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Spotlight on Bale, yet again

sports Updated: Nov 02, 2010 01:45 IST

Barcelona's quest to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League received encouragement when playmaker Xavi said he would be close to 100% fitness for trip to FC Copenhagen. The Spain international featured in only the last 20 minutes of Barca's 2-0 win over Copenhagen at the Nou Camp last month, and has been suffering from Achilles tendon trouble.

But the 30-year-old said, "I felt almost 100 percent again. It's not the same as before, which was unbearable. I am optimistic I'll be able to carry on taking part in each match but the pain will dictate." A win in the Danish capital for Barcelona, the 2009 winners and Group D leaders, would give them 10 points from four matches and put them in a strong position to qualify for the knockout round.

Focus on bale as Inter eye progress

London: Having seen a 4-0 lead cut back to to a 4-3 win by 10-man Tottenham Hotspur two weeks ago, holders Inter Milan will aim to return with renewed respect for the London side's attacking threat.

Group A leaders Inter have seven points from three matches and can seal qualification with two games to spare with victory. However, a draw would probably be an acceptable result for them against second-placed Spurs (four points) with a home game against Twente next up.

One thing Inter coach Rafael Benitez will have been working on is how to stop Gareth Bale after the Spurs wide man scored a marauding hattrick to almost bring his side level despite playing most of the match with 10 men after the sending off of goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes.

His threat should not have come as a surprise as Benitez had seen plenty of the Welshman when in charge of Liverpool while the Italians have long had him on their shopping list of potential buys.

"Bale played a great game," Inter president Massimo Moratti said after his stunning treble. "In the past we have tracked him but now he's worth an awful lot more. We were a bit shocked by that Tottenham comeback."

Bayern's Olic out for six months

Berlin: Bayern Munich striker Ivica Olic is set to undergo knee surgery that will sideline the Croatian international for six months, the club said on Monday. "Naturally I am very disappointed," said Olic, who last season scored 19 goals in 41 games in all competitions.

"I expected to continue the good run of last season and had high hopes this season," he said.

Bayern said Olic would fly to the USA where he would likely have surgery on his left knee this week. Olic suffered meniscus damage playing for Croatia in August. His absence over the next six months is another huge blow to Bayern who are already without long-time injured wingers Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, as well as key striker Miroslav Klose.

Ferdinand to miss trip to Turkey

Manchester: Defender Rio Ferdinand will miss Manchester United's match at Bursaspor, the Premier League club said.

United gave no reason for the centreback's absence. He played in the 2-0 win over Tottenham on Saturday. "Ferdinand... will not feature in Tuesday's clash with the Turkish champions," a statement said, after the team checked in at Manchester Airport without him. "That may pave the way for Chris Smalling to make his third European appearance of the season."