Pat Mahomes may become the NFL's first $200million player but he can expect to earn double that amount in endorsements, according to a sports marketing expert.

The quarterback further enhanced his blossoming reputation by steering the Kansas City Chiefs to a first title in 50 years, with his performance in the 31-20 win over San Francisco 49ers enough to earn Super Bowl LIV MVP honours.

After a trip to Disneyworld and an open-top bus parade to celebrate the team's success, Mahomes now finds himself playing a waiting game as he looks ahead to the offseason.

A first-round pick by the Chiefs in 2017, he is moving into the last year of his rookie deal. There is no doubt that his employers will pay him; the question is more about how much he gets.

The 24-year-old is expected to sign the biggest deal in the league's history, yet the eye-catching number - whatever it ends up being in terms of overall value, and guaranteed money - is not the only chance Mahomes will have to cash in on his superstardom.

Asked if Mahomes could match his record-breaking new contract in off-field deals, Darrin Duber-Smith - a lecturer in marketing at the Metropolitan State University of Denver - told Stats Perform: "For sure.

"The thing about endorsement potential is success is only one of a few important variables in whether an endorser becomes wildly financially successful.

"Pat Mahomes is likeable. Success helps, but likeability is a bigger factor. Longevity is a big issue, attractiveness is a big issue, as is success. Those are sort of the four biggest variables for endorsement success, in my opinion.

"Tom Brady has longevity and has had success, and is good-looking too, but he doesn't have that likeability.

"Mahomes doesn't have the longevity aspect yet, of course. We don't know about that because an injury can derail someone's career very quickly.

"I would compare him to Peyton Manning, though. He even has more endorsement potential than Manning, who is one of the most likeable and also one of the highest-grossing celebrity endorsers ever."

 

While Manning is still earning in retirement, Mahomes is part of a new generation of quarterbacks. Alongside Deshaun Watson and reigning MVP Lamar Jackson, he is a superstar who will attract in sponsors, not just with his play on the field but also his personality.

His profile is aided by a change in the marketing landscape, according to Duber-Smith. Where once teams were the main attraction, now it is the players who have the pulling power.

"It's all about what we call 'star power' in the sports marketing world," he explained. "We can thank 15 or 20 years of fantasy football for that.

"Star power drives almost everything – people will go out and watch really poor teams, so long as there are one or two great stars. Teams can also make millions of dollars despite not winning for decades, just so long as the star power is there.

"The NFL has rallied this year, and I think that's down to a couple of things. First, they are paying a lot more attention to which games they are showing on television, so that really helps, but we also have 'Generation Z' coming in.

"They are different. With the millennials, we had a malaise for a period of time. Now, though, we have in this batch of new quarterbacks, probably the most exciting bunch we've possibly ever seen.

"It's all about quality. The Premier League is rated number one in the world, and the way you look at that is through player salaries. The thing about Americans is – and you're going to see this when the XFL fails – they don't like to watch poor sports.

"They like to watch the best in the world, which explains why the Premier League ratings are so much higher than our own MLS. We don't care where it comes from – if it's high quality, we will watch it."

There is little doubt about Mahomes' quality. Kansas City have drafted and developed a franchise QB who should be worth every penny of what they end up paying him. As one of the faces in the NFL, he should expect to be in high demand.

Bayern Munich versus RB Leipzig – if ever a fixture was about more than the game itself, this was it.

In its plainest reading, absent any nuance, Sunday's Bundesliga clash at the Allianz Arena pitted history, heritage and prestige against, well, Leipzig.

Bayern, with their 29 league titles and five European Cups, are a global powerhouse, a team that would spring more readily to mind than almost any other if one were prompted to name one.

As with any club that boasts such a well-stocked trophy room, Bayern are not without their detractors, but respect for the Bavarians is universal, even if sometimes begrudging.

The same cannot be said for Leipzig.

Created in 2009 in circumstances not compatible with any club seeking to be ordained as 'proper' in the eyes of football's ardent traditionalists, RB Leipzig – and the prefix matters here – were at first perceived as a distasteful anomaly.

Having assumed SSV Markranstadt's spot in the fifth tier, consuming that club in the process, the Red Bull-owned franchise were far enough down the pecking order that their business model, a source of concern and even disgust to many, was not considered a threat to the established order.

But their very existence, at whatever level, was still too much for a great many supporters in Germany, who found little trouble distinguishing between Leipzig's unbridled commercialism – typified by their subversion of the '50+1' ownership rule – and their own clubs' multi-million Euro deals for stadium naming rights, kit sponsorship and the like.

It is against this backdrop of cynicism and widespread antipathy that Leipzig have risen to the heights of top-flight title contenders, making Sunday's trip to Munich a genuine six-pointer. 

Julian Nagelsmann insisted before the game that it would not be decisive, with his side heading into it one point behind the reigning champions.

Leipzig's head coach, himself just 32, has a young and exciting squad at his disposal – the youngest, in fact, in the division – and they play in a manner that makes you want to forget the stuffy off-field issues that colour people's judgement of this fledgling club.

But Bayern are the toughest of nuts to crack and, seeking an eighth consecutive Bundesliga title, it was the hosts who carried themselves with greater purpose on the pitch.

