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Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos prefers Premier League referees to La Liga


Sergio Ramos has suggested Premier League referees are more lenient than their Spanish counterparts after he was sent off on Sunday. The Real Madrid captain earned a second booking in injury-time for elbowing Deportivo's Borja Valle while challenging for an aerial ball, adding to the yellow card he received in the second half for slapping Fabian Schar in an off-the-ball scuffle.

Ramos has now been sent off a record-equalling 18 times in La Liga.

"In some areas we need to look more at English football and let the players play on more, I like their system better. In Europe referees are more tolerant," he said afterwards.

"I don't agree with the [second] yellow card, it was harsh, but I respect the opinion of the referee. I have no intention of hurting him, I just supported myself, but you learn from everything."

Explaining the first incident with Schar, which occurred when Deportivo's Zakaria Bakkali player was injured on the floor, Ramos added: "We didn't kick the ball out because they didn't do it [earlier in the game].

"They ran after me, Schar headbutted me and all I did was push him out the way without trying to hurt him."

Ramos is Real's most sent off player, with former defender Fernando Hierro trailing way behind on 12 red cards.

Out of Ramos's 23 red cards, 18 have come in La Liga, three were shown in the Champions League and two in the Copa del Rey. The centre-back, however, has never been dismissed in 143 games for Spain.

Five players were sent off in eight Liga games over the weekend, compared to two in nine Premier League games.


Carlos Tevez: Is Shanghai Shenhua adventure already nearing an end?


Carlos Tevez was supposed to be a superstar in the Chinese Super League, but more than halfway through his debut season with Shanghai Shenhua he has failed to shine. James Walker-Roberts looks at what has gone wrong and what the future might hold... The fanfare was huge for Tevez's arrival in China in January, as well it might have been for a player signed on a contract worth a reported £650,000 a week.Shanghai Shenhua called their new signing "the most outstanding striker in Argentina's history", and so many fans crammed into the airport that Tevez could barely make his way through the terminal, even with a police escort.

Having said just a month earlier that he "could not imagine" leaving his boyhood club Boca Juniors, now Tevez was declaring himself at a "new home" in Shanghai.Yet things have not gone according to plan for Tevez, with the situation deteriorating to such an extent that he has only been allowed to return to Argentina this month after agreeing in writing to return to Shanghai.

But should we be surprised?

For all the goals he scored, and trophies he won, at Manchester United, Manchester City and Juventus, Tevez has also had off-field issues and sometimes struggled to settle.

At City, he angered Roberto Mancini so much by refusing to warm up as a substitute during a Champions League clash with Bayern Munich that he was told to "go back to Argentina". The order was taken literally and Tevez did not pull on a Manchester City shirt for another five months. The striker also later said about Mancini that they almost "exchanged punches" after a home game against Newcastle.

Tevez had previously submitted a written transfer request due to being homesick at City in December 2010, a year and a half after joining in a high-profile move from Manchester United, where he scored 34 goals in 99 league and cup starts.

There were also rumours of a fall-out with fellow Argentina star Lionel Messi - although Tevez said they "laughed together about everything that has been said" - while Sergio Aguero acknowledged that his club and international team-mate "sometimes has a short fuse".

Despite the off-the-field issues, Tevez was only 32 when Shanghai paid a reported £71.6m to sign him from Boca Juniors in late 2016, and he was expected to play a starring role in the Chinese Super League. But, for a player who has been homesick in the past, integrating into the Chinese way of life was never likely to be smooth sailing.

Shanghai manager Gus Poyet revealed that Tevez did "not eat almost anything" at the beginning of his time in China, and South American team-mates Fredy Guarin and Giovanni Moreno had to help out by making him an asado (grilled meat).

"We had a barbecue with Guarin and Moreno and we had to remove the Chinese food," said Poyet. "And for the language, you need an interpreter all the time and the interpreter cannot always transmit the message."

On the pitch, things didn't start well either. Tevez's debut was a humiliating 2-0 defeat to Brisbane Roar in an AFC Champions League qualifier. It was the first time a Chinese Super League side had lost an AFC Champions League play-off in 14 years, and Tevez was largely anonymous as Shanghai managed just one shot on target.

There was even a 'mocking' tweet from Brisbane Roar - who would finish bottom of their Champions League group with a goal difference of minus 12 - to rub salt into the wounds.

Things hardly improved in the Chinese Super League either. Tevez has scored just twice - one of which came on his league debut - and has missed half of this season's games with injury. In a game against Tianjin Teda, he was criticised by fans after a video clip emerged of him standing still around halfway as the opposition passed the ball around.

While it might be harsh to judge Tevez on that clip alone, certainly in China he has not looked the same energetic, all-action and passionate player that Premier League fans will remember.

And there have been other problems. He angered Shanghai supporters in April when he visited Disneyland on the same day he missed a match due to injury. "That was my day off. I'm a normal person and it is normal to have a good time with my family during my time off," was Tevez's reaction.

He also confessed that he "hasn't completely gotten used to" the Chinese Super League yet and needs to "adapt with the team and the CSL environment".

