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Zidane much more than smiling motivator as Real close on title

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Zinedine Zidane risked tarnishing his record by diving back into the Real Madrid job 10 mont..

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Zinedine Zidane risked tarnishing his record by diving back into the Real Madrid job 10 months after resigning, but in taking the team to the brink of winning the La Liga title in his first full season back, he has proved the perfect man for the job.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football – La Liga Santander – Real Madrid v Getafe – Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium, Madrid, Spain – July 2, 2020 Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) REUTERS/Sergio Perez/File Photo

16 Jul 2020 02:00AM

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MADRID: Zinedine Zidane risked tarnishing his record by diving back into the Real Madrid job 10 months after resigning, but in taking the team to the brink of winning the La Liga title in his first full season back, he has proved the perfect man for the job.

If his side beat Villarreal at home on Thursday it would be their 10th consecutive win since the coronavirus stoppage and would seal the club's 34th league title, their first since 2017 when Zidane was also in charge.

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In spite of a remarkable record of nine trophies in his first spell with Real including three consecutive Champions League crowns, Zidane was still often dismissed by some as little more than a smiling motivator.

He has been referred to in the Spanish media as an "alineador", doing little more than picking a starting 11 from one of the world's most talented squads.

His success has also often been put down to being blessed with good fortune.

But this season Zidane has proved to be a superb manager in every sense.

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Key to the team's success has been the bolstering of the defence, which let in 46 goals last season under Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari, before Zidane was persuaded to make a shock comeback in March 2019.

Real continued to look shaky in defence as they shipped six goals in their first four matches this season, but they responded by keeping 10 clean sheets in their next 10.

Their defence has got even better since the coronavirus stoppage, conceding three goals in nine matches and keeping five consecutive clean sheets for the first time since 2008.

They now boast the best defensive record in Europe.

"Even as someone who prefers to play exciting attacking football, the defensive aspect is the most important thing right now," Zidane said.

"And we have a big advantage in that we have a great defence but above all, every player is committed to what we are doing. Defending is not about four or five players, it's down to everyone."

OVERCOMING OBSTACLES

The coach has also overcome a series of obstacles.

He was in deep trouble when his side were thrashed 3-0 by Paris St Germain in September then beRead More – Source

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Lionel Messi scored two goals as Barcelona beat Getafe to climb to third in the La Liga table, two points behind second-placed Real Madrid.

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Messi broke the deadlock before lowly Getafe equalised through Clement Lenglet’s own goal.

A mix-up between Sofian Chakla and keeper David Soria restored Barca’s lead and Messi made it 3-1.

Enes Unal’s penalty gave Getafe hope but goals by Ronald Araujo and Antoine Griezmann sealed the points.

Barcelona are five points behind leaders Atletico Madrid, who they host on 8 May, but have one game in hand.

Earlier in the day, Barca issued a statement about signing up to the European Super League, stating it was a “historic opportunity” to guarantee football’s financial sustainability.

On the pitch, Ronald Koeman’s side turned on the style in an incident-packed first half which saw Messi hit the bar and the post for the 2021 Copa del Rey winners.

However, they struggled after half-time and lived dangerously until late goals by substitute Araujo and Griezmann, from the penalty spot, secured the win.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/56848120

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Frenchman Yannick Bestaven clinches Vendée Globe solo round-the-world race in dramatic finish

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France’s Yannick Bestaven was crowned the winner of the Vendée Globe round-the-world solo yacht race on early Thursday morning after 80 days at sea.

The race concluded in dramatic fashion when competitor Boris Hermann collided with a fishing trawler on the home straight 160 km from port.

Frenchman Charlie Dalin was the first to cross the finish line first off Les Sables d’Olonne, western France, on Wednesday evening at 8.35 pm CET, surrounded by an armada of boats that glittered in red, green and blue.

The 36-year-old, who led the ranking for more than half of the course aboard his latest generation flying boat, had to wait to see if he would be declared the winner of the 2020 Vendée Globe.

France’s Yannick Bestaven was crowned the winner of the Vendée Globe round-the-world solo yacht race on early Thursday morning after 80 days at sea.

The race concluded in dramatic fashion when competitor Boris Hermann collided with a fishing trawler on the home straight 160 km from port.

Frenchman Charlie Dalin was the first to cross the finish line first off Les Sables d’Olonne, western France, on Wednesday evening at 8.35 pm CET, surrounded by an armada of boats that glittered in red, green and blue.

The 36-year-old, who led the ranking for more than half of the course aboard his latest generation flying boat, had to wait to see if he would be declared the winner of the 2020 Vendée Globe.

