Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 3rd 2017 Contents A46 sports
guardian.co.tt Saturday, June 3, 2017
Real Madrid go for record 12th UCL title
CARDIFF, Wales---Completing a season when
age has slowly caught up with him, Cristiano
Ronaldo will be trying to break new ground
on familiar territory.
When the Real Madrid forward takes to the Mil-
lennium Stadium pitch to face Juventus today, it will
be the fifth Champions League final in nine years
for the three-time winner.
This time there's a chance to achieve something
yet to be achieved in 25 seasons of the competition.
If Madrid lifts the trophy for the record-extend-
ing 12th time, a team will finally have defended a
Champions League title.
One thing is already certain to change today:
The continent's showpiece will be contested un-
der a closed roof, with Cardiff authorities guarding
against the possibility of a drone attack.
It won't be a new experience for Ronaldo, though.
He was a regular visitor to the Welsh national sta-
dium during his Manchester United career while it
staged English football's finals, although the only
time he played under cover he lost. The 2005 FA
Cup final was also the only one of Ronaldo's four
visits with United that he didn't score and emerge
It was a rare setback in a career that continues to
deliver, even as the 32-year-old forward has had to
increasingly accept being on the sidelines to stay
fresh for the big occasions. It's hard to argue because
Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane's squad rotation sys-
tem has netted Madrid the Spanish league title and
yet another Champions League final.
"Obviously what I want the most is to play more
freely up front," Ronaldo said, "and that is the op-
portunity Zinedine Zidane has been giving me as
a No. 9. I play freely. I play on the wing, down the
middle. I play whenever I think I should."
Ronaldo, however, is unlikely to find much free-
dom against Juventus, a team with one of the best
defenses in soccer. In 12 European games this sea-
son, Juventus has only conceded three goals and is
looking to become the first undefeated champion
since Manchester United in 2008.
At the heart of that Juventus defense is a guy
looking to become the oldest Champions League
winner: 39-year-old goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
A European title is the one of the few major prizes
to elude the Italian in an illustrious career that has
seen him lose two Champions League finals.
"I'm a young boy even though I'm 39 years old,"
Buffon said through a translator in Cardiff. "Many
people think about my very long career ... I got more
than I gave, but that would be the perfect finale and
people like fairytales."
There haven't been many in Europe for some time
at Juventus. The last of its two titles was won in
1996, while Madrid has won five since then.
Madrid will be facing a sturdy defense supported
by a formidable attacking unit led by Paulo Dybala.
The Argentine, who has drawn inevitable compar-
isons with Lionel Messi, has scored four goals in 10
European appearances this season.
"In training one day, I saw something in Dybala
that I had seen before in Messi," Juventus right back
Dani Alves, a former Barcelona player, wrote in a
column Friday on The Players' Tribune website .
"It was not just the gift of pure talent. I have seen
that many times in my life. It was the gift of pure
talent combined with the will to conquer the world."
Dybala has thrived since Juventus coach Mas-
similiano Allegri changed the team's formation to
accommodate its attacking talents. Dybala joined
Juan Cuadrado and Mario Mandzukic in a trio sitting
just behind Gonzalo Higuain, while Miralem Pjanic
has been behind them alongside Sami Khedira.
"The 4-2-3-1 formation came to me the moment
I realized our team wouldn't progress any further
if we kept the old tactics and formation," Allegri
said. "I assessed our players' strengths and I tried
to put them on the pitch in their favorite positions
and I also tried to encourage our attacking skills."
A sixth consecutive Serie A title has already been
won. Now it's about preventing a repeat of the 2015
final loss to Barcelona with a much-changed squad.
"Perhaps we not strongly motivated," Allegri
said. "We didn't feel confident enough because we
had a number of years when we struggled in the
Champions League and we didn't expect to win
... but now it's completely different. Juventus has
improved a lot."
On the other sideline will be a man who has
achieved more in 18 months than some coaches
do in an entire career.
