Diego Simeone called on everyone associated with Atletico Madrid to pull in the same direction after his side saw off Athletic Bilbao to return to winning ways in LaLiga.

Atletico snapped a streak of three successive league draws with Saturday's 2-0 home victory thanks to goals from Saul Niguez and Alvaro Morata.

Back-to-back wins in all competitions has helped to lift the mood around Wanda Metropolitano, with Koke being greeted warmly against Athletic just four days on from being jeered by the same supporters in the narrow 1-0 Champions League win against Bayer Leverkusen.

Following Atletico's third home match in a week, head coach Simeone paid tribute to the club's fanbase and talked up the importance of showing a united front.

"We have to be together forever," he said at his post-match news conference. "We are a new team, with many new players. Today, for example, we had a backline of new signings.  

"We know what our aim is and we need the fans, directors, players, coaches to be like horses looking forward. 

"Koke may have bad games, but he is always there, he covers well and he is important to the team. 

He added: "The fans were extraordinary again, they are the best around, as I've said before... 180,000 people in three games. 

"It's not easy to come to seven or nine games, but they are always there. We, with total humility, aim to give our best, even though it doesn't always come off."

A second win in seven LaLiga outings lifted Atletico up to second place and level on points with leaders Barcelona, who have a game in hand to play against third-place Real Madrid.

Simeone selected Angel Correa over the benched Diego Costa for the comfortable home victory and the versatile Argentine forward repaid that faith by setting up both goals.

"He has always been a striker," Simeone replied when asked about Correa's best position in the side. "We often put him in a place where he doesn't feel comfortable but he puts in a great effort.

"His natural position is a striker. In that position he can better express his dribbling, his power, his turns, like the one for the first goal. He is a player who has done very well."

Saul Niguez and Alvaro Morata were on target as Atletico Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao 2-0 at Wanda Metropolitano to return to winning ways and move up to second in LaLiga.

The home side had drawn three league games in a row - and four of their last five - to lose ground in the title race, but they rediscovered their scoring touch on Saturday.

Saul opened the scoring for Diego Simeone's men with just under half an hour played and Morata grabbed a second 64 minutes in to seal the victory.

A second win in seven league matches lifted Atletico a point above third-placed Real Madrid and behind leaders Barcelona on goal difference alone, though both those sides have a game in hand to play after this week's El Clasico was postponed for safety reasons.

Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Atletico Madrid are among a host of major clubs interested in signing Brescia midfielder Sandro Tonali, according to the club's owner and president Massimo Cellino.

Tonali, 19, is one of Italy's brightest prospects, having broken into Brescia's first-team picture at the age of 17.

A technically gifted deep-lying playmaker who is often likened to Azzurri great Andrea Pirlo, Tonali made his first appearance for Italy in the Euro 2020 qualifying win over Liechtenstein on October 15.

He played 34 league games last season as Brescia were crowned Serie B champions and earned promotion back to the top flight, with many expecting the midfielder to be snapped up by a bigger club.

Brescia have managed to hold onto him, though, with Cellino suggesting it would take an eye-watering €300million for the club to part with him.

Asked by La Gazzetta dello Sport who was interested in Tonali, Cellino said: "All the big Italian clubs. Abroad there's Atletico Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City, but in my view, he'd be better off remaining a key player with Brescia.

"His agent and his parents were telling me about this €50million evaluation. I replied that for me he is worth €300million, which means I don't want to sell.

"I have a dream. If Sandro accepts, I am ready to make a big financial sacrifice to extend his contract. It's up to him to decide. He can stay here and enjoy his football or go to a big club and risk being left on the bench."

Kylian Mbappe is long admired by Real Madrid and they are again intent on adding the 20-year-old to their front line, it seems.

Mbappe was linked with a switch to the Santiago Bernabeu before opting to stay in Ligue 1 when joining Paris Saint-Germain from Monaco in the 2017-18 season.

The Spanish giants have not forgotten about the France international, though, and are planning to move two superstars on in order to get their man, according to reports.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE BACK ON MADRID'S RADAR WITH BALE AND JAMES TO MAKE WAY

Real Madrid were unable to land Kylian Mbappe a couple of seasons ago, but they are keen to sign him over the next few transfer windows, according to Calciomercato.

Mbappe is one of world football's star names and would fit into the old Galactico culture at Madrid, although Los Blancos would need to offload two star names in order to raise finances and complete a deal with Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain.

