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The latest football news from Spain covering La Liga, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Valencia, Sevilla, Atlético Madrid, Malaga etc.

Paul the octopus set for sensational transfer to Madrid aquarium
15 July 2010

Spanish zoo prepared to meet 'any demands' to sign German cephalopod that predicted team's World Cup final victory

In what may prove to be the biggest transfer story this summer, negotiations have begun to bring Paul the psychic octopus to Madrid after he correctly predicted Spain's World Cup final victory.

Madrid's Zoo Aquarium says it is prepared to trump any other offer Germany's Oberhausen Sea Life Centre receives for Paul, certain that the world's most famous cephalopod will attract thousands of visitors.

At present no cash is on the table, and the zoo says it is trying to negotiate an exchange of animals.

Sounding more like the president of Real Madrid than a zookeeper, a spokesman said he was confident that Paul would be in Madrid within a few days. Madrid was prepared to offer Oberhausen "whatever they demand" to complete the deal — suggesting that this will be a cash-plus-animal transfer.

He added that Paul, named after a German children's book by Boy Lornsen, would be treated "with tender loving care" because of its national treasure status in Spain.

Paul correctly predicted the outcome of all seven of Germany's World Cup matches, as well as the final between Spain and Holland. This was an improvement on its record for the 2008 Eurocopa, in which it was predicted four out of six of Germany's games.

During the World Cup, Paul became a media phenomenon, with his final predictions screened live on television. He also became the world's third most popular Twitter trend during the competition, out-doing both Shakira and Cristiano Ronaldo with 141 hours of trending.

A Brazilian company has developed an iPhone app based on Paul's performance, allowing users to consult the octopus to help them make decisions. The Ask the Octopus app, which costs 99c (65p), lets users ask 50-50 questions, to which a cartoon of Paul chooses an answer.

Source: The Guardian



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Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas defends Barcelona shirt stunt
14 July 2010

Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas has played down being pictured in a Barcelona shirt during Spain's World Cup-winning celebrations.

Fabregas has been linked with a move to the Nou Camp and was forced into the shirt by Spain team-mates and Barcelona players Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol.

Barcelona have had a bid of about £30m for the midfielder turned down.

"There are times we do not even know what we do, so everything can be forgiven," said 23-year-old Fabregas.

"These are things that happen at special moments. I don't think it should be gone on about much more because it was just another anecdote of a great night, a great celebration.

"Pepe [Reina] took me there [to the front of the stage], the truth is that I didn't know anything like that was going to happen and so I was a bit surprised.

"At first I thought it was a flag or something, but it's nothing.

"You had to enjoy it and if it's a way to have fun, it's nothing."

Fabregas signed an eight-year contract with Arsenal in 2006 but is believed to be in favour of a move back to Barcelona.

He came through the Catalan outfit's ranks and spent six years at the Nou Camp as a youth team player before making the switch to the Gunners in 2003.

There has been plenty of speculation about where he will be plying his trade next season, although he attempted to quell the talk over his future.

"I think now the less said about the subject the better, because these things are worse for everyone when they come to light and people talk more about the matter," he added.

"Right now we have to be very calm and what will be will be."

Fabregas impressed after coming on as a substitute in the World Cup final and set up 26-year-old Andres Iniesta to score the winner in the 1-0 victory over Netherlands.

Asked about the prospect of being joined at club level by Fabregas, Barcelona playmaker Iniesta said: "Let's hope so.

"Everybody has come out and spoken of the desire we have for him to be with us next season.

"We would be delighted. Not just because he is a team-mate and a friend, but because it would be great for the club.

"His arrival would give us a huge jump up in quality and he would play his part to help us stay up there competing in the big competitions. We would love him to be here."

Source: BBC Sport



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Photo of Fabregas in a Barcelona shirt
13 July 2010

Cesc Fabregas was pictured wearing a Barcelona shirt during Spain's post world Cup celebrations.  He doesn't look too keen to be wearing it to be honest.  Can you imagine Wenger's face after seeing this?!



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Sealed with a kiss: Spain captain embraces TV reporter girlfriend live on air after World Cup win
12 July 2010

What a difference a World Cup win makes.

At the beginning of the South Africa 2010 tournament – after Spain’s shock defeat by Switzerland – the Spanish captain Iker Casillas was berated by his TV reporter girlfriend Sara Carbonero.

