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.

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