BY DAN KARELL
One of the brightest story lines so far this season has been the play of American midfielder Michael Bradley at AS Roma. In just his first season at the club, the 25-year-old has carved out a near permanent place in the starting lineup, and has earned plaudits from the Romanisti faithful, as well as the coaching staff, for his play, as well as his never-ending motor.
The situation could change though, as Roma boss Zdenek Zeman, who signed Bradley from Chievo Verona this summer, is nearing his managerial exit from the club, according to reports from Italy.
Roma have become one of the better attacking sides in the country under Zeman’s watchful eye, but the defense has suffered greatly, as shown by last Sunday’s 3-3 draw at Bologna. The club, who have just undergone a takeover by American owners, as reportedly not happy with their current position in the Serie A table. Roma currently sit in eighth-place, three points behind a Europa League spot, and a full nine points back from a Champions League place.
According to Italian publication Gazetta Dello Sport, the Roma’s front office could make a decision to sack Zeman by this Friday.
Here are some more stories to get your Wednesday started:
GERRARD IN LINE FOR CONTRACT EXTENSION
Liverpool FC manager Brendan Rodgers has spoken about his hopes for extending Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard’s contract, after heaping praise on the midfielder’s performance in their recent match against Oldham.
The 32-year-old Gerrard’s contract is set to expire in 2014, but although the boss has declared a youth transfer policy for the future, he’d like to keep Gerrard in Liverpool red for the rest of his career.
Talks on a new contract are unlikely to happen until after the season, but Rodgers has communicated strongly with Liverpool’s American owners that he’d love to keep Gerrard around past next season.
Gerrard, now in his 12th season as a professional at Liverpool, has played in all 23 Premier League matches for the club this season, scoring five goals and adding eight assists.
WHO SAYS YOU CAN’T GO HOME
While at a Nike promotional event on Tuesday, Paris Saint-Germain forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic clued the world in on his future plans, saying he’d love a return to Italy in the future before he retires.
Refuting claims that the Premier League is his next destination, the 31-year-old Swede called Italy his “second home”, and has played for Juventus, Inter Milan, and AC Milan in his eight year stay in Italy.
Ibrahimovic has been in sensational form this season, scoring 19 goals in 19 Ligue 1 matches, as well as adding on four assists.
THE WORLD’S EYES FOCUS TONIGHT IN MADRID
Millions of pairs of eyes will be glued to their screens on Wednesday evening, as Real Madrid and Barcelona meet for the first time in 2013, in the first leg of the Copa Del Rey semi-finals.
Despite the fact that Barcelona will be playing with their full compliment of first-team regulars, and Real Madrid won’t, Madrid forward Karim Benzema has called his side the favorites for the match, and expects a win.
Madrid will be without the likes of starting goalkeeper Iker Casillas, as well as starting defensive back pairing Sergio Ramos and Pepe. Cristiano Ronaldo is also one yellow card away from a one-game suspension, meaning if he picks up a yellow card in Wednesday’s match, he won’t be eligible for the second leg next month in Barcelona.
IQUIQUE AND TIGRE ON TO THE NEXT ROUND
In Copa Libertadores action last night, Deportes Iquique defeated Club León in a dramatic penalty kick shootout finish, by a score of 4-2. This came after the second successive 1-1 draw, which led to extra-time football. After no goals were scored in the extra periods, the Chilean’s were able to prevail in penalty kicks.
After a scoreless first half, it was León who got on the scoresheet first, with a 46th minute goal from Colombian forward Yovanny Arrechea. The Mexican side’s lead wouldn’t last long, as Iquique tied the match off the foot of midfielder Rodrigo Diaz.
Centerback Mauricio Zenteno scored the fourth and winning spot kick after extra time, to put Iquique into the Copa Libertadores second stage. They’ll be in Group 4, with Velez Sársfield of Argentina, Peñarol of Uruguay, and Emelec of Ecuador.
Meanwhile, in Venezuela, Club Atlético Tigre defeated Deportivo Anzoátegui by a score of 3-0, to win 5-1 on aggregate and qualify for the second stage of the competition.
The Argentinian side, winners of last years Copa Sudamericana, were dominant throughout, and got goals from midfielder Ruben Botta (7th minute), forward Federico Santander (73rd minute), and forward Ezequiel Maggliolo (87th minute). An 86th minute red card for Anzoátegui didn’t help matters, as they crashed out of the competition.
Tigre will now advance to play in Group B, alongside Sporting Cristal of Peru, Libertad of Paraguay, and Palmeiras of Brazil.
Manchester City may not sign a replacement for Mario Balotelli before the January transfer window closes. (REPORT)
Everton are considering scrapping their signing of Twente midfielder Leroy Fer due to a knee injury issue found in the footballer’s medical examination. (REPORT)
TSG Hoffenheim has signed 29-year-old forward Igor de Camargo on loan from Borussia Mönchengladbach until the end of the season. (REPORT)
Chivas Guadalajara coach Benjamin Galindo has blamed referee Paul Delgadillo’s decisions for his teams 1-1 draw with Morelia last Saturday. (REPORT)
What do you think of these reports? Do you think Bradley will keep his starting spot under a new manager? Do you see Gerrard finishing his career at Liverpool? What are your predictions for tonight’s El Clásico match?
Share your thoughts below.