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Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane recalled Eden Hazard to his starting line-up to face Celta Vigo on Sunday after the Belgium international recovered from an ankle fracture.

Hazard's last appearance for Los Blancos came in a 2-2 Champions League draw against Paris Saint-Germain in November, the injury limiting him to just eight LaLiga appearances and one goal since his €100million transfer from Chelsea.

The 29-year-old joined Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema in Los Blancos' front three against Celta, with Isco dropping to the bench despite scoring in Madrid's 4-1 win at Osasuna.

Hazard's return to fitness is well-timed given Madrid's tough run of forthcoming fixtures.

Zidane will take his side to Levante in LaLiga before a Champions League clash at home against Manchester City and then the Clasico versus Barcelona on March 1.

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane recalled Eden Hazard to his starting line-up to face Celta Vigo on Sunday after the Belgium international recovered from an ankle fracture.

Hazard's last appearance for Los Blancos came in a 2-2 Champions League draw against Paris Saint-Germain in November, the injury limiting him to just eight LaLiga appearances and one goal since his €100million transfer from Chelsea.

The 29-year-old joined Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema in Los Blancos' front three against Celta, with Isco dropping to the bench despite scoring in Madrid's 4-1 win at Osasuna.

Hazard's return to fitness is well-timed given Madrid's tough run of forthcoming fixtures.

Zidane will take his side to Levante in LaLiga before a Champions League clash at home against Manchester City and then the Clasico versus Barcelona on March 1.

Manchester City's two-season Champions League ban could be about to reverberate through the Premier League.

Pep Guardiola's future had been a topic of discussion prior to UEFA handing down sanctions for "serious" Financial Fair Play breaches and the loss of European competition has fuelled suggestions the Catalan could quit the club.

Media reports indicate City already have alternatives in mind, and their search for a successor looks set to pose problems for Premier League rivals.

 

TOP STORY – CITY EYE PEP REPLACEMENTS

Mauricio Pochettino and Brendan Rodgers are among the contenders to take over at City if Guardiola walks, according to The Telegraph.

The report states the pair "would be in the running" to become the club's next manager in the event their current boss decides to leave at the end of the season.

Ex-Tottenham manager Pochettino recently admitted he would "love" to return to the Premier League, telling the 'In The Pink' podcast: "It's going to be difficult, I know, and for now it's a moment to wait and we'll see what happens."

The Argentinian has been heavily linked to City's cross-town rivals Manchester United, while Rodgers is tied to Leicester City until 2025.

ROUND-UP

- Juventus-linked Guardiola might not be the only big name headed for the Etihad Stadium exit. The Sun claims Real Madrid will launch an "all-out assault" in a bid to sign Raheem Sterling.

- City could potentially even be docked Premier League points for the same Financial Fair Play breaches that compelled UEFA to act, says The Guardian.

- Meanwhile, over at Old Trafford, United have set their asking price for Paul Pogba at £130million, reports the Daily Star.

- As for potential arrivals, United are interested in Norwich City pair Todd Cantwell and Max Aarons plus West Ham midfielder Declan Rice, states the Daily Mail.

- Serie A side Milan are no closer to extending Gianluigi Donnarumma's deal beyond June 2021, according to Tuttomercato, and LaLiga title contenders Madrid are monitoring the situation.

- Sky Sport Germany continues to link former Bayern Munich boss Niko Kovac to manager-less Bundesliga outfit Hertha Berlin, who saw Jurgen Klinsmann leave earlier in the week.

Lionel Messi and Liverpool are among the front-runners for prizes at the prestigious Laureus World Sports Awards in Berlin on Monday.

Liverpool are up for two gongs after a wonderful year, as they won the 2018-19 Champions League and took a massive leap towards a first top-flight title in 30 years.

Jurgen Klopp's side look set to break a host of records this season, as they have dropped points in just one of their 25 matches and hold a remarkable 22-point lead over defending champions Manchester City in second.

The Reds are in the running for two prizes in the Laureus Sports Awards' 20th anniversary gala – World Team of the Year and Comeback of the Year, the latter on account of their astonishing Champions League semi-final turnaround at the expense of Barcelona.

Among those challenging Liverpool for the former are the United States' Women's football team and the Toronto Raptors, who became the first Canadian franchise win an NBA championship.

A selection of sporting superstars are up for the Sportsman of the Year award, with Barcelona and Argentina icon Lionel Messi among them following his record-breaking sixth Ballon d'Or.

