Casillas: We do not know yet how serious injury is

Iker Casillas hopes to return to full match fitness as soon as possible after picking up a thumb injury in Real Madrid’s 1-1 Copa del Rey draw against Valencia on Wednesday, but remains in the dark over the seriousness of the knock for now.

The experienced goalkeeper was forced to leave the pitch after 17 minutes of play, and will undergo further examination on Thursday to determine the exact extent of the injury.

“I immediately knew something was wrong. I’m in a bit of pain. The doctor doesn’t want to make any hasty judgements,” Casillas was quoted as saying on the official Madrid website.

“He’s seen something he doesn’t like and we’ll have to wait to analyse it in greater detail. We are going to perform the relevant tests to see the seriousness of the injury. I hope my injury is not serious.

“Because it’s a finger we have to analyse it properly. Let’s hope the results are positive but it’s the doctor who gives the orders. When I tried to close my fist I felt that it hurt.

“It’s just the thumb and the fact that it has nothing to do with the wrist is good. I will try to be fit again as soon as possible.”

Madrid progressed to the semi-final of the Copa following Wednesday’s draw thanks to a 2-0 first-leg win last week.

Real Madrid & Barcelona continue to dominate football rich list as Manchester City enter top 10

  • Real Madrid crowned as world’s richest club for eighth year in a row
  • Top-six placings remain unchanged
  • Clubs from five different countries in top 20
  • Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund & Napoli climb most places – five
  • EPL has most representatives
  • Italy continue to struggle
  • Combined revenues grow 10 per cent

Real Madrid and Barcelona once more dominate football’s rich list as the Spanish duo are still miles ahead of their rivals from England, Germany, Italy and France. According to the 2012 Deloitte Football Money League, published on Thursday, the Liga giants remain the only clubs with annual revenue over €450 million.

Real Madrid top the Football Money League for the eighth year in succession, thus equalling Manchester United’s dominance in the top position during the first eight years of the Money League, and became the first club in any sport to surpass the €500m revenue threshold in a single year. 

“It is an impressive achievement for Real Madrid to have surpassed €500m in revenue in a single year. Real have led the way in the phenomenal rate of revenue growth achieved by the game’s top clubs,” Dan Jones, Partner in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte said.

However, the reigning Spanish champions are being chased hard by arch-rivals Barcelona, whose growth in 2011-12 leaves them only €17m short of the €500m mark. Even though the Catalans couldn’t quite match their on-pitch success from 2010-11, the club enjoyed €32.3m (seven per cent) revenue growth. 

United’s failure to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League in 2011-12 meant they were unable to prevent a Spanish one-two for the fourth successive year, but Sir Alex Ferguson’s side remain the proud number three in the rankings.

For the fifth successive year, the clubs comprising the top six places in the Money League remain the same. 

“An unchanged top six emphasises the fact that these clubs have some of the largest fanbases and hence strongest revenues, in both domestic and international markets,” Jones commented.

The Money League top 20 again comprises clubs from the ‘big five’ European leagues, seven of which come from the English Premier League, while Italy have five teams in the top 20, and Germany four. Spain and France, meanwhile, have to settle for two representatives each.

“It’s always interesting to see the disparity between the top two in Spain and the rest of the league. There are no other Spanish clubs in the top 20. A key change that would improve the overall state of finances in Spanish football would be a collective broadcast deal. It sounds like the Spanish government have put collective payments on the agenda on that level which, if it happens, can only help with the competitiveness of the division,” Mark Roberts, Senior Consultant within the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, stated.

The top 10 consists of teams from only four leagues, as Ligue 1 sides Olympique de Marseille and Olympique Lyonnais sit only 16th and 17th respectively.

Manchester City (seventh) are this year’s joint highest climbers, along with Borussia Dortmund (11th) and Napoli (15th), moving up five places and claiming a top 10 position for the first time.

“City’s Premier League title winning season combined with participation in the Champions League, helped drive 51% revenue growth to €285.6m, the largest absolute and relative growth of any Money League club,” Austin Houlihan, Senior Manager in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, said.

As pointed out before, the English Premier League has the most representatives, and this situation seems unlikely to change any time soon.

“The Premier League still has the most representatives in the top 20 of the list. Clubs will get another €20-30m from the new broadcasting deal so in the future there will be more English clubs challenging for those positions. The most there has been in the list is eight but I think we could be seeing as much of half of the list represented by the Premier League,” Roberts pointed out.

Italy’s future on the other hand seems far less rosy as their facilities generally don’t match their reputation.

“The poor financial performance of Italian clubs goes back to their matchday revenues. Juventus have benefitted from their new stadium, which increased their matchday income by about €20m. For the Milan clubs and the Rome clubs, the stadia is a limiting factor on their revenue generation. They simply don’t have the facilities and don’t get the gates to compete with matchday incomes in other countries. Italy has gone to collective selling of broadcasting and that is a positive start in improving that,” said Roberts.

The combined revenues of the world’s 20 highest earning football clubs have grown 10% on the previous year to reach €4.8bn in 2011-12.

“The combined revenues of the top 20 clubs have quadrupled since we began our analysis in 1996-97,” Jones explained.    

“Whilst eight of the top 20 clubs experienced a drop in revenue in 2011-12, in most cases this was due to less successful on-pitch performances in European club competitions, rather than wider recessionary impacts. 

“Combined, the 20 Money League clubs contribute over one-quarter of the total revenues of the European football market.  The top 20 can be expected to generate over €5bn between them in 2012-13.”

Commenting on the impact of Uefa’s financial fair play break-even requirement, Paul Rawnsley, a Director in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte said:

“Whilst the Money League covers clubs’ revenue performance, there is an increasing focus within European football on clubs achieving more sustainable levels of expenditure relative to revenues, particularly given Uefa’s financial fair play break-even requirement.    

