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What now? Newcastle United after relegation

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There’s nothing good about this.

Newcastle United has no silver lining in its relegation cloud after sinking into the second tier for a second time.

There will be no awakening, no excuses that they were unlucky. There isn’t going to be a series of veterans lining up to stay and instantly guide the team back to the top flight, as proud players Kevin Nolan, Fabricio Coloccini, Jonas Gutierrez and Andy Carroll did in 2009-10.

[ MORE: Newcastle, Norwich relegated | NUFC director reacts ]

There was a bit of an exodus then, too: Obafemi Martins bailed out alongside Michael Owen, Sebastien Bassong and David Edgar. And surely Moussa Sissoko and Georginio Wijnaldum won’t risk international futures for France and Holland while playing in the championship. Daryl Janmaat, Ayoze Perez and Tim Krul will likely follow suit.

Jonjo Shelvey and Andros Townsend showed great heart during the relegation battle, but will they be content to help the Magpies in the Championship. Chancel Mbemba and Aleksandar Mitrovic would be stars in the second tier, but will they be okay staying one year after arriving from a Champions League outfit?

The good news is that all of those players have some too much value on the transfer market, and Newcastle is a rich club.

[ MORE: Allardyce hails “difficult to beat” Sunderland ]

Much maligned owner Mike Ashley is almost certainly not selling the club at a loss. In the past he’s said that he’s “wedded” to the club for better or relegation. Well here’s the latter, and Ashley has had seven managers oversee 20 or more matches since buying the team in 2007. Their win percentages?

Sam Allardyce — 33 percent
Kevin Keegan — 29 percent
Joe Kinnear — 22 percent
Chris Hughton — 59 percent*
Alan Pardew — 38 percent
John Carver — 15 percent
Steve McClaren — 23 percent

*majority of games in Championship

Not too good. By comparison, some of the worst percentages amongst active PL bosses belong to Sam Allardyce (30 percent), Tony Pulis (33 percent) and Mark Hughes (38 percent). Only Pardew even comes close to flirting with those marks… and those are, again, among the worst.

Then, there’s the current manager: Rafa Benitez. He almost certainly is interested in executing his out-clause, and most of their pre-Benitez hires have been at-best yes men or long shots: Alan Pardew, John Carver, Steve McClaren, Joe Kinnear (!!)… these were not inspired hires. Lucking out with Chris Hughton over promotion in 2009-10 was another story altogether.

[ MORE: Norwich’s Neil calls relegation “severe disappointment” ]

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Youngsters Adam Armstrong and Ivan Toney were on loan this year, the Magpies played most of the season with a second or third string keeper after Tim Krul and then Rob Elliot were hurt, and really did have a poor run of injuries.

The Magpies have a good chance for instant promotion, though probably not the 102-point run they pulled in 2009-10. A lot of it hinges on having the right manager, whether Benitez surprisingly decides to stay or a new face is brought to Tyneside, and fans will have trouble trusting Ashley and managing director Lee Charnley with making the right choice.

La Liga: Real Madrid disappoint in home draw with Valladolid

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ MORE: Liverpool bests wobbly Arsenal at Anfield | Player ratings ]

Real Madrid 1-1 Real Valladolid

With Barcelona losing on the season’s opening day, and now Real Madrid dropping points on Saturday to the side that finished 16th last season, the 2019 La Liga title race appears to be wide open.

Karim Benzema put Real Madrid 1-0 up after 82 minutes, and Los Blancos appeared to have avoided a disappointing start to their home campaign. However, Sergi Guardiola (no relation to Pep) had other ideas when he bagged an unlikely equalizer in the 88th minute.

Eden Hazard remained out with a thigh injury and the $113-million Belgian isn’t expected to make his Madrid debut until after the season’s international break which takes place the first full weekend of September. James Rodriguez made his return to Real Madrid after two seasons on loan to Bayern Munich, but the Colombian was subbed off after 57 minutes to be replaced by Vinicius Junior.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Celta Vigo 1-0 Valencia
Getafe 1-1 Athletic Bilbao
Osasuna 0-0 Eibar

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Mallorca v. Real Sociedad — 11 a.m. ET
Alaves v. Espanyol — 11 a.m. ET
Leganes v. Atletico Madrid — 1 p.m. ET
Barcelona v. Real Betis — 3 p.m. ET

