Tag Archives: brazil

Lucas Leiva signs new long-term contract at Liverpool

Fan favourite Lucas is 'where he belongs' after signing new long-term Liverpool deal

By
Gerard Brand

PUBLISHED:

16:45 GMT, 10 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

16:49 GMT, 10 April 2013

Liverpool have announced that influential midfielder Lucas Leiva has signed a new long-term contract at the club.

The Brazilian who has made 20 appearances in the Premier League this season, has put pen to paper on a new deal as Brendan Rodgers looks to build a midfield capable of challenging for the top four in the coming years.

The news comes just over two years to the day that the 26-year-old signed another long-term contract with the club, that time being rewarded for his superb form by manager Kenny Dalglish.

Signing in: The midfielder has pledged his future to the club after several impressive seasons

Signing in: The midfielder has pledged his future to the club after several impressive seasons

He told the club's website: 'It's another long-term contract that I have signed – but it was the same feeling as when I first came here.

'I am really delighted to have the opportunity to play for this club. It's where I think I belong and where I wanted to stay, so I am very happy and looking forward to a few more years here.

'It was an easy decision because after the long period of my career I have had here, I would like to give the best of my time to this club. It was not a difficult decision to make and I am really looking forward to what will hopefully be a few more years with a lot of success.'

Lucas, who has appeared for Brazil on 20 occasions, joined the Merseyside club from Brazilian side Gremio for a reported 5million in July 2007, making 208 appearances since and slowly becoming a fans favourite after a slow start.

His previous deal was due to run out in the summer of 2015.

The club's managing director Ian Ayre showed his delight with the signing, which warns off any of Europe's top clubs making a move for the midfield maestro.

Ayre told the club's website: 'It's fantastic. He has been such a great servant to the club and I think during the period he went through with his two injuries, he put so much work into it and the club supported him through it.

'He just goes from strength to strength. We said throughout last summer and January, we wanted to keep our best, experienced players, and this is another great example of that.

'The manager has said several times that as well as having a great, young squad, it's important we have experience and it's important we have characters. People like Lucas fit that.

'He'll tell you he's still very young, but in footballing terms he's experienced and a big part of the team.'

Coming of age: After a slow start at the club, the Brazilian has been an influential member of midfield

Coming of age: After a slow start at the club, the Brazilian has been an influential member of midfield

Lucas

Lucas

No evidence Rio Ferdinand was racially abused by England fans during World Cup qualifier in San Marino, say Football Association

FA finds no evidence that England fans racially abused Ferdinand brothers during San Marino qualifier

fixture in Moldova.

A football banning order means an individual must surrender their passport, excluding them from all travel abroad around England international fixtures.

'We've been asked to supply our
submission to Fifa by Tuesday, which we will do,' said FA Managing
Director of Club England Adrian Bevington.

'We have gone through all of the video evidence that our security team recorded on the evening of the game.

'I do want to make clear that while
the journalists who have reported this have done so in good faith, they
clearly have heard chanting of a particular nature, and we're not
disputing that, but we haven't been able to identify any of that from
the recorded evidence that we've gone through.'

Fare, who did not have their own
observers at the match, have collated the evidence on the basis of
'hearsay', according to the Football Supporters Federation.

Having been selected for an England squad for the first time since June 2011 for the Brazil 2014 qualifying double-header with San Marino and Montenegro, Ferdinand withdrew after telling Roy Hodgson he had to follow a pre-planned programme of treatment on his back trouble.

He then attracted ridicule by flying to Qatar to appear as a pundit for the match on the Al-Jazeera television channel.

It was widely reported the morning after the game that England fans had sung derogatory songs about Rio and his brother Anton, with the FA promising to investigate the claims.

Ferdinand said on Twitter at the time: 'You expect and accept banter from
fans on the terraces as it's part of what makes the game great, but
racism is not banter and from your own fans. WOW.

'Always a small minority who ruin it for others.'

He added: 'Let's not jump to
conclusions and assume though as it might just have been banter. We'll
see after the investigation.'

The FA issued a statement confirming they had launched an investigation and would review video footage taken by their officials.

They also promised to ban any England fan found guilty of racist abuse and vowed to 'do all we can to eradicate racism from football'.

And the FA also issued a strong call for an end to the 'No Surrender' chants.

The statement read: 'We will not accept any racist chanting and we also call on those attending England matches at home and abroad to stop the “No Surrender” chanting during the singing of the national anthem, both before and during games.'

The prospect of Fifa sanctions was then raised after Fare flagged up to world football's
governing body the vile songs which suggested the pair be burned on a bonfire.

The chant in San Marino was: 'Build a bonfire, build a bonfire, put Rio on the top, put Anton in the middle, then burn the f****** lot.'

Football Supporters’ Federation chief executive Kevin Miles, who was at the game, said: ‘Leaping to formal complaint on the basis of second-hand and hearsay information without engaging with supporters’ organisations who were present or the FA is not an approach designed to create the best possible outcome.

‘The Football Supporters’ Federation stand firmly against any manifestations of racism within football. On this occasion, I personally have not heard any of the anti-Rio Ferdinand sentiment being expressed in a way that could be construed as racist.

