Monthly Archives: January 2017

Borussia Dortmund beats Real Madrid to sign Alexander Isak

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Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund has beaten Real Madrid to the signature of 17-year-old Swedish striker Alexander Isak from Swedish side AIK Solna.

The youngster was set to join Real Madrid last week, but a change of heart saw him opting for the Bundesliga club instead.

Isak and his advisers, who were in Dortmund on Sunday to conclude the deal, are likely to have taken to heart the struggles of another Scandinavian prospect, Martin Odegaard.

Odegaard found life hard at Real Madrid since joining Los Blancos as a 16-year-old in January 2015 — the Norwegian had made only one appearance for the European champions since then, and was loaned to Dutch club Heerenveen this month.

Borussia Dortmund sporting director, Michael Zorc, said: “Alexander Isak is a hugely-talented striker, who many top clubs in Europe wanted to sign. We are delighted that he has chosen Borussia Dortmund. Both BVB and the player himself are convinced that this transfer has great potential.”

However, as Isak is under-18, the transfer deal reported to be worth 10 million euros needs approval by football world governing body FIFA.

The teenager previously debuted for AIK in February 2016, scoring 13 goals in 29 games.

He subsequently became Sweden’s youngest ever goalscorer when he netted against Slovakia on 12 January this year. Aged 17 years and 113 days at the time, Isak broke a 105-year record in the process.

He had already became the second youngest Swedish player ever four days previously when he made his debut against Ivory Coast.

Sweden national coach Janne Andersson, said after the two games: “Isak is rewriting history and I am not surprised. I knew that he would do well. He is calm and incredibly stable. It’s been fun to get to know him.”

Federer cruises past Zverev to set up Wawrinka semi-final

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Four-time Australian Open champion Roger Federer trumped unseeded MIscha Zverev to cruise into the semi-final of the grand slam event, setting up an encounter against fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka.

The 17-time grand-slam winner won against Zverev 6-1, 7-5, 6-2 on day nine of the Australian Open, in a punishing match that lasted just 92 minutes — with 65 winners and only 13 unforced errors.

While Zverev did not perform badly after the match in which he bested World No.1 Andy Murray, he was thoroughly outclassed in the first set — which lasted just 19 minutes — up unto Federer’s final classy forehand winner that left the German rooted to the baseline.

As Federer is now the oldest player to reach a slam semi‑final since Jimmy Connors, then 39, did so at the US Open in 1991. The Swiss Maestro will also be the oldest semi-finalist here in Melbourne, breaking the record set by 34-year-old Arthur Ashe, in 1978.

However, he was surprised as he did not expect to go so far in the tournament after a six-month hiatus through injury — it was also his first competitive return after last playing at Wimbledon in July.

“My expectation was not to play Stan Wawrinka in the semis. I thought maybe I could get to the fourth round or quarters — that’s what I told the Swiss press,” Federer said.

“I will probably never be able to play 27 tournaments a year any more, we all know that,” he added in reply to how long he thinks he can extend his illustrious career.

“But, maybe instead of playing 22, you play 18, instead of 20 you play 17. That could totally happen. You always need the right balance, I feel like, enough practice, enough matches, enough time off. I guess as you get older, everything becomes a bit different.”

Sergio Ramos repairs Real Madrid title campaign with brace

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Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos made amends for his team with a brace against Malaga to keep the European champions in sight of the La Liga trophy.

Ramos fluffed his lines last weekend with a headed own goal against second-placed Sevilla that condemned his side to their first defeat since April 2016. It also closed the gap between the Europa League winners against table-toppers Real to just one point, although Los Blancos still have a game in hand.

But the Spain international showed his clear intent to repair the damage this week with two goals against Malaga that sent Real four points clear of his former club, albeit briefly before Sevilla closed the gap again the next day.

While Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo both missed clear chances, Ramos brought Real ahead by by powering Toni Kroos’s outswinging corner beyond Malaga keeper Carlos Kameni and struck again in the 43rd when he slid in a free-kick from his German team-mate from close range to net his eighth goal this season.

A remarkable feat for any defender, it is even more impressive as the goal was also Ramos’s sixth in the Spanish league this season — besting his previous record of five with half a season yet to come.

Despite ending the match with a high note, Ramos insisted that Real still needs support and solidarity from their fans — especially during hard times — as Real players were booed after suffering two consecutive defeats, first against Sevilla last weekend and subsequently against Celta Vigo mid-week at home.

“I’ve always said that we can never change the Bernabeu,” Ramos said. “I’ve spent many years here and like Marcelo said after the [Copa del Rey] game the other day, all of the great players have been whistled here at some point. It’s a wake-up call to make the team respond.”

“But it’s in the difficult moments that we need them to be behind us, not kicking us when we are down.”

“We know how our fans are and we like the way they are. The objective is that we all take this forward together.”

What’s next

Testing times lay ahead for Real Madrid. They face Celta Vigo away in the second leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final mid-week, before hosting La Liga fifth-placed team Real Sociedad next weekend, before making a visit to Celta again.

Chelsea progresses to eight points on top of Premier League

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Diego Costa scored on his return to the Chelsea team, as the Premier League leaders won against Hull City to move eight points clear at the top of the Premier League.

Costa — cheered on throughout the match by his home fans, already made an early impact in just 10 second as he fired just wide from 20 yards.

The former Atletico Madrid striker then found his mark by converting a low cross from Victor Moses eight yards out in the seventh minute of first-half injury time.

The long stoppage period was a result of a head injury to Hull City midfielder Ryan Mason, who, following a clash of heads with Chelsea defender Gary Cahill, went to hospital after being carried off on a stretcher wearing an oxygen mask.

Cahill went on to seal the win by headed in Cesc Fabregas’ free-kick.

Chelsea are now eight points above second-placed Arsenal, the only other team in the top six to win this weekend.

Additionally, with 15 wins out of 16 league games and 13 clean sheets to boot, the Blues are very well on their way to a sixth Premier League title.

They will host London neighbours Brentford in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday, and visit Liverpool — 10 points behind them — in the Premier League on 31 January.