Shanice van de Sanden recalls her “crazy” path into football
She discusses Lyon’s quest for another two trophies this month
2023 “will be sick” says the Netherlands attacker
When she dances, every member of the Oranjeleeuwinnen pride dances. When she smiles, the whole room smiles with her. And when she’s not at the office sporting an all-orange or all-white uniform, everyone flashes I-wish-I-could-look-like-you envy-gazes into her magnetising sphere.
Shanice van de Sanden, indeed, turns up to post-cup final dinners looking not like she’s just tore across turf for 90 minutes, but come straight from a photoshoot for the cover of Vogue or ELLE. She’s the beguilingly photogenic, uber-charismatic, daringly-dressed empress of casual-chic – Shanice van de Sanden is football’s answer to Zendaya.
Oh, and she’s arguably as creative on grass. The girl born in the same city as Wesley Sneijder and Marco van Basten has registered five assists over her last two UEFA Women’s Champions League final appearances – preposterously, one every 17.6 minutes on average.
Another cup final beckons for Van de Sanden tomorrow evening – Paris Saint-Germain in the Coupe de France decider – while Bayern Munich await in continental quarter-finals later this month. Van de Sanden chatted to FIFA.com about her club’s quest for August jubilation, keeping herself fit during lockdown, her love of setting up goals, the Netherlands fans, the Tokyo Olympics and the next FIFA Women’s World Cup™.
FIFA.com: Shanice, firstly, how did you stay fit during lockdown?
Shanice van de Sanden: We had a lot of girls from the national team over in Holland – Jill Rood, Lieke Martens, Danielle van de Donk, Sari van Veenendaal, Kika van Es, Inessa Kaagman, Danique Kerkdijk and some others – so we trained with ten or 11 of us and that was quite fun. Even though we had to stay one-and-a-half metres apart, we could do some crossing, passing, running drills. That said, it was still hard to stay fit. You can do what we did, or go for a 5k run, but it’s not the same as proper football training. But if you’re mindset is alright, you’ll be fine. We had a great time. We trained twice a week together, on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and on the other days I went for a run and did some gym [work] at home. And I had my girlfriend at home, so we both did some Tabata and that was fun as well.
What else did you do to keep busy?
To be honest, I really needed the space. It was tough after the World Cup and my personal life had changed a lot over the last three years, so I needed the time out. I really enjoyed it and I also took the time to change my mindset because I had been struggling for the past year. You work really hard to give your best on the pitch, and if it doesn’t work out you get angry and sad. That’s what happened to me after the World Cup, so that’s why I really needed my space during Corona. I feel better for it.
Lyon were thrown right into the thick of it with Coupe de France semi-final. Next up is Paris Saint-Germain in the final on Sunday. What do you think of PSG?
PSG against Lyon is always a big game. I’m really looking forward to it. PSG were already very strong and they’ve added some new players. Ramona Bachmann is a player who can change a game. [Kadidiatou] Diani and Nadia Nadim are great forward players. Then they have Formiga in the midfield. They have a lot of very good players, but Lyon also have some of the best players. It will be really interesting to play in and to watch.
Speaking of finals, you’ve registered five assists in the last two UEFA Women’s Champions League finals. What makes Shanice van de Sanden work wonders in huge games?
I think I’m a player who was made for finals. I’m focussed on every single game, but finals give you that something extra. You’re so close to winning a trophy, so that’s why I give everything in my body for my team. Why shouldn’t you give absolutely everything? I push myself. I don’t need anyone else to push me. I know how it feels to win trophies and I want more of them. Sometimes I can’t believe that I’ve got five assists in two Champions League finals. I think it’s crazy. I’m really proud of that. Hopefully it’s going to happen again and hopefully I’m going to score a goal in one as well.
Does assisting a goal give you as much joy as scoring?
Yeah, for sure. When I’m through on goal, maybe I can score but if a team-mate is in a better position – even just one per cent better position – I will give the ball to her. I think that’s really important. It makes players closer to each other and the team stronger. I get a really great feeling when I give an assist, so for me it’s the same as scoring.
Lyon play Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals later this month. What do you make of Bayern?
They have a great team, they have some new players. I know a few of their players as well. They trained during the lockdown and they got back playing much sooner than us. They’ve just played the German league out, and that didn’t happen in France, so I think they will be quite fit. But we’ve been training really well for the last month and I think we’ll be ready for the game as well. I think it will be a great game.
