Champions League Final: Juventus, Barcelona Arrive In Berlin

Champions LeagueItalian side, Juventus and Spanish giants, Barcelona have arrived in Berlin, the site of Saturday’s UEFA Champions League final.

Hordes of journalists and cheering fans gathered outside the Hotel Regent in the city centre to greet the Juventus players as they stepped off their coach before entering the hotel.

Dressed in suits, most of the players were also wearing dark sunglasses, but goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and forward Carlos Tevez waved to the crowd as they passed.

Juve held a training session in the afternoon, as they honed their skills in the hope of thwarting Barca’s formidable attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Suarez.

Barcelona have arrived in berlin,

Following the two-and-a-half-hour flight, Barcelona’s plane landed at Berlin Schönefeld Airport for the encounter.

Luis Enrique’s side are seen by many as overwhelming favourites in the Champions League final.

With the La Liga and the King’s Cup trophies in the bag, victory in the Champions League final would see Barca equal their treble success of 2009.

Ahead of the final, Lionel Messi had said in an interview with UEFA that a tough task awaits Barcelona against Juventus in the final.

“We know we are up against really tough opponents, a powerful side, they are a great club and its a final, anything can happen but we’re prepared,” the Argentine forward said.

Messi Weighs Barcelona’s Champions League Final Chances Against Juventus

MessiLeo Messi is ready for the Champions League final but he is well aware that a tough task awaits Barcelona against Juventus in the final.

The Argentine forward said this much in an interview with UEFA which featured on the Barcelona website.

Messi helped Barcelona to win their second trophy of the season with a 3-1 victory against Athletico Bilbao on Saturday but he admitted Juventus are not Bilbao.

“Its a Champions League final, we’ve had to work very hard and suffer a lot to get here to the final but we now know that its not going to be easy because we have the possibility to be the champions of Europe again and everybody wants that.

“We know we are up against really tough opponents, a powerful side, they are a great club and its a final, anything can happen but we’re prepared.”

Messi’s goals and his performances game after game would give Barcelona fans some hope that he can repeat the magic of scoring in the Champions League final again.

He shared fond memories of those nights against Manchester United in Rome in 2009 and at Wembley in 2011 against the same opponents, hoping he can relive them.

Messi also paid glowing tribute to outgoing Barcelona captain, Xavi Hernández, in the interview.

“Its been a great pleasure to play alongside him for so long to be able to enjoy his football not just in games but in trainings as well.

“He is the best player in the history of Spanish football,” Messi said.

FA Cup: Mertesacker Calls Wembley Goal ‘Magic’

MertesackerPer Mertesacker says his goalscoring record at Wembley is “magic”.

The World Cup winner headed home Santi Cazorla’s corner as Arsenal cruised to a record 12th FA Cup by beating Aston Villa 4-0 on Saturday.

It was almost a carbon copy of his goal in last season’s semi-final win against Wigan Athletic, and Mertesacker believes he has a special bond with the stadium.

“Wembley must be magic for me,” he told Arsenal Player. “I scored against England as well as in a semi-final last season, and the final this year.

“It’s always good to score and that was a decisive moment in the game to put us 3-0 up. It was a great feeling and we are a great unit. You could see how we played together. Collectively, we were absolutely great today.”

Mertesacker was encouraged by Arsenal’s team performance and believes that the Gunners’ togetherness will be key for next season’s Premier League title race.

“That’s what we try to build and we need to improve that even more as well,” the German said.

“The big topic for every team is to be together and show that not only off the pitch, but on the pitch as well, no matter what happens.

“We have great resilience, even when we dropped points or lost, we came back stronger. Hopefully we can continue that but we won’t take it for granted. We’ll celebrate as much as we can for as long as we can, and celebrate with our fans.”

Arsenal Beat Aston Villa To Make FA Cup History

arsenalArsenal has become the most successful club in FA Cup history as they outclassed Aston Villa at Wembley to earn Arsene Wenger a record-equalling sixth triumph.

