I have preiviously been accused of being anti-Spanish so I’ll be careful with my words this time. But what is it with Spain and Northern Ireland? The Irish knocked them out on their own turf at World Cup ‘82 and since then the Spanish have struggled against them. During the Euro 2004 qualifiers, a 0-0 draw at Windsor Park effectively handed the group to Greece. Then last night Spain lost 3-2 thanks to a David Healy hat-trick. Fans are now calling for the head of Luis Aragones. In a poll on Marca almost 80% of the c. 145,000 voters said that el sabio de Hortaleza should quit. The question is whether there is anyone better to replace him. Maybe they should appoint Pepu Hernandez, coach of the World Championship winning basketball team. He at least managed to get a talented bunch of individuals to function as a unit.
Archive for the 'Spain' Category
Manchester United are apparently interested in 6 Juventus players: Gianluigi Buffon, Gianluca Zambrotta, Patrick Vieira, Fabio Cannavaro, Emerson and Lilian Thuram. Alex Ferguson said, “We were waiting to see what the situation with Juventus was. Now we know in which direction to go in terms of inquiries and, possibly, definitive offers for one or two players“.
However, according to AS, Ferguson may be too late for at least three of these. Real Madrid’s Sporting Director Predrag Mijatovic is in Turin to finalise the signings of Cannavaro, Emerson and Zambrotta. He will meet with Juve officials tomorrow to negotiate the final price - Juve are asking for €40 million and Real’s current offer is €30 million for all three. Mijatovic may also pick up Cristiano Zanetti, a favourite of Capello. These players may be joined at Real by Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Kaka.
To add a further twist Zambrotta’s agent says that his client would rather stay in Italy with AC Milan his destination. He may be joined there by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who Carlo Ancelotti believes is the ideal partner for Alberto Gilardino.
Inter have had a €38 million bid for Fernando Torres rejected by Real Madrid. Torres is also wanted by Manchester United to replace the outgoing Van Nistelrooy. But new coach Javier Aguirre has insisted that Torres is not for sale. Marseille chairman Pape Diouf has issued similar statement regarding World Cup star Franck Ribery.
Javier Saviola’s agent has said that his client will either stay at Sevilla or move to Panathinaikos after Arsene Wenger declared yesterday that he was not interested in signing the player. Saviola spent last year on loan in Seville from Barcelona who are keen to offload the Argentine. Other players on the way are Jared Borgetti from Bolton to possibly Racing Santander and Liverpool duo Jan Kromkamp (a PSV target) and Djimi Traore who may go to Bolton or Charlton.
Finally tow players who completed moves today were Holland’s Denny Landzaat who joins Wigan from AZ Alkmaar and Croatian World Cup playmaker Niko Kranjcar who is moving to Celta Vigo from Hajduk Split.
In an interview with Greek sports newspaper Protathlitis, Brazilian legend Rivaldo, who has spent the last two years in Greece with Olympiakos, said that this year will most likely be his last in the game because he was, “tired of playing so many matches and of so much pre-season training“.
In truth Rivaldo’s career has been in decline since his glory days at Barcelona in the late 90s when he helped the Catalan giants to successive championships and also won World and European player of the year. He was part of the fearsome 3R attacking trident at the 2002 World Cup along with Ronaldo and Ronadinho. He then moved to Milan but never managed to reproduce his Barca form. After a brief stint in Brazil he returned to Europe and the promise of the Champions League with Olympiakos. However like compatriot Giovanni, Rivaldo seemed to find the Greek football dull. He performed when he had to - in Europe and in the derby matches against AEK and Panathinaikos. This would buy him enough time with the fans who would then ignore his mediocre games against teams like OFI, Kallithea or Egaleo when it was obvious he could not be bothered. However, even in his better games with thrilos he was a shadow of the player we all knew. Let’s face it, if he wasn’t, he would not be playing in Greece. So well done Rivaldo for finally bowing out while we can still remember your undoubted qualities! For those of you that can’t, here’s a taste of Ribo at his peak: his hat-trick goal in the 88th minute at the end of the 2000-2001 season which guaranteed Barcelona Champions League football:
Following, Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s announcement that he wants to leave Manchester United, speculation is mounting as to his next destination with Bayern Munich and Real Madrid leading the race for his signature. According to El Mundo, Real may offer partyman and part-time footballer Ronaldo in part-exchange for the prolific Dutch striker, as the Brazilian does not form part of Fabio Capello’s plans…
Rumour Rating: Unlikely! Ronnie is fat and injured. His knee operation will keep him out for at least a month, giving him plenty of time to work on his waistline by downing a few more burgers. The Premiership is fast and furious while Ronaldo is slow and immobile. The two don’t match! On top of this, we can’t really see Alex Ferguson, who sold David Beckham because he felt that his love of the celebrity lifestyle was getting in the way of his football, welcoming O Fenomeno, Brazil’s answer to Becks. Finally if it’s partying you’re after, you’d have to be crazy to swap Madrid for Manchester…
Ramon Calderon triumphed in yesterday’s vote to take over the presidency of Real Madrid following Florentino Perez’s resignation following the faillure of his “galacticos” project. Calderon, Marca’s preferred candidate will now install former striker Predrag Mijatovic as his Director of Football. As has become the tradition in Spanish club presidential elections, Calderon promised he would deliver some big signings if elected: Juve coach Fabio Capello, Arjen Robben of Chelsea, Cesc Fabregas of Arsenal and Kaka of Milan. Whether these signings materialise remains to be seen. Barcelona’s Joan Laporta was elected on his promise of delivering David Beckham, who ended up signing for Real…..
