Extraordinary Messi makes Barca less ordinary

first_imgPrimera División Extraordinary Messi makes Barca less ordinary Ben Hayward Last updated 1 year ago 05:16 4/1/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(31) Lionel Messi Barcelona Getty Images Primera División UEFA Champions League Lionel Messi Sevilla v Barcelona Sevilla Barcelona Roma Opinion The Argentine was kept in reserve for 57 minutes after injury, but managed to rescue a point for a battered Blaugrana still unbeaten in La Liga With three minutes to play at the Sanchez Pizjuan, Barcelona were heading for their first defeat of the season in the Primera Division. And at that point, it was hard to say they did not deserve it.Barca began the day with a 15-point lead in La Liga and unbeaten in the competition. However, Lionel Messi was not fit to start against Sevilla and in his absence, Ernesto Valverde’s side were all over the place for almost an hour.Sergio Busquets was also a big miss in midfield, the Catalan expected to be back in time for the Champions League clash against Roma at Camp Nou on Wednesday night. But without Messi, the Blaugrana looked decidedly ordinary in attack. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. A Liverpool legend in the making: Behind Virgil van Dijk’s remarkable rise to world’s best player Argentina had experienced something similar in the recent international break. With Messi suffering from hamstring and adductor problems, the Albiceleste beat Italy 2-0 in Manchester without truly impressing, before being blown away in a 6-1 loss to Spain on Tuesday as Leo looked on from the stands in Madrid.Would he have made much difference? He always makes a difference. And as soon as he stepped off the bench in the 57th minute of this match, Barca started to create chances. They were 2-0 down by then, but hope had returned.Earlier, goals from Franco Vazquez and Luis Muriel had seen Sevilla take control, the latter missing a couple of superb opportunities to put the game out of Barca’s reach after that.And just as it looked like Sevilla would see out a superb victory to boost confidence ahead of their own Champions League game against Bayern Munich on Tuesday, Luis Suarez struck to pull a goal back after 88 minutes. And moments later, Messi fired home from the edge of the box to level the scores and seal a 2-2 draw.Once again, an ordinary Barca had been saved by their extraordinary forward. Messi makes the difference time after time. Over the years, he has rescued his side on so many occasions and it is hard to imagine just where this team would be without him.Lionel Messi BarcelonaLuckily, they do not have to contemplate that. With Messi, this team is brilliant and challenging for a treble, while they also remain unbeaten in La Liga after 30 rounds of matches. Without Leo, neither of those things would be possible.Now, Barca must make sure they do everything they can to ensure his injury problems are managed properly, so that he can appear when it matters most for the Blaugrana in the remainder of the campaign.Even as an impact substitute, though, he does more than most. And after what had been a disastrous defensive display by Valverde’s men, his cameo changed everything. Barca, more than a little messy, were saved by a little Messi. Now they need to take care of him.last_img read more

New Zealand Warriors join the 2019 NRL Touch Premiership

first_imgNRL Touch Football has today confirmed the Warriors will join the NRL Touch Premiership for the first time in 2019 fielding both men’s and women’s teams.Touch Football is a major participation sport in New Zealand with 27,000 players competing in Auckland alone.From an elite perspective, New Zealand hosts the international trans-Tasman event bi-annually and is seen as a heavyweight internationally in the sport.The opportunity to have elite Warriors men’s and women’s teams in the NRL Touch Premiership will provide the club with a direct link to a huge and highly-engaged community.Vodafone Warriors CEO Cameron George said joining the NRL Touch Premiership makes sense because it will attract a new audience to the club and add to the game day experience in 2019.“Next year we want to engage and entertain as many people as possible at our games and significantly grow our fan base,” said George.“Not everyone can play contact sport so our partnership with Touch New Zealand is really important as it now provides a pathway for touch footy players to play in the NRL at the elite level for the Warriors. It’s really fantastic for New Zealand.“We are excited to be a part of the 2019 NRL Touch Premiership and the development of community programmes and commercial opportunities, both locally and through TV broadcast.”The games will be broadcast nationally and across the Tasman through a mix of live and delayed TV broadcasts with the teams playing in Warriors-branded kit.NRL Touch Football CEO Steve Mitchell is delighted to be aligning with the Vodafone Warriors and growing both touch and tackle versions of rugby league.“We look forward to working closely with the Warriors and Touch New Zealand on bringing the 2019 NRL Touch Premiership to life. We will be releasing the official draw shortly and cannot wait!” he said.Touch New Zealand chief executive Joe Sprangers sees enormous opportunity for both touch and rugby league through this collaboration.“We look forward to the excitement that will be generated around the Touch Premiership League with the inclusion of the Warriors touch teams,” he said.“This is certainly something the membership will embrace”.The breakthrough announcement means the club will now field six Warriors teams in its 25th season in 2019. Three Vodafone Warriors teams will again compete in the NRL, the Intrust Super Premiership and the under-20 Jersey Flegg Cup along with the Warriors team in the second NRL women’s premiership and now two Warriors teams will line up in the NRL Touch Premiership.For more information about the NRL Touch Premiership please visit https://touchfootball.com.au/nrltouchpremiership/To play Touch Football this summer in New Zealand find your nearest club at http://www.touchnz.co.nz/To play Touch Football this summer in Australia find your nearest club at https://playnrl.com/last_img read more