Ivan Rakitic: ‘We saw Football’s Coming Home and thought: yeah, but you still have to play us’

17-11-2018 The Barcelona and Croatia midfielder talks about playing England at the World Cup with a virus, how to stay calm when taking penalties and post-tournament exhaustionIvan Rakitic packed his bag, kissed his family goodbye and said see you on the 15th. It was early June and he was not planning to be back until mid-July, four days after his daughter’s birthday. His wife, Raquel Mauri, told him he had better explain, so he made a promise: “I told her: ‘Don’t worry, when it’s over we’ll have a big party,’” he grins. “And I kept my word.” The day Althea turned five, he was still in Moscow. That night he called, wished her happy birthday and said sorry: daddy wasn’t coming home just yet. He had a World Cup final to play. Related: Croatia stun Spain to set up Nations League decider against England Continue reading...

Count Meribel survives bad mistake to make his mark at Cheltenham

17-11-2018 • Serious error two out not enough to stop game winner• Sun Alliance Chase at Festival the long-term targetSeveral of the best chasers of the last 40 years have had their first experience of Cheltenham’s fences in the two-and-a-half mile novice on the first day of the November meeting, but few have won as memorably as Count Meribel did here on Friday. A bad mistake at the second-last seemed to have cost him his chance to win, but Mark Grant, Count Meribel’s jockey, somehow kept the partnership intact, regathered his momentum and then got him home by a neck in a three-way finish.It was a performance that will be called to mind if, like four of the last seven winners of this race, Count Meribel is a Grade One winner later on in the season. He had jumped impeccably until his solitary blunder, and done so at a strong pace that proved he has an engine to match his technique. Over the final two fences on Friday, he showed that he has courage and resilience too. Continue reading...

Wayne Rooney's record-breaking England career in numbers – video

17-11-2018 Former England captain Wayne Rooney will bring down the curtain on his record-breaking international career with an honorary appearance against the USA on Thursday.The 33-year-old has been invited back into the national team squad to mark his achievements as the country’s all-time leading goalscorer and as the outfield player with the most capsFootball quiz: Wayne Rooney (on and off the field) Continue reading...

Elise Christie: Speed skater considered quitting after Winter Olympics

17-11-2018 British speed skater Elise Christie says she considered quitting the sport after the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

Anna Gasser makes history as first female snowboarder to land triple cork – video

17-11-2018 Olympic champion Anna Gasser has written another chapter in her snowboard career after becoming the first woman to land a cab triple cork. The 27-year-old pulled off the jump on her first attempt at the Stubai Glacier in Austria.The cab triple 1260 involves taking off in the switch position with your 'wrong' foot forward, followed by three and a half rotations in the air, and then landing in the forward position. The Austrian also made history in 2013 with a cab double cork 900 kicker, and 2015 when she became the first woman to land a competition cab double underflip. She also claimed the gold medal in the Big Air competition at the Pyeongchang Games.Winter Olympics: hits and misses from Pyeongchang Continue reading...

Football transfer rumours: Godín or Alderweireld to Manchester United?

17-11-2018 Today’s fluff might be heading north soonIf Thursday felt like deadline day for the British cabinet then it follows that Friday should be a little woozy, a touch mellow, spent in a fug of regret and looming fear of whatever the Bad Thing was. Fortunately The Mill only knows football and, well, have we got a never-ending stream of guilt-free tittle-tattle for you. First of all, who was José Mourinho watching in Brussels on Thursday when Belgium beat Iceland? None of his Manchester United players were involved, so does that mean he wants another nibble at Toby Alderweireld – who helped Belgium to keep a clean sheet in the 2-0 win – this January? The centre-back was by far the most obvious target out there and it is little secret that Mourinho would like to convince his superiors – a word we naturally wouldn’t use lightly – that United desperately need reinforcing in that position. Related: Alexis Sánchez signing plays part in Manchester United 10% wage bill rise Continue reading...

Talking Horses: Rather Be can lift BetVictor Gold Cup for Henderson

17-11-2018 The first major race of the new jumps season can fall to the champion trainerThe first major race of the new jumps season can fall to champion trainer Nicky Henderson, who has not won the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham since Fondmort landed him the prize in 2003. The Lambourn handler has a fine chance with Rather Be (2.25) and, while the betting market is well aware of this horse’s ability, odds of 5-1 remain acceptable, with the possibility that he may edge out a bit as punters look for value elsewhere. Related: Count Meribel survives bad mistake to make his mark at Cheltenham Continue reading...

VAR in the Premier League: How Charlie Austin MIGHT react

17-11-2018 BBC Sport imagines how Southampton striker Charlie Austin might react to the news that VAR will be used in the Premier League from next season.

Gloucester 36-13 Leicester Tigers: Danny Cipriani shines on return from suspension

17-11-2018 Danny Cipriani shines on his return from a three-week ban as Gloucester outclass Leicester Tigers in the Premiership.

Claudio Ranieri puts burgers on menu to beef up Fulham survival mission

17-11-2018 The Tinkerman got a pizza the action in his Leicester miracle but knows he must up the ante to save Fulham from relegationThere has been little to light up Craven Cottage this season, but on a shale-grey November afternoon Claudio Ranieri was a one-man sunbeam – offering optimism, old-world charm and an iron promise to do everything possible to keep Fulham from the drop. “If I come here it’s because I believe,” he said, smiling after being unveiled as the club’s new manager. “I’m mad but not stupid.”At Leicester Ranieri promised his players pizza every time they kept a clean sheet. This time, he joked, he would have to up the ante for a side that have conceded 31 goals in 12 Premier League games this season. “I have to promise something more,” he said. “Pizza is not enough now. Better everybody to McDonald’s! I hope to pay for a McDonald’s big burger very soon!” Continue reading...

