Dani Alves boarded the Barcelona team bus yesterday at 3pm with his own personal pillow... he should arrive in Milan around the same time this afternoon. The defender who was sent off as Barça slipped up in the 0-0 draw with city rivals Espanyol on Saturday, was forced along with his team-mates to make the marathon journey to Milan by coach after Uefa ruled out postponing this week's Champions League semi-finals.
A draining local derby and a 10-hour road trip to avoid a giant cloud of volcanic ash are not the best ways to prepare for a Champions League semi-final but coach Pep Guardiola last night warned there were "no excuses" for returning to Barcelona without a good result.
The 620-mile slog will perhaps test Barcelona's players' famous fondness for Coldplay and The Killers and give Jose Mourinho's Internazionale, who have had their feet up since Friday night's win over Juventus, a slight advantage.
Barça were made to scrap with 10 men for a point by local rivals Espanyol and then set off for Milan yesterday instead of the planned departure at 11am this morning. The team stopped overnight in Cannes before continuing their journey to the San Siro.
"It's not ideal in terms of recovery'' said Guardiola, "but there are a lot of teams in the lower divisions who have to travel 16 or 17 hours by coach every week.'' Midfielder Sergi Busquets added: "It will not affect us because our ambition and desire to win is bigger than any obstacle that can be put before us."
Real's nightmare goes on as Robben keeps rocking
Real Madrid's worst nightmare is not only that Barcelona get to play in the Champions League final on 22 May at the Bernabeu but that a certain Arjen Robben is also on the pitch. They sold the Dutchman to Bayern Munich last summer and his hat-trick at the weekend helped Bayern to a 7-0 win over Hannover. As Madrid debate trying to sign a new left winger, 14-goal Robben continues to shine for the Bundesliga champions in waiting. Bayern face a Lyons side on Wednesday that drew with Bordeaux at the weekend leaving both sides trailing Ligue One leaders Marseilles by five points.
Vucinic double lifts Roma above Inter in title race
Mirko Vucinic was the toast of half the Eternal City last night after his double sent Roma back to the top of Serie A with a 2-1 win over rivals Lazio. In a highly charged city derby, Roma prevailed to move a point above the champions Internazionale with just four games left. “It’s the most beautiful thing that exists in football. With my two goals I’m even happier,” said Vucinic after Roma had extended their unbeaten run in Serie A to 24 games.
Milan left high and dry for another year
Milan's hopes of a first scudetto in six years are virtually over after they lost 2-1 at Sampdoria yesterday. The Rossoneri led 1-0 through a Marco Borriello's header before they were reduced to 10 men by Daniele Bonera's dismissal. Antonio Cassano equalised with a penalty and in second-half injury time Giampaolo Pazzini headed the winner.