In-form Levante in the way as Barca look for unbeaten season

first_imgMadrid, May 12: FC Barcelona have to avoid defeat in just two more games in order to become the first Spanish side in history to go an entire season in the La Liga without tasting defeat.Ernesto Valverde takes the league champions down the east coast to Valencia on Sunday where they will face an in-form Levante in the Ciudad de Valencia stadium in a game which could be more complicated than many Barca fans may think, reports Xinhua news agency.Levante were fourth from bottom of the table when Paco Lopez replaced Juan Muniz as coach, but the former B-team coach has worked a minor miracle, winning 7 of the 9 games he has been in charge to steer the team to safety.Lopez has given confidence to the club’s more attacking players with Jose Luis Morales in outstanding form and midfielder Enis Bardhi a real danger from set pieces.Barcelona travel after beating Villarreal 5-1 in midweek in a game where they once again showed their threat in attack and where Ousmane Dembele finally began to show by the club which paid so much money to sign him last summer.Dembele scored Barca’s last two goals on the night and could keep his place in the starting 11, even though Luis Suarez will return after kicking off Wednesday on the subs’ bench.Sergi Roberto meanwhile will serve the second game of the four-game ban he was given by the Spanish Football Federation for the red card he saw in last Sunday’s ‘Clasico’ against Real Madrid.Sunday could also see January signing Yerry Mina given a chance to play as Samuel Umtiti has not recovered from the injury he suffered against Real Madrid, although whether Valverde will partner Mina with Thomas Vermaelen or Gerard Pique, who on Friday was in Madrid to watch the Mutua Madrid Open with Real Madrid players, Lucas Vazquez and Marco Arsenio is still to be decided. Barca aim to make history and for that reason Valverde will be demanding full concentration from his side on Sunday. IANSlast_img read more

Read More →

Boris Becker To Auction Trophies, Souvenirs To Pay Debt

first_imgLondon: In a move to clear off a major chunk of his debt, bankrupt German tennis legend Boris Becker has decided to auction his trophies and personal souvenirs online from Monday. Becker will conduct the online auction in association with British firm Wyles Hardy. According to reports, the tennis star is auctioning 82 items, which includes his medals, cups, watches and photographs. The sale will end on July 11, Wyles Hardy announced on its website. One of the trophies include a replica of a Challenge Cup, which was awarded to Boris Becker after his Wimbledon wins, and the three-quarter size replica of the Renshaw Cup presented after he became the youngest ever Grand Slam singles champion. Meanwhile, Becker’s Wimbledon finalist medal from 1990. IANS Also Read: Boris Becker appointed head of German men’s tennislast_img read more

