I happened to be in Barcelona last December. (Lovely, lovely place at Christmas time, by the way.)
I remember getting a giggle from the way the city was coming apart because – Gasp! – Real Madrid had assumed a “seemingly insurmountable” lead of eight or so points on Barca. (Sorry, I can’t exactly remember the deficit – I was distracted by amazing tapas).
Well, Real Madrid did go on, as feared by the good Catalan folks, to capture La Liga’s top flight by a total of … yes, nine points. What do I know about La Liga?
Well here we are, in late November. And while Barca does have lots of work ahead to claim another La Liga crown – and a first under new boss Tito Vilanova – it looks increasingly as if Real Madrid is out of this thing. Barca now holds an 11-point cushion on Jose Mourinho’s struggling bunch of highly paid stars; Atletico Madrid, just three points down in the table after 13 rounds, looks to be the bigger bother now to Leo Messi, Andres Iniesta, Xavi and the rest of the talented men of Camp Nou.
So there are two big La Liga talkers today: Is the chase over for Real Madrid following yesterday’s stunning upset to Real Betis?
And from Barca’s side, there Messi’s merry chase of Gerd Muller’s record. The inimitable Argentine attacker hit for two more Sunday as Barca took down Levante, 4-0.
That gives Messi 82 goals (70 for club, 12 for country), three short of the most in a calendar year; Germany’s Muller struck for 85 goals back in 1972.
Victor Guzman used Pachuca’s first shot on target of the game to score the deciding goal in stoppage time, and Tuzos are champions of Liga MX after a 1-1 draw in Sunday’s second leg of the Liga MX Liguilla final versus Monterrey.
[ MORE: Kidnapped Pulido freed by police ]
Pachuca entered the game with a 1-0 lead, but found things level early before going down a man. But Guzman out-jumped USMNT left back Edgar Castillo for the title-winning goal, giving fellow U.S. back Omar Gonzalez his first Liga MX crown.
Here’s the goal:
Gonzalez was left out of Jurgen Klinsmann’s final 23-man roster for the Copa America Centenario, which begins Friday against Colombia. Castillo was, too, but was called into replace injured Timmy Chandler.
We doubt Gonzalez is thinking about that much right now. He’s more likely thinking about dancing some more:
There’s been a quick resolution to the kidnapping of Olympiacos and Mexico striker Alan Pulido, who has been freed by police after a “rescue operation”.
Pulido was kidnapped early Sunday while leaving a party with his girlfriend. Their car was blocked from advancing by the kidnappers, and his girlfriend was let go.
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The kidnapping lasted for several hours, as police organized quickly to find the 25-year-old striker.
From the BBC:
Pulido, 25, appeared with a bandaged hand and told reporters he was “very well”.
Officials said the rescue operation was carried out on Sunday night, without giving more details.
The high profile case clearly took priority, and tracking down this kidnapping victim was apparently fairly simple. Good to see.
PARIS (AP) Paris Saint-Germain defender Serge Aurier has been arrested following an argument with police after a night out in a Paris, a police official told The Associated Press on Monday.
The official said Aurier was arrested at 5:50 a.m. local time after he spent the night at a club with friends near the Champs-Elysees. The official said Aurier was put in a holding cell for “using violence on a police officer.”
The police official spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly of the case.
[ MORE: Kidnapped Pulido freed after police operation]
PSG officials said the club will wait until receiving further information before making any comment on the incident, “which did not take place during a competition period.”
Aurier was suspended for six weeks in February after a video emerged on social media showing him making derogatory comments about PSG coach Laurent Blanc, striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and other players.
The Ivory Coast defender is widely regarded as one of the best right backs in Europe.
Kasper Schmeichel is a Premier League-winning goalkeeper, just like his even-more-famous father, Peter, and no one can ever take that away from him.
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What can always be taken from the big Danish shot-stopper, though, is his starting job at Leicester City. That’s where Ron-Robert Zieler, a six-times-capped goalkeeper and 2014 World Cup winner with Germany, comes into play.
27 years old and out of contract after the expiration of his deal with Hannover, Zieler is set to become the Foxes’ first signing of the summer as Claudio Ranieri and Co. prepare to defend their PL title next season. (It’s still weird to say that, in case you were wondering.)
[ MORE: Rashford to be handsomely rewarded for breakout season ]
Zieler arrived in Leicester on Sunday, according to Hannover’s official website, and was set to undergo a medical examination before signing a long-term contract. An established Bundesliga starter since the age of 22 (started all 34 league games each of the last five seasons), Zieler will arrive at the King Power Stadium with expectations far loftier than those of the man he’ll battle for the starting job next season, if not comparable name recognition.
With neither ‘keeper north of 30 years old as of yet (Schmeichel will turn 30 in November), it would seem that Ranieri can do no wrong in choosing either one of the combatants his no. 1 ahead of the 2016-17 season.