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Spain replaces fired Lopetegui with Hierro

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press With only two days to go before Spain's opening match at the World Cup, Julen Lopetegui was fired as national team coach because he accepted a job to lead Real Madrid next season. Spanish soccer federation president Luis Rubiales, who made the announcement on Wednesday in Krasnodar, later said Fernando Hierro would replace Lopetegui as coach for Spain's match against Portugal in Sochi on Friday. The 50-year-old Hierro, a former national team player and Real Madrid captain, had been acting as the federation's sports director and was already in Russia with the national team. Rubiales said firing Lopetegui wasn't the best solution but it was needed after the federation was caught by surprise by Real Madrid's announcement. "The federation cannot be left out of a negotiation by one of its workers and be informed five minutes before the press release," Rubiales said. "We have been compelled to act." Rubiales, who took over as president last month, said Lopetegui betrayed the federation's values and it was the only decision he could make. "It's a difficult situation, but we are not the ones who determined the action that had to be taken. The federation has its values and it has to maintain them," Rubiales said. "It may look like a weakness now, but with time this will make us stronger." Lopetegui did not attend the news conference but was expected to talk to the media later. "We have to work on a series of decisions that come just two days before the opener," Rubiales said. "There's a lot to do." Hierro spent most of his career as a defender for Real Madrid and finished his playing days with English club Bolton in 2005. He played in four World Cups with Spain, from 1990 to 2002, and in two European Championships, 1996 and 2000. Hierro was Carlo Ancelotti's assistant at Real Madrid after Zinedine Zidane left the post in 2014. He coached second-division club Real Oviedo two seasons ago and was Malaga's general manager after leaving his sports director position with the Spanish federation in 2011. After Madrid's announcement that it hired Lopetegui, critics immediately began questioning some of the coach's decisions with the national team, including his choice to leave some Barcelona players such as Sergi Roberto out of the World Cup squad. There were also questions about how Lopetegui would be able to fully focus on the national team while also having to discuss off-season signings for his new club. There are six Madrid players in Spain's team for the World Cup. Lopetegui's name had not been mentioned by Spanish media among the probable candidates for the Madrid job, which opened up after Zidane unexpectedly quit. Last month, Lopetegui agreed to extend his contract with the national team through 2020. "I admire and respect Lopetegui a lot. He is a top coach, and that made it harder to make this decision," Rubiales said. "Winning is important, but above that, we need to know how things have to be handled." The 51-year-old Lopetegui took over from Vicente del Bosque after the 2016 European Championship. He was credited with reviving a team that was on the decline after winning Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012. By successfully blending talented youngsters and veterans from its golden generation, Lopetegui kept Spain unbeaten through 20 matches in charge, comfortably leading the team to the World Cup from a qualifying group that included Italy. He won European championships with Spain's under-19 and under-21 teams in the early 2010s, but had a lackluster stint with Portuguese team Porto in his only job with a major club. He was fired after failing to win a title during almost two years in Portugal. Rubiales took over a federation which was in the hands of embattled official Angel Maria Villar for nearly three decades. He was elected president over Juan Luis Larrea, the federation's former treasurer and its interim leader since Villar was suspended following his arrest last year on suspicion of corruption. In one of his first actions, Rubiales canceled a previously arranged "vacation" trip by officials to the World Cup that would cost nearly 2 million euros ($2.3 million). He got the money reimbursed and spent only about 500,000 euros ($590,000) with new travel arrangements for sponsors and federation officials. "We are all affected," Rubiales said about Lopetegui's departure. "We have to think about what is best for the entity, for the federation and the team, and from this afternoon we will all be together to go forward.".....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJun 13th, 2018

