'Next Generation' is a series focusing on the young players tipped to establish themselves as the elite in the 2020s.

Rayan Cherki is Lyon's latest academy prodigy and has set his sights firmly on the top, openly admitting last week that he aspires to one day play for Real Madrid.

He is the 16-year-old who has already made 12 senior appearances for Lyon and been tipped to emulate Kylian Mbappe as the next big thing to come out of Ligue 1.

Madrid are not alone in showing an interest in the teenage midfielder, though, with Manchester United and Liverpool also among those to have been linked.

Able to play on either flank or through the middle and capable of embarrassing defenders with his trickery, Cherki is very much a player with the world at his feet.

@UEFAYouthLeague pic.twitter.com/Rmi94MAfaZ

— Rayan Cherki (@rayan_cherki) March 9, 2020

THE BREAKTHROUGH

After scoring in the UEFA Youth League at the age of 15, becoming the youngest player to do so at the time, Cherki was already a name on Lyon fans' lips when making his senior bow.

That came in a stalemate with Dijon in October, making him the youngest player - at 16 years and 63 days - to appear for Lyon in Ligue 1 since Willem Geubbels in 2017.

By comparison, World Cup-winning striker Mbappe was still more than nine months away from his Monaco debut at the same age.

And while the game finished in a bore draw, Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas heaped praise on the youngster and later said he has the potential to become better than Mbappe.

"He is more technical than Mbappe... and more important - he has broken out at a younger age," Aulas told Tuttosport in February. "If he stays at Lyon for another few years, he will become even better than Mbappe."

Aulas was not alone in hailing Cherki, with boss Rudi Garcia singling him out for his energy in the middle of the park - something that would start to become a more regular occurrence.

Faut pas trop lui parler d’âge hein. @rayan_cherki https://t.co/lqZ6ihu600

— Kylian Mbappé (@KMbappe) January 18, 2020

STEPPING UP

Praise and potential is one thing, of course - showing that you are capable of living up to the hype is another matter entirely.

In the five months between making his senior debut and the enforced Ligue 1 break due to the coronavirus pandemic, Cherki regularly justified the talk of being the next big thing.

He has gone on to make 12 appearances for Lyon in all competitions - four of those as a starter - totalling 453 minutes in total.

Impressively, the France Under-16 international already boasts three goals and two assists, giving him a return of one goal involvement per 91 minutes on the field. He is also creating a scoring opportunity every 41 minutes.

Four of those goals involvements - two strikes of his own and two assists - came in January's Coupe de France win over Nantes, earning front-page billing on French daily L'Equipe. 

If Europe's elite clubs had not taken notice of Cherki before then, they certainly did at this point.

What a performance! @rayan_cherki pic.twitter.com/pi97bCaJMD

— OL English (@OL_English) January 18, 2020

SUSTAINING HIS FORM

Lyon have a history of bringing through talented youngsters, with the likes of Nabil Fekir, Karim Benzema, Corentin Tolisso and Samuel Umtiti among them.

The first player born in 2003 or later to play in Ligue 1, Cherki now needs to maintain the form he has displayed in his first half-season in order to emulate those aforementioned stars.

And the attacking midfielder, whose solitary league start came away at Paris Saint-Germain, certainly does not lack confidence when it comes to his career path.

"My dream is to play for Real Madrid," he said in an interview with Lyon TV last week, perhaps swayed by the progress of compatriots Benzema and Raphael Varane at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Cherki, also eligible to represent Italy or Algeria at international level through his parents, also outlined his intention to one day win the Ballon d'Or.

The versatile attacker still has a long way to go for that to happen, of course, and there are improvements to be made. One of the criticisms has been his insistence on going it alone too often, rather than taking an easier option.

"He has a strong ability to beat players but uses it too much and not especially wisely," Garcia said at the turn of the year, perhaps trying to downplay the growing hype. "We have to be careful with our young players, that's why we protect him a lot, especially in the media aspect of things. He is fairly quiet, but he must be aware that he still has huge room for improvement. The good thing about him is that he listens. If he continues like this, he will be able to go as high as possible."

Heed the advice of his manager and the path to superstardom awaits for Cherki, whether at Lyon, Real Madrid or elsewhere.

Lyon's youngster of many talents appears very much to be the next big thing to emerge from an academy that just keeps on giving.

Still hungry for your football fix? Belarus was only too happy to oblige on Friday.

From India to Israel, Serbia to Slovenia, broadcasters availed themselves of a rare chance to show live football, but nobody outside the former Soviet republic needed a 60-inch screen to realise the bigger picture.

Without context, there was little to distinguish Friday's match between Torpedo Zhodino and Belshina in the Belarusian Premier League. The hosts won 1-0, a scrappy 50th-minute goal settling a so-so match in the second round of the championship.

Yet while large parts of Europe hunkered down, self-isolating, working from home, avoiding the neighbours, fearing the supermarket trip, in Belarus it was handshakes, high fives and hugs all round.

Torpedo published a batch of anti-epidemic rules for supporters before the game, advising those over 65 and anybody with fever or signs of respiratory illness to stay away. Advising, though, rather than ordering.

All under-16s had to be accompanied by parents (because why not make a family day of it...) and fans were urged to stay 1.5 metres apart, a suggestion that was widely flouted despite there being thousands of empty seats.

It was those empty seats that provided pause for thought. How many could this stadium hold? The answer to that was 6,500.

And the latest coronavirus global death total? The harrowing number had climbed above 26,000 victims.

You could have filled the Torpedo Stadium four times with people who were alive at the turn of the year but have since succumbed to this terrible pandemic.

When football returns, even when spectators are readmitted, there will be empty seats in stadiums across the world. Whatever became of the fan who had a season ticket for seat C32, or B12, or H43, those who stood behind the goal?

Now that there is no doubt what horrors COVID-19 can visit upon families, streets, towns, cities and countries, it seemed beyond scandalous that Friday's match in the city of Zhodino was going ahead.

Football is on hold almost everywhere but Belarus. Seasons have stopped and players are trying to ride out the storm. Some have been infected.

In Belarus, there is a sense of ignorance in play, or perhaps this is the denial stage. What else could explain the embraces between players, fans dancing arm in arm, the handshakes on the touchline at the final whistle?

Wes Craven's slasher parody 'Scream' shone a light on the inevitable grisly fate of the horror movie character that might dare utter, "I'll be right back", before leaving a room.

