Alaves 1-1 Sevilla: Points shared as Sevilla miss chance to return to top

Alaves and Sevilla ongoing their remarkable form by sharing the spoils in a 1-1 draw in the Basque nation on Sunday night time.

Despite all the pre match hoopla ahead of the next as opposed to fifth clash, there wasn’t much to get the fans thrilled in a uninteresting opening fifty percent an hour at the Mendizorrotza.

The hosts initially went close just earlier the 30 minute mark when Ruben Duarte’s speculative work forced Tomas Vaclik into a save but it was Sevilla who must have went in front before long after.

A neat one-two involving Wissam Ben Yedder and Andre Silva resulted in the former poking the ball past Fernando Pacheco but sad to say for him, it also went earlier the post.

Then, on 37 minutes, Alaves managed to split the deadlock. Jonathan Calleri was in an offside position when the ball was headed forwards but a contact from Sergi Gomez performed the forward onside and he was in a position to square the ball to Jony who fired it into the roof of the net.

Like the initially period, the next took a even though to get going but two probabilities in two minutes just after the hour mark must have witnessed Sevilla pull level.

First, Silva performed in Quincy Promes but his dinked shot strike the side netting just before Ben Yedder’s pass found Franco Vazquez, even so, his shot was blocked by Pacheco.

With 12 minutes remaining however, Los Nervionenses did level the scores. Pablo Sarabia climbed off the bench to send out a cross into the box with Ben Yedder finding in ahead of Pacheco to flick the ball into the back again of the net.

Pacheco was forced into a further save by Silva when his looping header virtually outfoxed the keeper, forcing him to tip the ball over the bar.

The last opportunity of the game went the way of Alaves who have been inches absent from profitable it with Darko Brasanac’s header coming back again off the inside of of the post into the grateful arms of Vaclik.

Sevilla are now a point behind Barcelona at the leading with Alaves climbing back again earlier mentioned Real Madrid into fourth palce.

Alaves: Pacheco Martin, Ximo, Laguardia, Duarte Garcia, Pina, Wakaso (Brasanac, 74) Ibai (Sobrino, eighty three), Calleri (Guidetti, ninety), Jony

Sevilla: Vaclik Carrico, Kjaer (Sarabia, sixty nine), Gomez Mercado (Promes, fifty eight), Banega, Mesa (Amadou, forty six), Vazquez, Escudero Silva, Ben Yedder

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La Liga Latest (Barcelona): Rafinha ready to leave; De Jong to join PSG

Brazilian midfielder Rafinha invested final term on bank loan with Inter Milan but returned to the Camp Nou with the ambition and guarantee of generating it less than Ernesto Valverde.

A absence of participating in time, inspite of featuring against Real Madrid final month – has due to the fact modified their ambition and it has now emerged the moment a lot more that desires to go away the club.

His father Mazinho, who also functions as his agent – has told reporters that the midfielder is perplexed at not getting chosen by Valverde.

Frenkie De Jong appears a lot more probable to be a part of Paris Saint Germain, according to studies on Wednesday throughout Europe.

The Dutch midfielder has emerged as one particular of European foitball’s most popular prospects, prompting the likes of PSG, Barca, Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea to all call Ajax.

Barca experienced emerged as favourites as they appeared to seal a deal for both of those De Jong and Matthijs De Ligt, on the other hand, it now would seem that PSG are closing in.

Reports on Wednesday have claimed that Philippe Coutinho’s go to Barcelona associated a premium which ensured that Barca do not sign any more players from Liverpool.

To do so, the Catalan aspect would have to fork out £89m for their required player.

Meanwhile, Coutinho took element in Barcelona’s training session on Wednesday early morning and is set to be offered the green light-weight in advance of this weekend’s fixture with Atletico Madrid.

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Real Madrid-Barcelona Clasico in New York ‘not viable’ – La Liga president

Sports chairman Charlie Stillitano explains his vision to establish and encourage the La Liga brand name by way of games performed in the U.S.
La Liga president Javier Tebas has defended options to stage a regular-season game in the United States beginning this season but insists the Clasico involving Real Madrid and Barcelona will not be the one particular chosen.

Tebas signed a fifteen-year agreement with Relevent, the organisers of the Worldwide Champions Cup, to encourage the sport in North The us and broaden La Liga’s brand name.

As element of the offer, a league game will be performed in the United States but no even more details with regards to date, locale or which groups will be involved, has been announced.

“No,” Tebas advised El Mundo when questioned if a Clasico could be performed in New York or Beijing, where by La Liga is also seeking to have a greater existence. “Logistically, the Clasico in New York is not feasible. At minimum the league Clasico.”

The summertime of 2017 saw the to start with-ever Clasico performed in the U.S. when Real Madrid and Barcelona faced off in Miami throughout the Worldwide Champions Cup.

A variety of players from the top rated sides, including Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos and two of Barcelona’s leaders, Sergi Roberto and Sergio Busquets, achieved on Wednesday in Madrid and have been “unanimously” against La Liga’s options to stage a game outside of Spain.

The Spanish Footballers’ Affiliation (AFE) is upset with La Liga for not remaining consulted and does not rule out a strike.

“We have a meeting with La Liga in September but I never think it will serve for anything,” AFE president David Aganzo advised Onda Cero radio.

Tebas has defended the lengthy-phrase agreement and suggests La Liga’s worldwide approach is essential to appeal to foreign buyers to Spanish clubs. The Premier League is deemed the most financially rewarding opposition in Europe even though La Liga is a distant next.

Under Tebas, La Liga has strengthened the finances of its forty two to start with and next-division groups and are pushing for the league to capture the Premier League in purchase to match its financial power.

“The figures are there,” Tebas mentioned. “In 4 many years we have trebled our worldwide (Tv) legal rights value.

“La Liga’s strategies are various dependent on the locale. What we do in the United States is fully various to what we do in Germany, Poland or Russia, where by we have had splendid results in the past couple months.

“That diversification makes us pioneers in the world. Only the NBA does anything comparable. Though the purpose is not just that but also to improve our worldwide sponsors.

“Appropriate now there are only two groups that seriously expand, [Real] Madrid and Barca, and one particular that does so slowly, Atletico Madrid. We have to function so that foreign sponsors get there at Valencia, Villarreal or lately-promoted aspect Huesca. Why not?”

Serious Valladolid president Carlos Suarez sees the neighborhood fans as the only types to lose out by La Liga’s options to play a league game abroad.

Suarez, whose aspect returned to La Liga soon after a 4-year hold out, reveals in an interview with Onda Cero radio that “the players would like a job to go abroad and stand for their team.”

Spain’s sports minister, Jose Guirao, suggests that La Liga must find a way to broaden abroad with no its passions conflicting with the home-primarily based fans.

“La Liga has a large repercussion abroad,” Guirao mentioned as noted in Marca. “A person of the greatest pictures of Spain is by way of the Spanish football league and it can be very critical.

“I would also say, as I would inform any citizen, that I want to know what I obtain, how significantly it charges and what I’m purchasing it for.”

Valencia’s minority shareholders (APAVCF) have announced in a statement that they will file a lawsuit against La Liga and its president, Tebas, if a league game is performed in the United States this season.

According to APAVCF, La Liga’s final decision would hurt financially, morally and socially the season-ticket holders, fans and club shareholders.

The APAVCF have asked for that the Spanish Sports Ministry, the Royal Spanish Football Federation, the Spanish Footballers’ Affiliation and the Fans users teams to oppose La Liga’s options to have a game performed abroad.

Barcelona would get additional credit score for topping La Liga in nearer race – Valverde

Ernesto Valverde suggests Barcelona‘s achievement in La Liga would be specified additional credit score if there was not such a big gap between his side and the chasing pack.

Barca stay unbeaten in the league this season and sit eleven points clear of Atletico Madrid going into Tuesday’s game at Celta Vigo. They want just 7 points from their remaining six fixtures to protected their seventh title in 10 years.

Having said that, last week’s unforeseen Champions League elimination to Roma has introduced their season into broader target. The Spanish push has accused Valverde of mismanaging his methods whilst Barca’s position at the prime of the table has been brushed underneath the carpet.

