It is understood that Roque Santa Cruz would bid good bye to the international game with Copa America being his last assignment with his national team, Paraguay.

The striker has served Paraguay to the maximum of his strength scoring more times than anybody else for La Albirroja.

But, other than his success, what makes Santa Cruz to be held in high regard in the Football world is his simplicity.

It doesn’t take long for a player to change his lifestyle considerably when he comes from a poor background and starts having a lot of money playing in overseas leagues.

But, for Santa Cruz, his motherland always remained in his heart in spite of the fact that he earned big.

There was an interesting thing that he had said in an interview 4-5 years back regarding a not so flamboyant car that he used back then.

Being a Manchester City player, he would have been earning enough to afford a more expensive car, but, he didn’t buy one because he thought using such a car in a country, where the lives of the most of the people are nothing less than misery, would be unbefitting.

His words in that interview were, “Considering the kind of situation in Paraguay in terms of the standard of living of a large part of the population, the moral sense in me doesn’t allow me to have a highly expensive car.”

“Of course, the reason you earn is to lead a good life, but, my theory is that you should only have as much as your requirements, not in surplus.”

The words themselves show his greatness, there is no need to add to that and Santa Cruz has not changed since then, he is still like that, very down to earth and always humble.

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Barcelona players Jordi Alba and Neymar Jr. are in good spirit according to reports, after the duo had clashed in the 2-1 loss to Valencia.

The players were involved in a clash during an goal-bound attack from the Catalan giant. The Brazilian was asking for the ball but Jordi Alba chose to ignore the call. This infuriated the Neymar who insulted Jordi Alba shouting: “Go fuck yourself! What? What? You got a problem?”

This drew attention to the Spanish team that had been having poor results especially in the Spanish La Liga league. After the outburst from Neymar, both players stood their ground, but the brief moment ended with Alba extending his right hand, rebuking the words thrown at him by his team-mate. Jordi Alba is also one of the players with a strong character in the dressing room based on various reports in the past.

After the showing from both players of the Catalan side, during the training session the following week, the players seemed to be in good spirits as they prepared for the trip to Deportivo La Coruna. Barcelona won the game by 8-0 and even won the next league game against Sporting Gijon by 6-0.

The 27-year old Left-Back played in both games and could easily be seen laughing around with the Brazilian star. Barcelona have three more games to execute before being handed the Spanish La Liga title again, after their string of poor run that also included being knocked out of the UEFA Champions League by fellow Spanish side, Atletico Madrid. The Catalan giant had hoped to repeat the treble they achieved last season but the poor run during that period killed that dream. Many analysts attributed the break in form to fatigue, as the forwards in Messi, Suarez and Nerymar had played more minutes that the forwards of other clubs.

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Jordi Alba will be on the pitch against Real Madrid in Saturday’s La Liga match.

The left-back who was expected to be out longer with an injury has recovered just time to boost his team chances against their fierce rivals.

Jordi Alba picked up an injury when playing for his national team, Spain in a game against Romania. There were fears that the ankle injury was a serious one and would require a lengthy treatment. However, Alba recovered quicker than expected and should be declared fit to play against Real Madrid.

Jordi Alba played the full 90 minutes of the friendly against Romania in a game that finished 0-0.

Alba joined Barcelona in 2012 from Valencia for a €14 million transfer fee after having made some great performances in La Liga. Indeed, he managed 110 appearances for Valencia and scored 6 goals along the way.

He started his Barcelona career with a game against Real Sociedad in a game where his team won 5-1. His first goal for his new club came in a game against Deportivo La Coruna. So far he has made 148 appearances for Barcelona and has scored 7 goals.

On the international front, Jordi Alba has represented Spain 41 times and has scored 6 goals for his country. He was part of the team that won the Euros 2012.

Another player that has returned quickly to the Barcelona team is Neymar. It was believed that the Brazilian player will stay back a little longer in Brazil after his international duties, but he made it back to the Nou Camp on Tuesday for the training sessions. He is also expected to be on the pitch against Real Madrid as Barcelona will want to take a decisive lead for the Spanish title.

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Barcelona have received bad news in the form of a new injury to defender Jordi Alba, who is expected to miss the next 10 days of action.

The defender suffered the problem while playing in the league match against Athletic Bilbao. Hamstring injuries are often very serious and it takes several weeks for a player to recuperate. However, Barcelona believe that the injury suffered by Alba is just the start of a major tear. Since they have found the issue much sooner, they expect the player to miss only a few weeks of action.

