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Klopp less excited about second final appearance

Having previously lost a Champions League final, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is getting less excited about his second appearance.
Jurgen Klopp says he was more excited ahead of his first appearance in the Champions League final than he is about Liverpool's clash with Real Madrid on Saturday.
Klopp was in charge of Borussia Dortmund when they lost 2-1 to Bayern Munich at Wembley in 2013 and concedes he did not expect to be back in the final.
"I'm pretty sure I was much more excited at that time," he said. "A lot of good things have happened to me. I never expected these good things would happen to me. It's maybe a once-in-a-lifetime chance - that's how it felt [with Dortmund].
"We played a fantastic game against a strong side and after the game I knew I wanted this opportunity again.
"It took a while but I'm here because my boys gave me that chance again.
"I'm really happy being here with this group of players. They fought so hard for this and they deserve to be here."
And Klopp is in no doubt as to what has driven his side to their unexpected success in Europe this season, as they go in search of a sixth European crown against a Madrid side chasing their third in a row.
"Spirit, 100 per cent. Spirit which we created during the season," he commented. "Nine months ago we were already a good football team but the boys are ready for the big things.
"We maybe dreamt of being in a final but it's only possible because of the performances.
"You saw our spirit in the last few games and that's why we're here for sure.
"We work on the things we are good at but the main message [ahead of the final] was all the things we've worked on since we've been together were made for being used in games like the one tomorrow. And it's all about football.
"Most [of the players] will be a little nervous tomorrow. But do what you are best at: play football, fight with your mates, go for shots, headers, bicycle kicks if you want. It's a football game. A big one, but it’s only a football game."

Fernando Torres to move to Chinese Super League

Illustrious career
Torres is now 34 years old and has enjoyed an illustrious career around Europe. The Spaniard started his footballing career at Atletico Madrid where he caught the eye of current Newcastle and ex-Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez.
Torres signed to Liverpool in 2007 where he played 142 games, scoring 81 and assisting 20. This excellent goalscoring record earned Torres a big money move to fellow Premier League side Chelsea.
Torres’s goalscoring at Chelsea was not as prolific as it had been at Madrid and Liverpool. However, he still managed 45 goals and 35 assists at Chelsea, his most notable goal for the Blues probably being that goal vs Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final which sent Chelsea to the final and also sent Garry Neville into a frenzy.
The well renowned forward would then return to boyhood club Atletico Madrid where he was once again an important member of the squad before being released at the end of this season.
Throughout his career, Torres has also won numerous trophies. Including, the Europa League twice, most recently this year with Atletico Madrid, the Champions League once, the FA Cup once and with Spain Torres won the Euros twice and the World Cup once.
Links to Newcastle United
Despite the links to China though, Torres has also been rumoured to have been linked with Newcastle United where his former boss Rafa Benitez is currently manager.
However, the move to Newcastle does seem less likely as Benitez stated in an interview with MARCA,
"I think it will be harder for him to come, not because we don’t want to.
"I don’t know what’s going on in his head, but maybe he is thinking about something else.
"It would be appealing, but I don’t think it would be easy.
So, while Benitez would welcome Torres at Newcastle, a move to China, at the moment looks the more likely option for the former Atletico Madrid man.

Southampton boss Mark Hughes signs new three-year deal

Southampton manager Mark Hughes has signed a new three-year contract after keeping them in the Premier League last season, the south-coast club said on Friday. The 54-year-old Welshman arrived at his former team in March on a short-term deal until the end of the campaign and was handed the task of rescuing them from the threat of relegation. He was an unexpected choice in many people’s eyes, having left his previous club Stoke City in a similar predicament, yet Saints picked up two wins and a draw from their final four matches to secure top-flight safety with a 17th place finish.
“Mark and his team had a massive impact from the first day on the players, staff and fans alike, and was able to pull together everyone involved with the club to deliver the results needed,” Southampton said in a statement on their website “It is important now, under Mark’s leadership, for everyone to move into the new season with a renewed focus and energy alongside the continued and valuable support of our fans.”
Things had initially looked bleak for Hughes after he began his spell in charge with three straight league defeats, but he managed to steady the ship in the final weeks of the season. A 2-1 victory over south-coast rivals Bournemouth was followed by a 1-1 draw at Everton before a nervy 1-0 win away to Swansea City effectively sealed their Premier League status, while condemning the Welsh club to the second tier.
Southampton said assistant first team manager Mark Bowen and first team Coach Eddie Niedzwiecki had also signed new deals. “Mark, Eddie and I are thrilled to have signed long-term contracts with the club. It was the only option we considered, having spent the last eight weeks with the club,” Hughes said.
“Now it is vital that we take the unbelievable support we received from the fans during the last few games into next season,” he added. “The staff and the players will work hard every day to deliver the success this club deserves, and with everyone pulling together we will achieve our goals.”

