Baleful looks

Gareth Bale, who caused controversy by withdrawing from the Team GB Olympic team citing injury, shortly before appearing for Spurs in a pre-season friendly match, has described Liverpool’s Charlie Adam as ‘a bit of a coward’ for a bad tackle which left the Tottenham winger on crutches.

Adam injured Bale with a challenge during the 0-0 draw between the two sides during a friendly match in Baltimore. As to why two English clubs are facing each other in a pointless exhibition match in the United States, just a couple of weeks before the season starts, is something we’ll have to leave for another day.

“He’s a bit of a coward,” said the Welsh winger. “What he did was over the top. Some people are like that and it’s just wrong. It’s flattering when players try to take you out in a game but, when it threatens your career, it becomes more serious than that.”

The strongest reaction to the challenge came from Bale’s Tottenham team-mate, Kyle Walker, who spoke candidly, and a little hysterically, about the challenge.

“It’s simple. He [Adam] is jealous as Gareth is such a good player,” said Walker. “It just keeps coming up that he doesn’t really like him. Gareth is a very good player. He needs protection. Players shouldn’t hate him but appreciate playing against a player like him. They can actually learn from him rather kick him.”

This isn’t the first time the pair have clashed. Just over a year ago, the Scotland international, then playing for Blackpool, injured Bale in a tackle, causing ankle ligament damage which meant the Wales international was out for three months.

“There are pictures on the internet of what he did before when he snapped all my ankle ligaments,” added Bale. “I was out for three months that time. He’s come for me twice now – and he’s got me twice.

“When someone makes a very bad tackle on you, you expect an apology. I’ve had no apology. And I’m not going to accept his apology.”

Here’s yesterday’s tackle.

And here’s the one from 2011.

Neither looks good. One does wonder whether there’s something personal between the pair of them.

Press gang

Reaction to Spain’s shock Olympic exit has been swift and savage in the Spanish press, with the behaviour of the players called into question after an ill-tempered 1-0 defeat to Honduras.

That loss, coming on the back of the 1-0 defeat to Japan in the opening game, meant that the pre-tournament favourites were left with plenty of time to do some sightseeing in London.

El Mundo, rather melodramatically, declared “a return to the dark ages” on Monday.

“Spain said goodbye to the Games with a dismal cocktail,” Marca wrote, complaining of “bad luck, bad refereeing and a terrible image at the final whistle as a result of the build-up of tension during the match.”

Spain did have a strong appeal for a penalty waved away by Venezuelan referee Juan Soto. and that decision, combined with a growing frustration among the players, resulted in ugly scenes at half time and full time of yesterday’s match.

Spain players clashed with their opponents in the tunnel and by the end of the game, 7 players had been booked by the harassed official.

El Pais daily said the Olympic team’s performance in London, and the players’ behaviour towards the match officials, had damaged the image of Spanish football.

“Football has never gone well with the Olympics, but with the football brand that currently sets the country apart it was the right time to return the sport to the summit it scaled in 1992,” the paper wrote, a reference to the gold medal triumph at the Barcelona Games.

“But it not only fell off a cliff, it did so verging on the ridiculous against opponents of little pedigree like Japan and Honduras. A total failure.”

Writing in As, columnist Alfredo Relano compared Spain’s performance to previous failures and touched upon the fleeting, ethereal nature of sporting success.

“It was a step backwards, a trip down the time tunnel that reminds us that everything wasn’t always so great,” he wrote.

“That we have experienced exceptional times and we have to be prepared for when they come to an end.”

Goal of the day

The atmosphere within the stadiums may be muted, the patchwork nature of the team may be evident, but there are occasional signs that the fledgling Great Britain Olympic side is beginning to gel into a team. The highlight of their tournament so far was Daniel Sturridge’s neat finish for the 3rd goal in the 3-1 win over UAE.

Quote of the day

“We now have alternatives for Mario Gomez. This is a prerequisite for success. He is good – but not very good. 


Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness gives a less-than-ringing endorsement to striker Mario Gomez.

Fair Play?

Say what you like about the Bayern Munich hierarchy, but they’re certainly not afraid to speak their minds.

Club president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has been busy condemning Paris Saint Germain, saying that the salary they are paying new signing Zlatan Ibrahimović is “sick”.

“Last year Manchester City recorded a loss of €200 million (£156 million/$246 million) and Chelsea €80 million (£63 million/$98 million) – despite the Financial Fair Play rules,” Rummenigge told Bild.

“What is happening at Paris St Germain, I find that incomprehensible.

“When you see the salary of Ibrahimović [pictured top], with €14.5 million (£12 million/$18 million) a year, that makes me sick.”

Dropping the hint

Real Madrid captain Iker Casillas gave a big nudge to his employers by suggesting that Tottenham midfielder Luka Modric would fit in perfectly well at the Bernabeu.

The Spanish champions have been trying to sign Modric all summer, but Spurs refuse to budge on their valuation of the plaeyr and at present an impasse has been reached.

