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Player ratings as Los Blancos claim derby win

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Real Madrid survived a late scare to beat city rivals Atletico Madrid 2-1 and claims local bragging rights, as well as maintain their perfect start to the new season with a ninth win in all competitions.

Rodrygo and Federico Valverde each scored fine goals in the first half to provide a commanding lead. Atletico substitute Mario Hermoso, who was eventually sent off in stoppage time, pulled one back to threaten a comeback but it was too little too late.

Even from the early stages the derby atmosphere was clear to see. There were a few scuffles between players in those exchanges, played with high intensity and strong tackles.

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Rodrygo helped create the opening goal before he scored it, cutting in from the left and feeding Aurelien Tchouameni before continuing his run into the box. The ball came back to him and the young Brazilian was able to finish impressively first time beyond Jan Oblak.

Despite initially starting well, it was midway through the first half when Atletico caught their first real sight of goal as Antoine Griezmann drove forwards and tested Thibaut Courtois’ reach with a good effort. Geoffrey Kondogbia had earlier just missed the target with a long-range effort at 0-0.

The Real goal had actually taken a little bit of sting out of Atleti and the second goal 35 minutes in was hardly surprising. Vinicius Junior was sent racing through by a one-two with Luka Modric. He hit the inside of the post, but the rebound was followed in by a red hot Valverde from a tight angle.

Danger signs still persisted, with Yannick Carrasco forcing Courtois into a smart save soon before half-time after the Belgian winger had twisted Dani Carvajal inside and out. But once the second half began, Atleti’s early fizz faded even more and Real assumed near total control.

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With fairly little coming from the hosts and the visitors with a comfortable lead, the second period progressed without that much in the way of proper action. Diego Simeone rang the changes, putting Matheus Cunha, Alvaro Morata and Angel Correa into the game, yet it made minimal difference.

Real were cruising and should have been able to see things out without problem. But a set-piece and a lapse of concentration handed Atletico an unexpected lifeline. Off his shoulder, Hermoso capitalised after Eder Militao inadvertently diverted a corner away from Courtois’ punch.

Hermoso was ultimately on the field for less than 20 minutes, booked a second time for a shove on Dani Ceballos at a corner and given his marching orders as a result. In the end, the dismissal killed what spirit Atleti had managed to briefly recapture.

Antoine Griezmann

Antoine Griezmann actually played more than half an hour / Angel Martinez/GettyImages

GK: Jan Oblak – 5/10 – Fewer saves than goals conceded.

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CB: Felipe – 5/10 – Failed to connect with an attempted acrobatic clearance seconds before Real scored.

CB: Axel Witsel – 6/10 – Another night in defence. Wasn’t facing proper ‘strikers’ and the movement of Real’s front three was tough to control.

CB: Reinaldo – 6/10 – Strong on the cover but took a first half yellow card. He had to watch his step after that but seemed to cope reasonably well.

RWB: Marcos Llorente – 5/10 – Had his work cut out trying to get forward when he had to keep an eye on Vinicius going the other way.

CM: Koke (c) – 6/10 –
Did well but it wasn’t enough.

CM: Geoffrey Kondogbia – 6/10 –
Ran all over the pitch but most of his time was chasing the ball.

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CM: Rodrigo de Paul – 6/10 – Had done ok without excelling but ended up being sacrificed for a tactical shift.

LWB: Yannick Carrasco – 6/10 – Showed creative promise.

ST: Antoine Griezmann – 7/10 –
Starting for the first time this season. Brought a good save out of Courtois and was the most obvious source of danger.

ST: Joao Felix – 4/10 – Not really in the game at all. Hooked after an hour and went straight down the tunnel.

SUB: Matheus Cunha (62′ for Felix) – 5/10

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SUB: Alvaro Morata (62′ for De Paul) – 5/10

SUB: Mario Hermoso (72′ for Carrasco) – 6/10

SUB: Angel Correa (73′ for Koke) – 5/10

SUB: Saul Niguez (81′ for Konogbia) – N/A

Coach: Diego Simeone – 6/10 –
His team started brightly but lost that fizz after going behind and he couldn’t find a way to recapture it. The goal was a little too late to matter.

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Federico Valverde

Federico Valverde was electric again / Angel Martinez/GettyImages

GK: Thibaut Courtois – 6/10 – Made a few good saves when called upon. Not commanding enough for the goal conceded.

RB: Dani Carvajal – 7/10 –
Enjoyed some crucial defensive moments.

CB: Eder Militao – 6/10 – Back from injury and hardly misplaced a pass. Probably should have done better when Atletico pulled one back.

CB: David Alaba – 6/10 – Largely able to play with the game in front of him and was pretty comfortable on the whole.

LB: Ferland Mendy – 6/10 –
Able to get forward pretty well.

CM: Luka Modric (c) – 7/10 – His killer pass made the second goal possible.

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CM: Aurelien Tchouameni – 8/10 – Perfectly weighted lofted through ball to set up the breakthrough goal. Won it back well too.

CM: Toni Kroos – 7/10 – Strong passing and often looked forward.

RF: Federico Valverde – 8/10 –
Able to break the lines with his direct running and asked questions by moving all over the pitch. His red hot form was rewarded with another goal.

ST: Rodrygo – 8/10 – Kept his eye on the ball all the way onto his foot to open the scoring in fine fashion.

LF: Vinicius Junior – 8/10 – Unlucky not to score himself but was a constant threat and contibuted to the win al the same.

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SUB: Antonio Rudiger (74′ for Mendy) – 6/10

SUB: Eduardo Camavinga (82′ for Modric) – N/A

SUB: Marco Asensio (86′ for Kroos) – N/A

SUB: Dani Ceballos (86′ for Rodrygo) – N/A

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Coach: Carlo Ancelotti – 7/10 – Faced with the continued absence of Karim Benzema but got it right. Forced to then think later on as Atletico threatened a comeback but saw it out.

Player of the match: Federico Valverde

For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!





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Football

Barcelona still owe €50m for Miralem Pjanic & Philippe Coutinho transfers

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Barcelona are thought to still owe as much as €144m on various incoming transfers from years – including €50m on Miralem Pjanic and Philippe Coutinho alone, both of whom have actually left Camp Nou in permanent deals.

Barça made Coutinho one of the most expensive players of all time when they agreed a deal with Liverpool in 2018 worth up to €160m. But things quickly soured for the Brazilian and he spent time on loan at Bayern Munich and Aston Villa, before joining the latter for a minimal fee this year.

Pjanic, meanwhile, was part of a slightly bizarre double deal in the summer of 2020 that saw the Catalans also send Arthur Melo to Juventus.

AS has reported that Barça’s latest economic report, which is to be presented to members next months, will explain that the club has outstanding transfer fees to be paid totalling €144m.

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However, they are also owed just under €130m themselves, with plenty of modern deals arranged with staggered payment structures.

Aside from money still owed for Pjanic (€36m) and Coutinho (€14m), Barça have €46m to pay Ajax for Frenkie de Jong and Sergino Dest. There is another €52m that has to go to Manchester City for Ferran Torres. Yet Barça are yet to be paid €10m for Coutinho by Aston Villa and will also receive €6m for Trincao from Wolves in due course.

Barça’s finances are in much better shape than they were at the peak of the club’s money trouble, but Camp Nou vice president of economics Eduard Romeu confirmed earlier this week that this chapter is still not over and more has to be done.

“We have saved Barça, but we still haven’t resolved it,” Romeu explained. “We don’t have it healthy; it involves a lot of austerity, a lot of rigour and there is a lot of work to do. In the 2024/25 season we will be at the level that corresponds to us.”

