Having reinforced their squad smartly over the summer, Barcelona will prove a formidable adversary to Real Madrid, Atletico and any other challengers to their La Liga crown.While securing their 25th La Liga title and 30th Copa del Rey were huge positives from a 2017-2018 campaign that saw them go 36 games unbeaten in the league, there was still a sense of lingering disappointment about Ernesto Valverde’s first term at the helm.Indeed, this stemmed from their shattering UEFA Champions League loss against AS Roma in the quarter-finals, where they remarkably blew a 4-1 first leg lead to bow out in a forgettable away leg in the Italian capital. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Man Utd ready to spend big on Sancho and Haaland in January Who is Marcus Thuram? Lilian’s son who is top of the Bundesliga with Borussia Monchengladbach Brazil, beware! Messi and Argentina out for revenge after Copa controversy Best player in MLS? Zlatan wasn’t even the best player in LA! So with this in mind, achieving big things in Europe will be a key target of the Catalan giants, as they’ll look to well and truly put last season’s frustrating exit behind them.Now in his second season, expectations are high that Valverde will deliver on all fronts, especially considering the quality he has at his disposal. Anything less than retaining their league title and going deep into the Champions League will be seen as a failure.Goalkeepers Marc-Andre ter Stegen will be Barca’s undisputed first-choice goalkeeper, the German star now an integral component of the team. Through his astute passing out from the back, his rapid reactions, great awareness, sweeping and competent shot-stopping, he’s the perfect No.1 for Barcelona’s style.Who will serve as his number two is an entirely different and uncertain matter, though, with the highly-rated Jasper Cillessen considering his future despite Valverde’s desire for him to stay. The Dutch international is desperate to receive regular playing time, but this is highly unlikely at Barca where until now he’s had to settle for Copa del Rey action.DefendersBoasting the second best defence in La Liga last season, behind only the typically mean Atletico Madrid, Barca will back themselves to be just as measly this time around. The smart acquisition of former Sevilla centre-back, Clement Lenglet, adds vital quality, depth and ball-playing polish, and he will complement starting duo, Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti, wonderfully.Then in the full-back slots, Jordi Alba will continue as the main man at left-back. His backup from last term, Lucas Digne, has left the club to join Everton.Meanwhile, newly-named joint vice-captain Sergi Roberto and Nelson Semedo will do battle for the starting right-back spot.MidfieldersAlready spoilt for choice in this area of the pitch prior to club legend Andres Iniesta and Paulinho leaving, the captures of Arthur and Arturo Vidal this summer ensures Valverde will have vast options to choose from in midfield. The former has been described by some as a potential heir to another club legend, Xavi, for the way that he plays the game, while the Chilean has been one of the best midfielders of his generation but has suffered from injury issues in recent years.Midfield director Sergio Busquets is set to resume his holding role for another season, but it will be fascinating to see who gets the nod for the more advanced midfield roles ahead of him.With Ivan Rakitic probably locked in for one of these posts, the battle will be on between Philippe Coutinho, Rafinha, Denis Suarez, plus the aforementioned Arthur and Vidal. Valverde is expected to mostly go with a 4-3-3 formation this time around, so competition will certainly be fierce to nail down a starting berth in the middle of the park.AttackersLed by the irrepressible Lionel Messi, who continues to prove age is no barrier for him, much will yet again be expected of Barcelona’s fearsome frontline. Although bettering their league-leading 99 La Liga goals from last term will be tough, there’s no reason to suggest they won’t go close.After a challenging, injury-ravaged first year at the Camp Nou, Ousmane Dembele will be raring to go and full of confidence after his World Cup triumph with France. He will also be buoyed by a brilliant goal in the Spanish Super Cup win over Sevilla.Alongside Messi and Dembele, Luis Suarez will lead the line. In light of some noticeable decline over the last year or so, it will be very interesting to see how the dogged Uruguayan fares as he looks to recapture his best form.If any of the three men above are unavailable for whatever reason, the likes of Rafinha, Denis Suarez and exciting new signing Malcom will give them plenty of impetus in wide areas. Coutinho