Ferran Torres is reaping the benefits of relocating a positive outlook at Manchester City, with Pep Guardiola stating the Spain forward was "upset with the world, with many situations".

Torres netted a fine hat-trick, which began with a spectacular improvised volley, when the Premier League champions won 4-3 at Newcastle United last Friday.

Those goals moved Torres onto 19 for club and country this season, although his form tailed off considerably during the middle of the campaign – a situation that was compromised by a bout of coronavirus.

Speaking ahead of Tuesday's match at Brighton and Hove Albion, Guardiola reiterated the value he places upon players remaining upbeat when form and selection are not going their way, suggesting Torres has fallen short in this regard at times since joining from Valencia for £21.2million last August.

"The players, like teams, are not a stable situation. There is up and down with all players," Guardiola said.

"Ferran was in an incredible mood when he arrived, [then] in one period sad, upset with the world, with many situations and that's why he didn't play good. When he changed his mind and he was open and he started to smile again, always he played good.

"And the football depends on the mood, the confidence of the players. We try to help them but it depends on them. You can complain or you can move forward all the time. And the guys who move forward and they are positive, always football rewards you.

"When you start to complain all the time, then the train comes over you and other guys will take your position.

"Football doesn’t wait. If you're not in the right moment, there will be another guy who will take your position. When you are positive, the guys are always playing good."

Torres has scored 13 times for City in all competitions this season, putting him level with Gabriel Jesus. Only Ilkay Gundogan (16), Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling (all 14) have scored more.

The 21-year-old's minutes-per-goal rate of 159.85 is comfortably the best in Guardiola's squad, with no other player who has scored five or more times below 200 minutes.

Nevertheless, his season can be split into three fairly clear sections.

From the start of the campaign up to and including a goalscoring contribution to a home win over Newcastle on Boxing Day, Torres scored seven times for his club and also hit a hat-trick in Spain's 6-0 Nations League thrashing of Germany.

For City, he averaged 0.56 goals per 90 minutes and boasted a shot conversion rate of 20 per cent, out-performing an expected goals (xG) figure of 5.75 and vindicating Guardiola's decision to frequently deploy a natural winger at the centre of his attack.

"We used him in that position because for quite a long period of the season Gabriel and Sergio [Aguero] were injured," he said.

"We have players that can play in different positions and Ferran is one of them."

Then, COVID-19 struck and Torres became a more marginal figure, featuring 10 times between the turn of the year and the March international break and netting a solitary goal against League Two Cheltenham in the FA Cup.

That paltry return came from 15 shots over this period, amounting to a conversion rate of 6.67 per cent and an xG under-performance (2.24).

It means the stint of low mood that Guardiola mentioned is not too hard to pick out, although back-to-back goals in Spain's World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Kosovo appear to sparkTorres once more.

In six appearances and five starts for City since, he has five goals at a rate of one every 83.2 minutes, far exceeding his 1.77 xG.

Torres' conversion rate during this most recent spell is up at 41.67 per cent and the poaching instincts that were to the fore in his second and third goals against Newcastle are borne out in the fact he has scored three of his past four "big chances", according to Opta.

His opener does not fall into that category, but such an ingenious move coming off is perhaps indicative of a player back in form and giving his manager a useful problem ahead of this month's Champions League final.

"The goal was so nice, difficult execution. An absolutely talented action," Guardiola added.

"In training sessions he always has the ability in front of goal. He is a good finisher. He has pace, quality and good decision-making."

As City continue to be linked with mega-money moves for a new striker and Aguero prepares to leave the Etihad Stadium after a record-breaking decade, maybe they have a very useful solution in-house.

Europe's top five leagues all conclude this week and there are still plenty of matters to be resolved – not least who will be crowned champions in Spain and France.

Every division has something riding on the final days of the season, whether it be top spot, European qualification, or relegation.

Ahead of what is set to be a dramatic conclusion to the Premier League, LaLiga, Ligue 1, Serie A and the Bundesliga campaigns, we look at the state of play in each league.

 

PREMIER LEAGUE

Manchester City wrapped up the Premier League title with three games to spare, making them the first team in the competition's history to win the title despite being as low as eighth on Christmas Day.

All three relegation places were also decided with three games remaining – a Premier League record – with Fulham joining Sheffield United and West Brom in dropping down a division.

That leaves just the European spots to fight for, and it is shaping up to be an entertaining end to the English top-flight season in that regard. Manchester United are guaranteed a top-four finish, but five other teams – Leicester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and West Ham – are in the mix for the two other Champions League berths with two rounds of games to go.

There is also the small matter of the Europa League places for the teams finishing in fifth and sixth, as well as a spot in the inaugural Europa Conference League, which goes to the team in seventh, meaning everyone from 10th-placed Leeds United to Leicester in third have something to play for. That includes Arsenal, who have not missed out on European football of some sort in 25 years.

LALIGA 

The Spanish title race appeared to take a dramatic twist on Sunday as Real Madrid leapfrogged Atletico Madrid at the summit for around 20 minutes. However, Atleti scored two late goals to beat Osasuna, meaning they are two points ahead of their city rivals heading into the final round of games.

Atleti, who have led the way at the top for 29 matchdays, now need to match Madrid's result against Villarreal when they travel to relegation-threatened Real Valladolid on the final day of the season. It is worth noting that Los Blancos have the superior head-to-head record, so a draw would not be enough for Atleti if Madrid win.

