Euro: Bayern smash five past Leverkusen, Juve beat Roma

Bayern Munich thrashed Bayer Leverkusen 5-1 on Sunday as Julian Nagelsmann’s side ran riot and silenced a stunned BayArena, scoring five goals by half-time to reclaim top spot in the Bundesliga from Borussia Dortmund.

Two each from Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry moved Bayern up to 19 points, one point ahead of Dortmund while Leverkusen remain third with 16.

Bayern took the lead with just three minutes on the clock from a set-piece when an unmarked Dayot Upamecano crossed the ball into the six-yard box where Lewandowski scored with a neat back-heeled flick.

Lewandowski made it 2-0 at the half-hour mark when a Bayern counter-attack allowed left-back Alphonso Davies to dribble his way into the box towards the Polish striker, who simply stuck a leg out to tap the ball into the net.

Bayern then scored three goals in three minutes with Thomas Mueller scoring from point-blank range before Gnabry scored twice, benefiting from a Mueller assist and then a lay-off from Leon Goretzka as Leverkusen failed to deal with the press.

Serge Gnabry completed Bayern's scoring with their fifth after just 37 minutes
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Serge Gnabry completed Bayern’s scoring with their fifth after just 37 minutes

Manuel Neuer kept Leverkusen at bay with some fine saves but he was finally beaten 10 minutes after the restart when Patrik Schick was released down the right channel by Florian Wirtz and the Czech forward fired a shot that went in off the post.

Leverkusen substitute Lucas Alario had the ball in the net in the dying stages but the goal was ruled out for offside.

Also on Sunday, Augsburg drew 1-1 with Arminia Bielefeld, thwarting both teams’ hopes of putting some distance between themselves and the relegation zone.

Augsburg took the lead when Reece Oxford headed home from a corner, scoring his first Bundesliga goal after five seasons and 58 games in the league.

Bielefeld did not have a shot on target until Jacob Laursen volleyed in the equaliser in the 77th minute. Augsburg are in 16th place and Bielefeld sit 17th in the 18-team German top flight.

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A selection of the best goals from match week eight in the Bundesliga, including strikes from Robert Lewandowski, Serge Gnabry and Marco Reus

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Watch a selection of the best saves from matchweek eight in the Bundesliga, including stops from Manuel Neuer, Timo Horn and Peter Gulacsi

Serie A – Juventus see off Roma

Moise Kean's early goal won the game for Juventus
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Moise Kean’s early goal won the game for Juventus

Juventus continued their march up the Serie A standings with a 1-0 win over Roma, as Moise Kean’s unorthodox early goal sealed a fourth consecutive league win for the Turin club.

Rodrigo Bentancur’s header ricocheted off Kean’s head and into the back of the net after 16 minutes.

But Jose Mourinho’s side were furious when Tammy Abraham put the ball in the net but the goal was not allowed to stand because referee Daniele Orsato had already whistled for a penalty. Jordan Veretout took it and his effort was saved by Wojciech Szczesny.

Juve are seventh with 14 points, level with Lazio and Atalanta above them, and one point behind fourth-placed Roma.

Tammy Abraham had a goal ruled out for Roma
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Tammy Abraham had a goal ruled out for Roma

Earlier in the day, Victor Osimhen scored a towering header nine minutes from time as Napoli extended their perfect start to Serie A with a 1-0 win over Torino.

After Napoli captain Lorenzo Insigne had seen his weak first-half penalty saved and Giovanni Di Lorenzo had a goal ruled out by VAR for offside, Osimhen came to the rescue for Napoli. The striker finished off an assault on Torino’s goal following efforts from Dries Mertens and a deflection that set up Osimhen’s header.

Josip Ilicic netted twice and Duvn Zapata became the first Colombian player to score 100 goals in Serie A as Atalanta won 4-1 at Empoli.

Also, Sassuolo forward Gianluca Scamacca scored twice against his former team in a 2-2 draw at Genoa, 10-man Udinese came back for a 1-1 draw with Bologna and Cagliari finally earned their first win of the season by beating Sampdoria 3-1.

