Championship fixtures 2019-20: Derby start at Huddersfield, Fulham visit Barnsley

Derby County, beaten by Aston Villa in last season’s play-off final, begin the new Championship season away at Huddersfield Town.

Huddersfield Town face a tricky opening fixture against Derby County on their return to the Championship, while Fulham play newly promoted Barnsley first up.

Huddersfield and Fulham were relegated from the Premier League last season, along with Cardiff City, but start the new campaign with contrasting fixtures.

Beaten play-off finalists Derby – managed by Frank Lampard, the favourite for the Chelsea job – go to Huddersfield to conclude the opening round of fixtures on August 5.

Jan Siewert’s side face a particularly tough start, with Fulham and Cardiff also on the agenda in their first four matches.

The season starts on August 2 with League One winners Luton Town hosting Middlesbrough, while Charlton Athletic travel to Blackburn Rovers and Cardiff visit Wigan Athletic the following day.

The regular season will end on May 2, with Leeds United versus Charlton perhaps the pick of the final-day fixtures.

The ‘spygate’ saga from 2018-19 saw Leeds and Derby forge a rivalry that included a play-off semi-final win for Lampard’s men, and they play at Elland Road on September 21, before a crunch clash at Pride Park on the penultimate weekend.

Cardiff’s relegation means a reprisal of the South Wales derby with Swansea City on October 26 and January 11.

Luton host Fulham on Boxing Day, while West Brom – also beaten play-off semi-finalists – entertain Leeds on New Year’s Day.

Berizzo: Paraguay dropped two points against Argentina

Argentina are facing Copa America elimination after a draw against Paraguay, but Eduardo Berizzo believes his side should have won.

Paraguay coach Eduardo Berizzo felt his side should have beaten Argentina, who held them to a 1-1 draw at the Copa America after Lionel Messi’s equaliser.

Messi’s penalty cancelled out Paraguay’s opener from Richard Sanchez, but Argentina could not rally for a second goal and have just one point heading into their final Group B game against Qatar.

Berizzo believes the 14-time champions were lucky to even emerge with that return, though, claiming La Albirroja should have won after seeing Franco Armani save a Derlis Gonzalez spot-kick.

Paraguay have never tasted victory against Argentina at a Copa America.

“I would not like to look pretentious, but I think we lost two points,” Berizzo told reporters.

“We had the best chances, we did not get much against us, and the development of the game, even when Argentina had more possession, was right, it was solid. They lacked a threat against us.

“It makes me think that, if we converted that penalty or scored on the counter-attack, we would have deserved the victory.”

Berizzo was particularly enthused by the work Paraguay did to shackle Messi.

“We closed the avenues to Messi’s position, we did not let him run and neutralised him,” he said. “We worked well to surround him and stopped his team-mates’ passes, so there were not many dangerous situations.

“Given the quality of the opponent, this was the best match since I became coach, not only for surrounding Messi but for the personality of our play, taking ownership, believing in the plan.

“We hada great display until the end against Argentina, who demand a high defensive effort.”

Argentina are bottom of the group due to their opening loss to Colombia, who are already through and play Berizzo’s Paraguay next.

All change in Serie A: The task awaiting Sarri, Conte, Giampaolo and Fonseca

With Roma, Inter, Juventus and AC Milan all appointing new bosses since the end of 2018-19, we take a look at the tasks awaiting them.

Serie A promises to be fascinating next season, with four of the biggest clubs in the league under new leadership.

Champions Juventus surprisingly parted company with Massimiliano Allegri and replaced him with Maurizio Sarri despite winning the title yet again, although runners-up Napoli have stuck with Carlo Ancelotti.

Inter and AC Milan both appointed new head coaches, with Antonio Conte and Marco Giampaolo taking charge respectively, while Paulo Fonseca is the new man in the Roma dugout.

But what do the four men need to do to make a success of their new jobs? Omnisport takes a look.

Maurizio Sarri (Juventus)

Perhaps the most daunting task awaits Sarri next season, as he attempts to follow in the footsteps of Allegri, who won five consecutive Scudetti. Indeed, the last campaign in which the Bianconeri did not win the title was 2010-11, and if Sarri cannot sustain their dominance his spell in Turin could be short-lived.

