As they continue to fight on multiple fronts at the business end of the European season, we will likely hear Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp or Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola complaining about the fixtures piling up. If they do, spare a thought for Deportivo Lara coach Leonardo Gonzalez.
The Venezuelan club he leads played two official games less than six hours apart on Wednesday -- including one in the Copa Libertadores -- and he was still able to win both encounters. Not even a blackout during the game at their home ground could stop them sealing a unique set of back-to-back victories.
The Rojinegro had asked for their domestic league game at Llaneros de Guarane on April 3 to be postponed, only for the country's football federation to turn down the request.
Deportivo Lara won 3-2 at Llaneros, a game that kicked off at 3 p.m. local time, before making the more than two-hour journey home to host Argentine side Huracan in the Copa Liberadores group stage, a game that started at 8:30 p.m. local time. Deportivo Lara beat Huracan 2-1 for their first continental win of the year.
The feat was an all-around squad effort, with the club using two different teams for the two games. An XI made up of fringe players turned out in the first encounter of the day before the first-teamers took on Huracan in the evening. Coach Gonzalez was on the sideline for both encounters.
The game against Huracan was played behind closed doors, with Deportivo Lara serving a stadium ban imposed by CONMEBOL.
Founded 1903 Address Paseo Virgen del Puerto 67 28005 Madrid Country Spain Phone +34 (91) 366 4707 Fax +34 (91) 366 9811 E-mail [email protected] Ronald Koeman could use the Supercopa de Espana to win his first title as Barcelona coach, and will at least contest his first final in the competition after his team edged past Real Sociedad in Cordoba this evening in the first semi-final. The Blaugrana opened the scoring in the first half before conceding in the second, but.
It didn't go all as planned for the home side, as the Estadio Metropolitano suffered a blackout due to a brief power cut before the hosts were reduced to 10 men, but they managed to hold out for a second win of the day.
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But even Deportivo Lara can consider themselves lucky: another Venezuelan team, Zamora, also had to play two games on Wednesday. The first was a 4-0 league defeat at Deportivo La Guaira, before suffering a 3-2 loss in the Copa Libertadores fixture at Brazilian club Atletico Mineiro -- over 4,00 miles away.
So if you hear Klopp or Guardiola use a packed schedule as an excuse between now and the end of the season, take those complaints with a pinch of salt -- it could be a whole lot worse.
The January transfer window opens in a matter of days and speculation is heating up about potential deals. Check out the latest gossip below and see all official deals here.
Barcelona captain Lionel Messi touched on a myriad of topics in a big interview with La Sexta on Sunday night, but his comments on possibly playing in Major League Soccer one day has piqued the interest of fans in the United States.
When asked about whether he'd play in MLS, Messi said: 'I always had the dream of being able to enjoy and have the experience of living in the United States, experience what the league there is like.'
There was plenty of discussion about the Argentina international's future at Barcelona, with the likes of Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain linked, but he admitted that no decision will be made until June.
'No [I won't talk with other clubs because] I don't have anything clear until the end of the year,' Messi added. 'I am going to wait for the season to finish. The important thing is to think about the team and to try and win titles, not to get distracted with other issues.
'I don't know what will happen. I am focused on what we have in front of us over the next six months. It would not be right to tell you what I am going to do after that because even I don't know.'
City Football Group own NYCFC while David Beckham's Inter Miami CF has seemingly been linked with every global star out there, so there will surely be intrigue if Messi does decide he wants a move to the U.S.
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21.38 GMT: With Atletico Madrid in the market for a replacement for the imminently departing Diego Costa, Valencia are on high alert to the potential of losing 24-year-old Uruguay front man Maxi Gomez to the capital club, according to Marca.
20.51 GMT: Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Internazionale could move to bring in Gervinho from Parma as cover for Romelu Lukaku, and in exchange send Andrea Pinamonti to the Ennio Tardini in exchange.
20.04 GMT: Atletico Madrid and Diego Costa will soon terminate the 32-year-old striker's clause six months early, but El Mundo reports that there's a catch: Should the Spain international move to join title rivals Real Madrid, Barcelona or Sevilla, his new team will have to pay Los Rojiblancos €25m.
19.17 GMT: Hakan Calhanoglu is waiting to receive the latest contract offer from AC Milan, expected at the end of the month, according to Gazzetta dello Sport, with the two sides some €1.5m apart in annual wages - the 26-year-old playmaker requesting €5m plus bonuses, and the Rossoneri offering €3.5m, up from the €2.5m salary in his existing deal.
18.30 GMT: Manchester United signed veteran striker Edinson Cavani on a free transfer in the summer and it has worked out well.
17.27 GMT: Real Madrid spent €60m to sign Luka Jovic last summer and he has only scored twice since. Now the 23-year-old Serbia international striker is being lined up by Wolves.