Barcelona are officially out of the title race, meanwhile, but they are assured of a top-four finish along with Sevilla. Real Sociedad and Real Betis occupy the Europa League spots, while Villarreal are in a Europa Conference League berth, though just one point separates the three teams so that could all yet change.

To complicate matters, Villarreal could still qualify for the Champions League by winning the Europa League final against Manchester United.

At the bottom end of the division, Eibar are already relegated and they will be joined by two of Valladolid, Elche or Huesca. Valladolid must beat Atletico in their final game to have a chance of staying up, while the onus is on Elche to better Huesca's result as they are level on points but have an inferior head-to-head record.

LIGUE 1

The Ligue 1 title battle is also going right down to the wire in a three-way dogfight. After a thrilling race that has lasted the course of the season, underdogs Lille lead heavyweights Paris Saint-Germain by one point with one matchday left.

Monaco have won seven of their previous eight games and are three points off leaders Lille, though they require both Les Dogues and PSG to slip up on the final day, as well as beating Lens. Should it come down to goal difference, PSG hold a big lead over their two title rivals.

Incredibly, PSG are still not yet technically assured of a Champions League place as Lyon in fourth are only three points worse off, although it would take a defeat for the reigning champions and victory for Lyon, plus a goal swing of 16, for them to miss out.

Monaco's opponents Lens, incidentally, also have plenty to play for at the weekend as they are sixth – enough for Europa Conference League qualification – but can still be caught by Rennes in seventh, while they could yet overtake Marseille in fifth if results go their way.

At the opposite end of the table, there may only be one spot left to be settled in the bottom three – Dijon and Nimes are both already down – but six teams are still very much in danger of the drop. Nantes occupy the relegation play-off spot, with Lorient, Brest and Strasbourg just a point better off, and Bordeaux and Reims only two points clear.

SERIE A

With Inter being crowned Scudetto winners for the first time in 11 years at the start of the month, the biggest storyline in Serie A regards Juventus' top-four fate. The dethroned champions, who had finished top nine years running before this season, are currently down in fifth.

Juve are one point behind Napoli and Milan in the two spots directly above them, while Atalanta are three points better off in second and have the better head-to-head record against the Bianconeri.

Andrea Pirlo's side are therefore in need of favours on the final day in what is poised to be a nail-biting finale in terms of those Champions League places. Lazio will finish sixth, so they are assured of Europa League football next term, while Roma hold a two-point advantage over Sassuolo in the Europa Conference League position.

Parma and Crotone are both down already and one of Benevento or Torino will join them, the latter currently three points outside of the relegation zone and with a game in hand to play on Benevento.

BUNDESLIGA

RB Leipzig provided Bayern Munich with some stern competition for a while, but the Bavarian giants' quality eventually told and they are Bundesliga champions for a ninth year running.

It's not only the title race that's done and dusted in Germany, in fact, as RB Leipzig are certain of second place, and both Borussia Dortmund and Wolfsburg will join them in the Champions League next season.

Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayer Leverkusen, meanwhile, will finish in fifth and sixth respectively regardless of events later this week.

However, Union Berlin have work to do if they are to finish seventh for a place in the Europa Conference League play-offs as Borussia Monchengladbach are a point further back, while Stuttgart and Freiburg are two behind with a game to go.

Seven-time German champions Schalke will be competing in the second tier of German football next season, but Cologne and Werder Bremen are hanging on in there, sitting two and one point behind Arminia Bielefeld respectively in 15th place.

Roberto Mancini has been given a significant vote of confidence by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) after signing a new contract that will keep him in charge of Italy until after the 2026 World Cup.

Mancini was appointed in May 2018, taking over from caretaker manager Luigi Di Biagio after he had replaced Gian Piero Ventura the previous November.

Ventura had failed to guide Italy to the 2018 World Cup, the Azzurri losing out to Sweden in a play-off.

It was the first World Cup Italy had missed since 1958 and forced the FIGC into a serious rethink before turning to Mancini, one of the nation's most-respected coaches.

He was initially appointed only until 2020, with an automatic extension to be granted upon qualification for Euro 2020, which Italy duly achieved with three matches to spare.

That triggered a two-year extension to run until after the 2022 World Cup, but the FIGC is seemingly so impressed with Mancini that they have deemed him worthy of a long-term deal.

Speaking at the end of the FIGC's federal council meeting, president Gabriele Gravina is quoted by ANSA as saying: "It is an investment of the federation for the future, and one that we owed to the fans.

"I am very happy, because as Roberto knows, it was an objective of the federation to continue this job and give it continuity in the future."

Mancini, who was also in attendance, added: "I am very happy, I thank the Federation and I thank the president.

"We have extended the contract, there will be many events and as the president said it is not easy to win, but we are trying to carry out a job that was started three years ago, which up to now has given good results.

"We have many young players to focus on, especially in the youth national teams, so our hope is that this work can bear fruit very quickly, we are very positive."

Mancini's Italy broke a longstanding national team record in November 2019 as they won 10 consecutive matches with a 3-0 result against Bosnia-Herzegovina, the streak eventually ending at 11.

They won all of their Euro 2020 qualifiers and their 10 victories in 2019 set a new record for the most wins in a calendar year for the national team.

Italy were drawn into Group A for the Euros, which start next month, meaning they will face Turkey, Wales and Switzerland for the right to reach the knockout phase.

