Month: December 2018

Lionel Messi: Neymar return from PSG welcome; Barcelona my ‘home’

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And, while Messi said he believes a reunion for the pair in Spain is unlikely, he would be delighted should it happen.

“It would be difficult,” Messi, 31, told Marca when asked about the idea of the Brazil international returning to Barca. “We would love it if he came back for what he means as a player and in the dressing room.nike nfl jerseys for cheap

“We are friends, we enjoyed nice moments, as well some which were not so nice, but we spent a lot of time together. It is undoubtedly difficult to imagine him leaving Paris. PSG won’t let Neymar go.”8

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has said he would love to have Neymar back at Camp Nou, while ruling out the possibility of leaving the Catalan side.

Neymar, 26, left Barca to join Paris Saint-Germain in a world record €222 million deal in 2017. Since leaving, he has regularly been linked with a return to the club — as well as a move to rivals Real Madrid.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

“I don’t need to change anything,” Messi said. “I am playing for the best team in the world.

“My goals change from year to year. I don’t need to change team or league in order to find new objectives.

“I am at home, at the best team in the world and I don’t have any reason to want to change.”

Former Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood has died at age of 82

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Hill-Wood served as chairman for 31 years after taking over the post from his father, Denis Hill-Wood, in 1982. He stepped down because of health reasons in 2013, handing over to Chips Keswick.

“It is with deep regret that we announce the death of former chairman Peter Hill-Wood, at the age of 82,” Arsenal said in a statement. “During his time at the helm, the club enjoyed unparalleled success.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

“Early in Peter’s tenure he presided over the appointment of George Graham as manager and a subsequent, trophy-laden spell that incorporated two league titles, the FA Cup, League Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup.

“That success was followed by the remarkable era of Arsene Wenger, appointed by Peter and the board of directors to some surprise from the footballing world in 1996.”7

While Hill-Wood was not in charge of any football operations as chairman, he helped oversee the move from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium. His family have been an integral part of Arsenal since the 1920s, with his grandfather Samuel Hill-Wood having also served as club chairman.nike nfl jerseys for cheap

He was initially against Stan Kroenke’s takeover of the club, saying in 2007 that “we don’t need Kroenke’s money and we don’t want his sort.”

However, he ended up selling his last shares in the club to Kroenke, having previously allowed former vice-chairman David Dein to buy up most of his holdings.

“As we celebrate the unique achievement of 100 consecutive years in the top flight this season, the Hill-Wood family were at the helm for the lion’s share of this special century, a testament to their tenacity and judgment in ensuring we have remained a significant force in English football for so long,” Arsenal said. “Peter and his family’s influence on the club cannot be understated, but at this most difficult time for his family and friends, it is Peter the man who we remember with great fondness.

Popovich exercising patience as Spurs navigate uneven start to season

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So when the embarrassing San Antonio Spurs losses stacked early in December the way the sweaty jerseys piled on the floor of the locker room after their 108-101 setback Saturday at the hands of the Houston Rockets, the organization seemed almost flippant in not displaying even the slightest hint of frustration.

Step 2 in this process involves the players justifying Popovich’s faith by continuing to make strides toward achieving continuity through trust in one another and familiarity from time spent together on and off the court. Despite the loss to the Rockets, the Spurs believe they’re getting there.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

With 10 new players on the roster (counting two-way players), San Antonio appears to be trending toward its consistency of old.

“We’ve gotten better for sure,” LaMarcus Aldridge said after finishing with 18 points and six rebounds. “We’re playing a better brand of basketball. I think we’ve learned how to play with each other.”8

Until the third quarter of Saturday’s game, that certainly appeared to be the case. San Antonio built an early seven-point lead in the second quarter, and led at intermission 43-41 despite shooting just 38.6 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from range.

But Houston changed the complexion of the game in the third quarter with a high-powered display from long range. Houston knocked down nine 3-pointers in the third quarter, which ranked as its most long-range connections of any quarter so far this season. The Rockets drained 69.2 percent of those attempts, outscoring San Antonio 43-26 in the quarter to go up 84-69 at the buzzer on Gary Clark’s 25-footer. Houston jumped out to an 18-9 run over the first six minutes of the quarter.

Eric Gordon then handed Houston its largest lead of the night (17 points) just 15 seconds into the fourth quarter on a driving layup.

