Borussia Dortmund v FC Bayern Muenchen - UEFA Champions League Final

UEFA hands Jurgen Klopp one-match ban for outburst against Napoli

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After being dismissed from the sidelines during last Wednesday’s 2-1 loss at Napoli, most expected Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp to be suspended for next Tuesday’s visit from Olympique Marseille. Today that ban became official, with Klopp’s outburst in the first half of last week’s Champions League opener set to sideline him for BVB’s second group stage match.

The incident happened in the first half after Neven Subotic was delaying being waved back onto the field after receiving treatment for a cut. After Gonzalo Higuaín headed home a Juan Camilo Zuñiga cross as Subotic was running on, Klopp went off:

Again, thanks, KickTV.

As he conceded after the match, Klopp’s display was idiotic (his word: “pathetic”), with the stupidity functioning on three levels. First, while it’s understandable that a coach would need some outlet to vent their frustrations, the fourth official shouldn’t be abused for a decision the head referee controls. Stand at the edge of the area and burst a lung making your case to the person in the middle, but leave the fourth official alone.

Second, while we could lean on caveats about the heat of the moment justifying heightened emotions, it doesn’t. Look at the way Klopp is towering over, intimidating the smaller man, somebody who’s not engaging in the confrontation. For a few, ill-advised moments, Klopp became a stereotypical, over-aggressive jock, something he undoubtedly regrets. Nobody wants to think of themselves as a bully.

And finally, the outburst has cost him more than a game-and-a-half’s time guiding his team. When you add up the suspension and the time Klopp missed in Napoli, he’ll be sidelined for nearly 160 minutes – just under 30 percent of Dortmund’s group stage.

Perhaps BVB will be fine without him, but no outburst is worth that risk. In the heat of the moment, it’s difficult to find the needed restraint, but that’s part of his job. As Klopp would surely agree, he needs to be better than this.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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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?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

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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.