The regular season is over. All teams have made it through 72 games in a campaign played out amid the backdrop of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

For some, the focus now switches quickly to the playoffs. Those who missed out, however, get an early start to their offseason, a time for rest, reflection and perhaps a reset ahead of the NBA Draft in late July.

The contrasting situations for teams at this time in a campaign offers opportunities to those perhaps not used to being in the spotlight. It may be the final act in the show, but it allows some players to step in and take centre stage.

Powered by Stats Perform data, here is a look at some of those who have seized the moment in the latest edition of Heat Check.

RUNNING HOT...

Jordan Clarkson

Clarkson has excelled this season with the Utah Jazz and is the overwhelming favourite to be named Sixth Man of the Year in the NBA Awards. He has averaged 18.4 points across 68 games, of which he has started in just one. His final act in the regular season was a 33-point haul in a win over the Sacramento Kings, including landing half of his 12 attempts from beyond the arc.

Despite being without Mike Conley Jr and Donovan Mitchell down the stretch, the Jazz still finished strongly to end up as the top seeds in the Western Conference. Now they wait to find out who they will face first up in the playoffs, aiming to avoid an opening-round exit for a third successive campaign.

Kelan Martin

Martin is a prime case of a player capitalising on extended game time. Having gone undrafted, he had a spell in Germany before getting an NBA debut with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2019. However, he has looked right at home of late with the Indiana Pacers, including recording a career-high 25 points on May 10. During the past week, the 25-year-old has averaged 14.2 points per game and 2.6 successful three-point attempts.

Indiana have a play-in game to come against the Charlotte Hornets as they aim to keep their campaign alive – do not be surprised to see Martin remain involved in the rotation.

Malachi Flynn

Few teams have had it as tough as the Toronto Raptors. For starters, the Canadian franchise was relocated to Tampa due to travel restrictions in place during the global pandemic. Health and safety protocols have also taken a toll on player (and coach) availability and, with no hope of a top-10 finish in the Eastern Conference, several of their starters have been absent from duty.

That has offered further minutes for Malachi Flynn, though. The rookie guard rounded out his debut year with 26 and 27 points respectively in losses to the Dallas Mavericks and the Pacers. Across the past week, he averaged out at 3.25 successful attempts from three-point range, demonstrating his scoring touch from deep.

GOING COLD...

Elfrid Payton

To say Payton’s numbers are a concern is an understatement. The starting point guard for the playoff-bound New York Knicks has not reached double figures for points in his previous seven outings.

Indeed, across the past week, the former first-round pick by the Philadelphia 76ers has averaged 1.0ppg. One. Point. He made just two of 14 field goal attempts across four games. Considering the Knicks also have Frank Ntilikina and Derrick Rose on the roster, a change to the line-up would not be at all surprising.

Nikola Vucevic

Vucevic did not play on Sunday as the Chicago Bulls wrapped up their campaign with a win over the shorthanded Milwaukee Bucks. The center averaged 12.67 points in the three appearances across May 10-16, comfortably down on his mark of 23.9 entering the week. He struggled against the Brooklyn Nets in particular, landing just four of his 18 shots, including none of the eight attempts launched from three-point range.

Here is an example of how sometimes good intentions do not quite pan out as planned. Vucevic's arrival prior to the trade deadline was a show of intent by the Bulls to make the playoffs. Instead, they are left on the outside in the East, finishing up in 11th place in the standings for a second season in a row.

The Philadelphia Eagles have bolstered their defense with the signing of Ryan Kerrigan.

Defensive end Kerrigan has spent 10 seasons with the Washington Football Team after being picked in the first round of the 2011 draft.

A four-time Pro Bowler, Kerrigan holds the Washington franchise record for sacks with 95.5, which are the fifth-most in the NFL since 2011.

"I'll never be able to sum up what these past 10 years have meant to me in an Instagram post, but what I can say is that they have been some of the best of my life," Kerrigan wrote in a farewell message to Washington on Instagram. 

"I hope you had as much fun watching me as I did playing for you. Thank you, Washington, for everything."

In a subsequent post announcing his signing with Washington's NFC East rivals the Eagles, he wrote: "I know I probably wasn't your favourite player over the past decade, but @philadelphiaeagles fans I'm fired up to be playing for you guys now!"

He joins a Philadelphia defense that was seventh in the NFL in forcing negative passing plays in 2020 with 53 for minus 349 yards.

The Eagles are not short on talented pass rushers. Brandon Graham was fifth in the league among edge rushers last season with a pressure rate of 23.5 per cent, while Josh Sweat's adjusted sack rate of 4.4 per cent was marginally better than that of Kerrigan (4.3) in 2020.

Interior defensive lineman Fletcher Cox had 6.5 sacks and has at least 5.5 sacks in five of his past six seasons.

The Eagles will hope the addition of Kerrigan to an already talented defensive front will help them bounce back from a 4-11-1 season under new head coach Nick Sirianni.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is unsure whether Juan Mata will remain at Old Trafford beyond this season.

The Spanish midfielder has spent the last seven-and-a-half years at Old Trafford, racking up 271 appearances during that time.

However, he has struggled for minutes this season – featuring just 16 times in all competitions – and is due to become a free agent next month.

United have the option to trigger a 12-month extension in Mata's contract, but Solskjaer insists the player himself will have the final say over his future.