Well almost! The legendary 16th century monk, who successfully predicted the tragic events of 9/11 among other things, also made the following prediction:
“…at the end of the sixth month of the sixth year [of the new millenium] the King of Spain with his army shall cross the Pyrenees and shall defeat the forces of Beelzebub in the planes of Central Europe and shall return to Spain victorious with the holy chalice…“
Spanish media have interpreted this statement as follows: the “king” is coach Luis Aragones, the “army” is the Spanish World Cup squad and the “chalice” is the World Cup itself. So if you are backing any other team you might as well forget it. Spaniards your years of underachievement are over!
Spain’s failure at a major tournament is one of those things we can all rely on. Following the uncharacteristic 4-0 drubbing of the Ukraine, the Spanish press was filled with articles and comments from football experts assuring fans that this time it was different. Apparently tonight’s opponents had admitted that Spain were going to make it to the final, come what may, as had Michael Ballack according to Marca.
Tonight, however the euphoria almost evaporated as Spain struggled to beat Tunisia. Trailing to an early goal from Mnari, Spain only managed to turn the match around in the last 15 minutes following the introduction of Fabregas and Raul. Raul got the equaliser and the vastly overrated Fernando Torres got the other two. His first came from a great pass from Fabregas and a poor decision from goalie Boumnijel. His second was a badly struck penalty which squirmed into the net somehow.
The final score flatters the Spaniards and no doubt Marca will continue to whip up the hysteria. Tunisia are hardly a superpower. Spain to win the World Cup? Dream on…
In footballing terms, the Spanish and English national teams have litle in common. English sides are famous for their fighting spirit, their workrate and, traditionally, their long-ball game. In contrast the Spanish are known for their flair, and trickery. However, there are two traits which both countries share. First, both only have one major title to their name. England (as we are constantly reminded) won the World Cup in 1966. Spain won the the European title in the 1950s. Second, despite having only ever won one national title, the press and public of each are notoriously good at overhyping their chances of success and, ultimately blaming someone else when defeat inevitably occurs. This type of attitude makes you will them to lose, everytime they play.
Many England fans, fuelled by the flames of the tabloids believe that their country has almost a divine right to win the World Cup. After all the English invented the game. Yet when England lose a crucial match, it’s rarely because the team or players are not as good as the public is lead to believe, no, no - it’s because there are dark forces conspiring against them. At France 1998 England the culprits were Diego Simeone “he got Beckham sent off!” and referee Kim Milton Nielsen “he fell for Simeone’s trick” and “disallowed Sol Campbell’s goal“. If England had superior players to the workmanlike David Batty they may have fared better. At Euro 2004 it was referee Urs Maier who disallowed a late “winner” again from Campbell. Most Englishmen who failed to spot John Terry’s foul on the Portuguese goalkeeper, Ricardo and forget that Portugal were far superior to an England team which contained Emile Heskey..(enough said).
When I went to work in Spain, I thought that the English superiority complex could not be surpassed. Much to my surprise, it was. A recent article in World Soccer, sums up the position:
“Spain’s superiority complex is matched only by their inferiority complex. They’re convinced they use the ball better than anyone else, that teams such as England lack subtlety, while teams such as Italy lack beauty. There is a sense that victory by any means other than neat passing football is illegitimate, but they are equally convinced that fate, or some dodgy plot,will conspire against them…whisper it quietly, maybe they just haven’t been good enough.”
So which of the two is the most hyped at Germany 2006? Without Wayne Rooney, England look ordinary up front - Crouch prowls the pitch with a speed that snails would be proud of and Owen has lost some of his sharpness through injury. In midfield, Gerrard rarely delivers in an England shirt. At the back, the error prone Rio Ferdinand believes his own hype.As for Spain, they struggled in hardly the toughest qualifying group. Fernando Torres is not, as Spaniards want us to believe, a world class forward. The midfield is also lightweight in the absence of Ruben Baraja and in defence Sergio Ramos has had a poor season with Real Madrid and looking nothing like an £18 million defender.
