Rudiger says Ancelotti key to Real Madrid move

Rudiger says Ancelotti key to Real Madrid move
Rudiger said he made his decision in April, after a conversation with the Italian coach. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 21 June 2022

Rudiger says Ancelotti key to Real Madrid move

Rudiger says Ancelotti key to Real Madrid move

MADRID: Antonio Rudiger said on Monday Carlo Ancelotti was instrumental in his decision to join Real Madrid from Chelsea this summer.
Rudiger has moved to the Santiago Bernabeu on a free transfer after choosing not to extend his Chelsea contract. The 29-year-old defender has signed a four-year deal with the reigning Spanish and European champions.
Rudiger, speaking at his presentation ceremony at the club’s training ground in Valdebebas, said he made his decision in April, after a conversation with the Italian coach.
“The first time I got in contact, not really me, my agent, was early September. The second time, I spoke with Mr.Ancelotti, that was in April,” Rudiger said.
“That was the most important moment, to speak with Mr.Ancelotti. That was when I made my choice, that I wanted to play for this club under him.
“He said he wanted me, trusted in my abilities, that I could be very helpful to the team, and at my age, that’s enough. At the end of the day, it’s Mr.Ancelotti. You always know at Madrid that nothing is guaranteed. You have to fight for your place. I’m ready to do that.”
As well as turning down the chance to stay at Chelsea, Rudiger said there was also interest in him from Barcelona. “There was interest from Barcelona but I told my brother, it’s Real or nothing,” Rudiger said.
The German will be competing with Eder Militao and David Alaba for a spot in Madrid’s central defense next season, although Ancelotti could also switch to a back three in defense to accommodate an impressive trio of options.
After the departures of Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane last year, Militao and Alaba formed a superb partnership, becoming an essential part of Madrid’s success last term.
“Real Madrid is stacked with very, very good players, also in my position,” said Rudiger.
“But I’m looking confidently going into this. What do I bring? Competition, which is healthy for everyone. It keeps everyone going and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Rudiger became known at Chelsea for his combative style and dynamic displays in the Premier League. He pledged to be a leader in the Real Madrid dressing room.
“With me you never know what to expect off the pitch. I like to laugh, I like to dance,” said Rudiger.
“But on the pitch I’m serious. I don’t like to joke around. I hope what I can bring is my fighting spirit, leadership. Rome wasn’t built in a day. I have to come here, adapt, speak Spanish. I will do my best.”
Asked if there were any Real Madrid defenders he particularly admired, Rudiger said: “There have been a lot of top center-backs but one I liked a lot was Pepe. Apparently off the pitch a very nice person, but on the pitch, a monster. I like that,” Rudiger said.
Rudiger was on the pitch, and scored, as Chelsea led 3-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu in April, only for Real Madrid to pull off an incredible comeback to reach the Champions League semifinals.
“It was a very intense night, it was my first time at the Bernabeu,” Rudiger said. “What Madrid did last year in the Champions League, that was... I don’t know how to describe it, unbelievable.”
Madrid defeated Liverpool 1-0 in the final in Paris, to lift the club’s 14th European Cup.
“In the final, I knew I was going to be a Real Madrid player and I was rooting for them,” Rudiger added. “I lost two finals against Liverpool with my former team so I was very happy that Real beat them.”


Improved Saudis draw with US as preparations for World Cup continue

Improved Saudis draw with US as preparations for World Cup continue
Updated 8 sec ago

Improved Saudis draw with US as preparations for World Cup continue

Improved Saudis draw with US as preparations for World Cup continue
  • Concerns over lack of goal-scoring chances persist, with Herve Renard’s injury-hit team failing to find then net for a fourth game in a row

Saudi Arabia drew 0-0 with the USA in Spain on Thursday, delivering a performance that was certainly an improvement over the stalemate with Ecuador four days earlier and probably their best in any of the four friendlies since their successful World Cup qualification campaign concluded.

It is true that they failed to score for a fourth game in a row but the Green Falcons more than held their own against a team that included a number of stars who play in the big European leagues.

Coach Herve Renard had a few reasons to be quietly satisfied with the performance in Murcia, given that in addition to a number of long-term absences, the his team were also without the injured quartet of star player Salem Al-Dawsari, captain Salman Al-Faraj, marauding full-back Yasser Al-Shahrani and goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais, the hero of the 0-0 draw with Ecuador last Friday.