La Liga – Fati stars in Barcelona win

Ansu Fati made a return to action for Barcelona
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Ansu Fati made a return to action for Barcelona

Ansu Fati marked his first start in almost a year by scoring one goal and creating another as Barcelona came from behind to beat Valencia 3-1.

Despite being allowed a full capacity crowd for the first time since March 2020, Barca’s ground was only half full – and those in attendance were silenced after five minutes as Jose Gaya’s long-range strike swerved into the far corner.

Barca responded well and Fati levelled after 13 minutes with a wonderful curled finished from the edge of the box.

The youngster was then felled inside the area by Gaya four minutes before the break and Memphis Depay stepped up to net from the penalty spot.

Memphis Depay scored from the penalty spot during Barcelona's win
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Memphis Depay scored from the penalty spot during Barcelona’s win

Carlos Soller hit the woodwork after the break as Valencia pushed for an equaliser, but Barcelona were able to secure all three points when substitute Philippe Coutinho fired in from close range five minutes from the end.

The victory moved Ronald Koeman’s side up to seventh in the table on 15 points, five behind league leaders Real Sociedad, having played a game fewer.

Rafa Mir’s second-half strike secured a 1-0 win for Sevilla at Celta Vigo, while Rayo Vallecano saw off Elche 2-1.

Ezequiel Avila scored with four minutes left as Osasuna won 2-1 at Villarreal.

Ligue 1 – Lens lose ground on PSG

Stephy Mavididi scored the winning goal for Montpellier against Lens
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Stephy Mavididi scored the winning goal for Montpellier against Lens

Second-placed Lens lost ground with Ligue 1 leaders PSG when they slumped to a 1-0 defeat at Montpellier.

Montpellier were rewarded for their domination three minutes into the second half when Stephy Mavididi beat Jean-Louis Leca with a low shot after being played through by Teji Savanier.

Lens had some hope when Jordan Ferri was sent off in the 86th minute for picking up a second yellow card for pulling Seko Fofana’s shirt, but their efforts were in vain.

Lens now have 18 points, trailing PSG by nine points. They are now in danger of being overtaken by Marseille, who moved to within one point after Matteo Guendouzi’s double inspired them to a 4-1 comeback win against Lorient.

At the Stade Velodrome, Guendouzi added to goals by Boubacar Kamara and Arkadiusz Milik after an early penalty by Armand Lauriente had put Lorient ahead.

But Marseille’s pressure was too intense for Lorient with Guendouzi, who now has scored three goals and set up two in nine appearances this season, playing chief tormentor.

Third-placed Marseille have a game in hand to play against Nice, who are fourth on 16 points after losing 1-0 at Troyes. Defender Giulian Biancone set up Troyes’ Mama Balde in the fourth minute for the winning goal.

Gaetan Laborde continued his fine scoring form with his league-leading seventh goal as improving Rennes won 3-0 at lowly Metz.

After starring in a well-deserved home win against PSG two weeks ago, Laborde netted midway through the first half before 19-year-old Ghana winger Kamaldeen Sulemana added a superb solo goal. Martin Terrier completed the scoring just before the break.

Saint-Etienne coach Claude Puel is under increasing pressure to keep his job after his side lost 5-1 at Strasbourg. His side sit bottom and are the only side yet to win apart from 19th-place Brest, who drew 1-1 at home to Reims. South Korea striker Hwang Ui-jo also scored for strugglers Bordeaux in a 1-1 home draw with mid-table Nantes.

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Pedri agrees new Barca deal with 1bn euro release clause

Barcelona teenager Pedri has agreed a long-term contract extension with the financially stricken club.

The 18-year-old Spain international, who was named in the Euro 2020 team of the tournament, will remain at the Nou Camp until 2026.

His new contract includes a €1bn release clause and will be officially signed on Friday.

Pedri, who had been linked with Liverpool, joined Barcelona from Las Palmas in August 2020 and quickly established himself as a starter in midfield.

He played 53 times last season – the most appearances of anyone at the club.

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Former Barcelona midfielder Gaizka Mendieta says the team, manager Ronald Koeman and board must work together to shift the negative momentum at the club

His new deal is a rare piece of good news as Barcelona continue to struggle on and off the pitch. They sit ninth in La Liga and have lost their opening two Champions League games.

