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'The furore over Tayla Harris photo' and more of the week's best sportswriting

Plus, a piece looking at the first-ever women’s match to main-event wrestling’s biggest night, which includes Ireland’s Becky Lynch.

Tayla Harris (file pic).
Tayla Harris (file pic).

1. “Aissa Mandi and Marc Bartra held their head in theirs hands, which is normal for defenders who’ve just conceded but Barcelona centre-back Clément Lenglet did the same, a few metres away. So did Sergi Roberto, watching from further back, both barely able to believe it. López, 6ft 2in, hadn’t even been far off his line, but he had been beaten for a fourth time, three of them by Messi. There was no culpability, just compassion. Maybe even a hint of pride; at least you were beaten like that and by him. López got up and blew his cheeks out, eyes wide: did you see that?!”

The Guardian’s Sid Lowe describes Lionel Messi’s latest stunning exploits for Barcelona.

2. “What would follow was also, unfortunately, all too familiar. On Monday, Channel Seven’s Australian Football League Facebook page posted a photograph of the player’s distinctive kicking action and captioned it “Photo of the year”. The comments came in thick and fast, as you would expect from a picture of that calibre. Yet most of them were not celebrating the moment, the athlete or the team that would go on to win that game and make the competition’s first ever finals series.”

Kasey Symons explains why the furore over Tayla Harris photo shows how vicious social media can be.

3. “Rice has naturally drawn most fire on this, having played for Ireland in friendly internationals before a likely England debut against Czech Republic or Montenegro. It is not hard to see how that line could have been blurred. Rice’s father is Irish enough to have his own collection of green souvenir shirts at home. Rice grew up in Surrey. In a football sense he is entirely a product of the Premier League. This is at the very least a legitimate point of identity for a teenager to wrestle with.”

Barney Ronay gives his thoughts on the dual nationality debate.

4.  “As Charlotte shored up her legacy and Becky barely buoyed her head above water, Ronda Rousey experienced some serious growing pains in those several weeks spanning her post-Rumble debut. Rousey’s physical tools were bona fide, but WWE’s biggest mistake in handling her early on was asking her to carry the burden of being a garrulous babyface. Like many crossover athletes who preceded her, Rousey’s gift of improvisational mudslinging within the claustrophobic quarters of UFC bouts, weigh-ins and deferential press opps did little to prepare her for connecting with an audience of tens of thousands of restless wrestling nuts assessing her every cadence and turn of phrase. Turns out her fists (and arms, and legs, and feet) did all the jousting for her at Mania 34, shutting up all her doubters within half a minute of being tagged in by partner Kurt Angle and unleashing hell on Stephanie McMahon and Triple H.”

Kenny Herzog of The Ringer looks at the first-ever women’s match to main-event wrestling’s biggest night, which includes Ireland’s Becky Lynch.

5. “Shane Warne reckons he’s noticed something about Rashid Khan. Perhaps it’s simply the idle rumination of a mind that never stops whirring. Perhaps it’s evidence that, when it comes to spin bowling geniuses, it takes one to know one. Either way, it’s worth hearing.”

The Independent’s Jonathan Liew interviews cricket legend Shane Warne.

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