From his first-round knockdown punches to his tenacious 12th-round finish, Manny Pacquiao gave yet another one-sided thrashing to Father Time.Keith Thurman was a whole lot tougher to beat, but the 40-year-old Filipino senator managed to win that vote as well.Pacquiao floored Thurman early and persevered late to an exciting split-decision victory Saturday night, adding a third straight win to his late-career resurgence.Pacquiao (62-7-2) dropped his previously unbeaten opponent with a combination late in the first round, and the Pac-Man dominated the opening rounds with a combination of flair and power that recalled the incredible prime of the only eight-division champion in boxing history.Keith Thurman gets dropped by Manny Pacquiao in the first round! #PacThurman #ThurmanPacquiao #PacquiaoThurman pic.twitter.com/dgUXi27lunStrictly Boxing Fans (@BoxingBritain1) July 21, 2019Thurman (29-1) showed remarkable tenacity in rallying through the middle rounds, repeatedly testing Pacquiao’s chin with big shots. Neither fighter managed another knockdown, but they pushed relentlessly in front of a sellout crowd at the MGM Grand Garden that repeatedly chanted Pacquiao’s name from the moment he reached the ring.”It was fun,” Pacquiao said. “My opponent is a good fighter and boxer. He was strong. … I think he did his best, and I did my best. I think we made the fans happy tonight because it was a good fight.”Two judges scored the bout 115-112 for Pacquiao, while Glenn Feldman scored it 114-113 for Thurman. The Associated Press also scored it 115-112 for Pacquiao.”I knew it was close,” Thurman said. “He had the momentum because he got the knockdown in Round 1. … I wish I had a little bit more output to go toe to toe. My conditioning, my output was just behind Manny Pacquiao’s tonight. Tonight was a blessing and a lesson.”advertisementPacquiao appeared to be declining as recently as two years ago, when he lost a listless decision to Jeff Horn. But while his political career flourished, Pacquiao also revived his ring career with solid back-to-back victories over Lucas Matthysse and Adrien Broner.#AndTheNew WBA Welterweight Super Champion Manny Pacquiao#Respect Keith Thurman #PacquiaoThurman #WBAboxing #PacThurman pic.twitter.com/xmkVUgbRYLWBA Boxing (@WBABoxing) July 21, 2019Thurman represented another major step up in competition, but Pacquiao’s strong start quieted any speculation that he would suddenly look old in a matchup with an elite welterweight champion.Thurman’s effort was impressive on paper: He landed slightly more punches than the famously active Pacquiao, and his 192 power punches landed were the most by any Pacquiao opponent in his 43 fights that were tracked by CompuBox. But Pacquiao had a dominant jab, and he outworked Thurman in the 12th round, throwing 56 punches to win the round on two judges’ cards.Both fighters started quickly with a series of good-looking exchanges, but Pacquiao changed the bout in an instant. He moved forward to land a left to the body and a right hook that sent Thurman to the canvas with 25 seconds left in the first round.Thurman got up comfortably while the ecstatic crowd roared, but Pacquiao kept up his superior work for the next two rounds, repeatedly rocking Thurman with a variety of shots. Even when Thurman put together a solid fifth round, he was stunned several times in the final minute and left with blood on his face.But Thurman gathered himself and soundly beat Pacquiao through the middle rounds, forcing Pacquiao to show off his durable chin. Pacquiao reversed the momentum in the 10th with a series of big shots, including a punch to the body that sent Thurman stumbling away in obvious pain.Both fighters pushed to the final bell and embraced. Pacquiao won the final round on two judges’ cards, while Feldman’s 12th-round score for Thurman kept Pacquiao from winning by unanimous decision.After graciously congratulating Pacquiao, Thurman called for a rematch. The pro-Pacquiao Vegas crowd vocally approved.Nearly 25 years after a 16-year-old Pacquiao stepped onto the scales for his pro debut with rocks in his pockets just to make the 105-pound minimum weight, this middle-aged politician showed he could have several years left in a day job that paid him a guaranteed $10 million on Saturday night.
Congratulations to the following teams on their New South Wales Junior State Cup grand final results.3.00pm18’s GirlsNewcastle City 7 defeated Penrith Panthers 23.30pm18’s BoysTaree Flames 11 defeated by Bankstown Jets 1216’s BoysRyde Eastwood Hawks 5 defeated Penrith Panthers 012’s BoysNewcastle City 9 defeated Manly Sea Eagles 24.00pm16’s GirlsManly Sea Eagles 11 defeated Lower Blue Mountains Rangers 614’s BoysBlacktown Broncos 6 defeated by Parramatta Eels 710’s GirlsManly Sea Eagles 13 defeated Nelson Bay Neptunes 04.30pm14’s GirlsWagga Wagga 9 defeated Manly Sea Eagles 612’s GirlsManly Sea Eagles 7 defeated Wagga Wagga 010’s BoysParramatta Eels 6 defeated by Wests Magpies 7Club Champion1st – Manly Sea Eagles – 117 points2nd – Parramatta Eels – 91 points3rd – Newcastle City – 78 points4th – Penrith Panthers – 75 points5th – Berkeley Vale Panthers – 63 points To view highlights of the weekend, please visit the NSWTA YouTube channel – www.youtube.com/nswta. Related LinksNSW JSC Results
About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Brighton teen Haydon Roberts stunned by goalscoring debutby Paul Vegasa month agoSend to a friendShare the loveBrighton teen Haydon Roberts is still floating after scoring on debut in midweek.The defender, 17, headed home from a second half corner in their Carabao Cup defeat to Aston Villa.He told brightonandhovealbion.com, “I didn’t think it was real, it’s what you dream of when you’re growing up. “To do it for my hometown club as well was just amazing and makes it even better, although we didn’t go through it’s a night I’ll never forget.“I didn’t get much sleep, I wanted to spend the time afterwards with my family – there were so many messages and I wanted to share it with them.“I still can’t really get over it now, scoring on your debut with man of the match as well is fantastic.”
