Kyle Walker in doubt for World Cup after groin surgery

Kyle Walker in doubt for World Cup after groin surgery
Manchester City’s Kyle Walker challenges for the ball with Manchester United’s Tyrell Malacia during their English Premier League match at Etihad stadium in Manchester on Sunday. (AP)
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Updated 06 October 2022

Kyle Walker in doubt for World Cup after groin surgery

Kyle Walker in doubt for World Cup after groin surgery
  • “As players we have to appreciate injuries are part and parcel of the game we love," Walker tweeted
  • City said in a statement on Thursday that the surgery was “successful”

MANCHESTER, England: England defender Kyle Walker is in doubt for this year’s World Cup after undergoing groin surgery this week.
The Manchester City player sustained the injury in the win 6-3 over Manchester United on Sunday. He was taken off the field in the 41st minute.
“As players we have to appreciate injuries are part and parcel of the game we love,” Walker wrote on Twitter above a picture of himself in a hospital bed. “My operation on Tuesday was a success and now I can concentrate on my rehab and getting back to full fitness. I will be supporting my team mates every day in any way I can.”
City said in a statement on Thursday that the surgery was “successful.”
The 32-year-old Walker had been a certainty for the England squad but coach Gareth Southgate now faces an anxious wait to see if the defender can recover in time to play in Qatar.
After the 5-0 Champions League win over Copenhagen on Wednesday, City manager Pep Guardiola said Walker faced a prolonged period out of action.
“It’s something abdominal and he will be a while out. I cannot say anything else,” Guardiola said. “Kyle will be out for a bit. We have to speak to the doctors. Hopefully, he can get (back for the World Cup) like Kalvin (Phillips).
“I know how important the World Cup is for the players but honestly I don’t know right now.”
Walker was a key figure in England’s run to the semifinals of the 2018 World Cup and the final of last year’s European Championship.
Southgate has plenty of options at the back in Reece James, Kieran Trippier and Trent Alexander-Arnold, but the loss of Walker would be a major blow to his World Cup preparations.


Yankees agree to record $360m MLB deal with Judge: reports

Yankees agree to record $360m MLB deal with Judge: reports
Updated 08 December 2022

Yankees agree to record $360m MLB deal with Judge: reports

Yankees agree to record $360m MLB deal with Judge: reports
  • Judge’s contract is the richest in MLB history for any non-pitcher

NEW YORK: Superstar slugger Aaron Judge has agreed to a Major League Baseball record nine-year deal worth $360 million to return to the New York Yankees, according to multiple reports on Wednesday.
The 30-year-old US free agent outfielder, who smashed an American League record 62 home runs last season, had rejected a seven-year Yankees offer worth $213.5 million before the 2022 campaign.
His new deal, according to ESPN and MLB’s website plus multiple New York media outlets, means Judge made $150 million by betting on himself in the 2022 campaign, when he led MLB in homers, runs scored with 133 and runs batted in with 131.
Judge, who batted .311, was named the 2022 American League Most Valuable Player.
At an average of $40 million per season, Judge’s contract is the richest in MLB history for any non-pitcher, $4 million more per season than Mike Trout’s 12-year deal worth $426.5 million.
The only MLB players with richer per-year deals are pitchers Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander.
The National League’s San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres were also pitching offers at Judge, according to reports.
In the 2022 season, Judge chased the AL and Yankees one-season homer record of 61 set by Roger Maris in 1961. The late-season drama of his quest extended to October 4, when he smashed his 62nd homer against the Texas Rangers.
Judge, the 2017 AL Rookie of the Year, sparked the Yankees to 99 wins and their sixth consecutive playoff appearance since his arrival. New York was swept by eventual World Series champion Houston in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series.


