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Mourinho shrugs off jeers from real fans
Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho brushed off the boos of an angry Bernabeu crowd on Sunday as fans turned on the Portuguese coach for benching goalkeeper Iker Casillas. Real beat Real Sociedad 4-3 but the pressure remained on Mourinho after Barcelona's 4-0 win over Espanyol kept the defending champion 16 points off the pace in La Liga.
Fans are unhappy at his approach and there are rumors of a rift in the dressing room with heavyweights like Casillas (pictured) and Sergio Ramos complaining about his aloof style.
These have been reinforced by his decision to omit club captain Casillas, a world and European champion with Spain, from the past two games which has been seen as an attempt to assert his authority.
"Perfect. Let them whistle me before the match and then support the team as they are doing. I think the whistles are for leaving Casillas out and also because we are not achieving our aims in the championship," said a defiant Mourinho. "There are others who didn't applaud and are not happy with his (Casillas') performances. If I am not doing well it is normal that they whistle and it is something you have to live with. I don't want to be a hero independently of my performances."
Cancer fight not over yet, says barca's Vilanova
Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova (pictured) admitted on Sunday his cancer battle is not over and that he may be forced to once again step away from guiding the team's thrilling pursuit of the La Liga title.
The 44-year-old underwent surgery for a second time on a tumor on a saliva gland on Dec 20. He missed the away win over Valladolid but was back in the Camp Nou dugout on Sunday for the 4-0 derby victory over Espanyol which allowed Barcelona to go 11 points clear of Atletico Madrid and stay 16 in front of bitter rival Real Madrid.
"This is not over yet and there will be days that I can take training and others I can't but I want the media to realize that this illness is mine and it is private, even if I am a public figure," said Vilanova. "I would like to thank everyone for their support. This club has had a lot of knocks in the last couple of years but I always want to take the positive approach. What has happened to me could have happened to anyone."
Pedro Rodriguez hit a double with Xavi Hernandez and Lionel Messi also scoring in a rampant first half as Barca claimed a 17th win in 18 La Liga matches against just one draw.
Cavani follows in Maradona's footsteps
Edinson Cavani (pictured) relaunched his campaign to finish the Serie A's top scorer - and Napoli's first since Diego Maradona - with a hat-trick in an emphatic 4-1 win over Roma on Sunday.
If he succeeds, the Uruguayan will emulate former Napoli hero Maradona, who helped the Partenopei to their two league titles to date and remains the only Napoli player to finish as top scorer in Serie A.
"I'm happy to be taking the match ball home after this hat-trick," Cavani said after the match. "It was a great performance by everyone tonight and helps put our recent poor spell behind us. We've shown that we can be professional and fight for important objectives this season."
Before the winter break Napoli had slipped to fifth place at 10 points behind champion and leader Juventus having kept pace with the Old Lady of Turin for the first 12 weeks of the season.
(China Daily 01/08/2013 page22)