Real Madrid’s Federico Valverde produced one of the all-time classic red cards to prevent a certain goal for Atletico Madrid, so it’s only right we pay homage to some of the greatest examples of, er, gamesmanship.
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Real Madrid emerged victorious in the Spanish Supercopa after beating cross-town rivals Atletico 4-1 on penalties out in Saudi Arabia, following a 0-0 draw.
However, the win very nearly eluded Los Blancos in the final minutes of extra time when Alvaro Morata broke free and charged down on goal.
Thankfully, Fede Valverde was able to make up enough ground on Morata to sacrifice himself by chopping the striker down with a deliberate trip outside of the area.
The tackle saw Valverde shown a straight red card, but it also allowed Real to hold on until the final whistle and subsequently secure the victory via spot-kicks.
The cynical trip actually drew praise from Atleti coach Diego Simeone, who was seen to pat Valverde on the head as the Uruguayan midfielder trudged off the field with five minutes left to play.
Speaking afterwards, Simeone revealed he consoled Valverde — who was later named Man of the Match — by telling him he’d “won the game” for his side with an important act that “anybody would have done” in his position.
It seems like the perfect time to run through some of the greatest examples of such selfless behaviour.
1. Luis Suarez
Perhaps Valverde learned the subtle art from his compatriot, Luis Suarez, who has long dabbled in the dark arts.
Of course, Suarez’s rap sheet is prodigious, but his flagrant, ultimately “match-winning” handball against Ghana in the quarterfinals of the 2010 World Cup definitely stands out.
— Oluwashina Okeleji (@oluwashina) July 2, 2017
2. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Baby-faced he may have been, but even Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was prone to the odd act of wilful 89th-minute malfeasance during his playing days!
3. Gary O’Neil
Hardly the dirtiest of players, but Gary O’Neil did what he felt he had to when QPR took on Derby in the 2014 Championship playoff final at Wembley.
On the hour mark, O’Neil tripped Johnny Russell to deny him a goal-scoring chance and was shown a straight red card for his crime.
Still, the Hoops hung on and ultimately sealed promotion with a dramatic 91st-minute winner from Bobby Zamora.
4. David Luiz
A confident ball-player on his day but that doesn’t mean David Luiz isn’t perfectly willing to stoop to play-acting and debauchery if things aren’t going his way.
But he was just having a laugh, yeah?
5. Sergio Busquets
How could we talk about football’s nefarious nethermen without mentioning Sergio Busquets, Barcelona’s crown prince of underhanded tactics and general annoyance. Stay down until you get that decision.
The ying to Busquets’ yang. Indeed, Real Madrid had their own in-house ruffian in Pepe, who made a habit of raking his studs, gouging and provoking almost every attacker in La Liga for many years.
7. Diego Costa
Diego Costa is fully versed in diving and conniving, and also possesses a temper as thin as rice paper.
8. Sergio Ramos
Sergio Ramos, the man with more career red cards than anybody else in the entire history of Real Madrid, La Liga *and* Europe’s top five leagues is surely deserving of a nod here.
9. Eric Cantona
Eric Cantona’s career was speckled with moments of sublime talent and also the worst flying, studs-up tackle we’ve ever seen on a professional football pitch, ever.
And we’ve not even talking about the kung-fu kick.
10. Willie Young
During the latter stages of the 1980 FA Cup Final, grizzled Arsenal defender Young took agricultural measures to deny 17-year-old West Ham forward Paul Allen his dream of scoring the winner.
Young’s cruel hatchet job also led to the “red card for denying a clear goal-scoring opportunity” law, which has been a mainstay ever since.
Player gets booked for peeking at VAR monitor
As we’ve come to realise over the years, the Polish Ekstraklasa is the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to bizarre, befuddling football silliness.
Amid all the fun and merriment this weekend, Wisla Plock goalkeeper Thomas Dahne picked up one of the strangest yellow cards of the year thus far.
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) January 12, 2020
During his side’s 2-1 win over Piast Gliwice, Dahne attempted to sneak a peek at the referee’s pitchside VAR screen while the official was reviewing footage of an incident, only to end up in the book for unsportsmanlike conduct.
VAR claims yet another victim. That’ll teach him to snoop!
Serie A game delayed due to wonky lines
Hellas Verona beat Genoa on Sunday but not before the start of the match had to be delayed for 15 minutes.
This was after referee Maurizio Mariani ventured out onto the pitch only to notice that the white lines of the 18-yard boxes had not been painted straight.
— FootyForum.com (@GhTiki) January 12, 2020
Genoa confirmed the reason for the delay on Twitter, alerting their followers that kick-off had been set back quarter of an hour to “retrace the lines that denote the penalty areas.”
As and when the game did get under way, Hellas were able to eventually wrap up a 2-1 home win on their freshly corrected pitch.
Guardiola’s luxury car woes
He may be one of the most coveted coaches to graced the game, but it does appear that Pep Guardiola has one huge weakness.
As reported by Marca Buzz, Guardiola has ruined not one, not two, but FOUR expensive cars since he arrived in Manchester by virtue of being an “unfortunate driver.”
— MARCA Buzz (@MARCABuzz) January 13, 2020
The stunning revelations are taken from a new book, “Pep’s City: The Making of a Superteam”, in which it is claimed that the Spanish boss has written off a Mercedes, a Range Rover, a Bentley and a Mini during four years at Manchester City.
“His rearview mirrors do not survive for a long time and he has also filled a diesel Range Rover with gasoline and shattered a silver Bentley,” divulge the two authors, Lu Martin and Pol Ballus.