Several unemployed young persons from Majesty Gardens in South West St. Andrew are to benefit from the implementation of a training and income generating initiative, valued at just under $12 million.Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, on Tuesday, May 14, launched the ‘Income Generating Opportunities for Unemployed Young People through Linkages with Established Micro, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (MSMEs)’ project, at the St. Andrew Settlement in Majesty Gardens, Kingston.The Jamaica Exporters’ Association (JEA), in collaboration with the St. Andrew Settlement, will execute the project, which is being sponsored by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), with funding support from the European Union Poverty Reduction Programme (PRP).The Prime Minister encouraged beneficiaries to take full advantage of the opportunities for self development. She told them that through participation in the project, they will be embarking on a path that could change their lives forever.“Not long from now, I want to hear of exporters graduating from this programme,” Mrs. Simpson Miller told the participants.She urged them to pay attention to the training and never give up, no matter how difficult it gets.“You are on a path and you are destined for success. No matter what, no matter how frustrating it might become, continue your programme and ensure you graduate. It is critical. It is about self development. You must be able to stand tall and shoulder to shoulder with people anywhere in the world,” the Prime Minister added.The project will provide vocational training and internships for persons between the ages of 18 and 35 in areas such as creative craft from recyclable materials, and traditional craft; dressmaking; tailoring; crochet making and design; woodwork and carpentry; and jewellery making.The beneficiaries will also be exposed to business readiness training, which include basic accounting and record keeping, marketing and sales, inventory management as well as basic computer applications, to equip them to carry out basic research and communication on the internet. They will also receive training in business communication, office deportment and etiquette skills.Managing Director of JSIF, Scarlette Gillings, said the project is expected to be implemented over a five-month period.In the meantime, General Manager of the JEA, Jean Smith, said the objective of the project is to provide support for young people in Majesty Gardens.“We anticipate that these beneficiaries, through the empowerment tools and the programmes that will be provided, will be able to contribute in a more meaningful way to the development of their families and to their communities and also to the wider society, both in terms of the Industrial community here on Spanish Town Road and to the wider Jamaica,” she said.The original target number was 25 young persons. However, JEA President, Andrew Collins, informed that this target has already been exceeded, explaining that in several instances the training sessions have close to 50 persons.“This speaks to the desire of our young people to acquire income generating knowledge and skills, which can make them workplace ready or which can be used to become young entrepreneurs,” Mr. Collins said.“We are convinced that at the end of the programme we will have some beneficiaries entering the export sector, either as entrepreneurs or through employment in existing export companies,” he said.Contact: Andrea Braham
VANCOUVER – Vancouver Starbucks locations will be the first in Canada to serve drinks without plastic straws as it works to eliminate the product from all its stores by 2020, the company announced Monday.The coffee chain is the latest big company to acknowledge the environmental threat plastic straws pose and promise to implement an alternative in the face of mounting public pressure.There’s been a tipping point in the public’s awareness that plastic is a global problem, said environmental lawyer David Boyd.A video showing a turtle with a plastic straw stuck in its nose received more than 30 million views on YouTube, for example, said Boyd, who also teaches at the University of British Columbia.Companies like Starbucks are responding to that surge in environmental concern.Starbucks will make a strawless lid or straws made from alternative materials, like paper of compostable plastic, available at its more than 28,000 stores worldwide by 2020. It has created a strawless lid that will be standard for its iced coffee, tea and espresso drinks.“This is a significant milestone to achieve our global aspiration of sustainable coffee, served to our customers in more sustainable ways,” CEO Kevin Johnson said in a statement.The strawless lid is currently available in more than 8,000 Canadian and U.S. locations for some beverages.The Seattle-based company will implement the lids for all cold, non-blended drinks first at its hometown and Vancouver locations this fall, with phased rollouts within the U.S. and Canada to follow next year. A global rollout of the strawless lids will follow, beginning in Europe where the will be used in select stores in France and the Netherlands, as well as in the United Kingdom.It’s the largest food and beverage company to do so as calls to cut waste globally grow louder and plastic straws have become one of the most prominent targets.“I think that straws are just widely seen as kind of the low-hanging fruit,” said Boyd.Some cities, including Seattle and Fort Myers Beach in Florida, have banned plastic straws. Vancouver will prohibit plastic straws as well as some other items by June 1, 2019 as part of the Zero Waste 2040 Strategy.Similar proposals are being considered in places like New York and San Francisco, as well as by the European Union.The issue is coming up in company boardrooms, partly in response to changing municipal regulations and partly due to growing consumer pressure.McDonald’s shareholders voted down a proposal requesting a report on plastic straws in May.However, McDonald’s recently said it would switch to paper straws in the United Kingdom and Ireland by next year, and test alternatives to plastic straws in some U.S. locations.In Canada, McDonald’s has said it planned to monitor the market tests to understand the impact the changes may have before making any specific decisions. A company spokeswoman did not respond to questions about whether the company planned to do any testing in Canada and did not provide a timeline for implementing any changes.Rival burger chain A&W Food Services of Canada Inc. has said it will eliminate all plastic straws from its restaurants by the end of this year.Ikea recently announced it would eliminate single-use plastic products from its shelves by 2020, including straws. Canadian restaurant chain owner Recipe Unlimited Corporation, formerly known as Cara Operations, and its 19 brands will phase out using plastic straws by the end of March 2019.But banning the drinking instruments is only the tip of the iceberg, said Boyd, and does not solve the global problem of plastic pollution.Plastic drinking straws make up only about four per cent of the plastic trash by number of pieces, and far less by weight.A stronger, more comprehensive response is needed, he said, and called on Canada’s federal government to develop a national plastic waste strategy.In April, environment minister Catherine McKenna launched a public consultation asking Canadians to share their ideas on how the country can reduce plastic waste. Their feedback will help develop a federal, provincial and territorial approach.— With files from The Associated Press
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s state TV says the country’s navy has acquired two new mini submarines designed for operations in shallow waters such as the Persian Gulf.Thursday’s report says the one of the submarines — also known as midget submarines — was built in 18 months. The other, previously built, took 10 months to overhaul.The report says the two Ghadir-class submarines have sonar-evading technology and can launch missiles from under water, as well as fire torpedoes and drop marine mines. Iran began manufacturing Ghadir subs in 2005. The first was unveiled in 2007 and by 2012, five such submarines were incorporated into Iran’s navy.Midget submarines weigh less than 150 metric tons and are used for short missions, with no living accommodations for a crew of up to nine.The Associated Press
