Tag Archives: trophies

Liverpool having better season than last year – Glen Johnson

No trophies and seventh in the league… but Johnson insists Liverpool have improved

By
Dominic King

PUBLISHED:

06:15 GMT, 9 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

06:15 GMT, 9 April 2013

Glen Johnson insists Liverpool's season has been 'clearly better' than the last campaign which ended with them winning a trophy and qualifying for Europe.

Liverpool, whose hopes of top six finish were dented by a 0-0 draw with West Ham, never threatened to repeat their exploits of last year in knockout football when they reached both domestic cup finals, winning the League Cup against Cardiff.

Bar a huge turn of events, it is almost certain they will miss out on a place in the Europa League next year, too, as they are running out of games to overhaul Arsenal, Tottenham and Everton.

Luis Suarez

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard

Woe: Liverpool failed to break down a dogged West Ham defence at Anfield last weekend

Johnson, though, is adamant that Liverpool – who are set to surpass the points tally of 52 they accrued 12 months ago – have made far greater progress under Brendan Rodgers than the Barclays Premier League table would suggest.

'I wouldn't say it (has been) so close but so far,' said the England right-back. 'It is clearly a better season than last season. Brendan is looking to improve the squad and we have got a better squad than we did have. He will look to improve again in the summer.

'If we can nick the goals we need from games (like against West Ham), we will be right in amongst it (next season).'

When asked why he felt it was a 'clearly better season', Johnson replied: 'It's a few things. You look at the squad, the feeling that there is around the place, the football that we are playing – 8 times out of 10, we have been battering teams.

Past glories: Liverpool won the Carling Cup last season but will finish this campaign without a trophy

Past glories: Liverpool won the Carling Cup last season but will finish this campaign without a trophy

'That wasn't the case last season. We won a trophy last season and, of course, that was fantastic. Everyone wants to win. That's what we are in the game for. But in terms of getting Liverpool back where they belong, we want to be back in the top four.'

Johnson, who has been one of Liverpool's most consistent performers under Rodgers, believes it is vital for the club's critics to look at this season in isolation, as he is adamant there will be significant improvement when things are fully settled.

'Brendan was brought in to rebuild the squad and put Liverpool back into the places that it should be (as a club),' said Johnson. 'He wants to put us back in the top four but he wasn't asked to do that in his first season. This season has been a step closer to that.

Main man: Glen Johnson (centre) praised manager Brendan Rodgers for his impact at the club

Main man: Glen Johnson (centre) praised manager Brendan Rodgers for his impact at the club

'Everyone – players, staff, fans – would love us to be back in the top four but if we improve on last season then it is a step in the right direction. We are still pretty close to the top four. If we can start nicking games like West Ham, we are going to be right in amongst it.'

Meanwhile, Liverpool target Toby Alderweirled has stated that he would prefer a move to Anfield this summer. The Belgian defender is expected to leave Ajax and has been courted by a number of English clubs, including Newcastle and Everton.

'I do not want to play for an English club in mid-table,' said Alderweirled. 'Unlike Newcastle, Liverpool meets my criteria.'

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Rafa Benitez press conference: Chelsea manager defiant

Rafa responds! Defiant Benitez insists he wants the fans to back him and the team

: West Brom 1 Chelsea 0 (Gareth McAuley, 82)

The Portuguese was supposed to be given the freedom to overhaul an ageing squad, but with a place in the top four and Champions League football slipping from Chelsea's grasp, Villas-Boas was given his marching orders in early spring. Di Matteo was brought in and delivered the FA Cup and Champions League trophies.

ROBERTO DI MATTEO

November 17, 2012: West Brom 2 Chelsea 1 (Shane Long, 10, Peter Odemwingie 50; Eden Hazard 39)

After leading Chelsea to a first Champions League title while interim boss, the Italian's permanent appointment was short-lived. A 2-1 loss at the Hawthorns, the team's first away defeat of the league season, was followed by a European defeat at Juventus which sealed Di Matteo's fate and saw Benitez drafted in.

