Wednesday’s quotables: Barcelona, Bayern’s reactions to Wednesday’s result

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All quotes are from UEFA.com unless otherwise noted.

I think it was clearly noticeable that my team entered this game extremely focussed. We played great right from the start. However, there is no denying it – Barcelona is a different team without [Lionel] Messi. Still, I’m sure no one expected us to win 7-0 on aggregate.” — Jupp Heynckes, Bayern coach

“I know Spanish football very well, especially Barcelona. I know the way they like to play and their philosophy. My team understood our tactical approach very well and they executed it perfectly. Dortmund deserve to be in the final, as they are playing a great season as well. Sure, it’s a small surprise that they reached the final. I obviously hope that we can be successful in Wembley.” — Jupp Heynckes, Bayern coach

I’m sure we’ll celebrate with a few beers tonight. It’s not taken for granted to beat Barcelona on their home ground 3-0. But I’ve always said that we have special characters in our squad and that we are capable of great things.” — Philipp Lahm, Bayern captain

Maybe you are right and this is one of our worst nights. The truth is that it isn’t pleasant living through a situation like this. In the first half we really tried but when they scored the first we were left feeling down. We have to congratulate Bayern who were superior.” — Gerard Piqué, Barcelona defender

What we must look to do now is to close out the Liga and start to think about next season. The fact that Lionel Messi, the best player in the world, did not play was a factor but I do not think his participation tonight would have changed things all that much.” — Gerard Piqué, Barcelona defender

“We would have taken the risk of playing Leo at the end if we’d still have had options to qualify.” — Tito Vilanova, Barcelona coach, via @barcastuff

We knew exactly how to play against Barcelona both in the first and second legs. When I came to Bayern one of my objectives was to win trophies. We have won one and are now into two finals. The truth is we weren’t expecting Lionel Messi to be absent so when we saw his name wasn’t in the starting lineup we breathed a slight sigh of relief.” — Javi Martínez, Bayern midfielder

I don’t know if German football is now going through a better phase than the Spanish game. I only know that in Germany they are doing things well; the stadiums are always full. The Bundesliga needs to continue what they are doing. I’m not sure whether it is the best [league] but I’m sure it is among the three best.” — Javi Martínez, Bayern midfielder

I think it is a terrific performance, it is a little bit of history. If we perform like this, against a team who have dominated Europe for the past five years, who have so much quality, it is amazing.” –– Arjen Robben, Bayern winger

[The final] is going to be a big one. Dortmund have proved over last two to three years they are a very good team. It will be decided on very small details.” –– Arjen Robben, Bayern winger

The most important thing is we play as a team, not only going forward but defensively. We are very organised, and do our jobs, and the forwards work hard and work backwards. If you want to achieve something and have results and win competitions at a high level you have to defend as a team.” — Arjen Robben, Bayern winger

I would like to congratulate Bayern because they were clearly better than us and deserve to be in the final. We lost the tie in Munich. Obviously Lionel Messi’s absence was felt but the rest of the players stood up to the challenge. I am proud of the squad, the technical staff and the fans.” — Sandro Rossell, Barcelona President

“I think that Bayern are currently the strongest team in Europe and that they will win the final, although in football you never know. I don’t think that Spanish teams did all that badly in the competition this season. Now we must wait for next season and see what happens.” — Sandro Rossell, Barcelona President

“It’s not about a lack of motivation. We played against a great team, Bayern were very solid, and opponents know us better each time.” — Cesc Fabreags, Barcelona midfielder, via @barcastuff

“Madrid also being eliminated changes something? No, we look at ourselves. Madrid winning or losing, you feel as bad after a loss.” Gerard Pique, Barcelona defender, via @barcastuff

“If my answers seemingly don’t make any sense, let me apologies right away, I’ve had a beer on an empty stomach.” — Thomas Muller, Bayern attacker, via @normusings

Report: FIFA president Infantino in hot water

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The more things at FIFA change, the more they stay the same.

According to a bombshell report from The Guardian, FIFA president Gianni Infantino was under investigation by the FIFA Ethics Committee before the president disbanded the committee in May. The report states that Infantino spent around $1.16 million on his election campaign, despite declaring publicly he had only spent around $583,000 on flights around the world to meet with national FA presidents.

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The report claims Infantino was also being investigated by then committee chairman Cornel Borbely over whether he influenced the election of a new president in the Confederation of African Federations, or CAF.

FIFA rules state that presidential candidates must declare campaign expenditures publicly.

The latest bad press on FIFA follows the arrest of Spanish Football Federation president and UEFA vice president Angel Maria Villar and his son among other national and regional officials on charges of corruption and improper management.

Villar appeared in court on Thursday, and a judge denied he and his son bail.

Transfer Rumor Wrap: Liverpool rejects Barca bid for Coutinho, Roma offer for Mahrez turned down

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Liverpool isn’t planning on cashing in on one of the Premier League’s stars this summer.

Jurgen Klopp and Co. gave Barcelona a resolute “no” after Barcelona submitted a transfer bid of more than $93 million for Philippe Coutinho. Coutinho signed a new five-year contract with the club in January.

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“The main thing I think about is how we can make the next step with the players we had last season,” Klopp told reporters in Hong Kong earlier this week. “The good news is that actually we didn’t lose – and we will not lose – a player we want to keep this summer. That’s the best news actually and then we’ll see who can bring into the squad.”

Coutinho signed for Liverpool in 2013 but had a breakout year in 2015-2016, earning the PFA Young Player of the Year. Last year Coutinho became an even more consistent goal-scorer and playmaker, scoring 13 goals with seven assists in 34 Premier League appearances.

Keeping Coutinho is of supreme importance for Liverpool, which is back in the UEFA Champions League for the first time since the 2014-2015 season.

(more…)

La Liga releases schedule: First El Clasico coming in December

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It’s Christmas in July for fans of La Liga Friday as the Spanish league published its schedule for the upcoming season.

Defending champions Real Madrid travel to Deportivo La Caruña on August 20, the opening match of the season while its rival Barcelona hosts Real Betis.

As it’s La Liga, the first date most fans searched for was the first El Clasico of the season, and the biennial battles between Real Madrid and Barcelona will take place on December 20 and May 6, with Real Madrid hosting the first match.

The first match comes just ahead of the Spanish winter break, while the second match comes at a busy period at the end of the season, where both teams will be hoping to still be competing in the UEFA Champions League.

Other interesting matches to keep an eye on in the first few weeks of the season include Real Madrid hosting Valencia in week two, the Barcelona derby between Barca and Espanyol in week three and Atletico Madrid taking on Sevilla in week six.

Here’s a look at this year’s La Liga schedule.

Conte: Costa “situation was very clear” in January

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At this point, there is no doubt Diego Costa‘s future lies away from London and Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte broke his silence on the Brazilian-born Spain international striker, saying he’s been ready to move on from Costa since January, when Costa and Conte had a disagreement following a big-money offer from Chinese club Tianjin Quanjian during the winter transfer window.

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“I don’t like to talk about players who are not here but the only thing I can tell you [is that] in January, the Costa situation was very clear, for the club for him and his agent,” Conte told reporters Friday. “For me the situation is closed.”

It’s an amazing turn of events after Costa scored 20 Premier League goals in Chelsea’s title-winning 2016-2017 season, including 14 goals through the end of December. But after falling out with Jose Mourinho a year earlier, the same issue happened again under Conte, with Costa proving much less effective down the stretch.

But Conte and Costa were able to put their differences aside on the field, photographed multiple times hugging after wins, as well as after winning the title.

Costa is reportedly now agitating for a move back to his former club Atletico Madrid, but the Spanish club’s transfer ban until the next window complicates matters. In a World Cup year, would Costa be willing to sit out half a season just to leave Chelsea?

If Costa’s time in the Premier League is up, he’ll go down as one of the league’s best pound-for-pound goalscorers. He scored 52 goals in 89 Premier League appearances, with seven more cup goals in his three-year spell at Chelsea.

And if he is gone, defenders across the Premier League will sure be happy to wave goodbye.