Thomas Muller passed when he should have shot, while Robert Lewandowski did get an effort away but saw it deflected wide during a first half in which the hosts were on top.

Bayern were awarded a penalty that was soon taken away after Lewandowski had strayed offside before being fouled, while Timo Werner's profligate finishing ensured the lively Christopher Nkunku's excellent cross went unrewarded.

Goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi's excellent late stop from Leon Goretzka ensured that, as in September's meeting in Leipzig, the spoils were split between two clubs who share little else in common.

There were winds of change in Dublin on Saturday as ferocious Ireland denied Wales a record-equalling ninth consecutive Six Nations victory with Storm Ciara fast approaching.

Wales crossed the Irish Sea braced for an almighty arm wrestle after an emphatic defeat of Italy on the opening weekend of their first tournament since Wayne Pivac replaced Warren Gatland.

The defending champions were second best in the battle of the 2018 and 2019 Grand Slam winners, failing to match their best winning run in the tournament at the Aviva Stadium – such a fortress for the men in green.

A highly anticipated showdown was expected to be badly affected by high winds and torrential rain, yet it was Ireland doing the damage in the first half to lay the platform for a magnificent 24-14 win.

Unconvincing in a win over Scotland at the start of the Andy Farrell era last weekend, this was much more like the Ireland side that was crowned champions under Joe Schmidt two years ago and topped the world rankings.

So uncompromising up front, with CJ Stander outstanding at number eight to claim a second successive man-of-the-match award, Ireland were magnificent in defence and clinical in attack.

The pressure finally told midway through the first half when the nimble-footed Jordan Larmour pierced a hole in the Wales defence, Nick Tomkins unable to haul the full-back to the ground before he touched down.

Johnny Sexton made a mess of the conversion attempt and Wales were in front against the run of play after Tomos Williams rounded off a slick move following great work from Dan Biggar and Alun Wyn Jones.

Tadhg Furlong ploughed his way over at the other end as Ireland continued to batter away at the Wales pack and Josh van der Flier gave them breathing space when the holders were unable to halt a driving maul.

Hadleigh Parkes had a try ruled out before huge roars echoed around the ground when Wales were penalised at a scrum close to the Ireland line, prompting Farrell to leap up and punch the air. 

With the wind gusting at an increasing speed, Wales were much more of a force in the second half but Andrew Conway's try gave ruthless Ireland the bonus point.

Justin Tipuric crossed right at the end, but the damage had already been done as Ireland, led so well by Sexton, made it two wins out of two.

Wales also lost in-form wing Josh Adams and Biggar to injury as the Rugby World Cup semi-finalists suffered a first Six Nations defeat since losing to Ireland in Dublin two years ago.

Julian Nagelsmann insists the outcome will not decide anything, but RB Leipzig's trip to Bayern Munich is undoubtedly a pivotal moment in the Bundesliga title race.

A charging Bayern squad suddenly sit on top of the table, a point clear of their opponents. The reigning champions have hit top form, reeling off six league wins on the spin. They have scored 12 goals in their three outings since the mid-season break, too.

In contrast, Leipzig - who have enjoyed such a rapid rise since they were formed in 2009 - have stumbled in recent weeks.

A 2-0 defeat at Eintracht Frankfurt was followed by a 2-2 draw at home to Borussia Monchengladbach last time out. Sunday's trip to the Allianz Arena should tell us a lot more about their prospects of lasting the distance.

With help from Opta, we look at key statistics behind both teams' recent performances - and identify how a coaching change may turn out to be crucial in the final reckoning.

 

Leipzig out of luck, or are they wilting under pressure?

Vibrant, youthful, exciting – set aside the off-field politics that surrounds Leipzig's ownership, and there is little to dislike about them on the pitch.

But since the post-winter break, Leipzig have relinquished their position at the Bundesliga's summit and won just once in four matches across all competitions. If they weren't hopeful of a title challenge this could be dismissed as a blip, but given their lofty ambitions, it warrants investigation.

Even with the in-form Timo Werner, Leipzig have been far less impressive in front of goal. Before the break they had scored 67 times but their expected goals (xG) was 62 – since returning they've netted six times, which corresponds exactly with xG.

They're averaging more shots now, 18.5 per game as opposed to 16.5 before Christmas, but accuracy has dropped to 49 per cent from 59, while big-chance conversion has decreased spectacularly from 41 per cent to just 17.

Leipzig are still creating chances at an almost identical rate, so the data suggests a decrease in composure is to blame for their issues.

 

Demme departure a factor

It was always likely to be a blow to lose club captain Diego Demme, the tidy and tenacious midfielder Leipzig allowed to join Napoli in the January transfer window.

Given he is more of a defensive-minded player, it's difficult to attach too much importance to his absence from an attacking perspective, but even the smallest change can have a ripple effect – after all, Leipzig averaged 2.9 goals per match with him in the starting XI and just 1.7 without him.

Their win percentage also takes a dip from 65 to 44.4 per cent when Demme has not been in the line-up.

They averaged 2.2 points each match when the German started, but that plummets to 1.6 if he has been absent.

 

Bayern back in business

For a time in the first half of the season, it seemed possible we could be in for a Bundesliga title race without Bayern. However, last season provided a cautionary tale.

