The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has been unable to make a final decision on a new date for the postponed Clasico clash originally set for October 26 due to new input from LaLiga.

RFEF confirmed the postponement of the match last Friday following political unrest in Catalonia.

Violent scenes have broken out in Barcelona after nine Catalan political leaders received long prison sentences for their roles in the region's 2017 referendum and subsequent declaration of independence last Monday.

A rally in Barcelona has been called by pro-independence politicians for October 26, ultimately resulting in El Clasico's postponement for security reasons.

RFEF left Barca and Madrid to agree a date between themselves and they mutually accepted to reschedule the match for December 18, but that now looks unlikely.

LaLiga is reported to have insisted on the game being played on December 4 and RFEF has passed its comments on to the clubs, who have been given until 20:00CET Tuesday to respond.

RFEF's statement read: "The Competition Committee of the Royal Spanish Football Federation will return to Barcelona and Real Madrid tomorrow [Tuesday] after receiving new statements from the National Professional Football League [LaLiga] on the date of the Clasico [originally] to be played on October 26 and was postponed due to exceptional circumstances.

"The clubs will have a deadline to answer by 20:00 on Tuesday, and the Competition Committee must meet again to assess their responses.

"During the day, the Competition Committee has analysed the proposals of both clubs, which it invited to agree to a day and who have agreed to play the postponed match on December 18.

"It [the Competition Committee] has also analysed the various reports sent by the National Professional Football League during these days.

"In addition, the Committee requested a report from the RFEF Competition Area, which has been sent to them in a timely manner."

Virgil van Dijk is been joined by six Liverpool team-mates in the 30-man shortlist for the 2019 Ballon d'Or, while Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are also present.

Van Dijk played a vital role as Liverpool won the 2018-19 Champions League, producing several standout performances at the heart of Jurgen Klopp's defence en route to the title, making him one of the favourites for major individual awards.

He was pipped to The Best FIFA Men's Player award by Barcelona star Messi, who will surely be Van Dijk's biggest competition for the Ballon d'Or having inspired a Barca side many consider underwhelming to the league title.

Fellow Reds stars Sadio Mane, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mohamed Salah, Alisson, Georginio Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino all join Van Dijk on the list.

Ajax captured the imagination of neutrals in Europe's elite competition last term, reaching the semi-finals in stunning fashion before dramatically going out to Tottenham, and a couple of players from the Amsterdam's club are nominated.

Donny van de Beek and Dusan Tadic are in the running, while Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt - who have since moved on to Barcelona and Juventus respectively - are also included.

Elsewhere, Premier League champions Manchester City are represented by Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Sergio Aguero 

Tottenham's Son Heung-min and Hugo Lloris are included from the losing Champions League finalists' ranks, but there is no place for Harry Kane or Christian Eriksen.

Last year's winner Luka Modric also misses out following a below-par year for Real Madrid, as does Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar.

The Ballon d'Or winner will be named in Paris on December 2.

Meanwhile, De Ligt is one of 10 youngsters nominated for the Kopa Trophy, awarded to the best performing player under the age of 21.

Borussia Dortmund and England winger Jadon Sancho is listed for the prestigious accolade and Joao Felix - signed by Atletico Madrid from Benfica for €126m earlier this year - is also in contention.

Four contenders for the Yachine Trophy ply their trade in the Premier League, with Alisson, Ederson, Kepa Arrizabalaga and Lloris included on the 10-man shortlist.

The likes of Jan Oblak and Marc-Andre ter Stegen are also battling it out to win the new award, which is handed to the best goalkeeper of the past 12 months.


Full list of Ballon d'Or nominees:

Sadio Mane (Liverpool), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Dusan Tadic (Ajax), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Donny van de Beek (Ajax), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), Alisson (Liverpool), Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), Son Heung-min (Tottenham), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli), Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona), Mohammed Salah (Liverpool), Eden Hazard (Real Madrid), Marquinhos (Paris St-Germain), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid).

Diego Simeone understands why Atletico Madrid have been criticised in recent weeks and has called for more consistency from his players.

