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Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman defends Lionel Messi’s angry outburst | Football News

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BARCELONA: Forced to handle yet another difficult situation regarding Lionel Messi, Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman demanded more “respect” for his disgruntled star.
Koeman said he understood why Messi was visibly angry when journalists asked him about the criticism directed at him by a former agent of teammate Antoine Griezmann when Messi arrived in Spain on Wednesday after a long flight.
“I need to defend Leo because if something happened to me after a trip of 15 hours in a plane back to Barcelona _ you go outside and there is a lot of press asking that type of question _ I would be dangerous and hate them as well,” Koeman said on Friday.
“We have to respect people like Messi more. And from what I have seen on the field and in training, there is no problem between (Messi and Griezmann).”
Eric Olhats, Griezmann’s agent until 2016, told France Football magazine last week that Messi has marginalized Griezmann in his “regime of terror” at the club where the Argentine supposedly “controls everything.”
When journalists asked Messi for his response, he wearily answered: “To be honest, I’m a bit tired of always being the problem for everything in this club.”
That set off another round of alarm bells at the Camp Nou about Messi’s future.
Many are concerned that the latest unpleasant episode is yet another reason for Messi to go through with his plan to leave the club. With his contract expiring at the end of this season, Messi will be free to negotiate with other clubs in January. There is widespread speculation he could be tempted to reunite with former coach Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.
Koeman said that while he does not feel it is his job to convince Messi to stay, he is confident the 33-year-old forward will prolong his 20-year stint at Barcelona.
“I hope he will stay in Barcelona,” Koeman said. “I think it is unbelievable what he has done for this club, but he is the main person to make a decision about his future.”
Barcelona will visit Atletico Madrid, the league’s only unbeaten team, on Saturday.


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Champions League: Atletico held by Lokomotiv to leave qualification in doubt | Football News

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MADRID: Atletico Madrid‘s qualification for the Champions League last 16 remains far from secure after they were held to a goalless draw at home to Lokomotiv Moscow on Wednesday.
Atletico remain second in Group A, two points ahead of Lokomotiv but with a game against Bayern Munich at the Wanda Metropolitano still to come next week.
Bayern secured top spot with a 3-1 victory over Salzburg.
Lokomotiv have to visit the reigning European champions in the final game while Atletico finish away at Salzburg, meaning it would still be a surprise if Diego Simeone‘s side fail to reach the knock-out stages.
But this was a chance missed to take command of second place as Atletico created several chances against their Russian opponents but lacked a finishing touch.
Koke saw a goal ruled out for offside in the second half while the in-form Joao Felix and Marcos Llorente both went close.
Luis Suarez, who was absent after testing positive for coronavirus, and Diego Costa, who has suffered a blood clot in his leg, might have helped break down a determined Lokomotiv defence.
Llorente was everywhere in the opening half an hour. He pulled back for Joao Felix, who skewed his finish and then for Correa, who connected but was blocked.
Llorente then shot twice himself, the first palmed away and the second saved too after some nice work down the right from Kieran Trippier.
Lokomotiv offered little going forward, their best chance falling to Ze Luis, who slipped through, then slipped over at the crucial moment.
But Atletico’s momentum stalled in the second half, with Simeone bringing on Thomas Lemar and switching to three at the back, before a Koke rebound was ruled out for offside on review.
Felix went down over Vladislav Ignatyev’s foot but the referee was right to decide there was not enough contact to warrant a penalty.
Stanislav Magkeev had a chance to nick it for Lokomotiv on the counter-attack but dragged wide. Jose Gimenez headed just past the post. Neither side could find a way through.


