Rafael Nadal will partner Carlos Alcaraz in the men's doubles at the Paris Olympics, the Royal Spanish Tennis Federation has confirmed.

The Spanish duo - who will also participate in the singles competition - will team up for the tournament at Roland-Garros, which begins on July 27.

Both players have fond memories of the venue with Nadal a record 14-time French Open champion, while Alcaraz landed his maiden clay-court major crown last weekend.

Nadal is expected to call time on his glittering career this year.

A gold medallist in 2008 (singles) and 2016 (doubles), the 22-time major winner is unlikely to appear at Wimbledon and will instead focus on the Olympics where, if fit, he had hoped to partner Alcaraz.

Spain's national team coach confirmed he had got his wish, saying: "One pair, which I think everyone knows and was hoping for, is Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal. Rafa and Carlos will be playing together in Paris."

Alcaraz, who will make his debut at the Games, became the youngest player in the Open Era to win the singles title at three different grand slams when he triumphed over Alexander Zverev at Roland-Garros on Sunday.

Germany will be without Bayern Munich's Aleksandar Pavlovic for Euro 2024 after the 20-year-old came down with tonsillitis three days before their Group A opener against Scotland. 

Pavlovic was set to feature in his first international tournament for his country despite only earning his first cap in a recent friendly against Ukraine.

However, he has since been ruled out after being absent from training in Herzogenaurach on Monday and Tuesday. 

Die Mannschaft coach Julian Naglesmann was quick to name his replacement, welcoming Borussia Dortmund captain Emre Can to his ranks. 

Can helped guide his side to the Champions League final where they lost to Real Madrid at Wembley, with Nagelsmann identifying the former Liverpool midfielder, who has 43 caps for Germany, as an ideal replacement for Pavlovic. 

"We wanted another Six in the squad and we decided to nominate Emre Can," Nagelsmann said.

"He was instantly excited and said he was ready to join the team. We wanted a player in the squad who has played a lot of matches and who knows how to handle pressure. He fits the profile and we can now use him."

Pavlovic's absence in the German squad will be felt having enjoyed a breakthrough campaign at the Allianz Arena under the guidance of Thomas Tuchel. 

The 20-year-old made 19 appearances in the Bundesliga this season, winning 15 of those, with the team scoring 54 goals in the process. 

Pavlovic would miss 15 games in the league, and his presence in midfield was missed as Bayern would win just eight times in the German's absence, as well as conceding 14 more goals.

Ilkay Gundogan says it will be "a huge honour and privilege" to lead host nation Germany in what will be a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" at Euro 2024. 

The three-time champions will host their first major international tournament since the 2006 World Cup, where they finished third after losing to eventual champions Italy in the semi-finals. 

Julian Nagelsmann's side are seeking an upturn in fortunes, having suffered back-to-back World Cup group-stage exits, while they were beaten by England in the round of 16 at Euro 2020.

Germany, whose final two warm-up games brought a goalless draw with Ukraine and a narrow 2-1 win over Greece, have conceded at least one goal in each of their last 12 games at major tournaments, last keeping a clean sheet against Slovakia in the round of 16 at Euro 2016.

DFB will launch the tournament at Munich Football Arena on Friday against Scotland, a team they have beaten in both previous major tournament encounters at the 1986 World Cup and 1992 European Championship.

And former Manchester City captain Gundogan, who skippered the Citizens to an historic treble in 2022-23, hopes he can use his leadership skills to inspire his nation to a strong showing on home soil.

"It's a huge honour, a huge privilege to be captain," the Barcelona midfielder said. "I have experienced an awful lot in my career, lots of great times but also lots of difficult times. I kind of know what it takes to be successful.

"All I can do is lead from the front, both on and off the pitch. I think the people of Germany – not just the fans – deserve some success.

"We know it'll be a tough game against Scotland. They have a lot of quality, lots of stars from the Premier League, so it's going to be a challenge, but we are confident.

"We're very well set up, full of quality and there's lots of potential in the squad; we just have to deliver now. We haven't done ourselves justice in recent tournaments.

"We hope this time that we benefit somewhat from the euphoria in our home country and the support of the fans, and that this carries us along. But we know we first have to earn the trust of our fans on the pitch. If we do, I think we will go a long way.

"Playing a [tournament] in your own country is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so obviously it feels really special."

Gundogan also praised the impact of Nagelsmann, who is preparing for his first major international tournament as head coach since replacing Hansi Flick last September.

The 36-year-old is aiming to become the first Germany boss to win a competition at his first attempt since Jupp Derwall at the 1980 European Championship.

"He has brought structure to the team," Gundogan observed. "He has clear ideas about what he wants, but still, there is a calmness about how the coaching team deals with the squad, and there's a sense that they have confidence in the players, which reflects well on us.

