Casper Ruud retained his Geneva Open title with a hard-fought defeat of Joao Sousa on Saturday.

Ruud had to dig deep in the deciding set, breaking Sousa when the Portuguese was serving for the title at 5-4, before going on to win 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 7-6 (7-1).

The world number nine has now won six of his last seven ATP 250 events on clay, and is the first player since Stan Wawrinka (2016 and 2017) to win more than one Geneva Open title.

Ruud served five aces in the first set on his way to edging a tie-break, but a determined Sousa was able to level in a second set in which he won eight of 11 second-service points.

It looked like Sousa would cause an upset against the tournament's second seed when serving for the match, only for Ruud to break back and use that momentum to take the win.

The Norwegian made the semi-finals at the Internazionali d'Italia last week and maintained his momentum ahead of the French Open by lifting the trophy in Switzerland.

"It was one of the craziest matches that I have ever played," he said in his on-court interview. "It was a lot of up and down. Sousa was close to winning and then suddenly everything turns around and this is tennis.

"This win feels so good, but you have to give a lot of credit to Joao because he fought back from one set down and has been playing well all week.

"It was just a matter of one or two points today and luckily they went in my favour."

At the Lyon Open, it was Cameron Norrie who emerged triumphant as the Brit beat Alex Molcan 6-3 6-7 (3-7) 6-1.

Norrie – who was beaten by Stefanos Tsitsipas in last year's final – was largely on top throughout, firing down six aces and boasting an impressive success rate of 72 per cent of first serve points won, while also saving five of seven break points against his Slovakian opponent.

The top seed could have won in straight sets, but was unable to convert two match points in the second before being forced to a decider by Molcan.

It is Norrie's second ATP title of the season and the fourth of his career. It is his first on clay as he prepares for the second grand slam of the year at Roland Garros.

"It is my first title on the clay so it means a lot to me," Norrie said. "I can't be happier with how I handled everything this week. This one feels the best so far. I don't know why, it is just so special and I couldn't be happier and am really speechless right now. It was an incredible atmosphere. Thanks to everyone for coming out.

"I had chances to close the matches in straight sets this week and get it done easier than usual and it didn't go that way and I was able to let that go and respond. In the third set I moved really well and it is nice to get over the line."

Jose Mourinho declared the Europa Conference League as Roma's Champions League ahead of the final against Feyenoord, while he cannot visualise retiring.

Roma face Eredivisie side Feyenoord in the inaugural Europa Conference League showpiece in Tirana on Wednesday..

The Eternal City giants are already guaranteed to play Europa League football next season, having secured a top-six finish in Serie A with one game to play.

Mourinho has Champions League titles to his name from his time at Porto and Inter, alongside a Europa League crown with Manchester United.

The Portuguese coach is determined to get on his hands on another European trophy. 

"I am a coach with a certain history and Roma are a big club," he told UEFA's Italian website. "I did feel a little bit of responsibility to make this a big competition.

"We slowly realised our ambition to go as far as possible. With pride, we saw the semi-finals played in packed stadiums with a total 170,000 fans present.

"The Conference League is our Champions League. This is the level we are at, the competition we are playing for. The club has not reached a game like this for a very long time."

Roma have not lifted a trophy since the 2007-08 season, when they won the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana, and Mourinho expects his side to rise to the occasion as they strive to end the drought.

"We must forget that. In my view, you need to treat the final as a one-off match that brings pressure, tension and a sense of responsibility," he continued.

"We must only focus on the final and the opponent we are up against, forget the history of Roma right now. Obviously, it'd be marvellous to win for the city, the club and all of us.

"If I do win four European trophies with four different clubs, I will never forget the first, the Cup Winners' Cup in 1996-97 as assistant to Bobby Robson at Barcelona. Every time I sat next to him on the bench, I felt very proud."

"Every new target means more than the one before. Winning the first means you could just be in the right place at the right time. Winning a second is tougher, winning a third is even more difficult than the second.

"It is one thing to win, quite another to achieve success and win continually for your entire career."

Regardless of the outcome of the final, Mourinho insists he has no intentions to call time on his managerial career in the near future.

"Before Manchester United versus Real Madrid in 2013, [Alex] Ferguson invited me to his office, which then later became my office. I asked him: 'How's it going, boss? Does it change over the years?'," he added.

