Spanish Primera División

Gary Lineker brands Benzema ‘overrated,’ Spanish pundits hit back

Former Tottenham Hotspur and Barcelona striker Gary Lineker had the tables turned on him by Spanish pundits after the BT Sport presenter questioned Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema’s quality on Twitter during Spurs’ 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu on Tuesday. Madrid had the clearer opportunities over the 90 minutes of their Champions League Group H clash, with Benzema pulling a shot wide of an open goal in the first half, and then being denied at point-blank range by goalkeeper Hugo Lloris after the break. Lineker clearly felt Benzema should have done better, and tweeted to his 6.6 million followers that the France striker was “rescued” by strike partner Cristiano Ronaldo. Is it me or is Benzema a tad overrated? A goal every other game in a team as strong as Real Madrid i...

Keylor Navas earns Real Madrid a point vs. Spurs with sparking performance

Hugo Lloris and Keylor Navas each put on a show between the sticks as Real Madrid and Spurs battled to a draw. Real Madrid and Spurs shared the spoils in an evenly contested game in the Bernabeu and neither side will lament missed opportunities in the 1-1 draw. The results were fair and made that much more palatable because of the stalemate between APOEL and Dortmund. A Raphael Varane own goal gave Tottenham the lead and Cristiano Ronaldo equalised from the spot in an open encounter with both keepers proving the stars of the show. Positives Spurs have allowed just 14 shots on target in eight Premier League games and Real managed more than half of that number here, even with Ronaldo’s post-rattling effort excluded. Against a lesser keeper than Hugo Lloris something would have hit the ...

Jordi Alba out for Barcelona against Olympiakos after picking up knock

The FC crew agree Barcelona are still in control in La Liga after fighting back for a draw against Atletico Madrid. Jordi Alba will miss Barcelona’s Champions League game with Olympiakos after picking up an injury in training on Tuesday. Barca say the left-back has a thigh muscle problem but are unable to confirm for how long he will be out of action. Alba will definitely miss Wednesday’s match against Olympiakos but a decision on Saturday’s league meeting with Malaga will be made closer to the time. Paco Alcacer has been called up to take Alba’s place in the squad, but Lucas Digne is most likely to take his place in Ernesto Valverde’s starting lineup. The French international has started just one game so far this season, the 6-1 league triumph against Eibar. ...

La Liga cancels award ceremony for 2016-17 in order to launch new format

A number of stars failed to attend last season’s La Liga awards ceremony. The Spanish Football League (LFP) has cancelled its annual Gala Awards Ceremony that honours the top players and coaches in Spain and will instead create a new format that ensures better attendance. The 2015-16 awards winners Lionel Messi (best striker) and Luis Suarez (best world player) of Barcelona as well as Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann (best player of the year) did not attend the ceremony that was held in October 2016 in Valencia. A La Liga statement to ESPN FC said: “With the aim of defining a new format and adapting it to the La Liga new strategy, we have taken the decision not to celebrate the Gala Awards for the 2016-17 campaign. “La Liga will focus all its efforts to end 2017 ...

Cristiano Ronaldo leads tributes to victims of Portugal, Spain fires

Ballon d’Or candidate Isco fancies Real Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo to retain the trophy next January. Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and other football stars have expressed support on social media for the firefighters and victims of the fires that have ravaged Portugal and the north of Spain over the past few days. At least 36 people in Portugal and four in Spain have died since the fires began over the weekend. More than 50 people have also been injured in Portugal, with 15 reported to be in a serious condition. “Impossible to be indifferent to this tragedy,” Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo tweeted. “I express my solidarity to the families and friends of the victims. My total support to the firefighters that risk their lives to help as best they ca...

Player Power Rankings: Icardi impeccable

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Valencia move into second place with thrilling defeat of Betis; Villarreal win

Valencia held on to beat Betis in a goal-fest on Sunday. Valencia climbed to second in La Liga, but only after Real Betis threatened to stage a remarkable fightback before succumbing to a 6-3 loss. The free-scoring visitors looked home and dry as they moved into a 4-0 lead in the 74th minute at the Estadio Benito Villamarin, but 10 minutes later Betis had got it back to 4-3, only for Valencia to finally kill the game with two more goals at the death. Unbeaten Valencia made it 17 goals in their last four games as they recorded a fourth straight win, moving a point ahead of Real Madrid and four behind Barcelona. A bizarre game featured seven goals in under half-an-hour in the second half as Joel Campbell, Antonio Sanabria and Cristian Tello netted with smart finishes in a six-minute spell fr...

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Luis Suarez steps up as Barca draw at Atletico, preserve unbeaten Liga run

Suarez is not at his best this season but did the job to earn Barca a point on the road this weekend. MADRID — Luis Suarez saved Barcelona’s unbeaten start to the season but Ernesto Valverde’s side saw their seven-game winning run in La Liga come to an end with a 1-1 draw against Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday. Saul Niguez’s superb first-half strike had given Atletico a deserved lead and for large parts of the night it looked as if Diego Simeone’s side would inflict defeat on Barca for the first time in the league this season. However, Suarez’s 82nd-minute header earned a point for the league leaders. Positives Barca are still unbeaten in the league and have a five-point lead over second place, which is now occupied by Real Madrid...

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