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Suarez leads Barcelona in El Clasico rout of Real Madrid

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No Messi, no problem.

Barcelona beat bitter rivals Real Madrid 5-1 at the Nou Camp on Sunday in the latest edition of El Clasico.

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Philippe Coutinho grabbed the opener and Luis Suarez scored a hat trick to do the damage with Arturo Vidal adding a late goal, as the first El Clasico since 2007 without either Lionel Messi (injured) or Cristiano Ronaldo (sold in the summer to Juventus) turned out to be a routine win for Barca.

Real fought back in the second half but Marcelo’s goal wasn’t enough to stop their rot, with Karim Benzema guilty of missing a gilt-edged chance to make it 2-2.

With the victory Barcelona have moved back to the top of La Liga, while Real Madrid’s woes continue as Julen Lopetegui has now lost five of his last seven games in all competitions with just one win in that sequence. Real have now lost three-straight games in La Liga.

Barcelona led 2-0 at the break, as Coutinho opened the scoring. Jordi Alba’s fine run down the left caught out Real’s defense and his cross put the ball on a plate for Coutinho to slot home to make it 1-0.

Then came some El Clasico history on the half hour mark.

Suarez went down in the box after being clipped by Raphael Varane and after using VAR for the first time in El Clasico history, the officials awarded a penalty kick which Suarez dispatched just past Thibaut Courtois to make it 2-0.

After the break Real came flying out of the traps after a tactical switch saw them move into a 3-5-2 formation with Lucas Vazquez on and Varane removed. Soon, it was 2-1.

Marcelo controlled and finished with his right foot to give Real hope of mounting a comeback. And they came so close to making it 2-2 as Luka Modric sent an effort off the post which rolled across the line and out.

Barca almost went 3-1 up as Sergi Roberto found Suarez but his effort smacked the post.

Late on Benzema headed over a glorious chance from close range after a fine cross from Vazquez as Real continued to knock at the door.

But it was Suarez who delivered his second and Barcelona’s third, with the Uruguayan scoring a sublime header to make it 3-1 and end any hope of a Real comeback.

Suarez then secured his hat trick with a cheeky chip over Courtois to score his ninth goal in nine La Liga games against Real Madrid. And Vidal made it 5-1 late on as Real totally fell apart and Lopetegui’s future will surely be in huge doubt just a few months after taking over.

Hazard reveals Chelsea rejected Real Madrid move

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Eden Hazard revealing that he dreams of playing for Real Madrid did little to ease the nerves of Chelsea fans that their star man could be leaving Stamford Bridge in the next 12 months.

These comments may reassure them slightly.

While on international duty with Belgium Hazard, 27, has told Telefoot that the Blues were adamant he would not be sold to Real Madrid in the summer.

“Chelsea were clear with me. I couldn’t leave the club,” Hazard said. “I accepted it. Anyway… leaving or staying, I was going to be happy. I do not regret this decision at all.”

Hazard has said time and time again he is happy to remain at Chelsea but with just over two years left on his current deal with the Blues, the winger who is currently in the form of his life knows that any kind of statement he makes about a potential transfer will be amplified in the coming months.

So, it appears that Real are once again playing the long game when it comes to signing a star player.

They did it with Cristiano Ronaldo, Thibaut Courtois and Luka Modric, to name a few, and that worked out pretty well for them.

With Julen Lopetegui on the brink after a shaky start to his first season in charge at the Santiago Bernabeu, Real badly need a new talisman to take over from Cristiano Ronaldo who left for Juventus in the summer.

At this point, it seems somewhat inevitable that Hazard will be wearing the white jersey of Real Madrid before the end of 2019. I’m not alone in thinking that, right?

That said, if Maurizio Sarri‘s magic continues and Chelsea launch a serious title charge, maybe, just maybe, Hazard will forget about the dream of playing for Real and instead extend his seven-year stay at Stamford Bridge. He is playing the best soccer of his career and Sarri’s fluid, attack-minded system is a big part of that.

In these sort of instances you could counter a move by saying something like ‘you know, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side…’ but the fact of the matter is that wherever Hazard plays he performs and makes that team better. If he heads to Real he will be their latest star in a long line. If he remains at Chelsea he will become a bigger club legend than he already is.

Ranking the 30 Ballon d’Or nominees

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Which player deserved to be named the best in the world and win the 2018 Ballon d’Or?

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France Football released its 30-man shortlist for their award which salutes the top player on the planet each year. FIFA’s The Best award has become a contender for the Ballon d’Or, but this is still the top individual award that the elite want to win.

Cristiano Ronaldo has won five, so too has Lionel Messi as they hold the record for the most Ballon d’Or’s won by a single player.

But it seems that in 2018 their decade of dominance (either Ronaldo or Messi has won the award each year since 2008) will end and there will be a new player lifting the glorious golden trophy. And to imagine the likes of David De Gea, David Silva and Roberto Lewandowski didn’t even make the shortlist.

Below we have a go at ranking the 30 nominees on the shortlist, as Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah is already absolutely crushing the fans’ vote on the website, with Messi in second.

