Despite the winding-down of La Liga, now in the dying-swan phase of the season, the penultimate weekend produced some interesting stuff and the Second Division scene heated up a little bit more, with three games still to go and nothing at the top decided. And as we know, all good runs come to an end, empires eventually fall, Michael Jackson’s Thriller will one day be replaced as the biggest-selling album of all time and Barcelona will lose their record run to Levante in a 5-4 bonkers game, a thriller of its own with various zombies appearing in the Catalan defence, Yerry Mina and Jordi Alba in particular. Continue reading “’twas a rough night”
Giving referee Hernández Hernández the clásico was a bit like expecting Neville Chamberlain to sort out the mess in Europe, circa 1938, but at least it guaranteed some extra entertainment. It makes you wonder what criteria the refereeing committee consult for this kind of occasion, but at least we were spared Mateu Lahoz, busy flexing his cheek-whistling muscles for Russia. Continue reading “A jolly good game”
Sunday night: the twenty minutes between Deportivo’s 63 minute equaliser in Riazor and the goal by Messi in the 83rd that guaranteed Barcelona’s 25th league title summed up why the Catalans have never really looked like stumbling from the podium this season. Continue reading “Twenty-five and counting”
It’s been a hectic football-full week. I got back to Spain from Moscow in the early hours of Thursday morning but awoke from slumbers 16 hours later to effect a quick motorbike trip to Anoeta to see Real Sociedad aggressively annihilate Atlético Madrid and become the first side to score three against them in a league game this season.
Three days later, with a much-changed side, Real Sociedad lost to relegated Málaga without committing a single foul – the first time this has happened in La Liga since 2003. To continue the Russian theme – it’s Tolstoy football – war then peace. Then came Saturday night and the King’s Cup Final, the annual attempt by the Spanish authorities to find some musicians who can play the national anthem, preceded by the ministerial letter to TVE1, Spain’s main public channel, to remind them to turn down the volume during the ritual whistling of the monarchy – this year King Felipe VI in the Willy Wonka Metropolitano stadium, the ground of the team (Atlético) that he allegedly supports. I hope he was watching the 3-0 defeat on the telly last Thursday, assuming they can afford the subscription at the palace. Continue reading “Annual anthem-whistling”
Well, we think it’s all over. After Saturday’s 2-1 home win over Valencia, Barcelona would have to lose four of the six remaining matches for 2nd place Atletico de Madrid to entertain any hopes of contending for the title. Having in mind that the Azulgrana have not lost in their last 39 La Liga matches – a new record in that competition –, four defeats in six seems as likely as Guardiola reacting graciously in defeat. Continue reading “Preferably, joy in the end”
It was one of those weekends in La Liga when everything went to plan, which means that nobody is likely to have become a millionaire on the pools. Nothing happened to register on the Richter Scale of surprises, and the main news came from England where the Manchester derby attracted most of the headlines, in Spain too – for obvious reasons. The Spanish press has still not cast off its unhealthy obsession with Guardiola and Mourinho, both of whom it despises with a passion, but the former’s two defeats last week to Liverpool in the Champions League and then to Man Utd had the Spanish hacks wading waist-deep in schadenfreude.
I read a couple of articles in the past fortnight by Britain-based journalists in which they were suggesting that La Liga’s time was up. The Premier was clearly more competitive, judging by the Champions league, in which Manchester United (for example) would have little difficulty in eliminating Sevilla, a sort of second-class citizen Spanish side. Liverpool and Manchester City have since moved into the quarter-finals where they must unfortunately (for the English league) meet each other, but the Spanish presence is of course greater, with three sides through. It doesn’t seem to smack of decline from where I’m sitting, and if I thought the opposite were true, I’d be among the first of the Spain-based scribes to come out and say so. Continue reading “Spanish decline? Fake news”