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The Fiver | The kind of thing someone plotting a revenge tour might say

BIG CUP, BIG TIES

Still reeling from a Premier League long weekend that actually included some half-decent games? Well, there’s no time for that, because Big Cup is back, baby, as the Round of Manchester City begins. Borussia Dortmund were the lucky team plucked from the tombola to witness City’s annual transformation from a sleek, stealthy Lexus to a honking, sputtering clown car. Pep Guardiola’s crew have tumbled out at this stage for three seasons in a row, even getting the job done inside 90 minutes against Lyon last summer, thanks to some textbook tinkering and Raheem Sterling missing the kind of sitter even Grandpa Fiver would put away.

Guardiola might have been relieved to see the buildup to this game dominated by the towering Norse God of Goals, Erling Haaland. The big lad with an exceptional touch has been backpacking virtually around Europe, his services hawked from Barcelona to Madrid and on to Manchester by his cuddly Mr 20%, Mino Raiola. On Friday, Pep claimed a big-money summer splurge on a striker was “impossible”. After an Easter weekend immersed in YouTube compilations, he now appears to have found a spare £100m-plus down the back of a leather sofa. So expect to see Haaland bag a hat-trick, before slipping on a powder-blue trackie top and climbing into the City clown car, digging a giant kneecap into poor Sergio Agüero, who frankly deserves better.

Tuesday night’s other first leg pits Real Madrid against Liverpool in a trophy-waving contest between two clubs with approximately 1,057 Big Cups between them. Despite all that lovely history, all anyone wants to talk about is 2018, Shady Sergio Ramos and the most overblown episode of sh1thousery since the days of Big Brother’s Nasty Nick. The absent Ramos still continues to enjoy spacious rent-free accommodation in Merseyside minds, but Jürgen Klopp isn’t thinking about revenge. Nope. Not at all. Never even occurred to him. “He’s a great footballer but I didn’t like what happened that night,” Klopp seethed. Uh oh.

“I cannot get that feeling, that anger, back so I don’t even try,” he added, furiously pumping iron while staring intently at this image. “We are not on a revenge tour,” concluded a knife-sharpening, bandana-clad Klopp. That sounds like the kind of thing someone plotting a secret revenge tour might say, but can you blame him? It seems Ramos’ antics were the only thing stopping Liverpool from winning another Big Cup that night. Although The Fiver is sure it remembers a terrified hipster in buttered boxing gloves playing in goal. It seems time and Big Cup make fools of us all.

LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE!

Join Rob Smyth from 8pm BST for hot MBM coverage of Real Madrid 2-2 Liverpool in Big Cup, while Barry Glendenning will be on hand for Manchester City 3-2 Borussia Dortmund.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Having a dad like I do, no one asks about my mom because she’s obviously not an NBA star, but I just want people to know that my mom’s been my support system in everything in life and she’s my best friend and my rock. I don’t think people know how close we are and, even though she wasn’t in the NBA, she has an extremely competitive and driven mindset, and she’s an extremely strong woman. She’s my role model” – Washington Spirit’s Trinity Rodman gets her chat on with Caitlin Murray.

FIVER LETTERS

“One of the underwhelming football side-effects of lockdown has been how so many coaches have ‘parked the bus’ without supporters there to encourage players forward. On Saturday, Arsenal fell in with the trend when playing Liverpool and deployed a 5-5-0 formation (with a masterplan, on the three-and-a-half times they had possession, of giving the ball back asap). If the last hundred-odd years of football tactics development was described by Jonathan Wilson as Inverting the Pyramid, should this season be known as Squeezing the Rectangle?” – Adam Uncamus.

“May I be one of the predictable 1,057 pedants to note that an Oxo cube released in outer space (Thursday’s Fiver) would just float off for eternity – collision with some other body notwithstanding – rather than plummet à la Jogi Löw?” – Aidan Flanagan (and no others).

“Re: Thursday’s first Still Want More? You see, Tim Lynch (Fiver letters passim)? Be careful what you wish for” – Jon Millard.

Send your letters to the.boss@theguardian.com. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’the day is … Adam Uncamus.

RECOMMENDED LOOKING

It’s David Squires on … the great Erling Haaland European sales tour. You can get your own here.

Solid stuff.

RECOMMENDED VIEWING

DaBaby 🤝 Santi Cazorla.

Left foot, right foot, levitating.

Santi Cazorla produces deft panenka penalty for Al Sadd – video

NEWS, BITS AND BOBS

Valencia have responded angrily after Cádiz defender Juan Cala denied racially abusing Mouctar Diakhaby during Sunday’s game in La Liga. “Everything he says is false. This is a media lynching,” said Cala, not helping himself. Valencia retorted: “Cala has missed a great opportunity to accept his mistake and apologise to the player affected. Instead, he attacked both Diakhaby and other members of Valencia. [We] wish to reiterate that we believe our player and back him completely.”

Slavia Prague defender Ondrej Kudela, who is at the centre of Uefa and police investigations into alleged racial abuse and was due to be questioned when he returned to the UK, will miss their first leg at Arsenal.

Hertha Berlin have rightly told goalkeeping coach Zsolt Petry to do one over homophobic and anti-migrant comments. “[They] do not reflect the values of Hertha,” sniffed the club’s Carsten Schmidt.

Coventry, Luton and Cardiff claim they have fallen foul of an administrative anomaly after confirming the Football League has hit them with transfer embargoes.

Jesse Lingard is now almost on the plane with West Ham still in a Big Cup spot, while Everton might not be on one themselves with results like this.

And Chelsea manager Tommy T won’t be punishing Antonio Rüdiger and Kepa Arrizabalaga for a training-ground bust-up. “They cleared the air and there was nothing left afterwards,” he tooted. “They solved it in an honest and humble way.”

STILL WANT MORE?

“We do it the hard way”: Andy Hunter previews the big Big Cup tie between Real Madrid and Liverpool.

Valencia’s show of unity over the racial abuse of Mouctar Diakhaby was swiftly undermined, writes Sid Lowe, who also drinks it all in as Real Sociedad quench their trophy thirst.

Valencia players and staff show their support to defender Mouctar Diakhaby the day after their game.

Another shout for this piece by Jonathan Liew.

Nicky Bandini’s Serie A blog focuses on Serse Cosmi restoring pride at Crotone.

Lille’s win in the crunch clash at PSG has put them in pole position in the Ligue Uhn title race, write Adam White and Eric Devin.

If you’re still chewing over the weekend’s top-flight action, here are 10 talking points to get your teeth into.

Gillingham are the only EFL club not to shell out on Mr 15%s in the past year. Ben Fisher catches up with their owner Paul Scally.

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

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