Friday, 12 December 2014

Cristiano Ronaldo one of 10 Real Madrid stars subjected to anti-doping tests

Cristiano Ronaldo was one of 10 Real Madrid players subjected to anti-doping tests this week.
According to Madrid-based Marca, anti-doping officials from UEFA paid a surprise visit to Real Madrid's training ground to carry out tests.
And Ronaldo, who is favourite to claim his second consecutive Ballon d'Or trophy in January, was one of the 10 players selected.

It is the second time this season that Real have been targeted after members of the squad underwent similar tests before the European Super Cup final against Sevilla in Cardiff in August.
Earlier this week Lionel Messi was asked to give a blood and urine sample during Barcelona anti-doping tests after the Argentine scored his third hat-trick in four games against Espanyol last weekend.
Five Barcelona players were chosen for testing, but only Messi was asked to provide both blood and urine, something the 27-year-old found 'weird'.
Ronaldo has been in scintillating form for Real this season, scoring an incredible 32 goals in just 24 appearances in all competitions.
The Portugal international will be looking to keep up his goalscoring exploits against Almeria on Friday as Real look to extend their winning streak to 20 matches. 

Source: Dailymail football

Jose Mourinho: Chelsea will not make any signings in January

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho says he has no plans to sign any new players during the January transfer window.
Mourinho believes that his current squad can deal with the workload of competing in four competitions.
"We cannot be better than first in the League, top of our Champions League group and in the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup," he said.
The Blues face Hull City in the Premier League on Saturday without injured goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
Petr Cech will replace the 22-year-old Belgium international, who has a "minor" muscular injury.
Cesc Fabregas is suspended, but Serbia midfielder Nemanja Matic returns from a ban after missing the 2-1 defeat at Newcastle last weekend.
Chelsea will play six matches in the 20 days between Saturday's Premier League clash with Hull at Stamford Bridge and the visit to Tottenham on 1 January, and Mourinho says he intends to rest his senior players during the Christmas period.
"I don't think any one player will play all these six matches," he said,
"The ones who play all matches will have to go to five, but I have to give them one rest."
The former Porto, Inter Milan and Real Madrid manager has granted his European-based players a two-day break next week after the Capital One Cup quarter-final against Derby County at Pride Park on Tuesday.
Mourinho said: "It allows the players from England, Belgium, France and Germany to go and have a nice dinner with their families - it is the only two days I can give them because they need to be back on Friday to play on Monday [at Stoke in the Premier League]."
Source: BBC football

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Champions League: The story of this year's group phase

The Champions League group stages ended on Wednesday with Manchester City going through thanks to victory in Rome.
Here is everything you need to know about what happened in the 96 matches so far before Monday's last-16 draw.

Who is into the last 16?

Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Real Madrid, Basel, Monaco, Bayer Leverkusen, Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Paris St-Germain, Schalke, Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk

Who drops down to the Europa League's last 32?

Liverpool, Olympiakos, Zenit St Petersburg, Anderlecht, Roma, Ajax, Sporting Lisbon, Athletic Bilbao

Who is out of Europe?

Malmo, Ludogorets Razgrad, Benfica, Galatasaray, CSKA Moscow, Apoel Nicosia, Maribor, Bate Borisov

Who could the English sides face in Monday's last-16 draw?

Arsenal - Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Monaco, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Porto
Chelsea - Juventus, Basel, Bayer Leverkusen, PSG, Shakhtar Donetsk
Manchester City - Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Monaco, Borussia Dortmund, Barcelona, Porto

Country-by-country breakdown of the last-16 teams

4 - Germany (Bayer Leverkusen, Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich, Schalke)
3 - England (Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City)
3 - Spain (Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Barcelona)
2 - France (Monaco, Paris St-Germain)
1 - Italy (Juventus)
1 - Portugal (Porto)
1 - Switzerland (Basel)
1 - Ukraine (Shakhtar Donetsk)

No new faces

Every one of the 16 teams in the knockout stages have been at that stage before.

Chelsea top the scoring charts

Chelsea were the top scorers of all 32 teams in the Champions League group stages with 17. This is despite the fact that none of their players scored more than two goals. John Terry is their joint top scorer, while Diego Costa is yet to net in the tournament.

Real Madrid perfect

Real Madrid - one of only six teams to ever finish a Champions League group with maximum points - became the first team to do it twice this season.
Their 16 goals were the joint second-highest - along with Bayern Munich and Porto - behind Chelsea.

