Barcelona beaten by Valencia in early blow for Setien

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi in action against Valencia’s Francis Coquelin during their La Liga match in Valencia on Saturday. (Reuters)
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Updated 26 January 2020

Barcelona beaten by Valencia in early blow for Setien

  • Uruguayan striker Maxi Gomez misses a penalty, hits the crossbar in the first half

VALENCIA: Quique Setien’s honeymoon period lasted less than a fortnight as he tasted his first Barcelona defeat on Saturday in his second La Liga game in charge after a 2-0 loss to Valencia.

Maxi Gomez’s strike and a Jordi Alba own goal at Mestalla handed Barca their fourth league defeat of the campaign, giving Real Madrid the chance to move three points clear of the champions at the top of the table when they visit Real Valladolid on Sunday.
Barcelona had most of the ball but their opponents had the best chances as Gomez missed a penalty and also hit the crossbar in the first half. Gabriel Paulista saw a third goal ruled out late on.
While performances under previous coach Ernesto Valverde were stodgy, he left a team that sat top of the table.
Setien promised a new style but despite dominating possession, Barcelona went nowhere with it and as Valencia grew in confidence, they ceded control.
“It should not take us long,” Setien had said on Friday, when asked how quickly his players could adapt to his methods.
Valencia climb to fifth and continue to improve under Albert Celades. This success came without their captain Dani Parejo and, largely, without star striker Rodrigo Moreno, who has been linked with a January move to Barcelona.
The hosts hardly touched the ball for the first six minutes, their fans whistling as they urged a more aggressive approach.
But the plan was to sit and absorb and it worked, with Barcelona unable to cut through or create a single clear chance.
And when Valencia did intervene, they were more dangerous too. With their first attack they won a penalty as Jose Gaya slipped past Gerard Pique and would surely have scored from eight yards before being brought down.
Pique was booked and, with Parejo absent, Gomez stepped up, only for his driven shot to be well saved by Marc-Andre ter Stegen, albeit with the help of half a yard’s headstart off his line.
Barca were riding their luck. Sergi Roberto’s header cannoned off Pique but fell just close enough for Ter Stegen, who parried a Gomez shot onto the crossbar and almost spilled another to Kevin Gameiro.
Referee Gil Manzano put his hands together as if to apologize after failing to play advantage when Ferran Torres was clear but the frustration of Valencia’s fans turned to ecstasy shortly after half time.
Pique’s flicked header landed at the feet of Gomez, whose driven effort took a cruel deflection off Alba and flew in.
Setien traded the patience of Arthur Melo for the physicality of Arturo Vidal and Rodrigo came on to a rousing reception.
Barcelona exerted some pressure and Lionel Messi led the way, hauled to the ground by Francis Coquelin and then denied by a brilliant Gabriel tackle. He fired past the post, headed wide and saw a curling free kick saved.
Yet just as a Barcelona equalizer began to feel inevitable, Valencia struck again. A quick throw caught Alba out of position and Torres did well to cut inside and switch to Gomez. He took a touch and curled into the corner.
Gabriel thought he had a third after volleying in from a corner but VAR persuaded Manzano there had been a push. When Messi ballooned a late free kick into the stands, Valencia knew their win was secure.

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Premier League players’ ‘backs against wall’ over virus, says Rose

Updated 05 April 2020

Premier League players’ ‘backs against wall’ over virus, says Rose

  • Top-flight stars have come under increasing pressure to take pay cuts from govt officials

LONDON: Newcastle defender Danny Rose is willing to contribute a portion of his wages to those fighting the coronavirus outbreak but says Premier League players feel their “backs are against the wall.”

Top-flight stars have come under increasing pressure to take pay cuts from government officials after a number of clubs said they would use public money to subsidize pay for nonplaying staff.

The Premier League said on Friday that clubs would consult players over a combination of pay cuts and deferrals amounting to 30 percent of their annual salary.

They agreed to provide a £125 million ($153 million) fund for the English Football League and National League and pledged £20 million in charitable support for those affected by the coronavirus.

Talks were due to take place on Saturday between the league, clubs and players’ representatives.

Newcastle, where Rose is on loan, and his parent club, Tottenham, are among clubs to have furloughed some nonplaying staff during the crisis, prompting criticism as players continue to receive their full salary.

“We’re all keen to make something happen,” said Rose.

“I can only speak for myself but I would have no problems whatsoever contributing some of my wages to people who are fighting this on the front line and to people who have been affected by what’s happening at the minute.”

On Friday, a hospital in London identified Rose as the individual behind a £19,000 donation to hospital funds.

Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson led talks between Premier League club captains over what action they could take, a move that begun before Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Thursday joined those singling out footballers.

“We sort of feel our backs are against the wall,” Rose said. “Conversations were being had before people outside of football were commenting.

“I’ve been on the phone to Jordan Henderson and he’s working so hard to come up with something.

“It was just not needed for people who are not involved in football to tell footballers what they should do with their money. I found that so bizarre.”

Wolves captain Conor Coady said it was time for players to help out.

“It’s fantastic to see people trying to make the effort,” he said. “It’s something everyone wants to be part of. As footballers, it’s important we help as many people as possible.

“What’s come out now is the 30 percent cut. We get judged every single day of our lives. The time now is to go forward and make a donation.”

On Saturday, Burnley said they would face a shortfall of up to £50 million if the Premier League season could not be completed.

“It’s a completely unprecedented situation that we and other Premier League clubs face and which we could not have foreseen in anyway only just a few weeks ago,” said Burnley chairman Mike Garlick.

“It’s now not just about Burnley or any other individual club any more, it’s about the whole football ecosystem from the Premier League downwards and all the other businesses and communities that feed from that ecosystem.”