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Wenger, Conte among favorites to replace Zidane

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The dust has barely settled at Real Madrid as Zinedine Zidane announced his dramatic departure as manager, but already there’s plenty of talk about who could take charge of the Spanish giants next.

[ MORE: Guerrero cleared for World Cup ]

Zidane, 45, walked away from the Santiago Bernabeu just five days after winning his third-straight UEFA Champions League title as Real boss. Talk about a mic-drop moment…

His three years in charge of Los Blancos will surely go down in history as one of the greatest managerial stints ever and is unlikely to be replicated.

But who’s next in the notoriously toasty hot seat for Real’s president Florentino Perez? Real’s president seemed slightly stunned that Zidane had stepped down but knows he needs to act fast to keep his superstars in check over the summer and allow Real to build on their success.

Via Oddschecker, here’s a look at the favorites to replace Zidane.


Arsene Wenger – 3/1 – Now this would be something, wouldn’t it? Real have tried to get Wenger in the past but the Frenchman always resisted their advances to remain in charge of his beloved Arsenal. Now he’s a free man and has been speaking about his next managerial move being overseas, what’s to stop this happening? Could Wenger handle the egos of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale? His style of play would certainly delight the Real fans and this would be some way for Wenger to get back on the coaching carousel.

Antonio Conte – 4/1 – Look, his stock is still incredibly high across Europe despite what happened at Chelsea this season. A Premier League title, a fifth-place finish and an FA Cup in his two seasons at Stamford Bridge isn’t bad at all and Conte has proven he can work with big-name players at Juventus, Italy and Chelsea. Real could do a lot worse and Conte and Chelsea may have found the perfect escape route for their uncomfortable situation as the Italian enters the final year of his contract.

Mauricio Pochettino – 6/1 – Now, the Argentine has just signed a new long-term deal with Spurs until 2023 and seems very happy at Tottenham. There are also reports out there that Tottenham didn’t include a release clause in Pochettino’s new deal, so it seems as though he’s staying put at White Hart Lane. But come on, it’s Real Madrid. Daniel Levy will be keen to halt the conveyor belt from North London to the Spanish capital (Ahem, Gareth Bale and Luka Modric) and stopping Pochettino from jumping ship is pivotal to keeping the likes of Harry Kane and Dele Alli wanting to join him in Spain. Poch will manage Real one day, that much is true. But this could be slightly too early for him.

Guti – 6/1 – Remember this guy? What a fine head of hair he had during his playing days with Real as a twinkle-toed central midfielder. Guti has been working hard behind-the-scenes at Real with their academy players and the U-19 coach is well-respected at the club. Promoting from within worked out pretty well for Florentino Perez and his board before. That said, Guti doesn’t quite have Zidane’s stature in the game so again, it may be a few years before he could take the reins. A good back-up option and a Real legend.

Massimiliano Allegri – 12/1 – It appears that he may well remain at Juventus but the Italian tactician is yet to commit his future to Juve and this opportunity would surely be intriguing for him. A coach who loves the art of defending may find it a little tough to drill the flamboyant Real stars, but for sustainable, long-term success, he’s your man. Allegri has built a fine squad at Juve and a group of players who play together instead of individuals.


FA Cup: Chelsea survive trip to Hull, advance to 5th round (video)

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With their 2-1 victory away to EFL Championship side Hull City, Chelsea joined Leicester City, Sheffield United and Norwich City as Premier League sides to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup on Saturday.

[ FA CUP ROUNDUP: West Ham bounced; Sheff Utd, Norwich advance ]

Frank Lampard‘s side got off to a flying start courtesy of Michy Batshuayi‘s deflected finish in the 6th minute, and the Blues were well on their way to a first half of total dominance.

Hull looked more prepared for a fight after halftime, but it mattered very little after Fikayo Tomori was gifted a free header two yards off the goal line. Ross Barkley‘s free kick was well placed at the back post and there was nothing that anyone could do to stop it.

[ MORE: Report: Spurs, Inter close to deal for Christian Eriksen ]

Hull pulled the game back to 2-1 in the 78th minute, and they were more than a little fortunate in how they managed to do so. Kamil Grosicki smacked a free kick with plenty of power and got the deflection of all deflections to wrong-foot Willy Caballero and find the back of the net.

The draw for the fifth round will be held on Monday at 2:20 p.m. ET, prior to kickoff of Bournemouth v. Arsenal.

FA Cup roundup: West Ham bounced; Sheff Utd, Norwich advance (video)

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round (early) action…

[ MORE: Saints hit Spurs late to force 4th-round replay ]

The draw for the fifth round will be held on Monday at 2:20 p.m. ET, prior to kickoff of Bournemouth v. Arsenal.

West Ham United 0-1 West Bromwich Albion

West Ham were the lone Premier League side to be knocked out by a lower-division side on Saturday, as David Moyes‘ side failed to find the back of the net and were beaten 1-0 by EFL Championship leaders West Brom.