Even though the transfer embargo was recently lifted on the Catalan club, they still remain short on players. The decision by manager Luis Enrique to go for a small squad means that the club cannot afford too many injuries at the same time. They have already had their fair share of injuries to important players like Lionel Messi, who rarely gets injured. Left back is one of the positions where Enrique has a couple of options to choose from. The 26-year-old defender has made just 15 appearances this season. Interestingly, the matches that he misses the not count much for the club and they can certainly cope with his absence during this period.

Alba is expected to be unavailable for the league match against Malaga while he is also going to miss the return leg against Espanyol at the Camp Nou. The return leg in the Copa del Rey quarter-final has little significance since Barcelona have already asserted their superiority by getting a 2-0 win in the first leg away from home. This victory against their arch rivals was then followed by a 6-0 thrashing of Athletic Bilbao. Despite the win, Barcelona remain second in the table since Atletico Madrid continued their winning run after having played one game more.

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Jose Mourinho is regarded to be one of the best managers in the world and the Portuguese tactician has proved it by the amount of major pieces of silverware that he has won.

One of the most impressive accomplishments that Mourinho has achieved as a manager is winning the Champions League title on 3 different occasions with distinct clubs.

In the latest season where Mourinho has been in charge of a club, he managed to push Chelsea to the Premier League title in stellar form as the English club only lost 3 matches 38 games and had more than 7 points of advantage over their nearest rivals, Manchester City who finished the season with 79 points while Chelsea gathered a total of 87 points.

The head chiefs of Chelsea have been so impressed by what Jose Mourinho has accomplished that they are negotiating a contract with the Portuguese coach where he will be earning £7.5m a year.

Negotiations are believed to be taking place and if everything goes according to plan, Mourinho is expected to sign a new contract with Chelsea that will allow him to stay as the head coach until 2019 in a contract which is worth €30 million.

Mourinho managed to lift the Champions League title with his former clubs: Porto and Inter Milan but hasn’t been able to do it with the Premier League club Chelsea. Winning this major European silverware is something that Mourinho wants to accomplish and by signing the new contract with Chelsea, he has the motivation and time to do it.

One of the things that Jose Mourinho wants to do besides winning the Champions League title with Chelsea is to reinforce his squad and turn it even better and one of the players who is on the verge of being signed by the Premier League club is RadamelFalcao.

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Real Madrid’s poor run of form continued after a 4-0 thrashing against archrivals Atletico Madrid.

This left the club with several questions about the team spirit especially after reports surfaced that some of the players were unhappy with the way Cristiano Ronaldo celebrated his birthday party just after this defeat.

Midfielder Isco, though, says that there is no truth in the rumours and that the team is united as ever. The club’s lead at the top of the table has been cut to just one point from Barcelona. This is almost an insignificant advantage given the number of games left to play.

After struggling to establish himself in his early time at Madrid, Isco has been showing a lot of maturity of late. The 22-year-old has already played in 26 matches for the club this season. More importantly, he has been concentrating more on assists rather than scoring goals himself. Either way, he has contributed 12 goals directly or indirectly so far. This is seen as a healthy contribution especially given that Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema score much of the goals. Madrid will be looking to recover from this setback when they take on Schalke in the Champions League knockout stages.

Roberto di Matteo’s Schalke are fourth in the Bundesliga with just two wins in the last five.”It was down to sporting reasons. It was difficult after the rout last week.What the press are saying isn’t true: the unity in the dressing room is magnificent. After the drubbing it’s been good to fix things with a dose of humility and this team knows how to come back from tough situations.Together we’ll move forward with more strength than ever. Indeed, I think the team has to keep growing in confidence for what’s coming up,” said Isco after the game.

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Southampton recaptured the third spot in the Premier League after a 2-1 win over Newcastle United. Even though this victory was against a team without a permanent manager, it was impressive nonetheless.

Southampton appeared to lose ground in the top four race during the Christmas period, but they have sufficiently recovered from their problems to win their third consecutive match in all competitions. This was also the second consecutive victory in the league after they had beaten United 1-0 at Old Trafford last week.

After this win over Newcastle, Ronald Koeman stated that he felt that Southampton have proved over the last 21 matches that they deserve to be in this lofty position. Not many expected Southampton to be in this position after they had sold a number of first-team players like Luke Shaw and Dejan Lovren in the summer. Koeman has brought in his own players and the success has been built on a solid defence.

Elia has been in superb form over the last few weeks and he opened the scoring after just 14 minutes. Frenchman Gouffran, though, equalised for the home team after 29 minutes but Eliawas the star of the show after sealing a brace in the second half.

“If I had been asked the question in pre-season, would we be third in the table after 22 games, maybe I would have laughed, but not now because we have a really good team and we have really good spirit and really good organisation.I’m not surprised that we are now third in the league because we haven’t stolen any points and, what we have got, we have deserved. I am very happy and very proud of everybody,” said the manager after the match. Southampton’s focus shifts towards the FA Cup next week with a fourth-round match against Crystal Palace.

