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Enthralling encounter shows Leeds’ qualities as Marcelo Bielsa’s side compete admirably

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enthralling encounter shows leeds qualities as marcelo bielsas side compete admirably

The talk before it all had been of tactical masterplans and the game’s two grand masters, though what evolved was something beyond any such definition: a wild, indefinable, beautiful kind of football. 

Total football in the purest sense and yet another example of how Leeds’ ambition scrambles the minds of the Premier League’s best and take this sport to new levels. 

It hadn’t seemed likely to turn out that way. There was a heavy significance about Pep Guardiola affording Marcelo Bielsa such minimal eye contact when they finally stood face-to-face in the sheeting Yorkshire rain. 

Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds demonstrated their qualities in the 1-1 draw versus Manchester City

Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds demonstrated their qualities in the 1-1 draw versus Manchester City

Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds demonstrated their qualities in the 1-1 draw versus Manchester City

Bielsa had talked of his so-called protege’s ‘imagination’ as a ‘creator of solutions’ and sure enough, the Spaniard came with a bespoke strategy, strangling the life out of Kalvin Phillips, Leeds’ creative fulcrum at Anfield three weeks ago. 

Phillips was so busy trying to wrest himself free of Kevin de Bruyne, Phil Foden and Riyadh Mahrez and find the smallest square of turf to work with that finding the pass to break Manchester City’s defensive lines was not even a part of the equation.  

The Bielsa Anfield strategy of playing five players up high and capitalising on an opponent’s high line high only works if you can locate that quintet. 

But when Phillips is being burgled by de Bruyne, allowing City to race ahead, it’s a long chase back. For half an hour, there was not a Leeds midfield to speak of. 

Leeds were initially overwhelmed but they responded to compete with Pep Guardiola's team

Leeds were initially overwhelmed but they responded to compete with Pep Guardiola's team

Leeds were initially overwhelmed but they responded to compete with Pep Guardiola’s team

They were overwhelmed. You feared for them as City’s world stars worked the one-on-ones, setting Sterling, a phenomenally motivated de Bruyne and Mahrez at their backline, their passes ripping across the slick and sodden turf. 

Bielsa will have told his players that perfection is required when you are up against a challenge like this. The two loose passes Ilan Meslier played out from defence in the first half became moments of immediate danger. 

When Liam Cooper, attempting to recover one of those situations, managed only minimal contact, Sterling pounced and put City ahead. Bielsa went into that crouch of his, hands clenched, a picture of mental implosion as he crouched ten yards from Guardiola.     

It generally goes that City score again and that the game dies a death when promoted clubs are up against something like this, though it is what happened next – and keeps happening next – which makes the Leeds United story so compelling. 

Bielsa's decision to bring on Ian Poveda at half time provided Leeds with an extra edge

Bielsa's decision to bring on Ian Poveda at half time provided Leeds with an extra edge

Bielsa’s decision to bring on Ian Poveda at half time provided Leeds with an extra edge

They did not flinch. Gradually, they rediscovered the rapid, razor sharp, one-touch passing combinations – right to left – that Liverpool learned all about. Mateusz Klich, one of the stand-out competitors in these early weeks, worked the usual angles with Helder Costa. 

Suddenly Phil Foden’s fancy flicks were looking foolish and Benjamin Mendy was looking like another of those City defenders who simply are not worth the money. Mendy’s clumsy attempt to control in front of his own area just before half-time – echoes of Virgil van Dijk at Anfield – so nearly allowed the enterprising Luke Ayling in.

Mateusz Klich played a key part as Leeds managed to work their way back into the game

Mateusz Klich played a key part as Leeds managed to work their way back into the game

Mateusz Klich played a key part as Leeds managed to work their way back into the game

But it was Bielsa’s half-time change of personnel – Ian Povedo for Ezgan Alioki – which took things up a notch, demonstrating in the process how he is making hay with Guardiola’s cast-offs. 

Ian Poveda, recruited by CIty from the Brentford talent machine four years ago, has not had a sniff of a start at the club, much like Jack Harrison. But you wondered where on earth Guardiola’s curiosity and powers of appreciation had been, as the 20-year-old ran at Mendy, creating a new attacking flank after the break.

