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If the capital of France is Paris, the capital of Paris is Pogba; how else to explain the obsessive focus on the work of one individual in a team of world-beating world champions? But here we are so here we are, and it’s fair to say that Pogba did indeed play in Tuesday night’s GCSE history derby, delivering a couple of gorgeous moments, a fair bit of loafing, and plenty of normal behaviour – also known as the archetypal Pogba display. In fact, so archetypal was it that The Fiver is unsure why anyone is bothered to experience strong feelings in its regard. Can we not be ambivalent, just for one day?
One man not especially given to ambivalence is Antonio Rüdiger. Fresh from renovating the phizog of Kevin de Bruyne, in Munich he appeared to generously undertake another project: exfoliating the back of the aforementioned Pogba like a big, daft, garra rufa fish. “We’re friends,” explained Pogba, because of course friends do things for friends. “This was nothing big. I think you saw the TV pictures. This is all over, this belongs to the past. I’m not crying for yellow or red cards for such actions. He nibbled, I think, a little bit on me”.
And why not? The tribute to QBasic’s finger-twiddling classic will be appreciated by all veterans of the pre-Snake era, on top of which Pogba had proved, with the gorgeous pass that helped create France’s goal, that he is nothing if not tasty. Which is to say that though Rüdiger was primarily concerned with providing a dermatological service, the tragedy of charity – and the tragedy of humanity – is that every unselfish act is, at its root a selfish one: we do things for others because we want to, because doing things for others makes us feel good. So we shouldn’t be too quick to praise Rüdiger, just as we shouldn’t be too quick to castigate him. Can we not be ambivalent, just for one day?
Such existentialist philosophy – though not generally the preserve of the nation’s favourite tea-timely/lunch-timely email – brings us neatly on to the subject of Jogi Löw. The beautiful game is full of spectacular fairtytales but there are surely none more affirming than the one about the world champion able to be himself even with the eyes of the world upon him. In a society that constantly tells us what to think, what to do and how to feel, Löw is a man who dares to stand alone, as comfortable in his own skin as he is steadfast in his own standards. And there’s no need to be ambivalent about that.
LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE
The Euros blog is here, while Daniel Harris will be on hand for hot MBM coverage of Finland 1-1 Russia at 2pm (all times BST), followed by Barry Glendenning on Turkey 1-1 Wales at 5pm and Simon Burnton with Italy 3-1 Switzerland at 8pm.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Drink water” – the new economical yet deadly record-breaker, Cristiano Ronaldo, wipes $4bn off Coca-Cola’s share price with just two words.
“In his preamble to Monday’s 2pm MBM, Scott Murray attempted to refer to the retimed Fiver as ‘The Oner’. According to the late, great Willie Rushton, the correct term for a one pound note was ‘One-cer’. May I suggest adopting this name, both as an homage to that solitary time that you were actually funny and to reflect the fact that you’re about 80% less interesting than you were at the outset?” – Richard O’Hagan.
“In terms of interesting things Sweden have done in the last 27 years (yesterday’s Fiver letters), I quite liked The Bridge. But that was probably a joint effort with Denmark. There was also this solo effort” – Dan Ashley.
“Anybody else think that Skillzy appears to be an anime version of a teenage David Dickinson?” – Martin Coxhead.
Send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Dan Ashley.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Benjamin Pavard played on for France v Germany despite being knocked out for “10 to 15 seconds” in a collision with Robin Gosens.
Greenpeace has apologised for injuries caused to fans at France v Germany by a paraglider whose protest against big oil “did not go as planned”.
Harry Kane reckons he is not undroppable before England’s stramash with Scotland on Friday.
Gareth Bale is hoping to put a finger to his lips and shush the raucous Turkey fans in Baku. “Hopefully we can keep them silent,” whispered the Wales captain.
Belgium defender Toby Alderweireld isn’t looking forward to Thursday’s match against Denmark in Copenhagen, coming so soon after Christian Eriksen’s harrowing on-field cardiac arrest. “It’s not pleasant to have to play them now,” said Alderweireld. “But it won’t be fun for the Danes either.”
Russia got deserved pelters for a hiding by the Belgians in their opening game, according to no-nonsense manager Stanislav Cherchesov. “We have recovered from the match. Now we have an absolutely different kind of preparation,” he tooted.
And Ukraine boss Andriy Shevchenko wants his team to rouse themselves after their last-gasp loss to the Netherlands. “Many of the lads were empty vessels after the match,” he sighed. “We will see how many of them will be able to recuperate sufficiently for the game against North Macedonia.”
Make it stop dept: the Premier League fixtures are out for next season and Manchester City begin their title defence at Spurs.
Scott Parker is close to doing one at Fulham and Bournemouth suits would like to direct him down the M3 and plonk him into the Vitality Stadium dugout.
Brighton have agreed to splash a club-record £25m on speedy Stuttgart forward Nicolás González.
Sheffield United’s Lys Mousset has been fined £5,000 and disqualified from driving for six months after crashing his Lamborghini into two cars in the city on 4 January.
Liverpool have been granted planning permission to extend the Anfield Road stand to take the stadium’s capacity to 61,000.
And Danny Rose has finally got that move north that he wanted so much … 19 miles up the road to Watford.
STILL WANT MORE?
Cue music: ♩ ♪ ♫ ♬ Ronaldo is a record-breaker! ♩ ♪ ♫ ♬. And he isn’t going to stop, writes Andy Brassell.
Barney Ronay on that nibble, Paul Pogba’s brilliance and more.
All back to Gwion’s for the Turkey game, roars Elis James.
The Knowledge on England’s “big games” with no Liverpool, Manchester United or Arsenal players.
“Don’t get drawn into history”: England put Scotland friends and feuds aside.
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