One of those names is Gareth Bale, who is still reportedly unhappy at Madrid, while Colombia playmaker James Rodriguez could also move on having struggled at times to find form this season following a loan spell at Bayern Munich.

It remains to be seen whether any club is willing to pay the substantial transfer fee and wages required to secure either of the duo, but if they do make way then it could pave the way for Mbappe's move.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying in Madrid and ElDesmarque believe Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba could be heading to Real Madrid in exchange for Gareth Bale and €90million.

- Bleacher Report claim Mesut Ozil's advisors are trying to convince the Arsenal playmaker to make a switch to MLS.

- Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly is the number one transfer target for Manchester City, according to Calciomercato.

- Manchester Evening News are reporting City may also take up their option to buy back Douglas Luiz from Aston Villa.

- Frank Lampard is hopefully of securing Fikayo Tomori and Tammy Abraham to new contracts at Chelsea, Goal have said.

- Athletic Bilbao defender Unai Nunez is a January transfer target for Bayern Munich, say Spox.

- Argentina striker Lautaro Martinez's contract talks with Inter have been put on ice as Barcelona and United circle for the 22-year-old's signature, according to Calciomercato.

Diego Simeone came to Koke's defence after the Atletico Madrid midfielder was singled out for criticism from sections of the Wanda Metropolitano support.

Club stalwart Koke was jeered for his performance during the narrow Champions League win over Bayer Leverkusen in midweek, although he later insisted he has "total confidence" in himself.

Atletico coach Simeone had some words of comfort as they prepared to face Athletic Bilbao in a third consecutive home match, suggesting even he has had to overcome boos at times.

"Of course the fans have jeered me, in the Calderon itself in some games," he told a news conference. "I remember being whistled just because I wasn't doing a good game.

"People are spontaneous, they say what they feel. They are used to a type of situation and that is what they want.

"It is us who have to strive to improve and not have that tension. It's not just Koke - it's everyone's responsibility."

Asked why Koke might now be targeted by fans, Simeone acknowledged the midfielder may need to go back to basics.

"He is occupying too many positions," the coach said. "Maybe he should focus more on his own.

"Often he wants to fix a lot with his tactical ability. He wants to do more than he is responsible for and ends up paying for what is not his responsibility.

"He wants to fix problems in other parts of the field which are not fixable. With the tactical ability he has and the information he has gathered over the years, this makes him want to do more than he has to do.

"He is a great professional and a great player."

As Simeone reflects on criticism of himself and his team, one issue for which Atleti regularly face scrutiny is a lack of threat in the final third.

Asked if this could ever complement the usual defensive stubbornness of his side, Simeone claimed "creativity" was not Atleti's problem.

"I believe that what we need is to be more practical, not to have more creativity," he said. "Creativity is not the only factor that improves you. Creativity is good and practicality is better."

The future of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is once again in the headlines.

Lazio star Milinkovic-Savic has been linked with Manchester United, Juventus, Real Madrid, Inter and Paris Saint-Germain.

Now another club are reportedly in the mix for the Serbia international midfielder.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA EYE MILINKOVIC-SAVIC

Chelsea sent scouts to watch Lazio star Sergej Milinkovic-Savic in the Europa League, reports TuttoMercato.

One of the most in-demand midfielders in Europe, Milinkovic-Savic has attracted interest from Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and Inter.

Milinkovic-Savic – who was reportedly set to join United if Paul Pogba left Old Trafford – was watched as Lazio lost 2-1 to Celtic in Glasgow on Thursday.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Stamford Bridge and The Sun claims Chelsea are interested in Bournemouth forward Callum Wilson and RB Leipzig star Timo Werner.

Manchester United have rekindled their interest in Bayern Munich's Thomas Muller, according to Sport BILD. Muller was wanted by former United boss Louis van Gaal before the Dutchman's departure in 2016. Now with Muller seeking a Bayern exit, United and Inter are in the mix for the Germany international.

- The prospect of Zlatan Ibrahimovic joining Antonio Conte's Inter has hit a snag. According to CalcioMercato, the presence of agent Mino Raiola could cause an issue in talks. Ibrahimovic's LA Galaxy contract is coming to an end and the veteran has been linked to Napoli and Bologna.

- Sky Sport Italia says free agent Jack Rodwell is set for a shock move to Serie A outfit Roma. The former Manchester City midfielder, who spent time at Blackburn Rovers last season, is poised to undergo a medical.