Rodrigo scored as the summer signing provided the first hint of what he can offer his side

Rodrigo scored as the summer signing provided the first hint of what he can offer his side

Rodrigo scored as the summer signing provided the first hint of what he can offer his side

It was Poveda who set up another of those right to left moves which concluded with an Ederson finger- tip save around the hour mark. It was no coincidence that Rodrigo, Bielsa’s 55th minute substitute, seized on Ederson’s error to score. He provided the first hint of what the club’s big signing might have in store.

Leeds covered huge ground, jumping positions, chasing every ball, refusing to be passive, drawing Guardiola’s players out of position yet, in turn, yet allowing them the space to attack into. 

It was Anfield revisited, though with a Leeds defence that actually looked more robust than it had in the season’s opening weeks. A far better night for Robin Koch, the new centre. A very good night for Luke Ayling.

In another time, at another place, this might have seemed like two points dropped for City, though at the end of it all Guardiola seemed to rejoice. He knew he had just witnessed something special.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Will Cristiano Ronaldo play against Barcelona and Lionel Messi and what was the result of his coronavirus test?

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will cristiano ronaldo play against barcelona and lionel messi and what was the result of his coronavirus test scaled

CRISTIANO RONALDO’S return for Juventus will not happen against Barcelona after he received the results of a THIRD Covid-19 test.

Ronaldo sat out the 1-1 draw with Hellas Verona on Sunday after being told to self isolate because of a positive coronavirus test while on international duty.

Cristiano Ronaldo missed the 2-0 win at Dynamo Kiev in Juventus' opening Champions League tie

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Cristiano Ronaldo missed the 2-0 win at Dynamo Kiev in Juventus’ opening Champions League tieCredit: Icon Sport – Getty

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner was also unable to face Dynamo Kiev last Tuesday.

Why isn’t Cristiano Ronaldo playing for Juventus?

Ronaldo played for Portugal in their draw with France during the international break and was expected to feature against Sweden.

But the former Man Utd and Real Madrid star returned a positive test for Covid-19 and left Portugal’s training camp.

He is currently self isolating and has reportedly displayed no symptoms.

It has also been revealed Ronaldo has been sleeping separately from partner Georgina Rodriguez and his four children while isolating.

VP GRAPHIC RONALDO VS MESSI v2

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Superstar Cristiano Ronaldo posted a picture on Instagram of him relaxing by his pool during isolation

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Superstar Cristiano Ronaldo posted a picture on Instagram of him relaxing by his pool during isolationCredit: instagram.com/cristiano

Ronaldo travelled from Portugal to Turin on a private air ambulance – but hit back at suggestions he’s broken protocol in the process.

CR7 said: “I did not break any protocol.

“They’re saying that I broke Italian laws but it’s all a lie.

“I spoke with my team and we have the responsibility to do things right.

“Everything was done with authorisation. Principally for the Italian man (Italian sports minister Vincenzo Spadaforo) whose name I’m not going to say, it’s a lie, I abided by all the protocols.”

When will he return to action?

Cristiano Ronaldo’s long-awaited reunion with Barcelona and Lionel Messi will not take place after his third coronavirus test came back positive on Tuesday night – 24 hours before the match.

After testing positive again, he is now likely to make his Juventus return at Spezia on November 1.

Juve boss Andrea Pirlo said on Saturday: “As far as Cristiano Ronaldo is concerned, there has been no news. We await the results of the swabs.

“We did them this morning. He underwent the test at his home and if there is new news it will be communicated.”

Cristiano Ronaldo returns to Italy after testing positive for coronavirus

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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Dustin Poirier ‘has to’ fight for vacant UFC lightweight title if Khabib remains retired, says Nurmagomedov’s trainer

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dustin poirier has to fight for vacant ufc lightweight title if khabib remains retired says nurmagomedovs trainer scaled

KHABIB NURMAGOMEDOV’S trainer has backed Dustin Poirier to fight for the vacant lightweight title if the UFC champion remains retired.

Nurmagomedov left the division up in the air after announcing he will walk away following his win against Justin Gaethje at UFC 254.

