Monday, May 6, 2013

Just a similarity

Ajax, Juventus & Galatasaray join title celebrations

Manchester United were joined in wrapping up their league title early by Ajax, Juventus and Galatasaray on Sunday.

Antonio Conte's side beat Palermo to put the race for Serie A beyond Napoli, while the Dutch outfit secured their 32nd Eredivisie crown.

Galatasaray picked up their 19th Turkish title with victory over Sivasspor to become the most successful team in the country's history.

With PSG closing in on the Ligue 1 championship, the likes of Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini are left to look on enviously. 

Heynckes and Klopp play Guess Who

Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich faced off in a Bundesliga dead rubber on Saturday afternoon in a dress rehearsal for the Champions League final later this month.

But both BVB boss Jurgen Klopp and die Roten manager Jupp Heynckes played around with their team selections, carefully avoiding giving too much away ahead of their European encounter.

Star players such as Mats Hummels, Lukasz Piszczek, Marco Reus and Sven Bender were rested for the home side, while Bayern made eight changes from the team that beat Barcelona in midweek.

And so with both managers keeping their cards extremely close to their chest, who knows how the teams will line up at Wembley... 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Fact! Mourinho launches into Benitez-esque rant

Jose Mourinho may not be at Real Madrid for much longer, but the Portuguese coach made sure reporters remember his contribution at the Bernabeu on Friday.

Goal understands the Special One will move to Chelsea in the summer after an agreement was reached in principle, paving the way for his Stamford Bridge return.

But Mourinho reminded everyone of his achievements in Madrid, in a press conference similar to that of Rafa Benitez - the man he is set to replace in London - during his time at Liverpool.

"I am always hoping there is some 'smart guy' who will ask me a question which requires a piece of paper," he said.

"The record league title is mine; I have played in three Champions League semi-finals, which doesn't personally leave me satisfied. [But] it can't be easy because 18 coaches in 21 years [have only reached] five Champions League semi-finals at Real Madrid. The bad guy is Mourinho, with three in three seasons.

"My work is never valued in absolute terms but in terms of what I have achieved and that's my fault because I have won so much that the expectations are always much higher than what I am able to achieve later on.

"You journalists will want to wipe me off the list but you won't be able to - only when there is a team which wins 101 points [in La Liga]. Twenty years without winning the Copa - and we won it. The records of (100 points, 121 goals) is mine, it can't be deleted and it doesn't feed my ego." 

Rafa hits the jackpot as Luiz sends Chelsea into Europa League final

David Luiz was the toast of Stamford Bridge on Thursday night as he completed the scoring to help Chelsea beat Basel 3-1 in the Europa League semi-final second leg.

The Brazilian has developed something of a reputation for a stunning goal, and his latest - a thunderous curling strike into the top corner - was no exception.

The victory saw Chelsea secure a 5-2 aggregate victory, giving Rafa Benitez the chance to contest a Europa League final and finish his interim stay at Stamford Bridge with a piece of silverware. 

Bayern Munich too strong for weakened Barcelona

Bayern Munich booked a place in the Champions League final with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Barcelona on Wednesday night.

Already four goals down from the first leg at the Allianz Arena, the Camp Nou giants were facing a tall order in turning over the deficit.

And their task was made harder by Lionel Messi's lack of fitness, with the Argentina star only able to watch on from the bench.

What followed was a dominant showing by the Bundesliga side, who were simply too strong for Barcelona.

Arjen Robben opened the scoring with a superb strike, before Gerard Pique deflected a cross into his own net and Thomas Muller completed the rout with a header from close range to seal a humiliating 7-0 aggregate defeat for Tito Vilanova's men. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Goodbye Bernabeu! Mourinho welcomed back at the Bridge

Jose Mourinho gave the biggest indication yet that he is set to leave Real Madrid at the end of the season after watching is side suffer elimination from the Champions League to Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday night.

"I know I'm loved in England," Mourinho said after Madrid won 2-0, but were beaten 4-3 on aggregate by the Bundesliga side. "Loved by the fans, the media. I know I'm loved by some clubs - especially one." understands the Special One has agreed a deal to return to Chelsea, with Falcao set to follow him to Stamford Bridge.

And while Branislav Ivanovic has admitted the Blues 'cannot wait' for Mourinho to return, the likes of Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas might be pleased to see the back of him at the Bernabeu.