12-12-2018 The 100 best footballers in the world 2017

Our panel of 169 experts from 63 nations compile a list of the greatest male players in 2017. Click on an individual to read more about their year.• Messi edges Ronaldo to No1 | The data behind our 100 | Watch: our top 10• Meet our panel of judges for 2017 | 2016 edition | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 Continue reading...

12-12-2018 Liverpool 1-0 Napoli: Salah scores as Reds reach Champions League knockout stage

Mohamed Salah produces another moment of quality to fire Liverpool into the Champions League knockout phase and eliminate Napoli in the process.

12-12-2018 Talking Horses: BHA defends whip rules after 'thrashed' horses claims

The British Horseracing Authority have vigorously defended its whip rules and denied claims horses are in painThe British Horseracing Authority have vigorously defended their whip rules following the publication of a column in the Times on Wednesday (£) which claims horses are regularly “thrashed” and “in pain”.Matthew Syed’s article comes under the headline ‘Whipping horses is ruining racing – it must be banned’, in which he concludes: “It is in the interests not only of horses but of racing itself to consign the use of the device for the purposes of increasing speed to the scrapheap of history. It is time to ban the whip.” Continue reading...

12-12-2018 Ariarne Titmus breaks records with world short-course swimming gold

Australian teenager wins 200m freestyle in HangzhouSets new Commonwealth, Oceania and national recordTeenager Ariarne Titmus has secured Australia’s first gold medal of the world short-course swimming titles in China with a record-breaking 200m freestyle win. The 18-year-old mowed down American Mallory Comerford and the Netherlands’ Femke Heemskerk in the last 50m to claim victory in 1min 51.38sec – a new Commonwealth, Oceania and national record.Titmus’ stirring effort on the opening night of the six-day event at Hangzhou shattered Emma McKeon’s mark of 1:51.66 set at the 2015 national short course titles. It moved the teenager to fourth on the all-time rankings. Continue reading...

12-12-2018 Football transfer rumours: Real Madrid's Marco Asensio to join Spurs?

Today’s fluff has got plenty of problemsMarcus Rashford is a target for Milan. Paul Pogba is unhappy. And José Mourinho has gone to the absurd lengths of distancing himself from a claim that he’s committed to Manchester United made by his own agent. “It’s not my statement, I didn’t know at all and I didn’t care about it.” Poor Ed Woodward. And there’s Theresa May thinking she’s got problems.But here’s some slightly more upbeat news for the beleaguered giants: Manchester United are hopeful of finally landing that elusive, game-changing central defender in the upcoming window! Step forward Pablo, Bordeaux’s 27-year-old Brazilian international. Not only that, hot Ajax pair Matthijs De Ligt and Frenkie De Jong are on their radar, as is the young Middlesbrough winger Marcus Tavernier. And Juan Mata is eager to sign a new contract. So it’s swings and roundabouts. Continue reading...

12-12-2018 From digging graves & fighting fires to targeting the Paralympics

Firefighter David Melrose's life was charged irrevocably in 2010 when he was paralysed at work. Now the former grave-digger is targeting the Winter Paralympics.

12-12-2018 The Knowledge: heavy FA Cup upsets and long-distance journeymen

Plus: the clubs named after breweries, and the Newcastle fan who invented the windscreen wiper. Mail us or tweet @TheKnowledge_GU“What is the heaviest defeat inflicted on a top-division side by lower-league opposition in the FA Cup?” asks Lindsay Davis. “The best I can discover is Scunthorpe United (2nd Div) 6-2 Blackpool (1st Div) in the 1961 third round.” Related: From signing to scoring: what is football's fastest ever debut goal? | The Knowledge Continue reading...

12-12-2018 Liverpool 1-0 Napoli: Liverpool’s squad strength shows Jurgen Klopp progress

Liverpool's squad strength is the best way to gauge their progress under Jurgen Klopp and it will play a big part in any future success, says Mark Lawrenson.

