The Champions League final understandably dominates the newspapers on Friday – although the Daily Mail‘s back page and first three pages of sports coverage concern the cricket. Yawn.
By the time they do get around to previewing Saturday’s showpiece, they grant a double-page spread to Dominic King’s two excellent articles on Sadio Mane and Liverpool owner John W. Henry. Having said that, the entire top half of both pages is dedicated to pictures of Cristiano Ronaldo training.
This just in: he has quite strong legs. Or, to put it another way: ‘You’re so vein! Ronaldo ready to muscle out Reds’.
You see, Ronaldo ‘is in phenomenal shape’, has ‘incredible muscle tone’, ‘prominent veins’ and ‘some remarkably muscular legs’.
Neil Ashton takes a different slant in his preview for The Sun. His focus is not on Liverpool, but on a team who are on the brink of confirming themselves as ‘the greatest club side of all time’.
‘Real Madrid are just 90 minutes from mastering the most difficult, the most challenging, the most arduous competition in European club football for a third successive season.
‘A hat-trick of Champions League successes would set Zinedine Zidane’s side apart. Better than the Real Madrid side inspired by Alfredo Di Stefano, who won the European Cup five times in a row when the competition launched in the 1950s.
‘Better than the Liverpool teams who dominated the competition in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when they triumphed over Borussia Monchengladbach, Bruges, Real and Roma.
‘Better, even, than the Barcelona side coached by Frank Rijkaard when they beat Arsenal in 2006 and then refined by Pep Guardiola in 2009 and 2011.
‘They were all outstanding but the pressure placed on Real’s players at the start of each season is extraordinary.’
Would this be the same Real Madrid side who have supplemented their three Champions League titles in four seasons with just one La Liga title and one Copa del Rey in that time? The same one that finished 17 points behind Barcelona in La Liga this season? That one?
The Real Madrid side that won the European Cup for five successive seasons in the 1950s won La Liga in two of those campaigns. ‘Better than’ them?
The Liverpool side that won the European Cup four times from 1977 to 1984 won Division One six times out of eight in that period. ‘Better than’ them?
The Barcelona side that won the Champions League three times from 2006 to 2011 won La Liga four times out of six in that period. ‘Better, even, than’ them?
Poor Ajax don’t even get a look in. Because’s Real possible three consecutive Champions Leagues clearly trumps their three consecutive European Cups, even if they won Eredivisie in two of those three seasons too.
But this is purely a subjective matter. It is an opinion that Mediawatch disagrees with, but an opinion nonetheless.
Still, it’s funny to think that ‘these boys could be the greatest of all time’ when Ashton wrote that ‘these boys’ were ‘made to look like old men’ by Tottenham in November. ‘Real Madrid, Champions League winners in each of the past two seasons, have run their race,’ that article told us.
Six months sure is a long time in football.
Stab in the dark
The back page of The Sun brings news of Mauricio Pochettino’s new Tottenham contract (remember the scaremongering just over a week ago?), as well as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang talking about Arsene Wenger.
We say talking, we actually mean sharpening his knife. For Aubameyang ‘stabbed Arsene Wenger in the back’ by saying Arsenal had “stagnated” under his management.
They finished fourth and won the FA Cup in 2013/14, third and won the FA Cup in 2014/15, second with no trophies in 2015/16, fifth with an FA Cup in 2016/17 and sixth with no trophies in 2017/18. ‘Stabbed in the back’ is not a synonym for ‘stating facts’.
The Daily Mirror have an exclusive interview with Thomas Muller. Sounds interesting.
‘Thomas Muller believes Mo Salah should beat Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to win the Ballon d’Or,’ reads the first paragraph. A headline of ‘Muller: Ballon d’Or for Mo if they win’ leaves us in no doubt as to what Muller is saying. There is no grey area here, no middle ground: Mo Salah should win the Ballon d’Or if Liverpool win the Champions League.
But what is it Muller has actually said? Surely the Mirror have not bagged the exclusive interview just to twist his quotes?
“I think that Mo Salah was very impressive. Maybe if Liverpool can win the Champions League title, he’s a big candidate.”
Emery little Christmas
But the Daily Mirror newspaper can only wish to be as perceptive as the Daily Mirror website. They ‘spotted’ five things from Unai Emery’s first visit to Arsenal’s training ground.
So what did they notice? That his English is actually pretty good? That he is not Arsene Wenger? That he looks a little bit like Nicolas Cage?
Well, Jake Polden spotted that ‘he’s raring to go’, that he met Laurent Koscielny, that ‘he’s already making arrangements’, that he ‘was only too happy to get to work’, and that he ‘was beaming from ear to ear’.
Thank f*** someone was around to tell us that someone seemed quite happy about their well-paid new job.
‘Right,’ said Fred
Over at Manchester Evening News, there is a live transfer blog to run. Which means even the smallest thing is blown out of proportion. They do have a knack for that.
An update at 10.42 promises huge news: Transfer target Fred is ‘starting to write in English’. By which they mean his latest Instagram post features a Brazilian phrase translated into English at the bottom. Which is all well and good, but:
He was doing that as far back as October.
It is not ‘another ‘development’ that’ll no doubt get United fans excited’. It is something incredibly inconsequential that you are trying to use to generate traffic. Putting inverted quote marks around the word ‘development’ only makes it worse.
The next update on that blog – headlined ‘Manchester United transfer news LIVE Fred Man Utd and Alex Sandro updates’ – is a weather forecast from Kiev. It must be ‘spitting’. Because Jamie Carragher is there.
Do you get it? DO YOU?
Ask a simple question…
‘Does he only think about his haircuts?’ – Denmark boss Age Hareide on Paul Pogba.
‘No’ – Sane people on Age Hareide on Paul Pogba.
Non-sequitur of the day
‘Jurgen Klopp is greeted at Kiev airport with a cake, but many fans are anxious about making it to Ukraine’ – Daily Mail.
Terrible headline of the day
‘CHICKS IN KIEV: The Liverpool and Real Madrid Wags set to light up Champions League final’ – The Sun online.
The article is precisely as bad as you fear it is.
Recommended reading of the day
Rob Davies on the dangers of ticket touting.
Michael Cox on the Champions League final.
Dominic King with Sadio Mane.