Still, San Antonio found a way to cut through the deficit to go up 97-96 with 3:03 left to play on a Rudy Gay 3-pointer off an assist from DeMar DeRozan.buy nike nfl jerseys cheap

“We stayed in it and fought,” said DeRozan, who led the Spurs with 28 points and eight assists. “We had a chance. It came down to a couple of rebounds. I thought we could’ve taken advantage of the one-point lead. We fought. We’ve got to be happy about that. But we can’t have the start in third quarter like we had.”

The Spurs also can’t afford to be outworked on the boards the way they were in this one. Houston held the rebounding edge 58-43, but where that showed up most was in second-chance scoring. The Rockets scored 26 second-chance points to San Antonio’s seven.

Al Horford returns for Celtics just as Boston searches for consistency

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Any discussion about the Boston Celtics over this holiday weekend was centered around the team meeting that took place after Friday’s dismal showing at home against the Milwaukee Bucks.

There was plenty more talk about it after the Celtics came out and blew the doors off the Charlotte Hornets Sunday night, winning 119-103 here at TD Garden in a game that wasn’t nearly that close. But what had a far bigger impact on the Celtics than a team meeting — both Sunday night and moving forward — was the return of Al Horford after a seven-game absence with a knee injury.
Horford has always been a player, going back to his first days in the league with the Atlanta Hawks more than a decade ago, who has filled in whatever gaps his team has needed him to. That’s no different in Boston, where Horford provides the Celtics with both elite passing and spacing at the center spot offensively — not to mention marshaling a defense that once again ranks among the NBA’s best.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

His presence was a big part of why the Celtics beat the Bucks here in Boston on Nov. 1 — and it was no coincidence things were much different without him spacing the floor and contorting Milwaukee’s defense Friday night. Ditto Boston’s mastery over the Philadelphia 76ers the past two years — and why his return, coming on the eve of Boston’s rematch with Philadelphia in a Christmas Day showdown, couldn’t have come at a better time as far as the Celtics are concerned.7

“It’s tough when there are so many guys in and out of the lineup and so many things [changing],” Horford said. “It puts a lot of pressure on some of our guys, so it’s just good we’re getting healthy. Marcus Morris being back, that’s huge for us, me being back obviously. [Aron] Baynes is out now but at least we are getting healthy again, so that is all going to help our offense, and help our team.”cheap nfl nike jerseys china

There have been plenty of things contributing to Boston’s wild swings back and forth throughout this season thus far. Arguably the biggest, though, has been Horford’s play. When he plays well — as he did in Boston’s run to the brink of the NBA Finals last season without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward — the Celtics are a far different team. This season, though, he has looked hampered by his balky knee, which Boston labeled as patellofemoral pain syndrome during his recent seven-game hiatus.

Between Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, Milwaukee’s Brook Lopez, Toronto’s Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas, and Indiana’s Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis, each of the other contenders in the East has weapons at the pivot that Boston will need Horford to square off against — and, often, get the better of — if the Celtics want to be the team they were expected to be before this season began.

Jaylen Samuels latest cog in Steelers’ plug-and-play run game

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That Samuels, a fifth-round rookie, just ripped off 142 yards against New England — the most ever by a Steelers player against the Patriots, according to ESPN Stats & Information — is a credit to both Samuels’ development and a Steelers offense that has had success with a variety of backs.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Le’Veon Bell will seek an all-world contract for his All-Pro production, averaging nearly 130 total yards per game since 2013. His numbers are so prolific they prompted him to sit out the entire 2018 season to make sure nothing happens to them.

But when Bell’s out of the game, the Steelers can get their numbers, too.10

DeAngelo Williams rushed for 1,250 yards and 15 touchdowns on 298 carries from 2015 to ’16, starting 14 games with Bell out.

James Conner, who’s working his way back from a high ankle sprain, has 1,053 yards and 12 touchdowns on 233 career carries. Though Conner’s production dipped in November, he was the AFC’s most potent weapon in October and has a conference player of the month award to show for it.

In 12 games and two starts, Samuels has 201 yards on 42 carries.

Those three have combined for 2,504 yards on the ground while in Pittsburgh, along with 982 yards on 126 receptions. In a little more than two years of starter’s work, that’s nearly 3,500 yards — not Bell-level production, but solid nonetheless.

Even Jordan Todman and Fitz Toussaint, who are both out of the league, combined for 123 yards on 28 carries in a 2016 playoff win over Cincinnati.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

“That just shows we’ve had good running backs,” guard David DeCastro said with a smile.

DeCastro doesn’t need to say it, but one of the league’s most consistent offensive lines, a high-level quarterback and weapons on the outside open rushing lanes for backs. What Bell did with those lanes won’t be overlooked and will get him seriously paid.

