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Angry Sarri storms out of Chelsea training before Europa League final

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Baku – Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri stormed off in anger after television cameras caught Gonzalo Higuain and David Luiz clashing at a training session in Baku ahead of Wednesday’s Europa League final.

Sarri was seen throwing away his Chelsea baseball cap, kicking it and then picking it up and angrily slamming it to the ground as he left the pitch at the Baku Olympic Stadium, where the final against Arsenal will be played.

The whole training session was open to media and so television cameras caught the incident, which does not bode well for Chelsea in the lead up to the match.

Sarri’s reaction came not long after he had spoken of how he “loved” his players and English football, comments that suggested a departure from Stamford Bridge after just one season may not be inevitable.

The former Napoli boss has been strongly linked with a return to Italy to take the vacant coaching position at champions Juventus.

“I want to think only to the final. I have a contract with Chelsea for two years, so first of all I will speak with Chelsea, but now is not the moment,” Sarri said of the Juventus speculation at a press conference in Baku on Tuesday.

The 60-year-old could replace the departing Massimiliano Allegri in Turin after a difficult season in London, and reports have said that Chelsea would not block his departure.

However, he insists his first season in charge after arriving from Napoli can be classified as a success regardless of what happens at the imposing Olympic Stadium here.

He did not lose a Premier League game until late November and despite his team’s form tailing off after that, they still finished third, ahead of both Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal, to secure a return to the Champions League.

In addition, they only lost the League Cup final on penalties against Manchester City, and now have the chance to win the Europa League for the second time in seven seasons.

“For me at the beginning of the season it was really very difficult to understand my players, to understand the mentality, but after a very difficult month in January, in February they started to change,” he said.

“In this moment I love them because I have 22 wonderful men and wonderful players so I’m really happy with them and of course I have to consider it for the future and I have to consider that I love English football, I love the Premier League.”

Sarri added that winning the Europa League — which would be his first major honour — would turn a “very good season” into a “wonderful” one.

“We have had ups and downs, but from the downs we have become stronger, we built a stronger group and that is one of the reasons why we are here tonight,” said skipper Cesar Azpilicueta.

“I think we all deserve to do tomorrow a good game, to play with our heart, to give everything.

“We missed the Carabao (League) Cup final on penalties in an unlucky way so tomorrow we have a good opportunity to be happy all together with the manager. There is no time to talk about this speculation.”


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Rahane: Different ball game with a pink ball

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Cape Town – India batsman Ajinkya Rahane feels it is a “different ball game” when facing the pink ball for the first time.

Rahane was part of a contingent of India’s Test squad that has been training with the pink ball under lights as they prepare for their first ever day-night Test against Bangladesh that will take place in Kolkata from November 22.

Not many India’s players have ever played competitive cricket with the pink ball and Rahane spoke about the sessions to reporters.

Rahane said: “We had two good practice sessions, actually three or four but two with the pink ball, one during the day and one under lights.

“It was actually exciting. It was the first time I played with pink ball, and definitely it’s a different ball game as compared to red ball.”

India batsmen Mayank Agarwal and Cheteshwar Pujara and bowlers Mohammed Shami and Ravindra Jadeja took part in the sessions, which were under the supervision of India legend and now NCA director of cricket, Rahul Dravid.

Like many others before him, Rahane said the pink ball “does a lot more” than the red one in terms of swing and seam.

The India Test vice-captain continued: “Our focus during the practice session was to look into the swing and seam, and also play close to our body.

“What we found out after the practice session that the pink ball does a lot (more) than the red ball.

“We have to play slightly late and close to your body. We had a very good practice session.”

India start their two-match against the Tigers with a red-ball Test in Indore on Thursday.

– TEAMTalk


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Bolivia crisis: Evo Morales says he fled as life was at risk

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Evo Morales arrives at Benito Juarez International Airport after accepting the political asylum in MexicoImage copyright
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Evo Morales resigned as president of Bolivia on Sunday amid protests over alleged election fraud

Former Bolivian President Evo Morales has arrived in Mexico City saying he asked for asylum because his life was in danger.

Mr Morales resigned on Sunday after weeks of protests over a disputed presidential election result.

The Mexican jet carrying him landed at an airport in Mexico City, where he gave a brief press conference.

Mr Morales said he was forced to stand down but did so willingly “so there would be no more bloodshed”.

“While I have life I’ll stay in politics, the fight continues, all of the people of the world have the right to free themselves from discrimination and humiliation,” he said.

Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said Mr Morales had arrived “safely” in the country, tweeting a picture of the jet that carried him.

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Estudiantes reopens stadium with flaming lion hologram

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