Tuesday's Der Klassiker between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich looks set to play a decisive role in where the Bundesliga title ends up, and the game itself could conceivably be decided by the two teams' options on the flanks.

There is something deeply satisfying and exhilarating about an effective, attack-minded wing partnership, and there have been many such combinations down the years that fit the bill.

Lionel Messi and Dani Alves, Luis Figo and Roberto Carlos, Philipp Lahm and Arjen Robben, Djalma Santos and Garrincha – the list goes on.

While there are also many effective flank pairings in modern football, when considering which are the most effective from an attacking sense, it is difficult to look past those served up by Germany's big two.

Although Jadon Sancho has only been fit enough to make a couple of substitute appearances since the Bundesliga resumed, there is every chance he will be back in the starting XI on Tuesday, with Achraf Hakimi, Alphonso Davies and Serge Gnabry all likely to feature as well.

All four are enjoying fine seasons – below, we examine just how effective the quartet have been.

Hakimi v Davies

Given they'll both be operating on the same side of the pitch, Hakimi and Davies will likely spend a significant amount of time in close proximity or running at the other, hoping to punish any defensive lapses. Even watching it could be exhausting, given how quick they are.

Both are more renowned for their attacking tendencies than defensive nous, which is certainly understandable with respect to Davies, who is effectively in his first season as a full-back. A straight comparison highlights plenty of common strengths when they are unshackled.

Davies' remarkable pace has attracted attention at times this term, and with good reason – his top speed of 35.3km/h is second only to Kingsley Coman (35.7km/h) in the Bayern side, though Hakimi clocks in as the quickest player since these records began in the Bundesliga, having got up to 36.5km/h.

Bayern youngster Davies shades it in terms of ball carries (running with possession for at least five metres), however. He embarks on 19.9 per game, 0.4 more than Hakimi, while Davies holds on to the ball for 12.4m on average – the Dortmund right-back keeps it for 11.5m.

Davies has also attempted more take-ons (118 to 113), has a better dribble success rate (58 per cent to 56 per cent) and runs an average of 11.2km per 90 minutes, 600m more than Hakimi.

Nevertheless, Hakimi's 146 carries for more than 10m is a Bundesliga-high, and while Davies negligibly edges him out in many of the aforementioned metrics, the Moroccan's 14 Bundesliga goal involvements is more than double that of the young Canadian.

Either way, it is clear to see both full-backs play a significant role in driving their respective teams up the pitch - Davies might be in for a more robust test of his defensive capabilities in this contest, however.

Sancho v Gnabry

It's worth pointing out neither player is exactly guaranteed to start – fitness issues have meant Sancho only made substitute appearances in Dortmund's past two matches, while Gnabry was on the bench at the weekend.

However, given their respective records this term, if they are in top condition, there is little doubt both will start. It is the biggest match of the season, after all.

Sancho and Gnabry have enjoyed immensely productive campaigns. The Bayern winger has had a hand in 20 Bundesliga goals, while the England international hit 30 with his 16th assist of the season at the weekend when setting up Hakimi.

Sancho is way out in front in terms of take-ons, having attempted a league-high of 131 this term, completing 47 per cent. Gnabry has looked to beat his man 92 times, succeeding 48 per cent of the time.

But there are fundamental differences between their respective styles of play when in possession.

Gnabry is more likely than his counterpart to end a carry with a shot, doing so 29 times in 2019-20, behind only Timo Werner (36). Similarly, 22 of his successful dribbles have come inside the penalty area – a joint-high for the division with Robert Lewandowski and Marcus Thuram.

By comparison, Sancho has only completed eight dribbles in the box and just 14 of his carries ended with a shot. However, eight of them have led to an assist, which is a Bundesliga record in 2019-20 and seven more than Gnabry.

This suggests, to a certain degree, that Gnabry lacks some of the awareness of Sancho, or at the very least possesses more of a single-minded approach.

The data also highlights Sancho's slightly deeper role, which is backed up by the fact he tends to run further (11.2km per match to 10.7km), sprint more (35.5 per match to 34.1) and has reached a higher top speed (34km/h, to 33.2km/h) than Gnabry.

While Sancho arguably comes out on top generally, there's no doubting both are exceptional talents and if they get anywhere close to their best on Tuesday, either he or Gnabry could light up the Klassiker by themselves.

A key contest in the Bundesliga title race takes place later on Tuesday when Borussia Dortmund host champions and leaders Bayern Munich.

Bayern are four points clear at the top of the table with seven matches left to play, making this a must-win encounter for Dortmund.