Luis Suarez moaned right after Saturday’s win against Valencia that it feels as if “successful the league has dropped its merit” since of Barca’s European exit. And Valverde on Monday mentioned he believes matters would be seen in different ways if Barca hadn’t streaked clear of their rivals, sapping the excitement out of any prospective title race.

“Perhaps it really is [since of] the position we’re in,” Valverde mentioned in a information convention when requested if he felt Barca’s achievements in La Liga ended up remaining undervalued.

“If we ended up second, 1 point off the leaders, they would be providing a large amount additional benefit to [successful] the league title.”

Not only are Barca on the cusp of successful their 25th league title, but they also could become the first-at any time side to go an complete season in Spain’s prime flight unbeaten.

On Saturday, they face Sevilla in the Copa del Rey remaining, also, with the chance of a second double in 3 years a very real prospect.

“Our first aim is to win La Liga,” Valverde extra. “But if we can do it without the need of shedding, that would be terrific since no 1 has at any time managed to do that. We know that it really is so tough, so tough, while, and that’s why no 1 has performed it.

“It is thrilling, but so is the double, which we also have an opportunity of successful. But I want to say: we have not achieved something nevertheless. Let’s see if we can get a further stage forward against Celta.”

Barca’s journey to Balaidos signifies their sixth game in just 16 days and Valverde verified there would be improvements in Galicia with the weekend’s cup remaining in thoughts.

Ivan Rakitic is the only player sidelined by way of injuries as he recovers from an operation on a damaged finger, but the coach mentioned Lionel Messi was amid a number of other players who could be specified a rest.

In just about every of the last two seasons, Barca have been beaten in Vigo, conceding 4 goals on just about every event. In addition, Celta is now coached by Juan Carlos Unzue, Luis Enrique’s previous assistant, which the Blaugrana boss conceded could support give them an inside observer.

“Unzue appreciates our players and he appreciates what Celta have performed to do damage to Barca in current years,” Valverde mentioned. “In that perception, it really is an advantage for them and it could ailment the game.

“But I really don’t seriously have [individuals defeats] on my thoughts, even if I am mindful of them. We’ve presently played them 3 times this season and we know how good they are. They’re combating for Europe and have performed very well at home against the other prime groups this season, like Sevilla and Real Madrid.”


Copa del Rey should be called as off if anthem is whistled


Lionel Messi’s 89th-minute equaliser preserved Barcelona‘s unbeaten run as they arrived from at the rear of to draw 2-2 at Sevilla. Check out the match highlights below.
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi net proper at the death to be certain visitors maintain unbeaten run in La Liga. Appreciate the match goals below.
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi just about each scored in a lot less than a minute late in the 2nd fifty percent for Barcelona in their 2-2 draw with Sevilla.
La Liga president Javier Tebas has proposed that officers really should call off the Copa del Rey last amongst Barcelona and Sevilla on April 21 if Barcelona fans whistle the Spanish national anthem as it is performed prior to kickoff.

Barcelona goes into the game at Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano wanting to win a fourth consecutive Copa trophy — and with fans of the Catalan side’s alleged “disrespect” for institutions, such as Spain’s King Felipe VI, having come to be an annual conversing point around just about every showpiece occasion.

This years last comes amid extra political tension, with Spain’s national govt having used report one hundred fifty-five of the country’s constitution to impose immediate rule more than Catalonia in Oct amid a push towards independence in the Catalan regional parliament.

Talking to El Discussion de Hoy, the La Liga main reported that although the Spanish federation (RFEF) is in demand of the Copa levels of competition, his particular perspective is that the authorities’ position is to be a certain respect for symbols of the Spanish country.

“I have generally reported there really should be punishments, such as stopping the game,” Tebas reported. “I am not saying it is foreseen that [the anthem] will be whistled. But if almost nothing significantly changes, then report one hundred fifty five really should be enforced at the Wanda Metropolitano. This would display that during these times, we are respecting the symbols of the country.”

Tebas made an identical call in 2015 forward of the last amongst Barcelona and Basque aspect Athletic Bilbao, with no action taken on that working day when the anthem was whistled at the Estadio Vicente Calderon.


We can definitely beat Barca – Jemez

We can definitely beat Barca – Jemez

Las Palmas Manager, Paco Jemez has insisted that his team can definitely pull a shocker by defeating league leaders, Barcelona when the two sides clash on Thursday evening.
Although he is aware of the huge difference between the two teams in terms of budget and standing, the 47-year old Spanish tactician believes that he has a squad he can trust to do the damage.
“I have made it clear to my players that I will not forgive any cowardice, we must go out and give our all,” Jemez told his pre-match press conference.

“However, if I had the template to beat Barcelona then I would not be a Coach, I would be selling the formula to every other team!
“That being said, I will select a team who can compete against Barca and fans do not care about budgets, they just want to see their players compete in the best possible way.
“We want to show we have more ability and quality than we have in recent games and the players are not silly, they know they can give more than they have done.”


Valverde: It’s high time we began to question these unfair schedules

Valverde: It’s high time we began to question these unfair schedules

Barcelona Manager, Ernesto Valverde has criticized the Spanish La Liga FA for scheduling the club games on Thursday and then on Sunday with only two days’ rest.
The League leaders will travel to Las Palmas tonight and then return for their top-of-the-table clash with Atletico Madrid this weekend with Diego Simeone’s side having an extra day rest having defeated Leganes 4-0 on Wednesday to reduce the difference between the two sides to four points.
While speaking at his pre-match conference, the former Athletic Bilbao boss said: “Our full focus is on our game at Las Palmas, we cannot look beyond that.”

“I never like to think about our plan for games in the future, every match in the league is worth three points and thinking about Sunday’s game will not benefit us at all.
“The schedule for us this week is tough and it is against us, there are many questions regarding this but it undoubtedly does not benefit everyone from a sporting point of view.
“We have to play a day later than Atletico do and then we have a long journey back, it is not Atleti’s fault and I’m sure they will point to the Europa League games they have to play.
“However, we are discussing La Liga and the league must be consistent – they should have had Sunday’s match in mind!
“Resting players? It’s a possibility, but I cannot say for sure.”


Manchester United get greenlight for Benzema

Manchester United get greenlight over La Liga star

Manchester United has been contacted by La Liga Champions, Real Madrid over a likely deal to take Karim Benzema to Old Trafford in a likely £53.2million deal in the summer.

The former Lyon striker has been a consistent goal poacher for the past few seasons in Europe and since he completed his move from his boyhood club, Lyon to the Spanish capital way back in 2009, he has scored 187 goals alongside 108 assists since then to win three Champions League title, two Spanish League title amongst other local titles.

However, he’s struggled for form this season as the 30-year old striker has only 2 goals to his name so far and reports are emanating that the European Champions might just decide to replace the forward with a younger addition and cash in on him.

According to speculations from TeamTalkare, it was categorically stated that Real Madrid has been in talks with the Manchester club over a possible transfer that involves the French forward.

The Spanish News Agency reported that Madrid president, Florentino Perez met with United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward to discuss the transfer of Benzema to England in a £53.2m deal

It is believed that this will help Los Blancos land their major target for many transfer windows David De Gea as soon as the window opens again at the end of the season, however it is unclear if United will be interested in listening to such offers.


Alaves appoint Abelardo Fernandez as third manager of season


Abelardo Fernandez will have a tough job keeping Alaves in La Liga.

Alaves have appointed their former player Abelardo Fernandez as their third coach of the season.

The 47-year-old replaces Italian Gianni De Biasi, who was sacked earlier this week after barely two months in charge.

He replaced Luis Zubeldia in September.

Abelardo takes over a side who have picked up just six points from 12 La Liga games this season, leaving them rooted to the foot of the table and already six points adrift of safety.

A club statement read: “Alaves have completed the appointment of Abelardo Fernandez as the club’s new coach. The coach returns to the club after his spell as a player.

“He has experience of being at clubs with the aim of staying up and takes charge until the end of the season.”

