Barcelona 0-0 Atletico commentary

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Barcelona
vs Atletico Madrid. Spanish La Liga.

Camp Nou.

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Barca, Atletico stalemate hands Real La Liga title advantage

Barcelona and Atletico Madrid played out a tense goalless draw at the Camp Nou that suits neither side, handing the advantage to Real Madrid in an engrossing La Liga title race.

With very little to separate the two sides, Atletico came closest to finding the net during the opening period as Luis Suarez – on his return to his former club – was denied from close range.

Ousmane Dembele missed a glorious chance when he headed wide at the far post as Barcelona took control of the second period before Lionel Messi’s free-kick veered inches wide.

The result means Atletico remain in top spot on 77 points, with Barcelona leapfrogging Real Madrid into second place on 75 points. Real – on 74 points – can move top if they beat Sevilla on Sunday by virtue of their superior head-to-head record with Atletico.

Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi embrace ahead of kick-off
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Luis Suarez and Messi embrace ahead of kick-off

Player ratings

Barcelona: Ter Stegen (8), Dest (7), Pique (7), Lenglet (7), Mingueza (6), Alba (6), De Jong (6), Busquets (n/a), Pedri (6), Messi (7), Griezmann (5).

Subs: Araujo (7), Dembele (5), Roberto (6).

Atletico Madrid: Oblak (7), Trippier (6), Savic (6), Felipe (6), Hermoso (7); Carrasco (8), Koke (7), Llorente (6), Lemar (n/a), Correa (7), Suarez (7).

Subs: Kondogbia (6), Saul (5), Felix (6).

Man of the match: Yannick Carrasco.

Advantage Real in La Liga title race

Atletico went into the game two points clear of Barcelona at the summit, with Real Madrid separating the two sides in second place ahead of their game with Sevilla on Sunday.

Preparations for the hosts were dealt a blow in midweek when it was confirmed head coach Ronald Koeman would be absent from the touchline after the Spanish football federation rejected the club’s appeal against a touchline ban. Koeman was sent off in his side’s 2-1 home defeat by Granada on April 29 for saying “what a character” to the fourth official after being warned about his conduct.

In his absence, assistant manager Alfred Schreuder took charge – but Atletico carved open the better chances of a goalless first half. They were not aided by the early withdrawal of Thomas Lemar through a muscle injury, shortly after the midfielder had tested Marc-Andre ter Stegen from just inside the box.

Barcelona's assistant manager Alfred Schreuder was in charge of the team
Image:
Barcelona’s assistant manager Alfred Schreuder was in charge of the team

Suarez was determined to mark his return to his former club in style, with his free-kick comfortably saved before Clement Lenglet produced a vital last-ditch block to deny Angel Correa from Mario Hermoso’s cross.

Barcelona were dealt a blow when Sergio Busquets was forced off with a head injury after half an hour, and Atletico were growing in confidence as Ter Stegen was again drawn into action to deny Marcos Llorente’s snap shot from another Carrasco delivery.

The Belgian elected to try his luck next as he again turned Oscar Mingueza inside-out but Ter Stegen got down well to save his shot before reacting quickly to the rebound to deny Suarez from close range.

Sergio Busquets was forced off in the first half with a head injury
Image:
Sergio Busquets was forced off in the first half with a head injury

Barcelona had threatened fleetingly and were again indebted to Lionel Messi for inspiration as he glided past Saul Niguez and Felipe on a trademark slaloming run before his reversed shot was tipped around the post by Jan Oblak.

Following the restart, Atletico continued to dominate possession, but the hosts were more compact as Suarez lashed a speculative shot wide.

Messi turned chief creator as his free-kick was headed over on the stretch by Lenglet, with Ronald Araujo in a far better place to attack the ball behind him. The hosts came close to breaking the deadlock when Messi flicked Jordi Alba’s cross into the path of Ilaix Moriba but Hermoso made a crucial block.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi, left, runs with the ball past Atletico Madrid's Yannick Carrasco
Image:
Messi runs with the ball past Yannick Carrasco

Barcelona were enjoying a strong phase of dominance as Gerard Pique glanced the resulting short corner from Messi into the gloves of Oblak, who was then in the right place to tip a free-kick around the post from the Argentine.

