Desert Outtakes: Wives of French goalkeepers kick off

No praise for Richarlison in Italy; Luis Enrique and Robbie Savage have their say

French drama

It’s hardly unusual for tensions to run high in World Cup camps, especially when things aren’t going swimmingly on the pitch, but having already qualified for the knock-out round, all has been serene for defending champions France. Well, until it all kicked off between the partners of two of their goalkeepers.

“Do I get on well with Marine Lloris? Not at all! For the simple reason that this is the kind of person who will come to speak to you only out of interest,” wrote Marrion Areola, the wife of West Ham’s Alphonse Areola, on Instagram, the target of her ire Hugo Lloris’s beloved.

“Simple example: when I first arrived she never considered me, not even a single hello. But a year ago, when she knew I was friends with influential people in London, I received a message from her. I never answered her because I can’t stand people like that. This environment is very hypocritical, the further I am from all this the better.”

Some time later. “Regarding the story with Marine Lloris. We had a long conversation and now everything is back to normal. Lots of misunderstanding between her and me ... indeed, with hindsight, the timing was not appropriate. I am wrong and I apologise.”

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Didier Deschamps is probably on his second bottle of brandy.

Word of mouth

“No chance, we’re too old.”

Kevin De Bruyne on being asked if Belgium could win the World Cup. Ageist. But based on that performance against Morocco, he might be right.

“Maddison may as well take his flip-flops and chill out on the beach for a few weeks, Southgate won’t use him. Saka, Sterling and Kane are all ahead of him, Foden, Grealish, Rashford, even Conor Gallagher.”

Retired-player-turned-pundit Jamie O’Hara somewhat dismissing James Maddison’s hopes of getting a bit of World Cup action, while being quite rude too about young Gallagher.

“We often joke that we feel sorry for our rivals because we can replace Raphinha with Antony, Richarlison with Gabriel Jesus. We have Vinicius Junior, Rodrygo, Gabriel Martinelli ...”.

Casemiro luxuriating in the depth of Brazil’s squad.

“I had six eggs for dinner, three fried and three boiled, green beans, sweet potato carrots, and I ended up with a yoghurt.”

Spanish manager Luis Enrique is living his best life in Qatar.

“It’s something I consider totally normal. I mean if you’re at an orgy the night before a match it’s not ideal. But hey.”

Enrique again, this time on being asked if his players should engage in nookie before matches. A qualified “go on then”.

In words

“It’s only Iran – I could still play against them now and win, they’re that bad….. useless. Macclesfield would beat them.”

That Robbie Savage preview of Wales (0) v Iran (2). Morto.

In numbers

200 – That’s how many minutes Costa Rica have played at this World Cup and they’ve managed just one shot on target. Mind you, it was the winner against Japan.

Richarlison fails to impress Cassano

Former Italian international Antonio Cassano is, perhaps, the hardest-to-please football pundit on earth, the fellah making Roy Keane seem happy-go-lucky. You’d imagine, though, that he was impressed by Richarlison’s performance for Brazil against Serbia, not least that rather acrobatic second goal of his? Well…..

“The truth is that he had a bad first touch which is why he made the bicycle kick,” he said, which was kind of a reminder of the time Dave Jones praised Carlton Palmer: “He covers every blade of grass out there.” But? “That’s only because his first touch is so crap.”

Any way, Cassano wasn’t done. “Richarlison has nothing in common with Brazilian strikers. I am a person who never denies what he says, and after what I have seen I can confirm that he is terrible.”

If he wins the Golden Boot, Cassano will be peeling egg off his face for a month.

Put down the pen, Des

This World Cup, you might have noticed, hasn’t been short of its controversies, but Des Lynam focused on the biggest issue of all in his Daily Telegraph column.

“The first live match for ITV was presented by the ever – smiling Laura Woods….. she called Ian Wright ‘Wrighty’ which sounds comfortable coming from the likes of Lineker but it made me slightly wince.”

“I may be wrong and perhaps they are close friends but the over-familiarity made me a touch uncomfortable. The other pundits were Gary Neville and Nigel de Jong. Laura refrained from calling them Gaz or Nige.”

Des? Put down the pen.

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan is a sports writer with The Irish Times