One of life’s great dilemmas is when you travel to an away match and are unsure of where and when to eat. In the south-west of Madrid on Friday night, in the town known as Leganés, I ask the stressed-out barman in ‘El Tiburon’ (The Shark) if we could partake of two hamburgers, the ‘Tiburón’ special and ‘El Clásico’, the latter’s ingredients seeming to have little connection to the famous game it appears to be named after, but then again the former is also struggling to justify itself, with a certain lack of shark-infested waters to the south-west of Madrid. It’s 21.15 and the Leganés-Real Sociedad game starts in exactly an hour, about ten minutes’ walk from the Shark. The pallid old barman shakes his head; ‘It’ll take a while’ he says, nodding his head sideways to the kitchen, in which a lone frantic woman is cooking in a frenzy, as opposed to a frying pan. Continue reading “The Hamburger Chronicles”
Welcome back to the party, dear readers, and we hope you had a good summer because now it’s over and you will from now on be obliged to sit at home and watch La Liga unfold yet again like a late-blooming flower, all multi-coloured petals, stripes and diagonals (Rayo, Huesca, Girona), centenary white (Valencia) all topped off nicely by the yucky puce of Valladolid – but we wish them no ill-will. Continue reading “Liga Fever’s season to come”
A mí me hace cierta gracia cuando el Bobby Charlton de la política, ese Iñaki Anasagasti del peinado tan bonito, acusa a La Real de tener a ‘mercenarios’ en su plantilla. Pues hombre, con la pinta que tiene sería mucho más sensato callarse, pero bueno – si quiere llamar la atención más aún, será su problemilla. No obstante, hay que confesar que Iñaki tiene cierta razón sobre los mercenarios, porque es verdad que los ha habido en la plantilla de La Real, aunque curiosamente ya entrenan en Lezama y juegan en el Athletic, y conducen coches mucho más chulos que los que conducían cuando entrenaban en Zubieta, si no me equivoco. Continue reading “¿Kantera de Lezama? Mis huevos.”
On Ronaldo’s Real Madrid tenure
Note: This is a highly personal account of Cristiano Ronaldo’s tenure as a Real Madrid player. To throw in some relevant background, I have to say that I don’t attach much importance to individual accolades in a sport that uses eleven players plus subs, and that I also believe that it’s almost impossible to decide who the GOAT is in most sports, especially football.
I was recently reminded by a reader that in the old ESPN days of yore, I used to do my top eleven La Liga players of the season, with a subs’ bench to boot. This was often compared to Sid Lowe’s ‘The Sids’, and sundry debates did unfold. Ah well, Sid’s super famous now, but I guess if folks still want to know mine, we can just call it ‘The Balls’. I did once suggest that to ESPN, but as you know, it’s a family site. Here on Liga Fever, we can do what the hell we like.
*With the World Cup comin’ up, this was a piece I wrote for the New York Times in 2006, just after Spain had lost to France in the World Cup. It was the last time the national side were to really suffer from the ‘Quixote effect’, and looking back, it’s interesting how the piece quietly predicts the changes to come. If you prefer, the original is here:
I recall a time when Rod Stewart was still able to write songs. He composed a ditty entitled “Every Picture Tells a Story” some time way back in the previous century, and I remember the opening lines well: Continue reading “Shaking off the Quixote effect (2006)”
Wrote this piece for BBC sport as a warm-up for Saturday’s Champions League final.
Final preview to be posted on Friday morning.
The top Spanish game of the weekend was on ‘Gol’ TV at 20.00 on Sunday night. I watched it whilst eating my supper and I was well entertained. Barcelona (2nd) hosted Atlético Madrid (1st) and the game ended in a 1-1 draw – the right result I’d say. The (woman) ref gave a dodgy penalty to Barcelona, so that’s where the first parallel with the men’s game comes in, after leaders Atlético had taken a first-half lead with a neatly lobbed goal by the evergreen ‘Soni’ (Sonia Bermudez), the tiny 33 year-old forward who played for Barcelona during two periods, interrupted by a (paid) year in New York and followed by a transfer to current champions Atlético.
In the end, everything went to plan. The game featuring the two best defences in Spain’s top flight ended 1-0, with a sublime free-kick strike from Messi – just for a change – and a dogged performance from Atlético that lacked the punch necessary to get a result and prolong the La Liga fun.
Last week: 3/10 (30%)
Season: 76/169 (44%)
It’s been a hectic week, with the apocalyptic Madrid-PSG clash, and next week promises to be doubly interesting with Chelsea and Man Utd both taking on Liga opposition, in the guise of Barça and Sevilla respectively. This weekend’s fixtures look almost like a rest-stop, with no massively significant games jumping out to catch the attention, save perhaps the Eibar v Barcelona fixture. I’m on my way to Vienna, so on Sunday night I’ll pass the mantle on to Eduardo and rattle off a quick quiniela, the way I see it. Eduardo got a massive 3/10 last week, but he did stick his neck out somewhat, which is the only way you’ll ever win any money, if that’s what you also do at the weekend. Continue reading “Rest-stop weekend?”