Sport Andres Iniesta trains with the Spain squad

The playmaker came through the ranks at Barcelona while van Gaal was manager at the Camp Nou and reserved praise of the highest order for the Dutch coach

What happens to Spain's football team if Catalonia breaks away?

So, Catalonia might secede from Spain. This is of course massive political and economic news. But the central question here - one thankfully addressed by First Post - is what would happen to Spain's all-conquering football team were the Catalans (i.e. Barcelona) to break away?

Andres Iniesta of Barcelona celebrates scoring the third goal with his teammates during the la Liga match between Levante UD and FC Barcelona

Barcelona equal best start to La Liga with entire team developed at academy

As well as equalling the best start to La Liga, Barcelona's 4-0 win at Levante on Sunday was an extra source of pride for the Catalan club as it was achieved playing with an entire team of players developed through their academy for most of the match.

Ronaldo soaks up the glory after scoring Madrid's late winner

Cristiano Ronaldo tops 50 million 'Likes' on Facebook

As well as celebrating his 100th cap for Portugal tomorrow night, Cristiano Ronaldo can revel in becoming the first sportsman to receive over 50 million 'Likes' on Facebook.

Despite Pepe’s best efforts, Sunday’s clasico was played in a good spirit

Messi and Ronaldo bring peace to clasico conflict

Even Pepe could not muster up a breach of the peace after the weekend's clasico left both Real Madrid and Barcelona in a peculiar state of mutual awe. The video nasties from previous seasons have traditionally made fertile ground for days of recrimination from both sides but Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi's brilliance overshadowed all inklings of post-match bitterness.

Despite Pepe’s best efforts, Sunday’s clasico was played in a good spirit

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo bring peace to el Clasico conflict

Mutual admiration for 'out of this world' duo even halts the feuding between Real and Barça

Michael Laudrup: 'if it's difficult to reach the top it's more difficult to stay there'

Laudrup is the new pass master of south Wales

It is in the Dane's blood to maintain the club's tradition of possession, he tells Ian Herbert

Javier Mascherano has been the driving force behind Barcelona's recent run

Javier Mascherano set to extend Barcelona contract

Javier Mascherano is on the verge of extending his contract with Barcelona until 2016.

<b>11. LIONEL MESSI </b><br/>
<b>Total earnings: </b>£24.9 million <br/>
<b>Salary/winnings: </b>£12.7 million <br/>
<b>Endorsements: </b>£12.2 million <br/>
Lionel Messi is now regarded as the best footballer in the World, slightly above Christiano Ronaldo. Messi broke the 39 year record for most goals in a European club season in 2012 when he finished the season having netted 73 times. He won FIFA player of the year three times and his biggest endorsement is from Adidas.

Bangor City striker Les Davies stunned by Uefa's best player in Europe nomination

Semi-professional Bangor City striker Les Davies admits his inclusion on the list for a top Uefa honour is “crazy but a great surprise”.

Bangor's Les Davies voted among Europe's best

Les Davies, a 27-year-old winger who is a cult hero for his club Bangor City, has made it on to the 32-man list of players nominated for Uefa's best player in Europe award.

The Spain players celebrate reaching yet another international tournament final

Spain reach final as Portugal pay the penalty

Portugal 0 Spain 0 (aet; Spain win 4-2 on penalties)

Andres Iniesta of Spain and Ivan Rakitic of Croatia compete for the ball during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match
Andres Iniesta of Spain and Ivan Rakitic of Croatia compete for the ball during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match

Spain leave it late to ensure top billing

Spain 1 Croatia 0

<b>Best off the bench – Jesus Navas </b><br/> Provided pace and width to the Spanish attack. Provided an excellent cross for Jordi Alba but struggled to have a large impact on the game. 6

Jesus Navas warns Republic of Ireland that Spain will go on the attack

Spain winger Jesus Navas has warned the Republic of Ireland the defending champions will attack from the off when the teams meet on Thursday.

Didier Drogba celebrates his goal

Chelsea produce smash-and-grab display to beat Barca

Chelsea 1 Barcelona 0

Tom Henning Ovrebo pictured officiating the Champions League semi-final between Chelsea and Barcelona

Referee Tom Henning Ovrebo admits mistakes in Chelsea's Champions League semi-final with Barcelona

Tom Henning Ovrebo, referee for Chelsea's 2009 Champions League semi-final against Barcelona, has admitted his mistakes cost Chelsea a place in the final and revealed he still receives death threats.

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