But six games later, after lifting the trophy and being asked about the triumph, all was forgiven as the goalkeeper kissed and made up on live TV.

The passionate embrace came after the World Cup winner broke down in tears and Miss Carbonero, 25, offered him time to compose himself.

Taking her by surprise, he grabbed the glamorous sports presenter – voted the sexiest in the world - as he said: ‘No, this is what I want to do.’

Casillas, 29, was named man-of-the-match after making two outstanding saves to keep his country's tournament dreams alive against Holland.

Andres Iniesta's extra-time winner then broke Dutch hearts as Vicente Del Bosque's team clinched the title following a tense and scrappy match.

Spain scored four minutes before penalties would have been required to decide the winner.

Tears filled the captain’s eyes as the final whistle was blown – and, as Spain’s road to victory was anything but easy, this could probably be expected.

In their first game against Switzerland, they lost 1-0 and as sudden doubts emerged over the Spaniards’ chances, Miss Carbonero left her boyfriend squirming in an interview as she asked him: ‘How could you muck this up?’

The Real Madrid star responded: 'I don't know what to say,' he said, unable to look her in the eye. 'I don't know if this defeat will have consequences. The dressing room is fed up.'

He then slunk off feeling somewhat abashed.

But last night the tables were finally turned as Miss Carbonero, a reporter for Spanish TV station Telecinco, was the one looking embarrassed.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1294007/Sealed-kiss-Spain-captain-embraces-reporter-girlfriend-live-TV-World-Cup-victory.html?ITO=1708&referrer=yahoo#ixzz0tT50OHdH


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World Cup 2010 - Howard Webb: Hero or villain?
12 July 2010

English referee Howard Webb's record-breaking 15-card performance in the World Cup final provoked a storm of criticism.

Webb set a record by showing 14 yellow cards and a red in Spain's bad-tempered 1-0 win against the Netherlands.

The Rotherham official came under fire from both sides. Spanish pundits were outraged by his failure to send off a Dutchman before the 117th minute, with sports daily Marca calling him "abysmal".

Meanwhile, Holland were furious about two key decisions just before the winning goal. Dirk Kuyt stormed: "I know you cannot blame others, but the referee favoured Spain. We had many more yellow cards than we deserved. That ultimately cost us the cup."

Webb was roundly booed as he and his assistants Darren Cann and Mike Mullarkey received their medals after the game.

The British press were kinder, with The Sun claiming: "Webb kept his head while players lost theirs."

Is the criticism justified, or did the players give him an impossible job?

Here is a look at all the big decisions

15' Robin van Persie booked for a heavy challenge on Joan Capdevila. Good decision

16' Carles Puyol booked for a tackle from behind on Arjen Robben. Good decision

22' Mark van Bommel booked for a bad tackle from behind on Andres Iniesta. Borderline red, should at least have been a final warning. Should then have gone for persistent fouling, and kicking the ball into a prone Xavi.

23' Sergio Ramos booked for a tit-for-tat trip on Dirk Kuyt. Good decision.

28' Nigel De Jong booked for planting his studs into Xabi Alonso's chest. Bad decision. A clear red card for an appalling challenge.

42' Wesley Sneijder not booked for planting his studs in Sergio Busquets's thigh.

54' Giovanni van Bronckhorst booked for a block on Sergio Ramos. Tame by this game's standards, but probably correct.

56' Johnny Heitinga booked for a strong challenge on David Villa. Good decision.

67' Joan Capdevila booked for a cynical foul on the marauding Robin van Persie. Good decision.

84' Arjen Robben booked for mouthing off to the referee. We don't know what Robben said, but he protested furiously.

92' Spain penalty appeal for an alleged foul by Joris Mathijsen on Xavi. Replays showed Xavi kicked Mathijsen and Webb got it right.

109' Johnny Heitinga second yellow card for pulling back Iniesta. Good decision, even though Iniesta made the most of it.

112' Gregory van der Wiel booked for a trip on Iniesta. Borderline, fairly tame.

114' Arjen Robben not shown a second yellow card for kicking the ball away after being correctly flagged offside.

115' Spanish goal-kick after Arjen Robben's free-kick takes a big deflection off the wall, and Iker Casillas also gets a touch. Terrible decision, how did referee and linesman both miss that?

116' Furious Dutch claims of a foul on Eljero Elia in the build-up to Iniesta's goal. Good decision by Webb, the substitute went down much too easily.