Tevez's absence has not been the only issue for Shanghai. At the current break in the season, which lasts until September 8, they are 11th in the 16-team Chinese Super League. Midfielder Cao Yunding was involved in a clash with fans after a 3-0 home defeat to Guizhou Zhicheng, while Poyet has faced calls to quit.

"Everything has its limit," said Poyet after the defeat to Guizhou. "I've tried my best, but there are some things that I shouldn't take the blame for, so I don't want to say anymore, because if I do so, I will have trouble."

The comments were later said by the Shanghai president to have been taken out of context, but there is no doubt that Poyet faces a tricky few months ahead.

As for Tevez, what does the future hold?

His agent Adrian Ruocco recently told Radio Continental that there is "zero" chance he will return to Boca while he is back in Argentina.

"Carlos is going to come to Argentina for a week because there is a 14-day break in the Chinese League," he added. "There is speculation that he is coming to stay, but that is not the case as he is just coming to see his family, his people."

Tevez himself seems to have mixed feelings about his future. "I don't regret anything, not even leaving Boca because it was the time to do so," he told Radio Mitre. "I wasn't enjoying myself that much and I wanted to think about my family. I'm content and happy here [in China]. I get to enjoy my family and live peacefully."

But he added: "I miss Boca. I miss the fans, wearing the jersey every Sunday and stepping on to La Bombonera. I would return for the Boca fans, for the people. These are things that I think of when considering whether or not to return."

Tevez signed a two-year deal when he joined Shanghai, but Boca seems to be calling again. It is the club where he made his debut aged 16 and the club where, when he returned from a trophy-laden stint at Juventus in 2015, he said he wanted to "write history".

Benitez says Newcastle are facing a 'learning process' as they adjust to the Premier League


Rafael Benitez has questioned whether Newcastle are ready for the demands of the Premier League after a dispiriting start to the season. The Magpies won the Championship last season under Benitez, to return to the top flight at the first attempt, but they have failed to score or pick up a point in their opening two fixtures this season. Newcastle have been quiet in the transfer market since earning promotion and, after Sunday's 1-0 loss at fellow promoted side Huddersfield, Benitez warned that it might take a while for his team to get up to speed.

"My experience in the Premier League is that you have to take your chances because, if you make mistakes you will pay for that," said Benitez.

"It's maybe because it's a learning process so we have to learn quickly, maybe it's too soon for us."

Asked if that learning process would take longer than people expect, he replied: "Yes, for sure."

The Magpies scored 85 league goals last term, 29 more than Huddersfield, but rarely tested Jonas Lossl on Sunday, even after introducing Joselu for a debut from the bench.

Sunday's newspapers carried suggestions West Ham's Andy Carroll could be a target to return to his boyhood club on loan, though Benitez was unable to confirm whether anything was imminent.

"There's no news," he said. "I haven't read the newspapers, we have to wait.

"Obviously we are working behind the scenes trying to do things but I don't know which is our position at the moment."

And Benitez remains optimistic that his side already have enough quality to avoid an immediate return to the Championship.

Asked if his side are good enough to beat the drop, he said: "Hopefully, yes. Because I am sure we will improve.

"We will need time, but I am sure we can improve. Does the team have goals in it? Yes, I think so. I think we will improve, and we will create more chances and score goals, for sure."


Zinedine Zidane eager to avoid departures as Real Madrid dominate La Liga opener


Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane hopes he can keep his all-conquering squad intact after watching them begin their LaLiga title defence with a convincing 3-0 win at Deportivo La Coruna. First-half goals from Gareth Bale and Casemiro set Real on their way at the Riazor before Toni Kroos' second-half finish sealed a win that leaves Real top of the table at the end of the opening weekend. Depor, who had several good chances to score themselves, missed a late penalty through Florin Andone, before Real captain Sergio Ramos was sent off after picking up a second booking in the 90th minute.

The victory continues an impressive month for Real which has already seen them add the UEFA Super Cup and Spanish Supercopa to their bulging trophy room, and Zidane hopes all his players can continue helping the club win even more silverware.

The future of players such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale have been the source of much speculation this summer, but Zidane is keeping his fingers crossed nobody exits the club before the transfer window closes.

He told Spanish reporters after the match: "Nobody has asked me to leave, I want this squad as it is and I hope there won't be any changes, but until August 31 anything can happen."

Regarding the win over Depor, Zidane declared himself happy with the result and performance, but not the late red card shown to his skipper.

Ramos, who was booked following a second-half incident involving Fabian Schar that could well have seen both players dismissed, was handed a second yellow card in stoppage time following an aerial challenge with Borja Valle.

Zidane said: "In general we're happy, it's not an easy ground to come to, and they were a team who can make things difficult for you and they had their chances.

"I'm happy for the content of the game, but not for what happened with Sergio.

"I don't like to see a player dismissed, but it's something that we cannot change. I don't know if Ramos' card is fair, I have to see it, but I'm not going to talk about that. I lost a player and I cannot be happy with that."







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