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Jumat, 22 Maret 2013

Bayern-Juventus will be like a Champions League final, says Rummenigge

The Bavarian chief is of the opinion that the two European giants are set for a tough encounter in the last eight of the competition

Sport News Flash 2013  -  Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge believes that the club’s Champions League quarterfinal clash with Juventus is the sort of match which would befit the final.
The two European giants have been drawn against each other having knocked out Arsenal and Celtic respectively in the last 16.
Rummenigge, a former Bayern and Inter star, expressed his opinion that it will be a difficult tie for the Bavarians but one that will be entertaining due to the quality of the two sides.
"It will be a tough game for us, and for them it will be an open meeting," he told Sky Sport 24. "There were weaker teams that Juventus could have met, but also weaker teams that Bayern [could have met].
"It's a possible final. There is no expectation in Munich but I think there is also none in Turin. Anyway it will be an interesting round between two teams of the highest level."
The last time the pair clashed in the Champions League was in 2009, when FCB emerged 4-1 victors away from home in a group stage game.
The other three quarter-final fixtures to look forward to in early April are Real Madrid-Galatasaray, Barcelona-Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund-Malaga.

Buffon: Balotelli has the right attitude for Italy

The veteran goalkeeper has hailed the AC Milan star's positive attitude and feels he proved himself worthy of the Italy jersey.

Sport News Flash 2013  -  Gianluigi Buffon has nothing but praise for Italy teammate Mario Balotelli's performance in Thursday's 2-2 friendly draw against Brazil.

The Azzurri fell two goals behind before the break, but a second-half strike from the 22-year-old Balotelli helped them to a share of the spoils, and the goalkeeper was impressed with the his positive attitude as well as his fine goal.

"Balotelli was superb. I would also have said that if he hadn't scored the equalizer," Buffon told reporters. "The way he sacrificed himself for the team and worked very hard was a great thing to see. 

"For me, Balotelli has shown that he deserves the respect of his teammates with this performance. He showed that he has the attitude needed for the national team."

Italy now turns its focus to Tuesday's World Cup qualifier at Malta. The Azzurri currently top their qualifying group with 10 points from four games, while Malta has yet to record a point in three matches.

Owen: I felt most at home at Liverpool

The veteran striker has reflected on his career following the announcement of his retirement at the end of the season, revealing he enjoyed his time with the Reds the most.

Sport News Flash 2013  -  Retiring Stoke City striker Michael Owen has revealed that he felt most at home during his time with boyhood club Liverpool.

The 33-year-old, who has netted 222 club goals during spells with the likes Manchester United and Real Madrid, announced this week that he will call time on his career at the end of the current campaign having been blighted by injury in recent years.

And, in a blog post on his personal website following the announcement of his retirement, Owen has admitted that he holds the most affection for the club where it all started.

"It was at Liverpool where I felt most at home," he wrote.

The Chester-born forward went on to express regret over his failure to feature regularly for Stoke since moving to the club over the summer.

"I signed for Stoke with every intention of playing more football than in recent seasons," Owen continued. "It hasn't transpired. Yes, I've had a couple of small muscle injuries but it would be wrong to blame my lack of action on fitness."

Owen also underlined his desire to go into player representation after hanging up his boots at the end of the season.

"The representation of players is an area I believe I can excel in," Owen mentioned. "I propose to set up Michael Owen Management Limited focusing on guiding young players through their careers and offering them advice at every juncture of what can be a career full of pitfalls."

The former England international concluded by highlighting his 1998 World Cup goal against Argentina and his eventual loss of pace as the most prominent moments of his career.

"The first is a sense of pride at not only what I achieved but how I achieved it," he said. "Winning virtually every trophy at club level is the stuff of dreams but in amongst all that there were some incredible days. Making my England debut having just turned 18 before heading to the World Cup where I would score 'That Goal'."

He added, "The second emotion that lives with me is a sense of 'what might have been' had injuries not robbed me of my most lethal weapon – speed."

I would never turn my back on England, says Gerrard

In the wake of Rio Ferdinand rejecting the chance to represent the Three Lions, the captain has said an international call-up is "the pinnacle" of a player's career.

Sport News Flash 2013  -  England captain Steven Gerrard has insisted he will never reject an international call-up as it is "the pinnacle" of a soccer player's career.

Rio Ferdinand recently earned a recalled to the Three Lion after nearly two years of being overlooked by Roy Hodgson, only to pull out of the squad after fears his specific training and medical requirements could not be fulfilled while on international duty.

But Gerrard, who has played every single minute of Liverpool's Premier League campaign thus far, says he is keen to represent his country as much as possible.