What’s more, he will be tasked with turning an Allegri team that, for all its success, was criticised for playing dour, defensive football into the kind of free-flowing, passing side Sarri created at Napoli. He was unable to make that transformation happen during a tumultuous year at Chelsea, but perhaps a return to Serie A will rekindle his particular brand of magic.


Paulo Fonseca (Roma)

Roma narrowly missed out on a place in next season’s Champions League, leaving new coach Fonseca in charge of a club in need of a morale-boosting return to Serie A’s top four.

The Giallorossi will still be expected to progress in the Europa League and Fonseca arrives in Rome with a strong track record in continental competition, having guided Shakhtar Donetsk to the last 16 of the Champions League in 2017-18. However, he will need to get more out of a talented group of players and keep on top of what Francesco Totti claimed has become a toxic environment at the Stadio Olimpico.

Antonio Conte (Inter)

Inter’s return to the Champions League did not go according to plan in 2018-19, and despite having their fate in their own hands, Luciano Spalletti’s side dropped out in the group stage and lost to Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League round of 16. Spalletti did secure a second successive top-four finish, though, meaning Conte’s primary target will be to better the performance in Europe’s elite competition, while also closing the gap on Napoli – if not Juventus quite yet – who finished 10 points above the Nerazzurri.

Mauro Icardi is the elephant in the room and getting the best out of the striker who was stripped of the captaincy as a dispute over a new contract rumbled on in the second half of last season will also be top of Conte’s to-do list, should the Argentine remain at San Siro. If not, then it could well be Romelu Lukaku who leads Inter’s line next term.


Marco Giampaolo (AC Milan)

Giampaolo’s task will be, on the face of it, a simple one – gain qualification for the Champions League. Gennaro Gattuso’s failure to do just that ultimately cost the Milan icon his job at San Siro. It was a frustrating campaign for Milan and having led Sampdoria to a ninth-place finish last season, Giampaolo must now settle on a system that can see the Rossoneri challenge for the top four.

Milan’s squad does not have the quality it once did but Giampaolo has a natural goalscorer at his disposal in Krzysztof Piatek. However, his first port of call should be to solidify a defence that was left exposed under Gattuso, with Gianluigi Donnarumma having to come to their rescue far too often.

Messi: We’re convinced we will beat Qatar

Argentina star Lionel Messi

Despite having just one point from two Copa America games, Lionel Messi said Argentina still had plenty of confidence.

Lionel Messi said Argentina were “convinced” they would beat Qatar in their final group game at the Copa America.

Lionel Scaloni’s side are facing a group-stage exit after being held to a 1-1 draw by Paraguay in Group B on Wednesday.

Messi scored a second-half penalty to cancel out Richard Sanchez’s goal in Belo Horizonte, while Argentina needed Franco Armani to save a Derlis Gonzalez spot-kick to preserve their first point of the tournament.

Even a win over Qatar on Sunday may not be enough for Argentina, but Messi said there was plenty of confidence in his team.

“I see the team convinced that we will win the next match,” he told reporters.

 

Messi added: “We have to keep looking for the team and improve.”

Argentina struggled throughout the first half and fell behind to Sanchez’s 37th-minute goal, before Messi equalised after a penalty was awarded following a VAR review for handball.

Armani stepped up for Argentina in the 63rd minute, though, diving to his left to push away a Gonzalez penalty.

 

Messi felt his side earned their point, saying: “The first few minutes we managed the ball well.

“After the goal, we messed up a bit. In the second half, we went with everything and we got the draw.”

Argentina are bottom of the group on one point, behind Colombia (six), Paraguay two) and Qatar (one).

A football genius and Lionel Messi – Newcastle poke fun at Argentina great and hail Almiron

Paraguay midfielder Miguel Almiron and Argentina star Lionel Messi

Miguel Almiron’s Newcastle United poked fun at Lionel Messi after Paraguay’s Copa America draw with Argentina.

Newcastle United poked fun at Lionel Messi after Miguel Almiron helped Paraguay earn a 1-1 draw with Argentina at the Copa America on Wednesday.

Almiron set up Richard Sanchez’s opener with a brilliant run, but Messi’s second-half penalty saw the spoils shared in the Group B clash in Belo Horizonte.

Derlis Gonzalez had a chance from the penalty spot for Paraguay, but his effort was saved by Franco Armani in the 63rd minute.

