It’s been a hectic football-full week. I got back to Spain from Moscow in the early hours of Thursday morning but awoke from slumbers 16 hours later to effect a quick motorbike trip to Anoeta to see Real Sociedad aggressively annihilate Atlético Madrid and become the first side to score three against them in a league game this season.
Three days later, with a much-changed side, Real Sociedad lost to relegated Málaga without committing a single foul – the first time this has happened in La Liga since 2003. To continue the Russian theme – it’s Tolstoy football – war then peace. Then came Saturday night and the King’s Cup Final, the annual attempt by the Spanish authorities to find some musicians who can play the national anthem, preceded by the ministerial letter to TVE1, Spain’s main public channel, to remind them to turn down the volume during the ritual whistling of the monarchy – this year King Felipe VI in the Willy Wonka Metropolitano stadium, the ground of the team (Atlético) that he allegedly supports. I hope he was watching the 3-0 defeat on the telly last Thursday, assuming they can afford the subscription at the palace. Continue reading “Annual anthem-whistling”
Preview of La Liga’s 34th week plus the Copa del Rey final
Strange set of fixtures this weekend, influenced by the Copa del Rey final on Saturday evening. Barcelona and Sevilla will play for the cup title at the Wanda, while the remaining teams try to get on with their lives in La Liga.
In this edition of the Quiniela, we’ll take a look at the eight La Liga matches to be played this weekend, and we’ll also analyse the, at least on paper, easy to predict Copa del Rey final.
Well, we think it’s all over. After Saturday’s 2-1 home win over Valencia, Barcelona would have to lose four of the six remaining matches for 2nd place Atletico de Madrid to entertain any hopes of contending for the title. Having in mind that the Azulgrana have not lost in their last 39 La Liga matches – a new record in that competition –, four defeats in six seems as likely as Guardiola reacting graciously in defeat. Continue reading “Preferably, joy in the end”
The Spanish phrase at the head of this week’s ‘quiniela’ refers to those moments in any culture when you want things doing quickly, cleanly, and without much fuss. Well that’s exactly what I’m going to do now, because I have to pack my bags and fly to Moscow unfeasibly soon, and unlike you lucky folks, miss most of the Spanish games over the weekend, although I might try to sneak in match number 4 below, if my hotel wi-fi does the business. We shall see. Continue reading “Pim-Pam-Pum”
It was one of those weekends in La Liga when everything went to plan, which means that nobody is likely to have become a millionaire on the pools. Nothing happened to register on the Richter Scale of surprises, and the main news came from England where the Manchester derby attracted most of the headlines, in Spain too – for obvious reasons. The Spanish press has still not cast off its unhealthy obsession with Guardiola and Mourinho, both of whom it despises with a passion, but the former’s two defeats last week to Liverpool in the Champions League and then to Man Utd had the Spanish hacks wading waist-deep in schadenfreude.
You have to hand it to my partner-in-crime Ed Alvarez, in the sense that there was no stopping his flow over the Easter break, even as he sat contemplating whatever one sits and contemplates on Ipanema beach. On the other hand, I miserably failed to contribute from the wilds of the Highlands and islands of Scotland, which I visited not to gaze on beach things and thongs but rather to take my injured footballer-of-a-son back to Stirling on post-operation crutches, and then drive North to see a bit of the snowy and savage landscape that is still so wonderful up there.
This was supposed to be a match review. And rest assured that you will have your match review.
However, let me talk first about the reinvention of Cristiano Ronaldo, a two-dimensional phenomenon that has seen the Portuguese striker evolve from an egocentric, dribble intensive global icon that couldn’t quite conquer the hearts of the Santiago Bernabeu into a team-first, pure number 9 — if that makes sense — that is now a Real Madrid legend. Continue reading “Ronaldo gets his pic”