Every day around 5pm, The Guardian publishes an email dedicated to that day's football related doings which they call 'The Fiver'. Here's last Thursday's edition. If you don't fancy reading all the sporty stuff just scroll down to the end. The bit we're interested in is just above the copyright blurb and just after the 'Sign up to the Fiver' notice.
Lyon Kings, and Lille Bit Too Good?
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Paul Doyle and Rob Smyth
Thursday March 11 2010
Florentino Pérez could have bought a mummified walrus whanger [http://guardian.chtah.com/a/tBLmRiuAY30QpAe9jDFAcNjabWz/fvr24, and had plenty of change. Or dozens of Balearic villas with ocean views and diamond-encrusted balustrades. Or something totally out there, such as several well-equipped public hospitals in any of the planet's least developed countries. Instead Florentino Pérez bought a football team that goes out of Europe before Fulham. Well done Florentino Pérez, you're a flippin' hero!
"You don't buy titles, you win them," sniffed the El País columnist José Samano following Real Madrid's richly deserved Big Cup elimination at the hands of Lyon. "The catastrophe suffered by this pharaonic Madrid team is as if an earthquake had destroyed the Valley of the Kings," warbled Orfeo Suárez in El Mundo. "Watching the competition to which they owe their legend from the sidelines will be their penitence and torment." So will enduring taunts from France.
"Who are the Galacticos?" nananananahed L'Equipe today before omnipotent Lyon overlord Jean-Michel Aulas stomped back to hold forth at great length, as usual. "It's mad, this is the most beautiful performance for me with Lyon [the club he's controlled for the last 23 years]," exulted Aulas before proving that the green-and-yellow scarf-clutching David Beckham is not the only person who can keep his mind focused firmly on his own image at all times.
"I shouldn't tell you this but I wept a little tear from the bottom of my heart - maybe that will make me more likeable, since people who cry seem to be popular," confided Aulas knowingly before adding: "Now our heads are full of wild dreams, notably coming back to the Bernabéu for the final." Manager Claude Puel, by contrast, kept his emotions in check as easily as his team nullified Kaká. Asked what he felt when the final whistle sounded, he droned: "Nothing special". Which is also a fair description of the most expensively-assembled team in the history of football.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"The tit for tat between me and Rafa will probably go on until one of us is no longer a Premier League manager" - Big Sam predicts that his row with Liverpool's manager will be over in three months.
With Jiggered Cup now such a bloated fiasco that the only excitement to be gleaned from a 4-0 win over Milan's geriatricos involved a man wearing a scarf to keep his neck-tattoo warm, the real excitement in the nearly-dead-now golden goose that is European football comes in the knockout stages of the Europa League, where most teams want to win the thing out of boyish enthusiasm rather than presuming it to be their entitlement.
Liverpool have already had good news in Europe this week, with Real Madrid's defeat increasing the chances of them sacking Manuel Pellegrini and replacing him with Rafael Benítez, and tonight they face Lille, with Steven Gerrard taking his Respect Tour to France; though sixth in Ligue Thesoundyoumakewhenyou'rewrestlingwithconstipation, Lille are a lively bunch, the top scorers in France.
No wonder Benítez is demanding Liverpool are more positive tonight than they were against Wigan on Respect Monday. "Pepe Reina was blaming the defenders for something that was wrong and the defenders were blaming the keeper," said Benítez, suggesting that it's fine to flash two fingers at the referee so long as you don't point one at your team-mates.
"I don't like it. If you are showing your disappointment with that sort of body language it is sending out the wrong message," added Benítez, a man whose body language in recent months has emitted all the positivity of someone who has accidentally run over both family pets, been sacked, burnt the roast, been given a vasectomy when all he went in for was an ingrowing toenail, failed to put the winning numbers on a lottery ticket, forgotten to set the Sky+ for Masterchef, and found his wife in the sack with Ian Rush, John Aldridge and Peter Beardsley.