This gave the French boss an opportunity to take a look at some other players in his squad and while it was not the most exciting of games, he will not be too displeased with what he saw.

While the goalless draw with the South Americans four days ago was mainly down to the efforts of Al-Owais, the clean sheet on Tuesday was the result of a solid defensive performance from the whole team, who stayed compact and worked hard to deny the likes of Christian Pulisic of Chelsea clear sight of goal.

The Saudis struggled to get shots on target four days ago but this time, in an almost empty stadium, their first attempt came inside 30 seconds, forcing Arsenal goalkeeper Matt Turner to get down quickly to push away a well-struck snap shot by Sultan Al-Ghannam from outside the area.

This spurred the Americans, who lost 2-0 to Japan on Friday, into action but the Saudi defense coped with the attacks reasonably well, even if there was a threat of the high defensive line being breached.

The men in blue were in control from a possession point of view but struggled to create clear chances, and so it was Saudi Arabia who next had the best sight of goal, just before the half-hour mark, when they were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position just outside the area, only for Hattan Bahebri to fire over.

Minutes later, the Greens should have taken the lead from the best chance of the game for either side. Firas Al-Buraikan won possession on the right side and found Haitham Asiri, who was not long on the pitch after replacing Sami Al-Najei. He reached the byline and found Bahebri on the edge of the six-yard box, where the Al-Shabab forward had a chance to shoot but instead opted to pass and the Americans were able to clear the danger.

All in all, it was a solid first half, with the USA, who are preparing for their first World Cup appearance since 2014, having 50 percent more of the possession than Saudi Arabia but, in terms of quality and quantity of chances, the Asian team were more than holding their own.

Renard’s men made a bright start to the second half as they looked for chances down the left, with Saud Abdulhamid and Bahebri in particular working hard. But despite balls being whipped into the area there was nobody in the middle to get on the end of the crosses and when the attacking moves came from central areas, the final ball was not quite there.

Still, as the game reached the hour mark, Saudi Arabia were just about on top against a team growing increasingly frustrated at their inability not only to score but to create clear chances.

Then the 2002 quarter-finalists had their best opportunity. Jesus Ferreira took advantage of a defensive mix-up to shoot from just inside the area, only for Mohammed Al-Yami, who did not have many saves to make, to get down quickly and smother the danger.

With 20 minutes remaining, it was Turner’s turn to push away a well-struck shot from Asiri. The Saudis continued to attack but could not quite find a way through. There was more frustration when centre-back Abdulelah Al-Amri’s close-range header from a corner went high.

Saudi Arabia continued to make most of the running in an attacking sense but were unable to capitalize and their disappointment was complete when Nawaf Al-Abed fired over from the edge of the area in the final moments when he had options to pass.

The dry spell in front of goal has now stretched to 385 minutes and is certainly a major cause for concern. However, with the big games in Qatar against Argentina, Poland and Mexico only two months away, there were also some signs of improvement.


Qatar tests out massive bus fleet ahead of World Cup

Qatar tests out massive bus fleet ahead of World Cup
Updated 27 September 2022

Qatar tests out massive bus fleet ahead of World Cup

Qatar tests out massive bus fleet ahead of World Cup
  • Thani Al Zarraa, who is overseeing transport preparations, said some 4,000 buses will be used during the monthlong tournament
  • The bus fleet will shuttle passengers between main transport hubs and the eight stadiums

DOHA: Qatar has tested out a massive fleet of buses ahead of next month’s World Cup, when an estimated 1.2 million soccer fans will descend on the small Gulf nation, an official said Tuesday.
Thani Al Zarraa, who is overseeing transport preparations, said some 4,000 buses will be used during the monthlong tournament, which begins Nov. 20. That includes 3,000 buses acquired for the World Cup on top of a pre-existing fleet of around 1,000, he said.
Of the new buses, around 700 will be electric, he told The Associated Press. Fans can also use Qatar’s Metro rail system.
The bus fleet will shuttle passengers between main transport hubs and the eight stadiums where the matches will be held. Authorities held tests over the weekend involving some 1,800 buses without passengers.
Transport will be free for holders of the Hayya card issued by the government, which is required for entry to stadiums. An accompanying app has a feature in which fans can plan their journeys.
All visitors to Qatar, even those not planning to attend the matches, will need a Hayya card to enter the country from Nov. 1 to Jan. 23. Cardholders will also be able to enter the United Arab Emirates and Oman.
This will be the first World Cup hosted by an Arab nation.