Roberto Di Matteo airbushed from Chelsea history – club remove Champions League picture

Di Matteo airbrushed from Chelsea history as club remove Champions League picture featuring former boss

By
Neil Ashton

PUBLISHED:

22:58 GMT, 26 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

02:13 GMT, 27 February 2013

Before: This picture featuring Roberto Di Matteo has been replaced

Before: This picture featuring Roberto Di Matteo has been replaced

Roberto di Matteo has been airbrushed out of Chelsea’s Champions League history after the club replaced his image on an iconic wall at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea’s history-making manager, sacked last November by owner Roman Abramovich, was pictured on the West Stand wall with the rest of the squad and their trophies at the start of the season.

Di Matteo has now been replaced by a huge image of Chelsea’s players and coaching staff — minus the manager — celebrating the club’s first European Cup triumph in the Allianz Arena.

And Chelsea supporters, who often take souvenir pictures next to the giant poster, have been left stunned by the decision.

The
new image is one of the few in existence with the team and coaching
staff celebrating their triumph without Di Matteo present.

The
popular Italian led Chelsea to their first European Cup last May, but
was brutally axed following a 3-0 defeat at Juventus in November.

The original picture of the squad was in
place at the start of the season, but Di Matteo has only just been
removed.

After: This is the picture which you can find at Stamford Bridge now, not featuring the former manager

After: This is the picture which you can find at Stamford Bridge now, not featuring the former manager

Gone and forgotten: Di Matteo led the Blues to double cup success before being ousted

Gone and forgotten: Di Matteo led the Blues to double cup success before being ousted

Gone and forgotten: Di Matteo led the Blues to double cup success before being ousted

He was still in place when Chelsea played Wigan at Stamford
Bridge on February 9, but had gone by the time they faced Brentford in
an FA Cup fourth-round replay on February 17.

Although the club insist the change was made because Di Matteo is no longer Chelsea manager, they are still using pictures of other departed stars in the new image outside Stamford Bridge.

Didier Drogba, who struck the winning penalty against Bayern Munich last May, is in the front row with Chelsea’s players.

Troubled times: Interim boss Benitez has failed to lift the gloom at Stamford Bridge

Troubled times: Interim boss Benitez has failed to lift the gloom at Stamford Bridge

Troubled times: Interim boss Benitez has failed to lift the gloom at Stamford Bridge

Florent Malouda, banished to training with the academy players in his final year and told he will never play for Chelsea again, is also in the frame.

Jose Bosingwa, who joined QPR in the summer on a free transfer, is another former player captured on the image, which has a prominent place just by the stadium’s entrance.

Chelsea last night pointed out that Di Matteo is pictured with the FA Cup in another area of the concourse.

Arsenal financial figures show 120m in the bank after 17m six-month profit

Arsenal are sitting on whopping 120m in the bank… so why did they only spend 8.5m on a full back in January as their rivals left them behind

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The club, who are under increased pressure from fans to start competing in the transfer market, also showed that money was made on player sales once again, despite including the extra funds used to improve the contracts of Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and others.

The news will receive mixed reviews from fans who are growing impatient at the lack of ambition shown in the market.

Show me the money: Arsenal have released their financial figures to show they turned a profit once again

Show me the money: Arsenal have released their financial figures to show they turned a profit once again

Arsenal were off the pace in the battle for fourth when the January transfer window opened, yet they waited until the final hours to strengthen their squad, only then spending a minimal 8.5m on left back Nacho Monreal.

The lack of action came after a summer in which the club sold their captain, Robin van Persie, to Manchester United for 24m.

Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood
said: 'Our ability to compete at the top of the game here and in Europe
is underpinned by our financial performance which gives the club
strength and independence.

'Our desire is to make everyone
connected with Arsenal proud of the club. We know that comes through
winning trophies but also through the way we do things and that will
remain our constant guide.'

The financial report states the that
'profit on sale of player registrations amounted to 42.5m' – down
from 63m in 2011 but still a cause of concern to those fans who
believe Arsenal have not replaced players such as van Persie and before
him Cesc Fabregas by those of similar quality.

Hill-Wood insisted, however, that was not the case.

He added in a statement: 'Let me be
quite clear that our intention is to keep our best players and recruit
new talent to make us stronger.

'Although we were disappointed to see Van Persie leave the club, we have taken steps to secure our best
players going forward and have recently signed Jack Wilshere, Theo
Walcott, Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Carl
Jenkinson to new long-term contracts.

'During this financial period we also
invested 40.9m in the acquisition of new players, Lukas
Podolski, Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud, and the extension of other
player contracts. More recently we added Nacho Monreal to our ranks from
Malaga.'

Solitary buy: Monreal (left) was Arsenal's only purchase in January

Solitary buy: Monreal (left) was Arsenal's only purchase in January

Boost: Arsenal improved the deals of six homegrown players this season, but still turned profit

Boost: Arsenal improved the deals of six homegrown players this season, but still turned profit

Feeling the heat: Arsene Wenger

Feeling the heat: Arsene Wenger

Hill-Wood said that the Premier
League club's agreement to bring in financial fair play-style spending
controls would help Arsenal.

He said: 'These new rules will be good for us, good for the Premier League and good for the game as a whole.

'It is important that we maintain the
quality and level of competition if the game is to continue being a
compelling spectacle and we believe the introduction of tighter
financial regulation will assist all clubs to compete while remaining
financially responsible.'

Arsenal's football turnover dropped
from 113.5m to 106m as a result of four fewer home
fixtures compared to the same period last year.

The report also
confirmed an extended partnership with Emirates which will be worth up
to 150m.

Hill-Wood added: 'The Emirates
partnership is one of the biggest sponsorship deals in the game and is
an endorsement of the commercial approach we are taking.'

The figures are for the half year to the end of November 2012.

Protests: Arsenal fans have grown frustrated with a lack of spending compared with high ticket prices

Protests: Arsenal fans have grown frustrated with a lack of spending compared with high ticket prices

Protests: Arsenal fans have grown frustrated with a lack of spending compared with high ticket prices

The Arsenal Supporters' Trust (AST) said the figures highlighted the need for the club to spend more money on team strengthening.

An AST spokesman said: 'These figures contain few surprises. They show that Arsenal yet again made a profit from the sale of their best players and that the club has large cash reserves.

'Arsenal fans have contributed to this financial health through paying some of the highest ticket prices in world football. A further improvement in the club's financial strength is expected when new TV monies and commercial deals come on stream in 2013 and 2014. AST members want to see this money used for more, and better, investment in the team'.

Rafael Benitez says he can win Chelsea the Premier League

Benitez: Give me a full season at Chelsea and we can be Premier League champions

By
Rob Draper

PUBLISHED:

21:52 GMT, 26 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

00:00 GMT, 27 January 2013

Rafa Benitez has admitted he would love to stay at Chelsea and that he would have a better chance of winning the league if the club give him a full season to impose his ideas.

Chelsea take on Brentford on Sunday in the FA Cup fourth round, the last domestic trophy they can realistically win, and Benitez says the negative reaction by fans to his reign so far would not stop him from taking the job next season if he were offered it and that he would relish a proper chance to challenge for the title.

Having lost the World Club Cup and been knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Swansea, Benitez would need to win the FA Cup or Europa League to convince owner Roman Abramovich to give him the job.

Stick with me: Rafa Benitez has urged Roman Abramovich to keep him in the job at Chelsea for a full season

Stick with me: Rafa Benitez has urged Roman Abramovich to keep him in the job at Chelsea for a full season

But Benitez believes his side are making progress and the key figures at the club – Abramovich, his assistant, Marina Granovskaia, and technical director Michael Emenalo – are said to be impressed with his approach to training and tactics.

Despite the Capital One Cup defeat and disappointments at home against QPR, Swansea and Southampton, Benitez is optimistic for next season.

'I'd like to be in a top side,' he said. 'And Chelsea are a top side with great potential. So it's a great opportunity. I came in the middle of the season, so I couldn't change too many things and I had to work with the squad I had.

'This team have enough quality and they're a good squad but the circumstances of this year have been difficult. This is a top side and if they continue doing things in the right way they will always be challenging for trophies.'

Benitez believes his record will stand up to scrutiny at the end of the season, given that the club have switched to a new playing style, are attempting to overhaul the key players and that he only started mid-season.

