By Tim Stannard
1) Pochettino opens Real Madrid door, ever so slightly
Boom…the media mic has been dropped by Tottenham Hotspurs coach, Mauricio Pochettino, with a feisty Friday goading of the struggling Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid, and a message to the Spanish club’s bosses that he is ready and waiting if needed.
Sort of. Well. Not really. But it could be if you read between the lines and then completely ignore what was said.
Friday saw the Argentinean manager being asked if he would be open to managing Real Madrid one day – and he didn’t technically say ‘no’. Which is all important for Sports Burst. "You never know in football. That is the problem. It is a very unstable situation." For the record, Pochettino also noted that “I am working like I am going to be here forever.
The two clubs that Poche did rule out ever managing were Barcelona and Arsenal – the rivals to Espanyol and Tottenham, two teams on his coaching resume. “I prefer to work on my farm in Argentina than in some places.”
Just a few short hours after the Spurs boss spoke to the media and clearly angled for the Real Madrid spot, the current holder of the position, Coach Zizou, was speaking ahead of Madrid’s huge Saturday clash in Mestalla against high-flying Valencia. And the vibe was a firm one from the under-fire Frenchman. "If I thought my message wasn't working, I would leave tomorrow. I know I have the support of the club, and of the president," declared Zidane.
Tune into the Locker Room at 7:30PM ET / 4:30PM PT for a look at what Real Madrid has to do on Saturday to avoid falling 22 points behind Barcelona. 22!
2) Barca face Valencia in crunch Copa clash
Speaking of Barcelona, the Copa del Rey holders have been drawn against Valencia in a sizzling two-legged semifinal that can be seen exclusively across North America next week. The other clash pits Leganes – the slayers of Real Madrid - against Sevilla.
But looking ahead to Friday’s action on the channel at 11:55AM ET / 8:55AM PT and the mighty, star-studded Besiktas sit pride of place in a Turkish Superlig clash against Kasimpasa. Besiktas are currently six points off the top of the table, which is six points too many for them.
La Liga gets underway with Athletic Bilbao taking on Eibar in a Basque derby that could well see the final match for defender, Aymeric Laporte, who was called up despite an expected move to Manchester City over the next few days. That encounter gets underway live on beIN SPORTS at 2:50PM ET / 11:50AM PT.
The fourth round of the FA Cup gets going in England and Alexis Sanchez might well see his first minutes for Manchester United in the very unglamorous surroundings of lower league Yeovil Town.
Tune into the XTRA for the best action from across our glittering globe – 7PM ET / 4PM PT.
3) Arsenal giving up on Aubameyang pursuit
TRANSFER TRACKER TIME!
Deep breath….and go. Arsenal are still far away from signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund, almost as if Arsene Wenger is not really sure if the club wants the footballer in the first place.
Chelsea are stiiiiiiiiill in pursuit of a striker. The latest target would be a loan deal with Arsenal for Olivier Giroud, which would complete a tradition of the Gunners handing over attacking talent to rivals – see Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez over the past few months. All this is because it looks like the bid for Roma striker, Edin Dzeko, is over, for the good reason that the forward quite likes life in the Italian capital. And who wouldn’t.
The XTRA once again is your one-stop shop for all transfer news – 7PM ET / 4PM PT.
4) Federer chases another Grand Slam Down Under
A fairly quick one considering that the Australian Open is down to just four players – if talking singles, that is.
The men’s final overnight on Saturday will be between Marin Cilic and Roger Federer (hooray!) after his opponent, Hyeon Chung of South Korea, did the decent thing in media terms by retiring from the semifinal clash in the second set. "Clearly I'm happy to be in the final - but not like this. He's had such a wonderful tournament," said Roger, ever the gentleman.
The women’s final is next up and is a scorcher. Top seeds, Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki, are facing off in a bid to be crowned world’s number one in the rankings and also win their first Grand Slam trophy. Rather remarkably, neither have managed it so far. Remember that top class women’s tennis returns to beIN SPORTS USA on Tuesday with the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy.
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.