Falcao Back For Monaco’s Push In Europe

FILE PHOTO Monaco’s Colombian forward Radamel Falcao celebrates after scoring his second goal during the French L1 football match Monaco (ASM) vs Strasbourg at Louis II Stadium in Monaco. YANN COATSALIOU / AFP

 

Radamel Falcao is back from injury as defending champions Monaco host struggling Lille on Friday aiming for a 15th Ligue 1 game without defeat as they target an immediate return to the Champions League.

With Paris Saint-Germain almost certain to win the French title this year, Monaco’s two rivals for second place and an automatic berth in the Champions League are Marseille and Lyon, who face off on Sunday.

Leonardo Jardim’s Monaco, who were forced to rebuild after selling a handful of last season’s title-winning stars, have 63 points while Marseille are on 59 and Lyon 54.

The return of Colombia striker Falcao after six weeks out with a thigh problem is a welcome sight. The Monaco captain is his team’s leading scorer with 17 league goals in just 20 appearances.

“Falcao has been training with the group for a week. He may start the match. He could play with (Stevan) Jovetic, or not, we’ll see. It’s not a problem,” said Jardim, who left Falcao on the bench for last week’s 3-1 win at Strasbourg as a precautionary measure.

The emergence of Rony Lopes, who spent the 2016-17 campaign on loan at Lille, since the turn of the year has helped Monaco overcome Falcao’s absence, while Thomas Lemar is rounding into form after an injury-hit first half of the season.

“Lemar is a versatile player who can play on the wings or in the centre. He really likes to get on the ball. We play him where the team needs him most,” Jardim explained.

Lemar and full-back Djibril Sidibe were both called up into the France coach by Didier Deschamps on Thursday for upcoming friendlies against Colombia and World Cup hosts Russia.

“For the moment I’m concentrating on my club form and our domestic objectives, and if that means I play for France too, even better,” Lemar said last week.

When Monaco sold Benjamin Mendy and Bernardo Silva to Manchester City, Tiemoue Bakayoko to Chelsea and saw Kylian Mbappe leave for PSG, few people thought the principality club could match last season’s results.

But Jardim has masterminded a 14-match unbeaten run and Monaco are also through to the League Cup final, where they will meet holders PSG in Bordeaux on March 31.

Lille are still reeling from their experiment with fiery Argentine coach Marcelo Bielsa, with the northerners stuck in 19th and facing a relegation fight.

The club’s 1-1 home draw against Montpellier was marred by a full-time pitch invasion by angry Lille supporters, some of whom shouted insults and even aimed kicks at players.

The trouble prompted Lille to lodge police complaints about “aggravated violence, criminal damage and death threats”, while club president Gerard Lopez told AFP there would be “zero tolerance” in dealing with the perpetrators of the incidents.

AFP

Monaco Striker Falcao Suffers Thigh Injury

Monaco’s Colombian forward Radamel Falcao celebrates after scoring a goal during the French L1 football match Monaco vs Caen. VALERY HACHE / AFP

Monaco captain and top-scorer Radamel Falcao will miss Saturday’s Ligue 1 clash at Bordeaux with a thigh injury, coach Leonardo Jardim said on Thursday.

The Colombian striker leads the way in the Ligue 1 scoring charts with 13 goals in only nine outings this season.

The French champions trail league leaders Paris Saint-Germain by four points but face a crucial match with Besiktas next week that could end their Champions League hopes.

Defeat in Istanbul on Wednesday could see the principality side eliminated from Group G, having only picked up one point from their first three games.

“I’m not going to use him (this weekend) because he’s not in good shape,” said Jardim.

“Then I’ll see for the Champions League.”

AFP

Jorge Mendes Arrives At Court Over Falcao Tax Evasion

Jorge Mendes

Soccer agent, Jorge Mendes, has arrived at court on Tuesday to testify as part of the investigation of alleged tax fraud committed by former Atletico Madrid player Radamel Falcao.

Falcao is accused of failing to declare €5.6 million of earning between 2012 and 2013 when he played for Atletico Madrid.

Mendes’ company, Gestifute has denied any wrongdoing.

Another of Mendes’ clients, Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to testify on July 31 in a case in which he is accused of hiding income totalling up to €14.7 million from the tax authorities.