Do you think that, given Ada Hegerberg’s injury and the format being single games in Spain, winning the Champions League this year would be Lyon’s biggest achievement?
Yeah, I think so. Usually, if you don’t play well in the first game, you have a chance to put it right, but now if we lose we’re out of the Champions League. It’s the same with the EUROs or the World Cup – anything can happen. It’s about the team that gets into the flow. We’re focussing on the first game – Bayern will be really tough – but if we win [the tournament] it will maybe be our biggest achievement.
What do you think of Hegerberg?
She’s a great player. It’s crazy to think she’s just turned 25 because she’s already achieved so much. She’s been so important for our team and she still is even when she is injured. It’s been a tough time for her, but she’s a strong person off the pitch and on the pitch. She’s so grown up.
Talking of youth, how did you get into football as a youngster and who were your idols growing up?
Actually, I was quite old – I didn’t play football until I was 12. One of the neighbours stopped by my mom’s house and said, ‘Shanice, why are you always at home, never outside making friends?’ I said I felt comfortable on my own at home. He said I should try football, asked a local football club if they had room for a girl on their team, and the day I started training that was it. Four years later I made my debut for the national team. It’s so crazy. When it’s over I will look back and think, ‘That was a crazy journey, people dream about doing this’. But my journey’s not over and now I am focussing on winning more trophies. Because football wasn’t really part of my life, I didn’t really have any idols growing up, but Cristiano Ronaldo is a player I have loads of respect for on and off the pitch. He’s one of my idols.
How was your FIFA Women’s World Cup experience last year?
The experience was great. It was a really big tournament, it brought a lot of attention on women’s football, and I think a lot has changed since the tournament in a positive way for women’s football. That’s something I’m really proud of. And I’m really proud of the silver medal. It was a tough World Cup, but we played well and got to the Final. I wanted to get more for the team. It didn’t come off for me, but everything happens for a reason and the silver medal is great.
What did you make of the Oranjeleeuwinnen fans at France 2019?
We were in the hotel, focusing on the games. But we’d see pictures, videos, everything on social media – everyone on the streets, all in orange, singing and dancing. It gives you a boost, something extra to play well for your supporters. That’s something I’m really proud of – our country is small but our supporters are everywhere.
This is in France. In Valenciennes. Just saying. Unbelievable! OUR SUPPORTERS ARE THE BEST OF THE WORLD. 🧡 https://t.co/t4V06FKOzC
Are you looking forward to playing in the Olympics?
I’m really excited to play in the Olympics. Making it to the Olympics is already a great achievement. We have to wait one more year, but I can’t wait. I’ve always wanted to play in the Olympics and now it’s going to happen. I always watched the Olympics on television. I used to watch all the sports because it’s a really great tournament.
Do you think the USA are on another level to the Netherlands?
I think the Netherlands can match them, but I think, for sure, the USA are something else. They’re far ahead of us in some ways, but I still think on the pitch, if we stay focused, we can give them a really good game. I think they win trophies because they have great players, a lot of experience, and a lot of support from their country. Hopefully this is going to happen with more countries, but you need time for this.
Ooooh, I can’t wait! I’ve always said to my mom and my friends, ‘I really want to visit Australia and New Zealand’. I’m really excited for this World Cup. It will be sick.
Finally, who do you think is the best player in the world right now?
That’s a tough one. [Megan] Rapinoe, of course she’s a great player, but [Dzsenifer] Marozsan, I see her every single day in training, and she is for sure one of the very best players in the world. Her technique, the things she can do… she is on another level.
Virat Kohli – ‘Yuzvendra Chahal was the one who changed the game’
Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli reckoned Yuzvendra Chahal‘s final over was where the match turned in his side’s 10-run victory against Sunrisers Hyderabad in their IPL 2020 opener.
Sunrisers were 121 for 2, needing 43 to win from 30 balls with Jonny Bairstow batting on 61, but Chahal took two wickets in 16th over – Bairstow included – to swing the match his team’s way. Earlier, Chahal had also got Manish Pandey to end a 71-run stand for the second wicket, and he finished with 3 for 18 in four overs and the Man of the Match award.
