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Soccer

Tadic believes Ajax would have pushed Liverpool harder in 2019 final

‘A larger chance than Tottenham… for sure’: Dusan Tadic believes Ajax would have pushed Liverpool harder in the 2019 Champions League final than beaten opponents Spurs

  • Spurs beat Ajax in the last minute of the 2019 Champions League semi-finals 
  • Dusan Tadic and his side were denied the chance to face Liverpool in Madrid
  • But Ajax will face Jurgen Klopp’s side in the group-stage on Wednesday night
  • Meanwhile, Erik ten Hag played down Virgil van Dijk’s absence and its impact 

Ajax captain Dusan Tadic believes they would have given Liverpool a better game in the 2019 Champions League final than Tottenham managed.

The Dutch club were seconds away from securing their place when Lucas Moura scored in the sixth minute of added time in their semi-final second leg to put Spurs through.

It was a cruel blow on the Dutch side, who had been brilliant that season, and it hurt even more seeing Tottenham, in their first European Cup final, go behind to a second-minute Mohamed Salah penalty and never really threatening before Divock Origi scored a second late on.

Dusan Tadic insists Ajax could have given Liverpool a better match in the 2019 final

The Reds beat Tottenham 2-0 in Madrid to lift the Champions League for the sixth time

‘It would have been nice to play against them in the final,’ said the former Southampton forward, who was asked whether Ajax could have beaten Liverpool.

‘It is difficult to play against them (but) a larger chance than Tottenham for sure.

‘I played against Liverpool too often, it was always difficult. They put on a lot of pressure with fast football, they are a big team but it will be a great game to play.’

Tadic will get his wish to play Jurgen Klopp’s side in the opening fixture of their Champions League campaign in the Johan Cruyff ArenA in Amsterdam on Wednesday.

Tadic is consoled by Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld after the devastating semi-final defeat

Liverpool suffered a significant blow at the weekend when Virgil Van Dijk was ruled out for several months with anterior ligament damage which requires surgery, and things have not improved for the visitors with fellow centre-back Joel Matip out of this game with an injury.

Ajax coach Erik Ten Hag claims he does not know if he is relieved Van Dijk will not be playing.

‘I don’t know,’ said Ten Hag when asked how he felt about the Holland captain being absent.

Ajax coach Erik Ten Hag played down the impact Virgil van Dijk’s absence will have tomorrow

‘At the end of the day it is about who is still playing. It’s not going to be a different Liverpool, they always play the same. The quality of Man A can switch to Man B, the whole team won’t change because Virgil Van Dijk isn’t present.

‘Of course, they are currently the best team in the world, if you win the Champions League and Premier League within two years you are a strong contender for the Champions League title.’

Ajax forward Antony who has scored three goals in five league matches, will miss the game with injury.




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Sports News

England players to have option of opting out of proposed Pakistan tour

England players to have option of opting out of proposed Pakistan tour should they have safety fears 

  • The ECB is considering a brief tour to Pakistan next year for a Twenty20 series 
  • Pakistan were one of four teams to visit the UK this year during the pandemic 
  • England have not toured Pakistan for 15 years due to security concerns

England’s players will be given the opportunity to opt out of the proposed tour of Pakistan early next year should they harbour safety fears.

As with all international tours, individuals retain the right to withdraw without prejudice in light of lingering reservations, even after the ECB’s security advisers have given the green light.

World Cup-winning captain Eoin Morgan – who would be expected to lead the side in three Twenty20 internationals in the opening days of January – declined to travel to Bangladesh on that basis in 2016.

England’s players will be given the opportunity to opt out of the proposed tour of Pakistan

An ECB spokesperson confirmed that the same protocols remain in place but stressed that discussions with the Pakistan Cricket Board regarding the invite to send an England team for the first time since 2005 remain ‘at a very early stage.’

A statement last Thursday read: ‘As with any proposed tour that takes place at this time, the safety and welfare of our players and staff is paramount. 

As such, there are a number of factors that need to be taken into consideration, including the proposed protocols in relation to COVID-19 bio-secure bubbles, the proposed levels of security around the team, as well as the feasibility of undertaking this tour against the backdrop of an already busy schedule of international cricket for the England men’s team.’

England could be in line for a momentous first visit to Pakistan in over 15 years

International cricket was lost to Pakistan for a decade after the terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in 2009. Test cricket returned for the first time since the attack last year when the Sri Lankans returned.

