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LEICESTER CITY VS SPORTING BRAGA

The foxes have impressed in the last few games and there was no letting up on Thursday night. What a pass from Tielemans in the build up the third goal from fellow Belgian Praet. Iheanacho, deputizing for the rested Vardy struck a brace to stake a claim for a starting berth but it will take some doing to depose Vardy in the form he is in. Braga on the other hand barely threatened Schmeichel’s goal. With competition for the top 4 places in the Premiership promising to be at an all time high, this competition may provide a route for Leicester into the Champions League. They need to sort out their consistency issues particularly after Christmas. Their over reliance on goals from Vardy may come back to bite them and may possibly need to dip into January market to find a player who can supplement him. No offence to Iheanacho and Slimani of course.

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PARIS MASTERS HIGHLIGHTS

Standout result on Thursday was Stan Wawrinka beating the in form Russian Andrey Rublev in 3 sets. Stan the man recovered impressively from losing the first set for just 1 game showing his younger upstart he has a lot in his 35 year old self.The key to his victory was winning his efficient conversion of break points(3/5) to Rublev’s (3/6). There was not much in it but it proved to be telling. Rafa Nadal celebrated a milestone 1000th win on the tour with a straight sets win over Australian Thompson. Thompson impressed me with my shot of the day when he was 3-2 up in the second at 0-15. Nadal is now ONLY behind Jimmy Connors(USA), Roger Federer(SUI) AND Ivan Lendl(CZE). He looked much settled after a shaky last match with Lopez.

PLAY OF THE WEEK

It’s game 7 of the NBA Eastern conference semi finals. 6 seconds to go down by two. Who do you want to take the shot that saves your team elimination? None other than one time MVP Kevin Durant. Watch 109-107. Probably there was an inclining of an opportunity to get the win for the Nets there had Kevin taken a step back and gotten the three. But he wasn’t to know that so can’t blame him for taking the two. He stretches and shoots from the tip of his fingers, focusing on the basket not the defender. Tucker should have jumped higher though. That way he puts off KD and he is forced to come inside the arch towards the basket wasting more time and that is the game for Milwaukee right there. It is sad that such talent won’t be gracing the NBA finals this year but all the same well played Mr Durant.

EURO 2020:SWITZERLAND VS TURKEY

The Swiss giving themselves a fighting chance in this tournament with the win over the whipping boys Turkey. Shaqiri may be a bit part player at Liverpool but he constantly scores the wow goal for Switzerland almost every other tournament. The second goal by the Swiss was a collector’s item once again. Giving credit were it is most due, Turkey were positive creating their best chances in this match than they did in the whole of the previous two. Kahveci and Under were good although they found Sommer in terrific form in the first half. Kahveci’s goal equaling or bettering the one from Shaqiri.

Kahveci’s goal could be more important than people realize. This goal keeps the goal difference of the Swiss in the negative. When the final league of those teams that finish third is constructed, this could be detrimental to their chance of finishing in the top 4 of that one.Not even the third goal ,scored again by Shaqiri on the quick break,was enough to see the Swiss at least level up their goal difference and are now stuck at minus one. Wales and record breaking Italy are into the last 16.The Italians going 30 unbeaten with a win over the Welsh and are now over 1000 minutes without conceding a goal. They will take some beating.

HALLE OPEN:HUMBERT VS RUBLEV

Ugo with his first title on the ATP 500 tip after win over Russian Rublev. Andrey competing in his first grass court final. What took Ugo to the dance is what ultimately made him the winner in Halle, strong first serve in a 1-2 sequence. Watch the first set at the very first point. To reiterate the already said, on grass a serve is the number one god you got to get it right on the first attempt most of the time. Ugo did it with 75% of his serve going in the first time as a result he won 78% of his points when he served first time “in”. Rublev didn’t do all that badly in that department as well, 63% first serve ratio. Watch first point of 1-0.When serving to the lefty the most effective serve is to the backhand, down the service line. Don’t ask me why, it is what it is. It is not a coincidence that Rublev got broken when he got into a baseline duel with the Frenchman after service to his forehand and committing the unforced error at 4-3 break point 40-15. There would be no way back for Andrey in the first set.

