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Football

The Life of a Referee - 'I thought: 'How have I given that decision?''

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Pressure, pitfalls and pelted with cushions: Sport discovers what it’s really like to be a top-flight official

You’ve just made an error in your day job. Do you get [a] a quiet word in your ear from a colleague; [b] a reprimand and warning from corporate suits; or [c] tens of thousands of people screaming abuse at you and threatening you with everything under the sun? Welcome to the world of professional refereeing.

Capital One Cup Semi Final 1st Leg: Sunderland v Manchester United

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Tuesday January 7
Stadium of Light
Sky Sports 1 7.45pm

For two teams that have experienced their fair share of darkness in the first half of the season, the Capital One Cup suddenly offers both Sunderland and Manchester United – not to mention two managers with furrowed brows – a bright light on the horizon.

The Sporting Year Ahead: January and February

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After Lions success, Ashes glory (selectively speaking) and Fergie’s title-winning bow, 2013 is a tough act to follow. With a World Cup at its heart, though, the 12 months in store might just be up to the task. Read on for our pick of the action coming your way…

JANUARY

Football: Juan Mata interview

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Thiago Silva: 'Last season set the standard'

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Sunday September 22
PSG v AS Monaco
Parc des Princes
BT Sport 1 8pm

A Ferrari isn’t really designed for cobbled streets. It’s a typically Parisian problem, and one that has surely intensified since ‘the project’ began at the city’s main football club: Paris Saint-Germain. The supercar in question tonight is being driven by their Brazilian centre-back Thiago Silva.

Champions League Preview: Group A

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Subtitle: 
We break down Europe's elite, starting with Man United's dangerous opponents

Group A : United in concern

Let’s make no bones about this: Manchester United may be the top seeds here, but they have been handed a tricky enough opening section. Perfect timing for an already beleaguered David Moyes (picture 1), who makes his group-stage bow on the back of an unimpressive start to the Premier League season and a transfer window he would probably rather forget.

Nemanja Vidic: 'I'm still the same player'

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The Man United captain talks about the changes to the Old Trafford regime

Nemanja Vidic is singing. This is an unexpected turn of events, and we don’t know what to do with our face. Does he want us to laugh? It would certainly be comical if we weren’t so terrified, because Manchester United’s famously hard captain is softly performing a couple of bars of the song they play at the darts when someone lands a 180. His cold blue eyes are locked on ours throughout, and his mouth forms a shape that could be a smile or a snarl. What if he doesn’t want us to laugh?

Premier League: Everton v Chelsea

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Can the blues leave the blue half of Merseyside feeling... well, blue?

Saturday, 5.30pm
Goodison Park
Sky Sports 1

By common consent, Everton ‘had a good window’. While their best bit of business may have been the non-sale of Leighton Baines, they will undoubtedly be strengthened by the deadline day deals for Gareth Barry, James McCarthy and Romelu Lukaku, even allowing for the departure of Marouane Fellaini.

Zinedine Zidane: 'The one who caught my attention is Bale'

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Zinedine Zidane is – should you need reminding – a World Cup and European Championship winner, and a three-time FIFA World Player of the Year. He has been declared the best European footballer of the past 50 years by UEFA; he has held aloft the Ballon D’Or, and won the Champions League, two Serie A titles and one La Liga; and he is the one-time most expensive player in the world whose image has been projected on to the Arc de Triomphe.

Sergio Aguero: 'Messi should come to Man City'

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Sergio Aguero is exceptional in many ways. Though still only 25, his professional career is already 10 years old, with his debut for boyhood club Independiente coming at the ludicrously young age of 15.

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