The Athletic reports that Wolves are looking at a loan deal in January as Raul Jimenez recovers from his fractured skull. Jovic is on the shortlist while 'Wolves have whittled some 30 strikers down to a handful but Liverpool forward Divock Origi is, at the moment, not a priority.'
17.03 GMT: Can Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta trust his young stars to dig the club out of their Premier League relegation battle? Mark Ogden explains.
History has shown, at every club, that young players tend to blow hot and cold, and the likes of Saka, Martinelli and Smith Rowe will find it difficult to sustain three top-level performances in the space of seven days. But their contribution against Chelsea was huge and Arteta will want to play them again, despite knowing that experience is vital in such crucial games. The manager's biggest problem is that he simply cannot trust many of the more established players to perform but he still needs them, if only to help bridge the gap between now and the time in perhaps 6-12 months when the youngsters are able to shoulder the burden more consistently.
Arteta has been let down this season, either with bad performances or ill-discipline (or both), by Granit Xhaka, David Luiz, Nicolas Pepe, Gabriel Magalhaes, Alexandre Lacazette, Willian, Dani Ceballos and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. And then there is the situation with Mesut Ozil, who has not kicked a ball for the club since football restarted in June. Reports have suggested that Arteta's treatment of the German midfielder has upset some senior players, so that is another issue the manager must address if he is to get the best from his sensitive stars.
In an ideal world, Arteta would clear out those players who question his judgment or repeatedly fail to deliver, but he doesn't have the squad to do that, so he must rely on that same group of players to get the results Arsenal need to pull away from their lowly position in the table.
16.23 GMT: Inter Milan are looking at Liverpool forward Divock Origi, according to Corriere dello Sport.
Origi has played only a handful of minutes in three Premier League games so far this season and is keen to move to get more regular game-time.
Inter want the 25-year-old as a backup to fellow Belgium international Romelu Lukaku, who has 15 goals in 17 appearances, with Alexis Sanchez and Lautaro Martinez other options up front.
Origi was being tipped to join Leeds in the January transfer window but would Inter offer him more of a chance?
15.33 GMT: If Arsenal and Tottenham want to improve their team, they could do worse than look at RB Leipzig midfielder Marcel Sabitzer.
14.55 GMT: Tottenham are being linked with a move for former player Christian Eriksen, says Calciomercato.
Eriksen left the club to join Inter Milan last January for around €20m, but has failed to settle in Italy and is on the transfer market now.
PSG are reported to be most interested, while Tottenham's city rivals Arsenal are also keeping an eye on the midfielder. But Calciomercato reckons Tottenham will offer around €35m (which seems a lot given what they let him go for) as Jose Mourinho seeks an alternative to the underperforming Dele Alli.
Former Tottenham coach Mauricio Pochettino is set to take over at PSG in the coming days, so it wouldn't be a shock if Eriksen or Alli chose Paris as their next destination.
14.34 GMT: Portland Timbers are considering sending Jeremy Ebobisse on loan to a club in the German 2. Bundesliga, sources have told ESPN. The 23-year-old forward scored eight goals in 19 games last season.
Portland have also turned down offers of around $1.5m from Europe for midfielder Eryk Williamson.
14.00 GMT: Columbus Crew only signed winger Luis Diaz for $1m from Club Sport Herediano of Costa Rica's First Division in July 2019 and now they've rejected a bid of twice that.
Diaz, 20, has impressed this season as he helped the Crew claim the MLS Cup trophy. Now sources have told ESPN that the club have refused a bid of around $2m from a unnamed side from the French Ligue 1.
13.31 GMT: Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said the club have every intention of extending Edinson Cavani's contract at Old Trafford.
Cavani signed a one-year deal in October with the option of another season -- and the 33-year-old has impressed Solskjaer so much that the club are already exploring the possibility of extending his stay.
'At the moment, it looks like he has a few years left in him so I wouldn't say anything else,' Solskjaer said. 'He has made a great impact when he has come here.
'Let's focus on improving everyone but he has a few years left in him. He is so meticulous and professional, his habits and everything about him, shows why he has had the career he has. Even at the age he is now he is one of the fittest players we have got.'
12.56 GMT: Chelsea spent £47.7m to sign Timo Werner in the summer, but he's struggling.
12.13 GMT:Gareth Bale's form and fitness at Tottenham is worrying Real Madrid. with concern there will be a lack of offers to sign him permanently next summer, Diario AS reports.
Bale is on a season-long loan at White Hart Lane, with Tottenham paying half of his salary.
His contract at the Bernabeu runs until 2022 and Madrid had hoped a return to his former club would see Bale boost his value ahead of a summer sale.
The Wales forward has scored three goals in all competitions so far this season, but only started one Premier League game.
Injury worries saw him taken off at half-time in Spurs' 3-1 League Cup win at Stoke on Dec. 23 and ruled him out of Sunday's 1-1 draw with Wolves.