Jose Mourinho, also represented by Mendes, has had two counts of tax fraud filed against by Spanish authorities. A Madrid prosecutor said the Portuguese manager owes €3.3 million.

Monaco Humble Dortmund 3-1 To Advance In Champions League

Courtesy: indianexpress

Monaco on Wednesday beat Borussia Dortmund 3-1 to book a place in the semi-final of the UEFA Champions League.

The League One side took the lead with Kylian Mbappe’s three-minute goal, while Radamel Falcao doubled the score 14 minutes later.

In the second half, Marco Reus netted the consolation for the German side, before Valere Germain sealed the win for the hosts nine minutes before the match ended.

Elsewhere, Barcelona could not replicate the greatest fightback they staged earlier against Paris Saint-Germain in the round-of-16.

This led to the Spanish giants’ exit from the Champions League, after a goalless draw with Juventus at the Camp Nou.

The attacking combo of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar failed to help the Catalans progress to the next round of the competition.

 

Cristiano Ronaldo Crowned FIFA Player Of The Year

Cristano RonaldoCristiano Ronaldo has been crowned FIFA Men’s Player Of The Year.

Ronaldo was announced winner on Monday in Zurich where the world’s best football players and coaches were recognised at the inaugural edition of “The Best Fifa Football Awards”.

The Ballon Dór winner beat Antoine Griezmann and Lionel Messi to win the award which was presented by FIFA President, Gianni Infantino.

“Wow. It’s incredible. It’s not the first time but this award is the first time.

“I want first to thank my team-mates, my coach. I want to thank my family, my whole staff.

“I tell you, 2016 was the best year of my career. I had a lot of doubts but the trophy showed that I lived up to that.

“After I won what I did, I had no doubts.

“It was a year that was magnificent on a personal level, on a sports level. I would like to thank very warmly everybody who voted for me.

“To the fans, to the other players, to the media: thank you,” he said.

Other winners on the night:

– The Best FIFA Women’s Player Award: Carli Lloyd.

– The Best FIFA Men’s Coach Award: Claudio Ranieri.

– The Best FIFA Women’s Coach Award: Silvia Neid.

– The FIFA Puskás Award 2016: Mohd Faiz Subri.

The FIFA Fair Play Award: Atletico National.

– The FIFA Fan Award: Dortmund fans and Liverpool fans.

– The FIFA lifetime achievement award: Falcao.

– The FIFA FIFPro World11: Neuer, Dani Alves, Pique, Ramos, Marcelo, Modric, Kroos, Iniesta, Messi, Suarez, Ronaldo.

 

Man-U 0 Chelsea 0: Hiddink Satisfied, Van Gaal Rues Luck

ChelseaManchester United ended a run of four straight defeats with a goalless draw against Chelsea at Old Trafford on Monday while Chelsea continued what looked like a resurgence.

Under-fire manager Louis van Gaal insists he will not quit after Manchester United extended their run without a victory to eight games in all competitions.

Sixth-placed United produced an improved display at Old Trafford, with a goalless draw with champions Chelsea.

“I think it was a very good performance but you have to score a goal and we didn’t. We hit the post twice when the keeper was beaten, then had a big chance in the second half and two penalty cases – one handball, one foul on Mata – but didn’t receive a penalty. So we are forcing the luck but still don’t have the luck we need.

“We were the dominant team, we created chances, we shot on goal and only gave three chances away. Against a team like Chelsea, with such attackers, that’s not bad.”

Van Gaal said that he was aware poor form could force a club to sack its manager, but he had the backing of the players and would fight on.

“I cannot have any influence on that (his future). I can only work with my players and you have seen that my players are fighting for me and that they have given a good performance.

“Even after this result, the fans were applauding, so I cannot say that I am very much concerned but in this football world, you never know. But I have full confidence in the board and in my players. When the players can give such a performance under this pressure, then it is not any reason to resign for me.

“Maybe the media wants that but I shall not do that. It’s not a question of staying, it’s a question of fulfilling my contract.”

Hiddink Satisfied With Draw

On the flipside, Chelsea interim manager Guus Hiddink is satisfied with Chelsea’s draw at Manchester United.

Diego Costa was suspended for the clash while fellow attackers Loic Remy and Radamel Falcao were side-lined by injury, forcing winger Eden Hazard to occupy a centre forward role.