could also be an option in a more advanced role if required.Meanwhile, Paco Alcacer or the talented Munir El Haddadi can fill in for Suarez if they don’t depart before the transfer window closes.ManagerFollowing a positive first campaign in Catalunya, where he laid some strong foundations in terms of his demands and philosophy, Valverde will attempt to kick things up a gear in the 2018-2019 season.Even though he has been criticised for his conservative football and reluctance to rotate, he enjoys the backing of president Josep Maria Bartomeu and has been able to bolster his squad with some fine purchases.As winners of seven of the last 10 La Liga championships, Barcelona’s chief focus will be on retaining their title while enjoying a far better run in Europe. The pressure will be on, but the well-organised and tactically proficient Spaniard has proven his quality so far during his time his charge, so it’s understandable why he is seen as the right man to take the club forward.How Barcelona could line upBlessed with so many options all over the pitch, particularly in midfield, Valverde has no shortage of talent at his disposal. With the World Cup delaying the return of many of his stars in pre-season, having such enviable depth will be a real luxury as everyone gets back up to speed.Depending on the opposition and the importance of the match, there’s a plethora of combinations the manager can deploy. Last season, Valverde was sometime criticised for using a 4-4-2 system with little width but he is expected to be more offensive this term and utilise the 4-3-3 below much more. Valverde could also decide to use a 4-2-3-1 with Busquets and Rakitic in a double pivot, Messi as the No.10 and Coutinho and Dembele as the wingers supplying Suarez.An especially fascinating battle looks set to unfold for the right-back berth, with hardly anything separating Sergi Roberto and Semedo. Equally captivating will be the battle for midfield places, as all of the options will fancy their chances of earning a regular starting spot. Arthur’s strong preseason, in particular, will give Valverde a nice selection headache.
The Australian cricket board confirmed on Friday there would be no eleventh hour breakthrough in a bitter pay dispute with the players’ union, leaving more than 200 leading cricketers uncontracted and the fate of future tournaments in limbo.Cricket Australia said the union had refused to negotiate, leaving no chance for a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) to be struck before the midnight deadline on Friday.”Cricket Australia (CA) today acknowledged that a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will not be agreed before 1 July and repeated its call for the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) to come to the negotiating table and show genuine flexibility in the best interests of the players and the game,” the board said in a statement.”Over the past months, CA has repeatedly sought to engage with the ACA in a genuine dialogue and to commence a proper negotiation process.”It is regrettable that these efforts have been rebuffed, resulting in the current situation which CA recognises is not in the interests of either the players or the game.”The ACA has blamed CA’s insistence on altering a 20-year-old revenue-share model for the breakdown in talks and has refused to deal with the board’s lead negotiator.The ACA called on CA CEO James Sutherland to come to the negotiating table this week but the long-serving executive has kept silent since he emailed players in May, informing them they would be “unemployed” if they failed to agree to a new MoU by the June 30 deadline.CA improved its offer to players last week, promising more cricketers a share in profits, but the union, which is refusing to budge from its demand for a share of overall revenues, quickly rejected it.advertisementCA has said the revenue-share model is unfit for modern times and is starving funding of grass-roots cricket, while players say it has underpinned the game’s growth and prosperity over the past 20 years.About 230 players would be uncontracted by Saturday but around 70 would still be tethered to state contracts, local media have reported, and would be expected to train and play.The lockout could potentially scupper next month’s Australia A tour to South Africa, which includes a number of prominent Test players, including batsmen Usman Khawaja and Glenn Maxwell.An ACA spokesman said on Friday that players would meet on Sunday to decide the road ahead, including whether they might boycott the tour of South Africa which starts with a four-day match on July 12.Further tournaments, including a two-test tour of Bangladesh, and a one-day international series in India, also remain in doubt.
