Levante comeback leaves Barca’s title hopes in tatters

Barcelona’s title hopes were dealt a massive blow after they twice blew the lead to draw 3-3 at Levante.

A late goal from Sergio Leon meant Barca could only climb above Real Madrid into second, a point behind leaders Atletico Madrid, with two matches left to play. Both Madrid sides will play their game in hand over the next couple of days.

Lionel Messi had earlier struck his 29th goal of the season to keep him at the top of the league goalscoring chart. The Argentinian superstar opened the scoring with a fine volley after 25 minutes.

Jordi Alba sent in a dangerous cross from the left but Levante defender Jorge Miramon managed to get a touch. However, Messi adjusted his body and executed a perfect left-footed volley to settle the visitors’ nerves.

Alba almost added a second moments later when he latched onto Messi’s ball over the top but he snatched at his volley and it flew wide.

But Barca doubled their lead in the 34th minute after Ousmane Dembele raced to the byline and pulled the ball back for Pedri to slide into an empty net.

The visitors almost had a third before half-time when Messi crossed for Sergio Busquets, whose header was narrowly wide. Instead, Barcelona were stunned when Levante scored twice in three minutes to haul themselves level.

First Miramon stood up a cross and Gonzalo Melero got in front of Sergi Roberto to head home at the far post.

Moments later Messi gave the ball away and Jose Morales played a one-two with Roger Marti before crashing the ball into the top corner.

Dembele struck with a fierce drive in the 64th minute to put Barca back in front, but Leon left Barca on their knees when he turned in a cross from Tono with seven minutes remaining.

Atletico host Real Sociedad on Wednesday and Real travel to Granada 24 hours later.

La Liga: Wins for Osasuna, Alaves

Ante Budimir scored twice as Osasuna beat Cadiz 3-2.

Budimir headed in a cross from Manu Sanchez seven minutes before half-time to give Osasuna the lead.

Ivan Saponjic brought Cadiz level when he converted a penalty early in the second half after David Garcia brought down Jon Ander Garrido.

But Budimir struck again and Roberto Torres added a third from the spot before Alberto Perea Correoso pulled one back in stoppage time.

Goals either side of half-time from Joselu and Luis Rioja deepened Elche’s relegation worries as they went down 2-0 at home to Alaves.

Serie A: Napoli thrash Udinese

In Serie A, Piotr Zielinski, Fabian Ruiz, Hirving Lozano, Giovanni Di Lorenzo and Lorenzo Insigne were on target as Napoli boosted their European hopes with a 5-1 win over Udinese, Stefano Okaka pulling one back for the visitors.

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McGregor highest-paid athlete ahead of Messi in Forbes list

Conor McGregor was the world’s highest-paid athlete over the last year ahead of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, according to the annual Forbes list.

During the 12-month period ending May 1, 2021, Irish MMA fighter McGregor earned $180m (£128m), a figure which Forbes said includes $158m (£112m) from endorsements and the recent sale of the majority stake of his whiskey brand.

He made just $22m (£15m) inside the Octagon – McGregor lost his rematch against Dustin Poirier in January this year in Abu Dhabi.

It is the 32-year-old’s first time at No 1 and his second appearance in the top 10 – McGregor was named at No 4 with $99m (£70m) in 2018 after the fight against Floyd Mayweather.

McGregor recently claimed he had held talks about buying a stake in Celtic from their principal shareholder Dermot Desmond, adding that he could do “big things for a club” and also said that he likes Manchester United.

Lionel Messi reacts to Barcelona's shock Granada defeat
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Lionel Messi earned £92m over the last 12 months

Barcelona and Argentina forward Messi was second on the list and set a record as the highest-earning footballer after bringing home $130m (£92m), while Portugal and Juventus forward Ronaldo earned $120m (£85m) to sit third among the top 10 highest-paid athletes.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
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Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott earned $107.5m/£76m to make his way into the top five

NFL quarterback Dak Prescott ($107.5 m/£76m) of the Dallas Cowboys and four-times NBA champion LeBron James ($96.5 million) rounded off the top five.

LeBron James
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LeBron James finished in the top five of Forbes’ list of highest paid athletes

Just outside the top five were PSG and Brazil forward Neymar at sixth ($95m/£67.5m), 20-time tennis Grand Slam champion Roger Federer at seventh ($90m/£64m), and seven-time F1 championship winner Lewis Hamilton ($82m/£58m) finished eighth in the list.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Tom Brady with $76m (£54m) and Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant $75m (£53m) made up the rest of the top 10.

