Daily Archives: April 11, 2018

Roma complete miraculous comeback to oust Barca from Champions League

Published by:

A spectacular second-leg performance saw Roma comeback and defeat Barcelona 3-0 (4-4 on aggregate) and reach the Champions League semi-finals on their sole away goal.

Barca were huge favourites to progress after a 4-1 first-leg win, but they were utterly dismantled at Stadio Olimpico.

There were early signs of danger as Roma got a dream start when Edin Dzeko struck early from close range and Daniele de Rossi added a second-half penalty as Gerard Pique bundled Dzeko over in the box.

With time running out, defender Kostas Manolas scored the crucial third goal, heading Cengiz Under’s cross in at the near post with eight minutes remaining.

The goals by de Rossi and Manolas also meant that the pair would make amends for their own-goal blunders in the first-leg at the Camp Nou last week.

The crowd at the Stadio Olimpico erupted at the final whistle as the Roma substitutes and coaching staff piled on to the pitch to celebrated with the players — it had taken the team 34 years to reach this stage of the competition.

There were tears in the stands from those watching, not quite believing what they had witnessed, while Barca, unbeaten in La Liga, saw their dreams for a treble extinguished.

“It is difficult to believe but we did it and did it in style,” Dzeko said after the game. “Nobody believed in us before the game — they gave us a 5% chance of winning — but against such a team like Barcelona, you expect that after losing the first game 4-1.”

“The win is difficult to describe. We lost against Fiorentina in the league three days ago but we played an amazing game today and had even more chances to score. It was great teamwork from the first to the last minute. It is the first time in history to knock out Barcelona 3-0 and that makes it even more special.”

“We will enjoy the semi-finals — I do not fear anyone. They are all top teams. I am just happy to see my team in the draw.”

Zinedine Zidane: “I’m not interested in being favourites”

Published by:

Real boss Zinedine Zidane has played down suggestions that his side are favourites to win Europe’s most prestigious club competition again as they host Juventus.

Only a spectacular collapse will deny Real another semi-final appearance following their Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired victory in Italy, where the Portuguese captain scored two goals including an incredible bicycle kick in the first leg.

Twelve-time winners Real are therefore looking to win the competition for the fourth time in five seasons, but Zidane insisted that they could do that without being branded as favourites.

“I’m not interested in talk of favourites, I prefer to show it out on the pitch and we must respect all clubs and all aspects of football,” the former World Cup winner added.

“If we put in a great performance and we are focused throughout the match we have a good chance of battling through, but we must keep that idea in mind.”

Los Blancos will play without suspended captain Sergio Ramos when they host Juventus in the Champions League quarter-final second leg, and defender Jesus Vallejo, 21, could start alongside Raphael Varane for Real.

As for the defending Serie A Champions, they will play without key forward Paulo Dybala, who was sent off in the first leg for two yellow cards, but defender Giorgio Chiellini says that they would put on an improved performance in Spain after their first-leg disappointment.

“We’re not crying about what happened, and we go to Madrid with the desire to play a good game,” Chiellini added. “We’ll treat it like a marathon, not a sprint and we’ll need to go into the game with a level head.”

Prediction:

Real Madrid 0 : 0 Juventus

Fernando Torres set to leave Atletico by end of the season

Published by:

Fernando Torres has revealed his plans to leave Atletico Madrid when his contract expires at the end of the season to seek more game time.

The Spaniard is in his second spell at the club he left in 2007 to sign for Liverpool, and also had stints at Chelsea and Milan before returning to Spain in 2015.

Torres, 34, has only made three starts in La Liga this season and made 17 appearances from the bench, scoring two goals.

“I want to take advantage of this opportunity to say this will be my last season at the club,” Torres said at a promotional event. “It has not been an easy decision. Looking at the reality, the circumstances, perhaps it’s for the best. I accept that I’m not having much of a role, so perhaps this is the moment to step aside for others.”

“It’s difficult to say goodbye for a second time because I wanted to retire here but things don’t always go as you want. I feel physically and mentally able to keep playing. I am in good shape and I will look elsewhere for games.”

“I still feel I can play, and want to keep playing,” he added. “I have not listened to any offers [from other clubs] yet, but I will now. We will sit down and look at what we have, before making a decision when the time comes.”

Atletico will honour Torres at their last home game of the season against Eibar on 20 May and will make it an “unforgettable” occasion.

“Fernando is a legend of our club,” said Atletico president Enrique Cerezo. “The doors of Atletico de Madrid will always be open for him.”

“We have always said that he would have the decision about his future because this is his home and if he has decided to continue his professional career from the next season in another place, I can only thank him for everything he has given us, which is a lot.”