Tag Archives: showers

Paul Nicholls to stick with running Silviniaco Conti in Betfair Chase despite Haydock ground fears

Nicholls to run Silviniaco Conti in Betfair Chase despite Haydock ground fears

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UPDATED:

18:57 GMT, 21 November 2012

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls looks certain to stick to Plan A with Silviniaco Conti representing him in Saturday’s Betfair Chase at Haydock despite fears the race will be run in testing ground.

Nicholls also has stamina-packed Tidal Bay entered in the three-mile chase but the intention is to keep him for the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury a week later.

Haydock avoided the torrential rain that fell in the south on Wednesday, prompting the abandonment of Warwick plus today’s meetings at Hereford and Wincanton.

Ground fears: Silviniaco Conti will run at Haydock

Ground fears: Silviniaco Conti will run at Haydock

But 12mm of rain is predicted for the Merseyside track on Thursday, with further showers on Friday.

Clerk of the course Kirkland Tellwright said: ‘We’ve had 7mm in the last 24 hours but it will be a wet day tomorrow. There won’t be a problem with us racing but it’s going to be soft at best and, if we get the worst of it, heavy.’

The latter scenario would be the most testing conditions the Charlie Hall Chase winner Silviniaco Conti has ever faced, although the six-year-old won the 2010 Persian War Novices’ Hurdle at Chepstow on soft ground.

Sticking to his guns: Paul Nicholls

Sticking to his guns: Paul Nicholls

Nicholls, who has won four of the seven runnings of the Betfair Chase with recently-retired Kauto Star, said: ‘I will keep monitoring the situation but I don’t think it will be a problem for Silviniaco Conti. I am not thinking of running him in the King George so don’t have to worry about effecting his chances in that race.

‘You can keep saving them but what for There is going to be a lot of soft ground about and this is a 200,000 grade one race.

‘It is also to our advantage that Silviniaco has had a run – I can’t think that they’d want heavy ground for Long Run.

‘I’ve just got a feeling that Tidal Bay will run really well in the Hennessy. It looks certain to be a real test of stamina at Newbury.’

Despite the ground question mark over Silviniaco Conti, he continues to be supported with Ladbrokes cutting him to 2-1.

They and sponsors Betfair report little support for Nicky Henderson’s favourite Long Run.

The 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner is a longer price on the exchange (13-8) than he was before Tuesday’s injury withdrawal of Imperial Commander.

World Superbike Championship 2012: Loris Baz wins round 10 at Silverstone

Baz claims first ever World Superbike Championship victory in round 10

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UPDATED:

18:25 GMT, 5 August 2012

Loris Baz enjoyed the best of a weather-hit round 10 of the World Superbike Championship at Silverstone, claiming his first ever victory in the competition.

The Frenchman battled appalling conditions to cross the line first on his Kawasaki in an opening race which had to be stopped twice following crashes.

Baz then followed up with a second place in race two, behind Ducati rider Sylvain Guintoli, with organisers red-flagging the contest at the halfway stage as the rain finally won out.

Loris Baz claimed his first ever victory in the Superbike Championship

Loris Baz claimed his first ever victory in the Superbike Championship

The lead changed hands several times in race one as heavy showers toyed with the riders, but it was eventually Baz who prevailed by 0.383 seconds ahead of BMW duo Michel Fabrizio and Ayrton Badovini.

Both Badovini and fourth-placed Jonathan Rea (Honda) came off their bikes in the final moments but had crossed the lines before the incidents.

Carlos Checa (Althea Racing Ducati) was fifth, but championship leader Max Biaggi failed to pick up any points for Aprilia Racing after skidding off the track.

Race two was even more incident-packed with Guintoli declared the winner on his debut for PATA Ducati.

The Frenchman took the lead on the first bend and stayed there until the race was abandoned, with half points awarded to the riders.

Baz finished second on countback despite crashing, while Jakub Smrz (Ducati), Maxime Berger (Ducati), Rea, Checa and Badovini also came off their bikes within the space of just two laps.

Smrz was declared to have finished the race third ahead of Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) and Berger.
Biaggi's miserable day was compounded with an 11th-placed finish.

