"Just look at what we can do when we come together, THIS is England in 2020."

Five days had passed between Marcus Rashford asking Twitter followers for advice and a government U-turn promising £120million of investment in free school meals for disadvantaged children.

Five days to ask for help, lobby support, be told 'no', persevere, and finally, to paraphrase ex-England striker Gary Lineker, score the most important goal of his life.

Five days to change thousands of lives.

This is the England Rashford is shaping. As the Premier League returns to screens across the world after a three-month pause, Manchester United's number 10 is the ambassador it needs.

'HIS STORY RESONATES WITH A LOT OF PEOPLE'

United play Tottenham in north London on Friday, 99 days since their last game, a 5-0 Europa League thrashing of LASK. The wait has been far longer for Rashford, for whom carrying the Red Devils' attack became literally back-breaking labour in an FA Cup third-round replay win over Wolves on January 15.

It was feared the double stress fracture in his back would see him miss the rest of the season and perhaps Euro 2020. The coronavirus pandemic brought the campaign to a halt and gave Rashford the chance to work on his recovery, patiently and attentively, and few would begrudge that being the sole focus of his time in lockdown. It wasn't, of course.

In April, Rashford teamed up with FareShare, a charity providing meals to disadvantaged people. His own donation helped them reach a £100,000 target and started a snowball effect: supermarket chains got involved, and suddenly that target was £20million.

Rashford's considered campaigning kept up the momentum and brought the charity both vital funds and a platform to garner support. In May, he was given a Special Recognition Award by the High Sheriff of Manchester, Dr Eamonn O'Neal, for  "outstanding activity and contribution to the community".

"Marcus was nominated for showing great compassion for the vulnerable people in our community," Dr O'Neal told Stats Perform News. "He has used his name, position and reputation in a selfless manner to ensure that hot meals have been provided to many young people who may otherwise have gone hungry. He has raised a staggering amount of money and consequently, an enormous number of meals have been distributed. He has done this with humility and a deep understanding of the various levels of need experienced across Greater Manchester and beyond."

There were further gestures that flew under the radar: engaging with young fans via social channels, running an exercise session for kids stuck at home, learning sign language to judge a poetry contest for children hard of hearing. Former Manchester United striker Louis Saha thinks Rashford "identified the power he has" to help in a time of unprecedented uncertainty.

"He really structured it in the right way and this is what is needed in the community," Saha told Stats Perform. "It was done locally in a way that they can control how they've done it. It's really good. I'm a big fan and a lot of players should follow that example. Not everyone can do it because Rashford has a very unique platform in Manchester and I would say his story resonates with a lot of people, which is why it's a really good story."

On June 11, Rashford announced "amazing news": the FareShare target was reached, and three million people in the UK would benefit. But there was an addendum: "There is SO much more to do. Trust me when I say, I will keep fighting until no child in the UK has to worry about where their next meal is coming from. This is England in 2020 and families need help."

'I'M NOT SURE HE KNOWS THE ENORMITY OF WHAT HE'S DOING'

Before he joined United's academy at age seven, Rashford was one of a distressingly high number of children in the UK to depend upon free school meals. With schools closing amid the pandemic and a refusal to extend the scheme over the summer months, low-income families were at huge risk. The government stood firm in its decision until Rashford's persistence forced them to change tack and announce "a COVID summer food fund".

"It's unbelievable," Troy Townsend, head of development at anti-discrimination body Kick It Out, told Stats Perform. "He's basically called the government out and that's what it needed because there was going to be no movement on this.

"What this period of time has, I hope, really taught [Premier League] players is that there is a lot of strength and power behind them. Marcus is the standout story among many stories. 

"I'm not even sure he knows the enormity of what he's doing. It's genuine, it's from an experience he had as a youngster. Maybe after today, he'll realise the enormity of what he's done."

Townsend realises it well enough. As a former teacher in Leytonstone in east London when Rashford himself was still a schoolboy in Wythenshawe, he has seen first hand how the simple matter of where a child's next meal will come from can shape a young life.

"I remember once where there was a young girl coming with us for the first time and I told her to get her packed lunch and she just stood and looked at me. I thought, what's wrong? What're you doing? Go and get your packed lunch, we're on our way. And she said, 'Sir, I haven't got packed lunch'. And simple as it was, it broke me. But I had to think really quickly on my feet.

"The question back was probably wrong: 'Why haven't you got a packed lunch?'. And her answer was: 'My mum hasn't got bread.' I can tell you, even now, and this was over 10 years ago, it's breaking my heart. Luckily, you go to the school canteen and you say, 'This young lady needs a lunch', and then you put measures in place.

"It's not easy for any child to walk into a school environment and say: 'I need help because I haven't eaten.' So that's why, when I see what Marcus is doing, most people in the primary school system – particularly in a deprived area – would understand that there are children who would go up until probably six o'clock, unless they've taken a bit of food off a friend, who were embarrassed to speak up about their lack of food, water, and would probably not have come to school with any breakfast anyway, and the one meal they would get is the meal when they finally get home.

"There are times I've had to give children a pound. There's a chicken shop – it's the easiest thing to get for a pound, two bits of chicken and chips, or it was in my day, and you didn't think about, 'Hold on, they've got to go and run in a minute!'. You just wanted them to be fed.

"It's a tough thing to talk about. Those of us who get three, four meals a day and those little bits in between can feel how privileged we are because even in this country of ours, there are children that don't have those meals. That's why what Marcus is doing means so much, particularly to those who get it, but it will also have opened up so many eyes."

A PROPER LEADER

Since that explosive debut against Midtjylland five years ago, Rashford has been at the eye of the storm at Old Trafford.

His boyish, instinctive goalscoring knack endeared him to fans wearied to the point of mutiny by the turgid football in Louis van Gaal's final season. He sometimes looked cowed by the toxic bullishness of Jose Mourinho and there were a few disappointing games too many, such as the FA Cup final defeat to Chelsea in 2017, but there was still a sense of a young star trying to rise through a poisonous atmosphere.

While far from wholly successful, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's time in charge has at least pointed to a longer-term vision – one with Rashford at the forefront.

"There are definitely four or five players who are very important to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer," said Saha. "All those players who made that improvement process were very important, and I think for Rashford, the introduction of [Harry] Maguire was important to give that kind of confidence aspect.

"That's why you give the platform for Rashford to make the difference all the time because he can do it because his work rate is amazing and that thing he maybe missed in one year because maybe he thought 'I've got my position, I'm respected, I've got my status so I don't need to do this or that'. Those things can be a bad sign for those playing behind you. Now you can see he is a proper leader."

Rashford has certainly led by example in 2019-20. Fourteen goals and four assists in 22 league games is by far his best return in a season, but Opta advanced metrics paint a more layered picture.

This season, Rashford has averaged 0.77 open play sequences ending in a goal, his best record by a distance over a full season. He is also shooting more often after an open-play sequence than ever before – 4.78 times per match on average.

He is a finisher, yes, but his involvement in Solskjaer's increasingly fluid set-up is broader than that. On average, he covers 15.24 metres per ball carry, the highest figure he has posted in his career (a carry is a movement of the ball by a player of more than five yards from where they received possession).

This season, Rashford has covered 113.1 metres in progressive carries (ball carries in the opposition half that progress at least five metres towards goal). That's six metres more than in the whole of 2016-17, his previous best season. His average distance per progressive carry is more than two metres above his past best, nearly two thirds of these carries have ended in a shot, and 0.14 in a goal.

These indicate a forward with increasing power and confidence in his own prowess, embracing the responsibilities as United's spearhead. A leader, in name and deeds. At 22 years old.

"He's been relentless, just like the way he plays football," said Townsend. "You've got to applaud not only him but his mother and the people around him for having the foresight and not losing the energy. At the top of it now, we’ve got a 22-year-old man who's still developing not only as a man but as a footballer and a presence in the game who is now affecting so many lives in so many ways."

