Posts Tagged ‘football’

Juve suffer Mandzukic injury blow

Juventus have suffered a blow after Mario Mandzukic was sidelined for up to three weeks on Monday, notably ruling the Croatian out of the Turin giants’ Champions League clash at home to Sevilla.

Both Mandzukic and fellow striker Alvaro Morata were forced off towards the end of Juve’s 2-0 victory away to Genoa on Sunday, which ended the reigning champions’ quest for a first Serie A win of the campaign.

Mandzukic underwent tests on Monday which “revealed a first grade tear in his right thigh muscle. He will be sidelined from competition for 20 days,” according to a statement on Juve’s website.

It means Mandzukic will not be available for the visit of Sevilla on September 30, when Juve will look to continue their positive start to their Group D campaign.

The Croatian could also miss his country’s crucial Euro 2016 qualifier against Bulgaria on October 8.

There was good news, however, regarding Morata, who scored Juve’s winning goal in a precious 2-1 victory over Manchester City in their Champions League opener last week.

The Spaniard had complained of an abdominal muscle pain on Sunday but tests revealed no strain or tear, according to the club statement.

Juventus are in Sere A action at home to Frosinone on Wednesday.

Catalan independence ‘would put Barca out of Liga’

The head of the Spanish football league warned on Monday that champions Barcelona could not play in Spain’s La Liga if Catalan nationalists succeeded in making their region independent.

“The law of sport is very clear: the only non-Spanish competitors are the Andorran clubs” from the small neighbouring principality, said Javier Tebas, president of the Spanish Professional Football League.

If Catalonia broke away from Spain, as nationalists have vowed to do if they win Sunday’s regional election, La Liga “would be a league without Catalan clubs”, he told Spanish television.

As well as Barca and its football, basketball and handball teams, such an exclusion would affect others such as Espanyol, the other big top division side from Barcelona.

Catalan nationalist leaders have vowed to declare independence within 18 months if they win the vote on September 27. Polls show they may win a majority in the regional parliament.

Wolfsburg hunt third-straight win over Bayern

Wolfsburg face Bayern Munich on Tuesday hunting a third-straight victory over their Bavarian rivals in a key test of the hosts’ aspirations of winning an unprecedented fourth German league title.

“I’ve always said that we can compete on a good day with Bayern, but that takes courage and determination,” said Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking at Monday’s press conference.

“We need to focus on ourselves. Bayern usually have 70 percent of the ball at home, if we can get 40 or 45 percent, that’ll be good, and we can keep them away from our goal.”

Wolfsburg have won the last two meetings between the teams — a 4-1 league trouncing of Bayern in January was followed by a penalty shoot-out victory in August as Wolves lifted the German Super Cup, also at home.

Bayern, who have never lost to Wolfsburg in Munich, are second, on goal-difference behind Borussia Dortmund in the table, with their visitors just behind in third.

Hecking admits he is no fan of Bayern’s Allianz Arena — “I prefer other stadiums” — but offered a good reason why away teams are usually awarded few penalties at the home of the defending champions.

“That’s down to the fact that Bayern normally gets in the opponents’ penalty box at least 20 times, while the away team are usually only in their box once or twice,” he added.

Hecking said he regretted his public criticism of Wolfsburg’s Bas Dost, who he described as behaving like ‘someone took his toys’ after being substituted at half-time of their Champions League win over CSKA Moscow last Tuesday.

The Dutch striker bounced back from the harsh criticism after coming off the bench to seal a 2-0 win over Hertha Berlin on Saturday.

“I have been working openly with Bas Dost for two-and-a-half years, perhaps I shouldn’t have make things public,” admitted Hecking.

Dost is battling with ex-Arsenal forward Nicklas Bendtner for the striker berth.

Coach Pep Guardiola will welcome back Poland star Robert Lewandowski after the striker missed Saturday’s 3-0 win at Darmstadt, having suffered a minor injury, and he trained on Sunday.

