Joao Felix is set for a spell on the sidelines after Atletico Madrid confirmed he suffered a grade two sprain to a right ankle ligament against Valencia.

Portugal international Joao Felix, who joined Atletico in a €126million transfer from Benfica in the close season, limped out of Saturday's 1-1 LaLiga draw at the Wanda Metropolitano with 10 minutes remaining.

The 19-year-old appeared to twist his ankle in a challenge with Dani Parejo and left Diego Simeone's side down to 10 men, having used all three of their substitutions.

Atleti boss Simeone acknowledged in his post-match news conference that Joao Felix's injury "could be serious" and scans have confirmed a grade two sprain of the external lateral ligament.

"Joao Felix underwent an X-ray and MRI scan at the Clinica Universidad de Navarra on Saturday and the report indicates he suffered a grade two sprain of the external lateral ligament of the right ankle," Atleti stated on their website.

It remains to be seen how long the teenager will be out for, though reports suggest he will miss a minimum of two weeks.

Joao Felix could consequently be forced to sit out matches against Bayer Leverkusen, Athletic Bilbao, Deportivo Alaves and Sevilla.

Since his club-record move to Atleti, the forward has scored two goals and providing one assist in LaLiga.

Diego Simeone indicated the injury Joao Felix suffered in Atletico Madrid's LaLiga draw with Valencia on Saturday "could be serious".

Joao Felix, who joined Atletico in a €126million transfer in the close season, hobbled off with 10 minutes left at the Wanda Metropolitano after twisting his ankle in a tussle for the ball with Dani Parejo.

The injury left the hosts, who had already used all three substitutions, with 10 men and Valencia quickly added insult to injury as Parejo bent home a stunning free-kick to equalise and claim a 1-1 draw.

Atletico confirmed Joao Felix will have tests to confirm the severity of the injury and speaking in his post-match media conference, Simeone said: "It did not seem much at first, but the doctors say it could be serious."

Diego Costa opened the scoring for Atletico with a 36th-minute penalty, but this was another game in which he and strike partner Alvaro Morata struggled to take their chances.

The stalemate left Atletico fourth in LaLiga having failed to win five of their past six matches. Simeone's men have scored just three goals in that run and have not been victorious at home in the top flight since a 3-2 defeat of Eibar on September 1, this latest setback giving leaders Real Madrid the chance to go five points ahead of them.

"Costa and Morata know that the only path is to keep working, to insist. Forwards know that when they score goals they are fantastic, and when they don't people point fingers," added Simeone.

"We are a new team, and we don't yet have balance to manage moments in games, above all when we need to suffer and position ourselves well and keep calm. But we are convinced we have players to do this, there is work to do, and I like that.

"Nobody thought this would be an easy season, I knew we would have a lot of work to do, to get the team balanced.

"In certain moments some people look to point fingers, others to work hard. Those who want to work hard will get on well with me. Those who point fingers won't.

"We are in a very good moment to work hard, and look to see who wants to work, and who does not like to work."

Valencia are unbeaten in five league games, with coach Albert Celades heaping praise on his players, particularly Parejo, for earning a share of the spoils from a game in which they were often on the back foot.

"To come here against this team, we knew it would be difficult. The team responded in a brilliant way in the second half, showed a lot of personality and ambition," Celades said.

"It is a luxury for us to have a player like Parejo, with his personality. When he has the ball, things happen. I love the way he wants to play, to make others play, to cause problems for the opposition."

Dani Parejo's wondrous late free-kick earned Valencia a 1-1 draw at Atletico Madrid, who were dealt a huge blow with an injury to Joao Felix.

Atletico appeared on course for a routine 1-0 win thanks to Diego Costa's 36th-minute penalty, the striker finding the net from the spot in a game that saw he and Alvaro Morata miss great chances.

However, the much-maligned forward pair's profligacy was eventually punished as Joao Felix, the €126million close-season signing from Benfica, had to be helped off with 10 minutes remaining, leaving an Atletico side that had already used all three substitutes with 10 men.

Parejo quickly took advantage in stunning fashion, bending a sublime strike beyond Jan Oblak and into the top-right corner to secure a share of the spoils despite Lee Kang-in's injury-time red card.

 

 

 

Ernesto Valverde thinks "it is fashionable not to agree on anything in political matters" and is keen for a new date for Barcelona's Clasico contest with Real Madrid to be signed off as soon as possible.

The first LaLiga meeting between the fierce rivals this season was due to take place next Saturday at Camp Nou but the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) confirmed on Friday the match was postponed due to the ongoing political tensions and protests in Catalonia.

