Ancelotti: Messi’s return is not good news for Roma

The Italian does not think that the Argentine’s restoration to the starting line-up will affect Neymar and Luis Suarez, who have both netted 11 times in their past 11 games

Ancelotti: Messi's return is not good news for Roma

Carlo Ancelotti says Lionel Messi’s likely return to the Barcelona starting line-up is “not good news for Roma”, insisting that Neymar and Luis Suarez will be even more effective with the Argentine back alongside them.

Messi suffered a knee injury in a Liga game against Las Palmas on September 26, prompting fears that the Catalan club could struggle without their talismanic No.10.

However, Neymar and Suarez have flourished in his absence, with both men netting 11 times in the 11 games that they have started without Messi, sparking a debate over whether the pair perform better without the four-time Ballon d’Or winner, who made his comeback as a substitute in Saturday’s 4-0 rout of Real Madrid.

Ancelotti, though, says that the fit-again Messi is only going to make Barca stronger, pointing out that his wonderful on-field rapport with his fellow South Americans was the key factor in last season’s historic treble triumph.

“Messi’s return is not good news for Roma,” the Italian coach told Goal ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League clash at Camp Nou.

“It’s true that Suarez and Neymar are doing very well but clearly Barca with Messi are something else. Messi brings goals, quality… He brings everything!

“He brings  enthusiasm to his team-mates, who know that they have by their side a player capable of unlocking any game at any moment.

“It’s obviously better to play a Barca without him. Messi’s presence will only relegate Neymar and Suarez to the background in terms of media coverage, because on the field they do certainly not reside in the background.

“They had an extraordinary finish to last season, finding a special chemistry that allowed Barcelona to win everything.

“I don’t see them suffering with Messi, neither Neymar nor Suarez.”

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Unprecedented security for Madrid-Barca clash

A unprecedented series of security measures will be put in place for Saturday’s La Liga clash between Real Madrid and Barcelona in response to the attacks that killed 129 people in Paris last week.

The exact number of security personnel will be ironed out in a meeting on Thursday between representatives of both clubs, police and local and national government.

“Security will be greatly reinforced. There will be a lot of security personnel to control not only the access to the stadium, but also the outskirts and the transport that will bring fans to the stadium,” said Spanish Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz.

Spain’s anti-violence commission met with political, police and sporting authorities on Wednesday and declared the match as “high risk”, which is customary for the biggest games in La Liga, especially those between eternal rivals Madrid and Barca.

However, the events in Paris, allied to a terror threat level of four out of a maximum five in Spain, means that the security measures have “no precedent for the celebration of sporting events,” according to Francisco Martinez Vazquez, secretary of state for security.

No official figures have yet been released, but according to reports in the Spanish media, there will be a triple ring of security around Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium with over 1,500 police, who will be armed with horses, dogs and metal detectors.

A capacity crowd of 81,000 fans are expected to attend the match widely seen as the biggest in the world with an estimated television audience of 500 million.

The Stade de France, where an 80,000 crowd were watching France host Germany, was one of a series of targets across the French capital on Friday.

As a result of the increased terror threat, Spain’s friendly in Belgium was postponed on Tuesday, as was Germany’s clash with the Netherlands due to a bomb threat in Hannover.

The Bernabeu was the target of a bomb threat in December 2004, just months after the Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people.

The stadium was evacuated quickly and calmly near the end of a league match against Real Sociedad.

Two years previously, the Basque separatist group ETA planted a car bomb near the stadium on the day of a Champions League semi-final between Madrid and Barcelona causing 17 injuries. However, the game still went ahead.

Fernandez Diaz insisted at the moment there is no reason to think about postponing the game.

However, “should those circumstances arise, the priority is to ensure people’s lives,” he added.

Ramos: Clasico is almost orgasmic

The defender admitted that derbies with Barcelona are ecstatic affairs, while dismissing the suggestion Saturday’s defeat at Sevilla was a “disaster”

Ramos: Clasico is almost orgasmic

Sergio Ramos is already getting excited about Real Madrid‘s upcoming clash with Barcelona, joking the Clasico can be an almost orgasmic experience.

Los Blancos host their great rivals at the Santiago Bernabeu on November 21, with Rafa Benitez’s men having fallen three points behind the Liga leaders after Sunday’s shock loss at Sevilla.

Ramos has had his ups and downs against Barca, getting sent off in the infamous 5-0 loss at Camp Nou in 2010 but heading the winner in their meeting in March 2013.

Barca defender Gerard Pique claimed on Sunday that the Clasico “turns us on” and Ramos admitted he finds the derby nearly as arousing.

“I don’t know, I’ve never reached an orgasm personally during the Clasico – but almost,” the Spain international, who is a veteran in clashes with Barca having been at Madrid since 2005, quipped to reporters.