This felt similarly ominous, just as, it must be said, did Liverpool's Champions League match against Atletico Madrid on March 11, in front of a full house at Anfield.

The United Kingdom had 460 confirmed coronavirus cases at that point, and eight deaths. Belarus, as this match proceeded, was teetering on moving into three figures in terms of cases, still waiting for its first death.

The country's president, Aleksandr Lukashenko, subscribes to the theory that closing down industry could cost far more lives than this pandemic threatens.

He wants life to carry on as close to normal as possible, and spoke of a "psychosis" that has "crippled national economies almost everywhere in the world".

Lukashenko says Belarus will be fine - buckwheat supplies are bountiful, and there are always potatoes if the country needs a back-up.

Speaking about US President Donald Trump, Lukashenko said just hours before Friday's match began: "I really like his recent statements."

Quarantining will come to Belarus "only when it is really needed", the country's president added.

"Time will tell," he concluded, whether the Belarusian authorities have got this right.

So Belarus played on. Footballers mingled, coaches mingled, fans mingled.

The unforgivable folly, the horror of it all.

Football may be on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, but Barcelona are reportedly already planning their transfer business ahead of the window reopening.

The LaLiga champions have been short of options up top this term as a result of injury lay-offs for Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele and reinforcements are being sought.

Two players continue to be continually linked with a switch, with Barca supposedly torn between a move for Inter striker Lautaro Martinez or ex-Camp Nou favourite Neymar.

Martinez has once again starred for Inter this season and the possibility of a move to Catalonia has been talked up by compatriot Lionel Messi.

But speaking earlier this week, Rivaldo claimed Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar would be a better option for his former club given his added experience.

Using Opta stats, we compare the form of the two players in all competitions this season and establish just who would be the better signing for Barcelona.

 

GOALS

Whoever Barcelona bring in to lead the line, they will need to have the ability to link up with others in the final third and continue getting the best out of star man Messi.

But first and foremost, Quique Setien's side need a goalscorer that can find the net and make a difference in key games.

Both Neymar and Martinez have the ability to do just that, scoring 18 and 16 goals respectively in all competitions this term.

However, Neymar has played nine games fewer than Martinez, giving him a minutes-per-goal ratio of 106 compared to 152.


ALL-ROUND ABILITY

There is little between the two players in terms of where their goals are scored, each netting two apiece from strikes outside the penalty box this term.

Neymar is comfortable using both feet to find the net, though, using his left foot seven times and his right 10 times to beat the opposition goalkeeper.

Inter striker Martinez, by comparison, has only managed a couple of goals with his weaker left.

But the Argentina international is better in the air, the stats suggest, given he has scored three headed goals in 2019-20 - two more than Neymar.

#Lukaku and #Lautaro

Ready to take Turin by storm #FORZAINTER #TorinoInter pic.twitter.com/BWhT6Gg5TM

— Inter (@Inter_en) November 23, 2019 ASSISTS

The deciding factor in which of the two players Barcelona should sign may well come down to their relationship with Messi.

Neymar knows Messi well from his previous four-year stint at Camp Nou, while Martinez regularly links up with the six-time Ballon d'Or winner at international level.

In terms of pure team play, this is another category Neymar edges having assisted nine goals this season, with Martinez lagging behind on two.

 

BIG GAME CREDENTIALS

If Barcelona are to spend a nine-figure sum on a player, they will expect to be reimbursed with goals in big matches and at key moments in games.

It is arguably Martinez's form on the biggest club stage of them all, the Champions League, that has fuelled rumours of a move to Barcelona.

The 22-year-old scored in four successive Champions League games during the group stage, making him the fifth Argentinian player to do so, though it was not enough to prevent Inter from exiting the competition.

PSG remain alive and well in the competition and that is in large down to Neymar, who scored in both legs of the last-16 comeback win against Borussia Dortmund.

In fact, since joining the French giants in 2017, Neymar has been involved in a goal every 70 minutes in UEFA's showpiece competition.

It is that ability to have a say on the biggest matches, plus his individual brilliance and underrated ability to set up others, which just gives Neymar the edge over Martinez at this moment in time.

Scotland rugby union fans have been starved of success in recent times but March 27 is a date when they can always raise a glass to a moment of history.

Way back in 1871, Scotland beat neighbours England in the first ever international in Edinburgh.

It was also a memorable day in the NBA, with a record crowd in attendance as Michael Jordan starred at Georgia Dome in 1998.

Here, we take a look back at the some of the most notable sporting moments that occurred on this date down the years.

1871 - Buchanan and Scotland make history

A crowd of 4,000 flocked to Raeburn Place in Edinburgh to watch history be made.

It was the hosts who came out on top, scoring two tries and a goal to England's solitary try – with Scotland's Angus Buchanan the first man to touch down over the whitewash at international level.

There were two halves of 50 minutes apiece, with 20 players on each side and the contest decided by goals scored.

1998 – Bulls clip the Hawks' wings in front of record crowd 

Twenty-two years ago, 62,046 spectators watched on at the Georgia Dome as the Atlanta Hawks took on the Chicago Bulls.

It remains the largest crowd at any game in NBA history, having surpassed the record of 61,983 set at Detroit Pistons v Boston Celtics in 1988.

Inspired by NBA icon Jordan, the Bulls downed their hosts 89-74.

2007 – Video replays introduced to help NFL officials

On March 27, 2007, NFL owners voted to utilise video replays as a tool to assist officials – the vote passed with 30 owners in favour of the move.

Cincinnati Bengals and the Arizona Cardinals did not agree to the use of replays, with each team paying up to $300,000 to have the necessary equipment fitted at their stadiums.

"It's a long time coming," said then-Atlanta Falcons general manager Rich McKay. "It made sense to us this year to do it. Instant replay is an accepted part of the game. It's what we are. There was not really much discussion about it."

In the same meeting, a proposal to allow a second interviewing window for assistant coaches on Super Bowl teams was approved, though it was decided defenses would not be allowed to use a coach-to-player communication device.

Tributes flowed on Thursday following news that former France coach Michel Hidalgo had died of natural causes, aged 87.

Hidalgo led France between 1976 to 1984 – hauling Les Bleus out of the international wilderness and to the glory of a maiden major honour at the 1984 European Championship.

France's run to the semi-finals of the 1982 World Cup established Hidalgo's swashbuckling side as a favourite of many neutrals, but he still needed a couple of tweaks to get the balance just right before expectant support on home soil two years later.

