Month: July 2016

Diego Simeone talks Champions League grief and Griezmann

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Diego Simeone has finally revealed his thoughts on Atletico’s defeat at the hands of Real Madrid in the Champions League Final in May.

For the second time in three seasons, Atletico Madrid conceded the European title to their neigbours. The defeat has prompted speculation on Simeone’s future with the club.

Although the Argentinian has now confirmed that he will stay with the club, he reflects on the grievance as he leads his club in their upcoming preseason match against Tottenham Hotspur in Melbourne.

“I can’t explain what I thought after losing in Milan in the short time I have,” he confessed to a media conference. “But now I am strong, enthusiastic, excited and growing in every training session.”

“I never spoke with the feeling I would leave Atletico. It’s very difficult to explain what I felt. For me it was a death, and I needed to grieve. And I did it where I was.”

“Now, I’m ready for whatever comes.”

Simeone had also backed club top scorer Antoine Griezmann to be among the final three nominees in 2017’s Ballon D’Or awards.

Antoine Griezmann had produced stellar performances for both Atletico Madrid and France this season.

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Griezmann, 25, had failed to lift any silverware in the 2015-16 season and at the European Championships. However, he finished strong and scored six goals for France in the home nation’s campaign up to the final, winning the Golden Boot of the international tournament.

“I’ve no doubt he should be in the final three,” Simeone said. “He’s one of the three best players in Europe and a candidate for the Ballon D’Or. He didn’t win any titles, but he scored goals and was always decisive.”

“Hopefully he will have the chance to win the Ballon D’Or.”

Sakho’s future in doubt after being sent home from US tour

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Mamadou Sakho’s future is in doubt after his preseason tour with Liverpool in the US was cut short by club manager Jurgen Klopp.

Sakho, 26, was booked on the same flight to Heathrow from San Francisco on Monday as the defender Brad Smith, who is returning to undergo a medical before a proposed £6m transfer to Bournemouth.

However, Liverpool has since announced that his return was for him to continue his rehabilitation from an Achilles injury in Melwood.

The French international was also the former captain of French Ligue Champions Paris Saint-Germain before his £19m move to the Merseyside club. Sakho has not played any pre-season friendlies and is likely to miss the start of the new Premier League season because of his injury problem.

However, there were also rumours of misdemeanors around the training camp, which caused concern for Klopp and is understood to be a factor behind the German’s decision to remove Sakho from the squad.

It has also emerged in a club video that that Sakho arrived late for the flight to the US. The clip, filmed on the team’s tour of Alcatraz Island in San Francisco, saw Sakho interrupting Klopp during an interview, asking: “Just one question. How long do you think you can live here?”

The 49-year-old replied: “I don’t have to think about that – you should. Only one of us turned up late for departure from Liverpool. It was you.”

But Klopp had also added light-heartedly of the infmaous prison island, “We’re here because we want to leave Mama(dou) here.”

Sakho had not played for Liverpool since 20 April after UEFA accused him of a failed drug test.

The case was eventually dismissed, but he currently seeks legal over UEFA’s actions; it cost him a place in the Europa League final and in the France squad for the European Championship on home soil.

 

Guardiola dismisses notion of Mourinho handshake snub

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Manchester City’s newly appointed manager Pep Guardiola said that he will have no problem shaking Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho’s hand at Monday’s pre-season derby in China.

Both Premier League club bosses are set to meet for the second time since their fractious time in charge of Barcelona and Real Madrid ended in 2012.

Asked if he will shake Mourinho’s hand, Guardiola replied: “We are polite guys – why not? Why should we not shake hands? No reason why. He will want to win and so will I, that’s all.”

However, Pep Guardiola had been known to snub handshakes in the past. When he was approached by Cristiano Ronaldo for a handshake in the 2013 Ballon D’Or gala, the Spaniard stared for a moment before turning away, leaving the Portuguese’s hand hanging in the air and the player bemused.

But both Mourinho and Guardiola took common ground over playing conditions in Beijing’s bird nest stadium.

“The most important thing is that we get no injuries [on Monday],” said Guardiola. “We have not seen the pitch but the information is that it is not in good condition.”

Mourinho is on board with the notion.

“A good result means going home without any injuries,” he said. “I just wish there are no problems in the match and everyone goes home without injuries. If we manage to do that, then that’s fine.”

Update: The International Champions Cupclash between both Manchester clubs has been cancelled following torrential rain; the pitch at the Bird’s Nest stadium has been deemed unplayable.

“Due to recent weather events, tournament organisers and participating clubs have decided to cancel tonight’s International Champions Cup game,” United said in a statement.