Pepe given all-clear

The Portugal international suffered a clash of heads with his own goalkeeper Iker Casillas in the draw against Valencia on Sunday evening.

The 29-year-old had to be replaced at half-time before being taken to hospital but has now been given the all-clear.

Team doctor Carlos Diez told the club’s official website: “Normally when there’s a head injury, we, as a matter of protocol, have the player under observation for 24 hours.

“We took him to hospital where he underwent the corresponding tests, which have come out negative.

“He has spent the night under observation and everything is fine and we’ve decided, under the control of the Real Madrid medical team, that the player can be discharged from hospital without any problem.”

It is unclear at this point whether Pepe will be fit to play for Real in Thursday night’s Spanish Supercopa first leg against Barcelona at the Nou Camp.

Jose still has English plan

Mourinho has not worked in England since he left Chelsea in 2007 after three years in charge at Stamford Bridge.

Now at the helm of Real Madrid following a stint with Inter Milan, where he won the UEFA Champions League, Mourinho is constantly linked with a return to the Premier League.

“I will go where people really want me and, when that moment arrives, they show me they really want me,” he said.

“But I have to repeat always this: I am at Real Madrid. I like very much to be [there].

“I want one day to be back in English football, yes. I always said that.”

Immerse

Mourinho, widely regarded as one of the greatest managers of all time, also revealed his success was partly down to his ability to immerse himself in a club in the same manner as a supporter.

“When I go to a club, I wear the shirt, I feel the shirt like it’s my first one or my last one,” he told Radio Five Live.

“I feel the fans as part of myself. I create eternal links with fans.

“I go to play against Chelsea and I feel (it), I go to Italy and I feel (it).

“I work for the clubs, I work for the people that trust me, and of course the owners and the directors, but the clubs are the fans.

“For me, it’s one of my qualities. I become immediately one of them and I feel that I am one of them with a privileged position to fight for the club and to try to bring to all of them happiness.”

La Liga round-up

Lionel Messi was the star again, scoring two goals in a convincing 5-1 win over Real Sociedad on Sunday evening, but it was the goalscoring return of David Villa that really delighted the home fans.

The substitute stroked the ball home left-footed to add some gloss to a routine win for new coach Tito Vilanova and mark his own comeback from the broken leg that caused him to miss Euro 2012.

Carles Puyol had given Barca an early lead with a thumping header from a Xavi corner before Gonzalo Castro equalised inside 10 minutes.

Messi added a quickfire double to restore the lead and when Pedro finished off an excellent move to make it four before half-time it was all over bar Villa’s emotional goal late on.

Tougher

It was a tougher night for Jose Mourinho’s defending champions in the Spanish capital as they hosted Valencia.

Led by new coach Mauricio Pellegrino, Los Che proved a tough nut to crack despite Gonzalo Higuain giving Real the lead after 10 minutes.

Jonas equalised with a header just before the break and despite heavy pressure, Valencia held out for a hard-earned point in the Bernabeu.

Indeed, Valencia could have nicked a win if Roberto Soldado’s cool finish had not been wrongfully ruled out for offside in the second half.

Astonishing

But perhaps the game of the day came at the San Mames as Athletic Bilbao were beaten 5-3 by Real Betis in an astonishing encounter.

The Basque side looked out of it at the interval with goals from Ruben Castro, Jorge Molina and Benat giving the visitors a three-goal lead before half-time.

But an Oscar de Marcos goal pulled one back before two Mikel San Jose headers levelled things up and the Athletic fans bayed for more.

And yet, there was a sting in the tail as late goals from Pozuelo and a second from Molina gave Betis a memorable win against Marcelo Bielsa’s side.

Jonas ruins Real opener

Los Che, who finished third last season, were well worthy of a point and should have had three but Roberto Soldado’s second half strike was wrongfully ruled out for offside.

Madrid, who have not made any new signings so far this summer, lined up largely as expected although Lassana Diarra was preferred to Sami Khedira and Higuain chosen ahead of Karim Benzema.

In his first match in charge, former Los Che centre half Mauricio Pellegrino elected to start recently acquired trio Andres Guardado, Joao Pereira and Fernando Gago, with fellow new arrivals, Jonathan Viera and Nelson Valdez on the bench.

The champions made a bright start and after both Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria came close early on, Higuain gave the home side the lead with just 10 minutes on the clock.

A wonderful ball over the top of the Valencia backline from Di Maria found the Argentina striker, who, after being denied twice by goalkeeper Diego Alves, thundered a powerful effort into the top right hand corner from inside the area.

Against the run of play Valencia levelled four minutes before the break when Tino Costa’s wonderfully whipped free-kick from the right was met by Jonas, who headed home.

The Brazilian out-jumped Xabi Alonso, Pepe and Iker Casillas, with the latter two clashing heads.

Both were left dazed by the incident, with Pepe needing a bandage to cover a gash and the Portuguese was replaced at the break by former Valencia defender Raul Albiol.

The home side were let off the hook when early in the second half a through ball inside his own half by Costa found an unmarked Roberto Soldado.

