England could be without Tottenham defender Kyle Walker for the upcoming World Cup 2014 according to national team manager Roy Hodgson. The defender is currently injured on the sidelines, and is only expected to come back just before the end of the season.

This would allow him little time to get his fitness back up to 100%. As a result, Hodgson is expected to look at various alternatives to be the backup for Liverpool defender Glen Johnson, who will be the first choice at the World Cup. Johnson was struggling with injuries during the first half of the season.

Back then, Walker was a regular part of the flying Tottenham team that were chasing a top four finish. Things have changed dramatically in the second half of the season, as Tottenham have been struggling for any sort of consistency. They are out of contention for the top four with three matches left and the absence of Walker has been a major reason. His attacking threat coupled with the speed that he provides has been absent. Meanwhile, Johnson has been able to establish himself firmly in the Liverpool team that is challenging for the title.

Due to this current situation, Hodgson says that it is looking unlikely that Walker would be part of the World Cup 2014, though belgie zuidkorea odds makes Walker evens to make the squad.

“We haven’t been told for certain that he will be out for the next six to 10 weeks but we are concerned that it has been a long time he has been out. During that time he has not been able to do any training with the rest of the team as far as I know. I know he has had another injection. We are waiting to find out whether that helps. He has not been fit for a long time,” said Hodgson ahead of his team selection.

Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa has hinted that he could be heading to Chelsea in the summer after helping to knock Jose Mourinho’s side out of the Champions League.

The Blues appeared to hold the advantage after drawing 0-0 in the Spanish capital in last week’s semi-final first leg but Atletico produced a superb display at Stamford Bridge as they came from behind to win the second clash 3-1.

After Fernando Torres’ deflected shot had given the Premier League side the lead, Atletico equalised and grabbed the crucial away goal just before the interval when defensive frailties in the home defence allowed Adrian to net despite mis-hitting his shot.

The La Liga leaders dominated the second half and deserved their place in the final which came courtesy of Costa’s spot-kick, after he had been upended inside the penalty area by Chelsea substitute Samuel Eto’o, and Arda Turan’s 72nd-minute effort.

Koke also hit the woodwork in the opening minutes as Atletico set up an all-Madrid final on 24th May in Lisbon following Real’s demolition of last season’s winners Bayern Munich in the other semi-final.

Costa, who is one of the favourites with bet365 to score the opening goal in the Champions League final, said after the win in London: “Chelsea in my future? We’ll see, I know there are offers for me. I feel well here at Atletico. Let’s see.”

The 25-year-old, who was born in Brazil but represented Spain in a friendly international victory against Italy in March, has been in scintillating form for Atletico this season.

Costa has scored 35 times in 41 Champions League and La Liga appearances for Diego Simeone’s side so far this season and is one of the most sought-after players in the world.

Chelsea manager Mourinho has bemoaned his attacking options throughout this season and is widely expected to bring in at least two new forwards in the summer having lost patience with Samuel Eto’o, Fernando Torres and Demba Ba.

He allowed Romelu Lukaku to spend this season on loan with Everton and the 20-year-old Belgian has impressed for Roberto Martinez’s side, scoring 13 Premier League goals in 29 appearances.

Last season, while on loan with West Brom, he found the net 17 times in 35 league matches and is expected to be given his chance by Mourinho next season.

Meanwhile, Simeone accepted that Adrian’s goal just before half time on Wednesday proved to be the turning point in the two-legged semi-final.

The first 135 minutes of the semi-final had been extremely tight, but the Spanish side went on to dominate the second half at Stamford Bridge on their way to recording a well-merited victory.

Former Argentina international defender Simeone said: “I’m happy. Our first goal was important and the start of the second half was very good.

“We understood that we had to move the ball quickly between Tiago and Mario Suarez and then to the sides so we could break their defence. At 2-1 we meant business.”

Dortmund went close to pulling off one of the great Champions League comebacks last night when they beat Real Madrid 2-0 in Germany.

Unfortunately for last year’s runners-up they fell short on aggregate as they went down 3-2 over the two legs.

Marco Reus scored both goals in the evening for Dortmund as they beat the Spanish giants at home for the second successive season to reward Betfair backers.

Real had the opportunity to score an important away goal early into the tie in the second leg. Fabio Coentrao’s cross was handled by Lukask Piszczek inside the box resulting in a penalty for the visitors. However, Angel Di Maria’s effort was saved by Roman Weidenfellar to keep his side alive.

Reus reduced the deficit to two goals when he took advantage of some poor defending from the nine-time winners of the European competition to delight first goalscorer punters with Betfair.

13 minutes later, Reus doubled his tally to give a Dortmund a good opportunity to become only the second side in the history of the Champions League to overcome a three goal defeat in the first leg of a tie.

Real improved in the second half and had chances of their own through Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema, however, Weidenfellar was in good form to keep them out.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan came closest to levelling the two-legged tie on the night which would have forced extra-time, but the Japanese international was kept out by the post.

Real are second favourites in the outright market to win the trophy in Lisbon and will learn their opponents for the semi-final in Friday’s draw.

