Boost For La Liga As Spanish Government Removes Ban On Fans

 

 

La Liga can take another step towards normality next season after the Spanish government confirmed on Thursday it has lifted its ban on fans attending stadiums. 

The exact capacity allowed in each stadium will be determined by regional authorities, with some restrictions still possible, especially in the north of Spain.

But the government giving permission for supporters to return is an important first step as La Liga clubs begin to recover financially from the Covid-19 pandemic.

La Liga president Javier Tebas said earlier this week he expects stadiums to be at least 70 per cent full at the start of the season in August.

“We can return let’s say to normality in terms of fans being allowed into stadiums,” Spanish health minister, Carolina Darias, said on Thursday, with the announcement applying both to La Liga and Spain’s ACB basketball league.

“It will have to be, as it was before, the regional authorities who determine the capacity,” Darias added.

Fans were allowed to return for the last two rounds of La Liga last season but in only five regions and with a limit of 30 per cent capacity and 5,000 people.

Spain is hosting four Euro 2020 matches in Seville at La Cartuja stadium, where a capacity of 30 per cent has been allowed.

Bilbao was Spain’s original host city but local authorities were unable to commit to supporters attending Athletic Bilbao’s San Mames.

The UK government announced on Tuesday the tournament’s semi-final and final will be able to be played in front of more than 60,000 fans at Wembley, which means the stadium will be at 75 per cent capacity.

Rakitic Extends Barcelona Contract Till 2021

Barcelona, Ivan RakiticBarcelona midfielder, Ivan Rakitic, celebrated the Catalans’ extraordinary Champions League comeback against Paris Saint-Germain by extending his contract at the Camp Nou.

The Spanish champions announced they have reached an agreement with the Croatian international for the renewal of his contract until June 30, 2021.

Barcelona also confirmed that his release clause will be set at 132.5 million dollars.

The 28-year-old has won eight trophies since joining Barcelona from Seville in 2014.

Fernando Torres In Stable Condition, Discharged From Hospital

Fernando TorresAtletico Madrid Striker Fernando Torres has been discharged from hospital after having tests on the head injury he suffered in Thursday’s 1-1 draw with Deportivo La Coruna.

The 32-year-old spent the night in the hospital after falling heavily in an aerial challenge with Alex Bergantinos.

Atletico confirmed scans showed he has “no traumatic alterations or injuries” and will need to rest for 48 hours.

The club finished the game with 10 men, having used all three substitutes.

Essien moves to Real Madrid on season-long loan

Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien joined Spanish champions Real Madrid on loan on transfer deadline day.

The Ghanaian re-joins former Blues boss Jose Mourinho, who brought him to England in 2005, at the Bernabeu.

The 29-year-old has often been touted as a box-to-box midfielder for his ability to exert boundless energy in supporting offensive and defensive play.

Essien can also play as a centre-back.

Essien began his career playing for Liberty Professionals in his home country. In 2000, he moved to France joining SC Bastia. Essien spent three seasons at the club appearing in over 60 matches before joining league champions Olympique Lyonnais in 2003.

At Lyon, Essien won back-to-back league titles in 2003–04 and 2004–05 and also played in the UEFA Champions League for the first time. During his five-year stint in France, he acquired French citizenship.

In 2005, Essien signed with Chelsea for a fee of £24.4 million and, at the time of his signing, was the most expensive African footballer in history.

At Chelsea, Essien helped the club win the Premier League in 2006 and 2010, as well as three FA Cups and one Football League Cup. In 2008, he appeared in the UEFA Champions League Final. He has won the Chelsea Goal of the season award twice, in the 2006–07 and 2008–09 seasons.

A Ghanaian international, Essien started at youth level as he represented his country at the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship and 2001 FIFA World Youth Championship with the latter team finishing as runner-up.

Essien made his senior team debut in January 2002 and has represented his nation at three Africa Cup of Nations tournaments and the 2006 FIFA World Cup, where Ghana reached the Round of 16. He is often referred to as the Bison for his tough tackling style, boundless energy and physical presence on the pitch.

Fabrice Olinga breaks La Liga youngest scorer record

Spain and Athletico Bilbao forward Iker Muniain Goñi‘s record as the youngest player to ever score a goal in the La Liga has been broken by Fabrice Olinga a Cameroonian who plays for Malaga.

16-year-old Olinga fronted for the Malaga team in a game that was the first of the new season against Celta Vigo.

Though he was brought in as a substitute but he led his team to victory, barely 25 minutes after his debut.

Presently the youngest player of Malaga, he was part of the “Samuel Eto’o Foundation” in Cameroon and in 2009, he arrived Spain to join the youth ranks of RCD Mallorca and was later persuaded by Málaga’s academy director, Manuel Casanova to join Málaga CF, a team where he played crucial role in the success of Málaga’s youth side as they reached the final of Copa del Rey Juvenil in 2012 even though he didn’t feature in the finals due to suspension.

