By Tim Stannard
1) Countdown begins on clash of the season
Popcorn at the ready.
The clash that could define the destinies of two clubs and two coaches is just two days away after months of build-up. It’s a battle between a cash-rich, megastar-stuffed super squad from Spain…and a clash between a cash-rich megastar-stuffed super squad from France. Soccer doesn’t get any more down-to-earth that this.
PSG will be travelling to the Spanish capital on Tuesday with an awful lot of questions to answer. Have the Parisians been coasting in Ligue Un, where they are light years above the rest in terms of quality? Or has the recruitment of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe pushed PSG onto the top table of European football and Real Madrid are about to be put into their new place?
And what about the defending champions? Does the 5-2 thrashing of Real Sociedad at the weekend and a hat-trick for Cristiano Ronaldo mean that Madrid have finally rediscovered their mojo? Or was the result simply the natural reaction of Madrid playing opponents that have lost five out of their last six games and they still basically suck?
Tune into the Locker Room at 7:30PM ET / 4:30PM PT for the predictions of the expert panel on these particular ponderings.
2) Kane and able to take on Juventus?
But before Wednesday’s humdinger takes place, Monday will see four coaches talking, coaches managing the clubs in action in the following days’ Last 16 first leg encounters.
Pick of the bunch sees Tottenham heading to Turin to see if Mauricio Pochettino’s fancy-schmanzy soccer stylings will work against a Juventus team that has conceded just the single goal in 16 games in all competitions. Quite the test for Harry Kane, to say the least.
Manchester City will also be in action in a clash that most expect to be an easy one against Swiss outfit, Basel. But nothing should be taken for granted against a Basel team that beat Manchester United in November. Although to be fair, even Newcastle can do that these days.
Head to the XTRA at 7PM ET / 4PM PT for a full preview and prediction of both matches.
3) Antonio Conte admits lacks powers of persuasion
Talk about over-communicating. Having slipped out of the top four in the Premier League after winning just one game from five, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte might well have wanted to go into bunker-down-and-keep-quiet-mode. But no. Not Antonio, who in still talking himself into being sacked.
As well as using press conferences to deliver the spiel about himself doing an amazing job this season - but his bosses being at liberty to fire him if they disagree - Conte has been talking to the press to expand on his complaints. But the latest concerns his own failings for not being good enough at communicating his transfer needs to the Chelsea bean-counters. "A bit of a disaster," were the exact words from the Italian coach whose team are in action at home to a West Brom side that have won just the single match in 24 league games. What could possibly go wrong?
La Liga has a bit of business to attend to on Monday as it wraps up its round with Deportivo – the first match with Clarence Seedorf in charge – taking on the ever-entertaining Betis. Head to beIN SPORTS Spanish at 2:50PM ET / 11:30AM PT for that game and tune into the XTRA for the best of Monday’s action from around the grounds.
4) History made as triple Axel planted
Gold medal ahoy! Winter Olympics time and a gold for Jamie Anderson in the women’s slopestyle – snowboarding down a hill with a series of huge leaps – despite huge cross winds causing havoc to the field. And gold medal ahoy for Canada in the figure skating team competition – four separate competitions – but Mirai Nagasu made history by becoming the first American female to land the triple Axel at the Olympics.
Top class women’s tennis continues on beIN SPORTS with live coverage of the WTA Qatar Total Open. Cici Bellis is already through to the second round and Maria Sharapova is up later on on Monday morning, as the Russian’s bid to claw her way up the world rankings continues.
WHAT IS SPORTS BURST?
The life philosophy of Sports Burst is that if you are not upsetting someone, then you are not trying hard enough. Sports Burst is a daily trawl and troll through the morning's sports news to bring you fact-nuggets to make you both smile and swear. Hopefully at the same time.