The uneven start to Juninho Pernambucano’s Major League Soccer career took an unexpected twist on Wednesday, though you’re going to read two distinct interpretations of this incident as it’s discussed in the coming days. Some people are going to focus on Juninho’s transgression. Others will dwell on the piece of impromptu theater Jimmy Nielsen performed at Red Bull Arena.
Let’s set the scene. It’s late in Harrison, and for almost 80 minutes, the Red Bulls have been trying to equalize Sporting’s 13th minute opener. Ahead of a late goal kick, Juninho goes to flip the ball back to Nielsen and decides to put a little extra on it. The ball ends up nailing Nielsen right below the collarbone, earning the Red Bull midfielder a straight red card.
As a television lawyer might say, those facts are undisputed. The different interpretations start with Juninho’s intentions. A sympathetic sort might think Juninho just tried pop the ball up by coming down underneath it. When he got too much of the ball, he inadvertently fires his “chip” into Nielsen’s chest.
That’s a reach given Juninho’s skill level. What’s more likely: That he hit the ball at Nielsen out of frustration with the keeper’s time-wasting? Or he mishit the ball and it happened to end up in the guy’s chest?
Given Nielsen’s response, you can see some people wishing the latter were true. The guy collapses, rolls around as if the ball nailed him in the face. It sure doesn’t look that way in the replay, though Nielsen does take Juninho’s attempt to avoid time-wasting and turns it against him. His act gets Juninho tossed and leaves the clock running for nearly two minutes, time Allen Chapman thankfully added at the end.
No doubt, whether he intended it or not, that’s a red card for Juninho. But seeing those shots of Nielsen lying on his side, eyes closed as if he just got George John’d, you can’t help but feel a little frustrated by the farce.
Juninho was going to get red carded, and any time you spend on the ground is just going to get tacked on at the end. Just get up already.
Here’s the footage:
After scoring five goals against Newcastle United, Sergio Aguero may have to wait a bit of time to get back to scoring in the Premier League.
The Manchester City striker lasted just 25 minutes in Argentina’s World Cup qualifier on Thursday, as he was stretchered off with a hamstring injury.
Aguero underwent testing in Argentina, and told the local media “I think I’m going to be out for a month.”
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Manchester City and Argentina teammate Nicolas Otamendi said Aguero was in tears in the dressing room, and some reports have penned the injury as a torn hamstring.
If Aguero were to be ruled out for a month, he would miss City’s Champions League clash vs. Sevilla, as well as the massive Manchester derby away at United on October 25.
To make matters worse for City supporters, David Silva was forced off after just ten minutes while playing for Spain today. Silva took a harsh challenge from behind, and hobbled off with what looked to be an ankle injury. If Silva’s injury ends up being more than just a knock, City could be without their two most important players in the attack.
Mario Gotze could be out of action until 2016 after picking up a groin injury on international duty.
The Bayern Munich midfielder suffered a tendon tear in his abductor muscle while stretching for a ball in Germany’s 1-0 loss to Ireland in EURO qualifiers on Thursday. He was taken off in the 35th minute.
Ruled out for 10-12 weeks, Gotze is likely to miss the rest of the first half of the season for Bayern. Their last league match of 2015 is on December 19, which is 11 weeks away. The Bundesliga then goes on winter break, with Bayern’s next match not until January 23.
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Gotze will miss both of Bayern’s upcoming Champions League matches against Arsenal, which is good news for the Gunners as they are in desperate need of a result.
However, Arjen Robben is back in training and will make his return to action within the coming weeks. After starting the Bundesliga seasons with eight wins out of eight, Robben’s return would add just another weapon to Pep Guardiola’s dominant attack.
Robben has not played since being injured in early September while playing for the Netherlands, and could feature for Bayern against Werder Bremen next week.