By JUSTIN FERGUSON
FC Barcelona continued their great run in Spanish competition on Wednesday, defeating second division side Cordoba 5-0 (7-0 aggregate) in Copa del Rey action. The club now has won 15 straight matches in domestic play.
Lionel Messi watched from the bench as teammates David Villa and Alexis Sanchez netted two goals apiece. Thiago opened the scoring for the powerful home side in the 17th minute.
Villa, who has struggled to get regular first team action since returning from a broken leg, registered his brace in the span of five minutes. The veteran striker has been linked with Premier League clubs Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City during the January window.
The easy win for Barcelona sets up a quarterfinal meeting with Málaga. The two clubs will also face each other this Sunday in league play.
Here are some more stories to wrap up your Thursday:
SERGIO RAMOS SUSPENDED FIVE MATCHES
Real Madrid will be without key defender Sergio Ramos for its next five matches. Ramos, who was sent off during Real’s 4-1 Copa del Rey win over Celta Vigo, is being punished for insulting match referee Miguel Ayza Gamez.
The Spanish federation said on Thursday that Ramos repeatedly called Gamez a “shameless scoundrel” after receiving his second yellow card for a foul on Celta Vigo’s Alex Lopez.
According to La Liga’s disciplinary code, “insulting, offending or showing an offensive attitude towards the referee” carries a minimum of a four-match suspension. Ramos had already received an automatic one-match suspension for being sent off.
The suspension will keep Ramos out of Real Madrid’s next three La Liga matches and both legs of the Copa del Rey quarterfinal against Valencia.
ANCELOTTI RULES OUT A RETURN TO PSG FOR ANELKA
Paris Saint-Germain manager Carlo Ancelotti told reporters that the club will not be making a move for Nicolas Anelka.
The former PSG striker is currently under contract with Shanghai Shenhua but is reportedly looking to make a return to Europe. Anelka moved to the Chinese club last summer and was later joined by former Chelsea teammate Didier Drogba.
Anelka made headlines in France on Wednesday when it was revealed that he was training at PSG. Rumors quickly circulated that Ancelotti, who coached Anelka for three seasons at Chelsea, was looking to buy his former player.
“He loves this club, and is simply training with us,” Ancelotti said. “I’m not thinking about recruiting him. We’ll see if he asks for a contract, but honestly, I don’t think that’s possible.”
Bayern Munich was one of four clubs fined by the German Football Federation on Thursday for fan misbehavior. (REPORT)
Brazilian star Neymar told reporters that he plans to play out the rest of his contract with home club Santos, saying that “it is not yet the time” to make a move to Europe. (REPORT)
Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boas says that he is not looking to sign a replacement at striker for AFCON-bound Emmanuel Adebayor. (REPORT)
Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli, always one for an interesting headline, reported to training Thursday morning sporting a bleach blonde mohawk.
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What do you think of these reports? Do you think that Villa’s performance will get him more playing time at Barcelona, or drive up interest from other clubs? What are your thoughts on the Ramos suspension? Where do you see Anelka landing next?
Share your thoughts below.