Jose Gaya, left, and Valencia fell flat against Oleg Shatov and Zenit in Uefa Champions League group play on Tuesday and have not been much better in Primera Liga, with fans chanting for Portuguese manager Nuno Espirito Santo to be fired at home games. Anatoly Maltsev / EPA
Jose Gaya, left, and Valencia fell flat against Oleg Shatov and Zenit in Uefa Champions League group play on Tuesday and have not been much better in Primera Liga, with fans chanting for Portuguese maShow more

Primera Liga in focus: Valencia, intent on battling Barca and Real, need new saviours


Andy Mitten

The 50 Valencia fans in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday were mostly local Russians supporting the club who sit third in Spain's all-time league table. Standing in minus-0°C temperatures, it was a rare chance for them to see their heroes, not that there was much heroic about Los Che as they slipped to another defeat.

Valencia’s manager and players were spared the criticism that has been consistent from the crowd this season.

Spain’s most demanding supporters turned against their Portuguese manager Nuno Espirito Santo at the start of the season and have not relented, vocalising “he must go” at every opportunity.

When they drew against Las Palmas on Sunday, the flak was fierce in the last 10 minutes of the match, with fans all around the sheer-sided venue waving hankies in disgust.

Valencia’s talented players do not seem inspired by their coach, whose perceived arrogance has made too many enemies at the Mestalla.

Nuno did not oppose the departures of club president Amadeo Salvo in the close season, nor sporting director Francisco Rufete and his head scout, Roberto Ayala, both of them former Valencia players and idols.

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Their exits were not popular as the power at the club is now completely held by non-Spaniards.

The local heroes have been using the influential local media to keep jabbing away at Nuno.

Any manager needs a power base at a club, people who will support him, but Nuno has alienated potential allies. The enthusiasm and charisma that came with his arrival has long ago dissipated.

The sale of Nicolas Otamendi, their best defender last season, was the latest in a long line of expensive and unpopular sales.

Nuno’s assistant, Phil Neville, walked into a troubled club, yet Neville is very popular with the players, has worked hard to learn Spanish and is enjoying living in Spain.

Valencia are seventh and only two points off a Uefa Champions League position that would represent relative success. They beat in-form Celta Vigo 5-1 in their last away match, but that result only briefly masked the problems of an unpopular coach and a team who have conceded the most goals in the top 10.

Valencia are also third in their Champions League group and need to beat eliminated Lyon in their final game in two weeks while hoping that Genk do not become the first team to take points off Zenit.

It is doable, though Valencia’s run of fixtures is formidable.

They are away at Sevilla this weekend, then face a potential banana-skin cup tie at in-form Basque third-tier team Barakaldo.

The current Valencia players look like they lack faith in the manager to go to Bilbao midweek in December and get a result.

Then come Barcelona at home, when the fans likely will turn on Valencia’s Singaporean owner Peter Lim, who is expected at the game.

He is the man heralded as a saviour when he arrived in 2014 after the club had been on their financial uppers for years. Lim also linked up with agent Jorge Mendes to use Valencia as a platform to showcase his emerging talents.

That can work when such talents are excelling, but Valencia are a huge club who think they should be battling with Barcelona and Madrid, not acting as a shop window for potential suitors.

Some Valencia fans will not be satisfied until they are winning titles again.

They were not sated when Unai Emery led them to three successive third-place finishes.

That is as much as Valencia can hope for at present, not that Nuno is likely to be in the job long enough to find out.

RELAXED BARCELONA TAKE IT ONE DAY AT A TIME

Daniel Alves walked out of Barcelona's dressing room after Tuesday's 6-1 rout of Roma, the record victory in Europe for a Spanish team over an Italian.

The Brazilian was dressed in black and white and wore tight clothes which appeared to restrict his movement.

Walking like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz, the Brazilian was all smiles, just as he had been in the dressing room as he posed for photos with Spanish MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo.

Alves’s fashion sense could be used as a stick to beat him with if his team were losing, as could the relaxed dressing-room selfies players regularly post to social media, the type that would have made an old-school manager like Sir Alex Ferguson bristle.

Luis Enrique is a hard taskmaster, but cuts his charges slack and appreciates that he is from a different generation.

Eccentricities are encouraged in this Barcelona dressing room.

The players make each other smile in a way Ronaldinho once did by using rubbish bins as impromptu drums.

Lionel Messi’s relationship with his fellow strikers has not always been as positive as his coach would have hoped, but Luis Enrique has nothing to worry about now. The club’s overpowering front-line trio – known as “the trident” in Catalonia – enjoy a superb relationship.

They came back together on Tuesday as Lionel Messi made his first start in two months.

The three have scored more goals in 2015 than the entire Real Madrid team, an astonishing 121 against 106.

Only Bayern Munich have scored more as a team in Europe than Barcelona’s three South American strikers.

When Barcelona’s players post pictures, they are effusive and matey in their comments.

Speaking with journalists, they are more cautious and careful not to be seen as arrogant. Youngsters Sergi Samper and multi-lingual Ivan Rakitic were the players who spoke to journalists after the Roma win.

“We’re enjoying ourselves being on the pitch,” Rakitic said. “Not just attacking together but defending together, we feel strong all over the pitch.

“Still, the end of the season is a long way away and there are games at the end of the season when trophies will be won. While we’re obviously very happy, we’re taking things one game at a time.”

Such measured, sensible words from an intelligent man do not really do justice to Barca’s brilliance on the field.

GAME OF THE WEEK - Atletico Madrid v Espanyol

With attention fixed on el clasico, Atletico Madrid’s win at Real Betis meant they moved up to second with minimum notice. Diego Simeone’s side are unbeaten in six league games and have lost only two out of 12. They have also played Barcelona, Real Madrid, Valencia, Villarreal, Sevilla and Depor. Yannick Ferreira Carrasco has showed himself to be a fine close season signing. They face Espanyol on Saturday.

