La Liga & Serie A roundup: Barcelona drop points, title race tightens up; Juventus lose

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A roundup of Saturday’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights:

Sevilla 2-2 Barcelona

Barcelona jumped out to an early lead on the back of goals scored by Lionel Messi (14th minute) and Neymar (31st), but failed to secure all three points and blew the La Liga title race wide open, as Ever Banega (38th) and Kevin Gameiro (84th) hit the current league leaders back for a 2-2 draw. Messi’s goal was the 399th of his Barcelona career.

With two points dropped in Seville, Barca’s lead was cut in half on Saturday, from four points to two, thanks to results elsewhere in the league.

source:

Real Madrid 3-0 Eibar

Do you remember the scene in The Dark Knight where the Joker says the Batman, “I don’t want to kill you. What would I do without you?” That’s Barca and Madrid. Real’s real struggles left the door wide open for Barca to take total control of the league title with barely two months of the regular season remaining. Barca slip up on Saturday, and Real rediscover their form to make the race close again.

Cristiano Ronaldo (21st minute), Javier Hernandez (31st) and Jese Rodriguez (83rd) were the goalscorers as Los Blancos won their third-straight league game, by a combined score of 14-1, since they tasted El Clasico defeat on March 22.

Malaga 2-2 Atletico Madrid

Antoine Griezmann bagged his 17th and 18th league goals of the season to cancel out goals scored by Fernando Torres (own goal) and Samuel. After rescuing a point, Diego Simeone’s side currently sits in third, four points clear of Valencia and Sevilla, the final automatic UEFA Champions League qualification place in Spain.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Almeria 3-0 Granada
Celta Vigo 6-1 Rayo Vallecano

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Getafe vs. Villarreal (6 am ET)
Espanyol vs. Athletic Bilbao (11 pm ET)
Real Sociedad vs. Deportivo La Coruna (1 pm ET)
Cordoba vs. Elche (3 pm ET)



source: APParma 1-0 Juventus

If the current league leaders lose the very bottom team in the league and there’s no other team within 14 miles (points) to see it, did it really happen? Based on video evidence, it did indeed happen on Saturday, as Serie A champions-to-be Juventus fell to relegation-certain Parma, 1-0.

Massimiliano Allegri elected to rest a number of key starters with his side facing Monaco in the Champions League quarterfinals on Tuesday. 18-year-old Jose Mauri scored the only goal of the game, a placed finish from the top of the penalty area, giving Parma just their 16th point of the season (minus-three points deduction for failing to pay players’ wages). Roma (56 points) and Lazio (55) now hold a game in hand over Juventus (70) in the not-so-hot title race.

Hellas Verona 0-3 Inter Milan

It’s time to break up Inter Milan. Roberto Mancini’s side got their first win in eight tries (all competitions) on Saturday when they beat up on 15th-placed Verona.

Mauro Icardi (11th minute) and Rodrigo Palacio (48th) scored for the visitors before Luca Toni missed a penalty for Verona and defender Vangelis Moras put the ball into his own net (92nd) to complete the humiliation of losing to one of Serie A’s middling Milan sides. Inter move up to 8th with the victory, ahead of AC Milan on goal differential.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Genoa 2-0 Cagliari

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Cesena vs. Lazio (6:30 am ET)
Lazio vs. Empoly (9 am ET)
Napoli vs. Fiorentina (9 am ET)
Udinese vs. Palermo (9 am ET)
Torino vs. Roma (9 am ET)
Atalanta vs. Sassuolo (9 am ET)
AC Milan vs. Sampdoria (2:45 pm ET)

USMNT prospect Ledezma earns praise from van Nistelrooy

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Even for talents of the highest levels with top soccer education, sometimes a kid’s gotta learn how to eat.

Richard “Richie” Ledezma, 18, is in the midst of his first year at Eredivisie side PSV Eindhoven, a spot which beckoned after a five-match, one-goal season in the USL with Real Monarchs of the USL.

[ MORE: Chicago adds USMNT hero ]

Ledezma starred for U.S. U-20 team at the World Cup after his first half-season with PSV, which saw him play with the U-19s while trying to lose some weight.

From Goal.com:

“PSV help me with my nutrition, with my food and how I eat. It’s the quantity of food you eat, I guess,” he added. “Because I came a little chubby, when I got here, I guess. They all called me ‘fatty’ and stuff, so I was like, cool, you know? So no more McDonald’s.”

