NFL

Steelers star T.J. Watt cleared to face Ravens

By Sports Desk December 05, 2021

Pittsburgh Steelers star T.J. Watt is clear to face the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday after being activated from the reserve/COVID list.

The push rusher had been placed on the list on Monday in the latest setback in Pittsburgh's season, the Steelers having previously seen Ben Roethlisberger and Minkah Fitzpatrick also miss time due to positive tests.

Watt had only just returned after injury kept him out of the 41-10 rout at the hands of the Cincinnati Bengals, in which he recorded just two combined tackles.

The Steelers are said to have been sending practice footage to Watt all week so that he is apprised of the team's plan to face the Ravens.

Despite a difficult season for the Steelers (5-5-1) on the whole, Watt is a candidate for the AP Defensive Player of the Year, with 12.5 sacks and 41 tackles in nine games.

His 13 tackles for loss put him fourth in the NFL this season, behind Myles Garrett (15) and Micah Parsons and Nick Bosa (both 16)

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    Christian Wilkins is content with the level of care shown by the Miami Dolphins' staff after the team was heavily criticised following Tua Tagovailoa's head injury.

    Tagovailoa has been ruled out of the Dolphins' game against the New York Jets in Week 5 after sustaining a concussion in last Thursday's loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

    The Dolphins have come under scrutiny for allowing the quarterback to feature in that game after he suffered a head injury in week three against the Buffalo Bills.

    In that game, Tagovailoa missed just three snaps after his helmet slammed into the turf following a tackle from Matt Milano, despite appearing groggy and losing his balance in the aftermath of the incident.

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    Asked whether he felt the Dolphins demonstrated a duty of care towards their players, defensive tackle Wilkins said: "Oh, absolutely, yeah. We've got a great training staff. 

    "We've got great coaches, people who care about the players on this team, and our health and safety, our personal lives, all that stuff. 

    "This is our home away from home, so we've got a lot of people who care and it's bigger than just football around here and winning games.

    "There's a process to how things need to be handled and need to be done, and there's protocols in place for a reason – to protect the players."

    With Teddy Bridgewater set to replace Tagovailoa against the Jets, Wilkins said the Dolphins' "next man up mentality" will help them cope without their starting QB.

    "That's obviously tough to see and tough to deal with, but we all had each other's backs. We all had Tua's back and just wishing him well," he added.

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    "Other guys have just got to step up, other guys got to do their job, and we'll be just fine from that standpoint. 

    "We're definitely going to have to come together as a team and just do our jobs, do what we do. It's the next man up mentality and we'll just handle our business."

  • 'It's just second nature' – 49ers' star Samuel revels in highlight-reel touchdown 'It's just second nature' – 49ers' star Samuel revels in highlight-reel touchdown

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  • Liverpool and Rangers set for historic battle of Britain, Barca face Inter – Champions League in Opta numbers Liverpool and Rangers set for historic battle of Britain, Barca face Inter – Champions League in Opta numbers

    Liverpool face Rangers in a battle of Britain and Barcelona will attempt to apply more pressure on Inter boss Simone Inzaghi with a Champions League victory on Tuesday.

    An army of Gers fans will travel south of the border to descend on Merseyside for a Group A clash that will give them another opportunity to secure a first point, with the Reds in second spot behind Napoli.

    Barca moved top of La Liga last weekend and Xavi's side will start their third Group C game level on points with out-of-sorts Inter after losing 2-0 to leaders Bayern Munich last month.

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    Liverpool v Rangers

    This will be the first European meeting between Liverpool and the Glasgow giants in a European competition.

    The Gers have only won one of their seven away games in England, that being a 2-1 Champions League victory at Leeds United in November 1992 courtesy of goals from Mark Hateley and Ally McCoist. They have suffered six defeats and drawn twice.

    Liverpool's last meeting with Scottish opponents in the European Cup was back in the 1980-81 campaign, winning 5-0 on aggregate against Alex Ferguson's Aberdeen (1-0 away, 4-0 home). The Reds went on to win the competition that year.

