Tokyo Olympics: What to look out for on Wednesday

By Sports Desk July 27, 2021

There was plenty of drama in Tokyo on Tuesday and that is set to continue as the Olympic Games ramps up further on Wednesday.

A titanic tussle in the swimming pool should be well worth watching, but action on the bikes and in the basketball court will also draw plenty of eyes.

Stats Perform guides you through the events not to be missed.

TITMUS OUT TO TOP LEDECKY AGAIN

Katie Ledecky is one of the dominant forces in the pool, taking gold in each of her prior four individual Games finals since her 2012 debut as she headed to Tokyo, but she was upset in the 2020 opener.

Ariarne Titmus, the 20-year-old Australian, beat the United States' world record holder by more than half a second in the 400m freestyle final.

Now, Titmus is coming for Ledecky's crown again as the pair do battle in the 200m freestyle, where another victory would send a significant message.

TOUR STARS TAKE ON TIME TRIAL

There are no shortage of big names in the men's time trial, with a number of Grand Tour winners involved – including Geraint Thomas, no doubt determined to put on a show after his fall in the road race.

The last two men to head out perhaps represent the most likely Olympic champions, though, as Wout van Aert and Filippo Ganna go for gold.

Van Aert won the final two stages of the Tour de France, including a time trial on the penultimate day of the race.

FOCUS ON THE FOUR

The first rowing medals of the Games are to be handed out on Wednesday, and the women's four – back in the Olympics for the first time in 30 years – should provide plenty of intrigue.

World champions Australia changed their line-up for the Olympics, having not competed internationally since taking their title in 2019. Meanwhile, the Netherlands, world silver medallists and back-to-back European champions, have been dominant.

The two teams won their respective heats, but Australia's time of six minutes and 28.76 seconds was an Olympic best and almost five seconds quicker than the Dutch. Whether that chasm will remain when the boats are side by side is another matter.

TWO-WAY TUSSLE IN THE GYM

There is more gymnastics action to look forward, with the men's individual final taking place.

Home hope Daiki Hashimoto qualified with the best score and was outstanding for Japan in the team event, yet could only take silver as the hosts were pipped by the Russian Olympic Committee.

It was Nikita Nagornyy's floor routine which sealed that Russian success and he will be bidding for another gold, having trailed Hashimoto in second in qualification.

CAN DREAM TEAM RECOVER FROM NIGHTMARE START?

The United States' latest men's basketball title defence started in miserable fashion with a defeat to France, the team who eliminated them at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

It was Team USA's first Olympics loss since 2004, but it is highly unlikely a second will follow as they face Iran. A big performance is needed regardless to calm the critics.

While France delivered the upset in the basketball, they face their own humiliation in the football. Only a two-goal win against hosts Japan, themselves needing a point, will secure progress through Group A for Les Bleus.

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  • Referees send people off for nothing – Koeman unhappy with red card in Barca's 0-0 draw with Cadiz Referees send people off for nothing – Koeman unhappy with red card in Barca's 0-0 draw with Cadiz

    Ronald Koeman says referees in Spain send people off "for nothing" after both he and midfielder Frenkie de Jong were dismissed in Barcelona's dire 0-0 draw with Cadiz on Thursday.

    Barca's hopes of leaving Andalusia with a much-needed win were dealt a blow when De Jong received a second yellow card in the 65th minute for following through on Alfonso Espino after initially winning the ball. 

    The Catalan giants' woes were compounded deep into stoppage time when Koeman was also ejected for his protestations towards referee Carlos del Cerro Grande.

    The stalemate means Barca have now drawn three of their opening five LaLiga games this season to sit seven points adrift of leaders Real Madrid, although Carlo Ancelotti's side have played a game more. 

    Koeman's dismissal followed a frantic period that saw two balls in play at the same time, with the Dutchman claiming he was given his marching orders by Cerro Grande for alerting him to the situation. Sergio Busquets was booked for kicking the rogue ball towards the Cadiz player in possession.

    "It was not because of nervousness, it was because I told the fourth official that there was a second ball on the field and the referee had to stop the game. Everyone except the referee saw it," he told Movistar.

    "They expel you for nothing, in this country they expel you for nothing. I have asked the referee as normal. Attitude? We leave it because it is not my problem."

     

    The goalless draw means Barca have failed to scored in two of their past three games across all competitions – as many as in their previous 41 matches. 

    Meanwhile, their tally of eight goals scored at this stage of the season is their worst since the 2003-04 season when they scored just five in their opening five matches. 

    Koeman's future has been the subject of intense speculation in recent weeks and the Dutchman is aware that is unlikely to subside in the coming days.

    "I do not talk about my personal situation," he added. "It seems that if I win I continue and if I lose the club has to find another coach. It is for you [to talk about].

    "The president [Joan Laporta] was at the hotel, and we greeted each other shortly before leaving. Surely there will be more days to talk about this issue if the club wants to talk."

    Barca are next in action against Levante at Camp Nou on Sunday. 

  • Mourinho praises Roma's fighting spirit after matching Allegri's record home run Mourinho praises Roma's fighting spirit after matching Allegri's record home run

    Jose Mourinho praised his Roma players for holding on with 10 men to claim a 1-0 win against Udinese that saw the Portuguese equal Massimiliano Allegri's record unbeaten home run in Serie A.

    Tammy Abraham scored what proved to be the only goal of the game in Thursday's clash at Stadio Olimpico with a flicked finish nine minutes before half-time.

