Magical Messi pulls past Zarra, To Top The Spanish League’s All Time Scoring Charts.

Lionel Messi’s hat-trick against Sevilla on Saturday gave him yet another record, in this case one that had stood for 59 years. With 253 Liga goals now to his name, the Argentinian ace is out on his own at the top of the Spanish league’s all-time scoring charts, replacing the legendary Telmo Zarra, who chalked up 251 goals before retiring in 1955.

“My father would have been happy to lose his record to Messi,” said Carmen Zarra, the daughter of the fabled Athletic Bilbao striker, speaking on Radio Catalunya a few days ago. “We’re mad about Athletic in my house, but I’m sure my father would have loved Messi because he seems like a very upright person on and off the pitch. He’s someone people can look up to.

“We’re not annoyed about it, not at all,” she added. “The record had to be broken one day. Nearly 60 years have gone by and it’s time someone beat it, though I’ve got to be honest and say that I would have liked an Athletic player to do it.”

Comparing footballers can be a complex task, one that sometimes fails to do justice to the players involved, especially when they hail from two wholly different eras. Mindful of that, recalls the careers of these two goalscoring magicians and puts their achievements into context.

Career span
It took the Athletic striker 15 years to amass his record tally of 251 goals, though it should be pointed out that the Spanish league featured only 14 or 16 teams in the days when he was terrorising defences. Operating in a 20-team league since making his debut on 16 October 2004, Messi has taken just over a decade to eclipse Zarra.

Strike rate
Those statistics do not tell the whole story, however. Zarra scored his 251 goals in 277 matches, an average of 0.9 per game, a shade better than the diminutive Argentinian, whose 253 goals have come in 289 outings, a strike rate of 0.87 per game.

Season records
The voracious Athletic forward was the Spanish league’s pichichi (top scorer) on six separate occasions, with his record 1950/51 haul of 38 goals remaining out on its own until 1990, when Real Madrid’s Mexican striker Hugo Sanchez equalled it, albeit in 35 matches to Zarra’s 30. The record stood until 2011, when Cristiano Ronaldo racked up 41 goals in 34 games, only for Messi to raise the bar even higher the following season in scoring 50 goals in 37 matches, one of three occasions on which La Pulga has taken the pichichi award.

The Basque striker retired when he was 35, while Messi is only 27 and has several years in which to add to his record goal tally. The Argentinian was just 17 when he made his league debut, with Zarra stepping out for the first time at the age of 19.

One-club men
Messi broke another of Zarra’s records back in February this year, beating his mark of 335 goals for a single Spanish club in all competitions. The Basque front man did all his goalscoring for his beloved Athletic. Likewise, Messi has never found the back of the net for any club other than Barcelona.


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FIFA Club World Cup, Animal instincts set to light up Morocco, FUTBOL IS ABOUT TO TAKE OVER, Morocco, host country of the FIFA Club World Cup 2014 WILL BE THE PARTY LAND 24HOURS A DAY, 7 DAYS A WEEK, UNTIL THE FAT LADY SINGS!! .

Morocco, host country of the FIFA Club World Cup MOROCCO, Presented by Toyota, December 10th thru December 20th, 2014.  This is the History of a  beautiful country that’s prepared to host the world, and give them a beautiful experience.

The Phoenicians were the first people to set foot on the mild Moroccan coasts and they founded the city of Carthage, the seat of the first stable civilization to govern the Northwest of Africa (known as the Maghreb). They joined with the indigenous ethnic group of North Africa (the Berbers) and coexisted until the arrival of the Romans.

After the Punic war and the destruction of Carthage in 146 B.C, the Romans established a rule of tyranny in the Maghreb until 110 B.C, when there was a rebellion against the Romans.

Next came the Vandals from the North of Germany, crossing the Pyrenees to invade North Africa. They occupied Carthage until the Berbers rose in rebellion in 477 A.D. The Vandals weakened until the Byzantines replaced them. After 632, Muslim armies emerged from the Arabian Peninsula to conquer the Persian and the Byzantine empires and managed to dominate the Eastern Mediterranean. When they took over Egypt, they extended their domination to the west, toward the Maghreb countries. It was then that they founded the city of Kairouan.

