A team constantly in flux now has one bit of consistency outside Cristiano Ronaldo.
With parts coming in and going out around him, Karim Benzema has signed a new 5-year contract extension with Real Madrid, signalling his intent to stay with the reigning Champions League winners.
Part of the job description of playing at a high level at the Bernabeu includes dealing with constant transfer rumors, which Benzema has done throughout his five-year stay at Real Madrid.
Now, he can potentially add five more years to that total, with 111 goals and 233 appearances to his name and looking for more.
With so many attacking players at Real Madrid, there has been plenty of speculation that Benzema was on his way out – most recently to Liverpool, where his reported rejection caused a hilarious reaction by a former player. With the added distraction of Madrid’s interest in Colombian striker Radamel Falcao adding to the swirling rumors, life is never standing still for Benzema.
But despite the presence of Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, and Angel di Maria plus additions James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos, Benzema has continued to play his role.
It takes a special kind of player to allow such a conglomeration of star wingers to maintain the spotlight while still producing enough yourself, but Benzema flowed brilliantly in Carlo Ancelotti’s system and he was justly rewarded. Those who categorize Benzema as a poacher would be incomplete in their description, having created a whopping 63 chances in La Liga play last year.
At just 26 years old, Benzema’s new five-year deal is the perfect length for both club and player, allowing the club a way out if he ages by 31 and giving the player the ability to earn another payday if he’s able to produce that long.
Sixteen teams remain in the battle to clinch the Premier League’s first European place of next season’s tournament, and we have some tremendous battles on tap for Tuesday and Wednesday in the EFL Cup (formerly the League Cup).
Today we focus on the 24 hours ahead of us, focusing on Tuesday’s five matches and allowing the Manchester Derby, West Ham-Chelsea, and Southampton-Sunderland to percolate a bit.
[ MORE: Finland’s “Leicester” gets it done ]
That’s not to say we don’t have a pair of giants dueling on Tuesday. Liverpool is three wins away from a return to the final, where the Reds fell in penalties last season. Standing in their way is Tottenham Hotspur, a deep squad which won’t have to worry much about a quick turnaround from Saturday.
That said, the Reds didn’t have to play at all last week, while this will be Spurs third match in a week. Spurs have been to the EFL Cup final thrice since 2008, and one of two teams (Chelsea) to make three finals this decade. Liverpool will start Simon Mignolet between the sticks.
The remaining four EFL Cup matches include at least one team outside the Premier League.
— Arsenal will host USMNT midfielder Danny Williams and Reading.
— Hull City is off to Ashton Gate to face Bristol City.
— Newcastle United is leading the Championship, and will get a visit from Preston North End in the first of two matches between the two sides this week.
— Norwich City will pay a visit to Elland Road and Garry Monk‘s Leeds United.
FC Dallas has two jewels of its triple crown all set, having claimed the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and the Supporters’ Shield.
One of the key reasons the club was able to sustain its pace this season was Mauro Diaz, 25, who shone even as Fabian Castillo shockingly left the club before the stretch run.
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A River Plate product, Diaz gave FCD seven goals and 15 assists over 32 appearances before tearing an achilles tendon last week.
Diaz underwent season-ending surgery, but his teammates made sure he was a part of the champagne celebration by heading to his very nice-looking house for an early morning visit.
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There was some eye-popping moments in the Premier League this weekend, yet still very little debate who shone brightest.
Stoke City’s Xherdan Shaqiri scored a pair of Goal of the Month competitors in the same day in the Potters’ 2-0 win at Hull City on Monday.
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The first was a curling wonder from distance, while the second came from a bit closer as the big-calfed Swiss attacker bamboozled the Hull wall and goalkeeper.
The Potters are up to 16th in the Premier League table with nine points.
HELSINKI (AP) Fans of IFK Mariehamn have gathered in the main square of the remote Finnish town to celebrate their team’s surprise league title.
“I feel very proud,” the club’s managing director, Peter Mattsson, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview on Monday, adding that “thousands” were expected to turn up for the party.
Watched by more than 4,000, Mariehamn clinched the Finnish title on Sunday with a 2-1 home victory over Ilves, from the industrial city of Tampere.
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Mariehamn held off 11 other teams, including the traditionally strong Helsinki club, HJK, and defending champion SJK from western Finland. It ended three points clear of second-placed HJK for its first league title.
Local media dubbed the team “Leicester” after the surprise English Premier League champions last season.
Mariehamn, which has a population of 11,500, is the capital of the Aland islands off the southwestern Finnish coast