Injury puts Bale in doubt for the season
MADRID • Gareth Bale could miss the rest of Real Madrid's season after he was diagnosed with a grade two injury in his left calf.
The forward hobbled off during the LaLiga giants' 2-3 El Clasico loss to Barcelona on Sunday. The club yesterday did not put a time frame on the Welshman's return, but Spanish media widely reported he will be sidelined for a month.
This rules him out of the Champions League semi-final against Atletico Madrid and Real's remaining six LaLiga games.
Cup spot daunting sans Messi: Maradona
BUENOS AIRES • Argentina face an uphill battle to qualify for next year's World Cup Finals without their suspended talisman Lionel Messi for three qualifiers, according to Albiceleste legend Diego Maradona.
Argentina are fifth in the South American standings with four matches left. Only the top four will qualify automatically while the fifth-ranked side will earn a play-off berth.
"With all due respect to the national team, without Messi we are at risk of missing out on qualifying for the World Cup," Maradona told Radio Rivadavia. "I would accept a play-off spot now."
Inter back Pioli, but players to be gated
MILAN • Inter Milan players will be confined to their training ground for the rest of the week after what the club described as an unacceptable Serie A defeat by Fiorentina on Saturday.
The club also backed coach Stefano Pioli who, according to Italian media, offered his resignation after a second-half collapse when Inter conceded four goals in 17 minutes on their way to a 5-4 defeat.
Monchi accepts director's role at Roma
MILAN • Roma are hoping to benefit from "one of the best minds in world football" after appointing former Sevilla goalkeeper Ramon Rodriguez Verdejo, "Monchi", as the club's new sporting director on Monday.
He won nine major honours with the southern Spanish side from 1990 to 1999.
Russian heptathlete to lose Beijing bronze
LAUSANNE • Russian Tatiana Chernova, 29, was stripped of her Beijing Olympics heptathlon bronze medal after failing a doping re-test, the International Olympic Committee said on Monday.