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Barcelona have sacked one of their directors after he appeared to suggest the club’s record goalscorer and five-time Balon d’Or winner Lionel Messi was over-rated.

Asked about Messi’s role in Barcelona’s cup win over Athletic Bilbao – when the player scored free-kicks in both legs to put Barca through – Pere Gratacos said:

‘It wasn’t just Leo. Leo is one of the most important players in the team, but Barcelona went through because of the whole team.

‘Leo without Neymar, without Suarez, without Iniesta, without Pique, without the other players, would not be as good a player, although it is clear that he is the best player.’

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi completed a quest to score against every top-flight team in La Liga by finding the net in a 5-0 win over Las Palmas on Saturday.

Luis Suarez added two goals and Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal also scored as Barcelona moved within two points of Real Madrid, who play at Sevilla on Sunday and hold another game in hand.

Suarez opened the scoring on 14 minutes following a low cross from Andre Gomes.

Messi tapped home to make it 2-0 early in the second half after Las Palmas goalkeeper Javi Varas failed to handle a left-flank cross by Rafinha and left the ball in front of the goal.

Barcelona have been drawn against Real Sociedad in the quarter-finals of the 2016-17 Copa del Rey, as they continue their campaign to win the tournament for the third year running.

Real Madrid have been paired with Celta Vigo in the last eight after Los Blancos saw off 2015-16 finalists Sevilla in the previous round.

Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid will take on Eibar and Segunda Division side Alcorcon will face Alaves.

Barca have now reached the last eight of the Copa in seven successive seasons. They had to battle to get past Athletic Bilbao in the last 16—Lionel Messi’s 78th-minute free-kick in Wednesday’s second leg prevented the need for extra time—and La Real, who are sixth in La Liga, could prove even more challenging opponents.

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane admitted his side had rode their luck at times in Thursday’s Copa del Rey last-16 second leg 3-3 draw at Sevilla, but added that over the two legs they deserved to go through 6-3 on aggregate.

Sevilla started 3-0 down from last week’s Bernabeu first leg, but their fast start was rewarded when Madrid right-back Danilo headed a cross into his own net after just 10 minutes.

A furious Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane called out Sevilla fans for the negative reception they gave Sergio Ramos in the Copa del Rey on Thursday.

Ramos was subjected to insulting chants by Sevilla supporters during the game, more so after he scored a Panenka penalty and cupped his ears to the crowd in celebration.

“Booing for Ramos? I can’t be happy with that and neither can he, but we can’t avoid it,” the Madrid Coach said after the 3-3 draw.

“He didn’t do anything important, he played his game, he’s not happy because he used to play here, he’s from here, and he’s certainly hurt by it.

A Gareth Bale-style goal from 20-year-old Marco Asensio, a Sergio Ramos Paneka penalty, and a third goal from Karim Benzema with the last kick of the game, put Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals and took their unbeaten run to 40 matches.

Sevilla came into the second leg 3-0 down from the first game but they are the team that never know when they are beaten and with the help of a debut goal from former Manchester City forward Stevan Jovetic they so nearly turned the tie around and ended Madrid’s run.

The FIFA Council has rubber-stamped plans to expand the World Cup in 2026 to 48 teams, adding 16 nations.

This is the first time since the 1998 World Cup that changes have been made to the makeup of the tournament, with the 2026 competition set to feature 16 groups of three.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s preferred option for change was for a 2026 competition featuring 16 groups of three, followed by a 32-team knockout, increasing the number of games from 64 to 80 but remaining inside a 32-day schedule.

Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has topped off an incredible year by winning FIFA’s inaugural Best Player Award for 2016.

You can debate whether Ronaldo or Lionel Messi is the better player, but their is no denying that CR7 had the better 2016. Just look at what Ronaldo won:

  • Euro 2016
  • Champions League
  • UEFA Super Cup
  • FIFA Club World Cup
  • Ballon d’Or
  • UEFA Player of Year
  • FIFA Player of Year
  • UEFA Player of Year
  • FIFA Player of Year

Sevilla have completed the loan signing of striker Stevan Jovetic from Inter, and have the option to make the move permanent at the end of the season.

The La Liga club announced the signing on Tuesday afternoon, tweeting out a picture of Jovetic holding a Sevilla shirt with the No 16 on the back.

And speaking at his unveiling the 27-year-old revealed that he spoke to his former Manchester City team-mate Samir Nasri, who is currently on loan at the Andalusian outfit, about joining Jorge Sampaoli’s side.

‘Samir Nasri told me that Sevilla was a good club,’ said Jovetic at his press conference.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were selected alongside Antoine Griezmann up front in the XI voted for by UEFA.com users.

However, there was no room for any of the Premier League’s star names as the team was dominated by La Liga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The Spanish league boasted eight players in the team with Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos and Barcelona’s Gerard Pique the picks in defence.

Like the attack, the midfield was also made up of players playing in Spain – Real duo Toni Kroos and Luka Modric joined in the centre by Andres Iniesta.