All in the Game: Homework needed for Van Gaal for World Cup

Espanyol peeved by Piqué; England bullish about chances again

QUOTE

"I don't know if this is a nice draw, I don't know much about these countries. I was in Senegal on holidays two years ago, I have never been in Ecuador, I have never seen Qatar play."
Dutch manager Louis van Gaal with a little bit of homework to do before the World Cup.

NUMBER: 91,533

The world record attendance at last week's Champions League game between the women of Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Camp Nou. Gobsmacking.

Espanyol peeved by Piqué

The relationship between Barcelona’s Gerard Piqué and the supporters of neighbours Espanyol has, to put it mildly, always been rather strained, hardly eased by the nature of their chants about his wife Shakira.

A while back, he poured a little fuel on that fire by mocking the stature of the club - “They call themselves the ‘marvellous minority’, and they’re in such a minority that they can’t even fill their ground” – as well as their finances. “I have more money than the budget of Espanyol.”

That didn't go down tremendously well with Espanyol's then coach Rubi – "Some values are more important than economic ones, like humility" – nor their vice-president Carlos Garcia. "Some day Piqué will say something intelligent," he sniffed.

Have things calmed down? Well, no. He was at it again last week, repeating his loot-related boast – “I’ve had as much money as Espanyol’s budget for a long time” – before explaining the joys of playing them away.

“I like going out on to their pitch and being whistled at. Then you laugh and they get even more pissed off. Nothing in the world compares with it, I’d say it’s better than sex.”

Not even the United Nations could, you'd suspect, sort this one out.

WORD OF MOUTH

"Cristiano was so good and so ****ing annoying at the same time. He's probably not as good now, but he's probably just as annoying."
Wayne Rooney. He's right, too.

"I'm not bothered by the rumours, it's part of the game. The only thing that bothers me is that we have to answer this bulls**t every day."
Is Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke tired of being asked about Erling Haaland's future? Just a bit.

"He was like, 'you'll not kick a ball this year. I would not feel comfortable with you playing one minute for me. The ball's too quick for you, you're too old, you've got no strength in your body'. He literally buried me."
Joe Hart on how Nuno Espirito Santo gently broke it to him that he had no future at Spurs.

England never learn

After England were drawn in a World Cup group with Iran, the United States and Scotland/Wales/Ukraine, it was hard to blame their pundits for feeling a bit chuffed, the draw could, most certainly, have been less kind.

But England old-boy Carlton Cole lost the run of himself just a bit, in a when-will-they-ever-learn kind of way.

“We won’t go out at the group stages. We’ll get to the final. Southgate will probably see it as a failure if we don’t win it. But get to the final – it’s a one-off game, anything can happen.”

Bookmarked.

MORE WORD OF MOUTH

"In my opinion, he's the best centre back at his club."
England manager Gareth Southgate standing up for Harry Maguire, but risking being sued by Raphael Varane, Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly.

"I asked her if she liked football. She said not really. I asked her for her favourite player. 'Michael Owen is my favourite player,' she said. I asked why and she said: 'He looks so clean'. We didn't go on with that discussion."
Sven-Goran Eriksson revealing that Owen received royal approval from none other than the Queen when they chatted during his time as England gaffer.

"The chants yesterday were painful. It is now 2022, we must be better than this."
The Dutch football association responding to how a small section of their supporters greeted Germany during last week's friendly in Amsterdam. "All Germans are gay," they sang. Right so.