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Bayern vs Real Madrid, Juventus vs Barcelona in Champions League quarters

Both Madrid and Bayern are also currently leading the standings in their respective domestic leagues.

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Nyon (Switzerland), March 17 : The Champions League draw pits Europe’s four heavyweight football clubs in the quarter-finals that also see underdogs vying for a place in the final four showdown. The draw, held here on Friday, left Bayern Munich facing Real Madrid and Juventus grappling with FC Barcelona — in two pairings that are set to absorb soccer fans and viewers across the globe.

The ceremony, presided over by UEFA’s director of competitions, Giorgio Marchetti, also portended a hard-fought battle between Atletico Madrid and Leicester City, while Borussia Dortmund will clash with AS Monaco, reports Efe.

This season’s competition, called “The Road to Cardiff,” will see the two surviving teams clash in the final on June 3 at the Welsh capital’s magnificent Millennium Stadium.

The first-leg matches are set to be played on April 11-12 at the home stadiums of Atletico, Dortmund, Bayern and Juventus, while the second leg is scheduled for April 18-19 in the cities of Leicester, Montecarlo, Madrid and Barcelona.

Bayern-Real Madrid is a classic of European competitions and promises be one of the most attractive clashes, as it pitches coach Carlo Ancelotti against his former team, now led by his ex-assistant Zinedine Zidane.

“The match against Real Madrid will be special for me. It is going to be exciting to play against them,” said Ancelotti, adding that his side wanted to win the Champions League this season.

Both clubs have won the title many times, with Madrid defending the championship this year (they hold the record of 11 cups won) and the Bavarians winning five out of 10 finals they have played.

“There are no easy games in the Champions League and we’re up against a tough and driven opponent. They are a strong team that are doing well. It will be a joy to watch for football fans around the world,” Zidane told his club’s website.

Both Madrid and Bayern are also currently leading the standings in their respective domestic leagues.

Barcelona against Juventus is a repeat of the 2014-15 Champions League final, which ended with a 1-3 victory for the former, adding to the Catalans’ record-shattering treble that season.

Record Italian champions Juventus, who hold the record of being the team who has finished as the runners-up the most times (six), will pursue their third title of the competition.

Meanwhile, Barcelona seek to secure their sixth win and become third in the ranking of total number of championships won after Milan (seven titles) and Real Madrid.

“It will be a passionate, difficult and beautiful tie. We will face a great team with many good players. We will have to play two great matches to get to the next round,” Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta said of Juventus.

“As well as having that solid (defensive) block typical of Italian teams, they have players who can make the difference, some of the best in every position who are at a very high level. It will be a difficult tie but with our capabilities we aim to push the tie in our favour.”

Juventus vice president and former star Pavel Nedved said: “It’s a fascinating tie. We know what a strong side Barcelona are, but we must be brave and take the game to them.

“We’ve come on a long way since the last time we crossed paths in the 2015 final and I believe that this is the right time to be facing them again. I believe that we’ve reached Barcelona’s level this season.”

Atletico Madrid will face the opponent everyone was hoping for, Leicester City, in what nevertheless looks to be a competitive match-up.

Diego Simeone’s team will attempt to finally nab its first title after having lost three finals in the past, two of them against its arch-rival from Madrid.

The reigning English champion will attempt to continue their adventure in the Champions League, a competition they enter for the first time, even after a relatively-poor performance this domestic season and the departure of the coach that led the team to a historical championship win, Italian Claudio Ranieri.

Since coach Craig Shakespeare replaced the Italian, the Foxes have won three consecutive matches.

The last clash will put Borussia Dortmund, who won the cup in 1997, against Monaco, the current Ligue 1 leader which deservingly eliminated Manchester City in the last round and now seeks to reach its second Champions League final.

Monaco lost by 0-3 the 2003-2004 edition to FC Porto, then helmed by Jose Mourinho, in the AufSchalke Arena in Gelsenkirchen (Germany).

Also on Friday, Europa League quarter-finalists confirmed their opponents ahead. Manchester United, aiming for the title to secure one next season’s CL qualification spot, will play against Belgian side Anderlecht, while Lyon are set to meet Beskitas of Turkey.

The other two encounters are Celta Vigo vs Genk, Ajax vs Schalke. The two legs of Europa League quarter-finals will be held on April 13 and 20.

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Argentina declares three-day national mourning for Maradona

The former star player and coach, most recently of the Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata football team, underwent surgery following a stroke in early November.

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Buenos Aires: The Argentina government has declared three days of national mourning for the death of football legend Diego Armando Maradona, the office of the presidency has said.

“The President of the Nation will decree three days of national mourning from the day (of his death),” according to the statement on Wednesday evening, reports Xinhua news agency.

Maradona died due to cardiorespiratory arrest at his home in the Tigre district on the northern outskirts of the capital Buenos Aires.

His body did not show “any sign of violence” and everything indicates that he died of “natural causes,” the prosecutor general of the Argentinian town of San Isidro, John Broyad, said.

According to Broyad, Maradona passed away “around 12:00” local time (1500 GMT) Wednesday at his home in the neighbourhood of San Andres, on the northern outskirts of the capital.

In statements to the press, Broyad said that “at 16:00 (local time) the work of the Forensics Police began” on the body of the former footballer.

“No signs of criminality were evident, no signs of violence,” said the prosecutor.

In addition, he reported that an autopsy would be carried out at the morgue of San Fernando Hospital, to “reliably determine the causes of death”.

The former star player and coach, most recently of the Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata football team, underwent surgery following a stroke in early November.

On October 30, Maradona had celebrated his 60th birthday.

