Business activities have been disrupted as flood hits Nigeria’s Commercial city after heavy rain on Thursday, 18th of June, 2020.
The heavy downpour has led to floods taking over most streets, and many residents were forced to stay indoors while those who attempted to step out were held in serious traffic.
According to reports, cars, buses, and trucks have been held in gridlock as all the major road connections in the state have been affected due to the continuous downpour.
In a bid to beat traffic and find a way out, some motorists were seen driving against traffic, while some commuters resulted to using motorcycles, thereby defying safety precautions and the state ban order.
Some commuters who could not afford the hike in fare however resulted to trekking so as to get to their desired destination.
Channels Television reporters on the road, cars and trucks have been held up in gridlock as a result of the gridlock.
Some of the places where traffic has built up due to the floods include Agege, Iju Road, Victoria Island, Lekki, Ikeja, Oshodi, Ogudu, and Ketu among other parts of the state.
On the Long Bridge axis of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the traffic was heavy inbound Lagos, but it was smooth out of the state.
However, some motorists were seen driving against traffic while some commuters took the option of using motorcycles, defying the safety implications, the state ban order, and the drizzle.
For some of the commuters, it was preferable to trek in order to get to their various desired destination.
At the forthnight 3-0 win over Arsenal at the Etihad stadium
A win that was secured with Sterling, Kevin DeBruyne, and second-half substitute Phil Foden goal, giving them a 3 more point lead over arsenal
But now they have Eric Garcia on to tend out of injury after a collision with the goal keeper, The young defender started the game alongside Aymeric Laporte in the defensive line but was unable to finish the game due to injury as Pep Guardiola’s side finished the game with 10 men.
Man city are yet to tell how severe the injury might be, but we may not see former Barcelona defender for a while, although guardiola is positive and demands we wait for further test results…
The rate of positive coronavirus tests in the Orlando area has been soaring in recent days. The NBA hopes that does not matter.
After spending weeks putting together an incredibly elaborate series of health and safety protocols – the word testing appears 282 times in the document – the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) believe they have done what is necessary for the health and safety of the 22 teams and others that will be part of the season restart at the Disney campus near Orlando next month.
Ready or not, basketball is almost back.
“No one is suggesting that this is going to be an infection-free, guaranteed environment,” NBPA executive director Michele Roberts told The Associated Press. “I guess, unless we go to… well, where would we go? What state has the lowest rate? There is just no way of finding a sterile environment probably on this planet, but certainly, not in this country.”
Among the details that were included in the protocols released to teams: players will be invited to wear what the league calls a proximity alarm that will set off an audio alert when the person is within six feet of another person for more than five seconds and therefore not following social distancing guidelines, plus they can choose to wear a ring that will generate a wellness assessment derived from metrics such as body temperature and respiratory and heart rate.
Players and staff also will be given thermometers and a pulse oximeter so they can track their data and record it on the league’s daily health platform.null
“I feel the USTA is going to do a really good job of ensuring everything is amazing, perfect and everyone is safe. It’s going to be exciting, it’s been over six months since a lot of us have played professional tennis.null
“I’ll certainly miss the fans, don’t get me wrong, just being out there in the New York crowd and hearing everyone cheer, I’ll really miss that and getting me some tough matches. But this is crazy, I’m excited.”
World No 2 Simona Halep does not currently plan to play in New York with the health protocols put in place by the organisers for the Grand Slam.
“Given the conditions outlined in the U.S. Open announcement this morning, as of today I do not currently plan to play in NYC,” she said.
Halep, however, said she could reconsider her stand if the situation improved by the entry deadline in mid-July and has informed the USTA and the women’s WTA Tour of her decision.
Donald Trump said on Wednesday he would “love to see” Colin Kaepernick get another chance in the NFL but that the quarterback’s form when he last played “wasn’t up to snuff”.
Kaepernick has not been signed by an NFL team since opting out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers in 2017. That year, Trump urged team owners to fire athletes who take a knee during the anthem, and on Sunday the US President said he would not watch NFL games if players did not stand for the national anthem.
Asked during a press conference on Wednesday whether Kaepernick should get another opportunity in the NFL, Trump said he “absolutely” should if he is good enough, but questioned whether the quarterback’s form the last time he played warranted it.
