Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “In reports of the World Cup Final in 2006 we and other media covered an incident when French footballer Zinedine Zidane headbutted Italian defender Marco Materazzi. We incorrectly suggested that Mr Materazzi had goaded Zidane into head-butting him by using vile racist abuse including calling him ‘son of a terrorist whore’. We now accept that Mr Materazzi did not say anything of a racist nature. We apologise to Mr Materazzi for the distress and embarrassment caused by our allegations. We have agreed to pay him substantial damages and his legal costs.” – the Daily Mail.
Runner-up: “My relations with Scolari? I would say they are ‘polite.’ He asks me to wait for my chance, then to play, then to score. I obey him even though I would prefer to play 4-4-2 than 4-3-3. I would like to play with Didier Drogba, but the coach prefers one player up front. I would prefer to play as a No9 and a half.” – Nicolas Anelka.
Today’s overview: We wake up this Tuesday to find another drunk footballer splashed over the backpages, rare criticism of Arsene Wenger, analysis of Stoke’s “Delapatron” and a healthy round-up of stories from the continent.
Following on from the picture above, Alex Peake reports on how “badboy Sunderland star El-Hadji Diouf drank champagne in a trendy bar just hours before his team were thumped 5-0 by Chelsea. The sweaty star was snapped clutching Â£300-a-bottle Cristal and a microphone alongside a pal late last Thursday night.”
Kevin McCarra puts his head in the lion’s den by criticising Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, arguing “it is not enough for Wenger to be disdainful of spending the Â£30m… while he envisages low-budget solutions that obstinately decline to materialise. His principles are becoming obstacles for a club he has led so brilliantly.”
On the flipside, Arsenal’s weekend conquerors Stoke City, have their “Delapotron” reviewed by Glenn Moore, who is quick to point out that “for Stoke’s first goal on Saturday there were only 14 players in the 18-yard box, 10 of them from Arsenal, four from Stoke. This is a point that everyone appears to miss. Stoke do not pack the box.” The Irish Independent go on to link Bolton with a mooted move for Rory Delap in the January sales.
Ahead of tonight’s Roma-Chelsea clash in the Champions League, Matt Hughes reports that the Blues are already looking to the final as they are set “to reserve rooms in the Cavalieri Hilton in Rome for the last week of May.” Keeping with the Blues, Gary Payne writes that Chelsea are set to offer John Obi Mikel a new Â£15million deal being a new five-year contract at Â£60,000-a-week. Ian Wright looks ahead to Liverpool’s match with Atletico Madrid, convinced that the Reds will bounce back from their defeat at Spurs as “this is as good a team from Anfield as I have seen for a very long time.”
In other news, with Brian Barwick on his way out of the FA, Henry Winter believes that his seat can remain vacant since “[Lord Triesman] casts a long shadow and any chief executive coming to work under Triesman risks catching a cold.” Steve Claridge reports on the Championship’s top scorer, Cardiff City striker Ross McCormack, who “is one of the finds of the season.”
On the European front, Raphael Honigstein reviews last weekend’s action from the Bundesliga, Sid Lowe looks at how Pep Guardiola has revived the fortunes of Barcelona, Leander Schaerlaeckens reports on how four pickpocketed victories in a row have seen Ajax’s challenge resuscitated, James Lawton looks at how the Italian media have fallen out of love with Jose Mourinho, Scott Fleming hails Inter’s Maicon as the best full-back in world football, while Paolo Bandini tells Milan-bound Beckham to “pack his thermals” after the Rossoneri went to the top of the table for the first time since 2004.
Lastly, and staying with Goldenballs, Grant Wahl exclusively reports that “SI.com has learned from multiple sources that Beckham’s contract allows him to walk away from the Galaxy after the ’09 season, two years earlier than any previous reports had stated.”