For Europe’s “super clubs”, UEFA Champions League determines all



There was barely time for the full inquest into Juventus’ exit from the UEFA Champions League to even begin before the club delivered their own blunt verdict.

They sacked their coach, Maurizio Sarri.

Not so long ago, there would have been surprise, perhaps even some outrage, at a coach losing his job just two weeks after winning a domestic league title.

However, Sarri’s removal, the day after their aggregate defeat by Olympique Lyonnais, was a reminder that for Europe’s “super clubs”, success is now determined solely by the UEFA Champions League.

Juve have, after all, won the last nine Serie A titles.

Clinching the scudetto, once a moment of glory and a chance for gloating over rivals AC Milan and Inter Milan, is now viewed as the bare minimum.

New coach Andrea Pirlo will surely be aware of this.

The same harsh reality applies for Bayern Munich, winners of the last eight Bundesliga titles, and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), champions of seven of the last eight French league campaigns.

These are clubs who must shine in Europe to be viewed as truly successful.

The pressure is concentrated even more this year as Europe’s elite gather in Lisbon this week for a COVID-19 enforced mini-tournament.

It is an event with one-off quarter-final and semi-final games leading up to the final on Aug. 23.

PSG, who have never gone beyond the last-four, kick off the show, with their last eight tie on Wednesday against surprise package Atalanta.

Victory for the Bergamo club against the big-spending Qatari-owned French side will re-open questions about the future of their German coach Thomas Tuchel.

Winning the French league certainly was not enough for previous managers Carlo Ancelotti, Laurent Blanc and Unai Emery when they failed to add UEFA Champions League success to domestic domination.

The pick of the quarter-finals is Friday’s encounter between FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich, who have both won the competition five times.

Bayern Munich manager Hansi Flick, who only took over the side in November, following the dismissal of Niko Kovac, has surely done enough in his brief time in charge.

He has done enough to survive any disappointment.

But the same might not be the case for Barca boss Quique Setien.

He is also only months into his reign, after replacing Ernesto Valverde in January.

But a last eight exit from Europe to follow a runners-up spot behind Real Madrid in La Liga, will inevitably raise doubts.

Such doubts will be over whether he is the right long term solution for the Catalan club.

There are no such questions over former FC Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola’s status at Manchester City.

But he is fuelled by a desire to get his hands back on the trophy, nine years after winning his second UEFA Champions League with Barca.

Manchester City, impressive in their last 16 win over Real Madrid, start as favourites against Lyon and indeed are backed by the bookmakers to win the competition.

Should they beat the French side, Guardiola will come against one of his former clubs in Barca or Bayern Munich in the semi-finals.

In the high pressure knockout environment in Lisbon, Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone is a coach who has the pedigree and approach, well suited to such a format.

The Argentine has twice taken his superbly-drilled sides to the UEFA Champions League final, in addition to winning two UEFA Europa League campaigns.

This season, he has already claimed the scalp of last year’s winners and 2019/2020 English Premier League (EPL)  champions Liverpool.

Atletico Madrid face RB Leipzig, first time quarter-finalists, on Thursday and should they emerge from that encounter will fancy their chances against PSG or Atalanta.

The games will be held behind closed doors at two venues ——- Sporting Lisbon’s Estadio Jose Alvalade and Benfica’s Estadio da Luz, which will host the final.

Edited By: Olawale Alabi) (NAN)


Leyton Orient players test positive for COVID-19, Spurs clash in doubt



A number of Leyton Orient first-team players have tested positive for COVID-19, the League Two club said on Monday, throwing Tuesday’s League Cup home match against Tottenham Hotspur in doubt.

Orient confirmed its Breyer Group Stadium, which is due to host Tottenham in the third round of the League Cup, and training ground facilities will be closed until further notice.

“We have informed the EFL (English Football League) and Tottenham Hotspur and will make a further announcement regarding Tuesday’s match shortly,” Orient said in a statement.

Orient have also informed Mansfield Town, Plymouth Argyle and Oldham Athletic – three of their most recent opponents – prior to the public release of the information.

The players will now follow the self-isolation guidelines set by the British government.

Britain has recorded over 424,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 41,000 deaths, according to a Reuters tally.

Edited By: Peter Ejiofor)
Source: NAN
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Bayern Munich fans undergo Super Cup coronavirus tests, Munich premier concerned



Bayern Munich fans started undegoing coronavirus tests on Monday ahead of their trip to the European Super Cup match in Budapest, amid grave concern voiced by Bavarian state premier Markus Soeder.

UEFA Champions League winners Bayern Munich are offering free testing for ticket-holders until Tuesday, ahead of Thursday’s match against Europa League champions Sevilla, and on their return.

Europe’s ruling football body UEFA is sticking to its plan to host the Super Cup final at the Puskas Arena and in front of fans.

Both clubs were allowed to sell 3,000 tickets to their fans as 30 per cent of the 67,000 stadium capacity are to be used.

