Simeone waits on Godin verdict

Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone has admitted that key central defender Diego Godin could opt to leave the La Liga club in the summer.

The 32-year-old Uruguay international is out of contract at the end of the season, with talks over a new deal having seemingly hit the buffers.

Inter Milan are reported to be the club leading the chase for Godin, who has also been linked with both Juventus and Manchester United.

And Simeone accepts that there is little he can do to influence the situation, as he told the Spanish media: "Both Atleti and the player are seeking the best solution for all parties. The club and Godin know what I think about this.

"If he does remain with us, it'll be because it's best for him and the club."

Godin joined Atleti in the summer of 2010 from Villarreal and has since racked up well over 350 appearances in all competitions for Los Rojiblancos, helping them success in La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Europa League.

He also helped Atleti reach the Champions League final in both 2014 and 2016, where they lost out to city rivals Real Madrid.

Godin scored in the first of those two finals, with Sergio Ramos equalising deep into injury time, before Real netted three more in extra-time to run out 4-1 winners.

He is also the joint highest-capped player for Uruguay, having made 125 appearances, the same number of Maxi Pereira.

Uruguay can be backed at 40/1 to win the 2022 World Cup, with Brazil 6/1 and Argentina 10/1.

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Modric seeks more goals

Luka Modric says he wants to add more goals to his game as he reflects on an "unforgettable" 2018.

The Real Madrid star scored in his side's 4-1 over Al Ain in the Club World Cup final as they won the trophy for the third year in a row.

His 25-yard finish opened the scoring for Santiago Solari's side, his first goal for the club since January.

However, despite not scoring as often as he would like, the midfielder was able to reflect on an eventful and successful year for club and country.

The year has seen Modric win the Ballon d’Or, the World Cup Golden Ball and FIFA's The Best Men's Player prize.

He says that he would still like to score more regularly in 2019, telling Real Madrid TV: "Everyone tells me I have to shoot more, although I usually prefer to pass, I should shoot more, it's true.

"It is an unforgettable year for me, a perfect year, winning the Champions League, then Croatia had a spectacular World Cup and then all these prizes arrived, now another trophy with Madrid.

"A dream year, really. I can't ask more."

The final against Al Ain was 1-0 at half-time but Real made sure of keeping the trophy with three more goals in the second period through Marcos Llorente, Sergio Ramos and a late own goal.

The win perhaps diverts attention away from Real's domestic struggles so far this season. They currently sit fourth in La Liga eight points adrift of leaders Barcelona.

They are next in action in January with two La Liga games in four days, travelling to face Villarreal on the 3rd before taking on Real Sociedad at home on the 6th.

Real Madrid have won the Champions League for the last three years and next year are 12/1 to make it four in a row, Barcelona are 9/2 with Manchester City 3/1.

Croatia are 25/1 to win Euro 2020.

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Griezmann: Not at my best

Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann has admitted that he is still not quite at his best, as he is still overcoming the effects of his efforts last season.

The 27-year-old France international helped his club to Europa League glory at the end of last season, before playing a major role as Les Bleus went all the way to lift the World Cup in Russia.

And the talented frontman is aware that he is still not up to full speed at the moment, although he has still scored four goals in his last five games, including two in a 3-2 victory at Valladolid on Sunday.

Griezmann told reporters: "I'm not quite yet at my best, it's been a long year with many games. I'm maybe just lacking a bit of speed, but I keep going.

"I can still improve, but I'm very happy to be able to help the team.

"It's a very long year, we have a game and then a little rest and there are games when it is difficult to be loose and fast. Today was a day like that, but I was able to score two goals."

Ahead of the La Liga action on Sunday, Atleti are in second place in the table, having only lost one of their first 16 league games of the season, although they have drawn seven.

Los Rojiblancos are priced at 8/1 to win La Liga this season, with Barcelona available at 2/7 and Real Madrid 5/1.

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Garcia Plaza eyes immediate impact

Luis Garcia Plaza is eager to turn around the fortunes of struggling Villarreal as soon as possible, having succeeded Javier Calleja at the helm of the  La Liga club.

The 48-year-old former Elche, Levante and Getafe boss has been drafted in to try and reinvigorate the Yellow Submarine, having most recently been working in the UAE and China.