Hiddink, says the team is still building after months of poor results. “Tactically it was okay, defensively we were well organised,” said the manager.

“We didn’t have full power to hurt Man U – as everyone knows we have some problems in the striker position due to suspension and injuries so we had to think how to solve that problem.

“Hazard has done it before and he is capable of doing it because he’s a very versatile player. I’m pleased because we had some good opportunities in the second half. Man U pressed although they didn’t create a lot of chances.

“The two best chances were tremendous saves from the goalies, De Gea and Courtois. So no win but we have to consider the situation where Chelsea were and are.”

Chelsea Players Have To Be Humble – Mourinho

MourinhoChelsea manager, Jose Mourinho, has identified problems at both ends of the pitch as the primary reasons for his team’s defeat at Leicester City but believes a change of attitude can help turn their fortune around.

The manager was pleased with the fight his team showed in the final half-hour, but lamented defensive mistakes made for the home side’s goals and the wastefulness up front as the two factors that ensured the defending champions left the King Power Stadium empty-handed.

“I worked for four days on this match,” he said. “I prepared everything related to the opposition.

“I identified four movements where they score almost all of their goals. My players got all that information and training in the last three days. From the four types of situation I identified we conceded the first and the second goal. I think they listened and they are good enough, but the mistakes were there.

“I don’t want to focus only on the two goals we conceded, because in the past four or five matches we were defensively good and we had clean sheets,” he continued.

“We also have another problem which is the number of goals our attacking players are scoring, or in this case aren’t scoring. When we make defensive mistakes we are punished because we don’t score enough goals. The team pays for the number of goals our attacking players aren’t scoring.

“The good thing is the spirit – in the last 30 minutes they tried, they gave everything they had, they scored one goal, and they could have scored more.

“That’s the positive thing that makes me leave the dressing room with a feeling that isn’t as bad as the result, because in the last 30 minutes they were a team.

Eden Hazard was withdrawn with an injury during the first half having initially tried to play on.

Mourinho explained, “He made the decision in a few seconds. When he came off he said he couldn’t do it, a couple of seconds later he said he would try, and when he went back on two seconds later he immediately decided to go back off.”

With the January window approaching, Mourinho expressed his faith in his current players, “I don’t think it is right I go to the board and say these players are not good and we need to spend 50 or 100 or whatever.

“We have these players and it is with these players we have to go, and the players that are not performing well must feel attacked in their pride, in their self-esteem and they have to do everything to get results in a humble way.

“I don’t think they can feel they are top players or they are superstars. At the moment they have to be humble, they have to look to the Leicester boys and feel that they are the stars, they are the top players.

“They have to look to Sunderland and Watford and say: we are at the same level as you are. The players have to put their feet on their ground and be humble. We are where Sunderland are, we are below Watford by 10 points. The next two matches we play at Stamford Bridge we have to look to these opponents in a humble way.”

Chelsea Can Make Top Four, Mourinho Changes Tune

mourinhoJose Mourinho believes the competitive nature of this season’s Premier League means that if his side can put together a sequence of victories they still have a chance of finishing in the top four.

The manager was speaking to media at Cobham ahead of Monday’s trip to league leaders Leicester City, and this view is a sharp contrast to his earlier concession of the top four finish after the team’s 1-0 loss to AFC Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Mourinho said that there were no fresh injury concerns for Monday’s fixture against Leicester City, managed by Claudio Ranieri, the man he replaced when he first arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2004.

Earlier in the week Ranieri said he thinks the Blues are still more than capable of securing a top-four finish, and Mourinho agrees.

“First of all, it’s nice from him,” the Portuguese said. “Nobody has any doubt that he hasn’t forgotten his time at Chelsea. Everyone who is at this club for a certain period of time likes the club very much and Ranieri is showing the nice feeling he has, but I also believe what he says.

“Before we lost three points against Bournemouth I was absolutely convinced about finishing fourth in the table and I was convinced about a great December for us.

“The reality is that some clubs are doing well and some others are not capable of doing what they are used to. It’s not easy for the top clubs to win three, four, five or 10 matches in a row now, so who knows?

“If we can get a run of four or five consecutive victories, because none of the other clubs are doing that, maybe we have a chance to make up the distance and dream of finishing fourth. While mathematically it’s possible we have to try.”

