Mourinho has been a scourge, says Barcelona vice-president
Blaugrana chief has breathed a sigh of relief following
Madrid's announcement that they will part ways with the
50-year-old at the end of the season
Barcelona vice-president Carles Vilarrubi has hit out at
Jose Mourinho in the wake of the announcement that the
Portuguese coach will leave Real Madrid this summer and
believes his exit is a positive thing for Spanish
Madrid president Florentino Perez revealed on
Monday evening that Mourinho will not fulfil his
contract with the Santiago Bernabeu side and Vilarrubi
is pleased to see the 50-year-old leave La Liga at the
end of this season.
"I can speak out now. Mourinho has been a scourge,"
Vilarrubi told Catalunya Radio.
"Seeing him leave is a positive thing for Spanish
football in my opinion because he had created a negative
Mourinho joined Madrid from Inter in the summer of 2010
and has been surrounded by controversy ever since, most
notably when he made the headlines for all the wrong
reasons in August 2011 for poking then Barcelona
assistant Tito Vilanova in the eye during a touchline
He guided los Blancos to one Liga title, one Copa del
Rey and one Spanish Supercopa during his three-year
spell in charge of the club, but failed to steer them to
Champions League glory.
Messi: Neymar move would be wonderful
star feels the Brazilian would add a different dimension
to Barcelona's play and believes Pep Guardiola will be a
huge hit with Bayern Munich
Lionel Messi believes Neymar would make a "wonderful
addition" to the Barcelona squad should he opt to move
to Camp Nou.
Speculation has intensified in recent weeks over
where the Santos star will be plying his trade next
season, with Barcelona currently attempting to negotiate
a deal despite the player's insistence he will remain in
Brazil until 2014.
However, should such a move materialise, Messi feels the
starlet would add a different dimension to Barca's
"I do not know if he will end up at the club or not.
However, it is true that he is a player who would bring
a very different dimension to the team," he told Qatar
Alkass. "Of course he would be a wonderful addition."
The Argentina international then looked ahead to next
year's World Cup in Brazil and insists he wants to taste
glory at the tournament irrespective of what it could
mean for his reputation in the history of the game.
"All I care about is winning the World Cup," he said. "I
won't be thinking about whether it will mean I am the
best player ever or not."
The 25-year-old also praised former coaches Frank
Rijkaard and Bayern Munich-bound Pep Guardiola, a man
who Messi believes will be a huge hit and Bayern and
wherever he chooses to go in future.
"He [Rijkaard] was the one who believed in me when I was
17," the Argentina skipper added. "It was one of the
most important times of my life working under him, and
Pep told me I was the best player he has ever coached.
"He will succeed at Bayern. He will succeed anywhere he
goes because his understanding and reading of the game
is like nobody else's."
Jose Mourinho to leave Real Madrid
president Florentino Perez has confirmed the Portuguese
coach is set to end his three-year spell in La Liga
following a trophy-less season in the capital
Jose Mourinho will leave his role as coach of Real
Madrid at the end of the current season, the club have
President Florentino Perez revealed at a press
conference on Monday that the former Inter, Chelsea and
Porto coach's time in charge at the Bernabeu is coming
to an end by mutual agreement once the 2012-13 season
has reached its conclusion.
“The club and coach believe the time is right to bring
our relationship to an end,” said Perez.
“I would like to thank Jose Mourinho for all his
hard work over the last three years. The team has
improved over his time here and I would like to wish him
all the best.
"Everything is relative. From where we have come, we
have taken a big step but we were lacking a little
The announcement comes after a disappointing spell saw
Madrid knocked out of the Champions League by Borussia
Dortmund in the semi-finals and suffer defeat to rivals
Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey final, while
Barcelona marched to the Liga title.
"The achievements of this season have not been
sufficient for the demands of a club such as Real Madrid
or a coach like Mourinho.
"Every coach has his personality. Has he made mistakes
sometimes? Sure. He himself recognises that, but the
level of pressure he is under is not normal. There have
also been times when he has passed the limits of what is
"The time is right to go our separate ways and once
again I would like to thank Jose Mourinho for all his
Perez admitted the subject of Mourinho's future has been
on the club's agenda for some time, but insisted a final
decision has only been reached now.
"We have come to this decision just now, although its
something that has been at the back of our mind for some
"We have no pre-contract signed with any manager. This
is something we have to look at over the coming days."
Once the league season has reached its end, the outgoing
Mourinho is expected to return to England in the summer
and take over at former club Chelsea, although the likes
of Paris Saint-Germain, Monaco and Manchester City are
outside contenders for his signature.
Alves open to PSG or Monaco move
Barcelona star says he would consider a switch to one of
the two Ligue 1 financial behemoths at the end of the
Barcelona right-back Dani Alves has revealed that he
would consider joining either Paris Saint-Germain or
Monaco in the Summer, should one of them make an offer.
Last summer the Brazilian confirmed that les
Parisiennes enquired about his services, but a move was
not possible at the time due to an exorbitant transfer
fee demanded by Barca.
However, Alves has now stated that he would be open to
leave the Catalan giants at the end of the campaign,
should a new offer from Ligue 1 come his way.
"I am a Barca player and very happy here, but I never
close the door to Paris or another club," the
30-year-old told Canal+.