‘Anger about Rio Ferdinand’s absence from the squad and presence in Dubai in an Al Jazeera studio was strongly felt and clearly expressed. But I heard no racist content. If there were songs sung with racist undertones, then that is a matter for concern. But even then the response needs to be measured, proportionate and constructive.’

Kick It Out chairman Lord Ouseley today called at the time on the FA to take a stance on the 'vile' and 'abusive' chants by England fans aimed at the Ferdinands.

It has been suggested the song had racist overtones because Anton Ferdinand was the target of racist abuse from former England captain John Terry.

Abuse: England supporters chanted that Rio (above) and Anton Ferdinand (below left) should be 'burned'

Abuse: England supporters chanted that Rio (above) and Anton Ferdinand (below left) should be 'burned'

Anton Ferdinand (left)

Who are FARE

Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) is an international network of groups active in over 40 countries.

Their aim is to help support and coordinate efforts across borders and strengthen activity at national level.

According
to their mission statement: ‘We want to see the beautiful game played
without discrimination and used as a social tool to unite communities,
overcome exclusion and create social change.

'Our
focus is on tackling racism of all kinds, homophobia, and to empower
minorities and women to realise their personal and collective
potential.'

The general objectives of the FARE network are:

To
promote a commitment to fight discrimination at all levels of football
across Europe – in stadiums, on the pitch, in administration, in
coaching and sport education and through the mediaUse the appeal of football to tackle societal discriminationTo foster networking and exchange of good practice transnationallyTo
undertake activities to capacity build and empower marginalized and
discriminated groups, in particular young people, migrants, ethnic
minorities, members of the LGBT communities and women.

Where do they get their money from

Funding has come from the European Commission, UEFA and smaller bodies such as Stand Up Speak Up, a campaign launched by Thierry Henry and Nike to fight racism.

Did FARE have anyone at the match

No. They operate as a conduit for complaints of racism.

So why are they getting involved

Despite having no direct experience of the chanting, FARE claim they are duty bound to lodge a complaint after collating evidence sent to them and after studying media reports of the match.

And why do they think the chant was racist

That is far from clear. The bonfire song is sung at football stadiums across Britain without any suggestions of racism. Some suggest the inclusion of Anton Ferdinand as well as his brother Rio has turned the song into a racist attack. FARE have talked only of an ‘undercurrent of race’. Others point to connotations of the Ku Klux Klan.

What happens next

FIFA will assess the complaint next week. If the allegations are proved it is possible, but unlikely, that England could end up being forced to play their next match behind closed doors. Hungary and Bulgaria played in empty stadiums as a result of FIFA punishments.

Ouseley told BBC Radio 5 Live:
'Whether it's racist or not, it's certainly unacceptable. It's vile and
it shouldn't be part of sport. Something needs to be done about it.

'These
are the supporters of the England national team who are travelling
abroad and singing songs like that. What messages does it send out about
the type of people we are and who we represent

'The
Football Association should be taking a stance on this about the people
it wants supporting the England team, the image it wants to send
abroad.

'I've already
contacted the chairman of the Football Association and said this has to
be looked at, investigated and dealt with. Do you want to be having an
army of fans who call themselves the England fans travelling abroad,
being abusive to their own players like that, or indeed other people

'FIFA will determine (whether it is racist) but clearly we can take a stance on that. We have policies

on anti-racism, homophobia and all other forms of unacceptable behaviour. Why are we so quiet about it'

FIFA said in a statement: 'We can
confirm that FIFA has been contacted by FARE regarding the FIFA World
Cup qualifier match between San Marino and England last Friday.

'FIFA will now analyse the content of the documents and next steps will be determined in due course.'

The ultimate sanction, if FIFA take action against England, is playing a World Cup qualifier behind closed doors.

FARE, headed by Piara Powar, did not have
observers at the game as it was not expected to be 'high risk', but were
supplied with information about the chants by people who were and they
have decided to act.

The organisation is a pan-European
network that aims to rid racism from football. They also reported racist
or xenophobic incidents at Croatia v Serbia and Poland v Ukraine,
matches where members were present.

The FA did not know
an official complaint had been made when Sportsmail enquired but they
are aware of the songs.

English fans also sang about the IRA and 'German
bombers' during the World Cup qualifier but FARE made it clear the
Ferdinand chanting was the reason FIFA had been notified.

A FARE spokeswoman said: 'It refers to the racist abuse Rio Ferdinand received, along with his brother Anton.

'We don't make the judgement. We send a
report to FIFA but in the end its their decision whether they open
proceedings or not. And whether they issue a fine or not.'

An
FA spokesman said: 'We have not been notified on this matter and until
we get a full report it would not be appropriate to say anything.'

Powar told Sportsmail:
‘It’s not really the sort of thing we are generally attuned to looking
at – fans abusing players of their own country who may not have been
picked.

'Nevertheless if it happens at a game, even if the focus of the abuse isn’t there it’s still happening.

‘One
of the things we want to underline straight off is that sometimes
racism doesn’t only take the form of monkey chants or bananas being
thrown. Sometimes there are things that are more subtle at play.

‘In the end we are not responsible for
making a decision on whether England fans are guilty of racism here but
we do have a duty to report things that are said to us because
individuals have reported them as racist or xenophobic within the
context.'