A momentous chapter in the history of Morocco was recorded when Berbers, filling the ranks of the Arab army, contributed decisively to the conquest of Andalusia in 711. At the same time, the land of the Maghreb had become independent of the ruling governors of the time, and the Maghrebian kingdom and principalities appeared.

The Idrissid dynasty established an Islamic state and Idriss II founded the city of Fez in 808. The University of al-Karaouine, thought by many to be the oldest university in the world, was established in 857.

Thus, Morocco is an African, Berbern, Andalusian, Arab and Mediterranean country, a land where every one’s roots are elsewhere, where differences are welcomed and celebrated. The succession of dynasties, dating from the Idrissids to today have created political stability based on a traditional monarchy.

This continuity has strengthened since independence was established in 1956. Since then, Morocco has marched resolutely towards democracy, with the ruling monarch, King Mohamed VI, recently introducing reforms that could lead to a constitutional monarchy.


The Moroccan economy remains strongly marked by the agricultural activity both in terms of production and marketing. Major exported products are fresh Citrus fruits – especially oranges – with other products including tomatoes, potatoes, and canned fruits and vegetables.

Maritim fishing
Morocco boasts two sea coastlines; the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, extending over 3,500km. Moroccan coasts contain a vast wealth of marine resources. The creation of a 200 nautical mile-long Exclusive Economic Zone (ZEE) has increased the maritime area under national jurisdiction to beyond one million kilometers.

Being one of the first countries in the world to have a varied lithic industry, Morocco – thanks to its ancient traditions and the diversity of its population and culture – succeeded in preserving this wealth and developing its carpets, traditional suits, jewels, pottery, ceramics, engraved wood, chiseled zellij and carved plaster. The handicraft sector occupies a distinguished position in the Moroccan economy and employs a substantial number of Moroccans.

Mining has been one of Morocco’s most practiced economic activities. Since the beginning of the 20th century, major manganese, iron, zinc, lead and phosphate fields were discovered. Morocco contains three-quarters of the world’s phosphates reserves. It is the world’s first exporter and third producer.

Being endowed with important natural assets, as well as a rich and varied cultural heritage, Morocco has opted for the promotion of the tourist sector, putting in place a voluntarist strategy of tourism development which is likely to trigger a sustainable and integrated development dynamics.

Statistics from the Ministry of Industry confirm the predominance of chemicals and para-chemicals, agro-industry, textiles and clothing. The remainder is shared among the metallurgical, mechanical, electric and electronic industries.

During the past decade, the Moroccan banking system has seen an outstanding process of reform, with astute management fostering growth and development, rising assets, deposits and loans. There has also been a steady and remarkably high inflow of receipts, with institutions working to channel them into new products and investments. Authorities received a series of broadly positive reports by key analytical bodies, including Standard and Poor’s and the IMF.

Meteorological conditions

Morocco offers sportspeople ideal playing conditions in terms of weather. Its temperature remains well within comfortable limits during the months of January to March, ranging from a low average of 13° C in January to a high average of 15° C in March, with a maximum of 19° C, which is perfect for practicing football. Humidity is not a factor that will affect play in Morocco. The air is dry and comfortable throughout the summer.

Moroccan football

The genesis of Moroccan football

The first Moroccan clubs (Union Sportive Marocaine, Stade Marocain and Sporting Club of Roches Noires) were created as early as 1913, and the first competitions took place in 1916.

Union Sportive Marocaine (USM), the oldest club, emerged as a genuine standard bearer for Moroccan football, seizing 13 national championships between 1922 and ‘42. Those kind of international confrontations inspired domestic footballers to emulate and ultimately put their own stamp on the technical and tactical brilliance of the Austrian ‘Wunderteam’. Among those local footballers, one emerged whose skill at keeping the ball at his foot remains legendary: Larbi Ben Barek.

The Perle Noire era

Ben Barek, known as the ‘Perle Noire’ (Black Pearl), catapulted on to the international scene in a memorable match between Morocco and France on 12 April 1937. The north Africans won 4-2 and Ben Barek went on to become the first Moroccan to play beyond his country’s borders when he joined Marseille in 1939 and swiftly became a France international. Following World War II, Ben Barek returned to Europe and his adoring fans, playing for Stade Francais, Atletico Madrid and Marseille once again. He helped OM win numerous titles and ended his international carrier at the age of 40 by outshining the German world champions in Hanover in 1954. Thanks to Ben Barek and other football masters such as Abderrahmane Mahjoubn, who was nicknamed the ‘Prince of the Park’, and Just Fontaine, Moroccan football improved steadily. Fontaine went on to score 13 goals in six matches for France at Sweden 1958 – a record at one edition of a FIFA World Cup which still stands today.

