Real Madrid get more penalties than other teams because they attack more, according to Atletico Madrid boss Simeone.

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique and club president Josep Maria Bartomeu have suggested Madrid, who sit four points clear of the Catalan giants at the top of LaLiga, are benefiting from favourable decisions from referees.

Zinedine Zidane said has was "tired" of hearing such comments after his side beat Athletic Bilbao 1-0 on Sunday, the second straight game they have won courtesy of a Sergio Ramos penalty, which was awarded after a VAR review spotted Dani Garcia's trip on Marcelo.

Iker Muniain was critical of the officials after the match because Athletic did not receive a spot-kick for Ramos appearing to step on Raul Garcia's foot off the ball or for another incident involving the Madrid captain and Dani Garcia.

Madrid have been awarded nine penalties in LaLiga this season – only Athletic and Real Mallorca have earned more (10 each) – and Simeone thinks it is natural for a team that plays on the front foot to get such decisions.

"VAR exposes everything. Before we didn't have the possibility of seeing some things that we now see. The referees are people who can be wrong as well," Simeone told a news conference.

"It is fairer. If they give you more penalties, it's because you are in the opposition's area more. If they attack more, like Real Madrid, it means you are there longer.

"In the speed of the game it's difficult to see what happens, but now another referee sees it with calmness on television. People too, from their homes.

"Then there is a person who decides, which is the VAR. It can hurt you or help you, but now we are all clear on if its offside, if it's a penalty… we are all more exposed."

Atleti face Celta Vigo on Tuesday and will be without Joao Felix due to an ankle injury.

Joao Felix has scored eight goals and supplied three assists in 34 appearances in all competitions since joining from Benfica for €126million last year.

Simeone intends to remain patient with the 20-year-old Portugal international when he is available for action again.

"Joao is in his first year at Atletico. I am not surprised by anything that is happening to him," said the Atleti boss.

"He has to be patient and not disengage. The anger he has because of what he wants to show, because of his qualities, sometimes costs him.

"Few footballers at 20 or 21 are the finished article. He has undoubted talent. He's a humble, respectful boy who gets along with everybody."

Massimiliano Allegri says he had contact with Real Madrid over becoming their head coach two years ago, but wanted to stay loyal to Juventus.

The former Milan boss spent five successful years in charge of Juve prior to his exit at the end of last season.

After Zinedine Zidane left Madrid following the 2017-18 campaign, the club had short spells with Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari in charge.

Allegri was one of the other options pursued by the club and the Italian thanked Madrid president Florentino Perez for his interest at the time.

Madrid ultimately turned back to Zidane in March 2019.

"Two years ago, there was contact, but nothing came of it because I had a contract with Juve," Allegri said to Marca about Madrid's interest.

"Furthermore, I had a strong moral commitment to the club and its fans."

Allegri was asked what he likes most about the work Zidane is doing at Santiago Bernabeu, with a LaLiga title on the horizon as the delayed 2019-20 season nears its conclusion.

"The strength he has had in finding the indispensable balance of a team so full of class and talent," Allegri said.

"For me, the positioning of Casemiro has been a tactical masterclass from Zizou."

Discussing his own future, Allegri continued: "I've been charging my batteries [since leaving Juve] and enjoying time with my family and my city, Livorno, with my lifelong friends.

"I don't really care [if my next job is in Italy or abroad]. I'm looking for a club to share a project with and which has the ambition to compete to win."

And when questioned over whether he would like to coach in LaLiga, Allegri added: "Who in their right mind would say no to this question? No one.

"There is more pleasure of playing in LaLiga, no matter the result. After conceding a goal, the team keeps playing as if nothing has happened. 

"In Italy, on the other hand, there is much more love and attention for the details of the game and tactics. The brain almost always wins out over the heart, in general.

"[Italian football is more difficult] because of what I said before. The player doesn't have much freedom to enjoy themselves in a purely instinctive way and this sometimes makes it difficult."

Nemanja Matic has put pen to paper on a new contract with Manchester United that runs until 2023.

Serbia international Matic had one year remaining on his previous deal.

But the club announced on Monday he has been signed to fresh terms following some impressive displays under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The 31-year-old joined United from Chelsea in 2017 and has made 114 appearances.

"I am very happy that I will continue to be part of this great club," midfielder Matic said in a statement.

"As a player, I still have a lot more to give and achieve in my career and to do that with Manchester United will be a huge honour.

