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Ronaldo’s Juventus face Messi’s Barcelona in UEFA Champions League group stage

Two of greatest names in modern football, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, will face each other i..



Two of greatest names in modern football, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, will face each other in the 2020-21 UEFA Champions League group stage.

Ronaldo’s Juventus, who won the 2019-20 Italian Serie A, were drawn against Messi’s Barcelona in Group G, alongside Ukrainian side Dynamo Kiev, and Ferencvaros from Hungary.

In Group A, defending champions Bayern Munich will face Atletico Madrid, as well as FC Salzburg and Lokomotiv Moscow.

English Premier League champions Liverpool play Ajax, Atalanta, and newcomers FC Midtjylland in Group D, while 13-times winners Real Madrid face ties against Shakhtar Donetsk, Internazionale, and Borussia Monchengladbach.

Meanwhile last seasons runners-up, Paris Saint-Germain were drawn against Manchester United, RB Leipzig and debutants Istanbul Basaksehir in a strong Group H.

2019-20 UEFA Europa League winners Sevilla will face Chelsea, and two other first-time group stage teams in Krasnodar from Russia, and Stade Rennes from France.

Porto will host Manchester City, Olympiakos and Marseille in Group C, while Zenit St Petersburg, Borussia Dortmund, Lazio, and Club Brugge make up Group E.

A total of 15 countries are represented, with Ferencvaros giving Hungary just its second entry in the UEFA Champions League group stage in 25 years.

See the full draw below:

Group A: Bayern Munich (Germany, holders), Atletico Madrid (Spain), FC Salzburg (Austria), Lokomotiv Moscow (Russia)

Group B: Real Madrid (Spain), Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine), Internazionale (Italy), Borussia Monchengladbach (Germany)

Group C: FC Porto (Portugal), Manchester City (England), Olympiakos (Greece), Marseille (France)

Group D: Liverpool (England), Ajax (Netherlands), Atalanta (Italy), FC Midtjylland (Denmark)

Group E: Sevilla (Spain), Chelsea (England), Krasnodar (Russia), Stade Rennes (France)

Group F: Zenit St Petersburg (Russia), Borussia Dortmund (Germany), Lazio (Italy), Club Brugge (Belgium)

Group G: Juventus (Italy), Barcelona (Spain), Dynamo Kiev (Ukraine), Ferencvaros (Hungary)

Group H: PSG (France), Manchester United (England), RB Leipzig (Germany), Istanbul Basaksehir (Turkey)

All 32 clubs will receive a basic fee of €15.25 million euros plus more based on match results, shares of national broadcast rights, and a ranking of their historical record in UEFA competitions.

The draw was conducted behind closed doors at the House of European Football, UEFA’s headquarters, on the shore of Lake Geneva.

Group fixtures in the Champions League begin on October 20 and are scheduled to last until early December. The competition usually begins in September was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The top two teams from each group will then progress to the knockout rounds in February, while third-placed teams drop into the UEFA Europa League.

Games will take place behind closed doors until further notice, but UEFA hopes some teams, with approval from local public authorities, can let spectators attend by October.

Some games could also be played in neutral countries if infection rates spike during winter.

This year’s final is scheduled for May 29 in Turkey at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul, which had been due to host 2020’s finale.

The stadium previously hosted the 2005 Champions League final, when Liverpool recovered from three goals down to defeat AC Milan on penalties in the so-called “Miracle of Istanbul”.

Saint Petersburg – the prospective 2021 host – will now stage the 2022 event.

Lewandowski and Harder dominate UEFA awards

UEFA also announced the award winners for the 2019-20 season at Thursday’s ceremony in Switzerland.

Bayern Munich and Poland striker Robert Lewandowski were named UEFA Mens Player of the Year, while Danish forward Pernille Harder of Wolfsburg was named UEFA Women’s Player of the Year.

Lewandowski scored 55 goals in all competitions for Bayern Munich in the 2019-20 season, while Harder became the first player to top the journalists and coaches poll for the award.

