The LaLiga show….so far

Phil reviews what’s happened so far, with special focus on Real Sociedad

The international break is always a good time to take stock. You take off your mask, breathe in breathe out, then decide whether, nine games in, you’re up and running again with the current season and the state of your nation. Maybe this season there’s little choice, confined to barracks as we are, slowly getting used to turning off the pop-up ads on the footy-streaming site and assimilating the fact that Rakel, 22, whose arse has just appeared in the far north-eastern corner of your screen, does not actually live around the corner. It’s all part of the new reality of bums, buffering and empty terraces. Bring it on.

Continue reading “The LaLiga show….so far”

The goalie who could win matches

Iker has retired. It’s hard to think there’ll be another one like him

For at least 10 years, I kept joking that Iker Casillas was challenging Julio Iglesias’ status as the greatest Spaniard ever.

Iglesias’ credentials are well-known, at least if you were born before 1980. Otherwise, let me explain: Julio is a billionaire singer who can’t actually sing – and yes, that deserves huge recognition—, which coupled with his global success and the fact that he managed to remain an irresistible sex-symbol for almost all of his adult life made him top the list. Ah! He also played on goal for Real Madrid until he broke his knee and changed careers… Nothing could go wrong for Julio. What else could you ask for in a Spaniard? Success, money, international recognition… Continue reading “The goalie who could win matches”

Can Mallorca get out of the hole?

The only pending question in the relegation battle

I guess we can now safely say that the relegation battle is almost over. Only Mallorca, in the 18th spot, have a slight chance of dribbling their way out of the Segunda next season. They’re five points behind Celta with 18 points to play, which means that, in order to stay up, they need at least 8-10 points and a terrible end of the season from one of the four following teams: Celta themselves,  Alaves, Eibar or Valladolid. The first condition looks really hard, especially because they still have to play Atleti and Sevilla in those last six matches, but they will also face a few teams who are playing for nothing at this point, so that could get them those points they need. Continue reading “Can Mallorca get out of the hole?”

Tough times to run FC Barcelona

LaLiga still up for grabs, but the Azulgrana have plenty to think about

Are Barcelona really at the end of an extremely successful cycle? I’m not going to dwell on what I wrote last week about the boredom that their current incarnation brings to the average football fan. The point is a different one this time: it’s not only that the sports side of things looks old, but especially that the club structure, eroded by years of poor management and ill-advised decisions, seems ready to implode. Continue reading “Tough times to run FC Barcelona”

Back to the old normal

Voice your indignation!

Believe me, it’s really hard to keep up with LaLiga’s frenzied comeback. Things get even more complex timewise as I’m moving to Brazil with my family and the whole process is a mess, but then it all becomes completely impossible to manage if I have to spend a long part of my Sunday evening trying to calm Phil down after the match between Reales.

“Everyone saw what happened yesterday in Anoeta”, said Barcelona’s Setién a few hours earlier today. We all did. What changes is the interpretation. But in any case, it’s not surprising that, VAR or no VAR, our national pastime is to feign outrage when calls don’t go our way. I’ll be doing exactly the same in the next few days, of that I’m sure. Continue reading “Back to the old normal”

Season Review

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”

The end of the road

Preview of LaLiga’s 38th week

It’s an intriguing weekend, this one. LaLiga has organised the relevant matches in two groups that kick off at the same time: one, on Saturday at 16:15, includes the matches that will determine who plays Champions League and Europa League football next season. The second cluster, on Saturday at 20:45, groups all teams in the relegation zone – and yes, Girona still has a minimal chance of staying up, but involves such a bizarre scenario that I believe that LaLiga has scheduled matches this way out of pure good manners. The remaining matches, completely meaningless, have been thrown around the weekend to fill the gaps for China – i.e. early kickoff times. Continue reading “The end of the road”

Strikers’ time

“They play like this [like a small team], that’s why they’re down [in the standings]”, were the bitter words of Mr Enrique Setién, coach of Real Betis Balompié, after his team were handed their backsides by Leganes back in February. That 3-0 victory took Leganes only three points below Betis, but Setién paid no attention to that fact and went on to say that if Leganes decided to attempt a ball possession approach like his inspiring, innovative, ground-breaking Betis (the adjectives are mine), they would miserably fail. Continue reading “Strikers’ time”

Getafe, Sevilla or Valencia?

Preview of LaLiga’s 35th week

The story of the season, Barcelona’s title aside, has to be Getafe. We’ve made fun quite often of his reduced set of followers, half empty stadium, bizarre decision-making in hirings and firings. But the fact is that coach Bordalas has put together such a competitive side that even though you’ll hardly fall in love with their tactics, watching them play is strangely addictive. Can they beat Sevilla and Valencia, much bigger and well funded clubs, for the fourth spot? That’s the most interesting subplot in these last four matches. Continue reading “Getafe, Sevilla or Valencia?”