Robben, Thiago Back In Training For Bayern

Robben /Guenter Schiffmann / AFP

Bayern Munich received a timely boost on Tuesday when Thiago Alcantara, Arjen Robben, and Javi Martinez all returned to training ahead of Saturday’s Bundesliga match at Werder Bremen.

The trio sat out last Friday’s opening match of the season when the defending champions eased to a 3-1 win at home to Bayer Leverkusen.

Robben pulled up in training on Saturday with a thigh strain, while this was the first time Martinez and Thiago have trained this season.

Thiago is returning after a calf problem and stomach muscle injury, while Martinez missed the past two weeks with a leg injury, after breaking his collarbone towards the end of last season.

Germany defender Jerome Boateng and new signing James Rodriguez both trained separately as they continue their recovery from thigh injuries.

© AFP

Champions League: Atletico Madrid Knock Out Bayern Munich

Atletico MadridAtletico Madrid have knocked Bayern Munich out of the Champions League to deny Pep Guardiola a highly coveted UCL title as he leaves for Manchester City.

Griezmann’s second half breakaway goal made all the different in the hard-fought battle as the Spaniards qualified on away goal despite losing 2-1 on the night.

Xabi Alonso had put the Germans ahead to make it look like a perfect night before Thomas Muller then missed a penalty that could have made the game more difficult for the visitors.

They were left to rue the missed penalty when Atletico scored as the first half ended 1-1.

Atletico were happy to let Bayern have all the possession for most part of the game as they held on desperately.

Robert Lewandowski headed in from Arturo Vidal’s clever head back across the goal to turn the heat up with 74 minutes on the clock putting Bayern back in front on the night.

It was a dramatic climax to the game as Fernando Torres also missed a controversial penalty awarded for a Javi Martinez foul that was clearly outside the box.

Bayern pressed harder in the dying minutes but failed to get the third goal.

Atletico match on to another Champions League final awaiting the winner between city rival Real Madrid and Manchester City.

EPL: Liverpool Confident Of Victory Over Chelsea

Brendan RogersLiverpool Manager, Brendan Rodgers is confident his Liverpool players possess the necessary ingredients to get the better of title rival Chelsea when the two teams meet at Anfield on Sunday.

Liverpool will go into the game five points ahead of Jose Mourinho’s side following an unexpected victory by bottom club Sunderland at Chelsea which Liverpool took advantage of with its 3-2 win at Norwich City on Sunday.

Beating Chelsea on Sunday would put Liverpool closer to its first ever Premier League title with two games left to play.

Rodgers gave an insight into the philosophy that has helped the team get to the top of the league table, crushing teams like Arsenal and Liverpool along the way.

“When they are in the changing room just before we go out, I always tell them, ‘Lose yourself, focus on the ball and focus on the team. If you do that, then we can be a real force,’ ” he said.

“You have seen all the characteristics of our team today (Sunday) — wonderful invention and creativity, courage, arrogance on the ball, goal-scoring, young players and senior players all playing, and instructions that allow them to express themselves.

“It’s going to be a brilliant game next weekend with Chelsea coming to Anfield. The supporters will be right up for it and the players as well. We are looking forward to it.”

Raheem Sterling scored two of Liverpool’s goals at Carrow Road, either side of Luis Suarez’s 30th Premier League goal of the season, and Rodgers hailed the England international for his contribution.

“He is arguably the best young player in European football at the moment,” Rodgers said.

EPL: Tomas Rosicky Determined To Win With Arsenal

Tomas Rosicky celebrates Arsenal's third goal with the scorer of the first two, Olivier Giroud. Reuters

Tomas Rosicky has pledged his future to Arsenal in the belief that the club has all that they needs to end their lengthy trophy drought.

The Czech playmaker is out of contract at the end of the 2013/14 season, but Arsenal Manager, Arsene Wenger revealed at the weekend that he expects that Rosicky would sign a new deal in the coming weeks.

The 33-year-old, who joined Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund in 2006, impressed when he took the place of Mesut Ozil in the team against Sunderland on Saturday, crowning his performance with a sublime goal.

