It all started on Friday when a journalist asked Real Madrid coach Santi Solari if the draw on Thursday at Villarreal in the re-arranged fixture (2-2) had more or less ended Madrid’s chances of the league this season. Instead of answering yea or nay, Solari let slip a phrase that may come to haunt him in the same way that Bernd Schuster’s famous ‘You can’t win at the Camp Nou’ has since pursued him all his live-long days. Solari said ‘No hay que subestimar los empates’ (We shouldn’t underestimate the importance of a draw). According to the Madrid-based press at the weekend, this was some sort of mortal sin. A draw? ‘We don’t do draws at Real Madrid’ was the implication of the press horror, clasping their collective hands to their heads and screaming, as in a Munch painting.
I used to love Saturdays when I was a wee kid, before I’d ever trodden the wooden stands of a professional football team. On Saturday afternoons I used to go with my dad to watch his works team play, to the Findus Clubhouse in Grimsby. We would go every Saturday, to watch either the first or the second team, depending on which one was at home. They were actually called ‘Eskimo’, which was the name of the company before it became the better-known ‘Findus’. Both teams played in the local Grimsby leagues, but they were gods to me. The pitches were enormous and wind-blown, but the whole scene turned me onto football – not necessarily because of the football itself but because of the accompaniments. I didn’t see my old man too much during the week, and so Saturday was ‘dad day’. He seemed a different person at the clubhouse, convivial and more confident than he was at home. The kids of some of the players would go too, and we would play our own games away from the pitches, but at some point I would always want to watch the football. Continue reading “Monday Monday”
Just when you thought that LaLiga might stay interestingly competitive, Leo Messi decided that he’d had enough of democracy and that he’d prefer a return to dictatorship. Espanyol, who a month ago were looking like serious contenders for the Champions League places, have now lost four on the trot and hey presto, lie ten points behind their illustrious neighbours who destroyed them 0-4 at the Cornella-el-Prat. Wanna win the league? Well – you’ve gotta find some consistency, pick a pocket or two or even better, sign a Leo Messi. Continue reading “La Pelota no se mancha (The ball doesn’t stain)”
Review of LaLiga’s 14th week
Granted, if above all things you’re a Real Madrid fan or an Atletico supporter, or even a Barcelona one, you’re probably not thinking much of this LaLiga season so far. But if you enjoy the game as much as your team or if you support any of the other 17 clubs, these first three months have been a gift from the gods. It’s not only the fact that only five points separate the top five teams, but especially that feeling of unease when Real Madrid, Barcelona or Atletico play and you can’t really bet the house on them because they’ve only won 21 of their 42 matches so far. Continue reading “Barcelona, Atleti, Madrid and… Alavés?”
Ave Princeps! We have a new leader! Step up to the podium Sevilla FC, who have already been there twice this season, but who had to wait quite a while before that – since the 2006-7 season to be precise, under the currently unemployed Juande Ramos. They took over the top spot from Barcelona, (who drew in the last gasp at the Willy Wanda) by defeating Valladolid 1-0 in slightly controversial circumstances, the visitors having had two goals disallowed.
Well shiver me timbers – what an awesome three days of matches in Spain! Just when you were thinking that it couldn’t remain so interesting and competitive, and that things were gradually reverting to the old hierarchies, LaLiga comes up with a cracker whose glow will warm the Spanish firesides for the next fortnight. The teams that won can spend the international break all smiley and positive in training, whilst the victims can search in the rubble for the positives and just keep on working, as the clichés go. Continue reading “That was the weekend that was”
What do Valencia and Real Sociedad have in common, apart from the obvious fact that they both have football teams? Well, neither of them has won at home yet, and Valencia’s only (away) win this season to date was at….yes, you’ve guessed it, Real Sociedad. Huesca and Rayo have also failed to win at home, but maybe that’s not so newsworthy. Bottom-placed Huesca almost made it on Sunday but visitors Getafe pooped their party by equalising in the 91st minute, and Rayo were looking as though they might break their hoodoo against the unlikely presence of Barcelona, but the Catalans have a tendency to break local hearts in the final minutes, and thus it proved, a 2-1 turning suddenly into a 2-3 in the final ten minutes of the game. Another member of the homeless club is Villarreal, which is something of a surprise – with a mere three goals scored in six games. Continue reading “Home sweet home?”