Tokyo Olympics: What to look out for on Wednesday

By Sports Desk July 27, 2021

There was plenty of drama in Tokyo on Tuesday and that is set to continue as the Olympic Games ramps up further on Wednesday.

A titanic tussle in the swimming pool should be well worth watching, but action on the bikes and in the basketball court will also draw plenty of eyes.

Stats Perform guides you through the events not to be missed.

TITMUS OUT TO TOP LEDECKY AGAIN

Katie Ledecky is one of the dominant forces in the pool, taking gold in each of her prior four individual Games finals since her 2012 debut as she headed to Tokyo, but she was upset in the 2020 opener.

Ariarne Titmus, the 20-year-old Australian, beat the United States' world record holder by more than half a second in the 400m freestyle final.

Now, Titmus is coming for Ledecky's crown again as the pair do battle in the 200m freestyle, where another victory would send a significant message.

TOUR STARS TAKE ON TIME TRIAL

There are no shortage of big names in the men's time trial, with a number of Grand Tour winners involved – including Geraint Thomas, no doubt determined to put on a show after his fall in the road race.

The last two men to head out perhaps represent the most likely Olympic champions, though, as Wout van Aert and Filippo Ganna go for gold.

Van Aert won the final two stages of the Tour de France, including a time trial on the penultimate day of the race.

FOCUS ON THE FOUR

The first rowing medals of the Games are to be handed out on Wednesday, and the women's four – back in the Olympics for the first time in 30 years – should provide plenty of intrigue.

World champions Australia changed their line-up for the Olympics, having not competed internationally since taking their title in 2019. Meanwhile, the Netherlands, world silver medallists and back-to-back European champions, have been dominant.

The two teams won their respective heats, but Australia's time of six minutes and 28.76 seconds was an Olympic best and almost five seconds quicker than the Dutch. Whether that chasm will remain when the boats are side by side is another matter.

TWO-WAY TUSSLE IN THE GYM

There is more gymnastics action to look forward, with the men's individual final taking place.

Home hope Daiki Hashimoto qualified with the best score and was outstanding for Japan in the team event, yet could only take silver as the hosts were pipped by the Russian Olympic Committee.

It was Nikita Nagornyy's floor routine which sealed that Russian success and he will be bidding for another gold, having trailed Hashimoto in second in qualification.

CAN DREAM TEAM RECOVER FROM NIGHTMARE START?

The United States' latest men's basketball title defence started in miserable fashion with a defeat to France, the team who eliminated them at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

It was Team USA's first Olympics loss since 2004, but it is highly unlikely a second will follow as they face Iran. A big performance is needed regardless to calm the critics.

While France delivered the upset in the basketball, they face their own humiliation in the football. Only a two-goal win against hosts Japan, themselves needing a point, will secure progress through Group A for Les Bleus.

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  • Werner makes RB Leipzig return after frustrating Chelsea spell Werner makes RB Leipzig return after frustrating Chelsea spell

    Timo Werner has rejoined RB Leipzig from Chelsea on a four-year contract.

    The Germany forward failed to live up to expectations since moving from Leipzig to Stamford Bridge for a fee of £47.5million (€50m) two years ago.

    Although reports suggested his return would initially be on loan with an option to buy, the Bundesliga club have instead secured him on a contract that expires in 2026.

    The 26-year-old scored just 10 Premier League goals in 56 appearances for the Blues, having arrived at the club with 95 goals for Leipzig between 2016 and 2020 to his name – that remains a club record.

    Werner was not included in Thomas Tuchel's squad for Chelsea's 1-0 win over Everton in their first game of the Premier League season, and he said farewell to the club in a social media post on Tuesday.

    Werner wrote: "Dear Blues, today marks the end of my journey with Chelsea FC.

    "I am incredibly grateful for the time I spent at this special club. At this point I would like to express my appreciation for my teammates, the coaches and staff, and especially for you, the special supporters of Chelsea Football Club.

    "I felt so much love and support throughout the last two years and I will never forget how you guys stood behind me in good and in challenging times!

    "We lifted trophies like the Champions League together and I will always remember the song you wrote and chanted for me. I'm already looking forward to hopefully playing at Stamford Bridge again one day! See you soon, Timo."

     

    Soon after, Leipzig confirmed the transfer had been completed.

    Their statement read: "Timo is back – and is now snapping again for RB Leipzig!

    "Our record goalscorer (95 goals) is returning to the Bundesliga after two years in the English Premier League with Chelsea and is again hunting for goals for the Red Bulls.

    "The attacker has signed a four-year contract until 2026."

    Despite Werner's failure to live up to the hype after his £47.5m (€50m) switch to Stamford Bridge two years ago, his tally of 23 goals in all competitions since he joined Chelsea is the joint-highest in the Blues' squad, alongside Kai Havertz, who also arrived from the Bundesliga in 2020.

    With 17 assists, Werner has directly contributed to 40 goals in his 89 appearances, putting him behind only Mason Mount (46 goal involvements in 108 games).

