Not only are the particulars talking in the wake of today’s result in London, but given the way the match played out, they have a lot to say.
Barcelona were handed a 1-0 loss by Chelsea, with the talking points centering around how the Blues went about their play. As you’ll see, nobody was too interested in moralizing about Roberto Di Matteo’s tactics. Instead, the focus has shifted to Tuesday’s second leg.
- “It was a collective performance by the whole team. We knew we would get chances and Didier [Drogba] was in the right spot at the right time.” – Roberto di Matteo, via UEFA
- “It’s not simple to come here. People say Barca are much, much better … but this [CFC] team is experienced in the semi-finals.” – Pep Guardiola, via @SamWallaceIndy
- “It wasn’t perfect because they had chances but we’ve done what we could. There’s amazing quality in their team but we gave 100% and we tried to stay organized. Mentally it’s very difficult to keep focus all the time but we’ve done it.” – Petr Cech, via UEFA
- “Deserved more? Result is what it is, you’ve to congratulate Chelsea. Probably our semi with most chances, but we didn’t score.” – Guardiola, via @barcastuff
- “If football is about counting possession we would win every game. The game is putting the ball in the net.” – Guardiola, via @JohnBrewinESPN
- “Chelsea took advantage of the chance that they had while we were lacking that killer instinct in front of goal. They waited for us at the back and defended very well tonight.” – Andrés Iniesta, via UEFA
- “It was more or less the game we expected, created more chances than we had thought, but couldn’t make that goal.” – Guardiola, via @barcastuff
- “We’ve had to be patient tonight. We didn’t touch the ball for the first 15 minutes. Didier [Drogba] worked very hard and it was a tireless performance by everyone.” – John Terry, via UEFA
- “Chelsea wasting a lot of time, especially Drogba? They play the way they think is best, we should know how to deal with that.” – Guardiola, via @barcastuff
- “I think we’ve learnt and improved from three years ago. We are happy because the result is a good one. Now, we need to go there and score to qualify.” – Didier Drogba, via UEFA
- “The winner is always right, so tonight Chelsea had the right tactics.” – Guardiola, via @barcastuff
- “The challenge is to again have 24 shots on Tuesday like we had tonight, and then score from those.” – Guardiola, via @barcastuff
- “They’re an exceptional side but we were brilliant. For the effort and the commitment we deserved what we’ve got. We’ll see how important [not conceding an away goal is]; last time we kept a clean sheet at the Camp Nou so it could be very important if we manage to score there.” – Cech, via UEFA
- “We will play in front of our own fans next week and we have to look to be aggressive at home.” – Iniesta, via UEFA
- “The away leg will be a very tough game. They will have lots of chances on their big pitch. We respect them but we’re not in awe of them.” – Terry, via UEFA
- “It won’t be easy because it’s never easy when a team defends so deep.” – Guardiola, via @RobHarris
- “Now the favorites are Chelsea. They have a great result. We have 90 minutes to challenge them.” – Guardiola, via @OliverKayTimes
- “I think it’s still 50-50, we have a second leg away from home and know it’s going to be a difficult one.” – Di Matteo, via BBC
- “Only winners are remembered.” – Guardiola, via @RobHarris
PRAGUE (AP) Former Czech Republic defender Frantisek Rajtoral, who won the domestic league title four times before joining Turkish club Gaziantepspor, died on Sunday. He was 31.
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The Czech football federation said in a statement that Rajtoral had “committed suicide in Turkey.”
His agent Pavel Zika confirmed the player’s death, describing it as a “huge tragedy.”
Gaziantepspor announced Rajtoral’s death in a brief statement on its website.
Rajtoral played 14 international matches for the Czech Republic.
In the top Czech league, he won four titles with Viktoria Plzen and played in the group stage of the Champions League twice for the club. He moved to Hannover in the Bundesliga in 2014 for half of the season, on loan.
He left Viktoria Plzen last year to move to Turkey.
Arsene Wenger has made it clear about Hector Bellerin representing Spain this summer but the Arsenal defender is prepared to go against his manager’s wishes if he is selected.
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The 22-year-old has said he hopes to play for Spain’s Under-21 side this summer during the 2017 European U-21 Championship but Wenger has been weary of Bellerin’s injury status and wants his fullback to maintain a clean bill of health throughout the offseason.
“I really want to play,” Bellerin told IBTimes. “Representing Spain is very important. If [Albert] Celades gives me the chance I’ll be there.
“Those are opinions of the managers. I have to keep working. The truth is that I had a difficult injury but I think that I am at 100% now and I’ll try to prove it when I get the chance.”
Bellerin signed a six-and-a-half year deal with the Gunners in November, where he has resided since coming up in the club’s academy. He has made 102 appearances for Wenger’s team in that span over all competitions.
PESCARA, Italy (AP) Roma boosted its bid for second place in Serie A and automatic entry into the Champions League with a 4-1 win at Pescara, which was mathematically relegated on Monday.
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Roma moved four points clear of third-placed Napoli, which drew against Sassuolo 2-2 on Sunday. Third place in Serie A receives a Champions League playoff.
Pescara remained 15 points behind Empoli. There are only five matches left and Empoli has the better head-to-head record, which is the deciding factor if two teams finish level on points.
There were 48 goals in total in the 33rd round, matching the record set in October 1992.
Roma took control shortly before halftime, with Kevin Strootman breaking the deadlock after Stephan El Shaarawy unselfishly rolled the ball across the area.
Radja Nainggolan, who earlier hit the bar, doubled Roma’s lead two minutes later.
Mohamed Salah extended Roma’s advantage three minutes after the break and the winger doubled his tally on the hour following a swift counterattack.
Ahmad Benali got a consolation for Pescara and a Cristiano Biraghi free kick also hit the post for the home side.
The timing is a bit sudden and certainly leaves many questions up in the air, but Phoenix Rising will have to look for a new manager.
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On Monday, head coach Frank Yallop resigned from his position with the United Soccer League (USL) club less than one day after former Chelsea legend Didier Drogba joined the organization as a player-owner.
With Phoenix seen as one of several lower-level clubs with ambitions of making the leap to MLS over the coming seasons, Yallop’s departure is surely a shock to many.
According to ESPN FC, Rising lead owner Berke Bakay was quite surprised by Yallop’s decision to step down, as was Drogba.
“Didier was as surprised and disappointed as we were that Frank is unable to continue coaching our Club,” Bakay told ESPN FC. “But, we all respect his decision to put his family first.
“Didier’s focus will remain on improving our team as a player and assisting our MLS expansion team ownership group as a co-owner. Frank will be helping with our international search for a new head coach.”
Rick Schantz, the current Rising assistant coach, will head the team’s managerial duties for the interim while the club completes a full search for a new manager.