Rashford could one day become the best forward in the Premier League. He is already one of its greatest ambassadors: talented, inspirational, compassionate. He sums up what England should be – the England he is striving to build.

Tiger Woods sealed a historic triumph at the U.S. Open on this day in 2000.

The American won by 15 strokes, which still stands as a record margin of victory at a major.

Woods' display at Pebble Beach is widely regarded as the greatest performance in golf history.

Here is a look at how Woods, then aged 24, secured his most dominant victory.

Round 1: 65 (leads by 1)

Woods issued an early statement of intent with a blemish-free opening round. He made the turn in 33 and proved relentless on the back nine, making a further four gains to move to six under par. Miguel Angel Jimenez was just one shot back.

Round 2: 69 (leads by 6)

The chasing pack, Jimenez included, could not keep pace amid worsening conditions on the Friday. Woods' round was halted by darkness and he returned the next day to finish up and sign for a 69, while Jimenez could only manage a 74 to sit level on two under with Thomas Bjorn, some six shots back from the imperious Woods.

Round 3: 71 (leads by 10)

By the close of the third round, that lead was an unassailable 10 strokes over Ernie Els. Despite having to play 24 holes on the Saturday and making a triple bogey on the third hole of his third round, Woods still left the rest of the field for dead. He finished the day as the only player under par and left the trophy engraver in little doubt as to what he would be carving into the silverware the next day.

Round 4: 67 (leads by 15)

Barring a meltdown of unfathomable proportions, Woods had the title in the bag. Yet he still wanted to finish in style, setting his sights on a bogey-free closing round. That was at risk when he stood over a 15-foot putt to save par at the 16th, but Woods sunk it and celebrated with vigour. It helped him to a final-round 67 and an overall score of 12 under, making it the first double-digit below-par score in tournament history. Jimenez and Els were his closest rivals on three over. The most resounding victory in major golf history was complete.

What they said:

"The only thing I know is I got the trophy sitting right next to me. To perform the way I did, and on one of the greatest venues in golf, it doesn't get much better than that." – Tiger Woods

"We've been talking about him for two years. I guess we'll be talking about him for the next 20. When he's on, we don't have much of a chance." – Ernie Els

"If you were building the complete golfer, you'd build Tiger Woods." – Mark O'Meara

The 2019-20 season brought renewed hope for Milan fans.

A new coach and the return of two club greats – this season promised so much after years of pain.

Not since 2010-11 have Italian powerhouse Milan won the Scudetto.

A fifth-place finish last season, narrowly missing out on Champions League football, provided renewed optimism upon Marco Giampaolo's arrival.

But problems continue to plague the Rossoneri – who have taken a financial hit during their six-year Champions League absence after withdrawing from this term's Europa League for Financial Fair Play (FFP) breaches – as the Serie A campaign prepares to restart following the coronavirus pandemic.

Stats Perform News looks at the issues at San Siro, with Italian league football returning on June 20.

GIAMPAOLO ADDED TO COACHING SCRAPHEAP

There was excitement when Giampaolo replaced Gennaro Gattuso on a two-year deal, having established Sampdoria's position in the top half of the table with an entertaining brand of football over his three seasons in Genoa. But it was a short-lived spell for Giampaolo – the 52-year-old overseeing just seven Serie A matches before becoming the seventh Rossoneri boss to be sacked since Massimiliano Allegri left in January 2014. Four defeats and only six goals scored in those seven league games underlined the difficult start at San Siro, where Milan made their worst start to a campaign since 1938-39.

BOBAN IN AND OUT AFTER CLASH

Zvonimir Boban returned to Milan as part of Ivan Gazidis' revamp of the staff following the departures of Leonardo and Gattuso. Boban, who played for Milan between 1991 and 2001, left FIFA to make his way back to the Rossoneri as chief football officer but things quickly turned sour. The Croatian was relieved of his duties in March, just nine months into the role, after speaking out publicly against chief executive Gazidis. The frustration stemmed from Gazidis' reported pursuit of former RB Leipzig boss Ralf Rangnick as head coach and potentially director of sport, without consulting Boban or technical director Paolo Maldini, with Stefano Pioli still in charge. Following his sacking, Boban compared Milan to North Korea.

MALDINI AND GAZIDIS GO HEAD-TO-HEAD

Like Boban, club icon Maldini headlined a new-look Milan amid much fanfare. Previously working as Milan's sporting strategy and development director, former captain Maldini replaced Leonardo at the start of the season. The Italian's position has come under threat, especially after Boban's exit, and it stems from Milan's interest in Rangnick. The possible arrival of Rangnick would leave no place for coach Pioli or Maldini – who told the German to "learn the concept of respect" amid ongoing speculation. It has not gone according to plan for Milan's favourite son, criticised over Giampaolo's failed tenure and opting to appoint former Inter coach Pioli. Factoring in Boban's exit and Gazidis' pursuit of Rangnick, it remains to be seen whether the 51-year-old will still be around in 2020-21.

IBRAHIMOVIC'S FUTURE

Gazidis, again, is front and centre when it comes to veteran striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The former Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona, Juventus and Inter striker returned to Milan in January. Ibrahimovic – who was part of the last Rossoneri team to win the Scudetto in 2011 – gave Milan a boost prior to the coronavirus pandemic, scoring four goals in 10 appearances. However, the 38-year-old's future is far from certain. His short-term contract until the end of the season has the option to extend the deal by another year but Boban's departure has thrown a spanner into the works. Ibrahimovic reportedly committed to staying while Boban was still at Milan, but that has changed as Gazidis tries to convince the veteran to continue in the red and black stripes.

DONNARUMMA LINKED WITH EXIT… AGAIN

Gianluigi Donnarumma's future is often in the headlines and it is no different this season. The Milan and Italy goalkeeper, once again, is linked with a move away from his boyhood club. Donnarumma was close to leaving Milan in 2017 following a contract dispute, which led to severe condemnation from fans. Agent Mino Raiola has continued to be outspoken over the 21-year-old, who has previously been linked to PSG, United, Real Madrid and Juventus. The latest reports suggest Donnarumma could extend his contract, but the longer Milan go without challenging for Serie A honours and Champions League qualification, the longer rumours persist.

Juventus were on track for the treble in early February. Now, their very superiority in Italy is under threat.

Wednesday's Coppa Italia final defeat to Napoli might only have come on penalties, but few could argue the Bianconeri deserved better, save for goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.

Napoli, missing the suspended semi-final hero David Ospina, were the only team with a clear game plan in the eerily quiet Stadio Olimpico. They had 15 shots to Juve's 13 and seven on target to the Serie A leaders' three, despite slightly less possession.

Theirs was an obvious ploy, one they have followed rigidly since Gennaro Gattuso took charge in December: a defiance off the ball, a commitment to counter-attacking but only at the right moment. Catenaccio for the 21st century.

The concern for Juve is that, a year after Maurizio Sarri became head coach, it's hard to know what their plan is.

Their chances were scarce throughout, the best a snapshot from Cristiano Ronaldo five minutes in. At the other end, they were indebted to Buffon, the 42-year-old flying across his line to keep out Diego Demme, Lorenzo Insigne, Dries Mertens, Matteo Politano and, somehow, Nikola Maksimovic and Eljif Elmas with a spectacular double-save in second-half injury time.

He was largely helpless in the shoot-out as Napoli scored all four from the spot, after Paulo Dybala's effort was saved by Alex Meret and Danilo stalled, stuttered and smashed his over the crossbar.

Juve have never looked settled under Sarri, but results have been mostly sufficient. They are top of Serie A by one point ahead of the return of Italy's top flight this week, but they have won only four of their past 10 games in all competitions, a run that includes a 1-0 loss at Lyon that leaves their Champions League hopes under threat for another season.

