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Fabrice Muamba cardiac arrest used in British Heart Foundation advert

Muamba's cardiac arrest to be shown in new British Heart Foundation TV advert

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Cardiac arrest: Muamba is treated on the pitch at White Hart Lane in March 2012

Cardiac arrest: Muamba is treated on the pitch at White Hart Lane in March 2012

Cardiac arrest victim Patrice Muamba helps to promote the Great…

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The 39-second ad is to be shown on ITV and Channel 4 from Saturday, and Sky Sports during the Tottenham and Manchester City match on Sunday.

Medics had to give Muamba 15 shocks to get his heart pumping again when he collapsed during an FA Cup clash with Tottenham last March.

The advert shows players – including Spurs' William Gallas and Benoit Assou-Ekotto – looking distressed as Muamba lies motionless on the pitch.

Speaking over the emotional scenes, BHF Research Professor Mark Kearney tells viewers: 'I hate my job. I hate the misery heart disease brings.

Tributes: Football fans around the world joined forces to wish Muamba well

Tributes: Football fans around the world joined forces to wish Muamba well

Tributes: Football fans around the world joined forces to wish Muamba well

'It lurks among the places you least expect – it takes the young and the fit and it does not discriminate. But we are fighting back.'

Bolton's club doctor Dr Jonathan Tobin revealed Muamba was 'effectively dead' for 78 minutes when he suffered the cardiac arrest.

He was taken to the London Chest Hospital, in Bethnal Green, East London, and spent a month in intensive care.

Muamba later announced his retirement from football on medical grounds, and thanked the doctors that saved him, adding: 'I thank God that I am alive.'

Emotional return: Muamba thanks fans at the Reebok Stadium in May 2012

Emotional return: Muamba thanks fans at the Reebok Stadium in May 2012

The match was abandoned at 1-1.

BHF Medical Director Professor Peter Weissberg today said: 'We are grateful to Fabrice for allowing us to share his story in a hard-hitting campaign that highlights the potential devastation of heart disease.

'With the support of researchers and heart patients like Fabrice, the Fight For Every Heartbeat campaign centres on the transformational research that will combat heart disease.'

Leo Fernandes, a painter and decorator who had a heart attack at 46 and also features in the ad, said: 'The truth is heart disease affects everyone.'

Muamba – a dad of one – joined the Arsenal academy in 2002 before moving to Birmingham, then Bolton in 2008.

Keeping busy: Muamba is unveiled as the honourary starter of the BUPA Great Manchester Run this week

Keeping busy: Muamba is unveiled as the honourary starter of the BUPA Great Manchester Run this week

This is not the first time the BHF have used a professional footballer in their adverts in a bid to widen their appeal.

Footballer-turned actor Vinnie Jones famously demonstrated how to do life-saving CPR to the Bee Gees' tune Stayin' Alive.

The BHF today released new research about heart disease to coincide with the launch of the latest advert.

Their figures show people living in poor areas of Britain are 2.87 times more likely to suffer heart disease than those from wealthier areas.

Experts say this is likely to be because people living in these areas are more likely to smoke.

Stiliyan Petrov can remain at Aston Vila – Paul Lambert

Villa will stand by Petrov after leukaemia battle is won, insists boss Lambert

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UPDATED:

00:03 GMT, 17 November 2012

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has hinted Stiliyan Petrov will have a future role to play at the club if he wins his battle against acute leukaemia.

Lambert was a team-mate and close friend of Petrov, who is currently in remission, when the pair played for several seasons at Celtic.

The Scot believes Villa 'will look after Stiliyan,' although he feels the Bulgarian international would not want any involvement purely for 'sentimental reasons.'

Recovery: Stiliyan Petrov is in recession after suffering from leukaemia

Recovery: Stiliyan Petrov is in recession after suffering from leukaemia

Lambert said: 'I spoke to Stiliyan when he came into the training ground the other day. You tend to forget about what's happened to him. I think seeing him puts everything into perspective.