And Garcia Plaza is keen to make his mark quickly, with Villarreal currently just outside the relegation zone after winning just three of their 15 league games this season.

However, his first task is to try and secure a place in the knockout stages of the Europa League, with Villarreal hosting Spartak Moscow on Thursday evening.

Garcia Plaza told the Spanish media: "I'm really keen to turn this situation around. We're coming here to work as hard as possible and we hope to change the dynamic.

"On Thursday we have a vital match, we're playing to stay in the Europa League. We can't change everything in two days, but in the first session we've seen very positive things.

"We have a very complete squad that can play in multiple systems. I've told the players it's a new era and I've seen them as really keen to get going.

"Hopefully it's a fruitful era for the club, as well as for myself."

Villarreal are currently priced at 8/1 to be relegated this season, with Athletic Bilbao 3/1 and Levante 8/1.

The next league challenge for the Yellow Submarine is a trip to rock-bottom Huesca at teatime on Sunday.

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Bilbao lose patience with Berizzo

Athletic Bilbao have sacked their coach Eduardo Berizzo in the wake of Monday's 3-0 defeat at Levante which left the club 18th in La Liga.

The 49-year-old Argentinian had coached Celta Vigo and Sevilla before taking charge of Bilbao at the end of May.

However, the Basque club have endured a dismal campaign and have only won one of their first 14 La Liga games – and that was a 2-1 victory against Leganes on the opening weekend of the season.

Since then they have drawn eight matches and lost five.

Bilbao, who have never been relegated from La Liga, have named their B team manager Gaizka Garitano as Berizzo's successor.

"Athletic Club has decided to end the contract with coach Eduardo Berizzo," the club tweeted. "From Wednesday 5th December, Gaizka Garitano will be in charge of the first team."

Garitano guided Eibar to promotion to La Liga in 2014, but resigned one year later when they were relegated in 2015, despite the club being reinstated following Elche's demotion.

He had spells in charge of Valladolid and Deportivo La Coruna before taking over at Bilbao Athletic, the club's reserve side.

Athletic Bilbao are 7/2 to be relegated this season and 17/10 to beat Huesca in their next match on Thursday.

Costa operation hurts Atletico

Atletico Madrid have confirmed that striker Diego Costa is facing a spell on the sidelines as he requires surgery on an injury to his left foot.

The 30-year-old Spain international featured in the 1-1 draw at Girona on Sunday, but is now set to head home to the land of his birth, Brazil, to undergo an operation later this week.

A statement from Los Rojiblancos read: "Diego Costa is to be operated on in Brazil this week due to ongoing pain in his left foot.

"After considering all the possible options, the decision has been made to undertake the operation in Brazil, supervised by Atletico's medical services. Diego has been enduring ongoing pain due to foot trauma suffered three weeks ago."

Costa is currently in his second spell with Atleti and has scored 11 goals in 38 appearances in all competitions since his return from Chelsea in January 2018.

Meanwhile, Atleti midfielder Koke says his side have to avoid drawing too many more games if their are to win La Liga this season, with Los Rojiblancos having drawn seven of their 14 games played so far this term.

He told BeIn Sports following the draw with Girona: "Drawing matches is not enough for us. We need to start picking up victories because one point is not sufficient, especially after we only drew at home to Barcelona in our previous game.

"We must keep working hard and try to do better in front of goal, to be more clinical.

"But there is belief that if we keep working hard in front of goal and fighting for each other, we will turn our luck around and start scoring more goals."

Atletico are available at 10/1 to be crowned La Liga champions this season, with Barcelona priced at 1/4 and Real Madrid 5/1.

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Machin eager to keep Silva

Sevilla head coach Pablo Machin believes that loan striker Andre Silva is fast working his way towards securing a permanent deal at the Sanchez Pizjuan.

The 23-year-old Portugal international struggled to make an impact at AC Milan last season and was allowed to move on join Sevilla on a season-long loan.

And since the switch Silva has rediscovered top form, scoring seven goals in 11 La Liga appearances, although he has failed to find the net in his last five games.

However, despite that min-slump, Machin has clearly been impressed by how the former FC Porto frontman has performed for the Rojiblancos.

He told the Spanish media: "There is a purchase option in his contract with a stipulated amount and other people have to assess if it is acceptable.

"If they ask for my opinion, I would recommend that we buy him, but he is the one who is going to decide things with his performances.

