Manchester United and FC Barcelona meet again this evening in a repeat of the Champions League finals of both 2009 and 2011. This time the venue is in Gothenburg in a preseason friendly as things start getting even more demanding for Barça. After the recent trip to Paris Saint-Germain (2-2), all they have left are this friendly and another on Saturday in Bucharest before it all starts in earnest with the opening league fixture on August 19.
Thirteen La Liga clubs have threatened to postpone the start of the season on the weekend of Aug. 18-19 over a television rights dispute involving broadcasters Canal+ and Mediapro. Athletic Bilbao, Atletico Madrid, Real Betis, Celta Vigo, Espanyol, Getafe, Granada, Real Mallorca, Osasuna, Rayo Vallecano, Real Sociedad, Sevilla and Real Zaragoza issued a list of demands which included a call for the professional league (LFP) to adopt a "transparent and regulated" system for fixing match kickoff times.
After losing to Barca in both the 2009 and 2011 Champions League finals, everybody at United is aware that the challenge is to close the gap on the Camp Nou outfit. "I think there is a gap there," conceded assistant manager Phelan. "But there's a gap for a lot of teams, not just United. Barcelona have been exceptional - they've combined experience and youth and maintained success. The challenge for us is to compete. It will take time but we're not that far away. We've been in three European finals and we've won one. Now we're hungry to continue that. Barcelona are the ones to catch."
"We will try to beat the champions. Trying to beat Real Madrid to win the league again is a real incentive," Iniesta stated at a press conference. "It gives us extra motivation. Now it's our turn to try and wrestle the title away from them." The attacking midfielder then looked ahead to the upcoming Spanish Supercopa against Madrid, and stressed the outcome of the tie will not have any influence on the Liga season. "It is important for us because it is the first title, against the current league champions. But the Supercopa will not affect the season."
Arsène Wenger intends to push ahead with his move for the Real Madrid midfielder Nuri Sahin only if Alex Song were to leave Arsenal. The manager, who was finally able to announce the signing of Santi Cazorla from Malaga on Tuesday morning, has grown irritated with Song over the midfielder's desire to explore his transfer market options.
Barça B play the first of their two games scheduled in England this evening (20.45h), when they take on Huddersfield Town Eusebio is very happy with the time his team are spending in England, which will allow the players to get together for a full five days, just a week ahead of the league kick off
Brazil stayed on course for that elusive Olympic gold medal, ending South Korea' s brave challenge in front of a full house at Old Trafford to set up a Wembley final against Mexico on Saturday. Two goals from Leandro Damiao helped a Neymar-inspired Brazil to keep up their impressive record of scoring three times in all five games at London 2012, but statistics will matter little to coach Mano Menezes and his players as they chase the only prize in football to elude their country.
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