Monday, May 29, 2023

Champions and losers

 Both the Premier League and the Bundesliga ended this weekend. 

In the Premier League we already knew that Manchester City won the league ahead of an Arsenal side that had it all until the last stretch. Liverpool were close to catch Manchester United, but the Manchester side did well in its last stretch and even made it to third place, while Liverpool stayed fifth and will only play the Europa League next season. In the meantime, Newcastle's Arab investment paid off and on fourth place the old club full of traditions will be in the Champions League next season. Birghton is the other big surprise as they will be playing Europa League next season, after taking sixth spot.

The biggest disappointment in my view is in terms of relegation: two big clubs, Leicester and Leeds are being relegated. Leicester only seven years after winning the league in one of the biggest sensations of all time.

I hope both sides will return soon.

The Bundesliga had no champion until the last round, and it all looked set for Borussia Dortmund to take the title from Bayern Munich. All the had to do was win at home to Mainz. Alas, it didn't work. They were down 0-2, missed a penalty, and only managed to equalize in the dying seconds. In the meantime, Bayern Munich was playing Cologne; also needing to win, Jamal Musiala gave them the winning 2-1 goal in the 89th minute, and with that the 11th Bundesliga title in a row, in a league that is evermore onesided.

No league football for a while now....

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Spanish racism

Vinicius Jr., the splendid Brazilian stiker from Real Madrid, has again been victim of racial abuse from fans, most recently against Valencia. This has prompted him to come out with some harsh words about Spanish fans and football authorities, accusing them openly of racism.

He is probably right.

I have been to many games in Spain, and I am sorry to say that my impression is that there is an incredibly high tolerance for racist and xenophobic abuse than in other countries. This does not only includes openly racist chants as the ones that have been used against Vinicius, but certainly also xenophobic chants against South Americans or other nationalities. In a society already stratified by regional divisions, one can discuss the reasons behind the behavior, but the only truth is that it is wrong, and that a player like Vinicius Jr. should never be subject to these insults. And this is where the Spanish football authorities are acting so pathetically: it seems that the only solution they propose is “we have reported the case to the authorities”, when the real solutions must be to stop the matches, award the three points to the away team, and then let them play without spectators.

There is no other way from stopping this shit from happening, and they should take action.

Monday, May 22, 2023

Tragedy at Cuscatlan

 Catastrophes happen too often in football, still today in the 21st century, and sometimes they happen close to where you are. I have been to the Estadio Cuscatlan in San Salvador a couple of times so I know it is a bit old with some bottlenecks. It was thus with shock that I heard that Saturday night, at the match between Alianza and FAS, in an overcrowded stadium, 12 people died and more than 100 injured from a stampede early on in the match. Authorities appear to have been relatively quick to act, but serious and justified questions are being asked about how this could happen.

It happens too often and too often authorities do not really  act on it. I hope that this will lead to increase securities so that the wonderful Salvadoran fans can continue enjoying their football safely.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Real demolition

Although Manchester City were probably slight favourites against Real Madrid in the second leg of the Champions League semifinal, it was somewhat of a surprise that the English side was in fact far superior to the defending champions. 

High pressure, possession and passes, and only Thibaut Courtois saved the Spaniards from only being behind 2-0 at halftime, on two goals by Bernardo Silva. One would have expected Real Madrid to hit back in the second half, but they basically proved powerless against the continued pressure and a total midfield dominance by Manchester City (in particular Rodri was brilliant). Manuel Akanji made it 3-0, while Julian Alvarez sealed it to 4-0 shortly after coming on for Erling Haaland. 

Manchester City will face Inter Milan in the final on June 10th in Istanbul, and are surely favourites to take their first Champions League title. Inter Milan nevertheless looked strong in their defeat against their local rivals from AC Milan, and it is bound to be an exciting and closely fought final.

Friday, May 05, 2023

Napoli champions!

Napoli have had an extraordinary season, and finally today, five games before the end of the league, Napoli are sure to win their third Serie A title ever, and the first time they win without one Diego Armando Maradona on the team... 

One point against Udinese was enough after Victor Osimhen equalized Udinese's early lead. Napoli are 16 points ahead of Lazio, and cannot be overtaken.

Manager Luciano Spalletti has had an extraordinary season, with a fantastic side which I hope will not be purchased out next season. All in all, Italian football is undergoing a resurgence, with two teams in the Champions League semifinals, and such a fantastic Napoli side.

Personally, I am delighted for Napoli, whom I have always considered my darling Italian side!!! Forza Napoli!!!

Thursday, May 04, 2023

Manchester City on the way

 Arsenal has had a great season under Mikel Arteta, and for a long time have been leading the Premier League, which they have not won since 2004. But for the last month mighty Manchester City have been edging closer to the top as Arsenal's run started to falter, and last week Manchester City edged much closer when they defeated Arsenal 4-1 in Manchester, and with two games less than Arsenal, took all cards to get the title into their own hands.

Today they took the first ace in the race to win the title, when they defeated West Ham 3-0, with goals by Nathan Aké, Phil Foden, and mighty Erling Halland, who already has 35 goals, the most in a Premier League season (and surely it will be a few more). With five games to go, and four for Arsenal, Manchester City appears likely to win the title, and also being in the FA Cup Final (where they will face Manchester United) and still in the run for the Champions League (where they will face Real Madrid), it appears that this could still be the greatest season for Pep Guardiola's team.