Real Madrid must rediscover their "hunger for success" after a disappointing 2018-19 season, according to club president Florentino Perez.

Madrid could only manage a third-place finish in LaLiga last season, as three coaches failed to provide a huge amount of inspiration.

Julen Lopetegui lasted until October, before his successor Santiago Solari was dismissed in March to allow for Zinedine Zidane's return, though they were no better under the Frenchman and finished a whopping 19 points adrift of champions Barcelona.

Madrid were also dumped out of the Champions League by Ajax in the quarter-finals having won the title for three consecutive seasons, and Perez is demanding that winning habit returns.

Speaking at Madrid's ordinary general assembly, Perez said: "This is a united club and that's our strength, the strength of 'madridismo' [Real Madrid fandom].

"We have to understand that this team had won everything there was to win in a unique and historic cycle which saw us lift 17 titles in the past nine seasons. An almost inimitable cycle.

"It's been a difficult season and we've all taken stock where necessary, because we need to turn the situation around. Don't be in any doubt that we will do just that.

"By placing great demands on ourselves, we must carry out the transformation required which will allow 'madridistas' [Madrid fans] to dream of new successes and titles.

"Our challenge is to keep winning on an international football stage which is increasingly complicated and competitive. And of course, we need to recover that hunger for success. The desire that has been a crucial factor in enjoying one of the best eras in our history."

Raphael Varane sees Real Madrid team-mate Karim Benzema as an inspiration due to his longevity at the very top.

Benzema, 31, joined Madrid in 2009 and has gone on to carve out a fine career at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Arguably the most impressive aspect of Benzema's Madrid career has been his ability to rediscover his best form after struggling in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 campaigns, scoring only 16 goals across 61 matches.

Last term he found the net 21 times and he has started the new campaign in solid fashion as well, scoring four goals in as many games, including a brace in Saturday's 3-2 win over Levante.

The Lyon academy product has seemingly established himself as one of the world's elite strikers once again and Varane looks up to him for having such a prolonged career at the top.

Speaking ahead of the release of his Amazon Prime documentary, Varane said: "We [Varane and Benzema] have a good relationship. When I arrived in Madrid, there were two Frenchmen, him and Lassana Diarra.

"We have known each other for eight years now. We've had great moments together. We talk a lot. We talk a lot about football, in good and bad times.

"We have a very good relationship. He has more experience than me, so he can have a role of giving advice on how to approach things at the highest level and how to last that level because he's been at Madrid a while and his longevity is exceptional."

Paco Alcacer accused "many people" of treating him badly at Barcelona ahead of a Champions League reunion with his former club.

The Spain international left Barca for Borussia Dortmund on loan at the start of last season and made the move permanent in February.

Alcacer quickly proved a hit in Germany, scoring 18 goals in his first Bundesliga campaign, and already boasts seven in all competitions this term.

That form gives the striker the chance to prove a point to those who doubted him when Barca visit Signal Iduna Park on Tuesday.

"I'll decide in the moment," Alcacer told SER Catalunya when questioned on whether he would celebrate scoring.

"I have respect for many people there. Many peopled behaved very well with me but many people behaved very badly. My team-mates and the fans treated me well.

"As in any job, if people trust you, you give your best, and if they don't trust you, you don't give it.

"It's very important for me to see those signs of trust and in the end many people did not show it."

Alcacer made 37 LaLiga appearances in his two seasons with Barca, 23 of them from the bench.

The former Valencia forward generally served as Luis Suarez's understudy in an attack containing Lionel Messi, who has yet to feature this season due to injury.

Alcacer was asked about Messi's influence at Camp Nou and said: "It's clear that a player of that level is important for the team and for the club.

"You will always ask for his opinion and listen to him.

"Hopefully he will play next weekend, against Granada, and not against us!"

Inter Miami are continuing their stunning bid to sign Lionel Messi.

Messi, 32, can reportedly leave Barcelona at the end of any season for a club outside of Europe despite being contracted at the LaLiga champions until 2021.

Linked with a shock switch to David Beckham's MLS outfit Inter Miami, the club are continuing to make moves for the Argentina superstar.

 

TOP STORY – INTER MIAMI REPRESENTATIVE MEETS MESSI'S DAD

Beckham sent Inter Miami sporting director Paul McDonough to London for talks with Messi's dad Jorge, according to The Sun.

