Lionel Messi leads Barcelona back to the top of the standings…
The 32-year-old Argentine soccer star hit a sensational late goal on Sunday to give Barcelona FC a 1-0 win against rival Atletico Madrid, as the team reclaimed the top spot in La Liga from Real Madrid.
Messi, playing his 701st game for Barca, settled a pulsating and tense encounter in the 86th minute, galloping down the right wing before cutting inside and playing a one-two with Luis Suarez before guiding the ball into the bottom corner.
It was Messi’s first goal against Atletico at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium and gave his side their first win over their rivals at the ground in three attempts after successive draws in the last two seasons.
“Whenever you have a game like this which is really tight and really tough, being able to count on Messi is always an advantage,” said Barca coach Ernesto Valverde.
The strike saw Barca return to the top of the standings with 31 points after 14 games, ahead of Real Madrid on goal difference, while Atletico were left in the sixth spot with 25 points, having played one match more than Barca and Real.
Both sides hit the woodwork and Barca keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen also made two stunning saves, while Atletico felt that Gerard Pique should have been shown a second yellow card in the second half for a late tackle on Alvaro Morata.
Atletico were also fortunate not to have a player sent off when Vitolo slammed into Pique’s knee with a fierce challenge a few minutes later after picking up an earlier booking.
“We feel very hard done by,” said Atletico midfielder Saul Niguez. “We played superbly and Barcelona had hardly any chances but when Messi appears he is capable of doing anything and he made it look so easy, that’s why he is the best.”
Atletico had won only one of their previous six games in all competitions and looked intent on making an early statement as they came out pressing Barca high up the pitch and peppering their box with crosses.
An investment group including the 37-year-old Spanish professional footballer and former World Cup champion has been granted a United Soccer League( USL) franchise in New York City.
Queensboro FC will begin play in 2021 in the USL Championship, the second division of professional soccer in the United States. It will host its home matches in a new, modular stadium at York Collegein Queens that will have a capacity of around 7,500. The new team will also play select home matches at Citi Field, home of MLB‘s New York Mets.
“Bringing professional football to Queens’ diverse community is an exciting and unique opportunity,” Villa said in a statement to ESPN. “The beautiful game already lives here, thanks to the melting pot of cultures who are so passionate about the sport. I can’t think of a better place for QBFC to grow. I’m proud to be part of this project.”
Rumors that the USL was planning to place a team in New York City, as well as Villa’s involvement, emerged last summer. Now those plans have come to fruition for the former New York City FCforward and 2016 MLS MVP.
Villa, who counts Sporting Gijon, Real Zaragoza, Valencia, Barcelonaand Atletico Madridamong the clubs he’s played for, spent the 2019 campaign in Japan with J1 Leagueside Vissel Kobe.
“I’m proud to say I’ve had a long-running connection to Queens,” said Villa. “I lived here for four years while I was developing my football academies, teaching kids not just how to play the sport but to appreciate the game’s values, too. Queens is — and always has been — special. You feel the passion for football walking the streets.
“It’s why we’re proud to bring a professional team to this borough. It’s the obvious next step following the clinics, summer camps, academies and various other programs for boys and girls we’ve held in Astoria, Flushing and at Queens College.”
The investment group is led by Jonathan Krane, CEO of New York City-based asset management companyKraneShares. Krane has previously been involved with the USL. This past season KraneShares was the away jersey sponsor of USL Championship side New Mexico United.
“The opportunity to bring professional soccer to Queens has long been a dream of mine and I can’t wait to deliver a USL Championship club that Queens can be proud of,” he said. “I’m thrilled to work with David and represent the borough to the fullest as we look forward to kickoff in 2021.”
In order to focus on his ownership responsibilities, as well as leading the day-to-day soccer operations, Villa will have retired from professional soccer by the time the team begins playing in 2021. Among his goals is to build an academy for local and international talent to develop.