Pulled out: Man United defender Ferdinand was called up but withdrew from Roy Hodgson's squad

Pulled out: Man United defender Ferdinand was called up but withdrew from Roy Hodgson's squad

Discussions: Hodgson says that if he calls Rio up again he will need to speak to him about his fitness first

He added: ‘If someone says to us, “We think
this is a big issue”, and there doesn’t seem to be malicious intent from
their perspective then we are obliged to report it.

'We have people who look at this
stuff and they have a fairly clear idea of the standards required by
governing bodies.

'It’s then put to them and it’s their process. In this
case it’s FIFA’s process. They see whether the evidence hits the
standard to take forward a prosecution.

'FIFA, in the last couple of
incidents they’ve dealt with, have shown a stronger side. They banned
Hungary and Bulgaria from playing with fans last Friday. Forced them to
play behind closed doors.

'That’s quite rare to have a major tournament
qualifier behind closed doors. The last two incidents we reported FIFA showed a very strong hand.'

FARE feel the use of the ‘You know
what you are’ chant also has a racial element, given the history of the
chant in the Terry case.

Peter Herbert, chairman of the
Society for Black Lawyers, insists the bonfire chant does have racist
overtones, adding: ‘We’re uncovering a hard core of racist fans out
there and it doesn’t take very much to trigger their abuse.

‘Some England fans, in that sense,
would claim the Ku Klux Klan are not racist. I think anybody with any
sense and understanding of how racism operates will see that this is
clearly racially motivated and is directed at him. It would not have
been said if it had been a white footballer in the same situation.’

France v Spain – watch it live for FREE

LIVE France v Spain: Watch the crunch clash in Group I as Les Bleus take on the world and European champions

PUBLISHED:

10:23 GMT, 26 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

16:15 GMT, 26 March 2013

Welcome to Sportsmail's coverage of what promises to be the game of the night as France take on Spain in Group I.

The French can take a huge step towards qualification for Brazil 2014 with a win over their near neighbours in Paris.

Victory would move them five points clear at the top with just three games to go and leave the reigning world and European champions staring at the prospect of a two-legged play-off.

The sides drew in Madrid last October and Spain followed that up by sharing the points with Finland on Friday night while Les Bleus eased past Georgia.

Sergio Ramos, on his 100th appearance for his country, captained Vicente del Bosque's side against Finland and led by example with the goal.

Karim Benzema, his Real Madrid team-mate, drew a blank in France's victory and will be out to make amends if he is given the nod after being booed by the home support for missing chances in the Stade de France.

***Full coverage will start at 8pm***

Live : France – Spain par ffftv

World Cup Montenegro v England – guide to Montenegro

Meet the men from Montenegro standing in the way of England reaching Brazil 2014

, and the man advantage allowed Montenegro a last minute equalised through Andrija Delibasic.

Brnovic wasn’t able to guide his team through the play-offs, losing 3-0 on aggregate to the Czech Republic, but they’ve been on an eight-match unbeaten run since.

Playing career: Brnovic (right) in action for Yugoslavia in a 2007 match with Switzerland in Basle

Playing career: Brnovic (right) in action for Yugoslavia in a 2007 match with Switzerland in Basle

Enlarge

How it stands: The Group H table entering the game

How it stands: The Group H table entering the game

This included an impressive 1-0 win in Ukraine in the third round of qualifying that ranks among the country’s best results. They have also drawn 2-2 with Poland, stuffed San Marino 6-0 and 3-0, and triumphed 1-0 with 10 men in Moldova the other night.

A midfielder, Brnovic represented Yugoslavia 27 times during his playing career, scoring three goals. In his club career, he represented FK Partizan Belgrade, helping them to back-to-back national championships, and Espanyol in Spain for six seasons between 1994 and 2000.

Those with exceptional memories for this kind of thing may recall that Brnovic played in three matches for Yugoslavia at the 1998 World Cup in France, as they reached the last 16.

Dismissed! Brnovic's first match at the helm was the 2-2 draw with England in October 2011 that saw Wayne Rooney sent off

Dismissed! Brnovic's first match at the helm was the 2-2 draw with England in October 2011 that saw Wayne Rooney sent off

THE PLAYERS

GOALKEEPERS

Mladen Bozovic

Known as ‘Bonja’, experienced 28-year-old goalkeeper Bozovic plays for Hungarian side Videoton and has 30 caps for his county. He has been in good form of late, as Montenegro have kept four consecutive clean sheets in their World Cup qualification campaign.

Vukasin Poleksic

Poleksic would be a complete unknown but for his alleged involvement in a match-fixing scandal involving Liverpool and his club side Debrecen, of Hungary.

In June 2010, Poleksic, who was once linked with a move to Portsmouth in the Premier League, was banned from football for two years for failing to report a telephone call in which a criminal gang offered him money to fix Champions League matches against Fiorentina and Liverpool.

He continued his career at Debrecen, albeit as second choice, after his ban ended and also has 23 caps for Montenegro.

Srdan Blazic

30-year-old third choice with two caps to his name, currently playing for Nea Salamis Famagusta in Cyprus. At one point played in Belgium with Standard Liege and more recently had an ill-fated spell with Anorthosis Famagusta when his poor performance in a Europa League qualifier with Georgian team Dila Gori led to crowd disturbances.

