Mata hails ´angel´ Cech

16 August 2012 19:08

Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata has described Petr Cech as an ‘angel’ after his heroics in the Champions League final win over Bayern Munich.

The west London club won their first major European trophy in Munich after the Czech Republic international saved from Ivica Olic while Bastian Schweinsteiger hit the post before Didier Drogba sealed the win from the spot.

Cech also saved a spot kick in extra-time from Robben to cap an impressive performance, one which was not taken for granted by his team-mates, especially Mata who was more grateful than most following his own miss from 12 yards.

The Spaniard told the club’s website: “After my penalty was saved I still believed in Petr Cech. I had wanted to take one. I always like to take the responsibility on the pitch. I missed but after that Petr was like an angel and saved the important ones.”

Mata admitted he was absolutely delighted to win the final and believes after everything the Blues went through, they deserved to win.

“It was an explosion of feelings when Didier scored that penalty,” he said.

“The game was crazy. Bayern Munich scored on about 80 minutes and with the last corner, our only one, Didier scored.

“We had suffered a lot and were so tired at the end, but it was destiny. This team deserved the Champions League.

“Looking back now to be champions of Europe, when Fernando and me went to the national team we were different people, we felt stronger and taller.

“It was a dream for this club, and it came true. We are the squad who won the first Champions League in Chelsea’s history. We are all so glad to be part of it.”

Gignac staying grounded

16 August 2012 18:43

Marseille striker Andre-Pierre Gignac has refused to get carried away with his form to start the new campaign.

The 26-year-old endured a torrid 2011/12, managing just one goal in 25 appearances in all competitions, but has already scored twice in the club’s Europa League qualifying campaign in 2012/13.

In an interview with Footmercato, the France international spoke of his desire to move on from the pains of his last campaign by staying calm and remaining positive.

“It is better to work calmly,” Gignac said. “When you think negatively, you say to yourself, ‘I do not know what will happen to me so I don’t give a damn’.

“At the moment, everything goes well, but you should not get too caught up. Things can quickly go in the other direction.

“I had a descent into hell last season and do not want to go back to it.”

Gignac has earned 16 caps for France, but experienced mixed fortunes at Marseille both on and off the pitch since a big-money move from Toulouse in 2010.

Girard guarded for Lorient trip

16 August 2012 18:35

Montpellier coach Rene Girard has warned his side not to underestimate Lorient ahead of their Ligue 1 fixture on Saturday.

Lorient narrowly avoided relegation last season but have started the new campaign brightly, holding big spenders Paris Saint-Germain to a 2-2 draw in their opening fixture last weekend.

“I’d say that Lorient are the same team each season,” Girard said ahead of his team’s away fixture.

“They always start each season well.

“They’ve got a strong team with good players, despite losing several players during their opening game.

“That first fixture was hard for them, with a suspension and the injuries of (Bruno) Ecuele-Manga and (Kevin) Monnet-Paquet as well as the red card for (Gregory) Bourillon – it’s a lot to lose for one game.

“Having said that, they are still a really hard team to handle at the beginning of the season. We’ll need to be very watchful against them.”

Montpellier made a slow start to the defence of their Ligue 1 title with a 1-1 draw at home to Toulouse.

Lowly Lorient sensationally defeated Montpellier 2-1 last time the teams met at the Stade du Moustoir in April.

Trochowski: La Liga TV deal unfair

16 August 2012 18:31

Sevilla’s Piotr Trochowski believes Barcelona and Real Madrid are too heavily favoured by the La Liga television rights.

Spain’s broadcasting revenue has been a controversial subject as there is no system of collective bargaining, with teams allowed to negotiate their own individual rights.

Barca and Real take home about half of the estimated 640 million euro-pot between them, thanks to their ability to draw the biggest television audiences, with third-placed Valencia earning just over 40 million.

Sevilla president Jose Maria del Nido has campaigned for a more equitable distribution of the television rights in the past, and now the club’s German midfielder has also chimed in on the debate.

“What the clubs find especially annoying is the distribution of TV money,” Trochowski told Kicker.

“Half of the money goes to Barca and Real and the remainder is divided up among the rest. How will we keep up with that?”

When asked to pick a winner for La Liga this season, however, the 28-year-old could not see past Barcelona claiming their first title under new coach Tito Vilanova.

“I am against both, but for me, Barca is stronger,” Trochowski said.

“Little has changed in the team and the new coach Vilanova was the assistant of (Pep) Guardiola. He knows the structures.”

Bale expects to face Newcastle

16 August 2012 17:42

Tottenham winger Gareth Bale is expecting to be fit for the club’s opening game of the English Premier League season against Newcastle.

The 23-year-old suffered a back injury after landing heavily on Wednesday while on international duty with Wales, who suffered a 2-0 defeat against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

But the former Southampton star has revealed he will be ready for Saturday’s game at the Sports Direct Arena, which will be new manager Andre Villas-Boas’ first competitive game in charge of the north London outfit.

“It was a bit sore when I landed on it, but it wasn’t too bad,” Bale told Sky Sports.

“I will be fine and I just have to get myself ready for the weekend.”

Tottenham could be without another midfielder for the encounter, with Luka Modric reportedly set to complete his drawn-out move to Real Madrid.