Atletico were held 1-1 at home to Valencia on Saturday and have now drawn four of their last five LaLiga matches.

Three of those draws have finished goalless, with Diego Costa and Alvaro Morata failing to get going this season, while fellow attacker Joao Felix - out of Tuesday's Champions League clash with Bayer Leverkusen due to an ankle injury sustained against Valencia - has also yet to justify his €126m price tag.

Despite his misfiring side being fifth in LaLiga, Simeone believes there are also some positive performances to build on.

Asked about the criticism his side have faced in the wake of their latest draw, Simeone told reporters: "It's an opinion. I respect it.

"We've always worked hard, we keep working to improve. The team hasn't been consistent, but we've had our [good] moments in every game, against Getafe, Leganes, Celta Vigo... we have to look for [consistency] and keep trying.

"Morata had chances, Costa too. We have to threaten the goal. You have to live with possible down spells."

Koke has started all 11 of Atletico's matches this season and agrees that results will soon start to turn.

"I have to respect everyone's opinion," Koke said at Monday's pre-match news conference ahead of the visit of Leverkusen.

"I'm just focused on keep working hard and help my team winning. I respect people's opinion about me and the team. I cannot agree with some of those. We all, myself, my team-mates and the coaching staff are working hard to get good results. 

"We have a great squad and sooner or late we will get good results.

"Sometimes, people get tired of seeing the same faces for so long time, they get used to good things, so that is why some times there are some critics. 

"We are just three points behind Barcelona and level with Juventus in the Champions League group stage. Let's be calm as the season has just started. We will keep working on it and the positive results will eventually come up."

With Zinedine Zidane on thin ice, a familiar face could return to Real Madrid.

Pressure is mounting on Zidane following Madrid's shock LaLiga loss to Real Mallorca on Saturday, a result that means they sit behind Barcelona in the table.

Former Madrid head coach Mourinho could be the answer to their problems…

 

TOP STORY – MADRID REACH OUT TO MOU

Real Madrid have contacted Jose Mourinho as pressure mounts on head coach Zinedine Zidane, according to El Chiringuito.

Zidane – in his second spell in charge after winning three successive Champions League titles prior to leaving ahead of the 2018-19 season – has failed to convince upon his return to the LaLiga giants.

And ex-Manchester United manager Mourinho, who spent three years in the Spanish capital – winning the 2011-12 LaLiga title, is reportedly wanted by Madrid president Florentino Perez.

ROUND-UP

- Netherlands head coach Ronald Koeman could move to Barcelona in 2020. After Dutch Football Federation (KNVB) sporting director Nico-Jan Hoogma confirmed Koeman has a specific release clause in his contract built around his former club, Marca has linked the ex-Barca defender to Camp Nou.

Real Madrid are pushing to sign Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho and Salzburg teenager Erling Haaland, claims El Desmarque. Sancho has been heavily linked to Manchester United.

- Calciomercato says Arsenal are favourites to sign RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano. The 20-year-old was linked to the Gunners before the transfer window closed.

Inter are tracking Atalanta's Swedish teenager Dejan Kulusevski, reports Calciomercato. The 19-year-old is attracting interest during his loan spell at Parma, where he has scored two goals and supplied five assists in Serie A.

- According to SPORT, Barcelona are interested in two Bundesliga players. While Bayer Leverkusen sensation Kai Havertz is coveted, the LaLiga champions are also keeping an eye on Schalke's Amine Harit.

Zinedine Zidane left Gareth Bale and Luka Modric out of his Real Madrid squad for their Champions League trip to Galatasaray after the pair suffered injuries while on international duty.

After scoring in Wales' 1-1 draw with Croatia in Cardiff, Bale left the field limping and was later reported to be suffering from cramp, while Modric had to be substituted having sustained bruising to his right quadriceps.

The pair are joined by out-of-favour striker Mariano Diaz and calf injury victim Lucas Vazquez in missing the trip to Istanbul for a game in which Madrid badly need a win to revive their hopes of qualifying from Group A.

