Aguero in same bracket as Ronaldo and Messi – Lampard

The on-loan Manchester City midfielder is in awe of the Argentine striker, describing him as “different class”, though he still has a soft spot for old team-mate Didier Drogba

Frank Lampard believes Manchester City team-mate Sergio Aguero should be considered in the same bracket as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

On the same night that the Barcelona ace scored three against APOEL to become the Champions League’s all-time leading scorer, overtaking Real Madrid legend Raul’s record, Aguero was bagging a hat-trick against Bayern Munich to keep City’s qualification hopes alive.

And Lampard is confident that the former Atletico Madrid striker, who tops the Premier League’s goalscoring charts this season, can mimic his compatriot’s accolades if he maintains his current form, maintaining he is of a similar quality to him and Cristiano Ronaldo.

“I think it’s in his hands,” the veteran told reporters. “It’s a big call to make. Ability-wise, from seeing him at close quarters, he’s in that bracket.

“If he can carry on with this form, doing it week-in and week-out, which he is doing, then people will talk about him in the same breath as them.

“I haven’t been fortunate enough to play with those two – I’ve admired them from afar – but, in terms of ability, he’s certainly right up there.”

Lampard does not believe that there is an out-and-out striker who can touch Aguero right now, though he admits that he will always see Didier Drogba, at his peak, as “the greatest”.

He continued: “[Aguero]‘s top of the world football strikers. When you have people like that, it makes things easier because Sergio takes the majority of his chances – he took every one of his chances against Bayern.

“World-class strikers help you win games, win points and go through. I’m fortunate enough to have played with Didier Drogba, who, for me, was the greatest [striker], but it’s very hard to compare those two because their style is so different.

“But in terms of pure finishing, electric pace, in my first few days training here my friends and other people were asking ‘who does this or that in training?’ and I said ‘this Aguero is just different class’. He’s proved that. He can’t stop scoring.”


11 2014
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Basel deserved a draw against Real Madrid – Schar

The Switzerland international has taken great encouragement out of his side’s display against the European Cup holders ahead of their crunch clash with Liverpool at Anfield

Fabian Schar has claimed that Basel deserved a draw from their Champions League clash with Real Madrid on Wednesday night.

Cristiano Ronaldo put Los Blancos ahead 10 minutes before the break at St. Jakob-Park but the home side never looked like folding against the European Cup holders.

Indeed, Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti admitted after the game that Basel had put his side under serious pressure in the second half and Schar was disappointed that they did not have anything to show for their efforts come full-time.

“We could have got more out of the game,” the defender told reporters.

“It was an evenly fought contest from which we deserved a point. We were only lacking a goal.

“But we’re still second in the group and with a point against Liverpool we’ll go through.

“From that perspective, nothing has changed.”

Basel boss Paulo Sousa also felt it only right that Basel still have their Champions League destiny in their own hands after standing their ground against a Madrid side that has now won 15 games in a row in all competitions.

“I’m proud of the players, the team and the fans,” the Portuguese coach enthused. “We deserved more.

“The players are increasingly taking on board my ideas. You can see that we can compete better and better with big teams.

“The team’s belief in our ideas is growing; you could see that in the second half.”

Basel sit second in Group B, two points clear of third-placed Liverpool and basement boys Ludogorets ahead of their December 9 trip to Anfield.


11 2014
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Ancelotti: Basel better than Liverpool

The Italian says Paulo Sousa’s men are in better shape than the Reds and feels the Swiss will get the result they need at Anfield to make the Champions League knockout stage

Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti has tipped Basel to progress to the last 16 of the Champions League at Liverpool’s expense.

Los Blancos clinched top spot in Group B by beating the Swiss champions 1-0 at St. Jakob-Park on Wednesday night, with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring the only goal of the game as the European Cup holders racked up a club-record 15th successive win in all competitions.

Basel now need to avoid defeat at Liverpool in the final round of fixtures in order to pip the Reds to the second automatic qualification spot and Ancelotti fancies Paulo Sousa’s men to get a positive result at Anfield.

“I think Basel are currently better than Liverpool,” the Italian +told reporters. “I see a small advantage for Basel for the last round.”

Indeed, Ancelotti admitted that Basel had posed Madrid plenty of problems with their high-intensity game.

“We did not play as we usually do,” the former Chelsea boss conceded. “We defended well, we concentrated well and the most important thing was the victory.

“But Basel played with a lot of heart. They showed an intense game and were able to put us under pressure in the second half.”

Liverpool will host Basel at Anfield on December 9, while Madrid are tackling Ludogorets at the Santiago Bernabeu at the same time.


11 2014
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Benzema: Ronaldo not obsessed with Champions League record

The Portugal international now shares second place in the all-time standings after his winner at St. Jakob-Park, meaning he is now just three behind record-holder Lionel Messi

Karim Benzema dismissed the suggestion that Real Madrid team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo is obsessed with the Champions League goalscoring record after Wednesday night’s 1-0 win at Basel.

