The pain in Spain

Reaction in the Spanish press to Real Madrid’s Champions League penalty shootout defeat to Bayern Munich has been sympathetic and measured, with most commentators insisting that the Spanish side can leave the competition with their heads held high. Especially, if they’re hoping to catch a glimpse Sergio Ramos’ missed spot kick before it enters the stratosphere.

“Thus ended the adventure of Real Madrid in this Champions League, with absolute dignity, with the same merits of Bayern,” said AS’s Juanma Trueba.

His colleague, Alfredo Relano, highlighted the fact that Bayern have become something of a bogey team for Real.

“And it had all started so well,” he said. “All out attack and two quick goals. Then the withdrawal, too prudent in search of a quick exit and a 3-0 lead. Then came the relentless security that Bayern possess. Finally, it was Bayern. Them again.”

Bayern’s hold over Madrid over was picked up by Marca’s Santiago Siguero.

“Bayern Munich will be there at the end,” he said. “They earned that right in the penalty shootout, after an intense game. 120 minutes of high tension ending from the spot. Madrid fell again in the semi-finals against a rival whose football hierarchy is undeniable, but whose greatest merit was, primarily, psychological.”

Alcazar Alexander, of the Barcelona-based (and it has to be said, Barcelona-biased) newspaper Sport, was quick to seize upon the implications of the loss to both coach Florentino Perez, and everyone’s favourite pantomime villain, Real coach Jose Mourinho.

“The great dream of Florentino Perez, who has not spared any expense with Real Madrid, has suffered elimination to Bayern Munich,” he said. “The club has Jose Mourinho, who holds absolute power. But the Portuguese coach is much more than the coach. He controls all aspects of the club, from signings to nutrition, to health services. This is undoubtedly a severe blow to Perez in his roadmap to get to the final.”

Bayern could scarcely believe the performance with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who twice won the European Cup as a player with Bayern, saying it eclipsed those achievements.

“I have not witnessed something like that in 40 years of professional football,” he said.

“This tops everything we experienced in the 70s and 80s. I am very happy and very proud. That was top quality football.”

Quote of the day

“They know nothing about character and personality. They know nothing about the effort or what it is to resist physically, emotionally and technically, with 10 men. They know nothing about organisation. They know nothing. That’s why my heroes at Chelsea are in my mind and why Chelsea deserve to be in the final.”

Speaking after seeing his Real Madrid side saw their Champions League dream crumble, coach Jose Mourinho reveals that he still has a soft spot for former club Chelsea.

Situations vacant

Two years ago, in the wake of England’s dismal World Cup showing in South Africa, then-coach Fabio Capello confirmed that he would retire when his contract with England expired, to “enjoy my life as a pensioner.”

Now word reaches us that Capello hopes to land a job in the Premier League and insists he has no intention of retiring.

Capello walked out on the England job in February over the John Terry captaincy row and is believed to have received offers from China, the Middle East and Russia.

Displaying an enthusiasm for coaching conspicuous by its absence during his England tenure, the Italian is keen to return to work.

“I want to be a coach for another two years,” he said.

“I love London. I’d prefer to coach in the Premier League. I would only return to Italy for something really tasty.”

Given his coaching pedigree there should be no shortage of offers for Capello from ambitious English clubs. Who knows, if the money is right, perhaps he might even bother to learn the language this time.

Legal advice

QPR’s Anton Ferdinand has reportedly sough legal advice ahead over whether he should shake hands with Chelsea’s John Terry ahead of Saturday’s Premier League encounter.

The pair will face each other for the first time in the league since Terry was charged with racially abusing the QPR centre-back in the reverse fixture last October. The two clubs were drawn to meet each other in the FA Cup in January, but the pre-match handshake was cancelled amid fears that Terry would be snubbed by Ferdinand. Now the QPR man is concerned that a failure to shake hands would prejudice the former England captain’s trial, which is due to take place on 9 July.

It is understood that QPR boss Hughes will speak to his players on Friday and announce whether they will snub Terry’s handshake at tomorrow afternoon’s pre-match press conference, following the meeting with his players at the club’s training ground.

If John Terry was the ‘type of player’ to feign injury, then Saturday’s game might be a timely occasion to aggravate that knee complaint that plagued him earlier in the season.

Panel beaters

Rangers manager Ally McCoist says he is disgusted by threats made against the Scottish FA panel that handed out punishments to the club.

