A GOOD EVENING FOR MADRID
So Leicester City’s dream of joining Midlands rivals Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa in the pantheon of unlikely European champions is over. A terrible shame but on the flip side they don’t look like becoming irrelevant second-tier mediocrities any time soon, so it’s swings and roundabouts. And in any case, last night’s display against Atlético Madrid ensures they take their leave of the continental stage with heads held high. “What a great performance from Leicester,” swooned Atletico manager Diego Simeone. “It was almost a pleasure to compete against them. We were living in fear all night of what they might achieve.” Forcing Diego Simeone to live in fear! They should strike Leicester a few shiny medals just for that.
The only worry going forward is that Kasper Schmeichel appears to have become hopelessly addicted to facing penalties, having experienced the adrenalin rush of saving a couple in the previous round against Sevilla. That’s if his cavalier, referee-baiting slide on Yannick Carrasco during the first half was anything to go by, anyway. The decision went Leicester’s way, restoring karmic balance after the spotkick-awarding nonsense of the first leg, so it was welcome news on the whole, although it did mean poor Kasper was denied another chance to feel the natural chemical reaction to significant accomplishment coursing through his head. Like we say, swings and roundabouts. And potentially promising for Arsenal in the Premier League next Wednesday night unless someone stages an intervention.
In fact the referee at the King Power had a pretty decent game on the whole, which isn’t something that can be said for Viktor Kassai in the Real Madrid versus Bayern Munich tie at the Bernabeu. Kassai incorrectly sent off Bayern’s Arturo Vidal, allowed two offside Real goals to stand during extra-time, then spent the last few minutes of the match juggling, pulling a string of knotted handkerchiefs from his ear, and performing donuts in the centre circle in a car with square wheels. “This robbery can’t happen,” said Vidal afterwards. “You start to wonder a bit.” You can understand Bayern’s frustration, though it’s important they keep everything in perspective. It was bad, but it could have been a whole lot worse. At least Vidal didn’t agree to smell Kassai’s funny flower!
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QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Birmingham are a team I’ve not see much of, seen nothing of really, they’ve not been on TV much this year. I’m a bit like that, I tend to dive in. It was something I thought: ‘I’ll have a go at that’” – Harry Redknapp fills Birmingham fans with confidence at his unveiling at the Championship club.
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“Congratulations to Jon Millard [yesterday’s Fiver letters] on the speed of his attempt to rubbish one of the genuine good news stories of the season, he got in pretty sharpish with his burning pitchfork of self-righteousness. To be fair to him, maybe he just doesn’t like seagulls, was he attacked by one that was after the chips he has perfectly balanced on each shoulder?” – Richard Mead.
“I can only assume that Connor Flanagan’s prizeless letter of the day award in yesterday’s Fiver was so tongue in cheek that the Fiver’s tongue in its haste to find said cheek slid off its fleshy lining, all the way round the back of the mouth, out again into the daylight through the Fiver’s rather pitted and ancient dentures, thence once more back into the Fiver’s mouth and straight down the Fiver’s well-oiled throat causing their usual husky, Martin Jolesque chortle to emerge as a strangulated gasp. Nothing against Connor, but Jon Millard deserved the award so much more, if only on word count alone. Could this be an example of the very bias of which Joe Millard accuses the southern-softie Fiver, i.e., a reticence to acknowledge the struggles of The North: its landscape, its people, its quiet dignity against the odds, its impenetrable accents, and all those footie teams that last won the First Division years before Kit Kat was invented? Eh?” – Kevin McKee.
“Jon Millard’s tired northern paranoia in yesterday’s Fiver misses the key point. Brighton might be nearer to London than, using his examples, York and Chester (though not Maidstone or Aldergrot). Nevertheless, it is still 70 miles from Guardian Towers. Reaching the Amex from HQ would involve a journey of an 1 hour and three quarters (if you’re really lucky) by underground and train. On the other hand, Guardian journalists could stroll to St Pancras, catch a train north and be at the stadium once known as Pride Park, Derby, considerably quicker (were they so inclined). However, there is a Premier League ground less than two miles, and only two stops on the Piccadilly Line from, Guardian Towers, not that you’d ever guess it from the Guardian coverage (and, since your regular readers have probably long since ceased to expect even the slightest degree of subtlety in the humour attempted here, I should point out that I am being sarcastic). Any stories on Brighton will be a welcome relief from the wall-to-wall Wengering.” – Peter Berlin.
“Lasagna you say? What would the Fiver’s Vespa-riding, espresso-sipping, ice-cream hawking, greasy haired, tightly trousered Italian cousin La Cinque, think of that kind of spelling? Never mind Antonio Conte’s mamma. Shame on you Fiver Ed, shame!” – Craig McLaughlin
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BITS AND BOBS
Craig Shakespeare says Leicester’s Big Cup exit should spur their players on to play in the competition again (with whom he did not say). “I said they can be proud of what they achieved. They should want more of this,” he chest-puffed.
Luis Enrique has a cunning plan to overturn Juventus’s formidable 3-0 Big Cup lead when his Barcelona team meet at the Camp Nou. “Attack, attack and attack again,” he roared.
Chelsea have the edge in their FA Youth Cup semi against Manchester City, having procured a 1-1 draw in the first leg at the City Academy stadium.
Jack Wilshere is out for the season with tibia-crack.
And in Brazil, supporters of Sport Recife can party like it’s 1987 because legal suits have ruled that they be awarded that year’s domestic league title following a row over the validity of the separate competitions in which they and rivals Flamengo played that year. “In court, once more, Sport beat those who ran away,” trilled the Sport Recife website. “On the pitch, on the ball, always Flamengo. Brazilian champion of 1987,” retorted Flamengo on social media apocalypse-harbinger Twitter.
STILL WANT MORE?
The Forgotten Story of … Dundee United’s glory years under Jim McLean: an epic read by Daniel Harris.
A tale of slim chances, tear-stained misery and brutal rejection –
yes, it’s the Fiver’s romantic history Amy Lawrence lifts the lid on the cut-throat world of youth football.
Pop smash hit for weird mid-1990s sibling trio Hanson and Monaco striker Kylian Mbappe is taking Europe by storm – Ed Aarons finds out why.
Who took (and took and took and took) the most retaken penalty of all time? The Knowledge has the answer.
Leicester went out of the Champions League last night. Stuart James was at the King Power.
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