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Lewis Hamilton earned an estimated £58m in the last 12 months

Forbes said its on-the-field earnings figures include all prize money, salaries and bonuses earned during the 12-month period while off-the-field earnings are an estimate of sponsorship deals, appearance fees and licensing income.

In April, Barcelona topped the Forbes list for the 20 most valuable football clubs at £3.46bn ($4.76bn), narrowly ahead of their La Liga rivals Real Madrid’s valuation of £3.45bn ($4.75bn).

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Real, Barca, Juve face two-year UEFA ban over ESL

Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus face a two-season Champions League ban unless they withdraw from the European Super League and sign a settlement agreement with UEFA.

A disciplinary investigation has been opened by UEFA against the three clubs in connection to their involvement with the European Super League project.

The trio are the only clubs from the original 12 involved in the breakaway plans yet to formally withdraw.

The nine clubs who pulled out of the European Super League – including Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham – signed the Club Commitment Declaration with UEFA on Friday.

UEFA is confident the three rebel clubs, who have won 20 European Cups between them, will be forced to sign up soon.

The prospect of disciplinary action appeared inevitable last Friday when a statement confirming the peace accord with nine of the clubs ended: “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 matter will promptly be referred to the competent UEFA disciplinary bodies.”

The breakaway league was abandoned within 72 hours of its announcement last month amid considerable fan protests, Government pressure, and player and manager rejection.

On Saturday, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus hit out at “intolerable” pressure and threats to abandon the European Super League project, and vowed to “persevere” with the idea despite its considerable rejection.

Florentino Perez
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Real Madrid president Florentino Perez spearheaded the failed breakaway Super League

Their statement read: “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.”

Juventus, who are in danger of missing out on the Champions League next season, have been warned by the Italian football federation they will be expelled from Serie A unless they withdraw from the proposed breakaway league.

What punishment do the nine Super League rebels face?

In announcing their recommitment to UEFA on Friday, the nine clubs will make a combined goodwill contribution of just over £13m to benefit children’s and grassroots football across Europe. They will also have five per cent of UEFA competition revenues withheld for one season and this money will be redistributed.

They also face fines of almost £87m each if they seek to join an unauthorised competition in the future, and a fine of half that amount if they breach any other terms of the declaration. They will also rejoin the influential lobbying group the European Club Association.



Avram Glazer refuses to answer questions over Manchester United








0:46

Manchester United owner Avram Glazer refused to apologise to fans over the Super League debacle, when approached by Sky News last week

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.

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.”

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Barcelona 0-0 Atletico commentary

Full Time
After Extra Time
This is a live match.
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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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Barcelona hold initial talks over Aguero deal

Barcelona have held initial talks with representatives of Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero over a free transfer this summer.

Aguero, who is City’s record goalscorer with 258 goals in 387 appearances in all competitions, will leave the Etihad Stadium when his contract expires at the end of the season.

The 32-year-old Argentine spent five years playing in La Liga for Atletico Madrid prior to his move to City in 2011.

Aguero is targeting a treble in his final season with City, with the club in the final of the Champions League and on the verge of adding the Premier League title to the League Cup.

He has played a peripheral role this season under Pep Guardiola, making only 17 appearances, in part due to injury and illness, and scored just his fourth goal of the season against Crystal Palace on Saturday.



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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester City’s win against Crystal Palace in the Premier League.

Aguero has been linked to several of Europe’s top clubs in recent weeks, with Chelsea believed to be among the possible suitors should he decide to remain in the Premier League.

Barcelona are hopeful of persuading captain Lionel Messi, an international team-mate of Aguero, to remain at the club beyond this summer.

Aguero is the fourth-highest goalscorer in Premier League history, with his tally of 182 putting him behind only former England internationals Alan Shearer (260), Wayne Rooney (208) and Andrew Cole (187).

‘Aguero could help settle Messi at City’



Lionel Messi reacts to Barcelona's shock Granada defeat








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Spanish football journalist Alvaro Montero says Lionel Messi could be persuaded to stay at Barcelona if the club can sign Sergio Aguero on a free transfer this summer.

Spanish football expert Alvaro Montero told Sky Sports News:

“It is a huge possibility as far as we know. Sergio Aguero has a desire [to play] for Barcelona. There is no catch. He is 32 years old. He knows perfectly the language, he knows La Liga, he knows the country and one of his best friends in football is Lionel Messi. It is said in Barcelona, Catalonia that there is a huge possibility for Joan Laporta (Barcelona president) to try and convince Messi to stay by signing one of his good friends Sergio Aguero after Luis Suarez left the club last year.

