Everybody loves an underdog, or so the saying goes, but Mike Tyson would probably disagree.

It was 30 years ago that the American powerhouse suffered a shock defeat to James 'Buster' Douglas, his perfect record ruined in stunning fashion.

The bout assumed top spot on the list of the greatest upsets in boxing history.

Here, Omnisport looks back on some of the sport's biggest surprises.

February 15, 1978: 'The Greatest' loses Spinks epic

Muhammad Ali was a 1-10 favourite when he first faced Leon Spinks, a man fighting professionally for only the eighth time, in Las Vegas.

After a titanic battle between boxing's biggest star and his unfancied opponent, Ali looked to have done just enough when the first scorecard was read out in his favour.

However, the two remaining judges decided Spinks was the winner, despite conceding almost two stones in weight to Ali. A rematch in September of that year produced the opposite result.
 

February 11, 1990: Iron Mike stopped by Buster Douglas

The Tokyo Dome played host to arguably THE biggest boxing upset in history, as Tyson lost his unbeaten record, which had read 37-0 with 33 KOs, to the unheralded Douglas.

Only one casino offered odds on Douglas winning the fight, his price a staggering 42-1. Yet that is what happened, with Tyson left to rue a lack of preparation for a contest he had presumed would prove a breeze.

'Iron Mike' was sent to the canvas in round 10, his aura of invincibility permanently shattered. In a tweet some 23 years later, Tyson, mastering the art of understatement, called it a "bad day at the office".


April 22, 2001: Rahman rocks Lewis

Hasim Rahman spent a month in South Africa, training at high altitude, ahead of his heavyweight world title fight with Lennox Lewis in Gauteng. In contrast, reigning champion Lewis was there only half as long, instead training in Las Vegas so he could film scenes for a cameo appearance in Ocean's Eleven.

Like Tyson before him, Lewis would pay a heavy price for his apparent over-confidence, as Rahman secured a spectacular knockout victory in the fifth round.

A subsequent rematch saw Rahman beaten in four, with a fiercely focused Lewis earning redemption.


March 8, 2003: Sanders dethrones Klitschko

Corrie Sanders was not expected to trouble WBO champion Wladimir Klitschko on German soil, yet the South African sensationally tore up the script.

Sanders caught the great Klitschko with a left hand late in the first round and knocked him to the canvas another three times in the brief but dramatic bout.

There were boos from an expectant crowd when Klitschko was stopped early in the second, with Sanders having only fought three rounds since being knocked out by Rahman in 2000.


June 1, 2019: Ruiz stuns Joshua

A late replacement, Ruiz shattered Anthony Joshua's American dream - and in the famous boxing venue of Madison Square Garden, too.

The portly California-born pugilist lived up to his nickname of 'The Destroyer', picked himself up off the canvas after being floored by Joshua to put the champion down twice before the end of an eventful third round.

Joshua gathered himself and kept on fighting, but Ruiz knocked him down twice early in the seventh before referee Mike Griffin stopped the fight with the Englishman back on his feet but looking shell-shocked.

Patrick Mahomes has made the same impact on the NFL that The Beatles did on music and the "rock star" Super Bowl MVP is well on his way to greatness with the same mindset as Pele.

That is according to Adam Cook, the man who nurtured the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback's phenomenal talent at Whitehouse High School in Texas.

Mahomes' stardom was catapulted to another stratosphere when he inspired the Chiefs' stunning 31-20 Super Bowl comeback victory over the San Francisco 49ers at Hard Rock Stadium on February 2.

The 2018 NFL MVP got the Chiefs out of a hole to end their 50-year wait for a Super Bowl triumph.

Cook witnessed Mahomes' ability in a variety of sports and saw his signal-calling qualities at close quarters in his roles as quarterback coach, offensive coordinator and head coach at Whitehouse.

Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury got Cook a ticket for what he described as "the experience of a lifetime" of seeing his former student's finest hour on a glorious Sunday in Miami.

Cook knew Mahomes was something special when he first coached him in the fifth grade and is not surprised to see him striking the right notes at the highest level.

Asked if the 24-year-old can become an NFL great, he told Omnisport: "No doubt about it, that is what you are seeing. It's something we kind of expect, I expect it for him.

"Any time you want to talk about the greats; Dan Marino never won the Super Bowl, some great players never achieved that. The discussion you get is they never did win the big one, well Patrick has been the league MVP, he's won a Super Bowl and won Super Bowl MVP.