'that's a guy I played football with for eight or nine years. I have seen him grow up as a young guy. The first day I saw him train at Celtic I thought “What have we signed”

'He was hitting shots from about 80 yards. He looked like the Nutty Professor. He was huge.

'Then he lost about nine stone and became a footballer. Then he became brilliant for Celtic.

'He was fantastic. Every time I see him now it brings a tear to your eye because that's a guy that I was really really close with and, thank God, that he's nearly there.'

As for any possible future role at
Villa, Lambert said: 'I think the way it is at the moment it's too soon,
because Stiliyan is still in remission.

Support: Paul Lambert hopes Petrov can remain with the club

Support: Paul Lambert hopes Petrov can remain with the club

'But I think the football club, Randy Lerner (owner) and Paul Faulkner (chief executive) will look after him, I really do, which I think is only right.

'He wouldn't want to get into something he thought it was just for sentimental reasons. He'd want to do it because he felt he could do it, was good at it, and he could pass his experience on.

'I don't think he would go into the hard raw football management with the stress levels.

'I think he would look at maybe doing something with kids, where there's no stress. You've got to remember it was life-threatening, that's not something to be taken lightly.'

Sorry Manchester City, UEFA will take your glad song and make it bitter – Martin Samuel

Sorry City, UEFA will take your glad song and make it bitter…

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 1 May 2012

Maybe it was the song. There is something rather wonderful about the coda to Hey Jude, something very affecting. They were at a peak then, The Beatles.

Hey Jude was recorded during sessions for their epic White Album, when they had their own record label, complete artistic freedom and were on top of the world. If the band wanted the first single on Apple to be seven minutes long, if Paul McCartney wanted a sing-a-long fade-out lasting four minutes, that's how it was.

'Paul walked over to the grand piano and said, “Hey, lads, have a listen”,' recalled Ron Griffith of the group Badfinger, the first to sign to Apple. 'He then played a full concert rendition of Hey Jude.'

Sing when you're winning: Liam Gallagher in celebratory mood at the Etihad on Monday night

Sing when you're winning: Liam Gallagher in celebratory mood at the Etihad on Monday night

Rock and roll: Liam with Diego Maradona

Rock and roll: Liam with Diego Maradona

McCartney's vision for the song was unflinching. He told George Harrison to stop playing a guitar response to every line. 'The movement you need is on your shoulder,' sang McCartney. He didn't know what it meant, either. 'I'll fix that later,' he told the band. John Lennon said he should keep it in. 'It's the best line in the song,' he insisted.

When it came to the final chorus, the orchestra – 10 violins, three violas, three cellos, two flutes, one contra bassoon, one bassoon, two clarinets, one contra bass clarinet, four trumpets, four trombones, two horns, percussion, and two string basses – were paid double time to stay behind and clap and sing along.

'Astonishingly transcendental,' said former Yale professor and musicologist Alan Pollack, on the coda of Hey Jude. 'What could have been boring is instead hypnotic.' Lennon was more concise. He called it McCartney's masterpiece.

And even now, when 45,000 Sky Blues stay behind on the final whistle to celebrate a milestone victory over Manchester United, by singing the na-na-na chorus, and inserting City at its end, the emotion on display, even for neutrals, is greatly moving.

On Monday it felt like a spell, and, sure enough, like saying Candyman three times into a mirror, it brought forth Beatles disciple Liam Gallagher, who gave an impromptu press conference, underlining the fact that City always shaded Manchester's music wars, too.

The Fall, New Order, Oasis and Doves versus Mick Hucknall – we should really leave it there – Terry Hall of The Specials and The Stone Roses on United's side (although you will notice the colour scheme in the iconic Pollockesque portraits of the Roses is sky blue and white, due to photographer Kevin Cummins being an absolute City nutter and singer Ian Brown not spotting his mischief).

Anyway, we seem to have digressed
somewhat, but the point is this. Imbued in City's moment of glory was
inescapable sadness, too: because this club is the last. For as long as
UEFA remain in charge of the purse strings of English football, we will
never tread this path again. The door is shut now.

