Radamel Falcao ruled out of the World Cup


Colombia’s World Cup hopes took a huge hit on Tuesday as it was confirmed that star striker Radamel Falcao will miss the tournament in Brazil this summer.

Falcao, 28, injured his ACL back in January whilst playing for AS Monaco in a French Cup match and hasn’t played since. He was included in Colombia’s 30-man squad but when it was trimmed to 23, his injury meant he didn’t make the cut.

The former Atletico Madrid hotshot is one of the best strikers in world soccer and his confirmed absence is a big blow for not only the South American nation but also the tournament as a whole. He scored nine goals in Colombia’s 14 qualifying games and was a huge reason why Jose Peckerman’s side will be taking part in their first World Cup since 1998.

Speaking at a press conference in Buenos Aries, Peckerman explained that Colombia have Falcao every possible chance to play.

“We can say to all of Colombia that he did more than was within his power to play,” Peckerman said. “He deserved the right for us to wait and keep the hope alive.”

After being named in Colombia’s preliminary squad, Falcao has been in a race against time to be fit and will now sit out alongside plenty of other top players.

Ricarrdo Montolivo and Luis Montes both broke their legs last weekend for Italy and Mexico respectively, while the likes of Kevin Strootman, Nico Krancjar, Rafael van der Vaart, Victor Valdes, Thiago Alcantara, Theo Walcott, Kyle Walker, Andros Townsend, Ilkay Gundogan and Alvaro Saborio will also miss the tournament through injury.

Falcao’s absence is arguably the most high profile but Colombia have known his involvement was in jeopardy for many months. In Group C alongside Greece, Ivory Coast and Japan, the South Americans will still fancy their chances of advancing past the group stages this summer.

It’s just a shame that the man they call El Tigre won’t grace the tournament, as another star name misses out.

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.

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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.