"He replied: 'Don't be daft, nothing changes. It remains the same to the final day.' This is why I keep saying I can't believe I am 59 years old. I can't believe I have a career of 21, 22 years as a coach behind me.

"I cannot tell you when I will retire, because I simply can't visualise it. The passion does not change."

Lewis Hamilton was "a little bit gutted" by qualifying sixth for the Spanish Grand Prix but is confident Mercedes can challenge Ferrari on race day. 

Mercedes have endured a dismal start to the season and struggled to match the pace of the Red Bulls and Ferraris, with Hamilton's only podium coming when he finished third in Bahrain. 

There have been significant signs of improvement at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya – where Charles Leclerc pipped Max Verstappen to pole – but the seven-time champion was still outqualified by team-mate George Russell, who will start from fourth. 

However, Hamilton hopes to be able to mix it with the Ferraris ahead of him on Sunday. 

"The team have done a great job so a big, big thank you to everyone for keeping pushing back at the factory because we don't have bouncing in a straight line, which is a huge improvement for us. And the car has generally been nicer this weekend," Hamilton told Sky Sports. 

"I am a little bit gutted [being sixth] because I want to be further up ahead, and you've obviously seen George is able to put it up further ahead than me, but I will keep pushing. 

"[Friday practice] was our best race pace that we've had so if we could start racing with the Ferraris, for example, that would be amazing. 

"I think the Red Bulls look like they might be quickest but we look like we could maybe compete with the Ferraris tomorrow and that is a big step for us." 

Team principal Toto Wolff thinks the bouncing issues that have plagued Mercedes being solved has primed them to make further strides as the season continues. 

"I think we have taken a solid step into Barcelona. You try to keep your expectations at a realistic point and I think where we slotted in is somehow the best we could have expected," said Wolff. 

"My belief is we have a race car more than a qualifying car, but we're going to see tomorrow how it went for the others. I think with Red Bull, they always have the tendency of being much stronger in the race than the Ferraris. 

"We know how to unlock more performance, but we're not yet there. It's step by step. The other teams have continued to develop their cars when we've been in a sort of pause moment to find out about the bouncing. 

"So we can pick up the regular development as soon as we understand the tyres now the bouncing is gone." 

Charles Leclerc recovered from a Q3 spin to take pole as Max Verstappen was left to rue a DRS failure in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix. 

Ferrari driver Leclerc span out at turn 14 on his first flying lap but produced an immense time with his next and only completed attempt, to ensure he will start from the front of the grid. 

All four of the Monegasque driver's Formula One victories have come after starting on pole. Some 28 of the past 31 winners at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya qualified on the front row.

Verstappen aborted his final lap after reporting a loss of power, with Red Bull team principal Christian Horner confirming to Sky Sports that was due to a DRS issue. 

The Dutchman will consequently start from second, with Ferrari's Carlos Sainz in third.

"I feel good. It was a difficult session, especially in Q3 because I made a mistake in the first run and then only had one lap," said Leclerc.

"But it went extremely well, I had a few moments but made it stick and very happy with pole position. It was a very good lap and the car was amazing too, so very happy.

"We've been struggling with tyres in the last few races compared to Red Bull, so Max is just behind. If we don't manage those tyres we will lose that advantage, so we need to get on top of it.

"I hope we can do a one-two. It will be great for the team and we will give it our all."

Verstappen acknowledged he may not have been able to beat Leclerc's time but still felt second was a good return for the team.

"It's always difficult to tell, I couldn't do my final run. Either the DRS didn't open or I just lost power," he said.

"It's a bit of a shame, but overall to be on the front row here looking at the whole weekend here, it's a good achievement, but I'd have liked to go for that final run.

"Hopefully, our car will be a bit kinder on the tyres again, but it's difficult to tell at the moment."

Sainz added: "I think everything is possible tomorrow. We are definitely going to try our best to get ahead at the start and lead from there, but it wasn't the ideal qualifying because I couldn't set a good lap on the used tyre."

George Russell was fourth and Lewis Hamilton qualified sixth as Mercedes' record run of nine straight poles in Barcelona came to an end.

Mick Schumacher will start 10th after making it through to Q3 for the first time in his career, while home favourite Fernando Alonso was eliminated in Q1 alongside the two controversially remodelled Aston Martins.