Inter Miami are set to enter MLS in 2020 and are looking for a big-name signing, with Messi undoubtedly the biggest of the names linked.

It comes just days after Messi said in an interview with Sport that he wanted to remain at Camp Nou for "as long as possible".

ROUND-UP

- Real Madrid could chase Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba again in January. Sport Bild reports Real Madrid are planning to use Toni Kroos in an exchange deal to land the France international, who was heavily linked with a switch during the close season.

- Sadio Mane re-signed with Liverpool until 2023 less than 12 months ago, but the European champions are already looking for the attacker to recommit. Liverpool have opened talks with Mane for an extension, according to Soccer Link.

- Seemingly unwanted at Juventus, Mario Mandzukic's future remains a talking point. Qatari club Al-Gharafa have offered €6million net per year to the striker and can meet Juve's demands, according to CalcioMercato, which reports Los Angeles FC are also interested in the Croatian despite the MLS transfer window not reopening until February.

- Inter are already looking to lock down a couple of stars. CalcioMercato reports the Serie A giants want to extend the contracts of goalkeeper Samir Handanovic – until 2022 – and forward Lautaro Martinez until 2024. The report says Inter would also double Martinez's salary from €1.5m to €3m per season amid interest from Barcelona.

- Sam Allardyce is ready for a return to management. The Sun reports the former England boss, who left Everton in May last year, is eyeing a return to Sunderland if the reported takeover by an American consortium is completed.

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde described Ansu Fati as "something special" after the teenager starred in a 5-2 win over Valencia on Saturday.

Making his starting debut, Fati needed just seven minutes to have a major impact at Camp Nou, opening the scoring before setting up Frenkie de Jong for Barca's second.

Fati, aged 16 years and 318 days, became the youngest player to score as a starter in LaLiga history, and the youngest player to both score and assist in a LaLiga game in the 21st century.

Valverde lauded the teenager – who has scored two LaLiga goals for Barca – for his performance, saying it was beyond expectations.

"He is a player who has something special. For his age it seems that he is more mature," he told Movistar. 

"What you see in training is what you see here. Today was something exaggerated – goal, give one assist and almost score another."

Fati set up Barca's victory before a second-half goal from Gerard Pique and Luis Suarez brace lifted Valverde's side onto seven points from four LaLiga games.

Amid the excitement around Fati, Valverde played down comparisons to superstar Lionel Messi, who is sidelined with a calf injury.

"I'm not worried about the comparison," he said.

"The ball is going to be very big and we have to take care of deflating it."

Barcelona sit fourth in what is a congested top half of the table, trailing Atletico Madrid (nine points), Real Madrid (eight) and Athletic Bilbao (eight).

As for his side's performance, Valverde praised Barca's second-half display at home.

"The best thing is that we have come out with determination, to try to score and arrive," he said.

"Sometimes we were in danger of putting a lot forward and leaving room for counters. They have fast players. We have done a good second half."

Barcelona are back in action on Tuesday, visiting Borussia Dortmund in their opening game in the Champions League this season.

Ansu Fati has made history at Barcelona in such a short space of time that even Lionel Messi's continued absence through injury has not been felt too keenly.

After making his debut at the age of 16 years and 298 days in the 5-2 defeat of Real Betis in August, he became Barca's youngest LaLiga goalscorer after coming on to score in the 2-2 draw at Osasuna a week later.

With Messi still not ready to be risked and Ousmane Dembele also sidelined, Ernesto Valverde made the bold call of handing Fati his full debut in Saturday's 5-2 win over Valencia at Camp Nou. He needed just seven minutes to prove his coach right.

Inside two minutes, Fati turned in Frenkie de Jong's cross to put Barca ahead, and he returned the favour to his team-mate five minutes later after a brilliant run from the left, becoming the youngest LaLiga player this century to score and assist a goal in the same game.

He came close to scoring twice more in the first half from that same position, as he turned and squared up fearlessly against full-back Daniel Wass at every opportunity. One impudent flick over his own head in the Valencia box brought gasps from the home fans.

