From Russia With Love: World Cup punditry from prison

Meanwhile, The Sun shines on Kane, Mexico beat German wall, quote of the day and more

Pundit of the Week

That would be Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, former President of Brazil, who is working as an analyst for Sao Paulo's VTV network during the World Cup. Nothing unusual there, sure didn't Bertie Ahern once appear on RTÉ's The Premiership? What is a little different with this one is that Lula is actually in prison as we speak.

From AFP: “This is not a joke,” said Jose Trajano, who hosts the daily program at VTV network on which the ex-president (2003-2010) will opine. Lula was jailed on April 7th and is serving a 12-year sentence for accepting a bribe. Lula “will write down his impressions and send them to us, and we will put them on the screen, in quotation marks, and read them on the air,” said Trajano.

We’re guessing after the draw with Switzerland he concluded Neymar and Co should be behind bars too.

Sculptor tries again to capture Ronaldo

The most disappointing football-related news of the entire month flew in from Madeira International Airport on Monday when it was confirmed that the bronze bust of Cristiano Ronaldo that had been unveiled there last year has been replaced by a new one.


“It is impossible to please the Greeks and Trojans – neither did Jesus please everyone,” said sculptor Emanuel Santos when the first one was shown to the world, the general reaction along ROFL lines, most deciding that it looked a lot more like Niall Quinn than Madeira’s golden boy.

So, Santos was asked to try again and the fruit of his labour has now replaced the original effort. You still couldn’t really say that the new one is the spit of Ronaldo, but Santos is definitely getting closer. So fond, however, had people become of the wacky first one, a petition has been started up on demanding the return of the original bust. “We can not accept in any way its replacement.”

Sign early and sign often.

Quote of the Day

“I missed five penalties on the spin and I was still Diego Armando Maradona.”

Diego Armando Maradona doing his best to comfort Lionel Andres Messi.

By the Numbers

99.6: That’s the percentage of Icelanders who tuned in to watch their game against Argentina on Saturday. If you’re wondering what on earth the rest were up to, Alfred Finnbogason, the fella who got their goal, suggested “the other 0.4 per cent was on the pitch”. That would explain it.

Sun shines on Kane

Yes, you’re reading that right: The Sun actually asked its readers to place their lips on Monday’s front page and ‘Kiss Harry’s Boot For Luck To Get Win’. That was a whole bunch of soggy front pages.

Germany furious as ‘wall’ fails to keep out Mexico

How calm was the reaction in the German press to that defeat by Mexico? Not very. The Berliner Kurier even called the team the “national wimps”, while panic appears to have set in at Bild. “Worst defence in years! An invisible attack! And the midfield was just watching! Against Sweden on Saturday we will be fighting for our survival. One more defeat, and we are out of this World Cup. Out! The party would be over before it has started!” (This is the same Bild that gave nine reasons why Germany would beat Mexico 3-0 before the game).

Rheinische Post, meanwhile, likened the side to “an ageing crooner who continues to warble away his greatest hits, regardless of what happens around him. Ponderous. Arrogant. The defeat was not an accident. It was a pretty sobering stocktaking of the current capabilities.”

There there was Suddeutsche Zeitung’s analysis of Joachim Low’s eyes. “This man looked worried, even though in public he said he was not. His mouth said that. But his eyes said that his mouth maybe was not revealing the truth ... the tournament has started and the first takeaway is that Low’s eyes told the truth.”

The most morto of all the German papers? Possibly Welt am Sonntag after their pre-match front page: “Sorry Mexico, today WE build a wall.” Ooops.

Game a matter of life and death for Wright

Ian Wright, as we know, is a highly patriotic chap who tends to get quite emotional when England are about to embark on a World Cup journey. And ahead of the opener against Tunisia, he used his column in The Sun to send a message to Gareth Southgate’s lads, lest they weren’t similarly patriotically fired up:

“If I had to die on a football pitch I would want to do it playing for England. You should be willing to lay down your life and I wouldn’t forgive any player who didn’t give it their all.”

It brings ‘giving 110 per cent’ to a whole new level.

Hair-raising for Neymar

Predictably enough, Neymar was shredded by a fair chunk of the Brazilian press after that 1-1 draw with Switzerland, most of them somewhat inevitably focussing on his new hairdo, almost as if it was solely responsible for the failure to collect three points. Which it might have been, who knows?

While said hair-do has most commonly being likened to Pot Noodles, the Hora newspaper simply opted to put a cockatoo on their front page with an expletive of some sort preceding Neymar’s name.

It’s not often you’d say ‘poor Neymar’, but maybe this time.

It’s Not Your Grandfather’s Game, Part 462

Jesse Lingard is trademarking his customary goal celebration which involves him making the shape of a J and an L with his hands. As you all know, it’s called the ‘JLingz’.

From The Sun: “It appears the World Cup in Russia will be the perfect platform to show off his own global brand. He has filed for the trademark with the UK Intellectual Property Office so he can use the logo on clothing, footwear and headgear. Filed under the name JLINGZ LTD, he wants to block other traders from using the nickname JLingz.”

Lingard will not, however, be able to prevent other players from doing the JLingz when they score, so the likes of Jake Livermore will be completely free to do so if they are so inclined, although all they’ll be doing, really, is promoting Lingard’s global brand.

Story in a headline

The Daily Mail’s headlines are quite legendary in that they tend to include pretty much the entire story, key-words possibly being a factor here. But it’s be hard to top the one that carried on their website on Monday:

“Bin Laden allegedly devised ‘Brutal, bloody and audacious’ attack on England vs Tunisia at France ‘98 that included blowing up Beckham and shooting Shearer.”

Frankly, we were too exhausted to read on.

When Mesut Just Can’t Win

(as spotted by @GrunnelDude): Phil Neville: “Ozil’s lazy and doesn’t try hard enough!”

Ozil tracks back and is the deepest defender for Mexico’s goal.

Phil Neville: “You’ve got to ask what is Ozil doing back there?!”


When Germany’s Mario Gomez made a seriously weak appeal for a penalty against Mexico, tumbling as if he’d been felled by a lumberjack. Enter the BBC’s Jonathan Pearce:

“He went down there like Super Mario, when a bad computer game player is playing it.”

To which the audience replied: ‘Huh?’