Deco relishes on-pitch reunion with former rival Ryan Giggs at Premier Futsal 2017 Finals in Dubai

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Renowned playmaker Deco was one of the legendary former stars in action in Dubai on Friday night during the UAE-leg of the Premier Futsal 2017 Finals.

The Portuguese star, who won two Champions League titles with Porto and Barcelona in a glittering career, captained Telugu Tigers to a thrilling 5-4 first-leg semi-final victory over Ryan Giggs’ Mumbai Warriors side at Al Wasl Football Club.

Just like old times, Deco and Giggs clashed in midfield – a sight we saw frequently between 2008-10 when the now 40-year-old plied his trade in the Premier League with Chelsea.

“We respect each other, Giggs was one of the best players of his generation and a legend of Manchester United,” Deco told Sport360°.


“They had a lot of fantastic players over that period, the likes of Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand, it was a fantastic generation. It’s a pleasure for me to play against him.”








The Tigers and Warriors will play the second-leg of their last four meeting on Saturday – with the winner going on to face either Ronaldinho’s Delhi Dragons or Scholes-led outfit Bengaluru Royals in Sunday’s showpiece final.


Tickets for the event are on sale here.




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Own goals are Barcelona's second-highest scorers and other things learned from Sporting win

Andy West 28/09/2017
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Barcelona overcame a stuttering display to edge out Sporting 1-0 in the Portuguese capital.

Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez both wasted excellent chances in the opening 45 minutes, but Ernesto Valverde’s side were fortunate to score a 49th-minute winner through Sebastian Coates’ own goal.

Here are three things we learned…

BARCA KEEP GETTING HELP

We didn’t know it at the time, but Barcelona’s season got off to an appropriate start when Real Betis defender Alin Tosca deflected Gerard Deulofeu’s cross into his own net in the opening half of the campaign.

‘Own Goals’ are now Barca’s second highest scorer this season, with Girona duo Gorka Iraizoz and Aday Benitez also getting on the scoresheet for the Blaugrana, whose latest victory came courtesy of yet another own goal – this time from Sporting defender Sebastian Coates.

In fairness, there appeared to be little Coates could have done to get out of the way after a flick from compatriot Luis Suarez bounced off him and over the line from close range, but that freakish rebound did a decent job of summing up the run of luck Barca are enjoying in front goal at the moment.

That kind of fortune surely won’t hold for too much longer, but Barca can enjoy it while it lasts.

UMTITI BOSSES IT

This was a game of few chances and one of the major reasons for Sporting’s inability to fashion clear openings was the superb performance of Barca central defender Samuel Umtiti, who was an absolute rock for the visitors.

Up against Umtiti, the home team’s starting centre forward Seydou Doumbia had no sniff of goal, and when he went off injured it was the same story for replacement Bas Dost, who came second to Lionel Messi in last season’s European Golden Boot award but couldn’t muster a single effort on target on this occasion.

The dominance of Umtiti was nothing new, with the French international greatly impressing since arriving from Lyon in the summer of 2016 and looking capable of marshalling Barca’s back line for several years to come. And, at last, fans can enjoy the sight of something they had been awaiting for many years: a natural heir to Carles Puyol in the heart of defence.

Samuel Umtiti heads clear against Sporting

Samuel Umtiti heads clear against Sporting

VALVERDE THE PRAGMATIST 

Since taking over at Camp Nou in the summer, Barca coach Ernesto Valverde has made several tactical experiments in search of a formula that fits.

At his former club, Athletic Bilbao, Valverde was wedded more or less every week to a 4-2-3-1 formation but he has already shown a lot more willingness to experiment with different shapes for his new team.

In Lisbon, Valverde employed a pretty defensive-minded 4-4-1-1 formation, with Luis Suarez leading the line on his own while Lionel Messi enjoyed the freedom to roam wherever he saw fit. That meant a general lack of attacking flair, with Barca managing just five shots on target all night – and one of those came in the dying stages from substitute Paulinho after an error by Coates.

