Berbatov rules out Bulgaria return, says Matthaeus

New Bulgaria coach Lothar Matthaeus admitted on Thursday he has failed in his bid to persuade Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov to come out of retirement to help his country qualify for Euro 2012.

“I have had several conversations with him, but he is not ready to play for Bulgaria again,” Matthaeus told German magazine Kicker.

“He gave me no reasons, but for me the issue is settled for Berbatov and other players can now take their chances.

“It’s like the Germany team before the 2010 World Cup: Ballack got injured so Ozil and Khedira took their chances and are now at Real Madrid.”

The 29-year-old United star Berbatov announced in May that he was ending his international career having scored 48 goals for his country.

Having been beaten 4-0 by England at Wembley last month and then 1-0 at home by minnows Montenegro, Bulgaria are currently bottom of Euro 2012 qualifying Group G and face Wales in Cardiff next Friday.

Bulgaria have not participated in the finals of a major tournament since Euro 2004.

Matthaeus, 49, will be in charge for the first time against the Welsh having taken over as head coach earlier this month.

A former captain of the West German national team and 1990 World Cup winner, Matthaeus was named the first ever FIFA World Player of the Year in 1991.

After ending his career as footballer, the former midfielder coached a range of teams, including Partizan Belgrade, Hungary’s national team and Red Bull Salzburg.

Thu 30 Sep, 2010
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Spurs can beat Inter without me – van der Vaart

Rafael van der Vaart, the Tottenham midfielder, reckons his team-mates can topple Champions League holders Inter Milan without him.

The Dutchman was sent off in his side’s 4-1 home win over FC Twente on Wednesday night and will therefore miss the trip to the San Siro on Wednesday October 20.

“We have a great team, we have quality and a good squad so we don’t have to be nervous,” he said.

“They are going to win for me against Inter Milan.”

It was certainly a night to remember as White Hart Lane hosted a Champions League group game for the first time.

Norwegian referee Terje Hauge and his four assistants awarded Tottenham three penalties. Twente goalkeeper Nikolay Mihaylov saved the first, from van der Vaart, but was beaten by Roman Pavlyuchenko with the other two.

Van der Vaart opened the scoring early in the second half and was sent off with the score at 2-1 after Twente substitute Nacer Chadli had pulled one back.

Gareth Bale netted a late fourth for the 10 men.

“I scored a goal and was sent off – it was a full house,” van der Vaart added.

“I’ve never had a game like this. We did well and deserved to win. Now we have to play against Inter and it will be a great game.”

Twente manager Michel Preud’homme was annoyed so many decisions appeared to have gone Tottenham’s way, especially as the officials allowed play to continue early in the second half when the ball hit Peter Crouch on an arm with the game in the balance.

“At some moments it was a joke,” the Belgian complained but Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp insisted two of the three penalty awards had been correct.

Redknapp argued that Crouch had been wrestled for the first and Bale tripped for the second while a defender’s use of an arm to block a Pavlyuchenko long-ranger had probably been rash.

“I keep seeing too many soft penalties given lately when people kick the ball at someone from close in,” he said of the third penalty.

“That wasn’t so close. I thought the third was soft but the other two were nailed on.”

Tottenham will take a four-point tally with them to Italy, with Rafa Benitez’s side now topping Group A on goal difference after beating Werder Bremen 4-0 in Milan.

Tottenham had taken a point from their first group game, sharing a 2-2 draw in Bremen on a night when Twente and Inter played out the same score-line in the Netherlands.

“After a fantastic point in Bremen it was a great performance to win 4-1, you can’t ask for more than that,” Redknapp added. “If people can’t enjoy that they can’t enjoy anything.”

Redknapp revealed he had been about to substitute van der Vaart before the midfielder picked up his second yellow card of the night for a reckless lunge on Roberto Rosales.

“It wasn’t a malicious challenge,” Redknapp said. “It was a bad forward’s challenge. I’ve seen a lot worse. I had been contemplating taking him off when it happened.”

Thu 30 Sep, 2010
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Adriano considered suicide: mother

The mother of AS Roma forward Adriano has claimed her son wanted to commit suicide during the depths of his depression.

