The manager had special words of praise for Lionel Messi, who broke the deadlock with a clever free kick: "there are different types of leadership. When things get complicated, Messi takes a step forward. Throughout these past four years, this player has always done that." When asked about the Argentine’s absence in next week’s match against Sporting, Guardiola jokingly said, "everyone asks me to give him a break and now he will rest, just like Pepe will."
"It is easy to drop points at this stadium,'' the Portuguese said on Real's official website. "Rayo did not deserve to lose. A draw would have been a just result because Rayo were fantastic and they don't deserve people saying Real Madrid didn't play well. They deserve to hear they did a fantastic job against us. They made us work incredibly hard and had three clear chances to score. The players, coaching staff and fans of Rayo Vallecano deserve to hear people say they deserved more."
The first international break of 2012 has left the first team almost inactive. There are only three players left (Pinto, Keita and Pedro), who this morning worked out with the reserves on pitch number 2 at the Ciutat Esportiva. Josep Guardiola and Eusebio Sacristán conducted the session together.
BARCELONA FC, the most exciting football team in the world, which boasts of the best player in the game today in Lionel Messi, has remembered the 100th anniversary of Filipino striker Paulino Alcantara, named by the international football federation or FIFA as "The Best Asian Player of All Time."
Nilmar scored his first goal in five months to give Villarreal a 2-2 home draw with Athletic Bilbao on Sunday in the Spanish league. Villarreal struck first at El Madrigal stadium through Marcos Senna's 11th-minute free kick. The veteran midfielder, who has rediscovered his form after a series of nagging injuries, curled the ball past the wall and out of the reach of goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz. Bilbao top scorer Fernando Llorente went on at halftime and netted his 13th league goal with a header in the 53rd before forward Markel Susaeta put the visitors in front in the 66th off a counterattack set up by Ander Herrera's long pass.
Goals by Gary Medel and Jesus Navas saw Sevilla come from behind to claim a surprise 2-1 victory at Valencia in the Primera Division. Tino Costa put the hosts ahead in the 25th minute before Medel equalised nine minutes before the break. Navas then secured victory for Michel's team as they claimed their second successive win to seemingly leave behind a woeful run of form which had seen them take just two points from 24 before beating Osasuna.
English Premier League side Fulham said Monday they have agreed terms, pending approval of a visa, with former Real Madrid midfielder Mahamadou Diarra. The 30-year-old Diarra, who won a string of honours with Lyon and then Real, left relegated Monaco last year after a short spell with the French outfit and heads to Fulham on a free transfer until the end of the season, with the option of a further year.
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