Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 15th 2013 Contents A45
Wednesday, May 15, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
AMSTERDAM---Chelsea will face Benfica
in today s Europa League final without Eden
Hazard after the gifted Belgium playmaker
failed to recover in time from a hamstring
By comparison, Benfica only has to deal
with hurt pride after it lost the Portuguese
league lead to archrival FC Porto last weekend.
If anything, Hazard s absence will diminish
Chelsea s favouritism in a clash between two
of European football s most famous clubs.
After winning the Champions League title
last year, Chelsea became the first holder to
get knocked out in the group stage the fol-
lowing season, and goalkeeper Petr Cech said
"that deception drove us through the cam-
paign to get here."
One of the world s wealthiest clubs now
has to hope hoisting UEFA s second most
important club trophy will ease the pain of
a disappointing season for the London club.
The season, said Chelsea midfielder Frank
Lampard, "will be defined by how we get on
tomorrow. You cannot have it your own way
John Terry and Hazard picked up injuries
Sunday in Chelsea s Premier League win over
Aston Villa, but the captain could still be fit
for the game, coach Rafa Benitez said.
"We will try and see how he feels," said
the coach, who will leave the club at the end
of the season.
For Hazard, though, the match came too
soon. The Belgian limped off in stoppage
time of the Villa game favoring his hamstring.
Hazard is steadily turning into Chelsea s most
creative player, and his speed and passing
skills will be sorely missed against Benfica.
"Hazard will not be available," said Benitez,
noting hamstrings are usually slow to heal.
Coach Jorge Jesus insisted the bad feelings
from the weekend game had already evap-
orated and all the focus is on Benfica s biggest
match in 23 years.
"A Portuguese league game has nothing
to do with the final of the Europa League,"
Jesus said. In an almost symbolic gesture,
Jesus fell to his knees when Porto scored in
injury time last weekend for a 2-1 come-
On top of the setback, it has also been
increasingly evident that the Lisbon-based
players are showing the wear of a draining
season which, like Chelsea, included a group-
stage exit from the Champions League.
But just the chance of holding a European
cup aloft is putting the fire back in players.
Chelsea comes into the final on an eight-
match unbeaten run and has a number of
defensive options who can fill in for Terry ---
including Brazil international David Luiz, who
transferred from Benfica two years ago.
Terry underwent a fitness test during
Chelsea s evening training session at Ams-
terdam ArenA, home of Ajax, and was jogging
slowly with just a physiotherapist for company.
But there appeared to be no limping due to
the ankle he injured.
For Benfica coach Jorge Jesus, his concerns
have more to do with mental damage than
Benfica s heyday was in the 1960s when
it reached five European Champions Cup
finals. The last one it won, in 1962 against
Real Madrid, was in Amsterdam.
It has lost six finals on the trot since then,
the last one in 1990, meaning it has gone 23
years without a final.
By comparison, Chelsea s taste of victory
is still fresh, having beaten Bayern Munich
on penalties in last year s Champions League
MADRID---Lionel Messi could be done for
the season after he was ruled out for up
to three weeks because of his nagging ham-
string injury, meaning he s set to fall short
of breaking his own Spanish league scoring
Barcelona said yesterday that the four-
time Fifa player of the year has re-aggravated
the right hamstring strain that has limited
him for the last six weeks and only a quick-
er-than-expected return to fitness would
see him play again for the Spanish team
this season. Barcelona said Messi will be
sidelined for two to three weeks, with the
team s last---and meaningless---league game
against Malaga scheduled for June 1.
Barcelona has already clinched the league
title with three games left, but Messi is four
goals short of matching his own record of
50 goals that he set last year. But with 46
league goals, eight in the Champions League
and four in the Copa del Rey, his grip on
the European Golden Shoe award is likely
to remain unchallenged.
The other two matches which Messi is
set to miss are against Valladolid and the
Catalan derby against Espanyol.
Messi first injured his hamstring on April
2 in the first leg of the Champions League
quarterfinal against Paris Saint-Germain,
and re-aggravated the injury in Sunday s
2-1 win at Atletico Madrid.
The win over Atletico was only the fifth
league game this season in which Messi
played but failed to score---having netted in
21 consecutive previous appearances. (AP)
out of Europa final
Injured Messi could be done for season
PARIS---A ceremony at City Hall today to cel-
ebrate Paris Saint-Germain s league title was
cancelled after rioting marred festivities in the
centre of the French capital, and France s Interior
Minister responded to the public outcry by calling
a top-level meeting to discuss what went wrong.
PSG players had been scheduled to raise the
championship trophy aloft from City Hall s balcony
this evening, but those plans were scrapped yes-
terday, the Paris mayor s office said.
"The day after the riots that sabotaged this great
celebration of PSG s coronation, damaged Paris
and deeply hurt Parisians, I would like to express
my disgust and anger with regards to the surge of
violence that several hundred thugs were responsible
for," Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe said. "I ask the
Interior Minister to step up the fight against this
time type of phenomenon outside of the Parc des
Princes stadium. Thugs won t have the last word
Interior Minister Manuel Valls responded by
summoning representatives from PSG, the French
football league, the police department, the mayor s
office, and anti-hooliganism officials for a meeting
"I obviously assume my part of responsibility
in this fiasco," French league president Frederic
Thiriez said in a statement, referring to the fact
that the LFP had given the go-ahead for the pres-
entation to be held at the landmark Trocadero
plaza, rather than at the far more secure Parc des
Princes stadium this coming Saturday against
LONDON---Fifa President Sepp Blatter has crit-
icised Italian football authorities for the "unac-
ceptable" decision to only fine Roma 50,000 euros
($64,865) after their fans racially abused AC Milan
Play was stopped for almost two minutes during
the second half of Sunday s match when visiting
Roma supporters would not stop abusing Milan
players Mario Balotelli and Kevin-Prince Boateng,
who are black.
Warnings issued over the stadium speaker system
went unheeded, leading to a Serie A match being
suspended due to racism for the first time.
"Small fines for racist abuse (are) unacceptable,"
Blatter wrote yesterday on Twitter.
Blatter s willingness to tackle racism in football
was previously questioned, and he was forced to
apologize in 2011 for saying incidents between
players on the field should be settled by a handshake.
But Blatter has put renewed vigor into the fight
against racism since Boateng led his teammates off
the field when he was racially abused during a
friendly against an Italian fourth-tier team in Jan-
"What is surprising and is not understandable
for me, is that the disciplinary committee of the
Italian Football Federation has taken a decision, not
even 24 hours after the event, by just imposing a
fine," Blatter said Tuesday on FIFA s Web site. "They
have not made any investigation of what happened.
And just to give a pecuniary sanction is not valid,
that is not acceptable. You will always find money.
"What is 50,000 euros for such an incident?
I m not happy and I will call the Italian federation.
That s not a way to deal with such matters."
The Boateng incident in January following a spate
of racial-abuse cases in England prompted Blatter
to establish a task force to propose stricter sanctions.
Chelsea's John Terry grimaces as he warms
up during a training ahead of Wednesday's
Europa League final match against Chelsea
at Arena stadium in Amsterdam,
Netherlands, yesterday. Minutes later
Terry walked off the pitch. AP PHOTO
FC Barcelona players celebrate their victory after winning the Spanish league football title, during a bus tour through Barcelona city,
Spain, Monday. AP PHOTO
tiny Roma fine
for fan racism
Mayor cancels PSG
City Hall celebrations
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