By Tim Stannard
1) A test of Harry Kane’s world class credentials
There is a truly festive feel to Tuesday’s big Champions League clash – perfect with Christmas just around the corner in 10 months’ time.
The ghosts of Real Madrid’s past and future are clashing in the last 16, first-leg tie between Juventus and Tottenham Hotspur. Leading the line for the Italian side is a forward figure once discarded by Madrid for failing in the really, really big moments – Gonzalo Higuain.
In the opposition ranks, arguably the hottest striker in world football – and nicest bloke - is lurking. Step forward Harry Kane, the Spurs man who has bagged 23 Premier League goals this season and six in the Champions League.
This scoring prowess has put Kane on the radar for Real Madrid, a side looking for a striking upgrade from Karim Benzema. However, the clash in the Allianz Stadium is going to be a proper test of whether the Englishman is ready to climb up the big tree of football and sign on at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Juventus have conceded just the single goal in 16 games in all competitions which sees the Tottenham titan facing a proper test of his poaching prowess. “I always say that I want to test myself against the best defenses in the world and this is certainly one of those,” admitted the Spurs man cheerfully.
Tune into the XTRA at 7PM ET / 4PM PT for highlights of that whopping clash and also find out if Manchester City can do to Basel what they have been doing to Premier League teams all season – and that’s sit them down to deliver a lesson in attacking football.
2) Zidane says nothing to prove against PSG
And now onto Real Madrid’s present – Wednesday’s upcoming clash with PSG, officially THE MATCH OF THE CENTURY.
Coach Zizou has gotten his media duties out of the way nice and early. The Real Madrid manager was in defiant form telling the media not unreasonably that “he has nothing to prove” in the first-leg game in the Santiago Bernabeu.
On a tactical level, Zidane was keeping his coaching cards close to his chest in terms of the formation and starting eleven with Karim Benzema being on the end of some catcalls and boos from the Bernabeu faithful over what they see as underwhelming performances from the French striker. “What we want for our fans is for them to be proud of us,” said the Madrid manager, “as we are going to give everything.”
PSG are on their way to Madrid with coach Unai Emery speaking later, a manager also under pressure to the extent that nearly half a billion dollars has been invested in a team that is expected to win the Champions League this season.
Tune into the XTRA to find out who Carlos Ruiz thinks will come out on top in Wednesday’s clash as well as look ahead to a possible goal-fest between Porto and Liverpool.
3) Chloe Kim’s double gold delight
Time for some snow business from South Korea and the US has a new winter sports superstar with 17-year-old Chloe Kim winning gold in the snowboard women’s halfpipe with Arielle Gold picking up bronze.
In the kind of perfect backstory so beloved by Olympic broadcasters, the win is doubly sentimental for the snowboarder as not only does she bring a gold back home, she won it in a country where her parents grew up and where much of her family live. "I'm a little overwhelmed. This is the best outcome I could have asked for," said Kim after a dominating performance over the three rounds.
4) Canada’s curlers get their rocks off in gold medal display
Elswhere, Austria’s Marcel Hirscher ticked off an item in his sporting bucket list in the men’s alpine skiing combined – slalom and downhill – by winning his first Olympic gold medal. The Austrian is seen as a bit of a GOAT with 55 World Cup wins, but there was one thing missing. Not anymore.
The nattily-named Olympic Athletes from Russia have picked up a medal with the mixed doubles winning a bronze medal in the curling. But more importantly, Canada won gold with John Morris and Kaitlyn Lawes beating the Swiss!
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