International News - Issue 200

Bayern draw United and Barcelona to play Atletico in Champions League Quarter-Finals
The UEFA Champions League Quarter-final draw produced a repeat of last year's Borussia Dortmund v Real Madrid affair, an all-Spanish tie and a clash of Bayern Munich and Manchester United.

1 & 9 April
Barcelona (SPA) v Atletico Madrid (SPA)
Manchester United (ENG) v Bayern Munich (GER)
2 & 8 April
Paris Saint-Germain (FRA) v Chelsea (ENG)
Real Madrid CF (SPA) v Borussia Dortmund (GER)

The encounter between Bayern and the Red Devils evokes memories of the clubs' 1999 showpiece in Barcelona, where Sir Alex Ferguson's men scored twice in the 90th minute through substitutes Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to stun their opponents and complete an unprecedented English treble. More recently the sides faced one another at this last-eight juncture in 2009/10 and 2000/01, with Bayern triumphing on both occasions en route to reaching the final of each edition of the competition. Bayern's domestic rivals and the team they defeated at Wembley last May, Borussia Dortmund, renew acquaintances with Real Madrid. The clubs went head-to-head 11 months ago in a semi-final memorable for Robert Lewandowski's four-goal haul in a 4-1 first-leg win Dortmund and an ultimately unsuccessful Merengues fightback in the return. Vying with Madrid for the Spanish title, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid will now meet in UEFA competition for the first time, a tie sure to tug at the heart strings of the latter's former Blaugrana striker David Villa. There were no goals in the only Liga fixture to date between the sides this season. Premier League pacesetters Chelsea, meanwhile, will tackle Ligue 1’s  Paris Saint-Germain. The Blues prevailed 3-0 in the French capital and drew 0-0 at home in the only previous games between the teams, in the 2004/05 group stage. The semi-final draw, also held in Nyon, is on 11 April, with those matches scheduled for 22/23 April and 29/30 April. The 2013/14 UEFA Champions League final will be played on Saturday 24 May at Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica, Lisbon.

The good news just keeps on coming for Manchester United this week. After two great results against Olympiakos and West Ham, United have reportedly agreed a deal to sign the coveted William Carvalho this summer. The Sunday People claims Sporting Lisbon’s defensive midfielder will become an Old Trafford player before the World Cup finals in Brazil, where he will represent Portugal. - Full Story via Metro

Andre Marriner has been handed a Premier League reprieve despite his blunder in Arsenal’s 6-0 defeat at Chelsea which saw him incorrectly send off Kieran Gibbs instead of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Marriner dismissed Gibbs in the 15th minute at Stamford Bridge for deliberate handball, with the Gunners already trailing 2-0, despite Oxlade-Chamberlain clearly owning up to the infringement. - Full Story via Metro

As expected Kieran Gibbs had his red card against Chelsea overturned after an appeal to the FA – and the Gunners have been boosted by news that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will also be cleared to play against Swansea on Wednesday night. A statement from the FA read: “An Independent Regulatory Commission today heard two claims from Arsenal, one of mistaken identity and the other of wrongful dismissal, both in relation to Saturday’s game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. - Full Story via Metro

Billy Davies has been axed by Nottingham Forest, two days after the 5-0 drubbing by fierce rivals Derby. Pressure had been building on Davies, 13 months into his second spell in charge of Forest, during a run of seven games without a win. Experienced manager Neil Warnock could be the next coach at the City Ground after reports he met Forest’s owners on Sunday. The former Derby coach signed a contract extension at the City Ground in October 2013, eight months after joining the club for a second time. - Full Story via Metro

Arsenal’s Premier League title chances have been written off by bookmakers following their humiliating defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. The Gunners may be only seven points behind the Blues with a game in hand but they have drifted out to a gigantic 35/1 by many bookmakers after they were smashed 6-0 by Jose Mourinho’s merciless Chelsea. Chelsea, meanwhile, may be top of the table but they are not favourites to become champions as they are a best price 16/10 while Manchester City – who have games in hand – are the market leaders at 13/10. Liverpool, who keep on winning despite managing to ship goals at an unacceptable level, are 27/10. At the other end of the table, West Brom are worth a flutter to be relegated at 7/2. - Full Story via Metro

