On Wednesday against Paris Saint-Germain, Jose Mourinho started winger Andre Schurrle up front on his own and the Blues were drawing 1-1 with just over a third of the game to go. Then he brought on Fernando Torres for Schurrle, and the wheels came off in Chelsea’s 3-1 defeat.
After the game Mourinho said he wasn’t happy with his striking options, with many taking that as a sign the Blues will sign a new set of strikers this summer.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Mourinho has backtracked on those comments. When asked about Torres’ future at Chelsea, the Portuguese manager was adamant his Spanish striker is still in his plans at Stamford Bridge.
“Obviously we want him to score more goals. But does he have a future? Yes.” Mourinho said. “During his period at the club he has had moments, some of them important moments. He works hard for the team and brings things to the team. He is contracted and a good professional.”
Earlier on this campaign I asked Mourinho about Torres’ importance to the team ethic, and he waxed lyrical about his hard work and perseverance up front, even if he doesn’t score as many goals as in previous seasons for Atletico Madrid and Liverpool. But that is a running theme for Mourinho’s strikers, as Torres has scored four times in the Premier League this season, Samuel Eto’o has scored eight and Demba Ba has scored three times. Just 13 of Chelsea’s 62 league goals have come from their forwards, with the Blues relying heavily on Eden Hazard, Oscar and other attacking midfielders.
Torres is adored by many of Chelsea’s fans for his work-rate and ability to lead the line with power and pace. However even the most ardent Chelsea fan would admit the 30-year-old’s scoring record since he joined for $75 million back in 2011 has been abysmal, with 44 goals in 164 matches for the Blues.
With many predicting Radamel Falcao, Edinson Cavani and other top strikers will turn up at Chelsea this summer, it seems that for the foreseeable future Mourinho has put his trust in Torres.
Manolo Gabbiadini performed brilliantly in Sunday’s EFL Cup final, but was the Southampton striker unfairly gipped of a hat-trick?
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Saints manager Claude Puel certainly believes so.
[ MORE: Three things from Man United’s win vs. Southampton ]
While the back-and-forth final between Southampton and Manchester United presented a tremendous matchup, the Saints had every right to be furious with the officiating in the early going after Gabbiadini’s 11th minute finish was called off for offsides.
“I would like, of course, video in the future for these situations,” said Puel. “It’s very hard when we see this game to lose. It was cruel.”
Gabbiadini went on to score a pair of goals at the tail end of the first half and early in the second stanza, but Puel was pleased with his side’s resilience after going down 2-0 inside the opening 38 minutes.
“We kept the good attitude and spirit to stay in the game after going 2-0 down,” said the Southampton boss. “We played since the beginning of the season every two or three days. We played to a strong and fantastic level. It’s important now to continue this work, to put away this disappointment and come back in the Premier League with this strength and this quality.”
Video replay has been a common discussion for some time now, but more leagues are beginning to examine the possibility. FIFA is prepared to introduce new experimental trials over the coming months and could present a form of replay at next summer’s World Cup in Russia.
A roundup of Sunday’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights…
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Villareal 2-3 Real Madrid
The Yellow Submarine did everything right to open the second half but Real Madrid proved resilient once again to earn a victory at El Madrigal. Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Alvaro Morata each netted after the hour mark to help Los Blancos pick up three points and remain leap over Barcelona at the top of the table. Manu Trigueros and Cédric Bakambu scored within six minutes of one another to give Villareal a 2-0 early in the second half but Real began to press harder after the setback.
Atletico Madrid 1-2 Barcelona
It surely wasn’t the most attractive match at times, particularly for the visitors, but Lionel Messi was up to his old tricks once again and helped lift Barcelona into the top spot in La Liga. The Argentine attacker was persistent inside the Atletico box with the match nearing the end and Messi managed to break the deadlock in the 86th minute. Both sides traded goals earlier in the second stanza, with Rafinha getting Barca on the board before Diego Godin equalized six minutes later.
Elsewhere in La Liga
Espanyol 3-0 Osasuna
Sporting Gijon 1-1 Celta Vigo
Athletic Bilbao 3-1 Granada
Inter Milan 1-3 Roma
Mauro Icardi gave Inter a brief glimmer of hope, but Roma continued its fine form on Sunday against the Milan side. Radja Nainggolan’s incredible double helped provide the Giallorossi with a two-goal advantage in the second half before substitute Diego Perotti sealed Roma’s victory from the penalty spot.
Sassuolo 0-1 AC Milan
Controversy struck at the Mapei Stadium but it didn’t benefit the hosts. Carlos Bacca netted the game’s lone finish just 22 minutes in from the penalty spot but it was the Colombian that came into question for his attempt. Bacca slipped while taking his spot kick and appeared to hit the ball with both feet before it crossed the goal line, leaving Sassuolo players furious. Milan now sits in seventh place in Serie A, just four points outside of the top four.
Elsewhere in Serie A
Palermo 1-1 Sampdoria
Chievo 2-0 Pescara
Crotone 1-2 Cagliari
Genoa 1-1 Bologna
Lazio 1-0 Udinese
Plenty of changes were made to the LA Galaxy this offseason, and now injuries are also plaguing the five-time MLS Cup winners.
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New Galaxy manager Curt Onolfo this week that defender Ashley Cole suffered a calf injury in the team’s preseason friendly against Real Salt Lake on Tuesday.
[ MORE: Whitecaps acquire Brek Shea in deal with Orlando City ]
The Los Angeles Times in reporting that Cole’s injury could keep him out for around a month, which would leave him absent of the Galaxy’s first three matches against FC Dallas, the Portland Timbers and RSL.
The 36-year-old Cole joined the Western Conference side in 2016 after a lengthy and successful European career. In his debut season, Cole made 26 starts for the Galaxy and scored a goal in that span.
In addition to Cole’s injury, the Galaxy are currently without outside back Robbie Rogers and USMNT attacker Gyasi Zardes, who have both undergone surgeries in the past two months.
BERLIN (AP) Berlin police made almost 100 arrests on Saturday when Hertha Berlin and Eintracht Frankfurt supporters clashed violently before their Bundesliga game.
[ MORE: Lucky Man United, Mourinho begin trophy haul ]
Police say masked fans fought with batons, bottles, beer crates, chairs and flares on a busy street corner in the neighborhood of Moabit. The first officers on the scene faced “a group of around 60 rioters” who turned on the police.
Two police vehicles were damaged with stones and bottles before 96 arrests were made – with 73 of those arrested from the state of Hessen, which has Frankfurt as its largest city.
Six supporters were hospitalized. Police say only one fan is still in the hospital and in a “stable” condition.
Police say they are investigating whether the clash was pre-arranged.