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Apr 24, 2009

Pepe lashes out, Rafa hits back

This was the week in which Real Madrid defender Pepe punched and kicked two opposing players, Martin Palermo returned to the headlines in Argentina and Rafa Benitez reopened his feud with Sir Alex Ferguson.

Palermo rises from the ashes - Friday, April 17

Argentina coach Diego Maradona brought an end to Martin Palermo's ten-year exile from the Albicelestes on Friday when he included the Boca Juniors striker in his 26 man squad to face Uruguay on May 20.

Palermo was black-listed by the nation back in 1999 when he missed three penalties for Argentina in a single game - against Colombia in the group stages of the Copa América - a feat that landed him in the Guinness Book of World Records.

The highly-decorated 35-year-old was back in the headlines recently when his girlfriend Jessica Geneux revealed she was a "dirty volcano" who liked to play erotic games with the former Golden Shoe winner.

"People should understand that there's no love-making timetable for a women like me," Geneux explained. "I can do it in the morning, afternoon or evening, or all at once, non-stop during the same day. I'm like a dirty volcano."

The aging striker might do well to abstain before his comeback international in Santa Fe.

AFC Wimbledon back in Premier league - Saturday, April 18

A late goal from Jon Main secured the Blue Square South league title for AFC Wimbledon on Saturday and means the fan-run club, who have won four promotions in the last seven years, will be only one success away from league football next season.

Outraged football fans set up the club in 2002 when Wimbledon moved from London to Milton Keynes and were re-branded the MK Dons as they looked to tap into the resources of the club-less town.

AFC's 1-1 home draw with second-placed Hampton & Richmond left them three points clear at the top of the table with one game remaining; but their superior goal difference of 13 means they will almost certainly be crowned champions.

The non-league club's elevation to the Conference means only League Two will separate them from League One MK Dons, providing the third place club don't win automatic promotion or go up via the play-offs.

It was the pitch! No, the keeper! - Sunday, April 19

Sunday was a day of increasingly dodgy excuses blurted from the mouths of beaten managers and players after Manchester United joined Arsenal in exiting the FA Cup at the semi-final stage of the competition.

Reflecting on the Gunners' defeat to Chelsea Arsene Wenger blamed the poor Wembley pitch, calling it a "joke", and Sir Alex Ferguson followed suit by insisting he pulled Paul Scholes, Dimitar Berbatov and Patrice Evra out of his starting line-up against Everton because of the state of the playing surface.

But the most incredulous excuse came from Berbatov as he sought to explain why his incredibly poorly taken penalty was chipped straight down the middle of the goal and into the hands of waiting Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard during the shoot-out defeat.

The £30m flop said: "I was looking for the goalkeeper but at the last minute he took the place I was going for."

Took the place you were going for by not moving? Sorry Berba can you run that by us again?

Old Firm should pay to join Prem - Monday, April 20

Amid the speculation that Bolton Wanderers chief Phil Gartside is set to unveil plans for a new controversial two-tier set-up to include Rangers and Celtic in the Premier League, outspoken Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan claimed the Old Firm should pay £100m to move south.

Jordon said: "Football is evolving all the time and this would be great for the Scottish clubs but they should pay to come down. I'd suggest £100m and the immediate financial benefits that arise for both clubs would soon cover it."

Proposals for the Glasgow giants to join the English league are nothing new, but Gartside's plan for two leagues of 18 also reflects the fears many Premier League clubs have over the financial costs of relegation.

However, there are a significant number of obstacles to overcome, including the approval of the Football Association, their Scottish counterparts, the Football League and UEFA. Also, TV broadcast rights are not up for renewal until 2013.

Pepe sees his name in lights - Tuesday, April 21

Real Madrid defender Pepe said earlier this week that he wanted to write his name in the history books of the illustrious club, but earning infamy by kicking and punching two opposing players is probably not what he had in mind.

In Tuesday's 3-2 Primera Liga win over Getafe the Portuguese international was shown a straight red card for kicking midfielder Javier Casquero as he lay on the ground and in the ensuing melee he struck another player, Juan Albin, in the face.

According the referee's report the centre-back then trudged of the pitch and blurted "you are all sons of whores" towards the fourth official.

"You cannot do what Pepe did while wearing the Real Madrid shirt," goalkeeper Iker Casillas said after that match. The defender can expect a extended ban from the Spanish FA and further punishment from Los Blancos.

Pep bans Barca stars from watching Nadal - Wednesday, April 22

Barcelona moved six points clear at the top of La Liga on Wednesday night but only after manager Pep Guardiola banned his players from watching Spanish hero Rafael Nadal in a tennis tournament earlier in the day.

The Blaugrana boss vetoed plans for his players to attend the Barcelona Open tennis tournament, at which Nadal is the main attraction, because his league leaders faced Sevilla at the Camp Nou the same day.

Guardiola's restrictions worked like a charm as Barca beat third place Seville 4-0, now all he has to do is find something to ban ahead of Saturday's match with Valencia in the Mestalla.

Last week suspended Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos was mauled by the press for sneaking out of the Bernabeu during his team's 2-0 win over Valladolid to go and watch a friend compete in a bullfight nearby.

Liverpool "better" than United - Thursday, April 23

Rafa Benitez has reopened his feud with Sir Alex Ferguson by suggesting that the Manchester United manager recognises that Liverpool "are a better side".

The duo have been going head to head since Rafa produced his A4 sheet of "facts" back in January and the Reds boss responded to Fergie's latest jibe about being "disrespectful" with his own snipe in his hometown newspaper ABC on Thursday evening.

"I'm not having a battle of words with Alex Ferguson," said Benitez, "but I believe that he can see that we are the better side, and that we are very close to United."

"He has been accustomed to playing these types of mind games for many years. Nobody has ever said anything against him, or stood up to him."

I'm sure Arsenal's Arsene Wenger, the original mind games sparring partner, and former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho might disagree with the Liverpool manager. The Spaniard may need to check his "facts".

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