Prosecutors want nine-year sentence for Alves in sexual assault trial

Prosecutors are seeking a nine-year prison sentence for Brazilian football star Dani Alves for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman last year, a Spanish court has said.

The 40-year-old is set to face trial over allegations he assaulted the woman in a nightclub in Barcelona on December 30.

The Brazilian was indicted by an investigative judge in August and the court said this month there was enough evidence to open a trial. A date for the hearings was not yet set.

The former Sevilla defender has denied any wrongdoing, claiming he had consensual sex with the accuser.

Prosecutors also want Alves to pay €150,000 (£131,000) in damages to the victim, and to be prohibited from having any contact with her for an additional 10 years. They also want Alves to remain supervised for a decade after serving his prison term.

Brazil's Dani Alves during the FIFA World Cup Round of Sixteen match at Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar. Picture date: Monday December 5, 2022.
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Ex-Brazil defender Alves has denied any wrongdoing, claiming he had consensual sex with the accuser

If found guilty, Alves would be prohibited from any type of work with minors for 10 years after his term, in accordance with Spanish law.

Under Spain’s new sexual consent law, the charge of sexual assault takes in a wide array of crimes from online abuse and groping to rape, each with different possible punishments. A case of rape could carry a maximum sentence of 15 years.

Alves has been in pre-trial jail since January, when he was arrested after an initial investigation by authorities.

All of Alves’ bail requests have been denied because the court has considered him a flight risk. The player had offered to turn in his passports and wear a tracking device while awaiting the court’s decision.

Prosecutors this week again opposed the most recent request for freedom made by Alves’ lawyers.

Alves won 42 major honours, including three Champions Leagues with Barcelona and two Copa Americas with Brazil. He played at his third World Cup last year in Qatar.

His lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Shakira awarded Latin Grammy by Ramos for Pique diss track

Shakira was presented with a Latin Grammy award by former Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos for a song mocking former Barcelona defender Gerard Pique. 

The song, Shakira: Bzrp Music Session, Vol 53, won Song of the Year and Best Pop Song at the awards. It ridicules Shakira’s former partner Pique and has become the most watched new Latin song in YouTube’s history.

Sevilla defender Ramos, 37, was on stage to present Shakira with the award.

Despite being successful team-mates internationally, Ramos and Pique held a long-term rivalry at the club level as Real Madrid and Barcelona battled it out for top honours in La Liga and the Champions League.

Colombian pop star Shakira and now retired footballer Pique announced their split in June 2022 after more than 11 years together.

Pique, 36, later struck up a relationship with then 23-year-old Clara Chia.

In the track, Shakira sings: “I’m worth two 22-year-olds” and “you swapped a Ferrari for a Twingo”.

In her speech, Shakira thanked fans for being with her through “difficult moments”, widely thought to be a reference to her split with Pique, and dedicated the award to the Spanish public.

How Barcelona’s talent factory continues to thrive

Thirty-three seconds. That is all that 17-year-old Marc Guiu needed to score on his debut for Barcelona last month. His mother was in tears. Xavi was vindicated. Just the latest example of the club’s trust in La Masia, their famed academy, being rewarded.

There is Gavi and there is Pedri, there is Lamine Yamal and there is Fermin Lopez. Now, there is Guiu. His Instagram account had 44,000 followers before that kick of the football. Within hours, it had topped one million. Another overnight success story, or so it seems.

The truth is a little different.

Barcelona's Marc Guiu celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao, at the Olympic Stadium of Montjuic in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort )
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Marc Guiu’s breakthrough goal against Barcelona was a decade in the making

“Now, everybody is talking about Marc Guiu,” Albert Capellas tells Sky Sports. “But he arrived at the club 10 years ago when he was seven years old. That means that the club has had to wait 10 years before he could play for the first team. It is a long time.”

Capellas spent more than a decade working in Barcelona’s academy himself. He was there when Xavi, Andre Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and, of course, Lionel Messi, transformed the game and showed that could be done with a team built around academy graduates.

He does not talk of coaching those greats but learning from them. “I trained Iniesta for several years and I always say that Iniesta came into this world to show us how to play football. It is the same with Busquets. You do not correct them. They show you the way.”

And yet, he knows how difficult it is to go on that journey through Barcelona’s academy. Especially when it is so tempting for clubs to opt for a quicker fix. “In football, you do not get time, and that makes these long-term projects more difficult to achieve,” says Capellas.

“This is why it makes sense for clubs to start with a different strategic model to Barcelona. Because when they sign players at 16, if they are very good they can play for the first team in a few years. You can get the advantage from your investment very quickly.”

With Guiu, considerable patience was required. “When he was young, he could not play because he had problems growing. He had pain in his knees and there was a long period, from the age of 13 to 15, when he could not train and he missed a lot of games.”

That could have been that if the culture had been different. “At a lot of clubs, if you cannot train or play, you have to leave the club. At Barcelona, we know the level of the players. We give them time. We do not take these crazy decisions on young players.”

