It’s going to be a busy week. Tuesday night there’s a whole midweek league programme starting, with Espanyol v Real Madrid providing the kick-off, followed by Girona and Celta that same night. The Russian-driven need to finish the domestic campaign earlier this year is beginning to bite, but anyway, that’s entertainment. Continue reading “Messi magic, BBC apotheosis and Bilbao battlegrounds”
Review of La Liga’s 24th week
The rest-stop week that Phil predicted in his latest Quiniela ended up being exactly that. With nine matches already played (Getafe and Celta are due to face each other on Monday), things have not changed much in the standings: Barcelona keep their seven-point advantage over Atletico de Madrid, and most teams kept their rankings intact. However, plenty happened during the weekend. Let’s start with Barcelona’s match on Saturday, their tough visit to the tiny Eibar. Continue reading “Business as usual”
I arrived back from a week in the weird and wonderful Tokyo late on Saturday night, thus missing various La Liga games of significance and the midweek King’s Cup ties. No matter – I shall try to write something of use through my jet-lagged fog this Sunday evening, perhaps beginning in Tokyo on Thursday night where I was interviewed by the excellent journalist and writer Masa Tanabe.
“Football isn’t math”, answered Andres Iniesta right after Barcelona defeated Alaves 2-1 on La Liga’s 21st matchday, as his interviewer asked him to compare stats of hosts and visitors in an eventful 90 minutes. His remarkable Sunday night performance, as it is usually the case with Iniesta, is also hard to describe in terms of numbers and figures, but it’s fair to say that the tiny, balding gentleman from La Mancha shone above everyone else in Philipe Coutinho’s La Liga debut. Continue reading “No math in football”
I’m not quite sure where to start tonight, at Lugo or in the Bernabéu. Oh alright then, let’s go over to the White House, where the present occupants are all smiling again after stuffing ‘Doctor Deportivo’ 7-1 (thus called for their so-called ‘aspirin effect’ on suffering teams). Continue reading “White-House press briefing”
It was the annual event of Barcelona’ season – the game they always dread and the one which has often determined their fates in previous years. I refer to the visit to Anoeta in San Sebastián, effected on Sunday night to close the 19th week, save Monday night’s game at Betis. Many a culé crisis has traced its roots to Anoeta, and Barça had not won there in the league since Real Sociedad returned from their Second Division exile in 2010, picking up two draws and five defeats. No other stadium has treated them so meanly. And it gets worse. Thirteen of Barça’s current squad had never won in Anoeta, and Luis Suarez had never scored there. Time to wipe the slate clean then, and discourage any thoughts that Atlético Madrid might have been harbouring on Saturday night, as they walked off the pitch at Eibar with a useful 0-1 win under their belts. We can forget about Real Madrid for a while, and let them stew in their own little crisis, as they hang on grimly to 4th place. There are other matters to talk about first. Continue reading “Barça bonanza”
It’s been a pretty intense return from the Christmas break, with Coutinho arriving late down the chimney and Diego Costa starting both where he left off, and how he intends to go on. You can’t keep a good man down. Nevertheless, pride of place this weekend goes to the irrepressible Joaquin, who when he eventually retires will become a stand-up comedian of some stature. Betis’ finest son has long been a breath of fresh air in the stifling world of tight-lipped correctness that accompanies most professional footballers’ press conferences, fearful as they are of upsetting their sponsors or of saying anything that might vaguely be of interest. And whilst Joaquin may never be invited to address the Oxford Union, his post-match statement after his team’s bonkers 3-5 win in the Seville derby is already Spanish literary legend. Continue reading “Costa – intense espresso”