The Fiver | Oh Sergio! What have you done?!


Say what you will about Sergio Ramos, and we hear that some folk are beginning to form opinions, but the man is quite good at defending. Sadly he wasn’t able to show off any of that ability on Tuesday night, on account of the cynical booking he picked up towards the end of Real Madrid’s 2-1 Big Cup win at Ajax, a clean slate for the inevitable quarter-final the welcome result. Sly Sergio! Clever Sergio! Hard-nosed professional Sergio! But it’s a thin line between success and abject failure containing enough comedic value to get ‘em rolling in the aisles all the way from the Metropolitano to Merseyside. And oh! Oh Sergio! What have you done?!

Sit in the Bernabéu stands allowing himself to be filmed for a hagiographic documentary while his teammates put on a defensive display so inept you could squint your eyes and be forgiven for thinking you were watching Paul Jewell’s Derby County, is what he’s done. Real’s suspended club captain could only watch in horror as the rest of the continent watched in delight as Ajax knocked the European champions off their perch in humiliating style. The young Amsterdam collective scored four; the best player on the pitch was a lad bound for Barcelona; and Real’s once-dependable old pal VAR turned against them, taking four preposterous minutes to decide whether the ball had gone out for a throw or not. It’s almost as though the system has been designed specifically to suck all the joy from the game. Then again, it must have irritated the hell out of Ramos, so we’re keeping an open mind.

Real’s capitulation ended their 1,012-day reign as European champions, though they’ll probably add on the 87 days between now and the final on a technicality, because nothing’s ever enough for the demanding denizens of the Bernabéu. It’s completely jiggered their season, too, coming at the culmination of a week in which Barcelona nixed both their domestic league and cup hopes. “Is this the end of an era?” a tearful Dani Carvajal wondered aloud. “I don’t see it like that. But we know we have had a [RUDE SPANISH WORD FOR JOBBY] season, and that’s it.” End of an era or not, we pretty much know how Real are going to react to all these setbacks. In scattergun fashion, is how. So expect Real to start sniffing around Harry Kane, Eden Hazard, Marcus Rashford, Mohamed Salah, Uncle Tom Cobley and all with immediate effect. It’s going to be a long old summer.


Join Scott Murray from 8pm GMT for hot MBM coverage of PSG 2-1 Manchester United (4-1 agg), while Barry Glendenning will be on hand for Porto 1-1 Roma (2-3 agg).


“To be honest, I had to do a search on Google to find out exactly where the country is” – former Linfield striker Paul Munster on the deep level of geographical knowledge that helped him land the Vanuatu job.

Vanuatu: nice.

Vanuatu: nice. Photograph: Auscape/UIG via Getty Images


“With the news that Manchester City’s parent company plans to a buy a club in India, attention naturally turns to what to name it. Might I suggest Naan City?” – Daniel Doody.

“Tottenham’s footballers being highly paid [Tuesday’s Fiver]? Don’t let Dan Levy hear you say that” – Chris Brown.

“Talk of inconsistency [Tuesday’s Fiver] always reminds me of Ailsa from Home & Away’s thoughts on the subject, after Manchester United had beaten Nottingham Forest to keep Fergie in a job all those years ago. He wisely told the post match TV interviewer: ‘If we played like that every week, we wouldn’t be so inconsistent.’ Unarguable, really” – Michael Hann.

“Just the other day I heard a commentator pontificate: ‘Newcastle remain unchanged for four games in a row, that’s unusual for Rafa’. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of that sentence” – Marten Allen.

“Chris Weaver’s sound culinary advice on Bratwurst in Tuesday’s Fiver distracted from the delights of the kartoffelpuffer mentioned in Monday’s SWMs. Also called Reibekuchen (‘rubbed cake’, which leaves a lot to the imagination) in certain parts of Germany, these deep-fried potato pancakes are known as Gromperekichelcher – a favourite for us foreigners to try to pronounce – here in Luxembourg. But they are delicious and should be tried at the annual summer fair by fans of The Pope’s O’Rangers visiting to see their team humiliated in the play-off round of Big Vase qualifying later this year” – Duncan Roberts.

Kartoffelpuffer/Gromperekichelcher/rubbed cake

Kartoffelpuffer/Gromperekichelcher/rubbed cake Photograph: HANDOUT

Send your letters to And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our letter o’the day is Daniel Doody, who wins a copy of Matchdays: The Hidden Story of the Bundesliga. Plenty more prizes to come.


England won the SheBelieves Cup with a 3-0 win over Japan, so manager Phil Neville was delighted, wasn’t he? “I feel a bit flat to be honest with you.” Ah. “We want to go again in three days’ time.”

Manchester United vibes man Ole Gunnar Solskjær has made it known his contract with former club Molde has expired so, you know, pull your finger out Ed!

Bayern Munich are fresh and funky with Jogi Löw/Low/Luurrvvve after the Germany boss’s decision to channel Blade Runner and retire Mats Hummels, Thomas Müller and Jérôme Boateng from Die Mannschaft. “The fact that the players and public were informed just ahead of important matches for Bayern and before the decisive second leg in the round of 16 of [Big Cup] against Liverpool, irritates us,” they growled.

Brendan Rodgers’s Glasgow home has been ransacked during a burglary. “No one was injured in the incident but a number of items were stolen from the property,” said the polis.

Stoke’s Saido Berahino will face trial for drink-driving in London’s West End after claiming he was fleeing a gang of armed robbers.

Saido Berahino arrives at court.

Saido Berahino arrives at court. Photograph: Kirsty O’Connor/PA

Mauricio Pochettino has been hit with a two-game touchline ban and fined £10,000 for getting all up in Mike Dean’s grille after Tottenham’s 2-1 defeat at Burnley.

And Bolton v Millwall is set to go ahead on Saturday after the troubled Trotters rustled up the necessary cash to ensure safety measures were met.


The Fiver’s Spanish cousin, Juan de la Juan de la Juan de la Juan Straw Donkey Acoustic Guitar Olé Olé Olé Eldorado Sun Sea Sand Dust Fiver, wasn’t on hand to provide us with a sizzling hot take on Spanish hacks’ reaction to Madrid’s spanking by Ajax, so Sid Lowe did it instead.

He also penned this piece on Madrid’s worst week in their 117-year history, the big hero.

OK, so the stadium questions linger like Weird Uncle Fiver’s special aftershave, but Spurs are daring to dream in Big Cup, cheers David Hytner.

The Knowledge spent far too long trawling dodgy streams of disaster movies to bring you this week’s column on when real-life football action pops up in Hollywood films, so the least you can do is read it.

Goals on film.

Goals on film. Composite: Allstar/20th Century Fox/Screengrab

Ben Fisher visits a prison in Devon to see how football is helping inmates.

Manchester United are hoping to replicate the 1999 Houdini act against PSG, writes Daniel Taylor.

The far-right is a growing menace in MLS. Christian Araos has the story.

And should USA! USA!! USA!!! panic after a disappointing SheBelieves Cup, asks Caitlin Murray.

Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!


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