"He's already established himself as a Hall of Famer. Those are the things you are going to look at, the numbers he has put up. But knowing he's only 24 years old, if he keeps doing what he's doing and keeps his head level right, keeps working like he's been doing, yes, he could go down as one of the greatest.

"Definitely in my mind he's becoming the face of the NFL. He's so exciting, he's so fun to watch. He's got good people around him and he is where he is now because of the decisions he has made in his life.

"There is nothing wrong with wanting to be great, it's just are you willing to pay the price for being in those positions? That's the key and Patrick has made sacrifices in his life.

"He's like a rock star, much like The Beatles. Their lives were never the same, they ultimately changed everything about rock. They influenced so much of what we listen to today and I think Patrick is doing that to the NFL. He's changing the way the game is played."

That will be music to the ears of Chiefs fans, as will Cook's comparison of their prized asset to the legendary Pele.

Cook, now athletics director at Whitehouse, added: "I spent a year looking into sports psychology and read some great stuff about Pele.

"It was never about holding the trophy up, it was about the rituals and doing those little things right so he could enjoy the game.

"He'd put a towel on his head before games and picture himself in Brazil as a young kid kicking the ball around, he'd visualise himself doing all those things he needed to do to win the game and not necessarily the end product of winning the game.

"I think Patrick has that same mindset. His mindset will be to go back to the work, making sure his body is right and making sure he has a long career and stays ahead of all the competition out there.

"He was good at whatever sport he played at school, but it shouldn't be forgotten that he put so much work in. You couldn't get him out of the gym, he would be throwing whenever he could. He just loved to play and get better.

"I know a couple of years ago the Kansas City Chiefs had to tell him to quit playing basketball, because he was out there dunking on people. If you get a ball out there he's going to compete.

"He's probably the greatest competitor I've ever been around."

When the Inter and Milan starting XIs lined up before a cacophonous San Siro on Sunday, there were all the usual sights.

Fierce, steely stares, necks being flexed, legs shaken out. Big-match anxiety writ large.

Then there was Zlatan Ibrahimovic, turning around wide-eyed to survey the scene and wearing a big grin.

Perhaps he knew all along. Or thought he did.

Ibrahimovic's return to this fixture was a blessing for Milan, largely because it diverted the attention away from the gulf that has opened up between themselves and their great rivals since Antonio Conte took charge of the Nerazzurri.

"He is a champion who gives Milan quality and charisma," Conte said of Ibrahimovic in the build-up, although even in acknowledging this he could scarcely have envisaged the first-half evisceration his title-aspirants would endure, before turning the tables to top the table with a 4-2 derby win for the ages.

Now 38, Ibrahimovic's frequent aggrandisement – which always seemed to pinball between self-deprecation and a yawing lack of self-awareness – has come to grate as much as it entertains.

It was easy to conclude a Milan marooned in mismanagement and mediocrity had bought into the myth rather than the aging man the wrong side of major knee surgery when they offered him a route back from his expected retirement home in Major League Soccer.

The Rossoneri entered Sunday's game seven places and 19 points shy of Inter, but yet to taste defeat in the seven matches since Ibrahimovic's second debut.

In this Derby della Madonnina – a fixture where he, of course, knows both sides of the divide – he was Milan's talisman.

Stefano Pioli's team drove forward from kick-off and there were 67 seconds on the clock when Ibrahimovic lashed over on the volley from Samu Castillejo's cross.

The most striking element of the veteran's early contribution was his capacity to elevate those around him. Castillejo always had someone to hit from the right flank and was a constant threat, while Ante Rebic looked more like the player from Croatia's run to the 2018 World Cup final as opposed to the beleaguered individual Milan were recently hoping to send packing back to Eintracht Frankfurt.

The twinkle-toed Hakan Calhanoglu was the pick of the bunch, rifling against the post after nine minutes and popping up with palpable menace across the final third thereafter, never far away from a shrewd pass or lay-off to Ibrahimovic.

Inter were struggling to get out of their own half and, in line with trepidation painted across a touchline-prowling Conte, they fell behind.

Of course Ibrahimovic was involved, muscling above Diego Godin to knock down Castillejo's cross for Rebic to scramble past a bizarrely hesitant Samir Handanovic.

A VAR review did not spare Godin, the sort of reprieve it is hard to imagine would sit well with the gloriously grizzled centre-back. In mano-e-mano combat he simply came off second best to an opponent on a mission.

