Around the world in 12 sto­ries

Tube train gym­nas­tics, Bay­ern’s award-win­ning cat and the lat­est in­stal­ment of ‘Greek foot­ball is nuts’ – it’s been an­other event­ful month all across the globe

FourFourTwo - - CONTENTS -

1 AR­MANI: FASH­ION KING Ar­gentina Men­doza

Goal­keeper Franco Ar­mani got a spe­cial treat af­ter a man-of-the-match dis­play in River Plate’s Su­per­copa vic­tory over bit­ter ri­vals Boca Ju­niors, a showdown played on neu­tral ter­ri­tory.

Not only was Ar­mani given a Burger King crown as part of the award’s new spon­sor­ship deal, he even got to wear it live on tele­vi­sion dur­ing a post-game in­ter­view. Next time he’s in dan­ger of win­ning the hon­our, it might be worth let­ting in a last-minute goal, to save a bit of em­bar­rass­ment ....

2

“THIS IS YOUR FAULT, PEP!” Eng­land Lon­don

So ex­cit­ing has been Manch­ester City’s foot­ball this sea­son that they’re peel­ing fans off the ceil­ing – lit­er­ally.

One of their sup­port­ers got a lit­tle car­ried away when he boarded a Tube train ahead of the Cit­i­zens’ clash with Ar­se­nal, swing­ing from the handrails while a woman covered her eyes in horror af­ter get­ting a rather un­wanted close-up of his rear end.

It could have been worse: at least it wasn’t a Blue moon.

3 TOP CAT Turkey Istanbul

When Bay­ern Mu­nich launched a poll to de­cide the star player at Be­sik­tas, there was a clear vic­tor: Wag­ner 3%, Muller 6%, Thi­ago 6%, cat 85%.

The fe­line took the honours af­ter in­vad­ing the pitch dur­ing the second half, earn­ing Be­sik­tas a UEFA fine for ‘in­suf­fi­cient or­gan­i­sa­tion’. Die Roten swiftly mocked up a pho­to­graph of a six-foot cat scor­ing in the 3-1 win: the tabby clearly learned its skill set from Cris­tiano Ron­aldo, so ex­pect it to de­clare it­self the best cat in his­tory.

4 DEBUCHY 1 FEKIR 0 France Lyon

Na­bil Fekir kicked off a riot when he scored Lyon’s fifth goal in Novem­ber’s 5-0 win at ri­vals Saint-eti­enne – tak­ing off his shirt and show­ing it to the home fans, who promptly stormed the pitch.

In trib­ute, Lyon fans cre­ated a gi­ant tifo of a shirt-wield­ing Fekir for the re­turn fix­ture, but this time he didn’t score, and the hosts were de­nied by a late Mathieu Debuchy equaliser. Ar­se­nal’s fans hope to see a 50-foot Debuchy tifo next time the sides meet.

5

SKID MARKS Spain Madrid

It’s been an odd few weeks for Ser­gio Ramos. First he turned up at Real Madrid train­ing in full Peaky Blin­ders garb driv­ing a clas­sic Seat 600, an early birth­day gift from his brother.

Days later, he had his own Gary Lineker mo­ment against Eibar, briefly leav­ing the pitch af­ter be­ing caught short. “He s**t him­self a bit, so went to the bath­room,” Zine­dine Zi­dane tact­fully re­vealed. Cheers Zizou!

6 RISE LIKE A FENIX (CHICKEN) Uruguay Mon­te­v­ideo

Fenix have been banned from their home sta­dium for one match – af­ter a direc­tor kicked a chicken at a game.

The Uruguayan out­fit were host­ing Rac­ing when fans threw two chick­ens onto the pitch, painted in Rac­ing’s colours, in a dig at the vis­i­tors. The joke went wrong when unim­pressed direc­tor Gas­ton Ale­gari strode onto the play­ing sur­face, boot­ing one of the birds high into the air and off the play­ing sur­face. The in­ci­dent sparked rage from an­i­mal rights groups: it was a need­less fowl.

7

A SPIKY AF­FAIR Turkey Istanbul

Fener­bahce-galatasaray is no­to­ri­ously feisty, and one Fener fan was tak­ing no chances: paint­ing his head blue and turn­ing up at the match with spikes stick­ing out of his face.

Pre­sum­ably the spikes were de­signed to ward off at­tacks from Galatasaray fans, although they also stopped birds from land­ing on his head: a peren­nial prob­lem in Istanbul. Prob­a­bly.

8 DI­JON RO­BOT IS THE MUS­TARD France Di­jon

How do you make Di­jon against Caen more in­ter­est­ing? By let­ting a ro­bot take the kick-off, of course.

It gets weirder: as part of ‘Geek Day’, the pre-match ca­pers started when an­other ma­chine trun­dled across the pitch, com­plete with a screen show­ing live im­ages of a smil­ing fan sat at home, watch­ing events on Face­time.

Fan (still smil­ing, as if in­structed at gun­point) was given a close-up view as the ro­bot kicked off be­fore dab­bing in cel­e­bra­tion. Ab­so­lutely bizarre.

9 HAT TRICK Eng­land Bolton

Pre­ston’s fans wear bowler hats once a year, as part of the club’s Gen­try Day. This year it was for a match at Bolton, when striker Sean Maguire cel­e­brated a goal by don­ning a bowler him­self.

The tra­di­tion is all be­cause of Alan Ball’s dad, who de­scribed Pre­ston fans as ‘gen­try’ dur­ing a spell as the club’s man­ager. If TV ev­i­dence is any­thing to go by, some take a day off from be­ing gen­try when­ever they play Black­pool…

10 GARFIELD SAYS NO Ger­many Bre­men

Garfield has al­ways hated Mon­days, and so do Werder Bre­men sup­port­ers af­ter the con­tro­ver­sial in­tro­duc­tion of Mon­day Night Foot­ball to the Bun­desliga.

MNF may have been a thing for 26 years in Eng­land, but the Ger­mans are hav­ing none of it, so Bre­men fans un­veiled a Garfield ‘We Hate Mon­days’ ban­ner be­fore a match with Cologne.

Ger­man TV should just do what Sky did: in­tro­duce some half-time sumo wrestling, and Andy Gray wield­ing a VHS ma­chine. They will soon be con­vinced.

11

WARN­ING: MAY CON­TAIN NUTS Greece Thes­sa­loniki

FFT was be­gin­ning to won­der if Greek foot­ball was still nuts: it had been quite a while since the league was sus­pended be­cause of some mad/vi­o­lent in­ci­dent.

But in a three-way bat­tle for the ti­tle, PAOK’S en­counter with Olympiakos was called off af­ter vis­it­ing man­ager Os­car Gar­cia was hit by a toi­let roll. PAOK then faced their other ti­tle ri­val, AEK, and the match was aban­doned when PAOK’S owner stormed the pitch while armed with a gun. Out­come: the league was sus­pended (again). Yep, still nuts.

12

FOAL SCORER Ger­many Freiburg

Thomas Muller knew who to thank af­ter scor­ing for Bay­ern at Freiburg. “The first foal of the sea­son was born last night,” he said. “It fired me up.”

Muller’s wife is a for­mer eques­trian ace and re­cently claimed that the Raumdeuter was re­ceiv­ing top tips from horse Filou in a bid to get back among the goals. It worked, but team-mates wish he’d stop neigh­ing now...

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