Derbies and stuff

‘Twas a weekend of derbies, and Liga Fever was physically present at one of them. I have to report that the Real Sociedad v Eibar game was a dull affair (1-1) and that Eibar were by far the better side, but Real Sociedad were suffering once again from the absence of four key senior players, and maybe hoping a little too much from some of the young kids who were replacing them.  Eibar have some experienced and canny players, and it showed.  It’s something of a myth that they’re merely a huff and puff side. Nothing of the sort.  They have some players who are not afraid to mix it (Escalante, for example) but Orellana remains an exquisite player (when he’s in the mood) and Marc Cucurella from Barça B looks the business.  If Barcelona aren’t to fish him back for next season, then he won’t be short of suitors. Continue reading “Derbies and stuff”

Late-show stoppers

What is it that gives some teams that annoying ability to score late on, to come back at the death when all seems…well, dead?  Barcelona have had this particular ability for some time now, demonstrating it during a quite amazing game in midweek at Villarreal where they turned around a 4-2 deficit in added time to draw 4-4, and persisting against Atlético in Saturday’s crucial game until the 85th minute, then scoring again immediately afterwards.  The great Liverpool side of the 1980s had this as part of their repertoire too, and sometimes it’s difficult to analyse exactly how it works. Continue reading “Late-show stoppers”

View from a bar

The famous exam question says ‘Compare and Contrast’ but we all know the chasm under the bridge that separates the land of Real Madrid from Planet Huesca. Sunday’s visit to the Bernabéu was their first in 59 years as a professional club, with the most recent precedent of Burgos winning in the Bernabéu on their first visit, back in 1990.  2,000 fans decided to go along, despite the game being scheduled as the ‘partidazo’ that closes the week and is played at 20.45 in the evening.  But as Sir Mick once said, catch your dreams before they slip away.  Huesca are bottom, rather as they expected to be, but with Villarreal losing at Celta (after being 0-2 up) the final safety position was still at a possible, but not very probable seven points.  Whatever, enjoy the status of top flight while you can, and meanwhile, try to upset the merengue cart. Continue reading “View from a bar”

Messi steals the show

Summary of the weekend in LaLiga

Plenty of narratives could have become the centre of this article in an eventful weekend of Spanish football, but I wisely chose to start writing after the end of the last match. Barcelona were due at Betis in the Sunday evening Partidazo, and after Setien’s team win in the Camp Nou a few months ago, it was easy to expect a serious, determined perhaps vengeful performance by Messi & co. If Barcelona needed some extra motivation, on Saturday Atletico had lost in Bilbao, which meant that a victory of the Azulgrana in Sevilla could also give them a 10-point advantage with 10 matches left. Continue reading “Messi steals the show”

The Horny Zombies of Getafe

There are some nice images from this weekend’s action in Spain.  I particularly like the one of Alaves’ Takashi Inui  (‘Taka’ to his friends) being hugged at the end of the game by his ex-team-mates from Eibar, even though he’d just scored against them and celebrated the goal,  breaking the unspoken Spanish law which states: ‘Thou shalt not celebrate a goal against thy ex-team-mates unless thou hast not played for said team for some time and/or thou hast left in a cloud of pissed-offness’.  Inui, polite to a fault as the Japanese tend to be, begged for forgiveness after the game but decided not to commit suicide on his ceremonial sword – possibly because the result was 1-1 but also because his departure from Eibar to Betis at the end of last season was conducted in perfectly amicable circumstances. In fact Inui failed miserably at Betis, despite the fact that his style of play suited theirs, clearly one of the reasons  why Quique Setién fancied him, only to subsequently leave him rotting on the bench. Continue reading “The Horny Zombies of Getafe”

All you need is hope and love

There’s plenty to talk about this weekend, although many columns have already been filled regarding the ‘clásico week’.  The problem, however, with too much focus on the terrible twins is that it can detract from other worthy stuff in Spain, of which there was plenty at the weekend. Continue reading “All you need is hope and love”

Shakespeare Terminator

When talking of Messi, as I’m going to do, it probably helps to bring in Shakespeare – not that Messi is an avid reader of the Bard, preferring as he does the instruction book to the PS4, which he claims was the last book he read.  This is a shame because in Sonnet 48 there’s a neat little couplet that goes:

“Dear killer, spare not thy sweet cruel shot / A kind of grace it is to kill with speed.” Continue reading “Shakespeare Terminator”