Bayern eventually came good in the 2018-19 campaign, finishing strongly enough to win the title by two points despite Borussia Dortmund – who ended up second – holding a nine-point lead over them at the end of the 15th matchday.

Statistically, there were only negligible differences between how Bayern performed before and after last season's winter break, but this term there are notable improvements, even if there is a smaller sample of games to look at post-break.

Big-chance conversion is up from 40 per cent to 53; shooting accuracy is now 64 per cent when it was 51; they're averaging four goals per game compared to 2.8 and conceding one every match, as opposed to 1.2.

Whereas last season Bayern appeared to simply profit off Dortmund's collapse, this term there is early evidence of genuine improvement.

With that coming off the back of several uninterrupted weeks of working with their new coach, Hansi Flick, it seems a leadership change might be paying dividends.

The opening round of fixtures in this year's Six Nations did not disappoint.

Wales served up a feast of tries to kick things off, the defending champions showing a cutting edge as they thrashed poor Italy 42-0 in Cardiff.

The score was far closer at the Aviva Stadium, though, as Ireland edged out Scotland. New captain Johnny Sexton was the hero for the hosts, scoring all their points in a hard-fought 19-12 triumph. Next up: Wales.

England, meanwhile, got their just deserts following a shocking start against France. Failing to score a point in the opening half of a game in the tournament for the first time since 1988 left Eddie Jones' side with too much to do in Paris, Les Bleus delighting the home crowd by holding on for a 24-17 win on Sunday.

So, what will be on the menu for the second week? With help from Opta, we whet your appetite for the upcoming games.

 

Ireland v Wales

- Wales have lost just one of their last five Six Nations games against Ireland (W3, D1). However, their solitary defeat in that spell came the last time they travelled to Dublin in the tournament (2018).

- As for Ireland, they have an outstanding home record, losing just two of the last 22 Tests they have played in front of their own fans (W19, D1). Those defeats? Against New Zealand (November 2016) and England (February 2019).

- Wales gained the most metres (563) of any side in last weekend's opening round, ahead of Ireland (413). Wales also topped the charts for clean breaks (12) and defenders beaten (26, level with Scotland and France).

- Ireland's Jordan Larmour made the most carries (19) and metres (138) of any player last weekend, while Wales' Leigh Halfpenny ranked second in both categories (17 carries, 107 metres).

- Josh Adams crossed for a hat-trick against Italy, taking him to 13 tries in Test rugby since the beginning of 2019. That tally is two more than any other player has managed over that same period of time.


Scotland v England

- Scotland are unbeaten in their last two Six Nations matches against England (W1, D1), this after losing seven in a row before that. Not since 1982-1984 have Scotland gone unbeaten in three straight Calcutta Cup fixtures (W2, D1).

- Only once since 2000 have England suffered successive defeats to open a campaign (2005), but they have lost five of their last seven away outings, including the last two.

- England won 17 of their 18 lineouts in the defeat to France, their 94 per cent success rate the best of any side. In contrast, Scotland's 78 per cent success rate was the worst out of the nations.

- Stuart Hogg beat eight defenders against Ireland, more than any other player in week one. Team-mate Jonny Gray excelled in defence, ending as the joint-top tackler (22, level with Bernard Le Roux).

- Owen Farrell is 20 points away from reaching 900 for England in Test rugby. His highest haul in an international match came against Scotland in 2017, as he landed seven conversions and four penalties to finish with 26.


France v Italy

- France have won 18 of their 20 clashes with Italy in the Six Nations (L2) – scoring victories in each of their 10 home games in that run. They have averaged four tries per game against the Azzurri in the Championship, too.

- Italy hold an unwanted record, having now lost their last 23 Six Nations games. No other side has lost more than 17 consecutive games in Five or Six Nations history.

- France were not flush with possession in the match against England, yet they conceded the fewest metres (224) and clean breaks (6), as well as making the most tackles (182).

- Only England's Maro Itoje (44) hit more rucks in the opening round of this year's Six Nations than France duo Gregory Alldritt (43) and Charles Ollivon (37, level with Peter O'Mahony). Alldritt hit the most defensive rucks of any player (25) and slowed the opposition ball down on 16 occasions at the breakdown.

- France are beginning a Six Nations campaign with two successive home games for the first time since 2016, which also happens to be the last time they began with back-to-back victories.

Even when you consider the well-reported exit clause in his contract, until recently the idea of Lionel Messi leaving Barcelona for another club was virtually unthinkable.

But this week friction has started to appear, with Messi publicly calling out Barca director of football Eric Abidal for bad-mouthing players in an interview, saying that "many players weren't satisfied nor working hard and there was also an internal communication problem" before Ernesto Valverde's sacking.

Messi's forthright response on Instagram said the "sports management must also assume their responsibilities" and suggested Abidal should name specific players if he is willing to criticise them, otherwise "we are all getting dirtied and feeding things that are said but aren't true".

Barca have since assured – via Spain's sports newspapers – that all is well, the pair have reconciled and Abidal will keep his job, but that is unlikely to dispel concern among supporters, particularly following further reports several other clubs have registered an interest.

Nevertheless, arguably for the first time ever, the prospect of Messi leaving does not seem an impossibility, particularly given a contract clause allows him to leave for free – but where would that leave Barca?

