Barca to pay tribute to victims
Barcelona will pay a tribute to the victims of the Fukushima nuclear disaster next week while in Japan for the Club World Cup, the Spanish giants said yesterday.
Barcelona players will wear commemorative shirts and be photographed beside children representing the victims of the disaster at a solidarity event held at the end of the the club’s training session on Tuesday at the Yokohama Marinos grounds.
A 9.0-magnitude quake and giant tsunami on March 11 knocked out the cooling system at the atomic plant at Fukushima and sent some of its reactors into meltdown, spewing radiation into the air, sea and food chain in the worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
Adler in talks with Hamburg
Former Germany goalkeeper Rene Adler is in talks with Hamburg, according to reports in the German media yesterday, after he has fallen out of favour at Champions League side Bayer Leverkusen.
Cologne newspaper Express reported Adler is in talks with Hamburg, while his contract with Leverkusen will expire in June.
The 26-year-old lost his place in Germany’s goal to Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer after suffering broken ribs in May 2010 and then a knee operation in July meant he has yet to start a German league game this season.
Schalke target Champions League
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar hit his 25th goal of the season to put Schalke second in the German league behind Bayern Munich and said the Royal Blues’ aim is to keep the pressure on the leaders.
Huntelaar scored in the 19th minute of Schalke’s 2-1 win at Hertha Berlin on Friday as his team joined Bayern at the top of the German league, but the Gelsenkirchen-based club are second on goal difference.
“Our goal is to finish amongst the top four and to play in the Champions League,” said Huntelaar, who has scored 14 goals in 15 German league games.
Esperance dream of Barcelona
The coach of African champions Esperance admitted yesterday that it was a problem getting his players to focus on their Club World Cup opener when they know Barcelona await them if they win.
The Tunisians take on Asian winners Al Sadd, from Qatar, at the intercontinental showpiece in Japan today, with a glamour tie against the European and Spanish champions the prize.
Coach Nabil Maaloul said: “Our players are thinking about Barcelona but we are trying to stop them from thinking ahead.
“It’s been difficult to try to get Barcelona out of their minds, but we have been trying to get them to focus only on tomorrow’s match.”
Henry stunned by Arsenal statue
Former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry was overcome with emotion after seeing a statue of himself unveiled outside the Emirates Stadium on Friday as part of the club’s 125th anniversary celebrations.
Statues of Tony Adams, who twice captained Arsene Wenger’s men to the domestic league and FA Cup double, as well as Herbert Chapman, Arsenal’s successful manager of the 1920s and 1930s, were set alongside those of Henry.
“I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would have a statue like this in front of the stadium of the team I love and support,” said Henry.
“The way the statue is gives the perfect example of the love I have for the club – me kneeling facing the Emirates Stadium and Highbury behind is amazing.”
Balotelli junior on trial at Stoke
Mario Balotelli’s younger brother Enoch is having a trial with Stoke City that could yet see him facing the Man. City striker in the Premier League.
The 19-year-old, a forward like his older brother, played all but eight minutes of the Stoke reserves’ goalless draw against Burton Albion last week.
“He’s been training with us for a while and it was good to give him a run out,” Potters academy coach Dave Kevan told the Stoke Sentinel.
“He’s a good boy but a little bit raw at the moment. We will just have to see how things go.”
Leboeuf dismisses France’s chances
Frank Leboeuf, a World Cup winner with France, has written off his country’s 2012 European Championship hopes.
Although a 17-match unbeaten run has raised optimism in France, Leboeuf believes escaping out of a competitive group that includes England, Ukraine and Sweden is the best they can realistically aim for at Euro 2012.
“It’s good that France have qualified and we can give major international experience to the players,” he said.
“That’s the only use we can put the competition to as we don’t expect to win. We want to be ready long-term for the World Cup in 2014.”