Liverpool seek new ‘heroes’ without concussed Salah against Barcelona

Liverpool's players take part in a team training session at Melwood in Liverpool, England on May 6, 2019, on the eve of their UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg football match against Barcelona. (AFP / Lindsey Parnaby)
Updated 07 May 2019
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Liverpool seek new ‘heroes’ without concussed Salah against Barcelona

  • Salah was injured during Liverpool’s tense 3-2 win at Newcastle on Saturday
  • Roberto Firmino will also be absent against the Spanish champions

LIVERPOOL: Liverpool must turn to unlikely heroes to overturn a 3-0 Champions League semifinal, first leg deficit against Barcelona on Tuesday according to defender Trent Alexander-Arnold after top scorer Mohamed Salah was ruled out with concussion.
Roberto Firmino will also be absent against the Spanish champions leaving Jurgen Klopp without two of his most potent weapons for an already massive challenge.
“Obviously we’ve got two of our main goalscorers out, but it also presents an opportunity for some of the other lads to come in, make a name for themselves and make themselves heroes,” said Alexander-Arnold.
“If we do overturn the deficit tomorrow then whoever scores, their name will always be remembered because I am sure it will be one of those really special nights.”
Salah was stretchered off during Liverpool’s tense 3-2 win at Newcastle on Saturday that kept alive their chances of a first Premier League title in 29 years after colliding with Magpies’ goalkeeper Martin Dubravka for a high ball.
“It’s a concussion so that means he would not even be allowed to play,” said Klopp at his pre-match press conference on Monday.
“He feels OK but it is not good enough from a medical point of view that is all. He’s desperate (to play) but we cannot do it.”
Klopp was realistic at his side’s chances of progressing to a second consecutive Champions League final, but refused to give up hope with Liverpool’s history of European comebacks.
“Together with our supporters it was a long season and there is at least a little chance to make it even longer,” added Klopp.
“Two of the world’s best strikers are not available tomorrow night and we have to score four goals against Barcelona to go through after 90 minutes.
“It doesn’t make life easier, but as long as we have 11 players on the pitch, we will try it.”
Luis Suarez scored the opening goal against his former club in last week’s first leg at the Camp Nou, but ahead of his return to Anfield, the Uruguayan warned his current teammates of the lift playing on home soil will give Liverpool.
“To play at Anfield is like playing with an extra man for what the fans transmit to the Liverpool players,” said Suarez.
And Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde believes attack will be the best form of defense as if the Catalans get an away goal, Liverpool will need to score five.
“What we have to do is score,” said Valverde.
Suarez will be joined by Lionel Messi and Philippe Coutinho on his return to Anfield after a £142 million move to Barca from Liverpool last year.
But Ousmane Dembele is absent for the visitors due to a hamstring injury and Valverde believes the Frenchman’s absence will be felt just as much as Salah and Firmino.
“We don’t want any player to be injured. It would have been extraordinary to see them all on the field. They are all important,” he added.
“Dembele’s absence is a problem. Against a team that concedes space (in behind) it is always important to have player like Ousmane.”


Iran suspended from world judo over Israel boycott policy

Updated 10 min 27 sec ago

Iran suspended from world judo over Israel boycott policy

  • Iran’s judo federation is accused of discriminating against Israeli athletes
  • Mollaei has said he was repeatedly ordered by Iranian officials to lose matches or withdraw from competitions

LAUSANNE, Switzerland: Iran has been suspended from international judo competitions because it boycotts bouts with Israeli athletes.
Less than a month after world champion Saeid Mollaei walked off the Iranian team in protest at the boycott policy, the International Judo Federation said Wednesday that Iran is suspended ahead of a full hearing.
Iran’s judo federation is accused of discriminating against Israeli athletes and breaking rules over manipulating competition results.
“The IJF Executive Committee considered that such a conduct is intolerable,” the federation said.
Mollaei has said he was repeatedly ordered by Iranian officials to lose matches or withdraw from competitions, including last month’s world championships, so as not to face Israelis. He is currently in hiding in Germany.
Iran does not recognize Israel as a country, and Iranian sports teams have for several decades had a policy of not competing against Israelis.
It’s not yet clear if the IJF will seek to stop Iran competing in the 2020 Olympic judo events. Meanwhile, the IJF is exploring ways to allow Mollaei to compete on the International Olympic Committee’s team of refugees.
The IOC has signaled a harder line on boycotts in recent years.
In June, IOC president Thomas Bach criticized governments who “clearly abuse sport for their political purposes,” noting a case in May of a Tunisian court blocking four Israelis from competing at the taekwondo junior world championships.