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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Mourinho expecting tough draw

Inter's Jose Mourinho believes his team deserve a tough draw in the first knockout round of the Champions League.
The Nerazzurri progressed to the last 16 second in Group B, behind winners Panathinaikos, after falling to a 2-1 defeat at Werder Bremen yesterday.
"We deserve to find already in February a great opponent like Barcelona, defending champions Manchester United or Liverpool," said a furious Mourinho.
"We progressed as second but with all respect, there will be a team that has finished second in another group that will meet Panathinaikos just like there will be a team that won their group and will face a strong Inter."
Inter's defeat yesterday marked their third game without a win in Europe's elite club competition after a 3-3 draw with Anorthosis and a 1-0 defeat by Panathinaikos.
Despite just two wins collected in six group games, Mourinho, whose side lead the Serie A standings with a six-point advantage, believes the true Inter will emerge in the new year.
"I am certain that by the end of February we will see the real Inter," he said."It's true that we lost two consecutive games in the competition but against Werder we had to do without several injured players."
Mourinho denied his team took Werder Bremen too lightly.
"We did not underestimate them," he said."But we did underestimate Anorthosis in our 3-3 draw.
"Werder played a great game and without (injured midfielder) Dejan Stankovic, we lose force and intensity in the midfield line."
Inter will find out their next European opponents on December 19.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Ronaldo boost for United

Cristiano Ronaldo looks set to take his place in Manchester United's Champions League clash with Villarreal.

Ronaldo joined in with training on Monday morning. The winger limped off towards the end of United's goalless draw with Aston Villa on Saturday and was considered a major doubt for the match at El Madrigal.

However, he joined in with his team-mates in a session at Carrington on Monday morning, in which Darren Fletcher also played a full part.

The Scotland midfielder missed the Villa clash with a knee injury but now appears ready to travel to Spain.

Dimitar Berbatov, Gary Neville and Danny Welbeck were all absent from training.

Berbatov will miss the trip to Spain with a hamstring injury sustained whilst on international duty for Bulgaria last week.

Neville is still nursing a groin strain picked up in the Carling Cup victory over QPR and is likely to be out for a couple of weeks.

Spain lead after doubles delight

Spain took a 2-1 lead over Argentina in the Davis Cup final on Saturday, and need just one more rubber to to claim the trophy.

Left-handed duo Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco won 5-7 7-5 7-6 (7/5) 6-3 which means the visitors, who started the tie as big underdogs with the injured Rafael Nadal missing from their line-up, need to win only one of Sunday's two singles rubbers to claim the trophy.

Argentina, who brought in David Nalbandian to play alongside Agustin Calleri following his singles win on Friday, drew first blood by taking the first set after Verdasco double-faulted to lose his serve in the 11th game.

But Spain hit back by taking the second, also 7-5, by breaking Nalbandian's delivery in the final game.

A thrilling third set followed and ultimately it was to prove decisive.

Spain seemed in full control with a 5-1 lead, but Argentina fought back much to the delight of the packed crowd in Mar del Plata.

The umpire struggled to keep the fans quiet with captain Alberto Mancini appealing for calm at one stage.

Spain managed to stop the rot to force a tie-break but in it Argentina moved 5-1 ahead only for more drama to unfold.

Suddenly Spain rattled off five points in a row to turn things around and take the 62-minute set for a two-sets-to-one lead.

Argentina looked crushed by the way that tie-break had unfolded and they were soon in big trouble in the fourth set.

Both Argentines lost their serve as Spain moved 5-2 ahead and although Nalbandian and Calleri got one of the breaks back, saving two match points in the process, Nalbandian was broken again as he served to keep the match alive.

Afterwards Lopez, who also won a singles rubber for Spain on Friday, warned his side were not home and hosed yet.

"We're ahead but there's a long way to go yet," he said.

"I wasn't expecting to win yesterday and today. Really being 2-1 ahead with one day to go is a dream."

Speaking about the doubles win, he added: "After Argentina recovered from being 1-5 behind in the third set, it was hard for me to come back to the match.

"But with some luck, we won the set."

Like Lopez, Spain captain Emilio Sanchez remains cautious ahead of Sunday's reverse singles.

He said: "We're ahead, we're only one point away from the victory. But there are no favourites here."

Sunday's singles matches are due to see Juan Martin Del Potro take on David Ferrer before Nalbandian meets Lopez.

However, the captains could yet make changes with Del Potro in particular struggling with injury.

Argentina team doctor Diego Rivas explained: "Del Potro underwent several tests and he doesn't have a muscular injury, only pain.

"We'll do everything possible to have him ready for Sunday."

Only five times in the competition's 108-year history has a side come from 2-1 down in the final to claim the cup, the last occasion being Russia's victory over France in 2002.


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Federer and Nadal pull out

The Paris Masters was hit with a double setback as both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer withdrew because of injury.

Second seed Federer, who was due to play James Blake in the evening in the third of the day's quarter-finals, was the first to pull out citing a back injury.
Organisers would have then looked on in horror as Nadal, the top seed, called in his trainer when 4-1 down to Nikolay Davydenko in his last-eight match. The Spaniard attempted to play on but after losing the next two games, and therefore the set, to his Russian opponent, he chose to quit. Nadal later admitted he had been hampered by a knee injury.
It means 11th seed Blake advances through to the semi-finals where he will play Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who came from behind to beat Andy Roddick 5-7 6-4 7-6 (7/3) in the evening match.
Davydenko, the sixth seed, will take on David Nalbandian in the first semi-final on Saturday after the Argentinian ousted Andy Murray in a high-quality match on Centre Court first up on Friday.
Federer announced he was pulling out to avoid aggravating a back injury he first suffered during his second-round victory over Robin Soderling.
"My back has been stiff for the last few days," he said.
"The treatment I had last night (Thursday) didn't do anything. So on precaution and because I cannot be at 100%, I've taken the difficult decision not to play."


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