The Madrid club are still in contention in La Liga too where they are third but only three points off the top of the table. Rivals Barcelona are the favourites to land the domestic crown once again.

MADRID EXCEL

Real Madrid’s latest matches have seen them claiming a 3-0 triumph against Levante in the Spanish League and overcoming Schalke 04 with a convincing 6-1 victory during the 1st leg of their Champions League fixture.

The recent series of positive results has allowed Real Madrid on claiming the top spot in La Liga and making their way into the next stages of the Champions League and the even surprised Pepe who stated his appreciation about the performances that his teammates have been making in the last few weeks.

“To be honest, I didn’t think a game like that was possible at this stage of the competition, but we put in a strong performance from the very start and all the goals were well worked. The lads up front did really well, but it wasn’t just them, it was a great performance from the whole team,”

“We’re all physically fit, mentally strong and have the composure to win games like these. That’s what makes the difference at this level.”

The Portuguese defender later went on talking about the chances that Real Madrid has on not only winning the Spanish League but the Champions League and the Copa del Rey as well.

“We need to believe we can win a tenth title. We are working towards that but the truth is we are doing just as well in La Liga as we are in the Champions League. We also have the final of the Copa del Rey to play. We are doing well and we are in our best period of the season.” Pepe told the Spanish media.

Pepe made his way to Real Madrid in 2007 for a price tag of €30 million and ever since arriving to the Santiago Bernabeu he has been a consistent performer for the Spanish club.

RAMOS IMPRESSES

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has said that he has been extremely happy with the performances of centre backs Sergio Ramos and Pepe in 2014.

Real Madrid did not have the best first half to the campaign after they dropped six points behind leaders Barcelona. However, they have made up a huge points difference in the early part of 2014. This has been largely built on the strong defensive partnership between Ramos and Pepe, which has received the praise of manager Ancelotti.

Since the last time Real Madrid won the league in 2011-12, they have not been top of the table. They did so during the weekend after a 2-0 win over Granada, which also became the record for the most number of consecutive victories by any team in the Spanish league. Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo scored the goals in this victory, but praise was given to the centre back pairing after yet another clean sheet. Despite being top of the table, Ancelotti said that the target remains to win the Champions league this season.
Real Madrid are chasing the elusive 10th European trophy. The club holds the record for having the most number of European titles, which stands at nine. AC Milan closely follow the Spanish Giants with seven titles.

“I have to thank all the players for the record. As I have said many times, my players work very hard to retrieve the ball. In 2014 games, Pepe and Ramos have been perfect. The workrate of everyone has been very good though. We didn’t recover possession well in the first half. We improved in the second half and it was easier to attack. The most important thing is the balance we have at the moment; it’s the key. We defend and attack very well,” said Ancelotti after the win.

PEPE BACKS RONALDO

The FIFA Ballon d’Or award will be given out on January 13 with Franck Ribery, Lionel Messi and C.Ronaldo being the top candidates on winning the trophy but according to the Portuguese defender of Real Madrid, the player that deserves it more is C.Ronaldo.

He told reporters at a press conference: “Cristiano is the only player who deserves the Ballon d’Or because it’s an individual prize. He is having a great season and a great year.

“It’s the most important thing. Spain won the World Cup four years ago and no Spanish player won the Ballon d’Or. Hopefully he continues helping us as he usually does. Ronaldo always is happy for staying with us again. I hope everything goes well. We want him to help Real Madrid and achieve his own personal marks this year.”

Pepe is a player that throughout his career has received mixed reviews from coaches and players from which he has worked together with. Fabregas complained about the Portuguese defender as the former Arsenal player said that he almost took his legs away when they played during a Clasico back in October of 2013.

“They lost and are looking for an excuse. I should have had a penalty. Pepe took my legs away, but it was not awarded”. Fabregas said.

But other players consider Pepe to be a valuable asset with Raphael Varane having praised Pepe and thanking him for teaching the Frenchman on how to become a better player since arriving to the main team of Real Madrid’’.

“One player who gives me a lot of advice at Real is Pepe. He’s taught me never to give up. He always gives 100 per cent on the pitch and he tries to instil that winning mentality in me’’. Varane stated.

CITY WANT PEPE

The manager of Manchester City, Manuel Pellegrini, will probably be looking to secure the services of the Real Madrid defender Pepe again during the upcoming mid-season transfer window. Pellegrini had tried to do that during the pre-season transfer window as well, but, he hadn’t succeeded.

Manchester City hasn’t lived up to the expectations in the ongoing Premier League so far. Their defense, in particular, has looked pretty fragile and that’s because their main defender and skipper Vincent Kompany has been largely unavailable.

Pellegrini’s main focus this January will be to strengthen the defense of his team and the man who is still believed to be at the top of his list is Pepe. There have been a few reports that Madrid is looking to give Pepe a contract extension, but, if City goes to them with a good offer in January, they might change their mind and let the 30 years old Brazilian leave.

