Underdogs at home

Gents, let’s play the old “The BBC will start again”

I admit that, in the last few days, I’ve often thought of Zinedine Zidane and the current Real Madrid squad as a footballing version of the Titanic orchestra. When the season is almost lost, the director sticks to the tried and tested, refuses to make any adjustments, and plays the same songs as the ship starts to sink. Continue reading “Underdogs at home”


Non-tinted spectacles

There’s a little guy who always stands outside the bar near my flat when he wants a smoke, which is quite a frequent occurrence.  He has one of those wee white Scottish Terriers, and it sits obediently under the shelf where he places his drink and ashtray, with the newspaper always open at the football page.  He knows his stuff (the guy, not the dog), and I always like to talk to him for five minutes, sort of en passant. Approaching him Saturday lunchtime with a bag over my shoulder containing the weekend’s few possessions that I needed, I announced in Spanish the following phrase ‘Tengo buenas sensaciones’ (I have a good feeling) to which he instantly replied, ‘Sí. Estarán pensando en el PSG’ (Yes – they’ll be too busy thinking about PSG).  Continue reading “Non-tinted spectacles”

Two blokes at the Bernabeu

Preview of La Liga’s 23rd week

There are plenty of interesting story lines this week in La Liga: Clarence Seedorf makes his debut with Deportivo (on the bench, of course); Fernando Torres looks suddenly back in shape; Isco could be on his way out of Real Madrid; the local derby in Valencia should be an extremely intense match to watch; Villarreal could take Real Madrid’s fourth spot if Zidane’s team don’t get their act together.


However, the main story of the weekend is indeed Mr Ball & Señor Alvarez watching a match together at the Santiago Bernabeu. Nothing else can possibly top that.

Shall we? Remember, it’s ‘1’ for a home win, ‘X’ for a draw and ‘2’ for an away win. Continue reading “Two blokes at the Bernabeu”

Licence to Dream (Fugu Philosophy)

I arrived back from a week in the weird and wonderful Tokyo late on Saturday night, thus missing various La Liga games of significance and the midweek King’s Cup ties.  No matter – I shall try to write something of use through my jet-lagged fog this Sunday evening, perhaps beginning in Tokyo on Thursday night where I was interviewed by the excellent journalist and writer Masa Tanabe.

Continue reading “Licence to Dream (Fugu Philosophy)”

Domino effect

Preview of La Liga’s 22nd week

The end of the transfer window in Spain, mostly boring, had nevertheless an intriguing transfer that generated a remarkable domino effect. Pep Guardiola, obviously short for cash and with the firm intention of preventing market inflation at all costs — excuse the pun –, could only find a mere €65 million to buy a central defender. Continue reading “Domino effect”

No math in football

No Iniesta, no party

“Football isn’t math”, answered Andres Iniesta right after Barcelona defeated Alaves 2-1 on La Liga’s 21st matchday, as his interviewer asked him to compare stats of hosts and visitors in an eventful 90 minutes. His remarkable Sunday night performance, as it is usually the case with Iniesta, is also hard to describe in terms of numbers and figures, but it’s fair to say that the tiny, balding gentleman from La Mancha shone above everyone else in Philipe Coutinho’s La Liga debut. Continue reading “No math in football”