Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 1st 2016 Contents A60
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, March 1, 2016
MADRID---Barcelona will attempt to break
Real Madrid s unbeaten record against a
team it hasn t lost to in 14 years.Barcelona
faces struggling Rayo Vallecano on Thursday
as it bids to become the first Spanish team
to reach 35 consecutive games without a
loss in all competitions, surpassing the record
set by its fierce rival in 1988-89.
Rayo Vallecano has lost nine straight to
Barcelona, and its last victory over the Catalan
club came in 2002. It has been outscored 23-
3 in its last five matches against Barcelona.
Barcelona leads the Spanish league and is
comfortably on course for a second consecutive
title. Rayo is 16th in the 20-team league, only
two points above the relegation zone. Barcelona
has won 10 straight in the league. Rayo has
two wins in 15 games.
Barcelona earlier this year broke its own
club record of 29 games without a loss in all
competitions, a mark that had been set by
Pep Guardiola s squad in 2011. Luis Enrique s
team hasn t lost since a 2-1 result at Sevilla
in the league s seventh round.
Real Madrid s record of 34 unbeaten games
was set under coach Leo Beenhakker and with
players such as Emilio Butragueno and Hugo
Sanchez. The run ended in a 2-0 loss at Celta
Vigo in 1989.
Rayo, which has drawn its last three league
games 2-2, has only beaten Barcelona four
times, including twice at home in 2002. Ney-
mar scored four goals when the Catalan club
routed Rayo 5-2 at the Camp Nou earlier this
Here are other things to watch in the Span-
ish league this week:
Atletico Madrid hosts Real Sociedad on
Tuesday looking to keep pressure on Barcelona
atop the standings.
Atletico can provisionally cut Barcelona s
lead to five points with another win following
Saturday s impressive 1-0 victory over Real
Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu.
"We have to keep fighting game after game,"
Atletico midfielder Saul Niguez said. "Then
at the end we will see whether we still have
"We are not giving up just yet."
Atletico s defense hasn t conceded a goal
in four straight matches, including a scoreless
draw at PSV Eindoven in the Champions
The offense has scored only two goals in
the last four games, though.
"We have to keep working to improve in
that area," coach Diego Simeone said.
PLAYING FOR PRIDE?
Real Madrid has already given up on the
league title after losing at home to Atletico
Madrid and dropping 12 points behind leader
Barcelona with 12 games to play.
Players and coach Zinedine Zidane admit
that the focus now will be on the Champions
League, with the club on the verge of as spot
in the quarterfinals after a 2-0 win at Roma.
However, Madrid is in danger of losing third
place in the league, which would secure an
automatic spot in next year s European tour-
nament. It is only two points ahead of fourth-
place Villarreal going into its game at last-
place Levante on Wednesday.
Villarreal s impressive unbeaten run in the
Spanish league has reached 13 games and left
the team in position to fight for third place.
Finishing third would give Villarreal an
automatic spot in the Champions League,
avoiding an extra qualifying round.
"To finish third we would need to maintain
this extraordinary level and hope that Atletico
and Real Madrid play below expectations,"
Villarreal coach Marcelino Garcia said. "Each
step we take is to secure this fourth place,
which would be a great achievement."
Villarreal has a comfortable 11-point lead
over fifth-place Celta, the team it plays on
Wednesday in Vigo.
The title fight is virtually over but there is
still plenty of action near the bottom of the
Five teams are within four points of rel-
egation zone, and several matchups between
threatened clubs take place this week.
Second-to-last-place Granada hosts 18th-
place Sporting Gijon on Thursday; 15th-place
Getafe plays at 17th-place Las Palmas on
Tuesday; and 13th-place Real Betis faces 14th-
place Espanyol in Barcelona on Thursday.
The bottom three at the end of the season
FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi, left, celebrates
after scoring against Sevilla with his
teammate Neymar during a Spanish La Liga
soccer match at the Camp Nou stadium in
Barcelona, Spain, Sunday. AP PHOTO
to beat Madrid's run DHAKA---Shoaib Malik smashed 63 not
out as Pakistan survived an early stumble
in its run chase to beat United Arab Emi-
rates by seven wickets in the Asia Cup yes-
UAE made 129-6 in its 20 overs after opt-
ing to bat first before Pakistan reached the
winning total with 131-3 in 18.4 overs.
Malik was aided by Umar Akmal, who hit
an unbeaten 50. The duo combined for a
T20 record fourth-wicket partnership of 114
after Pakistan was reduced to 17-3. The pre-
vious record was held by Kevin Pietersen
and Eoin Morgan who shared an unbeaten
112 for England against Pakistan in 2010.
