EPL

Man United's Pogba watches Butler & Heat in Miami

By Sports Desk November 16, 2019

Manchester United star Paul Pogba watched Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat in NBA action.

Pogba is nearing a United comeback, having been sidelined with an ankle problem since late September.

The Red Devils midfielder – who had an ankle cast removed earlier this month – made the most of the international break, travelling to the United States.

France international Pogba was in attendance as the Heat beat the New Orleans Pelicans 109-94 in Miami.

A friend of Heat star Butler, Pogba was gifted a Heat jersey during the clash at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Pogba – who continues to be linked with an Old Trafford exit amid interest from Real Madrid and former club Juventus – has made just five Premier League appearances this season.

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    NBA commissioner Adam Silver is concerned positive coronavirus tests may penetrate the Orlando bubble ahead of the league's planned return.

    The 2019-20 NBA season is set to restart via a 22-team format at the Disney World complex in Orlando, Florida on July 30 after the campaign was halted due to COVID-19 in March.

    However, there are concerns after Brooklyn Nets star Spencer Dinwiddie returned a second positive test for coronavirus – ruling him out of the season.

    While Silver expects COVID-19 cases, he told Fortune Brainstorm Health: "We won't be surprised when they first come down to Orlando if we have some additional players test positive.

    "What would be most concerning is once players enter this campus and then go through our quarantine period, then if they were to test positive or if we were to have any positive tests, we would know we would have an issue."

    "We would know that there's, in essence, a hole in our bubble or that our quarantine or our campus is not working in some way," Silver added. "So that would be very concerning."

    "We began testing all our teams roughly two weeks ago and as we reported we had a significant number of positive cases," he said. "I think that is more a representation of what is happening around the country."

    "So on paper, and dealing with our experts, this should work. But we shall see. I'm confident based on the positive cases we are seeing from our players and the general public around the country that it will be safer on this campus than off this campus in part because we are going to be doing daily testing.

    "But again, this virus has humbled many, so I am not going to express any higher level of confidence than we are following the protocols, and we hope it works as we designed it."

    Silver continued: "I think we do have the ability to trace, of course to try to understand where that positive case came from.

    "We can actually analyse the virus itself and try to track whether there is more than one case, if it's, in essence, the same virus and same genetic variation of the virus that is passed from one player to another or two people have gotten it on the campus independently. So those are all things that we are looking at.

    "Certainly if we had any sort of significant spread within our campus, we would be shut down again."

    The Milwaukee Bucks led the NBA with a 53-12 record prior to the league's postponement.

    July 30 will see the New Orleans Pelicans-Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers-Los Angeles Clippers headline the NBA's comeback.

  • Pioli not concerned about Milan future after stunning Juventus Pioli not concerned about Milan future after stunning Juventus

    Stefano Pioli was in no mood to ruminate on his Milan future after leading an incredible fightback to defeat Serie A leaders Juventus 4-2 at San Siro.

    Milan looked set to become defending champions Juve's latest victims as the Rossoneri trailed to a wonderful individual Adrien Rabiot goal and Cristiano Ronaldo's swift second on Tuesday.

    But a remarkable turnaround saw Milan score three times in the space of six minutes through Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Franck Kessie and Rafael Leao, with Ante Rebic then securing the points after an awful Alex Sandro error.

    Milan are unbeaten since the season resumed, also beating Juve's title rivals Lazio last week, yet it still appears Pioli will not be at the helm next season.

    Widespread reports claim former RB Leipzig boss Ralf Rangnick will be installed as both head coach and technical director.

    Pioli will not be distracted, though, telling DAZN post-match: "I don't think about what's going to happen on August 3. I'm focused on what we're doing.

    "I hope to hit the target I was called for. I don't think about August 3rd; I like to train, I'm fine here. I can't think about the future and situations that don't depend on me."

    Pioli, who saw Milan score four goals against Juve for the first time since 1989, added of the win: "I congratulate my players on a great day and a great victory.

    "The work done at Milanello was important. The team is doing well, playing well, and I'm happy even if we haven't done anything yet.

    "In 20 days, we play for everything. We think of Napoli [next]. There is satisfaction but great concentration. Everything we are doing needs to be improved. The level is high - if you make a mistake then you pay for it.

    "The work of the staff was important. We were good at taking advantage of the penalty incident. We did well on the pitch.

    "The first half was balanced, we were surprised. The team mentality is making a difference and we must keep going."

    Rangnick's mooted dual-role would also impinge on Milan great Paolo Maldini's position at the club.

    However, Maldini – the existing technical director – took a similar tone to Pioli as he spoke ahead of the Juve game, insisting his future was not an immediate concern.

    "I don't know [about the future]," Maldini told DAZN. "I want to get to the end of this season in August by concentrating on the matches and the goals we have set ourselves."