"We knew that not everything would go perfectly, we knew we would make mistakes, but we have always felt that the coach was right behind the team. We have the right set-up and are capable of producing our best, to pay back the confidence he has in us."

John Stones missed England's second training session in Germany through illness four days before the start of their Euro 2024 campaign. 

The Manchester City defender featured in the Three Lions' 1-0 defeat to Iceland last week, but was substituted at half-time after picking up an injury.

However, he was involved in training on Tuesday in Blankenhain. 

Gareth Southgate has had to deal with several absentees and fitness concerns in the build-up to the tournament, with Stones' long-term international defensive partner Harry Maguire having been left out of the squad due to injury. 

"The Three Lions squad is out at training this morning, except John Stones who misses out through illness," England posted to X on Wednesday ahead of their Group C fixture with Serbia on Sunday. 

Of the available central defenders in the 26-man squad, Stones has the most appearances for his nation (72), 19 of which have come during major tournaments. 

The 30-year-old's total is third-highest in the England squad, and is double the amount of times Joe Gomez, Marc Guehi, Lewis Dunk and Ezri Konsa have featured for their country combined (36). 

The third major of the year is upon us, and one man in particular will be hoping it goes more smoothly than the second.

World number one Scottie Scheffler saw his bid for a first PGA Championship crown unravel at Valhalla Golf Course, with Xander Schauffele ultimately edging out Bryson DeChambeau and Viktor Hovland for his first major crown.

Many expect the duo – currently the top two in golf's world rankings – to battle it out for glory on Course No. 2 at Pinehurst Resort this week, as the U.S. Open heads back to North Carolina. 

Rory McIlroy could have something to say about that, with last year's second-place finish at the U.S. Open the closest he has come to ending his decade-long major drought.

Ahead of the 124th edition of the tournament, which features the largest purse of any major at $20million, we run through the likely contenders, the storylines to keep an eye on and what to expect from the course.

The course

Pinehurst No. 2 is hosting the U.S. Open for the fourth time, having previously been used for the 1999, 2005 and 2014 editions. 

Since it first welcomed the event, the course has been home to the tournament more times than any other venue.

The course, which was renovated in 2011, is known for rewarding putting accuracy over driving excellence, and it has not always favoured home players in the past.

While Pinehurst No. 2's first staging of the U.S. Open produced a United States-born victor in Payne Stewart, New Zealand's Michael Campbell triumphed in 2005 and Germany's Martin Kaymer won by eight strokes in 2014. 

That was the second-largest margin of victory recorded at the U.S. Open since the World War II after Tiger Woods triumphed by 15 shots at Pebble Beach in 2000.

Expect four gruelling days. Indeed, across the previous four editions of the U.S. Open to be played at Pinehurst No. 2, only Kaymer in 2014 (-9) finished with a score better than one under par for the week.

The contenders 

Fresh off the back of his first major success, Schauffele will expect to be in the running again. He is one of four players to finish inside the top 10 at both of this year's majors to date, having ranked eighth at the Masters. The others to do so are Scheffler, DeChambeau and Collin Morikawa.

Five players have previous won both the PGA Championship and the U.S. Open in the same year – Gene Sarazen (1922), Ben Hogan (1948), Jack Nicklaus (1980), Woods (2000) and Brooks Koepka (2018).

The clear favourite once again, though, is Scheffler. 

He was arrested and charged with second-degree assault of a police officer, third-degree criminal mischief, reckless driving and disregarding traffic signals from an officer after attempting to pass an incident outside Valhalla ahead of his second round last month.

He finished the tournament in a share of eighth – an admirable effort, given the disruption – and saw his charges dismissed just 12 days after his arrest.

The incident has not done much to affect his form. Scheffler claimed his fifth title of the year at the PGA Tour's Memorial Tournament last week, becoming just the second player – alongside Woods – to win the Players Championship, Masters and Memorial in the same year.

He has won five of his eight tournaments on the PGA Tour since March, finishing T2 twice and T8 once in the other three. 

Reflecting on the way he responded to his arrest at Valhalla, Scheffler said: "I call it compartmentalising parts of my life.

"So I have my off-course life and then I have my on-course life, when I'm out here practicing and playing tournaments. I don't show up to these tournaments just to play. I'm here to do my best and compete."

Besides Scheffler and Schauffele, McIlroy will be hoping to go one better after finishing one stroke behind champion Wyndham Clark at last year's U.S. Open.

Having fallen short at the year's first two majors, the Northern Irishman hopes the firm conditions expected in North Carolina will play into his hands. 

"After the Open Championship in 2019 I'd had a disappointing run in the majors, and I tried to change my mindset," he told The Telegraph.