Adriano walked out of Italy a year and a half ago when an Inter Milan player, citing depression as his reason for wanting to return home to Brazil.

But after a season at Flamengo in his home city of Rio de Janeiro, the 28-year-old has come back to Italy with Roma.

And although he has visibly piled on the pounds even since his most lax days in Milan, his mother Dona Rosilda believes his new club can help him complete his recovery.

“The source of his depression has always been the death of his father which he has never overcome,” she told Thursday’s Gazzetta dello Sport.

“Due to his great success many people criticised him without really knowing what was happening to him and that sent him into a downward spiral.

“No-one knows the nature of pain more than those who are suffering from it and probably I didn’t even know how to help him.

“One day, when he was still in Italy, he rang me and said he didn’t want to go on, he wanted to stop playing football.

“He confessed that he was thinking of committing suicide and I told him to react with his heart because nothing is more important than his happiness and that if to obtain it he had to give up football, then no problem.”

Adriano left Inter and returned to the Rio slum where he was born, allegedly in search of some roots and normality to his life.

But his mother claims his acquaintances do more harm than good.

“Adriano was born and bred in the favela. His home has always been in Vila Cruzeiro and unfortunately you can’t choose your friends.

“We argued many times but now I hope he’s understood that there are many bad people there.

“People he thinks are his friends but who only want to take advantage and hurt him because they have their eyes only on money.

“I hope Adriano has learnt from terrible experiences and understood that his relationship with the favela can’t be as it was before.

“Now he’s a new person with his head on his shoulders and he told me he feels good.”

And Ms Rosilda believes that only good can come from his return to Italy.

“His return to Italy has been positive because he already knows the country, he knows what to expect,” she added.

“I know it won’t be easy but now Adriano has the strength to meet and overcome difficulties.”

Thu 30 Sep, 2010
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Benitez better for strikers, says Eto´o

Inter Milan boss Rafael Benitez is better for strikers than his predecessor Jose Mourinho, according to nerazzurri forward Samuel Eto’o.

The Cameroon captain scored a hat-trick in Wednesday’s 4-0 Champions League victory over Werder Bremen to take his tally to a remarkable 11 goals in nine games this season.

It was also the first game in this campaign that he was played through the middle in Benitez’s attacking triumvirate and Eto’o reaped the benefits.

He played there due to an injury to Diego Milito and Eto’o is hoping to get more run-outs through the middle.

“With Mourinho we played on the counter-attack, with Benitez we press more and that’s better for us forwards because we win back the ball higher up the pitch and create more chances,” he told Sky Sport.

“I feel good as a central striker. For a forward it’s important to play close to the goal and not far from it. It’s more complicated for me when playing on the wings.”

Eto’o has had a stunning start to the season, scoring five goals in five league games, four in two Champions League matches as well as bagging a brace in the Italian Supercup, although he failed to hit the net in the European Supercup.

Inter sit joint top of Serie A with Lazio and now top their Champions League group A ahead of Tottenham, whom they play next, on goal difference.

Thu 30 Sep, 2010
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Al-Jazeera W.Cup coverage jammed from Jordan: report

Coverage of this year’s World Cup football finals in South Africa by the Al-Jazeera satellite television was jammed from Jordan, Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported in its Thursday edition.

“Mysterious jamming of TV broadcasts of the summer’s World Cup by the Arabic satellite channel Al-Jazeera has been traced to Jordan, which appears to have retaliated angrily after the collapse of a deal that would have allowed football fans there free access to the matches,” the paper reported.

“Secret documents seen exclusively by the Guardian trace five episodes of jamming definitively to a location near Salt in Jordan, northeast of the capital Amman, confirmed by technical teams using geolocation technology.

“The co-ordinates identified were 32.125N 35.766E. It is accurate to within a range of three to five kilometres (one to three miles).”

Jordanian officials were not immediately available to comment on the reported jamming, which infuriated million of fans who had paid in advance for coverage of the tournament only to receive blank screens, pixelated images or commentary in the wrong languages.

