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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Struggling Milan Faces Long-Term Slump

ROME -- Out-of-form Italian soccer champions AC Milan may be in for another uncomfortable game Sunday, at home to second-placed Vicenza. Milan has lost six out of 15 league games to drop to ninth place in the table.


A 3-0 away defeat by Lazio last Sunday probably represented a low point in a miserable season for a side accustomed to dominating Italian and European soccer.


Coach Arrigo Sacchi believes his side needs a radical overhaul, telling reporters in midweek: "Some of my players bear no blame for the way things have gone, others a great deal of blame ... In five months, this team has lost 10 games, almost 50 percent of its matches.


"Obviously, if you lose that often then the problems are serious and if we can find a way out of this [crisis] at all, it will certainly not be a short-term way out."


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League leaders Real Madrid will take a 2-1 advantage to Valladolid for the second leg of their third-round Spanish Cup tie thanks to a rare headed goal by international defender Rafael Alkorta in Thursday's first leg.


The victory was a poor reward for Fabio Capello's side, which dominated the second half after seeing Valladolid's Raul Ibanez equalize a 15th-minute effort by Croatian striker Davor Suker.


On Sunday, Real visit struggling Extremadura. It will be a huge event in the remote rural town of Almendralejo, whose 25,000 inhabitants would fit more than four times into Real's Santiago Bernabeu stadium.


Real's rival, Barcelona, is anticipating a goal avalanche when it plays at home against bottom-but-one Hercules.


Anything less than a massacre could anger one of Europe's most demanding crowds.


Barca supporters booed their star-studded team when Extremadura left the Camp Nou with only a 3-0 defeat two months ago.


Since then Barcelona have lost their way, giving up an unbeaten record in successive defeats at Athletic Bilbao and then going down 2-0 in the old firm game against Real Madrid.