Thibaut Courtois

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Man City makes statement, comes back in Madrid

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Kevin De Bruyne‘s second-half star show led Manchester City to a 2-1 comeback win over Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in Wednesday’s first leg of a UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie.

Isco had put the hosts ahead in the 60th minute off a Vinicius Junior assist, but De Bruyne set up Gabriel Jesus for a 78th-minute header before converting a Raheem Sterling-won penalty five minutes later.

[ MORE: Pep, KDB, Jesus react to win ]

Sergio Ramos was sent off in the 87th minute for a pullback on Jesus and will miss the second leg, while Aymeric Laporte was injured for City.

The second leg is March 17 at the Etihad Stadium.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Pep Guardiola‘s tactical approach clearly surprised Zinedine Zidane, with Jesus in a left midfield/wing back role and De Bruyne up top.

Aymeric Laporte’s injury in the 33rd minute certainly hampered City’s thoughts of a big win.M

Bernardo Silva ripped a left-footed effort in the opening minute as City came out of the gates well.

The next real chance came from Gabriel Jesus, slipped in by a Kevin De Bruyne through ball but denied by Thibaut Courtois.

Ederson denied Karim Benzema point blank in the 30th minute, and Rodrigo fumbled the rebound in what should’ve been an easy 1-0 to the hosts.

Real used a goal line clearance to deny Jesus off a corner kick, as Courtois slapped Kevin De Bruyne’s set piece to the Brazilian at the back post.

Fede Valverde saw a yellow for taking down Ilkay Gundogan in the 48th minute.

A Casemiro mistake sent De Bruyne on a long dribble, the Belgian finding Riyad Mahrez for a shot that swirled high and wide of the goal.

Real found a breakthrough against the run of play in the 60th minute, Isco slotting under Ederson off a Vinicius Junior pass between Kyle Walker and Fernandinho.

It was terribly sloppy from Nicolas Otamendi and Rodri in a turnover with poor response.

But De Bruyne darted into the box and turned a delightful chipped cross to Jesus, who outleapt a stumbling Sergio Ramosto turn a header past Courtois.

Then Dani Carvajal chopped down substitute Raheem Sterling to put De Bruyne on the spot. The Belgian had a salve for City’s recent penalty issues.

Report: Lampard holds talks with Kepa about Chelsea future

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According to tabloid reports in England, Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has had talks with Kepa Arrizabalaga about the starting goalkeeper position.

The 25-year-old was surprisingly benched in the last Premier League match against Leicester City in favor of Willy Caballero, and his performance this season has sometimes been called into question.

[ MORE: Chelsea announce deal for Hakim Ziyech ]

The Sun reports that Kepa’s chat with Lampard has him of the belief that the benching against Leicester was a “simple wake-up call” and that he will return to the lineup soon, possibly Monday against Manchester United in Premier League play.

Chelsea has kept five Premier League clean sheets this season, but just one since the start of January. Lampard utilized the winter break to discuss the situation with Kepa, who has conceded almost five more goals this season than statistically expected.

Arrizabalaga arrived at Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2018 from Athletic Bilbao, arriving to take over for Thibaut Courtois who departed for Real Madrid the same summer. His performances will have an enormous effect on Chelsea’s European fortunes next season, with the Blues sitting fourth in the Premier League table and battling with Sheffield United and Tottenham for that final Champions League spot.

Report: Chelsea want to sell Kepa

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Multiple reports claim that Kepa Arrizabalaga’s time at Chelsea could soon be up as Frank Lampard wants to offload the Spanish goalkeeper in the summer.

Kepa, 25, arrived at Chelsea in the summer of 2018 as a replacement for Thibaut Courtois who left for Real Madrid as the Blues paid Athletic Bilbao $90 million which was the release clause in his contract and it made him the most expensive goalkeeper in the world.

Lampard has criticized Kepa openly for shaky displays this season and he dropped him for the 2-2 draw at Leicester City on Saturday as Willy Caballero started.