"Since then I've come to love it when it is fast and firm. If you look at my results in the U.S. Open and some of the toughest tests from 2019 until now, I would say the U.S. Open has arguably been my best major in the last few years."

Morikawa should also be there or thereabouts, having been narrowly edged out by Scheffler on his most recent outing at the Memorial.

Alongside Ludvig Aberg, he has the most top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour this year without a victory (six). Might his luck turn this week?

The legends

The U.S. Open will also feature a couple of players attempting to recapture past glories, with Woods the one most fans are looking forward to seeing.

He missed the cut at the PGA Championship after carding scores of 72 and 77, subsequently admitting improvements are needed in all areas if he is to fare better on his first U.S. Open appearance since 2020.

"I need to clean up my rounds," Woods said after the PGA Championship. "Physically, yes, I am better than I was a month ago.

"I still have more ways to go, lots of improvement to do physically, and hopefully my team and I can get that done pre-Pinehurst."

Only four players – Willie Anderson, Bobby Jones, Hogan and Nicklaus (four apiece) – have bettered Woods' three U.S. Open triumphs, and his most recent victory at the event was the last to be decided by a playoff, seeing off Rocco Mediate in 2008.

While Woods has enjoyed plenty of success at the U.S. Open, the same cannot be said for Phil Mickelson.

It is the only major he has not won in his 32 attempts, 30 as a professional and two as an amateur, and his six second-place finishes at the U.S. Open are more than any other player.

The first of those came 25 years ago, at Pinehurst No. 2.

The history 

For all the big names on show, the U.S. Open does have a tendency to throw up surprise victors.

Indeed, since Woods triumphed at Torrey Pines in 2018, 12 of the next 15 U.S. Opens have produced a first-time major champion. That includes the last five editions, with Gary Woodland, DeChambeau, Jon Rahm and Matt Fitzpatrick triumphing before Clark.

Clark could become just the fourth player since World War II to retain the U.S. Open title, after Hogan (1950 and 1951), Curtis Strange (1988 and 1989) and Koepka (2017 and 2018). 

Last year's victory at Los Angeles Country Club remains his only top-30 finish at a major – he missed the cut at this year's Masters and PGA Championship.

The U.S. Open was formerly known as a real test of endurance, but things have changed somewhat in recent years.

From 2005 to 2013, six of nine editions produced an even/over-par winning score, but nine of the last 10 have been won with an under-par score, the exception being Koepka's 2018 victory at Shinnecock Hills (+1).

What kind of score will be required this time out? If Scheffler maintains his outstanding form, he will take some beating. 

Josh Hazlewood acknowledged it would be in Australia's "best interest" if England were eliminated from the T20 World Cup group stage.

The reigning champions have made a stuttering start to their title defence, losing to the Australians after their opening match against Scotland was rained off.

Jos Buttler's side must now beat Oman and Namibia in their remaining Group B games - while significantly boosting their net run-rate - to stand any chance of advancing to the Super 8s.

However, England would be knocked out on Sunday if Scotland were to beat Australia, who have already qualified for the next phase after winning each of their first three matches. 

A narrow Australian win could also dethrone the defending champions, whose elimination Hazlewood admitted would boost his nation's chances of landing a second T20 World Cup crown.

"In this tournament, you potentially come up against England at some stage again, and they're probably one of the top few teams on their day," the fast bowler said.

"We've had some real struggles against them in T20 cricket, so if we can get them out of the tournament, that's in our best interest, as well as probably everyone else's."

"There are a few options there, but to take confidence from winning and winning well, I think that's almost more important than potentially trying to knock someone else out.

"They've still got a lot to do on their behalf as well, so I think it'll become clearer the closer we get to that sort of stuff."

Benjamin Sesko says "there's still a lot more to be done" at RB Leipzig after signing a new deal with the Bundesliga side.

The 21-year-old was linked with a move away from Red Bull Arena, with Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea reportedly interested in landing his signature.

However, the striker has put pen to paper on an extension to his existing contract, keeping him at the club until 2029.

Sesko, who arrived from Red Bull Salzburg on a five-year deal last July, scored 18 goals in 42 appearances during his debut season as he helped Leipzig to a fourth-place finish in Bundesliga.

And the Slovenia international, who is set to face England, Denmark and Serbia at Euro 2024, is thrilled to extend his stay with RBL.

"I had a good first year at Leipzig and am incredibly happy to be here," he told the club's official website. "[The] team, club, city, fans - the overall package is simply outstanding for me. The early contract extension was, therefore, the logical next step for me.

"Even though I didn't play or score as much in the first half of the season, this phase was very important for me and my development. I feel a lot of trust and appreciation throughout the club and that is crucial for being able to perform to my full potential.