Perhaps it is that longevity at La Masia that helps make the difference in the end. A teenager signed from elsewhere might be a surer thing, but they would not be steeped in the style of play, the philosophy and values that Capellas and others take such pride in.

“Johan Cruyff showed us the way to have success,” he explains.

“There are a lot of things involved when we talk about DNA. The first team, the academy, the way of developing young players, the way of playing, the way of thinking, the way of making decisions, the way of scouting. Cruyff changed everything at the club.

“The first thing that he changed was the winning mentality of everyone at the club. When he arrived, we were happy to win one cup every two or three years. The second thing is that he was there eight years. That is a lot of time to show everyone how he thinks.

“All of the academy teams were playing in the same way as the first team, with the same concepts, the same way of thinking, the same drills, the same exercises. After eight years of everyone working in the same direction, you could see how powerful that was.

“It is one thing to tell a player to scan around. It is another to create an environment in training that you force the players to scan around. Because in football, it is not about what you know, it is about what you do. What we create in Barcelona is an environment.

“Everybody knows that you need a good body shape, for example. The difficult thing is to make it happen. At Barcelona, we train in a way that our players learn how to position themselves better. To instil this in their muscle memory so that it becomes automatic.”

The result is that what might appear from the outside to be the biggest step is more straightforward than it might appear. Ansu Fati scored within a week of his debut aged 16. Lamine was the same age when he was man of the match in just his second start.

Barcelona's Robert Lewandowski, left, celebrates with Lamine Yamal after scoring his side's fourth goal during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Villarreal and Barcelona at the Ceramica stadium in Villarreal, Spain, Sunday, Aug. 27, 2023. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)
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Barcelona youngster Lamine Yamal celebrates with Robert Lewandowski

“Barcelona are never afraid to give opportunities to players from the academy because they are educated in the club’s way of thinking so when they arrive to the first team, it is very easy for them. They have lived with this kind of pressure all of their lives.

“When I would talk to players from the academy who were given their chance in the first team, they would say, ‘Albert, it is much easier than playing for the academy.’ Of course. You are surrounded by better players and you are a good player so it is easy for you.

“When you get the ball, the other players are always available in open lanes for the passes. When you receive a pass, it is always a good pass. Never a bouncing ball. Always to the correct foot with the right timing. Look at Marc Guiu’s goal against Athletic.

“Why did he have success? Because he had Joao Felix next to him who could see the pass at the right time with the right speed. That is why he had the chance because he had the players around him. Of course, he still had to finish the chance and he did it well.”

Marc Guiu scored the winner against Athletic Bilbao on his Barcelona debut aged 17
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Marc Guiu scored the winner against Athletic Bilbao on his Barcelona debut aged 17

Capellas returned to Barcelona for a third stint within the academy in 2021, working closely with this current crop of young talent, before departing once more. Barcelona will always be his club. Which explains his stance when that DNA is questioned.

Former player and manager Ernesto Valverde did just that earlier this year, suggesting that the Cruyff DNA was overplayed. “Having had him as a coach leaves its mark on you,” said Valverde.

“But the DNA thing is a bit of a myth. When a good player emerges, they say, ‘He has Barcelona DNA’. When there is a bad player, ‘That one doesn’t have the DNA’.”

Those words caused a stir in Catalunya.

“I understand his comment because when I watched his team play when he was coach of Barcelona he was not playing that Barcelona style,” says Capellas.

“It was a good style and he won trophies. He had some success. Fair enough. It is not a problem. But it is not the way that we play football at Barcelona. In the period of Valverde, he did not give opportunities to the young players. That is also not our style.

“What I cannot accept is when he says it is a myth. It is not a myth. It is very important for us and we believe in it profoundly and deeply. It is not a problem for me that he feels that way. What I do not accept is that he undervalued what is happening in La Masia.”

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Albert Capellas explains how Barcelona prioritise scanning and body shape

What is happening at La Masia is that another wave of talent is emerging. Capellas is excited about the “exceptional” Lamine. “I do not want to compare him to Iniesta or to Messi but I can say that he is a very special player who will make the difference in football.”

Guiu has different qualities. “He is not a player with unbelievable dribbling skills but he is a finisher who can run from deep. He is fast, powerful, very good at heading, very competitive. He is exceptional in his position and has the right mentality, a fantastic boy.”

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Kaveh Solhekol dissects why Barcelona president Joan Laporta is under investigation

Given the financial restrictions at Barcelona, could the academy be their salvation again? “Without money, the academy is even more important. Our best periods have always been the same way. Fifty per cent from the youth team supplemented by the best.”

“It is not just about having the idea, you have to convince the people around the club, build the story, build the values of the club. Not just with coaches but with scouts and parents and agents, everyone. You have to create a culture. That takes years and years.

“When the bad moments come and you do not have success, you lose years if you change direction. If that does not work and you want to come back to the original direction, you have lost years too. It is about staying strong when things are not going well.”

And then, after 10 years, or 33 seconds, you receive your reward.