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Champions League: Bayern reach last 16 as Lewandowski matches Raul goal tally | Football News

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MUNICH: Holders Bayern Munich booked their place in the Champions League last 16 on Wednesday as Robert Lewandowski claimed his 71st goal in the competition in a 3-1 home win over Salzburg.
Lewandowski scored just before the break at the Allianz Arena to draw level with Real Madrid great Raul in third on the Champions League list of top goalscorers.
Only Cristiano Ronaldo, who has netted 131 times, and Lionel Messi with 118 goals, have scored more than Poland star Lewandowski.
Bayern earned their 15th straight Champions League win to qualify for the knock-out stage as Group A winners, as second-placed Atletico Madrid drew 0-0 with Lokomotiv Moscow.
Bayern doubled their lead just after the break when Kingsley Coman’s shot deflected in off Salzburg defender Maximilian Woeber.
Leroy Sane claimed their third goal just after Bayern were reduced to 10 men when midfielder Marc Roca was sent off on his Champions League debut.
Salzburg pulled a goal back when forward Mergim Berisha got in behind the Bayern defence to net on 73 minutes.
With Bayern defenders Niklas Suele and Lucas Hernandez sidelined, US international Chris Richards made his Champions League debut at left-back.
Roca lasted just over an hour on only his third appearance since joining from Espanyol in October.
The European champions won 6-2 when the sides met in Austria at the start of November when Bayern scored four late goals.
Just as they had done at home, Salzburg made a bright start and Hungarian rising star Dominik Szoboszlai wasted a golden chance in the 35th minute when he shot over with the goal at his mercy.
Just as they had in Saturday’s 1-1 Bundesliga draw at home to Werder Bremen, Bayern laboured early on, but did not waste the first chance which came their way.
When Thomas Mueller’s shot was only parried by Salzburg goalkeeper Cican Stankovic, Lewandowski was on hand to turn in the rebound on 43 minutes.
It was 2-0 seven minutes just after the break when Leon Goretkza won the ball and passed to Coman, who beat a defender and fired in a speculative shot which took a wicked deflection off Woeber’s boot.
Having already been booked for an earlier foul on Zlatko Junuzovic, Roca was dismissed on 66 minutes for a late challenge on the Salzburg midfielder.
It made little difference as Bayern grabbed their third goal when Sane powered home a header from Coman’s cross.
Sane was at fault for Salzburg’s consolation when he gave the ball away in his own half which led to Berisha getting in behind the defence.
Bayern lived dangerously late on as Salzburg replacement Luka Sucic fired just wide.


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Australia vs India: KL Rahul looks to fill Dhoni-sized shoes | Cricket News

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KL Rahul is at an interesting stage in his career. For all his batting prowess, he has struggled to get a long run in any format, largely due to the prolific partnership of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan at the top of the order. Wicketkeeping has given him an opportunity to cement his place in the Indian XI in the white-ball formats.
Two days before India’s first ODI in Australia, Rahul made it clear how much he values this opportunity. The Indian team is in the initial stages of building a core for the two ICC T20 World Cups and one 50-over World Cup in the next three years.
“Nothing has been told to me and we are not thinking that far ahead as a team. Obviously, World Cups are important and that is a long-term vision for every team and country,” Rahul said on Wednesday.

“It (him wicketkeeping) helps the team combination a little more and it’s something I would love to do. If the opportunity presents itself and I can keep in three World Cups, I would love to do it for my country,” he added.
Before it actually came his way in January this year, Rahul has been on the prowl to latch onto an opportunity of this kind. He has been carrying his wicketkeeping gear in his kit for a couple of years. He has kept wickets in every white-ball match beyond international cricket.
However, there is also the possibility of burnout while keeping in both formats.
“My batting position will depend on the format I am playing. The last ODI series we played, I batted at No. 5 and I kept wickets, so it is a role that I enjoyed and I am happy to play whatever role the team gives me,” Rahul pointed out.

Team India are looking for a suitable replacement to fill the void MS Dhoni has left behind. The pressure seemed to have got to Rishabh Pant, who has been dropped from the white-ball formats. Rahul knows it’s the expertise from behind the stumps that made Dhoni such an asset in the team.
“Dhoni has shown the way to the wicketkeeper-batsmen on how to do the role perfectly. I will probably go and give the spinners the feedback regarding what length can be bowled on different wickets.”
This is a fresh start for Indian cricket in the post-Dhoni world, a performing wicketkeeper-batsman in KL Rahul could just be the head-start Team India needed.


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