Ultimately he did just that, with a midfield quartet of Michel Platini, Alain Giresse, Jean Tigana and Luis Fernandez sweeping all before them.

Here, we take a closer look at the Hidalgo's foursome that is affectionately remembered as France's Carre Magique – Magic Square.

LUIS FERNANDEZ

The final piece in the puzzle and an invaluable presence at the base of Hidalgo's sparkling midfield diamond, Spanish-born Fernandez did not make his France debut until after the 1982 World Cup run. After that, he only lined up as part of the famous quartet when England visited Paris for a friendly in February 1984. A Platini brace saw off Bobby Robson's men and Fernandez' superb positional sense and tough tackling instantly laid a foundation for flourishes such as Giresse's mazy run to set up the opening goal.

The Paris Saint-Germain maestro also passed with smooth precision, not to be outdone by the more celebrated creatives before him. The youngest corner of the square, Fernandez was 24 at the European Championship and is perhaps best remembered for dispatching the decisive penalty two years later that saw France progress to the World Cup semi-finals once more at Brazil's expense.

He was also around for the denouement and the ignominy of failing to qualify for major tournaments in 1988 and 1990, before being granted a swansong of sorts as part of the Platini-coached France squad at Euro 92.

ALAIN GIRESSE

By contrast to Fernandez, Giresse was an international veteran of 12 years when France's moment of truth arrived. A diminutive gem of a footballer, his goal had France on the brink of semi-final glory against West Germany in 1982 – establishing a 3-1 lead in extra-time before a heart-breaking collapse to penalty shoot-out defeat.

Giresse arrived at the European Championships in prime form, having just collected a Ligue 1 crown with Bordeaux that was retained the following season. He made 592 appearances for the Girondins before joining Marseille in 1986.

Platini's relentless foil, living up to his nickname of 'Moteur', Giresse got on the scoresheet alongside Fernandez in the 5-0 group-stage hammering of Belgium – with Platini netting a hat-trick.

In retirement, a nomadic coaching career has seen Giresse lead the national teams of Georgia, Gabon, Mali, Senegal and Tunisia.

JEAN TIGANA

Giresse was not alone in underpinning lavish talent with a phenomenal work-rate. Any opponent of Tigana knew they had been in a game – not least the bedraggled Portugal backline as his slaloming run set up Platini's last-gasp winner in extra time of the semi-final. The goal stands as arguably the defining moment of France's victory march.

His long-time alliance with Giresse at Bordeaux was a gift to Hidalgo in plotting his celebrated configuration and Tigana would make the same move to Marseille in 1989, adding two more Ligue 1 titles to the three he collected on the Garonne River.

A future coach of Monaco and Fulham, Tigana was indisputably among the best in the world and finished second in the 1984 Ballon d'Or voting. There was, of course, only one winner.

MICHEL PLATINI

The true beauty of the Carre Magique was how the winning blend of technique and tenacity allowed Platini to enjoy the fullest realisation of his incredible talents. Few players have stamped their mark so irresistibly over a major tournament as France's main man did in 1984, making light of with weightiest expectations.

His preposterous final numbers read nine goals in five appearances, after scoring in each game of the competition. Having settled opening nerves 12 minutes from time in a 1-0 win over Denmark, the Juventus superstar made merry by claiming the matchball in consecutive outings against Belgium and Yugoslavia. He stood tallest in his country's moment of need in the semi-final before an error from Luis Arconada allowed his free-kick to squirm home in the showpiece.

From poached efforts, to delicate chips, via thumping drives and diving headers, no type of goal was beyond Platini, who won three consecutive Ballons d'Or between 1983 and 1985. He was a phenomenon, rightly celebrated and deserving of icon status now somewhat at odds with his discredited post-career in football administration chicanery.

It is 48 years to the day since the Los Angeles Lakers set a new NBA benchmark with 69 regular-season wins.

Bill Sharman's Lakers routed the Seattle Supersonics to end the year with a 69-13 record and the best win percentage (.841) posted by a team.

The stunning Los Angeles season bettered the Philadelphia 76ers' mark from five years earlier, although the Chicago Bulls and then the Golden State Warriors have since set the standard.

The Warriors' record will stand for at least another year, too, with the 53-12 Milwaukee Bucks faltering following Giannis Antetokounmpo's injury.

With the campaign now paused amid the coronavirus pandemic, we take a look at the teams and seasons that led the way.
 

PHILADELPHIA 76ERS: 1966-67 - 68-13 (.840)

Since the Washington Capitols ended the first 60-game NBA season with a 49-11 record in 1946-47, no team had been able to post a regular-season win percentage of .800 or above - until the Sixers.

Philadelphia dominated from start to finish in 1966-67, led by MVP Wilt Chamberlain. The campaign was the first and only to include 81 games, adding another to make the existing 82-game schedule the following year, and the Sixers finished eight games clear of a strong Boston Celtics outfit in the East.

Chamberlain was the only Philly player to make the All-NBA First Team, but the Sixers' depth made them one of the greats, and they ended the year as champions with an NBA Finals success against the San Francisco Warriors.

LOS ANGELES LAKERS: 1971-72 - 69-13 (.841)

With an extra game to play with, it did not take the Lakers too long to edge past the Sixers. And Chamberlain was again the star.

After leaving the Sixers in 1968, Chamberlain was outstanding once again in his penultimate season in the league, while Jerry West - whose silhouette graced a new NBA logo that remains to this day - also impressed.

Chamberlain refused to compare LA to his Philadelphia team after breaking the record, but they ultimately matched the Sixers by claiming the championship, with the veteran the Finals MVP against the New York Knicks.

CHICAGO BULLS: 1995-96 - 72-10 (.878)

It took 24 years and arguably the greatest player in the history of the sport to break the Lakers' record. Michael Jordan lifted the Bulls to the first ever 70-win season in 1995-96.

Playing his first full season back following his initial retirement, there was still no stopping Jordan as he kickstarted the Bulls' second run of three straight championships.

The guard was the MVP, the league's leading scorer and then the Finals MVP, while Chicago finished 12 games clear of the Orlando Magic.

They only lost three more games in the playoffs, too, sweeping the Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals before beating the Seattle Supersonics to take the title.