“We kept our composure tonight,” Kohli told Star, the host broadcaster. “When they needed 43 I think off five, just had a chat in the middle saying ‘no shoulders dropping till the last run is scored. The game can change anytime.’ And Yuzi comes in, the strike bowler that he’s been for us, and changes the game completely in that over.
“Not many other spinners got too much out of the pitch, but tonight he showed that if you have skill in the wrist, you can purchase on any track,” Kohli added of the Dubai International Cricket Stadium pitch. “That’s why he bowls well in Bangalore too. The dew was a big factor tonight, the pitch was decent to bat on in the second half I thought – much better than the first half. But the way he came in, backed his skill and got the ball to turn and bowled attacking lines. He was the one who changed the game, in my opinion.”
Chahal had a different plan for each of the three wickets he got, and all of them worked out. “When I bowled to Pandey I had the cover fielder back, so maybe he thought I’ll bowl outside offstump.” Chahal explained. “But that ball, I bowled on the stumps.
“For Bairstow, I knew that we need his wicket that over to come back into the game, even if I go for runs. That’s why I bowled it a bit fuller, but a bit on the legside, because it is very hard to hit from there since the ball is turning. And when Vijay (Shankar) came, Virat bhaiyya and AB (de Villiers) sir, we had decided that the first ball I will bowl a googly.”
Kohli said that the way his side had not given up even when the equation was in the Sunrisers favour augured well for the season.
“In the past if we had 43 off five, you would probably see shoulders dropping. The fact that we didn’t let the negativity seep into the bowling group even when there was dew and it was difficult to bowl, the guys kept believing and kept bowling attacking areas. Someone like Shivam (Dube) coming in and bowling three proper overs was an outstanding sign for us… a part-timer coming and doing the job means the guys want the opportunity, they want to be in pressure situations. And that’s the kind of mindset we want to be in.”
The Royal Challengers total was built on half-centuries from debutant Devdutt Padikkal and AB de Villiers, and de Villiers admitted to having doubts about his form coming into the game without having played competitive cricket for months.
“I surprised myself to be honest,” he said of his 30-ball 51. “As a 36-year-old to come here, without having played a lot of cricket, you do doubt yourself. But we worked really hard the last four weeks as a team and individually as well to get myself in some kind of form. Tonight was a very pleasing start. Unfortunately got run out there at the end but I’m pretty happy with the basics that seem to be in place.”
Chiefs survive mistakes to register sloppy win over Chargers
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs were nearly flawless in their Week 1 win over the Houston Texans. They proved Sunday they can win when things don’t go quite so smoothly.
The Chiefs were penalized 11 times for 90 yards, had a handful of dropped passes and struggled to get into any offensive rhythm until the second half of their 23-20 overtime victory over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. They also made the kind of mental miscues that generally leave coach Andy Reid seething in his postgame news conference.
One of them occurred when wide receiver Mecole Hardman didn’t touch down a defensive player following an interception — it wound up being a moot point because of a penalty. Another came when wide receiver Tyreek Hill removed his helmet after a long touchdown reception for what should have been a penalty; he claimed it already was coming off.
“I would never take my helmet off,” Hill insisted. “When I’m on the field it’s my responsibility to always keep my helmet on. That’s one of Coach Reid’s biggest pet peeves, taking your helmet off after a touchdown.”
Regardless, all the miscues left Reid with this assessment: “We have to do better,” he said. “There are no excuses.”
Especially in an empty stadium. The Chiefs should have had no problem with communication with fans barred from Sofi Stadium for the Chargers’ debut in their new digs because of the coronavirus pandemic. But they still had costly holding and offsides penalties along with a roughing the passer penalty in the fourth quarter.
The Chiefs managed to overcome the mistakes, though, thanks to another starring turn from Patrick Mahomes, a couple of crucial grabs by his wide receivers and a defense that was pushed around the first half but suddenly showed up.
“Obviously, we didn’t play the way we wanted to play,” Mahomes said, “but to find a way to win, I think that when you get to the playoffs or when you get later in the season and you try to make a run, not every game is going to be a blowout.”
Harrison Butker gives the Chiefs the chance to score points any time they cross midfield. His two 58-yard field goals, which matched Nick Lowery’s franchise record, included the game-winner in overtime. Butker already has made 11 kicks of at least 50 yards in three-plus seasons; Lowery hit 20 of them from 1980-93. And he passed Pete Stoyanovich for sixth in franchise scoring with 445 points; next up is Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez, who scored 462 points from 1997-2008.