    Only Mount has had more shots than Werner (191) in the last two seasons for Chelsea, though the former Stuttgart star converted just 12 per cent of those efforts while missing 32 big chances (defined by Opta as an opportunity from which a player would be reasonably expected to score), showing his profligacy in front of goal.

    Werner scored 28 Bundesliga goals in his last season with Leipzig, outperforming his expected goals (xG) of 21.

  • Juventus-bound Kostic leaves Frankfurt a hero, says Glasner Juventus-bound Kostic leaves Frankfurt a hero, says Glasner

    Oliver Glasner is disappointed to see Filip Kostic leave Eintracht Frankfurt, but is happy that the Juventus-bound winger will leave the club a hero.

    Kostic looks set to have played his last match for Frankfurt, with the versatile winger having been left out of the Bundesliga side's squad to face Real Madrid in the Super Cup on Wednesday.

    Since he signed for Frankfurt from Hamburg in 2018, Kostic has played more games (167) and started more matches (161) than any other player for the club in all competitions.

    His 30 goals trails only Andre Silva (45) and Luka Jovic (31), while he is way clear in terms of assists (56) and chances created (420), with 269 of them coming from open play.

    Indeed, Kostic's tally of 1,702 passes played into the opposition's box, including crosses, is almost 1,300 more than second-best Daichi Kamada.

    Glasner knows Kostic, who has excelled as a wing-back, will be a huge miss as he explained why he feels the move is bittersweet.

    "Today it's as if I'm laughing and crying," Glasner told a news conference at Helsinki's Olympic Stadium. "Filip left his mark on our attack, it's never nice to lose such a player.

    "It definitely weakens us, but I also have this laugh, thinking about how the season started last year with Filip when he went on strike and didn't want to play.

    "I had a lot of conversations with him about playing 100 per cent for the team. I asked him that when he left Frankfurt, to please leave as a hero, and now he's leaving as a hero, he was the player of the year and he won the Europa League. I'm really happy for him, but yes it's sad [that he is leaving]."

     

    Glasner acknowledged he was surprised at how swiftly Kostic's move, which has been speculated on for weeks, transpired between Frankfurt's 6-1 defeat to Bayern Munich on Saturday and Wednesday's encounter with Champions League winners Madrid.

    As such, he suggested Frankfurt's system will not change for upcoming games, but that it may be open to tweaks over the coming weeks.

    "[On Monday] it became more and more clear that Filip could leave. You won't see a big system change [against Madrid] but it is possible we change things in the next weeks or months, that is the job of the coach, to find the best system," he added.

    "I didn't maybe expect it to be so quick. I had a feeling, even after the Bayern match, that he would play. Well, this dream was broken.

    "But every time someone leaves it's an opportunity and I prefer to see the opportunities, not what is missing. It will be an opportunity for other players. It's not like it's a complete shock, the club is prepared and the transfer window is still open."

    Goalkeeper Kevin Trapp echoed Glasner's sentiment, but was confident his team-mates have not been shaken by Kostic's departure.

    Trapp said: "The topic of Filip, we've had it every year at the beginning of the season. It's sad, Filip did something historic for the club, did a lot with the club, he's leaving as a hero who was a big part of this achievement.

    "But it's part of football, part of businesses. We have a team capable of showing good performances without Filip, but it's nothing that shocked us or has shaken us after the speculation of the last weeks. It's a departure that hurts but nothing that will shake us too much."

  • Isco determined to prove doubters wrong after ending Real Madrid exile with Sevilla move Isco determined to prove doubters wrong after ending Real Madrid exile with Sevilla move

    Isco is determined to prove he is still capable of performing at an elite level after ending his spell in the Real Madrid wilderness by joining Sevilla.

    The midfielder, a five-time Champions League winner who made 353 appearances during a nine-year spell with Los Blancos, fell out of favour following Carlo Ancelotti's return to the Santiago Bernabeu last year.

    He left the Spanish capital following the expiration of his contract in June, having made just three starts during Madrid's double-winning 2021-22 campaign, playing just 406 minutes in all competitions.

    Sevilla swooped to sign the 30-year-old on a free transfer on Monday, and Isco hopes the move will revitalise his career.

    "I want to show the level that I have and that I have never lost. It's normal for there to be doubts, but I'll take care of dispelling them," he told the club's media channels after signing a two-year deal.

    "It has been a difficult summer, different. I've had too many vacations, I've taken advantage of them to get in shape and now I can't wait to play again, which I haven't done for a while.

    "I'm not complaining, I've been lucky because I've played for big clubs and I've won almost everything, but I don't like to think too much about the past but about what's to come."

    Isco's arrival in Seville will see him reunited with a familiar face in Julen Lopetegui, who coached him at Madrid in 2018 and during a spell as Spain boss between 2016 and 2018. 

    And the playmaker is excited to work with him at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, adding: "He has always trusted me and I like his football, what he proposes. It is a football that is more suitable for my style.

    "I thank him for his confidence, which for a footballer is paramount. The confidence he has given me, it has always been the maximum. Now it's up to me to restore his confidence on the pitch and show him that he's not wrong."

    Isco could make his Sevilla debut when they begin their LaLiga campaign at Osasuna on Friday. 

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