"I've kept the dialogue with Juan and we're due to speak again very soon," he said at a news conference on Monday previewing his side's home match with Fulham. 

"Of course, he's not played as much as he'd like and that's a decision that we'll make with him. He's in charge of his own future and he's been such a good servant for the club. 

"But of course, it's hard, as I've said so many times, to leave good players out, good people out of the team. 

"It's about what does he want as his next step in his career? Is it still play out his career here, or is it going somewhere else? We haven't made a final decision yet."

Mata's appearance in a much-changed United's 2-1 loss to Leicester City last week was just his fifth start of the season in the Premier League, not helped by injuries and family matters.

Prior to that rare outing against the Foxes, Mata had played just two minutes of top-flight football for United in 2021, coming on as a late substitute in February's 3-1 win against Newcastle United.

He has failed to score in the league since April 2019 but does have two assists in 2020-21, which equates to 0.42 per 90 minutes and is the best record of any United player to have played more than once this term.

Bruno Fernandes is next on the list with 0.33 assists per 90 minutes, albeit over a far greater period of 36 games compared to Mata's eight.

The 33-year-old also ranks highly for chances created, the Spaniard's 1.69 per 90 minutes behind only Luke Shaw (2.53) and Fernandes (2.81).

Serie A side Lazio are reportedly the favourites to sign the former Valencia and Chelsea man should he depart Old Trafford in the coming weeks. 

Marc-Andre ter Stegen has confirmed he will miss Germany's Euro 2020 campaign after opting to undergo a "therapeutic procedure" on his knee.

Sunday's LaLiga results – including Celta Vigo's shock win at Camp Nou – mean Barcelona can no longer win the title, with the club and Ter Stegen subsequently deciding to cut his season short.

A brief statement released by the club revealed Ter Stegen will "undergo a therapeutic procedure on the patellar tendon in his right knee on Thursday May 20 in Malmo by Dr Hakan Alfredson and under the supervision of the club's medial services".

While Barca did not outline a return date, Ter Stegen provided an update on his official Instagram account on Monday, confirming it means he will play no part at the delayed Euro 2020.

"I'm disappointed about yesterday's defeat and that now we can no longer win La Liga," he wrote.

"After a complicated start to the season, we showed good character going 19 matches unbeaten – but we weren't able to keep this form.

"I have decided together with the medical team of the club that I will do a complementary intervention on my knee.

"I'm sad that I will miss Euro 2020 this summer with Germany. For the first time in many years I will be a fan at home supporting my country, I hope we win it!

"After the summer break, when we are back on the pitch I hope to be able to play with fans [in attendance] once again, I miss it!

"Thank you for your support throughout a difficult season and stay healthy!"

Ter Stegen has featured 31 times in the league in 2020-21 for Barcelona, but his overall performance for the season has not been quite up to the high standards he has set previously.

He has conceded 32 goals from shots on target worth 29.07 expected goals on target (xGOT), meaning he has let in nearly three goals more than expected. Celta's first goal on Sunday came from a speculative Santi Mina shot worth just 0.04 xGOT.

Ter Stegen's xGOT differential of -2.93 this term is by far his worst across a single season at the club. In 2015-16, it was -1.44, though he only played seven LaLiga matches, while his next worst was -0.16 in 2019-20, a narrow margin which essentially meant he conceded as many goals as would be expected given the quality of the shots on target he faced.

But for this procedure the ex-Borussia Monchengladbach man certainly would have been a part of the Germany squad next month, though he would have been playing back-up to Bayern Munich's Manuel Neuer.

 

While Ter Stegen has let in more goals than he should have this season, Neuer has conceded 40 times in the Bundesliga from an xGOT value of 42.09, therefore preventing two goals in 2020-21.

The Neuer or Ter Stegen debate has been a hot topic for Germany for a while now, though the data suggests that, at least this season, the Bayern star remains the safer option between the posts.

Chelsea face a challenge to cope with undeserved losses, according to manager Thomas Tuchel, as they bid to guarantee Champions League football next season.

Qualification for Europe's top club competition via their league standing is still in the Blues' hands but, having lost 1-0 to Arsenal prior to their defeat by the same scoreline in Saturday's FA Cup final with Leicester City, they are just a point ahead of fifth-placed Liverpool with two games to go.

The Reds claimed a dramatic 2-1 win over West Brom on Sunday to trim the deficit, goalkeeper Alisson heading in a remarkable winner at the death.

But Tuchel sees no reason for Chelsea – who of course can still qualify for next season's competition by beating Manchester City in the Champions League final this month – to start nervously looking over their shoulders as they control their destiny going into Tuesday's rematch with Leicester.

Instead, he views putting defeats in two games they dominated behind them as the bigger test for his side.

Chelsea lost to Arsenal after a calamitous error by Jorginho, Tuchel's men finishing the game with an xG of 1.79 to the Gunners' 0.64.

The cup final saw them beaten by a superb long-range effort by Youri Tielemans, with a late Wes Morgan own goal ruled out for offside as a game Chelsea ended with an xG of 0.78 to Leicester's 0.32 went in the favour of the Foxes.

Asked if he watched Liverpool's win, Tuchel told a media conference: "I came home in the afternoon and I checked on the television and saw 1-1.

"I checked again in the 95th minute and it was still 1-1. Then one minute later I saw. It doesn't make things boring. It was a fantastic header in the last minute that makes things interesting and tight. It's still in our hands.