“We will recruit the best players in Queens as we become the home team,” said Villa. “We have a built-in advantage in the number of talented players in the borough. The sporting level in USL is high, which means we have to be demanding in the quality of our athletes. But our goal is to have as many Queens-bred players as possible.”
The USL Championship currently has 34 teams, with San Diego set to come on board next season. Oakland East Bay will join alongside QBFC in 2021.
“Announcing a USL Championship club in Queens is a big moment for our league,” said USL CEO Alec Papadakis. “When we consider expansion, we’re primarily looking for three things: A community who is passionate about soccer, a strong local ownership group, and a pathway towards a soccer-specific stadium. With QBFC, we have all three, and with Jon and David at the helm, we believe this has the potential to be something very special.”
Bayern Munich have completed the signing of the 23-half-Spanish professional soccer player and Atletico Madrid defender for €80 million.
The France international will officially join the team on June 30.
A move to the Allianz Arenahad long been mooted for the World Cup-winner, and he will sign a five-year contract, with Atletico Madrid confirming Bayern met Hernandez’s buy-out clause.
“Today is a very important day in my career,” Hernandez said. “Bayern Munich are one of the best clubs in Europe and the world.
“I am proud to be able to fight for every trophy with Bayern in the future. I would like to thank Atletico, the management, the coaches, my teammates and the fans for a wonderful 12 years. Atletico will always be a part of me. Now I’m happy that I’m taking the next step at Bayern. “
Bayern director Hasan Salihamdzicadded: “I am very happy that in Lucas Hernandez we have been able to sign one of the best defensive players in the world and world champions.
“Lucas can be used both in central defense and on the left. In addition, Lucas will continue our tradition of outstanding French players and strengthen our team.”
Hernandez is sidelined with a knee injury picked up during the 3-1 defeat to Real Madridin La Liga, but Bayern are confident he will be fit for the beginning of the next campaign.
Chelsea Football Club is reportedly preparing to discuss a new contract with 28-year-old Brazilian-born Spanish soccer star, according to Spanish publication AS.
Chelsea is aware of reports suggesting that the Spain international remains a target for his former employers at Atletico Madrid, with Diego Simeone said to be keen on taking him back to Vicente Calderon.
Such talk was fended off over the summer, amid rumors of Costa being unsettled in England, and Costa has responded in the best possible manner with nine Premier League goals and 12 in total for club and country.
Chelsea reportedly is eager to reward that form with an extension of his current deal, which runs until 2019.
Argentina is bidding arrivederci to Giovanni Simeone…
The 21-year-old Argentine soccer player, a striker for Argentina’s Club Atlético River Plate, is set to join Italy’s Genoa Cricket and Football Club, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport announced on Sunday.
Simeone, the son of former-player-turned-coach of Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone. Has reportedly agreed to a five-year deal with the Italian side and will join Argentina national team.
Simeone will also participate in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
At the moment, there’s no official confirmation, but the Italian newspaper reported that the signing will cost three million euros.
The River Plate striker completed the 2015/16 season on loan with Banfield in the Argentine Primera Division.
The 29-year-oldArgentine soccer player and FC Barcelona star is among the 10 players who’ve made the UEFA‘s shortlist for the 2015-16 Goal of the Season award, covering last season’s European club competitions and the Euro 2016 finals.
Messi’s flick past Roma goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny after a team move involving Neymar and Luis Suarez in the 6-1 Champions League group-stage victory is on the list alongside Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez‘s solo effort against Bayern Munich in the semifinal first leg.
Gonzalo Higuain‘s solo run and fierce strike for Napoli against Legia Warsaw in the Europa League is also a contender, with spectacular efforts from Juan Cuadrado and Stephan Lichtsteiner for Juventus also recognised.
The goals chosen from Euro 2016 are Xherdan Shaqiri‘s acrobatic late equalizer for Switzerland against Poland and Marek Hamsik‘s strike for Slovakia against Russia.
