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Like father, like son: Tim Weah hopes for soccer success

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Of course, Tim Weah credits a parent for his fast rise in soccer.

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Mom, not his famous dad.

“She’s had a huge impact on where I’m at now,” the 18-year-old American midfielder said. `She taught me the basics. She pushed me. She was my first coach, intramural coach when I was in Florida. That’s where I really started playing.”

Clar Weah was more interested in running as a personal activity but guided Tim’s soccer education. Her husband, George Weah, was the 1995 FIFA Player of the Year and was sworn in as Liberia’s president in January.

“He would just give me little pointers,” Tim Weah said. “He was more of the chill parent, just sitting back, relaxing, enjoying his time. He gave me some key pointers, some really important pointers that I use … like an easy way to score would be to shoot across the goal. He taught me that, and now I use that a lot. Just simple cutting moves, just changing the point of direction where you’re going – stuff that he did when I was playing.”

Tim Weah made his senior team debut in March with Paris Saint-Germain, dad’s club from 1992-95, and after the Ligue 1 title was clinched got his first start last month on the final day of the season.

He scored a hat trick against Paraguay last fall in the round of 16 at the Under-17 World Cup, made his U.S. national team debut in March against Paraguay, then scored against Bolivia on Memorial Day. He’s part of the American team playing Saturday against World Cup-bound France in Lyon, facing a Les Bleus roster that includes PSG colleagues Kylian Mbappe, Presnel Kimpembe and Alphonse Areola.

“I have some teammates on France, so that would be great scoring against them,” Weah said.

Tim was born in Brooklyn at a time his dad commuted from Europe to New York between games. The family moved in 2004 to the Pembroke Pines, Florida – a suburb of Fort Lauderdale, then in 2006 to the Rosedale section of Queens, New York, near the Nassau County border. Tim stayed for eight years, then relocated to Paris to join PSG’s academy.

He doesn’t have a recollection of watching dad play.

“But as I got older I started to go on the internet and explore and figure out who he was,” he said.

Weah is part of a young American roster brought in following the end of the Americans’ streak of seven straight World Cup appearances. With interim coach Dave Sarachan looking toward 2022, the group includes 18-year-old Josh Sargent, 19-year-old Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams, 20-year-old Cameron Carter-Vickers and 22-year-old Matt Miazga.

Sarachan sees Weah as unusually mature given his family background.

“When you’re around it like that, it’s like osmosis. You absorb so much, even subconsciously,” he said. “I think for any player that’s in an environment like that for your formative years, it’s just going to sort of manifest.”

At the same time, Weah has the frothy, infectious excitement of a newcomer, a quick, wide smile and an anything-is-possible personality. After scoring against Bolivia, he praised a teammate whose pass helped lead to his goal, saying “I love him.” He termed the crowd of 11,000-plus “insane for a young guy. I wanted to play my heart out for them.”

He predicted mom was screaming while watching on television and said dad probably was viewing in the middle of the night from Liberia. Tim remembered his reaction when told he’d be getting his first U.S. start.

“Those are the first two people I called, my parents,” he said. `They were really happy. They told me to keep my head and just go out there and play: We love you and just do your thing. We know you got it.”

Weah moved to France not knowing the language – he took Spanish in school – but now is fluent. He was invited to his initial training session with the first team in November 2016 and is convinced playing alongside stars such Mbappe, Edinson Cavani and Thiago Silva throttled up his soccer education.

“The guys at PSG, they don’t really look at what your parents have done. They kind of just look at you for you, and they want to see you succeed and they want to see you play, so I feel like being with such a great group of guys who accept me for me and how I play, I feel it’s awesome, and that’s why I click so well with them,” Weah said. “I just came in, didn’t have a big head, I stood in my little corner and just learned, and now I feel like I’m one of them. So next year is going to be really fun.”

PSG has a new coach in Thomas Tuchel, who two years ago promoted a 17-year-old American midfielder, Christian Pulisic, to Borussia Dortmund’s first team. At some point this year, Weah also could get a new U.S. coach. The new-look Americans want to put last October’s loss at Trinidad and Tobago far behind.

