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Transfer Rater: Icardi to Madrid, Godin to Milan

Football Whispers
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Don't laugh, but Real Madrid could still win La Liga, Champions League this season

Real Madrid's Santiago Solari directed the words 'humbleness is the virtue' at Cristiano Ronaldo and that no matter what he says about the club he will be embedded in their history.

Gareth Bale's exceptionally elegant and three-point-winning goal for Real Madrid on Sunday was notable for a number of reasons.

You knew that it left him just five more strikes short of a century of goals for Los Blancos... right? No probably not. Unless you're President of the Gareth Bale appreciation society or his occasionally interventionist agent, then you're probably of the opinion that he never contributes, he's permanently in a scoring drought, he's "no Cristiano, mate!" and that there's...

Weekend numbers: Lionel Messi's free-kick record, Romelu Lukaku ends home rut

Craig Burley was surprised to not see a reaction from Manchester City to N'Golo Kanté's first-half goal, in Chelsea's 2-0 win over the title-holders.
Gabriele Marcotti outlines Lucien Favre's tactics in Borussia Dortmund's 2-1 win over Schalke.
Craig Burley and Adrian Healy breakdown Manchester United's thrashing of Fulham and Jose Mourinho's cryptic comments after the match.
Pep Guardiola insists anyone can win the Premier League title and there is no favourite after Man City's loss to Chelsea.
Jose Mourinho praised Paul Pogba and outlined what he needs to do to get back into the starting XI.
Jurgen Klopp insists he isn't surprised by Mohamed Salah's desire to score after he stayed on his feet during Liverpool's second goal.
Mauricio Pochettino has immediately switched his focus to Barcelona after Tottenham's 2-0 win in the Premier League over Leicester.
Niko Kovac admits Borussia Dortmund would have to make mistakes in order for Bayern Munich to win the Bundesliga title.
Jose Mourinho feels Man United fans cannot point the finger at any of his players following their 4-1 win over Fulham.
Maurizio Sarri was quick to rule out Chelsea's title chances after their victory over Manchester City.
Jose Mourinho jokingly suggested Man United were trying to save money for January after he found no water at his press conference.

Chelsea stunning Manchester City and Liverpool thrashing Bournemouth to go top have made the Premier League title race exciting again. In Spain, Lionel Messi eviscerated Espanyol with a display of supreme skill, while in Italy, Juventus continued their remorseless march to an eighth straight scudetto with a 1-0 win over Inter. Here are the best numbers from an action-packed weekend of football.


15

Here's a ridiculous Messi stat: Messi has more free-kick goals over the last four La Liga seasons (15)...

Gareth Bale, Sergio Ramos 8/10 as Real Madrid sneak a win at Huesca

Bale, left, scored his first goal in over 100 days and lifted Real to a big win at Huesca.

Real Madrid's first-ever La Liga visit to Huesca's El Alcoraz stadium brought a workmanlike 1-0 win. Gareth Bale volleyed Madrid ahead after just nine minutes and Santi Solari's side thereafter did just enough to gain the three points, which lifted them to fourth in the Primera Division table.

Positives

Bale's first La Liga goal in over 100 days -- and 40 shots -- will quiet some of his local critics. A second away La Liga clean sheet of the calendar year should help with confidence at the...

Lionel Messi is 10/10 perfection as Barcelona take derby honours

Diego Lopez watched the ball fly past his fingers twice, as Lionel Messi put two fantastic free kicks into net to lead Barcelona to victory on the road.

BARCELONA -- A Lionel Messi-inspired Barcelona produced one of their best performances of the season to beat Espanyol 4-0 in the Catalan derby and move three points clear at the top of La Liga.

Messi scored two stunning free kicks, opening and closing the scoring, to take his season goal tally to 17 in all competitions as Barca. He also set up Ousmane Dembele for Barca's second; Luis Suarez completed the scoring on his return from injury.

Positives

Some of the attacking play in the first half --...

Athletic Bilbao would rather be relegated than compromise their values as battle at bottom looms

Angel Garitano had a magnificent moustache and a task before him that was almost as imposing. Known to everyone as "Ondarru," Garitano arrived at Athletic Club Bilbao as assistant to the new coach Jose Manuel Esnal, "Mane" -- two men on a desperate rescue mission in the autumn of 2006. Athletic had never been outside the first division in their 108-year history but 12 weeks into the season that was a possibility that had become horribly real. They'd won just once in all competitions and were in...

Real Madrid opponents Melilla face epic 11-hour overnight trip by sea, land and air

Melilla's 11-hour overnight trip to Madrid takes in journies by sea, land and air
Melilla have to use three different modes of transport just to complete a cup tie they are already losing 4-0.

"A super extraordinary thing" is was how UD Melilla president Juan Jose Imbroda described the chance to play Real Madrid when the teams were drawn to face each other in the Copa del Rey round of 32.

The opportunity to face the European champions in Madrid does come at a cost, however, for the Spanish third division team.

After losing the first leg 4-0 at home, Melilla must now embark on an 11-hour journey on Tuesday night ahead of Thursday's return leg at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The team from...