Dutch, Argentines meet again with World Cup history in the air

Dutch, Argentines meet again with World Cup history in the air
Updated 08 December 2022

Dutch, Argentines meet again with World Cup history in the air

Dutch, Argentines meet again with World Cup history in the air
  • Argentina have the pride that comes from being two-times world champions
  • Netherlands carry the baggage of being three-times beaten finalists

DOHA: Merely a glance at their iconic orange or blue and white striped shirts is enough to evoke memories of World Cups past and more history will surely be written on Friday when the Netherlands face Argentina in their quarterfinal.

Argentina have the pride that comes from being two-times world champions while the Netherlands carry the baggage of being three-times beaten finalists.

The game is far from being a nostalgia-fest, however, pitting one of the greatest forward of all time against one of the finest defenders of the modern era, with Lionel Messi trying to unpick a defense marshalled by Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk.

The game also pits the youngest manager in the tournament against the oldest.

Argentina’s 44-year-old coach Lionel Scaloni, in his first major tournament, will have to out-think the wily 71-year-old Louis van Gaal, whose resume includes league titles with Barcelona and Bayern Munich as well as a Champions League victory with Ajax.

The South Americans came into the tournament, as always, with high hopes in their homeland of a victory to match those celebrated in 1978 and 1986, while the Dutch had more tempered expectations given their failure to qualify four years ago.

It has been smooth progress in Qatar for the Dutch though, who topped their group and then beat the US in the last 16 with some comfort and style, looking solid at the back and — despite critics labelling them dull — — increasingly effective in their attacking play.

With Memphis Depay’s fitness gradually improving and Cody Gakpo having enjoyed a good tournament, the Dutch have a punch to their attack that many feared would be missing.

Argentina began the tournament with a shock loss to Saudi Arabia, one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history, but recovered to finish first in the group. Messi then turned on the style as they overcame Australia to book their place in the last eight.

Van Gaal unsurprisingly sees Messi’s creativity as a serious threat but he raised some eyebrows when he also hinted at the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner’s lack of defensive work-rate.

“Messi is the most dangerous creative player, he is able to create a lot and to score goals himself. But when they lose the ball he doesn’t participate much, this gives us chances,” he said.

Surprisingly, given their pedigree, Argentina have never beaten the Netherlands inside 90 minutes in their nine meetings in World Cup and friendly encounters.

But it is their victory on penalties in Sao Paulo in the semifinal in 2014 that lingers in the mind for Van Gaal, who was in charge of the Netherlands at the time.

Van Gaal noted that while Messi was neutralized by the Netherlands in that game it counted for little given that the Argentines advanced after a shootout to end the Dutch dream of finally celebrating a World Cup title.

A fonder memory for Dutch fans is of the 1998 World Cup where Dennis Bergkamp secured a place in the last eight with a wonderful last-minute finish in a 2-1 victory.

Bergkamp is one of many superb talents that the Netherlands has produced since they made the world take notice of them in the 1970s with a team inspired by the brilliant Johan Cruyff.

Widely considered to be one of the best teams never to win the World Cup, the Dutch finished runners-up in 1974 and 1978 — in the latter final losing 3-1 to hosts Argentina.

Top technical skills and clever tactics have been part of the Dutch game ever since but World Cup success has evaded them, with only the 1988 European Championship title offering some consolation.

There is no player of the level of Bergkamp, Cruyff or Marco van Basten in this current version of the team in orange, with perhaps only the towering center-half Van Dijk meriting comparison in terms of class.

But the Argentines, who know their football history and their struggles with the Netherlands, expect to face a well-drilled team which so far in this tournament has not looked in much trouble.

“It’s not as brilliant as previous Dutch teams, but they are very clear on what they do,” said Scaloni. “This is going to be a great match between two historic teams.”


Miedema fires Arsenal closer to Women's Champions League last eight

Miedema fires Arsenal closer to Women's Champions League last eight
Updated 08 December 2022

Miedema fires Arsenal closer to Women's Champions League last eight

Miedema fires Arsenal closer to Women's Champions League last eight
  • Miedema found the net after 16 minutes as the London side opened a three-point lead over defending champions Lyon

PARIS: Dutch international Vivianne Miedema scored the only goal as Arsenal defeated Juventus 1-0 on Wednesday to move to the brink of the Women’s Champions League quarter-finals.