A BRUTAL GENIUS

Declaring Messi important to Barcelona would be an understatement akin to saying the Titanic was big. After all, he's helped them win 34 trophies.

Messi made his breakthrough in the 2004-05 season and his impact has been almost beyond comprehension. If the six-time Ballon d'Or winner isn't the greatest footballer of all-time, good luck making a case for anyone else.

He has gone on to play a role in 864 goals (622 goals, 242 assists) in 711 matches across all competitions, a truly astounding feat.

One gets an even greater perspective of his influence when considering how much of Barca's overall total that equates to.

Across the same period, the Blaugrana have scored 2,241 times, meaning he has had a hand in 39 per cent of all of their goals over a period of almost 16 years – including his first season when he featured on just nine occasions.

Since the 2007-08 campaign, his first with more than 20 involvements, that figure shoots up to 44 per cent – or 804 of Barca's 1,812 goals in that time.

ONE-MAN TEAM?

Given some of the players he has featured alongside, it is probably a step too far to suggest Barca have been a one-man team since Messi made a first-team role his own.

However, there can be little denying he has often carried them and no one else has had a remotely comparable impact.

Over the past 12 seasons, Messi has finished as Barca's leading scorer across all competitions in all but one - 2015-16 when Luis Suarez plundered 59.

His best was that remarkable 2011-12 campaign when he scored 73 goals across all fronts, while a haul of 29 assists took him to 102 involvements - 54 per cent of the team's total.

IRREPLACABLE?

Where do you even start when planning to replace a player who has been directly involved in almost 50 per cent of your club's goals in a 12-and-a-half-year period?

One would hope for Barca's sake they have some form of contingency plan, but even if they do, it's difficult to imagine them being able to buy anyone anywhere near as influential.

Messi is more than a mere footballer – Barca teams for more than a decade have been built with the purpose of getting the best out of him, while he is virtually unrivalled both as a creator and finisher.

Neymar is the obvious candidate to replace Messi when the time comes, as he does offer a similar blend of deadliness and craft, although Barca's financial constraints are well-documented and it's hard to see how they could afford him at the moment, even without Messi's wage.

They may opt to go down the route of signing a more singled-minded attacker, such as Kylian Mbappe or Lautaro Martinez, but again, certainly in the case of the former, affordability may be an issue.

Even if Antoine Griezmann manages to belatedly blossom in Barcelona colours, Messi's eventual departure will leave a gaping chasm that their current squad is unequipped to fill.

Putting together a post-Messi Barca could just be the single most fascinating rebuilding job in football history – but Josep Maria Bartomeu and Abidal will be clinging on to the hope that won't be for another few years yet.

Manchester City and West Ham are each struggling to match expectations as they prepare to do battle on Sunday, with the Premier League champions 22 points adrift of Liverpool as the Hammers toil in the relegation zone.

City suffered a sixth league defeat at Tottenham last week – matching the combined total number of losses from their previous two campaigns – while West Ham let a two-goal lead slip to draw with Brighton and Hove Albion at home.

Dropping points from winning positions has been a frustrating theme of West Ham's season – 19 is a league high – as they have failed to secure victory in eight of the 14 matches in which they have scored first.

A trip to City is not exactly what David Moyes needs right now either, as West Ham have a miserable record at the Etihad Stadium.


PEP PERFECT AGAINST HAMMERS

City have won the sides' past seven league meetings – scoring 23 and conceding three – and manager Pep Guardiola has beaten West Ham on each of the eight occasions he has faced them in all competitions.

That record matches his best 100 per cent return against any opponent, also beating Malaga and Watford eight times out of eight, and the former Barcelona coach will relish the opportunity to down West Ham once more.

The Hammers did win at the Etihad in September 2015, but they have collected just four of a possible 39 points at the stadium. Not since December 2001 – against Manchester United – have they won away at the Premier League champions.

Keeping it tight will be key for the visitors, as they have not won any of their past 16 league games in which they have conceded. However, West Ham's most recent clean sheet against City in the league came way back in November 2012.

Meanwhile, Raheem Sterling will hope to use this game to get back on track. Although he has not scored since December, the England star has been involved in 11 goals in seven Premier League appearances against West Ham.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: DECLAN RICE V RODRI

Declan Rice's second season as a Premier League regular has not been quite as convincing as his first, but he has still played every minute for West Ham in the top flight this term, and the England international's battle against Rodri could be key this week.

West Ham have certainly kept Rice busy, the midfielder making 3.1 tackles and 2.0 interceptions per 90 minutes – 78 and 51 respectively in total.

Rodri has also been handed a prominent role in the middle for City, with Fernandinho often played in defence, but he enjoys far more time on the ball than Rice.

While only averaging 1.9 tackles and 0.96 interceptions per 90 minutes, the Spain international plays 86.9 passes – to Rice's 47.6 – and creates 1.3 chances.

It will be up to Rice to disrupt Rodri, yet the City star actually wins more aerial duels than this week's opponent – 2.4 versus 1.4 per 90 – and has conceded 1.6 fouls per 90, settling into the physicality of the English game seamlessly.

FORM GUIDE

City last suffered consecutive league losses in December 2018 and West Ham would need to end a five-match winless run in the top flight – their worst under Moyes – to inflict another defeat on Guardiola's men.