The Daily Express claim that Lampard wants to sign Burnley and England goalkeeper Nick Pope or Crystal Palace’s Vicente Guaita to replace Kepa but other reports state the Chelsea hierarchy aren’t keen on selling Kepa this summer.

Does Kepa deserve to be dropped and then be sold?

He certainly has been hesitant for most of his first two seasons at Chelsea, struggles to command his box and Chelsea’s defensive struggles this season have been blamed on their central defenders but Kepa hasn’t received that much criticism.

Now, you hear this a lot about goalkeepers: “He’s a good shot-stopper.” Kepa is but that is his overwhelming strength and after he undermined Maurizio Sarri in the League Cup final penalty shootout last season, there’s a sense he doesn’t quite fit in at Chelsea and isn’t a fans favorite at all.

Often there are groans around Stamford Bridge when the ball is played back to Kepa during a game and he is calm with the ball at his feet but often gets defenders in front of him in trouble with short passes. Kepa is okay. He’s not a goalkeeper worth $85 million and we all knew that from the start as that was his release clause and Chelsea were forced to pay it as Courtois left.

Lampard is still upset about not being able to sign a player in January even though their transfer ban was reduced and he made two statements at Leicester on Saturday. First, he replaced Kepa with veteran goalkeeper Caballero who was at fault for Leicester’s second goal. Second, he didn’t bring on a striker to replace Tammy Abraham late in the game to highlight the fact he didn’t get the striker he wanted.

Chelsea’s main area for upgrades are in goal, at center back and up front. Their spine needs strengthening and quality over quantity is needed as Lampard has plenty of players of very similar ability.

Real Madrid defeats Atlético in penalties, wins Spanish Super Cup

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In the Spanish Super Cup final in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid played to a 0-0 draw through 120 minutes with Los Blancos winning their 11th Super Cup after coming out on top in penalties 4-1.

Captain Sergio Ramos converted the decisive penalty, earning manager Zinedine Zidane his ninth final win.

Dani Carvajal, Luka Modric and Rodrygo scored in the shootout, while Saúl Ñíguez and Thomas Partey failed to for Diego Simeone’s side.

Los Colchoneros had a clear scoring chance in the 113th minute. As Alavaro Morata paced forward with only Thibaut Courtois to beat, Real Madrid’s player of the match, Federico Valverde, executed a game-saving tackle, sending Morata to the floor. Valverde saw a red card immediately after the tactical tackle.

Atlético ‘keeper Jan Oblak and Courtois played key factors on Sunday, recording six and five saves, respectively. The routine saves throughout 120 minutes forced extra time for the fifth consecutive final between the city rivals since 2013.

The Madrid Derby wraps up the debut of the new Spanish Super Cup format. Originally a final played between the league and Cup champions, the competition was expanded to four teams by the federation.

Two years remain of a reported three-year, $133-million deal that has the competition based in Saudi Arabia.

Modric, Kroos scores classy goals in Real Madrid rout (video)

Modric and Kroos score amazing goals for Real Madrid
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Psst. You.

Yeah, you.

Do you like technique?

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Real Madrid displayed it in bunches on Wednesday, getting beautiful goals from set piece star Toni Kroos and possible future DC United midfielder Luka Modric.

Modric’s was the real prize. The one-time Ballon d’Or winner scored a beauty for Real Madrid on Wednesday to help produce a 3-1 win over Valencia in the Spanish Super Cup semifinal in Saudi Arabia.

Real led 2-0 when Modric took a pass from Luka Jovic and dribbled toward the six. The Valencia backs left a sliver between them with Modric on his right foot, but the angle didn’t bother him much.

So smooth.

Toni Kroos and Isco also scored, the latter deposited a partially blocked Modric shot.

Kroos’ marker was an Olimpico that made Valencia backstop Jaume Domenech look downright silly.

Daniel Parejo scored in stoppage time to ruin Thibaut Courtois‘ clean sheet.

Real will play the winner of Thursday’s semi between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid for Sunday’s final.