Feb 242016

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Who will replace Sepp Blatter at Fifa?

The Scottish Football Association will cast their vote for Uefa general secretary Gianni Infantino in Friday’s Fifa presidential election in Zurich.

The congress was called after Sepp Blatter, 79, announced in June he would step aside after 18 years, amid a corruption scandal at football’s world governing body.

Swiss Infantino, 45, who also has the backing of the English FA, will stand against Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa, Tokyo Sexwale and Jerome Champagne.

SFA chief executive Stewart Regan says Infantino “is the best candidate possible to lead the governance reform required at Fifa”.

He would replace Blatter, who is currently appealing against an eight-year ban from all football-related activities following an ethics investigation.

“He has been a highly respected general secretary of Uefa for many years and has performed that role with skill, diplomacy and professional integrity,” Regan said of Infantino.

“As well as having the support of the majority of Uefa’s national associations, he also has the support of many across the world in other confederations.”

The board of the SFA “consulted with the wider Scottish football family” before making their choice.

Last month, Infantino said he intended to include in his manifesto plans for a World Cup to be held in a whole region rather than one or two countries.

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Feb 242016
Jose Mourinho was sacked as Chelsea manager just seven months after winning the Premier League title

Jose Mourinho says he does not know about becoming the next Manchester United manager, but is hoping to be back in football this summer.

Earlier this month, BBC Sport reported that United had held talks with representatives of the Portuguese.

Mourinho, 53, was sacked by Chelsea in December, seven months after winning the Premier League title.

Asked if he will replace Louis van Gaal at Old Trafford, Mourinho said: “That’s the one million dollar question.”

Speaking at a school in Singapore, he added: “Nobody knows and I am the first one not to know. I read so many different things.”

Mourinho has been linked with a return to Serie A side Inter Milan and Spanish giants Real Madrid.

But he said: “Starting next season with a new club and project is probably the best for me.”

The future of Dutchman Van Gaal, 64, has been an almost constant source of speculation in recent weeks.

His contract ends at the end of next season but the former Netherlands boss has been involved in a number of testy exchanges with reporters whenever his position is discussed.

United lie fifth in the Premier League, six points off fourth-placed Manchester City, and went out of the Champions League at the group stages.

They are through to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and face Danish side FC Midtjylland in last 32 of the Europa League on Thursday, trailing 2-1 from the first leg.

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Feb 242016

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Arsenal 0-2 Barcelona: Arsene Wenger reacts to defeat

Barcelona are “95% through” to the Champions League quarter-finals, says Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger after his side lost 2-0 to the Spanish champions.

The Frenchman blamed his team’s finishing and naivety for the home loss in the first leg of their last-16 tie.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Olivier Giroud missed chances for the Gunners before Barca scored the opener.

“The way we finished our chances is a problem. I felt in the final third we missed something,” said Wenger.

“Barcelona are through 95% but we want to go there and play. We will not go there and have absolutely no chance,” he added.

‘They are better than us’

Arsenal will be eliminated at the last-16 stage for the sixth time in a row if they fail to overturn the deficit at the Nou Camp on 16 March.

Wenger likened his side’s defeat by Barcelona to their 3-1 loss to Monaco at the same stage last season when – similarly to Barca’s opener – they conceded from a counter attack.

Neymar and Luis Suarez combined to set up Lionel Messi to score Barcelona’s first before the Argentina forward scored a penalty after he was fouled by Mathieu Flamini.

“The regret I had was once we looked like we dominated the game, we give the goal away. Similar to Monaco last season, naive, and that is frustrating,” Wenger told BT Sport.

“When we looked like we could win the game, we just gave it away.”

He added: “We were disciplined defensively but we knew that if we had to keep a 0-0 we keep a 0-0.

“I feel that we were extremely guilty and have no excuses for that first goal.

“They are better than us and I believe everyone knows that, but we could have won the game if we had kept the discipline until the end.”

‘Not technically precise enough’

Olivier Giroud had a good chance against Barcelona with a header which was saved

France striker Giroud struggled to make an impact in attack along with Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez as the Gunners failed to capitalise.

“We were impatient in the build-up, we lost balls that we don’t usually lose. Not because Barcelona forced us but just because we were not technically precise enough in our passing,” added Wenger.

“When you lose 2-0 at home in the Champions League it is not a happy dressing room. I felt there was room to beat them. That is the biggest regret I have.”

Much has been made of Arsenal lacking a world-class striker.

BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty addressed the issue in a video Q & A after the game,