Kluivert: La Liga title race still alive even if Barcelona win



Former Barcelona striker Patrick Kluivert has claimed that the outcome of Sunday’s El Clasico will not be decisive in the Liga title race.

The Catalan giants welcome Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid to Camp Nou 11 points clear at the top of La Liga, but Kluivert has urged Barcelona not to become complacent should they extend their lead.

Speaking to Mercado the former Netherlands international said: “This Clasico will not decide anything because we are at the beginning of the season, and both are very good teams that will be challenging at the end of the season.”

Kluivert, who netted 120 times for Barca, added: “These matches are always good, and it will be even better tonight because both teams are playing very well at the moment.”

And having seen Real Madrid beat Ajax in the Champions League on Wednesday, the Netherlands assistant coach is well aware of the quality that Jose Mourinho’s side possess.

“Madrid played very well the other day, Ajax created some chances but there was a huge difference,” he said.

Vilanova should not copy Guardiola, says psychologist


EXCLUSIVE
By: Por Quillo Barrios

Ahead of the 222nd Clasico at Camp Nou on Sunday evening, a renowned psychologist has warned Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova not to try and copy the actions of his predecessor Pep Guardiola.

Vilanova replaced the 41-year-old at the end of last season, and according to Sonia Cervantes is under pressure to replicate Guardiola’s success, but added that should not come at the expense of his own style.

She said: “Going from second in command, to head coach causes a lot of stress, it is key to forget the stress, and focus on the job in hand.

“[Tito] Vilanova would be wrong to copy Guardiola. The right approach would be to try to win the maximum possible titles with a unique style. Guardiola won playing his style of football, whilst Vilanova must be Vilanova, and play with his own style.”

Whilst the Blaugrana boast a wealth of talent, Cervantes spoke about Lionel Messi in depth, praising Guardiola’s treatment of the Argentine, and suggesting Vilanova would be wise to continue that strong relationship with his star man.

“Messi was a player with great potential [when Guardiola arrived], and Pep worked hard to isolate the media noise surrounding him,” she added.

“Guardiola knew the huge project that Messi was, and in treating him right was able to get the best out of him. Tito must do the same, pamper him [Messi] to get the best out of him.

Cervantes tipped Vilanova to lead Barcelona to a 2-1 victory over their rivals, but stressed the importance of mental preparation before the match.

“Motivation is one of the most important things in sport, especially for a game like El Clasico where the psychological pressure is high,” she concluded.

Dani Alves: I wish Benzema played for Barcelona



As Barcelona prepare to host the 222nd Clasico Dani Alves spoke of his admiration for Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema and admitted he would love to play alongside him at Camp Nou.

The French striker has three goals to his name in all competitions this season and Alves will be part of a Blaugrana back four attempting to keep him quiet on Sunday afternoon – though he is aware that will be no easy feat.

“Benzema has no weaknesses, he is exactly the type of player I love,” the Brazilian defender told Telefoot.

The 29-year-old then paid Benzema the ultimate compliment by comparing him to a former great striker of both Barca and Madrid.

Alves added: “He reminds me of Ronaldo, and if I could I would have him in my team.”

Benzema is competing with Gonzalo Higuain for a place in the starting XI on Sunday evening, after Jose Mourinho said the pair would not play together.

Santos sensation Neymar would listen to Chelsea offer

Neymar - Santos FC

Ivan Storti/Divulgação Santos FC

Santos forward Neymar has said he would be open to a move to Premier League side Chelsea, stating they are one of the five clubs in the world any player must give serious consideration to.

The 20-year-old Brazil striker has been targeted by European heavyweights Barcelona, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain in recent months but remains, for now, in his home country.

He is, however, open to the idea of making a move to London after his international team-mate Oscar made the switch to Stamford Bridge during the summer transfer window.

“It is very simple: if Barcelona are interested you listen, if Real Madrid are interested you listen, if Chelsea are interested you listen,” Neymar told The Sun.

“There are maybe five clubs in the world that you know you must at least listen to. When the time is right I will listen to to the right offers that my agent has for me.”

Former Internacional playmaker Oscar has made an impressive start to his Chelsea career, scoring twice on his Champions League debut against Juventus.

Neymar admitted that both he and Barcelona full-back Dani Alves had made sales pitches to him as he contemplates a move to Europe.

“Oscar messages me to tell me what a great club Chelsea is and what a great city London is,” he added. “He and Dani are both very good salesmen for their clubs.”

The young forward has 48 goals in 95 league appearances for Santos, and has already hit an impressive 13 goals for the Brazilian national side in just 23 games.

Real Madrid edge Barcelona as Clasico favourites, according to Goal.com readers

Real Madrid have been voted as favourites to win the Clasico over Barcelona on Sunday night by Goal.com readers.

Jose Mourinho’s men received 5,071 votes (51.6 per cent) compared to Tito Vilanova’s team which were plumped for 4,193 times (42.65 per cent).

Just 5.75 per cent of 9,819 voters believed honours will be shared at Camp Nou.

Los Blancos won the poll despite being eight points below the Blaugrana in La Liga having had a rocky start to the campaign.

The clash kicks off at 19:50 CET and will be the third Clasico of the 2012-13 season, with the first two played over the two legs of the Supercopa with both clubs winning both home matches.

You can read the original poll article by clicking here, or check out just the final poll results here.