"The setback for us was the Arsenal game. We let the door open so Liverpool have a foot in the door. They're a strong team and it's what they do. We make a huge effort to overtake them and this is what we did. We should be aware of the huge performance we've made so far but we need to finish the job.

"We need to rely on ourselves because we are in the situation where we don't have to look at other grounds.

"We were ready to win the game in the cup final and I understand that after the Man City game there could be a drop of focus for the Arsenal game.

"I never want it and we fight against the human side to drop a percentage but I can understand it.

"I have no worries or regrets about Leicester. I felt my team fighting on an extremely high level. We can improve in composure and decision-making.

"That is not new for us since we are together. So except the results, nothing much has changed.

"I'm not afraid to say these are not deserved losses but they are losses and it's a challenge to cope with it. It's another step in our development."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Manchester United's recent loss of form could be partly due to off-field issues but is hoping supporters can give his side a lift against Fulham on Tuesday.

The Red Devils lost back-to-back Premier League home games against Leicester City and Liverpool last week in a little over 48 hours amid a backdrop of fan protests against the club's ownership.

Supporters forced the initial clash with Liverpool two weeks ago to be postponed late on after demonstrating inside and outside Old Trafford.

United had to alter their pre-match plans for both the rearranged clash with Liverpool and the loss to Leicester to ensure their players were in the stadium well ahead of kick-off.

Solskjaer admits the disruption affected his squad and, ahead of United welcoming fans to Old Trafford for the first time in 14 months, the Norwegian has called for unity.

"I didn't want to use it as an excuse because we lost two games but surely it's a reason behind the performances," Solskjaer said at a news conference on Monday.

"I'm not saying it didn't affect them, but I was impressed with how professional they were and how they went about it.

"I think the mood in any club and the relationship between the team and the fans is vital to what happens on the pitch.

"The players are all human beings, we're all human beings, and we will react to getting our supporters back in a positive way.

"They have always given us extra energy and hopefully the players will give the fans a reason to cheer and that's what we have to focus on. It's a big game for us in that respect."

Tuesday's visit of Fulham will see up to 10,000 in attendance for United's final home game of the season as coronavirus restrictions continue to be eased in the United Kingdom.

Victory for United would guarantee a second-place finish in the Premier League for just the second time since Alex Ferguson retired at the end of the 2012-13 season.

Jose Mourinho was in charge for that previous occasion and described it as one of his best achievements in management, but ​Solskjaer will not celebrate finishing so far behind Manchester City.

"The competition is a lot harder now than when I was a player," he said. "Of course, you have three, four, maybe five teams that challenge for the top two positions.

"The top two positions have been taken by two teams in the past few years and for us to move into them and divide them is a good performance, but it's not an achievement.

"You can't say it's an achievement. We've taken steps as a team, we're not where we want to be. We know we have some deficiencies as a group.

"There are parts of the game we need to improve on but I've felt we’ve made strides in most places.

"I've been very pleased with the players this season, I've got to say. I've been impressed by them, but we want to take the next step as well."

United have won 18 of their past 22 Premier League meetings with Fulham and are unbeaten in their last 12 against them in the competition, winning 10 of those.

Solskjaer's side follow up Tuesday's fixture with a trip to Wolves on the final day, before turning their focus to the Europa League final with Villarreal on May 26.

That game in Gdansk offers Solskjaer a chance to win his first piece of silverware as United boss, but he is not thinking about that game with two Premier League matches still to go.

"You know whatever team I pick against Fulham, it has to be a team that gives everything," he said.

"If you go into a game tentative, if you have something else in your mind, you don't fly into the tackles as you should, you don't sprint as normal, you don't maybe focus as much.

"There's more of a danger of getting hurt in that kind of position. We want to build momentum, we want to build confidence because of course we've lost the last two at Old Trafford.

"We don't want to go into an important game with bad momentum or a bad feeling, so we use these two games to get results but also to get confidence."

United have lost their final home league game of the season in just one of the previous 13 campaigns, doing so against Cardiff City in 2018-19.

The Red Devils have Daniel James and Anthony Martial back, but Harry Maguire and fellow centre-back Phil Jones are both out.

Roberto Martinez said Eden Hazard's condition is the best he's had for a long time after picking the Real Madrid forward in his 26-man squad for Euro 2020.

Hazard features in the squad despite the former Chelsea star continuing to endure a difficult spell with Madrid.

He has once again battled several injuries during the 2020-21 campaign, limiting him to just seven starts in 14 LaLiga appearances.

Those appearances have resulted in three goals and a pair of assists, with Hazard creating six chances for his team-mates in the league.

But Martinez is now satisfied with his fitness levels, with the focus for Hazard now on finishing the season strong for Madrid, who host Villarreal on Saturday knowing they must better Atletico Madrid's result at Real Valladolid to win LaLiga.

Hazard played just 13 minutes in Sunday's 1-0 win over Athletic Bilbao, touching the ball 18 times and without creating a single chance or having a shot at goal.

 

But Martinez told a media conference: "The situation with him is we know exactly where he is, his condition is the best he's had for a long time.

"The level of fitness is really satisfactory, we look also at how important he is for the national team. [It's] important he finishes the season strongly for Real Madrid." 

There are few surprises in the Belgium squad, with Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku, FA Cup final hero Youri Tielemans and Dries Mertens all selected.

Divock Origi misses out after a season in which he has been involved in only nine Premier League games for Liverpool.