Rivaldo believes Kylian Mbappe "must leave" Paris Saint-Germain for LaLiga or the Premier League to confirm himself as the heir to superstar Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Mbappe has established himself as one of the best forwards in the world, having claimed silverware with Monaco and PSG, while he helped France to World Cup glory in 2018.

The 20-year-old sensation – who has been nominated for the Ballon d'Or – continues to be linked with LaLiga giants Real Madrid following his exploits for the Ligue 1 holders in Paris.

While Rivaldo doubts the chances of former club Barcelona signing Mbappe, he called on the Frenchman to leave PSG to fulfil his enormous potential.

"I think it would be tough for Barcelona to sign him in the future, as he is very expensive due to his young age, world champion status and natural ability that makes him one of the biggest prospects in the world of football," Rivaldo told Betfair.com.

"If Barca had so many problems in trying to sign Neymar, just imagine how much PSG would be asking for the Frenchman, so it's almost impossible to bring this excellent player to Catalonia at the moment.

"There's no doubt Mbappe has the qualities to become one of the best in the world, as he is playing great football and has huge potential. He would be able to develop his talent by playing LaLiga or the Premier League. Ligue 1 is clearly below the competitive level of Spain or England.

"With all due respect to PSG, I believe he must leave for a Spanish or big English team in the future to confirm himself as the heir to Messi or Ronaldo. The best players need to play in the best leagues."

Mbappe came off the bench and scored a hat-trick in a devastating performance as PSG routed Club Brugge 5-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday.

The PSG star became the youngest player to score 15 Champions League goals aged 20 years, 306 days, eclipsing Barca's Messi – who was 21 years, 288 days.

Mbappe has scored six goals across all competitions for Thomas Tuchel's PSG this season.

Ryan Giggs described Lionel Messi as a "once in a lifetime player" after being asked for his verdict on the eternal debate over who is better between the Barcelona forward and Cristiano Ronaldo.

The superstar duo dominated the Ballon d'Or voting for more than a decade, winning it five times apiece before Luka Modric broke their stranglehold in 2018.

Messi has spent his entire senior career with Barcelona while Ronaldo has starred for Manchester United, Real Madrid and now Juventus.

Giggs played alongside Ronaldo at Old Trafford and said he will always back his former team-mate but could not hide away from the fact a player of Messi's quality is a one-off.

"Obviously I lean towards Ronaldo a little bit because I played with him and saw him develop as a player," he told DAZN. "But Messi is a genius, a once-in-a-lifetime player. It's as simple as that."

Giggs is now in charge of the Wales senior side, where he coaches Ronaldo's ex-team mate Gareth Bale, who is in his seventh season at Madrid. 

Bale came close to leaving the Santiago Bernabeu in the last transfer window, but a move to China collapsed and he has been used seven times in all competitions this season.

Giggs found Bale's situation in the Spanish capital unusual given what he has achieved at the club.

"It's strange. From the outside, it looks strange," he said. "For the quality he possesses and what he's won there: four Champions Leagues.

"I'm his coach for Wales, he's recently been my captain, and is a good professional. He's a player that can turn a game on its head like he did against Liverpool for Madrid."

Los Angeles FC forward Carlos Vela remains keen on the idea of linking up with Lionel Messi in a loan spell at Barcelona at the end of the MLS season.

LaLiga giants Barca reportedly considered a left-field move for the former Arsenal and Real Sociedad attacker in January as they sought cover for Luis Suarez.

MLS MVP candidate Vela confirmed a deal was "really close" but the short-term switch failed to materialise as the Spanish champions instead signed Kevin-Prince Boateng, who barely featured in his six months at the club.

Were Barca to come calling again, though, Vela would seize the chance to return to LaLiga.

He told the New York Times: "Who could say no to playing with Messi for four months and then coming back to LA?

"Enjoy, learn and then come back home."

For now, Vela is focused on LAFC's playoff campaign and an El Trafico meeting with LA Galaxy in the Western Conference semi-finals on Thursday.

The Mexican scored a record-breaking 34 regular-season goals this year as LAFC won the Supporters' Shield, and this match has been billed as a showdown with Galaxy talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Earlier this year, Ibrahimovic rubbished suggestions Vela was the best player in the league, questioning why his rival was playing in the United States in his prime.

"I have not had the pleasure [of meeting Ibrahimovic]," Vela said, adding: "Maybe the people don't really love my decision [to play in MLS].

"But for me, it was the best option, and I'm really happy that I made it because I am enjoying it."

Juventus are set to have money to splash at the end of the season.

Eight-time reigning Serie A champions Juve are repeating the rewards of their domestic dominance.

