Spanish newspapers hail ‘historic’ El Clásico

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Some fantastic newspaper headlines and accounts coming out of Spain following Barcelona’s 4-3 away victory over Real Madrid yesterday.

Whether Madrid based El Pais, AS and Marca or Catalonia’s Mundo Deportivo, all outlets were united in noting that last night’s El Clásico has left the race in La Liga wide open.

A match report from El Pais noted that despite pre-match claims of a changing of the guard in Madrid’s favor, no such story played out.

Instead it was Ronaldo missing while Messi and Iniesta once again found glory:

“This Barca, still an epic team, said no to the changing of the order which had been foretold for this clasico. In Chamartin, with Messi inspired, the Azulgrana did not give in during an enormous game, an encounter for the museum, one of those which with time you will not mind putting on again and again. The best CR7 [Ronaldo] was missing, but it was a duel at the level of Messi majestic and Iniesta sublime.”

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AS‘ front page described the match as a “Storm of football: three penalties, seven goals, a sending off and lots of emotion.” The paper went on to discuss Cristiano Ronaldo’s post-match rant on referee Undiano Mallenco while lead editor Alfredo Relano claiming:

“What a clasico! I cannot remember any better, more emotional, more intense than this one, with so much football inside…. Barca won with tremendous merit, thanks to Messi and Iniesta above all.”

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Marca‘s front page claimed: “La Liga begins” noting the current La Liga table and describing the game as having “overflowed with emotion and possibilities.”

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Over in Barcelona, Mundo Deportivo‘s cover blared: “Delirio!” with a photo of Messi kissing the badge on his shirt after scoring. From editor, Santi Nolla:

“They wanted to put on an ‘end of an era’ show in Madrid. It was all ready to proclaim, finally, after many years of swallowing it, that the replacement had arrived. But they did not count on the pride of Barca’s players, and Messi, the best player in the world, left it clear again at the Bernabeu yesterday what is the true dimension of his duel with Cristiano. There is no doubt who is number one. Games like yesterday’s confirm that.”

Sanchez, Mkhitaryan transfer still up in the air

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The player-swap/trade/transfer between Arsenal and Manchester United still appears to be heading towards completion, but it was further delayed Friday.

Multiple reports in England state that while Alexis Sanchez seems set to move to Manchester United, Henrik Mkhitaryan has yet to agree to move the other way, as talks between the player’s agent and Arsenal continue. Mkhitaryan was seen training at Manchester United’s practice facility on Friday, and because the latest delay, both players would be unable to debut for their new teams this weekend after missing the Premier League registration deadline.

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Arsenal hosts Crystal Palace Manchester United travels to Burnley, both on Saturday at 10 a.m. (Watch Arsenal live on CNBC, Manchester United live on NBCSN, and both live on NBCSports.com)

The London Evening Standard reports that Mkhitaryan would command a $242,000-per-week salary but that as of Friday morning he had yet to undergo a medical for the transfer. Arsenal reportedly still wants a transfer fee included for Sanchez, while Manchester United would prefer to just swap the two players.

It’s also looking as if that won’t be Arsenal’s only business in the transfer market. While it seemed like a far-fetched rumor at first, the links between Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Arsenal have only grown stronger in the past few days, and the Gabon international appears to be in the Gunners sights. It appears that Bordeaux’s young striker Malcolm is now off the table.

Vancouver adds versatile Juarez, formerly of Monterrey, Celtic

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Efrain Juarez is bringing his game to Major League Soccer.

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The 39-times capped Mexico veteran has inked a deal with the Vancouver Whitecaps, joining a strengthened unit which came within a point of winning the West last season.

Juarez, 29, was unveiled as a midfielder by the ‘Caps, though he’s primarily played right back in his club career. He’s played at Celtic, Real Zaragoza, Club America, Monterrey, and Pumas.

Last capped by El Tri in 2012, Juarez has played every position except goal, center attacking mid, and center forward in his career (picture a ‘U’ on the pitch).

“I’m so happy and excited for this new stage in my career,” Juarez said. “It’s an opportunity for me to keep growing in a new league and to be a part of an amazing club in Vancouver. From the moment they showed interest me, Carl Robinson and the Whitecaps staff have made me feel very important. I promise to put all my effort into this club and do my best to help us achieve our goals.”

VIDEO: Asensio goal ends Real Madrid’s winless run

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Marco Asensio’s eighth goal of the season and second of this Copa del Rey put an end to an unlikely Real Madrid winless run in a 1-0 victory at Leganes.

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The 21-year-old darted in front of a defender to volley home from in-tight, giving Real Madrid a first leg lead in the tournament quarterfinals.

More importantly, perhaps, it gives struggling Real a boost in morale after draws with Celta Vigo and Numancia, and a loss to Villarreal.

Real is home to Deportivo de la Coruna in La Liga before hosting Leganes in the second leg.

Hopeful Newcastle buyer Staveley: Offer still on the table

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Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is probably happy that his for-sale club is away this weekend, even though his side’s up against Manchester City.

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That’s because hopeful buyer Amanda Staveley has responded to claims that her hopeful takeover of the team won’t be happening any time soon.

Talks had stalled, said Tuesday reports, much to the chagrin of an #AshleyOut brigade that at times can make Arsenal’s #WengerOut brigade look like a yard full of happy puppies.

A “source” had said, “Attempts to reach a deal have proved to be exhaustive, frustrating and a complete waste of time,” but Staveley shot back on Thursday to reignite the fire. From the BBC, taken from The Times:

“Our bid remains on the table. This is an investment, but it has to be a long-term investment. Newcastle would be run as a business, but we want it to be a successful, thriving business that is an absolutely integral part of the city.”

She also said that popular manager Rafa Benitez is integral to her interest in the team, and that fact combined with her insistence that an offer remains on the table will have many Newcastle fans seething with current ownership (and there have been protests for years). It’s Ashley’s move now.