Ronald Koeman explained why Barcelona need to change from their traditional 4-3-3 formation after enjoying a winning start as head coach.

The Blaugrana beat Gimnastic 3-1 in a friendly match at Estadi Johan Cruyff on Saturday, their first outing since Koeman took over from Quique Setien.

With Lionel Messi captaining the team for the first time since announcing he will stay at the club, Barca scored through Ousmane Dembele and a penalty each from Antoine Griezmann and Philippe Coutinho, with Javier Bonilla getting a goal for the Segunda B side.

Koeman changed all 11 players at half-time but stuck with a 4-2-3-1 set-up, a system he appears likely to keep for the start of the LaLiga season.

Explaining that decision, the former Netherlands boss told Barca TV: "The midfield system is a little different to previous seasons but the team has the quality to do that and do it well.

"We're looking to move the ball much quicker high up the pitch to break the lines [of the opposition], to create space and generate more dangerous [situations] so the team scores goals.

"It was our first match in pre-season and that is why everyone only played 45 minutes. They need to build rhythm and play with intensity. It was a little better in the second half than the first. Not picking up any injuries was also very important as we looked to set the tempo in the match. That was more important than the final result.

"All the boys did well and we saw some who hadn't played before. There are always things which can be improved upon but, in general, we are very happy with how the players did after just two weeks of training.

"It isn't a normal six-week pre-season. We've only got four weeks and some even less because they've gone away with their national teams or been injured.

"It's important to integrate everyone. It's complicated because all we want is to build up fitness and over the next two weeks add a more tactical side ahead of a complicated league season."

Barca's next friendly match is against Girona on Wednesday.

Harry Maguire will remain Manchester United captain for the coming season despite his legal case in Greece, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said.

Maguire was found guilty of aggravated assault, resisting arrest, and repeated attempts at bribery at a misdemeanours court in Syros last month.

The 27-year-old, who denied all charges against him, was tried alongside two other defendants after an alleged incident involving police while he was on holiday on the nearby island of Mykonos.

Maguire's legal representatives lodged an appeal, meaning the court's initial verdict was nullified and a full retrial will now take place at a more senior court.

The England international, who was dropped from Gareth Southgate's Nations League squad after the guilty verdict, told the BBC he feared for his life during an apparent altercation with plain-clothed officers, saying: "I thought there was no chance these were police."

"The retrial will give us more time to prepare, gather the evidence, allow witnesses into the court. I'm really confident that the truth will be told and come out," he said.

Speaking ahead of United's pre-season friendly with Aston Villa on Saturday, Solskjaer confirmed he is standing by his skipper.

"Of course, Harry, as you said, had a difficult summer," the United manager told MUTV. "He didn't have a long break. His break was different to others as we gave him a few more days and, after, he's come back and looked fine.

"He's handled it really well and, of course, I'll be here to support him. He is going to be our captain. We'll just leave Harry and his people and the process to run.

"For me, he is a top, an absolute top human being and has always been a positive guy with the right values. So I really hope we can see Harry performing at his best."

The game with Villa will be United's first since they signed Donny van de Beek from Ajax for a fee that could rise to £39.1million (€44m) - their only transfer of the window to date.

Solskjaer has been delighted with the midfielder's first few days of training and made it clear United are still scouring the market for potential deals, although the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has made spending difficult for most clubs.

"He's been training only a couple of days but he's a bright, bubbly character," Solskjaer said. "He wants to learn and the first few signs are positive, not that I doubted that one because I've followed him for a few years, of course.

"He's been a talented youngster and now we felt he was ready to come here. He felt it was the best place to come so, for us, it's a good transfer.

"It's been a strange time and a strange world. Financially, I'm sure loads of clubs have suffered. It looks like it as there has not been a lot of activity in the window.

"We're always looking to improve the squad, scouting players and, if something fits, both the financial bit and the football bit, of course we'll try to make some business. But we can't know how the markets and how other clubs have been affected either."

Lionel Messi is in the Barcelona squad for Saturday's friendly with Gimnastic, but Luis Suarez and Arturo Vidal will not be involved.

Captain Messi is in line to appear in Ronald Koeman's first match in charge despite having tried to engineer a move away from Barca in the past month.