Serie A: Juventus edge past Parma; Napoli-Fiorentina thriller (video)

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Italy’s top flight…

[ MORE: Liverpool bests wobbly Arsenal at Anfield | Player ratings ]

Parma 0-1 Juventus

Juventus’ quest to win a ninth straight Serie A title began with a win away to Parma on Saturday, but only just barely. Giorgio Chiellini scored the game’s only goal in the 21st minute, redirecting Alex Sandro’s half-volley past the goalkeeper after a corner kick wasn’t fully cleared. The victory sets Maurizio Sarri‘s side (Sarri wasn’t in charge of the team on Saturday as he continues to recover from pneumonia) on its way in a season that figures to feature multiple challengers to the throne, with Napoli and Inter Milan each strengthening their squads considerably in the summer. Sarri will also miss out on next weekend’s heavyweight clash between Juve and last season’s runners-up Napoli at Allianz Stadium.

Cristiano Ronaldo had a goal taken off the board after the video-assistant referee picked up on the narrowest of offside calls.

$85-million center back Matthijs de Ligt was named to the bench, where he remained for the entirety of 90 minutes, with veterans Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci preferred to the 20-year-old. Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon joined De Ligt on the bench in his return to Juve after spending last season at Paris Saint-Germain.

Fiorentina 3-4 Napoli

Napoli’s 4-3 victory over Fiorentina was a truly wild ride. There is no other way to describe it.

Napoli went from a goal down inside the first 10 minutes, to 2-1 up just before halftime, level at 2-2 in the 52nd minute, 3-2 ahead just four minutes later, level at 3-3 in the 65th, and finally 4-3 ahead just two minutes later.

Dries Mertens (38th), Lorenzo Insigne (43rd and 67th) and Jose Callejon (56th) got the goals for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.

Hirving Lozano, who joined Napoli for $44 million on Friday, wasn’t yet available to make his debut but will only add another level of quality to what has proven to be an already impressive attacking unit.

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Udinese v. AC Milan — 12 p.m. ET
Roma v. Genoa — 2:45 p.m. ET
Sampdoria v. Lazio — 2:45 p.m. ET
Cagliari v. Brescia — 2:45 p.m. ET
Verona v. Bologna — 2:45 p.m. ET
SPAL v. Atalanta — 2:45 p.m. ET
Torino v. Sassuolo — 2:45 p.m. ET

Messi to miss Barcelona’s next game; Suarez, Dembele also out

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Lionel Messi has been left out of Barcelona’s squad to face Real Betis in the Spanish league on Sunday.

[ MORE: Liverpool bests wobbly Arsenal at Anfield | Player ratings ]

Messi returned to training this week after recovering from a right calf injury picked up in preseason, but the Argentina star was not included in the list of players available for the team’s home opener at Camp Nou Stadium.

He missed the team’s 1-0 loss to Athletic Bilbao in the league opener last weekend.

Coach Ernesto Valverde is also without forwards Luiz Suarez and Ousmane Dembele because of injuries.

Klopp preens after Liverpool win: ‘Our identity is intensity’

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Liverpool and Arsenal entertained on Saturday, with the Reds earning a deserved 3-1 win and keeping the Gunners off-kilter for most of the day.

Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds pushed the tempo for much of the match and overcame some wobbly moments at the back to cruise to the win.

[ MORE: Liverpool-Arsenal recap | 3 things ]

They were tough, fiery, and deserved every bit of the win. And Klopp knows it, and knows that you know it. From the BBC:

“Our identity is intensity, and we showed that today. … We were a bit surprised by their system. We couldn’t know that they would play a diamond, but we switched things around and coped very well.

“The last 10 minutes I saw the possession – 53 to 47 or something like that – but over 80 minutes it must have been completely different. For 80 minutes we were completely in charge of the game. We are not Disneyland, we do not need to excite everyone in every second.”

This guy is an absolute beauty. Even those who despise him have to admit that we are lucky to have him.

Klopp’s men lapsed late and allowed a Lucas Torreira goal. The defense has been wobbly over the first three weeks of the season, and preseason was just as rough. Klopp would’ve loved a clean sheet for the first time since the first week of preseason, but he’s happy with the performance.

“I would have loved to have it, but things can happen. They’re a quality side, Arsenal. I didn’t see that many chances, but we were really in charge today and completely deserved the win.”

Liverpool is off to Burnley next, and then will enjoy the international break.