La Liga

Mesut Ozil retires at 34; World Cup winner won four FA Cups with Arsenal


Enigmatic and undeniably gifted, World Cup winner Mesut Ozil has called time on his playing career at age 34.

Ozil joined Istanbul Basaksehir last summer but appeared just seven times for the first team, totallling 142 minutes due to continued back troubles.

[ MORE: Breaking down Premier League title race ]

The 92-times capped German international is best known for his time at Arsenal and Real Madrid but came through the youth ranks at Schalke before breaking onto the international stage with Werder Bremen.

Ozil registered 54 assists across three La Liga seasons with Real Madrid, and came within one assist of Thierry Henry’s Premier League record when he set up 19 goals in the 2015-16 season.

He finished his Arsenal career with 44 goals and 79 assists in 254 appearances.

Here’s part of his announcement, from Instagram:

“I’ve had the privilege to be a professional football player for almost 17 years now and I feel incredibly thankful for the opportunity but in recent weeks and months, having also suffered some injuries, it’s become more and more clear that it’s time to leave the big stage of football.”

Ozil won the 2014 World Cup with Germany and scored in the 2010 and 2014 editions of football’s top international showcase. He claimed four FA Cups with Arsenal, the German Cup with Werder Bremen, and Copa del Rey and La Liga honors with Real.

Outspoken on social issues, Ozil was the subject of some controversy over statements denouncing Chinese internment camps and the treatment of Uyghurs in the country.


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Barcelona beats Real Madrid in wild El Clasico, go 12 points clear


Barcelona beat Real Madrid 2-1 thanks to a late Franck Kessie winner which all but secures the La Liga title for the Catalan club.

Barca now has a 12-point advantage over Real with 12 matches left to play, and the Blaugranas won the first leg of the Copa del Rey semifinal over Real just over two weeks ago too.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

Barcelona has now won four-straight matches in all competitions and Xavi’s men have only allowed nine goals in La Liga this season, as Jules Kounde, Andreas Christensen, and teenage left back Alex Balde have been very good with Sergi Roberto scoring a beauty of an equalizer after a Ronald Araujo own goal had put Real ahead early on Sunday.

As for Real, they thought Marco Asensio had won it late on but VAR chalked his goal off for offside before Kessie became the hero.

Below are the Barcelona vs Real Madrid video highlights. 

How to watch Barcelona vs Real Madrid live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 4pm ET, Sunday
Stats: Via scoreboard on
Online: Stream via ESPN+

Then Franck Kessie popped up with a last-minute winner to send the Nou Camp wild.

Real thought they had regained the lead in the final 10 minutes but Marco Asensio’s goal was ruled out for a very slight offside by VAR.

Barcelona equalized through Sergi Roberto.


Real Madrid go 1-0 up early. Ronald Araujo with an own goal.

Barcelona team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Pedri (muscular)

Real Madrid team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: David Alaba (hamstring), Ferland Mendy (muscular)

Real Madrid vs Liverpool, live! Score, updates, how to watch, videos


Can Liverpool (again) make one of the biggest comebacks in UEFA Champions League history (again) against a La Liga power (again)?

Liverpool heads to the Bernabeu hoping to get the better of a Real Madrid that hung an ugly 5-2 on them at Anfield.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

The Reds have been up-and-down this season and are coming off another down: a 1-0 loss to Bournemouth described by our Joe Prince-Wright as “entitled.”

Real went on a three-match winless run after the Liverpool blowout, but the competition was very good: a draw in the Madrid derby, loss to Barcelona in the Copa del Rey semifinal first leg, and draw at Betis in league play. Madrid beat Espanyol 3-1 on Saturday.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Real Madrid vs Liverpool.

How to watch Real Madrid vs Liverpool live, stream link and start time

Kickoff: 4pm ET Thursday
: Via scoreboard on
Online: Live Watchalong and updates from ProSoccerTalk on NBCSports’ YouTube
How to watchTUDN, Paramount+

Key storylines & star players

Madrid overcame an early Joselu goal to beat Espanyol as Vinicius Jr, Eder Militao, and Marco Asensio all scored in the win. Toni Kroos is still looking ageless as he enters his mid-30s, and would be a guaranteed big part of this one… if we knew for sure Carlo Ancelotti wouldn’t be rotating with the Clasico Copa del Rey second leg coming up soon.

Who knows with Liverpool? Three players scored braces in the 7-0 beatdown of Manchester United and the same basic group was summarily silenced by Bournemouth. Klopp played young Harvey Elliott and Stefan Bajcetic with Fabinho in the midfield against Bournemouth. Klopp may opt to put Jordan Henderson back in for Bajcetic or even James Milner but either way can they hang with three of Kroos, Luka Modric, Eduardo Camavinga, and Fede Valverde?

Real Madrid team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: David Alaba (hamstring), Ferland Mendy (muscular)

Liverpool team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Naby Keita (muscular). OUT: Calvin Ramsay (knee), Thiago Alcantara (groin), Luis Diaz (knee), Joe Gomez (other)

Manchester United clobbers Betis as Bruno leads bounce back


Manchester United smashed Real Betis 4-1 on Thursday in a surprising and lopsided Europa League Round of 16 first leg at Old Trafford.

Bruno Fernandes had a goal and an assist as United issued a resounding response to their 7-0 loss to Liverpool at the weekend, the Red Devils also getting goals from Marcus Rashford, Antony, and Wout Weghorst.

