Is defending making a comeback after the gung-ho attacking years?

Liverpool’s draw with Bayern followed a Champions League last-16 pattern so far – and the phenomenon runs deeperIt’s early days yet, of course. Nobody should be getting carried away. There’s plenty of time for the second legs or subsequent rounds to make a mockery of the thought but, after a few years in which the big clubs have treated caution as something laughably old-fashioned, a quaint affectation like a waxed moustache or a pocket-watch, might defending be making a comeback?There were no goals in Tuesday’s two Champions League ties. As yet, nobody has scored a goal in the first half of a Champions League knockout tie this season. Goals per game in the last 16 (with all the obvious caveats about sample size) are at less than two as opposed to five in the knockout phase last season. It’s as though the collective thought has gone round that after last season’s chaos of three-goal comebacks and nearly comebacks, getting the defence right is where teams can gain an edge. Continue reading...



Wales’s George North happy to win ‘ugly or pretty’ against England

Winger has been impressed by England’s performances in the Six Nations but believes Wales can meet the challenge‘It does not get any bigger than this” is a catchphrase of a television programme for aspirational cooks, but it will do at the Principality Stadium on Saturday when the ancient rivalry between Wales and England is seasoned by the prospect of the Six Nations title in World Cup year.A third successive victory in Cardiff would leave England needing to self-destruct to miss out on a third championship in four years under Eddie Jones with home fixtures against Italy and Scotland to follow, while Wales probably need to match Warren Gatland’s final year in charge with his first one and secure the grand slam. Continue reading...



Pep Guardiola: Newport were chanting 'Who are you?' It was nice – video

Pep Guardiola praised his Manchester City players, in particular Phil Foden, as they beat Newport County 4-1 to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.Newport had beaten both Leicester City and Middlesbrough on their way to the fifth round of the tournament, and contained the Premier League leaders well for significant spells of the game.  Continue reading...



Matija Nastasic: ‘I told Pellegrini it was better for everyone if I left City’

The defender’s career in Manchester ended in frustration but he has flourished at Schalke and is confident his current side can upset his old one in their Champions League meetingIt is with matter-of-fact delivery, rather than obvious emotion or regret, that Matija Nastasic recounts the meeting that in effect brought about his departure from Manchester City. He had made a rapid impact after arriving from Fiorentina as a 19-year-old in 2012 but, two and a half years on, had fallen off Manuel Pellegrini’s radar with no obvious explanation bar some niggling injuries he had long since overcome.“I was thinking a lot: ‘What is the problem?’” he says. “After some time I spoke with Pellegrini and he explained I had to wait for my chance. In the end there were not so many opportunities to play. There was no issue between us but I couldn’t understand why it was like that and told him that I felt I could help the team more, that I should have more playing time at that moment and that, if it was not possible at City, then it would be better for everybody that I changed club.” Continue reading...



Bury’s Ryan Lowe: ‘Jürgen Klopp complimented me on my style and system’

Manager has made his club one of the Football League’s most free-scoring sides – and a visit to Guardiola is in the diaryIf you were asked to guess the highest-scoring teams in the top four divisions, you would pick Manchester City straight away. Norwich would not take too long. A bit of thinking would lead you to Luton. But a team you might not get but are right up there with the most prolific in the land are Bury.The Shakers are the entertainers of League Two, with 85 goals in all competitions this season, playing with a gung-ho style that looks good fun but is probably not a relaxing watch for their supporters. Continue reading...



UFC great Georges St-Pierre to announce retirement from mixed martial arts

Two-division UFC champion to retire from mixed martial artsSt-Pierre, 37, was instrumental in sport’s ascent to mainstreamGeorges St-Pierre, one of the greatest and most popular MMA fighters of all time, is expected to announce his retirement on Thursday at a news conference in Montreal.RDS, a French-language sports network in Quebec, was first to report the news of St-Pierre’s decision to quit the sport he helped launch to widespread popularity. Continue reading...



Laura Muir: Scot's record-breaking spikes could be investigated

The spikes worn by Laura Muir while breaking the British indoor mile record will be investigated if complaints are made about them, athletics' governing body has said.



High school under scrutiny after cheerleaders given 'Big Boobie' and 'Big Booty' awards

Awards given out at ceremony attended by parents and coachesCoach in charge is still working at Wisconsin high school A cheerleading coach at a Wisconsin high school defended prizes given to her students that included the “Big Boobie Award” and the “Big Bootie Award”. The awards were given out at a banquet attended by more than 100 people, including parents at the school, according to the New York Times.At least four adults at the ceremony complained to Tremper High School about the awards, including parents and the school’s former track coach, Patti Hupp. “I feel that I need to tell you this for the protection of these girls,” Hupp wrote in an email to the school’s principal, adding it was easy to see “that this is extremely degrading to women.” When the Big Boobie award was handed out, the coach giving the prize said the girl in question risked concussion when she ran due to her “enormous boobs”. Continue reading...



Maurizio Sarri: I haven't spoken to Abramovich for three weeks – video

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri admitted he has not spoken with club owner Roman Abramovich since his side's record-breaking 6-0 loss to Manchester City – or for the weeks leading up to that result.The Italian has come under pressure after a string of poor results that has seen Chelsea slip to sixth in the league. Continue reading...



García, Kuchar and Holmes: three golfers out of touch with reality | Ewan Murray

Spaniard’s petulance, Kuchar’s thrifty touch and Holmes’s slow play sit uneasily with the public but Tiger Woods offers hopeThe World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship is an unlikely saviour for the sport. At the first staging of this tournament, in 2017, players and caddies were affected by sickness to such an extent that an emergency ward by the 18th green would have been a valid addition. The impact on last year was inevitable; Rory McIlroy gave the event a miss despite a $10m prize pot, as again did Jason Day. The tournament seen by many as a beacon of light, having prised WGC status away from the Donald Trump-owned Doral site in Miami, was floundering. Related: Fifty seconds for a one-foot putt: Is slow play killing golf? Continue reading...



Liverpool 0-0 Bayern Munich: Jurgen Klopp admits draw was 'not the game we dreamed of'

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp describes his side's 0-0 draw with Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie as "not perfect but good enough to work with".



Leroy Sane: How the Schalke schoolboy became a Premier League star at Manchester City

Leroy Sane's former teachers and coaches tell the story of his "amazing rise" from Schalke's youth academy to starring for Manchester City.