Reuters

Sports Burst - Valverde's Book Of Revelations

The Barça boss has only gone and had a mad moment...

By Tim Stannard

1) Valverde destroys fabric of football

After many months of being the coaching equivalent of a beige paint job in a house, Barca boss Ernesto Valverde has had a mad moment and added a splash of color to his media décollage by expressing a note-worthy opinion. 

That's not necessarily a wise policy as the best survival tactic for a manager of either Barcelona or Real Madrid aside from winning games is to be camouflage when it comes to opinion-forming.

But after Barcelona's placid 2-0 victory over Sporting in the Champions League, the Barca coach mused on the expected upcoming crowing of Cristiano Ronaldo as Ballon d'Or winner for 2017 and expressed the thought that would break the internet if the football world word to share it - that individual trophies are futile in a team sport. "I don't believe in any prize at all. I'd rather not evaluate any of them."

So, this can go either way in the attention-seeking Sports Burst world. 

Either Valverde expresses a wise, thoughtful opinion. Or the Barcelona boss SLAMS and DISPARAGES Leo Messi's five Ballon d'Or awards causing an irreparable locker room rift in the Camp Nou that will cause Barca's End of Days. Could go either way. 

 

2) Atletico to start renewed assault on La Liga 

The great Champions League Last 16 train has shuffled Manchester United, Basel, PSG, Bayern Munich, Roma, Chelsea, Barcelona and Juventus on board: destination, Bags of Gold City. 

Atletico Madrid are left behind in the Europa League commuter-stopper, but that is just part of the Rojiblanco masterplan to win La Liga. But more on that another day. 

PSG's defeat to Bayern Munich has certainly cheered up a few characters in the Bavarian capital and even earned a rebuke from the club's CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi bristling that "we didn't come here to lose 3-1." The loss follows on the back of a league defeat against Strasbourg at the weekend, to put some pressure on Neymar and co with accusations of coasting.

 

3) Liverpool with everything to win and lose 

So what's at stake on an appetite-whetting Wednesday? 

Group E is all with the complicated with Liverpool having the chance to qualify easily to the next round or royally stuff things up, whilst Sevilla can be helped by the table-topping English side both winning and losing. 

Manchester City are already qualified in Group F and could help Napoli through by beating Shakhtar Donetsk. Besiktas are through in Group G with Porto or Leipzig sniffing about for the second spot. 

Tottenham and Real Madrid have already gone through in Group H, but the latter are looking for some R.E.S.P.E.C.T against Borussia Dortmund, and yet more Champions League goals for the peculiar Cristiano Ronaldo this season.

Tune into the XTRA at 7PM ET / 4PM PT for a look back at the best Champions League action with Mr Christian Vieri.

 

4) Raging Russia reacts to Winter Olympics ban 

Time to put on the grown-up pants for a moment and reflect on the reaction in Russia to the incredibly dramatic decision from the IOC to ban all athletes from the country from the 2018 Winter Olympics due to systemic doping.

Rather than take stock of how Russia got itself into this position in the first place, the reaction from politicians has been to rally against "sporting racism."

There are some key decisions still to be made on the matter including whether some athletes will still be allowed to compete under a neutral banner or be the victim of a Russia boycott, and also the future of Vitaly Mutko, Russia's deputy Prime Minister, a man now banned for life from Olympic tournaments but also the head of the Russian football federation, the host nation of the World Cup. Awkward.

 

WHAT IS SPORTS BURST?

The life philosophy of Sports Burst is that if you are not upsetting someone, then you are not trying hard enough. SB is a daily trawl and troll through the morning's sports news to bring you fact-nuggets to make you both smile and swear. Hopefully at the same time.