Real Madrid not underestimating anybody, says Santiago Solari ahead of Kashima Antlers game

Real Madrid manager Santiago Solari said he will not be underestimating anyone in the FIFA Club World Cup as he gets his team ready to face Kashima Antlers in today’s semifinal. (AFP)
Updated 18 December 2018

Real Madrid not underestimating anybody, says Santiago Solari ahead of Kashima Antlers game

  • Argentine was full of praise for Real’s Japanese opponents and the threats they pose his team
  • Kashima boss Go Oiwa said his team will be up against it against a strong Madrid side

ABU DHABI: Real Madrid manager Santiago Solari said he will not be underestimating anyone in the FIFA Club World Cup as he gets his team ready to face Kashima Antlers in today’s semifinal.
Speaking in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, Solari said: “You are not playing poor teams (here).
“We have more confederations playing (now), and it’s a more beautiful tournament, this is a tournament I like it a lot.
“You are playing around the world, you have to get used to the change in climate and time, but so does everyone else. I have followed this tournament for a long time, there is no way I will underestimate any team.”

And the Argentine was full of praise for Real’s Japanese opponents and the threats they pose his team, having run Los Blancos close in 2016’s final.
“If you are here, you deserve to be here. Kashima are a lot more experienced than two years ago, they are continental champions.
“They play direct football, they have fast strikers. It is going to be a beautiful match.”
Real defender Marcelo was also in a confident mood ahead of the game.
“We are here because we have won many titles, and we are hungry to win even more, that is what motivates us as a group, wearing the Real Madrid shirt is motivation in itself,” he said.
“It is not about individuals, we don’t think like that at Real Madrid.
“We are friends in and out of the team and we want to win together, we are happy to play in this tournament, which is important enough,” the Brazilian added.
Meanwhile, Kashima boss Go Oiwa said his team will be up against it against a strong Madrid side, even without Cristiano Ronaldo in their ranks — the Portuguese superstar scored a hat-trick in the 2016 final.
“With or without Ronaldo, Real are very strong, they will be as strong as they were two years ago. They have many players in attack that we have to pay attention to.
“I cannot really measure how much of a loss Ronaldo is to (them), we just have to work hard not to concede any goals,” he said.
“I don’t know if we are any closer to winning than we were two years ago, but we will do our best and play until the end.
“We are representing Japan, we are representing Asia, it is about fighting as a group and doing everything together as a group,” he added.


Kobe Bryant: NBA All-Star crowd pays tribute to fallen basketball icon

Updated 17 February 2020

Kobe Bryant: NBA All-Star crowd pays tribute to fallen basketball icon

  • Bryant died along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven victims in a helicopter crash on January 26
  • NBA’s All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award has been permanently named for Lakers star

CHICAGO: Team LeBron beat Team Giannis by two points at the 69th NBA All-Star game on Sunday at a packed United Center that fell silent for eight seconds before tip-off as about 21,000 fans joined hands to pay their respects to global sports icon Kobe Bryant.
The silence was broken by a string of thunderous “Kobe, Kobe, Kobe,” chants that rocked the stadium as the crowd honored Bryant, who wore the No. 8 and No. 24 during a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers that was highlighted by five National Basketball Association championships.
The stirring pre-game tribute began with Laker great Magic Johnson rousing the crowd and paying homage to Bryant, killed along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven victims in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on Jan. 26.
“We will never see another basketball player quite like Kobe,” Johnson said, highlighting his work with the Los Angeles community along with the love he had for his family. “This is a tough time for the whole NBA family.”
Johnson also paid tribute to former NBA Commissioner David Stern, who oversaw explosive growth in the popularity of the game during his 30-year tenure. Stern died on Jan. 1.
Before tip-off, the singer and actor Jennifer Hudson, who is a Chicago native, sang with a montage of photos of Bryant and his daughter in the background.
The game was a culmination of a weekend filled with tributes to the former Los Angeles Lakers star who was an 18-time All-Star and won the All-Star game’s MVP award four times.
On Friday, Bryant, who is fourth all-time in league scoring, was named a finalist to the Basketball Hall of Fame. On Saturday, the league’s commissioner, Adam Silver, announced that the league’s All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award has been permanently named for Bryant.
Bryant made his NBA All-Star Game debut in 1998 at age 19 – the youngest player to ever play in an All-Star Game. His 18 All-Star selections are the second-most in NBA history, behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, at 19.
Players in Sunday’s All-Star game wore No. 2 and No. 24 on their jerseys to honor Kobe and Gianna Bryant, while the game’s format paid homage to Bryant.
The team with the most points after three quarters needed to score 24 points to win, while the trailing team had to score 24 plus the number of points it was down.
Team Giannis held a nine-point lead over Team LeBron after three quarters, but the LeBron James-led side had the last laugh, outscoring Team Giannis 33-22 in the final period to clinch a 157-155 victory.
Team Giannis was headed by Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Team LeBron’s Kawhi Leonard was named All-Star MVP after scoring 30 points, including eight three-pointers.