The two winners were also recognised for last seasons Champions League competition, alongside Lewandowksis Bayern Munich teammates Manuel Neuer and Joshua Kimmich, and Manchester City midfielder Kevin de Bruyne.

Three members of the UEFA Womens champions Lyon also received awards, in captain Wendie Renard, goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi and midfielder Dzsenifer Marozsán.

Elsewhere Coach of the Year honours were given to Munichs Hansi Flick, and Lyons Jean-Luc Vasseur.

See the full list of winners below:

UEFA Mens Player of the Year – Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich, Poland)

UEFA Womens Player of the Year – Pernille Harder (Wolfsburg, Denmark)

UEFA Men’s Coach of the Year – Hansi Flick (Bayern Munich, Germany)

UEFA Women’s Coach of the Year – Jean-Luc Vasseur (Lyon, France)

Goalkeeper of the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League season – Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich, Germany)

Defender of the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League season – Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich, Germany)

Midfielder of the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League season – Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City, Belgium)

Forward of the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League season – Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich, Poland)

Goalkeeper of the 2019/20 UEFA Women’s Champions League season – Sarah Bouhaddi (Lyon, France)

Defender of the 2019/20 UEFA Women’s Champions League season – Wendie Renard (Lyon, France)

Midfielder of the 2019/20 UEFA Women’s Champions League season – Dzsenifer Marozsán (Lyon, Germany)

Forward of the 2019/20 UEFA Women’s Champions League season – Pernille Harder (Wolfsburg, Denmark)

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Giants knock out Cowboys to stay alive in NFC East as questionable decisions doom Dallas




In fitting fashion, an NFC East elimination game concluded with a running back sitting on his fumbled ball. Yes, sitting.

New York Giants running back Wayne Gallman coughed up the ball with 58 seconds to play, but officials ruled he secured it just enough to maintain possession after he literally sat on it. The Giants held on for the final minute of the game, winning 23-19 Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

The Dallas Cowboys have been eliminated from playoff contention.

The NFC East title will be decided by a “Sunday Night Football” matchup between the Washington Football Team and Philadelphia Eagles. Washington is in if it ties or wins. The Giants (6-10) will advance if Washington loses.

Neither the Giants nor the Cowboys played a clean game. Dallas’ offense stalle

The Giants, despite an interception and two fumbles (one lost), terrorized the Cowboys offensive line and sacked Dalton six times — hitting him a total of nine times. Dalton’s pressure prohibited the Cowboys from jelling in the passing game as they had a week earlier in their 37-17 win over the Eagles.

The Giants snapped a three-game losing streak with the victory. The Cowboys, finishing their season at 6-10, snapped a three-game winning streak.

d repeatedly, and its defense let up two early touchdowns.

But head coach Mike McCarthy will shoulder the blame for two questionable decisions.

On third-and-16, with 7:02 to play and the Giants up by 1, Giants receiver Dante Pettis did not appear to secure the catch on a 10-yard pass from quarterback Daniel Jones. Dallas chose not to challenge the play that immediately preceded the Giants’ 50-yard field goal. That, and the decision not to go for 2 after running back Ezekiel Elliott’s third-quarter touchdown, doomed the Cowboys.

Neither team converted a third down for the first 24 minutes of the game, and ball security made a difference. The Cowboys’ final drive ended on quarterback Andy Dalton’s interception in the end zone.

The Giants, despite an interception and two fumbles (one lost), terrorized the Cowboys offensive line and sacked Dalton six times — hitting him a total of nine times. Dalton’s pressure prohibited the Cowboys from jelling in the passing game as they had a week earlier in their 37-17 win over the Eagles.

The Giants snapped a three-game losing streak with the victory. The Cowboys, finishing their season at 6-10, snapped a three-game winning streak.

NFC East eyes will turn to the Sunday night game to determine whether a six- or seven-win team advances to the playoffs.

McCarthy’s eyes will turn to his second season in Dallas after an underwhelming first.


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Wisconsin drops trophy after beating Wake Forest in Duke May’s Bowl




 The Wisconsin Badgers captured the Duke’s Mayo Bowl and the trophy that came along with it.