Sarri, having lost the Supercoppa Italiana to Lazio already this season, was upset this week by suggestions he has not been a successful coach in Italy, referring to his eight promotions from the lower leagues.

That's not enough in Turin. Sarri was hired after reaching two finals (winning one) in his sole season with Chelsea, a man revered by sections of Italian football for a stylistic way of winning not least at old club Napoli, brought to Juve to marry domestic dominance with European success in a manner to make fans proud. Right now, they are far from that.

Napoli fully deserved their first trophy since 2014, none more so than Gattuso, who lost his sister only weeks ago. His appointment was a gamble after a tricky spell in charge of Milan, but one that has been rewarded. It's not all his fault, but Sarri's own season is at risk of unravelling.

Bayern Munich have been crowned Bundesliga champions for the eighth straight season, although it did not always look like an inevitability.

The Bavarian giants endured a difficult start to the season under Niko Kovac, but have been magnificent since Hansi Flick replaced him at the helm in November.

Bayern clinched the title with two games to spare by beating Werder Bremen 1-0 on Tuesday, Robert Lewandowski scoring his 31st Bundesliga goal of the season.

We take a look back at the key games in their successful 2019-20 league campaign.

 

November 9, 2019: Bayern Munich 4-0 Borussia Dortmund

Kovac oversaw just five wins in Bayern's first 10 Bundesliga games of the season and was dismissed after a 5-1 hammering at the hands of his former club Eintracht Frankfurt.

Flick was placed in temporary charge and had a baptism of fire in his first game, with Dortmund visiting the Allianz Arena.

The prolific Lewandowski headed in Benjamin Pavard's volleyed cross for the opener, before Serge Gnabry added a second on the break two minutes after half-time.

Lewandowski doubled his tally in the final quarter of an hour and an own goal from former Bayern defender Mats Hummels ensured there was no way back for Lucien Favre's side.

 

December 14, 2019: Bayern Munich 6-1 Werder Bremen

It was not all plain sailing at the start of Flick's tenure, though. After back-to-back league defeats against Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Monchengladbach they slipped to seventh, seven points adrift off Marco Rose's pacesetters.

Milot Rashica put struggling Bremen in front, but a quickfire pair of goals from Philippe Coutinho and Lewandowski on the stroke of half-time turned the match on its head.

Bayern ran away with it in the second half, Coutinho completing his hat-trick with a magnificent right-footed curling strike from the edge of the box following efforts from Lewandowski and Thomas Muller.

 

February 21, 2020: Bayern Munich 3-2 Paderborn

Having regained top spot at the start of February, Bayern's campaign could have been derailed by lowly Paderborn.

The visitors threatened to stun the Allianz Arena as they twice came from behind to equalise: Dennis Srbeny and Sven Michel scoring, the former making the most of a howler from Manuel Neuer, after efforts from Gnabry and Lewandowski.

It was 2-2 with 15 minutes remaining but Lewandowski was in the right place at the right time, tapping home the winner in the 88th minute.

A draw would have seen RB Leipzig get the chance to move level on points with Flick's men the following day.

 

May 17, 2020: Union Berlin 0-2 Bayern Munich

The coronavirus pandemic threw the season into disarray, with the Bundesliga season suspended for two months.

It could have been easy to be caught cold in their first game back, but with matches being played behind closed doors, their trip to Stadion An der Alten Forsterei was less daunting than it could have been.

They were under added pressure with Dortmund having moved to within one point by thrashing Schalke 4-0 a day prior, but goals from Lewandowski and Pavard ensured they left the capital with maximum points.

It also meant Flick had made history by seeing his team score 50 goals in his first 16 Bundesliga matches.

 

May 26, 2020: Borussia Dortmund 0-1 Bayern Munich

A pivotal moment in the fate of the title race arrived just nine days later.

Bayern knew victory would send them seven points clear with six games left, while defeat would have left them with a one-point cushion.

Joshua Kimmich's magnificent chip from the edge of the box just before half-time was enough to settle it.

In his post-match news conference, Favre acknowledged Dortmund's challenge was effectively over: "It will be very difficult in the title race. Seven points behind with six games [left], that will be brutally difficult."

One down, two to go.

For the eighth time in a row, Bayern Munich are Bundesliga champions. For the seventh time in nine years, they are in the DFB-Pokal final. And yet, as it has been for the best part of a decade, their season will mostly be defined by how well they do in the Champions League.

They are surely favourites to win that, too.

Bayern's Bundesliga triumphs often feel like processions, but 2019-20 has been a real fight. They suffered five defeats in the first half of the season, two of which came after a 5-1 November thrashing by Eintracht Frankfurt that cost head coach Niko Kovac his job. They have been winter champions seven times since 2009 but were four points behind leaders RB Leipzig at the turn of the year, with free-scoring Borussia Dortmund also threatening to pull away.

They turned to Hansi Flick more out of desperation than a long-term vision, handing the former assistant a temporary deal to steady the ship while high-profile names were courted, but his record in 2020 would be the envy of every coach in the world and proves why his new full-time contract was wholly deserved.

Since December 14, Bayern have won 17 of 18 Bundesliga matches, the sole blot coming in a goalless home draw with Leipzig in February. They have scored at least twice in all but three games. They have scored five goals in a game three times and twice hit six, keeping 10 clean sheets in the process. Even the two-month coronavirus lay-off has done nothing to shake them from their stride. A 1-0 win at Dortmund on May 26 gave them a seven-point cushion at the top, and that, realistically, was that.

In all competitions, Flick won 24 of his first 27 games in charge, beating Pep Guardiola's mark of 22. Bayern became the first team to score 90 Bundesliga goals in the first 30 rounds and have hit 132 in all matches this term, a record for a German team.

Flick has found the Midas touch with his players, both the rising stars and the established elite. He has turned 19-year-old Alphonso Davies into a devastating attacking full-back and helped Leon Goretzka find his feet in midfield. Manuel Neuer and Jerome Boateng look full of renewed vigour, having had their Bayern futures questioned last year.

In attack, Thomas Muller has equalled Kevin De Bruyne's record of 20 assists for a season - a spectacular tally for a number 10 who does not take set-pieces. Robert Lewandowski is on 31 league goals for the season and 46 in all competitions, a personal record.

In fact, you would struggle to find an out-of-form Bayern player from among their fully fit options. Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry are a menace, particularly with Joshua Kimmich pulling the midfield strings, his old right-back role firmly in Benjamin Pavard's hands. Thiago's latest muscle injury has been offset by Goretzka's rise to prominence. With Lucas Hernandez and Ivan Perisic fit again and Philippe Coutinho to come back, there is a depth to Bayern that is hard to beat.

It all means Bayern will be the best-prepared team once the Champions League returns, most likely in August. Their domestic league started earlier and finished quicker than their rivals, save Paris Saint-Germain, who will not have kicked a ball in anger for five months when the competition resumes. They have had the strongest 2020 of any of the remaining sides in the last 16 and, presently, have the fewest injury concerns.

They also boast a commanding 3-0 first-leg lead over Chelsea ahead of the return game at the Allianz Arena, easing the pressure ahead of the restart. Meanwhile, Real Madrid and Manchester City face a tense battle at the Etihad Stadium, Barcelona are level at 1-1 with Napoli, Juventus are a goal down to Lyon and Liverpool were knocked out by Atletico Madrid, who have only won four matches since January 9. What's more, they have a DFB-Pokal final against Bayer Leverkusen to come on July 4 - a perfect chance to raise spirits further before three weeks of intensive training for the continental games to come against opponents who are well short of Bayern's present standards.

Bayern's last European triumph came when they won the treble under Jupp Heynckes in 2012-13. If the Champions League really does define their season, there is every chance 2019-20 will be one to remember.

Bayern Munich set record after record as they sealed another Bundesliga title.

A sluggish start to the season under former boss Niko Kovac was almost forgotten as Hansi Flick led a charge to glory.