116' Half-hearted appeals for offside against both Cesc Fabregas and Iniesta for the goal. Both good decisions.

117' Andres Iniesta booked for removing his shirt after scoring. Good decision - the rules are the rules. But sad that Iniesta's tribute to Espanyol captain Dani Jarque, who died last year, earned the same punishment as De Jong's assault.

117' Joris Mathijsen booked for protesting Iniesta's goal by slamming the ball into the ground. Good decision

120' Xavi booked for kicking the ball away. Good decision.

Webb and his assistants did get most of the big decisions right, but that does not mean the referee had a good night. He failed to take firm control of the game, something at which he usually excels. His determination to keep 22 players on the pitch was clear early on, and both sides – particularly the Dutch - exploited that.

Perversely, Webb's lenient approach led to more cards than if he had made it clear he would not stand for any nonsense. Nobody likes to see a red card early in a big game, but if De Jong or Van Bommel had gone, you would need a particularly perverse mindset to blame the referee and not the players.

Source: Yahoo/Eurosport



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Spain wins World Cup for first time
12 July 2010

Spain has won the World Cup for the first time after Andres Iniesta grabbed a late winner in extra-time.

Iniesta struck with four minutes remaining to settle a tetchy encounter which saw English referee Howard Webb brandish a record 12 yellow cards, plus a red for Everton's John Heitinga on a night when Holland shamed the 'Total Football' for which they have been synonymous since the first of what is now three final defeats in 1974.

Howard Webb set a new World Cup final record after handing out 14 yellow cards and one red to Spain and Holland in a tempestuous climax to this tournament.

It was an ordeal by combat for the Yorkshire official and his assistants Darren Cann and Michael Mullarkey as Holland in particular tried to 'win ugly'.

It is not a record the 38-year-old Webb will be proud of but he was often left with little option as a tense encounter saw some crunching fouls and numerous late challenges.

Webb showed nine yellow cards to the Dutch - including two and a red to Everton's John Heitinga - and five to Spain.

Source: The Press Association



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Barcelona seek €150m from bank to cover player wages
08 July 2010

Barcelona have been forced to seek €150m (£125m) in bank finance to cover unpaid wages for players and coaching staff, with the club's new president, Sandro Rosell, talking of "cash-flow tensions".

The Primera Liga champions have provided six players who have featured regularly in Spain's starting line-up at the World Cup but there are strong signs the Camp Nou's recent successes have been built on shifting sands.

Barcelona were forced to seek external support after discovering that "there weren't sufficient resources" to cover their obligations. "This week we'll have everything in place to impose a policy of austerity to be able to make savings in unnecessary areas and meet very important commitments such as paying the wages of our players, coaches and employees," said Rosell.

Analysis of the club's finances showed they made only an €8.8m profit in winning La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League in 2008, and carried debts of €350m. Those liabilities are set to balloon again.

There are fears over the viability of their broadcast deal with Mediapro, which is worth about €150m a season, since the company filed for bankruptcy protection last month. "We have spoken to representatives of Mediapro about their situation because everyone believes that they are in receivership," said Rosell.

However the president insisted his club is not itself about to suffer a similar fate. "The membership needn't be concerned," he said. "The club isn't bankrupt."

Source: The Guardian



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It's Spain! Psychic Octopus Makes Choice
06 July 2010

An apparently psychic octopus has risked the wrath of his fellow countrymen by predicting Spain will beat Germany in the World Cup semi-final.

The creature, known as Paul, has correctly chosen all of his homeland's results so far.

But with one flick of his tentacle - and ignoring Germany's superb form - he has depressed an entire nation by picking their opponents to triumph.

Two plastic boxes with the flag of each country on the front had been placed into his tank at the Oberhausen Sea Life Centre.

With food in both boxes to attract Paul, it is then a matter of waiting until he opens one of them to determine his predicted winner.

On this occasion, he initially went straight for Spain's container.

German hopes were raised as he moved and began to hover over his homeland's flag, but the indecision was brief as he went with his first instinct.

The eight-legged mystic has a perfect record at this tournament - and is said to have had an 80% success rate during Euro 2008.

Paul irked England fans by predicting the debacle in Bloemfontein the day before it happened, despite being born in Weymouth.