And it could see some of Europe's elite join Cristiano Ronaldo in Turin.

 

TOP STORY - JUVENTUS REACH FOR THE STARS

Juventus are eyeing a blockbuster signing, with Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Paul Pogba the targets, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

Italian champions Juve are reportedly set to announce an increase of capital by €300million as they establish their position among Europe's elite clubs.

PSG's superstar pair Mbappe and Neymar fit the profile of a future eye-catching signing, as well as Manchester United's former Juve midfielder Pogba, Gazzetta says.

The report also mentions Borussia Dortmund sensation Jadon Sancho, Atletico Madrid's Joao Felix and Tottenham forward Son Heung-min.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester Evening News reports Manchester United are confident about signing James Maddison from Leicester City. After splashing out a world-record fee for a defender to lure Harry Maguire from Leicester, United are said to have their eyes on another Foxes star as they look to add quality in the attacking third.

Real Madrid are considering a move for AC Milan full-back David Calabria, according to Fichajes.net. The alternatives would be RB Leipzig's Lukas Klostermann and Youcef Atal from Nice as Madrid reportedly look to replace Alvaro Odriozola.

West Ham and Wolves are eyeing January moves for Milan star Suso, says The Sun. The former Liverpool attacker was wanted by Roma during the previous window.

- Soccer Link says Paris Saint-Germain are monitoring Chelsea defender Tariq Lamptey and plan to sign him at the end of the season. The 19-year-old's contract expires at the end of the campaign.

Arsenal will have to spend £30.1million (€35m) if they want to make Dani Ceballos' loan deal from Real Madrid permanent, according to El Desmarque.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich rejected an offer from a Middle East-based consortium to buy the Premier League club, The Daily Telegraph reports.

- The Guardian says Manchester City are stepping up their pursuit to sign in-demand Napoli star Fabian Ruiz. Fabian is also being targeted by Barcelona and Madrid.

Antoine Griezmann scored his fourth goal in eight LaLiga appearances for Barcelona as the Spanish champions beat Eibar 3-0, and he leads the line in this week's FIFA 20 FUT Team of the Week.

The France World Cup winner is joined by an all-star cast in this week's line-up, including Paris Saint-Germain's in-form winger Angel Di Maria.

After scoring twice in his side's 4-1 victory at Nice in Ligue 1, Di Maria was in scintillating form as PSG beat Club Brugge 5-0 in the Champions League.

Not all of this week's selection are competing towards the top of their respective domestic leagues, with Watford's Abdoulaye Doucoure earning a place for his goal-scoring performance in the Premier League basement club's 1-1 draw with Tottenham.

Monaco are 14th in Ligue 1 and they will need more of the same from Wissam Ben Yedder if they are to turn their season around - he scored a brace in their 3-2 win over Rennes.

Find out who else made FIFA's Ultimate Team line-up below.

FUT Team of the Week

GK: Stephane Ruffier (Saint-Etienne) - 86

CB: Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund) - 88

CB: Marcos Alonso (Chelsea) - 84

CB: Yerry Mina (Everton) - 82

CM: Dani Parejo (Valencia) - 87

CAM: Taison (Shakhtar Donetsk) - 84

CM: Abdoulaye Doucoure (Watford) - 84

RW: Radja Nainggolan (Cagliari) - 85

LW: Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona) - 90

RW: Angel Di Maria (PSG) - 87

ST: Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco) - 85

SUBSTITUTES

GK: Alfred Gomis (Dijon) - 81

CB: William Troost-Ekong (Udinese) - 81

CDM: Tomas Soucek (Slavia Prague) - 82

LM: Petros Mantalos (AEK Athens) - 81

ST: Lautaro Martinez (Inter) - 84

ST: Angel (Getafe) - 82

LW: Jack Grealish (Aston Villa) - 81

RESERVES

LM: Mislav Orsic (Dinamo Zagreb) - 79

LM: Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders) - 78

ST: Andreas Cornelius (Parma) - 80

ST: Daniel Candeias (Genclerbirligi) - 79

ST: Henok Goitom (AIK) - 78

LaLiga has confirmed it is considering legal action in response to the selection of December 18 as the new date for the postponed Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid.

The announcement comes in the immediate aftermath of the Royal Spanish Football Federation's (RFEF) acceptance of the date proposed by bitter rivals Barca and Madrid, which the Competition Committee approved on Wednesday.

Civil unrest in Catalonia forced the first Clasico of the 2019-20 season, which was originally set to take place on October 26, to be postponed.

