Gullit: Barca still with lots to prove

29 July 2012 21:48

Ruud Gullit believes Barcelona will have to win and retain the Champions League before they can be regarded as the best side in history.

The Dutchman, who was part of the AC Milan team that secured back-to-back European crowns in 1989 and 1990, appreciates the talent the Catalans hold but feels Tito Vilanova’s side must equal the feat achieved by the Italian giants 22 years ago.

“We retained the European Cup, which even the current Barca side couldn’t do,” the Dutchman told reporters.

“But there is no doubt that Barcelona are a great team and are ambassadors of the beautiful game.”

Barca boast three-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi among their ranks, but the former Chelsea and Newcastle manager thinks comparisons with Argentine great Diego Maradona are wide of the mark.

“Diego Maradona is the best ever in my opinion,” Gullit said. “I never saw Pele play live but I have seen and played against Maradona, he is the greatest. Now Lionel Messi and Ronaldo are the two best.”

Club friendlies wrap: Dortmund win again

29 July 2012 21:21

Borussia Dortmund continued their preparations for the upcoming Bundesliga season with a 1-0 friendly win over Legia Warsaw on Sunday.

Juergen Klopp’s side, who have won the last two German titles, are just a fortnight away from their first competitive match when they take on Bayern Munich in the Super Cup.

And they built on a 2-1 win against St. Gallen on Wednesday with a slender success in Poland.

The game’s only goal was scored by Polish forward Robert Lewandowski after just four minutes.

In other friendly fixtures, Lionel Messi bagged a hat-trick in Barcelona’s 8-0 demolition of RCA Casablanca.

Chilean Alexis Sanchez also scored a brace in the comfortable victory for the Catalans.

Arsenal were held to a 2-2 draw against FC Kitchee of Hong Kong, while PSV Eindhoven and Union Berlin were also forced to share the spoils in a 1-1 draw.

Sporting Gijon thumped fellow Spanish outfit Deportivo La Coruna 4-1 and West Ham United scored twice in the final 15 minutes to snatch a 2-2 draw against Energie Cottbus of Germany.

Mikel unfazed by pre-season setbacks

29 July 2012 21:10

John Obi Mikel insists Chelsea are moving in the right direction despite losing their second consecutive game on their USA pre-season tour.

The Champions League winners lost 1-0 against AC Milan in Miami on Saturday after going down 3-2 against the MLS All-Star team earlier in the week.

Despite the setbacks, midfielder Mikel, who has seen his place in the side come under threat following the arrivals of Eden Hazard and Oscar, is not concerned.

“I feel good, I think it was a good game for us,” the 25-year-old told Chelsea’s official website.

“It was not the result we would have wanted but there are positives we can take and try to build on it.

“We didn’t create many chances, but there were opportunities and maybe we were just one pass or one run short, so we are getting closer to how we want to be, and if we can keep doing what we are doing we will start to open teams up and improve our play.

“It is still pre-season and we have time to work on a few things before we get to the competitive games.”

The match with the Italian giants was the Blues’ final game of their USA tour, and they now return to London with an eye on the upcoming Premier League season.

And although Mikel says the experience of playing in America is exciting, he admits the squad are ready to return to the UK.

“I think we are all keen to get back home now but it has been a great experience playing in America and meeting so many amazing fans,” he said.

“Now we have to get back and build on what we have done on the tour and we will be in a good place on August 12 for the Community Shield.”

Chelsea’s season kicks off against Manchester City in the Community Shield on August 12.

Gladbach suffer Mlapa blow

29 July 2012 20:52

Borussia Moenchengladbach forward Peniel Mlapa is in doubt for the start of the season after sustaining an ankle injury.

The 21-year-old picked up the knock in his side’s friendly match against 2. Bundesliga outfit Bochum on Saturday.

Mlapa underwent further examination after the game to determine the exact extent of his injury, and he has now been diagnosed with torn ligaments in his right ankle.

“Injuries are unfortunately a part of the game. The timing and extent of the injury are obviously a big blow, but I have to look toward the future. I’ll do my utmost to return as soon as possible,” Mlapa told Sport1.

Mlapa had only just joined Gladbach from Hoffenheim, and has yet to make his first official appearance for the Bundesliga club.

De Vrij outlines Feyenoord goals

29 July 2012 20:16

Stefan de Vrij is hoping Feyenoord can cause an upset in Tuesday’s Champions League qualifier against Dynamo Kiev.

The Rotterdam giants finished runners-up behind Ajax in the Eredivisie last year to book their ticket for the third qualifying round, and the defender feels the side have what it takes to make it to the play-offs.

“It is going to be a difficult match against a good opponent. We are not the favourites, but we will get our chances. I’m confident that we can get a good result,” De Vrij told RTV Rijnmond.

“This is a new experience for all of us, but we have been fighting hard for it to get this far. We deserve to be here. We have been looking forward to it for a long time.”

Feyenoord will be without last year’s captain Ron Vlaar following his transfer to Aston Villa, and De Vrij has admitted the centre-back will be missed.

“I will miss him at the back. We’ll have to cope with his exit, though. You can’t change that. Whenever players leave, others step up to fill the void.”