“In the last weeks and last months we have seen Messi more committed and comfortable. He is even fine with Ronald Koeman. We have seen him laughing in the games, winning the Cope del Rey. Now they are in the battle for the La Liga title and although many people said that he could go to Paris Saint-Germain, in my point of view Joan Laporta could be the key.

“Sergio Aguero can be one of the reasons for Messi to stay as Barca needs a striker, goals and needs a better sports project for the future to try to win for example the Cope del Rey, maybe La Liga and especially the Champions League which they have not won since 2015.”

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Barca vs Atletico: Crunch battle in La Liga title race

Manchester City are on the brink of being crowned Premier League champions while Inter Milan ended Juventus’ nine-year reign in Italy last weekend, but it is all to play for in La Liga.

The battle for domestic glory in Spain’s top tier is going right down to the wire, and this weekend sees two of the title protagonists go head-to-head at the Camp Nou.

Ronald Koeman’s Barcelona are breathing down the neck of leaders Atletico Madrid, and will overtake Diego Simeone’s side with a victory on Saturday.

But there are two other teams still in with a shout of claiming the title with just four rounds of action still to play. Sky Sports caught up with Spanish football expert Alvaro Montero to assess where the 2020/21 La Liga race will be decided.

La Liga title race – state of play

1. Atletico Madrid (Played 34, 76 points)

Atletico Madrid still lead the table, but their advantage has been cut
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Atletico Madrid still lead the table, but their advantage has been cut

Are they still favourites for the title? “They’re still the favourites but let’s see what happens in the Camp Nou! If they win that game, psychologically it’ll be very powerful. They would lose the leadership if Barcelona win as they are only two points behind. My feelings are that if Barcelona win, they will go on to win La Liga.

“Real Madrid could win against Sevilla on Sunday but they still have a difficult calendar. If Atletico win this weekend, they’re clear favourites. If not, it will certainly depend on results elsewhere. They suffered in the 1-0 win over Elche, it’s true they won well against Eibar 5-0, but they lost to Athletic Bilbao and they suffered a little bit against Huesca and they drew against Real Betis so they’ve not been playing with the feeling of champions.

“That said, they had luck in the final minute against Elche with the penalty miss [Fidel Chaves hit the post and replays showed goalkeeper Jan Oblak had encroached off his line], but my feelings are that Atletico are suffering. I’m not sure if it’s a physical issue or whether that sense of being so close to the title is starting to affect them.

“They’re not as strong as they were one or two months ago but the trip to the Camp Nou will be the perfect exam to show if they can win the league. They passed it in 2014 [Atletico won La Liga on the final day of the 2013/14 season by drawing 1-1 at Barcelona], and while the circumstances are slightly different this time as they will still have three more games, it’s a pivotal match.

“Simeone’s team in 2014 felt more secure and were more trustworthy. This team doesn’t fill you with the same confidence and you feel Barcelona are very capable of beating them at the Camp Nou.”

2. Real Madrid (Played 34, 74 points)

Real Madrid remain heavily involved in an engrossing title race
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Real Madrid remain heavily involved in an engrossing title race

Is it dangerous to rule out Real? “There are many things to say about Real Madrid, but the first thing is that Zinedine Zidane has saved the club’s season. Some weeks and months ago, we thought that it would be a disaster. The team were struggling to progress from the Champions League group stages. But he has restored hope among supporters and they are taking the title race right down to the final few games.

“Everyone at Real knows that La Liga is a good title, but that the Champions League title is the most important one. Real are in the perfect moment where they are so close to achieving something great. We saw in the first leg against Chelsea that they managed to keep the tie alive even though they were the inferior side in Madrid.

“This generation of players don’t just play finals; they win them. It’s similar when it comes to La Liga. They have tricky games but it could well be that their opponents won’t have anything to play for. By the time they face Sevilla on Sunday night, they’ll also know the result from the night before [between Barcelona and Atletico]. So they are extremely dangerous.

“With three games remaining, they could well be the leaders [if Atletico fail to win at Barcelona and Real beat Sevilla]. They then have to face Granada, who are a tough team but they are eighth and it’s almost impossible for them to qualify for Europe]. They then face Athletic Bilbao, who are in the same position and Granada and then Villarreal – who could be preparing for a Europa League final three days later. They’re not playing against a side with a massive amount of motivation.”

