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Cultural Leonesa
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Manchester derby tale of the tape

John Brewin profile picture  By John Brewin

Manchester United vs. Manchester City: Derby day tale of the tape

The ESPN FC crew break down how important the EFL Round of 16 match is for both Manchester United and Manchester City.

Manchester's expected dominance of English football is not going to plan. United are licking their wounds after a 4-0 thrashing at Chelsea, while City's 1-1 draw with Southampton on Sunday followed their own 4-0 humbling, suffered at Barcelona last Wednesday. Pep Guardiola's City have now gone five matches without a win, while Jose Mourinho's United have won just one of their last four.

At such a troubled time, perhaps the last thing either manager wants is to come up against their arch-rival, and...

 By Michael Cox

Why do stars such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo take the penalties?

Lionel Messi converted a crucial penalty at the weekend but hasn't had the best spot-kick record.

On Saturday, Lionel Messi buried a 94th-minute penalty past Valencia goalkeeper Diego Alves at the Mestalla. It was a hugely significant goal that meant Barcelona travelled back up the coast with three points after a 3-2 victory. In a wider context, it might have a significant impact upon Messi's goal-scoring record at the end of his career.

For all Messi's superhuman talents -- there's an argument that the Argentine is or has been the world's best dribbler, creator and goal scorer during his...

Qatar-owned La Cultural's Real Madrid clash could lead to better things

ESPN FC's Alejandro Moreno assesses how Cristiano Ronaldo can turn around his slowest ever La Liga start.

A staple of each Spanish season is when a small lower division club "wins the lottery" and draws one of the La Liga giants in the Copa del Rey.

This year the TV cameras were at the ground of Segunda B side La Cultural y Deportiva Leonesa to capture the screams and cheers as the part-timers learned they would face Real Madrid in the round of 32.

Madrid's opponents this year are no ordinary minnows however, even though their 93 years of history includes just one season in the Primera Division. La...

 By Simon Kuper

Premier League's intensity comes at expense of quality vs. Europe's elite

Stewart Robson and Steve Nicol laud the intense nature of the Premier League, but is intensity at the expense of quality?
The ESPN FC crew discuss Pep Guardiola's comments that the Premier League is not as intense as other leagues.

"I hear a lot of times about the intensity in the Premier League when none of you have been in La Liga or the Bundesliga to know how intense it is," Pep Guardiola told a roomful of British journalists last week. He added, "I think the intensity in Italy and other places is quite the same." Then he took his Manchester City team to Barcelona and was thrashed 4-0.

Guardiola's words reawakened an old debate: Is the Premier League especially intense? And what does "intensity" even mean in soccer? I've...

 By Mark Gleeson

Pitso Mosimane, Mamelodi Sundowns' African Champions League glory

Mamelodi Sundowns are the second South African team in history to win the African Champions League.

The vagaries of air travel on the continent mean Mamelodi Sundowns will only arrive home on Wednesday morning from Egypt, two days after clinching the African Champions League title following an extraordinary 3-1 aggregate win over Zamalek in Alexandria.

The rather unassuming trophy will be the prized possession in the baggage as Pitso Mosimane's men are expected to be greeted by a large crowd at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg at the end of a whirlwind five-month campaign that has...

IFK Mariehamn dubbed the Finnish Leicester after stunning title win

City may be better off with a pile of stones in defence and Mourinho still knows how to motivate Chelsea in The Sweeper.
IFK Mariehamn captain Jani Lyyski lifts the Finnish league trophy following his side's remarkable triumph.

The Aland Islands, an archipelago between Sweden and Finland in the Baltic Sea, only has a population of 29,000 people. On Sunday, they became one of the smallest communities in the world to have ever celebrated a championship title.

More than 4,300 fans came to the tiny Wiklof Holding Arena, where IFK Mariehamn needed to beat Ilves on the final matchday of the remarkably exciting and dramatic season in the Finnish Veikkausliiga. With just two games to go, four teams had realistic hopes of winning...