Barcelona haven’t had the best of seasons. Out of the Champions League in the quarter-finals thanks to those upstarts Atlético Madrid. Nearly out of the title race thanks, again, to Atleti. Absolutely out of the Copa del Rey after a 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid.
Barca’s performances in recent seasons, combined with their successful history in general, has led to a culture of expectation around the club. The criticism from both the media and the fans often grows harsher and harsher which each perceived “failure” by the team.
Dani Alves has been a particular target for those wishing to vent about Barcelona’s disappointing season. The Brazilian joined Barcelona in 2008, with the club shelling out the highest transfer fee ever paid for a defender. Six years on, rumors are that Barcelona are ready for the 31-year-old to move on – and that he has, in fact, already agreed to join Paris Saint-Germain.
While Alves won’t confirm whether he’s off to Paris, he has made it extremely clear that he will not stay at Barcelona unless the atmosphere surrounding the club changes drastically:
It takes a lot to get to Barcelona, and whoever it hurts I am part of the history of this club. I need energy, it is what moves me, I am a happy person. I have always been like that, but when the results not being as people expected there have to be shots fired, and I feel fired at. If you begin to feel the energy is negative, then things do not flow. If this energy does not change, for sure I will leave because it takes a lot out of you. For me to stay this summer the energy would have to change.
It’s certainly sounding as though next season’s Barcelona will be out another familiar face…
CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — Chris Coleman says he chose to remain as Wales manager despite interest from Premier League side Hull because he’s in a job that is “close to his heart.”
The Football Association of Wales rejected an approach for Coleman from Hull this month, with the Welshman deciding to stay on rather than resigning.
Coleman, who guided Wales to the European Championship semifinals against the odds, said on Wednesday that “if someone comes and it’s the Premier League, anybody, you kind of look at it sideways. Of course.”
But, Coleman added, managing your country “comes around once, if you’re lucky.”
Coleman has made no secret of his desire to manage in club football in the future, but says “what I’ve got here is something very special and close to my heart.”
Who’s going to join Porto, Monaco, Legia Warsaw, Ludogorets Razgrad and Celtic as playoff teams to join the UEFA Champions League group stage?
The biggest names of Wednesday’s slate are cruising after their first legs, with Manchester City and Borussia Monchengladbach putting five and three goals on the board, respectively.
[ MORE: Champions League Tues. roundup ]
Could the match be Joe Hart‘s last for City? The longtime backstop gets the call with the transfer window a week away.
In the other three cases, things are wide open. Rostov plays Ajax, Red Bull Salzburg faces Dinamo Zagreb, and APOEL lines up Copenhagen.
Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League slate — FOLLOW LIVE
Borussia Monchengladbach (3) vs. (1) BSC Young Boys
Rostov (1) vs. (1) Ajax
Red Bull Salzburg (1) vs. (1) Dinamo Zagreb
APOEL (0) vs. (1) Copenhagen
Manchester City (5) vs. Steaua Bucuresti (0)
The newly-renamed EFL Cup, formerly the League Cup, rolls on Wednesday with four more matches ahead of the evening’s third-round draw.
American attacker Lynden Gooch starts for Sunderland, while Tim Ream starts for Fulham and Luca de la Torre is on the Cottagers’ bench. Emerson Hyndman is on the bench for Bournemouth.
Tuesday’s action saw Premier League sides West Brom and Watford excused from the tournament.
Wednesday’s EFL Cup schedule — FOLLOW LIVE
Accrington Stanley vs. Burnley
Fulham vs. Middlesbrough
Morecambe vs. Bournemouth
Sunderland vs. Shrewsbury Town
Robbie Keane is ending a big chapter in his career.
Fear not, Galaxy fans, the 36-year-old living L.A. legend isn’t calling it quits on club soccer, but Keane is done with representing the Republic of Ireland.
Keane will play one more game for the Boys in Green, a friendly against Oman next week, before leaving the Republic to qualify for the World Cup without him.
[ MORE: Yedlin, Newcastle make it official ]
In a sprawling and understandably emotional — if not moving — statement, Keane says he isn’t going to stop playing for his club anytime soon, and that he hardly dreamed he’d get to this point.
No player has been capped (145) or scored (67) as many times for Ireland than Keane.