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We miss Cristiano, says Real Madrid’s Modric

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London: Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid’s all-time top scorer, left in July to join Juventus and Madrid signed young attackers Vinicius Junior and Mariano Diaz but no big-name forward to replace the Portuguese.

Real Madrid’s forwards have failed to fill the gap left by Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric said.

The Croatian, speaking ahead of Real’s Champions League last-16, second-leg clash with Ajax on Tuesday, said his team lacked consistency and goals this season.

 

Madrid failed to score in two Clasicos against Barcelona last week, being eliminated from the Copa del Rey and falling 12 points behind the Catalan league leaders, leaving retaining the Champions League as their only hope of glory.

Ronaldo, the European champions’ all-time top scorer, left in July to join Juventus and Madrid signed young attackers Vinicius Junior and Mariano Diaz but no big-name forward to replace the Portuguese.

“The absence of Cristiano is something every team would feel; to find a replacement for Cristiano is almost impossible,” Modric told reporters.

“Given what he did for us and this club, we miss Cristiano. The club wanted the other players to make up for what he did, divided between the strikers and that is not easy.

“Cristiano scored 50 goals and you can’t find someone today who scores that many. Some of us have to take a step forward and, while not scoring 50, what we need is two or three players who score 15, 20, or 10 goals and we don’t have that.

“That is our biggest problem this year. For example against Barca in the Cup we had many chances and when you don’t take advantage your opponent punishes you.

Vinicius Junior has been Madrid’s driving force over the past few weeks but the 18-year-old has scored only three goals this season.

“The club tried, and it seems good, putting faith in other players like Gareth (Bale), (Marco) Asensio, Karim (Benzema); they brought in Mariano, Vinicius is here.

“(Vinicius) is doing very well for the age he is but sometimes things don’t go how we wanted them to.”

Vinicius Junior has been Madrid’s driving force over the past few weeks but the 18-year-old has scored only three goals this season.

Club record signing Bale has 13 goals from 33 appearances in all competitions, while top scorer Benzema has netted 20 from 42.

Madrid hold a 2-1 lead over Ajax from the first leg and coach Santiago Solari hopes the team can be more accurate in front of goal as they bid to seal their progress to the quarter-finals.

“Cristiano is living history at the club and all he’s done for the club is shown in the trophy cabinets; we have maximum respect for him,” said the coach.

“Those of us who are here are working the best we can, to attack better, to score more goals, to do our job. It’s true we’ve had a lot of chances in recent games, and we have tofinish them.”

‘Gareth deserves the greatest of respect. The way the Real fans have treated Gareth is nothing short of a disgrace’


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Would be sitting at home if I think like people from outside: Kohli

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Mumbai: Virat Kohli said he would be “sitting at home if he thinks like people from outside”, responding, in his trademark combative style, to Gautam Gambhir’s recent jibe at him, but without taking the former opener’s name.

Gambhir, who led Kolkata Knight Riders to two IPL trophies in 2012 and 2014, recently said that in a result-oriented franchise environment, Kohli has been “lucky” to have survived despite Royal Challengers Bangalore never winning the coveted title in his eight years as skipper.

Asked about it, the batting maestro said, “Obviously, you want to win the IPL. I am doing what I am supposed to do. I don’t care whether I am going to be judged on this (not winning IPL) or not. There is no real, sort of, parameters you set. I try to perform wherever I can. I try to win all the possible titles, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen.

 

“We have to be practical about why we haven’t won one. That boils down to bad decision making in pressure situations. If I think like people from outside, I can’t even sustain five games. I would be sitting at home,” Kohli said.

According to Gambhir, one can’t say Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the same breath, as India’s current captain has not won the IPL even once in comparison to his predecessor’s three. Gambhir also compared Kohli with his national team deputy Rohit Sharma, who too have three IPL titles to his credit.

“I know people talk about it a lot and they like to grab opportunities to talk about these things. But I have a responsibility here and given a chance, as a captain, I would love to win the IPL for my team.

“We all are motivated to do so. It has not happened and that’s the reality. No excuses for that. Only acceptance of the faults that we made in the past. The fact that we played six semi-finals means that we have been a side who are always in contention. If we make better decisions, we can go further than that. That’s how I see things,” Kohli added.

The Indian captain was speaking on the eve of the IPL 12 opener between his team and Chennai Super Kings.

To a question if he felt RCB were the underdogs against CSK at home, he said every team that comes here has to be considered so, with the home team being led by Dhoni.

“MS knows exactly what he wants from his team in these conditions. We all have seen that and are aware of it. We are going to be backing our skills and then find ways to come out on top.

“It’s very easy to be overawed by the support that CSK are going to get. In the IPL, people can get carried away by the support that a team like CSK gets at home but we have to focus on our basics.”Kohli also said RCB’s focus this year would be on being consistent and scratching their way to wins.

“It again boils down to how much composure you have in crunch situations. If you see all the teams that have won, they have had players who have stood up and done the job.

“In the past, when we have been close to winning the title, we have just expected things to go our way instead of standing up. That is something we want to correct this season. If we look ugly, we look ugly. It doesn’t matter. We don’t want to be a side just playing flamboyant cricket. We want to be a consistent side,” Kohli said.

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AIFF deny I-League clubs’ request to reschedule qualifiers

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Mumbai: The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has denied the I-League clubs’ request to restart the 2019 Super Cup, Goal can confirm.

Nine I-League clubs had earlier informed the Indian FA that they are willing to take part in the Super Cup 2019 after AIFF president Praful Patel reached out to the clubs on Thursday and assured them that he will hold a meeting with them in mid-April.

After initially deciding to withdraw from the competition citing AIFF’s unfair treatment towards the clubs, the I-League clubs’ unison expressed their willingness to take part in the knock-out competition if all the clubs are allowed to take part.

 

However, as Goal reported earlier, matches given as walkovers cannot be replayed according to the regulations of the national cup competition. The AIFF has made it clear to the clubs that the regulations must be adhered to and that it would be unfair towards the opposing teams – Delhi Dynamos, FC Pune City and Chennaiyin FC – that took the field for the matches which did not take place.

Minerva Punjab, Gokulam Kerala FC and Aizawl FC failed to turn up for their Super Cup qualifiers on March 15 and March 16.

Due to the I-League clubs’ absence on the match days, the AIFF awarded Delhi Dynamos, FC Pune City and Chennaiyin FC wins by virtue of walkovers.

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Neymar charged for ‘insulting’ referee in Man United defeat

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London: Paris St Germain forward Neymar has been charged for “insulting and/or molesting” the referee following his post-game rant after the French side were knocked out of the Champions League last 16 by Manchester United, UEFA said.

Neymar, who was sidelined by injury, was investigated for lashing out and labelling the video assistant referee (VAR) system a “disgrace” after United won a controversial penalty in the dying stages to advance on away goals.

“Disciplinary proceedings have been opened following the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg match between Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United FC (1-3), played on 6 March in France,” UEFA said in a statement.

 

“Player Neymar Junior – insulting / molesting acts against match official (statements made by the player following the above-mentioned match) – Art. 15 (1) (d) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations.”

If the Brazilian is found guilty, he could be suspended for three matches in the competition for insulting match officials.

UEFA’s Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body will look into the case and a date for the hearing is yet to be confirmed.

PSG coach Thomas Tuchel had said after the game that he understood Neymar’s anger and defended his comments, saying they were made in the heat of the moment.

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