Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"Valdéz deserves the same money as Casillas"

Ginés Carvajal thinks so. Well he would, wouldn't he? He's his agent.
He stated that his client wouldn't demand such a salary, but deserved it as he's at the same level as Casillas and Buffon. Have you ever heard such nonsense? Valdéz is free to negotiate with another club six months before his contract expires and could "go abroad."

The above video is cunningly titled: "Victor's Clangers - Part Two." Part Two!

Not really an opportune time to make such claims, is it? But that's agents for you.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Pique the unlikely hero

Spain are on their way to South Africa, but they didn't have it all their own way against a very good Turkish side. Their campaign at the European Championships was one of the highlights of the tournament and they deserved a point at the Bernabéu. Turkey didn't let Spain settle and it took a set-piece move to break the deadlock, with Piqué getting the goal. The return match on Wednesday should be a cracker and I fancy Turkey to inflict Spain's first defeat in thirty matches. Put your house on it!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Calderón to run against Florentino

Just when you thought it was safe to turn on the television, the biggest mouth in Spanish football is back and he's going to run against Florentino Peréz in the forthcoming elections. He hasn't a snowball's chance in hell of winning - I reckon even Alex Ferguson would stand a better chance - but that's not the point: he wants to put his side of the story to the Madrid fans and Spain at large, and sees an electoral campaign as a great means of doing this. Or it could just be out of spite. He's great fun is Don Ramón, this campaign will be a good laugh.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cruyff: Florentino knows nothing about football

Florentino Peréz is going to make everything better. This is the opinion of the Madrid press and the vast majority of their fans. Everyone has forgotten about the disasterous final years of his "Galactico" project and the ridiculous quotes:"Claude Makelele only ever passes the ball 3 metres." After he won it back, Florentino, after he won it back.

In any case, Johan Cruyff is not impressed with the construction magnate's credentials.

"I don't understand the construction industry and Florentino doesn't understand football."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

C.D Malaga 6 (Six!) Real Madrid 2

Malaga will unveil new strip against Real Madrid

The club will unveil a new strip, which is an homage to the old C.D Malaga one, in the next home match against Real Madrid. C.D Malaga beat Real Madrid 6-2 in the 83/84 season.

I'm worried about the Madrid game. Against Sevilla, Malaga were lucky to get a draw as they were completely outplayed and showed a lack of urgency in closing down the opposition. The less said about the Barcelona game the better. Hopefully they'll "be up" for Madrid.

Ronaldo. No, not the fat one.

According to As, quoting the bloody Daily Mail -you couldn't make it up-, Ronaldo is getting "no protection" from the referees in England. As believes this is the "reality" and "at the same time the perfect excuse to leave Manchester United for Real Madrid."

I don't like Ronaldo. He's too much of a whinger, and what about that pained expression when things go wrong? Eminently slappable. There's no doubting his ability, though. He's fast, can play anywhere across the front, can initiate attacks from deep, is dangerous from set-pieces and is a great header of the ball. Real Madrid is supposedly his "dream move", but things aren't exactly dreamy at Madrid. They're out of the Champions League and although they're only six points behind Barcelona in the league, their football is stone age stuff compared to the leaders. Florentino will be back at the Bernebéu and promises a shake-up, but has he learned from his past errors? Be careful what you wish for, Cristiano.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

International Break

So all the leagues around Europe go on hold for the International Break. The tournament at the end makes it worthwhile, I suppose. But it messes up my weekend routine of wall to wall football from England and Spain, drinking and posting codswallop on various forums while the matches are on. Ah, well. Can't be helped, can't be helped.

The Spain game should be good, though. Alongside Barcelona they've been my favourite side to watch over the last 18 months or so. They'll have to do without Iniesta, who's out for two weeks with a thigh strain. His absence isn't a massive blow to Spain as there are capable deputies available to come in and do a job, but Spain like Barcelona just aren't the same without him. I don't think it's a coincidence that Barcelona's recent slump coincided with Iniesta's absence. At times this season his level of performance has been as good, if not better, than Messi's. Barcelona fans will tell you that, but he has never received the universal adulation of the Argentine. Maybe he likes it that way. He reminds me of Paul Scholes in that sense: idolised by his own fans and deeply respected by his peers but light years away from the bullshit. Barca say he should be back for the game against Bayern Munich. I hope so.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Barcelona destroy Malaga

You would have to say that Malaga's 6-0 defeat flattered them. It could have been far, far worse.
In fairness to the visitors they were without Weligton and Calleja, two first team defenders and Duda, arguably the best performer this season, started on the bench as he wasn't 100% fit. Still, there was a lack of agression and intensity in the performance that seems to have carried over from the Sevilla match. To have any chance at Barca's place you have to be agressive. Even the great Real Madrid took turns to foul Messi in the first twenty minutes in their 2-0 defeat before Christmas. Malaga were soft and too respectful of their opponents.