Last of a dying breed: City fans enjoy their win - but UEFA will stop future fairytales

Last of a dying breed: City fans enjoy their win – but UEFA will stop future fairytales

This is the last group of fans who
can be lifted from mediocrity by the fairytale: the one where a very
rich man flies in bearing gifts and transports a club to the heavens.
And surveying the sheer pleasure that it brought one half of Manchester
on Monday, we have to ask: how did football allow this to happen

How did the sport permit a single man's idea of what is right and preferable to erase one of the most potent forces for good in the game Money from outside, coming in, to make dreams come true. What on earth was wrong with that

Forget Portsmouth, forget Leeds United, forget the financial disaster stories that are trotted out to make fans think like accountants and turn their fun, their weekend release, into an extension of mundane, recession-blighted existence.

Falling short: Arsenal would not have challenged Manchester United this year, even with Samir Nasri (centre)

Falling short: Arsenal would not have challenged Manchester United this year, even with Samir Nasri (centre)

This is not about spending money a club does not have, or ruinous owner loans that are given and then just as unthinkingly recalled. The focus here, specifically, is on the Abu Dhabi project and others like it, when a very rich man gives – without expectation of return – money to a football club to have a right old go.

Take City away and what would this season have brought A 13th Premier League title for Manchester United. Unlucky for some; mainly those who seek variety. Here comes another one, just like the other one.

More from Martin Samuel…

Martin Samuel: What is the point if Roy can't hope
01/05/12

Martin Samuel: City smiles better as Kompany and Co take a leap of faith
30/04/12

Martin Samuel: Out to get him No, what we all want are results
30/04/12

Martin Samuel: Hodgson's record reads: P 52 W 20 L 20… Is this a job for Mr Average
30/04/12

Martin Samuel: It's time to bet like a man, Roberto! City must risk it… United would
29/04/12

Martini's old hat, Mr Bond. Fancy a Bacardi Breezer

26/04/12

Martin Samuel: No travesty… Chelsea's defeat of Barcelona was beyond triumph
25/04/12

Martin Samuel: Stuff purism, Chelsea's victory over Barcelona was a triumph of sheer will
24/04/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

And don't pretend that Arsenal would have had more of a tilt at it, had City's wealth not taken their best players: Arsenal could call on Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri, plus a fit Jack Wilshere, in previous campaigns and did not get close.

Without owner investment and ambition, this is a one-team league. That slamming noise is the door shutting on the rest of football with City squeaking sideways through the diminishing gap just in time.

Every other club will have to do it the hard way now, even Liverpool, so the celebrations in Manchester marked the end of an era, too. It was an era dominated by the financial powerhouse that is Manchester United, but with the excitement of fresh faces and interlopers to at least keep them honest.

The biggest will have it easier from here, without having to meet the challenge of an equivalent to Roman Abramovich or Sheik Mansour's billions. Some talk of financial doping but it was never that. If you want to spend your money on your business, why not If money that was beyond football arrives and stays, the industry thrives.

Fortunately, in the English game, City and Chelsea made it in before the deadline passed, so our league should have four, maybe five clubs, capable of contesting the title. They are not so lucky in Spain, for instance, where it will take a miracle for the duopoly of Barcelona and Real Madrid to be broken.

There are competitions throughout Europe that will become wholly one-dimensional after this. It is why we need City to finish this job now, to win at Newcastle United on Sunday, then against Queens Park Rangers and form a powerful rivalry across town.

We cannot rely on the old ways, football's natural rhythms, the ebbs and flows caused by successful investment or unfortunate mismanagement.

UEFA will protect the worst from themselves and the best from the others, so City are the last of it. The era of austerity is upon us and there won't be too many singsongs from here.

Still don't understand what makes a Plastic Brit… howzat

Whenever the phrase Plastic Brit crops up around Team GB, there is invariably some twit who relates it to Kevin Pietersen and England's cricketers. What is the difference between Pietersen and Tiffany Porter, it is asked. And this week came the answer.