Barcelona top the pile again

Barcelona have finished top of their Champions League group for an eighth consecutive season. The last team to beat them to top spot were Chelsea back in 2006-07, with Barca losing to Liverpool in the last 16.

75 and counting - Lionel Messi winning record duel

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo came into the season on 67 Champions League goals each, four behind Raul's record of 71. Messi broke it on 25 November with a hat-trick in Barcelona's 4-0 win at Apoel Nicosia - taking him to 74. He has since scored number 75, against PSG.
However, it is a record that could be broken many times in the coming years, with Ronaldo now up to 72.

21 October 2014 - the night of records

Shakhtar Donetsk thrashed Bate Borisov 7-0 for the joint-biggest away win in Champions League history, with Luiz Adriano scoring five, levelling Messi's tournament record for goals in a single match. Six of the Ukrainian side's goals were in the first half - another record.
There were 40 goals over the night - another tournament record for a matchday with eight games. (The 1997 record of 44 goals were across 12 matches).

Scaled down and goal shy, but Monaco are through

Monaco sit seventh in the French league after moving on star names James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao during the summer as they cut their budget dramatically.
So the fact they scored only four goals in the Champions League group stages may not be a major surprise.
However, remarkably that has been enough to take them through as Group C winners thanks to a 2-0 win, two 1-0 victories and two goalless draws. By contrast, Sporting Lisbon - with 12 goals in Group G - did not qualify.

Most leaky defence ever, but not the worst team

Bate Borisov have conceded a record 24 goals in the Champions League group stages. They went into Wednesday's game with Athletic Bilbao sharing the record of 22 with Dinamo Zagreb (2011-12) and FC Nordsjaelland (2012-13) and then lost 2-0 to the Spanish side.
However, their 2-1 win over Athletic earlier in qualifying means they picked up more points than Galatasaray and Apoel Nicosia (one each) this season.

The top players of the group stages...

Source: BBC Football

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Manchester United's injury crisis is Louis van Gaal's fault, says former assistant manager Mike Phelan

Mike Phelan, Sir Alex Ferguson’s former assistant manager atManchester United, has claimed Louis van Gaal must shoulder the blame for the club’s ongoing injury crisis after overhauling the fitness regime since taking charge at Old Trafford.
United have suffered over 40 separate injuries since the start of the season, with defender Chris Smalling the latest to suffer a setback by sustaining a groin injury during Monday’s 2-1 victory at Southampton.
Radamel Falcao, Phil Jones, Jonny Evans and Luke Shaw have all endured lengthy injury absences this term and Phelan, who was relieved of his duties at United by David Moyes in May 2013, claims that Van Gaal’s decision to move fitness coach Tony Strudwick from his first-team role may have contributed to the injury problems.
"What's happened is a continuation of the same players getting injured all the time, so you have to look to the reasons why,” Phelan told the International Business Times.
“I think Manchester United changed their thoughts on the fitness regime, they looked at it a little bit differently.
"Tony Strudwick, who was operating as head of sports science, was involved day to day with the first team.
“He understood the ins and outs of how to keep players fit, how to keep them ready for competition.
“Then suddenly they moved him sideways and did something completely different. That may have had an effect. That one area has changed.”
United declined to comment on Phelan’s remarks, but it is understood that Strudwick’s new role as Head of Athletic Development was regarded as a promotion at Old Trafford, with Jos van Dijk – Van Gaal’s long-standing fitness specialist – taking charge of first-team fitness matters.
"They've brought in new people with a different way of doing things,” Phelan, now working at Norwich City, added. “The intensity of training may be one thing - it may be too intense, or not intense enough - but obviously slight changes have been made with the present way of doing things.
"I would have thought [the squad] is big enough at Manchester United, because they can go out and get players in, but obviously they keep breaking down and they don't seem to be getting any better.
“They seem to get one back and lose another two.
“He [Van Gaal] knows now roughly the intensity of the Premier League and what his players can produce. He's been at the highest level, working with the highest players, in different countries.
"It's just a case of maybe understanding the specific requirements of players, individual players, where they need to be at certain times in order to perform. He's got enough staff there to sort that out."
Source: Telegraph football