How Germany helped flip the NFC Pro Bowl fan voting

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San Francisco 49ers linebacker Mark Nzeocha isn’t a household name. At least not in America.

But in his home country of Germany, Nzeocha’s name is starting to ring out like the most famous German professional athlete in American sports: legendary Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

For proof of Nzeocha’s blossoming fame in his home country, look at fan voting for this year’s Pro Bowl. Amid the usual suspects topping the ballot, there sits Nzeocha as the leading vote-getter in the NFC for the special-teams spot.

Fan voting ended Thursday with Nzeocha racking up 183,150 votes, most among all special-teamers. According to the NFL, roughly 80 percent (146,520) of Nzeocha’s votes came from Germany. Nzeocha had support from all over Germany, not just his tiny home municipality of Neusitz. Unless, of course, every person in Neusitz voted for Nzeocha roughly 71 times.9

“Honestly, it means the world,” Nzeocha said. “The football community in Germany is so small and it’s such a tight-knit group, it’s just like if one of us makes it, everyone is behind him. Which is super, super cool to see. … It’s still a new sport in Germany and the interest is growing, which is really cool to see. I guess they have shown all the Sunday games on free TV now and more and more people are really getting into the sport, which honestly can only help the sport in Germany and it helps the NFL, too, just expanding the platform. It’s a great thing.”

According to Motzkus, the broadcast for each week’s games featured reports on Nzeocha and the network’s website featured information on Nzeocha and Pro Bowl voting. Beyond that, RanSport and NFL Deutschland made regular use of their social media channels, putting out tweets that could be retweeted by fans, which would count as a vote for Nzeocha. One such tweet from RanSport on Nov. 29 garnered 805 retweets, good for as many votes.

“Mark gets the support of the whole football nation in Germany,” Motzkus said. “We are very proud to have a player in the best football league of the world. He has a lot of supporters in his homeland.”cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Among them is the German fan organization that specifically supports the 49ers, known as “The Niners Empire Germany.” That group also did extensive work to get out the vote for Nzeocha.

You might be a better hitter than these five pitchers

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One of major league baseball’s great unanswerables is how hard it is. We know it’s extremely hard. The best in the world often struggle at it. But we don’t know how hard — how hard it would be for, say, you.

That’s because managers don’t play a random sample of us against the stars. They play only the very best, and even those very best players are quickly removed if they don’t look credible against the other very bests. The only exceptions to this design are when batters pitch, and when pitchers bat, because in neither event was the player selected for his skill at the task. Instead he is, as close as we get to see,nfl nike jerseys cheap china a randomly assigned adult attempting to do a major league act against a major league player.

But even position players pitching are a flawed experiment, because they all have great arms and they mostly pitch only when the competitive environment has unraveled. If we got to see designated hitters pitch in two high-leverage moments every game, then maybe we’d start to learn about how hard pitching actually is, but we don’t.10

Thankfully, we do get to see that on the other side. One or two times in every National League game the pitcher has to bat. The skill set for which the pitcher was selected from a very young age has virtually nothing to do with hitting, besides general athleticism, awareness of baseball strategy and a desire to go outside. While we can assume that the average pitcher will be a much, much better hitter than the average adult — just as he’s probably a better football player and badminton player than the average adult — the very bottom of the group should theoretically be pretty close to Like Us. If Aaron Nola were only as good at hitting as you are — if he simply couldn’t identify a 95-mph fastball quickly enough to convincingly swing at it — he’d still have ended up a major league pitcher. cheap nike nfl jerseys from china His inability to hit wouldn’t have been any obstacle to his progression to the majors.

Again, most pitchers won’t be that guy. But almost 400 pitchers were forced — forced, not selected — to bat in the majors this year. At least one of them has to be that guy, and by that guy, I mean: You. The person who meets this standard will be baseball’s true hero. It’s easy to go on TV and do something you can do. It’s courageous to go on TV and do something you outrageously can’t.

Orioles looking to new manager Brandon Hyde to help lead rebuild

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Hyde takes over for Buck Showalter, who was fired after Baltimore finished 47-115 — the worst record in the majors. This will be Hyde’s first stint as a major league manager.

Hyde, 45, was selected by general manager Mike Elias, who began an extensive search for Showalter’s replacement after being hired last month to replace Dan Duquette.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

“I believe that we have found the ideal leader for the next era of Orioles baseball,” Elias said of Hyde.

Hyde worked as Chicago’s bench coach this year under manager Joe Maddon. He was in the second of three seasons as Cubs first-base coach when the team won the World Series in 2016.9
Prior to joining the Cubs, Hyde spent nine seasons in the Miami Marlins organization. He was Miami’s bench coach from June 2010 through the end of the 2011 season.