Global recognition

In Chile 1962 qualifying, Morocco defeated Tunisia and Ghana to move into an intercontinental play-off with Spain for a place at the FIFA World Cup. The Africans lost 1-0 at home and 3-2 away to the team that would win UEFA EURO 1964, but they nevertheless gained a reputation as ‘the Land of football’. The skillful and self-assured Moroccan team, standing against one of the world’s strongest squads, helped to awaken the tremendous potential of African football.

Finally, in 1970, Morocco managed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup. Though drawing once and losing twice, the Atlas Lions earned tremendous respect after leading for 70 minutes against a West German team including Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Muller, before finally losing 2-1.

In 1976, Morocco finally capped its rise to international football prominence. Facing African powers Nigeria, Egypt, Zaire, Sudan and Guinea, Morocco won the CAF African Cup of Nations, led by their phenomenal marksman and 1975 African Footballer of the Year, Ahmed Faras.

Global achievement

Morocco renewed themselves in the late 1970s to meet the challenges of increasing professionalism in football, and, in 1986, impressed at the FIFA World Cup in Mexico. By winning their group, which included England, Poland and Portugal, Morocco became the first African country to qualify for the second round.

Only a great free-kick from Lothar Matthaus in the 87th minute spoiled Morocco’s bid to upset Germany in the first knockout round. Once again, Morocco had forged the way for the great African teams that would follow, among them Nigeria, Cameroon, Senegal and Ghana.

Thereafter, Morocco participated in USA 1994 and France 1998.
At that latter tournament, another Moroccan achieved a notable ‘football first’. Indeed Said Belqola became the first African to referee a FIFA World Cup Final, turning in a fine performance as France beat Brazil 3-0.

In 2004, Morocco overcame Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Algeria and Mali en route to the continental final, only to lose out 2-1 to Tunisia. The following year, at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, Morocco eliminated Italy in the quarter-finals before losing to Nigeria in the last four.

The opening kick-off of the FIFA Club World Cup 2014 is just around the corner, and the anticipation for the competition is growing by the minute. The trailer above takes inspiration from the animal kingdom to encapsulate the excitement from tournaments past and anticipates what lies ahead at Morocco 2013. The artwork of the trailer depicts the beauty and passion of football through the analogy of the wild animal. The trailer’s Executive Producer So Ono from Japanese advertising agency Dentsu spoke with about the key concepts his team aimed to convey.

“We are only 20 days away from the FIFA Club World Cup Morocco 2014,” Ono said. “Only seven out of over 301,000 football clubs are left standing in the race to win the 11th edition of this prestigious competition. All players will listen to their instinct and demonstrate their abilities to the fullest to win, and football fans all over the world are getting excited to witness such great football. Football calls on your passion, your emotion, and your instincts. This is what we can see in the video.”

The film is also composed with exclusive footage showing various highlights in the history of the tournament. The trailer’s Creative Director Kentaro Shihaku from GLIDER, an independent design agency, explained that the film expresses the outbursts of energy and spontaneity exhibited on the football pitch.

“FIFA Club World Cup is a dream-stage for football fans around the world,” Shihaku said. “At the same time it is a battlefield for players to decide the best of the world. Naturally, there is only one spot for the champion club, and players need to survive every single match. Players perform at the ultimate level, and we see outburst, or natural spontaneity, of passion in the FIFA Club World Cup Morocco 2014.”

The  Myboysay Nation of Soccer(Futbol)Enthusiasts would wish all participants a healthy and  great tournament. To all of   The World Myboysay Nation of Sports Enthusiasts that will be attending the  2014 FIFA CLUB WORLD CUP MOROCCO, Please Enjoy.

