Chelsea await Ramires news

Ramires

The Brazil international was named in the starting XI for the Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, but complained of pains before kick-off and the decision was taken by the club’s medical staff to send him straight to hospital.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said: “He went to the hospital. He was feeling so bad we had to take him out of the dressing room. He was feeling really bad.”

Ramires was replaced by Juan Cuadrado in the starting XI and he missed out on the post-match celebrations as Chelsea went on to beat Palace 1-0 to secure their fourth Premier League title.

The club are awaiting results of the hospital tests before confirming the exact extent of the problem.

 

Barcelona to face Bayern

Lionel Messi

Guardiola led Barca to unprecedented success during his four-year stint as manager, which included three La Liga titles and two Champions League crowns.

Despite having achieved huge domestic success since taking over at Bayern in June 2013, he is yet to replicate this in European competition and his former side will be keen to avenge the 7-0 aggregate loss to the Germans at this stage of the competition in 2013.

The other semi-final sees Juventus take on Real Madrid in a re-run of the 1998 final.

Real ended a 32-year wait for European football’s biggest prize that night at the Amsterdam Arena 17 years ago, with Predrag Mijatovic netting in a 1-0 victory.

Juventus have the best record of all the semi-finalists, reaching the final on seven of their 10 appearances in the last four, although this is the first time they have reached this stage of the competition since 2003, when a Pavel Nedved-inspired side won 4-3 on aggregate against Real.

The current Real side, who are looking to create history by becoming the first team to retain the Champions League, would need to overcome Juve’s formidable home record.

The Italians have lost only once at home in all competitions this season and could provide a significant threat to ending Real’s chances of back-to-back European titles.

Friday’s draw at UEFA’s headquarters in Nyon also leaves open the possibility of a first ever Barcelona v Real Madrid final.

Barcelona still head Sky Bet’s Champions League outright market at 15/8 despite being handed what is considered an unfavourable draw, with Bayern Munich previously second in the market.

Guardiola’s men have drifted out from 15/8 to 5/2, while Real Madrid have leapfrogged them into second favourites, coming in from 3/1 to 11/5 after being paired with 8/1 outsiders Juventus.

Enrique plays down Bayern edge

Luis enrique

While Barca could be forced to fight until the final match to win their fifth title in seven years, Bayern will be able to rest up when they face Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday having already sealed a 25th German title.

“I would have preferred to have won the league 15 weeks ago, but that is not possible,” said Enrique.

“I don’t think it is an advantage fighting until the end, but nor is it a disadvantage. It ensures we are on our guard.”

Indeed, Enrique has urged his side not to let up in the quest for a potential treble despite facing the doomed Cordoba on Saturday just days before entertaining Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

Cordoba’s relegation back to the second tier after just one season in La Liga will be confirmed at the weekend unless they pull off a monumental upset to register their first league win since January.

By contrast, Barca have swept aside their opponents of late, including a stunning 6-0 thrashing of Getafe on Tuesday, to consolidate their two-point lead over Real Madrid with four La Liga games to play.

“When there are four games left, everyone has significant obligations and they are key matches in the championship,” Enrique added.

“We need to concentrate on winning our own points. If we win all the games it doesn’t matter what the opponents do. I obviously prefer that our rivals, in this case Real Madrid, struggle and drop points but what matters most to me is my team.

“Until you get to the finish line you don’t know if you have achieved the objectives. It is like if a marathon runner has a great time after 40 kilometres and then stops and starts to walk.”

Massive win for Sunderland

jordi gomez

Southampton had James Ward-Prowse sent off for his part in the second penalty incident but almost snatched a point with the last kick of the game, only for Costel Pantilimon to save Sunderland with a great save from sub Steven Davis.

Sunderland remain in the drop zone, Leicester having won earlier in the day, but the Black Cats are only a point from safety and have a game on most of their rivals, so hope is very much alive on Wearside.

The first game between these two clubs this season was won 8-0 by Southampton but a repeat never looked on the cards, Sunderland going about their work with a lot more vigour on this occasion.

Danny Graham was recalled in attack by the boss Dick Advocaat and he was off-target with an early half-chance after latching onto a neat pass from Billy Jones.

And the hosts took the lead in the 21st minute when Saints defender Maya Yoshida could only head a speculative long pass up into the air and Jose Fonte then sent Graham to the turf with a recklessly high challenge.

Gomez calmly tucked the spot-kick into the corner of the net but the hosts then handed Southampton an equaliser just a minute later.

Fonte’s punt forward did not look very dangerous but there was a mix-up at the back and after Pantilimon spilled the ball following a collision with Sebastian Coates, Sadio Mane was happy to sweep the ball into the unguarded net.

Undeterred by the concession of such a soft leveller, Sunderland pushed forward, eager to regain the initiative, and Jermain Defoe blazed over, while Graziano Pelle headed off-target at the other end.

Connor Wickham then squandered a fantastic chance, side-footing over the top after marauding full-back Patrick van Aanholt had picked him out with a fine low cross.

There was more frustration for Sunderland before half-time as Kelvin Davis in the Southampton goal kept the scores level, scrambling across his goal to keep out a close-range Defoe header with a fine one-handed save, and then parrying away a Sebastian Larsson free-kick.

But the hosts started the second-half in lively fashion and the turning point of the match went their way 10 minutes after the break.

Graham did really well in the box, eluding a challenge and then playing in Defoe, who was let down by his first touch but was felled by a clumsy Ward-Prowse challenge in any case.

Referee Mike Jones pointed to the spot and, while that may well have been the right call, the Southampton players were stunned that he also reached for a straight red.

Gomez was unbothered and having put his first spot-kick into the right-hand corner, he went to the left this time, successfully sending Davis the wrong way.

Despite being down to 10 men, Southampton bossed the remaining half-hour or so but struggled to create chances against a packed home defence.

Pelle appealed for a penalty when his shot seemed to hit Coates on the arm as the defender slid in to block but it would have been harsh and ref Jones was not interested.

Southampton’s best chances came late on but Vergini did well to get in the way after his fellow sub Filip Djuricic had chested the ball down in the box.

Vergini then blotted his copybook, giving the ball away in stoppage-time with a careless back-heel deep in his own territory but, when the cross came over, Pantilimon was on hand to deny Davis and Sunderland’s fans were able to breathe a huge sigh of relief.

Soccer Saturday verdict – Paul Merson

“The first one is definitely a penalty; he’s kicked his head quite high. Literally a minute later, Fonte lumps a hopeful ball into the box. Pantilimon comes to collect it and his own player completely takes him out.

“After that, there wasn’t a lot in it. Southampton weren’t their fluent selves and obviously, Sunderland were nervous towards the end, because it was a very, very big win. The second penalty is touch and go – probably a penalty but not a sending off, so the ref wasn’t that bad.

“Sunderland have got to play tough teams. It’s all about timing, these fixtures are all about what other teams have got to play for. If they’d have lost that game (today), I think they’d have been relegated.”