The second day match of the quarter finals at the Euro Championship 2021 will be played between the Czech Republic and Denmark at the Olympic Stadium in Baku—the capital and the largest city of Azerbaijan. While not many expected either of the two to reach this far in the tournament, no one can deny that they earned their place among the top 8 teams who have made their way to the quarterfinals. The two teams have locked horns 11 times in previous encounters where the Czech Republic have won 3 ties, Denmark have won twice. Coincidentally 6 fixtures between these two nations have ended in draws.
The Czech Republic have had the credit of finishing runner-up in 1996 and a semifinal finish at the 2004 edition of the Quadrennial Continental tournament. The Czechs have won both their games against Denmark at the Euros, scoring five goals and conceding none in the process. Slotted in Pool C they finished third in their pool behind England and Croatia but made it to the Round of 16 as one of the best 4 third placed teams. They started their campaign at the Euros this year on prolific note with a 3-0 win over Scotland and a 1-1 draw with Croatia followed by a loss to Pool toppers England by a solitary goal. The icing on the cake was their 2-0 win against the flying Dutchmen where their 4-2-3-1 formation and a disciplined performance booked their ticket to the quarterfinals.
Denmark have had their share of European Football glory when they were crowned champions in 1992 and reached the last four in 1984 along with a Quarterfinal finish in 2004. They even won the top prize at the FIFA Confederation Cup in 1995 and reached the Quarterfinals of the FIFA World cup in 1998. This year the Danes finished second in Pool B behind Belgium with 3 points from their 4 league matches. After losing Christian Ericson due to a mid-match collapse they had to deal with a 0-1 loss to Poland and 1-2 defeat at the hands of Belgium. The Danish Dynamites as they are fondly referred to finally lit up the tournament with a 4-1 victory over Russia at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen.
The Danes will have their strength in the goal scoring performances of Nice striker Kasper Dolberg, Atlanta full back Joakim Mæhle and Leipzig striker Yussuf Poulsen who have found the opponents net twice while, Barcelona winger Martin Braithwaite, Sampadoria’s Mikkel Damsgaard, Chelsea Central Defender Andreas Christensen have scored once for the Danes in this edition of the Euros. One cannot deny the role of Kasper Schmeichel who plays as a goalkeeper for Premier League club Leicester City and is the son of the legendary Danish and Manchester United custodian Peter Schmeichel.Harry Kane leads this extremely talented squad that is brimming with potential and exuberance. The only challenge is that with all their talent, they were the lowest scoring team to qualify for the round of 16 – with 2 goals. The consolation that many will look to is that their defense has not been breached till date and that seems to be one of the biggest problems that has been solved. England registered a 1-0 win over Croatia in their opening game which was followed by a goalless draw with their arch rivals Scotland and a 1-0 win over the Czechs. In the round of 16 their biggest reason to cheer was when they dominated a lackluster Germany with a 2-0 win.
Manchester City striker and winger Raheem Sterling has scored thrice for England while captain Harry Kane scored against Germany. Hope springs eternal in the English hearts as their talented young players have created many chances. Substitutes Jack Grealish and Jordan Henderson have done wonders coming off the bench while Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden have proved their ability to shackle any opposition with their pace and skill. A matter for worry for Southgate will be that four English players carry the danger of being unavailable for next game as Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice, Maguire and Foden are all one booking away from a suspension.
Ukraine on the other hand are a very young nation and played their very first international game in April 1992. Ukraine were slotted in Group C and finished third with 3 points. In their opening tie, Ukraine impressed with 2-3 defeat to the Netherlands while narrowly winning against tournament debutants North Macedonia 2-1. Ukraine lost to Austria by a solitary goal and clawed their way into Round of 16 as fourth best team among the 3rd placed teams in group stages.
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Rafael Nadal survives first round scare
Competing on grass for the first time since 2019, Rafael Nadal stepped up to reach the Wimbledon second round for the 14th time on Tuesday. The Spaniard showcased his trademark fighting spirit to overcome a tricky test from Francisco Cerundolo, advancing 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 after three hours and 36 minutes. In front of a packed crowd on Centre Court, Nadal survived a mid-match comeback from the Argentine, who was making his debut at the Championships. After winning the first two sets, the 36-year-old suddenly found himself a break down in the fourth set.