Arsène Wenger was ”absolutely thrilled” with his team’s performance, as they won a record 12th FA Cup.

Wenger said: ”I am very happy, very proud and absolutely thrilled because we won the FA Cup but the performance was there as well”.

”The quality of the performance was outstanding today and it was a good advert for the FA Cup because we played in a very convincing way. I cannot fault one player – everyone was absolutely outstanding.

”We started strong, stayed strong and finished strong. That is what you ideally want but you do not always get it, but today we got it.

”I think it shows as well that this team has moved forward since the beginning of last season. We are now a much more mature team, who knows its way and plays as well fantastic football,” he said.

The Gunners retained the trophy they won against Hull City a year ago to put Wenger’s total of wins alongside George Ramsay – who previously stood alone with the record for his victories with Villa between 1887 and 1920.

Rodgers Hails Gerrard’s Recovery After Penalty Miss

Gerrard
Steven Gerrard celebrates his winning goal during Liverpool’s English Premier League match against QPR at Anfield on May 2, 2015.

Liverpool Manager, Brendan Rodgers, has hailed the determination and quality of Steven Gerrard after the Liverpool captain recovered from a penalty miss to earn his team a 2-1 win against Queens Park Rangers.

The Reds created a host of chances at Anfield and took a lead during the first half when Rickie Lambert expertly teed up Philippe Coutinho to send a curler beyond Robert Green.

But Leroy Fer levelled for the Londoners on 73 minutes and Gerrard was thwarted from 12 yards by a reflex save from the QPR goalkeeper in front of a stunned Kop.

But those same supporters were on their feet in the final moments as the No.8 leapt to meet Coutinho’s corner and glance a header home, securing all three points.

“It’s world-class talent,” said Rodgers to media after the match.

“There’s a very, very small group of players in that bracket, where in the big games they score the big goals and make the big contributions.

“He’s done that, everyone has seen that throughout his entire career at Liverpool.

“He missed the penalty and sometimes you think it may go against us, but there is no-one more determined to score and make up for it than Steven. It was a very, very good header.

“He was very determined, especially after the penalty. You sometimes find with a lot of players that when they miss a big penalty like that, normally their game goes and their confidence goes.

“But he’s the total opposite. He’s one of a unique group of players that whenever they need to respond, they normally do. It was an outstanding header and obviously gets us the win.”

Gerrard left the field to a standing ovation in the closing seconds, marking his penultimate Anfield appearance before he bids farewell to the club at the end of the season.

The personal joy he took from the winner was clear, as was the appreciation from every corner of the stadium, with the time to say emotional goodbyes moving ever closer.

Rodgers continued: “His career is probably all flashing before his eyes now.

“It was brilliant to get it at the Kop end as well – it was a really special moment for him. It all goes very quickly, but you can see he is still contributing at this level.

“There was no-one better, especially when he missed the penalty. I knew that if you keep him on, you’ve got every chance of getting a goal. He always steps up to the plate.”

The victory halted a disappointing run for the Reds.

In the two league matches since enduring the heartbreak of defeat at Wembley against Aston Villa, Rodgers’ side drew against West Bromwich Albion before losing out against Hull City at the KC Stadium earlier this week.

Rodgers concluded his press conference with a message of support for Rio Ferdinand and his family after the QPR defender confirmed the tragic news of the passing of his wife, Rebecca.

He said: “I’d just like to say one thing on behalf of us all here for Rio Ferdinand and his family. I think football was secondary today, with all due respect.

“This is a guy who has been an incredible player and today, when I was coming to the training ground, I heard the news about his wife.

“So on behalf of us here at Liverpool Football Club – the players, fans and the people of the city – we pass on our condolences and respect to him and his family.”

 

Culled from http://www.liverpoolfc.com

Capital One Cup: This Could Be Start Of Something Very Good – Terry

TerryThe Man of the Match in Chelsea’s Capital One Cup triumph, Captain John Terry, has been able to draw parallels with a decade ago as the current crop under the same manager quickly set their sights on more silverware this season.

