Spanish Scene

El Clasico the Game of the Millenium – the case for hoping the better team wins

When Marca, the daily Spanish football paper, claimed that the El Classico game to be played on 10th April between Real Madrid and Barcelona is the game of the Millenium it may have been guilty of slight hyperbole but in truth it is indeed the most eagerly awaited game of this first century of the third millennium.

As the GGW article “Right is Might” showed, Real Madrid and Barcelona are the two richest clubs in the world. Barcelona are the current World Club Champions as well as the reigning Spanish Champions. The new Real Madrid President Florentino Perez who in his previous reign took Real Madrid to Champions League glory determined on his election in June 2009 that he would restore Real Madrid to their rightful place as the number one club in the world. He backed that desire up with over 250 million euros as he recruited world class stars like Cristiano Ronaldo., Kaka, Benzema and Xabi Alonso, as well as Spanish internationalists Albiol and Arbeloa and the promising Granero. He brought in a new Manager, Manuel Pellegrini, who had been successful in 5 years at Villarreal in turning that small town club into one of the top ranked and most entertaining teams in Europe.

Perez expected this massive investment to put an end to Barcelona’s dominance in Spain and Europe. He already knows that his dream of winning the Decima, the 10th European Cup of Real Madrid, in their own stadium the Santiago Bernabeu on 2nd May 2010 has been thwarted with Real Madrid eliminated by a determined but hardly outstanding Lyon side. Incredibly it was the 6th year in a row that the world’s mightiest club, or at least its richest, had been eliminated in the first knockout round of the Champions League. His club were also humiliated in the Spanish Cup by a third division team, 4-0 away from home, so all that is left to win this season is La Liga.

Across Spain more people will be supporting Real Madrid than Barcelona in this Clasico clash. In the most reliable of the several estimates of Real Madrid support in Spain they would appear to have over 13million Spanish fans to the 10 million of Barcelona.

However outwith Spain, and remember it is estimated that the game will be broadcast live to around 180 countries in the world, the balance of support will be strongly tipped the other way in favour of Barcelona.

GGW research has established beyond doubt that around 99% of Celtic supporters will be hoping not only that Barcelona win but that despised Real Madrid are once again humiliated like they were last season. Incidentally Spanish bookmakers are offering 140-1 against a repeat of last year’s 6-2 victory by Barcelona and have Madrid as narrow favourites to win. The shortest score bet is a 1-1 draw.

(continue reading…)

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Red Angels dance on a pinhead

Philosophical question number one “When is a defeat not a defeat?” Answer(provided by FIFA) “When it is a penalty shoot-out loss after a draw”.
When a team draw1-1, play extra time and lose 2-1 then clearly the result of that game is a defeat not a draw. But apparently according to FIFA when a team draws 1-1, play extra time and are still level then move onto penalty kicks and lose, that is not a defeat but a draw. Or to put it another way, can the one game of football have a winner but no loser? According to FIFA the answer is yes.
The relevance of this exotic conundrum has excited Spanish minds this week. First the Spanish national team at the Confederations Cup set an undisputed world record for 15 successive international match victories. They also seemed to beat the old Hungarian record, set by the Wunderteam of the 1950s. This Hungarian team that famously for Scots humbled England twice, went 34 games without defeat before losing in the 1954 World Cup Final, the classic case of bad timing. (continue reading…)

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Barcelona finally emulate Celtic

Pep Guardiola and his Barcelona side have finally joined a select club started by Jock Stein and Celtic in 1967. This club is restricted to trainers whose team win the big one, the European Cup or Champions League, as well as their own domestic double of League and Cup. The Ajax of Cruyff, Neeskens and Rep, coached by Stefan Kovacs were the next club to join, in 1971-72. It would be another 16 years before a further member was admitted when Guus Hiddink’s PSV Eindhoven achieved the feat in 1988. In 1999 Alex Ferguson became the second Scot to join when Manchester United achieved their treble. And not until this year has a fifth member been admitted when Guardiola achieved it in his first season as a top class manager.

While Jock Stein’s Celtic also won the League Cup and the Glasgow Cup that incredible season, the normal European pattern of having only the League and Cup to compete for, will ensure that only the domestic double is needed to apply. With only 5 members in over 53 years of the European Cup/Champions League, it is clearly a very exclusive club and ensures the Big Man will always be in exalted company. It can never be taken away from Stein and the Lisbon Lions that they were the first team ever to achieve this remarkable treble. (continue reading…)

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