No breaks of serve in the second set. Just before the tie break at 6-5 Humbert serving to stay in the set, first point Ugo showing how to play the drop shot on grass, Andrey showing how not to play it.Ugo opening the face of the racquet not hitting the ball but allowing it to bounce off it and using the cutting motion. Rublev got way under the ball, just look at how he is holding the racquet, the prop facing backward so no surprising the ball also went backwards. Picking it up in the tie break now. Match point 6-4.Another baseline war that Rublev lost. Not surprisingly with the way Ugo was playing the forehand cross court was virtually game over when it left the Frenchman’s racquet. Brand new winner in Halle.

EURO 2020: PORTUGAL VS GERMANY

The Germans returning to winning ways, turning back the clock to the wonder years. Recovering from a counter attacking opening goal from Ronaldo, the Germans’ positive play rewarded with two own goals just before half time from Raphael and Dias.

What’s the best way to respond to critics? In the pitch perform and they will be put to shame. Gnabry and Havertz ran the show, the latter rewarded with a goal for his tenacity. Gossens got into the Portuguese half more than he did against France and it was effective. He even got the fourth the Atalanta full back. Got to be a hard ass on the Germans again. They put the foot off the paddle after the fourth pulling out the attacking players in favor of a pragmatic approach and safety. Portugal accepted the invitation to attack,got a second from Diogo Jota. Great work again from the evergreen Ronaldo who never gave up on a seemingly outward bound ball. Fantastic example to the young players. Lille central midfielder Renato Sanches struck the post in late on with a shot that could have brought down the house.

After the French draw in Budapest, first place is still up for grabs in the group of death. Even the Hungarians still in it they need a win against Germany in their final game.

NBA PLAYOFFS:BUCKS VS NETS GAME 7

This could very well be the year of the Greek Freak. Giannis massive in sending Milwaukee to the Eastern finals after an overtime victory over Durant’s Nets. Durant’s main event 48 points not enough at the end but Kevin surely in the running for that playoff MVP title. Harden nearly had the triple double with figures of 22/9/9. But it was the Bucks’ day with Giannis’s scoring 40 and was his usual defensive best with 13 reboúnds. Khris Middleton had 23 with Milwaukee besting Brooklyn in the field goal department probably key to the narrow victory.

Although outscored by Durant for most games of this series,Giannis always kept scores respectable and Saturday wasn’t an exception.

NBA PLAYOFFS: CLIPPERS VS JAZZ GAME 6

Clippers sending Jazz packing and themselves into the Western Conference finals after game 6.Clippers looked down and out trailing by 25 points in the second half. Terrence Mann stepped up as Jazz went on a 17-0 run. He would finish with 39 points to seal a 131-119 victory.First conference finals for 50 years for the Clippers. Jazz will have to wait a little longer for that first ever NBA championship coming ,after a great regular season they will be gutted.

EURO 2020:ENGLAND VS SCOTLAND

I got to tell you, I am guilty. I am one of those who actually had faith that the England soccer team has come of age and actually had a chance of winning this shindig. Call it the faith of an abused wife that somehow her husband will suddenly turn into the Gandhi. Time and time again England flatters to deceive and against the Scots in the all British clash that showed. Toothless in front of goal, lacking urgency and devoid of creativity. Yep that sums it up.

The clammers heard recently to include Grealish were finally heard as the Villa playmaker made his appearance in the second half to little effect except winning free kicks. Southgate’s faith in Sterling clearly misplaced, Kane had one of his most unproductive games for the 3 lions, in terms of assists and shots and goals. The best opportunity fell to a defender Stones who headed onto Marshall’s crossbar in the 11th minute and a goal mouth rugby like scrum at the end of the match which ended with the ball cleared away by the Scots.

For the Scots, Che Adams linked the midfield with striker Dukes really well. McTominay shielded their defence well with center back Hanley making amends for a nightmare game against the Czechs. However like England they lack that creative player and no surprise they failed to score (Scotland has the least goals in international football of any team amongst the 24 at the tournament).Dykes had the best chances, one in which Reece James cleared a half volley shot on the line.Going with two defensive minded midfielders in Gilmour and McTominay showed the intent to get contain and get the point..