Parker was also unsuccessful in his request for an order requiring the removal of a structure called the Watch House, sayingit’s on a pipeline right of way and would cause significant safety risks.“I’m sensitive to the concern of those who created this Watch House, that it is of considerable significance to them,” Afflecksaid of the structure that was erected near the Burnaby Terminal on Saturday, when people marched against the pipeline. VANCOUVER, B.C. – Protesters must be restrained from obstructing the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, says a British Columbia Supreme Court judge who has granted the company an injunction aimed at preventing people from entering within five metres of two work sites.Justice Kenneth Affleck said Thursday he felt it necessary to make a decision on the second day of a hearing instead of issuing a written order involving outraged demonstrators who have blocked vehicles and workers at the Burnaby Terminal and the Westridge Marine Terminal.The injunction is indefinite, allowing Trans Mountain to continue work it’s legally entitled to do after the federal government approved the twinning of an existing pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby in the belief it is in the best interest of Canada, Affleck said. Trans Mountain has said that while protests began last November, it sought an injunction after demonstrators began intensifying their blockades recently when trees were being cleared. It said construction at the sites in Burnaby, B.C., is expected to last until December 2020.Affleck agreed with lawyers for two of 15 named defendants in a notice of civil claim that a 50-metre perimeter as part of aninterim injunction he granted last week was too broad because it encroached on private property and trails.Trans Mountain’s lawyer, Shaun Parker, requested a structure called Camp Cloud near the Burnaby Terminal be removed, calling it a “hotbed of aggressive activity” for protesters who want to “destroy the project.”But the judge said it will stay.“In my view there has to be a means of allowing the protesters who object to this work to remain reasonably close to the site,” Affleck said. “The plaintiff is going to have to tolerate a certain amount of agitation.” He said Trans Mountain would have to demonstrate any emergency need to remove the Watch House but would then have to replace it.Casey Leggett, a lawyer for one of the defendants, said citizens have a constitutional right to protest the expansion of the pipeline.“The inconvenience, which my friends call a blockade, hasn’t gotten to the level of establishing irreparable harm,” Leggett said.He read from affidavits presented in court by a Trans Mountain lawyer, saying the company’s security staff noted protesters have sometimes stood peacefully at or near access roads to two marine terminals in Burnaby without disrupting vehicles or workers and left after police arrived.He said in one case, a woman was seen praying on a road and didn’t engage with security staff while on another day a woman sat in a lawn chair as vehicles were guided around her at slow speed.Affleck said while the first protesters’ conduct was unobjectionable, the second woman had no right to sit in the middle of a public road and the police would be justified in removing her.The judge also suggested Leggett was cherry-picking incidents that did not involve blockades aimed at stopping work at the terminals.Leggett replied that Trans Mountain had done the same and also focused on blockades rather than inconvenience, which he said does not justify an injunction.Activists have said they will continue opposing the $7.4-billion project despite the injunction.(THE CANADIAN PRESS)
The five electoral areas are shown below:Area 1: Cecil Lake, Goodlow and Clayhurst – one trusteeArea 2: Prespatou, Buick, Rose Prairie, Doig RiverFirst Nation, Blueberry River First Nation, North Pine, Montney and Wonowon (east) – one trusteeArea 3: Hudson’s Hope, Upper Cache, Tsay Keh Dene Nation and Williston Lake – one trusteeArea 4: Taylor, Baldonnel and Two Rivers – one trusteeArea 5: Fort St. John, the Upper Halfway, Halfway River First Nation, Wonowon (west), Charlie Lake, Pink Mountain and north to Mile 225 on the Alaska Highway – three trusteesIn order to be eligible to run, you must be over the age of 18, have lived in B.C. for at least six months and be a Canadian citizen. Candidates don’t have to live in the electoral area where they’re running. School District #60 trustees receive an annual indemnity of $13,045 that is paid monthly.Voting day goes on October 20th. For more info click here. FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – So you wanna be an SD60 Trustee? Then visit the School District 60 candidate information meeting Tuesday at 7:00 p.m.The event will show residents exactly what it is like being a trustee for a district with approximately 6,000 students.During this year’s election, seven people will be voted in to represent five electoral areas. Current board members Bill Snow, Erin Evans and Ida Campbell have all decided to run again while Candace Dow, Jarret Thompson and Linda Stringer will step down.
New Delhi: Specialised audiovisual presentations on issues affecting youth, a toll-free helpline for students, an interactive voice response system – that is how the CBSE helped students counter the board exam stress this year.According to the Central Board of Secondary Education public relations officer, Rama Sharma, as many as 12,000 calls were received on the interactive voice response (IVR) service, which was a new feature introduced this year. Through the IVR system, students, parents or stakeholders can obtain pre-recorded useful information on tackling board exams which included tips for better preparation, time and stress management, frequently asked questions, along with live tele-counselling services. With the introduction of the IVR system, the board saw a considerable decline on the calls received on the toll-free helpline in the first phase of counselling, which commenced on February 1 and ended on April 4. The second phase will begin after the board results are declared. The board had roped in a total of 87 counsellors, comprising 65 from India, two special educators and 22 from foreign schools. The helpline got more calls from students as compared to parents. As many as 1,122 calls were received, with more boys (797) calling up the helpline as compared to girls (222). The helpline also received more calls from students of private schools as compared to government schools. “This has been the trend every year with more boys calling up than girls. It is difficult to understand why, but it might be because the boys are a bit distracted and usually start preparing at the last-minute causing them to stress more. Girls, on the other hand, are more organised when it comes to studies,” another official said. “Many a times, students used to call and say, ‘Please talk to my parents. They are reprimanding me and pressurising me’. Students have even called up to say they are distracted and are not able to concentrate because they had a break-up,” the other official said. Some students even had suicidal thoughts and said they were “feeling like killing themselves” and some others even said they did not want to pursue a particular stream, but were being forced to do so by their parents, he said. For the first time, a comprehensive audiovisual presentation titled ‘Knowing Children Better’ was prepared and uploaded on the CBSE’s website and other social media platforms. The presentations were on issues like tackling exam anxiety, internet addiction, substance abuse, depression. According to Sharma, the presentations received 75,000 hits on YouTube, while 92,000 views on Twitter with the presentation on tackling exam anxiety getting the maximum number views. The board had also prepared a course compendium for students. The compendium of courses after class 12 was an earnest effort of the board to facilitate students while scouting for right course choices, the board had said. The compendium featured traditional courses like engineering, chartered accountancy, medicine, while also details and eligibility criteria for unconventional subjects like how to become a detective, artificial intelligence, robotics, among others.
