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Barca’s Malcom out for two weeks with ankle injury
MADRID: FC Barcelona have confirmed that their Brazilian winger Malcom will be out of action for a fortnight with a twisted right ankle he suffered while playing against Cultural Leonesa in the Copa del Rey. The injury is much less serious than originally feared when the winger had to leave Wednesday night’s match in tears and in obvious distress. He had enjoyed a good performance in the game and scored the third goal of the night in the match that his side won 4-1 to reach the last 16 of the Spanish knockout tournament with a 5-1 aggregate score. The injury means Malcom will miss Liga Santander matches away to Espanyol and Levante and next week’s Champions League match at home to Tottenham, although Barca are already assured of finishing as winners of their group in that competition. In theory he could be fit for Barca’s last league game of the year at home to Celta on December 22nd, although the club could decide to rest him for the trip to face Getafe at the start of 2019. It took Malcom a long time to adapt to his new club after joining Barca from Bordeaux in the summer, and his adaptation wasn’t helped by another ankle injury in pre-season, but he had begun to impress and show himself as an alternative to players such as Phillipe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele and Rafinha, who is now out until the end of the season with a knee injury. (Xinhua)

Maradona better than Messi, says Pele
RIO DE JANEIRO: Argentine legend Diego Maradona was a better footballer than the country’s modern-day idol Lionel Messi, according to Pele. Barcelona forward Messi – a five-time winner of the Balon d’Or, awarded to the world’s best player – is not even rated in the top three of football’s greatest players by the 78-year-old Brazilian. “As far as I’m concerned, Maradona was one of the best players ever,” Pele said in an interview with the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper. “If you ask me, ‘Was he better than Messi?’ Yes, he was. Much better.” Said Pele. (Xinhua)

Barca advance in Copa del Rey
BARCELONA: FC Barcelona’s subs made the most of their chance during the second leg of a Copa del Rey round of 32 tie against humble Cultural Leones, powering the hosts to a 4-1 victory (5-1 on aggregate). Denis Suarez had a brace, while Malcom and Munir El Haddadi contributed a goal each during Wednesday’s game, reports Efe. Trailing 1-0 after the first leg in Leon, third-division Cultural treated the game as an opportunity to enjoy themselves on the big stage at Camp Nou, where they managed to create chances and even score a consolation goal. Mancebo forced a save from Barça goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen minutes before Munir put the hosts ahead 1-0 in the 18th minute. Munir went on to hit the post with another strike not long before Denis got his first of the night in the 26th minute. The third goal came in the 44th minute, when Malcom headed in a cross from Ivan Rakitic. Cultural’s brief flurry stirred Barcelona and Denis completed his brace to make the final 4-1.(IANS)

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