Milla sacked by Spain after Olympic exit

8 August 2012 02:29

Luis Milla has been relieved of his post as Spain Under-23 coach after his side’s poor showing at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

U-19 coach Julen Lopetegui will take over from the 46-year-old Milla and step up to take the reins of the U-21s.

Former Spain international Milla had led his nation to victory at the 2011 European U-21 Championships, but a little over 12 months later it was a different story Spain were eliminated without scoring a single goal in an Olympic football group which also included Morocco, Honduras and Japan.

In an official statement issued on Tuesday, the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) announced the departure of Milla and confirmed the contract of his assistant, Juan Carlos Martinez Castrejo, would not be renewed.

His replacement will take charge of the U-21s for their fixtures against Switzerland on September 6 and Croatia on September 10.

Lopetegui led his side to back-to-back victories at the U-19 European Championship in 2011 and 2012 and the quarter-finals of the 2011 U-20 World Cup.

Emery tips Alba to shine

8 August 2012 02:12

Spartak Moscow coach Unai Emery has backed his former charge Jordi Alba to make a big impact with new club Barcelona.

Emery and Alba worked together at Valencia, where they achieved a third-placed finish last season to secure Champions League football for another campaign at Estadio Mestalla.

Both player and coach moved on in the off season, with Alba, a former Barca youth player, sealing a move to Camp Nou.

Emery meanwhile has sought a fresh challenge with Spartak in the Russian capital.

Alba, 23, has enjoyed a sensational rise to prominence in recent months, topping off an impressive Euro 2012 by scoring in Spain’s 4-0 final win over Italy.

Big things are now expected, and Emery believes his former player has the physical and mental attributes to make an impact at Barca.

“He is a player trained, prepared, hungry for success and, above all, humble. With all that, he will succeed. I’m sure,” Emery told El Mundo Deportivo.

“At first the boy did not want to play left-back, but then he just wanted to play in that position. He is a much-travelled player, with speed and surprise.

“The play that best defines him was the goal he scored in the (Euro 2012) final against Italy.”

Alba’s packed summer schedule saw him follow his Euro 2012 heroics with a less successful showing with Spain’s Olympic side, who crashed out in the tournament’s group stages.

There are concerns the young talent may suffer from burn-out, but Emery does not believe Alba’s hectic schedule will be a problem.

“I think not,” he said when asked about potential exhaustion.

“Jordi has strength and youth. I have also a player with Brazil, Romulus, who of course I would like to be already working with us, but (the players) have an understandable enthusiasm for the Games,” Emery said.

Schaaf serves notice of Bremen ambition

8 August 2012 01:40

Thomas Schaaf believes his Werder Bremen side have sent a warning to the Bundesliga title favourites with their LIGA Total Cup victory.

Bremen stumbled to a disappointing ninth-place finish in the league last season, but have been active in the transfer window, bringing in the likes of Eljero Elia and Nils Petersen.

On Saturday they triumphed on penalties against Bayern Munich in the annual pre-season tournament’s semi-final stage, before matching the feat against Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund a day later.

“This shows that we have addressed many issues,” Schaaf told

“This tournament was great because it shows what we can do to our opponents.”

Bremen’s squad for the season is considerably younger than last term, but Schaaf says age is not imporant compared to a player’s ambition.

“It’s completely irrelevant whether you are young or old – you have to do your job,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter whether a player is an old bag or a skipping youngster, everyone must do their job for the team with enthusiasm and courage.”

Bremen will have another chance to upset Borussia Dortmund on August 24, when the two clubs get the Bundesliga campaign under way.

UEFA Champions League wrap: Dynamo, BATE advance

8 August 2012 00:15

Dynamo Kiev’s Brown Ideye scored with almost the last kick of the game to beat Feyenoord 1-0 in Champions League qualification on Tuesday.

Ideye’s goal helped to secure a 3-1 aggregate win for Kiev as they advanced to the final qualification stage for the UEFA Champions League.

With the final seconds of five minutes of injury time ticking down in the Netherlands, a goal-kick from visiting Kiev was punted long into their attacking half.

A header from one of Feyenoord’s players fell at the feet of Kiev’s Denis Garmash and the midfielder passed immediately to Ideye.

Garmash took off around the outside of Ideye, who returned the ball to the Ukrainian on the left edge of the penalty area.

In behind the home side’s defence, Garmash waited expertly before placing the ball ahead of Ideye, who smashed it into the roof of the net.

In the other second leg of Champions League third-round qualifying on Tuesday, BATE Borisov defeated Debrecen 2-0 to win the tie 3-1 on aggregate.

Dmitri Mozolevski scored the opener for Borisov on the counter, slipping the ball under Debrecen goalkeeper Istvan Verpecz in the 25th minute.

The Belarusian club made it 2-0 eight minutes into the second half when Aliaksandr Volodko ran onto Aliaksandr Hleb’s low cross and his strike was deflected between Verpecz’s legs and rolled into the net.

Tuesday’s results mean Kiev and Borisov have advanced to the final round of Champions League qualifying, which starts on August 21.

Klopp blasts shoddy Dortmund defence

7 August 2012 21:23

Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp wants his defence to improve as the German champions gear up for the start of the season.

Dortmund stuttered to a disappointing 3-3 draw against Werder Bremen in the annual pre-season LIGA Total! Cup before losing on penalties.

And with Sunday’s DFL-Supercup match with Bayern Munich approaching fast, the 45-year-old has warned them that such shoddy displays will not be tolerated.

“I wanted them to take on board the things we have done in training,” he told Bild.

“I have seen nothing of the sort with the defence. That’s not right.

“This has taught me an important lesson. We had no security. We do not have much to do, but we are preparing.”

After taking on Jupp Heynckes’ side, Dortmund take on Oberneuland in the DFB-Pokal on August 18, before finally getting their Bundesliga campaign under way on August 24.