dinsdag 31 januari 2012

Transfers news

AC Milan complete signing of Maxi Lopez from Catania
The Argentine forward has joined the Rossoneri, a development which appears to confirm that the Italian champions have finally given up on signing his compatriot Carlos Tevez

Maxi Lopez - Catania (Getty Images)
AC Milan have completed the signing of Maxi Lopez from Catania, suggesting Carlos Tevez's proposed move to San Siro from Manchester City has collapsed.

The Italian champions have long had an agreement in place to sign Lopez, but even after the player had met with CEO Adriano Galliani Friday lunchtime it was still unclear if the deal would go through because of the club's continued attempts to land City striker Tevez.

However, Galliani maintained that the situation would be resolved by 19:00CET and shortly after that deadline, Milan Channel revealed that the club had registered Lopez as a Rossoneri player.

It has not yet been confirmed if Milan have abandoned their pursuit of Tevez and it was reported by both Sky Sport Italia and Gazzetta dello Sport less than a couple of hours before the Lopez announcement that Galliani had made a last-ditch plea to City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak to allow the forward to leave.

Milan had appeared near-certainties to land Tevez during the current transfer window having already agreed terms with the player, who, according to Galliani, only wanted to join the Rossoneri in spite of interest from Inter and Paris Saint-Germain.

However, they seemingly ended their pursuit of the player following Alexandre Pato's decision to turn down a move to PSG earlier this month, but Inter then had a bid rejected for Tevez, while PSG broke off negotiations five days ago and Milan then re-entered the race.

The 27-year-old forward has not played for City since allegedly refusing to come on as a substitute in the English outfit's Champions League defeat by Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena earlier this season.

Inter to sign Fredy Guarin from Porto - report
The Colombia international was also linked with Juventus in recent weeks but he now appears set to join the Nerazzurri on loan with a permanent deal in the summer likely

Freddy Guarin - Porto (Getty Images)

Inter are reportedly poised to complete the signing of Fredy Guarin from Porto, casting further doubt over the future of Thiago Motta at San Siro.

According to Sky Sport24, the Nerazzurri will pay an initial €1.5 million (£1.25m) to take the Colombia international on loan until the end of the season with a view to signing the player on a permanent transfer in June for €11m (£9.2m).

Guarin had also been linked with Serie A leaders Juventus in recent weeks but the Bianconeri's acquisition of Uruguayan defender Martin Caceres from Sevilla on Friday meant that they had no room left in their squad for another non-European Union player.

Consequently, the midfielder seems bound for San Siro and that could mean Paris Saint-Germain target Thiago Motta, who was left out of the Nerazzurri squad for Sunday's clash with Lecce, could well be on his way to the French capital before the transfer window closes on Tuesday night.

Guarin, meanwhile, is under contract to Porto until 2014 but has become increasingly frustrated by a lack of game time at the Dragao this season.

Fiorentina confirm signing of Amauri from Juventus
The forward was frozen out of the Bianconeri squad following the arrival of new coach Antonio Conte last summer and has finally secured a move away from Turin

Amauri (Getty Images)
Fiorentina have confirmed the signing of Amauri from Serie A rivals Juventus on a temporary basis.
The 31-year-old, who was frozen out of the Bianconeri squad following the arrival of Antonio Conte as coach last summer, had also been linked with Roma in recent weeks.

However, Fiorentina sporting director Pantaleo Corvino revealed last week that they had reached an agreement with Juve for the player and the Viola announced the completion of the deal on their official website on Tuesday.

"Fiorentina announces that they have acquired from Juventus, on a temporary basis, the services of the forward Amauri Carvalho de Oliveira," a statement read. 

Fiorentina have been looking to strengthen their forward line after selling Alberto Gilardino to Genoa earlier this month.

Amauri has been surplus to requirements at Juve for a long time now and spent the second half of last season on loan at Parma.

The striker scored just 17 league goals in 71 appearances for the Old Lady following his arrival from Palermo in 2008.


Caceres to join Juventus

Sevilla defender Martin Caceres will undergo a medical today in Turin before completing his transfer to Juventus, the Spanish club have confirmed.

Caceres is expected to move to Juve on loan until the end of the season with an option to make his stay permanent for a reported €10 million.

A statement from Sevilla read: "Martin Caceres has travelled today to Turin to undergo a medical in the next few hours with Juventus. If the medical is successful, the player will then proceed to sign the documents to become a player of the Italian club.''

The South American will become Juve's first signing in this transfer window. Caceres spent the 2009-10 campaign on loan at Juventus from Barcelona, but the Italians opted not to acquire his sporting rights after an injury-plagued campaign.

However, the Serie A leaders revived their interest in the 24-year-old defender after Caceres' solid performances for Sevilla this season.

Source: ESPN

Arsenal close in on £400,000 signing of Borussia Dortmund midfielder Thomas Eisfeld after holding talks in London

The 19-year-old playmaker will complete a move to London in the next 24 hours if he passes a stringent medical

Borussia Dortmund, Thomas Eisfeld
Arsenal are in advanced talks to sign midfielder Thomas Eisfeld from Borussia Dortmund for around £400,000

The 19-year-old German has been in London today with his agent Reza Fazeli negotiating a switch to the Premier League club.

Eisfeld, who is a product of Dortmund’s academy and has found his path to the first team blocked by the likes of German sensation Mario Gotze, is set to to complete a move to Arsenal in the next 24 hours if he passes what is expected to be a stringent medical.

The teenager's development has been hindered by keee problems - he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in 2009 - and he will be put through his paces at the club’s London Colney training ground before signing a long-term contract.

It is not known whether Eisfeld, who only turned 19 earlier this month, will go straight into the first-team set-up or start off with Arsenal’s academy. He has played most of his football for Dortmund’s Under-19 team this season, where he has been the team's leading scorer, with six goals from 12 games.

Arsenal have taken advantage of the youngster’s availability – he is out of contract in the summer – to prise the highly-rated young playmaker from Germany.

The Premier League club are likely to have to pay a compensation fee of around £400,000 to Dortmund for developing Eisfeld.

Had he stayed in Germany, Eisfeld would have faced strong competition for a place, with the Bundesliga champions having signed midfielders Moritz Leitner, Leonardo Bittencourt and Mustafa Amini over the course of the last 12 months.

Liverpool sign Wales under-19 goalkeeper Danny Ward from Wrexham
The youngster had yet to make an appearance in the Blue Square Premier side's first team but will now link up with the Reds' reserve squad

Danny Ward

Liverpool have signed Wales under-19 international goalkeeper Danny Ward from Wrexham.
The young shot-stopper, who joined Wrexham as a 14-year-old, has penned a permanent deal with the Reds after joining for a fee believed to be in the region of £100k.
Ward made a one-off loan appearance for Wrexham's Blue Square rivals Tamworth last season, making his senior debut and being awarded with man of the match recognition for his performance.

Internationally, Ward has played at schoolboy, under-17s and under-19s level for his country and featured in a UEFA qualifying tournament based in Slovakia in September 2011.

Ward is set to become a part of the club's reserve squad.


Chelsea on verge of signing Genk winger Kevin de Bruyne

Kevin de Bruyne
Kevin de Bruyne has two caps for Belgium's national side and has been a regular for Genk since 2010

Chelsea will complete the £6.7m signing of Kevin de Bruyne from Genk in the next 24 hours, with the winger to return to the Belgian club on loan for the remainder of the campaign.
De Bruyne, a long-standing target for the Londoners, is undergoing a medical today and will sign a five-and-a-half-year contract at Stamford Bridge. The 20-year-old featured for the Belgians against Chelsea in the Champions League this season and is cup-tied in the competition, with his new employers keen for him to benefit from further first-team action to speed his development. He is also expected to be loaned out to another club, most likely not in Belgium, next season.
André Villas-Boas confirmed last week that De Bruyne, a full Belgium international, had been targeted prior to his own arrival at the club last summer, with his signing reflective of Chelsea's established drive to recruit the most promising young talent on the continent. The likes of Romelu Lukaku and Thibaut Courtois, who is currently on loan at Atlético Madrid and could remain there next term, have also joined from Belgian football. "Kevin's a target that was decided by the club, that I knew about for quite some time," said the Portuguese. "He was under the scrutiny of the club for some time and we've been following this player.
"Romelu Lukaku was the same, and Petr Cech was the same when I arrived in 2004 [as part of José Mourinho's backroom staff]. In the sense that the club policy for the future, it's the right thing [to buy him] and I'll do everything in my power for him to reach maximum potential. But his purchase is down to the club in decision-making, not to me.
"This player, this specific case, is like Lukaku and Cech and part of a long-term policy. It paid off with Cech. Lukaku will eventually pay off in the future given the talent he has. We're trying to get young players and the right players at the right age. I have to raise their potential. Hopefully I can do that, as a professional at the club. I can promote talent through the club."

