Real Madrid’s protracted chase of Tottenham’s Welsh international Gareth Bale could gradually be moving towards the end game as new Real boss Carlo Ancelotti, 54, has said that the two clubs are now discussing terms. The Spanish giants, who are currently on tour in Los Angeles, California, and play LA Galaxy in a friendly match tomorrow, have reportedly offered £86 million for the winger, a sum that would smash the current world transfer record fee of £80 million that they paid Manchester United for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2011. However, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is playing hardball and is preparing to hold out for a player to be thrown into the deal in addition to the cash.
Ancelotti ruled out a return to Spurs for Croatian international midfielder Luka Modric, saying that he’s an important player for Real Madrid and will be staying with the club, but Real are believed to have mooted Argentinian winger Angel Di Maria and Portuguese left-back Fabio Coentrao as potential makeweights in the package for Bale. So far, Spurs haven’t shown much interest in either of that pair, but are believed to pursuing Real’s twenty year old Spanish striker Alvaro Morata, as well as Valencia’s Roberto Soldado. Morata is one of Spain’s most promising young centre-forwards but is highly valued in Madrid and his departure would leave them short in numbers up front with only Karim Benzema and Ronaldo left on the books as genuine forwards, so the two clubs’ positions remain a long way apart on the make-up of any player plus cash deal.
Havnar Boltfelag restored their seven point lead at the top of the Faroe Islands Effodeildin yesterday with a 3-2 win against NSI Runavik at the Gundadalur. They had national team midfielder Simun Eiler Samuelsen to thank as he scored a second half hat-trick to give his team the lead and then restore it after Klamint Olsen had equalised for NSI. Samuelsen and HB held off a late fight-back when Arni Frederiksberg made it 3-2. Elsewhere on Monday, Vikingur Gotu eased their relegation fears with a 3-1 win over TB Tvoroyri, whose run of four straight defeats has left them in the drop zone.
IF Fuglafjordur had cut HB’s lead to just four points on Sunday with a 2-1 away win at B36 Torshavn, bouncing back from a Lukasz Cieslewicz strike to reply through league top scorer Clayton Soares and then grab a last minute winner from midfielder Bogi Petersen. Saturday’s matches saw bottom club 07 Vestur pick up a surprise win against KI Klaksvik, who have now lost four on the bounce, and Argja Boltfelag continue their recent resurgence with a 3-1 win over EB/Streymur.
There were two mid-table clashes in Finland‘s Veikkausliiga on Monday with RoPS (Rovaniemen Palloseura) and IFK Mariehamn coming out on top against MYPA (Myllykosken Pallo 47) and TPS (Turun Palloseura) respectively. RoPS won 1-0 at MYPA thanks to a very early goal from Nigerian defender Faith Olibor to end a run of seven away games without a league win whereas Mariehamn left it late against TPS and only broke the deadlock in the eighty third minute through New Zealand striker Kris Bright, who had come off the bench. Thomas Hradecky added a second with two minutes to go to secure the points and give Mariehamn their first league win in six attempts.
Elsewhere over the weekend, Honka maintained their lead at the top of the table with a 1-0 away win over struggling Lahti and second placed HJK Helsinki kept up the pressure with a 2-0 home win against JJK Jyvaskyla at the Sonera Stadium. They continue to trail Honka by two points. There was also a win for Jaro against VPS and a 2-2 draw between Inter Turku and KuPS. KuPS striker Ilja Venäläinen remains league top scorer on nine goals despite not adding to his tally over the weekend.
Levadia Tallinn narrowed the gap to leaders Nomme Kalju to just two points at the top of Estonia‘s Meistriliiga with a 3-1 win over Paide Linnameeskond yesterday, but they had to work hard for their three points against the fifth placed side and were trainling for most of the first half as a result of Lauri Varendi’s opener for Paide. However, Artur Rattel nicked an equaliser just before the interval and Levadia’s Ukrainian defender Oleksandr Volchkov made it 2-1 five minutes after the restart. Marek Kaljumae added a third and Levadia held on for the win despite his sending off with twenty five minutes still to play.
Nomme Kalju dropped two points on their visit to Infonet over the weekend and will now be looking nervously over their shoulders as Levadia are not only just two points behind, but also have two games in hand over the reigning champions. Flora Tallinn and Sillamae Kalev are not out of the title reckoning either, with Flora four points off top spot, having drawn 2-2 at home to Tammeka Tartu and Sillamae three points further back, having beating Tallinna Kalev 2-0 in this round of fixtures. At the other end of the table, Kuressaare still look doomed at five points adrift of the pack despite their encouraging 1-0 home win over Narva Trans.
Aalborg BK came from behind to beat cup holders Esbjerg FB 2-1 one Monday night to join Midtjylland at the top of the Superligaen as the only two clubs with a maximum six points from their first two matches of the new season in Denmark. Emil Lyng had give Esbjerg a half time lead but AaB fought back well in the second half to win with a goal from midfielder Kasper Risgaard and an own goal by Peter Ankersen.
Midtjylland had maintained their own one hundred per cent record with an impressive home win over F.C. Kobenhavn at the MCH Arena on Sunday. Midfielder Petter Andersson scored the only goal of the game for Midtjylland against the champions, who now find themselves bottom of the table as the only team still on zero points following their opening weekend defeat by AaB.
Elsewhere there were wins for Aarhus at Vestsjaelland and Sonderjysk Elitesport at home to Brondby as well as draws between Nordsjaelland and Viborg at Farum Park and between Randers and Odense at AutoC Park Randers. The early leader in the goalscoring charts in Ronnie Schwartz of Randers, with three goals from two games.
