Ancelotti, Blanc assess injury concerns

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has played down the leg problem which forced Cristiano Ronaldo off towards the end of their UEFA Champions League win over Borussia Dortmund, saying it was just a niggle.

Ronaldo was substituted in the 80th minute of the 3-0 quarter-final first-leg victory at the Bernabeu after receiving treatment on the pitch for what looked like a problem with his left knee. However, Ancelotti does not think it is anything serious, saying after the match: “He was bothered a bit by his knee, we needed to defend and to avoid any risks, we’ve substituted him. It’s not a problem. He isn’t injured.”

Ancelotti did say, though, that they would not take any chances with the Portuguese international, adding: “We’ll see how it goes. At this moment we’re not concerned by the niggle.

“If it continues, naturally we’ll rest him but we’re not thinking about that because the player is calm. There’s not a problem at the moment.”

Ronaldo has been in prolific goalscoring form again for Madrid this season, and was on the mark against Dortmund to earn himself a place in the record books. His neat finish to put Madrid 3-0 up saw him equal the record of 14 goals in a single European Cup season shared by Lionel Messi and Jose Altafini.

Blanc discusses Ibra injury

Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc said he was concerned after top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic came off injured in Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Chelsea.

The Swede had to be substituted midway through the second half of PSG’s 3-1 quarter-final first-leg victory at the Parc des Princes after appearing to hurt his right thigh while playing a pass to Christophe Jallet in midfield.

“It’s a muscular problem. He will see the doctor tomorrow (Thursday),” confirmed Blanc, who immediately decided to replace the striker with Brazilian winger Lucas. “He wanted to continue but I thought honestly that it wasn’t reasonable. I hope he comes back as soon as possible because we need him.”

Ibrahimovic, who has scored a club record-breaking 40 goals in all competitions this season, including ten in the Champions League, faces a race against time to be fit for the second leg at Stamford Bridge next Tuesday.

Barcelona transfer ban: Fifa issues 14-month sanction

Barcelona have been given a 14-month transfer ban for breaking rules on signing international players under 18.

The Catalan club cannot buy players until the summer of 2015 after the world governing body, Fifa, imposed a transfer ban for the next two windows.

The Spanish champions have also been fined 450,000 Swiss Francs (£305,000) and have confirmed they will appeal.

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has been sanctioned by Fifa for the same breaches.

Barcelona, who will still be allowed to sell players, are hoping to sign a new goalkeeper at the end of the season, with the long-serving Victor Valdes leaving the Nou Camp at the end of his contract.

The four-time European champions have been linked with Borussia Monchengladbach keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, while they agreed a deal to sign 17-year-old Croatia midfielder Alen Halilovic last week.

Any appeal against the ban must be lodged within three days and is not likely to be heard until April.

“FCB will present the corresponding appeal to Fifa and if necessary will submit the resulting resolution to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS),” said a statement on the club’s official website.

Should the case reach CAS it would raise the possibility that the club could still sign players this summer if the ban is not imposed until a

final decision is made.

The RFEF has been given a fine of 500,000 Swiss Francs (£340,000) and told to “regularise its regulatory framework and existing system concerning the international transfer of minors in football” within a year.

Fifa rules state that international transfers are only permitted for players over the age of 18 – unless the player in question meets one of three qualifying criteria.

Under-18s can move to a club in a different country if their parents move there for non-footballing reasons, if they are from another nation within the European Union or European Economic Area and aged between 16 and 18, or if they live within 100km of the club.

A Fifa investigation – centred on several players aged under 18 who were registered and played for the club between 2009 and 2013 – found that Barcelona and the RFEF were guilty of a “serious” infringement of the rules in relation to 10 players.

Fifa told BBC Sport the identity of these players was confidential.

Its disciplinary committee said it sought to protect the best interests of young players, even if an international transfer might be beneficial to their football careers.

“On the basis of this analysis, the committee concluded that ‘the interest in protecting the appropriate and healthy development of a minor as a whole must prevail over purely sporting interests’,” said a Fifa statement.

It is the latest off-the-field issue to trouble Barcelona this season.

Earlier this year, the Catalan club were accused by the Spanish authorities of tax evasion relating to the £50m purchase of Brazil forward Neymar. A criminal investigation is under way, despite Barca making a “voluntary contribution” of more than £11m in taxes.

The club’s president Sandro Rosell resigned after he was accused of misappropriating funds in the deal.

Rosell and his successor Josep Maria Bartomeu insist the 22-time Spanish champions have not acted illegally.