Conor Townsend scored the game’s only goal in the 9th minute, and though the Hammers controlled possession the rest of the way, they created very little in terms of scoring chances and finished the game with just three shots on target. West Brom finished the game with 10 men, but West Ham could do nothing with their 18-minute advantage following Semi Ajayi‘s second yellow card in the 72nd minute.

Millwall 0-2 Sheffield United

Sheffield United’s dream season continued with a comfortable 2-0 victory away to Championship side Millwall. Both goals came inside the final half-hour, but the Blades were unquestionably the better side even before breaking the deadlock.

That came in the 62nd minute, when Muhamed Besic placed a stunning curler inside the far post for 1-0. Not long before full-time, in the 84th, Oliver Norwood drove his effort hard and low and into the corner to make it 2-0.

Burnley 1-2 Norwich City

Norwich and Burnley were largely inseparable for the majority of Saturday’s clash at Turf Moor, save for a four-minute period early in the second half in which Norwich scored twice and booked their place in the fifth round.

Grant Hanley made it 1-0 in the 53rd and Josip Drmic added to the advantage in the 57th minute. Erik Pieters pulled Burnley back to within a goal in the 73rd, but that’s as close as the Clarets would get.

FA Cup fourth-round scoreboard

Southampton 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur — FULL RECAP
Newcastle United 0-0 Oxford United
Portsmouth 4-2 Barnsley
Coventry City 0-0 Birmingham City
Reading 1-1 Cardiff City

RB Leipzig beaten, Bundesliga title race thrown wide open

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BERLIN (AP) Eintracht Frankfurt defeated Bundesliga leader RB Leipzig 2-0 to throw the title race wide open on Saturday.

[ MORE: Report: Spurs, Inter close to deal for Christian Eriksen ]

Frankfurt defender Almamy Toure scored a brilliant goal just after the break and Filip Kostic sealed the win in injury time to deal Leipzig its first defeat since a 2-1 loss at home to Freiburg in October.

Borussia Monchengladbach cut the gap at the top to two points with a 3-1 win at home over Mainz, thanks largely to goals in each half from French striker Alassane Plea.

Bayern Munich has the chance to cut the gap to one point with a win at home over Schalke in the late game.

[ FA CUP: Saints hit Spurs late to force 4th-round replay ]

Borussia Dortmund is just four points off the top after its 5-1 win over Cologne on Friday.

Also Saturday, Union Berlin defeated Augsburg 2-0 at home, Hertha Berlin came from behind to win 2-1 at Wolfsburg, and Paderborn moved off the bottom with a 2-0 win at Freiburg.

FA Cup: Saints hit Spurs late to force 4th-round replay

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Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur played to a virtual stand-still for nearly 60 minutes before Jose Mourinho’s side broke through with a moment of true quality from Son Heung-min and Giovani Lo Celso, but finished right back where they started after Saints hit back late to force a replay in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

[ MORE: Report: Spurs, Inter close to deal for Christian Eriksen ]

Prior to that, Lo Celso put the ball in the back of the net and briefly thought it was he who had put Spurs ahead, but the Argentine was denied his third Spurs goal on the basis that the ball hit Son on its way through traffic, and the South Korean was in an offside position.

Spurs’ best chance of the first half chance came and went just minutes later, with Lucas Moura in disbelief and Angus Gunn the hero of the moment. Dele Alli played Lucas into open space inside the penalty area and, with the goal gaping to Gunn’s left and right, Lucas looked to place his right-footed shot inside the far post. Gunn was up to the challenge, though, and pulled off a sensational left-footed save from close range.

Seconds later, Saints had a surefire scoring chance and were denied in equally spectacular fashion. Danny Ings used his chest to control a free kick into the box and looped it goal-bound over the head of Hugo Lloris, only for Japhet Tanganga to make the last-second headed clearance in front of an open net.

[ MORE: Mourinho in favor of PL’s winter break, but says timing all wrong ]

Saints were the first to go ever so close to a goal in the second half. Michael Obafemi crossed from the right side and found Ings inside the six-yard box, where he redirected the ball ever so slightly, but not enough, to send it inches wide of Lloris’ right-hand post.

Following a spell that was all Saints to start the second half, Spurs broke the deadlock through Son in the 58th minute. Lo Celso drove through the heart of Southampton’s midfield before playing the ball to Son near the top of the 18-yard box. He took a touch to set up the shot and fired a left-footed arrow inside the far post.

The lead lasted just shy of 30 minutes, close but not quite over the finish line. With 87 minutes on the clock and a full head of steam over the preceding quarter-hour, Southampton got their hugely deserved equalizer. Sofiane Boufal arrived near the top of the box as Ings’ cut-back ball arrived and the Moroccan international hammered it home.

The two sides will meet again for their fourth-round replay in two weeks at the Tottenham Hotspur. The draw for the fifth round will be held on Monday at 2:20 p.m. ET, prior to kickoff of Bournemouth v. Arsenal.