I May Return To A Familiar Turf – Mourinho

Jose Mourinho widely known as the ‘Special One’ may likely return to current UEFA Champions League title holders, Chelsea, to relieve interim boss Rafael Benitez, if all that has been making the rounds is true.

The Portuguese will be visiting the home of Chelsea, Stamford Bridge not as a coach for now but for the friendly between Brazil and Russia as he was specially invited for the clash by the Brazilian FA.

Chelsea fans will give all to see the ‘Special One’ return as their coach even though it’s been a speculation making the rounds, that  Jose Mourinho may be leaving his current club, Real Madrid.

To further raise the hopes of Chelsea fans in the EPL, a club and league that he has never hidden his love for, Mourinho said he may go back to a turf that he is familiar with.

An emotional return to Stamford Bridge it will definitely be tonight as the ‘Special One’ never visited Stamford Bridge since his leaving there in 2011, only crossing path with the club when his former club Inter Milan knocked out Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League two years ago.

While he was manager of the Stamford Bridge club, Mourinho garnered to his name six trophies, the more reason why Chelsea fans will be delighted to have him back on board as the interim coach Rafael Benitez is due to step down in May, even though it is not certain yet that he will be leaving Real Madrid this summer.

Several clubs have been doing their follow-up on the Portuguese, touted to be a headache for opposing clubs and not UK press friendly, as the likes of Manchester City, PSG and AC Milan are likely to declare their interest in bringing the Special One over to their clubs.

This also means that Chelsea owner, Billionaire Roman Abramovich may not find it easy to buy over the Portuguese this time.

Valdes Not Leaving Barcelona –Report

Reports that Barcelona’s number one shot stopper; Victor Valdes could be leaving the Catalans for has been negated as it has been confirmed by the club management that Valdes will continue to man the goalpost for Barcelona.

He’s been the man behind the goalpost of the Catalans for over a decade now, but lately he’s been the subject of negative press, but despite the rumour mill that Valdes is no longer gaining favour from the club management and fans’ alike, the speculation was brought to rest by the club management after the rumour that the Spaniard does not have a future anymore with the Catalan club was tagged silly.

It all started when Valdes commented on his future saying he was not sure as he is yet to begin talks with the club on a new contract and the media latched on it saying he was not sure what the future held for him and Valdes’ loyalty to Barcelona was questioned.

The rumour got rife even more when Marca reported that Valdes’ agent, Gines Carvajal, stated that negotiations had not begun despite the words of Barcelona director Andoni Zubizarreta.

In fact, Valdes even stated that he would talk about his future with Barcelona when the time is right.

The pure speculation that Valdes could want a move away from the club has prompted clubs such as Liverpool to ponder a move for the Catalan keeper.

The media left out an important fact in the same interview the media claimed Valdes commented on his leaving Barca, when Valdes said that “My dream is to retire here…time will tell.” a statement that the club director; Andoni Zubizaretta had to look into after which he decided to clear the air on the speculations which had already lit up like a wild fire.

The Barcelona director clearly made known that Valdes has made no mention of wanting to leave the club.

Zubizarreta was also outspoken on the love that Barcelona has for Victor Valdes as it appears as though both parties involved want the keeper to remain at Barcelona.

Nigeria Moves Five Places Up In Newly Released FIFA Rankings

Nigeria moved up from 57th to the 52nd position on the latest FIFA rankings released today by world football governing body, FIFA.

Seen as a positive impact on the Super Eagles this time, Nigeria is now rated 10th in Africa as against the old rating of 16th position.

Cote d’Ivoire placed 14th is still the highest ranked African country while Japan placed 22nd, is Asia’s best team. The Ivoirians are also first in Africa while Algeria moved up five places to occupy Africa’s second spot and 19th in the world.

Mali are third on the Africa rankings after the West African nation dropped one place and are now ranked 28th in the world.