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 1:18.750
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.323s
3. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +0.416s
4. George Russell (Mercedes) +0.643s
5. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0.670s
6. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.762s
7. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) +0.858s
8. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) +0.932s
9. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) +1.547s
10. Mick Schumacher (Haas) +1.618s

Pep Guardiola hailed the efforts of Liverpool for pushing Manchester City to new heights in the battle for the Premier League title.

City are one point ahead of the Reds heading into their final match of the season against Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium, with Jurgen Klopp's side at home to Wolves on Sunday.

Victory over Steven Gerrard's Villa would ensure a fourth Premier League title of the Guardiola era in just five years at City, with only Alex Ferguson winning more (13).

It would also make the Spaniard the outright leader for English top-flight titles among non-British managers, going one clear of Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho.

Guardiola believes his side would not have achieved what they have without the competition from Liverpool, who remain in the hunt for an unprecedented quadruple.

"We would not achieve what we have without them [Liverpool]," Guardiola told Sky Sports. "We have our opponent who brings you to the limits, otherwise complacency arrives.

"The players are not stupid, I do not need to tell them how good they are. They play against them and see them on TV and I said, 'wow, if we want to be there, we have to do it'.

"I think it is quite similar like they should think about us."

Guardiola heaped praise on his players as they stand on the brink of back-to-back titles.

"Incredible, top human quality players and persons," he added. "Without that, no tactics, no ideas. Nothing, nothing, top-quality players.

"All the other managers have amazing ideas and tactics. The praise in the football world is so suspicious. Every time you give good praise to me, I do not believe you. Not for one second, I'm so suspicious.

"Behind that is the players, the quality, the talent, the effort. When we are good is when we try to altogether follow one idea, but my ideas are not more special than the other ones.

"I have found a lot of incredibly talented managers in the Championship, or the Premier League who do not have success. Do you know why? They do not have the good players that we have, it is as simple as that."

Victory over Villa would secure City's eighth top-flight title, the outright fifth-most in history since its inception in 1888, while it will be their sixth Premier League title (outright second-most after Manchester United’s 13).

Juan Mata has called for a reset at Manchester United as he suggested any player who does not meet the standards should not be at Old Trafford.

United have suffered another dismal season and, regardless of the result in their final game at Crystal Palace on Sunday, will finish the campaign with their lowest points tally in Premier League history.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was dismissed in late November before the short-term appointment of Ralf Rangnick, who will leave with the lowest win rate of any United manager in Premier League history (currently 43.5 per cent – 10 wins from 23 games).

Erik ten Hag is the next man tasked with transforming United's fortunes, and midfielder Mata urged improvements from his side next term as questions persist over the players' commitment and attitude.

"It's clear that on the pitch, we have made many mistakes," Mata told The Athletic. "We could have also dealt better with certain situations that were happening in the club, managers changing, negative things.

"At the end of the day, we let that maybe affect too much the energy of Carrington.

"Certain standards were not met. Whether that's attitude, level of training, off the pitch, which doesn't include players, we haven't been good enough. So that's where we could learn.

"Also, certain things were out of our control, which we shouldn't let affect us. You feel that way when you see certain things are not good enough. But we shouldn't have let things happen.

"Many circumstances can affect certain behaviours. If you don't have a solid base, when bad things come, it is difficult to stay all together.

"We need a reset in the culture of the club. That's how I feel. The standards, what it means to represent this club to any player, what entitles you to play for Manchester United, what is expected on the pitch and off the pitch.

"Many things that need to be clear – this is Manchester United and anyone who doesn't meet those standards is not up to the task and should not be here. That's as clear as I can be."

United require victory over Palace to guarantee they do not drop to seventh, which would mark their joint-worst finish in the Premier League (alongside the 2013-14 season) and see them play Europa Conference League football next term.

Cristiano Ronaldo will look to add to his 18 Premier League goals this season, only netting more in a single campaign in 2007-08 (31), while goalkeeper David de Gea will aim to end a positive season on a personal level on a high note.

De Gea implored United to perform for the fans when they visit Palace, who have never won in 12 Premier League home games against the Red Devils (D4 L8), which is the most one team has faced another at home without ever winning in the competition.