Former Spain defender Abelardo represented Alaves during the 2002-03 season at the end of his playing career, having previously spent eight years with Barcelona and five years with hometown side Sporting Gijon.

Sporting are also the club he has spent most of his coaching career with, including a spell as head coach between 2014 and 2017.

Javier Cabello took charge of the team on Thursday night as they beat Getafe 3-0 in the Copa del Rey.

Alaves go to Girona in La Liga on Monday.


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Gareth Bale injury problems not pyschological – Real Madrid’s Zidane


Stevie Nicol provides his thoughts on transfer rumours about David Luiz, Emre Can and a few top players at Arsenal.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has said he does not believe Gareth Bale’s continuing injury problems are psychological.

Zidane confirmed that muscle problems will again rule Bale out against Athletic Bilbao on Saturday, adding that he could not say when the Wales international winger would return.

Bale came back from two months on the sidelines in Tuesday’s Copa del Rey game at home to Fuenlabrada, but felt further pain in a calf muscle afterwards.

He has not trained with his teammates since amid reports of disagreements between the player and club medical staff about the exact problem.

Asked at Friday’s news conference whether Bale’s problems were psychological, Zidane said: “I don’t believe so.

“He has felt some pain, it is not much, and as he has been out for a long time it is difficult. I hope it is just a physical issue and that he just has a little problem and nothing more.

“I think he needs to train with the team, get into the team dynamic, and for me that is the most important. I hope he is back with us quickly.”

The coach suggested that Bale’s return date would be up to the player, saying: “He is very powerful and he needs to be right to play.

“He cannot feel pain. When this happens, we cannot take risks. Plus it is his calf muscle, like so many times before, and the doctors are looking for a solution to the problem.

“As I am a positive person, I do not think anything bad will happen. I have told Gareth that he will come through this.

“We will look after him until he feels well, as he is an important player and what he has done is phenomenal. It [his return] depends on him. I cannot give you a date. I hope it is next week. He is the first who wants to be with us.”

Club captain Sergio Ramos is set to return after a fortnight out with a broken nose, but attacker Marco Asensio remains sidelined with a thigh complaint.

“Sergio will be there,” Zidane said. “He is back with the group and feeling very good.”

Athletic have drawn two and lost three of their last five La Liga games and were knocked out of Copa del Rey by third tier Formentera, leading to pressure on coach Jose Angel Ziganda.

But Zidane said: “We expect a difficult game, we know this stadium, this team, but we are ready to play well.

“This has been a very good week. We are going there excited to play a good game.”

Athletic goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga is a reported Madrid target, but Zidane rejected the idea that he would rather have him in his team than Keylor Navas.

“I have the best here,” he said. “Keylor is the best. I will be with him, with Kiko [Casilla], with those I have here.

“Kepa is a good goalkeeper, but he is not my goalkeeper. Later, we will see what happens in the transfer market.”

Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan


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Javier Mascherano doesn’t want to repeat Liverpool mistakes at Barcelona


The FC panel critique Gerard Deulofeu’s performance against Valencia and his difficulties contributing in the Barca attack.
Barca manager Ernesto Valverde vents his frustration with the officiating from the Valencia clash that saw Messi’s goal erroneously not given.

Javier Mascherano has said he does not want to repeat the mistakes he made at Liverpool so is already planning his Barcelona exit, with this likely to be his final season at Camp Nou.

Mascherano joined Barca in 2010 but has regrets about the way he pushed through his Anfield departure seven years ago after a transfer to Rafa Benitez’s Inter failed to materialise.

Barca’s interest came late in the transfer window and the Argentine had to fight to get his move, which he feels tainted his relationship with the Premier League club.

Now he wants to learn from that mistake and leave Barca on better terms.

“I think my time [at Barca] is coming to an end,” he told ESPN. “It’s logical that, after so much time, I don’t have long left at the club. But I don’t say that with any hard feelings, completely the opposite. I think I have had the most wonderful years of my career at the club. I’m never going to forget it.

“But I’m one of those people that think that you have to know when to end something. And I would like to be able to end it at the right time. That will not depend completely on me, but I’m of that inclination because when I left Liverpool it wasn’t good for me, and I didn’t like it.

Javier Mascherano is currently sidelined through injury.
Javier Mascherano swapped Liverpool for Barcelona in 2010.

“I didn’t like having the feeling that I could go back to Liverpool and there was still something toxic there. And I don’t want the same thing to happen to me at Barcelona.

“I didn’t leave Liverpool in the best manner. I didn’t like it but it was my chance. There wasn’t going to be another. A club like [Barca] doesn’t come for you two years running. If you say no, they get someone else. That’s the reality. So I fought for it and here I am.”

Mascherano originally joined Barca as cover for Sergio Busquets following Yaya Toure’s Manchester City switch, but he has plied his trade in La Liga as a centre-back.

“I have played a lot more games as a central defender than as a midfielder,” he added. “It’s an issue for me because during the best years of my career I didn’t play in the position that I like the most. All my life I have considered myself a midfielder. If I had my [own] team, I would play in a midfield role.”

It was Pep Guardiola who originally dropped Mascherano back into defence. And while he says he would prefer to play in midfield, he realises his longevity at Barca is owed to that positional change.

“Pep changed my role and didn’t give me even a chance [to prepare],” Mascherano remembered of being thrown in at the deep end in a Champions League game against Shakhtar Donetsk.

“I had zero experience in that role but it happened naturally. That’s part of evolution, to be ready to realise that in a midfield position I would have few opportunities to play.

“So I had to find a place in defence, hold onto that and fight to play more. It’s very clear to me that had that change of position not occurred, I would have been out of Barcelona many years ago.”

Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.


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Málaga vs. Levante – Football Match Report – December 1, 2017


Malaga remain deep in relegation trouble in La Liga following a goalless draw at home to Levante.

Adrian Gonzalez had the best chance of the match, seeing an effort come back off the post in a second half which the hosts dominated.

But Malaga had to settle for a draw that leaves them third bottom in the table, four points from safety.

Levante, hammered 5-0 by Atletico Madrid in their last league outing, had an early shot on goal from Shaquell Moore which Roberto comfortably dealt with.

Gonzalez was a threat all game and fired over before seeing an effort well saved at the start of the second half.

The midfielder then rattled the post from a difficult angle but Levante almost stole the win at the death, Nano Mesa bringing a fine save out of Roberto following a break.


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Pako Ayestaran leaves Las Palmas after six La Liga games in charge


Pako Ayestaran
Pako Ayesteran’s spell at Las Palmas was short-lived.

Struggling Las Palmas have fired coach Pako Ayestaran following Wednesday’s 3-2 home defeat to Deportivo La Coruna in the Copa del Rey.

Ayestaran, who took charge on Sept. 27 with the club in 15th place, led the team to just one point from a possible 21 in La Liga.

Despite Las Palmas progressing 6-4 on aggregate to the next round of the Copa after the loss to Depor, the club decided to part ways with the coach.

A Las Palmas club statement said: “Following the meeting of Las Palmas’ administration council after Wednesday’s Copa del Rey game against Deportivo La Coruna, the club has decided to dismiss Pako Ayestaran as coach of the first team.

“The club wishes to thank the Basque coach for his work and dedication in charge of the team since his arrival at the end of September.

“Until the club announces the new coach, Paquito Ortiz and Rafa Cristobal will be in charge of the team.”

Ayestaran, a former coach of Valencia, inherited a difficult job when he replaced Manolo Marquez at the helm in September.

The club’s only win under him was a 4-1 triumph at Depor in the first leg of their Copa del Rey tie.

They lost seven times in nine games in all competitions while he held the reins.

Las Palmas are 19th in the standings with seven points from 13 games heading into Sunday’s home game against Real Betis.

The Canary Islands-based club expect to appoint a new coach before the weekend.

Las Palmas president Miguel Angel Ramirez said in a news conference after Ayestaran’s dismissal: “We weren’t thinking of making a coaching change but after a two-hour meeting the decision was a unanimous one.

“Having arrived to this situation, we are hoping to get a new coach in the next 24 to 48 hours.

