Cristiano Ronaldo Wants Clasico Guard of Honour From Barca for Record-Breaking Madrid Side

?Following Real Madrid’s record-breaking Club World Cup victory on Saturday night, man-of-the-moment Cristiano Ronaldo sparked controversy in the aftermath of the game by saying that he’d like the Barcelona players to perform a guard of honour when the two sides lock horns for this weekend’s El Clasico.

Last night’s 1-0 win over Gremio saw Real register their fifth trophy in the calendar year, a feat which the team have never reached before.

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Ronaldo’s 30-yard free-kick eight minutes inside the second-half ensured that the trophy would be coming back to Spain for the fourth consecutive season, and the Portuguese couldn’t be happier to be the man to make it happen.

Reported by Spanish publication ?Marca, Ronaldo said: “I’m happy I scored the goal, very happy. I’m having a great season. Real Madrid had never won five titles in a year and we wanted it, it’s a record.”

Not only did the victory ensure Real’s record-breaking fifth trophy of 2017, but it also saw Madrid become the first ever side to win the Club World Cup in two consecutive seasons, while also winning the trophy for the record-equalling third time.

After Real’s recent endeavours, recently crowned Ballon d’Or victor Ronaldo deems his side worthy of a guard of honour, starting on Saturday when Madrid face up against arch-rivals Barcelona in an eagerly anticipated El Clasico.

“It would be nice and I would like Barcelona to give us a guard of honour,” said Ronaldo in the post-match press conference. “I hope we win that game too so that the league is still alive for Real Madrid. We have to enjoy every moment because we don’t know what will happen in the future.”

Though Ronaldo hasn’t been in his typical startling form so far this campaign, the 32-year-old has assured he still has the same hunger for the game and has no plans of hanging up his boots anytime soon.

“I talk on the pitch, I try to give my best and for people to enjoy my football. I don’t lack motivation to continue playing and training because I enjoy football. It’s what I like the most.”


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Football’s Ultimate Man-Manager: 7 Players Who Thrived Under Pep Guardiola

“All the managers in the world, it doesn’t matter how good you are, if your players don’t understand what you are looking for or what you want, it makes no sense” (Pep Guardiola).

With 21 major honours – including two UEFA Champions Leagues – to his name, Pep Guardiola has become one of the most successful and influential managers of the last decade. 

The aforementioned success is derivative of the current Manchester City manager’s unrivalled ability to bring out the best in his players, and nurture the talents of fledgling and faltering talents alike. 

Below is a list of seven players – past and present – who thrived under the guidance of Pep Guardiola… 

7. Pedro (Barcelona 2008-2012)

Promoted from Barcelona B to the first team by Pep Guardiola in the Summer of 2009, Pedro became one of the current Manchester City manager’s most effective offensive players during his tenure in Catalonia. 

In his first season under the guidance of Pep, the La Masia graduate became the first player to score in six different competitions in a single calendar year, and helped his side win La Liga with a then record 99 points. In the 2011 UEFA Champions League final, the Spanish international opened the scoring in a 3-1 win over Manchester United at Wembley. 

Cited by many as the perfect ‘pet project’ for Guardiola, he was able to make Pedro a hugely effective wide player with a keen eye for goal. Pedro’s fluctuating form in recent years at both Barcelona and Chelsea without the guidance of Guardiola, is a testament to how Pep was able to maximise the winger’s potential between 2008 and 2012. 

6. Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich 2015-2016)

“I have a lot to thank FC Bayern and the coach [Pep Guardiola] for. I don’t know if I’d have been playing for the France seniors so soon without the faith they showed me.” (Kingsley Coman to Bundesliga).

Hailed as a generational talent and a future ‘can’t miss’ attraction, Kingsley Coman signed for Italian giants Juventus. It seemed to be a perfect fit. In 2014, fellow French prodigy – Paul Pogba – was becoming an indispensable member of La Vecchia Signora’s starting line-up. 

However at Juventus, it was difficult to see what all the fuss was about regarding Kingsley Coman. The French youngster showed flashes of brilliance during his solitary Serie A campaign; but only flashes. While the prodigal talents of Pogba flurried; Coman floundered. 

With only one professional goal under his belt, Kingsley Coman was signed by Bayern Munich on an initial loan deal in August 2015. Within two months of his arrival in Bavaria, Pep Guardiola had made Coman into the player that so many had expected him to become. 

5. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City 2016-present)

Like Kingsley Coman, Raheem Sterling was a prodigal talent who was seemingly floundering. After bursting onto the scene during Liverpool’s 2013-14 title challenge – during which Sterling scored an impressive nine goals from a wide position – the English youngster had been largely considered a player with a turn of pace, but very little else. 

Sterling’s poor form continued into his first season at Manchester City in 2015-16. Despite being valued at an astonishing £44m the 23-year-old proved to be hugely underwhelming in first season at the Etihad. 

Since Pep Guardiola’s arrival in the Northwest however, we have a seen a new Raheem Sterling. A young man with a keen eye for goal; a knowledge of where and when to attack space, and a maturity on the ball. So far this season, Sterling has arguably been Manchester City’s most effective offensive player. Scoring a career best 15 goals already, it seems as though the sky’s the limit for Sterling under the tutelage of Guardiola. 

4. Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich 2013-2016)

“He [Pep Guardiola] had a very big impact on me; one of the biggest in my career, especially with the ball. I am more comfortable and confident to open the game and start the game.” (Jerome Boateng to Newsweek).

It is difficult to believe that once upon a time Jerome Boateng – arguably the best centre back in the world – was a failed full back at Manchester City, ostracised from a squad that he simply was not good enough to be a part of. 

Although Jerome Boateng had turned his career around prior to Pep Guardiola’s arrival in Bavaria, the Spanish manager undoubtedly added a new dimension to Boateng’s game. Once considered a purely physical talent, under the guidance of Guardiola, the 29-year-old became one of Europe’s most composed and technically proficient centre backs. 

Once a squad player at Manchester City, the German international is now the leader of the Bayern Munich dressing; largely thanks to Pep Guardiola. 

3. Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich 2015-2016)

“It’s the trademark of a good coach that he’s never satisfied, and that he always tries to improve you. He always wants to get the maximum out of you. After the match, he told me a few things I should have done better.” (Joshua Kimmich to Bavarian Football Works).

It was one of the defining images of Pep Guardiola’s time at Bayern Munich. The Spaniard stood in the centre circle of the Westfalenstadion passionately exclaiming to youngster – Joshua Kimmich – that he can be one of the best centre backs in the world; that he has everything. The conviction with which Pep Guardiola uttered these words proved to be the catalyst for Joshua Kimmich’s transformation into one of the most complete young footballers in Europe. 

Now considered to be the heir to Philip Lahm in both the national team and at Bayern Munich, the 22-year-old has taken the chance Guardiola gave to him and has ran with it. 

2. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City: 2016 – present)

Kevin De Bruyne’s talents were already explicitly clear by the time Pep Guardiola arrived at the Etihad Stadium. The Belgian international had already set the Bundesliga alight with mesmeric performances at Wolfsburg between 2013 and 2016. 

Winning the 2015 German Footballer of the Year and propelling VfL Wolfsburg to second in the Bundesliga table, the trequartista was already considered by many to be one of Europe’s most outstanding offensive talents. 

Under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola however, Kevin De Bruyne has become a much more complete central midfielder. The 26-year-old has thrived in his new role as a deep lying central midfielder, becoming the driving force behind Manchester City’s astonishing start to their 2017-18 English Premier League campaign. 

With a number of man of the match performances already under his belt in the league this season, De Bruyne is now widely considered to be the best player in England.  

1. Lionel Messi (Barcelona 2008-2012)

“Pep immediately transmitted an enormous amount of pride in our work, ambition and hunger. He won our confidence from the first day because we could see that things were being done correctly and then when results started to flow the confidence grew with them.” (Lionel Messi quoted by Manchester Evening News).

Like Kevin De Bruyne, Lionel Messi had already gained notoriety as one of the best players in the world. Utilised as a right winger by previous manager, Frank Rijkaard, the Argentine international was an integral member of Barcelona’s starting XI and widely considered to be a generational talent. 

It was under Pep Guardiola however, that Lionel Messi developed into arguably the greatest footballer of all time. The key to Messi’s development proved to be the Spanish manager’s decision to move the Argentine into a central role, known as the “false nine”. In this new role, the Argentine international blossomed into one of the most potent goal-scorers of all time, and a five time Ballon d’Or winner.

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Barca Boss Ernesto Valverde Gives Update on Injured Star Ousmane Dembele Ahead of Clasico

?Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has insisted he will not rush big-money summer signing Ousmane Dembele back into action after his long layoff, despite the first Clasico of the season on the horizon. 