"We know [this season has] been difficult," he told MUTV. "But at least just for [the fans] and for our pride [we will] try to win the game.

"[I want to] at least give a win for the fans because they have been absolutely amazing for the whole season and it's great to have them at every single game.

"It will always have been a tough season for us, but I am very proud of my season, to be honest.

"I worked really hard in the summer to be here and be ready to play and show my qualities for the team. I think I did very well. I played very consistent this season and helped the team a lot."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is eager to play an important role when Milan look to clinch the Serie A title at Sassuolo on Sunday. 

Victory at the Mapei Stadium will see the Rossoneri win the Scudetto for the first time since 2010-11, which was during Ibrahimovic's first stint with the club. 

The Swede returned in January 2020 and in 72 appearances in all competitions has scored 35 goals – nine more than any of his team-mates in the same time frame – at a rate of one every 129 minutes. 

Ibrahimovic, whose contract is set to expire at the end of the season, has also contributed 11 assists for a total of 46 goal involvements. Rafael Leao is second on 42 for Milan but has played 28 games more. 

Although only 11 of the 40-year-old's Serie A appearances this season have come as part of the starting line-up, head coach Stefano Pioli believes he has been crucial to Milan's title challenge behind the scenes. 

Asked if Ibrahimovic was keen to play an important role against Sassuolo, Pioli replied: "A lot, like all of us. 

"We are experiencing an important moment. The season will finish tomorrow. There's a difference between winning and losing, and everyone must think they can be decisive. 

"Zlatan has brought a strong mentality and quality. He has more football intelligence than anyone else. He has been a reference point and has been instrumental in the growth of the team, which have been good at following his lead. They have become stronger players with him." 

Sassuolo have won each of the past two Serie A meetings between the teams but Milan are on a run of five straight away league wins against the Neroverdi. 

"Today, in my opinion, we deserve to be first. We've been the best team but also need to be [against Sassuolo]," said Pioli. 

"It's a difficult game. Nobody has given us anything this season and tomorrow will be the same. I just think about preparing as best as possible, knowing that we have reached this point with solid foundations. 

"Sassuolo can surprise you. It will be a complicated match tactically and physically, but we know how to fight and suffer." 

Simone Inzaghi insists Inter's season will be defined as a success even if they fail to win the Scudetto.

Inzaghi's side head into the final matchday of the Serie A campaign two points behind leaders and fierce rivals Milan, who require just a point at Sassuolo to win the title due to a superior head-to-head record.

Inter host Sampdoria, who have won just one of their last 19 league visits to the Nerazzurri, knowing the Serie A title is out of their hands as they rely on Stefano Pioli's Milan faltering on Sunday.

Regardless of the title outcome, Inzaghi views the season as a success after winning the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana, while making the Champions League last 16, where they were defeated by Liverpool.

"We have won two cups, expressed ourselves well, returned to the Champions League last 16 and are fighting for the title on the final day of the season," Inzaghi said at Saturday's pre-match news conference.

"The team has had a great year and I am very happy. It would be extraordinary to win the Scudetto as well, but we have given everything and we know we have given satisfaction to our fans."

Inter sit on 81 points heading into the final day, and 80-plus points have been enough for the Nerazzurri to win the title on five of the previous six occasions they have passed that mark.

However, should Milan avoid defeat at Sassuolo, the 2021-22 campaign will follow suit with the 2019-20 term when Inter finished second behind Juventus, despite collecting 82 points.

Inzaghi will be bitterly disappointed should Inter miss out to neighbours Milan, but he does not expect to come under criticism for failing to defend the title that Antonio Conte's Nerazzurri won last season.

"I have an excellent relationship with Antonio, there is mutual respect," he said of Conte. "Comparisons are normal, but I have never given those any weight.

"The club has always been with me from day one. It will have been a satisfactory year for our work anyway.

"The coaches are always under scepticism, we knew how things were and the demands of the club. Along the way we realised that we have gone beyond expectations."

Meanwhile, Ivan Perisic has hinted at a move away when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Asked about a renewal after the Coppa Italia win, Perisic told Mediaset: "I don't know, but with the important players [the club] doesn't wait until the last moment."

But Inzaghi assured there will be discussions with the Croatia international, who he feels is a special player.

