That was the weekend that was

Well shiver me timbers – what an awesome three days of matches in Spain! Just when you were thinking that it couldn’t remain so interesting and competitive, and that things were gradually reverting to the old hierarchies, LaLiga comes up with a cracker whose glow will warm the Spanish firesides for the next fortnight.   The teams that won can spend the international break all smiley and positive in training, whilst the victims can search in the rubble for the positives and just keep on working, as the clichés go. Continue reading “That was the weekend that was”

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Greed is good

Preview of LaLiga’s 12th week

Many of you probably don’t like LaLiga’s president Javier Tebas, and you may very well have a perfectly good reason for it. To Barcelona fans, his support of Real Madrid makes him a representative of the enemy in a terrible position to have one. To the most irrational Real Madrid supporters, he’s someone who believes that Lionel Messi is the best player ever. To the rest of the teams, he’s the responsible party for the current inequality in the revenue distribution among LaLiga clubs, and thus the man who is still perpetuating the gap between the top two and the struggling followers. He’s also guilty of La Liga having become LaLiga (nospace). Adding insult to injury, he wants to take a LaLiga match to the USofA, not really giving a s*it about local fans missing that one in their home stadium. In short, he’s indeed no saint, and to the more or less objective reasons mentioned in this paragraph, you may throw on top that he’s just not a very likeable person at all. Continue reading “Greed is good”

Home sweet home?

What do Valencia and Real Sociedad have in common, apart from the obvious fact that they both have football teams?  Well, neither of them has won at home yet, and Valencia’s only (away) win this season to date was at….yes, you’ve guessed it, Real Sociedad.  Huesca and Rayo have also failed to win at home, but maybe that’s not so newsworthy.  Bottom-placed Huesca almost made it on Sunday but visitors Getafe pooped their party by equalising in the 91st minute, and Rayo were looking as though they might break their hoodoo against the unlikely presence of Barcelona, but the Catalans have a tendency to break local hearts in the final minutes, and thus it proved, a 2-1 turning suddenly into a 2-3 in the final ten minutes of the game.  Another member of the homeless club is Villarreal, which is something of a surprise – with a mere three goals scored in six games. Continue reading “Home sweet home?”

Underperformers

Preview of LaLiga’s 11th week

The not totally surprising La Liga immolation of a certain team from the capital has hidden the disappointing beginning to the season of another three talented, high-ish budget teams that, so far, have failed to impress. I’m talking about Betis, currently in the 13th spot of the standings, Valencia in the 14th and Villarreal in 17th. Continue reading “Underperformers”

Decline and Fall

When I was writing ‘White Storm’ for Real Madrid’s centenary, a book commissioned by a British publisher and endorsed by the club as kosher, I got to meet various interesting people at planet Bernabéu. Some were more interesting than others – but that’s the nature of a multi-national enterprise, although it felt less like an impersonal leviathan back then in the early naughties. One of the most interesting (and remarkably open) folks I spoke to was Jorge Valdano.  Valdano wasn’t everyone’s cup of coffee back then, but as Director of Football he acted as a public buffer between the club’s supporters, the press and Florentino Pérez, then a relative newcomer to the presidential post but already beginning to put his ‘galácticos’ policy into action. José Angel Sánchez had been in his post as head of marketing for about two years, and was already Pérez’s most trusted lieutenant. Continue reading “Decline and Fall”

Chronicle of a Defeat Foretold

It was the match of the weekend, one of those occasions on which we all expect to see top players make an extra effort. However, only one team came along. While Barcelona performed in their most solid version, Real Madrid failed to show up. Funnily enough, the Madridista’ display was consistent with what they’ve done so far. “This 5-1 is what we’ve done all season”, said Casemiro in the post-match interview on the sidelines of the pitch, the Camp Nou still packed with fans celebrating Barcelona’s win. Any listener could probably replace “5-1” with the word “crap” and Casemiro’s sentence, already clear, would become an even more eloquent statement. Continue reading “Chronicle of a Defeat Foretold”

Pond life making a splash

Preview of La Liga’s 10th week

The clásico tends to put the rest of the fixtures into the shade, over in the small pond with its pond-life flapping and flipping about – a minor eco-system of relative irrelevance compared to the leviathans chopping through the waves of their own public importance.  And yet the ‘look at me’ aspect of Sunday’s clásico differs in several ways to previous encounters.  For one, the absence of Messi and Ronaldo is certainly interesting (it’s the first time they both missed for eleven years) and for two, you get the feeling that the result – come what may – will have a major influence on the development of events this season.

This tends to be the case with the 2nd clásico of the season, not the first.  But here, a win for Barcelona will confirm their ‘okay’ status whilst condemning Madrid to depths of the league well below their already unthinkable 7th.  It will certainly signal yet another change of coach.  If they win, he still might go.  All these things have a general impact. They are not confined to the Bernabéu alone. Continue reading “Pond life making a splash”