“If he deserves it, he should,” Trump said Wednesday during an interview with WJLA-TV, in Washington DC. “If he has the playing ability.
Luiz: “It’s not the team’s fault, it was my fault. Today I think the team did well, especially with 10 men, the coach is amazing, the players did amazing, it’s just my fault.”
3-0 defeat to Manchester City, but insists he wants to extend his contract at the club.
Luiz produced a catalogue of errors in a torrid 25-minute cameo appearance as 10-man Arsenal suffered a heavy loss at City on the Premier League’s return.
Brought on as a substitute in the 24th minute following an injury to Pablo Mari, the Brazilian’s error led to Raheem Sterling’s opener (45+2) before he was sent off for hauling down Riyad Mahrez inside the penalty area four minutes into the second half.
The 33-year-old’s contract at Arsenal is also set to expire in the coming weeks, but he insists he wants to extend his stay at the Emirates Stadium.
“It’s not the team’s fault, it was my fault,” he told Sky Sports. “Today I think the team did well, especially with 10 men, the coach is amazing, the players did amazing, it’s just my fault.null
“I took the decision to play, I should have taken another decision in the last two months, but I didn’t. It was all about my contract, whether I stay or not. I have 14 days to be here, and that’s it. Today was my fault.
Tyson Fury had been urged to target London 2012 Games before Anthony Joshua won Olympic gold
A teenage Fury had been left distraught. His Olympic qualification campaign appeared over, having been informed that David Price would take the only super-heavyweight spot for Team GB at the Beijing Olympics.
Great Britain’s head coach Terry Edwards had called a meeting with Fury to explain his selection and tried to convince the 19-year-old to commit another four years to the amateur ranks.
“The chat that we had, I felt that he would be far better and far more experienced by the time the London Games came around, than Beijing, and I think that would have probably been correct,” Edwards told Sky Sports.
“He didn’t agree, obviously.”
Amateur trainer Steve Egan had helped to hone Fury’s skills since he was a 14-year-old and was frustrated that his fighter did not receive the chance to avenge a points loss to Price a year earlier.
“He was devastated. We wanted a box off with David Price, but they said, ‘No, he’s already beat him’. Yes, but he was a kid!
“We’ll have it now, [but] ‘David Price has already beat him, blah, blah, blah,’ and they just wouldn’t have it.”
Fury’s dissatisfaction with this decision prompted him to walk away from the British set-up, with his late attempt to earn a place on the Irish team ending in further frustration after he was deemed ineligible for selection.
A promising unpaid career was cut short by Fury, a few months before the opening bout in China, despite being encouraged by Team GB to pursue a gold medal in London.
Fury was unable to fight on the world’s biggest amateur stage, but he will now seize his chance to be crowned undisputed champion, according to old mentor Egan.
Manchester City’s Premier League title defence has not gone to plan but they still have big targets to aim for. We look at the key talking points around Pep Guardiola’s side ahead of the restart…
After the long lay-off, these are busy times for Manchester City. Last week, they put forward their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport against their two-year ban from European competition. This week, they resume their season with a Premier League clash at home to Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal
A failure to overturn the ban could be costly for a club desperate to establish themselves on the Champions League stage – Kevin de Bruyne has already said it would leave him with a decision to make on his future – and it also heightens the importance of this season’s competition.
City hold a first-leg lead over last-16 opponents Real Madrid having beaten them 2-1 at the Bernabeu in February, but there is work to do to book their place in the quarter-finals and they cannot afford to lose focus as they chase their first taste of European success under Guardiola.
City must apply the same focus in the Premier League. A strong finish to the campaign will not be enough to overhaul Liverpool, who are 25 points clear and two wins away from clinching the title, but it could help Guardiola’s men generate the momentum they need in the cup competitions.null
As well as the Champions League, remember, City have the FA Cup to play for having beaten Sheffield Wednesday in the fifth round before the lockdown. This has been Liverpool’s season. But City have the Carabao Cup in the bag and two more trophies in their sights. They could yet finish it on an even higher note than their rivals
Anthony Joshua vs Tyson Fury? Deontay Wilder is the forgotten obstacle that can still ruin undisputed title fight
His silence has been deafening. But somewhere in the Deep South there will have been a rumble, an awakening of Deontay Wilder when he heard his name uttered with such irreverence.
