Lamela optimistic of Roma rise

7 March 2013 16:01

Roma starlet Erik Lamela insisted he is enjoying his football at the club, and has not given up hopes of a top-three finish this season.

The Argentina striker has been a major positive in an inconsistent campaign for the Italian capital club, with 11 goals in 22 Serie A appearances.

The 20-year-old’s form has caught the attention of a number of clubs across Europe, with Manchester City thought to be particularly interested after Roberto Mancini watched him against Sampdoria.

However, Lamela himself has insisted his sole focus at present is helping Roma reach the top three, telling La Gazzetta dello Sport: “Thanks to my family I am calm, and I think I’m doing pretty well, but I can do better with the help of my companions. I am happy at Roma, and we are on the rise.

“The most important thing is that we are each contributing (to victories). Now, we have the match against Udinese, which is important for our continuity and to help us climb the rankings. Even though we have lost a lot of games, third place is still close. It depends on us.”

Lamela’s pace and attacking flair has seen him compared with the likes of Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo in recent weeks, but the Florida-born player insisted he has plenty of work to do before he can emulate the Real Madrid duo.

“Am I like Kaka or Ronaldo? I am well behind them in terms of achievement, but I know I can give more. If you work and commit, you can improve,” he said.

Coloccini facing seven weeks out

7 March 2013 15:56

Newcastle United captain Fabricio Coloccini could face up to seven weeks on the sidelines after breaking two bones in his back.

The centre-back suffered the injury while clearing the ball during Newcastle’s 4-2 win over Southampton at St James’ Park on February 24 and has not featured for the club since.

The 31-year-old has returned to Argentina to be assessed by his national team’s medical staff, and could be out until May.

“Colo has gone back to Argentina,” Newcastle manager Alan Pardew said.

“There’s no treatment he can have, he’s broken two of the bones in his back.

“We think it’s going to be anything between three and seven weeks. He’s gone back for a week.”

Newcastle play Anzhi Makhachkala in the Europa League on Thursday, before hosting Stoke City in the Premier League three days later.

Scharner: Wigan require swift recovery

7 March 2013 15:55

Wigan defender Paul Scharner is hoping his side recovers from a 4-0 defeat to Liverpool to book a place in the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

Roberto Martinez’s side were comfortably beaten courtesy of a Luis Suarez hat-trick at the DW Stadium last time out, meaning they are only out of the relegation zone on goal difference in the Premier League.

Wigan turn their attention away from the league duties this weekend though, as they face a tricky tie against Everton at Goodison Park for a place in the last four of the time-honoured FA Cup, and the Austrian defender is hoping they can put a disappointing defeat against Liverpool behind them.

“I think the game was one of those rare events in a season when nothing goes your way,” he told the club’s official site.

“We can’t use that as an excuse though and we’ll be making sure that in our next game we turn things around from this weekend.

“We must just get past this game and start up again against Everton in the FA Cup next weekend.”

The quarter-final will be a welcome distraction for the Lancashire club, who currently sit precariously above the drop zone with 24 points.

The Latics welcome fellow strugglers Newcastle United and Norwich City after the trip to Merseyside and Scharner thinks Saturday’s quarter-final can instil confidence in his team-mates.

“It’s a good situation to have to break up the league fixtures with what could be a very significant moment in the history of the club.

“If we can play a good game at Goodison Park and get a victory there then we will be able to pick up our confidence again and bring it back to the league games.

“It’s vital that we prepare the best we can, not just for the Everton game but for every game from now until the end of the season.”

Ben Arfa eyes top-10 finish

7 March 2013 15:47

Newcastle winger Hatem Ben Arfa said Alan Pardew’s new-look side can challenge for European honours and a top-10 Premier League place.

The Magpies, who are currently languishing just six points above the drop zone, are in Russia to face big-spending Anzhi on Thursday, but the Frenchman is hoping his new team-mates can spring a surprise.

Pardew bolstered his injury-ravaged squad in January with several new recruits from France, and Ben Arfa – who could make his return for their Anzhi trip – has been delighted with the progress they have made.

“I am very happy now,” he told the Daily Mirror.

“They are very good players and they will really strengthen our team. I was in France when the players were signing. I was pleased because they are good players not just because they a French.

“For instance, Moussa Sissoko is here and he is a giant. I know him from the national team. A lot of big clubs wanted him and he came to Newcastle.

“We have a stronger team now than we had before January. It’s good because last season we did very well and we finished fifth but the squad was not very big.

“Now, with the players coming in, it is even stronger and we can do something similar again. This season maybe we can go on a good run and get to the top 10, of course.

“The ambition is to come back very strong and finish the season strong. I want to be at my best until the end of the season and that is my ambition at the moment.”

The 25-year-old has returned to the squad following a recurring hamstring setback that has kept him out for the best part of two months and the former Lyon man is confident his side can overcome an ambitious Anzhi side in Moscow and reach the last eight of the Europa League.

“I know (Samuel) Eto’o. I also know Lassana Diarra from the national team,” he added.

“They are a good team with very good players. They are targeting this competition and next year want to be in the Champions League. They have great ambition.

“But I am looking forward to playing. I am very happy to be back on the pitch. It has been a long time not playing, 10 weeks is difficult for any player to deal with.”

Juve were smart tactically, says Buffon

7 March 2013 15:39

Gianluigi Buffon has hailed Juventus’ tactical nous, after they dismissed Celtic in the Champions League round-of-16.

The Turin side beat Celtic 2-0 on Wednesday to book their ticket to the quarter-finals of the competition after previously beating the Scottish champions 3-0 in the first leg, and Buffon was delighted with Juve’s performance over the 180 minutes.

“Our strength is having a tactical awareness and level that we didn’t have before. This allows us to go anywhere and play our game. You can win or lose, but in the toughest moments, the group has an extra weapon to call on: our playing style,” Buffon told the club’s official website.

“We always look to impose our style of play but in previous Champions League campaigns we may have relied too heavily on individuals. But by sticking to game plan, you actually allow players to shine even more.

“We are into the last eight which is no mean feat when you think that that just 15 months ago we finished seventh in Serie A for the second year in a row.”

The shot-stopper added Juventus need a bit of fortune if they are to win the Champions League this term.

“You need a lot of luck to go all the way – just look at this week’s Manchester United-Real Madrid game, where one incident allowed the Spaniards to progress.”

The draw for the quarter-finals takes place in Nyon on March 15.