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Real Madrid get their own plane

Toe Poke

Transfer Rater: Bellerin to Barcelona

 By Sid Lowe

Julen Lopetegui trusting his young stars as new Spain generation begins

Andres Iniesta describes why the Spain national team has such a strong bond despite their many club differences.
Lopetegui is leaning on players he knows and trusts from his days coaching Spain's junior sides to glory.

LAS ROZAS DE MADRID, Spain -- There were a lot of familiar faces at Las Rozas this week as the Spanish national team's headquarters welcomed back men who have spent an enormous amount of time there over the years. Not just Andres Iniesta or Sergio Ramos, either, but pretty much all of them. If some of the Spain squad that gathered a short distance north-west of Madrid are a little less recognisable to football fans around the world, everyone here knows them very well indeed, from the groundsmen...

Griezmann, Costa, Mbappe and more to move in 2017 'summer of strikers'

Alejandro Moreno looks ahead to the summer transfer window, a time rumoured to see plenty of big names on the move.

Modern football can seem like a game of false nines and No. 10s, attacking midfielders and inverted wingers, but 2017 threatens to be the summer of the striker -- not so much on the pitch but in the transfer market.

Sometimes a window acquires a theme. January 2017 was defined by Chinese spending, the summer of 2016 was notable for Paul Pogba's world-record move to Manchester United, and those of 2009, 2013 and 2014 were significant for the footballing talent races between Real Madrid and Barcelona,...

After tough season, Diego Simeone, Atletico Madrid find form at ideal time

Diego Simeone expressed his delight at the way Atletico have been able to reinvent themselves throughout the season..

This season has been one long hangover for Atletico Madrid, but you can understand why.

There was a point immediately after the 2016 Champions League final when it seemed that manager Diego Simeone was overcome. You might even dare to say he was a beaten man. He had a couple of emblematic sound bites: "It's time for me to think about what I've learned losing two finals: a time for reflection. ... It's also time to cure our wounds at home. Losing two finals is a failure."

Not defiant words --...

 By Ed Alvarez

Real Madrid thriving in opportunities off set pieces under Zidane

The FC crew look ahead to the UCL quarterfinals, giving predictions, and debating if there are any upsets in the cards.

After Zinedine Zidane's 14 months at the helm of Real Madrid, questions regarding his management skills still abound in the mass media: Is he tactically savvy enough to coach such a complex team? Does he react quickly enough to the different situations in the flow of the match? Are his training methods as sophisticated as those of other top-level managers? Is he simply a sensible coach who has had a bit of luck so far?

The appraisal period is still short for a manager, especially when this is...

 By James Dall

Costa, Busquets, Suarez and Pepe feature in players fans love to hate XI

Man United's Marcos Rojo got a mid-match potassium boost in his side's 1-0 victory over Rostov in the UEFA Europa League.
The guys answer your tweets on Romelu Lukaku's production, Hazard's form, Man United's season goals, and the state of MLS.
Hate XI 3
Diego Costa leads the line in our XI of active players fans love to hate.

Football needs villains -- players opposition fans love to hate but are adored by their own supporters. There's an expletive-laden label for these types of players, but let's just call them a pain in the backside or, simply, nuisances.

You know the sort: They push the laws of the game to breaking point and can sometimes cross the line. We're talking histrionics, like when a player slams to the turf as if he's been hit by a crowbar when the TV replays show it was a mere brush of the hand.


 By Chris Wright

Cristiano Ronaldo effigy among those torched at Valencia firework festival

Around this time every year, the good people of Valencia take to the streets to burn effigies of various famous rogues and scoundrels as part of their week-long fire festival, Las Fallas.

The papier mache figures are known colloquially as "ninots" and this year Cristiano Ronaldo was one of the stars to have his likeness set alight.

Indeed, Sunday saw one particularly unflattering likeness of the Real Madrid man -- an imaginative depiction complete with Ballon d'Ors -- offered up in homage to Saint...