The news that Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury have agreed financial terms for two undisputed heavyweight championship fights in 2021 came with a caveat – “there is a lot to overcome in the meantime,” said promoter Eddie Hearn.
The biggest hurdle to jump is the man who, four months ago, was feted with awe and fear as boxing’s hardest-ever puncher.
Wilder has kept his head down since losing an alarmingly one-sided WBC title defence to Fury in February.
Since suggesting that his elaborate ring-walk costume knackered his own legs before a punch was thrown, Wilder has stayed quiet in Alabama and undergone bicep surgery (for the second time in his career, notably).null
He has not shot back at Joshua and Fury’s big news.
Perhaps a long period of self-reflection is what Wilder needed to rediscover his old self. Perhaps Joshua and Fury’s plans to meet will stoke the fire in his belly to scupper it.
He has said one major thing of note since losing to Fury, when asked about suggestions that he could willingly step away from his contracted right to a third fight: “Why wouldn’t I want it?”
Wilder has big questions to answer, not least the toughest that any boxer can face: how will he respond to a humiliating and painful defeat? Joshua did it successfully, Fury has never had to. Wilder has made worrying excuses, been through another surgery, but the true test of his heart is still to come.
Fury knows that Wilder is a serious obstacle to the Joshua fight, exclusively telling Sky Sports: “It only takes one punch off Deontay Wilder.
“Still a very dangerous opponent, still a very hungry man, who is coming in there to prove his worth, to prove he can come back and become a two-time heavyweight champion.
“More dangerous than the last fight, for sure.”
Joshua takes a dimmer view, exclusively telling Sky Sports: “I always believe that when you go to war, you can’t have one weapon in your arsenal, which was his right hand.
“Once that was taken away from him, which Tyson Fury did, I’m not going to go into tactics, but he was able to annihilate Deontay Wilder and expose him for some of his weaknesses.”
Dillian Whyte is another serious roadblock on the path to Joshua vs Fury.
He remains the mandatory challenger to Fury’s WBC belt, having been that organisation’s top challenger since November 2017 without ever receiving his opportunity.
“There is a big period of time where Whyte should get his shot at the title,” promoter Hearn told Sky Sports. “That’s important to us.”
But Fury’s US promoter, Top Rank’s Bob Arum, told Sky Sports: “We will be talking to the organisations to eliminate mandatories, or to postpone them all for at least one year.”
Whyte is due to challenge for the belt by February 2021 which the WBC confirmed is still the case. Fury’s next fight against Wilder is planned for November or December 2020. A distinct possibility is that Fury must battle past two of the world’s top four heavyweights before meeting Joshua midway through next year.
The WBC tweeted on Wednesday that they wouldn’t apply the ‘franchise’ tag to Fury as a means for Whyte to instead challenge somebody else for a vacant belt. Vasiliy Lomachenko and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez are currently WBC ‘franchise’ champions but seemingly that won’t be repeated in the heavyweight division.
“We’ll give Whyte a beating,” Fury told Sky Sports. “Why not?”
Whyte, who will next face Alexander Povetkin at a behind-closed-doors UK venue, insists he bettered Fury in sparring and said: “No one is mentioning me as they are scared of fighting me. One hundred per cent I beat Fury. He knows it and that’s why he doesn’t want to face me.
Oleksandr Usyk is a lurking threat to Joshua who is also dead-set on spoiling the dream fight with Fury.
The undefeated and glory-laden Usyk is expected to have his second heavyweight outing against Derek Chisora but he is already the WBO mandatory challenger to Joshua’s belt.
“WBO mandatory should be next,” the governing body’s president Paco Valcarcel tweeted on Thursday. Usyk’s status will create a scheduling conflict because, like Whyte, he is owed an opportunity.
Joshua and Usyk both won gold medals at London 2012 – the Ukrainian has since become undisputed cruiserweight champion and a pound-for-pound rated phenom.
Usyk told Sky Sports about Joshua and Fury: “I want to fight both.”
His manager Egis Klimas said: “I believe Anthony also wants this fight. Good fighters want to fight good fighters. Anthony sees a good challenge in Oleksandr and wants to go there.”
Joshua previously told Sky Sports about Usyk: “Line them all up. You know what it is with me, you look through my resume, I take them all on.
