Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus fears getting injured again

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Gabriel Jesus admits his knee problems have been at the back of his mind during his recent return to action for Manchester City.

The Brazil striker, who was sidelined for two months after suffering ligament damage on New Year’s Eve, stepped up his comeback by starting in Wednesday’s Champions League clash against Basel.

The 20-year-old, who had appeared as a substitute in the three previous games, also got back on the scoresheet for the first time since November by netting after just eight minutes.

It did not prove enough to prevent City’s first loss at the Etihad Stadium for 15 months, with the Swiss side coming back to win 2-1, but progress to the quarter-finals was still comfortably secured 5-2 on aggregate.

Jesus said: “When you are in the game, without wanting it, you end up thinking about the previous game where you got injured, you have a bit of fear.

“But, as you are playing more and more, you are going to get that fear away and play your football.

“I think I still played with some fear, there’s some movements when I still have some worries about getting injured again.

“I know anything can happen but I’m sure that the more you play, the quicker that fear is going to go away.”
Despite his concerns, Jesus did not feel any ill effects as he completed 90 minutes.

“Physically, I’m feeling very well,” he said. “Tactically too. I’m a bit sad for the result, that’s not what we wanted, but I’m happy we have got through to the next round.”

Gabriel Jesus 4

City looked to have picked up where they left off after last month’s 4-0 first-leg win over Basel as Jesus turned home Bernardo Silva’s low cross.

But after making six changes for an ultimately inconsequential game, City lacked intensity and Basel hit back to restore some pride with goals from Mohamed Elyounoussi and Michael Lang.

Jesus now hopes to play a part as City look to wrap up the Premier League title and continue in Europe, but he has issues about having to bide his time behind Sergio Aguero, who has hit form in his absence.

“Aguero is my team-mate and I’ll always cheer for him to score and help the club,” said Jesus. “When the opportunity comes for me, I’ll do my best and I’m sure that they’ll support me.”

Jesus is of a similar opinion of Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino when it comes to international duty.

He said: “We compete for the position but we’re friends as well. If Firmino is doing well, I’m happy for him.”

Another Brazilian with injury problems is the world’s most expensive player, Neymar. The Paris Saint-Germain star has undergone surgery to repair a broken foot, casting doubt over his World Cup participation.

Jesus, who had a similar problem last season, said: “Neymar sent me a message right after his injury. I told him how I felt and how my recovery was. He is a fighter and everything is going to be fine.”

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Fiorentina's Davide Astori given emotional send-off as Juventus stars Gianluigi Buffon and Giorgio Chiellini attend funeral

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Thousands of mourners and the cream of Italian football gave an emotional send-off Thursday to Fiorentina player Davide Astori, whose sudden death at the age of 31 has shocked the country.

Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and his Juventus team-mate Giorgio Chiellini were among those who paid their respects in Florence to the defender who captained his club and played 14 times for his country.

One banner in the crowd read “Ciao captain”, another “Our captain forever” and purple smoke from flares to match the colour of Fiorentina’s shirts filled the sky.

Applause rang out as Astori’s coffin was carried into the Santa Croce basilica as children wearing Fiorentina tracksuits formed a guard of honour.

Milan Badelj, Astori’s deputy captain at the club, paid tribute to the player in a homily.

“You were the son and the brother that everyone would like to have,” the Croatian said. “Your parents didn’t put a foot wrong with you, Davide.”

He said everyone who remembered Astori would tell his two-year daughter Vittoria that he had been a man with a capital ‘M’.

Gianluigi Buffon of Juventus

Buffon and Chiellini dashed back from London where the Turin team dedicated their Champions League victory over Tottenham on Wednesday to Astori.

Chiellini said after the match: “He is on our minds on this day. I cried many times. He was a fantastic player.”

Daniele De Rossi, Mario Balotelli and Francesco Totti were among Italy players past and present who came to pay their respects and the entire Fiorentina team, dressed in sober dark suits and ties, attended.

Astori was found dead in a hotel room in Udine on Sunday ahead of Fiorentina’s Serie A match against Udinese. All matches were postponed in the wake of the discovery.

A post-mortem examination has found Astori most likely died from a cardiac arrest linked to the slowing of his heart rate.

He will be buried near his home city of Bergamo in northern Italy.

Fiorentina and Astori’s former club Cagliari have said they will retire his number 13 shirt in his honour.

There are likely to be more emotional scenes when Fiorentina play their first game since the tragedy when they face Benevento at home on Sunday.

Provided by AFP Sport

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With Barcelona, PSG and Man City in cruise control, where in Europe can you find an exciting title race?

Tom Biggs 8/03/2018
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Juventus players celebrate victory against Napoli.