The Hammers have been beaten in each of their past three away league matches, yet their most recent two trips to 'big six' opposition yielded 1-0 victories at Tottenham and Chelsea.

Former manager Slaven Bilic oversaw a sequence of three straight away wins against 'big six' opponents in 2015, with City the third side West Ham defeated.

City's attack has remained a potent force at home, scoring 2.8 goals per game over a 32-match stretch in which only Wolves – 2-0 away winners this season – prevented the hosts from scoring.

However, City have kept a clean sheet in just 33 per cent of their league games at the Etihad this term.

HISTORY SAYS...

As well as collecting win after win against West Ham, City tend to hit plenty of goals too, scoring four or more times in four of their seven straight victories over the Hammers.

In fact, five of the most recent 16 occasions on which West Ham have conceded four or more have come against City.

City have scored in each of their past 17 games against West Ham in all competitions, tallying 50 to their opponents' 11 in total over that stretch.

And West Ham's return of just one victory at the Etihad in 13 games sees City's home rank alongside Liverpool's Anfield (23 matches) and Leeds United's Elland Road (10) as a stadium the London club have visited at least 10 times in the Premier League but only tasted victory at once.

It's third-and-three in the first offensive series of Super Bowl LIV and Patrick Mahomes' pass to Damien Williams in the flat falls incomplete.

Even those with a passing interest in the NFL are not too surprised. The Kansas City Chiefs have been slow starters in these playoffs. They spotted the Houston Texans a 24-point lead in the Divisional Round and then trailed the Tennessee Titans by 10 in the AFC Championship Game.

Ethan Cooperson, a senior research analyst for the broadcast support team at Stats Perform, knows the estimated 40 million listeners tuned into Westwood One's play-by-play caller Kevin Harlan and analyst Kurt Warner desire more than just an observation that it takes Mahomes and Co. a while to get going.

On this occasion, Cooperson and the team have trawled the Stats Perform database to recognise a pattern: Kansas City have now gone three-and-out on each of their three opening drives in the playoffs having done so only twice in the regular season, when they were the NFL's best at moving the chains on third down.

It is one example of the type of data nugget that Cooperson, sat next to Harlan and Warner in the upper reaches of Miami's Hard Rock Stadium, writes down on pieces of paper to pass across to the Westwood One commentary duo throughout the 54th edition of the Super Bowl.

"You have to think quickly, think on your feet," Cooperson tells Omnisport before the game.

"You react to those things and figure out what's important, what trend is happening, what record might be broken or what might have happened that hasn't happened in a long time."

This game is a classic example. The aforementioned Kansas City running back Williams - who had fewer than 500 rushing yards in the regular season - ends up being a key part of the Chiefs' 31-20 success over the San Francisco 49ers.

Stats Perform's historical database can quickly identify Williams as the first player in Super Bowl history to have over 100 yards on the ground, a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown.

"People want to know, 'Well, how many times has this ever happened?'," Cooperson, who also works alongside the CBS broadcast team of Jim Nantz and Tony Romo, explains.

"People want to go deeper into those historical numbers. It's not enough anymore to be able to say, 'How many times has it happened this year?' We want to know, 'How many times has this ever happened?'"

He adds: "We're trying to look beyond what much of the media already has, digging into the Stats Perform database, the historical database, trying to find interesting trends that the public doesn't know about."

One of Cooperson's favourite recent examples was when running back Derrick Henry became just the fifth player in NFL history to score a touchdown on his birthday, doing so in Tennessee's Wild Card Round win over the New England Patriots.

Cooperson had an inkling that might happen, but it was a case of quick-thinking two weeks later when he worked out Titans tackle Dennis Kelly (321 pounds) was the heaviest man to catch a postseason touchdown in NFL history, a stat which got him a namecheck from Nantz on the air.

"I think back to when I first started doing TV with CBS in 2000 and some of the things that we got on there at that time, that we thought were really interesting and deep... Well, frankly, someone now in fourth grade could get access to some of those numbers," he says.

"So what we thought was great back then is very easy and simple to come by now.

"There's more demand, [we have to] dig deeper, find more stuff that goes deeper into the historical trends."

In the end, a rather mundane game came to life in the final quarter. The Chiefs scored the joint-most points (21) in the fourth quarter of a Super Bowl while becoming the first team in NFL history to overturn 10-point deficits in each of their three playoff wins.

Just like Mahomes and the Chiefs offense, Cooperson has to make adjustments as the game wears on.

"You don't want to get so involved in things that you have prepared or looked up prior to the game," Cooperson admits. 

"You very much want to react to what's happening."

Serie A strikers Romelu Lukaku and Ciro Immobile lead the line in FIFA Ultimate Team's latest Team of the Week.

Lukaku and Immobile are two of the form front men in European football, and the duo have earned recognition following their latest goalscoring exploits.

Inter striker Lukaku grabbed both goals in a 2-0 away win at Udinese on Sunday.

And Immobile matched that haul as Lazio thrashed SPAL 5-1, the Italy international's brace taking his 2019-20 league tally to 25 already.

The duo are far from the only big names in this week's selection, however, with Roberto Firmino, Jadon Sancho and Hugo Lloris also among the new in-form cards.

Find the full squad below.