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Usain Bolt

  • COUNTRY Jamaica Jamaica
  • DATE OF BIRTH21 AUG 1986

Personal bests

Event Time (seconds) Venue Date Records Notes
100 metres 9.58 Berlin, Germany 16 August 2009 WR Also has the second fastest time (9.63) and shares the third fastest time of 9.69 with Tyson Gay and Yohan Blake. Bolt’s 9.63 is the Olympic record, set at the 2012 games.
150 metres 14.35 Manchester, United Kingdom 17 May 2009 World best He ran the last 100 m in 8.70, the fastest ever recorded time over a 100 m distance. This would equal an average speed of 41.38 km/h (25.71 mph).
200 metres 19.19 Berlin, Germany 20 August 2009 WR Also holds the Olympic record with 19.30, which was then (2008) a world record.
300 metres 30.97 Ostrava, Czech Republic 27 May 2010   This is the second fastest time, behind Michael Johnson’s 30.85. The event is not recognized by the IAAF.
400 metres 45.28 Kingston, Jamaica 5 May 2007    
4 × 100 metres relay 36.84 London, England 11 August 2012 WR Shared with Yohan Blake, Michael Frater and Nesta Carter.
  • In October 2008, he was made a Commander of the Order of Distinction, which entitles him to use the post nominal letters CD.
  • In 2009, at age 23, Usain Bolt became the youngest member so far, of the Order of Jamaica.  The award was ‘for outstanding performance in the field of athletics at the international level’.  In the Jamaican honours system, this is considered the equivalent of a knighthood in the British honours system, and entitles him to be formally styled “The Honourable“, and to use the post nominal letters.


International competition record

Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
2002 World Junior Championships Kingston, Jamaica 1st 200 m 20.61
2nd 4×100 m relay 39.15 NJR
2nd 4×400 m relay 3:04.06 NJR
2003 World Youth Championships Sherbrooke, Canada 1st 200 m 20.40
2003 Pan American Junior Championships Bridgetown, Barbados 1st 200 m 20.13
2nd 4×100 m relay 39.40
2004 CARIFTA Games Hamilton, Bermuda 1st 200 m 19.93
2005 Central American and Caribbean Championships Nassau, Bahamas 1st 200 m 20.03
2006 World Athletics Final Stuttgart, Germany 3rd 200 m 20.10
2006 IAAF World Cup Athens, Greece 2nd 200 m 19.96
2007 World Championships Osaka, Japan 2nd 200 metres 19.91
2nd 4×100 metres relay 37.89
2008 Olympic Games Beijing, China 1st 100 metres 9.69
1st 200 metres 19.30
1st 4×100 metres relay 37.10
2009 World Championships Berlin, Germany 1st 100 metres 9.58
1st 200 metres 19.19 WR
1st 4×100 metres relay 37.31 CR
2011 World Championships Daegu, South Korea DSQ[226] 100 metres
1st 200 metres 19.40 WL
1st 4×100 metres relay 37.04 WR
2012 Olympic Games London, United Kingdom 1st 100 metres 9.63 OR
1st 200 metres 19.32
1st 4×100 metres relay 36.84 WR
2013 World Championships Moscow, Russia 1st 100 metres 9.77
1st 200 metres 19.66
1st 4×100 metres relay 37.36
2014 Commonwealth Games Glasgow, Scotland 1st 4×100 metres relay 37.58 GR


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The Rio 2016 Olympic Games to have finals in the morning Sessions

For the first time at an Olympic Games since 1988, the Rio 2016 Olympic Games will feature finals during the morning sessions of the athletics programme, the IAAF announced on Wednesday (19).The full detailed competition programme will be released shortly but the IAAF Council approved the decision to have finals in the morning.

“Staging finals in the morning was done at the request of the Rio LOC and the Olympic Broadcasting Service, supported by the International Olympic Committee. Having finals in the morning will also ensure that we receive maximum visibility for athletics at the Olympics across all time zones,” said IAAF Competitions Director Paul Hardy.

“There will be 13 finals in the mornings: the five road events (three race walks and two marathons) and also eight events in the stadium.

“Out of those eight, there will be an even split between genders as well as between track and field events.

“The first final in the morning will be the women’s 10,000m on the opening day. We are obviously hoping that this will be an exciting race and set the tone for the whole of the athletics programme in Rio.

“Our prevailing view was that the leading distance runners will welcome this change to the athletics programme at the Olympics as they will often have competitions throughout the year in the morning, such as road or cross country races, and so will be accustomed to this timing,” added Hardy.

