Internazionale coach Rafael Benitez's time at San Siro could be close to ending after Inter president Massimo Moratti said yesterday that the Spaniard's comments in the wake of the club's Fifa Club World Cup success, requesting more support from the board, "weren't suitable for the situation" and that "it is not the moment to ask for reinforcements".
Inter won the final 3-0 against African champions TP Mazembe in Abu Dhabi on Saturday thanks to goals from Goran Pandev, Samuel Eto'o and Joseph Biabiany. After the game, Benitez, who took the job in June, suggested he would leave the club if he didn't receive funds in January to bolster his under-performing squad, who lie seventh in Serie A. "Moratti said we would sign three players and this year nothing has been done," Benitez said. "Last year, he spent €80m [£68m] on five players, all first choice, but this year with a new coach he's spent nothing. I need 100 per cent support."
In Spain, Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola admitted after his team put on another dazzling display to defeat neighbours Espanyol 5-1 in the Catalan derby on Saturday that he would consider a move to the Premier League when his reign at the Nou Camp is over. "As a player I was interested [to come to England] but it was not possible," he said. "I know I will not be here forever or even for many years but it is not something I am planning at the moment."
Two goals each from Pedro and David Villa, plus a Xavi effort at the Estadi Cornellà-El Prat saw league leaders Barça score five for the second game in a row and for the fourth time in La Liga this season. Italian striker Pablo Osvaldo pulled one back for Espanyol with the score at 3-0. It was the first goal Barcelona had conceded in seven games in all competitions.
Guardiola's side have now scored 37 goals in their last eight La Liga games. Their points tally of 43 after 16 games also stands as a league record going into the three-week winter break.
Real Madrid in second won 1-0 at home to Seville, Angel di Maria getting their goal in the 77th minute just after Real defender Ricardo Carvalho had been sent off for a second yellow card. The visitors also finished with 10 men after Mouhamadou Dabo was dismissed in injury time.
Unlike Barcelona, runaway Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund missed the chance to record a pre-winter break points record after suffering their first league defeat in 15 games with a 1-0 loss at Eintracht Frankfurt. Dortmund, with 43 points from 17 games, needed just a draw to match Bayern Munich's 44 points at the same stage from the 2005-06 season. "I would be castigated for not admitting that we have played a decent first half of the season," Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp said. His team are still 10 points clear at the top.
Elsewhere in Germany, under-pressure Steve McClaren was relieved to see his Wolfsburg side come back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Hoffenheim on Saturday. The former England manager's team has gone seven league games without a win and McClaren was told by club chairman Francisco Garcia Sanz last week that the 13th-placed team's performances had to improve.
In Serie A, Napoli and Lazio moved within three points of leaders Milan after both picking up important wins yesterday. Uruguay international Edinson Cavani scored an injury-time winner for the second game in a row as Napoli narrowly won 1-0 against Lecce to move up to second on goal difference, while at Stadio Olimpico it took an 88th-minute own goal from Udinese defender Cristian Zapata to gift Lazio a 3-2 victory.
Milan, who are reportedly close to agreeing a move for Sampdoria striker Antonio Cassano, lost ground at the top of the table by losing 1-0 to Roma at San Siro on Saturday. Ironically, Marco Borriello, on loan from the Rossoneri, scored the only goal of the game.Reuse content