Vicente del Bosque defended the standard of Spanish football after LaLiga clubs missed out on European success.

Both European finals will be played between English clubs, with Liverpool and Tottenham meeting in the Champions League and Chelsea facing Arsenal in the Europa League decider.

But former Spain and Real Madrid coach Del Bosque defended Spanish clubs, pointing to their recent record in Europe.

Madrid or Barcelona have won the past five Champions League titles, while Atletico Madrid or Sevilla have claimed four of the previous five Europa Leagues.

"Well, if you saw the last 20 years, the Spanish clubs have won 50 per cent of the Champions League titles," Del Bosque said on Tuesday.

"Also, we've had very good performances of Sevilla and Atletico, who win the Europa League.

"Villarreal, Deportivo La Coruna and others contributed to a great hegemony of Spanish football during the past two decades."

Raphael Varane has ended speculation over his future after insisting he will still be at Real Madrid next season.

Varane, 26, had been linked to the likes of Manchester United and Juventus after eight seasons with the LaLiga giants.

Like many of his team-mates, the France international has endured a difficult 2018-19, which resulted in Los Blancos finishing third in the table – a whopping 19 points behind champions Barcelona.

Varane, though, is adamant that he will remain at the Santiago Bernabeu as Zinedine Zidane looks to reverse the club's faltering fortunes.

"I'm going to stay here next year; I'm sure we're going to relive strong emotions,” Varane told Marca.

"We have fought, we have tried hard and we cannot blame anything in particular but it is true that we missed that spark in the difficult moments.

"In football you have cycles and last season I was not at my best level, but we will see the best Varane again.

"We have to evolve and Zinedine Zidane is clear about it: we have to rebuild, and we have to change things."

France head coach Didier Deschamps is happy to give Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba his opinion on their futures but has warned them to be sure they make the right choice for their careers.

Atletico Madrid striker Griezmann confirmed last week that he intends to leave the Wanda Metropolitano at the end of the season, despite only agreeing a new five-year contract last year.

Pogba, meanwhile, has been heavily linked with a move to LaLiga giants Real Madrid after a largely difficult season with Manchester United.

Deschamps – who has named both players in his squad for a friendly against Bolivia and subsequent Euro 2020 qualifiers against Turkey and Andorra next month – will give them his view but is keen for them not to come to regret their decisions.

"Players are making choices, I'm not there to advise them," he told a media conference.

"I'm here to give them my opinion, but it's about them. It depends on their career, people and family.

"Most of them ask for my opinion. They can use it or not; it's not my choice.

"What matters is that when they decide something important, they think it is the correct choice. But sometimes you think, 'yes it's a good choice to join that club' and then it's not. It's easy to say after the fact. It goes well or badly."

Despite criticism of Pogba's form towards the end of the campaign, he ended 2018-19 with 13 Premier League goals and a further nine assists – more than any of his United team-mates managed – and earned a place in the PFA Team of the Year.

Deschamps believes people are too quick to find faults in the 26-year-old's game and says he brings a lot more than just goals.

"I hope you're watching all his games in the Premier League," he added. "We see Paul when he scores and gives assists, but Paul is not just about that. With us, he scores fewer goals, but he was and still is very important.

"A season lasts 10 months and players can't be at their peak all the time. With France, he knows I'm asking him different things because we have a team, and he's doing it very well."

Gareth Bale has been included in a Wales training squad by Ryan Giggs amid speculation over his Real Madrid future.

Zinedine Zidane left Bale unused on the bench as Madrid ended their LaLiga season with a 2-0 home defeat against Real Betis on Sunday.

Bale has played a bit-part role since Zidane returned to the club and his time at the Santiago Bernabeu looks to be coming to an end.

Manchester United have long been linked with a move for Bale, whose agent Jonathan Barnett has said a Premier League return is possible.

Before a close-season break, Bale will link up with his international colleagues ahead of Euro 2020 qualifiers versus Croatia and Hungary.

Aaron Ramsey and Ethan Ampadu are unavailable due to injury, while Ben Davies and Ben Woodburn are absent due to their sides - Tottenham and Liverpool - preparing to play the Champions League final on June 1.

After spending six days at the training camp Giggs will confirm a squad to face Croatia and Hungary on May 29.

