Late-show stoppers

What is it that gives some teams that annoying ability to score late on, to come back at the death when all seems…well, dead?  Barcelona have had this particular ability for some time now, demonstrating it during a quite amazing game in midweek at Villarreal where they turned around a 4-2 deficit in added time to draw 4-4, and persisting against Atlético in Saturday’s crucial game until the 85th minute, then scoring again immediately afterwards.  The great Liverpool side of the 1980s had this as part of their repertoire too, and sometimes it’s difficult to analyse exactly how it works. Continue reading “Late-show stoppers”

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Must watch TV

Review of Laliga’s 31st week

The most bizarre times of LaLiga, back when it was just the Primera División, were when Ramón Mendoza, Josep Lluis Nuñez and Jesús Gil y Gil – father of Atleti’s current GM and shareholder – occupied the presidencies of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico de Madrid respectively. Nothing was off the table, especially where Gil was involved. We saw him punch other clubs’ executives, present tv programmes from a bathtub surrounded by girls in bikini, vouch for his horse as the best candidate for Atleti’s bench… The other two presidents tried to look professional in Gil y Gil’s presence, but every once in a while they would fall for his provocations, which generated even more cheese and hilarity. Continue reading “Must watch TV”

View from a bar

The famous exam question says ‘Compare and Contrast’ but we all know the chasm under the bridge that separates the land of Real Madrid from Planet Huesca. Sunday’s visit to the Bernabéu was their first in 59 years as a professional club, with the most recent precedent of Burgos winning in the Bernabéu on their first visit, back in 1990.  2,000 fans decided to go along, despite the game being scheduled as the ‘partidazo’ that closes the week and is played at 20.45 in the evening.  But as Sir Mick once said, catch your dreams before they slip away.  Huesca are bottom, rather as they expected to be, but with Villarreal losing at Celta (after being 0-2 up) the final safety position was still at a possible, but not very probable seven points.  Whatever, enjoy the status of top flight while you can, and meanwhile, try to upset the merengue cart. Continue reading “View from a bar”

The new normal

Preview of LaLiga’s 29th week

Sorry about the late post, but things are hectic at Chez Alvarez, as well as in Alvarez’s full time job. The question is not when will things go back to normal, but if. And I guess the answer is NO.

Shall we? Let’s start. Remember, it’s ‘1’ for a home win, ‘X’ for a draw and ‘2’ for an away win. Continue reading “The new normal”

Messi steals the show

Summary of the weekend in LaLiga

Plenty of narratives could have become the centre of this article in an eventful weekend of Spanish football, but I wisely chose to start writing after the end of the last match. Barcelona were due at Betis in the Sunday evening Partidazo, and after Setien’s team win in the Camp Nou a few months ago, it was easy to expect a serious, determined perhaps vengeful performance by Messi & co. If Barcelona needed some extra motivation, on Saturday Atletico had lost in Bilbao, which meant that a victory of the Azulgrana in Sevilla could also give them a 10-point advantage with 10 matches left. Continue reading “Messi steals the show”

Hungover

It’s one of those weekends that doesn’t bode well and which promises a hangover – in the collective national sense because only one of Spain’s teams is in the draw for the Champions League quarter-finals.  Let’s overlook the fact that a decent wedge of Barça’s supporters are in favour of their own Republic and just underline the fact that the 28th week of LaLiga will be played out in the shadow of the unfortunate and unusual reality of a slim presence in Europe, and that maybe only Barcelona will begin their game (at Betis) with a smile. The two V’s (Valencia and Villarreal) continue in the Europa League, but even in that context there was Spanish tragedy, with Sevilla knocked out in extra-time in Prague. Continue reading “Hungover”

The Horny Zombies of Getafe

There are some nice images from this weekend’s action in Spain.  I particularly like the one of Alaves’ Takashi Inui  (‘Taka’ to his friends) being hugged at the end of the game by his ex-team-mates from Eibar, even though he’d just scored against them and celebrated the goal,  breaking the unspoken Spanish law which states: ‘Thou shalt not celebrate a goal against thy ex-team-mates unless thou hast not played for said team for some time and/or thou hast left in a cloud of pissed-offness’.  Inui, polite to a fault as the Japanese tend to be, begged for forgiveness after the game but decided not to commit suicide on his ceremonial sword – possibly because the result was 1-1 but also because his departure from Eibar to Betis at the end of last season was conducted in perfectly amicable circumstances. In fact Inui failed miserably at Betis, despite the fact that his style of play suited theirs, clearly one of the reasons  why Quique Setién fancied him, only to subsequently leave him rotting on the bench. Continue reading “The Horny Zombies of Getafe”