Guardiola learned from me, claims La Volpe

Controversial Atlante boss Ricardo La Volpe wasted no time in giving local press fodder in only his first week training the Argentine side.

La Volpe referred to Pep Guardiola as a person with whom his influence can be seen to this day, with the Spaniard reportedly taking note of Mexico’s style explicitly during the 2005 Confederations Cup, where El Tri excelled against world powers.

“I think that Pep saw something in my team and what it did in the Confederations Cup, where Mexico came out to play against Brazil and Argentina, and that was a philosophy that he later made better or enriched with details that now I have to learn,” La Volpe said.

“Being a football manager is like any other profession, like a doctor or a lawyer, you have to keep learning and updating your standards to modern practices.”

La Volpe managed Mexico from 2003 to 2006, winning the 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup that led the country to the Confederations Cup two years later.

Later, La Volpe guided the team to the World Cup in Germany, getting rave reviews in the process from many outside observers, including Guardiola.

In his 2006 World Cup blog for Spanish newspaper El Pais, Guardiola praised La Volpe’s style of play, which obliges defenders to start the team’s attack and come out with the ball at their feet.

“I was told in my time in Mexico that La Volpe makes defenders train for 30 minutes specifically for this purpose, to come out playing with the ball at their feet, over and over again,” Guardiola wrote.

“If they fail, he makes them stop and start over. He yells, corrects and restarts. Again and again, hundreds of times until his defenders understand themselves as if they were lovers.”

Guardiola played in Mexico for Dorados de Sinaloa in 2006 before retiring. He also went to managing school in the country, before returning to Spain to start his post-playing career.

Thu 31 May, 2012
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Kobiashvili banned for season

Hertha Berlin midfielder Levan Kobiashvili has received a one-year ban for striking referee Wolfgang Stark.

The German Football Association (DFB) has suspended Kobiashvili for a season, after he struck Stark following the capital side’s relegation play-off with Fortuna Dusseldorf.

The tempestuous second-leg encounter on May 15 finished 2-2, with the second-tier outfit winning the tie 4-3 on aggregate to pip Hertha to a place in the Bundesliga next term.

However, shortly after the final whistle, unsavoury scenes ensued on the pitch, with match official Stark accusing Kobiashvili of punching him on the back of the head and causing him to fall down a flight of stairs.

A statement on the DFB’s website indicated that Kobiashvili, who can appeal the decision, will not be eligible as of May 16 for 12 months.

The Georgian’s team-mates Christian Lell, Thomas Kraft and Andre Mijatovic have also been dealt suspensions for their part in the fracas which followed the fixture.

Lell is now set to miss the first six games of next season for violent conduct against an opponent and for insulting the referee, while Hertha colleagues Kraft and Mijatovic will miss five and four games respectively for their involvement in the melee.

All have the right to appeal the sanctions imposed on them and request individual hearings.

Thu 31 May, 2012
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Buffon payments under investigation

The Guardia di Finanza has revealed that payments made by Italy captain Gianluigi Buffon to a bookmaker are being investigated.

According to a document released by Italy’s financial law enforcement agency, the Juventus goalkeeper made out 14 cheques to a Parma-based tobacconist, which also serves as a betting shop, over a nine-month spell.

The report claimed that Buffon handed over approximately 1.5 million euros to the owner.

While gambling on sporting events is legal, Buffon, as a member of the Italian Football Federation, is forbidden from placing wagers on any games sanctioned by the FIGC, FIFA or UEFA.

However, it is not yet known whether any of the money was for gambling purposes, or if indeed the former Parma player’s alleged bets were placed upon other sports, which he is entitled to do.

The Azzurri star’s lawyer has stated that the cheques were merely ‘transfers designed to protect Buffon’s personal assets’.

The Guardia di Finanza investigation, which is being carried out by the Turin Prosecutor, is not related to the Cremona-led enquiry into match-fixing that earlier this week resulted in Italy left-back Domenico Criscito having his room searched by police.

The news, though, comes in the wake of Buffon’s criticism of the Italian press for what he believed was sensationalist coverage of the Scommessopoli scandal.

Thu 31 May, 2012
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Dawson down on Champions League absence

Tottenham defender Michael Dawson has spoken of his frustration about missing out on Champions League football next season.

Despite finishing in the top four, Chelsea’s victory against Bayern Munich in the competition’s final means Spurs will now have to settle for a place in the Europa League next term.