"This is a really exciting team to be part of, we have a good balance of youth and experience within the squad and there is great comradery amongst the group.

"This is a key part of the season and we are playing well. We will continue to fight to finish the season on a high and make our amazing supporters proud."

Solskjaer added: "I am delighted that Nemanja has signed a new contract, I know his experience, professionalism and leadership will be invaluable to this young talented group.

"We have great strength in midfield and Nemanja's attributes are a key part of that. Nemanja has been here for three seasons now and really understands the values of playing for Manchester United.

"He remains hugely ambitious and determined which will be vital as we look to achieve our aims over the coming years."

Matic has started each of United's past three Premier League games, helping them extend their unbeaten run in all competitions to 16 matches.

Solskjaer's side have moved up to fifth in the top flight, three points behind third-place Leicester City in the race for Champions League qualification.

Borussia Monchengladbach sporting director Max Eberl says trying to close the gap to Bayern Munich is like him chasing down Usain Bolt.

Bayern defeated Bayer Leverkusen in the DFB-Pokal final on Saturday to complete a domestic double, having wrapped up their eighth straight Bundesliga title-winning campaign the weekend prior.

Gladbach were early pacesetters in the top flight as the Bavarian giants struggled to get going under Niko Kovac, but they ended up sealing fourth on the final day of the season.

The difference between the teams was 17 points and Eberl likened Gladbach attempting to catch up to himself in a race with eight-time Olympic gold medallist Bolt, who holds the world record in the 100 metres and 200m.

Asked if the Foals could lead the rest of the Bundesliga's attempts to topple Bayern, Eberl told Kicker: "It's as realistic as if I challenge Usain Bolt to the 100 metres and think I can win.

"Maybe I'll be at the front at the start. Maybe he stumbles in between. But the likelihood that Usain Bolt will end up in front of me, and Bayern Munich before Gladbach, is very high.

"It's not 100 per cent but is clearly in the region of 90 per cent."

However, he added: "We will not give up and throw in the towel. We are working on getting even better."

Gladbach's hopes of making significant personnel improvements in the close season have been hit by a loss of revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic that could end up in the region of €30million.

"We will not now storm the transfer market and buy big-name players," said Eberl.

"Coronavirus hit us to the core. The [financial] reserves melt like ice in the sun. The big picture will be even more important in the future, not just having an eye on sport."

Joao Felix has been ruled out of Atletico Madrid's LaLiga game against Celta Vigo on Tuesday due to an ankle injury.

Portugal forward Joao Felix was substituted in the 54th minute of Atletico's 3-0 victory over Real Mallorca on Friday

Tests carried out on Sunday revealed the 20-year-old has suffered "a traumatic bone edema in the ankle", the club said in a statement on Monday.

Although it was confirmed Joao Felix will miss the trip to Balaidos to face Celta, Atleti did not provide a time frame for his recovery.

Joao Felix has struggled to live up to expectations in his first season with Atleti, who shelled out €126million to sign him from Benfica last year.

He has scored eight goals and supplied three assists in 34 appearances in all competitions.

The attacker has already missed 10 games due to two separate injuries this term and one more through suspension.

Paris Saint-Germain have reportedly agreed to let Neymar return to Barcelona, while Borussia Dortmund have set their asking price for Jadon Sancho.

Neymar, 28, has regularly been linked with a return to Camp Nou, and that could be getting a step closer.

But can the LaLiga giants make it happen?

 

TOP STORY – PSG AGREE TO LET NEYMAR RETURN TO BARCELONA

Neymar has reached an agreement with PSG to return to Barcelona ahead of next season, according to AS.

However, the report says Barcelona must still find the means to make it happen.

Neymar starred across four seasons at the LaLiga club before joining PSG in a world-record €222million move in 2017.

ROUND-UP

- If Manchester United want Sancho, it seems they know what they need to pay. Ruhr Nachrichten reports Dortmund want £108.3m (€120m) for the star attacker and the deal must be completed before August 10.

- Amid links to Barcelona, Xavi signed a new contract with Al-Sadd until 2021. However, Mundo Deportivo says the club's former midfielder has a release clause in his new contract to be able to sign to take over at Camp Nou before his deal ends. Staying at Barcelona and the club have agreed to lower Ivan Rakitic's price, according to Sport, with the midfielder linked with a Sevilla return.

