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For Barcelona, LaLiga is won in Madrid
Editorial

For Barcelona, LaLiga is won in Madrid

Not for the first time Barcelona travel to Madrid with LaLiga on the line, and Real Madrid's loss at Estadio Mestalla has filled the Catalan club with belief after it had seemed they were left for dead in the aftermath of the Paris Saint-Germain debacle.

It has therefore been a change of heart for Barcelona and the trip to the Estadio Vicente Calderon is now seen in a different light, hoping to prove themselves worthy title contenders with a win over Diego Simeone's side.

A win in Madrid would give Barcelona a huge moral boost that could lead to a late push for the LaLiga title.

"To win LaLiga, Barcelona have to win in Madrid," Pep Guardiola said years back when still in charge, and a 2-6 scoreline agaisnt Real comes to mind.

In recent seasons, travelling to the Calderon has been almost as important as the Clasicos at the Estadio Bernabeu, and there is little doubt that if Barcelona want to retain their title, they'll have to win in Madrid first.

Super sub Le Bihan gives Nice precious win over Montpellier

Second-half substitute Mickael Le Bihan scored twice to give Nice a last-gap 2-1 home win over Montpellier as the Azureans kept their Ligue 1 title hopes alive on Friday.

Le Bihan, who replaced Anastasios Donis just before the hour, struck in the 68th and 86th minutes after Steve Mounie had opened the scoring for Montpellier early in the match.

The victory lifted Nice up to second with 59 points from 27 games, level on points with Monaco but behind the leaders on goal difference.

Third-placed Paris St Germain, who have 56 points, travel to bitter rivals Olympique de Marseille on Sunday while Monaco go to En Avant Guingamp on Saturday.

With first-choice striker Alassane Plea out until the end of the season and the suspended Mario Balotelli also missing, Nice struggled early on.

Mounie put the visitors ahead from close range in the ninth minute after poor defending.

Nice, however, struck back shortly afterwards when Le Bihan, playing his first league game since September, 2015, equalised with a low shot from just outside the box.

A right-foot cross shot from the edge of the area by Le Bihan sealed a deserved victory for Lucien Favre's team.

Ranieri: My dream has died

Claudio Ranieri said his "dream died" when he was sacked by Leicester City nine months after leading them to the Premier League title against all the odds.

The Italian was fired on Thursday with Leicester one place and one point above the relegation zone.

"Yesterday my dream died," Ranieri said in a statement on Friday. "After the euphoria of last season and being crowned Premier League champions all I dreamt of was staying with Leicester; the club I love for always. Sadly this was not to be."

Ranieri's dismissal has been met with widespread shock.

"The adventure was amazing and will live with me forever," the 65-year-old manager said.

"My heartfelt thanks to everybody at the club, everybody who was part of what we achieved, but mostly to the supporters. You took me into your hearts from day one and loved me. I love you too."

Leicester started last season as 5,000-1 outsiders to win the English top-flight title for the first time in their history.

"No-one can ever take away what we achieved together and I hope you think about it and smile every day the way I always will," Ranieri said.

"It was a time of wonderfulness and happiness that I will never forget. It's been a pleasure and an honour to be a champion with all of you."

Mancini at short odds to become next Leicester manager

Former Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini is the bookmakers' favourite to replace compatriot Claudio Ranieri as Leicester City manager after the Italian was sacked by the Premier League champions on Thursday.

British bookmaker Sky Bet was offering odds of 6/4 on Mancini taking over relegation-threatened Leicester, while William Hill had the 2011-12 Premier League-winning coach at 13/8 as of 0520 GMT on Friday.

Mancini, who left Inter Milan last August, won the Premier League with City in 2012.

Former Leicester manager Nigel Pearson is second-favourite for the job, with Alan Pardew, Guus Hiddink, Neil Lennon, Frank de Boer and Gary Rowett the other leading contenders.

The affable Ranieri is a hugely popular figure after leading 5,000-1 outsiders Leicester to the title last season, even though the team is currently just a point and a place above the relegation zone.

In England, well-known soccer pundits were quick to criticise his dismissal, with former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher calling it an "absolute joke".

"I think a lot of people wouldn't have wanted to see Leicester go down with Ranieri as the manager but I think a lot of that sympathy will go now," Carragher told Sky Sports.

"They were everyone's second team but that's well gone now... I'm devastated for him. A lot of questions have got to be asked of the owners and of the players.

"I think they should have a statue of him there and I think they should start that in the morning."

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, who was sacked by Chelsea in Dec. 2015, less than a year after winning the title, posted a message of support for Ranieri on Instagram.

"Champion of England and FIFA Manager of the Year. Sacked. That's the new football, Claudio. Keep smiling AMICO (friend). Nobody can delete the history you wrote," said Mourinho, whose last game in charge of Chelsea ended in defeat by soon-to-be champions Leicester.

El Clasico in Miami on July 29

The organisers of the International Champions Cup have decided that a pre-season El Clasico will take place in Miami on July 29.

It won't be the only date that Barcelona will play in the United States either, with games against Juventus (July 22) and Manchester United (July 25) also lined up.

RAC1 announced the dates, already known to MARCA, on Friday morning.

Atletico Madrid have six months to complete a nine-month job

The interior of Atletico Madrid's new Estadio Wanda Metropolitano is set to be completed on time, with the laying of the pitch expected by the second week of July, yet there is a race against time to complete works on the access to the stadium.

Madrid City Council will only permit Los Rojiblancos to move into their new home in September if extensions to and new junctions for the surrounding motorways are completed on time, but only six months remain to finish this job which would require nine months under normal circumstances.

"As we only have six months to complete a nine-month job, it will be worked on in three shifts," the club's CEO Miguel Angel Gil Marin has revealed.

"We will open it one way or another, as there's no plan B."

The club even had to agree a deal to fund the essential works, even though the local government had been expected to take care of them.

In total, they are expected to fork out 44 million euros for the on the M-40 road, for other motorways and for parking, although they are due to receive more than 20m euros of that back.

"A huge differential will be generated, but the plan is for it to have paid itself off within six or seven years," the Atletico chief said of the outlay.

Gil Marin also took the time to show Real Sociedad Jokin Aperribay, who is planning a stadium redevelopment for his own club, around the building site.

Bonucci dropped after another Allegri dispute

Aside from the result on the pitch, the subject of conversation following Juventus's Champions League victory against Porto stemmed from a look of dejection on the face of Leonardo Bonucci, banished to the stands by coach Max Allegri.

The decision was made after a changing room bust-up between the pair at the end of Juve's victory at Palermo, and the drama intensified after Allegri had dismissed comments from the 29-year-old explaining his fatigue.

Threatening to resign if he was not allowed to remove Bonucci from the starting lineup against Porto, the Juventus hierarchy had no other option but to accede to the request.

Bonucci is now the sixth player with whom Allegri has publicly had problems with this season.

Cuadrado, Dybala, Lichtsteiner, Khedira and Mandzukic have all butted heads with the 49-year-old during the campaign yet despite the controversy, Juve can still set the record for consecutive Scudetti (6) and Coppa Italia (3).

Their hopes of Champions League glory are also still alive.

 

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