"If he continues his current form and keeps scoring goals, applying himself and making those around him better, he himself will show that if we don't exercise the option to buy, we're blind."

Sevilla, who lie second in the table heading into the weekend action, are at home to Valladolid on Sunday.

The hosts have only won one of their last six meetings with Valladolid, but are 2/5 to take all three points on Sunday, with Silva 4/5 to score at any time and Los Rojiblancos 6/5 to keep a clean sheet.

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Muniain extends at San Mames

Athletic Bilbao have confirmed Iker Muniain has signed a new contract until 2024.

The winger has spent his entire career with Los Leones, debuting as a 16-year-old in 2009 and has since made 357 appearances, scoring 51 goals.

Muniain's form saw him earn a cap for Spain in 2012 and be linked with both Liverpool and Manchester City during his younger years but his progress in recent seasons has been punctured by a pair of serious knee injuries.

The 25-year-old has looked sharp this term, netting four times in his 11 La Liga appearances and is likely to start on Sunday when Athletic welcome Getafe to the Basque Country.

Bilbao are 21/20 to win the game, with the draw 11/5 and Los Azulones 14/5.

Muniain's previous contract was due to expire next summer but he has now penned fresh terms to keep him at the club beyond his 30th birthday and the agreement does not include a buyout clause.

The Pamplona-born star says the news will help him towards achieving a childhood dream, as he intends to stay with Los Leones for his entire career.

"It is surprising, but I think it is the right thing," he told Athletic's offical website. "The club has always been supportive, even when there have been bad times. This is a way of showing my loyalty to the club.

"I fulfil a wish and the dream I have had since I arrived, which is to play my entire career here. What I have always wanted comes true."

Muniain is 11/4 to score at any time on Sunday, with team-mates Inaki Williams and Aritz Aduriz available at 7/4 and 2/1 respectively.

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Rakitic set for short lay-off

Barcelona look set to be without the services of Ivan Rakitic for several weeks after the Croatia international sustained a hamstring injury.

The 30-year-old former FC Basel, Schalke 04 and Sevilla midfielder had to be substituted midway through the second half of Croatia's 3-2 Nations League win against Spain on Thursday.

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic had already revealed that Rakitic would not travel with the rest of the squad to London for Sunday's clash with England and Barcelona have now confirmed the player's injury.

Dalic said: "We have the solutions and we go to Wembley to enjoy the football."

Rakitic was already unavailable for Barca's next game against Atletico Madrid on 24th November as he is suspended after being sent off during last weekend's 4-3 home defeat to Real Betis.

Croatia will qualify for the finals of the Nations League if they beat England on Sunday, but will be relegated to League B if they lose.

Rakitic helped his country reach the World Cup 2018 final and featured in the victories against England, Russia, Denmark, Argentina, Nigeria and Iceland, as well as the 4-2 defeat to France in the final.

Croatia are available at 10/3 to beat England on Sunday, while Barcelona are 4/9 to win the La Liga title once again this season.

Batshuayi pledges Valencia stay

Valencia loan striker Michy Batshuayi has dismissed suggestions that he could cut short his stay at the Mestalla after struggling to make an impact.

The 25-year-old Belgium international has scored just twice in 15 appearances to date for Los Che, having moved to Spain after finding his first-team opportunities limited at Chelsea.

He impressed in scoring seven goals in 10 Bundesliga outings while on loan at Borussia Dortmund during the second half of last season, but has not found life quite so easy with Valencia.

However, having scored both goals for his country as they defeated Iceland 2-0 in the Nations League on Thursday evening, Batshauyi was quick to confirm that he is going nowhere.

He told reporters: "Any talk of my departure from Valencia are just rumours.

"I have no issues with the club whatsoever and I have a strong understanding with the coach (Marcelino).

"We are in a bad run of form and our only focus is to work on overcoming this slump."

Valencia are currently way down in 15th place in the La Liga standings, but have shown signs of an improvement in recent games, having won three of their last matches in all competitions, including a 1-0 victory at Getafe last time out in the league.

They return to action after the international break with a visit from Rayo Vallecano, who are one of only four teams below them in the Spanish top-flight standings.

Los Che are 2/5 to win that game and are 6/1 to claim a 2-0 victory, with both teams to score available at 19/20.

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