Lionel Messi was forced to leave the club during the summer as they were unable to afford his new contract, while experienced players such as Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba agreed to salary reductions to allow Ronald Koeman’s side to register their new signings.

President Joan Laporta laid bare their financial issues back in August, saying: “Barcelona has a negative net worth of €451m – it is a terrible inheritance. What has been happening is very worrying.

“The situation is dramatic, but we have good news. The strategic plan based on our credibility and experience, on the assets that Barca have, makes this situation temporary.

“I think that in a couple of years, the club’s economy will be healthy.”

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Barcelona’s Nou Camp to return to full capacity

Barcelona will be able to have full capacity at the Nou Camp from Friday after the Catalan government lifted coronavirus restrictions that have limited fan numbers.

Catalonia’s regional president Pere Aragones said in a news conference on Tuesday that outdoor sporting venues will be able to be at 100 per cent capacity, a move that the Barcelona has welcomed.

“Barcelona thanks everyone’s efforts and applauds the Government’s decision to apply a measure that practically allows us to return to normality,” a club statement on Twitter read.

Barcelona have not been able to play in front of a capacity crowd since football was first shut down in March 2020 due to the pandemic.

A crowd of up to 99,354 will be able to watch Ronald Koeman’s side host Valencia on Sunday with the Clasico against rivals Real Madrid taking place at the Nou Camp on October 24.

Spain’s central government lifted restrictions on outdoor sporting venues on October 1 but Catalonia chose not to lift the allowed capacity above 60 per cent before Tuesday’s announcement.

The move also means that Barcelona’s city rivals and fellow La Liga outfit Espanyol, who beat Real Madrid 2-1 last time out, will also be able to sell out their 40,000 RCDE Stadium.

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Messi, Jorginho, Kante lead 30-man Ballon d’Or shortlist

Lionel Messi, Jorginho and N’Golo Kante have been named on the 30-man shortlist for the men’s 2021 Ballon d’Or award.

The trio are among the leading contenders for the prize handed out by France Football, along with Robert Lewandowski and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Six-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi ended his wait for a major international trophy when winning the Copa America with Argentina in the summer, while Kante and Jorginho both helped Chelsea win the Champions League.

Kante was UEFA’s Player of the Match in both semi-final legs against Real Madrid, as well as the final against Manchester City, while Jorginho was also integral to Italy’s Euro 2020 triumph.

There are five Chelsea players on the list of nominees, including captain Cesar Azpilicueta, along with five from Premier League champions Manchester City.

Harry Kane is among the 13 Premier League players nominated with England team-mates Phil Foden, Mason Mount and Raheem Sterling also included.

Manchester United duo Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah are also shortlisted.

Bayern Munich striker Lewandowski missed out on the 2020 award, with the 33-year-old widely expected to claim the individual award before it was cancelled by organisers.

Nominees

  • Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
  • Nicolo Barella (Inter Milan)
  • Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
  • Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus)
  • Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City)
  • Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus)
  • Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)
  • Ruben Dias (Manchester City)
  • Gianluigi Donnarumma (Paris Saint-Germain)
  • Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)
  • Phil Foden (Manchester City)
  • Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund)
  • Jorginho (Chelsea)
  • Harry Kane (Tottenham)
  • N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)
  • Simon Kjaer (AC Milan)
  • Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)
  • Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea)
  • Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City)
  • Lautaro Martinez (Inter Milan)
  • Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)
  • Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain)
  • Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
  • Gerard Moreno (Villarreal)
  • Mason Mount (Chelsea)
  • Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain)
  • Pedri (Barcelona)
  • Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
  • Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
  • Luis Suarez (Atletico Madrid)

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Laporta: I hoped Messi would play for free at Barca

Barcelona president Joan Laporta says he had hoped Lionel Messi would stay at the club and play for free before completing his summer move to Paris Saint-Germain.

Messi concluded his 21-year association with Barcelona at the start of August and left as a free agent because the Catalonia club were unable to fulfil their offer of a new contract due to their inability to meet the La Liga salary cap.