BVB have seen their fortunes boosted since the January arrival of in-demand striker Erling Haaland from Salzburg.

Bayern have a formidable frontman of their own, though, in the shape of former Dortmund star Robert Lewandowski.

Ahead of a huge Klassiker contest, we have used Opta data to review the numbers behind the two strikers' prolific 2019-20 campaigns so far.


GOALSCORING STATS

Lewandowski just edges Haaland when it comes to goals scored in league matches this season, with 27 to his name compared to 26 for the Dortmund star, whose figures include his time with both Salzburg and BVB.

However, the Poland international has spent 546 minutes longer on the pitch then Haaland, who has scored a goal, astonishingly, for every 64.5 minutes he has spent on the pitch.

Lewandowski's mark is 17.8 minutes longer than Haaland, but he still averages more than a goal a game with his minutes-per-goal rate also impressive at 82.3, his goals having come in just 25 appearances.

While it is worth bearing in mind Haaland was playing against weaker opposition in Austria, he has only needed 2.8 shots per goal, compared to 4.2 for Lewandowski.

The Bayern star is more of a presence in the opposition penalty area though, with 22 per cent of his touches there, compared to 18 per cent for his rival.

Both players are scoring more than their expected goals rate, with Haaland's 10 Bundesliga strikes defying an expected rate of 6.0, while Lewandowski's 27 are favourable to his expected tally of 25.1.

When it comes to creativity, it is another mixed picture, as Lewandowski has laid on 27 chances for his team-mates, compared to 21 for Haaland.

However, Haaland has 6 league assists to his name, twice as many as Lewandowski, who has 3.


KEY OPTA FACTS

Haaland

- The Dortmund striker became the youngest player to reach the milestone of scoring 15 goals in the Austrian Bundesliga. He was 19 years, three months and 20 days old at that moment.

- Haaland did not need long to get comfortable in the BVB jersey. He scored in all three competitions in his debut appearance: a hat-trick in the German Bundesliga against Augsburg, a goal in the DFB-Pokal loss to Werder Bremen, and two goals in the Champions League against Paris Saint-Germain.

Lewandowski

- The in-form Bayern star got his 27th goal of the season on the 27th matchday of the league season, which represents his personal best. The overall Bundesliga record is held by Gerd Muller, who had 34 goals by the 27th match round of the 1971-72 season.

- Lewandowski has scored 12 goals in his last six Bundesliga matches against Dortmund. He has netted a total of 16 league goals against his former side – only Klaus Allofs has more (18).

Boston Celtics executive director of performance Phil Coles believes there is a "significant place" for artificial intelligence and data in the NBA.

The use of machine learning and AI has helped revolutionise sport and basketball in recent years, as professional teams look for any advantage they can get.

Analytics goes way beyond recording basic stats such as points, rebounds and assists, the new metrics and data are able to more accurately quantify and predict player and team performance.

Asked about AI and data in the world of basketball, Coles told Stats Perform News: "I think there's a significant place for it. But with everything, it's about using that data well.

"There's two aspects to how well data is used. Firstly, how good is the data you collect, what's the validity and the reliability of that data? Secondly, what is the practical outcome or the improvement you can gain from that? There's no magic bullet or right answer as to how to do that. We're always looking at anything that might help us.

"Certainly, in the performance world, collecting physical data is a huge component of that. But, it's not necessarily we're looking to find a magic bullet. It's trying to have as much information as we could possibly have and try to use it as appropriately as we can in our situation."

The Orlando Magic became the first NBA team to use AI player tracking data when they signed a deal with Stats Perform in 2019.

Orlando use tracking data produced by AutoSTATS to analyse collegiate players and improve evaluation and decisions for the NBA Draft. The first-of-its-kind technology in sports, AutoSTATS delivers comprehensive player-tracking data directly from video through patented AI and computer vision technology.

The 2020 NBA Draft is scheduled to be take place on June 25, though that could change amid the coronavirus pandemic.

How will Coles – who heads the performance team – and the Celtics approach the draft?

"Our performance team is involved in the sense of giving as much of a full physical profile to the decision-makers as we can," the Australian said. "Obviously, [general manager and president of basketball operations] Danny Ainge leads that field and the basketball analysts are involved, a number of coaches, scouts and all of the front office.

"Our role in that is to give them as much information as we can on the physical qualities of each player, the injury histories of each player. Predicting the future in those things can be fraught with danger, but that's where having as much data as possible is useful and being able to interpret that data wisely is useful.

