The Sport Matrix: Wednesday 22 October 2014


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Liverpool braced for Real challenge

Liverpool host Real Madrid in their much-anticipated Champions League encounter at Anfield tonight, with Carlo Ancelotti’s side playing a brand of football similar to that of Barcelona under the guidance of Pep Guardiola. Despite being without the injured Gareth Bale, Real will unleash Cristiano Ronaldo, who is in stunning form, having scored 15 league goals in seven games.

McIlroy’s Masters preparation at risk

Rory McIlroy faces an ongoing dispute with his former management company, Horizon Sports Management, over fees. There will be a trial in February in the Commercial Court in Dublin, which is an off-field distraction likely to hamper the 25-year-old Northern Irishman’s preparations for the Masters in April. Victory in that tournament would complete his career grand slam.

Fernandes ‘sorry’ for public feud

The QPR owner, Tony Fernandes, apologised to the club’s fans for the “embarrassment” caused by the public spat between Harry Redknapp and Adel Taarabt. Redknapp criticised the Moroccan for being “three stone overweight”, while Taarabt condemned Redknapp’s coaching methods. “I would like to apologise to the QPR supporters for the embarrassment this has caused,” Fernandes said.

Van Gaal: I will not sacrifice flair to win

Louis van Gaal insists he will not compromise his emphasis on style despite a warning from West Brom manager Alan Irvine that Manchester United’s defensive vulnerability was all too easy to exploit in the 2-2 draw at The Hawthorns on Monday.

United dominated possession but salvaged a point only through Daley Blind’s equaliser with three minutes left after Albion had twice gone ahead with goals from Stéphane Sessègnon and Saido Berahino which, according to Irvine, were “two great examples of how you take advantage of a team that is so spread out”.

Irvine said he prepared for the game with United’s weaknesses at the heart of his thinking.

“When you play as openly and expansively as they do then clearly you are open when you lose possession,” he said.

Asked what to expect from Chelsea and Manchester City – United’s next Premier League opponents – if West Bromwich could pick them off so easily, Van Gaal (above) replied: “With great respect to West Bromwich Albion, it is a different situation, adding: “I don’t think to sacrifice flair is the solution. It is about cutting out the errors.”

Gatland omits Jones and Hook

Wales coach Warren Gatland has omitted Adam Jones and James Hook from the squad for the November internationals. It seems to reduce their chances of being involved in the World Cup, but Gatland said: “The door is not closed on Adam or James Hook moving forward.”