Bernardo Silva: Manchester City have nothing to prove

‘Why should we be concerned’ – Solskaer on Man United’s away form

Questions were asked of Manchester City’s title credentials after losing at Norwich City but Bernardo Silva is ignoring his side’s critics.

Bernardo Silva insisted Manchester City have nothing to prove to their critics and has backed his side to cope with their defensive crisis.

City has won back-to-back Premier League titles and enjoyed a clean sweep of domestic honors in a memorable campaign last time out.

But Pep Guardiola’s men find themselves five points behind Liverpool with five matches of the 2019-20 league campaign played following last weekend’s shock 3-2 error-ridden loss at Norwich City.

The reigning English champions returned to winning ways on Wednesday with a 3-0 victory at Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League and Silva is taking little notice of the criticism he and his team-mates have faced in recent days.

 

“People can criticize and say what they want,” he told reporters after the victory in Kharkiv. “We don’t need to prove anything to anyone, after what we’ve done the last two seasons. We’re relaxed.

 

“Of course we’re not happy, because we want to do better and we know losing against Norwich isn’t ideal, but all teams have good and bad moments.

 

“It’s impossible to stay three seasons, only with good moments.

 

“Sometimes you will have bad moments and it’s the way you react to those bad moments that shows and proved how good a team you are and that’s what we’ll try to do.

 

“Every time we’ve had bad moments in the past, we’ve always reacted well, and that’s what we’ll try to do again.”

 

Nicolas Otamendi was City’s only established centre-back for their trip to Shakhtar after John Stones joined Aymeric Laporte in the treatment room.

Fernandinho filled in alongside Otamendi and looked comfortable as City kept a clean sheet, giving Silva confidence that his side can deal with the double blow.

“We saw last season that Fernandinho’s able to play in that position,” the Portuguese said. “He’s very intelligent and when you understand the game and you’re intelligent like he is, it’s easy.

 

“Obviously it’s not the ideal situation, because we don’t have a lot of centre-backs right now, but it’s what we have and we have no complaints.”

He added: “In the Premier League we’re five points behind. We want to do better, we want to try to close the gap a little bit, but in the Champions League it was a great way to start the group stage.

“We want to keep going this way, keep improving and try to win games.”

 

Manchester City return to Premier League action with a home match against Watford on Saturday.

BREAKING NEWS: Callum Hudson-Odoi signs new five-year Chelsea contract

‘Why should we be concerned’ – Solskaer on Man United’s away form

Chelsea have agreed a long-term contract extension with winger Callum Hudson-Odoi.

Callum Hudson-Odoi has signed a new five-year contract at Chelsea, the club has confirmed.

The England international joins fellow academy products Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mason Mount in committing to long-term deals since Frank Lampard’s appointment as head coach.

Securing the teenager’s signature is significant for Chelsea, who rejected several bids from Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich earlier this year.

The German giants made their interest known in January, reportedly leading Hudson-Odoi to submit a transfer request, and are said to have returned with a reduced £22.5million (€25.4m) offer as the winger entered the final 12 months of his previous deal.

Chelsea resisted Bayern’s interest and have now tied the talented homegrown prospect to an agreement reportedly worth upwards of £100,000 per week.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” Hudson-Odoi told Chelsea’s official website. “It’s been a long wait but it’s done now and I’m really happy about that. I’ve been a Chelsea player since I was eight and this is the right club for me to be at.

“I want to lift as many trophies as possible, win as many games as possible and contribute to as many goals as I can as well. As a team, we just want to work hard to achieve the best results we can.

“I’m delighted everything has been agreed and now I’m just looking forward to properly getting back.”

 

Hudson-Odoi had to be patient before forcing his way into former boss Maurizio Sarri’s starting XI in April, only for a ruptured Achilles to end his season in the same month.

The 18-year-old earned made his return in an Under-23 game against Brighton and Hove Albion last week and is nearing a return to first-team action.

