World Sports News in Brief

Zidane ready to rotate Madrid squad to cope with fixture congestion

Saturday, 2020-10-17 10:05:25
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La Liga Santander - Real Madrid v Real Valladolid - Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, Madrid, Spain - September 30, 2020 Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane. (Photo: Reuters)
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Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane says his players are braced for rotations to meet the demands of a gruelling run of fixtures, beginning with Saturday’s La Liga match at home to Cadiz.

Madrid then play against Shakhtar Donetsk in a Champions League group stage opener on Wednesday before the ‘Clasico’ against Barcelona on Saturday, part of a run of seven games in 22 days.

* Crystal Palace have signed England international goalkeeper Jack Butland from Championship (second-tier) side Stoke City on a three-year deal, the Premier League club said on Friday (Oct 16).

* Bristol Bears won their first European trophy when they deservedly beat Toulon 32-19 in the Challenge Cup final in Aix-en-Provence on Friday having scored a try after 15 seconds but then having to battle from behind in the second half.

* Xander Schauffele sank seven birdies over his first nine holes to make the turn five strokes ahead of three players midway through his second round at the CJ Cup in Las Vegas on Friday.

* West Ham United have captured Algerian winger Said Benrahma on a season-long loan from Championship (second-tier) side Brentford with an agreement to make the transfer permanent, the Premier League club said on Friday.

* Slovakia fired national team coach Pavel Hapal on Friday, one month before facing Northern Ireland in a playoff for a place at Euro 2020. The 51-year-old, who missed the 3-2 home defeat by Israel on Wednesday after testing positive for COVID-19, was dismissed despite his side beating Ireland on penalties last week following a 0-0 draw in their playoff semi-final tie.

* Liverpool winger Harry Wilson joined second-tier Championship side Cardiff City on loan for the rest of the season on deadline day for domestic transfers, the Premier League club announced on Friday.

* Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman has said that he will continue to play Antoine Griezmann in the best possible role for the team rather than the one the forward prefers.

* Portugal's health authority said on Friday it was reconsidering whether to allow fans into upcoming sports events, including the Formula One Grand Prix for which thousands of tickets had been sold, as it is trying to contain a surge in COVID-19 infections.

* Former Argentina and Manchester City fullback Pablo Zabaleta announced his retirement from football on Friday, bringing an end to his 18-year career. After leaving West Ham United at the end of last season, the 35-year-old right back was linked with a return to Espanyol but has now decided his playing days are over.

* New signing Hakim Ziyech will make his Chelsea debut when they play Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday, manager Frank Lampard said as he looks to put the finishing touches to his new-look forward line. Ziyech, who arrived at Stamford Bridge from Ajax Amsterdam in the close season, has recovered from a knee injury that ruled him out of the start of the campaign.

* AC Milan's veteran striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is smiling, determined and ready to face Inter Milan in Saturday's derby after recovering from a COVID-19 infection, coach Stefano Pioli said on Friday.

* Hoffenheim on Friday said two players had tested positive for COVID-19 upon their return from international duty and a third player also went into quarantine ahead of Saturday's clash against Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga. The two unnamed players had just returned from international duty and had no contact with any Hoffenheim teammates or staff, the club said.

* Next year's Wimbledon Championships could be held without spectators amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the organisers of the grasscourt Grand Slam said on Friday. It was the only Grand Slam, however, to be cancelled in 2020 as the US Open in New York and the French Open in Paris were held in bio-secure environments after the Australian Open was held in normal circumstances at the beginning of the year.

* Manchester United skipper Harry Maguire is keen to play on and overcome his poor recent displays for club and country, but he could miss this weekend's Premier League clash at Newcastle United with a knock, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said on Friday.

* Qatar will host the single leg final of this year's Asian Champions League in Doha on Dec. 19 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Asian Football Confederation said on Friday.

* UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin says he is confident the postponed Euro 2020 tournament will go ahead next year despite a fresh wave of COVID-19 cases across Europe, though it could be staged in fewer than the planned 12 countries if necessary.

* Yokohama Stadium will hold three baseball games at around 80% capacity later this month as Japan looks to test its COVID-19 countermeasures at big events ahead of the rearranged Tokyo Olympics next year. Professional sports stadiums in Japan have been limited to 50% capacity as part of efforts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, with the vast majority of games going ahead without issue.