How can Renato Sanches be so bad at one club and so good at another? | Stuart James

17-11-2018 The midfielder is rebuilding his career at Bayern and is clearly a huge talent, which makes his failed spell at Swansea so bafflingSeptember 2017, the London Stadium. Renato Sanches is brought down by Cheikhou Kouyaté deep inside the West Ham half and is determined to take the free-kick. He tells his Swansea teammates he is going to put it in the top corner. One swing of his right boot later and the ball is on its way to the top corner ... of the stadium rather than the net. Swansea’s players are already turning on their heel before gravity has started to do its work. Related: Dele Alli, Twitter loneliness and the cautionary tale of Renato Sanches | Barney Ronay Continue reading...

Steven Gerrard: ‘If I text, call or see him, Jürgen’s always got time for me’

17-11-2018 The Rangers manager on why his club is like Liverpool, his craving for pressure and what he thinks now about rejecting Chelsea“It’s a serious business,” Steven Gerrard says with familiar intensity when he is asked about laughter and football. The former Liverpool captain and enduring icon, who is carving out an impressive new career as the manager of Rangers, considers a memory that belongs to his mother. In Make Us Dream, a feature-length documentary about Gerrard’s 27 years at Liverpool, from the age of eight, his mum remembers how he laughed often as a little boy.Since then there has been glory and pain, loyalty and agony. I know Gerrard pretty well and, in 2015, just as his emotional final season as a Liverpool player approached the end, we spent a memorable few months working on his autobiography. He was much warmer than his slightly morose public image – and he smiled a lot when recalling the sweetest times. But, with Gerrard also facing his darkest days, laughter was limited. Continue reading...

Netherlands 2-0 France: Dutch beat world champions to relegate Germany

17-11-2018 The Netherlands deservedly beat France in the Uefa Nations League to end the world champions' 15-game unbeaten run and relegate Germany.

Jockey narrowly avoids getting trampled after jogging on to track – video

17-11-2018 A young jockey has narrowly avoided injury after running on to a track in front of a pack of oncoming racehorses. Evan Daly, 18, was preparing for a race later in the meeting at Navan, in the Republic of Ireland and said he had not noticed the horses because he was wearing headphonesTalking Horses: jockeys avoid disaster as people stray on to tracks Continue reading...

Gareth Southgate urges England to put World Cup lessons to use against Croatia

17-11-2018 • Kane and Sterling return for Nations League decider• ‘We want to show we have learned from the summer’Gareth Southgate has challenged his players to prove they have progressed since their World Cup semi-final defeat by Croatia in Moscow as England prepare to confront familiar opponents in a Nations League decider.Success for either team on Sunday would win them the group, with the losing side relegated to Division B, after the match was effectively transformed by Croatia’s late victory over Spain into a play-off to ascertain who reaches the knockout finals next June. Southgate’s team selection against USA on Thursday reflected the 66-hour turnaround between games. Players such as Harry Kane, John Stones, Kyle Walker, Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson, who featured at the Luzhniki in July, will return. Continue reading...

England must turn on style against Japan to slip into World Cup fast lane | Paul Rees

17-11-2018 Spirit and solidity have driven England’s upturn in results but Eddie Jones will expect ruthlessness against his former sideEngland’s head coach called on his players this month to make their own movie rather than sit and watch one. If they take him up on it against a Japan side he advised to pray before their first full Test at Twickenham, Eddie Jones and the Temple of Doom will have its first releaseJapan are the first of the other two international teams Jones has been in charge of to visit Twickenham in the final two weeks of the autumn series with Australia providing the final curtain next weekend. “Pray, pray, pray. Go to the temple and pray,” Jones advised his former charges. “We will be ruthless and want to physically smash them.” Continue reading...

What can we expect from the league Lions tour to New Zealand next year?

17-11-2018 The Great Britain and Irish Lions are back after a 12-year hiatus to face Tonga, New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa and Papua New GuineaBy Gavin Willacy for No Helmets RequiredSo farewell England, welcome back Great Britain – or maybe the Great Britain and Ireland League Lions. Anyway, after a damp squib finish to a handsome series win over the Kiwis, it seems England are to be mothballed for 23 months. An England XIII may play France or Wales next year and the RFL will send a team to the new Nines World Cup in Parramatta the weekend after the Super League Grand Final. But straight after that Great Britain will arrive in New Zealand to play Tonga, the Kiwis, Fiji and Samoa and come home via Papua New Guinea. Well, that’s the plan.Let’s be honest, the return of the Great Britain team is primarily a marketing move by the RFL, one based on exploiting the game’s rich heritage. I’m all for that, as are thousands of others. Richard Lewis suspended the League Lions after the 2007 series for good reasons. There was little sense in England only playing at World Cups, and Great Britain, this epic, touring legend, had stopped touring. Lewis promised to bring it back. The sabbatical has lasted 12 years. Continue reading...

The Fiver | Lovren v Ramos, bad looks and the sense of box office

17-11-2018 Sign up now! Sign up now! Sign up now? Sign up now!During the Ethics World Cup, Dejan Lovren was the darling among those grubbing for a sentence, a word, a mere arching of the eyebrow from footballers as they traipsed past hacks taking urgent phone calls or struggling with a particularly troublesome earbud. Lovren would stand in front of the massed quote-seekers, shooting from the hip and giving the impression that he’d happily come along for a post-match loosener if there wasn’t a bus to catch. Continue reading...

UFC at 25: Things were a lot different back at UFC 1

17-11-2018 BBC Sport throws it back to 1993, when the first UFC numbered event featured a boxer with one glove, non-existent weight divisions and a pair of very tight pants.