Sunderland launch Sessegnon appeal

Sunderland have appealed against Stephane Sessegnon’s red card in their defeat at Aston Villa.

The 28-year-old was dismissed for a challenge on Villa midfielder Yacouba Sylla midway through the second half of the crucial relegation clash, which Paul Lambert’s side went on to win 6-1.

Sessegnon now faces a three-match ban which would keep him out for the rest of Sunderland’s relegation run-in, however the club have opted to appeal on the grounds that the Benin international’s dismissal was unfair.
Speaking after the game, manager Paolo Di Canio confirmed their intention to attempt to have the decision overturned.
“There was not a straight leg…it is not a bad challenge,” he told the club’s official website.
“We saw the clip straight away in the dressing room. There was no intention to damage the opponent, so we are going to appeal.”
Tue 30 April, 2013
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Heynckes hoping for first-leg repeat

Jupp Heynckes has encouraged Bayern Munich to show consistency as they eye a place in the UEFA Champions League final.

The newly crowned Bundesliga champions eased to a 4-0 win over Barcelona in the first-leg at the Allianz Arena and, although many believe Bayern have a big enough advantage to be confident of their place in the Wembley showpiece, Heynckes is keen for his side to ensure that do not fall victim to a dramatic comeback in Wednesday’s second-leg at the Camp Nou.

“We can’t think too much about the first-leg result,” Heynckes said.
“After the match we can evaluate things, but I cannot say which team is the better one. Barcelona have played at such a high level for so many years. Bayern want to prove that the match in Munich wasn’t a one-off.
“We have to take into account the rival. We have our philosophy on football and this season we have proved that Bayern are a great team playing top quality football.

“We have our culture and we are capable of scoring goals at Camp Nou.”

The 67-year-old’s thoughts were echoed by Thomas Muller, although the attacker feels the German club only need to concentrate on the defensive side of the game to ensure progression.

In football so much can happen. Therefore we need to perform well again and try to prevent them from scoring. Then it should be enough as far as I’m concerned,” said Muller.

Bayern have reached two of the last three UEFA Champions League finals, losing 2-0 to Jose Mourinho’s Inter side in 2010, and suffering a penalty shoot-out defeat to Chelsea in the final in Munich last year.

Heynckes feels the loss on home soil has been a blessing for his side and praised the club’s reaction to that devastating loss at their home stadium.

“When you experience a final like we did against Chelsea, then you understand all the consequences,” he added.

“Some clubs give up, but everyone at Bayern reacted in a very positive way. We made changes, signed good players, modified some things and strengthened the team spirit.”
Tue 30 April, 2013
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Oxlade-Chamberlain: There is always pressure

Arsenal attacker Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has admitted to feeling under pressure throughout his second season at the club.

The 19-year-old made an immediate impact following his move to the Emirates Stadium from Southampton in August 2011, appearing 26 times and notching four goals during his debut campaign.

That form subsequently earned the midfielder international recognition at senior level, and he has amassed a total of 10 England caps since making his debut in May 2012.

However, Oxlade-Chamberlain says following up such an impressive start has been a tough ask and is keen to emphasise that he is still learning his trade.

“It has been difficult,” he told Arsenal’s official matchday programme.

“There is always pressure, but maybe people forget that I am only 19 and will still be 19 at the start of next season. When you have a good first season, especially at 18, people hype you up and really want to see you kick on. They expect you to play lots of games and do really well.

“I have tried to carry on from last season, but sometimes you have to realise that you are a young lad and have a lot to learn. The experience of being in a club and league like this is a great education at this age.”

Oxlade-Chamberlain also claimed that he has no concerns over being used as a substitute at this stage of his career, having come from the bench in half of his 22 Premier League appearances this term.

“You always want to start but your responsibility when you are on the bench, especially as a winger, is to come on, change the game and help drive the boys forward, that is what I have been trying to do, to make things happen and add a different dynamic to the game,” he added.

“I have been working on things like my team play, my defensive play and getting back into the right positions off the ball and these things aren’t often noticed.

“I started pre-season playing in central roles and have played there in training, so I am trying to develop that as well. I am happy with the way things are going and the most important thing is that the team finishes where we need to. I am happy to be a part of that.”
Tue 30 April, 2013
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Can Real Madrid make it to the final of the Champions League?

Cristiano Ronaldo could be the key for Real Madrid if they are defeat Dortmund this evening in the Champions League

Cristiano Ronaldo could be the key for Real Madrid if they are to defeat Dortmund this evening in the Champions League

Spanish giants Real Madrid host German side Borussia Dortmund in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final this evening.

Los Blancos have a mountain to climb, after losing the first leg 4-1 in Germany.

Difficult

The task ahead of Real is a difficult one. Jose Mourinho’s team do have the ability to produce a miracle comeback, but will have to attack the German side from the first whistle.