Also in the running is Eliud Kipchoge after the Kenyan became the first athlete to run a marathon in under two hours last October, covering the 26.2 miles in one hour, 59 minutes and 40.2 seconds in Vienna.

Ballon d'Or Feminin winner Megan Rapinoe is among those in the hunt for the Sportswoman of the Year gong, although gymnast Simone Biles also has a compelling case.

The 22-year-old last year won five gold medals at the World Championships to become the most decorated gymnast in the event's history, and has won this award twice before, in 2019 and 2017.

The event will take place at the Verti Music Hall in Berlin on Monday. Below is a complete list of the awards up for grabs and the athletes nominated.

Sportsman of the Year

Eliud Kipchoge – Athletics
Lewis Hamilton – Formula One
Lionel Messi – Football
Marc Marquez – MotoGP
Rafael Nadal – Tennis
Tiger Woods – Golf

Sportswoman of the Year

Allyson Felix – Athletics
Megan Rapinoe – Football
Mikaela Shiffrin – Skiing
Naomi Osaka – Tennis
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce – Athletics
Simone Biles – Gymnastics

 

Team of the Year

Liverpool – Football
Mercedes-AMG – Formula One
South Africa – Rugby Union
Spain – Basketball
Toronto Raptors – Basketball
United States Women – Football

Breakthrough of the Year

Andy Ruiz – Boxing
Bianca Andreescu – Tennis
Coco Gauff – Tennis
Egan Bernal – Cycling
Japan – Rugby Union
Regan Smith – Swimming

 

Comeback of the Year

Andy Murray – Tennis
Christian Lealiifano – Rugby Union
Kawhi Leonard – Basketball
Liverpool – Football
Nathan Adrian – Swimming
Sophia Florsch – Formula Three

Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability

Alice Tai – Swimming
Diede de Groot – Wheelchair Tennis
Jetze Plat – Triathlon
Manuela Schar – Wheelchair Racing
Oksana Masters – Cross Country Skiing
Omara Durand – Athletics

 

Action Sportsperson of the year

Carissa Moore – Surfing
Chloe Kim – Snowboarding
Italo Ferreira – Surfing
Mark McMorris – Snowboarding
Nyjah Huston – Skateboarding
Rayssa Leal – Skateboarding

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo picked Real Madrid over Barcelona when presented with an offer ahead of the NBA All-Star Game.

Antetokounmpo will lead Team Giannis against Team LeBron in Chicago on Sunday.

But the reigning NBA MVP faced a different test on Saturday, when he was offered Barcelona and Real Madrid shirts.

"We've got Real Madrid, who's the player though?" Antetokounmpo said, assessing his options.

"I love both of these players, [Lionel] Messi or [Cristiano] Ronaldo, who used to play with Real.

"But I'll probably go with Real. There you go, Real."

Madrid can restore their three-point lead atop LaLiga when they host Celta Vigo on Sunday.

Quique Setien was unimpressed with Getafe's physical approach and referee Guillermo Cuadra Fernandez after Barcelona's 2-1 LaLiga win over Getafe.

Barca moved level on points with leaders Real Madrid, who face Celta Vigo in their game in hand on Sunday, courtesy of first-half goals from Antoine Griezmann and Sergi Roberto at Camp Nou on Saturday.

The Barca-linked Angel Rodriguez gave Getafe hope when he pulled one back in the second half, but the reigning LaLiga champions were not to be denied all three points.

Head coach Setien felt referee Cuadra Fernandez should have come down harder on what he deemed to be spoiling tactics from Getafe.

Asked what he was saying to the fourth official, Setien said: "I was complaining because many times you risk going out from the back and when you are fouled you have to start over.

"That hurts the pace of the game. I think they have made 30 fouls against 12, and we had one more [yellow] card.

"I think the referee had to be more severe. Sometimes you have no luck."

Setien was not interested in discussing why he did not shake hands with his opposite number Jose Bordalas.

"I want to talk about what happened on the pitch, that is where football is played." he said.

"We were nervous at the start, and Getafe made it very difficult for us with their press."

Hackers targeted LaLiga giants Barcelona and the Olympic Games movement on Saturday as their Twitter accounts were attacked.

The OurMine group posted messages on multiple accounts belonging to Barcelona and the International Olympic Committee.

Barcelona have accounts in several languages and relating to various aspects of the club, including their La Masia youth academy, and all appeared to have been hacked.

The hacking incident came soon after Barca beat Getafe to join Real Madrid on 52 points at the top of LaLiga.

Each account sent out the message: "Hi, we are OurMine. Well, this is the second time, the security level is better but still not the best to improve your accounts security."

