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FC Barcelona’s Gerard Pique feels inferior to Real Madrid

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Barcelona defender Gerard Pique admitted that he felt inferior to Real Madrid for the first time in his nine years as a Barcelona defender, after they were beaten 5-1 on aggregate in the Spanish Super Cup.

“This is a long process and there is room for improvement but in the nine years that I have been here, it is the first time that I feel inferior to Madrid,” Pique said. “We are not in the best moment, either as a team or as a club. We must stay as close as possible and keep moving forwards.”

Pique’s comments came after a 2-0 defeat at the Bernabeu on Wednesday night which saw Barcelona humiliated by their rivals, with Sergio Ramos winding up Lionel Messi by throwing the ball over the Argentinian when he readied his hands to collect, which turn got Messi riled enough for unsavory remarks.

Hosts Real Madrid started the game with an initial 3-1 win at Camp Nou. They are without Cristiano Ronaldo, who is serving a five-match suspension after being sent off in the first leg, and coach Zinedine Zidane even opted to leave stars such as Gareth Bale and Isco on the bench.

Real’s latest trophy was also Zidane’s seventh in charge of Real after goals from Marco Asensio and Karim Benzema sealed the latest triumph, as Barcelona appeared to struggle again.

It also does not help for Zidane’s Barca counterpart Ernesto Valverde after the Uruguayan Football Association confirmed that Luis Suarez will miss around a month with the right knee injury he sustained in Wednesday’s defeat.

Buffon joins Messi & Ronaldo on UEFA men’s player of the year shortlist

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UEFA has named Gianluigi Buffon as one of three nominees for the 2016/17 UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Award alongside Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

The candidates shortlist was made by a jury of 80 coaches and 55 journalists.

Buffon, 39, was a key member of the Juventus side that reached last season’s Champions League final, but he missed out on a first winner’s medal as the Italians were beaten 4-1 by Ronaldo’s Real Madrid in Cardiff.

Ronaldo, who had won the award twice, stands alongside three of his Real teammates in the top-10 shortlist, with Luka Modric at fourth, Toni Kroos at fifth and Sergio Ramos at seventh.

The shortlist was decided by the 80 coaches of the clubs that played in the Champions League and Europa League group stages, as well as 55 journalists.

The players who make up the rest of the top 10 are:

  1. Paulo Dybala (Argentina, Juventus, sixth)
  2. Kylian Mbappe (France, Monaco, eighth)
  3. Robert Lewandowski (Poland, Bayern Munich, ninth)
  4. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden, Manchester United, tenth)

Cristiano Ronaldo scored and then sent off in Spanish Super Cup

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Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo had a mixed day in the Camp Nou after scoring and then sent off as his team defeated FC Barcelona by 3-1 in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup.

Gerard Pique had scored an own goal early in the second half to give Real the lead in the annual curtain raiser between the Spanish Liga champions and the Copa del Rey holders.

Lionel Messi then came to Pique’s rescue and looked to have saved his blushes by scoring a controversial penalty in the 77th minute after Luis Suarez tumbled easily to a challenge from Keylor Navas.

Ronaldo, who started the game on the bench, was subbed in for Karim Benzema 12 minutes after half-time.

He then struck a wonderful curling shot to score from from outside the area three minutes after Messi’s penalty, thus restoring the Liga and European champions’ advantage but was quickly cautioned with his first yellow of the game for removing his shirt — a mimic of Messi’s celebration at the Santiago Bernabeu in last April’s Clasico.

The Portuguese captain was quickly given a second yellow just moments later for diving to attempt to win a penalty and he will miss Wednesday’s second leg at the Bernabeu.

But Real seemed unperturbed from losing their star man and, far from letting Barcelona back in, Marco Asensio then extended Madrid’s advantage with a scorching shot from outside the area in the 90th minute.

The 3-1 advantage for Real, with Zinedine Zidane’s side also holding the home ground advantage makes his Los Blancos squad — who have lifted at three trophies in the past three months — huge favourites to lift the trophy going into Wednesday’s Super Cup second leg at the Bernabeu.

Isco and Casemiro shine to win UEFA Super Cup for Real Madrid

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Spanish and European champions Real Madrid has successfully defended their UEFA Super Cup title after a 2-1 win over Manchester United, thanks to goals from Casemiro and Isco.

Real dominated possession for much of the time despite the warm temperatures in the Philip II Arena in Macedonia, despite occasional skirmishes up front made by the Red Devils.

Casemiro — who earlier hit the woodwork for Real — opened the scoring through a half-volley after twenty minutes, while Isco calmly slotted in from eight yards after a neat one-two with Gareth Bale less than eight minutes after the break.

Manchester United managed a reply as summer signing Romelu Lukaku tapped in following Nemanja Matic’s effort, despite being second best and rarely threatening the Real defense.

The match, which was twice stopped for scheduled cooling breaks implemented by governing body UEFA, then continued with Real peppering the United side with attempts on goal.

As a large roar welcomed Cristiano Ronaldo was given the final few minutes, Los Blancos then finished the game in jubilation and become the first team to retain the Super Cup since 1990.

UP NEXT

Manchester United will start their new Premier League season at home against West Ham United under more welcoming weather, and while Real would celebrate a deserved trophy they would keep an eye on the horizon — they will be facing arch-rivals Barcelona at the Nou Camp on Sunday in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup in back-to-back El Clasico fixtures.