Bayern clinched their latest silverware with a 1-0 win at relegation-threatened Werder Bremen on Tuesday, Robert Lewandowski scoring the winner in the first half.

Here is a look at some of the records and personal bests they established in a history-making campaign.

 

EIGHT IN A ROW

Bayern's dominance reached a new peak as they extended their streak to eight successive Bundesliga triumphs.

A record 30th title looked in doubt back in the European autumn as they stuttered, but they sauntered to glory with two games to spare.

Borussia Monchengladbach (1975-77) and Bayern themselves (1972-74, 1985-87, 1999-2001) had previously achieved three in a row, but this era of dominance by one team is unprecedented in Germany.

MULLER, THE ULTIMATE HELPING HAND

Thomas Muller was the World Cup's Golden Boot winner with Germany in 2010 and has been a regular goal hero for Bayern for over a decade, but there is more about him than an assured finish.

The 30-year-old has become king of the assists in the Bundesliga this term, racking up 20 to match the highest total achieved since data collection began in 1992-93.

Opta statistics showed that Muller drew level with the total set by Kevin De Bruyne for Wolfsburg in the 2014-15 season.

LETHAL LEWANDOWSKI

Lewandowski's goals have provided the fuel behind Bayern's surge over the second half of the season.

The Poland striker has recorded his best haul of 31 Bundesliga goals and notched 46 across in competitions, a personal high point in his Bayern career.

For a while, he even looked like challenging Gerd Muller's league record of 40 goals in a single campaign, but that is surely out of reach now.

BAYERN CLICK WITH FLICK

Across all competitions, head coach Flick won a startling 26 of his first 29 games in charge, the best start by any Bayern boss, beating Pep Guardiola's 22 in 27.

Kovac lost his job after winning five of the opening 10 Bundesliga games this season, with three draws and two defeats.

The required standard is higher than that Bayern, but Flick's success to date has surpassed all expectations.

GOAL GLUT

Bayern scored 93 goals in their 32 Bundesliga games, setting a new league best. That teed up a shot at the 34-game complete league record of 101 goals, set by Bayern in 1971-72.

Their haul of 132 goals in 45 games across all competitions was also a record by a German team.

Bayern have scored at least four goals in a game 12 times, a figure last achieved by Stuttgart in the 1996-97 season. Bayern own the record in this respect with the 13 occasions they achieved the feat in 1973-74.

June 15 is a momentous sporting date that the Detroit Pistons and their fans will not forget in a hurry.

Sixteen years ago on this day, the team earned an emphatic 4-1 win over favourites the Los Angeles Lakers to seal glory in the NBA Finals.

This date also represents the 40-year anniversary of a famous day in golfing history, when Jack Nicklaus broke a record at the U.S. Open.

We look back at some of the top moments to occur on June 15 in the world of sport.


2004 - Pistons top Lakers 4-1 in NBA Finals

The Pistons sealed a stunning 4-1 series win over the Lakers on this day in 2004, with a 100-87 win in Game 5 ensuring they secured glory in Michigan.

Richard Hamilton top-scored with 21 points, Ben Wallace starred with 22 rebounds and Chauncey Billups had a game-high six assists.

Billups was named Finals MVP as coach Larry Brown savoured his first championship, his underdog team having won three straight after going down to an overtime loss in Game 2.

Game 5 was notable as the last game for Shaquille O'Neal, Karl Malone and Gary Payton for the Lakers, who had won previously three straight titles between 2000 and 2002.

This remains the Pistons' most recent NBA title, as they lost a thrilling Finals series 4-3 to the San Antonio Spurs the following year and have not returned since.

The Lakers, meanwhile, reached three straight Finals when coach Phil Jackson returned to the team later in the decade, winning two, including their last triumph in 2010.

Kobe Bryant top-scored with 24 points in a losing effort against the Pistons in Game 5.

He would go on to be named NBA Finals MVP in each of their 2009 and 2010 successes, moving on to five rings in the process.


1980 – Nicklaus sets record in U.S. Open triumph

Jack Nicklaus' fourth and final U.S. Open victory was a special one in 1980.

The American set a new tournament scoring record with an eight-under par score of 272 to win his fourth title at the event, finishing two shots clear of Japanese challenger Isao Aoki.

Nicklaus had started the week with a magnificent 63 to take a share of the first-round lead, and led by two after a more steady effort of 71 on day two.

After moving day, he was in a share of the lead with Aoki while four other players, including Tom Watson, were within two shots.

A thrilling finale was in store for June 15 and Nicklaus delivered with a 68 to claim his 16th major, 18 years after winning his first U.S. Open.

He romped to US PGA glory later that year, before his 18th and final major arrived six years later at the 1986 Masters.
 

1974 - Evert wins first of seven French Opens

American Chris Evert holds the women's singles record with an astonishing seven French Open titles.

She won the first of her Paris crowns on this day in 1974, emphatically defeating the third seed, Russian Olga Morozova, 6-1 6-2.

In the absence of Margaret Court, who had beaten her in a three-set thriller in the previous year's final, top seed Evert thrived.

She went through the whole tournament without losing a set, with German Helga Masthoff, the fourth seed, seen off in the semi-finals in a tougher test than she ended up having in the showpiece.

Evert also won Wimbledon that year as part of a sensational 55-match winning streak.

She successfully defended her French Open title the following year, and her third success in 1979 started a streak of five wins in the space of five years.

Michael Jordan raced back on defense after a drive to the basket saw him bring the Chicago Bulls back to within a point of the Utah Jazz with 37 seconds remaining.

It was June 14, 1998, Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals and victory would see the Bulls clinch a historic second three-peat and Jordan get his sixth championship ring in what would be their 'Last Dance'.

Jordan's next pivotal play saw him steal the ball from Karl Malone in the post with 18 seconds left. He then carried the ball forward, crossed up Bryon Russell and made an iconic mid-range jumper to put Phil Jackson's team in front.

When John Stockton failed to make a three-pointer at the buzzer, history was made.

But how do Jordan's performances, and those of his team-mates, in the 1997-98 season compare to players in the modern era?

That is what Stats Perform's AI analysts attempted to find out.

By looking at player statistics compared to the league averages rather than raw values, they developed a similarity score metric.

It uses a host of era-adjusted per-30-minute stats and more advanced rate metrics, and calculates the Euclidean distances between the seasons of each of the 1997-98 Bulls and every other player since the start of 2010-11.

From those results, a relative similarity percentage can be calculated i.e. the player since 2010-11 with the greatest similarity to one of the 1997-98 Bulls would score closest to 100 per cent.

By looking at player seasons since the start of 2017-18, we can see who in the NBA's modern era is the nearest equivalent to Jordan and the rest of the Bulls in that historic season.

Michael Jordan

Jordan's closest contemporary is Kawhi Leonard, with the Los Angeles Clippers star's 2019-20 season registering a relative similarity percentage of 28.7.

Leonard's NBA championship-winning campaign with the Toronto Raptors in 2018-19 is a close second (26.7 per cent), while Bradley Beal this season ranks third at 24 per cent.

DeMar DeRozan rounds out the top five, though his 2018-19 output had just 16.5 per cent relative similarity. His efforts the year prior produced a score of 23.7 per cent, close to Beal.

When looking at all players since 2010, though, Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant in 2010-11 is the top comparison at 46.8 per cent.

Bryant played all 82 games that year but was unable to emulate Jordan and lead the Lakers to a second three-peat under Jackson, with the Dallas Mavericks sweeping them in the Western Conference semi-finals.

 

Dennis Rodman

It is tough to find a modern comparison for what Rodman did with the Bulls in 1997-98.

Marcin Gortat's 2018-19 season with the Clippers is the nearest but has a relative similarity percentage of just 9.7, with Noah Vonleh in 2017-18 a close second at 9.3. Vonleh's past two seasons rank fifth and fourth, behind Ed Davis this term at 7.4 per cent.