The OurMine group previously hacked Barcelona's Twitter in 2017, falsely claiming the club would be signing Angel Di Maria from Paris Saint-Germain.

Barcelona acknowledged the latest cybersecurity breach after taking back control of their accounts, posting: "FC Barcelona's Twitter accounts have been hacked, which is why messages from outside our club have appeared, and which have been reported and deleted. The tweets were made through a third-party tool for data analytics.

"FC Barcelona will conduct a cybersecurity audit and will review all protocols and links with third party tools, in order to avoid such incidents and to guarantee the best service to our members and fans. We apologise for any inconvenience this situation may have caused."

The Olympic Games accounts were similarly attacked.

Messages from OurMine were posted across its official accounts, including those for the Olympics, Athlete365 and IOC Media, before being deleted.

The hacker group has previously targeted such organisations as WikiLeaks, Real Madrid, the NFL and its teams, Facebook, Instagram and the New York Times.

Jordi Alba appears to be an injury doubt for Barcelona's clash with Real Madrid on March 1 after sustaining a groin problem in the win over Getafe.

Alba - who has endured an injury-hit campaign - went off 22 minutes into Saturday's match at Camp Nou.

He was replaced by Junior Firpo, who played a key part in teeing up Sergi Roberto's strike - a goal which ultimately proved to be the winner for Barca, who had to hold off a second-half fightback from the visitors.

Barca confirmed during the match that Alba had suffered a problem to his right adductor, with tests subsequently confirming the injury.

It is not yet clear how long the 30-year-old will be sidelined for, but it seems his participation in both the Champions League last-16 tie with Napoli and the Clasico are in doubt.

The victory took Quique Setien's side - temporarily at least - level on points with Madrid at the top of LaLiga, with Zinedine Zidane's side not in action until Sunday.

Antoine Griezmann says he is thoroughly enjoying life at Barcelona, even though he is still learning how to play alongside Lionel Messi.

Griezmann ended a five-match scoreless streak in LaLiga with a deft finish to open the scoring in a cagey 2-1 win over Getafe at Camp Nou on Saturday.

The goal was teed up brilliantly by Messi, with Sergi Roberto adding a second for Barca before Angel Rodriguez's goal for Getafe set up a tense finish.

France forward Griezmann missed a great chance to restore Barca's two-goal cushion late on, and acknowledged he is still adapting to playing with Messi.

"We knew how hard Getafe would be to play against," Griezmann said. "They put a lot of pressure on and pressed high. They are third for a reason but we kept cool, tried to play the ball well from the back. It was tough but we suffered and won.

"I've been here six months, we still have to learn. I have to learn [Messi's] movements and he has to learn mine. We're enjoying the work we put in together and it's getting better and better all the time. I'm very happy and really enjoying myself here.

"I missed a chance which I shouldn't have done, it came to my weaker foot but luckily it didn't matter."

Getafe started strong at Camp Nou and thought they had the lead when Allan Nyom prodded in from a corner, but VAR disallowed the goal for a foul on Samuel Umtiti.

The visitors did haul themselves back into the contest when Angel volleyed home in the 66th minute, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen pulling off a fine double save to deny Getafe an equaliser.

Angel has been linked with a move to Barca as the defending champions aim to replace Ousmane Dembele and Nyom is unsure if the striker will be staying with Getafe.

"He's got a lot of quality," Nyom said of the 32-year-old. 

"He's a killer in front of goal and I'm delighted he's with us. I don't know whether he's staying or not."

Antoine Griezmann ended a five-match scoreless streak in LaLiga as Barcelona survived a second-half fightback to claim a 2-1 victory over third-placed Getafe.

Needing a win to put themselves level on points with table-toppers Real Madrid, Quique Setien's side started sluggishly on Saturday and would have gone behind if not for VAR.

Barca made their good fortune count, though, Lionel Messi - on his 350th official appearance at Camp Nou - setting up Griezmann to open the scoring in the 33rd minute.

Sergi Roberto doubled Barca's tally before half-time, but Barca-linked Angel Rodriguez set up a grandstand finish, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen just managing to deny Getafe an equaliser as the champions held on.

Jordi Alba succumbed to a right adductor injury in the 22nd minute, with Junior Firpo introduced, and things looked to have got worse for the hosts when Allan Nyom tucked home from a corner, only for the goal to be ruled out by VAR for a foul on Samuel Umtiti.

Marc Cucurella was inches away from putting his parent club behind moments later, yet it was Barca who broke the deadlock when Messi fed a wonderful, disguised pass through to Griezmann, who finished with a sublime flick over David Soria.

