Daily Archives: April 7, 2017

West Ham “have to put everything on the line” —Slaven Bilic

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West Ham coach Slaven Billic has urged his team to give it their all as the London club plays host to Swansea City in the Premier League this weekend.

The game could very well determine the Hammers’ fate in the Premier League, as an abysmal run of five consecutive defeats including last weekend’s 3-0 rout by Arsenal now see them dangling just five points above the relegation zone ahead of the Swansea match.

Although Swansea now sits within the relegation zone, a win could see them cut their point gap against West Ham to two.

West Ham also holds the third-worst defensive record in the league currently with 57 goals against them in 31 games. While it is apparent that Slaven Billic’s future, along with his club’s, are becoming increasingly uncertain, the Croatian took responsibility for the situation.

“It is the manager’s responsibility. I am not talking about blame — there is no point talking about that,” the West Ham manager said. “It is my job to take those defeats on my chest and to prepare the team for our game against Swansea.”

“We have to put everything we have on the line,” Bilic said. “We have to forget about egos, about who is taking corners, forget about who is going to start the game, forget about who is going to score the goals.”

“We have to leave our egos in our beds and be as one. I am not saying we weren’t before – but now more than ever.”

Andy Carroll and Michail Antonio were withdrawn during the defeat to the Gunners due to a groin complaint and sickness respectively, But Bilic is hopeful the duo will be fit for the visit of the Swans.

“Andy Carroll felt a groin at half-time but it wasn’t major,” he said. “This morning it wasn’t worse so he has a good chance on Saturday.”

“Michail Antonio felt sick when we had lunch yesterday. He’s at home now but is feeling much better.”

Prediction:

West Ham United 2:1 Swansea City

Real Madrid fends off Leganes to stay top of La Liga

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Alvaro Morata scored a hat-trick for Real Madrid to beat minnows Leganes by 4-2 and reclaim the top spot for the European Champions on top of La Liga above Barcelona.

Real coach Zinedine Zidane made nine changes for the game, opting to keep his key players fresh for a busy April, which features a Madrid derby and El Clasico fixture in La Liga as well as Champions League fixtures across two legs against Bayern Munich.

The Frenchman left out Los Blancos’s most formidable forward trio of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo, played just four “starters” but his team responded.

James Rodriguez put Real ahead with a tap in before a Morata header and powerful strike made it 3-0.

However, a temporary lapse in Real’s defense conceded two in two minutes, allowing Leganes to make a response as Gabriel’s close-range finish and a Luciano strike reduced the deficit to one.

Real mustered their own response in turn as a Morata header deflected in off Leganes captain Martin Mantovani to sealed victory for Real.

However, Morata’s third and Real’s fourth early in the second half dented their enthusiasm and gave Real a welcome buffer as they saw out a sixth consecutive win.

The result kept Real Madrid two points ahead of Barca, who won 3-0 in Sevilla to briefly top the Spanish top flight table.

Brazil tops FIFA rankings after seven-year wait

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Brazil topped FIFA international rankings for the first time since 2010, ending a seven-year wait for the five-time World Champions.

The Selecao were the first team make it into the 2018 World Cup through qualifiers, and have won nine consecutive games since Tite took over as coach.

Brazil’s ascension allowed them to leapfrog neighbours and fierce rivals Argentina, whose participation at the World Cup in Russia is in doubt following a poor recent form.

Meanwhile, World champions Germany are third and the only non-South American side in the top five, with Chile and Colombia are just behind in fourth and fifth respectively. The South American teams had acquired more ranking points last month by playing two World Cup qualifiers, while European teams played just one.

On the other hand, France remained at sixth place as Belgium were squeezed out of the top five for the first time in three years, dropping to seventh. Euro 2016 champions Portugal remained at eighth place.

Switzerland are the only new team to enter the top 10, up two to ninth, one ahead of Spain.

Russia, hosts to the World Cup next summer, fell one place in rankings to 61st while the Netherlands dropped to 32nd — their lowest-ever ranking.

Egypt, in 19th, leads the African teams, and No. 28 Iran is Asia’s best ranking side. Mexico rose one place to 16th and leads the CONCACAF teams, and the United States climbed seven to 23rd.