MADRID (AP) Sevilla’s ambitious hopes of becoming a La Liga contender are beginning to materialize. With an inspired team not afraid of confronting the powerhouses, Sevilla has shown it’s ready to take the next step and seriously challenge Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Atletico Madrid. One game before the halfway mark in the Spanish league, the squad revitalized by coach Jorge Sampaoli is only a point behind leader Madrid, a team it defeated in impressive fashion on Sunday. The come-from-behind 2-1 win came thanks to another gritty performance by Sampaoli’s team, which has mixed high-intensity defense and a fast-paced attack to impose its style against opponents, no matter how strong they are.
A roundup of all of Monday’s action in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations… Ivory Coast 0-0 Togo OYEM, Gabon (AP) Ivory Coast’s Europe-based stars stumbled in the heat of northern Gabon in their African Cup of Nations opener, with the defending champion held by Togo to 0-0 on Monday in another twist to start the tournament. Ivory Coast’s title-winning coach fared worse as Congo beat Herve Renard’s Morocco 1-0 in the day’s second game. Congo, a team that was on strike and refusing to train two days ago, finished with nine men on the field and on top of Group D. Ivory Coast created few clear chances against Togo, with Wilfried Zaha‘s blocked shot in the second half after a clever run probably its best.
West Ham are said to be holding out for around $40 million for star player Dimitri Payet. Manager Slaven Bilic revealed that Payet, 29, has refused to play for the Hammers as he wants to push through a move away from the club. The Telegraph reports that Marseille president Jacques-Henri Eyraud flew to London on Monday to discuss a deal for Payet, who joined the Hammers from Marseille in the summer of 2015 for $13 million. The Hammers are said to be reluctant to sell Payet at all, but it’s obvious they’d rather sell him to a foreign club instead of strengthening one of their Premier League rivals. Payet’s quality is undoubted and he’s created more chances than any other player in the PL this season.