Zbrojovka Brno came from a goal behind to rout Bohemians 1905 5-1 in the Monday night match in the Czech Republic‘s top division and heaped yet more misery on their hapless victims, who had been beaten 5-0 by Viktoria Plzen in the opening round of matches the previous weekend. Things looked promising for the Klokani when defender Vaclav Kalina opened the scoring in the sixth minute, but Brno struck back through French midfielder Mohamed Traore to level the scores at the interval and then drew away in the second half with a brace of strikes from Serbian striker Miroslav Markovic, a penalty by Zavadil and one from Pasek. Brno move up into fifth place in the nascent league table, but Bohemians are rooted to the bottom, along with Sigma Olomouc and Vysocina Jihlava, who also have zero points.
The early pace setters are Viktoria Plzen, Sparta Praha and Slovan Liberec, who all still have a one hundred per cent record after the opening two rounds of matches. Champions Viktoria Plzen top the table on goal difference, having beaten 1. FK Pribram 4-2 over the weekend, with Sparta in second following their 2-1 win over Baumit Jablonec and 2012 champions Slovan Liberec in third following a 2-1 win against Slavia Praha, who are still winless. Dukla Praha striker Zbynek Pospech is top of the scoring charts with four goals, having plundered all four in his side’s demolition of Sigma Olomouc on Saturday.
Champions Dinamo Zagreb dropped their first points of the campaign over the weekend as they were held to a goalless draw on the coast in Rijeka on Sunday, leaving them in third place in the table with seven points from their three games thus far. Lokomotiva Zagreb capitalised on their rivals’ slip up to go two points clear at the top by maintaining their one hundred per cent record with a narrow 1-0 win at home against Slaven Belupo Koprivnica thanks to a late penalty scored by defender Leonard Mesaric.
Cup holders Hajduk Split are up to second, tied on seven points with Dinamo, after winning the Split derby 3-0 against RNK Split at the Stadion Park Mladezi. Midfielder Mijo Caktas opened the scoring with a penalty and RNK Split defender Tomislav Glumac put through his own net to make it 2-0 on the half hour mark. Hajduk striker Anton Maglica wrapped up the scoring early in the second half. Osijek are now the only team with no points after three rounds of action. They lost 3-1 away at Zadar but have a chance to redeem themselves in the upcoming Friday night basement clash against Slaven Belupo Koprivnica, who themselves only have one point.
Botev Plovdiv and Litex Lovech are the early season league leaders in Bulgaria after the second round of matches as the only two clubs with a one hundred per cent record and the maximum six points. The Canaries are just edging out the Lovech side for top spot on goal difference courtesy of their massive 7-1 home win over Pirin Gotse Delchev on Sunday. There were six different goalscorers for Botev Plovdiv in that match, with Dutch striker Romario Kortzorg coming off the bench to plunder a brace and five other players finding the net, including former MSV Duisburg striker Valeri Domovchiyski, who scored at both ends, getting Pirin’s consolation goal as well as his team’s opener.
Litex Lovech maintained their own perfect record with an impressive 2-0 win away at Lokomotiv Sofia with goals from Colombian striker Wilmar Gil and midfielder Simeon Slavchev. Defending champions Ludogorets Razgrad picked up their first points of the campaign 1-0 at home against Chernomorets and Levski Sofia are now the only club without a point on the board, having gone down 2-1 at home to Lokomotiv Plovdiv. One of the joint leaders is sure to drop points next weekend as the top two meet in a crunch match in Lovech on Sunday for the chance to go clear of the pack.
Shakhtar Donetsk and Metalist Kharkiv pulled clear of the pack in the nascent Ukrainian Premier League table over the weekend to become the only two clubs with a one hundred per cent record after Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk went down 3-1 at home to Zorya Luhansk. Shakhtar Donetsk recorded a 1-0 home win over Chornomorets Odessa at the Donbass Arena with a second half goal from Brazilian midfielder Douglas Costa to make it three wins from three in the league this season and rejoin Metalist at the top after the Kharkiv side had won 2-0 against Illichivets Mariupol at home on Friday night with a brace from national team striker Marko Devic.
Zorya Luhansk move up to third thanks to their win over Dnipro, and now sit level on seven points with Dynamo Kyiv, who had a 2-0 win against Sebastopol at the NSC Olimpiyskiy with a goal in each half from Nigerian midfielder Lukman Haruna and striker Dieumerci Mbokani, making them the only two other unbeaten sides after three rounds of matches. Dnipro dropped down to fifth place. Mbokani, with four goals, leads the scoring charts ahead of Devic, on three.
Related links: Footbal in Ukraine
The 2013/14 league season kicked off in Belgium over the weekend with all sixteen Jupiler Pro League teams in action. Cup holders Genk are the early pace setters, topping the early table on goal difference thanks to a comprehensive 3-0 home win over KV Oostende, who consequently are bottom, but there was a surprise 3-2 home defeat for reigning league champions Anderlecht, who got their title defence off to a shaky start against Lokeren. Joining Genk and Lokeren on three points at the top of the table are Club Brugge, Standard Liege, Zulte-Waregem and Kortrijk. Lokeren striker Hans Vanaken can enjoy at least a week at the top of the scoring charts courtesy of his brace against Anderlecht. He’s the only player who managed to find the net more than once on the opening weekend.
The first round results in full are:
Club Brugge 2-0 Sporting Charleroi
Genk 3-0 KV Oostende
Kortrijk 1-0 OH Leuven
Lierse 1-2 Zulte-Waregem
Mons 1-1 Cercle Brugge
Waasland-Beveren 1-1 Gent
Anderlecht 2-3 Lokeren
Mechelen 0-2 Standard Liège