Monday, August 3, 2015

Benitez stays unbeaten while Barça lose again

SPAIN'S BIG TWO SHOW CONTRASTING PRE-SEASON FORM

The Spanish Week in Review

* Cristiano Ronaldo picked up a back strain and will sit out Real Madrid's clash with Tottenham in Munich this week. Karim Benzema has a thigh strain and also misses out.

Real Madrid drew 0:0 with Milan in Shanghai before edging the Rossoneri 10-9 on penalties.
RM - Navas, Pepe, Arbeloa, Danilo, Varane, Modric, Bale, Casemiro, Ronaldo, Benzema, Vasquez
2nd half subs: Ramos, Kroos, Casilla, Jese, Isco, Nacho, Rodriguez, Marcelo, Carvajal, Cheryshev.

* After losing 3-1 to Man Utd in California, Barcelona travelled to Maryland where they drew 2:2 with Chelsea before losing a shoot-out 4-2.

Eden Hazard waltzed through the red and yellow shirts to hand the Blues the lead in the tenth minute before Luis Suarez and Sandro Ramirez put Luis Enrique's side ahead after the break. Gary Cahill equalised with five minutes to go. Enrique made eleven substitutions.

Starting lineup: Ter Stegen, Mathieu, Correia, Perreira, Bartra, Rakitic, Busquets, Gumbau, L.Suarez, Ramirez, Munir. Subs used: Roberto, Pique, Vermaelen, Iniesta, Alba, Masip, Rafinha, Samper, Pedro, Halilovic, J.Suarez

Barcelona then lost 2-1 away to Fiorentina with a sleepy, half-hearted defence giving two goals away before Luis Suarez pulled one back from an Ivan Rakitic chip. Two defeats and a draw in three pre-season games does not scream champions of Europe, but all will soon be forgotten as the season gets underway.

BAR - Ter Stegen (Masip 78'), Vermaelen, Pique, Alba, Iniesta (Munir 46'), Rakitic (Bartra 64'), Busquets, Roberto, Rafinha (Gumbau 78'), Suarez (Ramirez 64'), Pedro.




* Rayo Vallecano, on tour in China, revealed Zhang Chendong, 26 year-old Chinese international stirker, as a new signing. It can only be a matter of time before the first Chinese takes the field in La Primera.

FRIENDLY RESULTS

Barcelona 2:2 Chelsea
Real Madrid 0:0 Milan
Fiorentina 2:1 Barcelona
Derby 1:1 Villareal
Bayer Leverkusen 4:0 Levante
Rayo Vallecano 1:0 Real Sociedad
Granada 2:0 Albacete
Avellino 0:0 Espanyol
Huddersfield Town 0:0 Deportivo La Coruna
Mirandes 0:0 Eibar
Middlesboro 1:0 Getafe
Koln 3:2 Valencia
Darmstadt 3:1 Real Betis
Reading 0:0 Espanyol
Watford 0:1 Sevilla
Nastic 2:2 Real Zaragoza
Fleetwood Town 2:0 Getafe
San Lorenzo 0:0 Malaga
Mensajero 0:5 Las Palmas
Osasuna 1:0 Eibar

TRANSFER RUMOURS

* Javier Mascherano was a new name on the rumour mill this week with Juventus said to be keen to purchase the Argentine veteran from Barcelona after selling Arturo Vidal to Bayern Munich and seeing new signing Sami Khedira get injured.

* Pedro to Man Utd looked closer this week after the player's mother let slip he was on his way to England, Angel Di Maria moved closer to an Old Trafford exit and the English club sent a representative to Barcelona to negotiate. He has a €30 milllion release clause.

Pedro could slot in easily as a wide attacker for Man Utd and like Isco at Real Madrid, impresses when playing for Spain so much you wonder why he is not given more starts at club level.

The problem for the 28 year-old is that the blaugrana can only start with the Messi-Neymar-Suarez trident ahead of him, which limits him to being an impact sub, but as well as the desire for first-team football, there is Euro 2016 and Spain to think about. A move makes sense for the player.

* Villareal are expected to tie up the signing of striker Roberto Soldado from Tottenham this week. €16 million has been floated as a fee.

* West Ham are looking at Atletico Madrid's Mexican striker Raul Jimenez.

