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Messi scores 50th Copa del Rey goal as Barca advances

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Nearly every time Barcelona shows a bit of vulnerability, it beats the very notion back in a big way.

It was no different Wednesday, when the Blaugranas responded to a second successive first leg deficit in the Copa Del Rey by clobbering Sevilla 6-1.

Yes, that Sevilla. La Liga’s regular Top Four challengers, the ones who shut out Barca in the first leg and have allowed just 14 goals in 21 league matches.

[ RECAP: Liverpool 1-1 Leicester ]

Down 2-0 after one leg in Seville, Barca piledrove the visitors at the Camp Nou in the home leg. After Ever Banega saw a first half penalty kick saved by Jesper Cillesen, denying Sevilla an equalizer, Barca broke loose.

Lionel Messi was again the catalyst. In the Round of 16, he sat out the first leg against Levante and recorded a goal and an assist in the second leg.

This time, he again returned after sitting out the first leg. Messi drew the penalty that led to Philippe Coutinho‘s opener, set up Sergi Roberto for the goal that made it 4-0, then capped off the scoring in stoppage time.

It was his 50th goal in the tournament, breaking a tie for fifth all-time with legendary Ferenc Puskas. He needs 31 to catch Telmo Zarra’s improbable record set in 1957.

Coutinho scored twice, Luis Suarez had a goal and an assist, and Jordi Alba recorded two assists. Arthur assisted a goal by Ivan Rakitic.

Transfer rumor roundup: Rakitic to Chelsea; Fellaini set for China

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Make sure to tune-in for our special Transfer Deadline Day show on NBCSN on Thursday, Jan. 31 from 5 p.m. ET as we focus on all of the moves across the Premier League in the January window. You can stream the show live online right here.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Sunday | Saturday ]

With one former Barcelona midfielder, Cesc Fabregas, having left the club this month, Chelsea are reportedly plotting a move to acquire another playmaker from the defending La Liga champions: Ivan Rakitic. According to Spanish outlet Sport, the Blues will wait until the summer to bid for the 30-year-old Croatian, but he is said to rank very high on manager Maurizio Sarri‘s wish list. Rakitic’s place in the team could be in doubt next season with the arrival of Ajax wonderkid Frenkie de Jong in the summer.


Manchester City have a left back problem-ish, with Benjamin Mendy having suffered two knee injuries in his two seasons at the club and central midfielder-by-trade Fabian Delph proving less effective in season no. 2 as the deputy left back. Thus, the defending Premier League champions are said to be in the hunt for Leicester City’s Ben Chilwell. The 22-year-old has been a consistent figure in the Leicester team since graduating from the club’s academy in 2017. He would also satisfy the requirements for English-trained players in the squad, with Man City presently a bit short on domestic products.


Marouane Fellaini could very well have played his final game for Manchester United as an unnamed Chinese club is said to be deep into negotiations with the player and club over a January move for the 31-year-old Belgian midfielder. Fellaini’s signed a two-year contract extension last summer, meaning he has 18 months left on his current deal. The Chinese transfer window will remain open until the end of February, leaving ample time to complete a deal.


Arsenal boss Unai Emery confirmed on Tuesday that the club is “looking at two different players and the possibility they can come,” but the Spaniard refused to confirm whether or not midfielders Ivan Perisic (Inter Milan) and Denis Suarez (Barcelona) were the players under consideration following reports of the Gunners’ interest on Monday.

  • Yet another young prospect is set to leave Man City without ever having played for the club. Rabbi Matondo joined from Cardiff City, for $650,000, in 2016, and the 18-year-old Welshman is now expected to move to Bundesliga side Schalke for nearly $14 million.
  • Jonathan Castro Otto, currently on loan to Wolverhampton Wanderers, will see his loan from Atletico Madrid become a permanent transfer in the coming days as Wolves are expected to pay the previously agreed fee of nearly $24 million for the 24-year-old Spanish full back.
  • While Mauricio Pochettino is likely desperate to bring in a player or two to strengthen his injury-ravaged Tottenham Hotspur squad, those dreams are greatly outweighed by chairman Daniel Levy’s desire to shed forward Vincent Janssen‘s contract with the Dutch forward failing to make an appearance at the club in nearly 18 months. Burnley are reportedly considering a move for the 24-year-old.

