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Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo

Life without Cristiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane has got off to a rocky start for Real Madrid after losing the UEFA Super Cup to Atletico Madrid and they will be eager to smooth over those cracks in their opening La Liga game against Getafe on Sunday.

Real finished 17 points behind runaway champions Barcelona last season although they compensated by lifting a third consecutive Champions League title.

However, the departure of Ronaldo, their leading scorer for the past nine seasons, to Serie A champions Juventus means they are lacking firepower ahead of the new campaign.

New coach Julen Lopetegui begins his first season in La Liga with the blemish of being sacked by Spain on the eve of this year’s World Cup for the manner in which he negotiated his move to Madrid.

Lopetegui is a highly respected tactician and had made Spain one of the favourites to win the tournament before his undignified exit threw their campaign into chaos, leading them to being knocked out by hosts Russia in the last 16.

The Spaniard, however, lacks the winning record of his French predecessor Zidane, who lifted nine trophies in two-and-a-half seasons at Madrid before quitting in June. Lopetegui’s only spell in charge of a top European club was a trophy-less tenure with FC Porto lasting 18 months.

His already unstable reputation could be further tarnished if Madrid fail to get off to a flying start against Getafe, especially as they face stiff competition in the title race from Atletico and Barca, who have had far busier transfer windows.

“We have to get the most out of the team and start to lift ourselves up now and start thinking about a league season which we are very excited about,” Lopetegui said after the Super Cup defeat by Atletico on Wednesday.

“We want to strengthen ourselves in this competition. I don’t think we have any less hunger, I see a lot of excitement in the players.”

Barca, who have won seven of the last 10 Liga titles, host Alaves on Saturday after winning the Spanish Super Cup by beating Sevilla 2-1 and having bolstered their side by signing defender Clement Lenglet and Brazilian midfielders Malcom and Arthur Melo.

Atletico, who finished above Real last season in second spot, begin their campaign on Monday away to Valencia, who finished fourth last season to return to the Champions League.

Forward Angel Correa said the Super Cup win over Real would give Atletico an extra spring in their step for the campaign.

“This will give us a lot of confidence for everything that’s to come and that’s very important for us and we expect to have a good season,” he said.
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General view of the stadium

Tottenham Hotspur’s delayed move into their new stadium has been disappointing for supporters but the players can ease the frustration by improving on a winning start in the Premier League, manager Mauricio Pochettino said on Thursday.

The north London club were initially scheduled to play their first game at the new 62,000-capacity White Hart Lane venue on Sept. 15 against Liverpool but safety issues meant they switched the game along with the next home fixture to Wembley Stadium.

“I understand that everyone is disappointed but our job is to try to help, to be positive, to adapt ourselves,” Pochettino told reporters ahead of Saturday’s league visit of Fulham to England’s national stadium.

“We are going to play a few games more – Liverpool and Cardiff (City) – hope they can finish all the work in that moment and then start to play in our new home.

“If that is not possible we will give our best to try and win games, be positive. I think we need to be all together. My message last week was that we need to be together, that our fans understand.”

Spurs, who finished third last season, kicked off their new campaign with a 2-1 away victory over Newcastle United last weekend.

When asked whether it will difficult for his squad to feel settled due to uncertainty over the stadium, Pochettino said: “I am not going to put up an excuse. The most important is to take responsibility and we are responsible about our performance.”

Tottenham played all their home matches at Wembley last season and lost just twice in the league, against Chelsea and Manchester City.

“In football, more than other business, football is about faith, belief and we must be positive whether we play in one or other place,” he added.

Spurs confirmed Erik Lamela, Josh Onomah and Harry Winks are back in training ahead of the clash against Fulham, who lost their opening game against Crystal Palace.
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A teacher, Funmilayo Salami, who allegedly poured hot water on her neighbour Maria Gilbert following an argument, was on Thursday brought before an Ogba Chief Magistrates’ Court in Lagos.

Salami, 41, of No. 6, Jinudu Street, Agege, was arraigned by the police on a one-count charge of assault before Mr W.A. Salami.

Prosecuting Inspector Abiola Adewale said the incident occurred at about 6:30pm on July 27, following an argument.

He said Salami and Gilbert had “a little misunderstanding”, but Salami allegedly grabbed a kettle filled with hot water and poured it on her neighbour.

“The complainant is still receiving treatment at a hospital,” the prosecutor added.

According to him, the offence contravened Section 173 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015 (Revised).

The defendant pleaded not guilty.

Chief Magistrate Salami granted her N100, 000 bail with one surety in the like sum.

The case continues on August 24.
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The Speaker, House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara on Thursday felicitated with former Military President General Ibrahim Babangida as he clocks 77.

Dogara, in a congratulatory message by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Mr Turaki Hassan, in Abuja, described Babangida as a bridge-builder, committed patriot and charismatic statesman.

According to Dogara, the elder statesman is a courageous, visionary and exemplary leader who continues to guide, mentor and inspire new generation of leaders through advice on national issues.

“You are truly a great asset to Nigeria and a source of inspiration to many new generations of leaders as well as upcoming ones.

“This is owing to your distinguished military and democratic credentials, steadfastness and show of uncommon statesmanship.

“As a former Nigerian leader and elder statesman, you have consistently availed yourself to the younger generation of leaders to tap from your wealth of experience,“ he said.

He noted that younger generation of leaders had been seeking for Babandiga’s wise counsel and advice in times of need.

“You are indeed a great leader with vast network and influence and a promoter of ideals of democracy as well as a rallying point for genuine democrats.”

The speaker prayed God to grant the elder statesman good health.

“As you celebrate this milestone, I join other well-meaning Nigerians to pray God Almighty to continue to preserve you for us, bless you and grant you good health for the service of the country and humanity,’’ he said.