Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Piece Of The Copa Del Rey For Everyone

Real Madrid's victory over Barcelona in last night's Copa del Rey final has almost been eclipsed by the manner in which Sergio Ramos chose to celebrate the victory; dropping the cup under the wheels of the team bus. It's a fairly safe bet that he doesn't get asked to wash the champagne glasses when he's at home. We assume that the country's top trophy repair experts were awakened in the early hours of this morning.

Madrid won the game, but they didn't do it in a way that puts their style of play on a par with Barça's. A scrappy, bad-tempered first half was the result of Madrid playing to disrupt the natural style of their opponents. All of which is quite legitimate, but the story it tells is that of a team which does not regard itself as the equal of Barcelona. The important thing for Mourinho's team in the last few days has been to shake off the trauma of that 5-0 hammering in the Camp Nou earlier in the season. The second half saw Barça dominating but without managing to find a way past a Madrid team that was by now playing to win the game on a break or on penalties. At least the game was decided in open play. The only goal that hasn't come from the penalty spot in the 210 minutes of play between the two teams over the last few days.

It's strange this year to see so much attention focused on the cup, normally it's regarded by Spain's big two as a minor distraction from the the hunt for more significant trophies. With the league almost certain to be won by Barcelona it could still be the only title that Real Madrid win this season. The second wave of meetings between the two teams comes with the Champions League semi-finals where a defeat for either team will certainly be regarded as a failure. Madrid's cup, or what remains of it, will be viewed as meaningless by their supporters if Barça put them out of the Champions League. Mourinho, who is clearly not happy in Madrid, will need something more to show than the Copa del Rey if he's thinking of walking away bragging of another successful project. Barça fans will be equally upset if Mourinho foils their Champions League hopes for a second consecutive season.

It's more than a bit dreary the way in which the games between the same two teams are dominating the season, it's the principal reason why I'm not interested in blogging much about Spanish football any more. Scotland on the Med is becoming more and more the name of the game here. Almost completely overshadowed by the massive coverage of the ill-named "clásicos" was the news yesterday of the likely buy out of Getafe by investors from Dubai. We are starting to see in Spain a similar model to that which is happening in the UK where wealthy sugar daddies take over a club which they evidently have little interest in other than as a platform for their business or personal interests. The problem is that the current economic model of top flight football means that the vast majority of clubs are doomed to be in permanent financial crisis. The fans may be excited when they get a flashy new owner who pays off some of the debt and maybe buys a star or two. But then when that owner loses interest in his new toy...


ejh said...

the story it tells is that of a team which does not regard itself as the equal of Barcelona

Well maybe, but Mourinho has always concentrated more on how to combat the opposition's strengths than how to attack. Everybody knew that when he was appointed, and in part it's because he did that so well against Barca last season that he got the job.

I would find it very hard to stay interested in Spanish football if they took it off terrestrial television. I don't live where there's a club I can seriously follow, so if I can't see it on telly on a Saturday night then I can't really feel connected to it. Which would be a shame. I dislike the duopoly immensely but when I see a game between two other sides, I normally enjoy it.

I missed the first hour yesterday, so I didn't see Real dominate the first half. But I thought they weathered Barca's domination pretty well, and after they scored, they were never going to concede. And that's always been Mourinho's real strength.

Pueblo girl said...

"Yawn" ;-)

Except for the accident with the cup. I enjoyed that.

Tumbit said...

Well let's see what happens tonight. I predict 0-1 to Barcelona, for no other reason that I have a 120 Euros bet riding on it.

Graeme said...

You must be more distraught about Messi's second goal than the Madrid fans?