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 (nà 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.

Down the order, Valencia and Villarreal are going through alternate periods of sun and rain; the non-existent crisis phases highlighted unduly by the media. But who cares? Both are currently tied on points, both are comfortably making it to next season’s Champions League with the next team a distant 11 points away. Coaches of both the teams however have contradicting dispositions lately. Juan Carlos Garrido is gleeful given the fact that Villarreal trounced Bayern Leverkusen in this edition’s Europa League and with Manchester (the other one) and Liverpool getting themselves knocked out, only Porto seem to hold any real challenge for the yellow submarines. Down in Valencia however, Ratatouille’s lead rat look alike Unai Emery isn’t too pleased given his team’s latest results. A 4-0 drubbing against relegation contenders Zaragoza had Emery philosophical, hoping that nothing would go wrong there on, but it did as Valencia lost against stuttering Sevilla; the loss making it 3 for Emery in as many games (Schalke, Zaragoza & Sevilla). Sevilla aren’t doing too well either. After half a year of moaning Luis Fabiano has finally left Spain for the samba and night life of Brazil and Sevilla have had to rely on the services of the ageing but skillful Kanoute to fight for the two Europa League slots. A draw against Barcelona followed by a win against Villarreal sees them hitting a rich nerve of form, though it wouldn’t surprise anyone if they wobbled yet again. Locked in that same battle are Espanyol and Athletic Bilbao for whom the end can’t come sooner. True to their tradition, Atletico Madrid are still the yo-yo team of La Liga. For a squad brimming with talent, the lack of consistency points to only 1 fact: Either Aguerro is too talented for this team or Forlan is doing naff all. Reyes does his bit, but he’s no Messi, neither is he a Ronaldo. So skills or dives aside, there’s only a limited amount of influence he can exert on this team, but how’s this for optimism: Quique Sanchez Flores expects the guillotine to fall down on his neck anytime, so technically he’s already in Zen.

You go down further where all the failed stories of this season lie (read Osasuna and their sacked manager), but this is where one finds a real success story in the form of Levante. Written off just a few weeks ago as a team already relegated and with nothing to lose, Levante have done the unthinkable in moving up a straight 10 places up the table in as many weeks. In the aftermath of the triple whammy (facing Real, Barca and Valencia back to back and losing all three games),they have taken 20 points out of a possible 27 in their last 9 matches, defeating illustrious opponents like Villarreal & Espanyol on the way. For a team whose players have always had to face not being paid on time, La Liga’s cheapest team is doing rather well. When all was lost, Luis Garcia started some psychology training sessions for the team, making the players fall down into their team mates’ arms from an elevated position to improve trust, hanging cutouts of the team’s limited successes in the dressing room, making a song with the entire team for their fans and the likes. The treatment has quite evidently worked and the kind of success the team is enjoying compared to the investment and the shoe string budget that it is run on is nothing short of a miracle. Talking of miracles, La Liga’s perennial mid-table team Deportivo are lounging alarmingly close to the drop zone with another mid-tabler Almeria already in the red zone, partnered by Hercules who started brilliantly claiming Barcelona’s scalp at the Nou Camp no less, but whose players have now lost any kind of motivation they may have had after not being paid for an extended period of time and being treated to an excessive overdose of mismanagement and unfounded criticism from those running the club. When it comes to mismanagement, another club, Malaga comes to mind. The moneybags from Gulf could not help prevent Malaga from reaching the drop zone, but it is that time of the year in Spain when monetary promises are made to fuel motivation and the club owners’ “€40,000 per point managed and between €80,000 and €100,000 if the side reach a tally of 45” is enough for the club to start ticking once more.

In other news, the LFP and RFEF are trying to grab the Spanish government by the balls by trying to postpone games in April; the purported reason being that the big two need more time to rest and do well in European tournaments, the real reason being they are losing out on a lot of cash because of the government’s legal requirement in having one Free-to-Air game every weekend and less percentage received in betting and lottery, which the LFP and RFEF quite obviously endeavor to change. The timing is sweet because the big two will definitely throw their weight around in support of the LFP in times of this fixture pile up and therefore the real reason behind LFP’s clever ploy would go unnoticed (certainly not when it comes to special bloggers like Yours Truly). The big risk here is that La Liga might end up being dragged till June, which means lesser time to convalesce for the next season, but the LFP is not bothered about it seeing as they’ve long been the bastion of inefficiency.

…Er well that’s that. To quote Steve Martin from The Pink Panther, “Let me bring you up to speed. We know Nothing. You are now up to speed”


Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails