Benjamin Park

Benjamin Park

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SPAIN face a tough double header in their penultimate round of friendly fixtures ahead of this summer’s World Cup in Russia.

La Roja will head to current world champions Germany tonight (Friday), before hosting the Germans’ final opponents in 2014, Argentina, at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid on Tuesday.

Spain go into the matches in good spirits having not lost a match since the 2016 European Championships, but will be without front man Alvaro Morata after the Chelsea striker was left out by Julen Lopetegui. 

The 25-year-old, who has struggled since his €85.7 million (£75 million) move from Real Madrid, got his first goal of 2018 in the 2-1 FA Cup quarter-final win over Leicester on Sunday but has been replaced by rejuvenated former Chelsea man Diego Costa. There were also first time call-ups for Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso, Valencia playmaker Dani Parejo and Villarreal’s Rodri.

Speaking to English media, Lopetegui was adamant that his final selection for the World Cup was far from made, but was full of praise for the newcomers in his side.

He said: “There are players who are not on the list whose chances of going to the World Cup are intact.

“We’ve now got two exciting matches against two great sides and after that everyone will have their chances. The fact players haven’t been called is down to various things; form, injuries and also to see new players better.”

“We felt it was the right time for them to come in and take a look at them.

“We like (Rodri) a lot. He’s very young but he’s ready. We’ve liked watching him a lot, the reports from his club and the under-21’s are excellent and we thought it was a good time to see him closer.” 

Elsewhere, England will hope to secure two victories in their penultimate double header.

England boss Southgate’s side will be without key man Harry Kane after he was ruled out until April, as they head to the Netherlands later this evening (Friday) ahead of hosting Italy at Wembley on Tuesday. 

Southgate has handed a place in the squad to three uncapped players ahead of the fixtures, all looking to state their claim for a place on the plane to the World Cup.

Burnley duo Nick Pope and James Tarkowski receive their first call-ups on the back of the club’s good form this season, alongside Swansea centre-back Alfie Mawson. Bournemouth midfielder Lewis Cook has been called up for the second time after he was originally called up for the 0-0 draw with Brazil in November.

There are also recalls for Arsenal pair Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck, while West Brom’s Jake Livermore also retains his place in spite of his club side’s poor form this season.

West Ham’s Joe Hart also retains his place in the three lions’ squad despite several high profile mistakes for the struggling Londoners this season, while high profile absentees include Chelsea captain Gary Cahill and Manchester United’s Chris Smalling.

Other fixtures will see Argentina play Italy tomorrow (Friday) as well as Russia against Brazil and France take on Colombia before Portugal face the Netherlands on Monday and Germany host Brazil on Tuesday.

LIVERPOOL have been drawn against Manchester City in an all English tie in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

The sides have already met twice this season, with Liverpool inflicting City’s only Premier League loss of the season courtesy of a 4-3 win at Anfield in January, after City had destroyed the Merseysiders 5-0 at the Etihad in September.

In doing so, Liverpool became just one of four sides to beat Manchester City this season, alongside League One side Wigan, Basel and Shakhtar Donetsk.

Elsewhere, holders Real Madrid have been drawn against Juventus in a replay of last season’s final.

Real came out 4-1 winners on the night as they secured heir 12th title and are looking to secure a record 13th and third consecutive Champions League title after a disappointing domestic campaign.

Five-time champions Barcelona have been drawn against Roma, who reached the quarter-finals for the first time since 2008, while Sevilla have been drawn against Bayern Munich in the other quarter finals.

The first legs of the quarter finals will take place on April 3, with Juventus against Madrid and Sevilla vs Bayern Munich and April 4, Barcelona v Roma and Liverpool v Manchester City ahead of the return legs on April 10 and 11.

In the Europa League, Arsenal avoided Atletico Madrid as they were drawn against Russian outfit CSKA Moscow

Boss Arsene Wenger had said before the draw that they were keen to avoid ‘favourites’ Atletico, but have been awarded with a trip to Russia instead.

