Pre-Season Friendly: Houston Dynamo 2 Stoke City 0

25 July 2013 05:50

Stoke have lost their opening game of the 2013/14 pre-season, going down 2-0 to Major League Soccer outfit, Houston Dynamo.

A pair of Englishman scored for Houston as they stunned their English Premier League opposition at BBVA Compass Stadium, with midfielder Andrew Driver curling a free-kick home in the 10th minute, while Giles Barnes capped off Dynamo’s victory with an 88th-minute strike.

New Stoke manager Mark Hughes started former Dynamo defender Geoff Cameron as part of the visitors’ back four, while former PSV Eindhoven left-back Erik Pieters was handed a debut for the Premier League club.

Houston hit the front in the 10th minute after Ricardo Clark was fouled 25 yards from goal and Driver stepped up, curling a free-kick over the wall and out of reach of Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.

In an impressive performance, Houston wrapped up victory with two minutes remaining when Corey Ashe picked out Barnes, who slotted the ball home from a tight angle.

Stoke will continue their pre-season trip to the USA with a friendly against FC Dallas on Saturday.

Baup worried about strike power

25 July 2013 03:30

Marseille coach Elie Baup is concerned about his team’s lack of cutting edge up front following their 1-0 friendly win over Lens.

Senegal winger Modou Sougou scored the only goal of the game on Wednesday, which prompted Baup to bemoan Marseille’s lack of cutting edge up front.

In the last four months of the 2012/13 Ligue 1 season, Marseille did not score more than two goals in a game and were held scoreless in seven of their 16 matches.

Baup does not want to continue that trend in the upcoming campaign.

“It was a tough game, our opponent was good, it was like a league game,” Baup said.

“It was important that everyone played at least 45 minutes.

“I guess we had great possession in the first half, unfortunately we didn’t score enough.

“We had chances but we scored just one goal.”

Wednesday’s win was Marseille’s first of pre-season after a 1-1 draw against Swiss club Sion and a 3-0 loss to Porto.

But despite breaking through for a victory, Baup has played down the importance of results before the competitive action begins.

“I think that the result is not very important during the pre-season,” Baup said.

“From the beginning, our objective is to have a good possession and to destabilise the opponent,” Baup said.

“But it’s true that at some stages we were in a difficult situation, but we are going to work on it.

“But as I said the most important thing to me is when we have the ball and what we do with it.”

Hummels ready for early Bayern test

25 July 2013 01:48

Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels has targeted a breakthrough win over archrivals Bayern Munich in Saturday’s Super Cup final.

Bayern, who won the UEFA Champions League, Bundesliga and DFB Pokal last season, have not lost in five games against Dortmund, and Hummels wants to end that streak at Signal Iduna Park on Saturday.

Dortmund will enter the Super Cup final on the back of a 1-0 loss to Borussia Moenchengladbach last week but, having won their four other pre-season friendlies, Hummels believes the club are ready to take on Bayern, who are undefeated in pre-season.

“We are totally looking forward to the game because we can test our position against Bayern, who are playing very well as far as we can see,” Hummels said.

“That’s why we are looking forward to the match, because from the level of play and atmosphere it must be an exciting one.

“We hope to win because we have lost the last two meetings.

“The importance of the Super Cup is increasing and we hope not to lose on Saturday.”

Dortmund have played in the past two German Super Cup finals, losing both away from home, but their general manager Michael Zorc believes a full house at Signal Iduna Park could prove the difference against Bayern.

“The last two times we had to play away, so I am glad that we play at home in the Signal Iduna Park against Bayern Munich,” Zorc said.

“I think the two best teams of the last years are competing, the interest is massive, I think we sold 79,000 tickets so far…the weather will be good and I am looking forward to a good game and we fight for the first title (of the season).”

Badstuber: Bayern up for Super Cup

25 July 2013 01:26

Bayern Munich defender Holger Badstuber has said his team will have plenty of motivation heading into Saturday’s German Super Cup final.

Having won the first treble in German football history last season, taking out the Bundesliga, DFB Pokal and Champions League, Bayern could perhaps be forgiven for taking it easy against Borussia Dortmund in the traditional curtain-raiser of the new season.

But Bayern’s sporting director Matthias Sammer has urged the Bavarian club to set a winning tone in Dortmund, while Badstuber has argued any title is worth winning.

“(New head coach Pep Guardiola) is working meticulously and the mood within the team is good,” Badstuber said.

“They are focused and work with joy and fun.

“They are still hungry for titles and Saturday we have a new opportunity to get a title.

“I think you don’t have to motivate any player further than this.”

The Super Cup pits the reigning Bundesliga and DFB Pokal winners against each other in a one-off match and with Bayern having won both those titles in 2012/13, Dortmund will provide the opposition on Saturday after they finished second in the league.

Dortmund and Bayern have dominated German football over the past three seasons and Sammer believes it is crucial his club get some early momentum over their main rivals for the 2013/14 Bundesliga.

“Saturday is a final, a final in Dortmund that will be hard to play,” Sammer said.

“We want to win, we want to be successful and start positively for the coming season but Dortmund wants to do the same.

“I am looking forward to a good game.

“I think that it will be good advertisement for German football with two top teams competing and I hope that we can show what we just started recently.”

Bayern will head into the Super Cup final after a 2-0 victory over Guardiola’s former club, Barcelona, on Wednesday.

Philipp Lahm and Mario Mandzukic scored the goals for Bayern in Munich, while ex-Barcelona midfielder Thiago Alcantara started for the hosts.

Messi: I had no part in Martino appointment

24 July 2013 23:52

Lionel Messi has insisted he had no influence on the decision to appoint Gerardo Martino as new Barcelona manager.

Martino was named as Tito Vilanova’s successor on Monday and received a glowing recommendation from the Argentina international.

The former Paraguay coach had been in charge of Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina – the club Messi supported as a boy – and arrives at the La Liga champions on the back of a title win in his homeland.

However, Messi has quashed speculation that Martino was appointed on his say-so, but added that he supports the decision to bring him to the Camp Nou.

“I had nothing to do with Martino’s signing,” he said, following Barcelona’s 2-0 pre-season defeat to Bayern Munich on Wednesday. “It was down to president Rosell and the club.

“I said before that I thought he (Martino) was a good coach, but I do not have anything to do with this (his appointment).

“I do not know him personally, I’ve never met him. Not him nor Luis Enrique, the other one they’ve been talking about.

“I think he’s a good signing, he showed at Newell’s and with Paraguay what he’s capable of. Hopefully he’ll be good for us.”