PCB chief executive Wasim Khan told Sportsmail that Pakistan was now ‘as safe as anywhere in the world,’ after the trio of Twenty20s – a thank you to the Pakistanis for helping to salvage the coronavirus-hit English home summer – were made public.

And earlier this year, until Covid-19 brought its premature end, a dozen England internationals including Moeen Ali, Jason Roy, Chris Jordan and Dawid Malan featured in the Pakistan Super League on its return home from multiple seasons in the United Arab Emirates


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MLB

The Latest: Browns will have Beckham vs. Steelers


The Latest on Week 6 in the NFL (all times EDT):

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12 p.m.

Star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is active and expected to be available when the surprising Cleveland Browns travel to face the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

Beckham Jr. had his second negative COVID-19 test in 24 hours on Saturday, clearing him to rejoin his teammates. The receiver was kept away from Cleveland’s facility and didn’t practice for two days after feeling ill on Thursday and being sent home

The league has instructed teams to remove anyone showing symptoms similar to COVID-19 even if they are caused by a cold or the flu. The Browns are off to a 4-1 start and trying to earn their first win in Pittsburgh since 2003. The Steelers (4-0) are one of four undefeated teams remaining in the league.

Beckham has had a good start in his second season with the Browns, who acquired the star in a blockbuster trade with the New York Giants. He has 21 catches for 294 yards and three touchdowns and also had an electrifying 50-yard TD run that sealed a win in Dallas.

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More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Soccer

Andy Cole: I would have been Virgil van Dijk's worst nightmare

Manchester United legend Andy Cole says he would have been Virgil van Dijk’s ‘worst nightmare’ as a player after Dutchman’s stuttering start to the season and claims the Liverpool defender ‘doesn’t like chasing back’

  • Man United icon Andy Cole says Virgil van Dijk has shown weakness this season 
  • The Dutch centre-back has looked off the pace at Liverpool in recent games
  • He played the full 90 minutes as the Reds were thumped 7-2 by Aston Villa 
  • Cole believes he would have relished going up against him when he was a player
  • The former striker pointed out how Van Dijk is often reluctant to track back  

Manchester United icon Andy Cole says he would have ‘loved’ playing against Virgil van Dijk after the Liverpool defender’s sluggish start to the season. 

The Dutchman has become known as one of the best centre-backs in world football after some dominant performances under Jurgen Klopp in recent years, and he was pivotal to their Premier League title triumph last season. 

But this term the 29-year-old has looked off the pace and has put in some suspect displays, with Liverpool conceding three against Leeds in the season opener and then slumping to a 7-2 defeat against Aston Villa last time out. 

Manchester United legend Andy Cole says he would relish going up against Virgil van Dijk 

He said the Liverpool defender has shown weaknesses recently after a poor start to the season

And Cole, who is third in the Premier League’s all time scorers list with 187 – with 93 coming for United – says that while he still rates van Dijk highly, he has started to show vulnerabilities, including a reluctance to track back.

‘Van Dijk is a really good player, but I’m the kind of individual who would love to have played against him – and I feel like I would have got to him,’ he told Sunday World. 

‘You want to test yourself against the best and he is the best at the moment, without a doubt, but I like to look at defenders and find weaknesses in them and we have seen a few with Van Dijk in the last few months.

Cole believes the Dutchman doesn’t like chasing back and that strikers are getting in behind

‘I watched him in the opening game of the season against Leeds and the strikers who give him problems are the ones who run in behind him and stretch him. They scored three goals that day and he didn’t look like he enjoyed the experience.’

Cole believes he would have been van Dijk’s ‘worst nightmare’ if he came up against him in his prime and warned that top flight strikers may be alerted to his weakness in future games if he doesn’t adapt.  

‘He is a Rolls Royce of a defender, but he didn’t like putting his foot down and chasing back when people were getting in behind him.

‘That’s what I would have done all day when I was at my best, so I would probably have been his worst nightmare if I was playing against him.’

He claimed he would be van Dijk’s ‘worst nightmare’ if he played against him in his prime 

He is regarded as one of the best defenders in the world and was crucial to Liverpool’s title win

Van Dijk has started all four league games under Klopp this season, scoring in the 4-3 win over Leeds last month and looking mostly untroubled in victores against Chelsea and Arsenal. 

But former Gunners defender Sol Campbell believes he may be getting complacent after winning so many plaudits in recent years and suggested he is not being challenged enough.

‘I know Van Dijk struggled in the Villa game, but he stands out these days because he’s head and shoulders above everyone else, which makes me wonder if that is hampering him at the same time,’ he told the Athletic. 