"Paris are a very ambitious young club, with a great
desire to claim a place in the world of football. They
recruit great players to make something beautiful in
"They lack a little continuity but they are on the right
track. Some media stars and other high quality players
have joined already."
He also did not rule out a switch to Monaco, who have
been linked with the likes of Radamel Falcao and Carlos
Tevez since securing their return to France's top
Mourinho: "This was the worst season of my career"
Mourinho was brutally honest with how he feels this
campaign has gone for Madrid, even if he did feel that
Atletico were "lucky" to win the Copa in a match in
which he was ordered to the stands
The Portuguese did not hesitate to write off the
campaign as the least successful of his life to date but
insisted Atletico Madrid were "lucky" to have triumphed
Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has described the
2012-13 campaign as the "worst season of his career"
following a 2-1 defeat to Atletico Madrid in the Copa
del Rey final.
Joao Miranda's extra-time header sent the Portuguese's
side to defeat at Santiago Bernabeu on Friday and
signalled Mourinho's first campaign without a major
trophy in over a decade - excepting the Supercopa
success over Barcelona back in August.
Speaking after the game, the 50-year-old admitted the
last year has been a blot on his CV when placed in the
context of his own high standards.
"This was the worst season of my career. For many
coaches it would be a good season but for me it is the
worst," Mourinho told reporters.
"I always showed up in the press room every time we drew
or we lost. This year's campaign was a failure but my
first two seasons were successful."
The coach, who was sent to the stands midway through the
second half, claimed in his post-match assessment that
Atletico were "lucky" to lift the trophy after his side
hit the woodwork three times and were foiled by a number
of stunning saves from Thibaut Courtois.
"I don't think Atletico deserve to be champions but they
won the title," he said. "We had two clear chances on
goal, we hit the post three times. This is why I think
it is unfair.
"Atletico's keeper was fantastic but he was also lucky
Mourinho's future has been shrouded in speculation for
some weeks as rumours of a return to the Premier League
with Chelsea gather pace, but he was tight-lipped with
regards any potential move.
"I have a contract that is valid for three more years,"
he said. "I still haven't talked to the [Real Madrid]
president [Florentino Perez] about my future."
Santos: Neymar only wants Barca
Brazilian club's vice-president has confirmed the
youngster's interest in a move to Camp Nou but is
expecting a massive counter-offer from Real Madrid
Santos vice president Odilio Rodrigues has confirmed
that Neymar has told the club he wants to join
The Brazil international has long been linked
with a move to Camp Nou and is set to fly to Spain for
talks with the Blaugrana in July after the
Other clubs, including the likes of Real Madrid and
Bayern Munich, are reported to be monitoring the
21-year-old's situation at the Sao Paulo outfit but
Rodrigues says the player is intent on a move to
"Neymar has told us that he wants to sign for Barca,"
Rodrigues told SER Esports.
"There are other proposals but he has a preference for
Barca. There is no official Madrid proposal for Neymar,
but we know that this offer will come."
Rodrigues has also claimed that Barcelona have not made
a sufficient offer for the player, but stressed that
negotiations are ongoing.
"We held conversations in Spain with the Barca board of
directors and there are ongoing talks but nothing has
"I like to talk to Sandro [Rosell, Barcelona president]
and Raul [Sanllehi, director of football], they are very
pleasant people and I was very well received in Spain.
"But the negotiations need to continue because the first
bid we were offered was not enough. We know that Madrid
have a bid and will be presenting it soon, but I haven't
talked to [club president] Florentino Perez.
"We know that the athlete's opinion is important. What
we have to do is to find a way to unite the best offer
with the player's interest."
Neymar's contract at Santos expires in 2014.
Beckham announces retirement
The former England captain has decided to bring the
curtain down on his illustrious career despite the
efforts of Paris Saint-Germain to persuade him to play
on for another year
Paris Saint-Germain midfielder David Beckham has
announced that he will retire from football at the end
of the season.
The 38-year-old only moved to the French capital on a
short-term contract in January but the Parisiens were
keen for the former England captain to extend his stay
at the Parc des Princes for another season.
However, even though Beckham played his part in
PSG ending their 18-year wait for a Ligue 1 title, the
midfielder has now decided to bring the curtain down on
his illustrious career this summer.
"I'm thankful to PSG for giving me the
opportunity to continue but I feel now is the right time
to finish my career, playing at the highest level," he
said in a statement.
"If you had told me as a young boy I would have played
for and won trophies with my boyhood club Manchester
United, proudly captained and played for my country over
100 times and lined up for some of the biggest clubs in
the world, I would have told you it was a fantasy.
"I'm fortunate to have realised those dreams. Nothing
will ever completely replace playing the game I love.
However, I feel like I'm starting a new adventure and
I'm genuinely excited about what lies ahead.
"I'm fortunate to have been given many opportunities
throughout my career and now I feel it's my time to give
Beckham has established himself as one of the most
recognisable faces in sport during a remarkable career
that has spanned two decades.
He made his name at Manchester United, winning six
Premier League titles, two FA Cups and one Champions
League with the Red Devils before joining Real Madrid in
Beckham lifted La Liga in his final season at the
Santiago Bernabeu before shocking the footballing world
by moving to LA Galaxy, with whom he won two MLS Cups.