Manchester City reject Liverpool's Andy Carroll for Carlos Tevez offer

Liverpool offered Andy Carroll to Manchester City in a straight swap for Carlos Tevez

Liverpool have made a remarkable bid to swap Andy Carroll with Carlos Tevez and move on their club-record £35m signing not even a year after signing him from Newcastle United.
The Anfield club contacted City on Thursday to ask how much they want for Tevez and whether they would be willing to contemplate a straight exchange with Carroll. Brian Marwood, the City football administrator, rebuffed the idea immediately, even though Carroll is a player Roberto Mancini has admitted admiring when he was at Newcastle.
The move demonstrates how Liverpool are now openly looking at offloading Carroll despite the insistence behind the scenes at Anfield that he can still play a prominent part and Kenny Dalglish's praise for the player after the 2-1 FA Cup defeat of Manchester United.
Carroll has scored only six goals in 35 appearances since becoming the eighth most expensive footballer in history and has not even been able to establish himself as a regular starter this season.
His problems adapting on Merseyside have also left Liverpool willing to take a £10m hit on the player, with Tevez valued at £25m, though that revelation is hardly surprising considering his difficulties at Anfield, added to the sense that he has not always been fully focused.
Fabio Capello, the England manager, has already expressed misgivings about the lifestyle of a player who has managed only two league goals this season in 20 appearances.
Those remarks went down badly at Anfield, with Dalglish defending Carroll, but the questions will probably not go away until he becomes a regular scorer. Carroll's longest run of starts this season is three games and Marwood's decision was made on the basis that he could no longer improve their team even though Mancini has a shortage of front players at a time when Tevez's strike is in its 11th week and Mario Balotelli is now serving a four-match suspension.
Tevez is planning to return to Manchester next week now it has become apparent that Milan are not able to meet City's asking price and, unless anything changes before Tuesday's transfer deadline, his adviser, Kia Joorabchian, says the Argentinian wants to re-establish himself in the team.
Whether that is possible remains to be seen, with Mancini not prepared to entertain the idea unless there is an apology from Tevez for walking out on the club and the string of other offences that have already led to him being found guilty of gross misconduct and losing almost £10m in wages, fines and lost bonuses since the start of the season.
Tevez is still a formidable striker and finished as the league's joint-top scorer last season, but he will be returning to England with a severely damaged reputation and Liverpool's attempt to take him along the M62 will surprise many people given his propensity for causing dressing-room problems and an apparent dislike of living in England.
There is also the fact that, approaching his 28th birthday, he would not have fitted into Liverpool's usual policy of buying players at a young age who will keep a resale value over the course of their contract. Liverpool, however, were willing to make an exception and City would have been glad to arrange a deal after unsuccessful talks not just with Milan but also Juventus, Internazionale and Paris St-Germain. They remain open to offers for the Argentinian but will not change their mind about Carroll.

Source: the guardian

maandag 30 januari 2012

Big day today for the football world: Tranfers!

Tranfers deadline tonight!

Football transfers

Dimitar Berbatov, Fernando Torres or Thiago Motta - Which players could be moving on transfer deadline day?
Despite a relatively quiet January so far, the end to the transfer window could still hold some surprises, Jim Knight takes a look at some of the contenders for a move

The clock is ticking on the transfer window and while we’re still awaiting 2012’s big money moves.

Their "To Leave in the Transfer Window" market will be in-play from 9am until the 11pm cut-off on deadline day, so if the January breeze brings a rumour your way, there’ll be ample opportunity to make it pay.

Despite Claudio Ranieri’s insistence, the bookies still name Thiago Motta among their favourites to jump ship, with Filippo Inzaghi also short priced as he mulls over a move to Lazio. 

At odds against you’ll find Belgian prodigy Eden Hazard, who claims he won’t be Premier League bound until the summer; Dimitar Berbatov, following his FA Cup snub; and one-time Ballon d’Or winner, Kaka.

Fernando Torres was 8/1 (9.0) to move as of Monday morning but with the Spanish hitman still struggling for form a year on from his £50 million switch, would Chelsea be prepared to cut their losses if an offer arrived? 

EPL: Fernando Torres, Wigan  v Chelsea

Also among the outside bets is another much-coveted midfielder in Mario Gotze, though reports of contract talks have been behind Dortmund’s determination to keep their prize asset. England striker Andy Carroll and Brazilian Ganso would also offer healthy returns to punters tipping his departure.

So, let's wait and see!!!

Premier League news

Captain fantastic - Robin van Persie reinforces leadership skills to haul Arsenal back from precipice & quieten the boo boys
Dutch master leads from the front with two emphatic penalties on an uplifting afternoon in which he inspired team-mates on and off the pitch

EPl,Robin Van Persie,Norwich City v Arsenal

Whether or not Arsene Wenger pointed a revolver at his players’ heads at half-time, without the ammunition provided by Robin van Persie there would have been no epic second-half comeback on another madcap afternoon at Arsenal.
Captain fantastic showed great composure to slot away two penalties, one in each corner of Shay Given’s net, to start and complete his team’s revival and haul them back from the FA Cup precipice.

But there was more to the flying Dutchman’s work than steely nerve and unerring accuracy from 12 yards. He was also a source of inspiration both on the pitch and away from the TV cameras and the eyes of Arsenal’s increasingly impatient supporters.

Revealingly, Theo Walcott said afterwards that Van Persie played an important role in lifting the players’ morale during the 15-minute recess, reminding them not only how victory was still within their grasp but how significant a passage to the fifth round of the Cup could be to the team’s rollercoaster season.

In the second half, the No.10 threw himself into the task of changing the outcome of the result, as well as the restless atmosphere in N5. He snapped at the heels of his opponents, linked cleverly with Arsenal’s midfield runners and moved Villa’s shell-shocked defenders out of position.

It appeared to be Van Persie’s personal mission to exorcise the gloom generated by three league defeats on the spin, not to mention the trophy drought that, in defining matches, acts like a lead weight around the shoulders of the players.

The player who was rested from the third round triumph over Leeds United behaved like stage two of the old competition was the most important encounter of the season. He visibly encouraged his team-mates, leading by both word and deed. When he scored the third goal, he leaped into the arms of his manager.

Arsenal’s pain has become Van Persie’s pain. Their joy has become his joy. He cares. Deeply. The rebellious but extravagantly gifted youngster who spent his early years at Arsenal picking as many fights as he accumulated injuries has become the heartbeat and standard-bearer of the team.

The armband is not just a symbol of his seniority or superior talent. He considers it a responsibility, something to be cherished and a force for fostering good. For him, the Arsenal captaincy is not an ego trip or a vehicle for enhanced commercial exposure.

There used to be a sense among the coaching staff that Van Persie played too much for himself. Yes, he was capable of the most ridiculous pieces of skill, but there were too many attempts at scene-stealing moments.

Not anymore. He has matured into the consummate centre-forward who, not only scores goals for fun, but can play with his head up or his back to goal. His touch is velcro, the movement slippery and he can score all types of goals – right foot, in the air, inside the six-yard box, from distance and all angles. The left foot, of course, is capable of both murderous power and the most delicate precision.

Van Persie’s two second-half penalties against Villa took his haul for the season to 25 goals in 29 Arsenal games, which would be an astounding record for a pure predator never mind one who is a creator as well as a finisher of goals. In the process, he took his tally for the club to 120, joining another Dutch master, Dennis Bergkamp.

The mysterious injuries have dried up, too. Whether it is because of a more individualistic training regime or a better knowledge of his own explosive skills, Van Persie has stayed fit for over 12 months.

The 28-year-old has always been an opinionated and outspoken figure in the dressing room. He is Dutch, after all.

But, with the greying of the temples has come greater wisdom. His colleagues have responded this season to his spirit and passion since he replaced Cesc Fabregas as skipper. The dressing room is said to be a happier and less factionalised place.

Van Persie has taken responsibility for organising team get-togethers, while his wife Bouchra is said to be conduit for many of the social activities of the Arsenal WAGS.