The Gunners will host the 2005 winners at the Emirates at the beginning of April, before heading to Russia the following week for the second leg.

Elsewhere, the other quarter-finals will see an Iberian battle as two-time champions Atletico Madrid face Portugal’s Sporting CP, while RB Leipzig are up against Olympique de Marseille and Lazio take on Salzburg,

First leg ties will be played on April 5, before the return leg is scheduled for April 12.

A WOMAN has been arrested in Murcia on suspicion of abducting her own daughter.

According to reports, the grandmother of a child reported to police that her granddaughter had been snatched from her lap while she was waiting at the San Anton medical centre.

When officers arrived at the scene, the woman was allegedly in a clear state of shock and eye-witnesses claimed that it had been the mother of the child who had taken the young girl, who was her son’s ex-partner.

After she had described the vehicle used to get away, police alerted all officers in the vicinity of a potential kidnapping.

National Police were quickly able to locate the woman, who was travelling with three other people close to the child, and all four were arrested.

Spanish media have reported that the child’s parents, both members of the military, are currently in the middle of a custody battle.

The child’s father, who she is believed to be currently living with, had been away in Galicia for a training course and had left her under the care of his mother when the incident occurred. 

However the woman, who has another son from a previous relationship, claims that the child should be staying with her. 

And sources close to the woman have reportedly told Spanish media outlets that the girl is supposed to be living with her mother in Cartagena but the father failed to return her following one of her summer visits.

The matter will be clarified at a family court at a later date.


AMERICAN film streaming giants Netflix are reportedly interested in opening studios in Alicante’s Ciudad de la Luz.

According to Spanish media, the film giants are planning a European studio and have pinpointed the ‘City of Light’ facilities as a potential venue.

Netflix, one of the largest film studios in the world, began producing its own content in 2013 and has produced almost 1,000 hours of its own content alone last year.

It has also been reported that representatives of the company even visited the facilities a few months ago after speaking to the Valencian government.

The Ciudad de la Luz studios, which cost approximately €300 million, opened its doors in 2005 but have been closed since 2012. 

Despite this, it is believed that the complex still has daily maintenance costs of €1,000 solely for cleaning, electricity use and security.

It was shut down after a complaint from British studios Pinewood led the European Union to prevent the studios from being used by another film promoter for a 15-year period.

That was later reduced to five, which has now passed, and the local government are looking to giving the studios a new use.

Netflix are reportedly not the only company interested in the studios however, with a number of Arabic investment groups also reportedly keen on the opportunity; while the creation of a ‘digital district’ designed to promote smart cities, an ageing research centre and the relocation of a new regional television channel have also been mooted as potential opportunities.

JUST four games will take place in the Premier League this weekend as the FA Cup returns for the quarter-finals.

Liverpool host Watford in the late kick off hoping to bounce back from their 2-1 Derby Day defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Marcus Rashford scored a fantastic first half brace to hand Liverpool, who pulled one back through an Eric Bailly own goal, just their first defeat in their last six games.

They host a Watford side that lost their first game in three following two successive 1-0 wins against West Brom and Everton as they lost 3-0 to Arsenal at the Emirates. 

Elsewhere, struggling Stoke City host Everton with both sides desperate to get out of their poor run of form. 

Stoke were easily beaten by champions-elect Manchester City 2-0 on Monday and find themselves in the middle of a relegation battle.

Bournemouth, fresh off their 4-1 defeat to Tottenham host a West Brom side who have lost their last six consecutive Premier League games. 

Boss Alan Pardew is expected to remain in charge for Saturday’s fixture, despite going down 4-1 to Leicester at the weekend 

In the weekend’s only other fixture, Huddersfield Town host Crystal Palace.

Weekend fixtures in full
Bournemouth vs West Bromwich Albion
Huddersfield Town vs Crystal Palace
Stoke City vs Everton
Liverpool vs Watford

DEPORTIVO host Las Palmas in a relegation six-pointer on Saturday as the fight to avoid relegation from La Liga heats up.

A win for either side would come as a welcome boost with both only managing to pick up just three points each in their last 10 games.