Perhaps more significantly, though, he played a massive
role in boosting football’s popularity in the United
After two loan spells with AC Milan during his time in
America, he eventually returned to Europe earlier this
year with PSG, picking another domestic championship to
become the first Englishman to win titles in four
In his homeland, though, he will probably best be
remembered for his captaincy of the national team, and
the trademark free kick against Greece which secured his
country's qualification for the 2002 World Cup.
"I'm honored to represent England both on and off the
pitch," he enthused. "I want to thank all my team-mates,
the great managers that I had the pleasure of learning
"I also want to thank the fans who have all supported me
and given me the strength to succeed."
Beckham's final two outings are likely to come against
Brest, at the Parc des Princes on Saturday, and away to
Lorient, on May 25.
Xavi: Casillas has had terrible treatment at Madrid
Barcelona star has been unhappy to see his Spain
team-mate suffer such a controversial season at the
Bernabeu, while also discussing his determination to
Barcelona star Xavi has labelled the treatment Spain
team-mate Iker Casillas has received at Real Madrid this
season as “terrible”.
The goalkeeper has been exiled from the
first-team by Jose Mourinho and regularly criticised by
the coach in public, with the Santiago Bernabeu boss
preferring to select January signing Diego Lopez between
Xavi has been dismayed to see his club rival and
international colleague go through such a hard time and
says it is not what a player of Casillas' standing
“I don't like to see an important player like Iker going
through something like this,” he told a press
“It is terrible and I don't like it at all. Not so long
ago they were putting him forward for the Ballon d'Or
and now he's being discarded.
“He's my friend, he is a role model for a lot of people,
he is captain of Spain's national team - he doesn't
deserve this. I don’t know if Mourinho will continue [at
Real Madrid] or not.”
Xavi’s long-term fitness is often an issue debated when
Barca’s squad is analysed but the iconic midfielder
insists he is still as keen as ever to play regularly -
both for club and country.
The 33-year-old added: “Physically, I am prepared to
keep going - that's why I signed a three-year contract
“I haven't left the national team and I want to be with
Spain for the Confederations Cup and World Cup 2014. I
want to keep performing to a high level and I see myself
being able to do so.
“I enjoy playing every three days - that's how you can
build up rhythm and form. I want to be with Spain for
the Confederations Cup and I want to win it.
“There are a lot of games to get through but that's
because of the way the calendar is. At the end of the
season, your legs are tired.”
The Camp Nou club’s latest Liga title was Xavi’s seventh
in a star-studded career that has also seen him win
three Champions League medals.
Ronaldo: If we play well, we will win Copa del Rey
Portuguese believes that los Blancos are in good form
going into their mammoth derby clash and feels that
victory is theirs for the taking
Cristiano Ronaldo is in no doubt
that Real Madrid will prevail if they play to their full
potential in Friday night's Copa del Rey final against
Los Blancos have the benefit of home advantage for the
tournament decider, as well as a remarkable record
against their city rivals, whom they have not been
beaten by in any competition since 1999.
Ronaldo also believes that in spite of their recent
elimination by Borussia Dortmund at the semi-final stage
of the Champions League, Jose Mourinho's men are in fine
fettle going into this most important of Madrid derbies.
"We're very excited about this trophy and we want to
win," the forward told his club's official website. "We
know it's going to be a really hard-fought game against
a rival from the same city. It's going to be a great
"Let's hope that Real Madrid can win. But if we go out
on the pitch strong and we play as we know how, we're
going to win."
However, Ronaldo also believes that Madrid's fans have a
massive part to play in Friday's final, given that they
will not be in the majority for once.
Consequently, the former Manchester United winger is
hoping that the club's supporters will try to replicate
the passion they display before and during their recent
semi-final, second-leg clash with Dortmund.
"It was amazing," he enthused. "As long as I've been
here I have never seen a reception like that. It was a
really special, unique moment that none of us players
will ever forget.
"I hope that the same happens on Friday because it
motivates us to give our all when we hit the playing
field. That's what we want.
"It's going to be a strange final because we're playing
in our stadium but the fans will be divided 50/50.
"But that isn't going to take away our ambition to win
The Copa del Rey final is scheduled to kick off at
Mourinho congratulates Barcelona on Liga success
The Portuguese trainer offered praise for the new Liga
champions, before addressing Raphael Varane's injury and
Pepe's exclusion from the team
Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho conceded
Barcelona deserved the title on Saturday, the night his
men handed the Catalans their Liga triumph following a
1-1 draw at Espanyol.
Gonzalo Higuain's equalised after the visitors had
fallen behind but los Blancos could not build on the
Argentine's strike and prolong the inevitability of
losing their league crown to the Catalans.
"First of all, I want to congratulate Barcelona, their
coaches, their players, their fans," the 50-year-old
responded to reporters after the match.
"I think the logical thing to do is congratulate them.
Last year we won and spoke of a great title achieved,
and now I think it makes sense and is the least we can
do to give due importance to their achievement.
A portion of the trainer's praise stemmed from efforts
to deflect attention away from Pepe, who was dropped
from the side after criticising his compatriot's
treatment of captain Iker Casillas.
"You are always talking about a player and it does not
seem relevant. The league has a new champion and you're
talking about a player. I'm the coach. I don't need to
justify anything," Mourinho responded.
"From the first to the last day I'll always decide who
plays. I have the option of sometimes sharing the
reasons for my decisions and other times, not."
The issue was made more pressing with the news that
defender Raphael Varane looks likely to miss the Copa
del Rey final against neighbours Atletico next Friday,
although Mourinho did not appear concerned.