However, the former Nottingham Forest centre-back was proud of how the north Londoners performed and does not believe that they should be overly criticised.

He told Hotspur Magazine: “We finished in the top four and you couldn’t ask for much more.

“That was our aim at the start of the season and we achieved that.

“True, we were disappointed to be 10 points clear in third place and then to have that steadily eroded and overtaken.

“But we won a lot of tough games and picked ourselves up again after our disappointing spell to really make it start happening for us again, so we can’t be too hard on ourselves.

“We played some of the best football in the Premier League at times and that deserves respect.”

Dawson struggled for fitness at the start of last season with an Achilles injury, and only managed to make four appearances in the league before ankle ligament damage in March ruled him out for the remainder of the campaign.

But, the defender is already turning his attention to helping his team’s campaign next season.

He added: “I was back in action before Christmas and feeling fit and fantastic, but then in March I was unlucky again.

“The injury itself was just a freak. It was just one of those things that happen – there’s nothing you can do about it – but I knew as soon as it happened that it was serious.

“I tried to get up again and when I failed I realised I was in trouble. I knew straight away that England would not be an issue for me this summer.

“Now all I want to concentrate on is getting myself fully fit because I’m already looking forward to pre-season.”

Thu 31 May, 2012
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Cologne lose Weiser to Bayern

Bayern Munich have reportedly completed the signing of Mitchell Weiser from Cologne.

The Bavarian giants have paid 500,000 euros for the versatile 18-year-old, who can play on either the wing, in midfield or at full-back, according to Bild.

Although Weiser has been linked with Bayer Leverkusen in recent months, Weiser had publicly expressed his preference to join Bayern.

It was initially thought that Champions League runners-up might be willing to wait until next off-season in order to sign the Germany Under-19 international for free, but Weiser submitted a transfer request on Wednesday and his move to the Allianz Arena looks set to be confirmed in the coming days.

The teenager, who is a product of Cologne’s youth system, first came to prominence with a string of scintillating displays for his country at last year’s Under-17 World Cup.

Thu 31 May, 2012
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Lampard ruled out of Euro 2012

England midfielder Frank Lampard has been ruled out of Euro 2012 after picking up a thigh injury in training on Wednesday.

He will be replaced in the squad by Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson.

Lampard had been set to feature in his fourth major tournament this summer although he will follow Gareth Barry out of England’s training camp after being ruled out of the tournament with injury.

The 33-year-old midfielder, who has 90 caps to his name, was examined by doctors on Thursday and on medical advice England manager Roy Hodgson has been forced to replace the experienced star.

Hodgson is disappointed to lose two of his two experienced players so close to the tournament and has paid tribute to the contribution that Lampard made in qualifying England for Euro 2012.

“It’s a huge blow for the team, especially coming after the loss of another senior player in Gareth Barry. The fact that the doctor cannot guarantee Frank could take part in any of the group matches means we have to replace him in the central midfield area,” he said.

“Apart from it being a huge blow to me and the team, I’m especially disappointed for Frank himself. He has been in very good form and was looking forward to the tournament. He made a huge contribution towards us qualifying for the Euros so it is cruel to be forced out through injury just before the tournament.”

England’s last warm-up game will be against Belgium on June 2 ahead of the opening fixture of the group games against France on June 11.

Thu 31 May, 2012
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O´Shea not fit for Hungary

Giovanni Trapattoni has admitted that John O’Shea could miss the Republic of Ireland’s final Euro 2012 warm-up fixture against Hungary.

The Sunderland defender took part in a practice match at the squad’s training base in Borga a Buggiano on Thursday but is still feeling the effects of an ankle problem ahead of their clash on Monday.

Trapattoni intends to field his strongest starting line-up against the Hungarians but admitted after the session that O’Shea is only ’90 per cent’ likely to feature.

“For him, the game is still the test,” the Italian manager said.

Meanwhile, Trapattoni defended his handling of Kevin Foley’s omission from the final squad for Poland and Ukraine, but admitted that he had not been aware of just how upset the Wolves man was after learning that he had been replaced by Paul McShane.

“I would have said (he was) disappointed but I was too,” Trapattoni said.

“If you think that 50 kilometres from here there is another national team (Italy) and they had 32 players. Think about nine players having to go back.

“But we must be responsible for the team, for the country. We are professionals, not idiots. We decide which players we need.”