He said: 'If you go outside and it's snowing and you fall down, they say, “Ah, he fell down”. But the reality is, it's snowing, which makes it slippery and makes you fall down.

'So if you analyse all the managers [at Chelsea], how many had a pre-season here Not me. How many managers have spent massive money here Not me. How many managers have played in Japan in the middle of the season and have some players injured and some at the African Nations Only me.'

Shame: Eden Hazard was sent off in Chelsea's last outing for kicking out at a ball boy

Shame: Eden Hazard was sent off in Chelsea's last outing for kicking out at a ball boy

Back in action: Hazard was in training this week at Chelsea's Cobham base

Back in action: Hazard was in training this week at Chelsea's Cobham base

Benitez wants to sign a holding midfielder, having concluded the team do not distribute the ball quickly enough from defence to attack.

But Emenalo and the board are reluctant to commit to a major signing in January given that the identity of the future manager is unclear.

With Oriol Romeu injured and John Mikel Obi at the African Cup of Nations, Benitez has been forced to play Ramires and Frank Lampard in holding midfield almost every game when his inclination would be to rotate the older players.

Benitez said: 'We have enough quality in the squad. The question is do we have enough bodies'

Next up: Uwe Rosler will be hoping that Brentford can topple Chelsea on Sunday

Next up: Uwe Rosler will be hoping that Brentford can topple Chelsea on Sunday

Brendan Rodgers claims Luis Suarez will not leave Liverpool

Suarez isn't going anywhere, vows Rodgers as Liverpool chase European place

By
Andy Hampson, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

10:23 GMT, 26 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

10:23 GMT, 26 January 2013

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has no concerns about star striker Luis Suarez's commitment to the club.

The Uruguay international is enjoying an outstanding season having scored 20 goals for the Anfield outfit.

That has led to speculation that other clubs could move in for the 40million-rated forward if the Reds' absence from the Champions League continues.

Staying put: Brendan Rodgers says his star striker Luis Suarez will remain at Anfield even if they miss out on the Champions League

Staying put: Brendan Rodgers says his star striker Luis Suarez will remain at Anfield even if they miss out on the Champions League

Liverpool are currently seventh in the Barclays Premier League and facing a battle to regain a place in Europe's elite competition.

But Rodgers is confident Suarez shares his vision for the club and does not believe the 26-year-old's future on Merseyside depends on whether they qualify or not.

Don't walk away: Rodgers says he has no reason to doubt Suarez's commitment, despite rumours of a big money move

Don't walk away: Rodgers says he has no reason to doubt Suarez's commitment, despite rumours of a big money move

Rodgers said: 'Luis had a terrific season last season and he had an opportunity to leave in the summer, and probably would have had a ready-made excuse with a new manager coming in, but he never did.

'He committed to the club. He sees the vision going forward, and he believes in that.

'He knows it won't happen overnight. He has had a brilliant season with 20 goals until now, and hopefully there are many more to come.'

Sharp shooter: Suarez already has 20 goals this season

Sharp shooter: Suarez already has 20 goals this season

Suarez signed a long-term contract at Anfield in August.

Liverpool face a big week with an FA Cup fourth-round tie at Oldham followed by Premier League away trips to Arsenal and Manchester City.

Rodgers is determined to keep firing on all fronts.

He said: 'When you are a club like this you are judged on your trophies, and we want to improve in the league as well.'

Gerd Muller receives Lionel Messi"s signed Barcelona shirt

Special delivery! Muller receives gift from gracious Messi after Barcelona striker breaks German's goalscoring record

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Muller had held the record since 1972, when the man affectionately known as ‘Der Bomber’ fired in 85 goals while at Bayern.

Chuffed: Gerd Muller said he was 'happy and proud' to receive the gift from Lionel Messi

Chuffed: Gerd Muller said he was 'happy and proud' to receive the gift from Lionel Messi

Class: A close up of the signed shirt, saying: 'With my respect and admiration. A hug.'

Class: A close up of the signed shirt, saying: 'With my respect and admiration. A hug.'

But the ever-graceful Messi’s first thought upon breaking the record was for the man he had surpassed.