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DIVINE INTERVENTOIN

Starring: Elia Suleiman, Manal Khader, Amer Daher

Director: Elia Suleiman

Rating: 4.5/5

The Scale for Clinical Actionability of Molecular Targets
Company profile

Company: Zywa
Started: 2021
Founders: Nuha Hashem and Alok Kumar
Based: UAE
Industry: FinTech
Funding size: $3m
Company valuation: $30m

The specs: 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk


Price, base: Dh399,999
Engine: Supercharged 6.2-litre V8
Gearbox: Eight-speed automatic
Power: 707hp @ 6,000rpm
Torque: 875Nm @ 4,800rpm
Fuel economy, combined: 16.8L / 100km (estimate)

Company Profile

Company name: Fine Diner

Started: March, 2020

Co-founders: Sami Elayan, Saed Elayan and Zaid Azzouka

Based: Dubai

Industry: Technology and food delivery

Initial investment: Dh75,000

Investor: Dtec Startupbootcamp

Future plan: Looking to raise $400,000

Total sales: Over 1,000 deliveries in three months

Mia Man’s tips for fermentation

- Start with a simple recipe such as yogurt or sauerkraut

- Keep your hands and kitchen tools clean. Sanitize knives, cutting boards, tongs and storage jars with boiling water before you start.

- Mold is bad: the colour pink is a sign of mold. If yogurt turns pink as it ferments, you need to discard it and start again. For kraut, if you remove the top leaves and see any sign of mold, you should discard the batch.

- Always use clean, closed, airtight lids and containers such as mason jars when fermenting yogurt and kraut. Keep the lid closed to prevent insects and contaminants from getting in.

 

Tightening the screw on rogue recruiters

The UAE overhauled the procedure to recruit housemaids and domestic workers with a law in 2017 to protect low-income labour from being exploited.

 Only recruitment companies authorised by the government are permitted as part of Tadbeer, a network of labour ministry-regulated centres.

A contract must be drawn up for domestic workers, the wages and job offer clearly stating the nature of work.

The contract stating the wages, work entailed and accommodation must be sent to the employee in their home country before they depart for the UAE.

The contract will be signed by the employer and employee when the domestic worker arrives in the UAE.

Only recruitment agencies registered with the ministry can undertake recruitment and employment applications for domestic workers.

Penalties for illegal recruitment in the UAE include fines of up to Dh100,000 and imprisonment

But agents not authorised by the government sidestep the law by illegally getting women into the country on visit visas.

Secret Pigeon Service: Operation Colomba, Resistance and the Struggle to Liberate Europe
Gordon Corera, Harper Collins

The five pillars of Islam

1. Fasting

2. Prayer

3. Hajj

4. Shahada

5. Zakat

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

The specs

Engine: 5.2-litre V10

Power: 640hp at 8,000rpm

Torque: 565Nm at 6,500rpm

Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch auto

Price: From Dh1 million

On sale: Q3 or Q4 2022

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian

Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).

Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming

Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics

Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

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For Euro 2024 qualifers away to Malta on June 16 and at home to North Macedonia on June 19:

Goalkeepers Johnstone, Pickford, Ramsdale.

Defenders Alexander-Arnold, Dunk, Guehi, Maguire, Mings, Shaw, Stones, Trippier, Walker.

Midfielders Bellingham, Eze, Gallagher, Henderson, Maddison, Phillips, Rice.

Forwards Foden, Grealish, Kane, Rashford, Saka, Wilson.

The biog

Prefers vegetables and fish to meat and would choose salad over pizza

Walks daily as part of regular exercise routine 

France is her favourite country to visit

Has written books and manuals on women’s education, first aid and health for the family

Family: Husband, three sons and a daughter

Fathiya Nadhari's instructions to her children was to give back to the country

The children worked as young volunteers in social, education and health campaigns

Her motto is to never stop working for the country

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Chelsea 2
Willian (13'), Ross Barkley (64')

Liverpool 0

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Oman 109-3 in 18.4 overs (Aqib Ilyas 45 not out, Aamir Kaleem 27) beat UAE 108-9 in 20 overs (Usman 27, Mustafa 24, Fayyaz 3-16, Bilal 3-23)

Herc's Adventures

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Console: PlayStation 1 & 5, Sega Saturn
Rating: 4/5

Profile of VoucherSkout

Date of launch: November 2016

Founder: David Tobias

Based: Jumeirah Lake Towers

Sector: Technology

Size: 18 employees

Stage: Embarking on a Series A round to raise $5 million in the first quarter of 2019 with a 20 per cent stake

Investors: Seed round was self-funded with “millions of dollars” 

The Greatest Royal Rumble card as it stands

The Greatest Royal Rumble card as it stands

50-man Royal Rumble - names entered so far include Braun Strowman, Daniel Bryan, Kurt Angle, Big Show, Kane, Chris Jericho, The New Day and Elias

Universal Championship Brock Lesnar (champion) v Roman Reigns in a steel cage match

WWE World Heavyweight ChampionshipAJ Styles (champion) v Shinsuke Nakamura

Intercontinental Championship Seth Rollins (champion) v The Miz v Finn Balor v Samoa Joe

United States Championship Jeff Hardy (champion) v Jinder Mahal

SmackDown Tag Team Championship The Bludgeon Brothers (champions) v The Usos

Raw Tag Team Championship (currently vacant) Cesaro and Sheamus v Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt

Casket match The Undertaker v Chris Jericho

Singles match John Cena v Triple H

Cruiserweight Championship Cedric Alexander v tba

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Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
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