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Report: Real Madrid weighing up summer move for Wolves’ Raul Jimenez

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Raul Jimenez may be on his way back to Madrid, Spain this summer.

Wolverhampton Wanderers’ star striker is reportedly garnering interest from Spanish giants Real Madrid ahead of the summer transfer window, according to Spanish outlet Don Balón.

With Luka Jovic, who may be loaned out this summer in order to get minutes, and Mariano struggling to make wholesale impact as secondary options to Karim Benzema, Zinedine Zidane and company are reportedly weighing up a lucrative summer bid for the the former Atletico Madrid striker.

The 28-year-old Mexican has proven to be indispensable for Nuno Espirito Santo this season, scoring 22 goals and recording 10 assists in 44 matches across all competitions. In the 2018-2019 season, Jimenez registered 13 Premier League goals and eight assists, prompting Wolves to shell out a club-record $42 million purchase option via a loan agreement with Benfica.

Featuring 27 times for Los Colchoneros from 2014 to 2015, Jimenez, if a move to the Santiago Bernabeu were to materialize, would be the second Mexican to play for both Madrid giants, with Hugo Sanchez being the other. The striker would become the third Mexican to play for Los Blancos, joining Sanchez and Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, who was on loan with the La Liga side during the 2014-15 season.

Last December, the Mexico international told Marca that he wouldn’t rule out a return to Spain’s top-flight, if the option were to arise: “No, never. I had a good experience there and I would like to go back at some point and try things again in La Liga. It is not something to rule out.”

Liga MX roundup: Jesus Corona hands Cruz Azul untraditional win with last-second penalty save (video)

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Liga MX’s last set of games for the foreseeable future took place on Sunday, with Atlas, Santos and Cruz Azul taking home three points. There’s no timeline on Mexico’s top-flight’s suspension due to the coronavirus, but its last impression was one worth witnessing. Here’s a closer look into some of Sunday’s closed-door action.

Club America 0-1 Cruz Azul

It’s nearly impossible to think of a time in which Cruz Azul didn’t get the short end of the stick against America, specifically with Jesus Corona in goal. There’s a reason why there’s a verb based around La Maquina’s miseries (most of which have come at inopportune times with Corona between the sticks): cruzazulear. For a second, it seemed like history was going to repeat itself on Sunday in front of an uninhabited Estadio Azteca.

Then, Corona delivered this:

In a night in which Guillermo Ochoa made case after case that he was the better goalkeeper between the two, 39-year-old Corona delivered one of his best acts against the rivals, blocking Emanuel Aguilera’s shot from the spot seconds before time expired.
The first half was all blue, as La Maquina heavily emphasized going forward, resulting in a handful of chances at goal that were denied by Ochoa. Santiago Gimenez, less than a minute into the game, saw his driving cross travel inches from America’s goal.
America, inspired by Ochoa’s heroics, recouped their shape in the second half, dominating possession and the tempo of the game. Even so, the league’s leading scorer, Jonathan Rodriguez, was able to find room inside the box and deliver a trademark strike past America’s No. 6, increasing his goal count to nine.
Cruz Azul were the superior team, and the scoreboard was finally showing it.
But in a way, Corona’s save gave Roberto Siboldi’s side – once again leaders of the league with 22 points – perhaps their biggest win of the season, and proved that things don’t always go bad for Cruz Azul.
Elsewhere in Liga MX
Toluca 2-3 Atlas
Santos Laguna 2-1 Necaxa

Gremio players protest, walk onto the field with face masks amid coronavirus crisis

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Gremio players took the field on Sunday with face masks on as a sign of protest for having to play during the coronavirus pandemic.

No fans were allowed into Gremio Arena for Gremio’s Gaucho state championship match against Sao Luiz, but Renato Portaluppi’s men did wear white face masks as they walked through the tunnel and onto the field.

“This protest by the players makes implicit our support for the championship to be halted – life must take precedence,” Gremio’s director of football, Paulo Luz, said about the situation.

