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LaLiga: Villarreal CF mount a late surge in race for Conference League spot, Atletico advance for the fourth place

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New Delhi, May 2 (IANS) There are now just five matchdays remaining in LaLiga EA Sports this season and there is so much still to play for. Several clubs are currently taking part in the race to qualify for the 2024/25 UEFA competitions and the battle is ever so tight.

Below is the summary of how each of the clubs in this contest are performing, from fourth-placed Atletico de Madrid down to ninth-placed Villarreal CF.

Atletico de Madrid (4th, 64 points)

Atletico de Madrid have mathematically confirmed their place in Europe for next season, but Diego Simeone hopes that the competition Los Colchoneros qualify for is the Champions League, as making it into UEFA’s elite competition is the primary objective at the Estadio Civitas Metropolitano each season. A 3-1 victory over fifth-placed Athletic Club in Matchday 33 was important, but there are still five matchdays remaining.

Remaining fixtures: RCD Mallorca (A), RC Celta (H), Getafe CF (A), CA Osasuna (H), Real Sociedad (A)

Athletic Club (5th, 58 points)

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Athletic Club have already guaranteed European football for next season, given that they are the champions of the Copa del Rey. They’ll play on the continent for the first time since 2018 and will play Europa League at a minimum. However, Ernesto Valverde’s side still hope to add Champions League qualification to what has been a very special season so far.

Remaining fixtures: Getafe CF (A), CA Osasuna (H), RC Celta (A), Sevilla FC (H), Rayo Vallecano (A)

Real Sociedad (6th, 51 points)

As things stand, Real Sociedad would qualify for the Europa League as the sixth-placed team in LALIGA EA SPORTS. After finishing fourth last term and then enjoying a memorable Champions League campaign, in which they won their group and reached the last 16, they’d love to play in UEFA’s top competition again, but are currently 13 points off fourth. Their priority may well be holding on to sixth place. If they look over their shoulders, they’ll see that Real Betis sit just two points behind in the final Conference League spot.

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Remaining fixtures: UD Las Palmas (H), FC Barcelona (A), Valencia CF (H), Real Betis (A), Atlético de Madrid (H)

Real Betis (7th, 49 points)

Under Manuel Pellegrini, Real Betis have qualified for Europe in each of the past three seasons. Never before had the club made it to UEFA competition for three seasons in a row and now they’re aiming to extend that record to four consecutive seasons. In Matchday 32, an Ayoze Perez-inspired 2-1 victory away at Valencia CF allowed Los Verdiblancos to leapfrog Los Che and move into seventh place, which is the final European spot, granting access to the Conference League. A draw in ELGRAN DERBI kept Real Betis in seventh, however, Valencia CF are just two points behind and this race for seventh should be a fascinating one.

Remaining fixtures: CA Osasuna (A), UD Almería (H), UD Las Palmas (A), Real Sociedad (H), Real Madrid (A)

Valencia CF (8th, 47 points)

By losing 2-1 to Real Betis and then 4-2 to FC Barcelona, Valencia CF have slipped out of the European spots in recent weeks. Coming up, Ruben Baraja’s charges now have two home games in a row, so will look to get back on track in front of their own fans.

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Remaining fixtures: Deportivo Alaves (H), Rayo Vallecano (H), Real Sociedad (A), Girona FC (H), RC Celta (A)

Villarreal CF (9th, 45 points)

Just a few weeks ago, it seemed like Villarreal CF were too far behind to stand a chance of qualifying for Europe for a fifth consecutive season. However, they have been in really good form of late. With six wins from their past eight games, they have been the second-most in-form team in that time. Norwegian striker Alexander Sorloth is banging in the goals and the defence of El Submarino Amarillo has improved, so don’t rule out Villarreal CF when it comes to this enthralling European race.

Remaining fixtures: RC Celta (A), Sevilla FC (H), Girona FC (A), Real Madrid (H), CA Osasuna (A)

–IANS

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T20 World Cup: Viv Richards presents best fielding medal to SKY after India beat Bangladesh

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North Sound (Antigua), June 23 (IANS) After India’s 50-run win over Bangladesh in the T20 World Cup Super Eight match, West Indies great Sir Vivian Richards presented the fielder of the match medal to Suryakumar Yadav.