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: 2015-16 - 73-9 (.890)

Only two teams have ever broken the 70-win barrier, but the second, the Warriors, remarkably could not follow up their regular-season success with the title.

Golden State won three championships over a four-year stretch but could not get the job done against LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers in the Finals in 2016.

The Warriors' stunning regular-season efforts overshadowed an impressive 67-win San Antonio Spurs campaign, with Stephen Curry the MVP and top scorer, but the NBA's outstanding team went down to the Cavs in Game Seven.

'Next Generation' is a series focusing on the young players tipped to establish themselves as the elite in the 2020s.

When Ferran Torres scored the fourth and final goal of Valencia's 4-1 Champions League win over Lille in November, he further enhanced his burgeoning reputation and announced himself to another mass of admirers.

While the goal mattered little in the grand scheme of the match, and it wasn't a contest that was likely to draw in all of the indecisive neutrals on that night, it gave him his own slice of history, becoming the first player born in 2000 to net a Champions League goal for a Spanish club.

His cool top-corner finish after an incisive run into the box will have been met with nods of approval from those being alerted to Ferran, but his talent was no secret at that point.

A skilful and direct winger capable of playing on either flank, Ferran appears destined to terrify full-backs across European football in the 2020s.

THE EXPLOSION

Despite only being 20, this is Ferran's third season in the Valencia first-team squad and he already has 62 LaLiga appearances to his name – 20 of which have been as a starter this term.

He had only played 12 times for Valencia's B team in the third tier before Marcelino Garcia Toral promoted him permanently to the senior side in December 2017, his LaLiga debut as the fifth-youngest player in the club's history a rare ray of sunlight as he came off the bench in the rain during a 2-1 defeat at Eibar.

"All of us within the club were sure that we were looking at a very high-level footballer," Marcelino told Panenka magazine earlier this month. "It was only a matter of time before he exploded, because it was clear this player had to play. He still has a significant margin for improvement, but along with [Martin] Odegaard, for me, he is one of the revelations of the season."

Ferran's form for the Spain Under-19s in July further highlighted his potential, scoring the both goals in the 2-0 final win over Portugal and earning himself a spot in the Team of the Tournament.

He has since established himself in Valencia's starting XI, taking full advantage of Goncalo Guedes' injury absence – but with great exposure comes a greater worry for Los Che.

TEEING UP A FRENZY

Ferran and his sister Arantxa have a tattoo in common. "An anchor. It was a reminder for us not to let ourselves be sunk by anything or anyone," she told OTRO last year.

Perhaps that should serve as a portentous warning to Valencia at this time, with Ferran's future becoming more uncertain by the week and his contract due to expire in 2021.

While that agreement is reported to contain a €100million release clause, Valencia would rue holding out for such a figure at this point, as to do so will surely see him ultimately leave on a free transfer next year.

Local sports paper Super Deporte remain optimistic, some might say naively so. His silence in replying to an offer "should not necessarily be interpreted as a no forever", they wrote this month, suggesting they are trying to convince themselves as much as anyone else. Strong reports elsewhere suggest he plans to depart.

If Ferran enters the final 12 months of his contract, a transfer frenzy is bound to occur, with Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Barcelona, Liverpool and Manchester City all said to be keen admirers. 

The fact of the matter is, Valencia are running out of time. 

NOT THE FINISHED ARTICLE

There's no doubting Ferran's ability to excite – after all, only five midfielders in LaLiga have attempted more dribbles this season than his 92. But he certainly hasn't hit his ceiling.

Ferran has many areas in which he can improve, particularly with respect to increasing his chance creation frequency. 

Although his record of 21 opportunities crafted this term is by no means terrible, he is way behind Jose Campana (58), Lionel Messi (55) and Odegaard (54) leading the way in LaLiga.

His dribble map suggests a potential reason for this, as it shows that on many occasions he attempts to carry the ball, he is not in the final third of the pitch.

The greater awareness he requires should come with experience. It would be a bigger problem if he was struggling to ever find dangerous positions.

But he has touched the ball more times (51) in the opposing area than any of his midfield team-mates this term.

And while eight goal involvements (four goals, four assists) may not sound remarkable, that's only one fewer than Odegaard – a standout performer for many this term – and no one with more than eight is younger than Ferran.

Athletes are at risk of having their careers cut short if soon-to-be free agents face a prolonged period of unemployment due to the coronavirus pandemic, warned World Players Association executive director Brendan Schwab.

COVID-19 has brought sport to a standstill across the globe, with the 2020 Olympic Games, major European football leagues, the NBA, MLB and NHL postponed.

Euro 2020 and Copa America 2020 have been pushed back to next year amid the fight to combat the spread of the virus, which has claimed more than 21,290 lives.

It remains to be seen when and if the 2019-20 Premier League, LaLiga, Serie A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1 seasons will resume, raising doubts over the futures of football players – whose contracts are due to expire in June.

The likes of Edinson Cavani and Thiago Silva (both Paris Saint-Germain), Willian (Chelsea) and Dries Mertens (Napoli) are all set to become free agents.

As clubs and organisations try to reduce costs amid the economic crisis, Schwab – who works for World Players, which brings together 85,000 players across professional sports through more than 100 player associations in over 60 countries – told Stats Perform: "The challenge is to ensure enough liquidity during the shutdown so that the same content can be delivered to fans, broadcasters and brands but over a longer period.

"Existing contracts and regulations such as contract expiry dates and transfer windows will all need to be reformulated which can only be done though collective decision-making involving governments, sports bodies, broadcasters, stadia operators, player unions and civil society. The impact on the sporting schedule will be long-lasting and may take several years to return to normal.

"Seasons just starting – such as MLB, AFL and NRL – have a longer struggle in many ways. Shortened seasons are likely, but it all depends on the length of the shutdown, liquidity and the window available to complete seasons. Sports which own their own infrastructure will have greater flexibility and will be in a stronger position to design solutions.

"The key is collective decision-making, goodwill and long-term thinking, all of which can be difficult during such uncertainty. Many key sports governing, commercial and player contracts have 'force majeure' clauses which may apply in these circumstances. Certain parties may be able to 'cut and run', but that will only worsen the bleeding and make recovery more difficult. We need to bunker down, show we care about our people, fight the pandemic, exercise restraint, save as many jobs and legitimate commercial interests as we can, and re-emerge with a renewed, sustainable and collectively developed economic model.

