Of course, a 2-2 draw with Real Sociedad doesn’t really constitute a crisis, but it certainly wasn’t the greatest of weekends for Barcelona. Having dropped points, they also lost new signing Alexis Sanchez to injury for up to two months, and even Lionel Messi’s halo didn’t sit quite so snugly after he was adjudged to have dived in an attempt to win a penalty.
Here’s the Messi incident. There does appear to be slight contact, but probably not enough to send the most balanced footballer on the planet crashing to the ground.
The new Barcelona
Manchester City have begun the season brightly and along with rivals Manchester United, share the only 100 per cent records in the Premier League. Indeed, there four-match unbeaten run and the sparkling nature of some of their football, has even seen them likened to Barcelona.
Sergio Aguero, who continued his impressive start at City by scoring a hat-trick against Wigan on Saturday, was quick to dismiss the comparisons with the European champions.
The Argentinian told The Sun: “Barcelona are a team that have played together for a lot of years in the same style and they have great players, but we also have good players with ability on the ball.
“We move it quickly and that’s vital, but we’re not thinking about Barcelona.”
We have a new contender in the 2011 Sepp Blatter Insultathon. Competition is fierce this year, with Mohammed Bin Hammam currently leading the way with his “dictator” jibe, but former FIFA vice president Chung Mong-joon has raised the stakes by calling Blatter a “little brat”.
Chung had been regarded as a candidate to succeed Blatter before being defeated in an Asian election for the FIFA vice-presidency early this year.
“President Blatter is fluent in five languages, has a good way with words and is intelligent … but I think he is not an international gentleman and he is like a little brat,” Chung said in his memoir, My Challenge, My Enthusiasm.
For many clubs, playing in Europe is to be relished, a reward for an arduous but ultimately successful season. Not for Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp though, who regards this season’s Europa League campaign as an onerous distraction from the serious business of attaining mid-table respectability in the Premier League.
Speaking ahead of Spurs trip to Greece to play PAOK Salonika, Redknapp said: “The problem I’ve got on Thursday is I can’t really take this lot who’ve played at Wolves. It is a nuisance. There won’t be too many of these going to Greece.”
“They’ve played two internationals and I’ve got to take them out to Greece for Thursday, come back Friday and play Liverpool on Sunday. I want to save them for Sunday.”
Goal of the day
Maya Yoshida produced a spectacular overhead kick in VVV-Venlo’s 3-3 draw with PSV.
Congratulations to Russia who defeated reigning champions Brazil in the final of the Beach Soccer World Cup.
Dmitry Shishin, who scored three goals in the 12-8 win (yes, that’s twelve-eight), praised his side’s approach.
If you’ve got an hour or two spare, here’s the 20 goals from last night’s final.
Asamoah Gyan has defended his move to UAE side Al-Ain, claiming he had little choice in the matter once Sunderland had accepted a loan payment for the Ghana striker.
According to reports, the Premier League outfit will receive a not insignificant £6million for loaning Gyan for a 12-month period.
“The offer was too good to refuse. But I did not have a choice once Sunderland accepted Al-Ain’s proposal. I am now looking forward to playing in the UAE,” the forward told Sky Sports.
Earlier, Sunderland boss Steve Bruce had been quite forthright in his criticsm of Gyan’s advisers.
“All the parasites, as I call them, hover around. People are in his ear constantly trying to engineer a deal for him,” he said.
Bruce once had an injunction taken out against him by Crystal Palace, after he tendered his resignation just three months into the season in order to return to Birmingham City as manager. He joined Palace after being in charge of Wigan for two months. No doubt the parasites were to blame.
Taking the blame
The Serie A season finally kicked off on Friday with the big winners being Juventus who recorded a 4-1 opening day win over newly-promoted Parma.
The big shock of the opening weekend was Inter’s 4-3 defeat to Palermo. In a rare moment of contrition from a professional football, Inter keeper Julio Cesar believes the loss was his fault after he failed to stop a Fabrizio Miccoli free-kick.
The score was 2-2 when Bruno Miccoli curled one past Cesar.
“I am really angry with myself. We were playing great, but then after Miccoli’s goal I was really angry,” the distraught keeper old Sky Sport Italia.
Looking at the striker I think the keeper is being a little harsh on himself. This was a free-kick that was well within the unstoppable range.
As the sport speeds up, yet David Beckham slows down, it continues to be a source of some surprise that the former England captain remains in demand on the football pitch.
The former England captain, who is approaching the end of his contract with MLS has been offered a new deal by his club, LA Galaxy, while QPR have adopted a maverick approach by offering him “love, care and attention”
“Environment, love, care and attention – we can offer that to him. I’m not sure it’s for him, and I’m not sure it will fit him in January. Who knows? But I’m an ideas man, and he is an idea,” said QPR owner Tony Fernandes, who was clearly having a bit of a David Brent moment when asked about Beckham.
In the wake of their failure to lure Jose Mourinho, Anzhi Makhackala have reportedly targeted Fabio Capello.
Capello claims that England will be his final job in football, and fans of the team will attest that his retirement can’t come a moment too soon, but the prospect of a huge pension boost could tempt the Italian to prolong his career.
Anyone who has followed the movements of of Sven Goran Eriksson in recent years, can confirm that far from being the pinnacle of a coaching career, the England job is now merely a stepping stone to further riches. Don’t be surprised to see Capello being up for one more challenge.