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Eric Abidal retires from playing football

Abidal won La Liga four times and Champions League twice with Barcelona. Credit: PA

Eric Abidal has retired from football after playing his last game for Olympiacos in Wednesday's 2-0 Greek league win over Panionios.

The former Barcelona and France defender recovered from a liver tumour in March 2011, undergoing a transplant and eventually receiving the green light to resume training in December 2012.

He rejoined Monaco in 2013 and moved to Olympiacos in the summer of 2014.

"I am proud to have been his coach this season," Olympiacos coach Michel told Nova TV. "Personal decisions are above those of the pitch."

Abidal will confirm his decision at a press conference on Friday.



Marco Reus taking Spanish lessons: for Barcelona or Real Madrid move?

German newspaper Bild reports that Borussia Dortmund star Marco Reus is taking Spanish lessons. Herr Reus is diligently preparing for a lucrative move to either Real Madrid or Barcelona. But which of the two giants will win his signature?

Marco Reus
Reus: heading to the Primera Liga. Credit: PA


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Messi hat-trick sinks Espanyol in Catalan derby

Lionel Messi. Credit: PA

Lionel Messi's hat-trick sparked Barcelona into life as they came from behind to thrash Espanyol 5-1 in the Catalan derby.

A day after Cristiano Ronaldo set a new Primera Division record for hat-tricks with 23, Messi grabbed one of his own to move up to 21 himself and secure local bragging rights for Barca in Catalonia.

Messi came to the rescue on the stroke of half-time to cancel out Sergio Garcia's opener for Espanyol, before adding his second five minutes later.

Gerard Pique made it three goals in eight minutes to put Barca firmly in control before Pedro added gloss to the scoreline and Messi turned it into a rout.

The win means that Barca, who also saw Real Madrid equal their record of 18 consecutive wins after their 3-0 triumph over Celta Vigo on Saturday, remain two points behind Los Blancos at the top of La Liga.

Iniesta happy to be back in action

Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta was delighted with his performance on his return from injury against Huesca on Wednesday.

The Spain international scored one goal and set up two others to guide Barca to a 4-0 triumph over their third division opponents in the last 16 of the Copa del Rey.

It's never easy to return after so long. But I got really good feelings from the game and this is the most important thing.

This gives me peace of mind.

When you play a football match, you always want to win and play well.

– Andres Iniesta speaking to


Enrique honoured to coach Messi

Barcelona boss Luis Enrique says he is honoured to be Lionel Messi's coach after the Argentinean became the top goalscorer in Primera Division history on Saturday night.

Messi bagged a treble to help Enrique's side complete a 5-1 win over Sevilla at the Nou Camp, as the forward overtook Telmo Zarra's scoring record with his 253rd goal in his 289th appearance.

I have never seen a player like Messi. I feel lucky to be his manager. Nobody can be compared to him. He's one-of-a-kind and we'll never see anyone like him ever again and we are privileged to have him and be able to watch him.

– Barcelona boss Luis Enrique.

Xavi planning for future in coaching

Barcelona and Spain great Xavi is already looking ahead to a career in coaching after his playing days come to an end.

The veteran midfielder is under contract with Barca until June 2016.

I don't have much time left to play, I am 34 and will turn 35 in January. I want to enjoy this stage and get as much from it, everyone tells me that it's the best one.

After retiring I would like to coach and learn English," Xavi said. "I don't know what the future will bring but I would like to be remain in football, and of course, with Barcelona.

We thought that perhaps it (this summer) was the best time to leave the club but in the end, the heart takes over.

– Xavi speaking to TV3
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