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Aug 4, 2012

Banega's flaming Ferrari, Ibra golazo

Off the Ball never rests in its mission to scratch around the underbelly of professional football to find the most bizarre, humorous and inexplicable stories.

This week, Zlatan Ibrahimovic beats up new PSG team-mates, Ever Banega's new Ferrari bursts into flames, a Spanish bakery flogs 'fingers of Mou' ahead of the Supercopa, Manchester City coach David Platt rolls back the years with stunning bicycle kick and Sergio Ramos thrashes Kaka in an Olympic swim-off.

Banega's Ferrari burnt to a crisp

For his own safety, Valencia midfielder Ever Banega should probably never be allowed to sit behind the lush, leather-clad steering wheel of a luxury car again.

In February, the hapless Argentinian managed to run himself over in a petrol station and this week, having only just returned from a broken ankle sustained in that incident, his brand new Ferrari burst into flames ... while he was driving it.

The €250,000 sports car caught fire near Valencia's training ground. Local TV footage of the incident shows Banega calmly calling for a bucket of water, which would have had absolutely no effect on the expensive inferno by the roadside.

The blaze seemed to have been caused by some sort of short circuit and, according to AS, Banega spotted smoke coming from the back of the high-performance car and fled before it burnt to a crisp.

Ibra beats up team-mates, scores golazo

It's been quite a week for Paris Saint-Germain new boy Zlatan Ibrahimovic. First the taekwondo black belt took out two of his new team-mates in one training session, then scored a golazo just three minutes into his debut and capped that off by declaring PSG to be better than his former club AC Milan.

Having spent a couple of days with his new colleagues, Ibrahimovic felt it was time to exert his dominance over his puny team-mates . First he slammed Nene to the ground with a blow to the ribs, leaving him wincing in pain, and then collided with Jeremy Menez, who needed to apply ice to an eye injury.

Having dished it out in training, Ibrahimovic then turned his attention to the pitch during a friendly with DC United. After playing a one-two with eye-poke victim Menez, Ibrahimovic pulled off a drag-back to beat the defender and then smashed a left-footed shot past the goalkeeper .

Asked after the match what he made of his new club, Ibrahimovic said: "We will have a better team than Milan this season, for sure." And why might that be, Zlatan? "Because Milan has lost its two best players," the modest striker replied.

Bakery selling 'fingers of Mou' for Supercopa

The Supercopa de Espana between Real Madrid and Barcelona may not take place until the end of August, but one enterprising bakery in Spain is already looking to cash in on the contest by selling 'dedo de Mou' (fingers of Mou) at €0.50 a pop.

The delicious-looking chocolate chip pastries are a reference to last season's ill-tempered contest, when Real coach Jose Mourinho crept up behind Barcelona's then assistant coach Tito Vilanova and poked him in the eye during a heated scuffle on the touchline.

Mourinho was handed a two-match ban for the start of the 2012-13 La Liga campaign, but that has since been rescinded by the RFEF - prompting an angry protest from Barca. "It's a bad example for Spanish football that this aggression is going unpunished," said spokesman Toni Freixa.

Tensions are simmering away nicely and the lifting of the suspension means Mourinho can take his place on the touchline for 'Eye-poke: the Revenge' with Vilanova, who's since been promoted to head coach at Barca. Off The Ball is hoping that Barca rustle up the old "crouching behind someone then getting pushed over the crouched person" routine.


Video of the week

Manchester City coach David Platt, 46, rolled back the years with stunning bicycle kick in training this week. But, impressive at was, it's Sergio Aguero's disbelieving face that really makes the moment. To see Platt's bicycle kick click here .


More than words...


Roberto Carlos has hung up his boots at the age of 39. Here we see him as a fresh-faced youngster turning out for his second club, Palmeiras, in 1993. ©AP Images

Around the web

• Sergio Ramos thrashes Real Madrid team-mate Kaka in Olympic swim-off

• Bolton's miracle man Fabrice Muamba plays football again

• Rivaldo shows he's still got it with hat-trick for his Angolan club

• West Brom to honour Regis, Batson and Cunningham with Three Degrees statue

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