If Ibrahimovic's role in the opener was about brute strength, for number two he resorted to stealth, stealing into space at the far post as Milan Skriniar's gaze was diverted to the ball. Soon enough it was behind him and being nodded into the net by the man of the moment. Arms aloft, script fulfilled.

Only Conte and his warriors in blue and black, with the blood of an undulating Scudetto race in their nostrils, had other ideas.

Antonio Candreva thumped goalwards in the 51st minute. Blocked. Marcelo Brozovic thumped harder. 2-1.

In a flash, it was all square as a darting Alexis Sanchez was played onside by Andrea Conti's heal and he cut back for Matias Vecino to score.

Godin supplied the pass to Sanchez and the sense of Inter's centre-backs being freed from their earlier Ibrahimovic ordeal was underlined by Stefan de Vrij heading home, putting them on course for the sweetest of victories.

Ibrahimovic thundered a long-range free-kick just wide, crashing it into the advertising hoardings with the same force Milan's earlier dreams met reality, and a towering header hit the post.

Having just about negotiated the man with the occasional God complex, Conte brought on Victor Moses to set up a fourth for the prolific Romelu Lukaku. It's 54 points apiece with Juventus at the summit and Inter, with goal difference in their favour, might just have taken a significant step towards their promised land.

He waited, and waited, and waited. And then Barcelona scored. And their world made sense again.

Lionel Messi might be without a goal of his own since January 30, but he showed in Sunday's enthralling win at Real Betis that he doesn't need to find the net himself to keep Barca's fate under his spell.

The champions' 3-2 LaLiga win at a raucous Benito Villamarin was a crucial tonic at the end of a miserable week in which exiting the Copa del Rey at the quarter-final stage to Athletic Bilbao was merely a footnote.

First came the latest setback to Ousmane Dembele, now likely to be out of action until the end of the season with a hamstring tendon injury. Then, technical secretary Eric Abidal was quoted accusing Barca players of downing tools during Ernesto Valverde's final weeks in charge.

Those incidents alone would have been enough to make this a troublesome week for Barca, especially since they failed to sign a Luis Suarez replacement in January and are now scrabbling around for emergency deals to compensate for Dembele's newest injury. Then Messi, as he has for his whole career as the world's finest footballer, took things to another level.

It was 'only' a social media post – but it was a social media post from Messi. The club captain, the greatest player in Barcelona history, the man who is esteemed for the limited off-field distractions he creates caused a storm as newsworthy as the weather front battering northern Europe this weekend.

Messi is no fool. He knew what sort of reaction he would provoke by calling out Abidal for "dirtying" Barca players. Said to have had enough of being accused of wielding ultimate power at Camp Nou, he dragged Barca into a full-blown crisis with a mere Instagram story. He will not need anyone to point out the irony.

It all meant Sunday's visit to Betis, where Barca boss Quique Setien won most of his acclaim as a coach, was a mere sideshow. And yet, because of Messi, a week that threatened to derail Barca's entire season ended in a victory that might just set them right back on track.

Messi, who can cancel his contract at the end of this season, has long been said to be keen to see Barca build a squad capable of winning LaLiga and the Champions League. He would be forgiven for having a few misgivings when the Catalans lined up in Seville with veteran midfielder Arturo Vidal as a false nine, long before Sergio Canales' opener from the penalty spot must have left him feeling fed up in the extreme.

So, he chose to change the landscape.

First, he gathered a pass from Frenkie de Jong, who had turned expertly into space under pressure in his own half before spreading the ball wide. And he waited, and waited, and waited – and then dropped a lofted pass right onto De Jong's chest, begging to be volleyed home. Barca were level, De Jong having suddenly morphed back into the midfield dynamo of Ajax last season, and all thanks to Messi's intervention.

After Nabil Fekir scored a fine second for Betis against the run of play, Barca were under pressure again. But Messi, with seconds to go before the break, looked through the chaos to the bigger picture. His clipped free-kick landed for Sergio Busquets to control and fire home.

With 18 minutes to go, Messi completed his hat-trick of assists. Another deep free-kick, another pinpoint delivery, and this time an emphatic header from Clement Lenglet made it 3-2.

Three goals from set-pieces is not the Setien way, not the Barca way, but it was just what the Catalans needed after this most unsettling of weeks – even if it reminded us all just how willingly they dance to Messi's tune.

Mind you, who else has his sense of timing?

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.

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