England manager Gareth Southgate handed Hudson-Odoi his first senior international cap against Czech Republic in March.

“I have seen Callum come through and he’s a fantastic talent,” Lampard said. “He is going to be central for us on the pitch and that is the opportunity in front of him now.

“There are things as a young player that he will want to improve but he can be central to this team and for England. I want to work with him, I want to drive him forward and I want to improve him as a player.

“Callum can show, right here at Chelsea, the club he came through the academy at, that he is going to be a world-class player because I truly believe that.”

It has been reported the Blues are also looking to tie down Fikayo Tomori and Tammy Abraham to extended new deals.

Guangzhou Open: Two-time champion Zhang beaten in Guangzhou

Unseeded Camila Giorgi drops just 3 games to thrash Sloane Stephens in Osaka

Zhang Shuai, a two-time WTA Guangzhou Open champion, was upset on Thursday, but Sofia Kenin recovered to advance and Sam Stosur also won.

The two-time champion, whose only WTA Tour singles titles have come at this event, came up short as Golubic ran out a 6-3 3-6 6-4 winner.

Sofia Kenin, another seed, staged a remarkable first-set turnaround to ensure she remained in the competition.

The American trailed 5-2 in the opener but rallied to defeat Jasmine Paolini 7-5 6-1.

 

Former US Open winner Sam Stosur came through 6-2 7-6 (7-1) against Nina Stojanovic, while Anna Blinkova defeated Marie Bouzkova, who had ousted Elina Svitolina.

At the Korea Open, Priscilla Hon stunned Australian compatriot and 2018 runner-up Ajla Tomljanovic in a 6-3 5-7 6-1 win.

The 21-year-old qualifier was playing Tomljanovic for the first time.

Karolina Muchova eased past Timea Babos, as Paula Badosa saw off Patricia Maria Tig.

Mystics’ Elena Delle Donne earns second WNBA MVP award

Shaquille O’Neal goes wild in mosh pit at Tomorrowland

Delle Donne previously won MVP honors in 2015 as a member of the Chicago Sky.

“It’s a huge thing,” Delle Donne said (per ESPN). “It’s something that, when my career is over, maybe I’ll look back on it and brag to my kids or grandkids.”

Delle Donne received 41 of 43 first-place votes with a total of 420 points from a national panel of sportswriters and broadcasters, according to the WNBA’s press release. Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner was second with 167 points, while Connecticut Sun forward-center Jonquel Jones was third with 145.

Players were given 10 points for a first-place vote, seven for second, five for third, three for fourth and one for a fifth-place vote.

“She hasn’t been that far off from being an MVP her other years, either,” Mystics coach Mike Thibault said. “When you win it once and then get it again ⁠— and you’re still getting better ⁠— you have to be considered one of the best of all time.”

With the 2019 honor, Delle Donne becomes the first player in WNBA history to earn the award with two different teams. She previously won the MVP in 2015 as a member of the Chicago Sky. Delle Donne joins five others who have been named MVP more than once.

Delle Donne, who turned 30 earlier this month, ranked second in the league in scoring, averaging 19.5 points per game. She finished the regular season fifth in rebounding with 8.3 and 11th in blocked shots with 1.29 in 31 games this season. The seven-year veteran helped the Mystics finish with a 26-8 regular-season record and earn the top seed in the WNBA playoffs.

“We did things in the weight room that she took immediately to the court,” Thibault said. “The things you see from her are a product of a great player who’s been willing to work hard to improve.”

She was traded to the Mystics before the 2017 season and led Washington to the WNBA Finals last year, though it lost to Seattle.

Delle Donne will be presented with the MVP award before Game 2 of the semifinals when the Mystics host the Las Vegas Aces on Thursday.

Struggling Haas retain Grosjean alongside Magnussen for 2020

Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen will drive for Haas again in the 2020 Formula One season, the team have confirmed.

Grosjean featured in the outfit’s debut campaign in 2016, alongside Esteban Gutierrez, before Magnussen joined him the following year.