Pleased as punch: Goalkeeper Mladen Bozovic salutes the travelling fans after his crucial saved earned a 0-0 draw at Wembley in October 2010

Pleased as punch: Goalkeeper Mladen Bozovic salutes the travelling fans after his crucial saved earned a 0-0 draw at Wembley in October 2010

DEFENDERS

Milan Jovanovic

Not to be confused with the Serbian striker of the same name who plays for Anderlecht. The Montenegrin Jovanovic, 29, is a defender who joined Red Star Belgrade last summer and has won 33 caps for his country. Prior to this, Jovanovic had played in Austria, Romania and Serbia.

Savo Pavicevic

Like Jovanovic, Pavicevic was a founding member of the Montenegro national team when they played Hungary in March 2007 (having hitherto been known as Serbia and Montenegro). Another nomad, the 32-year-old has played in Serbia, Germany, Greece, Cyprus and, of late, Israel. He was at Maccabi Tel Aviv until November last year, but is presently with cross-city rivals Hapoel.

Vladimir Bozovic

31-year-old left back who is usually on the bench, Bozovic made his 30th appearance for Montenegro in the 1-0 win over Moldova on Friday. After five years with Rapid Bucharest, he recently departed for Russian Premier League newcomers Mordovia Saransk.

Marko Basa

Among the better known Montenegro players, centre-half Basa is a regular for French side Lille and played in five of their six Champions League group matches this season. With their depleted central defence, England will have to be careful of 6’ 3” Basa’s potency from corners and free-kicks.

After an uncertain start when Basa made a habit of not showing up for international duty, he has since become a regular starter and has 23 caps.

Commanding: Centre-back Marko Basa in action for Montenegro against San Marino in an earlier World Cup qualifier

Commanding: Centre-back Marko Basa in action for Montenegro against San Marino in an earlier World Cup qualifier

Miodrag Dzudovic

Best known for being the target of Wayne Rooney’s ire on the last occasion the two sides met, centre-half Dzudovic is a likely starter having been rested in Moldova on Friday night.

The 33-year-old, who plays for Russian Premier League side Spartak Nalchik, claimed over the weekend that he didn’t provoke the England frontman into lashing out and even spoke up for him at the UEFA disciplinary hearing.

‘I did nothing to provoke him. We didn’t say a single word to each other during the match,’ he said.

‘This was his moment of weakness. He is human, it can happen to anyone.’

Stefan Savic

Manchester City fans will remember 22-year-old centre-half Savic, who had a short spell at the club during the 2011-2012 season following a 6m move from Partizan.

Although occasionally solid during his 20 appearances, mistakes meant he was never likely to replace Vincent Kompany as first choice. He conceded the penalty that allowed Liverpool to gain the first leg advantage in the League Cup semi-final and also gifted Jermain Defoe the equaliser in the league match at the Etihad.

Now at Fiorentina, Savic spoke over the weekend of the welcome England will receive in Podgorica: ‘It is always a hostile atmosphere here and we don’t fear anyone. We just need to be focused and I think the result will come.

‘We have played two games against England and got two draws – now I think maybe it is time for a win.’

English connection: Defender Stefan Savic played for Manchester City during the 2011-2012 season

English connection: Defender Stefan Savic played for Manchester City during the 2011-2012 season

Vladimir Volkov

Left-back who is a relative newcomer to the Montenegrin set-up, Volkov has played for no less than five Belgrade-based teams. Possessing dual Serbian and Montenegrin citizenship, the 26-year-old opted for the latter after Serbia ‘showed no interest’ in him. Nonetheless, he has spent most of his life playing and living in the Serbian capital Belgrade.

Blazo Igumanovic

Defender with one cap to his credit, Igumanovic plays for the Montenegrin side Rudar Pljevlja, who finished second in the national league last season.

Ivan Kecojevic

Recent graduate from the Under 21 set-up, defender Kecojevic also has one cap to his name and plays his football in Turkey for Gaziantepspor.

MIDFIELDERS

Simon Vukcevic

One of the most experienced players in the squad, Vukcevic may be remembered by English fans for his two years at Blackburn Rovers. Despite a dire and ultimately unsuccessful battle against relegation from the top flight, Vukcevic found first team opportunities limited last season following a 3m move from Sporting Lisbon.

He was given a ticket out of Ewood Park on January transfer deadline day this year and has wound up at Ukrainian side Karpaty Lviv, where he seems likely to see more games.

In and around the senior international set-up for nearly a decade, Vukcevic has 41 caps and two goals for Montenegro and five for Serbia and Montenegro before that.

Slide: Simon Vukcevic, the former Blackburn player, tries to win the ball from Ashley Cole

Slide: Simon Vukcevic, the former Blackburn player, tries to win the ball from Ashley Cole

Elsad Zverotic

Zverotic scored one of his three international goals against England in that 2-2 draw in November 2011, one of three in his five years with the national team. The 26-year-old right-sided player plays for Young Boys in Switzerland and scored a memorable late equaliser against Liverpool at Anfield in the Europa League group stage this season.