"On Friday, you'll see who plays and that will always be
my decision and responsibility. Half my medical staff
say Varane will not make the cup final.
"Obviously he cannot be in a game that everyone would
want to play, but let's not dramatise because we have
solutions. There are alternatives."
Ramos: Casillas has had a tough time
The Spain centre-back has called for unity within the
Real Madrid camp and admitted that his captain has
suffered due to his time on the bench
Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos has admitted that Iker
Casillas has had "a tough time" during his spell out of
the first team.
The club captain sustained a hand injury in the
Copa del Rey against Valencia in January, prompting the
signing of Diego Lopez from Sevilla.
The former Villarreal man has since kept his place in
the first team and Ramos says the Spain skipper has
suffered due to his bit-part role.
"Casillas has had a tough time," the 27-year-old told
reporters at the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament.
"We look back at a long friendship and relationship.
Companions are good for both Casillas and the coach, as
we all strive for the same goals. It's important that we
Jose Mourinho claimed recently that his biggest regret
of his time at Real Madrid was not replacing Casillas
sooner, prompting defender Pepe to urge his boss to show
more respect for the Spain skipper.
I regret not signing Lopez earlier, says Mourinho
Portuguese has taken a swipe at Iker Casillas by
suggesting that he should have been replaced at an
earlier stage and also took the time to praise Barcelona
Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho has confessed that he
wishes he had signed goalkeeper Diego Lopez earlier
during his stay at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The 31-year-old joined Madrid from Sevilla in the
January transfer window to replace the injured Iker
Casillas and has since made the spot between the sticks
Mourinho has now made it clear that head had already set
his sights on Lopez before, but eventually decided not
to bring him in, a decision the Portuguese now regrets.
"Would I do anything differently if I had the chance to
do the past three years over again? I should have
brought in Diego Lopez after my first year. We didn't do
enough to sign him. It's a real shame," Mourinho said at
a press conference.
The Madrid coach then went on to discuss his future at
Madrid and insisted that he has not made a final
"I can only confirm that I will sit down with the
president and Jose Angel Sanchez at the end of the
"You look around you and it seems that everybody is
moving. There's Carlo [Ancelotti] at PSG, Bayern are
changing coaches, Manchester City, Chelsea, there's
speculation everywhere. Some changes will happen and
others are just rumours..."
Mourinho also had his say on Barcelona's performances in
recent years and labelled them the best team of the past
"It's an honour to have broken the dominance of
Barcelona at national level. On international level, I
did it with Inter. They're still a fantastic team,
probably the best of the last 20 - 30 years.
"Now they've had a couple of bad, surprising results and
have become a bad team in the eyes of many..."
The coach was also questioned about Cristiano Ronaldo's
future at the club and insisted that he hopes his
compatriot will stay put for many more years to come.
"I hope that Cristiano and Madrid stay together for a
long time. He has to think about himself and the club.
He was not happy earlier this season, but he is now. He
is 100 per cent focused on Madrid."
Tito wins all the comparisons with Pep, says Barcelona
Blaugrana representative thinks highly of the club's
current coach, while he has stressed Eric Abidal will
not necessarily be offered a new deal
Barcelona spokesperson Toni Freixa has taken a minor dig
at former first-team boss Pep Guardiola, claiming
current head coach Tito Vilanova "wins all the
comparisons, even the human aspect."
Guardiola guided the Blaugrana to an impressive
14 trophies during his four-year spell at the club's
helm, yet Freixa is clearly more in awe of the qualities
of his successor.
"Tito wins all the comparisons with Guardiola, even the
human aspect," the Barca spokesman said in an interview
with Radio Marca.
"When he was presented as our new coach, he said that he
should not be compared with Pep as he would always lose
those comparisons. I disagree, though, and believes he
wins on each front."
Freixa then went on to discuss the future of Eric Abidal,
who has an expiring contract with Barca, and stated that
the Frenchman will not necessarily be offered a new
"Barcelona will have to make a decision on his renewal
solely based on technical parameters," Freixa added.
"He has been an example to follow, but the eventual
decision about his future lies with the technical
Abidal recently made his comeback after a 13-month spell
on the sidelines following a liver transplant, and
revealed it is the club's decision whether or not he
would extend his current terms.
Messi: Bayern even stronger than last year
Argentine is aware of the Bundesliga champions' strength
and is relishing the prospect of a potential final
against Real Madrid
Lionel Messi has stressed that Barcelona must be on top
of their game against Bayern Munich if they are to reach
the Champions League final at Wembley.
The Argentine attacker feels Bayern have been in
impressive form so far in the 2012-13 campaign and
believes they are even better than last year, when they
lost the final to Chelsea on penalties.
"Any opponent in these semi-finals was going to be
tough, but Bayern this year are very, very good. They
have been playing at a very high level and scoring a lot
of goals," Messi told The Times of India.
"After what happened at the end of 2012, when they lost
the final at their own ground to Chelsea, I think they
have even more desire to go for the title this time. And
Bayern are stronger this year than last in my opinion."
The prolific attacker then went on to discuss a
potential final against Real Madrid and admitted that a
Clasico at Wembley would be something special.
"Right now, we do not speak of the final but only about
Bayern," he said.
"And if we get to the final we do not care who we play
as long as we are there again.
