The weekend’s top games

A top-of-the-table clash in Portugal takes centre stage this weekend alongside tough tests for Premier League leaders Manchester United FC and Liga pacesetters FC Barcelona.

France: Stade Rennais FC v FC Girondins de Bordeaux (Saturday 20.00) UEFA Europa League contenders Bordeaux could leapfrog Rennes into fourth place with victory. However, Francis Gillot’s side’s seven-game unbeaten run in all competitions is not as impressive as it sounds – they have drawn their last five Ligue 1 fixtures, scoring just once in the last four. “If we keep playing like we have recently, we won’t win many More >

Barcelona breeze into last eight

David Villa and Alexis Sánchez both scored twice as FC Barcelona beat Córdoba CF 5-0, while Real Betis Balompié and Club Atlético de Madrid also progressed to the Copa del Rey quarter-finals.

 

FC Barcelona booked a Copa del Rey quarter-final meeting with fellow UEFA Champions League contenders Málaga CF by cruising past Córdoba CF 5-0. Córdoba already trailed 2-0 from the opening meeting and fell further adrift when Thiago Alcántara (17) swept in a finish from Alex Song’s lobbed pass. David Villa swiftly added a sumptuous second, wrong-footing Alberto Aguilar then flipping a shot over Mikel More >

‘Messi has made the Ballon d’Or his own’

The Spanish press heaped praise on Lionel Messi after the 25-year-old became the first man to win the FIFA Ballon d’Or four times. “He is”, said El Mundo, “beyond classification.”

 

In his native Argentina, it has been suggested that Lionel Messi’s winning of a record fourth consecutive FIFA Ballon d’Or is almost not newsworthy, such is the continuing regularity with which the 25-year-old is honoured. Not so in his adopted homeland, where debate has grown surrounding just how many individual titles the FC Barcelona striker can win before he retires. Spanish daily El País says Messi now More >

Barcelona still on top after derby win

Liga leaders FC Barcelona made a convincing start to 2013 by overcoming Catalan rivals RCD Espanyol 4-0 to move 11 points clear of Club Atlético de Madrid, who drew with RCD Mallorca.

 

 

Liga leaders FC Barcelona picked up where they left off last year by subjecting Catalan derby rivals RCD Espanyol to a 4-0 reverse and moving 11 points clear of Club Atlético de Madrid at the summit. Barcelona dropped just two points before the winter break and duly collected their 17th success from 18 league outings after Xavi Hernández lit the way on ten minutes, slotting in an Andrés Iniesta pass. Lionel More >

Latest rumors in the transfer market

Chelsea targets January move for Negredo

With Daniel Sturridge set to leave the club for Liverpool, Rafa Benitez is set to swoop in with a 15million pound move for Sevilla and Spanish international striker Alvaro Negredo.

Xabi Alonso close to Madrid extension

Real Madrid and Spanish international midfielder Xabi Alonso is close to a signing a one-year contract extension with Los Blancos.

Arsenal and Liverpool set to battle it out for Arda Turan

Arda Turan’s agent Ahmet Bulut says he has received offers from both Arsenal and Liverpool. The Turkish midfielder is hoping to continue his career More >

Ten-man Sampdoria beat leaders Juventus

Juventus spurned the chance to return eight points clear as they fell 2-1 at home to UC Sampdoria, who rallied from a goal and a man down, while Edinson Cavani starred for SSC Napoli.

Juventus missed the chance to restore their Serie A lead to eight points as they slumped to a 2-1 loss at home to ten-man UC Sampdoria, on a day when Edinson Cavani notched a hat-trick in SSC Napoli’s 4-1 defeat of AS Roma. Looking to respond to second-placed S.S. Lazio’s win against Cagliari Calcio on Saturday, Juve were given an early boost by Sebastian Giovinco’s 24th-minute penalty, Claudio Marchisio having More >
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