Messi out until next year
Lionel Messi will probably not play again until next year. Barcelona said on Monday that the four-time World Player of the Year has another leg injury — his third of the season — and this time needs six to eight weeks to recover. That would rule Messi out until about Christmas, when La Liga takes its annual winter break. The Argentina forward sustained a left-hamstring tear on Sunday in Barcelona’s 4-1 victory at Real Betis Balompie, the latest setback for a player whose reign as the world’s best player had been largely injury free until the end of last season. A hamstring problem forced him to miss crucial games then as well and Barcelona struggled without him. This season, the 26-year-old forward hurt his left thigh in August and then was sidelined for three weeks with a small muscle tear in his right thigh sustained in late September. It is reason for concern for both Barcelona and Argentina, whose hopes of winning next summer’s World Cup largely rest on having Messi fit. “It’s worrying when a player injures himself in the same place,” Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella said. “Being injured so near the World Cup could be influential.”
UC Sampdoria fire Rossi
Former SS Lazio and ACF Fiorentina coach Delio Rossi has been sacked by UC Sampdoria, the Italian Serie A team said on Monday. Sampdoria dropped into the relegation zone following their third defeat in a row on Sunday at Fiorentina. The 52-year-old lasted less than a year, having only been hired in December last year. Youth team coach Francesco Pedone is to take over training until a replacement is found. Italian press speculation has linked Serbia coach Sinisa Mihajlovic, who previously coached Bologna, Catania and Fiorentina, with the post. Rossi becomes the third Serie A coach fired this year following Genoa’s Fabio Liverani, who was replaced by Gian Piero Gasperini, and Rolando Maran, succeeded at Catania by Luigi di Canio.
Llagostera Vives banned
Spain’s Nuria Llagostera Vives, a doubles winner at the 2009 WTA Tour Championships, has been banned for two years after testing positive for d-methamphetamine, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) said on Monday. Mallorca-born Llagostera Vives, 33, gave a urine sample at the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, California, in July where she was competing in the doubles, the ITF said. After analysis at a laboratory in Montreal, Canada, it was found to contain the prohibited substance. “An independent hearing was held [on Oct. 29], in which Ms Llagostera Vives ... was not able to demonstrate how the d-amphetamine entered her system,” the ITF said. “It was determined that she is suspended from participation for a period of two years.” Llagostera Vives, who has two career singles and 16 doubles titles, denied deliberately doping and suggested to the tribunal she may have inadvertently ingested d-methamphetamine by drinking from the wrong water bottle while training.
Samoa set up Fiji clash
Samoa beat France 22-6 in Perpignan, France, on Monday to secure second place in Pool B and a theoretically easier quarter-final draw in the Rugby League World Cup. Samoa next play Fiji in Warrington, England, on Sunday, while France must take on hosts England a day earlier in Wigan. Daniel Vidot, Anthony Milford, Pita Godinet and Junior Moors scored Samoa’s tries in a dominant, although at times brutal, display, while Morgan Escare notched France’s lone score.