"In the second half of the season in particular, I was able to give something back with my goals. We have a team with great potential and a balanced mix of young and experienced players. I'm really looking forward to taking the next steps with this team.

"We've already achieved a lot in my first season and often shown the amount of quality and outstanding football we can bring to the pitch. But there's still a lot more to be done, and that's now our common goal."

"Benji is one of our key players for the coming seasons and that is why the extension is a strong signal," sporting director Rouven Schroder added. "This also underlines our ambitions to be a permanent fixture in the Bundesliga and to be one of the top clubs in Europe.

"[He] embodies our DNA and playing philosophy perfectly. With the new contract, we can continue to drive our squad planning forward."

Euro 2024 is almost upon us, with Europe's finest preparing to battle it out to be crowned continental champions in Germany.

It all gets under way on Friday as Julian Nagelsmann's hosts face Scotland at the Allianz Arena. 

It seems remarkable to think Die Nationalelf – the most successful national team in Europe – have gone eight years without a knockout win at a major tournament, and they will be desperately hoping home advantage inspires a better run this time around.

England, meanwhile, will be looking to bring football home and end 58 years of hurt in the country their captain Harry Kane thrived in last season.

The Three Lions' 2022 World Cup hopes were ended by France, who are again among the favourites. There is plenty more intrigue elsewhere, from defending champions Italy being drawn in a 'group of death' with Spain and Croatia to Cristiano Ronaldo leading Portugal into a sixth edition of the Euros.

And who could forget Georgia's first tournament as an independent nation, or Scotland's attempts to upset the odds in Group A?

As Euros fever grips the continent, we run through the main storylines and contenders, pick out some underdogs and breakout stars to watch and take a look at the Opta supercomputer's predictions.

THE HOSTS

This will be the first edition of the Euros to take place solely in a unified Germany, though the Allianz Arena hosted games at Euro 2020 and West Germany staged the 1988 tournament – won by the Netherlands as Marco van Basten scored one of the most iconic goals in history against the USSR in the final.

This will be Germany's fourth major tournament as sole hosts overall, and they have always gone far on home soil, winning the 1974 World Cup and going out in the semi-finals at Euro 1988 and the 2006 World Cup.

Hopes were not high for them in late 2023 as a dismal run of friendly results saw Hansi Flick become the first Germany coach to be sacked. However, Nagelsmann has restored optimism and has a supremely talented group of players to work with.

Florian Wirtz's emergence as one of Europe's best attacking midfielders offers cause for excitement – the 21-year-old scored 11 goals and added 11 assists during Bayer Leverkusen's unbeaten Bundesliga title-winning campaign to claim Player of the Season honours.

Wirtz, Jamal Musiala and Ilkay Gundogan will likely support Kai Havertz in a fluid attacking quartet, while Toni Kroos' presence in midfield will be a major boost to a team that averaged 59.3 per cent possession at Euro 2020 – second only to Spain (66.8 per cent).

Kroos – who won his sixth Champions League with Real Madrid this month – played more line-breaking passes (214) and passes leading to final-third entries (69) than any other player in Europe's premier club competition in 2023-24.

The major question mark could pertain to Kroos' partner, with Germany having lacked a true midfield enforcer for some time.

They have conceded at least one goal in their last 12 major tournament games, last keeping a clean sheet against Slovakia in the last 16 at Euro 2016. Will that soft underbelly cost them again?

THE FAVOURITES

England

England's Euro 2024 preparations have been far from perfect, with defensive mainstay Harry Maguire missing out through injury and their final friendly ending in defeat against Iceland. However, Gareth Southgate's side enter the tournament as the Opta supercomputer's favourites.

It is not difficult to see why. In Kane, England have a striker whose tally of 44 goals in 2023-24 was only matched by Kylian Mbappe among players from Europe's top five leagues.

In Jude Bellingham, they have the outstanding player from Madrid's double-winning side, recording 36 goal involvements (23 goals, 13 assists) in his debut season in Spain. 

And in Phil Foden, Southgate can call upon the Premier League's Player of the Season, who produced talismanic performances against Manchester United, Aston Villa and West Ham to cap Manchester City's fourth straight title success. 

With Southgate thought likely to depart whatever the outcome of England's campaign, this tournament must be the culmination of their development into genuine contenders. Penalty shoot-outs excluded, England have only lost one of their last 18 Euros games (10 wins, seven draws) – against Iceland in 2016. 

With Marc Guehi now likely to partner John Stones following injury-disrupted campaigns for both players, the key may be Southgate's ability to protect his backline. 

Across the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and Euro 2020, England conceded just 0.59 goals per game and allowed opponents a paltry 0.72 expected goals (xG) per match – a figure only bettered by France (0.67) among the leading European teams to make each tournament. Reproducing that kind of solidity will be crucial. 

