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

Balotelli urged to be patient amid worries over form and fitness

Mario Balotelli was frustrated with himself, rather than his manager, when he left the field after an hour of Manchester City's FA Cup win over Notts County, having felt that that he should not have missed out on goals. Balotelli's characteristically vivid expression of frustration – he threw his snood to the ground – was interpreted as a reaction to Roberto Mancini's decision to substitute him, though the 20-year-old is understood to feel that he had a poor game and that he missed out in a way that his team-mates did not.

Arsenal v Barcelona player ratings

Man-for-man marking from the Emirates Stadium

Xavi and Andres Iniesta hail Fifa winner Lionel Messi

Barcelona duo Xavi and Andres Iniesta both lauded club-mate Lionel Messi after tonight being pipped by the Argentinian to become the inaugural winner of the FIFA Ballon d'Or.

Argentina to meet Portugal at Emirates Stadium

Argentina will play a friendly international against Portugal in London on Feb. 9.

Barcelona trio Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta shortlisted for Fifa Ballon d'Or

Barcelona trio Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta have been shortlisted for the FIFA Ballon d'Or.

Javier Pastore likely to leave Palermo

Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini has given his strongest hint yet that Argentinian playmaker Javier Pastore will leave the club next summer.

Barcelona are better than Real Madrid says Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi thinks that Barcelona are still a better team than Real Madrid as the build-up to this month's El Clasico intensifies.

Lionel Messi better than Diego Maradona says Xavi

Barcelona talisman Xavi insists that team-mate Lionel Messi is better than Diego Maradona ever was.

Villa runs in the blood for new hero of the Holte End

Exciting young winger Marc Albrighton tells Sam Wallace about his love affair with the club he has supported since he was two

Palermo would not sell Pastore for €60m

Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini says that even a bid of 60million euros would not be enough to persuade him to sell Argentinian playmaker Javier Pastore.

Beauty and the Inferno by Roberto Saviano, trans. Oonagh Stransky

Success is a terrible disaster," wrote Malcolm Lowry after the acclaim that greeted Under the Volcano. Roberto Saviano felt the full force of that insight when the triumph of his first book, Gomorrah, a hallucinatory exploration of the world of the Camorra, the Neapolitan Mafia, led to plausible death threats from gangsters he had exposed, and an indefinite sentence to life under escort.

Messi returns for Barcelona's revenge mission against Rubin

Lionel Messi could return for Barcelona in tonight's Champions League match at Rubin Kazan with the Spanish champions determined not to repeat last year's costly mistake of taking the Russian side too lightly.

Hleb has raised Birmingham expectations

Alex McLeish admits he does have to manage expectations slightly when it comes to Alexander Hleb as the midfielder adjusts to life having swapped Barcelona for Birmingham.

Rooney shortlisted for Europe's best club player award

Wayne Rooney is the only Premier League player on the 12-man shortlist for Uefa's Club Footballer of the Year. Internazionale, who won the Champions League under Jose Mourinho, have five and Barcelona four.

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She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

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A fresh take on an old foe

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Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

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