Hardy confirmed that here will be at least one final in each of the six morning sessions held in the stadium and at least one final in the morning of nine out of the 10 days of athletics competition.


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The Former European 60 Hurdles World Indoor Champion, Susanna Kallur of Sweden, to make comeback at XL Galan in Stockholm

Sweden’s 60m hurdles world indoor record-holder Susanna Kallur will make her highly anticipated return to hurdling in Stockholm on 19 February at the XL Galan, an IAAF Indoor Permit meeting.

The former European champion set the existing 60m hurdles world indoor record of 7.68 in 2008. Eleven days later, she broke the XL Galan meeting record with 7.74, but injury forced her to withdraw from the World Indoor Championships that winter at the semi-final stage.

More misfortune came her way later that year when she crashed out of the semi-final at the Olympic Games in Beijing.

Since then, a series of injuries and setbacks has prevented the 33-year-old from putting together a full season. She competed in three 100m hurdles races in 2010, then finally made a tentative return to action earlier this year, competing in a small handful of 100m races.

In 2012, Kallur had an intramedullary nail – a piece of metal the length of the bone – fixated into her tibia. In April last year, she had one of the screws removed from the intramedullary nail as it was chafing against her ankle bone.

But now the Swede is ready to return to hurdling and has one eye on making it to the 2016 Olympic Games. Her appearance at the XL Galan is a small but significant step on the road to Rio.

“It feels a bit like this is my last chance at a comeback,” she said on her website last year. “I have chosen not to rush but to let the body take plenty of time in getting used to the higher load again.”

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IAAF signs a new convention with the Principality of Monaco, The MyBoySay International Sports Enthusiasts reports!!

IAAF signs a new convention with the Principality of Monaco,represented by His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco, at the Fairmont Hotel in Monaco on Friday (21).

The principal elements of the convention concern the continued residence of the IAAF in the Principality and the move of the IAAF offices to a new location within the Principality early next year.

“It is with the greatest of pleasure and pride that in the final year of my last mandate as president of the International Association of Athletics Federations that I have the honour to sign a new convention with the Principality of Monaco,” said President Diack.

“The existing IAAF headquarters were officially inaugurated in Monaco on 10 June 1994 in the presence of His Serene Highness Prince Rainier III of Monaco. Twenty years ago the Principality embraced the Olympics’ number one sport.

“A warm friendly relationship between the palace, the people of Monaco and the IAAF has existed ever since.

“I remember so well the words of my predecessor Dr Primo Nebiolo declaring in 1994 that: ‘after 82 years of existence, the IAAF has finally found its true home.’

“In 2012, when the IAAF celebrated its 100th anniversary, those words were exemplified when the personnel of IAAF HQ were welcomed to the gardens of the palace for a memorable birthday party.

“The IAAF is delighted that the new convention will witness the opening of new offices next year, located at Quai Antoine 1er.

“This transfer will allow us to bring together all the various departments and divisions of the IAAF under the same roof.  I also want to underline how much this move will further cement the enduring relationship of the IAAF with the Principality of Monaco.

“In the name of all my colleagues of the IAAF Council, I would therefore like to thank His Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco for his enduring hospitality,” added President Diack.

“I would like to say how thrilled I am that the relationship between the Principality and the IAAF is ongoing, especially with these new premises,” commented His Serene Highness Prince Albert II.

“The bond between athletics and the Principality are long lasting and strong. Its practice is widely spread in our educational structures as well as with the athletics section of A.S. Monaco, which has just celebrated 90 years of existence.

“It is now 30 years, on the initiative of the late Primo Nebiolo, that the International Athletic Foundation was founded in Monaco. This organisation has a mission to help promote athletics, particularly in supporting the development of appropriate infrastructures.

“The same year, in 1984, I created the Monegasque Athletics Federation, which enabled us to acquire international recognition.

“As such, beginning in 1985, the Monegasque Athletics Federation, using the Stade Louis II, was able to launch and develop international events and in particular, the Herculis Meeting.

“I am delighted to emphasize that in 2014 and for the second time in its history, our meeting was classified as the best international (one day) meeting.

“Since 1993, a new phase of our relationship was reached with the agreement allowing the establishment of the IAAF Headquarters which was inaugurated in spring 1994 by my father, Prince Rainier III and Primo Nebiolo.