“I know him,” the Spain goalkeeper told AS. “He has been a great player ever since he signed for Tottenham. I faced him in the Euros and he had a very good season.

“If the manager thinks he ought to be then I am sure he will be at the level of this squad. It is not our responsibility to say anything more.

“The club and the manager are those that decide what is best for the team to move a step forward.”

In what looks to be a long drawn game of poker, Madrid are reported to be have switched their attention away from Modric to Benfica midfielder Axel Witsel. Whether this is a bluff on their part, intended to elicit a softening in Tottenham’s stance over Modric, remains to be seen.

Second rate

Roma striker Pablo Osvaldo has hit out at the Premier League, branding the standard of football ‘second-rate.’

The Argentine-born Italian, who spent two seasons in Spain with Espanyol before returning to Italy, has hit back at suggestions that Serie A is in decline. It should be noted that Osvaldo has never actually played in England.

“Once the Premier League was the most beautiful in the world,” the 26-year-old told Gazzetta dello Sport.

“But I think now the football has become second-rate.

“It’s more fun to play in Italy where every game is a fight, rather than a tournament where the first few teams get an easy 30 points.”

Indeed, as we saw last season when English Premier League champions Manchester City suffered just five defeats, while in the ultra-competitive, nail biting Serie A, Juventus fought their way to the scudetto without losing a match. Oh, hang on a second.

Osvaldo did speak wisely about the steps Italy needed to take to combat football hooliganism.

“We (Italian football) need to go hard on the ultra violent, like they have in England,” he added. “Football is the greatest sport in the world and it is absurd that a few people can ruin it.”


One Italian footballer who might be glad to see the back of England is Liverpool’s Alberto Aquilani who, acording to some reports, is on his way to Fiorentina.

That seems to be the consensus in England, although reports emanating from Italy and in particular from his agent, suggest that no deal has been agreed.

The Italian was signed by Rafa Benitez in 2009 for £20 million from Roma but has been back in Italy on loan for the last two seasons.

He spent 2010/11 at Juventus and then last season at Milan so played just twice for former Reds’ manager Roy Hodgson and not at all for Kenny Dalglish.

Aquilani’s agent has made it clear that his client wants to stay at Anfield and regain his place. There’ll certainly be no shaortage of familiar faces at Liverpool should he stay. Not least among the club’s medical staff who gave the playmaker the nickname ‘Nemo’ in recognition of all the time the he spent immersed in the club’s hydrotherapy pool.

“Let us not open up a soap opera, please,” agent Franco Zavaglia told Radio Sportiva.

“Aquilani is a Liverpool player and he is happy where he is now. We have not received any requests from Daniele Prade, but that was only to be expected, seeing as Aquilani will only leave on a permanent move and at figures Fiorentina cannot afford.”

On reason why Aquilani might be keen to stay is his reputed £125,000 salary a week. Yes, that’s right. On a five-year deal too. No wonder the club’s former owners were happy to wave goodbye to Benitez.

Sucker punch

FIFA is to examine footage showing US women’s international, Abby Wambach, being punched in the face by Colombia’s Lady Andrade, during the Olympic encounter between the two countries.

Wambach was left nursing a bruised eye and when quizzed afterwards about the incident, admitted that she was pleased to have not lost her temper.

“Absolutely. It’s interesting – you think about yourself and what you would do on the street if somebody were to sucker-punch you,” Wambach said.

“And you have all of the lists of things that you would probably do to retaliate, but this is Olympics and I can’t risk getting a red card, I can’t risk getting a yellow card.

“We like to call it ‘ice’ – stay ice cold. They’re trying to get me to retaliate, and I’m proud of myself for not doing that.”

Unsurprisingly, Andrade saw the incident differently.

“Nothing happened,” she said through an interpreter.

“It was just a normal part of the game. We were both running, she ran across me and we collided. I had my hands in the air. It was an accident.”

Told that Wambach wants Andrade disciplined, the Colombian said: “I think they should be, too, because they’re the United States. The whistle always goes in their favor. They were hitting us and hitting us, but there was never a whistle.”

Here’s the clash, so you can make your own minds up.

Olympic spirit?

A Swiss player could be expelled from the Olympics for allegedly sending a racist message on Twitter. Swiss media report that Michel Morganella posted an offensive message about South Korean people after the Swiss team lost 2-1 to South Korea on Sunday.For Vollmer, record and redemption

The offending message read: “I want to beat up all South Koreans! Bunch of mentally handicapped retards! (“Je les tous Defonce Coréens, allez vous tous Bruler, bande de trisos”)

After publicly apologising on Twitter for his original comment, the defender has since had his account suspended.

Morganella, a 23-year-old defender, would become the second Olympic athlete kicked out of the games for offensive Twitter comments. Greece threwout triple jumper Voula Papachristou last week after a comment mocking African immigrants.