England v South Africa: Day four washed out at Headingley

England hopes washed away against South Africa on day four at rain soaked Headingley

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UPDATED:

16:30 GMT, 5 August 2012

England's hopes of victory in the second Test with South Africa were washed away in the Yorkshire rain as day four at Headingley was blighted by heavy showers.

Kevin Pietersen, starting the day on 149, lasted just two deliveries before losing his wickets and with him went hopes of forging a commanding lead against the tourists.

Courtesy of a quick-fire 68 from Matt Prior, England took a six run lead into the second innings which lasted just 17 overs after rain returned.

The downpours flooded the outfield, giving match officials no option but to call off proceedings and with just a day remaining hopes of a result all but disappeared.

More to follow…

Under my umbrella: Weather spoiled proceedings at Headingley

Under my umbrella: Weather spoiled proceedings at Headingley

England v South Africa

Click here for full scorecard

Wet and wild: Thunder and lightning curtailed the action in the mornign session

Wet and wild: Thunder and lightning curtailed the action in the mornign session

Wet and wild: Thunder and lightning curtailed the action in the mornign session


Swept up: Tahir wrapped up the England innings, with South Africa trailing by just six runs

Swept up: Tahir wrapped up the England innings, with South Africa trailing by just six runs

In a spin: Tahir has been in the wickets for South Africa this morning

In a spin: Tahir has been in the wickets for South Africa this morning


Prior engagement: England's wicketkeeper has been mighty impressive with the batengage

Prior engagement: England's wicketkeeper has been mighty impressive with the bat


Early breakthrough: South Africa were delighted with the second-ball wicket, but have been made to graft since

Early breakthrough: South Africa were delighted with the second-ball wicket, but have been made to graft since

Out: Kevin Pietersen is trapped lbw by Morkel in the first over of the day at Headingley

Out: Kevin Pietersen is trapped lbw by Morkel in the first over of the day at Headingley

Wimbledon 2012: Andy Murray to face David Ferrer after Ed Sheeran inspiration – Martin Samuel

Murray's a big hit after the musical chairs…

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UPDATED:

21:48 GMT, 3 July 2012

Andy Murray was listening to Ed Sheeran during breaks in play on Tuesday. You can understand why he came back on court a little tetchy.

He's not exactly a barrel of laughs, Ed Sheeran. His most famous song, The A Team, is about the wintry, pitiful death of a teenage drug addict hooker. You really come out of the blocks full of life's joys after a quick blast of that in the locker room.

Then again, Murray could have stuck on the theme tune from The Banana Splits and by the time Wimbledon's committee of surreal misrule had finished with his schedule, he would have had steam coming out of his ears. Much like the rest of us.

Weather doesn't rain on Andy's parade: Murray overcame the conditions to beat Cillic

Weather doesn't rain on Andy's parade: Murray overcame the conditions to beat Cillic

It certainly wasn't the worst day of weather in Wimbledon's history. Not even the worst of this tournament if truth be told and, considering the summer we have had, the chaos could have been considerable by now.

Even so, at the point just after noon when Murray was looking squarely at Grand Slam supervisor Pam Whitecross, and hissing: 'Who ordered this suspension Who' it did seem as if there was a previously undiscovered circle of hell entitled 'intermittent showers'.

Murray will play David Ferrer in the quarter-finals today, despite the tournament planners, rather than because of their decisive interventions. Had he not got a difficult fourth-round tie with Marin Cilic over in straight sets and before a second wave of rain came in, he would still have been hanging around yesterday evening, time running out and pressure mounting up.

Going through: The British No 1 will face Ferrer in the quarter-finals

Going through: The British No 1 will face Ferrer in the quarter-finals

Having been accused of all but fixing the tournament in Murray's favour by second-round opponent Ivo Karlovic, no doubt the organisers were very keen to see Murray do his turn on Court No 1.

Unfortunately that appearance has coincided with 48 hours of inclement weather, meaning Murray did very well indeed to dispatch another member of the awkward squad in double quick time, before facing one of the most in-form players on the circuit today.

'This is the start of something beautiful,' sings Sheeran, 'this is the start of something new.' And for Murray, maybe it is.

