EXCLUSIVE: Cazorla reveals Arsenal interest in Casillas

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Benched: Iker Casillas has not started a single La Liga game this season.

Santi Cazorla has revealed that Arsenal are interested in signing Real Madrid legend Iker Casillas, but admits the final decision lies with the out-of-favour Spanish international.

Casillas first lost his place in the Madrid side last season under Jose Mourinho and in the current campaign has not started a single league game under Carlo Ancelotti, with Diego Lopez now the preferred option.

The 32-year-old remains first choice in the Champions League, starting all nine games, but with Lopez excelling domestically it has been suggested that Casillas may have to bring an end to his 24-year association with Los Blancos.

And it seems as though one possible destination could be Arsenal, with Cazorla admitting that he has spoken to his international colleague about a possible switch to the Emirates.

“I’ve told him [I would like him to join Arsenal], but so far he has just been curious about my experience in England,” Cazorla exclusively told Sport360.

“His situation is very complicated, but he has to make a decision.

“Lots of clubs want him, including Arsenal, but I think that it would be very difficult to leave Real Madrid because of what the club represents.

“He knows what he has [at Madrid] and what he could find at another club.”

Arsenal have been linked with a host of goalkeepers in recent transfer windows but manager Arsene Wenger has shown great faith in current number one Wojciech Szczesny.

The Poland international has kept 13 clean sheets in 33 Premier League games this season but Wenger seemingly has little in reserve, with summer signing Emiliano Viviano yet to make a single appearance and Lukasz Fabianski out of contract this summer.

Read the exclusive interview as Cazorla talks Arsenal, trophies and Manuel Pellegrini.

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Madrid out for revenge in Dortmund

Andy West 8/04/2014
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Halfway there: Real Madrid start tonight’s second leg in Germany with a healthy three-goal advantage.

Carlo Ancelotti is confident his Real Madrid team will not squander the opportunity to progress to the last four of the Champions League as they head into the second leg at Borussia Dortmund in a very strong position after last week’s confident showing in Spain. 

Goals from Gareth Bale, Isco and Cristiano Ronaldo allowed Los Blancos to establish a 3-0 lead, and Ancelotti insists there will be no complacency about his team as they seek to finish the job in Germany.

Putting the requirements facing each team into context, Ancelotti insisted Madrid will take an attacking approach as he pointed out that an away goal for his team would effectively seal his team’s progress.

He said: “They have 90 minutes to score four goals, whereas we only have to score once.

“The sooner we do it, the sooner we’ll end the tie, so we won’t change our system. Playing the return leg in the quarter-finals of the Champions League with this advantage, there’s no need to motivate the team.

“We’re very close to reaching the semi-finals and that’s the biggest possible motivation.”

Ancelotti will probably be forced to do without the services of star man Cristiano Ronaldo – this season’s leading scorer in the Champions League – after the Portuguese ace missed Saturday’s victory at Real Sociedad with a niggling knee injury and was only able to complete a few minutes of Monday’s training session.

“He’s receiving treatment. We’ll see how he feels and then we’ll decide, without taking risks,” confirmed Ancelotti. “If Cristiano is 100 per cent, he will play. If not, he won’t.

“We both agree that he should always play when he can, but if he doesn’t feel right, he won’t play. He is very professional and knows his own body very well – if he doesn’t feel good, he says so.”

However, there are no concerns over the fitness of Gareth Bale, who limped off with a cut knee after a goalscoring display in Saturday’s victory at Sociedad.

“Bale has recovered well and doesn’t have any problems to play,” assured Ancelotti.

Another player who will definitely take part is Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski, who missed last week’s first leg through suspension.

Ancelotti had no qualms in identifying the Polish international striker – who scored four goals in last season’s 4-1 semi-final first leg win over Madrid – as Dortmund’s key player.

“He changes the game because he’s a striker with great quality and who has a lot of presence and importance for our opponents,” said the Italian boss. “He gives greater potential to Dortmund.”

Meanwhile, Bale insisted his team will not be affected by the famously vibrant atmosphere created by Dortmund fans, commenting: “We’re professionals and we know how to go about our business despite the atmosphere. We’ll approach the game in our normal way.

