Ronaldo says La Liga is best in the world

Updated 10 November 2012
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Ronaldo says La Liga is best in the world

MADRID: Cristiano Ronaldo is adamant this season’s La Liga title will once again be a tale of two teams, despite his Real Madrid side sitting in third position, eight points behind leaders Barcelona and five from Atletico Madrid.
“I’m sure it will be just the two of us, I don’t want to rule out anyone else, but I think it will be between us and Barca again,” he said.
“I don’t remember in the last ten years a rivalry like the one we have, it’s good for the game.
“Football fans are enjoying something unique, players from the past say that this league is harder than ever so I think the Spanish league is the best in the world right now, with the best two teams and the best players.” he told CNN.
On Sunday, Madrid face a tough trip to Levante as they attempt to close the gap on Barca, who must quickly recover from the midweek Champions League defeat at Celtic with an away game at Mallorca.
Levante has proven to be a difficult place for Madrid in recent seasons, having lost 1-0 last term after a 0-0 draw there in 2010.
And Ronaldo may be asked to play as the lone striker as Jose Mourinho’s side go into the game with key strikers Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema definitely out.
Higuain limped from Madrid’s Champions League draw with Borussia Dortmund at half time last Tuesday, shifting the focus of his side’s injury problems from defense to attack.
Players in contention for a rare start in attacking positions for ‘los blancos’ are Jose Callejon, who impressed as a second-half substitute against Borussia, and reserve team striker Alvaro Morata.
Portuguese full-back Fabio Coentrao is back in training and could play some part after a long absence.
Spain international Gerard Pique may start for Barca after seven weeks out with an ankle injury.
The center half played the final 20 minutes in Glasgow on Wednesday and with defensive partner Carles Puyol also a long term casualty, it would be a welcome boost to a side that has conceded an uncustomary amount of goals in his absence. Barca have shipped 14 goals in 11 games, despite only one loss at Celtic, since Pique had to leave the pitch against Spartak Moscow in mid-Septmeber.
Coach Tito Vilanova is looking to steadily improve all aspects of his defense after suffering further injuries to defenders Adriano, Dani Alves and Jordi Alba since the season began.
Barca’s opponents, Mallorca, were thrashed 5-0 by Madrid in their own stadium a fortnight ago and have now lost five straight league games since their promising start to the season.
Atletico, the side sandwiched between the two giants, face a home derby on Sunday with Getafe.
Coach Diego Simeone will look for his side to bounce back after two defeats this week, with last Saturday’s 2-0 reverse at Valencia coming after 13 straight wins.
Almost certain qualification from the group stage of the Europa League means Atletico have turned full attention to their push at the summit of La Liga.
Fixtures (all times GMT)
Saturday:
Rayo Vallecano v Celta (1500), Espanyol v Osasuna (1700), Zaragoza v Deportivo (1900), Malaga v Real Sociedad Barcelona (2100)
Sunday: Valladolid v Valencia (1100), Athletic Bilbao v Sevilla (1500), Mallorca v Barcelona (1650), Atletico Madrid v Getafe (1845), Real Madrid v Levante (2030).


The world's eyes are on Mohamed Salah as hopeful Egypt take on Russia

Updated 19 June 2018
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The world's eyes are on Mohamed Salah as hopeful Egypt take on Russia

  • Egypt are counting on the return of Mohamed Salah on Tuesday as they face Russia
  • The Liverpool wizard missed his team’s 1-0 defeat to Uruguay on Friday

SAINT PETERSBURG: Egypt are counting on the return of Mohamed Salah on Tuesday as they try to salvage their World Cup against a Russian side who know a win could seal a place in the last 16.
Liverpool wizard Salah missed his team’s 1-0 defeat to Uruguay on Friday as he struggles to recover from the shoulder injury he sustained during last month’s Champions League Final.
Salah’s shoulder has continued to cause him problems in Russia, and at the weekend he needed the help of three team-mates to put a shirt on during a training session in Grozny.
Egypt’s Argentine coach Hector Cuper said on Monday Salah was fit to play but will undergo a test before kick-off in Saint Petersburg.
“I hope he will be fit to play, I’m sure he will be able to play. He is a central piece in our team,” Cuper said.
If Egypt lose, it will likely end their competitive involvement in their first World Cup since 1990, so 96 million Egyptians are willing him to be on the pitch.
Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov was bullish that his team can rein in the explosive striker, who scored 44 goals in a remarkable debut season at Liverpool.
“We know how to play against him,” he said. “We are ready to stop Salah and we will.”
Russia got their World Cup off to the perfect start on Thursday with a 5-0 thrashing of Saudi Arabia, but are under no illusions that the seven-time African champions pose a far tougher test — providing Salah plays.
“Egypt’s game with Salah is different from the one they play without him,” forward Alexei Miranchuk said.