You can vote online here for the award which is dished out in December, and here’s how we think the top 30 players in the world stack up based on their form in 2018.

1. Kylian Mbappe
2. Luka Modric
3. Cristiano Ronaldo
4. Lionel Messi
5. Antoine Griezmann
6. Mohamed Salah
7. Neymar
8. Eden Hazard
9. Kevin De Bruyne
10. N'Golo Kante
11. Raphael Varane
12. Harry Kane
13. Sergio Ramos
14. Luis Suarez
15. Ivan Rakitic
16. Sergio Aguero
17. Marcelo
18. Paul Pogba
19. Thibaut Courtois
20. Sadio Mane
21. Diego Godin
22. Isco
23. Edinson Cavani
24. Alisson
25. Mario Mandzukic
26. Hugo Lloris
27. Roberto Firmino
28. Gareth Bale
29. Karim Benzema
30. Jan Oblak

Report: Man United struggles put De Gea future in jeopardy

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Much of the focus at Manchester United has been on the strenuous relationship between Jose Mourinho and French midfielder Paul Pogba. Turns out, he might not be the only player disillusioned with the current environment.

According to a report by James Ducker of The Telegraph, Manchester United is “facing a serious battle” to convince goalkeeper David De Gea to stay beyond the end of his contract, which expires this coming summer with a team option for one more year. With such a short time left on his current deal, the report states that talks regarding an extension have reached an “impasse” leaving United wondering if they will either lose him for nothing in the summer of 2020 or be forced to sell him cheaply at the end of this season.

The report says that Manchester United’s inability to consistently challenge for trophies is the main reason for De Gea’s mood towards the club, and with Manchester United in 8th place after the club’s worst-ever Premier League start through seven matches, that doesn’t appear to be changing this season at this point.

De Gea has been the subject of endless rumors linking him with a move away from Old Trafford for years, and it has been confirmed in the past that he was close to a move to Real Madrid on numerous occasions. Madrid now has two long-term goalkeepers in Thibaut Courtois and Keylor Navas, but there would be plenty of potential suitors for one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League for years.

However, could it potentially be in Manchester United’s favor to move on from a goalkeeper potentially in decline? De Gea was below his standards this summer at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and it was surprising to see him earn a spot on the PFA Team of the Season last year over players like Ederson, Nick Pope, Jordan Pickford, or Kasper Schmeichel. De Gea is only 27 years old, extremely young for a goalkeeper, but with the performances suggesting a possible decline could be on its way, it’s not terribly surprising the club is standing firm in contract negotiations.

Eden Hazard admits Real Madrid dream

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Chelsea fans, look away now. Step away from your desk if you’re reading this and put down your drink if you have one in your hand.

Amid the form of his life, Eden Hazard has admitted he dreams of playing for Real Madrid.

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Hazard, 27, put in another stunning display in Chelsea’s 3-0 demolition of Southampton on Sunday, with the Belgian scoring for the seventh time in the PL this season as he leads the scoring charts.

Yet his latest comments when speaking to reporters after the win at St Mary’s will surely upset anyone connected with Chelsea.

“Real Madrid is the best club in the world,” Hazard said. “I don’t want to lie. It was my dream since I was a kid. I was dreaming about this club. We will see. I don’t want to talk about this every day. I don’t have time but we will talk about my future soon. I think so.”

Hazard, who has less than two years left on his current deal, was asked if he wanted to run down his contract a la Thibaut Courtois and leave Chelsea for Real Madrid for a cut-price fee.

He’s not about that.

“I don’t want that,” Hazard said. “I want what’s good for me, but I want what’s good for the club because the club has given me everything. I don’t want to say: ‘Yes, I am signing a new contract’ and then in the end I don’t end up signing. So I will see. Sometimes in my head, I wake up in the morning and think I want to go. Sometimes I think I want to stay. It is a hard decision. It is my future. I am 27 and I will turn 28 in January.”

Now, this is obviously Hazard putting some serious pressure on Chelsea to offer him a huge raise. The club believe that Hazard is keen to agree a $390,000 a week contract. He admitted that he is happy to stay at Chelsea and he is in constant dialogue with those in charge of the west London club, but once again he reiterated that he has a dream.

“It is also when you have a dream and you want to make it happen,” Hazard said. “It is like I have said a lot of times: if I leave I will be happy; I know if I stay I will be happy. It is not like if I go I am happy and if I stay that I am unhappy.”

Hazard’s form this season means he has the ace up his sleeve in negotiations and Maurizio Sarri‘s team would not be joint top of the table after eight games of the season if it wasn’t for his goals and trickery. Fact. Right now he may be ahead of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as the most in-form attacking player on the planet.

He makes Chelsea tick and their future over the next five to six years lies in his hands. Well, feet. You get what I’m saying… And that is precisely why Hazard is so outspoken on this topic and his timing here is key.

Hazard has said this just before an international break, as he will head away for nearly two weeks and things will have calmed down by the time he returns ahead of Chelsea’s huge clash against Manchester United on Oct. 20 at Stamford Bridge.

Until then, Chelsea’s fans, their board and maybe even Sarri will be having sleepless nights.