Seoul: An internal balcony at a nightclub in South Korea collapsed on Saturday, killing two people and injuring 16 including American and other athletes at the world swimming championships, officials said. Hundreds were at the nightclub in the southern South Korean city of Gwangju when the collapse occurred next to the athletes’ village. Two South Korean men died while 16 others were injured, police said. According to a police account, the injured include 10 foreigners, eight of them athletes who were in Gwangju to participate in the swimming championships. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from US Among the athletes were three Americans, two New Zealanders, one Dutch, one Italian and one Brazilian, a police officer said, requesting anonymity ahead of an official announcement. He said most had minor injuries but an American female water polo player required surgery. The other two Americans a man and a woman are also water polo players, the police officer said. Police said they detained one of the nightclub’s co-owners and summoned three other club officials to investigate whether the collapsed balcony was an unauthorized structure. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential polls “This is an awful tragedy,” said Christopher Ramsey, CEO of USA Water Polo. “Players from our men’s and women’s teams were celebrating the women’s world championship victory when the collapse occurred at a public club. Our hearts go out to the victims of the crash and their families.” Among the Americans, Kaleigh Gilchrist suffered a deep left leg laceration and underwent surgery at a hospital in Gwangju, said Greg Mescall, director of communications for USA Water Polo. He said that Paige Hauschild suffered lacerations on the right arm and Johnny Hooper on the left hand that required stitches. Ben Hallock suffered minor scrapes on the legs, he said. The anti-disaster agency said the injured also included two Uzbekistan exchange students. None of the injured is in life-threatening condition. Members of the New Zealand men’s and women’s water polo teams were also at the nightclub. The men’s captain, Matt Small, described a chaotic scene and said that his team tried to help the injured. “(It was) business as usual and then it literally collapsed beneath our feet,” Small said, speaking to New Zealand Radio Sport by phone. “None of the boys are hurt or injured though so that’s good. But everyone’s a bit shaken up at the moment.” “We did what we could but we couldn’t really do too much. Some of them were pretty dire cases,” he said. “We were more so just concerned about everyone else, we were trying to do a number count and make sure all the boys were there.” The local organizing committee for the world swimming championships said that eight of the athletes attending the event were injured, most slightly. A committee statement said seven of them had already returned to the athletes’ village after minor treatments at hospitals. It said one player had a leg lacerated and was to receive stitches at a hospital. The organizing committee said it won’t disclose other personal information about the athletes at the request of their national teams.
Manchester United will challenge Tottenham Hotspur this afternoon and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer plans to use the match to learn more about his players.Reds Devils will be clashing with third-placed Spurs in the Premier League at Wembley Stadium in today and United coach adds that his team are capable of beating anyone.“Of course it will be tough but, then again, we can make it tough for them,” said Ole, when speaking to MUTV during their warm-weather training camp in Dubai this week.Solskjaer praises Harry Maguire after Man United’s 1-0 win Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Ole Gunnar Solskjaer singled out Harry Maguire for praise after helping Manchester United keep a clean sheet in their 1-0 win over Leicester City.“They [Spurs] have got strengths and weaknesses, as have we, so it’s one of those games that we’ll need, and the cup game against Arsenal, before we go into the Champions League against PSG because that’s the ultimate test.”So, for me, the Spurs game isn’t the be all and end all. Of course it’s important, but it’s preparation for the rest of the season and the way going forward. We’ve won five games and you learn so much by winning but, when you get these tougher games, then you learn more about the personalities and how they deal with these situations.“
March 8, 2019 KUSI Newsroom SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Congressman Duncan D. Hunter wrote an op-ed about the Green New Deal. He published it on his website, but you can read it below:“America was founded on liberty and independence – not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”That was President Trump’s declaration during his recent State of the Union address. The need for such an obvious statement would have been unfathomable a few years ago. Aside from Bernie Sanders, there were not many Members of Congress who would openly describe themselves or their policies as socialist in nature. Times have changed. The socialist label has become a badge of honor for today’s liberals and, apparently, a prerequisite for any Democrat who is considering a run for the White House. In this environment, President Trump’s declaration was necessary and, I believe, will go down as a defining moment of his presidency.Case in point, the Green New Deal (GND), a proposal to radically transform our economy and impose expensive government mandates on the American people. This policy has inexplicably become the rallying cry of liberal Democrats. From