As Paul Gascoigne once remarked ‘“I’ve had 14 bookings this season—eight of them were my fault, but the other seven were disputable.” What is not in dispute is Real Madrid’s current leadership of LaLiga, or the fact that they won fairly and squarely on Saturday night in Anoeta – or if you really insist, in the Reale Arena in San Sebastián. As promised last week on these very pages, I attended the game in the flesh, alongside my son who had flown down from Amsterdam to see the event. He was released from footy obligations, with the Dutch leagues below full-time pro forced back into lockdown. So you would have thought that Real Madrid could have gifted us a magical evening together, but alas, Ancelotti and company were not in the pre-Christmas spirit.Continue reading “No dispute”
I’d been hoping to mark this debut round-up for the noble pages of Football España with a rant-free feeling to it, but why change the habits of a lifetime? It was actually an interesting weekend’s action, to quote that over-used English adjective, but not without its controversies. I refer of course to the hand of Piqué, as opposed to God, and to the strange antics of Mateu Lahoz, Spain’s refereeing equivalent to Boris Johnson. Like Johnson, Mateo Lahoz talks a lot but rarely makes any sense, and his talk tends to be focused on explaining away yet another crass mistake he has just made. Johnson has better hair, but Lahoz can run faster. More on his bizarre decision in the Espanyol v Real Sociedad match later.Continue reading “Of Xavi’s flower and Mateu Lahoz’s alternative universe”
Sunday night at 9 p.m. isn’t a great time to turn out for a footy match, with the northern nights drawing in and the winter cold creeping into the air. It’s dark and smells of November and Real Sociedad are hosting Valencia at this infernal time because it’s the ‘partidazo’ (the big game) whose attractive look has already relegated Granada v Real Madrid to the 18.30 slot, so there’s some silver lining to the logic.Continue reading “Bordalás-Sauron, the Dark Lord of anti-football”
In late August, many of us thought this would eventually become a fun season and it does seem as though the entertainment will last… unless you’re a Barcelona fan. Well, even if you support the Azulgrana you can’t say they’re boring, but there’s indeed plenty of room for improvement and good news in general.
The fact is that Real Sociedad lead the standings – and have done so for the last three matches –, that there are five teams separated by four points, and that the three successful winners of the title in the last 18 seasons (Valencia was the last club not named Real Madrid, Barcelona or Atletico de Madrid able to conquer LaLiga) – look hesitant and interestingly inconsistent.Continue reading “Looks like fun”
Let’s begin with a rant, which is always a jolly good way to end the weekend. The word ‘rant’ contains a rat and an ant, the former perhaps characterising the two teams from Madrid who decided not to play this weekend, and the latter the obedient non-thinking workers of La Liga who would prefer not to upset the more powerful members of the nest.Continue reading “Of Rats and Ants”
Is this the LaLiga we expected?
LaLiga is quickly becoming all that we expected before this season started. The theoretical top three (Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico) struggle to win theoretically winnable matches, whereas the following group of teams (Real Sociedad, as well as Sevilla and Villarreal, who both have a game in hand) have quickly become potential contenders for the title. On top of that, a couple of nice surprises in the form of Osasuna and Rayo occupy Europa League spots, while Athletic, Valencia and Betis have shown promising glimpses of what they could become if they achieved some sort of consistency.
However, there’s a slightly disappointing touch to the whole thing so far, as though watching the bigger teams play terrible football took some brilliance out of the increased competitiveness of the tournament.Continue reading “Entertaining, but not painless”
Rockin’ and a rollin’ with the new twins of mayhem, Real Madrid lead the table and it ain’t even autumn. Wake me up, when September ends. Vinny and Benz, the fashionable couple of football now, have for some reason struck up a partnership that will either prove to be a devastating argument for the white ones’ title prospects or an excellent way of hiding the other deficiencies that exist in the squad, exacerbated further by Carvajal joining the limp-master Bale in Madrid’s dry-dock.Continue reading “Vinny, Benz and the Barça blues”
It was Monday night and I’d just nipped down to the beach for a cooling dip, as you do. It’d been a muggy day in San Sebastián and I’d been suffering a bit in the office all day. The good thing about going for a swim early evening is that most of the day-trippers have gone home, and I can usually count on bumping into a sort of mate of mine, an ex-pro neighbour who played for several top-flight clubs but who has been retired for a while now, living the life of Riley as an agent. Good bloke though, and always up for a natter. Sure enough, he emerged from the sea five minutes after me and we had a drying-down chat in the fading bronze light of the beach.Continue reading “Beach Wisdom”
Before we get onto the minor stuff – Messi, Mbappé, Memphis, let me just tell you about my weekend. Live football is good, particularly after pandemic-based confinements, and so like many other dysfunctional members of my species I’m trying to attend as much as possible. As Stephen Fry said of religion, ‘It’s what some people do with their madness’. My madness is more ball than Bible-based, and my pilgrimage sites tend to involve terracing. Which is why people should never get married on Saturdays. Why Saturdays, ffs? The wedding reception I was invited to unfortunately coincided with Real Sociedad v Levante on Saturday, meaning that another lucky madman got my seat (I gave it to him, in a Christian act of altruism) but it really isn’t good enough. Why can’t people have wedding receptions on a Thursday night? They would then only coincide with the Europa League, and the loss would be of little consequence. Propose this soon to your local MP. You know it makes sense.Continue reading “Happy with Mbappé?”
Four seasons in one day, rub-a dub-dub and it’s helter-skelter through what remains of our fragile sanity at the fag-end of the league campaign. Never fear, there’ll be a hammock and rest for us somewhere, in the close season at the end of the universe. I was happy that football was back, and now I can’t escape it.