Still, Newcastle took the chance to poke fun at Messi while hailing Almiron, who joined the Premier League club from Atlanta United in January.

 

“A football genius and Lionel Messi,” they wrote alongside a photo of Almiron and the Argentina great.

Almiron joined Newcastle for a reported club-record £21million in January, making 10 Premier League appearances to finish the season.

Argentina lucky to be alive at Copa America – Scaloni

Argentina forward Lionel Messi

Argentina are only just alive at the Copa America and Lionel Scaloni accepts they are fortunate.

Lionel Scaloni admitted Argentina were “lucky” to still be alive in the Copa America after a 1-1 draw with Paraguay on Wednesday.

Lionel Messi’s second-half penalty cancelled out Richard Sanchez’s goal in the Group B clash in Belo Horizonte.

But Argentina also needed goalkeeper Franco Armani, who saved a spot-kick from Derlis Gonzalez to earn his side their first point of the tournament.

Scaloni, whose team are facing a group-stage exit and need a win over Qatar on Sunday, said Argentina were fortunate.

“The solution is that we have to win. We are lucky to be alive,” he told a news conference.

“We have to look more like the second half, but be more balanced and thus be able to manage the game.”

The introduction of Sergio Aguero at half-time led to a more dangerous Argentina as the forward played alongside Messi and Lautaro Martinez.

But an unhappy Martinez was substituted in the 67th minute with what was later described as a glute injury.

“I don’t know if it was the best version [before Martinez came off], but without a doubt it was the most dangerous,” Scaloni said.

“Sergio entered very well.”

Argentina remain bottom of the group on one point, behind Colombia (six), Paraguay (two) and Qatar (one) ahead of Sunday’s games.

Mexico 3 Canada 1: Guardado brace preserves Martino’s 100 per cent record

Mexico captain Andres Guardado

Canada impressed but Mexico’s class was telling as an Andres Guardado brace and Roberto Alvarado strike ensured back-to-back Group A wins.

Mexico continued their flawless run under Gerardo Martino after overcoming Canada 3-1 at the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Canada impressed in Denver but Mexico’s class was telling as an Andres Guardado brace and Roberto Alvarado strike led Martino’s men to back-to-back Group A wins.

Alvarado smashed home the opener in the 40th minute before Guardado – a first-half replacement for injured team-mate Erick Gutierrez – made it 2-0 with a stunning long-range effort nine minutes into the second half on Wednesday.

Lucas Cavallini gave Canada some hope with 15 minutes remaining, however, Guardado’s second two minutes later sealed a sixth successive victory for Mexico.

Canada – without a win against Mexico since their extra-time victory at the 2000 Gold Cup – frustrated the seven-time champions for much of the opening period.

Canada – who eased past Martinique 4-0 in their first match – were well organised but they almost came unstuck when Jonathan dos Santos blazed a fierce volley over the crossbar.

Mexico did make the breakthrough five minutes prior to half-time after Canada failed to deal with a cross as Raul Jimenez’s reflex shot was well saved but the ball fell to the feet of Alvarado and he emphatically converted the rebound.

Canada almost restored parity minutes later via Cavallini, who outmuscled and outran his opponent and forced a save from Guillermo Ochoa.

Relatively quiet in the first half, Bayern Munich sensation Alphonso Davies went agonisingly close to equalising for Canada after ghosting beyond two defenders and seeing his shot flash just wide of the back post.

However, Mexico went up the other end and doubled their lead in the 54th minute when a loose clearance went straight to Guardado, who hit an unstoppable shot past Milan Borjan.

Canada refused to surrender as Jonathan Osorio went close twice and their effort was rewarded after Cavallini bundled home a goal with 15 minutes remaining. However, their hopes were dashed within minutes as Guardado completed his brace.

What does it mean? El Tri flying under Tata

After leading Atlanta United to a memorable MLS title, former Argentina and Barcelona boss Martino is thriving on the international stage. Mexico have beaten Chile, Paraguay, Venezuela, Ecuador, Cuba and Canada, and they are on track for their first Gold Cup title since 2015.

Mexico lose Gutierrez

Guardado came off the bench and scored twice to lead his nation to another win but it came after an injury to Gutierrez. The PSV midfielder appeared to suffer a hamstring injury and Mexico will be sweating on his fitness heading into the knockout rounds.