Milorad Pekovic

Veteran midfielder who has carved out a career in Germany, initially with Eintracht Trier and Mainz, and latterly with Bundesliga strugglers Greuther Furth. Has 31 caps for Montenegro.

Mitar Novakovic

Defensive midfield player who often comes on from the bench, Novakovic has played for Russian team Amkar Perm for five years and has 21 caps for his country.

Milos Krkotic

25-year-old player for Dacia Chisinau in Moldova, Krkotic was on the bench in his adopted homeland the other evening, but didn’t come on for a first cap.

Celebration: Elsad Zverotic (left), Stefan Savic (centre) and Vladimir Bozovic mark the 1-0 win over Moldova on Friday

Celebration: Elsad Zverotic (left), Stefan Savic (centre) and Vladimir Bozovic mark the 1-0 win over Moldova on Friday

STRIKERS

Mirko Vucinic

The closest Montenegro have to a household name, Juventus striker Vucinic once had his creative flair likened to Vincent Van Gogh by a Serie A coach. Brilliant and infuriating in equal measure, England will be hoping it’s the less inspired Vucinic that turns up on Tuesday night.

He’s in decent form though – a fortnight ago, he was combining with Juve midfielder Claudio Marchisio to score a lovely goal against Bologna, and on Friday he won a tricky match in Moldova when his side were down to 10 men.

Former Juventus legend Pavel Nedved sums the 29-year-old up neatly: ‘I love watching him play because he is a genius, a total genius. He can be infuriating with the way he disappears from games.

‘There are times when he is almost invisible and it drives you mad. But then he’ll do something amazing that lifts you out of your seat and you love him for it.’

Chris Smalling and Joleon Lescott, you have been warned…

Mad: Vucinic celebrates in his pants after scoring a goal for Montenegro against Switzerland

Mad: Vucinic celebrates in his pants after scoring a goal for Montenegro against Switzerland

Born in the city of Niksic, Vucinic was talent spotted and transferred to Italian side Lecce in 2000, consistently scoring 20 or more goals in a season as they swapped between Serie A and B.

He then switched to Roma in 2006, scoring 64 goals in 202 matches for the club in his five seasons there. Juventus bought him for around 12m in 2011 and Vucinic won the title in his first season.

Averaging a goal every two games for Montenegro, Vucinic has been performing his national duty in winding up Wayne Rooney during the build-up.

Good record: Vucinic has 14 goals in 30 international appearances

Good record: Vucinic has 14 goals in 30 international appearances

‘There is no doubt that Wayne Rooney is one of the best strikers in the world, but we know from the last time England played here that he can sometimes play with a hot head,’ he said.

‘Our fans will not forget the red card he received and I am sure they will let him know. It is an intimidating place to come and if England want to have any chance then Rooney will need to keep a calm head.

‘He is a good player but it has been proved over the years that you can get a reaction out of him. England would have no chance with 10 men and I’m sure their coach will be telling them that.’

Stevan Jovetic

Linked at the moment with Arsenal and Manchester City, the other half of Montenegro’s deadly attack is Fiorentina’s curly-haired Jovetic.

Jovetic, 23, is on record as saying that the Premier League is ‘the top of the football world’ and Tuesday’s match against England will be something of an audition for him.

Heaven sent: Stevan Jovetic celebrates a goal for Fiorentina against Bologna this season

Heaven sent: Stevan Jovetic celebrates a goal for Fiorentina against Bologna this season

So far, he has 12 goals for his club this season, including a brace against Inter Milan last month. He also has 10 in 21 games for Montenegro since making his debut in that inaugural match against Hungary in 2007.

Andrija Delibasic

Scorer of the last minute equaliser the last time these sides met, Delibasic plays for Rayo Vallecano in Spain, for whom he has four league goals this season. He filed his boots against San Marino earlier in the qualifying campaign, with four in two matches, but is likely to be on the bench against England.

Mental: The scenes after Montenegro scored their equaliser against England in the Euro 2012 qualifier in October 2011

Mental: The scenes after Montenegro scored their equaliser against England in the Euro 2012 qualifier in October 2011

Fatos Beqiraj

Back-up striker who plays in Croatia for Dinamo Zagreb. Last season, Beqiraj was top scorer in the Croatian top flight with 15 goals in 28 appearances, becoming the first foreigner to achieve that feat. The 24-year-old has won 18 caps and scored three times for his country.

Dejan Damjanovic

A long trip home for Damjanovic, who plays out in Korea for FC Seoul. He’s a prolific scorer in the K-League, with 94 goals in 146 appearances over the last five years. Scored the winner in the earlier World Cup qualification match against Ukraine, one of three strikes for Montenegro.

Filip Kasalica

Favoured in Moldova alongside Vucinic and Jovetic, Red Star frontman Kasalica, 24, is a fairly recent graduate from the Under 21 team and has only five caps to his credit so far. Scored his only goal to date in the 2-0 friendly win over Latvia before the start of the qualification campaign.

Chosen men: The Montenegro line-up

Chosen men: The Montenegro line-up

ENGLAND NEED TO WIN THE AERIAL DUELS

With England's first-choice central defensive partnership unavailable, Roy Hodgson will be nervous about our chances of winning the aerial battles.

Montenegro are a team packed with six foot plus players and, unsurprisingly, top the World Cup ranking for headers won.

