In their words: Reaction to Bayern Munich’s rout of Barcelona

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“I am happy about the result, but I am not moved by it. I know that we still face 90 very difficult minutes in Spain. We will enjoy what happened tonight, but not more.” – Jupp Heynckes, head coach, Bayern Munich, via UEFA.com

“We have been displaying extraordinary football for the entire season now. Falling short of success in the past two years has only made them more hungry to win this year … Today’s game was a perfect .” – Heynckes, via UEFA.com

“Bayern played a great game while we were lacking that freshness to compete with them and that is something that we have to look at. We didn’t see situations where we could have changed things after the break.” – Jordi Roura, assistant coach, Barcelona, via UEFA.com

“Bayern have to be congratulated. They were very strong; they are a very physical team. We didn’t play all that badly in the first half but then they scored quite early in the second from a strategic move and from there it was difficult.” – Roura, via UEFA.com

[MORE: Bayern trounce Barcelona. | Highlights ]

“We felt comfortable despite having to run a lot during the game, Barcelona make you do that. If it were against any other team you might feel confident [going into the second leg], but this is Barça; they beat AC Milan by 4-0 in a previous round.” – Javi Martinez, midfielder, Bayern Munich, via UEFA.com

“We’ve played a lot of good games this season so I’m not sure if this is the best. We knew how to play against Barcelona tonight. They had very few chances while we controlled the midfield and prevented them from moving the ball around. We took advantage of dead ball situations.” – Martinez, via UEFA.Com

“Of course I can comprehend what happened today! We have the potential to beat any team. It is a well known fact that Barcelona have problems in the air. Our defensive performance was close to perfection, that was the key to our success today.” – Philipp Lahm, defender/captain, Bayern Munich, via UEFA.com

“To get such a result, we knew we had to run and press together a lot. Apart from that, we knew we had a striker who could score. We are very happy.” – Franck Ribery, winger, Bayern Munich, via UEFA.com

“[Barcelona] have dominated Europe for the last five years so to beat them like that, it makes you proud … We played a perfect game. We fought for every metre. We didn’t give them any space to play, and they only had one or two chances all night.”Arjen Robben, winger, Bayern Munich, via UEFA.com

“We played fantastic today. I have never experienced a night like this and I have been around for quite some time now. I think we all saw that [Lionel] Messi was not fully fit. We have a very good chance to reach the final now.” – Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, chairman, Bayern Munich, via UEFA.com

“Referee mistake in first three Bayern goals? there have been mistakes in our last three CL away games, but tonight it’s no excuse.” Roura, via @barcastuff

“We fell today against a great team like Bayern. We’ll get up as soon as possible. Hugs to all.” – Victor Valdes, goalkeeper, Barcelona, via @1victorvaldes

“Referee mistakes led to first 3 goals of Bayern? We can’t talk about the referee, Bayern were just better.” – Gerard Piqué, defender, Barcelona, via @barcastuff

“Bayern were the better team, stronger, faster. This is almost impossible to turn around.” –  Piqué, via @barcastuff

“No changes until late in the game? We didn’t see things clear, thought the players who were there could still score.” – Roura, via @barcastuff

“Tie isn’t over yet. As long is it possible, we’ll keep on trying. There are 90 minutes at the Camp Nou left, they can be very long.” – Dani Alves, right back, Barcelona, via @barcastuff

“If your opponent is better than you, you can only congratulate them. Bayern are the strongest team I’ve faced in a long time.” – Alves, @barcastuff

“Call Pep? Please respect me, I don’t need to call anyone.” –  Heynckes, via @KayLMurray

Leicester City’s Rodgers: ‘Good news’ on Vardy injury

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Brendan Rodgers says there’s good news when it comes to the injury suffered by Jamie Vardy in Leicester City’s 4-1 blowout of West Ham United on Wednesday.

Vardy hurt his glute in the win, temporarily returning to the match after treatment from the trainer but ultimately subbing off before halftime.

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“It wasn’t his hamstring, so that’s good news for us,” Rodgers said, via The Leicester Mercury.

“He just felt a twinge in his glute, so we just have to wait and see on that in the next day or so. Thankfully his hamstring is okay and he just felt some pain in his glute, so we will have to assess that over the next few days.”

Vardy has a Premier League-best 17 goals, one more than Man City’s Sergio Aguero.

He was replaced by Kelechi Iheanacho, who assisted one of Ayoze Perez’s two goals on the day. Perez’s seven goals are second on Leicester, while James Maddison‘s six are third.

Iheanacho has six goals and three assists in 485 minutes and there’s reason to believe he can feast off Leicester’s playmaking if Vardy needs a match or two to heal.

Whether he can fill Vardy’s shoes in the long-term is a big question, especially as Leicester aims to return for the Champions League.

Transfer rumor roundup: Willian Jose to Spurs, Bournemouth after Croatian CB

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London could get itself another Willian.

