A sideways look at Spanish football
A devastating, breath-taking display by Spain on Friday evening saw the world and European champtions tear apart their hapless opponents from Belarus. From the very first minute, Vicente del Bosque's side demonstrated that they didn’t need no Piqué or Puyol at the back to show the world of football that la Selección continue to be the Mack Daddies of the world game. Up yours Delors!
To be honest, La Liga Loca has absolutely no idea what happened in Minsk bar a quick 15 second glimpse of Spain’s four goals, three of which came from Pedro. For all the blog knows, Guti could have ran onto the pitch dressed as Queen Victoria - but for once there is a valid excuse for missing the game. The only Spanish souls to see the match from the comfort of their own homes were those near the Portuguese border, who were able to pick up stray signals from the nation next door, and hardy folk who found handy on-line streams via Romania.
In a clear example of the tough financial times in suffering Spain, not a single domestic broadcaster chose to pay for the rights to show the national team’s World Cup qualifier. From Wednesday, there were warning signs a’plenty that there might be something of a black-out, but the feeling was that with Spain being Spain, some kind of late deal would be arranged to show the Belarus clash.
The rights to the game were held by a sports marketing company ‘Sportfive’, who were reportedly asking Spanish broadcasters for €3 million to show the fixture. That price then dropped to €1.5 million once it became clear there would be no takers at the original price, and then eventually to around €750k, but by that stage everyone had walked away from the negotiating table.
In the Spanish broadcasters’ opinion the match was too expensive as not only was it was fairly unimportant and unglamorous affair, but also one which kicked off at the non prime time hour of 8pm on a bank holiday. Times are already tough for the country’s media without throwing even more money away.
Supporters weren’t even able to go old-school, with radio companies advised they would have to pay €25,000 each to commentate from inside the stadium. Instead, mini-studios were hastily set up in hotel rooms and the match was reported from there using local TV.
There'll be no such problems on Tuesday, however, with the dastardly French coming to the Vicente Calderón for Spain’s third qualifier, and a bit of a big one at that. The game’s early themes are centering around strikers. In Spain’s case it’s whether the country is going to play one and if so, whether it will be Fernando Torres returning to his beloved home-side stadium after an absence of five years.
In the France camp, Karim Benzema is the talk of the town, with Marca having to report some uncomfortable truths about the Real Madrid man's international record, with the striker's barren spell in a France shirt now stretching back 677 minutes. “France have very strong players in midfield and up front and can count on the quality of footballers of the class of Ribéry and Benzema, that we all know,” warned Del Bosque ahead of the upcoming neighbourly battle, ignoring the suggestion his team's Euro 2012 quarterfinal opponents were in decline.
For a side that tends to play much of its games in the provinces, the fact that the France clash is a grand affair and being taken very seriously indeed is shown by the decision to play the game in Capital City.
What’s more, it’s even going to be on TV as well. Time for Spain to put on their big-game boots.
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