"But it is indisputable that a final at Wembley against
Real Madrid would be a special game for many things and
many people. If it is Real in the final it will be a
great show, that’s for sure.
Champions League semi-finals
Bavarians will host the Blaugrana in the first leg,
while Borussia Dortmund will welcome Real Madrid to
Signal Iduna Park
Bayern Munich will face Barcelona in the semi-finals of
the Champions League, while Real Madrid have been paired
with Borussia Dortmund.
The Bavarians have claimed the continent’s top
prize on four previous occasions and are desperate to
atone for defeat in last year’s tournament decider
However, to do so they will have to go through Barca,
who are seeking their third Champions League title in
five seasons. The two sides will first meet at the
Allianz Arena before locking horns again in Catalunya a
The other semi-final sees Madrid renew hostilities with
Dortmund, whom they faced in this year's group stages,
Jurgen Klopp's men upsetting los Blancos at Signal Iduna
Park in October before picking up a precious point at
the Santiago Bernabeu just a couple of weeks later.
However, los Blancos, who will host the second leg, are
bidding for their 10th European Cup, while boss Jose
Mourinho is hoping to became the first coach to lift the
trophy with three different clubs, having previously
prevailed with Porto and Inter.
Dortmund have made just one previous appearance in the
final, in 1997, when they upset Juventus in Munich.
The first legs will be played on April 23 and 24, with
the return fixtures to come on April 30 and May 1. The
final, meanwhile, will take place at Wembley on May 25,
with the winner of Dortmund's meeting with Madrid havi
Villa happy with Messi chemistry
Barcelona star combined well with the Argentine during
the 3-1 win over Rayo on Sunday and is happy with his
relationship with his team-mate
Barcelona striker David Villa says he is happy about his
understanding with Lionel Messi after his side's 3-1 win
over Rayo Vallecano on Sunday.
The pair have been rumoured not to get along very
well, but combined to great effect in the Liga clash,
with each creating and scoring the Blaugrana's goals.
"The three goals were between Messi and me. I'm happy to
participate directly with him on so many," the
31-year-old told Canal+.
Stand-in coach Jordi Roura added that the two players
have a perfectly good relationship, despite rumours to
the contrary over the years.
"People have always talked about this, but it seems
absurd to me," the 45-year-old told reporters.
"Currently their relationship is the same as always,
very good. I see no significance.
"I always said that Villa is very important for us and
would have his moments. He plays good matches and
Iniesta: Milan win was one of Barcelona's most complete
Spain international was left delighted with the
Blaugrana's display as they reached the quarter-finals
of the Champions League
Andres Iniesta has hailed Barcelona's performance
against AC Milan as one of the most complete in the
The Catalans recorded an impressive 4-0 win at
Camp Nou to book their ticket for the quarter-finals of
the Champions League after previously losing the first
leg of the round of 16 tie 2-0 at San Siro, and Iniesta
was delighted with Barca's comeback.
"To date it was one of the most complete games we’ve
played. Hopefully this experience will help us in the
future," Iniesta was quoted as saying on the club's
"The team played brilliantly and we achieved our
objective. When you have that kind of unity between the
team and the fans games can be very long for our rivals
at Camp Nou.
"We had an obligation to try and fight back and that’s
what we did. The feelings we transmitted on the pitch
were fantastic. When we show our identity, we’re very
hard to beat. At times things do go the way you had
Alba: I'll go nuts if I score at the Bernabeu
Barcelona left-back Jordi Alba has claimed that he would
"go nuts" if he were to score at the Santiago Bernabeu
against Real Madrid on Saturday.
The Spain international netted a consolation goal in the
Blaugrana’s 3-1 defeat to Jose Mourinho’s men at Camp
Nou on Tuesday, which saw them eliminated from the Copa
"If I score at the Bernabeu, I would go nuts!" he told
With coach Tito Vilanova receiving cancer
treatment in New York City, Barca have not been at their
best in recent weeks, but Alba was quick to stress that
they are still fighting hard for the 44-year-old.
"Tito is a great person, he’s very humble, but he's
fights as hard as they come and we hope to have him back
as soon as possible,” he added.
"We fight for him and for all of Barcelona. When we win,
our victories are devoted to him."
Alba rejoined the Camp Nou outfit at the start of the
season after leaving the club as a child, and he went on
to admit that he never thought he would get the chance
to represent the Blaugrana again.
"When I left La Masia at 16, I thought my time with
Barcelona was over," he continued.
"At first I struggled a bit [on my Barca return],
because I caught the flu and was pretty ill for two
weeks, but after playing against Sevilla, everything
went fantastically well and now I'm having a very good
time, I feel great."
The full-back also defender Lionel Messi, who has been
criticised in the past few weeks after failing to make
an impact in the losses to Madrid and AC Milan.
"There are players that make a big difference in [modern
football], but no one else is as good as Leo," he added.
"He's a pleasure to have as a team-mate, and he has
treated me very well from the beginning, with great
humility, and on the field he keeps proving he is the
Roura: I hope the referee doesn't ruin El Clasico
stand-in coach Jordi Roura has called for the referee to
"go unnoticed" during his side's Copa del Rey clash with
Real Madrid at Camp Nou on Tuesday.
The game will be officiated by Alberto Undiano Mallecano,
who also took charge of the final of the competition
between the two rivals in 2011, and the 45-year-old is
hoping he will not ignore any tough Blancos tackling.
