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Peru captain Guerrero banned from World Cup in doping case

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GENEVA (AP) Peru captain Paolo Guerrero was banned from playing at the World Cup because of a positive doping test he said was caused by contaminated tea.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said on Monday it upheld an appeal by the World Anti-Doping Agency to extend Guerrero’s six-month FIFA ban, which already expired this month.

Guerrero will now be banned for 14 months – an “appropriate sanction … in light of Mr. Guerrero’s degree of fault” – until January, the court said in a statement.

The 34-year-old Guerrero was set to captain Peru in Russia at its first World Cup appearance since 1982. On Sunday he was named in his country’s provisional squad preparing to play France, Denmark and Australia.

Guerrero tested positive for benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine, at a World Cup qualifying game against Argentina in October. Anti-doping rules prohibit the use of cocaine in an athlete’s competition period though not out of competition

His lawyers argued the stimulant had not been performance enhancing, and was accidentally consumed in contaminated tea.

The court said its judging panel “also accepted that he did not attempt to enhance his performance by ingesting the prohibited substance.”

“However, the Panel considered that the Player did bear some fault or negligence, even if it was not significant, and that he could have taken some measures to prevent him from committing the (doping violations),” the court said.

FIFA initially suspended Guerrero for one year through Nov. 3. It reduced the ban in a fast-tracked appeal last December which clearing him to play at the World Cup.

Two weeks ago, the former Bayern Munich player returned to play for his Brazilian club side Flamengo.

Guerrero scored his first goal on Sunday since the suspension, a header in Flamengo’s 3-2 defeat at Chapecoense in the Brazilian championship.

After the match, Guerrero said: “There is no reason for me to be suspended, I did nothing wrong and I trust the court to make the right decision.”

It is the second ruling from sport’s highest court that has weighed heavily on Peru’s first World Cup appearance in 36 years.

CAS gifted Peru three points that were key to advancing from the South American qualifying group in a previous appeal case brought by Bolivia’s soccer federation.

Bolivia fielded an ineligible player in a 2-0 win over Peru, and that result was overturned to a 3-0 loss by default. Without the three extra points, Peru would have fallen below Chile and Paraguay in the standings and out of contention.

Gerardo Martino to leave Atlanta United

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Atlanta United have announced that Gerardo “Tata” Martino will leave them at the end of the 2018 Major League Soccer season.

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Martino, 55, has been heavily linked with taking charge of the Mexican national team, with reports suggesting that he will be appointed after the final day of the 2018 season.

It has also been reported that the former Argentina and Barcelona coach is not in contention for the vacant USMNT head coach position because he doesn’t speak English fluently.

In a statement released on their website, Atalanta revealed that “the club will immediately begin a detailed global search for a replacement” after “amicable negotiations between Atlanta United and Martino regarding the option to extend his contract” where he made the decision to move on for personal reasons.

“This was not an easy decision to make, I have enjoyed my time with Atlanta United very much and am proud of what we have accomplished together in such a short time,” Martino said. “The decision was not made for financial reasons, negotiations with the front office were transparent and fair. It was simply the right move for me and my family at this time. The opportunity to build a team from the start does not come along often, and I am grateful to the club and to the fans for putting their trust in me to establish a solid foundation here in Atlanta. What is most important now is that the focus remain on our goals for this season.”

Martino has led Atlanta to back-to-back playoff berths in their first two campaigns as an MLS franchise, with ATL currently in first place in the Eastern Conference heading into their final game of the season at Toronto FC on Sunday.

Atlanta are the heavy favorites to win the East and also clinch the Supporters’ Shield and their arrival in MLS, under the stewardship of Martino, has been one of the great success stories in MLS history. With Miguel Almiron, Josef Martinez, Hector Villalba and Barco stars in Georgia, the Argentine coach has created one of the greatest attacking machines MLS has ever season with Martinez setting the single-season goalscoring record with 30 goals in 2018 with one game to go.

They’ve also recorded the highest-ever average attendance during the MLS regular season, with an average of 53,002 fans packing the Mercedes-Benz Stadium to create a phenomenal atmosphere.

Martino’s departure was expected but it will leave a huge hole for president Darren Eales and technical director Carlos Bocanegra to fill.

Report: Spurs to extend stay at Wembley

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Tottenham Hotspur are reportedly hanging around at Wembley Stadium for another few months.

