World’s most valuable team is now Real Madrid, not Manchester United

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For the first time since Forbes began producing their list of soccer’s most valuable clubs, Manchester United is not at the top,a  small irony the day after Premier League chief Richard Scudamore touted having the world’s biggest club. If the measure is value, then that’s not longer the case, because with an estimated current value of $3.3 billion, Real Madrid has ascended to the list’s top spot. Manchester United ranks second, while Barcelona sit third, the world’s three kings sitting atop a $1.3 billion gap to team number four.

How does a team become a $3.3 billion franchise? Here are some of the points Forbes picked out about El Real:

  • Revenue of $650 million during 2011-12, most in the soccer world.
  • Operating income of $134 million, second in the sports world to only the Dallas Cowboys.
  • New kit deal with adidas worth $40 million/year.
  • $39 million/year kit sponsorship with Emirates Airlines.
  • A revenue increase of 62% over the last three years
  • An average operating margin of 28% over the same time.
  • Oh, and having massive on-field success thanks to various transcendent stars.

Forbes has been compiling these rankings since 2004, so it’s not exactly like Real Madrid is ending an epic run of dominance. And it’s not like the Red Devils have fallen on their collective faces, either. As the magazine puts it, “It is not that the Red Devils have faltered. It is just that Los Merengues are simply bigger, more profitable and growing faster than Manchester United.”

The full list, below, includes six English Premier League clubs in the top 11, the product of lucrative television deals, not the least of which is NBC’s new pact with the circuit, set to kick-in this fall. Elsewhere on the list, Europe’s other big leagues are still well represented. Though Spain only have the big two, Germany and Italy place four clubs on the list. France has two, and encouragingly, Brazil’s league has one: Sao Paulo titans Corinthians.

Also is the range, in dollars, from top to bottom. The gap from first to 20th is “only” about $3 billion. Between Real Madrid and Newcastle, you can slot in a Barcelona.

Be sure to check out the whole piece, which goes into how the rankings were compiled. It also includes an interesting video with Mike Ozanian, the man in the byline.

Forbes’ Most Valuable Soccer Clubs – Top 20

1. Real Madrid ($3.3 billion)
2. Manchester United ($3.165 billion)
3. Barcelona ($2.6 billion)
4. Arsenal ($1.326 billion)
5. Bayern Munich ($1.309 billion)
6. AC Milan ($945 million)
7. Chelsea ($901 million)
8. Juventus ($694 million)
9. Manchester City ($689 million)
10. Liverpool ($651 million)
11. Tottenham Hotspur ($520 million)
12. Schalke 04 ($498 million)
13. Borussia Dortmund ($456 million)
14. Inter Milan ($401 million)
15. Olympique Lyonnais ($368 million)
16. Corinthians Paulista ($358 million)
17. Napoli ($330 million)
18. Hamburg SV ($300 million)
19. Olympique Marseille ($285 million)
20. Newcastle ($263 million)

Mexico captain Guardado suffers hamstring injury

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With the World Cup still half a year away, there’s plenty of time to heal from injuries and get the body right after tweaking things during the club season.

And yet, there will still be some concern among Mexico fans.

Team captain Andres Guardado suffered a hamstring tear, his club Real Betis confirmed on Monday, and is expected to miss 3-4 weeks. That’s nothing to write home about when it comes to preparing for the big tournament, but with Guardado 31 years old and struggling with injuries in recent years, Mexico fans will be keenly aware that hamstring injuries can return with a vengeance if not given the right time to heal.

Guardado has shown his age in recent times, not necessarily with his play on the field, which has been critical to his country, but with his fitness. Guardado has just four full 90 minute performances for Mexico dating back to October of 2016, missing time with ankle, leg, and now hamstring injuries in that span.

The 31-year-old has had a fine season so far for Real Betis, scoring one goal and assisting six while appearing in all 15 La Liga matches for the club thus far. The club sits 12th in the La Liga table with 18 points.

Guardado will be fine with plenty of time to spare, but if not fully healed properly, there’s always the risk that muscle injuries can flare back up, and Mexico fans will hope that their captain’s club gives him plenty of rest to recover.

Mark Hughes wants Stoke City to “suck it up”

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Mark Hughes is under fire at Stoke City with the Potters firmly entrenched in the relegation battle, and with that he’s charging his players, staff, and himself to gut the rest of the season out.