"Tuesday was the anniversary of the death of arguably football’s most influential figure, Johan Cruyff. He famously said that there is advantage in every disadvantage. That thinking is needed right now."

Schwab added: "Individual players will be impacted differently. The destiny of free agents will depend much on the state of the leagues once the shutdown has been lifted. There is a risk that players coming off contract will face a prolonged period of unemployment if the shutdown continues, which can be career ending.

"The top players should be OK during this period, but remember they are a fraction of players and athletes who work professionally. It is likely that the economic impact of the shutdown will result in a deflated labour market for some time, which will suppress wages even among the viable leagues. For leagues outside the very top echelon, it may be a battle for survival.

"However, sport's essential role in society will be unchanged and may even be renewed and elevated. It will have a critical role to play as the community reunites after the pandemic and we expect a major resurgence in demand. Sport is therefore an important part of government planning, and it is pleasing to see that progressive governments in Switzerland, Sweden and some other countries have included sport in the stimulus packages they are announcing. They will reap a community dividend for doing so even as they balance the essential interests of the broader society and economy."

"[Next year] an intense year for sport as current seasons will now run well into the northern summer and that will require a readjusted schedule in 2021," the Australian executive continued. "The postponement of the Olympics may allow for existing concerns to be addressed including the health and safety impacts of the extreme heat of July-August in Tokyo. These issues all need to be worked through. We shouldn't assume the Olympics are simply put back 12 months. We are consulting with our affiliates about how to approach the shaping of the 2021 sports calendar."

Coronavirus has largely affected the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions, but Schwab said: "We have been concerned with some of the heath information being conveyed, including that COVID-19 is a disease that mainly affects the elderly and the vulnerable. Athletes, too, are vulnerable, despite being young and fit. The disease attacks the lungs, and athletes themselves have suffered very severe symptoms which may be long-lasting. There have been fatalities among people between 20 and 44 and young people can transmit the virus even if they don't have symptoms.

"Players have also been forced into quarantine when living away from their families. It is necessary that effective support mechanisms are in place to ensure the mental health and social wellbeing of players as well as their physical health. Our player unions play an essential role here."

Drew Brees and Nick Saban have each enjoyed careers that will ensure their place at the forefront of the rich history of American sports.

However, it is fascinating to ponder how the landscape of the NFL and college football might have been different had they worked together.

They came close to doing so in 2006, when Saban was head coach of the Miami Dolphins and Brees a free agent after contract negotiations with the then-San Diego Chargers broke down.

Brees had torn his labrum in the final game of the 2005 season and with Miami's doctors unsure whether his shoulder was fully healed from that injury, Saban and the Dolphins decided to trade for Daunte Culpepper instead.

It would prove to be one of the great missteps in Dolphins history, but what if Miami had instead decided to bet on the powers of recovery of a now 13-time Pro Bowler who has written his name all over the NFL record books?

The Saints go marching out

Brees instead signed a six-year deal with a Saints team coming off a 2005 season that saw them unable to play in the Superdome due to the damage it sustained during Hurricane Katrina.

It had been rumoured Saints owner Tom Benson was planning to void his lease agreement with the Superdome and declare it unusable, with San Antonio - where he had business interests - a potential destination.

The Superdome was repaired and renovated, however, and Brees led New Orleans to the playoffs in his first season with the team. The Saints uplifted the city as it recovered from Katrina and won their first Super Bowl title at the end of the 2009 season, with Brees named MVP of their win over the Indianapolis Colts.

Without Brees to turn them from perennial also-rans to Super Bowl contenders, Benson perhaps eventually decides to press ahead with plans for a move to Texas and New Orleans loses a team that became a beacon of hope for the city in the wake of its darkest hour.

Saban stays in the pros

At the time of the Dolphins' pursuit of Brees, they were coming off an encouraging 9-7 season in Saban's first year at the helm.

Miami won six successive games to end the campaign, finishing one game behind the New England Patriots in the AFC East.

They were unable to build on that promise, however, as the trade of a second-round pick for Culpepper proved an error. He played only four games and ended the season on injured reserve after knee surgery.

A 6-10 season was marked by continuous speculation connecting Saban to the vacant head coach position at the University of Alabama, before he accepted an offer from the Crimson Tide in January 2007.

Saban has since won five National Championships and six SEC titles at Alabama. Had he and Miami gone for Brees over Culpepper, the Dolphins may well have become consistent contenders in the AFC under Saban, with one of the most dominant dynasties in college football history never coming to pass.

Patriots lose superpower status

Saban's last win as an NFL head coach was in the Dolphins' 21-0 defeat of the New England Patriots in December 2006, handing former colleague Bill Belichick a shutout loss.

A defensive coordinator for Belichick's Cleveland Browns in the 1990s, Saban is one of few Belichick disciples to have excelled as a head coach, even if his glories have come away from the NFL.

With the team building and coaching acumen Saban has displayed since his departure, it is reasonable to believe the Dolphins would have been well-positioned to regularly challenge the Patriots' supremacy in the AFC East.

The New York Jets rose to prominence under Rex Ryan in 2009. Had Saban stuck around, the Patriots could have had two rivals capable of preventing their well-documented dominance of the division from stretching into a second decade.

Cam Newton is on the hunt for a new job in the NFL after being released by the Carolina Panthers on Tuesday.

His exit from the Panthers is a turn of events assumed unthinkable only a few years ago. Newton won the MVP award in the 2015 season for a scintillating campaign that ended with the Panthers losing Super Bowl 50 to the Denver Broncos.

A series of injury issues have derailed the former first-round pick's career and, as he surveys his available options, Newton will find only one legitimate potential opportunity to start in 2020.

Newton taking snaps under center in Week 1 is dependent on interest from a team that also parted with their long-time starter this offseason.

Cam Newton – Los Angeles Charger?

The Los Angeles Chargers stand as the only team with a prospective opening for Newton to start.

Philip Rivers, with the Chargers since 2004, is now a member of the Indianapolis Colts. Los Angeles have not made a move to replace him, leaving Tyrod Taylor as the presumptive starting quarterback.

That is an unappetising scenario for Chargers fans considering buying the personal seat licenses at SoFi Stadium, which they will share with the Rams.

Aside from a few seasons of promise with the Buffalo Bills, Taylor has displayed little to suggest he is a starting quarterback capable of leading a playoff contender. He is, however, an ideal backup for Newton. 