Two other competitors, the German Herrmann, who arrived third, and Bestaven, who came in fifth, also crossed the line were also in contention for the race.

Both skippers had time compensation in hand for helping to rescue competitor, Kevin Escoffier, whose yacht sank in heavy seas off Cape Horn on November 30.

These bonuses – six hours for Herrmann and 10 hours and 15 minutes for Bestaven – could only be taken into account once the line had been crossed.

This was Bestaven’s second attempt after he lasted just 30 hours in 2008. The 48-year-old, from La Rochelle, finished eight hours behind leader Dalin but snatched victory thanks to his time bonus.

“We go from total solitude to this party, these lights, these people who are there despite the complicated context,” Bestaven said after his victory.

“It’s a joy, I don’t realise yet what’s happening, I’m still in my race, even though it’s over. It’s a child’s dream come true.”

Dalin, who finished in 80 days, six hours, 15 minutes and 47 seconds – officially placed second followed by fellow Frenchman Louis Burton, who crossed the finish line second four hours later but came third overall.

Greeted by 300 volunteers, Dalin said: “For sure it has changed me, I don’t know in what way yet… it’s so many emotions, it’s incredible emotions, it’s emotions of a strength that I had never felt before…”

Third-placed Burton said: “It’s a great joy, a great pride to be among the first to cross this finish line. (It is) seven days less than four years ago [when he finished 7th], 75 days more than eight years ago because I had given up after five days”.

Read from source: https://www.euronews.com/2021/01/28/frenchman-yannick-bestaven-clinches-vendee-globe-solo-round-the-world-race-in-dramatic-fin

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Football for Friendship keeps the ball running online

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Educating young generations goes beyond the classroom. But inspiring in children and teenagers the moral values that will guide them in their professional and personal lives is not always straightforward. Parents and educators have often nudged young people into playing team games, which have been recognised as effective tools to help them acquire important values while enjoying themselves.

For the last eight years, the Football for Friendship (F4F) platform has helped young people from across the world get together, share their love for football, and in the process acquire important ethical values, focusing on friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, traditions, and honour, the building blocks of the F4F project.

In 2020, the social restrictions across the world that halted real-life football matches did not stop F4F, with over one million users taking part in this eighth season. The programme launched a new online game, F4F World, allowing young people to play football with peers anywhere. The game gives children the option of being players, coaches, or fans, and each role comes with different responsibilities and tasks. Players can apply to join their teams of choice, and as they advance in the game, they can become coaches, select other players, and set up their own team. The first F4F eWorld Championship brought together 32 teams of young players from 104 countries on the F4F World football simulator.

The game, available to download since early December, has received thumbs-up from many young players who praised how it connects players around the world, its availability on mobile and PC and the originality of its gameplay and character creation.

The online game keeping young people engaged with football throughout lockdowns, time away from school, and restricted social lives can help them maintain and build new connections with many other football afficionados from different cultures and backgrounds, while still strengthening their football skills away from the turf.

The variety of roles children and teenagers can choose from, the interactions needed to build teams, select players, engage with coaches and be part of the community provide a fertile ground for creating new friendships around their common passions for football.

An Online International Friendship Camp involves famous football players and F4F ambassadors that engage young people in team-building games and workshops that do not account for age, gender, nationality, race, or physical abilities. “Football for Friendship is a programme that brings together truly talented and motivated kids who are in love with football, giving them the opportunity to develop, learn more about each other and find new friends in other countries,” says Roberto Carlos, F4F Global Ambassador. “Many young football players all over the world dream of getting into Football for Friendship, and the universal human values promoted by the programme are really important for the children, for their future.”

The end of the season also brought for F4F the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title for the Most users on a football/soccer video hangout, with a 2.5-hour master class with live video feeds from France, Brazil, Russia, Uruguay, Pakistan, Ireland, Cyprus, Peru, India, Guyana and Spain being organized for children from over 100 countries.

By learning and following the rules of F4F World, young players also become more responsible for their online behaviour; and while football itself teaches fair play, engaging in games and trainings with other children and teenagers, as well as with coaches from different cultural backgrounds, races, and beliefs encourages participants to be fair and treat everyone equally and honourably.

Beyond practical skills, F4F and in particular, the new online game, helps young people remain motivated to win, devoted to the game and to their teams, and continue a traditional game even through difficult social and economic times.

Read from source: https://www.euronews.com/2021/01/22/football-for-friendship-keeps-the-ball-running-online

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