Breakfast Briefing: Juventus win, Tottenham crash in Europa League first legs
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There were wins for Juventus, Fiorentina and Valencia in the UEFA Europa League last-32 fixtures overnight, but the match between Napoli and Swansea ended in a 0-0 deadlock while Ajax were trounced at home by Salzburg. There were 1-0 scorelines all around as Lazio were shocked by Bulgarian side Ludogorets, Tottenham tasted defeat at Dnipro while last season's runners-up Benfica returned home with a slim advantage over PAOK.
Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood was taking the positives from a disappointing trip to Ukraine, as his team inexplicably missed a gilt-edged chance to take control of the tie early when Roberto Soldado missed from four yards.
Arsenal forward Lukasz Podolski has come out in support of teammate Mesut Ozil, after the German playmaker came in for criticism following Arsenal's 2-0 UEFA Champions League defeat at home to Bayern Munich. Ozil saw a weak spot kick saved by Manuel Neuer early in the match, but Podolski said picking him out as a scapegoat was unfair.
Inter Milan president Erick Thohir claims a deal for outgoing Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidic is '90 per cent' done, with a move to the San Siro seemingly nearing a conclusion. United captain Vidic had announced his plans to leave the club in the summer as he is out of contract with the Red Devils.
Newcastle United defender Mathieu Debuchy might also be eyeing a move away from the club, as he refused to rule out a move to Paris Saint-Germain. The Magpies recently lost star player Yohan Cabaye to PSG, and it appears his French teammate Debuchy could be interested in joining him in Paris.
Steven Gerrard has praised Raheem Stirling in the press, admitting he avoids going up against his young teammate in training. The Liverpool captain talked up Stirling's ability, and said he believed there was still tremendous potential in the England prospect.
There was support for embattled David Moyes from an unlikely source, as Crystal Palace manager Tony Pulis was quoted attributing Manchester United's poor recent form to pure bad luck. United travel to Selhurst Park on Saturday, looking for their first win in four games, but Pulis believes it is only a matter of time before the Red Devils find their feet again.
Not as courteous was Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets, as he blasted defeated opponents Manchester City. City manager Manuel Pellegrini had been outspoken following their 2-0 defeat, criticising referee Jonas Eriksson for favouring Barcelona but Busquets has fired back by stating that "excuses are for losers".
UEFA have announced that they will be investigating Pellegrini's comments though, with a decision to be taken on whether disciplinary proceedings will be opened in the near future.
Striker Mario Balotelli is set to be sidelined for around 10 days, AC Milan has announced. The Italy international was withdrawn 12 minutes from time as Milan lost 1-0 to Atletico Madrid and the Serie A club say tests have confirmed he has suffered a shoulder injury.
More injury news as there are some bad tidings for Stoke City fans. Club officials have confirmed that Liverpool loanee Oussama Assaidi had injured knee ligaments during a recent warm-weather training camp in Dubai. The Moroccan is expected to be out of action for an indefinite amount of time.
Shay Given and Stephen Ireland will not return to the Republic of Ireland squad to face Serbia despite holding talks with boss Martin O'Neill. Given retired from international football in 2012, while Ireland has not played since he controversially withdrew from the squad to face the Czech Republic in 2007.