The striker ran through the middle unchallenged before rounding Casillas and sliding the ball in the net only for play to be brought back for offside, although replays showed the 27-year-old was onside when the ball was played.

Substitute Benzema forced a good save from Alves with 10 minutes left, but Valencia were well worth a draw as the home side struggled to create chances.

Lofty ambition

The striker is currently a free agent after leaving Manchester United earlier in the summer and revealed he has had tentative interest from a whole host of club across Europe.

But the 32-year-old told Ben Shephard and Chris Kamara that his preference is to stay in England and prove to everyboy that he can still score at the highest level.

In a candid interview, the frontman also spoke about his stint at Old Trafford as well as his one-season stay at Spanish giants Real Madrid, England’s memorable 5-1 defeat of Germany in 2001 and more…

Owen on his playing future…

“I am eager to start playing again and want to play in the best possible team and more often. I don’t want to go to the Championship as I know I can play in the Premier League and score goals.

“The question mark for potential suitors is injuries but I know that once I get on a good run of games, I will become immune. I have interest from all corners of the Earth – Germany, Spain, Turkey – but my ideal is the Premier League.

“I have been keeping fit so that if a call comes and I need a medical I am ready. I want to tie something up and get going as it was not great seeing the first game go by, but as with a lot of these things a lot of the time it goes to the last week of the transfer window – but I am hoping it happens before then.”

Owen on his time at Manchester United…

“When I heard of Man United’s interest the thing that excited me most was Sir Alex Ferguson; I thought I’d love to hear one of his team talks and see what he is like. I want a future in the game once I’ve retired so being around someone like him and learning from him was an unbelievable experience.

“I also got the chance to play in the Champions League, win medals, and play in a massive stadium with great fans.There are some proper people at that club – the manager, the staff, the fans – and there is an expectancy to win. I didn’t play that much but I don’t regret my decision to go there as I had a great time.

“I thought about the fact I might not be popular in Liverpool, but I’m a professional footballer and you go where is best for your career, so it was Man United and not a team that could be fighting against relegation or was in mid-table. I definitely didn’t go for money as at United I was on a fraction of what I was on at Newcastle, Real Madrid and Liverpool.”

Owen on his Real Madrid experience…

“I didn’t want to leave Liverpool but it was Real Madrid! I thought that if I didn’t go it might be something that I’d regret for the rest of my career, while I left on good terms at Liverpool and thought: ‘If I don’t like it I can always come back to the club I loved playing for’. Even my best mate Jamie Carragher could sympathise with the reasoning.

“I was going to get the chance to play with Zinedine Zidane, Raul, Luis Figo, and Roberto Carlos so I had to give it a go. My family didn’t settle – I think the Premier League caters better for their foreign players than La Liga – and Real weren’t that sad to see me go for £16million to Newcastle, having bought me for £8m. But I had a great time there and really enjoyed it, and I played more games than people gave me credit for and scored a lot of goals.”

Owen on England’s demolition of Germany in 2001…

“We just got the sense that we were clicking from minute one and even when they went 1-0 up I just felt that we were going to beat them. We came in at half-time and looked at each other as if to say: “They are disjointed here and we’re blooming brilliant!’. We were good on the night and it was amazing to beat Germany 5-1- in their own backyard.

“I was an England regular, give or take, for 10 years but when Fabio Capello came in I was in one squad and then never got a look in. He never told me why but that’s fine, everyone’s approach is different. I didn’t think I was owed anything as playing for your country is an unbelievable honour and you should be grateful every time. Just because you’ve played a lot of games that doesn’t mean you should be in the next squad.”

Owen on why he enjoyed such success early in his career…

“People ask me what I was thinking when I scored for England against Argentina [in the 1998 World Cup] or when I was beating players, but I didn’t think about anything; it was normal. That’s strange to say but I knew I was a good player and thought scoring goals was normal. I’d seen Alan Shearer do it and thought I could do the same.

“It’s only when you get older that you analyse it and think: ‘Who am I playing against’ and ‘He’s quite quick’. Before then I didn’t care who I was playing and that’s why all these youngsters do well in sport – you’ve got no fear factor and think you are the best.”

Owen on comparing football to the Olympics…

“I was one of the many people that thought the Olympics was just fantastic; I was glued to the telly every day and became an expert on sports I didn’t even know I liked.

“It was almost inevitable what came out of the Olympics and that straight away it was a negative for football. The Olympic atmosphere was a carnival atmosphere and the whole country was ecstatic to host it, whereas in football it’s different, it’s tribal.

“You are brought up being told things like: ‘You support Everton, you don’t support Liverpool and you don’t even eat red things’. Everybody that follows football is the same so to then expect the stadium atmosphere to be similar to the Olympics? You’re living in dreamland. You cannot compare the Olympics and football.”

Hit the video at the top of the screen for Owen’s take on the injuries that have affected his career and his love of horse racing.

Mourinho waits on Sahin loan

Sahin joined Real from Borussia Dortmund last summer, but the Turkey international struggled to make an impact during his debut season with the Spanish champions.

