Real rotation vital but there's no A or B team, says Zidane

By Richard Martin
| BARCELONA

BARCELONA Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said on Friday he had no A or B side and needed to call on every member of his squad to cope with a gruelling fixture list, as a debate about his team selections was played out in the Spanish media.

The question of whether Zidane's periphery players perform better than his first-choice starting 11 resurfaced after a Los Blancos side with nine changes blitzed Deportivo La Coruna 6-2 on Wednesday.

I know more about running a club than Sunderland boo-boys - Moyes

Sunderland manager David Moyes has said he "knows how to run a club" and defended his credentials after being jeered by some supporters during Wednesday's 1-0 defeat at fellow Premier League relegation candidates Middlesbrough.

Basement-side Sunderland, who have been battling the drop for the last four seasons, are 12 points adrift of the safety zone with five games to play as they prepare to host 13th-placed Bournemouth on Saturday.

Conte out to contain threat of ex-Chelsea striker Lukaku

LONDON Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has confirmed he was paying close attention to Everton striker Romelu Lukaku this week but with a view to stopping him scoring against the Blues on Sunday rather than signing him in the summer.

Premier League leaders Chelsea have been repeatedly linked with the Belgian they sold to Everton for 28 million pounds as a possible replacement for Diego Costa, who has admirers in China.

Murray shakes off Ramos-Vinolas to reach Barcelona semis

By Richard Martin
| BARCELONA

BARCELONA World number one Andy Murray was forced to dig deep to overcame Albert Ramos-Vinolas 2-6 6-4 7-6(4) and reach the Barcelona Open semi-finals on Friday, avenging his defeat by the Spaniard in the Monte Carlo Masters last week.

Briton Murray was overpowered by Ramos-Vinolas in the first set and had to saved three breaks points in the ninth game of the second before tying the match. He then lost his first service game in the third set.

Joshua heavier than rival Klitschko

LONDON IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua weighed in more than four kgs heavier than challenger Wladamir Klitschko ahead of their title fight in London.

The undefeated British fighter weighed at just over 113 kgs and the Ukrainian just under 109 kgs at Wembley Arena on Friday.

Joshua, 27, is defending his title and bidding to add the vacant WBA and IBO crowns in front of a crowd of 90,000 at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

Klitschko, 41, signalled a V for victory sign as the pair faced off before nearly 5,000 chanting supporters.

Smooth Sharapova cruises into Stuttgart semis

STUTTGART, Germany Former world number one Maria Sharapova cruised into the Stuttgart Grand Prix semi-finals on Friday, extending her winning comeback from a doping suspension with a smooth 6-3 6-4 victory over Estonian qualifier Anett Kontaveit.

Wildcard entrant Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam winner, returned to action only this week following her 15-month drugs ban, but has looked like she never really went away in winning her three matches so far without dropping a set.

I'll be disappointed if Spurs miss out on title - Pochettino

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino said he would be disappointed if his team failed to win the Premier League title this season, despite the four-point gap separating them from leaders Chelsea.

Spurs, who last won the league in 1961, stuttered in last season's run-in to concede the title to surprise package Leicester City.

Pochettino believes his squad have since improved their ability to focus as they prepare to host Arsenal in Sunday's North London derby.

Luis Enrique backs Neymar to keep his cool in Espanyol test

By Richard Martin
| BARCELONA

BARCELONA Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said on Friday he trusted Neymar to resist being provoked by any aggressive treatment meted out by Espanyol in Saturday's derby, as the Brazilian forward returns to action after a three-game ban.

Neymar was suspended for applauding an assistant referee after being sent off in the 2-0 defeat to Malaga on April 9.

Recent Barcelona derbies have been characterised by meaty challenges from Espanyol on their rivals, with Neymar being their main target.

Stretchered-off Sakho should be fit in weeks, says Klopp

LONDON Mamadou Sakho did not as originally feared sustain ligament damage on Wednesday and should be fit within weeks, Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said, rekindling transfer speculation over a player valued at 30 million pounds.

There were concerns about the French centre-back, who is on loan at Crystal Palace, after he injured his knee and left the pitch on a stretcher during the South London club's 1-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur.

Everton can't rely on just Lukaku for goals, says Koeman

Everton need to boost their goalscoring options before next season whether the Premier League's top marksman Romelu Lukaku stays at the club or not, manager Ronald Koeman said.

British media reported last week that Everton were asking a world record fee of 100 million pounds for Lukaku, who has scored 24 league goals this season, 20 more than any other player in the squad.

While Koeman is hoping the 23-year-old Belgium international will stay, he wants to build an attacking line that can share the goalscoring responsibilities next season.

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