By Tim Stannard
1) Grudge match city as Genie is out of the bottle
For years, tennis had a rivalry to match that of Leo Messi against Cristiano Ronaldo and then some – Serena Williams against Maria Sharapova, the world’s top two players butting heads on the court and in the papers.
Although Serena dominated the affairs quite comprehensively, both participants would pull out their best tennis, driven by the desire to grind each other into the ground for both personal and professional reasons.
Ever since a steady decline for the Russian followed by a lengthy doping ban, a grudge match has been lacking. Until Monday, that is, when Sharapova takes on Genie Bouchard in the Mutua Madrid Open.
In terms of talent, the two are miles apart. This is no Serena v Maria. But for many, this clash is right against wrong, with the Canadian having been vocal in her opposition to Sharapova’s return. “A cheater” was the barbed comment from Bouchard, arguing that the Russian should never have been allowed to play again having failed a drugs test at the 2016 Australian Open.
The pair are meeting on a court on Monday and it will be live on beIN SPORTS from 2PM ET / 11AM PT onwards. Not to be missed.
2) Conte with chance to near-clinch in EPL
Another sporting rivalry was semi-settled on Sunday in the Premier League with Arsene Wenger finally getting a win against Jose Mourinho in the Premier League at the 13th time of asking. But such frivolity is not an issue for Antonio Conte on Monday with his Chelsea team able to take a very large step indeed to winning the title with a victory over the very-much-in-trouble Middlesbrough.
In a fairly quiet Monday of football fun, Leganes are taking on Betis in La Liga with the aim of trying to stay out of the relegation fight with a win. That clash is live on beIN SPORTS CONNECT from 2:45PM ET / 11:45AM PT and you can catch all the best action from both games on the XTRA from 7PM ET / 4PM PT. Your daily home for the beautiful game.
3) Madrid set up super signings under rivals’ noses
The Madrid derby in the Champions League is still two whole days away – a chasm of media emptiness - so much of the talk in the land of ham has been over signings.
Two for Real Madrid are reportedly on the cards with the next ‘new Neymar’ Vinicius Junior set to sign at the Santiago Bernabeu for 2018 despite very strong interest from Barcelona indeed. Let’s hope the contract is not the ‘new Neymar’ either.
In another spicy tale, ‘Marca’ are reporting that Real Madrid have given a medical to an Atletico Madrid player with a few to signing him this summer. That player is Rojiblanco fullback, Theo Hernandez, currently on loan at Alaves and curiously, another transfer target for Barcelona.
4) Messi deal edging closer for Barcelona
Barcelona will argue that the club currently has bigger fish to fry with the torturous contract negotiations of Leo Messi, which do not sound a lot of fun indeed. But Barcelona-based daily ‘Sport’ is soothing on Monday that there is nothing to fear from fretting cules, backing comments over the weekend from club VP, Jordi Mestre, that a deal with little Leo was but a matter of weeks away.
Although some issues are yet to be ironed out – an improved peg position in the locker room is thought to be a sticking point – a deal could be announced after the season is over. Which for Barca is the Copa del Rey final.
Tune into the Locker Room from 7PM ET / 4PM PT for the news and views of the panel on all things Barcelona and Madrid.
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