And then they broke it.

While dancing around to celebrate his team’s 42-28 victory over Wake Forest on Wednesday, quarterback Graham Mertz dropped the football-shaped piece of Lenox crystal, leaving it shattered on the floor of the locker room after it fell off its base.

“We just wanted everybody to have a piece of that trophy,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst joked.

That would seem appropriate.

Mertz accounted for three touchdowns and Wisconsin turned four second-half interceptions, all by different players, into 21 points to turn a close game into a near-rout of the Demon Deacons. Five players scored touchdowns for the Badgers.

Mertz, a redshirt freshman, threw for 130 yards and ran for two short TDs as Wisconsin (4-3) finished a rocky 2020 season on a high note.

“Yeah, I dropped it,” Mertz said sheepishly. “That’s on me. It happened.”

The Badgers might be willing to forgive him.

With the game tied at 21 late in the third quarter, Noah Burks intercepted Wake Forest’s Sam Hartman on a pass in the flat when the intended receiver failed to turn his head around. Burks returned the ball 41 yards to set up a 14-yard scoring strike from Mertz to Mason Stokke on a wheel route, giving the Badgers their first lead.

Hartman, who had thrown only one interception all season, was picked off on the next three possessions as well.

Scott Nelson had a 60-yard interception return and Collin Wilder returned a pick 72 yards to set up short TD runs that gave the Badgers a 42-21 lead, resulting in Hartman getting benched. Jack Sanborn had 11 tackles and an interception and was named MVP of the game.

“It felt like one led to the other,” Sanborn said. “After three picks, we said, ‘Collin you have to get one’ – and then Collin went and got one.”

Sanborn said the Badgers picked up on some of Hartman’s tendencies.

“Throughout the game, similar concepts coming up,” Sanborn said. “We kind of knew where he wanted to throw the ball. He was making throws early in the game. But we got a tell on where he wanted to go with the ball.”

Hartman finished 20 of 37 passing for 318 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions.

“All of a sudden the dam opened the floodgates and wow, I never thought we would lose a game like that,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said.

Clawson said he felt Hartman was telegraphing his passes.

“I think he held on to targets too long and Wisconsin broke on his eyes and his arm actions,” Clawson said.

Wake Forest (4-5) outgained Wisconsin 518-266 on offense, but the Badgers had 176 return yards off interceptions.

Hartman threw three touchdown passes to Jacquarii Roberson to give the Demon Deacons a 21-14 lead early in the third quarter against the nation’s No. 1-ranked defense.

The game was played in front of no fans other than family and friends due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Manchester City’s ‘compromised’ Covid-19 security bubble forces postponement of game at Everton




An uptick in positive Covid-19 cases at Manchester City has forced the postponement of the club’s English Premier League game at Everton on Monday.

“After the latest round of Covid-19 testing, the club returned a number of positive cases, in addition to the four already reported on Christmas Day,” said City in a statement on their website.
“With the security of the bubble compromised, there posed a risk that the virus could spread further amongst the squad, the staff and potentially beyond.
“Based on strong medical advice the Premier League, in consultation with both clubs, have decided to postpone the fixture.”
On Christmas Day, City confirmed that forward Gabriel Jesus and defender Kyle Walker, as well as two members of staff had tested positive for Covid-19.
Monday’s game had been slated to kickoff at 8 p.m. local time at Goodison Park in Liverpool.
An alternative date and kickoff time has yet to be decided, according to Everton.
The Premier League says further testing will be conducted on Tuesday.
Meanwhile Crystal Palace and Leicester City shared a 1-1 draw on Monday as the Premier League’s intense festive schedule of matches continued.
Kelechi Iheanacho missed a first-half penalty for the visitors as second place Leicester, who had drawn 2-2 with Manchester United on Saturday, looked to close the gap on Premier League leader Liverpool.
Wilfried Zaha’s superb finish then gave Palace the lead, before Harvey Barnes’ low shot late on secured Leicester a point, moving Brendan Rodgers’ side on to 29 points, three behind the Premier League defending champion.

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