Clásico Conundrum

Every cloud has a silver lining, eh? Just when Real Madrid thought that things couldn’t possibly get much worse, in the 25th minute of Barcelona v Sevilla, Leo Messi took on his compatriot ‘Mudo’ (the mute) Vázquez, toppled over and injured his arm.  The world stood still, Dembele replaced LM (who had already scored and set up a goal) and hope returned to the Bernabéu, where the grey-suited chiefs sat hunched in Saturday night pow-wow over the future of Mr Lopetegui. Ah, alas poor Julen – we thought we knew him.  From seeming like a thoroughly sensible bloke running the national team with serious-faced efficiency, his boat floated too close to the Siren shores of the Bernabéu. Julen dived into the water, and the rest is history. Continue reading “Clásico Conundrum”

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The old school pecking order

Preview of LaLiga’s 9th week

Last week I spent some time watching PSG, something I rarely do. As Neymar kept feeding Kylian Mbappe time and again, I remembered an old interview with the great Michael Laudrup in which he spoke about his changing role on the pitch as his game evolved. I can’t quote him exactly, but he spoke of his time with Juventus as an apprenticeship under another memorable icon, Michel Platini. His words were something like: “At that time, Platini was the king of the team. He hogged the ball, saw the gaps in the defence and passed it through magnificently, while I just ran and ran after it. Then I understood that, in football’s pecking order, passing is well above running to meet those passes”. That interview took place when Laudrup played for Real Madrid. His previous move from Juventus to Barcelona meant he was now the passer, not the runner, and from that point onwards, he’d never had to run as much again in his career. Continue reading “The old school pecking order”

Tantric antics

Given the foul weather on Sunday morning, I wandered down to the local bar with my papers and pored over the footy stuff, accompanied by my ‘Tejano’ coffee (Texan – which is an ‘Americano’ with a bit of cold milk) and a croissant whose sugary nature will mean some gym-ridden penance sessions this coming week.  I like these coffee visits to the bar, usually alone.  I can read all the Spanish news and all the sports tabloids, in perfect peace.  In fact I stayed so long that Valladolid v Huesca began on the telly.  ‘They’re going back down, that Huesca lot’ pronounced the owner of the bar from within shouting distance – aware of my weakness for football.  I nodded. ‘They try to play football, but it doesn’t work for them – look!’ he proclaimed, as a pass went astray. Continue reading “Tantric antics”

Chaos reigns

Do you think we’ve had enough upsets already? Well, my money is on two more this weekend. Yes, Real Madrid and Barcelona won’t win their matches. Even in that case, with subversion and chaos taking over LaLiga, they may not lose the first two spots. Should be an extremely entertaining weekend.

Shall we? Remember, it’s ‘1’ for a home win, ‘X’ for a draw and ‘2’ for an away win. Continue reading “Chaos reigns”

A dose of democracy?

I was reminded of the Seekers’ song from my childhood when Messi came onto the pitch with Barcelona 0-1 down to Athletic on Saturday:  ‘I could search the whole world over/Until my life is through/But I know I’ll never find another you’.  We were talking about the wee man last week and once again he hit the headlines by pulling his team back from their third brink in three games by shaking up the general movement and getting the vital assist for Munir’s equaliser. Well actually it was four games on the brink, because they were mighty fortunate to win at Real Sociedad before this little negative ‘run’ began, but hey – crisis what crisis? They’re still top of the league.

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The forty-minute Messi effect

Continue reading “A dose of democracy?”

To more upsets

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This is what appears if you google “upset”

Well, that midweek jornada was a shocker. Barcelona and Real Madrid lost, which got Atletico, Alaves, Sevilla and Espanyol within striking range of the leading duo. Not only did they lose, but they did it in convincing fashion, looking like the worse side in their respective matches. In the case of Barcelona, the start of the second half sealed their fate. In Real Madrid’s, their first 45 minutes were simply appalling. Fans of LaLiga keep defending their competitiveness, but they do it by using biased data. The fact is that nights like Wednesday’s should happen way more often if the tournament were to be as even as it was 30 years ago. Continue reading “To more upsets”

Midweek quickie

No foreplay, let’s just do it.

Remember, it’s ‘1’ for a home win, ‘X’ for a draw and ‘2’ for an away win.

  1. Espanyol (8th) vs Eibar (11th): 1. (Tue, 20:00)

Both look promising, both play better than expected. Last season, Eibar’s visit to the Cornellá stadium resulted in the dismissal of Quique Sanchez Flores, back then Espanyol’s coach. That brought Rubi on board, and the team’s improvement is clear. Expect plenty of rotations in both teams; Eibar’s coach Mendilibar, huge fan of the 23-man squad, could change up to nine starters vs last weekend’s match. I’m not that keen on revamps at the beginning of the season, so let’s take the home side. Continue reading “Midweek quickie”