The Lakers have withstood various injuries to key personnel this season as they’ve raced out to the top of the Western Conference

Many of his teammates were busy celebrating a crucial Week 13 victory over the Oakland Raiders that in effect locked up a fourth straight AFC West championship for the Kansas City Chiefs, but safety Tyrann Mathieu was in his corner of the locker room looking ahead.

Sounding more like a coach than a player, Mathieu sized up an even bigger game and a meatier opponent in the Chiefs’ Week 14 matchup with the New England Patriots.

You almost expected a puff of smoke. Benítez has gone… and now here in his place, as if by magic, an illusion, is Zinedine Zidane. There were no questions and no contrition: just excitement, all of which masked a certain desperation. Real Madrid had turned to Zidane, the most elegant man they had ever had, a player who stood apart from his peers, because they had to. There was no shield better and no questions, either. Instead, just a presentation, the Frenchman standing there with his wife and sons, along with club president, Florentino Pérez, everyone smiling broadly.

The next day, someone asked why they had sacked Benítez. “Now’s not the time to talk about that,” said Emilio Butragueno, the director of institutional relations, taking the place of Pérez in front of the media. It never would be; Zidane was the trump card played to eclipse all else. At least for now. The surprise to all of them — to Madrid especially — was that it would be forever.

Tom Brady is officially on the 2020 NFL free-agent market. The New England Patriots were upset by the Tennessee Titans in the wild-card round of the playoffs, which means the 42-year-old quarterback’s contract is up, and for the first time in his career he can choose his next team.

There has been mystery around the future of Brady, who had a down 2019 by his standards, for the past few months, with sources telling ESPN’s Adam Schefter in October that all options are on the table, including returning custom football uniforms to New England, moving on to another organization or retiring. After Saturday’s loss, Brady said it was “pretty unlikely” that he would retire this offseason, and coach Bill Belichick said now isn’t the time to address Brady’s future.

It is true, halfway through the season, that Madrid trail Barcelona in the league again. But, while this may proven wrong, a feeling rooted in something other than reason, it feels different now. They only trail on goal difference (two goals), for a start. Madrid were the better team in the 0-0 clásico back in December, too. Take their respective trajectories and it feels like they are heading in opposite directions. Madrid, getting better. Barcelona, who knows? Madrid have flaws — not enough goals, to begin with, with Cristiano Ronaldo’s shadow a long one – but they have variety, a defensive strength they lacked, a seriousness. They have not reached this stage of the season having conceded as few goals as this for 30 years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *