Defiant Redknapp plots QPR´s escape

8 March 2013 17:05

Harry Redknapp is still optimistic he can guide Queens Park Rangers to English Premier League survival.

QPR are languishing at the bottom of the table on 20 points, four from safety.

After triumphing over Southampton last time out, they will be looking to record consecutive wins for the first time in 2012/13 when they host Sunderland on Saturday.

And Redknapp and is targeting a minimum of five wins from their final 10 games, with a projected points tally of 37 at the end of the campaign.

“I’ve been optimistic all along,” he told reporters.

“I still feel we’ll stay up. We just need to go on a run, we need five wins at least, I think.

“I would take 37 points here and now, I’d take my chances on that if I was offered it. We’ve just got to keep picking up results.

“We need back to back wins, it’s about time we did it. If we can do that, it puts us right back in the picture.”

Redknapp has injury worries within his squad ahead of the visit of Sunderland on Saturday, with both Julio Cesar and Booby Zamora struggling for match fitness.

“We’re waiting on them and we’re not sure on either,” he said.

“We’ll leave it until the last minute.

“Zamora is obviously a big threat for us and we’d love him to be fit but Jay (Bothroyd) and Loic (Remy) both scored last week, so we’ll see how we go.

“Sunderland are strong up front and they’ve got two very good strikers but we’re at home and we need to give our fans something to shout about. We’re still in there and we’ve got a good chance.”

Milan will feel Barca wrath, says Puyol

8 March 2013 17:04

Barcelona captain Carles Puyol believes his side will respond with a win when they face AC Milan in the Champions League last-16 second leg.

The 34-year-old said the Blaugrana can overturn the two-goal deficit from the first leg, citing a mental strength both on and off the field.

“We have the recipe to come back and win,” he told La Vanguardia.

“The team has come through some tough tests, not just in a footballing sense,” Puyol added, referring to the recent illnesses to defender Eric Abidal and coach Tito Vilanova.

Barcelona have been criticised recently due to their lack of intensity without the ball, and Puyol admitted this aspect of their play needs to improve.

“We need to re-apply the pressure. The most important thing about this team is the reaction when they lose the ball.”

And Puyol brushed off criticism over a perceived lack of unity in the dressing room, stating that the squad are as focused and professional as ever.

“People invent possible reasons for the defeats, but the dressing room is united. If they saw how we train, they wouldn’t doubt us.”

The second leg against Milan takes place at Camp Nou on Tuesday.

Bonucci confident Conte staying

8 March 2013 16:46

Juventus and Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci said he is not afraid of coach Antonio Conte leaving the club.

Bonucci has been quick to dispel any rumours Conte will leave the Serie A champions, having been linked with some of Europe’s top sides.

“He’s a true Juventino, he has that in his DNA, his dream is to stay at this club for as long as possible,” Bonucci told Tuttosport.

The 25-year-old also said that he was happy with life at the Turin side, adding: “I want to stay at this club too.

“Playing for Juventus is the maximum for me and I want to end my career here – I couldn’t ask for more than that.”

Bonucci also admitted he had no great preference as to who Juventus’ next Champions League opponents would be, after his side qualified for the quarter-final stage by beating Celtic in the last-16.

“At this point of the competition, one side is just as good as another,” he said.

“Obviously if you look at the games between Schalke-Galatasaray and Porto-Malaga then we’d perhaps find a team that is a level below the rest.

“However, all of the sides left in the competition will be ones to fear.”

Edwards: Better side lost

8 March 2013 16:33

Perth coach Alistair Edwards admitted his side did not deserve to beat the Newcastle Jets in the A-League on Friday.

The Glory were outplayed by the Jets for the majority of the match but were able to absorb a stack of chances from the hosts and then grab the lead against the run of play with a goal to Argentine Matias Cordoba in the 24th minute.

Former Glory striker Adam Taggart levelled the scores just before half-time and the Jets looked likely to go on with it in the second stanza as they continued to dominate play.

But the Glory defended gamely and were able to keep themselves in the contest before Michael Thwaite poached the winning goal in stoppage time as Perth stole the 2-1 result.

“We deserved to get something out of the game but I don’t think we deserved to win, but the fact is we have the three points and that is life,” Edwards said.

“The way the game was going I thought if we get something out of the game it would be great.

“But in saying that we didn’t change our philosophy in any way. We didn’t pull anyone back.

“There was a situation where Michael (Thwaite) asked, ‘Should I go up for the corner?’ and we said, ‘Yes get up there’. He did and he was rewarded with the goal.

“We are in a situation now where we are trying to play a brand of football mixed with getting the results and it is important that we have a go.

“To their credit Newcastle played very well tonight and dominated certain aspects of the game but we displayed classic away-game form.

“There were times there when we were under the pump. We said, ‘ just stay in the game’. That was our thing at half-time – just stay in the game and it worked a treat.”

Edwards praised the defensive efforts of Thwaite as well as Glory goal-keeper Danny Vukovic who had an outstanding evening with the gloves pulling off a string of fine reflex saves to keep his side in the contest.

“He (Vukovic) has been really good the last few games and today he stopped the ball going in the back of the net,” Edwards said.

“And I thought Michael Thwaite was excellent as well with his defensive work and that probably shows you how the game was going.

“I know Gary van Egmond will be unhappy not to come away with anything from the game but I can’t say I am overly disappointed with getting three points.”

The win moves the Glory to the cusp of the top six on 28 points, just two points behind the fifth-placed Jets. With three rounds remaining Perth’s season is still very much alive.

“It is very pleasing and to come away at this stage of the season from such a crucial game with the three points puts us right in the mix for that top six spot,” Edwards said.

“It has been a while since Perth Glory has won an away game so that is the monkey off the back so to speak.

“The boys were pretty happy in the change rooms.

“We have made that long trip back to Perth with sombre looks on our faces but this time they will go home much happier.”

Roura, Barca focused on Deportivo

8 March 2013 16:23

Jordi Roura says Barcelona are only thinking about beating Deportivo La Coruna on Saturday, not Tuesday’s crucial game against AC Milan.

Barca sit 11 points clear in La Liga, and are heavy favourites to claim the title.

Their European ambitions are far more precarious – Barca lost 2-0 away to Milan in the Champions League round-of-16 first leg the 45-year-old.

But despite their showdown with Serie A opposition in midweek appearing to be the priority, stand-in coach Roura has insisted the Deportivo game will not be overlooked.

“We have to get the three points against Deportivo because it is important for the league. It is a step towards the title and the team is good, working hard,” he told reporters.

“Our intention is always to try not to concede, but our goal is to win the game tomorrow. Tuesday is another story.”

Roura also called for calm amid recent criticism of Barcelona’s performances, which has seen them lose twice to Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey and league, as well as that defeat to Milan.

“We all know this club. People tend to have an exaggerated euphoria when you win and excessive pessimism when you lost.

“When the results don’t come, the players naturally resent that, but for the first two days, they’ve worked well.”