Real Madrid must regroup quickly after defeat ahead of El Clasico clash, says Santiago Solari

Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele in action with Real Madrid's Dani Carvajal during the clubs' Copa del Rey encounter. (Reuters)
Updated 28 February 2019

Real Madrid must regroup quickly after defeat ahead of El Clasico clash, says Santiago Solari

LONDON: Santiago Solari wants his Real Madrid players to pick themselves up and forget about their midweek Copa del Rey defeat to Barcelona as they prepare to face their bitter rivals again in the league tomorrow.
The Catalan giants cruised to a 3-0 victory at the Bernabeu to wrap up a 4-1 aggregate win on Wednesday and will be full of confidence going into the game at the same ground, especially as they have won 10 of their last 17 matches at the home of Los Blancos, which is now being dubbed “Camp Bernabeu” by the media because of Barca’s recent success there.
Madrid haven’t beaten Barcelona in their last five matchups at any venue, and their last win was in the Spanish Super Cup final in 2017.
Despite this, Solari was upbeat about his team’s chances in the second El Clasico of the season — the first resulted in a 5-1 win for Barca.

“We are upset. It was a hard blow,” he said. “In football you have to pick yourself up quickly because we have another difficult match ahead of us.”
Things could have been different on Wednesday if young forward Vinicius Junior, seen as Madrid’s next star after the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, had not missed many clear chances in a first half in which Madrid dominated and deserved at least a goal.
The 18-year-old Brazilian was the home side’s best player, creating many scoring opportunities, but was not able to capitalize.
“He will get better with time,” Solari said. “He will mature.”
Vinicius Junior’s teammates were quick to show their support for him.
“We have to score when he creates the chances, but we can’t blame a single player for the loss,” midfielder Casemiro said. “When we lose, we all lose. When we win, we all win.”
Ernesto Valverde celebrated his 100th match in charge of Barcelona on Wednesday, and has a chance to strike another double blow with a repeat result in his 101st on Saturday, by knocking Madrid out of contention in the title race for good.
But despite winning so comfortably, the Barca boss wants his side to be even better to ensure they get the result, which will take them 12 points clear of Madrid.
“Saturday’s match has the same importance as before and we will have to improve to win here again,” he told Spanish media.
Afterwards, he compared the game to his side’s recent goalless draw with Lyon in the Champions League.
“I think we come out of the game strengthened, but we also have things to improve. Curiously, in Lyon we had 25 shots and didn’t score a single goal and they were talking about us being a crisis,” he said.
“It was a game of two halves. In the first they were better and we weren’t great because they pressed us in certain areas and our rhythm was really slow.
“We lost the ball in bad areas and it could have cost us a goal. It was not a well-rounded game from us, I have to admit.
“We didn’t get close to their goal. But in the second half we played with more determination.
“Today we scored three goals but didn’t have many chances. Other times, it is the other way around.”


Tiger Woods-led US golfers deny Els’ dream to win Presidents Cup

Updated 15 December 2019

Tiger Woods-led US golfers deny Els’ dream to win Presidents Cup

  • Crushing loss for Ernie Els’ young Internationals who led for the first three days
  • Tiger Woods becomes the most successful Presidents Cup golfer in history

MELBOURNE: Tiger Woods’ United States produced a stunning turnaround to deny the Internationals a first Presidents Cup in 21 years Sunday, dominating the singles on a tense final day that went to the wire at Royal Melbourne.
Veteran Matt Kuchar was the hero, with his winning putt on the 17th in the penultimate match enough to ensure victory, sparking wild celebrations from playing-captain Woods, who set the tone by getting the first point on the board.
It was a crushing loss for Ernie Els’ young Internationals who led for the first three days of the biennial match play event but failed to deliver the killer blow against a more experienced and accomplished US team.
They went into the 12 singles matches with a 10-8 lead but the tide began quickly turning with Patrick Reed and Dustin Johnson among those racing to big early leads with the scoreboard swathed in US red.
When Webb Simpson beat South Korea’s An Byeong-hun, the US went 15-12 in front and needed just half a point with the Internationals leading in two of three matches still in play.
Australian Cameron Smith grabbed one more point by beating Justin Thomas, ensuring a nailbiting finale with Kuchar’s heroics on 17 ensuring there was no way back Els’ team.
“I trusted all my 11 guys. I trusted them implicitly. I told them from the very get go. They went out there and got the points we needed. We fought,” said Woods.
“Even the points we lost, we were making them earn every one of them, and this Cup wasn’t going to be given to us. We had to go earn it, and we did.”
It was a remarkable comeback. No side before had rallied to win on the last day after trailing for three days, further cementing the reputation of Woods, who went undefeated in his three matches.
US President Donald Trump, an avid golf fan, immediately paid tribute on social media.
“Congratulations to Tiger and the entire US Team on a great comeback and tremendous WIN. True Champions!” he tweeted.
The playing-captain, in his ninth Presidents Cup, set the tone from the front, going out first in the singles and winning 3 and 2 against battling Mexican Abraham Ancer.
In doing so he passed Phil Mickelson to become the most successful Presidents Cup golfer in history with a 27-win, 15-loss and 1-tied record to his countryman’s 26-16-13.
It was the United States’ 11th victory in 13 editions of the event. One was drawn with the lone International win coming in 1998, also at Royal Melbourne.
Woods nailed a birdie on the second after a stunning approach shot to take an early lead and although Ancer fought back, Woods’ putter was running hot and he was two up through 10.
The 15-time major winner was striding around Royal Melbourne on a mission and nailed a monster putt on the 16th for the 3 and 2 win.
At one stage the Americans were ahead in nine matches, and world number five Johnson ensured a second point, crushing Li Haotong 4 and 3.
It ended a difficult first Presidents Cup for a Chinese player who was overlooked for the opening two days and never looked at ease.
Patrick Reed’s caddie was banned after shoving a fan on Saturday as tensions boiled over after the controversial American’s penalty for improving his lie in the Bahamas last week.
The former Masters champion turned to his swing coach to carry his bag and it worked wonders as raced six up through seven against Taiwan’s CT Pan in a scintillating display in front of taunting fans.
Pan woke up and won three in a row but it was in vain with the American winning 4 and 2.
The US were on a roll with Tony Finau earning a valuable half point against Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, who looked to be on track for a win after going four clear through 10.
South Korea’s Im Sung-jae was a bright spot. Despite being just 21, the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year again showed his huge potential by comfortably beating US Open champion Gary Woodland.