Khabib Nurmagomedov announced his retirement after UFC 254

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Khabib Nurmagomedov announced his retirement after UFC 254Credit: Getty Images – Getty
Khabib's trainer says Dustin Poirier should be next in line for the title shot

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Khabib’s trainer says Dustin Poirier should be next in line for the title shot Credit: Getty Images – Getty

But his trainer Javier Mendez believes Poirier – who lost to Khabib last year as the interim champion – is deserving of the next shot.

Mendez told SunSport: “If Khabib is in fact done, then I think Dustin should fight for the title, based on what he’s done.

“After Dustin fought Khabib he got back in with a super tough and highly rated Dan Hooker. He earned that spot.”

Poirier, 31, was submitted by Nurmagomedov, 32, in September 2019, but bounced back in a Fight of the Night against Hooker, 30, this June.

He is currently in talks to rematch McGregor – who he lost to in 2014 – but a deal is yet to be agreed.

Irishman McGregor has not fought since January, when he stepped up to welterweight, knocking out Donald Cerrone, 37, in 40 seconds.

The 32-year-old has not fought at lightweight since losing against Nurmagomedov in 2018, last winning at 155lb in 2016.

But if the UFC reach a deal with him to return next year to face Poirier, he could walk straight into a title shot.

Conor McGregor is in line to return to the UFC next year

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Conor McGregor is in line to return to the UFC next year Credit: Getty Images – Getty

It comes as Mendez insists Poirier ‘has to’ fight for the belt if Nurmagomedov vacates – with Gaethje and fellow contender Tony Ferguson both coming off a loss.

He said: “Conor loses to Khabib, he then fights Cowboy Cerrone at 170lb and Cowboy wasn’t a top dog anymore, he’s a superstar but not a top five guy.

“Tony gets smashed by Justin, then Justin gets smashed by Khabib, so who’s the only guy that’s come back on track? Dustin.

“If Khabib is retired, and I say if because I’m not 100 per cent, I’d say it’s Dustin against anybody in the top five.

“It has to be Dustin, you cannot have a title fight without using Dustin as the challenger, in my opinion.”

Daniel Cormier calls for Justin Gaethje to face Dustin Poirier for vacant UFC lightweight belt

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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Pierre Gasly commits F1 future to Alpha Tauri teams for next year after impressive year and debut GP win

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pierre gasly commits f1 future to alpha tauri teams for next year after impressive year and debut gp win scaled

PIERRE GASLY has agreed to stay with Alpha Tauri for the 2021 Formula One season.

The Frenchman has enjoyed a breakthrough campaign this time around, winning his first Grand Prix along the way.

Gasly, 24, won his first GP earlier this year

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Gasly, 24, won his first GP earlier this yearCredit: Getty Images – Getty

And he will remain on Red Bull’s second team for a third year.

The identity of his partner, however, is anyone’s guess – with Daniil Kvyat expected to be dropped.

Upon the announcement, Gasly, 24, said: “I’m extremely happy to continue with Scuderia Alpha Tauri for another season.

“This year is going very well, and we are on track to have our most successful season in the team’s history.

“I feel we have a very strong relationship, we have managed to take every opportunity that’s come our way, the best one at the Italian Grand Prix.

“Winning my first Formula One race in Monza was a very special moment for me, and it was made extra sweet to deliver a second win in the team’s history, so I’m very proud of that.

“I’ll do my maximum to push the team and take all my responsibility to bring it as far forward as I can.”

Gasly made his F1 debut in 2018 with Alpha Tauri, then known as Toro Rosso.

Having initially impressed, he was promoted to Red Bull’s main team alongside Max Verstappen.

But having struggled alongside the Belgian, he returned to Toro Rosso in a swap with Alexander Albon during the 2019 campaign.

Upon today’s news, team principal Franz Tost said: “Pierre has been part of the Red Bull driver pool for many years and I hope he will remain in the Red Bull family for many seasons ahead.

“Pierre has proven to be highly competitive also thanks to his great race craft, extracting the car’s potential at every race and giving valuable feedback to his engineers.”

As for Kvyat’s position, one leading contender is thought to be Japanese F2 star Yuki Tsunoda – while Albon could potentially be demoted.

Alex Albon could return to Alpha Tauri

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Alex Albon could return to Alpha TauriCredit: PA:Press Association
Mick Schumacher stands idol by his car as Eifel Grand Prix practice is axed due to shocking weather conditions

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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