* Liverpool are in negotiations to sign Barcelona B's Spanish-born Malian winger Adama Traore, 19. Traore has ten caps for Spain's U-19 side and one for Barça's first team. Everton, Southampton and Stoke are also said to be interested.

* Arsenal are lining up a €65 million offer for Karim Benzema, according to reports. If the Frenchman leaves Madrid for London, Real will go for one of Alvaro Morata, Fernando Llorente (both Juventus), Sergio Aguero (Man City) or promote Real youngster Borja Mayoral.

That said, Arsene Wenger denied he was after the Real striker when questioned at the Community Shield and Rafael Benitez said he saw no reason why Benzema should leave.

* Louis Van Gaal has asked Man Utd to try again to take Gareth Bale back to Britain according to the Sunday Express, with a figure of 122 million being bandied about.

Van Gaal also admitted David De Gea might want to leave Old Trafford, which fanned the rumour flames no end, but Angel Di Maria's imminent move to PSG could mean the Red Devils are in no rush to sell for another cash windfall.

A number of Spanish voices are wondering out loud now if Real need De Gea given Keylor Navas is an international goalkeeper and new boy Kika Casilla has impressed since moving from Porto.

The money in the English game means the flow of Spaniards is unlikely to stop any time soon. 33 Spaniards are now on the books of Premier League clubs and 17 in the Championship.

Transfers to English clubs might be affected by the Premier League season beginning in a week, while La Liga resumes on Friday the 21st of August when Sevilla visit Malaga. The rest of the first round of Spanish matches are on the Saturday and Sunday.

The transfer window of course closes at the end of August.

* Sergio Ramos however, seems a dead story now Real boss Florentino Perez agreed to renew his contract until 2020 along with that of fellow defender Rafael Varane. Pen should be put to paper this week.

* Arsenal would like to buy Sergio Busquets from Barcelona but Real Madrid's Asier Illarramendi has reportedly turned down Liverpool's advances and will instead fight for first-team football at Real Madrid.

* Pepe has not renewed his contract at the Bernabeu, sparking transfer rumours as his current deal has only one season left.

* Lyon are angling to buy Malaga midfielder Sergei Darder for around €10 million.

* Real Madrid were said to have had a €26 million bid for Argentine midfielder Lucas Biglia rejected this week.

* Newly promoted Las Palmas have signed Everton's Paraguayan centre-back Antolin Alvaraz.

* The Italian press rated Sevilla as favourites to land Fernando Llorente, but no deal is expected until close to transfer deadline day.

BIGGEST LA LIGA TRANSFERS THIS SUMMER

1. Jackson Martinez €35 million - Atletico Madrid from Porto
2. Arda Turan €34 million - Barcelona from Atletico Madrid
3. Alvaro Negredo €32 million - Valencia from Manchester City
4. Danilo €31.5 million - Real Madrid from Porto
5. Rodrigo €30 million - Valencia from Benfica
6. Aleix Vidal €22 million - Barcelona from Sevilla
7. Luciano Vietto €20 million - Atletico Madrid from Sevilla
8. Filipe Luis €16 million - Atletico Madrid from Chelsea
9. Carrasco €15 million - Atletico Madrid from Monaco
Andre Gomes €15 million - Valencia from Benfica
Joao Cancela €15 million - Valencia from Benfica

FRIENDLY FIXTURES

Tue 4th Aug   Real Madrid v Tottenham (Munich), Shanghai Sipg v Atletico Madrid
Wed 5th Aug  Barcelona v Roma, Ponferradina v Sporting Gijon, Leganes v Rayo Vallecano, Real Oviedo v Deportivo La Coruna
Thu 6th Aug   Villareal v Levante
Fri 7th Aug    Recreativo Huelva v Real Betis
Sat 8th Aug    Inter v Athletic Bilbao, AEK Athens v Sevilla, Valencia v Roma, Rayo Vallecano v Real Oviedo, Atletico Madrid v Real Sociedad, Deportivo La Coruna v Sporting Braga, Albacete v Getafe, Sporting Gijon v Palermo
Sun 9th Aug   Valerenga v Real Madrid, Sassuolo v Villareal, Real Betis v Espanyol, Almeria v Las Palmas

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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