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What are English sides chances in Champions League?

Five English teams have reached Champions League last-16 for the first time
Man City would be the be..

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  • Five English teams have reached Champions League last-16 for the first time
  • Man City would be the best fancied given their excellent form this season
  • Chelsea finished second in their group and could be landed with a tough draw
  • Man United won five of their six group games in a cruise to knockout stages
  • Liverpool showed their scoring talents but also defensive frailties
  • Tottenham finished ahead of Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund in their group

By Craig Hope for MailOnline

Published: 05:37 EST, 7 December 2017 | Updated: 05:42 EST, 7 December 2017

The Premier League has five teams in the knockout rounds of the Champions League for the first time.

From 30 group-stage fixtures they lost just three matches between them and the rest of the continent is starting to fear the re-emergence of the English challenge.

Here, we examine their Champions League credentials…

Real Madrid won the Champions League in 2017, but can an English side succeed them?

Real Madrid won the Champions League in 2017, but can an English side succeed them?

Chelsea

How did they get on in the group stage?

They started well and the win at Atletico Madrid in the second game was arguably their performance of the season.

However, a mid-group stutter – one point from two games against Roma – meant that a good win in Qarabag was needed, and they duly got it.

It was, then, a little unconvincing given they won just one of four against Atletico and Roma – finishing second in the group to the Italians – but they nonetheless negotiated what looked a tricky draw.

Which of their stars will Europe's elite be most worried about?

Eden Hazard. Not only has he recaptured his brilliant form of three seasons ago, he has improved upon it.

The Belgian has taken his game to the next level and, if he wants to be talked about in the same class as the likes of Messi and Ronaldo, influencing matches in the latter stages of the Champions League is what he now needs to do.

Belgian star Eden Hazard has been excellent for Chelsea in the Champions League group stageBelgian star Eden Hazard has been excellent for Chelsea in the Champions League group stage

Belgian star Eden Hazard has been excellent for Chelsea in the Champions League group stage

Chelsea finished second in Group C behind Roma, but finished clear of Atletico MadridChelsea finished second in Group C behind Roma, but finished clear of Atletico Madrid

Chelsea finished second in Group C behind Roma, but finished clear of Atletico Madrid

What's their recent pedigree in the Champions League?

Winners in 2012 and semi-finalists in 2014, of all the English clubs they have enjoyed the most success over the last five years.

However, twice in the last two seasons they have come up against PSG in the last-16 and that is where their journey has ended.

What will be the weaknesses rivals will try and exploit?

They conceded six over two games against Roma and did not keep a clean sheet versus Atletico. Attack Chelsea and you will score. They'll need N'Golo Kante back at his best to protect their backline.

Rate their chances out of 10…

5/10. Probably the least likely winners of the English quintet as doubts remain about their squad depth and defensive resilience. But they also have Hazard, who can win matches on his own, so don't rule them out.

Cesc Fabregas and David Luiz react with dismay during Chelsea's defensive shambles at RomaCesc Fabregas and David Luiz react with dismay during Chelsea's defensive shambles at Roma

Cesc Fabregas and David Luiz react with dismay during Chelsea's defensive shambles at Roma

Liverpool

How did they get on in the group stage?

Had it not been for PSG, they would have set a new record for goals scored in the group phase.

Two 7-0 victories against Maribor and Spartak Moscow contributed handsomely to their tally of 23 – PSG scored 25 – and they were at times unplayable, a joy to watch.

However, while they went through as unbeaten group winners, they failed to beat Sevilla over two games, the one quality opponent they faced.

Which of their stars will Europe's elite be most worried about?

Philippe Coutinho. You get the impression he might just have a little extra motivation to perform on the European stage this season as he tries to keep alive Barcelona's interest in him.

His hat-trick against Spartak this week was evidence enough of that and he is starting to find his rhythm after a slow start to the season.

Philippe Coutinho scored a hat-trick as Liverpool scored seven against Spartak MoscowPhilippe Coutinho scored a hat-trick as Liverpool scored seven against Spartak Moscow

Philippe Coutinho scored a hat-trick as Liverpool scored seven against Spartak Moscow

Liverpool topped Group E ahead of Sevilla, Spartak Moscow and MariborLiverpool topped Group E ahead of Sevilla, Spartak Moscow and Maribor

Liverpool topped Group E ahead of Sevilla, Spartak Moscow and Maribor

What's their recent pedigree in the Champions League?