Atletico had rarely threatened their opponents during the second period as Joao Felix was introduced to little effect by Diego Simone, but there was further frustration for the hosts as Araujo saw his effort from Alba’s cross ruled out for a clear offside.

Barcelona were desperately in need of a goal, and they very nearly found the elusive winner when Moriba collected Messi’s pass to bring in Alba down the left flank, and the full-back’s deep cross was measured perfectly into the path of the substitute Dembele but he inexplicably headed over.

Frenkie de Jong looks to stop the dangerous Yannick Carrasco
Image:
Frenkie de Jong looks to stop Carrasco

The game fizzled out without further major incident, and it is a result that suits Real Madrid – who know they will be crowned La Liga champions if they win their remaining four games.

“We’re still in the mix. La Liga’s still wide open, three games is a lot even if we know it’s not in our hands anymore,” Barca defender Pique said. “Anything can happen. I’d like to know if any other side in La Liga has won four in a row, it’s only something we’ve done.

“If we win our remaining three matches, I think we’ll win the league. We’re going to fight until the end, even if we haven’t done what we needed.”

Simeone: I won’t watch Real vs Sevilla

Diego Simeone isn't interested in watching Real Madrid on Sunday
Image:
Diego Simeone isn’t interested in watching Real Madrid on Sunday

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone said he would not watch Real Madrid’s La Liga game with Sevilla on Sunday.

“I’m not watching the (other teams’) games. I don’t enjoy it so I’d prefer not to watch,” he told a post-match news conference.

“I don’t think it will go any differently if I do watch it, so I’ll have dinner with my family and get ready for Monday’s session and focus on playing a good game against Real Sociedad on Wednesday. It’s a great season, where four sides are looking for the best possible ending.

“The game transpired as we wanted it to. We attacked well through pressing them and recovering the ball. We were great in the first half, and the second was more even.”

Atletico keeper Jan Oblak acknowledged that his side are no longer in control of the outcome this season, but he pointed out that having a game in hand is not always a good thing.

“It’s true, we don’t have things in our own hands, but Real and Sevilla have to play four games, whereas we have three.

“It’ll be tough to the end for everyone. There’s a lot of games with a lot to play for, all tough matches, and whoever comes through this period strongest will win La Liga.”

What’s next?

Barcelona travel to face Levante in La Liga on Tuesday; kick-off is at 9pm. Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid host Real Sociedad on Wednesday at 9pm.

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Real, Barca, Juve respond to UEFA ‘threats’

Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus have issued a joint statement vowing to “persevere in the pursuit of adequate solutions” amid the fallout from the European Super League and what they see as “threats” from UEFA.

Nine of the original 12 European Super League clubs – including the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ – declared their commitment to UEFA and its competitions at continental and domestic level on Friday.

However, the three who have not renounced the European Super League – Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus – are set to face “appropriate action” under UEFA’s disciplinary action.

We are looking at the prospect of Real Madrid not playing in the Champions League next season. Juventus will not be playing in it. Barcelona will not be playing in it. Unless they can sit down and come up with a compromise with UEFA.

Sky Sports News’ Kaveh Solhekol

The trio of clubs released a coordinated statement on Saturday, denouncing the “intolerable” pressure put on them by UEFA to drop the project.

It read: “In relation to the statement released by UEFA on the 7th May in respect of the Super League and the position taken by 9 of its founding clubs, Fútbol Club Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid Club de Fútbol state the following:

“I- The founding clubs have suffered, and continue to suffer, unacceptable third-party pressures, threats, and offenses to abandon the project and therefore desist from their right and duty to provide solutions to the football ecosystem via concrete proposals and constructive dialogue.

