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Messi toughest task as barcelona face up to bayern munich



images 33 Messi toughest task as barcelona face up to bayern munich

Lionel Messi might never have been faced with a more daunting task at Barcelona than engineering a victory against Bayern Munich in Lisbon on Friday.

The only surviving former winners of European club football’s greatest prize — with five titles each — meet in a heavyweight Champions League quarter-final behind closed doors at the Estadio da Luz.

It is not often that Messi’s Barcelona come into such a big European tie as the underdogs, but they have this time, with Quique Setien’s team having lost out to Real Madrid in the Spanish title race while Bayern appeared flawless on the way to winning a German league and cup double.

Messi is now 33, yet Barcelona appear more reliant on him than ever.

He scored twice against Bayern in the quarter-finals in 2009 when Barcelona went on to win the Champions League under Pep Guardiola.

He hit four against Arsenal the following year and five against Bayer Leverkusen in 2012 but on both occasions, Barca were favourites.

Messi also sank Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu in 2011 when his double in the first leg of the semi-final, including one of the finest goals the competition has ever seen, transcended a rivalry that had been dragged to its ugliest point.

And he was part of perhaps the tournament’s greatest comeback, the 6-1 destruction of Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 after Barcelona lost 4-0 in the first leg of that last-16 tie.

Yet this time threatens to be different.

With Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann alongside him, Frenkie de Jong and Sergio Busquets behind him and Jordi Alba out wide, Messi should not be on his own.

Even in defence, Gerard Pique still has a claim to be the best defender in La Liga and Marc-Andre ter Stegen is among the most impressive goalkeepers in the world.

“Bayern are playing really well and are full of confidence but we have the weapons to beat them,” Griezmann told Barca TV.

– Isolated Argentine –

But the sense remains that Messi must perform if Barcelona are to defeat Bayern, widely seen as the favourites to lift the trophy on August 23, at the end of the express knock-out tournament in Lisbon.

It will take something very special not only to lift his own team out of the doldrums but also to neutralise an opponent that many believe are the most complete side in Europe.

Barcelona therefore must first of all hope that Messi shows no ill effects from the ankle knock he suffered in last weekend’s last-16, second-leg win over Napoli — he has been back training normally.

The Catalans should certainly wonder how it got to this point, given they spent more than 500 million euros ($590m) over the last three seasons, bringing in players that should have complemented, not isolated, the Argentine.

The worry is that Bayern might not just beat Barcelona at the Estadio da Luz, but humiliate them.

If they do, Setien is likely to pay with his job, even if he only took over as coach in January, replacing Ernesto Valverde, who was also unable to shake this current crop into life.

The alternative is a statement performance that vindicates Setien, establishes him for next season and sends Barcelona into the semi-finals with the kind of momentum that could even take them all the way.

“We have to be optimistic, we are in good shape,” said Setien after the Napoli game.

However, it would be a surprise to see Barcelona go on and lift the trophy, and it seems unthinkable they could do it without an intervention from Messi, who must be wondering too how the club that won the treble five years ago have come to rely on him so completely.

The challenge is not beyond Messi. But Barcelona must know he deserves more.

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I Can’t Wait To Face Ronaldo – Osimhen



images 16 4 I Can’t Wait To Face Ronaldo - Osimhen

Victor Osimhen is looking forward to coming up against Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo in the Serie A this season, reports
Osimhen joined Napoli from Ligue 1 club Lille in July.
The new season in Italy will start this weekend with Napoli facing Parma in their first game of the campaign.
Napoli’s first tough fixture of the season will be away to champions Juventus on matchday three.
The game will see Osimhen come up against Ronaldo for the first time in his career.
“I’m really looking forward to a new career here in Serie A. Playing against the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo is something one can eagerly wait for,”Osimhen told
“While at Lille, I had the opportunity of playing against some of the best players in the world like Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and it would definitely be a whole great experience to play against Ronaldo, who is one of the greatest playeon earth.
“So, I’m looking forward to facing him soon.”
The Nigeria international scored six goals and provided one assist in three pre-season outings for the Partenopei.