France

Didier Deschamps is eyeing history in Germany, where he could become the first person to win the World Cup and the Euros as both a player and a manager. 

Having reached the final at three of their last four major tournaments, Les Bleus are right up there among the favourites again.

The likes of Hugo Lloris, Raphael Varane, Paul Pogba and Karim Benzema may be gone, but France still boast an incredible depth of talent, with Mbappe leading from the front as captain.

Mbappe endured a terrible tournament at Euro 2020, failing to score from chances amounting to 1.7 xG in four games, before missing the vital penalty as France were beaten by Switzerland in a last-16 shoot-out. 

Coming into this tournament on the back of a 44-goal season with Paris Saint-Germain and with his long-term future decided, few expect a repeat from Madrid's newest Galactico. 

Among the more interesting selections from Deschamps is a recall for N'Golo Kante, who was missed at the 2022 World Cup but failed to prevent Al-Ittihad from finishing a lowly fifth in the Saudi Pro League in 2023-24. With Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni also included, opposing midfielders are in for a tough time. 

A difficult group-stage draw means France will be tested from the very off, though. If they can top a pool containing the Netherlands, Austria and Poland, they could be on course to meet England in a titanic semi-final. 

Spain

Spain are the only nation to win back-to-back editions of the Euros, bookending their golden era by triumphing in 2008 and 2012. Since then, La Roja have won just two knockout ties at five major tournaments, with a 2022 World Cup exit to Morocco their nadir.  

Luis de la Fuente is the man tasked with bringing back the good times, and victory in the 2022-23 edition of the Nations League represented a decent start.

However, La Roja have been drawn into what is surely the toughest group at the Euros, with Croatia and Italy their first two opponents before they face Albania.

Spain's attractive, possession-based brand of football won them plenty of plaudits at Euro 2020 and the Qatar World Cup, but it did not win them enough games, with Italy, Japan and Morocco all keeping them at arm's length at those tournaments.

As well as averaging the most passes per sequence during Euro 2024 qualifying (six), Spain averaged the most sequences of 10+ passes per game (28.5). Adding an end product is now the aim of the game.

Alvaro Morata must step up after missing a tournament-high six big chances at Euro 2020. He did score 15 goals in LaLiga last term, though, and exciting wide duo Lamine Yamal and Nico Williams should provide him with plenty of service.

Spain's key men in midfield will be Pedri and Rodri.

Man City star Rodri saw his 18-month unbeaten run ended by Manchester United in last month's FA Cup final, but he developed into more than a midfield enforcer in 2023-24, scoring nine goals and adding 14 assists. 

Pedri, meanwhile, netted twice in a dominant 5-1 win over Northern Ireland last week, and is back to form after an stop-start season with Barcelona. His Blaugrana team-mate Gavi will be absent through injury, however.

If La Roja are to add punch to their possession play, this pair may need to be the driving force. 

Portugal

Portugal are the fifth team to be given more than a nine per cent chance of glory by the Opta supercomputer, as Cristiano Ronaldo heads into his 11th – and potentially final – tournament. 

Injury limited Ronaldo to the role of cheerleader when Portugal won Euro 2016, but he has already written his name into the competition's record books and can underline his legacy further in Germany.

Ronaldo holds the records for most games (25), most goals (14), joint-most assists on record (six – since 1972) and most editions with at least one goal (five) at the Euros. 

His place was called into question at the Qatar World Cup, but Roberto Martinez has built around him since taking over last year, with the Selecao plundering 36 goals in 10 qualifiers and conceding just two.

With the likes of Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Rafael Leao, Joao Felix, Diogo Jota and Pedro Neto all making their squad, Portugal have one of the most exciting attacking line-ups at the tournament. 

A kind group-stage draw – pitting them against Czechia, Turkiye and tournament debutants Georgia also plays into their hands – and the Selecao also know topping Group F would put them on the opposite side of the draw to England and France, should they also win their groups.

Lionel Messi's triumph at the last World Cup will only have heightened Ronaldo's desire for more international silverware. With a strong supporting cast behind him, he should not be written off.

THE UNDERDOGS

Scotland

Scotland fell flat on their first tournament appearance of the century at Euro 2020, but there are reasons to suggest the Tartan Army might have more to cheer this time around. 

Steve Clarke's side were promoted to the top tier of the Nations League in 2022-23, while a famous 2-0 win over Spain at Hampden Park – courtesy of a Scott McTominay double – set the tone for their successful qualification campaign.

Having lost Aaron Hickey, Nathan Patterson and Lewis Ferguson to injury, Clarke's men face a difficult first test against Germany. However, one win could be enough to qualify under the 24-team format, and they might just fancy their chances of upsetting Hungary or Switzerland. 

