Real Madrid motivated ahead of Frankfurt Super Cup clash

Real Madrid motivated ahead of Frankfurt Super Cup clash
General view outside the stadium on Tuesday ahead of the European Super Cup clash between Real Madrid and Eintracht Frankfurt in Helsinki. (Reuters)
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Updated 09 August 2022

Real Madrid motivated ahead of Frankfurt Super Cup clash

Real Madrid motivated ahead of Frankfurt Super Cup clash
  • The Italian coach said he saw echoes of Real’s fighting spirit in their underdog opponents Frankfurt, and was aware not to take last season’s Europa League winners lightly

HELSINKI: Real Madrid are determined not to be knocked off their perch at the summit of European football this season as they prepare to start their campaign against Eintracht Frankfurt in the UEFA Super Cup in Helsinki on Wednesday.

Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti, who is the only manager to win the Champions League four times, said his side’s 1-0 victory over Liverpool in last season’s final made him “feel like no one should ever take your place.” 

“And that’s a pretty strong motivation to keep winning,” he said in an interview with

Ancelotti returned for a second spell in charge of Real ahead of last season and led them to their 35th Spanish title.

However, it was in Europe where Real really impressed, pulling off comeback victories over Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City before beating the heavily favored Reds in the final.

“All the comebacks we made were achieved in our stadium, thanks to that boost which came from the stands. Always believe, never give up. After all, we played against very strong teams. It was inevitable that we would suffer,” he said.

The Italian coach said he saw echoes of Real’s fighting spirit in their underdog opponents Frankfurt, and was aware not to take last season’s Europa League winners lightly.

“Last year, Eintracht achieved something special because they weren’t among the favorites,” added Ancelotti, whose side recently returned from a pre-season tour to the US.

Wednesday’s game will be played at the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki, where Frankfurt will make their Super Cup debut in their first competitive meeting with Madrid since the legendary 1960 European Cup final which the Spanish giants won 7-3.

Real will be making their eighth Super Cup appearance, having lifted the trophy four times.

Ancelotti himself is unbeaten in Super Cup finals. He won two with AC Milan in 2003 and 2007, as well as with Real in 2014.

While Real will take on a side which qualified for the final on the back of winning their first European trophy in 42 years, Ancelotti said Frankfurt had the advantage going into Wednesday’s clash in Helsinki.

“We have a few more disadvantages than Eintracht, who start their season earlier, but we’ll play to win,” he said.

Although Madrid’s La Liga campaign will not start until Sunday when they take on newly-promoted Almeria, Frankfurt fans may question how much of an advantage they have in the wake of Friday’s 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Bayern Munich in their Bundesliga season opener.

Frankfurt goalkeeper Kevin Trapp said his side would not be overawed against Madrid and were relishing the experience ahead of what will be their maiden Champions League campaign this year.

They knocked out Barcelona on the way to winning last season’s Europa League, defeating Rangers on penalties in the final in Seville.

“We want to be a team who are awkward to play against, who fight and never give up. Of course we have respect, but not fear,” the former PSG goalkeeper told the Eintracht Frankfurt website in an interview published Sunday.

Trapp, who alongside former Bayern and Borussia Dortmund midfielder Mario Goetze is one of only a handful of players with Champions League experience in the Eintracht ranks, said his side deserved their place in the season-opening showpiece.

“Playing in the Super Cup means you’ve been successful, earned it and done a good job. To have the opportunity at this stage of the season to win a trophy against this club (Madrid) — it doesn’t get better.”

It’s ‘normal’ for defenders to patrol Vinicius: Xavi

It’s ‘normal’ for defenders to patrol Vinicius: Xavi
Updated 58 min 13 sec ago

It’s ‘normal’ for defenders to patrol Vinicius: Xavi

It’s ‘normal’ for defenders to patrol Vinicius: Xavi
  • Vinicius was brutally chopped down in Madrid's 2-0 win over Valencia by Gabriel Paulista
  • Xavi told a news conference: "Vinicius creates so much in attack, it's normal that the opposition defence keeps a closer eye on him”

