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Euro 2020: Group B: Belgium vs Russia

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Belgium meet Russia at Krestovsky Stadium in their opening Group B encounter of Euro 2020. 

Depending on the result of Denmark’s clash against Finland on Saturday teatime, victory by a better goal margin could send either Belgium or Russia top of Group B.

 

Team News

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Kevin De Bruyne is ruled out for Belgium after being left behind in Tubize, Belgium to continue his recovery from a broken nose bone fracture suffered in Manchester City’s Champions League Final loss.

Axel Witsel will also miss the trip as he continues to recover from an Achilles injury and like De Bruyne, has also been left behind at base in Tubize.

Russia have no fresh injury concerns so will too have all their players in contention to start with their top two goalscorers in Artem Dzyuba and Denis Cheryshev set to definitely start this match.

 

Stat Attack

  • Belgium are unbeaten in seven previous meetings against Russia (W5, D2) and won both of their two previous clashes at major tournaments in Group Stage at 2002 and 2014 FIFA World Cup respectively.
  • Despite playing as the ‘away’ team in their home venue, Russia are yet to beat Belgium at home (D1, L2).
  • Roberto Martinez’s Belgian Red Devils have scored ten goals in their last three meetings against Russia.
  • Eight of Belgium’s last 14 goals have been scored before half-time in five matches held in 2021 (W3, D2).
  • Russia have kept just one clean sheet in their last five matches in all competitions in 2021.

 

Prediction

With both of Belgium’s two experienced midfielders out, I am quite intrigued as to how Roberto Martinez approaches this game tactically whilst maintaining his 3-4-2-1 formation, yet De Bruyne and Witsel’s absence gives Youri Tielemans a huge opportunity to stake his place as a regular.

Russia meanwhile were the surprise of 2018 World Cup and will certainly be an interesting watch in terms of formation, given that they can play a 5-3-1-1 or 4-2-3-1 formation which could add a further tactical headache for Martinez.

The ex Wigan manager however can take heart in Belgium’s impressive form against the Russian in all competitions, yet De Bruyne’s absence will certainly be felt and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a draw here if Belgium aren’t at their best.

Prediction: Belgium 1-1 Russia

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Denis Radovan: ‘I never cry. I only sweat out of my eyes’ – Boxing News

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Paul Wheeler talks to Denis Radovan, a middleweight who wishes he could eat like a heavyweight

When and why you started boxing:
I started boxing at the age of seven. My father was always a big boxing fan. One time he took me to a boxing club in our city of Cologne and I just fell in love with the sport.

Favourite all-time fighter:
I couldn’t name just one fighter, as this sport has so many incredible athletes. But one boxer who is always in my top five is Bernard Hopkins. I loved to watch him fight.

Best fight you’ve seen:
It’d have to be the first meeting between Andre Berto and Victor Ortiz. That was an all-action fight.

Personal career highlight:
Winning my quarter-final bout at the Youth World Championships in 2010 was a great moment for me. With that win I made history because I became one of the first German athletes to qualify for the inaugural Youth Olympic Games later that year.

Toughest opponent:
The toughest person that I’ve been in the ring with is George Groves. I sparred with him before his fight with Chris Eubank Jnr. He was a very hard and skilful fighter.

Best and worst attributes as a boxer:
I’d say that my willpower and work ethic are the attributes that have taken me places. My worst attribute? Maybe sometimes I can be a bit too hotheaded!

Training tip:
Always try to have fun, even when the sessions are difficult.

Favourite meal/restaurant:
I don’t have just one favourite meal. I like food in every way. Food is life!

Best friends in boxing:
One of my best friends in the sport is Artur Mann. He’s a very special guy. I hope to see him back in the ring soon.

Other sportsperson you would like to be:
I’d like to be a heavyweight boxer. No weight-making issues – only training and eating!

Last film/TV show you saw:
The last TV series I watched was Money Heist.

Who would play you in a film of your life:
Tom Hardy could play me in an action film!

Have you ever been starstruck:
One time I met Evander Holyfield at a gym in Louisville, Kentucky. It was a surreal experience – meeting a legendary champ who fought in so many big fights, including the two famous ones against Mike Tyson. He’s a true legend of the sport. Of course, I had to get a photo with him. That was definitely my most starstruck moment!

Last time you cried:
I never cry. I only sweat out of my eyes!

Best advice received:
Take care of the people that you love.

Worst rumour about yourself:
I’ve never heard any rumours about myself.

Something not many people know about you:
Not many people know that I love to watch trash TV!

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Valencia sign shirt sponsorship deal with Socios – SportsMint Media

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La Liga club Valencia has replaced Bwin with Socios.com fan and will be the first team to promote the company on the kit. This will be a one-season deal and the fans will see Valencia’s official fan token ‘$VCF’ display on the shirt.

The Spanish side also joins some of the major football clubs like Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City, AC Milan, Juventus, Atlético de Madrid, AS Roma, Galatasaray to work with Socios. The Argentina national team also works with the firm. 

The company first began to expand its sponsorship portfolio in the United States of America, building an alliance with teams like the National Hockey League’s New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia 76ers of NBA. Both the teams were owned by Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment. Alexandre Dreyfus, chief executive of blockchain provider Chiliz and Socios.com revealed that partnership with Valencia is the most valuable milestone in the company’s evolution. 

 “This world-first partnership, our fourth with a major Spanish club and 38th overall, will bring incredible visibility to fan tokens and the Socios.com platform, accelerating our mission to shift passive fans into active contributors and create a brighter future for sport – where clubs and fans alike are able to enjoy the rewards created by unlocking the potential of global fan engagement.”

Socios will replace Bwin with the shirt sponsor. Bwin is a betting operator company and had a three-year deal with the club till 2022 but the club was forced to terminate the contract with them as Spain’s new law does not allow to promote gambling in relation to sports and other events. 

Valencia had quite a disappointing season as they finished 13th in La Liga with only 43 points. The Spanishonce used to challenge for the top four spots every year but the new ownership has been a bane for them in the past few years. 

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WTC final | Indian players wear black armbands in memory of late Milkha Singh

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Indian cricketers have worn black armbands in the WTC final against New Zealand in the memory of late sprinter Milkha Singh, who passed away Friday night owing to complications caused by the deadly Covid-19 virus. India were put into bat in the game, and they ended session one at 69/2.

Indian players paid tribute to the late Milkha Singh by donning black armbands on the second day of the inaugural WTC final against New Zealand at Ageas Bowl, Southampton, on Saturday. 

The Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) official twitter handle announced that Indian team wore black armbands in the memory of the swashbuckling athlete.

“#TeamIndia is wearing black armbands in remembrance of Milkha Singhji, who passed away due to COVID-19. 🙏 #WTC21,” the Board tweeted. 

The 1958 Commonwealth Games gold medalist Milkha Singh passed away on late Friday night in Chandigarh, a month after he contracted COVID-19. And according to a family statement, The Flying Sikh had fought hard in his final days. 

The World Test Championship final kicked off on the second day after day one was completely washed out due to rain. New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson won the toss and opted to field first in the all-important contest. 

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