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Football: Former Barca boss Vilanova has emergency surgery - media

Former Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova, who is battling throat cancer, has undergone emergency surgery, Spanish media reported on Thursday. Vilanova has been battling cancer for over two years and was forced to step down as Barca boss last July. Spanish National Radio reported that Vilanova was admitted to hospital last Friday and is in serious condition following the surgery to alleviate gastric problems. Vilanova was Pep Guardiola's assistant during a glorious four-year spell for Barcelona between 2008 and 2012 during which the club won 14 trophies.

Football: Valencia next up on Atletico title charge

Atletico Madrid can take another huge step towards their first La Liga title in 18 years when they travel to face Valencia at the Mestalla on Sunday. Diego Simeone's men need to win just three of their remaining four games to mathematically seal the championship. However, Simeone's task this weekend is complicated by one of his side's most difficult away trips of the season falling between the two legs of Atletico's Champions League semi-final against Chelsea.

Football: Sevilla down Valencia to edge towards final

Sevilla took a huge step towards reaching the Europa League final as they beat La Liga rivals Valencia 2-0 at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on Thursday. The hosts went ahead in controversial circumstances as Stephane Mbia backheeled the ball into the roof of the net despite clearly being in an offside position before Carlos Bacca doubled Sevilla's advantage soon after. Valencia were thankful to goalkeeper Vicente Guaita for not falling further behind as he made fine saves from Federico Fazio and Bacca.

Real Madrid survives Bayern onslaught to win 1-0

Madrid, Apr 23 (EFE).- Real Madrid defeated Bayern Munich 1-0 here Wednesday in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal, surviving an offensive onslaught from the squad that won Europe's top club competition last year. Spain's King Juan Carlos was in the stands along with 85,000 spectators as Santiago Bernabeu stadium played host to a Champions semifinal showdown for the fourth consecutive year.

Football: Madrid 'athletes' too much for Bayern, admits Guardiola

Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola said his side had struggled to contain Real Madrid's pace on the counter-attack as Los Blancos secured a 1-0 advantage from the first leg of their Champions League semi-final on Wednesday. Karim Benzema scored the only goal of the game on 19 minutes from one of a series of Madrid counter-attacks in the first-half that caught the European champions wanting at the back.

FIFA to let Barça sign players pending sanctions appeal

Madrid, Apr 23 (EFE).- FIFA, soccer's world governing body, said Wednesday that it will allow FC Barcelona to sign players pending resolution of the club's appeal against a 12-month signing ban for infractions related to the international transfer and registration of players under 18. The chairman of the Appeal Committee, Larry Mussenden, agreed to suspend the sanctions in light of "the complexity of the matter," FIFA said in a statement.

Football: FIFA suspends Barcelona transfer ban

FIFA on Wednesday suspended a ban on Barcelona signing players while the club makes an appeal against a 14-month transfer ban. World football's governing body, which imposed the sanction this month for breaching rules on the registration of minors, announced in a statement that the ban would be temporarily suspended allowing Barca to sign players during the summer transfer window which opens on July 1. The club welcomed the move.

Football: Guardiola hoping Bayern focus rekindled for Real test

Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola said his side must show the form that carried them to a 24th Bundesliga title last month when they face Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday. The European champions sealed the title without so much as losing a game as they amassed a 53-game unbeaten streak in the Bundesliga before suffering consecutive defeats to Augsburg and Borussia Dortmund earlier this month.

Football: Real Madrid v Bayern Munich factfile

Factfile on Real Madrid and Bayern Munich ahead of the Champions League semi-final, first leg between the clubs at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday: Form: Both sides already have a trophy in the cabinet this season as Real claimed the Copa del Rey last week with a 2-1 win over Barcelona, Gareth Bale scoring a stunning winning goal.

Football: Nigeria striker Uche waits on World Cup fate

Villarreal striker Ikechukwu Uche will learn on Tuesday whether he will be left off Nigeria's World Cup squad. National team coach Stephen Keshi has accused Uche of being "tactically indisciplined" and has snubbed him since last year's Africa Cup of Nations triumph in South Africa. The 30-year-old Uche has been one of Nigeria's most reliable strikers, with 18 goals in 44 matches for the country. He has scored 12 goals in the Spanish La Liga this season.
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