BARCELONA, Spain: Barcelona coach Xavi believes it is normal that defenders keep close tabs on Real Madrid winger Vinicius Junior, amid controversy over rough treatment toward the Brazilian.
Vinicius was brutally chopped down in Madrid’s 2-0 win over Valencia by Gabriel Paulista, who was sent off, and no player in the division has been fouled more this season.
“Players like Ousmane (Dembele), Neymar, when he was here, or Vinicius, these players who can beat a man, opponents are a lot more aggressive to them,” Xavi told a news conference.
“They get past their marker with ease, opponents give them more attention. Vinicius creates so much in attack, it’s normal that the opposition defense keeps a closer eye on him.
“There’s a referee and a refereeing committee, they have to do their job.”
Real Madrid face Real Mallorca on Saturday and the island club’s captain Antonio Raillo said earlier this week he would not use Vinicius as an example for his son to look up to.
Raillo had previously accused Vinicius of provoking and disrespecting opponents.
Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said the forward did not need any special preparation for the game, despite the bad blood with Raillo.
“Vinicius will prepare for the game as normal and will try to make the difference as he always does,” Ancelotti told a news conference Saturday.
“He is focused on what he has to do, I don’t have to talk about anything with him.”
Ancelotti said his own grandchildren were all fans of Vinicius.
“My grandchildren are all for Vini, youngsters like this type of player, who has so much quality, who is spectacular with the ball,” added the coach.
“They all have Vinicius shirts, that’s the only one they want.”
Barcelona will be without their own flying winger Dembele for the next few weeks after he suffered a thigh injury last weekend against Girona.
Xavi said the team would miss the winger’s ability to take on defenders but other players could help in that regard.
“Maybe we have less dribbling ability, Ousmane is the best at taking players on in the squad,” said Xavi.
“We lose that quality which Ousmane has, which draws two defenders, giving us numerical superiority on the other side.
“But Raphinha can do it too, so can Ansu (Fati), Ferran Torres, even (Alejandro) Balde, Sergi Roberto, (Jules) Kounde.”
Balde missed Barcelona’s training session on Saturday with a fever but Xavi said club doctors told him that the defender would be ready to face Sevilla on Sunday in La Liga.

Street 2022 World Skateboarding Championships in Sharjah set for semifinal showdown

Street 2022 World Skateboarding Championships in Sharjah set for semifinal showdown
Updated 04 February 2023

Street 2022 World Skateboarding Championships in Sharjah set for semifinal showdown

Street 2022 World Skateboarding Championships in Sharjah set for semifinal showdown
  • Competition at Aljada Skate Park acts as a qualifier for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris
  • Australian star Chloe Covell, 12, in confident mood after quarterfinal success

SHARJAH: The quarterfinals of the Street 2022 World Skateboarding Championships at Aljada Skate Park in Sharjah on Friday saw big tricks and a dramatic day of action that set up the highly anticipated semifinals on Saturday for some of the sports finest athletes.

Among them was Chloe Covell, at 12 years old the youngest competitor in the field, who said: “I feel good after that, I got a pretty big score and it’s definitely given me more confidence leading into the finals. I think what got me the score was me doing switch tricks — standing the opposite way to do a trick — which gets you more points. I hope the semifinal will go well and I think everything will go to plan if I just do what I can do and not overthink it too much.”

The Street 2022 World Skateboarding Championships’ grand finale for both men and women at Aljada Skate Park is on Sunday, Feb. 5.

The Park 2022 World Skateboarding Championships begin that day as well, with the Sharjah hub hosting the tournament’s quarterfinals on Friday, Feb. 10, semifinals on Saturday, Feb. 11, and the final on Sunday, Feb. 12.

Both competitions act as qualifiers for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris — with all 12 Olympic medallists from the 2020 Games competing in the star-studded Sharjah line up.

A record-breaking total of more than 450 of the world’s best skateboarders are starring at the Street 2022 and Park 2022 World Championships for a prize pool of $500,000. Gold-medal winners in each discipline, in both the male and female categories, receive a $50,000 prize.

In the men’s Street event, the following skateboarders qualified for Saturday’s semifinal at Aljada Skate Park: Jagger Eaton (US); Kelvin Hoefler (Brazil); Aurelien Giraud (France); Ginwoo Onodera (Japan); Kairi Matsumoto (Japan); Ryan Decenzo (Canada); Alexander Midler (US); Sora Shirai (Japan); Joseph Garbaccio (France); Richard Tury (Slovakia); Chris Joslin (US); Angelo Caro (Peru); Gustavo Ribeiro (Portugal); Toa Sasaki (Japan); Giovanni Vianna (Brazil); Jhancarlos Gonzalez Ortiz (Colombia).

The competition in the women’s Street event was just as close, with the following skateboarders reaching the semifinals: Heat 1: Daniela Terol (Spain); Rayssa Leal (Brazil); Haylie Powell (Australia); Nonoka Nakajima (Japan); Momiji Nishiya (Japan); Aoi Uemura (Japan), Gabriela Mazetto (Brazil); Mariah Duran (US). Heat 2: Liv Lovelace (Australia); Funa Nakayama (Japan); Pamela Rosa (Brazil); Paige Heyn (US); Yumeka Oda (Japan); Chloe Covell (Australia); Rizu Akama (Japan); Roos Zwetsloot (Netherlands).