The Argentina international then signed a two-year deal with PSG after an emotional farewell at the Nou Camp.

“There came a time when both parties saw that it would not be possible. There was disappointment on both sides,” Laporta told radio station RAC1.

FC Barcelona club President Joan Laporta pauses during a news conference in Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Aug. 6, 2021. Barcelona announced on Thursday Aug. 5, 2021 that Lionel Messi will not stay with the club. He is leaving after 17 successful seasons in which he propelled the Catalan club to glory, helping it win numerous domestic and international titles since debuting as a teenager. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)..
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Barcelona President Joan Laporta says he had hoped Messi would stay and play for free

“He wanted to stay but they also had a lot of pressure because of the offer they had.

“I hoped Messi would do a U-turn and he would say he would play for free.

“I would have liked that and I would have been all for it. It is my understanding La Liga would have accepted it. But we cannot ask a player of Messi’s stature to do this.”

Laporta also said that La Liga were willing to allow Barcelona to keep Messi if the club agreed to a deal with investment fund CVC Capital Partners, which would have seen the Spanish top-flight give up a percentage of its commercial rights for the next 50 years.

Despite rejecting the deal at the time, along with Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao, Laporta said that Barcelona could be open to a restructured deal in the future.

“We do not need more debt,” said Laporta. “I understand La Liga clubs are suffering. We have not ruled ourselves out of this operation but they have to change it. They are trying to reformulate the deal.”

Barca to play away from Camp Nou for a year

Laporta also confirmed that Barcelona will play at another stadium for up to a year when the club starts its planned modernisation of Camp Nou stadium.

Laporta said that he wants to begin the long-delayed overhaul of the Camp Nou in the summer of 2022. He added that the work will last three to four years, but that the team will only need to find another home for a maximum of 12 months.

“We are considering different possibilities, but the strongest candidate is the Johan Cruyff Stadium,” Laporta said.

Johan Cruyff Stadium is where the women’s team plays and forms part of the club’s training complex on the outskirts of Barcelona. With a capacity to seat only 6,000 spectators, Laporta said the club wants to increase that to 50,000 if the men’s team plays there.

Barcelona's Camp Nou stadium (AP)
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Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium is set to be redeveloped

Another option, Laporta said, would be for the team to play at the city’s Montjuic Stadium. The municipal facility hosted the opening ceremonies of the 1992 Summer Olympics and was home to Barcelona rival Espanyol for several years.

Camp Nou is already Europe’s largest soccer stadium with 99,000 seats. The club wants to increase its capacity to 110,000 while also refurbishing its surrounding area, which includes a pavilion for the club’s other sports, the museum and stores.

To finance the operation, Barcelona are in talks with Goldman Sachs for the investment bank to loan the cash-strapped club 1.5 billion euros (£1.27bn). The financing plan needs to win a vote by the club’s members.

Laporta inherited a club near bankruptcy when he won elections in March. He had also led the club from 2003-10.

“(The new Camp Nou) is fundamental for the viability of the club and its immediate future,” Laporta added. “The impact it will have for Barca is critical so that we can compete with our competitors who have already done what is needed.”

Real Madrid took advantage of last year’s pandemic lockdown, when no fans could attend matches in Spain, to spruce up its Santiago Bernabeu.

Barcelona’s plans to redo the Camp Nou have met with several delays over the past decade.

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Barca record £409m losses for 20/21 – what is going on?

Barcelona’s accounts presented a loss of €481m (£409m) for the end of the 2020-21 financial year – but how has it come to this?

In August, Barcelona president Joan Laporta opened up on the “very worrying” financial situation when revealing the club are €1.35bn (£1.15bn) in debt.

A summary of their accounts at the closure of the 2020-21 season shows the club recorded a 26 per cent, €224m (£191m), drop in revenue from the previous year, citing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic as a primary reason.

Barcelona said the estimated impact of Covid-19 is €181m (£154m), mainly due to the inability to open both the stadium and other club facilities.

Operating expenses increased by 19 per cent to €1.136bn (£967m), an all-time record figure at the club, while transfer income was €56m (£48m), a decrease of €92m (£78m).