The 25-year-old sent his beaten adversary a signed Barcelona shirt with the message: ‘For Gerd Muller, with my respect and admiration. A hug. Leo.’ scrawled into the yellow No 10 on the back of the jersey.

Muller was delighted with the gift Messi has shipped to him, and said he was ‘happy and proud’ to be the recipient of such a gesture from 'the best player in the world'.

How many Lionel Messi poses with his four Ballon d'Or trophies

How many Lionel Messi poses with his four Ballon d'Or trophies

Familiar sight: Lionel Messi celebrates another goal against Malaga

Familiar sight: Lionel Messi celebrates another goal against Malaga

The Bayern reserve team coach, who was a truly fearsome striker for club and country during his playing days, watched Messi’s unparalleled goalscoring run last year earn him another record earlier this month: a fourth Ballon d’Or crown.

Barcelona president Sandro Rosell believes that Muller’s goalscoring record was a driving force for the Argentina captain in his bid to score as many goals as possible.

He said that Muller’s prolific performance 40 years ago was ‘a great motivating factor and stimulus for Leo.’

Prolific: Messi took the record from Muller, who scored 85 in 1972

Prolific: Messi took the record from Muller, who scored 85 in 1972

Victor Valdes is refusing to sign a new contract at Barcelona

Valdes refusing to sign new contract fuelling rumours he will join Guardiola at Bayern

By
Graeme Yorke

PUBLISHED:

23:21 GMT, 17 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

08:13 GMT, 18 January 2013

Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes is planning to leave the Spanish giants after he had turned down the chance to sign a new deal.

Valdes, who has spent his entire professional career at the Nou Camp, is contracted to Barcelona until the end of the 2013/14 season.

His representatives – Gines Carvajal is his principal agent – confirmed in a statement to Spanish national news agency Efe that Valdes intends to depart.

Victor Valdes will always be a favourite of Barcelona fans

Solid: Victor Valdes will always be a favourite of Barcelona fans

The statement read: 'The agents of Victor Valdes have communicated to Barcelona in a meeting held this afternoon the irrevocable decision of the player to not renew his contract.'

The 30-year-old has recently suggested he would consider a move to another league. With former Barcelona head coach Pep Guardiola heading to Bayern Munich next season, Valdes may become an early target of his old boss.

Valdes has been Barcelona's number one throughout the last decade, winning a host of trophies and earning recognition with Spain, however Real Madrid's Iker Casillas has remained the regular international goalkeeper.

Valdes has had to play second fiddle for Spain behind Iker Casillas

Too much quality: Valdes has played second fiddle for Spain behind Iker Casillas

John Terry to play for Chelsea Under 21s on Thursday as he recovers from knee injury

Terry's back! Chelsea skipper to play in kids' game as he steps up return from knee injury

By
Neil Ashton

PUBLISHED:

14:00 GMT, 8 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

18:00 GMT, 8 January 2013

Chelsea captain John Terry is close to a return to full fitness and may play in the club’s Under 21 side on Thursday.

Terry has been sidelined for nearly two months since injuring his knee in the draw with Liverpool on November 11 but may follow Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli's lead and have a run out with the kids.

Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez revealed: ‘He has been training and we are considering giving him some minutes in the Under 21 game on Thursday.’

Scroll down for video

In full training: Rafa Benitez has revealed John Terry is close to a first-team return

In full training: Rafa Benitez has revealed John Terry is close to a first-team return

‘We will see how he feels on Thursday
and, hopefully, he can play more minutes in a short time. We will see.
But at least it's a positive thing. Before he was just doing the
warm-up, so we're obviously closer.

‘It depends on his reaction. Thursday
will be a different kind of game, but we will see how he feels. He will
train the day after and, at least then, we can start considering him an
option.’

The Chelsea interim boss, who is under pressure to deliver trophies for trigger-happy owner Roman Abramovich after Pep Guardiola declared his readiness to return to management, also believes the competition for a starting place between strikers Demba Ba – signed at the start of this month from Newcastle – and 50million Fernando Torres will help get the best out of both of them.