There were violent scenes in Barcelona this week after nine Catalan political leaders received long prison sentences over their roles in the region's 2017 referendum and subsequent unilateral declaration of independence.

The RFEF intervened after a rally in the city by pro-independence politicians was called for the same day as the Clasico.

Barca later suggested December 18 as a potential new date and Madrid agreed with the proposal, which still requires ratification from the RFEF's Competition Committee.

Speaking after Barca's 3-0 triumph at Eibar on Saturday, Valverde said: "I hope and I trust that we play this match before the end of the first round of fixtures, or at least before the end of the season.

"It's fashionable to not agree on anything on political issues. I hope that [there is an agreement] in this. I don't think it's too difficult."

On the pitch, Barca ultimately cruised at Ipurua with Antoine Griezmann, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez all on target in a win that saw the Blaugrana reach LaLiga's summit, albeit Madrid can reclaim top spot against Real Mallorca later on Saturday.

It was one of the best collaborative performances the trio have produced since Griezmann's close-season switch from Atletico Madrid and Valverde said it was a matter of time before the triumvirate gained an understanding playing with one another.

"It's a question of time and of playing matches," Valverde added.

"In the end, great players always find each other [on the pitch] and know where their team-mates will be and know where the pass will go.

"They've participated and worked very hard. This is the reward. They scored a goal each, they understood each other well.

"The new players are finding their place and trying to understand each other. It's a question of time before they understand each other better."

Antoine Griezmann believes his alliance with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez is progressing well after the forward trio combined to fine effect in the 3-0 win at Eibar.

Griezmann settled Barca after a frantic opening to the contest, putting them ahead in the 13th minute.

The €120million man then had a hand in second-half goals for Messi and Suarez as Barca moved to the top of the table ahead of Real Madrid playing later on Saturday.

"There will be better or worse days, but we are getting to know each other little by little and we will do more," he told Movistar LaLiga.

Griezmann's opener was made possible by his well-timed run and a wonderful raking pass from centre-back Clement Lenglet – a move the two France internationals conceived before executing it impressively.

"We knew that Eibar were pressing a lot above and I told Lenglet that, if he saw me near the sideline, he should put it long," Griezmann said. "He did so and went 0-1.

"It was important to win all three points because, after the international break, it is always difficult to come on away trips. 

"It has been a good game and now we think about the Champions League."

Ernesto Valverde's side travel to face Slavia Prague on Wednesday, having taken four points from their opening two European matches versus Borussia Dortmund and Inter.

Sergi Roberto is to undergo tests to ascertain the extent of an injury to his left knee sustained in Barcelona's LaLiga victory at Eibar.

The Spain international was replaced at full-back by Nelson Semedo at half-time of the clash at Ipurua.

Barca later tweeted, saying: " [INJURY NEWS] @SergiRoberto10 has hurt his left knee. Tests will reveal the exact extent of the injury #EibarBarça."

Ernesto Valverde's men ultimately ran out comfortable 3-0 winners, with Antoine Griezmann, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez all on target.

It was a win that saw Barca reach the summit in LaLiga, although Real Madrid will quickly regain top spot if they emerge victorious at Real Mallorca later on Saturday.

Antoine Griezmann's sense the pass from Clement Langlet would coming was intuitive, his run that caused Eibar defender Pablo De Blasis to panic and clumsily fall instinctive.

But then, reality and the weight of the moment briefly seemed to afflict Barcelona's €120m forward.

This was the second time Griezmann, again lining up in a left-sided attacking role that does not come naturally to him, had started a LaLiga match alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

All three were on the field for the final half hour of Barca's 0-0 Champions League draw at Borussia Dortmund, along with the second half of the 2-0 loss at Granada. On their previous starts together, Messi made it way halfway through a 2-1 win over Villarreal, while victory against Inter was only secured after Griezmann's withdrawal.

The former Atletico Madrid favourite was an unused substituted for the 4-0 win over Sevilla that preceded an international break when he failed to find the net for France. And, at Eibar's wonderfully idiosyncratic Ipurua home, the signs up until the 13th minute had not been great.

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Suarez is playing with a level of sharpness rarely spotted over the past 18 months, which is bad news for any designs Griezmann might have for operating in the middle of Barca's front three.

In the fifth minute of a lively opening to the contest, the Uruguay striker effortlessly spun Anaitz Arbilla to open up 45 yards of open space and possibilities, including Griezmann to his left.