Left alone: Alba proving perfect sidekick for Lionel Messi

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — With Lionel Messi wowing fans game after game, it's easy to overlook Jordi Alba, the player who often puts him in position to score so many impressive goals. Alba has become the indispensable sidekick for Barcelona's all-time leading scorer. "Leo and Jordi understand one another perfectly," coach Ernesto Valverde said after Saturday's 2-0 win over Celta Vigo when Alba helped set up both of Barcelona's goals. Alba first passed for Messi to shoot, with a rebound of a save falling to Ousmane Dembele to finish off. Alba then assisted Messi for his league-leading 15th goal of the season. "Their relationship clicks," Valverde said. "Sometimes rivals try to block their passing angles, but Jordi has a great sense of timing. And even though adversaries know it's coming, it continues to work." Alba has been running up and down Barcelona's left flank for seven seasons now, but his importance to his team's attack used to be secondary to the sparkling play of former stars Neymar, Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez. Neymar's exit two summers ago marked a turning point for Alba. With the Brazil forward no longer soaking up all the weight of the attack on Barcelona's left side, Alba was free to fully exploit his speed and passing ability. As Alba told Spanish sports daily Sport in 2017, "now I have the entire left side to myself, and that is much better." Messi often starts his attacks from the right or center of the field to have his preferred left boot set to shoot. That leaves Alba in an ideal position to stretch the defense with carefully timed bursts of speed to break into the area behind the opposition's backline, often after exchanging passes with Messi. The 29-year-old Alba has developed the knack of knowing where Messi will dart to in the box, often behind a dummy run by Luis Suarez, where he can receive Alba's passes in a scoring position. "They are very quick moves against defenses that really close down the open spaces," Alba said after Saturday's strong performance. "But Messi always waits for the opportune moment to find space, and I connect with him." Alba has done his part in ensuring Barcelona went into the Spanish league's winter break with a three-point lead atop the standings. "Most of the passes that I give Messi end up in goal," Alba said. "Leo never misses." ADIOS ATLETICO? Second-placed Atletico Madrid heads toward the winter transfer window with big questions about two of its top young players: France defender Lucas Hernandez and midfielder Thomas Partey. Hernandez has been linked to interest by Bayern Munich in triggering the 80 million euro ($91 million) buyout clause that would free him from his contract. While Atletico has denied that Hernandez wants to leave, coach Diego Simeone appears to accept that he could lose the 22-year-old defender. "Lucas knows what I told him. I love him a lot, we have watched him grow up," Simeone said after Saturday's 1-0 victory over Espanyol. "Let him decide what he thinks is best and I will support him." Thomas, who can play either as a holding midfielder or further up in the formation, has also made it publicly known that he wants to play more. "I have a deep affection for Atletico and I am grateful for all that it has done, as well as for the fans, but sometimes I feel unhappy at Atletico," Thomas said Saturday. LLORENTE'S MOMENT Ignored by previous managers, 23-year-old Marcos Llorente is playing well enough to threaten Casemiro's spot in the starting 11 as Real Madrid's holding midfielder. Llorente has started nine matches since Santiago Solari took over from the fired Julen Lopetegui two months ago, benefiting from Casemiro twisting an ankle. Llorente scored his first goal for Madrid on Saturday when he struck a powerful shot from outside the area to help beat Al Ain 4-1 in Abu Dhabi. Madrid won its third straight Club World Cup. "Life, like football, can change just like that," Llorente said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 24th, 2018

Real Madrid fires coach Lopetegui after big loss to Barca

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — In just months, Julen Lopetegui has lost two of the most high-profile coaching jobs in the world. Lopetegui was finally fired by Real Madrid on Monday, less than five months after he was sacked by Spain before the World Cup for not telling federation officials he accepted the Madrid job. The latest firing followed a meeting by the club's board of directors on Monday, a day after the team was crushed by Barcelona 5-1 at Camp Nou Stadium. Santiago Solari, coach of Real Madrid B, will take charge for the Copa del Rey match against third-division club Melilla on Wednesday. Spanish media speculated Solari, a former Madrid player, was in the running for the permanent job along with former Chelsea manager Antonio Conte and Belgium manager Roberto Martinez. The firing caps a horrible few months for Lopetegui and is likely to deal a significant setback to his career. After doing well with Spain's youth teams, he had a lackluster stint with Portuguese club Porto, but gained prominence after revamping Spain and turning it into a contender entering the World Cup. "I want to thank the club for the opportunity it gave me and the players for their effort," Lopetegui told the local news agency EFE. "I wish the team the best for the rest of the season." Madrid said in a statement it sacked 52-year-old Lopetegui to "change the team's dynamic while all of its objectives for the season were still reachable." The board of directors believed there was a huge difference between the quality of the squad and the results it was achieving. The board noted the team has eight players nominated for the Ballon d'Or award, something unprecedented in the club's history. They have lost five of their last seven matches. "We know that results are important for a coach," Madrid captain Sergio Ramos said after the Barcelona match. Lopetegui, who led the team practice on Monday morning, was hired by Madrid to replace Zinedine Zidane, who quit after leading the club to the last three Champions League titles. Losing the clasico left Madrid ninth in the Spanish league, seven points behind leader Barcelona after 10 rounds. It hasn't won in five straight league matches, with four losses, and recently reached its worst scoring drought ever. The club had a decent start to the season but things went sour as the squad struggled to produce goals in its first season without Cristiano Ronaldo in nearly a decade. Madrid didn't replace the superstar; its only high-profile signing was goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. In 14 matches with Lopetegui, Madrid won six, lost six, and drew two. After the Copa match on Wednesday, Madrid hosts Valladolid in the Spanish league, and visits Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League. "We have to move on as soon as possible because there is a lot of season left," Ramos said. To make things worse, veteran left back Marcelo is expected to be out for a few weeks because of a muscle injury. Forward Mariano Diaz is also injured and is likely to be out for at least a week. Solari, aged 42, is a former Argentina midfielder who played for Real Madrid in the early 2000s and helped the team win the 2002 Champions League. He also played for Atletico Madrid and Inter Milan. He has been coaching Real Madrid B since 2016, taking over not long after Zidane left to coach the main squad. Lopetegui is the second La Liga coach to be fired. The first was Leo Franco of promoted club Huesca, currently last in the 20-team standings......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 30th, 2018

