New York, Aug 19 (AP/UNB) - As he bewildered two Burnley midfielders with a center-field pirouette, delivered a stream of dangerous set-pieces and generally controlled play, it was easy to see why there was so much hype around Dani Ceballos this time last year.
The playmaker was about to be an early-season regular for Real Madrid — at the time the European champion — and went on to play well enough to get a call-up to Spain's senior squad.
Just 22, he was one of the new hopes of Spanish soccer.
So why was it that, on Saturday, he was turning out in the red and white of Arsenal, making his full debut in the English Premier League and producing one of the best individual performances of the weekend in a 2-1 win over Burnley ?
The answer lies in a mid-season change of coach at Madrid — Julen Lopetegui, a big fan of Ceballos, was fired in October — and the subsequent return of Zinedine Zidane for the second spell at the Santiago Bernabeu a few months later.
Ceballos joined Madrid from Real Betis in the summer of 2017 but was rarely used by Zidane in the player's first year there. Upon Zidane's return as coach, Ceballos made only three appearances in the final two months of last season.
It was inevitable Ceballos would leave Madrid in the offseason. Arsenal was a willing taker, on a season-long loan, and is already reaping the benefits.
"The truth is that, for me, it has been one of the most special days of my life," Ceballos said after his man-of-the-match display against Burnley. He set up both goals — the first for Alexandre Lacazette from a corner and the second for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after winning the ball back high up the field.
"I really want this year to truly demonstrate the football that I have inside," Ceballos added. "I have a lot of enthusiasm for this season."
That's just what Arsenal coach Unai Emery wants to hear. Arsenal's fans, too, with their team's midfield sorely lacking a consistently creative player last season with Mesut Ozil in and out of the side.
Emery said he plans to use Ceballos as a No. 10 behind the striker but also as a central midfielder, which should give Arsenal greater control of the ball — just like the team had when another Spanish playmaker, Santi Cazorla, was in north London.
As for Ceballos, he just wants to play. He was a second-half substitute against Newcastle on the opening weekend but started at Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
Zidane, the player, was an idol for Ceballos. How he'd love to win the favor of Zidane, the coach, and become a regular for arguably the biggest soccer team in the world.
A strong, consistent loan spell at Arsenal could help him realize that aim.
We all now know about the inverted-fullback tactic at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola. Now for something very different at Sheffield United.
Under Chris Wilder, the promoted club's 3-5-2 formation sees its two wide center backs get forward and overlap to cause overloads in attacking situations.
From one such attack, United scored its goal in a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace on Sunday, as central defender Jack O'Connell powered down the left flank to create some chaos in Palace's defense.
Wilder plays three quite defensive players in central midfield, meaning any of them can drop deeper should the center backs pile forward.
De Bruyne's Delivery
The dramatic ending to Manchester City's 2-2 draw with Tottenham ended up overshadowing another stunning individual display by Kevin De Bruyne, whose injury worries from last season seem to be behind him.
The king of the assists in the Premier League, the City playmaker is already up to three this season after laying on goals for Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero with superb crosses from the right — the first high to the back post and the second low to the near post.
De Bruyne has already set up 12 chances in City's opening two games and is a threat with his driving runs forward from central midfield.
De Bruyne had three separate spells out last season because of a variety of injuries, yet City still won an unprecedented domestic treble.
Now he is fully fit, expect City to be even harder to stop this season.
Paris, Aug 19 (AP/UNB) — Still missing Brazil forward Neymar, defending champion Paris Saint-Germain lost 2-1 at Rennes in the French league on Sunday.
PSG, which beat Nimes 3-0 last weekend in the first round, went ahead in the 36th minute when Edison Cavani took advantage of a poor back pass by Rennes defender Damien Da Silva.
M'Baye Niang leveled with a stunning effort shortly before the interval and Romain Del Castillo was left unmarked to head in what turned out to be the winner early in the second half.
Neymar, who has been linked with a move to Real Madrid and Barcelona, also missed the Nimes game with PSG coach Thomas Tuchel saying the Brazilian was not fit to play.
Neymar became the most expensive player in the world when he moved from Barcelona to PSG for 222 million euros (about $250 million) in 2017. But his two seasons with the French champions have been disappointing compared to the club's huge expectations.
Rennes beat Montpellier 1-0 in its opening match of the season.
Saint-Etienne came from behind to draw 1-1 at home to newly promoted Brest.
New signing Denis Bouanga leveled seven minutes from time, firing home the rebound after his initial shot had been blocked by Brest defender Romain Perraud.
Bouanga, who was signed from Nimes last month, almost snatched the winner but the Gabon winger headed narrowly over the bar in stoppage time.
Julien Faussurier had given Brest the lead on the stroke of halftime. It was a second successive draw for the visitors, who also hit the post in the first period.
Strasbourg drew 0-0 at Reims.
Dhaka, Aug 18 (UNB) - Bangladesh all-rounder Mahmudullah Riyad started gearing up after the Eid vacation as he batted for an hour and bowled five overs at the academy ground in Mirpur on Sunday.
