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Phuket Gazette World Sports: Real Madrid vs Man United

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Phuket Gazette World Sports: Real Madrid vs Man United | Thaiger
Ronaldo in showcase as United come to town
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo faces former club Manchester United for the first time in a mouth-watering Champions League last-16 first leg at the Bernabeu tonight dripping in history and intrigue.

The world’s most expensive player has won over the Bernabeu faithful with some breathtaking performances and will have the perfect opportunity to showcase his talents against the Premier League leaders.

The managerial battle between Real’s Jose Mourinho and United’s Alex Ferguson is another fascinating aspect of the tie but Ronaldo’s bid to destroy his old team mates should take centre stage as two of the world’s biggest clubs lock horns.

Seen as a more mature and less selfish player, Ronaldo has a chance to live up to comparisons with former Real great Alfredo Di Stefano as he faces United for the first time since the club paid 94 million euros (80.4 million pounds) to lure him to Spain in 2009.

Now 28, he made his name in England after joining from Sporting as an 18-year-old in 2003 and went on to win the World Player of the Year award five years later.

He has been in scintillating form since the turn of the year and warmed up for the United game with a hat-trick in a 4-1 destruction of Sevilla, earning a rousing ovation from the home faithful when he was substituted late on.

It is a significant turnaround from a difficult patch earlier in the season when he raised eyebrows and prompted talk of an exit from the club by telling reporters he was unhappy “for professional reasons”.

Ronaldo said it was not about money and he and the club now appear to have put it all behind them so he can focus on helping Real secure the 10th European crown that has eluded them since their last triumph in 2002.

“The Champions League is very special at Madrid because we want to win a 10th European title,” Ronaldo said in an interview with British daily The Sun. “For me it is the pinnacle.

“There are so many memorable matches that remain in the minds of the players and the fans. I want to make my contribution, I want to leave my mark.”

Ronaldo spent six seasons with United and scored 118 goals in 292 games.

At Real he has netted 182 in 179 matches, a far higher goals-per-game ratio than Di Stefano’s 308 in 396 appearances in the 1950s and 60s when he helped the club to five successive European titles.

Wednesday’s match also renews the intriguing rivalry between Mourinho and Ferguson who have struck up a friendship over the years and are known to enjoy a glass of wine together.

“I feel privileged to be his friend because he is one of the most important people in the football world and, much more importantly, because he is a good person,” Mourinho said after watching United beat Everton 2-0 at Old Trafford on Sunday.

“Madrid-United is the match that everyone wants to see. The world won’t be watching any other Champions League games so I hope we can give the world what they expect.”

Mourinho has faced United twice at this stage of the Champions League, starting with Porto’s success on the way to winning the trophy in 2004.

As Inter Milan coach, the Portuguese lost to United in the last 16 five years later but during three years in London as Chelsea manager he suffered only one reverse to the Manchester club, winning five games and drawing four.

History favours Real. They have won three of their four previous European ties against United – in the semi-finals in 1956-57 and the quarter-finals in 1999-2000 and 2002-03.

United eliminated Real in the 1967-68 semi-finals.

Real have won eight of their last nine home Champions League games while United have been victorious only twice in 20 visits to Spain.

United defender Rio Ferdinand, who played in the last-eight game against Real 10 years ago, told UEFA.com any contact he had with Ronaldo had dried up as the European showdown approached.

“We’ve had a few texts but when you get into a situation like this when you’re coming up against a friend, all the texts and the conversations go to one side and you don’t really speak until you actually get the game over and done with,” he said.

Asked how United planned to thwart Ronaldo, he added: “You get as many people around the ball when he’s got it as possible!

“But no, Madrid are that good a side you have to make sure you’re set up right and that your team are in good positions all over the pitch to defend.”

The return leg is at United’s Old Trafford stadium on March 5.

Probable teams:

Real: 41-Diego Lopez; 17-Alvaro Arbeloa, 3-Pepe, 4-Sergio Ramos, 5-Fabio Coentrao; 14-Xabi Alonso, 6-Sami Khedira; 22-Angel Di Maria, 10-Mesut Ozil, 7-Cristiano Ronaldo; 9-Karim Benzema

Manchester United:

1-David de Gea, 2-Rafael, 3-Patrice Evra, 5-Rio Ferdinand, 15-Nemanja Vidic, 16-Michael Carrick, 23-Tom Cleverley, 8-Anderson, 7-Antonio Valencia, 10-Wayne Rooney, 20-Robin van Persie

Referee: Felix Brych (Germany)

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions

Tim Newton

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Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions | Thaiger

Three of Thailand’s biggest expat areas are seeing sharp rises in new infections, partly from pre-Songkran traffic. The Songkran holidays, now officially over (but will see many people taking today off and making a weekend Songkran extension), and the government says they are expecting to see a rise in the cases numbers reported in the popular holiday locations.

