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Barcelona to pursue Manchester United star if they fail to sign Robert Lewandowski – Reports 



Barcelona are reportedly interested in signing Manchester United striker Edinson Cavani. The Uruguayan’s contract expires on June 30.

According to Fichajes, the Blaugrana view Cavani as an alternative to Bayern Munich hitman Robert Lewandowski. The 33-year-old has emerged as Barcelona’s top transfer target this summer.

However, Bayern are reluctant to let go of the striker, as he still has one year left on his contract. The Blaugrana are keen to sign a top-quality forward to add goals, experience and leadership to a youthful-looking squad. So they could switch their focus to alternative options like Cavani if they fail to sign Lewandowski.

Cavani spent seven seasons with PSG before his move to Manchester United, scoring a record 200 goals and establishing himself as one of the best No.9s in the game. He joined the Red Devils on a free transfer in 2020 and scored 17 times in 39 games across competitions in his first season. United finished second in the league and reached the UEFA Europa League final.

However, his involvement was limited last campaign due to Cristiano Ronaldo’s arrival and recurring injuries, scoring just twice in 20 appearances. Barcelona were linked with a move for the veteran striker in January (as per Marca), but a move didn’t materialise.

Barcelona could sign Luis Suarez this summer

RCD Mallorca vs Club Atletico de Madrid - La Liga Santander
RCD Mallorca vs Club Atletico de Madrid – La Liga Santander

Luis Suarez is another potential option for the Blaugrana if they fail to sign Lewandowski, as per Sport.

In six years at the club, he scored nearly 200 goals and won four La Liga, four Copa del Rey and a UEFA Champions League title. He joined Atletico in the summer of 2020 after becoming surplus to requirements at Camp Nou.

Suarez scored 21 times in 35 La Liga games as the Rojiblancos won their first league title in seven years. He scored 11 league goals last season and is set to depart as a free agent this summer.

It remains to be seen if Suarez returns to the Camp Nou this summer.

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“Every Sri Lankan will remember this” – Dasun Shanaka responds to Aaron Finch’s post, thanks Australian cricket team



Sri Lankan limited overs captain Dasun Shanaka has thanked the Australian cricket team for visiting the island nation during a time of crisis. Responding to a post by the visitors’ white ball captain Aaron Finch, Shanaka said that “every Sri Lankan will remember” the limited-overs series.

The Australia-Sri Lanka contest gave fans in the island nation something to cheer about amid a massive economic crisis that has thrown the Asian country into turmoil.

Australia clinched the three-match T20I series 2-1, but Sri Lanka hit back to claim the five-match one-day series 3-2. The ODI win was Sri Lanka’s first in the format against the Aussies at home in 30 years.

Sharing his thoughts on the tour, Finch took to Instagram and posted a series of images that captured the essence of the white ball tour. He uploaded the pictures and wrote:

“It was a tour that meant so much to so many people, and it was really an honour to tour this amazing country again! Thank you to everyone in Sri Lanka for the amazing memories!”

Responding to Finch’s post, Shanaka expressed gratitude to the Aussies on behalf of the Sri Lankan cricket team and fans. He replied to the post:

“Thanks a lot skipper. Touring Sri Lanka at this moment. It’s was a remarkable series and am sure that every Sri Lankan will remember this and (is) very much thankful to the Australian Team!”

Australia won the first ODI by two wickets (DLS method). However, Sri Lanka registered three wins in a row to clinch a historic series win. There was some consolation for Australia, as they won the last match of the series by four wickets.

“It was pretty extraordinary” – Glenn Maxwell hails Sri Lankan crowd for special gesture

There were some amazing scenes at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo during the fifth ODI, as a number of Sri Lankan fans turned up in the yellow Australian jersey and waved Aussie flags.

The crowd also cheered for the visitors during the final one-dayer. The special gesture was Sri Lanka’s way of thanking the Aussies for touring the country at the time of one of their worst crises.

Speaking to after the match, Australian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell hailed the crowd and said:

“It was pretty extraordinary. I was just telling the boys, that was one of the most special feelings, being able to walk around the ground and have a foreign country all cheer for you. A lot of times when Australia tours, we are generally the enemy, and there are not many Australian fans in the stands, but to have the support and fans that are here at the moment is truly extraordinary.”

“We’re generally the enemy” 😅The scenes in Colombo after the fifth ODI were unreal and left Glenn Maxwell and the Aussies stunned as fans thanked them for touring 🥰 #SLvAUS

Australia cleaned up Sri Lanka for 160 in the final ODI before chasing down the target in 39.3 overs to register a consolation win.

Sri Lanka will now face Australia in a two-match Test series, which begins in Galle on Wednesday, June 29.

