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Football: PSG look to go one better in Champions League but doubts remain

PARIS: Paris Saint-Germain came so close to winning the prize they crave more than anything in last ..

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PARIS: Paris Saint-Germain came so close to winning the prize they crave more than anything in last season's Champions League and are hoping to go one better this time, but there are concerns that the Qatar-owned club might actually have gone backwards in recent months.

Bayern Munich's greater experience told in Lisbon in August, and there were tears at the end for Neymar as the French champions agonisingly lost 1-0 in their first ever Champions League final.

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Two months on, Thomas Tuchel's side begin their latest bid for European success at home to Manchester United on Tuesday (Oct 20), in a rematch of the last-16 tie in 2019 which PSG lost to a controversial late penalty.

It therefore brings back memories of just one of several painful defeats in the Champions League in recent years, but the reality is that Paris should be considered favourites against the Old Trafford side and to win a group also containing RB Leipzig and Istanbul Basaksehir.

Yet whether this will be the season that they do go all the way remains to be seen.

Tuchel has been the first to complain that his squad is weaker than it was last season as PSG – having already seen several key players depart over the summer – have started the new campaign hamstrung by injuries, suspensions and coronavirus cases.

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PSG coach Thomas Tuchel and sporting director Leonardo have not seen eye to eye in recent weeks. (AFP/FRANCK FIFE)

"CLUMSY AND RUSHED"

Right-back Thomas Meunier and all-time record goal-scorer Edinson Cavani left when their contracts ended, not even sticking around for the latter stages of the Champions League in August – Cavani is now at United and so could come back to haunt his old side this week.

Skipper Thiago Silva did stay for the 'Final Eight' in Lisbon but has since joined Chelsea and complained that sporting director Leonardo had been "clumsy and rushed" in refusing to offer him a deal to stay.

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"Not only with me," the Brazilian told France Football. "Cavani is the top scorer in PSG's history. I am saying this so that the club progresses and doesn't make the same mistakes in future."

Tuchel would appear to agree with that view, with his apparently difficult relationship with the man who makes the signings producing regular headlines in France.

"We will do everything we possibly can and we will never accept excuses but we have to face up to the reality and that is that we have lost players," the German, who is in the final year of his contract, said earlier this month as he indicated PSG could not win the Champions League without major strengthening.

"We didn't like what he said. The club didn't like it and I didn't like it either," said Leonardo.

"If you decide to stay, you have to respect the club's sporting policy, the internal rules and the situation at the club."

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

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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.

 

Read from source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/cowboys/2021/01/03/new-york-giants-nfc-east-dallas-cowboys-out/4116818001/

 

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

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 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

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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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