Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 19th 2014 Contents A59
Friday, September 19, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
MANCHESTER---Just a month into
the season, Manchester City is
already facing a game of huge sig-
nificance in the defense of its Pre-
mier League title.
If City loses at home to early leader
Chelsea on Sunday, the champions
will be eight points behind their
biggest rivals for the championship
after five matches. And that will be
a sizeable gap considering the strength
of the squad that Jose Mourinho has
built for this season.
Buoyed by a 4-0 win over Queens
Park Rangers last weekend, Man-
chester United s lineup of all-star
attackers heads to another promoted
club, Leicester, with Radamel Falcao
in line for a first start.
And second-place Aston Villa, the
surprise of the season, looks to main-
tain its unbeaten start when it hosts
Here are some things to know
about the upcoming round of games:
City blues: Man City s start to the
season is giving ammunition to the
critics who questioned whether the
club s offseason recruitment was good
While most of its rivals brought in
exciting attacking talents for the new
season, City chose to bolster its squad
with extra defenders and a tough-
tackling defensive midfielder in Fer-
nando---purchases that were sensible
but hardly set the pulses racing. The
champions are also down to three
strikers after selling Alvaro Negredo
on the final day of the transfer win-
Some early-season pressure would
come on City manager Manuel Pel-
legrini if he fails to mastermind a vic-
tory over Mourinho, whose tactics
were perfect in Chelsea s 1-0 win at
Etihad Stadium in February.
Costa reliance: If there s any glim-
mer of hope among Chelsea s rivals
after the London club s superb start
to the season, it s Mourinho s reliance
on Diego Costa.
Costa has scored seven goals in
four straight wins for Chelsea to open
the league season, despite being ham-
pered by hamstring problems.
The Spain striker was only a sub-
stitute, though, in Chelsea s opening
Champions League game---a 1-1 draw
at home to Schalke on Wednesday,
with Mourinho saying Costa is only
fit enough to start one match per
Will Falcao start?: Given an extra
week to acclimatise following his
high-profile loan move from Monaco,
Radamel Falcao should be ready to
start for Manchester United at Leices-
ter as Louis van Gaal s side look for
a second straight win.
Falcao came on as a 67th-minute
substitute for Juan Mata against QPR,
partnering Robin van Persie up front
with Wayne Rooney dropping back
into the No 10 role. That could be
the attacking formation Van Gaal
goes with in future.
Surprising Villa, Swansea: There s
usually one team that pops up near
the top of the standings for the first
weeks of the season before typically
This season, there are two sides
who have made surprising starts.
Aston Villa has picked up ten points
from a possible 12, with its third win
of the campaign coming at Liverpool
on Sunday. The reward for manager
Paul Lambert was a new contract on
Wednesday through the summer of
Villa, which battled to avoid rel-
egation last season, is in the middle
of a tough run of fixtures that will
test its resurgence, with the home
match against Arsenal followed by
games against Chelsea, Man City and
Swansea is the other unlikely mem-
ber of the current top four, with its
run of three straight wins ended by
Chelsea last week despite an encour-
aging performance at Stamford
Bridge. Swansea is at home to
Balotelli warning: Scoring goals
may not be enough for Mario Balotelli
to be the new crowd favourite at Liv-
The Italy striker ended his wait for
a goal for his new club by scoring in
Tuesday s 2-1 win over Ludogorets
Razgrad in the Champions League.
But manager Brendan Rodgers says
Balotelli must dovetail scoring with
a relentless work rate, like Luis Suarez
did during his turbulent 3½ years at
"You can see that he s trying to
put himself in for the team---and that s
going to be very important, because
the crowd demand that," Rodgers said
of Balotelli. "The players that have
been here in the past in that position,
they ve been non-stop, and he s
"He s putting his body on the line,
and he needs to do more."
MADRID---Real Madrid finally got
its act together in the Champions
League, and now it s time to keep
the momentum rolling into the
domestic competition following a
Madrid won its tenth European
title last season and routed FC Basel
5-1 on Tuesday but started this year s
Spanish league with only one win
from three matches. Tomorrow, the
team will get a chance to double
their point total when they play at
Deportivo La Coruna.
