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Ronaldo, Bale to miss Copa del Rey tie

Real Madrid

Ex-Bundesliga player Marcelo Pletsch imprisoned for drug trafficking

Marcelo Pletsch, pictured in 2004, played for Borussia Monchengladbach and Kaiserslautern.

Former Bundesliga defender Marcelo Pletsch has been sentenced to nine years and two months in prison after being arrested with 793kg (1,749 pounds) of marijuana in Brazil, Sport Bild has reported. 

Pletsch, who played in Germany for Borussia Monchengladbach and Kaiserslautern between 1999 and 2006, was arrested in November 2015 after military police found marijuana pressed into 854 bars in his truck.

After awaiting trial in custody in Cascavel in southern Brazil, the 40-year-old was found...

 By Ian Holyman

Nice raise over €100,000 in commemorative shirt auction

Nice auctioned commemorative shirts to raise money for charity.

Paris Saint-Germain's Hatem Ben Arfa and Southampton's Jeremy Pied bought two commemorative shirts each as Nice collected over €100,000 in an auction for victims of July's terrorist attack.

Nice started the season with the special shirts, on which the names of all 86 people who died on the city's Promenade des Anglais on July 14 were printed in the form of a heart.

Rennes, who Nice played on the opening day of the season, wore similar shirts, and they were paired up with their opponents' strip...

Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale to miss Real Madrid's Copa del Rey tie

With just two La Liga goals in six games, Alison Bender questions whether Cristiano Ronaldo can start finding the net again.

Real Madrid stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale will be rested for Wednesday evening's Copa del Rey game at third-tier La Cultural y Deportiva Leonesa -- but midfielder Toni Kroos makes the trip due to a lack of midfield cover in the Los Blancos squad.

Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has stuck to his rotation policy for the game at the Estadio Reino de Leon, leaving most of his big names at home and calling up fit-again Fabio Coentrao and forward Mariano Diaz to his 16-man travelling squad.


ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge must improve work rate - Graeme Souness

Jurgen Klopp showered his side with praise after their EFL Cup win, singling out Daniel Sturridge's performance.
The guys answer your tweets on the EFL Cup, Liverpool's title hopes, Sturridge as a starter, and their picks for MLS Cup.
Steve Nicol breaks down what Liverpool are lacking to make an honest title challenge.

Liverpool legend Graeme Souness says Daniel Sturridge's work rate is the reason why he has not always been a regular in Jurgen Klopp's starting XI this season.

Sturridge scored twice as Liverpool beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 in the EFL Cup fourth round on Tuesday but has often been limited to a place on the bench in the Premier League, starting just four games in the division this term.

While Souness was impressed by Sturridge's performance against Spurs, he says the England international needs to...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Scotland fight England and Ivory Coast for 13-year-old Karamoko Dembele

Scottish FA chief executive Stewart Regan said he is doing all he can to convince Karamoko Dembele to play for Scotland.

The Scottish Football Association will fight to convince 13-year-old Celtic midfielder Karamoko Dembele to pledge his international future to Scotland rather than England or Ivory Coast.

Dembele, who was born in London to Ivorian parents, made headlines earlier this month when he made his debut for Celtic's under-20 team despite his young age.

The midfielder, who moved to Glasgow at the age of five, has since been called into Scotland's U16 squad for the Victory Shield tournament but is reported...

 By Ian Holyman

Ivory Coast's Gervinho to miss African Nations Cup with knee injury

Gervinho won the 2015 African Nations Cup with Ivory Coast.

Ivory Coast forward Gervinho has ruptured knee ligaments and will miss the African Nations Cup in January, according to France Football.

Gervinho, 29, reportedly ruptured the cruciate ligaments in his left knee while training with Chinese Super League club Hebei Fortune, whom he joined from Roma in January.

The Ivory Coast international, who helped his nation lift the Nations Cup in 2015, has flown to France to undergo further medical examination.

The Nations Cup will be staged in Gabon between...