If we're talking the past five years or so, they don't have any. They crashed out at the group stage in 2014-15 and not since 2009 have they progressed beyond that first phase, when they were beaten in the quarter-finals by Chelsea.

However, between 2005 and 2008 they were winners, runners-up and semi-finalists.

What will be the weaknesses rivals will try and exploit?

Watch the second-half away at Sevilla – they led 3-0 at the break only to draw 3-3 – and you'll have your answer.

You fear that the very best teams could tear Liverpool to pieces at the back, thus rendering redundant their brilliant attacking quartet of Coutinho, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah.

Rate their chances out of 10…

6/10. They can beat anyone on those European nights under the lights at Anfield and, given how dangerous their offensive unit is, there is always a chance that they could simply out-score the opposition, even if it is 10-9 over two legs!

Liverpool's frailties were exposed again when they sacrificed a three-goal lead away to SevillaLiverpool's frailties were exposed again when they sacrificed a three-goal lead away to Sevilla

Liverpool's frailties were exposed again when they sacrificed a three-goal lead away to Sevilla

Manchester City

How did they get on in the group stage?

They cruised through, winning the first five only to suffer defeat at Shakhtar Donetsk this week. Pep Guardiola says that loss is a good thing, and perhaps he is right, for at least it guards against complacency heading into the knockout rounds.

Their 6-3 aggregate score against Napoli was impressive and bodes well for the next stage.

Which of their stars will Europe's elite be most worried about?

Kevin de Bruyne. Europe's top clubs only have to watch the Premier League highlights package on a weekly basis to realise the frightening level of form he has produced this season.

The Belgian is at the top of his game and performing on a different level to anyone in our league right now.

Kevin de Bruyne has elevated his game to a whole new level for Manchester City this seasonKevin de Bruyne has elevated his game to a whole new level for Manchester City this season

Kevin de Bruyne has elevated his game to a whole new level for Manchester City this season

Manchester City won five of their six group matches to finish first in Group FManchester City won five of their six group matches to finish first in Group F

Manchester City won five of their six group matches to finish first in Group F

What's their recent pedigree in the Champions League?

They were semi-finalists in 2016 – losing to eventual winners Real Madrid – but that apart they have failed to make it past the Round of 16.

Twice they have met Barcelona there and, while that is unfortunate, it also an upshot of not winning your group.

What will be the weaknesses rivals will try and exploit?

Inexperience in the latter rounds. They were naive against Monaco last season and allowed them to score three away goals, which eventually proved their undoing.

They'll need to be a little more street smart this time around. After all, a 1-0 home win is worth more than a 4-3 thriller.

Rate their chances out of 10…

8/10. Just look at what they're doing in the Premier League for evidence as to why this could be their time in Europe.

Guardiola can add the Champions League know-how to a brilliant group of players and anything less than the semi-finals will be a major disappointment.

Sergio Aguero celebrates with Raheem Sterling after scoring in their 4-2 win over NapoliSergio Aguero celebrates with Raheem Sterling after scoring in their 4-2 win over Napoli

Sergio Aguero celebrates with Raheem Sterling after scoring in their 4-2 win over Napoli

Manchester United

How did they get on in the group stage?

Five wins, one defeat, group winners. That's job done for Jose Mourinho without being overly-flashy, although a 4-1 at CSKA Moscow was an impressive highlight.

Which of their stars will Europe's elite be most worried about?

Paul Pogba. Some of his play in the come-from-behind win over CSKA this week was spell-binding. Questions remain over his discipline and understanding of the central-midfield position, but on his day he can dictate and decide any football match.

Paul Pogba has been exceptional in his performances for Manchester United this seasonPaul Pogba has been exceptional in his performances for Manchester United this season

Paul Pogba has been exceptional in his performances for Manchester United this season

Manchester United also won five of their six group matches to make the knockout roundsManchester United also won five of their six group matches to make the knockout rounds

Manchester United also won five of their six group matches to make the knockout rounds

What's their recent pedigree in the Champions League?

Since losing to Barcelona under Sir Alex Ferguson in the final in 2011, they have just one last-16 and one quarter-final appearance to their name. It is a poor return for a club with such a rich European pedigree.

What will be the weaknesses rivals will try and exploit?