The Street 2022 and Park 2022 World Championships is co-organized by World Skate and UAE-based developer Arada.

Premier League ‘Big Six’ see Newcastle as a real threat now, says Eddie Howe

Premier League ‘Big Six’ see Newcastle as a real threat now, says Eddie Howe
Updated 04 February 2023

Premier League ‘Big Six’ see Newcastle as a real threat now, says Eddie Howe

Premier League ‘Big Six’ see Newcastle as a real threat now, says Eddie Howe
  • Magpies boss has two new signings available for visit of West Ham, but Bruno Guimaraes starts three-match suspension

NEWCASTLE: Eddie Howe believes Newcastle United are now being viewed by the Premier League “Big Six” as a clear and present danger — and the recent transfer window proves it.

The Magpies tried in vain to nab loan deals from the likes of Chelsea in the closing hours of the window, but were hit with a brick wall from the Champions League-chasing, high-spending Blues.

And Howe thinks that’s the biggest evidence yet that those in the traditional positions of power are intimidated by the presence of the ambitious, Saudi-embellished Magpies.

“That’s your words not mine, but yeah, I think you’re on the right lines,” said Howe when asked if the top six now see United as direct rivals.

“I think it is potentially difficult for us. It depends on the player and it depends on the club but I think we’re probably aware we are seen differently this season to how we were last season.

“We are viewed differently probably by some clubs now and that is something we will have to adjust to.”

Tuesday saw the winter transfer window slam to a close with Newcastle still looking for a player to replace exited Jonjo Shelvey. The midfielder spent seven years at the club but left for Nottingham Forest with his current deal set to end in the summer.

It was a departure Howe did not welcome, especially with star man Bruno Guimaraes having to sit out the next three games due to a suspension picked up in the Carabao Cup win against Southampton.

Ahead of the visit of West Ham United to Tyneside in the Premier League, Howe said: “We’re going to miss him massively, he’s a huge player and done ever so well for us.

“Whenever you lose one player, you have to readjust. There will an opportunity now for the team to regroup and find another way.

“But certainly the timing is really difficult. We’ve had a really intense period of games and now we don’t and Bruno seems to miss a long period of time away. The good thing for Bruno is he’ll be available for the final.”

On Shelvey, Howe continued: “Losing Jonjo has been a concern for us.

“We have had a lot of discussions internally. We were active in the market but we didn’t manage to get a midfielder over the line.”

“In some senses, that gives opportunities to other players,” the coach said. “We really believe in Elliot Anderson and this could be a moment in his career where we see the very best of him. A local lad who gets a chance in the team. There are others who can play in that position. Bruno’s suspension came at the worst time in the worst position possible. Sometimes, these things happen.”

While concerns about absentees remains at the forefront of Howe’s thinking, he will have two new boys available for selection against the Hammers, one of which was a deadline-day capture from the East London outfit.

Anthony Gordon, ineligible in the Carabao Cup, and Harrison Ashby, nabbed from West Ham, are both likely to take their place on the bench on Saturday.

“Both players will be available, yes,” said Howe.

“They’ve trained well. They’ve done a couple of individual training sessions around the game because they weren’t eligible to play. Trained with the group yesterday, although it was a small group, so they haven’t actually trained fully with team but both are fit and fine.”

Having been taken off in a precautionary measure on Tuesday night, Alexander Isak remains a doubt after suffering a head knock.

“Alex actually made a vital contribution in that moment. James Ward-Prowse’s free-kick, naturally we discussed those situations a lot in the build up to both games and knowing how good he is, he (Isak) blocked the free-kick and took a blow to the side of the head,” Howe said.

“He had very slight signs of concussion. We’ve followed all the protocols. Whether he’ll be available or not, we’re not sure.”

“He’s been around, and he’s looked fine,” Howe added. “I don’t think he’s got any ill-effects. I don’t think he had any ill-effects the next day. Every day he’s felt better. He’s fine, no problems.”

