No dispute

As Paul Gascoigne once remarked ‘“I’ve had 14 bookings this season—eight of them were my fault, but the other seven were disputable.”   What is not in dispute is Real Madrid’s current leadership of LaLiga, or the fact that they won fairly and squarely on Saturday night in Anoeta – or if you really insist, in the Reale Arena in San Sebastián.  As promised last week on these very pages, I attended the game in the flesh, alongside my son who had flown down from Amsterdam to see the event. He was released from footy obligations, with the Dutch leagues below full-time pro forced back into lockdown.  So you would have thought that Real Madrid could have gifted us a magical evening together, but alas, Ancelotti and company were not in the pre-Christmas spirit. 

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Matchday 16

Is Carlo making the same mistakes as iin that 14/15 season?

Do you remember the 2014/15 season? If you root for Barcelona, it’s an unforgettable one: the club conquered the treble under Luis Enrique, with Messi, Neymar and Suárez firing on all cylinders. But if you’re a Real Madrid fan, it’s a huge “what if” season: what if Modric hadn’t lost half of the season injured? What if Carletto had rotated the team during the magical months of October and November, when Real Madrid were flying?

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Of Xavi’s flower and Mateu Lahoz’s alternative universe

I’d been hoping to mark this debut round-up for the noble pages of Football España with a rant-free feeling to it, but why change the habits of a lifetime?  It was actually an interesting weekend’s action, to quote that over-used English adjective, but not without its controversies.  I refer of course to the hand of Piqué, as opposed to God, and to the strange antics of Mateu Lahoz, Spain’s refereeing equivalent to Boris Johnson.  Like Johnson, Mateo Lahoz talks a lot but rarely makes any sense, and his talk tends to be focused on explaining away yet another crass mistake he has just made.  Johnson has  better hair, but Lahoz can run faster.  More on his bizarre decision in the Espanyol v Real Sociedad match later.

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Bordalás-Sauron, the Dark Lord of anti-football

Sunday night at 9 p.m. isn’t a great time to turn out for a footy match, with the northern nights drawing in and the winter cold creeping into the air. It’s dark and smells of November and Real Sociedad are hosting Valencia at this infernal time because it’s the ‘partidazo’ (the big game) whose attractive look has already relegated Granada v Real Madrid to the 18.30 slot, so there’s some silver lining to the logic.

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Matchday 14

A few upsets in the making

Weekends before European competitions usually bring a few upsets: rotations and a lack of focus from the leading sides open the window for some minnows to celebrate unexpected results. And in a tournament that has already had a large share of surprising scores, this is only going to add more fun.

Ah, and in case you’ve forgotten – if that’s humanly possible assuming you live in society – Xavi’s debut happens on Saturday, versus the great Espanyol.

Shall we? Let’s start. Remember, it’s ‘1’ for a home win, ‘X’ for a draw and ‘2’ for an away win.

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Matchday 13

Xavi comes back home

Xavi is back!

Let that sink in.

Xavi. Is. Back.

This is great news. We get to add a new romantic element to all the existing narrative about Barcelona’s thoroughbred DNA, Cruyff, Pep, Dream Teams, heritage, percentage possession wins, positional football… Now Xavi’s comeback from his long exile suffering in Qatar also becomes a part of the story.

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Looks like fun

In late August, many of us thought this would eventually become a fun season and it does seem as though the entertainment will last… unless you’re a Barcelona fan. Well, even if you support the Azulgrana you can’t say they’re boring, but there’s indeed plenty of room for improvement and good news in general.

The fact is that Real Sociedad lead the standings – and have done so for the last three matches –, that there are five teams separated by four points, and that the three successful winners of the title in the last 18 seasons (Valencia was the last club not named Real Madrid, Barcelona or Atletico de Madrid able to conquer LaLiga) – look hesitant and interestingly inconsistent.

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Your own personal quiniela (someone to hear your prayers)

Jornada 12

This is going to have to be a quickie, said the actor to the whomsoever.  That’s because I’m in a hotel room in Tallin (Estonia) and they’re going to kick me out in about an hour.  Don’t worry – there’s no actor in the room, but a sleepy Whatsapp from Eduardo as I munched on my brekkies this morning was pleading with me to do this….so I will, before the flight to Spain this afternoon.

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Huffin’ and puffin’

That was the weekend that was, although the Camp Nou clásico turned out to be something of a damp squib – not that anyone was complaining to the wild west in Madrid.  Barcelona huffed and puffed but they never really blew Madrid’s house down, and by the time Agüero had scored his first for the hosts in his first clásico, the dice had settled.   Madrid stay second, a point shy of Real Sociedad (more of them in a moment) and can be pleased with the way they coped with Koeman’s predictable tactics. 

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Matchday 10

Barcelona: too much responsibility on the shoulders of the young?

No digression today. There’s a Barça Madrid this weekend! And even if it’s never an easy call, it’s hard to remember a moment as lopsided as this. Barcelona do look like a club on the brink of implosion: the financial situation, the coach’s relationship with the fans, the stadium falling apart, the request for additional credit to build a new stadium when it’s already hard making ends meet with the current debt. And yet, there’s still a handful of young players wearing the Azulgrana who could make this a hard outing for Real Madrid…

Shall we? Let’s start. Remember, it’s ‘1’ for a home win, ‘X’ for a draw and ‘2’ for an away win.

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