Okay, Valencia were always going to have a tough task overcoming the newly minted PSG, whereas Madrid, Barça and Malaga probably felt that their respective draws were kind enough to act as open doors to the quarter finals. The first leg, however, put pay to this view. First Madrid, then Malaga and the Barça all either drew at home or lost away and suddenly the London late Spring cash bonanza at Wembley seemed a long way off.
Not so. Madrid went to Manchester, played well, had a smidgen of good fortune and came away winners – a season saved. This week Barça and Malaga entertained Milan and Porto respectively. The Italians of ill considered barnets and the portuguese of overly sweet fortified wine had two and one goal leads that, one suspects, may have allowed for a little bit of complacency to creep into their games. Crazy Fools! Barça ended up doing to Milan what they themselves did to Barca all those years ago in the European Cup final of 1994, and Porto were undone by Isco – or Francisco I – to give you Marca’s pontification.
So Spain have three teams in the quarters the rest are spread between Germany with FC Bayern and Dortmund, France with PSG, Italy with Juve whilst the Tunnel Committee will have to reconvene as Galatasary lead the Turkish charge.
There’s more action tonight and the chance of Spain extending it’s power in Europe (not a sentence you’ll ever find in many places these days) with Levante aiming to get a result at
Ruben Gonzalez, sorry Rubin Kazan.
Back to the league. Friday’s opening tussle pits best of friends, Galicias Depor and Celta at the Riazor. This would probably be curtains for the home boys should they lose although Celta would take a draw and aim to crawl out from their own personal hell another day. Expect lots of shouting and high numbers of Bobbies from Spain’s charming riot police.
Saturday at four and we may see the impressive La Real sneak into the Champions League positions. Valladolid, may have something to say about that but I’d plump for a home win. Getafe – no strangers to a Euro dash themselves – then lie in wait for Athletic. Such is the Basques roller coaster form it’s difficult to call an outcome here but Getafe may have a little too much for them.
Real Madrid then take on Mallorca in the Bernabeu. Form, talent and class would usually suggest a home win here. And form, talent and class are correct. And the evening is rounded off with Betis travelling to Valencia. Sixth plays seventh as both are back to form. Should be a cracker and I’ll go for a high scoring away win for no other reason than I can ‘feel’ it. Spooky.
Malaga then take on Espanyol. Depending upon Which Malaga turn up it will either be a home or away win. Anything could happen. It could even be a draw. Sevilla then welcome a Zaragoza team who have managed to dawdle and display a considerable amount of sloth in the past few weeks and now find themselves dangling by a two-point thread above relegation. For their part Sevilla are a little on the slothful side, but will presumably be looking to change all that lest their deadly sin get spotted by the new Pope; said to be austere, a champion of the poor and wedded to a five man midfield with two holding players and a big bloke up front.
Osasuna entertain an Ateltico team who are now playing catch-up. This is a bit of a make of break game for Los Colchoneros as any further points slippage would consign them to third, with a tougher Champions League group lying in wait. Nine o’clock – one our less in the islands – sees a double header when Granada look to pull away from the plug hole against Levante who may be a feeling a bit Trans European Expressed by then – they usually lose or draw after Europa League games.
The second, and final match of both the coupling and the weekend sees Rayo in buoyant mood. They’re virtually assured Primera Liga action for next season and their fantastic coach, Paco Jemez looks certain to sign a new contract. Those little tit-bits are the silver lining and the cloud in question – a big, bruise coloured arse shaped bugger coming their way and called – duh, duh, duuuuuuhhhhh, Barça.
That’s that. Enjoy. Que tengais un buen fin de semana. Hasta el lunes.