The Portuguese star and Barcelona rival Lionel Messi were in a race to take over as the tournament’s all-time leading marksman as they closed in on Raul’s tally of 71 goals around the same time.

The Argentine broke the former Spain striker’s record by bagging a hat-trick in Barcelona’s 4-0 victory at APOEL on Tuesday, taking his overall tally to 74 goals.

Ronaldo moved level with Raul on 71 goals by netting the only goal at St. Jakob-Park, but Benzema denied that his colleague is determined to overhaul Messi at the top of the standings.

“Cristiano doesn’t ask me to pass him the ball in order for him to break the record,” Benzema told beIN Sports after teeing up the Portuguese for the winner in Switzerland.

“Frankly, he doesn’t ask for anything. But when he’s well positioned on the pitch, I offer him the ball.”

Madrid’s victory not only sealed top spot in Group B for Carlo Ancelotti’s men, it also saw the club from the Spanish capital complete a home-and-away double over Basel.

However, while the Blancos cruised to a 5-1 victory in their first meeting at the Santiago Bernabeu on matchday one, the reigning European champions were made to work harder for all three points in Switzerland.

“It was not an easy game,” Benzema acknowledged. “It wasn’t the same side as the first game. It was much more complicated.”

Meanwhile, Keylor Navas was a happy man after keeping a clean sheet in a rare start in goal for the Costa Rica international at the expensie of regular No.1 Iker Casillas.

“It’s a tournament that everyone loves to play in so I’m happy that we won and that I was able to contribute a bit to the victory,” the shot-stopper stated.

“I am calm, working hard. Little by little I’m getting more opportunities.

“Everyone wants to play some more, but we must go step by step.”


11 2014
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Record-equalling Ronaldo and Madrid keep on rolling

COMMENT: Two club records were equalled in Switzerland as Ronaldo drew level with Raul in Champions League goals and Carlo Ancelotti guided the team to a 15th straight win

By Peter Staunton at St Jakob Park

Cristiano Ronaldo equalled the number of Champions League goals scored by his Real Madrid predecessor Raul on the same night that Carlo Ancelotti’s team matched another club record. 

With Ronaldo’s goal, Real eased into a 1-0 lead they were not going to relinquish easily and, in the process, equalled the club record 15 wins set by Miguel Munoz’s team in 1960-61 and Jose Mourinho’s in 2011-12. 

This was by no means an easy fixture for Madrid. Basel had beaten both Liverpool and Ludogorets at St Jakob Park earlier on in the group stage and were defending a proud record of their own on home soil; they were unbeaten in eight here coming into this. 

The defending champions had to withstand some clever football too from Paulo Sousa’s men on the night, who just did not have the firepower in the teenage Breel Embolo to trouble Keylor Navas deputising for Iker Casillas. 

Embolo rounded Navas at one stage but even then the Costa Rica international recovered. At that stage of the game Basel were coming on strong. Shkelzen Gashi was making plenty of space down the left channel and had three second-half efforts on goal but despite the midfield dominance handed to them by the excellent Fabian Frei, the hosts could not capitalise. 

Instead it was left to Madrid to show them how it was done. 

Madrid were not at full strength, nor close to their best form, but they still got the job done. They took some blows in the first half but Ronaldo’s goal characterised their current levels of impenetrability and superiority. He is already off and chasing Lionel Messi’s goalscoring record of 74.

Karim Benzema took on Philipp Degen down the line following a good chance for Luca Zuffi and the Portugal captain’s clever movement confused both Fabian Schar and Marek Suchy. There was nothing left to do but sweep the ball home. 

Later on, Ronaldo hit the post after being on the end of a pin-point counter attack. Gareth Bale and Fabio Coentrao combined on the left; Ronaldo found space and the fact that his shot cannoned off the post and out of play defied belief. He is that consistent now that you expect everything to go in. He has now scored 26 goals in 19 matches in all competitions this season. 

This was not a game Real Madrid had to win but there is confidence coursing through their veins. They are in a winning groove initiated by a heavy victory over Basel in September afer the derby defeat which did a lot to undermine Ancelotti’s credibility. But they have recovered in stunning fashion. 

Last season, Bayern Munich showed the dangers of easing up with the Bundesliga title already assured. They were lax and were duly swept aside by Real in the Champions League semi-finals after dropping needless points domestically. Getting into the winning habit is difficult, dropping it is very easy. 

But there is currently no danger of that happening to Madrid and the irrepressible Cristiano Ronaldo. They are the only team in the Champions League this season with a 100 per cent record and look strong favourites to retain their title. 

On a matchweek when potential title rivals Bayern and Borussia Dortmund slipped up and dropped points for the first time, Real showed their stomach for a fight; even when they didn’t have to.


11 2014
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