Ten years after lifting his first Chelsea trophy, a very happy John Terry repeated the success but this time with the added bonus of his first cup final goal.

“This is the first one, it is massive,” he the Chelsea website.

“It meant an awful lot to us in 2004/05 in Jose’s first year here and it could be the start of something very good. Now we have to kick on with the League to focus on next but it’s a great day and a great win.

“I’m delighted with my goal and delighted with the team’s performance and lifting the trophy but you have to build on that. You have to set the foundations and we have done that, this is the first one and hopefully we can kick on.”

Terry, who also made his debut in the League Cup back in 1998, spoke about the strong desire among the current Chelsea crop to make history and the way they went about doing so at Wembley on Sunday afternoon.

“It is the start of something and we have to win trophies to be up there with some great sides, but we have won our first one now and in 2005 it inspired us and kicked us on and hopefully this will do the same.

“The pressure was there before the game but that is what cup finals do to you and I thought we handled the game very well.

“It was fairly even in the first half but we controlled it a little better in the second half and we are deserved winners.

“Spurs like to press, certainly in that first phase, so we tried to miss that out and get the ball into the front man a bit sooner which eliminated it a little bit, and I am delighted for Diego, he is in great goalscoring form and it is great to see him do it on the big stage as well.”

One of the game’s big talking points was Jose Mourinho’s solution to being robbed of the services of Nemanja Matic and needing to deal the Tottenham central attacking threat of Harry Kane with Christian Eriksen behind. The manager deployed Kurt Zouma further forward than normal with Gary Cahill and Terry paired in central defence.

“We did a little bit of work on it in the week and we shuffled it, so the manager does keep everyone guessing and on our toes,” said Terry.

“He said in the team meeting everyone has had a part to play in this competition and it is hard to leave some people out, but that is why he is the best because he makes good decisions.

“In this competition he made it very clear from the outset that we were out to win it and credit to the manager and the squad.

“The squad is moving in the right direction with some young players and hungry and experienced players as well, it is a great mix.

“A few teams over the years have written this competition off but it has always been close to my heart, and to be in this great stadium lifting this trophy is a really great feeling.”

It was the Blues skipper who fired his side into the lead against Tottenham to turn the Capital One Cup final tide against North London and in favour of the west, with the 2-0 win sealed when Diego Costa’s strike found the net and the Chelsea defence held firm.

Chelsea Wins Capital One Cup

chelseaJose Mourinho has claimed his first trophy since returning for his second spell as Chelsea manager, as Chelsea emerged winner of the Capital One Cup over Tottenham at Wembley.

Jose Mourinho was delighted after seeing his side crowned Capital One Cup kings, the club’s fifth success in the competition’s history.

Mourinho’s mastery of the big selection decision was also demonstrated again by his deployment of Kurt Zouma, a central defender by trade, in midfield to fulfill the role left behind by the suspended Nemanja Matic to outstanding effect.

John Terry, Man of the Match striked with a goal on the stroke of half-time.

Eleven minutes into the second half, Diego Costa, scored with an assist pass from Cesc Fabregas which deflected off the leg of Kyle Walker.

Speaking to the media after the game, Mourinho started by praising the opposition saying, ”First of all I want to say that in the middle of my happiness is space to think about Mauricio Pochettino, his staff and Tottenham as a team and a club, I met him in Spain many years ago as a player and then when he was a young manager when I was at Real Madrid. He came to England, proved himself, nobody gave him anything for free.”

The Chelsea’s boss added:  ”The second thing I want to say is that now I don’t think about John Terry, Azpilicueta or Diego Costa; I think about Courtois, because without him there would have been no final, we would have lost against Liverpool. I think about Matic, Filipe Luis and Oscar, the guys who didn’t have a chance to play. I think about Schwarzer, Salah, Schurrle, all the guys that started the season with us, they are all winners.”