Miedema found the net after 16 minutes from a Stina Blackstenius cross as the London side opened a three-point lead over defending champions Lyon.

They also have a five-point advantage on Juventus with just two group games left later this month.

Earlier, Lyon romped past Zurich 4-0 in their Group C clash with striker Melvine Malard scoring twice.

American international Lindsey Horan put Lyon 1-0 up on 14 minutes before Malard made it 2-0 with a towering header on the six-yard line after 65 minutes.

Malard nodded home again with 10 minutes remaining before Delphine Cascarino’s long range shot deep into injury-time made it 4-0.

“We’re back in it,” said Lyon coach Sonia Bompastor. “Now we have to win our last two games... our destiny is in our hands.”

In Group D, Bayern Munich defeated Barcelona for the first time in four attempts as a 3-1 win took them level on nine points with the Spanish side at the top of the table.

Klara Buehl, on her 22nd birthday, and Lina Magull put the German side 2-0 up inside the opening 10 minutes in front of a crowd of 24,000 at the Allianz Arena.

Lea Schueller added a third on the hour mark before Brazilian forward Geyse hit a consolation for the Spanish vistors five minutes later.

Benfica are third with six points after coming from behind to defeat Swedish outfit Rosengard 3-1.

The home side took an early lead through Olivia Schough after 30 minutes.

But Benfica’s Canadian striker Cloe Lacasse scored twice in three minutes just before halftime with Nycole Raysla making it 3-1 shortly after the restart.


Vinícius Júnior thanks Ancelotti for success at World Cup

Vinícius Júnior thanks Ancelotti for success at World Cup
Updated 07 December 2022

Vinícius Júnior thanks Ancelotti for success at World Cup

Vinícius Júnior thanks Ancelotti for success at World Cup
  • Vinícius Júnior arrived in Qatar without knowing if he was going to get a chance to start for Brazil
  • He said Ancelotti was one of the people who gave him guidance ahead of soccer’s biggest tournament

DOHA: Brazil forward Vinícius Júnior praised Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti for his success at the World Cup.
Vinícius Júnior arrived in Qatar without knowing if he was going to get a chance to start for Brazil, but heading into Friday’s quarterfinal match against Croatia, no one questions his spot in the lineup or his importance for the team.
He said Ancelotti was one of the people who gave him guidance ahead of soccer’s biggest tournament.
“I talked with Ancelotti and he gave me a lot of advice to help me become a starter with Brazil. He gave me a lot of confidence,” the 22-year-old Vinícius Júnior said Wednesday. “He was always was tough with me when he needed to be. He is like a father to me.”
Vinícius Júnior was often questioned at Madrid while Zinedine Zidane was the coach, but quickly established himself as a starter with Ancelotti in command. The Brazil forward said the Italian coach is always sending him messages.
“He is good not only with the technical aspects of the game, but also with how he deals with his players,” Vinícius Júnior said. “I have been improving a lot and Ancelotti has helped me with that. He and (Brazil coach) Tite are very similar and they talk to each other a lot.”
Vinícius Júnior, who has a goal and two assists in the three World Cup games, said he also learned from Madrid midfielder Luka Modric, who will be one of his opponents on Friday at Education City Stadium.
Vinícius Júnior said the pass he gave for Lucas Paquetá’s goal in the round of 16 against South Korea, using the outside of his foot, was something he learned from Modric at Madrid.
“He is always teaching me things, on and off the field,” Vinícius Júnior said. “He helps me every day, making sure I’m always improving. He is a reference to me, playing at a high level at 37 years old, that is something rare. I’m happy that I’ll be playing against him, and let the best team win.”
Within Brazil’s national team, Vinícius Júnior said he also gets advice from Neymar.
“He told me how the World Cup is different than anything else,” Vinícius Júnior said. “He told me that, and I always remember it. And when the national anthem played, I realized what it all meant.”
Vinícius Júnior was among the Brazilian players criticized for their dance celebrations at the World Cup. He had already been targeted because of that while with Madrid. But he promised even more dancing if Brazil keeps succeeding in Qatar.
“The goal is the most important moment in soccer, not only for those who score them but for the entire country,” he said. “We still have many celebrations left, and hopefully we can keep scoring and dancing like this until the final.”