Paco Alcacer making most of 2nd chance with Spain

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Close to seeing his career stagnate, Paco Alcacer is making the most of a second chance to become Spain's top striker. Alcacer scored twice in his first appearance for Spain in two-and-a-half years to lead a 4-1 away win at Wales in a friendly last week. On Monday, the former Barcelona player will likely feature again when Spain hosts England in Seville seeking a second win over Gareth Southgate's team in the incipient Nations League. "I'm happy that I was able to help the team by doing what we strikers are supposed to, which is provide goals," Alcacer said after Thursday's match in Cardiff. "I just have to keep this good dynamic going." The 25-year-old Alcacer has been rejuvenated since leaving Barcelona on loan for Borussia Dortmund in August, a turnaround that has ended a hiatus from Spain's national team that was in danger of becoming a permanent adios. Previous to his two goals for Spain against Wales, Alcacer had scored seven times in a four-match scoring run for Dortmund. That streak included netting a spectacular hat trick that he completed on the last kick of the game for a 4-3 win over Augsburg. Ironically, Alcacer's slide toward oblivion at Barcelona began under current Spain coach Luis Enrique when he was condemned to a reserve role behind the superstar trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez in 2016-17. Not even Neymar's departure at the start of last season changed the situation at Camp Nou for Alcacer. Favoring other players, new coach Ernesto Valverde gave him fewer appearances than Luis Enrique. So Alcacer decided that his best option was to leave Spain and try his luck in Germany. And it turned out that Alcacer just needed a chance to play. With his brace against Wales, Alcacer showed his leading quality as a striker. He is not the fastest, the strongest, nor the slickest passer; he is a pure goal scorer who excels at putting one-touch shots in-between the posts. Against Wales, Alcacer fired a rising right-footed shot into the near corner for the lead— and his first goal with Spain since Oct. 2015. He then put the win beyond doubt by poaching a clearance in the area to make it 3-0. "Alcacer is playing superbly because he is on a scoring streak, but overall his attitude has been marvelous," said Luis Enrique, who called Alcacer up to fill the void left by the injured Diego Costa. Alcacer was not supposed to need a comeback story. Four years ago, former Spain manager Vicente del Bosque considered Alcacer, along with Alvaro Morata, as his strikers of the future. The then Valencia player led Spain in qualifying for the 2016 European championship with five goals, but when he struggled to score for his club in the run-up to the tournament Del Bosque dropped him from his squad. Banished to the bench following his move to Barcelona from Valencia, Alcacer was also ignored by Julen Lopetegui in his two-year tenure that took Spain to last summer's World Cup. Circumstances, however, have put Alcacer in good position to now succeed for "La Roja." While competition remains fierce in the positions of midfielder and playmaker for Spain, the striker job is up for grabs. Long gone are the days when David Villa and Fernando Torres flourished up front for the 2010 world champions, as both Costa and Morata have failed to show they can be counted on for goals. Alcacer said that he had been preparing for this return to his best form. "It's about several things," he said, "about getting on a hot streak, about self-confidence, about having playing time, and, above all, about working each day when you are not playing so you can be ready.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 15th, 2018