Austria

Looking to bloody the noses of France and the Netherlands in Group D are Austria, tipped by many to be something of a surprise package under Ralf Rangnick.

Austria finished just one point behind Belgium in qualifying, Rangnick needing little time to implement his high-pressing style. They allowed opponents just 8.3 passes per defensive action (PPDA) in qualifying – the fewest of any team.

Austria also attacked with the highest direct speed (2.03 metres per second), and if their Group D opponents do not match their intensity, they could spring a surprise.

Georgia

One of the stories of the tournament can be found in Group F, with Georgia featuring at a major tournament for the first time as an independent nation – they are the only Euros debutants in Germany.

They failed to qualify directly - their Nations League performance teeing up a penalty shoot-out victory over Greece in the play-offs. They were the only team to reach the tournament while posting a negative goal difference (-6) in their qualifying group.

When it comes to one-off games, though, they do have match-winners. Napoli's Khvicha Kvaratskhelia completed the joint-most dribbles of any player in qualifying (44), alongside Jeremy Doku, also scoring four goals and providing one assist.

Georgia also have international pedigree in the dugout, with Willy Sagnol their head coach. The former France right-back only lost one of his 12 games at major tournaments as a player (six wins, five draws).

THE BREAKOUT STARS

All eyes may be on Kane, Mbappe and Ronaldo, but major tournaments are often defined by breakout stars, those players who earn big-money moves or become household names within a matter of days.

Slovenia's Benjamin Sesko could be a candidate, having attracted interest from several of Europe's biggest clubs, though he has now signed a new deal with RB Leipzig. Bellingham (19) was the only player aged 21 or younger to better his 14 goals in Europe's big five leagues last term. 

The Netherlands, who are shorn of Frenkie de Jong, may need to spread the goals around in the absence of a top-class number nine, and Feyenoord's Lutsharel Geertruida – who has played at centre-back, right-back or in midfield – had 13 goal involvements in the Eredivisie last term (eight goals, five assists).

Defending champions Italy are being overlooked by many as Luciano Spalletti oversees a period of transition. Inter midfielder Davide Frattesi could emerge as a star for the Azzurri, having scored five goals in 15 caps – more than any team-mate since his debut in 2022.

This tournament has been touted as something of a last dance for Belgium's 'Golden Generation', and PSV winger Johan Bakayoko is the Red Devils' next big hope. Only seven players bettered his 164 opposition-half take-ons in Europe's top six leagues last term, with fellow Belgium wide-man Doku (171) among them.

The supercomputer's prediction

According to the Opta supercomputer, football may finally arrive home on July 14. 

England emerged triumphant in 19.9 per cent of Opta's 10,000 tournament simulations, making them favourites ahead of France (19.1 per cent).

There is then a significant gap to the third favourites, with Germany victorious on home soil in 12.4 per cent of projections, ahead of Spain (9.6 per cent) and Portugal (9.2 per cent). 

The Netherlands (5.1 per cent) and Italy (5.0 per cent) are next, with tough group-stage draws working against them. Belgium (4.7 per cent), Denmark (2.2 per cent) and Croatia (2 per cent) round out the top 10.

Scottie Scheffler has insisted that he does not feel there is a target on his back as he aims to capture his third major championship victory in this week's US Open at Pinehurst. 

Scheffler's victory at the Memorial Tournament last week saw him become only the fourth PGA Tour player in the past 60 seasons to win five times before the end of June.

It was the American's fifth win in eight PGA Tour starts, having also won the Arnold Palmer Invitational, The Players, The Masters and RBC Heritage, last missing a cut in August 2022. 

"I try not to think about the past too much, and I try not to think about the future too much," Scheffler told the media.

"I just try and live in the present. Sometimes it's easier and sometimes it's a bit harder.

"I feel like coming off of last week, I was really excited and celebrated for a few minutes there, but my mind kind of just goes on to the next thing. I was getting ready, trying to get out of there and trying to prep for next week.

"I'm not thinking about my wins anymore. All I'm focused on is this week and getting ready to play. Just because I won last week doesn't give me any shots against the field this week.

"We all start even par, and the field is level again starting on Thursday. Last week doesn't really matter. I still don't feel like there's much of a target on my back. It's not like anybody is out there playing defence."

Scheffler will tee off with PGA Championship winner Xander Schauffele and four-time major champion Rory McIlroy in Thursday's first round, the players closest to him in the world rankings. 

"When I play with Xander and Rory here Thursday and Friday, they're not going to be saying weird stuff to me out on the golf course or trying to block my putt from going in the hole," Scheffler added.

"As far as a target on my back, even if there was, there's really not much we can do in the game of golf. Most of it is against the golf course and playing against yourself."