The clubs at the centre of Spanish football's showpiece fixture reached a quick consensus on a new date but LaLiga, responsible for administering the top two divisions, opposes December 18 as it falls in midweek.

President Javier Tebas is said to favour December 7, a Saturday, in line with the original plan for the game and LaLiga has now reaffirmed its resistance to the selected date.

A statement read: "LaLiga does not share the resolution of the Competition Committee to set December 18 - following the agreement reached by Barcelona and Real Madrid, despite LaLiga's refusal - as the date of the previously postponed Clasico.

"It is studying the documentation recently received from the file referring to this procedure to assess the possible legal actions to be taken against the corresponding institutions and before the public bodies or jurisdictional bodies that it deems appropriate."

LaLiga further questioned the "briefness of the resolution" and referred to a "lack of reference to legal norms" as potential grounds for legal action.

Earlier, RFEF said LaLiga had made numerous submissions to the rescheduling process that were deemed to be "not binding".

"At its meeting today, the Committee has also analysed the latest pleas of the clubs, who stood by their initial proposal to play the game on December 18," RFEF added.

The match was postponed last week as violent scenes broke 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.

The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has accepted Barcelona and Real Madrid's joint request for the rescheduled Clasico to take place on December 18.

Bitter rivals Barca and Madrid reached a quick consensus on a potential new date for the fixture after civil unrest in Catalonia forced their first encounter of the 2019-20 season, which was originally set for October 26, to be postponed.

RFEF's Competition Committee announced the acceptance of the proposal on Wednesday, but the agreed date may yet face further opposition from LaLiga.

According to reports, the administrator of Spanish football's top two tiers could challenge the decision in court as it opposes the idea of playing a match of such immense global interest in midweek.

LaLiga is said to favour December 7, a Saturday, in line with the original plan for the game.

In a statement, RFEF said it had assessed "numerous reports" submitted by LaLiga but deemed them to be "not binding".

It read: "The decision of the Competition Committee has come after analysing in recent days the proposals of both clubs, which it invited to agree on a date and who agreed to select December 18 for the celebration of the postponed match.

"It has also analysed a report of the RFEF Competition Area as well as the numerous reports submitted by the National Professional Football League [LaLiga], which are not binding.

"At its meeting today, the Committee has also analysed the latest pleas of the clubs, who stood by their initial proposal to play the game on December 18."

Thibaut Courtois made the move to Real Madrid in 2018, but he is already seemingly under pressure in Spain.

Life at the Santiago Bernabeu has not gone according to plan for the former Chelsea goalkeeper.

And Madrid already have their eyes on a potential replacement…

 

TOP STORY – MADRID EYE SIMON AS COURTOIS REPLACEMENT

Real Madrid have identified Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Unai Simon as a potential replacement for Thibaut Courtois, according to El Desmarque.

Courtois swapped Chelsea for Madrid in 2018, yet the Belgium international has not convinced amid growing criticism in the Spanish capital.

Simon has reportedly attracted interest from Madrid, who would need to pay the 22-year-old's €50million release clause.

 

ROUND-UP

Borussia Dortmund fear losing Manchester United target Jadon Sancho, according to Sport1. Sancho was suspended for last week's Bundesliga win over Borussia Monchengladbach after returning late from international duty.

- Sport claims Barcelona are ready to offload midfielders Ivan Rakitic, Carles Alena and Riqui Puig in January. Rakitic has been heavily linked to Serie A side Inter, while Tottenham are rumoured to be interested in Alena.

Manchester United have been given a boost in their pursuit of Mario Mandzukic after the Juventus striker slashed his wage demands, according to The Sun. Mandzukic is out of favour in Turin and set to leave in the January transfer window.

- Sport Bild says Schalke goalkeeper Alexander Nubel has turned down offers from Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain, Atletico Madrid, RB Leipzig and Roma. The 23-year-old only wants to join Bayern Munich should he leave Schalke when his contract expires at the end of the season.

- The German publication also claims Ralf Rangnick is a candidate to replace Niko Kovac if Bayern Munich decide to part with their current head coach. Bild, however, also says Rangnick is a candidate at Manchester United.

- Calciomercato says AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund are interested in Bayern Munich centre-back Lars Lukas Mai. Dortmund is believed to be the teenager's favoured destination.

- Real Madrid have informed Brahim Diaz he can leave the LaLiga club, reports AS. It comes less than a year after his arrival from Manchester City.

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."

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.