Analysis: A complete mismanagement

LaLigaTV presenter Semra Hunter on Sky Sports News:

“What has happened here? The previous board completely mismanaged all of the funds and money they had at the club.

AP - Barcelona crowd round the referee vs Cadiz
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On the pitch, Barcelona are currently ninth in La Liga

“Laporta essentially reconfirmed they had €1.3bn in debt, and explained the reasons they got to that point. There are many reasons, but the most important are that they overspent on contracts, they overspent on salary raises, overspent on club management, on singings, and they made singings when they didn’t even have money, like Antoine Griezmann for example.

“On top of that they were paying for things on credit, so they would go to banks and ask for about €100m on a loan, and they would also do this without passing it through the general assembly, which is where the members of the club would vote on these.

“According to Laporta, they were all improvised, there was no financial planning, and in fact had they been a business, they’d have been in the red and would have had to file for bankruptcy, and would have been dissolved.

“But because this is Barcelona, as soon as this new board came in, they refinanced the whole project, and have tried to turn things around, cutting costs wherever they can. It’s going to take them a while to sort it out.”

Analysis: Why sacking Koeman could cost nearly €20m

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Spanish football expert Semra Hunter believes Barcelona president Joan Laporta is struggling to find a suitable replacement for manager Ronald Koeman, while the club may also have to pay the Dutchman €12m (£10.3m) if he is sacked

LaLigaTV presenter Semra Hunter on Sky Sports News:

“Koeman is still the manager, and a lot of that has to do with whether Laporta wants to spend the money on sacking him or not, and whether he can find a replacement, which at this time there isn’t.

“According to reports, sacking Koeman would mean a severance package of €12m. On top of that, there are reports that if he doesn’t complete a third season, they would have to pay him back the €6m that he put up to pay to the Dutch federation to break his contract to go and manage at Barcelona.

“So he would be owed around €18m to €20m, which is a huge amount of money for Barcelona to pay right now.

“They must decide whether they want to get rid of him, but it will be determined on whether Laporta can find a replacement for him, which at the moment they don’t currently have.”

Barca CEO explains club’s Super League support

FC Barcelona club President Joan Laporta pauses during a news conference in Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Aug. 6, 2021. Barcelona announced on Thursday Aug. 5, 2021 that Lionel Messi will not stay with the club. He is leaving after 17 successful seasons in which he propelled the Catalan club to glory, helping it win numerous domestic and international titles since debuting as a teenager. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)..
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Barcelona club president Joan Laporta

Barcelona’s CEO has said the club supported the European Super League to enforce tighter financial controls on teams as UEFA’s financial fair play (FFP) model plays into the hands of state-backed clubs such as Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City.

UEFA launched the FFP regulations in 2009 to aim to stop clubs running big losses through spending on players although the organisation relaxed the rules following the COVID-19 pandemic, removing the obligation to break even.

The rules came under scrutiny following Qatari-backed PSG’s transfer activities last summer, in which they signed Barca’s all-time top scorer Lionel Messi as well as Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Georginio Wijnaldum on free transfers while paying huge wages to beat their rivals to the players.

Abu Dhabi-controlled City, meanwhile, paid a Premier League record £100m to sign Jack Grealish from Aston Villa.

Debt-ridden Barca, by contrast, were forced to slash their wage bill this summer due to La Liga’s far stricter financial regulations. They have been allocated a maximum budget of €98m (£83m) for this season, a huge drop from €347m (£295m) last campaign.

AC Milan are the latest club to leave the proposed European Super League
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Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus are the only remaining supporters of the Super League

“For us the Super League was about creating a more attractive competition oriented around the issue of FFP. We have to make a deep reflection on what happened this summer,” Ferran Reverter told a news conference on Wednesday.

“UEFA is opening the door for clubs to inject money and the spending ratios are going wild. Along with La Liga, we believe in a more sustainable model. If UEFA keeps going down this path it will favour the state clubs while damaging Barca’s brand.”

UEFA did not immediately respond to Reverter’s comments.

President Aleksander Ceferin told the European Club Association last month UEFA was looking at a new model of financial control, without giving details.