Novak Djokovic looks the best player here, unsurprisingly, but in Murray's part of the draw he is the kingpin. Not that it is without dangers – Ferrer defeated him at the French Open last month – but it would not be arrogant to acknowledge this as Murray's most favourable path to the final so far.

Making a racquet: Murray speaks to the umpire as rain starts to fall again on Tuesday

Making a racquet: Murray speaks to the umpire as rain starts to fall again on Tuesday

Rafael Nadal is eliminated and his toughest opponent so far has been the peculiar way his sport deals with rain delays. Tuesday's resumption was scheduled to start at midday, for instance. It was relatively clear by late morning. So, did the officials hurry the players along, get them to knock up at 11.50am ready for a midday start Not at all.

Murray and Cilic emerged at 12, starting warming up at 12.01 and it began raining again at 12.07. 'Time,' said the umpire, without a trace of irony.

Murray was leading 40-0 and 3-1 in the second set from Monday. He won the point, at which point both men walked off court in the light drizzle and sat down for the scheduled between-game break. There were another five points played before precipitation curtailed play.

Meanwhile, over on Centre Court, the roof that had been shut all morning had been opened in time for play to start, despite the adverse forecast. Now, in response to the rain, it was being closed again, forcing a delay of 30 minutes.

Next up: Murray will face the in-form Ferrer for a place in the last four

Next up: Murray will face the in-form Ferrer for a place in the last four

A Magic Eight-Ball could have decided the tournament's rain policy with greater consistency. Murray went back to Ed Sheeran, not knowing when he would return. Fortunately, he had to wait little more than an hour.

It was six minutes past one when the players reappeared – although they could have done so a good 15 minutes earlier – and light rain had resumed by the time the five-minute knock-up was completed.

Perhaps fearing another scowl and snarl from Britain's impatient No 1, this time they let it slide. Murray did not require a second invitation.

He rattled through the completion of the second set, winning 6-2, and saved two break points at the start of the third, before the rain set in again. This time, there was at least compromise. The play stopped, but the players did not leave the court, instead sheltering beneath umbrellas while some more official walkie-talkie action took place.

Resuming to cheers, it seemed Murray had grown as tired of the uncertainty as the rest of us. He finished off Cilic with a flourish of big serves delivered and big points won. Cilic is no fool, either.

Trailing 4-1 and 40-0, he saved three break points and another at advantage, to delay Murray's march into the sharp end of the men's singles.

There was impressive inevitability about the denouement, however, as Murray served two aces in the final game, before Cilic put a double backhand into the net. It was brisk, it was businesslike, and further evidence of Murray's refusal to fall victim to fate at this tournament.

A dropped set, a tiebreak or two and he could have been shuffling around on his iPod all day. Instead, it was home to rest up, mess around on PlayStation and plan his revenge on Ferrer, which will take place on Centre Court, where Murray is likely to stay for the remainder of the tournament.

He might even find time for some more Ed Sheeran; although the Banana Splits will better reflect the mood of optimism if he is still here for Friday's semi-final.

Wimbledon 2012: Andy Murray beats Marin Cilic

Murray forgets frustration of rain delays to blow Cilic away and reach quarter-finals

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UPDATED:

13:46 GMT, 3 July 2012

Andy Murray beat the rain and Marin Cilic to book his place in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon for a fifth successive year.

The pair had been forced off yesterday with the fourth seed leading 7-5 3-1 and endured more disruption today before Murray clinched a 7-5 6-2 6-3 victory under leaden skies on Court One.

The Scot had looked nervy at the start on Monday but was much more fluent on resumption of play and moved smoothly through to a last-eight meeting with David Ferrer –

Job done: Andy Murray beat Marin Cilic to reach the quarter-finals at Wimbledon

Job done: Andy Murray beat Marin Cilic to reach the quarter-finals at Wimbledon

Murray's absence from Centre Court had
caused some controversy yesterday but the 25-year-old did not feel he
had been unfairly treated.

He said: 'I don't care which court I
play on. It makes no difference. Any player would rather play on Centre
because it's got the roof so you'll get your match in.

'But I don't deserve to play every
match on Centre, I just wish the weather was a bit better. I think I'll
probably play on Centre.'