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Nasser Hussain: Ben Stokes ‘completely gets’ England captaincy | Michael Atherton: The best captains are born and not made



Nasser Hussain believes that Ben Stokes is an “incredibly impressive” captain after a day of tactical brilliance at Headingley; For Michael Atherton, Stokes has natural ability to lead England; third Test continues on Sunday, live from 10.15am on Sky Sports Cricket

Last Updated: 25/06/22 8:20pm

Nasser Hussain and Michael Atherton believe Ben Stokes has the innate ability to be a brilliant leader for England

Sky Sports’ Nasser Hussain and Michael Atherton were full of praise for the tactical brilliance, mentality and instinct of new England skipper Ben Stokes as England fought back to reduce New Zealand to 168-5 with a lead of 137.

​​​​​​Stokes was a leading presence throughout New Zealand’s second innings, some bold decision-making helping Jamie Overton take the pivotal wicket of Tom Latham (76) before England struck a further three times to give them the upper hand heading into day four at Headingley.

Hussain: Stokes is an ‘incredibly impressive’ captain

Nasser Hussain analyses some of the key tactical decisions made by England captain Ben Stokes in the third Test against New Zealand

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Nasser Hussain analyses some of the key tactical decisions made by England captain Ben Stokes in the third Test against New Zealand

Nasser Hussain analyses some of the key tactical decisions made by England captain Ben Stokes in the third Test against New Zealand

Sky Sports’ Nasser Hussain: “This man took over the England captaincy and said I don’t want to do it until his mate, Joe Root, said I am not going to do this job anymore.

“It is the best job in English cricket and it also, could be, the hardest job in English cricket especially when you have won one of your last 17 Test matches.

“Here is a man who had only captained one red-ball game before but here is a man who I think has been incredibly impressive as a captain in three matches.

“It is easy to say when they are winning and then, like with Root knock them down and build them up and knock them down but that is not what I am doing.

“This man’s body language and his tactical nouse in these three games have been outstanding.

“If you are watching from above as a fan, you know who is in charge of this England cricket team, it is Ben Stokes without a doubt.

“He is constantly keeping going, he is constantly, with a smile on his face, with great body language, no anger, just getting people in the right position at the right time.

“When a bowler needs a pat on the back, even if it a senior bowler he is up to him, he got the Western terrace going this afternoon.

“He brings on Leach on day one after 14 overs and with his first delivery, Leach gets a wicket, that is his first masterstroke.

“He has got one or two wickets just from his captaincy.

“I enjoyed his reaction to Bairstow’s hundred, he understood the moment, he understood Jonny Bairstow, he understood Headingley, he understood what this ground meant to Jonny Bairstow and if anyone got this moment it was the England skipper.

England's Jonny Bairstow hits his second successive century on day two of the third Test against New Zealand

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England’s Jonny Bairstow hits his second successive century on day two of the third Test against New Zealand

England’s Jonny Bairstow hits his second successive century on day two of the third Test against New Zealand

“I am not bigging this bloke up, we have been there and we have built them up to knock them down but from what I have seen, tactically, here is a bloke that completely understands the game and completely gets captaincy.

“Tactics, nous and instinct are things that have almost gone out of the game. Because you have so many members of backroom staff, it becomes captaincy by committee and a group decision. I want a captain that thinks on his or her feet, makes his or her mistakes, as it is about gut feel.

“If you constantly rely on other people, you don’t learn from your mistakes. But Ben gets it tactically, has a gut feel for the situation and the changes that need to be made. We knew he had that as a batter, from that Headingley innings in 2019 and the World Cup final, but did he have it as a captain? I think he does.”

Atherton: Captaincy comes naturally to Stokes | He doesn’t have to do five years

Former England captain Steve Harmison believes Ben Stokes brings a positive mindset to the England Test side

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Former England captain Steve Harmison believes Ben Stokes brings a positive mindset to the England Test side

Former England captain Steve Harmison believes Ben Stokes brings a positive mindset to the England Test side

Sky Sports’ Michael Atherton: “I think the best leaders, the best captains are born and not made. I think it comes naturally.

“Ben Stokes had done very little captaincy otherwise so you can’t say that he is somebody who has had massive experience in leadership but I just think he has got it.

“I think it is a born, innate thing with some people. It is early days and it is easy to go overboard but I agree with what Nasser said there, his attitude, he is a winner and wants to win, he has instilled a positive mindset and mentality into an England team that had its struggles for a year or two.

If you marry that with the instinct and feel for the game he has, then you have got somebody who can lead the side.

“I think he has made an outstanding start.

Highlights from day three of the third Test between England and New Zealand at Headingley

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Highlights from day three of the third Test between England and New Zealand at Headingley

Highlights from day three of the third Test between England and New Zealand at Headingley

“It doesn’t need to be a five-year appointment. Virtually every recent England captain, bar Kevin Pietersen, has done the job for a considerable length of time but it doesn’t have to be like that. Stokes might just give it his all for a couple of years and then England find someone else.

“It might be that Stokes is so good he sticks around for five years but I don’t think it needs to be necessarily seen like that as you get to a period where it really starts to take its toll. Give it your all and maybe bet out while the going is good before the inevitable weariness takes over.”

Watch day four of the third LV= Insurance Test between England and New Zealand, at Headingley, live on Sky Sports Cricket with coverage starting at 10.15am and play getting underway at 11am, on Sunday.