12-12-2018 Paul Pogba shocked at Manchester United omission for past two games

• José Mourinho has omitted midfielder for two matches• Scott McTominay preferred for 15 minutes against FulhamPaul Pogba has been left shocked at being dropped by José Mourinho, with the Manchester United midfielder left out of the starting XI for the past two games against Arsenal and Fulham.The relationship between player and manager has been rocky since the start of the season. Yet despite Mourinho having terse words for Pogba privately and publicly, the France international did not expect to be left out of the XI. Continue reading...

12-12-2018 Washington show NFL teams would rather lose than sign Colin Kaepernick

Washington were pushing for the playoffs until two of their quarterbacks went down injured. But they have ignored a perfectly solid replacementColin Kaepernick will never play in the NFL again, that much was made clear this week. Washington’s decision to sign the lightweight talents of Mark Sanchez and Josh Johnson over Kaepernick, a week after claiming Reuben Foster – a man arrested twice in the last year for domestic violence – on waivers and announcing to the world that it was prioritizing winning football games above all else, is as shameful as it is predictable.Washington plucked Johnson, who last threw a pass in the NFL in 2011, out of obscurity this week to back up Sanchez after Colt McCoy’s season ended with a broken fibula. McCoy previously replaced Alex Smith, who is out for the season with a broken leg suffered in Week 11. Continue reading...

12-12-2018 Sam Twiston-Davies not Harry Cobden to ride Politologue in King George

• Harry Cobden aboard Clan Des Obeaux on Boxing Day• Quality of Kempton fences discussed by leading trainersSam Twiston-Davies will keep the ride on Politologue when the grey lines up for the King George VI Chase in a fortnight’s time to the surprise of anyone who assumed Harry Cobden would be back aboard.Cobden has been principal jockey to the horse’s trainer, Paul Nicholls, since Twiston-Davies gave up that job to go freelance in May but he will ride the stable’s Clan Des Obeaux, who is much less fancied in the betting. Continue reading...

12-12-2018 ‘Creative’ AlphaZero leads way for chess computers and, maybe, science | Sean Ingle

Former chess world champion Garry Kasparov likes what he sees of computer that could be used to find cures for diseasesGarry Kasparov is not only humanity’s greatest ever chess player but its highest-profile victim of artificial intelligence. His loss to IBM’s super computer Deep Blue in 1997 made global headlines and left him feeling bitter and, well, blue. Yet there is a warm glint in his eye when he talks about AlphaZero, the game-changing chess programme that took just four hours to teach itself to become the strongest in history. Related: Magnus Carlsen beats Caruana in tie-breakers to retain World Chess crown Continue reading...

12-12-2018 Barcelona 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur: Mauricio Pochettino says 'mission impossible' achieved

Tottenham achieved "mission impossible" by qualifying for the last 16 of the Champions League, according to manager Mauricio Pochettino.

12-12-2018 The Spin | Big Bash’s flipping bats recall stories of cunning ploys with tossed coins

When you look closely at the ritual, it begins to seem odd that cricket lets blind luck and ‘dynamical bias’ play such a large partWhen he was 14, Persi Diaconis packed a fresh deck of cards and a spare pair of socks into a knapsack and ran away from home to become a magician’s assistant. He spent the next few years as an apprentice with Dai Vernon, whose sleight of hand was so smart, so sharp, he even beat Harry Houdini, who famously claimed he could pick any magic trick on the third go, until Vernon fooled him seven times in a row.They used to call Vernon “the Professor”, and now they do Diaconis, too. Because that is what he is. The Mary V Sunseri professor of statistics and mathematics, to be exact, at Stanford, where he has been continuing his lifelong study of chance and probability. Continue reading...

12-12-2018 Jurgen Klopp: Liverpool boss on 'unbelievable' win to reach Champions League last 16

Jurgen Klopp says he could "fill his adrenaline in bottles" after an "unbelievable" win over Napoli earned his side place in the Champions League knockout stage.

12-12-2018 Bradford City 4-4 Peterborough: Toney's brilliant half-way line goal in FA Cup replay

Ivan Toney scores a free-kick from the halfway line during Peterborough's thrilling FA Cup second round replay win over Bradford City.