“It is time to question the old ways and the traditional measures,” he said. “It is now time to seriously work together to put in place a true direct cost control system.”

Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus are the only remaining supporters of the Super League, which was announced in April but quickly unravelled following the withdrawal of the six English clubs and then Atletico Madrid, AC Milan and Inter Milan.

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Yaya Toure offers to help beleaguered Barca

Yaya Toure has offered his services to Barcelona amid one of the deepest crises in the club’s history.

The ex-Manchester City midfielder, who won the Champions League with Barca under Pep Guardiola in 2010, believes his former club will come through a tumultuous period on and off the pitch.

The 2019 La Liga champions are ninth in the table after winning just three of their opening seven matches, with boss Ronald Koeman under intense pressure to keep his job, amid a backdrop of financial chaos that includes more than £1bn of debt.

Toure offered his help to restore the club’s stature in a series of impassioned statements on Twitter in the wake of Barca’s 2-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid on Sunday.

Yaya Toure
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Toure won the Champions League with Barca under Pep Guardiola in 2010

He said: “My time at Barcelona was one of the best memories of my playing career.

“The club has decided to trust me when I was still a young player, yet to establish myself in the top leagues. I will forever be grateful to the club for what they have done for me.

“It may be a difficult time for the club but my belief for Barcelona is strong. I will always be available for the club should they need me anytime as my heart is forever with the club, the people and the fans.”

The 38-year-old, who retired last year after finishing his playing career in China, is currently an assistant coach of Russian club Akhmat Grozny and is doing his UEFA coaching badges.

Barca have decided to stick with Koeman for now, with president Joan Laporta publicly backing the Dutchman last week despite widespread reports in Spain that he had been searching for a successor, such as Belgium head coach Roberto Martinez.

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Barca president Laporta backs under-fire Koeman

Barcelona president Joan Laporta gave coach Ronald Koeman his backing on Saturday, saying the Dutchman deserves time to turn the club’s fortunes around.

Koeman has come under fire after Barca won just one of their last five games in all competitions, including a 3-0 humbling by Benfica in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Names such as Xavi Hernandez, Andrea Pirlo and Roberto Martinez have been linked to the job by local media.

Laporta, however, said he backed Koeman after holding clear-the-air talks with the 58-year-old.

“Koeman will continue as the Barca coach,” Laporta told the media ahead of Saturday’s LaLiga clash away to Atletico Madrid.

“We understand that he deserves a bit of margin for many reasons: He’s a Barca fan and legend for fans all over the world. He’ll stay on and deserves a margin of confidence.

“He loves Barca and decided to come here in a really tough time both institutionally and on a sporting front.

“After talking to him, I can see he’s got faith in the team… We spoke and it’s not true that we’ve got a tense relationship – it’s good and honest. I think we both think the same, to turn things around.”

Barca travel to champions Atletico seventh in the table, two points behind Diego Simeone’s side having played one game fewer, but five down on table-toppers and arch-rivals Real Madrid.

One reason behind Laporta’s stance might be the club’s dire financial situation: LaLiga’s Financial Fair Play controls mean the club have a budget of just 98m euros this season, and this week Barca confirmed that they posted a loss of 481m for last season.

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‘Nightmare!’ – Koeman pressure builds after new Barca ‘calamity’

Pressure has piled up on Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman after the club made their worst-ever start to a Champions League campaign with a 3-0 defeat at Benfica.

Barcelona were behind after just three minutes in Portugal, when Darwin Nunez scored at the near post.

He then added a penalty with 11 minutes to play, after Rafa Silva’s second-half strike, to match the scoreline by which Barca lost to Bayern Munich in their opening Group E fixture.

To compound Barcelona’s night to forget, Eric Garcia was sent off late on.

The Catalans are already five points behind La Liga leaders Real Madrid domestically and now face an uphill struggle. If they do not qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League, it will be for the first time since 2003/04.

Koeman: No point comparing us with past Barca teams

ROnaldo Koeman
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Ronald Koeman’s Barcelona have lost their first two Champions League games this season

Speaking after the match, Koeman said the players were still behind him but added that he did not know if the board felt the same after the Benfica game.