Atletico beats Real Madrid 4-2 after extra time in Super Cup

By Frank Griffiths, Associated Press TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — Atletico Madrid finally got the better of Real Madrid on the European stage, scoring twice in extra time to win 4-2 in the UEFA Super Cup final on Wednesday in its rival's first game without Cristiano Ronaldo. Atletico got off to a flying start with Diego Costa scoring the competition's fastest goal just 50 seconds in, but Madrid came back to take a 2-1 lead as Los Blancos tried to prove they can still win trophies without Ronaldo and with a new coach. But Costa equalized late in the match with his second goal before Saul Niguez and Jorge "Koke" Resurreccion sealed the victory in extra time on a cool night in Estonia's capital. Atletico's victory over its crosstown rival had added significance after it lost two Champions League finals to Madrid in 2014 and 2016. Diego Simeone's team was also eliminated by Madrid in the 2017 semifinals. "I'm elated," Costa said. "Real Madrid has always beaten us in these finals. It was our turn to win a final." The loss leaves new Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui still having to prove that there is life after Ronaldo, who scored 450 goals in 438 matches before joining Juventus this summer and helped lead the club to three straight Champions League titles. "I'm sad. I'm frustrated. It's a final that we lost," Lopetegui said. "But I also know that we will have to wake up and prepare ourselves for our first league match and start the season on the right foot." Gareth Bale showed glimpses of his pace and skill, but couldn't mimic Ronaldo's ability to decide a game on his own. Instead, Costa was the one who dominated at the Lillekula Stadium in Tallinn. He overpowered Madrid's center backs in the first minute after a long ball from Stefan Savic, first winning a header against Sergio Ramos and then muscling past Raphael Varane to cut into the area where he beat goalkeeper Keylor Navas at the near post. Karim Benzema equalized in the 27th minute, heading in a pinpoint cross from Bale, who was able to break away from Lucas Hernandez on the right and curl the ball into his fellow forward's path. Bale, who was given a freer role than he's used to, caused trouble for Atletico's defense in the first half as he switched between wings. He was Madrid's main creative spark at that point, with his teammates constantly trying to feed him the ball. He faded in the second half, but Lopetegui was pleased with Bale's performance. "Gareth has played very good. In this moment of the season, all the players are not in the best physical way," the coach said. "We are happy with his performance and we hope he's going to put in deserved performances in the next matches." Sergio Ramos scored a penalty in the 63rd minute after Juanfran Torres handled in the area as the ball flew over him from a corner. Juanfran made up for it in the 79th by taking the ball off Marcelo near the touchline and then passing to Angel Correa. The substitute then skipped past a couple of Madrid defenders and cut the ball back from the byline to Costa, who poked the ball into the roof of the net. In extra time, substitute Thomas Partey set up the decisive goal when he stripped the ball off Varane and played a one-two with Costa before dribbling toward the byline. Partey then cut the ball back to Saul Niguez, who volleyed the ball first-time to send the ball past Navas to make it 3-2 in the 98th. Koke finished Madrid off with a cool finish in the 104th. Lopetegui, who joined Madrid in controversial fashion and was fired as Spain coach just before the World Cup, will need to show that he can build on the success of predecessor Zidedane Zidane and can win with new tactics. At times, Madrid looked uncomfortable playing under the new possession-based system and seemed to miss Ronaldo's flair and proficiency. "We need to improve on the all the phases of the team," Lopetegui said. "We don't like to make mistakes." Madrid had to play without new goalkeeper Thibault Courtois, as the former Atletico player didn't even dress for the match. Spanish media reports said the team didn't register him in time with UEFA following his transfer from Chelsea. For Atletico, the victory gives the team a boost before the season starts, Simeone said. "The club is growing. We have a new stadium," he said. "We have players who want to join us, players who don't want to leave us. I think this speaks volumes.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 15th, 2018

