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He killed Barcelona.

They were already stunned - injuries and formation changes having dulled the tiki-taka sharpness, off-field pressures adding stress to otherwise straightforward squad augmentation - but he wasn’t swayed by their sudden vulnerability.

With the same speed and precision that left many a Premier League defence on its knees, Gareth Bale last night slit open the all-conquering Catalans and left them gasping for breath on their backs, their once impenetrable armour pierced by a pointing finger, a knock-on, a brief detour into the technical area and a turn of pace that left the not exactly slow out of the traps Marc Bartra in a befuddled heap.

Bet Cristiano’s chuffed.


Gus Poyet. A bit batty?

Back in auld Blighty, The Engineer’s plans for an inaugural title win suffered an unpleasant staining courtesy of an increasingly unstable Sunderland. No one was more surprised by the Connor Wickham-inspired 2-2 draw at the Etihad than Gus Poyet, who later claimed that football was trying to kill him.

Someone should check his office. It’s very possible Paulo Di Canio left some sort of madness diffuser in a light fitting and is sat in a dormant volcano hideaway somewhere in the Pacific, stroking a cat and laughing uncontrollably. 



Tony Pulis and his informal cap.

Liverpool fans had their misty third eye squeegeed clean last night, as Crystal Palace categorically stated their unwillingness to doff their cap to the Scouse fairytale. Everton’s ambitions of finishing fourth and qualifying Champions League football next season undoubtedly form part of an unlikely and unifying double for the city, but a 2-3 defeat simultaneously handed Arsenal the initiative and the Reds an answer to the question, will Pulis’s men ease off now they’re safe?

This is almost certainly the first and last time that Tony Pulis and Jose Mourinho share a common purpose. Enjoy it.


By Kelly Welles

Liverpool, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Everton, Manchester City, Sunderland, Crystal Palace


Only FIFA would be complacent enough to imagine that gluing a bit of discarded dire wolf hair to Zico’s top lip would prevent one of his biggest fans from identifying him.

Still, inviting a Brazil 2014 volunteer to the Maracanã and having Zico present him with his uniform is a nice touch.

If they weren’t such a stand-up bunch of fellas, we’d think they were trying to distract us from something...


By Kelly Welles


Image via facebook.

FIFA, Brazil 2014

To a soundtrack evocative of the parps and farts that a cyber goth band might emit as they get to grips with their Korg squelch function, Gareth Bale and Dani Alves strap their boots on and smash footballs at liveried bags of paint someone happened to conveniently leave in a warehouse.

This is almost Bywater-ian in it’s abstraction and execution, no?


By Kelly Welles

Gareth Bale, Dani Alves, Copa del Rey


Football is in a rare vein of form right now. There’s an exciting title run-in, managerial meltdowns are occurring in the most unusual places and perhaps most importantly, we’re not being forced to suffer the indignity of our media being more interested in its representatives’ sex organs being in or around people other than their official partners.

Over in Italy, where emotion runs free to the point that grown men hide in hedges dressed in commando gear to spy on their upcoming opponent’s tactics, they cannot say the same.

Mauro Icardi, Wanda Nara & Maxi Lopez in ‘happier’ times.

Calcio experienced its own version of Handshake-gate on Sunday when Sampdoria faced Inter in a game that, due to a series of ill-advised and in some cases, quite tasteless, social media messages, became known via the press as the “Wanda Derby.”


The Ramble has been stretching the parameters of what can be called a derby for some years now, but as far as I’m aware, a game on English soil has never been fiercely contested because one guy nurtured another through his formative years at a club and was repaid by The Protégé getting involved with his ex and flaunting it by posting photos of himself with Betrayed Hubby’s kids on Twitter.

Not unreasonably, when the time came for Sampdoria’s Maxi Lopez to “show respect” to 21-year-old Mauro Icardi in football’s universally imposed manner, he declined, but the humiliation wasn’t to end there. Icardi, whose dignified behaviour was almost certainly one of the factors that drew Lopez’ former wife Wanda Nara into his sphere of influence, scored, then proceeded to cup his ear in front of the Sampdoria Ultras. He was booked, but although technically correct, it’s probably not the retribution Lopez was hoping for, especially since he had a penalty saved during the game. Sampdoria lost 4-0.

If you want all the juice, Paulo Bandini has written a gloriously detailed account for the Guardian. If you’re not interested in what footballers get up to off the pitch I would first ask you why you’re still reading this, and secondly to be grateful for small mercies.

