Saturday, January 11, 2014
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 (www.fcbarcelona.es) 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
Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery has conceded that it is ‘now or never’ for him to win the Ballon d’Or.
The France international is up for the FIFA prize alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, and the 30-year-old has admitted that it is his time to collect the individual honour.
"Messi and Ronaldo are two great players who score a great amount of goals, but let's not compare our stats. Our styles are different," he told L’Equipe.
"I've done everything, I avoided injuries and I've given regular performances. Ronaldo scores a lot of goals, but Messi is always the best player in the world, though he experienced some injuries this year.
"I've done everything. It's hard to give more. I've played all the games, won all the trophies and I've been decisive.
“I'm confident, I have every chance. It's now or never, I'm 30.
"If I win it, my thoughts will go to my wife and father. They were always behind me, even when things were tough. [But] I'm fine, I don't always think of the Ballon d'Or, I don't need sleeping pills.
"For me, the Ballon d'Or would be a revenge for all I've endured. Something extraordinary. If I don't win it? Life will continue, even if it would be a great deception. I won't stop my career. It's quite the opposite. I want to have fun with Bayern and win everything again. I also want to have a good World Cup with France."
Atletico Madrid can banish any lingering doubts about their title credentials when they hostBarcelona on Saturday but will have to subdue a resurgent Lionel Messi if they are to vanquish the champions.
It has been almost 20 years since the Spanish capital's second club mounted a genuine challenge for the La Liga crown as Barca and Real Madrid, the world's two richest teams by income, have shared the spoils apart from brief flurries of success from Valencia and Deportivo La Coruna. And what last season seemed unthinkable could become much more plausible if they beat the reigning champions on Saturday.
Last season's third place was the best Atletico had managed since they won a league and Copa del Rey double in 1996 and they even spent two seasons in the second division at the start of the millennium.
Current coach Diego Simeone, a former Argentina midfielder who was in the 1996 team, has revived memories of those glory days since he took over at the end of 2011, honing a mean defence and getting the best out of players like forward Diego Costa and midfielder Koke.
Atletico, the Copa del Rey holders, have won all their matches at their Calderon stadium this season apart from the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup in August when they drew 1-1 with Barca.
Victory on Saturday would put them three points clear of the Catalan giants with half the season played, while Atletico's city rivals Real Madrid are five points behind in third and play at Espanyol on Sunday.
Koke, who earned a call-up to the Spain squad last year, has played a key role in Atletico's resurgence, developing a lethal partnership with Costa and netting some important goals himself, including the winner in Saturday's 1-0 victory at Malaga.
However, beating Barca to head the standings at the halfway stage of the campaign would be a mere "anecdote" as what counted was the state of play at the climax of the season in May, he warned on Wednesday.
"It is irrelevant if you win this match if in the end you have not achieved your objectives," he told a news conference that coincided with his 22nd birthday.
One man who will be itching to spoil Atletico's party is World Player of the Year Messi, who came off the bench and scored twice on his return from injury in Wednesday's 4-0 last 16, first leg success at home to Getafe in the cup.
Sunday, October 27, 2013
Q: Let's get straight to the point. Many people believe you will win the Ballon d'Or award. Would you feel aggrieved if it went to someone else?
A: Of course I want to win it! I would like to get it because of all the work in my career, coming through the bad times and because I think I'm at my peak. If I win it, it will be a victory for my family, my wife and for Bayern. For our great year.
Q: What would you put your recent form down to?
A: I've learnt to look after myself and recover after playing. You have to be very professional at the age of 30 to be in shape and improve every day.
Q: Is it true that you could have signed for Real Madrid a few years ago?
A: (Laughs). I'm happy now and enjoying playing well. The past is the past. In fact, I hope to finish my career at Bayern (Ribéry is now in his seventh season with Munich).
Q: Can you understand why your teammate Karim Benzema has been widely criticised in your country and at Real?
A: It's true that Karim has been having a hard time. But he has scored in France's last two games and I think this has given him more confidence. I think he has overcome his difficulties.
"There are things you can't do anything about. I've said it before. The ref decided the result," stated the Spaniard.
Specifically, Ramos believes that the referee from Navarre punished Real Madrid by not marking two clear penalties: one for a handball by Adriano and another for a push by Mascherano on Ronaldo. "The penalties were blatant," blasted the international defender.
"With Sergio Ramos I was looking for more stability in midfield. I talked to Sergio and he was quite happy to play there. And we didn’t play with three defending midfielders as Modric isn't one. Marcelo and Carvajal played to attack. Barça didn't attack all that much either. Just Messi and Neymar were up front", he said of the formation.
Ancelotti also mentioned Gareth Bale: "He was on for an hour and he didn't play badly. He played on the right and then in the middle, first of all putting pressure on Busquets, and then on the wing to find more space.
However, young Jesé Rodríguez made the final moments of the game much more exciting after making it 2-1. Real Madrid called for a penalty after Mascherano pushed Ronaldo in the 72nd minute but it wasn’t given.
During the first half of the game, it was Barcelona who was in full control of the ball and took the only clear opportunity that presented itself. A great move by Iniesta left the ball for Brazilian Neymar to shoot at goal and he made it 1-0. This was a little bit lucky as Neymar's shot struck Varane, which wrong-footed Diego López.
In the second half, Real Madrid was greatly superior to Barcelona, especially once Benzema and Illarramendi came on. Benzema had the chance of an equaliser but his shot hit the bar.
And just when Real Madrid's game was at its best, Alexis, who had just come onto the pitch, appeared and scored a great goal, hitting a perfect lob from outside the area.
This goal allowed Barcelona to breathe more easily. But in injury time Jesé pulled one back with a counter-attack following a pass by Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo had made a very rapid run from his own area, passing the ball to Jesé, who finished off the move perfectly
Arsène Wenger's side lost 2-1 at home against Borussia Dortmund in their midweek UEFA Champions League game, and took the lead with a couple of minutes of the restart, Arteta finishing from the spot after Adlène Guedioura brought down teenager Serge Gnabry. Arteta was then sent off for a professional foul on former Arsenal striker Marouane Chamakh, and the Gunners had to withstand some pressure before Giroud got his head to an Aaron Ramsey ball three minutes from time.
The Gunners are two points clear of Liverpool FC, who overwhelmed West Bromwich Albion FC 4-1 – a win shaped by Luis Suárez's first Anfield hat-trick. The Uruguayan international scored two inside the opening 18 minutes; a neat finish after nutmegging Jonas Olsson, and a thumping header from 15 metres. Suárez nodded in another to complete his treble before Daniel Sturridge wrapped things up with a lob. James Morrison's spot-kick was scant consolation for West Brom.
Six points further back, Manchester United FC twice came from behind to post a 3-2 win against Stoke City FC at Old Trafford, two goals in two minutes late on from Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernández securing an important success for the reigning champions.
Tim Howard saved a Christian Benteke penalty as Everton FC won 2-0 at Aston Villa FC, while Norwich City FC v Cardiff City FC ended goalless. Southampton FC's fine start to the season continued as Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodriguez scored to secure a 2-0 win against Fulham FC in the late game; the Saints go into Sunday third in the table.