It has been a long five-month wait for Luis Suarez but football’s enfant terrible is back.
It is hard to think of another player who splits opinion as much Suarez. Loved by Liverpool fans, though their affection was severely tested during the recent transfer window as the Uruguayan sought a move away from Anfield in search of Champions League football, he is equally loathed by many other supporters and neutrals.
Suarez is eligible to play for Liverpool in the League Cup - England’s third tier competition - against Manchester United on Wednesday after completing a 10-match ban for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanonic.
Given Suarez’s history with United –- his eight-match ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra and then his refusal to shake the French international defender’s hand on his eventual return to action –- the Liverpool striker, if he plays at Old Trafford, is guaranteed a hostile reception. He probably wouldn’t want it any other way. FULL POST
No. But the fact that a nation with a population of just 11 million people is being mentioned as World Cup dark horses is nothing short of remarkable given Belgium have failed to qualify for their last five major tournaments.
Marc Wilmots’ side top their European qualifying group and even if they lose to Croatia in the next game, victory in their final game –- at home to Wales –- will take Belgium to the World Cup finals in Brazil next year.
The assorted talents of Vincent Kompany, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Simon Mignolet, Thomas Vermaelen, Marouane Fellaini, Kevin Mirallas, Romelu Lukaku, Jan Vertonghen, Moussa Dembele and Christian Benteke are players well known to English Premier League watchers. FULL POST
Heading into the 2013 U.S. Open, 35-year-old American twins Bob and Mike Bryan stand on the verge of a feat rarer than any other in tennis, as they attempt to complete the first ever men’s doubles calendar grand slam in the Open era.
Since grand slam tennis went professional in 1968, calendar grand slams - winning the Australian, French, Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles in a single year - have been achieved in men’s singles, women’s singles, and women’s doubles, but never in men’s doubles.
You have to go back all the way to 1951 when Australians Ken McGregor and Frank Sedgman ran the table at the majors for the one and only time this feat was accomplished.
Sixty-two years later, the Bryan brothers head into the U.S. Open with an opportunity to make history, having already claimed the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon championships.
And yet, during this remarkable run, which also includes the 2012 U.S. Open and Olympic games, barely more than a match or two has been broadcast on television.
More often than not, television coverage will jump into a Bryan brothers match at match point, and to that extent, on a time delay to ensure that the point in question was indeed the final point of the contest.
Sadly, this doesn’t flow against the tide of tradition when it comes to doubles on television. Simply put, doubles just doesn't get the attention or TV coverage it deserves. FULL POST
If anyone tells you they know who's going to win this year's British Open Championship, and proffers betting advice, walk away. For they are both foolish and dangerous. That's not to say there are no educated guesses, but there lies no certainty here at Muirfield.
This is a course that, ever since the last decade of the 19th Century, has pretty much outlined the best player of the era. From Harry Vardon and James Braid to Walter Hagen and Henry Cotton. Not forgetting Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson as well as Nick Faldo (twice) and Ernie Els. So history suggests a class player.
However history here also suggests that Muirfield can sometimes be the first to identify that class.
Vardon won the first of his six Opens here, Player's first major of nine came on these links, Nicklaus's debut Open Championship too. More recently, Faldo's 1987 Muirfield Open was the first of his six career majors. FULL POST
Since Fred Perry defeated the German Gottfried von Cramm in a one-sided 6-1 6-1 6-0 final to claim his third successive men’s Wimbledon singles title 77 years ago, Britain has pinned its hopes on a procession of native challengers, each of whom have come and gone without success.
Andy Murray finally ended that interminable wait by beating Novak Djokovic on Sunday, but the wait has been so long there has been talk of curses and jinxes.
But was there ever really a curse?
In truth, in the seven decades since Fred Perry’s three-peat as Wimbledon champion, Britain has never produced a legitimate Wimbledon contender - with the exception of 1939 runner-up Bunny Austin. FULL POST
“We are a family, and the loyalty of the family must come before anything and everyone else. For if we honor that commitment, we will never be vanquished, but if we falter in that loyalty we will all be condemned," wrote Mario Puzo, the author of the GodFather.
Like night follows day, whenever a football manager joins a new club, their loyal lieutenants inevitably follow.
After all, when you are a footballing Caesar the last thing you want is a Brutus knifing you in the back.
So after Carlo Ancelotti moved from Saint-Germain to Real Madrid his long-time assistant Paul Clement was by his side. A wise move given the huge pressure the Italian will be under managing the Spanish club.
Over in Bavaria, when Pep Guardiola recently started work at Bayern Munich he brought with him not one, not two, not three, but four members of his support staff from old club Barcelona - Manuel Estiarte, assistant coach Domenec Torrent, scout and video analyst Carles Planchart and fitness coach Lorenzo Buenaventura. FULL POST
No pressure then for the current wearers of the famed yellow shirt as they prepare to meet current World Cup champions Spain in the Confederations Cup final on Sunday in Rio de Janiero's Maracana Stadium.
Brazil's captain Carlos Alberto scored the final goal in the 4-1 destruction of Italy in the 1970 World Cup final - arguably the most perfect epitaph to a team that had captivated millions of people watching across the globe who were not lucky enough to be in the Azteca Stadium on that June 21 day.
Encompassing wonderful individual skill within the framework of a team that seemed to have an almost telepathic understanding, the move that led to the goal started with Tostao deep in his own half.
By the time Alberto had crashed the ball into the net the majority of the team's outfield players had been involved in the build up to its devastating denouement.
There was midfielder Clodoaldo bewitching a quartet of Italian players, with Rivelino and Jairzinho also linking up.
Jairzinho then passed to Pele, who was standing just outside the penalty box's "D". Time seemed to stop as Pele assessed his options - before sensing Alberto’s run to his right - he nonchalantly flicked the ball into the path of his captain. The rest is history. FULL POST