Archive for November, 2012

Villas-Boas admits Real Madrid target Gareth Bale could be sold

 

Andre Villas-Boas refused to rule out the sale of Tottenham winger Gareth Bale after his match-winning performance against Liverpool in Wednesday night’s 2-1 victory at White Hart Lane.

The Portuguese boss lavished praise on his winger before suggesting the 23-year-old would have his suitors and it would be difficult for the club to keep hold of him, with Goal.com having exclusively revealed that the Welshman is ready to tell Spurs of his intent to leave next summer if Real Madrid meet his €60 million asking price.

Villas-Boas told reporters: “At the moment he is performing extremely well for Spurs and we are amazed at what he can do for us. He is on to a great career.

“Obviously Tottenham as a football club want to keep him here for as long as we can but we understand players like this have propositions and a market which is the nature of the game.”

In a sensational opening 30 minutes, the Wales international assisted Aaron Lennon’s opener by beating two players near the halfway line and careering towards the penalty area, finally squaring for Lennon to tap in.

Soon after, he took his tally for the season to seven after deceiving Pepe Reina with the flight of his free kick – the work of a technique modelled on Cristiano Ronaldo.

And Villas-Boas could see the similarities in the comparisons between the two stars, adding: “Players learn through what they see. With Ronaldo we saw that you can almost hit under the ball and it gains an effect where it drops and changes direction.

“He [Bale] has the power to do that. He keeps on practising this technique and we are pleased to have it.”

Tottenham’s win was their fifth consecutive triumph over Liverpool at White Hart Lane and Villas-Boas apportioned this victory to the effectiveness of Bale.

“He’s scoring more than last season by this stage,” he said. “He is more free, getting more of the ball, the team is creating conditions for him to appear more. He is enjoying himself on the pitch.

“His physical freshness, his motivation towards playing, what he does offensively and defensively. He takes over the whole of the left wing. He helps the full-back so much. It’s never-ending. His pace, it’s electric.

“This is a player who was captain for 90 minutes against Lazio, played 90 minutes against West Ham, Liverpool, he keeps on going. Him and Lennon down the channels have been absolutely amazing this season.”

There was a sour note, though, as Bale was cautioned by referee Phil Dowd in the second half for simulation. However, replays appeared to show Daniel Agger made contact with Bale just before he went down and Villas-Boas sympathised.

“I’m told there was contact,” he added. “He’s very, very quick – sometimes it’s difficult for the referees to judge the situation. Sometimes you might think that it’s not a foul when it’s a foul and vice-versa.”

Juventus prepare €7m offer for Fernando Llorente

 

Fernando Llorente could be on his way out of Athletic Bilbao in the January transfer window as Juventus are ready to make a €7 million offer for the powerful attacker.
The Serie A champions already attempted to lure the Spain international to Turin in the summer transfer window, but Athletic refused to let go of the 27-year-old earlier this year.

The Bianconeri are hopeful that the Basque side are willing to cash in on Llorente now, though, as the striker remains reluctant to sign a new deal, and could leave the club on a free transfer at the end of the season.

Llorente has mainly been warming the bench at San Mames ever since he announced his desire to leave at the end of the 2012-13 campaign, and he is desperate to leave sooner rather than later in order to get his career back on track.

The potential arrival of Llorente at Juventus Stadium effectively means the end of Alessandro Matri or Nicklas Bendtner’s spell with the Old Lady.

Juve are ready to part company with one of the two once they have secured the services of a new striker, and general director Giuseppe Marotta has scheduled meetings with the agents of both players next week to discuss their future at the club.

Javi Martinez My first Bayern goal feels special

 

Bayern Munich midfielder Javi Martinez has revealed his happiness after opening his account for the club during the 5-0 win over Hannover on Saturday.

The Spain international has endured a difficult start to life at the Allianz Arena since his summer move from Athletic Bilbao, but notched the first as his side cruised to an easy win over Mirko Slomka’a side.

“It was my first goal in the Bundesliga for Bayern Munich, and it’s something special,” he told Bundesliga.com.

“I’m very happy because it helped the team. I’m taking the ball, it’s special for me, and I’m keeping it as a souvenir. I’ll look after it very carefully.

“Another win against a difficult team, and I’m very happy to have scored my first goal. The team started very well. We tried to keep the ball in their half and cause them problems right from the start.

“My goal helped us.”

Martinez went on to reveal that the over-head kick was the first that he had tried which had come off.

The Spain international added: “I’ve tried a few in the past, but that’s the first that’s gone in!”

AC Milan penalty undeserved

 

AC Milan boss Massmiliano Allegri has admitted his side were fortunate to be awarded a decisive penalty during their 1-0 win over Juventus on Sunday evening.

Robinho scored the only goal of the game from the spot after Mauricio Isla was adjudged to have handled inside the area, although replays showed the ball clearly struck his ribs.

Allegri conceded the penalty award was an incorrect call from the officials, but was quick to praise his side for their committed and organised display as they consigned the Bianconeri to their first away defeat in 18 months.

