Serie A preview: Domestic duties back in Udinese focus

31 August 2012 11:59

Udinese will aim to bounce back from their Champions League disappointment, while Inter Milan play host to Roma on the weekend.

Francesco Guidolin’s side failed to qualify for the Champions League for a second straight season after a penalty shootout loss to Portuguese side Braga midweek.

Guidolin offered to resign as manager following the defeat, but has been persuaded to stay on.

“Guidolin is and will be Udinese’s coach,” club owner Gianpaolo Pozzo said.

“His bitterness and words came from the fact that he is a very sensitive man.

“He always gives 200 percent in what he does and he always transmits this energy to the squad.”

Udinese, who lost their season opener to Fiorentina, face champions Juventus at home on Sunday.

Juventus accounted for Parma in their opening match and look set to welcome back Gianluigi Buffon and Giorgio Chiellini from injury.

Roma will travel to the San Siro on Sunday in search of their first away win over Inter since 2007.

Zdenek Zeman’s men were held to a 2-2 draw by Catania last weekend, while Inter sit on top of the table after thumping Pescara 3-0.

Elsewhere, AC Milan, fresh from a home defeat to promoted Sampdoria last weekend, will journey to Bologna on Saturday.

Torino will take on Pescara at home in Saturday’s early fixture.

Cagliari and Atalanta, who both lost their opening fixtures, will clash on Sunday, while Parma will play host to Chievo.

Lazio and Palermo will meet in Rome as Siena face Sampdoria away.

Catania will face Genoa at home, while Napoli are up against Fiorentina.

Ferguson adds late Berbatov twist

31 August 2012 11:44

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson claims Dimitar Berbatov is not a certainty to join Fulham.

The 31-year-old striker fell down the pecking order at Old Trafford last term and his exit seemed inevitable after the club signed Robin van Persie in the close season.

It was widely assumed that a deal to reunite with former boss Martin Jol at Fulham was all but completed, but Ferguson believes there could be a final twist in the tale.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s at Tottenham,” said Ferguson.

“I don’t think he’s certain to go to Fulham, put it that way. I said last year he’d be leaving the end of the season.

“I don’t know what’s happened. He’s not gone yet. I don’t know anything about it. There’s not been any contact whatsoever from him.

“According to Fiorentina he was supposed to be on a plane, and we thought that too. We thought he was in Italy.

“It’s turned out he’s not in Italy. He could be anywhere to be honest. I have no idea where he is.”

The club’s chief executive David Gill appeared to rule out any further major departures from the club, aside from Berbatov, contradicting Ferguson, by naming Fulham as his destination.

“There’s certainly no acquisitions, as Sir Alex well communicated,” Gill told Sky Sports at the UEFA Champions League draw in Monaco on Thursday.

“Not confirmed yet but Dimitar (Berbatov) is likely to go to Fulham and there’s probably going to be one or two more loans out but we’re not working on anything specific at the moment.

“We’ve bought five players in this window and we’re very happy with what we’ve acquired and we look forward to a very long but exciting season ahead.”

Any move would bring an end to a five-year spell at the club for Berbatov, during which he’s helped the side win the Premier League on two occasions.

Top spot the goal for Allegri´s Milan

31 August 2012 11:28

AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri believes his side are more than capable of winning Champions League Group C.

The Serie A runners-up will face Zenit St Petersburg, Anderlecht and Malaga in the group stage of Europe’s elite club competition.

And Allegri talked up his team’s chances of progressing to the knockout stages after Thursday’s draw in Monaco.

“Compared to the last two seasons, there is one very strong team, but three teams where all things are equal,” Allegri told Tuttosport.

“Surely a group like this is winnable – our goal is first place to give us a better draw in the second round.”

Milan’s Dutch utility man Urby Emanuelson was also optimistic.

“We avoided the group of death. For us, Zenit, Anderlecht and Malaga,” Emanuelson wrote on Twitter.

Milan start their European campaign at home to Anderlecht on September 18.

La Liga preview: Real playing catch-up

31 August 2012 11:16

Real Madrid will be out to close the gap on leaders Barcelona, who host Valencia in a tantalising La Liga clash on the weekend.

Barcelona, on top of the table with two wins, lead champions Real by five points after two matches.

A draw at home to Valencia and a loss away to Getafe has seen Real make their worst start to a season in 39 years.

Barcelona, on the other hand, thumped Real Sociedad at home before pinching an away win over Osasuna.

Real will take on Granada at the Bernabeu on Sunday, followed by Barcelona’s clash against Valencia at Camp Nou.

Jose Mourinho’s side will be buoyed by their Spanish Super Cup success over Barcelona midweek, while Granada, who narrowly avoided relegation last season, aim to somehow defy the odds.

Valencia will travel to Barcelona hopeful of securing at least a point at Camp Nou for the first time since 2008.

Mauricio Pellegrino’s men have performed admirably against Barcelona in recent fixtures and are full of confidence after taking a point at the Bernabeu in their season opener.

In other matches, Celta de Vigo and Osasuna, who both lost their opening two fixtures, clash on Saturday.

Champions League qualifiers Malaga will travel to face Real Zaragoza, while Deportivo de La Coruna play Getafe at home.

Mallorca will attempt to continue their unbeaten start at home to Real Sociedad, while Levante meet Espanyol in Valencia.

Elsewhere on Sunday, Rayo Vallecano, one of three sides with six points, will take on Sevilla at home, while Athletic Club play host to Real Valladolid, who also boast a perfect record.

Real Betis and Atletico Madrid, fresh from their UEFA Super Cup outing against Chelsea, will play in Seville on Monday.

Bostock joins Swindon on loan

31 August 2012 11:10

Tottenham midfielder John Bostock has joined League One outfit Swindon on loan until January.

Bostock spent the final two months of last campaign with the Robins as they sealed the League Two title to gain promotion to the third tier.

And the 20-year-old has now returned on a second temporary deal, a move which has delighted the former Crystal Palace youth product.

“I am really happy to be back here,” Bostock told the club’s official website. “I found out earlier today that the move was on and it’s great to have got everything sorted.

“As soon as I heard the deal had been agreed I packed my bags and drove straight down here. The club has made a great start this season and there’s a buzz around the place.

“It’s been at the back of my mind for a while now but I did pre-season with Spurs and am ready to play. I can’t wait to get going and see all the lads again at training on Friday.”

Swindon were busy elsewhere in the market on Thursday, signing 33-year-old Millwall defender Darren Ward on a four-month loan deal.