3. Barcelona (Played 34, 74 points)

Barcelona moved to within two points of Atletico by beating Valencia
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Barcelona moved to within two points of Atletico by beating Valencia

How significant is it for Ronaldo Koeman to win La Liga? “It’s extremely important as it would mean a domestic double having won the Copa del Rey. After the home defeat to Granada, my TV programme Deportes Cuatro reported that Xavi Hernandez was called by Laporta telling him not to renovate his contract with Al Sadd in Qatar because he wanted him as Barcelona head coach for the start of next season.

“But things can change.

“If Koeman wins the title, it would place significant doubt in the mind of club president Joan Laporta on his future. Winning the Doblete would make it very difficult for Laporta to justify sacking Koeman. Securing that in his first season while helping Lionel Messi return to his best since that explosive interview he gave in September where he expressed a desire to leave would have to be seen as a huge success.

“Barcelona fans would understand why Laporta would keep hold of the manager if he won both trophies and earned it on the pitch. The football hasn’t been fabulous but it would justify his stay. If Real Madrid were to win the Champions League, however, that would eclipse a Barcelona domestic double – which perversely could have a negative effect on Koeman.

“The game with Atletico will come down to which side defends better. We saw how Barcelona conceded against Valencia and Granada. It’ll be a match of not many goals.”

4. Sevilla (Played 34, 70 points)

Jules Kounde is one of the shining lights at dark horses Sevilla
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Jules Kounde is one of the shining lights at dark horses Sevilla

Are Sevilla’s hopes over after Bilbao loss? “If they beat Real Madrid, they will still be fourth in the league with three games remaining. They would still have to win all three of those games and hope others drop points so it’s a tough ask. There are many inconveniences for them. Mathematically, they’re still not out of it but psychologically, the defeat at home to Athletic Bilbao on Monday could have a huge impact.

“Speaking to some of their supporters, they realise that their dream is probably now over. They will definitely finish in the top four now so perhaps they can play without pressure. With no pressure, perhaps they can play better but I would still prefer to play in Real’s position this weekend with that extra motivation.

“If Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona finishes in a draw, or if Barca win, Real know they would go top with a win against Sevilla. For me, that’s a greater motivation than what can happen through playing without pressure.

What happens if teams are locked on the same points?

'No Surrender' reports Mundo Deportivo after Barcelona's dramatic win over Valencia while Marca heralds the 'Fantastic Week'
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‘No Surrender’ reports Mundo Deportivo after Barcelona’s dramatic win over Valencia while Marca heralds the ‘Fantastic Week’

Importantly for Real Madrid, they have the superior head-to-head record over both Atletico and Barcelona, so if it comes to it, they can call upon their fine performances over the duo to help deliver domestic glory. The results between the four title protagonists:

  • Oct 4, 2020: Barcelona 1-1 Sevilla
  • Oct 24, 2020: Barcelona 1-3 Real Madrid
  • Nov 21, 2020: Atletico Madrid 1-0 Barcelona
  • Dec 5, 2020: Sevilla 0-1 Real Madrid
  • Dec 12, 2020: Real Madrid 2-0 Atletico Madrid
  • Jan 12, 2021: Atletico Madrid 2-0 Sevilla
  • Feb 27, 2021: Sevilla 0-2 Barcelona
  • Mar 7, 2021: Atletico Madrid 1-1 Real Madrid
  • April 4, 2021: Sevilla 1-0 Atletico Madrid
  • April 10, 2021: Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona

If the two teams at the top of La Liga are locked on the same number of points and have an identical head-to-head [for example, if Barcelona win 1-0 against Atletico and finish on the same points] the league will be decided on goal difference.

La Liga title race – Head-to-head table

Team Played Won Drawn Lost Points
Real Madrid 5 4 1 0 13
Atletico Madrid 5 2 1 2 7
Barcelona 5 1 1 3 4
Sevilla 5 1 1 3 4

Koeman to be absent from touchline

The pressure is on Ronald Koeman to get a result at the Bernabeu
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The pressure is on Ronald Koeman to get a result at the Camp Nou

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman will be absent from the touchline for Saturday’s crunch game after the Spanish football federation on Wednesday 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.

He was given an automatic one-game ban which was then extended to two matches by the federation’s competition committee.

A statement by the competition committee said Koeman had been suspended for violating article 117 of the disciplinary code, which is described as ‘showing an attitude of disrespect towards referees, directors or sporting authorities’.

The Dutchman was absent for Sunday’s 3-2 win at Valencia which kept his side two points behind Atletico and will also miss the game against the leaders at the Camp Nou. His assistant Alfred Schreuder is set to take charge of the team again.

How to follow

Follow Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid via our dedicated live blog on Sky Sports website and app on Saturday; kick-off at 3.15pm.

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