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Copa Clasica Holds Today, As Real Hosts Barca

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Real Madrid and Barcelona resume their historic rivalry today when the two teams meet in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals.

Barcelona travel to the Bernabeu for the first leg before hosting the return leg next week. With the Spanish giants both battling in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League,  which resumes in February, and for top spot in La Liga, the season promises combat on three fronts.

In the league at the weekend the pressure was already starting to show for both teams. However, Real had to come from behind to secure a 2-1 win at Mallorca on Saturday, with late goals from Gonzalo Higuain and Jose Callejon ensuring the result. And, a day later, Barcelona stuttered as they dropped a two-goal lead against Betis before claiming a 4-2 victory.

Barcelona have already triumphed at the Bernabeu back in December with a resounding 3-1 league victory. Cristiano Ronaldo’s performance in the match sparked debate, but the Portuguese international has said such games against Barça are not a problem for him.

“Before matches, I am relaxed, pressure means nothing to me and I don’t feel any more against Barça,” Ronaldo said.

For Barcelona’s midfielder Xavi Hernandez, matches against Real are a highlight. “I like playing in the Bernabeu, it’s a special stadium and a historical game which makes us motivated and makes for an intense match,” he said.

“Madrid don’t change, they play a direct game with three or four players who can hit you on the counter attack, they are also dangerous from dead balls and we have to be alert in defence,” he continued. “However, we do not hold back, we’ll play our usual game to attack and score goals and be as brave as we have been in recent years in the Bernabeu.”

Real have injury doubts over Sami Khedira and Pepe, but expect to welcome back Angel Di Maria, who has been very important for them this season. Barcelona, meanwhile, are without long-term casualties Ibrahim Afellay, David Villa and Pedro Rodriguez. In addition, Seydou Keita will be absent at the CAF African Cup of Nations with Mali.

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NPFL : Eguma Urges Rivers People To Keep Faith

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The Technical Manager of Rivers United FC of Port Harcourt, Stanley Eguma, has called on Rivers State people to be faithful and support the team, saying that they would not let them down this Nigeria Professional Football League ( NPFL) season.
He said that, all the players in the team are hungry for success this season, adding that, he is planning with the players that have winning mentality.
Eguma said this on Sunday in his post match interview with sports journalists shortly after they saw off Kwara United with 3-0 in the match day six of the NPFL, at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium in Port Harcourt.
He appreciated his players for the victory, adding that initially the game was a bit difficult.
According to him, his players were more technical on the ball, pointing out that he had to change the tactics of the game.
“Rivers people should still have faith and support the team because we will not let them down this season.
The league is a marathon one; it is not yet time to sing songs.
It is still work in progress.
We started well but we still have hope that the team will improve more on their performance because every club in the league is very strong,” Eguma stated.
He noted that his team last season did not change but the approach and mentality of the players have changed the game.
He disclosed that the team is highly motivated and taking care of, saying, most of the players want to deliver and make name for themselves.

By: Kiadum Edookor

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Chukwu Blames Rohr For Not Developing NPFL Players

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Former Nigeria Super Eagles Captain Christian Chukwu, has blamed former National Coach Gernot Rohr for not developing the Nigeria Professional Football League ( NPFL) players.
He disclosed that Rohr was employed to build the NPFL players for them to get opportunity to play in European clubs rather than concentrating on foreign- based players.
Chukwu said this on Monday in a television programme monitored by Tidesports in Port Harcourt, adding that Rohr was supposed to base in Nigeria to enable him get in touch with the home base players.
According to him, Rohr failed for the development of the home-based- players, adding that, before now, all other coaches gave the home-based players the opportunity to showcase themselves in the national team.
Chukwu who had also coached the Super Eagles team, explained that Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) did not believe in Nigerian coaches, adding that, he is happy with what the interim coach, Austin Eguavoen is doing with the Super Eagles within the short period of time.
” Rohr was employed to develop our national players but he concentrated on foreign- based players.
We have players in the NPFL who are very good but they were not giving opportunity under Rohr to play in the national team.
All the players we have before now were home- based players”, Chukwu stated.

By: Kiadum Edookor

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Eguavoen To Effect Changes Against Guinea-Bissau

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Super Eagles interim coach, Augustine Eguavoen has revealed that he would be making some changes in the final group match against the Wild Dogs of Guinea-Bissau tomorrow so as to give players who have not tested action some game time.
Tidesports source reports that Nigeria currently tops Group D with six points from their opening two games, after beating Egypt and Sudan and are guaranteed a spot in the knockout stages of the competition.
“Obviously, we will make changes for the last group game against Guinea-Bissau.
“We have depth in the team and it’s a good opportunity for the other players to play, we will play to win the game and I trust the players to do a great job,” he said.
Eguavoen also warned his players against complacency and taking their chances in front of goal in subsequent matches.
“No game comes easy. We knew it was going to be tough and tried as much as possible to be ready for any opponent that comes our way.
“So it’s a little bit difficult to say whether we were complacent in the Sudan game or not but we will discuss this with the boys going forward,” he added.

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