“As I’ve said just the other day, regarding my future I can’t say anything,” Koeman said. “Because I don’t know what the club is thinking in this respect, and I don’t want to answer any more questions on this because it is not in my hands. We’ll see.

“In the end the culprits [in defeat] are the coaches. But I think in many phases during the game we implemented our plan very well because we were superior to them. From 2-0 we had problems.

“But we had opportunities to score two goals in the game. We were not inferior except in effectiveness in the game.”

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Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman admits his future at the Nou Camp is out of his hands following a 3-0 defeat to Benfica in the Champions League.

Koeman added there was “no point” comparing his Barcelona team to those from the past, and says he has the confidence of the dressing room.

“There’s no point in comparing this with Barcelona teams of years gone by. That’s as clear as water. I can only give you my opinion of my work at the club – I feel backed by my players and their attitude.

“Where you have to win is with the players that we have, by playing our way. To have the ball and create opportunities and this we did. But if you don’t score, you don’t win the game.

Mundo Deportivo: 'Against the ropes' | Marca call it a 'total calamity'
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Mundo Deportivo: ‘Against the ropes’ | Marca call it a ‘total calamity’
AS said Barca were 'sunk', while Sport led with the headline 'This is a nightmare'
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AS said Barca were ‘sunk’, while Sport led with the headline ‘This is a nightmare’

“I understand that you see the final result and I accept it. When you win a game everything is calm and now we have lost a game so the future of the coach in this world [is in doubt] – you have to accept that and if you don’t then it’s better to leave.”

Barcelona president Joan Laporta backed Koeman last week but said the board would not shirk tough decisions if they needed to be made.

Barca’s sorry stats

  • Barcelona have lost their first two matches in a UEFA European campaign for the first time since the 1972-73 UEFA Cup, when they lost both legs to FC Porto and were eliminated.
  • Despite only taking charge of eight Champions League group stage matches as Barcelona manager, only Louis van Gaal (5 in 32 games) has lost more such matches with Barca than Ronald Koeman (3 in 8 games).
  • Barcelona have lost four of their last five Champions League matches (D1), as many as they lost in their previous 39 matches (W25 D10 L4).
  • Only one team has ever reached the Champions League knockout stages after losing their first two group stage matches with a goal difference of -6 or worse, as Barcelona have this season – Lyon in 2007-08, who reached the last 16.

Bayern thrash Dynamo Kiev

Robert Lewandowski scored twice in Bayern's big win over Dynamo Kiev
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Robert Lewandowski scored twice in Bayern’s big win over Dynamo Kiev

Meanwhile, Group E leaders Bayern Munich were a class apart as they hammered Dynamo Kiev 5-0 at the Allianz Arena, with Robert Lewandowski adding two more to his tally for the season. The Poland striker now has already scored 13 goals in nine games this term.

Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sane, and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting also got on the scoresheet as Bayern cruised to a victory which moves them two points clear at the top of the pool and underlines their status as a major contender for the crown.

English sides playing catch-up

Atalanta moved top of Group F with a 1-0 win over Young Boys, with Matteo Pessina hitting the net for the hosts, who had limited their Swiss visitors to just three shots at goal during the game.

Young Boys are now level with Manchester United, one point behind the Italian side, after Cristiano Ronaldo’s last-gasp heroics grabbed them victory over Villarreal.

Champions League Group F
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Champions League Group F

Chelsea also have ground to make up after their defeat to Group H leaders Juventus.

Also in that group, Zenit St Petersburg – who are now level on three points with Chelsea – racked up a club-record win in the Champions League by smashing four past Malmo, whose cause wasn’t helped by Anel Ahmedhodzic’s 58th-minute red card.

Champions League Group H
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Champions League Group H

In Group G, Salzburg’s Karim Adeyemi became the youngest player to score two penalties in a single Champions League match, as the 19-year-old helped his club to a 2-1 win at home to Lille, who responded via Burak Yilmaz.

And Ivan Rakitic penalty grabbed Sevilla a late equaliser as they drew 1-1 at Wolfsburg in the group’s other game. The Croatian coolly converted after Wolfsburg’s Josuha Guilavogui was sent off with five minutes remaining.

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