Miguel Herrera speaks of the “wonderful pressure” of Mexico’s clash with Netherlands


Miguel Herrera, Mexico’s charismatic manager, the man who has captivated viewers with his passionate displays on the touchline, seems wonderfully pragmatic when speaking about Sunday’s Round of 16 clash between Netherlands and Mexico.

“It seems to me that this is one of those wonderful pressures,” he said of today’s upcoming match. “You have to enjoy it, go through it, live it and enjoy it if we achieve it.”

Herrera’s attitude is all the more refreshing when you consider Mexico’s recent history in the first stage of the knockout rounds. The last time Mexico made the final eight was in 1986, when the tournament was played on their own soil. After being banned from the 1990 World Cup, Mexico has successfully reached the knockout phase in the last six tournaments…only to bow out each time.

Of course, many thought Mexico might not even make it to Brazil this time around. El Tri only secured their playoff against New Zealand thanks to a wonderful bit of irony, with the U.S. scoring late against Panama to put Mexico through.

Under Herrera, though, the team have very nearly undergone a renaissance – even Javier Hernández is scoring goals once more. But Mexico’s spine has been realigned, with the vast majority of the team hailing from the domestic league. Herrera has created a cohesive unit, and its strength is perhaps explained in the manager’s own description of his team’s style:

I have my own [style] that has given me good results. The screams on the bench, everything that we live, what we have on the bench with the boys. That is why the boys have that attitude, the running, the fighting, the will to do things.

Of course, some would say that Holland, too, has their own attitude. Which will prevail today?

Cisse arrested in sex tape investigation

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Former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse is embroiled in a bizarre investigation into the extortion of a sex tape.

The 34-year-old French striker has been arrested by French police who have confirmed that are investigating attempts to bribe another international footballer.

[ MORE: Klinsmann sends Johnson home ]

Unconfirmed reports from France claim that the individual in question is France and Lyon midfielder Mathieu Valbuena, a former teammate of Cisse at both Marseille and with the French national team.

According to Reuters news agency, Cisse was questioned because he was familiar with the people involved and in total four individuals were arrested as it is alleged they plotted to ask for money from Valbuena for the sex tape to not be released. It is unclear if the tape is of Valbeuna and his partner Fanny Lafon, or if other individuals are involved.

[ MORE: Dust settles, questions remain for USMNT future ]

Cisse won the UEFA Champions League with Liverpool and scored 24 goals in 79 games during his three-year stay at Anfield until 2007. He also had spells with Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League, while he is currently out of contract after being released by Ligue 1 side Bastia following nine goals in 41 appearances. Cisse is due to appear on the French version of “Dancing with the Stars” in the coming months.

Further reports from France say that Cisse is expected to be “exonerated” and that the existence of the video is “not proven” at this point.

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?