Baia believes in Barcelona bounce back

7 March 2013 14:49

Former Barcelona shot-stopper Vitor Baia is confident his old side can produce a comeback to topple AC Milan in the Champions League.

The Blaugrana were beaten 2-0 at San Siro in the first leg of the round-of-16 tie late last month, but Baia has little doubt that they will eventually emerge victorious once the home tie is complete.

“Knowing the players, the fans and the club’s history, I am confident that Barcelona have what it takes to pull off a historical comeback against Milan,” Vitor Baia told La Xarxa.

The former Portugal goalkeeper also had his say on Victor Valdes’ four-match ban following his dismissal against Real Madrid, and feels the punishment is rather harsh.

“Valdes’ four-game suspension is a very severe punishment,” he added.

“It’s a lot of games for a player who pretty much has a clean sheet when it comes to this kind of behaviour.

“It can be difficult to keep your emotions in check when you think an injustice has happened and that’s how Victor must have felt.”

Valdes will miss La Liga games against Deportivo La Coruna, Rayo Vallecano, Celta de Vigo and Real Mallorca due to his ban.

Rooney´s United future in doubt

7 March 2013 14:39

Wayne Rooney has been tipped to leave Manchester United after being left out of the starting line-up to face Real Madrid on Tuesday.

Some observers have suggested the England international is falling out of favour with manager Alex Ferguson, with the 27-year-old’s future in question after his substitute appearance in United’s 2-1 loss to Real in the Champions League round of 16.

Reports suggest United would be willing to offload Rooney for as little as 20 million pounds at the end of the season.

The England international has two years to run on his contract, after signing a five-year deal in 2010.

That commitment came after he publicly questioned the club’s ambition and seemingly attempted to orchestrate a move away from Old Trafford.

Cross-city rivals Manchester City were Rooney’s biggest suitors back then, but it remains to be seen if the Premier League champions will revive their reported interest.

Big spending Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain are said to be admirers of Rooney.

But even with the French club’s considerable financial backing, it is understood his high wage demands would still prove a stumbling block.

Rooney is expected to return to training on Thursday, ahead of United’s FA Cup quarter-final clash with Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Fernandes defends QPR wage outlay

7 March 2013 14:06

Queens Park Rangers’ latest financial report shows the club’s wage bill doubled from May 2011 to 2012, before their last transfer spree.

The west London side are bottom of the English Premier League table despite spending heavily and twice breaking their own transfer record in January, signing Loic Remy and then Christopher Samba.

And the latest report, for the year ending 31 May 2012, a period before those deals – as well as others for Park Ji-Sung, Julio Cesar and Jose Bosingwa – took place, shows a huge increase in their spending.

The club’s turnover rose from 34.6 million pounds to 74 million pounds, however, their expenditure on wages also soared from 27.6 million pounds to a massive 56 million pounds in a season in which they escaped relegation on the final day of the campaign.

With reports indicating Samba and Remy are earning 100,000 pounds and 75,000 pounds per week respectively, QPR chairman Tony Fernandes admitted the club is “conscious of the need for expenditure to be closely monitored and controlled”, but insisted their success matched their spending last term.

“A critical driver of any club’s value is its presence in the Premier League and the club achieved its key objective for the 2011/12 season, by successfully securing its Premier League status for the coming season,” he said in his directors’ report.

“The financial results reflect the club’s focus on on-pitch success.

“There are a number of potential risks and uncertainties that could have a material impact on the group’s long-term performance.

“These risks and uncertainties are monitored by the board on a regular basis.”

QPR are four points adrift of safety with 10 games remaining in the 2013/13 Premier League season.

Suker: Modric can become Madrid master

7 March 2013 14:05

Former Croatia star Davor Suker said Luka Modric has what it takes to become a key player at Real Madrid after his tough start in La Liga.

The 27-year-old joined Madrid from Tottenham at the start of the 2012-13 campaign, but has so far been struggling to live up to the high expectations his 33.2million-pound transfer fee put on him.

Nevertheless, Modric played an important role in Madrid’s 2-1 Champions League win over Manchester United on Tuesday, and Suker is hopeful that his compatriot can build on his recent success.

“I hope that he can continue to show that he has the qualities to become an important player for Madrid. The match against United showed that he can lead the team in big games,” Suker told Marca.

“I am very happy for him that he put in a good game. He has always worked hard without complaining. This will be a big confidence boost for him.

“He showed everybody what he’s capable of. Modric is a fantastic player and he proved his worth at a big moment.”

Modric has made 36 official appearances for Real Madrid so far, netting two goals.

Zabaleta assured of Tevez commitment

7 March 2013 13:59

Pablo Zabaleta has insisted Carlos Tevez has returned to top form and is dedicated to Manchester City despite his bust-up last season.

The forward fell out with manager Roberto Mancini when he refused to warm-up in the Champions League group game with Bayern Munich, and was then told he would never play for the club again.

But the 29-year-old has played a big role for City this term, netting nine times in the league including the winner against Aston Villa on Monday, and his fellow Argentine insisted credit is due to the striker for coming back into the side.

“It was so difficult for Carlos, for Roberto Mancini and for the club,” the defender told the club’s official website.

“From something very small, it grew so big. It’s done now, though and what happened won’t happen again.

“After that night, everything went crazy and it was so difficult for everyone. Everybody makes mistakes and the positive thing is Carlos came back again and his commitment for the club and team has been 100 percent, so full credit to him for that.

“He is back to his best and he scored a fantastic goal against Chelsea and I think he’s been great all season. His work-rate is fantastic.

“When Mario was here we had four top strikers and it was difficult for them to play every game. But now we have Edin (Dzeko), Sergio (Aguero), Carlos and they’re all doing well and playing more games.”

Mancini’s men have suffered a disappointing campaign so far this season, falling 12 points behind Manchester United in the league and exiting the Champions League at the group stages.

The right-back admitted that the team have failed to win enough games and should be in a better position, but didn’t rule out a late surge for the title.

“As for this season, it goes without saying that we wanted to have a closer gap than 12 points,” the 28-year-old added.

“We have the FA Cup to go for as well, but obviously, when you look at the team you expect us to do better.

“We’ve dropped too many points this season in games that we know we had to win if we want to win the title.

“So we need to learn from our mistakes but we are still learning and need to just carry on. Good teams need to keep winning, it is still 10 games to the end so we’ll see.”