Coutinho, Messi too much for shorthanded Spurs

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  • Coutinho strikes early
  • Rakitic makes it 2-0 with worldie
  • Messi bags brace
  • Kane, Lamela score for Spurs

Philippe Coutinho, Ivan Rakitic, and Lionel Messi all scored wonderful goals as Barcelona outclassed injury-hit Tottenham Hotspur 4-2 at Wembley Stadium in UEFA Champions League action on Wednesday.

Messi scored a second goal for Barca, bagging a 90th minute point-blank finish.

Harry Kane and Erik Lamela scored for Spurs, who were without Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, and Jan Vertonghen.

Barca goes to six points through two matches, while Spurs have zero.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

It took less than a minute-and-a-half for Barca to welcome Hugo Lloris back to the Spurs side, with the goalkeeper’s aggressive pursuit of Jordi Alba allowing the left back to find Coutinho with a cutback. The ex-Liverpool man scored from 18 yards.

Harry Kane forced Marc Andre ter Stegen into a 25th minute save when Spurs got their first strong effort on target.

But Rakitic put the game firmly in Barcelona’s camp with an exquisite piece of technique. Lionel Messi’s cross was chested down to Coutinho, whose blocked shot had the Brazilian scrambling to pass it back atop the 18. Rakitic leapt to volley the ball off the near post and into the goal. Beautiful.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Spurs would’ve been grateful to get to the dressing room at half, and Messi underscored that by hitting the post for a second time once action resumed at Wembley.

Kane cooked Nelson Semedo with a 52nd minute cutback before curling around Ter Stegen to make it 2-1.

The enthusiasm was short-lived, because Messi did not hit the post with his next effort. The living Argentine legend started and finished a pretty play in the 56th minute, using a Luis Suarez dummy to line up a cute finish across goal.

It was 3-2 when Erik Lamela’s left-footed strike took a turn off Clement Lenglet to fool a diving Ter Stegen.

VIDEO: Barcelona’s Rakitic scores incredible volley

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Ivan Rakitic may never strike a volley sweeter than this again.

Scratch that. It is quite possible that nobody will ever strike a volley as sweetly as this ever again.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

The Croatian midfielder smashed home a stunning effort off the post to put Barcelona 2-0 up at Wembley against Tottenham on Wednesday. The technique was amazing with both feet off the ground as he hit it.

Take a look at the video below to see Rakitic score one of the most memorable volleys in recent history. What a strike.


Top three battles in 2018 World Cup Final

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The World Cup Final is Sunday, and there are three areas which could tip the scales in favor of a Croatian upset or an expected French title.

[ MORE: PST’s World Cup roundtable ]

Kante and Pogba vs. Modric, Rakitic, Brozovic

Yes, Antoine Griezmann is a midfielder, but he’s a fourth forward if N'Golo Kante and Paul Pogba are at their very best. Croatia’s midfield triangle has been responsible for much of its World Cup success, and will need to keep that up if it hopes to collect an upset.

Mandzukic renews acquaintances with La Liga CBs…

Two goals in the Champions League semifinals against Real Madrid, one the year before in the final, and an assist in that UCL run-up versus Barcelona.

So, yes, Real’s Raphael Varane and Barca’s Samuel Umtiti have tangled with him a time or two. And the big Croatian striker Mandzukic really seems to be rounding into form.

…And Giroud versus Lovren and Co.

Olivier Giroud has yet to score in the tournament, but sleeping on his industrious performance up top is a mistake. Dejan Lovren has branded himself “one of the best defenders in the world” based on this tournament and his Champions League run with Liverpool.

If France needs to whip crosses toward Giroud, we’d expect things could look a bit like the below highlight reel. Check around the 1:00 mark of this video: