On this day in sport: The Olympics are reborn, Messi and Bayern go goal crazy

By Sports Desk April 06, 2020

There will be no Olympic Games in 2020, but 124 years ago saw the rebirth of the great sporting spectacle.

Arsenal were swept aside by the brilliance of Lionel Messi in a thrilling Champions League game at Camp Nou, while Bayern Munich brought an end to Borussia Dortmund's hopes of dethroning them in the Bundesliga.

Robert Parish set a record for the most NBA games appeared in, and Sri Lanka got their hands on the World Twenty20 trophy at the expense of India.

We look back at some of the standout sporting moments that have happened on this day.

 

1896 – The start of a new Olympic era

The ancient Greek tradition of the Olympic Games got back under way 1,500 years after they were outlawed by Roman Emperor Theodosius I in a bid to suppress paganism.

Frenchman Pierre de Coubertin was pivotal to their revival, spearheading the formation of the International Olympic Committee in 1894 and subsequently the first Games of the modern era, which were held in Athens.

A crowd of 60,000 people turned up for the start of a spectacle that saw 280 participants from 13 nations take part in 43 events.

 

1996 – 'The Chief' makes NBA history

In a meeting between the Charlotte Hornets and the Cleveland Cavaliers, towering center Parish played his 1,561st NBA game to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and set a new record.

He had 14 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three blocks in the 93-89 win over the Cavaliers.

Parish made his name with the Boston Celtics, with whom he won three NBA championships, and had made 1,611 appearances across 21 seasons when he called it quits after claiming his third ring with the Chicago Bulls in 1997.

 

2010 – Messi fires against Gunners

Arsenal came back from 2-0 down to draw the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona 2-2, and Nicklas Bendtner put the Gunners ahead in the return match at Camp Nou.

However, Messi flashed a stunning effort past Manuel Almunia two minutes later and, after slotting home a pass from Pedro, he had a hat-trick before the break thanks to a brilliant chip over the Arsenal goalkeeper.

An excellent solo effort sealed a 4-1 triumph in the 88th minute that sent Barca through to a semi-final with Jose Mourinho's Inter, who stunned them at Camp Nou and went on to claim the treble.

 

2014 – A T20 first for Sri Lanka

Some excellent death bowling from Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara limited India to a below-par 130-4 in a thrilling World T20 final in Dhaka.

Despite slipping to 65-3 in their chase, Sri Lanka surged to their first title by securing a resounding six-wicket victory with 13 balls remaining.

Kumar Sangakkara made an unbeaten 52 in his final T20I and Thisara Perera blasted 23 off 14 deliveries, which included three sixes.

 

2019 – Dortmund obliterated in Der Klassiker

Bayern's chances of clinching a seventh straight Bundesliga title were in danger of being blown apart when Dortmund arrived at the Allianz Arena for the 28th round of matches with a two-point lead at the top, though their advantage had stood at nine points in December.

The Bavarian giants made light work of Lucien Favre's side in a brutal display of supremacy, storming into a four-goal lead by half-time thanks to efforts from former Dortmund duo Mats Hummels and Robert Lewandowski, as well as Javi Martinez and Serge Gnabry.

Lewandowski tapped in a cross from Thomas Muller with a minute remaining to complete BVB's 5-0 humiliation, a result that ended their hopes of dethroning Bayern.

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    "Juve took a punt on me when I was younger and coming back was a dream of mine," he told reporters at his presentation.

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    Novak Djokovic is putting together a stellar year in a year like no other.

    The world number one heads into the French Open on the back of another title – at the Internazionali d'Italia – and carrying a 31-1 win-loss record in 2020.

    That '1' is also one he would prefer to forget, after being defaulted for hitting a linesperson with a ball in his fourth-round clash with Pablo Carreno Busta at the US Open.

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    While Roger Federer is sidelined, Rafael Nadal is back and the 'King of Clay' will take some stopping at Roland Garros.

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    Complete and utter dominance

    When you consider the manner of Djokovic's only loss in 2020, it has thus far been a year of complete dominance.

    The Serbian has won 72 of the 82 completed sets he has played, and none of those were dropped in his meetings with Nadal (ATP Cup) and Federer (Australian Open) this year.

    While Federer will miss the rest of 2020 after knee surgery, Nadal returned to action in Rome, where he lost to Diego Schwartzman in the quarter-finals. That was the Spanish great's first tournament since the ATP Tour season, suspended in March, resumed.

    The world's top 20 men have not been a problem for Djokovic so far this year. He is 12-0 against players ranked in the top 20, including 7-0 when playing top-10 players. Djokovic's last meeting with a top-10 opponent came in his final win over Stefanos Tsitsipas in Dubai in February.

    Djokovic – who has four ATP Tour titles in 2020 and also helped Serbia win the ATP Cup – has made his best start since an extraordinary 2011.

    It is just the second time in his illustrious career that he has won at least 31 of his first 32 matches in a year, having made an incredible 41-0 start nine years ago.

    Given Nadal's inferior record at Melbourne Park, it is no surprise the Spaniard has never managed such a start, while Federer got away strongly in 2005 and 2006, also going 31-1 before extending those runs to 35-1 and 33-1 respectively prior to his next losses.

    But after being defaulted at the US Open and with Wimbledon not held due to COVID-19, Djokovic will want another grand slam win at Roland Garros to truly make his form in 2020 count. If he can, it will mark his sixth year with at least two major victories, joining Federer in achieving that feat and moving clear of Nadal and Roy Emerson.

    And another piece of history could await. Djokovic is aiming to become the first man in the Open Era to win every grand slam twice, and just the third in history after Emerson and Rod Laver.

    The 41-0 start in 2011

    Nine years ago, Djokovic put together an extraordinary year on the back of a staggering start.

    He won his first 41 matches of 2011 before the run was ended by Federer in the French Open semi-finals.

    Djokovic won the Australian Open and titles in Dubai, Indian Wells, Miami, Belgrade, Madrid and Rome heading into Roland Garros.

    The streak included four wins over Nadal, three against Federer and two defeats of Andy Murray, and Djokovic would finish the incredible year with three grand slam titles.

    After a difficult ending to the campaign, he ended up with a 70-6 win-loss record, achieving a win percentage (92.1) he has only bettered once since – when he went 82-6 (93.2) in 2015.

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