TEAM OF THE WEEK

GK: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham) - 89

CB: Matthijs de Ligt (Piemonte Calcio/Juventus) - 87

LB: Alex Telles (Porto) - 87

CB: Yerry Mina (Everton) - 84

CM: Daniel Parejo (Valencia) - 88

RM: Angel Di Maria (Paris Saint-Germain) - 88

CAM: Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund) - 87

CM: Santi Cazorla (Villarreal) - 86

CF: Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) - 88

ST: Ciro Immobile (Lazio) - 90

ST: Romelu Lukaku (Inter) - 88

SUBSTITUTES

GK: Steve Mandanda (Marseille) - 83

CB: Kaan Ayhan (Fortuna Dusseldorf) - 81

RM: Robert Snodgrass (West Ham) - 81

ST: Francesco Caputo (Sassuolo) - 84

RW: Daniel Ginczek (Wolfsburg) - 82

ST: Kasper Dolberg (Nice) - 81

LW: Oussama Idrissi (AZ) - 81

RESERVES

CM: Alexandru Maxim (Gaziantep) - 79

CM: Alexandru Cicaldau (Universitatea Craiova) - 78

LM: Ahmet Engin (Duisburg) - 76

LM: Nathan Thomas (Carlisle United) - 74

LW: Said Benrahma (Brentford) - 80

Conor McGregor's hopes of a rematch with Khabib Nurmagomedov may have been dashed after his rival responded to reports of a second bout by saying "giving me $100 million for me to beat up that idiot again? I don't think that’s rational".

Khabib scored a convincing submission victory in their first showdown at UFC 229 in October 2018, a night that was marred by an ugly brawl between the two warring camps in the aftermath of their fight.

McGregor spent 15 months out of the Octagon following the defeat before returning to earn a first-round knockout over Donald Cerrone last month and the Irishman has spoken of his desire for another shot at unbeaten lightweight king Khabib.

This week, Khabib's manager Ali Abdelaziz told TMZ that Saudi Arabia would be willing to stump up a whopping $100m to host a Khabib fight if McGregor or Floyd Mayweather Jr were his opponent.

However, Khabib – who is scheduled to defend his lightweight belt against Tony Ferguson on April 18 – appeared uninterested in facing off with McGregor again.

"Why do I need that kind of money? There are so many organisations for example…there's not only football for the blind, there's Sambo and other sports," he said when speaking to reporters in his native Dagestan. 

"Let [UFC] give it to them, if they don't know what to do with the money. But giving me $100 million for me to beat up that idiot again? I don't think that's rational.

"What'll happen after a fight – no one knows. I don't worry about it. I'm surprised people even question me about a rematch.

"It seems that people want to continue the festivities after the fight. Everyone saw what happened in the octagon. I controlled the fight every step of the way.

"I did everything I wanted to do to him – he even gave up. How can we discuss a rematch? We can only talk about continuing festivities and making money."

Khabib said his only priority for the time being is focusing on Ferguson.

"I have a fight on April 18," he added. "A very serious fight. For the past month and a half I've been consistently training day and night. 

"I've gotten myself in good shape, to where I'm supposed to be 70 days before a fight. I feel great."

A 5-2 defeat to Merseyside rivals Liverpool on December 4 left Everton in the Premier League relegation zone and facing the realistic prospect of a fight for top-flight survival.

The loss at Anfield proved to be the final straw for Marco Silva, who has flattered to deceive with Watford and now Everton following a spell at Hull City that he was largely praised for, despite suffering relegation.

Ten games on, and with a helping hand from interim boss Duncan Ferguson along the way, Carlo Ancelotti has ninth-placed Everton eyeing Europa League football next season.

The Toffees have lost one of their past 10 league games - seven of those under Ancelotti - compared to eight defeats in Silva's final 11 matches.

Indeed, only Merseyside rivals Liverpool have won more points over that time than Everton's 19, suggesting the Italian coach is well on course to transforming their fortunes.

Ahead of Saturday's visit of Crystal Palace, a side they are unbeaten against in 10 league meetings, we used Opta data to look at what exactly has changed under Ancelotti.


 

CALVERT-LEWIN AND RICHARLISON LEADING THE WAY 

Everton have scored in all seven league games during Ancelotti's short time at the club, netting 11 times in total at an average of 1.6 goals per game. 

That is in comparison to 20 goals in 18 games prior to the veteran manager's arrival - 1.1 per match - which is a clear improvement. 

Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been responsible for five of those 11 goals and Richarlison - absent for a couple of games with a knee injury - has also chipped in with two. 

Fellow attacker Moise Kean finally got off the mark in the 2-2 draw with Newcastle United, while Theo Walcott scored for the first time this season last time out. 

Many aspects of the Toffees' play has changed over the past six weeks, arguably none more so than the way they try to create opportunities for their attacking players. 

Everton's build-up attacks - an open play sequence containing 10 or more passes that either ends in a shot or at least one touch in the box - has increased from 1.2 per game to 2.3.

Direct attacks have dropped from 1.6 to 1.4 each match by comparison, meaning Ancelotti has got his side passing the ball more and - even more importantly - doing something with it at the end of attacking moves.

MORE CHANCES BEING CREATED 

Everton used a back five in Silva's final two games - defeats to Leicester City and Liverpool - but have since reverted to a 4-4-2, spearheaded by the ever-present Calvert-Lewin. 