Little wonder Barca Under-19 boss Victor Valdes described him as "the jewel of La Masia",  a player who produces "pure anarchy". Little wonder his first childhood coach, Jose Luis Perez Mena, said: "I've been watching football for 50 years and I've never seen anyone like him."

With the Under-17 World Cup coming up next month, little wonder, either, that Spain are desperate to sign him up.

Born in Guinea-Bissau and eligible for both them and Portugal, Fati moved to Spain with his family as a child and joined Sevilla's academy before accepting an offer to sign for Barca as a 10-year-old, after his father turned down a more lucrative approach from Real Madrid.

According to Catalan daily Sport, Fati has declared his intention to play for his adopted country and national team head coach Robert Moreno says efforts from the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) to bring him into La Roja's fold are well underway.

"The people of the federation are working on it in order to bring Ansu Fati in, and then there will be the decision of the player," he told Movistar at half-time of Saturday's game.

"The federation works to have the best players. It's a joy for Barca – a player who has come out of La Masia. You have to be calm and I hope he is."

Fati certainly seems someone unlikely to let his sudden fame get the better of him. He described his debut last month as "the dream of any boy at La Masia"; a moment when a young man who does not turn 17 until October 31 got to play alongside global stars and was rewarded with a hug from a beaming Messi.

His natural talent even seemed to have escaped his father, who told Partidazo de Cope last month: "At six or seven, he came to Spain. I had come here before and I didn't know he played football. They told me I was not aware of how good my son was and that he was dribbling by everybody."

When Fati was brought on to replace Carles Perez against Betis and became the second-youngest player to feature in LaLiga in the club's history behind Vicente Martinez, his father described it as "the happiest moment of my life". He had barely even believed it when he learned his son had been given a first-team call-up.

Playing for the club's Juvenil A side, Fati's main goal prior to the start of the season was to make some headway in the Barca B reckoning. Valdes even had to take him to buy new boots as his old ones were hurting his feet.

In less than a month, he has played three senior matches, scored two goals and set up another, broken club and division records and started a scramble from national team bosses eager to make sure he does not slip through the net.

"Remember the name, Ansu Fati, as more records are bound to fall," Barca said on their official website after the Valencia rout. They almost certainly will. For now, though, he'll rest and then get back to training to prepare for Borussia Dortmund next week.

He might need a lift – he won't be old enough to drive for another 13 months.

Clement Lenglet called for patience around Ansu Fati after the teenager's excellent display in Barcelona's 5-2 win over Valencia.

The 16-year-old marked his first Barca start with a goal and an assist inside seven minutes at Camp Nou on Saturday, adding to his maiden strike against Osasuna before the international break.

It made Fati the youngest player to score and assist in a single LaLiga game in the 21st century.

He was replaced by Luis Suarez in the 60th minute and the Uruguay international scored twice, with Frenkie de Jong and Gerard Pique also on target for Ernesto Valverde's side.

Asked about Fati after the match, defender Lenglet told Movistar: "He is 16 years old and we have to be calm with him. It's true that he has taken advantage of his minutes and is a good boy who deserves it.

"I am very happy for him, but we have to give him time because he is 16 years old and things can change quickly. I hope they don't but we have to take care of him.

"[I would advise him to] listen to people and work hard because playing for Barca is very difficult."

Kevin Gameiro was granted a goal after a lengthy VAR review of an offside decision before half-time, while Maxi Gomez opened his Valencia account in the second minute of stoppage time at the end of the game.

"It was a good victory against a difficult opponent who plays good football. They play different football to us but we did things very well," said Lenglet.

"We prefer not to concede goals, but we did things well until the end. On the whole we played a good game and although we conceded the response was important."

Ansu Fati produced another star performance as Barcelona routed Valencia 5-2 at Camp Nou on Saturday to close the gap to LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid.

Winger Fati, just 16, got a goal and an assist for Frenkie de Jong in the first seven minutes of his full debut for the club, having become their youngest league goalscorer as a substitute in the draw with Osasuna last month.

Kevin Gameiro pulled one back for Valencia, who caused a shock this week when they sacked head coach Marcelino and replaced him with the inexperienced Albert Celades, but Gerard Pique effectively killed off the contest 51 minutes in.