French Open: Petra Kvitova not in favour of Serena Williams seeding

Even though long-time rival Maria Sharapova said she was in favour of a special seeding for Serena Williams at the French Open, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova said that the tournament was right to not award Serena the same.
Playing Grand Slam for the first time since winning Australian Open in 2017, former World No. 1 Serena, who took a break to give birth to her daughter, dropped her ranking to 453.
When Kvitova, who was off the tour for six months last year after suffering knife wounds fighting off a burglar at her home, was asked if French Open should have given Serena a special seeding, she replied, “I don’t really think so. I know from my perspective that when I came back I didn’t really feel like a player who is top 20.”
“So, yeah, I was seeded, but because of the points which I earned in the end of the year before. So it was a little bit different situation, but I don’t really think that should be the rule for this.”
Serena has received a lot of support from Donald Trump’s daught Ivanka, who termed French Open’s decision to not award Serena seeding as ‘ridiculous.’ “This is ridiculous,” tweeted Trump. “@SerenaWilliams is a formidable athlete (best ever!) and loving new mother. No person should ever be penalized professionally for having a child! The #WTA should change this rule immediately. #FrenchOpen.”
Sharapova also came out in support of her long-time rival and said, “It’s a tough call, I would like to see that change. I think that would be nice.”

Big futures for ‘the terrier’ Andrew Brayshaw and ‘the silk’ Adam Cerra

The terrier and the silk. That’s how Fremantle veteran David Mundy recently described Andrew Brayshaw and Adam Cerra — the Victorian midfielders the Dockers hope will be key players in a long-awaited premiership.
The 184cm, hard-running, big-tackling Brayshaw was taken with pick No.2 in last year’s national draft, while the 186cm Cerra, who shows a touch of class and is already considered one of Fremantle’s most reliable players with the ball in hand in front of goal, was snared at selection No.5. Brayshaw has been in the team since round one after impressing from his opening time trials, while Cerra came in in round two, despite an interrupted summer.
“Andy is a bit more of just the terrier, and effort will get the job done and just run away and tackle my guts out, where Cez is a bit more silk-smooth and executes really well,” Mundy said.
If there isn’t already enough pressure on Brayshaw and Cerra, they might not want to know that the last time Fremantle brought in more than one player inside the top five of the national draft was in 1999 when they welcomed their greatest player, Matthew Pavlich, and champion midfielder Paul Hasleby.
Hasleby, like Brayshaw, arrived as the second player taken in his draft, while Pavlich was the fourth selection. Leigh Brown also came to the Dockers that year at pick five but left after the 2002 season.
Hasleby won the Rising Star award after playing 21 games in 2000, while Pavlich played 18 games that year and would go on to be a six-time All Australian.
Hasleby said he and Pavlich became close, even going into business together at the Seaview Hotel.
Brayshaw and Cerra have impressed Hasleby so far.
“I think they’ve both got the capacity to be 200-game players for the footy club,” he said.
“They each show moments where you can see brilliance in what they do. It’s just around that consistency now for them as their bodies develop and they get more chemistry with the people around them to sustain that for four quarters. There are glimpses of really good players that I see in both of them.”

