New Year, Old Socks

New Year, old socks, as my father used to say.  Anything new, borrowed or blue?  Well, as far as I can see from my lookout post here in the wild north of Spain, things are pretty much the same.  Real Madrid are blue having been defeated by Getafe (they play in blue, in case you didn’t get the joke), and was it simply a case of no-Vinicius-no-party?  Possibly, but the old socks would seem to be the tendency of Real Madrid to start every new year with some trepidation, and this year it was a player who is normally borrowed on loan (Enes Unal) but who now plays in blue who did the early damage, from which RM never recovered. 

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Squid Game

Just finished Squid Game, and before you say ‘What took you so long?’ I have the pre-prepared retort that I prefer to let the hype settle before I tune in. I came late to Game of Thrones for the same reason, but returning to the Korean series, I wasn’t expecting that ending.  I won’t deliver a spoiler, but unexpected twists are hard to deliver these days….and in football terms, you probably know where this is heading.  It seems as if Spanish football is in need of ‘a Leicester’, a twist – and has been in need for some time now.  

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Matchday 17

Matchday 17

As Julius Caesar said – a coward dies a thousand deaths but a valiant man tastes death only once.  I’ll try to be as valiant as possible here, but we do need to improve on Eduardo’s score of 3/10 last week. It’s one thing being valiant, but sometimes you need to get it right. I’ve stepped in this week because Ed (who is generally valiant in his predictions) is on a long-haul flight as I write. So let’s see if this week’s fixtures are any easier to predict. 

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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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