Saturday, July 23, 2011

Faking News: Why the Cesc Transfer Saga Remains a Saga

Moc, Moc or Mock, Mock?

As you can see, Another Prick In The Wall hasn’t been writing lately. But it isn’t because APTW has been mulling over the possibility of seeing Thong Boy in a Gorilla Snot Hair Gel sponsored Real jersey ala Bimbo sponsoring Chivas Guadalajara. It’s actually because the blog has been trying to get an exclusive take from the Barcelona authorities on the Cesc transfer saga, which admittedly is not a very difficult thing to do, as they all love to talk about Cesc down in Catalaunya, about how much he wants to return and how much they want him back and how those sods in Arsenal are making the poor guy suffer by not letting him go for free. No, but the blog wanted to know why Barcelona are not ready to spend a shade over 40 million to secure Cesc, when they can spend 37 million for Sanchez, drafting up the prints of the agreement in black and white and saving on color toners.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A warm breeze from Costa Del Sol


VanGol's Andalucian Affair
There were over 15000 of them in the stands, delirious with joy, waving their scarves, signing “Malaga, La Bombonera”; most of them in their striped blue and white jerseys. The fireworks went off as a timed response to that player who emerged from the dressing room onto the big green pitch and waved to the fans. Blue and white confetti rained down while balloons of the same color rained skywards as the 35 year old Ruud Van Nistelrooy, one of the most lethal finishers in Europe over the last two decades, marked his return back to Spain and acknowledged the crowd, a crowd which exceeded the ones present at his official presentation at all of his previous clubs. One may be forgiven to think that VanGol had made a switch to one of the European elites judging by the amount of fanfare. But Malaga CF are far from being an European elite. They are far from being even a Spanish elite. A club who’s very identity is framed by obscurity, a club which till date has won only one title: The Intertoto Cup, a club which has always been run by presidents that skinny dipped in controversy or landed in a pan of boiling oil soon after resigning from their posts, a club which typified the textbook definition of a yo-yo club, a club who’s lack of remembrance in the annals of La Liga is only eclipsed by the size of the region in Spain it hails from. Until Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani took over, that is.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Poll: Your La Liga Team Other Than The Fat Cats

It's offseason and hence Another Prick In The Wall is looking to write a couple of special posts for clubs other than the big two. The blog needs to know which club apart from Real Madrid & Barcelona will you be rooting for in the coming La Liga season. The blog will try its best to put together a decent article about the club that wins.

Also please make sure you let the blog know your reasons for supporting the club you selected. Multiple choices are allowed in case swooning over more than one of the clubs mentioned below, but please let the blog know your reasons for all the two timing.

NOTE: Poll ends 30th June, 2011.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Steaming Vat of Gossip & Some Grim Reading

Another Prick In The Wall loves when controversies hit center stage in La Liga. The blog felt that in all the hoolah-hoo of the transfer rumors, it has been neglecting the colorful controversies which give La Liga its distinct characteristic: Morbo. In this post, the blog has sought to report some juicy nuggets of the choicest gossip so that you can enjoy the kind of fervor for the most ridiculous and the most weird, which only the off-season can bring.


Fuel The Fire
First up, the big one: The season hasn’t even begun and the big two are already at each other’s throats. Barcelona’s Floppy wannabe president, Sandrito was quoted only few weeks back expressing surprise at the lack of recognition for Barca in spite of all their heroics on footballing’s biggest stage. May be someone needs to tell the guys at Barcelona that waxing on and on about your greatness doesn’t give anybody else room to express their own thoughts regarding the matter. Anyway, Rossel followed that intelligent comment up with a lengthy presser last week where he talked about the greatness of Barcelona and their values, namely dignity and honor, and about how Barcelona is a reference to everyone, especially children. And just when the blog thought that this was yet another piece of self-important tripe which the Barca PR department dishes out with unfailing regularity, Rossel delivered a bomb. “A media report fuelled by Real Madrid wanted to justify our team’s extraordinary sporting performances with pathetic accusations”, boomed Rossel in reference to the doping allegations, before continuing, “This season a Real Madrid employee, its coach, went beyond all the limits of necessary sporting rivalry. Surprisingly, RM’s response to our legitimate right to defend our honor was a formal complaint against eight of our players. Real Madrid did not get their way, as UEFA twice rejected their accusations. Rivalry will continue next season but we can't allow the limits of fair play to be passed again”. The blog had followed this outburst keenly, nodding its head, until Rossel reached a point where he talked about ending the “institutional relations” between the two clubs and then expressed his hope that the “President of Real Madrid will look upon this as an opportunity to revive our relations”.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Transfer Shenanigans - June 05 to June 14

