Is this the LaLiga we expected?
LaLiga is quickly becoming all that we expected before this season started. The theoretical top three (Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico) struggle to win theoretically winnable matches, whereas the following group of teams (Real Sociedad, as well as Sevilla and Villarreal, who both have a game in hand) have quickly become potential contenders for the title. On top of that, a couple of nice surprises in the form of Osasuna and Rayo occupy Europa League spots, while Athletic, Valencia and Betis have shown promising glimpses of what they could become if they achieved some sort of consistency.
However, there’s a slightly disappointing touch to the whole thing so far, as though watching the bigger teams play terrible football took some brilliance out of the increased competitiveness of the tournament.
Continue reading “Entertaining, but not painless”
After events such as Lisbon, one can always count on Shakespeare. Macbeth, sitting down in the morning for coffee and porridge after murdering the king in the night and having had a bit of verbal with the missus, is asked by fellow party-goer Lennox if he’s had a decent night’s sleep. ‘Twas a rough night’ replies Macca, deadpan. This is often used to teach the concept of dramatic irony to GCSE students in England, but if Shakespeare were alive today you’d probably prefer to just ask him – ‘You were taking the piss, right?’ Continue reading “A rough night in Lisbon”
Who overachieved, delivered or underachieved this season in LaLiga
The final weekend in LaLiga only brought one surprise: Espanyol managed to finish 7th as they surpassed two Basque teams, thus making the preliminary round of the Europa League. The Catalans defeated an apathetic Real Sociedad at home, and those three points allowed them to overtake Athletic, who played another awful away match at Sevilla. Continue reading “Season Review”
With yet another defeat to Barcelona in the Santiago Bernabeu – the fifth in six matches –, it’s the first time that Real Madrid have lost three consecutive home matches since 2004. Let’s finish the brutal statistics intro with the most hurting one for Real Madrid fans: after 87 years, Barcelona lead the head-to-head stats with 96 wins vs 95 for Real Madrid.
That said, let’s draw conclusions from these two clásicos and ponder what awaits Solari and his players for the rest of the season: Continue reading “Conclusions from two clásico defeats”
Given the foul weather on Sunday morning, I wandered down to the local bar with my papers and pored over the footy stuff, accompanied by my ‘Tejano’ coffee (Texan – which is an ‘Americano’ with a bit of cold milk) and a croissant whose sugary nature will mean some gym-ridden penance sessions this coming week. I like these coffee visits to the bar, usually alone. I can read all the Spanish news and all the sports tabloids, in perfect peace. In fact I stayed so long that Valladolid v Huesca began on the telly. ‘They’re going back down, that Huesca lot’ pronounced the owner of the bar from within shouting distance – aware of my weakness for football. I nodded. ‘They try to play football, but it doesn’t work for them – look!’ he proclaimed, as a pass went astray. Continue reading “Tantric antics”
This weekend was a multiple-derby theme, on the third ‘jornada’ of La Liga. There’s nothing like a good variety of derby-fests to fill the fans full of late summer cheer, especially with a fortnight’s break looming for the internationals (and an interesting game for Spain at Wembley ).
The Spanish have adopted the term ‘derby’ and re-spelt it ‘derbi’ although they seem generally unaware of the etymology of the word. In the past it was sometimes used more loosely to simply refer to any big game, to the extent that even the ‘clásico’ was called a derbi by some. But with the new globalised reach of LaLiga (without a space) the term clásico has stuck. The derbies, however, now conform to the accepted idea of being either a same-city encounter (Betis v Sevilla) or a same-region game (Eibar v Real Sociedad). This weekend saw two same-city clashes, one regional affair, and one in-between-the-categories affair, in an unusual cluster of fraternal frolicking. Continue reading “A weekend at the derby”
The 2018 World Cup, far more enjoyable than folks were expecting, was similar to a three-course meal that you spoiled by eating too much of the excellent starter (the Group Stage), leading you to a less spectacular but occasionally tasty main meal (knock-out stage), but a decent enough dessert to end the evening. Without wishing to stretch the metaphor any further, the best team won despite the dubious nature of their first two goals, in a game where both sides stuck to the guns that had seen them reach the final. Continue reading “Allons enfants de la Patrie!”
A disappointing Spain flies back home
It took me a while to digest Sunday’s defeat. Not only because I felt optimistic about the match and the squad, but especially because I liked the line-up and thought it sent the right message to the team and the rival.
However, it didn’t work. In fact, the match became the continuation of the downward spiral Spain’s game got into after the tournament started. Each match was a bit worse than the previous one in terms of energy, risks taken, errors committed. Making a simple extrapolation, the tournament was bound to end badly. Continue reading “Back home”
As Graham Taylor might have said (had his sympathies been directed towards Spain) ‘Did I not enjoy that!’ The Russians stride on, unconcerned about the nature of their victory, since victory it is. Perhaps Spain hadn’t quite seen it coming – in the sense that Russia, playing in front of the home crowd with a tail wind – might have been expected to have played a slightly more open game. Fair cop to them, of course, but half-way through the first half their supporters showed a certain lack of irony when booing the Spanish team for retaining possession of the ball. As the Spanish saying goes ‘¿Qué remedio?’ (what else could we do?), and in the second half it only got worse, with Russia completely renouncing any thoughts of more than two consecutive passes. Continue reading “Did I not enjoy that!”
Argentina defeat Nigeria and a few of their own ghosts
“Vení, vení, cantá conmigo” (Come, come, sing with me), starts the most repeated chant in Saint Petersburg during the last couple of days. The Argentines, present in every corner of the city, spent hours humming, whistling and very often singing the short, catchy tune off the top of their lungs, almost as a good luck charm that should make Lionel Messi and his teammates click in their do-or-die match against Nigeria. Continue reading “The night Saint Petersburg became Buenos Aires”