Sergio Aguero: Man City striker out for four to six weeks - Pellegrini

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero is set to miss between four and six weeks with a knee ligament injury, manager Manuel Pellegrini says.
The Argentine, 26, was injured in the third minute of Saturday's 1-0 win over Everton after a challenge with Muhamed Besic, and left the pitch in tears.
"He will be out for four to six weeks," said Pellegrini, whose side face Roma in the Champions League on Wednesday.
"It will depend on his recovery. But our team doesn't depend on one player."
City are trying to avoid Champions League elimination in Rome, and the absence of Aguero - the Premier League's top scorer with 14 goals - is a big blow.
Pellegrini's side will be knocked out if Group E rivals CSKA Moscow win away to Bayern Munich.
A draw for Leonid Slutsky's side in Munich would mean City need to win in Rome to go through. But a score draw would be enough for Pellegrini's team if CSKA lost.
Aguero has earned widespread acclaim for his performances this season, with Pellegrini hailing the striker as "one of the best players in the world".
His highlights include scoring all four in a 4-1 rout of Tottenham on 18 October and a hat-trick in the 3-2 Champions League win over Bayern Munich on 25 November.
Source: BBC football

Manchester United news: Edward Glazer puts three million shares up for sale and stands to make £28m

Edward Glazer, one of Malcolm Glazer's six children, has put three million shares in Manchester United up for sale, little more than six months after his father's death, and stands to recoup in the region of £28.7million.
Malcolm Glazer took ownership of United in May 2005, but his death in May this year saw his children take an equal split of shares.
A statement released by the Premier League club and the New York Stock Exchange - where 10 per cent of United's shares are listed - announced the offer of "Class A Ordinary Shares".
It means Edward Glazer, who serves as co-chairman of Tampa Bay Buccaneers and is co-president of the Glazer Family Foundation, is to receive a windfall from the sale, which could be concluded this week.
The statement read: "Manchester United plc today announced the offering of 3,000,000 of its Class A Ordinary Shares by the Edward S. Glazer Irrevocable Exempt Trust (the 'Selling Shareholder').
"The underwriter will have an option to purchase up to an additional 450,000 Class A Ordinary Shares from the Selling Shareholder.
"Manchester United will not receive any proceeds from the sale of any Class A Ordinary Shares by the Selling Shareholder. The offering is expected to close on December 12, 2014, subject to customary closing conditions."

Source: Telegraph football

Monday, 8 December 2014

Enrique: More to Messi than just goals

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique insists Lionel Messi is more than just a goalscorer after the Argentinian passed 400 club goals with his third hat-trick in four games in the 5-1 victory over Espanyol on Sunday.
The 27-year-old reached the milestone when he scored on the stroke of half-time to cancel out Sergio Garcia's opener for Espanyol, before adding his second five minutes after the interval. 
Gerard Pique notched Barça's third three minutes later to put them firmly in control, before Pedro added gloss to the scoreline, and Messi turned it into a rout as he followed up hat-tricks against Sevilla and Apoel Nicosia with another three-goal haul.
What interests us really, in Leo's case, is that he brings as much as he can to the team.
Luis Enrique on Lionel Messi
Messi, who recently became the leading scorer in La Liga history, has now scored 402 goals in competitive and friendly matches for Barça. Messi's treble came just 24 hours after Cristiano Ronaldo set a new Liga record of 23 hat-tricks, but Enrique was just as impressed with his star's overall contribution as he was with his goal scoring exploits.
"What interests us really, in Leo's case, is that he brings as much as he can to the team," Enrique told Barcelona's official website. "Today (Sunday), he's done that scoring goals but also he's created chances and he's also worked very hard defensively. He's shown maximum commitment as he has done since the start of the season."
Enrique pinpointed Messi's first goal as being crucial to swinging the match in Barcelona's favour as the Catalans won their seventh straight match in all competitions. "I think the equaliser at the end of the first half was key and I think that gave us a deserved equaliser given what we had seen in the first half," the former Celta Vigo coach added.
"I think we were much better in the second half, we were much more fluid. The players when they got into the area were much more dangerous and we were much more effective in front of goal."

Man Utd's Radamel Falcao only fit for 20 minutes - Louis Van Gaal

Radamel Falcao is only fit enough to play for 20 minutes, according to Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal.
The Colombian came off the bench in United's last two matches and Van Gaal said he "was not interested" if the striker was happy with that role.
Falcao, 28, is returning from a calf injury and has been pressed into action due to other injuries to the squad.
Dutchman Van Gaal said: "I have selected him in spite of the fact he can only play for 20 minutes."
With captain Wayne Rooney sidelined for Tuesday night's 2-1 win against Stoke, 19-year-old James Wilson started ahead of Falcao.
Van Gaal said: "It's match fitness [he needs].
"It would be a better contribution if he played with the second team but I cannot do that because on Tuesday we had the match against Stoke and Wayne Rooney was injured."