Barcelona suffocated Malaga from the start last night. A lot of people ask why teams defend so deep at the Camp Nou as if there is an element of choice in the matter. They pin you back and defend from the front with the constant pressure of Eto'o, Messi and Henry. Although if you manage to break out, all you have to do is outplay Xavi, Iniesta and Toure in midfield. Easy, no?
Man for man, their defence wouldn't be as good as say, Manchester United's, Liverpool's or Chelsea's but their defence is starving the opposition of the ball thus reducing the opposition's chances. It worked for Spain in the summer.

Anyway, for what it's worth, Messi's goal was my favourite.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

"Hugol" returns to the Bernabeú

Next time you're on You Tube, stick Hugo Sánchez into the search bar and enjoy the show. What a player he was: a great goalscorer and a scorer of great goals. Where most forwards need 2 touches to finish, Sánchez invariably scored with one. Right foot, left foot,with the head, chest it didn't matter. And what about those overhead kicks?

Today he's back as manager of Almería. He should get a warm reception from the home fans, but his team will have it tough.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

It's Big

Malaga visit El Camp Nou

El Camp Nou is massive. It's kind of too big. The last time I was there, a 4-0 dismantling of Malaga, I splashed-out on good seats. We watched the game seven or eight rows behind the benches as Barcelona strolled to victory. Every now and again I looked up towards the Gods and thought: it must be shite watching it from there.

I'll watch this tomorrow on the box. Barcelona should win this one. They've started to play well after their little slump and Malaga will be without Baha (injured) and Weligton (suspended). Duda is back and Malaga will look to him to deliver from set-pieces, an area where Barca are weak.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spanish squad for matches against Turkey

Vicente stands firm.

Goalkeepers: Casillas, Reina, Diego López

Defenders: Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos, Albiol, Marchena, Juanito, Capdevila, Pique

Midfielders: Iniesta, Silva, Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Riera, Senna, Cazorla, Busquets.

Forwards: Torres, Villa, Llorente and Güiza.

Hopefully this Raúl "debate" can be put to bed now......

Raúl and la selección

Most people thought the madness surrounding Raúl and the Spanish national side would've ended after the European Championships. Aragonés got rid of Madrid's captain for a couple of reasons. One, he lacked the pace necessary and two, he dirtied his copybook at the 2006 World Cup by causing a fuss when it was suggested that he might have to start some games on the bench: Raúl can't start games on the bench, you know. The 2008 side was a tight unit both on and off the pitch and those not of a rabid pro-Madrid persuasion feel that Raul would be a disruptive influence if he were called-up. His fans in the press keep flogging the same dead horse, unfortunately. While admitting that he is behind Torres and Villa in the pecking order, the fans with typewriters have been pushing for his inclusion for the third stiker's place.

I'm sure Del Bosque won't be swayed by the noises coming from the Madrid press. He just needs to sit tight: the dirty work was done by his predecessor. However, having to listen to this "¡Raúl Seleccion!" nonsence everytime a squad is announced has become pretty tiresome.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Malaga to reduce ticket prices for Madrid visit

The club has announced that it will reduce prices by 40% for the match against Real Madrid on the 5th of April. Season ticket holders have the opportunity to buy 2 tickets before they go on general sale. The club say they are doing it as a gesture of goodwill in these dificult times, citing the effect of the economic crisis on many families. On the surface it seems a pretty decent gesture, but some fans see it as an opportunity for the many Madrid supporters in the Malaga area to see their heroes on the cheap, although the club will say that the offer of two tickets to season ticket holders will curb the Madrid presence. That's if the tickets go to Malaga fans. I've already been asked for tickets by some Madrid followers. A friend of mine was moaning about it. "Let those Madrid cunts pay to watch." He has a point. However, it's a fine line. Almeria raised their prices so much for the visit of Barcelona last Sunday that only 9,000 fans turned up: even season ticket holders had to buy their seats. I watched that match on the television when I got back from La Roselada on Sunday and it had all the atmosphere of a pre-season run-out.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Florentino checking out the vibe

Florentino Pérez is carrying out a telephone survey to gauge the opinion of Real Madrid socios.

One of the questions is: Do you think Florentino has learned from his mistakes? In a poll on Marca's website, 79% of those who responded certainly think so.

Will Florentino deliver on his promises? 91% think so.

In today's editorial in As, Alfredo Relaño stated that Madrid need Florentino.

