WEDNESDAY’S BIG STORIES

It is a no from Carlo

Carlo Ancelotti has savaged FIFA’s plans for a more frequent World Cup.
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The world governing body are making a quite serious play at pushing through reforms that will see the World Cup played every two years. Here are some details on it.
According to FIFA 55% of fans surveyed want a more frequent World Cup. However, it appears as though FIFA might be tickling the numbers.
The question posed was:
If you consider your personal interest to see the FIFA World Cup – without taking into account any other impact of rescheduling the current cycle – how often would you like to see the FIFA World Cup?
The responses were thus:
  • Every year: 11%*
  • Every two years: 30%
  • Every three years: 14%
  • Every four years: 45%
Now, FIFA are presenting this as a majority of fans would like to see a more frequent men’s FIFA World Cup (granted, this is true), and of this majority the preferred frequency is biennial (granted, this is true). But this has been reported - in lots of places - that a majority of fans back biennial World Cups and this is very much not the case. The facts of the matter are, of the four options, the majority of fans want the four-year cycle to remain.
Some notable ex-players – including Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima - have backed the initiative. However, Real Madrid coach Ancelotti has had his say, and he is having none of it.
"Play the World Cup every two years? Well, while we're at it, let's just play one a year," he said sarcastically.
The Warm-Up must state here that in its opinion sarcasm of this degree from a man as suave and unshakable as Ancelotti constitutes a savaging. He continued:
The schedules are a very serious problem. Something has to change. There are games that make little sense. FIFA and UEFA should talk about it. It is true that at this moment perhaps they do not agree with each other much, but the pressure on the players is too high.
And he is absolutely correct. The current schedule is taking its toll on players with soft tissue – and much more serious - injuries on the rise. The two-year cycle idea might solve some issues – the wealth gap between different federations – but it will cause a host of others. FIFA claim there won't be more games and there may not be but what about the intensity of these games?
It is a bad idea, and, truth be told, fans don’t actually want it.
*these people should never be allowed attend a football match ever again

The folly of flogging – no, giving – one of your best players to a rival

Luis Suarez joined Barcelona as a do-a-bit-of-everything goalscorer in 2014. He hit 147 league goals in 191 league appearances and 198 goals in 283 appearances in all competitions for the club. He arrived an elite goalscorer and he left an elite goalscorer. Granted, he had a physical decline over the last few years, but his instinct and desire for goal was as strong as ever when Barcelona allowed him to join one of their rivals on a free transfer in the summer of 2020.
Last year for Atleti, he scored 21 goals in 32 outings as they won La Liga. Atleti’s next leading scorer was Marcos Llorente on 12. It is not hyperbole to say that he fired Diego Simeone’s men to the Liga title. Real Madrid finished second and Barcelona third.
He was at it again on Tuesday night, as a double from the Uruguayan saw Atletico Madrid come from behind to beat 10-man Getafe 2-1 to move top of the table. Meanwhile, on Monday Barcelona were thundering 54 crosses into the box in a match they finished with Luuk de Jong and Gerard Pique up front. Shambles.

Suarez strikes at the death to send Atleti top

Image credit: Getty Images

Barcelona president issues fan plea

How the mighty have fallen. A decade ago Barcelona were the pinnacle of world football. Pep Guardiola had, perhaps, the best-ever club side at his disposal. 10 small years later and a day fails to go by without the club descending further into shambles.
Thus far this week:
  • Monday – finish with Gerard Pique up front against Granada in a 1-1 draw
  • Tuesday – club president takes to social media to ask fans to keep being fans of the team
Yup, Joan Laporta took to social media on Tuesday evening to basically tell fans that things are terrible but the club would greatly appreciate their continued support.

'I ask you to keep supporting our team' - Laporta pleads for patience at Barcelona

Here is what he had to say:
“I ask you to keep supporting our team. The team needs you and is thankful to you.
You know we are living difficult moments and these are the moments you need to stand by us.
“This week a Barca delegation is going to ‘Palos de la Frontera’ to an act of ‘Penyes’, which coincides with the match in Cadiz. In Cadiz, you can be sure that the team will try to win. I do not know what will happen, but no matter what, in the next match against Levante this week keep supporting our team.
"The team needs it. And try to remain calm, we know what needs to be done and we will solve it. Thank you very much."
What will Wednesday bring? More turmoil probably and maybe the sacking of Ronald Koeman.

RETRO CORNER

On this day in 1998 Zinedine Zidane won the Ballon d’Or. Some contrarians will tell you he was overrated. He was not.
Here he is scoring two in the World Cup final to help settle it in France’s favour against Brazil.
This strike here help settle the 2002 Champions League final in Real Madrid’s favour against Bayer Leverkusen.
Overrated?

COMING UP

A whole raft of football. Juventus aim for a first win of their Serie A campaign at the fifth time of asking – they face Spezia. AC Milan take on Venezia. Elsewhere in Europe, PSG travel – without the injured Lionel Messi – to Metz and Real Madrid welcome Mallorca to the Santiago Bernabeu.
Andi Thomas wants a World Cup every month but will take time out of his aggressive campaign to write Thursday’s Warm-Up.
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