Girona

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City Football Group strikes rich new uniform deal

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Manchester City is going to look different next season.

No, the reigning Premier League champions did not announce that Pep Guardiola is not leaving, nor did they say Kevin De Bruyne or Sergio Aguero would be sold in the summer.

[ MORE: Man City 1-0 West Ham ]

But City Football Group has announced a reported $863 million deal with clothing outfitter Puma which will cover many of its clubs, headlined by Man City and including Melbourne City FC (Australia), Girona FC (La Liga), Club Atlético Torque (Uruguay) and Sichuan Jiuniu FC (China).

City Football Group CEO Ferran Soriano says the deal “will reset the model for sports partnerships on a truly global scale.”

Notably the deal does not include New York City FC, who has a league-wide uniform deal through Major League Soccer.

Adidas signed a 10-year, $1.3 billion deal with Manchester United in 2014, so City does have some way to go to compete with the Red Devils in that area of revenue.

Real Madrid stunned, beaten at home by Girona

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Just when Real Madrid looked to have turned their topsy-turvy season around, they lost at home to minnows Girona on Sunday.

[ MORE: La Liga scores, schedule

Santiago Solari’s men had won five La Liga games on the spin heading into their clash against relegation battling Girona and the defeat was compounded by the 25th red card of Sergio Ramos’ career.

A few days after they won 2-1 at Ajax in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last 16 clash, things were set up rather nicely ahead of two upcoming El Clasico games in the Spanish league and cup in the next two weeks.

Yep. Scratch that.

Casemiro gave Real a first half lead but Girona deservedly fought back with 25 minutes to go as Christian Stuani first levelled from the penalty spot and then Cristian Portu scored the winner with 15 minutes to go.

Real had Ramos sent off (I know, tough to believe…) in stoppage time — he picked up a second yellow after initially being cautioned for a handball on Girona’s penalty — to compound a miserable outing in front of their angry home fans.

The defeat leaves Real in third place in the La Liga table and they are now nine points off Barcelona who sit atop the table, and two points behind second-place Atletico Madrid.

Girona shocks Atletico Madrid behind stunning goals

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Co-owned by Pep Guardiola and the City Football Group, Girona isn’t your average minnow. However, what Girona did on Wednesday is worthy of a closer look.

Girona came back from a goal down on two occasions, eventually scoring on a breath-taking counter attack in the 88th minute to advance past Atletico Madrid, 4-4 on away goals at the Wanda Metropolitano. With the draw, Girona advances to the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey, the farthest it has ever gone so far in the competition.

[READ: Berhalter announces USMNT staff]

Nikola Kalinic put the hosts up 1-0 early, but that was before Valery Fernandez, who made his first-team debut in La Liga just last month, became a household name around Spain and the talk of the internet. Fernandez touch a touch on a cross into the box with his chest and then on the volley, rifled a goal past Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Antonio Adan.

Cristhian Stuani and Angel Correa traded goals, before Antoine Griezmann put Atleti back in front with a goal in the 84th minute.

But four minutes later, a turnover in midfield led to a break for Girona, where veteran forward Seydou Doumbia re-directed a shot from Borja Garcia in to give Girona the result it needed.

Barcelona pulls out of league game in US; La Liga scraps plan

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MADRID (AP) La Liga has given up on its plan to play a regular-season match in the United States next month because Barcelona backed down from its commitment.

The Catalan club said on Monday it did not intend to play the game against Girona near Miami because there was no consensus among all stakeholders.

The club’s board of directors said Barcelona remained behind the idea of the game aboard, but the “project will not prosper until there is an agreement between all parties.”

“From the beginning we have said that participation in the game abroad is voluntary,” the league said in a statement. “If FC Barcelona wishes not to attend, the game scheduled in Miami can’t be staged on the agreed date.”

The Spanish league last month took legal action against the country’s soccer federation in an effort to get approval for the Jan. 26 match at Hard Rock Stadium. A court decision was expected as early as Thursday.

“La Liga will continue the planned action so an official league game can be played outside of Spain,” the league said. “La Liga is convinced that (the federation) is not acting in accordance with the law.”

The league needs approval from the federation to be able to play abroad. The federation was yet to approve or deny the league’s request, having raised concerns that the overseas game would not comply with Spanish and international regulations and TV broadcast contracts. It also said the overseas match could harm the other 18 league clubs.

Barcelona said in its statement it “accepted that income from the game would be shared” among all first-division and second-division clubs following the criteria for television rights money distribution.

The league offered several compensation plans for fans of Girona, which would be relinquishing a home match.

Other stakeholders, including UEFA and CONCACAF, also needed to approve the match. The FIFA council recently opposed the idea, although its permission for the match was not mandatory.

Staging the game in the United States is seen as an important step for the Spanish league to continue expanding internationally and to close the gap on the powerful English Premier League. The Spanish league has a 15-year deal with sports and entertainment group Relevent to promote soccer and take games to the United States.

“We regret to disappoint our fans in the U.S. and will work to, in the shortest possible time, stage an official La Liga game in the U.S., just like the major American leagues (NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL) stage games outside their borders.”

The league last month launched a campaign to showcase the public support from American fans, asking them to sign an online petition in favor of the game.

Report: Steffen passes Man City medical; Loan likely

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American goalkeeper Zack Steffen is indeed off to Manchester City, though not for long.

Goal.com reports that the 23-year-old USMNT backstop has passed his medical and signed a contract ahead of January move from Columbus which will earn the Crew between $7.5 and 10 million when all is said and done.

[ MORE: Risk worth it for Steffen ]

The report says Steffen is not likely to be approved for a UK work permit. Should that happen, Girona in La Liga and Nice in Ligue 1 are named as loan options. Paul Tenorio of The Athletic says a loan back to Columbus is also possible.

Canada-born Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, 27, is the entrenched starter at Girona, though (complete speculation here) perhaps this could be a loan swap to get Man City an upgrade at back-up to Ederson (again, assuming Steffen is denied a UK work permit). The same could be true for Walter Benitez at Nice, who is managed by long-time NYCFC boss Patrick Vieira.

Steffen is expected to rival Club Brugge goalkeeper Ethan Horvath for the USMNT’s No. 1 shirt, with many perceiving the Crew man to have a leg up due to his relationship with longtime Columbus and new USMNT boss Gregg Berhalter.