"Ultimately, we are one small component of a really large process. Our component is to try to define as much as we can the physical qualities of the players they're looking at."

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) hit out at the NRL's plan to reintroduce crowds in July, labelling the idea "absurd" and "dangerous" amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2020 NRL season will resume on Thursday and Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chairman Peter V'landys is hoping capped crowds can return to the league as soon as July.

As the NRL eyes fans returning to stadiums after the campaign was suspended in March due to the COVID-19 crisis, Melbourne Storm chairman Matt Tripp also revealed the club are planning for a restricted number of supporters to watch games at AAMI Park in Melbourne.

But the AMA took aim at the NRL, president Tony Bartone saying in a statement: "Put bluntly, this absurd and dangerous idea belongs in the sin bin.

"The NRL should be satisfied that it has its competition back in action, but it is unfair and unwise to put the health of the game's fans at risk. They must first monitor the health and safety of the players and officials who will be involved in the thick of the on-field action.

"Australians have done exceptionally well in flattening the COVID-19 curve, and we are not too far away from relaxing more restrictions.

"Now is not the time for sporting codes to be considering having crowds at games. They must wait until the medical experts advise that it is absolutely safe to do so – and that will not be as early as July.

"The AFL and other sporting codes are adopting the right approach, which is to wait for the expert medical advice before allowing crowds back to watch games.

"We have to be consistent in our public health messaging. Decisions on the safety of holding mass gatherings should be made by medical experts in consultation with the National Cabinet, not by rugby league administrators.

"Of course, we all want to see sport return with fans in the stands barracking for their teams. We also want to see theatre, dance, live music, cinemas, and other entertainments open to the public.

"But the public health must come first. Getting beyond the COVID-19 pandemic is bigger than rugby league - it is about the safety of all Australians."

Real Madrid midfielder Federico Valverde is eyeing LaLiga glory following the coronavirus outbreak.

LaLiga has been suspended since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, though the league is hoping to resume in June.

Madrid were two points behind defending champions and bitter rivals Barcelona through 27 matches at the time of postponement.

Coronavirus has wreaked havoc in Spain and across the globe, and Madrid star Valverde told Real Madrid TV: "We must keep on training hard for the rest of the season and hopefully we will win the league.

"I'm looking forward to representing this jersey again and showing why we're here and fighting for the goal of being champions.

"We have to be professional, eat and take good care of ourselves and train together. This is something we can do together, not only the team but the whole country, supporting us and going forward with a lot of strength. We have to train hard and support each other so that we are all ready when the games return."

Madrid had also lost 2-1 to Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu in the opening leg of their Champions League last-16 tie before the season came to a halt.

The Champions League could return in August and Uruguayan Valverde added: "We have the desire, the will and the excitement to go back to that game and fight to turn it around in order to qualify. We can never lack drive at this club to go for everything."

 

The Tampa Bay Rays returned to Tropicana Field, where limited workouts were held amid the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc globally and in the United States, with the start of the MLB season delayed since March.

The Rays last completed voluntary workouts on March 17 before opting to leave their Spring Training base in Port Charlotte, Florida due to the crisis.

But the Rays took part in a voluntary and very light workout on Monday as MLB officials look to get the 2020 campaign underway.

"I think they were excited just to get back to something that they're used to, given that it was unusual circumstances," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "It was good to see smiling faces."

Austin Meadows, Willy Adames, Manuel Margot, Diego Castillo, Yonny Chirinos, Jose Alvarado, Michael Perez, Jose Martinez, Ryan Yarbrough, Brendan McKay and Nick Anderson were among the players in attendance on Monday.

Before entering the stadium, players and coaches were asked questions about their movement during the pandemic, while temperatures were also checked.

While the clubhouse, batting cages and gym were off limits, players were able to play catch, run on the field and lift some free weights that were relocated outdoors.

"I think this was a really good start for a first day and a first week," Cash said. "I know [general manager Erik Neander] has been adamant about taking it slow and precautionary. We all agree with that -- maybe take the baby steps and see where we are after the three of these [workouts]."

Rays All-Star Meadows added: "I think today was a step in the right direction, just being able to show up to the field. We want to have something routine-based.

"It's almost June and not being on a routine -- being able to go to the Trop today definitely felt like things were starting to move in the right direction and hopefully we can come up with something soon."

Meanwhile, fellow American League franchise the Houston Astros also opened their facilities for individual workouts at Minute Maid Park on Monday.

"I would never want to speak for the players, but the sentiment from everybody is we all want to be back there safely and find a way to get going," Astros general manager James Click said. "It's a big week."