Haas have now announced an unchanged line-up for a fourth consecutive season despite a tough 2019.

Grosjean has retired six times in 14 races and lies 17th in the drivers’ championship, with Magnussen only one place better off.

Team boss Gunther Steiner had earlier acknowledged Haas were considering alternative options to Grosjean, with Nico Hulkenberg available as Esteban Ocon takes his Renault seat.

 

“We’ve had our challenges this season, but we’ll use both the experience of last year and this year to move forward into 2020,” Grosjean said as his position was secured.

Magnussen added: “I’ve had the comfort of knowing I’d be continuing with the team in 2020 and that’s very much been a positive throughout what’s often been a difficult 2019 season.

“Knowing we can work to make things better, improve our understanding of our situation, and get back to the level of competitiveness we showed last season – these are the things that excite me about 2020.”

Rumour Has It: Pogba contract a priority for Man United

‘Why should we be concerned’ – Solskaer on Man United’s away form

We round up the front and back pages across Europe, as Thursday sees the transfer rumour mill crank into gear once again.

Pogba, 26, was heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid during the close season, despite being contracted at United until 2021, with the club also reportedly holding the option for a further 12 months.

The LaLiga giants are reportedly still interested in the France midfielder, but United have plans of their own.

TOP STORY – POGBA CONTRACT A PRIORITY FOR MAN UNITED

Manchester United are looking to sign Pogba on a long-term deal, according to the Evening Standard.

New contracts for Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Mason Greenwood are priorities for the Premier League giants, the report says.

It comes after United re-signed goalkeeper David de Gea and defender Victor Lindelof.

 

ROUND-UP

– Amid tension with fellow goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Manuel Neuer is considering his Germany future. Bild reports Neuer, 33, could end his international career after Euro 2020.

– Barcelona teenager Ansu Fati is set to get a Spanish passport next Friday, according to AS. Portugal have reportedly made advances for the talented 16-year-old forward, but Fati looks set to be ready to feature for Spain at the Under-17 World Cup beginning in October.

– Luca Pellegrini may be on loan at Cagliari, but his future appears to be at Juventus. The Serie A champions are keen to keep the 20-year-old defender for the long-term, according to Calciomercato.

 

– Chelsea have received some good news on the injury front. The Sun and the Mirror report midfielder Mason Mount could face Liverpool on Sunday despite suffering an ankle sprain in Tuesday’s Champions League loss to Valencia.

– Bayer Leverkusen decided to reward midfielder Kai Havertz in the close season. According to Bild, the Bundesliga club handed the five-time Germany international a wage increase from €2m to more than €5m per season.

– Paul Mitchell has opted against returning to the Premier League. Sky Sports News reports Mitchell will leave his role as head of recruitment and development at RB Leipzig at the end of the month to become technical director of Red Bull’s global soccer division. The report says as many as four Premier League clubs were after the former Tottenham and Southampton recruitment chief.

Carmelo Anthony rumors: Several Nets players still want team to sign forward

Shaquille O’Neal goes wild in mosh pit at Tomorrowland

Carmelo Anthony remains a free agent but he continues to be linked to at least one team.

Multiple Nets players “remain fully in favor of the club signing” the 35-year-old forward, according to a report from SNY, which cites unidentified league sources.

Brooklyn rebuilt its roster this summer as it landed both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, who is expected to miss most, if not all, of next season after rupturing his Achilles in the 2018-19 NBA Finals. The Athletic reported last month the two stars were “pushing” the front office to bring in Anthony.

Anthony was a star with the Knicks and Nuggets but has not played in the NBA since he parted ways with the Rockets in mid-November. He averaged 13.4 points and 5.4 rebounds in his 10 games with the Rockets before they eventually traded him to the Bulls in January. Chicago immediately released him, and he has been out of the league since.

