Yes, we did attend the Libertadores final at the Santiago Bernabeu, and our team won. The match started off on the wrong foot, with plenty of mistakes as both teams felt the pressure of those weeks of anticipation, but ended up in dramatic fashion, as one would expect of such a convoluted final. After all the doubts about watching it at home or going to the stadium, the risk was well worth it. It was a memorable night. Continue reading “The two Messis”
Feel my pain: it’s very hard to write this column while I’ve got two tickets for River vs Boca at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday next to my laptop and an eight-month pregnant wife who roots for River dying to go to the match. Of course, we’re totally aware that it does not make any sense to get anywhere close to the stadium, and yet… Continue reading “El Clásico at Home”
As Bobby Robson said, ‘The first 90 minutes are the most important’. That’s what we’ll be basing the quiniela on this weekend, give or take a few stoppage-time accidents and the fatigue/morale of the teams who were involved in European ties and even the Copa del Rey (Athletic and Huesca). I’m taking my turn to do the predictions this time around due to a quick hop over to Africa at the weekend, which will prevent me from seeing most of the LaLiga games, so Eduardo will do the round-up. Continue reading “The first 90 minutes”
Two weeks ago, this scribe wrote “If Betis can take the ball away from Barcelona and get a result at the Camp Nou, I’ll believe in Setien”. Well, I’ll now have to believe in the wizard from Santander, leaving aside my obvious reluctance for his patronizing way of describing how the other teams play and his habit of throwing his own players under the bus after a poor performance. Wait, did I just write that? Continue reading “Biases and Soft Spots”
Many of you probably don’t like LaLiga’s president Javier Tebas, and you may very well have a perfectly good reason for it. To Barcelona fans, his support of Real Madrid makes him a representative of the enemy in a terrible position to have one. To the most irrational Real Madrid supporters, he’s someone who believes that Lionel Messi is the best player ever. To the rest of the teams, he’s the responsible party for the current inequality in the revenue distribution among LaLiga clubs, and thus the man who is still perpetuating the gap between the top two and the struggling followers. He’s also guilty of La Liga having become LaLiga (nospace). Adding insult to injury, he wants to take a LaLiga match to the USofA, not really giving a s*it about local fans missing that one in their home stadium. In short, he’s indeed no saint, and to the more or less objective reasons mentioned in this paragraph, you may throw on top that he’s just not a very likeable person at all. Continue reading “Greed is good”
The not totally surprising La Liga immolation of a certain team from the capital has hidden the disappointing beginning to the season of another three talented, high-ish budget teams that, so far, have failed to impress. I’m talking about Betis, currently in the 13th spot of the standings, Valencia in the 14th and Villarreal in 17th. Continue reading “Underperformers”
The clásico tends to put the rest of the fixtures into the shade, over in the small pond with its pond-life flapping and flipping about – a minor eco-system of relative irrelevance compared to the leviathans chopping through the waves of their own public importance. And yet the ‘look at me’ aspect of Sunday’s clásico differs in several ways to previous encounters. For one, the absence of Messi and Ronaldo is certainly interesting (it’s the first time they both missed for eleven years) and for two, you get the feeling that the result – come what may – will have a major influence on the development of events this season.
This tends to be the case with the 2nd clásico of the season, not the first. But here, a win for Barcelona will confirm their ‘okay’ status whilst condemning Madrid to depths of the league well below their already unthinkable 7th. It will certainly signal yet another change of coach. If they win, he still might go. All these things have a general impact. They are not confined to the Bernabéu alone. Continue reading “Pond life making a splash”
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”
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”
Remember, it’s ‘1’ for a home win, ‘X’ for a draw and ‘2’ for an away win.
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”