Bad boy Barton not so bad
Joey Barton is not the bad boy he is portrayed as by the media, his Olympique de Marseille coach and teammates said on Friday ahead of the Englishman’s Ligue 1 debut against Lille today. Barton joined the club on loan from Queens Park Rangers, but had to serve a 12-match suspension that was extended to the French league. “Really looking forward to making my league debut for Marseille on Sunday,” Barton wrote on his Twitter account. “Feel fitter and stronger than ever before. Cannot wait to pay back the fans and the club for showing me love during this turbulent period.” The 30-year-old was suspended by the English FA after being sent off for violent conduct in QPR’s final Premier League match of last season against Manchester City. He was dismissed for elbowing Carlos Tevez and then kicked Sergio Aguero. He also appeared to try to headbutt City captain Vincent Kompany. “It’s an image that crossed the Channel and that he carries with him,” Marseille boss Elie Baup told reporters on Friday. “He is a player with a character.” Teammate Nicolas Nkoulou heaped praise on Barton, who has only played five Europa League games this season. “He is a very different guy compared to the image that has been pinned to him,” the Cameroon defender said. “On and off the pitch, the image of the guy who throws punches and does absolute nonsense is completely false.”
Sociedad miss out
Real Sociedad squandered a chance to continue their climb up the Spanish league after being held to a 0-0 home draw by struggling CA Osasuna on Friday. After two consecutive wins, Sociedad failed to take their chances at the Anoeta stadium. Carlos Vela came closest for the hosts in the ninth minute when the Sociedad forward met an in-swinging cross from Carlos Martinez only for goalkeeper Andres Fernandez to turn the ball round the post. “We had our chances but also the bad luck that the ball didn’t go in today,” Sociedad forward Antoine Griezmann said. Sociedad stayed in ninth place while Osasuna remained in the relegation zone.
‘Les Verts’ go top
AS Saint-Etienne went top of Ligue 1 on Friday when substitute Romain Hamouma grabbed a second-half goal to secure a 1-0 win over Valenciennes. Les Verts have 25 points, the same as previous leaders Lyon, but have played two games more and lead on goal difference. Lyon, who play Toulouse today, will face Saint-Etienne in two weeks’ time. Hamouma came on as a 63rd-minute substitute for Ivory Coast star Max-Alain Gradel and found the target 10 minutes later with the only goal of the game which stretched his team’s undefeated run to nine games.
Espanyol star accuses refs
RCD Espanyol’s Ghanaian midfielder Mubarak Wakaso has accused Spanish referees of booking him because of the color of his skin. “Sometimes, I don’t think it should be a card. They just give the card, excuse me to say this, because of the color of the person,” the 22-year-old international told a news conference on Friday. “Referees don’t give you the chance to talk to them on the pitch. They respect some players, but not others.” Wakaso, a combative central midfielder, has picked up eight yellow cards and one red in 10 La Liga matches this season, and his team have the worst disciplinary record in the league.