Monday, May 21, 2007

Weekend in Spain before Vacationing in Athens

Sunday was a fun day to plunk in front of the television and watch Spanish football. Eleven AM (EST) had Sevilla’s come-from-behind victory, followed by Real Madrid’s strange (but phenomenal) win and finally Barcelona’s destruction of Athletico Madrid in the late game. Real Madrid stays in front but level with Barca on points with Sevilla (and others) only a hairsbreadth behind.

Readers know I am a Real fan, so that is the game I watched the closest. The turnaround the team has produced in the last two months has been quite remarkable; it got to the point in yesterday’s game when, after Recreativo tied the match with less than four minutes to play, I honestly believed Real would come back to win it. This is from a team that, when I watched them mid-winter, would genuinely surprise me when they scored a goal.

I’ve been though a lot with Real in their up-and-down year. At one point, after a particularly embarrassing loss, I tried a new gimmick of giving each of the players a “grade” as a way of expressing my frustration with the team. (See the January 7 entry of the blog.) I remember that game clearly but it seems a long time ago now. The feelings of rage and frustration while watching Real play have been replaced by a very hopeful optimism.

Regardless, we are essentially where were last week. Real, Barca, and Sevilla all still have a perfectly good shot at the title. After looking poor for weeks, Barca manhandled Athletico, just a few days after Xavi essentially told the media that the Barca players have stopped trying. What we are left with, then, is another fun weekend coming up and a wide-open race.

Below please find the link to Phil Ball’s latest column, where he discusses conspiracy theories and the sordid underbelly of la Liga. Yikes.

Finally, I will be posting predictions tomorrow for the Champions League final. Mostly I am hoping for a good game. There have been a few “big games” this year that haven’t really lived up to the hype, and I’m hoping we have a classic.

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