Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

La Liga: Real Madrid’s game in hand to decide title; Barcelona powerless

Leave a comment

A roundup of Sunday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup | Goodbye, White Hart Lane ]

Las Palmas 1-4 Barcelona

Barcelona have done just about everything they could possibly do (since drawing three straight games and dropping six of nine possible points in November and December… and inexplicably losing to 17th- and 11th-place Deportivo La Coruña and Malaga, respectively, in March and April) to put themselves in position to win the title.

On Sunday, Neymar bagged himself a hat trick to take his league goals tally to 13 on the season (to go with 11 assists) and keep Barca level on points with Real Madrid on points (87) and ahead based on the head-to-head tiebreaker (one win, one draw). The decisive game in the 2016-17 La Liga season will be played on Wednesday, with every one of Barca’s players and coaches sitting at home, their feet kicked up on the couch, as Real Madrid come level on games played (37), away to 13th-place Celta Vigo.

Luis Suarez scored Barcelona’s other goal (assisted by Neymar), the one that turned out to be the winner, giving him 28 league goals (to go with 13 assists) this season.

Real Madrid 4-1 Sevilla

These clubs hate each other so much, yet they’re constantly imitating and mimicking the other. Barca won 4-1, thus Madrid couldn’t be outdone.

Nacho opened the scoring early, putting Los Blancos ahead in the 10th minute, followed 13 minutes later by Cristiano Ronaldo’s 400th goal for Madrid (in just eight seasons — all competitions) to make it 2-0. Ronaldo made it 3-1 in the 78th minute (Stevan Jovetic pulled a goal back for Sevilla just after halftime) to give him 401 goals in the white shirt of Madrid, and Toni Kroos completed the scoring six minutes later. All Madrid need are four points from their final two games to win a record 33rd league title next Sunday.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Real Betis 1-1 Atletico Madrid
Villarreal 0-0 Deportivo La Coruña
Athletic Bilbao 1-1 Leganes
Real Sociedad 2-2 Malaga
Eibar 0-1 Sporting Gijon
Alaves 3-1 Celta Vigo

Reina faces hearing over links with trio connected to mafia

Claudio Villa/Getty Images
Leave a comment

ROME (AP) Outgoing Napoli goalkeeper Pepe Reina has been summoned to a hearing at the Italian football federation over his association with people with links to the mafia.

Reina, along with Paolo Cannavaro and Salvatore Aronica, is to face the FIGC’s disciplinary committee after an investigation by Naples’ anti-mafia department.

It is reportedly one of the reasons why Napoli decided not to renew Reina’s contract, with the former Liverpool goalkeeper set to move to AC Milan on a free transfer.

The FIGC says Reina “has had and continues to have inopportune association and friendship with Gabriele Esposito, Francesco Esposito and Giuseppe Esposito.” It adds that that includes holidays and “an exchange of favors.”

Cannavaro, who had two spells with Napoli, retired at Sassuolo last year. Aronica also spent several years at the southern club before joining Palermo in 2013.

Iran names initial squad for World Cup

Leave a comment

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) Jalal Hosseini and Vouria Ghaffouri have both been left off Iran’s provisional 24-man squad for the World Cup.

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz did not say why Hosseini, a Persepolis defender, and Ghaffouri were not included.

There was space for midfielders Masoud Shojaei and Ehsan Hajsafi, however. Both played with Greek club Panionios against Maccabi Tel Aviv in August 2017. Iran does not recognize Israel and its supreme leader has threatened the country in the past. Both Shojaei and Hajsafi missed matches with the national team after the game.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh, a 24-year-old forward who plays in the Netherlands with AZ Alkmaar, is also in the squad, which was announced Sunday.

In the midfield, Queiroz chose Saeid Ezatolahi, although the Amkar Perm player will miss the team’s first World Cup match because he was given a red card in a game against South Korea in qualifying.

Nottingham Forest midfielder Ashkan Dejagah was also chosen.

Goalkeeper Amir Abedzadeh of Portuguese club Maritimo made the squad. His father, Ahmadreza Abedzadeh, was Iran captain and goalkeeper at the 1998 World Cup in France.

Iran will play in Group B at the World Cup with Portugal, Spain and Morocco. The team will play warm-up matches in Turkey and Greece before heading to Russia.

Goalkeepers: Alireza Beiranvand (Persepolis), Rashid Mazaheri (Zob Ahan), Amir Abedzadeh (Maritimo)

Defenders: Ramin Rezaeian (KV Oostende), Mohammad Reza Khanzadeh (Padideh), Morteza Pouraliganji (Al Saad), Pejman Montazeri (Esteghlal), Seyed Majid Hosseini (Esteghlal), Milad Mohammadi (Akhmat Grozny), Roozbeh Cheshmi (Esteghlal)

Midfielders: Saeid Ezatolahi (Amkar Perm), Masoud Shojaei (AEK Athens), Mehdi Torabi (Saipa), Ashkan Dejagah (Nottingham Forest), Omid Ebrahimi (Esteghlal), Ehsan Hajsafi (Olympiakos), Vahid Amiri (Persepolis), Saman Ghoddos (Ostersunds FK), Ali Gholizadeh (Saipa)

Forwards: Alireza Jahanbakhsh (AZ Alkmaar), Karim Ansarifard (Olympiakos), Mahdi Taremi (Al-Gharafa Sports Club), Sardar Azmoun (Rubin Kazan), Reza Ghoochannejhad (SC Heerenveen)

Six Premier Leaguers named to Argentina, but no Icardi

Epsilon/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Argentina’s World Cup roster features a number of the usual suspects, particularly up front, but Serie A’s top goalscorer has been surprisingly left off the list of 23.

[ MORE: Belgium goes to World Cup without Nainggolan ]

Manager Jorge Sampaoli’s squad was made official on Monday, which includes the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain.

The Albiceleste won’t be taking Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi though, which has raised some questions about the decision.

Icardi led all scorers in Italy’s top flight this season, scoring 29 goals in 34 Serie A matches, while Paulo Dybala edged out the final striker spot in the Argentina squad.

Dybala is teammates with Higuain at Italian giants Juventus.

Meanwhile, six Premier League players were named into the South American nation’s squad, including goalkeepers Sergio Romero (Man United) and Willy Caballero (Chelsea), as well as Nicolas Otamendi (Man City), Marcos Rojo (Man United) and Manuel Lanzini (West Ham).

Men in Blazers POD: FA Cup recap, UCL final preview and more

Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Rog and Davo recap a spite-fueled, snear-filled, peak Phil Jones FA Cup Final, preview this weekend’s Champions League tilt between Liverpool and Real Madrid and eulogize Big Sam… gone the opposite of too soon. Plus, World Cup rosters and MLS.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

Subscribe to the podcast OR to update your iTunes subscriptions ]

Click here for the RSS feed ]