The old school pecking order

Preview of LaLiga’s 9th week

Last week I spent some time watching PSG, something I rarely do. As Neymar kept feeding Kylian Mbappe time and again, I remembered an old interview with the great Michael Laudrup in which he spoke about his changing role on the pitch as his game evolved. I can’t quote him exactly, but he spoke of his time with Juventus as an apprenticeship under another memorable icon, Michel Platini. His words were something like: “At that time, Platini was the king of the team. He hogged the ball, saw the gaps in the defence and passed it through magnificently, while I just ran and ran after it. Then I understood that, in football’s pecking order, passing is well above running to meet those passes”. That interview took place when Laudrup played for Real Madrid. His previous move from Juventus to Barcelona meant he was now the passer, not the runner, and from that point onwards, he’d never had to run as much again in his career. Continue reading “The old school pecking order”

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Chaos reigns

Do you think we’ve had enough upsets already? Well, my money is on two more this weekend. Yes, Real Madrid and Barcelona won’t win their matches. Even in that case, with subversion and chaos taking over LaLiga, they may not lose the first two spots. Should be an extremely entertaining weekend.

Shall we? Remember, it’s ‘1’ for a home win, ‘X’ for a draw and ‘2’ for an away win. Continue reading “Chaos reigns”

To more upsets

upset
This is what appears if you google “upset”

Well, that midweek jornada was a shocker. Barcelona and Real Madrid lost, which got Atletico, Alaves, Sevilla and Espanyol within striking range of the leading duo. Not only did they lose, but they did it in convincing fashion, looking like the worse side in their respective matches. In the case of Barcelona, the start of the second half sealed their fate. In Real Madrid’s, their first 45 minutes were simply appalling. Fans of LaLiga keep defending their competitiveness, but they do it by using biased data. The fact is that nights like Wednesday’s should happen way more often if the tournament were to be as even as it was 30 years ago. Continue reading “To more upsets”

Midweek quickie

No foreplay, let’s just do it.

Remember, it’s ‘1’ for a home win, ‘X’ for a draw and ‘2’ for an away win.

  1. Espanyol (8th) vs Eibar (11th): 1. (Tue, 20:00)

Both look promising, both play better than expected. Last season, Eibar’s visit to the Cornellá stadium resulted in the dismissal of Quique Sanchez Flores, back then Espanyol’s coach. That brought Rubi on board, and the team’s improvement is clear. Expect plenty of rotations in both teams; Eibar’s coach Mendilibar, huge fan of the 23-man squad, could change up to nine starters vs last weekend’s match. I’m not that keen on revamps at the beginning of the season, so let’s take the home side. Continue reading “Midweek quickie”

Better in the flesh

Let’s start with a confession: as years add to my odometer, I’m becoming less and less disciplined in terms of watching football live at the stadium. A few years ago, I would not only watch my team’s matches at the Santiago Bernabeu, but would also make the most of every chance to see other teams at their own stadia, regardless of the country I’d be at. Hell, I even went to watch a West Ham vs Man City in a weekend in London – totally deserved the £458 tube trip from the west of London to the West of Ham, or a Aston Villa – Chelsea in which Tore Andre Flo starred — do not recommend Birmingham though. A Southampton vs Wimbledon in which LeTiss scored off a corner kick in a classic winter British afternoon also comes to mind. Continue reading “Better in the flesh”

The Spain we should have seen at the World Cup

Preview of LaLiga’s 4thmatchday

Is the Spanish national team back? After winning at Wembley and thrashing World Cup runners-up Croatia, looks like new coach Luis Enrique has found the right approach to get the most out of the talented midfield and play an exciting, hard-to-stop brand of football.

However, this team never went away. The terrible sequence of decisions involving Florentino Perez, Julen Lopetegui and Luis Rubiales – and, for the record, I believe that the third name was as much to blame as the other two combined – wasted some outstanding preparation for the World Cup and made the team lose their focus at the worst possible time. Continue reading “The Spain we should have seen at the World Cup”

Luis Enrique takes the driving seat

Preview of LaLiga’s third week

The (not very long) wait is over. Luis Enrique announced his first list as the coach of the Spanish national team, and the surprises were minimal. Jordi Alba, with whom Luis Enrique does not get along since his time at the Barcelona bench, was left out, as were Koke, Lucas Vazquez and Iago Aspas. I have to admit that I’m shocked that Isco made the cut.

True to form, Luis Enrique said that he would not discuss Aspas’ case or any other, for that matter. He also announced more “surprises” in upcoming lists and invited the injured Diego Llorente, who just broke his leg, to share these days with the team so that he “cheers up a bit”. Continue reading “Luis Enrique takes the driving seat”