Post-Match Press Conferences - Czech Republic v Portugal, Quarter Final: UEFA EURO 2012

Happy Birthday, Cristiano Ronaldo!

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We are talking about Cristiano Ronaldo because the man turns 28 today.

It’s a poignant day, in some ways, because one of the very best of an entire generation is now into career mid-life. Most observers of the game would call him the second best player in the universe; Real Madrid’s scoring ace is truly that special.

So why poignant? Because barring an injury to Barcelona rival Leo Messi, this Portuguese force, this top man in a generation, will never be the considered the world’s best. At present, there’s a fairly sizeable gap between Nos. 1 and 2. In a nutshell, Ronaldo approaches and breaks records; Messi obliterates them.

Considering Ronaldo pretty much is what he is at 28, and considering the 25-year-old Messi may not have quite reached the tip-top of his performance arc, there’s little chance of a place swap here.

Still, Ronaldo is a wonder, and his team is fabulously talented. And they begin an enormous home-and-away series next week as Champions League reaches Round-of -16 knockout play.

The highlight of the round sees Ronaldo’s former team, mighty Manchester United, facing his current team, Real Madrid.

Next week’s first leg (Feb. 13) will take place at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid. What Ronaldo – Again, Happy Birthday, dude! – told UEFA’s Champions League magazine about the matchup:

I believe things will go well. In my opinion Real Madrid have a better team, but we have to show that on the pitch because United are a very united team and always have been in recent years. They’re a team that always do well, every year they’re at the top and therefore a team we respect a lot. It will be an extremely difficult match, especially in Manchester.”

Miss of the season candidate as Correa whiffs for Sampdoria

GENOA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 23:  Jaoquin Correa of UC Sampdoria disappointed during the Serie A match between UC Sampdoria and AS Roma at Stadio Luigi Ferraris on September 23, 2015 in Genoa, Italy.  (Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)
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21-year-old Joaquin Correa may be young and inexperienced, but he may have grown today.

Painful growth.

The young Sampdoria attacker will not want to watch the highlights of today’s 1-1 draw with Inter Milan in Serie A play knowing he could have given his side all three points.

Could have, had he – you know – hit an open goal from less than three yards out. Spoiler alert: he didn’t.

Correa rounds Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic thanks to a fruitful rebound after his initial shot was smothered, but as he turned to face the wide open net, he scuffed his shot and it trickled embarrassingly wide.

Not much more to say about this one than try to put it behind you, Joaquin. It’s an ugly one.

Watch Live: Swansea City vs. Tottenham Hotspur (Lineups & Live Stream)

MONACO - OCTOBER 01:  Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur gestures during the UEFA Europa League group J match between AS Monaco FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC at Stade Louis II on October 1, 2015 in Monaco, Monaco.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
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Tottenham can go third in the table with a road win today at one of the toughest places to play in the Premier League at the moment as they visit the Liberty Stadium to take on Swansea City at 11 a.m. ET live online at NBC Sports Live Extra.

Spurs are coming off a massive win over Manchester City last weekend – their third straight victory in league play – but will be without bright new signing Hueng-min Son for the forseeable future after he suffered a foot injury in the victory. Spurs then managed a stout 1-1 draw with Monaco in Europa League play.

They are also without Danny Rose from an injury in that midweek meeting and Nabil Bentalib misses his fourth straight match due to injury, but Deli Alli is fit while Moussa Dembele makes the bench. Erik Lamela is in the starting lineup as he finds himself in fine form the last few weeks.

WATCH LIVE: Swansea City vs. Tottenham Hotspur live online at NBC Sports Live Extra

Swansea, meanwhile, have a fully fit squad eight matches into the Premier League season, and they would move into the top half of the table with a win.

Bafetimbi Gomis starts up front with four goals on the season, but he has not scored in his last three appearances, and conversely the Swans have picked up just one point over that span.


Swansea City: Fabianski, Rangel, Fernandez, Williams, Taylor, Ki, Shelvey, Ayew, Sigurdsson, Montero, Gomis.
Nordfeldt, Tabanou, Bartley, Cork, Barrow, Routledge, Eder.

Tottenham: Lloris, Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies; Alli, Dier; Chadli, Eriksen, Lamela; Kane.
Vorm, Trippier, Wimmer, Carroll, Dembele, Townsend, Clinton.