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sevilla-europa-leagueMarcelino insists his Villarreal players still have work to do before they can reach the UEFA Europa League group stages, despite Thursday night’s 3-0 victory at Astana. Goals from Cani, Giovani dos Santos and Mario Gaspar in Kazakhstan ensured the Yellow Submarine built a healthy lead in the two-legged play-off.

Barring a shock result at El Madrigal next week, Marcelino’s men will make it through to the next round, but the former Sevilla boss knows Astana have the potential to raise their game for the second leg. He told villarrealcf.es:

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DIEGO-SIMEONEDiego Simeone has already conceded that Atletico Madrid may have fallen too far behind Barcelona and Real Madrid to retain their Spanish title. Despite emerging from the shadows of La Liga’s big two to claim their first title for 18 years last season, the Atleti coach believes that a summer of aggressive spending by those sides will make it extremely tough to defend their crown.

“I don’t like lying to people, and one thing is clear: we cannot compete with Real and Barcelona,” Simeone told La Gazzetto Dello Sport. “Our rivals are Sevilla, Valencia, Athletic Bilbao, and the target is third place.

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luka-modricCroatia midfielder Luka Modric has signed a new four-year contract with Real Madrid.

The 28-year-old midfielder, who started in Tuesday’s Spanish Super Cup first-leg draw against Atletico Madrid, moved to the Bernabeu in 2012 and helped Carlo Ancelotti’s side to UEFA Champions League and Copa del Rey glory last term.

“Real Madrid CF announces the extension of Luka Modric’s contract, linking him to the club for the next four seasons,” a short statement from the club read.

Modric arrived at the Bernabéu at the end of the summer 2012 after a lengthy tug of war for the player with Tottenham Hotspurs. He cost 30 million euros plus add ons, and signed a four year deal.

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Barça MegastoreBarcelona have had their appeal against a two-window transfer ban rejected by FIFA following a hearing on Wednesday.

The Spanish giants will be barred from signing players in the next two transfer windows, taking them through until January 2016, after breaking the transfer rules related to signing players for their famed La Masia academy,

Barca though are not taking the decision well and have already announced, just as they did with the Luis Suarez ban, that they will now appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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suarez-barcaBarcelona forward Luis Suarez admitted he was concerned for his future in the days following his four-month FIFA ban for biting Giorgio Chiellini but is now putting the saga behind him.

The Uruguayan provoked uproar at the World Cup over the summer after being found guilty of biting an opponent for the third time in his career during the South American side’s clash with Italy.

He was initially banned from all football-related activity for four months, as well as nine international matches, although that did not stop Barcelona from making the 27-year-old their marquee summer signing from Liverpool.

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suarez-barcaLuis Suarez came off the bench to make his first appearance for Barcelona in a 6-0 thrashing of Leon in Monday night’s friendly match at the Camp Nou. Thirty-one days after he signed for the club, Suarez ran out on the pitch to great applause as he was finally unveiled as a Barcelona player in the pre-match build-up.

The 27-year-old, who was cleared to make his debut in the friendly by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, despite currently serving a four-month ban from competitive football for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini during the FIFA World Cup™, was named on the bench.

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atletico-madrid-vs-real-madridReal Madrid’s Italian manager refused to reveal his line-up for tomorrow’s first leg against Atleti, but did confirm that Iker Casillas will start in goal for the European Champions.

Will Casillas start? And in the league?

Iker will play. He’s training and has the confidence of everyone. After that we’ll see.

Could the goalkeeper change for Friday?

I don’t know, I’m not thinking about Friday’s game yet.

Di María?

Di María is available like all the rest. He could start the game and have his chance, but just like the other players. Tomorrow one team will play, and it’ll be a different one on Friday.

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luis-enrique-barca2Barcelona boss Luis Enrique addressed the media ahead of his side’s Gamper Trophy match tonight and indicated that despite a busy summer in the transfer market that Barcelona are not finished bringing in new players.

Is the squad finalised?

I’m not saying it’s closed. Not me, nor anyone at the club. You always look to strengthen and you always have to be the strongest.

What are your first impressions of Luis Suárez?

In the two sessions that he’s been in you can see he’s a top level player. I know how we play and fits the profile, and I’d like to be able to give him some minutes tomorrow as a reward for the work he’s done on his own.

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atletico-madrid-vs-real-madridLa Liga champions Atletico Madrid have an early season chance to avenge their defeat to Real Madrid in May’s UEFA Champions League final in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup on Tuesday.

Despite having arguably Atletico’s best ever season, Diego Simeone’s men have still suffered from the departure of a number of key players over the close season as Filipe Luis and Diego Costa joined Chelsea and Thibaut Courtois returned to Stamford Bridge after a three-year loan spell.

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luis-suarez-barcelonaBarcelona head coach Luis Enrique has confirmed Luis Suarez will play in the pre-season clash on Monday.

The head coach says he has been impressed by the Uruguayan in training this weekend and will give him some playing time in the Gamper Trophy

The Uruguayan returned to training this weekend after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) reduced his ban from football to allow him to take part in training and club friendly matches.

And Luis Enrique has been sufficiently impressed by Suarez to allow him some playing time in Monday’s Gamper Trophy encounter.

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