Suryakumar despite the windy conditions in Antigua took a running catch to dismiss Litton Das.

Team India’s fielding coach T Dilip announced that the award will be presented by the West Indies great, after whom the Vivian Richards Stadium is named.

“Today we have a true legend, whose name is synonymours with fearless play and unmatched charizma on the field. The game0changer in every sense, who showed that in every sense; what it means striving for greatness. Its none other than Sir Vivian Richards,” said Dilip in the video shared by BCCI on social media.

After presenting Suryakumar best fielder medal, Richards said, “I can only say that if they guys in Maroon doesn’t get it done, I will be back in your room,” he laughed.

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Richards also hailed Rishabh Pant for his comeback after the accident and said, “Pant its great to see you back man after what you have been through. We would have missed the great talent and exactly what you have to offer in the future.”

The Windies great concluded with hailing the India’s performance in the tournament so far.

–IANS

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Euros and Copa America fever spreads in football-mad pockets of cricket-crazy India

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New Delhi, June 23 (IANS) The Euro 2024 and Copa America are both underway as the hype and excitement to watch, the biggest stars of world football representing their respective countries, has already begun to spread throughout India like wildfire.

A country that has historically adopted cricket as its main sport is not that far behind in football when it comes to passion. Fans are regularly seen at screenings in hotspots in various major cities while repping their favourite team’s jersey. Here’s a deeper dive into the rooted fixations that fans from all over the country have for their favourite players.

“In Kolkata, people are traditionally more of a FIFA World Cup and South American football fans. People are majorly neutral about European nations unless it’s Brazil, Argentina, or other South American powerhouses,” told a passionate football lover from Kolkata to IANS.

If one has to look for football fans in our country, then one would have to look no further than Kolkata, the city that breathes football. The fans went on to talk about the love the people have because of their roots and historical connection to such countries.

“With that said, there are parts of Kolkata where people are mad about England because of the colonial regime. There is a place called Bow Barracks where Anglo-Indians support the English, Dutch, and Scots because of their European roots. If you look on the outskirts of Kolkata, you will find your actual goldmine in Euro Football.

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“There is a place called Chandannagar in Hooghly district, the locals support France because the locality was under French rule until the independence of India. The Churches, Chapels, and a French diaspora help it to boost the French connections there,” added the die-hard Mohun Bagan supporter.

In previous editions of the Euros, Copa Americas, and the World Cups, social media has heavily highlighted the unreal passion that is on display by fans from Kerala. The 40-foot cutouts of Messi, Ronaldo, and Neymar went viral not just in India but across the globe as FIFA also applauded the dedication and passion of the home fans.

“Here in Kerala, the fan bases for European teams are quite fragmented. This contrasts with the Copa America, where there’s a clear and intense rivalry between fans of Brazil and Argentina. That being said, Spain’s national team has significant support in Kerala, particularly due to their era of dominance and the magical style of play characterised by players like Andres Iniesta, Xavi, and David Villa.

“Their brand of technical, possession-based football (tiki-taka) has created a lasting affection for the team. I would say that the love for La Liga, especially for teams like Real Madrid and FC Barcelona has contributed to the support for the Spanish national side. The Portugal team also enjoys a massive following among the mallu youth, mainly because of their love for Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been the poster boy for the Portuguese side for quite a few years,” a football fan hailing from Kerala told IANS.

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When it comes to recent times, the focal point of the sports events in the country has slowly transitioned from places like Kolkata and Mumbai to Ahmedabad. The city is filled with passionate football fans and one spoke fondly about the love that the city has for Ronaldo.

“I remember back in the day, we used to have a CR7 club in Ahmedabad. And I vividly remember how they took to the streets after Portugal won in 2016. 2021 was the year of COVID but I can guarantee you this year, places like TopSpin (club) will be packed especially when Portugal play. And given this is Ronaldo’s last Euros, who knows if he goes on to win it then the underground community of CR7 lovers will definitely have a little stroll past the Sabarmati Riverfront at night,” a Real Madrid fan and resident of Ahmedabad told IANS.

Messi and Ronaldo have been the epicentre of world football for the past two decades. The ongoing Euros have been a stepping stone that has displayed amazing talent from youngsters in the likes of Yamine Lamal and Jamal Musiala. One particular fan discussed his bond with the hosts of the 2024 Euros and how he watches the games despite being away from his home as he is currently studying in Punjab.