“I can only apologise to the fans because we are not achieving what we intended to do. We need a coach that will turn things around.”

Paco Jemez, who left Mexican side Cruz Azul after one season in charge earlier this month, is the main candidate to replace Ayestaran.

Jemez, who guided Las Palmas in the 2010-11 campaign, revealed he has been contacted by this former club but also has other offers on the table.

A reported target of La Liga side Alaves, Jemez told Onda Cero radio: “He [Ramirez] called me [last night] but I couldn’t answer because I was busy.

“This week I will answer all the offers that I have received. I have to evaluate whether I want to coach so soon after leaving Cruz Azul or rest.”

Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.


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Antoine Griezmann partnership good for Atletico Madrid – Kevin Gameiro


Kevin Gameiro and Antoine Griezmann combined to great effect as Atletico Madrid beat Levante.

Atletico Madrid forward Kevin Gameiro said his partnership with Antoine Griezmann was “good for the team” after both France internationals scored doubles in Saturday’s 5-0 La Liga win at Levante.

Atletico had struggled for goals all season with coach Diego Simeone regularly changing personnel and tactics in attack, and Griezmann himself recently going eight games without finding the net.

However, with Gameiro back in the starting XI for the first time since late October’s disastrous 1-1 home Champions League draw with Qarabag, Atletico rolled over a Levante side who gave them an early helping hand through Rober Pier’s own goal after just five minutes.

“It was like last season, this hadn’t happened for a long time,” Gameiro told BeINSPORTS.

“You can see that when we play together it is very good for the team. This time we were both able to score. This result will give us a lot of confidence for future games. We all know how football is. When we forwards score things go much better for everyone.”

Last season the pair regularly linked up well with Griezmann providing six assists for Gameiro, who himself laid on seven goals in return.

More recently Griezmann played in Gameiro, on as a substitute, for the second goal in last Wednesday’s 2-0 Champions League win at home to Roma.

Atletico travelled to Levante last weekend having scored just 16 goals in their first 12 La Liga games this term, with other forwards Luciano Vietto, Fernando Torres and Angel Correa having been in and out of the team at various moments.

Diego Costa has been training with the squad in recent months and will be available to feature in January when Atletico are likely to have to move on some attackers in order to free up space in their squad.

Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan


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Kevin Gameiro Antoine Griezmann and Koke in top form for Atletico Madrid against Levante


Julien Laurens examines Antoine Griezmann’s future with Atletico, and the FC crew debate where he should go if he leaves.

Atletico Madrid emphatically returned to form in La Liga with a scintillating 5-0 victory away to Levante on Saturday night.

Kevin Gameiro was the star of the show, the French striker scoring twice and setting up the other three while showing Diego Simeone exactly what he was missing when leaving him out earlier in the season.

Antoine Griezmann looked happy playing next to his countryman and bagged the final two to end his lengthy La Liga drought in style as Los Rojiblancos ran out comfortable winners to remain unbeaten in the league.


Gameiro’s display was top-class. To have him and Griezmann scoring goals is going to be vitally important for Atleti if they achieve anything this season.


Stefan Savic was a bit erratic, summing up his form of late, and must surely be in danger of losing his place to Lucas Hernandez or Jose Maria Gimenez.

Manager rating out of 10

9 — Simeone knew Levante were going to play a high line and the selection of Gameiro to exploit it proved to be an inspired one.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Jan Oblak, 6 — Flapped at a cross in the first half but had very little to do thereafter. Dribbled out of the box late on and took on a forward, somewhat comically.

DF Thomas Partey, 7 — Impressive in a position that is unfamiliar. Was targeted early on by Levante, but coped easily. A threat going forward, too.

DF Stefan Savic, 5 — Managed to look shaky in a routine, comfy win. Lost his man when Oblak came and clapped and was sold completely at the end as the home side went close.

DF Diego Godin, 6 — Coped with the little attacking threat the Valencian outfit produced.

DF Filipe Luis, 7 — Played a couple of delicious through balls to Gameiro in the first half. Pushed on whenever he could and looked dangerous.

MF Koke, 9 — Absolutely brilliant. Will not get the headlines like the goal scorers, but he was majestic in midfield, and everything that was good about Atleti’s attack — and there was a lot — came through him.

MF Gabi, 8 — Great ball over the top in the buildup to the first goal. Afforded time to put his foot on the ball and pick a pass, and if you allow him to do that, he will make you pay.

MF Saul Niguez, 6 — Will rarely enjoy a more relaxed afternoon in the middle of the park at this level. Recycled the ball well, if unspectacularly. Given the final 20 off.

Kevin Gameiro and Antoine Griezmann each scored twice as Atletico Madrid remained unbeaten in domestic play.

MF Angel Correa, 7 — A real live wire throughout. Linked up well with the front two and was desperately unlucky not to score himself after rounding the keeper, only to see his shot cleared off the line before Gameiro tapped in.

FW Antoine Griezmann, 9 — Back to his brilliant best. Set up Gameiro’s second before adding two himself, with his compatriot returning the favour. Spent the final 15 minutes trying to set Fernando Torres up for a goal.

FW Kevin Gameiro, 9 — Scored two, might have had five and set up the other three. Looks a man transformed by his goal against Roma in midweek and made the absolute most of the space afforded to him by the home side’s high line. Much more like it and needs a proper run in the side now, something he has not been afforded yet this season.


Yannick Carrasco (for Correa), 6 — On for the final half-hour but did not really get into the game.

Fernando Torres (for Gameiro), 6 — Missed three very presentable chances once he came on, with many teammates desperately trying to set him up.

Augusto Fernandez (for Niguez), NR — Allowed Saul to put his feet up for the final few minutes.

Joseph Walker covers Atletico Madrid for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @Joe_in_espana.


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Antoine Griezmann has not discussed Atletico Madrid exit amid Barcelona links


Diego Simeone admits there’s a bit of anxiety creeping into his Atletico team after their goalless draw against Real Madrid.
Diego Simeone insists Antoine Griezmann is happy at Atletico and backs him to improve throughout the season.

Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann has said there is no way he is leaving the club in January, and clarified recent comments in which he appeared to express an interest in joining Paris Saint-Germain.

Griezmann, 26, almost left for Manchester United last summer, before signing a new contract as a FIFA transfer ban meant Atletico could not sign an immediate replacement.

Diego Costa — who joined from Chelsea — will be available to play for Atletico following La Liga’s winter break, leading to claims Griezmann could then move on with Barcelona reportedly preparing a €100 million bid.

But the France international rejected a suggestion put to him on TV show Telefoot that he already had an agreement with Atletico club chiefs to leave in the winter.

“No,” Griezmann said. “I have not spoken about that with the president. Plus Diego Costa and Vitolo will come in so we will try and keep the team high enough, then those two reinforcements will be good for us.”

Griezmann said that people had misunderstood his off-the-cuff answer when asked last week whether he could play in future with PSG stars Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.

“I did not express myself well,” he said. “In the game ‘yes or no’ they asked me would I like to play with Mbappe and Neymar? I replied yes, but that does not mean I want to go to PSG.”

Antoine Griezmann has not scored for Atletico Madrid since a Champions League defeat to Chelsea in September.

Griezmann said he had no regrets over his summer decision to remain at the club, despite only scoring three club goals so far in 2017-18, and being whistled by Atletico supporters when substituted in the 0-0 draw at home to Real Madrid on Saturday.

“I’m not sorry for having decided to stay at Atleti,” he said. “I am happy with my choice, even if I have not scored in seven games. I’m happy with my games for the national team, but with the club [just] two or three. There are games in which I’ve not even had one shot at goal. I must work hard at training to find a solution.”

Griezmann’s dip in form has contributed to his team’s poor Champions League group campaign so far, with Diego Simeone’s men likely to be eliminated having drawn twice with rank outsiders Qarabag.

To progress to the round-of-16 Atletico must win their final two games, at home to Roma on Wednesday and at Chelsea on Dec. 5, and hope either side slip up in their games against Qarabag.