“At this point, I just want to be happy,” Anthony said in January. “I think I’ve put myself in a good, peaceful mind state right now, (being) able to focus in on what I need to focus in on. And whatever’s going to make me happy, then we’re going to make it happen.”

Anthony has been named an All-Star 10 times during his 16-year career.

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Isaiah Thomas injury update: Wizards guard has thumb surgery, out 6-8 weeks

Shaquille O’Neal goes wild in mosh pit at Tomorrowland

Wizards guard Isaiah Thomas underwent successful surgery Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) to repair a ruptured ligament in his left thumb, the team announced.

He is expected to miss 6-8 weeks because of the injury that happened Monday during routine workouts.

“This was an unfortunate setback for Isaiah, but with his resolve and the top care he will receive from our medical team, we expect him to make a full recovery,” Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard said in a statement. “In the meantime, he will continue to mentor our young guards and have a positive impact on the team as we start training camp.”

The Wizards signed Thomas as a free agent on July 6. He is penciled in as the No. 2 point guard behind Ish Smith. The Wizards enter camp with Smith, Bradley Beal, Thomas and a host of others, including Justin Robinson, Isaac Bonga, Jordan McRae and Jemerrio Jones, listed at guard.

John Wall, though making progress from a ruptured Achilles, still could miss all of this season.

The thumb injury is the latest setback for Thomas, who has been bothered by hip issues for the past several seasons.

Since he played in 82 games in an All-Star season with the Celtics in 2015-16, he has bounced from Boston to the Cavaliers, Lakers and last season the Nuggets.

Thomas, 30, split time between Cleveland and Los Angeles in 2017-18 season, seeing limited action because of a right hip impingement, yet he still averaged 15.2 points and 4.8 assists in 32 games. He was signed as a free agent by Denver before the 2018-19 season and appeared in 12 games, averaging 8.1 points and 1.9 assists.

The timeline for Thomas’ return would push him at least a week into the regular season, if not into November.

The Wizards open camp in less than two weeks, and their regular season tips off Oct. 23.

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Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball full participants in Pelicans’ voluntary offseason work, report says

Shaquille O’Neal goes wild in mosh pit at Tomorrowland

Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram and guard Lonzo Ball are coming off season-ending injuries they suffered while playing for the Lakers, but both are now healthy enough to take part in their team’s voluntary workouts without restrictions, ESPN reported, citing unidentified sources.

The step is a positive one for Ingram and Ball as the Pelicans’ training camp opens Oct. 1.

 

Ball dealt with an ankle injury most of last season that limited him to just 47 games. He suffered an ankle injury Jan. 19 and was shut down in March. Ingram was discovered to have a blood clot in his right arm, and the Lakers also ended his season in the first week of March.

Coming off a 37-45 record with Los Angeles, both players (along with Josh Hart) were sent to the Pelicans as part of the blockbuster Anthony Davis trade.

“Obviously, injuries kind of messed up things a little bit,” Ball said in July of his brief tenure with the Lakers (via ESPN). “But you take the bumps with the bruises and keep moving forward. Only been in the league for two years and looking forward to this third year in New Orleans, get a fresh start and show people what I can do.”

Ingram and Ball join No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson as New Orleans hopes to build around its young star and be a contender in the Western Conference. They will complement veterans JJ Redick, Jrue Holiday and Derrick Favors.

The Pelicans will start the regular season against the champion Raptors on Oct. 22.

 

 

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Stephen Curry: Playing in 2020 Tokyo Olympics ‘is the plan, for sure’

Dennis Rodman on matchmaking Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un

The outlook for the 2020 Summer Olympics is already looking brighter than the 2019 FIBA World Cup for the United States.

Warriors star Stephen Curry has committed to playing for Team USA in the Tokyo Games next year.

“That is the plan, for sure,” Curry said in an interview with ESPN. “You know, obviously knock on wood, you don’t want any injuries or things like that to interfere.”

Curry played for Team USA in the 2010 and 2014 FIBA World Cup tournaments, winning the title both times, but this would be his first Olympics appearance.

