Bottas seeks to double up in Barcelona

Valtteri Bottas seeks to prove his maiden Formula One success at Sochi was no fluke by repeating the feat for champions Mercedes in this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.

The unflappable Finn, who has emerged as a serious threat not only to his more celebrated team-mate Lewis Hamilton, but also Ferrari’s championship leader Sebastian Vettel, believes his determination, form and speed justify his optimism.

“Getting that win has definitely given me a lot of confidence that I can do it – because I always thought that I had the ability.

“And now it’s done all I want to do is to go and win again and again,” said Bottas.

Another Bottas win would not be a surprise at a venue that has a habit of producing more different winners than anywhere else – if he is successful, he will be the 11th different winner in as many years.

The Circuit de Catalunya, a track drivers and teams know intimately from days of pre-season testing, is capable of throwing up the most unexpected and unpredictable results.

That was demonstrated last year by Dutch teenager Max Verstappen’s win on his debut for Red Bull.

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Bottas’ recent bright form – pole position in Bahrain and victory at Sochi – has confirmed him as a worthy successor to retired 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg at Mercedes where, temporarily, he has managed to put three-time world champion Hamilton in the shade.

But that does not mean much as the teams, all with upgraded packages, begin the European season with Ferrari likely to set the pace if the weather conditions put the onus on tyre management.

– marginal –

The Italian team has a car that is less demanding on its rubber and operates well across a wider range of temperatures than the Mercedes.

For Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, it is a concern, but not yet a serious worry.

“I don’t think there is a particular pattern yet,” he said. “It is all very marginal with tyre compounds, interaction with the track, the surface of the track and the track temperature itself.

“But, one thing is for sure — we have a very fast race car and a fast qualifying car. We just need to tune it and this is an exciting exercise.”

Tyre suppliers Pirelli will take their harder tyres, not greatly loved by Mercedes on the evidence so far this year, to Barcelona this weekend.

“I think it will be close – in fact more than very close,” added Wolff.

“Ferrari came out of the winter with a good car and it seems to suit Sebastian a lot. So, we just need to stretch ourselves to perform as good as we can and, if we do like we did in Russia with Valtteri, we are able to compete.”

He said the team had no immediate explanation for Hamilton’s uninspired form in Sochi where he struggled with the car.

“Lewis had a difficult weekend in both qualifying and the race,” said Wolff.

“We’ve since been unpicking what happened to understand why we couldn’t get the car in the right window so he could feel comfortable with it.”

Hamilton said he was mystified by his lack of pace as he finished fourth to fall 13 points adrift of Vettel after four rounds of the championship.

“We must give him the tools he needs to do the job in the next races and that will be a big focus for us,” added Wolff.

“Barcelona will be interesting as our pre-season was not spectacular in Spain. It’s a very different track to Sochi and we’ll be running with harder tyres. So, we are taking this season one race at a time…”

Ferrari and Mercedes may be the front-runners again, but Red Bull expect to be close in pursuit with a heavily-updated car while local hero Fernando Alonso has more modest hopes.

After failing to start in Russia, he is just hoping his revised McLaren will be on the grid to take part in his home race this Sunday.

Source – TheJakartaPost

No miracle Barcelona 0-0 Juventus

Barcelona 0-0 Juventus (0-3 agg): Catalans crash out as Messi and co misfire at Nou Camp – 5 things we learned

Lightning didn’t strike twice.

This time Barcelona did leave themselves with far too much to do as composed an away performance you could wish to see in the Champions League to make the semi-finals.

On a night Barca needed everything he touched to turn to gold, Lionel Messi fired off target with the hosts best two chances either side of half-time.

Juventus always threatened the away goal that would have made the highly improbable impossible through the pace of Juan Cuadrado on the counter-attack.

In the end, though, their 3-0 first leg lead was more than enough as they registered an eighth clean sheet in 10 Champions League games this season.

Here are five things we learned…

ps, With a Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers

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Juventus 3-0 Barcelona: Turin giants stun Barca

Barcelona need another Nou Camp miracle if they are to reach the Champions League semi-finals after a crushing 3-0 loss to Juventus in Turin.