When looking beyond the past three seasons, a player who made his name in Chicago comes in as Rodman's closest contemporary: Joakim Noah.

Noah was a two-time All-Star and the 2014 NBA Defensive Player of the Year during his time with the Bulls, but it is his production in the 2016-17 season – his first with the New York Knicks – that compares best, though his relative similarity percentage is still just 16.3.

 

Scottie Pippen

After electing to delay having surgery on his foot so he could enjoy the offseason as his contract dispute with the Bulls continued, Pippen missed almost half of the 1997-98 regular season.

Tyreke Evans in 2018-19, a season that ended with him being kicked out of the league for two years for violating the NBA's anti-drug programme, provides the nearest resemblance of Pippen's performances during the Last Dance with a relative similarity score of 64.7 per cent.

Evans (52.4 per cent) also ranks second thanks to his 2017-18 season, ahead of Caris LeVert of the Brooklyn Nets. LeVert has a score of 50.3 per cent for this season and 48 per cent for 2018-19.

When looking at all players since 2010, J.R. Smith features highly. His 2012-13 campaign has a relative similarity score of 53.7 per cent, which is one of three entries for him in the top six.

 

Luc Longley

Domantas Sabonis helped the Indiana Pacers reach the playoffs in 2017-18, and with a relative similarity mark of 45.4 per cent he has the nearest modern comparison to Longley.

There is little to separate Jordan Mickey (2017-18) and Zach Collins (2018-19) in second and third, with the former's 43.8 just beating the latter's 43.

When widening the scope to include all player seasons since 2010-11, however, two players dominate the top 10: Spencer Hawes and Jason Smith.

Hawes' second year with the Philadelphia 76ers (2011-12) takes first place with a relative similarity percentage of 63.6, while his last season with the Charlotte Hornets (2016-17) is second at 59.1.

Smith takes up the next four places (2015-16, 2012-13, 2014-15 and 2011-12 respectively) and also eighth, which is sandwiched by Hawes in 2010-11 and 2012-13.

The top eight seasons all have a relative similarity score in excess of 50 per cent.

 

Ron Harper

Over the past three seasons, Garrett Temple is the closest you can get to Harper.

Temple's output with the Nets this year most closely corresponds to Harper at 60.1 per cent relative similarity.

His two prior seasons also scored within 0.5 per cent of that mark, with Trevor Ariza rounding out the top five on 56.1 per cent for both this season and 2018-19.

Since the start of the last decade, though, Damien Wilkins in 2010-11 is the nearest comparison at 68.3 per cent.

 

Toni Kukoc

Gordon Hayward with the Boston Celtics this season comes in as the top modern comparison for Kukoc at 65.2 per cent.

MarShon Brooks in 2018-19 has a relative similarity of 62 per cent, while Bogdan Bogdanovic this year is at 59.8 per cent.

Chandler Parsons in 2017-18 is fourth on the list, and he certainly has a lot in common with the Croatian when you look back further.

Parsons provides the top four comparisons to Kukoc since 2010-11 and his efforts in the 2014-15 season have a relative similarity percentage of 99.9, which is the nearest equivalent of all data analysed.

 

Steve Kerr

Kerr may have moulded Stephen Curry into a two-time MVP and three-time NBA champion, but the Golden State Warriors star's brother Seth Curry is his closest comparison.

Seth Curry's performances for the Mavericks this season registered a 50.1 per cent relative similarity score, while his 2018-19 campaign with the Portland Trail Blazers was second at 44.4.

Reggie Bullock (2017-18), Langston Galloway (2019-20) and Courtney Lee (2017-18) also feature in the top five from the past three years.

 

What about the others?

Bill Wennington

Since 2017: Jon Leuer in 2018-19 (37.9 per cent)
Since 2010: Jon Leuer in 2018-19 (37.9 per cent)

David Vaughan

Since 2017: Domantas Sabonis in 2017-18 (70.8 per cent)
Since 2010: Thomas Robinson in 2013-14 (88.4 per cent)

Dickey Simpkins

Since 2017: Caleb Swanigan in 2019-20 (31.8 per cent)
Since 2010: Samardo Samuels in 2011-12 (45.4 per cent)

Jason Caffey

Since 2017: Domantas Sabonis in 2017-18 (62.9 per cent)
Since 2010: Samardo Samuels in 2011-12 (78.6 per cent)

Joe Kleine

Since 2017: Wilson Chandler in 2019-20 (40.9 per cent)
Since 2010: Juwan Howard in 2010-11 (40.9 per cent)

Jud Buechler

Since 2017: Danny Green in 2019-20 (59.1 per cent)
Since 2010: Wesley Johnson in 2013-14 (56.9 per cent)

Randy Brown

Since 2017: Shaquille Harrison in 2018-19 (51.1 per cent)
Since 2010: Ronnie Price in 2010-11 (52.8 per cent)

Scott Burrell

Since 2017: Sterling Brown in 2017-18 (68 per cent)
Since 2010: Wesley Johnson in 2015-16 (82.8 per cent)

Britain looks set to be the focus of the boxing world in 2021 after confirmation that a deal has been agreed in principle for Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury to finally meet for the undisputed heavyweight title.

For all the tawdry chicanery that still lurks at the top level of the sport, when the best fight the best the ripples run far and wide as legacies and legends are shaped.

Joshua is the ticket-seller extraordinaire, a star with mass appeal that transcends his sport. Fury is the undefeated fighter who has won battles both in and out of the ring.

All of those elements were present in one corner when the sport's centre of gravity shifted from Las Vegas to Manchester on a balmy June night in 2005.

"Even talking about it now, I get goosebumps," former WBA lightweight champion Anthony Crolla told Stats Perform News, reflecting on Ricky Hatton's stunning daredevil assault on Kostya Tszyu – one that earned him the IBF light-welterweight title and victory to rank alongside any in a UK ring, as the great Australian failed to answer the bell for the final round.

HOMETOWN HERO

Hatton was already a Manchester institution and inspiration by the time he faced his career-defining fight, although his was a sporting celebrity built at a different pace to the likes of Joshua.

Audley Harrison and Amir Khan's Olympic breakthroughs in 2000 and 2004 set Britain on the path to the elite amateur set up that spawned the class of 2012, with ready made bill-toppers emerging from the London Games.

A medal in one pocket and a lucrative television deal in the other means the fast-tracking towards major titles can quickly commence.

By contrast, Hatton was a long-time headliner at the Manchester Arena with a record of 38-0 heading into the Tszyu fight.

He held the WBU belt at 140 pounds, the sort of lightly regarded strap generally tossed away en route to bigger and better things. Hatton defended it 15 times after beating the veteran Tony Pep in 2001. Eleven of those came as the headliner at his home arena.

The road to Tszyu felt needlessly long at times, with a sense Hatton's undefeated record was being protected as a bankable asset by promoter Frank Warren. But the extended parade of dress rehearsals means the all-action body puncher became as much a part of his city's cultural landscape as Manchester United, his beloved Manchester City and Oasis.

"Every British boxer aspired to be like Ricky Hatton but certainly every young Mancunian boxer wanted those nights," said Crolla, whose enthusiasm was not dampened by his own footballing loyalties lying firmly at Old Trafford.

"Whether he was a Manchester City fan or not, you wanted those nights. To watch him progress… I remember telling people, other young boxers, about him before he burst onto the scene the way he did."

Crolla was an aspiring amateur at the time and a regular at Hatton fights, although a prior engagement meant he tuned into the Tszyu showdown on television, with the bout taking place at 02:00 local time for the benefit of US broadcaster Showtime.

"The first Ricky Hatton fight I was at was the first title he won as a professional – against a lad called Tommy Peacock at Oldham Leisure Centre," he said.