Unlike the orchestrators of Team GB, who continue to use weak rules governing nationality to their advantage at every turn, the England and Wales Cricket Board have recognised the discomfort felt by many over the blurring of boundaries and have opted to take action.

From now on, overseas players wishing to qualify to play for England have to wait seven years, not four: Pietersen would not have been able to make his famous 158 against Australia in the 2005 Ashes series had the new rules been in place.

So there is the separation: one organisation acknowledges a problem; the other seeks to exploit it.

National treasure: Kevin Pietersen's unforgettable 158 at the Oval in 2005 helped England win the Ashes

National treasure: Kevin Pietersen's unforgettable 158 at the Oval in 2005 helped England win the Ashes

Barmy to ban hero Barmby

Middlesbrough will not compete in the play-offs this week, but a banner on display during Saturday's game against Watford, said it all: 'Tony Mowbray – our hero.' Even if Mowbray fell short of a return to the Premier League, the fans appreciate the job he has done this season.

In football, there is something magnificent about the local boy made good. No doubt many in Middlesbrough's corner would rather wait a year and go forward with Mowbray, than attempt a quicker fix from outside.

Undoubtedly, what made Pep Guardiola's success at Barcelona so compelling was that he was their man, and it was his club. Alan Pardew has done magnificently with Newcastle United, but how much more perfect would it have been had Alan Shearer taken them to the brink of European qualification

This brings us to Nicky Barmby, now suspended and set to be sacked by Hull City owners Assem and Ehab Allam, for supposedly criticising the club.

The one thing we know about Barmby is that, for a man of his talent, he has spent considerably more time around Hull than is necessary: since 2004 as a player and from 2011 as manager. He must really love the place. He will also not be the first manager to encourage his bosses to spend a few quid.

It is madness to make an enemy of the local hero. If there is to be a revival on the east coast, it would have been much sweeter if Barmby had been its architect, and the owners clearly do not appreciate what a gem they possessed.

Setting the record straight on FA's decision to bypass Harry

First, from the in-tray, a few necessary corrections on the subject of Harry Redknapp.

'Where is Harry with his best football this season and great squad with two games to go Fifth.' Brian, Sunderland.

No, he's actually fourth with three games to go. Win the game in hand and he's a point behind Arsenal in third. To be in Brian's stated position he would have to lose 14-0 at Bolton Wanderers.

'A lot has been written about the job Redknapp's done at Spurs and their 'thrilling' Champions League exploits but when all is said and done he has got them to where they were under Martin Jol.' Karl, London.

Staying at Spurs: Harry Redknapp

Staying at Spurs: Harry Redknapp

'Apart from into the Champions League, with a top-four finish, Redknapp knows absolutely nothing about international football. Number of international games: Redknapp 0, Hodgson 80.' MoFo, London.

Number of professional appearances by Harry Redknapp 276, number by Roy Hodgson 0. So, extrapolating the logic here, Hodgson should never have got a league management job, and nor should translator Jose Mourinho or noted shoe salesman Arrigo Sacchi.

As for Spain, forget Pep Guardiola ever taking charge of the national team because he hasn't managed at international level. MoNonsense.

'To compare Hodgson with Redknapp and their track records this season is simply not fair. Maybe Hodgson should've blown the sort of money that Redknapp has at Spurs, Pompey and Southampton' Chris, Didcot.

Or Harry should have been allowed to spend like Manchester United and Manchester City before being dismissed for not keeping pace with them.

'Harry Rednapp the best England manager Nothing mentioned about the fact that relative to past seasons, Spurs are actually in a worse position while West Brom have improved.' Rambino, Birmingham.

Tottenham were bottom of the Premier League when Redknapp took over and two seasons later they were in the Champions League.

'Spurs really scared the Milan teams.' Lester Abrahart, Godalming.