Love him or hate him, we're going to be hearing a lot more about him in the coming weeks. And months.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Athletic 2 Real Madrid 5

I watched this match in the pub on Saturday. Most of the clientele were Real Madrid fans and it was just myself and a few others who were rooting for Athletic. I had been there since the rugby match between Scotland and Ireland which I sat through feigning interest. The finer points of rugby are lost on me, but I thought Ireland deserved to win: to my untrained eye they seemed to be in Scotland's half most of the time at any rate. What struck me was the physical contact and the players' reaction to it. No messing here: you go down under a hard challenge and you get back up. Despite a valiant attempt to "pace myself", I was slightly merry by the time the match from Bilbao started: "Come on Athletic!" In the match at San Mames, Yeste was sent-off for pushing Iker Casillas to the ground. Now, we know you can't "raise your hands" in football, but does a footballer have to go to ground like a 7 stone weakling? And clutching his face into the bargain? Yeste was foolish, and will have to learn to control his temper, but Casillas' reaction was pathetic. What would Frannie Lee and Norman Hunter have thought about that?

Anyway, Madrid won with a bit of help from the referee and maintain the pressure on Barcelona. Collusion. Isn't that a great word? The Madrid press are constantly highlighting the extra matches that Barcelona will have to play between now and the end of the season and how this can benefit Madrid in the race for the Championship. Have they no shame? Barcelona's handicap is that they are competing on all fronts like a big club should. They are in the cup final and are joint favourites, alongside Manchester United, in the competition Madrid covet most of all, the Champions League. "Hay Liga", (There is a league) they say in Marca and As and they are correct, but if this ordinary Madrid team wins the league by default it will be a sorry day for Spanish football.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Malaga 2 Sevilla 2

This was always going to be a tough game for Malaga. Sevilla, despite the summer departures of Poulsen, Keita and the extraordinary Dani Alves, still have a lot of quality and had Malaga on the ropes from the first whistle on Sunday. Malaga had to do without both Duda and Lolo, who are on loan from Sevilla, as there is a clause in the loan deal which prevents them for lining out against their employers. Duda has been excellent this season and his loss was felt by the home team on Sunday. His accurate passing over longer distances has enabled Malaga to release their speedy forwards quickly without having to elaborate too much in midfield. Without this outlet on Sunday, Malaga struggled against a technically adept Sevilla in the centre of the field and were attacked with impunity. Albert Luque, who has demonstrated a return to form in recent weeks was nursing a knock and started on the bench. It was looking grim for the home side until mild-mannered Salva Ballesta scored against the run of play in the 18th minute. Malaga doubled their lead 15 minutes before the break with another goal from Salva. Before Salva's first, Sevilla had a goal wrongly disallowed for offside. The referee was going to give the goal but was dissuaded by the linesman's flag. The linesman, however, must have been on the sauce the night before as the "goal", as television replays proved, was clearly onside. The referee acted correctly in my opinion because his assistant did have a better view. Anyway, Sevilla for all their dominance went in at half-time 2-0 down, football, eh?

Sevilla continued to dominate in the second half. I thought Tapia would've learned something from the first period and shored up the gaping channel from the centre circle to the edge of Malaga's box from where Sevilla's best work was done, but no: things remained the same and Sevilla created chance after chance as Malaga retreated. The inevitable goals came and Sevilla will be disappointed that they didn't take the three points.

The atmosphere in La Roselada was fantastic with both sets of supporters in great song on a fine sunny evening. Next up for Malaga is a tricky away fixture against the mighty Barcelona on Saturday. After a little slump in form Barcelona have rediscovered their touch and have looked the part in recent games. Malaga will have Duda and Lolo back but will need to perform a lot better than on Sunday to have any hope of getting a result. Unfortunately I won't be able to make that one, so I'll watch it on the box with a few Staropramen. I think the missus is going out too. Result!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Champions League Quarter Finals

I think this current Barca side will score against anyone. Last year's version was unfit and reaching the end of Rijkaard's cycle: Manchester United were simply fitter last year. No-one in world football moves the ball as fast, and I'd fancy them to take anyone if they score first. The defence is of course the weak link, but didn't everyone say that about Spain before the summer? Spain's tactic was to starve their opponents of the ball, and Barca will strive to do the same. Of all the English teams, Liverpool are the most comfortable without the ball, so I could see them getting a good result against Barca. United, of course can win against anyone. I don't think Chelsea have had the neccesary continuity this season to challenge. Arsenal are finding it hard to score goals at the moment: I should know, I've lost 60 quid already this year betting on them at The Emirates!

I also think it's dangerous to draw conclusions about the overall standard of La Liga based on Real Madrid's showing against Liverpool. Yes, they lie second, but in that run of ten wins, they won at least 7 by the odd goal and they were awful to watch. Essentially Ramos had them set up to counter-attack. In fact one opposing player after a 1-0 defeat at the Bernebeu said Madrid were set up like a "small team", un equipo pequeño. Of course, when you are a goal down from the first leg and your only recourse is the counter-attack, you know it's not going to be an easy night. Liverpool pressed Madrid from the first whistle and rushed them into passes and wild clearances which were then lapped up by the Anfield side: a side much more adept at winning the" second ball" than Juande's team. Let's hope Malaga can do the same as Liverpool when Madrid visit La Roselada. Next up for Malaga are fierce rivals Sevilla.

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