Ribery ready to leave Bayern

French winger Franck Ribery admits he may leave Bayern Munich at the end of this season as the Bundesliga side could miss out on a Champions League spot for next season.

Ribery has been linked with Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Juventus and Liverpool in recent months.

He said: “It would be difficult for me to stay if we do not reach this goal.

“It is why the club must, at all cost, finish at least in second place.

“We want to win the league and it is still possible.

“But the priority of the club and of the coach is to make sure we finish at least in second place to qualify for the Champions League.”

[Source: The Sun]

Thu 30 April, 2009
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Derbyshire wants Greece stay

Blackburn striker Matt Derbyshire is keen on making his loan move to Greek side Olympiacos permanent.

The 23-year-old joined Olympiacos on loan in January and admits he is unsure over his future.

“It’s been the most fantastic experience,” he told the Daily Mail.

“How many English players have gone abroad to play for a massive club like this? I jumped at the chance.

“I’m really happy with how everything’s gone. I’ve scored six goals and hopefully I can help us win the cup.

“I could be going home with two medals. The last time I won anything was in Sunday League!”

He added: “I’ve had people coming up to me in the street, saying they’d love me to stay.

“I’d be happy to, but we’ll see what happens.

“If I don’t go back, I’ll never forget their fans. I don’t think you’ll see fans like these anywhere in the world.”

[Source: The Daily Mail]

Thu 30 April, 2009
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Calderon backs Barcelona to win the Champions League

Former Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon has revealed that he would like Barcelona to win the Champions League this season.

Calderon has a good relationship with Joan Laporta, and feels the Barcelona president was treated unfairly by his critics last year.

“I think it would be great if Barca lift the European Cup in Rome. Whenever a Spanish team plays I support that team,” Calderon told RAC-1.

“I keep in contact with [Laporta] and when they beat Lyon and Bayern [Munich] we sent various messages to each other. I would like to see them win the Champions League.”

“They treated him unfairly and that has been shown clearly. Therefore, he deserves what he is achieving now,” he added.

[Source: RAC-1]

Thu 30 April, 2009
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Lippi rules out Juventus return

Italy coach Marcello Lippi on Thursday dismissed speculation he would return to Juventus after next year’s World Cup in South Africa.

Lippi, who guided Italy to World Cup glory in Germany three years ago, has a contract with the Italian Football Association until the end of the next tournament.

But the coach who led Juve to five league titles and a Champions League during two previous spells at the club does not want to retrace his steps.

“I’m not going back to Juventus, neither as coach nor as a technical director, have I made myself clear,” he said during a sporting press congress in Milan.

“Whatever anyone says, it’s not true, I’m not going back to Juve.

“The reality is this and this alone … the only truth is that I went to lunch with (Juve general manager ) Blanc just as I go to lunch with (AC Milan vice-president Adriano) Galliani, with the Lazio president (Claudio Lotito) and with (AS Roma general manager) Bruno Conti.

“I’m the coach of the national team and I’m thinking exclusively about that.”

Thu 30 April, 2009
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France star Ribery threatens to quit Bayern

Franck Ribery on Thursday threatened to quit German giants Bayern Munich unless they qualify for the Champions League next season as the defending Bundesliga champions struggle to defend their title.

Bayern are third in the German league, three points behind leaders Wolfsburg with five games remaining, and must finish in the top two to be guaranteed a Champions League place next season.

A third place finish would mean they would have to play the qualification rounds and French midfielder Ribery says failure to reach the top tier of European domestic competition would mean he would be looking to leave.

“It would be surely difficult for me to remain, if this goal is not achieved,” Ribery told L’Equipe.

Ribery, who is under contract at Bayern until 2011, has already made no secret of his desire to play for Barcelona and dropped several hints when the Spanish giants dumped Munich out of the Champions League quarter-finals.

Bayern sacked coach Jurgen Klinsmann on Monday with Jupp Heynckes named as caretaker coach for the remaining five league games and Ribery says he wants a meeting with Munich’s bosses to discuss the situation.

Heynckes first game in charge is at Borussia Moenchengladbach on Saturday, but Ribery is banned having been sent off for a second yellow card in last Saturday’s 1-0 defeat by Schalke.

And Ribery says whoever is recruited for next season as the new Bayern coach will be irrelevant to him if the team fail to reach the Champions League.

“The name of the new coach does not play a role in my thinking,” said the 26-year-old who has already been linked to a host of top European clubs.

“We just want to finish the season and then see where we stand.

“We have five games left and we have to give everything.

“The minimum target is a top-two place.”

Thu 30 April, 2009
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Carew sees Villa as future home

Norway striker John Carew has played down speculation linking him with a summer move to Werder Bremen or Galatasaray and insisted he is happy to stay at Aston Villa.

The giant forward has been a frequent mover in his career but, after just over two years at Villa, he insists he is settled in Birmingham.

“I am very happy here,” Carew said. “I don’t want to leave this club. I love being here and everything about it – the fans, the players, everyone.”

Villa is the seventh professional club Carew has represented in a career that has featured spells at Valencia, Roma and Lyon, but the 29-year-old says his wandering days are over.

“I see no reason why I should leave,” he said. “I am enjoying my football and I am happy to be contributing towards the cause and for the good of Aston Villa.”

Villa boss Martin O’Neill stressed that the club regarded Carew as a valuable asset, despite his similarity in style to Emile Heskey, bought for 3.5 million pounds in January while Carew was injured.

O’Neill said: “Has Carew got a future here? Yes. Is he happy here? Yes. The crowd love him and he responds to that.”

Thu 30 April, 2009
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UEFA Champions League semi-final: Manchester United 1-0 Arsenal

After Tuesday night’s bore draw between Barcelona and Chelsea, it was the turn of Manchester United and Arsenal to try to establish a first leg advantage in the Champions League semi-finals.