Drawn in Group E, Euro 2016 semi-finalists Wales made a winning start to their campaign with a home defeat of Slovakia in March.

Former Paris Saint-Germain head coach Unai Emery said Kylian Mbappe wanted to join Real Madrid before the French giants eventually persuaded the forward to stay.

Mbappe has been heavily linked with LaLiga side Madrid after the PSG star fuelled speculation over his future by hinting it could be time for a "new project".

Ligue 1 champions PSG dismissed Mbappe's comments, insisting the 20-year-old World Cup-winning sensation will remain in Paris.

However, Arsenal boss Emery revealed the desire Mbappe had to sign for Madrid during his time at PSG, which came to an end following the 2017-18 season.

"At some point, everyone pushed at PSG," Emery told Cadena SER. "I even talked to him and his father to stay.

"He wanted to choose Real Madrid, he also had a chance at Barcelona, but he wanted Madrid eyes closed.

"Among everybody we convinced him about the project in France and made him stay. We had to set money over the table, and that's what we did."

Mbappe joined PSG in a loan move from Monaco, which became permanent for a €180million fee, in August 2017.

Since then Mbappe has scored 59 goals in all competitions, netting 32 so far in Ligue 1 this season.

Emery, meanwhile, won seven titles – including the 2018 Ligue 1 trophy – in two years at PSG before he was replaced by Thomas Tuchel.

Toni Kroos does not believe he will have any problems keeping his place at Real Madrid even if Paul Pogba arrives at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Despite being linked with a move away from the club, Kroos signed a contract extension with Madrid until 2023 on Monday.

After finishing 19 points adrift of Barcelona in LaLiga and failing to win another trophy following their FIFA Club World Cup triumph in December, Zinedine Zidane is expected to overhaul the Madrid squad.

Manchester United midfielder Pogba has long since been viewed as a likely target for Madrid and has made no secret of his admiration for Los Blancos.

Madrid are also expected to make a push to sign Eden Hazard, while Kylian Mbappe's comments that he wants more responsibility either at Paris Saint-Germain or "elsewhere" have fuelled talk of a move for the World Cup winner.

Asked about what impact Pogba's potential arrival could have on his place in the Madrid engine room, Kroos told a media conference: "That doesn't change anything for me.

"I've fought for my place, played well, I don't think I'll have any problems to play.

"I don't know who's going to go, I don't know who's going to come. I've spoken to the manager, I know what his idea is. I'm going to be important, I can't say anything else.

"I don't know how many changes there are going to be. I've never had any doubts about my future. I want to be here always, and I've always said that."

On the subject of the speculation surrounding Mbappe, Kroos said: "I like Mbappe as a player but that question's not for me really. I can't buy him, I've got a good contract but I can't buy him. That's a question for the club."

Kroos has previously expressed a desire to end his career at Madrid and that seemingly remains his ambition, the Germany midfielder confident he can still produce his best for the length of his new contract.

"Many times, after the game against Ajax for example, I admitted that I wasn't at my level, I've got no problem to say that," said Kroos.

"I really want to improve how I played but before I played four years consistently well, this year I played worse than the four years before that's true. I'm still the same player, 29 years of age, and I still have three or four years at the top level I'm sure.

"The idea is to practically finish my career here, at age 38 I don't think I'll still be playing. The idea is this will be my last long contract here."

Toni Kroos insists Real Madrid's apparently underwhelming season was in fact "normal" in comparison to their three Champions League triumphs in succession. 

Though Madrid prevailed in the FIFA Club World Cup, Los Blancos claimed no other silverware in a campaign that saw brief reigns for Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari before Zinedine Zidane returned having left in the wake of last season's Champions League victory.

A 2-0 defeat to Real Betis on the final day of the season ensured Madrid finished 19 points behind champions Barcelona in LaLiga, having been knocked out in the last 16 of the Champions League by Ajax, while Barca dumped them out of the Copa del Rey in the semi-finals.

But Kroos signed a new deal on Monday and says he had no issues committing his future to the club despite their struggles this term. 

"For me this renewal is special for me, it's a good sign from the club, I've got a very special relationship with the club," said the Germany international, who committed to Madrid until 2023. 

