The Sports Matrix: Thursday 21 July 2011

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Players trafficked to fix games – Fifa

Fifa suspects players from the game’s poorer nations are being “trafficked” in order to facilitate match-fixing. Young players are targeted at junior competitions and helped to earn deals with clubs in Europe and South America by match-fixers. MORE

Bent ‘begged Young to stay with Villa’

Darren Bent admits that he pleaded with Ashley Young not to leave Aston Villa for Manchester United this summer. “I just kept texting Ash ‘one more year’ for weeks and weeks,” he said. “I was in his ear every day, texting him every day.” MORE

Pendleton unfazed by pressure of 2012

Cyclist Victoria Pendleton is refusing to worry about the pressure of defending her title in the Olympics. “You’ve no control over those things,” the 30-year-old tells i. “In a way it’s wasted energy to think of them.” MORE

City want Aguero even if Tevez stays

Manchester City will still try to sign Sergio Aguero from Atletico Madrid despite the collapse of Corinthians’ move for Carlos Tevez. City hope that Aguero would make them less dependant on Tevez, and talks are planned soon with Atletico. MORE

Vettel expecting home comforts

Sebastian Vettel believes home advantage will be a key component for him in this weekend’s German GP. “You’re always more motivated at home,” he said. “This year we’re back at the Nürburgring, which is one of the better and more modern tracks.” MORE

Anelka: Torres is getting better

Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka has backed team-mate Fernando Torres to come good this season. “It was difficult in the beginning for Fernando but I think he looks better this summer, even in training. It’s never easy when you come in from another club.” MORE

Boasson Hagen wins stage for Sky

Sky’s Edvald Boasson Hagen made up for a poor showing on Tuesday with a fine solo performance to win yesterday’s 17th stage. The Norwegian’s victory in Pinerolo, leading a breakaway of 14 riders over the final climb, was his second stage win. MORE

Scudamore opens door to technology

The Premier League could be the first in the world to introduce goal-line technology from the 2012-13 season, according to chief executive Richard Scudamore, who told MPs yesterday the system could be in place in just over a year’s time.

Debussy to set the pacefor Rewilding

Debussy is to be used as a pacemaker for Rewilding in Saturday’s King George VI at Ascot. He also played his part in a victory for his Godolphin stablemate at Royal Ascot last month. “Rewilding needs to get into a rhythm,” manager Simon Crisford said. MORE

Opinion: James Lawton

On the day of the 2,000th Test, the ICC must know there is no substitute for the enduring quality this form of the game has provided through all the days separating WG Grace and the man who lures us today, Sachin Tendulkar. MORE

Strauss targets top spot and beyond

England go into today’s first Test against India hoping not just to secure top spot in the world Test rankings, which they will do by winning the series by at least two tests, but also to be widely considered the world’s leading team. “Our ultimate goal over the long term is not to be the side that is No 1 in the rankings,” said Test captain Andrew Strauss. “It is to be the side that everyone generally agrees is the No 1 side in the world. That’s our long-term goal and nothing changes whether we win or lose this series.” England’s path to the top of the rankings is far from straightforward. They have not won a series against India since 1996, and that was only 1-0. In the five series since, India have won three, including the last two both home and away. In the bowling department, Strauss is expected to prefer Stuart Broad to Tim Bresnan, despite Broad’s recent poor form. “One aspect to his game that I think gives him a little bit of an edge is that he has got a very good bouncer,” said Strauss of Broad. MORE

Dhoni unveils his secrets of success

India captain MS Dhoni has led his side to the top of the ICC ratings and won the World Cup, but he ascribed his successes to “having a good side”; “trying to keep it simple”; and “setting the right expectation level”, given the fans’ enthusiasm in India. MORE

Lancashire bloom in Roses contest

Lancashire batted steadily on the first day of the Roses match with Yorkshire at Headingley yesterday, reaching 304 for 7 at stumps. All but one of Lancashire’s nine batsmen passed 20, while Steven Croft and Tom Smith both hit 50s.