El Balonazo’s Week – Submarine Rising

A sometime raucous, sometime nervy yellow tide did their bit to successfully propel the submarine back to the surface. Jonathan Periera’s fifty fifth minute strike was just enough to see Villarreal claw their way back into La Liga only a year after a heartbreaking, last minute relegation. The opposition, Almeria, chased for an unlikely brace but it never came and they now find themselves in one of the play-off semi-finals against Las Palmas. So at least they’ll get a holiday.

The other semi sees Girona pitched against Madrid outfit, Alcorcon. The first legs of both games are scheduled for Wednesday night followed by a bit of Saturday night fever with the two legged final the following week. Unlike the English Premier League, the Spanish play-off’s tend to be lower key affairs without a definitive final and the press screeching about the pot of dosh that awaits the winners.

At the other end of La Segunda there’s a bit of confusion. What we know for certain is that Xerex and Huesca will be joined by Racing in Segunda B next season – or do we? The identity of the fourth team to drop will be decided in the courts, as last week the LFP decided to automatically relegate Guadalajara for – inevitably – financial irregularity. Should the sentence get passed – and  it is an ‘if’ – then the main beneficiaries will be Murcia. Just to really over complicate that picture, both Lugo and Mirandes have now been threatened with relegation for failing to turn the clubs into Sociedad Anonima Deportiva, or SAD, as the all too telling acronym would have it.

Far be it for me, a lowly T-Shirt peddler, to make suggestions to those wise heads at the LFP on how to deal with these issues, but surely if neither Lugo or Mirandes adhered to the rules prior to the start of the season, then perhaps they shouldn’t have been granted entry in the first place? That would have saved them both the effort and expense of competition and saved us all a situation where, theoretically at least, relegation could be applied only to the team finishing absolute rock-bottom.

Prudent financial overview, pre-determined and multi-laterally agreed controls…

Nah, that’ll never catch on.

In other news, Real Madrid and Juventus played out a friendly for some charity or another and, as one of the seventy thousand in attendance, I can only say I shan’t be returning. The Old Dames of Turin decided to turn up and try and defend whilst the Madrid crowd were heartily booing some of the decisions made by guest ref, Pier Luigi Colina.

Now, I’m no stalwart of these events – the last one I saw was Slough Town versus a showbiz eleven captained by Dennis ‘Terrence’ Waterman – but surely the point is to cast off the restricting shackles of a league campaign, have a bit of a laugh with the opposition and try and score as many goals as possible to entertain the paying public. Sadly, it was not to be as the Italians did their best to evoke the spirit of Helenio Herrera and push the attacking team into the overmanned middle and hit them on the break, whilst some elements of the crowd – when they weren’t busy doing that limp-wristed Gangham Style pony trot thing – were calling for bookings and raging against the opposition. As I mentioned, I won’t be returning.

Finally, for those of you that have been dwelling somewhere really remote without access to Barak Obama’s Orwellian GPS tracking device for the last week, Jose the Intolerant has left the Madrid hot seat and is now ensconced in a comfy palatial number at Chelsea. It’s his ‘spiritual home’ you see.

The vacant chair – the one that King Herod sat on, probably – at the Bernabeu is gathering dust but if rumours are true, they’ll be an Italian bottom planted there in short order. Whilst this is all going on, Marca – the gospel of footballing truth – is telling anybody who’ll listen that Gareth Bale is busy checking out the EasyJet and Ryan Air websites for flights to Madrid. One hundred million euros is the figure being mentioned, although if history is any guide, the Bernabeu negotiation squad will have that whittled down to, oooooh, eighty five million before you can say, ‘Don’t you know there’s a recession and people may not take kindly to these obscene amounts of cash being bandied around for one footballer?’. Just a thought.

Not to be left out, and as reported here only last week, Barca didn’t want to be outdone on the profligacy front and signed one time teenage sensation Neymar from Santos for a reported fifty million euros. His unveiling – HAIL ALL – took place in front of fifty thousand people massed into the Camp Nou one afternoon last week. Haven’t they got ANYTHING better to do with their time? Apparently not.

By El Balonazo // Twitter

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