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“I have been a huge admirer of German football since 2010, and watching them go from Schweinsteiger and Muller to now Musiala and Wirtz has been nothing short of a crazy experience. The good part is that I am not alone, people here in Punjab are mad about football too. The excitement during the Euros is very visible here, with match screenings being set up in every possible corner of the town. It felt like an occasion during the 2022 World Cup when artists came to perform on screenings before the semifinals or the final, and I expect nothing less during the Euros.

“The local grounds are booked to capacity with a screen set up right in the middle of the ground, which makes sure the vibes are immaculate, and I expect nothing less. The arrangements plus the ample space in front of it make it the place to be during a match. It wouldn’t be far-fetched to say that it is very similar to the famous Boxpark in London,” said the admirer of German football to IANS.

Indian football fans over the years have grown accustomed to foreign fans trolling and questioning their dedication to international football but despite having to watch matches at ungodly hours and living in a country where cricket dominates all sporting discussions, the footballing fraternity has built a strong and unbreakable community to express their love for the beautiful game.

–IANS

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Football: Euro and Copa America fever spreads like wildfire through cricket crazy India

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New Delhi, June 23 (IANS) The Euro 2024 and Copa America are both underway as the hype and excitement to watch, the biggest stars of world football representing their respective countries, has already begun to spread throughout India like wildfire.

A country that has historically adopted cricket as its main sport is not that far behind in football when it comes to passion. Fans are regularly seen at screenings in hotspots in various major cities while repping their favourite team’s jersey. Here’s a deeper dive into the rooted fixations that fans from all over the country have for their favourite players.

“In Kolkata, people are traditionally more of a FIFA World Cup and South American football fans. People are majorly neutral about European nations unless it’s Brazil, Argentina, or other South American powerhouses,” told a passionate football lover from Kolkata to IANS.

If one has to look for football fans in our country, then one would have to look no further than Kolkata, the city that breathes football. The fans went on to talk about the love the people have because of their roots and historical connection to such countries.

“With that said, there are parts of Kolkata where people are mad about England because of the colonial regime. There is a place called Bow Barracks where Anglo-Indians support the English, Dutch, and Scots because of their European roots. If you look on the outskirts of Kolkata, you will find your actual goldmine in Euro Football.

ALSO READ:  IPL 2024: MS Dhoni hands over CSK captaincy to Ruturaj Gaikwad

“There is a place called Chandannagar in Hooghly district, the locals support France because the locality was under French rule until the independence of India. The Churches, Chapels, and a French diaspora help it to boost the French connections there,” added the die-hard Mohun Bagan supporter.

In previous editions of the Euros, Copa Americas, and the World Cups, social media has heavily highlighted the unreal passion that is on display by fans from Kerala. The 40-foot cutouts of Messi, Ronaldo, and Neymar went viral not just in India but across the globe as FIFA also applauded the dedication and passion of the home fans.

“Here in Kerala, the fan bases for European teams are quite fragmented. This contrasts with the Copa America, where there’s a clear and intense rivalry between fans of Brazil and Argentina. That being said, Spain’s national team has significant support in Kerala, particularly due to their era of dominance and the magical style of play characterised by players like Andres Iniesta, Xavi, and David Villa.

“Their brand of technical, possession-based football (tiki-taka) has created a lasting affection for the team. I would say that the love for La Liga, especially for teams like Real Madrid and FC Barcelona has contributed to the support for the Spanish national side. The Portugal team also enjoys a massive following among the mallu youth, mainly because of their love for Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been the poster boy for the Portuguese side for quite a few years,” a football fan hailing from Kerala told IANS.

ALSO READ:  WPL 2024: 'It’s a learning more than a failure for Richa', says Jemimah after DC's one-run win over RCB

When it comes to recent times, the focal point of the sports events in the country has slowly transitioned from places like Kolkata and Mumbai to Ahmedabad. The city is filled with passionate football fans and one spoke fondly about the love that the city has for Ronaldo.

“I remember back in the day, we used to have a CR7 club in Ahmedabad. And I vividly remember how they took to the streets after Portugal won in 2016. 2021 was the year of COVID but I can guarantee you this year, places like TopSpin (club) will be packed especially when Portugal play. And given this is Ronaldo’s last Euros, who knows if he goes on to win it then the underground community of CR7 lovers will definitely have a little stroll past the Sabarmati Riverfront at night,” a Real Madrid fan and resident of Ahmedabad told IANS.