Speaking in AS before his return to Spain, Roma’s ex-Sevilla sporting director Monchi said it was dangerous to think a Simeone side would just roll over now.

“Anybody who gives up a Simeone team for dead, does not know him or Atletico,” Monchi said. “They have had a dip, but I am sure they will be reborn again. The demands at this level are high, the margin of error is small, and any moment of doubt appears bigger than it really is.”

Asked which Atleti player would he like to sign for Roma, Monchi did not mention Griezmann.

“I’ve said Saul a few times before, but I could also say Koke, Filipe Luis…,” he said. “They have a lot. What has been achieved is the fruit of an exceptional squad.”

Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan


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Bayern Munich play down interest in Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann


Sid Lowe explains why Antoine Griezmann can wind up being quite affordable to whomever lands his services.
Koke believes Antoine Griezmann is happy at Atletico, but stresses that the club only wants players who are 100 percent committed.
Diego Simeone insists Antoine Griezmann is happy at Atletico and backs him to improve throughout the season.
Robert Lewandowski bagged a brace to power Bayern Munich‘s comfortable 3-0 home win over Augsburg.
Jupp Heynckes reiterates he is only with Bayern temporarily, saying he has his own ideas about who should be manager.

Bayern Munich sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic has said Bayern Munich are unlikely to make an attempt to sign Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann.

Sky reported the German champions have tried to sign Griezmann twice in the past and there was fresh speculation at the weekend linking the France international with a €100 million move.

However, Salihamidzic, 40, rubbished these reports, telling Sky before the Bundesliga game against Augsburg at the weekend: “We haven’t even talked about Griezmann.”

The 2001 Champions League winner stressed that Bayern were unwilling to pay such astronomical fees.

He said: “We won’t be joining in the craziness — the sums involved are not worth discussing. If something is sensible and suits Bayern, we will do it.”

Antoine Griezmann
Antoine Griezmann has been linked with a move away from Atletico Madrid.

Bayern beat Augsburg 3-0 in the Bavarian derby on Saturday to move six points clear at the top of the table from RB Leipzig, and coach Jupp Heynckes confirmed talks are in progress with Hoffenheim over the transfer of Germany international Sandro Wagner.

“We still have time, we have decided a few things in the last few months, but the transfer window opens on Jan. 1,” Salihamidzic said.

Meanwhile, both Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery’s contracts are up for renewal next summer.

Asked about the club’s plans for the veteran wing duo, Salihamidzic said: “They are two experienced and revered players. We know what we have in them and will deal with that early in the New Year.”

Robben is currently the club captain in the absence of goalkeeper Manuel Neuer through injury.

And Salihamidzic added: “Arjen Robben is in top form and the best example there is that age is not important.”

Mark Lovell covers Bayern Munich for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @LovellLowdown.


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Antoine Griezmann Wanda Metropolitano woes undermining Atletico Madrid season


Diego Simeone insists Antoine Griezmann is happy at Atletico and backs him to improve throughout the season.

Atletico Madrid are in a rut — and that is putting it kindly. All but out of the Champions League and 10 points behind league leaders Barcelona, things do not look good at the new, soulless Wanda Metropolitano stadium. But what exactly is going on? Here’s a look at three factors contributing to Los Rojiblancos‘ malaise and how they can remedy it.

1. Solve the Griezmann situation

A dramatic U-turn — including a decision by a court in Switzerland — was all that kept Antoine Griezmann from Manchester United‘s clutches this summer. While Atleti fans are used to their stars leaving and are willing to forgive and forget the fluttering of eyelashes or the declarations of “dreams” elsewhere.

One thing they will never forgive, however, is a lack of effort.

It seems incredible to say it, but given his performances of late, it would have been better for all concerned if Griezmann had gone in the summer. Having not scored since September, Griezmann is visibly not at the races and has double the yellow cards (four) than he has league goals this season (two).

Granted, Diego Simeone’s side is unbeaten in the league this season with six wins and as many draws from 12 games but imagine how many of those stalemates would have been wins had the Frenchman been switched on and had his head in the game. The gap to Barca would be considerably less. Not to mention how different their desperate Champions League campaign might have looked had their No. 7 been firing.

Griezmann was whistled by fans as he was subbed off against Real Madrid — the second consecutive game he has been hooked with Atleti chasing a winner — and that speaks volumes. It has come to the point where Simeone has a big decision to make on whether he continues to use him or cuts his losses. A big game versus Roma is needed — otherwise, it may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Antoine Griezmann
It’s hard not imagine some of Atleti’s six draws being wins if Antoine Griezmann was finding the back of the net.

2. Fix the ‘head case’

At the moment it looks like Atleti will concede from every cross the opponent slings into the box. While they have shipped just six times in La Liga, five of those have been from headers. That is the same number they conceded in the whole of last season, while in 2015-16 that number was three. Taking European football into consideration, eight of the nine goals they have conceded this season have been headed.

Diego Godin — a pillar of Atletico’s recent success and so usually Mr Reliable in the air— has been caught out of position too many times for it to be a coincidence now and it appears to be a problem brought about by playing alongside Stefan Savic. The Montenegrin is a fine defender in his own right, however, at times, the two appear incompatible. You need to stick with one of them and there is only one winner: Godin.

The Uruguayan looks most comfortable next to compatriot Jose Maria Gimenez. However with Simeone seemingly freezing out the 22-year-old with his contract expiring next summer, perhaps the logical thing is to give Lucas Hernandez a go. He has impressed every time he has been deployed as a makeshift left-back and with Savic suspended against Roma on Wednesday, the time has come to give Lucas a chance to stake his claim to become Godin’s regular partner.

3. Wanda woe factor

Stadium changes can take some getting used to. Atleti have gone from a crumbling, tight, old-school ground on the banks of the River Manzanares to a new building on the opposite side of the city. Games there feel more like a cup final in a neutral stadium, than a league or European match at the home of Atletico Madrid. The landscape around the Wanda is barren and the prematch light shows are more befitting of a Super Bowl than a dreary La Liga match on a freezing November night.

Sides used to fear coming to the Calderon. The crowd would intimidate the opposition, their fans and the match officials. It would win Atleti games. Nobody fears the Wanda. Fans are not enjoying it as much, and neither are the players.

Atletico have not won in their last five home matches, which has left them on the brink of elimination from the Champions League and all but out of title contention. They need to sort out their home form and quick. It feels as if the Wanda needs a big win for Atletico Madrid to truly feel like it is their home. Having failed to do so against Chelsea, Barcelona and Real Madrid thus far, perhaps a win over Roma could be what is needed to breathe life into a stagnating season.

Joseph Walker covers Atletico Madrid for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @Joe_in_espana.


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Sulking Antoine Griezmann wastes another night in Atletico Madrid’s 0-0 draw with Real Madrid


Cristiano Ronaldo missed a late chance for Real Madrid in a scoreless draw with city rivals Atletico.
Cristiano Ronaldo missed a late chance for Real Madrid in a scoreless draw with city rivals Atletico.
Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid both fell 10 points behind Barcelona after their derby finished scoreless at the Wanda.
Diego Simeone insists Antoine Griezmann is happy at Atletico and backs him to improve throughout the season.

Atletico and Real Madrid played out one of the dullest Madrid derbies in recent years, producing a goalless draw at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday night.

Atleti should have led after three minutes, however Angel Correa spurned a one-on-one, firing wide when he should have scored. It was a precursor of things to come as the sides battled out a stalemate that suited nobody bar league leaders Barcelona.

Los Rojiblancos might have won it late on, however sub Kevin Gameiro saw his delicate chip headed off the line. At the other end Lucas Hernandez made a crucial stop on Cristiano Ronaldo. It was one of those kind of nights.


Not losing the derby is always a plus, and it means Madrid now have just one win in their last nine visits to Atleti. The defence looked somewhere close to its best, too.


Antoine Griezmann. If he was going to mope, sulk and skulk he should have just left in the summer. At present it is a waste of time for both club and player.