England, by contrast, are 35th in the same ranking, having won just 46 per cent of their aerial contests.

Cautionary tale: Andrija Delibasic scored with an equaliser the last time the sides met

Cautionary tale: Andrija Delibasic scored with an equaliser the last time the sides met

Watch the skies: Aerial duel statistics from the current World Cup qualifying campaign

Watch the skies: Aerial duel statistics from the current World Cup qualifying campaign. Source: Opta

Montenegro's fearsome defenders will take some beating in the air – Marko Basa is 6' 3″, Miodrag Dzudovic is 6' 5″ and Stefan Savic is 6' 2″ – and so Wayne Rooney and Jermain Defoe need service in to feet.

If they manage to work a shooting opportunity, first choice goalkeeper Mladen Bozovic is 6' 5″.

Up front, in addition to their myriad other qualities, Vucinic (6' 1″) and Jovetic (6' 1″) will give Chris Smalling and Joleon Lescott an uncomfortable time from crosses.

Corners are a concern too, with three of Montenegro's goals in the qualifying campaign coming from them.

Set piece danger: The statistics on corner conversion from the current World Cup qualifying campaign. Source: Opta

Set piece danger: The statistics on corner conversion from the current World Cup qualifying campaign. Source: Opta

PODGORICA CITY STADIUM

Despite only being about the size of Southend United's Roots Hall ground, England will face a hostile reception at the Podgorica City Stadium.

Holding 12,000 spectators, the home of FK Buducnost Podgorica was scene of the 2-2 draw between the sides in November 2011, when home fans raised the atmosphere, Wayne Rooney was sent off and England let slip a two-goal lead.

Compact: The 12,000-capacity Podgorica Stadium which will host the match on Tuesday

Compact: The 12,000-capacity Podgorica Stadium which will host the match on Tuesday

Rustic: One of the turnstiles at the stadium, where about 1,300 England fans will be in attendance

Rustic: One of the turnstiles at the stadium, where about 1,300 England fans will be in attendance

There were chaotic scenes at the end, too, as home fans poured onto the pitch to confront the 1,100 travelling England contingent.

'At our home nobody takes points off us easily. Who knows what might happen if the weather is not good and the pitch will not be in perfect shape It could help us,' said Dejan Damjanovic.

Hostile: Home fans celebrate on the pitch and goad England supporters after the 2-2 draw in 2011

Hostile: Home fans celebrate on the pitch and goad England supporters after the 2-2 draw in 2011

PREVIOUS MEETINGS

Aside from that 2-2 draw already alluded to, the only previous meeting between England and Montenegro in their current guise was a drab 0-0 draw at Wembley earlier in the same Euro 2012 qualifying campaign.

Fabio Capello's side dominated possession in the October 2010 encounter but Wayne Rooney was subdued and was denied by goalkeeper Mladen Bozovic from snatching all three point at the end.

Montenegro's Milan Jovanovic struck the crossbar from long range with only seven minutes left.

Denied: Kevin Davies, a sub, tries to turn the ball home under pressure from Marko Basa and goalkeeper Mladen Bozovic in the 0-0 draw at Wembley in October 2010

Denied: Kevin Davies, a sub, tries to turn the ball home under pressure from Marko Basa and goalkeeper Mladen Bozovic in the 0-0 draw at Wembley in October 2010

Dejection: England trudge off after the drab goalless draw in the Euro 2012 qualifier

Dejection: England trudge off after the drab goalless draw in the Euro 2012 qualifier

The line-ups that night:

England: Hart, Glen Johnson, Ferdinand, Lescott, Ashley Cole, Adam Johnson, Gerrard, Barry, Young (Wright-Phillips 74), Rooney, Crouch (Davies 69)

Montenegro: Mladen Bozovic, Basa, Jovanovic, Djudovic, Savic, Vukcevic, Zverotic, Boskovic (Beciraj 82), Novakovic (Kascelan 62), Pekovic, Djalovic (Delibasic 77)

England played Serbia and Montenegro once, a 2-1 win in a friendly at the Walkers Stadium in Leicester in June 2003 in which Steven Gerrard and Joe Cole scored.

MONTENEGRO'S REMAINING FIXTURES

June 7 Ukraine (H) September 6 Poland (A) October 11 England (A) October 15 Moldova (H)

Anne Keothavong misses out on first WTA title in Brazil as Venus Williams also suffers defeat

Keothavong misses out on doubles title in Brazil as Venus also suffers defeat

PUBLISHED:

12:57 GMT, 2 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

12:57 GMT, 2 March 2013

Anne Keothavong's attempt to win a first WTA title ended in disappointment when the Brit and her doubles partner Valeria Savinykh were defeated in the final of the Brazil Tennis Cup.

The pair lost 6-0, 6-4 to number one seeds Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain and Kazakhstan's Yaroslava Shvedova.

Defeat: Anne Keothavong missed out on her first WTA title

Defeat: Anne Keothavong missed out on her first WTA title

In the singles event, Venus Williams looked tired as she slumped to a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 loss to world number 109 Olga Puchkova in the tournament's semi-finals.

Puchkova, 25, will face Romanian Monica Niculescu in the final, after breaking Williams's serve late in the second and third sets to win the match in two hours and 31 minutes.