“It was time to rebuild. It was time to get all the younger guys in, and it was time to start over again,” Weah said. “I think the future’s really bright. And I can’t wait. I can’t wait.”

Eden Hazard suffers fracture ahead of Man City in UCL, El Clasico

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Eden Hazard is set to miss the Real Madrid’s UEFA Champions League first leg against Man City with a broken fibula.

Hazard had only returned to the lineup for two matches following a three-month absence with an ankle injury.

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The 29-year-old has made just 15 appearances for Real since arriving in a big-money move from Chelsea, scoring once with five assists.

He has never appeared in less than 30 league matches over the course of his career, five times missing one or zero matches.

Of course, all of his absences show that Real is very comfortable playing and winning without Hazard. Zinedine Zidane’s men lost Sunday to drop behind Barcelona in La Liga, but that was just its second loss of the league season.

Real will be taxed in depth like its rivals, with Wednesday’s visit from Man City followed by an El Clasico at the Bernabeu on March 1. Barcelona hosts Napoli on Tuesday.

Whether you like the playmaker or despise him, there must be some sense of sympathy for his latest ailments (even if Man City and Barca fans will likely offer a Jerry Seinfeld-esque, “That’s a shame”).

Watch Live: Manchester United, Wolves host bottom three battlers

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A pair of Premier League basement dwellers face stiff tests in their bids to win another season in the top flight.

Manchester United hosts Watford on NBCSN while Wolves welcome Norwich City on CNBC as both home sides aim to improve the health of their top four hopes in 9 a.m. ET kickoffs.

[ WATCH: Man Utd-Watford | Wolves-Norwich ]

Lineups notes from both matches:

LINEUPS

Manchester United

Watford


Wolves

Norwich City

Three Serie A matches suspended due to virus deaths in Italy

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ROME (AP) Three Serie A soccer matches scheduled for Sunday in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto were suspended late Saturday after the deaths of two people infected with the virus from China.

On orders from the Italian government, the games called off were: Inter Milan vs. Sampdoria, Atalanta vs. Sassuolo and Hellas Verona vs. Cagliari.

Three other matches in Genoa, Turin and Rome on Sunday are going ahead as scheduled.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

A dozen towns in northern Italy effectively went into lockdown on Saturday after the deaths of two people infected with the coronavirus from China, and a growing cluster of cases with no direct links to the origin of the outbreak abroad.

“The government is working on urgent measures to decisively confront and contain the cases of coronavirus contagion,” read a letter from Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora to Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malago shortly before midnight local time on Saturday. “Those measures also include the sports world in order to prevent risks and to better take care of the health of those involved in the events and competition.

“Following measures taken by the cabinet for protective reasons and maximum precaution, on orders of the government I’m asking you to suspend all sports events of every level and discipline planned for the Lombardy and Veneto regions on Sunday.”

The secondary contagions prompted local authorities in the Lombardy and Veneto regions to close schools, businesses and restaurants and to cancel sporting events and Masses.

The mayor of Milan, Italy’s business capital and the regional capital of Lombardy, shuttered public offices.

A 78-year-old man infected with the virus died in Veneto. A postmortem on a 77-year-old woman in Lombardy came back positive, though it wasn’t clear if illness from the virus caused her death.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Andrew Dampf on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AndrewDampf

PL Sunday preview: Wolves, Man United, Everton, Arsenal in action

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Sunday’s slate of Premier League fixtures promise to have a wide-range of action, as Wolves, Manchester United and Arsenal all take the field.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Norwich City  — 9:00 a.m. ET, on NBC Gold and NBCSports.com

Wolverhampton Wanderers are heading into Sunday’s match against bottom dwellers Norwich City with fresh, positive inertia.

On Thursday, Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men thumped Espanyol 4-0 in the knockout stages of the Europa League, giving Wolves a much-needed boost of confidence. The club, who has yet to win in Premier League play since January 18, ended a two-game streak without generating a goal against the Spanish side.