New Delhi: Commander-in-Chief of the Andaman and Nicobar Command Vice Admiral Vimal Verma has approached an armed forces tribunal seeking to know why he was overlooked as the next navy chief despite being the senior-most in the line of command, official sources said Monday.The government last month named Vice Admiral Karambir Singh as next chief of the naval staff, succeeding Admiral Sunil Lanba who retires on May 30. The government made the selection following a merit-based approach and did not go with the tradition of appointing the senior-most eligible officer to the post. Vice Admiral Verma is senior to Singh and was among the contenders for the top post. Sources said Vice Admiral Verma had approached an armed forces tribunal in the national capital to know why the government ignored his seniority. His petition is likely to be taken up Tuesday, they said
In the last four months, the national capital of India has witnessed a series of claims and counter-claims prophesying a prospective alliance between the Indian National Congress (INC) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Two days ahead of the last day of filing nominations, both parties announced that the discussions and meetings had yielded nothing and, as a result, no alliance between the two could be formed. Until the announcement, neither INC nor Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had declared its candidates for Delhi. After the failure of an alliance, BJP announced its candidates followed by the Congress. AAP had already announced its candidates a few months back. Also Read – A race against timeJust like the 2014 polls, Delhi is all set to witness another triangular poll where all major stakeholders will battle for victory. In this election, AAP has focused on new and young faces whereas BJP has mostly retained its sitting MPs with Congress nominating most of its veterans. Key candidates & seats Being the national capital, Delhi has always attracted the attention of political parties and this election has been no exception. The capital is divided into seven parliamentary constituencies – East, West, South, New Delhi, Chandni Chowk, North East and North West. Also Read – A Golden LootIn the last Lok Sabha election of 2014, BJP had won all seats. In terms of vote share, BJP managed nearly 46 per cent, followed by AAP at nearly 35 per cent and Congress trailing behind with just 15 per cent. The vote-sharing pattern led to the conclusion that an alliance between Congress and AAP is likely to be more effective in defeating BJP across all seven constituencies. The North East seat has become one of the star seats – Delhi Congress chief Sheila Dikshit, renowned Bhojpuri actor and Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari and popular AAP face Dilip Pandey are up against one another. Similarly, the East Delhi seat has also become a key attraction as former cricketer-turned-politician Gautam Gambhir is fighting for BJP against one of AAP’s most popular faces, an alumnus of Oxford University, Atishi. For the same, Congress has nominated former Delhi Pradesh Congress president Arvinder Singh Lovely. Interestingly, the South Delhi seat has also become a major attraction with AAP nominating its youngest face, Raghav Chadha, a 30-year-old chartered accountant. Chadha will fight against Congress party’s star candidate, Vijender Singh and BJP’s Ramesh Bidhuri. Poll agenda Poll agenda has always featured as a major issue dividing political parties. AAP, led by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, has made the demand of full-statehood its prime poll agenda. The demand for granting full-statehood to Delhi is not a new issue but, nevertheless, a much-discussed topic among political parties, even though the residents of Delhi care little for it. Earlier, both BJP and Congress had proposed granting full-statehood to Delhi. In fact, the proposal also found its place in BJP’s manifesto of 2014. However, this year, the BJP manifesto has included no such promise. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has been addressing this issue in every rally across the city. Moreover, opposition political parties like TDP and TMC are also supporting this demand. The party is connecting the demand with issues like law and order, unemployment, higher education and demand of housing for all. While AAP, being largely a Delhi-based political party, has kept its focus on Delhi-centric issues, both Congress and BJP have posited national issues as their poll agenda. The Congress party’s key poll agenda will be its much emphasised NYAY scheme. The Congress party’s 2019 election manifesto has promised a Minimum Income Guarantee Scheme (MIGS), formally called Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY), to five crore ‘poorest families’ covering 25 crore people by assuring them a guaranteed minimum income of Rs 6,000 per month or Rs 72,000 a year. DPCC chief Sheila Dikshit has also promised the same for Delhi residents. Meanwhile, BJP is preparing for the election in Delhi keeping Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s face most prominent. The party will focus on schemes announced by the BJP-led Centre, which includes the universal health scheme, housing schemes, among others. Demography & voting According to the census report, Delhi is the fifth most populous city in the world and the largest city in India area-wise. In 2016, Delhi had an estimated population of 18.6 million. Nearly 12 per cent of the population of Delhi comprises Muslims, a traditional vote bank of the Congress. However, in the 2015 Vidhan Sabha polls, AAP secured 77 per cent of the total Muslim vote. According to earlier data, in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, AAP got 56 per cent of Muslim votes, followed by Congress at 39 per cent and BJP at 2 per cent. Before 2014 too, available data showed that, in Delhi, BJP had a very narrow base among Muslim voters while the Congress was the strongest. The Sikhs, 4 per cent of Delhi’s population, also rallied behind AAP – 57 per cent in the 2015 assembly elections. Earlier, the Sikh community was also a stronghold of the Congress. The upper-caste and OBC vote base, earlier with the Congress, shifted towards BJP in the 2014 election, largely a product of the anti-incumbency wave which had reached its peak in 2013-14. According to surveys, AAP has always had a strong base among Muslims and Dalits in Delhi. A study by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) shows that 56 per cent Muslims voted for AAP in 2014 and 41 per cent Dalits who were earlier, in 2009, with the Congress, had voted for AAP in 2014. In 2009, 78 per cent Muslims voted for Congress followed by 58 per cent Dalits. The Congress also lost much of its Sikh vote to the BJP in 2014 and Dalit vote to AAP. The Other Backward Classes vote, meanwhile, shifted partly to BJP and partly to AAP. By the 2015 election, Congress retained substantial support among only the Muslims. But even then, a section of the community went with AAP. With polling due in a week, Delhi is witnessing a riot of colours panning political allegiances. Road shows, rallies and door-to-door campaigns are visible across corners of our walled city. Between promises and failures, jibes and vibes, rallies and allies, blames and names, the Capital is all set for another triangular contest with three major political parties looking to wrest each other’s clout.
