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Football: Bayern and City into Champions League Last 16

Holders Bayern Munich and English side Manchester City became the first teams to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League on Tuesday. Bayern made heavy weather of beating Viktoria Pilsen 1-0 while group rivals City reached the knockout stages for the first time, after flopping in the group stage the last two seasons, with a 5-2 thumping of CSKA Moscow in Manchester.

Football: Vilanova braced for toughest battle

Tito Vilanova's time in charge of Barcelona drew to a close after just 14 months on Friday when the 44-year-old stepped down as coach after suffering a relapse in his brave battle against cancer. Vilanova first had a tumour removed from his throat in November 2011 whilst still working as an assistant to Pep Guardiola at the Spanish giants, but returned to coaching duties in March the following year. He then went on to succeed Guardiola as head coach of the Catalans after the latter decided to step down at the end of the 2011/12 season.

Football: Vilanova to leave Barcelona due to cancer relapse - press

Barcelona have called a news conference for later on Friday amid reports that coach Tito Vilanova is to step down because he has suffered a relapse of cancer. The 44-year-old had a cancerous tumour removed from a salivary gland in his throat in November 2011 and in December 2012 he suffered a relapse and underwent surgery again followed by 10 weeks of chemotherapy and radiotherapy in New York. He returned to the helm of Barcelona in March and led the club to the Spanish league title.

Football: Guardiola lashes out at Barca bosses

Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola whipped up a media storm in Spain on Friday by accusing his former bosses at Barcelona of trying to use coach Tito Vilanova's cancer illness to criticise him. The 42-year-old, who won 14 titles between 2008 and 2012 at Barcelona and took a year off in New York before joining the German side, exposed a deep rift between him and Barca president Sandro Rosell's management team.

Guardiola accuses Rosell: "Barca used Tito's illness against me"

International Sports Desk, Jul 11 (EFE).- Former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola was highly annoyed with Barca president Sandro Rosell's board of directors, which he believes has used "Tito Vilanova's illness" to do him harm, something he will "never" forget. At a press conference in Lago di Garda, Italy, where the Bavarian soccer squad is in pre-game training, the Bayern coach came out against what he considers an endless series of veiled accusations in the media since he left the Barcelona club.

Soccer-Poignant evening ahead for low-profile Barca coach Roura

By Brian Homewood MILAN, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Barcelona's Champions League match at AC Milan on Wednesday will be a poignant affair for interim coach Jordi Roura as he returns to the stadium where he suffered an injury that ultimately forced him to end his career. He leads Barca in the last-16 first leg tie in the absence of Tito Vilanova, who is recovering from throat surgery, just over 23 years after Roura damaged ligaments in his right knee during a Supercup game involving the same two clubs.

Football: Pique aiming for another Barca treble

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique believes his side are well-placed to repeat their treble-winning success of the 2008/09 season come the end of the campaign. The Catalans won the Champions League, Spanish Cup and La Liga titles in Pep Guardiola's first season in charge and Pique thinks Tito Vilanova could do the same after taking over from Guardiola in the summer. "I think we're in a good position to lift all three trophies," he told Fifa.com.

Soccer-Barca wary of Guardiola attempts to poach players away

MADRID, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Barcelona have warned off former coach Pep Guardiola from trying to lure away any of their players when he finally decides which club he is going to coach next season. Guardiola became Barca's most successful coach leading them 14 trophies in four years before stepping down last May to take a year's sabbatical, and there has been a buzz of media speculation in recent days on where he might return to work.

WRAPUP 1-Soccer-Messi sweeps to fourth successive award

By Brian Homewood ZURICH, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Lionel Messi, still only 25, was named the world's best player for the fourth time in a row on Monday after a year in which finally produced his best form for Argentina as well as Barcelona. Messi was handed the FIFA Ballon D'Or award after a typically cheesy ceremony which featured a performance from a giant dancing armadillo named Fuleco, the mascot for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

UPDATE 1-Soccer-Messi wins Player of the Year for fourth time

By Brian Homewood ZURICH, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Argentina's Lionel Messi, still only 25, was named the world's best player for an unprecedented fourth year running on Monday. The award, officially known as the FIFA Ballon d'Or, came after the Barcelona player scored a remarkable 91 goals in 2012, a record for a calendar year.
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