Thursday, March 31, 2016

Bale: "I feel there's a lot more to come from me"

Gareth Bale faced the press in the run-up to the 'Clásico', stating that he andReal Madrid have not given up all hope of winning the La Liga title despite Barça being ten points ahead of them. "Anything is possible", he stressed.

Asked about his position, Bale noted that, "everybody knows I like to play centrally and to be able to move around, but obviously we're not playing that formation at the moment". He added that he enjoys being able to "drift in" when lining up on the right, while insisting that he doesn't "mind" playing on the left, which is where he's been used recently.

On the subject of the tributes to Johan Cruyff before this weekend's match, the Welshman commented: "Everyone respects him as a footballer and a man. Everybody will want to pay their respects and rightfully so".

Nevertheless, Bale said that Real Madrid will not be distracted by these tributes and also claimed that they are not letting their thoughts wander ahead to their forthcoming European tie against Wolfsburg. He maintained that 'Los Blancos' will "take every game as it comes" and that they are gunning to keep improving and to get the win in the 'Clásico' to help "build up" their "confidence as a team", so that they can "take that improvement and confidence into the Champions League". "Hopefully we can have a good run of form and take home some trophies", he noted.

Barça left in need

Luis Enrique has quite a headache to deal with running in to the last games of the season.

Jeremy Mathieu, the Barça manager's go-to sub both in the centre of defence and out on the left flank, will soon have his left knee operated on following a knock that he picked up during the France-Russia game. Although he may lose the plot once in a while out on the playing field, he is in fact the twelfth most active player in the team.

The first game that the Frenchman will miss is the all-important 'Clásico'. Bearing in mind the niggles that Jordi Alba can't seem to shake off in his ankle and the thousands of miles that Mascherano has recently travelled in order to play for his country, under normal circumstances, Mathieu would have a very good chance of being picked for the game.

He would be the logical choice, especially if we consider that his performances as of late have been outstanding: he scored with a blinding header in his team's 2-1 home victory last season and put in a good show in the 4-0 away drubbing that they gave Real last November. Alas, he is to go under the knife to get his meniscus bone sorted and will not be match fit for some time to come.

Neither will Luis Enrique be able to count on the services of Adriano, out with muscle strain. Alba is therefore the only left-back available for the job - but don't be too surprised if we see him rested in readiness for Champions League commitments. If he is, 'jack of all trades' Sergi Roberto could be tasked with taking up defending duties out on the left wing. With Mathieu unavailable, other options are Bartra and Vermaelen.

ZZ wants the ball

Ever since Zinedine Zidane's arrival in the Bernabéu dugout, he has wanted his players to take charge of matches, to control the game and dominate proceedings. He has no intention of giving up on that against Barcelona, a team that they have struggled, for years, to compete with for possession. Los Blancos have beaten them with others tools, like quick counter-attack football, but wrestling control of the ball from them is another matter altogether.

However, Zidane is not giving up and does not plan to change his game plan. He wants his team to press high up the pitch, win the ball back quickly, keep it and move it quickly about the park, even at the Camp Nou. For that reason, there has been no end of training matches over half a pitch this week, with the Frenchman trying to instil in his players the need for quick and pinpoint passing. That is the only way to deal with the pressure that Barcelona will put them under.

Of course, taking their own goalscoring chances is key too. That is another thing that Zidane has worked on this week, especially with Benzema and Bale. Making the most of their chances is going to be crucial, which is why there have been so many shooting drills and exercises at Valdebebas this week.

Zidane wants the ball and wants to hurt Barcelona. This is a game in which the Frenchman wants his players to showcase a new playing style out on the pitch: it is not about waiting for the opposition, but more about going after the game.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Ramos: "I would love to win the Ballon d'Or"

Real Madrid and 'La Roja' defender,Sergio Ramos, has said today that he feels he is at the "most important" point of his life right now, having become a father and putting in a "great season" with his club, in addition to winning the Champions League.
"I'm at my best. I've had a great year, both on a personal and professional front. Let's hope it continues for the World Cup in Brazil. The whole Spanish national squad have to give it every last drop of sweat", he said.
"I would love to win the Ballon d'Or, but honestly, I'm not even thinking about it. In the end, individual titles are achieved with the help of all your teammates. It isn't Sergio Ramos's 'Decima', it's everyone's. There are lots of people who have worked hard to win the title. It's been a great year for all 'Madridistas'".
Prior to being presented with the City of Seville Medal by the Seville City Council, Ramos admitted that he has nothing to complain about and that he has had some "really great" experiences this year, describing becoming a father as one of the "happiest" moments of his life, with the added "bonus" of the Champions League victory which "rounds the year off perfectly".
"This is the most important time of my life and the truth is that I'm loving it. I'm really happy about becoming a father and about having had a great season. Those things all add up and make you grow emotionally" the Real Madrid star