The 20-year-old, who joined Barca from Bundesliga outfit Borussia Dortmund for around £94.5m during the most recent transfer window, has been sidelined since rupturing his thigh muscle in September. 

The player’s scheduled absence was set to end this month, with the hope that the Frenchman would be back in contention to start once again when the Catalonians travel to Real Madrid two days before Christmas. 

Despite returning to training, however, Valverde has offered some insight into Dembele’s current recovery status, and has stated he will not put the dangerous attacker’s rehabilitation in doubt by bringing him back too early. 

“[Dembele’s] been doing a lot more with the group this week, but he hasn’t completed a full training session yet”, Valverde told his pre-match press conference on Saturday, as quoted by Spanish news outlet ?SPORT.

“Next week we will increase his work load, but the plan is same as before. January is when we hope he will come back.

“It would be premature, risky, even, to bring him back [early]. Our idea at the moment is to leave it until January.”

With Real not featuring in this week’s round of La Liga fixtures due to their Club World Cup success on Saturday, Barcelona have the chance to stretch their advantage in the title race to 11 points over Zinedine Zidane’s side when they take on Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday. 

Despite Dembele still unavailable for the clash, there is positive injury news for the Catalans, with Andres Iniesta and Javier Mascherano set to make their returns after layoffs. 


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Liverpool Stars ‘Resigned’ to Coutinho Barca Departure With Rumoured £128m Deal Verbally Agreed

?Liverpool’s stars are “resigned” to seeing Philippe Coutinho depart Anfield for Barcelona in the January window.

The latest claim in the ongoing saga comes courtesy of ?Mundo Deportivo, who have alleged that the Reds’ senior squad have tried to convince their playmaker to stay in the Premier League until the end of this term.

Coutinho, though, has his heart set on a transfer to Nou Camp next month and the report goes on to suggest that a £128m deal has been verbally agreed between Liverpool and La Blaugrana.

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Coutinho has played on for Jurgen Klopp’s side throughout the current campaign despite his obvious desire to depart Merseyside and head for Spain.

The 25-year-old was denied a summer switch to Barcelona as Liverpool rejected four offers from the Catalan giants to lure him to the continent, but murmurings in recent weeks appear to suggest that a deal is almost inevitable.

Coutinho’s representative – Kia Joorabchian – has been a go-between for the Reds’ and Barca’s deal brokers as he apparently sought to instigate a compromise that would allow Coutinho to join Ernesto Valverde’s side in the winter window.

Part of that deal is believed to have come down to Coutinho agreeing to play for Liverpool during their Champions League campaign this term – a decision that would cup-tie him for Barcelona and prevent him from playing against his former club if they met in the latter stages of the tournament.

Liverpool’s senior stars such as Jordan Henderson, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane have spoken of their desire to see Coutinho stay with his current side, but they appear powerless to stop him from completing a dream switch to La Liga.

Klopp is already hard at work trying to find suitable replacements for Coutinho’s potential departure, with Monaco forward Thomas Lemar tipped to be a January recruit for the German boss.

Naby Keita, who is set to join Liverpool for a club-record £48m next summer, won’t be joining up earlier than anticipated, however, after Klopp dismissed reports of a potential January move for the Leipzig midfielder.


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Barcelona Suffer Blow as Gerard Deulofeu Looks Set to Miss El Clásico With Knee Injury

Barcelona have suffered a blow ahead of El Clásico next week, after winger Gerard Deulofeu looks set to miss the game with a knee injury picked up in training on Friday. 

The Catalan giants have confirmed that the former Everton man will be out of action for at least ten days.

In addition, Sport claim Deulofeu is likely to also miss the hotly anticipated clash against Barça’s fierce rivals Real Madrid. This is worrying news for fans of the La Liga leaders, as their summer signing Ousmané Dembélé is also unlikely to be back in time to face Zinedine Zidane’s champions.

Barcelona are currently leading La Liga by five points, with Real Madrid languishing eight points off in fourth place after an inconsistent start to the 2017/18 season. 

Barça will be desperate to get one over on their rivals – after having to witness Los Blancos claim a famous La Liga and Champions League double last season.

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Real Madrid are currently in Abu Dhabi, where they are currently playing in the Club World Cup after beating Juventus in last season’s Champions League final to book their spot in the competition. 

Deulofeu made a name for himself on loan at Everton from Barcelona in 2013, before playing for Sevilla the following season. Everton snapped up the talented Spaniard the following season, and his performances for the Toffees, and a successful loan spell with AC Milan, saw Barça re-sign their academy product at the start of this season.


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