The transfer rumor mill has hit a minor lull in the last week, sometimes repackaging and churning out the same never ending transfer sagas, which have turned even more “tripey” every time they’ve gone into print once more. The blog decided to wait for more than a week to report some bombastic signings and then finally decided to go into print with whatever it has mustered up so far. It should make easy, and in parts, tedious reading depending on which club you support.

Madrid

Too Soon?
Real Madrid are finally in the news for selling reasons. Marca has reported that Boca Juniors are interested in signing back Gago, which the blog feels may be with a disposition of taking the black sheep back. The “done squat” midfielder’s agent pompously proclaimed that Gago is dying to go back to Boca, but it will not happen in the near future as Gago has three offers from Europe in the range of 17 million euros. Looks like Gago doesn’t and can’t have his way even when he has to be laid off. To start with, there have been rumors that it was Manchester City who had tabled the 17 million euro offer; however Mourinho, who has always had the best interests of Gago at heart, vetoed the move. Marca has continued its Mourinho worship by interpreting this decision as Mourinho wanting to erring on caution and built up the story pointing out that the outspoken coach wants to make all the signings first and then think about selling, no doubt causing the club a minor loss in the process. Possible targets to replace Gago as per Marca have included Essien from Chelsea (APTW: Impossible!), M’Vila from Rennes (APTW: Quite Possible) and Sissoko from Juventus (APTW shaking head).

Monday, June 6, 2011

Transfer Shenanigans - May 29 to Jun 06

The season is now well and truly over and the Transfer Rumor engine has already notched up a gear in the last week. Another Prick In The Wall was expecting a sudden outburst of crazy rumors, but what the blog hadn’t prepared for was the number of confirmed signings this early in the transfer window, which is actually quite good given the fact that teams that wind up their transfer business sooner get more time to prepare and gel in the pre-season. The blog fully expects the two leagues – One between Real Madrid and Barcelona and the other between the rest of the teams – to pan out with cut throat competition between opposing teams.

So without much ado, let's look at all the crazy transfer allegations and confirmed news touted by media all over the world during the last week as per each Spanish province...

Madrid

The Usual Suspects
Unsurprisingly, leading the charge in the transfer market is Real Madrid. The blog wonders if displaying the same intensity in the league as that in the transfer market could help the club winning a Liga title. After the quick fire acquisitions of Nuri Sahin and Hamit Altintop from Germany, the capital club is now rumored to be close to signing Fabio Coentrao and Kun Aguero from Benfica and Atletico Madrid respectively.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

La Liga Transfer News Live Blog

In order to keep up with the Transfer Rumor Engine in over drive, Another Prick In The Wall brings you the Transfer News Liveblog, courtesy CoverItLive. The live blog has incorporated some of the most established tweeters from the world of La Liga who will bring you steady, continuous and reliable updates on everything that is going to go on in La Liga this summer.

So simply hit the Play button and remember, La Liga News is just a button click away...


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Of Champions, Whiners & Transfers