Luis Suarez scored his first goal of the season with his second touch after coming on as a substitute and added a late second to seal the win, as Lionel Messi - still not risked following a calf injury - watched on approvingly. Maxi Gomez pinched a late consolation, his first Valencia goal.

In just the second minute, Fati met De Jong's cut-back and rifled home his first Camp Nou goal for the club.

He turned provider five minutes later, dancing his way into the box from the left and teeing up De Jong to open his account for the club with a powerful side-foot finish.

Barca appeared in total control but allowed Valencia a lifeline when Gameiro sprung the offside trap and slotted in off the left-hand post, a VAR review granting him a reprieve after the goal was initially disallowed.

Ernesto Valverde's side restored Barcelona's two-goal lead six minutes after the interval, as Pique pounced to tap home the rebound after Jasper Cillessen could only parry an Antoine Griezmann shot against the woodwork.

Nelson Semedo then rattled the other post as Suarez came on for Fati, and the Uruguay star promptly scored with his second touch of the ball, feinting before bending a shot into the bottom-left corner.

Suarez hit almost the same spot with eight minutes to go for Barca, further highlighting the difficult task awaiting Celades over the coming weeks.

What does it mean? Barca take advantage of Atletico slip-up

Atleti's 2-0 defeat to Real Sociedad earlier means there is not a single team in the division with a 100 per cent record this season, despite only four rounds of matches having been played.

Barca made the most of Atleti's loss to move within two points of the early league leaders, while the manner of the performance will give Valverde plenty of encouragement - particularly ahead of the start of the Champions League.

Fati's rise shows no sign of slowing

Fati started the season pushing for a regular place in Barca's B team, making his emergence under Valverde all the more remarkable.

He showed a clinical touch for his goal and some excellent wing play to set up De Jong, and went close with two further efforts from distance before departing to a standing ovation.

Cillessen's rotten return

In his first game at Camp Nou since leaving for Valencia in June, Cillessen made only one save in the first hour - and it left Pique with an easy finish on the rebound. It was not a happy homecoming.

What's next?

Barca begin Champions League duties away to Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday, with a league trip to Granada to follow four days later. Valencia head to Chelsea before a home league meeting with Leganes.

Diego Simeone says he worries about "everything offensively and defensively" and admitted Atletico Madrid need to improve after seeing their 100 per cent start in LaLiga ended by Real Sociedad.

Atletico entered Saturday's contest, the first competitive fixture played at Sociedad's Reale Arena, having won their opening three league matches.

However, a fired-up Sociedad took all three points thanks to a deflected opener from Martin Odegaard and a debut goal for former Arsenal defender Nacho Monreal.

Atletico coach Simeone concedes there is work for his side to do.

"Everything worries me, I worry about anything that happens offensively and defensively," he said.

"We need to grow. We know what we have and what we are and where we need to go. LaLiga is very difficult, when you don't start a match how you should start, you lose.

"Since pre-season this is the first defeat, we need to improve and grow."

Simeone added that Atletico did not produce their best football until the game was already gone.

"The team wore its best face when already 2-0 [down]," he said. "In the final part [of the game] it's when we identified more with what we were doing."

Ansu Fati's extraordinary rise continued on Saturday as he got a goal and an assist within seven minutes of his first LaLiga start for Barcelona.

The 16-year-old became Barca's youngest ever goalscorer in the top flight when he came off the bench to score in the 2-2 draw with Osasuna prior to the international break.

With Luis Suarez fit enough only for the bench and Lionel Messi still not risked due to a calf problem, head coach Ernesto Valverde handed Fati his first start at Camp Nou for the visit of Valencia.

The winger responded by opening the scoring after only two minutes, drilling home from Frenkie de Jong's low cross from the right.

Barely five minutes later, Fati returned the favour to De Jong, cutting in from the left and squaring the ball for the Netherlands midfielder to score his first goal for the club.

Fati, who does not turn 17 until October 31, watched Barca's Juvenil A side face Girona on Saturday just hours before he started against Valencia.

Born in Bissau before moving to Spain with his family as a child, Fati joined Sevilla's youth academy before signing for Barca at the age of 10.

His father admitted on Partidazo de Cope last month that "Real Madrid offered me better conditions than Barcelona for my son" but that Barca convinced him to accept their offer after they visited his house.

