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Champions League Takeaways: Canadians shine bright in Matchday 5



The first round of the 2021-22 UEFA Champions League is going down to the wire.

Only 11 of 16 spots in the round of 16 have been claimed, with such notable teams as FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid teetering on the brink of elimination, which means there will be plenty to play for during next month’s final round of the group stage.

Here are some of the highlights from this week’s Matchday 5.



Jonathan David continues to be one of the hottest goal-scorers in European club soccer at the moment. The 21-year-old from Ottawa netted his second career Champions League goal on Tuesday, lifting Lille OSC to an important 1-0 home win over FC Salzburg. In doing so, David became just the second member of the Canadian men’s team to score multiple goals in a single UEFA Champions League season – Tomasz Radzinski scored five times for Anderlecht in 2000-2001. In total, David has bagged 12 goals in 20 games across all competitions for Lille this campaign.

Not to be outdone, Alphonso Davies was named man of the match in Bayern Munich’s 2-1 road win against Dynamo Kiev on Tuesday. The Edmonton native didn’t score, but he put in a brilliant performance at both ends of the pitch, completing 85 per cent of his passes, registering two key passes, and making a pair of defensive interceptions. He never stopped running in 90 minutes of action, consistently serving as an offensive outlet as Bayern pressed forward in attack.

Six matches remain in Canada’s road to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Watch all remaining qualifiers live on Sportsnet, starting Jan. 27.


Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t wear a cape, but there’s no question he is a superhero in the eyes of Manchester United fans after the way he’s continually come to the team’s rescue.

Held goalless through the first 78 minutes away to Villareal on Tuesday, the Red Devils looked destined to earn a disappointing draw. But then Ronaldo stepped up and broke the deadlock with a fantastic piece of improvisation, adjusting his feet before chipping goalkeeper Gerónimo Rulli from just inside the penalty area to give United the lead. Jordan Sancho went on to add a second for the English club who advanced to the next round with a game to spare.

But make no mistake, it was Ronaldo’s goal that turned the tide in the game, and was another example of how he’s come through in the clutch for United in this season’s Champions League. Tuesday marked his fifth goal of the group stage (and 140th overall in the competition), and it was the third time this season that he scored the winner in the last 15 minutes of a Champions League match.


Not enough people are talking about Ajax, which is a shame because the Dutch club’s run through the group stage of this season’s Champions League has been remarkable.

The four-time European champions have breezed through the competition thus far with a perfect 5-0 record, outsourcing the opposition 16-3 along the way. Their latest win came in Wednesday’s 2-1 decision away to Besiktas, courtesy of a second-half brace from Sebastien Haller.


Haller scored both goals after entering the game as a substitute, and has now scored in his first five career Champions League games. With nine goals in total, the unheralded Frenchman ranks as the top scorer in this season’s competition, ahead of more notable stars such as Robert Lewandowski, Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo. Not bad for a player who never played in the Champions League prior to this year.


The parade of top European clubs moving on in the Champions League continued on Wednesday with Manchester City, Paris-Saint Germain, Inter Milan and Real Madrid all booking their respective spots in the round-of-16.

Man City earned a 2-1 home decision over PSG, avenging a road loss it suffered at the hands of the French club back in September. Likewise, Real Madrid showed FC Sherrif no mercy in rolling to a comfortable 3-0 win, earning some payback for an embarrassing 2-1 loss it suffered at the hands of the modest Moldovans at Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. Despite the loss in England, PSG also advanced.

Inter Milan bested Ukrainian outfit Shakhtar Donetsk 2-0, a result that coupled with Real Madrid’s win ensured the Italians moved on from Group G and earned a round-of-16 berth for the first time in a decade.


Borussia Dortmund’s 3-1 road loss to Sporting Lisbon on Wednesday resulted in its elimination from the Champions League with one game remaining in the group stage.


The Germans giants will now move over to the Europa League, UEFA’S secondary club competition, but you can’t help but wonder what their premature exit from the Champions League means for Erling Haaland’s future at the club.

The 21-year-old Norwegian is one of the hottest prospects and most lethal goal scorers in European soccer at the moment. Several of the continent’s top clubs have been sniffing around him for some time and are anxious to lure him away.

His participation in this season’s Champions League means he’s capped tied, and ineligible to play for another team in the competition this season. But that won’t stop his suitors from trying to make a move for him during January’s transfer window.

John Molinaro is one of the leading soccer journalists in Canada, having covered the game for over 20 years for a number of media outlets, including Sportsnet, CBC Sports and Sun Media. He is currently the editor-in-chief of TFC Republic, a website dedicated to in-depth coverage of Toronto FC and Canadian soccer. To check out TFC Republic, click here.