The Eagles have experienced a gradual renaissance under Coach Stephen Keshi, who steered the team to January’s Africa Cup of Nations. The Nigerian side defeated Liberia 8-3 aggregate in their final qualification game to book a ticket to South Africa.

World and European champions, Spain, remain top of the rankings despite their 1-1 draw with France while Germany retained second position.

But Argentina leapfrogged Portugal (4) to climb to third in the standings after they recorded victories over Uruguay (who fell out of the top 10) and Chile in the past month to move up one place.

Italy completes the top five, rising with three positions following wins against Armenia and Denmark.

Brazil; hosts of the 2014 World Cup are 18th in the standings.

Barca In Search Of Interim Manager After Vilanova Health Scare

Tito Vilanova the new Barcelona coach may have to step down for an interim manager to takeover after suffering a relapse of a tumour he had removed just last year.

The report came from Barcelona FC website that the search for an interim manager is on after Vilanova’s health scare.

Tito underwent surgery in November of last year to remove a growth on his parotid gland. The parotid gland is a salivary gland in humans. It is one of a pair, and the largest of the salivary glands.

The tumour is thought to have reappeared and now FC Barcelona is desperately searching for an interim manager to temporary replace the 44 year old Vilanova.

Barca is an amazing 9 points clear of their nearest rival who is Atletico Madrid who they beat by 4 goals to 1 last Sunday. Tito Vilanova took over from Pep Guardiola last summer and has had a terrific run this season so far.

Messi, Puyol and Xavi have all renewed their contracts and therefore will make Barca a force to be reckoned with in the future. Leo Messi has renewed until 2018 while Carles Puyol and Xavi Hernandez have both penned a deal until 2016.

FC Barcelona released a statement this morning announcing they had suspended all media activities for today but did not go into details. They also confirmed that a further announcement would be made later on today.

The statement read: “Barcelona announces that it is has suspended the press conference from president Sandro Rosell planned for midday. As well as that, the media Christmas lunch has been cancelled.

“Later today the club will issue a further release. Until that time we will not make any announcement about this matter.

“We regret any inconvenience this decision may cause.”

Messi surpasses Pele’s mark for goals scored in a year

Brazil football Legend Pele’s milestones for goals scored in one calendar year was beaten yeaterday Argentine forward and Barcelona player; Lionel Messi after scoring his 75th and 76th time in 2012 to move within nine of Gerd Mueller’s all-time record as Barcelona won 4-2 at Mallorca in a la liga clash.

Xavi Hernandez was the key to Barcelona’s victory as he unlocked Mallorca’s defence with a free kick in the 28th minute before Messi struck in the 44th. Cristian Tello added a third goal a minute later at Iberostar stadium.

Their opponent were bent on not giving up the game like that as Mallorca came back to level early in the second half but Messi stepped up to score again the 70th to ensure victory.

It would be recalled that the Spanish giants lost surprisingly to Celtic in the Champions League clash during the week and the Mallorca game can be tagged to be a comeback of the sleeping giant.

This is the latest scoring feat for the Argentina forward, one of the leading candidates for the Ballon D’Or.

Messi scored 73 goals in the 2011-12 season for Barcelona, breaking the previous European club record of 67 goals set by Mueller in 1972-73. He also set a Spanish league record of 50 goals last season and broke Cesar Rodriguez’s 57-year milestone of 232 goals to become Barcelona all-time leading scorer.

Joaquin Caparros’ Mallorca tried to follow Celtic’s defensive blueprint from Wednesday’s upset in Glasgow, but the strategy didn’t last even half an hour.

Xavi Hernandez took full advantage of a foul earned by Cesc Fabregas on the edge of the area. The Spain midfielder bent a beautiful free kick over the defensive barrier that turned goalkeeper Dudu Aouate into yet another spectator as it fell into his net.

Also, second-place Atletico Madrid stayed three points behind the pacesetters by easing past visiting Getafe 2-0 thanks to goals by Adrian Lopez and Arda Turan.

