Tuesday, 25 March 2008

See-saw

Is it lack of confidence? Is it bad luck? Is it Mijatovic wasting over a hundred million on signings that are not pulling their weight in the squad? Is it fair to call this a crisis when Real Madrid are still four points ahead in the league while in England, Manchester United are five ahead and Alex Ferguson is trying to dampen the euphoria?

The reasons for the slump are probably many and inter-related: there is a lack of confidence in the side, the "bad" luck in this half of the season merely balances out the good fortune in the first half, and the less said about Brylcreem boy, the better. But, all in all, while "crisis" may be overstating the case a smidgeon, the situation is drawing dangerous parallels with last season's run-in, except the other way around. The famous "cagómetro" (lit. shit-meter) is making a reappearance, as Real are facing their own brown-trouser time. One can't help but see the looming spectre of the 3rd last game of the season, the Clásico at the Bernabéu, which, due to the ridiculously tight Spanish fixture calendar will be played in mid-week instead of at the week-end.

Back in Sunday's game, it was interesting to note that when Raúl had scored his second of the night (and 15th of the season) and put Real ahead, the Bernabéu was echoing to the cries of "Raúl, selección". But Luis Aragonés has made his bed and will likely lie in it: his last squad selection before the European championships (for a friendly against Italy on Wednesday) did not include the former captain. It did include, however, the other brace-taker on the night, David Villa, who is preferred because "there are better players than Raúl".

Villa's league tally? 10.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't know about you, but unlike last season, I'm just not finding this that exciting. It really is as if neither of the top two wants it enough to merit winning it. Don't get me wrong - as a Barca fan I'd love to see Calderon with egg on his face after talking about his 'machine': but as a Barca fan I also find myself not that fussed whether we win it or not. I'd glady see Villarreal walk off with it at the end of the season just to give us both a kick up the backside. Lee LLR

Gonzalo said...

I agree - the difference between last season and this season is that Barça are not stepping up to the challenge the way Capello's Real did. They seem to be just as inconsitent and lacking in confidence as the leaders, so who knows what may happen. It still may make for a very interesting Clásico in May though...

Gonzalo said...

I'm assuming LLR refers to the excellent La Liga Review. Don't be shy and plug your site!

john said...

I don't know, guys. I absolutely refute the claim that this hasn't been an exciting season. While it's true that the big two haven't lived up to expectations (despite their place at the top of the league) and have been playing spotty, unexciting football, it's not fair to write off the league based on these two teams alone.

The rest of the league has been scrapping out one of the most competitive dog fights in a long time, the small clubs proving a match for even the big teams with high-paying rosters. Teams like Mallorca, Getafe and even Almeria have been staging thrilling upsets while battling for mid-table spots, while Valencia and Zaragoza are included in the scramble to avoid relegation. True, it's not title fight but the relegation battle where most of the excitement is presiding this season, but in my opinion, excitement is excitement in La Liga, no matter who's creating it.

Also notable: Villareal, finally firing on all cylinders with both Nihat and Tomasson fit, are true contenders for the title. Atletico Madrid and Sevilla, despite their rough patches, proved that they are two of the most exciting sides in football during last weeks clash at the Pizjuan. Racing, while not the most exciting club to watch, forces the most from it's opponents, creating powerful clashes and lightining vast counters, and finally, while Vallodolid may be having a poor season overall, they're farming one of the most up and coming strikers in Spain, in Joseba Llorente.

Gonzalo said...

Fair comment, john, thanks for taking the time to post such a cogent argument. However, I was focusing more on the run-in to the title in terms of excitement, than the league championship as a whole. While Villareal still has a shot at the title, it's almost been a two-horse race for a while (and would have been a one-horse race if not for Real's disastrous last couple of months). The comparison with last year's run-in makes me feel that netiher of the top two is psychologically that keyed up for it, possibly for different reasons, and supporters can sense that.