FORMER Chelsea and Bayern Munich midfielder Micheal Ballack has claimed he cannot afford to pay a speeding fine – as he’s out of work.
As the millionaire German international retired from Bayer Leverkusen last season, his lawyer Jesús Gallego Rol has requested that the Spanish court fine of £8,000 fine be cut to £800 because he has had no income.
“Just because he is a famous footballer doesn’t mean he has any money coming in,” said Rol.
FRANK Lampard, of England and Chelsea fame, thinks that the Three Lions can emulate the Blues’ against-the-odds style at Euro 2012.
Despite being on the back foot for the best part of five matches, Chelsea managed to overturn Napoli, favourites Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the final to scoop the Champions’ League trophy this season.
He said: “England can do what Chelsea have done.
“There are a lot of similarities, after all – new manager and key players missing through injury and suspension.
“At Chelsea we found all the adversity brought us even closer together. Yes, we had some luck along the way too. But the mental strength we showed and our refusal to accept defeat helped us overcome Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
“I’m sure England can show the same mentality and attitude.”
England kick off their campaign against a resurgent France tomorrow.
HERE’S Jose Mourinho on Chelsea’s chances: “Let me be honest, I don’t think the final will be a Real Madrid/Chelsea final.
“It could be Bayern or Barcelona, I just don’t think it will be Real Madrid v Chelsea and we know why.”
Now former Blues boss Mourinho isn’t exactly unbiased about this situation – what with being involved in some of the most fiercely contested ties with Barca in modern history – but his views are echoed by the great majority of observers.
There was almost a gulp after the final whistle had blown against Benfica – a two-legged affair where an at one point comfortable Chelsea stuttered over the finish line.
Messi et al were coming to town.
But while the defending champions and their unique brand of possession football nearly always prevails, they do sometimes falter – they’re only human.
Add to this the weight of expectation hanging over their necks, amplified by the shadow of Real Madrid’s domestic performance this season, and a revitalised Chelsea old guard’s perception of an injustice under Mr Mourinho to readdress, and over the 180 minutes you can see how the doubts could creep in to Pep Guardiola’s charges.
This is European football, the unexpected can and does happen – just ask quarter finalist minnows Apoel Nicosia, just ask Europa League giants Manchester United and Manchester City…
THIS week could see the ‘unthinkable’ happen – and have no English teams competing in Europe as early as March.
A few years back, the Premier League was dominating Europe, with English representation almost stifling other nations – it’s almost expected that the Premier League’s giants make at least the quarter finals, with a minnow or two having a good run in the Europa League for good measure.
But by the end of this week, Chelsea, England’s last Champions League contender, look likely to have bowed out to Napoli, while underachieving Manchester teams United and City – who both were shocked to have slipped into the Europa League – need to overturn first leg deficits to progress.
By contrast, Real Madrid and Barcelona, Bayern Munich and AC Milan all look very strong.
But we’re not doomed.
Moneybags Manchester City are still newcomers in European terms and growing in experience – it would be folly to believe they won’t be stronger on the continent next term.
Stalwarts Manchester United have a young side which will undoubtedly be stronger as individuals as well as a unit next season.
And of the other potential Champions League entrants…
Arsenal, provided they can hang on to the prolific Robin van Persie, will also be buoyed by the returns of the likes of Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby.
Chelsea are a team in transition and will no doubt have a new manager at the helm and a few fresh faces in their line-up.
And Spurs have the individuals in their squad to beat just about any team in Europe on their day.
Plus this season’s Premier League table has been skewed by teams such as Newcastle, Sunderland, Liverpool and Everton bridging the ‘Big Four’ gap – giving the impression of a weakened league.
If anything, despite this season’s woes, English football is poised to hit back with a bang next season – after all, they don’t like it up ’em.
IF YOU’LL all allow me to indulge in a little transfer speculation this morning, rumours abound that Dutch winger Arjen Robben is poised for a return to the Premier League.
The 28-year-old player, who had a spell at Chelsea in the springtime of his career, is nearing the end of his current contract with Bayern Munich and as such could leave this summer for a knock-down fee.
And life in Germany is tough for the balding star at the moment, with claims he’s selfish unsettling the player.
As a result Robben, who demonstrated his abilities with a two goal haul at Wembley last week, has been linked in reports with Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham.
What an addition he would be to our league – get him in someone, says Goaltastic, get him in.
TWO over-excited Bayern Munich fans – or under-stimulated, perhaps – were thrown out of their team’s tie with Hoffenheim for having sex in the stands.
The German couple were caught indulging in a bit of slap and tickle in the capacity crowd during the first half and stopped by stewards.
But after resuming their rumpy pumpy at half time of the 0-0 draw, officials had choice but to eject the pair from the stadium prematurely.
An eyewitness said: “They had absolutely no inhibitions. Both pulled their pants down and went at it.”
THE biggest rumour of the day so far seems to be the Chelsea interest in French winger Franck Ribery.
The Bayern Munich man, previously targeted by Carlo Ancelotti, is apparently being sought by Andre Villas-Boas as he seeks to find a last-minute attacking edge for his teamsheets.
Figures for the player range from £30m-£36m. I’ve got my fingers crossed for this one.