Messi converted Barcelona’s 75 per cent of possession into a deserved second goal when the Argentina forward dribbled by several defenders and unleashed a left footed-shot that Aouate let slip through his hands.

Tello then quickly made it 3-0 by curving a strike from outside the area into the far side of the goal.

When it appeared Barcelona would cruise to the comfortable victory, two errors allowed Mallorca to get back into the game.

Mallorca’s Michael Pereira pulled one back in the 55th after Javier Mascherano lost the ball. Two minutes later, Victor Casadesus made it 3-2 from the penalty spot following Sergio Busquets’ handball in the box.

 

But Messi received a chested pass from Alexis Sanchez and smashed the ball into the top corner to restore Barcelona’s two-goal advantage and crush Mallorca’s hopes.

Messi’s seventh double of the season increased his league-leading tally to 15 goals. He has 20 in all competitions this season.

Pele scored 75 goals for Brazil and Santos in 1958. Mueller had 85 in 1972 for West Germany and Bayern Munich.

With strikers Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema injured, Cristiano Ronaldo scored for Madrid in the 21st after receiving a gash above his left eye in a collision with an opposing player.

Madrid coach Jose Mourinho said that Ronaldo was having trouble with his vision by halftime and had to be substituted. Mourinho sent on an extra defender looking to protect his slim lead with the water-logged pitch encumbering almost every attack.

Madrid, even without its three top scorers, almost scored twice more as Pepe and Sergio Ramos both hit the crossbar.

But Mourinho’s tactic backfired when Levante substitute Angel Rodriguez held off Pepe to control Obafemi Martins’ pass and slot the ball beyond goalkeeper Iker Casillas in the 62nd.

Madrid had another golden opportunity when Jose Callejon was fouled by David Navarro on the edge of the area, only for goalkeeper Gustavo Munua to block Xabi Alonso’s resulting spot kick in the 73rd.

As time ticked down, Mourinho sent on Morata in the 83rd and one minute later the forward met Alonso’s free kick to head it by Munua.

“I was very happy to help the team,” said the 20-year-old Morata. “Two years ago Munua saved a clear goal for me. I have had more chances and I knew that one day the goal would arrive and today was the day.”

Mata vows to get back Spanish squad shirt

Juan Mata one of the new signings of newly crowned Champions League winner London club Chelsea has reiterated that he will do all he can get back on board the Spanish squad to take back his spot and this is following his recent relegation by Spain during the recent World Cup qualifiers.

The Chelsea Midfielder though not happy about the recent snub by Spain manager Vicente Del Bosque for games with Belarus and France said with his recent form he is meant to get a national call-up as he is bee in spectacular form for his new club.

And with this recent disappointment, Mata promised to go the extra mile in terms of improvement in his game henceforth and he won’t allow his non-call up to dampen his moral which is the only way earn a respectable call-up for national duties which is to work harder on himself.

Mata’s Chelsea team-mate, Fernando Torres, is in the squad and expressed sympathy for his plight last week, revealing the 24-year-old was feeling understandably “sad”, especially since he was a part of the history-making Euro 2012 squad.

There can be little argument with Mata’s assertion that there are plenty of top class players for Spain to choose from, as they have the likes of Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas, Busquets, Xabi Alonso & Santi Cazorla lining up to get the midfield spots.

Obagoal scores winning goal for Levante on debut

Obafemi ‘Obagoal’ Martins came into his new Spanish side Levante in style as he showed why he is worth being bought as the out of favour Nigerian striker scored the winning goal on his debut for the La Liga club against another Spanish side Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Before he finally recorded a goal, the former Rubin Kazan hit-man’s effort was disallowed in the 64th minute as it was faulted as an offside.

Martins who came in as a substitute in the 46th minute and was on with much aggression  standing a threat to defenders till the 87th minute when he finally sealed the victory for Levante  after he received a brilliant pass from Ballesteros.