Messi has injury scare after scoring 2 goals in Barca draw

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Nothing can silence the Camp Nou crowd like the thought of an injury to Lionel Messi — especially four days before a clash against Real Madrid. So a chill ran through Barcelona's supporters during the Spanish league match against Valencia on Saturday when Messi sat down on the sideline, his right leg stretched before him, and received a massage from a team trainer. Little did it matter that the team's all-time leading scorer had just struck two goals to lead Barcelona back from a two-goal deficit to secure a 2-2 draw. Any hint of Messi being sidelined with the season entering its critical phase with titles on the line immediately overshadowed yet another outstanding performance by the Argentine. Messi may have been hurt when Valencia defender Antonio Lato ran into him. The scare comes before Barcelona hosts Madrid in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal. "Please don't let it be anything serious," Barcelona midfielder Carles Alena said. "We hope he will be back in full form on Wednesday." Coach Ernesto Valverde said Messi was undergoing medical exams. "He is bothered by something, but we will have to wait to see what the doctors say," Valverde said. "I imagine that it is not that bad." Messi missed Barcelona's first clasico against Madrid in October due to a broken right arm. His teammates did fine without him, routing their fierce rival 5-1 and sealing the fate of coach Julen Lopetegui. Madrid, however, is playing much better now. It has won four straight before hosting Alaves on Sunday. Before his fitness put a damper on a thrilling match, Messi extended his scoring run to nine straight games across all competitions. His double took his league-leading tally to 21 goals in 22 rounds. Barcelona's winning streak in la Liga ended at eight matches in a row. It leads second-placed Atletico Madrid by six points before its closest title rival visits Real Betis on Sunday. TRADING BLOWS Valencia took advantage of Sergi Roberto playing out of position as a fill-in left back for Jordi Alba. Daniel Wass led several attacks from Roberto's side, starting with a pass for Dani Parejo to test Marc-Andre ter Stegen before Denis Chershev put the rebound off the post. Parejo started a move that produced Kevin Gameiro's opener in the 24th minute when he tackled Messi. That sprung a counterattack led by Rodrigo Moreno, who slipped a pass forward to set up Gameiro. Parejo doubled the advantage from the penalty spot after Roberto knocked down Wass trying to dispute a cross. Valencia lost Gameiro to injury shortly after when the striker asked to be substituted after being shaken up when he knocked heads with Gerard Pique. Messi got his first goal from the penalty spot in the 39th after Nelson Semedo was fouled by Lato. Messi struck again in the 64th when Arturo Vidal laid the ball off for him on the edge of the area. Messi quickly unleashed a curling, left-foot strike around two defenders, who impeded goalie Neto from seeing the ball until it was too late to react. "We played at a good pace, counterattacked well, scored twice and could have scored more," Parejo said. "The team's performance was magnificent." SEVILLE SLIDE Celta Vigo broke a five-match losing streak and escaped the relegation zone by beating Sevilla 1-0 at home thanks to Okay Yokuslu's second-half goal. Fourth-place Sevilla has won only one of its last six league games. BASQUE DERBY Real Sociedad defeated Athletic Bilbao 2-1 to deal its northern Basque Country rival its first defeat since the arrival of coach Gaizka Garitano. Garitano had kept Bilbao unbeaten through seven league games since replacing Eduardo Berizzo in December. FAN VIOLENCE Getafe's 0-0 draw at Levante was marred by 11 Getafe fans being arrested for provoking a clash with rival supporters outside the stadium in Valencia. Getafe, which condemned the violence, rose to fifth as the small Madrid-based club continued its impressive season on the field......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 3rd, 2019

Messi scores record 400th goal in Spanish league

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — That's 400 and counting. Lionel Messi took his all-time Spanish league scoring record to 400 goals on Sunday after contributing to a 3-0 win over Eibar to keep defending champion Barcelona comfortably at the top of the Spanish league. Messi scored Barcelona's second goal shortly after halftime to reach a milestone in the competition after 435 league matches. Former Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo is second all-time in La Liga with 311 goals. In all competitions, Barcelona says the 31-year-old Messi has scored an astonishing 575 goals in 658 appearances. "He is from another galaxy," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. "They are incredible numbers. But he does much more than score goals, he also does so much to generate scoring chances for others." Barcelona's all-time top scorer got the landmark goal in the 53rd minute after Luis Suarez passed to him inside Eibar's area. The Argentine did the rest by opening an angle around a defender and driving in a low left-footed shot. It was also Messi's league-leading 17th league goal and his 23rd goal overall this season. "He should be proud," said Suarez, who scored Barcelona's other two goals. "Game after game he shows what a great player he is. I am happy for him and for the history that he is writing for this club." Barcelona stayed five points ahead of second-placed Atletico Madrid, which edged Levante 1-0 thanks to a penalty from Antoine Griezmann, as the league reached its midway point. Real Madrid lost Karim Benzema to a right-hand injury in a 2-1 win at Real Betis to stay 10 points back in fourth place. HAPPY SIMEONE After 90-plus minutes of prowling the sideline, yelling at his players and stoking his fans, Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone normally hurries off the pitch when the final whistle sounds. But after the victory over Levante, Simeone took time to embrace each of his players — a show of appreciation for their efforts that kept Atletico in the title chase. "I felt the need to hug them," Simeone said. "I congratulated them because they maintained the same level of play throughout the entire match." Despite only scoring one goal, Simeone called it "one of, if not our best, performances of the season." True to Simeone's defense-first approach, Atletico stifled a Levante attack that is among the best in the league. Griezmann did the rest, scoring his team-leading ninth league goal of the season when he fired a spot kick over Levante goalkeeper Oier Olazabal in the 57th minute following a handball by defender Nikola Vukcevic. CEBALLOS TO THE RESCUE Dani Ceballos was greeted with jeers when he went on as a late Real Madrid substitute to face his former club, Real Betis. But he silenced the crowd, and saved his current club from another setback, when he sent a free kick through a gap in the defensive wall to grab the win with two minutes remaining. "I was eager to show what I can do," Ceballos said. Luka Modric struck from distance to open the scoring for Madrid, only for Sergio Canales to equalize in the second half. SEVILLA SLIPS Sevilla lost 2-0 at Athletic Bilbao, ending its unbeaten run in nine rounds. Bilbao forward Inaki Williams scored both goals for the hosts to help lift them out of the relegation zone. Sevilla remained in third place, level on points with Madrid. Sevilla had won 3-1 at Bilbao's San Mames Stadium in the Copa del Rey on Thursday. They will meet again on Wednesday in Seville in the return leg of their round-of-16 game......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2019

