So, Barcelona’s gambled farm is now left relying on … Viktoria Plzen? | Soccer


Oh, Barça! This used to be meant to be the season when soccer’s bastion of sanctimony and monetary eccentricity returned to former glories. Instead, after Wednesday evening’s determined, exhilarating 3-3 draw towards Internazionale, they’ve some other top notch price ticket to Big Vase within the publish. Before February, Barcelona had now not slummed it there since 2003-04. Now they’re in peril of turning into a Thursday-night staple to rival George Clarke’s Remarkable Renovations and – hic – beginning the weekend upfront.

It would had been worse had Robert Lewandowski now not pulled the trusty “Added-time Equaliser” lever towards Inter. Without that purpose, Barcelona would had been out of Big Cup with two video games to spare. As it stands, they’ve an out of doors probability of qualification, although in fact Lewandowski’s purpose used to be corresponding to learning your firing squad have been held up as a result of an inordinately lengthy wait-time in Frankie & Benny’s. Their president Joan Laporta gambled the farm by means of spending round £130m in the summertime, pulling a chain of monetary spindles marked “DO NOT TOUCH”. Our cousin, Spanish Fiver, reckons Barça had budgeted to succeed in the quarter-finals of this yr’s Big Cup. The Fiver isn’t the most productive in the case of figuring out or coping with cash – why else do you suppose we’ve been sound asleep on Weird Uncle Fiver’s settee since 2006 – however even we will be able to discern that this is now not excellent information.

It doesn’t assist that Barcelona are nonetheless paying off switch charges for avid gamers they’ve lengthy since discarded, together with Philippe Coutinho, Miralem Pjanic, Emmanuel Petit, Alex Song, Geovanni, Giovanni, Diego Maradona, Johan Cruyff and Steve Archibald. The upshot is that Europe’s greatest are in search of some bargains and are circling Barcelona’s gated segment of the ethical top floor, the place Xavi used to be remaining observed swigging from a bottle of Good Times, a divisive 64.2% ABV aperitif, whilst staring at a video of the 2011 Big Cup ultimate.

The Camp Nou draw used to be the spotlight of a impressive evening of motion. Liverpool received 7-1 at Rangers, prompting an ongoing, impassioned and virtually fully childish debate about whether or not they’re BACK. Despite a noble effort, together with a Harry Kane penalty that used to be remaining noticed within the airspace above the Galapagos Islands, Spurs have been not able to blow a 3-1 lead towards 10-man Eintracht Frankfurt. Club Brugge, Bayern Munich and Napoli all certified for the remaining 16, with the latter – who beat Ajax 4-2 – once more impressed by means of Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, a participant so joyfully ingenious that GPs have began prescribing Partenopei movies to regard existential ennui. Come the summer time, Kvaratskhelia, 21, is prone to be coveted by means of all Europe’s large golf equipment. Well, all bar one. Please, Joan, don’t contact that lever.


We’ve sizzling MBM protection of Bodø/Glimt 1-2 Arsenal in Big Vase from 5.45pm BST, along side information from Manchester United 4-0 Omonia Nicosia at 8pm.


“I couldn’t see the incident clearly. The two players, Shilton and Maradona, were facing me from behind. As per Fifa’s instructions issued before the tournament, I looked to my linesman for confirmation of the validity of the goal – he made his way back to the halfway line indicating he was satisfied that the goal should stand” – Ali Bin Nasser, the referee who awarded Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ purpose for Argentina towards England on the 1986 World Cup, is cashing in on his incompetence to the music of an estimated £3m, with the ball heading for public sale subsequent month. A lesson for us all, proper there.

Diego Maradona’s Hand of God goal
Jump, guy! Photograph: Daniel Motz/Press Association Images

The newest Football Weekly Extra podcast is up and to be had on your aural excitement.


“The Knowledge article regarding stadium distances from railway stations (yesterday’s Still Want More?) reminded me of an away trip to watch Liverpool play Newcastle in the 1971-72 season (‘Supermac’ scored a hat-trick and we lost 3-2). I was with my wife-to-be and a friend. We bought cheap-day return tickets, changing at Leeds. The last train home was leaving Newcastle before the game finished, but minor problems of that nature are inconsequential when you are young and carefree. Not bothering with the protocol of purchasing tickets, we caught one to Carlisle later that evening with the vague hope that there would be a connectiom to Liverpool. Fortunately, there was, with enough time for a refreshing ale in a nearby pub. It was just after closing time when the train left. Being somewhat tired and emotional, we fell asleep. We were woken some time later as it was pulling out of Preston, with a voice over the Tannoy announcing the front cars were going to Manchester and the rear cars to Liverpool. I think you can guess which car we were in. We duly arrived in Manchester at about 4am, where we waited for the ‘milk train’ to Liverpool. It stopped at every station, dropping off the Sunday papers and presumably the milk. We eventually arrived home at 10am. The story of the nuns saving me from being caught bunking the train after a Spurs game can wait for another day” – John Milce.

“Hugely disappointed that, after 24 hours of bleating reportage about the PSG maestro’s woes, neither The Fiver nor its (less) tawdry competitors have alighted on the bleeding obvious headline of ‘Unhappé Mbappé’. Come on Fiver, where’s the imagination? I mean, it’s not like you spend your day drinking Tin and just throwing together ill-considered, banal nonsense at the last minute” – John McNeil.

“When will commentators learn that saying ‘the all-important first goal’ is often a hostage to fortune? Darren Fletcher uttered this nonsense on BT Sport when Scott Arfield scored to put Rangers ahead against Liverpool, who then scored seven without reply” – Deryck Hall.

The scoreboard shows Liverpool 7-1 up on Rangers
Oh Rangers! Photograph: Russell Cheyne/Action Images/Reuters

Send your letters to And you’ll be able to all the time tweet The Fiver by means of @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … John Milce.

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