While Pogba is perhaps United's best player, he is also a likely target of wily opponents, be that in winding him up or in attempting to expose his defensive shortcomings.

Rate their chances out of 10…

7.5/10. Mourinho is such an asset when it comes to these two-legged ties and, don't forget, he guided them to victory in the Europa League last season.

Don't be surprised to see them spoil their way to another final under his pragmatic management.

Romelu Lukaku scored in Manchester United's 4-1 win away to CSKA Moscow in SeptemberRomelu Lukaku scored in Manchester United's 4-1 win away to CSKA Moscow in September

Romelu Lukaku scored in Manchester United's 4-1 win away to CSKA Moscow in September

Tottenham Hotspur

How did they get on in the group stage?

They were, quite simply, brilliant. Very few expected them to progress when they were drawn against Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund.

So to go through as group winners is a mighty achievement and has put down a marker to the rest of Europe, who would have no doubt taken note of those 3-1 victories over Real and Borussia at Wembley.

Which of their stars will Europe's elite be most worried about?

Harry Kane. He has proved he can score goals against the very best and nothing seems to faze England's No.1 striker.

Harry Kane's prolific scoring will be key to Tottenham's chances in the Champions LeagueHarry Kane's prolific scoring will be key to Tottenham's chances in the Champions League

Harry Kane's prolific scoring will be key to Tottenham's chances in the Champions League

Tottenham finished top of a tricky group that contained Real Madrid and Borussia DortmundTottenham finished top of a tricky group that contained Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund

Tottenham finished top of a tricky group that contained Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund

What's their recent pedigree in the Champions League?

One quarter-final in 2011 is their only time beyond the first stage and, for this group of players, this is new territory.

What will be the weaknesses rivals will try and exploit?

It is a difficult one to answer because, in Europe, they have shown none of the weaknesses which exist in the Premier League.

If anything, they raise their game for this continental competition. Inexperience, though, remains the obvious danger – will they have the cunning to negotiate two-legged ties?

Rate their chances out of 10…

7/10. You cannot ignore what they have done in the group stage and perhaps Wembley is the perfect setting to bring the best out of these players on the big European nights.

The likes of Kane, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen will relish this stage and they'll be aiming for the last four at least.

Dele Alli jumps for joy after scoring in Tottenham's 3-1 win over Real Madrid at Wembley Dele Alli jumps for joy after scoring in Tottenham's 3-1 win over Real Madrid at Wembley 

Dele Alli jumps for joy after scoring in Tottenham's 3-1 win over Real Madrid at Wembley

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Australia: Scott Morrison saga casts scrutiny on Queen’s representative

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In the past fortnight, Australia has been gripped by revelations that former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison secretly appointed himself to several additional ministries.

The move has been labelled a “power grab” by his successor as prime minister, and Mr Morrison has been scolded by many – even his own colleagues.

But the scandal has also dragged Australia’s governor-general into the fray – sparking one of the biggest controversies involving the Queen’s representative in Australia in 50 years.

So does Governor-General David Hurley have questions to answer, or is he just collateral damage?

‘Just paperwork’

Governors-general have fulfilled the practical duties as Australia’s head of state since the country’s 1901 federation.

Candidates for the role were initially chosen by the monarch but are now recommended by the Australian government.

The job is largely ceremonial – a governor-general in almost every circumstance must act on the advice of the government of the day. But conventions allow them the right to “encourage” and “warn” politicians.

Key duties include signing bills into law, issuing writs for elections, and swearing in ministers.

Mr Hurley has run into trouble on the latter. At Mr Morrison’s request, he swore the prime minister in as joint minister for health in March 2020, in case the existing minister became incapacitated by Covid.

Over the next 14 months, he also signed off Mr Morrison as an additional minister in the finance, treasury, home affairs and resources portfolios.

Mr Morrison already had ministerial powers, so Mr Hurley was basically just giving him authority over extra departments.

It’s a request the governor-general “would not have any kind of power to override or reject”, constitutional law professor Anne Twomey tells the BBC.

“This wasn’t even a meeting between the prime minister and the governor-general, it was just paperwork.”

But Mr Morrison’s appointments were not publicly announced, disclosed to the parliament, or even communicated to most of the ministers he was job-sharing with.