The Guardian said the interference to the broadcasts by the Qatar-based channel over the Nilesat and Arabsat satellites had affected a total of eight games.

“There was speculation that Egypt or Saudi Arabia, both hostile to the channel, were involved, though the network has never named any suspects or gone public with the results of its own investigation,” the paper said.

“Experts say the jamming was unlikely to have been done without the knowledge of the Jordanian authorities. ‘It was a very sophisticated case,’ said one.”

Al-Jazeera had exclusive pay-TV rights to broadcast World Cup matches across the Middle East from North Africa to Iran and charged up to 150 dollars for one-month subscription packages or cards to see the games.

“Jordan’s King Abdullah, a keen football fan, sent a close adviser to negotiate the deal with Al-Jazeera,” the Guardian reported.

“When it collapsed on the eve of the games, one Jordanian official complained that the network’s stance was ‘based on a political agenda and has nothing to do with commercial or any other purposes’,” it added.

The paper quoted sources at Al-Jazeera as saying Abdullah had asked the channel to provide giant television screens in public places where Jordanians could watch the games free. “It refused, saying other Arab countries would expect similarly favourable treatment,” the report said.

Al-Jazeera has revolutionised the Arabic-language media and reporting on the Middle East since its foundation in 1996 but at the expense of offending many Arab governments, including that of Jordan.

Thu 30 Sep, 2010
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Abramovich wants Champions League – Terry

(GSM) – Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has set the Champions League as a major target for the squad this season, according to team captain John Terry.

The Blues have impressed in most of their Champions League campaigns since the dawn of Abramovich’s reign, but the trophy has never been won by the Stamford Bridge club.

Last season, manager Carlo Ancelotti won the Premier League and FA Cup in his first season at the club but the team was knocked out of the Champions League in the first knockout round at the hands of eventual champions Internazionale.

Chelsea beat Marseille 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday evening, and following the match, Terry told reporters: “The message is clear from the start of the season – the owner wants to win everything. With the squad we have he expects to.”

He added: “You can’t prioritise the Champions League or Premier League and put one in front of the other. But the Champions League is the one massive trophy that still eludes us and we’d love
to win that. It is a trophy the owner wants to win and the manager wants to win.

“One reason he brought the manager in is his experience and the amount of times he has won the trophy himself.”

Thu 30 Sep, 2010
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Lucio wants a Bundesliga return

Inter defender Lucio reveals he wants to return to Germany before he ends his career in Brazil.

The Brazilian has become a key player for Inter immediately upon his arrival from Bayern, but he has hinted the Bundesliga fans might see him in action sooner than expected.

“I have spoken with my wife about a return to Bundesliga. When I am 34 and my contract expires, then I want to return to Brazil, but before that I want to play in Bundesliga again. That is my objective,” said Lucio.

The Brazilian left Bayern last summer after five years at the club, with Jose Mourinho jumping at the chance to sign him and he went on to win the treble with Inter, beating his former club in the Champions League final.

[Source: Bild]

Thu 30 Sep, 2010
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City set to sign Israeli wonderkid

Manchester City are on the verge of signing Gai Assulin, who is dubbed one of the hottest prospects in Europe.

The Israeli has already arrived to England and he will sign a contract with the Citizens subject to passing a medical.

The 19-year-old can sign a deal immediately as he is now a free player after canceling his contract with Barcelona in July.

The Israeli forward impressed Roberto Mancini on his previous visit to Eastlands two months ago, but he failed the medical and thus missed out on a contract.

Assulin, however, cannot be registered for the Premier League at this stage so he is likely to be farmed out on loan soon after signing for the Citizens.

[Source: Daily Mirror]

Thu 30 Sep, 2010
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Kevin Kuranyi gives up on Germany

Dynamo Moscow striker Kevin Kuranyi admits that he is unlikely to play for Germany ever again.

Joachim Low has been overlooking former Schalke forward ever since he walked out on the team during the World Cup 2010 qualifier against Russia, even though Kuranyi has been in scintillating form ever since.

“I don’t understand this. If one looks at my career, they will see I have successfully played in various systems and my goals have always done the trick,” said Kuranyi.