In other news, Fulham are in Turin, where they have to make an Old Lady tremble in a manner not seen since Weird Uncle Fiver turned asexual after a cheese-fuelled epiphany. Fulham are without the suspended Danny Murphy but, given that Juventus are three places and 11 points below the septuagenarian shower that called themselves Milan last night, they have a decent chance. "I think given our position when I came to the club, I don't think many people would have given any credence to the fact we could be this far forward in our development now," said Roy Hodgson, a man whose decency, class and dignity shames almost everybody else in his sorry profession. A bit like the Fiver, really.
Follow Lille 2-1 Liverpool with Rob Smyth from 5.30pm [http://guardian.chtah.com/a/tBLmRiuAY30QpAe9jDFAcNjabWz/fvr25] and Juventus 0-0 Fulham with Paul Doyle from 7.30pm [http://guardian.chtah.com/a/tBLmRiuAY30QpAe9jDFAcNjabWz/fvr26]
"Summer of '68 berets off to Lyon for humbling Real Madrid last night. Anyone else hoping Bayern, Bordeaux and Sevilla eventually join them in the semis so we don't have to hear Sky cheerlead on about how great the Premier League is for the 1,000,057th time? Please God, please" - Rufus Drayton.
"It was great to see Leonardo and Rafael reunited last night at Old Trafford. I wonder what the rest of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are up to? By the way, that's the worst Milan I've seen since Milan Baros!" - Alan Gernon.
"Thought you'd be interested to know that since your STOP FOOTBALL campaign er... stopped, the good work has been diligently continued by regional groups across the UK. Can I suggest a new Fiver feature with updates on the STOP FOOTBALL campaign, beginning with some very exciting news we've recently received from our brothers in Chester and Portsmouth" - Keith Withers.
"Re: John Gilfillan (yesterday's Fiver): Can I be the first of 1057 sad, Fiver pedants (now that's tautology) to point out that, no, Donald Smith is innocent. I give you exhibit A [http://guardian.chtah.com/a/tBLmRiuAY30QpAe9jDFAcNjabWz/fvr27] - Martin Dickson.
Send your letters to email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]. And if you've nothing better to do you can also Tweet the Fiver [http://guardian.chtah.com/a/tBLmRiuAY30QpAe9jDFAcNjabWz/fvr28] now.
BITS AND BOBS
The first gig of the Owen Hargreaves Comeback Tour in Altrincham tonight has been cancelled.
David Beckham has proved that you can have your cake and eat it, by wearing a green-and-gold scarf and then saying he didn't understand it was a protest against the Glazers.
The Inexplicable and Sad Decline of Forever Young Joey Cole will gather pace when he leaves Stamford Bridge in the summer.
Cesc Fàbregas has a 0.5% chance of playing at Hull on Saturday, according to his manager Arsène Wenger. And Arsène Wenger is an honourable man.
Derby and Nottingham Forest have each been fined £45,000 for their rumble at Pride Park in January.
And Internacional midfielder Sandro is busy learning England in his spare time, reportedly so that he can a) join Spurs for £6m in the summer and b) wring every last drop of F.U.N. out of those Mr Bean DVDs.
STILL WANT MORE?
Turn off Deal or No Deal, dim the lights, lie back and think of a strangely compelling bald man: it's time for Football Weekly Extra [http://guardian.chtah.com/a/tBLmRiuAY30QpAe9jDFAcNjabWz/fvr29.
In her piece on the England dressing-room being bugged, page 10 stunnah Marina Hyde quotes Peter Andre and Phil Neal, and uses the word 'panted'. What are you waiting for? [http://guardian.chtah.com/a/tBLmRiuAY30QpAe9jDFAcNjabWz/fvr30]
David Beckham says he was unaware of the green-and-gold scarf he wore at Old Trafford last night. Pull the other one [http://guardian.chtah.com/a/tBLmRiuAY30QpAe9jDFAcNjabWz/fvr31, says Owen Gibson. It's got bells on!
And this week's Classic YouTube [http://guardian.chtah.com/a/tBLmRiuAY30QpAe9jDFAcNjabWz/fvr32] round-up puts the emphasis on classic, including as it does a women's football video from 1921, a clip of Jock Stein's sensational Celtic side of 1970, and – best of all – a sensational goal from Phil Clarkson.
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