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Football news

Barcelona’s Alba a doubt for El Clasico

Barcelona left-back Jordi Alba is doubtful for Saturday’s Clasico against Real Madrid at the Nou Camp due to ankle and knee problems, the club said yesterday.

Alba started Sunday’s 1-1 Liga draw at Real Sociedad but missed yesterday’s training session and tests confirmed a heavy bruise on his right knee and a right ankle strain.

“How he evolves will determine his availability for the next few games,” the Spanish champions said in a statement.

A hamstring injury has limited the Spain international to just six league starts this season.

Origi hopes to learn from tough spell

Liverpool striker Divock Origi has found it “very difficult” to cope with his lack of involvement in Juergen Klopp’s preferred line-up but insists he has worked on other aspects of his game to be ready when his chance arises.

The 21-year-old  has yet to make a league start for the Merseyside club this season but he replaced Philippe Coutinho and scored the breakthrough goal in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Sunderland.

“You have to stay patient in a positive manner but, to be honest, it has been very difficult... when you are not on the pitch you have to accept it,” Origi said.

“You never know when the team  needs you. I worked to stay sharp for when I can help the team.”

City coped well with tough schedule – Pep

Manager Pep Guardiola is pleased with how well his Manchester City side have coped with their demanding schedule this season as they have managed to stay close to the league summit despite their European commitments.

City have not only progressed in the Champions League but are also well-placed to launch an assault for the league title.

“To be honest (the title race) is Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United. The league this year is unpredictable and it’s going to be decided in the last two or three months,” Guardiola said.

“We’ll have played eight more games – terrible games – in the Champions League than Chelsea and Liverpool and we are there. That’s why the first part of the season is so satisfying.”

‘Ancelotti not good for Bayern Munich’

Former Bayern Munich winger Ze Roberto believes his ex-club made a mistake by appointing Carlo Ancelotti as their coach.

Ancelotti took over in the summer but they have struggled to maintain their Bundesliga dominance and are currently three points behind leaders Leipzig.

“Bayern made a mistake by appointing Carlo Ancelotti,” the 42-year-old said.

“But it’s hard to find a coach on the same level as Pep Guardiola, or somebody who at least has a similar philosophy.”

Zaha opts to play for Ivory Coast

Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha has decided to switch his international allegiance to Ivory Coast from England.

The 24-year-old was able to make the switch to Ivory Coast as his two England caps came in friendlies, against Sweden in 2012 and Scotland the following year.

“The Ivorian-English attacking midfielder Wilfried Zaha has chosen to play for the Elephants, under the colours of the Ivory Coast, his country of origin,” the Ivorian Federation (FIF) said.

“In the presence of his father, of Augustin Sidy Diallo (president of the FIF) and Michel Dussuyer (Elephants coach), he signed at the bottom of the demand to change his sporting nationality addressed to FIFA.”

Santos coach Junior eyes Schweinsteiger

Santos head coach Dorival Junior has said he held discussions with the Brazilian club’s board about the possibility of signing Manchester United midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger.

After making 18 Premier League appearances last season, the 32-year-old Schweinsteiger has not featured for United since Jose Mourinho took over from Louis van Gaal this year.

“I told them that we should try to get a big name in world football, or at least send an invitation,” Xinhua quoted Dorival as saying.

“It was just a recommendation... it won’t hurt us to try. We didn’t only speak about Schweinsteiger but other players too. A player like that can obviously lift the level of the team, but he has to come with an objective and an appetite.”

Juventus defender Alves fractures leg

Juventus full-back Dani Alves fractured his leg during Sunday’s Serie A match against Genoa, the Italian champions said yesterday.

Brazilian Alves, 33, moved to Italian champions Juve this term on a two-year contract after eight seasons with Barcelona.

Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci was substituted due to a thigh injury during the 3-1 loss at Genoa and will undergo tests to determine the extent of the problem.

Juve, bidding for a sixth Serie A title in a row, lead the standings by four points from Roma and Milan.

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