Sports

Apr 152016
 
Claudio Ranieri’s side have won five successive Premier League games

Claudio Ranieri says if one of the Manchester clubs were in Leicester City’s position, people would believe the title race to be “finished”.

The Foxes, who host West Ham on Sunday, are seven points clear in the Premier League with five games remaining.

Ranieri says Leicester, having avoided the drop 12 months ago, make for a good story, but his side must win the title to be remembered in “30 or 40 years”.

“We don’t achieve anything yet,” said the 64-year-old Italian.

“Football is very strange. If you weren’t here in Leicester but somewhere else, maybe City or United, with seven points more, you would say ‘it is finished’.

“At this moment you don’t think this. Why? Because we are Leicester. We have to fight and we have to be focused and strong.”

“I love the Champions League music”

Leicester have won their past five league games without conceding a goal and three more victories would assure Ranieri’s side of the title.

A 2-0 win at Sunderland on Sunday secured Leicester a top-four finish and, barring a permutation that includes Manchester City and Liverpool both winning European trophies, at least a place in the Champions League qualifying play-offs.

Ranieri, who admits to being a fan of the Champions League anthem, now wants the Foxes to earn a group-stage spot.

“It is two matches and two matches is not the Champions League – I want to play six,” he added.

“I don’t think there is the music,” he said. “I love the music.

“I think it will be a fantastic achievement. From the dream arrives the reality, but wait first.”

PFA award for Ranieri’s “sons”?

Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante made the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award shortlist

The individual form of Riyad Mahrez, N’Golo Kante and Jamie Vardy has seen them named on the six-man shortlist for the Professional Footballers’ Association Players’ Player of the Year award.

Vardy has scored 21 league goals and made six assists, while playmaker Mahrez has contributed 16 goals and 11 assists.

Meanwhile, Frenchman Kante has made more tackles (146) and interceptions (134) than any other player in the Premier League this season.

“I am very proud because they deserve it,” said Ranieri.

“They are doing a fantastic performance in every match and I hope one of them can win.

“They are three sons for me. If one son wins I am very happy.”

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Liverpool drawn against Villarreal

 Posted by at 6:31 PM
Apr 152016
 
Jurgen Klopp steered Borussia Dortmund to the 2013 Champions League final

Liverpool will play Villarreal in the Europa League semi-finals.

The Reds’ reward for Thursday’s dramatic victory over Borussia Dortmund is a trip to Spain for the first leg on 28 April, with the return at Anfield on 5 May.

In the other semi-final, Spanish side Sevilla, who are looking to win the competition for the third successive year, face Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk.

The final takes place in Basel, Switzerland, on 18 May.

Liverpool staged one of the most sensational comebacks Anfield has seen to overcome their German opponents in Thursday’s quarter-final second leg.

They were twice left needing three goals to go through, with Dejan Lovren’s injury-time header from James Milner’s cross sealing a 5-4 aggregate victory on a night packed with drama and emotion.

Villarreal, nicknamed the Yellow Submarine, are fourth in the La Liga table behind Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona.

The draw means that four Spanish clubs could contest both the Champions League and Europa League finals after Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid were kept apart in Europe’s elite competition.

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Apr 152016
 
Real Madrid finished second behind Barcelona in Manuel Pellegrini’s only season in charge of Real Madrid

Manchester City will play Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals.

That means City could face incoming manager Pep Guardiola in the final, after his Bayern Munich side were drawn against Atletico Madrid in the other tie.

Guardiola will replace current City boss Manuel Pellegrini in the summer.

The first leg will take place in Manchester at Etihad Stadium on 26 April, with the return leg in Spain’s capital on 4 May.

“It is a difficult draw,” said former Real Madrid boss Pellegrini. “It doesn’t matter which team we played. The options are the same.

“I always prefer to finish at home but that is not the most important thing.”

The final takes place at Milan’s San Siro Stadium on 28 May.

Ronaldo back in Manchester

Pellegrini was manager at Real Madrid from 2009 to 2010, during which time Cristiano Ronaldo was bought from Manchester United for £80m, while Karim Benzema and Xabi Alonso were also signed.

However, the Chilean was sacked after just one season and replaced by Jose Mourinho, following early elimination from the Champions League and also losing out on the domestic championship to Barcelona.

Former Manchester United forward Ronaldo is the leading scorer in this season’s competition with 16 goals.

Ronaldo, 31, is also the competition’s all-time record goalscorer, with 93 in 125 appearances, and scored a hat-trick as Real overturned a 2-0 first leg deficit against Wolfsburg in the quarter-finals.

Real have been crowned champions of Europe a record 10 times.

Repeat of 2014 final a possibility

Friday’s draw means there is still the prospect of a repeat of the 2014 final between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, when Real scored three times in extra-time to beat their city rivals.

Atletico reached the last four by knocking out reigning champions Barcelona in the quarter-finals.

Bayern Munich, top of the Bundesliga table, are five-time champions of Europe with their last success coming in 2013.

The draw means that four Spanish clubs could contest both the Champions League and Europa League finals after Sevilla and Villarreal and were kept apart in Europa League semi-finals.

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Apr 152016
 
Catalan giants Barcelona are the reigning La Liga champions

Spain’s top flight must close the financial gap on the Premier League to stop it becoming “the NBA of football”, says La Liga president Javier Tebas.

In the 2013-14 season the Premier League generated income of £3.26bn,