The players returned to Court One as
scheduled at midday but it began to spit with rain just as umpire Carlos
Bernardes called time.

Not again! The umbrellas went up soon after the resumption of Murray's match on Tuesday afternoon

Not again! The umbrellas went up soon after the resumption of Murray's match on Tuesday afternoon

Blown away: No 16 seed Cilic was no match for the impressive Murray on Court 16

Blown away: No 16 seed Cilic was no match for the impressive Murray on Court 16

There was a brief delay before it was decided they could begin, and Murray needed only one point to move into a 4-1 lead.

Cilic then held serve before Bernardes
decided the rain was too persistent and they went off court again after
barely five minutes of play and only six points.

The rain did not last long but there
were plenty of showers around and it was not until 1.05pm that the
players returned to court.

It began to spit again as they warmed
up but there were no further delays and Murray easily held his serve to
love to move 5-2 in front.

Brit of alright: Murray stretches for a ball on Court No 1 on Tuesday afternoon

Brit of alright: Murray stretches for a ball on Court No 1 on Tuesday afternoon

Andy's girls: Murray's mum, Judy, and girlfriend, Kim Sears, in the stands at the All England Club

Andy's girls: Murray's mum, Judy, and girlfriend, Kim Sears, in the stands at the All England Club

The Scot looked confident and was
hitting much more freely than yesterday, and a combination of backhand
and forehand winners took him to set point on the Cilic serve.

With the rain falling again he took it
with another backhand return right at the feet of Cilic that the
Croatian could only paddle into the net.

The world number four lost his
concentration a touch at the start of the third set and four times found
himself break point down, but each time a big serve got him out of
trouble and he held on.

It was raining increasingly heavily
and the players had an extended sit in their chairs at the change of
ends, but they did not leave the court and were soon under way again.

Pop star: The Saturdays' member Molly King (right) watched Murray's impressive win over Cilic

Pop star: The Saturdays' member Molly King (right) watched Murray's impressive win over Cilic

What's going on Murray speaks to the umpire as rain starts to fall again on Tuesday

What's going on Murray speaks to the umpire as rain starts to fall again on Tuesday

Murray was so confident he finished
the third game with a second serve ace and then promptly broke again, a
running forehand pass banging another nail in Cilic's coffin.

Cilic, the 16th seed, had gone into
the clash on an eight-match winning streak on grass after lifting the
AEGON Championships trophy at Queen's Club but he looked to have little
appetite for a fightback.

He did save four break points in the
sixth game to deny Murray a 5-1 lead, but it was only a temporary
reprieve and the Scot clinched an impressive victory after two hours and
10 minutes when Cilic netted a backhand.

All the shots: British No 1 Murray hits a backhand during his demolition of the Croatian

All the shots: British No 1 Murray hits a backhand during his demolition of the Croatian

Great Scot: Murray looked comfortable despite all of the stoppages due to persistent rain

Great Scot: Murray looked comfortable despite all of the stoppages due to persistent rain

Put it there: The two competitors shake hands at the end of the three-set match

Put it there: The two competitors shake hands at the end of the three-set match

Wimbledon 2012: Petra Kvitova beats Akgul Amanmuradova in first round

Women's champion Kvitova makes winning start to defence on Centre Court

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UPDATED:

15:08 GMT, 26 June 2012

Petra Kvitova had to come from behind to make a winning start to the defence of her Wimbledon title on Centre Court.

The 22-year-old Czech fell an early break down against Uzbekistan's world No 96 Akgul Amanmuradova and was in trouble at 4-2 adrift in the first set, but then pieced together six straight games and went on to earn a 6-4, 6-4 victory.

The match was interrupted by the first showers of the fortnight during the second set but Kvitova was by that stage approaching the winning line.

Perfect start: Defending champion Petra Kvitova celebrates her first round victory over Uzbekistan's Akgul Amanmuradova

Perfect start: Defending champion Petra Kvitova celebrates her first round victory over Uzbekistan's Akgul Amanmuradova

With father Jiri and mother Pavla watching from the Royal Box, Kvitova savoured the occasion of returning to the scene where she beat Maria Sharapova 12 months ago to secure her first grand slam title.