Patience will bring Premier League points for Newcastle: Kieran Trippier

Patience will bring Premier League points for Newcastle: Kieran Trippier
Updated 27 September 2022

Patience will bring Premier League points for Newcastle: Kieran Trippier

Patience will bring Premier League points for Newcastle: Kieran Trippier
  • The Magpies have so far been frustrated in their search for an elusive second win of the top-flight campaign
  • They head to Craven Cottage to face Fulham on Saturday looking to end that run, which has seen them draw five and lose one

NEWCASTLE: Kieran Trippier believes patience is a virtue for Newcastle United when it comes to English Premier League points and progress.

The Magpies have so far been frustrated in their search for an elusive second win of the top-flight campaign, having not claimed three points since the opening-day victory over Nottingham Forest.

They head to Craven Cottage to face Fulham on Saturday looking to end that run, which has seen them draw five and lose one — in time added on at Anfield — to see them sit slap bang in the middle of the Premier League table.

And while some fans are starting to question Eddie Howe’s new possession-based methods, which are a far cry from the counter-attack systems of old, England international Trippier is in no doubt.

He said: “You see teams now coming to St. James’ and have that low block, so we’ve just got to deal with that, try to break teams down, and be more composed at certain teams. That will come of course it will, but it’s been a big change since January, so we just need to keep taking the next steps. It’s just about being patient.

“You look at when we played Manchester City, they were 3-1 down but they didn’t panic, they kept the ball, they know they’re 3-1 down and they believed they could get back into the game.

“That’s where we want to be as a club, like Man City, like Liverpool, it’s just about not panicking, keeping the ball, keeping composed, and the opportunities will come,” he added.

Trippier returns from England duty this week having played a peripheral role for Gareth Southgate’s men. Last year’s European Championships runners up have largely flattered to deceive since their summer 2021 exploits. They did so again against Italy and Germany, although recovered from being 2-0 down to draw 3-3 with the Germans at Wembley in their final pre-Qatar encounter, with Trippier an unused sub in both matches.

On his time with England, the United skipper said: “It’s always an honor of course, going back to my debut against France, I’ve always enjoyed going whether I play or not.

“Everyone knows how much I give to the team. It’s good to see the lads, see the manager and come back with the games coming thick and fast for Newcastle.”

United will come face-to-face with former striker, and in-form Premier League frontman, Aleksandar Mitrovic when they take on the Cottagers this weekend — and the Serbian very much has a point to prove against Newcastle, having struggled for form, goals, and games in his three campaigns on Tyneside.

Newcastle, however, will be looking to two forwards of their own — Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin — to kick their campaign back into life.

“You’ve seen Maxi the past couple of games he played before he got injured, he’s shown what he’s all about, so direct, so quick, he’s impossible to play against and I see it in training every day.

“Callum as well is a natural goalscorer, so they’re two massive players for us and they are a miss, but we’ve got players who can step in. We’ve got a good group and good competition,” Trippier added.

United looked a more potent frontline force with Wilson in the team, although reflecting back on the start the team has made this season, Trippier has regrets.

He said: “Mixed feelings really, if you look at the way we played against City, Liverpool and to only come out of those two games with one point is disappointing.

“We want to go toe-to-toe with these teams and that’s what we’re trying to do, the way we’re playing is different to when the takeover happened. We’re taking the right steps.”

On the disappointment of the home draw with Bournemouth, a result which dampened the wave of positivity at St. James’ Park somewhat, Trippier added: “There was no excuse, we should be full of energy but at times in football, these things just happen.

“You have to give credit to Bournemouth for the way they played but there’s no excuses from us. Second half was a bit different; we had a lot of possession and it’s about being controlled and patient with the ball and at times we weren’t, we were shooting from 45-yards out which isn’t us.

“Disappointing, it feels like two points dropped obviously. Again, we create so many chances, we just need to be clinical to take that next step.”

United look set to be without Alexander Isak and fellow striker Chris Wood in southwest London this weekend, with both players returning injured from international duty with Sweden and New Zealand, respectively.

