Marcelo under fire for diveMADRID (AP):Real Madrid left back Marcelo has been widely criticised for diving against Wolfsburg in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.The Brazilian defender appeared to kick and headbutt Maximilian Arnold, then threw himself to the ground after pretending he had been hit in the face by the German midfielder.His antics in Real Madrid’s 2-0 loss in Germany on Wednesday led to a yellow card to Arnold, who could miss the semi-finals if he is booked again in next week’s second leg and Wolfsburg advance.Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking was still upset by the incident after the match and reportedly had an angry exchange with Marcelo in the tunnel to the changing rooms.Marcelo was booed off the field by fans at Wolfsburg Arena, while Arnold, who scored the second goal, said afterwards the incident was “part of football”.US women rout Colombia 7-0EAST HARTFORD, Connecticut (AP):Allie Long scored her first two international goals, and the United States routed Colombia 7-0 Wednesday night in the Americans’ first exhibition since five players filed a wage-discrimination action against the US Soccer Federation (USSF).Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe, and Becky Sauerbrunn filed an action last week with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, accusing the USSF of unlawfully paying them less than members of the US men’s national team. The union for the women’s national team is in a legal battle with the USSF, claiming it can terminate its labour contract. The USSF claims the deal runs through December.”We weren’t really thinking about all that stuff because at the end of the day, that stuff will work itself out,” Lloyd said. “We have to continue to make sure we are putting a good result out on the field.”The US team was not the only one fighting money issues. The Colombian team has not been paid in two months, Philly.com reported last week.Kerber in last eightCHARLESTON, South Carolina (AP):Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber advanced to the quarter-finals with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Slovakia’s Kristina Kucova at the Volvo Car Open yesterday.Kerber is the defending champion after winning the title in last year’s Family Circle Cup. The second-ranked German star was not at her best but was good enough to put away Kucova, who is ranked No. 142. Kerber broke her opponent’s serve seven times, including the final game.Kerber needed a third-set tiebreaker to win her opening match at the Volvo on Tuesday night. She quickly gained control over Kucova and won 10 of the final 13 games.
How did you cope with Watford’s busy approach to the transfer market?“One of our main occupations was deciding who would stay or leave. It was absolutely crucial to make the right choices – and in fact we did, considering we made the decision to keep seven players of our current line-up. Some of them were really important last season. We have every sort of player now: some are young, some the ideal age and some others help us with their experience.”You’ve built a rather solid defence. How did you go about that?“[By] making sure we have a good defensive line and narrowing the distances between our players on the pitch. The 11 players on the pitch must move like a block. We move that block up or down depending on how we predict the game will be. Obviously, we want more than that. We want our players to be confident and daring on the ball. We also intend to have long possessions, which in fact is a reality as we have had 60 per cent possession in certain games.”The majority of your goals have been scored by two strikers, Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney. Are your training sessions focusing on enhancing your midfielders’ scoring records?“Yes, part of our work is focused on creating more scoring opportunities. When a team doesn’t score, everyone points at the strikers – but in most cases, not scoring is related to not being capable of creating goal chances. The fewer chances you create, the greater scoring ratio you will need from your strikers. It’s unacceptable for us to create few scoring opportunities. We are trying to provide our players with the right tools to threaten our opponents’ goal, such as populating the box with many players in certain moments. Rather than how many goals have we scored, we focus on how many shots did we take, how many of those were on target or on how many times we trespassed the last third of the pitch. These are the statistics that matter when you are willing to score. We must provide the right tools to our players so they can score.” What’s the most remarkable thing you have been told during your time in the Premier League?“Definitely a sentence by [Watford full-back] Allan Nyom. In the context of a one-to-one chat, he confessed that a player has to be at his peak of form [if] he wants to be competitive in this Premier League. Otherwise he must let the manager know straight away. ‘This league is merciless,’ he said. ‘Because every game has a high tempo.’ I had that perception too, but if a physical player like Nyom says that it must be really noticeable on the pitch. That defines what the Premier League is.”Would you have been that honest when you were a player?“Probably not, because times change. Nowadays there is more proximity between the players and the management, but back then [Sanchez Flores was a professional from 1984-1997] there was a bigger distance between them. It is very important to reflect on football issues with players. When players are relaxed, they share their thoughts with you. Nyom’s sentence is a simple but truthful way of defining what Premier League football is.”Is there any player who has particularly impressed you?“I managed David Silva [and] Sergio Aguero in the past. Both were fantastic back then, and they are still fantastic now. You can find excellent players all around in [the] Premier League, not just in the top teams’ squads. The likes of [Crystal Palace’s] Yannick Bolasie and Wilfried Zaha or [Everton’s] Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku are formidable.”Who is the kindest manager you have met in the Premier League?“I must say that Claudio Ranieri is a great guy. He takes things lightly and that is the kind of approach I tend to have as the time goes by. Obviously, tension and high demands are inherent to professional football, but you must keep calm and behave normally. Claudio is a very positive role model.”As a manager with experience in Spain and Portugal, how does football reporting in England compare?“Here in England, the media seem to be more calm. The Premier League is extraordinary in many other aspects, such as the loyalty from the crowds or the respect for the fair play. That is very inspiring for me. We all, players and managers, like the way local media plays down some issues. After all, football is just a game and anything can happen.” Quique Sanchez Flores This interview appears in the current edition of Sport magazine. Download the free iPad app here, and follow on twitter @sportmaguk“A newly arrived manager must respect the local culture of the game,” Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores tells Sport. “He must be up for a quick, high-intensity contact game. We had to adapt, we couldn’t just implement a philosophy that revolves just around keeping the ball. Here in the Premier League, it’s important to manage well the transitions during the game, as well as learning how and where to defend or to attack.”His inclusive use of “we” is telling. The 50-year-old former Spain international hadn’t played or managed in England before this season, but he and his coaching team weren’t the only ones starting anew. Watford hadn’t been in the Premier League for eight years and in the summer overhauled their first team squad with 14 new signings, the vast majority from overseas. Yet after gaining three points from their opening three league games, they have significantly improved.They are mid-table, and their points tally means they are closer to the top four than the relegation zone, where many expected them to be. And, as Sanchez Flores explains, he expects them to further improve as he gradually introduces his philosophy.You became Watford’s fifth manager in a year when you were appointed. What attracted you to the club?“During my talks with [owner] Gino Pozzo, I sensed I had a very intelligent person next to me. He had very clear ideas about how to run the club as he explained Watford’s project. He said there were diverse circumstances that led him to make certain decisions last season. Apart from last year, Watford had been quite a stable club during previous seasons. Therefore, last season’s events were not a reference point for me.” 3 3 3