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$115m Deal: Real Madrid squad ‘complete’ even without Mbappé – Ancelotti

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Carlo Ancelotti said that his Real Madrid squad is already “complete” — even without the addition of Kylian Mbappé — after their 2-0 friendly win over Manchester United in Houston on Wednesday.

Madrid’s €103 million ($115m) new arrival Jude Bellingham opened the scoring early at the AT&T Stadium with a cool finish, before another summer signing Joselu added a second with a spectacular overhead kick.

Ancelotti has repeatedly said that he is happy with his squad, despite the departure of long-term No. 9 Karim Benzema, and ongoing links with Mbappé, frozen out by Paris Saint-Germain as the row over his future continues.

“The squad is fine,” Ancelotti said on Wednesday. “We won’t have problems with the squad. A problem would be having a squad without quality … The squad is great. It’s complete.”

When asked specifically about Mbappé, the Italian responded with a blunt “Next question.”

The victory over United means Madrid have won both of their preseason U.S. friendlies so far, after a 3-2 comeback win over AC Milan at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California on Sunday.

The LaLiga giants have added Bellingham, Joselu, Arda Guler, Fran Garcia and Brahim Diaz to their squad this summer.

“Bellingham’s [goal] shows the quality he has,” Ancelotti said. “He times his runs from deep well. [Antonio] Rudiger gave him a fantastic pass and he scored. And Joselu’s is a goal that you don’t see often.”

Mbappé is training with PSG’s reserves after being left out of their tour of Japan, with the French club looking to put pressure on the forward to either extend his contract beyond next summer, or move now, rather than leaving on a free transfer.

With Joselu the only natural centre forward in the Madrid squad for now, Ancelotti has been trialling a new 4-4-2 formation with a front two of Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo Goes.

“It’s going well,” he said. “I think Vinicius is adapting. He likes playing inside a bit more… Rodrygo and Vinicius are very dangerous with the ball. We can be more direct in transitions, and Bellingham’s quality helps with that.”

Madrid will play Barcelona in Arlington, Texas today, and then Juventus in Orlando, Florida on August 2, before flying back from the U.S. ahead of the new LaLiga season.

Barcelona midfielder Ilkay Gündogan said that though he understood that the final decision was up to Mbappé, he would welcome the competition.

“Wherever he is gonna be I think to play against him is a joy,” Gündogan told ESPN. “You know that to face these kinds of players, you have to be at your best to beat them. So It is just about the competition.

“This is a decision that he personally has to make. But I am sure there are Clásicos that we are going to play that they all will be, in terms of intensity and quality, they will all be amazing to watch, so I can’t wait.”

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European Leagues

Europa League leading scorers ahead of semi-final fixtures

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Marseille’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the leading scorer in this season’s UEFA Europa League ahead of the semi-final fixtures in May

Marseille’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the leading scorer in this season’s UEFA Europa League ahead of the semi-final fixtures in May.

The former Arsenal captain is ahead of Roma’s Romelu Lukaku and Brighton’s João Pedro on the goal chart.

The Gabonese has ten goals to his name so far.

UEFA Europa League top scorers ahead of semi-final fixtures:

10 goals – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Marseille)

7 goals – Romelu Lukaku (Roma)

6 goals – João Pedro (Brighton)

5 goals – Victor Boniface (Leverkusen), Michael Gregoritsch (Freiburg), Viktor Gyökeres (Sporting CP), Fotis Ioannidis (Panathinaikos), Juninho (Qarabağ), Mohammed Kudus (West Ham), Darwin Núñez (Liverpool), Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), Gianluca Scamacca (Atalanta) and Patrik Schick (Leverkusen).

Meanwhile, Marseille will face Atalanta in the semi-final stage, while Bayer Leverkusen will tackle AS Roma.

 

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European Leagues

Liverpool defeat Atalanta 1-0 but crash out of Europa League on aggregate

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Liverpool were knocked out of the Europa League by Atalanta with the Italian side reaching the semi-finals 3-1 on aggregate on Thursday.

Liverpool were knocked out of the Europa League by Atalanta with the Italian side reaching the semi-finals 3-1 on aggregate on Thursday.

Atalanta are in the last four of a European competition for the first time since 1988, despite Mohamed Salah’s early penalty giving Liverpool a 1-0 second leg win, thanks to their three-goal lead established in the quarter-final first leg at Anfield last week.

In what is becoming a sobering climax to the season, Liverpool have won just three of their last nine games in all competitions and again looked tired after already having played 52 games this campaign.

Jurgen Klopp may well only have the League Cup to show for his final season on Merseyside as the German’s team have been eliminated from the FA Cup and Europa League and trail Manchester City in the Premier League title race.

Gian Piero Gasperini called Thursday’s match probably the most important Atalanta had ever played and his players were hailed as heroes at the final whistle by a pulsating crowd at the Gewiss Stadium in Bergamo.

Fireworks were shot into the air from behind the stands while in the ground supporters bounced and roared at a huge victory for their team against giants of European football.

Atalanta last reached the semi-finals of a European competition in 1988 when they were knocked out of the old Cup Winners’ Cup by Mechelen.

Atalanta were then a Serie B team but the future is increasingly bright for a historically small, provincial club which has been punching well above its weight ever since Gasperini took charge in 2016.

Reaching the last four even trumps their run to 2020 Champions League quarter-finals, where they were desperately unlucky to lose to Paris Saint-Germain.

That run came at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, as Bergamo became the epicentre of a deadly global health crisis.

And Atalanta still have the opportunity to crown Gasperini’s reign with the club’s first major trophy since the Italian Cup in 1963.

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European Leagues

Bayer Leverkusen qualify for Europa League semis after edging West Ham

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Newly-crowned Bundesliga champions Bayer Leverkusen reached the Europa League semi-finals on Thursday and stretched their undefeated

Newly-crowned Bundesliga champions Bayer Leverkusen reached the Europa League semi-finals on Thursday and stretched their undefeated run in all competitions this season to 44 matches.

The German side drew 1-1 at West Ham in the second leg of their quarter-final tie and went through 3-1 on aggregate.

Michail Antonio put West Ham ahead on 13 minutes before Jeremie Frimpong levelled in the 89th minute for Xabi Alonso’s side.

Bayer Leverkusen will face Roma for a place in the final.

“I think we felt it in the first half, for me, it was a typical English crowd. They were pushing West Ham unbelievably. We were lucky in the first half if we’re honest,” Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Granit Xhaka told TNT Sports.

“It was a different phase in the second half, we controlled the game. We are happy we got through.

“We competed much more. If you see over 180 minutes, the better team go through.”

Last weekend, Bayer Leverkusen won the Bundesliga for the first time, ending Bayern Munich’s 11-year grip on the title.

They remain in contention for a treble trophy haul this season as they also face second-division Kaiserslautern in the German Cup final on May 25.

 

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