The dumbest thing that anyone can ever say about Spanish football is that it shouldn’t be mixed up with politics. Lots of people do say it, of course. When it’s convenient for them, Spain’s best-selling sport tabloid ‘Marca’ says it (both directly and indirectly), but in sheep-bleating the empty phrase they themselves are being political – of course.
I became interested in Spanish football precisely because it is so politicised, almost to the extent that Spanish football and Spanish politics are one and the same. The whole Barça-Real Madrid rivalry reflects the cultural and political history of Spain in a very accurate fashion. How could anyone deny this? Sid Lowe has written an excellent book about it (Fear and Loathing in La Liga) and if you look at another book called ‘Morbo’ (not sure who the geek was who wrote it), you’ll find plenty of the same. And it’s not just Barça-Madrid. Far from it. There’s enough political bad-will floating around the rest of Spain to keep those particular batteries charged for another millennium. Continue reading “Football and Politics: Spanish Bedfellows”
Pride cometh and goeth before a fall, and all that jazz. Is that the problem with Real Madrid, or is there really no problem at all? In Spanish football, a 7-point gap with 33 games remaining is the definition of a crisis. Real Madrid (or their lackeys in the press) now fear they will never catch table-topping Barcelona after the latest calamity to befall them, namely a 0-1 reverse in the Bernabéu against Betis, with a goal scored in the 94th minute – usually the time that the home side specialise in snaffling the points on a bad day. Continue reading “Pride cometh before a fall”
It’s a rainy Sunday night in the Basque Country, just for a change. In the fading light, the dusky grey sky blows late-evening clouds over Anoeta, around whose scaffolded and concrete structure the ants scurry as kick-off time looms. It’s one of those moments when you think you’re at the centre of the galaxy – that nowhere else can be as important as this, and you’re desperate to get inside. Real Sociedad v Real Madrid feels like the focus of the week, the penultimate game of the 4th ‘jornada’ in La Liga, although on the previous day the opening of Atlético’s new Wanda Metropolitano must have cultivated similar sensations. Continue reading “Madrid Back on Track”