  • Ronaldo, Ibrahimovic still box office as San Siro stages Hollywood twist Ronaldo, Ibrahimovic still box office as San Siro stages Hollywood twist

    The touching pre-match tribute to Ennio Morricone, the great Italian film composer who died, aged 91, on Monday, fitted nicely for what was about to unfold at San Siro.

    Possibly for the last time in their decorated careers, Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic – two of the most destructive gunslingers in modern European football – were ready to do battle as Milan and Juventus lined up.

    More so than perhaps any other players of their generation, Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic's on-field deeds have frequently carried cinematic qualities. From the rippling physiques and inimitable preening, to their seamless combination of brute force and artistry, both men scream Hollywood.

    Characters who polarise the audience were always the best pegs for Morricone's irresistibly lush arrangements and Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic are good, bad and ugly to many all at the same time. If Lionel Messi's lack of overt edge leaves you cold, these two have always been your guys. Your antiheroes.

    While Ronaldo and Messi existed unrelentingly in one another's orbit for the best part of a decade, the fleeting and often explosive addition of Ibrahimovic to the equation has usually left fans wanting more.

    It is churlish to bemoan the lack of spectators given the ongoing gravity of the global situation but some occasions miss a live audience more than others. This potentially final installment of a flashpoint rivalry was one of those.

    Although this match eventually made a case of its own, they were never likely to top the stupendous 2013 World Cup qualification play-off, where the pair scored all the goals over two legs that concluded with Portugal eliminating Sweden on away goals. Morricone could have gone to town on that one. Drama, tension, plot-twists, elation, despair. It had everything.

    Almost seven years on, each player is past the peak they revelled in back then, even if Ronaldo's absurd goal scoring numbers make a compelling counter-argument.

    The passage of time necessitates refinement. Today they are wily, all-knowing stars in complete control and happy to exist on the margins, rather than all-action leading men – more Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino than his Man With No Name pomp.

    This was their lot during a brooding first half. Ronaldo cut inside from the left win to thump a trademark dipping drive just beyond the far post. He was more frequently seen remonstrating with the officials, most notably when Ibrahimovic's penchant for martial arts was on display and his boot grazed the five-time Ballon d'Or winner's ear as he attacked a right-win set piece.

    Ibrahimovic twice brought routine saves from Wojciech Szczesny before breaking clear in stoppage time. 1-0? No, cut! Offside, and the deadlock remained.

    Tearing the length of the field to score goal-of-the-season contenders might no longer be Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic's game, but Adrien Rabiot happily made that his business in the 47th minute.

    The former Paris Saint-Germain midfielder barged Franck Kessie out of the way and nutmegged Theo Hernandez to cross the halfway line on the right wing. Rabiot then opened his elegant stride to breeze beyond Alessio Romagnoli and brought things to a thrilling crescendo. As Milan's defence scattered he unfurled a majestic left-footed strike into the top-right corner.

    A befuddled Rossoneri were struggling to regain composure – none too effectively in the case of Andrea Conti and Simon Kjaer, who got in each other's way defending Juan Cuadrado's raking ball.

    And there he was. Ronaldo, finger on the trigger. Goal 26 of the Serie A campaign was a formality and Juve were going 10 points clear of a faltering Lazio.

    Only, one man had other ideas. It was time for an audacious third-act twist almost too implausible for any composition.

    The VAR playback of the 62nd-minute scene did no favours for Leonardo Bonucci. Handball. Penalty. Of course Ibrahimovic stepped up. Of course he scored.

    There he was again four minutes later, that strapping back onto which you could probably project movies facing the Juventus goal. Ibrahimovic's penalty box presence was as booming as his lay-off was deft. Kessie was on hand for a redemptive finish, his earlier humiliation at the hands of Rabiot forgotten.

    Ibrahimovic then left the chaos, his part played perfectly. But Milan were not done as Ronaldo's compatriot Rafael Leao ensured 0-2 had become 3-2 in the space of five berserk minutes.

    If he'd been tasked with soundtracking this undulating drama, Morricone might have been tearing up his score at this point. At the very least, the keen Roma fan would have been disgruntled at the unlikely lifeline handed to Lazio's ailing Scudetto bid.

    A roof-falling-in error from Alex Sandro allowed Ante Rebic to complete a 4-2 triumph. Six goals, the perfect number.

    At full-time, Ibrahimovic strode around, a picture of satisfaction. Topless, of course. Just as Ronaldo, beaten and wounded, would have done had roles been reversed.

    Perhaps the veteran Swede will survive the behind-the-scenes ructions at Milan to return next season. Is another sequel with the intoxicating sound and colour of the tifosi as opposed to the eerie emptiness of now too much to ask?

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