After the top story on one English tabloid’s website brought us the sensational news that footage recorded in the wake of Liverpool’s Big Cup win over Manchester City revealed the floor of their dressing room to be strewn with discarded footwear, The Fiver feels somewhat behind the curve with its only-exclusive-if-you-haven’t-already-seen-it-somewhere-else revelation that bananas, apples, bottled water, energy drinks and what looked like a selection of cold cuts were laid out on a table for Roma’s jubilant players following their epic win over Barcelona. It was an upset for the ages; those plucky Italian underdogs turning around a three-goal deficit to leave Leo Messi looking, as PG Wodehouse might put it, “as anguished as some duck which, sauntering in a reverie beside a duck-pond, had inadvertently stubbed its toe on a broken bottle”.
While Roma fans and their chief suit celebrated like ducks pogoing in a reverie beside an ornate Fontana dell’Obelisco in the Italian capital’s Piazza del Popolo, the gentlemen and women of the normally restrained and level-headed Spanish press were sharpening their quills. “TOTAL FAILURE IN EUROPE!” screamed Real Madrid fanzine Marca, which reserved half its front page for a picture of Pep Guardiola holding his head in his hands, despite the fact he last worked for Barcelona six years ago. “A HISTORICAL DEBACLE!” fumed Mundo Deportivo, while El País chuntered on about “A NIGHT WITHOUT FOOTBALL OR FIGHT!”
Speaking after a game in which Barcelona’s players demonstrably didn’t try to give the maximum and paid a heavy price for their complacency, Andrés Iniesta said: “We always try to give the maximum but we are knocked out and now feel everyone’s pain”. Unlike so many thousands of comparatively overworked and underpaid culés, the Fiver can’t help but feel Senor Andrés and his chums won’t take quite as long to get over it.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“As a boy, I lived in a tent with a couple of goats, and one of them I used to call Gary, because of Gary Lineker. It is normal to have goats or camels in the south of Tunisia, where it’s very dry and they can survive the heat and go without drinking for days. We would use the goat’s milk for breakfast. Leo now, my little boy, I tell him about the story and he always says: ‘Daddy I want a goat for my birthday.’ I take him and my daughter, Maya, home every year to see my family and all the rest of it” – Stevenage manager Dino Maamria gets his chat on with Ben Fisher.