Ramos was speaking after Madrid’s 3-2 loss at Sevilla, a game in which he had opened the scoring with a spectacular overhead kick only to see the hosts mount a stirring comeback.

It was put to Ramos that the result was a “disaster” from Madrid’s perspective but he felt that such talk was over the top.

“Every person is free to use the adjective they want,” he added. “We didn’t play well and that is always reflected in the result but this is one of the most complicated grounds for visiting teams, not just Madrid.

“We know we played a poor game but we also have to recognise the great game Sevilla put in.

“I thought we were a little static. We’ve lost some very important points today and we’ve got to change our mindset. But we are still in the title race.”

Silva: Ronaldo’s French Will Help Him At PSG

Paris Saint-Germain defender Thiago Silva believes Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo will join the French giants next year. 

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The Brazilian insisted the addition of Ronaldo would be great for the French champions, adding that the forward’s ability to speak French would help him settle in quickly.

“I do not know if Ronaldo will sign, but it is fun playing with such major players,” he told RMC.

“Ronaldo is the best player in the world. If the club wants him, of course the PSG squad would be happy.

“He is a very good player, technically essential for all teams in the world and especially for PSG, who have a big dream to win the Champions League with great players.

“I think Ronaldo will come. I do not know what happened with Blanc after the game because he did not say, but I hope there were positive talks between the two.

“He speaks French very well, perhaps better than me, and if it happens next year he will have no difficulty speaking with the media.”

There is a lot of speculation surrounding Ronaldo’s future, with many believing this season could be his last in Spain.

The 30-year-old has scored 13 goals and assisted a further two strikes in 15 matches for Real this season.

Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo Will Be Great In El Clasico Insists Casemiro

Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro has defended Cristiano Ronaldo against recent criticism and is confident the Portugal star will be in great form for the Clasico with Barcelona on November 21.

Ronaldo has netted eight goals in 11 La Liga appearances so far this term, but failed to find the net in seven of those games.

The 30-year-old put in an underwhelming performance in Sunday’s 3-2 loss to Sevilla, yet Casemiro believes there is no reason to worry.

“Cristiano is in very good form,” the Brazilian midfielder told the official Madrid website.

“I’m positive that he’s going to have an excellent game against Barcelona because he’s the best player in the world.

“We’re unhappy with the result against Sevilla, but we have to start thinking about the Clasico now.

“There’s no better match to that for bouncing back. We’re capable of winning.

“We’re Real Madrid and we’ve already shown in La Liga and the Champions League that we’re capable of playing well.”

Madrid sit second in the table heading into the Clasico with 24 points from 11 games, trailing Barcelona by three points.

World’s best? Neymar & Suarez putting Messi & Ronaldo in shade in 2015-16

The South American pair netted all three goals in Barcelona’s 3-0 win at home to Villarreal on Sunday and may even eclipse the usual suspects in the scoring charts this term

World's best? Neymar & Suarez putting Messi & Ronaldo in shade in 2015-16

It’s always one or the other. Even since Cristiano Ronaldo moved to Real Madrid in 2009, it has been either the Portuguese or Barcelona rival Lionel Messi leading the scoring charts in Spain. But the duo’s dominance in front of goal could be under threat this term if Neymar and Luis Suarez keep up their current form.

Ronaldo and Messi have won the Pichichi prize given to the top scorer in La Liga three times apiece over the last six seasons, with those two also the leading marksmen in all competitions by some distance between 2009-10 and 2014-15.

The Portuguese has made his usual strong start this time around as well, with 13 goals in his 14 appearances so far in 2015-16. Messi, who has been out since September 26 through injury, is understandably further behind with six strikes in his nine matches.

But in the Argentine’s absence, Neymar and Suarez have stepped up with the goals. Barca’s other two South American forwards have now netted 20 of the side’s last 23 in all competitions – as well as all 16 Liga goals since the four-time Ballon d’Or winner limped off against Las Palmas.

Villarreal did not make things easy in Sunday’s match and Barca had to wait until the second half despite creating chances from the outset.

And when the breakthrough came, it arrived from a familiar source: Neymar. The Brazilian dispatched a fine finish after Villarreal had given the ball away in their own half and Sergio Busquets had picked out the 23-year-old with a pinpoint pass.

In the meantime, Suarez’s shooting had been erratic, but he had the chance to make it 2-0 later on as Munir El Haddadi won a penalty and Neymar generously gave the Uruguayan the opportunity to print his name on the scoresheet. It was a gift too good to turn down and Suarez slotted home to double Barca’s lead.

The game’s most memorable moment, however, belonged to Neymar. The Brazilian controlled a bouncing ball in the area with his stomach, flipped it over his head with his right foot to leave his marker dumbfounded and volleyed past Villarreal goalkeeper Alphonse Areola. It was a stunning strike reminiscent of Barca legends like Ronaldinho and Rivaldo – and it won him a huge ovation from the Camp Nou crowd.