However, with the pressure on, Nadal raised his intensity and increased his depth on return to regain control and improve to 31-3 on the season.
The second seed is seeking a record-extending 23rd Grand Slam title, having won the first two majors of the year for the first time in his career. He will face Ricardas Berankis in the second round after the Lithuanian defeated Sam Querrey 6-4, 7-5, 6-3.
In an eye-catching Wimbledon debut, Maxime Cressy’s rapid rise continued. Relying on the serve-and-volley game that dominated the All England Lawn Tennis Club for much of its history, the World No. 45 earned his first Top 10 win by defeating Felix Auger-Aliassime with a near-perfect serving performance.
In a 6-7(5), 6-4, 7-6(9), 7-6(5) victory, Cressy charged the net 134 times, winning 71 per cent (95/134) of those points. In a match of fine margins, both players dominated on serve. The American saved the lone break point he faced — at 5-5 in the opening set — while sixth seed Auger-Aliassime saved three of four.
Now 7-4 on the grass at tour-level, Cressy advances to face qualifier Jack Sock in the second round after his countryman earned a 7-6(6), 6-4, 6-4 win against Bernabe Zapata Miralles earlier in the day. Elsewhere, Stefanos Tsitsipas struggled to find his groove for much of his match against Swiss qualifier Alexander Ritschard at Wimbledon, but the fourth seed’s resilience was enough to complete a 7-6(1), 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 first-round victory at the grass-court major.
SAHIL TAVORA INKS NEW DEAL, EXTENDS STAY WITH HYDERABAD FC
After his heroics in the 2021-22 Indian Super League final, midfielder Sahil Tavora has signed a new deal with Hyderabad FC to extend his stay at the club till the end of the 2023-24 season, the club announced on Tuesday.
Speaking after signing his extension, Tavora explained what made this decision pretty easy. “The progress the team as a whole and I as a player have made over the last two years under Coach Manolo Marquez was a major factor in me deciding to extend my contract here,” said the Goa-born midfielder.
Tavora, who famously scored the 88th minute equalizer in the ISL final back in March, was a key player for Hyderabad throughout the campaign.
He made 19 appearances for the club and registered a goal and an assist from midfield, often coming off the bench to change the tone of the game.
And it is no surprise that Manolo Marquez was all smiles after Tavora put pen to paper. “Tavora is a crucial player in our squad. But more importantly, he is a player who every coach wants to train,” said the Spaniard.
“He is technically good, is very strong in duels, can shoot from distance and is also a leader in the squad, on and off the pitch,” he added.
With experience of 45 ISL games (31 for HFC) under his belt and now a Champions’ medal on his neck, Tavora, who has been a part of Hyderabad FC since its inception says, “The family like atmosphere not just between the players but also with the technical and non-technical staff makes it a pleasure to work day in day out.”
One of the few players in the current squad to have played in front of a packed Gachibowli Stadium, Tavora also had a message for the fans.
“I’ve been lucky enough to already play in front of our fans in Gachibowli in the first season. We missed them tremendously and really appreciated their support on social media. The atmosphere they create in the stadium is incredible, and I can’t wait to be back and play in front of them again,” he added.
SINDHU DEFEATS CHOCHUWONG, SAINA NEHWAL CRASHES OUT
Star India shuttler P.V. Sindhu produced a stunning win over Thailand’s world no. 10 Pornpawee Chochuwong to advance into the second round of the Malaysia Open tournament on Wednesday in Kuala Lumpur.
Playing on Court 2, Sindhu came through a tough test against Thailand’s Pornpawee Chochuwong in straight games. Seventh-seeded Sindhu dominated Chochuwong in both games 21-13, 21-17. The Indian got off to a great start in the first game and clinched the game with her swift moves. The second game of the match saw Chochuwong fighting back but could not hold Sindhu’s attacks longer and crashed out of the tournament.
India’s double pair B. Sumeeth Reddy and Ashwini Ponnappa, couldn’t get past the world no. 21 pairing of Robin Tabeling and Selena Piek of the Netherlands. The Indian duo went down by 15-21, 21-19 17-21 after a 52-minute battle.