“From the touchline it really did seem like a spot kick, but watching the replays it should not have been given,” he told Sky Sport Italia.

“This game was a real battle by the players. We only allowed Juventus one shot on target, while there were four or five great scoring opportunities for us.

“I think the team did its absolute best against a Juve side that is doing great things. It’s wonderful that we managed to avoid basically giving Juventus any chances at all.

“We defended in a very organised manner and the lads deserve so much credit for this. We worked well as a unit, which is a positive sign.

“Stephan El Shaarawy didn’t score, but he has great qualities and really takes it up a notch when playing wide.”

The victory was a highlight in what has been a difficult week for Allegri, after Silvio Berlusconi revealed he was seeking to bring in Pep Guardiola as the 45-year-old’s replacement in the near future.

Allegri, however, shrugged off the speculation in somewhat nonchalant style, claiming he was “flattered” to hear that a coach of Guardiola’s calibre had been identified to succeed him.

“I feel flattered that the club is looking for Guardiola as my replacement, seeing as he is one of the best coaches in the world,” he said.

La Liga title race not over yet

 

Barcelona boss Tito Vilanova has stressed that the Liga title race is not over, despite his side opening up an 11-point gap to champions Real Madrid.
The Blaugrana cruised to a 4-0 win over Levante on Sunday evening, taking full advantage of los Blancos’ 1-0 defeat to Real Betis on Saturday night before to consolidate their position at the top of the table.

However, Vilanova has warned that there is still a long way to go this season, and highlighted the threat posed by current second-placed side Atletico Madrid, who defeated Sevilla 4-0 at Vicente Calderon earlier on Sunday evening.

He told reporters after the match: “We scored very quickly in the second half and that defined the match. The first half was what we expected, because they are a team that works very well [together] and they break quickly.

“The league is not finished. Firstly because we’ve only played third of it, and then because Atletico are behind us and are very strong.

“There’s still a lot to play for, 75 points is a lot. Also, remember that in the first year that we were 11 points clear of Real Madrid and had to go to the Bernabeu and win.

“Atletico have had a good start, which isn’t a surprise as they finished last season very strongly. All we can do is focus on beating Athletic. I want to focus only on us.”

Mainz – Borussia Dortmund Preview

 

There is nothing quite like sealing your place in the knock-out phase of the Champions League to send you into the weekend with a spring in your step.

That is the case for Borussia Dortmund who swept Ajax aside 4-1 on Wednesday and confirmed that they are indeed a force to be reckoned with in Europe.

It has been a different story in the Bundesliga, however, with the reigning champions in fourth place on 22 points, nine points adrift of runaway leaders Bayern Munich heading into Saturday’s game.

But their form since the 2-2 draw with Real Madrid on October 10 has been encouraging and back-to-back 3-1 wins over Augsburg and Greuther Furth leave BVB in rude health.

Mainz are enjoying a positive season of their own, though, and after finishing 13th in the division last season, the hosts sit in a respectable eighth place – just five behind Jurgen Klopp’s side.

The visitors will be without Lars Bender who misses out with a nose injury, while Patrick Owomoyela continues his rehabilitation from surgery on a troublesome calf problem.

Niko Bungert, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Chinedu Edu are missing for Mainz through knee, fitness and hamstring problems respectively.

  • Borussia Dortmund have emerged 2-1 victors from their last two clashes with Mainz.
  • BVB have won three and drawn two of their last five games in all competitions.
  • Robert Lewandowski has scored two goals in each of his last three games.
  • Mainz’s last victory over Dortmund came back in 2009 when they won 1-0 at the Coface Arena. 
  • Christian Heidel’s team have won four of their five home games in the Bundesliga this season, losing just once.
  • Goals have been hard to come by for Saturday’s hosts, however, with just 15 scored from their 12 league games to date.
  • A Mainz victory would move the club to within just two points of Jurgen Klopp’s side in the table.

Paris Saint-Germain vs Troyes Preview

 

Paris Saint-Germain coach Carlo Ancelotti is likely to name the same XI against Troyes on Saturday evening.

Javier Pastore is set to return after being benched in favour of Nene, whilst Wednesday’s two-goal hero Ezequiel Lavezzi should retain his place behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Jeremy Menez is a doubt after sitting out last weekend, whilst Mamadou Sakho returns from suspension. Ibrahimovic will potentially feature in his first Ligue 1 game since his red card against Saint-Etienne.

For Troyes, not many changes are expected, with Fabien Camus to replace on-loan PSG midfielder Jean-Christophe Bahebeck.

  • Paris Saint-Germain have lost their last two Ligue 1 home games – against Saint-Etienne and Rennes.
  • Carlo Ancelotti’s men have not scored more than one goal in their last five league encounters.
  • PSG have not won with Ezequiel Lavezzi having started so far domestically.
  • Troyes will be searching for their first league victory in Paris in 10 attempts.
  • The visitors languish in 19th place, with just one win in 13 league encounters so far this season.
  • If Saturday’s visitors do win, it’ll be their first away victory in 17 top-flight matches on the road.