Madrid goes after new coach to save its season

  MADRID--- The search is on for a new coach at Real Madrid. With the team reeling from a demoralizing loss to Barcelona and far from the top in the Spanish league standings, Madrid is looking for someone who can turn things around and save the season. Former player Santiago Solari, coach of Madrid's "B'' team, was in charge of practice on Tuesday, but the club was in a hurry to find a replacement who could quickly put the team back on track. Madrid fired Julen Lopetegui on Monday, saying it was time to "change the team's dynamic while all of its objectives for the season were still reachable." The club said the team deserved better results with the quality of pla...Keep on reading: Madrid goes after new coach to save its season.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsOct 30th, 2018

Lopetegui loses lot after being sacked by Real Madrid

MADRID, Spain – Julen Lopetegui's brief and inglorious reign as Real Madrid coach lasted just 139 days after the club confirmed he had been sacked on Monday, October 29.  Lopetegui was dismissed following a meeting of the board of directors, who concluded there had been a "great disproportion between the quality ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsOct 30th, 2018

With Messi out, Suarez takes leadership role for Barcelona

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Even though it ended up a blowout, there was a moment in Barcelona's 5-1 win over Real Madrid on Sunday when the result seemed in the balance. Madrid had just pulled a goal back after overcoming the control Barcelona had imposed to take a 2-0 lead into halftime, and the hosts didn't have Lionel Messi to come to the rescue. That was when Luis Suarez stepped up to add two more goals to his first-half penalty to complete a hat trick that has placed Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui's job in serious peril. "Almost every season I score against Madrid," Suarez said. "They came out of the restart going for the match. They pressured us a lot and had chances to draw level. We scored the third goal and took advantage of our speed and the open space to wrap it up." His second goal was a superb header, as he powered a soft lob from Sergi Roberto past goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. That goal came when his teammates were under pressure after Marcelo had scored and Luka Modric hit the post. Suarez also showed quality marksmanship on his penalty, driving it just inside the post and the diving Courtois, as well as fine finishing to chip in his third goal. "He scored three goals today, but the work of Luis is always there," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. As work goes, Suarez multitasks. The Uruguayan bumps and battles with opposing defenders, makes runs to free up teammates, offers an outlet up front, and helps form part of Barcelona's intricate passing attack. Suarez dedicated his first goal to his family by lifting his shirt up to reveal a T-shirt with a image of this three children on it. "This week my third child was born and her siblings wanted to come with me today, since mommy and Lauti are watching from home," Suarez said. The 31-year-old Suarez has scored nine times in 11 matches against Madrid since joining the Spanish champions after he left Liverpool following his biting of an Italy defender in the 2014 World Cup. Since then, Suarez has been on his best behavior, and become one of the club's veteran leaders. Suarez scored the winner in a 2-1 victory over Madrid that helped Barcelona secure the league title late in the 2014-15 season. The next season he scored twice in a 4-0 win at the Santiago Bernabeu that Messi also missed. He netted in a 1-1 draw with Madrid in 2016-17, and also in a 3-0 win at Madrid and a 2-2 draw at home last season. But the Uruguay striker has been especially important recently with Messi on the sidelines. Since Messi broke his arm in the first half against Sevilla on Oct. 20, Barcelona has outscored its opponents 9-3, including four goals by Suarez. Messi went down while Barcelona was leading Sevilla 2-0. Suarez immediately stepped up by scoring a third goal in an eventual 4-2 victory. He set the tone against Inter Milan in the Champions League last week, assisting Rafinha for the opening goal of a 2-0 win. But Suarez had saved his best for Sunday night, when he fueled a lopsided win that Barcelona's fans will savor. THE RIGHT MOVES Madrid's comeback attempt was triggered by Lopetegui sending on Lucas Vazquez as a right back at the start of the second half. Lethargic until then, Madrid surged forward in waves and Vazquez helped start the move that led to Marcelo's goal. Valverde then made three moves that all contributed directly to goals by catching Madrid off-balance in defense. Valverde swapped Rafinha for right back Nelson Semedo, which allowed him to move Roberto into attack. The versatile Roberto created three scoring chances for Suarez. Valverde also sent on forward Ousmane Dembele and midfielder Arturo Vidal. Dembele dribbled free in the area and crossed for Vidal to head in the fifth goal to complete Madrid's humiliation. "I thought we needed players who could use their speed because we no longer had the control we had in the first half," Valverde said. "The back-and-forth was risky. Sergi helped us get out on the attack.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 29th, 2018