Barcelona, which beat Cypriot
club APOEL 1-0 on Wednesday, will
travel to Levante looking to maintain
its perfect start.
Here are some things to know
about this week s matches in the
Timely revival: Madrid recovered
its swagger against Basel as both
Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale
scored to help the team get started
with a convincing victory.
With Deportivo waiting on Sat-
urday, Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti
will be hoping Bale and former Tot-
tenham teammate Luka Modric con-
tinue to link up and keep feeding
the front line.
Ailing Atletico: Atletico Madrid,
which lost to Real Madrid in last
season s Champions League final,
didn t fare so well in Europe this
week, losing to Olympiakos 3-2.
They also lost Mario Mandzukic,
at least for a little while.
The Croatia striker is expected to
miss tomorrow s match against Celta
Vigo, and likely more, after breaking
his nose following an elbow from
Atletico will also be without coach
Diego Simeone, who is still serving
an eight-match ban.
Munir mania: Barcelona is already
at the top of the league and boasts
superstar scorers in Lionel Messi and
Neymar. But La Masia graduate
Munir El Haddadi is also making a
mark in the team and will be looking
for more goals when Barcelona visits
Levante on Sunday.
The 19-year-old Spaniard scored
on his league debut against Elche
and has wowed fans at the Camp
Nou with his deadly instincts, ath-
letic prowess and ball skills combined
with a tactical ability to outfox oppo-
Rallying cry: Even after the slow
start in the league, Madrid coach
Carlo Ancelotti seems to be sticking
with goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
The Spain captain was jeered at
times during the team s 5-1 win over
Basel, and many fans blame him for
the club s listless start in the league.
"I look at what the goalkeeper
does on the field, and I liked what
I saw," Ancelotti said.
Madrid defender Sergio Ramos
also spoke out to defend his team-
"People should also be sensitive,"
Ramos said. "The whistling affects
MILAN---Juventus coach Mas-
similiano Allegri will make his
return to AC Milan on Saturday,
and the reception he receives
from his former fans could be
as interesting as the match.
Allegri will return to San Siro
for the first time in a competitive
match since he was fired by AC
Milan in January.
Neither team has dropped
points this season, and Juventus
hasn t conceded a goal in a com-
petitive match since April.
The only other side to have
won both its opening matches
is Roma, which hosts Cagliari
Here are some things to know
about this weekend s matches
in the Italian league:
Allegri return: Massimiliano
Allegri spent 3½ seasons at
Milan and led the Rossoneri to
the Serie A title in his first year
in charge in 2010-11.
However, he struggled after
Milan sold its best players, with
several others retiring.
The 47-year-old Allegri was
a surprise choice to replace
Antonio Conte when the Juven-
tus coach resigned in the off-
season, shortly after leading the
squad to its third straight Serie
However, Juventus has won
both his opening league matches
as well as beating Malmo 2-0
in the Champions League on
Milan buoyant: AC Milan has
also started strongly under coach
Filippo Inzaghi, playing enter-
taining football and opening the
season with victories against
Lazio and Parma.
The Rossoneri hadn t won
their two opening matches in
eight years---when they also
played Lazio and Parma.
Injury woes: Both teams are
beset with injuries to key players
ahead of Juventus trip to AC
However, it is Juventus which
is faring the better as it prepares
to welcome back midfielder
Arturo Vidal and defender
Andrea Barzagli. Andrea Pirlo is
also nearing a return but is
unlikely to be fit in time for a
return to his former club.
Milan will definitely be with-
out goalkeeper Diego Lopez, who
injured himself trying to reach
a goalbound backpass in Sun-
day s 5-4 victory at Parma.
Defender Alex and midfielder
Riccardo Saponara were also
ruled out this week.
Rampant Roma: Roma is the
only other squad in Serie A to
have won both its opening
games. It also got its Champions
League campaign off to a strong
start with a 5-1 victory over
CSKA Moscow on Wednesday.
On Sunday, the team hosts
to AC Milan as
Man City already
... ahead of crucial Chelsea clash
Chelsea's Willian, down, fouls
Schalke's Christian Fuchs during the
Champions League Group G soccer
match between Chelsea and Schalke
04 at Stamford Bridge stadium in
London Wednesday. AP PHOTO
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