If an exciting title race is what you’re after, you’re not going to find that in the Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga or Ligue 1 this season.

With Manchester City, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and PSG all running away with things in their respective countries, only one of Europe’s top-five leagues could end up seeing a title climax that goes right down to the wire.

That of course comes in Italy, with Napoli locked in a battle with Juventus, who are aiming to win their seventh straight Scudetto, as we enter the final three months of what has been an already enthralling Serie A season.

Here, we take a look at five title races in Europe that are sure to provide plenty of twists, turns and excitement before an eventual winner is crowned.

ITALY

Napoli and Juventus are locked in a battle for Serie A.

Napoli and Juventus are locked in a battle for Serie A.

As previously mentioned, of Europe’s big five leagues, only in Serie A are we set to see a real tussle, as Napoli look to put an end to Juventus’ dominance over the past six seasons.

Maurizio Sarri’s side currently sit one point ahead of their top of the table rivals, having played a game more. Juventus secured a huge three points last weekend, thanks to Paulo Dybala’s injury-time winner away at Lazio.

That result piled the pressure on Napoli, who lost for only the second time this season later in the day, going down 4-2 at home to AS Roma. Despite the defeat, Napoli know the title is still in their hands just as much as it is Juventus’.

That’s because the two are set to meet, at Juventus Stadium on April 22, in a fixture that will surely decide whether the championship stays in Turin or heads to Naples for the first time since 1990.

POLAND

Former Arsenal man Eduardo joined Legia Warsaw in January.

Former Arsenal man Eduardo joined Legia Warsaw in January.

Could this be the year for Jagiellonia? Last season, they finished the regular campaign in pole position, only to blow their chances of a first-ever Ekstraklasa crown in the Championship round.

Their dip in form allowed Legia Warsaw to steal a march and win their 12th league title, but Jagiellonia have hit back this term and currently lead their rivals by three points with four regular season games still to go.

Once the Championship round – in which the top eight teams all play each other once – begins, points are halved, meaning Jagiellonia will hope to build up even more of an advantage to take into the final seven games.

They had just a one-point lead over Legia Warsaw last season, before missing out on the title by two points. Can the first-time hopefuls use that near miss as ammunition to come out on top this time around?

TURKEY

Galatasaray's Bafetimbi Gomis is the top goalscorer in Turkey right now.

Galatasaray’s Bafetimbi Gomis is the top goalscorer in Turkey right now.

Perhaps Europe’s most exciting title race looks set to unfold in Turkey, with as many as four teams still hopeful of claiming the Super Lig title.

With ten games remaining, just six points separate the top four in the division, with Galatasaray and Basaksehir leading the way from Besiktas in third and Fenerbahce a further three points behind in fourth.

Despite sitting top at this stage, Galatasaray have the hardest run-in, with games against all three of their title rivals to come in their final ten matches, while fourth-placed Fenerbahce have the easiest fixture list, with only Galatasaray left to play.

Basaksehir, who are hoping to win their first ever Super Lig title, and reigning champions Besiktas still have to face one another, as well as Galatasaray, meaning we’re all set for an enthralling end to the campaign in Turkey.

DENMARK

FC Midtjylland are aiming to win only their second-ever title.

FC Midtjylland are aiming to win only their second-ever title.

With just two games left of the regular season in the Danish Superliga, Brondby are only ahead of second-placed Midtjylland on goal difference, with both teams on 56 points.

Ten-time winners Brondby have not lifted the trophy since 2005, while Midtjylland are hoping to win only their second ever Superliga title, having won it back in 2015 for the first time in their history.

Once the regular season is complete, Brondby and Midtjylland will face home and away games against the rest of the top six in the division, as they look to get their hands on a trophy that has been won by FC Copenhagen in each of the previous two seasons.

Brondby will be full of confidence heading into the Championship round, having beaten their title rivals in both fixtures during the regular season, scoring five goals without reply.

GREECE

Olympiacos are hoping to catch AEK Athens.

Olympiacos are hoping to catch AEK Athens.

Over in Greece, Olympiacos’ dominance of the Superleague may be coming to an end, with AEK currently sitting four points ahead of the 44-time champions with just six games to go.

AEK will face a huge test this weekend, as they travel to third-placed PAOK, in a game that could see the gap between first and third close to just two points heading into the final five games.

Olympiacos themselves will be confident of winning their six remaining games, which all come against teams in the bottom half of the table, while AEK must also welcome Panathinaikos, who despite struggling this season, could cause the title hopefuls problems.

PAOK will also feel they have a chance of lifting only the third title in the club’s history if they are able to beat AEK this weekend, despite suffering a shock 3-2 defeat to seventh-placed Asteras Tripolis last time out.

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