Despite a career laden with trophies, Mourinho claimed this was the most important final of his time in the game and Chelsea were never seriously troubled once Christian Eriksen’s early free-kick rebounded to safety off the woodwork.

Mourinho also spoke about Diego Costa saying ”He needs the team, without them it’s difficult to do anything. He needs to keep his nature as a person and a player. He played a final at the top of his motivation, there was no yellow card because he did nothing to deserve a yellow card.

Terry Hopes To Extend Chelsea Career

John-TerryChelsea FC Captain, John Terry, has expressed his desire to extend his playing career in the club by another 12 months.

The 34-year-old centre-back, whose contact expires at the end of the season, has made 656 appearances in 16 years for the Premier League leaders.

“The club know my position,” said the three-time UEFA Club Defender of the Year.

“I want to stay. Hopefully my performances are showing that and they can keep me.

“I’ll be happy to get one year and then see how it goes,” said the former England Captain, adding that “I’m taking it year by year. I haven’t got much choice.”

Chelsea’s all-time highest scoring defender, made his first team debut in October 1998, and replaced Marcel Desailly as the club captain at the start of the 2004-05 Season.

He is the most successful captain in the club’s history, having led Chelsea to three Premier League titles, a Champions League success, four FA Cups and two League Cups.

Terry’s former Chelsea and England team-mates, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole, were allowed to leave the club once they had reached the end of their contracts.

Midfielder, Eden Hazard, 24, is the latest Chelsea player to sign a contract extension, a move that has been welcomed by Terry.

He said, “Hazard has just been done and that’s the most important for the club.”

The leading team in Barclays Premier League table host relegation battlers, Burnley FC, on Saturday.

 

Mourinho Full Of Praise After Chelsea’s Victory Against Liverpool

article-2523777-1A1AA6F200000578-414_634x403Jose Mourinho was full of praise for his side as a magnificent collective effort saw them overcome Liverpool, after extra-time, to reach the Capital One Cup final.

Branislav Ivanovic’s extra-time winner sent Chelsea into the Capital One Cup final at Wembley after a thrilling semi-final second leg against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge.

After a goalless 90 minutes, Branislav Ivanovic scored the decisive goal in the first period of extra-time, powering a Willian free-kick past Simon Mignolet to set up a final date at Wembley on 1 March against either Tottenham Hotspur or Sheffield United.

It was the visitors who had the better of the chances during the opening 45 minutes, with Thibaut Courtois making two excellent saves.

After the break, the Blues sprung into life as an attacking unit and looked the side more likely to find a breakthrough, with both Diego Costa and the marvellous Eden Hazard going close.

Ivanovic’s goal, however, proved the difference on the night, and Mourinho was understandably delighted to see his side progress.

“My view is that it was a big semi-final, two big games, this one was really big, with both teams at their limits and the result on the edge,’ said the Portuguese. “The result speaks for itself, 1-1 there, 0-0 here, extra time and one goal to decide.

“I always say to the players that during a game normally a difficult moment will arrive. That moment arrived in the first half and we coped with that. Liverpool were good, Liverpool were better than us, Liverpool were creating and we coped with that.

“We had to be intelligent and wait for the moment to be in control of the game. That came in the second half; we were dominant, created chances and should have scored. Mignolet was amazing. When we scored the goal in extra time the team showed me maturity, control. It’s good for our improvement to play against a very good team and we did that.

“Chelsea supporters were fantastic today, the victory is for them. Last weekend’s defeat was ours, not the supporters.”

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, who missed Ivanovic’s decisive goal as he was in a heated debate with fourth official Phil Dowd, showed how much another trip to Wembley meant to him by celebrating wildly with his staff at the final whistle.

It was a result that helped banish Chelsea’s embarrassment of losing 4-2 at home to League One Bradford City in the FA Cup fourth round in their previous outing.

Liverpool will leave Stamford Bridge with regrets, especially after a horrendous headed miss by Jordan Henderson in front of an open goal that could have taken the game to penalties.

There may also be a price to pay for Chelsea as striker Diego Costa may face retrospective punishment for two stamps on Emre Can and Martin Skrtel that were not seen by referee Michael Oliver.

Costa, as usual, was involved in all of the action and should have been awarded a penalty when he was brought down by Skrtel in the first half, while the Spain international’s head-to-head clash with Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard earned both players yellow cards.

Chelsea would face Spurs or Sheff Utd at the final on Sunday March 1

Yaya Toure Named African Footballer Of The Year

Delta-State-Governor-Emmanuel-Uduaghan-African-Footballer-of-the-year-Yaya-Toure-and-Issa-Hayatou-during-the-2014-GLO-CAF-Award-in-Lagos-360x225Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure has been named African Footballer of the Year for a record fourth consecutive time after beating Nigerian favourite, Vincent Enyeama and Aubameyang at a ceremony in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial city.

The Cote D’Ivoire international equalled the tally of former Cameroon striker Samuel Eto’o but became the first player to win the title four times in a row after previous successes in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Toure, 31, was nominated after playing a pivotal role in winning the Premier League and League Cup.

He also helped Ivory Coast qualify for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.

Midfielder Toure scored 20 goals in City’s title-winning campaign and also netted the equaliser in the 3-1 Capital One Cup final victory over Sunderland at Wembley last March.

He has nine goals in 26 appearances for City in all competitions so far this season, including six goals in his last nine outings.
Toure also made the Fifa shortlist for the 2014 Ballon D’Or prize in October.

Toure told media that he felt ‘lucky’ to win it considering the size of the competition

In the ceremony, Nigeria produced the African Women Player award, Africa Youth Player of the Year as well as the National Team of the Year.

Two Nigerians, Vincent Enyeama and Ahmed Musa also made it into CAF Team of the Year.

Lampard Says Cole Deserves To Captain England Against Ireland

England International and Chelsea player Frank Lampard has backed teammate Ashley for the captain armband in the clash against Ireland in Wembley after the defender was handed the captaincy in recognition of that achievement.

According to his football statistics, the game will pass as Cole’s 102nd cap for the Three Lions while it also passes as the player’s first home match since reaching a century of appearances.

Vice-captain Lampard expressed his delight over the decision during a news conference yesterday where he told news men that it was the right decision that was made.

The necessity to transfer the captaincy of the Three Lions squad was called for with Steven Gerard injured but it was supposed to be transferred to Frank Lampard by virtue of his position as the vice-captain to the injured captain Steven Gerard.

Lampard rooted for Cole’s captaincy not just to celebrate his 100th caps but for his noticeable performance throughout his caps England labelling the defender as the most consistent left back probably in world football over such a long period of time.

Lampard said it’s the perfect gesture and very much deserved for Cole and as a teammate of his at Chelsea and England he is glad for Cole.

 

And ahead of the friendly between England and Ireland, manager Roy Hodgson has written to English fans who will be attending the game live to forego any act of provocative attitude during the game, a match that the England manager sees as that which will boost Three Lions preparation for their World Cup qualifiers later in the year.

 

England will do all it can to qualify for the Brazil 2014 World Cup with four games left to play England lies on the second spot in Group H with 12 points, two points behind Montenegro.

 

Wednesday’s friendly will be the first time England and Ireland have played each other since a match was abandoned due to rioting at Lansdowne Road in 1995.

 

 

Chelsea Ready To Do Battle — Benitez

[highlight txtcolor=”#000FF”]Rafael Benitez believes Chelsea will learn from past mistakes as they bid to book their FA Cup final place.[/highlight]

The Blues will be facing Manchester City on Sunday in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley, with the interim manager adamant he is pleased with the season so far.

City beat Chelsea 2-0 in February at the Etihad stadium, but Benitez says his team learned from the experience.

If Chelsea can beat Man City on Sunday, a cup double remains in their favour, having edged past Rubin Kazan to progress into the Europa league semi-finals.