The Sports Matrix: Tuesday 24 April 2012


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The Independent Online

Di Matteo says his Chelsea side can shock Barcelona

Roberto Di Matteo said last night he believed his Chelsea team have the potential to win the Champions League this season, as they prepare to defend a one-goal lead against Barcelona at the Nou Camp in the semi-final tonight. "We do have the qualities within this team," he said. "I think we need away from home, as we've seen in the past, a bit of luck to be able to do well in a competition like this."

The caretaker manager is likely to start with the same side the beat Barcelona six days ago at Stamford Bridge. "Ultimately, Barcelona will create chances against every team they play against," he said. "We'll have to try and score a goal, for sure, but we must also limit the number of chances they create."

Barça's coach Pep Guardiola is expected to bring central defender Gerard Pique back in to the starting line-up to counter the threat of Didier Drogba, scorer of the only goal in the first leg.

Lionel Messi has recovered from what Guardiola described as a "gastric problem" and is ready to play. The Argentine missed training on Sunday but took part in a session at the Nou Camp last night. MORE

Hammers win to keep hopes alive

West Ham maintained their chance of automatic promotion back to the Premier League this season after winning 2-1 win at Leicester City last night. The Hammers are two points behind second-placed Southampton with one fixture remaining. MORE

Coyle: Opportunity knocks for Bolton

Ahead of Bolton's trip to Aston Villa tonight, manager Owen Coyle has called on his side to make the most of their two games in hand. "We have the opportunity and we have to maximise that opportunity. Bottom line is that we decide our own fate." MORE

Forget Mancini, we can win title – Touré

Manchester City midfielder Yaya Touré has dismissed his manager Roberto Mancini's protestations that the league title is out of their reach. "We have the quality and we have the mentality to win all these [remaining] games," the Ivorian said. MORE

Debt-free Wolves out to keep stars

Jez Moxey, the Wolves chief executive, said yesterday there would not be a mass selling of players in the wake of Sunday's relegation. "We're under no financial pressure to sell," he said. However, Kevin Doyle and Steven Fletcher are likely to attract bids. MORE

Hallissey handed GB marathon spot

Claire Hallissey was named to fill the third and final home berth in the women's marathon at the Olympics yesterday, a day after she finished the London Marathon as the fastest British woman. She joins Paula Radcliffe and Mara Yamauchi. MORE

Court defers ruling on BOA life bans

The Court of Arbitration for Sport yesterday announced that it will not be releasing until next week its ruling on the validity of the British Olympic Association's lifetime ban on drug test failures, such as Dwain Chambers, from competing in the Games. MORE

Outspoken Allen could face ban

Mark Allen will face disciplinary action after branding his opponent, Cao Yupeng, a cheat after his World Championship first-round defeat on Sunday. Barry Hearn, the World Snooker chairman, has described Allen's comments as "stupid". MORE

Defeat would only hurt Hopkins' pride

Bernard Hopkins has been a complex man, with performances in the ring that range from brilliant to dreadful. The Chad Dawson rematch next Saturday night has the feel of an end-game and legitimate defeat would not hurt his reputation. MORE

Opinion: James Lawton

One valuable point about Roberto Di Matteo these last few extraordinary weeks has been his indisputable presence in the real world, something that could never be claimed on behalf of his predecessor, Andre Villas-Boas. MORE