Dezko insists Man City will stay focused in bid to defend title

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Grounded: Dzeko and Man City got their title defence underway with a victory.

Edin Dzeko has insisted Manchester City will take nothing for granted as they attempt to defend their Barclays Premier League title.

The reigning champions launched their defence with a hard-fought 2-0 victory at Newcastle on Sunday with an efficient, rather than dazzling, display.

Title rivals Liverpool and Arsenal both enjoyed even narrower successes in their opening fixtures, and Dzeko knows there is no room for complacency during a campaign he expects to be as competitive as ever.

The 28-year-old frontman told CityTV: "It's just the beginning of the season and it will be, definitely, a long season with the five teams fighting for the title. This is just the beginning.

"It's good to start with a win, but we are not there. There are so many games to come and we have to prepare for the next one, for the big game against Liverpool to try to win at home.

"We have brought in some great new players. Some of them still need time because it was the World Cup and a lot of us came later to the pre-season.

"I think we can still improve a lot. Each game, we can be better and better and just try to continue where we finished [at Newcastle]."

Dzeko was a key figure in the win at St James' Park despite not finding his own way on to the scoresheet. It was his clever back-heel after he had drawn central defenders Fabricio Coloccini and Mile Williamson to the ball which allowed David Silva to fire City into the lead against the Magpies, just as he had done 12 months earlier.

But if Silva's 38th-minute intervention gave the visitors the advantage, it was one they were unable to push home until substitute Sergio Aguero beat Tim Krul at the second attempt in stoppage time at the end of the game.

Dzeko said: "We played very well. From the first minute, we were there like the manager wanted us to be, from the first minute to try to press them high, to try to score a goal. 

"We didn't score an early goal, but it was the perfect time, five minutes before half-time, and I think we controlled the game during the 90 minutes, were definitely the better side and deserved this win."

Dzeko's impressive individual display came amid reports that he is close to signing a new contract at the Etihad Stadium, but it was collective, rather than individual plaudits which were of greater interest to the Bosnia-Herzegovina international.

He said: "I am very happy because of my performance and the performance of the team because I think we were brilliant.

"It's always good to start the season with a win, especially away at Newcastle where it is always tough to go."

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Neymar set to feature in Suarez’s Barca debut

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The Brazilian's back: Neymar returns after suffering World Cup-ending back injury.

Brazilian striker Neymar has been given the all clear to play his first game since suffering a broken vertebra in his back during the World Cup when Barcelona play Mexican side Club Leon on Monday.

The 22-year-old could get his first experience of playing alongside new team-mate Luis Suarez as the Uruguayan is expected to make his Barca debut after being cleared to play in friendly matches last week by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, despite serving a four-month ban from competitive games.

Neymar missed out on his country's ultimately disastrous 7-1 semi-final defeat to Germany on home soil after suffering the injury when he was clattered by Juan Camilo Zuniga towards the end of Brazil's 2-1 quarter-final win over Colombia.

However, the injury could have been much worse as Neymar revealed that had the impact of Zuniga's knee on his back been centimetres higher he could have been left paralysed.

Lionel Messi is also likely to get his first outing since his Argentina side lost the World Cup final to Germany on Monday as Barca finalise their pre-season build up to the start of the La Liga campaign when they host Elche on Sunday.

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Watch Cristiano Ronaldo do ALS Bucket Challenge

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Daring challenge: Cristiano Ronaldo accepts the bucket challenge from ex-Manchester United team-mate Darren Fletcher.

Cristiano Ronaldo takes football extremely seriously but that doesn't mean he can't have a laugh at training and take part in fun challenges. The latest craze involves you having a huge bucket of freezing water poured over your head and then you can nominate three other unlucky peers. 

Ex-Manchester United team-mate Darren Fletcher nominated Ronny and here is the challenge:

Ronaldo has challenged three celebrities to do the bucket prank next. The Real Madrid man has called out Lil Wayne, Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez to be the latest victims.

Check out all the other athletes that have taken part in the bucket challenge.

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