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Condensed Champions League to start under shadow of COVID-19 | Football News

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BERN, A condensed version of the Champions League group stage finally gets under way on Tuesday, with COVID-19-related disruptions an ever-present threat hanging over the competition.
The 32-team contest will start one month later than usual, a knock-on effect of the pandemic interrupting last season for three months, although the group stage will finish as usual in early December with six matchdays squeezed into a 50-day period.
It kicks off with a heavyweight clash between Paris St Germain and Manchester United on Tuesday in Group H, bringing back memories of the English side’s comeback two seasons ago when they won on away goals after losing 2-0 at home.
Barcelona host Hungarians Ferencvaros, back in the group stage after a 25-year absence, in another Tuesday match, while Wednesday’s games include titleholders Bayern Munich v Atletico Madrid and Ajax v Liverpool.
European soccer body UEFA settled on the new timeframe in early June when the pandemic appeared to be under control in Europe. But with the recent surge in infection numbers around the continent, it has begun to look increasingly ambitious.
Cristiano Ronaldo is among the players who have tested positive recently, and he will miss Juventus’ opening match away to Dynamo Kiev on Tuesday.
The Portuguese could also be forced to sit out the following week’s match at home to Barcelona, when he is due to face his old rival Lionel Messi for the first time in over two years.
UEFA has drawn up a detailed health protocol which, in principle, allows teams to play even if members of their squad test positive.
As long as a team has a minimum of 13 available players including one goalkeeper, matches can go ahead. Clubs will also be allowed to field players who were not initially registered for the competition to make up the numbers.
However, UEFA recognises that national authorities could intervene and order an entire team into quarantine, as happened last week in a European under-21 qualifier between Iceland and Italy.
Two Italian players tested positive before travelling and even though the rest of the squad returned negative results they were all sent into quarantine after arriving in Iceland and the match was postponed.
UEFA’s rules say that teams may have to forfeit matches in the Champions League, particularly if they fail to inform it of restrictions imposed by local authorities on either themselves or the visiting team.
However, UEFA says it may also reschedule matches in some cases and has set a deadline of Jan. 28 for them to be played, giving clubs a potential seven-week extension to complete their fixtures.
The kind of problems the pandemic can cause in longer competitions became clear in last week’s international break when Ukraine had to bring 45-year-old assistant coach Oleksandr Shovkovskyi out of retirement to serve as a backup for goalkeeper Georgiy Bushchan after three other keepers tested positive.
Elsewhere, Ireland pair Aaron Connolly and Adam Idah were ruled out of their Euro 2020 playoff tie away to Slovakia after being deemed close contacts of a staff member who tested positive. Ireland, who were eliminated, said later tests showed the staffer’s result was a false positive and the pair could have played after all.
Meanwhile, the Czech Republic had to split their squad into two because of inconclusive tests following a friendly in Cyprus, with half remaining on the Mediterranean island until new tests could be conducted.


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IPL 2020: Here are each IPL team’s chances of making it to the last four | Cricket News

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With Chennai Super Kings clearly out of the race, what exactly are the chances of the remaining seven teams to make it to the playoffs? TOI’s Shankar Raghuraman does the number crunching to arrive at these 12 points.
1. Delhi can now only get a maximum of 18 points and Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab can manage 16 at best
2. The maximum any team can reach is 20 points
3. Now only two teams can reach the figure of 20 points – Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore
4. If one of these teams gets to 20 points, the other can’t
5. Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi are the only teams that can be clear No.1 at the end of the league stage
6. Kolkata and Kings XI can at best tie for top spot on points. The best Hyderabad or Rajasthan can hope for is tied 3rd spot
7. With 9 games left, there are 512 possible combinations of match outcomes (not counting washouts). Before the last weekend’s (Oct 24) matches started there were 32,764 possible combinations of outcomes.
8. A tie for at least one of the positions from 1 to 4 is a near certainty with only 5 of the 512 possible outcomes (less than 1%) yielding clear numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4 teams
9. Mumbai and Bangalore have a better than even chance of either being clear No.1 or tying for the top spot (272 out of 512 possible outcomes)
10. Despite their crushing loss on Tuesday, Delhi still have a one in three chance of being clear No.1 or tying for first place
11. Chennai remains the only team that is out of contention for the playoffs
12. After their big win on Tuesday, Hyderabad have a one in five chance of finishing tied for third or fourth spot. But for that they need to win their remaining two games and hope other results go their way

The IPL 2020 season has been a very competitive one. With a team like Kings XI Punjab rising from the ashes after languishing at the bottom of the points table, thanks to five wins on the trot, things have become more interesting. The three break away teams this season have been Mumbai Indians, Delhi Capitals and Royal Challengers Bangalore. Mumbai and Bangalore though both lost over the last weekend and Delhi were thrashed by Hyderabad on Tuesday. With seven teams in the running for the four play-offs berths and three teams (Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore) more than likely to seal a spot, the fight for the remaining fourth place (for which KXIP and KKR are the prime contenders as of now) could make the remaining league matches of IPL 2020 very interesting. Expect the teams to throw everything, including the kitchen sink to try and grab a play-off berth in the matches coming up.


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IN PICS: How SRH kept their playoff hopes alive with a big win over DC

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India’s tour of Australia: IPL 2020: Wriddhiman Saha celebrates his Test recall with a match-winning knock for SRH | Cricket News

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DUBAI: After registering a comprehensive 88-run victory over Delhi Capitals, Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha said that he is happy to return to India’s Test squad for the tour of Australia.
SCORECARD | POINTS TABLE | FIXTURES
“I’m happy I got selected for the Tests in Australia,” said Saha after leading SRH to a much-needed win.
Delhi failed to chase down the massive target of 220 as they were bundled out for 131, stumbling to a heavy defeat. For SRH, Rashid Khan scalped three wickets while Sandeep Sharma and T Natarajan took two wickets each.

With this win, Sunrisers Hyderabad have now moved to sixth place in the points table with 10 points from 12 matches. On the other hand, Delhi slipped to the third spot with 14 points from 12 matches.
“I got the opportunity for the second time this year and took my chances in the powerplay. Initially, the ball was holding a bit but I took my chances and went after it after the pitch eased out…We are looking forward to winning the last two matches…that’s our target now,” Saha told host broadcaster Star Sports at the post-match presentation.
Saha top-scored with 87 runs for Hyderabad, enabling his team to put up the big total of 219/2 on the board. The wicketkeeper-batsman was earlier named in India’s 18-member squad for the upcoming Test series against Australia.

Saha and SRH skipper David Warner (66) led Sunrisers’ charge to set Delhi a big target.
Manish Pandey and Kane Williamson remained unbeaten on 44 and 11 respectively, while Anrich Nortje returned with figures of 1-37 in his four overs for Delhi.
Hyderabad will next lock horns with Royal Challengers Bangalore on Saturday at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.



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