Yet the elephant in the room is the future of the captain and talisman. He turns 29 in August, when he will have entered the final year of his contract, and has made it clear to the club that he will not discuss new terms until the end of the season.

Van Persie had a strong negotiating position when he made that decision last September. He holds all the aces now.

The player’s representatives are all too well aware that he can double his money at one of Europe’s biggest spenders, never mind increase his chances of having some silverware to polish.

Yet Van Persie’s commitment to adding to a solitary FA Cup medal in 2005 remains total. There is no sense of him taking his foot off the pedal or saving himself for another employer, as others have done before him, both at Arsenal and elsewhere.

You sense his burning desire to turn the last seven years into something more tangible than a place in the Champions League draw, however significant that is to the club’s bean-counters.

Van Persie wants glory and has the armoury to achieve it. On an uplifting afternoon, he proved he has the capacity to inspire the deeds of others, too.

Chelsea captain John Terry out of Swansea match with knee injury
England skipper has been suffering from fluid in the knee sustained against Portsmouth when he collided with the goal post, but should be back for game against Manchester United

FA Cup,John Terry,Queens Park Rangers v Chelsea

Chelsea captain John Terry will miss the club's Premier League clash with Swansea City because of a knee injury he picked up in the third round of the FA Cup against Portsmouth.

The England international has fluid in his knee joint after colliding with the goal post while clearing the ball off the line, and despite playing through the pain in recent weeks he will now miss the game against Premier League newcomers Swansea.

"It's just a bone oedema that he has been carrying for some time since he collided with a post, and this stops him a little bit," Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas told Chelsea TV.

"It's nothing serious but something to keep an eye on. He has had an MRI before and he should be okay for [Sunday's game against] Man United."

The news creates an opportunity for new signing Gary Cahill to make his first appearance for the club since his £7 million move to Stamford Bridge from Bolton.

"We have a lot of positions covered of course because of our squad, we have Gary [Cahill] and David [Luiz] available and competing and hopefully we can make the right decision."

Villas-Boas also spoke of other absentees, including Frank Lampard, John Ob-Mikel and Ramires, who suffered medial ligament damage during Saturday's 1-0 victory over QPR in the FA Cup.

"It's unfortunate for the team; 'Rami' is one of the most used players of the team with excellent individual performances and always helping the team to get results," Villas-Boas said.

"With what could have happened, it's just good news that he will be out for a short amount of time. Hopefully he will be available for the Napoli game, and hopefully before.

"On another front, Mikel will be out of the game and 'Lamps' still out. Frank's rehabilitation is going well, we are trying to reintroduce him gradually to the first-team activities.

"Frank felt that it was still a little bit soon to come back and went on to work with the physios, so hopefully after Swansea we will get him ready for the Man United game."


Futebol Brasileiro (Brazilian Football)

Roberto Carlos anuncia aposentadoria: "vou parar este ano"

Lateral de 38 anos diz para jornal que carreira de 23 anos se encerrará em 2012

Aos poucos, boa parte da geração de jogadores que marcaram a Seleção Brasileira nos anos 90 vai deixando os gramados. Dos protagonistas, Taffarel já está aposentado há algum tempo, assim como Dunga, que até já voltou como técnico da Seleção de 2006 a 2010. Mais recentemente, Ronaldo se aposentou e Rivaldo está em vias de fazer. O novo personagem da turma é Roberto Carlos, atualmente no Anzhi da Rússia que anunciou ao Marca que se aposentará em 2012:

- Vai ser em junho ou em dezembro. Ainda não decidi a data exata, mas será neste ano - disse o lateral.

Um dos maiores laterais esquerdo de todos os tempos, Roberto Carlos sai dos campos após 23 anos de uma carreira gloriosa dedicada ao futebol. Revelado pelo União São João, de Araras, interior de São Paulo, o lateral tem passagens por Palmeiras, Internazionale, Real Madrid, Fenerbahce, Corinthians e Anzhi. Pela Seleção, são 125 jogos, um dos recordistas. Títulos? Não faltam: Pentacampeão do mundo em 2002, bi da Copa América em 1997 e 1999, Copa das Confederações em 1999, pela Seleção. Três Champions League pelo Real Madrid, quatro campeonatos espanhóis, além de dois títulos brasileiros pelo Palmeiras.

Roberto Carlos assinará um contrato vitalício com o Anzhi e ajudará o time russo a crescer no mundo do futebol.

Luis Fabiano para por até três semanas e não enfrenta o Corinthians

Atacante teve um estiramento de grau 1 na coxa direita

Depois do goleiro Rogério Ceni, o São Paulo não poderá contar com mais um destaque nas próximas rodadas do Campeonato Paulista. O atacante Luis Fabiano sofreu um estiramento de grau 1 na coxa direita no primeiro tempo do confronto contra o São Caetano e deverá desfalcar o time de duas a três semanas.

Sendo assim, o Fabuloso não estará à disposição do técnico Emerson Leão pará o clássico contra o Corinthians, que acontecerá no dia 12 de fevereiro, às 17h, no Pacaembu, pela sétima rodada do Campeonato Paulista.

Além do Majestoso, o camisa 9 deve ficar fora contra Guarani, Ponte Preta, Comercial e Paulista de Jundiaí.

Fonte: Sambafoot


2a Rodada 

 Botafogo 2 x 1 XV de Piracicaba
 Mirassol 1 x 1 Catanduvense
  Paulista 3 x 0 Comercial
Oeste 2 x 3 São Paulo
 Ponte Preta 5 x 1 Bragantino
 Palmeiras 1 x 1 Portuguesa
Guaratinguetá 0 x 2 Corinthians
Linense 3 x 3 São Caetano
Mogi Mirim 3 x 0 Guarani
Santos 2 x 1 Ituano

Brazil legend Roberto Carlos

Brazilian legend Roberto Carlos to call time on playing career by the end of the year
The former Real Madrid defender has still been lining out for Anzhi Makhachkala but beginning next year he will focus solely on his coaching role with the Russian club

Russian Premier League: Roberto Carlos (Anzhi)

Brazil legend Roberto Carlos has announced that he will retire from the game at the end of the year.

The former Real Madrid and Inter left-back has been lining out as a defensive midfielder with Anzhi Makhachkala of late but has decided that he will focus solely on his coaching role with the Russian club from 2013 on.

The man responsible for one of the most extraordinary free-kicks in history against France in 1997, in an interview with Globoesporte, explained that he now feels ready to hang up his boots and insisted that he would not reverse his decision.

Roberto Carlos began his illustrious playing career with Uniao Sao Joao but it was with Palmeiras that he made his name and he secured a move to Inter in 1995.

The defender only spent one season at San Siro, though, before joining Real Madrid, with whom he firmly established himself as one of the most exciting full-backs the game has ever seen.

He made 370 league appearances for Los Blancos, scoring 47 goals, before leaving for Fenerbahce in 2007.

Roberto Carlos returned home in 2010 to link up with Corinthians before taking up the opportunity to join Anzhi last year.


Tables from 5 European Countries

Results from last weekend matches

Premier League

La Liga

 Serie A



zondag 29 januari 2012

Liga - Barca suffer title blow at Villarreal

Barcelona allowed the gap between themselves and great rivals Real Madrid to widen to seven points after being held to a 0-0 draw by Villarreal at El Madrigal.