De Bruyne's involvement in the Champions League final on May 29 will have no impact on their preparations for the rescheduled tournament, Martinez stressed.

"The date we'll meet is the 31st May and we'll be preparing [for] two friendlies," he added. 

"De Bruyne is [our] only player in the final and will be joining the squad on 7th June. Each player's individual needs are being catered for.

"Each player will have the same break and perfect preparation for the tournament."

Belgium begin their Euro 2020 campaign on June 12 against Russia in St Petersburg.
 

Belgium squad in full:

Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois, Simon Mignolet, Matz Sels.

Defenders: Toby Alderweireld, Dedryck Boyata, Jason Denayer, Thomas Vermaelen, Jan Vertonghen.

Wing-backs: Yannick Carrasco, Timothy Castagne, Nacer Chadli, Thorgan Hazard, Thomas Meunier.

Midfielders: Kevin De Bruyne, Leander Dendoncker, Dennis Praet, Youri Tielemans, Hans Vanaken, Axel Witsel.

Forwards: Jeremy Doku, Eden Hazard, Dries Mertens, Leandro Trossard.

Strikers: Michy Batshuayi, Christian Benteke, Romelu Lukaku.

Kevin Durant led the tributes for Kyrie Irving after the Brooklyn Nets guard helped his side to victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers to join an elite list of shooters.

Irving shot 8-of-10 from the field in Sunday's 123-109 win, was 1-of-2 from three-point range and a perfect 6-of-6 at the free throw line as the Nets secured the second seed in the Eastern Conference.

In doing so, the 29-year-old finished the regular season with a 50.6 field-goal percentage, 40.2 three-point percentage and 92.2 free-throw percentage, making him the ninth member of the 50/40/90 club.

He also joined Larry Bird, Stephen Curry and Durant as the only players to average at least 25 points per game during a 50/40/90 season.

Durant put up 23 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds against the Cavaliers, but he was more impressed by the achievement of Irving - one that he can see his team-mate repeating in the future.

"It's been a phenomenal season from Ky," Durant said in his post-game interview. "He's a guy who can get it from anywhere on the floor at any time at that size is remarkable. 

"Point guards that get 50/40/90 is just so much more impressive to me. I'm very happy for Kyrie, and I'm sure this won't be his last time."

Irving's coach Steven Nash, himself a four-time member of the 50-40-90 club, echoed the views of Durant.

"Kyrie has been incredible this year," he said. "So efficient, such a talented player who just makes incredible shots every night. 

"So, to be able to make those shots to create the space to take those shots, to convert at such an efficient rate, is incredible. He's a remarkable player and it's a remarkable accomplishment. I'm really proud that I can see it first hand."

The Nets were again without James Harden due to injury management, while Joe Harris missed a third straight game with a left gluteal strain. 

Nash is unsure if Harris will be available for his side's first-round playoff series against either the Boston Celtics or Washington Wizards, but Harden is expected to be available.

"I think James will be fine, but Joe might need a few days - I'm not really sure," Nash said. "I think it's about monitoring the situation. But there's a case where he may not practice the whole week - that's OK.

"He's played a lot of minutes this year and we want him to heal up as best he possibly can and kind of not have to chase this thing through the playoffs and have it linger. 

"So, if we can resolve it I'd rather he resolves it than practice this week. He can follow along and rehab and that would make me happy. But if he's able to practice I'm sure he will."

Youri Tielemans has been tipped to sign a new contract at Leicester City by Andy King after writing his name in the club's folklore with his stunning FA Cup final winner.

The Belgium international scored the only goal of Saturday's showdown with Chelsea in front of 21,000 supporters with a right-foot drive into the top-left corner from 25 yards.

Leicester survived a nervy finale to win their first ever FA Cup at the fifth attempt, making it one of the most famous days in the Foxes' history.

Match-winner Tielemans - the third Belgian to score in the showpiece after Eden Hazard in 2018 and Kevin de Bruyne a year later - was rightly acclaimed after the match.

The 24-year-old has impressed throughout the season for Leicester, who will now switch focus to trying to nail down a top-four finish and Champions League football when they face Chelsea again on Tuesday.

Despite rumoured interest from other Premier League heavyweights, former Leicester midfielder King believes Tielemans can achieve all his career aims by staying on at the King Power Stadium.

"It's important Leicester keep him. Only he will be able to tell you whether it's going to be difficult to keep him because you never know what certain players' ambitions are, but days like Saturday certainly help," King told Stats Perform.

"He knows he can win trophies at Leicester and he knows he can play in the Champions League - that's what all the top players want.

"So, you never know, especially with players who aren't from the UK, if they want to play in another country or try something new.

"But from what I've heard, read and seen, he is really, really happy here, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him sign some sort of new contract in the not-too-distant future. I'm not saying I know he's doing it, but it just seems the right fit.

"He's probably been Leicester's Player of the Season this year – he has been absolutely outstanding. He's got everything, and for someone so young to score the match-winning goal in an FA Cup final is amazing."

That stunning Wembley strike took Tielemans' goal tally for the season to nine in all competitions – six of those in the Premier League – and he has also chipped in with four assists.

The former Monaco midfielder, who has two years to run on his existing deal, is third behind Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (2,615) and Rodri (2,683) for passes attempted among Premier League midfielders this term with 2,355.