Manager rating out of 10

7 — A good starting XI from Diego Simeone, who uncharacteristically threw on attackers as the game got towards its business end, which almost paid dividends as Gameiro nearly won it. Showed Griezmann exactly who is boss by hooking him, too.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Jan Oblak, 7 — Made a flying save in each half from Ronaldo free kicks, however you suspect they were for the cameras. A good block on a Toni Kroos piledriver, too.

DF Juanfran, 8 — Rolled back the years. Set the tone early on as he outsprinted Ronaldo, who was running through on goal, despite the Portuguese having a good 10-yard head start. His old, dependable self at the back and was tireless in attack, too.

DF Stefan Savic, 8 — Another who needed — and subsequently produced — a high-level display. Gave Karim Benzema no change whatsoever while he was on the pitch with some no-nonsense old-school defending. More like it.

DF Diego Godin, 7 — A rock. Dealt with Madrid attacks, be them on the floor or in the air. Marshalled — an admittedly out of form — Ronaldo very well.

DF Lucas Hernandez, 8 — The best of the lot at the back. We keep saying he is not a left-back, but his performances suggest otherwise. Must surely be pushing for a central berth soon, such is his defensive ability, as illustrated with a number of brilliant blocks, especially his full-length one at the death to ensure his side of a point.

MF Koke, 5 — A welcome return, however that the Madrid midfield looked better with him more central might be cause for concern.

MF Thomas Partey, 6 — Neat and tidy in the middle of the park without excelling in a disciplined hour-long showing. No coincidence that when he was replaced, Luka Modric and Kroos grew in influence in the game.

MF Gabi, 6 — Played the role of midfielder destroyer well. No-frills, nothing fancy, get the ball and give it. Couple of smart, cynical fouls showed his experience with Real breaking.

MF Saul Niguez, 5 — Needs to offer more. You can never fault his work ethic in defence, but keeps making the wrong decisions in attack and looks shorn of confidence in that sense.

FW Antoine Griezmann, 3 — On the pitch in name only. Admittedly isolated, but where was the work ethic and the dropping deep to get involved? The fact he was hooked with 15 to go speaks almost as many volumes as the pockets of whistles towards him. Is stinking the place out and the summer transfer saga continues to hover over him.

FW Angel Correa, 5 — A bad, bad miss in the opening minutes that you simply have to score. However, to his absolute credit, he never hid (unlike a certain Frenchman) and always tried — albeit unsuccessfully — to make something happen.

Griezmann argues vs Real 171118
Antoine Griezmann was pulled with 15 minutes to play following an uninspiring performance.


MF Yannick Carrasco (for Thomas), 5 — Spearheaded a late 4-on-3 counter that he proceeded to muck up by taking three touches too many. Vintage Carrasco.

FW Kevin Gameiro (for Correa), NR — Lovely chip over the onrushing keeper only for it to be headed off the line.

FW Fernando Torres (for Griezmann), NR — Set up Gameiro with a purposeful run.

Joseph Walker covers Atletico Madrid for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @Joe_in_espana.


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Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone vows to always support Antoine Griezmann


Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid both fell 10 points behind Barcelona after their derby finished scoreless at the Wanda.
Cristiano Ronaldo missed a late chance for Real Madrid in a scoreless draw with city rivals Atletico.
Cristiano Ronaldo missed a late chance for Real Madrid in a scoreless draw with city rivals Atletico.

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone said he would continue to support misfiring striker Antoine Griezmann for as long ase stays at the club, speaking after Saturday’s 0-0 draw at home to neighbours Real Madrid

Neither team created many chances over the 90 minutes in the first ever “derbi” at Atletico’s new Wanda Metropolitano — meaning Barcelona were the day’s big winners as they now sit 10 points clear of both Madrid sides.

Playing as a lone striker Griezmann struggled for an impact on the game and, with his time without a goal at club level now up to 723 minutes, the reported Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United target was whistled by his own team’s fans as he left the pitch.

The Rojiblanco coach told his postmatch news conference that he did not agree with his club’s fans taking against any of their own players, and his selection decisions would not be swayed by pressure from the stands.

“I have been taught that those who are in my family, I am with them to the death, while they remain in my family,” Griezmann said. “And I will not change now. Things within your family are resolved within the family. I always stay calm and always do what will be best for the team — with Griezmann, or with the youth team players.”

Griezmann argues vs Real 171118
Antoine Griezmann has not scored for Atletico Madrid in 723 minutes.

Simeone said he was happy overall with how his team had performed against a rival who really needed three points to make up ground on Barca in the title race.

“The first 25 or 30 minutes you saw the team we were, against the best team in the world, who really needed a win after Barca result earlier,” he said. “We did very well for half an hour, then they began to push well too. The second half was a classic derbi, either of the two could have won.

“[Madrid] have extraordinary players and we competed again very well against them.”

Atletico remain unbeaten 12 games into the La Liga season, albeit having scored just 16 times, and Simeone admitted to some “anxiety” among his forwards.

“We did well collectively, but maybe lacked a bit of clarity on the transition from defence to attack,” he said. “We all thought [Angel] Correa would score, after just three minutes, and that would have changed the game completely.”

“There is some anxiety in attack for sure. [Kevin] Gameiro’s shot was cleared off the line. We cannot find goals easily at the moment. But for us it is about work, work, work, and then talent. But work first.”

The Argentine accepted that the presence at training every day of summer signing from Chelsea Diego Costa, unable to play until January, could be weighing on some of his attacker’s minds.

“I don’t believe Diego’s presence generates [anxiety],” he said. “[But] it is not so easy, as when some come in, others will have to leave. That is the most difficult part of what we are living with.”


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Barcelona ‘not going to close the door’ on Antoine Griezmann move – Ernesto Valverde


Sid Lowe explains why Antoine Griezmann can wind up being quite affordable to whomever lands his services.
Koke believes Antoine Griezmann is happy at Atletico, but stresses that the club only wants players who are 100 percent committed.

BARCELONA — Ernesto Valverde has said Antoine Griezmann is a “great player,” but the manager wouldn’t be drawn on speculation linking Barcelona with a move for the Atletico Madrid forward in January.

However, Valverde once again reiterated that Barca are open to doing business in January, having pushed for Philippe Coutinho and Angel Di Maria until the last day of the summer transfer window.

Coutinho remains the Catalan club’s priority, according to the local press, but there is also reported to be a firm interest in Griezmann.

The France international looked set to leave Atletico in the summer for Manchester United but performed a U-turn, signing a new deal when the Rojiblancos saw their transfer ban upheld.

But the speculation has not gone away and rumours linking Griezmann with a €100 million move to Barca have increased during the international break.

“Griezmann is a great player, one of the names being talked about but for now I have the players that I have,” Valverde said when asked if he wanted the forward at Camp Nou.

“In the future, we will see. Of course, the club, like all clubs, is open to doing business in the January window, even though we’re happy with what we already have. We’re not going to close the door on anything.”

Barcelona ‘will see’ about moves for Antoine Griezmann and other players in January, Ernesto Valverde says.

Barca may also be tempted to move for a centre-back following the news this week that Javier Mascherano will miss the next month after getting injured while on Argentina duty.

That leaves Valverde with just Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti — who are both one booking away from a suspension — and the injury-prone Thomas Vermaelen for Saturday’s trip to Leganes.

“We have good centre-backs,” the coach said when asked if he was worried about his options in defence. “Circumstances can never be foreseen and injuries come when you least expect them.

“But that’s why we have a deep squad. We’ll see who plays but we have confidence in Pique, Umtiti and, of course, in Vermaelen. Then there’s the B team, too.”

Pique will miss the team trip because of a personal matter but will regroup with the team before the game.

Valverde also confirmed that Luis Suarez is in good shape for the weekend after the striker sat out the international break in order to focus on recovering from a long-standing knee problem.

A win at Leganes’ Butarque home in Madrid would temporarily take Barca 11 points clear of Real Madrid and Atletico, who meet later on Saturday at the Wanda Metropolitano.

“There’s an important game in Madrid [Atleti vs. Real] but the most important one in Madrid for us is against Leganes,” Valverde added.

“What worries us about Leganes is how few goals they’ve conceded — just one at home in five games. Like Girona, they’re a solid team that believe in what they do and defend well.

