games. Despite missing the 2014 Games through injury she has become one of the most recognizable sportswomen in the world. She has 81 World Cup wins to her name, closing down on Ingemar Stenmark’s record of 86, and is aiming for a last Olympic hurrah in South Korea.
CHOI MIN-JEONG — In her first Olympics, 19-year-old Choi is South Korea’s potential golden girl and the favorite over three distances in short-track speed skating — 500m, 1,000m and 1,500m. A fourth gold is not out of reach on home soil if she can help the host nation win the 3,000m relay. The Chinese women will hope to stand in her way.


Can Cristiano Ronaldo revive Serie A? — Four things to look out for in Europe this weekend

Updated 17 August 2018
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Can Cristiano Ronaldo revive Serie A? — Four things to look out for in Europe this weekend

  • Serie A has been in the doldrums fro over a decade, will Ronaldo's move change that?
  • Lionel Messi is new Barcelona skipper, can he lead them to Champions League glory?

LONDON: The Premier League got underway last week and now the rest of Europe is hot on its heels. Here are four things to look out for across the continent as La Liga and Serie A return…

CAN RONALDO SAVE SERIE A?

Back in the 1980s and 1990s there was only one league to play in, the Italian top-flight. All the best players played there and it was considered as tough an environment to thrive in as any. For the past 15 years the opposite has generally been true. Serie A has become a faded relic which rarely hints at its past glory, a division where Fabio Borini finds a starting spot for the team and in the position that Marco van Basten made his own. In the month since Cristiano Ronaldo signed for Juventus people have started talking about the division positively once again. It seems harsh to expect one man to save a league but a lot is expected of the Portuguese star.

All eyes will be on Ronaldo this Saturday when the Old Lady face Chievo in their season-opener and the Portuguese's debut. 

 


NEW ERA FOR BARCA

Andres Iniesta’s departure has left a huge hole for the Catalans to fill. His captain's armband has been taken by Lionel Messi, not a bad replacement, but there is still a sense of a changing of the guard at the Nou Camp. Barca nearly went a whole season unbeaten last campaign, and did the domestic double at the same time. So it seems strange that there are question marks over Ernesto Valverde’s side. Ultimately, it is how the side does in the Champions League that will determine whether the season is a success or not, but the Catalans need to get off to a strong start in La Liga to perhaps settle some nerves.

Lionel Messi and his Barca team will have to learn to live without Andres Iniesta this season with their talisman now playing in Japan. 

 


ACTION FOR ARSENAL

It is not the end of the world to lose to Manchester City, as the Gunners did on the opening day of the Premier League last week. But the manner in which they lost understandably caused some worry about just how much of a rebuilding job new boss Unai Emery has to undertake. It does not get any easier for the Spaniard and his team as this weekend Arsenal are set to face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. It goes without saying that two defeats from two is not the ideal way to start a reign so it will be interesting to see how the north Londoners tackle the match against their city rivals. Emery has insisted they will not change their passing style for a more cautious approach, but such was their abject display last week that that could well lead to another defeat and the season’s first “crisis.”

The 2-0 defeat at home to Manchester CIty was not an ideal way to start the season for Arsenal. They face Chelsea on Saturday knowing an improved performance in the very least they have to put on. 

 


CAN ANYONE STOP JUVE?

The Old Lady has won seven consecutive Serie A titles. With the addition of Ronaldo surely an eighth awaits — all rather dull, isn’t it. But Inter Milan, with guaranteed Champions League income, have strengthened signing Stefan de Vrij and Radja Nainggolan, among others, and have managed to keep Croatia star Ivan Perisic. Napoli, now under Carlo Ancelotti have proved to be Juve’s main challengers the past few seasons and have no reason to believe they cannot do so again. Add in the improving Roma and AC Milan and the arguments for a compelling title chase are there. It will, however, be tough to topple Juventus.

Inter Milan may have only just scraped into the Champions League last season but they could well provide the big challenge to Juve this time around, not least if they can capture the signing of Croatia star, Luka Modric.