“I will be a well-respected heavyweight in this division, knowing that I never ducked a challenge, but Usyk, Whyte, Fury, Wilder – they’re all on my hit list, for sure.
“Usyk is a WBO mandatory challenger and if Dillian didn’t step up, Fury didn’t step up, I would take on Usyk without a shadow of a doubt.”
Joshua, before any of those, will take on his IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev whose only defeat in 29 fights came against Wladimir Klitschko. Pulev is the first hurdle on a lengthy path towards Fury.
But the most ferocious obstacle to the undisputed championship fight must be Wilder, a man who was within a split-second of knocking Fury out in the stunning 12th round of their first meeting.
Joshua vs Wilder was, until recently, the dream undisputed heavyweight championship fight that never happened. Wilder now finds himself in a different, unwanted role trying to ensure a different undisputed title fight also disappears.
Lionel Messi scores 20th La Liga goal of the season; Follow Real Madrid vs Eibar on Sunday with live blog on Sky Sports website and app
Lionel Messi scored his 20th league goal of the season as Barcelona extended their advantage at the top of La Liga to five points after returning to action with a 4-0 victory over Mallorca at the Visit Mallorca Estadi on Saturday.
Quique Setien’s side, playing in their first match since March 7 following the coronavirus pandemic, made the perfect start as Arturo Vidal headed home Jordi Alba’s cross after just 65 seconds.
The visitors extended their advantage in the 37th minute when Martin Braithwaite smashed home his first goal for the club before Jordi Alba (79) latched on Messi’s pass to add a third.
Messi then rounded off an impressive night for Barcelona, scoring his 25th goal of the season in all competitions.
20+ – Lionel Messi is the only player to score 20+ goals in 12 consecutive @LaLigaEN seasons:
Victory sees Barca move five points clear of title rivals Real Madrid ahead of their return to action against Eibar at home on Sunday (kick off 6.30pm). Meanwhile, Mallorca stay 18th as they continue their fight against relegation.
The duo, who have made a combined 404 league appearances for the club, are both out of contract
Edinson Cavani and Thiago Silva will leave Paris Saint-Germain this summer, says the club’s sporting director Leonardo.
Cavani, 33, and Silva, 35, are both out of contract in June but will remain with the club until the season is fully completed as PSG are in the Champions League quarter-finals.
PSG were awarded the Ligue 1 title after the season was ended amid the coronavirus pandemic with 11 matches to play.
“It was a really difficult decision to take. [Thiago Silva and Edinson Cavani] are players who have had a big impact on this club’s history,” Leandro told Le Journal du Dimanche.
“You always wonder if you should carry on down the same path together or if it’s better to avoid a scenario where you’ve stayed for one year too many.null
“It’s been such a wonderful journey, but we’re coming to the end. We had to make a logical decision, both in financial terms and also considering the next generation of players coming through.
“Maybe it’s the wrong decision, I don’t know. There’s never a perfect moment. The Champions League is still on the agenda and the plan is to remain in the competition with them until the end of August.”
In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports, Allan Saint-Maximin tells Adam Bate about his love of dribbling, the challenge of adding goals to his game, and why he is loving life at Newcastle…
“I started playing football alone by myself in my house,” Allan Saint-Maximin tells Sky Sports. “That is when my parents realised that I loved football. I took the ball everywhere and I dribbled everywhere. Even when I went to church I would go with my ball.
“Just me and the ball.”
Newcastle supporters will not be too surprised by their winger’s first memories of life with the football. Saint-Maximin, an £18m signing from Nice last summer, has already earned a reputation as the team’s star soloist. The Frenchman is a dribbling phenomenon.
An entertainer at a club where the fans are just aching to be entertained
Newcastle have had more than their fair share come over from France and do just that over the years, from David Ginola and Laurent Robert to Hatem Ben Arfa. The latter was once honoured in a banner depicting him as Che Guevara, the word hope emblazoned over it.null
It is the prospect of a takeover that provides the hope on Tyneside these days but when it comes to joy – visceral joy – Saint-Maximin is the player providing it. He is the one whose name is on the kids’ shirts. He is the one who has supporters on the edge of their seats.
He senses that himself too.
“They cry a lot, eh? They cry a lot. That is why I feel it. I really love Newcastle because the fans like how I play. This is important for me, you know. It is a really great feeling. That is why I am enjoying it a lot here and I know I can show much better things too.”