"I think he went further; until you train a player you can't realise," Inzaghi said when asked if Perisic has lived up to expectations.

"Perisic has always been special to watch. He has had an extraordinary season – I think he has outdone himself.

"There will be a meeting with the club. I hope there will be progress. He is an important player for Inter. There is a great, open relationship and we will take stock of everything."

Two of England's best goalkeepers will face off as Arsenal host Everton on the last day of the Premier League season, and David James believes Jordan Pickford should remain number one for the Three Lions, for now.

Gunners shot-stopper Aaron Ramsdale is one of Pickford's chief challengers for the England jersey, though the two have had mixed fortunes as the league season comes to a close on Sunday.

Pickford has been in tremendous form for Everton as they steered clear of relegation, confirming their top-flight status for another year with a dramatic 3-2 comeback against Crystal Palace at Goodison Park on Thursday.

Ramsdale and Arsenal look to have missed out on a Champions League place after recent defeats to Tottenham and Newcastle United, with Mikel Arteta's side needing to beat Everton while hoping Norwich get the better of Spurs on the final day.

Speaking to Stats Perform, former Liverpool and England goalkeeper James said Ramsdale's form this season will not have gone unnoticed, but described Pickford as "exceptional" whenever he has appeared for the national team.

"I don't think Ramsdale's club form will be ignored," James said. "The way you get into England is by the good club form. However, Gareth Southgate is his England manager, not his club manager.

"It would be wonderful, I'm sure, for an international manager to look at his squad and everyone's playing at the best of their abilities at the top of the league, [but] that's never going to be the reality.

"I think what Jordan Pickford's done for England has been exceptional. Absolutely exceptional. It's not a case of not letting us down, he has been exceptional."

James says Ramsdale would have to seize any chance that comes his way with England.

"If he's to perform at the level that he's been performing for Arsenal for England, then Gareth has a question of 'actually now do I look at the overall picture?'," James said.

Only five goalkeepers have made more saves than Pickford's 117 in the Premier League this season, though he is 15th for save percentage (66.67), while Ramsdale is ninth (70.08).

In terms of expected goals on target (xGOT), Pickford has actually let in 0.9 more than expected, while Ramsdale has prevented 0.6 in that respect, though this is quite a way down from where it was heading into the last international break in late March (3.3).

James expects Pickford to remain England's number one ahead of the World Cup later this year, barring a dip in form that could prompt a change of heart from Southgate.

"If he looks at the quality of the goalkeeper and how much they positively influence England's performances, he may see a time to change," James said. "But at the moment, Jordan Pickford has been exceptional and therefore he's England's number one."

Kevin De Bruyne has been named the Premier League's Player of the Season.

The Manchester City star has driven Pep Guardiola's team to the verge of a fourth title in the space of five seasons with some sensational displays.

Despite having a rather stuttering start to the campaign after suffering an eye injury in last season's Champions League final, and then sustaining another problem during Belgium's Euro 2020 quarter-final defeat to Italy, the 30-year-old has gone on to score 15 goals in the Premier League so far in 2021-22.

Remarkably, those goals have come from an expected goals (xG) value of just 5.8. He has also provided seven assists.

Four of those came in City's 5-1 thrashing of Wolves earlier in May, with De Bruyne becoming the first player since Harry Kane in May 2017 to score three goals in a Premier League game with his weak foot, while he is the first midfielder in the competition's history to do so.

Indeed, he has contributed to 13 goals across his last nine Premier League appearances to truly take the reins of City's title charge.

While City still need to beat Steven Gerrard's Aston Villa on the final day to ensure the title is theirs, De Bruyne's stellar efforts have been rewarded.

The playmaker previously won the award in 2020, after matching Thierry Henry's Premier League assists record, while a City player has taken the prize for a third successive season, with Ruben Dias having won the accolade last year.

City may be signing Erling Haaland ahead of next term but this season they have once again operated without a recognised number nine, though De Bruyne's 15 strikes put him as the team's leading scorer.

Over his last 19 league matches, De Bruyne has registered a goal involvement every 81 minutes, edging out his single-season best from 2019-20 (85 minutes per goal involvement). He is also the only player to average over three shots and over three chances created per 90 minutes this season in the Premier League.