"This is the happiest day of my life," he said after Fati's debut in the 5-2 victory over Real Betis. "When he told us he was being called up by Valverde I started to cry and my wife too. When he came on, we were on cloud nine.

"At six or seven, he came to Spain. I had come here before and I didn't know he played football. They told me I was not aware of how good my son was and that he was dribbling by everybody."

Atletico Madrid's 100 per cent LaLiga record was emphatically ended on Saturday, as they lost 2-0 to a fired-up Real Sociedad in the first competitive fixture played at the Reale Arena.

Diego Simeone's side had managed three straight wins prior to the international break but turned in a below-par performance on the road, conceding two goals in a costly three-minute spell in the second half.

After a trio of away games at the start of the 2019-20 campaign, Sociedad excelled in front of a raucous crowd at their revamped home, albeit Martin Odegaard's opener owed much to a huge deflection off Stefan Savic.

They doubled their lead soon after through debutant Nacho Monreal, the former Arsenal defender seizing on a loose ball to poke home ahead of Jan Oblak.

Atletico's goalkeeper was injured in trying to prevent Monreal scoring and, after lengthy treatment on the field, was replaced by Antonio Adan, adding further to Simeone's concerns ahead of the start of the Champions League group stage in midweek.

Oblak had saved from Mikel Oyarzabal with an outstretched leg in a first half that saw the home side on top, while Savic denied Sociedad's captain when he inadvertently turned away an on-target header with his thigh.

Simeone sent on Marcos Llorente and Angel Correa in an attempt to turn the tide early in the second half, only for the visitors to be laid out by Sociedad's rapid one-two punch.

They had rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat Eibar at home last time out but were unable to complete a similar comeback on this occasion, Sociedad goalkeeper Miguel Angel Moya denying both Vitolo and Savic with smart saves to keep a clean sheet against his former club on a memorable occasion for the hosts.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said Eden Hazard was still some way short of being match fit after a low-key debut in Saturday's victory over Levante.

Hazard made a subdued start to his Madrid career with an appearance as a second-half substitute in a 3-2 win against Levante at the Bernabeu.

The Belgium international, who joined Madrid from Chelsea in June, has only recently returned to training following a thigh injury.

Hazard showed a few nice touches after he came off the bench in the 60th minute, although the 28-year-old forward was far from his sparkling best.

"When he touches the ball he has a lot of versatility," Zidane said.

"But what he needs now is to train more. He has only done four workouts with the team.

"The second half was more complicated for us, especially at the beginning. When the opponent scores a goal after three minutes it is difficult.

"But we got three points. We must not look for excuses, the important thing is to keep the first part of the game and play more minutes as the first part. We can improve a lot, we have to play better."

Real seemed to be cruising victory against Levante after two goals from Karim Benzema and one from Casemiro put them 3-0 up at half-time.

However, Borja Mayoral, on loan at Levante from Madrid, and Gonzalo Melero reduced the deficit.

Madrid’s defensive shakiness almost allowed Levante to take a point and the capital giants have yet to keep a clean sheet this season.

Zidane was full of praise for Benzema, who took his tally to four goals in four LaLiga matches, but acknowledged the need for an improvement from his struggling backline.

"What I can say about Benzema is keep it up," Zidane added. "We are very happy to see Benzema like this. We have seen Karim's ovation from the supporters.

"The defence? It doesn't worry me, although we have to improve and we are going to do it.

"Physically, maybe, the international break could be noticed but I don't want to look for excuses.

"I know we are going to score more goals and concede less."

Eden Hazard helped lift the growing gloom around Zinedine Zidane's Real Madrid as he made his long-awaited debut in a 3-2 LaLiga win at home to Levante on Saturday.

Amid driving rain in the Spanish capital - Hazard must have thought he would play in better conditions after leaving London - he made a bright half-hour cameo from the bench.

A thigh injury delayed the Belgium star's debut but after skipping international duty during the break he was finally able to pull on the famous white shirt he has so long desired.

But as Paco Lopez's side battled back from 3-0 down at the break to almost snatch a point, Thibaut Courtois making a fine save to keep out Ruben Vezo's stoppage-time header, it is clear Hazard will not be able to fix all Madrid's problems on his own.