"Ricky would be at a lot of amateur shows too, giving trophies out. I'd always ask him about body shots and how he'd throw them. I probably drove him mad.

"I couldn't go that night [against Tszyu] because I was boxing as an amateur in Germany four days later. I was thinking about it being a late night and I was making weight, in hard training. It wasn't the best place to be!"

FIGHTING FIRE WITH FIRE

A capacity crowd of around 22,000 reached fever pitch when Hatton emerged to the strains of Blue Moon, although it was an atmosphere fuelled as much by nervous energy as alcohol consumption, because the hometown hero was tackling mission improbable.

Tszyu's decision to walk away from the sport after losing his title has dulled perceptions of what a formidable operator he was.

An esteemed amateur boasting supreme technique and power, he had 25 knockouts from his 31 wins. The shot that placed Zab Judah's legs and brain on different wavelengths in 2001 remains a staple of knockout showreels, while he returned from a long injury lay-off to blast Sharmba Mitchell to the canvas four times before signing to face Hatton.

"The right hand!" Crolla marvelled. "He (Tszyu) doing that for years. People also forget he was one of the finest amateurs you'll ever see.

"There were a lot of boxing people who didn't give Ricky much of a chance because Kostya Tszyu was that good. He was an amazing, amazing fighter. For Ricky to walk him down the way he did…"

The tactical plan cooked up by Hatton's trainer and mentor Billy Graham still sounds audacious 15 years on.

Instead of staying away from the right hand that had liquidised so many in the division, Hatton jabbed intelligently and swarmed ravenously to operate within the line of fire at all times.

Staying somewhere close to Tszyu's chest, the older man was denied the leverage he needed for his honey punch and made to box at a pace that eventually proved beyond him.

"I remember at the start of nearly every round, Ricky would cop for a big right hand," Crolla said, considering footage that draws a wince to this day.

"You were watching through your hands but he was a man possessed. That night he might have beaten anyone. He wouldn't be denied."

THE HATTON EFFECT

Tszyu's trainer Johnny Lewis had seen enough when his man slumped down exhausted at the end of round 11. A similarly fatigued Hatton collapsed to the floor in tears, embracing Graham as bedlam ensued around him.

The wider impact was instant and enduring.

"That created a massive buzz around Manchester boxing," Crolla said. "After what Ricky did, our gym was packed on the Monday. Everyone wanted to be a boxer. He had loads of big nights at the arena and he made so many young fighters from Manchester dream of having that themselves."

Despite struggling to sleep after the adrenaline rush of Hatton's stunning upset, Crolla claimed the gold medal at his multi-nations tournament in Germany the following week. And, a decade later, his dreams of magical fights as the toast of Manchester Arena were realised.

Both Crolla's fairy tale title win over Darleys Perez and emphatic first defence against the feared Ismael Barroso arrived via body shot stoppages in the image of the man he idolised. That teenage pestering had paid off.

Manchester's footballing divide was again brought together to howl their favourite fighter's name, with Crolla's left to the liver to take out Perez fittingly Hatton-esque.

"Yeah, it was one I'm sure Ricky would be proud of," he recalled fondly. "He was there that night and that was somebody I idolised, at ringside watching me in my big fight. I boxed under his promotions for a bit as well and he's a mate now. It's mad.

"After Ricky, a lot of people told me I was the first to come along and have those big nights again – what Manchester had missed for so many years. That makes me immensely proud because I was just one of those kids at the arena.

"Mine were never as big as Ricky's nights, because those were some of the biggest in British boxing history. Mine were only a fraction of it, but I'm very proud that people would even consider me like that.

"There'll never be nights like Ricky Hatton again for a Manchester boxer."

Fury, whose good friend Hatton was in his corner for the first Deontay Wilder fight, might beg to differ if he embellishes his remarkable resurgence by beating Joshua, potentially twice as a rematch clause is seemingly part of the deal.

Should it come to pass, it will be a contest to resonate just as Hatton's deeds did with Crolla and many thousands of others – an occasion like that intoxicating Tszyu encounter, where a boxer wins not only the fight, the belts and the fortune, but sporting immortality.  

Asafa Powell broke the 100 metres world record on this day 15 years ago, and the New York Rangers ended a 54-year NHL title drought in 1994.

No man has ever run faster than Usain Bolt over 100m, but Powell was Jamaica's sprint king in 2005.

The Rangers were celebrating at Madison Square Garden 26 years ago, while Canada's cricketers will not want to be reminded of this date in 1979.

We go back in time to look at some memorable sporting moments that have taken place on June 14.

 

1979 - Canada crumble at Old Trafford

A Cricket World Cup contest between England and Canada always looked like it was going to be a mismatch.

That was very much the case in Manchester, where the minnows were skittled out for only 45 - the lowest ODI score in history at the time.

Bob Willis (4-11) and Chris Old (4-8) wreaked havoc, Franklyn Dennis making almost half of Canada's runs before England took just 13.5 overs to seal an eight-wicket win.

 

1994 - Rangers rule in New York

The Rangers had not been crowned NHL champions since way back in 1940 and it looked like they may have blown their chance in the Stanley Cup Finals against the Vancouver Canucks.

Mike Keenan's side led the series 3-1 after losing the opening match, but the Canucks rallied to force a decider.

The tension was almost unbearable for Rangers fans, but Brian Leetch, Adam Graves and Mark Messier were on target to secure a 3-2 victory and spark a huge party.

There has been no NHL glory for the Rangers since that triumph.

2005 - Powell keeps true to his word in Athens

A 22-year-old Powell said he was ready to break Tim Montgomery's 100m world record in Athens.

His confidence was certainly not unfounded, as he set a new mark of 9.77 seconds at the Olympic Stadium.

"It shows no-one knows how fast a man can run." Powell said after making history. He went faster another three times after Justin Gatlin had gone quicker in 2005.

Bolt holds the current record of 9.58, set in Berlin 11 years ago.

 

2007 - Imperious Spurs sweep Cavs

The NBA Finals 13 years ago proved to be one-sided, with the San Antonio Spurs dominating the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In their 40th season as a franchise, the Spurs wrapped up a 4-0 series victory with an 83-82 win in Cleveland.

Manu Ginobili scored a game-high 27 points as LeBron James' 24-point haul was in vain, with Tony Parker named Finals MVP for Gregg Popovich's side.

The return of LaLiga will be particularly special for Real Madrid as it will see Zinedine Zidane reach 200 games as head coach.

The former midfielder, now in his second spell in the dugout, is third on the all-time list of matches in charge of Los Blancos in all competitions, behind only Vicente del Bosque (246) and Miguel Munoz (605).

Few could argue against Zidane's achievements. Once the best footballer in the world, he guided Madrid to three consecutive Champions League triumphs – an unprecedented feat in the modern competition – along with seven other trophies, including two UEFA Super Cups, two Supercopas de Espana, two Club World Cups and the 2016-17 LaLiga title.

He has also won 131 of his 199 matches as Madrid boss, a record few contemporaries can match in European football. Add a few more to that tally before the end of this season, and a second LaLiga title could follow – provided they can overhaul Barcelona's two-point advantage at the top.

There are, however, some reasons to be concerned. While few Madridistas dispute Zidane's pedigree, there is an undeniable decline in the numbers since he first took over from Rafael Benitez in January 2015.

Using Opta data, we take a look at the state of play...

A SLIPPERY SLOPE

In simple terms, Madrid's results are, on average, on the decline.

Zidane secured 21 victories from 27 games in all competitions after taking charge in January 2016 – a win rate of 77.7 per cent. That has dropped year on year and now stands at 54 per cent if you combine the 11 games of last season, when he took over from Santiago Solari, and 39 games in 2019-20.

Defeats have crept up in number, from just two in 2015-16 to six this term, the peak being nine in 62 games in 2017-18.

Few were surprised when Solari was sacked last term, but he actually managed  22 wins from 32 games – a rate of 68.7 – and averaged more goals per game ( 2.21 compared to 1.86 ) than Zidane has since.

