Place your bets

If you’re somewhat familiar with betting on Spanish football, you probably know that if you want to make some cash on a top LaLiga team not winning its weekend match, you must wait until the do or die part of the Champions League starts. Key players are rested, the general mindset of the team is not quite focused on what the weekend match means, even the fans are not totally considering the importance of the three points at stake… until it’s too late. Continue reading “Place your bets”

Four score and ten

As I tap on the keyboard on Sunday night in Spain, it is exactly 90 years to the day when La Liga was officially formed.  It should have started in September 1928 but there had been a dispute over the format of the league, so no surprises there.  Of the ten sides invited to participate that February, six are still in the top flight (Real and Atlético Madrid, Barcelona, Espanyol, Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao).  The region with most clubs was the more prosperous and industrialised Basque Country, with four sides (Sociedad, Athletic, Real Unión and Arenas de Getxo), with Catalunya in second place with three (Barcelona, Español and CD Europa), the team ‘Europa’ from the Barcelona neighbourhood of Gracìa lasting for three seasons before disappearing into the murky depths of regional football. They play in ‘Tercera’ (3rd Division) now.  Racing Santander, from the Cantabria region and now in Segunda ‘B’, made up the roster. Continue reading “Four score and ten”

Ama a tu prójimo

La mayor diferencia entre los “viejos tiempos” y el juego moderno no es el contraste entre estar de pie en el fondo norte o sentarse en un civilizado asiento de plástico, sino más bien la compañía que uno se ve obligado a mantener. En los viejos tiempos (vi mi primer partido profesional en vivo en 1966), la gente solía andar en áreas similares del estadio: los jóvenes detrás de los goles y los más viejos en las posiciones laterales, pero dentro de esas configuraciones había mucha flexibilidad. Podías elegir entre quedarte en el nivel más abajo o superior, o, si estuvieras en ubicación lateral, moverte hacia la izquierda o hacia la derecha, dependiendo de en qué gol atacase tu equipo. No había asientos, ni mucho menos localidades asignadas, así que te ponías donde querías. Continue reading “Ama a tu prójimo”

Love thy neighbour

The biggest difference between the ‘old days’ and the modern game is not the contrast between standing on the terraces and sitting in a plastic bucket seat, but rather the company that one is forced to keep. In the old days (I saw my first live’ pro game in 1966), people tended to hang around in the same area of a stadium – the young ‘uns classically behind the goals and the older supporters in the ‘side stands’ as they were called, but within those configurations there was plenty of flexibility.  You could choose to stand at pitch level, higher up, or if you were in a ‘side stand’ you could move to the left or right, depending on which goal your team was attacking.

Continue reading “Love thy neighbour”

Happy birthday?

It’s been a good week for Sevilla on their 129TH birthday, after 4 weeks without winning in the league.  First they defeated Barcelona 2-0 in midweek in the King’s Cup (they go to the Camp Nou on Wednesday for the 2nd leg) and followed it up with a 5-0 thrashing of Levante on Saturday. Maybe they like those azulgrana colours to play against, all of a sudden.  They’re still some distance from the top spot – 13 points to be precise, but there’s a happy look about them at the moment which suggests they can hang on to their Champions League spot and continue to challenge Real Madrid who are just above them. They might even make it to the next round of the cup. Continue reading “Happy birthday?”

Does size matter?

Rayo Vallecano v Real Sociedad is one of my favourite matches, and I usually try to get down to Madrid to see the fixture, the trip impeded last year by Rayo’s brief stay in the 2nd Division.  There’s nothing particularly historic or special about the fixture itself, apart from the fact that it’s a great ground to visit.  Having watched football now for some years and having seen so many changes, a visit to Vallecas, with all its scruffy unpretentiousness  and its welcoming supporters keeps my spirits up. It reminds me of why I started watching live football in the first place. If they drank Bovril in Spain (they don’t) then Rayo’s ground would have it on sale at half-time, probably for 50 cents. Continue reading “Does size matter?”

Half gone, half left

Against all odds, the first weekend at home with my newborn led me to watch more football than any other weekend in recent memory. Rather than demanding food with all the might of his lungs or sleeping with no rhyme or reason 24*7, as one would expect, my beloved Lucas prefers to keep us awake at night, but during the day he eats and sleeps regularly. Given that it’s not advisable to leave the house with such a small creature in the current weather, I ended up watching more than half of this LaLiga set of fixtures with the tiny 10-day old on my lap, which is a pretty cool thing to do if you ask me. Continue reading “Half gone, half left”