He also ranks ninth in the division for tackles by midfielders (74), joint-10th for tackles won (39) and joint-11th in terms of chances created (44), underlining his all-round ability in the middle of the park.

Manager Brendan Rodgers has been credited with getting the most out of Tielemans, who arrived for a reported club-record fee of £40million in July 2019, and King feels the former Liverpool boss can also play a part in keeping the player at the club.

"He really likes the manager," said King, who won the League One, Championship and Premier League titles during his time with the Foxes. "The manager really likes him as well and he's now playing the best football of his career.

"He's just won a trophy and [can still get] into the Champions League, so I don't think he will be in any sort of rush to get out of the situation he's in at the moment.

"The way Leicester are going now, with one of the best training grounds in Europe, plans to extend the stadium, he's going to enjoy all that. 

"He's young and has plenty of years ahead of him, so hopefully he can sign that new contract and carry on playing the way he is."

While Tielemans' strike will long live in the memory of Leicester supporters, goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel also cemented his status as one of the Foxes' all-time greats with some big saves against Chelsea.

Schmeichel turned Ben Chilwell's header on to the post and then somehow kept out Mason Mount's powerful shot en route to becoming the first goalkeeper to captain the winning side in an FA Cup final since David Seaman with Arsenal in 2003.

"Kasper is someone who is made for big moments," King said of his former team-mate. "He is driven to improve himself every day and improve those around him to make sure standards don't slip.

"He's vocal in the dressing room, and the best thing for us is that he really does love and care for the club. He cares about the owner and the supporters and will do anything to make sure Leicester win a game.

"He thrives off the big occasion and that save off Mason Mount is world class, an unbelievable save.

"I was sat right behind the shot, and just the sheer power on it, you think he might get a hand to it, but he's not going to be able to keep it out. He's a world-class goalkeeper."

Shohei Ohtani has been hailed as the "most physically gifted baseball player ever" by Boston Red Sox pitcher Matt Barnes after inspiring the Los Angeles Angels to a dramatic victory at Fenway Park.

Two-way star Ohtani hit a two-out, two-run drive in the ninth inning of Sunday's MLB showdown as the Angels beat the Red Sox 6-5 in the series finale to snap a four-game losing run.

Ohtani entered the frame in the final inning along with Mike Trout and, after the latter hit a bloop single to keep the game alive, Ohtani smashed a home run off Barnes for his second homer of the series.

In doing so, Ohtani denied Barnes his 10th save of the season - only four others currently have more than nine - and the Red Sox closer was impressed by what he saw.

"I personally think he's the most physically gifted baseball player that we've ever seen," Barnes said in his post-game interview. "I don't know that you're ever going to see someone who can throw 100-101 (mph) and hit the ball 600 feet. 

"He's a special player and incredibly talented. Hopefully, he stays healthy and has a long career."

Ohtani now has 12 homers this season, which is the joint-most in MLB alongside Mitch Haniger, Aaron Judge and Ronald Acuna Jr.

After his inspired display against the Red Sox, the 26-year-old's RBI count stands at 29 - the joint-12th best in the division - and his batting average .262.

"Coming off a losing streak and the first two games of the series, the way we lost, it wasn't a good way to lose," Ohtani said through a translator.

"So, it was huge for us and the team to come up with this. We showed that we can beat any team."

LeBron James insists he will be fit for the Los Angeles Lakers' play-in tournament showdown with the Golden State Warriors and believes Stephen Curry should be named the NBA's MVP.

The Lakers rounded out an injury-hit regular-season campaign with a 110-98 triumph over the New Orleans Pelicans, with James nailing 25 points at Smoothie King Center.

Despite a fifth straight win, the Portland Trail Blazers' 132-116 victory over the Denver Nuggets consigned the Lakers to seventh position in the Western Conference and having to go through the new play-in route involving the teams from seventh to 10th.

It means the Lakers have to win one of up to two games to make the playoffs, with their first opportunity to do so coming against the Warriors on Wednesday.

James' fitness for the fixture was shrouded in doubt when he appeared to aggravate the ankle injury that saw him miss 26 of the Lakers' final 30 regular-season games.

However, he insists it was just a "tweak" and fully expects to feature, saying: "I'll be fine.

"I'll be in the line-up on Wednesday. The time is now and I'm ready for it."

Having to go through the play-in may not be the ideal situation for the defending champions, who have been decimated by injury this term with both James and Anthony Davis missing significant periods of time.

But James says the team are feeling confident having begun to hit their stride at the end of the regular season.

"I don't look at our seeding. It doesn't matter," he added. "Obviously we know we wanted to play a lot better this season, but injuries took a toll on our team. 

"We're finally starting to get whole, starting to feel a little bit better about our situation."

In Golden State, James and the Lakers come up against a red-hot Curry, who scored 46 points in the Warriors' 113-101 win over the Memphis Grizzlies to secure the NBA's scoring title.

Curry finished the regular season with a scoring average of 32.0 and became the first player 33 years or older to lead the league in scoring since Hall of Famer Michael Jordan in 1997-98 (35 years at end of season and averaged 28.7ppg).

He also joined Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players with multiple scoring titles, MVPs and championships.

James has no doubt that Curry should be awarded with another individual honour.

"I mean, just look at what he's done this year. I don't know anything else if you're looking for an MVP. If Steph is not on Golden State's team, what are we looking at?" James asked.

