Galliani exit next month

Adriano Galliani has declared his plans to stand down as AC Milan CEO after the Serie A side’s final Champions League group game, at home to Ajax on December 11.

The 69-year-old had come under fire in recent months following the Rossoneri‘s disappointing start to the season and a number of reports had already suggested that he was ready to throw in the towel after falling out with board member Barbara Berlusconi, daughter of club owner Silvio.

Galliani has now confirmed that he will indeed resign, although he has voiced his frustration with the way things have gone in the past few weeks.

“I will resign in the next few days, probably after the match against Ajax,” Galliani told reporters on Friday. “I will leave the club either with or without compensation.

“I understand that there comes a moment where it’s time for change, but not like this. My reputation has been damaged. This should have been treated a bit more delicately.

“I don’t know yet how my future will look like. I will take some time off first and then I will make a decision.”

Galliani had been Milan CEO ever since 1986 and saw the San Siro giants win five European Cups during his tenure, as well as eight Serie A titles.

Cuadrado debunks Bayern Munich rumours,eager for Fiorentina’s success

fiorenFiorentina midfielder Juan Cuadrado insists he wants to remain and fight for trophies at the club despite reported interest from Bayern Munich.

Bayern Munich is the latest club to be connected with an interest in the 25-year-old, but Cuadrado has made it clear that he wants to continue to develop better by staying with Vincenzo Montella’s side.

“This is the right place to grow – I was convinced by that from the first day I arrived here. I want to win at Fiorentina,” he told Sky Sport Italia.

Cuadrado came on as a substitute as la Viola laboured to a 0-0 Europa League draw with Pacos Ferreira on Thursday, and the Colombia international was keen to stress his side were not made to struggle simply due to his absence in the early part of the match.

“It’s nice for me to play often. Returning to the pitch has helped us forget the disappointment suffered in Udine,” he continued.

“I don’t think the team is dependent on my play. I always try to improve, but my team-mates are very important because they help me to express myself better.”

Villas-Boas commends Tottenham's patience

Andre Villas-BoasTottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas has expressed his admiration for his side’s patience in their 2-0 Europa League win over Tromso on Thursday.

Spurs progress to the next round of the competition as Group K winners was guaranteed thanks to Anzhi Makhachkala’s 1-1 draw with Sheriff Tiraspol, took all three points through an Adnan Causevic own goal and Mousa Dembele’s strike.

At first, it seemed as if the Norwegian side would hold out to frustrate Villas-Boas’s men with some stubborn defending but the Portuguese was happy with the visitors’ determination and persistence.

“We played very well and it was important that we won in a comfortable way with a result that would put us through [in first place] and we did exactly that,” he told the press. “We showed patience and finally managed to get in behind them.”

The north Londoners went into game following back-to-back Premier League defeats, the last of which was a 6-0 thrashing at Manchester City, and Villas-Boas was thrilled to return to winning ways ahead of Manchester United’s visit to White Hart Lane on Sunday.

“We played well down the flanks, moved the ball well in midfield and created lots of good situations,” he continued.

“I’m happy for the team and happy we bounced back in preparation for the match against United.

“It was important for us to get back to winning ways. We said that before the game when we were in London. We knew about the conditions, the snow and the artificial pitch and the players did well to get the result.”

This ain’t the Ilicic we once knew – Montella

lillicFiorentina coach Vincenzo Montella has explained that Josip Ilicic must be given time to return to full fitness after another poor performance in his side’s 0-0 draw with Pacos Ferreira.

La Viola saw their 100 per cent record in this season’s Europa League tarnished in Portugal, with summer signing Ilicic putting in a particularly laboured performance as the Serie A side strived hard to find their rhythm.

However,Montella insists the midfielder has not been lucky with injuries since his move from Palermo in July and is quite sure he will soon see the 25-year-old back to his best.

“It was difficult to find space tonight as our opponents put 10 men behind the ball,” he told Sport Mediaset.

“It’s a shame we didn’t win, but the boys worked hard to try and score until the 95th minute.

“He [Ilicic] needs to play, as this cannot be the Ilicic we know. He has been unlucky so far with the Viola, as he arrived with a few fitness problems and then picked up another injury straight away.

“This slowed down his process of settling into the team, but we will soon see him back in his best shape.”