He also praised the Foxes for their performances up until the moment.

“They deserve to be where they are, let’s be honest,’ said the Blues boss. “I said a couple of weeks ago I didn’t believe they can be champions and maybe I have to think twice because it’s one thing to be top in September after a beautiful start, another is to be top in December, that’s a completely different story, so if they are there and get result after result, it’s because they can win the title.

“It would be something magnificent, something to impress the football world but sometimes these things can happen, so why not?

“They are there because they are doing magnificently well, we are where we are because we are doing badly. We have the same potential as last season, the same manager, same players, so if we are where we are it’s because we are underperforming.

“He (Ranieri) is going to win the manager of the month award and he should win more than that, he should win manager of half-term. If you could give an award for the first six months of the competition everybody is miles away from him and every club is miles away from what Leicester are doing. I know the distance between them and Man United, Man City, Arsenal is only a few points but they are the ones who deserve all the respect and compliments.

“One year ago they were bottom of the league and Ranieri was sacked by the Greece national team for losing to the Faroe Islands, now he is the top manager in the Premier League and their players are top of the league. That’s the beauty, it’s fantastic.”

I was Nervous Before Sunderland Game – Wenger

wengerWenger has admitted that he was “nervous” before kick-off, but later found joy in Arsenal’s 3-1 victory against a robust Sunderland side on Saturday.

Arsène Wenger explained that his fears were because he knew the result would be “pivotal” to their season as victory would give his side confidence going into Wednesday’s Champions League decider at Olympiacos.

“In my mind I was a little bit more nervous than usual because I felt it was a pivotal game,” he told Arsenal Player. “It was our first game without the injured players and we absolutely had to win.

“We played against a difficult team who were well organised and good on the break, so all the ingredients were there for a disappointing result. Because we hadn’t won for three games people would have said we were in a crisis, so it was important to get the win.

“We were a bit edgy, a bit nervous, in the first half but in the second half we played with more freedom, fluency and incisiveness which is how we won the game. It was a tough one and if you look at the results in the Premier League it was like that.

“It’s been a good day for us, because we have won the game and that makes helps us prepare for Olympiacos. Secondly it puts us in an interesting position again and that’s all positive. The squad that was out there for Sunderland – the good news is that we won and that we don’t have any injuries. It makes it obvious for the media to guess who will go to Olympiacos.”

Joel Campbell, Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey were all on target in a convincing display at Emirates Stadium, as the Gunners ended their run of three games without a win in the Premier League.

Mourinho Gives Up On Top 4 Finish

MourinhoJose Mourinho has admitted Chelsea may have to accept that a top-four finish is beyond them.

The Barclays Premier League champions slumped to their eighth defeat of the season as Glenn Murray’s header sealed a shock 1-0 win for AFC Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Mourinho, whose side sit on 15 points, 14 behind fourth-placed Manchester United, believes that UEFA Champions League qualification may well be out of the question.

“Before the game I was still thinking we could finish top four,” he said.

“I am very disappointed with this result, not in the performance because in the second half the performance was good but let’s think about the next game and forget the targets because without consistency it’s difficult.”

Mourinho also criticised his team’s inability to convert the many crosses that were sent into the opponent’s goal area which his attackers could not connect with.

He considers them big chances that could have changed the outcome of the match.

Premier League: Arsenal, Chelsea Welcome Key Players

Premier LeagueArsenal have received a boost ahead of Sunderland’s trip to the Emirates with the news that defender Kieran Gibbs will be fit to return, while Theo Walcott and Laurent Koscielny are also in contention.

There are reports that Walcott and Koscielny could feature, but both will face a late fitness test prior to the game.

Walcott has spent almost two months on the sidelines after picking up a calf injury in Arsenal’s 3-0 Capital One Cup defeat at Sheffield Wednesday back in October, leaving Olivier Giroud as the club’s only fit striker with Danny Welbeck yet to feature this season.

Despite being in fourth place and without a win in three games, Arsenal could still go top of the Premier League with a victory, as table toppers Manchester City are just two points ahead of the North Londoners.

Chelsea Boosted By Return Of Courtois

Jose Mourinho is also pleased to welcome back goalkeeper Courtois, after knee surgery and is set to be involved when Eddie Howe’s men visit Stamford Bridge.