"The numbers [with Undiano] aren't good. We still
remember that he allowed many fouls in the cup final,"
he told reporters.
"We hope that their decisions do not mark the match and
that they go unnoticed. Every Clasico is intense, hard.
But we hope it won't run out of hand and that it stays
within the sporting limits."
Lionel Messi has come in for criticism from certain
parts of the media after allegedly insulting Madrid
assistant coach Aitor Karanka, and Roura went on to
defend his charge.
"Every player can improve, but looking at his numbers
this season, I think the campaign by some media against
Messi is out of place."
Barcelona have conceded a number of seemingly
unnecessary goals this season, and Roura was quick to
assure supporters that they are working to address the
"We've analysed the goals we've conceded. Sometimes the
opponent just did well, other times we've made mistakes.
We need to focus more."
Barcelona and Real Madrid kick off at 21:00CET on
Tuesday, having recorded a 1-1 first-leg draw at the
Santiago Bernabeu in the first leg.
Mourinho: 'Barca should play football, not talk about!
50-year-old has challenged the Blaugrana to teach his
side a "lesson" in the game when they clash on Tuesday,
as opposed to complaining about officials
Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho believes Barcelona
should focus on football rather than talking about the
referees ahead of the second-leg Copa del Rey clash at
the Camp Nou.
Barcelona interim coach Jordi Roura voiced his
reservations over the appointment of Alberto Undiano
Mallecano as the referee for the Clasico, and the
Blancos trainer feels they should concentrate on the
"I prefer to stay with the lessons we have received in
the past from Barcelona. Lessons in sportsmanship, how
to be in football. Not talking about the referees, not
surrounding them, trying to get opponents booked," he
sarcastically told reporters.
"And, of course, giving lessons on how to play football,
they do that very well. They would be well advised if
they humbly followed that line."
The former Chelsea boss is looking forward to the
encounter as his side look to rescue their season with a
"These are the games we like to play and I like going
into with the players. We prefer games this dimension
and this difficulty."
Brazilian star Kaka starred in Madrid's 2-1 victory at
Deportivo La Coruna on Saturday, but Mourinho is not
sure yet if the former AC Milan star will make an
"I do not know. Not that I would not want to say it. I
have not thought of it. Normally I do not say it. This
time I do not know. "
Puyol: We can be comeback kings
skipper, Cesc Fabregas and Dani Alves have promised fans
an improved performance in the second leg against Milan
after their shock Champions League defeat in San Siro
Barcelona trio Carles Puyol, Cesc Fabregas and Dani
Alves have all spoken of their disappointment at their
performance during Wednesday night's loss to AC Milan.
The 2-0 defeat gives the Catalan side an uphill
task to qualify for the last eight of the Champions
League, knowing that an away goal from Milan would
require four from themselves.
Puyol seemed particularly bullish about his side's
hopes, citing that the home crowd will give them a boost
in the second leg.
“It’s time to mount a comeback in front of our fans,” he
told the club's official website.
“They were more aggressive, we have to improve in the
return leg. We have to have confidence in this team, we
can’t give up. We’re going to play at home in front of
our fans, we aren’t going to give up.”
Fabregas spoke more about the physical aspects of the
game, and admitted that Milan were far superior in that
He said: “We weren’t on our game physically, they were
strong and it hurt us. We’re Barça and we have to play
at the highest level, we simply didn’t play a good
Alves was equally frustrated with the outcome of the
game, but was quick to compliment Milan's efforts.
“It’s not that we played terribly after the first goal.
We didn’t play well in general and that’s largely due to
how well our rival played. We have to improve," he
“This is a difficult result. We have to fight back, go
for the return game and work hard.”
Champions League is Real Madrid's priority
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has expressed his belief
that Real Madrid view winning the Champions League as
their main aim this season.
The two sides are set to go head-to-head at the Santiago
Bernabeu in the first leg of their last-16 tie on
And, with Los Blancos currently 16 points shy of
Liga leaders Barcelona in Spain, Ferguson expects Jose
Mourinho's men to be fully committed to earning the
"I think their target is the European Cup,” Ferguson
told the club’s official website. "They got a bad start
in the league and were chasing their tail a bit because
Barcelona's form has been incredible. I think Jose has
set his targets firmly on the European Cup, no doubt
"It can be harder for us but there's a bit of pressure
for them too. At this moment in time we're involved in
three things. Jose has still got the semi-final of the
Copa del Rey, they play Barca next week and then again
in a league game before we play them on the Tuesday at
Old Trafford. So they've got a big programme themselves.
"It's always been important to them, the European Cup,
and I don't think it (pressure) necessarily applies to
Jose as I think he's done a great job there.
"He's really built up a terrific squad of players and
could play two teams, like us. I don't think it applies
to him but you never know in football.
"I don't think there's any secrecy in his own desire to
win the European Cup as, don't forget, he'd be the only
person to win it with three different teams so it's a
fantastic challenge for Jose."