Messi wins Excellence Sports Award

Barcelona striker Lionel Messi has won the Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Award (ESPY) for Best International Athlete.

The diminutive Barcelona star ended the 2011-12 season with a club record 73 goals, and helped his side to victories in the Spanish Supercopa, European Super Cup, the Club World Cup and the Copa del Rey.

The Argentinean skipper was fit throughout the season and that is the reason why he has managed to give out 63 appearances for both club and country. During these appearances, the Argentinean star has managed to score 80 goals and gave out 25 assists as well.

He played almost all the matches during this season and furthermore took part in the World Cup qualifying matches and the friendly games which the Argentinean national team played.

He also won the European golden boot, scoring 72 goals for the Spanish giants, Barcelona.

Though Messi could not help Barcelona win the Champions League or the Spanish La Liga, he was still the top scorer in both competitions. He was able to score 50 goals in the league, and scored 14 in the Champions League to be crowned as the golden boot for both tournaments.

Messi won the award for ‘Excellence in Sports Performance’, an award which was started back in the year 1993 after fans voted him of ahead of Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo and reigning US and Australian Open tennis champion Novak Djokovic and female golfer Yani Tseng to the prestigious honour, presented by sports broadcaster ESPN

Messi is the latest in a long line of sporting greats to receive the ward, including the likes of Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova and Usain Bolt.

Barca, Real reocrd wins ahead of Classico clash

The famous el-Classico comes up next week and both teams involved (Barcelona and Real Madrid) recorded wins to boost their morale ahead of the Champions League semis and the clash that might decide where the title will be heading come the end of the season.

Pepe (in White) tackling Barcelona's Mecurial Messi

Leaders Real Madrid will have a four-point advantage over chasing Barcelona when they meet at the Nou Camp for the second ‘Clasico’ of the campaign in a week’s time after the arch rivals both won in La Liga on Saturday.

Real, whose Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo broke his own Spanish record with his 41st goal of the campaign, came from a goal down to beat second-from-bottom Sporting Gijon 3-1 at the Bernabeu, before Lionel Messi equalled Ronaldo’s mark with both goals in Barca’s 2-1 comeback win at Levante in the late kickoff.

Real’s victory also meant Jose Mourinho’s side equalled the club’s Spanish record of 107 goals scored in a season set under Welsh coach John Toshack 22 years ago.

With five matches left, Real have 85 points, with Barca, who have trimmed six points from their arch rival’s lead in the past month, on 81, 29 ahead of third-placed Valencia, who play at Espanyol on Sunday.

 

Barcelona wins to mount pressure on Madrid

Defending champions Barcelona upped the pressure on leaders Real Madrid on Tuesday as they moved to within a point of their bitter rivals after a 4-0 thumping of Getafe.

Two goals from Alexis Sanchez, one from Pedro Rodriguez and Lionel Messi’s 39th in the league this season gave Barca a 10th consecutive league victory after another near perfect performance by the Catalans.

In the 22nd minute the home crowd chanted the name of Eric Abidal, the French international who on Tuesday underwent a liver transplant, in recognition of the number 22 shirt he wears as part of Barca’s squad.

Real can restore their four point advantage if they beat Atletico Madrid on Wednesday – they have not lost to their city rivals since 1999.

The clash between Barca and Madrid on April 21st in the Camp Nou has become increasingly important as the Catalans have reduced the gap on Madrid from 10 points to only one in less than a month.

Barcelona dominated Getafe throughout, controlling possession with their usual passing game and goalkeeper Victor Valdes summed up the situation on the final whistle.

“Our work is done here, lets wait and see what Madrid do tomorrow night in their game,” he said.

However coach Pep Guardiola was cautious about talking about his team’s title chances.

“All we can do is think about our games, we have a big game away to Levante at the weekend and then a Champions League semifinal, we have to focus on those games and nobody elses,” he said.

Andres Iniesta had the game’s first chance when his shot was tipped over by Miguel Angel Moya in the Getafe goal on 12 minutes.

A minute later and Barca were ahead. Iniesta started the move on the left for Messi to chest the ball into the path of the Chilean Sanchez who made no mistake from 20 yards out.

On 17 minutes the lead was almost doubled when Xavi Hernandez had appeared to finish perfectly a neat passing move only for Argentinian centre-half Cata Diaz to scoop the ball clear on the goal-line.

Barca continued to dominate but did not add to their lead until just before halftime when Iniesta supplied Messi with a delightful back flick for the Argentinian to finish with a powerful shot.

On 72 minutes Alexis doubled his tally heading home an inch perfect right-wing cross from youngster Isaac Cuenca.

Two minutes later and it was another header from Pedro who rounded off the scoring when he was quickest to meet a right-wing free-kick from Messi.