But Bayern were giving out mixed messages about the importance of the Wolfsburg clash as they also host Bundesliga leaders Dortmund in a fortnight.

“It’s extremely important, but it’s also nothing special,” said Bayern’s director of sport Matthias Sammer, while centre-back Jerome Boateng said the defending champions had given no thoughts to revenge.

Guardiola rested Philipp Lahm, Xabi Alonso, Thiago Alcantara and Thomas Mueller from the starting side in Darmstadt to keep plenty in reserve for Wolfsburg.

“We will decide the game,” insisted Boateng.

“There were only a few times after the 4-1 win when they played better, but we always did,” said Boateng.

Wolves’ Brazil international Luiz Gustavo and Dante will be returning to the club where they won the 2013 treble of Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup titles.

Coach Mikhail Fomenko Hopes His Players Talking

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Wenger warns Arsenal to keep cool in derby showdown

Arsene Wenger has warned his hot-headed Arsenal players not to lose their composure again when they face bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the League Cup third round on Wednesday.

Wenger’s side head to White Hart Lane for the first north London derby of the season after two successive defeats featuring three red cards for the Gunners.

France striker Olivier Giroud was dismissed in last week’s Champions League loss against Dinamo Zagreb, while Brazilian defender Gabriel and Spanish midfielder Santi Cazorla were sent off in Saturday’s painful 2-0 defeat at Chelsea.

Wenger largely blamed Chelsea’s Diego Costa for provoking Gabriel into the kick that led to his dismissal.

But the centre-back has since been charged with improper conduct for his protests after being sent off and the Arsenal manager acknowledges his team need to do a better job of keeping their emotions under control even in the face of extreme provocation.

“It’s true that we played the last two games with 10 men in the second half and I hope we play the next one with 11 v 11,” Wenger said.

“But it’s another derby and that’s not guaranteed as well.”

Yet there are few more testing environments in which to do that than White Hart Lane on derby day, when the hatred and bile will pour down from the stands towards Wenger’s players.

Another factor that could negate Wenger’s attempts to clamp down on the rash of red cards is Arsenal’s desperation to get back on track after a pair of defeats that raised renewed questions about their ability to win the Premier League and Champions League.

Although the League Cup is traditionally well down Wenger’s list of priorities and he often fields inexperienced starting line-ups in the competition, Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey suggested he wouldn’t mind skipping an evening’s rest to help his club to a morale-boosting win.

“It’s not good enough for a club like Arsenal to lose two games in a row,” Ramsey said.

“Hopefully now we can put things right on Wednesday. It will be a feisty game with hopefully some goals in our favour.”

While Arsenal’s spluttering start to the season has taken a turn for the worse over the last week, Tottenham have recorded three consecutive victories to revive hopes of a successful season after a sluggish opening.

And Tottenham’s Belgian defender Jan Vertonghen believes boss Mauricio Pochettino is building a young team capable of great things.

South Korea forward Son Heung-Min, 23, is the new idol of the Lane after his first Premier League goal — and third in just three appearances in all competitions — clinched a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace on Sunday.

Son’s fine start following his transfer from Bayer Leverkusen is part of a youth movement also including 19-year-old Dele Alli, 21-year-old Eric Dier, 22-year-olds Ben Davies and Harry Kane and 23-year-olds Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen.

“Things are looking very good. We have great young players and a good mix, so there are great things for the team if we can keep working like this. It looks very good for the future,” Vertonghen said.

One concern, however, remains the usually-prolific Kane’s disappointing form.

The England striker is without a club goal this season but Vertonghen is confident he will rediscover his touch soon.

“He has just been a bit unlucky,” Vertonghen said. “He scored for England and in the training sessions he has been doing very well, so the goals will come.

“He’s not a guy who will just have one good season and then you never see him again. He has the qualities to perform and the goals will come eventually.”

Defeat By Ukraine On Tuesday Will Leave England’s

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Cristiano Ronaldo Stars As Northern Ireland’s Old Windsor

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