Messi magic, BBC apotheosis and Bilbao battlegrounds

It’s going to be a busy week.  Tuesday night there’s a whole midweek league programme starting, with Espanyol v Real Madrid providing the kick-off, followed by Girona and Celta that same night. The Russian-driven need to finish the domestic campaign earlier this year is beginning to bite, but anyway, that’s entertainment. Continue reading “Messi magic, BBC apotheosis and Bilbao battlegrounds”

Rest-stop weekend?

Last week: 3/10 (30%)

Season: 76/169 (44%) 

It’s been a hectic week, with the apocalyptic Madrid-PSG clash, and next week promises to be doubly interesting with Chelsea and Man Utd both taking on Liga opposition, in the guise of Barça and Sevilla respectively. This weekend’s fixtures look almost like a rest-stop, with no massively significant games jumping out to catch the attention, save perhaps the Eibar v Barcelona fixture.  I’m on my way to Vienna, so on Sunday night I’ll pass the mantle on to Eduardo and rattle off a quick quiniela, the way I see it.  Eduardo got a massive 3/10 last week, but he did stick his neck out somewhat, which is the only way you’ll ever win any money, if that’s what you also do at the weekend. Continue reading “Rest-stop weekend?”

Non-tinted spectacles

There’s a little guy who always stands outside the bar near my flat when he wants a smoke, which is quite a frequent occurrence.  He has one of those wee white Scottish Terriers, and it sits obediently under the shelf where he places his drink and ashtray, with the newspaper always open at the football page.  He knows his stuff (the guy, not the dog), and I always like to talk to him for five minutes, sort of en passant. Approaching him Saturday lunchtime with a bag over my shoulder containing the weekend’s few possessions that I needed, I announced in Spanish the following phrase ‘Tengo buenas sensaciones’ (I have a good feeling) to which he instantly replied, ‘Sí. Estarán pensando en el PSG’ (Yes – they’ll be too busy thinking about PSG).  Continue reading “Non-tinted spectacles”

Licence to Dream (Fugu Philosophy)

I arrived back from a week in the weird and wonderful Tokyo late on Saturday night, thus missing various La Liga games of significance and the midweek King’s Cup ties.  No matter – I shall try to write something of use through my jet-lagged fog this Sunday evening, perhaps beginning in Tokyo on Thursday night where I was interviewed by the excellent journalist and writer Masa Tanabe.

Continue reading “Licence to Dream (Fugu Philosophy)”

Barça bonanza

It was the annual event of Barcelona’ season – the game they always dread and the one which has often determined their fates in previous years. I refer to the visit to Anoeta in San Sebastián, effected on Sunday night to close the 19th week, save Monday night’s game at Betis.  Many a culé crisis has traced its roots to Anoeta, and Barça had not won there in the league since Real Sociedad returned from their Second Division exile in 2010, picking up two draws and five defeats.  No other stadium has treated them so meanly.   And it gets worse.  Thirteen of Barça’s current squad had never won in Anoeta, and Luis Suarez had never scored there. Time to wipe the slate clean then, and discourage any thoughts that Atlético Madrid might have been harbouring on Saturday night, as they walked off the pitch at Eibar with a useful 0-1 win under their belts. We can forget about Real Madrid for a while, and let them stew in their own little crisis, as they hang on grimly to 4th place.  There are other matters to talk about first. Continue reading “Barça bonanza”

Costa – intense espresso

It’s been a pretty intense return from the Christmas break, with Coutinho arriving late down the chimney and Diego Costa starting both where he left off, and how he intends to go on.  You can’t keep a good man down.  Nevertheless, pride of place this weekend goes to the irrepressible Joaquin, who when he eventually retires will become a stand-up comedian of some stature.  Betis’ finest son has long been a breath of fresh air in the stifling world of tight-lipped correctness that accompanies most professional footballers’ press conferences, fearful as they are of upsetting their sponsors or of saying anything that might vaguely be of interest.  And whilst Joaquin may never be invited to address the Oxford Union, his post-match statement after his team’s bonkers 3-5 win in the Seville derby is already Spanish literary legend.  Continue reading “Costa – intense espresso”

Mince-pie musings

So you’re looking for deep analysis and insights regarding the clásico?  Look no further. The most significant aspect to emerge from Saturday’s clásico, in case it wasn’t obvious, is that Real Madrid have clearly made a mistake signing Kepa from Athletic Bilbao.  Dani Carvajal should have told Zidane before about his hidden skills, since the information would have saved the club the 20 million euros they’ve already invested in the Basque keeper.  Pics by courtesy of TF.

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Continue reading “Mince-pie musings”

Something special for Christmas

Phil Ball reviews the weekend in La Liga

It’s a cold and contemplative Sunday afternoon in Spain, with La Liga games still to be played before the night closes around us – particularly Barcelona v Deportivo, and although thoughts are dwelling on the clásico in a week’s time, everyone seems to be wetting themselves about Manchester City.  On my morning wander down the street for the papers, a barfly acquaintance stopped me to enquire about my view of Guardiola’s side, but I was unable to oblige with much intelligent comment because his dog wouldn’t stop barking at me.  Later, as I sipped my morning ‘Texan’ (Americano with a tiny drop of cold milk) in the local bar, two men were animatedly chatting about City (their goals against Tottenham had just appeared on the TV above them) and then on returning home, I clicked onto the BBC football site to witness Alan Shearer declaring that they could be one of the best teams of all time. Well – I’ll bow to Shearer’s playing record, but I’ve never been quite so convinced of his punditry, and by this time I would not have been surprised had my long-departed mother telepathically contacted me to inform me that Man City were the best she’d seen, from the world beyond. Continue reading “Something special for Christmas”