Read More →

LA Dodgers, manager Don Mattingly part ways after 5 seasons

first_img“It was amicable. It was mutual,” Friedman said. “I appreciate the unusualness of this and how it sounds, but as much as you guys ask questions from different angles to us, to Donnie, it really is how it played out.”What we knowFor as little as each party said Thursday, they at least sketched the same general picture.After several days of what Mattingly called “open” and “honest” conversations with the Dodgers’ front office starting Friday — one day after the season ended — he flew home to Indiana on Monday still undecided about his next step.There was plenty to think about. Friedman said he was willing to extend Mattingly’s contract beyond 2016, though he didn’t say for how long. No formal offer was ever made. • PHOTOS: Don Mattingly and the Dodgers part waysZaidi said he expects the Dodgers will field a younger roster next year, a potentially significant change. The average age of the Dodgers’ hitters has ranked first, second or third oldest in the National League every year since Mattingly succeeded Joe Torre in 2011. The payroll figures to be lower, too, after tipping the scales around $300 million by the end of the season.“We decided to take a couple days to think about it, talk about it,” Friedman said. “We continued to have conversations about it and ultimately got to the point where this made the most sense for both sides.”“Some of that,” Zaidi said, “was hearing Donnie and his mindset. I think there was part of him that felt it was time for a fresh start.”“We were just talking about the club, the direction, and it just became clear,” Mattingly said.After five years, Mattingly sounded just as optimistic about the Dodgers’ future Thursday as ever. “They’re going to do great things,” he said, substituting “they” for “we” without a trace of effort.So why was this the best decision for both sides? No one would say.What we don’t knowMattingly clearly wants to manage again but is in no rush. He’ll get paid next year no matter what and couldn’t rule out spending a year away from the game. He would be plenty busy at home; his youngest son, Louis, turns 1 next month.But few envision it will take Mattingly long to find his next job, including Friedman.“He has a lot of very clear strengths for me,” Friedman said. “It’s not a question of if for me, it’s a question of when.”After rattling off some specific strengths — open-mindedness, earning the respect of the clubhouse — Friedman wouldn’t identify any of Mattingly’s weaknesses. And while the roster might be younger in 2016, Zaidi praised Mattingly’s approach with rookies Corey Seager, Joc Pederson and the youngsters in the Dodgers’ bullpen.“It wasn’t a job review thing that evolved into this,” Friedman said.Zaidi went so far as to say that “the model of how we worked with Donnie would be a good model going forward.” That included keeping an open mind to the flood of new data gathered by Friedman’s staff.Is it possible, then, for such a massive change in leadership to offer no referendum whatsoever on the Don Mattingly era in Los Angeles? For a day, the answer coming from Chavez Ravine was a resounding yes. That idea is tough to comprehend. By comparison, the idea of a mutual parting is not.What’s nextThe search for the Dodgers’ next manager has already begun, though a list of names is still a ways away. The list will not be short.“We’ll have candidates who have managerial experience and others who don’t,” Friedman said. “For us to cast as wide as a net as we want to, we’re going to go into it with an open mind.”• RELATED: Who are the leading candidates to replace Don Mattingly?With a younger roster in mind, it’s no surprise that Zaidi said an important characteristic of the Dodgers’ next manager is “somebody who’s a teacher and a leader, (who can) help guys get over the hump to the big leagues.”Friedman was only asked about one specific candidate: Gabe Kapler. The Dodgers’ director of player development is more familiar with the organization’s top prospects than anyone. He prides himself on open-mindedness and is more fluent in analytics than Mattingly.Kapler, who was born in Hollywood and graduated from Taft High School in Woodland Hills, played 12 major league seasons. He retired for one season (2007) to manage the Single-A Greenville Drive to a 58-81 record, then returned to play three more years in the majors.Friedman would not address Kapler or any other candidates by name. Kapler declined comment via text message.Chicago Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez and Dodgers third base coach Ron Roenicke could also be in line for interviews in the coming days and weeks.For Mattingly, who was hand-picked as Torre’s successor long before he was formally hired, the end of his Dodgers tenure could not have ended more differently than it began. When he first met with Friedman, Zaidi and executive vice president Josh Byrnes on Friday, the group expected Mattingly would return in 2016.What a difference a week makes.Reflecting on his eight years in Los Angeles, Mattingly acknowledged that “a lot of emotions go into this.” He did not specify which emotions. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorcenter_img The Dodgers might have a new manager and an entirely new coaching staff in place by the time baseball’s winter meetings begin Dec. 6.This is not the typical reality facing a team that’s won three straight division titles. For some reason, it’s where the Dodgers find themselves today. Don Mattingly and the team mutually agreed to part ways Thursday, with the Dodgers agreeing to pay the final year of Mattingly’s contract. All the team’s major league coaches saw their contracts expire, leaving them free to pursue other opportunities. Bench coach Tim Wallach has already interviewed for the Washington Nationals’ vacant manager position, according to multiple reports.Given a chance to explain the sudden change of leadership, neither Mattingly, President Andrew Friedman nor general manager Farhan Zaidi were keen on revealing the critical details.last_img read more

Read More →