Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 28th 2015 Contents A60
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Friday, August 28, 2015
MONACO---Barcelona was handed a
favourable start to its title defense with Bayer
Leverkusen, Roma and BATE Borisov when
the Champions League groups were drawn
Lionel Messi scored five of his Champions
League record 77 goals against Leverkusen
when Barcelona won 7--1 in a last-16 match
Real Madrid was placed in a tougher group
with Shakhtar Donetsk and Zlatan Ibrahi-
movic s current and first clubs, Paris Saint-
Germain and Malmo.
Europe s four highest-ranked leagues meet
in the group of Juventus, Manchester City,
Sevilla and Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Manchester United returns after a one-
year absence against PSV Eindhoven---the
lowest-ranked of the eight top-seeded clubs---
plus CSKA Moscow and Wolfsburg.
Chelsea was grouped with coach Jose Mour-
inho s old club Porto, which he guided to the
title in 2004 immediately before starting his
first spell at Stamford Bridge. Dynamo Kiev
and Maccabi Tel Aviv complete the group.
Mourinho aims to become the first coach
to win Europe s premier club title with three
different clubs, after Porto and Inter Milan
Bayern Munich will again face Arsenal,
which it eliminated at the last-16 stage in
2013 and 2014, plus Olympiakos and Dinamo
The trip up to six time zones east to face
newcomer Astana in Kazakhstan went to Ben-
fica, Atletico Madrid and Galatasaray.
With UEFA separating Russian and Ukrain-
ian teams in the draw, top-seeded Zenit St.
Petersburg was grouped with Valencia, Lyon
and Gent. The champion of Belgium is the
second club making its debut at the elite level.
The eight groups begin six rounds of play
on September 15.
The top two in each group advance to the
last-16 knockout round which begins in Feb-
MONACO---Lionel Messi added
another individual trophy to his col-
lection yesterday, being voted UEFA s
Best Player in Europe for last season.
The Barcelona star beat Luis Suarez,
his team-mate at the Champions
League winner, and Real Madrid s Cris-
tiano Ronaldo in a Europe-wide poll
Messi, the four-time Fifa world play-
er of the year, got the UEFA honour
after a season-long duel with Ronaldo
for the Champions League scoring
record. Both resume this season on 77
Suarez, who scored the decisive sec-
ond goal in the 3--1 final win over
Juventus in June, reached the shortlist
despite starting his season in late-
October. The Uruguay forward served
a Fifa ban for biting at the 2014 World
Launched in 2011, the UEFA award
previously went to Messi, Andres Ini-
esta, Franck Ribery and Ronaldo.
Celia Sasic, the German star forward
of Women s Champions League winner
Frankfurt, received the women s award
from UEFA President Michel Platini.
Mario Balotelli claims manager
Brendan Rodgers tactics con-
tributed to his woeful spell at Liv-
The 25-year-old striker has
returned to AC Milan on loan a year
after leaving the San Siro in a last-
minute £16 million deal which
Rodgers admitted at the time was a
It failed spectacularly, with the
Italy international scoring just four
goals in 28 appearances and only
one of those coming in the Premier
Balotelli was criticised for his atti-
tude and lack of work-rate but he
said Rodgers tactics made it difficult
"I must accept my faults but the
formation chosen by Rodgers was
not suited to my characteristics," he
told Gazetta dello Sport.
"At the beginning I missed several
easy chances, then I had fewer
chances to score, a bit of bad luck,
injuries. A mess of things."
Balotelli quickly fell out of favour
and after being left out of the pre-
season tour Rodgers made it clear
to him he no longer had a future at
the club, forcing him to train away
from the rest of the squad with other
unwanted players Fabio Borini and
Numerous stories have subse-
quently emerged regarding the Ital-
ian s behaviour while on Merseyside
but Balotelli insists he did little
"I never complained, I accepted
the decisions of the manager and I
always behaved like a professional,"
"The professional Mario didn t
just land here in Milan, even at Liv-
erpool my behaviour and lifestyle
"Over the last year there was never
a problem with my private life.
"I may have put pictures from
restaurants on Instagram but that
does not mean I did not train, even
though I was not playing."
Partly as a result of his colourful
background at a number of clubs---
his antics at Manchester City became
the stuff of urban legend---it has
been reported Milan have inserted
a number of good behaviour clauses
into his loan contract, including
details about his haircut and general
Balotelli said he had no problem
with the strict rules enforced by
coach Sinisa Mihajlovic and felt he
owed his new manager a debt of
"I have been asked to tone down
my look, to follow Milan s style, and
I will follow that without trouble,"
"I have had this haircut for a long
time, I won t take it too far.
"My problem has never been my
quality but my character. There are
always a lot of voices surrounding
me, every aspect of me is amplified.
"Rightly so he wanted to look into
my eyes, to understand whether I
had the right motivation.
"[I told him] that I understood
my errors, that if he gave me this
chance I would not disappoint him,
ate problems, that I will accept all
of his decisions.
"He looks at the man, not just
the player. He showed himself by
taking me back. I have a huge debt
to repay him.
"I am restarting from zero. I know
that I can t make any mistakes, I
can t expect anything and I must
win everything back.
"I am no longer a child and I have
already thrown away too many
Balotelli completes Milan loan
Messi is best player
in Europe again
UEFA President Michel Platini, right, gives the trophy for best player of the year to Barcelona's
Lionel Messi of Argentina, during the UEFA Champions League draw at the Grimaldi Forum, in
Francfort's Celia Sasic, holds her trophy after winning
the woman's best player of the year trophy during the
UEFA Champions League draw at the Grimaldi Forum,
in Monaco, yesterday. AP PHOTOS
Group A: Paris Saint-Germain (France), Real
Madrid (Spain), Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine),
Group B: PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands),
Manchester United (England), CSKA
Moscow (Russia), Wolfsburg (Germany).
Group C: Benfica (Portugal), Atletico Madrid
(Spain), Galatasaray (Turkey), Astana
Group D: Juventus (Italy), Manchester City
(England), Sevilla (Spain), Borussia
Group E: Barcelona (Spain), Bayer
Leverkusen (Germany), Roma (Italy), BATE
Group F: Bayern Munich (Germany), Arsenal
(England), Olympiakos (Greece), Dinamo
Group G: Chelsea (England), Porto
(Portugal), Dynamo Kiev (Ukraine), Maccabi
Tel Aviv (Israel).
Group H: Zenit St. Petersburg (Russia),
Valencia (Spain), Lyon (France), Gent
Former Brazilian player Juliano Belletti
shows the name of Real Madrid, who will
play in Group A, during the UEFA Champions
League draw at the Grimaldi Forum, in
Monaco, yesterday. AP PHOTO
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