“I’ve never played at Westfalenstadion, but I’ve seen it on TV and I’ve heard people talk about it. They say the atmosphere is incredible.”

The Welshman also believes Madrid can play with confidence after the first leg, adding: “Last Wednesday’s match was great, we played well and deserved to win.

“But it will be a different game in Dortmund. They’ll come out fighting and we have to approach it like any other game, looking to win it and seal our place in the semifinals.”

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Chelsea vs PSG preview: Zlatan’s absence could be blessing in disguise

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Key man: Lucas is likely to start against Chelsea with Zlatan Ibrahimovic ruled out.

Paris Saint-Germain will equal their best ever performance in the Champions League on Tuesday if they capitalize on a 3-1 win in the first leg and knock Chelsea out of the competition.

In fact both sides have the chance to make history, such is the unlikelihood of a turnaround by John Terry's team-mates on Tuesday.

Statistics determine that the French side have a 76% chance of progressing, and the side's 3-0 home victory on Saturday against Reims will comfort fans as their squad travels to Stamford Bridge.

A Lucas Moura masterclass ensured Laurent Blanc's men would fully focus on their trip to London; their thirteen-point lead over AS Monaco at the top of the Ligue 1 table having all but sealed a second consecutive domestic title.

The Chelsea staff monitoring their rivals will not have found reasons for optimism as the Parisians' cruised to a win with a second-string side.

On Tuesday, they will enter the pitch confident in their abilities, looking to secure as much possession as possible in the opening stages of the game. Star striker Ibrahimovic will be missing after picking up a thigh injury in the home leg that will see him sidelined for four weeks.

However, his absence might prove a blessing in disguise for PSG as it may allow Lucas Moura to start on the right wing and show the entirety of his talents.

The Brazilian attacking midfielder is hitting peak form at the most opportune time, having made a remarkable appearance off the bench in the first leg. Facing the likes of Willian and Oscar, both of whom he competes against for a World Cup berth, the spectacular 21-year-old will have a unique chance to impress Luiz Felipe Scolari just two months before the World Cup.

Though Edinson Cavani, displayed on the right wing, proved instrumental in nullifying Eden Hazard last week, his come-back as centre-forward will pose a new challenge to the Terry-Cahill partnership that looked too comfortable at times marking Zlatan Ibrahimovic last week.

The Uruguay striker will be keen to fight off personal demons at Stamford Bridge, having been part of the Napoli side who came to London two years ago basking in the glory of a 3-1 lead after one leg, only to go out of the competition a couple of hours and a dramatic extra-time later.

Altogether, PSG are motivated and well-balanced, able to secure possession when required, or hit Chelsea on the counter if needed.

Jose Mourinho, who insisted on keeping a positive mindset in the build-up to the game, knows his squad reached its limits at Parc des Princes last week, when a passive defensive line surrendered in the dying minutes of the game to let Javier Pastore score a decisive goal.

Though authoritative at times, the Chelsea midfield was in all sorts of pain throughout the second half after Schurrle's exit. The German was included in the starting eleven as a striker, but spent his hour on the pitch relieved of attacking duties, focused on chasing the PSG back line.

The Parisians scored minutes after he went out for Fernando Torres, and closed it out easily in the end. The Spaniard's cameo may have persuaded Mourinho to line up Samuel Eto'o on Tuesday, a day after the striker came back to training from a thigh injury.

It is difficult to picture an ageing Eto'o (who turned 33 last month) get the upper hand on a peaking Thiago Silva (29), whose careless conceding of a penalty at Parc des Princes was made up for by a faultless performance thourgout the rest of the evening. 

Few observers will have Chelsea coming back from a two-goal deficit with an attack that has repeatedly let Mourinho down in 2014, and facing the first side to score three goals past Petr Cech this calendar year. 

PSG learned to stay cautious against unexpected turnarounds in the domestic league and have it all in their hands. Having scored in all their Champions League games so far this season, they are the favorites to make it to the semi-finals.

Jose Mourinho on the other hand is keen to retain hope, aware that a successful outcome would rank highly both in his side's and his own personal European history

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