Chon Buri Public Health office says they now have a total of 910 infections since April 1. They have 103 new cases in the past 24 hours. Most new cases are in Bang Lamung district which includes Pattaya City with 47, Siracha with 12) & Chon buri City with 8.

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions | News by Thaiger

Meanwhile Phuket has a total of 142 infections recorded on the island with the Governor still insisting there will be no need for a lockdown. Here’s a breakdown of the areas and the numbers of recorded infections so far (below).

Governor Narong announced that the Phuket Infectious Disease Control Committee won’t be implementing an official lockdown, but will “strictly raise the intensity of public health measures to counter the spread of Covid-19″.

“Everyone should wear a face mask, maintain social distancing, wash their hands frequently and install the Mor Chana app (available for free from App Store and Google Play Store).”

A meeting of the CCSA, chaired by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is expected to upgrade restrictions in red zone areas around the country, which includes Phuket and Pattaya. Read more about the latest red and orange zones HERE.

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions | News by Thaiger

For Hua Hin expats, there’s been 100 new Covid-19 infections announced in Prachuap Khiri Khan in the past 24 hours, 75 cases from Hua Hin. This takes the total in the province since April 1 to 625. Hua Hin accounts for nearly 90% of the district’s total cases.

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Transport

Footbridges stop luxury yacht travelling from Phuket to Samui

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Footbridges stop luxury yacht travelling from Phuket to Samui | Thaiger
PHOTO: Thailand's version of the Suez Canal blockage.

Footbridges in Phuket stood in the way of a luxury yacht travelling from its home in Phuket to Koh Samui when the boat was too tall to pass. Police received a call around 8 pm last night from the truck driver after his trailer carrying the yacht had trouble getting under one of several bridges for walkers to pass over the highway. The boat was travelling down Thepkrasattri Road, where it was stopped by the bridge near Baan Tha Reua School. The boat also had trouble at the pedestrian bridge at the Provincial Electricity Authority Thalang Branch and the bridge at Baan Lipon School in Srisoonthorn.

All the bridges were supposed to have a 5-metre clearance, though one observer speculated that all the repaving of the road over the years may have raised the road and lowered the clearance. Traffic police responded to the first bridge incident by sending officers to direct traffic and make sure bikes and cars didn’t pass and impeded progress on freeing the boat. The second incident about 30 minutes later was resolved by letting air out of the truck’s tires to lower it just enough to pass under the bridge. The third snag prompted the driver to go in person to the Thalang Police station to request help yet again.

This time police were less amused and suggested the truck driver try to resolve the issue himself and call back to the police only if he was unable to free the luxury yacht. A traffic police officer went to follow up with the stranded boat at the end of his shift and found the driver had given up and decided to return the yacht to its Phuket origin at Boat Lagoon Marina in Koh Kaew. The boat, now damaged from the bridge bumps, wasn’t going to make it to Surat Thani to be sailed to Koh Samui on this journey. The boat radar had broken off on one of the bridges. No word on any major damage to the pedestrian bridges.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Hotel blog suggests Phuket should push ahead with July reopening despite Covid surge

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Hotel blog suggests Phuket should push ahead with July reopening despite Covid surge | Thaiger
PHOTO: Hotels and other tourism business are hoping the July 1st reopening goal can still be achieved.

A hotel information blog is claiming that, despite growing Covid-19 numbers, Phuket should stick to its schedule in reopening to travellers without quarantine in July. That’s only 2 and a half months away.

In an interview with the Director of Travel and Tourism Consulting at GlobalData, they stressed that while it is crucial to rein in the spread of Covid-19 and the B117 strain now menacing Thailand, the risk must not overshadow the need to push forward with vaccinations and the march towards eliminating the quarantine by July in order to save the tourism industry and all those dependent on it.

“The Phuket pilot program is essential in creating a path towards economic recovery for Thailand, a country heavily dependent on tourism. More than 17% of Thailand’s gross domestic product is attributed to tourism and the Covid-19 pandemic has lead to the worst economic free-fall in over 20 years”

The blog acknowledges the inherent risk and possible appearance of foolishness to prioritise the plans to reopen and carry on with the same rollout schedule. But they urge Thai authorities to consider that July 1 is still 2 and a half months away, leaving ample time to recover and make progress towards the approaching Phuket reopening. A vital aspect of the reopening plan lies in vaccinating over 70% of Phuket’s provincial residents, a sizable task, but one that brings great benefit with or without the scheduled reopening.

“Pushing ahead to achieve this goal puts Phuket on track to welcome back tourists, perhaps in a “bio-bubble”, and restart the economy. The economy is desperate with household debt growing, pushing the government to enact emergency decrees to provide relief. These households need the return of tourism and the influx of cash international tourists will bring.”

The blog hopes that Thai authorities can balance the necessary Covid-19 safety measures in Phuket to protect the Thai population with the economic need to bring back tourism. They believe that with sufficient measures in place, vaccinated locals could welcome vaccinated international tourists back to Phuket reopening safely in July.

SOURCE: Hotel News Resource

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