With goals a first-half goal from Pualo Miranda and second-half goals from Thiago Neves and Diego Souza, the hosts edges Sao Luiz 3-2. Gremio players did not wear the white masks during the game.

“The whole world has stopped – shouldn’t Brazilian football stop as well? That’s our message and I hope they listen. We hope that good sense will prevail,” Gremio coach Portaluppi said following the game.

Gremio’s protest comes after various South American clubs are starting to complain about having to play, mostly behind closed doors. On Saturday, River Plate refused to play their Superliga cup bout against Atletico Tucuman, closing the doors to their stadium, leaving league officials and Atletico Tucuman outside without access.

On Thursday, South America’s soccer governing body, CONMEBOL, suspended 2020 Copa Libertadores games through March 21.

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Bundesliga continues with plan to play fixtures this weekend

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The German DFL has reiterated its plan to continue playing fixtures this weekend behind closed doors as the COVID-19 pandemic causes cancellations and postponements elsewhere across Europe and the world.

While the organization issued a directive forcing the suspension of fixtures starting next Tuesday through at least April 2, the league has gone ahead with its plan for playing fixtures this weekend, with all Bundesliga and 2.Bundesliga games set to take place except Hannover’s match against SG Dynamo Dresden.

“With a view to the coming weekend, both the DFL and clubs will continue to work closely with the Federal Ministry of Health and the local health authorities at the respective stadium locations of the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga,” the league said in a statement. “The health of the entire population and therefore all football fans as well as all players in the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 have top priority. Therefore, it goes without saying that official instructions must always be implemented. Society as a whole, and with it football, faces a hitherto unknown challenge.”

The league statement placed the decision to go ahead with games squarely at the feet of local authorities at the specific stadium locations, saying the league is deferring to any changes in local policy between now and kickoff time.

Hannover’s match was cancelled as two players in the squad tested positive for the coronavirus, causing all players and staff to go into quarantine.

Bayern Munich chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was quoted as saying the decision to play this weekend “is the right way to go,” and claiming that while public safety should be considered, “at the end of the day, professional football is also about financials,” claiming that smaller clubs could face a crisis if they do not receive revenue. “There is a large three-digit million sum for the 1st and 2nd leagues that would be lit on fire.”

Rummenigge also asked UEFA to postpone World Cup qualifiers scheduled for later this month, saying the travel associated with cross-continent competition is an unnecessary risk. “I would strongly recommend that FIFA and Uefa skip the suspension period,” he said. “That would mean that the players would travel around the world. In our view, this is associated with risks that should not be underestimated.”

Meanwhile, Bayern Munich player Thiago Alcantara was against the decision, saying in a social media post, “This is crazy. Please stop fooling around and land on reality. Let’s be honest, there are much more important priorities than any sport.”

Bayern Munich is set to play Union Berlin on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET. The league’s matchweek schedule begins today as Fortuna Dusseldorf and Paderborn meet with a 3:30 p.m. ET kickoff. Bayern’s game against Chelsea in Champions League play scheduled for next week has been postponed by UEFA.

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Atleti ends Liverpool hopes of UCL repeat

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Marcos Llorente scored twice in extra time, the first off an extra-time blunder from Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian, as Atletico Madrid knocked the reigning champions out of the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.

The match finished 3-2 to Atleti, 4-2 on aggregate, as Alvaro Morata scored late to pour salt in Liverpool’s wounds.

[ MORE: Klopp, Milner react | Simeone, too ]

The Reds forgot their finishing boots on a dominant day, out-attempting Diego Simeone’s visitors 34-9. Atleti goalkeeper Jan Oblak made nine saves.