What next for England. A win for the them over the Czechs will send them through to the round of 16,a defeat opens the door for Croatia. Scotland need a win over the Croats to finish either second or one of the best third placed teams.

HALLE OPEN:RUBLEV VS KOHLSHREIBER

Rublev’s late season form hasn’t exactly flowed into 2021 but he is having a good run in Halle. Rublev might fancy taking Halle being the only seed left. He beat local favorite KOHLSHREIBER in straight sets on Friday. The ball bounces higher on grass than on clay.In this tournament it is good to see players attempting the drop shot despite the risk making for entertaining tennis.

Watch 2-1 (15-0). Both Rublev and Kohlschreiber both play the shot both easily getting to the ball with the German sensibly going for the correct shot at the end the foréhand with punch.Rublev’ mom didn’t raise no full ,the Russian sensibly ducking to avoid the ball being firmly tattooed on him. Andrey took the tight first set on a breaker.

At set point 6-4, the Russian showing the shots that made him Russia’s second best player. The backhand down the line at the end of the point shows the importance of two things. One, you should always have an idea where your opponent is, Kohlschreiber caught by the clever Andrey advancing to the net early. Two,key to the backhand’s effectiveness is not your stronger arm but the other arm complementing it to increase speed of the shot , going through the ball. Second set easier affair for Rublev breaking early, the backhand doing a lot of damage.

NBA PLAYOFFS:BUCKS VS NETS GAME 6

Khris Middleton(38 points) and Giannis(30) huge again at the Fiserv stadium as series levels up at 3-3. Bucks defense key to limiting Nets to sub 90.Milwaukee knew their big hitters and gave them enough of the ball to do some damage. Jrue Holiday CHIPPED IN WITH 20. Watch him at 14-20 Bucks. The small guy can be tricky to take the ball off, even fouling him is difficult. All the defender could only do was to push him towards the out of bounds line and hope he runs it out. Middleton was scoring some great baskets especially outside the arch. Watch him get the foul and score the three at 28-21 Bucks.I don’t know if the foul was even necessary by number 12 Harris, the ball was long gone.

As has become almost a norm in this series, Kevin Durant was too hot to handle at times. James Harden has had a somewhat subdued return to action, maybe cautious of getting hurt given the rotten luck he has had this SEASON. CHECK OUT 34-21.showing he still got it. His shooting has always been awesome but was it unnecessary for him to fall over like that? That’s how a dude gets hurt hey. Watch KD on 82-67. He would finish on 32 points, three points of which came here. Is there anywhere he can’t shoot? His long arms make this possible, making the ball arch above the defender. Picture perfect. Milwaukee, arguably the best team scoring from the paint, dominated it once again which was key.

EURO 2020:DENMARK VS BELGIUM

The strength in depth of the Belgians on show at Parken Stadium as they come from behind to beat the Danes in Group B. Denmark bossed the first half and it only took them 98 seconds to find the back of the net through Yussuf Poulsen of Leipzig. Playing for the ailing Inter midfielder Eriksen, the fired up Danes scored after Hojbjerg did was he does best, breaking up play. Danish youngster Damsgaard was a constant thorn with his electric pace and troubles the static back three of Denayer, Vertoghen and Alderwereld.Changes by Roberto Martinez were needed particularly to protect the said back line. and they duly did after half time.

In went Axel Witsel(Dortmund), Eden Hazard(Real Madrid) and Kev De Bruyne(Man City) and the match complexion quickly changed. The equalizer was made in Milan, molded in Manchester and finished off in Dortmund. Lukaku leaving Vestergaard for dead with his pace, KDB created the space by taking out number 18 Wass out of the picture and Thorgan Hazard finished with the tap in. Quality personified. In no time it was 2-1 Belgium. De Bruyne is a tricky customer in that he is two footed and can generate power on the shot without even running at the ball too hard. Denmark not doing the business here on that right flank. Denmark were not goal shy by any stretch. They had more shots at goal than Belgium closest came from the impressive Poulsen who struck the post with 4 minutes of regulation time to go with a header that came off the cross bar, had Courtios praying it doesn’t go in. The home side would have no joy as Belgium secured the second round berth which everyone saw coming given their quality. The Danes need a win against Russia and hope Belgium doesn’t ease up on Finland.

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