Well that was pretty bonkers. It was always going to be an entertaining game with goals, but nobody could have quite predicted the events that would lead to Real Madrid’s 13th European Cup, their 7th since the Champions League era began in 1992. It was also their third consecutive win, a record in the post-1992 period, and their 4th in the last 5 seasons. For younger readers, Madrid won the first 5 European Cups consecutively between 1956 and 1960, and they will struggle to either equal or supersede that record, but their achievement in the modern era is nothing short of remarkable, especially with the quality of the opposition hanging around the competition these days. Continue reading “Thirteen and counting”
How nice, and how rare, that La Liga simmered to the final day with nothing much at stake, so that the focus could be on other matters and not on the infamous ‘maletines’ – the metaphorical (or literal, according to some) suitcases stuffed with euros that habitually change hands between gentlemen of shifty appearance and dark glasses, allegedly in the loos of Spanish motorway service-stations. Continue reading “Final day reflections”
Despite the winding-down of La Liga, now in the dying-swan phase of the season, the penultimate weekend produced some interesting stuff and the Second Division scene heated up a little bit more, with three games still to go and nothing at the top decided. And as we know, all good runs come to an end, empires eventually fall, Michael Jackson’s Thriller will one day be replaced as the biggest-selling album of all time and Barcelona will lose their record run to Levante in a 5-4 bonkers game, a thriller of its own with various zombies appearing in the Catalan defence, Yerry Mina and Jordi Alba in particular. Continue reading “’twas a rough night”
Giving referee Hernández Hernández the clásico was a bit like expecting Neville Chamberlain to sort out the mess in Europe, circa 1938, but at least it guaranteed some extra entertainment. It makes you wonder what criteria the refereeing committee consult for this kind of occasion, but at least we were spared Mateu Lahoz, busy flexing his cheek-whistling muscles for Russia. Continue reading “A jolly good game”
Sunday night: the twenty minutes between Deportivo’s 63 minute equaliser in Riazor and the goal by Messi in the 83rd that guaranteed Barcelona’s 25th league title summed up why the Catalans have never really looked like stumbling from the podium this season. Continue reading “Twenty-five and counting”
It’s been a hectic football-full week. I got back to Spain from Moscow in the early hours of Thursday morning but awoke from slumbers 16 hours later to effect a quick motorbike trip to Anoeta to see Real Sociedad aggressively annihilate Atlético Madrid and become the first side to score three against them in a league game this season.
Three days later, with a much-changed side, Real Sociedad lost to relegated Málaga without committing a single foul – the first time this has happened in La Liga since 2003. To continue the Russian theme – it’s Tolstoy football – war then peace. Then came Saturday night and the King’s Cup Final, the annual attempt by the Spanish authorities to find some musicians who can play the national anthem, preceded by the ministerial letter to TVE1, Spain’s main public channel, to remind them to turn down the volume during the ritual whistling of the monarchy – this year King Felipe VI in the Willy Wonka Metropolitano stadium, the ground of the team (Atlético) that he allegedly supports. I hope he was watching the 3-0 defeat on the telly last Thursday, assuming they can afford the subscription at the palace. Continue reading “Annual anthem-whistling”
Well, we think it’s all over. After Saturday’s 2-1 home win over Valencia, Barcelona would have to lose four of the six remaining matches for 2nd place Atletico de Madrid to entertain any hopes of contending for the title. Having in mind that the Azulgrana have not lost in their last 39 La Liga matches – a new record in that competition –, four defeats in six seems as likely as Guardiola reacting graciously in defeat. Continue reading “Preferably, joy in the end”