Zidane, the once hot-headed playmaker whose
last act of an illustrious on-field career was slam-
ming his head into the chest of Italy defender Marco
Materazzi during the 2006 World Cup final, has
quickly established himself as a diligent and intelli-
gent coach. The France great inherited a disgruntled
team from Rafa Benitez, but he united the dressing
room and led the team to last year's Champions
"I already admired him as a player," Ronaldo said,
"and now I admire him even more as a coach because
he's a very positive person---a hard worker and very
respectful towards the players." AP
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, left, and Danilo
battle for the ball during a training session at the
Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, yesterday. Real
Madrid will play Juventus in the Champions League
final in Cardiff today. AP PHOTO
Vincent twins out to win
it all at Juvenile Champs
Tyrique and Tenique Vincent drew a lot of
attention after prevailing at the National Gas
Company (NGC) Combined Championships and
this weekend at the NGC Juvenile Champion-
ships, the siblings are expected to shine again.
This weekend sees the beginning of a month long
celebration of athletics in T&T as the National As-
sociation of Athletics Administrations (NAAATT)
kicks off its Championship month.
Over the next three weekends, the Haseley Craw-
ford Stadium in Port-of-Spain will also play host to
the NGC Junior Championships, NLCB NACAC Age
Group Championships and culminates with the NGC
Sagicor Open Championships on the last weekend,
arguably the highlight of the local athletic circuit.
Starting and continuing tomorrow, it will be all
about the next generation as T&T's future stars grasp
the spotlight. The Juvenile competition cater for the
age groups Under-14 to U-10. Two shining lights in
the U-10 category to look out for are the twins Tenique
and Tyrique Vincent.
Tyrique and Tenique dominated the U-10 age group
in the recent Combined Championships, coming out
on top over a variety of disciplines testing their run-
ning, throwing and jumping ability. They will be more
sternly tested as they go up against peers who would,
in most cases, be just participating in the one event.
However, their father David Vincent has faith that
would not deter them as he describes their focus and
their stamina as possibly the major standout attrib-
utes for the pair.
Hailing from Chaguanas, the pair only started com-
peting on the athletic circuit this year but have done
extremely well since joining the ZC Athletics Club.
Their father has a background in bodybuilding as
well as the military. He identified from an early age
that they easily grasped the fundamental movement
skills of running, jumping and throwing and saw the
potential in them as they grew.
Tenique is also a gymnast while Tyrique has the
ability to do several sports due to his athletic prowess.
His father sees him as turning into a fine quarter-mil-
er eventually, but should they both triumph across
several disciplines again this weekend, specialising
will still be some way off.
Look out for Tenique and Tyrique this weekend
as well as other promising athletes on show as we
catch a glimpse of T&T's next generation of Olym-
pians. Admission is $25 and commence at 10 am on
Field events lead off the action today with girls U-12
competing in long jump, girls U-14 in high jump, boys
U-14 javelin and girls U-14 shot put, each starting
at 10 am.
Tenique Vincent, left, and her twin brother, Tyrique,
both of ZC Athletics, strike a pose after winning
respective events at the NGC Combined
Vasbert Drakes believes
West Indies Women
possess the skill-set
and the knowledge re-
quired to excel in the
conditions during the
England, known for
its damp, bleak weather
even during summer, has
become notorious for the
swinging ball -- a proven
bane for many an experi-
enced batsman in the past.
Drakes said he hoped a
combination of informa-
tion and technique could
nullify this threat in the
June 24 to July 23 cam-
"I would have played
certainly in England and
we have coaches that have
played in England and I
think the knowledge that
we have should make a dif-
ference in terms of being
able to pass on informa-
tion," the well-travelled
former West Indies seamer
"The wickets in England
this time of year when I did
my research, they seem
to be a lot more batting
friendly. People talk about
the ball swinging in Eng-
land -- the ball swings all
around the world so if you
have decent fundamentals
it certainly would give you
a chance to achieve the de-
West Indies arrived
here Wednesday for a
two-week camp at the
Ageas Bowl, the home of
Hampshire County Club,
as they seek to acclimatise
to the English conditions.
And with many of the
players touring England
for the first time, captain
Stafanie Taylor stressed
the importance of appli-
cation, especially among
the batting group.
"It's going to test your
mental [strength]. I think
with the 50-over game
you have more balls," the
"You have to try to leave
alone some, you've got to
watch it straight onto the
bat and it's all about ap-
West Indies enter the
tournament as one of the
favourites, especially after
capturing the Twenty20
World Cup last year in
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