M. FellainiBelgium+0.31-0.03+0.28-0.24 J. VertonghenBelgium2.78.2+5.5 The biggest changes in share of team productionWorld Cup players with the biggest increase from share of club team’s expected goals and assists to share of national team’s expected goals and assists, 2014-18 L. ModricCroatia+0.28+0.05+0.33+0.17 R. LewandowskiPoland+0.25+0.01+0.26-1.35 Share of team exp. goals + assists G. SigurdssonIceland+0.38-0.22+0.16+0.20 C. EriksenDenmark+0.53-0.13+0.39+0.29 PlayerCountryGOALsassistsGoals + AssistsExp. Goals + Assists L. PiszczekPoland10.017.1+7.1 E. HazardBelgium+0.30+0.68+0.98+0.45 J. MikelNigeria+0.39+0.41+0.80+0.44 J. KimmichGermany-0.02+0.33+0.31+0.24 T. SilvaBrazil+0.31-0.03+0.27+0.19 The leaderboard is peppered with players who have made a difference in Russia: Swiss mainstays Blerim Dzemaili and Xherdan Shaqiri led their team to the round of 16, while Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic and Real Madrid’s Luka Modric have been the backbone of the Croatian attack. Another quick and crafty midfielder — this one from Colombia — has been very good for both Real Madrid and Bayern Munich over the past four seasons, but he’s been downright marvelous for Los Cafeteros: From 2014 to 2018, James Rodriguez scored nearly half a goal more per 90 minutes while wearing the yellow Colombia kit than while donning club colors. In our sample, his difference in expected goals plus assists from club to country is second to only Dzemaili, who plays for Bologna in Italy. It’s no surprise then that Colombia was eliminated by England in the round of 16 when a calf injury sidelined James.Hazard and James are built to wear their national team jerseys. But there are others — two of whom are often invoked in the GOAT conversation — who seem to perform a little worse, or at least score with less frequency, on the international stage. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the two best players in the world,4They’ve each won five of the past 10 Ballon d’Or awards, given to the best soccer player in the world. but both have underwhelmed a bit while representing their countries. M. RojoArgentina+0.19+0.12+0.31+0.22 DIfference between club and national team T. MeunierBelgium16.324.9+8.6 When we think of the best soccer players in history, we rarely think about the relatively inconsequential goals they scored for their club teams in midseason matches against their middle-of-the-pack competition. Instead we think about how they played for their national teams, and especially how they performed at major international tournaments like the World Cup. We think of a 17-year-old named Pelé delivering Brazil its first title in 1958; we think of Diego Maradona ripping through England’s defenses (and famously getting a little handsy with the ball in the box) in 1986; we think of the French maestro Zinedine Zidane scoring twice on home soil to topple Ronaldo and Brazil in 1998.Some players just seem built to wear their national team’s jersey.We wanted to know if there are certain players who play well for their club but disappear when playing for their national team — and certain players who raise their production when playing for country. So we looked at the tallies of expected goals and assists per 90 minutes for every player at the World Cup and compared the difference between club stats1Big five European leagues only. and country2Including World Cup, World Cup qualifiers and each confederation’s tournament. since 2014. We also looked at each player’s share of his entire team’s expected goals plus assists.Among the remaining stars at the 2018 World Cup, the best example of one who thrives while representing his country is Belgium’s Eden Hazard — at least based on raw production. The quick and crafty man from Wallonia has a knack for playing his best soccer when the world is watching. From 2014 to 2018, Hazard scored 0.30 more goals per 90 minutes and provided 0.68 more assists per 90 minutes while wearing a Belgium jersey than while repping Chelsea blue — while his expected goals plus assists are 0.45 better for Belgium.Hazard’s exceptional international form has carried over into this World Cup: In three games played, he contributed two goals and two assists — one of which tied the match against Japan after Belgium had gone down 2-0. The diminutive Belgian danced at the left corner of the penalty area, shrugging off a pursuant Yuya Osako before delivering an inch-perfect cross with his left foot to the edge of the 6-yard box and onto Marouane Fellaini’s head. Fellaini scored, but Hazard’s brilliance was responsible.Hazard’s form and contributions are expected. Thomas Meunier’s form and contributions, on the other hand, are a bit of a surprise. The right back has been perfectly competent for Paris Saint-Germain, but he’s been an outright world beater on the international stage: Since 2014, he’s scored 0.32 more goals per 90 minutes and provided 0.73 more assists per 90 minutes while playing for Belgium than for his clubs. The biggest of his 10 international assists was the one he provided to Nacer Chadli to knock off Japan on Monday. Both Meunier and Hazard are among the top seven players at the World Cup when it comes to expected goals plus assists for country versus club. But based on actual goals and actual assists, both Belgians are in the top three.3Only Poland/Wolfsburg winger Jakub Blaszczykowski has them both beat. From 2014 to 2018, Messi notched 0.61 fewer expected goals plus assists per 90 minutes while draped in the vertical blue and white stripes of Argentina. Ronaldo has found it more difficult to score for Portugal: Over the same span, he scored an entire goal per 90 minutes fewer with Portugal than he did with Real Madrid, and he averaged 1.53 fewer expected goals plus assists. And Uruguay’s superstar striker Edinson Cavani has had it even worse: He averaged 2.04 fewer expected goals plus assists per 90 minutes with La Celeste than he with Paris Saint-Germain.The outlook gets brighter for Messi and Ronaldo (but not for Cavani) when you consider their contributions as a percentage of their national team’s expected goals plus assists versus their club team’s since 2014: Messi was responsible for 57.5 percent of Barcelona’s expected output and 63.3 percent of Argentina’s, while Ronaldo accounted for 54.6 percent of Real Madrid’s expected output and 59.4 percent of Portugal’s. They’re not in James or Rakitic territory, but they’re not in the red either. IscoSpain+0.13-0.38-0.25-0.29 B. DzemailiSwitzerland23.431.0+7.6 A. IniestaSpain13.319.1+5.8 J. MikelNigeria5.227.9+22.7 A. GriezmannFrance-0.30+0.12-0.17+0.28 Only players who played 1,000 minutes for a major European team since 2014; national team data is only major tournaments.Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group J. BlaszczykowskiPoland+0.52+0.58+1.10+0.50 S. RamosSpain9.615.9+6.3 PlayerCountryGOALsAssistsGoals + AssistsExp. Goals + Assists C. EriksenDenmark36.548.8+12.3 X. ShaqiriSwitzerland42.848.1+5.3 I. RakiticCroatia-0.02+0.30+0.28+0.39 D. MertensBelgium-0.63+0.38-0.25-0.84 J. RodriguezColombia+0.49+0.03+0.52+0.53 M. RojoArgentina7.113.9+6.8 L. MessiArgentina57.563.3+5.8 J. RodriguezColombia34.5%58.5%+24.0 KokeSpain-0.21-0.23-0.44-0.27 C. RonaldoPortugal54.659.4+4.8 Only players who played 1,000 minutes for a major European team since 2014; national team data includes only major tournaments.Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group E. CavaniUruguay-1.48-0.33-1.81-2.04 D. CarvajalSpain9.714.5+4.8 The club team heroesWorld Cup players with the biggest drop-off in expected goals plus assists per 90 minutes between national team and club team, 2014-18 NeymarBrazil45.658.4+12.8 L. MessiArgentina-0.67+0.11-0.56-0.61 PlayerCountryClubNationalDifference E. BanegaArgentina-0.21+0.06-0.15-0.37 I. GundoganGermany17.332.4+15.1 The national team heroesWorld Cup players with the biggest discrepancy in expected goals plus assists per 90 minutes between club team and national team, 2014-18 Messi and Ronaldo probably only appear to be underperforming on the international level because they’ve spent the past decade thrashing defenses in Spain’s La Liga while playing for two clubs that are lousy with all-world talent. Scoring at a pace of roughly a goal per game is difficult to sustain over the course of a single season; Messi and Ronaldo have been doing it for 10. They’re not performing terribly for their national teams, they’ve just set the bar too high for themselves.But then there’s Neymar, the other greatest player in the world. He has set his bar pretty high during his time with Barcelona and now with Paris Saint-Germain. But unlike the two legends lording over him, Neymar has been able to vault over it — he scores at roughly the same rate for Brazil as he does for his club, and he provides more assists. And Neymar has increased his share of the team’s expected goals plus assists by 12.8 percentage points from club team to national team.Argentina is done; Portugal is done; Brazil and Belgium meet tomorrow in Kazan to decide who gets a spot in the semifinals. So it will be Hazard and Neymar trying to become the next Pelé, Maradona or Zidane.Check out our latest World Cup predictions. P. PogbaFrance-0.11-0.39-0.50-0.26 C. VelaMexico-0.03+0.35+0.31+0.18 B. SilvaPortugal-0.60+0.04-0.56-0.45 A. Di MariaArgentina+0.04-0.50-0.46-0.34 B. DzemailiSwitzerland-0.05+0.20+0.15+0.72 I. RakiticCroatia15.835.2+19.4 E. ForsbergSweden+0.27-1.44-1.17-0.49 CasemiroBrazil-0.26-0.13-0.39-0.24 L. ModricCroatia12.925.4+12.5 S. RudyGermany-0.07-0.21-0.29-0.33 PaulinhoBrazil+0.33+0.18+0.50+0.32 Only players who played 1,000 minutes for a major European team since 2014; national team data includes only major tournaments.Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group J. VertonghenBelgium+0.20+0.05+0.25+0.18 Y. CarrascoBelgium-0.19-0.43-0.62-0.46 DIfference between club and national team P. CoutinhoBrazil+0.27-0.23+0.04-0.23 PaulinhoBrazil24.530.7+6.2 T. MeunierBelgium+0.32+0.73+1.04+0.50 J. KimmichGermany13.119.2+6.1 J. BlaszczykowskiPolad13.723.9+10.2 C. RonaldoPortugal-1.09-0.57-1.67-1.53 A. KolarovSerbia15.320.6+5.3 X. ShaqiriSwitzerland+0.09+0.02+0.11+0.46 J. Dos SantosMexico-0.14+0.06-0.08-0.24 I. GundoganGermany+0.13+0.00+0.13+0.51 A. GuardadoMexico+0.53-0.24+0.29+0.29 Joao MarioPortugal-0.26-0.23-0.49-0.44
With less than six minutes to go, and No. 2 Ohio State up just five on unranked Michigan State, an errant Spartan pass flew into the backcourt and nine of the 10 players on the floor seemed content to let it roll out of bounds. OSU freshman point guard Aaron Craft wouldn’t allow it. Craft chased the ball down. As the Spartans tried to recover, he went up and under the rim for a layup, drew a foul and converted the three-point play. The freshman’s only field goal of the night gave OSU (25-1, 12-1 Big Ten) an eight-point lead and propelled the Buckeyes to a 71-61 victory. “That’s a heck of a play right there,” senior guard Jon Diebler said after the game. “That’s just someone wanting the win and Aaron is a guy who, he does the little things and that just shows the type of player that he is. That was a huge play.” The Spartans played most of the game like the team they were projected to be when they entered the season at No. 2. Outscoring the Buckeyes off the bench, 21-1, MSU shot 63 percent from the field in the first half. With freshman forward Jared Sullinger on the bench in foul trouble, MSU matched the Buckeyes shot-for-shot all half. A basket from senior point guard Kalin Lucas gave MSU a 34-32 lead with 1:30 left in the half, but Buford responded with a 3-pointer, giving OSU the lead, one of 11 lead changes in the first 20 minutes. OSU took that 35-34 lead to halftime, and Buford’s 14 first-half points put him ahead of all scorers. “We didn’t bring it in the first half,” Buford said. “Our defense wasn’t there and we weren’t together as a team. For the second half we had to pick up the intensity.” The lead changed hands four more times early in the second half, and a fifth time when a three-point play from fifth-year senior forward David Lighty gave OSU a 45-44 lead. That was the game’s final lead change. Lighty sparked a 10-2 run, opening up a six-point OSU lead, 52-46. An off-balance, end-of-the-shot-clock 3-pointer from junior forward Draymond Green ended the run, and after a Sullinger free throw, a layup from Lucas cut the lead to two. Five quick points from Buford gave OSU a 58-51 lead, its biggest to that point, with 8:30 to play. Minutes later, Craft made the play that ignited the sellout crowd at the Schottenstein Center. “Aaron is like a spark plug for this team,” OSU coach Thad Matta said. “I think guys are looking and saying, ‘If he’s going to give that (effort), then I’m going to give that.’” The Spartans got as close as four down the stretch, but a pair of Sullinger free throws and three from Craft gave OSU an insurmountable 10-point lead with less than two minutes left. Buford led all scorers with 23 points on 9-for-15 shooting, 3-for-4 from beyond the 3-point line. Sullinger scored 11 points and grabbed a season-low two rebounds. Lighty and Diebler had 12 points each. Lucas led MSU with 14 points, and although the team shot 57 percent from the floor and outrebounded OSU, its 19 turnovers swung the game in OSU’s favor. After falling at Wisconsin on Saturday, OSU relinquished the No. 1 rank to Kansas, who lost at Kansas State, 84-68, Monday night. OSU plays again at 1 p.m. Sunday at No. 11 Purdue.
