Four things to look out for: Have Real Madrid found a new star? Can Bayern Munich get a much-needed boost?

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Vinicius Junior has already got fans hoping he is Real's new Ronaldo. (AFP)
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Updated 08 February 2019

Four things to look out for: Have Real Madrid found a new star? Can Bayern Munich get a much-needed boost?

  • Vinicius has already made a name for himself at the Bernabeu.
  • Juventus looking for a boost after recent stumbles.

LONDON: With the second round of the Champions League just around the corner, now is the time for leading teams to rest key men or put in a five-star performance, or, in an ideal world, both. Here are four things to look out for
this weekend.

IS VINICIUS JUNIOR THE NEW RONALDO?

When Cristiano Ronaldo left Real Madrid last summer, Gareth Bale was supposed to be the one to step into the Portuguese’s big boots and drive the Bernabeu boys to more glory. But while the Welshman has failed to excite this season, Real fans have not been left without a hero to worship. Step forward an 18-year-old Brazilian. Vinicius Junior arrived in the Spanish capital in July 2018 and has been one of the few positives for Real in a season that has seen Julen Lopetegui sacked and Real trail bitter rivals Barcelona by eight points in La Liga. Vinicius has started in Real’s past five matches and looked every inch the main man. This season he has scored four goals and drawn comparisons with another young talent, Kylian Mbappe. He will surely start ahead of Bale for today’s clash against City rivals Atletico, and if he can put in another good 90 minutes and help Real leapfrog their neighbors into second place, the hype surrounding him will only increase.

WHICH CITY AND CHELSEA WILL TURN UP ON SUNDAY?

Much depends on this mouth-watering clash for both sides. City, having returned back to the top of the table midweek, will be keen to maintain their title challenge, knowing Liverpool could go three points clear against Bournemouth today. Chelsea are a hugely erratic side under Maurizio Sarri. They have been spectacularly bad in their past two away matches — at Arsenal and Bournemouth — but with Eden Hazard still pulling the strings and Gonzalo Higuain looking like he could be the man to solve the side’s striker problem, they can never be ruled out. The Blues beat City 2-0 in December. That may be only two months ago, but eight weeks is an age in football.

BAYERN NEED A BOOST

Usually a home match for Bayern in the Bundesliga is nothing more strenuous than a stroll in Munich’s famous Englische Garten park, such is the predictability with which they win the title. This season, thankfully for all those who do not support FC Hollywood, is a different matter. They face Schalke today on the back of a 3-1 defeat to Bayer Leverkusen. The only thing worse than the result was the performance — Bayern were torn apart on the break and looked anything but the dominant force of old. A result against Schalke is essential not only to keep pace with Borussia Dortmund, who are seven points clear of Bayern at the top of the table, but also as a morale boost ahead of a daunting away leg at Liverpool in the Champions League in a week’s time.

CAN JUVENTUS FIND TOP GEAR?

The Old Lady may be nine points clear at top of the Serie A table, but there is a sense that the Turin club are far from their best at just the point when they face the Champions League knockout stages. Juventus may have dropped only six points in 22 games, but they have conceded six goals in the past two matches. The first was a 3-0 defeat to Atalanta in the Coppa Italia and the second a 3-3 draw against Parma in the league — a match that saw them lose a two-goal lead. It is the first time during Massimiliano Allegri’s reign that Juventus have conceded six goals in the space of two matches. The club’s president, Andrea Agnelli, wants his side to win all titles they are contesting. On the evidence of 2019 so far, he is going to end up very disappointed.

 


Hatton leads interrupted Abu Dhabi second round

Updated 22 January 2021

Hatton leads interrupted Abu Dhabi second round

  • Tyrrell Hatton was on five under for the day with five holes remaining to put him atop the provisional leaderboard at 12 under
  • Overnight leader Rory McIlroy, one over for the day with four holes still to be completed, is five shots back and in a share of second

ABU DHABI: England’s Tyrrell Hatton led the Abu Dhabi Championship by five shots on Friday before fading light forced play to come to a premature halt with the second round due to be completed on Saturday.
Hatton was on five under for the day with five holes remaining to put him atop the provisional leaderboard at 12 under.
Romain Langasque was five shots adrift after 16 holes before conditions forced organizers to suspend the round.
Sharing provisional second with the Frenchman was overnight leader Rory McIlroy, who was one over for the day with four holes still to be completed. And two who managed to make it to the clubhouse, New Zealander Jason Scrivener and Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond.
Janewattananond and Scrivener were out early to finish their first rounds on Friday morning after Thursday’s fog delay of almost three hours forced them to play catch up.
Hatton is aiming for a fourth Rolex Series title in this event, the first of three tournaments being staged in the Gulf.
He began his second round one shot off his Ryder Cup teammate McIlroy after assembling a fine opening 65.
The 29-year-old followed up the two eagles he had made on day one with another from 22 feet on the second hole.
After dropping his first shot of the tournament at the next he hit back, producing a run of four birdies.
He was going in search of his tee shot into a bunker at the 14th hole when the siren sounded a premature halt to the round.
“I’m obviously in a great position at the moment,” he said.
“It was certainly tough out there, so I’m really happy to be five under.
“I held some nice putts and there were a couple of par putts toward the end of my round — nice to hold them and keep a bit of momentum going.”
On the prospect of a busy day at the office on Saturday, Hatton added: “It will be fine. I’ll just try and stay loose and see how we go.”
Langasque was almost celebrating the first hole in one of the new Race to Dubai season, his tee shot at the par three 15th whistling past the hole.
Defending champion Lee Westwood bogeyed the 13th and 14th before play was suspended to lie nine shots off the lead, with world number three Justin Thomas on the projected cut mark of one under.