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Germany one of UEFA Euro 2024 favorites, says Matthaeus

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by Oliver Trust

BERLIN, March 27 (Xinhua) — Enthusiastic fan chants filled the Frankfurt arena as a determined team pushed its way to success, impressing pundits. The German national team seems rejuvenated after a remarkable transformation.

“We see and feel something that wasn’t there before,” remarked Real star Toni Kroos, the driving force behind the 2014 World Champions, upon his return after an absence of over two years.

“The team went through dark times and many months of drought, but we managed to build up faith and confidence in these two games and our training sessions,” the midfielder stated.

Having defeated France (2-0) and the Netherlands (2-1), two of Europe’s leading sides, feels like a refreshing restart without inherited burdens for the German national team.

The fundamental changes implemented by national coach Julian Nagelsmann have sparked a new spirit and opened doors for bold dreams, as not only German record international Lothar Matthaeus has redefined new goals for the Euro tournament host.

“From what I see, the team can win the trophy this summer,” said the 63-year-old former midfielder, who has been capped 150 times, referring to the Euro taking place from June 15 to July 15 in ten German arenas.

Just in time, Nagelsmann pressed the emergency button, leaving out established forces and relying on a strict performance pattern, only selecting players currently performing at a high level, regardless of the number of internationals in the German shirt.

Last autumn, Germany seemed to have hit rock bottom, suffering from two disappointing defeats against Turkey and Austria.

“We are back on track as we feel a new spirit, and things are going much better for everyone and the entire team,” said Bayern full-back and midfielder Joshua Kimmich.

Stuttgart full-back and national team newcomer Maximilian Mittelstaedt spoke of “something big” on the way.

Nagelsmann’s strategy to outline clear areas of responsibility for each of his players has created stability, while the coach has returned to a more conservative line-up, paying attention to the team’s defense.

A back row of four with two midfielders ahead is allowing offensive forces such as Jamal Musiala, Florian Wirtz, Ilkay Guendogan, and Kai Havertz to initiate surprising attacks.

With Mittelstaedt and Kimmich, the German coach seems to have solved the full-back problem that the team had been suffering from for several years.

With Union midfielder Robert Andrich, Nagelsmann seems to have found the holding six, covering the defensive midfield part aside from conducting Kroos.

While several newcomers and returnees enjoy the upswing, left-out players such as Dortmund’s stars Mats Hummels, Niklas Suele, Emre Can, and Julian Brandt, aside from Bayern’s Leon Goretzka, are in danger of missing Euro 2024.

Regarding his job as a project focused solely on the Euro outcome, Nagelsmann has instilled confidence by creating a tight-knit community.

Both recent victories have revitalized Germany’s national team, and as a side effect, previously disappointed fans are once again backing their team.

Source(s): Xinhua

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Xavi’s magic substitutions lead Barcelona to victory in thrilling encounter with PSG

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PARIS, April 10 (Xinhua) — Barcelona’s manager, Xavi Hernandez, showcased his tactical genius by making two substitutions that led directly to goals, propelling his team to a thrilling 3-2 victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals on Wednesday.

The game was an emotional rollercoaster, with Barcelona initially taking the lead, only to fall behind, and then executing a stunning comeback.

Brazilian forward Raphinha scored twice, including the opener in the first half, taking advantage of a mistake by PSG’s goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma to net his first Champions League goal at the 37-minute mark.

PSG quickly turned the tables after halftime, with Ousmane Dembele and Vitinha scoring to give the Parisians a 2-1 advantage.

It was at this juncture that Xavi made a tactical masterstroke. In the 61st minute, he brought on Rodri and Joao Felix for Lamine Yamal and Sergi Roberto, a change that quickly paid off.

Pedri, just two minutes after coming on, lofted a perfect pass to Raphinha, who calmly finished past Donnarumma, drawing the teams level.

In the 76th minute, Xavi’s strategic acumen was on display again when he substituted Andreas Christensen and Ferran Torres for Frenkie de Jong and the key player Raphinha. Christensen scored with a header from a corner just a minute later, sealing a dramatic comeback for Barcelona.

“Pedri came on and helped us a lot. I’m very proud of the team. Christensen also came on and helped,” Xavi said. “Tactically we did really well.”

Since Xavi announced his departure from the team at the end of the season following a January defeat to Villarreal, Barcelona has been unbeaten in 12 matches across all competitions, a stark contrast to PSG’s previous unbeaten streak of 27 matches, which ended with this loss.

“We made things a bit difficult for ourselves. We managed to turn things around in the second half and could have had a third (goal),” PSG coach Luis Enrique said. “Everything’s still open for us and we will go there with ambition.”

The return leg is set for April 16th at Barcelona’s home ground.

Source(s): Xinhua

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Liverpool miss chances to return to Premier League lead

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LONDON, April 7 (Xinhua) — Liverpool failed to return to the top of the Premier League on Sunday after they were held to a 2-2 draw after a thrilling game away to Manchester United at Old Trafford.

The result leaves Liverpool level on points with Arsenal at the top of the table, but Arsenal, who won 3-0 away to Brighton on Saturday, remain leaders on goal difference.

Liverpool took a 23rd minute lead when Darwin Nunez flicked on for Luis Diaz to fire home from a corner that was badly defended by Manchester United and Liverpool went on to create and miss enough chances to have the game sewn up by halftime.

They paid for their profligacy after 50 minutes, when Bruno Fernandes scored from inside of the center circle after a horrible pass from Jarell Quansah gave the ball away with Caoimhin Kelleher stranded outside his penalty area.

It was 2-1 to United in the 67th minute when Kobbie Mainoo turned in the corner of the Liverpool penalty area and curled a shot home at the far corner on the net.

Mohamed Salah saved a point for Liverpool after 63 minutes from the penalty spot and both sides had chances in the closing minutes.

Liverpool and Arsenal are a point ahead of Manchester City after Pep Guardiola’s side won 4-2 away to Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Tottenham move into fourth place after beating Nottingham Forest 3-1 at home on Sunday evening after second half goals from Mickey van de Ven and Pedro Porro assured them victory. The first half of the game saw Nottingham forward Chris Wood’s 27th minute header cancel out Murillo’s own goal.

Chelsea conceded a 93rd minute goal away to Sheffield United as Ollie McBurnie saved a point for the home side that won’t be enough to keep them in the top-flight, but which once again exposed Chelsea’s flaws.

Chelsea led twice through Thiago Silva and Noni Madueke, but were pinned back, first through Jaydon Bogle and McBurnie’s late finish from four yards after beating the Chelsea offside trap.

Source(s): Xinhua

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Development of four synthetic tracks underway

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Minister of Sports, Fitness and Recreation Abdulla Rafiu has revealed that development of four synthetic tracks in Maldives is underway. He made these remarks while officiating the ceremony to celebrate the victory of Marathon Runners Maldives athletes, following their participation in the Runtalya Marathon.

Marathon Runners Maldives athletes had reportedly secured second position in the contest. Additionally, Yusuf Ibrahim broke the national record for the full marathon with an outstanding long run performance.

Speaking at the ceremony, Minister reiterated the need to enhance the resources to compete globally. He further emphasised the ongoing efforts for track maintenance and the simultaneous development of four synthetic tracks as part of the India’s Line of Credit.

Athlete Nasrullah Ahmed had also participated in the Runtalya Marathon, marking his 95th race. Co-currently, he aims to achieve a milestone by completing his 100th marathon.

Source(s): PsmNews

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