“Definitely wanna go,” Curry said. “I’ve never been on the Olympic team. I’ve been on two World Cup championship gold-medal teams. But the Olympics is the experience that I want. And next year will hopefully be it.”

While Curry is the first NBA star to commit to the squad, Warriors teammate Draymond Green told CNBC last week that he hopes to play in the Olympics in 2020. Meanwhile, Lakers star LeBron James told the Athletic in April that playing for Team USA in 2020 could happen.

For now, Curry is all in under Golden State coach Steve Kerr, who will serve as an assistant coach under head coach Gregg Popovich.

“We’re still the best,” Curry said of the U.S. “If we get the guys that are supposed to be there, in terms of, you know, representing us in the Olympic stage and the commitment’s been there, and I think it’ll be there next year.”

Team USA wrapped up FIBA World Cup play in China last weekend with a seventh-place finish, its worst ever.

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Rockets star James Harden: ‘I want to be one of those basketball players that you won’t forget’

Shaquille O’Neal goes wild in mosh pit at Tomorrowland

James Harden is looking forward to once again sharing the floor with Russell Westbrook.

The Rockets retooled their roster this summer when they sent Chris Paul, along with multiple draft picks, to the Thunder in exchange for Westbrook, an eight-time All-Star.

The deal reunited Westbrook and Harden, who previously played together in Oklahoma City from 2009-12.

“(There will be) a lot of ups and downs,” Harden told Bleacher Report in a recent interview about playing with Westbrook. “But I’m more excited to go into war, postseason, with somebody that is, like, a dog. Somebody that’s a killer, for real.”

Harden has been one of the best players in the NBA since he joined the Rockets. He has averaged 29 or more points per game in each of the last four seasons and was named the 2017-18 MVP.

But, Harden has yet to win a championship. He’s hoping to change that.

“I still haven’t accomplished half of what I want to accomplish,” Harden said. “Like, multiple championships. I want to be one of those basketball players that you won’t forget. And obviously, we all remember the Kobes and the Jordans and the D-Wades and all those guys. I want to be in that same conversation, obviously, in championships and all that good stuff, and best shooting guards to ever play the game.”

Harden said he thinks the Rockets have a chance to compete for a title, especially with the addition of Westbrook.

“Of course it (not having a championship) matters to me,” Harden said. “I’ve been thinking about it maybe the last year-and-a-half, two years. I’m on the right path. You can’t rush winning a title. Some win it early, some win it late. It’s perfect timing.

“The time is going to happen when the time happens. I’ve just got to be patient, continue to work my butt off, continue to be a great leader, great teammate, and just try to bring as much talent and as much guys that have that same drive that I have. I think we all have it right now.”

The Rockets inked guard Eric Gordon to four-year extension earlier this month.

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Messi done enough in Barcelona return – Valverde

Kovac backs Neuer in conflict with ter Stegen as Bayern beat Red Star

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde discussed Lionel Messi’s first appearance of the season.

Lionel Messi “done enough” in his return as Barcelona drew 0-0 with Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League, insisted head coach Ernesto Valverde.

Messi made his first appearance of the season after recovering from a calf injury in Barca’s goalless draw away to Dortmund in their Group F opener on Tuesday.

The Barca captain had been sidelined up until his second-half introduction against Dortmund, though Messi was a peripheral figure for the visitors.

“He’s like any player who hasn’t had a pre-season,” Valverde said.

 

“He’s had to play in a game at an incredible pace, which had already started, all without preparation.

 

“It’s his first 30 minutes. He’s done enough. It was also the first full game for Luis Suarez.”

 

Barca had goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen to thank for securing a point after the German star saved Marco Reus’ second-half penalty.

Ter Stegen thwarted Dortmund on more than one occasion in the second 45 minutes and Valverde hailed the Germany international.