The Argentina star decided to stay at Camp Nou for the final season of his deal rather than threaten Barca with a lawsuit, having tried unsuccessfully to argue that the clause allowing him to terminate his contract was still valid.

Messi felt he was able to make use of that clause because the 2019-20 season was extended by the coronavirus pandemic, but Barca and LaLiga insisted the timeframe in which he would have had to activate it had elapsed.

While Messi is now committed to the club for at least another year, the futures of Vidal and Suarez are far less certain.

Suarez is reported to have been told by Koeman on the phone that he can leave, although AS claim the new Barca coach also made it clear that selling the striker was not his decision.

The Uruguay international has been heavily linked with Juventus, who have allowed Gonzalo Higuain to leave ahead of an expected move to Inter Miami.

Vidal, meanwhile, has been tipped to join Inter to reunite with former Juve boss Antonio Conte.

Barca face Gimnastic at Estadi Johan Cruyff on Saturday in the first of their pre-season fixtures, before playing Girona next Wednesday.

Philippe Coutinho is in the squad, having returned from a loan spell with Bayern Munich, while Francisco Trincao and Pedri could make their first appearances for the club.

They are due to begin their LaLiga season against Villarreal in 15 days' time.

Jurgen Klopp is hopeful Takumi Minamino can carry his pre-season form into the new campaign after starring for Liverpool in their 7-2 friendly win over Blackpool.

The January signing from Salzburg netted in last week's Community Shield defeat to Arsenal and was on target again at Bloomfield Road on Saturday.

Minamino started just behind Roberto Firmino in a 4-2-3-1 formation and set up the Brazilian for Liverpool's third goal as they recovered from two goals down.

And Klopp is glad to see the Japan forward find his feet at Liverpool ahead of next week's Premier League opener at home to Leeds United.

"I hope [he takes confidence from this]," Klopp told the club's official website. "It's clear that's what you always hope for. 

"It's important for Taki and important for us, but it's about all together, so I think about the overall performance. Individuals then can always shine when everything else works, that's how it is. 

"If you only have these individual glimpses here and there, it doesn't really work out. So, we have to work to win football games. 

"Who scores then is not too important. But for Taki, of course it was a rather nice seven or eight days - of course."

Liverpool found themselves two goals down against the League One club with 33 minutes played and Klopp admitted he was not pleased with his side's first-half display.

"It was because of a lack of aggression from our side, a lack of desire a little bit for this game - that's how it is, playing around," he said.

"The goals we conceded, yeah, that's mistakes - it's typical for pre-season games. But so far I think we conceded pretty much all the goals in similar situations; losing the ball in the build-up, then it's a counter-attack, it's a free chance pretty much. 

"We know that and it's clear we cannot do it like this. We have to improve that. But we have another week to get the legs fresher, again an intense week. We have to use the weeks, we cannot change that. 

"I would love to have always fresh boys with super fresh legs in the games, but that only can work over the year when you do the hard work in the pre-season. 

"That's what we are doing. We scored a good goal after a nice set-piece in the first half, then all the rest was pretty much like it should be [in the second half] - much more aggressive and we could bring in other fresh legs. That helped obviously."

Six of Liverpool's goals came in the second half, with teenage winger Harvey Elliott among the goalscorers.

Fulham academy player Elliott started eight games in all competitions last season and Klopp is expecting big things from the versatile youngster.

"It's in his hands. I liked much more the offers he made today - he was really sharp, quick, he offered different runs to what he is usually doing," Klopp said.

"Inside this little boy is a playmaker, he can be a playmaker, but he has to be a finisher as well. You have to be a striker, you have to be a defender and all that stuff. 

"That's what we are all trying to figure out to bring it on the pitch - and that's good, of course. It was very nice for him to score this goal today."

Timo Werner made a dream start to his Chelsea career by scoring inside four minutes in a friendly against Brighton and Hove Albion.

Bought from RB Leipzig in a deal worth a reported £47.5million, Werner combined with fellow new recruit Hakim Ziyech at the Amex Stadium on Saturday.

Former Ajax man Ziyech swung across a left-footed delivery from the right, and although Callum Hudson-Odoi could not convert, Werner seized his opportunity.

