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Garcia: Roma buried Bayern demons

26 October 2014 03:22

Roma coach Rudi Garcia said he felt they buried the demons of their heavy loss to Bayern Munich, in a 0-0 draw at Sampdoria.

Garcia’s men copped a brutal 7-1 thrashing from Bundesliga heavyweights Bayern in the UEFA Champions League, and the capital club bounced back to take a point from their Serie A trip to Genoa on Saturday.

Roma sit second in the table, with one loss in eight, but Sampdoria have four wins and four draws so far in their faultless campaign – and Garcia noted their performance was full of merit.

“When playing against an unbeaten team that is third in Serie A, we had the right attitude and standards, which shows me we have already put Bayern behind us,” Garcia told Sky Sport Italia.

The former Lille boss added: “We had 65 per cent possession, but then you need a little bit of luck, which we saw when the upright decided we should not score.

“I liked the overall performance in the circumstances.

“We had 20 shots on goal, but not enough of them were on target tonight, well below our usual standards.

“I thought everyone gave their all and had the right attitude, so a coach can only be happy with that.”

The recent floods in the north-west Italian city saw an affected pitch played on at the Stadio Communale Luigi Ferraris, but Garcia did not use the surface as an excuse – claiming his side did not deserve to win.

“It was difficult to move the ball quickly and accurately on a pitch like this,” he said.

“Looking at the statistics, we didn’t have enough shots on target to hope for the three points.”

Garcia hinted his men were suffering from fatigue, and injuries to midfielder Kevin Strootman and defender Leandro Castan made rotation difficult.

“I don’t think we are missing the players specifically, but it is forcing us to play the same men almost always in central defence and midfield,” he said.

“I had to rest [Miralem] Pjanic and we saw [Alessandro] Florenzi give his best in a different role.

“The main problem with the injuries is that the same players are always there and inevitably that affects fitness levels.”

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Coupe de la Ligue Preview: In-form Marseille travel to Rennes

26 October 2014 03:20

Ligue 1 leaders Marseille travel to Rennes for a Coupe de la Ligue last-32 clash on Wednesday, while Bordeaux are at Toulouse on Tuesday.

Marcelo Bielsa’s league leaders are in red-hot form, coming into the cup contest off eight straight wins in the French top flight.

Marseille claimed a league cup hat-trick from 2010 to 2012, but no silverware has landed at the Stade Velodrome since.

The two clubs have endured a close rivalry in recent times, Marseille’s 3-0 Ligue 1 win at home to Rennes in September snapping a three-match winless run against the north-west club.

Rennes won their only other clash against Marseille this year, claiming a 1-0 triumph away from home in March.

Marseille will be hoping to preserve their winning streak, despite having to travel on one of the longest trips in French football.

An out-of-form Bordeaux are up against an equally out-of-sorts Toulouse for a spot in the last 16.

Willy Sagnol’s Bordeaux are winless in three, while Toulouse have failed to trouble the scorers in two straight league losses.

Their past two meetings in Ligue 1 have featured three red cards, meaning there could be some spite on show at Toulouse’s Municipal Stadium.

Also on Tuesday, Evian and Lorient do battle in an all-Ligue 1 contest – both sides flirting with relegation early in the domestic campaign.

The remaining six matches on Tuesday feature a top-flight team against a Ligue 2 outfit.

Mid-table Montpellier are at home to second-tier Ajaccio, Reims welcome Ligue 2 strugglers Arles and relegation-placed Bastia welcome an in-form Auxerre side.

Ligue 1′s Lens are at home to Creteil, Laval – on the back of four straight draws – will hope to upset Nantes, while top-flight side Caen will host Ligue 2 battlers Clermont.

Also on Wednesday, Nice and Metz – separated by just one point in the Ligue 1 table – will clash at the former’s Allianz Riviera.

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La Liga Review: Real claim Clasico honours

26 October 2014 01:08

Real Madrid came from behind to overwhelm Barcelona en route to a 3-1 El Clasico win in La Liga on Saturday, while Valencia bounced back.

Luis Enrique made the entry to Barcelona’s team sheet that the eyes of the football world were waiting for as Luis Suarez started, having served his four-month ban for biting Giorgio Chiellini during the World Cup.

The Uruguay star enjoyed a dream start to life in a Barcelona shirt as he laid on Neymar’s fourth-minute opener, from which Real hit back ferociously – Karim Benzema passing up a host of chances in quick succession.

