Laporta makes Messi promise, declares confidence in Koeman

Joan Laporta made clear his plans for Barcelona at the official ceremony to start his second spell as club president.Joan Laporta has promised to do everything he can to persuade Lionel Messi to stay at Barcelona, as well as offering an assurance to head coach Ronald Koeman amid speculation over his future. Laporta was officially unveiled as Barca’s new president at a ceremony on Wednesday, having seen off competition from Victor Font and Toni Freixa during an election staged on March 7. It will be his second time in the…

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Zidane hopeful on Benzema availability for blockbuster Madrid derby

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane is hopeful his leading marksman Karim Benzema will be available to return from injury in Sunday’s huge LaLiga derby against leaders Atletico Madrid. Benzema is Madrid’s top-scorer this season with 17 goals in all competitions but has missed their past three games due to an unspecified knock. The France international’s finishing touch was missed in Monday’s 1-1 draw with Real Sociedad, which leaves third-placed Los Blancos five points behind Atletico having played a game more. “We hope he can be with us, but we have…

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Zidane accepts half-time changes may have cost Real Madrid

Zinedine Zidane held his hands up and accepted his half-time tinkering may have cost Real Madrid in their 1-1 draw at home to Real Sociedad on Monday. Madrid were the more threatening of the teams in the first half at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, with Mariano Diaz hitting the crossbar from close range in a lucky escape for the visitors. But, seemingly unhappy with his team’s performance, Zidane altered his setup at the interval to go with a back three, only for Portu to ghost in at the back post…

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Pique: Barca can change season completely with second straight win against Sevilla

Gerard Pique believes Barcelona have the opportunity to turn their entire season around by knocking Sevilla out of the Copa del Rey having beaten the same side in LaLiga on Saturday. The first part of a huge double-header went Barca’s way in a 2-0 away triumph as Ousmane Dembele and Lionel Messi scored to take Ronald Koeman’s men to second. The Blaugrana are now only two points behind league leaders Atletico Madrid, albeit having played two games more, and have their confidence renewed heading into Wednesday’s home Copa semi-final second…

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Athletic Bilbao upset Real Madrid in Spanish Supercopa semis

Defending champions Real Madrid crashed out in the Spanish Supercopa semifinals with a 2-1 defeat to Athletic Bilbao on Thursday. Zinedine Zidane’s men were two goals down by the 38th minute after a Raul Garcia brace. Karim Benzema pulled a goal back in the 73rd but the Spanish champions could not complete the comeback despite Benzema having an equalising goal ruled out for offsides in the 83rd. The defeat marks Zidane’s 17th loss in 87 games managed since rejoining Real Madrid in March of 2019 — one more than he…

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