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Five new signings to watch in Serie A



images 7 3 Five new signings to watch in Serie A

There will be a clutch of new faces when the 2020/21 Serie A season kicks off this weekend.
AFP Sport looks at five new signings to look out for in Italy this season :
Victor Osimhen ( Napoli )
Napoli paid French club Lille a club record fee of up to 80 million euros ( $94 .6 million ) to bring Nigeria forward to southern Italy on a five- year deal .
The total fee is almost double Napoli’ s previous club record of around 40 million euros paid for Gonzalo Higuain in 2013 and Hirving Lozano last year .
Osimhen scored 18 times last season and was one of the revelations of France ’ s curtailed campaign with 13 Ligue 1 goals as Lille finished fourth .
“ For me , being here means having made a big leap in quality , ” said the 21- year – old .
Napoli finished seventh in Serie A and qualified for the Europa League after winning the Italian Cup , their first trophy in six years .
Weston McKennie ( Juventus)
Weston McKennie joined Juventus on a season – long loan from Bundesliga club Schalke and will become the first American to play for the Italian champions.
McKennie , 22, moves to Turin for an initial fee of 4 . 5 million euros.
The deal includes an obligation for Juventus to buy the midfielder for 18 .5 million euros if certain targets are met this season .
The US international spent four years in Germany and made 91 appearances for Schalke, but the Bundesliga club found itself in a perilous financial situation after the coronavirus pandemic .
“ Playing with Cristiano Ronaldo , seeing how he moves and how he works will bring me great benefits, ” said McKennie before Juventus ’s first game against Sampdoria on Sunday.
Achraf Hakimi ( Inter Milan )
Real Madrid full- back Achraf Hakimi joined Serie A club Inter Milan for a reported fee of 40 million euros plus five million euros in bonuses .
As part of the sale , Madrid has negotiated a clause giving them first refusal on the Morocco international for the next five years .
Achraf , who has spent the past two seasons on loan at Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund , has joined the Serie A runners – up on a contract until June 2025 .
The pacy defender will bolster Antonio Conte ’ s defense , occupying the right flank where neither Antonio Candreva nor Victor Moses fully convinced last season .
Vedat Muriqi ( Lazio)
Kosovo international striker Vedat Muriqi arrives from Turkish club Fenerbahce to support Lazio’ s Serie A top scorer Ciro Immobile as the club return to the Champions League after a 13 – year break .
Simone Inzaghi’ s side is reported to have spent 20 million euros ( $23 million ) for the services of the 26 – year – old forward on a five- year deal .
Immobile scored 36 goals last season as the Romans challenged for a first Serie A title since 2000, eventually finishing fourth having been just one point behind Juventus before the coronavirus break .
Aleksei Miranchuk ( Atalanta )
Atalanta signed versatile Russian attacking midfielder Aleksei Miranchuk from Lokomotiv Moscow just after their Champions League last- eight exit with Slovenian striker Josip Illcic absent because of personal and psychological problems .
Miranchuk scored 12 goals in the Russian league last season and two against Juventus in the Champions League .
The Bergamo side paid a reported 20 million euros for the 24- year – old , who can play in a central attacking midfield role or as a winger on either flank for last season ’ s Serie A top scorers .
Miranchuk will be separated from his twin brother Anton for the first time after they emerged together at Lokomotiv and in the Russian national team.

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Osaka withdraws from 2020 French Open



download 2 5 Osaka withdraws from 2020 French Open

Japan ’s Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the upcoming French Open with a hamstring injury .
The 22- year – old had her left hamstring taped when she battled back against Victoria Azarenka in the U . S . Open final in New York on Saturday to win her third Grand Slam title.
“ Unfortunately , I won’ t be able to play the French Open this year ,” the world number three wrote on social media in a message she also posted in Japanese .
“ My hamstring is still sore so I won’t have time to prepare for the clay – these two tournaments came too close to each other for me this time .
“ I wish the organizers and players all the best . ”
French Open will be held from Sept . 27 to Oct . 11 after being moved from its usual late May – June slot due to the coronavirus pandemic .
The hamstring issue had prompted Osaka to withdraw from the final of the Western & Southern Open in the run – up to the U .S . Open but it did not appear to hamper her at Flushing Meadows .
Osaka made headlines in New York as much for her performances on court as for her commitment to social justice causes.
For each of her U . S . Open matches she wore a different mask that carried the name of a Black American , aiming to highlight racial injustice in the United States to a wider audience .
The withdrawal of Osaka, who has never advanced past the third round at Roland Garros , comes as another blow to the tournament after world number one Ash Barty of Australia said she would not be defending her title due to COVID- 19 concerns.
On the men’ s side, Roger Federer will not compete as he continues to recover from knee surgery .
Osaka’ s absence would improve Serena Williams’ s chances of winning a record- tying 24th Grand Slam title if the American chooses to play .
The 38- year – old has pulled out of the Italian Open with an Achilles issue .
The French Tennis Federation ( FFT ) said on Thursday it would allow 5,000 spectators per day following a recent spike in COVID- 19 cases in the country.
It had previously said the clay court major would permit a maximum of 11 ,500 fans per day.

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