That means Zoltan Gera‘s strike for Hungary against Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo‘s header for Portugal against Wales — voted first and second respectively by fans for Euro 2016’s Goal of the Tournament award — are not under consideration.
Also nominated for the Goal of the Season award are Barcelona youngster Carlos Alena‘s mazy dribble against Roma in the UEFA Youth League, Camille Abily‘s overhead kick for Lyon against Sparta Prague in the Women’s Champions League and Ricardinho‘s special strike for Portugal against Serbia at Futsal EURO 2016.
Fans can vote online at UEFA.com until Aug. 23 to choose their favorite goal from the shortlist chosen by UEFA‘s expert panel.
A similar online vote has been launched allowing supporters to choose their Save of the Season.
Luis Suárez is getting a second chance to take down his teammate…
The 29-year-old Uruguayan professional footballer, a striker for Futbol Club Barcelona, has made it to the shortlist for Union of European Football Associations‘ Best Player in Europe Award.
Suárez, the winner of Europe’s Golden Boot after his 40-goal season in La Liga, finished in second place for the coveted UEFA award last year, losing to fellow teammate Lionel Messi.
This year, Suárez was also Barça‘s top scorer in the Champions League, even though the teamcouldn’t get past the quarterfinals, losing to the eventual runner-up, Atlético Madrid.
Messi, the only player in history to have won the award twice, first in 2011 and then in 2015, is up for the award again this year.
But Suárez and Messi aren’t the only Latino players to make the 10-man list.
Real Madrid’s Pepe has made the cut for the second the year in a row. The 33-year-old Brazilian soccer star, a defender for Portugal, is included after a season in which he won the Champions League with Los Blancosbefore winning Euro 2016 with Portugal.
In addition to Suárez, Messi and Pepe, the shortlist is compiled using votes from journalists across UEFA‘s 55 member associations and includes Gareth Bale, Gianluigi Buffon, Antoine Griezmann, Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller, Manuel Neuer and Cristian Ronaldo.
The winner will be announced at the Champions League group stage draw in Monaco on August 25.
Keylor Navas is a perfect No. 10 in the La Liga record books…
The 28-year-old Costa Rican soccer player has broken a club record for clean sheets at the start of a season, after racking up a fourth consecutive clean sheet in La Liga and fifth in a row in all competitions with his clean sheet in Real Madrid’s 1-0 win over Granada on Saturday.
Navas is the tenth goalkeeper in La Liga’s 86-year history to record such a streak at the beginning of the campaign.
The fifth straight shutout since the start of 2015-16 betters former Real Madrid keeper Miguel Angel‘s sequence of four on the spin at the beginning of the 1975-76 campaign.
“It was a difficult night for me at the end of the transfer market but that is now in the past,” Navas told reporters.
“Now I am thinking of the present and the coach [Rafa Benitez] believes in me. I have had the chance to stay and I will give my best. I am very grateful to the Real fans for their support which is not easy to earn.”
Marca reports that Navas is now just 10 minutes away from bettering Iker Casillas‘ personal best without conceding a goal, after the Spaniard went 460 minutes without being beaten in 2008-09.
Before Navas, Claudio Bravo was the last man to join the exclusive club of keepers to have remained unbeaten four weeks into the La Liga season, with the Chilean settling quickly into life at Barça last term. Real Madrid’s only other member of this hall of fame is Miguel Ángel, who didn’t concede in any of his first four league appearances in 1975-76.
Navas’ streak has put him in the esteemed company of Barça legends Salvador Sadurní (1968-69), the first to achieve the feat, and Pello Artola (1977-78); Atlético Madrid great Abel Resino (1991-92); Deportivo‘s Paco Liaño (1993-94); Real Sociedad‘s José Ramón Esnaola (1970-71); Celta Vigo‘s Pablo Cavallero (2001-02), Zaragoza‘s Manolo Villanova (1972-73) and Compostela‘s Javier Falagán (1995-96).