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NBA Insider Reveals The Opening Night Schedule



(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)


We are now just about two months away from the new NBA season.

It might feel like ages away right now but it’ll be here before you know it and soon you’ll be watching your favorite team thrive or crash yet again.


While much of the upcoming NBA schedule is still a mystery, we do know the teams that will be squaring off against each other on Opening Night 2022.

The Philadelphia 76ers will face off against the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers will take on the Golden State Warriors on October 18.

That is quite the opening night, featuring the two teams that made it to the last Finals and two teams that are desperate to have a season that is better and stronger than what came before.



An Exciting Tip-Off

The Warriors will be getting their championship rings just moments before they go toe-to-toe with the Lakers.

Any betting person would put their money on the Warriors over the Lakers, but many eyes will be paying close attention to LA as they attempt to rebound from a truly abysmal season.

Meanwhile, the 76ers and Celtics will be a fascinating matchup.

The Celtics are coming off of a fantastic season, one that got them all the way to the Finals.


And the 76ers are doubling down on the roster they had last year, with a few new improvements.

Some inside the team, including James Harden, swear that this will be the season that sees them making it all the way through the playoffs.

It’ll be hard to gather a lot of information about any team based only on what we see during opening night.

But it’ll give NBA fans just a small taste of what’s to come.

The post NBA Insider Reveals The Opening Night Schedule appeared first on The Cold Wire.


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The Buccaneers Add Depth With A Familiar Face



(Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)


The current Tampa Bay Buccaneers depth chart shows four players at right defensive end: William Gholston, Logan Hall, Benning Potoa’e, and Willington Previlon.

However, they only have two at left defensive end: Akiem Hicks and Patrick O’Connor.


The team thought of adding another player to help their cause and they eventually turned to a familiar athlete.

Carl Nassib had his first tour of duty with the Buccaneers from 2018 to 2019 after being claimed off waivers from the Cleveland Browns.

Since then, he joined the Las Vegas Raiders on a three-year, $25 million contract.

He was released after two seasons which paved the way for his reunion with the Buccaneers.

The Athletic’s Greg Auman tweeted, “Bucs first got Carl Nassib as a gem of a waiver claim in 2018 from Browns — got 6.5 sacks that year, then 6.0 in Todd Bowles‘ defense in 2019. Didn’t find the same success in Las Vegas, totaling four sacks in two years, but now back to help with depth in Tampa Bay at age 29.”

The brief story showed that Nassib was often overlooked especially with Maxx Crosby‘s emergence.

Therefore, returning to the Buccaneers may help him resurrect his stalled career.


Lining Up The Buccaneers Defense

Nassib is one of the key additions to an already-stacked Tampa Bay defense.


Aside from him, Hicks and Vita Vea will lead the push up front.

Meanwhile, their linebacker trio of Shaquil Barrett, Lavonte David, and Devin White could fly all over the field to shut down the opposing squad.

When defending the deep ball, defensive backs like Jamel Dean, Carlton Davis III, Logan Ryan, and Antoine Winfield Jr. should be at their best.

Add in Nassib and the Buccaneers’ defense got even more formidable.

The post The Buccaneers Add Depth With A Familiar Face appeared first on The Cold Wire.


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Sandy Alcantara Is On Pace To Shatter Marlins History



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The Miami Marlins don’t have much of a chance to accomplish anything this year, but their staff ace Sandy Alcantara does.

The National League Cy Young favorite continued his run of dominance last night, tossing seven scoreless innings against the San Diego Padres and earning his 11th win of the season.


Alcantara also struck out seven batters and allowed just four hits while only walking two batters and lowering his ERA on the season to 1.92.

In fact, last night marked the eighth time Alcantara has tossed at least seven scoreless innings in a game this year, which ties him with the late Jose Fernandez.

Only Dontrelle Willis has pitched more games where he went seven innings and allowed no runs in Marlins history.

He had nine of those back in 2005.


Alcantara’s Dominance

Alcantara is quickly becoming one of the best pitchers in all of baseball.

He might already be there.

With each start, he dominates his opponents and proves why the St. Louis Cardinals made a terrible mistake when they traded him away back in 2017.


Only Justin Verlander has a better ERA than Alcantara, who is the clear-cut favorite to take home the National League Cy Young Award.

He has dominated in almost every start, and he did it at an important time last night, as he shut down the juggernaut offense of the Padres, who just recently acquired Juan Soto and Josh Bell.

While the Marlins aren’t going to go anywhere, Alcantara has a very good chance to achieve something special.

He matched a Marlins great and is now one dominant start away from matching yet another one.

We’ll see if he can keep up this run of success.


The post Sandy Alcantara Is On Pace To Shatter Marlins History appeared first on The Cold Wire.

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