Goal’s James Westwood had a wide-ranging interview with Ledezma and also spoke with soccer royalty: longtime Real Madrid and Manchester United scorer Ruud van Nistelrooy was Ledezma’s coach with the U-19s.

“He’s making a difference in midfield with very quick-thinking passes, movement, can score a goal, play people in, he’s creating chances for the whole team.”

That’s not just good praise from a legend, but a solid sign for fans of the United States men’s national team. A proper No. 10 or playmaking midfielder could allow Gregg Berhalter or another future USMNT coach to use Christian Pulisic on the wings.

Ledezma has some work to do before he breaks into the first team of the Dutch runners-up, who have signed former Stoke City man Ibrahim Afellay and has Gaston Pereiro in the fold as well.

Newcastle reportedly in for $28M mercurial Nice attacker

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L’Equipe says that Newcastle United have returned to Nice in the hopes of landing Allan Saint-Maximin.

The Ligue 1 outfit wants $28 million for the playmaker, who could team up with Miguel Almiron and (maybe) Joelinton to give the Magpies a much-improved attack.

[ MORE: Chicago adds USMNT hero ]

Saint-Maximin, 22, has 10 goals and 10 assists across his last two seasons with Nice, and played everywhere in attack for Patrick Vieira: both wings, center forward, second striker, attacking mid… even some left and right midfield.

The player, however, has been a headache for Vieira at times, with the manager saying Saint-Maximin believes that he has enough talent to reach the highest level without the required amount of work.

That said, the youngster’s skill set is electric. He’s a March birth date, too, so a relatively young 22. That $28 million would be another transfer record broken for Newcastle, assuming it happens ahead of the Joelinton move.

Or… as Newcastle fan knows, neither could go through.

Clark County “declines to prosecute” Ronaldo for rape

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Cristiano Ronaldo will not face sexual assault charges for a June 2009 incident in the United States, attorneys say.

An American woman filed a civil lawsuit against the Juventus superstar last year, claiming that Ronaldo forced himself upon her while she was in a prone position in his hotel room.

[ MORE: Bayern keen on Zaha ]

Ronaldo had expressed belief that he would be cleared of the claims, and claimed that graphic documents produced by German publication Der Spiegel were altered and fabricated.

Las Vegas police issued a warrant in a bid to get Ronaldo’s DNA, and the DA’s office says the woman’s refusal to name her attacker stopped them for collecting “vital evidence.” The woman reached a civil settlement with Ronaldo in 2010.

From News3LV.com:

“Based upon a review of the information presented at this time, the allegations of sexual assault against Cristiano Ronaldo cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” the D.A.’s office said. “Therefore, no charges will be forthcoming.”

Bayern Munich kicking the tires on big Zaha bid

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A sensational report is linking Wilfried Zaha not just with a move away from Crystal Palace, but a move clear of the Premier League altogether.

90min.com says that Bayern Munich has turned to Zaha, having been rebuffed in their pursuit of Manchester City’s Leroy Sane.

Palace wants $100 million for Zaha, but so far has only received a $50 million offer from Arsenal for his services. Reports Monday said Arsenal is upping its bid, and offering a loan of Reiss Nelson as a make-good. Palace has had good Fortune with loans from the big boys of the PL, in particular with Ruben Loftus-Cheek two seasons ago.

A lot of this makes sense for all parties, apart from Sane, and it will be interesting to see if the report brings a bigger bid from the Gunners.

Zaha is a sensational player, and has created chances year-after-year for the Eagles. He wants to taste the Champions League, but Palace is not willing to let him go for (much) less than its asking price given its sale of Aaron Wan-Bissaka to Manchester United.

Bayern will spend less on Zaha than it would on Gareth Bale or Sane, and get a determined player who is very much in his prime. Zaha would also get the chance to showcase himself with actual breathing room on the pitch, thanks to Serge Gnabry, Robert Lewandowski, and others.

And Palace, of course, will end up with between $80-100 million and the knowledge that it won’t need to mark Zaha on a Premier League pitch. More importantly, the money raised from Zaha and Wan-Bissaka will allow them to strengthen at nearly every position (above what they have now, not above AWB and Zaha).