Other than that chance, Messi and Suarez (two apiece) were the only visiting players to get shots on goal, as Barca looked more concerned with limiting Sporting’s chances at the other end. They did so very successfully, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen only making one real save, and the manner of the victory suggests Valverde will take a pragmatic rather than dynamic approach to big games this season.

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde

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Barcelona ratings as Samuel Umtiti scores an 8, Lionel Messi a 7 while Jeremy Mathieu did himself proud

Andy West 28/09/2017
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Barcelona overcame a stuttering display to edge out Sporting 1-0 in the Portuguese capital.

Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez both wasted excellent chances in the opening 45 minutes, but Ernesto Valverde’s side were fortunate to score a 49th-minute winner through Sebastian Coates’ own goal.

Here is our player ratings…

SPORTING

Rui Patricio 6 – Didn’t have many saves to make but was composed and reliable in everything he did.

Piccini 6 – Embarked upon some good forward runs but occasionally struggled to contain Alba.

Coates 5 – Couldn’t really have done anything about his own goal but looked error-prone with his heavy touch causing problems.

Mathieu 8 – Several timely interventions against his former club. Clearly playing with a chip on his shoulder and did himself proud.

Coentrao 5 – Made an excellent block to deny Messi but had little involvement in general play and was substituted.

Hernandes 7 – Led his team’s attacking challenge, producing some excellent constructive touches, but missed his team’s best chance.

Battaglia 6 – Positioned just in front of his back four but didn’t always protect them particularly well.

Carvalho 6 – Strong, powerful and skilful in the first half, but faded after the break.

Martins 5 – Some flashes of skill but little end product, and often forced onto the defensive by Alba.

Doumbia 5 – Made little impression before getting himself a yellow card for a dive which also saw him injure himself and depart.

Acuna 4 – Very poor. Most of Sporting’s attacking play came down the right and he barely featured.

Jeremy Mathieu competes for the ball with Messi

Jeremy Mathieu competes for the ball with Messi

SUBS

Dost 5 – Came on shortly before the break for Doumbia but was unable to significantly contribute, well contained by Pique and Umtiti.

Cesar 6 – An improvement on Acuna on the left wing but nothing particularly decisive.

Silva 6 – Replaced Coentrao at left-back and looked steady enough.

BARCELONA

Ter Stegen 7 – Only had one real save to make but it was a very good one to deny Fernandes, securing yet another clean sheet.

Semedo 7 – Solid return to Portugal for the increasingly authoritative right-back, who showed attacking intent and defended his wing well.

Pique 6 – Some shaky moments in the early stages but improved as the game went on.

Umtiti 8 – An absolute tower of strength in the heart of Barca’s defence. Nothing got past him or through him.

Alba 8 – Barca’s second-most dangerous attacking threat after Messi. Made several excellent penetrating runs and defended well against Martins.

Roberto 6 – Playing on the right of midfield in a 4-4-2, showed plenty of energy at both ends of the field.

Rakitic 5 – Subdued performance from the Croat, who played too deep to offer an attacking threat and misplaced too many passes.

Busquets 8 – Completed far more passes than any other player and kept his team’s possession game calmly ticking over.

Iniesta 7 – Some wonderful touches, and the universal respect he commands was shown by the standing ovation he received from Sporting fans as he was substituted.

Messi 7 – As always Barca’s greatest source of danger. Disappointed not to have made more of two first-half chances, but delivered a great free-kick for the winner.

Suarez 5 – Had a poor first half but improved after the break and was in the right place to contribute to the winner.

Samuel Umtiti heads clear against Sporting

Samuel Umtiti heads clear against Sporting

SUBS

Paulinho 6 – Came on for Iniesta with ten minutes remaining and helped shore up the defence as well as missing a good chance to make it 2-0.

Andre Gomes and Aleix Vidal. Brief run-out at the end.

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