Monday, May 05, 2008

La Liga 2007-2008....May The Least Bad Team Win

Someone had to put this year’s Liga out of its misery. Only a late burst of consistency from Villareal in their bid to grab an automatic spot in next years Champions League had meant that Real Madrid’s celebrations had to be postponed. They had Cibeles in Madrid all set up (i.e. protected against vandalism) last week for the possibility that Madrid would claim the title, but Villareal refused to lose. Then they had to take it all apart for the Dos de Mayo celebrations at the weekend only to put it back up again for last night; fortunately the club has to pay for this rather than the city administration.

I was listening to last night’s game on the radio and they said that when Osasuna took the lead in the 82nd minute that all the workers in Cibeles started celebrating because they assumed that they wouldn’t need to stay up until 3 in the morning for the victory celebration. Some of the fans who were gathered there started to leave; I wonder when they found out that their team had scored two late goals to win the game? With the game against Barcelona coming up on Wednesday Madrid are now afforded the satisfaction of facing their greatest rivals as champions. Barcelona have lost the same number of games as Madrid, but find themselves way behind because they have drawn many more. Whatever else I might think about this Madrid team, and I don’t rate them very highly, you have to say that last night they showed that sometimes you just need to look up, see the goal, and go for it. If Barcelona had followed that example in a few games they might not be submerged in such a profound crisis now.

The season isn’t over yet, there are three games still left to play but all that is at stake near the top is the battle for the Champions League places; Barcelona will see it as beneath their dignity to have to play the qualifying rounds of the Champions League but they have their work cut out to catch Villareal, who deserve credit for being the only team in the end to make any kind of challenge to Madrid. Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid are currently claiming the fourth spot although they could still lose it to Sevilla or this season’s revelation, Racing Santander. The main drama for Barcelona is going to be taking place off the pitch as the great clearout marks the likely end of the Rijkaard era. The players were whistled as they came onto the pitch yesterday and even putting 6 goals past Valencia is nowhere near enough to calm their supporters, too little too late.

The main action now will take place at the bottom of the table where Osasuna, Recreativo, Zaragoza, Valencia, Getafe and Valladolid are separated by just 2 points. One of these teams is going to be relegated and with Valencia playing Zaragoza on Wednesday there is no reason to assume it will not be one of the “big” teams. I would be most sorry to see Getafe go after their heroic run in the UEFA Cup. Both Zaragoza and Valencia could have been top six finishers if it were not for catastrophic management of the clubs combined with tantrums on the part of some of their players. It’s been an odd and largely disappointing season, almost tension free as all of the possible contenders for the crown ended up failing to live up to their potential. Real Madrid, champions by default….again.


leftbanker said...

Can you explain to me how Barça couldn´t score a single goal against Man U. (they barely took a shot the second game) and then score 6 against my hapless (and rudderless) Valencia? I am only thankful that I didn't have the energy to leave the house to watch the game on Sunday.

Maybe you can take some time off work and coach Valencia next season?

Graeme said...

Perhaps it's because Man U know how to defend? Interesting suggestion on taking charge of Valencia, I'm not sure if I'm really cut out for the coaching side of things but in Valencia that doesn't seem to matter very much. They would have to pay me bucketloads of money and then sack me after 2 months - sounds quite an attractive option.