WEDNESDAY'S BIG STORIES
Messi banned; Argentina in big trouble
The Warm-Up has a recurring nightmare in which it has to stand in front of hundreds of people and deliver an important speech. As it takes to the lectern, it looks down and realises it has forgotten to put on its trousers.
It now emerges the Warm-Up’s subconscious was merely parodying Argentina without Leo Messi.
Stripped of their captain, who copped a four-match ban for swearing at an official just a few hours before last night’s game against Bolivia, Argentina lost 2-0 in La Paz to take their qualifying record without Messi to one win in eight.
Argentina are not yet in imminent danger of failing to qualify. Even in their lowly fifth position they are still on target for a play-off against the winners from Oceania – most likely New Zealand.
But they will be without their talisman for three of their four remaining games and desperately need to find a way to win without him before they travel to Uruguay in August.
Just six points span Colombia in second and Paraguay in eighth – unless things improve it is entirely possible Argentina could fail to qualify for the first time since 1970.
England's brave Lallana crocked
Footage emerged last night of Lallana rubbing his left thigh…
There’s a sentence to you spit out your cornflakes, especially coming from the Daily Mail, undisputed masters of the tabloid leg fetish.
But read on and you’ll discover this isn’t some sordid webcam episode, but the news that Adam Lallana could be out for several weeks with an injury sustained playing for England.
...in discomfort after the first half of the 2-0 win against Lithuania on Sunday, but he saw out the full 90 minutes.
It is claimed that Lallana sustained a kick on the thigh during the World Cup qualifier, but either failed to disclose it or got the OK to continue (is now a good time to remember England’s physio spent 28 years at Arsenal?).
Either way, and while it’s not exactly Terry Butcher’s bloody bandage v Sweden in 1989, the Warm-Up is heartened that Lallana didn’t immediately make the universal spinny-hands gesture that indicates: ‘I must come off immediately, no questions asked’.
The thought of someone playing through injury for his country is as quaint as it is certain to infuriate Jurgen Klopp, who has lost arguably his most creative player for a crucial period.
Correct decisions? Not for us
Last night saw the sort of grotesque aberration that makes the Warm-Up glad Britain is triggering Article 50 and pulling up the drawbridge.
France’s game against Spain in Paris (that’s two foreign teams playing in a foreign country, mark you) featured the debauched sideshow of a meddling video assistant referee changing two crucial decisions.
German referee Felix Zwayer – another foreigner - too cowardly to stand by his own incorrect convictions, twice asked the video ref to review tight offsides and twice the call on the field was changed.
The first saw an Antoine Griezmann goal chalked off, the second saw Gerard Deulofeu’s goal allowed after an initial erroneous offside flag.
The Warm-Up must object in the strongest terms to these stoppages to ensure the correct decision – thoroughness and accuracy are not the way of Brexit Britain.
Read the full article on eurosport.co.uk: The Warm-Up: Messi, Lallana, video refs and Brexit