Another Champions League semifinals, another meeting between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. Both clubs have already played 24 times in the top continental tournament, but it never gets old. So far, 12 wins for Bayern, 10 for Real Madrid and only two draws. Similarly to any other major derby, the specific circumstances of each team don’t really matter: when they play each other, nothing is off the cards.
There’s plenty of angles to discuss this matchup. An obvious one is James Rodriguez, who went from supersub under Zidane to outstanding starter under Heynckes, who is finally getting the most out of the gifted Colombian. The Germans’ need for revenge must also be part of any preview about this fixture, as Real Madrid have won at the Alliance in their last two visits, one of them in stunning fashion (4-0) back in 2014, when no other than Pep Guardiola occupied Bayern’s bench.
However, the main running subplot in this column’s humble opinion is Zidane’s dilemma regarding his tactical formation / starting xi to face the in-shape Germans. Continue reading “Zidane’s dilemma”
Every major – and probably minor – city in Spain has its own party week. Based on similar excuses, such as its patron saint or the anniversary of its foundation, mayors spend tons of cash to organise huge celebrations. Working becomes impossible, with the main streets packed with locals and visitors, and the beer flowing like wine. Continue reading “Fallas weekend”
Since Neymar left Barcelona, Ernesto Valverde has progressively evolved towards a 4-4-2 formation that now seems untouchable, with Ivan Rakitic and Sergio Busquets in the centre of midfield. Azulgrana purists complain around the world, shaking their heads in disbelief, but the team defends better than many of its previous versions, and its results are impeccable so far.
If you follow La Liga, during the week you’ve probably read a few comments about the death of Enrique Castro, ‘Quini’, a Spanish football legend who played for Sporting de Gijón and Barcelona in the 70s and 80s. He’s one of the first Barcelona players I can remember as a kid, a fast and skilled striker who always looked a bit too old to perform as well as he did on the pitch. Continue reading “Barcelona and Atleti play for the title”
The rest-stop week that Phil predicted in his latest Quiniela ended up being exactly that. With nine matches already played (Getafe and Celta are due to face each other on Monday), things have not changed much in the standings: Barcelona keep their seven-point advantage over Atletico de Madrid, and most teams kept their rankings intact. However, plenty happened during the weekend. Let’s start with Barcelona’s match on Saturday, their tough visit to the tiny Eibar. Continue reading “Business as usual”
I admit that, in the last few days, I’ve often thought of Zinedine Zidane and the current Real Madrid squad as a footballing version of the Titanic orchestra. When the season is almost lost, the director sticks to the tried and tested, refuses to make any adjustments, and plays the same songs as the ship starts to sink. Continue reading “Underdogs at home”