Henry Cejudo expressed his gratitude to "Uncle" Dana White and confirmed "Triple C is out" after officially vacating his UFC bantamweight title.

Cejudo announced his shock retirement after retaining his title with a defeat of Dominick Cruz at UFC 249 on May 9.

Ali Abdelaziz, Cejudo's manager, later stated that he did not believe the 33-year-old had really quit.

Yet Cejudo is no longer listed as the bantamweight champion and on Monday reiterated he is walking away from the sport, giving special thanks to UFC boss White.

He tweeted: "Thank you for the awesome experiences uncle @danawhite

"I will forever be grateful. Thank you for taking a chance on the sport that people thought would never make it.

"To all my coaches and fans it been a wonderful ride. Triple C is out "

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has written to the French prime minister and sports minister calling for the "hasty decision" to cancel the Ligue 1 season to be reversed.

The campaign was brought to a premature end last month after prime minister Edouard Philippe announced that no sporting events would be permitted until September due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Lyon missed out of a Europa League place when the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) confirmed the final standings had been calculated on a points-per-game basis.

Aulas has refused to accept the decision to wrap up the campaign, though, saying play-offs could be arranged in August while questioning the integrity of the LFP executive committee and warning of an "economic disaster" in the French game.

With the Bundesliga season back up and running, while Spanish, Italian and English clubs prepare for a potential return, Aulas wants an about-turn in France.

Lyon on Monday published an open letter from their president sent to the government eight days before they are expected to announce the easing lockdown of restrictions in the country.

It was sent "so that June 2 [when measures could be eased in France] becomes synonymous with hope for all of French football."

After reiterating why he felt more time should have been taken before deciding whether the campaign could be ended, Aulas stated that he believes the action can get going again in July.

He concluded: "Can we also conceive as well that June 2 is a great opportunity to rectify the error concerning French football and allow, with the health protocols being used everywhere, to set a starting point for a gradual resumption of training [in June].

"And, why not, a resumption of the 2019-2020 league seasons in the months of July or August as UEFA specifically suggested on April 21 and as has since been confirmed by Aleksander Ceferin [UEFA president] on May 14?"

Petra Kvitova is not in favour of playing at a grand slam behind closed doors, claiming she would rather see the events cancelled than be held without fans.

The WTA and ATP Tour have been heavily disrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic, with many tournaments postponed – the French Open having been pushed back to September – and others, including Wimbledon, cancelled altogether.

Kvitova is returning to the court in a tournament in her native Czech Republic this week, which will be played without fans in attendance.

However, the possibility of featuring in a grand slam behind closed doors does not appeal to the two-time Wimbledon champion.

"I have my age and of course I would like to play another grand slam, but if it's like this, I'd rather cancel them," Kvitova, 30, said at a news conference.

"Playing a grand slam is the greatest thing there is and playing without fans who are our engine doesn't look nice to me and the grand slam doesn't deserve it."

The event Kvitova is taking part in this week features eight men and eight women, who will not shake hands before or after their matches, while ball boys will not be allowed to hand towels to the players.

"We are here to reintroduce tennis not only to the Czech Republic, but also to the world," Kvitova added.

"The hardest thing will be to find the rhythm, we haven't played a match for a very long time.

"I hope nobody expects us to play fantastic tennis, because it may happen or it may not."

The world number 12 opens her tournament against doubles specialist Barbora Krejcikova on Tuesday.

Novak Djokovic kept it quiet that he was able to train almost every day during lockdown as the world number one did not want to "infuriate other players".

Djokovic is back in Serbia after spending two months in Marbella, as the coronavirus pandemic prevented him from returning to his homeland.

The 17-time grand slam champion, who is set to host and play in the new Adria Tour next month, did not want to make it public that he had been able to stay more active than most of his rivals during his time in Spain.

He said at a press conference in Belgrade on Monday: "Unlike many other players, I was able to train almost every day because we resided in a house with a tennis court.

"I refrained from posting clips on social networks because I didn't want to infuriate other players. I am fit and in good shape, so I am looking forward to the Adria Tour, which I am organising."

Djokovic, who turned 33 last Friday, revealed that Alexander Zverev is the latest player who has committed to playing on the Adria Tour.

The world number seven has agreed to play in the June 13-14 event in Belgrade and could be on court in Zadar, Croatia a week later.

Djokovic added that matches in Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina have not yet been 100 per cent confirmed.

The events have been arranged to raise money for "humanitarian projects across the region" as well as helping tennis players get back in shape during the ATP Tour suspension.