Lionel Messi’s customary composure in front of goal deserted him before his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo levelled from the penalty spot before half-time after Gerard Pique blocked Marcelo’s los cross with his arm.

That was the first league goal conceded by Barcelona this season but Pepe headed Carlo Ancelotti’s team ahead five minutes into the second half and there was a party atmosphere at the Santiago Bernabeu when Benzema converted a brilliant 61st-minute counter-attack.

Real close to within a point of their historic foes at La Liga’s summit after nine rounds, while Sevilla can go level with Barca if they beat Villarreal on Sunday.

A point behind Real are Valencia, who returned to winning ways at home to second-bottom Elche.

Valencia were beaten 3-0 by Deportivo La Coruna last week but Nuno Espirito Santo’s men regrouped with a 3-1 victory at the Estadio de Mestalla.

Two goals in a five-minute period from Shkodran Mustafi and Dani Parejo sent Valencia on their way in the first half, before a David Lomban own goal in the 63rd minute put the game beyond doubt.

Jonathas scored a consolation goal for the visitors in the third minute of injury time.

In other results, Athletic Bilbao eased the pressure on coach Ernesto Valverde with a hard-fought 1-0 win at Almeria.

In the midst of a nine-game winless streak in all competitions prior to kick-off, Bilbao were desperate for maximum points, and they got them thanks to Xabier Etxeita.

The Bilbao defender found the back of the net in the 56th minute to steer the club three points clear of the relegation zone.

Xisco Jimenez equalised three minutes from time as Cordoba climbed off the foot of the table after holding fellow strugglers Real Sociedad to a 1-1 draw.

Eibar and Granada also played out a 1-1 draw.

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Serie A review: Roma held, Sassuolo rampant

26 October 2014 00:36

Roma missed out on the chance to go top of Serie A as they were held to a 0-0 draw at Sampdoria.

Rudi Garcia’s side were looking to bounce back from their humiliating 7-1 UEFA Champions League defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich but were unable to breakdown a stubborn Sampdoria, for whom goalkeeper Sergio Romero impressed.

Former Arsenal forward Gervinho came closest to breaking the deadlock for Roma when he rounded the Argentina international but struck the bottom of the post from an acute angle.

Juventus will establish a three-point lead over Roma if they win at home to lowly Palermo on Sunday.

Sassuolo secured a 3-1 derby victory over bottom club Parma – their first three-point haul of the season.

Sergio Floccari headed the visitors into a 20th-minute lead and Francesco Acerbi touched home from a free-kick to double the advantage four minutes later.

Saphir Taider struck the post with a free-kick on the stroke of half time but the same player blasted emphatically into the top corner to put Sassuolo 3-0 ahead, rendering Antonio Cassano’s opportunist strike a consolation.

Cagliari were similarly emphatic winners, leapfrogging Empoli with a 4-0 win – all the goals in their second win of the season coming in a frantic 16-minute period at the end of the first half.

Marco Sau scored the equaliser as Cagliari battled back from 2-0 down to claim a point against Sampdoria last week and he curled home a 31st minute opener before Danilo Avelar netted via the underside of the crossbar and the penalty spot in the space of three minutes.

Albin Ekdal won the spot-kick and completed Empoli’s misery with a solo effort in first-half stoppage time.

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Falcao doubtful for Chelsea clash

26 October 2014 00:31

Manchester United have been dealt a blow ahead of Chelsea’s visit to Old Trafford, with Radamel Falcao in doubt for Sunday’s fixture.

Falcao was a second-half substitute against West Brom on Monday due to jet lag but the on-loan striker could miss the Premier League blockbuster after sustaining a knock in training.

United manager Louis van Gaal insisted the knock was not knee-related, a relief for fans after the Colombia international missed the World Cup because of a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament suffered in January.

With captain Wayne Rooney set to complete the final game of his three-match ban and Robin van Persie struggling for form, Van Gaal is desperate to have the 28-year-old at his disposal for the visit of the Premier League leaders.

“He got a kick in the morning [on Friday] so we have to wait and see if he’s fit enough,” said Van Gaal. “But it’s not a knee problem.

“He had a knee problem but not anymore. We have to build Falcao up, that I have also said in the first press conference when he came to our club.

“It is difficult because we are playing [games] already, that’s difficult but we have played him because I like the way he was playing so we play with two strikers.

“Now I have to choose between two strikers, even three because [James] Wilson can also play, the younger player.”

Falcao has scored once since joining United from Ligue 1 outfit Monaco on a season-long loan deal on deadline day last month.

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