Barcelona and Real Madrid are given preferential schedule, says Malaga's Pellegrini

Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini is unhappy with the hectic schedule of his team, hinting that Barcelona, Real Madrid and Valencia are given preferential treatment.

The Andalusians are preparing for the first leg of their Champions League play-off with Panathinaikos on Wednesday night, but have been scheduled to play an 11pm fixture with Mallorca in La Liga on Sunday, just two days before the return game in Greece.

Speaking at a press conference, Pellegrini was clearly frustrated with the timing of the match, and hinted that Spain’s other representatives in Europe’s elite competition are being given precedence.

“Unfortunately, the programming is so strange to us, because we are playing at 11pm and will finish at 1.30am, and on Tuesday we play in the Champions League.

“We’ll see if Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia have the same treatment and play at that time,” he continued.

“Our recovery is more complicated. Let’s see if during the Champions League another team involved in that would have to play at 11pm on the preceding Saturday and only have 48 hours to recover.”

“I don’t think there is intent to hinder Malaga. They [the authorities] unfortunately did not take into account the Champions League. The four teams represent Spain, and I think we should have the same conditions.”.

Mourinho: I would trade Supercopa for La Liga title

Jose Mourinho - Real Madrid

Jose Mourinho – Real Madrid

Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho has made clear that he would much rather see his team defend their La Liga title than defeat arch-rivals Barcelona in the Supercopa.

The Portuguese went on to discuss the Catalans’ new signings, stating that while Alex Song and Jordi Alba give Tito Vilanova’s side more options, the Spanish league runners-up are still pretty much the same team.

“If I could, I would lose the Supercopa now and win La Liga. I would also give the Supercopa away if this provided extra motivation to win the league,” Mourinho was quoted by Marca

“The Supercopa does not affect the championship. It has no influence on it simply because the competition is less important than the four competitions we will take part in during the season.

“It does not determine how the league season will unfold. I think that when rival clubs meet, they always want to win. For this reason, winning the Supercopa is important, even if it has no effect on the rest of the season.

The Portuguese then went on to speak about the personnel changes at Barcelona, and what effect they will have on the Blaugrana.

“Barcelona are a team with practically the same players as last season. They have the same style which they can change a little now that they have two new players.

“There will be some small differences, but, for me it is the usual Barcelona, a team with great quality, great players, but I do not see that much of a difference from recent seasons.”

AC Milan weigh up Drenthe swoop

EXCLUSIVE
By Gaia Brunelli

Royston Drenthe could be on his way to Serie A this summer as AC Milan are considering the possibility of signing the Dutchman, Goal.com can reveal.

The Italian giants are keen to add some fresh blood to their squad following the departure of several first-team regulars, and they see the 25-year-old as a useful addition.

Drenthe was released on a free transfer by Real Madrid this summer after the Liga champions opted not to renew his contract, and the former Everton loanee has since been looking for a new club.

Milan face stiff competition in the race for the winger’s signature though, as Manchester City, West Ham United and Dynamo Kiev have already contacted the player’s agent to discuss a potential transfer.

Meanwhile, the Rossoneri have not given up hope of signing Real Madrid midfielder Kaka on a season-long loan deal.

The San Siro outfit lack the financial resources to pay a transfer fee for the attacking midfielder, but they remain hopeful that Madrid will allow Kaka to leave the club temporarily as the summer transfer window is set to slam shut in nine days time.

Milan are also keen on Lassana Diarra, but no movement is expected on his part until Madrid have wrapped up the signing of Luka Modric from Tottenham Hotspur.

Sahin set to complete season-long Arsenal move

By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent

Nuri Sahin is set to join Arsenal on a season-long loan from Real Madrid in the next 24 hours.

The deal had stagnated over the terms of the buy-out option should the Gunners decide to make his contract permanent in a year’s time.

Sahin’s destination is also understood to have been a discussion point in the Luka Modric talks between Madrid and Tottenham.

But a compromise has been reached and sources have told Goal.com that the midfielder will be imminently confirmed as an Arsenal player for the forthcoming campaign.

It will strengthen the midfield options of Arsene Wenger, who sanctioned the sale of Alex Song to Barcelona for 19 million (£15m) on Monday and is also likely to be without Jack Wilshere for the first three months of the season through injury.
 
Sahin’s arrival at Emirates Stadium comes after he had agreed in principle to join Liverpool following advice from Xabi Alonso that he would get more opportunities at Anfield.    

The Blancos were keen for Sahin to move to Merseyside after agreeing a loan fee that is believed to be higher than what Arsenal will pay, while Jose Mourinho felt that the 23-year-old could excel under the guidance of Brendan Rodgers, his former protege at Chelsea.

But Arsenal’s renewed interest last week turned Sahin’s head and Liverpool withdrew their interest in signing the former Borussia Dortmund midfielder on Saturday.

Sahin is the second high-profile midfielder this summer to take a late U-turn on joining Liverpool, following Gylfi Sigurdsson, who was on the verge of a move to Anfield before signing for Tottenham.

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Barcelona – Real Madrid Preview: Vilanova and Mourinho square off in Supercopa showdown

Alex Song could go straight into Barcelona’s squad to face Real Madrid in the Supercopa first leg on Thursday, after the midfielder completed his transfer from Arsenal.

Alexis Sanchez, Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique are all pushing for starts, while David Villa is set to be named on the bench again, despite his return from an eight-month injury lay-off in Sunday’s Liga victory over Real Sociedad.

Thiago Alcantara remains the Catalan side’s only absentee as he continues his recovery from a tibia injury.

Real Madrid defender Pepe looks certain to miss the trip to Camp Nou after suffering a nasty collision with team-mate Iker Casillas during Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Valencia, although the injury is not deemed to be serious.

Raul Albiol is expected to deputise for the Portugal international in defence, while Marcelo, Sami Khedira and Karim Benzema are all hoping to earn recalls to the starting XI.

  • The Blaugrana have lost just once in their last eight meetings with Real in all competitions (W4, D3, L1).
  • Barca have won the last three editions of the Supercopa with victories over Madrid (2011), Sevilla (2010) and Athletic Bilbao (2009), respectively.
  • Lionel Messi (pictured right) has scored 13 goals in 19 Clasico encounters across all competitions. Only Cesar Rodriguez has scored more for Barcelona against Madrid (14).
  • Real Madrid have lost just once under Jose Mourinho in their last four trips to Camp Nou (W1 D2 L1).
  • Mourinho’s overall record in El Clasico matches reads W2 D4 L5.
  • Eight of the last 10 red cards in Clasico encounters have been handed to Madrid players.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo has scored six goals in 16 previous meetings with Barca, including his time at Manchester United.