Spain Soccer Champions League

Lionel Messi double leads Barcelona past Milan in UEFA Champions League

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Four games scoreless led to jokes that Lionel Messi had forgotten how to score, and while those observations were tongue-in-cheek, Messi still quieted on Wednesday. A first half score from the spot and an insurance tally late gave the Argentine star his first two goals of the competition, helping Barcelona to a 3-1 win over Milan at the Nou Camp.

Sergio Busquets doubled Barcelona’s lead in the 39th minute before a Gerard Piqué own goal pulled Milan within one at halftime. The home side’s stifling possession game, however, limited the Rossoneri to one shot on goal, with a 92 percent pass completion rate ensuring Milan would rarely see the ball.

The victory moves Barcelona to 10 points in Group H, five ahead of second place Milan. They can clinch first place with a win next match day at Ajax (Nov. 26). That result combined with a Milan win at Celtic would also put the Italians into the knockout round.

As characteristic of the teams’ three other meetings this year, Barcelona dictated the game, but whereas Milan often starts applying pressure at the edge of their defensive third, today they quickly regressed much deeper. With a defense setting up just inside the penalty box behind midfielders holding their ground at the arc, the visitors were providing little resistance for Barcelona’s midfield.

When they did create turnovers, Milan would quickly move down their left, through the place vacated by Dani Alves. The tactic would come good near halftime, but over the first 45 minutes, its main virtues were wasting time, giving their defense some rest, and allowing their lines to reset.

In the 30th minute, though, that deep block cost them, if controversially so. Barcelona’s midfield saw no pressure before lofting a ball behind the defense for Neymar. Cutting in from the left, the Brazilian attacker tried to get inside right back Ignazio Abate for his chance but was eventually ridden to ground. The 50-50 call went against Milan when referee Milorad Mazic pointed to the spot, setting up Messi to end his scoreless run.

Six minutes later, Barcelona fans were treated to a rare set piece goal, with a Xavi Hernandez inswinger from the right finding an unmarked Sergio Busquets eight yards out. The midfielder’s glancing header beat Christian Abbiati for what would become the game-winning goal.

Milan pulled one back before half time, again attacking down the left flank. Just before the byline, Kaká tried to send a ball into the six-yard box, but an attempted block from Gerard Piqué deflected the pass into his own net, Victór Valdés jumping away from goal trying to play the cross that never came. Milan went into halftime down one.

In an often dull second half, Barcelona chose patience over pursuit, keeping the ball high while daring Milan to chose their one-goal deficit.

Eventually, Milan’s defense broke down. In the 83rd minute, Messi was allowed to play a one-two with Cesc Fábregas at the edge of the Milan area. Chipping over Abbiati as the Milan keeper came to challenge, Messi converted for his day’s second goal, giving Barcelona a 3-1 win.

It was a typical Barcelona performance, one that ended in a predictable win, but the news was not all bad for Milan. Thanks to Ajax’s win in Amsterdam over Celtic, the Rossoneri maintained second place in Group H, staying one-point clear of the Dutch champions. Win their next two, and Milan’s still going into the knockout round.

Scoring

Barcelona: 30′ (p.k.), 83′, Lionel Messi, 36′ Sergio Busquets

Milan: 45′ Piqué (o.g.)

Lineups

Barcelona: Victor Valdes; Dani Alves, Gerard Piqué, Javier Mascherano, Adriano; Sergio Buquest, Xavi Hernández (88′ Alex Song), Andrés Iniesta (78′ Cesc Fábregas); Alexei Sánchez, Lionel Messi, Neymar (85′ Pedro)

Unused subs: Marc Martra, Pinto, Cristian Tello, Martín Montoya

Milan: Christian Abbiati; Ignzaio Abte, Cristian Zapata, Philippe Mexes, Urby Emanuelson; Andrea Poli (74′ Valter Birsa), Nigel de Jong, Ricardo Montovilo, Sulley Muntari; Kaká (84′ Alessandro Matri); Robinho (45′ Mario Balotelli)

Unused subs: 

International roundup: Schweinsteiger, Keane say goodbye; Denmark bags five

Germany's national team throws their captain Bastian Schweinsteiger into the air after he played his last match for the national team in Moenchengladbach, Germany, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016. Germany won the friendly soccer match against Finland with 2-0. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
AP Photo/Martin Meissner
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Two mainstays of the international game are done with that part of their career following shutout wins on Wednesday, just two of several friendlies early in this international break.

