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Any eyebrows raised when Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho signed 32-year-old Portuguese compatriot Ricardo Carvalho from Chelsea have been firmly put back into place as the centre back is proving an extremely astute purchase.
As well as helping to keep Real’s tally of goals conceded down to five in 10 La Liga matches, Carvalho has netted two key strikes, scoring the only goal against Osasuna in September and the opener in Sunday’s 2-0 Madrid derby win over Atletico.
He demonstrated his tactical nous in the lead up to his goal in the 13th minute at the Bernabeu, driving on through the static Atletico defence to pick up a loose ball and finish coolly past goalkeeper David De Gea.
“He scores his goals, two, three or four each season,” Mourinho told a news conference after the derby win, adding that Carvalho had been the league leaders’ best player on the night along with German defensive midfielder Sami Khedira.
Lucas Leiva has often been dismissed as a mediocre battler with little or no star quality, but the much-maligned midfielder’s performance against Chelsea marked him out as an influential part of Liverpool’s recent recovery.
Few players have attracted as much ire as the combative Brazilian who was reportedly close to strolling out the Anfield exit door during the summer with a host of European also-rans touted as a possible destination.
Wayne Rooney, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Karim Benzema and Juan Mata are among the strikers up for discussion in the latest edition of our Reuters Sports Champions League podcast. Kevin Fylan is joined by Ed Osmond, Owen Wyatt, Paul Radford and Mark Meadows.
‘Plus ca change’ was the defining refrain of the Premier League’s opening weekend, but football fans tired of the established order will hope déjà vu is lurking round the corner for Manchester United and Chelsea.
Neither the champions nor the runners-up broke sweat as they strolled to opening victories that pointed ominously to another two-horse race for the Premier League title.
England midfielder Joe Cole sprang a slight surprise by choosing to sign for Liverpool rather than other suitors such as Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal.
The cynics are saying it is all to do with money and not about prestige given Liverpool will not be in the Champions League next season unlike the other two.
By winning 8-0, Chelsea made the end of the Premier League season a faily clear-cut affair but the finish to our Predictions League went right to the last kick.
Paul Radford had long since wrapped up the championship but second spot was up for grabs with Patrick Johnston and Mitch Phillips neck and neck on 301. Phillips scored a high 13 points in the finale but Johnston pulled off a 14-pointer to steal the glory.
It’s safe to say Paul Radford has been deservedly crowned our Predictions League champion 2009/10 but what about the Premier League?
Could there be a sting in the tail for leaders Chelsea in their last game at home to Wigan on Sunday?
AS Roma are absolutely livid after Inter Milan regained the lead in Serie A with a 2-0 win at Lazio, where the home fans cheered the goals as much as the away supporters.
Lazio fans hate Roma so much that many of them wanted their own side to lose on Sunday as it meant their bitter city rivals were knocked off top spot. This was despite the fact Lazio are not clear of relegation yet.
Liverpool will not be keen on helping Manchester United in their title bid but a victory over Chelsea on Sunday could push the Reds closer to that fourth Champions League spot.