Los Blancos lost their opening group game 3-0 at Paris Saint-Germain and were held to a 2-2 draw by Club Brugge at Santiago Bernabeu, leaving them bottom of the group.

Tuesday's game provides Zidane's men with a chance to bounce back from their 1-0 defeat to Mallorca in LaLiga on Saturday and the Madrid coach welcomes Toni Kroos, Eden Hazard and Dani Carvajal back into his squad.

Ronald Koeman has a clause in his Netherlands contract that allows him to leave to coach Barcelona, but Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) director Nico-Jan Hoogma hopes he stays put.

One point from their final two qualifying matches in Group C will see Netherlands clinch their place at Euro 2020 and they are in good shape after winning their past four games.

Former Barca defender Koeman is under contract until the conclusion of the 2022 World Cup and Hoogma hopes not to change coach until after the tournament in Qatar.

"I hope we can work together for a very long time, because I think it is going very well," Hoogma said of Koeman on FOX Sports.

"But Ronald has long indicated that he wants to be Barcelona coach someday. Let's see what will happen.

"Success with Oranje will certainly help him. But again, I hope that the process continues up to and including the World Cup in Qatar."

Barcelona are top of LaLiga after nine matches in 2019-20 but question marks linger over the future of head coach Ernesto Valverde, who came under pressure towards the end of last season.

The Blaugrana's elimination from the Champions League semi-finals by Liverpool and defeat in the Copa del Rey final to Valencia left Valverde's position in doubt, but Hoogma indicated Koeman would not come cheap if there is an attempt to lure him to Camp Nou.

"Agreements have been made about it," said Hoogma. "They will have to pay something for him. How much? I'm not talking about that.

"After one year [of Koeman's time in charge] we still have a year to go to the European Championship, so this is not the time [to talk about it].

"No matter how I respond, there will always be people who say if they [Barcelona] come for him, he will go anyway."

Marcelo said Real Madrid's shock loss to Real Mallorca "hurts" as the LaLiga giants lost top spot to defending champions Barcelona.

Madrid crashed to their first LaLiga defeat of the season, with Zinedine Zidane's 10-man visitors succumbing to Lago Junior's early strike at Son Moix on Saturday.

Bitter rivals Barca leapfrogged Madrid into top spot thanks to their win over Eibar earlier in the day, and left-back Marcelo lamented the result away from home.

"We lost but we must keep going," Marcelo said. "It hurts to lose because we played well, but we conceded early on and then looked to make our comeback but it was not possible.

"We did not have time to think, they scored a goal and they defended and waited for the counter, that's no excuse though.

"We need to play well until the final whistle. We have won some games while lacking something. We're trying to do everything possible to win but LaLiga is tough these days."

It was not the result Zidane had in mind following the international break as Madrid looked to preserve their lead atop the table.

However, Mallorca's Lago stunned Madrid seven minutes into the match by finding the bottom-right corner.

Karim Benzema hit the crossbar before substitute Rodrygo Goes squandered a presentable chance and Madrid's hopes of a comeback were all but over when Alvaro Odriozola saw red 16 minutes from the end, with Mallorca holding firm to claim their first win over Los Blancos since 2009.

"We knew about Mallorca," Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois said. "The coach warned us they would come out with grit and real intensity. In the first five or 10 minutes, we were caught short. 

"We had chances but lacked that final touch. The goal scorer is right footed and he sent it in at the far post. It is a shame, we should have won here."

On Odriozola's dismissal, Courtois added: "In the first yellow [he] hit the ball, the second is fair. I think that at that time with a card there should be no foul, but hey, it is the adrenaline. Playing with 10 was more complicated."

Zinedine Zidane refused to say he is "worried" after Real Madrid lost to Real Mallorca but has called on his side to show greater consistency.

Madrid's unbeaten start to the LaLiga season was ended at Son Moix on Saturday thanks to a solitary goal from Lago Junior.

Zidane's side had beaten in-form Granada 4-2 prior to the international break, but his much-changed side struggled to create goalscoring chances against Mallorca as they fell to a defeat that leaves them a point behind league leaders Barcelona.