Of course, the electricity that reverberates around St James’ Park when Saint-Maximin has the ball at his feet will be absent when football resumes. He will miss that more than most.
“To be honest, it will be really hard for me because the fans are really important for us, you know. We win more games at home and everybody knows why. When you play at home it is a different feeling. Now it is very difficult but I prefer playing like this to not playing.”
Despite this frustration, Saint-Maximin has shown that he does not always need a crowd to impress. Perhaps you caught the video back in October that showed him weaving his way past several defenders in training before slotting the ball into the corner of the net.
Millions did, amused by the yells for him to pass the ball midway through one of those now trademark charges. Dribbling is what Saint-Maximin does – what he was born to do, according to his former youth coach Gael Diarra – and the numbers back that up.
Saint-Maximin has completed 5.66 dribbles per 90 minutes in the Premier League season. Only Wolves flyer Adama Traore beats an opponent more regularly than that.
Saint-Maximin is one of the top dribblers in the Premier League
The criticism that usually follows is about his end product. It is a complaint that has dogged Saint-Maximin throughout his fledgling career, one that has already taken him to the Bundesliga and back as well as playing top-flight football in France for four different clubs.
The journey began at Saint Etienne – “far from my family and friends in Paris but that was better for my football” – before being loaned to Hannover and Bastia. A move to Monaco did not work out as he was said to have exasperated coach Lucien Favre right from the first training session. Patrick Vieira took him under his wing at Nice but tensions soon arose.
The hope is that Newcastle will be different, that Steve Bruce’s man-management skills can help coax something from Saint-Maximin that has been latent up to now. Could he start deciding games on a regular basis rather than just decorating them with his dribbling?
Saint-Maximin has completed 80 Premier League dribbles but scored only two goals in the competition with just the one assist. For the 23-year-old winger it is a familiar line of questioning but it prompts a lengthy and animated defence of his record to date.
“I want to score goals and do assists but sometimes you can do the pass before the assist,” he explains. “Sometimes this pass is very important for the goal. I always think about this. Sometimes I can dribble and four players will come towards me and then I can make a pass and it is easier for my team-mate to score. I am really happy when this happens.”
I want to score goals and do assists but sometimes you can do the pass before the assist. Sometimes this pass is very important for the goal.
He is quite right, of course. Newcastle’s winning goal against Manchester United at St James’ Park earlier this season came courtesy of Matty Longstaff on his full debut. It was Jetro Willems who laid the ball into Longstaff’s path to claim the assist but the hard work had been done prior to that as Saint-Maximin cut through the opposition defence.
He wants to do more of that. He wants to score more goals too. But he is also aware that the level of the Premier League is so high, the circumstances at Newcastle so often loaded against the team, that it will not be straightforward to improve his statistics.
“For sure, I want to improve my finishing. But I think everybody knows that sometimes when you don’t have a lot of action in a game it is difficult. Sometimes there are games like the one against Oxford, if you remember that, when I had six or seven shots. That is easier.
“But sometimes in a game I will get one or two shots. This is harder. That is why we have to keep working and keep improving because the games are difficult. Sometimes we play really good but other games we play a bit bad. When you play a bit bad you don’t have chances.
“You have to keep running and working but it is hard for everybody. Even Miguel Almiron and Joelinton, it is hard for them too. That is why I try my best to assist my team-mates. I am more happy when I provide an assist for them to score. This is really important for me.
“I know it is really important to score. That is why I want to improve and score more goals for myself and for my team. But I am not focused only on this. I would prefer to not score and my team wins 1-0 than to score and lose 3-1. I just want to help my team-mates do that. The most important thing is when my team win. That is why we have to keep going.
“We have to do everything to win because we have 35 points and we don’t need a lot of points to stay up. The Premier League is the best in the world so you have to keep improving and keep working to be able to play in it. Now I feel good and feel I can show what I can do.”
Saint-Maximin speaks with real passion. A team man and a family man, he appears to have embraced life in Newcastle with his young family – two daughters and one son. His social media posts even include images of him around the house wearing his Newcastle kit.
Lockdown has at least meant more time with his children. And despite being denied some time on the training ground, it has meant more time too with Saint-Maximin’s oldest companion.
