La Liga

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La Liga: Barcelona hit Atleti late, but lose perfect record

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MADRID (AP) Barcelona lost its perfect Spanish league record and salvaged a 1-1 draw at Atletico Madrid with a late equalizer by Luis Suarez on Saturday.

Suarez scored with a header from close range in the 82nd minute to leave Barcelona five points ahead of Real Madrid, which defeated Getafe 2-1 with a late winner by Cristiano Ronaldo.

Atletico contained Lionel Messi and was in control of the game until Suarez found the net after being ineffective for most of the match.

Saul Niguez gave the hosts the lead at their Wanda Metropolitano Stadium with a well-placed shot from outside the area in the first half.

The draw left Atletico in third place, six points behind Barcelona, which won its first seven league matches.

Sevilla dropped to fourth place, also six points off the lead, after losing at Athletic Bilbao 1-0.

Atletico was looking to win the first high-profile game of the league and establish itself as a contender beside Barcelona and Madrid.

Barcelona, which had outscored opponents 23-2, controlled possession but it was Atletico which was able to create the most significant opportunities. Antoine Griezmann had two clear chances denied by Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen early.

Atletico did a good job stopping Messi, after his starring role to put Argentina in the World Cup. He has 14 goals in 11 matches with Barcelona but was shut out at the Metropolitano. A second-half free kick hit the post.

Suarez, who was also coming off a long trip with Uruguay, struggled until jumping between Atletico defenders to head in a cross by substitute Sergi Roberto.

Two weeks after playing behind closed doors to protest the Spanish government’s moves to halt Catalonia’s independence referendum, Barcelona was met with Spanish flags, and outspoken defender Gerard Pique was loudly jeered by the local fans.

Ronaldo had been mostly subdued for Madrid until scoring the 85th-minute winner at Alfonso Perez Coliseum in southern Madrid.

After a perfect long pass by Isco, Ronaldo let the ball bounce and fired in for his first league goal of the season.

“We know that when we need Cristiano, he is always there for us,” Madrid left back Marcelo said.

Karim Benzema opened the scoring for Madrid with a great run into the area, getting past a defender with a quick touch before sending a low shot into the far corner. It was also his first league goal. The French striker was returning from injury.

Striker Jorge Molina equalized for the hosts early in the second half. Replays showed Molina was offside.

Getafe, which had a few chances to equalize in the final minutes, also conceded late goals in home losses to Sevilla and Barcelona. It dropped to 14th in the 20-team standings.

“We can’t allow this to keep happening,” Molina said of the late goals. “Maybe we shouldn’t have stayed only on defense, maybe we could have pressed a little bit more.”

Madrid got the win even though coach Zinedine Zidane couldn’t count on several regulars following the international break.

Barcelona forecasting revenue over $1 billion this year

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says it expects to generate more than $1 billion for the first time this season and become club soccer’s biggest moneymaker.

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The Catalan club released the forecast on Wednesday as part of the financial results for the 2016-17 financial year.

Revenue rose 4 percent to a record $839 million last year, while making a pre-tax profit of $36.7 million. The club’s debt fell by $29 million to $292.6 million.

Rose, Gacinovic to Man United; Alli, Griezmann to Barca?

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It’s nowhere near January 1, but Manchester United (of course) have been linked with moves for two wide players.

Danny Rose continues to be linked with a move away from Tottenham Hotspur with the England international left back still out injured and his comments at the start of the season about wanting to be “paid what he deserves” still rings true.

With Ben Davies filing in ably for Rose over the past six months, that could persuade Daniel Levy to cash in on another full back if United offer over $60 million for the 27-year-old. Italian outlet Tuttomercatoweb say Jose Mourinho will come in with a fresh bid for Rose in January after missing out on him in the summer.

Another wide man United are keeping on eye, according to the Daily Mirror, is Eintracht Frankfurt winger Mijat Gacinovic.

The 22-year-old is regarded as one of the top attacking talents in the Bundesliga and it would explain why Mourinho was spotted in Austria last week wearing a baseball cap as he looked on sheepishly from the stands. Serbia (who have since qualified for the World Cup) lost 3-2 to Austria in a 2018 World Cup qualifier and Mourinho was said to be watching Gacinovic closely.

Gacinovic scored two goals in his first three games for Serbia and comes from the same youth team as Dusan Tadic at Vojvodina. With a deal for Ivan Perisic not coming to fruition following a summer-long chase, Mourinho could well swoop for the promising winger.

Quite why he needs another wide man with Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Juan Mata all capable of playing those positions is beyond me. But Jose usually gets what he wants.


Tottenham’s Dele Alli has been linked with a move to Barcelona and Real Madrid as Barca turn their attentions away from Philippe Coutinho.

According to Sport, Alli, 21, is a key target for both Barca and Real and Real are also eyeing up a move for Harry Kane. Of course, we would be taking about monstrous transfer fees for both of these Tottenham and England stars but given Alli’s recent dip in form, perhaps Spurs would be more wiling to cash in on him compared to Kane.

Barcelona are said to believe that Spurs cannot keep hold of both of their star attackers and that enticing Alli away from north London, just a few weeks after he changed his agent, could be a lot easier to do.

Another star attacker said to be interesting Barca, according to Mundo Deportivo, is Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann.

The Frenchman decided to stay at Atleti last summer once their transfer ban was confirmed but now that Diego Costa is back at Atleti from January onwards, it is believed Barca will try and swoop in to meet Griezmann’s release clause of $117 million before July 1 when it doubles for the remaining five years of his contract at Atletico.

Griezmann, 26, looked set to move to Manchester United in the summer but Barca will be keen to make him their main man and his record of 86 goals in 167 games for Atleti has seen his star rise over the past three season.

Barca are keen to exploit this loophole in Griezmann’s contract and after all, they now better than most about the risks and rewards of release clauses.

Barcelona says Iniesta’s contract extended ‘for life’

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says it has extended Andres Iniesta’s contract “for life.”

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The club did not immediately give any details about the midfielder’s new contract.

The 33-year Iniesta has played 639 matches for the club since making his debut with the first team in October 2002.

Iniesta joined the club’s youth squad when he was 12 in 1996, and along with Lionel Messi is the player with most titles won with the senior squad, with 30.

Closed-door match cost Barcelona nearly $4 million

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The state of Catalonia’s immediate future in Spain is still uncertain, but the ramifications of Barcelona’s match last weekend also had a negative effect.

The Spanish giants opted to play its match last Sunday against Las Palmas without any fans in attendance as Catalonia continues its push towards independence from its native Spain.

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Barcelona has openly supported the decision by citizens of the area to vote in favor of secession, but the club did lose a bit of money by playing its match behind closed doors.

The Blaugrana reportedly lost around $4 million from a combined absence in ticket sales and other game-day revenue figures.

Hundreds of civilians were injured during protests on Sunday prior to the match and throughout the day as the country’s uncertain political climate carries on.

“We tried to suspend the game all day long but it wasn’t possible,” Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu said. ‘We could lose points if we didn’t play, so we decided to play behind closed doors as a way to show the entire world that we were not pleased with what happened (in Catalonia).’