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Future looks bright for ambitious and deep-pocketed Malaga

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In our latest post on Spanish soccer, Iain Rogers in Madrid looks at Qatari Sheikh Abdullah al Thani’s ambitious plans for Andalusian club Malaga and an impressive victory for Spain over United States that underlined the world champions’ strength in depth. 

Future looks bright for ambitious and deep-pocketed Malaga

It’s been a long road back since they went into voluntary administration in late 2006, but for Malaga the future looks extremely promising.

Sheikh Abdullah al Thani, a member of the Qatari royal family who bought the south-coast club last year, appears genuinely ambitious and looks to have deep enough pockets to turn his plans into reality.

Certainly if his choice of automobiles is anything to go by.

On a visit to the club’s La Rosaleda stadium last week to interview vice-president and CEO Abdullah Ghubn, we passed through the car park where several of the sheikh’s prize possession were being housed — including a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG and a Pagani Zonda.

Grondona faces trouble at home

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By Rex Gowar
River Plate’s dire relegation situation is the principal talk of Argentina’s TV soccer chat shows, a bigger story than the crisis at FIFA where Julio Grondona, in power since 1979 and fending off corruption allegations, said he will seek yet another term in office as president of the Argentine FA.

River president Daniel Passarella – who like Michel Platini has occupied most of the top positions in the game: club skipper, national captain lifting a major trophy, national coach – attacked Grondona after his team’s defeat by Boca Juniors in the “superclasico” over his appointments of match officials. Passarella said it was a disgrace the number of penalties the referee, who was not suspended, had missed in the Boca box.

Xavi’s Wembley tears turn to triumph

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In our latest post on Spanish soccer, Iain Rogers in Madrid muses on the brilliance of the peerless Xavi and Real Madrid’s decision to hand more power to coach Jose Mourinho at the expense of sacked director general Jorge Valdano. 

Xavi’s Wembley tears turn to triumph

Lionel Messi rightly grabbed most of the headlines for his latest European masterclass in Barcelona’s 3-1 Champions League final humbling of Manchester United on Saturday.

Hasta luego Depor

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In our latest post on Spanish soccer, Mark Elkington in Madrid looks at the dramatic final day of La Liga action, which saw once-mighty Deportivo Coruna relegated. Rayo Vallecano were promoted, meaning there will be four clubs from the capital in the top flight next season for the first time.

Hasta luego Depor

Roberto Soldado scored his 18th La Liga goal of the campaign on Saturday, his best tally for a season, but there were no celebrations as he trudged back to the centre circle with his head down, in Deportivo Coruna’s silent Riazor stadium.

Clash of egos at River Plate

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River Plate’s former goalkeeping great Ubaldo Fillol, a World Cup-winner with Argentina in 1978, has resigned as their first-team keeping coach after what he felt as a lack of respect shown by Juan Pablo Carrizo on Sunday.

Carrizo brushed Fillol aside when the older man tried to console him as he left the pitch with jeers ringing in his ears after a blunder that allowed San Lorenzo to equalise for a 1-1 draw that left River in the relegation zone.

Soccer Break Friday – Time to say goodbye

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Blackburn Rovers. Wolverhampton Wanderers. Wigan Athletic. Blackpool. Birmingham City. Five teams, two must go. Who will it be?

Nervy times ahead then for these five Premier League strugglers. Sunday will be traumatic and full of twists.

River Plate enraged more than ever by Boca defeat

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It is hard to recall a time when River Plate have been more enraged by a defeat to their bitter enemies Boca Juniors than now.

Club president Daniel Passarella, a temperamental former River and Argentina captain and coach, exploded at the weekly Argentine Football Association board meeting chaired by AFA chief Julio Grondona.

Soccer Break Thursday – Power to Portugal

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It was no classic but Porto cemented themselves as one of Europe’s top sides on Wednesday with a 1-0 victory over compatriots Braga in the Europa League final in Dublin, surely the start of better days for the Portuguese game.

Key to this is that Porto’s coach Andre Villas-Boas and figurehead striker Radamel Falcao have agreed to stay at the club, a nice touch in the fast-paced football world where players and coaches come and go all too often.

Soccer Break Wednesday – Will you watch the Europa League final?

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Will you be watching the Europa League final later on Wednesday? Do you even know who is in the final? Does it annoy you that such a tough competition gets undervalued because of the unstoppable rise in popularity of the Champions League?

Anyway, enough questions. Venue: Dublin. Teams: Porto and Braga, two very contrasting Portuguese clubs. This could be one hell of a game, so watch it.

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