The performance from the left-hander may not have been entirely convincing, but the objective was at least achieved.

She dropped her opening service game and Amanmuradova's consistent serving kept her ahead for a while.

Raining... champion: Kvitova's first round match was interrupted by the first showers of the tournament

Raining… champion: Kvitova's first round match was interrupted by the first showers of the tournament

But then Kvitova's extra class began to tell, and breaks in the seventh and ninth games turned the set around in the fourth seed's favour.

Kvitova asserted herself with a further break of Amanmuradova's serve in the opening game of the second set, and held on her own delivery to win that sixth game in a row.

At six foot, Kvitova is among the taller players in the women's game, but remarkably Amanmuradova has a height advantage of three inches over her.

Hitting back: Kvitova produces a brilliant backhand to come from behind in the first set

Hitting back: Kvitova produces a brilliant backhand to come from behind in the first set

Alex Kay Talks Tennis

She has never been able to make that count at Wimbledon though, losing in the first round now in all five of her appearances, having made her debut in 2008.

The rain delay, lasting half an hour, forced the players to take shelter and the court covers to go on.

But Kvitova returned to play a love service game and clinch a second-round tussle against either Britain's Elena Baltacha or Italian Karin Knapp.

Marching on: Kvitova (R) shakes hands with Amanmuradova as she moves on to the second round

Marching on: Kvitova (R) shakes hands with Amanmuradova as she moves on to the second round

Things are shaping up nicely in Poland for Hodgson and England

Things are shaping up nicely in Poland for Hodgson and England

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UPDATED:

21:31 GMT, 22 May 2012

Below you can see the immaculate surface waiting to greet Roy Hodgson and his England squad in Krakow.

Hodgson’s predecessor Fabio Capello was criticised for setting up England’s Euro 2012 camp in Poland when their group games are in Ukraine.

But the FA insisted pitch quality was the key factor, and the players will not be disappointed when they report for training at the Stadion Suche Stawy next week.

Now and then: The training facilities in May 2012 and below, in November 2011

Now and then: The training facilities in May 2012 and below, in November 2011

Before the changes to the facilities

The original pitch – worn and muddy in patches – was removed and the Sports Turf Research Institute nurtured another one from seed to Barclays Premier League standard. STRI made the acclaimed pitches at England’s World Cup base in South Africa and their engineers worked through Poland’s coldest winter in 40 years to deliver the new pitch on time.

The six-figure revamp of the 6,500-capacity stadium, home to Hutnik Nowa Huta of Poland’s fifth tier, was funded by the FA and the city of Krakow and includes new changing areas, showers and bathrooms.

Barcelona v Chelsea live

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE LIVE: Barcelona v Chelsea – the action from the Nou Camp as it happens

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UPDATED:

18:51 GMT, 24 April 2012

Follow Sportsmail's coverage of the Champions League as Chelsea travel to Barcelona for the second leg of their semi-final. The Blues need just a draw to guarantee reaching the final after winning the first leg 1-0 at Stamford Bridge. Elsewhere Aston Villa host Bolton in the Premier League as they bid to haul themselves away from the bottom three. Email me your thoughts on the action at [email protected] or contact me on Twitter @Ripinho.

Barcelona 0-0 Chelsea (7.45pm) Aggregate: 0-1

Click here for the live goals as they go in

Barcelona: Valdes, Puyol, Pique,
Mascherano, Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta, Cuenca, Messi, Sanchez, Fabregas.
Subs: Pinto, Dani Alves, Thiago, Keita, Pedro, Adriano, Tello.

Chelsea:
Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole, Mikel, Meireles, Mata, Lampard,
Ramires, Drogba.
Subs: Turnbull, Essien, Torres, Malouda, Bosingwa,
Kalou, Sturridge.

Referee: Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey)

Premier League

Aston Villa 0-0 Bolton (7.45pm)

19.51: Poor finish from Lionel Messi but the signs are there. Alexis Sanchez slips through the Argentine on the right but he blasts wide into the side netting. A sighter maybe

19.48: And also in Barcelona, where after 10 seconds Ashley Cole's low cross is just too short for Ramires as Victor Valdes collects.