“I don’t think I will be called by Low again, otherwise he would have done so long time ago. Realistically, that is not going to happen.”

The towering striker has been in very good form this season, scoring 5 goals in 7 games for his new club, but clearly that hasn’t help him in making Low change his mind.

[Source: Bild]

Thu 30 Sep, 2010
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European round-up

Looking good

La Liga
Valencia are still flying high at the top of the Spanish league and two goals in the first ten minutes from Topal and Soldado were enough to see them win 2-0 at Sporting.

Villarreal are second after they won by the odd goal in five at Malaga. Remarkably, all five goals came in the first thirty-three minutes. Villarreal’s goals came from Rossi and a pair by Santi Cazorla.

Ominously for the rest, however, Barcelona and Real Madrid are sitting third and fourth respectively. Barcelona were impressive as goals from Keita, Xavi and Busquets gave them a 3-1 win at Bilbao whilst Mourinho’s Real Madrid are still struggling to fire on all cylinders and were held to a goalless draw at Levante.

Serie A
I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised that Inter are at the top in Italy. After all, that’s where they’ve been for about five years. Having said that, they are a long way from being unbeatable under Rafa Benitez so far. Ranieri’s Roma showed that with a 1-0 win against them courtesy of an injury-time goal from Vucinic.

Lazio are level with Inter on points now after Zarate gave them a 1-0 win at Chievo.

Chievo and Brescia are a point further back. Brescia also lost, going down 2-1 at Bari.

Milan lead the chasing pack a point further back still. They closed the gap on all but Lazio when another Zlatan Ibrahimovic goal saw them through to a 1-0 home win over Genoa.

Mainz maintained their 100% record in their sixth game to see them three points clear at the top. In what was presumably their toughest test to date they passed with flying colours with Allagui and Szalai giving them a 2-1 win away to Bayern Munich.

Borussia Dortmund and Hannover are their nearest challengers, both having good away wins this weekend.

Bayern Munich languish in ninth place

Ajax lead the way in Holland by two points from PSV and Groningen.

The leaders dropped two points this week but will be pleased to have twice come from behind to earn a 2-2 draw at FC Twente. El Hamdaoui and Enoh found the net for Ajax.

PSV and Groningen missed out on the chance to close the gap as they cancelled each other out in a 1-1 draw between themselves. Toivonen gave PSV the lead in front of their home fans but Groningen equalised two minutes from the end through Gonzalo.

Ligue 1
St Etienne lead the way in France by one point from Rennes.

The leaders had a fine 1-0 win at Lyon with Payet netting their second half winner.

Rennes kept up the pressure as Dalmat and Montano gave them a 2-1 win at Nice.

Toulouse are a point further back in third after they held to a 1-1 draw at home to Lille.

Portuguese League Sagres
Maximum points from six games sees Porto seven points clear of the rest in Portugal with no obvious serious challengers. Can the title race really be over after just six games? Probably. First half goals from Otamendi and Hulk gave the champions elect an easy 2-0 win over Olhanense.

Academica, Braga and Guimaraes are the three teams seven points back. Academica and Braga both picked up 3-1 wins at the weekend. Academica’s being at the expense of Guimaraes.

The increasingly pointless Scottish league now sees Rangers and Celtic eight points clear of the rest after they both won their sixth game out of six.

Rangers came back from 2-0 down at Aberdeen to win 3-2 with goals from Jelavic and two from Miller.

Brown and Loovens scored for Celtic in their 2-1 win over Hibernian.

Greek Super League
No shocks in Greece either as Olympiakos lead the way from Panathinaikos.

Olympiakos beat Asteras Tripoli 3-0 whilst Panathinaikos had a slightly harder time seeing off Panionios 2-1.

Turkish Spor Toto Super Lig
Bursaspor head the Turkish league from Besiktas and Galatasaray.

Bursaspor beat Bucaspor 1-0 on Friday. Besiktas saw of Antalyaspor 2-1 on Saturday whilst Galatasaray made it a hat-trick of wins for the top three with a 3-1 win over Istanbul BB on Sunday.

Thu 30 Sep, 2010
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