Daily Briefing

Sport shorts: Rory McIlroy praises ‘unbelievable’ Tiger Woods and Melbourne is ‘lucky’ to host F1 Australian GP

Ten things from the world of sport on Wednesday 11 March

1. Rory: Tiger’s No.1 run was just insane 

Defending champion Rory McIlroy heads to The Players Championship celebrating a 100th week in his career as golf’s world No.1.

However, he knows there’s a long way to go if he was ever to match Tiger Woods’s 683 weeks as the world’s best golfer. 

Speaking at TPC Sawgrass ahead of The Players, which starts tomorrow, Northern Irishman McIlroy said: “I’m very proud to think that I’ve spent two years of my career at the top of the world rankings, which is a pretty nice feeling. But Tiger’s 683, I can’t fathom.

“I mean, it’s just unbelievable. I just don’t think anyone can speak highly enough of what Tiger did over that stretch of golf. It was just insane.”

The Players Championship gets underway at 11.40am (GMT) tomorrow and is live on Sky Sports Golf. McIlroy tees off at 5.51pm but Woods will not play because of a back injury.

2. Klopp warns of Atletico antics 

If Champions League holders Liverpool are to remain in the competition they will have to overturn a one-goal deficit against Atletico Madrid at Anfield tonight.

The Reds trail 1-0 from the first leg and boss Jurgen Klopp is concerned at what tactics their visitors may adopt.

“You need always a referee who is aware of situations like this, we cannot do it by ourselves,” said the German. “We expect a really ‘experienced’ performance from Atletico, let me say that. In all different departments [they are] experienced and we have to deal with that.” 

In tonight’s other Champions League last-16 second leg Borussia Dortmund take a 2-1 aggregate lead to Paris Saint-Germain. Both ties kick off at 8pm and are live on BT Sport.

3. Man City vs. Arsenal is off

Manchester City’s match against Arsenal this evening has become the first Premier League fixture to fall victim to coronavirus. 

The decision to call off the Etihad clash was taken after Nottingham Forest and Olympiacos owner Evangelos Marinakis tested positive for coronavirus a fortnight after watching his Greek team beat Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in the Europa League.

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4. Wolves must play

Wolves’s request to Uefa to postpone tomorrow night’s Europa League last-16 tie against Olympiacos has been rejected. 

The Greek club’s owner, Evangelos Marinakis, has tested positive for coronavirus, which is why the Man City game has been shelved with Arsenal because he came into contact with some Gunners players and staff in the last round of the competition. 

But it’s reported that the Europa League match between Olympiacos and Wolves will go ahead tomorrow, behind closed doors, in line with the Greek government’s enforced temporary suspension of spectators attending sporting events.

Coronavirus impact on sport events: what’s postponed, cancelled or being played behind closed doors? 

5. Rome and Getafe won’t travel

Two other Europa League last-16 first leg matches are also in doubt. Italian team AS Roma say they will not travel to Seville in Spain because their plane is not authorised to land while Spanish club Getafe are refusing to go to Italy to play Inter Milan. 

Getafe president Angel Torres said: “The Spanish government, which is what we have to follow, has banned return flights between Spain and Italy.

“It would be great to play the tie against Inter and we were very excited as a club and a fan base, but if that can’t happen and we have to lose the tie, we’ll do so with our heads held high.”

6. Australian GP ‘lucky’ to go ahead

Coronavirus has also been the major talking point in Formula 1 ahead of this weekend’s season-opening race in Melbourne. 

The BBC reports that three F1 teams members - two from Haas and one from McLaren - are in self-isolation after being tested for coronavirus at the Australian Grand Prix.

However the event’s chief executive Andrew Westacott says the city is “lucky” to stage the event at a time of such uncertainty.

He told Sky Sports: ““The event is going on, all the teams are here, the freights are being unloaded, and we’ve got 1,500 workers putting finishing touches to the venue. Different circumstances exist in different countries. We’re lucky that we’ve got the opportunity to stage this big event in the current period of time and you’ve got to capitalise on that.”

2020 F1 Australian GP: race guide, preview and predictions

7. England vs. Australia in Women’s World Cup opener

The opening match of the 2021 ICC Women’s World Cup will see defending champions England take on Australia in Auckland, New Zealand on Sunday 7 February. The final will be played in Christchurch on 7 March.

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8. Drinkwater sent home from Villa training

Danny Drinkwater’s future at Aston Villa is in doubt after the midfielder was sent home by manager Dean Smith yesterday following a training ground bust-up. The 30-year-old, who is on loan at Villa from Chelsea, reportedly clashed with team-mate Jota. 

9. From the Super Bowl to the wrestling ring 

According to Fox Sport’s WWE Backstage show three-time NFL Super Bowl winner Rob Gronkowski is close to signing a deal with WWE. The 30-year-old retired last year after winning his third Super Bowl with the New England Patriots.

10. Spurs crash out of the UCL 

The dominant story on the back pages is Tottenham Hotspur’s dismal defeat against RB Leipzig in the last 16 of the Uefa Champions League last night. 

“That was Dier, Jose”, blasts the Daily Mirror, above a photo of a glum Jose Mourinho and Eric Dier, the pair coming to terms with the 3-0 hammering by the German outfit. The tie finished 4-0 on aggregate to Leipzig. 

Today’s back pages

Spurs crash out and Klopp warns of Atletico’s ‘dark arts’ 

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