Mourinho has been widely tipped to replace Ferguson at
Old Trafford upon his eventual retirement and the
71-year-old Scot is looking forward to facing his
"I think he's pitting his wits against me," he
continued. "I think it's a great challenge - the two
biggest clubs in the world and obviously it's a big game
Juve hit with bans over ref rant
Bonucci and Chiellini among Juventus staff banned over
Multiple Bianconeri personnel have been punished for
their parts in an ugly exchange with officials in the
aftermath of Saturday's Serie A encounter
Juventus coach Antonio Conte, defenders Leonardo
Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, forward Mirko Vucinic and
director Giuseppe Marotta have all been banned for
criticising referee Marco Guida following his decision
not to award the Old Lady a penalty against Genoa.
The Bianconeri were incensed when Guida and his
assistants failed to whistle for handball against
Andreas Granqvist in the dying seconds of the 1-1 draw
at Juventus Stadium.
Sporting judge Gianpaolo Tosel has since decided to ban
Conte and Bonucci for two games and hand the pair
€10,000 fines, stating that their punishment was for
"intimidating the referee and an additional official,
insulting them and then reiterating the comments in the
dressing room after the game".
Injured defender Giorgio Chiellini ran from the stands
to confront the officials and as a result will now be
banned for one game, while Vucinic has been handed an
identical sanction for protesting despite numerous
Marotta, meanwhile, has been suspended from duty until
February 18, while the club will also have to pay
€50,000, in addition to the individual fines dished out.
The Turin giants travel to Chievo next Sunday before
hosting Fiorentina six days later in Serie A.
Guardiola signed Bayern deal in December, reveals agent
Maria Orobitg has said clubs offered the former
Barcelona boss more money, but the Bavarians were the
ideal option for the sought-after coach who has signed a
Pep Guardiola’s agent has revealed the former Barcelona
boss agreed a deal to join Bayern Munich back in
Guardiola stood down at the climax of the last campaign
for the Blaugrana and has been on a year sabbatical, but
on Wednesday afternoon it was announced he would return
to football at the Bundesliga club.
However, Josep Maria Orobitg has said the ink on the
contract dried weeks ago, while revealing the Bavarians
were the best club to have bid for the Spaniard, despite
having been approached by teams offering more money.
"[Guardiola signed] around December 20," the
representative told EFE Radio on Wednesday evening.
“He chose Bayern because they were the best team of all
the ones he had offers from.
“We went over the offers and Bayern are not the team
which offered the most money.
“He chose them because of their organisation, and
because of the potential he sees and because of their
Orobitg claimed Roma and AC Milan were interested in
Guardiola, but was quick to shoot down some of the
rumours that had circulated about the former Camp Nou
"There were contacts with clubs that were close, and
others that were put on hold until a decision would be
taken,” he added.
"Everybody was saying that there were offers, meetings
which happened, meetings which didn't, trips that didn't
exist ... a lot was written."
Despite Guardiola having signed prior to the Ballon d’Or
- around the start of the Bundesliga winter break - the
news has not become public knowledge until Wednesday,
and Guardiola’s agent confessed the decision to make an
announcement this soon from Bayern came as a surprise.
“It's all been signed for some time, [but] I didn't know
that it was going to be announced [Wednesday]
afternoon,” Orobitg explained.
"In fact, I was told at 12.00 and they said we'd only
talk about what came out in the statement. It is a lie
that there was a leak. They wanted to take the decision
“Yesterday, the club were denying it, but when a lot of
people start to know it's impossible to keep up with it;
then you've got to tell the sponsors and organise
things. These are really serious people.”
Valdes tells Barcelona he will not renew his contract
Blaugrana goalkeeper has told the club he plans to leave
at the end of his current deal, after recently
expressing his desire to experience "other cultures"
Victor Valdes has informed Barcelona he will not renew
his contract when it expires in 2014, according to the
Camp Nou chiefs held talks with agents of the Spain
international on Thursday and the Catalan club had hoped
to persuade the goalkeeper to extend his lifelong
association with the club.
However, it now appears certain the 31-year-old will
leave at the end of next season following the release of
a statement on Thursday evening.
"Victor Valdes' agents have told Barcelona, in the
meeting held this afternoon, of the irrevocable decision
from the player not to renew his contract, thus avoiding
discussing future wage issues," his representatives told
Spanish news agency EFE.
Valdes' contract expires on June 30, 2014, and he could
well make a move away from La Liga after recently
expressing his desire to experience "other cultures".
However, he had also revealed at the start of January
his intention to retire at Barca, an opinion that has
clearly changed since.
The current Liga leaders' sporting director Andoni
Zubizarreta had thought that Valdes had every intention
of remaining at Camp Nou.
Reports in the winter transfer window have linked
Manchester United shot-stopper David de Gea with a move
back to the Primera Division, having left Atletico
Madrid in 2011.
The Blaugrana are yet to comment on the Valdes news,
with a pre-match press conference due to be held on
Friday ahead of their clash with Real Sociedad on
Pique: Mourinho got away with murder
Spain international has claimed that the Portuguese
coach's poor behaviour was excused all too often when
his side were successful, but says Real Madrid can still
win La Liga
Barcelona centre-back Gerard Pique believes Real Madrid
coach Jose Mourinho's behaviour was excused by the
public and press when his side were successful.
The Spanish champions sit in third place in La
Liga, 18 points behind Tito Vilanova's men, and the
Blaugrana defender thinks that prior to their current
struggles, the Portuguese was given far too much leeway.
"I remember when Madrid were winning, and Mourinho got
away with murder," the 25-year-old was quoted as saying
"He even came here and poked Tito in the eye. How many
games was he banned for that? None.
