?A trio of Spain internationals are threatening to stand down from representing their country in a show of solidarity for team director Maria Jose Claramunt.
Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets all said that they will refuse to play for the national side if Claramunt was relieved of her duties.
Claramunt, as reported by the ?Sun, was officially fired on Thursday by Spanish FA Chief Juan Luis Larrea, and a number of senior squad members are understood to be unhappy with the way the news was broken to them (just before their recent game against Liechtenstein).
Ramos, Pique and Busquets supposedly stayed behind after that announcement was made to voice their displeasure, and threaten their withdrawals from the squad.
Interestingly, Larrea is now banned from the team’s dressing room and has not congratulated Spain on their World Cup qualification.
His election as FA Chief is under investigation, and calls have been growing for there to be a re-election within the RFEF, which could see Claramunt return to the fray.
Spanish supporters will be hopeful the situation can be resolved soon, and that the threats made by the star trio are not acted upon, especially with the World Cup getting ever closer.
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Spain qualified for the tournament in Russia with relative ease under Julen Loptegui and there is hope that they can go for glory and end germany’s recent international dominance.
Barcelona maintained their unbeaten start to their La Liga campaign with a 1-0 win over bottom side Malaga on Saturday evening, courtesy of goals from Gerard Deulofeu and Andres Iniesta.
Ernesto Valverde made four changes to the side that earned a respectable draw against Atletico Madrid last weekend with Sergei Roberto, Javier Mascherano, Lucas Digne and Deulofeu replacing Nelson Semedo, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba and Andre Gomes in the starting line eleven.
Under pressure Malaga boss Michel opted to make four changes from the side that suffered a disappointing home defeat to Leganes with Andres Prieto, Andrian Gonzalez, Jose Mauri and Gonzalo Castro coming in for Roberto Gago, Recio, Alex Mula and Juanpi.
With just two minutes on the clock Barcelona took a controversial lead when Digne combined with Deulofeu who poked home the full backs cross, with the Malaga players appealing for a goal kick. The goal was given by the referee with replays showing that the ball did go out of play and the goal shouldn’t have counted.
Iniesta then clipped a superb through ball for the onrushing Ivan Rakitic who couldn’t reach the ball under pressure from Prieto. The bottom side then grew into the game when Venezuelan Alberto Penaranda let fly from distance, but saw his effort deflected behind by Mascherano.
Castro then had a great opportunity to equalise when a Juan Carlos cross found the winger but he could only flick his diving header harmlessly wide of Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s far post. It was Castro who had another chance to equalise just before half time when a deep cross found him unmarked at the back post but could only miskick his chance.
The second half began with Malaga aware that they had potentially caught a lacklustre Barcelona on an off day and captain Roberto Rosales fired a speculative effort in with his weekend that Ter Stegen easily gathered. An unusually quiet Lionel Messi then had his first site of goal as he created space on the edge of the area but saw his low drive palmed away by the diving Prieto.
With the second half just over ten minutes old Barca doubled their lead when a darting Messi run resulted in the Argentine poking the ball to Iniesta who controlled the ball before drilling his left foot shot into the back of the net via a deflection of the helpless Rosales, leaving Prieto with no chance.
The Albicelestes looked deflated by the second goal and Luis Suarez was next to try his luck as he expertly spun away from Paul Bayasse before firing his chance into the side netting, as the Uruguayan’s frustrating season looked to continue. Keko then tried to pull his side back into the match when his first effort hit Digne before putting his tame rebound straight into the arms of Ter Stegen.
Semedo then replaced goalscorer Deulofeu, with Roberto moving to right wing, the converted full-back then presented Suarez with a golden opportunity to score Barca’s third after a strong run resulted in a low cross, with the former Liverpool man missing the target from three yards out.
Luis Hernandez then headed just wide for Malaga following a dangerous cross showing they still had signs of life left in them yet, as they threatened to find a way back into the match. Substitute Paulinho then tried to get himself on the scoresheet as he volleyed over, before the Brazilian forced Prieto into a good save.
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Messi then thought he added a third for his side but saw his effort ruled out for offside in the dying moments of the game, with Barca seeing out the game, to record a laboured win and maintain their four point lead over Valencia at the top of La Liga.
?You’d have to be quite gutsy to try trolling Lionel Messi, but it appears that Segunda B side Real Murcia have done just that, with the sides set to face each other in a Copa del Rey fixture on Tuesday.
Apparently, the Argentinian forward has played against the side on two occasions during his remarkable career and failed to score both times, something they’re immensely proud of. And they have now laid down a challenge, although it’s one he’s unlikely to take.
Messi might not play in the match as it’s still the round of 32, and Ernesto Valverde should mostly field Barcelona’s youngsters. Yet the superstar may be tempted to ask the boss to let him play if he gets wind of this.
The club put out a tweet on Thursday. And speaking from the perspective of their stadium, they wrote:
The new naming rights deal for Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium is predicted to be a very lucrative one for the club.
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu spoke about it during the members’ assembly on Saturday, adding that
The Camp Nou has been the home of Barcelona ever since 1957. In its long history, this stadium has hosted
Barcelona, who last year witnessed the highest revenue in club history, recently played against Las Palmas behind closed doors as a consequence of the Catalan elections and the turmoil that followed.
“We are not an instrument to be manipulated for political reasons, whatever they are. Nobody can take control of our crest or flag” pic.twitter.com/Aqk1Qpxunc
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) 21 ottobre 2017
The members of the assembly are thought to be voting for a naming rights deal at the beginning of 2018.
On Wednesday evening, during Barcelona’s Champions League showdown against Olympiakos, Lionel Messi was caught on camera while taking something out of his sock and eating it.
The gesture sparked debate on social media, where users started wondering what the Argentine star had taken and of what use it could have been.
General opinion suggested that it was either a glucose tablet or something sweet to keep energies up during such a fast-paced game, but Spanish website SPORT revealed that it was neither of them.
The Barcelona captain wasn’t actually in need of sugars, but rather of something to battle a problem with his stomach.
It wasn’t gum or a glucose tablet Messi pulled out of his sock. It was an Almax pill to help with stomach problems and heartburn. [sport] pic.twitter.com/5lyrnuvWhY
— BarçaSpiral (@BarcaSpiral) 20 ottobre 2017
Messi reportedly took a pill of Almax, a medicine that usually tackles acidity and heartburn. Barcelona’s captain has been affected by this problem before and has often been pictured feeling sick or actually being sick.
This pill certainly had the desired effect. Despite Pique’s early red card, Barcelona not only won by 3-1, but also, as usual, relied heavily on Messi, who scored two goals and confirmed his team as the undisputed group leader.
Whether it was just a sudden pain or something more recurring, the Argentine will have a chance to deal with it next week, as he asked manager Ernesto Valverde not to play him in Barcelona’s Copa del Rey match against Murcia.