Fiorentina had already secured their place in the knockout phase of the Europa League prior to Thursday’s clash, and will finish top of their group if they avoid defeat against Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk on matchday six.

The tension between Barcelona and Real Madrid is just too much-Sergio Ramos laments

serg2Sergio Ramos explained that there was “excessive” tension between Real Madrid and Barcelona players in the past but insists they have put it behind them.

The Spanish giants locked horns in the semi-finals of the Champions League and the final of the Copa del Rey in addition to their Liga campaign, with five red cards shown across the five heated fixtures.

Ramos admits there was significant hostility between the players at the time but has illustrated that they’ve moved on from the issue, a fact he believes is sealed by his friendship with Gerard Pique.

“The tension behind that series of games we played against them in the Champions League and Copa [del Rey] was excessive, but we found a solution and it’s behind us now. We musn’t live in the past now, but look to the future,” Ramos told the January edition of FourFourTwo.

“It was said I had a problem with Pique and that wasn’t so. We’ve since spent time together and I’ve found he’s a great guy, with a big heart.”

Ramos discussed further the combative characteristics which define his style both on and off the pitch, and pointed to a notable penalty during the Euro 2012 semi-final with Portugal as proof of his zeal to succeed.

“I’m a person who always says things clearly. I always tell people what I think. I have something of the bullfighter in me. My family is passionate about the bulls and I considered being a bullfighter, but I opted for football instead,” continued the Spain international.

“One example [of this characteristic] was the penalty against Portugal, which happened after the penalty I missed against Bayern Munich [in the Champions League].

“That was heavily criticised and had a wide impact. My family suffered, especially my mother and my sister, so I wanted to make it up to them through this Panenka penalty.

“Before the game, I spoke to [Spain coach Vicente] Del Bosque and asked: ‘If there is a penalty, can I chip it?’ He laughed, saying that, when the time came, I wouldn’t have the nerve.

“Well, the opportunity came and I decided to do it. And so it happened.”

Ryan Giggs still bent on playing on after turning 40

gigg2Manchester United midfielder Ryan Giggs is in no desire to retire despite turning 40 on Friday.

Ryan Giggs has spent his whole career at Old Trafford, making 953 club appearances since making his debut against Everton in 1991.

“I’m lucky that I have been at one club, where I am surrounded by good players and a good manager,” he said.

“It can be hard sometimes but I am still enjoying it. As long as that is the case I will carry on.

“I still want to do well in every game, want to win trophies and my focus needs to be on that.”

Giggs, who has won as many league titles as Arsenal (13), is out of contract at the end of the season and although he has also taken on coaching duties he wants to continue to play for as long as possible.

If Giggs were to be offered, and signed a new one-year contract it would take his stay at United to 24 years and could see him reach the landmark of 1,000 appearances for the Red Devils.

“If I’d moved from club to club I’d be finished by now,” he added, as is the case with fellow ‘Class of 92’  members David Beckham, Phil Neville and Nicky Butt.

He has also outlasted Gary Neville and Paul Scholes who both retired after spending their entire careers at Old Trafford.

“I look after myself and try to train every day in order to make myself available for selection,” added Giggs.

“I enjoy it as much as I can and, of course, try to contribute to the team.”

That contribution has helped United to win 13 Premier League titles, four FA Cups, four League Cups, two Champions League trophies, one Uefa Super Cup, one Intercontinental Cup and one Fifa Club World Cup, as well as nine Community Shields.

“I don’t know what the younger lads think of me,” added Giggs.

“When I was 17 and 18 I thought 31 was ancient. Here I am at 40.”

Robben suspicious of Braunschweig

arjeBayern Munich’s Arjen Robben has cautioned his teammates to avoid anything ‘strange’ that might happen when the Bundesliga leaders host bottom side Eintracht Braunschweig on Saturday.

Strugglers Braunschweig could not have picked a worse time to travel to the home of all-conquering Bayern, who are on record runs in both the Bundesliga and Champions League.

Munich’s emphatic 3-0 win at Borussia Dortmund last Saturday extended their record run to 38 matches unbeaten in the Bundesliga.

And Wednesday’s 3-1 win at CSKA Moscow gave them a record 10th consecutive Champions League victory.

But Bayern want to consolidate their four-point gap at the top of the German league table and Robben has warned his teammates not to assume three more points at the Allianz Arena.