Lionel Messi - 0

The Catalans may have ended Madrid's defence of the Copa del Rey on Wednesday night but their chances of holding onto their league title appear slim after another frustrating evening on their travels.
Cesc Fabregas hit the bar in the second half, while Villarreal defended admirably and goalkeeper Diego Lopez made a number of key saves. Ultimately, against a side battling relegation, Pep Guardiola's side were unable to match Madrid's earlier victory over Real Zaragoza.
Poor away form has dogged Barcelona all season in La Liga - they had won only four in nine prior to kick-off - and Guardiola's side again looked somewhat unconvincing at El Madrigal.
Lionel Messi - flanked by the unfamiliar figures of Adriano and Dani Alves due to injuries in the Barca squad - was also under par and wasted an early chance when volleying wildly off target after he had cleverly dinked the ball over his marker.
After Gerard Pique had called Lopez into action with a firm header from a corner, Messi was presented with an even more inviting chance. Alves picked him out with a superb pass and the forward let the ball run before lifting it over Lopez. It was the kind of finish he usually executes so perfectly but the ball bounced just wide of the far post.
Having held off Barca's early advances, lowly Villarreal grew in confidence. Just before the half-hour mark, Victor Valdes collided with Pique when trying to punch clear from a free kick and the ball flew towards goal, forcing Javier Mascherano to make a brave clearance on the line before Eric Abidal blocked the follow-up shot.
Barca were exposed one again on 35 minutes when Cani opened up their defence with a masterful ball over the top for Marco Ruben. However, the striker put his foot through the ball and smacked it high over the bar after holding off Carles Puyol.
Marcos Senna was then denied by an acrobatic save from Valdes before, from the following corner, an offside flag denied Gonzalo as he headed into the Barcelona goal.
Barcelona were struggling to display their usual precocity, although before half time Messi did produce one staggering pass with his toe to find Fabregas, who ruined the chance when taking a heavy touch.
Within three minutes of the restart Villarreal should have had the chance to take the lead. Valero broke away from Sergio Busquets in the box and drew the Barcelona midfielder into a clumsy challenge which mysteriously was not punished with a penalty.
Both Barca and Messi continued to struggle in the second half and Guardiola introduced Alexis Sanchez on the hour mark to try and inject some more impetus into his team. It was Pique who was replaced, prompting a reshuffle, and the defender had an ice pack strapped to him after leaving the pitch.
Chances were still few and far between, with Villarreal defending admirably, and on 76 minutes Guardiola made two further changes when bringing on striker Cristian Tello and midfielder Thiago for Adriano and Xavi.
Tello almost made an immediate impact. He did superbly well to hold onto the ball into the box and then fed Fabregas with a neat pass. The midfielder took a touch and saw his shot take a deflection before being turned against the bar by a magnificent reaction save from Lopez. Sanchez tried to convert from the rebound but threw himself to ground under contact from Gonzalo in a failed attempt to win a penalty.
Tello then forced Gonzalo to haul him to the ground with a frankly ridiculous challenge as he threatened to wriggle free on the right. The defender was rightly booked, with the incident sparking no little debate given Gonzalo had been credited, incorrectly it transpired, with a yellow card in the first half by the TV director.
Barcelona seemed finally to hit their stride in the closing stages and Messi and Sanchez exchanged passes before the Argentina international was denied by another great save by Lopez, this time down low to his right.
Villarreal's resistance remained unbroken as the final whistle blew, possibly marking a highly significant moment in the balance of power in Spanish football.
Espanyol and Athletic Bilbao are fifth and sixth in the table after both won earlier in the day.
Espanyol recovered from their shock quarter-final Copa del Rey exit during the week to tiny Mirandes, of Spain's third tier, to beat 10-man Real Mallorca 1-0 at home.
Vladimir Weiss capitalised on an error from Mallorca's Israeli goalkeeper Dudu Aouate to put the Catalans in front after 18 minutes, but they failed to make the extra man count when Aouate was harshly sent off just after the break.
Spain striker Fernando Llorente scored a hat-trick as Copa semi-finalists Athletic Bilbao came from behind to win 3-2 in a pulsating encounter at Rayo Vallecano.
The powerful frontman headed the equaliser, controlled a long ball and turned his marker to put them 2-1 up, and his headed winner was his 11th league goal this season.

Source: Yahoo Sport


Bayern Munich 2-0 Wolfsburg
Gomez & Robben strikes hand Bavarian giants home triumph
As he celebrated a personal milestone, the Germany international striker scored a critical goal as his side maintained their spot at the top of the Bundesliga table

FC Bayern München vs. VfL Wolfsburg, Thomas Müller & Petr Jiracek

Mario Gomez found the net in his 200th Bundesliga appearance as Bayern Munich earned a 2-0 win over Wolfsburg on Saturday.

The visitors were very strong in defence and always had a chance to take at least a point, but the Germany international forward made the difference as he broke the deadlock on 60 minutes.

Following a free kick, Gomez nodded the ball to team-mate Jerome Boateng, before collecting his rebound and firing home. Only in the closing seconds of the game did Bayern finally get their second goal, as Arjen Robben poked home Ivica Olic's chip as it was set to cross the goal line.

Bayern were the more ambitious team at the start of the game and it took just seven minutes for the hosts to find the back of the net, as Mario Gomez nodded in from Franck Ribery's saved volley attempt. However, the goal was called back for offside.

Gomez's next chance came on 19 minutes as Bastian Schweinsteiger's clever chip played him through on goal, but after controlling, the striker failed to connect with the ball and the chance went begging.

Wolfsburg were quick to close down their opponents, whose chances became very limited, but towards the end of the first half, Bayern had more success. Franck Ribery made space before Thomas Muller fired a clear chance wide and the Frenchman was then denied a clear penalty claim as the sides entered the half-time break on level terms.

Wolfsburg were largely stymied during the first half, but their chances did come intermittently. Philipp Lahm's weak back-pass gave Ashkan Dejagah a chance to cross in front of goal, but nothing came of the opportunity for the visitors.

On 45 minutes, Schweinsteiger's weak clearance left Mario Mandzukic with an opportunity, but the Bayern vice-captain made a crunching tackle to concede a corner.

Another defensive mistake from the hosts saw Rafinha concede possession to Mandzukic, who drew Manuel Neuer out of his goal but was unable to find a team-mate with his cut-back pass.

The goal changed the scope of the game, as Wolfsburg grew increasingly open at the back while they threw attackers forward. Substitute Koo Ja-Cheol was unable to control Dejagah's cross in front of goal, and at the other end, Ribery had a stinging attempt saved by Diego Benaglio when the Frenchman was through on goal.

The visitors pressed more and more for an equaliser late in the game, but were ultimately unable to restore parity, as the Bavarians held firm just long enough. Olic's hard work created a late second goal, which effectively ended the game a minute early.

The result sees Bayern keep pace with Dortmund atop the table on 40 points, with a goal difference of +4 separating the Bavarians from the title holders. Wolfsburg are ninth now, with 23 points from 19 games.


Borussia Monchengladbach 3-1 Bayern Munich

NAPLES, ITALY - OCTOBER 18:  Toni Kroos of FC Bayern Muenchen in action during the UEFA Champions League Group A match between SSC Napoli and FC Bayern Muenchen at Stadio San Paolo on October 18, 2011 in Naples, Italy.  (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)

In another clash at the top of the Bundesliga, Borussia Monchengladbach got the better of Bayern Munich by producing a supreme counter-attacking display, beating them 3-1.

Monchengladbach lined up in their usual 4-4-2, with two deep banks of four. Mike Hanke played the target man role to Marco Reus's wing creative role. The Monchengladbach full-backs stayed rather static throughout the game, and stayed in a clear bank of four.

The midfield four were also relatively static. Thomas Neustädter and Havard Nordtveit played defensive roles, Nordtveit being the more adventurous of the two. The wingers, Juan Arango and Patrick Herrmann, did less defensive work than their central midfield counterparts.

However, Herrmann's contribution in that area was considerably significant as he won many tackles. He also had a license to go forward and exploit the gap made by Phillip Lahm, who was attacking the Monchengladbach defense.

Arango was lazier defensively, but was Monchengladbach's main creative force, providing the pass for Marco Reus to create Monchengladbach's second goal. The strikers, as aforementioned, were playing alongside each other, and also playing passes in for each other with Hermann running out from the wing.

Munich lined up in a 4-2-3-1, pressed high up and controlled most of possession. Anatoli Timoshchuk and Bastian Schweinsteiger lined up in a two behind Toni Kroos, cutting in and channeling the possession play to Lahm, who provided width to counteract Kroos's runs inside.

The Bayern defence played as a back four with full-backs pushing high up the pitch, to provide width for attacking midfielders cutting inside. Both Jérôme Boateng and Lahm went forward to great effect. Their crosses and runs created a lot of Bayern's half-chances. Defenders Daniel van Buyten and Holger Badstuber covered behind the rest of the side.

The striker and support striker were woefully inadequate for most of the game. Mario Gomez made some smart runs and headers, and Thomas Müller got more involved in the second half, but both were generally restricted very well by the deep defending of Monchengladbach.

First Half

Bayern were very persuasive with their possession play, channelling it through Schweinsteiger (using the ball energetically and trying to be very direct, something which did not suit the more subdued kind of game Bayern were playing, at least today). Tymoschuk (in distribution, was very slow and played very laboured long passes), as well as Muller (who could barely get in the game). All of this combined to form a Bayern who were dominating possession but creating little in the final third.