That could play into the hands of Dortmund’s superb counter-attacking ability.

Counter-attack

Dortmund is arguably the best counter-attacking team in Europe. They have the players with the ability to break at lightning quick speed. Their whole team is perfectly set-up to break quickly and exploit any space left behind by the opposition defence.

With the home in need of three goals and their defence, not exactly looking rock-solid Dortmund could easily pick Real off. I really would be surprised if the German visitors did not find the net at the Bernabeu.

Precedent

In the history of the Champions League, only one team has ever overcome such a deficit. Ironically, it was Real’s compatriots Deportivo La Coruna in 2004. Deportivo lost the first leg quarter-final tie 4-1 at AC Milan, only to win the second leg 4-0.

Deportivo’s story gives Real Madrid hope, but this Dortmund side are very dangerous opponents and Real Madrid will have to produce a big performance to get through to the final.

Doubts

There are major doubts over the future of Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho. He has enjoyed a rather stormy relationship with the club and Spanish football in general in his time in Spain. The link with a return to Chelsea never seems to go away.

The Portuguese boss joined Real to bring home the Champions League trophy and so far, he has failed his task. Mourinho is not a quitter, but even he will know that it is a tough ask of his side to defeat the well-drilled German side.

Real Madrid could end the season trophy-less, after losing out to rivals Barcelona in La Liga. Los Blancos face bitter-rivals Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey final 17th May, but even a cup victory will not make this season a success.

I do not even think Jose Mourinho could say that this season has been a success if they do not win the Champions League trophy, which is now looking very unlikely.

Outstanding

If Real have any hope of making the final then they will have to keep Dortmund’s star striker Robert Lewandowski quiet at the Bernabeu. He scored four goals in the first leg and looked like a constant threat in attack.

With service from the likes of Mario Gotze and Marco Reus, he will always score goals. Lewandowski has proved in the last few seasons that he is a truly outstanding goalscorer. Dortmund will lose the Polish international in the summer.

His boots will be big ones to fill. Whoever has agreed to sign him have one hell of a player. It looks increasing likely that the 24-year-old will be joining rivals Bayern Munich, which would be a double blow for Dortmund, as highly-rated youngster Gotze has already agreed a summer move to Bavaria.

Fit

Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo is fit for the crucial clash after shaking off a slight injury problem from the first leg. Ronaldo is vital to the Real cause. The former-Manchester United star is currently the top scorer in the Champions League with 12 goals, two ahead of Lewandowski in the scorers chart and four ahead of big rival Lionel Messi.

Ronaldo scored Real’s goal in the first game and a lot will depend on him in the second leg. If Ronaldo is on-form, he seems to lift the rest of his team. That lift could be the deciding factor in this tie.

Win

I do believe that Real Madrid will win tonight’s game, but lose the tie. Dortmund has been the dark horses throughout the competition and will probably have just enough to make it through to the final.

They could possibly meet bitter-rivals Bayern Munich in the final and have a chance for revenge, after Bayern stole the Bundesliga crown this season. Whatever happens this evening the game promises to be an entertaining clash, with lots of goals hopefully.

Can Real Madrid complete a miracle comeback at the Bernabeu?

Tue 30 April, 2013
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Fink confident Hamburg will reach Europe

Hamburg coach Thorsten Fink believes his side can secure qualification for the UEFA Europa League by winning their remaining league games.

Fink’s team sit one point behind sixth-placed Freiburg in the Bundesliga, but have three fixtures to overturn that deficit and take the final European spot.

And the 45-year-old is confident that his squad can achieve such a feat – starting with a home victory against Wolfsburg on Sunday.

“Our aim is to get all nine points out of the remaining games,” Fink told Hamburger Morgenpost.

“If we do that then we are 100 percent in Europe. A win against Wolfsburg this week puts us right back in business.”

Fink went on to insist that Hamburg, who have lost four of their last six games, are not burdened by the do-or-die nature of their bid for Europe.

“We still have the chance of a positive surprise and compete in the Europa League. That is positive pressure,” he added.

“It is this enthusiasm that I want to see against Wolfsburg. It’s got to be there.”
Tue 30 April, 2013
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Fink confident Hamburg will reach Europe

Hamburg coach Thorsten Fink believes his side can secure qualification for the UEFA Europa League by winning their remaining league games.

Fink’s team sit one point behind sixth-placed Freiburg in the Bundesliga, but have three fixtures to overturn that deficit and take the final European spot.

And the 45-year-old is confident that his squad can achieve such a feat – starting with a home victory against Wolfsburg on Sunday.

“Our aim is to get all nine points out of the remaining games,” Fink told Hamburger Morgenpost.

“If we do that then we are 100 percent in Europe. A win against Wolfsburg this week puts us right back in business.”

