Eurozone: Mourinho on familiar controversial ground as row with Gijon escalates

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The Independent Online

Jose Mourinho goes into his last game before the Clasico with the threat of a heavy fine hanging over him after Spain's state commission against violence in sport asked the Spanish football association to take disciplinary action against him.

Mourinho has remained quiet over the last few days but he started a war of words a week ago when he repeated comments first made earlier in the season accusing the Sporting Gijon coach Manuel Preciado of "gifting" a match to Barcelona by playing an under-strength team against them.

Preciado responded by calling Mourinho a "canalla" which translates into English as "lowlife" or "swine". Last weekend Preciado's Sporting team were beaten by Real Madrid and a touchline ban for Mourinho meant there was no opportunity for the two to continue their spat.

The Sporting coach joked before the game that the banned Mourinho should be made to sit with the Sporting fans but the footballing authorities have not seen the funny side and both he and Mourinho will be asked to answer for themselves.

Mourinho is also banned for tonight's visit of Athletic Bilbao where Fernando Llorente will test a Madrid defence likely to be without Pepe. The defender is likely to be rested as he is one booking away from a suspension that would rule him out of the Clasico.

Llorente has been linked with a move to Madrid but, asked if the rumours had put the player off his game – Madrid are often accused of unsettling opponents this way – the Bilbao coach Joaquin Caparros said: "On the contrary. The stories are very flattering and have done wonders for his confidence."

In Germany, there have been more strong words from the Bayern Munich coach Louis van Gaal who criticised Franck Ribéry after a friendly arranged against nearby Unterhaching to hasten Ribéry's return from injury.

It was Ribéry's first start since mid-September and, though he made a goal in the 2-1 win, Van Gaal said: "He showed no commitment. None of them put in much effort but least of all Ribéry," said Van Gaal. "He caused no confusion at all. I am not organising these games for myself." The injury-hit defending champions are sixth in the Bundesliga, 12 points behind leaders Borussia Dortmund.

After Inter's defeat in last week's derby the gag in Italy's Serie A is whether Rafael Benítez will be around to eat his panettone – the traditional Italian cake enjoyed at Christmas. "We all have to give more," said Benítez, whose fifth-placed team are at Chievo. Milan, now six points ahead of their city rivals, but one ahead of Lazio, host Fiorentina.

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