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Neymar explains Barcelona exit: I wanted something bigger Featured

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Published in France Ligue 1
Friday, 04 August 2017 12:17
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  • Diego Simeone insists Barcelona are still not as good as Real Madrid

    Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone insists LaLiga leaders Barcelona are still not as good as Real Madrid.

    Barcelona visit Atletico's new Wanda Metropolitano home for the first time on Saturday night with a five-point lead over second-placed Sevilla.

    Ernesto Valverde's table-toppers have opened their campaign with seven straight wins.

    Barcelona are six points clear of fourth-placed Atletico and seven ahead of champions Real, who have made a stuttering start to the season.

    But Atletico boss Simeone told a pre-match press conference: "Barcelona are one of the best teams in the world, but Real Madrid are better now.
    "(Barca) Have reinvented themselves after the departure of Neymar. They do not stop wanting to win. They have a winning gene, they do not get tired."

    Atletico have not beaten Barcelona in 14 league games - a run stretching back to February 2010.

    Simeone has lost eight of his 11 league games since his appointment in December 2011, but he insists Atletico have always done themselves justice in the fixture.

    "We have not beaten Barcelona in the league, but we've always played well against them," Simeone said.
    "We tied the most important one, that was the one that gave us LaLiga (in 2013-14) and we have knocked them out twice in the Champions League. They did not beat us by chance, they are very good. But we have been more forceful in the Champions League and let's hope we can end that run in LaLiga."

    Barcelona are averaging over three goals a game in LaLiga this season and Lionel Messi has tormented Atletico down the years.

    Messi has scored 27 goals in 34 games against the Rojiblancos and fired Argentina into the World Cup finals in midweek with a hat-trick in Ecuador.

    Fellow Argentinian Simeone said: "I watched the Argentina match. Messi had that night that all Argentines wanted and asked for. For some who did not believe in him, he proved that he is the best in the world."

    Atletico defenders Filipe Luis and Lucas Hernandez missed the goalless draw at Leganes before the international break, but both players have recovered from their hamstring injuries and are available.

    Barca pair Andries Iniesta and Luis Suarez are fit after niggles and boss Valverde told reporters: "We know how important the game is.

    "Atletico are candidates for the league title, they are tough to break down and score against. They defend as a unit and are disciplined. It is a big game and the Wanda Metropolitano will have a spectacular atmosphere."

  • Diego Costa is better than Neymar and Eden Hazard, says Filipe Luis

    Atletico Madrid full-back Filipe Luis says his new team-mate, Diego Costa, is a better player than Neymar and Eden Hazard.

    Costa returned to his former club in September after a three-year spell at Stamford Bridge, where he helped fire the Blues to two Premier League titles.

    The Spanish forward is unable to play for Atleti until January due to the club’s transfer ban, but he has been training with his new team-mates since he arrived back in the country’s capital.

    And Luis has revealed that he is glad to have him back – with the pair having won La Liga during the 2013-14 season.

    “[Costa] is the best I have played with,” Luis told El Mundo.

    “I have seen [Juan Carlos] Valeron do things nobody could do. Neymar and [Eden] Hazard are amazing talents, but the player who gave me most trophies was Diego Costa.

    “He always scores the opening goal. Because it is one thing to score 30 goals with hat-tricks in easy wins, and another that 20 of those 30 goals are enough to win 1-0. Nobody does that as well as Diego Costa.”
    Luis, who also spent a year at Chelsea before returning to Spain, has backed Antoine Griezmann to stay at the club amid speculation he could join Manchester United.

    “Often players talk when they feel they are not being valued as they deserve. Then they get more attention.

    “He would have had many offers from many teams. A player of his size wants to be up with the biggest in terms of contract and value. And that is fair - as Griezmann is doing great here.
    “In the end, for all the talk about other clubs, he always wanted to stay here and he is still here, happy and liking it.

    “For sure, he can stay much longer. We hope the fans understand this and everything gets back to normal, although he has been scoring goals, and goals cure everything.”

  • Neymar’s PSG wish list included signing Alexis Sanchez – report

    PSG are reportedly attempting to sign Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez on a free transfer next summer, a move that was on Neymar’s wish list when he joined.

    Sanchez’s contract expires at the end of the season and he has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester City.

    The report from Le Parisien says that City remains a viable option but PSG are pushing hard to sign him.

    Sanchez was reportedly one of the players Neymar wanted PSG to sign when he joined, with the two friends from their time at Barcelona.
    Sanchez is attractive as he will be able to join on a free in a summer where PSG will sign Kylian Mbappe on a permanent deal from Monaco for a fee believed to be €180 million.

    The report adds that any potential deal for Sanchez could spell the end for Edinson Cavani in the French capital.

  • Gerard Pique: This has been my worst experience, I could quit Spain team

    An emotional Gerard Pique has said he will step down from Spain duty if his views on Catalan independence represents an issue for the Spain national team, and added that the match against Las Palmas was his worst experience as a professional.

    Pique, a vocal proponent of Catalan independence, spoke to assorted media in the wake of Barcelona’s match against Las Palmas.
    The Catalans won the match that was played behind closed doors after there were violent clashes following the disputed independence referendum.
    "If any directors or if the Spanish FA believe that I could be a problem or annoy the national team then I am willing to step aside," Pique said post-match.

    "I am proud of the Catalan people," a clearly emotional Pique added.

    " This has been my worst experience as a professional "
    “We have had seven years of demonstrations without violence and what happened today has been seen around the world.”
    Spanish riot police on Sunday burst into polling stations across Catalonia to try to halt the banned referendum on a split from Spain and Catalan officials said 337 people were injured in the crackdown, Reuters reported, with social media awash with videos of clashes.

  • PSG's Thomas Meunier reveals Neymar and Edinson Cavani to share penalty duties

    Unai Emery has told Neymar and Edinson Cavani to share Paris St Germain's penalty duties, Thomas Meunier has revealed.

    Neymar slotted a spot-kick amid no argument from Cavani as PSG hammered Bordeaux 6-2 to cement their lead atop Ligue 1 on Saturday night.

    The Brazil forward and Cavani argued on the field over a penalty in the 2-0 win against Lyon on September 17, but full-back Meunier revealed manager Emery has resolved the row.

    Meunier told reporters when asked about PSG's penalty-taking plan:

    " It was arranged with the coach before today. If there had been another penalty, it would have been for Edi (Cavani)."
    "It's been a good week. We were very, very effective today. The system allows us to attack very, very quickly."
    The Parisians battered Bordeaux at the Parc des Princes to claim a three-point lead on rivals Monaco, who could only draw 1-1 with Montpellier on Friday night.

    Neymar curled a fine free-kick and struck a penalty as PSG mercilessly swiped away Bordeaux's unbeaten start to the league campaign.

    Meunier, Cavani, Julian Draxler and Kylian Mbappe were all on target too, as the Paris powerhouses ensured they became the league's only side to move to eight games unbeaten.

    Bordeaux hit back through Younousse Sankhare and Jonathan Cafu's late penalty, but that scant consolation barely wobbled PSG from their lofty perch.

    Despite all the heralding of a stunning start to the new campaign amid Neymar's arrival from Barcelona as the world's most expensive footballer, Meunier sounded a note of caution.

    Montpellier held PSG to a goalless draw in their last Ligue 1 encounter, and not even the 3-0 midweek Champions League win over Bayern Munich could let Meunier forget that blip.

    "When Neymar has the ball we're pretty confident going forward, but we can still raise our level," Meunier told CanalPlus. "We are not unplayable. We saw against Montpellier that they resisted us well.

    "There will be teams that block us and it's up to us to get through."

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