Both sides are without a win in six and now find themselves four and five points adrift of safety, with Las Palmas in 18th position and Deportivo 19th.

Elsewhere, Barcelona’s march towards the title continues against 12th placed Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

The league leaders strolled to a 2-0 win over bottom side Malaga as they enjoyed more than 75 per cent of possession to give Malaga their seventh consecutive defeat.

Malaga, who have not won in over three months, are now 11 points from safety and will need a result against Celta Vigo on Saturday if they are to have any chance of survival.

 Real Madrid will look to close the gap on Atletico Madrid as they host Girona on Saturday, but will need to be at their best to get past their opposition.

Girona continued their push for European football as they secured their third win in a row last time out thanks to a 2-0 win over Deportivo on Friday.

They now sit just a point behind six placed Villarreal, who face a tough tie against second placed Atletico on Sunday.

Atletico got back to winning ways after their disappointing defeat to Barcelona with a 3-0 win over Celta Vigo thanks to goals from Vitolo, Correa and Antoine Griezmann.

That result leaves Diego Simeone’s side eight points behind Barcelona at the top but only seven ahead of Real.

In the weekend’s other matches, Levante host Eibar, Valencia take on Alaves, Real Sociedad play Getafe, travel to Real Betis and Leganes are against Sevilla.

Weekend fixtures in full:

Tomorrow (Friday)
Levante vs Eibar
Deportivo la Coruña vs Las Palmas
Valencia vs Alaves
Real Sociedad vs Getafe
Real Betis vs  Espanyol
Leganes vs Sevilla 
Barcelona vs Athletic Bilbao
Celta Vigo vs Malaga
Villarreal vs Atletico Madrid
Real Madrid vs Girona

A BOLIVIAN woman has been arrested on suspicion of sexual harassment in Costa Blanca.

According to reports, San Andres police received a complaint from a man after being forced to block the number of a 28-year-old woman after receiving a siege of calls and messages from her. 

The victim claimed that an acquaintance of his would bombard him with texts and calls, leading him to block her number, and after she realised that she could no longer contact him, she sought other ways to reach him.

She would allegedly besiege him at both work and leisure areas, but would also aggressively warn him that if he was not going to be in a relationship with her then she would make life very difficult for him

In a final bizarre incident, the woman allegedly even pretended to be a postal worker so that she could enter the house and when she managed to gain access, she began to undress in front of the man.

Following a police investigation, the woman was arrested on suspicion of harassment.


MANCHESTER UNITED will look to continue their good run of form as they host red-hot Liverpool on Saturday in a match that may determine second place in the Premier League.

Second placed United produced a stunning comeback on Monday as they came from 2-0 down to secure a last-gasp 3-2 victory thanks to Nemanja Matic’s world class winner.

While Manchester City continue their march towards the Premier League title, the race for second is still very much in the balance, with bitter rivals United and Liverpool both in the hunt, with Tottenham right on their tails.

After returning to second, following their dramatic win over Crystal Palace, another win on Saturday for United would see them move five points clear with just eight games left to play, but they will undoubtedly have one eye on Tuesday’s second leg Champions League fixture against Sevilla at Old Trafford, having drawn 0-0 in Andalucia two weeks ago. 

Fourth placed will look to keep up the pressure on their north-west rivals as they head to Bournemouth.

Bournemouth have lost just one in their last six but have also only won one during that time, whereas Tottenham have won four and drawn two in the same period.  

 Elsewhere, Arsenal will be desperate for three points as they host Watford at the Emirates on Sunday.

The Gunners play AC Milan later this evening in the Europa League Round of 16 after their fourth consecutive loss for the first time since 2002 as they went down 2-1 to Brighton on Saturday, leaving them 13 points outside the Champions League places. 

At the other end of the table, Newcastle host Southampton with both teams sitting worryingly close to the relegation zone. Newcastle sit just two points above the relegation zone while Southampton remain just a point above after both sides won just one in their last six. 