“We respect each and every opponent and I’ve often seen in my career that when top plays bottom, strange things can happen,” said the 29-year-old Robben.

“That’s why everyone should concentrate on their performance, we have to be fully focused and it won’t be easy.

“You should never take anything for granted in games like these.”

Braunschweig coach Torsten Lieberknecht has said his side are neither “underdogs, nor lapdogs” as they look for their first ever win over Bayern in Munich and only their third win of the season.

But the odds are stacked heavily against an upset.

Braunschweig have never won in Munich, after four draws with 14 defeats in 18 meetings, and they have failed to score in their last four matches against Bayern.

It has been just under five years since the Bavarian giants last slipped up against the side bottom of the table when they crashed to a 2-0 defeat at Energie Cottbus in 2008.

Second-placed Bayer Leverkusen are home to Nuremberg as they look to bounce back from their 5-0 drubbing to Manchester United on Wednesday at the BayArena, their worst defeat in Europe.

Bayer are unbeaten in 11 Bundesliga home games since March, when they went down 2-1 to Bayern, while Nuremberg are the only team in Europe’s top five leagues without a win after eight draws and five defeats this season.

Having got their Champions League campaign back on track with a 3-1 win at home to Napoli on Tuesday, Borussia Dortmund are looking to kick-start their Bundesliga form at Mainz 05 after consecutive defeats.

A crop of injuries has seen coach Jurgen Klopp forced to cobble together a back four.

New signing Manuel Friedrich, who was without a club before being signed by Dortmund ten days ago, is expected to partner Sokratis at centre-back having sat out the Napoli victory as he was cup-tied.

Fresh from their Champions League draw at Steaua Bucharest, Schalke 04 host their bogey team VfB Stuttgart on Saturday looking to build some form having thrown away a 2-0 lead in Saturday’s 3-3 draw at Eintracht Frankfurt.

Against no other Bundesliga side have Stuttgart won more matches than Schalke with 41 victories with Thomas Schneider’s team winning four of their last five matches against the Royal Blues.

With 26 goals conceded after 13 games, Schalke have their worst defence for 20 years and will be without goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand, who has a bruised hip.

Ghana midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng is an injury concern having missed the Bucharest tie with a knee problem.

Mohamed Salah targets Chelsea

Mohamed SalahChelsea’s Champions League tormentor Mohamed Salah wants to move to Stamford Bridge.

The Basel winger scored the only goal in his side’s 1-0 win over Jose Mourinho’s men on Tuesday .

The Egyptian also scored a goal in London when the Swiss outift won 2-1 .

Salah, 21, told The Sun: “I’m very proud to have scored two goals against Chelsea.

“I want to play for one of the best teams in the world.

“My favourites are Real Madrid, Manchester United and Chelsea.”

Tottenham and Liverpool also want Salah, whose leaving Basel in June

Giggs at 40

cakeThis morning, Ryan Giggs insinuated that he may just skip training with Manchester United  to avoid the inevitable pranks awaiting him on his 40th birthday.

United legend Giggs celebrates the milestone on Friday, and is in no doubt his team-mates will have some practical jokes planned at the club’s training ground to mark the occasion.

“I’m not coming in on Friday,” said Giggs, with a wry smile. “I’m going to stay in bed, I think, just in case!”

Asked whether he would be glad when his birthday is over, given all the hype and interest surrounding him turning 40, Giggs said: “Yeah, I will.

“It’s not really a big milestone for me. Obviously, it is, but I try not to think about it as much and I don’t think about it, if I’m honest, until guys like you remind me!”

Yet there is no getting away from the magnitude of Giggs’ achievement in becoming only the fourth outfield player – and seventh in total – to grace the Premier League at 40, following Kevin ­Phillips, Teddy Sheringham, Gordon Strachan, Brad Friedel, Mark Schwarzer and Mike Pollitt.

None, however, has enjoyed the sustained success of Giggs, the most decorated player in English football and in the history of the Old Trafford giants, whose remarkable story could include several more chapters.

After 953 appearances for United and 168 goals, Giggs provided a timely reminder of his enduring value with a midfield masterclass in the 5-0 ­Champions League demolition of Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday.

His appearances may be rationed now, but the only clue to Giggs’ age are the flecks of grey around his temple, the mop of raven hair long since gone, now ­thinning on top and replaced by a sensible cropped style, befitting a man of middle-aged years.

