Hard to tell just who Cesc Fabregas had most in his crosshairs – fans, media, future opposition? All of the above? – as he more or less told the world that suggestions of Barcelona demise were certainly premature.
It has been an odd turn, hasn’t it, this flawed bit of chattering class echo that has spun through the media cycle, one suggesting that the current Barcelona bunch had seen its better days?
Tuesday’s 2-0 win at the Etihad will go a long way to chopping that weed at the root. Well, maybe near the bottom of the stem, at least.
City could still rally in this one; Manuel Pellegrini’s men had the tactics right for 50 minutes Tuesday, and remain blessed with a fabulous array of talent. But it’s a long shot – and that’s what Fabregas (pictured, on the left) was reminding everyone as he took a verbal sledgehammer to smash up the burgeoning notion of Barcelona as a mighty club on the wobble:
We are top of the league, we had a great result tonight, we are in the final of the (domestic Kings) cup. There’s nothing else you can ask for. The fans in Spain put so much pressure on you and the team, and that’s what makes everyone feel so special to be playing for this team. Maybe we had to prove a point in a way, and we did it and did it well. People have been talking too much, saying that Barcelona are not the same Barcelona. Now people will have to shut up for a couple of days.”
(MORE: Barca seizes control with 2-0 win at the Etihad)
(MORE: What we learned in Barca’s win Tuesday at Manchester City)
LIMA, Peru (AP) Peru has extradited the country’s former soccer boss to the United States for his alleged involvement in a multibillion-dollar FIFA bribery scandal involving marketing and broadcasting rights.
Manuel Burga was sent to New York on a commercial flight before dawn on Friday.
He has been in jail since December 2015 as part of the investigation. Peru’s Supreme Court in June cleared the way for his extradition and President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski signed a decree authorizing the move a week ago.
Burga oversaw Peru’s football federation for more than a decade until 2014. He has denied any wrongdoing.
While the battle for MLS Cup 2016 has been dwindled down to two sides, the rest of the league continues to make roster transactions in preparation for next season.
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The San Jose Earthquakes announced on Friday that the club has exercised options on six players, including goalkeeper David Bingham, Fatai Alashe, Kip Colvey and Victor Bernardez.
Additionally, the Earthquakes have released nine players, including U.S. Men’s National Team defender Clarence Goodson, Marc Pelosi and Tommy Thompson, however, the latter two are reportedly in talks to return to the club in 2017.
NAPLES, Italy (AP) Napoli eased to a 3-0 win over Inter Milan in Serie A on Friday, with two goals in the opening five minutes.
[ MORE: Top 5 PL storylines heading into weekend ]
The home side got off to a lightning start as, following a wonderful team move, Jose Callejon headed back Marek Hamsik’s chipped pass for Piotr Zielinski to volley into the bottom left corner.
[ MORE: Ronaldo, Mourinho involved in massive tax evasion system ]
Zielinski turned provider moments later as Hamsik beat the offside trap to run onto his pass and fire into the bottom right corner.
It was Hamsik’s 104th goal for Napoli, moving him level with Edinson Cavani in third in the clubs’ goalscoring charts. The Slovakia forward needs 11 more to equal Diego Maradona’s record.
Inter started the second half aggressively but hopes of getting back into the match were scuppered six minutes after the restart when Lorenzo Insigne netted his fourth goal in three league matches after visiting goalkeeper Samir Handanovic only flapped at a corner.
Napoli moved level on points with Atalanta, which visits league leader Juventus on Saturday, and fourth-placed Lazio, which hosts Roma in the capital derby on Sunday.
Inter, which beat Fiorentina 4-2 on Monday for its first win under coach Stefano Pioli, remained eighth ahead of the rest of the weekend’s fixtures.
On a day where Atlanta United added another young talent, the 2017 MLS expansion side could be preparing to make a major splash for a South American playmaker.
According to numerous Argentine media outlets, Atlanta is closing in on signing Paraguay international Miguel Almiron for an MLS-record fee of $13 million from Lanus at the end of 2016.
Almiron, 22, has scored three goals in 34 appearances for Lanus since joining the Argentine club in 2015. The young winger began his professional career back in 2013 with Cerro Porteno, where Almiron also played for the club’s youth academy.
On the international stage, Almiron has already earned seven caps for Paraguay after previously representing the nation’s Under-17 and U-20 national teams.