Hitzfeld warns Bayern over Martinez capture

20 August 2012 04:18

Ottmar Hitzfeld has warned prospective Bayern Munich signing Javi Martinez of the immense pressure that comes with a big-money transfer.

The 23-year-old was part of the Spain squad that won the European Championship in July and has since been linked with a 40-million-euro move to the Allianz Arena.

And the former Bayern coach has suggested that the intense scrutiny the player would be under, due to his hefty price tag, will serve to raise expectations on the versatile midfielder.

“Of course, the pressure is immense on such a player. And of course, such a transfer also includes a risk,” Hitzfeld told news agency DAPD, recalling the issues of Mario Gomez on his big-money move to Bayern.

“How Martinez will deal with these insanely high expectations will be interesting. (There is) no Sheikh behind Bayern, it is hard-earned money.”

Martinez was not included in the Athletic Bilbao squad for their La Liga season opener, which they lost 5-3 to Real Betis.

Ancelotti unhappy with ´complacent´ PSG

20 August 2012 04:05

Carlo Ancelotti has accused his star-studded Paris Saint-Germain side of complacency after their 0-0 draw with Ajaccio on Sunday.

PSG struggled to create opportunities and their task was made even harder when Ezequiel Lavezzi was dismissed in the 59th minute.

That caused the coach to lose his temper, and he was sent to the stands after kicking a water bottle onto the pitch.

But after cooling down the 53-year-old former Milan and Chelsea boss said the Argentine striker’s dismissal was warranted.

“The exclusion of Lavezzi was fair, I was a little upset,” Ancelotti told France Football.

“There was a lot of aggression towards Ajaccio. In addition, we played the first half with a bit of complacency.

“This is a disappointment because we have the quality, the skill. But there is a good balance on the pitch.”

A Zlatan Ibrahimovic double saved Ancelotti’s blushes last weekend against Lorient, but none of his big money signings could conjure up a late goal this time around, with the Italian pointing to a lack match fitness.

“We have no goals, but we have not had many opportunities, except for (Jeremy) Menez. Last time (against Lorient), we had 10 or 12 opportunities, this time only one,” he said.

“Physically, maybe some are not 100 percent. I do not think that PSG is too far away from what it can do. With Ibrahimovic and Thiago Motta it will improve the quality of the team.

“We must work to find a better balance and a better organisation because there are a lot of new players.”

PSG will continue their hunt for their first win of the season when they welcome Bordeaux to the Parc des Princes next weekend.

Brazil Serie A wrap: Vasco slip up, Atletico Mineiro triumph

20 August 2012 03:40

Leaders Atletico Mineiro edged Botafogo 3-2 in Brazil’s Serie A while Vasco da Gama lost further ground to the top two on Sunday.

Neto Berola netted the winner for Atletico two minutes from full-time to extend their unbeaten run to 12 league games.

Andrezinho had scored from the spot to complete his brace in the 81st minute to level the scores at 2-2 for Botafogo.

Jo scored his sixth goal of the campaign and Damian Escudero was also on target for Atletico, who are now three points clear of Fluminense at the top of the standings.

Vasco’s hopes of closing the gap on Fluminense were dashed with Vagner Love leading Flamengo to a 1-0 win.

Leandro scored a brace as Gremio hammered Figueirense 4-0 to stay in fourth place while Portuguesa extended its undefeated streak to eight with a 1-1 draw against fifth-placed Internacional.

Lucas and Ayrton were on target for Coritiba in the first half as they snapped a four-game losing streak in style with a 4-0 win over Cruzeiro.

Roberto and Anderson Aquino added further goals for Coritiba in the shock result on Sunday.

Andre continued the trend of braces with two goals in Santos’ come-from-behind 3-2 defeat of Corinthians.

Andre scored the equaliser and put Santos 2-1 up early in the second half before Bruno Rodrigo cancelled out Juan Martinez’s equaliser with an 84th-minute winner.

Atletico GO rounded out the results with a 2-1 win over Palmeiras to move closer to safety.

Vilanova keen for Real test

20 August 2012 03:20

Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova has set his sights on the Super Cup showdown against Real Madrid after claiming his maiden La Liga victory.

Forward David Villa scored on his return from a leg break as Barcelona trounced Real Sociedad 5-1 in Vilanova’s first league match at the helm at Camp Nou on Sunday.

Barcelona face Italian side Sampdoria in a friendly on Monday before hosting rivals Real Madrid in the home leg of the Spanish Super Cup on Thursday.

“The Spanish Super Cup is not a minor competition,” Vilanova said. “It’s a good tournament that we want to win.

“Maybe compared to other tournaments it’s not given as much importance but in this house every match is important. It’s an official match and it’s against Real Madrid.”

Vilanova praised the performance of his charges, who went ahead through defender Carles Puyol in the fourth minute, only for Uruguay international Gonzalo Castro to equalise moments later.

But two goals from Argentinean maestro Lionel Messi put the result beyond doubt as winger Pedro and then Villa, in his comeback from a fractured tibia, added their names to the scoresheet.

“It’s important to start off on the right foot,” Vilanova said.

“There are a lot of positive things to be learned from (the) match.

“We played 90 minutes with a lot of intensity. In the first 15 minutes we were strong and we reacted well to their equaliser.

“Furthermore, Villa returned and he scored a goal. (That) gives the player a lot of morale.”

Mourinho unhappy with Real draw

20 August 2012 02:13

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho said he was disappointed with his side’s performance in their 1-1 draw against Valencia on Sunday.

Real took an early lead through Gonzalo Higuain but soon sat back and allowed the visitors to equalise, with Jonas heading the ball home.

Valencia then had their goalkeeper Diego Alves to thank for a string of saves that ensured they left the Santiago Bernabeu with a point.

“I expected more from my team. Last season it was (Valencia goalkeeper Vicente) Guaita (who denied us) and this year it was Diego Alves. We did not have a great game but we did more than enough to win,” Mourinho said in his post-match press conference.

“Alves was the best, he made some very good saves. If we had played better we would have created more chances.

“We always want to win. We are not content with draws. We could not lose this match because the opponent did not create chances.

Madrid travel to Camp Nou to face Barcelona in the Super Cup for the first Clasico of the season on Thursday, but Mourinho said he was more interested in the wellbeing of defender Pepe, who was injured during the game after colliding with Real goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

“I worry about Pepe, not the Super Cup. It is just a game and I want a player who is well,” he said.

With Casillas attempting to clear a cross that led to Jonas’ equalising, the duo came together and the impact left both men prone on the ground while the opposition celebrated.

Pepe was replaced by Raul Albiol at half-time and departed the Santiago Bernabeu for the hospital soon after.

“I remember nothing of the play. Only that I went for the ball, and nothing else. It is a pity to concede goals from set pieces,” Casillas said to reporters after the game.

“They’ve taken him to hospital because head injuries can be serious.”

Valencia coach Manuel Pellegrino, meanwhile, was pleased with the fight shown by his side away from home.

“It is always hard to play against a team like Real Madrid who are steeped in prestige,” he said.

“At the end of the game it was very hot and physically very hard for the players. The game was disjointed and both teams had a lot of changes.

“We could have won, but equally we could have lost. It was a very intense game.”