Suarez instead opted for an audacious and poorly executed shot from a fanciful distance. Would a pass to Griezmann not have been a better option? True, an early dart from Barca's newest attacking recruit had already been headed off by Arbilla but it was hard to imagine seeing something so wild during the MSN days.

Messi. Suarez. Neymar. The trident to which the Blaugrana's latest all-star configuration is always likely to be compared. Messi has made no secret of the fact he wanted a reunion during the close season when it was clear Neymar's Parisian adventure had turned sour.

Three supreme soloists who slotted together irresistibly at their best. The clunk of Suarez swapping positions with Griezmann, only for Arthur's attempted pass to miss them both jarred by comparison.

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It is worth remembering it was not instantly all milk and honey for Barca's South American superstars in 2014-15.

While Griezmann, Messi and Suarez will be able to iron out the kinks for a few more weeks before meeting Real Madrid, following Friday's El Clasico postponement, MSN made their collective debut at the Santiago Bernabeu and lost 3-1.

Next time out, there was a 1-0 defeat to Celta Vigo. Only in their third game together, where a Messi brace sealed a 2-0 win over Ajax in Amsterdam, did things start to click.

They were in full flight by the turn of the year, their early struggles eventually a forgotten blemish upon a magnificent treble. Those are lofty standards for a signing whose worth has already been extensively disputed to live up to.

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And so, with Arbilla helpfully on his backside, Griezmann came over somewhat jittery. His feet, not quite sorting themselves out the other side of an anxious glance backwards to locate the rest of the Eibar defence.

He dug out a left-footed finish that lacked conviction but ended up in the net via goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic and the inside of his post. Suarez was the first to embrace his team-mate. Job done. Relief palpable.

From that point, Artur, Frenkie de Jong and Sergio Busquets gradually drew the sting from Eibar before squeezing the life from them. After the interval, it was time for the headline acts to have some fun.

In the 58th minute, Suarez twisted in a tight spot inside the Eibar area and shifted the ball inside to Griezmann, who saw and heard Messi darting around him. A deft one-touch lay-off left the mercurial Argentine with a simple finish.

In the 66th minute, it was Messi's turn to leave it on a plate for Suarez, having raced clear onto a throughball from Griezmann, who often roved slightly deeper to fine effect after the break.

That was 3-0 and game over. There will be tougher tests of their newly established union, but MSG showed enough at Ipurua to make Spain and Europe take note.

Antoine Griezmann, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez were all on target as Barcelona coasted to a 3-0 win at Eibar to end a frantic week with a fifth straight victory on all fronts.

Barca opted to travel to the Basque Country early on Thursday amid the political unrest in their home city as a result of nine Catalan political leaders being dealt long prison sentences for their roles in the region's 2017 referendum and subsequent declaration of independence.

The violent scenes that broke out in protest led to the postponement of next week's Clasico with Real Madrid, but it was back to business for Ernesto Valverde's men at Ipurua.

Griezmann opened the scoring with a classy 13th-minute goal and teed up Messi to double the lead after neat work from Suarez, who scored in a seventh straight outing against Eibar to round out the routine triumph.

Suarez's audacious effort just inside the opposition half was not in keeping with the tone of the early exchanges in which Pedro Leon blazed over from one of several dangerous Eibar crosses.

But Pablo de Blasis' untimely slip allowed Griezmann to race onto Clement Lenglet's long punt and he had the composure to clip past Marko Dmitrovic and find the net via the post.

Undeterred, Pedro Leon's exquisite right-wing centre needed evasive action from Samuel Umtiti – making his first competitive appearance of the season – to deny Charles, while at the other end Messi's quick feet nearly rounded Dmitrovic for a tap-in.

It was game over when Messi finished a wonderful team move just shy of the hour. Suarez combined brilliantly with Griezmann and he teed up the Argentina superstar to slot into the bottom-right corner.

Messi then turned provider, racing onto Griezmann's sumptuous throughball and unselfishly laying on for Suarez to pass into an open goal.

Suarez almost added further gloss with a well-struck half-volley five minutes from time, but his effort just cleared the right-hand post.

 

What does it mean? Barca hitting their stride

Messi's injury-hit start to the campaign coincided with some underwhelming early season performances. It took a while for Barca to run through the gears here, perhaps the midweek turmoil playing a part in that, and yet it ultimately ended up a comfortable day for a fourth straight LaLiga win that puts them top – albeit Real Madrid can return to the summit later on Saturday.

Messi, Griezmann, Suarez triumvirate gaining in confidence

One senses Valverde still has solutions to find defensively, but up top there is a growing understanding between Messi, Griezmann and Suarez. The trio combined to glorious effect for Messi's goal and the captain set up Suarez when he could have gone for goal himself for Barca's third. It was an ominous warning to their LaLiga rivals.