Taylor and Newton possess a similar skill set with their ability to make things happen with their legs. Newton boasts significantly great upside as a passer and when at his best he has the arm to make any throw. 

Newton would also find an excellent set of weapons to get the ball to. Keenan Allen has at least 1,100 receiving yards in each of the last three seasons while Mike Williams provides a big-bodied target with the catch radius to negate the impact of inaccurate passes.

Hunter Henry is a prolific if oft-injured option at tight end and Austin Ekeler established himself as one of the better all-round running backs in the NFL last year.

The fit with the Chargers could hardly be better for Newton, who would instantly energise an uninspired fanbase. However, with the Chargers in a position to add one of the top quarterbacks in the draft with the sixth overall pick, they may not have interest. If they don't, then Newton will have to reconcile himself with being a backup.

Other potential destinations

Teams where Newton would appear to have a shot at replacing the current starter are thin on the ground. 

His best bets are with franchises that have 2019 draft picks who were not selected in the first round under center – the Broncos and Jacksonville Jaguars.

Second-rounder Drew Lock impressed down the stretch for the Broncos, but Denver will not have seen enough to be totally convinced by a gunslinger with a tendency for rash decisions.

Newton is an upgrade on Lock when healthy and the same is true with Jaguars starter Gardner Minshew. 

Minshew outplayed Nick Foles last year as a sixth-round rookie and his exciting style of play made him a cult hero in Jacksonville. Consistency will be key, however, if the Jaguars are to excel. Newton would be a tremendous replacement were Minshew to fail to regularly produce his best.

The Jags' AFC South rivals the Tennessee Titans are a possible outsider for Newton. They need a backup for Ryan Tannehill following Marcus Mariota's departure. Newton is an excellent insurance policy if Tannehill's 2019 resurgence proves a flash in the pan.

Proving his fitness

Any team considering taking a chance on Newton will be very interested in a physical examination given his recent injury history.

He battled a shoulder injury in 2018 and suffered a Lisfranc fracture last year, the latter issue limiting him to just two games. 

Newton's durability concerns may be a substantial worry for the Chargers, whose problems at offensive line led to much of Rivers' struggles in his final years with the team, though they have addressed the trenches by trading for guard Trai Turner and signing tackle Bryan Bulaga.

If Newton is to find a new home, he will need to prove he is healthy. Given the recent NFL order for teams to shut down their facilities due to the coronavirus pandemic, the opportunity to do so in a physical may not come for some time.

Newton is set to move on to the next stage of his NFL career but he may have to play the waiting game to find out where that will take place.

It seems no matter how many times Georges St-Pierre insists he is retired the lure of competition just proves too strong and there would be no greater challenger than the fearsome Khabib Nurmagomedov.

GSP is simply a legend in the world of MMA but he has not fought since 2017 when he defeated Michael Bisping, a fight itself that followed a four-year hiatus.

Khabib, meanwhile, has steamrollered all before him and 'the Eagle' is preparing for a mouth-watering bout with Tony Ferguson.

But, should Khabib come through that unscathed, would the prospect of a showdown for the ages be too good for GSP to turn down?

In the second instalment of our UFC dream fights we would love to see series, we have taken a closer examination of Khabib and GSP's records in the Octagon.

 

WHY DO WE WANT TO SEE THIS FIGHT?

This fight would pit an all-time great in GSP against a modern-day great in Khabib and it is a bout MMA fans are desperate to see.

Khabib is headed for the sort of career where he can quite legitimately claim to be the greatest of all time, while GSP is also in that elite category.

With awesome wrestling skills and expert striking there are not many weaknesses in Khabib's game. GSP also has few flaws, although his advancing years – he is now 38 – would probably make Khabib favourite if these two were ever to mix it.


GREATEST ACHIEVEMENTS

As yet, no one has been able to conquer Khabib, who is unbeaten in 28 professional MMA fights. He reached the summit of UFC's lightweight division with a dominant decision win over Al Iaquinta at UFC 223 in April 2018 and has since defended the strap against Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier. 

GSP is a UFC Hall of Fame shoo-in. He is a two-time welterweight champion, including nine successful defences during his second run from 2008 to 2013. In 2017, GSP defeated Bisping to become middleweight champion, which remains his last fight in the organisation. 


WHAT'S THEIR MMA RECORD (W-L-D)?

Khabib: 28-0-0

GSP: 26-2-0


TALE OF THE TAPE

Khabib:

Age: 31
Height: 5' 10" (177cm)
Weight: 155 lbs (70 kg)
Reach: 70"
Leg Reach: 40"

GSP:

Age: 38
Height: 5'11" (180cm)
Weight: 185 lbs (84kg)
Reach: 76"
Leg Reach: 42"


WHAT THEY'VE SAID ABOUT A POTENTIAL FIGHT

"Our opponent is definitely Tony Ferguson. There's no other name that deserves it. We wanted the GSP fight, but GSP didn't get along with the UFC. If the UFC and GSP can negotiate, we want to meet GSP after the Ferguson fight," Khabib said in November on the potential for fighting GSP further down the line.

"We tried to make the right fight but it didn't work," GSP told ESPN in September. "If everything is aligned contractually, as we speak now, yes, I would [come back for Khabib]."

FIGHT STATS IN UFC

Khabib:

- Khabib has a 50 per cent significant strike accuracy, with 679 of 1364 such attempts landed.

- A highly accomplished grappler, Khabib has landed 59 of his 124 takedowns attempts for an accuracy of 48 per cent.

- He lands 4.29 significant strikes per minute, and absorbs just 1.7 from his opponents. Khabib has an average fight time of 13 minutes and 56 seconds.

- In defense too, Khabib is impressive. He has thwarted 85 per cent of takedowns, and defended against 67 per cent of significant strikes.

GSP:

- GSP has connected with 53 per cent of significant strikes, landing 1,313 of his 2,470 attempts.

- A similarly astute grappler, 90 of his 122 takedown attempts have landed for a grappling accuracy of 74 per cent.

- GSP lands 3.83 significant strikes per minute and absorbs 1.5.

- He has defended 84 per cent of the takedown attempts against him, and 73 per cent significant strikes.

"We are a club in Serie C that already thinks with a Serie A mind."

Monza are no ordinary third-tier team in Italy. They are owned by former Prime Minister and Milan president Silvio Berlusconi, who returned to football in 2018 after selling his beloved Rossoneri a year earlier.