[ MORE: Five big Deadline Day signings ]

Germany 2-0 Finland

Max Meyer picked up from his remarkable Olympics by firing home, and Mesut Ozil also scored for the Germans in a match that was not about the winner. Bastian Schweinsteiger called it a day on his international career in the win, his 121st cap. The Manchester United man finishes his career with 24 goals, a World Cup title and a EURO runner-up finish. Not too shabby.

Ireland 4-0 Oman

ROI all-time leading scorer Robbie Keane fittingly ended his tenure as an international player with yet another goal, bringing his career tally to 68 goals in 146 caps. Stoke City’s Jon Walters scored twice for the Boys in Green, and Robbie Brady (Norwich) also netted in the win.

Denmark 5-0 Liechtenstein

It took the hosts a half-hour to break down the visitors, but a pair from Feyenoord striker Nicolai Jorgensen opened the floodgates and Andreas Cornelius, Viktor Fischer and Jens Stryger Larsen finished the scoring in a blowout at the CASA Arena in Horsens. It was Larsen’s first cap.

Elsewhere
Turkey 0-0 Russia
Albania 0-0 Morocco
Estonia 1-1 Malta
Norway 0-1 Belarus
Lebanon 1-1 Jordan

Men In Blazers Podcast: Rashford at the death, Spurs draw Reds, Conte-Pep perfect

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Rog and Davo relive Manchester United’s last gasp win at Hull, break down the 1-1 draw between Spurs and Liverpool, and recap perfect starts for Pep and Antonio Conte at their new clubs.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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Five most impactful signings of Premier League Transfer Deadline Day

CURITIBA, BRAZIL - JUNE 26:  Islam Slimani of Algeria (L) celebrates scoring his team's first goal with Essaid Belkalem during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group H match between Algeria and Russia at Arena da Baixada on June 26, 2014 in Curitiba, Brazil.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
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From panic buys to the resolution of long sagas, Wednesday’s Transfer Deadline Day was eventful and actually exciting.

Some deadline days see a flurry of loan deals and little else, but we had a bit of everything on Wednesday.

Moussa Sissoko finally found a home away from Newcastle, Mario Balotelli is off to France, and David Luiz (!!!) returned to Chelsea.

[ MORE: Every PL move from Deadline Day ]

But, in all honesty, the big names aren’t the Wednesday deals we think will really cut the muster. For those, read on.

5. Enner Valencia, loan with option to buy from West Ham to Everton — Watch out for this one, as the Hammers’ man could pair with Romelu Lukaku to be a potentially devastating problem for opposing Premier League defenses. With Ross Barkley and Idrissa Gueye in the midfield, Everton has done a ton to strengthen its run toward European qualification.

4. Marcos Alonso, permanent from Fiorentina to Chelsea — He’s solid, but more importantly represents an upgrade in depth and experience for the Blues’ back line. Alonso is the sort of back who fits Antonio Conte‘s desires, and will work well behind N'Golo Kante.

3. Dieumerci Mbokani, loan from Dynamo Kyiv to Hull — While Robbie Brady, Timm Klose, and Nathan Redmond got a lot of the headlines, Mbokani was a powerful part of the Canaries’ attack in an ill-fated campaign. At 30 he’s far from a long-term fix, but Mbokani should provide strength and skill to a Hull City side facing a very challenging campaign. Per 90 minutes, no one on Norwich touched him last year (courtesy advanced stats site Squawka):

http://www.squawka.com/football-player-rankings#performance-score#player-stats#english-premier-league|season-2015/2016#norwich#all-player-positions#16#37#10#0#90#08/08/2015#17/05/2016#season#1#all-matches#total#desc#90
Squawka.com

2. Jack Wilshere, loan from Arsenal to Bournemouth We want so badly to make this our No. 1 for many reasons, but can’t take that risk thanks to the risk presented by Wilshere’s injury history. For Jeff Mostyn, Eddie Howe, and the Cherries to win the rights to bring Wilshere to town is big for a lot of reasons. That Arsene Wenger allowed him to go is another. Frankly, this could be a game changer for two clubs’ PL fortunes.