They didn't just scare the Milan teams, they knocked AC Milan, Serie A leaders at the time, out of the Champions League over two legs and annihilated Inter Milan at home to the extent that it changed for ever the reputation of the player regarded as the best right back in the world, Maicon.

'Harry Redknapp has NEVER had a 50 per cent win average at any team he has managed.' Darius, Glasgow.

The headline regarding Hodgson's record at West Bromwich Albion read: Played 52, won 20, lost 20. Come on, do the maths. That's not a 50 per cent win average either, is it

'If you can so easily see how incompetent the FA are in this instance, maybe you should take another look at the Evra-Suarez case and you might realise that incompetence runs through the organisation.' Nellydean, West Midlands.

No, actually you're right, this is all about Suarez. Everything is. Sorry, I forgot.

And this is the crux of it, really. The case against Redknapp has to be manipulated to make it work because, ostensibly, there is no reason why a man who took Tottenham Hotspur from bottom of the Premier League on October 26, 2008 to a Champions League quarter-final with Real Madrid on April 5, 2011, should not even be worthy of an interview for the job as England manager.

England expects: Roy Hodgson was named as the new Three Lions boss on Tuesday afternoon

England expects: Roy Hodgson was named as the new Three Lions boss on Tuesday afternoon

We have been bemoaning the absence of Champions League experience in English managers for decades now, then one comes along and we ignore him.

If Redknapp wasn't around, Roy Hodgson would have been favourite for England and well supported. But he was, and so compelling was his case, it was simply presumed that he would be considered.

Face it, if the Redknapp decision wasn't so baffling, it would not require so many conspiracy theories about why he was overlooked: the importance of work at Burton-on-Trent, or his relationship with Sir Trevor Brooking, one of the four-man Club England committee.

For the record, Redknapp says that Brooking was very supportive when his father died, came to the funeral, and he is perplexed at rumours of a rift. There is a book about former West Ham United managers that goes more deeply into the circumstances of Redknapp's replacement of Billy Bonds and suggests a greater fissure, but Brooking insists he based his decision on professional, not personal, reservations, and we can only trust him.

Personally, I will always feel that the Football Association's unnecessary timescale and insistence that Tottenham Hotspur's season could not be affected made it impossible to approach Redknapp until it was too late.

Still, the serious stuff will soon begin, so there is no point decrying Hodgson simply for not being somebody else. He won't be Redknapp, or Fabio Capello, either. Maybe he will be better. Let's hope so. He is an English coach, brought through the English coaching system and if this works it should set the FA template.

We cannot know how Hodgson will fare and as for Redknapp, we never will, which seems a missed opportunity. But that's the past. We draw the line here and a new era begins. It's time to get the ball out.

Barcelona v Chelsea: Beauty always needs a beast – Martin Samuel

Beauty always needs a beast: Gritty Chelsea make Pep's magicians special

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 23 April 2012

Take away Professor James Moriarty and Sherlock Holmes is a plain old consulting detective, operating out of his comfortable home in 221B Baker Street.

Among the most identifiable figures in literature, he still needed a black-hearted adversary to make him special.

After champion driver Alain Prost retired, his greatest rival Ayrton Senna took to calling him up, asking him to reconsider. Racing wasn't the same without his great foe at the wheel. And as any Batman fan knows, it's all downhill after The Joker.

Centre of attention: Chelsea face Barcelona for a spot in the Champions League final on Tuesday night

Centre of attention: Chelsea face Barcelona for a spot in the Champions League final on Tuesday night

'When super-villains want to scare each other, they tell Joker stories,' says Trickster, a lesser crook appearing in the 1995 DC comic series Underworld Unleashed.

Those wanting to scare Barcelona tell Chelsea stories instead. John Terry standing firm with two broken ribs. The six games that have passed since Barcelona last beat them. The time Chelsea came back from 2-1 down to win 5-4 on aggregate.

'Really strong, really competitive,' was how Barcelona central defender Gerard Pique described Chelsea yesterday.