Club chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said 2,100 Bayern Munich fans are expected to travel to Hungary.

A negative test not older than 48 hours is needed to gain entry into the country.

But there have been ticket cancellations after German health authorities declared Budapest a high-risk area.

The number of new coronavirus infections in seven days there has been stable at high value of 100.

Bayern Munich are traveling with a very small delegation, and Soeder is considering stricter quarantine rules in connection with the game.

Soeder said on Monday that everyone should think “carefully” before attending the game, saying: “I really have stomach ache when it comes to the Super Cup.

“It is a very high risk area and we must be very, very careful to not have an additional risk, a football version of Ischgl so to speak,” Soeder said.

He was comparing it to the ski resort in Austria where many holiday-makers were infected with the virus in the past winter.

For now anyone who has been abroad in a risk area for less than 48 hours does not have to be in a two-week quarantine at home.

But Soeder wants to propose to the cabinet on Tuesday that people attending sports and other cultural events abroad should respect the quarantine regulations.

This means football fans would have to go into self-isolation or take appropriate tests after their return, even if they stayed less than 48 hours abroad.

“My appeal, however, will be to reconsider whether [the game] is really necessary. The Super Cup is an exciting game, but not the most important one”, Soeder said.

Due the increasing number of coronavirus infections in Munich, no spectators were allowed at Bayern Munich’s Bundesliga opener against Schalke 04 at the Allianz Arena on Friday.

That was after originally 7,500 were permitted to attend.

Germany’s Health Minister Jens Spahn praised that decision and, with Cologne also having to play behind closed doors on the weekend, has not ruled out similar short-term steps in the future.

“The city of Munich has done the right thing,” Spahn said on Monday.

“As bitter as it may be for the fans and the football atmosphere, if the regional numbers are increasing, no fans should be allowed in the stadiums.”

Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Source: NAN
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Ekiti govt. tasks teachers on dedication to duties as schools resume



The Chairman of Ekiti State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) Prof. Femi Akinwumi has urged primary school teachers in the state to dedicate themselves to duties after seven months closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the advice was given as primary schools in Ekiti resume for academic activities on Monday.

Akinwumi called on them to adhere strictly to the guidelines issued by government to curb the spread of the virus in schools and other public places.

The chairman’s call was conveyed in a release in Ado-Ekiti, by Mr Tope Babalola, the SUBEB Director of Social Mobilization.

He urged teachers to work assiduously towards accomplishing the task of ensuring their safety and that of their pupils.

Akinwumi added that they must ensure proper preparation of the pupils for the forthcoming common entrance and placement examinations.

He said the two major tasks were achievable if teachers remained diligent, committed and focused in discharging their duties.

Akinwumi pledged the commitment of the Fayemi-led administration towards providing a conducive teaching and learning environment in schools as well as ensuring adequate training and re-training for teachers in public schools.

He said now that all public primary schools in the state had been provided with spray pumps and herbicides, there was no excuse for the school environment to be overgrown by weeds.

Akinwumi stated that the new method of rigorous and continuous schools inspection recommended by the Universal Basic Educational Commission (UBEC) Quality Assurance would come into full effect in the state in the new term.

NAN recalls that Gov. Kayode Fayemi in a statewide broadcast announced Sept. 21 as date for re-opening of primary and secondary schools in the state thus ending months of closure as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The governor had specifically said students in SSS II, JSS III and Primary 6 would resume on Sept. 21, while students in SSS I, JSS II and Primary 5 and Primary 4 would resume from Sept. 28.

Other grades of pupils and students were to resume later when more assurance of safety for their age bracket would have been established.

Edited By: Emmanuel Nwoye/Razak Owolabi
Source: NAN
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Science & Technology

Educationist cautious parents against children’s unguarded internet use



Mrs Gladys Adio, proprietor of Blooming Field Academy, Mararaba, Nasarawa state has urged parents to check unguarded use of internet and other devices by their children to prevent abuse.

Adio, who hold a Master Degree in early childhood education,  said this on Monday, during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria , in Abuja.

She said it was natural for children to get exposed to mobile internet devices due to the COVID-19 lockdown resulting in schools closure.

“There is so much time that has given children room to be connected almost all-day to internet connected devices.

“Parents have to put this in check, they should monitor how many hours these children spend on these devices so that they do not develop nomophobia., what I mean by nomophobia is simply the condition developed as a result of addiction to internet connected devices which result in physical and psychological problems,” she said.

She added that the situation could lead to kids developing virtual relationship with various apps leading to loss of interest in education, depression, loss of appetite, insomnia among others.

“Parents should ensure that their children engage in other activities such as reading books, playing family games together, outdoor activities like badminton, swimming etc.,’’ she said.

She said too much exposure of children to internet connected devices during COVID-19 lockdown had lots of negative effects and could pose educational risk when schools re-opened.

“Internet addiction could make children or even adults develop, loss of touch with reality,’’ she said.
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