“We’re alert before these games. It’s enough to look back at last season to see what happened at these types of grounds where points were lost. Maybe it’s not as glamorous as others, but we know the problems we have had at Girona, Alaves…”

Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.


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Antoine Griezmann happy at Atletico but ‘free to leave’ if he wants – Koke


Koke believes Antoine Griezmann is happy at Atletico, but stresses that the club only wants players who are 100 percent committed.

Koke believes teammate Antoine Griezmann is happy at Atletico Madrid, but warned that any player who isn’t focused on the club should leave.

Reports in France this week claimed Griezmann has already agreed a €100 million move to Barcelona next summer, while sources have told ESPN FC that Manchester United could also return with a new bid.

Griezmann suggested he was open to a move to Paris Saint-Germain, but Atletico president Enrique Cerezo said he thought the forward was only joking.

Asked about his opinion on Griezmann’s future, Koke said Atletico only want players to stay if they are totally committed.

“Talking about Griezmann, he had the chance to leave after the last season, but he didn’t. So I think that means he likes it here,” said Koke, who has been with Atletico since he was eight years old.

“We always say if somebody doesn’t like it here, he’s free to leave. The club and I want the best, we want committed players.

“Those who aren’t [committed], just have to ask for a transfer. We only want players who are 100 percent focused here.

“[Griezmann] does look committed to Atletico. In the last month, the reality is that we haven’t been any good and little by little we will improve.”

Antoine Griezmann and Koke have played together at Atletico Madrid since 2014.

Atletico Madrid return from the international break with a derby against Real Madrid, with both clubs chasing Barcelona and Valencia above them in the table.

Looking ahead to Saturday’s game, Koke added: “We haven’t seen their best version yet but they have amazing players and always give their best. [I expect] a Madrid who will give everything and come to the Wanda Metropolitano with a lot of desire.

“Every game against Real Madrid is special. The essence of a derby, even when you’ve played in a lot of them, is never lost.”

Atletico are fourth in the table but level on points with Real, and Koke believes the game provides a good opportunity for his side to kick-start their season.

“We’re good. It’s true that the past month we haven’t shown our best level. We did some great things and we did some bad things,” he said.

“This international window has been good for us to improve, to analyze our mistakes.”

Follow @ESPNFC on Twitter to keep up with the latest football updates.


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Atletico confident of Antoine Griezmann stay amid Man United, PSG links


Antoine Griezmann joined Atletico Madrid from Real Sociedad in 2014.

Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo says he has no reason to believe Antoine Griezmann wants to leave the club, and recent comments made on French TV were only said in jest.

Griezmann was linked with a move to Manchester United last summer before eventually agreeing a new contract to remain at the La Liga club, but he has struggled to find his best form so far in 2017-18.

Speaking while on international duty with France this week the 26-year-old appeared open to the suggestion he could join Paris Saint-Germain in the summer. Meanwhile, other reports in France claimed that he has already agreed a €100 million move to Barcelona next summer, while sources have told ESPN FC that United could also return with a new bid.

Cerezo told Europa Press that he was confident Griezmann would stay where he was long term.

“You do not understand Griezmann, or his sense of humour,” Cerezo said. “He wants to stay. He is saying what he has to say. I have not seen him say anywhere that he wants to leave, just the opposite, that he wants to stay as, among other things, he has a contract.”

Cerezo himself cracked a joke when asked about Griezmann having suggested he liked the idea of lining up alongside Kylian Mbappe and Neymar at PSG.

“What you don’t know is that maybe those two could come here,” he added.

Next up for Atletico is Saturday’s La Liga derbi at home to neighbours Real Madrid, with both teams needing a victory as they are currently joint third in the table, already eight points behind leaders Barca.

“The derbi is an important game for everyone, but it is a league match just like the last one,” Atleti goalkeeper Jan Oblak told the club’s website. “We’re going to try and win it just as we always do. I hope the result is what we are looking for.”

Atletico have yet to enjoy a big win at their new Wanda Metropolitano stadium this season, with Chelsea winning on their Champions League visit in September and Barca getting a late equaliser in October’s La Liga fixture.

Oblak said he was confident that the modern new stadium would soon match the Vicente Calderon.

“I feel proud to be playing the first season at the Wanda Metropolitano,” he said. “We changed from the Calderon where everything was great. But at the Wanda everything is spectacular. I am sure that in this stadium we will continue as before.”

Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan


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Juanfran urges Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann to stay calm


Antoine Griezmann is currently enduring his longest goal drought since joining Atletico Madrid in 2014.

Atletico Madrid defender Juanfran says Antoine Griezmann should remain “relaxed” despite being substituted again on Saturday, although the forward’s brother has questioned Diego Simeone’s tactics on Twitter.

Griezmann — Atletico’s top scorer in each of the last three seasons — has scored just three goals in all competitions for the club this season and is on a seven-game goal drought.

With 10 minutes remaining on Saturday and the game at Deportivo La Coruna still scoreless, Simeone surprisingly replaced Griezmann with versatile defender Jose Maria Gimenez. Midfielder Thomas Partey then scored a late winner for Atletico.

The France international was also substituted during October’s 0-0 draw at Leganes, but Juanfran told reporters in the mixed zone: “[Griezmann] is a very important player for us, and we are with him.

“We love him and we trust in him. But any decision the boss makes, with him or anyone else, we accept. The boss does the best for the team. Griezmann should be relaxed. We will support him.”

However, Griezmann’s brother, Theo, had posted a series of tweets questioning Simeone’s decision-making during the game.

In the posts — since deleted but reproduced in several Spanish publications — he wrote: “We go forward 40 metres, then back 80, as always. I don’t understand it. Antoine’s playing as a 6 [midfielder]”; “I have the impression I’m always watching the same game, it’s crazy”; and “Griezmann cannot create chances if he doesn’t have the ball, I have to say it.”

Marca also highlighted an image of Griezmann walking away from Atletico’s team photo early on Saturday, while adding that he had also been the first to break from the group before October’s 1-0 La Liga win at Celta Vigo.

The 26-year-old had been a target for Manchester United in the summer and sources told ESPN FC in September that the English club could make a new approach at the end of the current season.

Griezmann signed a new contract in the summer but his deal still contains a €100 million buyout clause.

Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan


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Andres Iniesta to miss Barcelona game at Athletic Bilbao with thigh strain


Shaka Hislop and Ross Dyer try their hand at predicting the notable week 10 fixtures in La Liga.

Barcelona will be without Andres Iniesta for this weekend’s game against Athletic Bilbao, but Javier Mascherano will make the trip despite skipping training on Friday with a fever.

Iniesta has not trained for the last few days due to a thigh strain and is also a major doubt for Tuesday’s Champions League game against Olympiakos.

The midfielder, who signed a contract for life earlier this month, has featured regularly this season, playing in 12 of 15 games under Ernesto Valverde.

Mascherano has also been unable to train but Valverde has included him in the 20-man squad for Saturday’s game against Athletic in the hope that he recovers in time.

The Argentine has not been a regular this season, with Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti often preferred, but he has started the last two games at centre-back.

In the case that he is not able to play, Barca B’s David Costas or Oriol Busquets will step in, having both been included in the first team squad for the first ever time.

Thomas Vermaelen will also miss the game at San Mames due to a hip problem which he picked up in the midweek Copa del Rey win against Real Murcia.

In addition to Iniesta and Vermaelen, Barca are also without Rafinha, Ousmane Dembele, Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal.

However, left-back Jordi Alba has recovered from the thigh strain which kept him out of the last three games and will make the trip to the Basque Country.

Barcelona lead La Liga from Valencia by four points and are looking to make it 14 games unbeaten in all competitions this weekend.


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Andrés Iniesta’s lifetime Barcelona deal: a salute – UEFA Champions League – News


From academy graduate to midfield metronome in the all-conquering Barcelona and Spain sides that broke record after record, Andrés Iniesta was on Friday has given a lifetime contract by the club with which he has won 28 trophies and counting. takes a look at what makes the 33-year-old so special.

