19-11-2018, Saat: 04:50
MONACO, Monaco - For Monaco, life without Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez has proved less difficult than expected. At least in the Champions League.Leonardo Jardims team has been struggling with consistency in the French league but lost only once on Europes biggest stage so far this season. Despite a poor offensive record, it only needs a draw at home against Zenit on Tuesday to qualify for the knockout phase.Monaco can even top Group C depending on Bayer Leverkusens result at last-placed Benfica.Here are some things to know ahead of Tuesdays matches:___BERBATOV HITTING FORMMonaco could qualify with a goalless draw and by doing so become the first team to have ever progressed from the group stage with only two goals scored — the side current tally.Monaco has been struggling for goals since the departures of Falcao and Rodriguez, but the good news for Jardim is that Dimitar Berbatov has finally returned to form.The former Manchester United striker has looked rejuvenated over the past week, finding the net three times, including a brace in a 2-0 win over Toulouse on Friday as Monaco posted consecutive wins only for the second time this season.___RACISM ALLEGATIONSZenits 4-0 thrashing of FC Krasnodar on Saturday sent the St. Petersburg side into the Russian leagues three-month winter break with a seven-point lead. It also restored confidence after some mixed recent form at home and in Europe, including three defeats in the preceding five games in all competitions. But theres a racism row brewing after striker Hulk accused Russian referee Alexei Matyunin of telling him that he did not like black people.That referee was previously found to have racially abused a player from Russias North Caucasus in 2011, but cleared on appeal. Zenit coach Andre Villas-Boas has said he believes Hulk and the Russian Football Union has yet to decide whether it will investigate.Zenits Alexander Kerzhakov and Javi Garcia are injured and have not flown out with the team to Monaco.___LEVERKUSENS POOR EFFICIENCYBayer Leverkusen is through but still hoping for first place in the group, although captain and midfielder Lars Bender is not travelling to Lisbon because of an abdominal muscle injury. Bender aggravated the injury in the 1-0 loss on Saturday at Bayern Munich.Director Rudi Voeller said Leverkusens goal in Lisbon is clear: We want to win the group.Leverkusen looked good against Bayern in the first half, but was outplayed in the second and was lucky to escape having conceded a solitary goal. Still, it is one of the few teams in the Bundesliga that has troubled Bayern. Had Karim Bellarabi converted his chance early in the match, the outcome might have been different.___BENFICAS WOEAlready out of the tournament, Benfica is trying to avoid another unhappy milestone. If the Lisbon club doesnt beat Bayer, it will have recorded its worst-ever group campaign.Benfica also went out at the group stage in the past two seasons, when it dropped into the Europa League.The second-tier competition also brought disappointment, though: Benfica reached the final in the last two seasons, but lost both times.___HOW THEY ADVANCELeverkusen will be guaranteed first place with a win at Benfica, or if it draws and Monaco fails to win.Monaco will progress with a draw, which will be enough to top the group if Bayer loses. Monaco will also finish first if it wins and Leverkusen fails to grab three points in Portugal.Zenit will qualify with a win and can seal the groups first place if Leverkusen loses. Benfica is condemned to fourth place whatever its result.___Nesha Stracevic in Frankfurt, Barry Hatton in Lisbon and James Ellingworth in Moscow contributed to this report. 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After losing a shutout bid in the dying seconds of Sundays win over the Colorado Avalanche, Luongo would not be denied against the punchless Oilers and is now just one back of Patrick Roy for 14th on the all-time list.Darian Durant found another level in helping lead the Saskatchewan Roughriders to a Grey Cup victory last season. For an encore, hell have to find an even higher level still. Durant was sensational last year, posting career numbers (325-531 for 4,154 passing yards, and a career best 31 touchdowns to just 12 interceptions), and featuring regularly in the MOP Watch. By the increasingly criticized metric that is Quarterback Rating, Durant had the best year of his career last year at 95.7, a full seven points higher than his career mark. But Durant had an awful lot of help on the teams third-ranked offence. First and foremost was league all-star and team nominee for Most Outstanding Player Kory Sheets. In his