Ranieri spared the axe, for now
Inter president Massimo Moratti has issued a vote of confidence to coach Claudio Ranieri following the club’s Champions League exit to Marseille on Tuesday.
With Inter struggling in Serie A, last night’s elimination was expected by some to be the final straw for Ranieri but Moratti, perhaps conscious that appointing a fifth coach in less than two years did little for continuity, has shown commendable and uncharacteristic restraint in backing the beleaguered incumbent.
Besides, he knows better than anyone that there are bound to be more coaches to choose from in the summer.
“It’s not Ranieri’s fault,” Moratti said on the club’s official website.
“More than anything, [Marseille coach Didier] Deschamps was fortunate.
“Had we lost 4-0, I could have seen things in a different light, but having conceded two goals [in both legs] in injury time, I can’t make a negative judgement. Ranieri doesn’t deserve that.”
Ranieri, who cried last Friday when his side ended their recent barren run with a 2-0 win over Chievo, says that the club needs a complete overhaul.
“It has not been a good year,” he conceded. “Should there now be an Inter revolution? No.
“You should not think of a revolution but a restructuring. The club knows that already.”
Whether Ranieri will be the man tasked with presiding over that restructuring, remains to be seen.
Bayern break records
Fourteen goals in their last two games and successive hat-tricks for striker Mario Gomez, suggest that Bayern Munich have finally emerged from their winter hibernation. A dreadful run of form since the winter break had seen them fall five points behind Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund, while the first leg Champions League defeat to Basel, hinted at a deeper malaise.
However, the 7-0 win over the painfully outclassed Swiss side on the back of Saturday’s 7-1 victory over Hoffenheim, and all of a sudden everything looks rosy again in the Bayern garden.
Last night’s thrashing was notable for a number of reasons. It was the biggest margin of victory in the history of the competition. Mario Gomez’s four-goal haul took his total to 10 for the season, just 2 behind Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.
Inevitably, given Messi’s five star performance last week, comparisons between the two have been made. Gomez, sensibly and to his credit, played them down
“I’ll never be as good as Messi and I’d never try to be,” the striker was quoted as saying by the official UEFA website.
“He’s a completely different player to me. I don’t see him as a peer. I see him as the ultimate footballer.”
Spare a thought though for poor Basel, who vowed beforehand not to abandon their attacking philosophy. They certainly won’t be making that mistake again anytime soon. Their predicament was summed by forward Marco Streller, who was admirably candid in assessing the gulf between the two sides.
“We were out of our depth,” he admitted. “Basically we ended up watching the stadium clock and praying for it to end quickly.”
Democracy at work
The wins for Marseille and Bayern mean that there are six countries so far represented in the quarter-finals of the competition. That figure could rise to 8 tonight if Chelsea and CSKA Moscow manage to overcome the odds against Napoli and Real Madrid respectively.
Such an outcome would represent a vindication of UEFA president, Michel Platini’s, decision to tamper with the competition format in the hope of levelling the playing field.
Should Chelsea fail to overturn their 3-1 deficit, then it would be the first time since 1995-96 that an English side has not reached the last eight of the competition. Between 2007 and 2009, nine of the of the twelve semi-finallists were English clubs. That’s some fall from grace for the so-called strongest league in the world.
It could get worse. If the two Manchester clubs suffer a similar fate in Thursday’s Europa League ties, then no English clubs will have reached the quarter-finals of European competition. In all the years English clubs have entered (or been allowed to enter), that has never happened before.
They may be the form team in Europe and are currently averaging more than three goals a game, but Real Madrid have been struggling to sell tickets for tonight’s Champions League match against CSKA Moscow.
The tie, evenly poised at 1-1 after the first leg, cannot be dismissed as a meaningless fixture, yet the club is struggling to shift tickets.
The reason is simple: prices for the game range from €60-€220. Many tickets are available as hospitality packages, direct from the club, going up to €600.
The club has this week taken out full page adverts with players appealing for fans to attend the game.
In a country where more than 5 million (22 per cent) are unemployed and where almost half the under 24-year-olds are now out of work, perhaps a little bit of sensitivity in the pricing structure might have been a nice gesture.
Besiktas civil war
Besiktas coach Carlos Carvalhal has insisted he does not plan to leave the club despite his recent bust-up with Ricardo Quaresma.
Carvalhal was quoted earlier as saying that he feared for his job following his row with the club’s star player, but the Portuguese coach now insists he will stay.
The root of the disagreement between the pair is a heated exchange that took place during last week’s Europa League tie against Atletico Madrid, when Carvalhal informed Quaresma that he was being substituted with the Turkish club trailing 3-0.