[ MORE: Europa League scores, stats, more ]

Betis is fifth in La Liga and feeling good after a scoreless draw with Real Madrid at the weekend, and Ayoze Perez’s 32nd-minute equalizer had the Spaniards poised for a big second half that did not materialize for the visitors.

The club last won a trophy with the 2021-22 Copa del Rey, and would be thrilled to add a continental crown to its trophy case.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

Manchester United vs Real Betis player ratings: Stars of the Show

Bruno Fernandes: The people who scapegoated Bruno for Sunday will be singing his praises four days later; Goal, assist, five chances created, and eight recoveries in a feisty display.

Wout Weghorst: Deservedly got a goal at the end of what was easily his best shift in a Red Devils shirt.

Juanmi: Veteran winger got the job done but wasn’t helped along by teammates.

Marcus Rashford: Wasn’t his best overall performance by any stretch, but him scoring the opener set the table for United’s bounce back blowout win.

Manchester United vs Real Betis player ratings

Marcus Rashford goal video: Forward smashes Red Devils in front

Ayoze Perez goal video: Former Newcastle, Leicester man evens the score

Antony goal video: Ajax import puts Red Devils back on top

Bruno Fernandes goal video: Portuguese thuds header home for 3-1

Wout Weghorst goal video: And the Wout rout is on

How to watch Manchester United vs Real Betis live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 3pm ET Thursday
TV Channel/Stream: Paramount Plus
Updates: Via

Key storylines & star players

All of Manchester United’s players will be watched for their response to the brutal loss at Anfield, and the potential absence of Casemiro looms large. Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes will be keys to success.

Betis is living life without Nabil Fekir, and looking hard in the direction of 10-goal man Borja Iglesias, who leads the club in both goals and assists in La Liga play. Brazilian playmaker Luis Henrique remains one to watch, too, as the 22-year-old continues to adjust to the level after coming up through the ranks at Fluminese.

Manchester United team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Donny van de Beek (knee), Christian Eriksen (ankle), Anthony Martial (groin), Mason Greenwood (investigation)

Real Betis team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Nabik Fekir (ACL), Martin Montoya (undisclosed)

Barcelona wins first leg of Copa del Rey El Clasico semi over Real Madrid


Barcelona bounced out back from a bad week in the best way, handing El Clasico rivals Real Madrid their first home loss in nearly a year to take a 1-0 first leg advantage in the Copa del Rey semifinals.

Real had not lost at the Bernabeu since falling 3-2 to Chelsea in the Champions League quarterfinal second leg, and even that “loss” ended with Real moving onto the next round given the 3-1 win in a London-based first leg.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

Barcelona was bounced out of the UEFA Europa League by Manchester United last week and then fell to La Liga’s 15th-place side, Almeria, on Sunday. But an Eder Militao own goal prodded by one Franck Kessie was all Barca needed to take an advantage to Bernabeu on April 5.

Osasuna leads Athletic Bilbao 1-0 after a home win in their first leg.

Carlo Ancelotti saw his side dismantle Liverpool 5-2 at Anfield in the Champions League last week and they battled back to draw at home against 10-man Atletico Madrid in La Liga over the weekend. Real beat Barcelona 3-1 in the La Liga meeting between the two teams earlier this season but they currently sit seven points behind league leaders Barcelona.

Here’s everything you need for the first leg of the Copa del Rey semifinal at the Santiago Bernabeu, with the second leg taking place at the Camp Nou on Wednesday, Apr. 5.

Real Madrid vs Barcelona player ratings: Stars of the Show

Antonio Rudiger: The former Chelsea man was very, very good.

Sergio Busquets: The midfielders in this match were either classy in-form or in legendary status, but the ageless Spaniard added another fine Clasico to his resume.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen: The ballplaying goalkeeper required by Barcelona’s reputation.

Jules Kounde: Barely put a foot wrong when he had the ball, including 11 clearances.

Franck Kessie: The tie might be over if he brought his finishing boots, though it’s worth noting the own goal he forced likely is a “big chance missed.”

Real Madrid vs Barcelona player ratings

Real Madrid vs Barcelona video highlights: Franck Kessie prods Real own goal

How to watch Real Madrid vs Barcelona live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 3pm ET, Thursday (March 2)
Updates: Stats and analysis via
Online: Stream via ESPN+

Key storylines & in-form players to watch

Veteran Luka Modric continues to defy logic with his displays in midfield, while Vinicius Jr and Karim Benzema have been in fine form in attack. Fede Valverde and Eduardo Camavinga have been superb in recent weeks too. Defensively Real are short of options but Nacho has filled in admirably at full back.

Barcelona continue to chop and change their team but they will be without top scorer Robert Lewandowski through injury for this clash. Gavi and Pedri are essential to how they play under Xavi but the latter is missing, which is a big blow too. A special shoutout to goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen as Barcelona’s defense has allowed just eight goals in 23 La Liga games so far this season. Eight.

Real Madrid team news, injuries, lineup options

Ferland Mendy is still out, while David Alaba injured his hamstring against Liverpool and won’t return until early April. Rodrygo is a doubt after a hip injury.

Barcelona team news, injuries, lineup options

Xavi is without a trio of key players as Robert Lewandowski, Pedri and Ousmane Dembele are all out. Ansu Fati is also a doubt so there’s a lot of pressure on Raphinha and Ferran Torres in attack.