Inter Milan sporting director Marco Branca insists Adriano will not leave the club in January. The Brazilian striker, 26, has been out of favour with the Nerazzurri in recent weeks after a run-in with coach Jose Mourinho. But Branca said: "Our transfer market is closed until next summer - and that includes Adriano. I believe he will soon be included in the team." Gianluigi Buffon has heaped praise on fellow Juventus goalkeeper Alex Manninger for helping the Turin giants survive a mini crisis early in the season.
Italy's World Cup-winning stopper Buffon is out until the new year with a muscle injury, but Juve have not missed him with the former Arsenal keeper Manninger helping the team win their last six games to climb to sixth place in Serie A. "I think in the last few games my teammates have proved that I am not indispensable," said Buffon. "It's a fact. Manninger is playing very well and if he continues like this I risk my place in the team."
The former Barcelona coach Sir Bobby Robson is backing Pep Guardiola's side to smash the club record of 102 league goals set by his own team in the 1990s. Barca, who host Benidorm tonight in the Copa del Rey hoping to protect a 1-0 first leg lead, are well on course to top a century of league goals after Saturday's 6-0 mauling of Real Valladolid took their tally to 34 from their opening 10 games.
That is the most prolific start to a season made by any club in La Liga since 1959/60 and the Barca mark of 102 goals set by Robson's side during the 1996/97 campaign is looking under real threat. Robson said: "I hope they better it. For me it would be a great satisfaction. I love Barca and this would confirm that they are doing things very well." Villarreal goalkeeper Sebastian Viera is refusing to concede his side's Copa del Rey dreams will end tonight even though they need to overturn a 5-0 deficit against Segunda Division B outfit Polideportivo Ejido. That shock first leg result a fortnight ago is Villarreal's only competitive defeat in the last seven months.
Viera said "The truth is that I've never experienced a comeback like the one needed, but there is always a first time." * With agencies