De Bruyne's triumph seals a fine day for City players, with Phil Foden having been selected as the league's Young Player of the Season.

Golden Boot contenders Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-min were also on the eight-man shortlist for the Player of the Year award, which included Joao Cancelo, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jarrod Bowen, Bukayo Saka and James Ward-Prowse.

Brazil great Cafu feels he and "one of the best right-backs in the world" Trent-Alexander Arnold share many similarities, while he heaped praise on England's transformation under Gareth Southgate. 

Alexander-Arnold remains in contention for an unprecedented quadruple with Liverpool, who have already won the EFL Cup and FA Cup and face Real Madrid in the Champions League final next Saturday. 

Jurgen Klopp's side also head into the final day of the Premier League season just a point behind leaders Manchester City, requiring a win against Wolves and hoping Pep Guardiola's side falter against Aston Villa. 

Alexander-Arnold has again been one of Liverpool's stars this campaign, with his 120 chances created far ahead of any other defender in Europe's top five leagues – David Raum in second has 88. 

The England international also leads the way for assists in the same group this term, with his 18 putting him three clear of Liverpool team-mate Andy Robertson. 

Former right-back Cafu, who played most of his career in Serie A with Roma and Milan, was quick to hail the progress Alexander-Arnold has made. 

"I have been following Alexander-Arnold and the campaign he has had at Liverpool," he told BBC Sport. "His progress over the last few years has been amazing and for sure is one of the best right-backs in the world. 

"He is young, strong and has developed hugely considering his age. He also has a lot of experience and I see a lot of similarities between him and myself. 

"We both had a will and commitment to attack, to go forward and have the boldness to shoot and to put the crosses in. The diagonal movements he makes on the pitch are also similar to what I was making as a player." 

Alexander-Arnold will hope to carry his club form into international duty in the Nations League with England before aiming for World Cup glory in Qatar in November and December. 

Southgate's side made their first major final since 1966 by reaching the Euro 2020 showpiece and Cafu credited the changes the England boss has overseen. 

"I have been following England and the evolution of their national team has been very good under Gareth Southgate," he added. "Along with Portugal, I consider England as the team to have evolved most on the pitch in the last few years. 

"They have a very strong squad with individual players who are performing at a very high level for their clubs. This helps the national team and the progress they have shown with their players means they have a good chance to go far in the [World Cup]. 

"If the England players listen to their coach as a group, then they have a better chance of winning." 

Xavi hailed Barcelona for saving a season that "could have been worse" but wants improvements next term from the Blaugrana, who Ousmane Dembele could play his last game for on Sunday.

Blaugrana great Xavi was appointed in November as the successor to Ronald Koeman, with Barca languishing in ninth in LaLiga after an underwhelming start to their 2021-22 campaign.

However, Xavi has reinvigorated Barca as the Catalan giants have climbed up to second in the league, albeit 13 points behind champions Real Madrid with one game left to play.

Barca conclude their campaign at home to Villarreal, and with second place already secured Xavi praised the recovery his side has made, but urged them to improve to compete with Madrid next season.

"We have saved a situation that could have been worse," he told reporters at a pre-match news conference on Saturday. "We have gone from less to more. We have competed but it has not given us any reward. We have to win titles. 

"I don't give myself a grade because whatever is said will be criticised. We have improved a lot. I am the first to demand more from myself. From now on, we will look to improve further.

"We have to improve in every way – psychologically, physically, which we have already improved, and reinforce the squad with two players per position. And also tactically, so everyone understands our ideas."

The game against Villarreal could prove to be Dembele's last at Camp Nou as contract negotiations remain ongoing.

Bayern Munich and Chelsea are reported to be keen on the World Cup-winning winger, whose 11 LaLiga assists in 2022 is more than any other player has registered across Europe's top five leagues.

Blaugrana president Joan Laporta has reiterated his desire to keep the France international at Barca, and Xavi hailed Dembele for his efforts in the second half of the season.

"It could be the last. You have to be optimistic. He has played excellent games and when he has not been involved we have noticed," he said of the former Borussia Dortmund player.

Barca have won their last five games against Villarreal in LaLiga, and could register six wins in a row against them for the first time in the competition.

However, Xavi expects a tough task when his team host Unai Emery's side, who made it to the Champions League semi-finals this season, where they were defeated by Liverpool.