The Portuguese winger allegedly told his manager: ”I brought you here, you just think of yourself. If I was not here, you [Carvalhal] would not be here. You can not remove me from the match because you’re nothing.”
Carvalhal has now issued a statement clarifying his position. it reads:
“1 – I would like to completely deny all the comments which were reported yesterday.
“2- Quaresma, after a serious act of indiscipline, is not on the team because I decided so.
“3- I have never considered abandoning the club for that reason, quite the contrary. My wish to continue winning is the same as that of the most passionate of Besiktas’ fans.
“4- The words ‘never again’ are not part of my vocabulary. One thing is Quaresma being a great player. Another is the kind of organisation and discipline I consider fundamental in my work.
“5-The most important thing right now is to defeat Atletico Madrid, make history and put Besiktas next to the strongest teams in Europe. For that, I count on the fans for Thursday’s match at the Inonu Stadium.”
Goal of the day
Liverpool silenced some of their critics with a comfortable 3-0 win over neighbours Everton. All three goals came from skipper Steven Gerrard, with the opener, an inch perfect chip over the retreating defence, the pick of the bunch.
Quotes of the day
“If Pele thinks he’s the Beethoven of football then I’m Ron Wood, Keith Richards and the Bono of football, because I have so much passion”.
Diego Maradona responding to Pele’s claim that he is to football what Beethoven was to music.
The Argentinian, clearly riled, then went on to question the Brazilian’s state of mind.
“I’ve never heard any Beethoven music in a match, so as I’ve told you before, anytime he takes the wrong pill he comes up with a crazy statement. Pele may have taken the morning pills at night time, so he should make sure he takes the right pills.”
Somehow, one can’t imagine Lionel Messi uttering something quite so crass.
Qatar has placed itself on collision course with FIFA after refusing to say whether it will sell alcohol at stadiums during the 2022 World Cup.
Hassan al-Thawadi, general secretary of the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, said it was an issue that will be discussed with FIFA over the years. He only would say the country was aiming to put on an event where “everyone will be able to have a great time, have fun and be exposed to Qatari culture.”
An announcement that will have seen share prices in companies running hospitality packages to the 2022 finals, plummet.
“I don’t see the reason for it being in the stadium,” said al-Thawadi. “I’m looking at it in terms of England and looking at in terms of everybody else. That is something we are discussing with FIFA … Let’s discuss this with relevant stakeholders and come up with a plan that welcomes everyone.”
Mention of England is somewhat misleading. The law in the UK currently prevents people watching a match whilst drinking alcohol, but permits its sale within the stadium.
The issue of alcohol became an issue in recent months as FIFA rowed with Brazil over sales at the 2014 World Cup.
Existing Brazilian law forbids alcohol sales inside stadiums during football matches to cut down on fan violence, but a World Cup ban would upset some of FIFA’s sponsors, in particular brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev, the maker of Budweiser.
After a protracted debate, a Brazilian congressional commission eventually approved a World Cup bill earlier this month which will allow the alcohol sales in stadiums during the tournament.
Sion of the times
The Swiss Football League has fined FC Sion 20,000 Swiss francs for displaying political messages on its jerseys.
Sion players wore the slogan “Tourisme (equals) Emplois” (Tourism (equals) Jobs) in a match against Servette last month “despite the league’s refusal” of the club’s request.
The league says its disciplinary commission linked the slogan to an upcoming national vote to limit holiday home ownership.
Sion also face a second case after playing FC Zurich the following weekend with a slogan reading “Solidarity between cantons (states).”
Sion is also appealing a deduction of 36 league points for challenging FIFA, UEFA and Swiss football authorities in the courts over a player eligibility case.
As mentioned in Tuesday’s World Soccer Daily, the prospect of José Maria Marin, the newly appointed head of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF), ushering in a new era of openness, look doomed.
Several state federations opposed Marin’s appointment and some clubs are reportedly looking into ways of appointing a different president.
“We need change,” Atletico Paranaense President Mario Celso Petraglia told local media.
Corinthians defender Paulo Andre added: “It means nothing to change the president but keep the mentality and the administration model. … We need new ideas.”
Jose Maria Marin, though, promises to continue the “stupendous” work of predecessor Ricardo Teixeira, who stepped down on Monday for health reasons after 23 years in charge.
“His administration was a model to be followed,” Marin said. “Brazilian football is respected around the world because of his work.”
“Our president turned the dreams of millions of Brazilians into reality.”
The 79-year-old also defended himself after pictures emerged of him pocketing a medal from while handing out trophies at an under-18 championship this year.
“I consider the whole thing a joke,” Marin said. “It was a courtesy I received from the (local) federation, in front of everybody.”