Crystal Palace will look to bounce back from their second late defeat in a row to Manchester United as they head to Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Sky Sports’ Jamie Redknapp called Chelsea’s performance a ‘crime against football’ in their 1-0 loss to Manchester City on Sunday who will look to get back to winning ways ahead of Wednesday’s trip to the Nou Camp.

On Monday, Champions-elect Manchester City head to relegation-threatened Stoke knowing that four more wins will guarantee them the title. 

In the weekend’s other fixtures, Everton host Brighton, Swansea travel to Huddersfield, West Brom take on Leicester and West Ham face Burnley. 

BARCELONA travel to Malaga on Saturday as top meets bottom of the table with just 11 games of the La Liga season left to play.

The Catalan giants moved eight points clear after securing victory in their top of the table clash with Atletico on Sunday but will have one eye on Wednesday’s Champions League tie against Chelsea as they head to La Rosaleda.

A stark contrast to Saturday’s opponents, with Malaga currently finding themselves rooted to the bottom of the league, eight points adrift of safety and without a win since December 10.

The race for European football continues as fourth placed Valencia travel to fifth placed Sevilla.

Sevilla, who currently sit eight points behind Valencia, kept their faint hopes of a top-four finish alive with a 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao on Saturday, and will look to increase their hold on fifth with a win against their rivals in the race for the Champions League. 

That is provided that Villarreal fail to find a way past relegation threatened Las Palmas on Sunday.

Las Palmas held on for a memorable draw against Barcelona last week, but were beaten by a last gasp goal against Celta Vigo on Monday, to remain in La Liga’s bottom three just a point behind Levante. 

The Gran Canarian side could drop to 19th place before they kick off if Clarence Seedorf’s Deportivo La Coruña manage to pick up three points against Girona tomorrow.

Deportivo are yet to win under Seedorf but have managed two draws in their last three games, whereas Girona are looking for their third win in a row.

Elsewhere, Eibar host Real Madrid, Levante travel to Getafe, Espanyol face Real Sociedad, Atletico Madrid play Celta Vigo, Alaves take on Real Betis and Athletic Bilbao are against Leganes.

Weekend’s fixtures in full :
Tomorrow (Friday)
Girona vs Deportivo La Coruña
Eibar vs Real Madrid
Sevilla vs Valencia
Getafe vs Levante
Malaga vs Barcelona
Espanyol vs Real Sociedad
Atletico Madrid vs Celta Vigo
Las Palmas vs Villarreal
Athletic Bilbao vs Leganes
Alaves vs Real Betis 

TWO Spaniards have been sentenced to spend 16 months in prison each after attempting to smuggle more than €165,000 of cannabis through Newcastle Airport. 

According to reports, Carlos Gonzalez-Cortes and Leon Espada travelled on a flight from Alicante Airport to the North East, each carrying a large suitcase.

Border Force officials became suspicious of the pair after they appeared to be travelling alone but carried family sized suitcases.

Neither of the men new the codes for their suitcases when approached by Border Force officials and when they were eventually opened, each case contained 12.5 kilos of cannabis worth an estimated €167,000 (£150,000).

Gonzales-Cortes, 46, claimed that a Buddhist in Malaga had asked him to take the drug to give it to UK cancer patients, while Espada, 63, admitted to having money problems and said he was offered €1,500 for smuggling the drugs.

The pair admitted to importing the cannabis and were subsequently sentenced to 16 months each at Newcastle Crown Court.

Following the case, Northumbria Police’s Central CID, Frank Cox, told British media: “This was a really huge seizure and it is amazing that these offenders thought they would get away with it.

“They were bringing cannabis into this country with the intention of selling it to street dealers who would spread it across the streets of the North East.

“Not only is cannabis an illegal drug but it brings with it a lot of associated crime which can have a devastating impact on many of our local communities.

“With dealing of this scale we almost always find associated violence and disorder so it is important that we take illegal drugs off the street at the source of the problem.

“I want to thank our colleagues at Newcastle International Airport and the UK Border Force who ultimately stopped this huge haul of drugs hitting our region.”

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