— Honorable mention — Wilfried Bony is a nice pick-up for Stoke, but Bruno Martins Indi gives the club freedom to use Geoff Cameron in other ways. … Georges-Kevin Nkoudou is another good piece for Spurs’ attacking depth ahead of the UEFA Champions League.

  1. Islam Slimani, permanent from Lisbon to Leicester — The Algerian striker was sold on King Power Stadium by fellow Desert Warriors attacker Riyad Mahrez, and now gives the Foxes even more danger whether counterattacking or taking their talents to the opposition. With Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez, and Ahmed Musa joining Slimani, Leicester has the depth to dance in Europe.

Who spent most, made profits on transfers in Premier League this summer?

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 13:  John Stones of Manchester City in action  during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Sunderland at Etihad Stadium on August 13, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
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After a record $1.4 billion was spent in the Premier League this summer, most of the PL’s 20 clubs were throwing around money like it was going out of fashion.

[ MORE: Summer transfer grades ]

There were some huge fees dished out with the two Manchester teams spending almost half a billion dollars between them on transfer fees alone. Let that sink in.

So, that being said, with the summer transfer window slammed shut it is time to crunch the numbers and see who spent the most, who sold well and take a look at the net spend for each team.

[ MORE: Every Deadline Day deal ]  

Below is the summer transfer business from all 20 teams with their total money spent on transfers, incoming transfer fees and net profit/loss listed via information from Transfermarkt.


  1. Man City – Spent: $237.6 million (incoming: $24.3 million) – Net = -$213.3 million
  2. Man United – Spent: $185 million; (incoming: $7.1 million) – Net = -$177.9 million
  3. Chelsea – Spent: $157.6 million (incoming: $45.7 million) – Net = -$111.9 million
  4. Arsenal – Spent: $126 million (incoming: $9.2 million) – Net = -$116.8 million
  5. Tottenham – Spent: $92 million (incoming: $46.9 million) – Net = -$45.1 million
  6. Liverpool – Spent: $89.1 million (incoming: $88.4 million) – Net = -$0.7 million
  7. Leicester City – Spent: $83.1 million (incoming: $59.4 million) – Net = -$23.7 million
  8. Watford – Spent: $75.2 million (incoming: $33 million) – Net = -$42.2 million
  9. West Ham – Spent: $69.5 million (incoming: $13 million) – Net = -$56.5 million
  10. Crystal Palace – Spent: $66.4 million (incoming: $56 million) – Net = -$10.4 million
  11. Everton  – Spent: $60.4 million (incoming: $62 million) – Net = +$1.6 million
  12. Southampton – Spent: $57.9 million (incoming: $84.6 million) – Net = +$26.7 million
  13. Bournemouth – Spent: $44.3 million (incoming: $23.6 million) – Net = -$20.7 million
  14. Swansea City – Spent: $42.2 million (incoming: $54.2 million) – Net = -$12 million
  15. Sunderland – Spent: $35.5 million (incoming: $8.3 million) – Net = -$27.2 million
  16. West Brom – Spent: $29.6 million (incoming: $11.7 million) – Net = -$17.9 million
  17. Middlesbrough – Spent: $27.9 million (incoming: $6.5 million) – Net = -$21.4 million
  18. Burnley  Spent: $27.5 million (incoming: $27.5 million) – Net = -$0 million
  19. Stoke City – Spent: $25.7 million (incoming: $2.5 million) – Net = -$23.2 million
  20. Hull City – Spent: $16.4 million (incoming: $6 million) – Net = -$10.4 million