Despite the shift in system and more emphasis on passing the ball around the pitch, there is still a reliance on set-pieces, counter-attacks and crosses into the box for their goals. 

That was highlighted in the dramatic win at Watford last weekend when Yerry Mina twice scored from a corner and Walcott rounded off a swift counter late on.

Many Evertonians will argue their side still lack a creator, which could be down to Ancelotti's reluctance to tweak his formation slightly. 

But as the Opta data shows, Everton are now creating significantly more big chances - from an average of 1.9 per game before Ancelotti to 2.9 in the seven games since. 

The Merseyside club's expected goals figure has also risen from 1.3 to 1.9 in seven games under the Italian, so improvements have been made in that regard as well.

LESS FOCUS ON PRESSING 

If Ancelotti has managed to get more out of his attack, the same is true at the opposite end of the field. In fact, it could be argued he has improved both aspects in equal measure. 

In perfect symmetry to the average goals-for stat, Everton have conceded 1.1 per game under Ancelotti compared to 1.6 before - a large number of those coming via set-pieces. 

Everton are tackling less and intercepting at an almost identical rate, yet they have two clean sheets in seven games, compared to two in their previous 10 outings.

One tweak that could explain this relative improvement is the number of pressed sequences, defined as an opposition move of three or fewer passes that ends within 40 metres of their own goal. That figure stood at 15.4 under Silva and Ferguson but has since dropped to 11.9. 

Combine that with the decline in high turnovers and it seems clear Ancelotti has told his players to focus less on pressing and more on keeping their shape.

The performances may have been mixed on the face of it, but Ancelotti is slowly transforming this Everton side and could have them aiming higher than the Europa League with more time and investment.

In a surprising turn of events, Supreme Soul has been cleared of having tick virus marker after a recent test was administered.  The horse has been stranded in the United States since December.

The future is certainly bright for the Kansas City Chiefs after they were crowned Super Bowl LIV champions on Sunday.

A 31-20 victory over the San Francisco 49ers at Miami's Hard Rock Stadium earned veteran Andy Reid his first ring as head coach, while quarterback Patrick Mahomes became the youngest player to be named both MVP - an honour he won a year ago - and Super Bowl MVP in NFL history.

With Mahomes just 24, the Chiefs will have aspirations of dominating for the foreseeable future and replicating the two dynasties the New England Patriots and Tom Brady enjoyed with six Lombardi Trophies across two decades.

However, winning back-to-back Super Bowls is no mean feat - no team has done it since the Patriots 16 years ago - so we take a look at which teams could prevent Kansas City from winning it all again in Tampa Bay next February.

BALTIMORE RAVENS

The best team in the NFL's regular season fell at the first hurdle in the playoffs as the 14-2 Ravens were upset at home by the Tennessee Titans.

That was a deflating note to end on for quarterback Lamar Jackson, who was voted the NFL's MVP by unanimous vote 24 hours before Mahomes won his first ring.

Jackson is just 23, most of the Ravens' star players are expected to return and coordinators Greg Roman and Wink Martindale will likely be back alongside Coach of the Year John Harbaugh.

If Jackson is able to replicate or even exceed what he did in his first full year as the starter, the Ravens might be bound for Tampa next year.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Long live the kings? Don't count on it.

The 2019 season felt like the end of an era as Father Time looked he had finally caught up with 42-year-old quarterback Brady.

Yet those who have written off New England in the past have often ended up looking incredibly foolish.

The Patriots have 19 straight winning seasons, the best head coach in the game in Bill Belichick and had the NFL's number one defense in 2019. Brady's future remains uncertain but one final push for a Lombardi is certainly not beyond the realms of possibility.

 

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

The nearly men of the past three seasons; Saints fans have been crushed by a trio of playoff defeats featuring walk-off plays.

New Orleans will believe they will be playing January football again after three straight seasons with double-digit wins.

Sean Payton remains one of the preeminent offensive minds, Michael Thomas broke the single-season record for receptions in 2019 and an underrated defense complements a free-scoring offense.

At 41, Drew Brees' career is coming to an end, but, presuming he decides to return next season, the Saints will surely be contending again.

 

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

The Steelers only went 8-8 in 2019 but San Francisco's transformation from 4-12 to 13-3 and a Super Bowl berth is evidence of how the NFL can quickly turn on its head.

What should give Steelers fans cause for optimism is that they won eight games without their starting quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger.

Roethlisberger was still playing at an elite level prior to his 2019 season-ending injury, leading the league in passing yardage with a career high 5,129 yards in 2018.

Combine that with an impressive young defense and a head coach tried and tested in the postseason and you have the recipe for another Super Bowl run.

ARIZONA CARDINALS

A left-field suggestion, sure, but look at the significant strides both Mahomes and Jackson took in their second years in the league.

Offensive Rookie of the Year Kyler Murray believes he can make a similar leap in 2020 and, if he can, look out.

Arizona's offense under rookie head coach Kliff Kingsbury hummed at times in going 5-10-1 in 2019 and the addition of more weapons in free agency would significantly aid Murray's development.