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11.21 GMT: Mauricio Pochettino has already signed a contract with Paris Saint-Germain to replace Thomas Tuchel as the club's new head coach, according to Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano.
Sources told ESPN's Julien Laurens on Christmas Eve that PSG had sacked Tuchel with former Tottenham boss Pochettino set to come in, although a formal announcement of either of those things is yet to be made four days later.
Sources added that Pochettino, who spent five years with Spurs before his sacking last November, had been in negotiations with PSG for two weeks, and now it has been reported that the Argentine has already put pen to paper on a deal after Tuchel agreed a severance package worth €6m.
Pochettino, who spent two years of his playing career at PSG, is expected to be publicly unveiled soon. PSG return to action when they face a trip to Saint-Etienne on Jan. 6.
- Laurens: Why PSG finally moved on from Tuchel and hired Poch
10.37 GMT:Georginio Wijnaldum is reportedly taking time to consider a new contract offer from Liverpool (see Paper Talk section), but will he still decide to leave?
09.49 GT: Luka Modric would like to stay at Real Madrid for another three seasons after verbally agreeing a new one-year deal, according to Diario AS.
The newspaper reports that the contract extension until June 2022 will see the 35-year-old take a pay cut as the club look to reduce their spending due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
AS reports that Modric is happy to continue to extend year-on-year, and is confident that will see him remain in Madrid until the summer of 2024.
The veteran midfielder has featured in 14 of Real Madrid's 15 La Liga games so far this season.
08.54 GMT: Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher says the Premier League champions must sign a centre-back in the January transfer window.
Joel Matip was the latest Liverpool centre-back to suffer an injury, as he was forced off in the second half of Sunday's 1-1 draw with West Brom with a groin problem.
With Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez ruled out long-term, hat leaves Rhys Williams, Nathanial Phillips and Sepp van den Berg as the only recognised centre-backs in Jurgen Klopp's squad to partner Fabinho.
'It is a massive worry but it is not a new worry,' Carragher told Sky Sports. 'That is why it is paramount Liverpool sign someone in January. I said that as soon as Virgil van Dijk had his injury. Fabinho has looked like a top-class centre-back, but Matip is just too injury prone. His body just can't take the rigours of playing in the Premier League week in, week out.
'I still believe Liverpool are the best team in the league even without Van Dijk. The only way they don't win it is if they have problems at centre-back where Rhys Williams or Nat Phillips have to play for a prolonged period. It's not a position for young players. At times they will make mistakes because they are young and learning.
'Liverpool need someone there to make sure that they don't end up with two young lads playing there for five or six weeks if, say, Fabinho went down injured. They have to do something in January.'
08.00 GMT: Manchester City midfielder Phil Foden is growing increasingly frustrated with his lack of Premier League game time, the Daily Telegraph reports.
Foden has made 18 appearances for City this season and has broken into the England team, scoring twice in last month's 4-0 win over Iceland.
However, the 20-year-old has started just one of City's last 10 league games, and hasn't even made it off the bench in three of the last five.
The Telegraph report adds that Foden remains fully committed to the club despite interest from Real Madrid, and he wants to continue his development under Pep Guardiola at the Etihad. Foden's current contract runs until 2024.
Arsenal see Brighton & Hove Albion defender Tariq Lamptey as a replacement for Hector Bellerin if Barcelona sign the Spaniard, suggests the Mirror.
The Gunners are keen to keep hold of Bellerin but are making contingency plans just in case he does return to Barcelona, having come through La Masia.
They see former Chelsea academy star Lamptey as the best option, having monitored his development closely.
It is suggested within the report that both Bayern Munich and Manchester City are also both keeping an eye on him.
Georginio Wijnaldum wants to reflect on a contract offer from Liverpool before making up his mind, reports Fabrizio Romano.
It is suggested that Liverpool have made the Netherlands international an offer which he has not yet responded to.
This comes with his contract reaching its culmination in the summer of 2021, meaning he will be allowed to walk away for free.
Wijnaldum, who has been linked closely with Barcelona and Inter Milan, has said he will give Liverpool priority and tell them before negotiating with any other clubs as a free agent if he chooses to do so.
- Diego Costa has asked Atletico Madrid to terminate his contract early for family reasons, according to AS. His contract is due to come to an end in the summer of 2021, but he reportedly wants to leave immediately. It is suggested that the 32-year-old already has a number of offers on the table.
- Sampdoria, Bologna, Torino and Villarreal are all showing an interest in signing Fiorentina striker Patrick Cutrone, reports Calciomercato. The 22-year-old has found game-time hard to come by this term, so La Viola are willing to let him move on. They are reportedly looking at Lazio's Felipe Caicedo or Cagliari's Leonardo Pavoletti to replace him.