“In LaLiga [Santander] we were saying that opponents score against us,” Valverde added. “But tonight, he was very good. We have a great goalkeeper and we benefit from that.”

On denying Reus from the penalty spot, Ter Stegen said:  It’s hard to study, Reus always changes. It was a feeling I had [going to his left] and I’m glad that I could save it.”

If Liverpool lose to Napoli, they win the Champions League – Ancelotti reassures Klopp

Kovac backs Neuer in conflict with ter Stegen as Bayern beat Red Star

Liverpool won last season’s Champions League after losing to Napoli in the group stage and Carlo Ancelotti joked with Jurgen Klopp.

‪Carlo Ancelotti joked with Jurgen Klopp following Napoli’s win over Liverpool, reassuring the Reds manager that his side usually goes on to win the Champions League after losing to the Serie A team.

Napoli emerged victorious in their Champions League opener on Tuesday, beating last season’s winners 2-0 thanks to goals from Dries Mertens and Fernando Llorente.

A controversial 82nd-minute penalty converted by Mertens and Llorente’s first goal for Napoli saw Ancelotti’s men to victory in the Group E blockbuster.

It was the second successive season Liverpool lost away to Napoli in the group stage following their 1-0 loss in last term’s corresponding fixture.

Liverpool went on to lift the Champions League title in 2018-19 and head coach Ancelotti reminded Klopp of that fact following the match.

 

“I told him not to worry because if he loses here, he tends to go on and win the Champions League. I reassured him,” Ancelotti told Sky Sport Italia.

 

“It’s always tough against Liverpool, from the first minute to the last. We had to sacrifice ourselves, but without losing our identity,” Ancelotti said.

 

“We tried a bit too hard to play it out from the back and lost some dangerous balls, while they were aggressive in their pressing.

 

“The game was always in the balance, but I particularly appreciated the way we defended with the basics when it was still 0-0 and that’s what allowed us to have those late chances.

 

“I want to see a team that believes in themselves and their quality. I really liked the way we played when we weren’t in control. Llorente helped out, the players were tired and the first goal was from a long ball – which isn’t our usual approach, but it’s not an insult to do that sometimes. This team must know how to do everything.

 

“We brought in important players who improve the quality level of the squad and have different characteristics to what we had before. I have to keep them motivated and that’s not easy, especially when UEFA still have this rule forcing you to keep a short bench and it’s painful sending players to the stands.”

Cristiano Ronaldo reveals the one thing better than scoring a goal

Kovac backs Neuer in conflict with ter Stegen as Bayern beat Red Star

Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo said scoring his favorite-ever goal was not better than sex with girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez.

Cristiano Ronaldo has claimed sex with model girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez is superior to the best goal of his glittering football career.

Speaking in an interview on ITV, Ronaldo was asked about a spectacular overhead kick he scored against Juventus for Real Madrid in April 2018.

The 34-year-old agreed it was the best goal of his career, but it still did not match a night between the sheets with 25-year-old Rodriguez.

“No, not [when compared] with my Geo, no!” Ronaldo said as he laughed at the question.

 

“I tried to score this goal for many, many years. I had scored 700-odd goals but I hadn’t done this. I thought ‘finally I had scored a bicycle, the beautiful jumping’.

 

“The way I had done against Gianluigi Buffon, against Juventus, in the Champions League. It was a beautiful goal.”

 

Ronaldo spoke about how it was “love at first sight” with Spaniard Rodriguez, who he first encountered at a Gucci shop.

“Geo’s the mum of my kids, and I’m so passionate for her, you know. It’s great,” explained the Juventus forward.

 

“Geo, is, you know, part of me. She helped me so much. Of course, I’m in love for her.

 

“She’s my friend. We have conversations, I open the heart for her, she open the heart for me.”

When pressed by Morgan on whether he would soon marry Rodriguez, Ronaldo added: “One day. No, we’ll be [married] one day, for sure.

 

“It’s my mum’s dream as well. So, one day. Why not?”