And of course, Lucien Favre's textbook gameplan suited this perfectly, with two deep banks of four, and a central midfield pairing which had a primarily defensive duty. Arango was more peripheral in the first half as Hermann's flank saw more action.

It was Lahm's forward runs which were taken advantage of in the first half by Monchengladbach, observable in the second goal, where a through ball out to an empty flank left Hermann in enough space to score. More chances along the same lines were to follow.

Bayern action was limited to long shots from the center. Kroos was probably their best player, classy in possession and channeling all their good play from a tucked-in position on the flank. They also tried to be more direct, trying to get to Gomez with forward crosses by Arjen Robben and Lahm.

Second Half

Bayern bucked up; David Alaba was brought on for Tymoshchuk, and played on the wing in a more direct, crossing role. This directness helped reduce the need for Lahm on that side, and also allowed Kroos to go inside, and help with possession play.

Bayern head coach Jupp Heynckes correctly surmised that since Bayern had so much possession and their opposition were going to play so deep, he did not require a holding midfielder, and could put Kroos in the centre to give him more control over the game.

Furthermore, Muller was more involved in play as he became more central. This made some difference to Bayern's approach, trying more balls over the top, all of which needed some smart last-minute defending from Monchengladbach players. This direct approach, while being less focused on Lahm's flank, switched to Boateng, and then to Rafinha, both of whom spent long periods high up the flank.

Borussia's defensive performance was not so much about luck as it was about tactics and Marc-André ter Stegen's prowess. Gomez was caught offside four or more times, and ter Stegen saved six out of seven shots on target, also collecting and clearing several balls. Ter Stegen also made the most passes of anyone in his side, indicating how counter-attacking their approach really was.

This was very well exploited by Monchengladbach for the second goal. Reus and Hanke were involved again when Arango won the ball from deep and delivered the it up the flank, beating Rafinha and leaving Reus in acres of space to switch the ball to the other flank, as an onrushing Hermann put the ball into the net.


1) Monchengladbach defended and countered well. Favre's setup was perfect in every way, and it was clear that the style fit the players like a glove, giving the requisite defensive responsibility and attacking freedom to reflect the talents and tendencies of their side. Reus was especially important in this game, manifesting their approach of attacking through the flanks by drifting into wide positions where opposition full-backs should have been.

2) Bayern's possession game, in contrast, felt unsuited to the talents and characteristics of their players. Although effective in terms of chances created, it is wise to note that they only created half chances and could not really find a way past the two banks of four. Their aerially focused passing did not suit them, and it was only when Kroos came centrally that their balls over the top began finding people.

3) Monchengladbach have surprised many with their adventurousness this season. They have a very considered tactical approach that is carefully thought out and crafted to suit their players. It is really no surprise, to be fair, in this game, with Favre taking advantage of a flaw in the Bayern defensive line.

Source: bleacher report

zaterdag 28 januari 2012

Real Madrid 3 - 1 Real Zaragoza

League leaders come from goal behind as Kaka, Ronaldo & Ozil strike to seal victory
Jose Mourinho's men came from a goal down to put Manolo Jimenez's men to the sword at home, with the three attackers all getting on the scoresheet in the 3-1 victory

Liga BBVA: Real Madrid-Zaragoza: Kaka, Marcelo

Real Madrid survived an early scare against Zaragoza to come back and earn a comfortable 3-1 win at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday evening, with Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil all getting on the scoresheet for the hosts.

Angel Lafita gave the visitors a shock lead on 11 minutes after some slack defensive play from Los Blancos, yet Kaka got his side back on level terms in the 32nd minute.

The home side were 2-1 up not long after the break when Ronaldo scored from close range before Ozil completed the scoring with a powerful finish in the area.

Mourinho's side head eight points clear of rivals Barcelona who visit Villarreal later in the evening while Zaragoza remain bottom after extending their winless run in the league to 13 games.

Madrid forged the first opportunity of the game in the sixth minute when Cristiano Ronaldo's precise cross into the box was inexplicably headed wide of goal from four yards out by Karim Benzema.

Despite their bright start to the game, Madrid found themselves a goal down five minutes later after some poor defending. Carlos Aranda was allowed time and space to make a run into the box before the forward played a low ball along the six-yard line for Angel Lafita to tap into an empty net - his third goal at the Santiago Bernabeu after his double last season.

In the 26th minute, Mourinho's men came close to an equaliser from a set-piece. Mesut Ozil whipped an inviting ball into the box which was met by Kaka's flicked header that narrowly crept wide of the top corner with Roberto at full stretch.

However, the home side did not have to wait long to draw back level and on 32 minutes, the goal arrived. Ricardo Carvalho's defensive-splitting pass fell to the feet of Kaka who took a composed touch before stroking the ball into the net, despite Roberto's best attempts at keeping it out.

A determined Madrid side came out for the second half and in the 49th minute the hosts grabbed the lead. After a slick passing move, Esteban Granero slid the ball to Ozil who cut the back across the six-yard line for Ronaldo to slam home - a goal reminiscent of Zaragoza's opener.

Seven minutes later Mourinho's team extended their lead with another well-executed team goal. Granero and Kaka both linked up impressively before the Brazilian found Ozil in the box, who smashed the ball past Roberto at his near post for the German's first league goal of the season and the final goal of the game.

Madrid are back in Liga action next weekend when they travel to local rivals Getafe while Zaragoza are due to entertain Rayo Vallecano.


vrijdag 27 januari 2012

Sergio Ramos' red card

Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos hits out at Barcelona's Sergio Busquets and reveals club will appeal his second yellow card in Wednesday's Clasico
The Spain defender has been left enraged by his red card during the closing stages of the game at Camp Nou, believing that his international colleague was guilty of play-acting

Liga BBVA: Jose Mourinho, Sergio Ramos

Sergio Ramos has accused Sergio Busquets of feigning injury to get him sent off in Wednesday night's Clasico against Barcelona and revealed that Real Madrid intend to appeal against his second yellow card.

The Spain defender was sent off in the closing stages of the Copa del Rey clash at Camp Nou for elbowing his international colleague in the face as the pair jumped for the ball.

However, Sergio Ramos, who refused to speak to reporters about his red card immediately after the game, insists that he did nothing wrong and believes that Busquets was guilty of play-acting.

"I am happy that the club are appealing my second yellow card because even though some don't stop rolling around [on the turf], I didn't touch him [Busquets]," the versatile defender wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, in a show of support for coach Jose Mourinho, with whom he is alleged to have had a training-ground dispute last week, Sergio Ramos also went online to wish the Portuguese a happy birthday.

"I would like to congratulate our coach Mourinho on his 49th birthday. Congratulations Boss!! Delighted to have you here," he wrote.

Madrid will be hoping to quickly put their Copa del Rey elimination behind them when they tackle Zaragoza at the Santiago Bernabeu this weekend.


woensdag 25 januari 2012

Liverpool wants Granero

Liverpool are in talks with Real Madrid over signing Real Madrid attacking midfielder Esteban Granero.

Boss Kenny Dalglish has explored the prospect of taking Granero on loan until the end of the season as he look to add some cover for his depleted strikeforce.

Granero can play wide or as a second striker, and he has been on the Anfield radar for some time.

The 24-year-old, who has played for Spain up to Under-21 level but not for the senior side, has also been linked with Arsenal, but Dalglish is hoping to arrange a short-term loan.

Granero has struggled to make an impact at the Bernabeu this season, making just four appearances under coach Jose Mourinho.

The Spanish giants are hoping to sell him in what remains of the January window but so far there have been no takers, which has encouraged the Reds to believe they can thrash out an agreement.

Dalglish will have Luis Suarez back from his eight-match ban next week, but is still concerned about his resources at the sharp end.

Liverpool have managed just 25 league goals this season, making them one of the lowest scoring teams in the top flight.

The Reds boss has said there will be no spending in this transfer window, but concern at the lack of goals has prompted the club to turn to the loan market.

While Real are resistant to the idea of a temporary agreement, they may be persuaded if there is a prospect of a permanent deal at the end of it.

Dalglish has ruled out a move for Rangers striker Nikica Jelavic, and there is little Anfield interest in Juventus winger Milos Krasic, but after a recent depressing run of league results, the club recognises the need to bring in attacking cover.

The club has also been tracking Rennes midfielder Yann M'Vila, but are unlikely to make a move until the summer.