- Nemanja Matic has found form at Manchester United. According to Gianluca Di Marzio, the 31-year-old midfielder – whose contract was expiring next year – has signed a new deal with the Premier League club until 2023.

- While Hector Bellerin has a deal at Arsenal until 2023, his future is somewhat uncertain. The Daily Express reports Paris Saint-Germain are keeping tabs on the Spaniard.

- As they near promotion to the Premier League, Leeds United could be ready to strengthen. The Sun reports Leeds are prepared to sign Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard – who has been linked to Manchester United and Arsenal – if they return to the top flight.

- Valencia are searching for a new head coach after the sacking of Albert Celades. L'Equipe reports former PSG boss Laurent Blanc is on the LaLiga club's list of possible successors.

Retired Jamaica international Jobi McAnuff insists he is not just along for the ride after signing a new one-year contract with England League Two club Leyton Orient.

McANuff the club captain, will be 39 years old later this year and transitioned to a player/coach role last season.  He will be in a similar capacity this year but despite being the senior statesman of sorts is determined to be more than just a passenger on the pitch.

“I don’t just want to be a bit part or be here for the ride, I want to contribute, that’s a big, big thing for me,” McAnuff said in an interview with the club’s official website.

“I’m feeling good,” he added.

 “Last year, as everyone knows, was frustrating. I worked really hard to get back to playing, and I’ve got a lot of work again to get to the level I want to get to.”

The injury kept McAnuff out of action for almost the entire season, not playing his first match until March.  Orient coach Ross Embleton is confident the Jamaica midfielder will be a major contributor both on and off the pitch – and is delighted to see him stay.

“He’s been at the club since I came back, and we all know what an inspiration he is on the pitch,” Embleton said.

McAnuff has made 141 appearances for the O’s in two spells.

 

Lautaro Martinez's missed penalty cost Inter dearly as Bologna staged a superb second-half comeback to seal a stunning 2-1 win at San Siro on Sunday. 

Romelu Lukaku had given Inter a first-half lead with his 20th Serie A goal of the season before Bologna's Roberto Soriano received a red card for dissent after 57 minutes. 

Martinez then squandered a golden opportunity to make it 2-0 five minutes later, striking his attempt from the spot straight at Lukasz Skorupski. 

The visitors took full advantage of that reprieve, scoring through Musa Juwara and Musa Barrow inside the final 16 minutes to seal a memorable away win over the Nerazzurri, who had Alessandro Bastoni dismissed for two bookable offences.

West Brom boosted their bid for automatic promotion as relegation-threatened Hull City and Middlesbrough both lost in Sunday's Championship action.

After table-topping Leeds United and in-form Brentford both won 24 hours earlier, the Baggies followed suit as they eventually overcame Hull 4-2 in an eventful encounter at the Hawthorns.

Twice West Brom took the lead only to concede, Mallik Wilks making it 2-2 early in the second half. However, Kamil Grosicki crucially edged the hosts back in front just over a minute later.

Grady Diangana wrapped up victory for Slaven Bilic's side, though they finished the game down to 10 men following the late dismissal of Ahmed Hegazi. Still, West Brom are once again a point behind Leeds, while they are five clear of third-place Brentford.

Hull remain outside the bottom three as fellow strugglers Middlesbrough were beaten at home, going down 1-0 to QPR.

Jordan Hugill grabbed the only goal of the contest just after the half-hour mark against a club where he spent the 2018-19 season on loan.

Meanwhile, Swansea City moved up to eighth – four points adrift of the final play-off berth occupied by rivals Cardiff City – courtesy of a 2-1 victory over Sheffield Wednesday.

Rhian Brewster, who is on loan from Liverpool, opened the scoring and Andre Ayew doubled the Swans' lead from the penalty spot. Atdhe Nuhiu did half the deficit, though his stoppage-time effort was no more than a consolation for the Owls.

Zinedine Zidane feels his Real Madrid players deserve more respect as he is "tired" of their victories being attributed to refereeing decisions.

Madrid celebrated a seventh straight win on Sunday as they prevailed 1-0 at Athletic Bilbao, moving seven points clear of rivals Barcelona at the top of LaLiga.

However, their goal came courtesy of a Sergio Ramos penalty, awarded only after a VAR review highlighted Dani Garcia's trip on Marcelo.

Iker Muniain revealed his frustration at the call after the match, echoing comments from Barca's Gerard Pique, who suggested the officials were making it difficult to stop Madrid winning the title.

