AVB hoping for more strong home form

21 December 2012 03:59

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas is hopeul his side can keep their run of excellent form at home going strong.

His Spurs side entertain Stoke on Saturday, looking to extend their winning run at White Hart Lane to six matches.

But they will not have it all their own way against Tony Pulis’ side, who are unbeaten in their past seven matches in all competitions.

“Hopefully (our home form) will continue,” Villas-Boas said.

“It’s always difficult in the Premier League as you know. Stoke won’t be easy. You saw how persistent and patient we had to be to get the winning goal against Swansea.

“It’ll be important for us to keep on winning. But Stoke are on a magnificent run too, home and away, so (they are) not an easy team to beat.”

Former Spurs striker Pater Crouch has been dropped to the bench for Stoke’s last two games, but Villas-Boas knows exactly what type of threat the towering front man possesses.

“Recently (there’s been) a change,” he said. “But it doesn’t mean Tony can’t use that factor – he played here and knows the stadium well and knows these players well – to use it against us.

“So it’s a decision that Tony has to take. But it’s a player that we respect as a goal-scorer.”

Spurs are level on points with third-placed Chelsea and could break into the top three with victory.

Simeone delighted with Atletico progress

21 December 2012 03:46

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone is pleased with the progress his side have made in the year since he took control in the dugout.

Atletico sit second in the La Liga table, having lost just three league games – an improvement on their fifth placed finish last season.

“I am very happy to be at a club which I love for a year, where I found a group of players who are fully behind the ideas we want to give to the team,” Simeone said.

“It is something that has helped us achieve very good things.

“We are very happy with what we have done, because when we came here the situation was not easy, and the players made a commitment to Atletico Madrid, which became a competitive team everywhere.”

Simeone praised Celta Vigo midfielder Iago Aspas, adding that his team will be wary when they come up against him on Friday.

“Celta have played well since we played against them in the pre-season,” he said.

“They are a team that have a varied offence and a dynamic style, with a player like (Iago) Aspas, who is very important.

“It will be a difficult game, because they have a direct way of playing especially away, and we have to be aware and obviously try to control the midfield where Aspas plays – a player who is different.”

Simeone also offered words of encouragement to Barca manager Tito Vilanova, who underwent surgery on Wednesday after a recurrence of cancer in his salivary gland.

“I just wanted to tell him (Vilanova) the same that has already been said by the football world,” Simeone said.

“He has energy, power, and he is a brave guy, who is suffering from this again.

“I know that all the energy of the people around him, who are supporting him, are hoping that everything will be all right.”

Figo calls for swift Sneijder resolution

21 December 2012 03:37

Luis Figo wants Wesley Sneijder and Inter to resolve their ongoing contractual dispute before it begins to impact negatively on the team.

The Dutch playmaker’s refusal to accept a both a wage cut and extension is widely understood to be the reason behind his prolonged exile from Inter’s first-team, despite his lack of fitness.

“Seeing a situation like this is difficult for the team and for the player. Hopefully it will be resolved in the best way possible,” former Portugal international Figo told reporters.

“Then in February he can help the team move forward. But all that depends on the choice made by the coach.”

The Italians were pitted against Cluj in the draw for the first knockout stage of the Europa League, and Figo believes the Champions League dropouts pose his side an unpredictable threat.

“We do not know if this is a favourable draw or not,” the former World Player of the Year said.

“We will only know that if we win. Cluj were in the Champions League and are the champions of their country.

“They have similarities to Rubin Kazan, but I believe we can deal with their strengths.”

Modric confident ahead of Malaga clash

21 December 2012 01:58

Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric is adamant that his side can pick up three vital points when they travel to Malaga this Saturday in La Liga.

The capital club have struggled for form of late, stumbling to a draw at home to Espanyol last week, but the Croatian is confident that they can triumph in Andalusia if they are at their best.

“If we play like we know we can, I am sure that we can get all three points in Malaga,” he told the club’s official website.

“It will be a difficult match and it will be very interesting to watch it from the outside. It all depends on us and I am convinced that we will succeed.

“Malaga are a great team, but we always go into matches with the objective to win and this will not be any different. Again, it all depends on us. I am sure we can win.”

The Croatia international also spoke of his delight at being at Real Madrid after his summer switch from Tottenham, and insisted that his team remain united in their goals.

“To play with Real Madrid is something so great. They are a huge club, one of the best if not the best in the world. It is a great sensation to play here and I am enjoying every moment,” he said.

“Everything about the club is significant and there is a great atmosphere. I am enjoying it much playing for Real Madrid. And we are united. We always have been united and we will be so until the end.”

Modric revealed that his idol as a child was his compatriot Zvonimir Boban, who represented AC Milan between 1991 and 2002.

“Without doubt, Boban has always been my idol, my reference. He is Croatian and was our captain and played for Milan,” Modric said.

“He is one of the best players in the history of Croatian football and he was my idol when I started to play football.”

Defoe grateful for Villas-Boas´ influence

21 December 2012 01:54

Jermain Defoe has put his fine form this season down to the faith showed in him by Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas.

The England striker has started in 16 of the 17 Premier League games so far this campaign, scoring nine goals and taking Spurs to fourth on the table.

“The new manager has come in and he has shown great faith in me,” the 30-year-old said.

“He said to me from the beginning, ‘I want you to stay at the club, I know you will score goals’. It has been fantastic. I have got my chances, I have scored goals.

“I just want to keep it going, keep scoring more goals and help the team achieve something this year.”

Despite the side’s impressive attacking performances, Defoe admits that they have to improve the defensive side of their game after Villas-Boas held a meeting regarding the team’s issue with conceding late goals.

Spurs have conceded 10 goals in the final 15 minutes of games, a joint-high with bottom-of-the-table Reading.

“There is no point standing here telling you what was said in the meeting because I would be standing for a long time,” he said.

“But it is not just the defenders – it’s the whole team. It’s that famous saying: defend from the front.

“It is something that has happened and is something that we do.”

Defoe has recently paired up with Emmanuel Adebayor after playing alone for much of the season due to the Togo man’s injury problems.

The former Arsenal player could be in line to represent his country at the Africa Cup of Nations next month, but Defoe would rather he stayed at White Hart Lane.

The England international said: “Obviously, for us, we want him to stay here and help us to win games.

“At the end of the day, I can’t stand here and say he shouldn’t go because it is special when you play for your country.

“It is a decision that Ade has to make himself.”