Future bright for Canada

Canada left emptyhanded but there was a lot to like about John Herdman’s men. They were decent in possession and a threat in attack thanks to Cavallini, Davies and Osorio.

What’s next?

Mexico will look to preserve their 100 per cent record when they meet Martinique on Sunday, while Canada can bounce back against Cuba on the same day.

NBA trade rumors: Bucks shed salary by sending Tony Snell, No. 30 pick to Pistons

Tony Snell

The deal saves the Bucks about $4 million this year and cleared Snell’s $12 million contract in 2020-21, according to ESPN.

The Bucks will not have a first-round pick in 2019.

Milwaukee is sending Tony Snell and the No. 30 pick in Thursday’s draft to the Pistons in exchange for Jon Leuer, according to a report from ESPN, which cites unidentified league sources.

The deal saves the Bucks about $4 million this year and cleared Snell’s $12 million contract in 2020-21, the report says.

Milwaukee can now create up to $14 million in cap space this summer, according to a separate report from ESPN.

The Pistons hold the 15th, 30th and 45th picks in the 2019 draft. Snell could also develop into a reliable rotation player for them.

The 27-year-old wing averaged 6.0 points and 2.1 rebounds for Milwaukee last season. He shot 45.2% from the field and connected on 39.7% of his 3-point attempts.

The Bucks finished 2018-19 with a 60-22 record and advanced to the Eastern Conference finals, where they fell to the Raptors in six games.

Detroit, meanwhile, earned the eighth seed in the East and was swept by Milwaukee in the first round.

Kyrie Irving free agency rumors: Are the Nets reconsidering signing star?

Kyrie Irving has failed to inspire the Boston Celtics

Brooklyn “might have qualms about signing the enigmatic Irving” if it doesn’t land Durant, too, according to the New York Post.

The Nets have been considered the front-runners to end up with Kyrie Irving this summer. But, there may be a condition to the team signing the star guard.

Brooklyn’s “dream offseason” is to add both Irving and Kevin Durant — who is expected to miss all of next season after rupturing his Achilles in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. The team, however, “might have qualms about signing the enigmatic Irving” if it doesn’t land Durant, too, according to a report from the New York Post, which cites unidentified league sources.

Durant is reportedly considering joining the Knicks or heading back to the Warriors while the Clippers are interested in him, as well. Outside of the Nets, Irving has been linked to the Knicks and Lakers. He could also choose to re-sign with the Celtics, although that possibility is reportedly low.

The Nets cleared an additional $18 million in cap space earlier this month when they acquired Taurean Prince from the Hawks in exchange for the No. 17 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, a protected first-round selection in 2020 and Allen Crabbe, according to ESPN.

If the Nets choose to stop pursuing Irving, they would turn their attention back to D’Angelo Russell, according to the Post. The 23-year-old guard will be a restricted free agent after making his first All-Star team with Brooklyn in 2018-19.

The Nets exceeded expectations last season and reached the playoffs for the first time since 2014-15. They were topped by the 76ers in five games in their first-round series.

“If we’re being completely honest, I enjoyed the team that we had this whole season,” Russell told The Post about free agency earlier this month. “I’m not going to say I didn’t enjoy our team, and the pieces we had around.”

The Nets reportedly have interest in Tobias Harris and are one of the teams expected to inquire about Al Horford, according to NBC Sports Boston.

Argentina 1 Paraguay 1: Messi scores but Copa America exit looms

Argentina star Lionel Messi

Argentina drew 1-1 with Paraguay at the Copa America after a second-half penalty from Lionel Messi.

Lionel Messi scored a second-half penalty but Argentina were left facing a Copa America group-stage exit after a 1-1 draw with Paraguay on Wednesday.

Messi converted a 57th-minute spot-kick after Argentina had fallen behind to a Richard Sanchez goal in Belo Horizonte.

Argentina goalkeeper Franco Armani was needed to keep his side level shortly after the hour-mark, though, saving a Derlis Gonzalez penalty.

The draw saw Argentina earn their first point in Group B, but they remain bottom behind Colombia, Paraguay and Qatar.