Surprise: Venus Williams was eliminated from the Brazil Tennis Cup by Olga Puchkova

Surprise: Venus Williams was eliminated from the Brazil Tennis Cup by Olga Puchkova

‘I gave my best but just couldn’t play consistent enough today,’ Williams said. ‘She played so well, it was hard.’

England begin training for Wembley friendly with Brazil

England stars get down to business in training as they prepare to face the boys from Brazil

By
Declan Warrington

PUBLISHED:

11:16 GMT, 4 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

14:16 GMT, 4 February 2013

England have begun preparations for Wednesday's illustrious friendly at Wembley with Brazil.

The bad news for manager Roy Hodgson, however, is that only 11 outfield players were available to fully train today.

The withdrawals of the injured Jermain Defoe and Michael Carrick and the absence of the unfit Daniel Sturridge had significantly contributed to
the depleted numbers available to Hodgson to train, with others involved yesterday in the
Premier League instead limited to a warm-down session.

Put through their paces: The limited numbers available to England began training today

Put through their paces: The limited numbers available to England began training today

Elder statesman: Jack Butland is temporarily England's most senior goalkeeper

Elder statesman: Jack Butland is temporarily England's most senior goalkeeper

Watchful eye: Hodgson observes Danny Welbeck, Jack Wilshere and Ashley Cole in training

Watchful eye: Hodgson observes Danny Welbeck, Jack Wilshere and Ashley Cole in training

Joe Hart and Jack Butland remain the only
senior goalkeepers in Roy Hodgson's full squad but with Hart among
those only warming down, Middlesbrough's inexperienced Jason Steele has been added to
the training squad to aid preparations for Wednesday's fixture.

Hodgson is expected to announce further
squad changes today, incidentally, in response to the withdrawals of Carrick and Defoe and because of Sturridge's inability to train.

The forward has discussed his
fitness with the England manager and, though reluctant to do so, is expected to
accept that he will be unable to play any part against Brazil
and could therefore leave the England camp.

Heart-to-heart: Sturridge could withdraw from England's squad after this conversation with Hodgson

Heart-to-heart: Sturridge could withdraw from England's squad after this conversation with Hodgson

All as one: The England senior team alongside the U21s and U19s

All as one: The England senior team alongside the U21s and U19s

All smiles: Wayne Rooney shares a joke with Glen Johnson

All smiles: Wayne Rooney shares a joke with Glen Johnson

Safe hands Middlesbrough goalkeeper Jason Steele is entirely unproven at the highest level

Safe hands Middlesbrough goalkeeper Jason Steele is entirely unproven at the highest level

Ashley Cole, however, was among the 11 available to Hodgson today, meaning he remains on course to follow Peter Shilton, David Beckham, Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton, Billy Wright and Steven Gerrard and become the seventh England player to reach 100 caps.

His presence is a real positive for England given the intimidating prospect of facing both Ronaldinho and Neymar, but even for all of the latter's reputation as one of the world's greatest talents, another of Hodgson's defenders, Phil Jagielka, has revealed his international team-mates are yet to truly know what it is they can expect from him.

'I don't know a lot about Neymar,' Jagielka said. 'We don't see a lot of footage. He plays in Brazil so it is tough for us.

Limited numbers: But England's ranks are expected to swell before Wednesday's friendly

Limited numbers: But England's ranks are expected to swell before Wednesday's friendly

Coaching conference: Roy Hodgson, Gary Neville and Stuart Pearce in discussion

Coaching conference: Roy Hodgson, Gary Neville and Stuart Pearce in discussion

Midfield rivals: Frank Lampard, Leon Osman and Tom Cleverley will all hope to feature in England's midfield

Midfield rivals: Frank Lampard, Leon Osman and Tom Cleverley will all hope to feature in England's midfield

'But we have video analysis people when we meet up with England and they will have plenty of footage for us to review.

'They will pick out his good points and bad ones. I am sure the good points will be going on for hours.'

Jason Steele of Middlesbrough receives England call

Jason who England turn to Steele to help prepare for Brazil as injured Sturridge gets ready to withdraw following heart-to-heart with Hodgson

when he was selected as Team
GB's understudy to Butland.

He is also remembered for being sent
off after coming on as a substitute for England U21s in a 2-0 defeat to
Germany, when midfielder Henri Lansbury was consequently forced to play
the final 32 minutes in goal.

Wellington Paulista goal: New boy scores for West Ham youth team

Paulista on target for Hammers as new boy makes first appearance

By
Rik Sharma

PUBLISHED:

19:36 GMT, 28 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

19:37 GMT, 28 January 2013


Hard worker: Wellington Paulista scored for the Development Squad

Hard worker: Wellington Paulista scored for the Development Squad

Wellington Paulista scored his first goal in a West Ham shirt as the club's Development Squad beat Arsenal 2-0 at London Colney.

The 29-year-old Brazilian, who scored 28 in 40 appearances last year at Cruzeiro, signed on a six-month loan deal and worked hard up front.

His header opened the scoring before Matthias Fanimo grabbed the second as Nick Haycock's youngsters helped the site start their U21 Premier League Elite Group Stage campaign with a bang.

Haycock was pleased with Paulista's efforts and praised him after the game for his work rate and determination.

