A sideways look at Spanish football
Tim Stannard and Simon Talbot
Like a date with La Liga Loca, Barcelona’s encounter with Sevilla was only fun for two minutes. But at least the fans didn’t walk off promising to call the next day.
Two minutes was how long it took for Pep’s Dream Boys to post their single-finger response to Real Madrid’s fist-waving fury from the previous night.
Two minutes was how long it took for Barça’s hero of the hour, Andrés Iniesta, to smack a shot past the hapless Javi Varas in the Sevilla goal.
Two minutes was how long it took for everyone in Spain to switch over to watch Desperate Housewives. Or, for those treasonous types, Manchester United’s Premier League clash with Portsmouth.
On Wednesday night, Sevilla showed just how truly average and uninspiring they have become under Manolo Jiménez, the man who took over the club’s reins from Juande Ramos.
Getafe had an excuse or two for barely having a touch in their Coliseum clash on Saturday night: they’re not very good and are being managed by Victor Muñoz.
But Sevilla have no such fallback position for the four goals conceded, or the two shots in response that was their wonderful night’s work.
Jiménez admitted that “we were infinitely inferior to them” and bleated that “you have to be perfect to beat them.”
You have to at least try to beat them, huffs La Liga Loca to a manager who waved the white flag from the off by leaving Freddie Kanouté on the bench.
Manolo eschews the option of brown trousers
Sport’s headline notes that “Who laughs last laughs longer,” while the considerably less literate Mundo Deportivo - the paper that communicates in grunts and clicks - yells ‘Superstar!’ at Iniesta.
“Barcelona are unstoppable,” opines Sport’s Josep Maria Casanovas. “La Liga will not be lost, despite certain referees.”
And Josep is probably correct in his assumption, considering there are just six games to go and Madrid have to face Sevilla in the Sánchez Pizjuán without Pepe, Sneijder, Robben and Higuaín (pending an appeal).
Elsewhere on Wednesday night, Osasuna found themselves suffering at the hands of a life-risking referee in Pamplona in their clash against Málaga.
The relegation-battling Basques were punished with the softest of penalties in the opening minutes before losing three more players and their manager in a game where the man in the middle seemed to quite enjoy himself – unlike the furious white-hankie/plastic bag-waving fraternity who watched their team crash to a 2-3 home defeat.
Osasuna fans: "May we have a word?"
Elsewhere, David Villa struck twice to beat Betis 2-1 at home in a match where Unai Emery claimed “the second half was ours” but where opposition coach José Maria Nogúes felt that “the second half was more open.”
And Deportivo beat Almería.
Thursday night sees what uncharitable types would describe as the runt of la Liga’s midweek fixtures. In the 10pm kick-off against Valladolid, Mallorca are hoping to see their crowd reach double figures.
“The other day, Arsenal's Alex Song told me that we are the only league you watch in bed when you go to sleep,” joked Mallorca striker Pierre Webo on the preposterous start time.
Meanwhile, two bald men fight over a comb in Gíjon as Sporting take on Espanyol. Atlético are set for another dazzling away day defeat, this time against Racing Santander, while Villarreal will continue to show indifference to la Liga with a narrow, scrapping win over Recreativo.
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La Liga Talentspotter
There`s a good reason for the preposterous start times of matches and that`s the preposterous time that most Spanish people seem to finish work. Two hour lunches combined with regular 30 minute breaks for meriendas, elevenses, coffee and cigarettes mean that your average office worker leaves the office at a time when most people in England are starting to think about going to bed. This fact of working life in Spain is not generally known outside the country and certainly shocked my workshy nature. Anyway, how dare you describe one of Espanyol´s most important matches of the season as two bald men fighting over a comb? That analogy worked well when describing the Falklands War but doesn´t do justice to this six pointer of a match. If we manage to beat them we´ll only be one point off safety. An unthinkable state of affairs a few weeks back.
The blog´s always harping on about the late kick offs,and I wonder if he´s adapted to the Spanish way of life. I quite like a 10pm start to grab a bite during the match and go out after. Ok it´s not brilliant for kids, but most kids round here go to bed around 11 anyway. The blog I imagine has a cup of cocoa, with it´s union jack slippers on, and gets to bed in good time to get its full eight hours.
Barça can´t fail now, 18 points left and RM without its few key players.
As for late kick offs, well, the match at El Molinón started at 8 o'clock and I certainly didn't see much sign of the attendance suffering because people couldn't get to the ground on time.
Cocoloco - You are not too far from the truth! Apart from the slippers. Useless without my eight hours.
But more seriously, the midweek 10pm kick off times are fairly unpopular in the papers too, but probably because hacks are fed up with leaving footie stadiums at 1.30 in the morning and having to be working at 8, the next day.
And it may be just in the capital which has most of the international firms, but I find that the 3 hours siesta, working till 9 culture is dying out as more and more companies move towards 'American' working hours.
if the league wants to progress theyll have to drop this "as long as we're comfortable" and whatever they feel is best. football is a corporate game, theeres money involved and people outside spain to please.
clubs main source of income is television rights, and that would be asia.
Santiago Segurola touched on this in his article on Marca the other day, added to things like not knowing when the game will kickoff until a week before the game takes place.
league will never go anywhere if kickoff times are at 10pm. 8pm should be the max and there should be more afternoon kickoffs.
looking at the bernabeu when kickoffs have been at 5pm, attendance is still pretty good it seems.
and Tim can you please tell me how games are on tuesday, wednesday and thursday, and then they randomly play on saturday and sunday. madrid played on tuesday and are playing on sunday. what on earth is going on!
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