Overdose of motivation

Preview of Spain vs Russia

“Cautious optimism” is probably the concept that best summarises the atmosphere in the Spanish camp hours before their match against Russia in Moscow. True to form, coach Fernando Hierro has decided to focus on the motivational aspect of the contest. One only needs to see the squad train for a short warm-up session and it’s evident that they can beat any team if they feel like playing hard, so it makes sense that Hierro touches the incentives rather than the tactics. Continue reading “Overdose of motivation”

Game of thrones

It’s a slightly strange scene on Monday in Group B, with permutations galore should unexpected things happen – and the most unexpected thing would be that Morocco, already homeward bound, defeated Spain by such a margin as to cause a draw in the other game between Portugal and Iran (a more likely result) to take the latter two through, sending Spain packing, along with their African neighbours.   In the murky past, when Spain were considered a decent technical side limited by a lack of tactical discipline and/or big tournament mentality, this is the sort of game they might indeed have bottled, and although times have clearly changed, nobody in the Spanish press is taking Morocco lightly, a side without points but with plenty of kudos garnered from their first two games. Continue reading “Game of thrones”

Could Hierro have a Zidane effect?

Preview of Spain vs Iran

Will the Spanish national team make this humble scribe eat his own words? According to the sounds I hear from their concentration hotel, they very well might.

I’m referring to my irate piece on the bizarre chain of events that ended up with Fernando Hierro on the Spanish bench for this World Cup. Among other decisions from different individuals who earned my righteous disapproval, I could not see how Hierro’s arrival could improve Spain’s chances of winning the tournament, but here we are, and it now seems like most players have warmed to the arrival of Fernando Hierro faster than could have been expected. Continue reading “Could Hierro have a Zidane effect?”

Horror show in Russia

Or how to start a tournament off the wrong foot

The sequence of events surrounding the Spanish national team in the few days before the beginning of the World Cup deserves to be remembered as the pinnacle of Spanish sports weirdness, and that is quite a feat.

Decisions made and actions taken by every participant can indeed be justified: Real Madrid / Florentino’s ego needed a top-level coach; Julen Lopetegui felt that Real Madrid never calls twice, although a certain Fabio Capello may differ; and Mr Rubiales, the president of the Spanish FA, surely thought that Lopetegui’s behavior was disloyal to such an extent that the Basque coach could be trusted no longer.

But the fact that all three parties can argue their respective cases does not mean that they’re right. In fact, and from my extremely humble perspective, they are all closer to idiocy than to rational, sensitive behavior. Continue reading “Horror show in Russia”

A matter of focus

Preview of the Champions League final

A couple of days ago, a loyal twitter follower reminded me of the closing tweet in my summary thread after last season’s Champions League final in Cardiff, in which I explained how the gentleman next to me said: “See you in the next Final!” as a manner of farewell. We were simply ecstatic, and indeed overconfident. Continue reading “A matter of focus”

Football, always a priority

Preview of La Liga’s final weekend

Last Sunday, I decided to go out for dinner. The football menu was a meaningless Levante – Barcelona, in which neither team had anything to play for, so it seemed the right Sunday to dine out. Continue reading “Football, always a priority”

Tebas roots for Olympique

Preview of La Liga’s 37 week

Given that, except for Sevilla, no one really cares about these last two weeks of competition, La Liga could at least make their best effort not to become a nuisance for its participants. It’s nobody’s fault that the season ended prematurely because of the huge gap between the best team and the rest, and between the worst trio and the rest. But surely, La Liga should want their teams to do well in European competitions, right? Continue reading “Tebas roots for Olympique”