El Balonazo’s Week 33 Review – La Remontada

by Back Page Football

Hutton MallorcaLa Remontada.

Literally, it means remount – much like a flat pack IKEA thing that you unwisely decided to put up after coming back from the pub and turned into a piece of cubist art, or foolishly getting back onto a crazed horse that has just expressed it’s displeasure of your company. But to those anglophones amongst us know it as one thing; the comeback.

Scribbling away, as I am, in unseasonably damp and chilly Cadiz, one would think that thoughts of comebacks might be constrained to the geographical centre and the north-east of the country, but even the local newspapers in this corner of the kingdom are awash with tales from the future. And that future, which paradoxically started last Tuesday, is now being ramped up in a media frenzy that will cumulate/terminate definitively at around 11:30pm on Wednesday night.

And what pearls of wisdom does the font off all knowledge, Marca and its Catalan cousin, Sport, have to offer? What is to become of our footballing darlings Leo and Cristiano? Will the umlaut heavy pairing of Herr Özil and the FC Bayern bound Dortmund wunderkind, Götze cancel each other out? Can Bavarian Sorcerer Jupp Heynckes (pictured above during his playing spell at Borussia Dortmund) again trounce the ex-beau of his callow apprentice, Pep Guardiola?

Well don’t ask us, we don’t know either. If we did the entirety of April’s take would have been on an all German clash in a few Saturday’s time in north-west London. It may be that Madrid do the same to Borussia Dortmund as a previous Blanco incarnation once did to Inter when they came to visit the Bernabeu a quarter of a century ago. Three goals to one to the good from the first leg, they departed defeated and out of the tournament. It may be that Barcelona remember to not play long, high balls in the general direction of the stunted Leo Messi all night, especially when renaissance man mountain Dante is in the vicinity. And it just may be that the respective referees grant a couple of favours in the direction of the home teams.

The eagle eyed amongst you will have noted that there were more maybes in that paragraph than a political manifesto – and that’s too many for us to sway on the side of Iberian glory, I’m afraid.

Before all that Euro nonsense had us sidetracked, I was pondering on La Liga and it’s latest contribution to the cardiac degeneration of those wizened beasts who stalk the technical areas like a condemned man fearing one thing – RELEGATION!

In fourteenth, Athletic are probably safe. A home draw against a wound licking Barcelona served to put them within a single win of safety and with five games to get to the magical forty, this shouldn’t be beyond them. Below Los Leones on 33 points sit Osasuna who have a two-a-piece draw away at Rayo to thank for their three point gap over the Doomed of Eighteenth.

Granada are a point behind Osasuna on 32 after a particularly creditable one nil away victory over Espanyol, and now find themselves a point ahead of a resurgent Depor team who grabbed a fine away point to Betis on Monday night and now proudly call seventeenth birth home. Or the last seat on the lifeboat.

And then we’re into The Pit. No, not Edgar Allen Poe’s Pit, or even some sort of early nineties Seattle inspired mosh-pit of grunge. We speak of the dark place where hope has deserted, the suns rays are flaccid and points never seem to arrive. Except when they do and this season is one of those exceptions. In eighteenth sit Celta Vigo having won eight, drawn six and lost nineteen the last of those wins being the three away points they bagged at Levante last weekend. With exactly the same (un)vital statistics are a battling Zaragoza side who turned over bottom placed Mallorca in a three-two thriller at the Romadera.

All of this leaves Mallorca two points adrift at the bottom yet only five points behind Osasuna in fifteenth. And they way the the relegation dog fight has been developing over previous weeks, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that La Liga could arrive at it’s final station in five weekends with all three drop spots to be determined.

At the top, Barca could have won the league ‘on the plane’. They’ve won it like this before amidst scenes of high-altitude joy and some sort of ill-advised aisle samba. This weekend it was not to be. Athletic did for the Catalans in the Cathedral with a battling performance, whilst Real Madrid went to their local rivals on the river and had the game wrapped-up by two goals to one before half time. Barcelona will have to content themselves with the Championship in front of their own fans this coming weekend.

The Madrid derby keeps the two main capital teams in second and third respectively whilst the battle for fourth – and that all important Champions League spot – seems to have swung in favour of Real Sociedad who hit their nearest rivals, Valencia, for four with two in reply. The result gives La Real a five point cushion over both Valencia and a flailing Malaga side who finally got themselves some points, courtesy of Getafe. A side note to Malaga’s season is the uncertainty over not only their non-existent oil billions which has seen them expelled – pending appeal – from all of next seasons UEFA tournaments, but a potential exodus of playing staff starting with the manager himself who appears to be the subject of talks with none other than oil billionaires, Manchester City. Time will tell, but there must be some sort of black gold themed metaphor I can use to illustrate the irony here? Answers on a postcard…

In seventh position, four points adrift of Malaga and Valencia sit Betis. They’ll aim to bother those above them until the maths says ‘no se puede’, whilst in eighth Rayo will need the sort of finish that wins titles – Formula 1 titles.

That’s the top and bottom. What about the spongy middle?

This seasons contest for the inconsistent award comprises; Geta started too late and petered out early. Espanyol, who after a dreadful autumn must see mid-table as a blessing. Sevilla, who seem to have been playing end-of-season bore draws from September onward. Lastly are a Valladolid team who were going great guns until only a few weeks ago and have slipped a little – still good for a first season in the big time though so no reason for dropping heads. Coincidentally, the last two pitched up in Castille to play one another last weekend and, you’ve guessed it, managed a goal and a point each.

That’s it. Barca to win the league next weekend to put the icing on the cake after hitting FC Bayern for six? Madrid to field a Junior squad after their mid-week heroics against Dortmund? Alan Hutton to bag a hat-rick and single handedly lift Mallorca out of the relegation zone? The Pulitzer prize for Sporting Written excellence landing in a third-rate blog from Madrid? It could all happen*

Until next week

*But it probably won’t.

By El Balonazo // Twitter

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