On the ball: Terry back in training in the new year

On the ball: Terry back in training in the new year

The knee injury suffered by Terry has kept him out for two months

Ouch: The knee injury suffered by Terry has kept him out for two months

Benitez said: ‘They both know they have to compete and that it’s positive for both of them to have the competition.

'It's always important for any side to have different attacking options, so it’s good to have Demba Ba and Fernando Torres, especially with so many games.’

Ahead of facing Swansea in the first leg of the Capital One cup semi-final at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, Benitez added: ‘We have been playing a lot of games, so it’s complicated for us to prepare at times but in a top side it has to be like this.

Terry and Frank Lampard together on the training ground

Foot tennis: Terry and Frank Lampard together on the training ground

‘Swansea are a top side, we have a lot of respect for them, it should be a good game for the fan.

‘I will try to do my best for my club and get Chelsea to the final, and win.

‘We are growing and maturing and this experience is allowing us to improve together.’

Benitez
also discussed the Ballon d'or, saying: ‘We were talking about that
earlier – who decides and how they vote. But maybe you're missing one or
two players from this team.

‘When you talk about the Spanish league, you talk about Real Madrid and Barcelona, who are always in the Champions League and winning it.

‘You see those players in the list. The Premier League is a good league, very competitive, and you can lose against anyone.

‘We
had a good example, unfortunately, against QPR. In Spain it's more
difficult to see the difference, say, between Barcelona and Espanyol.’

Urgent call: Benitez is aware he is under pressure to win a trophy

Urgent call: Benitez is aware he is under pressure to win a trophy

VIDEO All the latest Chelsea news from Rafa…

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Real Madrid take on Real Sociedad in La Liga

Mission impossible Madrid face daunting challenge to close 16-POINT gap on rivals Barcelona

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

13:07 GMT, 5 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

13:33 GMT, 5 January 2013

Real Madrid will start what many believe to be mission impossible when the Primera Division restarts for them tomorrow.

Jose Mourinho's side take on Real Sociedad with the gap between them and leaders Barcelona standing at 16 points.

For even the most ardent Madrid fan, a successful title defence would appear to be impossible, with the Champions League now the primary focus.

Back in action: Real Madrid train ahead of their match with Real Sociedad

Back in action: Real Madrid train ahead of their match with Real Sociedad

According to defender Alvaro Arbeloa, though, they just have to carry on as normal.

'Real Sociedad are in their best form and it is going to be a difficult match, but we will go into it with desire and belief.

'I just want to win all of our matches from now until the end of the season.'

One sideshow will be who Mourinho starts in goal. There was uproar before Christmas when the Portuguese opted to sit out Iker Casillas and go with Antonio Adam playing in the loss to Malaga.

'The fans will support Real Madrid because they are fans of Real Madrid and not just of Casillas,' said Arbeloa, trying to play down any possible rows.

'It is important that they support the players, but also that they support the team. Whoever plays will have the support of his team-mates.'

Speculation: Jose Mourinho could leave Real Madrid in the summer

Speculation: Jose Mourinho could leave Real Madrid in the summer

The lure of a third Champions League title is thought to be driving Mourinho on this season, while the Copa del Rey still remains an option.

Arbeloa does not look at it that way, however, and wants every game to be treated the same.

'If this team wants to win trophies, it is impossible to do that without competing and giving everything in La Liga, and so it is difficult to give everything in the Copa,' he said.

'You cannot pick one day to play well and relax on other days.

'I would just aim to win all the matches. It could be that the Champions League is an easier objective than La Liga, but we are not a team that goes onto the pitch without giving our all every weekend and then does in the Champions League.

Rested: Madrid return after the winter break 16 points behind Barcelona

Rested: Madrid return after the winter break 16 points behind Barcelona

'We have to face all the challenges in our path and to do that you have to win in all the competitions.'

Sociedad head to the capital upwardly mobile. They are seventh in the table and have been producing some eye-catching performances under Philippe Montanier.

Some have backed them to spring a surprise and, although he will not call this a chance, Sociedad midfielder David Zurutuza does acknowledge there have been worse times to play Madrid.

'I don't think there is any good moment to visit the Bernabeu, but yes, if I had to choose a time it would be now, because they are missing important players,' he said.