"Now Mourinho has picked on [Iker] Casillas, threatened
a journalist, and people are criticising him. Mourinho
has always been like this, ever since he arrived. And he
got away with everything."
Despite their bad league standing, Pique believes los
Blancos are still in with a chance of regaining their
"I will still consider Madrid title rivals until it
becomes mathematically impossible for them to win the
league, there's too much history there and they are too
great a side to rule out," he continued.
"Madrid have something in them that when they start to
believe in themselves they can launch comebacks like
you'd never believe."
In order to help stave off a Madrid revival, Pique
warned his team not to become complacent in the final
months of the season.
"We are used to receiving praise, we know how to deal
with it. Pep told us: 'Praise can cause you more harm
than good', and he's right. We should be pleased with
ourselves but we need to keep on going."
Messi: I hope to win another Ballon d'Or
Argentine magician has his sights set on yet more glory
in 2013, but is unsure of whether he will be able to
better what he has achieved in the last 12 months
Barcelona striker Lionel Messi has said that it is
unlikely that he will be able to reach the same dizzying
heights he achieved in 2012, but admitted he is aiming
for a fifth Ballon d'Or.
The Argentina star blew everyone away with a
phenomenal year in which he managed to net 91 goals,
breaking Gerd Muller's record for number of strikes in a
calendar year in the process, which saw him pick up the
Fifa award for a record fourth time.
And while Messi concedes it will be hard to top last
year, he is determined to add more silverware and
“I hope to win another Ballon d'Or," he told France
Football. "Let me enjoy my moment. We'll revisit this
again in a few months.
"I try to move forward but it is very difficult. I'm not
sure whether I can aim for 91 goals every year.”
The 25-year-old added that each award he has won over
the years has meant something different to him.
He said: "Each Ballon d'Or victory doesn't spark the
same emotion, but it's just as intense. Every one has
made me happy.
"The first [I won] in Paris is unique to me. The second
I did not expect. And it was an honour to equal [Michel]
Platini and [Johan] Cruyff for the third."
The Barca attacker may be thinking about what the future
holds for him as the Blaugrana aim for La Liga title
while Argentina are preparing for the 2014 World Cup in
Brazil, but Messi has also taken time to reflect on what
he has achieved so far, with the Champions League final
of 2009 still firmly etched in the back of his mind.
He added: "When I close my eyes, and review my career,
the first image is that of Rome, the end of 2009. [The
Champions League final win over Manchester United] – my
headed goal, the collective joy we experienced … The
other records [I have broken] are memorable, but I do
like to dream [about that header]."
Messi admits, despite being one of the best footballers
in the world, he still struggles with public speaking
and this year was no different at the Ballon d'Or
He said: "I meant what I said, but I had nothing
prepared and could not miss out Tito [Vilanova] and
[Eric] Abidal. I would've even congratulated Cristiano [Ronaldo]."
Lionel Messi wins 2012 Fifa Ballon d'Or
Argentina international has become the first player in
history to win the prestigious prize four years in
Lionel Messi has won the 2012 Fifa Ballon d'Or ahead of
Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona
team-mate Andres Iniesta.
The Argentine attacker becomes the first player
in history to win the Ballon d'Or four times in
succession. He previously shared the record of three
consecutive victories with Michel Platini, while Dutch
duo Johan Cruyff and Marco van Basten also won the prize
Messi was unable to help Barcelona to the Liga title in
2011-12 as Real Madrid emerged victorious, while they
were eliminated in the semi-finals of the Champions
League, yet Messi's brilliance was enough to help him to
The recognition comes after a year in which the
25-year-old broke numerous records, including the most
goals scored in a calendar year.
Messi netted an astonishing 91 strikes over the course
of 2012 to crush Gerd Muller's previous record of 85
goals in a year, scoring 79 for Barcelona and 12 more
I think Mourinho will stay, says Ronaldo
27-year-old insists that the current head coach is the
right man to lead the Blancos forward, but added that he
will not discuss his own contract renewal any further
The Portuguese boss has seen his future at the
club shrouded in doubt of late, with a string of
controversial decisions and a 16-point gap to Liga
leaders Barcelona leaving his position weakened with los
However, Ronaldo feels that his compatriot is not about
to quit Santiago Bernabeu, and insists that he is the
right man to lead the club forward.
When asked whether he thought Mourinho would leave, he
told reporters at a press conference: "I do not know. It
depends on his situation and the club. I would love him
to stay because he is the right coach. He is a top coach
for a top club. I think he is going to stay but everyone
chooses their future."
Mourinho came under fire recently following his decision
to drop club captain Iker Casillas for the defeat to
Malaga, but Ronaldo believes that the coach's decision
"For me, in football, nothing surprises me," he
continued. "His [Casillas'] replacement was a technical
decision that we must respect. Here the coach is the
boss and he makes decisions for the benefit of the
Ronaldo's own future has been the subject of speculation
lately, with the player seemingly embroiled in a dispute
over the extension of his contract, but the 27-year-old
insists that he is happy at the club and focused on
"That issue has already been spoken about. I will not
talk any more about my renewal," the former Manchester
United attacker added.
"The important thing is to win the next matches. We are
fighting for La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Champions
League. The important thing is being together.
"I intend to repay [my fans] in the best possible way,
which is to play well, to give my best for the shirt and
to be on top of my game to help Real Madrid."