Hansi Flick staying as Germany coach despite World Cup flop

Hansi Flick staying as Germany coach despite World Cup flop
Updated 07 December 2022

Hansi Flick staying as Germany coach despite World Cup flop

Hansi Flick staying as Germany coach despite World Cup flop
  • Flick was under pressure going into Wednesday’s meeting with Neuendorf and federation vice president Hans-Joachim Watzke
  • “We as a team can achieve much more than we showed in Qatar,” Flick said in the statement

BERLIN: The German soccer federation maintained its trust in Hansi Flick as national team coach on Wednesday despite the disappointing World Cup performance.
Federation president Bernd Neuendorf said the body has “full confidence” in Flick to lead the team through the 2024 European Championship, which Germany is scheduled to host and which Neuendorf described as a “great opportunity” for the future of soccer in the country.
Flick was under pressure going into Wednesday’s meeting with Neuendorf and federation vice president Hans-Joachim Watzke following Germany’s early World Cup exit, their third straight disappointing performance at a major tournament.
Flick left the meeting without a word, but was quoted in a statement from the federation.
“We as a team can achieve much more than we showed in Qatar,” Flick said in the statement. “We missed a big opportunity there. We’ll learn our lessons from it.”
Flick said he was optimistic about Euro 2024 and that he has confidence in the path Neuendorf and Watzke agreed to.
“We want all of Germany to rally behind the national team again at the 2024 European Championship at home,” said Flick, who faced criticism for his team selection and tactics against group rivals Japan, Spain and Costa Rica in Qatar.
Mistakes in defense, where Flick was unable to settle on his preferred back four, and an inability to put away chances cost Germany a place in the knockout round.
Germany’s record under Flick was also poor before the tournament. The former Bayern Munich coach took over from Joachim Löw last year after Germany’s second-round exit from the European Championship and has a contract through Euro 2024.
The federation still needs a replacement for Oliver Bierhoff, who ended an 18-year stint Monday when he agreed to resign as managing director of Germany’s national soccer teams and academy.
Bierhoff is the only casualty so far from Germany’s group-stage exit from the World Cup in Qatar, the team’s second straight embarrassing failure in soccer’s biggest tournament. Germany also was eliminated from the same stage at the 2018 World Cup as defending champion.
Hertha Berlin general manager Fredi Bobic is a reported candidate to take over from Bierhoff, though he said Wednesday he was “very comfortable at Hertha.” Bobic, who has a contract through 2024 with the Berlin club, did not rule himself out, however.
Flick appeared to criticize the federation for Bierhoff’s exit on Tuesday, when he said both he and his coaching staff “are having a hard time imagining how the gap left by Oliver’s departure can be closed.”
The German soccer league was to meet separately later Wednesday when the future of chief executive Donata Hopfen was to be discussed.
Confirmation of Hopfen’s departure after less than a year in charge was expected amid simmering issues of discontent among Bundesliga clubs and teams from the second division.
Hopfen took over from Christian Seifert in January as the first female chief executive of Germany’s top two soccer divisions but has struggled to impose her vision or resolve long-standing questions on issues such as the league’s 50+1 rule limiting the role of outside investors, marketing at home and abroad, and the sale of media rights.
Hopfen’s contract runs through 2024. Asked in October how much support she was getting from league members, she told Kicker magazine, “there’s always room for more.”