The Madrid head coach said it is a lack of consistent performances that is holding his side back at present, even if he is not overly concerned by the result.

"The problem is that we have to show every three days that we're good," Zidane said. "That's the difficulty - we don't do it.

"I won't say that I'm worried because I don't like the word, but if we want to win something this season, we need consistency."

Madrid were without the injured Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Gareth Bale and Lucas Vazquez, with Luka Jovic failing to impress in only his third league start for the club as Zidane set his side up in a 4-4-2.

Zidane insisted the absences were no excuse for their display as he laid down a challenge to his squad players to step up a show they are worthy of a place in the team.

"The injuries aren't an excuse," Zidane said. "There are players who aren't injured; we have more good payers, too.

"When it comes to their turn, they have to show that they're at the level to be here. We can't do anything about the injured players.

"We can't be surprised by a team playing in their own stadium. We knew what would happen. They surprised us because they scored, but then they backed down and we didn't find a solution."

Luka Jovic has found it hard to kick-start his Real Madrid career and Saturday's LaLiga defeat to Real Mallorca showed how much work the striker still has to do.

The 21-year-old, a reported €50million signing from Eintracht Frankfurt in the transfer window, has struggled to make an impact under Zinedine Zidane thanks largely to the continued good form of Karim Benzema.

Speaking on Friday, Zidane insisted Jovic was "not discouraged" at having previously started just two LaLiga matches and promised the forward would be given his chance.

He duly was for the visit to Son Moix, where Madrid's unbeaten start to the league season came to an end thanks to a fine first-half goal from Lago Junior seven minutes in.

Jovic started alongside Benzema in attack as Zidane made a number of changes, most likely with one eye on next Tuesday's Champions League trip to Galatasaray, but the two-pronged attack was a blunt one.

In his 66 minutes on the pitch, Jovic failed to have a shot or a single touch in the Mallorca penalty area, created no chances for team-mates and touched the ball just 25 times overall.

He only exchanged four passes with Benzema, too, highlighting just how much of a disconnect there was between the strikers on a day where Madrid's final ball was far too often wayward.

This was Mallorca's first win over Madrid in LaLiga since May 2009 and their first at home since February 2006, while it ended Madrid's unbeaten domestic run to leave them a point behind leaders Barcelona after nine matches.

The return of injured stars such as Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Gareth Bale will be welcome, but finding a way to spark Jovic into life might be a more pressing concern.

Real Madrid suffered their first LaLiga defeat of the season as Lago Junior's early strike earned Real Mallorca a shock 1-0 victory at Son Moix.

With Barcelona having leapfrogged Zinedine Zidane's side to lead the way in LaLiga earlier on Saturday, Madrid needed a victory to move back to the top of the pile.

But Mallorca had other ideas and Lago stunned Madrid seven minutes by sending what was the home side's only shot on target in the entire match into the bottom-right corner.

Karim Benzema hit the crossbar before substitute Rodrygo Goes squandered a presentable chance and Madrid's hopes of a comeback were all but over when Alvaro Odriozola saw red in the 74th minute, with Mallorca holding firm to claim their first win over Los Blancos since 2009.

Madrid looked to have quickly settled into their rhythm but were behind when Lago skipped inside Odriozola and curled a superb finish beyond Thibaut Courtois.

Ante Budimir thought he doubled Mallorca's tally seven minutes later when he was set up by Lago, only for his fine strike to be disallowed for offside.

Benzema was inches away from restoring parity before the half-hour mark - his close-range half-volley bouncing back off the woodwork.

Vinicius Junior burst through Mallorca's ranks early in the second half and teed up Benzema, but the Frenchman sent his strike at Manolo Reina.

Rodrygo replaced Isco in the 66th minute and should have done better when he was fed by Benzema, his touch getting away from him and the opening evaporated.

But as the Madrid pressure was building, Odriozola received a second yellow card for a reckless lunge on Iddrisu Baba to round off a frustrating night for the visitors.

