Patrice Evra back in the French fold
France coach Didier Deschamps has chosen Patrice Evra in a 24-man squad to face Ukraine in their World Cup play-off.
Evra’s inclusion follows his clearance to play by the French federation, after he called former internationals Luis Fernandez and Bixente Lizarazu “bums” in a TV interview last month.
“I do not know what Lizarazu has against me,” the Manchester United defender said. “I was twice voted best left-back in the world, four times the best left-back in the Premier League. Him, I don’t even know if he was ever voted best left-back in the world.
“I recall my first call-up to the national side, all the others shook my hand apart from him. Thierry Henry said to him, ‘Oh Liza, here is the opposition.’ And Lizarazu looked at me and said, ‘Why? Someone told you that I was already retired?’.
“People have a good impression of me, it won’t be these tramps who dirty my image. They must stop lying to the French people.”
Nonetheless, Deschamps a former World Cup winner alongside Lizarazu, defended his decision to select Evra.
“He was eligible so I decided to pick him,” Deschamps told a news conference.
“I and the players are focused on a very important meeting for us. You can write whatever you want. Internally we are focused on sport.”
Quizzed on the matter by reporters, an irritable Deschamps added: “I choose on sporting criteria. You can write whatever you want.”
Which perhaps goes to show that to Evra is human, but to forgive is Deschamps.
Ronaldo backs protests, provided they are peaceful
Ronaldo, a member of Brazil’s World Cup organising committee, insists the 2014 FIFA World Cup will benefit Brazil but sympathises with those who have been protesting against the expense of staging the finals.
Soccerex, a major football convention scheduled to take place in Rio de Janeiro in late November, was cancelled, reportedly because of safety fears.
It comes after the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup in June was overshadowed by protests, with fears there will be a repeat at the World Cup next year.
“I’m fighting for something that we are building. It is very easy for someone to be the opposition, trying to destroy from your house without believing in a project, not believing in anything and just trying to destroy it,” Ronaldo said.
“I am not doing it for myself. I am a volunteer for the World Cup, I am not earning any cents from the committee or FIFA. I am doing it because I believe in my country and in my people.
“And I believe this is a great thing for our country, a great growth opportunity for our country. So I’ll keep acting the same way, believing in my country, believing in the Brazilian people and I really hope to have an improvement in living conditions.
“I agree with all types of protest without violence, the Brazilians are so tired of the neglect that had for many years and now we are waiting for answer by government. I am doing my part, which is to have a Brazil better even if it is through sports.”
Roberto Martinez mocks Andre Villas-Boas
Everton boss Roberto Martinez is one of the more eloquent Premier League managers and the Spaniard displayed a modicum of wit when he was asked whether his striker, Romelu Lukaku, should have apologised to Spurs’ keeper, Hugo Loris, after the pair collided during Sunday’s goalless stalemate.
Tottenham manager Andre Villas Boas suggested that Lukaku had been at fault for the clash, and was disappointed the Everton man had not been in touch with the goalkeeper.
“I want to believe that Lukaku’s leg was not left late to clash into Hugo’s head,” said Villas-Boas. “I find it remarkable that nobody has actually found out if he could have avoided the goalkeeper and I am disappointed that Lukaku hasn’t contacted Hugo.
“I don’t question Lukaku’s integrity,” he added, before going on to question Lukaku’s integrity. “But I think he could have jumped over perfectly.”
Martinez responded by drawing attention to Tottenham striker Roberto Soldado, who threw an elbow into the chest of Jagielka and was perhaps fortunate not to be shown a red card.
“Obviously we are waiting for Roberto Soldado to apologise to Phil Jagielka, and so we can use the same phone call so we don’t have to spend on two phone calls,” joked Martinez.
“The good thing is you can watch the replay and see the video evidence. All Romelu is doing is carrying on his run, he cannot disappear. It is unfortunate.”
Here’s the Soldado elbow.
And here’s the collision between Lukaku and the unfortunate Lloris.
Goal of the Day
Striving hard not to use the term Dutch pass masters when describing this tiki-taka-style goal by Lasse Schøne for Ajax against Celtic.
Quote of the Day
“I don’t want to lie. He’s not injured. He forgot the time. Let’s end the story. He’s a kid, kids make mistakes and fathers they have to be clever in the way they educate their sons. He didn’t play, he wanted to play. He’s sad because he wanted to play. We won without him and Saturday he’s back. End of story.”
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho demonstrates his paternal side when explaining why Eden Hazard, who missed a crucial training session on Monday, was dropped for Wednesday’s game against Schalke.
Court upholds ban on Lyon supporters
An order banning Lyon supporters from attending Sunday’s derby with Saint-Etienne has been upheld.
Lyon’s court for administrative issues threw out a joint appeal made by the club and the Kop Virage Nord supporters’ association, confirming the decision of the Loire department authorities to prevent fans travelling to the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard. That initial decision had itself already been supported by the Ministry of the Interior last weekend.
Lyon’s fight against the decision, which was made in light of violent incidents at last season’s derby in Lyon, will continue.
Club president Jean-Michel Aulas has asked the State Council, which has the final say over administrative cases in France, to overturn the Ministry of the Interior’s decision.
Aulas will travel to Paris in person on Friday in an attempt to sway the State Council, which will announce its judgement at the end of the week.
Zlatan meets his match when it comes to playground insults
Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was up to his old tricks again during Tuesday night’s Champions League match against Anderlecht.
The Swede scored the equaliser for the home team but Anderlecht defender Sacha Kljestan preferred to talk about the remarks he made during the game.
“After a perfectly normal challenge, Ibra turned to me and provoked me, making a joke about my moustache, saying: ‘That really is terrible,'” Kljestan told Het Nieuwsblad.
“I responded by saying that he should think about his nose.”
Ibrahimovic has form for trying to wind up opponents during a match. In October of last year he was branded “arrogant, dirty and childish” by a player for the Faroe Islands.
“He elbowed me just before the interval and when we left the pitch for half-time I asked him what he was doing,” Faroe Islands captain Frodi Benjaminsen said.
“Just when we got inside he grabbed hold of me … He was belittling our team and me. What he said was not nice. He talked about where he is playing and how much he is earning. It was so childish.”
Sounds very much like Zlatan.
Dortmund fans visibly deflated as Arsenal score
It was all going so well for these Borussia Dortmund fans, until Aaron Ramsey popped up to score for Arsenal against the run of play.