Charles struggles to fire

Eibar were arguably the more imaginative team in the opening stages with Pedro Leon and Fabio Orellana dangerous out wide. But Charles did not do enough from his central striking position to put pressure on Umtiti or Lenglet.

What's next?

Barca are back in action on Wednesday when they visit Slavia Prague for matchweek three of the Champions League. Eibar travel to Real Valladolid next Saturday.

Eden Hazard will not be involved in Real Madrid's LaLiga game against Real Mallorca following the birth of his fourth child.

According to reports, Hazard's wife, Natacha, gave birth to a boy late on Friday.

The Belgium international was excluded from the 19-man travelling list released ahead of Madrid's flight out for Saturday's fixture.

Hazard's absence leaves Zinedine Zidane lacking two first-choice wingers, with Gareth Bale unavailable after limping through the final stages of Wales' 1-1 draw against Croatia last weekend.

Luka Modric suffered bruising to his right quadriceps in the same Euro 2020 qualifier and also misses the Mallorca match, as does Dani Carvajal.

Brahim Diaz and little-used striker Mariano Diaz will both hope to make their first appearances of the season.

Sergio Aguero and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have been included in FIFA 20's first Ultimate Scream pack ahead of Halloween.

EA Sports announced the release of the FIFA Ultimate Team cards on Friday, with Manchester City striker Aguero and LA Galaxy star Ibrahimovic among the standout names.

Top-rated Aguero is joined in the first batch by fellow Premier League players Dele Alli, Nicolas Otamendi and Bernard, with a second group of players to be released next Friday.

Below, we have the list of FUT cards that are up for grabs.

FUT Ultimate Scream pack

LM: Bernard (Everton) - 84

CB: Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City) - 85

LM: Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund) - 85

CAM: Marcel Sabitzer (RB Leipzig) - 85

CB: Alessio Romagnoli (AC Milan) - 86

CDM: William Carvalho (Real Betis) - 86

CAM: Dele Alli (Tottenham) - 87

CAM: James Rodriguez (Real Madrid) - 88

CAM: Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich) - 88

ST: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (LA Galaxy) - 88

ST: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) - 91

Lionel Messi believes a return to Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar is "complicated" because some people do not want him back at the club.

Neymar attempted to engineer a return to Camp Nou during the previous transfer window, just two years after leaving for the Ligue 1 side in a world-record €222million deal.

The strained relationship between the two clubs was said to have impacted transfer discussions, however, and the Brazil international remains a PSG player.

Messi starred in a front three alongside Neymar and Luis Suarez and they remain in contact, but the Argentina star is unsure if a reunion at Barca will be possible.

"We talk often and we have a group chat with Luis Suarez," Messi told Buenos Aires radio station Metro 95.1. 

"The issue of his return is complicated. Firstly, because it was difficult to see him leave, secondly because of how he left.

"There are people from the club and members who do not want him to return. If it is for sporting reasons, Neymar is one of the best in the world, but I understand the other factors."

Messi, presented with the European Golden Shoe for a sixth time this week, recently declared he intends to see out the remainder of his career at Barcelona.

However, unlike fellow club icon Andres Iniesta, he has ruled out signing a lifetime contract

"That was talked about a while ago, as was done with Iniesta and the others," he said.

"I don't want a contract to tie me up because I don't know how I'm going to feel. I don't want to be [under contract] if I'm not well.

"I'm going to compete as long as I feel good physically, but obviously I would stay a lifetime."

Messi also opened up on his rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo, who he competed with for team and individual honours for just short of a decade during the Portuguese forward's time at Real Madrid.

Ronaldo moved to Juventus in 2018 and Messi admits Barca's Clasico showdowns with Madrid have lost some lustre as a result.

"Yes, it was good when he was in the Spanish league," Messi said.

"It made the Clasicos more special and gave them more value."

Diego Simeone praised the enthusiasm of Atletico Madrid strikers Diego Costa and Alvaro Morata despite their struggles in front of goal this season.

Atleti have just one win from their past five LaLiga games but are only three points behind leaders and city rivals Real Madrid.

Simeone's men have drawn a blank in each of the four encounters they have failed to win in this stretch.

Costa and Morata have each scored only once in the league so far this campaign, but Simeone sees little reason to be concerned about the duo.

"I think they are great, they're doing good, even if they haven't proved it with goals yet - and I know that's their bread and butter," Simeone told a media conference. 