19.45: Away we go in Birmingham.

19.42: Teams are out at the Nou Camp and Villa Park. None of that April showers nonsense in Spain – it's a clear evening.

19.39: Time for a quick stat concerning our Premier League game tonight….albeit a bit of a left field one from InfostradaLive:

The first goal will be the 1000th PL goal scored on a Tuesday. The first was scored by Gavin Johson for Ipswich Town against Wimbleden (1-0) on 18 August 1992.

19.36: Fancy a trip down memory lane Peter Lorimer has spoken to Sportsmail's John Edwards about how his Leeds team beat Barcelona in a semi-final to reach the final of this competition in 1975.

19.33: From InfostradaLive:

The streak of six matches without a victory against Chelsea is the longest for Barcelona against a specific opponent in Europe. They had a streak of five matches without a win vs Valencia between 1962 and 2000.

19.30: Bar vs Che should be a great game tonight. I just hope that certain players (on both sides) tendencies to dive don't spoil it.

Laughinggooner, Twitter

I'm with you on that one. The Real Madrid v Barcelona semi-final last year was ruined by simulation – sadly overshadowing the excellence of Messi.

19.27: An interesting debate is can Chelsea get away with playing the same way they did in the first-leg

While they held Barcelona at Stamford Bridge, they did ride their luck on more than one occasion trying to shut Barca out.

Of course the other side of the coin is can Chelsea really play any other way without getting ripped to shreds

19.24: From those friendly chaps at InfostradaLive:

In the CL main tournament era there have been 22 teams that have won the first leg of a KO tie 1-0 at home.

The home team from the first leg progressed 15 times and the away team progressed seven times.

Barcelona corrected a 1-0 defeat at Panathinaikos in the 2001/02 quarterfinal by winning the return 3-1 at Camp Nou.

Chelsea failed to progress from this position in the 2006/07 semifinal, losing 1-0 at Anfield to Liverpool and losing on penalties.

All smiles: Didier Drogba (right) will again lead Chelsea's attack in Barcelona

All smiles: Didier Drogba (right) will again lead Chelsea's attack in Barcelona

19.21: Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish is forced to make three changes for the home Barclays Premier League clash with Bolton.

Right-back Alan Hutton, midfielder Stephen Warnock and striker Emile Heskey come into the side in place of injured trio James Collins, Stephen Ireland and Gabriel Agbonlahor.

Carlos Cuellar takes over the captaincy from Agbonlahor who is only fit enough to be be named amongst the substitutes because of his shoulder problem.

Bolton boss Owen Coyle brings striker David Ngog into the side in place of Kevin Davies in the only change from the side which drew with Swansea.

19.18: From OptaJose:

12 – Only Real Madrid and Bayern (13) have met more often in the Champions League than Barcelona and Chelsea. Familiar

19.15: With half-an-hour to kick off you still have a decent amount of time to get some reading done. So let me recommend you this excellent piece from Sportsmail's Martin Samuel in the build-up to this clash.

19.12: Full line-ups from Villa Park:

Aston Villa v Bolton
Aston Villa: Given, Hutton, Cuellar, Baker, Lichaj, Albrighton, Herd, Warnock, N'Zogbia, Heskey, Weimann. Subs: Guzan, Agbonlahor, Delfouneso, Clark, Bannan, Gardner, Carruthers.

Bolton: Bogdan, Steinsson, Ream, Wheater, Ricketts, Miyaichi, Reo-Coker, Mark Davies, Petrov, Eagles, Ngog. Subs: Jaaskelainen, Alonso, Knight, Kevin Davies, Klasnic, Sordell, Vela.

Referee: Chris Foy (Merseyside)

19.09: Didier Drogba returns from injury as Chelsea stick with their first-leg side for tonight's Champions League semi-final return at Barcelona.

The Blues name the same starting XI that won 1-0 at Stamford Bridge and are boosted by Drogba's recovery from a knee injury that saw him miss Saturday's clash with Arsenal.

The big news in the Barcelona squad is that Dani Alves only makes the substitutes' bench as coach Pep Guardiola makes two changes from the side that lost in London, with Gerard Pique and Isaac Cuenca drafted in.