My prediction? Spain to go out in the second round and England to make the quarter-finals at best.
Mariano Pernía has replaced the injured Asier Del Horno in Spain’s World Cup squad. There were strong calls for Pernía to be included in the original squad following his storming season with Getáfe which earned him a transfer to Atlético Madrid but the 29 year-old Argentine was only recently granted Spanish nationality and coach Luis Aragones resisted the temptation to pick him, claiming he wanted to reward the squad that had ensured Spain’s qualification.
Chelsea fans will be wondering how Del Horno can be first choice for Spain. He has endured a hugely disappointing season which culminated in him being humiliated to such a degree by Lionel Messi in the Champions’ League that he earned himself a sending off with a rash challenge. Even allowing for “Chelsea inflation” his £8 million transfer fee seems excessive…
In contrast Pernía’s 10 goals this season is a Spanish League record for a defender, and with shooting like this, Spain fans are probably breathing a collective sigh of relieve that he rather than Del Horno will be lining up in the first group game against the Ukraine on 14 June.
A quick summary of today’s transfer stories:
Spain: Atlético Madrid completed a triple swoop today with the signing of Argentine teen sensation Sergio Agüero from Independiente and Giourkas Seitaridis and Costinha from Dynamo Moscow. The three new signings follow hot on the heals of the signings of naturalised Spaniard Mariano Pernía from Getafe and new coach Javier Aguirre who miraculously guided Osasuna Pamplona into next season’s Champions’ League. The long suffering fans will be looking for a significant improvement from their team in the new season - Atléti was Madrid’s third best team this year even finishing behind minnows Getafe. A lot will depend on whether talismanic forward Fernando Torres stays and how much time Aguirre is given to stamp his mark; Atlético’s board has a notoriously itchy trigger finger..
England: Champions Chelsea announced the signing of Salomon Kalou from Feyenoord. Kalou who hails from the Ivory Coast was one of the hottest properties in Dutch football. Van Basten was desperate for him to gain Dutch citizenship so that he could take him to the World Cup. This would have lead to the curious situation of two brothers playing for opposing countries (elder Bonaventure stars for the Ivory Coast). Whether Kalou can be successful in the Premiership remains to be seen. Mateja Kezman joined Chelsea from PSV with a great goalscoring reputation but barely registered in the Premiership and is now rebuilding his career at Atletico Madrid where he still misses more than he scores.
With Shevchenko expected to join shortly and rumours about Carlos Tevez, there must surely be doubts over the future of both Hernan Crespo and Didier Drogba who are unlikely to want to spend too much time on the bench.
Andrew Johnson joined Everton from Crystal Palace in an inflated £8.6 million deal. Johnson features regularly as a non-playing member of the England squad. His reputation is largely built on one good Premiership season a couple of years ago when he finished with 21 goals, many of which were penalties. Boss David Moyes will be hoping that Johnson can reproduce this form rather than mirror that of new strike partner James Beattie, who was signed on the back of a prolific season with Southampton but has since struggled to find the net.
Spanish newspaper Marca is reporting that Lionel Messi may join Real Madrid following the club’s elections for a new president later this summer. The report says that two presidential candidates are ready to pay Messi’s €150 million buy-out clause to capture the most exciting talent in world football for Los Merengues. Apparently Messi’s family are unhappy with Frank Rijkaard’s decision not to play Messi in the Champions’ League final and are ready to negotiate with Barça’s arch enemies.
There is a history of presidential candidates of both clubs promising to buy superstar players as part of their election manifesto. The most audacious move to date was Florentino Perez’s promise to take Luis Figo to Real Madrid which he delivered in a €37 million deal in 2001. Figo was greeted by shouts of “pesotero” (mercenary) and select items such as pigs’ heads and whisky bottles from Barça
fans upon his return to the Camp Nou.
More recently Barcelona’s Joan Laporta promised to deliver David Beckham if elected. The promise spectacularly backfired when Beckham joined Real, but ironically Laporta must be grateful to this day as instead he brought in the more talented Ronaldinho who has been the catalyst for Barcelona’s success.
At footballspectator we believe the move is unlikely. Messi is still recovering from injury and likely to miss Argentina’s first match in the World Cup so could not have played in the Champions’ League final anyway. Secondly, Marca is notoriously rife with outrageous speculation. For example, on the day that Thierry Henry signed his extension with Arsenal, Marca’s headline read that Arsene Wenger would become Real’s new manager and would convince Henry to follow him to Madrid. Finally, as the unofficial “voice” of Real Madrid, Marca enjoys winding up Los Cules.