Source: Mirror Football

Inter has no interest in Tevez

Italian giants decide to end interest in Argentine
Inter Milan have announced they are no longer interested in signing Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez having previously held negotiations with the Argentine.

Image text here

AC Milan and Paris Saint Germain have also held talks with the 27-year-old, but no club has been able to meet City's £30million-plus valuation.

With less than a week remaining of the transfer window, Tevez is presently in Argentina, having returned to South America in November, and City have stopped paying his wages.

Both the striker and his club are keen to see an end to what has become an arduous saga, which began in September after he refused to resume his warm-up in the UEFA Champions League defeat at Bayern Munich.


But on Tuesday evening City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak outlined the club would not allow Tevez to leave in any undervalue deal and if any suitable arrangement cannot be found then they would expect the forward to honour the remaining two-and-half-years of his contract.

AC Milan have been Tevez's preferred destination, but, with PSG having pulled out of a deal because they believe it is too expensive, they now also appear to be his only option after Inter ruled out a move due to the return of other players from injury.

Inter Milan board member Marco Tronchetti Provera told Ansa: "Now we're no longer interested in Tevez. He is following a different path.

"Inter have recovered their champions and there is no need to have him or another, even if Tevez remains a great champion."

Inter, meanwhile, remain unsure over the future of Thiago Motta, who has been regularly linked with PSG.

Asked whether the midfielder will stay at the Giuseppe Meazza, Provera said: "It's a question that for now has no answer. These are choices which the club will do with the player."

Source: skysports

Jose Mourinho to quit as Real Madrid manager in June

Jose Mourinho heads into El Clasico with Barcelona facing mounting criticism from both Real Madrid’s supporters and players, and amid claims his spell as Real Madrid manager will not last beyond the summer.

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho in training-ground row with Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas
Under pressure: Jose Mourinho shows his frustration during the cup defeat by Barcelona

Mourinho’s team are five points clear of Barcelona at the top of the Spanish league, but his position has been undermined by publication of a training-ground argument between the manager and two of his senior players, defender Sergio Ramos and goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
The exchange was carried in full by Madrid-based newspaper Marca, which usually serves a cheerleader for the club. Mourinho has not questioned the accuracy of the report, which portrayed him as tetchy and even paranoid.
Towards the end of Sunday’s 4-1 win over Athletic Bilbao, some Madrid fans chanted Mourinho’s name, as if to indicate their continued support for him despite the report. However, a larger section of the Bernabéu crowd responded by whistling, sending a clear signal that they are unhappy with the former Chelsea manager.
After the game, a leading Spanish journalist, Siro López of AS, told television viewers Mourinho had decided to leave Madrid at the end of the season. López said his source was one of Mourinho’s closest allies.
The training-ground exchange occurred after Madrid’s 2-1 defeat at home by Barcelona in the Spanish Cup, after which Mourinho was widely criticised for his side’s negative tactics. They go to the Nou Camp needing to win the second leg.

Mourinho claimed Ramos had given a disloyal interview to journalists immediately after the first leg. “You [guys] killed me [with your quotes] in the mixed zone,” Mourinho is reported to have said.
According to Marca, Mourinho then claimed that the media gives Spanish internationals such as Ramos and Casillas preferential treatment, while Mourinho has to defend his team from the sternest criticism.
“As you Spanish are world champions, your friends in the press protect you ... like the goalkeeper,” he said. Casillas overheard and shouted: “Boss, here we say things to our faces.”
Mourinho then became embroiled in an exchange with Ramos over the failure to mark Carlos Puyol for one of Barcelona’s goals.
Ramos had the final word with a devastating reference to Mourinho’s modest playing career.
“Depending on the match situation, sometimes it’s necessary to change the marking,” he said. “And as you have never been a [professional] player, you wouldn’t know that this is sometimes necessary.”
Ramos, though, denied that the exchange revealed divisions within the squad. “Whoever says the changing room is divided or that some kind of fracture exists is lying,” he tweeted yesterday. “This is a great group that is well united, regardless what is said.”
Mourinho has also been criticised for the behaviour of Portuguese defender Pepe, who provoked outrage in Spain by feigning injury during the game against Barcelona before appearing to stamp on Lionel Messi's hand without sanction. The Spanish ruling body said yesterday that it will take no action against Pepe after studying the incident. The player insisted it was accidental.
Publicly, Mourinho insisted that he would win over the fans who barracked him.
“I’m not bothered by the whistles at me,’ he said after the win over Bilbao. “It’s not a problem.
“It’s the first time it’s ever happened to me. There’s a first time for practically everything.
“[Zinedine] Zidane was whistled at here. Ronaldo has been ­whistled at here. Cristiano [Ronaldo], who is the latest Golden Boot winner, has also been whistled at. Why can’t I?
“Zidane responded with his football, the same as Ronaldo and Cristiano.
“I work hard to be able to respond like they did some day, but there may come a day when the fans are sad.”
What was said in the Bernebeiu dressing room
JOSE MOURINHO: You [plural] killed me in the mixed zone.
SERGIO RAMOS: No, mister, you only read what it says in the papers, not everything we said.
JM: Sure, because you Spaniards have been world champions and your friends in the media protect you and because the goalkeeper...
IKER CASILLAS: Eh, Señor, round here you say things to our faces.
JM: Where were you on the first goal [against Barcelona], Sergio?
SR: Marking Piqué.
JM: Well, you should have been marking Puyol.
SR: Yes, but they were blocking us off with Piqué and we decided to change the marking.
JM: What? So now you’re playing at being coach?
SR: No, but depending on the situation in the game, sometimes you have to change the marking. Because you’ve never been a player, you don’t know that sometimes happens.

Source: The Telegraph

And tonight another El Clásico ... Barcelona vs Real Madrid!!!

What's your opinion??? 
Who do you think will win this match???
What will be the score???
Leave here your comments please ...
As much I'm a big Real Madrid fan, it will be a tough game ... but I say: 1 -1!!!

Liverpool vs Man City

Liverpool vs Man City
LFC v Man Utd: Police statement

Merseyside Police have issued advice to fans ahead of Liverpool's FA Cup fourth round clash with Manchester United at Anfield on Saturday.

Match Commander Chief Superintendent Jon Ward said: "We are expecting a lively atmosphere at Saturday's match, but our intention is that at the end of the day we will be talking about the game and what happened on the pitch as opposed to off the pitch.

"As always, my officers will be dealing with the fans as they would expect to be treated themselves. Our policing style will be firm, fair and friendly, but we will take action where necessary against those individuals who may seek to cause problems or misbehave.

"At the last Liverpool v Manchester United game at Anfield, the behaviour of the majority of the fans was very good. We know that this match will be a busy operation and we hope that at Saturday's match they will continue to act as ambassadors for their clubs and for the city and enjoy what I am sure will be a good game.

"We work closely with both clubs, Greater Manchester Police and the Football Supporters Federation and, if it's brought to our attention, any inappropriate remarks and behaviour will be acted upon. We take all forms of offensive behaviour seriously, and we will always thoroughly investigate such claims. We cannot allow this type of behaviour to affect the enjoyment of genuine fans, especially families with young children who attend the game.

"We will continue with our efforts to deal with the small number of individuals who commit offences at football matches, in particular with the continued use of football-banning orders. As usual we would ask fans with tickets to arrive at the ground as early as possible. Fans without tickets should not attend at all; they will not be allowed entry into the stadium."


dinsdag 24 januari 2012

Balotelli Banned 4 Matches

Manchester City likely to accept Mario Balotelli's four-match ban
The Manchester City forward Mario Balotelli is likely to accept his four-match ban for violent conduct. 

Mario Balotelli

The Manchester City assistant manager, David Platt, has hinted that the club will reluctantly accept Mario Balotelli's four-match suspension.

Balotelli was charged with violent conduct by the Football Association on Monday after appearing to stamp deliberately on Scott Parker during Sunday's 3-2 victory over Tottenham Hotspur. He will automatically receive a four-match ban unless City successfully appeal.

Platt confirmed no talks had taken place among the City hierarchy and a final decision would not be made until all relevant parties had an input into discussions.

However, while City do have grievances over the manner in which Balotelli's alleged stamp on Scott Parker has been dealt with, Platt accepted the slow-motion pictures "do not look good". "We are likely to be without a player for four games," said Platt.