“This is intolerable under the rule of law and Tribunals have already ruled in favour of the Super League proposal, ordering FIFA and UEFA to, either directly or through their affiliated bodies, refrain from taking any action which may hinder this initiative in any way while court proceedings are pending.

UEFA has reserved all rights to take whatever action it deems appropriate against those clubs that have so far refused to renounce the so-called ‘Super League’.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin

“II- The Super League project was designed jointly by its 12 founding clubs:

“a. with the aim of providing solutions to the current unsustainable situation in the football industry. The 12 founding clubs shared the same concerns -as other stakeholders in European football do-, particularly under the current socio-economic context, that structural reforms are indispensable to ensure our sport stays appealing and survives in the long-term.

“To that effect, on 18th April, they announced their willingness to create the Super League and establish a channel of communication with UEFA and FIFA, in a constructive spirit of collaboration between the parties, as it was so notified to each of them on such date;

“b. with the utmost respect for the current football structures and ecosystem. The founding clubs expressly agreed that the Super League would only take place if such a competition was recognised by UEFA and/or FIFA or if, in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, it was deemed to be a competition duly compatible for all purposes with the continuity of the founding clubs in their respective domestic competitions.










0:30

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez refused to comment on the European Super League, as he visited London for Real’s semi-final second leg against Chelsea

“However, despite being aware of the above terms, UEFA and FIFA have so far refused to establish any adequate channel of communication; and

“c. to bring financial stability to the entire European football family, currently under the effects of a deep crisis that threatens the survival of many clubs.

“Testament of it, the announced commitment to establish annual solidarity payments for guaranteed annual amounts that materially multiply those distributed by UEFA, and the obligation to reinforce financial sustainability rules, through the creation of a clear, transparent and effective control system verified by experts.

“III- The 12 founding clubs also acknowledged that the Super League was a unique opportunity to offer fans around the world the best possible show and to reinforce global interest in the sport, which is not a ‘given’ and is challenged by new generational trends.

“Moreover, one of its main objectives was to promote women’s football on a global level, a tremendous, but currently underestimated, opportunity for the sector.

“IV- We are fully aware of the diversity of reactions to the Super League initiative and, consequently, of the need to reflect on the reasons for some of them. We are ready to reconsider the proposed approach, as necessary.

“However, we would be highly irresponsible if, being aware of the needs and systemic crisis in the football sector, which led us to announce the Super League, we abandoned such mission to provide effective and sustainable answers to the existential questions that threaten the football industry.

“V- We regret to see that our friends and founding partners of the Super League project have now found themselves in such inconsistent and contradictory position when signing a number of commitments to UEFA yesterday.

“However, given that the material issues that led the 12 founding clubs to announce the Super League weeks ago have not gone away, we reiterate that, to honour our history, to comply with our obligations towards our stakeholders and fans, for the good of football and for the financial sustainability of the sector, we have the duty to act in a responsible manner and persevere in the pursuit of adequate solutions, despite the unacceptable and ongoing pressures and threats received from UEFA.

“VI- Mostly, we reiterate to FIFA, UEFA and all football stakeholders, as we have done on several occasions since the announcement of the Super League, our commitment and firm will to discuss, with respect and without intolerable pressure and in accordance with the rule of law, the most appropriate solutions for the sustainability of the whole football family.”

The nine clubs who pulled out of the European Super League are back in the UEFA fold and have agreed to “take all steps within their power” to end their involvement in the breakaway league.

The Super League was announced on April 18, but within 72 hours it had fallen apart with the English clubs withdrawing after fan protests and Government pressure.

What punishment do nine Super League rebels face?



AP - Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel








1:07

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel says UEFA were right not to expel them from this season’s Champions League over their failed European Super League move

The clubs will make a combined 15m euro (just over £13m) goodwill contribution to benefit children’s and grassroots football across Europe.

They will also have five per cent of UEFA competition revenues withheld for one season. This money will be redistributed.

They face fines of 100m euros (almost £87m) each if they seek to join an unauthorised competition in the future, and a fine of half that if they breach any other terms of the declaration, UEFA said in a statement.

