THREE THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR: Brilliant Gareth Bale, stale Spurs and Italian woe

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Gareth Bale has prospered since Cristiano Ronaldo left Real Madrid for Juventus. (AFP)
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Updated 21 September 2018
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THREE THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR: Brilliant Gareth Bale, stale Spurs and Italian woe

LONDON: All the major teams have now had a chance take a breather after their exploits in Europe and can now focus on domestic issues. Here we look at the things to look out for this weekend.

INTER AND ROMA YET TO PROVE CLASS

Both sides were expected to provide some sort of challenge to Serie A perennial champions Juventus this season. Roma, on the back of making it to the Champions League semifinals, and Inter on the back of renewed optimism at the San Siro. Both Italian heavyweights have looked punch-drunk so far, however. Inter have just one win in four and Roma are without victory in three matches. The Nerazzurri come into their clash away against an in-form Sampdoria on the back of a shock 2-1 win over Tottenham in the Champions League. Roma face Bologna away on the back of a 3-0 defeat to Real Madrid. Can both sides make statement of intents on the road or will they once again flatter to deceive?



CAN SPURS STOP SLIDE?

Such is the manic nature of top-flight football, combined with the 24/7 news cycle, that it only takes two weeks for a club to plummet from “definite title challengers” to “club in crisis.” Step forward Tottenham, who since they beat Manchester United 3-0 at Old Trafford have lost three in a row — to Watford and Liverpool in the Premier League and Inter Milan in Europe — and talk of a side that has gone stale is now prevalent. Obviously Spurs have not become bad overnight, but Harry Kane and Co. do look tired after their exertions at the World Cup — they had more players in the final stages in Russia than any other English club — and they need to get a win to stop the rot. An away clash at Brighton is not the easiest assignment, but defeat is not an option for Mauricio Pochettino’s men.



CAN BALE CONTINUE BRILLIANCE?

Just four months ago Gareth Bale was on the bench for the Champions League final, and it only seemed a matter of time before he left Real Madrid for pastures new. From the moment he was subbed on during the victory over Liverpool, things have definitely gone his way. He scored two in the 3-1 win over the Reds — the first an outstanding overhead kick — Zinedine Zidane, with whom he had a strained relationship, left as coach, and then the Frenchman was followed out of the Bernabeu exit door by Cristiano Ronaldo, the player who dominated Los Blancos. All that has given the Welsh wizard more freedom — freedom to express himself, to be the main man and to remind the fans why he was once the most expensive player in the world. He has been brilliant so far this season. In the Champions Legaue win over Roma he scored his fifth goal in seven games and looked indispensable to the side. A home clash against Espanyol tonight gives him a great chance to continue that run of form. Ronaldo who?

 


Princess becomes first Saudi woman to head sports club

Updated 22 July 2019
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Princess becomes first Saudi woman to head sports club

  • Princess Nourah thanked her hosts for the hospitality and outlined her ambitions for the team’s future

RIYADH: Princess Nourah bint Saad has officially become the first Saudi woman to be president of a sports club. Italian news outlet Corriere Della Sera reported recently that the princess had successfully acquired the Umbrian football club Spoleto.

Speaking at a press conference, the princess thanked her hosts for the hospitality and outlined her ambitions for the team’s future. 

“Football is a family passion, and Italian football is followed all over the world. This is why I chose to invest in Umbria,” she said. 

Princess Nourah chose the team after considering several aspects. “Spoleto is a small, amateur football organization where it is possible to work with the aim of growing and aiming for promotion. But we cannot fail to consider the value and beauty of the city of Spoleto, which is famous throughout the world.” Spoleto is a member of Serie D of the Italian non-professional football association, Lega Nazionale Dilettanti.  The association represents more than 12,000 football players and 400 football teams across Italy and is considered the fourth-ranked league in the country. Under the princess’s presidency, the team aims to ascend to Serie C in the near future, and further in the long term.

Spoleto announced that they have formally registered for the Excellence Umbria 2019/2020 championship and the Regional Junior Championship 2019/2020.

This purchase marks the Saudi royal family’s second venture into sports club ownership. Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad co-owns English Premier League football club Sheffield United.