It was 2-0 six minutes later - Roberto sending a first-time finish into the bottom-right corner at the culmination of a slick move, and only a fine save from Soria prevented Messi adding a third before half-time.

Angel was brought on shortly after the restart and the change had the desired impact when he volleyed in from the edge of the box.

Ter Stegen denied Jaime Mata a tap-in with 18 minutes remaining and, though Griezmann squandered two great chances, Barca ultimately made their goalkeeper's save count as they claimed the points.

What does it mean? All level at the top

With Madrid not in action until Sunday, Barca are - temporarily at least - level on points with Los Blancos at the top. The rivals go head-to-head at the start of March, in what looks set to be a pivotal clash in the title race.

Angel makes his mark at Camp Nou

Barca seem set to be given dispensation to sign a forward due to the season-ending injury suffered by Ousmane Dembele and Angel is one of the players reportedly high on their list.

If he is indeed to wind up as a Barca player in the coming weeks, the 32-year-old did his chances no harm with an exquisite finish - his 10th league goal of the season.

More injury woe for Alba

It has been an injury hit campaign for Barca full-back Alba and his frustrations continued when he hobbled off midway through the first half and he could well now be a doubt for the Champions League encounter with Napoli on February 25, as well as a crucial Clasico on March 1.

What's next?

Barca are at home again in their next league fixture, against Eibar, while Getafe face Ajax in the Europa League on Thursday.

Eibar's LaLiga game against Real Sociedad on Sunday has been postponed due to air contamination.

The Royal Spanish Football Federation's competition committee made the decision to call off the fixture due to a landfill fire near Eibar.

A letter from the Basque government's deputy minister for health warned against sports activities being performed due to "high levels of chemical compounds detected in the air".

The teams have until Tuesday to agree a new date.

Eden Hazard is 100 per cent fit and ready to return when Real Madrid take on Celta Vigo in LaLiga on Sunday, says Zinedine Zidane.

Belgium international Hazard has been out of action since November after fracturing his ankle in a 2-2 Champions League draw against Paris Saint-Germain.

He has scored one goal and made 13 appearances since arriving from Chelsea for a reported initial fee of €100million, his debut having been delayed until September due to a hamstring problem.

However, Hazard has been in full training with Madrid this week and Madrid coach Zidane confirmed he could feature at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"We all know how important Hazard is and that's why we signed him. He's a great player. We're very happy he's back with the group," Zidane said at a pre-match news conference on Saturday.

"He hasn't played for three months and it's not easy. It will also depend on the game and the rhythm but physically he's absolutely fit and available to be with us.

"We know how much he can help us. It was tough not having him for almost three months due to injury. He's also very happy to be back.

"It's true we have to take it easy, we should give him time, and that's what we did to make sure he's 100 per cent fit when he is back. He is ready to play tomorrow."

Madrid went into the weekend three points clear at the top of LaLiga and face a huge Clasico against Barcelona in between Champions League last-16 matches against Manchester City.

In previous campaigns Zidane has rotated his side heavily for domestic and European matches, but he was guarded when asked about how he will approach the next month.

"The most important game is the one the one that we're playing tomorrow and after that we'll just plan the following week," said Zidane.

"In the next month we'll have very important games and in each game we'll have to give it our all because they are all crucial.

"We've done well up to now but we have to continue like that if we want to win something important at the end of the season. We know the situation and every game will be a tough one, but we're ready for that challenge."

City have been handed a two-season European ban by UEFA for breaching Financial Fair Play regulations, though the English club will appeal the sanction at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Asked for his thoughts on what has happened to their Champions League opponents, Zidane said: "I don't really know what's going to change or what's going to happen. I can only talk to you about football and about games we're going to play.

"They are a very strong team, very competitive team and this is something that is not going to change. But right now I'm focused on our game tomorrow.

"They are a great team regardless of the situation they are going through. The games against them in the Champions League will be tough.

"As far as the ban goes, I cannot talk about that, it's not my job. What I want to stress is Manchester City are a great team, a very tough opponent."

Marcos Llorente believes Atletico Madrid can take confidence from their 2-2 draw at Valencia into Tuesday's Champions League clash with Liverpool.

Atletico led twice at the Mestalla on Friday before being held to a draw, which means they have won just one of their past seven games.

But Llorente, who scored his first goal for the club, said it was a result that could give Atletico a boost ahead of hosting Liverpool in the first leg of their last-16 tie.

