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Spain’s Pique gets coach Lopetegui support after boos by fans

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Spain coach Julen Lopetegui has said he is unhappy with the hostile treatment Gerard Pique is receiving by some fans when he plays for the national team.

The Barcelona defender started in Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with Colombia in an international friendly in Murcia and was jeered by some Spanish supporters every single time he touched the ball.

In the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) game report it read: “Pique was very firm at the back, despite the rude whistles that accompanied almost all his interventions.”

“Everyone is entitled to do what they want but I don’t think it’s good that a player is booed,” Lopetegui said after the game as reported in Marca.

“Gerard gives everything on the pitch, his commitment is beyond doubt and if they boo him, they are not doing him justice.”

The outspoken Pique has been jeered by a large section of fans of Spain’s national team in recent years due to jibes he has directed at Real Madrid.
Lopetegui’s predecessor Vicente del Bosque and Spain captain Sergio Ramos have defended the Barca star in the past.

The 30-year-old, who announced last October that he would retire from the national team after next summer’s World Cup in order to allow “future generations to take his place,” has blamed the local media for keeping the issue in the spotlight.

An angry Pique told the media after Wednesday’s game as reported in AS: “Why do you pay so much attention to this? Why don’t you talk about football instead? This is news because you [media] want it.

“You make this sound important and make them whistle me. It’s not down to [Catalan] independence, have you ever heard me take a stance on this before?”

Pique says the whistles are simply because he likes riling Real Madrid players and fans with his comments and use of Twitter.

“I’ve said it 1,000 times and I’m tired of saying it again,” he said. “It’s always the same, this country is divided between Barca and Madrid fans and the latter feel annoyed by my comments.”

Earlier this year, Pique questioned Real Madrid’s values and hinted on Twitter that Madrid were getting preferential treatment from referees.

In December 2015, Pique expressed his delight when Real Madrid were expelled from the 2015-16 Copa del Rey for fielding ineligible player Denis Cheryshev in the last 32 of the competition and posted nine laughing emojis.

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Football

Fans fume over use of VAR in Champions League clash between Man city and Schalke

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Manchester City fans are adamant VAR has been used against them in their Champions League clash with Schalke this evening.

The German side were awarded two penalties in the first half to send the German side 2-1 up after 45 minutes.

And it has since emerged the television screen the referee is supposed to be able to use was not functioning.

Sergio Aguero gave Manchester City an early lead before Schalke were awarded their first penalty.

That was for a contentious handball by Nicolas Otamendi.
They were then punished a second time as Fernandinho fouled his man.

And that left City fans raging on social media.

One said: “What in the world is going on? City dominating. #VAR is now up 2-1 vs #ManCity.”

Another added: “It’s a shocking decision. The player is actively trying to avoid the ball and VAR goes against him. @ChampionsLeague sick decision. @ManCity unjustly punished there.”

A third explained: “Man City re getting robbed by the VAR…”
Ex-City midfielder Michael Brown was adamant the first penalty should not have been given.

He said: “There’s no way it’s deliberate handball.

“Otamendi gets set, sees he’s in trouble, that it’s heading towards his arm.

“He very quickly tries to put it behind his back but the ball is hit that quick at his arm that he can’t get it out of the way.”
Brown also criticised how long it took for a decision to be made with the use of VAR.

He added: “It was probably the longest VAR in history deciding the right decision.

“I don’t think they knew. Then finally they give the penalty.”

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Football

Schalke 2-3 Man City: Sane, Sterling score late goals

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Late goals from Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling gave Manchester City a 3-2 win at Schalke in their Champions League Round of 16 first leg.

Substitute Sane scored against his former club with a sensational free kick in the 86th after Nabil Bentaleb converted two spot kicks in the 38th and 45th minutes to put Schalke ahead.

Sergio Aguero had given City the lead in the 18th and the English champions were left with 10 men in the 68th minute when Nicolas Otamendi was sent off following a second booking.

City, who have conceded at least two goals in six of their seven games in the Champions League knockout stages under Pep Guardiola, will also be without yellow-carded Fernandinho for the return leg in Manchester on March 12.

SCHALKE 2-3 MANCHESTER CITY | AGUERO (18), BENTALEB (36, 44), SANE (84), STERLING (90)

Schalke XI: Fahrmann, Caliguiri, Bruma, Sane, Nastasic, Oczikpa, Serdar, Bentaleb, McKennie, Uth, Mendyl
Manchester City XI: Ederson, Walker, Laporte, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Gundogan, De Bruyne, Silva, Bernardo, Sterling, Aguero

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Chelsea told to appoint former EPL manager as Sarri’s replacement

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Former Arsenal goalkeeper, David Seaman, has told Chelsea to appoint former Gunners boss, Arsene Wenger as Maurizio Sarri’s replacement at Stamford Bridge.

Seaman believes Wenger would be a great choice to replace Sarri at the West London club.

He stated this ahead of Chelsea’s UEFA Europa League round of 32 second-leg tie with Malmo on Thursday night.

Sarri, who joined Chelsea last summer, has been under intense pressure at Stamford Bridge due to the club’s recent poor performances.

“Arsene Wenger would be great at Chelsea, I think. He’d be great anywhere, he’s a fantastic manager,” Seaman said on talkSPORT.

“Arsene always said he wouldn’t come back to the Premier League because of his love for Arsenal that he wouldn’t feel right competing against Arsenal.

“But obviously time’s a healer and he could think. I want to go back there and prove a few people wrong.”

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