 

What does it mean? Barca back on top

Reigning LaLiga champions Barca cruised to a 3-0 victory over Eibar to put the pressure back onto Madrid.

Los Blancos failed to respond and now sit second, a point above this season's surprise package Granada and one behind Barca. The rivals were scheduled to meet in El Clasico next Saturday, but perhaps the postponement due to political tensions in Catalonia has worked in Madrid's favour.

Lago runs Madrid ragged

Mallorca's winger scored 11 goals in the Segunda Division last term but had not replicated that form this season prior to Saturday's encounter.

But he came good against the biggest opponents of all as, boosted by his goal, he was a constant tormentor of Madrid's defence. 

Jovic fails to take his chance

Luka Jovic has often been given short shrift by Zidane this term but, handed the opportunity to impress from the start, he struggled to make an impact, even when Mallorca's defending became more hap-hazard after the interval.

What's next?

Madrid will aim to bounce back against Galatasaray in the Champions League on Tuesday, while Mallorca's next outing is against lowly Leganes in LaLiga.

Joao Felix is set for a spell on the sidelines after Atletico Madrid confirmed he suffered a grade two sprain to a right ankle ligament against Valencia.

Portugal international Joao Felix, who joined Atletico in a €126million transfer from Benfica in the close season, limped out of Saturday's 1-1 LaLiga draw at the Wanda Metropolitano with 10 minutes remaining.

The 19-year-old appeared to twist his ankle in a challenge with Dani Parejo and left Diego Simeone's side down to 10 men, having used all three of their substitutions.

Atleti boss Simeone acknowledged in his post-match news conference that Joao Felix's injury "could be serious" and scans have confirmed a grade two sprain of the external lateral ligament.

"Joao Felix underwent an X-ray and MRI scan at the Clinica Universidad de Navarra on Saturday and the report indicates he suffered a grade two sprain of the external lateral ligament of the right ankle," Atleti stated on their website.

It remains to be seen how long the teenager will be out for, though reports suggest he will miss a minimum of two weeks.

Joao Felix could consequently be forced to sit out matches against Bayer Leverkusen, Athletic Bilbao, Deportivo Alaves and Sevilla.

Since his club-record move to Atleti, the forward has scored two goals and providing one assist in LaLiga.

Diego Simeone indicated the injury Joao Felix suffered in Atletico Madrid's LaLiga draw with Valencia on Saturday "could be serious".

Joao Felix, who joined Atletico in a €126million transfer in the close season, hobbled off with 10 minutes left at the Wanda Metropolitano after twisting his ankle in a tussle for the ball with Dani Parejo.

The injury left the hosts, who had already used all three substitutions, with 10 men and Valencia quickly added insult to injury as Parejo bent home a stunning free-kick to equalise and claim a 1-1 draw.

Atletico confirmed Joao Felix will have tests to confirm the severity of the injury and speaking in his post-match media conference, Simeone said: "It did not seem much at first, but the doctors say it could be serious."

Diego Costa opened the scoring for Atletico with a 36th-minute penalty, but this was another game in which he and strike partner Alvaro Morata struggled to take their chances.

The stalemate left Atletico fourth in LaLiga having failed to win five of their past six matches. Simeone's men have scored just three goals in that run and have not been victorious at home in the top flight since a 3-2 defeat of Eibar on September 1, this latest setback giving leaders Real Madrid the chance to go five points ahead of them.

"Costa and Morata know that the only path is to keep working, to insist. Forwards know that when they score goals they are fantastic, and when they don't people point fingers," added Simeone.

"We are a new team, and we don't yet have balance to manage moments in games, above all when we need to suffer and position ourselves well and keep calm. But we are convinced we have players to do this, there is work to do, and I like that.

"Nobody thought this would be an easy season, I knew we would have a lot of work to do, to get the team balanced.

"In certain moments some people look to point fingers, others to work hard. Those who want to work hard will get on well with me. Those who point fingers won't.

"We are in a very good moment to work hard, and look to see who wants to work, and who does not like to work."