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Origin Game 2 preview: Can Queensland seal series in the west?



With one hand on the State of Origin shield, Queensland can wrap up the series before they even host Game 3 with victory at Perth’s Optus Stadium on Sunday night.

In Billy Slater’s coaching debut, the Maroons pulled off an upset for the ages with a 16-10 victory at Accor Stadium in Game 1, the win masterminded by Slater’s former club and state teammate Cameron Munster.

Despite conceding the first try 15 minutes in, the northerners worked their way back into the match with a spectacular try via Dane Gagai, and an easy try off the scrum from captain Daly Cherry-Evans, on either side of halftime.

They repelled the Blues’ attack in the second half to hold on for what was their first win in Blues territory since Game 2, 2017.

This has them just one win away from reclaiming the shield for just the second time since 2017, when the state’s golden era was considered to have ended, around which time Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston announced their representative retirements.

Another win for Slater would see him join Kevin Walters in winning his first two matches as Queensland coach, and also him and Mal Meninga in winning a series on their first attempt.

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

From the side that defeated the Blues in Game 1, Xavier Coates and Reuben Cotter are the only changes, both of them forced through injury. Murray Taulagi has been named for his Origin debut on the wing, while Jai Arrow comes into the 17 after being 18th man for the first game.

A minor reshuffle in the run-on side sees Lindsay Collins move to prop forward, as Tino Fa’asuamaleaui moves to lock in Cotter’s absence.

The Queensland side to line up at Optus Stadium is as follows.

Kalyn Ponga, Selwyn Cobbo, Valentine Holmes, Dane Gagai, Murray Taulagi, Cameron Munster, Daly Cherry-Evans (c), Lindsay Collins, Ben Hunt, Josh Papalii, Kurt Capewell, Felise Kaufusi, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui. Interchange: Harry Grant, Jai Arrow, Patrick Carrigan, Jeremiah Nanai. 18th man: Tom Dearden.

In: Murray Taulagi, Jai Arrow. Out: Xavier Coates, Reuben Cotter.

On the other side of the equation, the Blues find themselves 1-0 down in a series for the third time in four years, and coach Brad Fittler has accepted the criticism of his side’s Game 1 performance and made changes to the side accordingly.

Fittler’s side started strongly, scoring the first try through Jack Wighton 15 minutes in, but were left to pay the price after severely underestimating a Queensland side which had its pride severely dented after two horrible defeats in the first two games last year.

They trailed by 16-4 with less than 10 minutes left and ultimately left it too late, Isaah Yeo being tackled a metre short of the tryline when the full-time siren rang, leaving the Blues with a lot of catching up to do if they are to level the series and keep their shield defence alive.

There is only one forced change to the Game I side, with Wighton dropping out after testing positive to COVID-19, while Eels pair Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Ryan Matterson, and centre Kotoni Staggs have all been dropped.

Apisai Koroisau and Jake Trbojevic both come into the run-on side, while Matt Burton and Siosifa Talakai has both been named for their Origin debuts.

Koroisau’s naming at hooker means Damien Cook has been demoted to the bench after 13 consecutive starts in the 9 jersey, while Panthers Grand Final hero Stephen Crichton has been promoted to starting centre alongside Burton.

Despite some recent strong form for the Bulldogs in response to being left out of the Game 1 side, Josh Addo-Carr has again been overlooked, with Daniel Tupou retaining his place on the wing.

Daniel Tupou

(Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Seven of the Blues’ starting 13 are from the all-conquering Penrith Panthers, and so Brad Fittler will be praying that these seven players carry their club form into the Origin arena and keep the series alive.

The New South Wales side to line up at Optus Stadium is as follows:

James Tedesco (c), Brian To’o, Matt Burton, Stephen Crichton, Daniel Tupou, Jarome Luai, Nathan Cleary, Payne Haas, Apisai Koroisau, Jake Trbojevic, Cameron Murray, Liam Martin, Isaah Yeo. Interchange: Damien Cook, Angus Crichton, Junior Paulo, Siosifa Talakai. 18th man: Nicho Hynes.

In: Matt Burton, Apisai Koroisau, Jake Trbojevic, Siosifa Talakai. Out: Kotoni Staggs, Jack Wighton, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Ryan Matterson.

This will be the second State of Origin match to be played at Optus Stadium, following Game 2 in 2019, which the Blues won by 38-6.

Recent history favours both sides, with the Blues having won each Sunday game since the series was revamped in 2018, and the Maroons having not lost a live decider at Suncorp Stadium (the venue for Game 3) since 2005.

However, only once since 2005 (in 2019) have the southerners come from 1-0 down in a series to win, meaning the pressure will be on Brad Fittler and his side to level the series as defeat would give the northerners a golden chance to complete a clean sweep on their home soil.

It will be game on from the first whistle, with the Blues determined to level the series before a potential Suncorp Stadium decider, while the Maroons will be aiming to go 2-0 up in the series and give Billy Slater the perfect start to his coaching career.

On neutral territory, and with their only changes being forced through injury, the Canetoads should get the job done.

Prediction: Queensland by six points.

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