NOW SEASON, SAME STORY
Apparently, a 3-0 cut by Bayern was an improvement for Barcelona. The last time they faced the German champions in the Big Cup, they played an acid trip in football form and lost 8-2, allowing their own £ 100m. Plays to rub bratwurst into the wounds with two late targets against them. But at least back then, there had been a touch of excitement and a small expectation figure. Fast forward a little over a year and Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez, Antoine Griezmann and All Hope have left them. They had five shots on goal last year in Lisbon. Tuesday night they had none. At home.
“That’s what it is and we are what we are,” Gerard Piqué sniffed after the match. These are the kind of defeatist comments we’ll probably mumble later when the man asks, “Is that so?” And the severity of the Catalans’ decline was revealed when fans, previously hypnotized by Pepball’s rhythmic ending, treated their magnificent old stadium like a Spanish branch in Clowntown and cheered for every touch as a giant beach ball was buzzed around the stands. Oh Ronald! Oh Barça!
Remember, history shows that the little Argentine escape may not have made the big difference to the events. The last two Big Cup results at home were equally appalling: a 4-1 shellacking of Messi’s new employers and a 3-0 pumping of Juventus. No Messi, no problem. Barça are still open to European wedgies, folks. With the club of 1.35 billion. Euro in debt, immersed in a crisis and led by a manager whom Everton chose to replace with David Unsworth — and then Sam Allardyce! – It seems that the Camp Nou beach ball may get more than a few excursions.
So maybe the “Koeman Out” banner that was briefly seen before hard-handed managers stole it away. And expect videos of Joan Laporta calling for patience to become one ordinary thing, also. The only bright spot for Barcelona was that when the match ended, a collection of spotted teenagers jumped off the bench and did a far better job of competing with Bayern than their older teammates, who proved to be just as useful as overgrown Weebles. If Barça can stop more cash-rich European clubs — such as Leicester stealing them away, Gavi, Yusuf Demir, Nicolás González Iglesias and Pedri could form the basis of a brilliant new Barcelona team. Meanwhile, you can expect shouts of “Muchachos, es Barça!” when teams come to town.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY
“The second goal goes down the side of Josh Coulson and it is an unforgivable goal. But should I stand here and slag the players? No ”- after a 3-2 defeat at home to Aldershot, who had previously won, left them 16th in the National League, Southend boss Phil Brown is late pulling a rabbit out of his hat.
The latest Football Weekly podcast has dropped.
– If Young Boys manager David Wagner decides to play his slightly older players in the return match at Old Trafford, Manchester United will have big problems. In the meantime, I’m really looking forward to them winning the Big Cup and then playing Newell’s Old Boys in the Club World Cup final ”- Adrian Brodkin.
May I, as a lifetime, evertonically make a high objection to ‘The Ev’ (yesterday’s fives)? I mean, I know Fehmarn has a limited vocabulary, but are three syllables really too harsh? Although I’m looking forward to your new (and appropriate) diminutive for the Gunners … ”- Nick Shimmin.
“In a moment of weakness, I signed up for The Fiver today, as my subscription had somehow dropped a few years ago, and I had only just noticed this. With a misplaced sense of suspense, I read through the latest edition only to find a missive from Noble Francis in the letters section. Have I really missed anything in the last few years? Plus actually a change ”- Ross McLaren.
Send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our invaluable letter of the day is… Adrian Brodkin.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
More than 96 female soccer players and their family members have fled across the border into Afghanistan with the help of the Pakistan Football Federation.
Jordan Henderson has paid tribute to Milan and Denmark’s Simon Kjær before their visit to the Big Cup at Anfield. “He set new standards for leadership [Not] Euro 2020, when Christian Eriksen became ill. I can not even begin to imagine what that experience was like for the Danish players, and I am extremely relieved that Christian continues to recover, but as captain I could not help but be impressed by the way Simon behaved on and led his team … I hope Simon also knows that he has respect and admiration for everyone in football for what he did that night. ”
Leeds’ appeal against the red card shown to Pascal Struijk on Sunday has failed. “Sorry for this Pascal,” said, somewhat confusingly, the man at the receiving end of the challenge, Liverpool’s Harvey Elliott. “I think that’s wrong.”
Absolutely non-misleading sports director Leonardo reckons Kylian Mbappé is at PSG to stay. “I do not think anyone here sees the future without him,” he said. “I do not see Kylian leaving at the end of this season. Mbappé’s relationship with PSG is deep. ”
USA! USA !! USA !!! The Football Association has announced that it has offered identical contract proposals to the players’ associations on the men’s and women’s national teams.
And Walter Mazzarri has signed a three-year deal to take over as Cagliari coach, all the excuse we need to come up with one of the all-important flagships.
DO YOU STILL WANT MORE?
“Solskjær sought to direct the spotlight on the 32-year-old referee for not having punished Ronaldo early in the second half. When it comes to people being promoted to important football roles with only the most insignificant experience, it’s probably best to expose his judgment ”- Jonathan Liew in fine form about Manchester United’s W @ nkdorf problems.
Tommy T channels Bucks Fizz and their 1981 Eurovision-winning smash hit Making Your Mind Up? In a way. Jacob Steinberg explains everything after their Big Cup victory over Zenit.
Do you remember Hernán Crespo’s lavish second strike against Liverpool in the final of the 2005 Big Cup? Emmet Gates does.
The longest spell a player has had in solitary confinement before scoring? Knowledge has the answer.
Landon Donovan continues his chat with Cesar Hernandez.
John Stones was inside. Looks. So in. Now he’s out again. What happens then, Ben McAleer considers.
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