“We feel better, we feel safe,” the Chelsea manager said about the Belgian’s return. “He was our goalkeeper all last season and was fundamental for us.”

But Mourinho will be without John Terry (ankle), Ramires and Radamel Falcao (muscular injuries) while striker Loic Remy is available again after missing last week’s 0-0 draw with Tottenham Hotspur,

Hazard stated his confidence that Chelsea can kick on during the hectic match schedule in December.

Aguero And Toure Out For Stoke Trip

Meanwhile, Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure are among seven players to have been ruled out of Manchester City’s trip to Stoke City on Saturday lunchtime.

It had been hoped that Aguero would be available for the trip to the Britannia Stadium, where they have only won one of their last seven league matches, but the striker has been ruled out with the heel injury he suffered against Southampton last weekend.

And Toure also misses out after picking up a muscle problem. He joins Captain Vincent Kompany, Samir Nasri, Patrick Roberts and Pablo Zabaleta on the sidelines, while Eliaquim Mangala is suspended after picking up a fifth yellow card on Matchweek 14.

Premier League Week 15 Fixtures

Saturday 5 December 2015

12:45    Stoke v Man City             Britannia Stadium

15:00    Arsenal v Sunderland    Emirates Stadium

15:00    Man Utd v West Ham     Old Trafford

15:00    Southampton v Aston Villa         St. Mary’s Stadium

15:00    Swansea v Leicester       Liberty Stadium

15:00    Watford v Norwich        Vicarage Road

15:00    West Brom v Spurs         The Hawthorns

17:30    Chelsea v Bournemouth               Stamford Bridge

Sunday 6 December 2015

16:00    Newcastle v Liverpool  St. James’ Park

Monday 7 December 2015

20:00    Everton v Crystal Palace

5-Star Aguero Sinks Newcastle As Chelsea Crash Again

AgueroSergio Aguero scored five goals in a mesmerizing 20-minute spell as Manchester City crushed Newcastle United 6-1 on Saturday to reclaim first place in the English Premier League.

City had lost their previous two league games and went behind in the 18th minute when Aleksandar Mitrovic headed home, but Aguero equalised in the 42nd minute before hitting the net again four more times.

Kevin De Bruyne also scored, as well as teeing up two of Aguero’s goals, as Manuel Pellegrini’s side provisionally moved two points clear of Manchester United, who visit Arsenal on Sunday.

Seeking to bounce back from their UEFA Champions League loss at Porto, Chelsea recalled Captain John Terry and took a tenth-minute lead when Willian planted a free-kick in the top-right corner from wide on the left.

But Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho saw his team fall apart once again as they sank to a 3-1 home defeat against Southampton, which left the champions ten points off the pace in 16th place.

Steven Davis rattled home a 43rd-minute equaliser from Graziano Pelle’s chested lay-off before an unsuccessful interception by Terry allowed Sadio Mane to run through and put Southampton ahead on the hour.

After Radamel Falcao had been booked for a dive in the Chelsea box, Pelle added a merited third in the 72nd minute, gathering a pass from Mane and firing a shot into the bottom-left corner.

It was the first time Mourinho had seen an away team score more than two goals at Stamford Bridge in the league and it sealed Chelsea’s fourth defeat of the campaign – their worst start to a season in 37 years.

Earlier in the day, Crystal Palace climbed to third place by beating West Bromwich Albion 2-0, with Yohan Cabaye teeing up Yannick Bolasie for the 68th-minute opener and then netting a late penalty. Leicester City returned to the top four after winning 2-1 at Norwich City courtesy of goals from Jamie Vardy, who claimed his seventh goal of the campaign from the spot, and Jeff Schlupp.

West Ham United slipped to fifth place following a 2-2 draw at second-bottom Sunderland. Steven Fletcher and Jeremain Lens, who scored a classy chip, put Sunderland 2-0 up, but Lens was then sent off for two bookable offences and goals from Carl Jenkinson and Dimitri Payet earned West Ham a point.

Full debutant Glenn Murray scored but then squandered a late penalty as Bournemouth were held to a 1-1 draw by fellow promoted side Watford, for whom Odion Ighalo netted for the fifth time this term. Meanwhile, Marko Arnautovic earned Stoke City a 1-0 win at Aston Villa.