“I have felt really comfortable restarting training because I am lucky enough to have a good house with a garden where I have been playing, shooting and doing lots of things.”
Just Saint-Maximin and the ball. Just the way he likes it.
Goals from Florian Lejeune and Saint-Maximin in a friendly match at St James’ Park gave Newcastle their second victory over Championship opposition in just four days, following Tuesday’s 3-2 win against Middlesbrough.
Lejeune opened the scoring in the first half, heading home Jonjo Shelvey’s accurate cross from a free-kick.
Newcastle vs Sheff Utd
June 21, 2020, 1:00pm
Live on Halif’s blog
Saint-Maximin doubled the lead just before the break, picking up a loose ball in the box and side-footing it beyond Hull goalkeeper George Long.
Napoli into first Coppa Italia final since their win in 2014 and will play Juventus in the final on June 17 in Rome
Napoli were 1-0 ahead from the first leg at the San Siro three months ago, but their advantage was wiped out barely two minutes in as Christian Eriksen – making his fourth Inter start since his January moved from Tottenham – curled a corner home.
But it was Dries Mertens’ (41) slotted finish after a superb break from Lorenzo Insigne that ultimately sealed Napoli’s place in Wednesday’s final against Juventus, overtaking Marek Hamsik (121) as the club’s highest scorer (122) in the process.
InteR will rue their lack of cutting edge, having had the better of the chances throughout.
How Napoli made it past Inter
Within two minutes, Inter hauled themselves level in the tie. A fizzing corner from Eriksen bypassed everyone, shot through the legs of David Ospina and nestled into the far corner
It was a stop-start first half but Inter saw the lion’s share of the chances and should have gone further ahead.null
In the 16th minute, an impressive Antonio Candreva could only lift his effort over the bar before linking up with Eriksen 13 minutes later. His cross from the right was headed on by the Dane for Romelu Lukaku, but the striker directed his own nodded effort wide.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s penalty miss did not prove costly for Juventus as they played out a 0-0 draw against Ac Milan as football returned to Italy on Friday evening. Despite playing close to 75 minutes with a man down, The resolve of the Milan defence proved to be a tough nut to crack for the Italian Champions but the draw was just enough to ensure that Juventus qualified for the final. The two teams played out a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the semi-final at San Siro in February but had to wait four months for the return match at the Allianz Stadium due to the suspension of the competition on the back of the Coronavirus Pandemic since March.
Before kickoff, a minute silence was observed for those who died from Covid-19 and this was immediately followed up by a round of applause for the nation’s health workers.
Ronaldo failed to score from the spot kick after a VAR review which confirmed that Andrea Conti handled the ball in the area in the 16th minute. 17 seconds later, Ante Rebic was sent off for a lounge on Danilo but Juventus fail to take advantage of their strength in number.
Donnarumma was also tested by an effort from Blaise Matuidi in the 31st minute and he was also equal to Ronaldo’s attempt. Milan failed to test. Buffon had a quiet evening for the most part of the match despite Milan’s several forays forward. Milan threw caution to the wind despite their numerical disadvantage but had nothing to show for it in the end.
Hakan Calhanoglu could only divert his header wide three minutes after the restart before Rafael Leao came on for Giamoco Bonaventura to fill the void that Ante Rebic had left.
Fatigue in both teams was obvious despite being allowed to make five substitutions and the much anticipated contest ended in a full draw.
Juventus will lock horns with Napoli or Inter in the final while Milan will turn their attentions to Lecce on Monday night as they resume their Serie A campaign.
Graham Hunter (Spanish football journalist, speaking on The Football Show)
Real Madrid have had an enormous problem converting their match superiority not just into goals but match-winning goals. I think they began to look a bit ragged and tired.
Nobody would have wished for this gap and its consequences but I think they will come back sharper and stronger. I was speaking to Ruben Baraja, the Valencia legend who is the current Tenerife coach, and he was saying that, in his opinion, the teams who are as close to competitive sharpness as possible won’t just win but win by heavy margins.
Which of Real Madrid and Barcelona will have trained and built up better in a short period of time? I think both of them will dislike playing in games without atmosphere – every top player, when you’re playing away and rival fans are taunting you, rises to the occasion. It’s going to be much more about mental toughness.
