Sergio Ramos

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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.

Champions League preview: Real Madrid renews rivalry with Pep; Lyon hosts Juve

UEFA Champions League preview
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The final two ties of the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16 begin Wednesday when Manchester City and Juventus head to Spain and France.

The focus for many will be on the former, as City continues to weather UEFA drama while its manager prepares for his fiercest foe as a player and manager.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Pep Guardiola has managed against Real Madrid 17 times and boasts a 9-4-4 record between Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

The Catalan wizard has lost his last three versus Real, two with Bayern and once in his final El Clasico as Barca boss.

Even as Guardiola stresses preparation and plan, he knows there will be bounces and that both teams will have to cope with them.

“We have to be strong, have quality and need to have luck,” he said, via The Manchester Evening News. “At this stage, it’s important but we cannot control that. We can control what we can control and we will see. This competition, last season, against Liverpool, there are decisions. You have to overcome. You need incredible concentration in our game and game plan plus try to be a little lucky.”

Real Madrid living legend Sergio Ramos has earned the ire of Guardiola on plenty of occasions, one of the few things Liverpool and City fans have in common.

Ramos wouldn’t get drawn into rivalry talk, sying the stage somewhat negates the opponent.

“I have a lot of respect for him,” Ramos said via the club’s web site. “I think he’s a fantastic coach, with loads of experience, and his numbers speak for themselves. We’re motivated by the Champions League, regardless of the players or coaches who may have been rivals in the past. We’re up for the Champions League and our next task is to beat City. From a personal point of view, I’m just focused on making the next round.”

[ MORE: Key battles for Real-Man City ]

Wednesday’s other match sees a club long linked with Guardiola, as Juventus will play the role of heavy favorites against Lyon.

Maurizio Sarri‘s side is to bidding to win what’s eluded all Juve bosses since Marcello Lippi beat Ajax in 1996. If they succeed, it will be by going down a different path than it’s traveled in recent years.

Here’s Leonardo Bonucci, via Football-Italia:

“What the coach asks of us now is basically the opposite of what the previous coach did,” Bonucci mused. “It was usually individual against individual, now it’s more about organized team movements. Obviously, you need to train consistently to get that down and playing every three days makes it difficult. But we started this journey well aware of the positives it could bring and the difficulties of getting there.”

Lyon has been maddeningly inconsistent this season, sitting seventh in the Ligue 1 table, but has the tools to surprise if Juve doesn’t bring its best. That starts in France on Wednesday.

La Liga Roundup: Modric, Benzema guide Real Madrid past Real Sociedad (video)

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Real Madrid’s comeback victory over in-form Real Sociedad highlights La Liga’s Saturday action.

[ FOLLOW: PST’s La Liga coverage ]

Real Madrid 3-1 Real Sociedad

With Barcelona edging Leganes, Real Madrid manages to remain level in points with the league’s leaders following a win of their own over visiting Real Sociedad.

Federico Valverde and Luka Modric scored in the second half for Los Blancos, extend their winning streak to two games. Throughout 13 games, only a goal separates Zinedine Zidane and company from arch rivals Barcelona, with both teams sitting at 28 points apiece.

Two minutes in, the game had a completely different feeling.

A faulty back pass from captian Sergio Ramos to Thibaut Courtois was intercepted by Brazilian forward William Jose, who made no mistake in taking advantage of the gift placed in front of him by

In the 28th minute, following some mesmerizingly quick faints inside the penalty box, Correa laid it off to Saul, who spun around the Belgian goalkeeper, and, subsequently, finished with poise in front of goal. The team that has surprised many this season was off to a fitting, yet dreamy start at the Bernabeu.

If there has been a player that has bailed Madrid out of undesired situations this season, it’s been Karim Benzema.

As La Liga’s top scorer that he is, the Frenchman’s high-yielding goal scoring capabilities gave the home side reasons to believe that not all wast lost. Crashing into the box, the 31-year-old chested Modric’s whipping cross into the goal’s lower corner, leveling the score and influencing the goals that were to come for Real Madrid in the second half.

A quick turnaround for Real Madrid as they host PSG in Champions League midweek, while Real Sociedad look to get back into the shape that has guided them into the top five when they host Alaves.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Leganes 1-2 Barcelona

Real Betis 2-1 Valencia

Granada 1-1 Atletico Madrid

Marcelo: I was ‘sobbing’ during Champions League match v. Liverpool

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The quality, quantity, and depth of first person narratives from the world of football, especially since the advent of the player-penned Players’ Tribune, engineers a risk of overlooking the incredible stories of footballers’ experience reaching the heights of their careers.

[ MORE: Berhalter calls up 20 ]

But Marcelo’s story on Thursday cannot be overlooked. Detailing his individual Champions League Final experiences and recounting his move from Brazil to Spain, the veteran fullback writes with so much candor (and plenty of profanity) that’s difficult not to feel his spirit soar over the Bernabeu.

The 31-year-old arrived at Real Madrid from Fluminese in 2006, and has gone on to amass six FIFA Best XI appearances and four UCL titles with the club. He’s also described a pre-final panic attack and admitted that Cristiano Ronaldo was also nervous ahead of a final (We’re sure CR7 is extremely please to know of that revelation).

Perhaps the best part aside from warm memories of his grandfather, was this very human moment from the Real’s 3-1 defeat of Liverpool in the 2018 final. From The Players’ Tribune:

“With about 10 minutes left, we were winning 3–1, and it really hit me that we were going to be champions.

“The ball went out of play for a throw-in, and I had a moment to think, and.…

“Brother, this is true: I started crying. I was sobbing, right on the pitch. Nothing like this had ever happened to me before.”

We just love this deep looks, or at least quality glimpses, into the minds of athletes and Marcelo seems like a riot (even if he had no business being in the FIFA Best XI this year, but we digress).

Sergio Ramos “wouldn’t say no” to Olympics if Spain asks

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Sergio Ramos is an animal.

The Real Madrid center back has won just about everything there is to win, but is eyeing a gold medal should he be asked to participate in this summer’s Olympics.

[ MORE: Neymar injured again ]

Olympic squads can have three players above the age of 23. Spain last qualified in 2012, when Javi Martinez, Juan Mata, and Adrian Lopez were its overage players.

Spain is one of six nations to have qualified for the Games, joining France, Romania, Germany, New Zealand, and hosts Japan. From AS.com:

“It’s a bit soon to talk about the Olympic Games, but if someone was to call me, I wouldn’t say no,” he said. “It’s something you can’t reject. There is a lot of time left in the season and it’s a really nice idea.”

Ramos will be 34 when the Olympics begin, and is now the most-capped player in Spain history. Remarkably, reports say he believes he’ll time and spirit for both the Olympics and EURO 2020.

EURO runs from June 12-July 12, when the Olympics beginning July 23.

Ramos is now 16 caps from the all-time record for caps, held by Ahmed Hassan (Egypt).