Scheffler would be the first golfer to win on tour and capture a major the following week since McIlroy at the 2014 PGA Championship.

Andy Murray cast doubt over his participation at the Olympic Games in Paris next month, saying he is "not 100 per cent sure what the situation is".

Murray is a two-time Olympic champion, having won men's singles gold medals in 2012 - the year he also won a silver medal in the mixed doubles alongside Laura Robson - and 2016.

The three-time grand slam winner is eligible to compete in the singles in Paris, where two places are reserved for former Olympic or major champions.

Although, he appears set to miss out on the doubles, regardless, with Great Britain set to send Joe Salisbury and Neal Skupski.

The tournament could prove to be the final one in the career of Murray, who revealed in February that he does not "plan on playing much past this summer".

He suffered a third successive first-round defeat in Stuttgart, having also fallen at that stage in the French Open, which will see him drop out of the world's top 100 for the first time in two years.

And Murray is uncertain if he will feature at the quadrennial event.

"I need to see what happens with the Olympics," he told reporters after losing to Marcos Giron in Stuttgart. 

"I'm not 100 per cent sure what the situation is there with the doubles yet and whether or not I will play if I just get in the singles. I don't know.

"My body didn't feel great playing on the clay in the last month or so. I had quite a few issues with my back, so I don't know if I would go just for singles. I need to wait a little bit and see on that."

United States head coach Gregg Berhalter has said he will be prioritising player performance and not a result ahead of his side's friendly fixture against Brazil. 

Berhalter watched on as the USA began their Copa America preparations with a 5-1 defeat to Colombia in Maryland, their heaviest defeat since 2016. 

Los Cafeteros scored three times in 11 minutes during the second half, reawakening scepticism among supporters about the ability of the squad to compete against the top sides in international football. 

But ahead of their meeting with the five-time World Cup winners, Berhalter insisted that his team will not change course and continue preparations as planned for the 48th edition of the tournament. 

"We want to gain information on both Brazil and our own players, so we have to be brave and we have to continue with our plan," said Berhalter. 

"Obviously a lot of pressure from the outside after a 5-1 defeat at home but for us, again, it's about preparing this group for Copa America."

The USA begin their Group C campaign against Bolivia, who won the tournament in 1963, before facing Panama and Uruguay in the hopes of replicating their semi-final run in the competition in 2016. 

Berhalter said that he and his coaching staff will be focused more on performance than the result against the Selecao Canarinha in Florida on Wednesday, having failed to beat their opponents since 1998, losing by an aggregate scoreline of 8-28. 

"If we look after the game and we see 11 guys, 16 guys, performing at an eight out of 10 level, that will be enough," he said. 

"We know Brazil's a very good team but for us it's about how do we perform at our highest level against teams like this."

Adam Zampa hit a milestone as Australia reached the Super 8s of the T20 World Cup with a resounding nine-wicket thrashing of Namibia.

Leg-spinner Zampa took 4-12 to reach a century of wickets in the shortest format, as Namibia were bowled out for just 72 in 17 overs in Antigua.

Australia needed just 34 balls to surpass that total, with Travis Head's unbeaten 34 from 17 deliveries propelling them to a comprehensive win.

David Warner (20) was the only Australian to lose his wicket, with captain Mitchell Marsh (18 not out) hitting the winning runs.

Australia are now top of Group B ahead of facing surprise package Scotland on Sunday. 

Tuesday's other match, between Sri Lanka and Nepal, was called off due to rain without a ball having been bowled.

The abandonment of that match in Florida means that Sri Lanka's hopes of qualifying for the next round are all but over.

Sri Lanka are bottom of Group D with just one match left to play, against the Netherlands on Monday.

Data Debrief: Zampa makes history

Zampa is the first Australian to reach the century landmark for wickets in T20Is, while his 12 runs conceded against Namibia is the joint-lowest total of any player for Australia from a full four overs in a T20 World Cup match.

Gerhard Erasmus was the only player to impress for Namibia. He scored 36 runs, 50 per cent of his team's total. 

That is the highest proportion of any batter in a Namibia T20 World Cup innings.

Kyrie Irving accepted the blame for the Dallas Mavericks being 2-0 down to the Boston Celtics and vowed to do "whatever it takes" to turn things around.

The Mavs lost 107-89 in Game 1 of the NBA Finals and followed that up with a 105-98 defeat on Sunday to leave themselves with a mountain to climb.

Luka Doncic felt his performance cost his side in the most recent of those encounters, despite finishing with 32 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists.

By comparison, fellow superstar Irving registered 16 points, two rebounds and six assists in almost the exact same number of minutes on the court.

And Irving admits it is now on him to step up in Game 3 at American Airlines Center on Wednesday if the Mavs are to drag themselves back into the series.

