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.
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”
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.
- 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”
Let’s talk about Barça and Madrid eh? Five games gone, and by next weekend that’ll be seven (there’s a full programme during the coming week), so how are the big boys doing? Maybe before we consider the question, it’s worth mentioning the fact that Messi’s performance against Girona, in which he scored (of course), was his 423rd league game for Barcelona which surpassed his ex-teammate Dani Alves’ total – handing him yet another record – this time for the most league appearances by a foreign player in the history of Spanish football. He’s played 644 for Barcelona’s first team in total, but it’s the league figure which is significant for the statistician anoraks. Continue reading “Messi records another record”
Let’s start with a confession: as years add to my odometer, I’m becoming less and less disciplined in terms of watching football live at the stadium. A few years ago, I would not only watch my team’s matches at the Santiago Bernabeu, but would also make the most of every chance to see other teams at their own stadia, regardless of the country I’d be at. Hell, I even went to watch a West Ham vs Man City in a weekend in London – totally deserved the £458 tube trip from the west of London to the West of Ham, or a Aston Villa – Chelsea in which Tore Andre Flo starred — do not recommend Birmingham though. A Southampton vs Wimbledon in which LeTiss scored off a corner kick in a classic winter British afternoon also comes to mind. Continue reading “Better in the flesh”
What is extraordinary about football is the all-pervasive influence of its stadia on our entire perception of a club’s identity. Even when a team builds a new ground, moves to it and plays there for several years, it never quite manages to bury the memory of the original, whose role in the club’s birth and development – from toddler to pensioner – was total. This is why a stadium move is a traumatic event, whether it’s done for practical or for purely financial reasons, and sometimes a club never quite manages to recapture its original vibe, so linked was it to the essence of the previous abode. Real Madrid supporters of a certain ilk and age still refer to the Bernabéu as ‘Chamartín’, Atlético fans are not entirely comfortable with the Wanda and the way they were shooed out of the Calderon, whilst in England, West Ham just don’t seem to be West Ham outside of Upton Park (the Boleyn Ground) – which just goes to show that in the same way as we feel at home in our own stadium, we judge others by the aesthetics and peculiarities of theirs. Continue reading “Home’s where the head is”
Preview of LaLiga’s 4thmatchday
Is the Spanish national team back? After winning at Wembley and thrashing World Cup runners-up Croatia, looks like new coach Luis Enrique has found the right approach to get the most out of the talented midfield and play an exciting, hard-to-stop brand of football.
However, this team never went away. The terrible sequence of decisions involving Florentino Perez, Julen Lopetegui and Luis Rubiales – and, for the record, I believe that the third name was as much to blame as the other two combined – wasted some outstanding preparation for the World Cup and made the team lose their focus at the worst possible time. Continue reading “The Spain we should have seen at the World Cup”