While Argentina enjoyed the better start, the game lacked any rhythm in the opening 20 minutes after numerous fouls and stoppages.

It was Paraguay who created the best chance of the opening half-hour, Gonzalez’s strike deflected just wide after a counter-attack.

Messi had an opportunity for Argentina in the 34th minute, but the Barcelona star’s free-kick from 30 yards lacked the power to trouble Paraguay goalkeeper Roberto Fernandez.

Paraguay would break the deadlock before half-time through Sanchez’s first international goal.

Newcastle United midfielder Miguel Almiron set up the goal with a brilliant run down the left, before crossing for Sanchez to finish into the bottom corner from inside the area.

Lautaro Martinez hit the crossbar for Argentina six minutes into the second half after good work from half-time substitute Sergio Aguero, but it was that moment that led to the equaliser.

Argentina were awarded a penalty after a VAR review, with replays showing Martinez’s strike hit the arm of Ivan Piris.

Messi stepped up, putting the penalty into the bottom corner for his 68th international goal.

However, Paraguay were awarded a spot-kick of their own after a poor challenge by Nicolas Otamendi on Gonzalez, but Armani dived low to his left to push away the penalty in the 63rd minute.

Martinez headed over soon after for Argentina and both teams struggled to create chances late on as they shared the spoils.

What does it mean? Argentina’s fate out of their own hands

Lionel Scaloni’s men needed a win against Paraguay to get back on track, but will now be left relying on other results going their way. They will look to beat Qatar in their final group game and that may not be enough to finish in the top two, although they could also be one of the two best third-placed teams.

Argentina retain unbeaten record

It was only a draw, but Argentina retained their record of never losing to Paraguay at the Copa America. That run is now up to 25 games, including 19 wins and six draws.

Aguero, Di Maria benching continues confusion

Scaloni opted for four changes to his starting XI from the team beaten by Colombia, including dropping Aguero and Angel Di Maria to the bench. Both were introduced in the second half and the former caused some problems, but it indicated some uncertainty from Scaloni regarding his best XI.

What’s next?

Argentina face Qatar in Porto Alegre on Sunday, while Paraguay meet Colombia in Salvador.

NBA Draft 2019: Bob Myers reveals Warriors’ strategy

Stephen Curry and Steve Kerr

“You want a guy you can project playing in the playoffs,” Myers said, via the Mercury News.

The Warriors know what type of player they’re looking to pick Thursday.

Golden State has turned its attention to the draft after its attempt at a three-peat came up short when it fell to the Raptors in six games in the NBA Finals last week. General manager Bob Myers discussed the team’s strategy for the No. 28 selection when he met with reporters Wednesday.

“You want a guy you can project playing in the playoffs,” Myers said, via the Mercury News. “That’s what we’re all trying to do — win playoff games. Can you find a guy that has a skill? Can you find a guy that you believe has the potential to do it?”

Stars Kevin Durant (ruptured Achilles) and Klay Thompson (torn ACL) suffered serious injuries in the Finals and both will be free agents this summer. Even if they do re-sign with the Warriors, they’ll be sidelined for much, if not all, of next season.

The Warriors’ bench declined in 2018-19, as well, and they’ll need to add multiple rotation pieces in the upcoming months.

“(We’re looking for) good young players, whatever position they are,” Myers said. “Those players have the most value in the NBA — rookie contract players that show themselves to have a skill and can play.

“Especially next year, we afford more opportunity for who we pick. Maybe we get a guy who can step in. We will have more opportunity next year. No matter what happens in free agency, we’ll have more of an opportunity for a young guy.”

The Warriors will also pick 58th and Myers said the team could consider buying another second-round selection.

“We’d like to have as many picks as we can,” Myers said. “But I think we have to be aware we have some youth already and who will be back and what spots we’ll have to fill.”

Golden State is projected to take former Belmont forward Dylan Windler at No. 28 in Sporting News’ latest mock draft.

Sanchez left with ‘bad taste’ after Qatar’s loss to Colombia

Qatar head coach Felix Sanchez Bas

Felix Sanchez rued Qatar’s late defeat to Colombia in Sao Paulo on Wednesday.

Qatar head coach Felix Sanchez said his team’s late 1-0 Copa America defeat against Colombia left a “bad taste” after the Asian champions threatened to pull off another shock result.

