Sport Captain Lionel Messi provided the words of wisdom in the team-talk to inspire Argentina to victory

The Argentina captain delivered a compelling team-talk before Argentina won 4-2 in the penalty shootout, securing their place in the World Cup Final

Jonathan Edwards, who is chair of the 2012 athletes' panel, in an apartment bedroom in the Olympic village

London Eye: Where Beckham will meet Bolt - inside London's Olympic village

Athletes will find single beds and shared rooms in neat yet basic apartments in Stratford

Ruby Walsh celebrates winning the 2009 Gold Cup on Kauto Star

James Lawton: Once again, Ruby is set to be brightest star of the Festival firmament

No contemporary sportsman, not Messi, Pacquaio or Djokovic, has done more

They call him The Mad One – but there's method in Bielsa's madness

Athletic Bilbao's Argentinian coach has been to World Cups and won Olympic gold. But, as Tim Rich reports, he does it his way
Gareth Bale: The Spurs winger is frequently ‘kicked from pillar to post’, Harry Redknapp said

Bale not a diver but a victim of crude fouls, claims Redknapp

Harry Redknapp has dismissed suggestions that Gareth Bale is prone to diving, claiming instead that the Tottenham Hotspur winger deserves greater protection from referees.

Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring his - and Barcelona's - second goal

Sanchez puts Barca in driving seat

Bayer Leverkusen 1 Barcelona 3

Pepe appeared to stamp on the hand of Messi

The problem with Pepe is that he is just not very good

As if failing to beat Barcelona in their last seven home games against them and losing the last three "clasicos" were not enough, Real Madrid fans were yesterday recoiling at the thought that while their rivals have the world's most adored player ... they have the world's most abhorred.

Pepe feigns injury after a brush with Barcelona's Cesc Fabregas

Pepe's problem? He's not very good

Row over stamp masks defender's lack of talent as Barça outsmart Jose Mourinho's Real again

Barcelona have set up a final against Santos

Barcelona overpower Al-Sadd to reach Club World Cup final

Al-Sadd 0 Barcelona 4

Guardiola got the better of Mourinho at the weekend

Pep Guardiola in modest mood as Barcelona arrive for Club World Cup

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola resisted the temptation to bask in Saturday's electrifying 3-1 'Clasico' victory over Real Madrid after arriving in Japan for the Club World Cup.

Contrasting emotions for Cristiano Ronaldo (left) and the Barcelona players

James Lawton: Team player Messi shows sulky Ronaldo the way

It is not true that Real Madrid played Barcelona off the Bernabeu park in the first half before suffering their latest subjection in moments of sublime skill and one flash of outrageous misfortune.

Contrasting emotions for Cristiano Ronaldo (left) and the Barcelona players

James Lawton: Maestro Messi eclipses sulky Ronaldo

Although the gap is closing between Spain's big two, Barça's genius puts team ethic first, a trait still lacking in Real man

Phil Jones in action against Sweden

Sebastian Coe disputes Alex Ferguson view of Olympics football team

Sebastian Coe has insisted Sir Alex Ferguson's young stars could benefit from being part of the Great Britain Olympic football team.

Messi is congratulated by his captain Carles Puyol

Lionel Messi in sight of Barcelona record after hat-trick

Lionel Messi is 34 goals short of becoming Barcelona's all-time top scorer after netting a hat-trick in the Champions League last night, and the only real question left is when he will achieve that accolade and not if.

Wayne Rooney is the only English player nominated for the award

Wayne Rooney only Englishman short-listed for Fifa Ballon D'Or

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney is the only Englishman on the 23-man shortlist for the prestigious Ballon D'Or, which was released by FIFA this morning.

Levante captain Sergio Ballesteros was unable to keep his side top of La Liga

Little Levante finally brought back down to earth at Osasuna

It had to happen sooner or later. La Liga minnows Levante finally lost their first game of the season yesterday, 2-0 at Osasuna , ending their run of seven successive league wins, surrendering their position at the top of the table to Real Madrid, who battled to a 1-0 victory away at Real Sociedad on Saturday.

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there