Distinctive haircut? Check. Multiple national player of the year awards? Check. Feared attacker with a vicious shot and the freedom to roam all over the pitch? Check, check, check. Gareth Bale and Marek Hamšik would be able to reflect upon the many things they have in common were they not lining up against each other for Wales and Slovakia in tomorrow’s Euro 2016 opener in Bordeaux. The two players — topknot-sporting Bale, 26, and mohican-crested Hamsik, 28 — inspired their respective countries to qualify for a European Championship finals for the first time and the outcome of the match may boil down to which of the two players comes out on top.
A piece on Gareth Bale and Marek Hamšik, who face off in Bordeaux on Saturday. Read it here.
Related link: Wales fans’ journey reaches Euro 2016 destination
From AVB to Zlatan, Newcastle to Donetsk, Football Further is proud to present its third annual compilation of the year’s best French football quotes.
“Yesterday, I make one tackle and all everybody speak about is this tackle. Nobody speaks about the 50-yard pass that kills [Florent] Balmont and causes a red card for ‘im.”
– Replete with some elaborate eyebrow-waggling and a healthy dose of Gallic shrugging, Joey Barton‘s attempts to ingratiate himself with the Marseille media become an instant YouTube classic
“Eden Hazard’s English is catastrophic. I asked him: ‘Are you happy with your transfer?’ He said: ‘I don’t understand!'”
– Romelu Lukaku on his new Chelsea team-mate
“It was the feeling I had with the coach. He said he trusted me, but he didn’t let me play. He said I was too young. He said: ‘Your time will come.’ It didn’t come. Even though he’s had a 25-year career and despite the fact he’s the boss, my objective was to play … I’m impatient. When I want something, I’ll do anything to get it.”
– Paul Pogba crosses Sir Alex Ferguson, and lives to tell the tale
“The only thing I miss is in the changing room. I can’t understand all the jokes and it’s frustrating. French is more difficult than I thought. I’m trying to take my lessons very seriously. I listen to them for at least half an hour each day. The other day I watched a film in French, with English subtitles. It was Ne le dis à personne [‘Tell No One’], which was a great film. I’m going to do it again.”
– Joe Cole may have left Lille with a sub-GCSE level of French, but he is now a leading authority on the films of Guillaume Canet
“I could become a doctor!”
– Abou Diaby tries to put a positive spin on all the medical vocabulary he has acquired during his time in and out of the Arsenal treatment room
“I accept that you can ask questions about his sporting performances … But when I hear that he could be dangerous for the concept of the group, I feel like we’re trying to bring a wolf into the sheep pen. He’s been a part of the group since the start. He dropped out due to injury and then loss of form. Don’t make him out to be a wolf, because he isn’t one.”
– Laurent Blanc tells the media not to cry wolf after handing Yoann Gourcuff a place in his preliminary squad
“Shut your face! Shut your face!”
– Samir Nasri celebrates his goal in the opening game with England by thanking the gentlemen of the French press for their support
“There was a bit of a slanging match in the changing room.”
– Olivier Giroud lets the cat out of the bag about the row that erupted after France’s shock 2-0 loss to Sweden
“Go fuck yourself! Go fuck your mother, you son of a bitch! There, now you can write that I’m badly brought up.”
– Such a nice boy, that Samir Nasri – lashing out at a journalist following Les Bleus‘ quarter-final elimination by Spain
“We’ve told them to be vigilant and not to say anything that could hurt the group.”
– French Football Federation press officer Philippe Tournon, prior to the tournament, on the instructions given to France’s players about how to handle the media
“KIEV — Spain confirmed their status as one of the greatest national teams in football history by overwhelming Italy 4-0 in Sunday’s Euro 2012 final in Kiev to retain their European crown.”
“DONETSK, Ukraine — Spain reached their third consecutive major tournament final after overcoming neighbours Portugal 4-2 on penalties in the first Euro 2012 semi-final in Donetsk on Wednesday.”
Read my AFP match report here. I’ve also written a piece on Spain’s problems in attack (Fàbregas penalty brings Spain full circle), and an article on how Portugal can be proud of their achievements at Euro 2012 (Pride and positivity as Portugal bow out).
“The Manchester City midfielder began the tournament with a man-of-the-match performance in the 1-1 draw with England, but went home in disgrace after a foul-mouthed rant at a journalist from AFP. A talented but confrontational member of the squad, Nasri’s dwindling influence mirrored France’s fading performances and his off-pitch indiscretions mean his place in the national set-up is now in jeopardy.”
My piece on why Samir Nasri’s behaviour during Euro 2012 has put his international career at risk, including details of his mixed-zone outburst at one of my colleagues from AFP, can be read here. There’s also a more general analysis of France’s performance at the tournament here.
“DONETSK, Ukraine — Spain moved a step closer to an unprecedented treble of consecutive major international honours by beating France 2-0 in Donetsk on Saturday to reach the Euro 2012 semi-finals.”
“DONETSK, Ukraine — In 2010, it started with a headline in L’Équipe. Two years on, France’s leading sports newspaper has lifted the lid on fresh tension in the French squad at Euro 2012.”
I wrote a piece for AFP on the old demons threatening to re-emerge in the France camp. You can read it here.
“DONETSK, Ukraine — Wayne Rooney scored his first goal at an international tournament for eight years as England beat Ukraine 1-0 on Tuesday, but his performance, like his team’s, was laboured.”
My take for AFP on Wayne Rooney’s England comeback can be read here.
“KHARKIV, Ukraine — The Netherlands’ players hinted that their Euro 2012 campaign had been undermined by changing-room disunity after their participation in the tournament ended with a 2-1 loss to Portugal.”
“DONETSK, Ukraine – France’s players admitted to frustration after failing to turn their dominance into victory against England in their Euro 2012 opener but took heart from their reaction to falling behind.”
My reaction piece on France’s 1-1 draw with England on Monday can be read here.