Preview of La Liga’s Week 17

Christmas is coming for some, the goose is getting fat and the players and management just want to sit around in their festive hats happy in the knowledge that their last game before the yuletide rest was a win, or at least a non-defeat.  It helps that fireside mood, and the alleged spirit of Christmas.  José Mourinho will be unemployed, but safe in the security of his 15 million pay-off and the news yesterday that Real Madrid would not be contemplating his return ‘either short or long term’.  How about the medium term?  Probably not either. My esteemed colleague Ed Alvarez will be pleased with this news since he had threatened to give up his club membership in the event of a Mou return. Continue reading “Preview of La Liga’s Week 17”

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Monday Monday

I used to love Saturdays when I was a wee kid, before I’d ever trodden the wooden stands of a professional football team.  On Saturday afternoons I used to go with my dad to watch his works team play, to the Findus Clubhouse in Grimsby. We would go every Saturday, to watch either the first or the second team, depending on which one was at home.  They were actually called ‘Eskimo’, which was the name of the company before it became the better-known ‘Findus’. Both teams played in the local Grimsby leagues, but they were gods to me.  The pitches were enormous and wind-blown, but the whole scene turned me onto football – not necessarily because of the football itself but because of the accompaniments.  I didn’t see my old man too much during the week, and so Saturday was ‘dad day’.  He seemed a different person at the clubhouse, convivial and more confident than he was at home.  The kids of some of the players would go too, and we would play our own games away from the pitches, but at some point I would always want to watch the football. Continue reading “Monday Monday”

The two Messis

Preview of LaLiga’s 16th week

Yes, we did attend the Libertadores final at the Santiago Bernabeu, and our team won. The match started off on the wrong foot, with plenty of mistakes as both teams felt the pressure of those weeks of anticipation, but ended up in dramatic fashion, as one would expect of such a convoluted final. After all the doubts about watching it at home or going to the stadium, the risk was well worth it. It was a memorable night. Continue reading “The two Messis”

La Pelota no se mancha (The ball doesn’t stain)

Just when you thought that LaLiga might stay interestingly competitive, Leo Messi decided that he’d had enough of democracy and that he’d prefer a return to dictatorship.  Espanyol, who a month ago were looking like serious contenders for the Champions League places, have now lost four on the trot and hey presto, lie ten points behind their illustrious neighbours who destroyed them 0-4 at the Cornella-el-Prat.  Wanna win the league? Well – you’ve gotta find some consistency, pick a pocket or two or even better, sign a Leo Messi. Continue reading “La Pelota no se mancha (The ball doesn’t stain)”

El Clásico at Home

Preview of LaLiga’s 15th week

Feel my pain: it’s very hard to write this column while I’ve got two tickets for River vs Boca at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday next to my laptop and an eight-month pregnant wife who roots for River dying to go to the match. Of course, we’re totally aware that it does not make any sense to get anywhere close to the stadium, and yet… Continue reading “El Clásico at Home”

The Long Read: The Rise and Fall of La Quinta del Buitre in Five Matches

It would not be stretching a point to say that the ‘Quinta del Buitre’ of the late eighties changed the face of Spanish football, planting the seeds of what was to come in the following decades. After a long spell in which hard work, courage and fighting spirit had become the arguably limited values of Spain’s approach to the beautiful game, four kids from Madrid and one from Huelva brought flair to the table, played as though no goal difference was big enough, won European competitions after years of drought and made many believe that the “Furia Española” tag had indeed become obsolete. Heck, even Pep Guardiola states that the Quinta was Real Madrid’s best version ever. Continue reading “The Long Read: The Rise and Fall of La Quinta del Buitre in Five Matches”

Barcelona, Atleti, Madrid and… Alavés?

Review of LaLiga’s 14th week

Granted, if above all things you’re a Real Madrid fan or an Atletico supporter, or even a Barcelona one, you’re probably not thinking much of this LaLiga season so far. But if you enjoy the game as much as your team or if you support any of the other 17 clubs, these first three months have been a gift from the gods. It’s not only the fact that only five points separate the top five teams, but especially that feeling of unease when Real Madrid, Barcelona or Atletico play and you can’t really bet the house on them because they’ve only won 21 of their 42 matches so far. Continue reading “Barcelona, Atleti, Madrid and… Alavés?”