As many as eleven Barcelona players could take to the field in tonight's FIFA Confederations Cup final at the Maracana as World Champions Spain take on hosts Brazil
Two of the best national sides in the world will be locked in a duel which many see as a pre-taste of the World Cup
final in 2014. It promises to be a superb game of football with both teams boasting an embarrassment of talent. And fittingly on such an auspicious occasion, there are no fewer than eleven Barça players – nine for Spain and two for Brazil – who will be hoping to make the starting line-up tonight in the Maracaná.
A complaint filed by a Barcelona
-based law firm against former Real Madrid manager José Mourinho, on the grounds that gouging the eye of then Barça assistant Tito Vilanova
represented a public-order offence, has now reached Spain's Constitutional Court. If found guilty, Mourinho could be forced to pay a fine amounting to 30 days' salary. Considering the Portuguese coach's earnings at Real Madrid, this could come to some €1 million.
Mundo Deportivo believe that the Blaugrana will table the defender a new deal, with a possible pay-rise. The Spain international’s current contract is set to expire in 2015, and the club do not want to get into a situation where the 26-year-old only has a year remaining on his deal.
In an interview with French newspaper Le Monde, Armstrong said: "I am sure several football clubs influenced that decision. In any case, it’s still only cycling that serves as a scapegoat." Tyler Hamilton, a teammate of Armstrong's and a confessed doper, told The Sunday Times last year about a conversation he'd had with Del Moral, who told him: "You guys take nothing in comparison to footballers."
Wayne Rooney has been encouraged to join Barcelona by Camp Nou new-boy Neymar as speculation continues to surround the future of the Manchester United striker. Brazil star Neymar wants Rooney to follow in his footsteps and move to Spanish heavyweights Barcelona this summer. "Of course he would improve Barcelona. He would improve any club in Europe. And on a personal level, it would be a dream to play with him."
Luiz Felipe Scolari believes victory over world champions Spain in the Confederations Cup final in Rio de Janiero on Sunday will show the world that Brazil are ready to win the 2014 Fifa World Cup. "I do not consider Spain strong favourites. In the past six years, they have won two European Championships and a World Cup. Spain are spectacular - but like any team they have their faults."
The midfielder is happy to see Neymar join the Liga champions but disagrees with Johan Cruyff's view that it should mean contemplating the Argentine's exit. "It is unthinkable for Messi not to be part of this club," he said in an interview with Sport. "Leo is the most important player – he has no equal. Remove Messi and you may not lose everything, but you do run out of a large part of what makes this team tick."
Barcelona held last-ditch talks with Manchester United target Thiago Alcantara last week in a bid to persuade the youngster to resist a move to Old Trafford - and judging by this latest tweet from the Spain midfielder they might have had the desired effect. Relaxing by the pool with his brother Rafinha, who himself extended his contract at the Nou Camp by two years to 2016 earlier this week, Thiago tweeted: ‘I love Barcelona’.
Highlights of last night's friendly match involving Lionel Messi