The Warm-Up: Hazard Fever hits Madrid, but fans chant for Mbappe
Eden Hazard draws a crowd of 50,000 to the Bernabeu, but are they satisfied? Meanwhile, Phil Neville gets stuck into some spectacular World Cup beef.
FRIDAY'S BIG HEADLINES
1. Hazard Fever hits Madrid
At a club where greed and wealth are guiding principles it’s hardly surprising that this entitlement seeps out from the stands. But those in attendance were hardly complaining that they had signed Hazard. The crowd arraigned in the Bernabeu was reported to be the biggest for an unveiling since Cristiano Ronaldo rocked up 10 years ago. They bellowed for him to produce a symbolic gesture of fealty to his new employers and he obliged by kissing the badge, resulting a spate of smartphones being hurled to the floor across West London.
Yes, Hazard Fever has reached Madrid, according to AS, while the front page of Marca depicted a full stand of Madrid fans applauding their new hero. It’s no wonder they were so fulsome in their praise of their new record signing, as the previous holder of that title seemed like he was trolling them directly. At the same time as Hazard was being presented to his new public, Gareth Bale posted a picture of himself playing golf.
The irony was so heavy it briefly warped spacetime in the Madrid metropolitan area.
While Bale was being tone deaf, Hazard struck all the right notes in his press conference.
"I'm going to try to become the best player in the world, but first I wanted to be in the best team in the world," he said, in a humble tone at odds with his new surroundings. "I'm not a Galactico, but I'll try to be, for now I'm Eden Hazard."
And that's good enough for now. Except for the fans who want Mbappe of course.
2. VAR, what it is good for?
Group C of the Women’s World Cup was blown wide open yesterday by a stunning match in Montpellier. After a defeat to Italy in their opening game, Australia looked to be heading home when they went 2-0 down to Brazil. Marta scored a record 16th goal in World Cup finals from the penalty spot before Cristiane bagged her fourth of the 2019 finals with a booming header.
Incredibly, though, Australia battled back to win 3-2 and condemn Brazil to their first group-stage defeat since 1995, all with the aid of another controversial VAR call. Australia lumped the ball forward to Sam Kerr, who was about a metre offside. Brazil defender Monica was clearly aware of the threat and tried to head the ball away, only to direct it into her own goal. Incredibly, though, the officials decided Kerr was not interfering with play.
Work that one out.
3. Phil Neville's Twitter beef
Head coach Phil Neville talks to journalists during an England press conferenceGetty Images
You may have noticed this already but The Warm-Up spends an unhealthy amount of time on Twitter. As such it is well placed to dish out some advice about navigating this widely-despised but obsessively used hellsite. The three golden rules are as follows:
1. Love Island memes are the most wholesome content on the internet and should be appreciated at all times.
2. Mute anyone who follows Ricky Gervais or unironically uses the term ‘snowflake’
3. Never, and we mean never, get yourself drawn into an argument with someone who has an egg as their avatar. They are either a men’s rights activist, a Putin-commanded Russian bot from a St Petersburg troll factory, or a fitness periodisation specialist with an axe to grind.
On the eve of tonight’s World Cup showdown with Argentina, Lionesses boss Phil Neville has fallen foul of the third golden rule after engaging in some spectacular beef with fitness coach Raymond Verheijen.
The Dutchman claimed that the Women’s World Cup should be played behind “closed curtains”, as the level of play was “shocking”. He also said on his favourite social media platform:
" One of the reasons is that most teams are coached by clueless left overs from the men’s game rather than by the best female coaches."
Verheijen’s outburst drew a withering response from P Nev.
" That probably is aimed at me, because when I was at Manchester United [on the coaching staff], he used to have a go at David Moyes. He has a go at everyone. He is a keyboard warrior. He sits and talks a fantastic game, but I never see him working in top-level football. That is why he can’t get employed."
“We can all talk a good game. Raymond, go out there and get a job. Go win a Champions League, go and win a Premier League. That’s what Wenger does, the people he is having a go at. He’s a keyboard warrior. It’s why he has an egg next to his name on Twitter.”
IN OTHER NEWS
A young Stockport County fan got a surprise when manager Jim Gannon turned up at his door to drive him to his prom night.
And he even brought the National League North trophy round for a laugh too.
HEROES AND ZEROES
Hero: Santi Cazorla
Fresh off his return to the Spanish national side, the good news keeps rolling in for Santi Cazorla, who has signed a new one-year contract with Villarreal after rebuilding his career spectacularly at his first club. Despite having a foot which looks like it’s been constructed by a Neapolitan alchemist from the early 19th century, Cazorla has more than earned his new deal. It’s just a shame Villarreal didn’t announce it like his first one:
Zero: Denis Suarez
Speaking of Spanish midfielders with links to Villarreal and Arsenal, and forgiving that incredibly laboured segue, Denis Suarez has come out of hibernation to explain why things never really happened for him at the Emirates this season. Describing an injury in his second game against BATE Borisov, Suarez told Cadena Ser: “I wasn't comfortable. I don't think I was even at 50 per cent. After 15 days of being at Arsenal, I wasn't right. From the 16th I wasn't even at 50 per cent.”
Yeah, that won't help.
England take on Argentina at the World Cup on a Friday night. We’ll have live text commentary on that one, but before that there’s Japan v Scotland and Jamaica v Italy. Alternatively, for a grass court tennis fix, you can watch our coverage of WTA Nottingham from 11am on Eurosport 2.