Mahmudullah had been suffering from several injuries. But as per the latest update, he felt no pain while batting, and bowled five overs without complaining any pain as well.
“Now, I’m fit. I’ve recovered from the calf muscle pain. At the same time, the shoulder problem is also fine now. I’ve batted for a long time today. There’s no problem,” he told reporters.
Mahmudullah failed to impress in the World Cup. He also disappointed during Bangladesh’s first assignment after the World Cup in Sri Lanka. Due to his regular downfall, critics are seeking his removal from the national set up. But, the all-rounder is upbeat to flare up.
“We have many games coming along the way. I’m confident to do well and take advantage of the chances,” he further said.
Bangladesh’s next challenge is the one-off Test against Afghanistan before facing them and Zimbabwe in a T20 tri-series.
Mahmudullah believes if Bangladesh can play according to their strength, they will get the result in their favour.
Dhaka, Aug 18 (UNB)- Captain of the Bangladesh national women’s football team Sabina Khatun became first Bangladesh woman footballer to be named as Youth Ambassador of Suchana Program in Bangladesh for one year.
The 25-year-old Bangladeshi forward will work for the Suchana Program, now running in 157 unions of 20 upazilas of Sylhet and Moulvi Bazar districts of the country under financial supports of DFID and European Union to promote nutrition and health care of children under 2 years of age.
Sabina inked a one-year contract with Suchana Program at a signing ceremony at BFF house in Motijheel on Sunday.
Chairman of the women’s wing of Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) Mahfuza Akhter Kiron, BFF General Secretary Md Abu Nayeem Shohag, Chief of Party of Suchana Program Dr Sheikh Shahed Rahman, Program Director Arif Ahmed and Senior Manager of Communication Sheikh Ali Haider Azam were present on the occasion.
In her immediate reaction, Sabina said “Thanks to Suchana Program authority and Save the Children- Bangladesh for giving me this opportunity. It will be a great pleasure and experience for me. I hope it will inspire my next generation of footballers.”
Chief of Party of Suchana Program Dr Sheikh Shahed Rahman said, “Our organization is working for the rights of children and women. Sabina can play a vital role here. Her stories of overcoming social barriers and becoming a national footballer will inspire the women.”
Program Director Arif Ahmed said, “Sabina will act as a role model of our program. Her presence as Youth Ambassador in our different social programs will inspire other girls and will help flourish the latent talents from the grassroots level.”
Sabina Khatun is considered the best women footballer of Bangladesh and started her international career as a professional footballer from 2009.
She played for Sethu FC in Indian women’s league in 2018 and Maldives National Defense Force team in Maldivian futsal tournament in 2015.
Sabina is awarded with Anannya Top Ten Awards in 2016, a prize for women in Bangladesh who contributed in agriculture, industries, trade, economics, acting, music, sports, education, liberation war, social welfare and development-work-law, human rights, entrepreneur, politics and journalism.
Dhaka, Aug 18 (UNB) – Bangladesh’s newly-appointed head coach Russell Domingo has said he will put in his best efforts so that Tigers keep moving in the right direction of international cricket and go to the next level.
“Bangladesh are moving in the right direction in international cricket. They’ve a good bunch of guys and some of them have been playing international cricket for a long time now. I’ll have Mahmudullah (Riyad), Tamim Iqbal, Shakib (Al Hasan), Mushfiqur (Rahim) and more. I’ve to make sure they continue to improve themselves, while the team goes to the next level,” Domingo told UNB in an interview on Sunday.
After parting its ways with Steve Rhodes following the World Cup failure, Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) had been looking for a coach for the national team. There were many who showed interest to take the charge.
Before Eid-ul-Azha, Domingo came to Bangladesh and gave an interview which made the BCB happy.
On Saturday, the BCB announced the name of Domingo as the new head coach of the Tigers.
Asked why the BCB picked him for the job, Domingo said: “I think I’ve much coaching experiences in international cricket. I’ve coached the international side for seven years. Before that, I worked with the youth development system. I understand what it takes to be an international cricketer. I was lucky to share some of those ideas with BCB.”
Domingo will get his compatriots Charl Langeveldt and Neil McKenzie as pace-bowling coach and batting coach of the Tigers respectively.
The new coach believes it will help him make a good plan for Bangladesh’s success in the future.
“I’ve worked with them for a long time in South Africa. So, I’m looking forward to working with them again in Bangladesh. They’re great coaches. It’ll make our job easier. The important thing is that we know what to expect from each other. I believe it’ll benefit the Bangladesh team,” he further said.
The 44-year-old South African never played international cricket. He started his coaching career at the age of 25 and established himself as one of the most experienced coaches in the world. He is special to find new talents for the senior side.
Domingo believes relying on the vast experiences, he will be able to guide Bangladesh cricket to the next level. Under his coaching, Bangladesh can be one of the top 4-5 cricketing nations, believes the new coach.
The newly-appointed coach will arrive in Dhaka on August 21.
He will conduct a 10-day practice camp at Dhaka before the Tigers face Afghanistan in the one-off Test which his first assignment as the coach of Bangladesh.