OLYMPIA — Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman has been re-elected to a second term.Wyman defeated Democrat Tina Podlodowski, a former Microsoft manager, with about 54 percent of the vote.Wyman narrowly won her election four years ago and voting in August’s top two primary was tight, with Wyman getting 48 percent of the vote and Podlodowski receiving 46 percent.Podlodowski attacked Wyman on issues ranging from low primary voter turnout to a translation mistake in the Spanish version of the voters guide that could have led some who were convicted of misdemeanor crimes to think they were not qualified to vote. Wyman apologized for the error and sent out mailers to voters who were potentially affected.In an emailed statement, Wyman wrote that her re-election was a “huge victory.”“In the face of the most money ever spent on a Washington Secretary of State race, and in the crosshairs of one of the most negative campaigns ever run for this office, we held firm,” she wrote. “We proved that running a positive, issues-driven campaign still works. We proved that integrity and fairness do matter in our elections.”Podlodowski raised more than $900,000 in her bid to oust Wyman, and spent more than half of that on negative TV ads. Wyman raised more than $855,000 in her race.In other election developments, voters have rejected a measure that creates a publicly funded voucher system for political contributions.Initiative 1464’s voucher system would have given voters three $50 “democracy credits” that they can use in state races every two years. To pay for the statewide system, the measure would’ve repealed the non-resident sales tax exemption for residents of sales-tax-free states like Oregon and Montana who shop in Washington. To be eligible to redeem the vouchers, participating political candidates would have to have pledged to limit self-financing, as well as the size of donations they accept.
The Premier League fixtures have now been released with new Arsenal boss Unai Emery set for a challenging first game in charge against the defending champions Manchester City at the EmiratesLife after Arsene Wenger looks set to be a challenging start for the Gunners in this new era with a trip to Stamford Bridge to face former champions Chelsea coming straight after playing against Pep Guardiola’s men.Meanwhile, last season’s runners-up, Manchester United, will host Leicester City at Old Trafford with third-placed Tottenham set to travel to St James’ Park to face off against Rafael Benitez’s Newcastle United side.Manuel Pellegrini looks set to face a difficult start at West Ham United against last season’s Champions League runners-up Liverpool.The newly-promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers will host Everton in what will be their first Premier League game in six years and fellow promoted side Cardiff City are set to travel to Bournemouth for their first game.Report: City are stunned by Norwich George Patchias – September 14, 2019 Manchester City was stunned by Norwich City in todays Premier League clash.Much has been made in recent days of the potential impact of Aymeric…Play-off winners Fulham will host Crystal Palace.? Announcing the 2018/19 Matchweek 1 #PLfixturesFull list ? https://t.co/iQKSN9XtKw pic.twitter.com/N5BOj8oVN0— Premier League (@premierleague) June 14, 2018
Cristiano Ronaldo’s former Manchester United teammate Patrice Evra has advised the superstar to go ahead with the move to Juventus as it will allow him to continue to win silverwareThe five-time Ballon d’Or winner is looking increasingly likely to end his nine-year spell at Real Madrid this summer following a falling out with club president Florentino Perez.A move to Serie A champions Juventus is on the cards with a reported bid of €100m set to be the fee paid for Ronaldo’s services.Evra, who also played for Juventus himself, gave his former teammate his full endorsement of the possible transfer to Turin in a live Instagram video.“Everyone asks me, ‘Pat, what do you think?’ ” he said, as stated on Metro.Maguire says United need to build on today’s win George Patchias – September 14, 2019 Harry Maguire wants his United teammates to build on the victory over Leicester City.During the summer, Harry Maguire was referred to as the ultimate…“I haven’t spoken to Cristiano about this, but my advice is, if he wants to play to 2050, he has to go to Juve. There is no other team he must join. It’s simple.“I thank Juve, because if after Manchester I continued to win and to run, it was thanks to Juve. You should never spit on the plate that fed you, so Juve will always be in my heart.”Following a short interpretation of the Juventus song, Evra added: “So Cristiano, I tell you this: make the right choice.“You know how much the Italians love you, but it’s a sacrifice. If you go to Juve, it’s to work and to work HARD. This lot, ha, don’t know what a vacation is.“But that’s the choice. Either you want to continue playing to 2050 or just carry on for a bit. I can tell you this. If you go to Juve, you’ll be at the next World Cup not as a mascot, but as a protagonist. A PROTAGONIST!”
According to the Italian outlet, Calciomercato, Barcelona will have to beat the competition from Juventus and Bayern Munich if looking to secure the services of the €30m Stuttgart defender Benjamin Pavard.Ernesto Valverde is a big fan of the 22-year-old Frenchman, who emerged as one of the most pleasant surprises of the recently concluded FIFA World Cup in Russia. Although he already has some major defenders at his disposal, including Samuel Umtiti, Gerard Pique, and Clement Lenglet, the former Athletic Bilbao manager hopes to bring in another reliable option, as Nelson Semedo continues to struggle on the right-back position.Meanwhile, the Bianconeri have wrapped up the €40.4 million deal for Joao Cancelo, but Massimiliano Allegri is yet to be convinced by the performance of the former Valencia man. Additionally, Pavard’s versatility that enables him to cover multiple roles in the backline, as well as, a defensive-midfielder role is something that appeals the most to the Old Lady chief of staff.Juventus confirm Mario Mandzukic could leave this month Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Sporting director Fabio Paratici confirmed reports that Mario Mandzukic could leave Juventus for a move to an unnamed Qatari team.And of course, there are always the Bavarians when it comes to talented players who perform in the Bundesliga. With Joshua Kimmich residing as the only reliable right-back, Niko Kovac is looking for a solid backup, and the former Lille player has what it takes to break into the top-class team like Bayern Munich.As things stand, Stuttgart management can smile while figuring out what price-tag to slap on their in-demand man.