Paulo Dybala struck twice in a stunning first half and Giorgio Chiellini added a rare third after the break as the hosts claimed a commanding advantage ahead of next week’s second leg.

Dismal Barcelona’s only hope is to repeat their feat of the previous round, when they recovered from a 4-0 first-leg loss to Paris St Germain by beating the French side 6-1 at home.

But on the evidence of Tuesday night a second comeback looks highly unlikely after Juventus dominated proceedings with the help of Dybala’s brilliant first-half brace.

The home side hared out from the first whistle and had their first chance after less than three minutes when Gonzalo Higuain wasted a good chance in front of Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Luis Enrique’s men, smarting from a domestic defeat to Malaga at the weekend, looked clueless over how to deal with their opponents’ attacking threat and they fell behind with just seven minutes on the clock.

The superb Juan Cuadrado found Dybala on the right side of the box and the striker curled an excellent left-foot shot past the helpless keeper.

Barcelona responded well and could have grabbed an equaliser after 20 minutes when Lionel Messi threaded the ball to Andres Iniesta whose low shot was well saved by Gianluigi Buffon.

Moments later, Juventus surged down the left flank and Mario Mandzukic crossed for the unmarked Dybala, who fired his second of the game past ter Stegen to put the Italians 2-0 up.

Messi had an effort ruled out for offside on the half-hour before Juventus came close to increasing their lead when Cuadrado pulled back for Miralem Pjanic who blazed over the bar.

Barcelona started the second half in much better fashion with Messi rolling an effort inches wide of the upright and Buffon just beating Luis Suarez to an Ivan Rakitic through-ball.

Higuain rolled a weak effort at ter Stegen before Chiellini made it 3-0 after 55 minutes, out-jumping Javier Mascherano to head home only the second Champions League goal of his career.

Knowing a precious away goal could still help turn the tie in their favour, Barcelona began to press with Suarez trickling a fine chance wide then Neymar seeing an effort blocked by the busy Chiellini in the box.

Barcelona’s mis-firing mega-stars endured more frustration in the final quarter of an hour, Suarez mis-controlling after a pass across the six-yard box by Neymar, then Messi mis-judging a fine chance from a corner.

Marshalled by a towering performance by Brazilian Alex Santos, the Juventus defence held out and Messi’s last chance to reduce the deficit came to an end when he spun a free-kick into the Italians’ wall.

Source

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Max Verstappen: “I think everything is still within reach.”

After the fourth and final test day Max Verstappen remains confident about his chances for next season. De Limburger, which is the final test session – partly in the rain – in his RB13 concluded with the second fastest time behind the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, talks about a successful week. “Actually, nothing here really surprised me in Barcelona, the last four days. And I think everything is still within reach.”

“For us it was important to make the meters with the new car. Get used to the car and team and see if all parts of the car to do what they should do. The car behaves happy just fine.”

Luis Enrique leaving Barcelona

Luis Enrique departs at the end of this season as coach of FC Barcelona. That made the coach tonight itself known.

Luis Enrique to leave Barcelona in the summer

Luis Enrique has said that he will not be renewing his contract when it finishes at the end of June this year, saying he will “need a rest”. 

The Barça coach made the announcement at the end of the press conference after Barcelona’s 6-1 win over Sporting Gijón tonight at the Camp Nou.

Luis Enrique statement: 

“It’s a very difficult decision for me, one I’ve thought about a lot, but I think I need to be true to myself and fair to my way of thinking. In the pre-season I had a meeting with Albert Soler and Robert Fernández where I mooted the possibility that I might not renew my contract. They told me there was no rush to take the decision. That moment has arrived. I’m announcing it. The reason is I live my work looking for solutions and it gives me little time to rest.

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The Football Transfer market is wide open

Manchester City goes once again for Lionel Messi
City want to pay 113 million for the striker.

Manchester United goes for Antoine Griezmann for the same amount.
Last year Manchester United broke the transfer record for Paul Pogba and now the Red Devils want to break the record.

Olympique Lyon increases offer for Memphis Depay.
After the first bid for the Orange International – reportedly 13 million – from the table was swept by the Red Devils, Olympique Lyon screwed the amount to 15 million euros. United would like to have at least 17 million. To be continued in the coming days.