Daily Digest: Two-goal Gareth Bale creates Champions League selection final headache for Zinedine Zidane

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Hello there, Stuart Appleby is here with everything you need to know in the world of sport…

TOP STORY

Two-goal salvo: Bale on the scoresheet again.

Zinedine Zidane acknowledged he has a Champions League final selection headache after his Real Madrid side routed Celta Vigo 6-0 at the Bernabeu.

Gareth Bale and Isco both pressed their cases for starting places against Liverpool in Kiev on May 26.

Read more here.

FOOTBALL

Today, Ernesto Valverde‘s Barcelona side can take another huge step towards history and become the first team to finish a La Liga season unbeaten.

Blaugrana face Levante (22:45) in their penultimate league clash of the campaign. Read more build-up here.

CRICKET

Royal Challengers Bangalore kept their IPL playoff hopes alive with a five-wicket win over Delhi Daredevils on Saturday.

Electing to bowl first, Virat Kohli’s RCB restricted Daredevils to 181-4 before the skipper himself along with AB de Villiers made light work of the chase at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium.

Our man Ashish Peter analysed the key talking points from the game.

In addition, we also shined the spotlight on IPL debutant, Nepal leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane.

FEATURE OF THE DAY

Alex Rea looks in-depth at Barcelona’s tactics ahead of their trip to the Valencia-based club tonight and discusses the growing role Ousmane Dembele is having in this Blaugrana side.

Read more, here.

SOCIAL MEDIA ROUND-UP

17-year-old Sandeep Lamichhane‘s debut attracted plenty of well-wishers on social media.

WHAT’S ON TODAY:

FOOTBALL: La Liga, Levante v Barcelona 22:45

IPL: Chennai Super Kings v Sunrisers Hyderabad (14:30); Mumbai Indians v Rajasthan Royals (18:30)

MADRID OPEN FINAL: Dominic Thiem v Alexander Zverev

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Daily Digest: Zinedine Zidane steers clear of speculation over Neymar to Real Madrid

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Hello there. Ajit Vijaykumar here with everything you need to know in the world of sport…

TOP STORY

Zidane is focused on Champions League final.

Zidane is focused on the Champions League final later this month.

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane is currently focused on the Champions League final against Liverpool and refused to weigh in on rumours linking PSG star Neymar to Los Blancos.

Read the full story here.

FOOTBALL

Staying with the Whites, Gareth Bale returns to the side for Saturday’s clash with Celta Vigo in the La Liga.

The Welshman will not only be looking to reclaim his spot in the line-up but will also be making a statement regarding his future at the club.

Our man Brendon Netto has more here.

CRICKET

Rain washed out the opening day’s play in Ireland’s inaugural Test against Pakistan.

The weather is expected to clear up on Saturday and remain so over the next few days. Ireland will be looking to create history in their inaugural Test.

Russell has not looked fully fit this IPL. Image: BCCI.

Russell has not looked fully fit. Image: BCCI.

In IPL action, Kolkata Knight Riders will look to bounce back from the thrashing they received from Mumbai Indians as they take on Kings XI Punjab while a hapless Delhi Daredevils play Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore.

REGIONAL

In local football, Al Ain dominated the AGL Awards, collecting four of the six top accolades.

For more details, click here.

SOCIAL MEDIA ROUND-UP

WHAT’S ON TODAY

FOOTBALL: LA LIGA, REAL MADRID v CELTA VIGO 22:45

CRICKET: IRELAND V PAKISTAN FIRST TEST, 14:00

IPL: KXIP v KKR,  14:30 & DD v RCB, 18:30

FORMULA ONE: SPANISH GP QUALIFYING, 17:00

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Ireland lights up as GAA season prepares to take centre stage this summer

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When all eyes are on the Premier League and La Liga this weekend, the GAA season will get underway in Ireland with over 200,000 people expected to attend the various matches taking place across the country.

There will be no separation of supporters, no stewards in high-visibility jackets and no police officers on horses outside the stadiums across Ireland. Gaelic Games are sports that have little existence outside of its domain.

You’ll never see the players on I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, they don’t make front page news on tabloids or carry small Gucci bags and drive Ferraris to matches.

Gaelic football and hurling are the dominant two main games under the auspices of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). They are strictly amateur sports played by warriors, dominating Irish summers. Each one of the players has a normal day-to-day job and will spend the majority of their 20s putting their lives on hold to train daily, in order to maximise their potential to represent their respective counties.

Football, rugby and other professional sports may have their stamp of popularity across the world, but Gaelic Games is a fundamental expression of Irish identity. It’s a game that continues to develop worldwide, with Sky Sports coming on board to raise awareness of the sport and will broadcast 14 live matches this summer, while Ireland’s state broadcaster RTE still remains the prevalent choice for people, screening 31 games.

The All-Ireland finals, for example, are played in front of 82,300 people every September in one of Europe’s greatest sporting cathedrals – Croke Park.

With 32 counties in Ireland – and the addition of New York and London – the competition is divided into four sections based on the four provinces of the country.

Win your first provincial match and you advance to the next round, lose and you have to endure the back-door system which includes facing other first round losers from the other provinces.

To win an All-Ireland you would need to win on average six matches, but if you go through the back-door system it could be as much as eight games.

Despite the large number of teams participating in the championship, there are really only three teams who have a chance of lifting the Sam Maguire trophy at the end of September – such is the dominance of teams like Dublin and Kerry. Also in the mix are ‘cursed’ Mayo, who have lost the last nine finals in which they’ve appeared – including three out of the last six deciders.

The men from Dublin go into the campaign as firm favourites to win their fourth consecutive title – and fifth in seven years.

This year, even without two former Footballer of the Year winners, one four-time All Star and a player who is considered the best attacker in the game currently, Dublin’s supreme wealth of talent is still the best in the sport.

At times during the recently completed National Football League – the dress rehearsal to the championship – they have played a glittering style of football, brushing aside each opposition with conviction and ease.

Their manager Jim Gavin is a former air corps pilot, while their four best players Ciaran Kilkenny, Brian Fenton, James McCarthy and goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton have the ability to determine the outcome of any match – such is their all-round class.

Providing a challenge to Dublin’s threat will be Galway, who they beat in the league decider last month, but look a well-organised and efficient team.

In the hurling – considered the fastest sport in the world – Galway are the reigning champions but will face the stiff challenge of Tipperary and Kilkenny.

Galway have the best player in the game in Joe Canning, the reigning Player of the Year who has been at the heart of the Tribesmens’ exploits for over a decade. The 29-year-old is your Tom Brady or LeBron James figure and shows a real physical presence, neat distribution and dominance of his channel.

But title challengers Kilkenny – nicknamed the Cats – may come roaring back into life this year. Their head coach Brian Cody is the sport’s best-ever manager, with 11 All-Ireland title wins in his 20 years in charge.

The Cats may be going through a transitional period, but with Cody at the helm, don’t be surprised if they are challenging for glory at the business end of the season.

It’s sure to be another thrilling season, but expect Dublin and Galway to light up another Irish summer and retain their gaelic and hurling titles.

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