The ball fell kindly to the player who scored 28 times in 34 Bundesliga games last season, finishing second to Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski in the goal stakes.

Werner buried the chance, showing the clinical talent he looks set to bring to Frank Lampard's team in the 2020-21 Premier League season.

Paris Saint-Germain crushed Le Havre 9-0 in a friendly as France allowed supporters back into football stadiums for the first time since lockdown. 

The occasion was described as "a victory for French football" by sports minister Roxana Maracineanu, who was among the crowd of close to 5,000 at Le Havre's Stade Oceane. 

France suspended football in March due to the coronavirus pandemic and called an early halt to league competitions in April, declaring PSG champions of Ligue 1 as final positions were calculated on a points-per-game basis. 

PSG have a pair of domestic cup finals still to play, however, and remain in the Champions League, which resumes in August. 

They have been eager for the opportunity to get back into action, and it was all too easy against Le Havre, with Neymar, Mauro Icardi and Pablo Sarabia each scoring twice and Kylian Mbappe, Arnaud Kalimuendo and Idrissa Gueye also netting. 

The scoring was complete by the hour mark, with both sides having made wholesale changes for the second half as they made full use of their squads.

France has taken a structured and gradual step to reach the stage where supporters have been allowed back, and the limit of 5,000 fans at games could continue for some time to come. Competitive football in Germany, England, Spain and Italy has all been played behind closed doors since resuming. 

The government's position may mean PSG's Coupe de France final against Saint-Etienne on July 24 and the Coupe de la Ligue final against Lyon seven days later are watched by only small crowds inside the cavernous Stade de France. 

Restrictions could yet be eased before those games given the 81,000 capacity of the national stadium would allow more to be present and socially distancing, although Maracineanu has expressed caution for now. 

Maracineanu, a former Olympic swimmer, said of the return of spectators: "It is a victory for French football, for sport in France to be able to resume today in mid-July with the public." 

She added, quoted on the L'Equipe website: "Today, we can finally start to have teams meeting again to prepare for big deadlines. I am delighted that sport in France, that football in France, can resume in France in a popular way. We are the only country in Europe that can do this." 

In a separate tweet, Maracineanu wrote: "What a pleasure to see football back with supporters at Le Havre. 5000 people max for the moment but it's a progressive return to normal life for players and supporters."

Chelsea thrashed QPR 7-1 in a friendly match on Sunday, with midfielders Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Billy Gilmour each scoring twice.

Further goals from Mason Mount, Willian and Olivier Giroud helped Frank Lampard's side to an emphatic win at Stamford Bridge as preparations for the Premier League's return continue.

Loftus-Cheek has not made a senior competitive appearance for Chelsea since last season due to a ruptured Achilles sustained last May.

N'Golo Kante started the match against the Championship side, the France star having only resumed team training this week.

Chelsea's win came after a 1-0 defeat of Reading at their Cobham training base in a previous behind-closed-doors friendly.

The Blues are due to resume their league campaign next Sunday against Aston Villa at Villa Park.

Lampard's men were fourth in the table when the competition was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Inter will contest the European Solidarity Cup in 2021 with the aim of raising money for healthcare resources in Italy and Spain in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Spain and Italy have been two of the hardest-hit European nations during the COVID-19 outbreak, recording 27,709 and 32,007 deaths, respectively.

Everyday life – including sport – has seen massive changes across both countries over the past two months, with lockdown measures only recently beginning to be eased.

The three European giants will play matches next year to determine the winner of the European Solidary Cup, but the main purpose will be to aid the purchasing of healthcare supplies and express gratitude to medical professionals for their work during the pandemic.

The matches will be played across each of the three cities, with the tournament announced for 2021 in the hope fans will once again be able to attend.

A statement released by Los Blancos read: "Real Madrid are set to team up with Bayern Munich and Inter to host the European Solidarity Cup in 2021. The three clubs will come together to send out a message of solidarity and fraternity to the people of Europe.

"The solidarity event will see three football matches held during 2021 in the cities of Madrid, Munich and Milan. The dates for these games will depend on the competitive calendar and of course will take place when the fans are able to return to the stands.