Australia’s solicitor-general found Mr Morrison’s actions were not illegal but had “fundamentally undermined” responsible government.

But the governor-general had done the right thing, the solicitor-general said in his advice this week.

It would have been “a clear breach” for him to refuse the prime minister, regardless of whether he knew the appointments would be kept secret, Stephen Donaghue said.

Critics push for investigation

Ultimately, Mr Hurley had to sign off on Mr Morrison’s requests, but critics say he could have counselled him against it and he could have publicised it himself.

But representatives for the governor-general say these types of appointments – giving ministers the right to administer other departments – are not unusual.

And it falls to the government of the day to decide if they should be announced to the public. They often opt not to.

Mr Hurley himself announcing the appointments would be unprecedented. He had “no reason to believe that appointments would not be communicated”, his spokesperson said.

Emeritus professor Jenny Hocking finds the suggestion Mr Hurley didn’t know the ministries had been kept secret “ridiculous”.

“The last of these bizarre, duplicated ministry appointments… were made more than a year after the first, so clearly by then the governor-general did know that they weren’t being made public,” she says.

“I don’t agree for a moment that the governor-general has a lot of things on his plate and might not have noticed.”

The historian says it’s one of the biggest controversies surrounding a governor-general since John Kerr caused a constitutional crisis by sacking Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in 1975.

Prof Hocking famously fought for transparency around that matter – waging a lengthy and costly legal battle that culminated in the release of Mr Kerr’s correspondence with the Queen.

And she says the same transparency is needed here.

The Australian public need to know whether Mr Hurley counselled the prime minister against the moves, and why he didn’t disclose them

The government has already announced an inquiry into Mr Morrison’s actions, but she wants it to look at the governor-general and his office too.

“If the inquiry is to find out what happened in order to fix what happened, it would be extremely problematic to leave out a key part of that equation.”

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – Mr Morrison’s predecessor – has also voiced support for an inquiry.

“Something has gone seriously wrong at Government House,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“It is the passive compliance along the chain… that did undermine our constitution and our democracy… that troubles me the most. This is how tyranny gets under way.”

PM defends governor-general

Prof Twomey says the criticism of Mr Hurley is unfair – there’s was no “conspiracy” on his part to keep things secret.

“I don’t think it’s reasonable for anyone to expect that he could have guessed that the prime minister was keeping things secret from his own ministers, for example.

“Nobody really thought that was a possibility until about two weeks ago.”

Even if he had taken the unprecedented step to publicise the appointments or to reject Mr Morrison’s request, he’d have been criticised, she says.

“There’d be even more people saying ‘how outrageous!'” she says. “The role of governor-general is awkward because people are going to attack you either way.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has also defended Mr Hurley, saying he was just doing his job.

“I have no intention of undertaking any criticism of [him].”

A role fit for purpose?

Prof Hocking says it’s a timely moment to look at the role of the governor-general more broadly.

She points out it’s possible the Queen may have been informed about Mr Morrison’s extra ministries when Australia’s parliament and people were not.

“It does raise questions about whether this is fit for purpose, as we have for decades been a fully independent nation, but we still have… ‘the relics of colonialism’ alive and well.”

Momentum for a fresh referendum on an Australian republic has been growing and advocates have seized on the controversy.

“The idea that the Queen and her representative can be relied upon to uphold our system of government has been debunked once and for all,” the Australian Republic Movement’s Sandy Biar says.

“It’s time we had an Australian head of state, chosen by Australians and accountable to them to safeguard and uphold Australia’s constitution.”

But Prof Twomey says republicans are “clutching at straws” – under their proposals, the head of state would also have been bound to follow the prime minister’s advice.

“It wouldn’t result in any changes that would have made one iota of difference.”

 

Read from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-62683210

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Australia election: PM Morrison’s security team in car crash in Tasmania

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A car carrying the Australian prime minister’s security team has crashed in Tasmania during an election campaign visit.

Four police officers were taken to hospital with “non-life threatening injuries” after the car and another vehicle collided, authorities said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was not in the car, but the accident prompted him to cancel the rest of his campaign events on Thursday.

The other driver involved was not hurt.

Tasmania Police said initial investigations suggested the second car had “collided with the rear of the police vehicle, while attempting to merge”. It caused the unmarked security vehicle to roll off the road.

The two Tasmania Police officers and two Australian Federal Police officers were conscious when taken to hospital for medical assessment, the prime minister’s office said.