Better news is hoped for on Bruno Guimaraes, with the Brazilian expected to again be available, so too Wilson. Saint-Maximin is said to be touch and go for a Newcastle return, having not played since the 1-1 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers last month.


Suspected German ‘fans’ attack pub customers before Wembley clash with England

Suspected German ‘fans’ attack pub customers before Wembley clash with England
Updated 27 September 2022

Suspected German ‘fans’ attack pub customers before Wembley clash with England

Suspected German ‘fans’ attack pub customers before Wembley clash with England
  • About 100 males, many wearing masks, approached the pub in Wembley
  • Punches and projectiles including traffic cones were thrown

LONDON: Scores of suspected German football fans attacked customers at a London pub ahead of England’s 3-3 Nations League draw with Germany on Monday, injuring several people, three seriously, police said.
About 100 males, many wearing masks, approached the pub in Wembley, near where the stadium where the match was held, and assaulted customers in the beer garden, police said.
“While a number of the group were wearing England hats and scarves, it is believed they were German ‘fans’,” a police statement said.
“The group entered the beer garden of the pub and began assaulting customers, most of whom were in the area to attend the England vs Germany match. Punches and projectiles including traffic cones were thrown.
“Officers responded and the group fled. The disorder lasted for around two minutes.”
The police said “a number of people” sustained head and facial injuries, with three suffering serious leg, wrist and thumb injuries. Four people were arrested.
“None of those injured are believed to be in a life-threatening condition,” the statement added.


WarGames matches to headline Survivor Series for first time in WWE history

WarGames matches to headline Survivor Series for first time in WWE history
Updated 27 September 2022

WarGames matches to headline Survivor Series for first time in WWE history

WarGames matches to headline Survivor Series for first time in WWE history
  • Rebranded ‘WWE Survivor Series WarGames’ set for Nov. 26 at TD Garden in Boston

STAMFORD: WWE has announced that this year’s Survivor Series will feature both men’s and women’s WarGames matches for the first time ever.

The Premium Live Event — branded WWE Survivor Series WarGames — is taking place on Nov. 26 at TD Garden in Boston, US.

It will mark the first time in history that WarGames matches take place in a WWE-branded event.

The men’s and women’s Survivor Series WarGames matches will feature teams of WWE Superstars stepping inside a massive steel cage surrounding two rings. The match begins with one member from each team facing off, before additional competitors are added every few minutes thereafter. Once all Superstars have entered WarGames, victory can be attained via pinfall or submission.

WarGames is a staple match with long-rooted history in the world of sports and entertainment. The concept was created by Dusty Rhodes in 1987, with the match originally part of National Wrestling Alliance events, and later, held annually by World Championship Wrestling at the Great American Bash, Wrestle War and Fall Brawl events, respectively.

Since 2017, WWE has held the annual matches at WarGames-branded events as part of their NXT brand. WWE also held the first-ever women’s version of the match in 2019.

Since its inception there have been 39 WarGames matches but none held under the WWE’s marquee November event.

The first ever WarGames match took place at The Omni in Atlanta during the 1987 Great American Bash tour, where it was known as “War Games: The Match Beyond.”

In 1998, WCW added a different twist and converted WarGames into a three-team, nine-man competition — with the same cage and entry format — with pinfalls allowed for the No. 1 Contendership to the WCW World Heavyweight Title.

WarGames proved the ideal platform to settle famous WWE feuds.

It was originally used as a specialty match for the Four Horsemen faction under the leadership of “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, and over the years has seen legendary Superstars such as Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair, Sting, Hulk Hogan, the Road Warriors, Lex Luger, Randy Savage, Bret Hart and Roddy Piper, to name a few.

One of the most memorable WarGames matches was the first, when the Road Warriors — Nikita Koloff, Dusty Rhodes, and Paul Ellering — took on the Four Horsemen — Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Lex Luger and Tully Blanchard — at the NWA Great American Bash in July 1987.

The match came at time when the Four Horsemen were running rampant in the NWA, culminating in an attack on their opponents in the previous match that resulted in Rhodes suffering a broken leg and Koloff an injured neck.

The match set the tone for future WarGames, which are not only about getting revenge and settling scores, but also about proving supremacy.