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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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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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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Of Rats and Ants

Let’s begin with a rant, which is always a jolly good way to end the weekend.  The word ‘rant’ contains a rat and an ant, the former perhaps characterising the two teams from Madrid who decided not to play this weekend, and the latter the obedient non-thinking workers of La Liga who would prefer not to upset the more powerful members of the nest. 

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Matchday 7

Koeman’s bed & breakfast, and stateless sheriffs

Three things are inevitable this weekend:  I’ll forget where I’ve put my underpants, the cock will crow at the onset of dawn, and Barcelona will win at Atlético. You may scoff at the latter, but both Eduardo and myself agree on the inevitability of this result, which means that you’ll get at least one correct on this weekend’s quiniela

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Vinny, Benz and the Barça blues

Rockin’ and a rollin’ with the new twins of mayhem, Real Madrid lead the table and it ain’t even autumn. Wake me up, when September ends. Vinny and Benz, the fashionable couple of football now, have for some reason struck up a partnership that will either prove to be a devastating argument for the white ones’ title prospects or an excellent way of hiding the other deficiencies that exist in the squad, exacerbated further by Carvajal joining the limp-master Bale in Madrid’s dry-dock. 

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Beach Wisdom

It was Monday night and I’d just nipped down to the beach for a cooling dip, as you do.  It’d been a muggy day in San Sebastián and I’d been suffering a bit in the office all day.  The good thing about going for a swim early evening is that most of the day-trippers have gone home, and I can usually count on bumping into a sort of mate of mine, an ex-pro neighbour who played for several top-flight clubs but who has been retired for a while now, living the life of Riley as an agent.   Good bloke though, and always up for a natter.  Sure enough, he emerged from the sea five minutes after me and we had a drying-down chat in the fading bronze light of the beach.  

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Happy with Mbappé?

Before we get onto the minor stuff – Messi, Mbappé, Memphis, let me just tell you about my weekend.  Live football is good, particularly after pandemic-based confinements, and so like many other dysfunctional members of my species I’m trying to attend as much as possible.  As Stephen Fry said of religion, ‘It’s what some people do with their madness’.  My madness is more ball than Bible-based, and my pilgrimage sites tend to involve terracing.  Which is why people should never get married on Saturdays.  Why Saturdays, ffs? The wedding reception I was invited to unfortunately coincided with Real Sociedad v Levante on Saturday, meaning that another lucky madman got my seat (I gave it to him, in a Christian act of altruism) but it really isn’t good enough.  Why can’t people have wedding receptions on a Thursday night?  They would then only coincide with the Europa League, and the loss would be of little consequence.   Propose this soon to your local MP. You know it makes sense.

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