Zidane bristled at the accusations, though, telling a news conference: "I am tired of being told that we won because of the referees.

"This is not going to change. But the players deserve respect. Nothing is going to take away from our goal."

The head coach accepted Madrid were not at their best at San Mames, yet he pointed to a tough schedule which saw the leaders in action against Getafe as recently as Thursday.

"Our strength is what I like the most. We are showing our strength and our balance when we lose the ball," Zidane said. "We are doing very well.

"We have lacked brilliance in attack and we can improve, but most important is our defensive strength.

"[The problems in attack are due to] a little bit of everything. It can be something physical, too. We play every three days.

"But I don't think it is our own thing; I think it is something for all the teams. There is a lot of difference between the beginning and the end."

Talk is turning towards when Madrid might clinch the title, with just four games to play and Barca struggling for form.

But Zidane is not getting ahead of himself, adding: "Until it is mathematically won, we cannot relax and think about the title.

"We have shown our strength and our solidity, but I am not going to talk about it, even if you ask me every day, because I already have a lot of experience in my career, also as a player, and all the games are difficult.

"What I can say is that winning seven games out of seven is impressive."

Athletic Bilbao captain Iker Muniain became the latest player to question refereeing decisions involving Real Madrid after Sergio Ramos scored a decisive penalty at San Mames.

Madrid were made to work hard for a 1-0 victory on Sunday - their seventh win in a row - as Zinedine Zidane's men moved seven points clear at the top of the LaLiga table.

But Athletic were unhappy with the award of the spot-kick from which Ramos clinched the points, with Dani Garcia's trip on Marcelo spotted only after a VAR review.

Muniain was particularly frustrated as there was then no similar call made at the other end of the pitch when Ramos appeared to step on Raul Garcia's foot off the ball.

He said: "Raul Garcia has been stamped on and they haven't even reviewed it. That's the difference.

"We've seen the theme in these weeks since the restart - depending on which teams it is, some decisions are given.

"Everyone can draw their own conclusions."

Barcelona stalwart Gerard Pique has previously suggested it would be difficult to stop Madrid winning the title because decisions too often go their way.

Those claims prompted Ramos to respond: "People shouldn't be imagining things!"

Sergio Ramos revealed he enjoys the responsibility of taking crucial penalties for Real Madrid, although he claimed he would be playing tennis if he was looking for individual recognition.

For the second time in four days, Ramos grabbed the only goal from 12 yards for Madrid, this time to secure a 1-0 win at Athletic Bilbao at San Mames on Sunday.

A seventh straight victory moved the LaLiga leaders seven points clear, at least until Barcelona take on Villarreal later in the day.

Ramos is focused on ensuring Madrid keep winning, having been flawless since the season's restart – a period in which the captain has now scored five times, including from the spot against Getafe on Thursday.

"All I think about is the three points," he said. "But those moments of doubt [when taking penalties], that's when I feel most comfortable.

"I just wanted to take that responsibility. What matters most is the overall result. The only thing that matters is that it helps the team win."

On his personal exploits, Ramos added: "The individual recognition is second for me.

"What matters is that the team get the objectives we want and manage to get the three points in every game we play. Luckily, for the moment, we are getting those results.

"I would have probably played tennis if I were more interested in individual recognition. This is a very beautiful sport, a team sport, and it's very nice to win as a team."

Having also overcome Getafe this week and with relatively kinder fixtures to come, Ramos acknowledged the magnitude of Madrid's latest victory.

"It was very important for us. We knew today was going to be one of the most important games of those that are left for us," he said. "It's a very difficult game always, travelling away to Bilbao.

"We just organised it like that: we had 11 finals left coming back from lockdown and we just had to go game by game, getting the three points.

"I believe today, again, the team proved that against a team like this, you always have to be at it. We're very happy with the three points. That was our objective.

"It's three very important points to put more pressure on Barcelona, who play later today.

"We just want that league title. From the first minute, you could see how we wanted to go for that game and get the result today.

"We knew we weren't going to win 3-0 or 4-0 today – it was going to be a very tough game – but it was important."

Xavi has ended speculation that he was set to return to Barcelona by signing a one-year contract extension with Al-Sadd.

It was reported that the ex-Barca captain was poised to replace the under-pressure Quique Setien at Camp Nou.

Xavi has made no secret of his desire to coach the Catalan giants, but the 40-year-old has agreed to remain in Qatar for at least another season.