Ireland will kick off their European Championship campaign against Croatia on June 10 before tackling defending champions Spain and Italy.

Thu 31 May, 2012
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Atletico pursue Schalke´s Jurado

Atletico Madrid are attempting to nab a deal for Jose Manuel Jurado after tabling a bid of five million euros for the Schalke midfielder.

The capital outfit are desperate to land a new attacking midfielder as loanee Diego is due to return to parent club Wolfsburg on July 1 and there is no sign of a permanent deal being agreed upon.

However, AS has claimed that Atletico will not pursue negotiations with the German side and instead have looked closer to home for an alternative in the form of ex-player Jurado.

The 25-year-old originally left the Vicente Calderon in 2010 to join Schalke for 13m euros and enjoyed a productive debut campaign, as he helped them into the semi-finals of the Champions League.

However, his season has been disappointing, having failed to score in just 18 Bundesliga appearances, and he is being tipped to be off-loaded by Schalke in the transfer window.

Jurado, who is under contract with Schalke until 2014, has already ruled out a move to the Chinese Super League or to Greek champions Olympiakos, paving the way for a possible return to Atleti.

It is also believed that he would be willing to take a considerable pay cut in order to rejoin the club he represented between 2006 and 2010.

Thu 31 May, 2012
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Neville backs England break schedule

Former England defender Gary Neville has praised Roy Hodgson for giving his players a proper break before Euro 2012.

Hodgson – who has previously managed Switzerland and Finland – was appointed as England’s new manager on May 1, replacing Fabio Capello.

With expectations low after a series of failures at major tournaments, Neville believes the fact Hodgson has given the players a lengthy rest ahead of Euro 2012 should be praised.

“One thing that Roy Hodgson has done – it’s to be commended and no manager has ever done (it) – is given the players a longer break at the end of the season than any manager has ever given them,” Neville said.

“That’s being respectful of the fact that they need a break at the end of a long season. They’ve had 10 days’ minimum, some of them. To have two weeks’ rest is something that is to be commended and something that’s brave.

“He’s an experienced manager who has taken teams to tournaments before and understands the fact that you need to rest players.

“You can’t just keep grinding them into the floor, training them every single day. And some people do that.”

Neville also urged the young players in the England squad for Euro 2012 to make the most of their opportunity in Poland and Ukraine.

“Enjoy it and take a chance – and make a name for yourself,” said Neville.

“We’ve seen many players do that over the years. And I think that they’re the main things, really: listen, learn, work hard, go for it, be free, express yourself, do what you’ve been doing to get you into this position in the first place.

“You’ve got the most incredible opportunity, where the whole world is watching you go and make a name.”

England open their campaign Euro 2012 with a Group D meeting against France on June 11 in Donetsk.

Midfielder Frank Lampard is in doubt for the tournament after injuring his thigh in training on Wednesday.

Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson is on standby to replace the Chelsea man if he doesn’t recover.

Thu 31 May, 2012
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Zabaleta encourages Argentine triumvirate

Argentina full-back Pablo Zabaleta has backed Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero to lead the line for their upcoming matches.

Coach Alejandro Sabella has tended to play only two of the three forwards so far in his tenure, although the trio featured in the second half of November’s World Cup qualifier against Colombia to devastating effect as Argentina turned around a one-goal deficit to win 2-1 in Barranquilla.

The starting XI for Saturday’s clash with Ecuador is still to be confirmed, but all three have been placed together in training to create an ambitious 4-3-3 scheme.

Speaking to Ole on Thursday, Manchester City defender Zabaleta backed his club companion Aguero to join the Barcelona and Real Madrid stars in attack, stating that it was the best way to ensure the Argentines showed their true potential.

“Having Leo (Messi), Pipa (Higuain) and Kun (Aguero) gives you a massive confidence boost. Our most powerful part of the team is up front, it is the strongest point and I hope they will get the chances and put them away,” Zabaleta said.

The 27-year-old Buenos Aires native said the perceived lack of decent wide defenders in Argentine football was a common problem across all teams.

“Brazil are the greatest creators of full-backs in the world, nobody has a chance of comparing to them. They always have four or five options down each flank and all with brilliant quality,” he said.

Argentina face Ecuador in their fifth World Cup qualifier on Saturday June 2, before meeting Brazil in a friendly encounter seven days later.

Thu 31 May, 2012
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