Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 20th 2014 Contents A48
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, March 20, 2014
Flying high in the Italian league, Juventus
and Napoli aren t in such great positions in
the Europa League going into the second
legs of their last-16 matches today.
Juventus, which is top of Serie A and arguably
the biggest name left in Europe s second-tier
competition, was held 1-1 at home by Fiorentina
in the first leg while Napoli has to overturn
a 1-0 deficit to Porto.
Benfica, Lyon, Valencia and Real Betis
claimed convincing first-leg wins and will be
confident of advancing to the quarterfinals.
Here are some things to know about today s
games in the Europa League:
MARIO AND MERKEL
Fiorentina striker Mario Gomez has been
at the center of attention after scoring a late
equalizer in a 1-1 first-leg draw with domestic
The Germany forward also notched his first
Serie A goal after missing five months with
a left knee injury in a 3-1 win over Chievo
Verona on Sunday.
Then, on Monday, new Italian Premier Mat-
teo Renzi, a Florentine and avowed Fiorentina
fan, presented an autographed Gomez shirt to
German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a meeting
Gomez will again anchor Fiorentina s attack
in Thursday s return leg.
Juventus, meanwhile, will welcome the
return of Carlos Tevez, Serie A s top scorer,
after a minor injury. In Juve s defense, center
back Andrea Barzagli has been ruled out for
three weeks with an injured left calf.
JESUS VS. SHERWOOD
Ding, ding---Round 2.
Benfica coach Jorge Jesus and Tottenham
manager Tim Sherwood were engaged in a
touchline spat during their sides first leg at
White Hart Lane---and it clearly left a nasty
taste in Sherwood s mouth.
After Benfica scored its third goal in a 3-
1 win, Jesus---one of the most volatile characters
in European football --- turned to Sherwood
and held up three fingers in a goading cele-
bration. Sherwood squared up to his coun-
terpart and refused to shake hands after the
"I thought his team were very good, got a
lot of class," Sherwood said. "It s a pity he
doesn t." Sherwood s mood hardly improved
on Sunday when Spurs lost 1-0 at home to
fierce rival Arsenal, a third defeat in eight days
that virtually knocked his team out of con-
tention for a top-four finish and a place in
next season s Champions League.
Benfica is the big favorite to advance, having
not lost any of its 16 home matches in the
Europa League since the competition was
rebranded in 2009.
BETIS EYES SEVILLA LINING
With relegation looking very likely, Real
Betis would at least feel some satisfaction from
this season if it holds on to eliminate Sevilla
from the Europa League.
Betis hosts its crosstown rival holding a 2-
0 advantage following the first leg in a pas-
sionate derby that had lost some of its edge
over recent seasons.
Betis surprise victory away to open the
two-legged series comes with the team lan-
guishing in last place in the Spanish league---
nine points from safety---but on its best run
of the season after going five games unbeaten
in all competitions.
LEAGUE STRUGGLE, CUP DOUBLE?
With a Champions League place slipping
further away as the weeks go by, Lyon s sights
are better off set on the cup competitions.
Lyon is in fifth place in the French league
and eight points behind third-place Lille with
only nine games to play. But coach Remi Garde s
side has been more consistent in the cups and
is still on course for a French League Cup-
Europa League double.
Lyon will take on Paris Saint-Germain in
the League Cup final next month and looks
certain to reach the last eight in Europe since
it holds a comfortable 4-1 lead against Czech
side Viktoria Plzen.
MUNICH---Arjen Robben extended his contract with
Champions League titleholder Bayern Munich
yesterday to 2017.
Robben's contract was to expire in June after five
seasons. The Netherlands winger will stay with
Bayern for another three seasons.
Robben scored the deciding goal in the 2-1 win over
Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League final
last season, when Bayern completed its first treble by
also taking the Bundesliga and German Cup.
Robben has 55 goals and 36 assists in 98
Bundesliga matches for Bayern.
Simunic loses World Cup ban appeal
ZURICH---Croatia defender Josip Simunic has lost
his appeal against a ten-match ban which forces him
to miss the World Cup for leading fans in a pro-Nazi
Fifa says its appeal panel upheld the original verdict
imposed on Simunic in December.
Simunic can appeal to the Court of Arbitration for
Sport before Croatia opens the World Cup against
host Brazil on June 12.
The 36-year-old Australia-born player was expected
to play at his third World Cup after Croatia beat
Iceland in a playoff in November.
Cherundolo ends career
due to knee problems
HANNOVER---Hannover's United States defender
Steve Cherundolo is ending his career immediately
because of persistent knee problems.
Cherundolo told reporters yesterday that several
knee injuries in the last 15 months made it impossible
to continue his playing career and that he was moving
into a coaching role.
The 35-year-old American played a club-record 302
Bundesliga games for Hannover and took part in
three World Cups for the United States.
Cherundolo had two operations on his left knee last
year and made only two appearances for Hannover
Europa eyes on Juve, Napoli
Napoli's Henrique Buss, second right,
challenges for a high ball with FC Porto's
Jackson Martinez, centre, and Maicon
Roque, from Brazil, during their Europa
League round of 16, first leg soccer match
at the Dragao stadium, in Porto, Portugal,
last Thursday. Jackson scored the only goal
in Porto's 1-0 victory. (AP PHOTO)
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