France were beaten 2-0 by the Netherlands away from home and the World Cup winners’ captain, Hugo Lloris, admitted that his team showed a really poor performance and they could have conceded even more goals.The Netherlands can win their group if they will manage to beat Germany away from home – and France will only have to hope that the Germans will be able to stand tall and deflect the Dutch attacks for the group win.Hugo Lloris admitted that the performance shown by his team was really weak and they didn’t deserve anything from this game, according to fourfourtwo.com:We played to the minimum of our potential and paid for it. The score could have been even more flattering for the Dutch.Report: Euro 2020 qualifying Group H George Patchias – September 11, 2019 Euro 2020 qualifying Group H is being controlled by France and Turkey, but Iceland is still in with a shout.Reigning world champions France ran…“We have to hope that the Germans beat them on Monday.”“We knew what to expect, we knew the level of the Netherlands, they had demonstrated it against Germany and Belgium in October and they turned in a great performance.”“We did not live up to it. It’s disappointing, now we no longer have our destiny in our hands.“In the coming days, we will have to analyse it even if it is not easy to find the right words.”
With a dominant performance against Al Ain, Real Madrid becomes the only club in history to win three consecutive FIFA Club World Cups.During a season that has been as difficult as the one Real Madrid is experiencing at the moment, Los Blancos desperately needed the FIFA Club World Cup in the final against Al Ain to boost their confidence during the post-Ronaldo era.The Arab club surprised the world when they managed to defeat River Plate in the semifinals, which gave them the right to play this match against Santiago Solari’s squad, but this is as far as they were going to get.The truth is that Real Madrid was way too superior and the Arabs had absolutely no chances to defeat the Spanish giants, they did make them suffer during the first 60 minutes of the match and only a long distance screamer in the first half from Modric was able to keep them ahead in the scoreline before a full hour had passed.The shot that the Croatian midfielder took just before the 15-minute mark, was the perfect culmination to an already fantastic year he has as an individual player.However, Los Blancos still didn’t have a secured result and they required to push themselves further in order to get more goals that could make them feel more confident.¡REAL MADRID, TRICAMPEÓN DEL MUNDO!El momento esperado por los merengues: ¡Cuando levantan el título como campeones del #MundialdeClubesxFOX!Revívelo pic.twitter.com/gxd4dvESY6— FOX Sports MX (@FOXSportsMX) December 22, 2018Already in the second half, it was a beautiful long-distance volley from Marcos Llorente what gave Los Blancos that confidence they needed.The Real Madrid product has been playing amazing football under Santiago Solari this season, this goal is a reward for that effort he’s been making in order to get noticed.But a Real Madrid final cannot be completed without a Sergio Ramos header during a corner kick, the magical moment happened just before the 80-minute mark after Luka Modric sent a cross straight into Ramos’ head.The skipper has now scored goals in two Champions League finals, two European Supercup final, and two Club World Cup finals as well.It was 3-0 already, Los Blancos had secured their result and another trophy for the museum inside the Santiago Bernabeu.But the final still wasn’t over, Al Ain did score a goal near the end of the match through Shiotani in order to at least find a little comfort in a very difficult night for them.Mourinho: “Lionel Messi made me a better coach” Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Jose Mourinho believes the experience of going up against Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi at Real Madrid made him a greater coach.Los Blancos still got a fourth goal after the 90th minute, they got it through an own goal scored by Yahia Nader.EL CAMINO AL TRICAMPEONATO #MundialdeClubesxFOX Así fue la goleada del Real Madrid al Al Ain en la Final⚽ – Modric (14′) ⚽ – Llorente (60′) ⚽ – Ramos (79′) ⚽ – Shiotani (86′) ⚽ – Nader [AG] (90′) pic.twitter.com/dBoXAQYywx— FOX Sports MX (@FOXSportsMX) December 22, 2018This 4-1 result was the final nail on Al Ain’s coffin, the one that sealed the result for Real Madrid and got them to claim the FIFA Club World Cup for the third consecutive time.Santiago Solari clearly stepped in with the right foot as the manager for this squad, he also reached a historic milestone that only four other managers have been able to accomplish it.The Argentine manager won the Intercontinental Cup back in 2002 as a Real Madrid player, today he wins the equivalent competition as a manager and writes his name next to the likes of Luis Cubilla, Juan Mujica, Carlo Ancelotti, and Zinedine Zidane.All five men were able to win the same competition both as players and managers.This result is worthy of celebration for Los Blancos, they will travel back to Spain and rest for the holidays but they will have to go back to reality soon after.This club is not doing so well in La Liga right now, maybe this new trophy can give them the boost they need in order to improve their results during the year of 2019.Congratulations to Real Madrid, they are the World Champions for the third consecutive year.🏆🎉 ¡CAMPEONES DEL MUNDO! #RMCWC | #HalaMadrid pic.twitter.com/MCwui6I5Mw— Real Madrid C.F.⚽ (@realmadrid) December 22, 2018Who was the player you liked the most in the final between Real Madrid and Al Ain? Please share your opinion in the comment section down below.
Colombian forward Luis Muriel is back in the Italian Lega Serie A, and as soon as he landed he spoke about how he feels now with Fiorentina.Colombian forward Luis Muriel has returned to the Italian Lega Serie A.The 27-year-old already knows the league, having played there with Udinese, Lecce, and Sampdoria.But he spent more than one year and a half with Sevilla in the Spanish La Liga.And now he signed with Fiorentina on a one-year loan with an option to buy him.Fiorentina owner: “Ribery played better than Ronaldo!” Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Fiorentina owner Rocco Commisso was left gushing over Franck Ribery’s performance against Juventus, which he rates above that of even Cristiano Ronaldo’s.“I am really happy to be here,” he told Gianluca Di Marzio.“I gave my word to [director of football Pantaleo] Corvino.”“I can’t wait to get on the field,” he said with a smile.“It is nice to return to Italy and it is a league that I know well.”