Yet, to look at Giggs play, almost 23 years after he first pulled on a United shirt as a wiry and raw 17-year-old, you would not think he is 40, for he plays with the verve, vigour and guile of a man at least 10 years younger.

Indeed, such was his influence in United’s thumping win over Bayer Leverkusen, in which he played the full 90 minutes, one member of the German side asked Wayne Rooney just how the veteran midfielder kept on producing such remarkable levels of ­performance.

Rooney said: “Ryan was fantastic. He’s done it for years and I’ve run out of things to say about him. During the game, actually, their centre-half was asking, ‘How is he still playing at that age?’

“It’s great to see, his ­composure on the ball is fantastic. I don’t know how he’s still doing it. I certainly won’t be playing at that age, that’s for sure!”

To put his longevity into context, team-mates Phil Jones, Adnan Januzaj and Wilfried Zaha were not even BORN when Giggs made his United debut, while goalkeeper David de Gea, defender Rafael and forward Danny Welbeck were all in nappies.

Here’s another one: Giggs has played with 150 different team-mates during his time at United.

For Giggs, the buzz of playing is what keeps him going, long after the other five members of United’s famed Class of ’92 – David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, Gary and Phil Neville – have hung up their boots.

Standing in the bowels of Leverkusen’s BayArena, Giggs said he will carry on playing as long as he is enjoying it and feels he can make a ­valuable contribution to United.

If Wednesday’s midfield masterclass is anything to go by, talk of Giggs retiring can be put on hold for the time being.

“Yeah, I’m enjoying it – it helps having legs to help,” said Giggs, in reference to the younger players around him.

“You’ve got Phil Jones in midfield and the front four were brilliant against Leverkusen, a real handful – that helps.

“So, yeah, I’m enjoying it, but I tend to enjoy it more in December and January, when all the games come thick and fast and I can get into a rhythm.

“I’m enjoying it – that’s the main thing. Obviously, you’ve got to work hard during the week, put in the performances in training and, hopefully, you get picked.

“And, when you are picked, it’s just like when you’re younger, really – you’ve got to take your chance.”

With 13 Premier League titles, two Champions League triumphs, four FA Cups, four League Cups, the FIFA Club World Cup, Intercontinental Cup and UEFA Super Cup, Giggs has won it all during his career.

But, despite that remarkable record, he is still driven by a hunger to win more, with the carrot of a third Champions League success a clear motivation.

Asked whether the current United team has what it takes to win what would be the club’s fourth European Cup, Giggs said: “If we play like we did against Leverkusen, we can.

“If we can put on performances like this, then who knows? We can go a very long way.

“It’s a great competition – you’re playing against the best in Europe. It’s a ­competition in which you’ve got to perform – otherwise you won’t get anywhere in it.”

My free kick against Galatasaray’s one of my best -Bale

baleReal Madrid star Gareth Bale declares that his free kick against Galatasaray has to be ranked as one of the best goals of his career to date.

Bale’s set-piece found the corner from over 30 yards out to set Carlo Ancelotti’s men on the way to a 4-1 victory despite playing most of the match with 10 men after defender Sergio Ramos’ sending-off.

With five goals in seven games and was in positive mood when he narrated Madrid’s victory at the Bernabeu, which sends them through to the Champions League knockout stages as Group B winners.

“I am very satisfied by the game and the goal I scored,” the 24-year-old said to Marca.

“I have been working on free kicks in training and I have been fortunate that this one has come off so well.  It is one of the best goals of my career.

“For me, there are no limits to what we can achieve in the competition. We have a good chance to win the Champions League this year.

“We showed character and camaraderie to play like we did when we were a man down.”

Bale’s team-mate Asier Illarramendi was happy with Madrid’s second-half performance, saying they  perfectly adjusted after Ramos received a red card after 26 minutes.

The former Real Sociedad midfielder said: “When we are left with one man less the team will always suffer a little and that was the case here, especially at the end of the first half.

“But at half-time we talked about a few things and in the second we pressed them much higher and we played a lot better.

“We put three in the middle with Isco and Bale up top and we have done superbly. I am very happy with the result. ”

Los Blancos’ next game is a home clash against Valladolid on Saturday evening in the Primera Division.