Galatasaray AS v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final

Thigh injury to sideline Cristiano Ronaldo an additional two weeks

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Real Madrid attacker Cristiano Ronaldo may have downplayed his injury’s significance after Saturday’s game against Almería, but now that he’s set to be sidelined for another two weeks, what was considered a minor problem has become a full-blown injury. His early second half substitution may have only been precautionary, but having already missed a Champions League match against Galatasaray, that precautions done. Ronaldo’s leg problem is a full-blown injury, and anytime a star of his talent is hurt, it’s an outright concern.

That concern will keep the Ballon d’Or candidate out for Saturday’s match against Real Valladolid. If the two-week timeline holds up, Ronaldo will also miss a Copa del Rey match with Olímpic de Xàtiva and El Real’s Champions League group stage finale against Copenhagen.

If all goes well, Ronaldo will be back by Real Madrid’s Dec. 14 visit to Osasuna, though their next true challenge may not happen until Dec. 22’s visit to Valencia. The Merengues can afford to be cautious, and with Ronaldo clearly not 100 percent (according to his coach), caution becomes common sense.

From Reuters:

“No, Cristiano won’t play [against Valladolid] because he is not comfortable and doesn’t feel good,” the [Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti] said.

“We did a scan this morning and while the muscle is completely healed he is not comfortable and hasn’t trained much, so we are not going to take the risk. He has 15 days to work and prepare well for the next league match [at Osasuna on 14 December].”

All of a sudden worries Ángel Di María won’t get enough playing time can be squelched. Granted, most of those worries are mine (the guy may be the most under-appreciated player in the game today), but with with one of their attackers sidelined, Real Madrid has enough room for their Argentine winger. Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale will still be there to supply goals. Isco will pull the strings. Jesé, Álvaro Morata, and Luka Modric will get their time. Real Madrid have enough to cover to survive without Ronaldo, especially with a guy like Di María.

But Ronaldo’s is yet another name added to the list of players worn down by the World Cup cycle. Lionel Messi had a reoccurrence of his hamstring injury, while Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger are both sidelined for Bayern Munich. Borussia Dortmund have been decimated in defense, while Vincent Kompany can’t get right for Manchester City. Not everything comes down to wear-and-tear, but the now that qualifying’s done, these players (and others) will have a chance to get healthy for the season’s second half.

 

WATCH: Kane’s first half hat trick includes gorgeous volley

Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Stoke City at White Hart Lane stadium in London, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
AP Photo/Frank Augstein
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Harry Kane spent the first half hour of Sunday’s tilt versus Stoke torturing the visiting Potters.

Kane opened the scoring in the 14th minute. Christian Eriksen bobbled Dele Alli‘s pass into the 18, but Ryan Shawcross‘ barely hit his clearance and Kane took a touch before belting home for the advantage.

[ WATCH: Spurs-Stoke live, replay ]

His second was lovely, bounding a low volley between the legs of Victor Wanyama and by a diving Lee Grant.

The third carried a bit of luck, with his low free kick taking a turn off the leg of wall end Peter Crouch to elude a lunging Grant. 3-0.

Here are the first and third, too:

Liverpool, Southampton lead EFL Cup Team of the Tournament

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The EFL Cup has named its team of the tournament ahead of Sunday morning’s final between Southampton and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium.

Liverpool and Southampton lead the way with two players each, while finalists Manchester United have just one player in the team.

[ MORE: Whitecaps acquire Brek Shea ]

That’s Ander Herrera, who joins a midfield with Sofiane Boufal (Saints), Mohamed Diame (Newcastle United), and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal).

Up top are Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge and Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham, the latter for his work at Bristol City.

The back four is led by Saints’ Maya Yoshida and Hull City’s Harry Maguire, with Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool) and Matty Pearson (Accrington Stanley) joining the unit.

The backstop is Leeds United’s Marco Silvestri.

Watch Live: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Stoke City (Lineups, Stream)

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Wifried Bony of Stoke City and Dele Alli of Tottenham Hotspur battle for possession during the Premier League match between Stoke City and Tottenham Hotspur at Britannia Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Stoke on Trent, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
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The penultimate Premier League match of the weekend pits Stoke City against third-place Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on Sunday (Watch live at 8:30 a.m. EDT on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Jan Vertonghen is back alongside Toby Alderweireld in the heart of Spurs’ back line, and it’s no surprise that PL Download stars Harry Kane and Hugo Lloris also start.

Geoff Cameron‘s four-month layoff appears to be reaching its end, as the USMNT back is on the subs bench for Stoke City. He last played on Oct. 22.

LINEUPS

Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris, Walker, Dier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies, Wanyama, Dembele, Eriksen, Alli, Kane. Subs: Vorm, Trippier, Wimmer, Winks, Sissoko, Son, Janssen.

Stoke City: Grant; Bardsley, Shawcross, Martins Indi, Pieters; Whelan, Adam; Arnautovic, Allen, Ramadan; Crouch. Subs: Given; Muniesa, Berahino, Afellay, Diouf, Cameron, Imbula.

Sydney FC return to winning ways in A-League

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 24:  Goalkeeper Danny Vukovic of Sydney FC makes a save as Bruno Fornaroli of City competes for the ball during the round 21 A-League match between Melbourne City and Sydney FC at AAMI Park on February 24, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
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SYDNEY (AP) Bobo scored twice as Sydney FC rebounded from its first loss in the A-League to beat Melbourne City 3-1 and continue atop the table.

[ MORE: Schmeichel speaks about Ranieri sacking, state of Leicester ]

Sydney’s ambitious attempt to become the first team to end the regular season unbeaten came unstuck last week when it was beaten by Western Sydney Wanderers in a fractious local derby, repercussions of which continued through the week. Wanderers were fined $20,000 by Football Federation Australia after its fans unfurled an obscene banner targeting Sydney coach Graham Arnold.

[ MORE: Chelsea, Everton extend unbeaten run in Saturday’s PL play ]

Sydney raised itself above that controversy on Friday with a comprehensive win over Melbourne City which briefly took it 11 points clear in first place.

Melbourne Victory restored the gap to eight points when it beat defending champion Adelaide United 2-1, and Perth leapfrogged Melbourne City into third place when it dumped the Wanderers 2-0.

Bobo opened Sydney’s scoring with a penalty, but City canceled that out only a minute later.

Sydney went in front again after the break, and Bobo sealed the win, set up by a superb through ball by Milos Ninkovic which highlighted their developing combination.

Midfielder Brandon O’Neil said Sydney was determined to leave behind the contention of their derby loss.

“When it all came out, the FFA and Western Sydney had to deal with it and it did,” O’Neil said. “It brought us together and we spoke about a few things, and nothing changed for us. We want to be premier (champions).”

Melbourne Victory’s win over Adelaide kept it in touch with Sydney with seven regular season rounds remaining.

Wellington kept its faint playoff hopes alive, staying in seventh place with a 2-1 win over Brisbane.