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Against the odds

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Xavi hopes to coach Barcelona in future

first_imgRelatedPosts FC Barcelona appoint Koeman as new coach Barca president confirms Koeman appointment Barca sack sporting director Eric Abidal Former Barcelona great Xavi Hernandez says he hopes to return to the Spanish club as head coach when the timing is right and that his technical team are already preparing for it.Spanish media had reported that Xavi, who coaches Qatari club Al Sadd, had been approached by Barca to replace Ernesto Valverde before Quique Setien was appointed in January. Barca are two points behind leaders Real Madrid with six matches remaining in the campaign.“The biggest hope I have now is to be Barca coach and get Barca back to winning ways,” Spanish daily Sport quoted Xavi as saying in a video call where the 40-year-old outlined his plans for the future.Xavi said he hoped to begin from scratch if he took over.He said: “I’m a club man. I would like to return at the right moment to start a project from zero.“I’ve said it a lot of times but I want to take footballing decisions at Barcelona. “It’s clear that after the elections the stage would be set, of course. I’m not ruling anything out.“They came for me in January, we were speaking. I told them the circumstances and timing weren’t right.”Reuters/NAN.Tags: Al SaddErnesto ValverdeQuique SetienXavi Hernandezlast_img read more

Women’s soccer: Wisconsin welcomes No. 11 Minnesota to McClimon in first Border Battle installment of season

first_imgComing off a pair of home victories last week against Indiana and Purdue, the Wisconsin women’s soccer team (5-4-3, 2-1-1 Big Ten) now looks to knock off No. 11 Minnesota (9-1-2, 4-0-0 Big Ten) in the annual border battle this Friday at 6 p.m. at the McClimon Center.But, extending the winning streak could be an uphill battle for the Badgers, as the conference-leading Gophers ended September on a six-game tear to take a two-point advantage over Northwestern in the early standings.Head-to-HeadThe Badgers visited Minnesota last season in their most recent matchup and ran away with a 4-1 victory, but it was also the program’s first win over the Gophers since 2010.Wisconsin’s Keys to VictorySet-Piece DefenseA notable improvement for the Badgers this season is the defense’s execution of corner and free kick clearances. Part of this can be attributed to the improved chemistry between keeper Caitlyn Clem and the rest of the backline.Clem took on seven corner kicks in the 1-0 victory over Purdue last week, and none of them posed a real threat. Similar poise will be needed Friday to shut down an aggressive Minnesota attack that has taken 84 corner kicks already this season.Aggression from the midfieldStill recovering from the loss of star forwards Cara Walls and Kodee Williams, the Badgers have turned to their attacking midfielders more often than not this season to put points on the board (11 of the 14 total goals scored have been scored by a midfielder). If Wisconsin wants to contend against a high-powered Gophers defense, they’ll need to find creative ways to give leading scorers McKenna Meuer (five goals) and Rose Lavelle (four goals) space to shoot in the attacking third.At this point of the season, the Gophers have given up just six goals to 106 shots (an opponent shooting accuracy of just 5 percent).Matchup to WatchMinnesota F Simone Kolander vs. Wisconsin G Caitlyn ClemThe team leader in assists for her first two seasons, Kolander has also proven her ability to find the net, leading the team with seven goals this season in an efficient 27 shots. Kolander comes into Friday’s contest on a five-game scoring streak. On the contrary, Clem has been on a dominant stretch of her own, saving 12 consecutive shots en route to a three-match shutout streak.last_img read more

Does Time Favour Williams in Pursuit of Grand Slam History?

first_imgSerena Williams has time “working for her” in pursuit of an elusive 24th Grand Slam singles title, says her long-time coach Patrick Mouratoglou.The former world No 1, who will turn 38 later this month, suffered her fourth successive defeat in a major final at the US Open earlier this month as her wait to match Australian Margaret Court’s all-time haul was prolonged.Williams will now have to wait until the Australian Open – the scene of her last Grand Slam title in 2017 – in January for her next shot at history. After her defeat by Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu at Flushing Meadows, the world No 9 resisted fears over her ability to overcome one final obstacle in her career: to match and then overhaul Court’s tally. Mouratoglou, who has coached Williams to 10 Grand Slam titles since beginning their partnership in June 2012, insists the American was becoming ever more formidable.“I think time is working for her,” Mouratoglou told Sky Sports’ Mathieu Wood in an exclusive interview at the Mouratoglou Academy.“I think she was much better at the US Open than she was at Wimbledon and Wimbledon better than Roland Garros.“She is getting back in shape and the more in shape she will be the more dangerous she will be. I think she has started to play really good tennis.”Williams has not won a set in any of the four Grand Slam finals she has reached since the return from the birth of her first child in September 2017.She lost to Angelique Kerber in the Wimbledon showpiece last year, before being beaten by Naomi Osaka in New York two months later, while this year she has lost on the same stages against Simona Halep and then teenager Andreescu.Mouratoglou concedes Williams, who first won a Grand Slam aged 17 in 1999, has to work out the winning formula once again on the biggest stage as she aims to bolster her legacy.“She has to win that last match in the tournament which is always really difficult,” he said.“It is one match for history and the pressure is quite high. I am not in her mind but I can figure she is playing one match for history.“This is the highest pressure anyone can have in life and on the other side of the court she plays girls who have zero pressure because it is their first final.“They are going to play many Grand Slams, they are young, they are excited, enthusiastic so they play without pressure and that makes a big difference. But at some point she will figure out how to deal with that.”Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Serena Williamslast_img read more

Kagawa keen on future Dortmund return

first_imgThe midfielder won three trophies in two years at Westfalenstadion and would like to go back, but only once he has proven himself at Manchester United after a disappointing yearManchester United playmaker Shinji Kagawa says he would love to return to Bundesliga outfit Borussia Dortmund later in his career.The 24-year-old struggled with injuries in his debut season at Old Trafford, scoring six goals in 26 appearances across all competitions.The Japan international was outstanding for Dortmund in the 2011-12 campaign, helping them to a league and cup double, but largely failed to replicate his form in England and admitted he would like to return in the future.Kagawa told TV Tokyo: “Yes, one day I will [return to Dortmund]. If Dortmund are OK with it. I’m happy we won the league [last year] but I’m not satisfied with my performance.“The club has a long history and it was great that I could play in Sir Alex Ferguson’s last season. At first there were also moments when I felt a bit lost but I tried not to give too much importance on such a feeling.” Kagawa has described the 2013-14 season as “really important” for himself, as he bids to become a regular starter under new United boss David Moyes.But competition for places is high, with Kagawa – who was often employed on the wing last season – fighting for a spot alongside Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia and new signing Wilfried Zaha.“I have no excuse any more after a year in the Premier League,” he said.“I know I’m at a place where you can’t play if you don’t achieve results. I’m determined to do it, also because there will be World Cup. It’s really an important year for me.”last_img read more