Roberto Firmino’s goal in the fourth minute of extra time joined Georginio Wijnaldum‘s first-half goal to give Liverpool an advantage it held for less than two minutes.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]


Three things we learned

1. Gini and The Ox run the show, but miserable finishing kills Reds: Wijnaldum and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain rewarded Jurgen Klopp for his risk of removing off-kilter star Fabinho from the Starting XI. The pair teamed up on the opening goal but it was more than that that earned them headlines. Wijnaldum was the best player not named Jan Oblak in the first half, while Oxlade-Chamberlain was a menace to Atleti’s midfielders in the second frame. While Jordan Henderson was understandably a bit rusty at times, his center midfield mates delivered the goods.

That said, Liverpool’s finishing was a combination of truly poor and terribly unlucky. Even when the Reds went ahead in stoppage time, it was Firmino cashing in a rebound after his first shot toward a gaping half of the goal hit the post. Robertson headed off the cross bar. Mohamed Salah shot ball after the ball almost directly to Jan Oblak or over the goal. This won’t go down as “Atleti is so hard to break down,” though Simeone’s men obviously are a tough team; The Reds just didn’t finish enough of their many, many chances.

2. Oblak almost everywhere: Not sure where exactly the joke is here, but Atletico Madrid’s goalkeeper blocked nearly everything that came his way, inspiring “Oh” and “Oh” from the Anfield faithful. The Slovenian shot-stopper

3. Adrian gives it away: Spanish keeper Adrian had very little to do on the day in filling in for the injured Alisson Becker, but ultimately will go down as the man responsible for Liverpool’s failure to defend its UCL crown. He made three saves on the day, but his poor pass up the middle of the pitch to Joao Felix will be what everyone remembers as Liverpool again loses a big UCL match due to a goalkeeper error (and terrible finishing).

Man of the Match: It’s Oblak. Yes, Llorente scored twice. Sure, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Wijnaldum were incredible. But the Slovenian commanded his box in the face of extreme adversity and congestion.


Liverpool entered the match with predictable vigor, Jan Oblak’s first duty coming off a Georginio Wijnaldum header of a Trent Alexander-Arnold cross.

Atleti found its footing soon after, Kieran Trippier unable to turn a long diagonal ball off a free kick back toward goal.

Salah tempted the frame with a 20-yard attempt in the 10th minute, and Oblak made a sprawling denial of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain four minutes later.

Atleti won a corner in the 17th, but Felipe nodded short of the near post.

Salah took advantage of a Renan Lodi slip to cue up Sadio Mane, but his bounding shot was blocked and collected by Oblak.

The Atleti keeper then made a fantastic save on Roberto Firmino after an incisive Alexander-Arnold cross.

Wijnaldum leveled the tie in the 43rd minute, and the goal had been coming. Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross found a wide-open Wijnaldum at the spot for a powered-down header that bounced past Oblak.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Salah stung Oblak’s palms early in the second half, and the Atleti keeper stopped an offside Mane with a fantastic left-hand save in the 50th.

Oblak got low to palm away an Oxlade-Chamberlain drive, conceding a corner.

Joao Felix had a chance out of nothing, and Adrian bumbled the ball but saved his error by blocking Correa’s chop at the rebound.

Robertson was celebrating a would-be go-ahead goal off a Salah cross, but it hit the cross bar in the 67th minute. Oblak made another fine save before the rebound was blocked by a defender.

An 81st-minute corner routine set up Robertson for glory, but he blazed clear of the frame from 18 yards.

Wijnaldum couldn’t finish with a back post header off a James Milner cross, and Mane smashed an overhead kick over the bar.

Saul Niguez was offside when he headed a stoppage-time free kick home, and the match moved to extra time.

Oblak made another save to start stoppage time, his ninth of the match. Firmino then took his rebound off the post to make it 2-0.

But wait, Atleti had an answer when Adrian’s clearance went right to Joao Felix. A few touches later it was 2-1 through Llorente’s low drive, and he added another through a well-worked counterattack to stun the reigning champs.

Morata blazed past the Liverpool back line to seal the result deep in the second period of extra time.