The clanging sounds of doom
‘Chelsea, thrown around Stamford Bridge like a dog with a toy, have it all to do in the second leg. The atmosphere was a throw back to the days when these two were European equals. It does not feel like that any more’ – Neil Ashton, The Sun.
Remind us, what was the score again? And who had more shots and shots on target?
Make your mind up
Mediawatch is struggling to decide what Ashton made of Barcelona and Chelsea on Tuesday night.
On the one hand, Ashton writes that Chelsea were ‘thrown around Stamford Bridge like a dog with a toy’, that Barcelona were ‘far superior’ and passed the ball around ‘as if they owned the place’.
Then only a couple of paragraphs later:
‘No matter how much possession they had, the Blues were always in it. Memorably the two best chances of the first half fell to Antonio Conte’s side.’
Then we have Chelsea ‘humanising this magnificent Barcelona side’ and ‘looking inspired’.
So which is it?
Writes The Sun’s Andrew Dillon on Eden Hazard:
‘It is a bit of an insult to label Hazard a ‘false nine’ because everything about his game is genuine — even his 15 goals this season making him the club’s top scorer.
False nine doesn’t really mean anything about being genuine, but fine.
‘Just let him have a bruiser next to him to skittle over the opposition. If Conte does this on a regular basis then Hazard might just get the reputation he deserves and at least have a fighting chance of winning the Ballon d’Or.’
If the three seasons with Diego Costa did not provide enough ‘bruising’, that might be a forlorn hope.
Slight difference of opinion
‘This place had come alive when Willian left Sergio Busquets eating dirt when he turned him on the edge of the area. The fans were on their feet, with the atmosphere a throw back to the days when these two were European equals’ – Neil Ashton, The Sun.
‘The crowd was dead, it was like a morgue at the ground last night and it shouldn’t be that way, it should be rocking when Barcelona come to town because you should be going after them’ – Ray Wilkins, Talksport.
Drop the bomb
‘Lionel Messi drops bombshell on Andres Iniesta after Chelsea clash,’ reads the Daily Express website’s headline on Wednesday morning. They’re not usually prone to hyperbole (we’ve stifled the laughter).
Let’s play a game. Is that ‘bombshell’:
a) That Messi has been secretly drugging Iniesta?
b) That Messi has been sleeping with Iniesta’s wife?
c) That Messi has been plotting to kill Iniesta?
d) That Messi would like Iniesta to stay at Barcelona?
All answers on a stamped addressed envelope.
Mediawatch could not help but giggle at the following headline on the Daily Express’s website:
‘Aaron Ramsey to miss Man City Carabao Cup final because of Arsene Wenger.’
Because Wenger is reportedly not picking Ramsey due to Ramsey’s groin injury, you see.
Get those ‘Groin Injury Out’ posters ready.
More from Planet Sport: Johnny Nic on tennis’ lonely world, mental health and player wellness (Tennis365)
Spend 30 seconds reading Neil Ashton’s piece on Pep Guardiola in Wednesday’s Sun, and you might just pick up on his view. Here’s the short version: ‘bloody whingeing’, ‘all this bitching’, ‘snippy Pep’, ‘sneering Pep’, ‘sarcastic Pep’.
Mediawatch can’t help but think that the whole thing has gone a little far when The Sun also produce an inset image feature headlined as ‘crimesheet’, detailing Guardiola’s various misdemeanors.
It includes only three ‘crimes’: 1) Speaking to Nathan Redmond after a match on the pitch, 2) ‘Theatrically shushing’ Sean Dyche, and 3) Sparking a row with Neil Warnock over bad fouls.
Given that Ashton himself writes that Guardiola ‘was entitled to a right old moan after Cardiff assaulted his players every time they got a chance to give them a whack’, that makes it two alleged offences.
Anyone know the sentence for ‘theatrically shushing’?
Crash and burn
‘Sanchez takes his girlfriend bumper car racing during downtime’ – MailOnline.
Is there anything better than someone desperately filling content space about something that is both a) entirely without value and b) require absolutely no explanation? No, there isn’t:
‘The duo took to the Centre’s Namco Funscape venue to enjoy a go on the dodgems, which are supposedly the fastest in Europe, for only £3 per ride.
‘They opted for separates cars though and Rodriguez filmed the fun as she set her sights on her partner from the outset.
‘Sanchez was on the receiving end of not one but two hits as Rodriguez swung back round to bash into him after making contact in a head-on collision just moments before.’
It’s a minute-by-minute of a dodgem ride taken from an Instagram video. We’ve peaked.
What a man
“Some people are obsessed with me. That can’t be changed. I get booked for the smallest thing” – Diego Costa.
The heart bleeds.
Audacity of huge
From the Daily Star’s football homepage on Wednesday, 11.20am:
‘Liverpool handed HUGE transfer boost as bargain midfield enforcer could become available.’
‘Huge claim made about Chelsea and Liverpool target Christian Pulisic’
‘Toni Kroos to Man Utd: Huge transfer update given on Real Madrid star’
‘Chelsea news: Huge Antonio Conte sack claim made by BT Sport pundit after Barcelona game’
‘Sevilla vs Manchester United: Sky Sports pundit delivers huge Champions League prediction’
The slowness of the news day is directly proportional to the number of times outlets claim to have ‘huge’ stories.
Ask a simple question
‘Why has Cristiano Ronaldo been AXED from Real Madrid team to play Leganes today?’ – Daily Star.
He hasn’t; he’s been given a rest.
Recommended reading of the day
Adam Bate on Barcelona and Lionel Messi.
Ben Fisher with Gareth Ainsworth.
Euan McTear on Paul Dummett.