“Twenty years have since elapsed and today I am pleased to announce that this fruitful cooperation has reached a new milestone with the extension of the IAAF headquarters and the allocation of additional space located on Quai Albert 1er. These new premises will allow you to group IAAF activities into two venues, which are currently spread over four different sites in the Principality.”

“Dear Lamine, I am delighted by this reinforcement of our relationship which is largely due to your firm and tenacious will to root the IAAF in Monaco. A desire of which I pay tribute and one you know I share,· added His Serene Highness.


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The word in the rings all around the world and with the International ref sees early KO win for Pacquiao vs ‘powder puff puncher’ Algieri. An international boxing judge and referee believes Manny Pacquiao will win via an early knock out on Sunday against Chris Algieri.
A professional referee and judge for the World Boxing Organization, International Boxing Federation, and International Boxing Organization, Tapdasan made the fearless forecast despite doubts about the Pacquiao’s ability to still dominate.
“Tingin ko mao-overwhelm ang Algieri. First round pa lang, Manny will take advantage,” said Tapdasan, who began his judging career in 2008 before later trying his hand at officiating.
Standing at 5-foot-10 and a maximum reach of 72 inches, Algieri has the size advantage compared to Pacquiao’s 5-foot-6 and 67 inches. Tapdasan, however, believes this will not be an issue for the Filipino champion.
“Sa tingin ko sa level ng preparation ni Manny at sa level ng experience ni Algieri, this will not be a factor,” he said.
He added that there are many “intangibles” in a boxing fight like the heat, lighting, the pay per view, and the size of the arena, all of which could influence the condition of the fighters.
The referee also doubted Algieri’s power and ability to fashion a knockout.
“Parang powder puff ng babae, ganun ang suntok ni Algieri. Mahina ang suntok. He just go around the ring, nagdedepende sa jab,” Tapdasan said.
Algieri holds a record of 20 wins and eight knock outs, which is far from impressive according to the referee.
“Napakahina ng KO rate niya considering ang nakalaban niya ‘di magaling,” he said. “Margarito, Dela Hoya, may KO degree, may KO punch. Si Algieri, wala.”
Tapdasan also dismissed claims that Pacquiao’s coaching duties in the PBA and his work in Congress as Sarangani Representative might cost him the match, saying that the boxing icon thrives on distractions.
“I think this is the best shape I have seen Manny,” he said. “This will be a showcase fight for Manny Pacquiao. Ipapakita niya ang dating bilis, dating lakas at bangis.”
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The International Futbol Update, Barça back against Sevilla, Atleti face Malaga, Wow, This is it, This will Be The Contest!!!

Barcelona may be pleased to be back in Spanish La Liga action after their international break was dominated by questions over the future of star man Lionel Messi.

The Argentinian midfielder told Ole earlier this week that he wanted to remain at the club but “sometimes everything does not always go as you want”. That comment, coupled with some from his father Jorge suggesting they would consider a move if Barça wanted to sell, has sparked a storm of speculation, as well as endless denials from Barcelona.

With a tough fixture against fifth-placed Sevilla to come at the Nou Camp on Saturday, coach Luis Enrique sought to draw a line under the debate on Friday. “I’ve always heard Leo saying he is happy at the club and I stick with that,” he told the Spanish media at a press conference.

“I’ll take the message that he is very comfortable here. That is what interests me. I have not spoken to Leo about (the recent interview). I have always heard he is doing great in Barcelona. There is nothing more.” By the time Barça kick off they could be five points behind rivals Real Madrid, who play away to Eibar earlier in the afternoon.

Defending champions Atletico Madrid are at home to Malaga, who have won five on the bounce to move all the way up to sixth place, and Atletico coach Diego Simeone has warned his players to expect a tough afternoon. “We have no room for error, we must treat the game like a final,” he told the Spanish media at a press conference.

Saturday’s other game is a contest at the opposite end of the table but one full of intrigue with former Manchester United manager David Moyes beginning his Real Sociedad reign with a trip to Deportivo La Coruna. Both teams are only outside the drop zone on goal difference.

Valencia, who begin the weekend third, must wait until Sunday afternoon for their local derby trip to Levante. With Sevilla and Malaga both facing away trips to top four sides, seventh-placed Celta Vigo will hope to capitalise when they head to Rayo Vallecano at lunchtime on Sunday.