Dominic Thiem and Grigor Dimitrov are among the other players who will feature.

Manny Pacquiao has suggested Floyd Mayweather Jr is jealous of his prolonged career after the American labelled the veteran welterweight an "old man".

Mayweather was critical of younger fighters "chasing" a bout with 41-year-old Pacquiao, who won his most recent fight against the previously-undefeated Keith Thurman to claim the WBA super welterweight title last July.

However, Pacquiao has little regard for Mayweather's comments, claiming the 43-year-old, who last fought in 2017 against UFC star Conor McGregor, wishes he was still fighting.

"He is just envious because he's already retired. We're still active and have a crown," Pacquiao told The Manila Times.

"I'm not thinking about that yet. I'm concerned first and foremost about our countrymen. No retirement [plans] yet. I'm still training, God is good."

With the majority of sporting events currently on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, Pacquiao – who is also a senator in the Philippines government – is focused on helping his country's people during the crisis. 

"I'm concerned first and foremost about our countrymen and about how to resolve this [coronavirus] pandemic," he added.

Martin O'Neill has praised Leicester City's progress under Brendan Rodgers and feels the club's famous Premier League title win is still helping them.

Leicester are on course to reach the Champions League, with the Foxes sitting third in the Premier League table prior to the coronavirus halting top-flight action.

A remarkable season has seen them equal the Premier League's record for the biggest ever win with the 9-0 triumph at Southampton, as they sit above the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal in the standings.

The impressive campaign in Rodgers' first full season since joining from Celtic comes after Leicester finished ninth last season, with O'Neill - who managed them between 1995 and 2000, winning two EFL Cups - impressed by what he has seen.

He thinks Leicester's unbelievable 2016 league success catapulted the club to a new level of stardom, helping to set foundations that make the current team more likely to remain a leading force.

"Do I think that Leicester can make the Champions League? Oh, very much so," O'Neill said to Stats Perform News.

"They are in a terrific position. They have played very, very well, they have played a nice brand of football as well. So, good credit to the manager, Brendan, he's done very well there.

"Their season when they won the league was absolutely and utterly incredible. I suppose it takes the shine away from our particular years there, finishing in the top 10 for about four consecutive seasons and winning a couple of EFL Cups.

"But overall, Leicester City are a very fine footballing team. They are competing.

"They are competing financially in the market as well. They are pretty astute, they got a lot of money from Manchester United for the centre-back [Harry Maguire] and then used it accordingly.

"Of course, winning the league a couple of seasons ago has escalated into some sort of stardom anyway, if not super-stardom.

"They are a team to be reckoned with, no question about that."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic suffered a potentially major injury in training with Milan on Monday.

The former Sweden striker hurt the lower area of his calf during a training match, Stats Perform News understands.

Reports in the Italian media suggest a scan could reveal it to be a serious problem to his Achilles.

Ibrahimovic, 38, joined Milan as a free agent in December, agreeing a contract until the end of the season.

He scored three goals in eight Serie A appearances before the coronavirus pandemic caused the league to be suspended in March.

His second stint at Milan has looked likely to be Ibrahimovic's final crack at the big time after a stellar career.

Bologna boss Sinisa Mihajlovic recently said that, after speaking to Ibrahimovic, he expected him to leave Milan at the end of the season.

After starting his career at Malmo, he moved on for spells with Ajax, Juventus, Inter and Barcelona.

His first spell at Milan began in August 2010 and lasted two years before Paris Saint-Germain called.

Four successful years at PSG were followed by two seasons at Manchester United. After a 20-month spell at LA Galaxy, Ibrahimovic returned to San Siro.

NBA icon Patrick Ewing has been discharged from hospital and is recovering well after contracting coronavirus.

The 11-time All-Star revealed on Friday that he had tested positive for COVID-19 and was isolating in hospital.

Ewing's son, Patrick Ewing Jr, gave a positive update on the Georgetown coach and New York Knicks great's condition on Monday.

He tweeted: "I want to thank all the doctors and hospital staff for taking care of my father during his stay, as well as everyone who has reached out with thoughts and prayers to us since his diagnosis.

"My father is now home and getting much better. We'll continue to watch his symptoms and follow the CDC guidelines.

"I hope everyone continues to stay safe and protect yourselves and your loved ones."

Ewing won a national championship with Georgetown in 1984 and won gold medals with Team USA at the 1984 and 1992 Olympics.

The former Seattle SuperSonics and Orlando Magic center was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.

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