Edin Dzeko has insisted that Manchester City will not be fazed by their tough draw in this season’s Champions League.
The Premier League champions have been drawn alongside three other title holders in the shape of Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Ajax in Group D this season after facing Bayern munich and Napoli last term.
But the Bosnia international is confident that Robert Mancini’s side can progress to the knock-out rounds after being eliminated at the group phase last year.
He told SportSport: “We were in the group of death last season and now we are in it again.”
“The group will be great to watch, but not so great to play in. But we know what we are capable of and we don’t fear anybody.
“I believe it will be a tight race and it will be interesting to see who will go to the next round.
The former Wolfsburg striker believes that Roberto Mancini’s side could go on to win the competition if they qualify from the group, but admits Real Madrid are obvious favourites to go through.
He added: “Whoever finishes first and second in the group will be big favourites to win the competition. I hope we don’t make the same mistakes as last season.
“Who are the favourites? Real Madrid, of course.
“I can’t wait for the opening match at Santiago Bernabeu.
“That will be a great spectacle and I hope that we can show in Madrid what we are capable of and how strong we are.”
Anzhi Makhachkala have announced that they have completed the signing of Lassana Diarra from Real Madrid on a four-year deal.
The midfielder initially appeared to be heading to Russia on a season-long loan, but the cash-rich outfit have now confirmed that he has joined on a permanent switch, along with forward Nikita Burmistov from Amkar Perm.
“The signings of these footballers totally correspond to the strategy of our club achieving top aims,” CEO Ayvaz Kaziakhmedov told the club’s official website.
“We are confident that, together with Lassana and Nikita, the club will fight for the most prestigious titles.”
Anzhi were keen to add some more experience to their squad in order to fight for honours, and coach Guus Hiddink sees the France international as the ideal addition to his midfield.
The 27-year-old joined Madrid from Portsmouth in January 2009, and quickly developed into an important first-team member at the Santiago Bernabeu.
However, he has since lost his spot in the starting XI and was deemed surplus to requirements by head coach Jose Mourinho.
Diarra had also attracted the interest of AC Milan, but the Serie A side eventually opted to sign Nigel de Jong instead.
With Atletico Madrid’s trip to Betis put back until the end of September, the third round of La Liga had just nine games instead of 10. Here, Goal.com looks at the best players on show over the weekend.
In goal, Diego Alves makes the team for the second time this season, despite ending up on the losing side as Valencia went down 1-0 at Barcelona.
At the back, Anderson Conceicao is included following his fine performance in Mallorca’s 1-0 win over Real Sociedad, while Carlos Marchena is back in after another impressive display for Deportivo La Coruna in the Galicians’ 1-1 draw against Getafe. Adriano completes the three-man back thanks to his brilliant winner in Barcelona’s Camp Nou clash against Valencia on Sunday, which also saw the Catalans keep a clean sheet.
In midfield, Javi Hervas came off the bench to impress for Sevilla, although he was unable to inspire the Andalusians to victory as they were held to a goalless draw at Rayo Vallecano. Meanwhile, Michel is included after coming off the bench to inspire Levante to a 3-2 win over Espanyol, in which he scored the winning goal. There’s also a place for Athletic Bilbao’s Markel Susaeta, who produced an excellent performance and scored as the Basques secured their first Primera Division win of the season with victory over Valladolid. And last of all, Nacho Camacho makes it in after extending Malaga’s fine start to the campaign with the only goal of the game at Zaragoza on Saturday.
Further forward, Cristiano Ronaldo makes it in after scoring twice in Real Madrid’s 3-0 win over Granada on Sunday, while Celta Vigo’s Iago Aspas also makes it in after scoring the club’s first home goal on their return to top-flight football, in the 2-0 win over Osasuna. And Athletic Bilbao’s Aritz Aduriz completes the line-up as he netted in his side’s 2-0 victory at home to Valladolid.