Asked about a conversation he was seen having with Doncic, Irving said: "It started with me just telling my [brother] I got to play better for him, alongside him.

"In order for us to accomplish our goal, we both have to be playing well and we both have to be doing the little things, doing whatever it takes to win.

"It was an easy conversation. But it started with me reaching out, just letting him know it's my fault, taking accountability for not playing particularly well."

Irving has so far averaged 14 points in the two games with the Celtics, which is down on the 22.8 points he averaged per game in the playoffs.

"First thing of that is just accepting that I haven't played well or up to my standards, as well as I would have liked," Irving said.

"Being back in Boston, there's such a level of desire that I have inside of me to play well. I wanted to be there for my teammates. As a competitor, it's frustrating. 

"But I don't want to let that seep in or spill over to any other decisions I have to make there as a player."

Irving has lost 12 straight games against the Celtics, whom he left in 2019, but Boston coach Joe Mazzulla is aware of what the eight-time NBA All-Star is capable of.

"It's not about shutting him down," Mazzulla said ahead of Game 3. "It's about making it difficult for him because of his ability to impact plays. We just have to fight for that. 

"He's got some good looks. I think we have to guard him better. I think he's definitely going to be more aggressive."

 West Indies have enjoyed somewhat of a storming start to their ICC Men’s T20 World Cup campaign, but it’s safe to say those victories over minnows Papua New Guinea and Uganda were always expected.

Though a bit shaky in a five-wicket win over Papua New Guinea in their Group C opener, West Indies backed that victory up with a convincing 134-run beating of newcomers Uganda. However, the Caribbean side will be hopeful of a better second half to the group stages, as they now have New Zealand to contend with, and Afghanistan to follow.

With four points already to their credit and New Zealand yet to get on the board, the Darren Sammy-coached West Indies is targeting another win, which would guarantee them a spot in the Super Eight, and basically eliminate the Black Caps.

A record crowd is anticipated for the encounter, scheduled to play under lights at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy, in Trinidad and Tobago, on Wednesday.

While acknowledging that it will be an exciting challenge, West Indies captain Rovman Powell believes it is also an opportunity for his team to showcase the class and form that they have enjoyed over the past 15 months.

During that time, the now number-four ranked West Indies registered 2-1, 3-2 and 3-2 series wins over South Africa, India and England respectively, before losing 1-2 to Australia. Prior to the World Cup they swept South Africa 3-0 at Sabina Park.

"We are pretty confident; the boys been playing some very good cricket, and we know New Zealand will pose different challenge from our first two opponents. But having said that, once we just focus on ourselves and play good cricket, we should be okay,” Powell told journalists at a pre-game press conference on Tuesday.

"If you should look on the last year, the last twelve or 14 months, West Indies have played very good T20 cricket. So it's just a continuation of us doing that, even though it's a World Cup, the guys have done a lot of hard work coming into this World Cup, so hopefully we can show that hard work. It's two of the more traditional nations, Afghanistan and New Zealand, but I think once we focus on ourselves, we should be okay,” he added.

Given that New Zealand succumbed to a heavy 84-run defeat to Afghanistan, in a contest where they were bowled out for 75 runs, Powell said it signals some semblance of vulnerability in the opponents’ form and, as such, he and his team are looking to capitalise.

"If there's a good time to play New Zealand, I think it's definitely now. They're a little bit undercooked and the pressure is really on them because this game decides whether they go on or not. But, we're not focusing on New Zealand, we're focusing on what we have to do, and once we do what we have to do, then that will take care of itself,” Powell noted.

That said, the Jamaican once again declared their intentions to possibly secure an unprecedented third T20 World Cup title. West Indies won the 2012 and 2016 tournaments in Sri Lanka and India, and Powell is optimistic that they can now secure a title home soil, a feat he said would mean more to cricket in the region that just one more trophy.

“When you look on the benefits of playing a World Cup at home for West Indies cricket, it's an enormous benefit. If we should go on and win the World Cup, it would make us the first team to win a T20 World Cup at home. From a financial standpoint, it (hosting) boosts West Indies cricket economy, and is beneficial for so much different islands to be getting international cricket of such good standards, so that in itself is a beneficial factor,” Powell reasoned.

“For us as players, it's an opportunity for us to cement our space in West Indies cricket folklore, and winning a World Cup on home soil, not just myself as captain, but all the guys, will be remembered for such achievement.

"But those expectations are on the back of us playing good T20 cricket, which has resulted in us being ranked number four in the world now, and it's for us to continue to manage those expectations. I think the guys have done that, we are at home, so obviously expectations and pressure is always there, but it's just for us to keep on playing good cricket and keep on entertaining the fans,” he ended. 

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