After the game Obagoal as he is fondly called back home said he couldn’t ask for a better debut than what happened in the game today.

Obafemi Martins joins Levante from Rubin Kazan

Former Super Eagles striker; Obafemi Martins has moved to Spanish club Levante dumping his Russian club Rubin Kazan as he agreed to terminate his contract with the Russian club.

Martins who left inter Milan to Wolfsburg before he moved to Rubin Kazan is expected to earn an annual wage of around €600,000 every season.

Obafemi Martins was entitled to a wage of €2.2 million at Rubin Kazan after signing a deal worth €9 million from German Bundesliga side, Wolfsburg.

Martins signed a two-year deal with Levante on Tuesday and will be unveiled today.

Manchester City will prove a tough one for Real Madrid – Mourinho

Manchester City’s owners have built a team capable of winning the Champions League but will find it difficult to maintain long-term success, according to Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho.

According to footballbuster, Mourinho said the hundreds of millions of pounds invested in City in recent years had made them a force to be reckoned with on the European stage and a danger to Madrid in their forthcoming Champions League clashes.

“Manchester City is powerful because they have players at the highest world level,” he said. “City is a team built to win the Champions League. The objective of the investment, made year after year, is to lift the European Cup. It will be tough. Tough for Real Madrid … and tough for them because Madrid is Madrid.”

Last Friday’s draw saw Premier League title Holders City and La Liga champions Madrid thrown together in a so-called Group of Death alongside last season’s Bundesliga victors Borussia Dortmund and Eredivisie winners Ajax.

Mourinho said each team within the group could cause the others problems, adding: “Dortmund are two-time champions of Germany, a top team full of internationals, many from Germany and the best players from Poland.

“They are picking up experience in the Champions League, they have an impressive stadium and fans who support them till the end. With Ajax you never know, they could give you trouble. There is no margin for error.”

Mourinho said he was confident that Madrid would progress but concerned that such a tough group could harm his side’s prospects further into the competition.

“The two teams who come through our group, we will not reach the knock-out phase in the same conditions as the other 14,” he said. “We will need to be at our best from the first minute and in every game through the group phase with the maximum of intensity, concentration, commitment and pressure.

“We will arrive at the quarter-finals with effort in our legs and our heads. The others will arrive fresher, and without yellow cards or suspensions, having rotated players to control the numbers of minutes played. We will arrive with physical and mental fatigue.”

The Portuguese coach would not comment on the reasons behind Cristiano Ronaldo’s recent “sadness” comments, but did say he was not worried that cash-rich clubs such as City or Paris St Germain would lure Madrid’s best players away.

“Madrid, Barca, Bayern … these clubs have unique historic capital,” he said. “The trophies, the European Cups, the history, the fans … things you cannot buy with money.

“The best players will want to be at these clubs, the three I have mentioned and some others who have trophy cabinets full for almost a century. That is a determining factor for the players.”

The former Chelsea manager said he welcomed UEFA’s forthcoming Financial Fair Play regulations, which would work in favour of Madrid and other big, traditional clubs.

“There will be difficulties for clubs which are not well structured, although they have wallets full of money,” he said. “Madrid’s structures are well prepared for this, and we can enter successfully into the new era.

“We have the potential and history to keep our best players, Cristiano Ronaldo, Iker Casillas, Karim Benzema, Gonzalo Higuain. Everyone in our squad, Barca, too.

“But clubs which live just from the investments from their owners will not have it so easy, because they do not have the structures of the historic clubs. In that way, Financial Fair Play will be good for football.”

Essien moves to Real Madrid on season-long loan

Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien joined Spanish champions Real Madrid on loan on transfer deadline day.

The Ghanaian re-joins former Blues boss Jose Mourinho, who brought him to England in 2005, at the Bernabeu.