Celta Vigo are five points clear of eighth-placed Villarreal, who host Getafe in the evening fixture. Sunday’s other match sees fellow strugglers Elche and Cordoba square off at the Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero. Granada and Almeria will bring the curtain down on the weekend programme on Monday night.

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Gael Monfils produced one of the best performances of his career to defeat Roger Federer in straight sets and bring France level at 1-1 with Switzerland after day one of the 2014 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas final in Lille.

Stan Wawrinka had put the visitors in front with a 61 36 63 62 victory against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the opening rubber but, in front of a world record crowd for an official tennis match of 27,432 at the Stade Pierre Mauroy, Monfils was inspired as he beat world No. 2 Federer 61 64 63 in one hour and 46 minutes.

Julien Benneateau and Richard Gasquet are scheduled to take on Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer in Saturday’s doubles rubber, although Switzerland captain Severin Luthi may well be tempted to make a change and bring in Wawrinka and Federer for such a pivotal match, with the latter surprisingly optimistic after his recent back issue.

“I’ll definitely make myself available if I feel that I can play proper tennis,” said Federer. “I started to feel better as the match went on.  That’s very encouraging, I must say. I would think that I’m going to get better as the weekend goes on. I hope I’ll be fine tonight and tomorrow morning to give maximum possibilities for Severin and back up Stan and the rest of the team.”

After Federer pulled out of the final of the ATP World Tour Finals in London last Sunday, the condition of the 33-year-old’s back had been the subject of much discussion and it appeared to hinder him in the early stages of his match against Monfils as he did not show his usual fluid movement.

In contrast, world No. 19 Monfils made a strong start on serve with a stunning backhand pass earning him break point in the fourth game and Federer netted with a tame backhand. Inspired by the passionate home support, Monfils later claimed the double break for 5-1 and fired down consecutive aces on his way to closing out the first set in 30 minutes.

Federer continued to struggle and dropped serve in the third game of the second set as he failed to move his feet in time to return a deep Monfils forehand. Although the Swiss settled after this, one break was enough for Monfils who went on to claim a two-set lead.

This position was somewhat familiar to Monfils who had also been two sets up against Federer at the US Open in September, although he went on to lose in five sets. There was to be no collapse, however, this time as Monfils went 4-2 ahead and then broke again for the victory with a backhand winner down the line to inflict Federer’s first ever straight-sets defeat in a live rubber.

“That definitely [is] one of the top three matches in my life,” said Monfils. “To be honest, I was very nervous in the beginning. For sure when Jo lost, it’s an extra pressure because we need to get back on the road to win the title.

“Then, I think I like that atmosphere, the big court. The crowd was very good. They helped me a lot, gave me a lot of energy. At the end [it] helped me a lot because I went for my shots, which made me serve big [and hit] big forehands. “

World No. 4 Wawrinka continued the form which took him to the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour Finals last week as he raced out of the blocks against Tsonga, claiming the first break in the third game and proceeding to take it to his nervy opponent as he hit winner after winner before going on to take the opening set in 26 minutes.

The tide turned in the second set as world No. 12 Tsonga settled and broke for a 3-1 lead with Wawrinka hitting a double fault. The French revival helped to raise the noise level from the home crowd and Tsonga responded by going on to level the match at one set all as he fired a 126mph serve down the middle.

The tension was apparent during a tight third set in which both players held serve until Wawrinka finally made the breakthrough in the sixth game as he increased the power of his groundstrokes and it paid off as Tsonga struggled under pressure and dropped serve before Wawrinka served out the set to take a two-sets-to-one lead.

Any hopes of a French comeback were dealt an instant blow at the start of the fourth set as Wawrinka claimed the immediate break and he took five of the next seven games, sealing victory with a volley which hit the tape and rolled over to earn Switzerland the first point of the tie in two hours and 24 minutes.

“I was feeling good since Thursday night,” said Wawrinka. “You know that you have a lot of pressure when you [play] a Davis Cup final. You know with everything that happened this week with Roger’s back, there is more pressure on me because we can see it’s tough for him so far.

“But I just have a good team around me. I know how to play those matches. I did so many big matches, so many important matches this year. Today it’s important to show them that I’m there. They maybe [were] too focused [on] Roger and maybe they forgot about me.”


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