Welcome to The Corner, our weekly trip around the world of football. Last Monday we predicted Atletico’s victory in the Madrid derby, but who could have expected a complete thrashing of their more illustrious city rivals? We also got it right in the French top flight, between Lyon and PSG.
It was a short trip across town to the Vicente Calderon Stadium for La Liga leaders Real Madrid but the trip home must have felt like a long haul flight on a severe hangover.
Reigning champions Atletico Madrid extended their unbeaten run against Real to a sixth game with a 4-0 hammering of Carlo Ancelotti’s men.
Tiago and Saul put Atletico into an early lead before second-half strikes from Antoine Griezmann and Mario Mandzukic sealed Real’s worst loss in over four years.
In the French first division Zlatan Ibrahimovic rescued a point for defending champions PSG following a tight affair against leaders Lyon.
A victory would have put the capital club back at the top of the table but Cameroon striker Clinton N’Jie put Lyon ahead with a clinical finish on 31 minutes.
On 66 minutes Marco Verratti earned a penalty for PSG.
Up stepped Ibrahimovic who had his initial attempt saved but after the referee penalised Lyon’s players for running into the area he buried his second effort to earn the draw.
Up and Down
The Ivory Coast are on the ‘up’ this week following their Africa Cup of Nations success.
After a goalless 90 minutes against Ghana, Herve Renard’s men won 9-8 on penalties for their second title – 23 years after their first which was also against the Black Stars.
Staying with the Africa Cup of Nations – the fans of hosts Equatorial Guinea are on the down list after violent clashes during their semi-final with Ghana.
The match was suspended for over 30 minutes late on as they pelted Ghana players and fans with an array of missiles.
It was even worse in Egypt.
The country’s football league has been suspended after over 19 people were killed in a stampede and clashes between police and supporters of Zamalek in Cairo.
Clashes reportedly broke out when Zamalek Ultras tried to attend the game against ENPPI without buying tickets.
AC Milan have also made the down list but in less serious circumstances – although tell that to their fans.
They lost 3-1 to Juventus and are now 24 points off their rival’s pace.
Adding a conspiracy theory to the mix Milan claim Juve manipulated TV images to make Carlos Tevez’s goal look onside.
On this day
Nowadays the European clubs are willing to splash out tens of millions of pounds to bring in the best players from around the world. 36 years ago, the million pound mark was broken for a first time in English football and it happened at Nottingham Forest.
On 9 February 1979, Nottingham Forest manager Brian Clough introduced the press to his newest signing, English striker Trevor Francis—the first player in England to break the £1 million barrier.
Clough added to the spectacle by showing up at the press conference in a bright red leather jacket with his squash racket in hand.
When Clough signed Francis from Birmingham City, he was careful to set the transfer fee at £999,999 in order to prevent the “million pound” mark from going to the striker’s head.
But taxes pushed the total fee over £1.1 million, more than doubling the previous record of £495,000, paid by Manchester United to Middlesbrough for defender Gordon McQueen in February 1978.
With Francis in the side, Forest lost only one league match for the remainder of the season, finishing second in the Division One table, and won the League Cup.
The crown jewel in their season, however, was their 1-0 win over over Swedish side Malmö in the 1979 European Cup Final, with Francis heading in the winning goal.
That proved to be the highlight of Francis’ career. Injuries hampered his time at Forest, preventing him from playing in their win in the 1980 European Cup Final, and he moved to Manchester City in 1981 for £1.2 million.
We might be wrong
It’s predictions time. As you well know by now, we might be wrong, but we continue to try our best. Try yourself by sending us your predictions for the following fixtures using #TheCornerScores.
Chelsea 2-0 Everton
Bayer Leverkusen 0-3 Wolfsburg
AZ Alkmaar 0-2 PSV Eindhoven
Robert Kidiaba ended his international career in fine fashion.
He helped the Democratic Republic of Congo claim third place at the Africa Cup of Nations beating Equatorial Guinea in the ‘‘small final’‘.
The 39 year-old goalkeeper will be missed as will his celebration ‘‘Bum Bum Dance’‘ (see clip above).