City have until 6pm on Wednesday to make their decision. If it is decided to accept the ban, Balotelli would be suspended for Wednesday night's Carling Cup semi-final second leg at Liverpool. However, if City submit an appeal which is considered by the FA to be frivolous, though the Italian forward could play against Liverpool, he could then have his suspension increased to five games.

And, as City failed to overturn a four-match suspension for Vincent Kompany earlier this month for a far less obvious incident against Manchester United, it would appear they have little chance of success anyway.

"We found out the information last night and we have not sat down as a group to discuss it," said Platt. "But I don't think anybody thought we would win an appeal with Vincent Kompany, even though the majority of people didn't feel he deserved a red card or a four-match ban. It shows the futility of an appeal sometimes. This looks poor when you slow it down."

City feel aggrieved that the FA took over the decision making after the referee Howard Webb did not act during the match. "It seems inconsistent," said Platt. "I have seen it from an angle where I can think the referee saw it live, like I did.

"Other people saw it live and didn't react, nobody, not one of the Tottenham players or staff. The referee didn't react live. It is when you slow it down that all the reactions come. I don't know what has gone on but there seems a huge inconsistency in refereeing matches on a Monday morning. Shouldn't you revisit everything that has happened over the weekend?"

Platt confirmed he had been asked to address the media by Roberto Mancini this morning in an effort to avoid the Italian's difficulty with the nuances of the English language further fuelling an already delicate situation. "He spoke to me last night and asked me to do it," said Platt. "A lot of words needed saying and we are in a cauldron where a half phrase can become bigger.

"Whatever I say today can get topped and tailed and, in some quarters, won't be reported in the manner I have said it, and I am not talking about the people who are here, but those who are not."

Source: the guardian

maandag 23 januari 2012

Real Madrid and Barcelona yesterday's scores

Malaga 1 - 4 Barcelona
Liga - Messi hat-trick conquers Malaga

barcelona - 0
Lionel Messi scored his fifth hat-trick of the season as Barcelona cruised past Malaga with a 4-1 victory at La Rosaleda.

The Argentine forward opened the scoring shortly after the half-hour mark in a pedestrian first half before Alexis Sanchez's goal three minutes after the interval sparked the match into life.
Goals two and three for Messi on 51 and 81 minutes respectively gave the reigning Liga champions a four goal advantage, before Rondon pounced to give the flustered home side a consolation five minutes from time.
Malaga almost restored a little pride with a late surge during which Rondon and fellow substitute Seba Fernandez came close to further reducing the defecit, but Messi too was twice denied at the death by Wilfredo Caballero in goal.
The win pulled Barca closer to leaders Real Madrid, but Los Merengues later beat Athletic Bilbao 4-1 at the Bernabeu to move back five points clear at the summit.
Employing their traditional belief that patience is a virtue, the visitors were in no panic in their hunt for the lead against a Malaga side strong at the back but lacking the ideas to cause Barcelona's makeshift back four many problems.
The hosts' chief source of a potential opener was Isco, and on the quarter hour mark the teenage midfielder tested Victor Valdes on two occasions in quick succession.
First, his speculative drive from outside the penalty area had to be tipped over the bar by the stalwart goalkeeper, before the resulting corner was kept out by Valdes' impressive double save from Isco and then Martin Demichelis.
Eric Abidal - who scored the winning goal in the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarter-final at Real Madrid - almost surged through in the box with half an hour played, but when Caballero made himself big and forced the left-back into a unfeasible shooting position, his cut-back to Messi led to a cross-cum-shot from the Ballon d'Or winner which was blocked yards from the goal line.
Messi would finally find the back of the net three minutes later, but not before Ruud van Nistelrooy scuppered a golden opportunity for a close range volley when he mis-hit Eliseu's cross to the far post.
It was a miss Malaga would rue within moments when Adriano's cross from the left at the other end was met by the head of the Argentine maestro for the game's first goal.
Though they spent most of the time chasing shadows or digging deep inside their own penalty area, the home side almost created another big chance on the stroke of half-time when a raking ball upfield was one decent first touch away from leaving van Nistelrooy one-on-one with Valdes.
However, when the Dutchman's header down took him away from goal slightly, it was enough of an invitation for Javier Mascherano to nip in and outmuscle his larger adversary to end the half with the clean sheet intact.
It appeared that Pep Guardiola was not best pleased with his team sitting on the one goal advantage, as they came out for the second half ready altogether more purposefully.
With 48 minutes on the clock Thiago lit the touch paper by forcing Caballero into a decent double save before the goalkeeper was finally beaten on the second rebound by Sanchez.
And only a further three minutes were required for two to become three as the visitors capitalised on complacency on the ball from the Malaga midfield and Messi strode forward on the ball before slotting his second into the bottom corner.
The World Player of the Year was only denied a faster treble by the woodwork 16 minutes from time when his free-kick from inside the 'D' came back off the underside of the crossbar.
But the goal frame would only deny him for a further seven minutes, when a lightning counter led to the best of the bunch: a confident 30 yard run forward beyond two defenders capped by an exquisite finish across Caballero with pinpoint timing and placement.
The fourth goal conceded appeared to be the final straw for a poor Boquerones team, who sparked by their substitutes during the second half began to finally test the Barca back line and even pulled a goal back.
Recio's 20-yard drive was a cracking one, but Valdes' spill of the shot allowed fellow replacement Rondon to pounce and put away a consolation off the far post.
He was inches from a second two minutes later only for his header from the cross of third substitute Fernandez to go inches wide, as did the winger when the two switched roles in stoppage time.

Source: Yahoo! Sport

Real Madrid 4 - 1 Atletico Bilbao

Real Madrid spot on

Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo slotted home two penalties to ensure his side won 4-1.

Real Madrid bounced back from their midweek Copa del Rey defeat to Barcelona with a comeback victory over 10-Athletic Bilbao that kept them five points clear at the top of the Primera Division.

In-form Athletic had threatened to add to Madrid's misery following their 2-1 home loss to Barca in the first leg of their cup quarter-final tie when Fernando Llorente gave them an early lead.

However, Jose Mourinho's men drew level soon after through Marcelo before two second-half penalties from Cristiano Ronaldo and a late goal from Jose Callejon helped Madrid stay clear of second-placed Barca, who beat Malaga 4-1 earlier today.

Athletic played out the final 24 minutes with a man less after Oscar De Marcos was dismissed in the incident that led to Ronaldo's second successful penalty as the Basque side suffered only a second defeat in 15 league games.

Madrid would have been desperate for a good start today following yet another defeat to Barca, but they found themselves trailing after just 13 minutes following a clinical Athletic counter-attack.

The move started with goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz quickly throwing the ball out to Javi Martinez, who in turn fed possession inside to Ander Herrera before racing down the wing to pick up a return pass from his team-mate. Martinez then floated over a deep cross into the area where his Spain colleague Llorente volleyed home his 11th goal of the season.

It should really have been 2-0 six minutes later as well.

Fortunately for the hosts, De Marcos failed to turn the rebound in from close range after Iker Casillas parried a shot from Iker Muniain.

De Marcos really should have scored with that chance and Madrid made the most of their let-off to equalise soon after.

Karim Benzema volleyed a good opening well over in the 24th minute, but 60 seconds later Marcelo coolly slotted in the equaliser after playing a one-two with the Frenchman on the edge of the area.

Benzema saw a header saved by Iraizoz as Madrid sought a half-time lead, but they survived another big scare in the 39th minute when Llorente missed a great chance for the visitors, the powerful striker slicing horribly wide with his left foot with only Casillas to beat.

Madrid may have been fortunate to have been level at the interval, but they dominated the second half and were in front after winning a penalty just 30 seconds after the restart.

Ander Iturraspe was penalised for tugging back Kaka, and from the resulting spot-kick Ronaldo slammed in his 22nd league goal of the season.

That drew him level with Lionel Messi at the top of the scoring charts following the Barcelona player's hat-trick against Malaga, and the world's most expensive player soon passed the Argentinian after Madrid won another penalty in the 67th minute.

Ozil went down under a challenge from De Marcos and although Benzema fired in the loose ball, the penalty had already been awarded.

De Marcos was shown a red card and Ronaldo added the full punishment from 12 yards as he sent Iraizoz the wrong way.

Mourinho immediately replaced Benzema with Gonzalo Higuain and the Argentina international twice came close to adding to his side's lead, first being denied by a brilliant save from Iraizoz before later hitting the near post after rounding the Athletic custodian.

