Ultra-light, picture-free, to-the-point version of the column this week, as this scribe is spending a few days in Brazil and the sun shines strong outside of his hotel room. Just one comment about the previous Quiniela: the Fallas factor worked exactly the opposite way to what I expected, and all three teams from Valencia won their matches. So that’s that. Continue reading “Quick and dirty”
Julen Lopetegui, Spain’s national coach, is not an easy character. Stern and focused on his work, he avoids the media as much as he can and does not deal well with losses. Before he was chosen for his current job, his highest profile job was at Porto, a tough assignment that, with some moments of promise, ended badly.
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”
Every major – and probably minor – city in Spain has its own party week. Based on similar excuses, such as its patron saint or the anniversary of its foundation, mayors spend tons of cash to organise huge celebrations. Working becomes impossible, with the main streets packed with locals and visitors, and the beer flowing like wine. Continue reading “Fallas weekend”
The top Spanish game of the weekend was on ‘Gol’ TV at 20.00 on Sunday night. I watched it whilst eating my supper and I was well entertained. Barcelona (2nd) hosted Atlético Madrid (1st) and the game ended in a 1-1 draw – the right result I’d say. The (woman) ref gave a dodgy penalty to Barcelona, so that’s where the first parallel with the men’s game comes in, after leaders Atlético had taken a first-half lead with a neatly lobbed goal by the evergreen ‘Soni’ (Sonia Bermudez), the tiny 33 year-old forward who played for Barcelona during two periods, interrupted by a (paid) year in New York and followed by a transfer to current champions Atlético.
Since Neymar left Barcelona, Ernesto Valverde has progressively evolved towards a 4-4-2 formation that now seems untouchable, with Ivan Rakitic and Sergio Busquets in the centre of midfield. Azulgrana purists complain around the world, shaking their heads in disbelief, but the team defends better than many of its previous versions, and its results are impeccable so far.
In the end, everything went to plan. The game featuring the two best defences in Spain’s top flight ended 1-0, with a sublime free-kick strike from Messi – just for a change – and a dogged performance from Atlético that lacked the punch necessary to get a result and prolong the La Liga fun.