“Brandon’s deep background in player development and major league coaching — most recently helping to shape the Cubs into a world champion — has thoroughly prepared him for this job and distinguished him throughout our interview process,” Elias said.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

Elias and Hyde will seek to develop a team that shifted into rebuild mode last July under Duquette, who traded away many of the team’s stars — most notably Manny Machado, Zach Britton, Jonathan Schoop and Kevin Gausman — for 15 prospects and international bonus pool money in moves that cut payroll from $151 million to $136 million.

On the day he was introduced by Baltimore, Elias spoke about the significance of landing the right manager to shape the Orioles into a team that can be competitive in the AL East.

“This is an important hire,” Elias said on Nov. 19. “… It’s not something you rush. We want to get the right person for this time.”

Thousands celebrate Vietnam’s AFF Cup triumph over Malaysia

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Football fever gripped Vietnam again on Saturday night as thousands of fans flocked to the streets of the capital Hanoi to celebrate their country’s victory over Malaysia in the AFF Cup final.

Nguyen Anh Duc’s sixth minute volley secured a first regional title since 2008 for Vietnam and after the final whistle the streets around the My Dinh Stadium were soon teeming with flag-waving fans.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

The supporters lit flares, waved national flags, blew vuvuzelas and honked car horns in a party atmosphere, a rare sight in the southeast Asian country but one seen three times this year after Vietnamese soccer success.

Similar celebrations occurred when Vietnam reached the final of the under-23 Asian Cup in January and again when they reached the semifinals of the Asian Games tournament in August.10

All three teams were coached by Park Hang-seo and his contribution was recognised by a number of South Korean flags carried by the revellers.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

“It is truly wonderful,” Hanoi resident Vu Tong Tien told Reuters.

“We have so much to thank Mr Park Hang-seo for. Thank you Mr Park for bringing us this festive atmosphere and a success that the whole nation have been waiting for. Really, thank you, Mr Park Hang Seo.”

The feeling of affection is clearly mutual for the man some Vietnamese have dubbed the “wizard.”

“We got a lot of love from the Vietnamese people,” Park said in the post-match press conference.

“I really appreciate them and their amazing support. It really is an honour for me to receive that kind of huge support and love.”

Malaysia needed to score to have any hope of winning the title after a 2-2 draw in the opening leg in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.

Vietnam crowned Southeast Asia’s best, Malaysia defy expectations

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Ten years after winning their first AFF Suzuki Cup, Vietnam won a second on Saturday, turning the streets of Hanoi and Saigon red with delight as fans celebrated 3-2 aggregate victory over Malaysia.

In the end, Vietnam were just a little too good for their regional rivals over the two legs. And the same was true in the tournament overall. The Golden Stars were consistently the best team from the beginning — a 3-0 win over Laos — to the end, a 1-0 second leg victory over Malaysia.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Vietnam had stars such as Nguyen Quang Hai, the best player at the tournament, and capable of pulling the strings in attack at the tender age of 21. They had goalscorers, like Nguyen Anh Duc, whose early second leg volley in Hanoi did so much to deflate Malaysian hopes. After that it was always going to be be hard going. Vietnam also had the best defence in Southeast Asia with just four goals conceded in eight games, and the mighty Moscow-born Dang Van Lam in between the sticks.9

Most important of all, the tournament champions had Park Hang-seo on the sidelines — or “The Korean Hiddink.” After taking over the team in 2017, the South Korean has made what has always been a talented team harder to beat. His brand of counter-attacking football, balanced with a fitter and stronger team of players has worked. It is no surprise that he has reached hero status in the country and a documentary on his life that was released into nationwide theatres last week is going to be playing for some time to come.

It is the way it happened that really impressed however. Under Cheng Hoe, the team is attack-minded and aggressive. There is a defensive core set up with the central pairing working together well for the most part, flanked by exciting full-backs. Holding midfielders have performed with energy and intelligence with speedy and skilful wingers ready to run at defenders and get behind backlines. It has been exciting to watch.

And the nation has been excited and has put aside its recent frostiness to embrace the team with warmth, affection and passion. The nights at the Bukit Jalil with numerous attendances of over 80,000 with an atmosphere off the scale will be the enduring image of the tournament for many.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

For Malaysia, the challenge is to keep this fire burning, to allow it to grow and fuel a sustained rise to the top of Southeast Asian football. There is still much to be done but the start has been impressive and magnificent to watch.