Fink went on to insist that Hamburg, who have lost four of their last six games, are not burdened by the do-or-die nature of their bid for Europe.

“We still have the chance of a positive surprise and compete in the Europa League. That is positive pressure,” he added.

“It is this enthusiasm that I want to see against Wolfsburg. It’s got to be there.”
Tue 30 April, 2013
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Fink confident Hamburg will reach Europe

Hamburg coach Thorsten Fink believes his side can secure qualification for the UEFA Europa League by winning their remaining league games.

Fink’s team sit one point behind sixth-placed Freiburg in the Bundesliga, but have three fixtures to overturn that deficit and take the final European spot.

And the 45-year-old is confident that his squad can achieve such a feat – starting with a home victory against Wolfsburg on Sunday.

“Our aim is to get all nine points out of the remaining games,” Fink told Hamburger Morgenpost.

“If we do that then we are 100 percent in Europe. A win against Wolfsburg this week puts us right back in business.”

Fink went on to insist that Hamburg, who have lost four of their last six games, are not burdened by the do-or-die nature of their bid for Europe.

“We still have the chance of a positive surprise and compete in the Europa League. That is positive pressure,” he added.

“It is this enthusiasm that I want to see against Wolfsburg. It’s got to be there.”
Tue 30 April, 2013
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Malaga looking for Pellegrini stay

Malaga’s director general Vicente Casado believes the club’s improving finances will be enough to convince boss Manuel Pellegrini to stay.

Reports had suggested that Pellegrini, who led the Spanish club to the quarter-finals of this year’s UEFA Champions League, had met with Manchester City director of football Txiki Begiristain with a view to a switch to the Etihad Stadium.

However Casado was eager to state that the Argentine is content at La Rosaleda and is hopeful that the former Villarreal and Real Madrid manager will remain with the club.
“The only thing we know is that Manuel is happy at Malaga, and it is known that everyone appreciates him,” Casado said.
Pellegrini has made no secret of his desire to see out his contract, which expires in 2015, however the 59-year-old is reportedly keen for the ownership to show more commitment. Casado feels Malaga can satisfy those demands, and insisted the club will no longer have to sell leading players in order to keep their finances healthy.
He added: “We will continue to have the budget of a club in mid-table towards the top.”
Malaga occupy a Europa League qualification spot in La Liga, and Casado that their UEFA imposed European competition will be overturned at the appeal hearing in June.
“In Malaga we are already credible, in Spain too,” he continued. “We hope that internationally they believe in this project.”
Tue 30 April, 2013
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Cahill issues Chelsea rallying cry

Chelsea defender Gary Cahill has called on his team-mates to find their best form as the season reaches its climax.

Rafael Benitez’s men lead the chase for a top-four Premier League finish and have a 2-1 aggregate lead over Basel in the sides’ Europa League semi-final tie.

And Cahill hopes that a solid run-in can guarantee success on both fronts.

“Last season was a strong finish and I hope we can do the same this year,” he told the club’s official website.

“We know what we have to do between now and the end of the season and we have to start by putting in performances like we did against Swansea and getting the wins.

“We’re in a good position but it’s dangerous because we’ve got some great teams coming up in Spurs, Manchester United and Everton, who people tend to forget about but they’re not far away.

“Obviously we’ve got the cup as well so it needs a big push from the players over an important few games.”

Former Bolton centre-back Cahill has made 40 appearances for Chelsea this season, scoring six goals.
Tue 30 April, 2013
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Accrington manager joins Chesterfield

Leam Richardson has left Accrington Stanley to become Paul Cook’s assistant at Chesterfield.

Richardson was assistant to Cook at Accrington before stepping into the manager’s job in October 2012.
He guided them to safety in League Two this season, finishing three points clear of the relegation zone, but has now linked up with Cook once more.

Cook is looking forward to working alongside the 33-year-old again as Chesterfield look to improve on this season’s eight-place finish.

“Having worked with him before, I’m delighted to have been able to bring in Leam,” he told the club’s official website.

“He
has great knowledge of League Two as a player, assistant manager and
manager and I’m sure he’s going to be a great asset to our club.”

The departure of Richardson after nearly eight years at Accrington, having represented the club as both a player and a manager, was confirmed in a statement on the club’s official website.

“Accrington Stanley manager Leam Richardson has left the club to take up a job with Chesterfield,” the statement read.

“A formal approach has been made for the 33-year-old with a deal agreed between the two clubs after Leam indicated he wished to move on.

“Leam took charge in November and led us to Football League survival. All at the club would like to thank him for his service as player, coach and manager over the last eight years.

“Accrington Stanley will now begin the search for a new manager, with current assistant boss Paul Stephenson and first team coach Paul Lodge remaining at the Store First Stadium to handle first team affairs.”

Tue 30 April, 2013
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