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Istanbul’ll host Champions League final despite lockdown –UEFA

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The Champions League final will be held in Istanbul on May 29 as planned despite a coronavirus surge in Turkey which has led to the country announcing a third lockdown, UEFA told AFP on Friday.

European football’s governing body insisted that the continent’s showpiece match would stay in the Turkish city following claims from broadcaster RMC, which shows the Champions League in France, and British tabloid the Daily Mail that a venue change was being considered.

UEFA told AFP that it had been assured that the lockdown, which began on Thursday and is set to run until May 17, “should not have any impact on the match”, which will take place at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium with a “limited number of spectators”.

UEFA added that it “will continue to work closely with the Turkish Football Federation and the local and national authorities to stage the match safely”.

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Turkey had seen daily Covid-19 death tolls rise to around 350, higher than during two previous spikes last year.

The nation of 84 million reported 37,312 new infections on Monday, which were the highest in Europe but still down from the peak of nearly 60,000 earlier this month.

Last year’s final was scheduled to be played at the Ataturk Stadium but the pandemic forced UEFA to organise instead a “Final 8” tournament in Lisbon in August.

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I was written off but never gave up – Iheanacho

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Leicester City’s in-form striker, Kelechi Iheanacho, says he never lost faith in himself while going through a rough patch in his career, adding that he was confident that he would return to form.

Iheanacho had his worst ever scoring run of his professional career in 2019, failing to score in over 365 days, with trio Jamie Vardy, Ayoze Perez and James Maddison all ahead of him in the pecking order.

The 24-year-old’s lack of goals at Leicester during this period also saw him lose his place in the Super Eagles, and was left out of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.

However, the former Manchester City striker has returned to form for The Foxes and was named March’s Premier League Player of The Month and is on course for a double award for April.

Speaking with BBC Sport on his resurgence, Iheanacho said, “I think a lot of people wrote me off, but I never lost faith in myself.

“I was going through a crazy and difficult time when things just didn’t work out for me.

“But I’ve worked extremely hard, and also have the manager and other staff at Leicester, and most importantly my brother and friend Wilfred (Ndidi) who stood by me.

“It’s been a really tough ride but I’m just delighted it’s all come together for me.

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He continued, “It was truly a bad patch and we all know that some people are always too quick to judge. To hear some people come out now and start saying positive things again is only normal but I don’t even bother.

“I only have to prove to myself that I can do this consistently, continue to grow, help my club and country when I get the chance to play.

“We have a lot ahead of us. It’s that time of the season where you want to fight for everything in front of you and not get carried away.”

Iheanacho is the Foxes’ top scorer this season with 18 goals from 35 matches across all competitions.

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BREAKING: Man City crowned Premier League champions after United loss

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Manchester City were crowned Premier League champions for the third time in four seasons after Manchester United crashed to a 2-1 defeat against Leicester on Tuesday.

Pep Guardiola’s side are 10 points clear of second-placed United and have wrapped up the title with three games to spare.

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City, top-flight champions for the seventh time, have aready won the League Cup this season and can secure a treble if they beat Chelsea in the Champions League final on May 29.

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Flick agrees German national team deal

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Hansi Flick, who is stepping down as Bayern Munich coach at the end of this season, will take over the German national team after this summer’s Euro, a German newspaper reported on Monday. 

Flick is expected to sign for three years, according to the Abendzeitung, a Munich newspaper, allowing him to lead the national team at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and Euro 2024, which is scheduled to take place in Germany. 

Flick, 56, has long been considered the preferred candidate for the post of national coach by the German Football Association (DFB). 

He was assistant to Joachim Low, who is standing down after 15 years, between 2006 and 2014, when Germany won the world title. 

Flick took over at Bayern in 2019 and has won seven trophies, including two Bundesliga titles and a Champions League. 

Flick feuded with sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic over recruitment and asked for his contract, which was due to run until 2023, to be terminated at the end of the season.  

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The club agreed to the request and has already announced that 33-year-old Julian Nagelsmann, who is at rivals RB Leipzig, will take over.  

Bayern board member Oliver Kahn told Sky television on Saturday, after the Bavarians won their ninth Bundesliga title in a row, that “yes, everything is settled” with the DFB. 

But he added that “no financial compensation” had been agreed with the DFB for the last two years of Flick’s contract. 

As compensation, the two institutions are considering organising an exhibition game between the German national team and Bayern Munich, with the profits from the ticket sales going to the German champions.

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