"Playing for England is the pinnacle of everyone's career," Gerrard told reporters. "If I'm not playing [against San Marino] I'll be very disappointed, which shows what it means to me.

"First of all, I don't know if Rio has turned his back on it. I don't know the details from his side. But that's what I want to achieve - help take this team to a World Cup in Brazil.

"At my age, there's no better stage for a footballer to play on. Especially after beating Brazil. On our day, with a full-strength squad, we're capable of beating the best."

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson had previously expressed his concerns over Ferdinand's long-term back injury and increased recuperation period due to his age.

Gerrard, however, says his own regime is suited to international soccer and has no concerns over risking his fitness.

He continued: "I'm not tired, I'm fine. My body's good, I'm good. I have my own personal program I stick to, but that's the same as any other player - two days of recovery after a game, taking it easy, so I'm fine."

Lampard: MLS move would not end my England career

The 34-year-old is adamant a summer move to the United States would not preclude him from reaching 100 international caps, though he plans to speak with Roy Hodgson.

Sport News Flash 2013  - Frank Lampard insists a summer move to MLS would not necessarily spell the end of hisEngland career.

Lampard has yet to agree an extension to his current Chelsea contract, which expires this summer, and the  LA Galaxy have been widely touted as the likeliest destination should he decide to move on. Following the Three Lions' 2-1 win over Brazil last month, boss Roy Hodgson admitted it would "complicate things" if Lampard moved across the Atlantic, but the 34-year-old is convinced his international career could continue.

“England will always be a big part of any decision I make," he told reporters. “While I’m available for England - and I certainly am now and in the future - I want to do my best to try to put myself in the squad. I don’t think it rules out anything, including America.

"I haven’t had the conversation with the manager about it. I’ve seen players get picked before, playing all over the world. If there’s ever a time, whenever it is, where there’s an option of going outside Europe, I’m sure me and Roy would have the conversation about that."

The midfielder also admitted that he would like to play a part in England's squad in Brazil if he continues to play well.

“I wouldn’t set my sights past Brazil, but if I’m playing and in good enough form, I’d like to be included," he said.

"I’ll always try to give my all and try to show my form. If that gets me in there, I’ll be quite happy.”

Lampard has been capped 94 times by England, and admits he is driven on by the prospect of joining teammate Ashley Cole and Liverpool star Steven Gerrard among England's group of centurions.

“I won’t lie to you, I watched Steven and Ashley do it, deservedly so, and reach 100 caps and it’s a fantastic achievement," he added. “I grew up on tales of Bobby Moore from my dad. He’s the ultimate England player. So, if I could get into the bracket of 100 caps, I’d be very proud.

“I sometimes look at the scoring list as well. I remember looking at the list a few years back and seeing David Platt and Bryan Robson, people I really respect, and the caps and goal record they had. Now I have crept up on them and thought about it, so I’m pleased to be amongst those names. I’ll try and get there.”

De Gea would reject Barcelona approach

The 22-year-old is reportedly being considered by the Spanish giant as it starts its search for Victor Valdes' replacement, but he insists he is happy in England.

Sport News Flash 2013  -  Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea claims he would reject any approach fromBarcelona in order to stay and win trophies at Old Trafford.

The 22-year-old Spaniard has overcome some inconsistent form at the start of his Old Trafford career with Barcelona reportedly keen on him after it was made clear that Victor Valdes will leave the club at the end of next season. However, De Gea has reiterated his desire to stay in Manchester for the time being.

"I know things have been said and written but I have a contract. I'm very well in Manchester," De Gea told reporters. "It is not just my name that appears. At Barca, Valdes is still the keeper and Madrid is my city, one day I'd like to return.

"But now I hope to stay in Manchester for a long time and win a lot of titles."

The current Spain Under-21's captain has highlighted the influence Sir Alex Ferguson had on his improved play, calling the manager a 'father' figure at the club.

"Sir Alex is more than a manager. He controls everything in the team. He's a father for all those who come to the club. For that he is the best," De Gea added. "A footballer has to get used to good and bad words.

"At times things are said that don't make a lot of sense and it is part of the job to know how to live with that. The best thing is to know who you are always."

Meanwhile, De Gea says that without Nani's red card in the Champions League tie against Real Madrid, Manchester United would be in the quarterfinals of the cup.

He continued: "Sir Alex has a lot of character and on that day he was very angry, although deep down what he felt more was pride for his team.

"We were superior to Madrid and deserved more but there were situations - unfair decisions - and we were knocked out.

"Football is like that and in that type of game details leave you knocked out. The expulsion of Nani marked the game and the tie. Without that red card it would be Manchester United in the quarterfinals."