"Since the first day the club have had a lot of confidence in me, I've helped the club to win a lot of titles. Together we're going to try to achieve a lot more success. If I had doubts about my future I wouldn't be here today.

"This year I don't think any player really reached their top level. When that happens in a lot of players it's difficult to have success. We're all human beings. This is probably normal after winning three successive Champions Leagues.

"What's not normal is winning three successive Champions Leagues. I thought that was impossible, but we did it. It's probably a bit normal to not be at the highest level.

"The club's going to change things, I'm happy to be here for another four years and I'm sure we're going to have success together.

"When I see the semi-finals of the Champions League, the English clubs gave everything to come to this final, there you could see how difficult it is to win three times in a row this competition.

"The only thing we can do is to prepare for the next season, then we'll see how it's going. I'm still happy here not only when we things, but I'm still happy to improve again and that's what we're going to do."

In contrast to the success he has enjoyed in the Champions League, Kroos has won LaLiga just once in his time at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Explaining their domestic difficulties, Kroos added: "We've lacked consistency in the league the last couple of years.

"In previous years we've been at maximum level when we've had to be at maximum level, to do that for 38 games is difficult, we have to improve a lot."

Real Madrid seem certain to spend heavily to boost Zinedine Zidane's squad and try to close the growing gap to LaLiga rivals Barcelona.

Zidane has indicated he will not be afraid to overhaul an ageing team that ended the campaign third, 19 points behind Barca, after a 2-0 home loss to Real Betis on Sunday.

Gareth Bale was an unused substitute against Betis, with his future seemingly certain to be away from the Santiago Bernabeu, while goalkeeper Keylor Navas is also expected to leave.

But how could Madrid's squad look ahead of the 2019-20 season? Omnisport takes a look at the likely arrivals and departures for Los Blancos.

IN: Eder Militao, Luka Jovic, Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba, Neymar, Eden Hazard?

Madrid have already sealed a deal for Porto centre-back Militao, boosting an increasingly leaky defence that shipped 46 league goals last term. Reports in Germany have claimed Jovic will soon follow, with the Serbia striker - previously linked with Barcelona - set to leave Eintracht Frankfurt despite only completing his permanent transfer from Benfica earlier this year.

Former coach Fabio Capello has said Madrid have €500million to spend, so Zidane can afford to be ambitious with his targets. Pogba has long been linked with the club and despite being Manchester United's top goalscorer in the Premier League this term, he could be allowed to leave.

Mbappe would be a classic Madrid 'Galactico' signing and he signalled he would be open to leaving Paris Saint-Germain when he collected both the Ligue 1 Best Player and Best Young Player of the Year prizes at the National Union of Professional Footballers' awards on Sunday. Mbappe would likely cost a world-record fee, with Neymar another top-tier player potentially on the move.

The former Barca attacker has reportedly failed to settle in the French capital and he could be Madrid's next superstar after last year's surprise sale of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus, but Madrid's long-term interest in Eden Hazard - who has a year left on his Chelsea contract - may scupper a potential deal for the Brazil star.

Even with a vast amount of cash to splash, it is hard to see Madrid bringing in four new attackers in Hazard, Jovic, Mbappe and Neymar, while PSG - regardless of doubts over their financial situation - would surely not allow both of their forwards to leave in the same transfer window.


OUT: Gareth Bale, Keylor Navas, Isco, Marcelo, Raphael Varane, Luka Modric?

The level of spending at Madrid during the close-season will partly depend on who they can sell, with Bale a prime candidate to be moved on. Zidane's lack of trust in the Wales forward is no secret, even though Bale scored twice in last year's Champions League final defeat of Liverpool in Kiev. Bale cost what was then a world record £85m when he joined from Tottenham but his huge wages, coupled with a short list of potential suitors, could be a problem. Reports in Spain have indicated Bale is willing to see out the remaining three years of his contract.

Another key member of the Madrid team that won three Champions League titles in a row in Zidane's first spell, goalkeeper Navas is expected to be sold after last year's arrival of Thibaut Courtois, with the current boss said to be keen to make son Luca his number two option with the gloves.