“I mean, what can you say?” Reid said of Butker, who has hit a field goal in a Chiefs-record 16 straight games. “He’s a mentally tough kid and we appreciate him and how he goes about his job.”
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The secondary is woefully depleted. Bashaud Breeland is only halfway through his four-game suspension and fellow starter Charvarius Ward is still dealing with a fractured hand. Antonio Hamilton went down Sunday with a hamstring injury.
CB L’Jarius Sneed is looking like a fourth-round steal in last April’s draft. He’s been pressed into service because of injuries and suspensions and has risen to the occasion, picking off a pass in each of his first two games.
“That’s the reason why we went out and got him,” Chiefs defensive backs coach Sam Madison said. “He is able to run, he’s tall, he’s long and you look at our corners from last year, you know he just fit that mold.”
DT Chris Jones, who signed a four-year, $85 million deal in the offseason, was beaten regularly at the point of attack in the run game. He also was penalized for offside early in the game and roughing the passer on third down in the fourth quarter, giving the Chargers a first down and leading to a field goal that made it 20-17 with 2:30 left in the game.
RB Darrel Williams left with an ankle injury, DE Frank Clark was ill and WR Sammy Watkins took a blow to the head that drew Reid’s ire. “I thought it was questionable,” he said. “We’re not supposed to have those in our game here.”
28: That’s the number of wins the Chiefs have over the AFC West in their past 30 games.
Mahomes and the Chiefs visit Lamar Jackson and the Ravens in a matchup of 2-0 teams next Monday night. They were on a collision course in last year’s AFC playoffs before the Titans upset Baltimore in the divisional round. Kansas City then beat Tennessee in the conference title game before winning its first Super Bowl in 50 years.
David Benavidez vs. Roamer Alexis Angulo: Fight preview, prediction, start time, card, odds, Showtime Boxing
When ranking the most TV-friendly boxers in the game today, no list would be complete without unbeaten David Benavidez. It just so happens the 23-year-old is also one of the best fighters in the world at 168 and in possession of the WBC title he first won while still a teenager.
Or maybe we should say, was in possession. Two years after having been stripped of his title following a positive drug test for cocaine, only to win it back last fall, Benavidez (22-0, 19 KOs) missed weight on Friday and lost his title on the scales ahead of Saturday’s Premier Boxing Champions tripleheader (Showtime, 9 p.m. ET).
Benavidez was nearly three pounds over the 168-pound limit, meaning only his opponent, hard-hitting Roamer Alexis Angulo (26-1, 22 KOs) will be eligible to win the title at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Benavidez also declined the additional hour provided by the commission to try and shed the weight to keep his title.
“I put the blame on myself, the last three pounds wouldn’t come off,” Benavidez said after stepping off the scales on the Showtime weigh-in live stream. “Maybe it was not having the proper things I needed [during the quarantine]. It was just a couple of different things and I’m obviously disappointed but I still have a job to do tomorrow.
“I’m definitely 100 times angrier coming into this fight. I don’t have my belt no more and the best I can come out of this fight is winning.”
Benavidez will still get to showcase his pressure stye and doesn’t plan on changing his approach anytime soon.
“I really don’t feel any pressure. I’m going to continue doing what I have been doing since I was 18,” Benavidez told CBS Sports’ “State of Combat” podcast earlier this week. “I feel like that’s why I have got to where I am at. I won the belt when I was 20 years’ old. I just go out there and do what I do. I’m an exciting fighter and the fans love me. My style brings out exciting fights. I don’t shy away from a fight. I’d rather bring the fight and make it a war.”
Benavidez rebounded in resounding fashion when a personal setback cost him the title the first time around by stopping division stalwart Anthony Dirrell to regain his crown.
A native of Phoenix, Benavidez was quick to point out that Angulo has a style that is nothing like the counterpunching and technical boxing style of Dirrell, which only raises the expectations for violence when they touch gloves this weekend.
Anuglo, a 36-year-old Colombian with a big right hand, is peaking at the right time in his career despite his age. Although his lone defeat came two years ago in a title loss by decision to Gilberto Ramirez, he has won two straight including an upset of unbeaten Anthony Sims Jr. in January.