    Roma struggled in the second half as they saw less of the ball than Udinese (47.4 per cent) and were out-shot seven to two, with Rui Patricio forced into a couple of saves.

    The Giallorossi had to play the final stages a man light after Lorenzo Pellegrini was issued a second yellow card for catching Lazar Samardzic with his elbow, but they saw out their fourth victory in five league games this term.

    That includes three successive wins at Stadio Olimpico under Mourinho, who is now 41 without defeat on home soil in the Italian top flight going back to his hugely successful tenure at Inter.

    He is one short of taking the outright record in the three-points-per-win era (since 1994-95), with Allegri's previous benchmark set between September 2015 and September 2017 during his first spell in charge of Juventus.

    Mourinho was pleased to pick up all three points against Udinese and move up to fourth in the standings, but he acknowledged his side dropped off in the second half of the contest.

    "We played well for about 35 minutes," he said at his post-match news conference. "We had total control of the game, 1-0 is little for what we did. In the second half we struggled a bit more, and they reacted.

    "We had to suffer a bit. But we did so as a team. We played about six or seven minutes with a man less and fought hard for the three points."

     

    Pellegrini's contentious dismissal means that he is set to miss Sunday's Derby della Capitale showdown with bitter rivals Lazio, but Mourinho suggested he intends to appeal against the decision.

    "It was ridiculous. We had an educational meeting with the referee chiefs and the rules were explained for two hours," Mourinho said. "Then we get to the game and see a red like this.

    "I can't say anything except that it was ridiculous. Football is and always will be football. You cannot change it into a non-contact sport."

    Mourinho added to DAZN: "I don't know the legal mechanisms in Italian football, but if we can appeal, then we must try. I have many doubts that anyone could say that was a deserved second yellow card. 

    "If there's a way of appealing this card, then we must do that and allow him to play on Sunday."

    Roma have now scored 22 goals in all competitions this season, a tally that is bettered by only Bayern Munich (38), Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund (both 23) among clubs in Europe's top five leagues.

    Abraham has been responsible for three of those and, with his strike against Udinese, became the first English striker to score a home goal in Serie A since Jay Bothroyd against Ancona with Perugia back in May 2004.

    The recent signing from Chelsea has made a massive impact since joining, having also chipped in with a couple of assists, and he is grateful to have been made to feel so welcome in his new surroundings.

    "I knew there was a lot of pressure with me coming in, but I love the fans, the staff, they make me feel like family from the first day and I need to repay them," he told DAZN.

    "I came here to win, I love to win, the boys look to me, I have to give them confidence, and hopefully we'll continue getting results."

  • Cadiz 0-0 Barcelona: Koeman pressure intensifies after late dismissal in dismal draw Cadiz 0-0 Barcelona: Koeman pressure intensifies after late dismissal in dismal draw

    The pressure on Ronald Koeman intensified after his 10-man Barcelona side were held to a dire 0-0 draw by Cadiz at Estadio Nuevo Mirandilla on Thursday.

    Speculation about the Dutchman's future has been rife following a slow start to the LaLiga campaign that had seen Barca drop points to Athletic Bilbao and Granada in their opening four games, while also losing 3-0 to Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

    Things did not get much better for the Catalan giants in Andalusia as Cadiz comfortably kept them at bay, with their misery compounded midway through the second half when Frenkie de Jong saw red for two bookable offences.

    Koeman was also dismissed in the closing seconds for his protests during a frantic finish.

    A point did at least move Barcelona up to seventh – seven points behind leaders Real Madrid, who have played a game more – while Cadiz climbed to 14th.

    While Barca did most of the pressing in the early stages, they did not have a shot on target until the 30th minute, Memphis Depay's weak effort comfortably saved by Jeremias Ledesma.

    Marc-Andre ter Stegen pawed away Alvaro Negredo's audacious 25-yard effort immediately after half-time, while Depay miskicked with the goal at his mercy at the other end.

    Ledesma pushed away Depay's drive from outside the penalty area, before Barca's hopes of getting a positive result were dealt a blow in the 65th minute when De Jong received a second yellow card for following through on Alfonso Espino after initially winning the ball. 

    Salvi Sanchez squandered a glorious opportunity inside the final 10 minutes, firing against Ter Stegen after being played in by Espino, with the ball bouncing behind off Ruben Sobrino.

    Depay then had an even better chance to steal all three points for the visitors deep into stoppage time, as the Netherlands international clipped narrowly wide after a marauding Gerard Pique carried Barca forward.

    What does it mean? Koeman's time could be up

    Speaking ahead of the match, Barca president Joan Laporta insisted Koeman's job did not depend on the outcome of the result, but he did warn that "if decisions have to be taken, we will take them".

    That decision may well be nearing after another woeful display from a Barca side desperately short of ideas, pace and attacking threat. Their task was made harder by the dismissal of De Jong, though they scarcely looked like scoring when they had their full complement of players. 

    Busquets quality still on show

    While many at Barca are seemingly losing their heads, Sergio Busquets continues to be a reliably serene presence at the base of the midfield. The Spain international made more successful passes (77) than any player on the pitch, while he gained possession eight times – a total not bettered by any Barca player.

    Demir fails to shine

    Yusuf Demir struggled on just his second start for Barca. It was little surprise to see the 18-year-old brought off at half-time after an opening 45 minutes that did not herald a single shot or key pass.

    What's next?

    Both sides are in action again on Sunday, with Barca hosting Levante at what could be a hostile Camp Nou and Cadiz travelling to Rayo Vallecano.

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