Liverpool can move very close to making the Premier League title theirs when the leaders face Everton tonight, even as the relegation battle takes centre stage in the first full weekend of top-flight action.
Jurgen Klopp’s side is going to play its first match since the Premier League was suspended in March over the COVID-19 pandemic. Liverpool is 22 points ahead of Manchester City, and need just two wins from their remaining nine games to end their 30-year wait to be crowned English champions.
Also Read | East Bengal Faces a New Identity Crisis, Lost In A Web of Its Own Making
“Now I have had a lot of time to read. I had to Google the word ‘asterisk’. I only knew the word from a comic!” Klopp said.
“This is the most difficult year and season to become champions, 100 percent. It is an interrupted season, like has never happened before.
“Whoever will be champions, it will be historic because it is a year that we will never forget. Give us an asterisk, yes. We cannot do a lot of things that we usually can do but in this specific case at least we can say this is really special. That’s why we enjoy the little asterisk there,” he added.
India U-16 Ready for Asian Challenge
Indian Under-16 football team head coach Bibiano Fernandes is optimistic about the side’s performance at the AFC U-16 Championship in Bahrain later this year. India has been handed a tough group but Fernandes believes the experience from 2018 will come in handy.
“I was following the draw live but I did not keep any expectations for it. When I saw our group, I told myself that my team has already given a good account of themselves in qualifiers. I believe from the bottom of my heart that these boys can perform against the countries in the group,” Bibiano said.
India is currently clubbed with South Korea, Uzbekistan and Australia in Group C in the draw that took place in the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Thursday. In 2018, India lost to South Korea in the quarterfinals by a single goal that could have earned them a slot in the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
However, Bibiano dismissed anyone who called the match against Korea Republic to be a ‘revenge match’.
“It looks like that — doesn’t it,” he laughed. “But Korea will also think on the same lines. What’s important at this stage is how soon we can get back to training. The boys need to hit the right chords before the tournament starts.”
“There are so many things you can learn. The way you look at the tournament and change your approach is one of them. We learnt from our experiences from 2018 and have hence, changed and instilled the learnings while scouting these boys, and also in training.”
New Players Signings
Indian Super League (ISL) side FC Goa signed 22-year-old defender Sanson Pereira from Salgaocar SC on a two year deal. A left-back by trade, the youngster joined Gaurs after a stellar performance for Salgaocar SC in the Goa Pro League.
“I am really excited. I am an FC Goa fan and it was always my dream to put on the colours, words can’t describe how it feels to me,” Pereira said.
Bengaluru FC (BFC) also signed a new player -- Brazilian striker Cleiton Silva for a one-year deal. As per the agreement, BFC has the option of extending Silva’s contract for another year.
Also Read | USTA Backtracks On Decision Regarding Wheelchair Tournament
“I have been following the club for some time now, because we were in talks a while ago. And I liked what I saw. I am looking forward to making my way to Bengaluru and am excited to meet my new teammates, the fans and embrace the city,” said Silva.
Silva is now BFC’s first new foreign signing of the season after the club extended its deals with Juanan Gonzalez, Dimas Delgado and Erik Paartalu.
Sochi Forces Rostov to Field Teenagers
Russian league resumed on June 19 and Sochi made the most of Rostov's coronavirus condition as they thrashed a team of teenagers 10-1.
Rostov, who currently stands in fourth position, was sent into quarantine after six players tested positive for Covid-19. But hosts Sochi pushed for the fixture to go ahead as they wanted to get vital points to boost their battle against relegation.
None of the Rostov squad had played at the top level, the oldest in the 18-man squad was just 19, there were two 16 year-olds, 12 were 17 and three 18.
"We were weaker than our opponents only in terms of our physical characteristics," said 17-year-old Roman Romanov, who gave Rostov a first-minute lead, told Match TV.
Russian international striker Aleksandr Kokorin scored a hat-trick for Sochi.
On Thursday, the Russian Football Federation extended an offer to postpone the match till July 19, but both clubs had to be in agreement for that to happen, and struggling Sochi declined.
A petition organised by Rostov's main sponsor requested Sochi to show "solidarity" but in vain.
"Let's remind ourselves of the values this sport teaches us. A dignified fight, honest competition, respect for our adversary..." the petition signed by more than 1,000 people said.
Lampard Denies Kante Sale Rumours
Frank Lampard denied Chelsea is going to raise funds for Bayer Leverkusen’s Kai Havertz and Leicester’s Ben Chilwell by selling N’Golo Kante.
Chelsea are looking to get Havertz and Chilwell in the squad after they confirmed the signing of RB Leipzig’s Timo Werner and Ajax’s Hakim Ziyech. But Lampard insisted he is not ready to let go of Kanté, even though the manager accepted some squad members are likely to get sold after the transfer window opens.
“In terms of N’Golo, I’ve seen some talk and reports about him and his future at the club,” Lampard said. “I’ve said it a lot of times about N’Golo – one of the best midfield players in the world. I would have loved to be able to play with him. He has everything.”
Chelsea is going to have until June 24 to convince Pedro and Willian to extend their contracts past June 30. Pedro has agreed to join Roma on a free transfer and there is very little clarity on Willian’s future. Lampard expects to use the wingers for the trip to Aston Villa, and home game against Manchester City coming Thursday, and next Sunday’s FA Cup quarterfinal against Leicester.
Read more sports stories from Newsclick