It was another substitute who added a late fourth, though, as Callejon latched onto Higuain's perfect through-ball to slot past Iraizoz and complete a convincing triumph.

Source: ESPN

Results Serie A - Italy

Atalanta 0-2 Juventus
Lichtsteiner and Giaccherini crown Conte's men as winter champions
The Bianconeri dominated the contest in Bergamo, and are assured first place at the halfway stage of the season thanks their four-point lead at the top

Juventus overcame Atalanta 2-0 at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia to clinch the unofficial title of Serie A winter champions.

After a slew of first-half chances went begging, Stephan Lichtsteiner belatedly headed the visitors in front 10 minutes after the restart. Substitute Emanuele Giaccherini volleyed home a well-taken second with eight minutes to go to claim victory for Juventus, who provisionally move four points ahead of nearest rivals AC Milan.
Juventus attacked straight from kick-off, and nearly took the lead after only three minutes of play, but Alessandro Matri wasted a glorious chance, sidefooting Simone Pepe’s low cross over the bar from only a few yards out.

The visitors were taking the game to Atalanta in the early stages, and Pepe flashed an effort wide of the far post after latching onto Claudio Marchisio’s through ball.

Matri went even closer two minutes later, hitting the post from inside the area, before Mirko Vucinic coaxed a stunning save from Andrea Consigli with a powerful shot towards the top corner.

Atalanta managed to recover from the frantic start to gain a foothold in the game, but Juventus continued to create chances and always looked the more likely to break the deadlock.

Pepe took matters into his own hands with a barnstorming run from midfield five minutes before the break, but his shot at the end was beaten away by Consigli.

Barely a minute later, Arturo Vidal unleashed a fearsome drive from all of 30 yards that beat Consigli but smacked off the crossbar. Somehow, Atalanta had managed to make it to half-time with the score still goalless.

However, their luck would not hold for long in the second half, and a sublime pass by Andrea Pirlo completely unhinged the Atalanta defence, allowing Lichtsteiner to steal in at the far post and head the visitors in front.

Matri fashioned a great chance for himself shortly after the hour mark when he won possession in the opposition half and sprinted through on goal, but his finish deserted him once again as his lob attempt bounced just wide of the far post.

Juventus were comfortable at this point, and substitute Luca Marrone had a shot saved at the near post by Consigli after a neat one-two with Matri.

With eight minutes left, Juventus put the icing on the cake when Marrone’s delightful chipped ball was caught on the volley by fellow substitute Giaccherini to put the match beyond doubt.

The result sees Juventus move four points clear at the top, but that lead could be cut after Milan’s fixture against Novara on Sunday. Atalanta meanwhile remain in 15th place, five points off the relegation zone.

Inter 2-1 Lazio
Pazzini and Milito net as Claudio Ranieri's side come from behind to record eighth straight victory
Nerazzurri continue their superb run after coming back from a goal down to earn an important victory over the Biancocelesti in their bid to regain the Serie A title

Inter's return to form in Serie A shows no signs of abating after they managed to dig out a 2-1 win over Lazio at San Siro on Sunday.

Goals from Diego Milito and Giampaolo Pazzini ensured the Nerazzurri extended their run of wins to eight in all competitions, despite Tommaso Rocchi putting the visitors in front early on, as Claudio Ranieri's men now leapfrog their opponents into fourth place in the table.

It was Inter who started most positively, mainly via the likes of Maicon surging down the right flank, but they could have taken a lead in the most unlikeliest of circumstances, as Federico Marchetti almost gifted Ricardo Alvarez the chance to break the deadlock from a poor kick-out.

However, Lazio slowly crept back into the game, and they were almost rewarded for their efforts through Rocchi, who was seemingly on hand to capitalise on Lucio's failure to read the ball and saw his poked attempt hit the post with Julio Cesar stranded.

But they eventually took the lead on 29 minutes, thanks to the visionary passing of Cristian Ledesma, as he threaded Rocchi through one-on-one with the Brazilian goalkeeper. The striker latched onto the pass and dispatched his finish across the face of goal and into the corner.

However, despite overriding Biancocelesti pressure, Inter grabbed an equaliser on the edge of half-time, as Ricardo Alvarez's one-two found Milito in the box, and the Argentine marksman struck coolly past Marchetti to restore parity before the interval.

There was potential for the stuffing to be knocked out of Lazio, as Inter looked to have gained the momentum, but the visitors once again promptly set their stall out, looking to adopt a crisp passing style similar to that of the first half.

Inter, meanwhile, were keen to build on their momentum, and it paved the way for a pulsating second half. Minutes after the restart, Giampaolo Pazzini met Maicon's near-post cross, but Marchetti did well to block the striker's attempt.

And their persistence to go in front paid off, but not without some poor defensive play from Stefan Radu, who allowed a lobbed pass from Lucio bounce over him, and Pazzini was alert to anticipate the situation and chip the ball on the half volley over an onrushing Marchetti.

Inter switched to a 4-1-4-1 system and brought on Marco Faraoni for goalscorer Milito in order to see out the three points comfortably, but that did not deter Lazio from trying to flood balls into the Nerazzurri half, coinciding with the introduction of Abdoulay Konko.

Lazio remained in control of possession in the latter stages of the match, but the likes of Klose or Matuzalem failed to make their through balls count, as the win sees Inter move within only six points of leaders Juventus, while Lazio drop to fifth following their defeat.

Novara 0-3 Milan
Ibrahimovic and Robinho make the difference as Rossoneri return gap to Juventus back to one point
After a host of missed chances, three second half goals, two from the Swede and one from the Brazilian, give Allegri's side the points against a spirited Biancoazzurri

Three second-half strikes, two from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and one from Robinho, gave AC Milan all three points against Novara in a 3-0 triumph at the Stadio Silvio Piola on Sunday afternoon.
A host of missed chances in the first period looked to have cost the champions victory, but three efforts from the Rossoneri's strike partnership secured the win that takes them a point behind leaders Juventus in the Serie A table.

With Massimiliano Allegri making five changes to the side that lost last weekend in the Derby della Madonnina, it was perhaps no surprise that, with some of the starting XI having a point to prove, the team with the best attack in the league started the game brightly.
And it was one of those players who had the best of the early chances: Robinho, following up from an Ibrahimovic free kick, fired wide from a tight angle when it was perhaps easier to score.
The Rossoneri were really clicking into gear, and peppered the Novara goal with shots on an almost constant basis. First, it was Mark van Bommel who threatened with a long-range effort.
Then Ibrahimovic forced a good save from Samir Ujkani following another free kick. Finally, Thiago Silva thought he'd scored with just 20 minutes gone when his header left the goalkeeper stranded, only for Andrea Caracciolo to clear the ball off the line.
It looked inevitable then that Milan would eventually take the lead, and it seemed for all the world as if they had on 32 minutes. Antonio Nocernio turned nonchalantly past Michel Morganella in the box, and stroked the ball towards the far post, only for it to miss the target by a matter of inches, and leave the visitors frustrated as they went into the break.
The second half started much the same way that the first had ended, except, after five minutes, Novara looked to counter Milan's constant attacking threat, and they did just that through a fantastically surging from Marco Rigoni.
The 32-year-old looked 10 years younger as he left Van Bommel and Nocerino eating dust on the halfway line, before sliding an exquisite ball through to Caracciolo on the left-hand side of the area. The former Brescia man then cut inside and slotted his shot towards the far corner, only to see it squirm agonisingly wide.
That looked to have been a wake up call for Allegri's side, and they soon took the lead through an easy finish from Ibrahimovic. A wonderfully weighted through ball from Ambrosini found the Swedish striker inside the area, and with two touches he smashed the ball from close-range past Ujkani.
Tesser's side, looking for an equaliser, were now leaving room for Milan to exploit. And they used it to their advantage once more. A cross from Nocerino on the right-hand byline found Stephan El Shaarawy, who took a touch and shot across goal, only for Robinho to slid in and give Milan a comfortable 2-0 cushion.
And it was 3-0 with less than a minute to go. El Shaarawy's cross was palmed away by Ujkani, only for Ibrahimovic to flick the ball pas the goalkeeper on the rebound, and take him back to the top of the Serie A goalscoring charts.
That was how it ended, with Milan now only a point behind Juventus going into next weekend's game against Cagliari. Novara stay rooted to the bottom of the table, having to travel to Palermo in the next round of fixtures.