Van Persie and Suarez set for Old Trafford shoot-out


Van Persie and Suarez set for Old Trafford shoot-out
LONDON: Robin van Persie and Luis Suarez's tussle at the top of the Premier League goal scoring charts continues at Old Trafford on Sunday as leaders Manchester United take on Liverpool in one of the season's most keenly-anticipated fixtures. 

Neither player can stop scoring but while the superlatives have rained down on 16-goal Dutchman Van Persie, Suarez's 15 have more often than not been accompanied with pantomime-villain antics that polarise opinion on the Uruguayan. 

Last weekend proved a typical scenario as the FA Cup briefly took centre stage after a barrage of holiday Premier League action which left United seven points clear of title rivals Manchester City, who face Arsenal on Sunday. 

Van Persie's last-gasp equaliser against West Ham United had purists salivating but 24 hours later Suarez's integrity was called into question after he got away with a blatant handball to score his side's second goal against minor-league Mansfield. 

While van Persie has proved to be worth every penny of the 24 million pounds ($38.49 million) United paid Arsenal for his services, Suarez's contribution to a Liverpool side finally flourishing under Brendan Rodgers after a terrible start is perhaps even more impressive. 

He has worked tirelessly as a lone striker for most of the campaign and while his antics and reputation for diving mean the snipers will always be aiming for him, he is establishing himself as the latest idol on Liverpool's famous Kop. 

At least the 160th league clash between the fierce north west rivals looks like being spared the controversial build-up which has marred their most recent meetings. 

The focus before and during United's 2-1 victory at Liverpool in September was on concerns about crowd behaviour in the wake of the publication of a report into the Hillsborough disaster that claimed 96 Liverpool fans and spawned several sickening songs from United fans. 

Last February at Old Trafford the match was overshadowed by the continuing racism row between the clubs following Suarez's eight-match ban for calling United's Patrice Evra "negro" - a situation inflamed by Suarez's refusal to shake hands with the Frenchman before kickoff. 

United manager Alex Ferguson labelled Suarez "a disgrace" at the time but on Sunday he will be more concerned with making sure his leaky defence keeps the south American quiet. 

Suarez, who has admirably led the Liverpool attack alone this season now has Daniel Sturridge for company after he joined from Chelsea. 

Both scored against Mansfield although how to pair them successfully could pose a challenge to Rodgers who has hinted that Suarez may be moved to a wider position. 

"When he played at Ajax he played in behind as a number 10, in between the lines, and he played as a reverse winger from the left side so he wasn't quite out wide - he was tucked in round the corner," Rodgers said this week. 
Pele : 1970 Brazil side more gifted than Spain

AO PAULO: Brazil's 1970 World Cup winners contained more gifted individuals than Spain's current all-conquering national side, the Brazilian side's greatest player Pele said on Wednesday.

Asked who would win a showdown between the two teams, Pele flashed a big smile and said: "If I was playing, we'd win, no doubt about it."

"As long as they are comparing teams with the 1970s, it is because the 1970s team is better," he added. "(The) 1970 (team) is the standard by which others are rated."

Spain won the European Championship for the second time in a row on Sunday and, as World Cup Winners in 2010, became the first team in the post-war era to win three successive major international tournaments.

Zidane 'dreams' of France coaching post

PARIS: The president of the French Football Federation admitted Tuesday that Zinedine Zidane is a contender to one day manage France, although he will not be the successor to the recently-departed Laurent Blanc.

Zidane holds legendary status in France as a member of the national teams that won the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 and is currently working as sporting director at Real Madrid.

The 40-year-old is also studying a diploma in sports management in Limoges and FFF supremo Noel Le Graet believes the former Juventus and Real Madrid playmaker has what it takes to become a future coach of Les Bleus.

Spain beat Italy and win Euro 2012


KIEV: World champions Spain took their place among the game's greats when they thrashed Italy 4-0 to become the first team to win successive European Championship titles on Sunday.

Goals from David Silva, Jordi Alba, Fernando Torres and Juan Mata gave the world champions an easy victory over an Italian team down to 10 men through injury for the last half-hour.

The diminutive Silva scored with a rare header after a Cesc Fabregas pull-back in the 14th minute before a superb sprint finish from left-back Alba following a pinpoint Xavi pass doubled their lead four minutes before halftime.

Torres, who scored the winner in the final when they won the title in 2008, struck their third goal in the 84th minute before setting up fellow substitute Mata to add the final flourish in the 88th.