After overturning a two-goal deficit to earn a stunning 2-2 draw with Paraguay in their Group B opener, guests Qatar almost secured another point until Duvan Zapata broke the deadlock in the 86th minute.

Zapata broke Qatar hearts with four minutes remaining in Sao Paulo, where the Asian Cup holders lost their first competitive match since the Gulf Cup of Nations in December 2017.

Speaking to reporters post-match, Sanchez said: “It leaves us with a bad taste because the end was already close.

“Score a goal in final minutes, when the game is tied … You leave with the bitterness of not being able to score but we also have to value that the team competed with a great rival.

“We played against one of the best teams in the world. Despite the loss, we competed until the final whistle. This will give us strength to keep working and preparing for the future.”

 

James Rodriguez – who is reportedly set to join Napoli from Real Madrid – provided the assist for Zapata’s winner against the 2022 World Cup hosts and he added: “We had a very good game. We are on the right track. When you have [Radamel] Falcao and Duvan you always have a goal.”

Zapata’s goal made it two wins from two games for Colombia, who advanced to the Copa America quarter-finals.

“It’s always like this when you have a team with the obligation to win and another which is very organised and that plays very tight on defence, not giving up spaces,” Colombia boss Carlos Queiroz, who led Iran during the 2019 Asian Cup, said.

“If you don’t score early, you are going to suffer. We won because Colombia played the way I like Colombia to play, fully focused during the 90 minutes.”

Austin Rivers calls reported rift between Chris Paul, James Harden ‘fake news’

James Harden and Chris Paul - cropped

“I know nothing about any of that. I don’t know where that’s coming from,” Rivers said during an interview with TMZ.

Austin Rivers thinks Chris Paul and James Harden get along well.

The relationship between the two Rockets stars is “unsalvageable” and Paul has asked the team to move him, according to a report from Yahoo Sports. But, Rivers, who spent 47 games with the Rockets last season, said he didn’t see any issues.

“I know nothing about any of that. I don’t know where that’s coming from,” Rivers said during an interview with TMZ. “A lot of fantasy tales being told right now. … It’s definitely not true. I didn’t see any issues between any of them. It’s just made up news, fake news like most of the stuff you see on these Instagram pages.”

Paul and Houston general manager Daryl Morey both forcefully denied the Yahoo Sports report shortly after it was published.

“I’ve talked to Chris since (the end of the playoffs), for sure,” Morey told the Houston Chronicle. “Myself, (coach) Mike D’Antoni, James Harden are all super competitive, all frustrated we were eliminated from the playoffs, all want to get over the hump. That leads to a lot of competitive fire. All of it is normal. We’re all in the same boat, pursuing the championship. We’re all frustrated we’re not there. But there is nothing past that.

“I’m very frustrated right now. We’re literally trying to do real work on making the team better and every day I have to learn about a new media rock that has been turned over.”

Rivers, 26, began the season with the Wizards and ended up signing with the Rockets after he was waived by the Suns following a trade in December. He averaged 8.7 points and 2.3 assists in 28.6 minutes per game during his time with Houston.

The Rockets will reportedly pursue Jimmy Butler this summer and have also discussed dealing center Clint Capela to the Celtics. Rivers is set to be a free agent.

Salah among world’s best three players – Elmohamady

Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah

Egypt captain Ahmed Elmohamady feels Mohamed Salah is among the best three players in the world.

Mohamed Salah deserves to be recognised as one of the best three players in the world, according to Egypt captain Ahmed Elmohamady.

Salah enjoyed another fine season with Liverpool, scoring 27 goals in all competitions to help his club win the Champions League.

Now, the forward will try to lead Egypt to an eighth Africa Cup of Nations title beginning on Friday.

Elmohamady said Salah deserved his place among the world’s best, alongside the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

“Salah is now one of the best three players in the world. This is a huge deal for the country and the Egyptian team,” he told a news conference.

“Salah being on any team will help it and be a great addition. Everybody anticipates his performance, so this is a positive thing and a good addition for the Egyptian team.

“As has been said, Salah is one of the 23 players on the list. Each player will help the others.

“We play as one team, but having Salah with us is a positive thing and an important thing for us as a team and as players.”

Hosts Egypt open the Africa Cup of Nations against Zimbabwe on Friday.