Isco seemed certain to depart when he was out of favour before Santiago Solari's sacking, while Marcelo could also be allowed to leave due to the breakthrough season enjoyed by left-back Sergio Reguilon. But Toni Kroos is staying put after signing a new four-year deal with the club. PSG were linked with a treble swoop for Kroos, Isco and Bale, so the latter two players could be used as potential makeweights in a deal for either Mbappe or Neymar.

At the back, Zidane has said Raphael Varane will stay but with Juventus reported to be interested in the World Cup winner, a big offer could tempt Madrid to sell. Ballon d'Or winner Luka Modric, meanwhile, was previously linked with Inter and had a poor second half of the season.

 

@realmadrid #TeamVarane pic.twitter.com/YiwSQlq8tp

— Raphaël Varane (@raphaelvarane) May 17, 2019

POTENTIAL MADRID XI FOR 2019-20

Thibaut Courtois; Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Eder Militao, Marcelo; Toni Kroos, Casemiro, Paul Pogba; Kylian Mbappe, Luka Jovic, Eden Hazard.

The possibility of Gareth Bale remaining at Real Madrid is "impossible" because of his relationship with Zinedine Zidane, according to the club's former president Ramon Calderon.

Bale was an unused substitute as Madrid wrapped up a poor LaLiga campaign with a 2-0 loss at home to Real Betis on Sunday.

The Wales forward scored a brace to help deliver Zidane's third consecutive Champions League title at Madrid a year ago, but his days at the club now look numbered.

Calderon indicated Zidane would have preferred to have sold Bale rather than Cristiano Ronaldo, a club decision widely reported to be central to the Frenchman's shock resignation after they beat Liverpool in the Champions League final in Kiev.

Bale has played a bit-part role since Zidane's return in March and Calderon feels it is inevitable the 29-year-old will now depart.

"Zidane is not keen on him; it is a relationship that will come to an end," Calderon told BBC Sport.

"It seems it was his last game for Real Madrid. Zidane, last year when he left, he thought it was imperative to keep Ronaldo and to sell Bale, and they decided not to do that.

"It seems it is impossible for him to be here... because of the coach and the relationship with the fans. They think he is not committed and that is a problem.

"The best thing for him is to move. He should take the opportunity if there is one."

 

Bale's possible destinations are limited by his high wages, however, with Calderon predicting Madrid will have to take a financial hit on a player they bought for what was then a world-record £85million in 2013.

"Maybe he will go on loan," Calderon added. "It is a problem when the coach and player do not get along, you have to look at every option to find a solution.

"The problem is the salary is a high salary. He has not been lucky at Madrid since the beginning. Fans thought for the money he would be better than Cristiano and that was really impossible.

"It is a divorce that is difficult to solve. They will find a loan or a transfer for perhaps a low amount of money."

Madrid are likely to be linked with a move for Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe after he hinted he was considering leaving the Ligue 1 champions on Sunday.

Toni Kroos has agreed to extend his contract with Real Madrid to 2023, the LaLiga club have confirmed.

The midfielder's future at Madrid had been in doubt with head coach Zinedine Zidane last month refusing to confirm the Germany international would stay amid an expected squad overhaul.

But Kroos hit out at reports in the Spanish press that said he was seeking a move away, describing the news as "absolutely false information" on Twitter.

And the 29-year-old, who joined from Bayern Munich in 2014, has now agreed a new four-year contract that will keep him at the club until 2023. His previous deal was due to expire in 2022.

Kroos has appeared in 28 LaLiga games this season and was a key part of the side that won three consecutive Champions League titles in Zidane's first spell at the Santiago Bernabeu.

He also helped Germany to clinch the World Cup in 2014 and has won four league titles and five Club World Cups across his career to date.

Madrid wrapped up their underwhelming LaLiga campaign with a 2-0 loss at home to Real Betis on Sunday.

It is expected to be a close-season of upheaval in the Spanish capital as Madrid look to improve after finishing third in the league, 19 points behind rivals Barcelona, who retained their title.

Long-serving goalkeeper Keylor Navas will go, Marcelo and Isco could follow while the future of Gareth Bale remains uncertain.

Porto defender Eder Militao has already agreed to join ahead of the 2019-20 season while reports in Germany have claimed a deal for Eintracht Frankfurt striker Luka Jovic is close.