McCoist is skating on thin ice here as it was only 24 hours ago that he complained about the punishment ‘killing’ the club and demanding to know the identity of the panel members. Ask and ye shall receive: especially in the incestuous world of Scottish football. So, it came as no surprise when details of the three-man panel were leaked online, and equally unsurprising, before long threats toward the trio were being made.

The police are investigating the matter and to his credit, McCoist has moved swiftly to stress that he was calling for transparency of the process, rather than lynching of the panel members.

McCoist said that while he wanted “full transparency” over the decision to punish Rangers he would “not for one moment want anyone to interpret my remarks as a signal to engage in any form of threatening behaviour”.

“Such activity disgusts me and anyone who engages in it does Rangers Football Club nothing but harm,” he said.

“No Rangers supporter should get themselves involved in it – not now nor at any time.”

Let’s hope his call will be heeded.

Goal of the day

Marek Hamisk kept Napoli’s hopes of Champions League qualification alive when he scored an unstoppable half volley from the edge of the area in his side’s 2-0 win at Lecce.

* We are aware that embedding footage is currently working erratically, so just click on the black bar and the video will open in a new window.

Fenerbahce drop appeal

Fenerbahce have dropped a court case against UEFA and the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) over their exclusion from this season’s Champions League due to a match-fixing investigation, the club said on Thursday.

UEFA barred the Turkish champions from the competition because of their alleged involvement in the match-fixing scandal with the club’s chairman among 93 defendants awaiting trial for their involvement.

They lodged an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport for the €45 million they say they were owed in lost revenue, but on Thursday they said they had “renounced” the case without providing any further explanation.

Regal Chivas

John van‘t Schip is quitting his post at A-League outfit, Melbourne Heart, to become coach of Mexican side C.D Guadalajara.

The former Dutch international was selected by his mentor and club advisor, Johan Cruyff, to lead the Central American outfit.

“It’s something that I was looking for. I wanted something new, a new challenge and try to get back into a big football environment, which could be in Europe, but also could have been anywhere else,” van‘t Schip said.

“Chivas is the biggest club in Mexico, and I was really honoured to be appointed. I had some good talks, and decided to sign up and go over to the Mexican league.”

As one would expect with a club being advised by Cruyff, there is only one way to play: the Johan Cruyff way.

“The model Johan has is not even the Ajax model, it’s the model Johan believes in,” van‘t Schip confirmed.

“It’s a philosophy of how to train, how to develop players, not only on the pitch, but off the pitch, to teach them the values of life and of course on the pitch, the way of playing where Barcelona is the best example.

“I think that’s the way he has always thought, how to play, how to dominate, playing a lot of possession games but also developing the individual player.”

The template for the new-look Chivas appears to be La Masia, Barcelona’s now-fabled youth academy, the source of much of their recent success. There is a temptation to mock the reverence with which Barcelona and in particular, La Masia, are now regarded, but lest we forget, they won the Champions League in 2009 with eight home grown players.

Retirement age

It may possess the agility of a supertanker, when it comes to implementing reform of its institutions, but FIFA is slowly showing signs that it wishes to move its organisation into the 21st century.

FIFA’s annual Congress is to be presented with a proposal limiting mandates for its president and officials and barring election for anyone over the age of 72, according to the agenda released on Thursday. Also, anyone wishing to stand for election or confirmation by the Congress shall be subjected to a prior, in-depth integrity check by the Orwellian-sounding Nomination Committee. It’s worth noting that had such a recommendation been implemented a few years ago, then most of the existing Executive Committee would have been deemed unfit to stand.

The proposal is part of a long-term process aimed at cleaning up football’s corruption-plagued governing body and making it more transparent.

At the moment there is no suggestion that delegates will get to vote on the paper, but its mere existence will keep some people happy and assure others that something is being done. Which, in a way, is the point.

It’s all reminiscent of a line in the film Annie Hall in which the Woody Allen character overhears a conversation at a Los Angeles party populated by vacuous Hollywood movers and shakers types.

“Right now it’s only a notion, but I think I can get the money to make it into a concept, and later turn it into an idea”


For all its faults, FIFA is an organisation that is not entirely without merits and as guardians of the game, provide some interesting historical pieces on the history of the game.

Today, the FIFA website has published an interesting piece on the evolution of equipment since the game’s inception.

Boots for example, date back to the reign of Henry VIII. Reports of these boots described them as being made of strong leather, ankle high and heavier than regular shoes of that era, and this model was to remain largely unchanged for centuries to come. By the 19th century, footballers were still playing in heavy work boots, complete with long laces and steel toe caps,

Stoke City still use them.