19.06: From InfostradaLive:

Chelsea’s starting line-up has scored a combined 65 official goals this season. Messi has scored 63.

Confident A Barcelona fan looks on inside the Nou Camp

Confident A Barcelona fan looks on inside the Nou Camp

19.03: So here are the full line-ups from the Nou Camp:

Barcelona v Chelsea
Barcelona: Valdes, Puyol, Pique, Mascherano, Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta, Cuenca, Messi, Sanchez, Fabregas. Subs: Pinto, Dani Alves, Thiago, Keita, Pedro, Adriano, Tello.

Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole, Mikel, Meireles, Mata, Lampard, Ramires, Drogba. Subs: Turnbull, Essien, Torres, Malouda, Bosingwa, Kalou, Sturridge.

Referee: Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey)

19.00: Bolton starting XI:

Bogdan, Steinsson, Eagles, Petrov, M Davies, Ricketts, Reo-Coker, Ngog, Miyaichi, Wheater, Ream.

18.57: Aston Villa starting XI:

Given, Hutton, Warnock, N'Zogbia, Albrighton, Heskey, Cuellar, Weimann, Lichaj, Heard, Baker.

18.54: Very attacking formation from the hosts. That's a 3-4-3 they are playing with the 20-year old Isaac Cuenca joining Lionel Messi and Alexis Sanchez in attack.

18.51: Chelsea starting XI:

Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole, Mikel, Lampard, Mata, Meireles, Ramires, Drogba.

18.48: Barcelona starting XI:

Valdes, Puyol Mascherano Pique, Xavi, Busquets Iniesta Fabregas, Cuenca, Messi, Alexis.

Join the attack: Isaac Cuenca (right) starts in the Barcelona attack

Join the attack: Isaac Cuenca (right) starts in the Barcelona attack

18.45: Time for some early predictions. Chelsea may only need a draw but I can't see Barcelona failing to score again.

I'm going 2-0 for the Spanish giants, but remember the Blues only need one goal to ensure Barcelona need at least three to go through.

18.40: Elsewhere this evening Aston Villa host Bolton in the Premier League – and that too is a huge fixture for those clubs.

A win for Villa should keep their necks above water for another season in the top flight but Owen Coyle's side desperately need three points to close within a point of 17th placed Wigan.

I'll keep you posted on all the goals from that game as well but the main focus is the Champions League semi-final.

18.35: I say they need a draw like it's going to be some walk in the park but they face arguably the hardest challenge in club football right now.

Favourites (despite being a goal down) and European champions Barcelona provide the opposition at the Nou Camp.

But after suffering successive defeats, are Pep Guardiola's side on a wobble

18.30: The magic of knock-out football. One moment we're all panicking over whether we'll have a British side in the Champions League quarter-finals, the next, Chelsea are a draw away from reaching Munich.

Can the Blues pull it off tonight and ensure the final of Europe's premier club competition has Premier League representative for the sixth time in seven years Team news on the way.

Reign in Spain: Juan Mata (left) will hope Chelsea can avoid defeat at Barcelona

Reign in Spain: Juan Mata (left) will hope Chelsea can avoid defeat at Barcelona

London 2012: Inspire a Generation – Olympic slogan revealed

Inspire a Generation! London 2012 slogan revealed with Games just 100 days away

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UPDATED:

08:52 GMT, 18 April 2012

Inspire a Generation has been revealed as the official slogan for the London Olympics.

With the Games just 100 days away, the slogan was officially unveiled at a ceremony at Kew Gardens by London organising committee (LOCOG) chairman Seb Coe and chief executive Paul Deighton.

Coe said: 'With 100 days to go to the
start of the Games, millions of people are getting ready to do the best
work of their lives and welcome the world this summer. Expectations are
high and we won't disappoint.'

Perfect timing: The Olympic countdown clock in Trafalgar Square

Perfect timing: The Olympic countdown clock in Trafalgar Square

Even the April showers couldn't dampen spirits at Kew as giant
flower beds in the shape and colours of the Olympic rings brightened up a dull day in south west London. The display is visible from the
Heathrow flight path.

