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Post time 2020-1-21 03:07:27 | Show the author posts only Reply Awards |Descending |Read mode
LEVERKUSEN, Germany - Dimitar Berbatov will be heading back to one of his former homes on Wednesday when Monaco visits Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League. Tyler Webb .The Bulgaria striker spent 5 1/2 years at Leverkusen, scoring 69 Bundesliga goals in 154 appearances from 2001-06.Leverkusen, which leads Group C with nine points, will look to avenge its loss in Monaco when they meet in the return match. In the other group match, Zenit St. Petersburg will host Benfica Lisbon with both teams looking to stave off elimination.A favourite of the fans, it was during his stay in Germany that Berbatov caught the eye of big European teams.He joined the club when he was 20 from CSKA Sofia and was one of the young stars of the Leverkusen side that reached the final of the 2002 Champions League.Berbatov became a stalwart during the 2003-04 season under the guidance of coach Klaus Augenthaler, scoring 16 goals and assisting on nine others in 33 league matches.Berbatov, who left the club to join Tottenham, has recovered in time from a groin injury that sidelined him for nearly two months and is expected to start against his former club.Here are some things to know ahead of Wednesdays matches:___HOW THEY ADVANCEAlready with nine points, Bayer Leverkusen will clinch the group with a win and will be through with a draw against Monaco.Monaco has five points and cannot go through even with a win.Zenit has four points and will be out if it loses and Monaco wins. Zenit won at Benfica so another victory will ensure at least a top-three finish.Benfica also has four points and will be out with a draw if Monaco wins. Defeat eliminates Benfica from Europe if Monaco wins.___KIESSLING SCORES, LEVERKUSEN WINSBayer Leverkusen striker Stefan Kiessling has been one of the most consistent scorers in the Bundesliga over the past few seasons. But Kiessling fell into a slump this season and failed to score in 14 consecutive matches in all competitions.He ended his slump over the weeks, scoring the first goal in a 3-1 victory in Hannover.We didnt attach much importance to this, but we are glad that people will stop counting for how many minutes Stefan hasnt scored, Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt said.___ENRAGING JARDIMMonaco coach Lenoardo Jardim has been given the difficult task of rebuilding a team deserted by Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez but filled with talented youngsters such as midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko and Anthony Martial.But the Portuguese coach is lamenting the lack of professionalism shown by the young generation.I think the young are not professional enough. You need to tell them about the discipline and rigour required in this trade, he said. In France, people tend to forget the age of these players and to worship them before they achieved anything.Jardim wont have to worry about Layvin Kurzawas attitude against Bayer, with the promising 22-year-old France left back out with a hamstring injury.___MIDFIELD ManoeuvrSUnable to count on its trio of first-choice Brazilian strikers, Benfica is looking to its Argentine midfielders to prevent it from going out of the Champions League in the group stage for the third straight year.Forwards Lima and Derley are carrying injuries and in doubt for the game at Zenit St. Petersburg. Jonas, who has seven goals in six appearances, was a late signing and wasnt registered for the competition.That leaves Enzo Perez and Eduardo Salvio to make the difference from behind the attack. Coach Jorge Jesus rested them both in last weekends Portuguese Cup game.In the last two seasons, Benfica dropped into the Europa League and both times lost in the final.         Roger Maris .His brother — Red Lake chiropractor Richard Radford — is en route to Sochi to cheer on his younger brother."Ive been getting texts from Eric and he just says the atmosphere is amazing, its special,” he said. Edmundo Sosa . The deal will pay Hainsey $3 million for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons and $2.5 million in 2016-17.CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Cam Newton said his focus is on getting back on the football field, not a new contract.The Panthers quarterback said Wednesday hes happy for San Franciscos Colin Kaepernick, who recently signed a six-year, $126 million contract. He even sent a congratulatory text message to Kaepernick, who beat Newton and the Panthers in the NFC divisional playoffs 23-10 in January.The Panthers have talked about a long-term contract for Newton but no deal has been completed."For me, thats the last thing thats on my mind," Newton said.Newton didnt practice Wednesday as he continues to rehab his left ankle following surgery in March, but spoke to the media inside the stadium afterward. He said he wants to participate in next weeks three-day minicamp, but isnt sure if hell be ready.Newton and Kaepernick are linked in many respects because they came out of college the same year.Newton was selected first overall in the NFL draft in 2011, but only this past year did he finally get the Panthers to the playoffs. Kaepernick was selected 35 picks behind Newton but has helped the 49ers reach the NFC championship game three straight seasons."Two different people, two different organizations," Newton said. "I wish Colin the best. ... I reached out and told him he deserved it. To do what he has done up to this point, he deserves to get paid."Newton can make an argument he does too based on three impressive statistical seasons.He has started every game for the Panthers since coming into the league and thrown for 11,299 yards with 64 touchdown passes and 42 interceptions. Hes also run for 2,032 yards and 28 TDs.But while general manager Dave Gettleman said Newton has proven to him that hes a franchise quarterback, the salary cap strapped Panthers havent signed the former Heisman Trophy winner to a long-term deal.The Panthers did pick up the option on the fifth year of Newtons rookie contract, which means Newtons sallary will jump from $3. Authentic Custom Cardinals Jersey.  million this year to $14.6 million in 2015.Newton has been working on an underwater treadmill in recent weeks, receiving ice and stem treatments for his left ankle. Hes also been throwing passes on the side during six of the teams last nine OTA practices.He said hes still experiences some pain in his ankle that reminds him hes not quite 100 per cent. The teams three-day minicamp begins Tuesday."Physically Im coming along fine and Im on page right where I expected to be, but mentally Im bored," Newton said.Newton said hes spent the last seven weeks pouring over game film from last year and practice film from OTAs.He acknowledged that while the extra time in the film room has been beneficial, he said it has become "a little monotonous."When he returns to the field Newton will be looking to develop some chemistry with an overhauled corps or wide receivers.The Panthers cut ties with their top four wide receivers from last year, including Newtons go-to guy Steve Smith.The team added free agents Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant and Tiquan Underwood and drafted Kelvin Benjamin in the first round. While Newton wasnt ready to say this years group of receivers is better than last years, he did say they have a chip on their shoulders."The elephant in the room has already been stated," Newton said. "Those guys have already accepted the challenge. You dont have to go in there and tell those guys, Hey, youre projected (to be) the sorriest receiver (group) in the NFL. We already know."But with that, those guys already have that fire in their eyes. I would rather those guys be like that and for them to go out there and bust their tails like theyve been doing. Its kind of like a slap in —not only their face — but my face as well."___AP NFL website www.pro32.ap.org___Follow Steve Reed on Twitter:        '''

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