A BLUNT FORCE

Madrid fans have a certain expectation when it comes to attacking football, but those demands are not being fully satisfied.

Zidane's side averaged 2.6 goals per game in his first 27 matches in charge and that increased to 2.8 in 2016-17, when they scored 173 times in all competitions en route to a league and Champions League double. In the 50 games since his return last year, that average has dropped to 1.86.

Madrid's shot conversion rate during Zidane's second spell is 11.52 , again the lowest it has been with him in charge. So too are shots per game ( 16.14 ) and shots on target per game ( 6.16 ).

The obvious factor here is the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo, who left for Juventus in 2018, but Madrid have also spent this season largely without Gareth Bale, Marco Asensio and Eden Hazard, while Luka Jovic has been a big disappointment. The burden has fallen almost solely on the shoulders of Karim Benzema, who has scored a commendable 19 in all competitions this term and created more chances than anyone else in LaLiga ( 44 ).

ON SOLID GROUND

It does seem the attack is where the problems lie. Defensively, Madrid are coping well enough.

Captain Sergio Ramos is now 34 and Marcelo appears past his best, but their defensive strength as a whole is on a similar level to previous seasons.

Since Zidane's return, Madrid have faced 9.4 shots per game on average, with 3.3 of those on target. Both of those are the lowest such figures seen under the Frenchman.

Madrid have only conceded 19 goals in LaLiga in 2019-20, which is the best record in the division. They are letting in fewer than a goal a game on average for the first time since 2015-16.

A few more goals at the other end could swing the season back in their favour.

PASSING THE BUCK

If the attack is to get firing again, better use of the ball is paramount.

Madrid average 58.39 per cent of possession in their games this season, which is in line with years gone by, as is their passing accuracy and passes-per-game rate. It's what they do with the ball that holds them back.

Including assists, they have created 635 chances since Zidane's return – a rate of 12.7 per game. That's the lowest it has been since before 2016.

Again, personnel problems have counted against Zidane. Hazard was signed from Chelsea for €100million to fill a creative void, but injuries have ruined his first season in Spain. Likewise, Asensio has been out since last May, James Rodriguez is out of favour, Isco has been in and out of the team and Luka Modric's top-level career looks to be winding down. Federico Valverde has been a revelation in midfield, but playmaking is not his forte.

It's not all doom and gloom, and it's certainly not all Zidane's fault, but he has some work to do if this is to be remembered as a successful – if strange – season, and if his next 200 games are to herald similar glory as his first.

Real Madrid have been champions of Europe 13 times and their first title came in dramatic fashion in Paris on this day 64 years ago.

Back in 1948, meanwhile, the New York Yankees welcomed Babe Ruth for one last time to the stadium where he wrote large chapters of baseball folklore.

Cricket's Twenty20 format initially upset many purists but has become a money-spinning, highly successful element of the sport since it was introduced in June 2003.

More recently, Spain's 2018 World Cup plans were left in tatters, with Real Madrid at the centre of another major sporting story.

 

1948 - Babe Ruth's last goodbye to Yankee Stadium

For the 25th anniversary celebration of Yankee Stadium's opening, there was a guest more special than all the rest.

The legendary Ruth was in the house, but it was clear for all to see that he was seriously unwell.

It was already known as 'The House That Ruth Built', and as Ruth stood with a baseball bat instead of a cane, it would be his last visit to his old stamping ground.

This was the day his number three shirt was retired. Stricken by cancer, and a shadow of his once powerful self, Ruth would die aged 53 on August 16 of the same year.

 

1956 - Real Madrid launch a dynasty

The first of 13 European Cup and Champions League triumphs for Real Madrid came at the Parc des Princes on this day.

Having beaten Milan 5-4 on aggregate in their semi-final, they faced a Reims side who had overcome Scottish outfit Hibernian to earn a rather short trip to Paris.

The French side surged two goals ahead in 10 minutes, before Alfredo di Stefano cut the deficit.

A dramatic match saw Reims 3-2 ahead with 25 minutes to play, but Madrid ran out 4-3 winners, Hector Rial's second goal of the game in the 79th minute proving to be the winner. Madrid won the tournament each year from 1956 to 1960, beating Reims again in the 1959 final.

 

1976 - Barker shows her bite

Sue Barker is better known to television audiences as a tennis presenter, often tasked with conducting on-court interviews with newly-crowned Wimbledon champions, and her grand slam success is regularly overlooked.

The greatest day of her playing career came on this day at Roland Garros, when Barker won the French Open with a 6-2 0-6 6-2 victory over Czech opponent Renata Tomanova.

The field had been weakened that year by the absence of defending champion Chris Evert, who elected to skip the tournament. Barker was the top seed, and capitalised.

 

2003 - Cricket takes the fast track

The England and Wales Cricket Board pioneered Twenty20 cricket, with the vision that it would draw a younger audience to the sport, and the short format made its debut on June 13, 2003.

The Twenty20 Cup launched with five matches in a day, with Warwickshire the highest-scoring side, piling up 188-7 at Taunton in a 19-run win over home side Somerset.

Warwickshire's Trevor Penney got into the spirit of the competition with a rapid 52 from 28 balls, clubbing four fours and three sixes.

2018 - Spain sack Lopetegui on World Cup eve

A day before the World Cup began in Russia, Spain's camp collapsed into chaos with the sacking of coach Julen Lopetegui.

The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) was furious after Real Madrid revealed Lopetegui would become their next boss, an announcement that was said to have been conveyed to them just five minutes before the rest of the world knew.

It was the first the RFEF knew of any negotiations, and they swiftly ditched the man who was preparing to lead the country's bid for glory. Fernando Hierro took over, and Spain were eliminated on penalties by Russia in the first knockout round.

Lopetegui failed at Madrid but is back in business with Sevilla.

Dalvin Cook may be hoping for a big reward, but a potential holdout from the Minnesota Vikings running back would carry a great deal of risk.

An ESPN report this week stated Cook may be extending social distancing measures well into the preseason and beyond, having informed the team he will not participate in any further activities until he receives a new contract. According to the report, the 2019 Pro Bowler is prepared to sit out training camp and perhaps the entire 2020 season if fresh terms are not agreed.

Cook's rationale is both sensible and obvious. He is slated to earn just over $1.3million in the final year of his rookie contract, an absolute bargain rate for a player of his calibre and production, and faces the daunting prospect of entering a potentially flooded 2021 free agent market for running backs that could include impact performers such as Alvin Kamara, Derrick Henry, Aaron Jones, Chris Carson and Joe Mixon.  

There is also plenty of incentive for Cook to want to remain in Minnesota. The Vikings ran the ball on 49.1 per cent of their offensive plays in 2019, with only the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers doing so at a higher rate last season. And although offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski has moved on to Cleveland to be the latest head coach to attempt to end the Browns' embarrassing stretch of futility, Minnesota's strategy does not figure to deviate much under Gary Kubiak, who has historically placed a heavy emphasis on the ground game during previous stops as both a play-caller and a head coach.  

Cook's value to the Vikings is easily evident as well. Including the postseason, Minnesota are 12-2 when he has recorded 108 or more yards from scrimmage and 6-10-1 when he has gone below that number.

Given all those factors, there would seem to be both a high importance and desire on both sides to get a new deal done. A closer look, however, would show the Vikings may not be in such a rush to dole out another big contract to a perceived core player. 

Cook's dependability on the field is not in question, but availability has certainly been an issue at times. He has missed 19 of a possible 48 regular-season games over his three NFL seasons due to various injuries, the most serious being a torn ACL that sidelined him for most of his 2017 rookie campaign.  

