Birthdays of note: Scarf yourself in Timbers green today and toast the 25th birthday of Portland midfielder Sal Sizzo.
Big Important Stories of the Day: The U.S. women played during the wee smalls, over in Japan against Brazil. We already know the result – but we’ll keep that one to ourselves for now. Some of you surely tapped the DVR for this one, being in the wee smalls and all.
RASNoD (Random American Soccer Name of the Day): Pele
Twitter dap: Herculez Gomez (@herculezg), public Tweet to Clint Dempsey: @clint_dempsey what up hommie! Keep doing your thing. I’m going to come out and visit in June.. Europa here I come.
Clint Dempsey (@clint_dempsey) in reply: @herculezg I won’t be here bro. I’ll be back in the states. Also you might have some games with the USMNT man. Put them plans on hold. Ha
What we should all be watching on TV: Barcelona and AC Milan take their UEFA Champions League series back to the Camp Nou following last week’s scoreless draw at the slippery San Siro. A goal for the Italians could change everything. (2:30 pm ET, Fox Soccer Channel). Bayern-Marseille follows (tape delay, 5 p.m. ET, FSC)
Ahead on the blog today*: MLS Panic Quotient, checking up on the U.S. women’s result and (later this afternoon) on those second-leg Champions League quarterfinal results.
PST background noise while blogging today: Everything / anything leading up to today’s Champions League matches.
*Always subject to change; you know how it is
Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]
Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.
Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:
“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”
That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”
[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]
There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?
Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]
I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.
Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.
[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]
Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:
“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.
“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.
“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”
Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.
[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]
The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.