Leading the way: The Blues arrive in Barcelona with a slender 1-90 advantage over the Spanish giants

Leading the way: The Blues arrive in Barcelona with a slender 1-90 advantage over the Spanish giants

'They know how to play these games and are very experienced. Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, players like this have a lot of games in their legs. They know exactly what they are doing.'

Behind the curmudgeon's mask – Barcelona's players rarely lose without laying a charge of anti-football against the victors – there appears grudging admiration between these sides.

When Barcelona captain Carles Puyol greeted his opposite number Terry before last week's match at Stamford Bridge, there was surprising warmth between the two old warriors.

David Luiz

Didier Drogba

Hair we go: David Luiz and Didier Drogba train at the Nou Camp on Monday evening

As Puyol nursed a hand injury in the first-half, Terry held it almost mockingly when they came together at a corner, as if to make the point that men of their stature are not fazed by trivial wounds. Puyol, of course, played on.

As Barcelona and Chelsea will play on tonight, beauty and the beast, their styles contrasting, perfectly. The best fights, it is said, are between boxers who conflict technically, and perhaps the best football, too.

Barcelona versus Barcelona Lite would be a poor contest – as it has often proved when the Catalans face Arsenal, and even Manchester United of late – but Barcelona pitted against a nemesis, Chelsea, or any of the teams managed by Jose Mourinho (which still includes Chelsea to some extent, such is his terrifying influence) is a real match.

Reach for the stars: Chelsea are looking for revenge after losing their 2009 semi-final against Barca

Reach for the stars: Chelsea are looking for revenge after losing their 2009 semi-final against Barca

So they need each other. Just as Holmes needed Moriarty, 'the Napoleon of crime' as Arthur Conan Doyle styled him, so Barcelona must take their own trip over the Reichenbach Falls, locked in combat with a cunning, brutish villain, powerful, relentless, and last week seemingly impervious to attack.

The critics have it wrong. 'For the sake of the game, I hope Barcelona win,' said former Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin Van Der Sar. 'I love teams who attack, Chelsea did nothing but defend with nine players.'

Ronald Koeman, who scored the goal that won Barcelona the European Cup against Sampdoria in 1992, joined this chorus of disapproval.

Pure theatre: The Nou Camp will play host to Tuesday night's second leg

Pure theatre: The Nou Camp will play host to Tuesday night's second leg

'I have no admiration for Chelsea's approach,' he sniffed. 'I was appalled they did not try to make more of the game. As a coach, I would never let my team play as Chelsea did.'

As a coach he may not get the chance again. Koeman's Feyenoord team are currently third in the Dutch Eredivisie, six points off top place, but three points from sixth. This is his ninth coaching job since 1998 and while he has won three Dutch titles (Ajax 2001-02, 2003-04 and PSV Eindhoven 2006-07), recent appointments include a disappointing spell at Valencia, who fell to 15th on his watch and seven defeats in 16 matches during a brief spell at AZ Alkmaar.

High-minded principles are to be admired but a meeting of Barcelona and Koeman's current Feyenoord team would in all likelihood be a mismatch, signifying nothing.

On the ball: Barca will be keen to bounce back from their 2-1 defeat at the hands of Real Madrid on Saturday

On the ball: Barca will be keen to bounce back from their 2-1 defeat at the hands of Real Madrid on Saturday

There is little more tiresome than good football, played ineffectively. Barcelona murder teams that try to match them technically without the necessary equipment. All Chelsea have ever done to frustrate them is play to their own strengths and coach Roberto Di Matteo's gameplan is unlikely to stray too far from the tried and tested tonight.

'We have to attempt to score, because it is difficult to play for a goalless draw in Nou Camp,' he admitted.

'We will concentrate on the qualities within this team, look at the strengths of our players and the weakness of the opposition. We need to get the best out of ourselves.'