CL round-up: Giroud scores winner as Milan beat PSG | Shakhtar shock Barcelona

Olivier Giroud’s powerful header early in the second half gave AC Milan a 2-1 Champions League home win over Paris Saint-Germain in a pulsating Group F contest on Tuesday.

Former Inter Milan defender Milan Skriniar had put PSG ahead but their advantage lasted only three minutes before Rafael Leao netted an acrobatic equaliser and Giroud then sealed a precious victory just after the break in front of 75,649 supporters at the San Siro.

Milan Skriniar had given Paris Saint-Germain an early lead
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Milan Skriniar had given Paris Saint-Germain an early lead

The game was played at a frenetic tempo in the first half with end-to-end action and, while the pace inevitably slowed in the second period, it was an absorbing clash in which Milan had to hold on at the end as PSG piled on the pressure.

Milan now have five points from four games in third behind second-placed PSG with six points. Leaders Borussia Dortmund have seven points after winning 2-0 earlier on Tuesday at home to Newcastle who are bottom on four points.

Shakhtar Donetsk 1-0 Barcelona

Danylo Sikan’s towering header gave Shakhtar Donetsk a stunning 1-0 victory against LaLiga champions Barcelona in their Group H fixture.

It was a disappointing display from the Spanish side who won their first three games in the competition and needed one point to book a place in the last 16 with two games remaining.

Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez made several changes to his starting line-up and, despite dominating possession throughout the match, struggled against a well-organised Shakhtar defence, earning only one shot on target in the game.

The Ukrainian side, playing in Hamburg, were aggressive on the counter-attack, with Sikan giving them a shock lead against the five-time European champions in the 40th minute.

Shakhtar Donetsk beat Barcelona
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Shakhtar Donetsk beat Barcelona 1-0 to keep their qualification hopes alive

The 22-year-old forward jumped behind defender Andreas Christensen to meet a Giorgi Gocholeishvili cross from the right touchline and nodded the ball just out of reach of Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the Barca goal.

Barca were unable to threaten opposition goalkeeper Dmytro Riznyk until Xavi made four substitutions at once in the 60th minute, with Joao Felix and Lamine Yamal coming off the bench to give the visitors a much-needed spark.

However, Shakhtar held firm against some late pressure to seal the three points.

FC Porto 2-0 Antwerp

Porto stayed on course for a place in the last 16 with a 2-0 home victory over 10-player Antwerp thanks to Evanilson’s first-half penalty and veteran Pepe’s late header in Group H.

Brazilian Evanilson, who had netted a hat-trick when Porto beat the Belgians 4-1 away in their previous meeting last month, tucked away a 32nd-minute penalty after a clumsy foul by Gyrano Kerk on Stephen Eustaquio.

Porto's Evanilson celebrates scoring his side's first goal during a Champions League Group H soccer match between Porto and Antwerp
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Evanilson scored Porto’s first goal in their home win over Antwerp in Group H

Porto dominated the game after Antwerp midfielder Jurgen Ekkelenkamp was sent off seven minutes into the second half.

However, despite their numerical superiority, Porto had to wait until one minute into stoppage time for their second goal, headed home by the 40-year-old Pepe.

The result sees Porto move level on nine points with leaders Barcelona, with both sides three points ahead of Shakhtar Donetsk.

Antwerp’s fourth consecutive defeat means they have no chance of a top-two finish, even with two matches left to play.

Red Star Belgrade 1-2 RB Leipzig

Goals from Xavi Simons and Lois Openda gave RB Leipzig a 2-1 win against Red Star Belgrade in Group G to secure a place in the knockout stages.

Leipzig took the lead after eight minutes when Simons found space inside the box and curled a superb shot into the right corner for his second Champions League strike, having also scored against the Serbs a fortnight ago.

Leipzig's team players celebrate after Xavi Simons scored the opening goal during the Group G Champions League soccer match between Red Star Belgrade and RB Leipzig
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RB Leipzig celebrate Xavi Simons’ opening goal against Red Star Belgrade

The visitors were dominant and could have doubled their lead before half-time, but Red Star keeper Omri Glazer twice denied efforts from Openda.

The Belgium international, however, found the net in the 77th minute in a blow to the hosts, who had looked more aggressive in the second half.

Red Star pulled one back through Benjamin Henrichs’ own goal in the 81st minute but they could not find a leveller and fell to a third defeat in four games.

The German team remained second with nine points, three behind leaders Manchester City, who beat Young Boys 3-0 to qualify for the next round. Red Star are on one point, the same as the Swiss side.

Lazio 1-0 Feyenoord

A first-half goal by Ciro Immobile handed Lazio a 1-0 home win over Feyenoord to move Maurizio Sarri’s side up to second in Group E.

Lazio captain Immobile put the hosts ahead in first-half stoppage time after he rounded visiting goalkeeper Justin Bijlow and struck low from a tight angle towards the far post for his 200th goal for the Italian side.

Lazio are second on seven points from four games, one point behind leaders Atletico Madrid who hammered Celtic 6-0 in the other group fixture.

Dutch side Feyenoord, who came into the game top of the standings, dropped to third on six points.

How did the British sides get on?