Suarez hits hat-trick as Barcelona blows away Madrid

BARCELONA, Spain – Barcelona ran riot in the Clasico on Sunday, October 28, as Luis Suarez scored the hat-trick that will surely spell the end of Julen Lopetegui's time as Real Madrid coach. Barcelona were 5-1 winners, dominant at Camp Nou for all-but a 15-minute period after halftime when the otherwise ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsOct 29th, 2018

Real Madrid suffers worst goal drought in 3 decades

      MADRID, Spain – Real Madrid failed to ease the pressure on coach Julen Lopetegui and instead set the record for the ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsOct 20th, 2018

Huesca leads Barcelona 1-0 after 3 minutes before losing 8-2

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Newly promoted Huesca enjoyed short-lived celebrations on Sunday after stunning Barcelona with a goal just three minutes into their Spanish league game. But Lionel Messi provided a harsh reality check with two goals as the defending champions went on to demolish Huesca 8-2 at Camp Nou. Messi canceled out Juan "Cucho" Hernandez's opener — after a long buildup by Huesca — with an exquisite solo effort. Facing four defenders honed in on him at the edge of the area, the Argentine lured them toward the center of the field before a sudden change of foot and acceleration left one man on the turf and the rest out of position. Messi then fired a right-footed shot in off the far post for the 16th-minute equalizer. Jordi Alba provoked an own-goal from Jorge Pulido and set up Luis Suarez to make it 3-1 with the first of two goals for the Uruguay striker. Another slip in concentration let Alex Gallar score again for Huesca to make it 3-2 to Barcelona at halftime. In a lopsided second half, Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele and Ivan Rakitic scored before Messi got his second goal and then assisted Alba. Suarez rounded off the easy win by earning and taking a penalty in stoppage time. "It burns to concede a goal on the first attack since it makes you think that you started the match far too relaxed," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. "Huesca gave it its all, but we found our short-passing game and ended up doing a lot of damage." Messi's brace left him level with Karim Benzema as the league's top scorers this season with four goals each. Barcelona and Real Madrid are the only two teams to have won their three opening league games. HERO JOAQUIN Veteran forward Joaquin Sanchez went on as a late substitute and headed Real Betis to its first home win over crosstown rival Sevilla since 2006. The 37-year-old Sanchez scored in the 80th minute to secure the 1-0 victory at Benito Villamarin Stadium. Sanchez had missed the first two games of the season due to injury after having an excellent campaign in 2017-18. "This is a dream debut for the season," Sanchez said. It was Betis' first goal of the campaign. VALENCIA WINLESS Valencia started this season with the two objectives of doing well on its long-awaited return to the Champions League and maintaining a top-four finish in Spain. But three matches into the season and Marcelino Garcia's team has yet to win. Valencia twice had to come from behind to salvage a 2-2 draw at 10-man Levante, its crosstown rival, on Sunday. Roger Marti scored both goals for Levante, with Denis Cheryshev making it 1-1 before Dani Parejo split the points by converting a penalty early in the second half. Levante's Coke Andujar picked up a second booking in the 76th. "We have conceded five goals in three games," Marcelino said. "I don't like my team when it doesn't have the ball." VAR GIVETH, VAR TAKETH The video assistant referee awarded a penalty in favor of Espanyol and annulled a goal by the Barcelona-based side in a 2-1 loss at Alaves. Leo Baptistao converted the penalty, only for Alaves to fight back with goals by Borja Baston and Ruben Sobrino......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 2nd, 2018