Mou, what is it like watching us on TV? Why?
 The big news of the week is obviously Barcelona winning its fourth, and pointedly, Spain’s 13th UEFA Champions League title – with some style. Of course, the Spanish flags were markedly missing in the post match celebrations which is quite saddening to see given the fact that even players like Pedro, Villa, who are not Catalans, did not wave the country’s flags, either by choice or because they were told not to. The blog obviously suspects the latter. Facing an ageing United squad who looked more interested in the little nuances of the opposite team’s game play than closing the damn attackers down, Barca ran riot. Following a criminal mistake in leaving Xavi with time and space to pick out Pedro who scored his first UEFA Champions League final goal, United equalized through the huff and puff of Rooney and a little whiz of a pass from Giggs, but then allowed Messi to score a special goal and failed to close down Villa who curled one to the top right corner of Van der Saar, finally killing the tie. In a record breaking season, Barcelona still has not managed to break one record: In all of their UEFA Champions League finals, none of the goals have been scored by Catalans. So much for all the self-importance. The blog feels that it should totally do away with reporting anything out of the Catalan dailies for the next two weeks given the same revolting tripe of the self-important 20 year old Barca philosophy, the famed La Masia, et al that they will continue to churn, recycle and then churn out once more.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

La Liga : The End is Here

Guilty?
Now that the wave of self-importance in Catalunya has worn out somewhat, Another Prick In The Wall got a chance to look at some news bytes emanating from Catalunya. The general media perception is still that of coming out a binge-drinking induced hangover though. The headline news reports how the crew of the airplane that Barca travelled in post their league victory had to tell off the players to celebrate in a more civilized manner. Little whiz Messi got a telling off from a stewardess who apparently was quite ticked off seeing that Messi did the same thing to the emergency exit what Ronaldo did to the poor spectator in row 1 of the Bernabeu, i.e. break it. The blog doubts if she got a free Messi jersey in return. In Catalunya, they have yet another reason to celebrate as UEFA overturned its investigation into Busquets’ racial slur at Marcelo with the verdict “Not Guilty” citing a “lack of strong and convincing evidence” in Busquets’ defence. While people at AS have got their knickers in a twsit around their ankles given UEFA’s latest Barca related allegiance as they called it, Real Madrid was not too pleased. To start with UEFA overturned the result in Barcelona’s favor and to add salt to injury, the notice from UEFA claimed that Madrid’s complaint has been dealt with. This prompted the capital club to release an official notice stating that they were not the ones who had officially complained about Busquets’ racial slur but had instead complained about the unsporting behavior of the Barcelona players which was rejected and then again appealed against and again opened and yada yada. Ahh, the madness. And then in a move to substantiate their case, the club’s site had various players claiming that they were glad that Busquets was going to play in Wembley but were quite sad that their gaffer had to bear all the injustice. The blog sympathizes with the poor soul that is Mourinho. Fiery brand Pepe stayed true to his word claiming that Busquets walked scot-free inspite of an obvious insult while Arbeloa did a Xavi by saying that he had no preference about the impending UCL final winner seeing as he didn’t have friends at either club. The blog suspects that the journo hack who asked that question got exactly what he wanted to hear. After all, Arbeloa is a Real Madrid product who learnt his trade at the professional level in Liverpool. Oh, the Rivalry!

Friday, May 13, 2011

The War is won, but Skrimishes are On

Campions - 2010/2011
First of all, the blog would like to apologize to its readers for the relative period of inactivity; don’t they clash with the clasicos especially when Barca wins? No doubt more than few readers would be smelling a conspiracy theory; in case you did not know smelling a conspiracy theory in anything related to the Clasicos is the IN thing these days. However, Another Prick In The Wall solemnly assures its readers that there’s none of those shady dealings going on here; suffice to say the writer was just busy all this while.
.
Anyway, now that the ugly miniseries is finally over, this blog can focus on other colorful aspects of the Spanish league. As far as footballing matters go, Barca have won their third in a row and twenty first over all league with two games to spare. Media reports emanating from the self important smug wave down in Catalunya strive to drive home one point: Football won. Well as if the blog hasn’t heard that enough. So with conscious effort APTW has decided to skip over the soddy, happy tear stained reports from Catalunya pausing only to congratulate Barcelona for their victory over Real Madrid. It does take a consistent team to win a league, but given the state the Spanish La Liga is in with its two dog affair, credit has to be given to Barcelona for not mucking up 3-4 games more than Real Madrid.
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Friday, April 29, 2011

A Match that No One Wanted...Or Won - Part II

There is certainly no Love left anymore

To read the first part of this article which discusses the talking points (or the lack of talking points) in the UEFA Champions League semi-final 1st leg between Real Madrid and Barcelona, click here

A lot of things have been called into say since the match ended; for example Mourinho’s defensive tactics playing at home. Mourinho has never cared for that particular aspect, except the final result, and to be fair, Another Prick In The Wall would consider any tactics laid down by either Guardiola or Mourinho as the words from the Gospel, given their glittering resumes. There’s nothing to suggest that had the red card not changed the course of the match, Mourinho’s team would not have won 1-0. The question here is that of taste, and the blog feels that Madridistas worldwide should not moan considering they knew what their club had signed up for when they hired Mourinho.