“Disciplined and responsible governance structures and financial management within European football, whilst providing the platform for investment in facilities and youth development, should only be encouraged.”

All revenue figures in the Money League report are based on the 2011-12 season or the most recent available calendar year.

It focuses on each club’s revenues from day to day football operations, including matchday ticket and corporate hospitality sales, broadcast rights revenues including distributions from participation in European club competitions, sponsorship, merchandising, and other commercial operations, but excluding transfer income.

Valencia 1-1 Real Madrid (Agg 1-3): Blancos finish wth nine men but ensure progression to last four

Nine-man Real Madrid qualified for the semi-finals of the Copa Del Rey after a 1-1 draw with Valencia in the second-leg of their quarter final tie at the Mestalla.

Jose Mourinho’s men progressed 3-1 on aggregate, and recorded their third undefeated game over Los Che in eight days, adding to their 5-0 Liga triumph over the weekend, and the 2-0 first leg win at the Bernabeu.

A tight first-half saw Madrid lose Iker Casillas to a freak injury, but a goal by Karim Benzema moments before the interval put the visitors in sight of the next round, and left Valencia needing four goals to recover.

Fabio Coentrao’s 51st minute red card and a free-kick from Tino Costa gave the hosts a glimmer of hope, but despite controlling the second half and a late dismissal for Angel Di Maria, they could not muster a response as los Blancos held on to advance to a last four tie against either Malaga or Barcelona.

Benzema was the only change from the side that started the match at the Mestalla on Sunday, the French international replacing Gonaalo Higuain as the visitors’ lone forward.

Though Valencia started brightly, it was Madrid who threatened first, with Ronaldo forcing a save at the near post from Guaita after latching on to Xabi Alonso’s precise through ball.

However, the capital outfit were handed a blow with 17 minutes gone, as Casillas was forced off for Antonio Adan after a bizzare incident where he was accidentally kicked on the hand by Alvaro Arbeloa.

And the Madrid reserve keeper was soon called into action to stop a bullet header from Haedo Valdez, who had risen highest to meet Andres Guardado’s free kick.

Adan would thwart the Paraguayan forward once more shortly after the half hour mark, this time blocking him from point blank range after the Valencia man had found space to shoot inside the six yard area.

Madrid found themselves on the ropes somewhat, and attempted to wrest control of the game back from the hosts when Di Maria brought an acrobatic save out of Guaita with a testing drive from 25 yards out.

And on the stroke of first-half injury time, los Blancos put the tie virtually out of reach when a quick throw saw Alonso tee up Benzema, who lost Ricardo Costa and slotted home a vital away goal.

But Valencia were given a little reason to hope six minutes into the second half when Coentrao was shown his second yellow card for a handball. The Portuguese’s infraction was doubly damaging, as Costa was able to steer the resulting free-kick under Adan to make it 4-1.

The gameplan from both sides was simple after that, as Valencia, still needing three goals, continued to press forward, while Madrid, mindful of their numerical disadvantage, adopted a defensive approach for the remainder of the game.

And though los Che managed to force almost every one of the opposition players behind the ball, their monopolization of possession could not break down the visitors, who had abandoned almost all of their interest in attacking.

Di Maria was sent off with minutes to go for a petulant kick-out on Joao Pereira, but it came too late to aid Valencia, as Madrid held on for qualification, and now await a potential Clasico semi-final, should Barcelona get past Malaga on Thursday.

BREAKING NEWS: Casillas withdrawn injured in Valencia clash

Real Madrid captain Iker Casillas has been forced off in the Copa del Rey clash with Valencia after suffering a hand injury.The Spain international was accidentally kicked by Alvaro Arbeloa in a goal-mouth scramble following a corner, and immediately took off his glove before sitting on his haunches in apparent pain.

Despite receiving treatment on the pitch and clearly wishing to keep playing, the shot-stopper was forced to leave the field, with Antonio Adan coming on to replace him.It is a bitter blow for the 31-year-old, who had recently regained his place in the first team after being dropped in favour of Adan shortly before the winter break in Spain.

The injury could also jeopardise his chances of being available for the up-coming Champions League clash with Manchester United.

Mourinho relishing clash with 'fantastic' Sir Alex Ferguson in Champions League

Jose Mourinho is relishing the chance to lock horns with the “fantastic” Sir Alex Ferguson when Real Madrid face Manchester United in the Champions League.

The Red Devils travel to Santiago Bernabeu on February 13 for the first leg of the two sides’ last-16 clash as the Portuguese and veteran managers meet for the 15th time.

Mourinho has bettered Sir Alex on seven occasions, losing just twice, but he has never won a Champions League tie at Old Trafford – and the Los Blancos boss is targeting a record 10th triumph in the tournament for the club after admitting retaining their La Liga crown is “impossible”.

“The 10th Champions League is a target. But be aware that other teams may well win. We should work a lot for this, and especially this season because we are distanced in the league,” Mourinho told RMC.

“Manchester United’s clash is fantastic. I prefer that. Ferguson is a fantastic example. He comes to see my team and I do the same.”

Mourinho has often spoken of his want of return in the Premier League following his sacking as Chelsea boss in 2007, and has again reiterated this desire.

However, the 49-year-old did admit that he was close to taking charge of England in 2008, but his commitment to Portugal saw him back away from the opportunity.

He continued: “One day, I want to return to England. I spent only three and a half years and I want to go back. But this is not a priority. Today, I just think about tomorrow’s game and that’s life for all coaches.

“I would like to coach the national team of Portugal and many people expect it there. I hope know this experience and play a World Cup or Euro.

“In 2008, I was ready to take the English team. But for me, it was Portugal that I want, even if you never say never. But England is my first love and it will remain so.”