Wednesday's big stories
The international break debacle continues unabated
Sevilla's match with Barcelona - due to be played this weekend - has been called off. The reason? The ill-advised international break in the midst of a pandemic.
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The basis of the cancellation was, as Sevilla say, a number of players would not have been able to play due to the elongated nature of the break.
Here is the Sevilla statement:
"The National Sports Council (CSD) has today confirmed that it has accepted La Liga's request to postpone the match between Sevilla FC and FC Barcelona which was due to be played on Saturday at the Sánchez-Pizjuán. The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) is able to appeal should it wish to do so.
"In view of the situation, Sevilla FC wishes to inform that the season ticket registration for the game has been suspended pending a new date for the game. The registration to attend the first game in the UEFA Champions League group stage against RB Salzburg will take place this Friday.
"La Liga had asked the CSD to postpone the match due to the fact that South American players for both sides would not be in contention to play as they would only be arriving back from international duty a few hours before the game. The Royal Spanish Football Federation's Competition Committee had previously refused to postpone the match, but the decision has been overturned by the National Sports Council (CSD)."
So, Liga asked RFEF to rearrange the match - and Villarreal’s clash against Alaves - but they rejected this proposal as they did not feel it constituted "a force majeure cause for the suspension of a match”. Resultantly, Liga took their complaint to High Council for Sports (CSD), who ruled in their favour. Liga may be playing politics here getting matches postponed that *could* have been played - albeit with slightly weakened teams - but what is abundantly clear is that this international break has been a complete and utter shambles.
The best course of action during a pandemic would be to cease playing international matches.
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Depay is one of the world's best
Barcelona lost the world's best this summer: Lionel Messi. Yet, in Memphis Depay, they may have landed themselves the near-perfect replacement. To be clear, one player will never be able to replace Messi. His talent is too deep and his contribution too vast.
But, given the fact they are broke, it is a near-miracle that Barca have managed to sign a player of Depay's calibre.
The Dutchman bagged a hat-trick in a 6-1 demolition of Turkey in their World Cup Group G qualifying match. In isolation it would be impressive but contextualised alongside his performances across 2021 then it is not hyperbole to say he is approaching becoming one of the top five players in the world.
The 27-year-old is hitting his peak years and is already in venerable company among his country's leading scorers.
Pique nearly quit Barca because of Pep
Gerard Pique is Mr Barcelona. He has been touted as a potential future president of the club. Put simply, it seems like it would take a lot for Pique to consider quitting the club. But consider it he did back in 2012.
The centre-half said in an interview with La Sotana that the relationship between Guardiola and the whole squad was strained but he felt a particular point of focus.
"We reached a moment of tension with him, not just me but the dressing room in general," Pique told La Sotana.
I start dating Shakira and the relationship with him [Guardiola] changed. Now, the relationship is perfect. But there was a lot of pressure on me then. I felt like I had to do everything in training perfectly. I had a lot of pressure and if there was one moment I was thinking of leaving it was 2011/12.
The former Manchester United defender did frame the tension around the rivalry between Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid and Barca - a rivalry he said that left the whole club worn out.
"The Mourinho issue wore us out a lot," Pique added. "Pep wanted absolute control of everything that happens."
Guardiola was so worn out, in fact, that he left the club in the summer of 2012 to take a sabbatical. At least Pep was chilled on said sabbatical in New York.
IN THE CHANNELS
Power up the Denmark hype machine.
The aforementioned Depay's sip of water here as Louis van Gaal goes off on one is a work of art.
More international football. It is exhausting stuff just watching, never mind traipsing halfway across the world to play three games in a week.
Andi Thomas - whose request to have his Warm-Up postponed has been denied - is here begrudgingly to take you through another day of the never-ending international break.
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