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FOOTBALL

Klinsmann insists Bayern must build on Fiorentina win

Bayern Munich took a large step towards the last sixteen of the Champions League with a 3-0 home win over Fiorentina on Tuesday night and coach Jürgen Klinsmann says they must now build on the victory.

Klinsmann insists Bayern must build on Fiorentina win
Klinsi thinks things are going in the right direction. Photo: DPA

Germany striker Miroslav Klose put Bayern ahead after four minutes then midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger scored a spectacular net-buster on 25 minutes before Brazilian Ze Roberto made it 3-0 on 90 minutes.

The three points meant Bayern top Group F with seven points, from second-placed Lyon on five, and puts the German giants in pole-position to reach the first knock-out phase, while Fiorentina are third in the table.

“The victory was very, very important and gives us lift, but we must build on this,” said a relieved Klinsmann. “We knew Fiorentina are a very strong, attacking team and had their chances to score a goal or two. We have to consistently reach that level and we hope we will just get better and better. I never doubted we would get to this level.”

But Bayern rode their luck against a spirited Fiorentina side as Azzurri forward Alberto Gilardino squandered two golden opportunities just after the break. And having picked up their first league win in four games last weekend, Bayern again showed they are weak in defence as goalkeeper Michael Rensing looked anything but secure on occasion.

“You can see again the Bayern defence is susceptible,” said Bayern president Franz Beckenbauer.

Bayern were still impressive in the first half as Bastian Schweinsteiger capitalised on a mistake in the Fiorentina defence to hit a fantastic long-range strike.

“It doesn’t get much better than that,” admitted an impressed Beckenbauer.

But with Romania striker Adrian Mutu and Azzurri hot-shot Gilardino in their ranks, Fiorentina failed to find the net despite 23 shots on goal – compared to Bayern’s 15 – which disappointed Gilardino.

“It is a disappointing result, Bayern were very strong in the first 25 minutes, but we wasted too many chances in front of goal which is disappointing,” said Gilardino. “This isn’t where we want to be in the table, but we still have to prove ourselves.”

With three games left for both teams there is still all to play for in the return leg on November 5 when the two sides meet at Fiorentina’s Artemio Franchi stadium.

FOOTBALL

Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.

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