Clemente sings Song´s praises

15 August 2012 12:20

Javier Clemente has praised Arsenal midfielder Alex Song and feels the Cameroon international is unlike any other player.

The 24-year-old has been linked with a move to Barcelona, and his former international coach has plenty of positive words about Song, even though he is not convinced with the midfielder’s defensive abilities.

“He has a very impressive physique and is a great guy. He is a very good player and is unlike any other player,” Clemente told RAC-1.

“Song is a much better player in attack than he is defensively, though.”

Clemente worked with Song during his spell in charge of Cameroon from August 2010 until October 2011. The powerful midfielder has a contract with Arsenal until the end of the 2014/15 season.

Ribery, Benzema to face underage prostitution trial

15 August 2012 10:54

French football stars Karim Benzema and Franck Ribery are to face trial for allegedly soliciting an underage prostitute.

The Real Madrid striker and Bayern Munich winger were first questioned two years ago over allegations that they had paid for sexual encounters with Zahia Dehar, who was under the age of 18 at the time.

The scandal, which stemmed from a police investigation into a prostitution ring based around a Paris nightclub, rocked French football and destabilised Les Bleus ahead of their disastrous 2010 World Cup campaign.

The pair are now set to face the charges along with six others after judicial papers were submitted by investigating magistrate Andre Dando this week.

“Some of the defendants will be prosecuted for ‘aggravated pimping,’ although I cannot disclose which ones at this time,” he told CNN.

“The trial is months away and will be well into 2013, I expect.”

Dehar has accused Benzema of paying for sex with her in 2008 when she was 16, and told investigators that Ribery flew her to Munich as a ‘birthday present for himself’ the following year.

The Paris state prosecutor has previously called for the charges to be dropped on the grounds that the players did not know that Dehar was underage, however, investigators have since decided to take it to trial.

If found guilty, Ribery and Benzema could face a three-year jail term.

Lawyers for both players maintain their clients’ innocence.

Sylvain Cormier, the legal counsel for Benzema, told Le Parisien: “There is other material in the record to prove the innocence of my client. I feel it pays to be young and famous.”

Ribery’s solicitor, Sophie Bottai, told the same publication: “This decision is unjust and also surprising in view of folder contents and submissions of the prosecution. But I remain confident for the rest of the procedure.”

France coach Didier Deschamps has included both players in France’s squad to face Uruguay on Wednesday.

Deschamps said: “It is in the court’s hands. It will not change my demands about players’ behaviour on and off the pitch with respect to the French team.”

Ranieri: I coached Inter ´at the wrong moment´

15 August 2012 10:46

Claudio Ranieri feels his spells at Roma and Inter were unsuccessful because he arrived at the Serie A sides when they were past their best.

The current Monaco boss was in charge of Roma between 2009 and 2011, before coaching the Nerazzurri from 2011 until 2012.

Ranieri left both clubs halfway through the season, though, following a string of poor results, and he believes it was a matter of wrong club at the wrong time on both occasions.

“I have coached a number of big clubs, but always at the wrong moment. I was there either too soon or too late,” Ranieri told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“No-one even knew Valencia when I arrived in Spain, while Chelsea made a name for themselves after making the Champions League semi-finals.

“I took charge of Juventus when they came out of Serie B. Roma, however, were at the end their cycle when I coached them, as were Inter.”

Ranieri’s Monaco currently sit second on the Ligue 2 table with two wins and a draw after three games.

Khedira defends ´competent´ Loew

15 August 2012 09:51

Sami Khedira has dismissed claims that Joachim Loew is losing the confidence of the Germany squad ahead of Wednesday’s friendly with Argentina.

The 52-year-old’s decision to field Toni Kroos as an auxiliary central midfielder in the 2-1 Euro 2012 semi-final loss to Italy was greeted with widespread criticism in his homeland.

But the Real Madrid midfielder insists the former Stuttgart boss has the trust of all of his players and believes that they should have beaten Cesare Prandelli’s side.

“We are 100 percent confident in him,” Khedira said. “We have no doubt because he is a competent coach.

“A trainer proves his worth by making risky decisions and no-one can blame him for his starting line-up in the semi-final of the European Championship. We, the players, were the ones on the pitch.

“We had many chances to score before the Italians got their goal and should also not have been 2-0 down. We didn’t do what we did against Greece in the quarter-final against Italy.”

Goalkeeper Tim Wiese added his support to Loew, despite being dropped for the clash against Argentina.

The 30-year-old has been a mainstay in the national fold over recent years, despite some heavily-criticised performances.

He went on to make the squad for Euro 2012, but has since been dropped by Loew, who has made it clear that he will favour Germany’s next generation in future squads.

Despite that, Wiese has jumped to the coach’s defence.

“It was sad (that Germany were eliminated), because no-one had expected it. We actually had a great team, but against the Italians, we were too nice,” the Hoffenheim keeper said.

“I could not understand the fuss surrounding him. It’s amazing how quickly you will be praised highly in Germany, before being knocked down again. It’s incredible.”

Wiese moved to Hoffenheim this summer after spending seven years at Werder Bremen, where he won the DFB-Pokal in 2009.

Aguero eyes more success at City

15 August 2012 09:48

Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero is confident the club can build on last season’s Premier League title triumph.

Roberto Mancini’s side got their season off to a positive start with a 3-2 victory over Chelsea in the Community Shield and the 24-year old hopes that they can begin the top-flight fixture list in similar fashion.

Aguero believes that City are only getting better due to the increased understanding developing between the club’s players on the pitch.

“We’ve made a nice start and this week we have our first game,” Aguero told The Sun.

“We’ve started off a step above the others and I hope to God we can make it stay like that. We have a phenomenal team and we are really starting to understand each other well.

“We’ll try to start like last season and do things well. I pray we can do it again. I’m not going to say it’s going to be easy but we have the team to do it.”

The former Atletico Madrid man made an instant impact after arriving in England last summer, notching 30 goals in his debut season.

That tally included the strike that dramatically crowned City champions, but Aguero, while acknowledging the importance of the goal, was keen to focus on the club’s next trophy.

“I understood the next day what I had done against QPR,” he said.

“But that’s gone now and I hope City can win more.”