Messi and Ronaldo have been the epicentre of world football for the past two decades. The ongoing Euros have been a stepping stone that has displayed amazing talent from youngsters in the likes of Yamine Lamal and Jamal Musiala. One particular fan discussed his bond with the hosts of the 2024 Euros and how he watches the games despite being away from his home as he is currently studying in Punjab.

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“I have been a huge admirer of German football since 2010, and watching them go from Schweinsteiger and Muller to now Musiala and Wirtz has been nothing short of a crazy experience. The good part is that I am not alone, people here in Punjab are mad about football too. The excitement during the Euros is very visible here, with match screenings being set up in every possible corner of the town. It felt like an occasion during the 2022 World Cup when artists came to perform on screenings before the semifinals or the final, and I expect nothing less during the Euros.

“The local grounds are booked to capacity with a screen set up right in the middle of the ground, which makes sure the vibes are immaculate, and I expect nothing less. The arrangements plus the ample space in front of it make it the place to be during a match. It wouldn’t be far-fetched to say that it is very similar to the famous Boxpark in London,” said the admirer of German football to IANS.

Indian football fans over the years have grown accustomed to foreign fans trolling and questioning their dedication to international football but despite having to watch matches at ungodly hours and living in a country where cricket dominates all sporting discussions, the footballing fraternity has built a strong and unbreakable community to express their love for the beautiful game.

–IANS

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3rd ODI: Priya, Shreyanka come in as SA opt to bat first against India

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Bengaluru, June 23 (IANS) Top-order batter Priya Punia and off-spin all-rounder Shreyanka Patil come in for India as South Africa won the toss and elected to bat first in the third women’s ODI at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Sunday.

India have a 2-0 unpassable lead in the series and a win for them on Sunday will confirm their clean sweep over South Africa. The Proteas women did run India close in a run-fest second ODI on June 19, but fell short of a victory by four runs in pursuit of chasing 326, where Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, Marizanne Kapp and Laura Wolvaardt slammed centuries.

For Sunday’s match, which is still worth ten ICC Women’s Championship points, left-arm seamerTumi Sekhukhune replaces pacer Masabata Klaas, while Sinalo Jafta remains ruled out due to a mild concussion.

For India, Priya makes a return to the playing eleven after last playing in the format against Bangladesh in 2023, and replaces Dayalan Hemalatha.

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On the other hand, hometown favourite Shreyanka replaces leg-spinner Asha Sobhana, with the match to be played on the pitch used for the ODI series opener last week.

Playing XIs

India: Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Priya Punia, Harmanpreet Kaur (captain), Jemimah Rodrigues, Richa Ghosh (wicketkeeper), Deepti Sharma, Pooja Vastrakar, Radha Yadav, Arundhati Reddy and Shreyanka Patil

South Africa: Laura Wolvaardt (captain), Tazmin Brits, Anneke Bosch, Sune Luus, Marizanne Kapp, Nadine de Klerk, Nondumiso Shangase, Mieke de Ridder (wicketkeeper), Tumi Sekhukhune, Nonkululeko Mlaba and Ayabonga Khaka

–IANS

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Bajrang Punia again suspended by NADA for anti-doping rule violation: Report

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New Delhi, June 23 (IANS) Olympics bronze medallist wrestler Bajrang Punia has received a formal “notice of charge” from the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) for refusing to provide a urine sample. As a result, a multiple World Championships medallist, has once again been provisionally suspended by NADA, says a report.

Last month, Punia was provisionally suspended after he refused to provide his urine sample to NADA during the selection trials in Sonepat on March 10.

According to the Tribune report, “the latest order was issued by NADA on Thursday and he has been asked to respond to the latest suspension by July 11”.

Following reports of his inital provisional suspension order, the wrestler had clarified that he never “refused to give his sample” and requested NADA officials for a response about the expired kit which they had sent to collect his sample.

Later, Anti Doping Disciplinary Panel (ADAP) revoked the 30-year-old wrestler’s suspension, citing that NADA had not formally charged Bajrang for the anti-doping rule violation that allegedly took place in March this year.

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–IANS

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