hard-charging newly elected representatives to presidential hopefuls racing to raise money, liberal Democrats have gone all in on new legislative efforts that seek to eliminate all greenhouse gas emissions from every sector of the economy within 10 years. Under the GND plan, 100% of all power demands will be provided through clean and renewable energy sources.While this sounds worthwhile, in reality, what would such an effort actually entail? All industries would be under the knife. From methane-producing cows, to cars and planes. From traditional fossil fuels to clean-burning liquid natural gas. Even nuclear power plants that produce tremendous amounts of reliable, CO2 free energy would not escape this overzealous mandate.Every building will have to be upgraded or replaced (yes, replaced!) to achieve full compliance. Our transportation system would be totally overhauled by huge increases in electric vehicle production and air travel will be supplanted by a tremendous expansion of high-speed rail (insert California high-speed rail joke here.)How do supporters of the GND propose to eliminate all these power sources and convince the private sector to support such an effort? Incentives? No, the GND approach is the same as any socialist endeavor—the government becomes the prime economic driver, creating massive bureaucratic regulation and taking draconian punitive actions against American citizens and private businesses that do not achieve the coordinated response and complete transition from fossil fuels.What is the cost of the GND? Beginning estimates start at $6.6 trillion per year, but realistic expectations have the cost much higher. This coming from the same group who claimed a $5 billion investment into our border security was too much. Who is going to pay that cost? Working Americans, through higher taxes and expensive government mandates. Our choices – gone. Our desires – irrelevant. Our quality of life – inconsequential. The only thing required to put this plan into place, our pocketbooks and our silence. Well, they will get neither.Before considering such a massive overhaul of our economy, we need to take a step back into reality. Right now, the U.S. is a world leader in reducing carbon dioxide emissions. To imply different is a disservice to the accomplishments we have achieved. We should always strive to be better stewards of our environment, to breathe clean air, to drink clean water, to preserve America’s natural resources for generations to come. The socialist left would have us believe that this objective is completely inconsistent with energy production, but they are wrong, these are not mutually exclusive goals. The federal government continues to make investments in green technology research and private companies, fueled by a free market and competition, are making great strides in manufacturing cleaner cars, safer buildings, and more efficient power plants.GND advocates will argue they want a “democratic and participatory process,” that their proposal is only a House Resolution, without the force of law, an expression of Congress with which to start a dialogue and conversation. Any such conversation, however, must start with truth. The truth is America did not get where it is through top down government mandates that kill the innovative spark that fuels small business and defines the very nature of our energetic and expanding economy. America got to where it is through the ingenuity and tenacity of the American people, empowered by the freedoms enshrined in our constitution. The stark reality is that the massive economic overhaul that the GND requires would be a march towards socialism.The Green New Deal is the old, tired Socialist Steal, a plan that has the government picking winners and losers. A plan that deserves to be rejected. A more productive conversation and dialogue is finding ways to encourage the private sector and free market in innovative energy science to do what it does best, invest in America.Congressman Duncan Hunter represents the 50th Congressional District of California. Posted: March 8, 2019 Congressman Hunter: The Green New Deal is the Old Socialist Steal By Congressman Duncan D. Hunter KUSI Newsroom, Categories: Local San Diego News, Politics FacebookTwitter
ADC AUTHOR Deployment of troops to the southern border is expected to cost at least $534 million by the end of September, the Pentagon said, according to The Hill. A DOD letter to Congress references $350 million for the National Guard mission and $184 million for the active-duty mission.DOD also announced Tuesday it has awarded nearly $1 billion in contracts to build the administration’s border wall.Assistant Defense Secretary Robert McMahon told lawmakers this week that any military construction projects to be defunded or delayed due to Pentagon funds redirected for the administration’s border barrier have not been chosen.“It’s a level of detail we are not down to yet, because today there is no requirement,” McMahon said, according to Military.com.The border deployment is also affecting readiness, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday. He said deployments have helped some service members such as pilots, military police and engineers, but others could see skills degrade.“One particular unit is doing a mission today that’s not part of their core competency,” he said. “For 60 days, they can handle that, but it will affect their readiness.”Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Tuesday he expects that the Pentagon’s border role will expand as the Department of Homeland Security requests more assistance, Military Times reported.Army Corps of Engineers photo by Brooks Hubbard IV