In a World Cup year, this is the kind of disruptive crap we English usually have to deal with. It looks like Italy and Argentina are taking the hit for us this time.

If we win, let’s say we call it quits on the old Hand of God thing, yeah?


By Kelly Welles


Images: taringa, twitter,

Inter, Sampdoria, Calcio


This is a photo of an extract from Andrea Pirlo’s autobiography, released today.

In one short paragraph, he manages to insult the French, relate his position as he prepared to take his penalty in the World Cup final to that of the everyday Italian businessman and a prostitute and assert his national pride.

Oh, and render the argument that English footballers don’t need to be articulate because they’re good at football completely and utterly redundant.


By Kelly Welles


Image via Twitter.

Juventus, Andrea Pirlo


They didn’t exactly hurdle it with aplomb, but as Liverpool battered their way through the barrier to their title winning aspirations that was a similarly driven Manchester City side, you’d have to have a heart of stone not to feel the romance of it all.


Of course, this is England, and while many neutrals allowed themselves to succumb to a captain’s tears and the notion of a trophy being a fitting tribute to ninety-six people who never lived to see the fallow years, a few find a strange pleasure in being seen to drop their trousers and piss all over the bonfire.

Some were fun; Sky’s attempt to be the first broadcaster to have an interviewer punched in the face by an athlete in a post-match interview being thwarted by Steven Gerrard’s professionalism being one, but others, like those people who left tyre marks in their haste to share their disdain for the team and captain across their social networks were genuinely baffling.


Hate Liverpool if you want. It’s a free country and fierce rivalries are a big part of what makes our game what it is. But another part of rivalry is respect and if you can’t even bring yourself to keep your mouth shut when events conspire towards one of those otherworldly moments of magic that drew us to football in the first place, you should probably find better things to do with your Saturday afternoons. Hanging round shopping arcades telling three-year-olds that Santa is a capitalist construction designed specifically to elicit money from hard-working parents, for example.

It’s worth it just to see their faces crumble, yo.



And while we’re on the subject of magic, the FA Cup has misplaced its quota and the hunt is on to recapture it.

Heading up the search party is BBC 606, who recently charged their merry band of listeners with the task of locating said magic, with the promise that the best leads would be presented to FA Chairman Greg Dyke.


Everyone was having a brilliant time until Greg turned up and pointed out that while offering a Champions League spot to the winner of the trophy was the best way to make the competition more exciting, the FA is not in charge of world, or indeed, European football and can’t make those decisions. He even went as far as to claim that other countries have cup competitions, a rumour that we have been unable to confirm at the time of writing.


Luckily Darren Fletcher was on hand to advise him that even if they do, they’re definitely not as good as the FA Cup. As of today, “The Magic” remains at large and should not be approached.

It may well be armed.


By Kelly Welles


Images: footballtube, facebook.

Liverpool, Manchester City, Steven Gerrard, BBC 606


You remember in February when Lazio were forced to dispute allegations that their seventeen-year-old Cameroonian midfielder Joseph Minala was actually forty-one?

The glorious moment when his agent dismissed claims that he looked significantly older by stating “Joseph had a difficult childhood, that’s the issue.”?


We should have known then that the story wouldn’t end there. We should have thought about how whacked out the world of football is, checked the schedules and slammed a stack of money on Lazio winning the Italian Youth Cup (Coppa Italia Primavera) with Minala to score.

Because they have, and he did, goddammit.


By Kelly Welles


Images: facebook, corrieredellosport.

Joseph Minala


Amidst speculation that Thibaut Courtois will be ineligible to play against his parent club in their Champions League semi-final, UEFA have taken the surprisingly decisive step of issuing a statement of integrity.

Courtois, who has played a big old part in Atletico Madrid’s ridiculously successful season, was rumoured to be subject to a clause in the loan contract between Atleti and Chelsea that would have prevented him from playing against the Blues, unless a substantial fee was paid by the Spanish club.

According to UEFA’s statement, issued this morning, any “such provision in a private contract between clubs which might function in such a way as to influence who a club fields in a match is null, void and unenforceable so far as UEFA is concerned.

If you think this sounds a bit efficient for a football governing body, don’t panic. According to Sid Lowe, UEFA stated yesterday that “rules do not say anything about loans and that therefore any agreement Chelsea-Atletico would stand.”

The semi-finals, Chelsea vs. Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich will be played on 22/23 April and 29/30 April. God knows what’ll happen between then and now.


By Kelly Welles

Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich, Champions League, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Thibaut Courtois

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This section is edited by Kelly Welles, to contact her please send her an email.

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