Meanwhile, it was a bad day for the 2012 London Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal, who suffered a defeat against American Iris Wang 11-21, 17-21 in 37 minutes.
Earlier, India’s H.S. Prannoy started off his Malaysia Open 2022 campaign with a win over the Malaysian Liew Daren in the first round. Playing in court 1, the Indian won his match by margin of 21-14, 17-21, 21-18. Prannoy got off a good start, winning the first game. His Malaysian counterpart bounced back to win the second game, but Prannoy won the closely contested last game by 21-18 to seal the match.
I AM VERY EXCITED ABOUT THE MATCH AGAINST RACHATA KHAOPHIMAI: NEERAJ GOYAT
Ahead of The Fighter Thailand World Boxing Series on July 2, 2022, The Daily Guardian Review spoke to renowned Indian boxer Neeraj Goyat who holds many records. He became the first Indian boxer to have made it in top 20 to WBC World Rankings, won WBC Asia “Honorary Boxer of the year” in 2017 and has won many matches for India.
Q: So, Neeraj you started boxing in 2006 right, can you tell us how this journey started and what kind of challenges were before you?
A: Yes, the journey of boxing started in 2006 and before that I was very good in basketball and athletic running, I was very good in 800m, 1000m and 1500 meters race. And after that in 2006 I got selected in Army Sports Institute, so boxing was everything over there. After starting boxing, I was the weakest boxer there, weak in the sense that the boxer with the least level of performance was me. So, at that time I decided that I have to be the best within a couple of years. 2006-07 was the struggling period in which I used to do three times training in a day. The coaches used to train twice in the morning and in the evening. During the day I used to go for training before lunch and used to do training on Sundays and went to the boxing hall at night time also.
Q: If we talk about your achievements, you won the title of “India’s most promising boxer” in 2008, you are the first Indian boxer to have made it to WBC World Rankings (Ranked 20), Also you won award of WBC Asia “Honorary Boxer of the year” in 2017 and that’s great; so what would you like to say about these big achievements of your boxing career?
A: If I talk about achievements, then I have achieved a lot in Amateur boxing and professional boxing but there is still a lot left. I got the award of Most Promising Boxer, was a national champion in Amateur boxing, played in competition like Olympic qualifier. After that, I was also the Asian Champion of WBC in professional boxing and I also got the award for that and in view of the same thing, today I have been made the brand ambassador of WBC India. So, these are good achievements but many other things have to be achieved. My goal is to bring India to the world level in professional boxing like people have started knowing Philippines because of Manny Pacquiao. Similarly, India should also get such recognition because of me, and I work hard for that.
Q: Neeraj, who has been your role model; who has inspired you the most?
A: The one who inspires me in boxing and has been my role model is Vasiliy Lomachenko, who is from Ukraine and Olympic champion in 2008 and 2012. And after coming to professional boxing, he also became the World Champion. His style of play is completely different and it is a lot of fun to watch his game. So, I always try to play like him.
Q: When did you play the toughest match of your entire boxing career?
A: Till date the worst match in my entire career or can say that the toughest match that I have played was in Mexico in 2018. The day I reached there, I had a fight in the evening and the weight of that boxer was more than me and it was a challenge for me. There was a six round fight and if I tell you, it was a brutal match. I was winning one sided in that fight but Mexicans are tough, very tough to fight. Most tough professional boxers in the whole world are from Mexico. So, my fight was such that in 5th, 6th round I was winning that fight but whatever punch he was hitting me was just to knockout, and I prayed to God while fighting. Ultimately, I lost that fight by split decision, but if that fight was somewhere else instead of Mexico, I would have won that fight. But it was really tough, his punches were hard. So, the toughest fight of my entire career till date has been the same in Mexico.
Q: Neeraj, I would like to ask that how the 2019 car accident affected your game and what kind of difficulties did you face after that accident?