Spain and Portugal reach World Cup knockout round

        MOSCOW - Spain and Portugal reached the World Cup last 16 on Monday after two dramatic final group games dominated by VAR decisions.   Spain drew 2-2 with Morocco to top Group B thanks to a late Iago Aspas equalizer that was referred to the video assistant referee and Iran held Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal to a 1-1 draw.   Fernando Hierro's Spain, the 2010 world champions, will play Russia in the next round in Moscow on Sunday while European champions Portugal face Uruguay in Sochi the previous day....Keep on reading: Spain and Portugal reach World Cup knockout round.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJun 25th, 2018

Caretaker Hierro leaving his mark on Spain at World Cup

Spain head coach Fernando Hierro gestures as he speaks to his player Spain's Koke during the group B match between Iran and Spain at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russ.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsJun 22nd, 2018

WORLD CUP: Spain ready to leave coaching woes in the past

Spain head coach Fernando Hierro, top centre, touches his forehead as gives instructions to his players during Spain's official training on the eve of the group B match between Portugal and Sp.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsJun 15th, 2018

Ronaldo 3, Spain 3: Star s hat trick earns draw

MOSCOW (AP) - Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat trick, capped by a dipping free kick in the 88th minute as Portugal and Spain played to a wild 3-3 draw in the Group B opener for both countries in the World Cup. Ronaldo scored twice in the first half, only to see Spain rally for a 3-2 lead after two goals in three minutes early in the second half. Nacho Fernandez put Spain in front with a weaving half-volley from outside the penalty area in the 58th  that bounced off the inside of the far post and trickled into the net.  Ronaldo had one more brilliant moment to come. Earning a free kick from about 20 yards out, Ronaldo's shot got just high enough over the wall and dipped under the crossbar. Goalkeeper David De Gea never moved and the Iberian neighbors each earned a point.  Ronaldo scored on a penalty kick he earned in the fourth minute and again just before halftime on a left-footed shot from the top of the penalty area that De Gea should have saved.  Diego Costa scored twice for the Spaniards, including a 55th-minute tally off a beautiful set piece set up by Andres Iniesta's chip to the end line and a Sergio Busquets header back into the middle of the penalty area. The draw capped a week of turmoil for Spain after the firing of coach Julen Lopetegui. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 15th, 2018

Shellshocked Spain faces Portugal in early World Cup treat

MOSCOW, Russia – Spain and Portugal clash on Friday, June 15,  in an early highlight of the World Cup in Russia as the Spanish camp insists the players are united despite this week's extraordinary sacking of coach Julen Lopetegui. Egyptian fans, meanwhile, will hold their breath to see if prolific Liverpool ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJun 15th, 2018

Shellshocked Spain face Portugal in early World Cup treat

MOSCOW: Spain and Portugal clash on Friday in an early highlight of the World Cup in Russia as the Spanish camp insist they are united despite this week’s extraordinary sacking of coach Julen Lopetegui. Egyptian fans, meanwhile, will hold their breath to see if prolific Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah really has recovered from the shoulder [...] The post Shellshocked Spain face Portugal in early World Cup treat appeared first on The Manila Times Online......»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsJun 15th, 2018

Spain in chaos 2 days before World Cup after coach fired

Spanish football president Luis Rubiales attends a press conference at the 2018 soccer World Cup in Krasnodar, Russia, Wednesday, June 13, 2018. The Spanish soccer federation has fired coach Julen.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsJun 14th, 2018

Spain sacks coach on eve of World Cup

KRASNODAR, Russia (UPDATED) – Spain sacked coach Julen Lopetegui on the even of the 2018 World Cup – and just two days before the team's opening game against Portugal – Spanish football federation chief Luis Rubiales confirmed on Wednesday, June 13. In a surprise announcement on Tuesday, ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJun 13th, 2018