Valencia are unbeaten in five league games, with coach Albert Celades heaping praise on his players, particularly Parejo, for earning a share of the spoils from a game in which they were often on the back foot.

"To come here against this team, we knew it would be difficult. The team responded in a brilliant way in the second half, showed a lot of personality and ambition," Celades said.

"It is a luxury for us to have a player like Parejo, with his personality. When he has the ball, things happen. I love the way he wants to play, to make others play, to cause problems for the opposition."

Dani Parejo's wondrous late free-kick earned Valencia a 1-1 draw at Atletico Madrid, who were dealt a huge blow with an injury to Joao Felix.

Atletico appeared on course for a routine 1-0 win thanks to Diego Costa's 36th-minute penalty, the striker finding the net from the spot in a game that saw he and Alvaro Morata miss great chances.

However, the much-maligned forward pair's profligacy was eventually punished as Joao Felix, the €126million close-season signing from Benfica, had to be helped off with 10 minutes remaining, leaving an Atletico side that had already used all three substitutes with 10 men.

Parejo quickly took advantage in stunning fashion, bending a sublime strike beyond Jan Oblak and into the top-right corner to secure a share of the spoils despite Lee Kang-in's injury-time red card.

 

 

 

Ernesto Valverde thinks "it is fashionable not to agree on anything in political matters" and is keen for a new date for Barcelona's Clasico contest with Real Madrid to be signed off as soon as possible.

The first LaLiga meeting between the fierce rivals this season was due to take place next Saturday at Camp Nou but the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) confirmed on Friday the match was postponed due to the ongoing political tensions and protests in Catalonia.

There were violent scenes in Barcelona this week after nine Catalan political leaders received long prison sentences over their roles in the region's 2017 referendum and subsequent unilateral declaration of independence.

The RFEF intervened after a rally in the city by pro-independence politicians was called for the same day as the Clasico.

Barca later suggested December 18 as a potential new date and Madrid agreed with the proposal, which still requires ratification from the RFEF's Competition Committee.

Speaking after Barca's 3-0 triumph at Eibar on Saturday, Valverde said: "I hope and I trust that we play this match before the end of the first round of fixtures, or at least before the end of the season.

"It's fashionable to not agree on anything on political issues. I hope that [there is an agreement] in this. I don't think it's too difficult."

On the pitch, Barca ultimately cruised at Ipurua with Antoine Griezmann, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez all on target in a win that saw the Blaugrana reach LaLiga's summit, albeit Madrid can reclaim top spot against Real Mallorca later on Saturday.

It was one of the best collaborative performances the trio have produced since Griezmann's close-season switch from Atletico Madrid and Valverde said it was a matter of time before the triumvirate gained an understanding playing with one another.

"It's a question of time and of playing matches," Valverde added.

"In the end, great players always find each other [on the pitch] and know where their team-mates will be and know where the pass will go.

"They've participated and worked very hard. This is the reward. They scored a goal each, they understood each other well.

"The new players are finding their place and trying to understand each other. It's a question of time before they understand each other better."

Antoine Griezmann believes his alliance with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez is progressing well after the forward trio combined to fine effect in the 3-0 win at Eibar.

Griezmann settled Barca after a frantic opening to the contest, putting them ahead in the 13th minute.

The €120million man then had a hand in second-half goals for Messi and Suarez as Barca moved to the top of the table ahead of Real Madrid playing later on Saturday.

"There will be better or worse days, but we are getting to know each other little by little and we will do more," he told Movistar LaLiga.

Griezmann's opener was made possible by his well-timed run and a wonderful raking pass from centre-back Clement Lenglet – a move the two France internationals conceived before executing it impressively.

"We knew that Eibar were pressing a lot above and I told Lenglet that, if he saw me near the sideline, he should put it long," Griezmann said. "He did so and went 0-1.

"It was important to win all three points because, after the international break, it is always difficult to come on away trips. 

"It has been a good game and now we think about the Champions League."

Ernesto Valverde's side travel to face Slavia Prague on Wednesday, having taken four points from their opening two European matches versus Borussia Dortmund and Inter.

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