Zverev storms to Davis Cup win after being cleared of abuse

Zverev storms to Davis Cup win after being cleared of abuse
Updated 04 February 2023

Zverev storms to Davis Cup win after being cleared of abuse

Zverev storms to Davis Cup win after being cleared of abuse
  • ATP told Zverev there was “insufficent evidence” to substantiate allegations of abuse against former girlfriend Olya Sharypova

PARIS: Alexander Zverev beat three-time major winner Stan Wawrinka in the Davis Cup on Friday as the German star returned to the courts for the first time since being cleared of domestic abuse.
The 25-year-old Zverev swept past Wawrinka 6-4, 6-1 in Trier to bring Germany level with Switzerland after the opening day of their qualifier.
On Tuesday, Zverev was told by the ATP that there was “insufficent evidence” to substantiate allegations of abuse against former girlfriend Olya Sharypova.
Former world number two Zverev had always denied the claims, describing them as “baseless.”
On Friday, Wawrinka, who helped his country win the 2014 Davis Cup, was returning to the team competition for the first time in eight years.
Now ranked 135 in the world, he was comfortably beaten for the fifth time in five meetings by Zverev.
Marc-Andrea Huesler had earlier given Switzerland the lead with a 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 win over Oscar Otte.
The tie continues on Saturday with a doubles and two singles rubbers.
Mackenzie McDonald and Tommy Paul gave the United States a 2-0 lead in their qualifier against Uzbekistan.
McDonald, who knocked Rafael Nadal out of the Australian Open last month, eased past Sergey Fomin 6-4, 6-1 in Tashkent before Tommy Paul, a semifinalist at the season-opening Grand Slam in Melbourne, defeated Khumoyun Sultanov 6-1, 7-6 (8/6).
“It’s been amazing. It’s not something you get to do a lot throughout the year,” said Davis Cup debutant and 63rd-ranked McDonald.
Despite his lowly ranking of 480, Sultanov opened up a 4-0 lead in the second set over top-20 player Paul before the American’s greater experience paid off.
“He picked up his level a ton,” admitted Paul. “I felt like I wasn’t prepared for it.”
Of Saturday’s rubbers, he added: “A sweep would be nice — bring out the broomsticks!“
France, the 10-time champions, were 1-1 against Hungary in Tatabanya.
World number 182 Zsombor Piros stunned 45th-ranked Benjamin Bonzi 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 before Ugo Humbert levelled the qualifier by seeing off Marton Fucsovics 6-3, 6-2.
“It was my first match in the Davis Cup and I was very excited,” said 24-year-old Humbert, the world number 86.
“I tried to stay focussed on what I was doing and it went well.”
In Stockholm, Sweden opened up a 2-0 lead over Bosnia thanks to a couple of straight sets wins by brothers Mikael and Elias Ymer.
There are 12 ties taking place this weekend with the winners securing places in the group stage in September alongside defending champions Canada, 2022 runners-up Australia and wild cards Italy and Spain.
The eight best teams then go through to the Davis Cup Finals knockout stage in Malaga in November.
The qualifying matches taking place between Friday and Sunday are the first since the International Tennis Federation severed its controversial partnership with investors Kosmos less than five years after a 25-year deal was signed.

Ukraine pushes to exclude Russia from 2024 Paris Olympics

Ukraine pushes to exclude Russia from 2024 Paris Olympics
Updated 03 February 2023

Ukraine pushes to exclude Russia from 2024 Paris Olympics

Ukraine pushes to exclude Russia from 2024 Paris Olympics
  • No nation has declared it will boycott the 2024 Summer Games
  • “We cannot compromise on the admission of Russian and Belarusian athletes,” said Ukrainian Sports Minister Vadym Huttsait