A Match that No One Wanted...Or Won - Part I

Los Putos Amos
Prologue

Way back in early 2011, when Real Madrid & Barcelona both made it to the finals of the Copa Del Rey, the world was already frothing at its mouth with the prospect of seeing the two biggest institutions, wickedly termed as “Cantera y Cartera” going head to head in April, twice, in a matter of four days. A Real Madrid vs Barcelona encounter was, has always been a victory for the beautiful game. Not just because of the amount of crowd it pulls in worldwide but simply because any of the matches played between these two sides usually have 2-3 players in the reckoning for the Balon D’Or (now FIFA World Player of the Year) award taking each other on. This season almost the entire elite list of 10 players was going to take the field for this match, twice over. A collection of stars, no a galaxy of superstars, all on that odd square of green, ready to battle it out for the game. Then in the UCL, Real Madrid dispatched Lyon & Tottenham Hotspurs imposing their character in this tournament and earning the favorites tag; Barcelona made it against Arsenal under controversial circumstances, dispatched Shakhtar with utter dominance over two legs to set up a titanic two legged semi final; Real Madrid facing Barcelona two more times. Fixture creators in La Liga strive to ensure that the two Real Madrid vs Barcelona league matches often have enough time between them simply because of the nature of the match, and its general aftermath. So, more often than not, it is the second El Clasico that generally decides the title, given how much of a two horse race the league is. Yet while the league encounters were kept pole apart, some weird quirk of destiny ruled that Real and Barca would be now playing each other four times in just under 3 weeks. And if the world was frothing at its mouth earlier, now it was positively drooling. Everyone wanted to have a piece of the action, be a part of the great movement, be associated with the mother of all encounters; four times over. So it started; players and managers steering clear of making any untoward statements that might be misinterpreted, reading bland one liners respecting their opponent, undoubtedly handed to them by their respective club’s PR departments.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Reyes Del Copa

Champions of Spain
In this blog’s awfully short living memory, there hasn’t been an occasion before when the Copa Del Rey final has been received with such fanfare. Consequently, the blog wonders if it is only because of the big two or is it because the final signaled a prospective end to the hegemony of arguably the best side in world football today.

While people in Catalunya have been fairly attentive to the Copa Del Rey (Cup of Kings) over the years – if only because for them winning it symbolizes yet another victory over the “establishment” – for clubs like Ahtletic Bilbao, a derision towards the capital combined with the fact that there’s only so much their “homegrown players only” policy can do, the Kings Cup has been the only tournament they could be realistically realistic about. Compare that with the view from the capital, where the tournament has been often labeled as a Mickey Mouse Cup, a trophy so derided, that in recent years it has been looked upon as nothing more than a scrap for the rest of the pack to feed upon. Madridistas worldwide are already forlorn given the decade long drought of the beloved UEFA Champions League, a trophy Real Madrid considers synonymous with the tradition of the club itself. The drought of the Copa Del Rey has been longer, 17 years to be precise, and included embarrassments such as the 4-3 (agg.) defeat to Real Union and the 4-1 (agg.) defeat to Alcorcon, both clubs placed in the third tier of Spanish football. For this reason alone, they have been the butt of several jokes in recent years, one from the Spanish Prime Minister himself. But save for Iker Casillas, no one (at least those under the media spotlight anyway) at Madrid; has ever expressed their desire to win this particular tournament. Then came one man, and then it all changed.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Super Pepe salvages battle, Super Pep wins war

Much Better than the Hasta El Final mosaic. Simple and Terrifying
As the final whistle rang out on the first of four Clasicos; three things were certainto this blog: Barcelona had finally sealed their third consecutive league, Real Madrid proved that the remaining matches were going to be anything but a foregone conclusion and Mourinho had learnt from his mistakes. The previous five clasicos had a common pattern. Madrid started the game well, then lost the midfield battle to Xavi, Iniesta and co. and over a period of 90 minutes, slowly slumped to a point of no return. In fact, APTW almost had half a mind to give this one a miss given the fact that Mourinho had given up on the league already and given the latest string of results, the clasico has been one of the easiest matches of the calendar for Barcelona.


