The Warm-Up: If someone invented football now, it wouldn’t be allowed
The transfer of Joao Felix for lord knows how much money is bordering on cruelty. Good luck kid, for you will need it...
THURSDAY’S BIG STORIES
Netherlands scrape into the World Cup final
After a tournament that has seen plenty of dramatic games and controversial moments, the second semi-final of the Women’s World Cup was a pretty dull affair. Actually, let’s be honest: it was entirely tedious, 90 minutes played out in which barely anything happened, and was eventually saved by some late drama.
Ultimately the Netherlands eked past Sweden with an extra-time goal by Jackie Groenen – on her way to Manchester United – who slotted a nicely-placed finish into the bottom corner to take the victory and save the game from terminal tedium.
Spare a thought though for Sweden, because after their manager Peter Gerhardsson’s post-match quotes, we just want to give them all a hug and tell them it’s going to be OK.
"The feeling? Well, what can I say? A feeling of emptiness really. Everyone who has experienced it knows it. You’re not angry, you’re not sad, you’re not disappointed. Empty, that’s what I feel like right now."
Atletico sign Joao Felix for….eeeesh, how much?
There’s a film out at the moment called Yesterday, the central premise of which is that the Beatles have been erased from history, except in the mind of the main character. Hilarity ensues, but imagine if nobody else knew what football was – not the basic game of kicking a ball around, but the bloated, greedy, mess of a business that it has become – and it was up to you to explain what it was, what it expected of people and how much money was involved.
When you think of it in those terms, the idea of someone buying a human being is weird, but paying €126million for one? And a 19-year-old? It sounds bizarre and frankly pretty cruel.
But that’s what Atletico Madrid have shelled out for Joao Felix, the teenager with a single season for Benfica under his belt, brought in to replace the player around which Atletico have been built for the last five years, assuming Antoine Griezmann’s move to Barcelona eventually goes through.
How do you even begin to understand the thought process of Felix right now? A year ago he was probably thinking that it would be good to get in the Benfica first team for a bit, establish himself, maybe become a regular started before the end of the season. Now he’s the third or fourth most expensive player of all time (depending on how you slice it) and the new key man for one of the biggest clubs in Europe.
All we can say is, Joao: good luck.
Peru to face Brazil in the Copa America final
Paolo Guerrero of Peru celebrates after scoring the third goal of his team with teammate Andy Polo during the Copa America Brazil 2019 Semi Final match between Chile and Peru at Arena do Gremio on July 03, 2019 in Porto Alegre, Brazil.Getty Images
Now, as we know, there tends to be a fair amount of expectation on Brazil when they play these sort of big games at home. And we also know that it hasn’t always gone brilliantly for them in the past. Arguably there will now be even more pressure on them, given they’re facing a side that few thought would make it this far (they were 18-1 to win the whole thing before the tournament), and thus are expected to romp it.
Could Sunday be a redemptive evening for Brazil? That’s the plan. And what plans involving major games in Brazil have ever not worked before, eh?
HEROES AND ZEROS
Hero: Megan Rapinoe
Admittedly, you could probably put Rapinoe in this section for perpetuity, but there is a specific reason for it this time. When asked to comment on people getting upset by Alex Morgan’s ‘tea drinking’ celebration against England the other night, Rapinoe responded: “Wah, wah, wah. I mean it’s like we’re at the World Cup, what do you want us to do? This is the biggest stage, the biggest moment. I don’t think anyone truly believes that we disrespect the game or disrespect our opponents.” Quite so.
And she also had something a little more thoughtful to say too:
Zero: Gabriel Arias
That’s the Chile goalkeeper here. You know Gabriel, they have left-backs for that sort of thing.
"On Monday night, when he was travelling from Paris to London for his medical at Tottenham Hotspur yesterday morning, Tanguy Ndombélé had plenty of time to reflect upon the path which took him from playing football on his council estate block to the Premier League in fewer than five years. There are different ways to make it to the top and the French international midfielder, whose transfer from Lyons for £62.5 million (£54 million fee plus £8.5 million bonuses) will make him Spurs’s record signing, certainly didn’t take the easiest route."
On this day in 1998, one of the great goals and one of the great commentaries, as Jack van Gelder loses his mind to Dennis Bergkamp’s goal against Argentina.
In a summer which has seen plenty of oh so tempting tournaments, calling you back to football like a tempting siren song when you should probably be giving it a rest until the season starts, it’s a quiet day. If you insist on seeking out some football there are the Europa League preliminary round second leg games, but to be honest you should probably just enjoy the sun or something.
Tomorrow’s Warm-Up will be brought to you by the always sun-kissed Tom Adams.