“This fighter Angulo is more of a pressure type of fighter,” Benavidez said. “He likes to go forward and throw a lot of big shots. It will be a different kind of game that I’m playing this Saturday. I feel like my fights are exciting when the person I’m fighting comes forward and forward. I’ve seen that type of style a lot in my career and I’m used to it. I’m looking to have a great fight.”
No stranger to the highlight reel, Benavidez made plenty of them in a 2017 knockout of Rogelio “Porky” Medina that saw him finish the fight with a flurry of clean punches that nearly reached double digits as Medina fell under the bottom rope and was counted out.
“That was probably one of my favorite knockouts I ever had,” Benavidez said. “I watch it quite a lot and I feel like [Angulo] is kind of a replica of ‘Porky’ Medina. He’s the same type of fighter who comes forward and throws big shots. It could possibly be the same night. I’m looking to have a spectacular performance.”
Tall for the division at nearly 6-foot-2, Benavidez has given up his height often to fight on the inside. He claims he hasn’t done so to a reckless degree, however.
“If you look at my fights very closely, by the time the fights are done I don’t come out with black eyes, I don’t come out with cuts,” Benavidez said. “It’s fighting in the pocket but it’s being very careful with your defense, too. Just because I’m fighting on the inside a lot doesn’t mean I’m taking the shots and just coming forward. Just because it’s hitting on the gloves doesn’t mean it’s hitting on your face and I feel like that creates room for counter shots and more room for opportunity like body shots. If I’m in close to the pocket, it’s definitely going to be a short night for whomever I’m in there against.
Benavidez believes he “put the whole division on notice” with his stoppage of Dirrell via cuts and hasn’t hidden his disdain for or intention of seeking a unification bout against IBF champion Caleb Plant. Those plans will be delayed due to Benavidez missing weight.
“That’s the fight that we want to make happen as soon as possible,” Benavidez said. “I don’t like him, he doesn’t like me and I want his belt. That’s the fight I feel like has been cooking up and that’s the kind of fight that fans are excited about. That definitely has to happen as soon as possible. That’s the fight I want and the person I want to knock out. When we get in the ring, it’s going to get ugly. Trust me. I’m going to end up leaving with his belt.
“He thinks he’s better than me. It’s just the way that he is. It’s his persona. Sometimes there are just these two dudes that don’t like each other. I don’t like the way he is and acts. I don’t like how he thinks he’s better than everybody. He thinks he’s going to rule the division and I’m not going to let that happen. This is my division.”
Also featured on the card are a pair of heavyweights looking to get back in the spotlight when Otto Wallin takes on Travis Kauffman. Wallin famously battled WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury ahead of his rematch with Deontay Wilder and cut Fury’s eye open early in the bout. Many were worried that the cut was bad enough that the fight could be stopped and put the Wilder rematch in jeopardy. Fury survived, however, and went on to win a very gruesome, bloody decision. It’s the only loss of Wallin’s pro career.
Kauffman has been in some brawls in his career, but at 34, his best days are behind him. He’s lost two of his last three, including a TKO defeat at the hands of Luis Ortiz in his last bout in December 2018. He’s only fought four times since 2016.
Plus, one of Floyd Mayweather’s rising prospects is back when Rolando Romero takes on Jackson Marinez for the WBA interim lightweight title in the co-main event. Romero boasts incredible power with 10 knockouts in 11 career wins. Marinez is no slouch himself, however, as he boasts an undefeated record at 19-0, though a more technical fighter with just seven career knockouts.
Fight card, odds
David Benavidez -1200
Roamer Alexis Angulo +750
Rolando Romero -550
Jackson Marinez +400
WBA interim lightweight title
While Angulo is certainly the clear underdog due to his lack of speed and overwhelming craft, he has proven an ability to demand respect with the threat of his right hand and lower his opponent’s output because of it. Whether that will give Benavidez any pause likely will be decided when Angulo is forced to fight at close range where his opponent excels with short combinations.
The propensity for fireworks is big in this one and Benavidez’s pressure style does welcome the threat of getting caught, like he did when he was dropped in the final round of his first meeting with Ronald Gavril that ended via split decision. The difference, however, is the advantages in speed and technique that Benavidez will hold in the pocket, which allows him to stand closer to fire without getting burned.
As long as Benavidez maintains his poise and avoids an emotional reaction to missing weight, this is still a fight he should win.