A: Before my accident in 2019, that year started very well, my fight with Aamir Khan was announced, after that my press tour was going on, all those things were going smoothly but around 26-27 days before the fight I had an accident. Although, nothing much happened in the accident and I had a hairline fracture in my hand due to which it took me 2 months to recover. That was a very bad time for me and after that Corona started in 2020. That fight was to be held again but it could not. So that was a very tough time for me, but all these things and incidents take place in people’s lives, even much bigger than this. And I have fought again even after that accident and have won. So now everything is fine.
Q: How excited are you for the Thailand World Boxing series and what would you like to say about your preparation for the match?
A: I am very excited about this match which is going to be in Bangkok against the Thailand’s boxer Rachata Khaophimai. He has good records in professional boxing so many people are supposed to come for this match and it will be such a great match for me. Currently I am in London and my preparation is going on very well.
HOODA’S MAIDEN TON POWERS INDIA TO 227/7 AGAINST IRELAND IN 2ND T20
DUBLIN: Maiden century by Deepak Hooda (104) and his 176-run stand with Sanju Samson (77) guided India to a massive 227/7 against Ireland in the second and final T20I of the series at The Village in Dublin on Tuesday.
Samson and Hooda smashed the Irish bowlers all over the park. Though a mini-collapse took place for India after the duo were dismissed, the Ireland bowlers did not have much to be positive about at the end of the innings. Batting first, India were not off a good start, losing Ishan Kishan for just 3 after he was dismissed by medium-pacer Mark Adair with help from wicketkeeper-batter Lorcan Tucker.
This brought Deepak Hooda to the crease, who joined the opener Sanju Samson.
The duo went for some big hits and maintained some good running between the wickets. At the end of the powerplay in six overs, India was at 54/1 with Hooda (26*) and Samson (24*).
The duo soon reached their 50-run partnership. The duo switched their gears after this, punishing Irish bowlers more. Hooda brought up his maiden fifty in just 27 balls.
At the end of 10 overs, India stood at 97/1 with Hooda (50*) and Samson (42*). The ninth and tenth over bowled by Gareth Delany and Andy McBrine went for 15 and 16 runs respectively.
The duo brought their 100-run stand in just 55 balls. Samson also brought up his first T20I fifty in 31 balls.
Between 10-15 overs, the duo brutalised the Irish attack, getting 80 runs within these five overs. Hooda in general was more dominant as a batter.
DJOKOVIC FORCED TO FOUR SETS IN OPENER, NORRIE ALSO MAKES WINNING START
In the first match of the Wimbledon on Centre Court, defending champion Novak Djokovic recorded his 80th Wimbledon match victory with a win over South Korea’s Soonwoon Kwon on Monday.
The Serbian becomes the first player, man or woman, to record 80 singles victories across each of all four Grand Slam tournaments. The world no. 3 maintained a solid level in his 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory against the World No. 81. Yet Kwon’s aggressive tactics meant Djokovic was never completely comfortable in his first tour-level match since his Roland Garros quarter-final on May 31.
The win extends Djokovic’s unbeaten run at Wimbledon to 22 matches. The Serbian is hunting a fourth consecutive crown at the third major of the year in London, and his second tour-level title of 2022 after he triumphed at the Italian Open in May.
The South Korean was a break up in each of the first two sets and pumped up the Centre Court crowd after he levelled proceedings at a set apiece, but Djokovic’s trademark consistency proved enough to complete a two-hour, 27-minute victory.
The top seed will face Thanasi Kokkinakis or Kamil Majchrzak in the second round at SW19, where he now holds an 80-10 record. The World No. 3 is chasing his seventh title at Wimbledon, a tally that would draw him level with legendary American Pete Sampras and move him within one of record-holder Roger Federer’s eight crowns.
Elsewhere, Cameron Norrie, the British No.9 seed, made a flying start in his 6-0, 7-6(3), 6-3 victory over Pablo Andujar on No.2 Court.
The 26-year-old left-hander romped through the first set for the loss of just 11 points, in 23 one-sided minutes.The veteran Spaniard, who is 10 years Norrie’s senior, forced a tie-break in the second set but was always chasing the match in the third.
Tantalisingly, the play was suspended with the score at deuce in what proved to be the final game. Norrie, who achieved his best result at Wimbledon last year when he reached the third round, will face another Spaniard, Jaume Munar, in the second round.
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