The Brazilian’s double means he now has 13 goals in 14 games for Barcelona in 2015-16, while Suarez’s strike saw the Uruguayan take his tally for the season to 13 in 17 games.

Ronaldo failed to net in Madrid’s meeting with Sevilla later on Sunday as Los Blancos lost 3-2, so both players are now level with the Portuguese and Messi (who is still recovering from injury), will have some catching up to do when he returns to action for the Catalan club.

Asked if Neymar is now the second best player in the world behind Messi, Luis Enrique said: “That’s up to others to decide. I’m just privileged to have unique players who work for the good of the collective.”

And on the excellent relationship between Messi, Neymar and Suarez, he added: “We saw that from the start. But it’s the same for the whole squad. We are lucky to have these players.”

The win sees Barca head into the international break on fine form and up next is the Clasico clash at the Santiago Bernabeu on November 21.

Messi and Ronaldo usually top the billing when it comes to meetings between Barca and Real, but the Argentine may not be back for this one and the prolific Portuguese is being matched in front of goal by the Catalans’ other two forwards.

So the latest edition of the famous fixture could be as much about Neymar and Suarez as it is about Messi and Ronaldo – and the game’s two greatest players from recent years may even find themselves eclipsed in the scoring charts this term if the Brazilian and the Uruguayan can continue their current form.

Barca showing there really IS life after Messi

Luis Enrique may be missing his main man, but since the Argentine has been out the Catalan club’s other two South American forwards have flown the flag in La Liga and Europe

Barca showing there really IS life after Messi

Panic struck for Barcelona when Lionel Messi was struck down through injury in the Liga clash at home to Las Palmas on September 26, but time and again since then Neymar and Luis Suarez have shown that the Blaugrana have plenty to cheer for even without their Argentine attacker.

Messi managed only nine minutes before limping off at Camp Nou and travelling to hospital for tests that later confirmed he would miss somehwere in the region of two months, placing his fitness in doubt for the Clasico clash at Real Madrid on November 21.

And with the trip to the Santiago Bernabeu now just around the corner after the forthcoming international break, it looks like Messi may not be back in time. Recent performances from his two team-mates, however, mean that may be less of a drama than it had first seemed.

Suarez stepped up immediately. The Uruguayan striker scored both goals in the 2-1 win over Las Palmas to get Barca through what was potentially a difficult afternoon, with the image of their finest footballer hurt and injured clearly in the minds of the players in an unpopular early kick-off at Camp Nou.

Since then, Suarez has scored in wins against Bayer Leverkusen, Rayo Vallecano, Getafe and BATE Borisov, as well as netting all three in the 3-1 victory at home to Eibar late last month. Nine goals in eight appearances and he has provided a couple of assists in that time, too. Messi, no doubt, will be pleased.

But Neymar has done even better. The Brazilian forward took time to find his best form after Messi’s injury, perhaps affected by the case accusing him of alleged tax fraud in his move from Santos in 2013. But he has hit eight goals in the Argentine’s absence: his side’s sole strike in the 2-1 loss at Sevilla (Barca’s only defeat in that time), four in the 5-2 win over Rayo, one in the 2-0 success at Getafe and two more in the 3-0 victory at home to BATE last week.

That’s one fewer than Suarez, but it is his overall contribution that is even more impressive. Since Messi’s injury, Neymar has racked up six assists in eight appearances, creating 36 chances for his team-mates and completing 46 dribbles to the Uruguayan’s 12.

“We miss Messi because he is the best,” Neymar said after his double on Wednesday night. “But I’m in a great moment and I’m confident I’ll continue like this.”

Since Messi’s injury, Barca have scored 13 times in La Liga and between them, Neymar and Suarez have been responsible for netting all of those.

In the Champions League, meanwhile, Ivan Rakitic hit a vital double to give the Catalans a hard-fought 2-0 win away to BATE and Sergi Roberto was on hand to net the leveller as Luis Enrique’s side made a late comeback to beat Bayer Leverkusen at Camp Nou. It was Suarez, though, who popped up with the winner in that one.

In total, Neymar and Suarez have contributed 17 out of 20 goals for Barca since the Argentine hurt his knee.

“We will always miss Messi,” Luis Enrique said recently. “But Neymar and Suarez have shown that we also have other options.”

After his side beat BATE on Wednesday with the two South Americans again taking the lead, the Asturian coach added: “We obviously miss Messi a great deal – but I’ve always said the team had resources.

“There is no mention of ‘Messi-dependence’ because the team is winning and playing well.”

And with the Clasico now just two weeks away, that’s the best news of all for fans of the Catalan club.