His prospects for this term again look bleak and the 23-year-old has been strongly linked with a move to the Premier League.

He has already dismissed talk he could join Tottenham Hotspur as part of Real’s bid for Luka Modric, while he is rumoured to be a target for Liverpool.

Arsenal, though, are reported to be favourites to sign Sahin after Arsene Wenger confirmed the midfielder is someone he is following.

With Alex Song set to join Barcelona, Wenger could step up his interest in Sahin after admitting he may make another signing before the transfer window closes.

Mourinho remains prepared to let Sahin head out of the Santiago Bernabeu on a temporary basis, but does not want to ditch him permanently.

“The most important thing is that he is happy,” said Mourinho. “The best for him and for Madrid is that he goes out on loan.

“Madrid don’t want to sell him. He needs to play and to prove himself.”

AVB waiting for Modric sale

The new Spurs boss began his time in charge of the Premier League club with a defeat at Newcastle on Saturday’s first day of the new season.

Modric was missing from the Tottenham side as negotiations continue between the London club’s chairman, Daniel Levy, and Spanish champions Real Madrid over a deal in the region of £30million.

Villas-Boas has made little secret of the fact he wants the money to reinvest in a new striker and that need was highlighted against Newcastle, with Jermain Defoe having to play in a lone role.

And asked after the defeat whether he is ready to sign a striker with the money from the sale of Modric, the former Chelsea manager told ESPN: “We have been very, very active looking for different solutions. For one reason or another, it has not happened so far.

“But we are confident we can close it down in the next couple of days. If that is the case he (Levy) will further strengthen the squad with what we are looking for.”

Negotiations

Modric, who could also be a target of Chelsea, may yet move to Real on Sunday and talks are continuing between the Primera Liga club and Levy.

Asked if the Croatia international will depart this weekend, Villas-Boas said: “Negotiations are ongoing so it could happen.”

Villas-Boas was disappointed by Tottenham’s defeat at St James’ Park, where an excellent Demba Ba strike and a Hatem Ben Arfa penalty sandwiched Defoe’s equaliser.

A poor defensive header by Kyle Walker in the build-up to the Ba goal and sloppy defending from Rafael van der Vaart and Aaron Lennon at the penalty were what cost Spurs.

And Villas-Boas said: “Maybe we could have done slightly better on closing down Demba Ba. He is obviously a top goalscorer.

“On the penalty incident, when a player goes through two players, it is a difficult call for the referee.”

No Real approach for Dembele

The Belgium international enjoyed an excellent campaign in 2011/12 and his agent earlier in August claimed Spanish champions Real had made an approach.

Jol insists that was not the case and has had stern words with Dembele’s representative, Jan de Visser, regarding the issue.

Ahead of Saturday’s Premier League opener against Norwich City at Craven Cottage, the Fulham boss said: “I spoke to his agent and I said to him it’s not the cleverest thing to do, to speak about players.

“There was no offer on the table (from Madrid) and hopefully the situation will stay as it is. Hopefully Dembele will stay here.”

Jol, however, did admit there had been one bid from an anonymous Premier League team for the player.

“There was one low bid from one Premier League club, very low,” Jol said.

“Moussa is quite happy here. He wants to play here and if something happens, we will have to wait.”

Wenger – Song could be sold

The Cameroon international has emerged as a shock target for the Catalan giants, as they look to add steel to a midfield brimming with creative talent.

Song has spent the last seven years with Arsenal, having been plucked from French football in 2005.

He has gone on to make over 200 appearances for the club, including 34 in the Premier League last season.

Wenger is not short on midfield options, though, especially with Abou Diaby and Jack Wilshere closing on a return to full match fitness.

Decisions

Taking that into account, the French tactician concedes that Song will be allowed to move on if a suitable package is put to the Gunners.

Asked whether the midfielder could be sold and new signings brought in, Wenger said: “Both could happen, but my focus is on the Sunderland game (on Saturday).

“Midfield is an area where we have much more freedom to make decisions.”

Real Madrid’s Nuri Sahin is among those reported to be on Wenger’s transfer radar, and the Arsenal boss has confirmed that he may make a move for the Turkey international if he can free up space in his squad.

“He is one of the players we are following,” he said.

No Ronaldo rivalry for Messi

Barcelona host Real Sociedad and Real Madrid tackle Valencia as the Primera Division gets under way this weekend, with the Catalans out to recapture the crown they lost to Madrid last season after three straight titles.

The battle between Messi and Ronaldo to be named the best player on the planet continues as a long-running sideshow but the former insists there is nothing personal in it as far as he is concerned.

“I respect him but I have no relationship with him, as I don’t with a lot of other footballers,” he told Marca.

“I have relationships with my Barcelona club-mates, and with the international squad, Argentinian players who I’ve got to know well over the years.

“There’s never been any kind of anger toward Cristiano.

“It’s all made up by the press who want to believe there’s a constant duel between the two of us, but I don’t compete with Cristiano, nor does he with me.”