'He's a good lad first and foremost. I've picked that up in training,' said Haycock.

'He wants to do extra, he wants to work, he wants to get fit, he's hungry. I thought he showed that in his performance today.

'You sometimes get players who are used to playing at a higher level in their own minds, and they come down to this level and don't put the performance in, but I couldn't question Wellington.'

Helping hand Paulista will boost Sam Allardyce's striking options

Helping hand Paulista will boost Sam Allardyce's striking options

Paulista is confident he will be able to make a strong impact at Upton Park and will not succumb to any pressures.

He said: 'The pressure will not be a problem for me because I am used to it from my time in Brazil, where the fans were really addicted to the club.

'The manager also put pressure on the players too, so it will be the same playing here.

'What I am interested in is the passion of the supporters for their team, the way they keep going with the club and the way they make the players perform better.'

He continued: 'I am strong, I am a fighter and I can score with both feet. I run a lot on the pitch and I can play as either a first or second striker.

'I think I can do my best here and I am coming to England to prove to everyone that I am one of the best strikers in Brazil and to get better and better.'

Gareth Bale wanted by Real Madrid as Jose Mourinho bids 33m for Spurs star

Bale tops Real Madrid shopping list as Mourinho bids 33m for Spurs star

|

UPDATED:

09:18 GMT, 28 December 2012

Real Madrid have stepped up their pursuit of Gareth Bale by putting together a 33million bid to try and prise him away from White Hart Lane.

Tottenham have been aware of Real's interest for months but will be concerned that the Spanish newspaper closest to them are now reporting that an offer has been made.

Marca claim it is for 40million euros and that manager Jose Mourinho will not rest until his top transfer target has been secured.

Real target: Spanish giants Madrid have Totenham winger Gareth Bale in their sights once again

Real target: Spanish giants Madrid have Totenham winger Gareth Bale in their sights once again

Big news: Marca revealed Real Madrid's determination to land Bale

Big news: Marca revealed Real Madrid's determination to land Bale

Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas dismissed Real's chances of landing Bale last week and insisted it was 'completely impossible' that the lightning-quick midfielder would be allowed to leave in the January window.

That will not deter Mourinho, who will wait until the end of the season, if need be, to add Bale's pace and finishing to Real's attack.

Hat-trick hero: Bale hit a treble for Spurs in their Boxing Day victory over Aston Villa

Hat-trick hero: Bale hit a treble for Spurs in their Boxing Day victory over Aston Villa

As a measure of Real's determination to take the 23-year old to the Spanish capital, Marca recently revealed that 56m had been set aside to cover the overall package required to make the deal a reality.

Bale further enhanced his flourishing reputation with a clinical hat-trick in Tottenham's 4-0 Boxing Day win at Aston Villa, and team-mate Sandro is in no doubt his talents would slot easily into the Brazil team.

Extra Christmas present: Bale went home with the match ball after destroying Villa in midweek

Extra Christmas present: Bale went home with the match ball after destroying Villa in midweek

'He is good enough to play for Brazil, and it is a shame he was born in Wales,' said the Tottenham midfielder.

'I have played with a lot of good players, but Bale is one of the very best.'

Tottenham look to be facing a battle to
keep the former Southampton winger from Real's clutches, though
Villas-Boas remained defiant when asked about his free-scoring star.

Bale fan: Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho knows all about the flying Welshman

Bale fan: Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho knows all about the flying Welshman

'We recognise he is one of our major assets, but there are no release clauses, and a player of his dimension has a market value that is unattainable for most other clubs,' he said.

Worryingly for Tottenham, Real are one of a handful who could match his market value, and it seems clear their initial approach is merely the opening shot in a transfer battle they are determined to win.

Neymar wants to stay at Santos instead of going to Manchester City

Settled Neymar frustrates Man City and Chelsea by insisting he's happy at Santos

|

UPDATED:

06:33 GMT, 27 December 2012

Neymar has dashed the hopes of Europe's elite by insisting he will not leave Santos in the January transfer window.

The 20-year-old has been linked with
Barclays Premier League sides Manchester City and Chelsea and Spanish
giants Barcelona and Real Madrid.

But the Brazil star says he is happy at Santos and that it is not the right time to leave.

Spot on: Neymar scored two, made one and them turned on the style

Settled: Neymar is happy at Santos and wants to concentrate on life in Brazil

He told TV Bandeirantes: 'I am happy at Santos, with my family, son, friends, so it's not the moment to leave.

'That moment will come because I have the dream of playing in Europe since I was a kid, but that moment hasn't come yet.

'Today, I don't see myself playing for any other team [than Santos].'

Last week Man City's director of
football Txiki Begiristain flew to South America to discuss a possible
move for the Brazil international.

Neymar enjoys playing for his country
and some believe he will not leave Santos until after the 2014 World
Cup, which is being hosted in his country.

In summer 2013 Brazil participate in the Confederation Cup and he is determined to make an impact.

'I would be lying if I said I am not thinking about the Confederations Cup,' he explained.

'I had two opportunities to play
competitions for the national team, one in the Olympics and another in
the Copa America, and I feel I am even more prepared now.

'I am very eager and I hope I will do a good job so we can win the title.'