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Mikel Arteta is someone who has worked extremely well with David Moyes. The Scot was responsible for bringing Arteta into English football, where he has had enormous success first with Everton and now with Arsenal. Prior to his spell with English clubs, Arteta was playing for Real Sociedad.

The Spanish club have been struggling with the threat of relegation in the last few weeks. They have brought in Moyes as their new manager. This is the first managerial job for Moyes since he was backed from Manchester United before the end of last season.

Even though the Manchester United job turned out to be a major disappointment for Moyes, Arteta believes firmly that the Scot could be a major success of the Spanish club. Few British managers have tried their luck abroad with former England boss Steve McClaren being one of them. He has warned version that his head will be spinning in his first few months due to the sheer difficult nature of managing in a foreign country for the first time. Arteta has backed his former boss to deliver the goods at the Spanish club, who are outside the relegation zone only on the head-to-head record.

Moyes has said on several occasions that he was not given enough time at United.”David has a lot of personality. His teams always have to take the initiative. He likes to maintain a very united group and he gives a lot of importance to it.Moyes is on top of players so that they always give their best. If you do then he makes your week much easier.Moreover, he also takes a personal interest in his players as well,” said Arteta. Moyes will be replacingJagobaArrasate, who was fired from his role only last week. The team take on Deportivo la Coruna after the international break.

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Erstwhile Liverpool star Michael Owen is afraid that Newcastle’s present stellar mode might spell a tough battle for Liverpool. Newcastle are in a supreme mode of late courtesy back-to-back triumphs which implies quite a hard fight for The Reds.
Liverpool are to face Newcastle is a high voltage match that is to be hosted by St. James’ Park. According to Owen, who presently works as a BT Sport pundit, stressed that the TV stations are generally very keen on Newcastle live games as “there’s always some story” in North East.
Post a winless beginning in the campaign, Newcastle boss Pardew (Alan) seemed to be in a vulnerable position given harsh criticisms around. But his team has been able to shut up all critics by their dramatic back-to-back victories in the ongoing Premier League.
The former Liverpool hero feels that his former team should try to come up with their best in the upcoming given the dangerously powerful form of the rival squad.
“Newcastle are, undoubtedly, a huge club. The team play in great stadium & it’s a grand arena to play soccer”, remarked Owen.
“Their matches against these teams usually pull in the TV cameras as there’s usually a great deal of intrigue surrounding Newcastle & there is generally some story at the St. James & you will always get something for reporting.”
“Over the past few weeks, it has been centering around the manager’s stance yet post the 2 great wins, it’s looking some kind of hard game for The Reds” , Own continued with his explanation.
However Owen, who himself scored as many as 14 times against Newcastle as a Liverpool player is confident that his tea would be able to come up with an uneasy ambience in the match.

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The Spanish defender of Barcelona Jordi Alba made a standout debut season for Barcelona as the club offloaded €14 million a few years ago in June of 2012 as he arrived from Valencia. He attracted the attention of Barcelona during the 2012 Euro’s as the left-back made impressive performances in all of his matches at the international stage for Spain.

Alba managed to make 29 league appearances for Barcelona during his first campaign at the Camp Nou but the previous edition he was limited on only performing in 15 matches but now with arrival of the new coach Luis Enrique, things are looking bright for Alba as he has been featured in the latest pre-season matches for his club and the player himself believes that Barcelona can and will achieve great things if they work hard.

“Last season we were not at our highest level. Luis Enrique arrived and brought grit, character and determination. My feeling is we are going to do great things and Luis Enrique is the right man for the job. We are obliged to win titles. The mentality is winning and I see a team with hunger to win new trophies. If we give it everything we will achieve important things.”

The Spanish League is only a few days away from kicking off in full force and teams have already secured their major summer targets which are the case of Real Madrid as they signed Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez meanwhile Barcelona opted to go with Luis Suarez as their biggest signing of this transfer window.

Out of the entire squad of Barcelona, Xavi Hernandez is the most experienced player as he has made over 600 appearances for his club and country but he recently announced his retirement from playing at the international stage and the Spanish midfielder was on the verge of leaving Barcelona as he had received offers from the MLS but he eventually decided to remain at the Camp Nou for another season and Jordi Alba is greatful on having the veteran player alongside him for an extended period of time.

Barcelona’s Jordi Alba said: “He’s played an especially important part in all of Spain’s successes. He’s shown he’s one of the best in the world. It is sad news for the national team, but it is a joy that we still have him with us at Barça’’

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