"I think their involvement, predisposition and their will to improve is awesome. I hope they keep it that way, it's their challenge

"They both scored one goal in La Liga, Morata played less than Diego but I see both are enthusiastic. I can see they want to improve.

"We have to keep calm and know they are two important players for this club and the team. We hope that they will start scoring soon since it's part of their lives, [but] I sincerely think they're doing good."

Atletico welcome Valencia to the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday, with Simeone hoping his players hit their stride quickly upon returning from the international break.

"When they come back from the national team, it is not easy," Simeone added. "They're playing more and more games with the national team and that's difficult for the teams and obviously for the players as well.

"They play almost every day. We hope they adapt again really fast to the club and competition.

"Tomorrow's game is against a competitive and historic team like Valencia, they are really powerful at recovering and counter-attacking.

"A few things are changing with [Albert] Celades from what it was with Marcelino, but obviously the team already had a structure and I imagine the coach is combining it to do the best for the team.

"They are dangerous, dynamic and have a dangerous counter-attack, and we think that's the way our rival will play tomorrow."

Barcelona's appeal to have Ousmane Dembele's two-game ban reduced to one has been rejected by the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).

Dembele was sent off in the closing minutes of Barca's 4-0 LaLiga win over Sevilla this month following a confrontation with referee Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz, who had just given debutant Ronald Araujo a red card for a foul on Javier Hernandez.

Barcelona's initial appeal against Dembele's red card was dismissed and he was ruled out of the club's next two league matches.

With the France forward seemingly set to miss the Clasico against Real Madrid, which had been scheduled for October 26, Barca then attempted to have his ban halved.

Their efforts proved in vain but Dembele will now be available for the first LaLiga Clasico of the season, with the fixture having been postponed due to safety concerns amid the ongoing political tensions and protests in Catalonia.

Instead, the former Borussia Dortmund star will miss Saturday's match against Eibar and the meeting with Real Valladolid a week on Tuesday.

The Camp Nou Clasico appears set to be played on December 18 after both Barca and Madrid proposed the date on Friday.

Dembele has made three league appearances for Barca this season, scoring once - against Sevilla.

Samuel Umtiti and Junior Firpo have been passed fit to play a part in Barcelona's LaLiga clash with Eibar on Saturday.

Centre-back Umtiti is yet to feature this season and has been out for the past six weeks with a foot injury.

Meanwhile, versatile left-back Junior last featured in the 2-0 win over Getafe on September 28, scoring his first Barca goal, before a hamstring complaint.

Both players were named in Thursday's travelling squad and then took part in Friday's training session ahead of the early kick-off on Saturday.

The LaLiga champions, who are second in the table after three straight wins, confirmed the duo had been cleared to play.

Real Madrid have agreed with Barcelona's suggestion to move the first LaLiga Clasico of the season to December 18.

The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) confirmed on Friday that it had postponed the match at Camp Nou due to safety concerns amid the ongoing political tensions and protests in Catalonia.

Violent scenes broke out in Barcelona after nine Catalan political leaders received long prison sentences for their roles in the region's 2017 referendum and subsequent unilateral declaration of independence.

A rally in the city has been called by pro-independence politicians for October 26, the day Barca were due to host Madrid, prompting the RFEF to intervene.

The Competition Committee has told the two clubs to agree to a revised date for the game before next Monday and Barca suggested December 18 as the best option.

In a statement released later on Friday, Madrid said: "In light of the Competition Committee ruling which postpones the match scheduled to be played on Saturday October 26 between Barcelona and Real Madrid, and states the clubs must agree a new date for the fixture, Real Madrid wishes to communicate that the date proposed by both said clubs is December 18."

Speaking earlier, head coach Zinedine Zidane said he was prepared to adapt to any plans to reschedule the fixture.

"If we have to play on the 26th, we will, and if we have to change, the important thing is to be prepared," he told a news conference.

"I know there is a lot of debate because it's logical, but my position as coach is this: to be ready on the date that the appropriate person tells us. We'll adapt.

"I have a preference but I'm not going to tell you. We know it could be the seventh, the eighteenth – we'll adapt to this."

December 18, a Wednesday, is seen by many as an appropriate date as neither Barca nor Madrid are involved in the planned Copa del Rey fixtures on that day.

LaLiga reportedly put forward December 7 as its preferred date, as it would keep the match on a Saturday, but this would require Barca's meeting with Real Mallorca and Madrid's game against Espanyol to be moved.

Barca and Madrid are also playing their final Champions League group games, away to Inter and Club Brugge respectively, within four days after December 7.

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