Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 19th 2016 Contents A51
Tuesday, January 19, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
MADRID --- Defending champion
Barcelona looks set to be without three
key players --- including Lionel Messi ---
when it travels northwest for its Copa del
Rey quarterfinal match at Athletic Bilbao.
With Luis Suarez suspended, Jordi Alba
sidelined with a right leg injury and Messi
recovering from what Barcelona said was
"discomfort" in his right leg, coach Luis
Enrique will need to shuffle his normal
starting lineup for what will be a rematch
of last year s final.
On paper, Barcelona is the overwhelming
favourite, having humbled Athletic 6-0 in
the league on Sunday and come away the
3-1 winner in last season s final.
However, Messi and Suarez are the main-
stay of Luis Enrique s attack, scoring 48
goals for Barcelona this season, with the
remainder of his forwards --- Neymar, Munir
El Haddadi and Sandro Ramirez --- con-
tributing just 26.
The first leg of this season s encounter
will be in Bilbao on Wednesday, with the
return match at the Camp Nou on Jan. 27.
Messi spent most of yesterday morn-
ing at a Barcelona clinic undergoing
tests after having been substituted
at half-time during Sunday s
match. Barcelona described the
substitution as "a precaution" after
the Argentine forward had com-
plained of "a sore hamstring." After
the tests, a club statement ruled out
a hamstring injury.
Midfielder Sergi Roberto said he hoped
Messi and Alba would recover rapidly, but
added he was willing to play in whatever
position Enrique chose for him.
"We have to be wary of the Athletic club
in the Copa because it will play at home in
front of its fans who are very demanding,"
Here are some things to know about this
week s Copa del Rey quarterfinal matches:
ON COURSE, JUST
Valencia coach Gary Neville s best hope
of winning silverware this season is the
Copa, but he will need to get his squad to
improve in attack and defense. His club is
currently 11th in the league after losing 2-
0 at Real Sociedad and drawing 2-2 against
18th-place Rayo Vallecano.
Neville has described some of his squad s
play as unacceptable and very disappointing.
"In football you have to win and enjoy your-
self, and we didn t show any of that," he
said after Sunday s draw.
Atletico coach Diego Simeone is deter-
mined to focus exclusively on his next target.
"My message is let s not look beyond our
match against Celta," he said after beating
Las Palmas 3-0 on Sunday.
Simeone congratulated Filipe Luis who
opened the scoring and Antoine Griezmann
who netted a brace. He said Griezmann was
attaining a scoring regularity "that speaks
volumes about his quality."
Simeone praised Griezmann s flexibility.
"I won t place him among the best in the
world, simply invite him to carry on improv-
ing," he said. "Apart from his natural talent,
he can play on the right, on the left and
has ended up as a forward."
EMERY WANTS MORE
Coach Unai Emery joined Sevilla three
years ago this month and is keen for his
club to advance to the semifinals of the
Copa, having achieved 58 wins from his 115
matches in charge. "We want our fans to
be able to enjoy a good performance," he
Emery trained a full squad Sunday, includ-
ing 19-year-old Ukrainian winger Maryan
Shved, after a 2-1 league win against Malaga
the previous day.
MADRID---Real Madrid has
trained hard under new coach
Zinedine Zidane and recovered
its enthusiasm following the
departure of Rafa Benitez
according to star forward Cris-
Speaking after Sunday s 5-1
win over Sporting Gijon, Ronal-
do said the results of "a week
of hard work" are visible on the
pitch, with the squad "in good
spirits with Zidane."
Ronaldo, who scored twice,
says Zidane has "a different
concept" of football and "sees
the game differently" to previ-
ous coach, Benitez.
Part of the change comes
from Zidane s insistence on
"keeping possession of the ball
in the opponents half," Ronaldo
With half of the season still
to go, Ronaldo says the team
hopes to reach the end of the
Spanish and Champions leagues
feeling as positive, adding "we
are happy about how things are
Under Zidane, Madrid has
had two five-goal league wins,
with consecutive victories over
Deportivo La Coruna and
"I honestly notice an
improvement in the team s atti-
tude with Zidane s arrival," said
Ronaldo. "The players feel a lit-
tle more empathy for Zidane,
do not ask me why because I
couldn t tell you, that s foot-
Luka Modric said part of the
problem was that Madrid s
squad was not fully physically
fit during the early part of the
"We had a hectic pre-season,"
said Modric. "Flying from Aus-
tralia and China, we traveled
more than we trained."
Liverpool signs Mignolet
to new contract
LIVERPOOL---Liverpool goalkeeper Simon
Mignolet has signed a new long-term contract
with the Premier League club.
No details were given on the new deal, which
follows Mignolet's arrival at Anfield in 2013.
The 27-year-old Belgium international, who is
expected to join his country's squad for this
year's European Championship, has made 122
appearances since then - missing just three
The contract extension comes a week after
Mignolet was criticized by fans and the media
for his performance in a 3-3 home draw against
league leader Arsenal.
Bordeaux fans banned
BORDEAUX---Bordeaux fans have been
banned from attending this weekend's French
league game at Nantes because of the risk of
violence between hooligans.
The top government official in Nantes issued
the stadium ban because of the "important
risks" surrounding the match scheduled for
Saturday at the Stade de La Beaujoire. In a
statement, prefect Henri-Michel Comet also
cites the "terror threat" that is mobilizing
security forces across France following deadly
attacks in Paris last November and does not
allow police agents to be put off from their
Guidolin as head coach
SWANSEA---Swansea has appointed
Francesco Guidolin as its new head coach,
working alongside interim manager Alan Curtis
at the struggling Premier League club.
Both men have contracts until the end of the
season, with Swansea announcing in a
statement yesterday that the 60-year-old
Guidolin "will have the final say on team
Curtis took over as interim manager after
Garry Monk was fired last month.
"Although we recently appointed Alan Curtis
as manager until the end of the campaign, he
was aware and comfortable with the fact that
we were still looking to bring someone in to
assist if we found the right person," Swansea
chairman Huw Jenkins said.
"We believe we have found that person in
Former Bayern president
in early release
MUNICH---A German court says former
Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness has been
approved for early release from prison and will
be freed on February 29.
Hoeness was convicted of tax evasion and
began serving a 3.5 year sentence on June 2,
2014. For about a year Hoeness has benefited
from a work release program under which he
has been working in Bayern's youth department
during the day before returning to the prison in
Augsburg for the night. He has been spending
weekends at home.
The former Germany and Bayern star was
found guilty of evading taxes on €28.5 million
(now $31.04 million).
He stepped down as Bayern president after
his conviction but Bayern officials have not
ruled out his return.
Barcelona could face
Bilbao without Messi
FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi, left, duels for the ball against Espanyol's Alvaro Gonzalez,
during a Copa del Rey match at RCDE stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday. AP PHOTO
Ronaldo says Zidane has raised spirits
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