The 29-year-old has often been touted as a box-to-box midfielder for his ability to exert boundless energy in supporting offensive and defensive play.

Essien can also play as a centre-back.

Essien began his career playing for Liberty Professionals in his home country. In 2000, he moved to France joining SC Bastia. Essien spent three seasons at the club appearing in over 60 matches before joining league champions Olympique Lyonnais in 2003.

At Lyon, Essien won back-to-back league titles in 2003–04 and 2004–05 and also played in the UEFA Champions League for the first time. During his five-year stint in France, he acquired French citizenship.

In 2005, Essien signed with Chelsea for a fee of £24.4 million and, at the time of his signing, was the most expensive African footballer in history.

At Chelsea, Essien helped the club win the Premier League in 2006 and 2010, as well as three FA Cups and one Football League Cup. In 2008, he appeared in the UEFA Champions League Final. He has won the Chelsea Goal of the season award twice, in the 2006–07 and 2008–09 seasons.

A Ghanaian international, Essien started at youth level as he represented his country at the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship and 2001 FIFA World Youth Championship with the latter team finishing as runner-up.

Essien made his senior team debut in January 2002 and has represented his nation at three Africa Cup of Nations tournaments and the 2006 FIFA World Cup, where Ghana reached the Round of 16. He is often referred to as the Bison for his tough tackling style, boundless energy and physical presence on the pitch.

Super Cup Final: Cech wary of new look Atletico Madrid

Czech Republic international and Chelsea shot stopper; Petr Cech has warned against dangerous Spanish side, Atletico Madrid. Chelsea FC will face the Spaniards in the Super Cup Final which will be played on Friday.

Cech believes the Blues will be faced with stiffer competition compared to the 2009-10 Champions League encounter with Los Rojiblancos.

Cech, 30 feels the level of success has really helped the Spanish club grow in terms of play and that is not leaving out the manager Diego Simeone who is putting everything on board to get results.

Cech also hailed Thibault Courtois, Chelsea keeper who has moved on-loan to Atletico Madrid.

Blues keeper Thibaut Courtois was part of Los Rojiblancos’ team that were victorious in Europe last year having extended a loan spell at the Madrid-based club after joining Chelsea, and was impressive for the team that finished 5th in La Liga.

Cech praised the 20-year-old keeper’s attributes, suggesting he is not easy to score past, indicating that the Belgian is very mature for his age.

Chelsea beat Atletico Madrid who was drawn in the same group with the Blues’ three seasons ago at their home and Atletico were only able to secure a draw in West London as Atletico Madrid finished in third place and could not advance in the competition.

The Czech international insisted that they he is seeing a much-improved Atletico Madrid as they have tasted success.

Cech said they are a much disciplined side displaying a very solid defence especially, and are difficult to handle on the counter attack.

The Premier League outfit qualified for the Super Cup final by winning last season’s Champions League, defeating Bayern Munich on penalties in the final, while Atletico beat Athletic Bilbao 3-0 in the Europa League final to earn their place in the European Cup competition curtain raiser.

 

 

Fabrice Olinga breaks La Liga youngest scorer record

Spain and Athletico Bilbao forward Iker Muniain Goñi‘s record as the youngest player to ever score a goal in the La Liga has been broken by Fabrice Olinga a Cameroonian who plays for Malaga.

16-year-old Olinga fronted for the Malaga team in a game that was the first of the new season against Celta Vigo.

Though he was brought in as a substitute but he led his team to victory, barely 25 minutes after his debut.

Presently the youngest player of Malaga, he was part of the “Samuel Eto’o Foundation” in Cameroon and in 2009, he arrived Spain to join the youth ranks of RCD Mallorca and was later persuaded by Málaga’s academy director, Manuel Casanova to join Málaga CF, a team where he played crucial role in the success of Málaga’s youth side as they reached the final of Copa del Rey Juvenil in 2012 even though he didn’t feature in the finals due to suspension.