Barcelona boss Martino targets Guardiola's trophy haul

Barcelona will make it 21 games without defeat if they claim a positive result against Ajax on Tuesday, but their Argentine coach is solely driven by winning silverware

Gerardo Martino says he is more interested in matching Pep Guardiola’s trophy haul at Barcelona than the Spaniard’s record of unbeaten games.

The Blaugrana will equal a club-record run of 21 games without defeat should they secure a positive result against Ajax in Tuesday’s Champions League clash in Amsterdam.

However, as far as Martino is concerned, the only thing that matters is silverware.

“I would prefer to equal the mark of six trophies with Barcelona [in 2009]. The [unbeaten] record doesn’t mean anything,” the Argentine coach told a press conference on Monda.

“It’s not easy for me to make a comparison because I only saw the old Barca on TV. We must keep winning as we have done so far and continue the excellence this club has had.”

Midfielder Xavi is in line to make his return to action on Tuesday but Martino admitted he is eager to get all his top players fit again, including Lionel Messi.

“For us to continue at a high level of beauty we need everyone, not only Xavi. We need Jordi [Alba], Messi, everyone,” the former Newell’s Old Boys boss confessed.

“We lost the best player in the world with Leo’s injury, which always makes things difficult. But with the richness of the Barcelona squad and the players who are able to play [on Tuesday], we’re in a position to win.”

Martino went on to pay tribute to Ajax, praising the impact of Dutch football on the history of Barcelona.

“I have always considered Ajax as a great team who know what they need to do on the pitch,” he enthused.

“They are technically skilled and they know how to play. I know that we are going to face a difficult opponent and I am convinced that they can come second in the group.

“When I walk through the halls I see the photos of the people who are responsible for the style of Barcelona. Many Dutch players, and also Ajax players, have certainly been very important for the style of Barcelona.

“If I have learned anything from my coaches, it’s that the next game is the most important. The next game is the one that gives you confidence or gets you into trouble.

“Our intention is to win, no matter what match Barcelona plays in, if it is at home, away, against whatever opponent, Barcelona always plays to win. We want to play beautiful football; we are committed to that.

“We do not want just to win, but we will continue work to win every match with beautiful football.”

Thiago delighted with Bayern Munich return

The Spaniard made his comeback against Borussia Dortmund on Saturday to set up Arjen Robben’s goal and admitted he was grateful to have featured in the “incredible” game

Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara admits he was delighted to have returned to action against Borussia Dortmund on Saturday after a lengthy lay-off.

The 22-year-old had been out of action since August with ankle ligament damage but came off the bench to set up Arjen Robben’s goal in the 3-0 win at Signal Iduna Park.

“I missed playing the game and having the ball in the two months off the pitch. Now I am very happy – we have won where it is hardest to do so. We’re proud of this,” he told TZ.

Thiago’s cross-field pass released Robben to secure the points for Pep Guardiola’s side on Saturday with a sublime chipped finish and the Spaniard confessed there was an element of fortune about his hurried assist.

“I only saw one player [Robben] in red. It all happened so fast. Then I saw it was Arjen and knew what was happening. Arjen has a very great quality,” he said.

Thiago went on to state his gratitude to have been able to play in such a highly-anticipated encounter, insisting the experience rivalled that of playing for Barcelona against Real Madrid.

“It is not better or worse than El Clasico, it’s just different. The atmoshpere here is incredible, I’m just very glad I was able to play here.

“Now we have to think of Bayer Leverkusen, since we also have to play them, not just Dortmund.”

Guardiola frustrated by Bayern leak, says Rummenigge

The Spanish coach is not amused with the recent leaking of team information to the media and is ready to take action against individuals involved

Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has stressed that the player who has been leaking information about FCB’s line-ups and tactical plans to the press may find himself in serious trouble with head coach Pep Guardiola.

German broadsheet Bild have been spot on with their predicted line-ups for Bayern in the past few months and also revealed Guardiola’s tactical plan for the game against Borussia Dortmund prior to the game, much to the dismay of the former Barcelona coach.

Guardiola has allegedly threatened his squad that the player responsible for the leaking will be booted from the team and will never play again under him and Rummenigge has now confirmed that Bayern are not amused with the situation.

“This is obviously frustrating for Guardiola. The coach has limited public access to training for a reason. This cannot be happening. Nobody likes this,” Rummenigge told Sky90.

“We will not approach the National Security Agency (NSA) to sort this, but I can only advise the person responsible for this to quit it or he will be in big trouble and not just with Guardiola.”

Regardless of the leak to Bild, Bayern have been in superb form this season and top the Bundesliga table with 35 points from 13 games.

Champions Club: Fernandinho exclusive, are Arsenal the real deal? What's happened to AC Milan?

VIDEO: Our Champions League show returns for the penultimate round of the group stages, as we preview this week’s major games from Europe’s premier club competition

Welcome back to the Champions Club, as Nat Coombs brings you up to speed ahead of this week’s Champions League matches!

We speak to international football writer Kris Voakes to find out what’s going wrong at AC Milan, what they need to do to silence a formidable Celtic Park crowd, before we get the player’s perspective from stars past and present.

Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho tells us about life under Manuel Pellegrini and the club’s chances this season, and hear Ian Wright wax lyrical on the impact Mesut Ozil has made at the Emirates Stadium. But are Arsenal serious Champions League contenders?

Watch the video, and be sure to join the debate on Twitter by using the hashtag #ChampionsClub for another week of Champions League action!

Bundesliga Team of the Week: Robben stars for Bayern

The Dutchman makes Goal’s best XI after scoring as his side claimed a 3-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund in Germany’s top flight

All eyes were on the Signal Iduna Park this weekend as Bayern Munich struck a decisive blow in the Bundesliga title race, beating Borussia Dortmund 3-0, but there were performances from all over Germany worthy of inclusion in Goal‘s Team of the Week.

Marwin Hitz takes the No.1 jersey after leading Augsburg to a 2-0 win over Hoffenheim in Bavaria.

His goal is protected by back four of Freiburg’s Oliver Sorg, key in the 1-0 victory over Eintracht Braunschweig, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Dortmund’s only senior defender on Saturday, Bayern star Dante and Gladbach’s Tony Jantscke, one of the best on the park as Lucien Favre’s side secured a rare win at Stuttgart.

Arjen Robben scored Bayern’s second goal, Hakan Calhanoglu was on target for Hamburg against Hannover, Gelson Fernandes netted the winner for Freiburg and Patrick Herrmann was another of Gladbach’s stars at the Mercedes Benz Arena.

There are four goals amongst the strikers, with Joselu‘s double helping to secure a point for Frankfurt against Schalke and Shinji Okazaki scoring two of his own as Mainz secured a thrilling 3-2 away win against Werder Bremen.