Hazard certainly adds variety to their attacking options. Zidane initially fielded him in a free role ostensibly operating on the left, his favoured position for club and country, filling the void where Cristiano Ronaldo thrived for so long before joining Serie A giants Juventus last year.

That meant the effervescent Vinicius Jr swapped wings and played on the right, with Lucas Vazquez - one of Zidane's favourites - switching inside to a more central role than his usual position on the flank. Hazard did occasionally pop up on the right and also in a more classic number 10 role, so it appears Zidane is going to give the Belgium star plenty of freedom to run his side's attacks.

Hazard replaced Casemiro - the Brazil midfielder having scored the third goal - even though Los Blancos were being dominated in the second half, ex-Madrid striker Borja Mayoral having cut the deficit to 3-1. Toni Kroos therefore dropped back into the shielding role in front of defence and Zidane still has to fit Ballon d'Or winner Luka Modric back in after he was ruled out by injury.

Victory was set up by Karim Benzema, who scored twice in the first half to help build Madrid's commanding lead. At 2-0, he had scored nine of Madrid's past 11 LaLiga goals at home, while his tally in the league since the start of the year stands at an impressive 19.

Benzema has often been under-rated by fans and pundits during his time at the Bernabeu, but not by Zidane. Other coaches have failed to fully appreciate his understanding of the game and ability to bring others into play, which will be crucial if Hazard is to shine. 

A perfect example of his all-round skills was provided by Madrid's second goal, with Benzema linking up perfectly with James Rodriguez before slotting a low finish past Aitor Fernandez. Benzema would have had the matchball to show for his efforts had the woodwork not denied him, the crowd later giving him a rousing reception when he was replaced by Luka Jovic.

It was arguably telling that although Hazard, Jovic and Eder Militao all came off the bench, Zidane's starting XI - as long as you include James, who spent the past two years on loan at Bayern Munich - did not include any of the new signings provided by Florentino Perez.

Cracks have already reportedly begun to show in the relationship between Zidane and Perez, who failed to deliver Paul Pogba for his coach, so this was a welcome win, albeit by a far narrower margin that Madrid's vibrant first-half display deserved.

Zidane had made it clear the World Cup winner was a key target, adding mobility and drive to a central midfield department that has grown stale, but Pogba could not be prised away from Manchester United despite telling reporters he was ready for a new challenge.

Hazard will instead be relied on to provide Galactico stardust, but he will hope to have a greater impact than the time-wasting job he carried out in the latter stages as Madrid clung on.

Zidane and Madrid could celebrate a much-needed win after successive LaLiga draws, though, ahead of Wednesday's Champions League trip to Paris Saint-Germain, where Hazard will surely make his first start.

Eden Hazard made his Real Madrid debut as they claimed a nervy 3-2 victory over Levante in LaLiga thanks to two goals from Karim Benzema.

A brace from Benzema, plus a goal from Casemiro, ensured Madrid were firmly in control when 3-0 ahead at the break before a second-half fightback from the visitors.

Borja Mayoral, on loan at Levante from Madrid, pulled a goal back and the home team conceded again when Gonzalo Melero headed in from a corner, with Thibaut Courtois preserving their lead with a fine save in the closing minutes.

Hazard, who joined from Chelsea, was given a warm welcome when introduced on the hour, the Belgium forward having missed his new club's opening three games of the season with a muscle injury.

Eden Hazard has been named in a Real Madrid matchday squad for the first time since joining from Chelsea as Levante visit the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.

The Belgium international signed in a deal that could reportedly cost €140 million, but a thigh injury suffered in August proved an early disruption for the winger.

Coach Zinedine Zidane has stressed the need to go easy on Hazard following the injury, particularly as they head into a period that will see them play seven matches in 21 days.

But Hazard has been deemed fit enough to at least feature from the bench, as he takes a place among the substitutes against Levante.

Madrid have been particularly unlucky with injuries in recent months, leaving them with only three senior midfielders to play on Saturday; Toni Kroos, Casemiro and James Rodriguez, all of whom start.

New signing Alphonse Areola is on the bench following his arrival from Paris Saint-Germain, while 18-year-old Brazilian Rodrygo Goes is also among the substitutes for the first time in LaLiga.

Gareth Bale is missing through suspension after being sent off in the 2-2 draw with Villarreal before the international break.

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