They will also rejoin the influential lobbying group the European Club Association.

A spokesperson for Manchester United confirmed the Glazer family would personally cover their club’s share of the goodwill money requested and the withheld funds.



Glazers (PA)








3:51

James Cooper reports the latest surrounding Joel Glazer’s open letter to the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust (MUST) on Friday

It is expected that the amount the Glazers would be liable for is between five and 10 million euros.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said: “I said at the UEFA Congress two weeks ago that it takes a strong organisation to admit making a mistake especially in these days of trial by social media. These clubs have done just that.

“In accepting their commitments and willingness to repair the disruption they caused, UEFA wants to put this chapter behind it and move forward in a positive spirit.

“The measures announced are significant, but none of the financial penalties will be retained by UEFA. They will all be reinvested into youth and grassroots football in local communities across Europe, including the UK.

“These clubs recognised their mistakes quickly and have taken action to demonstrate their contrition and future commitment to European football. The same cannot be said for the clubs that remain involved in the so-called ‘Super League’ and UEFA will deal with those clubs subsequently.”

What about Real, Barca and Juve?



Florentino Perez








1:59

The Athletic’s Caoimhe O’Neill says football lovers should not be too concerned about Perez’s claim that plans for a Super League will be revived

On those clubs – Real, Barca and Juve – the tone was strikingly different in UEFA’s statement.

“UEFA has reserved all rights to take whatever action it deems appropriate against those clubs that have so far refused to renounce the so-called ‘Super League’,” the statement concluded.

“The matter will promptly be referred to the competent UEFA disciplinary bodies.”

Meanwhile, Sky Sports News reporter Kaveh Solhekol believes the three clubs could face bans from next season’s Champions League.

“Three clubs are refusing to be reintegrated,” he said. “They are three of the biggest clubs in Europe – Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus.

“As things stand, UEFA are saying these three clubs may well be banned from European competitions.

“We are looking at the prospect of Real Madrid not playing in the Champions League next season. Juventus will not be playing in it. Barcelona will not be playing in it.

“Unless they can sit down and come up with a compromise with UEFA. But as things stand – as ridiculous as it sounds – these three clubs are refusing to give up on the Super League.

“They still think somehow they can make it happen. They are refusing to accept these terms, conditions and punishments that UEFA have given to the other clubs.”

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‘Big Six’ among nine ex-Super League clubs who commit to UEFA

Nine of the original Super League clubs – including the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ – have declared their commitment to UEFA and its competitions at continental and domestic level.

However, the three who have not renounced the Super League – Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus – are set to face “appropriate action” under UEFA’s disciplinary action.

The 12 clubs announced themselves as founder members of the breakaway league on April 18, but within 72 hours it had fallen apart with the English clubs withdrawing after fan protests and Government pressure.










5:33

Kaveh Solhekol reports the latest as the ‘Big Six’ English clubs involved in failed plans for a European Super League have declared their commitment to UEFA – however Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus are yet to do so.

The clubs will make a combined 15m euro (just over £13m) goodwill contribution to benefit children’s and grassroots football across Europe.

They will also have five per cent of UEFA competition revenues withheld for one season. This money will be redistributed.

They face fines of 100m euros (almost £87m) each if they seek to join an unauthorised competition in the future, and a fine of half that if they breach any other terms of the declaration, UEFA said in a statement.

They will also rejoin the influential lobbying group the European Club Association.

A spokesperson for Manchester United confirmed the Glazer family would personally cover their club’s share of the goodwill money requested and the withheld funds.

It is expected that the amount the Glazers would be liable for is between five and 10 million euros.



Avram Glazer refuses to answer questions over Manchester United








0:46

Manchester United owner Avram Glazer refused to apologise to fans over the disastrous attempt to form a breakaway European Super League, when approached by Sky News

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said: “I said at the UEFA Congress two weeks ago that it takes a strong organisation to admit making a mistake especially in these days of trial by social media. These clubs have done just that.