Paul Pogba and Neymar are among the names linked with Madrid while Kylian Mbappe's shock announcement he could leave Paris Saint-Germain may place him in Zidane's sights.

Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe sensationally hinted at a move away from the French champions on Sunday. 

Mbappe has been linked with a blockbuster transfer to LaLiga giants Real Madrid, though the 20-year-old France international reassured fans last month that he would stay in Paris.

However, Mbappe cast doubt over his future after being crowned Ligue 1's Best Player and Best Young Player of the Year.

"This was the only title that I was missing. I am truly very happy," Mbappe – who has scored 32 Ligue 1 goals this season – said as he received the award.

"I want to thank all of the people who put together this league. I succeeded in adapting in my first year, to change position this year.

"There were some disappointments, but that is part of football. This is a very important moment for me.

"I am arriving at the second turning point in my career. I have discovered an enormous amount of things here.

"It is maybe the moment to have more responsibilities, maybe at PSG, with pleasure, or elsewhere for a new project. In any case, thanks everyone."

Mbappe, who has won back-to-back Ligue 1 titles since arriving from Monaco, later added: "I said what I had to say. When you are in such an occasion you can send messages, I think I have sent mine.

"If I speak more it will be too much and that is not the message I wish to send."

World Cup winner Mbappe's two-goal haul in Saturday's 4-0 rout of Dijon saw him become the first Frenchman to score 32 league goals in a Ligue 1 season since Philippe Gondet did so for Nantes in 1965-66.

In total, Mbappe has netted 38 goals across all competitions for PSG – who were remarkably eliminated by Manchester United in the Champions League last 16.

Zinedine Zidane conceded Gareth Bale and Keylor Navas face uncertain futures at Real Madrid as he vowed to improve upon a dismal season following a 2-0 home loss to Real Betis.

Sunday's match was billed as a final farewell for a handful of players as Madrid prepare for an end-of-season clear out.

Goalkeeper Navas was given the full 90 minutes against Betis, but Bale was an unused substitute on his return to the squad following a two-match absence.

And Zidane admits he will not hold back when it comes to offloading players, regardless of their status.

"We will see [if Bale continues]. I don't know what will happen, truthfully," he said at his post-match news conference. "I have counted on other players lately, that is clear for my part. If I had another change today, the same would have happened.

"I have to look at the day to day, and make decisions. And when there is something I do not like, or does not fit for me, I must do what I think best. It might be difficult for the player, who has won a lot here, but the day to day is the day to day.

"I am the coach that I am, with my ideas, and that will not change. The only thing for us is that we want to change things in the squad, and we will do that.

"I don't know what will happen, I am repeating myself, sorry, but I don't know. Keylor played well today, the fans were happy, that's all. Next year, we will see when we come back here."

Following the disappointing short tenures of Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari, Madrid reappointed Zidane in March just 10 months after he stepped down.

But despite the three-time Champions League-winning coach's return to the Santiago Bernabeu, he could not inspire a turnaround in results.

The final-day defeat to Betis leaves Zidane with a record of five wins, two draws and four losses in 11 games in his second spell in charge, and the Frenchman admits he has to accept part of the blame.

"We have no excuses. After many games we had to apologise as we have responsibility to at least give everything," he added. "It has been difficult from the start of the season, and the end with me, that is the reality.

"The best thing that can happen for us is to have it over now and to think about next year as this will change, for sure.

"I always say the same - we must accept when things go bad. I am responsible for this. We had 11 games and in the end that is what it is."

Madrid's final tally of 68 points is their lowest in LaLiga since 2001-02 and they also fell short in the Champions League and Copa del Rey.

"It is not the first bad year in the history of this club," Zidane said. "And after the bad, comes the good. But we must not forget this season, we must have it very present to prepare the next one.

"We must think now about next year, and exciting our fans again. We are going to prepare the pre-season very well. We will not say that we will win everything next year, but we will compete from the first moment, and be up there battling with the others."

Second-half goals from Loren Moron and ex-Madrid man Jese were enough for Betis to claim back-to-back wins at the Bernabeu, giving Quique Setien the perfect send-off as his departure was announced after the game.

Long-serving defender Marcelo concedes he and his team-mates must shoulder the blame for Real Madrid's "tough" campaign.