"The three teams will all come up against each other: Madrid vs Inter will happen in Madrid, Inter vs Bayern is set for Milan and Bayern vs Madrid will be held in Munich. The proceeds from these games will go towards the purchase of healthcare resources in Italy and Spain.

"Healthcare staff who continue to fight the pandemic will be represented at all of the games. The three clubs wish to demonstrate to these heroes all of our solidarity, respect and gratitude."

Bayern resumed their 2019-20 Bundesliga campaign on Sunday with a 2-0 win over Union Berlin.

LaLiga and Serie A are not expected to recommence until next month at the earliest, however.

Sean Maguire pulled the strings as the Republic of Ireland beat New Zealand 3-1 in their Dublin friendly.

The Preston North End forward scored the goal of the game and was the home team's most lively performer, with Blackburn Rovers' Derrick Williams and Sheffield United's Callum Robinson also netting for Mick McCarthy's side.

For all three scorers, the goals were their first at international level.

Youngster Callum McCowatt had given New Zealand a lead on the half-hour mark and he caught the eye more than Burnley's Chris Wood, before the All Whites ran out of steam.

Thursday's clash was a warm-up, ostensibly, for the Republic before a crucial Euro 2020 qualifier against Denmark, but it was a fringe team selected by McCarthy.

The home side had the first clear chance but left-back Williams could only produce a shot-cum-clearance from 12 yards after Alan Browne's cross.

New Zealand – appearing after a 525-day absence from the senior international stage – broke through when the hosts' backline was picked apart and McCowatt slid home a fine cross from the left by Liberato Cacace.

It made for a promising start to the reign of new head coach Danny Hay, the former Leeds United and New Zealand defender who in August succeeded Fritz Schmid in the post.

However, Ireland ultimately overpowered their visitors. Williams surpassed his earlier wayward effort on the stroke of half-time, heading in Robbie Brady's corner for an equaliser.

New Zealand captain Winston Reid was substituted at half-time, the West Ham defender having made his first senior appearance since March 2018 after a knee injury.

Ireland went in front after 52 minutes when Maguire cracked a 20-yard strike into the top-right corner, and he created a string of chances for others.

Robinson grabbed the Republic's third in the 75th minute, meeting Lee O'Connor's fine cross from the right with a stooping header from eight yards.

 

What does it mean?

Not even McCarthy was seriously looking for a statement performance to send out a warning to Denmark. The XI that faces the Danes will be pretty much unrecognisable, as McCarthy has already acknowledged. This game afforded the kids a chance, seeing who might become contenders for a tournament Ireland might not even reach. For New Zealand, a new dawn under Hay means dreams of reaching the Qatar 2022 World Cup finals. The more games they play, the better. Just what have they been doing for the last year and a half?

Maguire stakes a claim

On a chilly night in Dublin, Maguire was a livewire on the right side of Ireland's front three. He may be the big beneficiary of this friendly, a player that could come in and make things happen for the Irish back at their home stadium on Monday.

Voting with their feet

The Irish public made it clear what they thought of this game. The stands were half empty, being generous, for what was a glorified training game. It will be a different story on Monday.

What's next?

Beat Denmark next week and the Republic will be through to the Euro 2020 finals. New Zealand will not face another near 18-month wait for a fixture, with their next game coming up on Sunday against Lithuania.

Barcelona claimed a 2-0 win at third-tier side Cartagena on Wednesday in a match raising money for those affected by flooding in Murcia earlier this year.

A year's worth of rain fell in 24 hours back in September, causing significant damage to farmland, properties and facilities in the south-eastern region.

The charity fundraiser was well attended for the visit of Barca, who named a strong starting XI that included Neto, Gerard Pique, Sergi Roberto, Junior Firpo and Ousmane Dembele.

Former Spain international Pique was withdrawn with the game still level in the 37th minute, while Dembele followed at half-time.

Despite the presence of first-team regulars, it was highly rated 20-year-old midfielder Riqui Puig who caught the eye most, impressing with his vision, close control and positive approach. 

Puig played a role in the opening goal just past the hour, prodding the ball to Carles Perez on the edge of the box after being crowded out and the forward lashed home.

Alejandro Marques wrapped things up late on, turning home Sergio Akieme's low cross.

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