"We get caught up in the records sometimes. We get caught up in the, okay, who has the best record instead of just saying who had the best season that year. And Steph has had, in my opinion, the best season all year."

NBA champions the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 110-98 but they did not avoid the play-in tournament.

LeBron James – who appeared to tweak his ankle – posted 25 points for the streaking Lakers, who claimed their fifth consecutive victory, however they did not end the regular season high enough in the Western Conference to bypass the NBA's new play-in format involving the seventh through 10th seeds in pursuit of the playoffs.

The Lakers needed help from the Denver Nuggets but the latter lost 132-116 to the Portland Trail Blazers, leaving the Los Angeles franchise seventh in the west and set to face Stephen Curry's eighth-seeded Golden State Warriors for a playoff berth.

Andre Drummond had a double-double for the Lakers, while Anthony Davis finished with 14 points for the Lakers, who will have to win one of up to two play-in games to clinch a regular playoff position.

Portland locked up the sixth seed and their eighth straight playoff berth, meaning they will go head-to-head with the third-seeded Nuggets in the opening round.

The Utah Jazz, meanwhile, clinched the NBA's best record (50-20) for the first time in their history.

Jordan Clarkson finished with 33 points and All-Star Rudy Gobert contributed 13 points and 16 rebounds for the Jazz, who eased past the Sacramento Kings 121-99.

The Jazz edged the Phoenix Suns (51-21), who pipped the San Antonio Spurs 123-121, for top spot in the NBA – the first time they have finished with sole possession of the league's best record.

 

Curry crowned scoring champ

Curry earned his second scoring title after posting 46 points in the Warriors' 113-101 win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Curry pipped Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal to the award, having finished the regular season with a 32.0 points per game average. Two-time MVP and three-time NBA champion Curry became the first player 33 years or older to lead the league in scoring since Hall of Famer Michael Jordan in 1997-98 (35 years at end of season and averaged 28.7ppg). The 33-year-old also joined Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players with multiple scoring titles, MVPs and championships.

James Harden was absent due to injury management, but the Brooklyn Nets still secured the second seed in the Eastern Conference with a 123-109 win at home to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Kevin Durant put up 23 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds. Irving added 17 points as he joined an elite list of shooters. Irving finished the regular season with a 50.6 field-goal percentage, 40.2 three-point percentage and 92.2 free-throw percentage – becoming the ninth member of the 50/40/90 club. He also joined Larry Bird, Curry and Durant as the only players to average at least 25 points per game during a 50/40/90 season.

The New York Knicks secured fourth position in the east via a 96-92 win over the Boston Celtics. The Knicks – back in the playoffs for the first time since 2012-13 – will have home-court advantage for their first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks, who routed the Houston Rockets 124-95.

The Wizards' season appeared dead and buried following an horrendous start, having acquired Russell Westbrook to team up with Beal. But the Wizards will face the Celtics as the eighth seed in the play-in tournament thanks to their 115-110 victory against the Charlotte Hornets. Westbrook recorded 23 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists, while Beal had 20 of his 25 points after half-time.

Tyrese Maxey flexed his muscles as Eastern Conference top seed the Philadelphia 76ers rested their stars in a 128-117 victory over the Orlando Magic. In the absence of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, Seth Curry and Danny Green, rookie Maxey had 30 points, seven rebounds and six assists. He became the only rookie this season with multiple 30/5/5 games – LaMelo Ball and Anthony Edward only had one such game.

Precious Achiuwa's career-high 23 points and 10 rebounds helped the shorthanded Miami Heat rout the Detroit Pistons 120-107. Tyler Herro (16 points and 11 assists) and Gabe Vincent also had double-doubles as the sixth-seeded Heat prepare to face third seed the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round in the east.

 

Houston's woeful season comes to an end

After a blockbuster trade sent wantaway superstar Harden to the Nets in January, the rebuilding Rockets crumbled. A crushing loss to the Hawks left the Rockets with a 17-55 win-loss record – their worst campaign since going 14-68 in 1982-83.

 

Sit back and enjoy!

The Nets produced a stunning piece of offense against the Cavaliers in the second quarter. After dispossessing Cleveland, Blake Griffin played a behind-the-back pass to Irving, who passed the ball ahead to Mike James. James tossed the ball off the backboard for Durant to slam down.

 

Sunday's results

New York Knicks 96-92 Boston Celtics
Indiana Pacers 125-113 Toronto Raptors
Washington Wizards 115-110 Charlotte Hornets
Phoenix Suns 123-121 San Antonio Spurs
Golden State Warriors 113-101 Memphis Grizzlies
Atlanta Hawks 124-95 Houston Rockets
Brooklyn Nets 123-109 Cleveland Cavaliers
Philadelphia 76ers 128-117 Orlando Magic
Miami Heat 120-107 Detroit Pistons
Chicago Bulls 118-112 Milwaukee Bucks
Minnesota Timberwolves 136-121 Dallas Mavericks
Los Angeles Lakers 110-98 New Orleans Pelicans
Oklahoma City Thunder 117-112 Los Angeles Clippers
Portland Trail Blazers 132-116 Denver Nuggets
Utah Jazz 121-99 Sacramento Kings

 

Play-in tournament

After a day off, the Eastern Conference play-in tournament gets underway on Tuesday. The Wizards will meet the Celtics in a seventh vs eighth battle, while the ninth-seeded Hornets face the 10th-seeded Pacers for a spot in the playoffs.

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