I think we’ll see a battle right to the end but if Messi is fit and at full gas, I see Barcelona dropping fewer points against the so-called lesser sides. Let’s see – it’s fascinating.
Terry Gibson (Spanish football pundit)
It’s difficult to predict who is going to win the title but I’m going to go for Barcelona for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Luis Suarez is fit again after being expected to miss the entire season and it’s going to be interesting to see his recovery after his knee operation as it has been something he has been struggling with for a few seasons now. If fit and sharp he could be decisive.
Real Madrid do also have two players back who were also expected to miss the rest of the campaign in Hazard and Asensio but Suarez has the potential to score more than the two of those put together in the last 11 games. Secondly, I believe the fact that Real Madrid playing their games at the Valdebebas training centre in a 6,000 capacity stadium will hinder them.
I understand that nobody will be in the stadiums anyway but even playing in an empty Nou Camp will still intimidate opposing teams. Can you imagine how big that pitch and bowl of a stadium will look and feel even empty compared to the Di Stefano stadium with two small stands, I worry it will have a training game feel for both sets of players involved in games there.
David Garrido (Sky Sports News Presenter and La Liga Expert)
The unprecedented situation we find ourselves in may well throw up a few more curveballs, especially with significant players back from injury and matches behind closed doors but it’s set to be a fascinating run-in.
What is crucial though is that Madrid have got the better head-to-head record with Barca, having drawn the first Clasico back in December and won the return fixture. For my money, Real Madrid deserve the title on how they’ve done so far and they should do it.
Real haven’t been helped by injuries to their attacking talents though. Eden Hazard has been restricted to just 10 league games since his big-money move from Chelsea last summer, undergoing surgery on his ankle in March.
Marco Asensio hasn’t played a single minute of football this season, after rupturing his ACL against Arsenal in a pre-season match. The good news for fans is that the exciting pair are both back in training and could be fit for the run-in.
But Barca have had some very positive injury news too.
Luis Suarez, who only trails Messi and Benzema in the race for the Golden Boot, is back in training after undergoing knee surgery in January. An all-firing front three of Messi, Suarez and Antoine Griezmann would strike fear into any defence.
The La Liga title could then come down to which former Premier League star can make the biggest impact upon their return.
Suarez or Hazard? Barcelona or Real Madrid?
Myself am waiting, what would you predictions be, leave comment
The fight for silverware is set to resume but who has the edge?
Barcelona have the slight advantage after 27 games. Since 2010/11, only one side has failed to go on to lift the trophy after being top at this stage. That was Real Madrid, who eventually finished third as neighbours Atletico lifted the trophy.
Real have one more home game left than Barcelona, with back-to-back home fixtures in store when the league returns. Zidane’s side are unbeaten at home in the league this season but, as we’ve seen already in the Bundesliga, home advantage seems to be reduced behind-closed-doors.
The advantage could be further diminished as Madrid will not be playing at the Bernabeu again this season due to refurbishment plans. Instead, games will be at the reserve team’s 6,000-seater Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium.
Both sides still have to face the current bottom three. Barcelona will be eased back into football with games against Mallorca and Leganes – 18th and 19th respectively – while Real will finish their season against Leganes, who will either have nothing to play for – or could be scrapping for their La Liga status.
Statistically, Barcelona have a very slight advantage in the run-in. Their remaining opponents have a current average position of 13th, with Real’s averaging 12th.
Barcelona recorded eight wins against the 11 teams they have left to play, suffering draws to current bottom-side Espanyol and Osasuna, with defeat by Athletic Bilbao.
As for Real Madrid, they failed to record victories against four of their upcoming opponents, with draws against Valencia, Bilbao and Villarreal. They have to face league minnows Mallorca again, who provided the shock result of the season by beating them 1-0 back in October. In this entirely unscientific prediction, if both sides mirrored those results, Barcelona would pick up the title by four points.
Barcelona lead Real Madrid by two points ahead of the 11 remaining games; follow Mallorca vs Barcelona on Saturday and Real Madrid vs Eibar on Sunday with live blogs on Halif’s blog website
La Liga is back – and that means the resumption of a title race between Real Madrid and Barcelona that could go right to the wire.
In truth, Spain’s heavyweights have been a shadow of their former selves this season but at least they’ve had the good grace to do it fairly evenly – just two points separate the sides with 11 games remaining.