Manchester United striker Robin van Persie has been ruled out for at least a month with a sprained knee. Van Persie sustained the blow after scoring a hat-trick in his side's 3-0 win over Olympiakos at Old Trafford last Wednesday. Van Persie will notably miss both legs of United’s Champions League quarter-final tie with holders Bayern Munich as well as United’s next five league matches. - Full Story via Kickoff

Former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola says the reason for him quitting the club in 2012 was because he felt that he could not motivate himself or the team after their success. Under Guardiola’s reign Barcelona won 14 trophies in four seasons. The media initially sited high stress levels as the reason for him leaving but Guardiola has now said that the timing was right to quit as he felt he could no longer get the best out of his players. “I left Barca because I could no longer motivate my players. - Full Story via Kickoff

Everton manager Roberto Martinez places more emphasis on tactics than his predecessor David Moyes, according to Toffees midfielder Ross Barkley. Martinez took charge of Everton in the offseason following Moyes's departure to Manchester United, with the pair now enduring contrasting fortunes at their new clubs. Martinez has been widely praised for steering the modest Merseysiders to sixth place on the Premier League table with an attractive style of football. - Full Story via Kickoff

Chelsea met with Inter Milan last week and put a price tag on John Mikel Obi's potential switch to the Italian club as interest in the midfielder from top European clubs gathers pace. Inter are reportedly leading the chase for the Nigerian after sending representatives to London to meet with Chelsea after last Tuesday's Champions League game. But John Shittu, who represents the player, said it was all speculation. - Full Story via Kickoff

Cristiano Ronaldo has criticised the referee who awarded three penalties in Real Madrid's 4-3 El Clasico defeat to Barcelona on Sunday night. Ronaldo benefited from one of referee Alberto Undiano Mallenco's decisions when he was given a spot-kick even though replays showed that Dani Alves' foul took place outside the box. Nevertheless, the Portuguese forward was unhappy with the penalties that were awarded to Barca, which allowed his arch-nemesis Lionel Messi to hit a hat-trick on the night and become the fixture's all-time highest goalscorer. - Full Story via Kickoff

One lucky mystery punter, from the Essex town of Barking in England, took his local bookies to the cleaners with an extraordinary slice of beginner’s luck to trouser a whopping £86,478 (over R1.5 million). He entered the shop on Saturday morning and made his tipping debut with a 16-team football accumulator at odds of 17,000/1. The customer – who has Newcastle’s Papiss Cisse to thank after his injury-time winner against Crystal Palace – scooped almost £3400 on top of his jackpot as a result of rounding his stake up to £5.20 from £5. It made him one of the country’s biggest winners on a weekend when the betting industry was hit for £20 million after all 13 favourites in both the English and Scottish Premier Leagues won. The shop manager who processed the bet explained: “We’d never seen the customer before and we understand it was his first-ever bet. What a way to start! Alex Donohue of Ladbrokes said: “We’ve never known a better case of beginner’s luck. Our customer has defied the odds in style and all we can do is congratulate him and count the cash. He and many other punters who enjoyed bumper wins on the weekend have Cisse to thank for their payouts. “It’s safe to say we’d have preferred this game to stay 0-0!”

Winning accumulator in full
Liverpool to beat Cardiff 4/11
Everton to beat Swansea 4/7
Hull to beat West Brom 6/5
Newcastle to beat Crystal Palace 5/6
Reading to beat Birmingham 11/8
Burnley to beat Charlton 5/4
Derby to beat Nottingham Forest 11/10
QPR to beat Middlesborough 15/8
Wigan to beat Watford 8/11
Brentford to beat Coventry 8/13
Aberdeen to beat Kilmarnock 1/2
Inverness to beat Partick 4/5
Motherwell to beat Ross County 8/11
Queen of the South to beat Cowdenbeath 1/2
Ayr to beat Arbroath 4/6

£5.20 returned £86,478.