“Family members of the officers have been contacted and are being kept informed of their condition,” a statement said.

“The PM is always extremely grateful for the protection provided by his security team and extends his best wishes for their recovery and to their families.”

Australians go to the polls on 21 May. Mr Morrison – prime minister since 2018 – is hoping to win his conservative coalition’s fourth term in office.

Polls suggest the opposition Labor Party, led by Anthony Albanese, is favoured to win. However, Mr Morrison defied similar polling to claim victory at the last election in 2019.

Mr Morrison’s Liberal-National coalition holds 76 seats in the House of Representatives – the minimum needed to retain power.

Political observers say the cost of living, climate change, trust in political leaders, and national security will be among key issues in the campaign.

In recent weeks, the prime minister has faced accusations of being a bully and once sabotaging a rival’s career by suggesting the man’s Lebanese heritage made him less electable. Mr Morrison has denied the allegations.

Mr Albanese stumbled into his own controversy this week when he failed to recall the nation’s unemployment or interest rates.

Read from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-61103987

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Sydney airport warns delays could last weeks on third day of travel chaos

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Long queues at Sydney airport’s domestic terminals have continued for a third day, with some passengers missing international connections, as the airport warns delays resulting from a surge in travellers and a shortfall in security staff could continue for weeks.

Chaotic scenes were reported in the departure halls as early as 4.30am on Saturday, with some frustrated travellers, many of whom heeded the pleas of airport chiefs to arrive at least two hours before their domestic flight was due to take off, claiming only one security line was operating.

While the queues that formed early on Saturday are understood to have cleared later in the morning, the airport apologised to affected travellers.

“Traffic numbers are picking up and the close contact rules are making it hard to fill shifts and staff the airport. We appreciate your patience,” Sydney airport said on its Twitter account.

A wave of families travelling as the term two school holidays begin this weekend, combined with close contact rules that are understood to be taking out about 20% of security shifts in any given day, are driving the problem.

Certis, the company that Sydney airport contracts for its security operations, is desperately trying to recruit personnel, while the airport has reallocated back office, IT and retail workers to the departure hall to comb queues so they can prioritise passengers at risk of missing their flight.

“We are working around the clock to resolve these issues and have teams in the terminals bringing passengers forward in order of priority,” a Sydney airport spokesperson said.

He added that the airport is “anticipating it will [be] busy right through the school holiday period and peak over the Easter and Anzac Day weekends, in some cases at 90% of pre-Covid passenger levels”.

“We’re deeply grateful to passengers for their ongoing patience and we’re sorry to everyone who has been inconvenienced,” the spokesperson said. “We would also like to thank passengers for getting to the airport early and treating staff and each other with kindness and respect.”

The Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce was forced to clarify comments he made on Friday that passengers were “not match fit” and that those forgetting to remove laptops and aerosols from their bags at the security check contributing to the delays.

“Just to be clear, I’m not ‘blaming’ passengers,” Joyce said. “Of course it’s not their fault,” he said.

Qantas shed thousands of staff during the pandemic, and outsourced ground crews in a decision that was challenged in court.

On Saturday, Qantas also apologised to a Melbourne family left stranded in Sydney, after domestic flight delays caused them to miss an international trip.

Javiera Martinez, her partner Daniel Capurro and their three children were supposed to be flying to Chile on Friday to visit relatives they had not seen in three years.

But after their 8am Qantas flight from Melbourne was delayed by half an hour, baggage handling and airport transfer delays in Sydney meant they couldn’t make their 11.30am LATAM Airlines flight to Santiago.

Martinez said the airline’s procedures at the airport were chaotic.

“We think Qantas didn’t behave appropriately. I got berated by the person at the counter – they never apologised, they never assumed any responsibility at all,” she said. “It was a rude conversation. We have been mistreated badly I would say.”

The PCR tests they need to travel have now expired and they will have to take them again as they wait for seats on the next flight to Santiago from Sunday.

The airline has apologised and paid for a night’s accommodation in Sydney.

“We sincerely apologise that the family missed their connecting flight on another airline due to delays moving through Sydney airport on Friday,” a Qantas spokesperson said.

The family is among many affected by hold ups amid the busiest travel period in two years, with Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane airports warning passengers to arrive two hours before domestic flights.

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