Buffon fired up for Champions League return

13 September 2012 16:57

Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has described his frustration at hearing the Champions League anthem only ‘from the sofa’ in recent years.

After missing out on playing in the tournament since 2009, the Italy captain has been an envious onlooker of the competition as Juve played in the Europa League in 2010/11 and missed out on Europe altogether last season.

“That piece of music? I’ll be glad to hear it again,” Buffon told Corriere dello Sport.

“I’ve had to listen to it from my sofa over these years and I didn’t think that was right.”

Juventus begin their campaign against last year’s winners Chelsea at Stamford Bridge next Wednesday, and will be hoping to get off to a winning start.

The new Serie A season has again been disrupted by allegations of corruption in Italy, with Juve coach Antonio Conte implicated, but Buffon believes the Turin side can remain focused and stay competitive.

“We have to get back to that certain mentality, that ferocity, of last year,” he said.

Moutinho flattered by Spurs interest

13 September 2012 16:20

Porto midfielder Joao Moutinho says he was ‘flattered’ by the interest shown in him by Tottenham during the recent transfer window.

Spurs pursued the Portugal international aggressively on transfer deadline day but failed to complete a deal to secure his services.

Moutinho said he had been pleased to attract the attention of Andre Villas-Boas, who worked with the midfielder at Porto.

The 25-year-old regards his compatriot highly but insisted he was focused on the future in his home country.

“Tottenham is not in my head now, although I was flattered by the interest, especially by the coach,” Moutinho told reporters. “Andre Villas-Boas is one of the best coaches in Europe today.

“The transfer window is closed, but now I am focused on Porto and prefer not to talk about something which may or may not happen.

“Porto is a club which offers maximum stability to help me show my best level. I cannot talk about anything else until that changes.”

Contract talks not a priority for Wenger

13 September 2012 16:05

Arsene Wenger says he is in no rush to sign a new contract with Arsenal and would question his position if they struggle on the pitch.

Wenger has been in charge at Arsenal since 1996, winning three English Premier League titles, but has seen his side go seven years without a trophy.

Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis this week backed the Frenchman to continue at the helm, but Wenger opted not to discuss his future prior to the team’s match at home to Southampton on Saturday.

“I have two years to go. What is important for me is Southampton and I think I have shown my commitment to this club in the past,” he told reporters.

“At the moment I am not in the mood to think about the long-term future. We want to do well this season, that’s all.

“I am an Arsenal man. I think I have always shown that. I have to consider if I do well or not. If I don’t do well, I have to consider my future.

“I have been at the club long enough to have confidence in the people I work with, but I will assess my own performances and then make a decision, at the moment we are not there.

“Two years is a long time in my job. I just want to do well for the club as long as I can and accept all the rest.

“I have to consider that at my age, you always have to assess if you have the fitness, the desire, the commitment that this job demands.

“Then of course you have to make your decisions. I hope I will be lucid enough and intelligent enough to assess my performance well.”

Midfielder Abou Diaby is an injury doubt for Arsenal as they welcome promoted Southampton to the Emirates Stadium and, after a long period out of action last season, will not be risked unnecessarily.

“Diaby is in a position where we can certainly play him,” Wenger said.

“We just have to assess the risk to play him or not. That will be done tomorrow.

“We won’t take a gamble on him, especially because of his history.”

Speaking to the club’s website, Wenger expressed his belief Bacary Sagna will sign a new contract, despite the fullback giving an interview in which he criticised Arsenal’s transfer policy.

“Bacary loves the club and I think he will stay here,” he said.

“Bacary’s interview doesn’t reflect the love he has for this club. He has always given full commitment.”

Fabregas embracing Barca challenge

13 September 2012 15:51

Cesc Fabregas says he was fully aware of how tough it would be at Barcelona when he returned to the Camp Nou side last year.

The Spain international has been struggling to find his best form in the opening weeks of the 2012/13 campaign, and has received his fair share of criticism following his relatively disappointing performances.

“It looks like the entire world has all of a sudden decided to say that the pressure is getting to me. I knew that there would be pressure to perform when I got here, I’m not stupid,” Fabregas said in an interview with Informativos Telecinco.

“I knew what to expect at Barca. I’m competing with players such as Xavi, (Andres) Iniesta and (Lionel) Messi. They are the best players in the world.

“Every player goes through good times and bad times, but you have to fight for your spot. I have always done just that and will continue to do so. You have to accept certain things in football.”

Fabregas has featured in three La Liga games this term, without finding the net.

CSL: Dalian Aerbin 0 Guangzhou Evergrande 0

13 September 2012 15:39

Chinese Super League leaders Guangzhou Evergrande have been held to a 0-0 draw away to seventh-placed Dalian Aerbin.

Dalian made it two scoreless draws from as many games for Evergrande as they continued their rise up the CSL table on Thursday.

In a tight tussle, Dalian kept the equal-best attacking side in the competition scoreless to move above Changchun Yatai on the league table.

Evergrande remain top of the CSL on 48 points but second-placed Jiangsu Sainty could reduce the four-point margin to the leaders if they defeat Guizhou Renhe on Saturday.