The centre-back played the full 90 minutes as Liverpool were thumped 7-2 by Villa last time out

‘He’s the complete player in that position and has made it look easy, but maybe he’s not been challenged enough and then, like a cricketer being done by a slower ball, he’s come unstuck.’

‘If you’ve not been worrying about forwards troubling you, sometimes you drop your guard a fraction. It’s a natural human thing.

‘Maybe that’s seeped in a bit at Liverpool in general. I’m sure Jurgen Klopp will recognise that and get them back on track.’




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Basketball

Danny Green, fiancee have received death threats after NBA Finals Game 5 missed shot

Danny Green took and missed a 3-point shot Friday night. As social media often does, it’s been blown too far out of proportion.

Green said Sunday that his fiancée, Blair Bashen, has received death threats directed at her and Green over social media since his missed 3-pointer at the end of the 2020 NBA Finals Game 5. Green’s open 3-pointer would’ve potentially won the series for the Los Angeles Lakers off a feed from LeBron James. Green acknowledged the threats when speaking with reporters Sunday. 

Adding on to his thoughts Sunday, Green said he hoped that the people sending the threats were that passionate about more important things in life.

“I hope they are that passionate about voting or getting justice for these people who deserve justice or get some better change along in the country,” Green said, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. 

The 3-pointer Green took with less than 10 seconds remaining in Game 5 has already received heavy scrutiny because of the passer — James chose to dish to an open man instead of trying to win the game himself. The Lakers trailed 109-108 at the time of the shot, and went on to lose 111-108 after Markieff Morris threw the offensive rebound out of bounds.

Green, a lifetime 40.0-percent 3-point shooter, took his time after the pass from James was low to his right side. Andre Iguodala flew out at Green late, and Green left the shot short.

“I trusted him, we trusted him and it just didn’t go and you live with that,” James said after Game 5. 

Already having won rings with both the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors, Green is mired in one of the worst shooting slumps of his career. He’s made 8-of-31 3-point attempts in the Finals, just a shade over 25 percent. He was 2-for-4 in Game 5 prior to his late miss.

After Game 5, Green added: “I’d do anything to get that shot again, trust me.”

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Soccer

Republic of Ireland have five players ruled out of Wales clash

Republic of Ireland have FIVE players ruled out of Nations League clash with Wales just hours before kick-off after an unnamed star tested positive for Covid-19

  • An unnamed star tested positive after returning home from Slovakia on Friday 
  • Four other players deemed to have been close contacts have been withdrawn 
  • John Egan, Callum Robinson, Callum O’Dowda and Alan Browne are to miss out
  • The news comes just hours before their Nations League clash against Wales 

Republic of Ireland have been hit by yet more Covid-19 chaos after five players were ruled out of Sunday’s Nations League game against Wales in Dublin.

The FAI have confirmed that one unnamed player has tested positive and that four others have been deemed as close contacts of the individual.

It is understood the four players are Sheffield United defender John Egan, Callum Robinson of West Brom, Preston’s Alan Browne and Callum O’Dowda of Bristol City.

Stephen Kenny has a selection headache after the news that five players have been pulled out

That quartet – plus the infected player – will now have to enter a period of self-isolation and are likely to miss forthcoming club fixtures. They have also been ruled out of Ireland’s trip to Finland on Wednesday.

This latest Covid-related setback comes after strikers Aaron Connolly and Adam Idah were forced to miss last Thursday’s Euro 2020 playoff defeat in Slovakia after sitting too close on the team’s aeroplane to a member of staff who later tested positive. The players, it was later revealed, were sat in the wrong seats on the plane.

However, in a fresh twist, the FAI say that test result may have been a ‘false positive’. They are now discussing the issue with Uefa.


Callum Robinson and John Egan are two of the players who are set to miss the Wales clash

Brighton forward Connolly would have started against Slovakia but the Irish Health Service Executive insisted that he must self-isolate after reviewing the seating plan from the team’s flight to Bratislava. 

It revealed that the 20-year-old was 1.9 metres away from the individual who later returned a positive test.

The FAI spent most of Thursday appealing to the HSE to have their instruction overturned, but that request was denied on the grounds that Connolly was within two metres of the individual for more than two hours.

Norwich’s Idah, meanwhile, was 1.7m away and the pair have since returned to the UK. 

If the ‘false positive’ is proven then it could free them to play in their upcoming club matches.

The news comes days after strikers Aaron Connolly and Adam Idah were also withdrawn 




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