Those durability concerns could very well make the Vikings pause at giving Cook the likely $13m per year he is seeking, and it is certainly a reason why he has reportedly threatened to sit out the entire upcoming season rather than play on his rookie deal. But while that wish to eliminate injury risk is understandable, Cook would be still taking quite a gamble of another sort if he indeed decides to adopt that stance. 

This is not a situation akin to Le'Veon Bell's of two years back, when the then-Pittsburgh Steeler held out the entire 2018 season before inking a four-year, $52.5m contract with the New York Jets. The NFL's new collective bargaining agreement prohibits players from accruing a season if they skip training camp, meaning Cook would still have three years of service time and would be a restricted free agent for the 2021 offseason.  

Considering the surplus of quality veteran running back options that may be available next offseason, there may be some benefit in Cook entering the market a year later. He would also be going in a year older, however, and quite possibly with fewer options to select from - including his current team. The Vikings' cupboard is not bare at the position, as backup Alexander Mattison acquitted himself well as a rookie last season and is under contract for three more years, while third-stringer Mike Boone ran for 148 years in a spot start in the Week 17 finale. Either could prove to be a capable alternative if given the opportunity to start, and at a far cheaper price than Cook would command. 

And do not discount the presence of Kubiak, a strict disciple of the Mike Shanahan system that has turned its share of nondescript running backs into viable starters over the years, as evidenced by career journeyman Raheem Mostert's emergence during the 49ers' NFC title following the 2019 season. 

There is also the uncertainty of next year's salary cap to consider, as teams may have less money to spend in 2021 if the coronavirus pandemic leads to decreased revenue in the form of lower attendances and in a worst-case scenario a reduction of games. The Vikings are not flush with cap space to begin with and are still attempting to hammer out a long-term deal with standout safety Anthony Harris, whom the team may view as a more indispensable player than Cook.  

With so many variables at hand, Cook's situation does not appear to be one that will be resolved either easily or imminently.

Squad line-ups for the next Copa America could look vastly different by the time the tournament comes around following its postponement.

The newest edition of the competition was scheduled to start on Friday, but the coronavirus pandemic saw it pushed back by 12 months in March.

Some veteran players might now fade from the picture before the Copa America gets under way next year, while other stars will have time to recover from injury.

There could also be new faces on the scene, with a host of uncapped prospects given an extra campaign to break through.

With just under a year to go until the tournament starts, we take a look at five players who might emerge on the international scene before then.

GABRIEL MARTINELLI (BRAZIL)

Even beyond Neymar, Roberto Firmino, Gabriel Jesus and co, Brazil have a wealth of attacking talent.

Matheus Cunha and Paulinho each starred at this year's CONMEBOL Pre-Olympic Tournament and are already plying their trade in the Bundesliga, yet the nation's most outstanding prospect might reside in London.

Gabriel Martinelli is eligible for both Brazil and Italy, but the Selecao will surely move swiftly to cap-tie the forward, who has represented them at under-23 level. Indeed, he is one of just three teenagers to have reached 10 goals in all competitions across Europe's top five leagues this term, the other two being Erling Haaland (13 for Borussia Dortmund) and Mason Greenwood (12 for Manchester United).

Martinelli trained with Brazil last year aged 17 after starring for Ituano, and he has continued to impress in his first season at Arsenal – his solo goal against Chelsea in January a fine example of his talents, as he carried the ball 61.6 metres before scoring. Only Son Heung-min (71.4m) has travelled further with the ball in the build-up to netting in the Premier League this term.

 

Further progress in the coming weeks and next season would really give Tite something to think about.

 

CRISTIAN ROMERO (ARGENTINA)

Argentina have long had problems at centre-back, with Manchester City defender Nicolas Otamendi still a regular at international level. However, head coach Lionel Scaloni could soon have greater options to choose from, with younger talents now breaking through.

Nehuen Perez might well have gone to the 2020 Copa America, having been called up for the first time late last year after promising loan spells away from Atletico Madrid, while Borussia Dortmund's Leonardo Balerdi is also highly regarded.

But there's every chance Cristian Romero will leap ahead of both in the pecking order given his greater exposure to first-team football at a higher level, having earned a €26million move from Genoa to Juventus at the start of the season, before being loaned back.

It's not proven to be a straightforward season for Genoa, however. Although their form picked up before before the suspension, they will resume their season later this month just above the relegation zone.

Romero has played 21 of their 27 Serie A games - more than any of his defensive colleagues - and made 51 interceptions, a figure bettered by only Armando Izzo (58) among defenders in Italy's top flight.

Eight defenders have attempted more than his 40 tackles, but none of those above him have succeeded as often as him (68 per cent success). A difficult year it may have been, and reports suggest Juve could even sell him on again, but he has done relatively well despite the circumstances.

 

DIEGO ROSSI (URUGUAY)

Uruguay continue to rely on a number of their veterans of previous tournaments, but this will have to change in the coming months and years - especially in attack.

Although Luis Suarez remains a potent weapon, Edinson Cavani has shown signs of decline in the past year, while Cristhian Stuani is now playing in Spain's second tier. All three will be 34 years old by the time the tournament starts.

Diego Rossi should back himself to be in position to put pressure on that star trio. He left Penarol for Los Angeles FC aged 19 and has proven an instant hit in MLS, having a hand in 41 goals (12 assists, 29 goals) in 68 regular-season appearances – only three players have contributed more.

His ability to play effectively alongside another forward could also help his chances of breaking into the team – Rossi and Carlos Vela have created 84 chances for each other, the second-highest such figure in MLS since 2018, while in the same timeframe only Julian Gressel and Josef Martinez (18) have set up more goals for each other than the LAFC pair (16).

LAFC general manager John Thorrington has spoken of "significant interest" in Rossi from Europe, and such a move would give the forward a great chance of making the grade for Uruguay.

JORGE CARRASCAL (COLOMBIA)

Versatile River Plate attacking midfielder Jorge Carrascal will get fans off their seats if he manages to secure a place in the Colombia squad alongside club-mate Juan Quintero.

A tricky player, comfortable out wide or behind a striker, Carrascal debuted for Millonarios at just 16. He initially struggled after joining River Plate on loan from Ukraine's Karpaty Lviv last year, but he has shown glimpses of immense promise and been capped by Colombia's Under-23s.

Representing his country at youth level for the first time since 2015, the 22-year-old scored in each of his first three games at the Pre-Olympic Tournament and started all seven matches.

For River, the former Sevilla youngster - whose time in Spain was curtailed by injuries - has scored four goals and set up another in 17 matches across all competitions.

Running at defenders is his best quality, however. A flamboyant player, Carrascal has averaged 4.9 successful take-ons per 90 minutes in the Superliga this term, succeeding 53 per cent of the time. Only one under-23 player tries his luck more often in this regard - he certainly likes to entertain.

Who knows, a few successive starts could be all that stands in Carrascal's way before an international call-up - then his future will surely lead him back for another crack at Europe.


REINIER (BRAZIL)

It might seem a long shot for a player who has yet to feature for Real Madrid's first team and started only twice at the Pre-Olympic Tournament to be playing for Brazil's senior side in just over a year's time.

But Reinier will have the benefit of 12 months in the limelight at one of the world's biggest clubs. After signing from Flamengo for €30m, Reinier netted a brace in just his third Castilla appearance - his final match before the coronavirus crisis intervened.

The pre-season will be key if the 18-year-old is to get a chance at Madrid in 2020-21, and there is no reason why he could not then do enough to catch Tite's eye.

During his brief time in professional football back in Brazil, Reinier made 14 Brasileiro appearances and had a hand in eight goals (six assists, two goals), one every 118 minutes on average.

By comparison, Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo were significantly less effective - they played a role in a goal every 239 minutes and 341 minutes, respectively, when they were in Brazil, yet both have enjoyed largely promising starts in Madrid.

Vinicius made the big-money move from Flamengo to Madrid in 2018 and had debuted for Brazil within 12 months of his LaLiga bow. The path is clear.

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