Ballesteros refutes Pepe assault claims

Levante defender Sergio Ballesteros has strongly denied rumours of an altercation between him and Real Madrid’s Pepe.

Sections of the media have reported that the centre-back grabbed the Portugal international by the throat and punched him in the face inside the club’s treatment facilities, after Sunday’s game, but Ballesteros has dismissed those wild allegations.

“I’ve never assaulted anyone in my life, especially not Pepe,” he told reporters.

“After 20 years in this profession you can believe anything I say. I went in to see how Cristiano [Ronaldo] was, that is all. I would never dare to assault anyone.

The Granotes player was also disappointed with comments made by Sergio Ramos. who suggested he should swap football for boxing in light of the allegations.

“That’s what hurt me the most. Before the game I congratulated him and [Iker] Casillas for what they had achieved with the national team and what he said surprised me,” he added.

“These things happen because it involves Madrid, it is not a coincidence.”

Kaka hails Falcao talent

Real Madrid forward Kaka has heaped praise on Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao.

The pair’s clubs may well be fierce rivals, but that has not stopped the two from becoming firm friends, and the 30-year-old spoke of his appreciation for the Colombian’s footballing ability.

“Radamel Falcao is an excellent talent. He is also a great friend of mine and I often meet with him in Madrid, our families are friends and I hope that remains for a long time,” he told Lance!

Kaka and Falcao will face one another on Thursday evening when Brazil take on Colombia, and despite enjoying something of a second coming for the national side, the former AC Milan man is refusing to take his place for granted, while acknowledging the threat posed by the Selecao’s latest opponents.

“Colombia have some incredible players and we will have to be at our best to win the game,” he added.

“I feel good to have played the last two games, however, my place is far from consolidated. They were two important games and I did well, but I still have a lot to give to the squad.”

Iniesta: I do not hate Pepe

Barcelona star Andres Iniesta has revealed that he holds no hatred towards Real Madrid’s Pepe.

The pair were surrounded by controversy because of a verbal row after the 2-2 Clasico draw earlier this season, but when questioned whether or not the two can see past their differences, Iniesta responded in a positive manner.

“I can be friends with him, why not?” he told SportYou magazine.

“There was a point in time when I said what I thought of him, I did not like him, but now, why not?”

The Spain international also played down the on field tension between Lionel Messi and David Villa and spoke about the differences between the Blaugrana and Madrid in relation to their respective youth systems.

“What we have seen are things that remain on the field. These things happen at all workplaces,” he added.

“Every club is different. I’ve been fortunate to be where I am, and what matters is that people trust the cantera. Otherwise, it is not worth it.”

I did not mean to hurt Ronaldo, insists Navarro

Levante defender David Navarro says he did not deliberately injure Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Portugal international initially played on after a stray elbow resulted in his left eye being badly cut and swollen, and even opened the scoring with for Madrid, but he was eventually replaced at half-time because of dizziness, and Navarro has claimed the injury was just unfortunate.

“It was an accident, at no time did I try to cause harm to Cristiano Ronaldo,” Navarro told his club’s website.

“These are things that happen during a game and I regret having wounded him, but I repeat that it was something completely involuntary.”

Navarro also revealed that he contacted Ronaldo on Monday morning to ask how he was and wished him a quick recovery.

Referees favour Messi & Ronaldo, claims Simeone

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone believes that officials handle decisions regarding Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo differently to those concerning his forward Radamel Falcao.

The Argentine trainer has suggested that officials tend to give the duo preferential treatment, but urged them to be more cautious next time they see the Colombian felled.

“I don’t like to talk about [referees], but I do occasionally, and it’s clear that if you touch Messi and Ronaldo, it’s a foul, but when it happens to Falcao, then nothing is given,” the Argentine told reporters.

“I hope that in the future they are more alert.”

The Argentine went on to reflect on Sunday’s 2-0 win over Getafe, and admitted that his side still have a lot to work on in order to meet their goals for the season.

“We looked for the fastest way to the win and it was very effective. In the second half the team were not good.

“In the first half we had the situation we wanted on the pitch. I think it was very good. In the second [half] not so much, so I’m very happy with the result.”

Atletico Madrid currently sit second in La Liga, only three points behind table-toppers Barcelona.