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MADRID (AP) Luis Enrique is finally saying goodbye to Barcelona, with one last chance at a trophy.
The Luis Enrique era in Barcelona ends after the Copa del Rey final against Alaves on Saturday, when the coach could cap his three-year stint with a ninth trophy out of a possible 13.
It would be a fitting farewell for him nearly three months after his surprise announcement that he was leaving.
“It would be a special title,” Luis Enrique said.
The former Barcelona midfielder has won nearly everything as the coach, since replacing Gerard Martino in 2014.
He led the team to the treble of the Spanish league, Copa del Rey, and Champions League in 2015. He achieved the league-Copa double in 2016, and began this season with the Spanish Super Cup title, their only trophy so far.
It hasn’t been Luis Enrique’s best season with Barcelona, which was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Champions League, and lost the Spanish league to Real Madrid last weekend.
“I’m happy and more than satisfied for all the years that I’ve enjoyed with this club,” the 47-year-old Luis Enrique said.
He announced in March he was leaving so he could get some rest.
“I came here to be a leader and I’ve been one. I’m leaving when I think it’s the best time to do it.”
His other titles included the 2015 European Super Cup and the 2015 Club World Cup.
Barcelona has yet to lose a Copa del Rey home-and-away series since he took over, a run of 12 straight triumphs.
“We are all thankful for these three years (with Luis Enrique),” captain Andres Iniesta said. “We have to win one last title to finish the best possible way.”
Barcelona has been in the Copa final in seven of the last nine seasons, including the last four. It has won it a record 28 times, including the last two.
Alaves will be playing in the final of a major tournament for only the second time in its 96-year history. The other was the UEFA Cup 16 years ago, when it lost to Liverpool 5-4 in extra time.
Alaves’ only winner’s trophy is for Spain’s second division. It was a promoted club in Spain’s top division this season after 10 years in the lower divisions, including four in the third tier. It finished ninth in the Liga.
Alaves enters the Copa final boosted from having beaten Barcelona 2-1 at Camp Nou at the beginning of the season.
The coach touted to replace Luis Enrique at Barcelona is Ernesto Valverde, who left Athletic Bilbao this week. An official announcement is expected next week.
Marco Silva came to the Premier League, he saw the PL, but he didn’t conquer the PL — at least, not yet.
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It was announced on Thursday that the 39-year-old Portuguese manager, who took over last-place Hull City in January, has left the club after succumbing to relegation from the PL. Silva, whose stock rose quickly during his brief stay in England, signed a contract that ran only through the end of the season should they be relegated, thus he’s not sure on options these days. Hull would have undoubtedly welcomed him back for a run at promotion from the Championship next season.
As recently as Wednesday, Silva was expected to be named the new boss at Porto, though various reports stated that talks between the manager and club had broken down.
You should always bet on yourself, and that’s exactly what David Luiz did last summer in returning to Chelsea and the Premier League.
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Whether or not you succeed is secondary to believing in and backing yourself to to do well in an situation, no matter how difficult. When Luiz left Chelsea in the summer of 2014, he did so as something of a joke in PL circles — his eccentric playing style had caused him to commit a number of memorable sometimes-hilarious gaffes which eventually branded him a liability as a “defender.”
After two seasons at Paris Saint-Germain, where he won everything that French football has to offer, Luiz was given an opportunity to return to England and prove wrong so many who had doubted him. It was a “risk,” according to Luiz, but an opportunity he couldn’t pass up — quotes from the Guardian:
“I was winning everything in Paris. I was there for two years and won all the titles in France. I had a great life, great credibility with the club. … I had everything.
“But then I took a risk to come back to the one country that was not that happy with me. Where they always criticized me a lot even after winning the Champions League, the Europa League or where I’d played all the games. That’s why it was a risk. And I love the risk. If you don’t take risks in your life — in your professional life but also in everyday life — you never feel anything new, so I [chose to] taste something new. I don’t like to stay always with the easy life, but I’m happy now because I took the right decision.”
Antonio Conte, the manager who sought to bring Luiz back to Stamford Bridge, heard what everyone was saying about the 30-year-old Brazilian international, and he couldn’t believe his ears — quotes from the Guardian:
“I heard a lot of bad things when he arrived, that he was ‘not a defender.’ But we were sure we were signing a really good player we could lift up again to be one of the best defenders in Europe and, I hope, in the world. He has good technique, he’s strong, he starts our possession and has the personality to do this.”
Luiz was a standout performer for a title-winning side with the third-best defensive record in the PL this season.
Conte and Luiz – 1, Everyone else – 0.
MADRID (AP) Spanish prosecutors are considering whether Cristiano Ronaldo should face charges over allegations by the country’s tax agency that he defrauded the authorities of 15 million euros ($16.7 million) between 2011 and 2014.
Prosecutors said Thursday they have until the end of June to decide whether to charge the Real Madrid star, based on evidence from an investigation by tax officials.
The alleged irregularities were mostly related to money that Ronaldo had in the Virgin Islands.
Tax officials said Ronaldo adjusted his tax declarations and paid an extra 6 million euros ($6.7 million) in 2014.
Prosecutors said that if they decided to charge him, and if the Portugal captain was subsequently found guilty by a court, he would face a prison sentence of at least 15 months. However, it would be unlikely he would go to jail as a first-time offender.
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi was convicted of tax fraud last year.