What they say:

“Over the last 20 years I can’t remember players as good or complete as Iniesta. It’s incredible, he never messes up play, he’s the most complete in the world. Maybe he misplaces just one pass in the whole game.”
Former Italian international Dino Baggio

©Getty Images

“He’s the best midfielder I’ve ever seen play. For his quality, for everything. For being a good guy, for being a legend, he doesn’t need a Ballon d’Or. He’s incomparable because he’s very different. He has an elegance and incredible class that makes him different to everyone else.”
Former Barcelona team-mate Neymar

“Nobody is like Andrés Iniesta, neither in our squad nor in world football; that’s the problem.”
Former Barça boss Luis Enrique on dealing with Iniesta’s injury absence

Current tally:
International caps: 121 appearances, 12 goals
UEFA club competition: 132 appearances, 11 goals
Liga: 418 appearances, 34 goals

UEFA Champions League (4): 2006, 2009, 2011, 2015
UEFA Super Cup (2): 2011, 2015
FIFA Club World Cup (3): 2009, 2011, 2015
Spanish Liga (8): 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016
Copa del Rey (5): 2009, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017
Spanish Super Cup (6): 2005, 2006, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2016
FIFA World Cup (1): 2010
UEFA EURO (2): 2008, 2012
U19 EURO (1): 2002
U16 EURO (1): 2001

Claims to fame:


  •  Joined Barcelona at the age of 12 after catching the eye of scouts for local club Albacete.
  • Iniesta admits he “cried rivers” the day he left for La Masia and struggled being separated from his parents.
  • His childhood idol Pep Guardiola witnessed a 15-year-old Iniesta playing for Barça’s youth teams. Stood next to Xavi Hernández on the sidelines, Guardiola said: “You will retire me, but this kid will retire us both.”
  • He also has eight Liga crowns, five Copa del Rey and three FIFA Club World Cup titles.


  • Iniesta won the UEFA Best Player in Europe award in 2012, and was also chosen as the Best Player of the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League.
  • Iniesta has been chosen in the users’ Team of the Year six times (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016), the most selections ever in midfield.


  • Played at every level for Spain’s junior sides from U16 to U21.
  • Won the UEFA European Under-16 Championship in 2001 before helping La Rojita lift the U19 title 12 months later.
  • A mainstay in the national team, he was pivotal as Spain won a historic treble of titles, with UEFA EURO 2008 and 2012 triumphs being sandwiched by the 2010 FIFA World Cup win.

©Getty Images

  • In 2008 he was selected in the team of the tournament, play every game as Spain went on to defeat Germany 1-0 in the final. He went one better at UEFA EURO 2012 as he was named player of the tournament.
  • In 2010 he scored the winner in extra time as Spain beat the Netherlands 1-0 to claim their first World Cup. In celebration he ripped off his shirt with the message “Dani Jarque, siempre con nosotros” (Dani Jarque, always with us) as a tribute to his friend, the former Espanyol player who sadly passed away a year earlier

What you might not know:

  • Despite becoming a national hero in 2010, Iniesta almost missed the World Cup through injury. How different things might have been had Vicente del Bosque not gone with his instincts.
  • Despite being Barcelona club captain, there is footage of a young Iniesta bashfully admitting to TV cameras he grew up a Real Madrid fan.
  • A big cinema fan, Iniesta had a cameo role in Spanish film ‘Quien mató a Bambi’ (Who killed Bambi – while it sounds nasty, we are assured it’s a comedy) in which he is pictured on the football pitch – where else?
  • Made his Spain debut at the ground of Albacete; his first club.

©Getty Images

  • While Iniesta himself is regarded as one of the best midfielders of all time, he has never hidden his admiration for former team-mate Xavi: “There’s not enough words of praise for Xavi. I can’t find high enough praise to explain what he represents as a player and person”

He says …

“Me a hero? No! I feel very loved, obviously. The fans show some their support all the time. But a hero is someone who has to fight against a disease or has to emigrate in order to feed their children. I’m privileged to be able to play football and sometimes I’m lucky enough to make people happy.”

What he might achieve yet:

  • This season will be looking to add to his 28 club trophies (which might have been more had he not missed the 2009 Spanish and UEFA Super Cups injured) and after an impressive 100% start in the Liga and UEFA Champions League, you would not be surprised if he did, with a fifth European Cup (only one off the competition record) a possibility.
  • Old mate Xavi has the all-time Barcelona record appearances (767). In second on 639, Iniesta will be determined to get as close as possible to his former team-mate and keep third-placed Lionel Messi (594) at bay.
  • Next summer’s World Cup is in his sights, while a third title with Spain at UEFA EURO 2020 is not beyond the realms of possibility.


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Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta tells Spanish and Catalan leaders to talk


Josep Bartomeu says if a declaration of independence would take place then the board of directors would have to meet and analyse what to do.
Gerard Pique threatens to retire from Spain’s national team if anyone deems his support for Catalonian independence disruptive.

Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta has called for dialogue between Catalan and Spanish leaders in the uncertain aftermath of Sunday’s referendum on Catalan independence.

On Sunday, Barcelona‘s home game against Las Palmas was played behind closed doors in protest at the violence used by Spanish police during a vote that was deemed illegal by the Spanish government.

Catalan president Carles Puigdemont has since promised to move forward with plans to announce independence after more than 90 percent of 2.3 million voters backed it.

However, Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy and King Felipe VI refuse to acknowledge the referendum result and have accused Catalan authorities of attempting to break “the unity of Spain.”

Iniesta, who was born in the south of Spain but has spent more than half his life in Catalonia, wrote on his Facebook page: “I never have and I never will publicly address such complicated situations and diverse feelings, but the situation we are currently experiencing is an exceptional one.

“And before we do more damage to ourselves: Dialogue. Those responsible must talk. Do it for all of us. We deserve to live in peace.”

Iniesta’s post came hours after teammate Gerard Pique was whistled by supporters as the Spain team arrived in Alicante for Friday’s World Cup qualifier against Albania.

Pique voted in the referendum and was in tears when he spoke to reporters about the political situation after the game against Las Palmas.

On Wednesday he called a news conference at which he also urged dialogue and pointed out that he was not necessarily pro-independence but was in favour of people’s right to self-determination.

He has been whistled regularly by sections of Spain’s support in recent years and announced last year that he would retire from international football after the 2018 World Cup.

On Wednesday, he said he would not move that date forward despite recent events because it would give satisfaction to those who “whistle and insult.”

Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.


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Valencia warn Paris Saint-Germain over Goncalo Guedes loan


Goncalo Guedes
Goncalo Guedes is waiting to complete a loan move to Valencia.

Valencia general director Mateu Alemany has warned Paris Saint-Germain to speed up the loan of Goncalo Guedes to the club or risk the deal collapsing.

The clubs have reached agreement for the Portugal international winger to join on a season-long loan.

But the move has not been completed, with PSG reportedly waiting to sign Monaco’s Kylian Mbappe before allowing Guedes to leave.

“We have to sign a minimum of two players. Guedes is one of them and we are negotiating,” Alemany told Movistar +.

“It not only depends on Mbappe but on the rest of the PSG players that are on their way out or on their way in, and we have to follow this crossword.

“It’s true that we cannot wait indefinitely for that situation to clarify itself as time is running out. I think, in the next few hours, things will become clearer.”

Guedes, 20, has made just one Ligue 1 start for PSG since joining from Benfica in January.

Meanwhile, new Valencia coach Marcelino praised his side’s performance in their 2-2 draw at Real Madrid on Sunday.

He told Cadena Ser radio: “The team is creating a solid base as well as building a collective spirit and that makes us very optimistic looking ahead.

They were denied victory only by an 82nd-minute goal from Madrid’s Marco Asensio, who had also opened the scoring.

“We know what he is capable of,” Marcelino said. “He was sensational, crucial, despite his youth.

“He has proved that he is a great footballer. I believe he can mark an era at Real Madrid and in Spanish football.”

Valencia resume their La Liga campaign after the international break with a home game against Atletico Madrid on Sept. 9.

Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.


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