"The result will be important. I would like to see a team with good feelings, bravery and finish with the best feelings," he continued.

"Villarreal is the best team we have faced. They have a lot at stake, and are a difficult opponent. You have to have a personality that the fans come to enjoy. There will be chances and it will be a good show."

Barca have confirmed Ronald Araujo will return to the squad after recovering from a head injury that caused him to spend a night in hospital following the game against Celta Vigo on May 10.

Pep Guardiola would be an ideal coach for Brazil as his style of play would benefit the likes of Neymar and Vinicius Junior, according to Julio Cesar. 

Brazil are on the hunt for a new boss with Tite leaving the role after the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and Guardiola has been linked with the position.

The Catalan is under contract at Manchester City, who he could lead to Premier League glory on Sunday, until June 2023 but has previously expressed a desire to move into international management.

Julio Cesar thinks he would be a great fit for the Selecao as his possession-based approach would help Brazil's most talented players.

"He has all the qualities to do it. He is one of the best in the world, his style of play is very Brazilian," Julio Cesar told Stats Perform courtesy of Enterprise Rent-A-Car. 

"Everyone knows that Brazilian players love to keep the ball; the majority of them also play in Europe and they are learning to play better on the pitch.  

"We have so much quality on the Brazilian national team: Neymar, Raphinha, [Lucas] Paqueta, Vinicius Junior. All these players are very talented and having a manager like Guardiola would give these players the opportunity of playing the ball more. 

"Every player would love to work with a manager like him. It wouldn't be a bad idea, although we also have really good managers in Brazil. He is a big name in the football world and it wouldn't be a bad thing having him representing our national side. I like the idea." 

Tite's only previous World Cup campaign with Brazil ended in a quarter-final defeat to Belgium in Russia four years ago. 

He steered the Selecao to Copa America glory in 2019 but they were unable to defend their title two years later, with Argentina defeating them in the final. 

Julio Cesar already believes Tite will leave a lasting legacy but has no doubt that leading Brazil to glory in Qatar would achieve him an even higher status. 

"This is what the World Cup gets you, it will level you up. If you can bring the World Cup to Brazil, you can leave with your head held high, you have done your job," he said. 

"He won the Copa America in 2019, he got to the final again against Argentina. He did very well so far, even in the [World Cup] qualifiers he got first place ahead of Argentina.

"He can leave with his head held high, but winning a World Cup with Brazil will take him to the top." 

Tiger Woods reiterated his delight that he is even able to be back out on the course after he made the cut at the US PGA Championship.

Woods had a difficult first round at Southern Hills County Club, carding 74 to leave him with plenty of work to do to make the weekend.

Yet the 15-time major champion recovered in fine fashion on Friday, going round in 69 to leave him at three over and T53.

While a push for a fifth US PGA Championship title – and a first since 2007 – seems unlikely, Woods is relishing being back at the biggest events.

He returned at the Masters last month just over a year after suffering serious injuries in a car accident in California.

"Well, just the fact that I'm able to play golf again and play in our biggest championships," he said after his round on Friday.

"As I alluded to earlier, you guys all know, I'm not going to be playing a lot of tournaments going forward. They're going to be the biggest tournaments.

"I want to be able to play the major championships. I've always loved playing them.

"Coming back here to a place that I've had success on, to play against the best players in the world, that's what we all want to be able to do.

"Fortunately enough, I'm able to somehow do it. I've had a great PT staff that have put Humpty Dumpty back together."

Bubba Watson matched the lowest round in PGA Championship history as he shot 63 in his second round to propel himself up the leaderboard.

And Watson's effort is something Woods hopes he can replicate over the weekend to put himself in contention.

"I'm hoping I can shoot a number like Bubba did today," he added. "That's where my mind is at right now. I've got to do some things physically to get myself there tomorrow and it will be a quick turnaround.

"That's the reward you get for just making the cut. You get to tee off early the next day, and hopefully I can get it in. The weather is supposed to be a little more difficult and be a little more testy, and hopefully that's the case.

"If that's the case, hopefully I can post a good round and at least move up the board, get myself within striking distance on Sunday. I'm pretty far back, but you just never know.

"Major championships are hard to win. We've seen guys with big leads or have made big comebacks, so you just never know."

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