Pepe had signed for Madrid 6 years back. Los Blancos had bought him from the Portuguese club FC Porto after paying a transfer fee of 30 million Euros.

During Pepe’s tenure at Santiago Bernabeu so far, Madrid has lifted the La Liga trophy a couple of times and in both those campaigns, the Brazilian centre-back was the standout performer for them.

Pepe has played under the guidance of Pellegrini when the latter was in charge at Madrid during the 2009-10 Season. The tuning between these two was believed to be pretty good and one should not be surprised if Pellegrini eventually manages to land Pepe at the Etihad Stadium this January.
Pepe has played all his football outside England so far. After spending the first few years of his senior career in Portugal, he had made a move to Spain in July 2007.

REAL NET WIN

Real Madrid managed a 4-1 win over Getafe during the weekend, which helped them keep pace with table leaders Barcelona. One of the most high-profile absentees from the match was Gareth Bale, who had to pull out from the starting line-up after suffering a thigh injury.

He was initially set to make his home debut by starting the match, but as he was preparing, he suffered this injury. Manager Carlo Ancelotti then included summer signing Isco as his replacement. It was a good match for the home team because they won comfortably against a good team.

They managed to open the scoring through defender Pepe. However, it was winger Cristiano Ronaldo who stole the limelight with two goals to his name. After the match, Ancelotti was not concerned about the injury suffered by Bale because he thinks that it was not very serious. Bale has not been involved in pre-season for Tottenham or Real Madrid due to the protracted transfer saga. He was not fit to start the match against Villarreal recently, but he was included due to the pressure from the club. Bale repaid the faith of the club by scoring on his debut, but it looks like he’ll be out for a few weeks.

“He had a small problem when he was warming up. It’s not an injury. He just didn’t feel comfortable. He is disappointed because he was very excited to play. I don’t know if Bale can play on Wednesday because it’s difficult for a player to be ready in three days. I think Bale will be ready for Saturday’s match. We are working to improve Bale’s fitness because he didn’t have a good pre-season,” Ancelotti told the club’s official website. His goal against Getafe means that Isco has scored five goals in his six league appearances this season.

CITY KEEN ON PEPE

New Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini is extremely keen on bringing Real Madrid defender Pepe before the end of the transfer window. The club recently lost Kolo Toure to Liverpool on a free transfer, while it is also understood that Pellegrini does not see Joleon Lescott as a first-team regular.

Hence, he wants to bring in Real Madrid defender Pepe, who has been one of the controversial figures in Spanish football over the last few years. The Portuguese defender is not thought to be in the plans of new manager Carlo Ancelotti at the Santiago Bernebeu.

However, there could be a slight chance that Pepe will end up staying at Real Madrid beyond the summer because there have been reports that Italian club Napoli are looking to sign Raul Albiol, who has found it extremely hard to secure a first-team spot since his arrival from Valencia a few years ago. The combination of Pepe and Sergio Ramos had dominated the central defence under José Mourinho and the Spaniard does not see his opportunities increasing under Ancelotti as well.

Pepe could cost in the region of £ 20 million, which could put Manchester City off. However, they are extremely keen on strengthening the defence, which was extremely inconsistent last season under Roberto Mancini.

Meanwhile, City also want to confirm the deal that would take Sevilla striker Alvaro Negredo to the Etihad stadium. City have been in talks with the Spanish club over a £ 20 million transfer for the last few weeks. There are also involved in negotiations with Fiorentina over the transfer of Stevan Jovetic. These signings would help them finally strengthen the attack department, which has been severely weakened following the departures of Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli. City have failed in the pursuits of Falcao and Edinson Cavani.

JOSE STANDS BY DECISION

Real Madrid manager José Mourinho has defended his decision to drop defender Pepe from the match against Espanyol during the weekend. Real Madrid could only draw the match 1-1, which led to them seeing Barcelona winning the title without playing a match.

Defender Pepe was dropped from the squad after being critical of Mourinho earlier in the week. Pepe responded to Mourinho’s claims that he would have signed Diego Lopez much earlier in his Real Madrid managerial career. This was seen as an indirect dig towards the captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas, whose relationship with Mourinho has been strained in recent months.

Pepe said that Mourinho could be paying more respect to Casillas, who has achieved a lot with Real Madrid. Mourinho responded to this criticism by saying that Pepe was probably speaking out of frustration that he has lost his first-team place to a teenager. The 31-year-old Portuguese defender has not been a first choice at Real Madrid in the last few months. Mourinho has been preferring 19-year-old Varane as his centre back. Mourinho will be leaving Real Madrid after three years in charge of the club. During this time, he managed to win the league title once and the Copa del Rey once.

“It was my decision and that’s it. I’m the coach. I don’t have to justify anything. From the first to the last day I’ll always be the one to decide. Sometimes I can share the reasons for my decisions and sometimes not, I’ll take that option. On Friday you’ll see who plays and it will always be my decision and responsibility. We have alternatives. It is a position in which we have people who are playing well and that’s good. We are obviously sorry that he cannot play in match that everyone wants to play,” said Mourinho.