Rosicky’s time at the club has been hampered by a number of injuries, and he missed the entire 2008-09 season due to a hamstring tendon problem that almost ended his career.

But he is back in Wenger’s plans and remains convinced he is at the right place to win silverware sooner rather than later.

“I always believed in it here at Arsenal and still do. I knew this club was the right place for me and I want to be here for as long as I can,” Rosicky told the official Arsenal magazine.

“It is obviously very difficult to predict how long I can go on for, (but) I feel very good. I don’t feel any different than in the past, I don’t feel any change in myself.

“All I can say is that I still have a big passion to achieve things and that is really important.

“You must have that force, that drive to go on and achieve something and I definitely still have that.

“I was nearly out of the game because of injury, so I have a different approach now because I know it could end at any point. I just want to be successful with Arsenal.

“I won three titles in the Czech Republic before I left (Sparta Prague), I won the Bundesliga with Dortmund and I still believe I can do it here.

“I wouldn’t stay here if I didn’t believe.

“The idea of winning the (Premier) League and the Champions League really drives me forward, I love it”, Rosicky said.

Champions League: Belief Is The Key For Arsenal – Wenger

Arsenal have the belief to challenge Champions League holders Bayern Munich in the first leg of the last-16 more effectively than they did a year ago, Coach Arsene Wenger said on Tuesday (February 18).

Having met at the same stage of the competition last season, Arsenal will be out to avenge defeat by Bayern as, despite winning the second leg 2-0 at the Allianz Arena, they were eliminated on away goals after losing 3-1 at home.

At the start of February, Wenger identified it as a crucial month for the London side and results so far in the tougher games have been mixed.

They beat Liverpool 2-1 in the FA Cup to avenge a 5-1 drubbing in the Premier League and drew 0-0 with defending champions Manchester United.

At a news conference on Tuesday (February 18), Wenger took heart from the FA Cup wins over Liverpool and over local rivals Tottenham in the previous round as he prepared his side to face champions Bayern.

“We know that we face the favourites of the competition and what we have is belief, because on the opposite we have had only big games in the Champions League and in the FA Cup because we played against Tottenham, we played against Liverpool. Since the start of the season we know that in every single game we have to be 100 percent. We believe we can do it but that is down to the quality of our performance tomorrow,” said the Frenchman.

“It gave us belief to finish well the season last year and from then on I think as well since the start of the season we have done well. We are in a strong position and it’s now down to us how we can from game to game show the same focus as against Liverpool.”

“I think we are in much better mental shape than we were one year ago because we lost against Blackburn (Rovers) at home in the FA Cup and it was a big disappointment for us, this time we won against Liverpool and we are really determined of course to win this game tomorrow.

“We have a strong team spirit that is for sure and a strong desire to do well and a united team. But it’s important as well; I believe we always had these kinds of qualities but not always the belief. Belief is built by the results and on that front we are stronger of course.”

Wenger is expected to ring the changes against a Bayern side that have lost once in 34 games and won 13 straight Bundesliga matches.

Santi Cazorla, Kieran Gibbs, Olivier Giroud, Bacary Sagna and Wojciech Szczcesny are all pushing for starts and with Mikel Arteta suspended, Tomas Rosicky could start in midfield alongside Mathieu Flamini.

Jack Wilshere may also bolster Arsenal’s midfield in view of the difficult task of stifling Bayern’s powerhouse midfield, with Schweinsteiger, Tony Kroos and Javi Martinez supplying balls for Thomas Mueller, Arjen Robben and Mario Mandzukic.

The 20-year-old England international is confident Arsenal can rise to the challenge posed by the German side.

“We’ve spoken about the importance of staying in the game, if it’s 0-0 at home we’ve still got a big chance of qualifying, the away goal is massive in this competition, especially when it comes to these big games.

“That’s what we saw last year, we went out on away goals and this year we’ve got to be a bit more intelligent and stay in the game,” said Wilshere, who has scored two goals in six Champions League appearances this season.