“In accepting their commitments and willingness to repair the disruption they caused, UEFA wants to put this chapter behind it and move forward in a positive spirit.

“The measures announced are significant, but none of the financial penalties will be retained by UEFA. They will all be reinvested into youth and grassroots football in local communities across Europe, including the UK.

“These clubs recognised their mistakes quickly and have taken action to demonstrate their contrition and future commitment to European football. The same cannot be said for the clubs that remain involved in the so-called ‘Super League’ and UEFA will deal with those clubs subsequently.”

On those clubs – Real, Barca and Juve – the tone was strikingly different in UEFA’s statement.

“UEFA has reserved all rights to take whatever action it deems appropriate against those clubs that have so far refused to renounce the so-called ‘Super League’,” the statement concluded.

“The matter will promptly be referred to the competent UEFA disciplinary bodies.”

The Football Association said in a statement: “We welcome today’s announcement from UEFA confirming that they have resolved matters with all of the English clubs involved in the proposed European Super League. We’re delighted that these clubs have committed to UEFA’s club competitions going forward.

“The FA has an ongoing inquiry into the involvement of the six English clubs and we have formally requested all relevant information and evidence regarding their participation. Once we have the required information, we will consider what appropriate steps to take.”

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Four clubs in for Sancho; Dortmund set £150m Haaland price

Four clubs are interested in signing Jadon Sancho this summer, while Borussia Dortmund are unwilling to sell Erling Haaland for less than £150m.

It is understood Manchester United remain keen on England international Sancho.

Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc has said Sancho will be allowed to leave under a “gentleman’s agreement” and provided “certain conditions are met”.

Zorc said United almost signed the winger last summer, but “requirements were not met”.

Dortmund’s asking price was believed to be £108m last summer, but no price has been set this time.

Sky Sports News has been told Dortmund could accept a deal at around £80m.

Sancho’s preference is to play in the Champions League next season.

Real Madrid, Barcelona, Man Utd, Man City & Chelsea want Haaland



Erling Haaland has scored 49 goals in his first 52 games for Borussia Dortmung








1:07

Kaveh Solhekol tells Inside Football Borussia Dortmund will not sell Erling Haaland for less than £150m this summer even if they fail to qualify for the Champions League

Dortmund believe they are in an even stronger position over striker Haaland than they were last summer when United tried to sign Sancho.

They had an agreement with Sancho that they would let him leave for €120m before a deadline of August 10. No such agreement is in place for Haaland.

Dortmund will not sell Haaland for less than £150m this summer even if they fail to qualify for the Champions League.

It had been thought failing to qualify for the Champions League would force Dortmund to sell but they are serious about keeping him and have told the player and his agent Mino Raiola they will not be bullied into selling.

Dortmund are expecting the player and his camp to agitate for a move and one source has told Sky Sports News there will be war this summer if the club finish outside the Champions League places.

Dortmund are fifth in the Bundesliga at the moment, one point behind Eintracht Frankfurt with three games to play.



Harry Kane and Erling Haaland thumbnaill








5:22

Speaking last month, Roy Keane discussed whether Manchester United should target Harry Kane or Erling Haaland during the summer transfer window

Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea want to sign Haaland.

He has a €75m release clause which can be activated in July 2022.

Man Utd yet to open contract talks with Pogba

Manchester United have yet to open contract talks with midfielder Paul Pogba, whose contract is up in summer next year.

Pogba is also represented by Raiola, whose stance has softened in the past few months.



Paul Pogba was only handed a brief cameo during the stalemate








1:03

Dharmesh Sheth tells Inside Football in Sky Sports News Manchester United have yet to open contract talks with midfielder Paul Pogba

In December, he said Pogba was unhappy and would leave. Last month, he said Pogba was interested in winning the big trophies and asked if that could yet be with United.

Pogba’s focus is finishing the season on a high with United ahead of the Euros with France.

But United will want to sort this out sooner rather than later.

They have lost him for free once before and he is seven months away from being able to sign on a pre-contract agreement with a foreign club.

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