Going into this match, Barcelona had already effectively won the league given the sheer quality of their team and the 8 point gap with seven games to go. If you might’ve read any talk from Madrid in the vein of “we will fight for the league till its mathematically impossible” be assured that it was absolute hogwash. Mourinho had given up on the league the night his nine year old record was broken. Since then he’s been preparing for the cup tournaments, trying different formations and strategies as he seeks to banish the Barca ghost once and for all. A small blueprint of that was seen in the first clasico on Saturday as Madrid took to the field with a 4-1-4-1 formation. The blog feels that brownie points are in order since it was right in its judgement about the formation Mourinho would set his team out to play in the tactical preview. The 4-1-4-1 that Mourinho had his team play had Carvalho and Albiol in the center with Ramos and Marcelo in the wider areas. Pepe deputized as a destroyer, sitting just behind the midfield duo of Alonso and Khedira, while Di Maria and Ronaldo played as straight wingers. The formation was a classic Mourinho formation and for once, Madrid countered Barcelona’s strength in the midfield by going level on number of players in that particular area of the field. On the other hand, Barcelona played their standard 4-3-3 formation, the surprise being Puyol making the starting elven. The blog feels that Pep might have rushed in Puyol for the crucial first encounter and may yet regret his decision if Puyol fails to make the starting 11 come Wednesday for the Copa Del Rey final.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Tactical Talks ahead of El Clasico

Following the whacky preview in this article, Another Prick In The Wall now takes a look at the tactical battles that will pan out in the upcoming El Clasico miniseries. When one talks about tactics, it’s only natural to think of Jose Mourinho. It’s also easy for most level headed people to dismiss Barcelona as having just one tactic: Attack, Attack & Attack. Even Pep Guardiola is a proponent of this “apparent” belief. What most people do not realize that this is a tactic in itself. Most teams know that Barca will always seek to maintain possession of the ball, gain it when they lose it by extensive possession and will attack for all the 90 minutes. However, what is unseen are the little tactical modifications that Pep goes about with every 2-3 matches depending on the opposition.

The battle between Real Madrid on Barcelona on three different fronts necessitates a need for tactical innovation, an ability to manage and motivate resources and an urge to remain focused despite a stumble or two. This is exactly where Jose Mourinho & Pep Guardiola excel. This article attempts to take a look into the different formations that can be utilized in course of the four matches.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

El Cuatro

El Gran Clasico x 4
The uninitiated can have a quick look-in into this article which explains the basic concept of the mother of all matches; known simply as El Clasico – The Classic. Every single one of them has been a case of heart break for either one sect of fans, or both. And we’re at that point in time when we’ll watch four of these matches in a gap of four weeks. El Cuatro – The Four. The Four Matches, played by the same two teams, with the same set of players in different competition; truly a smorgasbord of footballing talent, excitement, heartache (cardiac arrest in some cases), passion and tears.



Monday, April 11, 2011

La Liga: A Storm Brewing...