Now, Monza are dreaming big – aiming to be in Serie A in 2021. The Bagai were on track for promotion to the second division prior to the coronavirus pandemic, comfortably top of Serie C by 16 points through 27 games.

While COVID-19 has halted Monza's quest, their aspirations remain the same, despite the disruption.

"It is undoubtedly true that we are experiencing a very challenging situation," Sporting director Filippo Antonelli told Stats Perform. "We are in constant contact with the players and the staff regularly send personalised workouts. To date we have done something extraordinary, and the players remain really focused and highly motivated to achieve the Serie B objective.

"Monza's ownership is deeply solid and we enjoy a widespread network of relations and contacts developed over the many winning years, which makes it easier for the club to carry on their plans, even in difficult times, such as the one we are currently living.

"Such a situation was unpredictable, however safety comes first. With patience, once all of this will be over, we will start again with greater enthusiasm. Monza aims to be playing in Serie A. An exciting opportunity for all of us that we live with a lot of passion and commitment to make the most and best we can, day after day."

There is a Milan feel about Monza. After purchasing the club through his Fininvest company, Berlusconi turned to his trusted right-hand man Adriano Galliani – who was born in Monza – as CEO. Their partnership helped turn the Rossoneri into a superpower, with eight Serie A titles and five Champions League/European Cup crowns among the 29 pieces of silverware between 1986 and 2017.

Monza are also coached by former Milan midfielder and boss Cristian Brocchi, while the club boasts ex-Rossoneri defender Gabriel Paletta.

"When Berlusconi became the owner of the club, there was an immediate change of pace in the interest towards Monza, both from the media and the general public," Antonelli said. "The impact of such a high standing ownership on the club and the fans was indeed remarkable and significant: the sports centre has been renovated [redevelopment of turf pitches, synthetic pitches, gym, locker rooms and offices], the facilities have been secured, the Stadio Brianteo has been redeveloped through countless interventions [lighting, central grandstand, sky box], not to mention the improvements on the transfer market with the strengthening of the squad.

"I believe that all of this is what makes the difference, besides, of course, the winning mentality that Silvio Berlusconi has imprinted on the club, the team and the staff in the meetings that we were lucky enough to have with him… as for our CEO [Galliani], he often tells us that he 'belonged' to Monza for 10 years, he then was 'borrowed' to Milan for 31 years and now he's back at Monza."

Berlusconi's presence has changed the landscape for Monza, who tried to sign Zlatan Ibrahimovic before the star striker opted to move 15 kilometres away to Milan – the capital of Lombardy. However, Monza continue to be linked with the 38-year-old as he faces an uncertain future at San Siro.

"Ibrahimovic is a champion, our ownership has always hired champion players," added Antonelli, who has no trouble bringing new players to Monza under Berlusconi's ownership.

"If compared to how the situation was before, now a phone call is enough to immediately make a negotiation possible, today everyone would like to receive a call from Monza: at this time it is much easier for me to convince players to come to Monza."

For Antonelli, Monza means more than most. The 41-year-old emerged from the club's youth system in 1997 before eventually returning in 2015 once his playing days were over, witnessing Monza's relegation and two seasons in Serie D.

"I am very fond of these colours," Antonelli continued.  Monza are a club with fans who have ideals. The more time passes, the more I understand this reality and I feel increasingly involved in this project."

March 25, 2013 proved a momentous day for Tiger Woods following a rocky few years.

An all-time golf great, Woods' career appeared to be spiralling out of control towards the end of the 2000s.

But he was back at the top of the pile in March 2013, signalling an impressive renaissance.

It was also a notable – albeit controversial – day for Mike Tyson back in 1995, as the infamous boxer was released from prison after being convicted of rape in 1992.

Below, we look at those and the other major events to happen in the sporting world on March 25.

 

1958 - Sugar Ray Robinson claims historic fifth title

The phrase "pound-for-pound" essentially came into being because of Sugar Ray Robinson – a fighter whose performances in the welterweight and middleweight divisions earned him renown. A professional boxer in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, Robinson is regarded by many as the greatest of all-time and on this day in 1958 he became the first in history to win a world championship five times when he defeated Carmen Basilio.

1982 - Wayne Gretzky reaches 200 points for season

Wayne Gretzky's influence on ice hockey is unrivalled and he remains comfortably NHL's all-time leading points (goals and assists) scorer in history, with 2,857 – more than 900 clear of his closest challenger Jaromir Jagr. One of his finest accomplishments was becoming the first player to rack up 200 points in a single season during 1981-81, helping Edmonton Oilers to their first NHL title. He reached 200 with an assist early on against Calgary Flames, before adding another three points in that encounter. Gretzky finished the season with 212, 107 more than anyone else on the team.

1995 - Mike Tyson released from jail

After serving less than half of his six-year sentence for rape, Mike Tyson was released on March 25, 1995. He went on to ease through comeback fights against Peter McNeeley and Buster Mathis Jr, with Tyson's management accused of organising "tomato cans" to secure straightforward victories upon his return.

2013 - Tiger Woods regains world no.1 spot

After dominating golf in the 2000s, Woods endured a turbulent period from late 2009. Persistent injury problems, issues in his private life and struggles with a new swing all played a part in Woods dropping to 58th in November 2011. In March 2013, he was back on top thanks to victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, beating Justin Rose by two strokes.

2018 - Steve Smith punished for sandpaper gate

In March 2018, some Australia players were caught out in arguably the most infamous cricketing scandal ever. After admitting involvement in Cameron Bancroft's attempts at ball-tampering with sandpaper, captain Steve Smith was handed a one-match ban and fined 100 per cent of his fee by the International Cricket Council on March 25. That was just the tip of the iceberg, however. Smith and vice-captain David Warner were both banned for a year by Cricket Australia (CA), while Bancroft was given a nine-month suspension for his part in what CA labelled "cheating".

Not many can rival Conor McGregor's talking game but in Jorge Masvidal the Irishman would go head-to-head with a worthy adversary.

McGregor has forged a lucrative career in MMA by backing up his skills on the microphone inside the ring, meaning 'The Notorious' will forever be known as a UFC legend.

Masvidal has been around the block and earned a legion of fans for his all-action style but it was not really until the last year that the 'Gamebred' really rose to prominence.

While McGregor is not the natural welterweight Masvidal is, there is certainly a clamour to see the two go to war.