Second-half blitz sees Roosters overcome Titans

The Titans couldn't go on with a strong first half at Central Coast Stadium as the Roosters produced 28 unanswered second-half points to hand Gold Coast a 34-14 loss.
The Titans had the measure of an underwhelming Tricolours in the opening 40, going to the sheds with an eight-point advantage, but collapsed in the face of an energetic Roosters almost from the moment the second half got underway.
In a match being billed as an Origin audition for plenty of players, there were mixed fortunes for the various candidates as some players looked to have pushed themselves into or out of contention.
Roosters centre Latrell Mitchell produced some worrying defensive lapses and a non-existent game in attack for just over 50 minutes before exploding through a 12-man Titans line in the second half and then getting himself sin-binned for goal-line infringements.
Winger Blake Ferguson produced some characteristically strong carries but had a couple of clangers as well. Luke Keary had little impact on the game but both Boyd Cordner and James Tedesco were strong and involved, with the latter bagging a first-half try before splitting the Titans for a long-range try assists in the second.
For the Titans, Jarrod Wallace did his Maroons hopes no harm (especially given a likely one-game suspension to Cowboy Matt Scott) with a big effort up front while lock Jai Arrow produced another monster effort however was troubled by a shoulder injury in the second half having already been troubled by rib and back injuries in recent weeks.
The Titans opened the contest with plenty of energy and profited from some Roosters ill-discipline, with plenty of early penalties against the Tricolours.
It first handed the Titans a 2-0 lead in the fourth minute before Michael Gordon benefited from Blake Ferguson fluffing an Ash Taylor grubber kick in the Roosters' in-goal in the ninth minute.
A James Tedesco try off a neat Jake Friend grubber levelled the scores after 15 minutes but the Titans continued to enjoy the better of the field position.
They were unlucky to be denied a try to Anthony Don created by an exquisite Taylor pass in the 28th minute due to a marginal obstruction call but the same combination couldn't be denied three minutes later when Taylor again threaded the needle and Don touched down inside the right corner post.
Another penalty goal stretched the Titans' half-time lead to 14-6.
The Roosters needed a change of attitude in the second half and produced it with both teams looking nothing like their first-half selves.
The Roosters blew the game open with 22 unanswered points in 13 minutes, which included Ash Taylor being sin-binned on the back of repeated infringements.
Isaac Liu scored next to the posts off a beautiful Victor Radley pass, Mitchell ran through Ash Taylor's under-manned right edge and Cooper Cronk scored from one of his own grubber kicks that was fumbled by Bryce Cartwright in a period that also included two penalty goals.
The Titans righted the ship once Taylor returned but couldn't cash in on some attacking pressure (which included Mitchell being binned following repeated infringements) and instead it was the Roosters who had the final say when Tedesco burst into space and beat half the Titans team in setting up Mitch Aubusson four minutes from full-time to seal the 34-14 result.

Real Madrid transfer news: Gareth Bale to Chelsea move 'definitely' possible this summer

That’s the verdict of former Premier League star Clinton Morrison, who says the Welshman could replace Eden Hazard at Stamford Bridge.
Bale has made 188 appearances and won 10 trophies since joining Real Madrid from Tottenham in a then-world-record £85m deal in 2013.
And he can help Zinedine Zidane’s side secure their third Champions League title on the spin when they face Liverpool in Kiev on Saturday.
Bale has been tipped to leave Real in the summer though as Florentino Perez shakes up their squad following a disappointing domestic campaign.
Morrison, who played for Crystal Palace and Birmingham in the top flight, believes Bale could “definitely” rock up in west London.
"Oh yeah," Morrison told Express Sport, when asked if Bale would get into Chelsea’s team. “Bale’s a talent.
"He’s done alright at Real Madrid. He hasn’t played as much as he wants but he scored a good goal the other day against Barcelona.
"He probably wants to play football. I think when you go to a big club like Madrid he did start playing but for whatever reason these young boys have come through, [Lucas] Vazquez and [Marco] Asensio and he ain’t playing at the moment.
"But he’s still got a lot of talent and it might be the time now for him to come back and play week-in, week-out in the Premier League. I don’t know if Tottenham fans will be happy if he goes to Chelsea and not back to Tottenham but it is a move that could happen most definitely.
"Chelsea will need someone like that because if they lose someone like [Eden] Hazard, they will need to bring in a replacement like a Gareth Bale."
Gareth Bale has also been linked with a return to Tottenham, as well as with a potential switch to Manchester United.
Real, meanwhile, are thought to be lining up potential replacements for him on the right side of their attack.
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah is believed to be in their sights, as is Juventus’ Paulo Dybala