Sour Grapes

zidane enfadado

The match:

For the first time since Zinedine Zidane took over, Real Madrid have lost two matches in a row. More than the defeats, the way in which they have happened is what should concern the French coach. This team succeeded because of their dominating midfield, but is now losing and looking completely overwhelmed because of that same midfield. Continue reading “Sour Grapes”

Time for Zidane to step up

zidane girona

If we have to judge by their performance in Girona, Real Madrid seem determined to abandon all hopes of retaining their La Liga crown well before Christmas. Of course, there’s still plenty of tournament ahead, including two head-to-head matches against leaders Barcelona, but for lack of a better description, Zinedine Zidane’s team looks almost bored with the competition this season. Continue reading “Time for Zidane to step up”

Real trophies

Earlier this week, Tottenham Hotspurs’ coach Mauricio Pochettino said that “Our objective is to try to win the Premier League and the Champions League. For me, two real trophies”.

This column wholeheartedly agrees with Pochettino’s ambition. We only want to write about real trophies too. In the middle of the week, this scribe successfully avoided the temptation of jotting down a few lines about the Copa del Rey: nothing more boring than its two-legged, extremely uneven early stages. Continue reading “Real trophies”

The Benzema Debate

In the overblown controversy between Gary Lineker and Zinedine Zidane over Karim Benzema’s talents (or lack thereof), some have missed the obvious. One of them is a pundit doing his job: opinions on the game, including his personal preferences about players, even if he does not watch them play that often. The other is a coach also doing his job: defending his squad no matter what, especially against any outside critics.

Debates about Benzema’s right to start for Real Madrid begin with a very misleading fact: he wears the number 9 shirt. Continue reading “The Benzema Debate”

UEFA Virus?

Preview of La Liga’s 9th week

La Liga’s ninth week looks like an easy one in terms of predictions. Beware, though. Much has been said about the FIFA virus and the effect of international weeks on the performance of top teams the following weekend, but the UEFA virus also exists, especially in the case of Europa League participants. Continue reading “UEFA Virus?”

La Liga to the rescue

Preview of La Liga’s 8th week

For many of us, football takes up an inordinate amount of space and time in our lives. We devote hours and days to following news, watching matches and analysing results, no matter whether it is midweek or weekend, day or night, South American qualifiers for the World Cup or a Premier League match between two struggling sides on a rainy night, perhaps in Stoke.

However, sometimes real life yells out, shows you its uglier face, takes that mental space back and sends football back to what it should be: fantastic entertainment that deserves our attention only every once in a while. Continue reading “La Liga to the rescue”

Isco or Iniesta?

The homework is done. After their 3-0 victory over Albania, Spain have qualified for their eleventh World Cup in a row. Their last group match, away against Israel on Monday, will allow Lopetegui to give quality minutes to representatives of his under-21 squad, some of whom have already shown that they can deliver in the top international level as well as they did when they played for the Basque coach in Spain’s youth teams. Continue reading “Isco or Iniesta?”

The Matter at Hand

“Piqué, I love you”, screamed a section of the fans as the Barcelona player jumped onto the Rico Perez stadium in Alicante on Thursday. Another section booed him with all their might. While a silent majority of the 28,000 supporters present watched the Spanish National team train, both groups kept at it with decreasing intensity. Continue reading “The Matter at Hand”

Rebellion of the Humble

Preview of La Liga’s 7th week

This scribe knows well that the title of this column may mislead some readers given the current context in Spain. Many could think that I was going to write about Catalonia, but that’s not the case. What is currently happening there undeniably has a somewhat rebellious component, but has little to do with the humble: the region is one of the richest in the country and, according to surveys, its richer citizens demand full independence in greater proportion than its less wealthy ones, who wish to remain in Spain. Catalan secessionism, among other less pragmatic reasons, has a lot to do with stopping the region’s financial contributions to the rest of Spain. Continue reading “Rebellion of the Humble”