While Atletico Madrid was on their way to claiming the Copa del Rey last week, José Mourinho was being sent off during his last major match at Real Madrid’s helm. When Cristiano Ronaldo saw red in extra time, the Merengues couldn’t have had a more fitting end to a bitterly disappointing season.
With their 2-1 win, the Atleti snapped a 14-year unbeaten run against their capital tormentors, depriving El Real of the thin silver lining they’d hoped to take into the summer. How else do you end a season that started with promise, ended in turmoil, and became microcosm of Mourinho’s time in Madrid?
Now comes the check. Both Mourinho and Ronaldo have been handed two-match bans, suspensions that only apply to cup play. Mourinho’s ban was given for the protestations that saw him dismissed. Ronaldo gets a one-match ban for the red card and a second one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation, having been cautioned earlier in the match.
Neither punishment’s likely to mean anything. When this news was handed down, José Mourinho was probably walking movers through his house in Madrid, pointing at baroque designs and classical prints – the curt instructions like a puppet José: “Take it. Leave it. Take it. Forget it.” Unless he coaches in Spain again, this suspension’s never getting served, and unless Barcelona has a change of heart in the future, Mourinho’s days in La Liga are probably done.
Ronaldo, for all the rumors surrounding him, is likely to stay in Madrid, which means he’ll probably serve his suspension. Yet given the nature of the Copa del Rey it’s unlikely to matter. Real Madrid’s latest opponents in their opening Copa rounds have been Sporting Gijon, Ponferradina, Murcia, and Alcorcon (to whom they lost in 2009). If they can’t beat those teams without Ronaldo, a Copa exist won’t be the team’s biggest problem.
Super agent Mino Raiola has injected a ray of light into the hopes of both Juventus and Real Madrid fans when it comes to Paul Pogba.
The terrific midfielder has been widely reported as an imminent arrival at Manchester United, but Raiola has taken to Twitter to blast journalists who’ve reported the move and medical as done.
[ RANIERI: Mahrez will stay at LCFC ]
Pogba was photographed in Los Angeles amid claims he was undergoing a physical at United. Multiple reports have said he passed the medical and that Juventus has agreed to sell Pogba to United for a world record fee.
Raiola says different, though taken with the grain of salt that he’s set to make as much as $30 million on the deal and his job is to squeeze every possibly penny from suitors.
Claudio Ranieri seems to be genuine and honest in his evaluations, as we’ve seen in his dealings with Jamie Vardy and N'Golo Kante amongst others.
And the manager is making no bones about what he thinks is best for another Leicester City star in Riyad Mahrez.
[ MORE: Gameiro joins new club ]
Ranieri says the Algerian will face far more pressure at a new club then he will face still competing in the UEFA Champions League with the Foxes.
In other words, the 25-year-old should stick around. From Sky Sports:
“I speak often with him and say stay with us, it’s much better for your future, I think he is an intelligent man and he will stay,” Ranieri told Sky Sports News HQ.
“We support him very well, this is important, when you change teams maybe you don’t find team-mates who help you at the same level.
“He improves more if he stays with us for another year, maybe next year he can think about another solution. If he goes for a lot of money, everybody will be expecting something special. He can do something special, but with us.”
We tend to agree. Whereas N’Golo Kante was prepared to use Leicester as a stepping stone — and it seems Ranieri knew it — Mahrez has been with the Foxes since 2014 and seen his stature skyrocket.
Let’s see what happens, Riyad. Cool?
MADRID (AP) Atletico Madrid says it has acquired French striker Kevin Gameiro from rival Spanish club Sevilla.
In exchange, Atletico has agreed to loan Argentine striker Luciano Vietto to Sevilla for one season.
Atletico says Gameiro will sign a four-year contract after undergoing a standard medical exam.
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The 29-year-old Gameiro scored 67 goals during three seasons with Sevilla, helping it win three Europa League titles.
Gameiro will join countryman Antoine Griezmann and Fernando Torres to form the attack of an Atletico side that reached the final of the Champions League last season.
Atletico did not reveal the financial details of Gameiro’s transfer.
NEW YORK (AP) A former Guatemalan soccer federation president has pleaded guilty in New York to charges related to a sprawling corruption investigation of world soccer.
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Brayan Jimenez pleaded guilty Friday to federal racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy charges, each carrying up to 20 years in prison. It’s unclear when he’ll be sentenced.
The 62-year-old Jimenez is among 40 people from around the world charged in a FIFA bribery scandal over lucrative broadcasting rights.
Prosecutors say Jimenez accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from a Florida-based sports marketing company. They say in exchange for the money Jimenez awarded the company media marketing rights to the Guatemalan soccer team’s World Cup qualifying matches in 2018 and 2022.
Jimenez’s attorneys haven’t returned a message seeking comment on his guilty plea.