On the positive side, there was every chance that both teams might actually try to win the game and therefore there was very real hope that we might see a more decent game at Old Trafford than we had done at the Camp Nou.

Injured

Manchester United were without the injured Gary Neville and Sir Alex Ferguson chose John O’Shea to play at right back. He went with a midfield of Carrick, Anderson and Fletcher and chose Carlos Tevez up front rather than Dimitar Berbatov.

Arsenal were without the injured Gael Clichy and Robin van Persie as well as the ineligible Andrey Arshavin. Mikael Silvestre and Kieran Gibbs both played despite being doubts earlier in the day. Adabayor took his place in the Arsenal frontline.

Sir Alex was expecting a tough battle and knew that it was crucial not to concede an away goal,

“There will be more vigilance in terms of an awareness from both teams in not losing a goal, particularly at your own ground. That will be the key. We need to win without conceding a goal. I’d be delighted to win 1-0 and take that to the Emirates. We have got enough freshness in the team now. I think that period when we were playing quite a few of games in a short space of time has changed a little bit for us. Having four days’ rest before games is certainly helping us. You saw the energy levels in the second half against Tottenham so there is nothing wrong with the energy. That augurs well for the game but Arsenal are fresh as well so it will be a real tussle.”

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was also looking forward to a great clash and was also full of confidence,

“The modern rules in Europe encourage the home team to be cautious and the away team to be audacious. That’s why I believe to score an away goal will be very important for us. Let’s not focus on any weakness of Manchester United but let’s focus on our strengths and the way we want to play. What I want is my team to play with belief and certainty as well as a desire to score goals. We are on a good run and we as a team believe that we go from strength-to-strength and that is very important during this period of the season. That is why we have enough belief that we can deliver something special.”

So, did we get a better game than the night before, and which of the manager’s was right to be confident?

Well, we definitely had a better game, but once again, neither team will be too disappointed with the result.

The first couple of minutes saw Rooney have a header brilliantly saved by Almunia and a cross shot from Ronaldo fly across the face of the Arsenal goal.

Dominant

United were totally dominant and it came as no surprise at all when they took the lead on seventeen minutes. Arsenal failed to clear a corner and good work from Carrick saw the ball fall at the feet of O’Shea who rifled the ball home.

It continued to be one-way traffic and Almunia was making a strong claim for man of the match with a string of fine saves, most notably from Ronaldo and Tevez.

Foothold

Slowly but surely Arsenal gradually established a foothold in the game and for the last fifteen minutes of the half they had the lion’s share of possession without creating a worthwhile chance.

Half-time came with everyone wondering if United would rue not making the most of their early dominance.

Chance

The second half pretty much followed the pattern of the first, with United creating the odd chance and Edwin van der Saar wondering whether he should have paid for his ticket like all the other spectators.

Cristiano Ronaldo rattled the Arsenal bar with a strike that may have been even better than the one he scored in Porto and substitute Ryan Giggs, making his 800th appearance, put the ball in the Arsenal net from an offside position.

Superb

Bendtner headed high and wide with Arsenal’s best/only chance, and only a superb defensive header from Silvestre stopped Berbatov doubling United’s lead from a Giggs cross.

At the final whistle both camps will have been reasonably pleased. United kept a clean sheet and take a goal lead to the Emirates but Arsenal will know they were fortunate to only lose 1-0. They will also know that they can’t play this badly again in the second leg.

Advantage

Halfway through the semi-finals we are no closer to knowing who will be going to Rome. Maybe the betting might just be on a repeat of last year’s final with Chelsea and Manchester United holding a very slight advantage.

Thu 30 April, 2009
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Ryan Giggs plays 800th match for Manchester United

Welsh midfielder Ryan Giggs reached yet another milestone in his already impressive career, playing his 800th match for reigning European champions Manchester United this Wednesday.

Giggs started on the bench but was brought on in the second half of the Champions League semi final clash with Arsenal, at Old Trafford.

The Welshman started his career at Manchester City in 1985 but joined local rivals United two years later. With the Red Devils, Giggs would end up winning one trophy after the other.

The player formed a key part of the United teams that won the Champions League in 1999 and 2008, and helped the English giants to no less than ten domestic titles.

In February, Giggs and United agreed to yet another contract extension, keeping the player at the club until the end of next season.

Thu 30 April, 2009
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AZ Alkmaar sign Swedish midfielder

Newly crowned Dutch champions AZ Alkmaar have made their first signing for next season, securing the services of Swedish midfielder Pontus Wernbloom.

“It feels like a step I have to take in my career, although I will miss the love of the fans and all the people at IFK Göteborg,” Wernbloom said on the official website of the Swedish club.

The 22-year-old, born in Kungälv, joined IFK Göteborg in 2004 and soon worked his way up at the club. Since his promotion to the club’s first team in 2005, the player scored 43 goals in 138 games.

Wernbloom also earned two caps with the Swedish national team, making his debut against Ecuador on January 18th.

Thu 30 April, 2009
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Matthäus to leave Maccabi Netanya at end of season

German manager Lothar Matthäus will have to leave Maccabi Netanya at the end of this season. The Israeli club is in financial trouble and no longer able to afford the coach.

“Maccabi Netanya proposed to terminate our contact, which was set to end in 2010, as result of the economic recession. I agreed. It’s a shame because I would have liked to stay longer,” Matthäus commented.

The former midfielder and World Cup winner joined Maccabi at the start of the season after being without a club for almost one year. In 2007, the German was fired from Red Bull Salzburg despite co-leading the team to the Austrian title.

Maccabi are currently in fourth position in the Israel Ligat Al, nine points behind leaders Maccabi Haifa.

Thu 30 April, 2009
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