Thứ Năm, 26 tháng 5, 2016

Atletico fitter and wiser as they plot revenge for Lisbon

Two years on from their defeat by Real Madrid in the Champions League final, Atletico Madrid are back on the same stage against the same rival - wiser and determined not to be haunted by the memories of Lisbon.
Sergio Ramos' 93rd-minute equalising header in 2014 snatched a maiden European Cup from their grasp, and Atletico were overpowered 4-1 in extra time. The fatigue from a gruelling season had finally caught up with them.
Seven days before that final, Atletico had played an energy-sapping 1-1 draw with Barcelona to clinch their first La Liga title in 18 years, and celebrations continued into the next week. Real had an extra week to prepare.
"When they equalised, we knew it was going to be really difficult for us because of our physical state and we were going to struggle," Gabi, the Atletico captain, said recently. "Real were the better team in extra time."
Atletico's top scorer, Diego Costa, was forced off by a hamstring problem after nine minutes, forcing head coach Diego Simeone into an early substitution. Key midfielder Arda Turan never recovered in time from injury to even start.
Atletico's ailing physical state then contrasts with their condition approaching Saturday's final. Simeone can call on a full squad.
Real have mostly avoided injuries, too, missing only defender Raphael Varane. But Atletico have had an extra week to rest players after dropping out of the title race when they lost at Levante in their penultimate game.
"We're in better shape, we're better prepared and many of us know what it's like to play in a Champions League final," said Gabi, one of six members of the squad for the final who remain at the club.
"You can't erase losing a Champions League final," Gabi said. "But we have a great opportunity to play another one and make history for this club."

Thứ Bảy, 7 tháng 5, 2016

EPL: United move 1 point behind City in top-4 fight, Sunderland thump Chelsea

Manchester United moved closer to the top four after beating Norwich while Sunderland moved out of relegation zone after beating Chelsea 3-2 on Saturday.

Manchester United moved closer to the top four by beating relegation-threatened Norwich 1-0 on Saturday in the English Premier League.
United, which lost Anthony Martial in the warm-up following a leg injury, scored the only goal at Carrow Road in the 72nd minute when Juan Mata drove in a near-post finish from Wayne Rooney's assist.
"Today was about winning," said Mata. "We do everything for the fans. They have had a difficult season but deserve happiness."
Chasing a Champions League spot, United remains in fifth place but is now just one point behind rival Manchester City, which hosts third-placed Arsenal on Sunday.
Norwich, which hasn't scored in four games, was unable to make any real impact on the match and remains 19th on 31 points with two games left. Its fate seems almost certain after relegation rival Sunderland twice came from behind to beat Chelsea 3-2, leaving Norwich four points from safety.
Newcastle drew 0-0 at Aston Villa and dropped into the relegation zone. Norwich and Newcastle will both be relegated if Sunderland beats Everton on Wednesday
"We have to keep fighting. We have to stop making errors but it is a bit late in the day," said Norwich manager Alex Neil.
United needed to win to keep pace with rivals Man City, and was rarely troubled in the final third.
"We keep the pressure on our competitors and hope we can achieve a Champions League place," United manager Louis Van Gaal said. "We want to play at the highest level but it is still tough."
Sunderland out of EPL relegation zone after beating Chelsea
Sunderland took a huge step in its fight for English Premier League survival, as it came from 2-1 down to beat Chelsea 3-2 on Saturday.
Sunderland moved into 17th place, out of the relegation zone, and was one win away from safety after Norwich lost to Manchester United and Newcastle only drew at last-placed Aston Villa.
Chelsea, which remained mid-table, finished with 10 men after John Terry received his second yellow card in injury time.
Diego Costa gave Chelsea an early lead, and Wahbi Khazri equalized with a sublime goal minutes from the break. But Nemanja Matic stroked the ball through Vito Mannone's legs for Chelsea to retake the lead right on halftime.
Sunderland's comeback started in the 67th as Fabio Borini finished to make it 2-2, shortly followed by club top-scorer Jermain Defoe getting the winner in the 70th.
Sunderland goalkeeper Mannone made several impressive saves to secure the victory for his team.
Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce said "the character and determination has shone through, along with the quality of our finishing at last."