    Jurgen Klopp's side have won 13 of their past 15 home Champions League group stage matches (D1 L1), scoring 36 goals in process. Their solitary defeat was against Atalanta in November 2020

    Rangers have failed to score in their two group games so far. Indeed, only Plzen (2) and Sevilla (3) have had fewer shots on target than the Scottish club (4) in this season's first two matchdays.

    Inter v Barcelona

    Inter have won just two of their 14 European matches against Barcelona (D4 L8), a 2-1 victory in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in January 1970 and 3-1 Champions League triumph in April 2010.

    Barca's two away wins against the Nerazzurri came 60 years apart, winning 4-2 in the Fairs Cup in September 1959 and 2-1 in the Champions League in December 2019.

    Inter have lost six UEFA Champions League matches against the Catalan giants, their most against a single opponent. Barca have only beaten Celtic (8) more times in the competition.

    Barca have lost three of their past four away Champions League group stage matches (W1), as many as in their previous 25 matches on their travels in the competition (W15 D7). Xavi is only the second manager to lose his first two away Champions League matches in charge of Barcelona, along with Louis van Gaal in 1997.

    Inter have lost their past two Champions League games at San Siro (0-2 v Liverpool and Bayern). Only once previously have they suffered three consecutive home defeats in the European Cup/UEFA Champions League (a run of three between February-September 2011).

    Bayern Munich v Viktoria Plzen

    Bayern have won all four of their European matches against Plzen, beating them twice in the 1971-72 Cup Winners' Cup and the Champions League in 2013-14.

    Plzen's two away European matches against Bayern have seen them concede at least five goals on each occasion, losing 6-1 in September 1971 in the Cup Winners' Cup and 5-0 in the Champions League nine years ago.

    Bayern are out to record three wins at the start of a Champions League campaign for a fourth consecutive season. In their opening three games in the previous three seasons and their two games this year, they have won all 11 matches by an aggregate score of 41-7.

    Plzen have conceded seven goals in their two Champions League games this season and only kept one clean sheet in their 20 matches in the competition.

    Leroy Sane has been directly involved in 14 goals in his past 11 Champions League starts for Bayern (8 goals, 6 assists). The winger could become only the second player to score in Bayern's first three Champions League games in a season, with Robert Lewandowski (in 2019-20 and 2021-22) being the other.

    Ajax v Napoli

    Napoli have never won away from home in the Netherlands (D2 L3) in any European competition.

    Ajax have failed to win any of their past 11 home European matches against Italian opposition (D6 L5) since winning 2-1 against Roma in this competition in December 2002.

    Napoli will be looking to win their first three Champions League group stage games for the first time. They are unbeaten in eight matches in the group stage of the competition (W5 D3).

    Ajax have won their past four home games in the group stage of the Champions League, scoring four goals in each of the previous three (4-0 v Borussia Dortmund, 4-2 v Sporting CP and 4-0 v Rangers).

    Napoli are the top scoring side in the Champions League this season with seven goals. Luciano Spalletti's side have had more shots (43) and shots on target (19) than any other team.

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    Marseille v Sporting CP

    6 - Marseille have lost six of their eight European Cup/Champions League matches against Portuguese opponents (W1 D1).

    16 - Marseille have lost 16 of their past 17 Champions League matches (W1), failing to score in 11 matches in this run, including both games this season.

    Porto v Bayer Leverkusen

    7 - Porto have won seven of their eight home Champions League games against German opposition (D1), winning five in a row.

    2 - Leverkusen have only won two of their past 13 away matches in the Champions League (D5 L6), with three of the previous four ending in defeats without scoring.

    Club Brugge v Atletico Madrid

    3 - Brugge are unbeaten in all three home meetings with Atleti in European competition (W2 D1).

    7 - Atleti have never won a European match against a Belgium club in seven attempts (five away, two neutral). They have played more major European games on Belgian soil without winning than in any other country.

    Eintracht Frankfurt v Tottenham

    4 - Tottenham have lost their past four Champions League matches against German opposition by an aggregate score of 14-3, losing twice to Bayern Munich (2-7 and 1-3) and twice to RB Leipzig (0-1 and 0-3).

    3 - Eintracht have won three consecutive European games against English teams (one versus Arsenal, two v West Ham), as many as in their first 14.

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