Valverde’s Barcelona balancing act turns crisis talk to treble talk

The coach used Neymar’s exit as a chance to reboot the faltering giants as Chelsea will find out in Champions LeagueSometimes football really is life. On Tuesday Barcelona face Chelsea in the Champions League at Stamford Bridge where in 2009 Andrés Iniesta scored a last-minute goal that he still watches occasionally. “It’s a moment that is always there, forever,” he says. For some fans, reminded of it daily, that is especially true. According to a spokeswoman for the maternity ward at the Quirón hospital in Catalonia, his goal didn’t only take Barça to the final, it provoked a spike in the birth rate. “I’m going to have to get more staff in if they keep winning titles,” Mercedes Rodríguez joked. Nine months after Iniesta’s goal, Rodríguez noted that births were up from nine or 10 a day to 14 or 15 in her hospital alone. “People asked if there Continue reading "Valverde’s Barcelona balancing act turns crisis talk to treble talk"

Time for Eden Hazard to show he can produce his best on the big occasion | Jacob Steinberg

Chelsea’s hopes of upsetting Barcelona rest on Belgian but he may wonder if his best chance of achieving greatness is to move This week a clip emerged of three Barcelona players being confronted by a metal railing, with each of them choosing to deal with the obstacle in a different way. While Jordi Alba continued to mooch along the suggested route and Luis Suárez dealt with the inconvenience by jumping over it, Lionel Messi could be seen scurrying under the barrier, like a small child setting off on an adventure at passport control, weaving through the legs and dividing lines and leaving his parents in a state of bewildered panic. Related: Chelsea’s Conte confident of new Eden Hazard deal despite Real interest Continue reading...

Sports quiz of the week: Winter Olympics, history, goals and disrespect

Who conceded? Who coached? And who was ‘a bit chubby’? Related: Spot the sport – take our Winter Olympics picture quiz

Pita Taufatofua is competing in the 15km cross-country event at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. In which event did the Tongan compete at the Rio Olympics in 2016?

Marathon

Taekwondo

Rugby 7s

Shot put

Which football team conceded a goal this week for the first time in 2018?

Fulham

Juventus

Bayern Munich

Celtic

How did British bobsleigh driver Toby Olubi help fund his training for the Winter Olympics?

He sold vacuum cleaners door to door in Camberwell

He played the role of a hyena in a production of The Lion King

He won £12,000 on Deal or No Deal

He made £30m trading Bitcoin

How did Eric Radford make history in Pyeongchang?

He became the first athlete to win two gold medals for different countries

He became the first Continue reading "Sports quiz of the week: Winter Olympics, history, goals and disrespect"

Dejan Lovren says Liverpool believe they can win Champions League

Having condemned Porto to their heaviest European home defeat Jürgen Klopp’s men are talking confidently of beating anyone Liverpool flew to Marbella for warm-weather training the morning after the historic night before in Porto, carrying thoughts of where else the form that condemned the Portuguese league leaders to their heaviest European home defeat might take them. For Dejan Lovren it is Kiev and the Champions League final on 26 May. “Why not?” he asked, rhetorically. “Of course we can win it.” For James Milner it is not the location but the level that matters. As the midfielder put it: “This team can go anywhere.” The Champions League quarter‑final awaits Jürgen Klopp’s team having to all intents sealed their passage with another emphatic European victory at Estádio do Dragão on Wednesday. In the aftermath Klopp played up the importance of the second leg against Porto on 6 March while Continue reading "Dejan Lovren says Liverpool believe they can win Champions League"

Occasional sips from a long glass of Advocaat

Sign up now! Sign up now! Sign up now? Sign up now! Goodness knows, the Fiver isn’t trying to downplay Liverpool’s performance in Big Cup on Wednesday. A five-goal haul away in Europe – as part of a show featuring quick breaks, top-corner rakes, back flicks and a juggling act so dainty it would make Lionel Messi look like Charles ‘Charlie’ Charles – is nothing to be sniffed at. But look at it from a Porto perspective: they were comprehensively overpowered by a midfield consisting of Jordan Henderson, gingerly feeling his way back from injury, James Milner, 63, and Georginio Wijnaldum, strolling around with an insouciance so thoroughly Dutch he may as well have been taking occasional sips from a long glass of Advocaat while absent-mindedly picking at a speciality cookie. Maybe a few more shuttle runs in training, that might be an idea. Sérgio Conceição can have that one Continue reading "Occasional sips from a long glass of Advocaat"