FRIDAYS BIG HEADLINES

Barca crash out of the Copa

How bad have things become at crisis club Barcelona? According to reports just in at The Warm-Up, the dog from the ‘this is fine’ meme has just been spotted pulling up a chair in the centre circle at the Camp Nou, while fire and smoke slowly cloud over his large, glassy eyes and his mug steadily fills with burning hot ash.
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On a night when they could really have done without a shock Copa del Rey defeat they got, well, a shock Copa del Rey defeat as Inaki Williams scored deep into injury time to give Athletic Bilbao a 1-0 win at San Mames. Coming in the days after civil war erupted at Barca, with Lionel Messi launching into a very unusual and very pointed public criticism of technical director Eric Abidal, it only confirmed that at the moment, Barca are a dumpster fire of a club, seeking implosion at every turn.
https://i.eurosport.com/2020/02/07/2770728.jpg
In fact, new coach Quique Setien had his own ‘this is fine’ moment as he surveyed the scene of defeat for a demoralised and discombobulated Barcelona. “We are leaving this competition, it is painful, but the image of the team has been very good,” Setién said. “Everything went well today except the result … I am quite satisfied.”
“Everything went well” was an interesting reading of the match. And it’s one unlikely to be shared by Gerard Pique, who was turned into a human meme at one stage when Williams accelerated away from him and the Barca defender clung desperately to his shirt, being dragged along for a couple of metres before the referee issued him with his 15th (!) yellow card of the season. Cue hundreds of teenagers ‘doing the Pique’ and lying flat on the ground while holding onto various public structures.
The luckless centre-back was subbed off after 80 minutes and later made a public appeal for a ceasefire in the row between Messi and Abidal.
"Everyone knows what they've done wrong and right," Pique said. “From there, we have to keep working, not throwing things in our faces from now until the end of the season, because it doesn't help. We have to focus on our style of play and on winning; at this club, we have been founded on victories and we have to return to that path.
"It's not the time to dig up dirt, which all clubs have. What I can say is that our confidence is at its highest, we're happy with the way we've played and reacted to the outside noise.”
Yep, this is fine!

Real Madrid also crash out

Odegaard in rete al Bernabeu in Real Madrid-Real Sociedad - Copa del Rey

Image credit: Getty Images

The only saving grace for Barcelona was that their eternal rivals Real Madrid suffered an even more humiliating evening in the Copa del Rey.
Madrid found themselves 3-0 and then 4-1 down, at the Bernabeu, to a Real Sociedad side inspired by a certain Martin Odegaard. The Madrid loanee scored the opening goal and then helped the Basque aide enforce their dominance, with Alexander Isak, formerly of Borusssia Dortmund, scoring twice. There was even time for a stirring yet futile comeback from Madrid, who pulled it back to 4-3 before being knocked out.
All in all it was a good night for the Basque clubs against the Liga giants, and this year’s Copa del Rey winner will now be one of: Granada, Real Sociedad, Athletic Bilbao or surprise package Mirandes.

Open that window

Yesterday the Premier League unsurprisingly voted to remove the competitive disadvantage they placed on their own clubs in the transfer market by agreeing to realign the transfer window with the rest of Europe. So next summer, English clubs will be able to purchase players up until September 1.
Still, it was a great two-year run.

IN OTHER NEWS

Everything seems to be going quite well for Petr Cech in his new pursuit...

IN THE CHANNELS

The, er, ‘windmill’ incident at Newcastle this week seems to have brought the best out of footballers on social media.
First, Allan Saint-Maximin brought out the best new hashtag The Warm-Up has seen in, well, forever.
And then Jack Grealish, with the help of a suggestive emoji, compared the punishment this fan received to a four-year ban given to a supporter who aimed monkey chants at Tammy Abraham.

COMING UP

There’s Championship action on tonight as Bristol City take on Birmingham City. Remember to watch highlights of that match and all the EFL action on Quest on Saturday evening.
Lionel Messi's very public criticism of Marcus Foley has given The Warm-Up a big decision to make. See if he returns for Monday's edition...
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