sophomore CFL campaign Sheets was second in league rushing with 1,598 yards and a gaudy 5.6 yards per carry average and 12 touchdowns. His Grey Cup performance will also be remembered in Saskatchewan – and Hamilton, albeit much less fondly – for years to come. The 29-year-old will be preparing for NFL training camp in Oakland when the Roughriders begin their title defence, and while hes in tough to make the Raiders roster, the best case scenario for Saskatchewan is a return sometime around Labour Day. Another Roughriders mainstay and fan favourite Durant will no longer have at his disposal is slight receiver Weston Dressler. The 57 slotback was a 1,000-yard receiver in five of his six CFL seasons, falling just 59 yards short in his sophomore campaign, and scored a combined 45 touchdowns. Durant and Dresslers time in Saskatchewan had coincided, the two emerging together in 2008. But now the favourite target is in Kansas City with no guarantee of returning. So this year Durant enters the unquestioned leader on offence, and with more unknowns on the roster than previous seasons, hell have to shoulder a greater load. The good news of course is that the cupboard isnt completely bare. While Dresslers sure hands and elusiveness will be missed in the receiving corps, two other pass catchers, ones still on the roster, eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark as well last season in Chris Getzlaf, who led the team with 1,045, and Taj Smith, who hit the mark in just his second season. And if Rob Bagg can stay healthy all year, that will be another receiver for Durant to lean on. The running back position is much more of a toss-up heading into the season. The team has five RBs with a combined two carries CFL experience (Clifton Smith, which he gained with the Calgary Stampeders last season). But the last time they tried to replace a solid veteran running back, Wes Cates in 2012, they found a guy who would one day lead them to a Grey Cup victory at home..dddddddddddd So, theres hope. Things could work out around Durant; he may have a support staff as talented as the one hoisting the Grey Cup alongside him last year. But the inexperience and uncertainty heading into the season alone means hell have to do even more as both a leader and performer to keep the Roughriders in Grey Cup contention. The football crazy fans in Saskatchewan already love their veteran quarterback; if he can elevate his game and bring more success to the province, theyll cherish him even more. Notes Expansion Draft Roughriders fans were surprised to see DT Keith Shologan get picked by the Ottawa Redblacks in the national portion of the expansion draft after the veteran spent the past six seasons in Saskatchewan. Ottawa also grabbed Shologans backup in Zack Evans one round later, it being evident the Roughriders were making a ratio change. OT James Lee was Saskatchewans international loss in the draft. Coach of the YearIn his second season as head coach of the Roughriders, Corey Chamblin had a dream year. He led Saskatchewan to a scorching start to the season before guiding them to a Grey Cup win in front of a boisterous hometown crowd. Chamblin was awarded in the off-season with the leagues Coach of the Year award, beating out former Roughriders coach Kent Austin. Free Agency The Roughriders lost a lot more talent in free agency than they signed back. Notable losses included S Craig Butler, LBs Abraham Kromah and Graig Newman, WR Kierre Johnson, RB Jock Sanders, and QB Drew Willy, not to mention Kory Sheets and Weston Dressler who are now in the NFL. The team did lock up some of their pending free agents however, including DBs Paul Woldu and Terrell Maze, and WR Taj Smith. CFL DraftThe Roughriders traded out of the first round, stock piling picks later in the draft. With their first pick in the second round the team landed CFL Combine star Dylan Ainsworth, a DL from Western, before also grabbing WR Alex Pierzchalski from Toronto. Saskatchewan also had two picks in the third round, nabbing John Mark from Calgary and WR Kristopher Bastien from Concordia. Their remaining picks included DB Matt Webster from Queens and OL Kyle Paterson from Regina in the fifth round, LB Travis Bent from Concordia in the sixth round, and OL Terry Hart from St. Francis Xavier in the seventh round. New Mosaic StadiumRoughriders fans got a glimpse at the teams new stadium late in the off-season and not much longer ground was broken. The $278 million project should be completed by August 2016 and will give the 33,000 fans surely to pack the place on a regular basis a more comfortable viewing experience than the one they are getting now. 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