In the first of a series of UFC dream fights we would love to see, we closely examine McGregor and Masvidal's records in the Octagon.

WHY DO WE WANT TO SEE THIS FIGHT?

It is not just their ability to whip up a frenzy with their trash talk that would make this such an intriguing fight. The bout would be somewhat of a risk for McGregor, who is more at home in the featherweight and lightweight divisions.

McGregor has fought just three times at the 170lb welterweight limit, but a potential showdown could be a real slugfest between two supreme strikers. 

Many feel Masvidal – who also has good wrestling and grappling skills – may be too big for McGregor, but the latter has never backed down from a challenge and the bout would be a big-money draw.


GREATEST ACHIEVEMENTS

McGregor will forever be known as one of the greats of UFC and needed just 13 seconds to knockout the fearsome Jose Aldo and win the featherweight title in 2015.

A year later, he outclassed Eddie Alvarez to snare the lightweight strap and become the first man in UFC history to hold belts in two weight divisions simultaneously.

Masvidal is a veteran of the game but it was a trio of outstanding victories in 2019 that really saw him rise to prominence, a second-round knockout of Darren Till followed by an astonishing five-second triumph over Ben Askren.

Towards the end of year, he defeated Nate Diaz – a man familiar to McGregor, the pair having fought twice in 2016 – to become the BMF champion.


WHAT'S THEIR MMA RECORD (W-L-D)?

McGregor: 22-4-0

Masvidal: 35-13-0


TALE OF THE TAPE

McGregor:

Age: 31
Height: 5' 9" (175 cm)
Weight: 155 lbs (70 kg)
Reach 74"
Leg Reach: 40"

Masvidal:

Age: 35
Height: 5' 11" (180 cm)
Weight: 170 lbs (77 kg)
Reach: 74"
Leg Reach: 39"


WHAT THEY'VE SAID ABOUT A POTENTIAL FIGHT

"Any one of these little mouthy fools can get it. All of them. Every single one. It does not matter," McGregor said after beating Donald Cerrone in January, a fight that Masvidal attended.

 "It's a big money fight. It's a dude that's a two-time division champion. He has some impressive records, and he comes to fight man, so in that aspect, yes," Masvidal told the Ariel Helwani Show.


FIGHT STATS IN UFC

McGregor:

- McGregor has a 49 per cent significant strike success rate. Out of 1,110 such attempts, 543 have landed. 77 per cent of these strikes come from a standing position, with 13 per cent from the ground.

- The Irishman averages 5.43 significant strikes landed per minute and absorbs 4.4.

- In defence, McGregor has avoided 55 per cent of significant strikes, and seen off 70 per cent of takedown attempts.

- The majority of McGregor's attempts are to the head, with 383 (71 per cent) landed in that area, compared to 92 (17 per cent) and 68 (13 per cent) to the body and legs.

Masvidal:

- Masvidal has a slightly lower significant strike accuracy of 49 per cent. 967 of his 1,957 attempted strikes have landed.

- The Miami native is more aggressive than McGregor in his attempt to try takedowns, completing 15 of 31.

- Masvidal has impressive defensive abilities, protecting himself against 67 per cent of significant strikes and 78 takedown attempts.

- The stats show his targets for striking are a little more varied. 526 (62 per cent) of his strikes have landed on the head, with 204 (24 per cent) and 122 (14 per cent) to the body and legs.

The coronavirus pandemic has put a stop to practically all elite sport across the globe.

From the Premier League to the French Open, the Masters to the NBA, teams and sports stars are having to contend with postponements and even cancellations. 

While potential dates for action to resume have been announced across some sports and events, they are at best speculative. Nobody can say for sure when normal service will resume this year.

This unprecedented state of affairs has left the world of sport in limbo, but there are some who will be more anxious to get back to business than others.

Here, we take a look at some of those clubs and individuals who were on the brink of achieving long-pursued dreams before a global health crisis brought things to a grinding halt.

 

LIVERPOOL'S 30 YEARS OF HURT

There was a time when Liverpool were the dominant force in English football.

When, in 1990, the Reds were crowned champions of England for the 18th time, few could have envisaged the drought that would follow.

The Anfield club have not finished top of the pile since, yet looked destined to end that barren spell after their phenomenal charge to the summit this season. Not even Pep Guardiola's Manchester City could keep up.

With Jurgen Klopp's side sitting 25 points clear and requiring just two more wins to seal the Premier League title, their pursuit of glory has been suspended indefinitely. How much longer will the red half of Merseyside have to wait?

BUCKS' LUCK IS OUT

The Milwaukee Bucks were crowned NBA champions in 1971 and since then... nothing.

That was just the Bucks' third season in existence, but they have not managed to scale those heights in the following 49 years.

It is not like they have failed to challenge, though, as Milwaukee have won their division 13 times during this title drought, including last year.

They crashed out to the Toronto Raptors in the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals to prolong the heartbreak, surrendering a two-game lead to lose 4-2 in the series, but the Bucks were leading the way in the standings before the pandemic-enforced postponement of the season.

 

NADAL CAN'T CATCH FEDERER... YET

Rafael Nadal needs one more grand slam victory to move level with Roger Federer, and potentially swing the debate over the greatest tennis player of all time.

The Spaniard is on 19 and would have been the clear favourite to win a 13th French Open title before the tournament was delayed until September.

What's more, Federer was initially set to miss out on competing at Roland Garros through injury.

It appears his status as the putative GOAT of the men's game is safe - for the time being at least.

SERENA CAN FEEL NADAL'S PAIN

For Serena Williams, the wait to join Margaret Court on 24 slams has been long and painful enough.

Attempting to equal the record is a long-held goal for the American, who nonetheless faces scant opposition to claim the crown of the GOAT of the women's game.

She last triumphed in one of the sport's four headline events in 2017, claiming the Australian Open.

However, she has since lost four finals and, at 38, the uncertainty over the schedule means time is ebbing away. 

 

TIGER STILL CHASING NICKLAUS

There was a time when it seemed certain Tiger Woods would overtake Jack Nicklaus' major tally.

Woods reached 14 – four behind Nicklaus – in 2008, but injuries and personal issues forced his life and career off the rails.

He ended his lean run in 2019 with victory at the Masters, but this year's tournament at Augusta has fallen victim to the pandemic.

Now 44, Woods is facing a battle to hold off Father Time and chase down that elusive tally of 18 major triumphs.

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