Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Headlines

Messi ban adds to Barca pressure

MADRID, Spain, March 2 – Barcelona must live without the inspirational presence of Lionel Messi when they tackle Sporting Gijon on Saturday as the Argentine superstar serves his first La Liga suspension.

Messi was booked in last weekend’s 2-1 win at Atletico Madrid, his fifth yellow card of the campaign.

His absence will be a huge blow to Barcelona, who trail Real Madrid by 10 points in the title race, as his value was shown in midweek when he smashed a wonderful hat-trick in Argentina’s 3-1 friendly win in Switzerland.

Real Madrid, who face Espanyol on Sunday, also have their own worries with the club facing more speculation over the future of coach Jose Mourinho.

The colourful Portuguese was spotted in London in midweek, fuelling rumours of a return to the English Premier League next season.

While some media reports say the trip was to purchase a property in the British capital, Spanish newspaper Marca claimed this is for Mourinho’s own investment purposes and not a signal that he will be coaching in London next season.

Espanyol will provide another stern test of Madrid’s dominance in La Liga.

Currently sitting eighth, just two points from a Champions League place, the Barcelona-based club have their own objectives.

“I won there with Seville and I think we can do it again. It was a nice feeling, very intense and difficult but I think we can repeat that if we stick to our game,” said midfielder Koffi Romaric.

“We want the points for our own goals, not to do Barca a favour.”

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Portuguese international Fabio Coentrao joined Madrid’s injury list when he pulled up with a muscle problem in his country’s friendly with Poland on Wednesday.

He will be out for three weeks and joins Angel Di Maria and Karim Benzema, both also out for similar periods with muscular injuries.

Although Madrid can welcome back Turkish stars Nuri Sahin and Hamit Altintop into their ranks they will have to do without the services of central defender Pepe who is suspended.

Barca’s opponents Sporting Gijon are six points from safety in La Liga’s penultimate position but have turned a corner since ex-Spain manager Javier Clemente has taken over.

Two draws in two games under the new coach have halted a sequence of one win in seven for the north coast club.

With only 14 games to go Barca can’t afford to drop any more points in their pursuit of Madrid, with a home fixture to come against the leaders in late April.

One player who will be looking for a good performance against Sporting is Pedro Rodriguez, who was left out of Spain’s squad for the 5-0 victory over Venezuela in midweek.

“All players want to go to Euro 2012, I hope I can too but it is going to be difficult, they played great the other day but we’ll see what happens,” he said.

“To win the league is tough because 10 points is a big gap, but we are not going to give up.”

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

One player who could be going to Euro 2012 is Valencia forward Roberto Soldado who grabbed a hat-trick in Spain’s victory on his return for ‘La Roja’.

His side sit third and visit Granada on Sunday while the battle behind them for fourth position and a Champions League berth is hotting up.

Seven clubs are separated by three points with fourth placed Levante entertaining Betis on Monday and Athletic Bilbao, currently fifth, facing a Basque derby against Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Sevilla and Atletico Madrid are both three points behind Levante and meet on Saturday in a showdown neither team can afford to lose.

Saturday

Mallorca v Osasuna (1700 GMT), Getafe v Malaga (1700 GMT), Rayo Vallecano v Racing Santander (1700 GMT), Barcelona v Sporting Gijon (1900 GMT), Sevilla v Atletico Madrid (2100 GMT)

Sunday

Zaragoza v Villarreal (1100 GMT), Atletic Bilbao v Real Sociedad (1500 GMT), Granada v Valencia (1700 GMT), Real Madrid v Espanyol (2030 GMT)

Monday

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Levante v Real Betis (2000 GMT)

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Advertisement

More on Capital Sports

Football

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 25 – There is light at the end of the tunnel. After failed promises over the last three years since its...

Athletics

NAIROBI, Kenya, June 8 – Olympic Champion Caster Semenya and wife Violet Raseboya have hinted that they might be expecting a baby in a...

NFL

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 13 – Kenya’s history making Daniel Adongo, the first Kenyan to play in America’s National Football League (NFL), is now living...

Features

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 17 – The Kakamega High School ‘Green Commandos’ have produced a plethora of talent over the past decades in Kenyan football...

© 2020 Capital Digital Media. Capital Group Limited. All Rights Reserved