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EURO 2012

FOOTBALL

German line-up mole leaves Löw fuming

Germany coach Joachim Löw is said to be fuming after a "mole" in the German camp again leaked their starting line-up at Euro 2012.

German line-up mole leaves Löw fuming
Photo: DPA

Löw sprung a surprise for Friday’s quarter-final by dropping Mario Gomez, Lukas Podolski and Thomas Müller for the Germans’ 4-2 quarter-final win over Greece at Arena Gdasnk, but the news was reported earlier that afternoon.

“I can’t say exactly from where this [leak] has come,” admitted Löw ahead of his team’s semi-final against England or Italy in Warsaw on Thursday.

“The players talk to their agents, perhaps it comes from there.

“They phone home and talk with friends, either because they are happy or disappointed.

“I am certain it doesn’t come from the players. These are other channels, but they are unidentifiable.

“It is not good when the cards are on the table so early.”

Team line-ups are normally only released just prior to kick-off, but Löw’s formation was reported much earlier by several German media outlets with the news that Miroslav Klose, Andre Schürrle and Marco Reus would all start.

After the latest leak, midfielder Schürrle revealed the national coach was fuming.

“It is certainly regrettable,” said the 21-year-old Bayer Leverkusen midfielder.

“The head coach has spoken to us about this leak and he is, of course, far from happy.

“I am sure it is someone outside the team, I can’t imagine it would be anyone inside.”

The team was branded “unstoppable” by a delighted German press on Saturday after victory over Greece put them just a match away from reaching a second successive Euro final, four years after being beaten by Spain.

“No-one else will stop us!” the online edition of the Bild tabloid said on its home page, adding: “And especially not the English or Italians.”

Germany won the match, in Gdansk, 4-2 with goals from captain Philipp Lahm, Sami Khedira, Miroslav Klose and Marco Reus, outclassing their opponents to set up a tie with either England or Italy, who play on Sunday.

Bild gave its best marks to Mesut Özil, whom, it assessed, “finally showed his world class” by being “part of the build-up to every German goal”.

“Germany blows up the Greek fortress,” said kicker.de. The sports site said that the 15th win in 15 games for Germany was “a world record”.

The light-hearted sports site 11Freunde (11 Friends) went for political humour, given Germany’s insistence that Greece instigates tough public sector cuts to offset crippling debt and a potentially wider Eurozone crisis.

11Freunde headlined is page with “Finally Greece out of the Euro”, as did the daily paper Tagesspiegel: “Germany kicks Greece out of the Euro.”

The Bild website for its part wrote that German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was at the game, could celebrate “Greece’s sporting bankruptcy”.

The more seriously-minded Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung praised Löw’s audacious gamble of leaving Lukas Podolski, Thomas Müller and Mario Gomez on the bench to make way for Marco Reus, Andre Schürrle and the 34-year-old Miroslav Klose.

“German rotation crowned a success. Coach Löw shows courage not seen for years and it pays off,” the paper said in its online edition.

AFP/hc

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FOOTBALL

Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.

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