"Every player likes scoring goals. I'm happy to have done so and to make the most of the chances the coach gives me," he said, via the club's website.

"Valencia are a great team and this match gives us confidence ahead of Tuesday's very important clash."

Atletico look set to battle for a top-four finish in LaLiga, sitting two points adrift of third-placed Getafe and just one ahead of Sevilla.

Diego Simeone, who is under pressure as coach, was satisfied with his side's performance despite the draw.

"Both teams had many chances to score. We hurt them a lot on the break in the first half, whereas they created problems for us in the second," he said.

"It was a tough game against a team that haven't lost at their stadium. This is how we have to compete, because this is the way forward."

Atletico Madrid dropped points for the fourth time in five LaLiga matches as they drew 2-2 at fellow Champions League hopefuls Valencia.

Diego Simeone's men could have moved level on 42 points with third-placed Getafe with victory but, despite taking the lead twice, they were pegged back, meaning Sevilla and Real Sociedad could overtake them this weekend.

Although quality was lacking, the first half certainly entertained and Atletico just about edged it at the interval, with Marcos Llorente and Thomas Partey scoring either side of Gabriel Paulista's equaliser.

Valencia eventually became the superior force in the second half after Geoffrey Kondogbia's 59th-minute goal tied the score, but they failed to make the most of their late dominance as Kevin Gameiro spurned a glorious chance to down his former employers.

The early proceedings were by no means thrilling but Atletico made the most of a rare goal-scoring opportunity, as Angel Correa's shot struck Gabriel and Llorente was on hand to prod past Jaume Domenech.

Valencia levelled with five minutes of the first half to play – Gabriel heading in from close range after Maxi Gomez's delivery.

Atletico still went into the break ahead, though, thanks to Thomas' 20-yard strike, the midfielder drilling into the bottom-left corner after Valencia allowed him to charge forward.

Both sides initially struggled to control a scrappy affair after the break, but Valencia restored parity for a second time just before the hour – Kondogbia converting from close range after Dani Parejo's free-kick delivery.

Former Atletico striker Gameiro was introduced from the bench and should have put the hosts in front 16 minutes from time, but he blazed over from eight yards out and Gomez followed suit from a little further out soon after as Atletico held on to a commendable point.

What does it mean? Atletico hand La Real and Sevilla the initiative

The only reason Atletico are still in the top four is because their poor recent form has been matched by their top-four rivals, with La Real, Sevilla and Valencia all wildly erratic over the past few weeks.

But this weekend, Sevilla host rock-bottom Espanyol and La Real face another of the strugglers in Eibar. Both will fancy their chances of wins that will see them leapfrog Atletico once again.

Partey time on Valentine's Day

It seemed clear that if Atletico were to get a late win, Thomas would have been involved in some way. The midfielder impressed with some fierce bursts through the middle, scored a fine goal and only narrowly missed the target with three decent long-range efforts.

Correa a bystander

Through Atletico's difficult patch, Correa has been arguably the only player to enhance his reputation. However, on Friday he was utterly anonymous bar his shot that was fortuitously deflected to Llorente for the opener. He touched the ball just 16 times – the fewest of all the Atletico players except their substitutes – and failed to create a single chance.

What's next?

Both sides turn their attention back to the Champions League next week, with Valencia facing Atalanta in San Siro on Wednesday and Atletico hosting defending champions Liverpool the day before.

Barcelona had an approach for Loren Moron rejected as they continue to explore options to ease their injury woes, according to Real Betis coach Rubi.

Barca were dealt a severe blow this week when they confirmed Ousmane Dembele is expected to be out for six months after hamstring surgery.

With Luis Suarez also sidelined, Barca are reported to have been granted special dispensation to sign a replacement, providing the player in question is either a free agent or already based in Spain.

Willian Jose, Angel Rodriguez, Lucas Perez and Loren were said to be their chief targets, though a reported €12million budget limits them significantly.

And Rubi admitted Barca did make an approach for Loren but were unsuccessful, with Betis not willing to let the player go.

"Loren is going to end the season with Betis," Rubi said of the striker who has scored eight LaLiga goals in 22 appearances this term.

"They have asked, but the operation is 99 per cent not done. We don't want him to leave and they have looked at many [players].

"Loren trains just as well as always. This is something that happens in football.

"We couldn't sign another player unless his release clause is paid. Loren's €50million, so 99 per cent it is not done.

"The information I have is that he is [staying] here and that is what we all want."

Loren, 26, was given his league debut for Betis by current Barca coach Quique Setien in February 2018.

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