The former Spain midfielder has won the Qatari Super Cup and Qatar Cup in his first season in charge of Al-Sadd and is hungry for more trophies.

He told the club's official website: "I am happy that the squad is complete today after the return of the remaining first-team players, in preparation for this upcoming period and the resumption of the league championship.

"I am happy to continue with Al-Sadd, and the team's goal will always be to compete for all titles."

Xavi's side are third in a Stars League that will resume later this month after being halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Al-Sadd trail leaders Al Duhail by 10 points with only five matches to play.

Barca legend Xavi recently stated that he will only return to the LaLiga champions when the time is right, having turned down the chance to replace former coach Ernesto Valverde in January.

"I'm a club man. I would like to return at the right moment to start a project from zero," he was quoted as saying by Sport.

"I've said it a lot of times, but I want to take footballing decisions at Barcelona.

"It's clear that after the [presidential] elections the stage would be set, of course. I'm not ruling anything out.

"They came for me in January, we were speaking. I told them the circumstances and timing weren't right."

Sergio Ramos was Real Madrid's penalty hero for the second time in four days as a 1-0 win at Athletic Bilbao sent the LaLiga leaders seven points clear.

Zinedine Zidane's men have been flawless since the season's restart to claim control of the title rice, but they were given a stern test by Getafe on Thursday and again had their work cut out for a time on Sunday.

Yet as against Getafe, Ramos stepped up to net a second-half penalty and secure all three points in Bilbao, with his latest decisive goal coming after Dani Garcia tripped Marcelo in the area to prompt a VAR review.

A seventh straight victory ensured Madrid made the most of playing before rivals Barcelona, who will kick-off at Villarreal later in the day knowing they have an even more significant gap to make up.

Madrid recalled Marco Asensio for his first start of the season in a move which almost brought immediate reward.

The fit-again forward drew a low save from a fourth-minute free-kick, with Karim Benzema then unable to direct his header goalwards when Dani Carvajal squared the rebound.

That was about the extent of Athletic goalkeeper Unai Simon's involvement before half-time, while Thibaut Courtois repelled Raul Garcia's powerful header at the other end.

Simon might have had a far greater role to play, though, as both Rodrygo and Benzema squandered huge headed opportunities from searching Asensio centres, each missing the target completely.

The second period appeared set to play out in similarly frustrating fashion for Madrid until Marcelo went down in the area and a penalty was eventually awarded, with Ramos coolly tucking his finish inside the left-hand post in the 73rd minute.

Simon saved smartly with his legs from Benzema in the closing stages, but the one Ramos goal proved enough for Madrid again.

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge believes Schalke could have been Bundesliga champions in recent years had they not lost so many talented young players. 

After a promising first half to the 2019-20 season, Schalke endured a wretched run of results either side of the break in the campaign due to the coronavirus pandemic, failing to win any of their final 16 games to finish 12th.

There have also been issues off the pitch, with chairman Clemens Tonnies resigning following fan protests, while marketing director Alexander Jobst has confirmed there will need to be cuts due to the financial situation the club faces.

Yet their situation could have been different had they retained some of their rising stars through the years, according to reigning champions' Bayern Munich's chief executive Rummenigge.

Among those to move on were goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and Leon Goretzka, who both went to Bayern. The duo will be joined at the Allianz Arena next season by two more talents developed by Schalke, goalkeeper Alexander Nubel and Leroy Sane, the latter this week confirming his switch from Manchester City.

"Schalke could have been German champions in the meantime if they could have kept these and many other players who have trained them well in their youth division," Rummenigge told Sport1.

"The pool of their youth work is one of the best in all of Germany.

"The fact is that they have always sold very hopeful players, such as Leroy Sane to Manchester City in 2016, to meet their financial needs."

The COVID-19 health crisis is likely to have major financial implications on the vast majority of football clubs, even those seen as the biggest spenders in Europe.

Rummenigge revealed Bayern have never planned their budget around potential success, instead setting a relatively low bar each season to make sure they have long-term security.

"Until February, this was one of the safest [clubs] in the world," he said.

"If the team performed by reaching at least the last 16 in the Champions League and going very far in the DFB-Pokal, then they knew we always on June 30 that the year will be financially okay."

The former West Germany international feels the economic climate will naturally lead to changes in the transfer market, adding: "I think we all agree that we have to deal with transfer sums and player salaries a bit more responsibly and rationally. How we do that in the future – all over Europe – you will have to discuss."

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