Organisers also announced that the
Red Arrows – the RAF aerobatic team – will perform a flypast across the
UK to mark the opening ceremony on July 27, flying over London 2012 live
sites in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London.

There will be a total of 22 live sites in towns and cities with big screens.

Flower power: The Olympic rings at Kew Gardens

Flower power: The Olympic rings at Kew Gardens

The slogan, in tune with LOCOG's commitment to the Games' legacy, will be on all Olympic signs and merchandise.

Four years ago, Beijing had the motto One World, One Dream, while Athens in 2004 said Welcome Home and Sydney told the world to Share The Spirit in 2000.

IOC president Jacques Rogge said expectations were high but he was confident that London would deliver.

Rogge said: 'Organising the Olympics
is a team effort and over the next hundred days, people from all walks
of life and from all around the world will play their part in helping to
make London 2012 a Games that will inspire a generation.

'From the athletes refining their
technique, to the volunteers learning about their roles, to the
torchbearers carrying the Olympic flame and the people supporting them
as they go, each and every one of them is playing their part in making
these a Games to remember.

That's sandy: A giant castle on the beach at Weymouth - where the sailing takes place - marks 100 days to go

That's sandy: A giant castle on the beach at Weymouth – where the sailing takes place – marks 100 days to go

'Around the world, the excitement is growing and expectations are high but I am confident that Britain and London will deliver a great sporting event and a warm welcome too.'

It was also announced today that 40 'Coubertin Oaks' trees are being planted at venues around the UK.

The trees will be grown from acorns taken from an oak planted in 1890 during the visit of the founder of the modern Olympic Movement, Pierre de Coubertin, to the Wenlock Olympian Games.

The oaks will be planted at Kew Gardens, William Brookes School in Much Wenlock, Shropshire, the Forestry Commission's National Arboretum, and at the UPS London Central Centre in Camden.

Ready to welcome the world: Guardsmen at Horse Guards Parade in London mark the 100-day countdown

Ready to welcome the world: Guardsmen at Horse Guards Parade in London mark the 100-day countdown

Amir Khan says he intends to "hurt" Lamont Peterson in re-match

Vengeful Khan aims to 'hurt and KO' Peterson in Vegas re-match

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UPDATED:

22:54 GMT, 13 March 2012

Amir Khan admits his preparations for the May 19 rematch with Lamont Peterson will be fuelled by intentions to ‘hurt’ the man who controversially won his WBA and IBF world light-welterweight titles.

The Bolton fighter is still riled by the split-decision loss suffered in Peterson’s home town of Washington in December, when he suffered two questionable point deductions and the infamous Man in the Hat was spotted ‘interfering’ with the judge’s point scoring process.

In neutral Las Vegas, Khan will face a man who claims he is ‘ready to die in the ring’ to defend his titles, but before then he will seclude himself in a mountain jungle in the Philippines for six weeks to build up the spite ahead of what he calls the biggest fight of his career.

No love lost: Lamont Peterson and Amir Khan face up to each other at the pre-fight press conference

No love lost: Lamont Peterson and Amir Khan face up to each other at the pre-fight press conference

‘This is make or break for me,’ said Khan. ‘I have to win this. I will train hard. This village I’m going to, it’s very isolated, very quiet, few cars. It is at altitude so you do one round in the ring and you feel your chest burning.

‘I’ll do my running with Manny (Pacquiao) — we’ll be running above the clouds. I’ve done it before and stayed in a five-star hotel. This time I want it basic, hard floors, cold showers.

Revenge on the mind: Khan says he wants to 'hurt' Peterson

Revenge on the mind: Khan says he wants to 'hurt' Peterson

‘It’s a proper Ninja camp. I’m going to work hard — I want to be in the best condition to get my belts back. I’m going in there to knock him out and hurt him.

‘I don’t really hold grudges, because that can cause you to make mistakes, but I want to win this fight and look good.

‘I’m not going to go in there and go crazy and wild, but I want to go in there and give him a proper boxing lesson.’

The prize: Peterson will put his IBF Light Welterweight Championship belt on the line

The prize: Peterson will put his IBF Light Welterweight Championship belt on the line