Wolves are the clear favorites heading into Molineux Stadium on Sunday. But on the other side stands a well-rested and hungry Norwich, who before going to winter break, showcased class and discipline against Liverpool in their last league showing.

Daniel Farke‘s side are eight points out of the safe zone but time is running out. The sense of urgency is at an all-season high for the Canaries, believers of their under-appreciated strengths.

“They (Wolves) are playing in Europe, they have kept three clean sheets, they have individual quality and it is a huge task,” Farke said. “But I don’t see any easy fixtures at this stage. It is about us. We always have a chance if we are good at our topics.

“People can write us off and say we have no chance to close the gap. But I don’t agree. It is possible.”

INJURIES: Wolves — OUT: Ruben Vinagre (hamstring) | Norwich — OUT: Timm Klose (knee), Sam Byram (hamstring)

Manchester United vs. Watford — 9:00 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

History and data say Watford, who have never won a league game at Old Trafford, stand no chance against Manchester United on Sunday.

But if one victory inspired a mostly-lethargic Hornets this season under Nigel Pearson it was the 2-0 win over United at Vicarage Road. The second-to-last side went on a six-match unbeaten streak following the said victory. It brought the club back to life, lifting them out of the bottom three.

Watford have since faltered and dropped back below the red line, but Pearson promises to stick to his philosophical guns.

“We approach every game in a very similar way and that is to try and be as positive as we can,” he said. “We’ll go out there and we’ll do what we can to win the game, we’ve not changed our approach, it’s just that results sometimes change how people perceive things.”

United will certainly look different, as Odion Ighalo is expected to make his home debut against his former club following his arrival in earlier this month.

United, who stand in the seventh spot with 38 points, have a clear window of opportunity to surpass fifth-place Tottenham with a victory. Prior to Sunday’s match, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer addressed questions regarding consistency.

“It is team selection – you’ve got to maybe rotate in Europe like we’ve done, then maybe go back to what we were at Chelsea this week,” Gunnar Solskjaer said. “I feel that Bruno [Fernandes] and Odion [Ighalo] coming in will get more goals in the team. That’s been lacking. The games we’ve lost – West Ham, Burnley, Palace, Bournemouth – we’ve had chances but we haven’t scored goals.”

Perhaps Ighalo could finally contribute towards a win at Old Trafford with Watford jerseys on the field.

INJURIES: Manchester United — Paul Pogba (ankle), Axel Tuanzebe (thigh), Marcus Rashford (back) | Watford — OUT: Daryl Janmaat (knee), Tom Cleverley (match fitness)

Arsenal vs. Everton — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Subplots reign supreme ahead of Everton’s visit to the Emirates.

Mesut Ozil, who missed the Gunners’ 1-0 Europa League victory, and Andres Gomes, 16 weeks after an ankle dislocation and fracture, are both expected to return to action. Meanwhile, Mikel Arteta and Carlo Ancelotti will meet for the first time after being linked to each other’s position before the start of the new year.

Perhaps the most significant one, however – at least to Everton – is that it’s been 24 years since the Toffees won at Arsenal. If they can pull it off this time around, the Liverpool-based side will be one step closer to the European dream.

“We have to be focused on Arsenal,” Ancelotti said. “Then there are very important games after. There’s [Manchester] United, Chelsea, Liverpool. After these four games, we can see what is going on for Europe.”

“This is a really important game against a strong team, away, but we have to have confidence to do our best and try to win. We’ve got 13 games to go and have got ourselves in a decent position,” he said. “It gives us the platform to have a decent season. I think we’ve done okay. We’ve had huge problems over six weeks and fair play to the squad for showing that resilience.”

Everton have picked up 17 points out the 24 possible under the Italian, while Arsenal have only experienced two wins under the Spaniard.

INJURIES: Arsenal — Cedric Soares (knee), Kieren Tierney (shoulder), Callum Chambers (knee), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (knee) | Everton — OUT: Jean-Phillipe Gbamin (thigh)