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.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Bruges
Lake Como
Burgundy
South AFrica
Paris
Northern Corsica
Prices correct as of 21 November 2014
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game