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Their home game against Manchester City next Monday (Oct. 29) was their last scheduled Premier League encounter at their temporary home, but a report from The Times states that their Nov. 24 game against Chelsea and the Dec. 5 clash with Southampton will both move to Wembley instead of being at their new stadium at White Hart Lane.

Spurs were meant to play the first game in their new 62,000 capacity home on Sept. 15 against Liverpool but issues with the “critical safety systems” saw the grand-opening delayed and it appears the new venue may not open until the festive period at the earliest.

Per the report, Spurs must tell the FA over the next few days if they want to move the games to Wembley and make plans for that to happen.

“The club must tell the FA by Thursday if they want to move the fixtures. They have until early November to inform the governing body if they also want to stage the league game against Burnley at the national stadium on December 15. They have agreed an option to use Wembley until Christmas and are scheduled to host Bournemouth and Wolverhampton Wanderers within three days over the holiday period. Tottenham have said that nothing has yet been decided and they have still to inform the FA of their plans.”

With their home UEFA Champions League group stage games in November already confirmed to take place at Wembley, it seems likely that Spurs will continue to take their time and make sure everything is spot on at their new home before moving in. At this point, why rush? January seems like the perfect time to make the move into the new stadium and start afresh in 2019.

Champions League predictions: Week 3

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The third round of games in the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League group stage take place on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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Manchester United host Juventus, Liverpool head to Red Star Belgrade, Man City travel to Shakhtar Donetsk and Tottenham play at PSV Eindhoven as the four Premier League clubs enter the pivotal double-header matchweeks.

[ MORE: United v Juve headlines UCL Tuesday ]

Below are the score predictions for the UCL games on Tuesday and Wednesday.


Tuesday

Group E
Ajax 2-1 Benfica
AEK Athens 1-3 Bayern Munich

Group F
Shakhtar Donetsk 0-2 Manchester City
Hoffenheim 2-1 Lyon

Group G
Real Madrid 4-1 Viktoria Plzen
Roma 3-0 CSKA Moscow

Group H
Young Boys 1-3 Valencia
Manchester United 2-2 Juventus

Wednesday

Group A
Club Brugge 1-3 Monaco
Borussia Dortmund 1-1 Atletico Madrid

Group B
PSV Eindhoven 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Barcelona 1-2 Inter Milan

Group C
Paris Saint-Germain 2-2 Napoli
Red Star Belgrade 1-3 Liverpool

Group D
Lokomotiv Moscow 1-2 FC Porto
Galatasaray 1-0 Schalke

Mesut Ozil lauds Arsenal’s “sexy football”

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Mesut Ozil and Arsenal put on a “sexy” second half display to beat Leicester City 3-1 on Monday, as the Gunners extended their winning streak to 10 games in all competitions and seven in the Premier League.

Ozil, 30, captained Arsenal and put in a silky display as he scored an equalizer right on half time, then orchestrated a thorough dismantling of Leicester’s defense in the second half.

First, his perfect through ball found Hector Bellerin who crossed for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to make it 2-1, then moments later Ozil’s clever flick sparked a flowing move into life as he then dummied a ball into the box before using the outside of his left foot to audaciously flick it into the path of Aubameyang to wrap up the win.

Arsenal’s playmaker took to social media after the game and gave a pretty accurate assessment of what went on.

“I think we played some sexy football tonight. Proud captain of this team and this club!” Ozil said.

Unai Emery handing Ozil the captains armband seems to be a bit of a masterstroke, with the German star having a tough time off the pitch over the past few months due to his ongoing dispute with the German FA after retiring from the international game following their 2018 World Cup failure.

Ozil had a slow start to the season at Arsenal and was subbed off by Emery regularly but it appears he is know the heartbeat of the Gunners attack once again and he looks hungry to lead the team who are currently on the crest of a wave. Ozil has now scored four times in his last six games for the Gunners and after signing his new contract in the summer the former Real Madrid star looks settled under Emery.

It is still too early in the season to see whether or not Ozil and Arsenal are set to mount a serious title or top four challenge but the early signs under Emery are encouraging.

Yes, defensively they are coughing up plenty of big chances and Leicester could feel aggrieved to not be handed a penalty kick but going forward Arsenal are in fine form and Ozil is the main man behind the “sexy football” which looks sharper, quicker and more dynamic under Emery.

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