After a shambolic midweek performance by several sides, only 12 La Liga teams will be included in the pool for the last-16 round of the Copa del Rey. Athletic de Bilbao and Real Sociedad managed to lose at home to Third Division sides and crashed out of the tournament in embarrassing fashion. Betis lost 5-3 to Cadiz at their own stadium and were also eliminated. Continue reading “Copa del Rey virus”
It may sound like an exaggeration, but it’s not: the future of this La Liga season depends on a single match to be played on Sunday evening. Barcelona visit Valencia with a four-point advantage over the Ches and a 10-point lead over both Real Madrid and Atletico. If Barcelona win, it’s hard to imagine the chain of negative results that would see them lose the title. That sounds even more difficult when, with the exception of the somewhat inexperienced Valencia, the remaining candidates look far from their best shape, and therefore unlikely to start a running streak of wins that would put pressure on the Azulgranas. Continue reading “Valencia, the last obstacle between Barcelona and the title”
I don’t dislike international breaks one bit, especially when World Cup spots are at stake. Although the bunch of nil-nils was a bit disappointing, we got to see some feel-good stories and a few shocks, such as the Italian disaster. However, I’ll admit that these breaks do alter the pace of the national tournaments quite a bit and all they imply: analyses, gossip, team’s form, certain La Liga blog… Continue reading “A desperate Madrid derby”
Right before another international break, La Liga offers a somewhat underwhelming picture: an unassailable leader; a mild fight over Champions League spots; few real candidates to compete for Europa League positions; and a crystal clear bottom-three.
Earlier this week, Tottenham Hotspurs’ coach Mauricio Pochettino said that “Our objective is to try to win the Premier League and the Champions League. For me, two real trophies”.
This column wholeheartedly agrees with Pochettino’s ambition. We only want to write about real trophies too. In the middle of the week, this scribe successfully avoided the temptation of jotting down a few lines about the Copa del Rey: nothing more boring than its two-legged, extremely uneven early stages. Continue reading “Real trophies”
La Liga’s ninth week looks like an easy one in terms of predictions. Beware, though. Much has been said about the FIFA virus and the effect of international weeks on the performance of top teams the following weekend, but the UEFA virus also exists, especially in the case of Europa League participants. Continue reading “UEFA Virus?”
For many of us, football takes up an inordinate amount of space and time in our lives. We devote hours and days to following news, watching matches and analysing results, no matter whether it is midweek or weekend, day or night, South American qualifiers for the World Cup or a Premier League match between two struggling sides on a rainy night, perhaps in Stoke.
However, sometimes real life yells out, shows you its uglier face, takes that mental space back and sends football back to what it should be: fantastic entertainment that deserves our attention only every once in a while. Continue reading “La Liga to the rescue”
This scribe knows well that the title of this column may mislead some readers given the current context in Spain. Many could think that I was going to write about Catalonia, but that’s not the case. What is currently happening there undeniably has a somewhat rebellious component, but has little to do with the humble: the region is one of the richest in the country and, according to surveys, its richer citizens demand full independence in greater proportion than its less wealthy ones, who wish to remain in Spain. Catalan secessionism, among other less pragmatic reasons, has a lot to do with stopping the region’s financial contributions to the rest of Spain. Continue reading “Rebellion of the Humble”
There’s a new powerhouse in La Liga, probably at the level of Real Madrid and Barcelona. Yes, their budget is considerably smaller, but when you look at Atletico’s squad now, and what it will become in January, there’s very little argument: they can compete with the best in Europe. Continue reading “Atlético make the big move”
Quiniela for the 5th set of fixtures of the season
How much time does a footballer need to show his true potential? In some cases, probably years. Which club or coach has the patience to wait all that time nowadays? Sometimes there’s no room for error, as it’s hard to justify certain investments and salaries with the mere hope that prospect X can bloom into a fantastic asset.
But when clubs take their time and it works, it’s a fantastic feeling for their usually fickle football fans. Think of Isco, for instance. It has taken him a few seasons and a bizarre conjunction of events to feel at ease in a Real Madrid shirt and show all the talent many of us – not me, by the way – thought he had. Or Marcelo, who arrived in Madrid ten seasons ago and could have left the club quite a few times before he finally looked not only talented, but as consistent as he does today.