Willian Jose, 28, was left out of Real Sociedad’s squad at his request on Wednesday, with the club Tweeting that he’d prefer not to play until his situation is resolved.

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Jose Mourinho said he would not comment on another team’s players, but Willian Jose could help Spurs bridge the gap to Harry Kane‘s return.

Willian Jose has been a double-digit scorer for Real Sociedad in La Liga for the previous three seasons, and is well on his way to another 10-goal campaign. He’s got eight goals in 20 matches this season.

Bournemouth needs defensive help, and is reportedly rivaling Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers for Portuguese giant Toni Borevkovic.

The 22-year-old Croatian has one goal in just over 3000 minutes with the side since arriving from domestic side NK Rudes.

He’s averaging 1.3 interceptions, .9 tackles, and 3.3 clearances per game in league play.

Rio Ave sits seventh in Portugal’s top flight and is managed by former Premier League boss Carlos Carvalhal.

Dropped points in Top Four race point to wild February

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Regardless of whether Wolves end Liverpool’s unbeaten Premier League season on Thursday, there will be five teams within seven points of fourth place heading into Matchweek 25.

Chelsea has 40, a comfortable-enough six-point lead on Manchester United, Spurs, and Wolves (who meet Liverpool at 3 p.m. ET Thursday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com). Sheffield United has 33 points.

February, specifically the next three matchweeks, will see the teams inside that group learn a lot more about their fates, and give Chelsea and Sheffield United big opportunities to cement their places in the Top Four and Seven, respectively.

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In the case of the latter, it’s because the Blades are the only team in the bunch who don’t face a Top Four six-pointer; Chris Wilder‘s men will meet Crystal Palace, Bournemouth, and Brighton, while the others will be beating up each other.

Chelsea’s path is fraught, but a big opportunity. The Blues travel to Leicester City before hosting both Manchester United and Spurs. Nine points there would effectively Top Four-proof Frank Lampard‘s side.

By the way, how’s this for a hot take? If any of Chelsea, Man Utd, or Spurs find their center forward or playmaker help in the window, they’ll have a leg up on their Top Four rivals. And, really, is that extra few million pounds worth the spoils of the Champions League? Yup.

Bruno Fernandes is not (yet) with United, and the Red Devils face Wolves and Chelsea in their next two matches. Spurs have City and Chelsea. Tumult is probable!

A draw with Newcastle and loss at Watford dampened Wolves’ hopes of riding into fourth. Beginning with Thursday’s visit from Liverpool, however, Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men face three of the Top Seven and then a visit from Norwich City. It’s not over.

And don’t entirely rule out Leicester City from dropping into the fray; The Foxes host Chelsea and Man City, and visit Wolves.

One more nod, however improbable: Arsenal sits 10 points back of fourth but meets Burnley, Newcastle, and Everton over those three match weeks. A perfect run could have the Gunners thinking big (Man City is after that, alas).

Matchday 25
Leicester City v. Chelsea
Crystal Palace v. Sheffield United
Manchester United v. Wolves
Spurs v. Man City

Matchday 25
Sheffield United v. Bournemouth
Wolves v. Leicester City
Chelsea v. Manchester United
Aston Villa v. Tottenham Hotspur

Matchday 27
Chelsea v. Tottenham Hotspur
Leicester City v. Man City
Wolves v. Norwich City
Sheffield United v. Brighton
Manchester United v. Watford

Spurs play Wolves the next week, too!

Mourinho: Spurs don’t have attacking depth, but do have ‘family’

Mourinho on Spurs win
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In this “whole new Jose Mourinho” world, the key word is family.

Mourinho said it six times in his post-match presser after Tottenham Hotspur scrapped to a 2-1 defeat of Norwich City on Wednesday in London.

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Spurs had an early lead disappear when Ryan Sessegnon gave away a penalty to Max Aarons, and Teemu Pukki converted it for a 70th-minute deadlock.

Heung-Min Son scored nine minutes later. It was a win that is good for the whole family.

From Football.London:

“It was fantastic what happened after the 1-1, which happens in a difficult moment for us where I look to the bench and I don’t have attacking players to change the game the team is a little bit fatigued, especially Lucas, Son and of course Lamela. I took him off because he was in trouble and he is a player who is coming from very important and long injury, so very difficult.

“How can we change the game? With the family spirit, the family character and desire.”

Mourinho also praised Giovani Lo Celso‘s work on the wing for attack-short Spurs as “a good experience for the family,” and Paulo Gazzaniga‘s support for returned goalkeeper Hugo Lloris as “a good member of the family and he is such a special friend of Hugo.”

I mean, I’m getting the warm and fuzzies.

Clearly, Mourinho is stressing unity and there’s a bit of bunker mentality involved, as the manager mentioned some dicey calls not going their way against Watford, Liverpool, and now Norwich.