Madrid concluded their 2018-19 season with a 2-0 loss at home to Real Betis on Sunday, leaving them with a final points tally of 68 in LaLiga - their lowest return since 2001-02.

The Spanish giants also exited the Champions League at the last-16 stage with defeat to Ajax and were beaten by bitter rivals Barcelona in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey.

And Marcelo, who lost his place in the side to Sergio Reguilon prior to Zidane's reappointment, admits the entire squad should accept responsibility for what has happened over the past nine months.

"We are the guilty ones," he said after the match. "We started the season badly and we've ended the season badly. It has been a tough year, even tougher on a personal level.

"The next season will soon start and we can't make the same mistakes."

Defeat to Betis was Madrid's third in four matches to see out the campaign, and their first on home soil in Zidane's second spell at the Santiago Bernabeu.

 

Real Madrid ended a difficult campaign with another embarrassing defeat as they lost 2-0 against Real Betis at the Santiago Bernabeu in Sunday's LaLiga clash.

Zinedine Zidane continued with his rotation policy by changing half of his squad from the 3-1 loss at Real Sociedad last week, but his side produced another underwhelming display.

Following a first half that saw them rely on Keylor Navas to keep them level, Madrid fell behind after the hour to a Loren Moron strike and their former player Jese added a second 15 minutes from time. 

In what was billed as a possible farewell for a number of players ahead of a period of rebuilding, the home players were heavily jeered as they closed out a season with another new low and Gareth Bale languished as an unused substitute.

The game had a scrappy feel to it and it took 28 minutes for the first serious shot to arrive, with Navas tipping Marc Bartra's curler over the crossbar.

Karim Benzema squandered Madrid's best opportunity of the first half as he picked out the post from 14 yards - the sixth time he has hit the woodwork this term.

And that miss almost proved instantly costly as a backpedalling Navas was forced to deal with Giovani Lo Celso's chip.

Betis were given a let off just before the hour mark when Vinicius Junior's shot was smothered by Pau Lopez at his near post, but it was the visitors who took the lead four minutes later through Moron.

Andres Guardado was given plenty of space down the left and picked out Moron at the back post for a first-time finish into the roof of the net, before Jese steered home a second after being teed up by Junior.

 

 

Bale the bystander

Bale is another one of those facing an uncertain future at the Bernabeu. He returned to the squad today after a two-game absence but Zidane's decision not to use him felt instructive. An instrumental part of Madrid's trophy-laden first spell under the Frenchman, it is clear that the Bale no longer has a part to play in the Spanish capital.

What's next?

With this disappointing campaign now finally over, Madrid have a couple of months to strengthen their squad before reconvening for pre-season training. Betis, meanwhile, take on Major League Soccer side DC United in a post-season friendly at Audi Field next week.

Gareth Bale will be in the Real Madrid squad to face Real Betis on the final day of LaLiga, Zidedine Zidane revealed, but Los Blancos' head coach made no guarantees about giving the Wales international what could be his final appearance for the club.

With speculation over Bale's future rife at the end of his worst season at Santiago Bernabeu, Zidane remained tight-lipped over the 29-year-old's future but admitted there would be comings and goings to revamp a squad that failed to mount a serious title challenge.

Bale was not involved as Madrid slipped to a 3-1 defeat at Real Sociedad last weekend, nor the 3-2 victory over Villarreal on May 5, with his most recent appearance coming in a 1-0 defat at Rayo Vallecano on April 28.

"He will be in the squad and that's the only thing I can tell you," Zidane told a news conference ahead of Sunday's home clash with Betis.

"I can't tell you anything else. It's the end of the season and there will be changes, but I don't know what's going to happen.

"I don't know whether it is his final game. We'll see."

Zidane was asked about the possibility of Antoine Griezmann switching allegiances after the France star announced he will be leaving Atletico Madrid at the end of the season.

Barcelona are thought to be frontrunners in the race to sign the World Cup-winning forward, but Zidane did not rule out the possibility of a move for Griezmann - despite transfers between Atletico and Real being historically very rare.

"It is not something we have to discuss," said Zidane.

"You have to ask the player what he says. He's decided he's leaving, so you should ask him where he's going to go.

"In football, anything can happen at any time. Players can go from one side to the other. But I'm not going to get into that at the moment."

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