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EPL

Armando Broja discusses his father’s training methods, inspirations & Albanian pride

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Armando Broja has spoken about the tireless hours his family would commit to ensuring he made it as a footballer in his youth, and what it means to be a young star representing Albania on the world stage.

Broja shot to prominence at Southampton last season, on loan from Chelsea. The forward impressed throughout the campaign and returned to west London having scored nine goals in all competitions and racking up 32 Premier League appearances.

Since returning to his parent club, the Albanian international has penned a new long-term contract with Chelsea and been integrated into the first-team, featuring for Thomas Tuchel before his dismissal as head coach.

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But the future remains bright for Broja, despite the managerial change, with Graham Potter now in the hot seat.

Speaking to The Players’ Tribune, Broja credited his mentality and ability to thrive under pressure to his family, namely his father, who pushed him throughout his childhood.

“He’s always been so desperate to succeed and for his kids to succeed. Growing up, there wasn’t a minute to waste. Time was the most precious thing to him,” the striker said.

“I remember when I was young and just starting off in football, he’d come home from work late and he’d be exhausted. It might be like 10 or 11 at night and he might’ve worked a 15-hour day, but he’d always ask, ‘Armando, have you done your training today?’”

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“Obviously lyin’, I’d be like, ‘Mmm, yes?’” he added: “He’d know the truth, though, and out we’d go to the park and he’d make me run laps. Twenty times around the pitch.”

Broja went further, explaining his father’s detailed eye for his traits and progression: “When I had a growth spurt around 16, he got worried I was gonna lose my speed. Pace had always been one of my biggest strengths. So he took me out to do hill sprints for like an hour at a time.

“I was basically falling down the hill by the end and he’s there standing over me like, ‘Nah, go again. Another one. Defenders gonna catch you.’

“We joke now that my success is 50-50. Half mine, half his and my mum’s. They put in the work you don’t see. In those early years, though, the balance was waaaay more on their side.”

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Broja also discussed his inspirations, explaining that his affinity for Brazilian legend Ronaldo came from his father, after he would show him clips on YouTube.

But alongside R9, Broja namedropped Lorik Cana – the first and only Albanian to play in the Premier League before him.

It was this that fuelled his discussion about flying the flag for his nation and what it meant to represent Albania, who he earned his first senior international cap for in 2020.

“There was a moment when the England under-21s wanted me and, yeah, I thought about it and what I wanted for my future, but honestly … I didn’t have to think too long,” he explained: “I grew up in England, but I’m proud to be Albanian.

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“Every time I travel for international duty and pull on the red and black I feel this incredible pride and excitement.”

The 21-year-old added, explaining how he relishes the opportunity of being able to shoulder responsibility and expectations at a young age for his country, while also expressing his desire to fire them to a World Cup.

“You can step up and be a star. And if you do well, you can become an icon for eternity. When my career is over, I want my name to live on. For Albania. For my dad.”

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OFFICAL: Ibrahim Gusau replaces Pinnick as new NFF President

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Ibrahim Gusau arose as the new Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) President replacing Amaju Pinnick.

Gusau arose as the champ at the NFF elections held in Benin City on Friday, September 30, 2022.

Following a while of vulnerability, the NFF races occurred with delegates of the world football overseeing body FIFA in participation.

There were 10 qualified contender to supplant Pinnick following eight years of his administration.

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The candidates included Hon. Suleiman Yahaya-Kwande, Mallam Adam Mouktar Mohammed, former VPs, Barr. Seyi Akinwunmi and Mallam Shehu Dikko.

Others were Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Gusau, Barr. Musa Amadu, Dr. Christian Emeruwa, Peterside Idah, Alhaji Abba Abdullahi Yola and UK-based David-Buhari Doherty.

In the initial voting results, Gusau recorded 21 votes, Akinwunmi 12 votes, Dikko six votes, Yola and Idah had one vote each.

Gusau the former Zamfara State Football Association chairman would emerge victorious and now lead the NFF for the next four years.

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