Back to Scoring Ways
 The big news in Marca today is that Messi, who is often a pain in most opposition's backsides, has a persistent pain in his own backside in the form of his ever bumbling brother who's once again in the news for 8 shots fired by an unidentified stranger outside his house. While this may not be a reason for Messi to have eerily lost his goal scoring form for about the same time as Ronaldo was injured, it certainly was not an impetus for the two shots he fired and made stick against strugglers Almeria (which goes on to mean that Ronaldo's return to injury might probably be the motivational factor). Joan Gasfart, er Gaspart, the scandal and debt ridden ex-president of Barca (Ah those were the times) has set the tone for the upcoming Mad April by claiming that if he was still the Barca president, he would've predicted a 14-0 scoreline in favor of his beloved Barca and not apologized after pressure from media based in the capital, unlike Rossel. But then again, as we all know, had Gaspart still been president, Barca would've, in all probability, been playing in the Europa League at this very moment. Meanwhile down in the sun soaked, beach blessed shores of the ever victimized Barcelona, Sporting Director Zubizarreta continued waxing more about Barcelona's infallible style. Busquets, not to be undone, has prioritized the Champions League in stark contrast to his coach who, aside from continuing to sample new hair therapy products and wistfully wishing a move away from the high pressure cauldron of the Camp Nou, prioritized the league a few weeks back. That certainly didn't reflect in the team's performance, eking out only a 2-1 victory against rock bottom Almeria, after going a goal down in the first half with the first of Barca's two goals coming from a soft penalty (Villarato anyone?). The fans of Almeria would've finally recognized the unshakeable truth that after some years in the glam sham, their club is once again destined for the gloom bloom of the Segunda. They have to, since they let one of Barcelona's midgets score a header past them despite having players beating their opposition for size.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Spanish Fuera de Juego

This blog hates International breaks. I hail from a country where cricket is religion; with the Cricket World Cup underway and the International Break, there’s absolutely no way I can seek solace in a 90 minute football match featuring Spanish clubs. Consequently, it’s your chance to be treated with some non-football garbage. The blog has taken the effort to take up only the most colorful topics in its endeavor to keep you alternately pleased and pissed (depending on your reading perspective).

Nightclub Brawls


Yes, I was there!

In yet another nightclub incident for 3rd place hopeful club Valencia, Vicente and a drunk buddy were reportedly caught in a confrontation with two total strangers outside a nightclub in the wee hours when people are enjoying being in dreamland brought upon by a tiring day’s work, a drunk stupor or a post orgasmic euphoria. Vicente, after initially refusing to be present, has now acknowledged that he indeed was present, but had nothing to do with the fight that left two club goers in hospital for treatment. The two club goers reportedly made comments to the tune of “You don’t seem to get on more” to Vicente, which could be related to Vicente’s inability to find a female partner for the night or his inability to find more playing time in the Valencia squad. Either way, APTW is inclined to believe Vicente’s version, as the innocent and professional player that he is (he reported on time for training early morning next day), he wouldn’t confront two strangers for stating something which even he would’ve been scratching his head about. However, assuming “Vicente 03:26” as something written down in the Holy Bible, I would want to be his friend’s friend. He took two strangers on and made them visit the hospital. That’s premium free insurance for you.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Liga Blues



It’s been a long time since APTW has been on a self imposed, unannounced, crazy hiatus. I guess marriage does that to you; you need to grab a different perspective, plan life a bit, get adjusted to the demands of a wife who doesn’t really love football and does not really pretend that she’s not too flustered about the fact that she’s quite low down the priority order; football taking precedence everywhere…

Anyway, so you get the drift. With the reasons of my absence explained for those who are bothered, let’s dive into footy world finally. The last post on this blog was the nutty El Clasico preview, and the article was quite prophetic (about the nuttiness, I mean) seeing as the match itself was a nutty affair; 5-0? Plenty of things have happened since then: Real Madrid & Barcelona both making it to the Mestalla for the Copa Del Rey final (Surprise Surprise!), Barcelona losing to Arsenal, with the pretenders duly rolling over for them at the Camp Nou just as most other teams do and the way Atletico does against Real every season, Real Madrid breaking their 7 year long jinx(es) of getting their butts kicked out of the Champions League last 16 and by Lyon, Mourinho’s verbal tripe splashed all over the front pages, a doping scandal thrown in with Spain’s egomaniacal big two playing ‘He Said-She Said’ and finally settling on ‘No One Said’ (what was the point anyway?), Benzema (nĂ  anyone?) graduating from purring to roaring, Ronaldo failing from roaring to purring (his furious kitten celebration forgotten somewhere down the line), Messi and Villa proving for the third match running that you put them together in a whorehouse and they still wouldn’t score…Whew! Plenty Indeed. And that’s just the big two.

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