UAE medium-fast bowler Amjad Javed
claimed 3-36 after scoring a fluent 27 not
out to pace the UAE innings.
Swinging the ball at considerable pace
against the over-casual Pakistan top order,
Javed struck twice in his first over---dis-
missing Sharjeel Khan (4) and Khurram
Manzoor (0). He then raised the prospect
of an upset victory by removing Mohammad
Hafeez for 11 in his next over.
Malik, aided by Akmal, steered the side
through a torrid period, playing sensible
The outcome could have been different
had Usman Mushtaq not dropped Malik off
Mohammad Shahzad when he was on 41.
Malik then smacked a consecutive four and
six to reach his fifth T20 half-century.
Malik clobbered seven fours and three
sixes in his 63 runs off 49 balls, while Umar
Akmal had two fours and hit three sixes in
the 46 balls he faced during his 8th T20
Earlier, Shaiman Anwar steadied the UAE
innings after it was reduced to 12-3. All
three Pakistani pacers --- Mohammad Amir,
Mohammad Irfan and Mohammad Sami ---
shared the wickets in triggering UAE s col-
Anwar hit five fours and two sixes in his
Amir finished with 2-6 and Irfan 2-30.
LAUSANNE---With five months to
go until the Olympics in Rio de
Janeiro, the challenges keep piling
up.From the Zika outbreak to severe
water pollution, from behind-sched-
ule venues to delayed metro lines,
from sluggish ticket sales to cuts in
services, from Brazil s deep financial
crisis to impeachment proceedings
against its president, the buildup to
South America s first games faces a
long list of concerns.
Rio s final preparations and the
status of anti-doping efforts in Rus-
sia and Kenya will top the agenda
when the International Olympic
Committee executive board holds a
three-day meeting starting today in
The board is also expected to dis-
cuss progress in identifying refugee
athletes who will compete under the
IOC flag in Rio, the proposed for-
mation of an independent agency
to take over drug-testing for all
sports, and plans for the Court of
Arbitration for Sport to handle dop-
With next Saturday marking the
five-month countdown to the
August 5 opening ceremony at the
Maracana Stadium, Brazilian organ-
izers are tackling issues on several
fronts. Carlos Nuzman, head of the
Rio organizing committee, will give
his latest update to the IOC board
Rio is preparing for the games at
a time when Brazil is mired in its
worst recession since the 1930s,
President Dilma Rousseff is fighting
impeachment and the country is
dealing with a vast corruption scan-
dal centered on state-controlled oil-
and-gas giant Petrobras.
If that weren t enough, Brazil is
now at the epicenter of the spread
of Zika, the mosquito-borne virus
that has been linked to a rise in cases
of babies born with abnormally small
heads. While the link to microcephaly
has not been confirmed, the Zika
outbreak has raised concerns among
some athletes and fans ahead of the
The Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention advised Friday that
pregnant women consider not going
to Brazil and that their male sexual
partners use condoms after the trip
or abstain from sex during the preg-
nancy. Women who are trying to
become pregnant should talk to their
doctors before making the trip, the
Other issues facing Rio:
--- Delays to the main swimming
venue could force a test event
scheduled for April 15-20 to be
moved to the nearby diving arena.
The international swimming
federation was already unhappy
with reduction in seating at the
--- A track cycling test event from
April 29-May 1 could be scrapped
because of delays to the
velodrome, the International
Cycling Union has said.
--- Also at risk could be the
subway line extension connecting
the Copacabana and Ipanema
beach areas to the western suburb
of Barra da Tijuca, where the main
Olympic Park is located. The IOC
has expressed confidence the 10.3
billion Brazilian real ($2 billion)
project will be completed in time.
--- Rio's drug-testing laboratory
has until March 18 to meet World
Anti-Doping Agency's guidelines. If
it fails, the lab would be declared
non-compliant, meaning thousands
of doping samples during the
games would have to be sent out
of Brazil for testing, raising major
logistical and financial challenges.
--- Athletes remain concerned
about pollution in the waterways
that will host Olympic
competitions. On Saturday,
activists staged a symbolic burial
of the Guanabara Bay, the sewage-
filled waters where sailing will be
held. Last week, the local O Globo
daily ran a photo of what appeared
to be a severed arm floating in the
--- Ticket sales have been
disappointing, with only about half
of the 4.5 million domestic tickets
sold as of early this year. The
numbers are much worse for the
Paralympics, with only 10 percent
sold of 3 million tickets.
Rio's challenges, doping in Russia top IOC agenda
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