Breakfast Briefing: Pep wary but Per bullish ahead of UCL clash
Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola is not taking Arsenal for granted ahead of their UEFA Champions League last-16 clash. The two sides meet on Wednesday in the first leg of an eagerly anticipated clash at the Emirates, but Guardiola is wary of his opponents despite defending champions Bayern's excellent form of late.
Per Mertesacker is keen to take to the field against Bayern, stating that Arsenal need two perfect games to get past Bavarian heavyweights. The towering German defender says that confidence is high in the Arsenal camp, but the Gunners will need to be faultless if they are to have any chance of beating the defending champions.
Sergio Aguero will miss Manchester City's Champions League clash with Barcelona on Tuesday as he continues to recover from a torn hamstring injury, but Fernandinho could make a timely return to action for the first time since January. City manager Manuel Pellegrini is determined to take Barca head on, and the Brazilian international could be a handy addition to his attacking arsenal.
Jose Mourinho is keen to look ahead after Chelsea's 2-0 defeat to Manchester City in the FA Cup. The loss was the Blue's seventh of the season in all competitions, but the Special One is looking forward to the future instead and wants his team to get back to winning ways as quickly as possible.
Hull City fans breathed a sigh of relief as Yannick Sagbo's late leveller earned them an FA Cup replay against Brighton and Hove Albion. The striker was making a rare start in place of first-choice pairing Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic, but proved the hero as he slotted home an 85th minute equaliser to bring the score to 1-1.
Brazilian legend Pele claims that Germany are the biggest threats to the host country's chances of lifting the World Cup this year. The 73-year-old named a list of top contenders for the title, but said Die Mannschaft were the team that worried him the most.
With England manager Roy Hodgson ruling out an international return for John Terry, there appears to be an opportunity for new candidates to step up and fill the void in defence. Asmir Begovic has backed Stoke City captain Ryan Shawcross to force his way into the national setup despite the plethora of other options on offer.
Atletico Madrid midfielder Raul Garcia has signed a contract extension with the La Liga high-flyers, and will now be attached to the club until June 2018. Garcia has played a key role for Diego Simeone's side this season, scoring 15 goals in 33 appearances in all competitions.
Gianluigi Buffon's agent says the goalkeeper is still unsure about his future beyond his existing contract. The Juventus captain has been with the Italian champions since 2001 but is nearing the end of his existing deal which expires in 2015.
More news on the Julian Draxler front, as general manager Horst Heldt reveals Schalke turned down a big bid from Arsenal in January. Heldt believes the young starlet will be staying with the Gelsenkirchen club beyond this season, but the highly touted 20-year-old will surely draw significant interest in a few months.
Schalke's Bundesliga rivals Hamburg have appointed Mirko Slomka as their new coach. Predecessor Bert van Marwijk was sacked following a horrible run of form that saw them lose eight games in a row and Slomka's task will be to revive the struggling club's fortunes.