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Diego Maradona (1960-2020): When death felt like a tackle from behind

In India, the 1986 World Cup was where all games were shown live for the first time. And since he made that World Cup his own, Maradona straddled a line between legend and God in a country he wouldn’t visit till 2008.

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Diego Maradona, the shanty-town boy who became a supernatural footballer before his life went into a downward spiral of addiction and myriad health issues for over 30 years, died of a heart attack on Wednesday. He turned 60 on October 30.

Maradona had looked death in the eye a number of times and when he underwent successful surgery for a subdural haematoma recently, his fans would have been forgiven for thinking the worst had passed. In 2004, doctors said his heart was functioning at 40% efficiency. Back then, Maradona pulled through and went on to coach Argentina in the 2010 World Cup where amid the constellation of the planet’s football star, he — in a sharp suit, a diamond stud glinting from an ear and a wristwatch on either hand — was the cynosure till Argentina were gobsmacked by Germany one day after Holland sent Brazil home.

Life, it seemed, was sucked out of that World Cup because the curtains had come down on Maradona’s performance. At press conferences — where once he climbed over the dais to bearhug a journalist who then became the story — and on the pitch where his last memorable act was possibly burying his face on son-in-law Sergio Aguero’s back as Germany scored another goal in that 4-0 rout.

The year 2004 wasn’t the only time he had flirted with death and had the world praying and believing in a miracle. One year later, he had a gastric bypass surgery to help deal with obesity. And as a boy he had survived falling into a pit where he could have drowned. On turning 45 at a party with 400 friends for company, Maradona had said: “I am 45. And I am alive,” wrote Marcela Mora y Araujo, who translated his autobiography “El Diego” in The Observer. “He’s a crazy little giant who dices with death and toboggans unto hell on a daily basis,” wrote Araujo in the introduction to the autobiography.

So it wasn’t surprising that the Maradona of 2006 had again made way to a bloated version of the genius who slalomed his way past England in the 1986 World Cup to score one of the most memorable goals of the competition ever. In Russia in 2018, the version of Maradona that filled fans with dread was seen in the World Cup when he had to be helped from his seat during the Argentina-Nigeria game. He blamed it on wine and said he was fine and we got on with our lives. So when news broke of his heart attack at home in Buenos Aires on Wednesday, it felt like a tackle from behind. How could death win this round?

In India, the 1986 World Cup was where all games were shown live for the first time. And since he made that World Cup his own, Maradona straddled a line between legend and God in a country he wouldn’t visit till 2008. In Egypt, bandits released a group of Argentine tourists on realizing they were from Maradona Country, writes Jimmy Burns, in “Hand of God” . But at least he had played a friendly there. He had not in Kolkata, where the Salt Lake stadium spilled over to see him move in a car. In Bangladesh he had not either, but it didn’t matter. Seeing God, the hero of the 1990 World Cup too and in the bit part he played in 1994 before failing a drug test, felt like an act of fulfillment itself.

Maradona’s rise coincided with football transforming into a billion dollar industry, in whose crosscurrents he found himself for most of his playing career. Except possibly the time at Napoli, where he handheld a team trod upon by the rest of the country to European glory. Two Serie A titles, two second-place finishes an Italian Cup and the UEFA Cup immortalized him in the city. It was while he was at Napoli that Maradona transformed from being an artful dodger to a messiah.

It was also where he came in contact with the Cammora, the city’s crime syndicate. It was where he became a cocaine addict. With Maradona, you see, the sublime and the ridiculous are never mutually exclusive, they exist cheek by jowl. Just as life and death did with him till the final blow on Wednesday.

“Maradona,” Burns begins in ‘Hand of God’, “is the story of a natural-born football talent who grew up to believe he was God and suffered as a result. It was on the pitch where he was the happiest, away from all his troubles, he had said. But while doing what he loved since his uncle gifted him a ball when he could barely walk, he also became a hero for the downtrodden, his ‘Hand of God’ epitomizing — justifying too perhaps — the chicanery that they needed to deal with life’s unfair hand. That magical left foot drew you to him, his outspokenness then endeared him to you.

“Poor old Diego. For so many years we have told him repeatedly, ‘You’re a God’, ‘You are a star’, ‘You are our salvation’ that we forgot to tell him the most important thing: ‘You are a man.’” The words of Jorge Valdano, Maradona’s Argentina teammate in the 1986 World Cup, sums up a life extraordinary.

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Our style of play is non-negotiable: Mumbai City boss Lobera

It also means that Jahouh will now miss Mumbai’s next match against the reigning ISL Shield winners FC Goa.

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Sergio Lobera

Panaji: After Sergio Lobera’s reign at Mumbai City got off on the wrong foot on Saturday with a 1-0 loss to NorthEast United, the Spaniard said that his attack oriented possession-based game was non-negotiable.

“Our style of play is non-negotiable. I used some players in different positions from what they are used, for example Adam in right wing but I believe he has the experience to adjust. We have to improve a lot of course,” Lobera told media after the match.

Mumbai went in with two strikers up front with Adam Le Fondre playing as a make shift right winger along with Bartholomew Ogbeche. The Englishman created some good chances in the first half but a red card to midfield mainstay Ahmed Jahouh and Rowllin Borges conceding a penalty in the second meant at Mumbai ended up losing the match 1-0.

It also means that Jahouh will now miss Mumbai’s next match against the reigning ISL Shield winners FC Goa.

“Today (the red card) was a big problem for us. It changed the game, we were playing with 10 men and missing a very important player. But for the next game, I have 28 players, I am very happy with my squad. Just one player is not an excuse for losing the next game,” said Lobera.

“We need to improve, we had a short pre-season and have a short time between games. But it is my job to improve the level of the team and I am very positive that it is possible for the next game.”

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