KYIV: With next year’s Paris Olympics on the horizon and Russia’s invasion looking more like a prolonged conflict, Ukraine’s sports minister on Friday renewed a threat to boycott the games if Russia and Belarus are allowed to compete and said Kyiv would lobby other nations to join.
Such a move could lead to the biggest rift in the Olympic movement since the Cold War era.
No nation has declared it will boycott the 2024 Summer Games. But Ukraine won support from Poland, the Baltic nations and Denmark, who pushed back against an International Olympic Committee plan to allow delegations from Russia and ally Belarus to compete in Paris as “neutral athletes,” without flags or anthems.
“We cannot compromise on the admission of Russian and Belarusian athletes,” said Ukrainian Sports Minister Vadym Huttsait, who also heads its national Olympic committee, citing attacks on his country, the deaths of its athletes and the destruction of its sports facilities.
A meeting of his committee did not commit to a boycott but approved plans to try to persuade global sports officials in the next two months — including discussion of a possible boycott.
Huttsait added: “As a last option, but I note that this is my personal opinion, if we do not succeed, then we will have to boycott the Olympic Games.”
Paris will be the final Olympics under outgoing IOC head Thomas Bach, who is looking to his legacy after a tenure marked by disputes over Russia’s status — first over widespread doping scandals and now over the war in Ukraine.
Bach’s views were shaped when he was an Olympic gold medalist in fencing and his country, West Germany, took part in the US-led boycott of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. He has condemned that decision ever since.
Russia has cautiously welcomed the IOC’s decision to give it a path to the Olympics but demands it drop a condition that would leave out those athletes deemed to be “actively supporting the war in Ukraine.”
Russian Olympic Committee head Stanislav Pozdnyakov, who was a teammate of Ukraine’s Huttsait at the 1992 Olympics, called that aspect discriminatory. The IOC, which previously recommended excluding Russia and Belarus from world sports on safety grounds, now argues it cannot discriminate against them purely based on citizenship.
The leaders of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania urged the IOC to ban Russia and said a boycott was a possibility.
“I think that our efforts should be on convincing our other friends and allies that the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes is just wrong,” Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said. “So boycotting is the next step. I think people will understand why this is necessary.”
The IOC said in a statement that “this threat of a boycott only leads to further escalation of the situation, not only in sport, but also in the wider context. It is regretful that politicians are misusing athletes and sport as tools to achieve their political objectives.”
It added bluntly: “Why punish athletes from your country for the Russian government starting the war?”
Poland’s sports minister Kamil Bortniczuk said as many as 40 countries could jointly condemn Russian and Belarusian participation at Paris in a statement next week but that it could stop short of a boycott threat. He told state news agency PAP that the IOC was being “naive” and should reflect on its position.
Denmark wants a ban on Russian athletes “from all international sports as long as their attacks on Ukraine continue,” said Danish Culture Minister Jakob Engel-Schmidt.
“We must not waver in relation to Russia. The government’s line is clear. Russia must be banned,” he said. “This also applies to Russian athletes who participate under a neutral flag. It is completely incomprehensible that there are apparently doubts about the line in the IOC.”
Asked by The Associated Press about the boycott threats and the IOC plan, Paris 2024 organizing committee head Tony Estanguet would not comment “about political decisions.”
“My job is to make sure that all athletes who want to participate will be offered the best conditions in terms of security, to offer them the chance to live their dream,” he said in Marseille.
Ukraine boycotted some sporting events last year rather than compete against Russians.
Huttsait said a boycott would be very tough, saying it was “very important for us that our flag is at the Olympic Games; it is very important for us that our athletes are on the podium. So that we show that our Ukraine was, is, and will be.”
Marta Fedina, 21, an Olympic bronze medalist in artistic swimming, said in Kyiv she was “ready for a boycott.”
“How will I explain to our defenders if I am even present on the same sports ground with these people,” she said, referring to Russian athletes. She noted her swimming pool in Kharkiv, where she was living when Moscow invaded, was ruined by the war.
Speakers at the Ukrainian Olympic Committee’s assembly meeting raised concerns about Moscow using Paris for propaganda and noted the close ties between some athletes and the Russian military.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday if athletes from the two countries compete, “it should be absolutely clear that they are not representing the Russian or Belarusian states.” Los Angeles will host the 2028 Olympics.
If the IOC’s proposal takes effect, Paris would be the fourth straight Olympics where Russian athletes have competed without the national flag or anthem. The Russian teams at the Winter Olympics in 2018 and 2022 and the Summer Olympics in 2021 were all caught up in the fallout from a series of doping cases.
The last time multiple countries boycotted an Olympics was in 1988, when North Korea and others refused to attend the Summer Games in South Korea. The North Korean team was a no-show at the Tokyo Games in 2021, citing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. The IOC barred it from the following Winter Games in Beijing as a result, saying teams had a duty to attend every Olympics.
Although the IOC set the tone of the debate by publishing advice on finding a way to help Russia and Belarus compete, decisions must be made for the governing bodies of individual sports that organize events on the 32-sport Paris program.
Those organizations, many based in the IOC’s home of Lausanne, Switzerland, run their own qualifying and Olympic competitions and decide on eligibility criteria for athletes and teams.
The International Cycling Union signed on to the IOC’s plan ahead of its Olympic qualifying events to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as “neutrals.”
Track and field’s World Athletics and soccer’s FIFA were among most sports that excluded Russian athletes and teams within days of the start of the war. Tennis and cycling let many Russians and Belarusians continue competing as neutrals. Other governing bodies are more closely aligned with the IOC or traditionally have strong commercial and political ties to Russia.
One key meeting could be March 3 in Lausanne of the umbrella group of Summer Games sports, known as ASOIF. It is chaired by Francesco Ricci Bitti, a former IOC member when he led the International Tennis Federation, and includes World Athletics president Sebastian Coe.
ASOIF declined comment Friday, though noted this week “the importance of respecting the specificity of each federation and their particular qualification process” for Paris.