Agüero wants to go to Barça with Messi

Leonel del Castillo,Sergio Agüero's father, assured on Esports COPE that his son "would love to go to Barcelona" to be able to playalongside Messi. Barça would love to take him on board but Manchester City insists that the player is not for sale.
Kun's father admitted that the chances of his son leaving the Premier to strut his stuff back in Spain are slight. "Manchester City make it impossible", he lamented.
Barcelona have revealed that the club is willing to fork out €38 million for the forward, but in England the word is that City won't even think about it until the figure sits at around €100 million.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

"Xavi is the architect of Barça"

The president of FC Barcelona, Sandro Rosell has nothing but praise for midfielder Xavi Hernandez who has just received the Agrupació Barça Jugadors (ABJ) award for fair play. As far as Rosell is concerned, he is the "architect" of the team which wouldn't be what it is today without him. He also described him as the best Spanish player in terms of numbers and statistics.
"Barça's game cannot be understood without Xavi... it would be harder for others to score without him, and he, together with Iniesta, Busquets and Messi invented 'tiki taka'. It's Xavi's trademark. Barça wouldn't be the same without him and we are very proud that he is part of our family." Rosell said at the award ceremony.
Rosell also believes Xavi is a great football player and an even better person. "He's a legend at Barça. Time always sets the record straight, and before too long when he is a coach - a proposal I second - we will realize everything Xavi has done (for the club) and say, 'Wow, amazing!'. He has helped to make Barça what it is today, a respected and admired club. He has had a hand in making it happen."
"I love statistics, and if we look at the figures, they don't lie - Xavi has made almost 700 appearances for Barça and, in terms of numbers, he is the best ever Spanish player." he concluded.

"I can't imagine Messi not playing," says Simeone

The Atlético manager looked ahead to this Saturday's game against Barcelona. "It's going to be a huge game and a beautiful one to be involved in. We'll use everything at our disposal to try and win," said Simeone.
The Argentine praised Barça and its manager, his fellow countryman Gerardo Martino. "Barcelona has an amazing squad. They're quicker, more direct and have a crossover game, which makes them very dangerous. They're better one on one and are more direct which also makes them more dangerous. Martino has given more options to a side which already had plenty," he said.
Regarding Messi's presence in the game, Simeone said: "I'm very pleased that Messi is fit and I wish him all the best because, as an Argentine, we need him to win the World Cup. It would be tough to see this game without Messi. I cannot imagine him not playing, although it's always a possibility."
He was also asked about his 'game at a time' philosophy. "I've thought the same ever since I arrived at the club. We have a better chance if we take it a game at a time. We're taking things as they come and are leading the pack", he explained.
El Cholo commented on the differences between Barça and Atlético and what type of game can be expected. "They're better than us individually. We focus on teamwork and keeping it tight on the pitch. We're stronger as a team and we challenge as such. Regarding the game, I think they'll see more of the ball than us and I expect a similar game to that of the Spanish Super Cup," he concluded.
He finally talked about what Atlético is about. "Historically, we're the people's team," he said.

Liga - Barcelona angry after Rosell targeted over Neymar contract

Barcelona have reacted angrily to a request by the state prosecutor to open proceedings against club president Sandro Rosell for the alleged misappropriation of funds in last year's purchase of Neymar.

The Brazil forward signed for the Spanish champions in the close season for 57.1 million euros, of which 17.1 million euros went to his former club Santos.
Barca club member Jordi Cases filed a complaint seeking clarification over what happened to the remaining 40 million euros and on Friday the state prosecutor asked the judge overseeing the case to open proceedings against Rosell, who denies wrongdoing.
The judge has yet to rule on the prosecutor's request.
"Barcelona Football Club wishes to express its most energetic indignation about the report by the state prosecutor on the signing of Neymar Da Silva Santos Junior," Barca said in a statement on their website ( on Saturday.
"The operation to sign Neymar Da Silva Santos Junior was complex, an example of business engineering, and we have repeatedly expressed the confidential nature of some of its agreements," they added.
"Our rivals were prepared to conduct the same operation for much more money but (FC Barcelona) won through thanks to the skill and expertise of its negotiating team.
"This contractual complexity, labelled by the prosecutor in his report as 'contractual simulation', never constitutes a crime in itself.
"We believe the prosecutor is making a mistake in believing otherwise. Faced with the seriousness of these facts, and despite a belief in the good faith of the legal authorities, we will act forcefully to defend the honour of (FC Barcelona) and its president