Does this mean more dogged defending, a bank of nine resisting, quick counter attacks and some direct play up to an imposing forward, probably Drogba More than likely. But what is wrong with that Where does it say that football equates to Barcelona and a million lame imitations

In charge: Guardiola oversees Barcelona's exciting brand of football

In charge: Guardiola oversees Barcelona's exciting brand of football

It is the existence of a team such as Chelsea, experienced, well-schooled, quick, physically imposing, horrible to play against at their best, that make us appreciate Barcelona's devotion to football's aesthetic qualities all the more.

Their aim is fiendishly hard to achieve (as Arsenal's recent trials have shown): they want to win every game playing beautifully, to triumph with football alone. Football skills, football thought – and fair enough, the odd example of football's dark arts – it is, at its height, a purists tingling fantasy.

And if every opponent aped it, if every team was a nod to Tottenham Hotspur under Ossie Ardiles – 'pass, pass, pass,' he would say, 'play, play, play' but unfortunately all they did was lose, lose, lose – then we would never realise how great Barcelona are.

It needs a cussed Chelsea team, marshalled by Terry, with Drogba a potent force, unplayable at his finest, to put Barcelona into relief.

It needs Pep Guardiola's often ill-tempered battles with Mourinho to remind us that truly great football is never easy, not even with Lionel Messi, Xavi, Cesc Fabregas or Andres Iniesta in the team.

Barcelona prove that a good big 'un doesn't always beat a good little 'un, but if the good little 'un falters, as Barcelona have recently, they can still lose. Not to everybody; but to Chelsea, certainly. And Real Madrid.

'We have done so well in the last few years that, at times, we don't even know who the opponents are,' Guardiola admitted.

'So if we do not beat Chelsea it is because they are a strong, strong team and this is their competition. And if they beat us, congratulations. We are ready to fight against them, to reach the final, yet we're not always going to be good.

'We need to be more demanding all the time. Our way of playing is very peculiar: passing and passing is our essence and that is how we will continue to play while I am manager. Our principle is always the same, have a ball kicking the ball around. That is the idea and we don't touch it. It started in my first game for the club, in Scotland, and it continued until our last game against Real Madrid. And we have won respect for playing this way, but the past does not matter. This is a time for the players; and they are huge players.'

Indeed, they are. The best players. Arguably the most outstanding club side many have seen, certainly in the modern era. And we know that because to overcome Chelsea, makes them so.

Koeman and Van Der Sar miss the point. Remove Terry, remove Drogba, and the wonders Barcelona offer would just be so much useless beauty

Spain"s 56 per cent tax for top football earners

Premier League to benefit as Spain announces 56 per cent tax band for top earners

Fans of Barclays Premier League clubs could receive a huge boost from an unlikely source as it has been revealed the Spanish government plans to introduce a whopping 56 per cent tax band for top earners.

The new rate of income tax would hit foreign football stars hard, leading them to look elsewhere for their next megabucks deal, directing them to the richest league in the world.

La Liga had been living a charmed life under the old ‘Beckham Law’, introduced just before the former Manchester United midfielder joined Real Madrid in 2003.

Taking the Cris: Ronaldo will be hit hard in the pocket by the new move

Taking the Cris: Ronaldo will be hit hard in the pocket by the new move

Under that system foreign players only paid 24 per cent tax – which was lifted in 2010 – and this has now been replaced with the new system, clearing the way for English clubs to compete on an even footing with their Spanish counterparts.

Jose Maria Gay, economics professor at the University of Catalunya, told The Sun: 'Now foreign players will be more expensive.

'Before, thanks to the cushy Beckham Law, we were among those who paid the least in that area and now we are among those who pay the most.

'It is 54 per cent — 56 per cent in Catalunya. The repeal of the Beckham Law along with the rise in income tax is a bad joke.'

Tempted Now English clubs could offer Messi a better return on his wages

Tempted Now English clubs could offer Messi a better return on his wages

The rise in the top income tax band to 54 per cent – or 56 per cent in Catalunya – could pave the way for the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo to return to the English top flight.

While fans across the country will be licking their lips in anticipation of the arrival of some of Spain’s top talent in this country.