Talking Horses: in search of a title-clinching winning nap at Yarmouth

Thanks to Chris Corrigan’s 9-2 winner yesterday, The Guardian has hit the front in the Racing Post’s Naps table …

Oh Lordy, we’re top of the Naps Table with three days to go, thanks to Mr Corrigan’s 9-2 winner yesterday … You know those dreams where you’re playing in a Cup Final and you’re bearing down on goal and someone slides the ball across to you with just the keeper to beat from 15 yards out?

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Arsenal show mettle at last to set up FA Cup final with Chelsea – Football Weekly

The podders look back on two excellent Wembley FA Cup semi-finals. Plus: Crystal Palace win at Liverpool, Leo Messi’s 500th goal wins the clásico, and Leyton Orient fall out of the Football League

On the latest Football Weekly, AC Jimbo is joined by Barry Glendenning, Simon Burnton and Nick Miller to reflect on a weekend with, if anything, too much football.

We begin with the FA Cup, where Chelsea bested Best Team in the Land Tottenham 4-2 and Arsenal showed that they do have some spirit after all after beating Manchester City in extra-time.

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Pep Guardiola needs time to prove naysayers wrong at Manchester City | Jacob Steinberg

The City manager could be forgiven for regarding Sunday’s epic clásico with growing nostalgia but it was a reminder of the way systems can be torn apart by moments of individual brilliance

Should Pep Guardiola have happened to find himself in front of a television on Sunday night, he might have been drowned by a wave of nostalgia. A few hours after his lukewarm Manchester City team had unravelled at Wembley, a spectacular clásico was about to reach a stunning conclusion at the Bernabéu. The 10 men of Real Madrid had fought back from the dead to equalise with five minutes left and they were seconds away from all but ending Barcelona’s title hopes. They just had to resist one final, desperate attack. In fact, it was simpler than that. They just had to keep the ball away from Lionel Messi.

We all know what happened next. Sergi Roberto won possession deep in Barcelona’s half and the right-back ran and ran before moving the ball to André Gomes. Jordi Alba overlapped on the left and pulled the ball back and if his pass had found any other player, the game probably would have finished 2-2. Instead it found Messi. In a split second, the narrative had changed dramatically. The story was no longer about yet another Madrid comeback. Barcelona ended the night top of La Liga and while the goal owed plenty to Roberto’s surge, Gomes’s composure and Alba’s assist, only one player could have delivered the killer blow so nervelessly.

Related: Imperial age of Manchester City yet to dawn despite Pep Guardiola’s arrival | Paul Doyle

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Lionel Messi ‘slays dragon’ with a fitting finale to wild and wonderful clásico | Sid Lowe

There were countless sub-plots, players and stories to highlight after Barcelona’s 3-2 win at Real Madrid. But above all – way, way above all – there was Messi

Lionel Messi had a black eye, a bloody mouth and his Barcelona shirt in his hands. The board had gone up signalling two minutes left in the clásico: not enough for anyone – this was the game that should have gone on for ever – but just enough for another twist, even later and more dramatic than the first. It was 2-2, James Rodríguez putting Real Madrid within touching distance of the title five minutes from time, and Barcelona had a throw-in down in the south-east corner of the Bernabéu. The clock had read 91.27: 33 seconds and 100 metres to go; 26 seconds later, Messi stood in the north-west corner celebrating the goal that changed everything. Behind him, Dani Carvajal beat the ground with his fists, wondering how the hell it had happened.

Here’s how.

Related: Lionel Messi sinks Real Madrid in thriller to keep Barcelona in race

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The Milanese malaise plumbs new depths of calamity in Serie A | Paolo Bandini

Sixth place is just about all that Inter or Milan can aspire to after the Nerazzurri went down 5-4 at Fiorentina and the Rossoneri lost at home to Empoli

For Serie A’s 20 clubs, the finish line is in sight. The two representing the city of Milan, however, might be starting to wonder what race they have even been running. They had presumed for many months to be part of that elite group chasing after a Champions League berth. Instead, at the end of this gruelling marathon, they find themselves contesting a prize that hardly seems worth winning.

Sixth place is just about all that Inter or Milan can aspire to, after a weekend in which they each hit new depths of calamity. Their prize (barring an implausible collapse from Coppa Italia finalists Lazio, which would offer fresh opportunities to climb higher in any case) would be a spot in the Europa League’s third qualifying round.

Related: Werder Bremen in Kruse control with unlikely European spot beckoning | Andy Brassell

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Werder Bremen in Kruse control with unlikely European spot beckoning | Andy Brassell

Nobody is expecting Max Kruse to really become an angel, but seeing him in the white of Germany doesn’t seem that daft any more

Perhaps, in years to come, it will be looked upon as one of the anomalies in the history of collectible football toys. When the DfB commissioned Lego figures of Germany’s Euro 2016 squad, the list was compiled months before Jogi Löw made his final choices. So alongside Manuel Neuer, Thomas Müller and Mario Götze was a figure of the injured Marco Reus, for example.

There is also one in the collection that sticks out if you look at Lego’s squad today, or if you’re browsing for spares on eBay – that of No23, one Max Kruse. Dropped by Löw last March following a string of off-field controversies including (but not limited to) leaving €75,000 in cash in the back of a taxi after a poker tournament, nightclub rows and his then-coach Dieter Hecking chiding him for excessive Nutella consumption, it seems astonishing that Kruse was ever in the mix to go to France.

Related: Carlo Ancelotti laments Bayern’s off-day as 2-2 Mainz draw gives RB Leipzig hope

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