With Stoke heading to Turf Moor to take on Burnley, they sit just three points above the drop. The players were faced with jeers from angry fans at the train station following this past weekend’s 5-1 disaster against Tottenham. The fiery Hughes is hoping to use this jarring moment to jolt his squad.

[ PREVIEW: Tuesday’s Premier League action ]

“That is still resonating. It’s good we have a game because it is still fresh in their ears probably, and they can use it as a motivating factor,” said Hughes during his pre-match press conference.

“You either suck it up and do ­something about it or you go under, and we can’t accept players like that. I don’t feel we have players like that.”

With managers nowadays often reaching into the excuses barrel as they hope to save their own skins, Hughes refuses to do just that, instead placing the decision firmly on the players shoulders, telling them they are the only ones who can save the club.

“Maybe some hadn’t ­confronted that before – but sometimes you need a reality check, and understand how our results and ­performances affect people,” Hughes said. “When people criticize you, you have to grow a thick skin in this industry. If you don’t, you’re in the wrong place.”

Louis van Gaal calls Mourinho’s United “far more boring”

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Louis Van Gaal has picked just the right time to pipe up.

The former Manchester United manager, who took flak while in charge for his side being hideous to watch, has now taken shots of his own at his successor Jose Mourinho, kicking Manchester United while they’re down after a 2-1 derby defeat at home.

The Dutchman told Fox Sports Netherlands, “If you ask me how did I do at United, I will say it was my best year ever, given the circumstances I was working under. We played football that was quite alright. But it’s not football that is appreciated in England. And yet, right now, looking at United, I have to conclude Mourinho is not being criticized while it’s far more boring football.”

[ PREVIEW: Premier League Tuesday matches, including Chelsea vs. Huddersfield ]

Van Gaal was blasted consistently for playing a boring style, especially in front of the home crowd, and now Mourinho is being criticized for the same concept. Mourinho was denounced for similar reasons while in charge of Chelsea, but with the club winning multiple titles under his leadership, the noise was always less while the team was winning. With Manchester United still unable to crack the top 4, Mourinho is feeling the heat.

“What United produce now is defensive football,” van Gaal said. “I always played attacking football. The proof is that the opposition were always parking the bus. They don’t do that now because Jose Mourinho plays so defensive.”

To van Gaal’s point, Manchester United is seventh in the Premier League in possession, holding 51% possession this season. They were out-possessed by Manchester City 65-35 at Old Trafford over the weekend. Meanwhile, van Gaal’s last full season with Manchester United, the 2015/16 season, saw the Red Devils hold 54%, which ranked third in the Premier League, just a percentage point behind leaders Arsenal. However, van Gaal’s United ranked 15th in the Premier League in total shots, while Mourinho’s United this season ranks sixth at this point.

Van Gaal made sure to point out he prefers their cross-town rivals.

“I would rather watch City play than United. You need quality in a squad and it’s clear City have a better squad.”

Conte blames fatigue for dip in Chelsea form

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Antonio Conte has figured out what is plaguing his Chelsea side as they sit 14 points back of Premier League leaders Manchester City.

“I think when you play every three days, it is impossible to have a training session and to work on the physical aspects,” Conte said in his pre-match press conference as the Blues get set to play Huddersfield Town on Tuesday. “It’s impossible. It’s impossible because you have to prepare with the players for a game every three days.”

Chelsea has yet to find itself eliminated from a single competition, drawn against Barcelona in the Champions League while navigating fixtures across all four competitions.

And yet, this is nothing new for Conte. The Blues boss is more than familiar with fixture congestion, having taken charge of Juventus and regularly competing at a high level on multiple fronts. In 2012/13, he won the Serie A title, won the Supercoppa Italia, and reached the quarterfinals of the Champions League.

However, this is new for Conte at Chelsea. Last season, the Blues did not take part in a European competition thanks to their disastrous season the previous year. While they reached the FA Cup final, they were knocked out of the EFL Cup in the 4th round.

“We have to try to do our best,” Conte said. “For sure, some players can be tired, that’s normal because some players are playing from this summer and our tours in China and Singapore. It’s normal. But I repeat we have to find the best solution. We have to find more rotations. I’m doing this, we will try and do our best with hunger and desire. We will fight.”

As an example, Conte said Alvaro Morata will miss the match on Tuesday against Huddersfield Town due to fatigue, with the Spaniard battling a slight back injury. “Morata is out. He is a bit tired and he has a problem in his back.