And to prove he shows no bias, he plumped for Serbia before they defeated Joachin Low's side 1-0 during the group stages.

Source: Sky News



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Joachim Loew: 'Spain have several Messis'
05 July 2010

Germany's football coach Joachim Loew said that Spain have several Lionel Messis in their team as he looked ahead to their World Cup semi-final in Durban, South Africa.

"Spain doesn't just have one Messi, they have several Messis in their team, especially in attack, all the players there are in a position to decide the match," said Loew at Germany's training headquarters near Pretoria, South Africa.

"And I think that Spain is a team that unlike Argentina or England who, in those two matches, made lots of mistakes. We have to be in the position to push them into making mistakes, because on their own, they rarely make mistakes, neither in attack nor defence."

Loew said that he will be hoping that his midfield of Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger will be able to combat Spain's Barcelona-based midfield of Andres Iniesta and Xavi.

"I think there will be crucial situations there where they try and take the advantage, if we can keep those players at bay and push ourselves forwards, then it would be a great advantage for us."

Loew will continue to wear his trademark blue sweater at matches and will not have it cleaned while his team keep winning.

He claimed he was not superstitious but admitted that pressure from other coaching staff and players to keep wearing his familiar sweater had paid off.

Germany beat England 4-1 in the second round and reached the semi-finals following a 4-0 demolition of Argentina, with Loew donning the V-necked garment each time.

Source: ITN News



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Spain's Silva signs for Man City
01 July 2010

MANCHESTER, United Kingdom — Ambitious Premier League side Manchester City have signed Spanish World Cup attacking midfielder David Silva on a four-year deal from cash-strapped Valencia.

"The player's advisors and officials from both clubs have finalised the details over a four-year contract," City said Wednesday on its website www.mcfc.co.uk.

No financial details were disclosed, but the deal is rumoured to be worth around 25 million pounds. Subject to a medical, the 24-year-old player will make the move to Eastlands once Spain's interest in the World Cup is over, City added.

The fleet-footed Silva, a midfielder who can play on either wing or as a supporting striker, has yet to play a prominent role at the World Cup, playing only in their opening game loss to Switzerland.

But City boss Roberto Mancini said he is an important addition to the Manchester club's armoury.

"I think that David Silva is one of the best midfielders in Europe, and I hope he will be a very important player for Manchester City," he said.

"I think he can make a big, big impact for Manchester City.

"In signing David, we are showing the world that we are bringing the best players here and that we hope to compete to win the Premier League."

Silva said he was ready for the move and excited about the challenge of playing in England.

"I have enjoyed six years at Valencia, they discovered me as a footballer and they will always be a special club for me," he told the City website.

"The time is right for me to seek a new challenge, and I am thrilled about playing in England with Manchester City.

"I believe the Premier League is one of the best competitions in the world and I want to bring success to City and win trophies for them."

City are again expected to be active in the transfer market this summer and a deal for Barcelona midfielder Yaya Toure is also thought to be close.

That would unite the Ivory Coast international with his brother Kolo, the City captain.

Source: AFP

 



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Frustrated Fabregas keeps Arsenal option open
01 July 2010

Barcelona transfer target Cesc Fabregas has hinted he may yet stay at Arsenal next season, admitting "everything is possible" and reiterating his love for the London club.

In what could be taken as further positive news for Gunners fans, Fabregas spoke out on his frustration at being left on Spain's bench behind preferred midfielders Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets - who all play for Barcelona. The World Cup experience could put doubts in Fabregas' mind about his preferred move to Barcelona, since he is the captain and key player of Arsenal.

"I haven't said that I will definitely leave Arsenal," Fabregas said, according to the Mirror. "Everything is possible. Now I have my head and my focus on the World Cup. I am very proud to be captain of Arsenal and I love the club and have respect for them. It gave me much pride to be made captain."

Of his World Cup campaign, in which he has played around an hour of football after coming off the bench in two of Spain's four matches to date, Fabregas said the role of benchwarmer did not come naturally to him and that his pride for representing his country was diminished by his peripheral role.

"I always want to play. I'm not used to sitting on the bench and I want to be playing at this World Cup. I've never been a player happy to settle for what I have, I always want more. I respect the coach's decision. I know to be in midfield is going to be difficult because we have a lot of good players but I will never give up. I've won a lot of caps but if I've not played three quarters of the game it's not so valuable to me."

Source: ESPN



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