Their biggest problem, beyond fixing a porous defense, is finding a way to come out on top in a division that contains the NFC's last two Super Bowl representatives - the 49ers and Los Angeles Rams - as well as postseason regulars the Seattle Seahawks.

Sofia Kenin sent shock waves around Melbourne by winning the Australian Open 16 years after esteemed coach Rick Macci was jolted by the same "Sonic Boom" in Florida.

Kenin bolted to her maiden grand slam with a 4-6 6-2 6-2 victory over Garbine Muguruza on Saturday at the age of 21.

The American prodigy took out world number one and home favourite Ash Barty in the semi-final before downing Muguruza in her first major final on Rod Laver Arena.

Not many tipped Kenin to win the first slam of the year, but the Russia-born 14th seed's triumph came as no surprise to Macci ​– who was staggered by her ability and attitude when he gave a first coaching lesson at his academy in Boca Raton.

The United States Professional Tennis Association Hall of Famer told Omnisport: "She came to me at five years old and the very first lesson I gave her, her ability to focus and just the way she was locked in already mentally was really startling.

"For most players that's the last piece of the puzzle, so that was the first the first thing that jumped out at me.

"Even though the racket was almost as big as her, I had her take the ball right off the bounce and she did it so easily, it was innate timing. You can teach people timing, but it can be hard to take in.

"So right after that I'm going 'what is this?' Mentally, there is a focus that I have never seen in a child this young and her hand-eye coordination just to take the ball right off the bounce. I said 'this girl is the scariest little creature I've ever seen'.

"I knew it straight away, then as time went on I said she'd be top 10 in the world by age 20 and win many grand slams, I was a year off but I think it was the age-eligibility rule that held her back a little bit.

"When she started competing, even at aged seven, her thirst for competition was just so uncanny. She was so competitive and she would say 'I never lost, I just ran out of time'.

"Every time she lost, and I had her play boys a lot even though she was a little pip-squeak, the next day or that afternoon she'd want to play them again.

"It was a like a mosquito that wouldn't leave me alone but you want that, you want people to feel pain and want to come back for more.

"To already have that inside of you when are all about the competition, that is how you handle pressure better and that has been in there since five years old, so this doesn't surprise me at all."

Kenin's father, Alex, took his daughter to the Rick Macci Tennis Academy knowing Macci played a huge part in nurturing the talents of the likes of Serena and Venus Williams, Andy Roddick, Jennifer Capriati and Maria Sharapova.

Macci was so struck by the newest major winner's natural talent he gave her a nickname that is very apt given the rapid progress she has made.

"At a young age people were calling her Sofia, Sonia. Just the way she played I combined the two and called her Sonic and then when she picked it up off the bounce it would be boom, so her nickname has always been Sonic Boom," the Ohio native added.

"Here we are a lot of these things the media people can see now on the big stage, this is what was unfolding aged five, six, seven, eight years old."

Antoine Griezmann said he can do it. Quique Setien thinks Ousmane Dembele can do it. But is Ansu Fati best placed to fill in for Luis Suarez at Barcelona?

The 17-year-old was one of Ernesto Valverde's final plus points for the club, the former head coach handing a chance to the youngster that has allowed him to go from La Masia hopeful to Lionel Messi strike-partner in a matter of months.

With Suarez not expected to return until the season is pretty much over, Barca were expected to sign a number nine in the transfer window. The fact that they didn't is something the board will have to explain, but another time. Sunday's win over Levante was all about Ansu.

Griezmann might have been deployed as the centre-forward, but Fati was the most threatening player on the pitch. Records tend to fall every few weeks in this player's life: Barca's second-youngest LaLiga player, youngest league goalscorer, youngest Champions League player, youngest Champions League goalscorer, and youngest to score and assist in the same LaLiga match.

Now, he has another: at 17 years and 94 days old, he is the youngest player to score two goals in a single LaLiga match in the competition's history. More importantly for Barca, this was no fun-filled cameo with the team cruising to victory - this was a match-winning performance, a double to secure a 2-1 win that could have been more comfortable had others shown Fati's clinical touch.

Only Messi managed more shots (10) and more efforts on target (six) than Fati (five and two). Barca's captain was also the only player to better Fati for chances created (seven, compared to three). It should come as no surprise that Messi set up both goals, the first with a particularly sumptuous throughball.

Perhaps more impressively, no Barca player made more tackles than Fati (four), with Gerard Pique closest on two. That paints a picture of an attacking player not afraid to shirk responsibilities when it comes to pressing defenders and helping Barca sustain pressure in the opposition half.

Of course, no amount of hard work from a forward will excuse a failure to stick the ball between the white posts, but that is a quality Fati has never lacked. His first goal showcased his lightning pace but also a surprising level of strength, as he shoved away his marker before composedly slotting beneath goalkeeper Aitor Fernandez with his right foot. His second underlined what he makes him such a threat: unpredictability. Messi played the ball into feet this time, and Fati shifted to his left before drilling in a low shot through Aitor, who could have done better.

The ability to score with either foot with ease keeps defenders wary and makes it significantly harder for opposition teams to prepare containment plans. A determined work ethic lets centre-backs know they will never be given a moment's peace when this forward is on the pitch. A good understanding with Messi is a pretty useful bonus.

Suarez has all these qualities; it seems Fati does, too. Maybe Barca didn't need a new striker after all.

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